Similar Yet Different Quotes

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Yet why must grammar be like a prison for the mind? Might not language be as a closet full of gowns? Of a generally similar cut, with a hole for the head and neck to pass, but filled with difference and a variety of trimmings so that we don't grow bored?
Danielle Dutton (Margaret the First)
We walked to dinner, ate together, and talked nearly the whole time. I was amazed that I had as much in common with her as I did. I’d been raised mostly in a completely different country, yet we were so similar.
J.M. Richards (Tall, Dark Streak of Lightning (Dark Lightning Trilogy, #1))
Similar to siblings, French Fries all stem from the same family, the potato family. Yet each and every one is different. A different shape, a different flavor, a different purpose, etc. Now, despite all these differences, each French fry in the batch will share a similar origin story. However, the outcome will be unique. The point is to have patience with your sibling French fry and realize that life imprints differently on each and every one of us. Some of us will be salty, some of us will be peppered, but in the end we are all just trying to catch up.
Hannah Hart
I thought about how Bree and I were so different... and yet so similar. She carried the guilt of not fighting when she thought she should have, and I carried the scar of what happened when you did. We had each reacted differently in a moment of terror, and yet we both still hurt. Maybe there was no right or wrong, no black or white, only a thousand shades of gray when it came to pain and what we each held ourselves responsible for.
Mia Sheridan (Archer's Voice)
Funny how different our lives were, and yet how similar our hearts felt.
Mia Sheridan (Kyland)
We have held the peculiar notion that a person or society that is a little different from us, whoever we are, is somehow strange or bizarre, to be distrusted or loathed. Think of the negative connotations of words like alien or outlandish. And yet the monuments and cultures of each of our civilizations merely represent different ways of being human. An extraterrestrial visitor, looking at the differences among human beings and their societies, would find those differences trivial compared to the similarities.
Carl Sagan (Cosmos)
Perception requires imagination because the data people encounter in their lives are never complete and always equivocal. For example, most people consider that the greatest evidence of an event one can obtain is to see it with their own eyes, and in a court of law little is held in more esteem than eyewitness testimony. Yet if you asked to display for a court a video of the same quality as the unprocessed data catptured on the retina of a human eye, the judge might wonder what you were tryig to put over. For one thing, the view will have a blind spot where the optic nerve attaches to the retina. Moreover, the only part of our field of vision with good resolution is a narrow area of about 1 degree of visual angle around the retina’s center, an area the width of our thumb as it looks when held at arm’s length. Outside that region, resolution drops off sharply. To compensate, we constantly move our eyes to bring the sharper region to bear on different portions of the scene we wish to observe. And so the pattern of raw data sent to the brain is a shaky, badly pixilated picture with a hole in it. Fortunately the brain processes the data, combining input from both eyes, filling in gaps on the assumption that the visual properties of neighboring locations are similar and interpolating. The result - at least until age, injury, disease, or an excess of mai tais takes its toll - is a happy human being suffering from the compelling illusion that his or her vision is sharp and clear. We also use our imagination and take shortcuts to fill gaps in patterns of nonvisual data. As with visual input, we draw conclusions and make judgments based on uncertain and incomplete information, and we conclude, when we are done analyzing the patterns, that out “picture” is clear and accurate. But is it?
Leonard Mlodinow (The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives)
Different places, different ages, completely different cultures, and yet they came up with similar weapons and tactics. Is there something about how we’re wired, something universally human?
Max Brooks (Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre)
..then he added, as if requiring a response to his own remark, 'Probably the greater the difference, the greater the similarity, and the greater the similarity, the greater the difference,' at that moment he did not yet know how right he was.
José Saramago (All the Names)
The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.
William Jones
It’s similar to the feeling of coming home after a long time away—everything is familiar, but different. Nothing has changed, yet everything seems new.
Abbie Emmons (100 Days of Sunlight)
Our difference are beautiful yet sometimes connection requires us to focus on our similarities, like the fact that we are all trying, all struggling, all wanting to be seen and to be loved. Perhaps if we start there, with this basic understanding of what it means to be alive, we will grow in our connection to one another and learn to love the beautiful difference that embody our improbable human reality.
Scott Stabile
This is much worse than losing a cat. You do not wish the cat dead, for example, after the first two days. You still love the cat and presumably the cat still loves you, or some variation of love that may in fact be dependence and even indifference. People should be informed, as adopting a cat and becoming married take about the same amount of time and money and yet have such drastically different results. Indeed, except for the similar price($28)and the average time spent together, all similarity between pet adoption and marriage ends nastily.
Suzanne Finnamore (Split: A Memoir of Divorce)
There is much in this vision that will remind you of your mystics; yet between them and us there is far more difference than similarity, in respect both of the matter and the manner of our thought. For while they are confident that the cosmos is perfect, we are sure only that it is very beautiful. While they pass to their conclusion without the aid of intellect, we have used that staff every step of the way. Thus, even when in respect of conclusions we agree with your mystics rather than your plodding intellectuals, in respect of method we applaud most your intellectuals; for they scorned to deceive themselves with comfortable fantasies.
Olaf Stapledon (Last and First Men)
If music serves to convey feelings through the interaction of physical gestures and sound, the musician needs his brain state to match the emotional state he is trying to express. Although the studies haven't been performed yet, I'm willing to bet that when B.B. King is playing the blues and when he is feeling the blues, the neural signatures are very similar. (Of course there will be differences, too, and part of the scientific hurdle will be subtracting out the processes involved in issuing motor commands and listening to music, versus just sitting on a chair, head in hands, and feeling down.) And as listeners, there is every reason to believe that some of our brain states will match those of the musicians we are listening to.
Daniel J. Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession)
wanted to be puzzled and charmed, to experience the endless, beguiling variety of a continent where you can board a train and an hour later be somewhere where the inhabitants speak a different language, eat different foods, work different hours, live lives that are at once so different and yet so oddly similar. I wanted to be a tourist. But
Bill Bryson (Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe)
We have held the peculiar notion that a person or society that is a little different from us, whoever we are, is somehow strange or bizarre, to be distrusted or loathed. Think of the negative connotations of words like alien or outlandish. And yet the monuments and cultures of each of our civilizations merely represent different ways of being human. An extraterrestrial visitor, looking at the differences among human beings and their societies, would find those differences trivial compared to the similarities. The Cosmos may be densely populated with intelligent beings. But the Darwinian lesson is clear: There will be no humans elsewhere. Only here. Only on this small planet. We are a rare as well as an endangered species. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
Carl Sagan (Cosmos)
The peoples of the Soviet Union, in many respects, impress me as people who can not yet afford to be honest. When they can be they will either blossom into a marvel or sink into decay. What gets me about the United States is that it pretends to be honest and therefore has so little room to move toward hope. I think that in America there are certain kinds of problems and in Russia there are certain kinds of problems, but basically, when you find people who start from a position where human beings are at the core, as opposed to a position where profit is at the core, the solutions can be very different. I wonder how similar human problems will be solved. But I am not always convinced that human beings are at the core here, either, although there is more lip service done to that idea than in the U.S.
Audre Lorde (Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches)
However, once technology enables us to re-engineer human minds, Homo sapiens will disappear, human history will come to an end and a completely new kind of process will begin, which people like you and me cannot comprehend. Many scholars try to predict how the world will look in the year 2100 or 2200. This is a waste of time. Any worthwhile prediction must take into account the ability to re-engineer human minds, and this is impossible. There are many wise answers to the question, ‘What would people with minds like ours do with biotechnology?’ Yet there are no good answers to the question, ‘What would beings with a different kind of mind do with biotechnology?’ All we can say is that people similar to us are likely to use biotechnology to re-engineer their own minds, and our present-day minds cannot grasp what might happen next.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow)
I had the feeling that, somewhere, there were boys and girls like Taki and Mitsuha. This story is a fantasy, of course, but I do think there are people somewhere who've had experiences similar to theirs, and who hold similar feelings inside. People who've lost precious loved ones or places, and who've privately decided to "struggle and fight," even so. People who believe that they're sure to find something someday, even though it hasn't happened yet, and who keep reaching out for it. I felt that those feelings needed to be related with an immediacy that differed from the glamour of the movie, and I think that's why I wrote this book.
Makoto Shinkai (your name.)
Mister God made everything, didn’t he?” There was no point in saying I didn’t really know. I said “Yes.” “Even the dirt and the stars and the animals and the people and the trees and everything, and the pollywogs?” The pollywogs were those little creatures we had seen under the microscope. I said, “Yes, he made everything.” She nodded her agreement. “Does Mister God love us truly?” “Sure thing,” I said. “Mister God loves everything.” “Oh,” she said. “well then, why does he let things get hurt and dead?” Her voice sounded as if she felt she had betrayed a sacred trust, but the question had been thought and it had to be spoken. “I don’t know,” I replied. “There’re a great many things about Mister God, we don’t know about?” “Well then,” she continued, “if we don’t know many things about Mister God, how do we know he loves us?” I could see this was going to be one of those times, but thank goodness she didn’t expect an answer to her question, for she hurried on: “Them pollywogs, I could love them till I bust, but they wouldn’t know, would they? I’m million times bigger than they are and Mister God is million times bigger than me, so how do I know what Mister God does?” She was silent for a little while. Later I thought that at this moment she was taking her last look at babyhood. Then she went on. “Fynn, Mister God doesn’t love us.” She hesitated. “He doesn’t really, you know, only people can love. I love Bossy, but Bossy don’t love me. I love the pollywogs, but they don’t love me. I love you Fynn, and you love me, don’t you?” I tightened my arm about her. “You love me because you are people. I love Mister God truly but he don’t love me.” It sounded to me like a death knell. “Damn and blast,” I thought. “Why does this have to happen to people? Now she’s lost everything.” But I was wrong. She had got both feet planted firmly on the next stepping stone. “No,” she went on, “no, he don’t love me, not like you do, its different, its millions of times bigger.” I must have made some movement or noise, for she levered herself upright and sat on her haunches and giggled. The she launched herself at me and undid my little pang of hurt, cut from the useless spark of jealousy with the delicate sureness of a surgeon. “Fynn, you can love better than any people that ever was, and so can I, cant I? But Mister God is different. You see, Fynn, people can only love outside, and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so its different. Mister God ain’t like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.” It seemed to me to reduce itself to the fact that we were like God because of the similarities, but God was not like us because of our differences. Her inner fires had refined her ideas, and like some alchemist she had turned lead into gold. Gone were all the human definitions of God, like Goodness, Mercy, Love, and Justice, for these were merely props to describe the indescribable. “You see, Fynn, Mister God is different because he can finish things and we cant. I cant finish loving you because I shall be dead millions of years before I can finish, but Mister God can finish loving you, and so its not the same kind of love, is it?
Fynn (Mister God, This is Anna)
There were no state regulations about hairstyles or clothes. It was what everyone else was wearing that determined the rules of the day. And because the range was so narrow, people were always looking out for the tiniest variations. It was a real test of ingenuity to look different and attractive, and yet similar enough to everyone else so that nobody with an accusing finger could pinpoint what exactly was heretical.
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
THE POWER TO CHOOSE Choice implies consciousness — a high degree of consciousness. Without it, you have no choice. Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present. Until you reach that point, you are unconscious, spiritually speaking. This means that you are compelled to think, feel, and act in certain ways according to the conditioning of your mind. Nobody chooses dysfunction, conflict, pain. Nobody chooses insanity. They happen because there is not enough presence in you to dissolve the past, not enough light to dispel the darkness. You are not fully here. You have not quite woken up yet. In the meantime, the conditioned mind is running your life. Similarly, if you are one of the many people who have an issue with their parents, if you still harbor resentment about something they did or did not do, then you still believe that they had a choice — that they could have acted differently. It always looks as if people had a choice, but that is an illusion. As long as your mind with its conditioned patterns runs your life, as long as you are your mind, what choice do you have? None. You are not even there. The mind-identified state is severely dysfunctional. It is a form of insanity. Almost everyone is suffering from this illness in varying degrees. The moment you realize this, there can be no more resentment. How can you resent someone's illness? The only appropriate response is compassion. If you are run by your mind, although you have no choice you will still suffer the consequences of your unconsciousness, and you will create further suffering. You will bear the burden of fear, conflict, problems, and pain. The suffering thus created will eventually force you out of your unconscious state.
Eckhart Tolle (Practicing the Power of Now)
Semanticist Wendell Johnson pointed out that we create many problems for ourselves by using static language to express or capture a reality that is ever changing: “Our language is an imperfect instrument created by ancient and ignorant men. It is an animistic language that invites us to talk about stability and constants, about similarities and normal and kinds, about magical transformations, quick cures, simple problems, and final solutions. Yet the world we try to symbolize with this language is a world of process, change, differences, dimensions, functions, relationships, growths, interactions, developing, learning, coping, complexity. And the mismatch of our ever-changing world and our relatively static language forms is part of our problem.
Marshall B. Rosenberg (Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life)
That's the real distinction between people: not between those who have secrets and those who don't, but between those who want to know everything and those who don't. This search is a sign of love, I maintain. It's similar with books. Not quite the same, of course (it never is); but similar. If you quite enjoy a writer's work, if you turn the page approvingly yet don't mind being interrupted, then you tend to like that author unthinkingly. Good chap, you assume. Sound fellow. They say he strangled an entire pack of Wolf Cubs and fed their bodies to a school of carp? Oh no, I'm sure he didn't; sound fellow, good chap. But if you love a writer, if you depend upon the drip-feed of his intelligence, if you want to pursue him and find him -- despite edicts to the contrary -- then it's impossible to know too much. You seek the vice as well. A pack of Wolf Cubs, eh? Was that twenty-seven or twenty-eight? And did he have their little scarves sewn up into a patchwork quilt? And is it true that as he ascended the scaffold he quoted from the Book of Jonah? And that he bequeathed his carp pond to the local Boy Scouts? But here's the difference. With a lover, a wife, when you find the worst -- be it infidelity or lack of love, madness or the suicidal spark -- you are almost relieved. Life is as I thought it was; shall we now celebrate this disappointment? With a writer you love, the instinct is to defend. This is what I meant earlier: perhaps love for a writer is the purest, the steadiest form of love. And so your defense comes the more easily. The fact of the matter is, carp are an endangered species, and everyone knows that the only diet they will accept if the winter has been especially harsh and the spring turns wet before St Oursin's Day is that of young minced Wolf Cub. Of course he knew he would hang for the offense, but he also knew that humanity is not an endangered species, and reckoned therefore that twenty-seven (did you say twenty-eight?) Wolf Cubs plus one middle-ranking author (he was always ridiculously modest about his talents) were a trivial price to pay for the survival of an entire breed of fish. Take the long view: did we need so many Wolf Cubs? They would only have grown up and become Boy Scouts. And if you're still so mired in sentimentality, look at it this way: the admission fees so far received from visitors to the carp pond have already enabled the Boy Scouts to build and maintain several church halls in the area.
Julian Barnes (Flaubert's Parrot)
The thing with politicians is that though they spit differently yet they shit similarly.
Fakeer Ishavardas
We intuitively believe social and physical pain are radically different kinds of experiences, yet the way our brains treat them suggests that they are more similar than we imagine.
Matthew D. Lieberman (Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect)
I put on slight music I could ignore and started to write. The type of this music I most favored they no longer made. Turns out they asked around one day and I was the only one enjoying it so they decided to just stop making it. Most of the bands that were making the music when this decision was made simply disappeared and got real jobs, the ones that survived made different music that appealed to more people. The result was that when I listened to that music it felt a bit like travelling to the past or visiting ghosts, and this despite the undeniable fact that a very healthy portion of the music I listened to otherwise was created a far longer time ago, by people long-departed, yet produced no similar feelings.
Sergio de la Pava (A Naked Singularity)
We talk so often about the differences between people, yet here in our country we find that, in spite of circumstances which create great differences, we have certain great similarities. Rich or poor, we want our children to be well educated. Rich or poor, we want them to do better than we have done. Rich or poor, we want the respect of our neighbors and perhaps their affection. Love and death come to us all, no matter what the circumstances of our lives. In the big things that matter, the similarities are far greater than the differences. If this is true at home it is true anywhere in the world. People want the same things. They strive for the same things. They suffer from the same things. The differences are important but often superficial. The basic things are similar.
Eleanor Roosevelt (You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life)
Books and music are so similar, don't you think? They bring wisdom, courage, and healing to our lives. Created by human beings as tools that bring comfort and inspiration to ourselves. And yet, there is a major difference between the two.
Sōsuke Natsukawa (The Cat Who Saved Books)
Like all men endowed with great mental mobility, I have an irrevocable, organic love of settledness. I abhor new ways of life and unfamiliar places. 122. The idea of travelling nauseates me. I’ve already seen what I’ve never seen. I’ve already seen what I have yet to see. The tedium of the forever new, the tedium of discovering – behind the specious differences we see in things and ideas – the unrelenting sameness of everything, the absolute similarity of a mosque and a temple and a church, the exact equivalence of a cabin and a castle, the same structural body for a king in robes and for a naked savage, the eternal concordance of life with itself, the stagnation of everything that lives just because it moves* … Landscapes
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
The realization that my grandmother, mother and I are one in the same awakens something mysterious inside of me. The person I am, someone I believe has more opportunities than my mom and grandmother in matters of work, relationships and love is true, yet I am still acting out old belief patterns. I am no better or smarter than either one of them. Our basic needs and emotions in life are the similar. Our experiences differ, but we are one and the same. This conscious awakening is surreal.
Sadiqua Hamdan (Happy Am I. Holy Am I. Healthy Am I.)
Thinking back now, I can see we were just at that age when we knew a few things about ourselves—about who we were, how we were different from our guardians, from the people outside—but hadn’t yet understood what any of it meant. I’m sure somewhere in your childhood, you too had an experience like ours that day; similar if not in the actual details, then inside, in the feelings. Because it doesn’t really matter how well your guardians try to prepare you: all the talksvideos, discussions, warnings, none of that can really bring it home. Not when you’re eight years old, and you’re all together in a place like Hailsham; when you’ve got guardians like the ones we had; when the gardeners and the delivery men joke and laugh with you and call you “sweetheart.”    All the same, some of it must go in somewhere. It must go in, because by the time a moment like that comes along, there’s a part of you that’s been waiting. Maybe from as early as when you’re five or six, there’s been a whisper going at the back of your head, saying: “One day, maybe not so long from now, you’ll get to know how it feels.” So you’re waiting, even if you don’t quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realise that you really are different to them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you—of how you were brought into this world and why—and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it’s a cold moment. It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.
Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go)
The assumption that femininity is always structured by and performed for a male gaze fails to take seriously queer feminine desire. The radical feminist critiques of femininity also disregarded the fact that not all who are (seen as) feminine are women. Crucially, what is viewed as appropriately feminine is not only defined in relation to maleness or masculinity, but through numerous intersections of power including race, sexuality, ability, and social class. In other words, white, heterosexual, binary gender-conforming, able-bodied, and upper- or middle-class femininity is privileged in relation to other varieties. Any social system may contain multiple femininities that differ in status, and which relate to each other as well as to masculinity. As highlighted by “effeminate” gay men, trans women, femmes, drag queens, and “bad girls,” it is possible to be perceived as excessively, insufficiently, or wrongly feminine without for that sake being seen as masculine. Finally, the view of femininity as a restrictive yet disposable mask presupposes that emancipation entails departure into neutral (or masculine) modes of being. This is a tenuous assumption, as the construction of selfhood is entangled with gender, and conceptions of androgyny and gender neutrality similarly hinge on culturally specific ideas of masculinity and femininity.
Manon Hedenborg White (Double Toil and Gender Trouble? Performativity and Femininity in the Cauldron of Esotericism Research)
Our language is an imperfect instrument created by ancient and ignorant men. It is an animistic language that invites us to talk about stability and constants, about similarities and normal and kinds, about magical transformations, quick cures, simple problems, and final solutions. Yet the world we try to symbolize with this language is a world of process, change, differences, dimensions, functions, relationships, growths, interactions, developing, learning, coping, complexity. And the mismatch of our ever-changing world and our relatively static language forms is part of our problem.
Semanticist Wendell Johnson
The totalitarian movements aim at and succeed in organizing masses—not classes, like the old interest parties of the Continental nation-states; citizens with opinions about, and interests in, the handling of public affairs, like the parties of Anglo-Saxon countries. While all political groups depend upon proportionate strength, the totalitarian movements depend on the sheer force of numbers to such an extent that totalitarian regimes seem impossible, even under otherwise favorable circumstances, in countries with relatively small populations. After the first World War, a deeply antidemocratic, prodictatorial wave of semitotalitarian and totalitarian movements swept Europe; Fascist movements spread from Italy to nearly all Central and Eastern European countries (the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was one of the notable exceptions); yet even Mussolini, who was so fond of the term "totalitarian state," did not attempt to establish a full-fledged totalitarian regime and contented himself with dictatorship and one-party rule. Similar nontotalitarian dictatorships sprang up in prewar Rumania, Poland, the Baltic states, Hungary, Portugal and Franco Spain. The Nazis, who had an unfailing instinct for such differences, used to comment contemptuously on the shortcomings of their Fascist allies while their genuine admiration for the Bolshevik regime in Russia (and the Communist Party in Germany) was matched and checked only by their contempt for Eastern European races.
Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism)
We were the same, yet so different. I wanted to soak up our similarities while floating in a river of our differences, the currents ebbing and flowing, never in agreement, but creating something beautiful, something turbulent. We kissed for several moments of eternity, being rocked by the current we had made.
Moryah DeMott
People think Judaism and Christianity are radically different from one another, and that the difference is straightforward. But on Ascension Day, I am struck by the deep similarity that lies just underneath. Both Jews and Christians live in a world that is not yet redeemed, and both us await ultimate redemption. Some of us wait for a messiah to come once and forever; others of us wait for Him to come back. But we are both stuck living in a world where redemption is not complete, where we have redemptive work to do, where we cannot always see God as clearly as we would like, because He is up in Heaven. We are both waiting.
Lauren F. Winner (Girl Meets God)
Among those in the United States arrested for criminal activity, the vast majority, 69 percent, is white. Yet white people constitute only about 28 percent of the people who appear on crime reports on TV news, while Black people are dramatically overrepresented. Yes, violent crime rates are higher in disinvested neighborhoods of color than in well-resourced white enclaves, but once you control for poverty, the difference disappears. Crime victimization is as prevalent in poor white communities as poor Black communities; it’s similar in rural poor areas and urban poor ones. In addition, less policing in middle-income and wealthy neighborhoods means that their violent crimes often go unreported.
Heather McGhee (The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together)
Yet the notion of Christ’s sacrificial death was similar to the ideal of the bodhisattva, which was developing at this time in India. Like the bodhisattva, Christ had, in effect, become a mediator between humanity and the Absolute, the difference being that Christ was the only mediator and the salvation he effected was not an unrealized aspiration for the future, like that of the bodhisattva, but a fait accompli.
Karen Armstrong (A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam)
And I am overwhelmed now by the awfulness of over-simplification. For now I realize that not only have I been guilty of it through this long and burning day but also through most of my yet young life and it is only now that I am doubly its victim that I begin to vaguely understand. For I had somehow thought that ‘going away’ was but a physical thing. And that it had only to do with movement and with labels like the silly ‘Vancouver’ that I had glibly rolled from off my tongue; or with the crossing of bodies of water or with the boundaries of borders. And because my father told me I was ‘free’ I had foolishly felt that it was really so. Just like that. And I realize now that the older people of my past are more complicated than perhaps I had ever thought. And that there are distinctions between my sentimental, romantic grandfather and his love for coal, and my stern and practical grandmother her hatred of it; and my quietly strong but passive mother and the souring extremes of my father’s passionate violence and the quiet power of his love. They are all so different. Perhaps it is possible I think now to be both and yet to see only one. For the man in whose glassed-in car I now sit sees only similarity. For him the people of this multi-scarred little town are reduced to but a few phrases and the act of sexual intercourse. They are only so many identical goldfish leading identical, incomprehensible lives within the glass prison of their bowl. And the people on the street view me from behind my own glass in much the same way and it is the way that I have looked at others in their ‘foreign licence’ cars and it is the kind of judgment that I myself have made. And yet it seems that neither these people nor this man are in any way unkind and not to understand does not necessarily mean that one is cruel. But one should at least be honest. And perhaps I have tried too hard to be someone else without realizing at first what I presently am. I do not know. I am not sure. But I do know that I cannot follow this man into a house that is so much like the one I have left this morning and go down into the sexual embrace of a woman who might well be my mother. And I do not know what she, my mother, may be like in the years to come when she is deprived of the lighting movement of my father’s body and the hammered pounding of his heart. For I do not know when he may die. And I do not know in what darkness she may cry out his name nor to whom. I do not know very much of anything, it seems, except that I have been wrong and dishonest with others and myself. And perhaps this man has left footprints on a soul I did not even know that I possessed.
Alistair MacLeod (The Lost Salt Gift of Blood)
At first glance, one might assume that a peacekeeping soldier from Pakistan, a diplomat from the United States, and a human rights advocate from Senegal would approach their jobs quite differently. Yet, while in Congo for a previous research project, I observed striking similarities in the ways that international interveners understand the situations they face and in the strategies they adopt, despite their otherwise extremely different national, professional, social, and economic backgrounds.
Severine Autesserre (Peaceland (Problems of International Politics))
Isn't she doing this too? Connecting and disconnecting. Facing grief then turning from it. One minute she is caught up in minutiae. Will her feet get sore standing in heels at the church? Have they made enough food? Will the kitten get scared by dozens of strangers in the house? Should she shut him in a room upstairs? The next moment she is weeping uncontrollably, taken over by pain so profound she can barely move. Then there was the salad bowl incident; her own fury scared her. But maybe these are different ways of dealing with events for all of them. Molly and Luke are infantile echos of her, their emotions paired down, their reactions simpler but similar. For if they have difficulty taking in what has happened, then so too does she. Why is she dressing up, for instance? Why can't she wear clothes to reflect the fact that she is at her lowest end? A tracksuit, a jumper full of holes, dirty jeans? Why can't she leave her hair a mess, her face unmade up? The crazed and grieving Karen doesn't care about her appearance. Yet she must go through with this charade, polish herself and her children to perfection. She, in particular, must hold it together. Oh, she can cry, yes, that's allowed. People expect that. They will sympathize. But what about screaming, howling, and hurling plates like she did yesterday? She imagines the shocked faces as she shouts and swears and smashes everything. But she is so angry, surely others must feel the same. Maybe a plate throwing ceremony would be a more fitting ritual than church, then everyone could have a go...smashing crockery up against the back garden wall.
Sarah Rayner (One Moment, One Morning)
Life without challenges is a boring life, isn’t it? Unless, of course, if you love gossiping and watching TV most of the time. Challenges are directly related to opportunities and growth. As they say, “A good sailor is the one who has sailed through the rough sea”. Similarly, a wise man is the one who has overcome different challenges in life and yet ready to face another one. If one wants to live a purposeful life, they must get comfortable with the unevenness of life. A man becomes wise with the variation of his experiences, not by his age.
Sanjeev Himachali
Campaign to destigmatize so-called "mental illness" often take a wrong turning here. They try to demonstrate how suffers of some condition have made amazing contributions to the science or the arts. Trying to destigmatize the diagnosis of autism, for example, we read how Einstein and Newton would have received that diagnosis today, and yet made fabulous discoveries in the field of physics. Even if they are acknowledged to have been "different", their worth is still reckoned in terms of how their work has impacted on the world of others. However well-intentioned, such perspectives are hardly judicious, as they make an implicit equation between value and social utility. Taking this step is dangerous, as the moment that human life is defined in terms of utility, the door to stigmatization and segregation is opened. If someone was found to be not useful, what value, then, would their life have? This was in fact exactly the argument of the early-twentieth-century eugenicists who complained for the extermination of the mentally ill. Although no one would admit such aspirations today, we cannot ignore the resurfacing in recent years of a remarkably similar discourse, with its emphasis on social utility, hereditary and genetic vulnerability.
Darian Leader (What Is Madness?)
The four examples above - the term villain, the Indian caste system, national image, and a historical period - differ in their parameters of analysis. Yet, they all suffered conscious and systematic degradation of meaning and image in some aspects. Villain is a word that has suffered etymological deterioration. The Vaishyas and the Shudras in the Indian caste system systematically lost their equal stature to the Brahman and the Kshatriya classes. Similarly, while some countries such as Iraq and North Korea were subject to deliberate attempts of defamation by developed nations, the bright sides of the Dark Ages in Europe remain unacknowledged.
Nishant Uppal (Duryodhanization)
For Lewis, people are too easily taken in by the latest cultural and intellectual fashions. Wanting to be “up to date” in their thinking, they uncritically accept the latest ideas they read about in the media. Reading older books, Lewis argues, helps us to realise that “basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods.” We need to remember that the ideas we tend to regard as hopelessly old fashioned and out of date were once seen as cutting edge. What was once new and brilliant becomes old and stale. Perhaps Lewis seems a little too scathing when he declares that “much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion.”[90] Yet his point is fair: much recent thought is fleeting, lacking the staying power to excite and inform later generations. So is Lewis saying that only old ideas are any good, and that new ideas are invariably wrong? No.[91] He is asking us to be critical. New ideas need to be looked at carefully. They may be good; they may be bad. But ideas are not automatically good because they are new. Similarly, many—but not all—old ideas have permanent value. They have proved themselves through the centuries, and will continue to be important in the future. We need to figure out which ideas and values are of lasting importance, and hold fast to them.
Alister E. McGrath (If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life)
In dreamless sleep, the Upanishads say, a king is not a king nor a pauper poor; no one is old or young, male or female, educated or ignorant. When consciousness returns to the mind, however, the thinking process starts up again, and personality returns to the body. According to this analysis, the ego dies every night. Every morning we pick up our desires where we left off: the same person, yet a little different too. The Upanishads describe dying as a very similar process. Consciousness is withdrawn from the body into the senses, from the senses into the mind, and finally consolidated in the ego; when the body is finally wrenched away, the ego remains, a potent package of desires and karma.
Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (The Bhagavad Gita)
Duck calls remind me of how God uses people to make Himself known. Like duck calls, people are all a bit different and are dependent on their maker and designer for their individualism in life. Duck calls and their unique individual sounds breathe life into decoys that are essentially dead. Likewise, God uses different people with unique perspectives to illustrate His existence and shout out the message of eternal life through Jesus Christ. The audible sound that each mallard hen makes is virtually the same; however, the tone and cadence are unique. Similarly, the Gospel message is the same yesterday, today, and forever, yet the perspective and life experience are different and unique for each person relaying it.
Jase Robertson (Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl)
In a sky swarming with uncountable stars, clouds endlessly flowing, and planets wandering, always and forever there has been just one moon and one sun. To our ancestors, these two mysterious bodies reflected the female and the male essences. From Iceland to Tierra del Fuego, people attributed the Sun’s constancy and power to his masculinity; the Moon’s changeability, unspeakable beauty, and monthly cycles were signs of her femininity. To human eyes turned toward the sky 100,000 years ago, they appeared identical in size, as they do to our eyes today. In a total solar eclipse, the disc of the moon fits so precisely over that of the sun that the naked eye can see solar flares leaping into space from behind. But while they appear precisely the same size to terrestrial observers, scientists long ago determined that the true diameter of the sun is about four hundred times that of the moon. Yet incredibly, the sun’s distance from Earth is roughly four hundred times that of the moon’s, thus bringing them into unlikely balance when viewed from the only planet with anyone around to notice.22 Some will say, “Interesting coincidence.” Others will wonder whether there isn’t an extraordinary message contained in this celestial convergence of difference and similarity, intimacy and distance, rhythmic constancy and cyclical change. Like our distant ancestors, we watch the eternal dance of our sun and our moon, looking for clues to the nature of man and woman, masculine and feminine here at home.
Christopher Ryan (Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships)
There’s a story in Luke, where an apparently “good,” religious, and rich young man approaches Jesus, wondering what he must do to inherit eternal life. Ultimately, Jesus places a demand on him—sell everything and give to the poor—and we’re told the young man heard that and walked away, sad. I think for many of us who live in this society that is so riven with anger, even addicted to it, Jesus is giving us a similar demand: “Give up your anger. Because of what I’ve done for you, give it up, and forgive.” Sadly, our response is, “That’s not fair.” And we walk away too. One thing that strikes me about the rich young man story: Jesus doesn’t leave him with room to wriggle. The man will either do what Jesus says, or walk away. There’s no splitting the difference, paying lip service, or trying to split theological hairs. But we love to do this with forgiveness. Jesus tells His followers to forgive as we have been forgiven, yet we find reasons why this doesn’t quite apply in our situation. (Maybe He didn’t anticipate what I was going to have to endure . . . Does He realize what He’s asking?) But we don’t walk away sad, like the rich young man. Instead, we tell ourselves that we can live a Christian lifestyle, and integrate our own decisions about whom to forgive, and when. This is especially dangerous, because when we do that, we’re walking away. But we’re not aware we’ve walked away at all. We’ve just de-radicalized the very nature of following Jesus, because we think we know a better way.
Brant Hansen (Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better)
THREE COMMUNICATION LESSONS FROM THE MOST FASCINATING BRANDS       1.   Don’t focus on how you are similar to others, but how you are different. Leading brands stand out by sharpening their points of difference. The more clearly and distinctly a brand can pinpoint its differences, the more valuable it becomes. If a brand can carve out a very clear spot in people’s minds, the product or service ceases to be a commodity. As we’ll see in Part II, different personality Advantages can be more valuable than similar ones. 2.   Your differences can be very small and simple. The reality is, most products are virtually indistinguishable from their competitors. Yet a leading brand can build a strong competitive edge around very minor differences. Similarly, you don’t need to be dramatically different than everyone else—your difference can be minute, as long as it is clearly defined. The more competitive the market, the more crucial this becomes. 3.   Once you “own” a difference, you can charge more money. People pay more for products and people who add distinct value in some way. And just as customers pay more for fascinating brands, employers pay higher salaries for employees who stand out with a specific benefit. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, your clients and customers will have a higher perceived value of your time and services if they can clearly understand why you are different than your competitors. The more crowded the environment, the more crucial these lessons become.
Sally Hogshead (How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination)
Matt’s housekeeper let him in with a grimace. “I’m harmless today,” Tate assured the woman as she led the way to where Matt Holden was standing just outside the study door. “Right. You and two odd species of cobra,” Matt murmured sarcastically, glaring at his son from a tanned face. “What do you want, a bruise to match the other one?” Tate held up both hands. “Don’t start,” he said. Matt moved out of the way with reluctance and closed the study door behind them. “Your mother’s gone shopping,” he said. “Good. I don’t want to talk to her just yet.” Matt’s eyebrows levered up. “Oh?” Tate dropped into the wing chair across from the senator’s bulky armchair. “I need some advice.” Matt felt his forehead. “I didn’t think a single malt whiskey was enough to make me hallucinate,” he said to himself. Tate glowered at him. “You’re not one of my favorite people, but you know Cecily a little better than I seem to lately.” “Cecily loves you,” Matt said shortly, dropping into his chair. “That’s not the problem,” Tate said. He leaned forward, his hands clasped loosely between his splayed knees. “Although I seem to have done everything in my power to make her stop.” The older man didn’t speak for a minute or two. “Love doesn’t die that easily,” he said. “Your mother and I are a case in point. We hadn’t seen each other for thirty-six years, but the instant we met again, the years fell away. We were young again, in love again.” “I can’t wait thirty-six years,” Tate stated. He stared at his hands, then he drew in a long breath. “Cecily’s pregnant.” The other man was quiet for so long that Tate lifted his eyes, only to be met with barely contained rage in the older man’s face. “Is it yours?” Matt asked curtly. Tate glowered at him. “What kind of woman do you think Cecily is? Of course it’s mine!” Matt chuckled. He leaned back in the easy chair and indulged the need to look at his son, to find all the differences and all the similarities in that younger version of his face. It pleased him to find so many familiar things. “We look alike,” Tate said, reading the intent scrutiny he was getting. “Funny that I never noticed that before.” Matt smiled. “We didn’t get along very well.” “Both too stubborn and inflexible,” Tate pointed out. “And arrogant.” Tate chuckled dryly. “Maybe.
Diana Palmer (Paper Rose (Hutton & Co. #2))
When I say that someone is being treated like a criminal, I mean that person is being treated like he broke the law or otherwise did something wrong. (When I want to say someone is being treated as less than human, I say that person is being treated like an animal, not a criminal.) Her chattel slavery and Jim Crow analogies are similarly tortured and yet another effort to explain away stark racial differences in criminality. But unlike prisons, those institutions punished people for being black, not for misbehaving. (A slave who never broke the law remained a slave.) Yet Alexander insists that we blame police and prosecutors and drug laws and societal failures—anything except individual behavior—and even urges the reader to reject the notion of black free will.
Jason L. Riley (Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed)
In this regard, Daisy reflected, her marriage to Matthew would not be unlike Lillian's with Westcliff. As two strong-willed people with very different sensibilities, Lillian and Westcliff often argued and negotiated... and yet this didn't seem to weaken their marriage. Quite the opposite, in fact- their union seemed all the better for it. She considered her friends' marriages... Annabelle and Mr. Hunt as a harmony of similar dispositions... Evie and Lord St. Vincent with their opposite natures, as necessary to each other's existence as day and night. It was impossible to say that any of these pairings was superior to the others. Perhaps, in spite of all she had heard about the ideal of a perfect marriage, there was no such thing. Perhaps every marriage was a unique creation.
Lisa Kleypas (Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers, #4))
The principal reason that districts within states often differ markedly in per-pupil expenditures is that school funding is almost always tied to property taxes, which are in turn a direct function of local wealth. Having school funding depend on local wealth creates a situation in which poor districts must tax themselves far more heavily than wealthy ones, yet still may not be able to generate adequate income. For example, Baltimore City is one of the poorest jurisdictions in Maryland, and the Baltimore City Public Schools have the lowest per-pupil instructional expenses of any of Maryland's 24 districts. Yet Baltimore's property tax rate is twice that of the next highest jurisdiction.(FN2) Before the funding equity decision in New Jersey, the impoverished East Orange district had one of the highest tax rates in the state, but spent only $3,000 per pupil, one of the lowest per-pupil expenditures in the state.(FN3) A similar story could be told in almost any state in the U.S.(FN4) Funding formulas work systematically against children who happen to be located in high-poverty districts, but also reflect idiosyncratic local circumstances. For example, a factory closing can bankrupt a small school district. What sense does it make for children's education to suffer based on local accidents of geography or economics? To my knowledge, the U.S. is the only nation to fund elementary and secondary education based on local wealth. Other developed countries either equalize funding or provide extra funding for individuals or groups felt to need it. In the Netherlands, for example, national funding is provided to all schools based on the number of pupils enrolled, but for every guilder allocated to a middle-class Dutch child, 1.25 guilders are allocated for a lower-class child and 1.9 guilders for a minority child, exactly the opposite of the situation in the U.S. where lower-class and minority children typically receive less than middle-class white children.(FN5) Regional differences in per-pupil costs may exist in other countries, but the situation in which underfunded urban or rural districts exist in close proximity to wealthy suburban districts is probably uniquely American. Of course, even equality in per-pupil costs in no way ensures equality in educational services. Not only do poor districts typically have fewer funds, they also have greater needs.
Robert E. Slavin
The Hawaiian shaman system is similar to other systems of thought which deal with the mind and its effect on the Universe, but some of the differences are considerable. Many centuries ago Hawaiian spiritual masters came to the same conclusions reached by others in various times and places: that there is an aspect of consciousness which operates covertly and indirectly (the subconscious); that there is an aspect of consciousness which operates openly and directly (the conscious mind); and that there is an aspect of consciousness which transcends yet includes them both (the superconscious). The differences in Hawaiian thought have to do with their nature, their functions, and their relationships. In the title of this chapter I have called them heart, mind, and spirit, and understanding what they are and how they work from the Hawaiian point of view can be one of the most practical things you will ever learn.
Serge Kahili King (Urban Shaman)
The most perfect and satisfactory knowledge is that of perception but this is limited to the absolutely particular, to the individual. The comprehension of the many and the various into *one* representation is possible only through the *concept*, in other words, by omitting the differences; consequently, the concept is a very imperfect way of representing things. The particular, of course, can also be apprehended immediately as a universal, namely when it is raised to the (Platonic) *Idea*; but in this process, which I have analysed in the third book, the intellect passes beyond the limits of individuality and therefore of time; moreover, this is only an exception. These inner and essential imperfections of the intellect are further increased by a disturbance to some extent external to it but yet inevitable, namely, the influence that the *will* exerts on all its operations, as soon as that will is in any way concerned in their result. Every passion, in fact every inclination or disinclination, tinges the objects of knowledge with its colour. Most common of occurrence is the falsification of knowledge brought about by desire and hope, since they show us the scarcely possible in dazzling colours as probable and well-nigh certain, and render us almost incapable of comprehending what is opposed to it. Fear acts in a similar way; every preconceived opinion, every partiality, and, as I have said, every interest, every emotion, and every predilection of the will act in an analogous manner. Finally, to all these imperfections of the intellect we must also add the fact that it grows old with the brain; in other words, like all physiological functions, it loses its energy in later years; in this way all its imperfections are then greatly increased.” —from_The World as Will and Representation_. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne in two volumes: volume II, pp. 139-141
Arthur Schopenhauer
Then there were times when Vassy compulsively yet touchingly would get very drunk and break down in great heaving sobs when we got home. No one could possibly understand what it meant to be a 'fucking Russian in America,' he sobbed. 'My fucking country, my beloved Russia,' he would cry. 'No one understands my country. You judge us, you condemn us, you believe we have swords in our teeth. You're so conditioned, so brainwashed, even more than we are. At least Russians know about America, not only bad things. And you here imagine Russia as a concentration camp! You don't like Commies! That's your problem. Now I hear Americans think 'Russian' is the same as evil, stupidity, idleness. That's dangerous! What about our culture, our music, our ingenuity, our patience, endurance--these are qualities, not drawbacks! Yes, we are fucking different, why not? Why should we be the same? Instead of trying to change each other, why don't we simply tolerate our differences and enjoy similarities?
Shirley MacLaine (Dancing in the Light)
This development had dramatic philosophical consequences. As in the case of the non-Euclidean geometries in the nineteenth century, there wasn't just one definitive set theory, but rather at least four! One could make different assumptions about infinite sets and end up with mutually exclusive set theories. For instance, once could assume that both the axiom of choice and the continuum hypothesis hold true and obtain one version, or that both do not hold, and obtain an entirely different theory. Similarly, assuming the validity of one of the two axioms and the negation of the other would have led to yet two other set theories. This was the non-Euclidean crisis revisited, only worse. The fundamental role of set theory as the potential basis for the whole of mathematics made the problem for the Platonists much more acute. If indeed one could formulate many set theories simply by choosing a different collection of axioms, didn't this argue for mathematics being nothing but a human invention? The formalists' victory looked virtually assured.
Mario Livio (Is God a Mathematician?)
...imagine that you hold in one hand an oddly shaped stone. You keep this hand closed into a fist, but still you can feel the stone’s curvature and the pointed edges, the roughness—of course, you know the relative size and weight and might even have a mental image of the color of this stone, even if you have not yet laid eyes upon it. Imagine that stone in your hand. Imagine what it is like to know everything about the way it feels, but nothing of how it looks. Hold that in mind for a moment. Now, imagine that there is a person standing next to you who tells you that she also holds a stone in her hand. You look down and see the clenched fist and she sees yours and you confess the same. Neither of you, it seems, has yet opened the hand and seen the stone. Still, you can only trust each other’s proclamations. Standing together with your stones in hand, the two of you theorize about whether or not your respective stones are similar to one another. You discuss mundane details about your stones (not the special ones—you hesitate to make mention of the sharp point in the northern hemisphere or the flat area on the bottom). Your neighbor finally notes similarities between her stone and yours and you nod with relief and acknowledge that your stones indeed share reasonable commonalities. Over the course of your discussion, you and your neighbor finally conclude, without bothering to open your hands, that the stones you hold must indeed be quite similar. Are they? It is only suitable to say that they are. At the same time, and in spite of your desire not to offend, there is no doubt in your mind that the stone you hold bespeaks a greater prominence than that of your neighbor. You are not sure how you know this to be true, but it must be so! And I do not mean that this stone simply holds a greater subjective prominence. It has something of the universal, for it is, indeed, an auspicious stone! Silently, you hypothesize in what ways it must be special. It is possibly different in shape, color, weight, size and texture from the other, but you cannot confirm this. Perhaps, it is special by substance? Still, you are unsure. The very fact of your uncertainty begins to bother you and unleashes within you a deep insecurity. What if you are wrong and your stone is actually inferior to the other…or inferior even to some third stone not yet encountered? Meanwhile, your neighbor is silently suffering in the same agony. Both of you tacitly understand that, without comparing the two visually, it is absurd to proclaim the two stones similar. Yet, your fist remains clenched, as does your neighbor’s and so you find yourselves unable to hold out the stones before you and compare them side-by-side. Of course, this is possible, but the mutual curiosity is outstripped by an inveterate pride, and so you both become afraid of showing (and even seeing) what you have, for fear that your respective stones will be different in appearance from the model that you have each conceptualized in mind. Meekly your eyes meet and you smile to one another at your new comradeship, but, all the while, remain paralyzed by a simultaneous shame and vanity.
Ashim Shanker
We have already pointed out that the Dioscuri represent a similar idea in somewhat different form: one sun is mortal, the other immortal. As this whole solar mythology is psychology projected into the heavens, the underlying idea could probably be paraphrased thus: just as man consists of a mortal and an immortal part, so the sun is a pair of brothers, one of whom is mortal, the other immortal. Man is mortal, yet there are exceptions who are immortal, or there is something immortal in us. Thus the gods, or figures like Khidr and the Comte de Saint-Germain, are our immortal part which continues intangibly to exist. The sun comparison tells us over and over again that the dynamic of the gods is psychic energy. This is our immortality, the link through which man feels inextinguishably one with the continuity of all life.58 The life of the psyche is the life of mankind. Welling up from the depths of the unconscious, its springs gush forth from the root of the whole human race, since the individual is, biologically speaking, only a twig broken off from the mother and transplanted.
C.G. Jung (Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 5: Symbols of Transformation (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung Book 7))
Vague assertions as to the equality of the sexes and the similarity of their duties are only empty words; they are no answer to my argument. It is a poor sort of logic to quote isolated exceptions against laws so firmly established. Women, you say, are not always bearing children. Granted; yet that is their proper business. Because there are a hundred or so of large towns in the world where women live licentiously and have few children, will you maintain that it is their business to have few children? And what would become of your towns if the remote country districts, with their simpler and purer women, did not make up for the barrenness of your fine ladies? There are plenty of country places where women with only four or five children are reckoned unfruitful. In conclusion, although here and there a woman may have few children, what difference does it make? Is it any the less a woman's business to be a mother? And do not the general laws of nature and morality make provision for this state of things? Even if there were these long intervals, which you assume, between the periods of pregnancy, can a woman suddenly change her way of life without danger? Can she be a nursing mother to-day and a soldier tomorrow? Will she change her tastes and her feelings as a chameleon changes his color? Will she pass at once from the privacy of household duties and indoor occupations to the buffeting of the winds, the toils, the labors, the perils of war? Will she be now timid, now brave, now fragile, now robust? If the young men of Paris find a soldier's life too hard for them, how would a woman put up with it, a woman who has hardly ventured out of doors without a parasol and who has scarcely put a foot to the ground? Will she make a good soldier at an age when even men are retiring from this arduous business? There are countries, I grant you, where women bear and rear children with little or no difficulty, but in those lands the men go half-naked in all weathers, they strike down the wild beasts, they carry a canoe as easily as a knapsack, they pursue the chase for 700 or 800 leagues, they sleep in the open on the bare ground, they bear incredible fatigues and go many days without food. When women become strong, men become still stronger; when men become soft, women become softer; change both the terms and the ratio remains unaltered.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Emile, or On Education)
Oh, my son loves Japan!" she says, her voice soaring. "He's been studying Japanese, all by himself, and he went there recently actually for the first time, and he said he just felt immediately at home there, you know really comfortable. I mean with him it's mostly the, the, the-" My brain silently fills in the next word: anime. "The animation and so on, you know he's really into technology. I mean he's only seventeen, you know so who knows what is going to happen. But it does seem like, you know, a real thing for him." "Right," I say, and I nod. "That's great." Sometimes at times like these, what fills my head is the things I do not and could not ever say. For example: "You have no idea how many stories I've heard exactly like that one!" Or: "You know, even though I'm generally reluctant to admit the existence of 'types' among people, I'm often shocked by the parallels that exist between the kind of young men who like anime and all things Japanese, to the extent that I sometimes struggle to believe that a group of people with such intensely similar interests are in fact individuals." Certainly I do not say: "And what would you like to bet that he ends up marrying a Japanese woman and becomes an academic teaching the world about Japanese culture while she gives up her job to bring up his children?" But even if these things flicker through my mind, I'm not anywhere near as rageful as any of that makes me sound. In fact, if anything, what I feel in this particular moment is something like envy, for this son of hers that I've never met, I understand that taking refuge in Japan and being shielded from the demands of full adulthood is a privilege offered to predominantly white, educated, Anglophone men, because they are deemed the most desirable that the world has to offer; that it feeds off power relations that date back to the American occupation and beyond, and which hew closely to the colonial paradigm even if there are important differences (and even if Japan also has a history of colonialism of its own to reckon with); and that even leaving all of this aside, this Peter Pan status is not something I am interested in. And yet I can't help but look at the sort of person who feels "immediately" comfortable in Japan and wish that I had felt like that, only because it might validate the way I've dedicated a lot of my life to the country, but because the security of that sensation in itself feels like something I would love to experience.
Polly Barton (Fifty Sounds)
Levin had been his [Oblonsky's] comrade and friend in early youth, and they were fond of one another as friends who have come together in early youth often are, in spite of difference in their characters and tastes. Yet as often happens between men who chosen different pursuits each, while in argument justifying the other's activity, despised it in the depth of his heart. Each thought that his own way of living was real life, and that the life of his friend was --illusion. Oblonsky could not repress a slightly sarcastic smile at the sight of Levin. How many times he had already seen him arriving in Moscow from the country, where he [Levin] did something, though what it was Oblonsky could never quite understand or feel any interest in. Levin came to Moscow always excited, always in a hurry, rather shy and irritated by his own shyness, and usually with totally new and unexpected views about things. Oblonsky laughed at all this, and yet liked it. Similarly, Levin in his heart despised the town life his friend was leading and his official duties which considered futile and ridiculed. But the difference was that Oblonsky, doing as every one else did, laughed with confidence and good-humour, while Levin laughed uncertainly and sometimes angrily.
Leo Tolstoy
they’ll start.” “What are they going to do about the Elder Council?” “Meritorious was a good man and the most powerful Grand Mage we had seen in a long time. The other Councils in Europe are worried about who will fill the vacuum now that he’s gone. The Americans are offering their support, the Japanese are sending delegates to help us wrest back some control, but…” “It sounds like a lot of people are panicking.” “And they have a right to. Our systems of power, our systems of self-government, are delicate. If we topple, others will follow. We need a strong leader.” “Why don’t you do it?” He laughed. “Because I’m not well liked, and I’m not well trusted, and I already have a job. I’m a detective, remember?” She gave her own little shrug. “Vaguely.” Another snippet of pub music drifted by the window, and Stephanie thought about the world she’d grown up in, and how different it was from the world she’d been introduced to, and yet how similar. There was joy and happiness in both, just as there was heartbreak and horror. There was good and evil and everything in between, and these qualities seemed to be shared equally in the worlds of the magical and the mundane. It was her life now. She couldn’t imagine living without either one. “How are you?” Skulduggery asked, his voice gentle.
Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1))
[L]et us imagine a mirror image of what is happening today. What if millions of white Americans were pouring across the border into Mexico, taking over parts of cities, speaking English rather than Spanish, celebrating the Fourth of July rather than Cinco de Mayo, sleeping 20 to a house, demanding bilingual instruction and welfare for immigrants, opposing border control, and demanding ballots in English? What if, besides this, they had high rates of crime, poverty, and illegitimacy? Can we imagine the Mexicans rejoicing in their newfound diversity? And yet, that is what Americans are asked to do. For whites to celebrate diversity is to celebrate their own declining numbers and influence, and the transformation of their society. For every other group, to celebrate diversity is to celebrate increasing numbers and influence. Which is a real celebration and which is self-deception? Whites—but only whites—must never take pride in their own people. Only whites must pretend they do not prefer to associate with people like themselves. Only whites must pretend to be happy to give up their neighborhoods, their institutions, and their country to people unlike themselves. Only whites must always act as individuals and never as members of a group that promotes shared interests. Racial identity comes naturally to all non-white groups. It comes naturally because it is good, normal, and healthy to feel kinship for people like oneself. Despite the fashionable view that race is a socially created illusion, race is a biological reality. All people of the same race are more closely related genetically than they are to anyone of a different race, and this helps explain racial solidarity. Families are close for the same reason. Parents love their children, not because they are the smartest, best-looking, most talented children on earth. They love them because they are genetically close to them. They love them because they are a family. Most people have similar feelings about race. Their race is the largest extended family to which they feel an instinctive kinship. Like members of a family, members of a race do not need objective reasons to prefer their own group; they prefer it because it is theirs (though they may well imagine themselves as having many fine, partly imaginary qualities). These mystic preferences need not imply hostility towards others. Parents may have great affection for the children of others, but their own children come first. Likewise, affection often crosses racial lines, but the deeper loyalties of most people are to their own group—their extended family.
Jared Taylor (White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century)
Ocean Acidification is sometimes referred to as Global Warming's Equally Evil Twin. The irony is intentional and fair enough as far as it goes... No single mechanism explains all the mass extinctions in the record and yet changes in ocean chemistry seem to be a pretty good predictor. Ocean Acidification played a role in at least 2 of the Big Five Extinctions: the End-Permian and the End-Triassic. And quite possibly it was a major factor in a third, the End-Cretaceous. ...Why is ocean acidification so dangerous? The question is tough to answer only because the list of reasons is so long. Depending on how tightly organisms are able to regulate their internal chemistry, acidification may affect such basic processes as metabolism, enzyme activity, and protein function. Because it will change the makeup of microbial communities, it will alter the availability of key nutrients, like iron and nitrogen. For similar reasons, it will change the amount of light that passes through the water, and for somewhat different reasons, it will alter the way sound propagates. (In general, acidification is expected to make the seas noisier.) It seems likely to promote the growth of toxic algae. It will impact photosynthesis—many plant species are apt to benefit from elevated CO2 levels—and it will alter the compounds formed by dissolved metals, in some cases in ways that could be poisonous. Of the myriad possible impacts, probably the most significant involves the group of creatures known as calcifiers. (The term calcifier applies to any organism that builds a shell or external skeleton or, in the case of plants, a kind of internal scaffolding out of the mineral calcium carbonate.)... Ocean acidification increases the cost of calcification by reducing the number of carbonate ions available to organisms that build shells or exoskeletons. Imagine trying to build a house while someone keeps stealing your bricks. The more acidified the water, the greater the energy that’s required to complete the necessary steps. At a certain point, the water becomes positively corrosive, and solid calcium carbonate begins to dissolve. This is why the limpets that wander too close to the vents at Castello Aragonese end up with holes in their shells. According to geologists who work in the area, the vents have been spewing carbon dioxide for at least several hundred years, maybe longer. Any mussel or barnacle or keel worm that can adapt to lower pH in a time frame of centuries presumably already would have done so. “You give them generations on generations to survive in these conditions, and yet they’re not there,” Hall-Spencer observed.
Elizabeth Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History)
Yet the homogeneity of contemporary humanity is most apparent when it comes to our view of the natural world and of the human body. If you fell sick a thousand years ago, it mattered a great deal where you lived. In Europe, the resident priest would probably tell you that you had made God angry and that in order to regain your health you should donate something to the church, make a pilgrimage to a sacred site, and pray fervently for God’s forgiveness. Alternatively, the village witch might explain that a demon had possessed you and that she could cast it out using song, dance, and the blood of a black cockerel. In the Middle East, doctors brought up on classical traditions might explain that your four bodily humors were out of balance and that you should harmonize them with a proper diet and foul-smelling potions. In India, Ayurvedic experts would offer their own theories concerning the balance between the three bodily elements known as doshas and recommend a treatment of herbs, massages, and yoga postures. Chinese physicians, Siberian shamans, African witch doctors, Amerindian medicine men—every empire, kingdom, and tribe had its own traditions and experts, each espousing different views about the human body and the nature of sickness, and each offering their own cornucopia of rituals, concoctions, and cures. Some of them worked surprisingly well, whereas others were little short of a death sentence. The only thing that united European, Chinese, African, and American medical practices was that everywhere at least a third of all children died before reaching adulthood, and average life expectancy was far below fifty.14 Today, if you happen to be sick, it makes much less difference where you live. In Toronto, Tokyo, Tehran, or Tel Aviv, you will be taken to similar-looking hospitals, where you will meet doctors in white coats who learned the same scientific theories in the same medical colleges. They will follow identical protocols and use identical tests to reach very similar diagnoses. They will then dispense the same medicines produced by the same international drug companies. There are still some minor cultural differences, but Canadian, Japanese, Iranian, and Israeli physicians hold much the same views about the human body and human diseases. After the Islamic State captured Raqqa and Mosul, it did not tear down the local hospitals. Rather, it launched an appeal to Muslim doctors and nurses throughout the world to volunteer their services there.15 Presumably even Islamist doctors and nurses believe that the body is made of cells, that diseases are caused by pathogens, and that antibiotics kill bacteria.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
Obviously the most enduring way to make this commitment is through marriage. Yet because sexual liberals deny the differences between the sexes, their explanations of why there are marriages and why marriage is needed and desired ignore the central truth of marriage: that it is built on sex roles. Pressed to explain the institution, they respond vaguely that human beings want "structure" or desire "intimacy." But however desirable in marriage, these values are not essential causes or explanations of it. In many cultures, the wife and husband share very few one-to-one intimacies. Ties with others of the same sex--or even the opposite sex--often offer deeper companionship. The most intimate connections are between mothers and their children. In all societies, male groups provide men with some of their most emotionally gratifying associations. Indeed, intimacy can deter or undermine wedlock. In the kibbutz, for example, where unrelated boys and girls are brought up together and achieve a profound degree of companionate feeling, they never marry members of the same child-rearing group. In the many cultures where marriages are arranged, the desire for intimacy is subversive of marriage. Similarly, man's "innate need for structure" can be satisfied in hundreds of forms of organization. The need for structure may explain all of them or none of them, but it does not tell us why, of all possible arrangements, marriage is the one most prevalent. It does not tell us why, in most societies, marriage alone is consecrated in a religious ceremony and entails a permanent commitment. As most anthropologists see it, however, the reason is simple. The very essence of marriage, Bronislaw Malinowski wrote, is not structure and intimacy; it is "parenthood and above all maternity." The male role in marriage, as Margaret Mead maintained, "in every known human society, is to provide for women and children." In order to marry, in fact, Malinowski says that almost every human society first requires the man "to prove his capacity to maintain the woman." Marriage is not simply a ratification of an existing love. It is the conversion of that love into a biological and social continuity. . . . Regardless of what reasons particular couples may give for getting married, the deeper evolutionary and sexual propensities explain the persistence of the institution. All sorts of superficial variations--from homosexual marriage to companionate partnership--may be played on the primal themes of human life. But the themes remain. The natural fulfillment of love is a child; the fantasies and projects of the childless couple may well be considered as surrogate children.
George Gilder (Men and Marriage)
I have been speaking about liberal studies. Yet look at the amount of useless and superfluous matter to be found in the philosophers. Even they have descended to the level of drawing distinctions between the uses of different syllables and discussing the proper meanings of prepositions and conjunctions. They have come to envy the philologist and the mathematician, and they have taken over all the inessential elements in those studies – with the result that they know more about devoting care and attention to their speech than about devoting such attention to their lives. Listen and let me show you the sorry consequences to which subtlety carried too far can lead, and what an enemy it is to truth. Protagoras declares that it is possible to argue either side of any question with equal force, even the question whether or not one can equally argue either side of any question! Nausiphanes declares that of the things which appear to us to exist, none exists any more than it does not exist. Parmenides declares that of all these phenomena none exists except the whole. Zeno of Elea has dismissed all such difficulties by introducing another; he declares that nothing exists. The Pyrrhonean, Megarian, Eretrian and Academic schools pursue more or less similar lines; the last named have introduced a new branch of knowledge, non-knowledge.
Seneca (Letters from a Stoic)
Almost immediately after jazz musicians arrived in Paris, they began to gather in two of the city’s most important creative neighborhoods: Montmartre and Montparnasse, respectively the Right and Left Bank haunts of artists, intellectuals, poets, and musicians since the late nineteenth century. Performing in these high-profile and popular entertainment districts could give an advantage to jazz musicians because Parisians and tourists already knew to go there when they wanted to spend a night out on the town. As hubs of artistic imagination and experimentation, Montmartre and Montparnasse therefore attracted the kinds of audiences that might appreciate the new and thrilling sounds of jazz. For many listeners, these locations leant the music something of their own exciting aura, and the early success of jazz in Paris probably had at least as much to do with musicians playing there as did other factors. In spite of their similarities, however, by the 1920s these neighborhoods were on two very different paths, each representing competing visions of what France could become after the war. And the reactions to jazz in each place became important markers of the difference between the two areas and visions. Montmartre was legendary as the late-nineteenth-century capital of “bohemian Paris,” where French artists had gathered and cabaret songs had filled the air. In its heyday, Montmartre was one of the centers of popular entertainment, and its artists prided themselves on flying in the face of respectable middle-class values. But by the 1920s, Montmartre represented an established artistic tradition, not the challenge to bourgeois life that it had been at the fin de siècle. Entertainment culture was rapidly changing both in substance and style in the postwar era, and a desire for new sounds, including foreign music and exotic art, was quickly replacing the love for the cabarets’ French chansons. Jazz was not entirely to blame for such changes, of course. Commercial pressures, especially the rapidly growing tourist trade, eroded the popularity of old Montmartre cabarets, which were not always able to compete with the newer music halls and dance halls. Yet jazz bore much of the criticism from those who saw the changes in Montmartre as the death of French popular entertainment. Montparnasse, on the other hand, was the face of a modern Paris. It was the international crossroads where an ever changing mixture of people celebrated, rather than lamented, cosmopolitanism and exoticism in all its forms, especially in jazz bands. These different attitudes within the entertainment districts and their institutions reflected the impact of the broader trends at work in Paris—the influx of foreign populations, for example, or the advent of cars and electricity on city streets as indicators of modern technology—and the possible consequences for French culture. Jazz was at the confluence of these trends, and it became a convenient symbol for the struggle they represented.
Jeffrey H. Jackson (Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris (American Encounters/Global Interactions))
The nature of God understood in Islam is not the same as the conceptions of God understood in the various religious traditions of the world; nor is it the same as the conceptions of God understood in Greek and Hellenistic philosophical tradition; nor as the conceptions of God understood in Western philosophical or scientific tradition; nor in that of Occidental and Oriental mystical traditions. The apparent similarities that may be found between their various conceptions of God with the nature of God understood in Islam cannot be interpreted as evidence of identity of the One Universal God in their various conceptions of the nature of God; for each and everyone of them serves and belongs to a different conceptual system, which necessarily renders the conception as a whole or the super system to be dissimilar with one another.... Nor is there a 'transcendent unity of religions', if by 'unity' is meant 'oneness' or 'sameness'; and if by 'unity' is not meant 'oneness' or 'sameness', then there is plurality or dissimilarity of religions even at the level of transcendence. If it is conceded that there is plurality or dissimilarity at that level, and that by 'unity' is meant 'interconnectedness of parts that constitute a whole', so that the 'unity' is the interconnection of the plurality or dissimilarity of religions as of parts constituting a whole, then it follows that at the level of ordinary existence, in which mankind is subject to the limitations of humanity and the material universe, any one religion is incomplete in itself, is in itself inadequate to realize its purpose, and can only realize its purpose, which is true submission to the One Universal God without associating with him any partner, rival, or like, at the level of transcendence. But religion is meant to realize its purpose precisely at the level of existence in which mankind is subject to the limitations of humanity and the material universe and not when mankind is not subject to these limitations as the term 'transcendent' conveys. If 'transcendent' is meant to refer to an ontological condition not included under any of the ten categories, God is, strictly speaking, not the God of religion (i.e. ilah) in the sense that there could be such a thing as a 'unity' of religions at that level. At that level God is recognized as rabb, not as ilah; and recognizing Him as rabb does not necessarily imply oneness or sameness in the proper acknowledgement of the truth that is recognized, since Iblis also recognized God as rabb and yet did not properly acknowledge Him. Indeed, all of Adam's progeny have already recognized Him as rabb at that level. But mankind's recognition of Him as such is not true unless followed by proper acknowledgement at that level in which He is known as ilah. And proper acknowledgement at the level in which He is known as ilah consists in not associating Him with any partner, rival, or like, and in submitting to Him in the manner and form approved by Him and shown by His sent Prophets.
Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas (Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam)
Yet why should Chinese, Indians, Muslims and Spaniards – who belonged to very different cultures that failed to agree about much of anything – nevertheless share the belief in gold? Why didn’t it happen that Spaniards believed in gold, while Muslims believed in barley, Indians in cowry shells, and Chinese in rolls of silk? Economists have a ready answer. Once trade connects two areas, the forces of supply and demand tend to equalise the prices of transportable goods. In order to understand why, consider a hypothetical case. Assume that when regular trade opened between India and the Mediterranean, Indians were uninterested in gold, so it was almost worthless. But in the Mediterranean, gold was a coveted status symbol, hence its value was high. What would happen next? Merchants travelling between India and the Mediterranean would notice the difference in the value of gold. In order to make a profit, they would buy gold cheaply in India and sell it dearly in the Mediterranean. Consequently, the demand for gold in India would skyrocket, as would its value. At the same time the Mediterranean would experience an influx of gold, whose value would consequently drop. Within a short time the value of gold in India and the Mediterranean would be quite similar. The mere fact that Mediterranean people believed in gold would cause Indians to start believing in it as well. Even if Indians still had no real use for gold, the fact that Mediterranean people wanted it would be enough to make the Indians value it.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
In a conversation at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, he told us how, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the entire country and much of the world seemed to come together overnight. Since then, he wondered, has there been anything that could trigger a similar coalition of the righteous and committed? The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks did that initially, many would argue. But the reaction didn’t last long, muddled and dissipated as it was by military action that arguably had nothing to do with the attack or threat. An alien invasion, though, that threatened the entire planet and forced human beings to set aside their differences would do it, the Durants believed. “Infectious diseases turn out to be a surrogate for an alien invasion,” Bill declared. “It’s why we were able to do smallpox eradication in the midst of the Cold War. Both sides could see this was an important thing to do.” To take the alien invasion analogy one step further, we would first have to convince the public that extraterrestrials had, in fact, landed on earth. Look at climate change: The science is well established and yet a large percentage of the population refuses to believe it. The same holds true for infectious diseases. Our task is to convince world leaders, corporate heads, philanthropic organizations, and members of the media that the threat of pandemics and regional epidemics is real and will only continue to grow. Ignoring these threats until they blow up in our faces is not a strategy.
Michael T. Osterholm (Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs)
Situation awareness means possessing an explorer mentality A general never knows anything with certainty, never sees his enemy clearly, and never knows positively where he is. When armies are face to face, the least accident in the ground, the smallest wood, may conceal part of the enemy army. The most experienced eye cannot be sure whether it sees the whole of the enemy’s army or only three-fourths. It is by the mind’s eye, by the integration of all reasoning, by a kind of inspiration that the general sees, knows, and judges. ~Napoleon 5   In order to effectively gather the appropriate information as it’s unfolding we must possess the explorer mentality.  We must be able to recognize patterns of behavior. Then we must recognize that which is outside that normal pattern. Then, you take the initiative so we maintain control. Every call, every incident we respond to possesses novelty. Car stops, domestic violence calls, robberies, suspicious persons etc.  These individual types of incidents show similar patterns in many ways. For example, a car stopped normally pulls over to the side of the road when signaled to do so.  The officer when ready, approaches the operator, a conversation ensues, paperwork exchanges, and the pulled over car drives away. A domestic violence call has its own normal patterns; police arrive, separate involved parties, take statements and arrest aggressor and advise the victim of abuse prevention rights. We could go on like this for all the types of calls we handle as each type of incident on its own merits, does possess very similar patterns. Yet they always, and I mean always possess something different be it the location, the time of day, the person you are dealing with. Even if it’s the same person, location, time and day, the person you’re dealing who may now be in a different emotional state and his/her motives and intent may be very different. This breaks that normal expected pattern.  Hence, there is a need to always be open-minded, alert and aware, exploring for the signs and signals of positive or negative change in conditions. In his Small Wars journal article “Thinking and Acting like an Early Explorer” Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege (US Army Ret.) describes the explorer mentality:   While tactical and strategic thinking are fundamentally different, both kinds of thinking must take place in the explorer’s brain, but in separate compartments. To appreciate this, think of the metaphor of an early American explorer trying to cross a large expanse of unknown terrain long before the days of the modern conveniences. The explorer knows that somewhere to the west lies an ocean he wants to reach. He has only a sketch-map of a narrow corridor drawn by a previously unsuccessful explorer. He also knows that highly variable weather and frequent geologic activity can block mountain passes, flood rivers, and dry up desert water sources. He also knows that some native tribes are hostile to all strangers, some are friendly and others are fickle, but that warring and peace-making among them makes estimating their whereabouts and attitudes difficult.6
Fred Leland (Adaptive Leadership Handbook - Law Enforcement & Security)
I’m in love with Rachel. There is no doubting that. And while I have a strong sense that she feels something similar, she isn’t ready for anything yet. What happened after our kiss is proof. At first, I wasn’t ready for a relationship since I was keeping too much from her, but that wouldn’t stop me now. I wanted her to be mine; I was just afraid of pushing her again. As much as I hated not being in control of this, I needed to let her make the decisions. Things had been different since the night I sang to her; something had changed. She was still a bitch and loved throwing her attitude at me, but I didn’t want her any other way. Rachel was easily the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, and that was what had originally caught my attention, but her attitude was what hooked me. In an attempt to give her the time she needed, I had gone back to being exactly like I always was with her. As if there had never been a kiss, as if I’d never sung for her and told her what she meant to me. The last couple weeks though, through the bickering and friends-only relationship, there had been a charge between us. Well, more than usual, anyway. It was constant, and it didn’t make things awkward; it was almost as if it just made us both more aware of each other physically at all times. And I’m not gonna lie. I. Fucking. Loved it. The way she gasped softly whenever I would brush against her, how her arms would be covered in goose bumps when I pulled away from kissing the top of her head, and how she always seemed to shift closer to me without even realizing it.
Molly McAdams (Forgiving Lies (Forgiving Lies, #1))
Reading a screenful of information is quite a different thing from looking. It is a digital form of exploration in which the eye moves along an endless broken line. The relationship to the interlocutor in communication, like the relationship to knowledge in data-handling, is similar: tactile and exploratory. A computer-generated voice, even a voice over the telephone, is a tactile voice, neutral and functional. It is no longer in fact exactly a voice, any more than looking at a screen is exactly looking. The whole paradigm of the sensory has changed. The tactility here is not the organic sense of touch: it implies merely an epidermal contiguity of eye and image, the collapse of the aesthetic distance involved in looking. We draw ever closer to the surface of the screen; our gaze is, as it were, strewn across the image. We no longer have the spectator's distance from the stage - all theatrical conventions are gone. That we fall so easily into the screen's coma of the imagination is due to the fact that the screen presents a perpetual void that we are invited to fill. Proxemics of images: promiscuity of images: tactile pornography of images. Yet the image is always light years away. It is invariably a tele-image - an image located at a very special kind of distance which can only be described as unbridgeable by the body. The body can cross the distance that separates it from language, from the stage, or from the mirror - this is what keeps it human and allows it to partake in exchange. But the screen is merely virtual - and hence unbridgeable. This is why it partakes only of that abstract - definitively abstract - form known as communication.
Jean Baudrillard (The Transparency of Evil: Essays in Extreme Phenomena)
The reason for which a work of genius is not easily admired from the first is that the man who has created it is extraordinary, that few other men resemble him. It was Beethoven’s Quartets themselves (the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth) that devoted half a century to forming, fashioning and enlarging a public for Beethoven’s Quartets, marking in this way, like every great work of art, an advance if not in artistic merit at least in intellectual society, largely composed to-day of what was not to be found when the work first appeared, that is to say of persons capable of enjoying it. What artists call posterity is the posterity of the work of art. It is essential that the work (leaving out of account, for brevity’s sake, the contingency that several men of genius may at the same time be working along parallel lines to create a more instructed public in the future, a public from which other men of genius shall reap the benefit) shall create its own posterity. For if the work were held in reserve, were revealed only to posterity, that audience, for that particular work, would be not posterity but a group of contemporaries who were merely living half-a-century later in time. And so it is essential that the artist (and this is what Vinteuil had done), if he wishes his work to be free to follow its own course, shall launch it, wherever he may find sufficient depth, confidently outward bound towards the future. And yet this interval of time, the true perspective in which to behold a work of art, if leaving it out of account is the mistake made by bad judges, taking it into account is at times a dangerous precaution of the good. No doubt one can easily imagine, by an illusion similar to that which makes everything on the horizon appear equidistant, that all the revolutions which have hitherto occurred in painting or in music did at least shew respect for certain rules, whereas that which immediately confronts us, be it impressionism, a striving after discord, an exclusive use of the Chinese scale, cubism, futurism or what you will, differs outrageously from all that have occurred before. Simply because those that have occurred before we are apt to regard as a whole, forgetting that a long process of assimilation has melted them into a continuous substance, varied of course but, taking it as a whole, homogeneous, in which Hugo blends with Molière. Let us try to imagine the shocking incoherence that we should find, if we did not take into account the future, and the changes that it must bring about, in a horoscope of our own riper years, drawn and presented to us in our youth. Only horoscopes are not always accurate, and the necessity, when judging a work of art, of including the temporal factor in the sum total of its beauty introduces, to our way of thinking, something as hazardous, and consequently as barren of interest, as every prophecy the non-fulfillment of which will not at all imply any inadequacy on the prophet’s part, for the power to summon possibilities into existence or to exclude them from it is not necessarily within the competence of genius; one may have had genius and yet not have believed in the future of railways or of flight, or, although a brilliant psychologist, in the infidelity of a mistress or of a friend whose treachery persons far less gifted would have foreseen.
Marcel Proust (In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower)
We debated this point until the skull was clear of the bulk of its flesh. As I began sketching again, he asked me, “What do you think? Taxonomically.” “It’s difficult,” I admitted. By then my hand was capable of going about its work without demanding all of my attention; I could ponder issues of classification at the same time. “The dentition bears some similarities to those reported or observed in other breeds, at least in number and disposition of teeth … though of course baleen plates are not a usual feature. The vertebrae certainly pose a problem. This creature has quite a lot of them, and we do not usually consider animals to be close cousins who differ so greatly in such a fundamental characteristic.” Tom nodded, wiping his hands clean—or at least less filthy—with a cloth. “Not to mention the utter lack of hind limbs. I saw nothing in the dissection, not even anything vestigial. The closest thing it has to forelimbs are some rather inadequate fins.” “And yet there are similarities. The generally reptilian appearance, and more significantly, the degradation of the bones.” I thought of the six criteria customarily used to distinguish “true dragons” from draconic creatures: quadripedalism, flight-capable wings, a ruff or fan behind the skull, bones frangible after death, oviparity, and extraordinary breath. We might, if we were very generous, count the serpent’s supraorbital tendrils (presuming it had once possessed them) as the ruff, and Tom had just confirmed that the creatures laid eggs. Together with the bones—which decayed more slowly than those of terrestrial dragons, but did become frangible quite rapidly—that made three of six. But was there any significance to the distinction between “true dragons” and their mere cousins? What if there was only one characteristic that mattered?
Marie Brennan (The Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3))
Ultimately, what does it mean to be ignoble? — Words are sound signals for ideas, but ideas are more or less firm image signs for sensations which return frequently and occur together, for groups of sensations. To understand each other, it is not yet sufficient that people use the same words; they must also use the same words for the same form of inner experiences; in the end they must hold their experience in common with each other. That’s why human beings belonging to a single people understand each other better among themselves than associations of different peoples, even when they use the same language; or rather, when human beings have lived together for a long time under similar conditions (climate, soil, danger, needs, work), then something arises out of that which “understands itself” — a people ... The assessments of value in a man reveal something about the structure of his soul and where it looks for its conditions of life, its essential needs. Now, assume that need has always brought together only such people as could indicate with similar signs similar requirements and similar experiences, then it generally turns out that the easy ability to communicate need, that is, in the last analysis, familiarity with only average and common experiences, must have been the most powerful of all the forces which have so far determined things among human beings. People who are more similar and more ordinary have been and always are at an advantage; the more exceptional, more refined, rarer, and more difficult to understand easily remain isolated; in their isolation they are subject to accidents and rarely propagate themselves. People have to summon up huge counter-forces to check this natural, all-too-natural progressus in simile [advance into similarity], the further development of human beings into what’s similar, ordinary, average, herd-like — into what’s common.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
Thanks to our discussion in the last chapter, we can also agree that character is a product of perseverance: “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3–4). I don’t know how that idea strikes you, but it sounds a little backward to me. I would expect that a person with character would find it easier to persevere through difficult circumstances. That makes sense. But how does perseverance produce character? When I look at the world around me, it seems to me that most things actually decay over time rather than grow stronger. The longer we live in our home, the more I see spots that need a paint touch-up. The longer I drive my car, the more I find I need to take it in for tune-ups and repairs. And the longer I live, the more I realize my body isn’t what it used to be! But maybe this process of perseverance leading to character works differently. Surely God is the X-factor. When you add God to the equation, persistence over time builds up character and strength instead of taking it away. Consider, if you will, the snowball. Left by itself, it doesn’t amount to much. It’s just a little round chunk of white frozen water. Yet place that snowball at the top of a steep hill on a snowy day, and things begin to change. If you invest some time rolling that snowball across the ground so it picks up snow and grows into a larger ball, you begin to create something big and heavy. If you invest even more time and energy (this is where perseverance comes in), you might get that ball rolling down the hill. And the longer it rolls, the faster it goes, the bigger it gets. Now you’ve got something powerful. This is a force to be reckoned with. This is when people start running for cover. Your little snowball suddenly becomes a runaway freight train! I believe that equation of suffering, which produces perseverance, which produces character, works in a similar fashion. Our willingness to trust and rely on the Lord in a time of trouble invites His power to work in our lives. The more we trust and depend on Him, the easier it becomes. As the Lord says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). Pretty soon our perseverance enables the Lord to add character to our “snowball”—and the more we persevere, the stronger we grow. We find ourselves rolling downhill toward a godly life. It still might be a bumpy ride, but the size and momentum of our snowball just about guarantees that as long as we are pursuing God’s will for our lives, nothing will stop us.
Jim Daly (Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength)
Yet why should Chinese, Indians, Muslims and Spaniards – who belonged to very different cultures that failed to agree about much of anything – nevertheless share the belief in gold? Why didn’t it happen that Spaniards believed in gold, while Muslims believed in barley, Indians in cowry shells, and Chinese in rolls of silk? Economists have a ready answer. Once trade connects two areas, the forces of supply and demand tend to equalise the prices of transportable goods. In order to understand why, consider a hypothetical case. Assume that when regular trade opened between India and the Mediterranean, Indians were uninterested in gold, so it was almost worthless. But in the Mediterranean, gold was a coveted status symbol, hence its value was high. What would happen next? Merchants travelling between India and the Mediterranean would notice the difference in the value of gold. In order to make a profit, they would buy gold cheaply in India and sell it dearly in the Mediterranean. Consequently, the demand for gold in India would skyrocket, as would its value. At the same time the Mediterranean would experience an influx of gold, whose value would consequently drop. Within a short time the value of gold in India and the Mediterranean would be quite similar. The mere fact that Mediterranean people believed in gold would cause Indians to start believing in it as well. Even if Indians still had no real use for gold, the fact that Mediterranean people wanted it would be enough to make the Indians value it. Similarly, the fact that another person believes in cowry shells, or dollars, or electronic data, is enough to strengthen our own belief in them, even if that person is otherwise hated, despised or ridiculed by us. Christians and Muslims who could not agree on religious beliefs could nevertheless agree on a monetary belief, because whereas religion asks us to believe in something, money asks us to believe that other people believe in something. For thousands of years, philosophers, thinkers and prophets have besmirched money and called it the root of all evil. Be that as it may, money is also the apogee of human tolerance. Money is more open-minded than language, state laws, cultural codes, religious beliefs and social habits. Money is the only trust system created by humans that can bridge almost any cultural gap, and that does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, race, age or sexual orientation. Thanks to money, even people who don’t know each other and don’t trust each other can nevertheless cooperate effectively.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
By appealing to the moral and philosophical foundation work of the nation, Lincoln hoped to provide common ground on which good men in both the North and the South could stand. “I am not now combating the argument of necessity, arising from the fact that the blacks are already amongst us; but I am combating what is set up as moral argument for allowing them to be taken where they have never yet been.” Unlike the majority of antislavery orators, who denounced the South and castigated slaveowners as corrupt and un-Christian, Lincoln pointedly denied fundamental differences between Northerners and Southerners. He argued that “they are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist amongst them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up. . . . When it is said that the institution exists; and that it is very difficult to get rid of it, in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself.” And, finally, “when they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge them . . . and I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives.” Rather than upbraid slaveowners, Lincoln sought to comprehend their position through empathy. More than a decade earlier, he had employed a similar approach when he advised temperance advocates to refrain from denouncing drinkers in “thundering tones of anathema and denunciation,” for denunciation would inevitably be met with denunciation, “crimination with crimination, and anathema with anathema.” In a passage directed at abolitionists as well as temperance reformers, he had observed that it was the nature of man, when told that he should be “shunned and despised,” and condemned as the author “of all the vice and misery and crime in the land,” to “retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart.” Though the cause be “naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder than steel,” the sanctimonious reformer could no more pierce the heart of the drinker or the slaveowner than “penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw. Such is man, and so must he be understood by those who would lead him.” In order to “win a man to your cause,” Lincoln explained, you must first reach his heart, “the great high road to his reason.” This, he concluded, was the only road to victory—to that glorious day “when there shall be neither a slave nor a drunkard on the earth.” Building on his rhetorical advice, Lincoln tried to place
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln)
Not long after I learned about Frozen, I went to see a friend of mine who works in the music industry. We sat in his living room on the Upper East Side, facing each other in easy chairs, as he worked his way through a mountain of CDs. He played “Angel,” by the reggae singer Shaggy, and then “The Joker,” by the Steve Miller Band, and told me to listen very carefully to the similarity in bass lines. He played Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and then Muddy Waters’s “You Need Love,” to show the extent to which Led Zeppelin had mined the blues for inspiration. He played “Twice My Age,” by Shabba Ranks and Krystal, and then the saccharine ’70s pop standard “Seasons in the Sun,” until I could hear the echoes of the second song in the first. He played “Last Christmas,” by Wham! followed by Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” to explain why Manilow might have been startled when he first heard that song, and then “Joanna,” by Kool and the Gang, because, in a different way, “Last Christmas” was an homage to Kool and the Gang as well. “That sound you hear in Nirvana,” my friend said at one point, “that soft and then loud kind of exploding thing, a lot of that was inspired by the Pixies. Yet Kurt Cobain” — Nirvana’s lead singer and songwriter — “was such a genius that he managed to make it his own. And ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’?” — here he was referring to perhaps the best-known Nirvana song. “That’s Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling.’ ” He began to hum the riff of the Boston hit, and said, “The first time I heard ‘Teen Spirit,’ I said, ‘That guitar lick is from “More Than a Feeling.” ’ But it was different — it was urgent and brilliant and new.” He played another CD. It was Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” a huge hit from the 1970s. The chorus has a distinctive, catchy hook — the kind of tune that millions of Americans probably hummed in the shower the year it came out. Then he put on “Taj Mahal,” by the Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor, which was recorded several years before the Rod Stewart song. In his twenties, my friend was a DJ at various downtown clubs, and at some point he’d become interested in world music. “I caught it back then,” he said. A small, sly smile spread across his face. The opening bars of “Taj Mahal” were very South American, a world away from what we had just listened to. And then I heard it. It was so obvious and unambiguous that I laughed out loud; virtually note for note, it was the hook from “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.” It was possible that Rod Stewart had independently come up with that riff, because resemblance is not proof of influence. It was also possible that he’d been in Brazil, listened to some local music, and liked what he heard.
Malcolm Gladwell (What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures)
Or think of the tale of the blind men who encounter an elephant for the first time. One wise man, touching the ear of the elephant, declares the elephant is flat and two-dimensional like a fan. Another wise man touches the tail and assumes the elephant is like rope or a one-dimensional string. Another, touching a leg, concludes the elephant is a three-dimensional drum or a cylinder. But actually, if we step back and rise into the third dimension, we can see the elephant as a three-dimensional animal. In the same way, the five different string theories are like the ear, tail, and leg, but we still have yet to reveal the full elephant, M-theory. Holographic Universe As we mentioned, with time new layers have been uncovered in string theory. Soon after M-theory was proposed in 1995, another astonishing discovery was made by Juan Maldacena in 1997. He jolted the entire physics community by showing something that was once considered impossible: that a supersymmetric Yang-Mills theory, which describes the behavior of subatomic particles in four dimensions, was dual, or mathematically equivalent, to a certain string theory in ten dimensions. This sent the physics world into a tizzy. By 2015, there were ten thousand papers that referred to this paper, making it by far the most influential paper in high-energy physics. (Symmetry and duality are related but different. Symmetry arises when we rearrange the components of a single equation and it remains the same. Duality arises when we show that two entirely different theories are actually mathematically equivalent. Remarkably, string theory has both of these highly nontrivial features.) As we saw, Maxwell’s equations have a duality between electric and magnetic fields—that is, the equations remain the same if we reverse the two fields, turning electric fields into magnetic fields. (We can see this mathematically, because the EM equations often contain terms like E2 + B2, which remain the same when we rotate the two fields into each other, like in the Pythagorean theorem). Similarly, there are five distinct string theories in ten dimensions, which can be proven to be dual to each other, so they are really a single eleven-dimensional M-theory in disguise. So remarkably, duality shows that two different theories are actually two aspects of the same theory. Maldacena, however, showed that there was yet another duality between strings in ten dimensions and Yang-Mills theory in four dimensions. This was a totally unexpected development but one that has profound implications. It meant that there were deep, unexpected connections between the gravitational force and the nuclear force defined in totally different dimensions. Usually, dualities can be found between strings in the same dimension. By rearranging the terms describing those strings, for example, we can often change one string theory into another. This creates a web of dualities between different string theories, all defined in the same dimension. But a duality between two objects defined in different dimensions was unheard of.
Michio Kaku (The God Equation: The Quest for a Theory of Everything)
The lust of property, and love: what different associations each of these ideas evoke! and yet it might be the same impulse twice named: on the one occasion disparaged from the standpoint of those already possessing (in whom the impulse has attained something of repose, who are now apprehensive for the safety of their "possession"); on the other occasion viewed from the standpoint of the unsatisfied and thirsty, and therefore glorified as "good." Our love of our neighbor, is it not a striving after new property? And similarly our love of knowledge, of truth; and in general all the striving after novelties? We gradually become satiated with the old and securely possessed, and again stretch out our hands; even the finest landscape in which we live for three months is no longer certain of our love, and any kind of more distant coast excites our covetousness: the possession for the most part becomes smaller through possessing. Our pleasure in ourselves seeks to maintain itself by always transforming something new into ourselves, that is just possessing. To become satiated with a possession, that is to become satiated with ourselves. (One can also suffer from excess, even the desire to cast away, to share out, may assume the honorable name of "love.") When we see any one suffering, we willingly utilize the opportunity then afforded to take possession of him; the beneficent and sympathetic man, for example, does this; he also calls the desire for new possession awakened in him, by the name of "love," and has enjoyment in it, as in a new acquisition suggesting itself to him. The love of the sexes, however, betrays itself most plainly as the striving after possession: the lover wants the unconditioned, sole possession of the person longed for by him; he wants just as absolute power over her soul as over the body; he wants to be loved solely, and to dwell and rule in the other soul as what is highest and most to be desired. When one considers that this means precisely to exclude all the world from a precious possession, a happiness, and an enjoyment; when one considers that the lover has in view the impoverishment and privation of all other rivals, and would like to become the dragon of his golden hoard, as the most inconsiderate and selfish of all "conquerors "and exploiters; when one considers finally that to the lover himself, the whole world besides appears indifferent, colorless, and worthless, and that he is ready to make every sacrifice, disturb every arrangement, and put every other interest behind his own, one is verily surprised that this ferocious lust of property and injustice of sexual love should have been glorified and deified to such an extent at all times; yea, that out of this love the conception of love as the antithesis of egoism should have been derived, when it is perhaps precisely the most unqualified expression of egoism. Here, evidently, the non-possessors and desirers have determined the usage of language, there were, of course, always too many of them. Those who have been favored with much possession and satiety, have, to be sure, dropped a word now and then about the "raging demon," as, for instance, the most lovable and most beloved of all the Athenians Sophocles; but Eros always laughed at such revilers, they were always his greatest favorites. There is, of course, here and there on this terrestrial sphere a kind of sequel to love, in which that covetous longing of two persons for one another has yielded to a new desire and covetousness, to a common, higher thirst for a superior ideal standing above them: but who knows this love? Who has experienced it? Its right name — friendship.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs)
I wanted to be puzzled and charmed, to experience the endless, beguiling variety of a continent where you can board a train and an hour later be somewhere where the inhabitants speak a different language, eat different foods, work different hours, live lives that are at once so different and yet so oddly similar. I wanted to be a tourist.
So what can we generalize about Victorian vampires? They are already dead, yet not exactly dead, and clammy-handed. They can be magnetically repelled by crucifixes and they don’t show up in mirrors. No one is safe; vampires prey upon strangers, family, and lovers. Unlike zombies, vampires are individualists, seldom traveling in packs and never en masse. Many suffer from mortuary halitosis despite our reasonable expectation that they would no longer breathe. But our vampires herein also differ in interesting ways. Some fear sunlight; others do not. Many are bound by a supernatural edict that forbids them to enter a home without some kind of invitation, no matter how innocently mistaken. Dracula, for example, greets Jonathan Harker with this creepy exclamation that underlines another recurring theme, the betrayal of innocence (and also explains why I chose Stoker’s story “Dracula’s Guest” as the title of this anthology): “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will.” Yet other vampires seem immune to this hospitality prohibition. One common bit of folklore was that you ought never to refer to a suspected vampire by name, yet in some tales people do so without consequence. Contrary to their later presentation in movies and television, not all Victorian vampires are charming or handsome or beautiful. Some are gruesome. Some are fiends wallowing in satanic bacchanal and others merely contagious victims of fate, à la Typhoid Mary. A few, in fact, are almost sympathetic figures, like the hero of a Greek epic who suffers the anger of the gods. Curious bits of other similar folklore pop up in scattered places. Vampires in many cultures, for example, are said to be allergic to garlic. Over the centuries, this aromatic herb has become associated with sorcerers and even with the devil himself. It protected Odysseus from Circe’s spells. In Islamic folklore, garlic springs up from Satan’s first step outside the Garden of Eden and onion from his second. Garlic has become as important in vampire defense as it is in Italian cooking. If, after refilling your necklace sachet and outlining your window frames, you have some left over, you can even use garlic to guard your pets or livestock—although animals luxuriate in soullessness and thus appeal less to the undead. The vampire story as we know it was born in the early nineteenth century. As
Michael Sims (Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories)
If there is something I have not yet written and I must declare about her, is that without her (Laura) will nad her values, today Rebecca and Yong would not be in the individuals I know. Two other different people would now be living somewhere in the world. Not Rebecca and Yong, but someone else. Similarly, without Rebecca and Yong, neither Laura nor myself would be the same. Another two people would be living in Milan, in our apartment.
Roberto G. Ferrari
FV: Annandale defines 'definition' as "an explanation of the signification of a term." Yet Oxford, on the other hand, defines it as "a statement of the precise meaning of a word." A small, perhaps negligible difference you might think. And neither, would you say, is necessarily more correct than the other? But now look up each of the words comprising each definition, and then the definitions of those definitions, and so on. Some still may only differ slightly, while others may differ quite a lot. Yet any discrepancy, large or small, only compounds that initial difference further and further, pushing each 'definition' farther apart. How similar are they then at the end of this process...assuming it ever would end? Could we possibly even be referring to the same word by this point? And we still haven't considered what Collins here...or Gage, or Funk and Wagnalls might have to say about it. Off on enough tangents and you're eventually led completely off track. ML: Or around in circles. FV: Precisely! ML: Oxford, though, is generally considered the authority, isn't it? FV: Well, it's certainly the biggest...the most complete. But then, that truly is your vicious circle - every word defined...every word in every definition defined...around and around in an infinite loop. Truly a book that never ends. A concise or abridged dictionary may, at least, have an out... ML: I wonder, then, what the smallest possible "complete dictionary" would be? Completely self-contained, that is, with every word in every definition accounted for. How many would that be, do you suppose? Or, I guess more importantly, which ones? FV: Well, that brings to mind another problem. You know that Russell riddle about naming numbers?
Mort W. Lumsden (Citations: A Brief Anthology)
Signs resemble images in being concrete entities but they resemble concepts in their powers of reference. Neither concepts nor signs relate exclusively to themselves; either may be substituted for something else. Concepts, however, have an unlimited capacity in this respect, while signs have not. The example of the 'bricoleur' helps to bring out the differences and similarities. Consider him at work and excited by his project. His first practical step is retrospective. He has to turn back to an already existent set made up of tools and materials, to consider or reconsider what it contains and, finally and above all, to engage in a sort of dialogue with it and, before choosing between them, to index the possible answers which the whole set can offer to his problem. He interrogates all the heterogeneous objects of which his treasury* is composed to discover what each of them could 'signify' and so contribute to the definition of a set which has yet to materialize but which will ultimately differ from the instrumental set only in the internal disposition of its parts.
learning—we have learned how to increase productivity, the outputs that can be produced with any inputs. There are two aspects of learning that we can distinguish: an improvement in best practices, reflected in increases in productivity of firms that marshal all available knowledge and technology, and improvements in the productivity of firms as they catch up to best practices. In fact, the distinction may be somewhat artificial; there may be no firm that has employed best practices in every aspect of its activities. One firm may be catching up with another in some dimension, but the second firm may be catching up with the first in others. In developing countries, almost all firms may be catching up with global best practices; but the real difference between developing and developed countries is the larger fraction of firms that are significantly below global best practices and the larger gap between their productivity and that of the best-performing firms. While we are concerned in this book with both aspects of learning, it is especially the learning associated with catching up that we believe has been given short shrift in the economics literature, and which is central to improvements in standards of living, especially in developing countries. But as we noted in chapter 1, the two are closely related; because of the improvements in best practices by the most innovative firms, most other firms are always engaged in a process of catching up. While the evidence of Solow and the work that followed demonstrated (what to many seems obvious) the importance of learning for increases in standards of living, to further explicate the role of learning, the first three sections of this chapter marshal other macro- and microeconomic evidence. In particular, we stress the pervasive gap between best practices and the productivity of most firms. We argue that this gap is far more important than the traditional allocative inefficiencies upon which most of economics has focused and is related to learning—or more accurately, the lack of learning. The final section provides a theoretical context within which to think about the sources of sustained increases in standards of living, employing the familiar distinction of movements of the production possibilities curve and movements toward the production possibilities curve. Using this framework, we explain why it is that we ascribe such importance to learning. Macroeconomic Perspectives There are several empirical arguments that can be brought to bear to support our conclusion concerning the importance of learning. The first is a simple argument: In theory, leading-edge technology is globally available. Thus, with sufficient capital and trained labor (or sufficient mobility for capital and trained labor), all countries should enjoy comparable standards of living. The only difference would be the rents associated with ownership of intellectual property rights and factor supplies. Yet there is an enormous divergence in economic performance and standards of living across national economies, far greater than can be explained by differences in factor supplies.1 And this includes many low-performing economies with high levels of capital intensity (especially among formerly socialist economies) and highly trained labor forces. Table 2.1 presents a comparison of formerly socialist countries with similar nonsocialist economies in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the state-controlled model of economic activity. TABLE 2.1 Quality of Life Comparisons, 1992–1994 (U.S. $) Source: Greenwald and Khan (2009), p. 30. In most of these cases, at the time communism was imposed after World War II, the subsequently socialist economies enjoyed higher levels of economic development than
Joseph E. Stiglitz (Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress)
There are other problems more closely related to the question of culture. The poor fit between large scale and Korea’s familistic tendencies has probably been a net drag on efficiency. The culture has slowed the introduction of professional managers in situations where, in contrast to small-scale Chinese businesses, they are desperately needed. Further, the relatively low-trust character of Korean culture does not allow Korean chaebol to exploit the same economies of scale and scope in their network organization as do the Japanese keiretsu. That is, the chaebol resembles a traditional American conglomerate more than a keiretsu network: it is burdened with a headquarters staff and a centralized decision-making apparatus for the chaebol as a whole. In the early days of Korean industrialization, there may have been some economic rationale to horizontal expansion of the chaebol into unfamiliar lines of business, since this was a means of bringing modern management techniques to a traditional economy. But as the economy matured, the logic behind linking companies in unrelated businesses with no obvious synergies became increasingly questionable. The chaebol’s scale may have given them certain advantages in raising capital and in cross-subsidizing businesses, but one would have to ask whether this represented a net advantage to the Korean economy once the agency and other costs of a centralized organization were deducted from the balance. (In any event, the bulk of chaebol financing has come from the government at administered interest rates.) Chaebol linkages may actually serve to hold back the more competitive member companies by embroiling them in the affairs of slow-growing partners. For example, of all the varied members of the Samsung conglomerate, only Samsung Electronics is a truly powerful global player. Yet that company has been caught up for several years in the group-wide management reorganization that began with the passing of the conglomerate’s leadership from Samsung’s founder to his son in the late 1980s.72 A different class of problems lies in the political and social realms. Wealth is considerably more concentrated in Korea than in Taiwan, and the tensions caused by disparities in wealth are evident in the uneasy history of Korean labor relations. While aggregate growth in the two countries has been similar over the past four decades, the average Taiwanese worker has a higher standard of living than his Korean counterpart. Government officials were not oblivious to the Taiwanese example, and beginning in about 1981 they began to reverse somewhat their previous emphasis on large-scale companies by reducing their subsidies and redirecting them to small- and medium-sized businesses. By this time, however, large corporations had become so entrenched in their market sectors that they became very difficult to dislodge. The culture itself, which might have preferred small family businesses if left to its own devices, had begun to change in subtle ways; as in Japan, a glamour now attached to working in the large business sector, guaranteed it a continuing inflow of Korea’s best and brightest young people.73
Francis Fukuyama (Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity)
All seizures of power, no matter how ‘strong or well-meaning’ the seizers, will go the same way. That’s what power does. Meanwhile, at exactly the same time as the publication of The Lord of the Rings William Golding was bringing out his fables, Lord of the Flies (1954), and The Inheritors (1955), the meaning of which Golding conveniently summarized for commentators in a later essay, ‘Fable’, in his collection The Hot Gates: I must say that anyone who passed through those years [of World War II] without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey, must have been blind or wrong in the head. (Hot Gates, p. 87) So the English choirboys, marooned on an idyllic desert island, invent murder and human sacrifice and create the ‘lord of the flies’ himself, Beelzebub; in The Inheritors our ancestors, Cro-Magnon men, exterminate the gentle and friendly Neanderthals and create an entirely false legend of ogres and cannibals to justify their actions. A very similar if more complex argument was put forward, one might add, by the other great fantasy of the 1950s, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, a work which began like Tolkien’s with a children’s book, The Sword in the Stone (1937), but took even longer than Tolkien’s to reach termination, appearing as a whole (though still unfinished) in 1958. White’s points are too many and too self-doubting to summarize readily, but there is at least no doubt that White saw in humanity a basic urge to destruction, expressed in a work written like The Lord of the Rings, nationibus in diro bello certantibus, ‘while the nations were striving in fearful war’. Orwell, Golding, White (and several other post-war authors of fantasy and fable): the thought that they expressed in their highly different ways was that people could never be trusted, least of all if they expressed a wish for the betterment of humanity. The major disillusionment of the twentieth century has been over political good intentions, which have led only to gulags and killing fields. That is why what Gandalf says has rung true to virtually everyone who reads it – though it is, I repeat, yet one more anachronism in Middle-earth, and the greatest of them, an entirely modern conviction.
Tom Shippey (J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century)
First, national standards and national curriculum, enforced by high-stakes testing, can at best teach students what is prescribed by the curriculum and expected by the standards. This system fails to expose students to content and skills in other areas. As a result, students talented in other areas never have the opportunity to discover those talents. Students with broader interests are discouraged, not rewarded. The system results in a population with similar skills in a narrow spectrum of talents. But especially in today's society, innovation and creativity are needed in many areas, some as yet undiscovered. Innovation and creativity come from cross-fertilization across different disciplines. A narrow educational experience hardly provides children opportunities to examine an issue from multiple disciplines.
Yong Zhao (Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World)
When we condemn others for being different from ourselves, we fail to see our similarities. Yet, the same red heart beats in everyone's chest.
Karlyle Tomms
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The difference between the generations of parents and children always exists, yet, ours seemed very sharp. Religious parents, Father a merchant, closely involved with the synagogue and charities, fighting to keep a middle class home going - while the children were growing up under new and different influences. Of course, I looked up to Sali, who was highly intelligent and was part and parcel of a group of high school students, all moving in the direction of socialism. It was the time of the Weimar Republic in Germany, a time of social ferment, of industrialization, of inflation, of unemployment. I moved, unaware of the facts, into a similar direction as Sali.
Pearl Fichman (Before Memories Fade)
It is interesting, in this context, to think again of our earlier argument that membership of the species Homo sapiens does not entitle a being to better treatment than a being at a similar mental level who is a member of a different species. We could also have said – except that it seemed too obvious to need saying – that membership of the species Homo sapiens is not a reason for giving a being worse treatment than a member of a different species. Yet in respect of euthanasia, this needs to be said. If your dog is ill and in pain with no chance of recovery, the humane thing to do is take her to the vet, who will end her suffering swiftly with a lethal injection. To ‘allow nature to take its course’, withholding treatment while your dog dies slowly and in distress over days, weeks or months, would obviously be wrong. It is only our misplaced respect for the doctrine of the sanctity of human life that prevents us from seeing that what it is obviously wrong to do to a dog, it is equally wrong to do to a human being who has never been able to express a view about such matters.
Peter Singer (Practical Ethics)