Archive for November 21st, 2011

Reddit thought experiment

November 21, 2011 | By | Reply More
Reddit thought experiment

Check out this post on Reddit: “What would you say to your 15 year old self if you could phone him/her up right now? -but you can only talk to them for a total of 15 seconds.”

Well worth a read. It got me thinking, but I haven’t come up with any worthy 15-second advice for my 15-year old self. Sure, I could advise on investment strategies, but that seems to demean the question. Nor would I want to deprive myself of unpleasant (or even dangerous) experiences that I know that I actually pulled through. To do so would be to deprive myself of significant learning experiences.

Perhaps I would tell myself: Many of your biggest regrets will occur because you forgot to be self-critical and when, instead, you followed the crowd.

This Reddit question reminded me of the following Nietzsche quote:

The greatest weight.– What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”

Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?… Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?

–from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, s.341, Walter Kaufmann transl.


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Quotes on Liberty

November 21, 2011 | By | Reply More
Quotes on Liberty

A DI reader named Mike Baker offered me his large collection of quotes for reprinting here. Today’s installment of quotes are on the topic of Liberty and Human Rights.

The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to “create” rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting. — Justice William J. Brennan

It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. ~ Albert Camus

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” –Frederick Douglass

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809)

Tolerance is ennobling, which is why we should teach it to our children. Pluralism is insurance against tyranny, which is why we should demand it of our government. To speak up for even the most despised minorities is both morally right and politically prudent.” ~ Steven Landsburg

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one. –Albert Einstein

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
-Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again. -Ronald Reagan

If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too. -W. Somerset Maugham

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.” -Patrick Henry

Fear is not the natural state of civilized people. ~ Aung San Suu Kyi

Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ”Am I my brother’s keeper?” That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death. ~ Eugene V. Debs

States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions. ~ Noam Chomsky

The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don’t agree with. ~Eleanor Holmes Norton

Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. ~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty.
It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.
He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression;
for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
~ Thomas Paine, “Dissertations on First Principles of Government”, 1795


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Signs at Occupy Protests

November 21, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
Signs at Occupy Protests

Here are a few Occupy protest signs that seemed especially well worded:

  • If they enforced bank regulation like they do park rules, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
  • I can’t afford my own politician, so I made this sign.
  • They Play, We Pay!
  • Maybe the hippies are onto something.
  • This country was built by men in denim and will be destroyed by men in suits.
  • For sale: America
  • When the rich rob the poor, it’s called “business.”  When the poor fight back, it’s called “violence.”
  • I am a born again American.
  • Wall Street needs adult supervision.

Some of these signs can be viewed here. And here is another such site.  And see here.


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