The Big Think

July 30, 2016

National Review

Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 11:23 am

National Review: “One of the reasons corruption is so hard to eliminate, particularly in the developing world, is that honesty is seen as a kind of betrayal. Bribe-takers like bribes, to be sure, but they also hate those who won’t take them — not just because the refusers threaten their livelihoods, but because such refusals remind the corrupted of that they had a choice.”

December 24, 2015


Filed under: Current Reading,Quoth — jasony @ 11:10 am

Nathan Myhrvold, myth buster | Intelligent Life magazine: “‘I was totally aware of being poor…But I only wanted one thing when I was young, wealth-wise. I wanted to be able to buy any book I wanted. We lived two doors from the library in Santa Monica and I read every book, long before I went to school. Many years transpire and I’m at Microsoft and I’m buying books whenever I want [he has estimated his Amazon book habit at nearly $200,000 a year]. I realise that this is like wishing for eternal life and forgetting to ask for eternal youth, because I had tons of money but absolutely no time to read all the books.’ The books now fill two warehouses.”

July 28, 2015


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 5:10 pm

“If Man were merely an intelligent animal, something derived by blind natural selection, and bred only for our ability to continue breeding, then we would not tell stories. It is a useless habit…

Some might say that it is a side effect of language using ability, a defect of the brain, so that we humans misuse that faculty of imagination nature evolved in us solely for planning military campaigns against rival tribes of mastodon hunters, and the linguistic skills to coordinate hunting and fishing and slaying rivals. Some might say language was evolved to be precise and scientific, merely a tool for remembering facts of the past we have seen and constructing speculations of the future we shall see, and that this tool of language is misused if we play make believe about things not of the past or future, and attempting to peer into the unseen realm. I say those who say story telling is an abuse of the faculty of language are abusing their own faculty of language, and telling us a story, and bad one.

I propose we want to give tongues to animals and woods and waves and we want to command the mountains and the clouds to speak to us because we yearn to be creators ourselves. What greater gift can any father give his child than to teach him the gift of speech? If we had the power to grant this gift to our pets and livestock, surely we would, and indeed, to exchange defiance and threats and terrifying boasts with the lions and wolves who are the enemies of man would also be a delight. Beyond this, to speak to the river and ask it why it runs, or to the sunshine and inquire of its cheer, or to command the raging storm be silent, this is a delight that saints and angels know which man, exiled from Eden, has lost. We are dumb and deaf in a world given to our dominion.

I propose that there is something of the creator in the poet, and that this is because we are created by a Creator in His own likeness and image, and so naturally must reflect the nature of creation in us. We want to bring things to life, to create worlds, to grant speech to animals and to command nature, because that is the joy of creation.

We cannot, in this life, create world, except in fiction. We cannot possibly have this desire from anything in nature. It is supernatural in origin.

It is like a young man in love daydreaming about the words and sighs and kissed he means to exchange with his beloved. The daydream raptures him, and draws his thoughts away from the dirt and toil of his daily life, and for an hour, in his heart, he dwell in the bliss of the honeymoon cottage. But there is an element of sorrow and longing and sadness in his daydream, or in him, because it is not real. It does not truly satisfy him.

…Should we ever find a world like Perelandra, whose happy natives resisted the temptations that toppled the Adam and Eve of Earth, or should we ever reach in a next life the cosmic realms inhabited by archangels and dominions and potentates and powers, it is possible that they might not tell stories of the imaginative kind discussed here. Psalms and hymns, to be sure, or epics of praise for glorious deeds, or love songs, or all the other kinds of tales the other muses inspire, all might be present in the unfallen world.

But stories of fairytale and fantasy and science fiction I speculate may indeed be absent in those happier and higher realms. The saints in heaven will have realized the immense longing we here in exile on Earth cannot fulfill on Earth. They will do as their Father does and sings the songs of creation.”

From Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright

July 23, 2015


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:38 am

“What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how democracy (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods? You remember how one of the Greek Dictators (they called them tyrants then) sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dictator led the envoy into a field of grain, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practise, in a sense, democracy. But now democracy can do the same work without any tyranny other than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own in their desire to Be Like Stalks.’

C.S. Lewis – Screwtape Proposes a Toast”

June 11, 2015


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 9:51 pm

“Change doesn’t happen on a familiar landscape—change has to construct the landscape itself.”
Tim Urban

February 6, 2015


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 2:04 pm

“I may not speak for many other upper-middle-class types, but I’ll tell you what: I’m happy to have the government spend less on me if I know it’s spending less altogether and is directing what money it does spend to people who need it more than I do. But if you’re simply talking about raising taxes in order to maintain the bloated status quo plus a bunch of new programs, count me out. That’s not because I’m selfish. It’s because I’m not stupid.”

Nick Gillespie

Exactly. Let’s take care of those who need it. Let’s not waste money on programs designed to harvest votes and perpetuate bureaucracies. But for some reason stating it just that clearly still gets you labeled as a Poor Hater.

November 22, 2014


Filed under: Politics,Quoth — jasony @ 7:42 am

“With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order — that’s just not the case.

“The problem is [interesting phrasing, that, btw], is that I’m the President of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”

“…essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that’s not an option.”

“[I]f, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.

“…I never have a green light [to push the limits of executive power]. I’m bound by the Constitution; I’m bound by separation of powers. There are some things we can’t do.

“And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. … It is not simply a matter of us just saying we’re going to violate the law. That’s not our tradition [correction: that’s not our law. Subtle difference there. Laws are iron, traditions are smoke]. The great thing about this country is we have this wonderful process of democracy, and sometimes it is messy, and sometimes it is hard, but ultimately, justice and truth win out.”

The “Constitutional Scholar” Barack Obama.

Update: Bonus quote from 2008!

“The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States of America.”

May 21, 2014


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:59 pm

“The real difference between men is energy. A strong will, a settled purpose, an invincible determination, can accomplish almost anything; and in this lies the distinction between great men and little men.”

— Thomas Fuller

May 20, 2014


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:40 am

“Never discount punctuality. We have a limited amount of time on earth and it is profoundly selfish to take someone’s irreplaceable asset.”

April 16, 2014


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 3:23 pm

“It is meaningful to defy even an evil one cannot destroy.”
John C. Wright, The Judge of Ages

March 4, 2014


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 10:07 am

“She suddenly remembered, and for the first time understood, one of the scientists trying to explain mockingbirds to her. That the boy mockingbird with the most stolen songs gets the girl. Because if he can sing the song of a hawk, it means he’s met the hawk and lived to tell about it.”
The Myriad, R.M. Meluch

February 14, 2014


Filed under: Politics,Quoth — jasony @ 2:55 pm


“The biggest problem in our nation is not the Democrats, or the Republicans; it is not the Obama Administration, just as it wasn’t the Bush Administration, and it won’t be the Clinton or Warren Administrations. Our biggest problem is that the press has voluntarily surrendered its freedoms for the sake of idols and ideologies.”

December 17, 2013


Filed under: Education,Quoth — jasony @ 9:41 pm

“If I depended on a skilled work force I would not depend on a public education system to provide it for me”
Mike Rowe

Don’t miss interview with Mike Rowe about the state of work in America:

December 16, 2013


Filed under: Current Reading,Quoth — jasony @ 3:44 pm

“It wasn’t just hand-made, it was custom-made, especially for the Princess. Probably a gift from my grandfather. Imagine the fellow, not just a worker but an artist, selecting the leather, piecing and stitching and carving. I picture him hand-rubbing in the oil, thinkin of his work used by his Countess, envied and admired by her friends, being pert of this- this whole work of art that was her life.” His finger traced the leaves around the initial.
Her guess of its value kept ratcheting up in time to his words. “For heaven’s sake get it appraised first!”
“Why? To loan to a museum? To sell to some collector to hoard like money? Let him hoard money, that’s all that sort wants anyway. The only collector who’d be worthy of it would be someone who was personally obsessed with the Princess-and-Countess, one of those men who fall hopelessly in love across time. No. I owe to the its maker to put it to its proper use, the use he intended.”

Miles Vorkosigan, A Civil Campaign

November 25, 2013


Filed under: Politics,Quoth — jasony @ 6:16 am

‘Two wars necessitated vast curtailments of liberty, and we have grown, though grumblingly, accustomed to our chains. The increasing complexity and precariousness of our economic life have forced Government to take over many spheres of activity once left to choice or chance. . . . There is nothing left of which we can say to [our new leaders], “Mind your own business.” Our whole lives are their business.’

~C.S. Lewis in 1958

November 13, 2013


Filed under: Quoth,Technology — jasony @ 2:17 pm

“Sometimes, it seems, the only difference between science and science fiction is time and determination.”

Richard Dillio

November 11, 2013


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 5:52 pm

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Mark Twain

November 8, 2013


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 10:17 pm

The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.

Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

October 31, 2013


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 7:44 am

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions”

G.K. Chesterton

October 5, 2013


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:24 am


‘We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”

U.S. Park Service Ranger

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