Thursday, September 03, 2015

Proportion

In the early days of the world, the Almighty said to the first of our race "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread"; and since then, if we except the light and the air of heaven, no good thing has been, or can be enjoyed by us, without having first cost labour. And inasmuch [as] most good things are produced by labour, it follows that [all] such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have labored, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To [secure] to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.
--Abraham Lincoln,
fragments of a tariff discussion (c. December 1, 1847); in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 1, p. 407-8.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Superstition

"The superstition that the hounds of truth will rout the vermin of error seems, like a fragment of Victorian lace, quaint, but too brittle to be lifted out of the showcase."
--William F. Buckley, Jr.
National Review, January 16, 1962

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Madmen

"It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future."
--Thomas Sankara:
Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987

Monday, August 31, 2015

Wayne Dyer, R.I.P.

May 10, 1940 - August 29, 2015


You'll seldom experience regret for anything that you've done. It is what you haven't done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you've lost them forever.


Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.


Friends are God's way of apologizing for your family.


In any relationship in which two people become one, the end result is two half people.


Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.


The last suit that you wear, you don't need any pockets.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Patriots V

"I've seen a lot of patriots and they all died just like anybody else if it hurt bad enough and once they were dead their patriotism was only good for legends; it was bad for their prose and made them write bad poetry. If you are going to be a great patriot, i.e., loyal to any existing order of government (not one who wishes to destroy the existing for something better), you want to be killed early if your life and works won't stink."
--Ernest Hemingway, letter, January 12, 1936, published in "Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917 - 1961" (1981) edited by Carlos Baker

Friday, August 28, 2015

Strides

"The history of mankind is the instant between two strides taken by a traveler."
--Franz Kafka, "The Blue Octavo Notebooks" (1954)

Soul II

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."
--James Herriot

Thursday, August 27, 2015

200

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.
These nations have progressed through this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage.

--Sir Alex Fraser Tyler: (1742-1813) Scottish jurist and historian.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Specimen

"One hears murmurs against Mussolini on the ground that he is a desperado: the real objection to him is that he is a politician. Indeed, he is probably the most perfect specimen of the genus politician on view in the world today. His career has been impeccably classical. Beginning life as a ranting Socialist of the worst type, he abjured Socialism the moment he saw better opportunities for himself on the other side, and ever since then he has devoted himself gaudily to clapping Socialists in jail, filling them with castor oil, sending blacklegs to burn down their houses, and otherwise roughing them. Modern politics has produced no more adept practitioner."
--H. L. Mencken, in "Mussolini" in the Baltimore Evening Sun (3 August 1931), also in A Second Mencken Chrestomathy : New Selections from the Writings of America's Legendary Editor, Critic, and Wit (1994) edited by Terry Teachout, p. 34

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Patriotism IV

"Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it."
--George Bernard Shaw, "The World" (November 15, 1893)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tigers

"Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount."
--Winston Churchill

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Wean

Little by little, wean yourself. This is the gist of what I have to say. From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood, move to an infant drinking milk, to a child on solid food, to a searcher after wisdom, to a hunter of more invisible game.
   
Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo. You might say, "The world outside is vast and intricate. There are wheatfields and mountain passes, and orchards in bloom. At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding."
   
You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up in the dark with eyes closed. Listen to the answer. There is no "other world." I only know what I've experienced. You must be hallucinating.
      
--Rumi (1207 - 1273), as quoted in The Enlightened Mind (1991), edited by Stephen Mitchell

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sane

"This is a sane man, and a sane man is capable of unrepentant, unlimited, planned evil. He was the genius bureaucrat, he was the powerful frozen mind which directed a gigantic organization; he is the perfect model of inhumanness; but he was not alone. Eager thousands obeyed him. Everyone could not have his special talents; many people were needed to smash a baby's head against the pavement before the mother's eyes, to urge a sick old man to rest and shoot him in the back of the head; there was endless work for willing hands. How many more like these exist everywhere?"
--Martha Gellhorn in "[Adolf] Eichmann and the Private Conscience", Atlantic Monthly, 1962.

Annihilating

"It is the Late city that first defies the land, contradicts Nature in the lines of its silhouette, denies all Nature. It wants to be something different from and higher than Nature. These high-pitched gables, these Baroque cupolas, spires, and pinnacles, neither are, nor desire to be, related with anything in Nature. And then begins the gigantic megalopolis, the city-as-world, which suffers nothing beside itself and sets about annihilating the country picture."
--Oswald Spengler

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vipers

"You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out,
and by the grace of the Eternal God, will rout you out."
--Andrew Jackson
(1767-1845) 7th US President
Source: upon evicting from the Oval Office a delegation of international bankers discussing the Bank Renewal Bill, 1832

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Imperceptible

"These examples and many others demonstrate an alarming trend whereby the privacy and dignity of our citizens is being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen -- a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of man's life at will."
--William O. Douglas,
Dissenting, Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 323, 343 (1966).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Positive

"Wouldn’t you like to see a positive LSD story on the news? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition? Perhaps? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Just for once? ‘Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration--that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.‘"
--Bill Hicks

Monday, August 17, 2015

Snooker

"And that, apart from a flurry of sensational newspaper reports which exposed him as a fraud, then trumpeted him as the real thing so that they could have another round of exposing him as a fraud again and then trumpeting him as the real thing again, until they got bored and found a nice juicy snooker player to harass instead, was that."
--Douglas Adams, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" (1987)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Just

"One of the great American tragedies is to have participated in a just war. It's been possible for politicians and movie-makers to encourage us we're always good guys. The Second World War absolutely had to be fought. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. But we never talk about the people we kill. This is never spoken of."

--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Interviewed by Roger Friedman, "God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut", FoxNews.com (November 11, 2002)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Devoid

"Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle--a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.
  
It is the aim of the Bill of Rights, if it has any remaining aim at all, to curb such prehensile gentry. Its function is to set a limitation upon their power to harry and oppress us to their own private profit. The Fathers, in framing it, did not have powerful minorities in mind; what they sought to hobble was simply the majority. But that is a detail. The important thing is that the Bill of Rights sets forth, in the plainest of plain language, the limits beyond which even legislatures may not go. The Supreme Court, in Marbury v. Madison, decided that it was bound to execute that intent, and for a hundred years that doctrine remained the corner-stone of American constitutional law."

--H.L.Mencken, The American Mercury (May 1930)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Creative

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."
--Martin Luther King

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Success V

"Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other."
--Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Forgetting

"Seven to eleven is a huge chunk of life, full of dulling and forgetting. It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armor themselves against wonder."
--Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Atrophy

" ... I suggest that the more the state intervenes in such situations, the more 'necessary' (on this view) it becomes, because positive altruism and voluntary cooperative behaviour atrophy in the presence of the state and grow in its absence. Thus, again, the state exacerbates the conditions which are supposed to make it necessary. We might say that the state is like an addictive drug: the more of it we have, the more we 'need' it and the more we come to 'depend' on it."
--Michael Taylor
Source: The Possibility of Cooperation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 168

Monday, August 10, 2015

Empowerment

Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It's not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights -- the "right" to education, the "right" to health care, the "right" to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are rations of slavery -- hay and a barn for human cattle. There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.
--P. J. O'Rourke
(1947- ) US humorist, journalist, & political commentator
Source: Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut (Atlantic Monthly Press 1995)

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Injection

Because "phenol was... a secret of the camp hospital," and people risked their lives if they revealed it; because prisoner hospital workers realized that to tell the truth to the doomed people would cause them greater pain, and therefore tried to contribute to the illusion of "the injection as some normal administrative and medical procedure"; and because of the universal psychological need to refuse "to accept the idea that life is coming to an end." One could hold to that denial precisely because "everyone had for years [prior to Auschwitz] connected the idea of hospital, doctors, nurses, injections, medical treatment with the struggle for life--and not with murder."
           
--Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide", p. 259

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Balance III

For the SS doctor, efficiency in selections became equated with quarantine arrangements and the improvement of actual medical units, all in the service of keeping enough inmates able to work and the camp free of epidemics. Within that context, the SS doctor inevitably came to perceive his professional function to be in neither the killing nor the healing alone, but in achieving the necessary balance. That healing-killing balance, according to the SS doctor Ernst B., was :the problem" for Auschwitz doctors. From that standpoint, as he further explained, the principle of "clearing out" a block when there was extensive diarrhea--sending everyone on it to the gas chambers--could be viewed as "pseudo ethical" and "pseudo idealistic." Dr. B. meant that such a policy in that environment could be perceived by the doctors themselves as ethical and idealistic in that they carried out their task to perfection on behalf of the higher goal of camp balance.
           
--Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide", p. 202

Friday, August 07, 2015

Affected

They [the SS doctors] did their work just as someone who goes to an office goes about his work. They were gentlemen who came and went, who supervised and were relaxed, sometimes smiling, sometimes joking, but never unhappy. They were witty if they felt like it. Personally I did not get the impression that they were much affected by what was going on--nor shocked. It went on for years. It was not just one day.     
--Auschwitz prisoner doctor    
           
Quoted in Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide", p. 193

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Imagery II

The legal and social theory of the camps, as articulated in 1936, had a distinctly biological and therapeutic hue. Werner Best, Himmler's legal authority, identified the "political principle of totalitarianism" with the "ideological principle of the organically indivisible national community," and declared that "any attempt to gain recognition for or even to uphold different political ideas will be ruthlessly dealt with, as the symptom of an illness which threatens the healthy unity of the indivisible national organism, regardless of the subjective wishes of its supporters."  Thus, the disease-cure imagery was extended to the concentration camps--a still larger reversal of healing and killing.
--Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide", p. 153

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Legitimation

A close observer notes that 14f13 was initially aimed at exterminating those in the camps who had psychiatric disturbances; and that, given the crudeness of the deceptions employed it is difficult to understand why Himmler did not trust his own camp doctors to execute the selections, since with the criteria applied any SS sergeant could have acted with the same competence .. . . [and] the expert professors could have put on their signatures in Berlin18. The answer I believe, lies in the powerful Nazi impulse sometimes conscious and at other times inchoate to bring the greatest degree of medical legitimation to the widest range of killing.
--Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide", p. 138

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Enthusiasm

Eberl’s enthusiasm for "euthanasia" killing was expressed in his intense advocacy of the law that would openly legitimate the project as well as mercy killing on request. He pointed out that, whatever the existing reservations on the part of doctors, "the number of ideologically unacceptable medical officers will indeed shrink from year to year, since the new generation presumably will be ideologically correct to an overwhelming extent."
--Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide", p. 124

Monday, August 03, 2015

Responsibility IV

And responsibility became inseparable from his relationship to the authority of the regime: "The whole system radiated that authority. Like it or not, I was part of it. . . . I had no choice. I was in this web -- this network of authority If you talk to people [in general terms about possibly leaving], they would say, you have to stay wherever you are, ... where you are needed. Don’t disturb the organization."
--Robert Jay Lifton, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide", p. 106

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Tortured

"Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?"
--Albert Camus
Said at the Dominican Monastery of Latour-Maubourg (1948); reported in Resistance, Rebellion and Death (translation by Justin O'Brien, 1961), p. 73.