" this moment...are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it...You can ask the universe for it...You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance at what you love. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world...Risk being seen in all your glory."

-- Jim Carrey, Commencement Speech, Maharishi University of Management (MUM; Iowa), May 2014
At this point in the essay, Orwell is considering whether Gandhi was a lovable man, in addition to being a good one. I have bolded a couple of fine instances of Orwell's acerbic humor.

"The autobiography leaves it uncertain whether Gandhi behaved in an inconsiderate way to his wife and children, but at any rate it makes clear that on three occasions he was willing to let his wife or a child die rather than administer the animal food prescribed by the doctor. It is true that the threatened death never actually occurred, and also that Gandhi — with, one gathers, a good deal of moral pressure in the opposite direction — always gave the patient the choice of staying alive at the price of committing a sin: still, if the decision had been solely his own, he would have forbidden the animal food, whatever the risks might be. There must, he says, be some limit to what we will do in order to remain alive, and the limit is well on this side of chicken broth. This attitude is perhaps a noble one, but, in the sense which — I think — most people would give to the word, it is inhuman. The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. There is an obvious retort to this, but one should be wary about making it."
26 September 2013 @ 09:07 am

From Garrison Keillor's amazing The Writer's Almanac (everyone should subscribe!):

In his 1948 acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in literature, T.S. Eliot said: "Partly through his influence on other poets, partly through translation ... partly through readers of his language who are not themselves poets, the poet can contribute toward understanding between peoples ... I stand before you, not on my own merits, but as a symbol, for a time, of the significance of poetry."

And he said: "The one thing you can do is to do nothing. Wait ... You will find that you survive humiliation and that's an experience of incalculable value."
18 July 2013 @ 01:32 pm

Now this is funny, especially if you are a member of Tribe Geek:

According to Singh, many people on Facebook list their school as Hogwarts, the wizardry school from the Harry Potter series. But their graph models give Hogwarts a low “schooliness” quotient, partly because those who list it as a school come from so many different places. “We want to preserve user expression. If someone really wants to say that they went to Hogwarts, who are we to say that they didn’t go to Hogwarts?” Singh says. “But that’s not the thing that we want to show on top when we search for schools that people have gone to.”

Wired "How Facebook Builds a Digital Signature for You (and Your World)" 7-8-13


One of my favorite lines in modern rock is in Midnight Oil's "Blue Sky Mine": "Who's gonna save me? Who's gonna save me?/I pray that sense and reason brings us in/(Who's gonna save me? Who's gonna save me?)" It's the irony of this prayer, the emptiness of it. If anything has a chance of saving us, I think it's sense and reason, and yet sense and reason often fail to save us, because they must be shared and put into action, and even then may be insufficient. In the context of the song's narrative, the Blue Sky Mine won't stop their polluting of the land and its workers. Only the rain can wash the streets of the mining town clean, and we're still not sure that the speaker's assertion that this means they've therefore "got nothing to fear" is anything more than forced cheer--a false projected wish-fulfillment.

Do those who reject faith in a conscious and intervening divinity then put that same faith in science? Not any more than they do in the above song. In God is Not Great, Hitchens defines the New Atheist stance in this way: "Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, open mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake." Well said.