Quote of the Day postsFriday February 26, 2010
Quote of the Day
"You're not so nice and polite in your fiction," he said. "You're a different person."
"I should hope so."
—E.I. Lonoff talking to Nathan Zuckerman in Philip Roth's "The Ghost Writer," an underrated classic.
Quote of the Other Day — Republican Incoherence and You
“On every single major issue of the day, [the Republicans] are incoherent. They have no workable plans to insure the uninsured and no practical way to contain healthcare costs; most deny climate change even exists; most seek to prolong wars because ... er, we have to be tough; their response to the massive debt is to defend Medicare and call for tax cuts; their position on civil rights is that gay people need to go to Jesus; their position on terror suspects is to detain them and torture them, violating domestic and international law; their position on immigration is to round up millions and force them to go home.
”My worry, however, is that there are enough Americans perfectly happy to live with this nihilism indefinitely, and to perpetuate the policies of spend-and-borrow and invade-and-occupy that any serious attempt to address our problems is impossible. And their response to that will be to blame all those problems on a Democratic president, if there is one; and if there's a Republican president, to simply deny that any of the problems exist at all.
—Andrew Sullivan, “Tactics Over Strategy”
Mickey on the DH
"After all, what keeps baseball going? It's the records. People are always talking about records, and if you elminate the records, the game loses a lot of its romance. Yet that's what they're doing. They are making records easier to erase."
—Mickey Mantle on the advent of the designated hitter in 1973, with obvious repurcussions for today; from the book, "Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid: The Year That Changed Baseball Forever," by John Rosengren
Rebuttal? Joe Posnanski argues that most baseball records are hardly as sacrosanct, or as pure, as we imagine them to be; that many factors—some as small as a strike zone, some as big as a ballpark—help create even the purer records:
Stuff usually isn’t black or white, up or down, left or right. It’s complicated. Carlton Fisk, of all people, should know that. If it makes people feel better to shout “fraud” in a crowded theater, hey, it’s a free country. But it seems to me there’s already enough noise out there.
Welcome to the Loser's Club
"This is the point, to me, where art and fandom coincide. Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake, a challenge that seeks the password, a heliograph flashed from a tower window, an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing. ... Art, like fandom, asserts the possibility of fellowship in a world built entirely from the materials of solitude. The novelist, the cartoonist, the songwriter, knows that the gesture is doomed from the beginning but makes it anyway, flashes his or her bit of mirror, not on the chance that the signal will be seen or understood but as if such a chance existed...
"Though I derive a sense of strength and confidence from writing and from my life as a husband and father, those pursuits are notoriously subject to endless setbacks and the steady exposure of shortcomings, weakness, and insufficiency—in particular in the raising of children. A father is a man who fails every day. Sometimes things work out: Your flashed message is received and read, your song is rerecorded by another band and goes straight to No. 1, you son blesses the memory of the day you helped him arrange the empty chairs of his foredoomed dream, your act of last-ditch desperation sends your comic-book company to the top of the industry. Success, however, does nothing to diminish the knowledge that failure stalks everything you do. But you always knew that. Nobody gets past the age of ten without that knowledge. Welcome to the club."
—Michael Chabon, "The Loser's Club," from the book Manhood for Amateurs
Clay Shirky Quote of the Day
"It is our misfortune to live through the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race, a misfortune because surplus always breaks more things than scarcity. Scarcity means valuable things become more valuable, a conceptually easy change to integrate. Surplus, on the other hand, means previously valuable things stop being valuable, which freaks people out.
"To make a historical analogy with the last major increase in the written word, you could earn a living in 1500 simply by knowing how to read and write. The spread of those abilities in the subsequent century had the curious property of making literacy both more essential and less professional; literacy became critical at the same time as the scribes lost their jobs.
"The same thing is happening with publishing; in the 20th century, the mere fact of owning the apparatus to make something public, whether a printing press or a TV tower, made you a person of considerable importance. Today, though, publishing, in its sense of making things public, is becoming similarly de-professionalized; YouTube is now in the position of having to stop 8 year olds from becoming global publishers of video. The mere fact of being able to publish to a global audience is the new literacy, formerly valuable, now so widely available that you can't make any money with the basic capability any more.
"This shock of inclusion, where professional media gives way to participation by two billion amateurs (a threshold we will cross this year) means that average quality of public thought has collapsed; when anyone can say anything any time, how could it not? If all that happens from this influx of amateurs is the destruction of existing models for producing high-quality material, we would be at the beginning of another Dark Ages.
"So it falls to us to make sure that isn't all that happens."
—Clay Shirky, in a collection of World Question Center pieces