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Posts Tagged ‘quote’

“May you find what you are looking for;
May you come to the attention of those in authority;
May you live in interesting times.”

Ancient Chinese curses.

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“The fact that we can become accustomed to anything, however disgusting at first, makes it necessary to examine carefully everything we have become accustomed to.”

George Bernard Shaw

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Frenchmen and math

Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them, they translate it into their own language, and forthwith it means something entirely different.

Goethe

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“Once upon a time, there was a man who was convinced that he possessed a Great Idea.  Indeed, as the man thought upon the Great Idea more and more, he realized that it was not just a great idea, but the most wonderful idea ever. The Great Idea would unravel the mysteries of the universe, supersede the authority of the corrupt and error-ridden Establishment, confer nigh-magical powers upon its wielders, feed the hungry, heal the sick, make the whole world a better place, etc. etc. etc.

The man was Francis Bacon, his Great Idea was the scientific method, and he was the only crackpot in all history to claim that level of benefit to humanity and turn out to be completely right.”

Eliezer Yudkowsky

(Hat Tip: Sudeep Kamath)

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Barack Obama:

I was always suspicious of dogma, and the excesses of the left and the right. One of my greatest criticisms of the Republican Party over the last 20 years is that it’s not particularly conservative. I can read conservatives from an earlier era—a George Will or a Peggy Noonan—and recognize wisdom, because it has much more to do with respect for tradition and the past and I think skepticism about being able to just take apart a society and put it back together. Because I do think that communities and nations and families aren’t subject to that kind of mechanical approach to change. But when I look at Tom DeLay or some of the commentators on Fox these days, there’s nothing particularly conservative about them.

In all seriousness, I think what Obama needs is a bumper-sticker guy. One who can distill his key thoughts into memorable, easily digestible sentences that he can then use in debates, stump speeches, ads and yes, bumper stickers.

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“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

Thomas Jefferson.

(Hat Tip: Aristotle The Geek)

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The general opinion about the Leadership and Compassion Forum hosted by Rick Warren at Saddleback Church on Saturday is that McCain won the night. Most commentators seem to think that McCain’s direct and black-and-white responses were more effective than Obama’s detailed and nuanced answers. The oft-quoted example? Abortion, of course.

The question was, at what point of time does an embryo/foetus/baby get human rights. The candidates were asked this question separately, and neither heard the other’s answer.

Here’s McCain’s answer:

At the moment of conception. (APPLAUSE). I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment. That’s my commitment to you.

And now, Obama’s:

Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.

But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention. So that would be point number one.

But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members. And so, for me, the goal right now should be — and this is where I think we can find common ground. And by the way, I’ve now inserted this into the Democratic party platform, is how do we reduce the number of abortions? The fact is that although we have had a president who is opposed to abortion over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down and that is something we have to address.

I am in favor, for example, of limits on late-term abortions, if there is an exception for the mother’s health. From the perspective of those who are pro-life, I think they would consider that inadequate, and I respect their views. One of the things that I’ve always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then — and you are consistent in that belief, then I can’t argue with you on that, because that is a core issue of faith for you.

What I can do is say, are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions. And as an example of that, one of the things that I’ve talked about is how do we provide the resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child. You know, have we given them the health care that they need? Have we given them the support services that they need? Have we given them the options of adoption that are necessary? That can make a genuine difference.

Obama’s answer has been variously described as a gaffe, a waffle and a disaster by the pundits. As far as the angry netroots go, a typical reaction is something like:

News flash: There’s not a job on the planet above the pay grade of the President of the United States. If you can’t solve every problem and are humble about it, that’s fine — but you can’t get away with being unsure about the most defining moral issue in politics.

So what do I have to say about the matter? Nothing much, except that reading all these reactions makes me strangely pessimistic about the future of democracy. It is stunning how far America has moved away from its intellectual beginings. To win an election these days, you have to deal in soundbites. Nuance and complexity are the enemies of a political career.

As someone said, come November, Americans will get what they deserve.

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