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Current Topic: Philosophy

An Unfamiliar Entree
Topic: Philosophy 7:11 am EST, Jan 29, 2013

T.S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Michael Finkel:

Moving is what nomads do.

Ariana Kelly:

As phone companies systematically remove pay phones, Amish and Mennonite communities have been building, or rebuilding, their own. Referred to as "phone shanties" and hidden in the woods, behind barns and chicken coops, these "community phones" are intended to isolate contact with the external world and lessen the potential for such contact to divert people's attention from faith, family, and community.

Wade Davis:

Cultures do not exist in some absolute sense; each is but a model of reality, the consequence of one particular set of intellectual and spiritual choices made, however successfully, many generations before.

A lama once remarked that Tibetans do not believe that Americans went to the moon, but they did. Americans may not believe, he added, that Tibetans can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, but they do.

Paul Saffo:

Some years back, the five year-old daughter of a venture capitalist friend announced upon encountering an unfamiliar entree at the family table, "It's new and I don't like it." That became her motto all through primary school, and for all I know, it still is today.

Stephen Colbert:

Fear is like a drug. A little bit isn't that bad, but you can get addicted to the consumption and distribution of it. What's evil is the purposeful distribution of fear. As Paul said when he was faced with the gom jabbar, "Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration."

Robert Frost:

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.

Mind in the Forest
Topic: Philosophy 8:09 am EST, Nov 12, 2009

Scott Russell Sanders:

I wear no watch. I do not hurry.

Freeman Dyson:

At Trinity College, Cambridge, they planted an avenue of trees in the early 18th century, leading up from the river to the college. This avenue of trees grew very big and majestic in the course of 200 years. When I was a student there 50 years ago, the trees were growing a little dilapidated, though still very beautiful. The college decided that for the sake of the future, they would chop them down and plant new ones. Now, 50 years later, the new trees are half grown and already looking almost as beautiful as the old ones. That's the kind of thinking that comes naturally in such a place, where 100 years is nothing.

Arab Proverb:

It is good to know the truth, but it is better to speak of palm trees.


There are certain basic pleasures of the ancient world that one has to work very hard to come by today. We've cut ourselves off from things that even our grandfathers took for granted.

Richard Preston:

From the moment he entered redwood space, Steve Sillett began to see things that no one had imagined. He discovered a lost world above Northern California.

Michiru Hoshino:

Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!

Mind in the Forest

Perfect Failure
Topic: Philosophy 7:59 am EDT, Jun 22, 2009

Paul Tudor Jones:

Today, I want to talk to you about the dirtiest word that any of you 9th graders know. It’s the “F” word.


Failure that is so mortifying and so devastating that it makes you try to become invisible. It makes you want to hide your face, your soul, your being from everyone else because of the shame. Trust me, boys—if you haven’t already tasted that, you will.

One problem with failure: it can stay with you for a very long time.

Now, there are two types of failure you will experience in life. The first type comes from things you can control. That is the worst kind. But there is another form of failure that will be equally devastating to you, and that is the kind beyond your control.

Some things happen to you that at the time will make you feel like the world is coming to an end, but in actuality, there is a very good reason for it. You just can’t see it and don’t know it. When one door closes, another will open, but standing in that hallway can be hell. You just have to persevere.

Some of your greatest successes are going to be the children of failure.

Ira Glass:

If you're not failing all the time, you're not creating a situation where you can get super-lucky.

Perfect Failure

Making Things Work
Topic: Philosophy 8:04 am EDT, Jun 10, 2009

Francis Fukuyama:

Unlike the electrician who knows his work is good when you flip a switch and the lights go on, the average knowledge worker is caught in a morass of evaluations, budget projections and planning meetings.

Matthew Crawford argues that the ideologists of the knowledge economy have posited a false dichotomy between knowing and doing.

Few things I’ve created have given me nearly as much pleasure as those tangible objects that were hard to fabricate and useful to other people. I put my power tools away a few years ago, and find now that I can’t even give them away, because people are too preoccupied with updating their iPhones.

Bruce Sterling:

Poor folk love their cellphones!

Matthew Crawford:

What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day?


I totally need a sign that says "Is it good for the Empire?" in my office.

I have decided to create a new game to make life less boring. At boring meetings, I will only speak in Beck Lyrics.

Inviting 16 people to a meeting is always stupid. Deadlock anyone? Inviting 16 engineers to discuss "the best architecture" is bretarded.

Today I was in a one and a half hour meeting where we discussed colors and stars on a PowerPoint slide.

Making Things Work

The Year of Mathemagical Thinking | TIME
Topic: Philosophy 7:11 pm EDT, Mar 16, 2007

My siblings and I weren't especially close, but we always had that book in common: it was our secret shared nerd bible.

Check out the excerpt.

Back to the review:

I Am a Strange Loop is a work of rigorous thinking, but it's also an extraordinary tribute to the memory of romantic love: The Year of Magical Thinking for mathematicians.

Of course you'll remember:

My fellow nerds and I will retire to the nerdery with our new Hofstadter book.

The Year of Mathemagical Thinking | TIME

That Present 'Neath the Tree I Bought for Me
Topic: Philosophy 9:18 am EST, Dec 19, 2004

For years, I have been ridiculed and maligned for buying my own Christmas presents in a wide price range and selling them to anyone who wishes to give me presents.

This reasonable approach gets exactly what I want and saves the gift giver from having to shop. And we both avoid that awkward moment of exchanging gifts and reassurances about said gifts.

That Present 'Neath the Tree I Bought for Me

What Derrida Really Meant
Topic: Philosophy 11:48 am EDT, Oct 17, 2004

As an Algerian Jew writing in France during the postwar years in the wake of totalitarianism on the right (fascism) as well as the left (Stalinism), Jacques Derrida understood all too well the danger of beliefs and ideologies that divide the world into diametrical opposites: right or left, red or blue, good or evil, for us or against us. He showed how these repressive structures, which grew directly out of the Western intellectual and cultural tradition, threatened to return with devastating consequences. By struggling to find ways to overcome patterns that exclude the differences that make life worth living, he developed a vision that is consistently ethical.

Belief not tempered by doubt poses a mortal danger.

As the process of globalization draws us ever closer in networks of communication and exchange, there is an understandable longing for simplicity, clarity and certainty. This desire is responsible, in large measure, for the rise of cultural conservatism and religious fundamentalism -- in this country and around the world.

The alternative to blind belief is not simply unbelief but a different kind of belief -- one that embraces uncertainty and enables us to respect others whom we do not understand. In a complex world, wisdom is knowing what we don't know so that we can keep the future open.

What Derrida Really Meant

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