Quote of the day archive

  • May 10, 2011 #

    The rain drove us into the church–our refuge, our strength, our only dry place…Limerick gained a reputation for piety, but we knew it was only the rain.

    — Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes

  • April 21, 2011 #

    “‘Getting it on’ in Washington means killing a pint of Four Roses and then arguing about Foreign Aid, over chicken wings, with somebody’s drunken Congressman.

    — Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

  • February 19, 2011 #

    Diónos Dios una vida sola y tantas muertes?; de una manera se nace y de tantas se muere? [Has God given us a single life and so many deaths? People are born in only one manner but die in so many?]

    — Francisco de Quevedo, Los sueños [The Visions]

  • January 25, 2011 #

    Il y a seulement deux choses: c’est l’amour, de toutes les façons, avec des jolies filles, et la musique de La Nouvelle-Orléans ou de Duke Ellington. Le reste devrait disparaître, car le rest est laid, et les quelques pages de démonstration qui suivent tirent toute leur force du fait que l’histoire est entièrement vraie, puisque je l’ai imaginée d’un bout à l’autre [There are only two things: love, in all its forms, with pretty girls, and the music of New Orleans or of Duke Ellington. The rest should disappear, because the rest is ugly, and the pages of demonstration which follow take all their force from the fact that the story is completely true, because I imagined it from start to finish].

    — Boris Vian, L’écume des jours [The Foam of the Daze]

  • January 14, 2011 #

    When letters flamed triumphantly in the sky you felt, ah, that was the secret, this at last was it, this special telegram to God–Sunshine Biscuits. On and off it went, Eat Sunshine Biscuits, the message of the city.

    — Dawn Powell, Turn, Magic Wheel

  • December 22, 2010 #

    ?адо изображать жизнь не такою, как она е?ть, и не такою, как должна быть, а такою, как она пред?тавл?ет?? в мечтах [One must depict life not as it is, and not as it should be, but as it appears in dreams].

    — ?нтон Чехов, Чайка [Anton Chekhov, The Sea Gull]

  • December 20, 2010 #

    Bruk ikke det utenlandske ord: idealer. Vi har jo det gode norske ord: løgne [Don’t use that foreign word: ideals. We have a good Norwegian word: lies].

    — Henrik Ibsen, Vildanden [The Wild Duck]

  • November 25, 2010 #

    Het zyn alles leugens, die je alleen dáárom vertelt, omdat je in al dat gevèrs je tot slaaf maakt van maat en rym. Als de eerste regel geëndigd was op koek, wyn, kina, zou je aan Marie gevraagd hebben of ze meeging naar Broek, Berlyn, China, en zo voort [They’re all lies that you only tell because with all that versification you make yourself a slave of meter and rhyme. If the first line had ended with “cook, tin, china” you would have asked Marie if she would go with you to Broek, Berlin, China and so forth].

    — Multatuli, Max Havelaar

  • October 16, 2010 #

    Wenn man trinkt, wird einem warm and wenn man doppelt sieht, ist man weniger einsam [When you drink you become warm, and when you see double you’re less lonely].

    — Hermann Broch, Die Schlafwandler [The Sleepwalkers]

  • September 27, 2010 #

    There is an extraordinary story, which I have not been able to piece together adequately, of [Dmitri Nabokov’s] escaping from his attendants somewhere in Italy. There he wandered about, denouncing, with King Lear-like vehemence, his children to grinning strangers, until he was captured in a wild rocky place by some matter-of-fact carabinieri.

    — Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

  • September 19, 2010 #

    If he had thought about it before, he would have thought Jesus Christ was a word like “oh” or “damn” or “God,” or maybe somebody who had cheated them out of something sometime.

    — Flannery O’Connor, “The River”

  • August 28, 2010 #

    The Washington press corps uses the phrase “hammered out” as though sitting in chairs spending other people’s money were a form of physical labor.

    — P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores

  • August 25, 2010 #

    Почему-то никто в Ро??ии не знает, отчего умер Пушкин, а как очищает?? политура — ?то в??кий знает. [Why is it that no one in Russia knows how Pushkin died but everyone knows how to purify varnish?]

    — Венедикт Ерофеев, Мо?ква-Петушки [Venedikt Erofeev, Moscow to the End of the Line]

  • August 11, 2010 #

    My mother broke silence.—

    “—My brother Toby, quoth she, is going to be married to Mrs. Wadman.”

    —Then he will never, quoth my father, be able to lie diagonally in his bed again as long as he lives.

    — Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

  • July 8, 2010 #

    -Pues no es fregona? – replicó el Asturiano. -Hasta ahora le tengo por ver fregar su primero plato. -No importa – dijo Lope – no haberle visto fregar el primer plato, si le has visto fregar el segundo, y aun el centésimo. [“Then is she not a kitchen maid?” replied Asturiano. “Up to now I have yet to see her wash her first plate.” “It doesn’t matter,” said Lope, “not having seen her wash her first plate, if you’ve seen her wash her second, or even her hundredth.”]

    — Miguel de Cervantes, Novelas ejemplares [Exemplary stories]

  • June 30, 2010 #

    At the end of a war you need some soldiers left, really, or else it looks like you’ve lost.

    General Miller, In the Loop

  • June 6, 2010 #

    Nous craignons toutes choses comme mortels, et nous désirons toutes choses comme si nous étions immortels [We fear all things like mortals, and we desire all things as if we were immortals].

    — La Rochefoucauld, Maximes

  • May 28, 2010 #

    It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society…If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.

    — Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

  • March 15, 2010 #

    ?адо было готовить?? к холодам, запа?ать пищу, дрова. ?о в дни торже?тво материализма матери? превратила?ь в пон?тие, пищу и дрова заменил продоволь?твенный и топливный вопро? [It was necessary to prepare for the cold, to store food and firewood. But in these days of the triumph of materialism matter had changed into idea, food and firewood had been replaced by “the food and fuel problem.”]

    — Бори? Па?тернак, Доктор Живаго [Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago]

  • January 20, 2010 #

    He remembered some Greek or Latin tag about not even God being able to abolish historical fact, was glad to think that this must apply equally to the historical fact of his drinking out of Christine’s coffee-cup.

    Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim

  • November 20, 2009 #

    The words silly and unrealistic were redefined when I learned that Saint Nicholas travels with what was consistently described as “six to eight black men”…The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves until the mid-fifties, when the political climate changed and it was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good friends. I think history has proven that something usually comes between slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by cookies and quiet times beside the fire but by bloodshed and mutual hostility.

    David Sedaris

  • November 8, 2009 #

    I want to die like my father, quietly, in his sleep—not screaming and terrified like his passengers.

    — Bob Monkhouse

  • October 25, 2009 #

    С тех пор, как по?ты пишут и женшены их читают…их ?только раз называли ангелами, что они в ?амом деле, в про?тоте души, поверили к ?тому комюлименту, забыва?, что те же по?ты за деньги величали ?ерона полубогом [For as long as poets have been writing and women have been reading them…they have many times called them angels, and in fact they, in their mental simplicity, trusted this compliment, forgetting that the same poets for money called Nero a demigod].

    — Михаил Лермонтов, Герой нашего времени [Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time]

  • October 4, 2009 #

    Green Leopard looked dazed, bewildered, trapped in the higher mathematics of a thorough beating.

    Ben Okri, The Famished Road

  • September 11, 2009 #

    To me you’re not a women until you’ve had a couple of kids and your life is in the toilet. That’s really when you become a woman, when people come out of your vagina and step on your dreams.

    — Louis CK

  • September 10, 2009 #

    For some reason, the past doesn’t radiate such immense monotony as the future does. Because of its plenitude, the future is propaganda. So is grass.

    — Joseph Brodsky, “Less Than One”

  • September 7, 2009 #

    Não se lamentem os mortos: eles sabem o que fazem [Do not mourn the dead: they know what they are doing].

    — Clarice Lispector, A hora da estrela [The Hour of the Star]

  • August 27, 2009 #

    “Le monde est tout ce qui a lieu,” écrit Wittgenstein en sa prose admirable. En 1974, Pékin n’avait pas lieu: je ne vois pas comment je pourrais mieux exprimer la situation [“The world is all that is the case,” wrote Wittgenstein in his admirable prose. In 1974, Peking was not the case: I don’t know how else to describe the situation].

    — Amélie Nothomb, Le Sabotage amoureux [Loving Sabotage]

  • August 13, 2009 #

    Well, it is sire and dam in a man like a horse, and no way to get yourself a boy without there is half woman in him.

    Oakley Hall, Warlock

  • August 5, 2009 #

    Le mariage est comme une forteresse assiégée : ceux qui sont à l’extérieur souhaitent y rentrer, et ceux qui sont à l’intérieur souhaitent en sortir [Marriage is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out].

    — French proverb

  • July 18, 2009 #

    Septimus was one of the first to volunteer. He went to France to save an England which consisted almost entirely of Shakespeare’s plays and Miss Isabel Pole in a green dress walking in a square.

    — Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

  • June 29, 2009 #

    Aimer, voilà la seule chose qui puisse occuper et emplir l’éternité. À l’infini, il faut l’inépuisable [To love is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. The infinite requires the inexhaustible].

    — Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

  • June 13, 2009 #

    W lipcu ojciec mój wyjeżdżał do wód i zostawiał mnie z matką i starszym bratem na pastwę białych od żaru i oszołamiających dni letnich. Wertowaliśmy, odurzeni światłem, w tej wielkiej księdze wakacji, której wszystkie karty pałały od blasku i miały na dnie słodki do omdlenia miąższ złotych gruszek [In July my father went to take the waters and left me, with my mother and older brother, a prey to the blinding white heat of the summer days. Dizzy with light, we dipped into that enormous book of holidays, its pages blazing with sunshine and scented with the sweet melting pulp of golden pears].

    — Bruno Schulz, Sklepy cynamonowe [The Cinnamon Shops/The Street of Crocodiles]

  • June 1, 2009 #

    I am one of those people who could die for his religion sooner than take a bath for it.

    Flannery O’Connor

  • May 30, 2009 #

    What a funny way he put his big flat feet on the ground, as though he were smacking it slowly with the soles of his boots–not so much to hurt it, as to wake it up.

    Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast

  • May 10, 2009 #

    On my observing to [Johnson] that a certain gentleman had remained silent the whole evening, in the midst of a very brilliant and learned society, “Sir, (said he,) the conversation overflowed, and drowned him.

    — James Boswell, Life of Johnson

  • May 3, 2009 #

    Cada tantos años iba a Inglaterra: a visitar (juzgo por unas fotografías que nos mostró) un reloj de sol y unos robles [Every few years he went to England: to visit (I judge from a few photographs that he showed us) a sundial and some oak trees.

    — Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones

  • April 28, 2009 #

    One of the extraordinary things about life is the sort of places it’s prepared to put up with living. Anywhere it can get some kind of a grip, whether it’s the intoxicating seas of Santraginus V, where the fish never seem to care whatever the heck kind of direction they swim in, the fire storms of Frastra where, they say, life begins at 40,000 degrees, or just burrowing around in the lower intestine of a rat for the sheer unadulterated hell of it, life will always find a way of hanging on in somewhere. It will even live in New York, though it’s hard to know why.

    — Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

  • February 28, 2009 #

    This, to use an American term, in which discovery, retribution, torture, death, eternity appear in the shape of a singularly repulsive nutshell, was it.

    — Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

  • January 24, 2009 #

    Caruso, the fourth in my pantheon, was a Disembodied Voice, which is an essential feature of the history of any religion.

    — A.J. Liebling, “Paris the First”

  • January 7, 2009 #

    Die großen Epochen unsres Lebens liegen dort, wo wir den Mut gewinnen, unser Böses als unser Bestes umzutaufen [The great epochs in our lives occur when we gain the courage to rename our badness as the best in us].

    — Friedrich Nietzsche, Jenseits von Gut und Böse

  • December 2, 2008 #

    [on being asked how humiliating it is to be thrown off a gameshow:] «ist wie von einem Spielzeugauto überfahren werden [it’s like being run over by a toy car]».

    Charles Lewinsky

  • November 13, 2008 #

    I guess there was always some “me” inside that small and, later, somewhat bigger shell around which “everything” was happening. Inside that shell the entity which one calls “I” never changed and never stopped watching what was going on outside…the passage of time does not much affect that entity. To get a low grade, to operate a milling machine, to be beaten up at an interrogation, or to lecture on Callimachus is essentially the same…A school is a factory is a poem is a prison is academia is boredom, with flashes of panic.

    — Joseph Brodsky, “Less Than One”

  • November 7, 2008 #

    Era quell’amore che ha l’uomo cacciatore per ciò che è vivo e non sa esprimerlo altro che puntandoci il fucile [It was the love that the hunter has for living things and and which doesn’t know how to express it except by pointing a gun at them].

    — Italo Calvino, Il barone rampante

  • October 26, 2008 #

    I put down for one of the most effectual seeds of the death of any state, that the conquerors require not only a submission of men’s actions to them for the future, but also an approbation of all their actions past; when there is scarce a commonwealth in the world, whose beginnings can in conscience be justified.

    — Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

  • October 12, 2008 #

    Ces hommes de lettres, vraiment, ne savent rien du monde…Je leur permettrais parfaitement de mépriser nos usages, nos conventions et nos manières, mais je ne leur permets point de ne les pas connaître [These men of letter truly know nothing of the world. I would perfectly well permit them to despise our ways of doing things, our conventions and our manners, but I don’t permit them not to know them].

    — Guy de Maupassant, “La Moustache”

  • September 27, 2008 #

    Why, do ye see, the old man is hard bent after that White Whale, and the devil there is trying to come round him, and get him to swap away his silver watch, or his soul, or something of that sort.

    — Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

  • September 19, 2008 #

    Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing his car, that’s larceny.

    — James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice

  • September 12, 2008 #

    Beinahe alles Große, was dastehe, als ein Trotzdem dastehe, trotz Kummer und Qual, Armut, Verlassenheit, Körperschwäche, Laster, Leidenschaft und tausend Hemmnissen zustande gekommen sei [Almost everything great that exists exists as a Nevertheless, is arisen despite grief and agony, poverty, abandonment, bodily weakness, vice, passion and a thousand obstacles].

    — Thomas Mann, Der Tod in Venedig [Death in Venice]

  • September 6, 2008 #

    I recently learned that the only time that it’s acceptable to shout out ‘I have diarrhoea!’ is while playing scrabble.

    Zach Galifianakis

  • September 3, 2008 #

    Yo no quiero las mujeres para consejeras ni bufonas, sino para acostarme con ellas, y si son feas y discretas es lo mismo que acostarse con Aristóteles o Séneca o con un libro [I don’t want women for advice or jokes, but rather in order to sleep with them, and if they’re ugly and modest it’s the same as going to bed with Aristotle or Seneca or with a book].

    — Francisco de Quevedo, El Buscón

  • August 23, 2008 #

    Human mathematics is a sort of dance around an unwritten formal text, which if written would be unreadable.

    David Ruelle

  • August 19, 2008 #

    Е?ли боите?ь одиноче?тва, то не жените?ь (If you fear loneliness, don’t get married).

    — Anton Chekhov

  • August 2, 2008 #

    She looks like the Mona Lisa but has nicer legs.

    — Alasdair Gray, Lanark

  • June 7, 2008 #

    The Proust madeleine phenomenon is now as firmly established in folklore as Newton’s apple or Watt’s steam kettle. The man ate a tea biscuit, the taste evoked memories, he wrote a book…In the light of what Proust wrote with so mild a stimulus, it is the world’s loss that he did not have a heartier appetite. On a dozen Gardiners Island oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sautéed soft-shelled crabs, a few cars of fresh-picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island duck, he might have written a masterpiece.

    A.J. Liebling, A Good Appetite

  • May 23, 2008 #

    A man is basically as faithful as his options.

    — Chris Rock

  • May 21, 2008 #

    Cette marche du temps, qui ne sort d’une église / Que pour entrer dans l’autre [This march of time, which only leaves from one church / In order to enter the other]

    — Victor Hugo, Les Contemplations

  • May 7, 2008 #

    Es ist ein Jammer, dass die Natur die Schönheit, wie Medea ihre Bruder, zerstückelt und sie so in Fragmenten in die Körper gesenkt hat [It’s a crying shame that Nature, like Medea to her brothers, breaks beauty into pieces and so sank the fragments into individual bodies].

    — Georg Büchner, Dantons Tod

  • May 5, 2008 #

    Sie haben uns gesagt: schlagt die Aristokraten tot, das sind Wölfe! Wir haben die Aristokraten an die Laternen gehängt. Sie haben gesagt das Veto frisst eueur Brot, wir haben das Veto totgeschlagen, sie haben gesagt die Girondisten hungern euch aus, wir haben die Girondisten guillotiniert. Aber sie haben die Toten ausgezogen und wir laufen wie zuvor auf nackten Beinen and frieren [They told us: beat the aristocrats to death, they are wolves! We hung the aristocrats from the lanterns. They told us the veto was devouring our bread, we beat the veto to death, they told us the Girondists were starving us, we guillotined the Girondists. But they have taken the dead away and we run as before on naked legs and freeze].

    — Georg Büchner, Dantons Tod

  • April 28, 2008 #

    It is a most lying thing that same Past Tense always: so beautiful, sad, almost Elysian-sacred, “in the moonlight of Memory,” it seems; and seems only. For observe, always one most important element is surreptitiously (we not noticing it) withdrawn from the Past Time: the haggard element of Fear!

    — Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution

  • April 19, 2008 #

    Во дни ?омнений, во дни т?го?тных раздумий о ?удьбах моей родины, -ты один мне поддержка и опора, о великий, могучий, правдивый и ?вободный ру??кий ?зык! ?е будь теб?-как не впа?ть в отча?ние при виде в?ево, что ?овершает?? дома? ?о нельз? верить, чтобы такой ?зык не был дан великому народу! [In days of doubt, in days of oppressive reflections on the fate of my poor land, you alone are my hope and my support, o great, mighty, true and free Russian language! Without you how could I not fall into despair at the sight of all that is taking place at home? But it is past all belief that such a magnificent language was given but to a great nation!]

    — Ivan Turgenev

  • April 12, 2008 #

    The other secret to balancing the budget is to remember that all tax revenue is the result of holding a gun to somebody’s head.

    — P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores

  • April 6, 2008 #

    It is plain that the vaster the social unit, the less possible is true democracy.

    — Alasdair Gray, Lanark

  • March 27, 2008 #

    Faut pas espérer laisser sa peine nulle part en route. C’est comme une femme qui serait affreuse la Peine, et qu’on aurait épousée. Peut-être est-ce mieux encore de finir par l’aimer un peu que de s’épuiser à la battre pendant la vie entière. Puisque c’est entendu qu’on ne peut pas l’estourbir? [Must not hope to leave behind one’s pain anywhere along the way. It’s like a woman who was a terrible pain and who you had married. Perhaps it would be even better to love her a little in the end than to wear yourself out beating her your whole life. Since it’s understood that you can’t knock her off?]

    — Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit

  • March 16, 2008 #

    Je refuse la guerre et tout ce qu’il y a dedans…Je ne la déplore pas moi…Je ne me résigne pas moi…Je ne pleurniche pas dessus moi…Je la refuse tout net, avec tous les hommes qu’elle contient, je ne veux rien avoir à faire avec eux, avec elle. Seraient-ils neuf cent quatre-vingt-quinze millions et moi tout seul, c’est eux qui ont tort, Lola, et c’est moi qui ai raison, parce que je suis le seul à savoir ce que je veux: je ne veux plus mourir [I refuse the war and everything within it…I don’t deplore it…I don’t resign myself…I don’t whine…I refuse it period, with all the men it contains, I want nothing to do with them, with it. Were they nine hundred ninety-five million and me all alone, it’s they who are wrong, Lola, and I who am right, because I am the only who knows what I want: I no longer want to die].

    — Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit

  • March 15, 2008 #

    Ce qui guide encore le mieux, c’est l’odeur de la merde [That which still guides the best is the smell of shit].

    — Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit

  • March 5, 2008 #

    You guys sure seem to love Nicaragua, except the part where you risked your lives not to live there.

    — Adam Carolla

  • March 1, 2008 #

    Think again of the real importance of the Great Firewall. Does the Chinese government really care if a citizen can look up the Tiananmen Square entry on Wikipedia? Of course not. Anyone who wants that information will get it—by using a proxy server or VPN, by e-mailing to a friend overseas, even by looking at the surprisingly broad array of foreign magazines that arrive, uncensored, in Chinese public libraries.

    What the government cares about is making the quest for information just enough of a nuisance that people generally won’t bother. Most Chinese people, like most Americans, are interested mainly in their own country. All around them is more information about China and things Chinese than they could possibly take in. The newsstands are bulging with papers and countless glossy magazines. The bookstores are big, well stocked, and full of patrons, and so are the public libraries. Video stores, with pirated versions of anything. Lots of TV channels. And of course the Internet, where sites in Chinese and about China constantly proliferate. When this much is available inside the Great Firewall, why go to the expense and bother, or incur the possible risk, of trying to look outside?

    James Fallows

  • February 18, 2008 #

    Socrates famously said that a good person cannot be harmed–meaning that everything of relevance to living a flourishing life is safe so long as virtue is safe.

    — Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness

  • January 22, 2008 #

    The living never die.

  • January 19, 2008 #

    Un voyageur anglais raconte l’intimité où il vivait avec un tigre; il l’avait élevé et le caressait, mais toujours sur sa table tenait un pistolet armé [An English traveler recounts the intimacy in which he lived with a tiger; he raised it and stroked it, but always kept on his table a loaded pistol].

    — Stendhal, Le rouge et le noir

  • January 5, 2008 #

    La parole a été donné à l’homme pour cacher sa pensée [Speech was given to man to conceal his thought].

    — Talleyrand

  • December 27, 2007 #

    Perhaps most importantly, since prescriptive [grammatical] rules are so psychologically unnatural that only those with access to the right schooling can abide by them, they serve as shibboleths, differentiating the elite from the rabble.

    Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct

  • December 17, 2007 #

    Sé que todo el que pelea por un ideal cualquiera, aunque parezca del pasado, empuja el mundo al porvenir, y que los únicos reaccionarios son los que se encuentran bien en el presente. Toda supuesta restauración del pasado es hacer porvenir.

    Miguel de Unamuno, Del sentimiento trágico de la vida

  • December 8, 2007 #

    Nada nos penetra más de la esperanza y la fe en otro mundo que la imposibilidad de que un amor nuestro fructifique de veras en este mundo de carne y de apariencias.

    Miguel de Unamuno, Del sentimiento trágico de la vida

  • November 21, 2007 #

    No suelen ser nuestras ideas las que nos hacen optimistas o pesimistas, sino que es nuestro optimismo o nuestro pesimismo, de origen fisiológico o patológico quizá, tanto el uno como el otro, el que hace nuestras ideas.

    Miguel de Unamuno, Del sentimiento trágico de la vida

  • November 21, 2007 #

    Los hombres buscan la paz, se dice. Pero ¿es esto verdad? Es como cuando se dice que los hombres buscan la libertad. No, los hombres buscan la paz en tiempo de guerra, y la guerra, en tiempo de paz; buscan la libertad bajo la tiranía y buscan la tiranía bajo la libertad.

    — Miguel de Unamuno, La agonia de cristianismo

  • November 17, 2007 #

    Such I hold to be the genuine use of Gunpowder; that it makes all men alike tall.

    Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus

  • November 12, 2007 #

    Mean-while Opinion guilds with varying rays

    Those painted clouds that beautify our days;

    Each want of happiness by Hope supply’d,

    And each vacuity of sense by Pride:

    These build as fast as knowledge can destroy…

    For Forms of Government let fools contest;

    Whate’er is best administer’d is best:

    For Modes of Faith, let graceless zealots fight;

    His can’t be wrong whose life is in the right:

    In Faith and Hope the world will disagree,

    But all Mankind’s concern is Charity

    — Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

  • November 10, 2007 #

    The big demonstrations in London and Washington against the US attack on Iraq a few years ago offer an exemplary case of this strange symbiotic relationship between power and resistance. Their paradoxical outcome was that both sides were satisfied. The protesters saved their beautiful souls: they made it clear that they don’t agree with the government’s policy on Iraq. Those in power calmly accepted it, even profited from it: not only did the protests in no way prevent the already-made decision to attack Iraq; they also served to legitimise it. Thus George Bush’s reaction to mass demonstrations protesting his visit to London, in effect: ‘You see, this is what we are fighting for, so that what people are doing here – protesting against their government policy – will be possible also in Iraq!’

    Slavoj Žižek

  • November 4, 2007 #

    Claiming our universe is a miracle because of its unlikelihood, calculated after the fact, is reminiscent of the television advertisements for publisher sweepstakes that sing, “Miracles can happen, can happen to you” if you simply send in your entry. It may seem like a miracle to the person who wins $10 million, but the probability that someone would win was unity.

    Victor J. Stenger, The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology

  • November 3, 2007 #

    Those who find the notion that quantum mechanics is nonlocal so profound should pause to reflect on the fact that Newton’s theory of gravity is also nonlocal. Those who claim that twentieth-century physics has “discovered” a holistic universe should pause to consider that the universe was holistic prior to twentieth-century physics. It was the greatest scientist of the twentieth century, Einstein, who destroyed holism.

    Victor J. Stenger, The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology

  • October 19, 2007 #

    A language is a dialect with an army and navy.

    Max Weinreich?

  • October 16, 2007 #

    Abbiamo imperato che la nostra personalità è fragile, è molto più in pericolo che non la nostra vita; e i savi antichi, invece di ammonirci “ricordati che devi morire”, meglio avrebbero fatto a ricordarci questo maggior pericolo che ci minaccia.

    Primo Levi, Se questo è un uomo

  • October 12, 2007 #

    I would say that whether or not one believes in God is less important–far less important–than the kind of God in whom one believes.

    Raymond Smullyan

  • October 7, 2007 #

    für weite Teile der Welt wird die Klimaerwärmung mehr Gutes als Schlechtes bringen. Es gibt zwei Seiten der Medaille, und die meisten sprechen nur von der einen. Das ist eine schlechte Disney-Version der Welt.

    Bjørn Lomborg

  • August 26, 2007 #

    as individuals we have a track record of coping with such changes without falling apart or losing our sense of self entirely. After all, we have all been engaged all our lives in creating a stable sense of our identity out of whatever is thrown at us…Yes, we shall change; but the essence of human identity lies in this continuing self-redefinition…Human technology is less alien to us than nature (compare: bitter cold with central heating; being lost without GPS and being found with it; dying of parasitic infestation or spraying with pesticides). Anyone who considers the new technologies as inhuman, or as a threat to our humanity, should consider this. Better still, they should spend five uninterrupted minutes imagining the impact of a major stroke, of severe Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease on their ability to express their humanity.

    Ray Tallis

  • August 23, 2007 #

    We are, in fact, a nation of evangelists; every third American devotes himself to improving and lifting up his fellow citizens, usually by force; the messianic delusion is our national disease.

    H.L. Mencken

  • August 21, 2007 #

    Multiculturalism is a noble, logocentric, and rational endeavor that simply misidentifies its own stance and claims to be not rational because some of the things it tolerates are not rational. But its own tolerance is rational through and through, and rightly so. Rationality is the only structure that will tolerate structures other than itself.

    — Ken Wilber

  • August 5, 2007 #

    In the ancient Olympics, the winners were taking all kinds of exotic medicines and herbal treatments. Eating raw bees. They were widely appreciated for that — jumping higher, throwing the javelin farther…This anxiety about athletes cheating with self-medication is a relatively recent phenomenon. It coincides with the professionalization of sports. To be truly superhuman in their capacities, people train 12-hour days, are hooked up to computers…That’s natural — everything else is unnatural. It’s wildly inconsistent. There’s a certain amount of double-think. If you have a cold, you take antihistamines to bring you up to your natural level of performance. But in sports, you would be taken out of competition…There’s a lot of hype around the alleged harm that people do to themselves [with enhancements]. But in head-pounding sports, you face a lifetime of disability. In soccer, heading the ball often enough lowers your IQ. Sports can be bad for people. Why not outlaw boxing? Boxing is proven to be bad for you. It’s not just that steroids are good or bad.

    James J. Hughes

  • July 28, 2007 #

    Didn’t we cheapen the sanctity of the Holocaust by using it about everything? Some people say, ‘Occupation? You call this occupation? This is nothing compared to the absolute evil of the Holocaust!’ And if it is nothing compared to the Holocaust then you can continue. And since nothing, thank God, is comparable to the ultimate trauma it legitimatizes many things.

    Avrum Burg

  • July 24, 2007 #

    il ne faut pas se le cacher, il y a deux côtés à toutes les manières de voir: on peut vanter l’enthousiasme, on peut le blâmer; le mouvement et le repos, la variété et la monotonie sont susceptibles d’être attaqués et défendus par divers arguments; on peut plaider pour la vie, et il y a cependant assez de bien à dire de la mort, ou de ce qui lui ressemble.

    — Mme. de Staël, Corinne

  • July 21, 2007 #

    -l’uomo mentre patisce, non si annoia per niuna maniera.

    -dico che se oggi uscisse alla luce un poema uguale o superiore di pregio intrinseco all’Iliade…gli ruscirebbe assai meno grato e men dilettovele di quella; e per tanto gli resterebbe in molto minore estimazione: perché le virtù proprie del poema nuovo, non sarebbero aiutate dalla fama di ventisette secoli, né da mille memorie e mille rispetti, come sono le virtù dell’Iliade.

    -la condizione dell’uomo non è capace di alcun godimento notabile, che non consista sopra tutto nella speranza.

    Giacomo Leopardi, Operette morali

  • July 17, 2007 #

    I’m the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.

    — V.S. Naipaul

  • June 3, 2007 #

    Writers today can do more or less whatever we want. But on the other hand, since everybody can do pretty much whatever they want, without boundaries to define them or constraints to struggle against, you get this continual avant-garde rush forward without anyone bothering to speculate on the destination, the “goal” of the forward rush. The modernists and early postmodernists–all the way from Mallarmé to Coover, I guess–broke most of the rules for us, but we tend to forget what they were forced to remember: the rule-breaking has got to be for the “sake” of something. When rule-breaking, the mere “form” of renegade avant-gardism, becomes an end in itself, you end up with bad language poetry and “American Psycho” ‘s nipple-shocks and Alice Cooper eating shit on stage. Shock stops being a by-product of progress and becomes an end in itself. And it’s bullshit. Here’s an analogy. The invention of calculus was shocking because for a long time it had simply been presumed that you couldn’t divide by zero. The integrity of math itself seemed to depend on the presumption. Then some genius titans came along and said, “Yeah, maybe you can’t divide by zero, but what would happen if you ‘could’? We’re going to come as close to doing it as we can, to see what happens.” […] And this purely theoretical construct wound up yielding incredibly practical results. Suddenly you could plot the area under curves and do rate-change calculations. Just about every material convenience we now enjoy is a consequence of this “as if.” But what if Leibniz and Newton had wanted to divide by zero only to show jaded audiences how cool and rebellious they were? It’d never have happened, because that kind of motivation doesn’t yield results. It’s hollow. Dividing-as-if-by-zero was titanic and ingenuous because it was in the service of something. The math world’s shock was a price they had to pay, not a payoff in itself.

    David Foster Wallace

  • March 12, 2007 #

    Frank: Who is that? Nietzsche? So you stopped talking because of Friedrich Nietzsche?

    Little Miss Sunshine

  • March 11, 2007 #

    Bowen remarks in passing that the French place inordinate faith in legislation as a remedy for social ills, and this is certainly true. Indeed, such faith is central to French Republicanism, which differs from the American variety not only in its emphasis on civil equality and secularism, but also (in keeping with its French Revolutionary origins) in the importance it attaches to the expression of the popular will in law. The many constitutions of France’s five republics have tended to evince a distrust for American-style checks and balances as impediments to the popular will, while elevating the legislative branch above the others…Perhaps, he implies, the French should “broaden their notions of what is acceptably French.” The Republic, he preaches, “is based not on a shared faith, but on a faith in the possibilities of sharing a life together, despite vast differences in appearance, history, and religious ideas.” Well, yes, in one sense; but the Republic is not just a gentle ideal. It is also a power structure in which certain elite groups wield a tremendous degree of cultural, political, and economic authority. And this authority derives in part precisely from defining what is “acceptably French,” and from prescribing cultural and political norms for the rest of the population. Meanwhile, on the other side…French Muslim hostility to the Republic often goes far beyond defending the right to wear headscarves. The same sort of alienation that drove some Muslim girls to search for a “true Islam” is also driving more dangerous and destructive forms of behavior…In these circumstances, it is doubtful that a well-meaning embrace of multiculturalism by the Republican elites would do much to help. Extraordinarily generous multicultural policies were long pursued in the Netherlands, but the degree of mutual hostility and incomprehension there is today, if anything, even greater than in France, as demonstrated by the murder of Theo van Gogh and its aftermath. So while it is easy enough, especially from an American perspective, to ridicule the proponents of the headscarf ban, it is much harder to say what they should be doing differently. Yes, it is absurd to expel girls from school over this marginal issue, and yes, the controversy has probably harmed the cause of Muslim integration far more than it has helped. Headscarf-wearing Muslim girls are not signs of a “Muslim plot,” as some of the more hysterical French headlines have alleged. But they certainly are signs of a great social transformation whose outcome is unclear but whose dangerous potential is all too visible.

    David A. Bell

  • March 3, 2007 #

    En effet, depuis l’origine des choses jusqu’au quinzième siècle de l’ère chrétienne inclusivement, l’architecture est le grand livre de l’humanité, l’expression principale de l’homme à ses divers états de développement.

    Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris

  • January 27, 2007 #

    Can one utter a single word without committing oneself to a partial untruth?

    — should have been Joseph Conrad

  • January 5, 2007 #

    The intuition that something is worth less simply because the other side has offered it is referred to in academic circles as “reactive devaluation.? The very fact that a concession is offered by somebody perceived as hostile undermines the content of the proposal. What was said matters less than who said it. And so, for example, American policymakers would likely look very skeptically on any concessions made by the regime in Tehran. Some of that skepticism could be the rational product of past experience, but some of it may also result from unconscious—and not necessarily rational—devaluation.

    Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon

  • January 1, 2007 #

    The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings: it insults all women. … The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake. There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer. When a man hangs himself on a tree, the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury: for each has received a personal affront. … There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man’s crime is different from other crimes—for it makes even crimes impossible.

    G.K. Chesterton

  • December 30, 2006 #

    Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.

    G.K. Chesterton

  • December 28, 2006 #

    Paris was a city of stone, the color of bone, beautiful and hard–you could dash yourself against it and never leave a mark. It was built, so far as Jack could tell, on the principle that there was nothing you couldn’t accomplish if you crowded a few tens of millions of peasants together on the best land in the world and then never stopped raping their brains out for a thousand years.

    Neal Stephenson

  • December 18, 2006 #


    — Chinese proverb

  • December 14, 2006 #

    Wer den Sexualitätsgeboten dieser Zeit und Gesellschaft nicht genügte, war praktisch ununterbrochen am Pranger.

    Martin Walser, Ein fliehendes Pferd

  • December 13, 2006 #

    Fervently, the romantic enjoys the highest delight and the deepest pain day after day; he enjoys the most enchanting and the most sublime; he enjoys his wounds and the streaming blood of his heart. … Experiences with their many echoes and billows stand higher in his estimation than life with its tasks; for tasks always establish a bond with harsh reality. And from this he is in flight. He does not want to wrestle for his blessing, but to experience it, abandoning himself, devoid of will, to what spells salvation and bliss.

    Leo Baeck

  • November 26, 2006 #

    Умом Ро??ию не пон?ть, в Ро??ию можно только верить.

    — Фёдор Тютчев

  • November 16, 2006 #

    At the same time, we can expect that society will often call for real altruism, not because it is good for the altruist but because it benefits those who receive. (If it were clearly good for the altruist, then society wouldn’t have to call for it! In fact, cynics point out that it is precisely because altruism is generally not good for the altruist that social pressures are so often focused on producing it.) Friedrich Nietzsche was probably the most articulate spokesman for the view that society encourages self-sacrifice because the unselfish sucker is an asset to others: “Virtues (such as industriousness, obedience, chastity, piety, justness) are mostly injurious to their possessors. … If you possess a virtue, … you are its victim! But that is precisely why your neighbor praises your virtue. Praise of the selfless, sacrificing, virtuous … is in any event not a product of the spirit of selflessness! One’s ‘neighbor’ praises selflessness because he derives advantage from it”…Yet the more we learn about biology, the more sensible becomes the basic thrust of social ethics, precisely because nearly everyone, left to his or her devices, is likely to be selfish, probably more than is good for the rest of us.

    David P. Barash

  • November 12, 2006 #

    Mind, I am not preaching anything contrary to accepted morality. I am not advocating free love in this or any other case. Society must go on, I suppose, and society can only exist if the normal, if the virtuous, and the slightly-deceitful flourish, and if the passionate, the headstrong, and the too-truthful are condemned to suicide and to madness…Yes, society must go on; it must breed, like rabbits. That is what we are here for. But then, I don’t like society–much.

    Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

  • November 8, 2006 #

    The claim that liberal values are universal is not undercut by the millions, perhaps billions, who reject them. You can say that it’s just a matter of time, or that they are blinded by a particularistic ideology, or a hundred other things. Whether or not a value is universal is a matter not of votes, but of arguments.

    Stanley Fish

  • November 6, 2006 #

    In the final months before the draft almost all players are put through additional drills designed to test their speed, strength, agility, intelligence, etc. While one might think such information can only improve a team’s judgment about a player, the research just described suggests otherwise. Rather, as teams compile information about players, their confidence in their ability to discriminate between them might outstrip any true improvement in their judgment.

    Cade Massey & Richard H. Thaler

  • October 29, 2006 #

    God is pro-war.

    Jerry Falwell

  • October 25, 2006 #

    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster.

    Terry Eagleton

  • October 12, 2006 #

    But something strange can happen in the midst of these comparisons. The exceptional provides the analogy for the present. The extreme becomes a model for understanding what is less extreme. The unprecedented remains ever-present, serving as a recurring admonition and an insistent demonstration, a guidepost for understanding politics itself…But when the extreme becomes the frame of reference, as it often does in our post-Arendtian world, any resemblance to it — however intermittent and fragmentary — is seen in its harsh light…Why, though, even if the critics’ diagnoses are correct, do failings indicate an incipient apocalypse any more than virtues herald a utopian paradise? Such an approach turns the exceptional into the typical.

    Edward Rothstein

  • October 4, 2006 #

    I believe that the shitrain’s darkest before it clears, and that any of us can make a difference. But I also believe that those of us who should be doing so are part of a huge majority too turned off by the carnival of thugs, saps and swine running the turnstiles in The Big Processes to engage them. Nothing that happens four weeks from now is going to change our lives drastically. The same predictable bought-and-paid-for degenerates are racing for top slots in the Parliament of Whores. A blue or red wrapper doesn’t mean much when the bag’s full of shit… In this festering cycle, with the gallery of Jesus-shuckers, pork pimps, fear evangelists and entitlement pushers offered in my state, I’m thinking I’ll buy some nitrous oxide at Wonderland, sneak a balloon in to the voting booth, suck deeply and mash my hand against the levers like Frank Booth groping Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet. “Mommy… mommy…”


  • October 3, 2006 #

    Il sogno non aveva intreccio, nient’altro che quest’unica scena; ma per quanto lasciato senza séguito, né spiegazione, sembrava raccontare una lunga vicenda irrimediabile.

    Elsa Morante, La Storia

  • October 1, 2006 #

    You’re not wrong, and neither is the rest of the world. But you need to accept that those two things aren’t really connected.

    Chuck Klosterman

  • September 23, 2006 #

    in fact, nothing has happened since Auschwitz that would prevent another Auschwitz from happening. On the contrary. Before Auschwitz, the extermination camp was unimaginable. Today, it can be imagined. Because Auschwitz really happened, it has permeated our imagination, become a permanent part of us. What we are able to imagine – because it really happened – can happen again.

    Imre Kertesz

  • September 14, 2006 #

    Chivalry is dead, and women killed it.

    — Dave Chappelle

  • September 6, 2006 #

    Mathematics is as much a cultural artifact as poetry.

    Foster Morrison

  • August 31, 2006 #

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.

    Learned Hand

  • August 23, 2006 #

    There remains, then, the only true utility of a zoo: it is a childish and pointless show for the unintelligent, in brief, for children, nursemaids, visiting yokels and the generality of the defective. Should the taxpayers be forced to sweat millions for such a purpose? I think not. The sort of man who likes to spend his time watching a cage of monkeys chase one another, or a lion gnaw its tail, or a lizard catch flies, is precisely the sort of man whose mental weakness should be combatted at the public expense, and not fostered. He is a public liability and a public menace, and society should seek to improve him. Instead of that, we spend a lot of money to feed his degrading appetite and further paralyze his mind. It is precisely as if the community provided free champagne for dipsomaniacs, or hired lecturers to convert the army to the doctrines of the Bolsheviki.

    H.L. Mencken

  • August 21, 2006 #

    [T]he mob is eternally virtuous, and the only thing necesary to get it in favor of some new and super-oppressive law is to convince it that that law will be distasteful to the minority that it envies and hates.

    H.L. Mencken

  • August 18, 2006 #

    Sadly, howerver, when psychologists set up games of Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma between real humans, nearly all players succumb to envy and therefore do relatively poorly in terms of money. It seems that many people, perhaps without even thinking avout it, would rather do down the other player than cooperate with the other player to do down the banker. Axelrod’s work has shown what a mistake this is.

    Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

  • August 7, 2006 #

    We live in an age, after all, that is strangely fixated on the idea of helplessness: we’re fascinated by hurricanes and terrorist acts and epidemics like sars—situations in which we feel powerless to affect our own destiny. In fact, the risks posed to life and limb by forces outside our control are dwarfed by the factors we can control.

    Malcolm Gladwell

  • August 5, 2006 #

    The productivity paradox in most general terms then is that revolutionary technologies developed to increase productivity initially fail in this purpose, because their introduction adds to complexity and information overload, obscuring their potentially most productive applications while increasing the workload and confusion of the individuals that have to learn how to use them.

    Francis Heylighen

  • July 28, 2006 #

    Hence the logical approach and structure in natural automata may be expected to differ widely from those in artificial automata.

    John von Neumann

  • July 14, 2006 #

    Into this festal season of the year…the Puritans compressed whatever mirth and public joy they deemed allowable to human infirmity; thereby so dispelling the customary cloud, that, for the space of a single holiday, they appeared scarcely more grave than most other communities at a period of general affliction.

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • July 12, 2006 #

    The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison.

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • July 8, 2006 #

    That’s the whole problem with science. You’ve got a bunch of empiricists trying to describe things of unimaginable wonder.


  • June 22, 2006 #

    It was a great blasphemy when the devil said, ‘I will ascend, and be like the highest.’ But it is a greater blasphemy if they make God to say, ‘I will descend, and be like the prince of darkness’; and it is no better when they make the cause of religion descend to the execrable actions of murdering princes, butchery of people, and firing of states.

    Francis Bacon

  • June 20, 2006 #

    The Buddhist way is not to worry about the past. You have to relax and calm down, don’t think about it. In Buddhism, nothing just happens. It’s part of karma. In the west you express things more. In Cambodian culture, people keep things inside, they don’t talk. It’s a different way of doing things. It’s not to do with the knowledge of scientists, it’s cultural.

    Bour Kry, supreme patriarch of Cambodia’s Dhammayutta order

  • June 19, 2006 #

    Is that really what you see, Mr Chomsky, from the window of your library at MIT? Is it the stench of the gulag wafting over the Charles River? Do you walk in fear of persecution and murder for expressing your dissident views? Or do you make a damn good living out of it?

    Peter Beaumont

  • June 16, 2006 #

    This game continues to exude an aroma of goals.

    Adrian Healey (c. 60th minute)

  • June 14, 2006 #

    Even as we put victims first, we take very seriously our responsibility to be outstanding stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we are careful to make sure that funds are distributed appropriately

    FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker

  • June 12, 2006 #

    For the answer was good that Diogenes made to one that asked him in mockery, ‘How it came to pass that philosophers were the followers of rich men, and not rich men of philosophers?’ He answered soberly, and yet sharply, ‘Because the one sort knew what they had need of, and the other did not.’

    Francis Bacon

  • June 8, 2006 #

    Much that we attribute to history we ought rather to attribute to biology – including aggression, territorial expansion and maybe even scapegoating, racism and the all-pervading emotion that Nietzsche called ressentiment.

    Roger Scruton

  • June 6, 2006 #

    I felt the satisfaction because it proved that the world isn’t going backward, if you can just stay young enough to remember what it was really like when you were really young.

    A.J. Liebling

  • June 1, 2006 #

    Some people think they are generous because they give away free advice.


  • May 27, 2006 #

    The life and liberty of others are not yours to trade. I think you would understand this perfectly well if you were face to face with the individuals in question but when you consider them collectively in that abstract you are seduced through a weakness for wonkery into imagining that men have no choice but to trade in such values.

    John T. Kennedy

  • May 26, 2006 #

    Aestho-autogamy with one unknown quantity on the male side, Mr. Trellis told me in conversation, has long been a commonplace. For fully five centuries in all parts of the world epileptic slaveys have been pleading it in extenuation of uncalled-for fecundity. It is a very familiar phenomenon in literature. The elimination of conception and pregnancy, however, or the reduction of these processes to the same mysterious abstraction as that of the paternal factor in the commonplace case of unexplained maternity, has been the dream of every practising psycho-eugenist the world over.

    Flann O’Brien

  • May 6, 2006 #

    Cuz I’m encrypting shit like every single day
    Sending data across the network in a safe way
    Protecting messages to make my pay
    If you hack it you’re guilty under DMCA.

    MC Plus+

  • May 1, 2006 #

    I think I know why the Texans have consciously overlooked a reality that seemed to be universally understood: the NFL draft has grown into such a self-obsessed, metacommunicative monoculture that it actively perpetuates counter-intuitive logic. Pro football teams (and the media entities which cover it, including this one) have invested so much time and effort into analysis that smart people can no longer see what’s abundantly obvious. The culture of the NFL draft insists that nothing is ever easy; it suggests that what you see with your eyes is always meaningless.

    Chuck Klostermann

  • April 24, 2006 #

    One can (assuming the consistency of classical mathematics) even give examples of propositions (and indeed of such a type as Goldbach and Fermat) which are really contextually true but unprovable in the formal system of classical mathematics.

    Kurt Gödel

  • April 22, 2006 #

    Five minutes later we’re sitting down with a notepad, a telephone, and an antique tape recorder that Smiley probably used to debrief Karla, back when men were real men and lesbian sheep were afraid.

    Charles Stross

  • April 21, 2006 #

    Because your eyes are so important.

    slogan for ReNu MoistureLoc contact solution

  • April 14, 2006 #

    Linearity breeds contempt.

    Peter Lax

  • April 12, 2006 #

    Ironically, many of the same members of the religious right who have so emphatically demonstrated the emotional superiority of stories when it comes to abortion insist, when it comes to Genesis, on a reading of the Bible as a technical account. Thus do creationists, in the service of reasongiving exigency, force the Holy Scripture to do double duty as a high-school biology textbook.

    Malcolm Gladwell

  • March 30, 2006 #

    That the people of the land of Goethe and Schiller would choose as their guide in this spiritual exploration a clinically depressed loaf of bread, is, perhaps, just another improbable element of the German Zeitgeist.

    Jeremy Wasser

  • March 29, 2006 #

    Uno che se ne va dal paese è meglio non ci torni più.

    Giovanni Verga, I Malavoglia

  • March 23, 2006 #

    Of all God-forsaken dustbins of Nature, I think the most heart-breaking are places like that bandstand, that were meant to be festive and are forlorn.

    G.K. Chesterton

  • March 21, 2006 #

    Almeno voleva sapere perché al mondo ci doveva essere della gente che se la goda senza far nulla, e nasce colla fortuna nei capelli, e degli altri che non hanno niente, e tirano la carretta coi denti per tutta la vita?

    Giovanni Verga, I Malavoglia

  • March 19, 2006 #

    All language is used like that; you never get a question answered literally, even when you get it answered truly.

    G.K. Chesterton

  • March 13, 2006 #

    Friendship is a Vertue oftner found among Thieves than other People; for when their Companions are in Danger they venture hardest to relieve them; and by a certain Compact, which needs no renewing, take care that they don’t want a suitable Subsistence while they are under Durance, and thereby incapable of helping themselves; and this the rather, because their own Turn seems to be next, according to the Vicissitude of Things built upon so dangerous and fickle a Foundation.

    The Right Villainous John Hall

  • March 10, 2006 #

    The two great institutional legacies of the Middle Ages to modern civilization are the Catholic Church and the contemporary university, of which the latter is surely the more rigidly hierarchical: With its politically correct orthodoxies, its hegemonically imposed anti-hegemonic discourse, its salary-mongering, its freedom from taxation (how Constantinian!), its speech codes, its teacher evaluations conducted sub secreto pontificio, its heated debate over the minutest matters, its hair-splitting fights over teaching loads and research assistants (tenure as benefice!), the contemporary university makes the Catholic Church look like a Quaker meeting house.

    Edward T. Oakes

  • March 9, 2006 #

    El siglo de la salud, la higiene, los anticonceptivos, las drogas milagrosas y los alimentos sintéticos, es también el siglo de los campos de concentración, del Estado policíaco, de la exterminación atómica y del murder story.

    Octavio Paz

  • March 3, 2006 #

    A drunk man will eventually find his way home, but a drunk bird may not.

    Probability proverb

  • March 2, 2006 #

    it’s really risky to work hard, because then if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn’t work hard. It’s a form of self-protection. I swear that’s why Mickelson has that almost absurdly calm demeanor. If he loses, he can always say: Well, I could have practiced more, and maybe next year I will and I’ll win then. When Tiger loses, what does he tell himself? He worked as hard as he possibly could. He prepared like no one else in the game and he still lost. That has to be devastating, and dealing with that kind of conclusion takes a very special and rare kind of resilience. Most of the psychological research on this is focused on why some kids don’t study for tests — which is a much more serious version of the same problem. If you get drunk the night before an exam instead of studying and you fail, then the problem is that you got drunk. If you do study and you fail, the problem is that you’re stupid — and stupid, for a student, is a death sentence. The point is that it is far more psychologically dangerous and difficult to prepare for a task than not to prepare.

    Malcolm Gladwell

  • February 27, 2006 #

    It was only after Christianity had been disempowered by the Enlightenment that it became civilised, friendly and modest enough that its adherents could find joy in it and its opponents no longer had to fear it. It isn’t Christianity that forms the basis of modern Europe but rather the disempowerment of Christianity, the Enlightenment.

    Heinz Schlaffer

  • February 26, 2006 #

    You have to remember, Betsy, that D.C. is not about solving problems. If we solved problems, there would be nothing else left to do and we would all have to go out and do something honest–like fry hamburgers. No, D.C. is about keeping jobs, which we do by managing problems. There is no higher achievement than making a problem your own, managing that problem, nurturing that problem along until you’ve made it to retirement and hopefully mentored a whole new generation of young bureaucrats to whom you can bequeath the problem. The purpose of an interagency task force is to bring the resources of several agencies and many bureaucrats to bear on a promising new problem that needs special care and nurturing.

    Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George

  • February 23, 2006 #

    Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt … making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting veep since Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, of course, [was] shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird.

    John Stewart

  • February 21, 2006 #

    France can’t be seen in any way to so much as inconvenience for a moment either a hobo or a Muslim, and certainly not someone who is both.

    Jeremy Sapienza

  • February 19, 2006 #

    It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness is all.

    Joseph Heller, Catch-22

  • February 15, 2006 #

    Yossarian also worried about Ewing’s tumor and melanoma. Catastrophes were lurking everywhere, too numerous to count. When he contemplated the many diseases and potential accidents threatening him, he was positively astounded that he had managed to survive in good health for as long as he had. It was miraculous. Each day he faced another dangerous mission against mortality. And he had been surviving them for twenty-eight years.

    Joseph Heller, Catch-22

  • February 14, 2006 #

    Tolerance is not a matter of respecting what is tolerated — if it were, tolerance would hardly be necessary. Tolerance is the willing, conscious suppression of distaste or disdain for other people’s ideas, habits and tastes for the sake of a wider social peace.

    Theodore Dalrymple

  • January 30, 2006 #

    Ask a Soviet engineer to design a pair of shoes and he’ll come up with something that looks like the boxes that the shoes came in; ask him to make something that will massacre Germans, and he turns into Thomas Fucking Edison.

    Neal Stephenson

  • January 27, 2006 #

    Et maintenant, comment voulez-vous que je le regrette, votre Paris bruyant et noir? Je suis si bien dans mon moulin! C’est si bien le coin que je cherchais, un petit coin parfumé et chaud, à mille lieues des journaux, des fiacres, du brouillard!

    Alphonse Daudet, Lettres de mon moulin

  • January 12, 2006 #

    Wisdom is not the most severe corrector of follies. They are the rival follies, which mutually wage so unrelenting a war.

    Edmund Burke

  • January 11, 2006 #

    Research on expertise in areas such as chess, history, science, and mathematics demonstrate that experts’ abilities to think and solve problems depend strongly on a rich body of knowledge about subject matter.

    Ann L .Brown, Rodney R. Cocking, John D. Bransford

  • January 1, 2006 #

    It was once said that to move a planet, one need but find the point of leverage: therefore I, seeking to overturn a mind that was perfect, had to find the point of leverage, and this was stupidity.

    Stanislaw Lem

  • December 27, 2005 #

    On veut toujours son bien, mais on ne le voit pas toujours.

    — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • December 21, 2005 #

    There is no such thing as too obvious in this context, man. These guys, they hate the end user, and for years they’ve been getting away with it because all their users are already used to being treated like shit at the post office and the tube station. I mean, these people grew up with coin-operated stoves, for chrissakes! They pay television tax! Feed ’em shit and they’ll ask you for second helpings. Beg you for ’em! So no, I don’t think it’ll be too obvious.

    Cory Doctorow

  • December 19, 2005 #

    To say the truth, want of compassion is not to be numbered among our general faults. The black ingredient which fouls our disposition is envy. Hence our eye is seldom, I am afraid, turned upward to those who are manifestly greater, better, wiser, or happier than ourselves, without some degree of malignity; while we commonly look downwards on the mean and miserable, with sufficient benevolence and pity.

    Henry Fielding

  • December 18, 2005 #

    Earth must become Ganymede (click here and here for explanation).

    Philipp Drössler

  • December 16, 2005 #

    The trouble is the British police are a lazy lot and, if it’s a choice between acting against intimidating thugs who’ve made the shopping centre a no-go area or investigating the non-crime of a BBC radio interview, they’ll take the latter…Following the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands, film directors and museum curators and all the other “brave” “transgressive” artists usually so eager to “challenge” society are voting for self-censorship: “I don’t want a knife in my chest,” explained Albert Ter Heerdt, announcing his decision to “postpone” a sequel to his hit multicultural comedy Shouf Shouf Habibi! But who needs to knife him when across Europe the authorities are so eager to criminalise him? No society with an eye to long-term survival should make opinion a subversive activity.

    Mark Steyn

  • December 13, 2005 #

    This reviewer is thus, as a private citizen and an autonomous agent, both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. It is not an easy or comfortable position to maintain.

    David Foster Wallace

  • December 9, 2005 #

    The 19th century was a time when Britain mattered. And then, as now, the countryside, not London, was the essence of Britain to the Brits themselves. When a British rock star hits it big, he buys a “stately home” (i.e., a mansion) in some village. Today Britain doesn’t matter much. But who the new vicar will be in some fictional village 200 years ago still matters a lot. It is history’s consolation prize. Nineteenth-century English village life will always loom large in the world’s imagination, like Greenland in a Mercator projection map. Today America matters, for the moment. Some day, possibly soon, we won’t. Where in America is the essence of our society, and is anybody creating the mocking but affectionate portrait of it that will still seduce people in the 23rd century? Years ago, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed John Updike’s Rabbit novels as the definitive portrait of America in our time. Tom Wolfe set out self-consciously to be the American Trollope with a series of fat social novels beginning with Bonfire of the Vanities. But when an American rock star hits it big, he doesn’t move to Updike’s rural Pennsylvania. He buys a beach house in Malibu. The America of the world’s imagination is Hollywood—meaning the tonier parts of greater Los Angeles, where the sun is shining and people have lunch instead of jobs, except for some Mexicans mowing the lawn in the background. This imaginary precinct is no further from reality than Trollope’s Barchester. And if the world still thinks fondly of America at the turn of the 23rd century, long after people have forgotten that there ever was a President Bush, let alone two of them, thanks will be due to Home Box Office.

    Micheael Kinsley

  • December 8, 2005 #

    Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.

    — A.J. Liebling

  • December 4, 2005 #

    Slavoj Zizek sees [Ayn] Rand as one in a line of ‘over-conformist authors who undermine the ruling ideological edifice by their very excessive identification with it’. Rand’s mad adoration of capitalism ‘without its communitarian, collectivist, welfare etc, sugar-coating’, he argues, actually serves only to make the inherent ridiculousness of capitalism ever more plain. But it’s not just capitalism that Rand makes ridiculous by her worship. It’s also the mystique of Modernism, the idea that ‘good’ taste in aesthetic matters equates, somehow, with ‘good’ morals.

    Jenny Turner

  • December 3, 2005 #

    I thought Ron Artest was crazy until he got pushed by Ben Wallace and went after the little guy with the plastic cup. When you’re crazy, you don’t pick your battles. He picked his battle.

    Jalen Rose

  • December 2, 2005 #

    The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks.

    Dirk Gentley

  • November 18, 2005 #

    If English is good enough for Jesus Christ, then it’s good enough for us.

    Ma Ferguson

  • November 17, 2005 #

    The only thing that makes this rootkit legitimate is that a multinational corporation put it on your computer, not a criminal organization.

    Bruce Schneier

  • November 12, 2005 #

    There is something deep in religious belief that divides people and amplifies societal conflict. In the early part of this century, the toxic mix of religion and tribalism has become so dangerous as to justify taking seriously the alternative view, that humanism based on science is the effective antidote, the light and the way at last placed before us.

    E.O. Wilson

  • November 7, 2005 #

    Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.

    G.K. Chesterton

  • November 3, 2005 #

    Der Irrsinn ist bei Einzelnen etwas Seltenes, — aber bei Gruppen, Parteien, Völkern, Zeiten die Regel.

    Friedrich Nietzsche

  • October 31, 2005 #

    Est-il possible qu’Homère ait voulu dire tout ce qu’on lui fait dire?

    — Michel de Montaigne

  • October 28, 2005 #

    I have only three criteria for whether a work should be read and reread and taught to others, and they are: aesthetic splendour, cognitive power, and wisdom. And those are not the standards now applied in the universities and colleges of the English-speaking world. Nor are they the standards applied in the media. Everyone is now much more concerned with gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, skin pigmentation, and twenty other irrelevancies.

    Harold Bloom

  • October 28, 2005 #

    There was set before me a mighty hill,
    And long days I climbed
    Through regions of snow.
    When I had before me the summit-view,
    It seemed that my labour
    Had been to see gardens
    Lying at impossible distances.

    Stephen Crane

  • October 26, 2005 #

    Humans are immortal in their thought. Though strictly speakin’, not immortal, but endlessly, asymptotically close to immortal. That’s eternal life.

    Haruki Murakami

  • October 23, 2005 #

    Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification.

    — Karl Popper

  • October 22, 2005 #

    There’s nothing so heartbreaking as a look of misery on a man with a mustache — as if his face hasn’t got enough troubles.

    Mil Millington

  • October 20, 2005 #

    There are a lot of levels of truth, as we both know, in almost any story, and my argument with the so-called “straight” journalists is that I tend to deal on levels (or areas) that “straight” journalism can’t handle because you can’t always find two “reliable sources” to verify what you know is true–and that’s the fork in the journalistic road where I parted company with those bastards a long time ago.

    Hunter S. Thompson

  • October 18, 2005 #

    J’en suis toujours au même point : sur un plan moral, je me réjouis de la chute d’une dictature, fût-ce au prix d’une guerre ; sur un plan pratique, je déplore l’amateurisme des Américains dans leur gestion de cet après-guerre. Quant à la position de la France, j’ai tout de suite eu l’intuition qu’elle était moins « pure » que ne le prétendaient ses dirigeants.

    Mario Vargas Llosa

  • October 17, 2005 #

    Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun, but the full implications of Darwin’s revolution have yet to be widely realized. Zoology is still a minority subject in universities, and even those who choose to study it often make their decision without appreciating its profound philosophical significance. Philosophy and the subjects known as ‘humanities’ are still taught almost as if Darwin had never lived. No doubt this will change in time…

    — Richard Dawkins

  • October 17, 2005 #

    The [Texas] legislature quickly dropped the “intimacy? approach and is now struggling to create a legal definition for sex that includes typical homosexual romantic behavior. Unfortunately, they have hit a roadblock in that the Texas legislators are not entirely sure how gay sex works, and are currently searching for a non-gay expert on the subject.

    Rainbough Phillips

  • October 14, 2005 #

    You can’t battle me, so you’d rather embarrass me, / I maintain dignity in the face of calamity, / They reach out their hand to me and talk dishonestly / but I read through their syntactic structure like Noam Chomsky.


  • October 12, 2005 #

    Praise supports students’ feelings, but it also evaluates. “Good job!” says, “Yes, you did that correctly.” “Nice work” can establish an expectation for others that products must be neat or beautiful in order to have value. This can make students who do excellent mathematical science hide their efforts if they appear sloppy or poorly presented. (via)

    John A. Van de Walle

  • October 12, 2005 #

    For several decades the philosophical ground has been softened up by the relativism and political correctness of the secular left, which succeeded in undermining the very idea of objective reality and of calling a spade a spade—so now, in the resulting marsh, fantasies like intelligent design (or Scientology or feng shui or 9/11 as a CIA plot) take root and spread like weeds. Liberals pioneered squishy-minded indulgence of their key constituencies’ unfortunate new ideas, like reparations and criminalized hate speech; now it’s the right’s turn.

    Kurt Andersen

  • October 10, 2005 #

    There are no words, in any human language, capable of consoling the guinea-pigs who do not know the reason for their deaths.

    — A survivor of Hiroshima

  • October 8, 2005 #

    Axiomaticians are reproached with establishing merely verbal edifices without paying due attention to the construction of a corresponding system of mathematical entities. Moreover, they are charged with inconsistency in that they falsely accept the consistency of an axiom system as a guarantee of the existence of a system of mathematical entities fulfilling the axioms, while at the same time they appeal to the existence of intuitively constructed system of mathematical entities in their proofs of consistency.

    Evert Willem Beth (summarizing L.E.J. Brouwer)

  • October 6, 2005 #

    [Robert] Owen, from the time when he became a public man, ceased to have any ‘private life.’…He became a humanitarian, and lost his humanity.

    G.D.H. Cole

  • October 5, 2005 #

    Les faits ne pénètrent pas dans le monde où vivent nos croyances, ils n’ont pas fait naître celles-ci, ils ne les détruisent pas; ils peuvent leur infliger les plus constants démentis sans les affaiblir, et une avalanche de malheurs ou de maladies se succédant sans interruption dans une famille, ne la fera pas douter de la bonté de son Dieu ou du talent de son médecin.

    Marcel Proust

  • October 3, 2005 #

    Beyond containment, deterrence, and economic integration lies a strategy that the British never employed against either Germany or Japan–internal subversion. Sorry, the polite euphemisms are “democracy promotion” and “human rights protection,” but these amount to the same thing.

    Max Boot

  • October 2, 2005 #

    Ein Buch ist Spiegel, aus dem kein Apostel herausgucken kann, wenn ein Affe hineinguckt.

    — Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  • October 1, 2005 #

    Astonishing? Only to someone used to social analysis on a class basis and unable to see differently. But to such an analyst everything in the whole world is bound to be astonishing, because the world and human beings never fit into his previously set grooves.

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • September 30, 2005 #

    Nous n’avouons de petits défauts que pour persuader que nous n’en avons pas de grands.

    La Rochefoucauld

  • September 29, 2005 #

    I don’t mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that’s how it comes out.

    — Bill Hicks

  • September 28, 2005 #

    Constitutions become the ultimate tyranny. They’re organized power on such a scale as to be overwhelming. The constitution is social power mobilized and it has no conscience. It can crush the highest and the lowest, removing all dignity and individuality. It has an unstable balance point and no limitations.

    Paul Atreides

  • September 26, 2005 #

    To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American art, if my position is correct.

    Mark Twain

  • September 26, 2005 #

    It is also clear that many owners of formal businesses, overwhelmed by the costs of formality, feel safer collaborating with an interventionist government with which they can come to an agreement than advocating an impersonal market economy in which there is no omnipotent ruler who can intervene on their behalf. For them, the private sector is capitalism without competition, a combination of state support and private control — mercantilism.

    Hernando de Soto

  • September 24, 2005 #

    “You’re right on that. We’re Mediterranean. I’ve never been to Greece or Italy, but I’m sure I’d be at home as soon as I landed.”

    He would, too, I thought. New Orleans resembles Genoa or Marseilles, or Beirut or the Egyptian Alexandria more than it does New York, although all seaports resemble one another more than they can resemble any place in the interior. Like Havana and Port-au-Prince, New Orleans is within the orbit of a Hellenistic world that never touched the North Atlantic. The Mediterranean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico form a homogeneous, though interrupted, sea.

    A.J. Liebling, The Earl of Louisiana

  • September 24, 2005 #

    Sex is the mathematics urge sublimated.

    M.C. Reed

  • September 23, 2005 #

    Nadie piensa en la muerte, en su muerte propia, como quería Rilke, porque nadie vive una vida personal. La matanza colectiva no es sino el fruto de la colectivación de la vida.

    Octavio Paz

  • September 22, 2005 #

    Would I lay down my life to save my brother? No, but I would to save two brothers or eight cousins.

    — J.B.S. Haldane

  • September 21, 2005 #

    [T]he academic mind reflects infinity, and is full of light by the simple process of being shallow and standing still.

    G.K. Chesterton (Manalive)

  • September 20, 2005 #

    Applied to the world as representative of all the world, facts become superstitions.

    Julian Jaynes

  • September 19, 2005 #

    The poets are almost always wrong about the facts. That’s because they’re not interested in the facts, only the truth.

    — William Faulkner

  • September 18, 2005 #

    Four stages of acceptance [of new scientific theories]: i) this is worthless nonsense; ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; iii) this is true, but quite unimportant; iv) I always said so.

    — J.B.S. Haldane

  • September 17, 2005 #

    The basic problem of mathematics: how to avoid thinking.

    — Don Zagier

  • September 16, 2005 #

    [T]he 49% of Americans who have been complaining for five years about George W. Bush being a dictator are now vexed to the point of utter incoherence because for the last fortnight he has failed to do a sufficiently convincing impression of a dictator.

    Colby Cosh