TOTD 2018-10-23: Lincoln Quotes

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.

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

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.

When you have got an elephant by the hind leg, and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.


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TOTD 2018-10-22: Thomas Sowell Quotes

“I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

“It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites. ”

“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”


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QOTD 2018-10-18

On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy”   – Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) TRON

(Since I can’t link any original TRON content, here is a fan-made trailer)

Greetings, Programs!  Last week, I mentioned my favorite line from the movie TRON.  This week I figured I would do one of the more famous quotes from the movie – from three different angles!

The Philosophical Angle:  Flynn goes from being a programmer designing video games into a virtual world where programs have personalities, and there is an entire society within the confines of the computer system.  How do you look at the computer system that you work with in the same way after you have been inside of it?  Is deleting a file actually killing someone sentient?

It’s interesting how a change in perspective makes a difference.  I can tell you that I had no idea how far off I was on how moderation works around here.   There are a lot more Dilbert moments than X-Files scenes with the Cigarette-Smoking Man.  I’ll say that my opinion of academia has certainly changed after I got inside.  It is even more ruthless than the average corporate office, and much more hierarchical.  Older PIs often seem like ancient wizards or medieval nobles.  Have you had moments that completely shifted your perspective?

The Theological Angle: Flynn creates a world, then goes into it, becoming all but indistinguishable from the beings that inhabit it.  He is reduced to the lowest level, but his power is still evident.  He sacrifices his life to save the world, but in the process is restored to his proper place.  Sound familiar?  The Christian narrative is so powerful that Hollywood can’t resist incorporating into stories, even if it is in a distorted way.  Are there any other stories where the Christian imagery was present almost in spite of itself?

The Political Angle:  There is no way this movie could be made today.  Flynn is a relic from another era – the renegade programmer turned hacker, acting immature and flirtatious, brash and boastful.  He’s from an era of tech that wouldn’t be recognizable in this modern era of digital safe spaces and walled garden run by social justice scolds.  Even the age of the open Internet, where a techno-libertarian future seemed to open before us, is all but gone.  Tech companies seem to have gone from geeks to the villains of a cyberpunk novel, with a bizarre unreal twist where people identifying as buildings and animals are welcome, but people identifying as with beliefs similar to half of America are not.   Ironically, the sequel’s villain is not the supposed wickedly greedy CEO, but the system administration program out to create the perfect system.  Any who deviate are destroyed or “rectified” into identical drones.  It’s unintentionally a description of the modern vision of Big Tech.  What do your think happened to the technology industry such that it


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TOTD 2018-10-13: Quotes

Time for something from Chesterton. (I have to keep Blumroch happy.)

  1. What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.
  2. Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.
  3. The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.

UPDATE: There was originally only the first quote but then I founds some more.


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TOTD 2018-9-22: Mom Quote

My mom has often said, “Hurting people hurt. Healed people heal.” This explains a lot of life to me. Some people find themselves in a hole and want to drag others down. While others used that hole to build a foundation to raise people up. The simple trite saying is “You either get better or bitter.”

I hope this quote will not be used to put people down as much as to understand them. People lashing out often are transferring their anger to you. Actually what you have done maybe was really not that important. You were just there.

There are also people who have learned so much from their tough times. They generously share how to get on in life. They have smiles and patience when those are hard to come by. If you are just there, you are blessed.


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TOTD 2018-9-20: Will Rogers Quotes

[I just grabbed a few quotes I found interesting.]

If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?

A fool and his money are soon elected.

Make crime pay. Become a lawyer.

Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.

When you put down the good things you ought to have done, and leave out the bad ones you did do well, that’s Memoirs.

We don’t seem to be able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?

https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/will_rogers


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QIL[2]

Many books should be *required* readings ; among such titles, there is the *Discours de la servitude volontaire* (*A speech about voluntary obedience*) written by Etienne de la Boétie when he was 18. This may be an *old* text, yet, *mutatis mutandis*, this ode to freedom is of all times, is out of time, as most classics are. I’m no great *connoisseur* of American letters, but I’ve always seen the Lysander Spooner of *No Treason* as one of La Boétie’s spiritual brothers.

Here are two *short* excerpts : a remedy to tyranny (a remedy without violence), and an early example of the “panem et circenses” principle of governement. Luckily for Ratizen and thanks to duckduckgo, I found a rather good (better than what I would have written) English translation published in 1942 by a Harry Kurz for Columbia University Press (the original page said : [Copyright not renewed, so now in public domain.]). The French version is a slightly modernized one, for ease of reading (few people know XVIth century’s vocabulary and turns of phrase).

Should it matter, Murray Rothbard has written an interesting study about La Boétie and his philosophy.

E1 : Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good ! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues ; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own ; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives. All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is, for whom you go bravely to war, for whose greatness you do not refuse to offer your own bodies unto death. He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities. He has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves ? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you ? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own ? How does he have any power over you except through you ? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you ? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves ? You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage ; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust ; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows — to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance ; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures ; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check. From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer ; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.

F1 : Pauvres gens misérables, peuples insensés, nations opiniâtres à votre mal et aveugles à votre bien ! Vous vous laissez enlever sous vos yeux le plus beau et le plus clair de votre revenu, vous laissez piller vos champs, voler et dépouiller vos maisons des vieux meubles de vos ancêtres ! Vous vivez de telle sorte que rien n’est plus à vous. Il semble que vous regarderiez désormais comme un grand bonheur qu’on vous laissât seulement la moitié de vos biens, de vos familles, de vos vies. Et tous ces dégâts, ces malheurs, cette ruine, ne vous viennent pas des ennemis, mais certes bien de l’ennemi, de celui-là même que vous avez fait ce qu’il est, de celui pour qui vous allez si courageusement à la guerre, et pour la grandeur duquel vous ne refusez pas de vous offrir vous-mêmes à la mort. Ce maître n’a pourtant que deux yeux, deux mains, un corps, et rien de plus que n’a le dernier des habitants du nombre infini de nos villes. Ce qu’il a de plus, ce sont les moyens que vous lui fournissez pour vous détruire. D’où tire-t-il tous ces yeux qui vous épient, si ce n’est de vous ? Comment a-t-il tant de mains pour vous frapper, s’il ne vous les emprunte ? Les pieds dont il foule vos cités ne sont-ils pas aussi les vôtres ? A-t-il pouvoir sur vous, qui ne soit de vous-mêmes ? Comment oserait-il vous assaillir, s’il n’était d’intelligence avec vous ? Quel mal pourrait-il vous faire, si vous n’étiez les receleurs du larron qui vous pille, les complices du meurtrier qui vous tue et les traîtres de vous-mêmes ? Vous semez vos champs pour qu’il les dévaste, vous meublez et remplissez vos maisons pour fournir ses pilleries, vous élevez vos filles afin qu’il puisse assouvir sa luxure, vous nourrissez vos enfants pour qu’il en fasse des soldats dans le meilleur des cas, pour qu’il les mène à la guerre, à la boucherie, qu’il les rende ministres de ses convoitises et exécuteurs de ses vengeances. Vous vous usez à la peine afin qu’il puisse se mignarder dans ses délices et se vautrer dans ses sales plaisirs. Vous vous affaiblissez afin qu’il soit plus fort, et qu’il vous tienne plus rudement la bride plus courte. Et de tant d’indignités que les bêtes elles-mêmes ne supporteraient pas si elles les sentaient, vous pourriez vous délivrer si vous essayiez, même pas de vous délivrer, seulement de le vouloir. Soyez résolus à ne plus servir, et vous voilà libres. Je ne vous demande pas de le pousser, de l’ébranler, mais seulement de ne plus le soutenir, et vous le verrez, tel un grand colosse dont on a brisé la base, fondre sous son poids et se rompre.

E2 : This method tyrants use of stultifying their subjects cannot be more clearly observed than in what Cyrus did with the Lydians after he had taken Sardis, their chief city, and had at his mercy the captured Croesus, their fabulously rich king. When news was brought to him that the people of Sardis had rebelled, it would have been easy for him to reduce them by force ; but being unwilling either to sack such a fine city or to maintain an army there to police it, he thought of an unusual expedient for reducing it. He established in it brothels, taverns, and public games, and issued the proclamation that the inhabitants were to enjoy them. He found this type of garrison so effective that he never again had to draw the sword against the Lydians. These wretched people enjoyed themselves inventing all kinds of games, so that the Latins have derived the word from them, and what we call pastimes they call *ludi*, as if they meant to say *Lydi*. Not all tyrants have manifested so clearly their intention to effeminize their victims ; but in fact, what the aforementioned despot publicly proclaimed and put into effect, most of the others have pursued secretly as an end. It is indeed the nature of the populace, whose density is always greater in the cities, to be suspicious toward one who has their welfare at heart, and gullible toward one who fools them.

F2 : Cette ruse des tyrans d’abêtir leurs sujets n’a jamais été plus évidente que dans la conduite de Cyrus envers les Lydiens, après qu’il se fut emparé de leur capitale et qu’il eut pris pour captif Crésus, ce roi si riche. On lui apporta la nouvelle que les habitants de Sardes s’étaient révoltés. Il les eut bientôt réduits à l’obéissance. Mais ne voulant pas saccager une aussi belle ville ni être obligé d’y tenir une armée pour la maîtriser, il s’avisa d’un expédient admirable pour s’en assurer la possession. Il y établit des bordels, des tavernes et des jeux publics, et publia une ordonnance qui obligeait les citoyens à s’y rendre. Il se trouva si bien de cette garnison que, par la suite, il n’eut plus à tirer l’épée contre les Lydiens. Ces misérables s’amusèrent à inventer toutes sortes de jeux si bien que, de leur nom même, les Latins formèrent le mot par lequel ils désignaient ce que nous appelons passe-temps, qu’ils nommaient *Ludi*, par corruption de *Lydi*. Tous les tyrans n’ont pas déclaré aussi expressément vouloir efféminer leurs sujets ; mais de fait, ce que celui-là ordonna formellement, la plupart d’entre eux l’ont fait en cachette. Tel est le penchant naturel du peuple ignorant qui, d’ordinaire, est plus nombreux dans les villes : il est soupçonneux envers celui qui l’aime et confiant envers celui qui le trompe.


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QIL [1]

QIL [1]

Chamfort is probably the most interesting of the French moralists, though he’s no longer read, even in France where writing in classical French is now seen as unbearable elitism. In his *Maximes et pensées — Produits de la civilisation perfectionnée*, there’s a quote for almost every occasion. This selection should rise no quarrel, and even though it may be too long a post (note only half of it is in French), it should hopefully prompt to read the whole book. Of course, French-reading people will be kind enough as not to read the Quick & Dirty translation.

01F : “On fait quelquefois dans le monde un raisonnement bien étrange. On dit à un homme, en voulant récuser son témoignage en faveur d’un autre homme : “C’est votre ami. — Eh ! Morbleu, c’est mon ami, parce que le bien que j’en dis est vrai, parce qu’il est tel que je le peins. Vous prenez la cause pour l’effet, et l’effet pour la cause. Pourquoi supposez-vous que j’en dis du bien, parce qu’il est mon ami ; et pourquoi ne supposez-vous pas plutôt qu’il est mon ami, parce qu’il y a du bien à en dire ?”
01E : One sometimes reasons strangely when in society. In order to object against a man willing to testify in favor of another, one says : “He’s your friend. — Well, yes indeed, he’s my friend, because the good I tell about him is true, because he is as I depict him. You take cause for effect, and effect for cause. Why do you suppose I speak well of him because he’s my friend ; and why don’t you rather suppose he’s my friend because there is good to say about him ?”

02F : “La philosophie, ainsi que la médecine, a beaucoup de drogues, très peu de bons remèdes, et presque point de spécifiques.”
02E : “Philosophy, like medicine, has many drugs, very few good remedies, and almost no cures.”

03F : C’est une belle allégorie, dans la bible, que cet arbre de la science du bien et du mal qui produit la mort. Cet emblème ne veut-il pas dire que, lorsqu’on a pénétré le fond des choses, la perte des illusions amène la mort de l’âme, c’est-à-dire un désintéressement complet sur tout ce qui touche et occupe les autres hommes ?
03E : It is a beautiful allegory, in the bible, that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil produces death. Doesn’t this emblem mean that, when one has understood the foundation of things, the loss of illusions leads to the death of the soul, i.e. to a complete disinterest about all that concerns and occupies other men ?

04F : La meilleure philosophie, relativement au monde, est d’allier, à son égard, le sarcasme de la gaieté avec l’indulgence du mépris.
04E : The best philosophy, about society, is to combine, with regard to it, the sarcasm of amusement with the indulgence of contempt.

05F : Il y a des sottises bien habillées, comme il y a des sots très bien vêtus.
05E : There are well-educated moronisms, as there are well-dressed morons.

06F : Il y a une prudence supérieure à celle qu’on qualifie ordinairement de ce nom : l’une est la prudence de l’aigle, et l’autre celle des taupes. La première consiste à suivre hardiment son caractère, en acceptant avec courage les désavantages et les inconvénients qu’il peut produire.
06E : There is a kind of prudence which is superior to what is ordinarily qualified of that name : it is the prudence of the eagle, while the other is the prudence of the mole. The former consists in boldly living according to one’s character, while courageously accepting whatever disadvantages and inconveniences this attitude may produce.

07F : La plupart des hommes qui vivent dans le monde y vivent si étourdiment, pensent si peu, qu’ils ne connaissent pas ce monde qu’ils ont toujours sous les yeux. “Ils ne le connaissent pas, disait plaisamment M. de B., par la raison qui fait que les hannetons ne savent pas l’histoire naturelle. “
07E : Most of men who live in the world lead lives with so little reasoning and so rare a thought, that they do not know anything about this world which is always in front of their eyes. “They do not know it”, as M. de B. wittily said, “for the same reason as June bugs do not know anything about natural history.”

08F : La plus perdue de toutes les journées est celle où l’on n’a pas ri.
08E : The most lost of all one’s days is this day when one has not laughed.

09F : Quand on éviter d’être charlatan, il faut fuir les tréteaux ; car, si l’on y monte, on est bien forcé d’être charlatan, sans quoi l’assemblée vous jette des pierres.
09E : When one wants to avoid being a con man, one must abstain from going on the stage, for if one goes on the stage, one is forced to be a con man, in order the audience not to throw stones at you.

10F : L’homme sans principes est aussi ordinairement un homme sans caractère ; car, s’il était né avec du caractère, il aurait senti le besoin de se trouver des principes.
10E : Ordinarily, a man without principles is also a man without character ; for, if he had been born with character, he would have felt the need to forge his own principles.

11F : La fausse modestie est le plus décent de tous les mensonges.
11E : False modesty is the most decent of all lies.

12F : Des qualités trop supérieures rendent souvent un homme moins propre à la société. On ne va pas au marché avec des lingots ; on y va avec de l’argent ou de la petite monnaie.
12E : Qualities, when they are too high, often make a man less adapted to society. One does not go to the market with gold ingots ; one goes there with silver or with small change.

13F : Un homme d’esprit est perdu s’il ne joint pas à l’esprit l’énergie de caractère. Quand on a la lanterne de Diogène, il faut avoir son bâton.
13E : A man of wits is doomed if he does not also possess a strong character. If one has Diogenes’ lantern, one must also have Diogenes’ stick.

14F : La nature ne m’a point dit : “Ne sois point pauvre” ; encore moins : “Sois riche” ; mais elle me crie : “Sois indépendant.”
14E : Nature did not tell me : “Do not be poor” ; nature did not even tell me : “Be rich” ; but nature shouted at me : “Be independant”.

15F : Tout est également vain dans les hommes, leurs joies et leurs chagrins ; mais il vaut mieux que la bulle de savon soit d’or ou d’azur, que noire ou grisâtre.
15E : Everything is equally futile about men, their joys and their griefs ; but it’s better for the soap bubble to be golden or azurean, rather than dark or greyish.

16F : Je n’étudie que ce qui me plaît ; je n’occupe mon esprit que des idées qui m’intéressent. Elles seront utiles ou inutiles, soit à moi, soit aux autres ; le temps amènera ou n’amènera pas les circonstances qui me feront faire de mes acquisitions un emploi profitable. Dans tous les cas, j’aurai eu l’avantage inestimable de ne me pas contrarier, et d’avoir obéi à ma pensée et à mon caractère.
16E : I only study what pleases me ; I keep myself busy only with ideas that I find interesting. They will be useful or useless, either to me or to others ; time will, or will not, reveal circumstances allowing me to make some profit of what I will have learned. In all cases, I will have had the priceless advantage of having not contraried myself, and to have obeyed my own thoughts and character.

17F : On a observé que les écrivains en physique, histoire naturelle, physiologie, chimie, étaient ordinairement des hommes d’un caractère doux, égal, et en général heureux ; qu’au contraire les écrivains de politique, de législation, même de morale, étaient d’une humeur triste, mélancolique, etc. Rien de plus simple : les uns étudient la nature, les autres la société : les uns contemplent l’ouvrage d’un grand être ; les autres arrêtent leurs regards sur l’ouvrage de l’homme. Les résultats doivent être différents.
17E : From observation, one has found that those who write about physics, natural history, physiology, chemistry were ordinarily men with a gentle, even-tempered, and generally happy character ; on the contrary, those who write about politics, laws and even morals are sad, melancholic, etc. Nothing is simpler to understand : the former are studying nature, while the latter are studying society ; the former contemplate the works of a higher being, while the latter have to limit their examination to the works of men. Results have to be different.

18F : Peu de philosophie mène à mépriser l’érudition ; beaucoup de philosophie mène à l’estimer.
18E : The man who knows little is led to despise scholarship ; the man who knows a lot is led to think highly of scholarship.

19F : Ce qui fait le succès de quantité d’ouvrages est le rapport qui se trouve entre la médiocrité des idées de l’auteur et la médiocrité des idées du public.
19E : What make the success of many books is the connection that exists between the mediocrity of the author’s ideas and the mediocrity of the audience’s ideas.

20F : Spérone-Spéroni explique très bien comment un auteur qui s’énonce très clairement pour lui-même est quelquefois obscur pour son lecteur : “C’est, dit-il, que l’auteur va de la pensée à l’expression et que le lecteur va de l’expression à la pensée.”
20E : Spérone-Spéroni explains very well why an author who is very clear for himself is sometimes obscure for his reader : “The reason is, he says, that the author goes from thought to expression while the reader goes from expression to thought.”

21F : Il n’y a d’histoire digne d’attention que celle des peuples libres : l’histoire des peuples soumis au despotisme n’est qu’un recueil d’anecdotes.
21E : The only history worth examining is the the history of free peoples : the history of peoples living under a tyranny is merely an anthology of anecdotes.

22F : La France, pays où il est souvent utile de montrer ses vices, et toujours dangereux de montrer ses vertus.
22E : France is a country where it is often useful to show one’s vices and where it is always dangerous to show one’s virtues.

23F : En France, on laisse en repos ceux qui mettent le feu et on persécute ceux qui sonnent le tocsin.
23E : In France, those who light criminal fires are not disturbed, while those who raise the alarm are persecuted.

24F : Il est malheureux pour les hommes, heureux peut-être pour les tyrans, que les pauvres, les malheureux, n’aient pas l’instinct ou la fierté de l’éléphant qui ne se reproduit point dans la servitude.
24E : It is a bad thing for mankind, but probably a good thing for tyrants, that the poor, the unfortunate do not have the instinct or the pride of the elephant who does not breed when he’s kept captive.

25F : On gouverne les hommes avec la tête : on ne joue pas aux échecs avec un bon coeur.
25E : Brains are required in order to rule men : one does not play chess with just a good heart.

26F : M., provençal, qui a des idées assez plaisantes, me disait, à propos des rois et même des ministres, que la machine étant bien montée, le choix des uns et des autres était indifférent : “Ce sont, disait-il, des chiens dans un tourne-broche ; il suffit qu’ils remuent les pattes pour que tout aille bien. Que le chien soit beau, qu’il ait de l’intelligence ou du nez, ou rien de tout cela, la broche tourne, et le souper sera toujours à peu près bon.”
26E : M., from Provence, has rather interesting ideas. Once, he told me this about kings and even ministers : that provided the social machine was well designed, the choice of any of them was indifferent. “They are dogs in a rotating spit ; they just have to move their paws for everything to run fine. The dog may be beautiful, the dog may be smart, the dog may have a good nose, or the dog may have none of these characteristics : the rotating spit still turns, and the supper will always be edible.”


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TOTD 2018-9-2: QIL [0]

“Quotes I Like”, of course.

 

“Le vrai philosophe a le plus grand respect des imbéciles : ils forment à la fois une clientèle et une majorité” (Hubert Monteilhet, *Les pavés du diable*)

A translation I’ll let the reader rephrase in correct English could be :

“The true philosopher has the utmost respect for morons : they’re both customers and a majority.”

I particularly like the next one because it reminds us men of letters are not *that* useless when compared to technicians and scientists (a *very* old debate anyway) :

“Mirum videri possit, quare graves sententiae in scriptis poetarum, magis quam philosophorum. Ratio est quod poetae per enthousiasmum et vim imaginationis scripsere : sunt in nobis semina scientiae, ut in silice, quae per rationem a philosophis educuntur, per imaginationem a poetis excutiuntur magisque elucent.”

In French, now : “Il peut sembler étonnant que des pensées profondes figurent dans les écrits des poètes plus encore que dans ceux des philosophes. La raison en est que les poètes les écrivirent dans l’enthousiasme et la force de l’imagination : il y a en nous des semences de sagesse comme en un silex des semences de feu. C’est avec leur raison que les philosophes les extraient, avec leur imagination que les poètes les arrachent : elles brillent alors davantage.”

In (rough) English : “It may seem astonishing that deep thoughts are to be found more in poets’ writings than in philosophers’ ones. The reason is that poets wrote thanks to their enthusiasm  and the strength of their imagination : there are in ourselves seeds of wisdom the same way there are seeds of fire in a flint stone. Philosophers extract them using their reasonings, poets get them using their imagination : in the latter case then, they shine all the better.”

The (probably) unexpected author of those words is Descartes, of cartesian and *Olympica* fame.

“N.F.F.N.S.N.C.” : this classical Latin abbreviated formula was so known it did not need any explanation when written on tombs. It means : “Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo”, i.e. “I did not exist, I existed, I don’t exist any more, I don’t care”. Such a wisdom can stand for not so bad a metaphysics.


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TOTD 2018-8-25: Joy Comes in the Morning

Time to pull out a quote.

5 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 30:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

This is a classic. It even was used in a P. G. Wodehouse title for one of his Jeeves books. The English title was Joy in the Morning whereas the American title was Jeeves in the Morning.  For those who might not know, Ps 30:5 is Psalms 30 verse 5 in the Bible.


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TOTD 2018-08-22: Not My Problem, Grasshopper…

Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” – Bob Carter

When you consider American conservatism, self-reliance always comes to the forefront. The classic conservative American ideal is the self-made man, the person does not need to rely on others. Now, this is not exactly accurate – we are not islands isolated from each, we are social creatures – but the principle is there. We do not celebrate, barbecue, and launch fireworks for Dependence Day.

There is a harsher side to this focus on self-reliance – the fate of those not self-reliant. This brings up the classic fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper partied while the ant kept busy storing up resources and digging a burrow, and when the winter came the grasshopper starved and froze to death. Harsh, yes, but that was the way of the world for centuries. Pity and charity are fundamentally luxuries – if you do not have abundance, the unprepared starve. There is no obligation to help others at a cost yourself except moral principles. It is noble and a deeply respected tradition to offer hospitality to the traveler, even if he was unprepared for the journey. Regardless, there is no formal duty to aid others.

I am not a believer in Ayn Rand’s Objectivism with its hatred of altruism – I serve the King of Heroic Sacrifice – but the modern culture of dependence and refusal to prepare for future misfortune is leading us off of the cliff. Perhaps it is time to bring back a dose of cold reality to our modern grasshoppers.


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“Eugenics” by Another Name…

Replying to 

Everyone will stay opposed to ‘eugenics’… right up until the microsecond that they can use it to give their own kids an advantage in life.

Me:

We just re-brand it as “Pro-choice”-problem solved! Progressives on-board! (Some of that “lateral thinking” I’ve been hearing about).

So, who all here has read Heinlein’s first (published) novel Beyond This Horizon? Skillfully explored the ethics of ‘eugenics’ and also a heavily armed, and thus, extremely polite, society. Heinlein had the government run the (voluntary) eugenics program, and distribute Basic Income (just how topical to 2018 can a 1940 novel be?!)

My current take: Unless we do some kind of World-Treaty, eugenics arms race with the Red Chinese started approximately last month. We just don’t know it yet. And as Geoffrey Miller so pithily notes, no one is going to unilaterally disarm.


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