[ Go to lecture about role of books today! ] Quotes that have touched me (page 13 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.
"Every sentence that I utter should be regarded by you not as an assertion but as a question." --Niels Bohr[ Always reflect yet one more time! ]
[ Notice what's hiding in plain sight! ]"There is more to the surface than meets the eye." --Aaron Beck
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For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sent a team of specialists into a state, West Virginia, to study an outbreak of obesity in the same way it studies an outbreak of an infectious disease. Kerri Kennedy, the program manager at the West Virginia Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, said the state had requested the agency's investigation. "We were looking at our data," Ms. Kennedy said, and saw that "we are facing a severe health crisis."... Going along with the obesity was a high prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, which are associated with extra pounds. Gina Kolata, "C.D.C. Team Investigates an Outbreak of Obesity", NYT on the Web, 03Jun05. Ed notes: (1) It seems to me it's long past time for public health authorities to examine epidemiological impact of many aspects of Americans' "lifestyle(s)". (2) See the damage eating American "fast food" can do to your health -- See the movie "Supersize Me"!
South Korean high school students plan to hold more rallies to protest restrictions on hair length and style in the country's notoriously regimented education system.... Students often face enormous pressure and grueling hours in the South Korean school system, where failure to get into a handful of prestigious colleges can shatter career prospects. But in a rare outburst in this Confucian society, some normally deferential high-school students have tried to draw the line at hair.... [S]ome teachers have expressed concern that loosening the rules could lead to a deterioration in discipline and suggested the students should focus their energies on studying. Kim Yoo-chul, "It's like the 60s, all over again...", Reuters, Wed May 18, 2005 12:29 PM ET.
A federal judge [Joan Humphrey Lefkow] whose husband and mother were slain by a disgruntled litigant urged Congress... to help bring an end to 'truly dangerous' verbal attacks on judges that might lead to violent action.... [P]oignantly, Lefkow said, "I am the wife who wakes up in the middle of the morning, not to a cup of coffee presented by my husband of 30 years to reopen what we called 'the endless conversation of marriage,' but to an open book that I was reading in an effort to banish the memories of 5:30 p.m. on the day that changed our world forever." "Judge Urges End to Verbal Attacks", NYT on the Web, 18May05 (AP, Filed at 7:52 p.m. ET). The article gave examples of the "verbal attacks" Lefkow refers to: "In recent months, several Republican members of Congress have lashed out at judges involved in the Terri Schiavo case and others. Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman, died after her feeding tube was removed, her parents' legal challenges unsuccessful.... 'This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change,' House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said. 'The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.'" Ed. note: Entirely aside from the substantive issues Lefkow raised. I (BMcC) find her description of a role of communication in marriage touching and appealing (emphasis added in text). [See also: Quote #233.]
"We're seeing behavior today in court that absolutely would have been unheard of a generation ago. People talk back. Yell back. There's a greater degree of anger." Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, quoted in David Finkel, "Judges Are Seeking Cover on The Bench: Safety Is Top Concern After Recent Attacks", The Washington Post, 05Jun05, p.A01.
[A] provocative new theory... argues that juvenile diabetes may have developed... as a way to stay warm... in ancestral people who lived in Northern Europe about 12,000 years ago when temperatures fell by 10 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few decades and an ice age arrived virtually overnight.... Archaeological evidence suggests countless people froze to death, while others fled south. But Dr. Sharon Moalem, an expert in evolutionary medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, believes that some people may have adapted to the extreme cold. High levels of blood glucose prevent cells and tissues from forming ice crystals, Dr. Moalem said.... People with... Type 1 [aka juvenile] diabetes, have excessive amounts of sugar, or glucose, in their blood.... In other words, Type 1 diabetes would have prevented many of our ancestors from freezing to death.... Most doctors who treat diabetes are extremely skeptical about the idea.... [O]ne doctor said, referring to a dangerous complication of diabetes: "Are they kidding? Type 1 diabetes would result in severe ketoacidosis and early death." Not necessarily, Dr. Moalem said in an interview. Back then, life expectancy was about 25 years for many people. Those with high glucose in their blood did not live long enough to suffer complications. But they did live long enough, despite the extreme cold, to reproduce. Sandra Blakeslee, "New Theory Places Origin of Diabetes in an Age of Icy Hardships", NYT on the Web, 17May05. Ed notes: (1) I believe another example of such an adaptation to adversity is sickle cell anemia, which affords partial protection against malaria. (2) "People" often say that overcoming adversity is "good for you", and Nietszsche famously said [before devolving into a decade of chronic dementia from which he did not recover]: "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." ~ The present article shows that what does not kill a person (e.g., me, or maybe even you, dear reader?) may hurt them -- that surviving adversity may come at the price of infirmity and reduced lifespan, even for ["innocent"] future generations! I (BMcC) contend that all suffering is to be prevented or avoided whenever and wherever possible. I urge, straightforwardly and unambivalently: Leisure is the basis of culture (Luxe, calme et volupté...). Adapting to (or even "overcoming") adversity may just create new adversities. How often is our flesh [or our spirit...] more supple after being wounded than before? [See also: Quote #3, Quote #63.]
[ John F. Kennedy asks Americans to ask not... ][T]he provenance of... [John F.] Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address['s]... most famous words... "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country"... hark[s] back at least to Kennedy's years at Choate, the Connecticut prep school, where the headmaster regularly reminded his charges that what mattered most was "not what Choate does for you, but what you can do for Choate." Edward Wyatt, "Two Authors Ask About 'Ask Not'" (book review), NYT on the Web, 10May05. Ed. note: I find it appalling that an institution supposedly dedicated to nurturing persons -- a school -- should instead give priority to extracting nurturance from those very persons it is supposed to nurture. I think a better question, especially for a school (but also for a country) would be: "Ask whether what we have done for you merits you doing something for us." [ In hoc signo vinces! ]Alternatively and/or in addition, the headmaster could have tried to sell the students on the benefits that would accrue to them from doing good for Choate ("win-win", instead of either selfishness or self-sacrificial altruism). Compare Melanie Klein quote from: Envy and gratitude[ >> ]
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See also: Sigmund Freud's Civilization and its discontents[ >> ]
Readers' responses to this NYT book review brought even more sources for Kennedy's dictum, including: "It should be credited to the Lebanese philosopher Khalil Gibran. In a 1925 article, "The New Frontier," he wrote: 'Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in the desert."' (NYT Opinion, Fadi F. Attiyer, p.WK13, 15May05) ~ Or Calvin Coolidge: "The only hope of perfectiung human relationship is in accordance with the law of service under which men are not so solicitous about what they shall get as they are about what they shall give." (John Karol, ibid.) ~ But also, consider the following response, which is more in line with my own (BMcC) and Melanie Klein's orientation: "Robert Browning's line in 'Home Thoughts, From the Sea': 'Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?'" (Leo Stern, Jr., ibid.)
[ The American way: Ride Amtrak ]It was called the American Flyer, and its goals were ambitious: to speed train travel between Northeastern cities, steal customers from air shuttles, provide the model for a nationwide fast rail system and help its deficit-prone parent, Amtrak, earn a profit.... Today that train is called the Acela, and instead of being Amtrak's savior, it has become a frustrating burden. On Wednesday, the company announced plans to sideline all 20 Acelas until summer to replace cracked brakes. It was the third major disruption of the high-speed service since it came on line in 2001. The tale of the Acela is in many ways the story of Amtrak itself, where political pressures, tight budgets, contested regulations and design changes turned a high-speed train into something slower, more expensive and less reliable than what Amtrak had promised. A reconstruction of Acela's history involving dozens of interviews and a review of court documents and other records shows that Amtrak was under intense pressure to deliver its new train as quickly as possible. And that rush to do something bigger and more complicated than the railroad had ever done led to a series of missteps that many experts believe contributed to the problems that have plagued the Acela to this day. "There is an old saying in the acquisition world: you want it bad, you get it bad," said Tom Till, who led the Amtrak Reform Council, a group created by Congress to study the railroad's problems. "That's exactly what happened with Acela." James Dao, "Acela, Built to Be Rail's Savior, Bedevils Amtrak at Every Turn", NYT on the Web, 24Apr05 (Emphasis added). The article reiterates: "cutting costs was paramount to Amtrak." Also: "Unlike European and Japanese high-speed trains, most of which run on dedicated lines, Amtrak shares the Northeast Corridor with bulky, slow freight trains." And: "In the summer of 1999, the company announced that it had dropped 'American Flyer' in favor of Acela, a fusion of 'acceleration' and 'excellence' devised by a New York consultant."
[ The Japanese way: Ride Japan railways! ]AMAGASAKI, Japan, April 26 - Anywhere else in the world, a train running 90 seconds late would perhaps be considered on time. But in Japan, 90 seconds would foil commuters who depend on trains' connecting to one another with balletic precision, often with only a couple of minutes to spare. And so to make up for a lost 90 seconds, a 23-year-old train driver, it became increasingly clear... was speeding when his train jumped off the tracks on Monday morning at a curve... and hurtled into a nine-story apartment building.... The death toll in the accident, the deadliest in Japan in four decades, rose Wednesday to 91.... So confident is Japan in its trains' safety that there are no restrictions on how close residential buildings can be erected next to tracks: it is not rare to see them only three feet apart....
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To many, the driver's single-minded focus on making up the 90 seconds seemed to reveal the weak points of a society where the trains really do run on time, but where people have lost sight of the bigger picture. "Japanese believe that if they board a train, they'll arrive on time," said Yasuyuki Sawada, a 49-year-old railway worker.... "There is no flexibility in our society; people are not flexible, either."
Norimitsu Onishi, "In Japan Crash, Time Obsession May Be Culprit", NYT on the Web, 27Apr05. This article continues: "The pressure to stay on schedule is so great, conductors apologize profusely even over a one-minute delay.... '[T]here is no other rail system more punctual than Japan's,' said Shigeru Haga, a professor of transportation and industrial psychology at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. 'It's No. 1 in the world for its punctuality and safety."... [/] 'The Japanese people are responsible for this accident, too,' said Toshinami Habe, 67, a chief of sales at a company here in Amagasaki. 'This is a society of free competition; there's no flexibility. That's why with even a one-and-a-half-minute delay, he had to try to make up the time.'... Mr. Habe... criticized the lack of regulations that allows residential buildings to stand so near the tracks. 'I knew this would happen one day," he said. "Although it's said that Japan is No. 1 in punctuality, the most important thing is safety.'"
The uniformed body of 23-year-old driver... was among those pulled from the scene, officials said Thursday, as the death toll stood at 106.... The driver in Monday's wreck was running 90 seconds late.... Osamu Yomono, vice president of the Japan Federation of Railway Workers, said superiors surround and berate drivers and force them to write "meaningless reports" as punishment. He said Monday's driver had experienced such treatment for 13 days for a previous error. "The driver in this accident probably was thinking that he would be subjected to this treatment.... Fear prevented him from making a rational decision."... [/] The speed limit along that stretch of track is 43 mph... but survivors allege the train was traveling much faster. "Train wreck driver's body found. Union: Fear of punishment may have clouded judgment", CNN.com, Thursday, April 28, 2005 Posted: 5:33 AM EDT (0933 GMT).
The most famous constitutional battle of the... era of Republican dominance in the United States from 1896 through the Roaring Twenties... was the 1905 Supreme Court case Lochner v. New York, which challenged a law that was passed by the New York State Legislature, establishing a maximum number of working hours for bakers. The court struck down the law on the grounds that it violated the bakers' freedom of contract, which was arguably, but not explicitly, included in the 14th Amendment protections of "liberty" and "property." In a dissenting opinion, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. objected that "The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics," referring to the celebrated Social Darwinist and advocate of laissez-faire economics. Jeffrey Rosen, "The Unregulated Offensive", NYT Sunday Magazine, 17Apr05, p.46. Ed. note: In other words, the "conservatives" want to make sure your right/freedom to trade away (contractually alienate...) everything you own, including all your waking hours... under conditions of coercive duress, is unabridged. Although they may see it rather as your freedom, if you are a petty clerk, to negotiate as an "equal" with a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation for a job -- where the levelness of the playing field is guaranteed by the absence of government regulations (except, of course, the police laws that you can't assault or kill any of the representatives of the corporation or burn their buildings down, etc., which they, as your equal, reciprocally agree not to do to you). [Click here for satire!]
One thing that's going on [in the United States, March 2005] is a climate of fear for those who try to enforce laws that religious extremists oppose.... The religious right is already having a big impact on education: 31 percent of teachers surveyed by the National Science Teachers Association feel pressured to present creationism-related material in the classroom. But medical care is the cutting edge of extremism.... The Washington Post reported on the growing number of pharmacists who, on religious grounds, refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control or morning-after pills.... There is a nationwide trend toward "conscience" or "refusal" legislation.... But the big step by extremists will be an attempt to eliminate the filibuster [in the U.S.Senate], so that the courts can be packed with judges less committed to upholding the law than... George Greer, the judge in the Schiavo case [concerning which, House of Representatives Majority Leader] Tom DeLay, who believes that he's on a mission to bring a "biblical worldview" to American politics... declared that "one thing that God has brought to us is [brain-damaged patient] Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America." Paul Krugman, OpEd piece, "What's Going On?", NYT on the Web, 29Mar05. Krugman continues: "Again, think of how... 'conscience' or 'refusal'... laws expose doctors to pressure and intimidation.... The closest parallel I can think of to current American politics is Israel. There was a time, not that long ago, when moderate Israelis downplayed the rise of religious extremists. But no more: extremists have already killed one prime minister, and everyone realizes that [current Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon is at risk.... What we need - and we aren't seeing - is a firm stand by moderates against religious extremism." (ibid.) [See also: Quote #238, Quote #242, Quote #261.]
"Two women... arrived late in the afternoon [at one place fundamentalists were protesting] with blank sheets of poster board that they intended to emblazon with the messages 'Leave the Dark Ages in History' and 'We Need Morality, But Not "Traditional" Morality.' One of the women... a spokeswoman for the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, said she and her colleague... an abortion rights activist, intended to spend two days at the site, to make sure 'the other side' is heard. 'What we intend to say is that we don't want to live in a theocracy.... We don't want to creep towards Christian fascism in this country.'" [The other woman] said she recognized several people from protests outside abortion clinics around the country. 'This is their whole life,' she said." (Rick Lyman, "Protesters With Hearts on Sleeves and Anger on Signs", NYT on the Web, 28Mar05, emphasis added)
"...social conservatives who argue that sanctity of life trumps quality of life..." Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Schiavo's Case May Reshape American Law", NYT on the Web, 01Apr05. Ed. note: This seems to me to be the big divide, between: (A) those who singlemindedly promote biochemical purdurance for human bodies that lack self-awareness (e.g., persons in a persistent vegetative state and first-trimester foeti) above any and all concern for functioning persons except perhaps themselves, and (B) those who are concerned about enhancing the opportunities for self-actualization and self-fulfillment (aka "quality of life") for persons who are sufficiently intact to be able to appreciate it, including those who are in various ways deprived and frustrated by social socio-economic and other circumstances (e.g., a poor woman who becomes pregant thru contraception failure, who, if she cannot get an abortion to be able to finish school and qualify for a good job, will have to drop out of school to raise the child, and remain in poverty along with the child growing up in poverty, too).
"[I]n a moment that was horrifying even by the rock-bottom standards of the campaign that Republican zealots are conducting against the nation's judiciary[,] Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, rose in the chamber and dared to argue that recent courthouse violence might be explained by distress about judges who 'are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public.' The frustration 'builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in' violence, said Mr. Cornyn, a former member of the Texas Supreme Court who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which supposedly protects the Constitution and its guarantee of an independent judiciary.... Echoes of the political hijacking of the Terri Schiavo case hung in the air as Mr. Cornyn spoke, just days after the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, vengefully vowed that 'the time will come' to make the judges who resisted the Congressional Republicans' gruesome deathbed intrusion 'answer for their behavior.' Trying to intimidate judges used to be a crime, not a bombastic cudgel for cynical politicians. The public's hope must be that Senator Cornyn's shameful outburst gives further pause to Senate moderates about the threats of the majority leader, Senator Bill Frist, to scrap the filibuster to ensure the confirmation of President Bush's most extremist judicial nominees." (Editorial, "The Judges Made Them Do It", NYT, 06Apr05)
A military tribunal determined last fall that Murat Kurnaz, a German national seized in Pakistan in 2001, was a member of al Qaeda and an enemy combatant whom the government could detain indefinitely at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The three military officers on the panel, whose identities are kept secret, said in papers filed in federal court that they reached their conclusion based largely on classified evidence that was too sensitive to release to the public. In fact, that evidence, recently declassified... shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities.... Only one document in Kurnaz's file, a short memo written by an unidentified military official... labeled "R-19"... concludes that the German Muslim of Turkish descent is an al Qaeda member.... The R-19 memo... U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green... wrote, "fails to provide significant details to support its conclusory allegations, does not reveal the sources for its information and is contradicted by other evidence in the record." Green reviewed all the classified and unclassified evidence in the case.... Justice Department lawyers told... Kurnaz's attorney... last week that the information may have been improperly declassified and should be treated in the foreseeable future as classified.... Kurnaz has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since at least January 2002. Carol D. Leonnig, "Panel Ignored Evidence on Detainee: U.S. Military Intelligence, German Authorities Found No Ties to Terrorists", The Washington Post, 27Mar05, p.A01. Mr. Kurnaz's attorney, Baher Azmy, asks: "The U.S. government has known for almost two years that he's innocent of these charges.... That begs a lot of questions about what the purpose of Guantanamo really is. He can't be useful to them. He has no intelligence for them. Why in the world is he still there?" (ibid.)
"Everything is surreal. I don't know my client. I cannot write, visit or contact him. Will it end tomorrow or last a lifetime? This is like defending a phantom." Bernhard Docke, Murat Kurnaz's civilian [German] lawyer Quoted in: "USA: Who are the Guantánamo detainees? Case Sheet 6 Turkish/German detainee: Murat Kurnaz", Amnesty International website: AI Index: AMR 51/151/2004 01Nov04.
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