415) Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore!
Robert Penn Warren Star Papers: Subtleties of Book Buyers (1855) [B16]
416) OHNOSECOND - That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake, such as accidentally deleting your e-mail address book in a non-recoverable way.
Elizabeth P. Crowe "The Electronic Traveler" quoted by Gareth Branwyn in "Jargon Watch" Wired (6/94)
417) We never should have sought either solace or moral instruction in Nature, who was not made for us, or even with us in mind, and who existed by her own rules for billions of years before we arrived. Better to learn a stern truth about marvelous multifariousness (and cosmic indifference to us) than to persist in a myth of warm cuddliness or intrinsic harmony that might channel proper attention from our bodies and minds (true humanism) as the source of ethics and value. [...] Darwin's revolution remains incomplete [...] until we face the cosmic insignificance that our own evolution truly implies - thus liberating us to grasp the deeply human meaning of our lives and most curious brainpower.
Stephen Jay Gould "The Power of This View of Life" Natural History magazine (6/94)
418) We learn to love by falling in love, as one learns to dance by dancing.
419) [Jonathan] Grudin's Law: When those who benefit are not those who do the work, then the technology is likely to fail or, at least, be subverted.
Donald A. Norman Things That Make Us Smart (1993) referring perhaps to Jonathan Grudin "Social Evaluation of the User Interface: Who Does the Work and Who Gets the Benefit" (1987)
420) Only the most advanced animals are capable of true, cooperative social behavior. Sure, insects are social animals, working together to enhance the survival of the group. But this is unplanned, unintentional. Our cooperation is intentional and planned. We even devise governmental and legal structures to ensure its continuance. The result is that most of us live in complex, cooperative societies, where the combined efforts of the group far exceed the capabilities of any individual. Yes, there are rivalries and feuds among individuals and, at times, deadly wars between competing societies, but these do not change the fact that our social cooperative efforts are an essential part of human civilization. This is how we weather the elements, get through famine and flood. This is how we develop knowledge and education, formal methods of schooling that allow each generation to benefit from the lessons of the previous generations. We succeed so well at survival that a considerable fraction of our time goes towards the pursuit of enjoyment in the arts, literature, sports, and entertainment. No other animal has such luxury or ability.
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 745 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.
You know when you tell a lie, a big lie, one that has to be maintained for a long period of time, things can sometimes get confusing and the truth just slips out without any intention on your part? Well, that's what seemed to have happened to the Republican's incoming House Minority Leader John Boehner today, commenting on the transfer of power to Nancy Pelosi. Boehner starts out okay according to this account, giving the big lie:
"In 1994 when we took control of the House, 12 years ago, it wasn't that — we wanted to treat Democrats the way we had asked to be treated. And, frankly, that's what we did.[...]
Now this, of course, is entirely untrue, in fact the complete reversal of the truth. While there may well have been some dissing of the GOP during the Democratic control of the House, what the Republican did when they took over is, basically, to act as if the Democrats didn't exist, and if they existed, they certainly didn't matter in any way. They squashed the Democrats underfoot.
So having started out to promulgate the big lie, Boehner continues, but gets a bit muddled, and the truth just slips out, accidentally:
[...] What we really expect out of the Democrats is for them to treat us as they would like to have been treated,"
Exactly, the Republicans want to be treated not as they actually treated the Democrats in reality, but as the Democrats would like to have been treated, but weren't.
Maintaining those big lies over the course of time takes a lot of energy and concentration, and I get the feeling the Republicans are feeling just a little enervated just now. We should keep our eyes and ears peeled for more slips like this.
412) Although there is a great deal to be learned from the plague of AIDS, the lessons it teaches lie in the realms of science and society, and certainly not within the purview of religious elucidation. We are dealing not with a punishment but with a crime - one of those random crimes that nature now and then perpetrates on its own creatures. And nature, as Anatole France reminds us, is indifferent; it makes no distinction between good and evil.
[...] How can one begin to make sense of this affliction? No wisdom has been discovered, no lesson revealed. AIDS as a metaphor, AIDS as an allegory, AIDS as symbolism, AIDS as jeremiad, AIDS as a test of mankind's humanity, AIDS as an epitome of human suffering - it is these kinds of lucubrations that consume the intellectual energy of moralists and litterateurs nowadays, as though something good must at any cost be salvaged from this foul scourge. But even history fails us; analogies with past plagues are always found wanting.
Sherwin B. Nuland How We Die (1993)
413) Dogma, certainly without evidence, is the great menace, the great nemesis, of art, of religion, of politics, of economics, of philosophy, of how to write articles for magazines, of just about everything that we do and think. Dogma is a great ossifier of mind and of imagination, of all creativity. It is an integral part of human nature, being our laziness's answer to the strain that goes with thinking. The only qualification in science's favor - not that it doesn't have dogmas, because certainly it does, loads of them - is that its dogmas tend to collapse in a heap a bit more readily than those you find in art, religion, politics, and the rest. If you have a scientific dogma and it's discovered that according to it 1+1 ≠ 2, this often means you're in trouble. (Not always, as quantum theory shows us.) Whereas in politics you can hold on to your dogmas on that basis for decades, in religion for centuries. In psychoanalysis, 1+1 ≠ 2 is a genuine advantage.
Ralph Estling "The Scalp-Tinglin', Mind-Blowin', Eye-Poppin', Heart-Wrenchin', Stomach-Churnin', Foot-Stumpin', Great Big Doodley Science Show!!" Skeptical Inquirer (Summer 1994)
414) The majority of grade-school textbooks in whatever discipline use the reductionist style [...] When I read these texts, no matter how hard I try to concentrate, the idea generally escapes me. Why? Because the style is overly simplistic. Attempting to make sure that no single statement is unclear, the textbook utilizes sentences that are simple in structure, that is, they contain only one main cause. Of necessity, sentence after sentence begins with the same subject. Ideas, in effect, are placed next to each other without their relationships being signaled by normal sentence connectives. What is absurd about such writing is that the attempt to make writing simple actually makes it much harder to comprehend. Grade school texts are, for the most part, unreadable [...] The more we condescend to students and stoop below their levels to make sure they don't miss anything, the more we bore them and destroy their motivation to learn. It is time we stopped writing textbooks as if every student were a moron who could not take in more than one piece of information per sentence. Why? Because the method does not work. The condescension to students' abilities and the lowering of expectations leads to high scored and confirms "success," but few graduates are competent, as employers readily know.
Frank Reuter "The Synthetic Mind Clashes with the Reductionist Text" Skeptical Inquirer (Summer 1994)
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 746 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.
409) O.J. [Simpson] was so graceful, so ingratiating that it was easy to forget how he got here, a ghetto gang leader, a high school, junior college, major college Alpha male who had learned to knock down anything in his way. He was a prince of jock entitlement [...] Even the rougher-edged sports stars in the American Powerboy rankings [...] are given too many social waivers. But a stylish pleaser like O.J. Simpson has to be accused of murder to get critical attention.
Robert Lipsyte "Behind the Easy Smile, O.J. Was Hard to Read" New York Times (6/19/94)
410) I just hope [the potential writer of an "instant book" on the O.J. Simpson case] understands that unlike [Jeffrey Dahmer and the Menendez brothers], Simpson is a true American hero, having become (A) a great football player, (B) a sportscaster, (C) an actor in several bad movies, and (D) the spokesperson for a car-rental agency. Not to mention that he had a gorgeous blond wife.
Steve Lopez "In a frenzy to feast on O.J." Philadelphia Inquirer (6/19/94)
411) The most striking feature of [the public and media obsession with the O.J. Simpson story] has been the endless search for portent and meaning [...] In the past, you could luxuriate in a horror without insisting that the horror, or your luxuriating, was an index to the state of American life and belief. [...] We, as Americans, no longer believe in the integrity of events; that is, we are no longer able to accept events at their own value - horrifying or funny or just sordid - but we must see them as episodes in a drama, by some unknown author. [...] Nobody could have foreseen that life in the global village was actually going to be like life in a village, and we would turn to the glinty-eyed shamans to explain all that spooky stuff we just saw in the fire. What used to be called, pre-Geraldo, the "primitive mind" was mired in the belief that memorable events are always significant: the comet looms in the sky, and kingdoms must fall; the river floods, and the gods are angry. [...] To look for meaning where only sensation resides is to put an end to rationality.
unknown "Comment: Don't Mean Diddly" The New Yorker (7/11/94)
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 747 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.
I don't believe that Tolkien, who was politically conservative and a devout Catholic, would have shared my political or personal philosophies, but nevertheless over the many years I have been reading him (over 35 years now since I first read The Lord of the Rings) I have derived a great deal of pleasure, and comfort, from his writing -- and I believe I share that with many others on my side of the cultural divide.
After years of living in a country that is on the brink of ruin thanks to right-wing misrule, I look forward to the day that this passage, from The Return of the King, will be appropriate for us:
'A great Shadow has departed,' said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known.
It's hard to feel that kind of unbridled joy when all around you the world is going to hell in a handbasket, when you can see every day the effects of the mistakes, incompetence, corruption and malfeasance of our rulers -- it's put a real damper on life, in my experience. Nevertheless, throughout this continuing crisis, Tolkien has been there as a source of both inspiration and consolation.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
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.