Nora Ephron: "Never turn down a front-row seat for human folly."
Lord Vetinari, Unseen Academicals: "One day I was a young boy... when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. Even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued... As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and the pink roes spilled out much to the delight of the baby otters. Mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that is when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior."
McAlvie "The ultimate downfall of modern civilization won't be war; it'll be Twitter and Facebook."
Jenny Zhang: "A lot of writers swear by routine, but I swear by chaos. There’s enough fucking routine in my life. Every day I have to brush my teeth. Every day I have to smile at strangers. Every day I have to worry about money. Every day I want something I can’t have. Every day I find some way to go on! I know that writing every day for an hour would help me tremendously with writer’s block, but I also know that I need an element of wildness in my writing. I need to know that writing is something I do because it sets me free. It makes me feel golden with confidence. It gives me the gift of gab. I feel like a god. I feel like an entertainer. So write when you damn well please."
Joe Queenan: "If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it's probably because at some level you find "reality" a bit of a disappointment. People in the 19th century fell in love with "Ivanhoe" and "The Count of Monte Cristo" because they loathed the age they were living through. Women in our own era read "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jane Eyre" and even "The Bridges of Madison County"—a dimwit, hayseed reworking of "Madame Bovary"—because they imagine how much happier they would be if their husbands did not spend quite so much time with their drunken, illiterate golf buddies down at Myrtle Beach. A blind bigamist nobleman with a ruined castle and an insane, incinerated first wife beats those losers any day of the week. Blind, two-timing noblemen never wear belted shorts."
LogicalDash: "Nobody of any age should have to fend off sexual partners. That such defense is assumed as a part of the cost of adult courtship is suggestive of some more fundamental problem than age difference and its effect on consensuality."
Keith Richards: "I had to invent the job, you know," he said, earlier. "There wasn't a sign in the shop window, saying, "Wanted: Keith Richards."
Caitlin Moran: "As I started to reassess my writing style, I thought about what I liked doing--what gave me satisfaction--and realized the primary one was just... pointing at things. Pointing out things I liked, and showing them to other people--like a mum shouting, "Look! Moo-cows!" as a train rushes past a farm. I liked pointing at things, and I liked being reasonable and polite about stuff. Or silly. Silly was very, very good. No one ever got hurt by silly.
Best of all was being pointedly silly about serious things: politics, repression, bigotry. Too many commentators are quick to accuse their enemies of being evil. It's far, far more effective to point out that they're acting like idiots, instead. I was up for idiot-revealing.
"I am just going to be polite and silly, and point at cool things," I decided. "When I started writing, I would have killed to have one thing to write about. Now, I have three. Politeness and silliness, and pointing. That's enough."
Carolyn Hax: "Unless 15 years’ worth of mail has misled me, no one has ever found love through complaining about the lack of it, and no lonely person has ever felt better for hearing, “You just haven’t found the right person yet.”
David Simon: "Change is a motherfucker when you run from it."
Joe Queenan: "People who read an enormous number of books are basically dissatisfied with the way things are going on this planet. And I think, in a way, people read for the same reason that kids play video games ... they like that world better. It works better, it's more exciting, and it usually has a more satisfactory ending."
Dan Savage: "There isn't someone for everyone. Some of us do wind up alone, and that just fucking sucks and sometimes that stings, and you don't know if you're one of those people who's going to wind up alone until you die alone....So you kind of have to live in hope and build a life for yourself that's rewarding and fun, has friends and pleasure in it, whether you're alone or not."
the painkiller: "I will not be tagged, pinned, circled, liked, tweeted, retweeted or numbered."
Steve Jobs: "Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Apple: "Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Miss Manners: "Please do not -- repeat, not -- make a hostile approach to knitters. Have you not noticed that they are armed with long, pointy sticks?"
Stephen Tobolowsky: "And of course, nothing is what I figured on in my life. That seems to be a recurring theme."
James Bulls: "When you find yourself walking a true path, you will know it because you will want to walk it no matter the burning Sun, freezing sleet, torrential rain, and treacherous ground. The risks become no less and the journey as always exhausts you, but your desire to brave the challenges never diminishes."
Amy Argetsinger: "Twitter is a disease, plain and simple. It makes people insane. A decade from now I expect the CDC and FDA will be issuing warnings."
Cary Tennis: "You don't have to "move on" either. Not until you're ready. People say, Oh, you should be grateful. They say, Oh, it's time for you to move on. I'm like, What are you, a cop with a nightstick? I'll move on when I'm done playing the blues on my harmonica, thank you very much."
Mark Morford: "It is 2011 and here is what we know: Reality is fluid, fact is malleable, cause and effect completely uncertain. We know what we don't know, but we also know the opposite."
Charlie Jane Anders: "Just remember, if you flinch from your destiny, you'll never achieve your true greatness — you didn't choose to be chosen, but being chosen means you have to choose."
Roger Ebert: "To put it bluntly, I believe the world is patriarchal because men are bigger and stronger than women, and can beat them up."
Myca: "Jesus is not the reason for the season, and there's no way I need to act like he is. Christmas is a stolen tradition. There's no reason we can't steal it back."
Lady Gaga: "I hate the holidays! I'm alone and miserable, you fucking dumb bit of toy!"
Dianna Agron: "I am trying to live my life with a sharpie marker approach. You can’t erase the strokes you’ve made, but each step is much bolder and more deliberate."
John Mayer: "It occurred to me that since the invocation of Twitter, nobody who has participated in it has created any lasting art. And yes! Yours truly is included in that roundup as well. Let me make sure that statement is as absolute and irrevocable as possible by buzzing your tower one more time: no artwork created by someone with a healthy grasp of social media thus far has proven to be anything other than disposable."
Vanessa, Something Positive: "I like 'em crazy. You hear insane rants, I hear a reminder that the sex is interesting. Oooh! Hear that? Tonight's gonna tingle."
Anonymous: “Your problem is that you want to be an artist. What you need to be is an artisan.”
Sugar: "Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it."
Wide Lawns: "Often very odd things happen to me. Usually they are not my fault and mostly beyond my control."
Anonymous reporter: “When weird shit happens around here, weird shit really happens around here.”
Anne Johnson: "Today some stranger sent me an email that said, "You are a nut case." Well, I must admit this never would have occurred to me. Everyone else is a nut case. I'm the sane one. I think."
Carl Mayer: "Whenever I start to feel like my life isn’t where I want it to be, “Cops” is there to put everything into perspective. Yeah, I haven’t made all the right moves over the last 34 years, but I’m not hiding from the police under a kiddie pool, either."
John Scalzi: "In retrospect, it’s a little weird to think that my entire future was falling into place as I obliviously tucked into the El Presidente chimichanga platter, but of course, that’s life for you — the most important days of your existence don’t always announce themselves in obvious ways."
Tart and Soul: "Indeed, love comes whether we have braced ourselves for it or not. But commitment offers a choice, tapping us on the shoulder to say, “sorry to bother you. Is this a good time?”
J.C. Hutchins: "I was Wanky McWankerton, in love with words I’d yet to write. I did this for nearly two years. If every sperm is sacred, God wasn’t irate with me — he was effing thermonuclear."
Beth Sekishiro: "You don't need to be conventional to love people. Maybe you've got to give up your whole life - but that's just when you'll find it."
Cormac McCarthy: "Creative work is often driven by pain. It may be that if you don't have something in the back of your head driving you nuts, you may not do anything. It's not a good arrangement. If I were God, I wouldn't have done it that way."
"The French researchers attribute
these findings to the fact that playing a musical instrument is a sign
that the man is intelligent, can learn, or is willing to learn, new
skills and has independent hobbies.
"A biological theory points to "a link between musical prowess and
testosterone," due to connections between the hormone and development of
the right brain. Sociological theories point to cultural associations
between musical talent and celebrity, intelligence, athleticism, and
Only the couples in Illinois are satisfying their needs more, where 60 percent report having high sex drives, the survey says.
Listen up dudes, because this is news you could use: California women
tend to be sexually charged, and by sexually charged we mean she's
boss. According to the study, California women are the most dominant in
bed. More than half of the 3,000 California women surveyed said they
like to take the lead in the sack.
"There is definitely a battle of the sexes when it comes to leadership in bed in the Golden State," the study concluded.
That might explain why Californians generally have some of the
healthiest sex lives in the nation, with 17.5 percent of couples saying
they get it on at least once a week. Almost half of those couples say
they are getting laid on Saturday night. In fact, more sex happens on a
Saturday night in California than anywhere else in the nation -- that
factoid ought to bolster tourism here."
"Critics are fond of saying that's there is no scientific evidence for
psi. They wave their fist in the air and shout, "Show me the evidence!"
Then they turn red and have a coughing fit. In less dramatic cases a
student might be genuinely curious and open-minded, but unsure where to
begin to find reliable evidence about psi. Google knows all and sees
all, but it doesn't know how to interpret or evaluate what it knows (at
least not yet).
In the past, my response to the "show me" challenge has been to give the titles of a few books to
read, point to the bibliographies in those books, and advise the person
to do their homework. I still think that this is the best approach for a
beginner tackling a complex topic. But given the growing expectation
that information on virtually any topic ought to be available online
within 60 seconds, traditional methods of scholarship are disappearing
So I've created a SHOW ME page
with downloadable articles on psi and psi-related topics, all published
in peer-reviewed journals. Most of these papers were published after
the year 2000. Most report experimental studies or meta-analyses of
classes of experiments."
"Look around us now. Boomers are freaking out over millenial values, just
as their Greatest Generation parents freaked out over theirs. I have
people working for me who've never even seen a dial telephone.
Change hurtles ever onward, and the only thing more corrosive than the
fact that the future isn't evenly distributed is the fact that there are
plenty of humans who don't want this future at all. It's all too much
change, it may be literally too much change to process for human
hardwiring. Many older humans are living future shock, right now.
It was ever thus.
But the difference now is that those people are alive.
A functional lifespan of, say 200 years. Working with people who owned
slaves. Trying to negotiate international trade treaties to deal with
global warming by reconciling voters who watched their brother's head
get spun into a fine red mist by a Boston infantryman or a Georgian
cavalryman. Getting funding for stem cell research from voters who grew
up believing not only were black people a genetically inferior race, but
other versions of white people were, too."
Oh, to live in the modern era where people come up with this. (NYT)
"In 230 diagram-heavy pages, Mr. Chwe argues that Austen isn’t merely fodder for game-theoretical analysis, but an unacknowledged founder
of the discipline itself: a kind of Empire-waisted version of the
mathematician and cold war thinker John von Neumann, ruthlessly breaking
down the stratagems of 18th-century social warfare.
Or, as Mr. Chwe puts it in the book, “Anyone interested in human
behavior should read Austen because her research program has results.”
First among her as yet unequaled concepts is “cluelessness,” which in
Mr. Chwe’s analysis isn’t just tween-friendly slang but an analytic
concept worthy of consideration alongside game-theoretic chestnuts like “zero-sum,” “risk dominance” and “prisoner’s dilemma.”
Most game theory, he noted, treats players as equally “rational” parties
sitting across a chessboard. But many situations, Mr. Chwe points out,
involve parties with unequal levels of strategic thinking. Sometimes a
party may simply lack ability. But sometimes a powerful party faced with
a weaker one may not realize it even needs to think strategically.
Take the scene in “Pride and Prejudice” where Lady Catherine de Bourgh
demands that Elizabeth Bennet promise not to marry Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth
refuses to promise, and Lady Catherine repeats this to Mr. Darcy as an
example of her insolence — not realizing that she is helping Elizabeth
indirectly signal to Mr. Darcy that she is still interested.
It’s a classic case of cluelessness, which is distinct from
garden-variety stupidity, Mr. Chwe argues. “Lady Catherine doesn’t even
think that Elizabeth” — her social inferior — “could be manipulating
her,” he said. (Ditto for Mr. Darcy: gender differences can also “cause
cluelessness,” he noted, though Austen was generally more tolerant of
the male variety.)"
There's some really interesting details in this. For example, where you live in a perfect health dystopia:
mile-high birthing centers. People who spend a significant part of their
lives well above sea level tend to live years longer than people who
live farther down. Scientists believe that this is due to the relative
scarcity of oxygen. It turns out that very, very mildly asphyxiating
people for significant portions of their lives can help fight heart
disease and even cancer. The body engages processes that allow it to
more effectively use oxygen.
oxygen deprivation is not a solution forever. As people get older, or
get respiratory illnesses, they need more oxygen on tap. Not to mention,
high altitudes often have hot summers and cold winters, which aren’t
good for the elderly. So in our perfect dystopia, people would be born
and live their youth in centers on the top of mountains, and gradually
move downhill to milder climates and richer oxygen sources as they aged.
probably be all the traveling they ever did. Air travel not only spreads
infections from one population to another, it doses people with
radiation. In flight, people's bodies play catch with more cosmic rays
than they do on the ground, where the Earth’s atmosphere shields them.
An occasional flight isn’t going to hurt you, but then there are the
pilot and crew to be considered. Some worker’s rights groups are pushing
to have flight crews classified as radiation workers, and given more
frequent check-ups to maintain their health.
more, every eleven years, the sun kicks solar radiation into high gear,
and flights dose people with even more radiation than usual. Forget
passports. Anyone leaving the country would need health permits and
quarantine periods. During flu season and for one year out of every
eleven, the country would simply be closed to air travel."
And marriage isn't guaranteed good:
"For one thing, studies generally claim that marriage is good for people’s life expectancy, when actually marriage is good for men’s
life expectancy. Women derive little benefit from marriage in terms of
life-extension, and sometimes aren't even included in the studies.
articles selling marriage also don’t make any mention of the fact that
most studies put divorced people in the same category as those who have
never been married. It turns out that nothing runs down your life
expectancy like divorce. The stress is incredibly hard on people, and it
shows in their actuarial tables. When being divorced is no longer
counted as never having been married, it’s shown that permanently single
and permanently married people have comparable life expectancy.
On those grounds, the government should ban marriage entirely. Why
expose people to the perilous risk of divorce and early death, for so
little gain? When a person’s familial needs are met with disappointment,
the consequences are disastrous."
And then there's retirement:
study showed that people who took retirement at fifty-five tended to die
much earlier than people who retired later. A study of workers at an
oil refinery turned up the same result — leaving work at fifty-five
critics pointed out that retirees and workers often get different health
care benefits, and that might skew the results of the study, others
pointed to something more basic: self-selection. If a person is
fifty-four and knows they’re in terrible health, they have no reason to
try to save up for a long life after retirement. They want to enjoy the
little time they have, so they take early retirement. Someone who’s in
good health has to save up because they have a long life to look forward
other studies show that early retirement, taken by people in good
health, tends to extend life. Overall, health and enjoyment of the job
make the difference. People who are stressed out and sick will benefit
from an early retirement. People who enjoy their work and are healthy
enough to do it can keep working."