277 Articles


8 years Ago

English as inveterate lexical criminal

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“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
The King's English by James D. Nicoll on May 1990 (Google Groups)

Hat tip to ”English is a little bit like a child” by Mark Liberman (Language Log) for the reference.

Being funny for a living

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“People will be expecting me to be funny already. Funny already. A test I’ve failed many times. “Hey, there’s the comedian. He doesn’t seem funny.” No shit. Because I’m trippin’ out, man. Here you are surrounded by those you know well. And here I am, fish outta water struggling to breathe. Tell you what…you be funny now. I’ll be quiet. A quiet guy is not necessarily unfunny. Think of Charlie Chaplin. The space shuttle soars through space. But most of the time it’s parked. Maybe on a launch pad.... [More]
Scary Situation by Mitch Hedberg

Re-election Stump Speech

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“For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up. We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as... [More]”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

9 years Ago

Accident versus Design

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“If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top […] that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings.”
Buckminster Fuller

Henry Rollins on Music Prices

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“You people have awful prices for CDs. $35 for a fucking CD? That’s awful. Why is anyone going to buy any music at [those] kind of prices? When you see shit like that, burn the record store down and steal the shit. That’s what I think you should do. And if you see any of my CDs at that price and you can steal the shit online? Do it. I’d rather be heard than paid. Fuck it.”
Provoked, part 8 of 14 by Henry Rollins (YouTube)

Rollins was addressing an Australian audience, but the pricing totally applies to Switzerland as well.

A Devastating Book Review

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“Yet Dildo Cay is bad in ways that surpass its title. The product less of an unsteady hand than of a resoundingly tin ear, the novel’s prose is so categorically graceless as to supersede camp and plunge straight into ontological confusion.”
The Worst Book Ever is ‘Dildo Cay’ by Jonathan P. Eburne (PWxyz)


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“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains”
Rosa Luxemburg

Dave Chappelle on Richard Pryor

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“The mark of greatness is when everything that came before is obsolete and everything that comes after bears your mark.”
Dave Chappelle, on Inside the Actor's studio, citing an article about Richard Pryor

A Measure of Freedom

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“You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.”
Abbie Hoffman on 1989

A Fitting Epitaph

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“A middle-aged nonentity, a political failure outstripped by history – by the millions of Arabs demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East – died in Pakistan yesterday. And then the world went mad.”

All Good Programming Languages Suck

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“Never trust a [programming] language where its users won’t tell you that it sucks.”

I would amend this to:

“Never trust a programmer’s opinion about a programming language if he or she cannot give you at least one reason why that language sucks.”

If we can’t, then no-one can

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“There’s 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.”
Speech on the Sproul Hall Steps by Mario Savio on December 2, 1964

This was 45 years ago and the wheel of... [More]

Either Or

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“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
Louis D. Brandeis, LL.B. on 1877 (quoted in Labor, October 14, 1941)

Therein Lies the Rub

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“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Bertrand Russell

10 years Ago

Wait up!

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“Folks, once again America is falling behind. It’s not fair, though—we’re all obese, we can’t walk that fast.”
Stephen Colbert

A One-Rule User Manual for the Internet

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The author wound up an article on recent findings on climate change with the following paragraph:

“Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, lack of scientific knowledge, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for empirical data. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse…you are anonymous after... [More]”

Internet Society

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“Socializing on the Internet is to socializing as reality TV is to reality.”
Aaron Sorkin on September 30, 2010 (The Colbert Report Interview)

Soccer in America

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“Soccer is just one more thing the rest of the world is trying to cram down our throats, like the Metric System and the Geneva Convention.”
Stephen Colbert on June 10th, 2010

U.S. Policy

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“The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.”
Winston Churchill

What it is to be Liberal

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“The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”
Bertrand Russell

The Right Question to Ask

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“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”
Mahatma Gandhi

This was found as a comment on a Photo Essay of Vietnam (Big Picture Blog), which included photos from the war 35 years ago. It was one of the few thoughtful comments on a page full of jingoist fools defending the notion of America’s essential goodness and the necessity of war in the face of all historical fact.


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“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.”


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“This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent.”

11 years Ago

Roosevelt on Republicans and the Free Market

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“Our Republican leaders tell us economic laws–sacred, inviolable, unchangeable–cause panics which no one could prevent. But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.”

Plus ça change, plus ce’st la même chose. *Sigh.*

Dorchen on Libertarians

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“Oh no, now I’ve done it. Now the libertarians are starting to cry. Thirty years of anti-government sabotage of consumer, worker and environmental protections weren’t enough. Not enough people are out of work for the Cato Institute. Not enough kids are going hungry for the libertarians. Not enough families are homeless. Not enough water is undrinkable yet. There are still some working class people who can afford to go the doctor now and then. There are still times when courts award decent... [More]”
The Crybabies of 2010 by Jeff Dorchen

Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder

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“To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good . . . Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.”
from The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The Poor are Honest

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“What happened about twenty years ago is that bankers said they made an anthropological discovery, a breakthrough. They found out that the poor are honest. Almost the only people who believed that they should repay their debts are the poor people. And in fact, the less money you have, the more you believe that the debts should be paid. …Even though the poorer you are the higher the interest rate you pay, the poorer you are the greater the likelihood the bank has that you’re going to repay the... [More]”

“Market”, “Progress”, “Development” and “Reforms” Redefined

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“Today, words like ‘Progress’ and ‘Development’ have become interchangeable with economic ‘Reforms’, Deregulation and Privatisation. ‘Freedom’ has come to mean ‘choice’. It has less to do with the human spirit than with different brands of deodorant. ‘Market’ no longer means a place where you go to buy provisions. The ‘Market’ is a de-territorialised space where faceless corporations do business, including buying and selling ‘futures’. […] This theft of language, this technique of usurping... [More]”

It Never Happened

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“Why is the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought of Stalinist Russia well known in the West while American criminal actions never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it never happened. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”
Acceptance Speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature by Harold Pinter (

Cited from the article Breaking the Australian Silence by John Pilger (


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“’Cynicism’ is invading a country for the sorts of reasons that have guided the United States in most of their interventionist actions since World War II. There is a American kid in Afghanistan who is going to die tomorrow because Rahm Emmanuel doesn’t want his boss to have to answer toughness questions from somebody like Brian Williams in a 2012 electoral debate. And I’m the cynic here?”