Quote of the Day postsTuesday July 29, 2014
Quote of the Day
“We are only allowed to live one life: it’s the human condition, there’s no escaping it. In my view, only by studying the humanities can we hope to escape this fundamental limitation and understand how other people live. Because literature, history, or philosophy all provide extraordinary windows on the world. Foreign languages, too, are fundamental.
”The French language gave me an entrée into another culture. It allowed me to discover different means of expression, a different way of life, different values, a different system of thought. Because when you’re a judge and you spend your whole day in front of a computer screen, it’s important to be able to imagine what other people’s lives might be like, lives that your decisions will affect. People who are not only different from you, but also very different from each other. So, yes, reading is a very good thing for a judge to do. Reading makes a judge capable of projecting himself into the lives of others, lives that have nothing in common with his own, even lives in completely different eras or cultures. And this empathy, this ability to envision the practical consequences on one’s contemporaries of a law or a legal decision, seems to me to a crucial quality in a judge.“
-- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, ”On Reading Proust," interviewed in The New York Review of Books, Nov. 2013. The interview was originally conducted in French and published in La Revue des Deux Mondes in Paris as part of a special issue entitled “Proust vu d’Amérique.”
Quote of the Day
“Our teachers’ best qualities—their sense of humor, their love for the subject, their excitement, their interest in students as individuals—are not being honored or valued, because those qualities aren’t measurable.”
-- Tim Callahan, spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, which represents 84,000 teachers, in Rachel Aviv's devastating New Yorker article on the perils of applying corporate philosophy to education: “Wrong Answer: In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school makes a shocking choice.” It's not just our school systems, of course; most jobs are increasingly data-driven. So much is about the quantity and rarely about the quality. We now live in an era in which people are judged by numbers while corporations are judged as people. See Bunk for an appropriate response to all of this.
Quote of the Day
Andrew Sullivan again. He riffs off of Tom Ricks' post, “Why Am I Moving Left?” by listing off some of the reasons he himself is not embracing the Bush/Cheney/Gingrich/Cruz/Ryan GOP, including its defense of torture, its ideological blindness, various issues regarding racism, sexism, and homophobia, and its political brinkmanship:
In fact, from that first stimulus vote on, Obama faced a unanimous and relentless nullification Congress. If he favored something, they opposed it. Despite Obama’s exemplary family life, public grace and composure, and willingness to compromise, they decided to cast him as a tyrant, a radical, a traitor and an incompetent. Their demonization of a decent, pragmatic man simply disgusts me to the core.
Amen. And I'm sorry so many Americans are too stupid to see this.
A decent, pragmatic man, too long demonized.
Miss Me Yet? Part VII
“I went to a communications meeting the day after Jeffords switched. I remember feeling like I was looking at people who had won a reality-game ticket to head up the White House. There was this remarkable combination of hubris, excitement, and staggering ignorance.
”Someone made the suggestion that perhaps the president should call the new majority leader. And it’s like, Well, I’m not sure that’s really necessary. Margaret Tutwiler [assistant to the president and special adviser for communications] was there, and I remember her sitting at the head of the table, her eyes just sort of wide, and she sort of lost it. She’s like, Are you fricking kidding me? She goes, The president of the United States calls the new majority leader. The president of the United States calls the new minority leader, right? The president does these things because, you know, these things have to be done.
“And, you know, people around the table—Karl [Rove], Karen [Hughes]—all these people were like, Oh, well, do we have to? It was like an absolutely serious debate.”
-- David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, from Vanity Fair's ”An Oral History of the Bush Administration"
Quote of the Day
“How can Putin really manage this? You’d need to be an amazing conductor. Stalin was an amazing conductor in this way. Putin can’t quite pull off this trick. The audience is warmed up and ready to go; it is wound up and waiting for more and more conflict. You can’t just say, ‘Calm down.’ It’s a dangerous moment. Today, forty per cent of Russia wants real war with Ukraine. Putin himself doesn’t want war with Ukraine. But people are responding to this media machine. Putin needs to lower the temperature.”
--former Putin adviser Gleb Pavlovsky in Moscow (to the New Yorker's David Remnick) a few weeks before Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, most likely by Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists.