||Quotes that have touched me (page 2 of 16)
|Disclaimer: Citation of a quote,
below, does not necessarily imply that I agree with what it asserts
(under whatever interpretation); it does mean I feel the text says something
seriously worth thinking about.
|| Go to
more recent entries
|Rust never sleeps.
(Personal e-mail: Response to query I made, about potential for corrosion damage on old
non-water resistant watches.)
"[A] watch is only as good as the last watchmaker that worked on it."
(Posting on Purists "WatchRap: general watch discussion" Internet forum, 12Jan04.)
"Nuclear waste doesn't go away"
Timo Aikas, vice-president in charge of engineering, Posiva [Finnish nuclear waste disposal company],
quoted in: Richard Black, "Finland buries its nuclear past", BBC online, 27Apr06.
Germs fight dirty.
Band-aid (bandages) TV advertisement, 04May06.
There are good days,|
and there bad days.
And this has been one of them.
Lawrence Welk (1903-1992; bio),
conductor of "The Champagne Music Makers" band/orchestra. Ref. lost.
(See also: Quote #176.)
The lesson from Gap's experience in El Salvador is that competing interests
among factory owners, government officials, American managers and middle-class consumers -- all
with their eyes on the lowest possible cost -- make it difficult to achieve even basic
standards, and even harder to maintain them.... [/]
Among several shoppers... interviewed at [The Gap's] Manhattan store...
only one... said she would be willing to pay more for a garment made under better
working conditions. But then she paused and hedged. "It would depend how much," she said.
Leslie Kaufman and David Gonzalez, "Labor Standards Clash With Global Reality",
NYT, 24Apr01, pp.A1,A10.
U.S. President Bush has said: "Open markets create more opportunities for freedom."
(The New York Times Online, David Stout, "Bush Says Use of Force is 'an Option' in
Defense of Taiwan", 25Apr01)
Every trader has a number: the amount you need in the
bank to walk away.... You know that you can lose your
job at any moment, that each workday takes its toll
on body and mind, and that the job prepares you
to do nothing else. Your career becomes a race to squirrel
away a bundle.
Scott Lasser, "Personal History: Time on [Wall] Street: He
gave himself ten years to get the money. But holding out was
hard." The New Yorker, 23&30Apr01, pp.123-4. "The number"
is generally US$2,000,000 or more. Ed. note: Why can't we have a social world in which
persons can walk away from their work, but freely want to
stay? A proposal.
Harvard Law School, faced with competition on the outside
and alienation on the inside, is quietly undergoing... far-reaching
changes.... [Dean] Robert C. Clark said the primary goal... was to
make the law school experience more palatable.
"The next phase is to make quality-of-life changes," Mr. Clark said....
[A] subtle and... important shift behind [the] changes... is
in students' attitudes, [David W.] Leebron of Columbia said[:]
"If you look 40 or 50 years ago, students didn't expect to have a voice in
anything.... Students today are
much more demanding, and they are much more vocal with their demands."
Students who think that a school will be too oppressive, unfriendly or
impersonal are willing to turn it
down -- even if it is Harvard -- in favor of a school perceived as more
hospitable, Mr. Leebron added.
Jonathan D. Glater, "Harvard Law Is Trying to Be More Appealing", NYT, 16Apr01, p.A12.
Ed. note: Perhaps this indicates some progress in humanizing the power relations
in schooling, toward those who pay having the ultimate say ("consumer sovereignty").
In my own graduate studies, I was fortunate to have a taste of
a kind of pedagogical relationship I feel is constructive: I
contracted to pay experts not associated with "my school" to work with me in
a relation either of us could terminate at any time -- a relation in which the persons
from whom I was learning had no power to hurt me (e.g., to "give me a bad grade"), and
consequently, I could focus on learning instead of protecting myself.
I [BMcC] believe the social power relations of schooling
are, in their essence even though not in every particular, a reign of terror against
students, and that it is despite, not because of these social power relations
that any child grows up with any "love of learning". (See also:
shortening the workweek for medical residents)
"If [Pope Pius XII, who sheltered Jews during World War II but also signed the 1933 concordat
that helped legitimize Hitler's regime in the first place...] symbolizes anything,
it would seem to be a truth more sociological than religious, though one that all religions
should probably heed. It is that the logic of institutional
self-preservation may be incompatible with moral clarity."
Judith Shulevitz, "The Case of Pius XII", NYT Book Review, 08Apr01, p.31. "[T]o a... degree,
the pope... did more than most to save Jews.... [But h]e wanted to make sure there would still
be a church after the likely destruction of civilization. This helps explain why,
for example, he placed the Vatican's neutrality above its role as the world's
leading moral spokesman."(loc. cit.)
This document certifies that [name]... is certified as knowledgeable in all
aspects of [medical specialty].... The bearer's judgment in the
application of this knowledge is not certified.
"Danise A. Carrion International Order of Instruction in Tropical Medicine of Cornell
University Medical Center" -- certificate on physician's office wall
at Mt. Kisco Medical Group, Mt. Kisco, New York. Ed. Note: I think most if not
all academic credential certificates (including most PhDs) need a similar disclaimer.
"President Bush poked fun at perceptions that he is a little short of intelligence...
as he made his first appearance in the Gridiron Club's 116th annual spoof
Saturday night.... Bush [said]... he has been told that his lips
'are where words go to die.'"
"Bush Gives His First Talk at Gridiron Club", 25Mar01, The New York Times on the Web
(Associated Press, filed 4:43AM EST). For more on how George W. Bush got
elected the |44th43rd President of The United States,
click here. [Even The New York Times on the Web
how NYT mangled George W Bush's name (31May01 ca. 0900AM); Show me
another NYT on the Web celebrity typo (13Jan04).]
|To see Slate e-zine's sampler of George W Bush malapropisms,
Click here (if that page disappears,
search Slate for the word: "Bushism").|
Rough-cut and wild eyed, vandals called the Taliban
[the current government of Afghanistan] blasted away...
at works of priceless ancient art, the giant standing Buddhas
of Bamiyan.... Certainly it evoked the religious triumphalism
that plagues a broad swath of the world.... But what is
happening in Afghanistan could be more disturbing yet,
in the message it sends to a modern
world yearning for a dialog among civilizations....
"We take it personally," [Dr. Frederick Starr, chairman
of the Central Asia Institute, Johns Hopkins School of
Advanced International Studies] said.
"We think the Taliban is directed against us. It is not.
It's directed against other Muslims who don't get it."
|"Taliban: War for War's Sake", by Barbara Crossette,
Week in Review, 18Mar01, p.4 (emphasis added). See also (NYT, 03Mar01):
"'I do not serve what you worship; nor do you serve what I
worship. You have your own religion, and I have mine.' This
terse statement of live-and-let-live religious tolerance is from
the Koran." Ed. Note: Is this about tolerance, or about
intolerance, i.e., not having any interest in the heathen
but a very strong interest in ferreting out
and purging heterodoxy among one's own?|
|Commitment to tolerance
seems to me ultimately to imply subordinating all "first order"
beliefs (i.e., beliefs about what really
exists in the world) to the meta-belief/value of community -- e.g.,
telling Allah or J-w-h that you will do what they command
only if it is compatible with sustaining a human community in which
not all believe in Allah or J-w-h. This logically subordinates
Allah or J-w-h to one's own human judgment, an ordering no
true believer would accept....|
|See also: Quote #127,
said [05Aug01]... that 24 foreign and local staff from an international
aid agency... were arrested while trying to convert members of an Afghan Muslim
family by showing them material about Christianity on a computer. [/]
The Taliban, a purist Islamic
movement, issued an edict [in 2000] prescribing the death penalty for any
Muslim converting to any other religion or those involved in such conversions.
||"Afghan Taliban Consider Aid Workers' Fate", The New York Times on the
Web, 06Aug01 (REUTERS, filed 10:07ET). Note: Christianity is
officially classified by the Taliban as an
"abolished religion" (NYT, 12Aug01,p.15)|
In the military, order and discipline are
paramount, command authority absolute. At
the same time, it has long been thought that
the greatest strength of the American military
is its empowerment of junior officers, sergeants, chiefs, even the enlisted troops, to
speak their minds. [/]
"We instill the mind-set that if we're about to go on the rocks, it doesn't matter if
you're a boatswain's mate, you turn around and say, 'Yo, skipper, what the hell are
you doing?' " a senior naval officer said.
"Sub's Crew May Have Hesitated to Question a
Trusted Captain", by Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times on the Web,
12Mar01: "Several hours into the submarine Greeneville's
short voyage on Feb. 9 [which ended with it crashing into and
sinking a Japanese fishing trawler], a junior officer
aboard verbally prodded his captain, Cmdr.
Scott D. Waddle, and the second in
command, Lt. Cmdr. Gerald K. Pfeifer. [/]
The submarine was running late, the junior
officer, Lt. Keith A. Sloan, the submarine's
navigator, told his superiors, and risked
missing its scheduled return to port. [/]
In some of the world's militaries...
[a]nything that even appeared
to question the authority of a commander
would draw a stern rebuke, perhaps worse.
[/] But Lieutenant Sloan's warning, described as
a 'professional reminder,' reflected traits that
the [United States] armed services, tries
to instill in its officers[:] ...Speak up, when necessary, even if
commanders might not like what they hear."
"Every day we live an adventure, ideological or sentimental.
Our drama is non-communication and it is this
feeling that dominates the characters in my film,
which I preferred to set in a rich environment because feelings
there are not dependent on material circumstances."
(said concerning his 1960 film, "L'Avventura"). From
"Antonioni is recognizably the product of the mild, uneventful plains of northern Italy that form
the background for several of his films.... [H]e has said that
the experience most important to his development as a filmmaker and as a man was his
upbringing in a settled, bourgeois, provincial home, with a sufficiency of money; a traditional
education; a code of reserve and self-discipline;
and the leisure and ease necessary for a
detached view of people and of life."
[See also: Quote #3,
(Still photo: Final scene from L'Avventura)
"But then, the culture wars bring out the worst in
"Critic's Notebook: 'Yo Mama' Artist's Past as Superhero",
Michael Kimmelman, NYT,
17Feb01, p.B3. Review of painting on exhibit
at Brooklyn Museum of Art: "Yo Mama's Last Supper",
featuring a [semi?]nude black woman as Jesus.|
my thoughts on
postmodernism, and my:
"In [Sheik Muqbel bin Hadi al-Wadie,
a seminal influence on Osama bin Laden]'s view,
the most dangerous enemies of Islam, before the United States and
Israel, are Western life and culture -- democracy, pluralism, tolerance
and any kind of voting. In a rare interview five months ago...
he made the point bluntly. 'In Islam,' he
said, 'there is nothing such as appreciating the viewpoint of a person if it
is against Islamic regulations.'"
||John F. Burns,
"One Sheik's Mission: To Teach the Young to Despise Western Culture",
The New York Times on the Web, 16Dec00.
Ed. Note: I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw on an automobile in
Washington, D.C., ca. 1977: "I hate you as much as you hate me".
Because you could not come to me, I came to you.
Pope John XXIII, said concerning his visits to Italian prisons to give mass to the
prisoners (heard on NPR Morning Edition radio program, 28Oct00).
Very few craftsmen today still exercise the fine art of engine-turning or "guillochage" on
which Abraham-Louis Breguet introduced round 1786. The manual technique, done by means of
a special lathe called a rose engine, requires rare dexterity and experience.
Guiding the tool with his hand, the engraver works line by line, crossing the dial again and again
to build up his delicate, complex patterns. Only years of training and his artist's eye enable him
to control the spacing perfectly....
When all is judged right, according to the firm's unforgiving quality standards, the watch's
individual serial number will be applied to the dial. It signs a true work of art.
From the Breguet watch manufacturer's website:
Not all societies are enchanted by Rubenesque figures. In Japan, for
example, the nape of the neck is far more erotic territory, while in Brazil,
where reduction surgery is very popular, an overly ample bosom is seen as
low-class, a libido killer, according to "A History of the Breast," by Marilyn
Yalom (Ballantine, 1997).
"And Now, a Few More Words About Breasts", by Leslie Kaufman,
NYT Week in Review, 17Sep00, p.3.
[Ed. note: While "de gustibus non disputandum est", I also note
that we have the two words in the English language: "gourmet" and "gourmand".]|
Several years ago, a number of top American athletes were asked
if they would take a performance enhancing drug which would
guarantee them to win [or maybe it was: to set a new record...],
if they also knew that the drug would kill them
within five (5) years. Over half said they would take the drug.
Paraphrase (from memory) of editorial comments by Frank DeFord, on
National Public Radio's
"Morning Edition" program, 13Sep00 (I had heard the same story
on a different radio program, several years ago). DeFord's conclusion was
that we will probably need to accept performance enhancing drugs as part of
Olympic athletic competition, in the same way as the old distinction between
amateur and professional has [I forget his exact words, but they meant at the very least:
"[T]he inequities of the free-trade economy have led to the
revival of piracy.... Not far outside the [Singapore] harbor
is the Horsburgh Lighthouse, the last outpost of domestic law.
From Horsburgh on, you pass into the only true frontier
of the 21st century; international waters -- the no man's land of the new
"Bandits in the Global Shipping Lanes", by Hack Hitt,
NYT Sunday Magazine, 20Aug00, p.37.
"The Soviet Navy sent a powerful submarine to sea in the late 1980's,
determined to strike some fear into the American Navy. [/] But barely before the
sub, the Komsomolets, could accomplish anything, a fire burst out
underwater.... [/] This disaster illustrates the long series of
problems that have plagued the Russian Navy. the latest casualty
being the Kursk, whose crew is lying at the bottom of the Barents sea
[hoping for an unlikely rescue]. [/] Weaknesses in technology, haphazard
workmanship and a lot of bad luck kept the Russian Navy from being as powerful as it
often seemed to be, even during its glory days in the
cold war. And though the Russians have proven to need rescue devices more than
any other nation's submarine force, even their best equipment has rarely
worked. [/] The dangers have proven to be occasions for great heroism. But critics say
that with severe budget cuts in recent years, the problems have only grown worse."
|"A Sad Record of Submarine Disasters", by Christopher Drew,
16Aug00, p.A18. Bertolt Brecht wrote (in his play, Galileo: "Student: 'Happy the land
that breeds a hero.' Galileo: 'No. Unhappy the land that needs a
(To read more about "The Sorrow and the Pity" of contemporary Russia,
"Not every conversation will change your life, but any conversation
||Motto of "Satellite Sisters" (National Public Radio program, heard on
WNYC FM, ca. noon, 12Aug00). Richard Rorty writes (Philosophy and
Social Hope, p. 145): "...[T]here is... a useful distinction...
between knowing what you want to get out of a person... and
hoping that the person... will help you want something different --
that he or she... will help you to change your purposes, and thus
to change your life..., not as a specimen reiterating a
type but as an occasion for changing a previously accepted taxonomy...."
"Insecurity drives hazing. And there are sort of homosexual undertones to much
of this male hazing: therefore, you have this sort of
irony of going through a kind of homoerotic experience
to prove you are not homosexual." (Charles Moskos, author of
"The Postmodern Military")
"Join the Club: A number of recent incidents have called attention to the
hazards of hazing. But what are the rituals' enduring social functions?",
NYT Sunday Magazine, 19Mar00, p.22.
"We live in a climate when any of these stringent activities are seen as essentially
immoral and disgusting, but if you look cross-culturally at
how human organizations work, you see with exceptional frequency
patterns in which young males are subjected to some kind of initiation.... It appears
to serve some function whether you like it or not...." (Lionel Tiger, author of
"The Decline of Males")|
"Based on my work with violent men, I'd say it's a form of initiating men
into the standard expected male gender role in patriarchies, namely to become...
people who are expected both to inflict violence and to become the subjects of
violence inflicted on them. People are willing to sacrifice their
bodies in order to maintain the survival of an acceptable sense
of their own masculine identity...." (Dr. James Gilligan, author of
"Violence: Reflections on a Western Epidemic")|
"I was puzzled by one statement in 'Dark Matters: A Cosmic Hall of Mirrors' (Week in Review,
March 5): 'Despite hopes to the contrary,
it now appears... that most of the universe is made from some kind of unwordly
"dark matter"....' [/] Whose hopes to
the contrary? Most people who think about modern
cosmology at all would be thrilled to learn that
such a marvelous substance exists. [/] In another era, Thoreau noted the general preference for
formulaic fiction: 'Yet farmers' sons will stare
by the hour to see a juggler draw ribbons from his throat, though he tells
them it is all deception. Surely men love darkness rather than light.'"
Michael Witherell, director of Fermi National Accelerator
Laboratory, in Letter to the Editor: "Searching for Light
in a Dark Universe", NYT,
12Mar00, p.14WK. Compare Louis Kahn: "...Light is really the source of all being.... [A]ll
material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air
and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass
called material casts a shadow, and the
shadow belongs to Light."(Lobell, p.22)
"In the latest phase of America's one-sided class war, employers
have taken to monitoring employees' workplace behavior right down
to a single keystroke or bathroom break, even probing into their
personal concerns and leisure activities.... The price may be one's basic civil rights
and... self-respect. [/] Not that the Bill of Rights
ever extended to the American workplace.... [/] [W]e need...
a new civil rights movement.... We can
hardly call ourselves the world's pre-eminent democracy
if large numbers of citizens spend half of their waking hours in what
amounts, in plain terms, to a dictatorship."
"Warning: This Is A Rights-Free Work Place", Barbara Ehrenreich,
NYT Sunday Magazine, 05Mar00, p.88,92.
The article further asks: "The mystery [especially in a
tight labor market] is why.... [/] [T]he most ubiquitous invasion of privacy
is drug testing... [which c]ivil libertarians see as a violation of
our Fourth Amendment protection from 'unreasonable search'.... [/] In a
tight labor market, workers have another option.... They can walk.
The alarming levels of turnover in low-wage jobs attest to the popularity of this
tactic, and if unemployment remains low,
employers may eventually decide to cut their workers some slack. Already, companies in
particularly labor-starved industries... are dropping drug testing
rather than lose or repel employees. But in the short tun, the mobility of workers,
combined with the weakness of unions, means there is little or no sustained on-site challenge to
"In [the NYT] news article about the Alaska Airlines
maintenance investigation, John Liotine was identified as alerting the
Federal Aviation Administration to maintenance irregularities. A fellow
mechanic was quoted as complaining: 'This individual was a fanatic,
he wanted it perfect.' [/] This attitude is creeping into all sectors of
modern life. People who try to maintain assiduous standards are
chided for failing to be 'team players' or not being 'realistic.'
Free-market pragmatism has replaced the incentive to do the best job
possible. [/] While improving efficiency is reasonable, the acceptance of
shoddy practice and -- more critically -- the denigration of
those few who still strive for excellence are among the most ominous aspects of the
crash of Flight 261."
"Why Not the Best?", letter to the editor, NYT, 16Feb00, p.A26.
See also: 05Dec99 entry,
"Among the many memorials recalling the persecution and destruction of Berlin's Jews,
not one honors the Berliners who hid and protected the fugitives
fron Nazism... The legacy of the[se] little unacknowledged heroes
who hid and saved Jews... contradicts the self-justifying myth
that the Nazi terror machine was so finely tuned that
obedience was the only option, unless you were willing to risk your life....
It is surprising but true that -- with one exception -- none of the
50 people who helped Konrad Latte paid for it
with their lives, or even by imprisonment.... [H]eroism
cannot be mandated. But it isn't necessarily life-threatening to
give bread or a bed or an address for the following night
to a man on the run, an outcast; it may take only
decency, some cunning, and courage....
The success of a dictatorship, like the success of the resistence to it,
depends not on a few 'great leaders' but upon the civic virtue of the
average citizen.... In a society of conformists and cowards, the courage
of a few death-defying heroes redeems no one."
"Saving Konrad Lotte: for every Jew who was saved, dozens
of Germans performed everyday acts of heroism to make it
possible. This man's saviors proved that obedience
wasn't the only option.", Peter Schneider,
NYT Sunday Magazine, 13Feb00, pp.53,95.
See also: 27Jun98 entry,
"Objectivity is the delusion that observations could be made without an
"Heinz von Foerster (quoted in an email message; no reference).
"Actually, Dr. Weinberg does occasionally entertain the possibility that there
might be a God.... [H]e imagined himself
in the role of the biblical Abraham, whose faith God
tested by commanding that he sacrifice his own son. [/] 'Even if there
is a God,' Dr. Weinberg said, 'how do you know
that his moral judgments are the correct ones? Seems to me Abraham should have
said, "God, that's just not right."'"
"Scientist at Work: Steven Weinberg. Physicist Ponders God, Truth and 'a Final
Theory'", James Glanz, Science Times, p.F2,
NYT, 25Jan00. Note: I (BMcC) have been
saying exactly the same, for many years (see, e.g., my Aphorisms #6 and 7a,
and: our proper relation to myth).
Adolf Loos might say today: 'Postmodernism was a crime!'
List: Botta / Death of Postmodernism" (web page: URL below -- too long to fit here).
"At age 100 Birnbaum remarked, 'If I was only 90 again...
the things I would do!'"
"In Memory of Aaron Birnbaum 1895-1998", advertisement by
K.S. Art, Winter 1998/99 "Folk Art" magazine, p.27.
||If you've read this far, and it has brought to your
mind some quote which is significant to you, I'd appreciate if you'd share it with me: