263 Articles


3 years Ago

Herding Sheep

Published by marco on

“The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen.

“What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed?

“If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history.

“On... [More]”

Costs nothing? Worth nothing.

Published by marco on

“That which can be presented without evidence, can be dismissed without consideration.[1]

[1] Known informally as Hitchens’s razor (Wikipedia), it is actually an English translation of the Latin proverb “Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur” (“what is freely asserted is freely dismissed”), which was commonly used in the 19th century.

Fakes of fakes

Published by marco on

“All of the news is fake when corporate media connive with the powerful to produce their desired ends.”

A realization

Published by marco on

“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
The Chaplain in Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

A technocratic solution

Published by marco on

“Were I asked to fix the world, I would approach the problem as a software engineer. I would take my best guess at the likely cause of most of the problems, comment out the “USA” module…and see if it runs just fine without it.”

Letting go

Published by marco on

“I used to be snow white, but I drifted.”
Mae West

Untrained Pilots

Published by marco on

“We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures, and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are... [More]”

Less well-known Adam Smith

Published by marco on

“Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”
Adam Smith
“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”
Adam Smith

Rage Against the Machine

Published by marco on

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Why propaganda works

Published by marco on

“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.[1]
Oscar Wilde

[1] @Nid: This is what I was much less eloquently saying on the phone yesterday.

Capitalism is the engine behind racism

Published by marco on

“If a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power. Racism gets its power from capitalism. Thus, if you’re anti-racist, whether you know it or not, you must be anti-capitalist. The power for racism, the power for sexism, comes from capitalism, not an attitude.”
Stokely Carmichael

New England in a Nutshell

Published by marco on

“All the towns up here are just two dirty piles of snow connected by a covered bridge.”
Dan Egan played by Reid Scott (HBO's Veep S05E07)

Ruthless Introspection

Published by marco on

“If others examined themselves attentively, as I do, they would find themselves, as I do, full of inanity and nonsense. Get rid of it I cannot without getting rid of myself. We are all steeped in it, one as much as another.”

Spoiler alert: This was the answer to the acrostic puzzle linked above.

4 years Ago

Inverse Arrogance

Published by marco on

“America is the only country in the world where failure to promote oneself is considered arrogant.”

Invisible Privilege

Published by marco on

“It’s easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has turned out to your favor.”
Game of Thrones S05E10 by Tyrion Lannister
“Born on third; thinks he hit a triple.”
Bushleaguer by Pearl Jam

Defensive Economics

Published by marco on

“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”

We are watching and we are Legion

Published by marco on

“The threat is no longer Big Brother, but instead thousands of Little Brothers.”

The main advantage of a type-safe language

Published by marco on

“A type system is the most cost-effective unit test you’ll ever have.”
Peter Hallam

On the inadequacy of language

Published by marco on

“He knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless, and more nameless than the colours of an autumn forest… Yet he seriously believes that these things can every one of them, in all their tones and semitones, in all their blends and unions, be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals. He believes that an ordinary civilized stockbroker can really produce out of his own inside noises which denote all the mysteries of memory and all the agonies... [More]”
Words by G.K. Chesterton (The Language Log)

5 years Ago

XX beats XY

Published by marco on

“Women, my friend, are the new men. They get things done. Our female colleagues are sane and smart, they stick together and they smell a helluva lot better than we do.”
Senator Gil John Biggs (Alpha House S02E09: Will There be Water)

Alpha House is a TV show on Amazon Prime about four Republican U.S. Senators living together in a house in Washington D.C. John Goodman is just fantastic as Gil John Biggs. Definitely worth a watch: it might even be better than Veep.

It’s all relative

Published by marco on

“Relativity is like this: If you have seven hairs on your head, it’s very few but if you have seven hairs in your milk, it’s very many.[1]
Why Life is Absurd by Rivka Weinberg (New York Times)

Excerpt from the comedy routine “Einstein/Weinstein,” by the Yiddish comedy duo Shimon Dzigan and Yisroel Shumacher.

Depose the King

Published by marco on

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.”
Speech at National Book Awards by Ursula K. Le Guin

Invisible violence

Published by marco on

“Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.

“But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all.


“Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place... [More]”

Harold Pinter: Art, Truth & Politics by Harold Pinter on December 7th, 2005 (Nobel Prize.Org)

My entire life it’s been like this

Published by marco on

“There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party…and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt…and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.”
State of the Union by Gore Vidal on 1975

Believe everything you read

Published by marco on

“I believe everything I read on the Internet. Why would you not? Someone took the time to write it—they’re not going to lie.”
John F. O'Donnell

When you really start learning

Published by marco on

“The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”

Doing something worthwhile vs. working for a living

Published by marco on

“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist.... [More]”
Buckminster Fuller on March 30th, 1970 (The New York Magazine)

6 years Ago

Big Business

Published by marco on

“As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.”
John Dewey

The job of a descriptivist linguist

Published by marco on

“Yes, there are rules of grammar. It is Coogan’s job (and yours) to try to obey them. And it is my job as a linguist to try and figure out what they are, and to state them precisely. And also to not be a jerk about it: my job as a language user is to forgive Coogan (or you) for any difficulty he (or you) might have in following them in spontaneous speech, and to use my common sense in trying to figure out what he (or you) might have meant.”
Everything he was in he raised the quality by Geoffrey K. Pullum (Language Log)

The Self-hating American

Published by marco on

Page 128–130 of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut on 1969
“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by... [More]”