277 Articles


11 years Ago

Revenge-Taking Through Murder

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“But what this scene, and much else that I saw in Germany, brought home to me was that the whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish daydream. Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act which you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless: as soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also.”

The citation above was linked into a discussion on Reddit about the death penalty. At a guess, 90% of the participants... [More]

The Road Not Traveled

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“Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we’re fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.

“Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be... [More]”

November 20, 2009 by Bill Moyers (PBS)

Misplaced Pride

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“Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”

This user streams comments that come, purportedly, from his father. Some are quite pithy.

When immoral is made legal

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“And that’s the terrible myth of organized society, that everything that’s done through the established system is legal, and that word has a powerful psychological impact. It makes people believe that there is an order to life and an order to a system and that a person that goes through this order and is convicted has gotten all that is due him, and therefore society can turn its conscience off and look to other things and other times. And that’s the terrible thing about these past trials, is... [More]”
William Kunstler (Democracy Now)

Hard Problems

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“There are only two hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation and naming things.”
Phil Karlton


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“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized God doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness.”

Laws, not Confidence

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“It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights; that confidence is every where [sic] the parent of despotism; […] our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no farther, our confidence may go; […] In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”


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“Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument.”
William E. Gladstone

Reasons Trump Conclusions

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“There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear.”
Daniel Dennet


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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

Definition of Reality

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“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

12 years Ago

Revolution is Inevitable

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“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
In a speech at the White House on 1962 (John F. Kennedy)

Keep the Mystery Alive

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“’Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”
Abraham Lincoln

Choosing Sides

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“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.”
Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam by Martin Luther King, citing Dante Alighieri (YouTube)

Enemy of Knowledge

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“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance…it is the illusion of knowledge.”
Stephen Hawking


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“It’s like you have a job interview and you discover every shirt in your closet is dirty. What do you do? You wear the least dirty one. That’s Karzai.”
Our Man in Kabul by Anonymous Afghanistani (Harper's)

When Last We Were Out of Ideas

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“A host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

“Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts….Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rules of the exchange... [More]”

Role Reversal

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“I don’t think it’s America’s role to go into other countries and say ‘this is how we do things…so should you.’”
George W. Bush on September 2000

Faith in That Which You Don’t Understand

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“Anyone who is critical of organized religion and, at the same time, invests in the stockmarket, is a hypocrite.”
Naseem Taleb

Justifying Your Bigoted Position

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“Dude, don’t try to cover your hate with numbers.”
Chuck Mertz on December 19th, 2008 (This is Hell Radio Show)

The factoid on the table was that 0.7% of the world population at any given time is drunk. Krys Bigosinski (who is Polish), immediately blurted that “most of them were in Russia” and, when called on it, started using pseudo-math to justify his position.

The practice of “covering hate with numbers” is an extremely common one and not nearly often enough called out for what it is.

Coming to Terms with Google Hive-Mind

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“Of course you’re instantly a unit in Great Google’s Adword databank of commercial trickery and avarice – but if you’re cool with that, as I lazily am, the advantages are legion. I use Gmail as a hub for all my email accounts and I am hopelessly devoted to Google Calendars. The G1 had all my Google data installed and syncing within moments of connection.”

It Beats Thinkin’

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“Propaganda has but one brush—a broad one—and only two colors—black and white; despite this—or, most likely, because of it, people prefer it to a plethora of brush sizes and myriad grays.”


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“What better way to control a man than by giving him the vote and telling him he’s free?”
Albert Camus

The Gold Standard

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“[Gold] gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”

How to Lose an Argument

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“Never argue with idiots; they’ll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

The Perfect Argument

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“For once, it would be nice to hear a logical chain of reasoning that doesn’t include any leaps of faith, and isn’t based on the 100%-certainty of a guy whose proof is hidden behind a wall of national security. Especially when that guy’s been wrong every other time he’s opened his mouth. Any discussion that refers to a guy like that is a waste of time for everyone involved.”

The Convergence of Postmodernism and Republican Thought

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“The very idea that there is no truth, but only the filter of narrative through which truth is invented is something I learned at the feet of the most leftist professors at Yale and am learning again from Sarah Palin during the Vice Presidential debate, and I find that very disorienting.”
Interview by John Hodgman (The AV Club)


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“But we are suggesting neither that the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that the machines would willfully seize power. What we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. … Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings... [More]”

Learning How To Think

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“The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.[…] learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to... [More]”
Kenyon Commencement Address by David Foster Wallace on May 21, 2005


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“A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.”
George Santayana