[ Go to lecture about role of books today! ] Quotes that have touched me (page 2 of 16)
Disclaimer: Citation of a quote, below, does not necessarily imply that I agree with what it asserts (under whatever interpretation); it does mean I feel the text says something seriously worth thinking about.
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Rust never sleeps.
(Personal e-mail: Response to query I made, about potential for corrosion damage on old non-water resistant watches.)
"[A] watch is only as good as the last watchmaker that worked on it."
(Posting on Purists "WatchRap: general watch discussion" Internet forum, 12Jan04.)
"Nuclear waste doesn't go away"
Timo Aikas, vice-president in charge of engineering, Posiva [Finnish nuclear waste disposal company], quoted in: Richard Black, "Finland buries its nuclear past", BBC online, 27Apr06.
Germs fight dirty.
Band-aid (bandages) TV advertisement, 04May06.
There are good days,
and there bad days.
And this has been one of them.

Lawrence Welk (1903-1992; bio), conductor of "The Champagne Music Makers" band/orchestra. Ref. lost. (See also: Quote #176.)
The lesson from Gap's experience in El Salvador is that competing interests among factory owners, government officials, American managers and middle-class consumers -- all with their eyes on the lowest possible cost -- make it difficult to achieve even basic standards, and even harder to maintain them.... [/] Among several shoppers... interviewed at [The Gap's] Manhattan store... only one... said she would be willing to pay more for a garment made under better working conditions. But then she paused and hedged. "It would depend how much," she said.
Leslie Kaufman and David Gonzalez, "Labor Standards Clash With Global Reality", NYT, 24Apr01, pp.A1,A10. U.S. President Bush has said: "Open markets create more opportunities for freedom." (The New York Times Online, David Stout, "Bush Says Use of Force is 'an Option' in Defense of Taiwan", 25Apr01)
Every trader has a number: the amount you need in the bank to walk away.... You know that you can lose your job at any moment, that each workday takes its toll on body and mind, and that the job prepares you to do nothing else. Your career becomes a race to squirrel away a bundle.
Scott Lasser, "Personal History: Time on [Wall] Street: He gave himself ten years to get the money. But holding out was hard." The New Yorker, 23&30Apr01, pp.123-4. "The number" is generally US$2,000,000 or more. Ed. note: Why can't we have a social world in which persons can walk away from their work, but freely want to stay? A proposal.
Harvard Law School, faced with competition on the outside and alienation on the inside, is quietly undergoing... far-reaching changes.... [Dean] Robert C. Clark said the primary goal... was to make the law school experience more palatable. "The next phase is to make quality-of-life changes," Mr. Clark said.... [A] subtle and... important shift behind [the] changes... is in students' attitudes, [David W.] Leebron of Columbia said[:] "If you look 40 or 50 years ago, students didn't expect to have a voice in anything.... Students today are much more demanding, and they are much more vocal with their demands." Students who think that a school will be too oppressive, unfriendly or impersonal are willing to turn it down -- even if it is Harvard -- in favor of a school perceived as more hospitable, Mr. Leebron added.
Jonathan D. Glater, "Harvard Law Is Trying to Be More Appealing", NYT, 16Apr01, p.A12. Ed. note: Perhaps this indicates some progress in humanizing the power relations in schooling, toward those who pay having the ultimate say ("consumer sovereignty"). In my own graduate studies, I was fortunate to have a taste of a kind of pedagogical relationship I feel is constructive: I contracted to pay experts not associated with "my school" to work with me in a relation either of us could terminate at any time -- a relation in which the persons from whom I was learning had no power to hurt me (e.g., to "give me a bad grade"), and consequently, I could focus on learning instead of protecting myself. I [BMcC] believe the social power relations of schooling are, in their essence even though not in every particular, a reign of terror against students, and that it is despite, not because of these social power relations that any child grows up with any "love of learning". (See also: shortening the workweek for medical residents)
"If [Pope Pius XII, who sheltered Jews during World War II but also signed the 1933 concordat that helped legitimize Hitler's regime in the first place...] symbolizes anything, it would seem to be a truth more sociological than religious, though one that all religions should probably heed. It is that the logic of institutional self-preservation may be incompatible with moral clarity."
Judith Shulevitz, "The Case of Pius XII", NYT Book Review, 08Apr01, p.31. "[T]o a... degree, the pope... did more than most to save Jews.... [But h]e wanted to make sure there would still be a church after the likely destruction of civilization. This helps explain why, for example, he placed the Vatican's neutrality above its role as the world's leading moral spokesman."(loc. cit.)
This document certifies that [name]... is certified as knowledgeable in all aspects of [medical specialty].... The bearer's judgment in the application of this knowledge is not certified.
"Danise A. Carrion International Order of Instruction in Tropical Medicine of Cornell University Medical Center" -- certificate on physician's office wall at Mt. Kisco Medical Group, Mt. Kisco, New York. Ed. Note: I think most if not all academic credential certificates (including most PhDs) need a similar disclaimer.
"President Bush poked fun at perceptions that he is a little short of intelligence... as he made his first appearance in the Gridiron Club's 116th annual spoof Saturday night.... Bush [said]... he has been told that his lips 'are where words go to die.'"
"Bush Gives His First Talk at Gridiron Club", 25Mar01, The New York Times on the Web (Associated Press, filed 4:43AM EST). For more on how George W. Bush got elected the 44th43rd President of The United States, click here. [Even The New York Times on the Web goofs occasionally: Show me how NYT mangled George W Bush's name (31May01 ca. 0900AM); Show me another NYT on the Web celebrity typo (13Jan04).]
To see Slate e-zine's sampler of George W Bush malapropisms, Click here (if that page disappears, search Slate for the word: "Bushism").
Rough-cut and wild eyed, vandals called the Taliban [the current government of Afghanistan] blasted away... at works of priceless ancient art, the giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyan.... Certainly it evoked the religious triumphalism that plagues a broad swath of the world.... But what is happening in Afghanistan could be more disturbing yet, in the message it sends to a modern world yearning for a dialog among civilizations.... "We take it personally," [Dr. Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies] said. "We think the Taliban is directed against us. It is not. It's directed against other Muslims who don't get it."
"Taliban: War for War's Sake", by Barbara Crossette, NYT, Week in Review, 18Mar01, p.4 (emphasis added). See also (NYT, 03Mar01): "'I do not serve what you worship; nor do you serve what I worship. You have your own religion, and I have mine.' This terse statement of live-and-let-live religious tolerance is from the Koran." Ed. Note: Is this about tolerance, or about intolerance, i.e., not having any interest in the heathen but a very strong interest in ferreting out and purging heterodoxy among one's own?
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Commitment to tolerance seems to me ultimately to imply subordinating all "first order" beliefs (i.e., beliefs about what really exists in the world) to the meta-belief/value of community -- e.g., telling Allah or J-w-h that you will do what they command only if it is compatible with sustaining a human community in which not all believe in Allah or J-w-h. This logically subordinates Allah or J-w-h to one's own human judgment, an ordering no true believer would accept....
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See also: Quote #127, #83, #85, #209.
Taliban radio said [05Aug01]... that 24 foreign and local staff from an international aid agency... were arrested while trying to convert members of an Afghan Muslim family by showing them material about Christianity on a computer. [/] The Taliban, a purist Islamic movement, issued an edict [in 2000] prescribing the death penalty for any Muslim converting to any other religion or those involved in such conversions. "Afghan Taliban Consider Aid Workers' Fate", The New York Times on the Web, 06Aug01 (REUTERS, filed 10:07ET). Note: Christianity is officially classified by the Taliban as an "abolished religion" (NYT, 12Aug01,p.15)
In the military, order and discipline are paramount, command authority absolute. At the same time, it has long been thought that the greatest strength of the American military is its empowerment of junior officers, sergeants, chiefs, even the enlisted troops, to speak their minds. [/] "We instill the mind-set that if we're about to go on the rocks, it doesn't matter if you're a boatswain's mate, you turn around and say, 'Yo, skipper, what the hell are you doing?' " a senior naval officer said.
"Sub's Crew May Have Hesitated to Question a Trusted Captain", by Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times on the Web, 12Mar01: "Several hours into the submarine Greeneville's short voyage on Feb. 9 [which ended with it crashing into and sinking a Japanese fishing trawler], a junior officer aboard verbally prodded his captain, Cmdr. Scott D. Waddle, and the second in command, Lt. Cmdr. Gerald K. Pfeifer. [/] The submarine was running late, the junior officer, Lt. Keith A. Sloan, the submarine's navigator, told his superiors, and risked missing its scheduled return to port. [/] In some of the world's militaries... [a]nything that even appeared to question the authority of a commander would draw a stern rebuke, perhaps worse. [/] But Lieutenant Sloan's warning, described as a 'professional reminder,' reflected traits that the [United States] armed services, tries to instill in its officers[:] ...Speak up, when necessary, even if commanders might not like what they hear."
"Every day we live an adventure, ideological or sentimental. Our drama is non-communication and it is this feeling that dominates the characters in my film, which I preferred to set in a rich environment because feelings there are not dependent on material circumstances."
Michelangelo Antonioni (said concerning his 1960 film, "L'Avventura"). From Encyclopedia Britannica: "Antonioni is recognizably the product of the mild, uneventful plains of northern Italy that form the background for several of his films.... [H]e has said that the experience most important to his development as a filmmaker and as a man was his upbringing in a settled, bourgeois, provincial home, with a sufficiency of money; a traditional education; a code of reserve and self-discipline; and the leisure and ease necessary for a detached view of people and of life." [See also: Quote #3, Quote #237.] (Still photo: Final scene from L'Avventura)
"But then, the culture wars bring out the worst in everybody."
"Critic's Notebook: 'Yo Mama' Artist's Past as Superhero", Michael Kimmelman, NYT, 17Feb01, p.B3. Review of painting on exhibit at Brooklyn Museum of Art: "Yo Mama's Last Supper", featuring a [semi?]nude black woman as Jesus.
Check out: my thoughts on postmodernism, and my: Post-postmodern artwork....
"In [Sheik Muqbel bin Hadi al-Wadie, a seminal influence on Osama bin Laden]'s view, the most dangerous enemies of Islam, before the United States and Israel, are Western life and culture -- democracy, pluralism, tolerance and any kind of voting. In a rare interview five months ago... he made the point bluntly. 'In Islam,' he said, 'there is nothing such as appreciating the viewpoint of a person if it is against Islamic regulations.'"
John F. Burns, "One Sheik's Mission: To Teach the Young to Despise Western Culture", The New York Times on the Web, 16Dec00. Ed. Note: I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw on an automobile in Washington, D.C., ca. 1977: "I hate you as much as you hate me".
Because you could not come to me, I came to you.
Pope John XXIII, said concerning his visits to Italian prisons to give mass to the prisoners (heard on NPR Morning Edition radio program, 28Oct00).
Very few craftsmen today still exercise the fine art of engine-turning or "guillochage" on [watch] dials, which Abraham-Louis Breguet introduced round 1786. The manual technique, done by means of a special lathe called a rose engine, requires rare dexterity and experience. Guiding the tool with his hand, the engraver works line by line, crossing the dial again and again to build up his delicate, complex patterns. Only years of training and his artist's eye enable him to control the spacing perfectly.... When all is judged right, according to the firm's unforgiving quality standards, the watch's individual serial number will be applied to the dial. It signs a true work of art.
From the Breguet watch manufacturer's website: http://www.breguet.com/.
Not all societies are enchanted by Rubenesque figures. In Japan, for example, the nape of the neck is far more erotic territory, while in Brazil, where reduction surgery is very popular, an overly ample bosom is seen as low-class, a libido killer, according to "A History of the Breast," by Marilyn Yalom (Ballantine, 1997).
"And Now, a Few More Words About Breasts", by Leslie Kaufman, NYT Week in Review, 17Sep00, p.3. [Ed. note: While "de gustibus non disputandum est", I also note that we have the two words in the English language: "gourmet" and "gourmand".]
Several years ago, a number of top American athletes were asked if they would take a performance enhancing drug which would guarantee them to win [or maybe it was: to set a new record...], if they also knew that the drug would kill them within five (5) years. Over half said they would take the drug.
Paraphrase (from memory) of editorial comments by Frank DeFord, on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program, 13Sep00 (I had heard the same story on a different radio program, several years ago). DeFord's conclusion was that we will probably need to accept performance enhancing drugs as part of Olympic athletic competition, in the same way as the old distinction between amateur and professional has [I forget his exact words, but they meant at the very least: been diluted].
"[T]he inequities of the free-trade economy have led to the revival of piracy.... Not far outside the [Singapore] harbor is the Horsburgh Lighthouse, the last outpost of domestic law. From Horsburgh on, you pass into the only true frontier of the 21st century; international waters -- the no man's land of the new world economy."
"Bandits in the Global Shipping Lanes", by Hack Hitt, NYT Sunday Magazine, 20Aug00, p.37.
"The Soviet Navy sent a powerful submarine to sea in the late 1980's, determined to strike some fear into the American Navy. [/] But barely before the sub, the Komsomolets, could accomplish anything, a fire burst out underwater.... [/] This disaster illustrates the long series of problems that have plagued the Russian Navy. the latest casualty being the Kursk, whose crew is lying at the bottom of the Barents sea [hoping for an unlikely rescue]. [/] Weaknesses in technology, haphazard workmanship and a lot of bad luck kept the Russian Navy from being as powerful as it often seemed to be, even during its glory days in the cold war. And though the Russians have proven to need rescue devices more than any other nation's submarine force, even their best equipment has rarely worked. [/] The dangers have proven to be occasions for great heroism. But critics say that with severe budget cuts in recent years, the problems have only grown worse."
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"A Sad Record of Submarine Disasters", by Christopher Drew, NYT, 16Aug00, p.A18. Bertolt Brecht wrote (in his play, Galileo: "Student: 'Happy the land that breeds a hero.' Galileo: 'No. Unhappy the land that needs a hero.'"[fn.112g[ Go to footnote! ]] (To read more about "The Sorrow and the Pity" of contemporary Russia, click here.)
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[ Diagram of submarine escape procedure (AP/RTR-RUSSIANTV) ]
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[ Go to more info about the Kursk tragedy! ]
"Not every conversation will change your life, but any conversation can."
Motto of "Satellite Sisters" (National Public Radio program, heard on WNYC FM, ca. noon, 12Aug00). Richard Rorty writes (Philosophy and Social Hope, p. 145): "...[T]here is... a useful distinction... between knowing what you want to get out of a person... and hoping that the person... will help you want something different -- that he or she... will help you to change your purposes, and thus to change your life..., not as a specimen reiterating a type but as an occasion for changing a previously accepted taxonomy...."
"Insecurity drives hazing. And there are sort of homosexual undertones to much of this male hazing: therefore, you have this sort of irony of going through a kind of homoerotic experience to prove you are not homosexual." (Charles Moskos, author of "The Postmodern Military")
"Join the Club: A number of recent incidents have called attention to the hazards of hazing. But what are the rituals' enduring social functions?", NYT Sunday Magazine, 19Mar00, p.22.
"We live in a climate when any of these stringent activities are seen as essentially immoral and disgusting, but if you look cross-culturally at how human organizations work, you see with exceptional frequency patterns in which young males are subjected to some kind of initiation.... It appears to serve some function whether you like it or not...." (Lionel Tiger, author of "The Decline of Males")
"Based on my work with violent men, I'd say it's a form of initiating men into the standard expected male gender role in patriarchies, namely to become... people who are expected both to inflict violence and to become the subjects of violence inflicted on them. People are willing to sacrifice their bodies in order to maintain the survival of an acceptable sense of their own masculine identity...." (Dr. James Gilligan, author of "Violence: Reflections on a Western Epidemic")
"I was puzzled by one statement in 'Dark Matters: A Cosmic Hall of Mirrors' (Week in Review, March 5): 'Despite hopes to the contrary, it now appears... that most of the universe is made from some kind of unwordly "dark matter"....' [/] Whose hopes to the contrary? Most people who think about modern cosmology at all would be thrilled to learn that such a marvelous substance exists. [/] In another era, Thoreau noted the general preference for formulaic fiction: 'Yet farmers' sons will stare by the hour to see a juggler draw ribbons from his throat, though he tells them it is all deception. Surely men love darkness rather than light.'"
Michael Witherell, director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in Letter to the Editor: "Searching for Light in a Dark Universe", NYT, 12Mar00, p.14WK. Compare Louis Kahn: "...Light is really the source of all being.... [A]ll material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light."(Lobell, p.22)
"In the latest phase of America's one-sided class war, employers have taken to monitoring employees' workplace behavior right down to a single keystroke or bathroom break, even probing into their personal concerns and leisure activities.... The price may be one's basic civil rights and... self-respect. [/] Not that the Bill of Rights ever extended to the American workplace.... [/] [W]e need... a new civil rights movement.... We can hardly call ourselves the world's pre-eminent democracy if large numbers of citizens spend half of their waking hours in what amounts, in plain terms, to a dictatorship."
"Warning: This Is A Rights-Free Work Place", Barbara Ehrenreich, NYT Sunday Magazine, 05Mar00, p.88,92. The article further asks: "The mystery [especially in a tight labor market] is why.... [/] [T]he most ubiquitous invasion of privacy is drug testing... [which c]ivil libertarians see as a violation of our Fourth Amendment protection from 'unreasonable search'.... [/] In a tight labor market, workers have another option.... They can walk. The alarming levels of turnover in low-wage jobs attest to the popularity of this tactic, and if unemployment remains low, employers may eventually decide to cut their workers some slack. Already, companies in particularly labor-starved industries... are dropping drug testing rather than lose or repel employees. But in the short tun, the mobility of workers, combined with the weakness of unions, means there is little or no sustained on-site challenge to overbearing authority."(loc.cit.)
"In [the NYT] news article about the Alaska Airlines maintenance investigation, John Liotine was identified as alerting the Federal Aviation Administration to maintenance irregularities. A fellow mechanic was quoted as complaining: 'This individual was a fanatic, he wanted it perfect.' [/] This attitude is creeping into all sectors of modern life. People who try to maintain assiduous standards are chided for failing to be 'team players' or not being 'realistic.' Free-market pragmatism has replaced the incentive to do the best job possible. [/] While improving efficiency is reasonable, the acceptance of shoddy practice and -- more critically -- the denigration of those few who still strive for excellence are among the most ominous aspects of the crash of Flight 261."
"Why Not the Best?", letter to the editor, NYT, 16Feb00, p.A26. See also: 05Dec99 entry, below.
"Among the many memorials recalling the persecution and destruction of Berlin's Jews, not one honors the Berliners who hid and protected the fugitives fron Nazism... The legacy of the[se] little unacknowledged heroes who hid and saved Jews... contradicts the self-justifying myth that the Nazi terror machine was so finely tuned that obedience was the only option, unless you were willing to risk your life.... It is surprising but true that -- with one exception -- none of the 50 people who helped Konrad Latte paid for it with their lives, or even by imprisonment.... [H]eroism cannot be mandated. But it isn't necessarily life-threatening to give bread or a bed or an address for the following night to a man on the run, an outcast; it may take only decency, some cunning, and courage.... The success of a dictatorship, like the success of the resistence to it, depends not on a few 'great leaders' but upon the civic virtue of the average citizen.... In a society of conformists and cowards, the courage of a few death-defying heroes redeems no one."
"Saving Konrad Lotte: for every Jew who was saved, dozens of Germans performed everyday acts of heroism to make it possible. This man's saviors proved that obedience wasn't the only option.", Peter Schneider, NYT Sunday Magazine, 13Feb00, pp.53,95. See also: 27Jun98 entry, below.
"Objectivity is the delusion that observations could be made without an observer."
"Heinz von Foerster (quoted in an email message; no reference).
"Actually, Dr. Weinberg does occasionally entertain the possibility that there might be a God.... [H]e imagined himself in the role of the biblical Abraham, whose faith God tested by commanding that he sacrifice his own son. [/] 'Even if there is a God,' Dr. Weinberg said, 'how do you know that his moral judgments are the correct ones? Seems to me Abraham should have said, "God, that's just not right."'"
"Scientist at Work: Steven Weinberg. Physicist Ponders God, Truth and 'a Final Theory'", James Glanz, Science Times, p.F2, NYT, 25Jan00. Note: I (BMcC) have been saying exactly the same, for many years (see, e.g., my Aphorisms #6 and 7a, and: our proper relation to myth).
Adolf Loos might say today: 'Postmodernism was a crime!'
From: "Discussion List: Botta / Death of Postmodernism" (web page: URL below -- too long to fit here).
"At age 100 Birnbaum remarked, 'If I was only 90 again... the things I would do!'"
"In Memory of Aaron Birnbaum 1895-1998", advertisement by K.S. Art, Winter 1998/99 "Folk Art" magazine, p.27.
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