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1 week Ago

Retribution, not justice

Published by marco on

“I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions–poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed–which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished.”
Howard Zinn (You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train)

3 weeks Ago

Revolution is not safe

Published by marco on

“Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.”
James Baldwin

The first revolution

Published by marco on

“The first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things and see there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown.”
Gil Scott-Heron

5 months Ago

You just don’t get it, man

Published by marco on

The article ”That’s Why It’s Poetry” by Eugene Volokh (Reason) commemorates the recent death of Lawrence Ferlinghetti with a wonderful story, not directly about Ferlinghetti, but about one expert witness’s testimony at his trial for obscenity for having published Howl. It wasn’t so long ago in America that people were being prosecuted for obscenity.

That trial was in 1957. Just over 60 years later and it seems kind of far-fetched to think we may see the like again. The goal is to sanction unsanctioned[1] ideas, to keep... [More]

6 months Ago

A matter of degree

Published by marco on

“Everyone is self-centered; the radius differs.”

Unbreakable / Unverwüstlich

Published by marco on

“There’s this famous story about Sonny Barger, the old Hells Angel who woke up from a coma after a motorcycle accident. And the nurse said to him, “Well, I hope you’ve learned your lesson, Mr. Barger.” He said, “Yes, I did.” And she said, “What’s that?” He said, “I can do anything and survive.””
From a Daily Show interview by Doug Henwood

How to ask the Internet

Published by marco on

“This is a well-known internet phenomenon: The best way to get the right answer is not to ask a question, but to confidently assert the wrong answer.”

8 months Ago

Dragging him down

Published by marco on

“As soon as a man does something admirable, the entire universe conspires to see that he never does it again.”
The Art of Fiction No. 210 by Goethe (via Samuel R. Delany)

9 months Ago

Democracy is machine learning?

Published by marco on

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”
H.L. Mencken

How the Few Rule

Published by marco on

“Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, and the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is... [More]”
David Hume

Hunter S. Thompson called it almost 50 years ago

Published by marco on

“The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage and whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy—then go back to the office and sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.”

10 months Ago

Definitions of Diplomacy

Published by marco on

I recently saw two definitions of diplomacy that I liked very much. I’ve included them below with the original attributions and have made no effort to ascertain their accuracy. I think the quotes stand on their own, regardless of who is purported to have said them.

“Diplomacy is the art of building ladders to allow people to climb down gracefully.”
Otto von Bismarck
“Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a manner that they look forward to the trip.”
Churchill

11 months Ago

Memory

Published by marco on

“Maybe the greatest miracle is memory”
Brian Doyle


Found in the article Two Poems by Michael Garrigan (ecotheoreview). Both are quite nice. I had to look up Thomas Merton.

 

A surfeit of unearned confidence

Published by marco on

“You suffer from the arrogance of ignorance.”
The Man in the High Castle

Fortune-telling

Published by marco on

“Yours is like all fortunes, Shadow: opaque on arrival, inevitable in retrospect.”
Wednesday (American Gods S01E01)

Soft tyranny

Published by marco on

Life in the 21st century is all about the soft tyranny of lowered expectations.

By all means

Published by marco on

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
Napoleon Bonaparte


Whether Napoleon actually said it or not is immaterial.

 

Puritanism

Published by marco on

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
From Mencken Chrestomathy by H.L. Mencken in January 1925 (Quote Investigator)

The linked article above includes a related quote:

“That seems to be the haunting fear of mankind — that the advancement of women will sometime, someway, someplace, interfere with some man’s comfort.”
Nellie L. McClung in 1915

1 year Ago

Focused laser-like on the present

Published by marco on

“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose.”
William James

Shit Rolls Downhill as Public Policy

Published by marco on

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.[1]


[1] I can’t help but think that current U.S. President Donald J. Trump is only too aware of this stratagem—because it’s working for him like for nearly no other before him. People are not only emptying their pockets but are nearly sacrificing themselves on the altar of his reputation.

Rising above the muck isn’t even that hard

Published by marco on

“[in America] the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head.”

We’ve known for a long time

Published by marco on

The post Two centuries and nothing has changed referred to the image below,

 Marx on Nature and Human Beings

It’s nicely put together, but it’s also not the original quote, which someone included in the comments in a giant wall of text from an English translation.

I found the original in German:

“Die kapitalistische Produktion entwickelt daher nur die Technik und Kombination des gesellschaftlichen Produktionsprozesses, indem sie zugleich die Springquellen alles Reichtums untergräbt: die Erde und den Arbeiter.”

The... [More]

Learning from History

Published by marco on

The original quote is shown below.

“Was die Erfahrung aber und die Geschichte lehren, ist dieses, dass Völker und Regierungen niemals etwas aus der Geschichte gelernt und nach Lehren, die aus derselben zu ziehen gewesen wären, gehandelt haben.”

The following is my best attempt at a direct translation, which I hope imparts just how balky the original is.

“But what experience and history have taught, is that society and governments never learn anything from history and acted on lessons from... [More]”

The sunken cost of being conned

Published by marco on

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

2 years Ago

Eco on Writing

Published by marco on

“Writing is a way of revealing the contradictions of life that one would like to resolve. Writing fiction, like poetry, means simply to display those contradictions but not necessarily to resolve them. In fact, the reader, through his interpretive cooperation, decides what the story means.”

Beats Thinkin’

Published by marco on

“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking.”
Sir Joshua Reynolds

Fanaticism

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“Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”
George Santayana

If Wishes were Mutexes

Published by marco on

Text Editing Hates You Too (Lord.io)

“Although holding a lock across process boundaries may sound questionable to you, most other platforms try to use imperfect heuristics to fix concurrency issues. Or they just hope race conditions don’t happen. In my experience, prayers are not a very effective concurrency primitive.

Going along to get along

Published by marco on

“[…] getting along in society includes some recognition of not being the worst person you can be even though you have a right to do so.”

On successfully navigating tricky grammatical seas

Published by marco on

“When I look at people that I would like to feel have been a mentor or an inspiring kind of archetype of what I’d love to see my career eventually be mentioned as a footnote for in the same paragraph, it would be, like, Bowie.”
Mark Liberman on November 3, 2005 (Language Log)