node created 2019/09/29
Strikingly, no concern was voiced over the glaringly obvious fact that no official reason was ever offered for going to war -- no reason, that is, that could not be instantly refuted by a literate teenager.
I feel like the inability to focus for long periods of time is holding back progress in many areas. If we can't even stay away from email for a few days, how can we clear our minds of conventional thinking?
[..] we must defend not only our own right to freedom, but also other people’s rights. This is because when other people’s right to freedom is violated, our freedom exists only in name. [..] Freedom is the embodiment of independent will and thought. [..] If we are to oppose tyranny and respect independence, then the oppression embedded within and between cultures should all be destroyed. [..] even in researching and learning, our thoughts are not as free as we think they are. Under the impact of complicated thoughts, shameless suppression and temptation, defending your freedom of thought has become very difficult. We usually believe that learning can make you powerful, but in the process, our independent will or freedom of thought is often hijacked, wittingly or unwittingly. Everyone thinks that learning is a good thing, but if we lose our independent will or freedom of thought, the outcome might be even worse than not learning. Schopenhauer once said in his essay On Reading and Books: “They have read themselves stupid. If you are eager to learn, it is important that you understand this idea.” [..] Anyone who reads only one type of book or answers to one authority is essentially using books to build a jail that imprisons their thoughts. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that our ancestors invented books in the shape of bricks? [..] the concept of “freedom and the pursuit of non-material goals” is incredibly important, but also incredibly fragile. Not only does it allow us to pursue our own lives, it also prevents us from becoming tools of crime. It is humanity’s first line of defense, or we should say the last. Actually, it’s the sole line of defense. [..] Freedom is not a handout, we need to earn it with our efforts. You can lock up my body but you can never imprison my will. [..] Towards the end, as always, I’d like to share with you my life motto, a famous saying by Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
Meaningful writing has a purpose beyond that of simple entertainment or of generating conversation. Its purpose is to improve society, to improve our life, by teaching us certain truths that the author has learned. John Ruskin puts it well in his essay on books, Of Kings' Treasuries, by saying that good books give us sight. By teaching us what to look for, and the value of those things, we learn to tell apart the good from the bad, to pass better judgements using our sharpened vision. We grow and become wiser. And that is the only sort of writing that ever improves us as people because all the rest, information and entertainment, it just passes by and leaves us in the same state that we are when we first come into contact with it.
Still the element of criminals must not be missing from any concentration camp. [..] the fact that nearly without exception they compromise the aristocracy of the camps and fulfill administrative duties, shows clearly that it is much harder to kill the juridical person of a human who is guilty of someone, than of someone who is innocent. The rise of criminals into the aristocracy of the camps is similar to the improvement that happens in the juridical situation of the stateless, who also lost their rights as citizens, when they resolve to commit a theft.
"Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft", S. 656
Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.
[..] any writer who adopts the totalitarian outlook, who finds excuses for persecution and the falsification of reality, thereby destroys himself as a writer. There is no way out of this. No tirades against ‘individualism’ and the ‘ivory tower’, no pious platitudes to the effect that ‘true individuality is only attained through identification with the community’, can get over the fact that a bought mind is a spoiled mind. Unless spontaneity enters at some point or another, literary creation is impossible, and language itself becomes something totally different from what it is now, we may learn to separate literary creation from intellectual honesty. At present we know only that the imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. Any writer or journalist who denies that fact — and nearly all the current praise of the Soviet Union contains or implies such a denial — is, in effect, demanding his own destruction.
"The Prevention of Literature" (1946)
Only the strong go crazy. The weak just go along.
[..]

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"
The greatest calamity which could befall us would be submission to a government of unlimited powers.
I know of no more encouraging fact than the ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. It is something to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so make a few objects beautiful. It is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. This morally we can do.
Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.
I got to write these jokes. So, I sit at the hotel at night and I think of something that's funny. Or, If the pen is too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of wasn't funny.
Everywhere I look, I see compounding dysfunction. I see the gears within the dysfunction. I see the people turning the thumbscrews of the people fixing the gears so that the machine becomes the thumbscrew crushing the world.
War is a massacre between people not knowing each other in behoof of people knowing, but not massacring each other.
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)
The driving idea behind denialism was always to delay action for a few decades. Well that worked perfectly. Now they will move on to saying it's all too late for gradual mitigation, and they can swoop in with highly expensive adaptation measures, publicly funded in perpetuity. This stage of rentier/disaster capitalism could be what pushes our global civilisation off the cliff.
All fine architectural values are human values, else not valuable.
"The Living City" (1958)
The average honey bee only makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of excess honey in their lifetime.

The average skeptic/cynic makes none.
SaaS is more closed than closed: you control nothing, not even your data, and can trivially be spied on and monetized in other questionable ways. The fact that some of the pieces of a SaaS site are open source is meaningless and changes nothing.