Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Photography: Santa Fe Mailboxes

click to enlarge

Daryl Samuel (1995)

Location: Art District, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Previous: Hands With Softball / On Alcatraz / Cameras / Lighthouse / Photographer At Work / Patio Chairs / Greek Church

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/29/2006 01:03:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe

My recent sparse posting has been for a reason, namely the workshop production of Bertolt Brecht's play (with music by Hanns Eisler) The Roundheads and the Pointheads which we're putting together while in residency at Cornell:
The rehearsal space is littered with black metal folding chairs, wooden poles, and cardboard signs boldly announcing locales like "CAFÉ," "FARMLAND," and "HOLY CROSS PRISON." There's a wooden door frame on a rolling mount, and [David] Gordon stands inside it. "So here's the door...." As Gordon begins blocking a scene, Ed Fitzgerald, his long-time stage manager, runs around with the café sign, tucking a chair under an actress as she begins to sit, anticipating Gordon's choices within milliseconds.

(That's me, mom!)

The play has a lot of relevance for our times, since it's about a country where, to control the people and the deficit, the leaders set half of the population (the native "Roundheads") against the other half (the immigrant "Pointheads") in internal warfare. Once that gambit works, sights are set elsewhere:

Now, we must campaign for peace -- no anemic peace, however, but a manly peace. Across the sea is a nation whose heads are squared. ... We must reach out with generous force -- and anyone who speaks against our type of peace we will call unpatriotic.

Sounds sorta familiar -- and I think it's permissible to say without transgressing Godwin's Law that Brecht wrote the piece in response to Hitler's actions in Germany.

One of the best lines in the play, though, has nothing to do with politics. The Madam of the town's "cafe" tells a weathy young lady who must sacrifice her virtue to save her brother's life:

Men break their promises, dear. If they didn't need us around for the next time, they'd probably kill us afterward.

(The text we're using is based on the 1935 N. Goold-Verschoyle translation as edited and adapted by David Gordon.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/28/2006 10:00:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Sayings

152) We take things apart in order that they may become the Buddha, and if that seems too Oriental an idea for you [...] remember the early Christian Gnostic statement "Split the stick and there is Jesus."
John Cage
Indeterminancy (story #19) (1959)

153) Cleave wood, I am there; lift a stone, you will find me there.
from The Gospel of Thomas (c. 90), Saying 77,
quoted by Burton L. Mack in
The Lost Gospel of Q (1993)

154) The Devil is in the details.
[Note: Bartlett's 16th Edition (1993) gives God is in the details as an aphorism popular with architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and art historian Aby Warburg, attributed without citation to Gustave Flaubert; Ralph Keyes says that Admiral Hyman Rickover was fond of saying The devil is in the details, and everything we do in the military is a detail, and cites Barbara Wallraff from Your Own Words (2004) as noting that Ross Perot's use of the "devil" variant of the expression in the 1990's marked increased general usage. Keyes concludes that the expression (in either form, God or the Devil) is proverbial. [QV]. This is supported by [YQ], which lists the "devil" form as a "modern proverb" and gives as the first known citation the Times of London (7/8/1969).]

155) The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
William Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice (play) I,iii,99 [B15]

156) The Gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.
"Phrixus", fragment 970 [B15]

157) No good deed goes unpunished.

158) Those whom God would destroy He first makes mad.
"Fragment" [BPF & B15]

159) Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.
Cyril Connolly
Enemies of Promise (1938) [OM]

160) Everything has an end.
Masai saying [B15]

161) Caveat emptor [Let the buyer beware].
Proverb [B15]

162) Cave canem [Beware of the dog].
Proverb [B15]

163) De gustibus non disputandum [There is no accounting for tastes].
Proverb [B15]

164) Errare humanum est [To err is human].
Saying [B15]


[B15] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th edition (1980)
[BPF] - Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Cent. ed., rev. (1981)
[OM] - The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991)
[QV] - The Quote Verifier (2006), Ralph Keyes
[YQ] - The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), Fred R. Shapiro, ed.

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 845 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/28/2006 09:30:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

(3089/898) Atomic

148) Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
quoting from the Bhagavad-Gita
on the occasion of the Trinity
atomic bomb test (7/16/45)
quoted by Richard Rhodes in
The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986)

149) Now we are all sons of bitches.
Kenneth Bainbridge, physicist,
on the occasion of the Trinity
atomic bomb test (7/16/45)
quoted by Richard Rhodes in
The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986)

150) In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin, and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
"Physics in the Contemporary World",
lecture at M.I.T. (11/25/47)
published in the
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (3/3/48)
quoted by Thomas Powers in
Heisenberg's War (1993)

151) It is clear that the use of this weapon [the hydrogen fusion, or "super", bomb] would bring about the destruction of innumerable lives; it is not a weapon which can be used exclusively for the destruction of material installations of military or semi-military purpose. Its use therefore carries much further than the atomic bomb itself the policy of exterminating civilian populations.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Report of the General Advisory Committee
of the Atomic Energy Commission
quoted by Thomas Powers in
Heisenberg's War (1993)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 846 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/27/2006 11:54:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

(3089/898) Technopoly 3

146) Those who resist the American Technopoly are people
  • who pay no attention to a poll unless they know what questions are asked, and why;

  • who refuse to accept efficiency as the pre-eminent goal of human relations;

  • who have freed themselves from the belief in the magical powers of numbers, do not regard calculation as an adequate substitute for judgment, or precision as a synonym for truth;

  • who refuse to allow psychology or any "social science" to pre-empt the language and thought of common sense;

  • who are, at least, suspicious of the idea of progress, an who do not confuse information with understanding;

  • who do not regard the aged as irrelevant;

  • who take seriously the meaning of family loyalty and honor, and who, when they "reach out and touch someone", expect that person to be in the same room;

  • who take the great narratives or religion seriously and who so not believe that science is the only system of thought capable of producing truth;

  • who know the difference between the sacred and the profane, and who do not wink at tradition for modernity's sake;

  • who admire technological ingenuity but do not think it represents that highest possible form of human achievement.
Neil Postman
Technopoly (1992)

147) A family that does not or cannot control the information environment of its children is barely a family at all, and may lay claim to the name only by virtue of the fact that its members share biological information through DNA.
Neil Postman
Technopoly (1992)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 847 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/26/2006 12:32:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, September 25, 2006

(3089/898) Technopoly 2 - Scientism

145) The first and indispensable idea [of "Scientism"] is [...] that the methods of the natural sciences can be applied to the study of human behavior. This idea is the backbone of much of psychology and sociology [...] The term "science," as it is generally used today - referring to the work of those in the physical, chemical, and biological disciplines - was popularized in the early nineteenth century [...] By the early twentieth century, the term had been appropriated by others, and it has become increasingly familiar as a description of what psychologists, sociologists, and even anthropologists do [...] this is a deceptive and confusing use of the term because it blurs the distinction between processes and practices. [...] Using definitions proposed by the British philosopher Michael Oakeshott, we may say that "processes" refers to those events that occur in nature, such as the orbiting of planets or the melting of ice or the production of chlorophyll in a leaf. Such processes have nothing to do with human intelligence, are governed by immutable laws, and are,so to say, determined by the structure of nature [...] By "practices," on the other hand, Oakeshott means the creations of people - those events that result from human decisions and actions, such as writing or reading this book, or forming a new government or conversing at a dinner or falling in love. These events are a function of human intelligence interacting with environment, and although there is surely a measure of regularity in human affairs, such affairs are not determined by natural laws, immutable or otherwise. In other words, there is an irrevocable difference between a blink and a wink. A blink can be classified as a process; it has physiological causes which can be understood and explained within the context of established postulates and theories. But a wink must be classified as a practice, filled with personal and to some extent unknowable meanings and, in any case, quite impossible to explain or predict in terms of causal relations.

What we may call science, then, is the quest to find the immutable and universal laws that govern processes, presuming that there are cause-and-effect relations among these processes. It follows that the quest to understand human behavior and feeling can in no sense except the most trivial be called science. [...] The status of social-science methods is further reduced by the fact that there are almost no experiments that will reveal a social science theory to be false. Theories in social science disappear, apparently, because they are boring, not because they are refuted. But, as Karl Popper has demonstrated, science depends on the requirement that theories must be stated in a way that permits experiments to reveal that they are false. If a theory cannot be tested for its falsity, it is not a scientific theory - as, for example, Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex. Psychiatrists can provide many examples to support the validity of the theory, but they have no answer to the question "What evidence would prove the theory false?" Believers in the God theory (sometimes called Creation Science) are silent on the question "What evidence would show that there is no God?" [...] [S]carcely anyone believes today that Freud was doing science, any more than educated people believe that Marx was doing science, or Max Weber or Lewis Mumford or Bruno Bettelheim or Carl Jung or Margaret Mead or Arnold Toynbee. What these people were doing [...] is documenting the behavior and feelings of people as they confront problems posed by their culture. Their work is a form of storytelling. Science itself is, of course, a form of storytelling too, but its assumptions and procedures are so different from those of social research that it is extremely misleading to give the same name to each. In fact, the stories of social researchers are much closer in structure and purpose to what is called imaginative literature [...] Their interpretations cannot be proved or disproved but will draw their appeal from the power of their language, the depth of their explanations, the relevance of their examples, and the credibility of their themes [...] there is nothing universally and irrevocably true or false about these interpretations. There are no critical tests to confirm or falsify them. There are no natural laws from which they are derived. They are bound by time, by situation, and above all by the cultural prejudices of the researcher or writer [...] Unlike science, social research never discovers anything. It only rediscovers what people were once told and need to be told again [...]

In most [...] respects, social research has little in common with science, and much in common with other forms of imaginative literature. Yet social "scientists" have consistently sought to identify themselves, and in more than name, with physicists, chemists, biologists, and others who inquire into the lawful regularities of the natural world. Why students of the human condition should do this is not hard to explain. The great successes of modern times [...] have come in medicine, pharmacology, biochemistry, astrophysics, and all the feats of mechanical, biological, and electronic engineering, made possible by the consistent application of the aims, assumptions, and procedures of natural science. These successes have attached to the name of science an awesome measure of authority, and to those who claim the title of "scientist" a similar measure of respect and prestige.
Neil Postman
Technopoly (1992)
citing F.H. Hayek
The Counter Revolution of Science:
Studies on the Abuse of Reason

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 848 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/25/2006 09:20:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Capsulizing Sullivan

OK, I seem to be into doing snippets lately. Here's one from August J. Pollak at
Andrew Sullivan, the man who has been absolutely wrong about everything for the last four and a half years.

Seems right to me.

[via Atrios]

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/25/2006 02:05:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


This amuck time

Matthew Yglesias:
Bush, Cheney, and those around them remind me of Nietzsche's line about staring too long into the abyss. They've become transfixed, hypnotized almost, by the evils they believe themselves to be fighting. Obsessed to the point where they've clearly developed an admiration for the brutal methods, ruthless dishonesty, and utter secrecy with which the enemies of liberalism conduct themselves.

But these things they're so eager -- determined, really -- to cast aside aren't frivolous luxury to be abandonned in times of peril. They're the very essence of what makes our system of government work. They're what makes it worth preserving, as a matter of ethics, but also as a matter of practice vital to the preservation of our way of life. Liberal democracy isn't a fluke occurrence that just so happens to have survived despite its drawbacks. It's actually a superior method of organizing a state. The idea that the country is being run by people who don't understand that is sad and frightening. The idea that the very same people claim to be embarked upon a grand mission to spread our system of government around the world is like a horrible tawdry joke, but doubly frightening in its own way.

I've said before that a study of the psychology (or should I say abnormal psychology?) of Cheney in particular would be fascinating. If only we weren't being forced to live through the horrors of what they're doing to us and the world at large, this hideous amuck time they've created.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/25/2006 12:15:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Kevin Drum:
Fear is the conservative's friend, never the liberal's.

Too true, I'm afraid, but it's odd to me that those of the religious right don't have their fears quelled by their religious beliefs. Is it possible that there's a dichotomy about religions, with some having an authoritarian basis fostering fear and anxiety, while others provide comfort and good feelings? I'm not knowledgeable enough about religions to know if that's true or not, or to know if that dichotomy (if it exists) is coextensive with the split between conservative religions and liberal ones.

So for the Democrats, I suppose the trick is to find a way to calm people's fears without resorting to the authoritarianistic tactics of the right-wing.

The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear: I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. When the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Frank Herbert
Dune (1965)

Nah, wouldn't work, too esoteric.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/24/2006 10:55:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Technopoly 1

143) Of all the disciplines that might be included in the curriculum, semantics is certainly among the most "basic." Because it deals with the processes by which we make and interpret meaning, it has the great potential to affect the deepest levels of student intelligence. And yet semantics is rarely mentioned when "back to the basics" is proposed. Why? My guess it that it cuts too deep [...] [it has] the capability of generating critical thought and of giving students access to questions that get to the heart of the matter. This is not what "back to basics" advocates usually have in mind. They want language technicians: people who can follow instructions, write reports clearly, spell correctly ... [Semantics] helps students to reflect on the sense and truth of what they are writing and of what they are asked to read. It teaches them to discover the underlying assumptions of what they are told. It emphasizes that manifold ways in which language can distort reality. It assists students in becoming ... "crap detectors."
Neil Postman
Technopoly (1992)

144) The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.
C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters (1943)
quoted by Neil Postman in
Technopoly (1992)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 849 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Note: I had inadvertantly been using the wrong formula for figuring the number of days left in the Bush administration, so my number was high by 1 day. Beginning with this post, I've corrected that error.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/24/2006 01:24:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Rockies don't rock

Those who have read my previous posts about the Colorado Rockies (here, here, here and here), who decided that being an overtly Christian baseball team was the pathway to baseball success, might be interested to know that yesterday they were mathematically eliminated from both their division and the National League wild card race.

The Rockies' management can perhaps take heart from the fact that they'll finish better than last year, when they ended up winning 67 games and losing 95. Since they're right now 72 and 82 with 8 games left to play, they've improved their record by at least 5 games, which could be taken as empirical proof that being a professed Christian baseball team with lousy baseball strategies is marginally better than being a plain old baseball team with lousy strategies.

Of course, they might also consider the possibility that the religious beliefs of baseball players have zip to do with their baseball abilities, and drop the whole misbegotten idea next year.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/24/2006 12:58:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
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Here I am...
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10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
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02/17/2008 - 02/24/2008
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03/16/2008 - 03/23/2008
03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008
03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008
09/21/2008 - 09/28/2008

search websearch unfutz

Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
2005 koufax awards


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2004 koufax winners
2003 koufax award
"best blog" nominees
the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


take all you want
but credit all you take.

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