Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Quote of the day

"If [conservatives] look honestly enough, they will realize the conservative information sphere has long been full of lies. The reason for this is that lying has been the most effective way to promote many of the policies favored by donor-class conservatives, and so they built an apparatus to invent and spread the best lies." - Josh Barro

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Quote of the day

"You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You're not superior to people who were cruel to you. You're just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who'll end up being cruel to you. The only way anyone can live in peace is if they're prepared to forgive. Why don't you break the cycle?" - Doctor Who, "The Zygon Inversion"

Monday, September 12, 2016

Quote of the day

"There are plenty of good reasons for fighting ... but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side." - Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

via Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels by Gregory Sumner

Friday, September 02, 2016

Quote of the day

"Humanism in the modern sense of the term is the view that whatever your ethical system, it derives from your best understanding of human nature and the human condition in the real world." - AC Grayling, Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness

Most recent discount book buy

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (hc) by Lawrence Wright for $1.00.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Quote of the day

"In this election, we have the opportunity to repudiate not only Donald Trump but Trumpism, and not only Trumpism but the entire apparatus that gave us this man and this moment." - Corey Robin

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Quote of the day

"It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. Life is long enough and our allotted portion generous enough for our most ambitious projects if we invest it all carefully. But when it is squandered through luxury and indifference, and spent for no good end, we realize it has gone, under the pressure of the ultimate necessity, before we were aware it was going. So it is: the life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully. Kingly riches are dissipated in an instant if they fall into the hands of a bad master, but even moderate wealth increases with use in the hands of a careful steward; just so does our life provide ample scope if it is well managed." - Seneca, "On the Shortness of Life"

Thursday, April 14, 2016

More discount book buying

Went back to the library book sale and picked these up for a dollar each.

The Age of Uncertainty (hc) by John Kenneth Galbraith

Planet Earth (hc) by Jonathan Weiner

The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe Report (pb) by Timothy Ferris

The White Plague (hc) by Frank Herbert

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (hc) by James Gleick

The Ascent of Science (hc) by Brian Silver

The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffrey Sachs

Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution (hc) by Steven Poole

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (hc) by Erik Larson

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World (hc) by Tony Horwitz

I already have a Kindle edition of Genius but will gladly add it in hardcover to my collection given my admiration for Feynman.

Latest discount book buys

Got these at the library book sale, $1 each.

Freedom: A Novel (hc) by Jonathan Franzen

Silent Spring (pb) by Rachel Carson

Mason and Dixon (hc) by Thomas Pynchon

The Blind Assassin: A Novel (hc) by Margaret Atwood

The Enemy Within: A Short History of Witch-hunting (hc) by John Demos

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (hc) by Eric Schlosser

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (hc) by Marion Nestle

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (hc) by Michael Sandel

Contact (hc) by Carl Sagan

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science (hc) by Natalie Angier

The Goldfinch: A Novel (hc) by Donna Tartt

Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech (hc) Craig Silverman

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (hc) by Matt Taibbi

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (hc) by Martha Nussbaum

The Physics of Star Trek (hc) by Lawrence Krauss

I already have Kindle editions of Silent Spring and The Divide but am happy to add them in print to my collection at such a bargain price; and I have a paperback copy of Fast Food Nation which I will be donating back to the library since I've now upgraded to hardcover.

Mason and Dixon, Regret the Error, The Canon and Food Politics are former library books which look mint and appear to have never been checked out. (What Money Can't Buy looks close to new, as well.) The Canon, The Divide, The Physics of Star Trek, and Not for Profit are donated new books; Fast Food Nation is used with someone's name inscribed in the first page but appears to have never been read. Contact is also a donation and a first edition that looks like it has been sitting on a store bookshelf somewhere since its original release.

And I didn't pick this up at the library sale, but Barnes & Noble had Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture (hc) by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor for $10, which I could not resist given how much I enjoyed the 3 part PBS documentary it is the companion to.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quote of the day

"Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end burn human beings." - Heinrich Heine (1820)

Heine's works were among those burned by the Nazis in 1933.

via Hitler's Philosophers by Yvonne Sherratt

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Excerpt of the day

From Half a Crown by Jo Walton

"As soon as she's told them whatever it is they think she's holding out on, she'll be back with you ... She'll tell them soon. You've approved the [interrogation] methods at Finsbury yourself."

Carmichael wanted to say that he hadn't approved them for Elvira, for an innocent girl, but the words wouldn't come out of his mouth. He had approved them, and if he had approved them he had approved them for her, for anyone, for everyone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quote of the day

"[A]ny man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." - John Donne, Meditation XVII

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Kim Davis and moral false equivalence

"This is like saying that Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus and the bus driver refusing to let black people on the bus would be morally equivalent, which is clearly false." - Ed Brayton, on those claiming Kim Davis is a hero of conscience

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Quote of the day

"Think like philosophers. Pursue excellence, in this as in all things." - Jo Walton, The Philosopher Kings

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Excerpt of the day

From Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey

"This isn't about good guys and bad guys," Anna said. "Yes, we've picked sides now, because some of the actions they are about to take will have serious consequences for us, and we're going to try to stop them. But what you're doing is demonizing them, making them the enemy. The problem with that is that is that once we've stopped them and they can't hurt us anymore, they're still demons. Still the enemy."

"Believe me," Tilly said, "when I get out of here, it will be my mission in life to burn Cortez to the ground for this."

"Why?"

"What do you mean, why?"

"He won't be on a ship trying to destroy the Ring anymore. He won't be supporting Ashford anymore. All of the circumstances that made him your enemy will be gone. What's the value in the clinging to the hate?"

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quotes from The Just City

From The Just City by Jo Walton (click here for a review of this excellent sci-fi/fantasy/philosophy book.)

  • "You can't trust everything that ass Plato wrote," Sokrates said.
  • Sokrates, of course, didn't ever see what he expected to see, he saw what was there and examined it.
  • "Plato didn't have as much experience of humanity as he needed to write a book like the Republic," Sokrates said. "Perhaps nobody does."
  • "There isn't an endpoint to excellence where you have it and you can stop. Being your best self means keeping on trying."

Monday, February 23, 2015

The difference

Tom Scocca, on why Brian Williams suffered for his false war correspondence claims, while Bill O'Reilly will suffer none for his

The reason why Brian Williams got into deep trouble for lying about his war experience while Bill O'Reilly hasn't is that Williams and O'Reilly have different jobs, for different employers. Brian Williams was paid to sit in front of a TV camera and give viewers an ostensibly neutral, agreeable account of current events. When people began disagreeing with Brian Williams about his presentation of facts, loudly and in public, it hurt his ability to perform those duties for NBC.

Bill O'Reilly is paid to go on television for Fox News and say things that get the viewers upset, even if those things are false or nonsensical. So what if his experience in the Falklands war was bogus? So is his experience in the War on Christmas. The fact that people are calling him dishonest simply proves, from Fox's point of view, that he's doing his job.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Look back, to look forward

New York Times editorial

Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.

Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Latest discount book buys

Picked these up at the local library book sale, all a dollar each:

Alpha & Omega: The Search for the Beginning and the End of the Universe (hc) by  Charles Seife

Carl Sagan: A Life (hc) by Keay Davidson

An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media (hc) by Joe Muto

Republic (pb) by Plato

The Road to Serfdom (pb) by F.A. Hayek

Mencken: A Life (hc) by Fred Hobson

Of these, I have previously read The Road to Serfdom and have listened to an audio book edition of Republic.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Excerpt of the day

From Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather

"Anytime there's even a hint of the government limiting the public's ability to buy guns, people go crazy about them taking away our freedom, but this new law that gives the government the right to spy into every aspect of your life, without your consent - barely a peep. A clear violation of the third and fourth amendments, but nobody says a word." He took a deep breath.

"You know what freedom really is?" demanded Rory. "Freedom is civil liberty, and the foundation of civil liberty is privacy. No privacy means no civil liberty means no freedom. You know why they don't just fingerprint everyone?"

"Seems like a good idea to me," laughed Chuck.

"Because once they have your fingerprints," continued Rory, ignoring Chuck, "you instantly become a subject in every crime. They'll run your fingerprints against everything they find at a crime. You go from being a free citizen to being a criminal suspect."

"And fingerprints are just one way of identifying you," added Damon. "Location, your face on a camera, things you buy - all your personal information creates a digital fingerprint."

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"Today, another UN school was shelled in Gaza, killing ten, wounding many more, traumatizing countless others. These civilian deaths even in a place designated as a safe haven simply beggar belief. It is impossible to feel sympathy for either Israel or Hamas at this point. Hamas is daring Israel to kill more innocents; and Israel is eagerly obliging them. How many more children have to die to feed these zero-sum ambitions?" - Andrew Sullivan

Monday, July 14, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict." - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quotes of the day

From Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller

On Scientology hagiographies of Hubbard: "Virtually none of this is true."

On Hubbard believing his fictional biography comprised of lies:

By then [L. Ron] Hubbard was nearly seventy years old and bad lived so long in a world of phantasmagoria that he was unable to distinguish between fact and his own fantastic fiction. He believed he was the teenage explorer, swashbuckling hero, sage and philosopher his biographies said he was. It was perhaps too late for him to comprehend that his life, in reality, far outstripped the fabricated version. He made the leap from penniless science-fiction writer to millionaire guru and prophet in a single, effortless bound; he led a private navy across the oceans of the world for nearly a decade; he came close to taking over control of several countries; he was worshipped by thousands of his followers around the world and was detested and feared by most governments.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quote of the day

"The anti-abortion zealots are just awful people, really. They have absolutely no problem treating these girls and women absolutely horribly while proclaiming themselves to be saints. It's a truly disgusting display of cruelty in the name of God." - Digby

Thursday, June 05, 2014

"Supporting our troops"

"Taken together, the far right’s dehumanization of the American soldier is clear. If he or she is willing to promote the Sarah Palin version of patriotism, honor and masculinity (or at least allow themselves to be used for that purpose), they are not human beings but rather legends and gods. And if they refuse, they lose their humanity once more, now becoming contemptible beyond all measure. Either way, they are not individuals — complex and mysterious and sacred — but rather means to an end that is, fundamentally, about their self-styled defenders’ ideological satisfaction. This, it seems to me, is an exceedingly twisted way to support our troops." - Elias Isquith

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Further tales of elected Republicans who sound insane

"Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign-ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of mandatory sign-ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s." - TN State Sen. Stacey Campfield

Yep, just like it. Can't think of any difference in the outcome of the ACA and Nazi death camps.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Quote of the day

"When our own nation is at war with any other, we detest them under the character of cruel, perfidious, unjust and violent: but always esteem ourselves and allies equitable, moderate and merciful. If the general of our enemies be successful, ’tis with difficulty we allow him the figure and character of a man. He is a sorcerer: he has a communication with daemons … he is bloody-minded and takes pleasure in death and destruction. But if the success be on our side, our commander has all the opposite good qualities, and is a pattern of virtue, as well as of courage and conduct. His treachery we call policy: his cruelty is an evil inseparable from war. In short, every one of his faults we either endeavor to extenuate, or dignify it with the name of virtue, which approaches it. ‘Tis evident that the same method of thinking runs thro’ common life.” - David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

via Less than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others by David Livingstone Smith

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quote of the day

"[N]o amount of after-the-fact sorrow could ever atone for joy taken in destruction, whether it was burning ants or shooting prisoners." - Stephen King, Under the Dome

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Quote of the day

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to publick traitors." - John Trenchard & Thomas Gordon, Cato's Letters #15 (February 4, 1720)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense. She respects no standards but her own. She is in perpetual tantrum, railing against her betters, which is practically everyone, and volunteering for the job of avatar to the country's reckless vandal of a political Id. It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children." - Charles Pierce, on Sarah Palin's 2014 CPAC speech

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Excerpt of the day

"[Ayn Rand] claimed to have created herself with the help of no one, even though she was the lifelong beneficiary of social democratic largesse. She got a college education thanks to the Russian Revolution, which opened universities to women and Jews and, once the Bolsheviks had seized power, made tuition free. Subsidizing theatre for the masses, the Bolsheviks also made it possible for Rand to see cheesy operettas on a weekly basis. After Rand's first play closed in New York City in April 1936, the Works Progress Administration took it on the road to theaters across the country, giving Rand a handsome income of $10 a performance throughout the late 1930s. Librarians at the New York Public Library assisted her with the research for The Fountainhead." - Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"[I]f the entire intelligence community thinks these reporters are either committing a crime or are an accomplice to one [for NSA reports based on Edward Snowden leaks], are they attempting to use this as a justification to target them with surveillance? This is the question the press should now be asking since we know it’s not just a fluke that intelligence officials are trying to paint journalists doing their job as criminals." - Trevor Timm

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Quote of the day

"Saint Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nobokov, Isaiah Berlin, and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both." - Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Quote of the day

"The truth is that neither federal nor state governments have ever mounted a campaign to intern the free-market faithful or blacklist the hardworking proletarians in the Chicago futures pits. However, they have used force over the years to break up strikes, imprison labor organizers, keep minorities from voting, round up people of Japanese descent, and disrupt antiwar movements. Today, though, it suits the resurgent Right to imagine itself as the real victim of state persecution, which no doubt enhances its aura as a dissident movement taking on a merciless establishment." - Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trivia of the day

Question: What was the first typewritten manuscript submitted for publication?

Answer: Life on the Mississippi (1883) by Mark Twain

Twain receives the credit for having dictated the book to a secretary, although this is not so much a verified fact as a claim found to be the most plausible case for first such use of the typewriter.

[Source - The Disappearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Quote of the day

"Extreme inequality, it turns out, creates a class of people who are alarmingly detached from reality — and simultaneously gives these people great power." - Paul Krugman, "Paranoia of the Plutocrats"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quote of the day

"The conservative capacity for driving nails into their own palms may well be limitless." - Charles Pierce

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quote of the day

"Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things." - Michael Sandel, Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Quote of the day

"Clearly he was the cause of the stories that had arisen recently in the more extremely abhorrent sectors of the tabloid press about there being 'Something Nasty in the Woodshead.' The stories had, of course, been offensive and callously insensitive and had largely been ignored by everybody in the country except for those very few millions who were keen on offensive and callously insensitive things." - Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Friday, January 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what [one] does not believe." - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Monday, January 06, 2014

Quote of the day

"With cold weather it is inevitable that the American right wing, which has a poor grasp of science and math (along with economics, American history, and current events), will claim this to be evidence against global warming." - Ron Chusid

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quote of the day

"No law has a right to discourage the practice of truth. A man ought to speak the truth on every occasion, a duty can never be criminal, what is not criminal cannot be injurious." - Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Declaration of Rights"

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quote of the day

"You’re an aggressive bully and an arrogant idiot!" - Mike Weinstein, speaking to Bill O'Reilly

Weinstein was responding to O'Reilly having called soldiers who wish to have their First Amendment rights protected by having the military adhere to church/state separation cowards.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quote of the day

"If your newspaper is going to publish a weekly column by Karl Rove, you have already crossed whatever conceptual boundary might stop you from publishing Suzanne Somers." - Jonathan Chait

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My most recent discount book buys

All for a dollar, courtesy of the local library book sale:

That Hideous Strength (pb) by C.S. Lewis

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons (pb) by Robert Sapolsky

How the Mind Works (hc) by Steven Pinker

Zero History (hc) by William Gibson

Storms of my Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (hc) by James Hansen

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman (hc) by Jon Krakauer

That Hideous Strength completes for me Lewis's Space Trilogy, having long years ago read my copy of the first installment and purchased book 2 in a previous installment of Discount Book Buying. Although I'm happy to obtain a copy of Storms of my Grandchildren in pristine condition, it does dishearten me that this former library copy of a book on such an important subject looks as though it was has never been checked out.

And in tribute to libraries everywhere, a word from author Neil Gaiman on their greatness.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Quote of the day

"Bear in mind that the measure of a man is the worth of the things he cares about." - Marcus Aurelius, The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations

I still remember standing in a Barnes & Noble bookstore about nine years ago, flipping through this book and coming across this quote, thinking it fantastic. I would put The Meditations on my must read list of philosophy texts.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Excerpt of the day

From The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney

I used to be a war reporter. From Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya to Zimbabwe I have been shelled, shot at, bombed, arrested, threatened and a Serb devotee of Slobodan Milosevic once stuck two sticks of dynamite up my nose. But never, ever, in all my times in all those wars have I felt under such harrowing psychological pressure as I did inside the brainwashing section of the Church of Scientology's exhibition, 'Psychiatry: The Industry of Death' on Sunset Boulevard in LA in the spring of 2007.
I previously wrote about the incident Sweeney is referencing, here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Baleful quote of the day

"I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange." - Michael Grunwald

Grunwald is a reporter for Time magazine. His tweet is indicative of a pervasive rot in an American press corps which identifies not with the role of journalism in maintaining/creating an informed public citizenry, but with disseminating and reverberating the images that the national security state would like the public to believe.