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"God is in the details" (--Mies van der Rohe[fn.46c[ Go to footnote! ]]
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61[ Return to footnote trigger! ] A couple years ago, I was surprised to learn that one of my maternal uncles made an important contribution to American air combat user interface engineering in World War II: He re-designed the insignia on American aircraft to enable our pilots to better distinguish U.S. from enemy planes in combat, thus reducing losses to friendly fire. See: Friend of foe? How the Star acquired Bars and saved lives.
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Had the young gentleman been suffering from paranoia instead of amnesia, instead of discovering the universal laws of physics, this thought might have led him, long before "Chicken Little", to the disturbing conclusion that the sky is falling. Mr. Newton might then be remembered today as a pioneer in air-raid shelter engineering. [ ] [ Whatever happened to Chicken Little? ]
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"This is not a partisan issue, folks. This is an issue that is important for America. This is an American issue, a uniquely American issue. And it's -- as I reminded the members, that -- I say uniquely American issue because I truly believe that now that the war has changed, now that we're a battlefield, [Saddam Hussein] poses a much graver threat than anybody could have possibly imagined. Other countries, of course, bear the same risk. But there's no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us. There's no doubt he can't stand us. After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time." (George W Bush, "Remarks by the President at John Cornyn for Senate Reception", White House Press Release, 26Sep02, 5:36PM CDT) Ed. note: Is George W Bush to Captain Ahab as Saddam Hussein is to Moby Dick and as the U.S. Ship of State is to the Pequod? [ ] [ Moby Dick sinks the Pequod ]
64[ Return to footnote trigger! ] In response to this picture appearing in the New York Times (and other media?), numerous Americans posted vituperative messages in the Zeno restaurant's website guestbook, with titles including: "HOW DARE YOU", "I hope you will do well under northern rule", "Americans Go Home" (because: "You [South Koreans] have failed as human beings"), "Ungrateful Koreans", etc.
65[ Return to footnote trigger! ] Who is a stranger? People think of persons who come from foreign counrties and alien cultures as being "strangers", and they are. But perhaps what makes them strangers on this way of thinking is that these persons do not conform to the folkways of the people's society nor can they easily be changed to do so. I would argue that even our next-door neighbors and our own children are strangers, insofar as they are permitted -- and even fostered -- to elaborate their own interpretations of things instead of being made thru manipulative childrearing, education, etc. to be like us, i.e., to instantiate the same folkways (prejudices. etc.) as we have been manipulated to instantiate. We should even strike ourselves as strangers, esp. insofar as we come to recognize that what "we" believe is really something we have been manipulatively childreared or otherwise "acculturated" to believe, so that the judgment is not really our own. Insofar as a judgment really is our own, we should still wonder "where it came from" (everything is strange).
66[ Return to footnote trigger! ] The article continues: "The house curved like a banana; once you were inside, the shape prevented you at first from seeing the window in the back. When you finally got to the window-framed view, it was partly obstructed by a video monitor, displaying the same vista." But the picture of the view superimposed as part of the view is at least as old-hat as Magritte.
67[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "...Everywhere journeying, inexperienced and without issue, [man] comes to nothingness. Through no flight can he resist the one assault of death, even if he has succeeded in cleverly avoiding painful sickness...." Sophocles, "Ode to Man", in Antigone (quoted from Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, tr. Ralph Mannheim, Doubleday Anchor Books, 1961, p.124).
68[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "There was no way the four architects at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in New York were going to fly to Beijing... in the midst of the SARS epidemic for a meeting with officials of the developer of an office tower there and two consultants who were supposed to be arriving from the Philippines. [/] Instead, said James R. Brogan, K.P.F.'s director of information technology, the various parties -- all 40 of them -- got the job done over the Web and by videoconferencing. 'We used WebEx to share material, a PowerPoint presentation, CAD drawings and digital images,' Mr. Brogan said. 'We could also sketch and mark things up. It was completely interactive.' [/] Mr. Brogan's delight at the outcome -- not only did his firm accomplish what it set out to do, but it also saved a lot of time and money -- is enough to make a grown airline chief executive cry. Battered by terrorist attacks, a wobbly world economy and the severe acute respiratory syndrome scare, the entire travel industry now has to cope with corporate America's growing love affair with teleconferencing." (Jane L. Levere, "Virtual Travel Gives the Airlines Real Heartburn", NYT on the Web, 06May03)
69[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "Purposelessness can also be a great reassurance -- namely, the reassurance that the end is not pursued at the expense of the means and is not directed against an element in the system." (Hans Blumenthal, The Genesis of the Copernican World, MIT Press, 1987, p.566)
70[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "Calculus" is a synomyn for tartar (calcium carbonate). Look it up in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, e.g.
71[ Return to footnote trigger! ] In his book, Disturbing the Universe, Freeman Dyson explained that, at Bomber Command in England during World War II, once, when less than the required percentage of bombs fell within the specified target radius, he was instructed to increase the target radius to achieve the desired hit rate. Consider also this article from the New York Times: "Growing numbers of students -- most of them struggling academically -- are being pushed out of New York City's school system and classified under bureaucratic categories that hide their failure to graduate.... Those students represent the unintended consequence of the effort to hold schools accountable for raising standards: As students are being spurred to new levels of academic achievement and required to pass stringent Regents exams to get their high school diplomas, many schools are trying to get rid of those who may tarnish the schools' statistics by failing to graduate on time." (Tamar Lewin and Jennifer Medina, "To Cut Failure Rate, Schools Shed Students", NYT on the Web, 31Jul03)
72[ Return to footnote trigger! ] To live in a well ordered world (a cosmos), one needs also to live in a well ordered social world (a polis). A polis is a community in which the members of the community collegially legislate the form of their shared life, as opposed to others -- even "representatives" -- determining their form of life "for" them. Cosmos and polis go together, as: cosmopolis.
73[ Return to footnote trigger! ] Of course there are more appealing kinds of winners. There are those who take the initiative to walk over and shake hands with the loser and congratulate the loser on having played well, too. Even more appealing, to myself, are the winners who bow their head in genuine humility, recognizing that, no matter how hard they trained and applied themselves in the competition, and no matter how great their talents and other gifts, there was a great deal of good luck involved in enabling them to win. There was once a program on PBS which illustrated this in a non-competitive context: a master seal hunter exclaiming how he almost missed after making an expert catch.
74[ Return to footnote trigger! ] According to a recent (Winter 2002-3) PBS program, Thomas Jefferson originally conceived the University of Virginia as a place where persons would go when they felt they needed or wanted to learn something, and leave when they felt they had learned enough for the moment (they could return again, later...). There would be no "admissions process". The University would not give grades or grant degrees. And the students would generally be adults already engaged in productive social and economic life.
75[ Return to footnote trigger! ] I do clearly remember one story from one of these comic books that stuck with me: A little boy waits eagerly for the camera he ordered by mail to arrive. The boy goes out to the mail box and finds the camera has arrived. In his eagerness, he runs up the stairs back into the house. He trips. He falls. The camera is smashed to pieces.
76[ Return to footnote trigger! ] [ Superman: Fighting 'dirty' for truth, justice and the American Way! ]I remember one Superman episode that disillusioned me about Superman's character: A criminal had constructed a stainless steel cube in which he was waiting for the statute of limitations on his crimes to expire. The criminal had a clock which was synchronized to the U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock. Superman could not penetrate the cube to bring the criminal to justice. Superman went to the U.S. Naval Observatory, and asked them to speed up the Master Clock. The USNO complied. At 5 minutes past the expiration of the statute of limitations, according to the now dishonest U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock, the criminal emerged from his cube and was arrested. I was very disappointed that Superman would stoop to such dishonesty.
77[ Return to footnote trigger! ] It appears my impression of this sculpture was due to a misleading black-and-white photo in an old edition of Janson's History of Art. This picture led me to believe the sculpture was "intimate" in size -- no more than 3 feet tall, and with a very rich black patina. One aspect that made the sculpture look sensual was that one looked down on David's hat, so that his eyes were partially hidden under the brim. (Click here to see statue.) But I now read in a later edition of Janson, that the sculpture is over 5 feet tall (so that either one looks at the face at eye-level, or looks up to the eyes...), and has a brown patina, so my "idea of it" may be mistaken. If so, then I like a sculpture which does not exist but should. I apologize if I misled anyone.
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"I don't know how close we are to getting Saddam Hussein. You know -- it's closer than we were yesterday, I guess. All I know is we're on the hunt. It's like if you had asked me right before we got his sons how close we were to get his sons, I'd say, I don't know, but we're on the hunt." (George W Bush, Press Conference, 30Jul03 10:33EDT; emphasis added) U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein on 13 December 2003, hiding in an underground "spider hole", near his home town Tikrit (Iraq).
79[ Return to footnote trigger! ] This is the first time I have ever been able to see so distinctly how making one specific choice differently would have changed my life. Usually I don't see how I had any other plausible choices than the one I took (no matter how disappointing its effects...), and/or the force of context seems to make specific decisions relatively inconsequential.
80[ Return to footnote trigger! ] WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In another White House correction, the Bush administration on Wednesday changed its story of a British Airways pilot's spotting of Air Force One during the president's stealth trip to Iraq last week. The original story -- which held that the airline's pilot had talked to Air Force One and that he kept the secret of President Bush's Thanksgiving Day flight to Baghdad -- had been told by White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett to reporters as he sought to portray the drama of Bush's trip. But after British Airways denied such a conversation took place, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Wednesday the airline's pilot never contacted Air Force One. "The conversation was between the British Airways plane and the London control tower," McClellan said. It was also the London control tower, not an Air Force One pilot as in the original story, that misidentified Air Force One as a much smaller "Gulfstream 5" aircraft, McClellan said. He said Air Force One pilots overheard the conversation while flying over the west coast of England, and the British Airways plane could be identified by its call sign when it spoke to the tower. McClellan declined to say whether Air Force One had sent a false electronic identification or whether controllers were in on the deception. British Airways said it could not confirm the new account. White House officials have said the elaborate secrecy surrounding the trip was needed to ensure Bush's security in Iraq, but some critics accused the administration of dramatizing the trip for political purposes. McClellan explained the change in the White House story by saying, "I don't think everybody was clear on exactly how that conversation happened." The White House has come under criticism for backtracking on its account of other high profile events. In October [2003] it conceded it had helped with a large "Mission Accomplished" banner on an aircraft carrier where Bush announced in May that major fighting had ended in Iraq. Bush had initially said his advance team did not put up the banner, whose message critics viewed as premature given continued attacks on occupying forces in Iraq. Also, the White House had initially said Bush needed to fly to the carrier on a jet because the vessel would be hundreds of miles offshore. But the administration later acknowledged that Bush decided on flying by jet, even through the carrier had ended up within easy helicopter range, because he wanted to share in the pilots' experience. (--Randall Mikkelsen, "White House Changes Story on Bush Plane Incident", Thu December 4, 2003 09:56 AM ET, Reuters)
81[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "...the metaphor of the stream of time was used destructively by Francis Bacon in attacking the assurance that truth was to be the daughter of time; out of this stream, only what was light enough not to sink into the river reached our present position, according to Bacon -- the metaphorical proof of tradition's failure with respect to the burden of truth." (Hans Blumenberg, Shipwreck with Spectator: Paradigm of a Metaphor for Existence, MIT, 1997 pp.87-8; Please find extensive quotes from Blumenberg's essay, in my "Shipwreck with Spctator" page on this website)
82[ Return to footnote trigger! ] The whole Microsoft advertisement goes: "Your potential inspires us to create software that helps you reach it. Microsoft: Your potential, our passion." I (BMcC) think we need: compassionate computing, i.e., computer systems that minimize the suffering they cause to all persons involved with them: end users, tech support and customer service reps, programmers, et al. Where frustration cannot be removed, bring to bear supportive social infrastructure to make it more bearable. Note: While I was typing these very words (ca. 06:35AM 31Dec03), my computer locked up in a mode where the cursor frantically scrolled every menu it got into, went to the end of every text field in a form and refused to let me type into the field, etc. Finally I got the computer rebooted and the problem seems gone. This was very frustrating. (See also: Quote #179, Computer aphorism #0)
83[ Return to footnote trigger! ] This last point about learning new things from books one has long since had in one's library, struck me on 05 January 2004. I needed something to read, and I picked out the book of Adolf Loos essays I have: Ornament and Crime. I started reading an essay in the book I had not previously read: "Plumbers: Baths and Kitchen Ranges at the Jubilee Exhibition" (1898). I was surprised to discover that Loos had his ideas about ornamentation being inappropriate to our civilization, a decade before his famous 1908 essay: "Ornament and Crime". I learned something new and interesting from a book that had long been in my personal library.
84[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "'Guangdong is entering an extraordinary period, and extraordinary measures are called for,' Feng Liuxiang, a provincial health official, was quoted saying in state media. The official Guangzhou Daily newspaper said all civet cats in the city were being taken to a central plant and drowned in their cages in vats of disinfectant. Their carcasses were placed in a pressure cooker set at 392 degrees, destroying them and killing all bacteria. The remains were being processed at a sewage plant, the newspaper said. Samples of the civet cats' excretions were being collected for research purposes, and all materials that came into contact with the animals were destroyed in an incinerator, the newspaper said.... Health officials have been unable to determine how the latest patient was infected. They said he had no known contact with civet cats." (Philip P. Pan, "Fearing SARS, China Begins Mass Killing Of Civet Cats", The Washington Post, 07Jan04, p.A17)
85[ Return to footnote trigger! ] "Four years ago [2000]... Ralph Nader... said he was running for president because he believed that the major-party nominees, Mr. Gore and George W. Bush, were virtually indistinguishable.... Now Mr. Nader, 69, says he has seen enough of Mr. Bush's administration to make defeating him and ending Republican control of Congress the chief goals. And those goals are more achievable, he says, if he joins the race. That may be a hard sell to many Democrats, given the effect he had on the 2000 election as the Green Party's nominee. He finished with nearly 3 percent of the national electorate and won enough votes in Florida -- more than 97,000 -- to deny Mr. Gore the state, even in Mr. Nader's calculation that he won half as many votes from Republicans as from Democrats. After recounts, Mr. Bush won Florida by only 537 votes, and with it the presidency." (Michael Janofsky, "Nader Says a Run Would Benefit Democrats", NYT, 10Jan04, p.A9)
86[ Return to footnote trigger! ] [ Another -- but nicer -- house being built 'on spec' in Chappaqua ]"House of the Day", NYT on the Web, 31Jan04. I am aware that "House of the Day" is paid advertising, but the NYT could exercise some quality control. Certainly this advertisement does not enhance the newspaper's reputation or dignity. Alternatively, this house could have been offered as "damaged goods", at a greatly reduced price. Aside: On the North side of Chappaqua, another spec house is being built. It contrasts with this one in that a lot of attention seems to be being lavished on both the house and the landscaping (See picture at right).
87[ Return to footnote trigger! ] I watched Platoon, for the first time, 27 Feb 2004. I think what Mr. Honold is referring to here is the commitment the protagonist makes to remember the terrible things he has experienced, and to try to prevent such things from ever happening again. I need to watch the ending of the movie again to become clearer here. I do think Platoon well illustrates some of the things Mr. Honold asserts in this essay; the movie is a convincing portrayal of horrors of war.
88[ Return to footnote trigger! ] I began using yellow warning icon ["[ Watch out! ]"] here, February 2004.
89[ Return to footnote trigger! ] The poem in Genji reads: "Nothing lasts forever in this world, where one season changes into another."
90[ Return to footnote trigger! ] Prosecutors in this [what I have called:] "Abraham and Isaac, 2004" case, presented an aspect I had not previously thought of: "They also portrayed the attacks as selfish acts in which Laney sacrificed her children to save her own soul from eternal damnation." (ibid.; "Experts: Woman thought she was obeying God", CNN, Saturday, April 3, 2004 Posted: 9:35 AM EST (1435 GMT))
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When I worked in IBM in Poughkeepsie (ca. 1979), there was an engineer nearing retirement age who sat in a nearly empty office (he did have a desk and a chair). I used to imagine that, at lunchtime, his coworkers would stand him up on a little dolly with a string attached and pull him to the cafeteria behind them.... In any case, I hypothesized that no matter what one asked such a person, their response would contain no information, like the carrier signal on the phone after the other party hangs up. I started thinking of such persons as: "Mr. Dialtone".
92[ Return to footnote trigger! ] A mother is fixing lunch for her child. She has some fully cooked deli ham, and bread. She asks the child if the child wants a fried ham sandwich, i.e., she thinks to show her care for her child by not just putting a couple slices of the ham between two slices of bread, but by dirtying a frying pan, adding extra grease to the ham, etc. Perhaps both mother and child's imaginative horizons are so limited that they get creative fascination out of the [nonproductive -- even wasteful...] activity of frying the ham?
93[ Return to footnote trigger! ] If your guestbook submission is not among these "especially interesting" ones, please do not feel slighted! I appreciate each and every person who takes the time and effort to make a guestbook submission (except, of course, for the people looking for free commercial advertising space). For one item: "Hi, Mugu!"
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13 January 2007 (2007-01-13 ISO 8601)
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