Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Photography: Sand Tracks

click to enlarge

Daryl Samuel

Location: St. Pete Beach, Florida

Previous: Hands With Softball / On Alcatraz / Cameras / Lighthouse / Photographer At Work / Patio Chairs / Greek Church / Santa Fe Mailboxes / Rocking Horse / Sunset Sandpiper / Hands / Bird of Paradise / Feeding the Pelican / Sunset Silhouette / Staircase / Mallards / Masts / Greek Column / Paddlewheel / Olive Trees / Madison Square Park in the Snow / Pagoda / Ferry

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/19/2007 12:09:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, January 18, 2007

(3089/898) Quips and wisdom

482) Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Woody Allen
interview [B16]

483) What we've got here is ... failure to communicate.
Cool Hand Luke (film, 1967)
novel by Donn Pearce
screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank R. Pierson
directed by Stuart Rosenberg
spoken by the character "Captain"
played by Strother Martin [B16]

484) It's deja vu all over again.
Yogi Berra
comment on Mickey Mantle
and Roger Maris hitting
back-to-back home runs (c. 1961)

485) You can observe a lot by watching.
Yogi Berra
remark, while managing the Yankees, to
players who weren't paying attention (1964)

486) It ain't over till it's over.
Yogi Berra
remark while managing the Mets
during a pennant race (1973)

487) I'm made as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.
Paddy Chayevsky
Network (film, 1976)
written by Paddy Chayevsky
directed by Sidney Lumet
spoken by the character "Howard Beale"
played by Peter Finch [B16]

488) New York [...] has all the symptoms of a mind gone beserk.
Isaac Bashevis Singer
"The Cafeteria" in
Collected Stories (1986)
translated by Isaac Bashevis Singer
and Dorothy Straus [B16]

489) Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.
A.J. Liebling
"Do You Belong in Journalism" in
The New Yorker (5/14/60) [B16]
[Note: Cf. #773 Paine]
490) Political language [...] is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
George Orwell (Eric Blair)
Politics and the English Language (1946) [B16]


[B16] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 16th edition (1993)
[YB] - The Yogi Book (1998)

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 733 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/18/2007 01:17:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

(3089/898) Us and them

480) However useful the expression ["Third World"] may have been in the 1950s, when poor, non-aligned, and recently decolonized states were attempting to remain independent of the two superpower blocs, the rise of super-rich oil-producing countries a decade later already made it questionable. [...] [W]e need to recognize the differences that exist among non-Western economies. Some scholars now categorize five separate types of "developing" countries to help assess the varied potential of societies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. [...] Ravenhill's divisions are high-income oil-exporting countries; industrializing economies with strong states and relatively low levels of indebtedness (Taiwan, etc.); industrializing economies with state apparatus under challenge and/or with debt problems (Argentine, Poland); potential newly industrializing countries (Malaysia, Thailand); and primary-commodity producers (in sub-Saharan Africa, Central America).
Paul Kennedy
Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (1993)
referring to J. Ravenhill
"The North-South Balance of Power" in
International Affairs (v. 66 no. 4 1990)

481) [A]n economic giant, a political dwarf, and a military worm.
Description of the European Community by
a Belgian minister during the 1991 Gulf War
quoted by C.R. Whitney in
"Gulf Fighting Shatter Europeans' Fragile Unity" in
New York Times (1/25/91)
quoted by Paul Kennedy in
Preparing for the Twenty-First Century (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 734 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/17/2007 04:57:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

(3089/898) Language, lies, argument

475) [T]here are three characteristics of an act that tell you whether a lie has occurred or not: 1. The sentence is false; 2. The person knows it's false; 3. The person intends to deceive you. A lie just isn't just what's in the discourse; it's also in what's in the circumstances of the act of speaking, like the knowledge and intentions of the speaker. [...] [Linda] Coleman and [Paul] Kay went on [...] to find out which single condition was most important. The single most important condition, the one that tended to make you a liar more than anything else, was intent to deceive. The least important condition, the one that had the least effect, was whether the sentence was literally true or not.
Michael Agar
Language Shock (1994)
citing the research of
Linda Coleman and Paul Kay in
"Prototype Semantics: The English Word Lie" in
Language (v. 57, 1981)

476) There are two ways of looking at differences between you and somebody else. One way is to figure out that the differences are the tip of the iceberg, the signal that two different systems are at work. Another way is to notice all the things that the other person lacks when compared to you, the so-called deficit theory approach.

Number one types - Americans or any other - use the deficit theory. They're the best, anything else is less than the best, and anyone who would call into question who they are when they're already the best is a fool or a masochist or even, as they used to say in America before perestroika, a Communist. Ronald Reagan was elected, in part, on a wave of number-one sentiment.

The deficit theory does have its advantages. But it's a prison. It locks you into a closed room in an old building with no windows. It inoculates you against culture. You might tinker with the grammar and dictionary of a language, but you never communicate - except in terms of the world that shaped your attitudes, the language designed to fit your assumptions about what the world is and how it works, the native language you learned when you first stumbled around the house in diapers.
Michael Agar
Language Shock (1994)

POLITICIAN: (to black constituent) What is it about my campaign that appealed to you?
CONSTITUENT: The other guy wore a beard. I don't trust a politician with a beard.
HER DAUGHTER: I suppose you wouldn't have voted for Abraham Lincoln?
CONSTITUENT: Of course not, he was a Republican.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (TV series)
Episode 2.24: "His Two Right Arms" (3/4/1972)
written by Arnold Margolin and Jim Parker
directed by Jay Sandrich
spoken by the characters "Pete Peterson," "Mrs. Wilson" and "Sherry Wilson"
played by Bill Daily, Isabel Sanford and Janet MacLachan

478) POLITICIAN: I don't know if ecology isn't something that sounds good now, but in the future we'll be sorry we got into it, like Vietnam.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show(TV series)
Episode 2.24: "His Two Right Arms" (3/4/1972)
written by Arnold Margolin and Jim Parker
directed by Jay Sandrich
spoken by the character "Pete Peterson,"
played by Bill Daily

MAN (Michael Palin): This isn't an argument, it's just contradiction.
MR. VIBRATING (John Cleese): No it isn't.
MAN: Yes it is ... An argument isn't just contradiction.
MR. V: Can be.
MAN: No, it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
MR. V: (pause) No it isn't.
MAN: Yes it is. It's not just contradiction.
MR. V: Look, if I argue with you I must take up a contrary position.
MAN: Yes, but that's not just saying "No it isn't".
MR. V: Yes it is.
MAN: No it isn't! An argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
MR. V: No it isn't.
MAN: Yes it is!
Monty Python
(Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle,
Terry Jones and Michael Palin)
"Argument Clinic" from
Monty Python's Flying Circus (TV series)
Episode 3.03: "The Money Programme" (11/2/1972)
also from
Monty Python's Previous Record (record album, 1973)

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 735 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/16/2007 10:35:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, January 15, 2007

(3089/898) Gummint & democracy (and more Mencken)

464) Government is actually the worst failure of civilized men. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.
H.L. Mencken
Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956) [CQ]
[Note: cf. #870 Mencken]
465) Every country gets the government it deserves.
Joseph De Maistre
letter (8/1811) [CQ]

466) Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to young boys.
P.J. O'Rourke
Parliament of Whores (1991) [CQ]
[Note: How much worse, then, to have a government run by grown men and women who show less character, intelligence, patience, empathy and understanding of human nature than do most young boys and girls?]
467) Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
Thomas Paine
Common Sense (1776) [CQ]

468) I love government not least for the extent to which it leaves me alone.
John Updike
Buchanan Dying (1974) [CQ]

469) If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
James Madison
Federalist Papers (1788) [CQ]

470) Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken
Little Book in C Major (1916) [OM]

471) The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy.
H.L. Mencken
Notes on Democracy (1926) [CQ]
[Note: Quoted by Vice President Al Gore, 10/6/93]
472) Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Winston Churchill
in Hansard (11/11/47) [OM]
[Note: Perhaps the only things worse than having a government is have a corrupt and incompetent government, or else having no government at all.]
473) This is one of the paradoxes of the democratic movement - that it loves a crowd and fears the individuals who compose it - that the religion of humanity should have no faith in human beings.
Walter Lippmann
A Preface to Politics (1914) [CQ]
[Note: "I love mankind! [or "humanity"] It's people I can't stand!"

Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts (comic strip, c. 1965)
spoken by the character
"Linus van Pelt"]
474) Democracy is like blowing your nose. You may not do it well, but you ought to do it yourself.
G.K. Chesterton
quoted by Garry Wills in
"Read Polls, Heed America" in
New York Times Magazine (11/6/94)
[I have been unable to find a source for this quote by Chesterton, but it may be based on this:

The democratic contention is that government (helping to rule the tribe) is a thing like falling in love, and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly. [...] In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves--the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state. This is democracy; and in this I have always believed.

G.K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy (1908)]


[CQ] - The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993)
[OM] - The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991)

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 736 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/15/2007 10:32:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, January 14, 2007

(3089/898) H.L. Mencken - part 2

H.L. Mencken
457) Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.
H.L. Mencken
Chrestomathy (1949) [OM]

458) Conscience: the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.
H.L. Mencken
Little Book in C Major (1916) [OM]

459) Man is a beautiful machine that works very badly.
H.L. Mencken
Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956) [CQ]

460) Morality is the theory that every human act must be ether right or wrong, and that 99% of them are wrong.
H.L. Mencken
Chrestomathy (1949) [CQ]

461) To sum up: 1. The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. 2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. 3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride.
H.L. Mencken
"Coda" in
Smart Set magazine (12/1920)
reprinted in
Chrestomathy (1949) [CQ]

462) The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.
H.L. Mencken
Prejudices, Fourth Series (1924) [B15]

463) It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry.
H.L. Mencken
Notebooks (1956) [OM]


[B15] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th edition (1980)
[CQ] - The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993)
[OM] - The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991)

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 737 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/14/2007 10:21:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The rumor mill is grinding

[updated below]

dKos has a report about rumors that Obama will announce on Oprah this Wednesday.

Rumors are rumors are rumors ... This one doesn't seem to have all that much basis in fact -- there's a lot of tea-leaf reading going on. Still, if Obama enters the race, it makes things very interesting, doesn't it? I wonder how Hillary will respond?

Off hand, I'd say that Obama's entry would suck most of the oxygen out of the race and immediately clear the field of a bunch of non-starter candidates, like Vilsack, Richardson, Dodd, and Biden, but Hillary's got the big war chest which certainly gives her the resources she needs to make the run anyway.

I'd also say that an Obama entry will hurt Edwards significantly, since Obama will automatically take over the "feisty young buck/new hope for the nation" slot that Edwards is currently inhabiting.

As I think I've said here before, I still worry about a black man running for President in this country, but perhaps I'm wrong and this is the right time, with the voting public totally disenchanted with Bush and Cheney and Republicans in general. Maybe that will be enough to overcome prejudice and racism -- but is it really possible, at this time, to win the Presidency without winning a Southern state? (And yes, I think it is unfortunately a foregone conclusion that having an African-American as the candidate means that we will not win in the South.)

Update: A friend pointed me to the kind of stuff that the Republicans will use against Obama, and it's all very predictable -- the "Obama" card, the "Hussein" card, the Muslim card, the subtext (which they barely even bother to conceal) of his being black, all these things are going to be repeated over and over again. I hope that if Obama is planning on running, he's got a solid strategy for dealing with them, and immediately -- those kinds of scurrilous attacks will only work better and better if he doesn't kneecap them right now.

I'm sorry to say it's one of the things that concerns me about Obama running, that he provides quite a few affordances for the opposition's propaganda. Just think -- we thought that Kerry, as a war hero, was immune from the usual attacks used against Democrats as being weak sisters on defense issues, but the Republicans managed nevertheless to Swift Boat him in just that area. The Rove/Atwater technique is not to nibble around the edges, but go after their opponent's central attribute and attack it hard -- with Obama, that's just going to be so much easier, because of his names, his background and the fact that he's black.

That doesn't (and shouldn't) disqualify Obama from running, but it does give me concern. He's not likely to face that kind of vicious attack from fellow Democrats in the campaign for the nomination, so he may think that he doesn't have to deal with it until after he wraps it up, but he would be wrong -- he's got to deal with it right away so his counter-framing has time to become established and familiar.

Update: A friend of mine points out that Obama wrote an autobiography in which he talked about Kenya and his partial Muslim education, and so on, partly for the purpose of preparing for the kind of attacks that are represented by the link above. That's certainly true, but writing a book about it won't cut the mustard in terms of countering what's going to be out there in the wingnut blogosphere, on right-wing talk radio, on the pundit shows and in the mainstream media (which will inevitably take it up in the guise of reporting about the "controversy"). You can't just say that stuff once in a medium which isn't going to reach a lot of the people it needs to reach, you have to say it over and over and over again, just as the attacks will be made repeatedly, and you have to say it in words of one syllable in places that people will be exposed to it with regularity, until it (perhaps) has diluted and counter the charges.

That's why the idea of announcing on Oprah (if that's what he does), however treacly and sentimental it may get, is not only a fantastic idea in and of itself, since the clip will be shown on every possible program and on the Net, it's also a irreplaceable opportunity to hit back at the right-wing attacks on a show that real people actually watch. If he is going to announce on Oprah, I hope that every second word out of his mouth is one that counters those attacks, so that when they show the moment (as they will, over and over and over again) those countering explanations cannot be sliced away from the announcement by editors looking for the tightest possible sound bite.

[Thanks to Polly]

Update: The indispensible covers the Obama canard here.

Ed Fitzgerald | 1/14/2007 05:44:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
Here I am...
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...and never a bride, either!!

what I've been reading
Martin van Creveld - The Transformation of War

Jay Feldman - When the Mississippi Ran Backwards

Martin van Creveld - The Rise and Decline of the State

Alfred W. Crosby - America's Forgotten Pandemic (1989)
bush & company are...
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con artists
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without integrity

Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
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Island in the Sky (1952)

Robot Chicken

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03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
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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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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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