node created 2019/09/29
O God of earth and heaven,
Spirit and flesh are Thine!
Thou hast in wisdom given,
Man’s inward light divine;
And unto him Thy grace accords
The gift of spoken words.
The world was fashioned by Thy will,
Nor did’st Thou toil at it, for still
Thy breath did Thy design fulfil.
My times are in Thy hand,
Thou knowest what is best,
And where I fear to stand,
Thy strength brings succour bless’d.
Thy loving-kindness, as within
A mantle, hides my sin.
Thy mercies are my sure defence,
And for Thy bounteous providence
Thou dost demand no recompense.
For all the sons of men
Thou hast a book prepared
Where, without hand or pen,
Their deeds are all declared:
Yet for the pure in heart shall be
A pardon found with Thee.
The life and soul Thou did’st create
Thou hast redeemed from evil strait,
Thou hast not left me desolate.
The heavens Thou badest be,
Thy bright, celestial throne,
Are witnesses to Thee,
O Thou the Lord alone!
One, indivisible, Thy name
Upholds creation’s frame.
Thou madest all—the depth, the height—
Thou rulest all in power and might,
Supreme, eternal, infinite!
translated by Alice Lucas in "The Jewish Year"
If something is right (or wrong) for us, it’s right (or wrong) for others. It follows that if it’s wrong for Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and a long list of others to bomb Washington and New York, then it’s wrong for Rumsfeld to bomb Afghanistan (on much flimsier pretexts), and he should be brought before war crimes trials.
In 1952 I spoke of the civilization of make-believe, the one we must shake off, myself, the the first of all! I spoke of columns of gray men on the march toward sterility and self-destruction.
The same year I used the term "transautomation" to show the way beyond the rationalism of technocrats toward a new creation in harmony with the laws of nature.
In 1953 I realized that the straight line leads to the downfall of mankind.
But the straight line has become an absolute tyranny.
The straight line is something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling; it is a line which does not exist in nature.
And that the line is the rotten foundation of our doomed civilization.
Even if there are certain places where it is recognized that this line is rapidly leading to perdition, its course continues to be plotted.
The straight line is the only sterile line, the only line which does not suit man as the image of God.
The straight line is the forbidden fruit.
The straight line is the curse of our civilization.
Any design undertaken with the straight line will be stillborn. Today we are witnessing the triumph of rationalist knowhow and yet, at the same time, we find ourselves confronted with emptiness. An aesthetic void, desert of uniformity, criminal sterility, loss of creative power.
Even creativity is prefabricated.
We have become impotent. We are no longer able to create. That is our real illiteracy.
There was a wonderfully illustrative story which I thought I had bookmarked, but couldn't re-find: it was the story of a man whose know-it-all neighbor had once claimed in passing that the best way to remove a chimney from your house was to knock out the fireplace, wait for the bricks to drop down one level, knock out those bricks, and repeat until the chimney was gone. Years later, when the man wanted to remove his own chimney, this cached thought was lurking, waiting to pounce...

As the man noted afterward—you can guess it didn't go well—his neighbor was not particularly knowledgeable in these matters, not a trusted source. If he'd questioned the idea, he probably would have realized it was a poor one. Some cache hits we'd be better off recomputing. But the brain completes the pattern automatically—and if you don't consciously realize the pattern needs correction, you'll be left with a completed pattern.

I suspect that if the thought had occurred to the man himself—if he'd personally had this bright idea for how to remove a chimney—he would have examined the idea more critically. But if someone else has already thought an idea through, you can save on computing power by caching their conclusion—right?

In modern civilization particularly, no one can think fast enough to think their own thoughts. If I'd been abandoned in the woods as an infant, raised by wolves or silent robots, I would scarcely be recognizable as human. No one can think fast enough to recapitulate the wisdom of a hunter-gatherer tribe in one lifetime, starting from scratch. As for the wisdom of a literate civilization, forget it.

But the flip side of this is that I continually see people who aspire to critical thinking, repeating back cached thoughts which were not invented by critical thinkers.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
So, I talked to Steve on the phone [about adding a standard pen and penholder]. I said, “Look Steve. You know, you’ve made something that is perfect for 2-year-olds and perfect for 92-year-olds. But everybody in-between learns to use tools.”

And he says, “Well, people lose their pens.”

And I said, “Well, have a place to put it.”

The Look

Strephon kissed me in the spring,
      Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
      And never kissed at all.

Strephon’s kiss was lost in jest,
      Robin’s lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin’s eyes
      Haunts me night and day.

The horseman serves the horse,
The neatherd serves the neat,
The merchant serves the purse, 
The eater serves his meat;
'T is the day of the chattel,
Web to weave, and corn to grind;
Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind.

There are two laws discrete,
Not reconciled,--
Law for man, and law for thing;
The last builds town and fleet,
But it runs wild,
And doth the man unking.
'T is fit the forest fall,
The steep be graded,
The mountain tunnelled,
The sand shaded,
The orchard planted,
The glebe tilled,
The prairie granted,
The steamer built.

Let man serve law for man;
Live for friendship, live for love,
For truth's and harmony's behoof;
The state may follow how it can,
As Olympus follows Jove.

"Ode Inscribed to W. H. Channing"
What gets me though is most IT people can't even grok people's facial expressions, but they'll trust anything that claims it measures “the average user”.
Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty — so, obviously, thinking must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom.
"A Call to Greatness" (1954)
Still, in the universities or in any other institution, you can often find some dissidents hanging around in the woodwork—and they can survive in one fashion or another, particularly if they get community support. But if they become too disruptive or too obstreperous—or you know, too effective—they're likely to be kicked out. The standard thing, though, is that they won't make it within the institutions in the first place, particularly if they were that way when they were young—they'll simply be weeded out somewhere along the line. So in most cases, the people who make it through the institutions and are able to remain in them have already internalized the right kinds of beliefs: it's not a problem for them to be obedient, they already are obedient, that's how they got there. And that's pretty much how the ideological control system perpetuates itself in the schools—that's the basic story of how it operates, I think.
I know what it looks like when a person is thinking -- even fallaciously or sloppily, but still rubbing neurons together -- and I know what it looks like when a person is bullshitting to give the appearance of thought when they really have nothing at all going on upstairs.
If you're going to work strictly by the short-term numbers, you might as well be the bubonic plague. "Good news! We're up 32% in London! Quarterly bonuses for all the fleas, and gift cards for the rats at the all-hands!"
Really? The former boss of the largest organization of mathematicians who literally spend their days in windowless buildings listening in on other people's conversations is calling everyone else shut-ins? REALLY?!
Recipe for getting things done:

1. Place every new & cool technology into mental quarantine for 3-5 years. 2. If, after that: a) the tech is still widely used, and doesn't seem to be getting overtaken by something else b) you're about to start a NEW project where the tech would help c) you're not in a rush and feel like trying something new

...then go for it.

Learning complex tech that just arrived is a waste of your life, if you want to accomplish things. It's only useful if your aim is to appear knowledgeable and "in the loop" to your developer peers.
You can't restart the internet. Trillions of dollars depend on a rickety cobweb of unofficial agreements and "good enough for now" code with comments like "TODO: FIX THIS IT'S A REALLY DANGEROUS HACK BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S WRONG" that were written ten years ago.
Freedom in the future will require us to have the capacity to monitor our devices and set meaningful policies for them; to examine and terminate the software processes that runs on them; and to maintain them as honest servants to our will, not as traitors and spies working for criminals, thugs, and control freaks.
People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
He watched on. Now that he had changed sides to the SS, he admired the strength of Fritz and the police man even more. He finally had left the camp of those who were wretched enough to let themselves be bludgeoned like that. He was glad to have made his choice. He did no longer have to fear the suspicion of the masters. He was on the side of good. The beatings the men received hardened his consciousness to embody good. One cannot receive beatings and be right, one cannot be dirty, eat garbage and be right.
"The human race"
The concentration camps, by making death itself anonymous (making it impossible to find out whether a prisoner is dead or alive), robbed death of its meaning as the end of a fulfilled life. In a sense they took away the individual’s own death, proving that henceforth nothing belonged to him and he belonged to no one. His death merely set a seal on the fact that he had never existed.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"