Commonplace Book of Quotations for July

“... It was the fixation of businessmen that the WPA did nothing but lean on shovels. I had an uncle who was particularly irritated at shovel-leaning. When he pooh-poohed my contention that shovel-leaning was necesary, I bet him five dollars, which I didn’t have, that he couldn’t shovel sand for fifteen timed minutes without stopping. He said a man should give a good day’s work and grabbed a shovel. At the end of three minutes his face was red, at six he was staggering and before eight minutes were up his wife stopped him to save him from apoplexy. And he never mentioned shovel-leaning again.“ (John Steinbeck, “Primer on the ‘30s", anthologized in America and Americans )

“Colleges must counter the experience of conventional high school education in the United States, where learning is little more than a standardized test-driven chore with utilitarian benefits. In college, students should discover that most of the important writings and discoveries they will study were not generated for their benefit, but rather came into being in order to illuminate and improve life.”
(Leon Botstein)

“Revolutions are always impolite because the upper classes have never taught manners to the people.” (Leon Trotsky)

“... The supposed rise of the “mama grizzlies” of the right, has obscured where things really are with women in politics. One in six members of Congress is female; out of a total of 535 seats, Republican women hold only 21, or 4 percent. It’s hardly an onslaught.” ( Julia Baird)

“The motor of accumulation has been sputtering for nearly four decades, and its coughs can be heard again now that the roar of combusting paper wealth is dying down. This doesn’t mean capitalism or even growth is at an end. Economists of all kinds have pinned their hopes on the transformation of laboring and saving Chinese into hardy consumers. In any case, the US consumer—a ravening appetite in a paper house—appears to be finished as the world’s buyer of last resort. It would add a nice dialectical twist to the future history of our period if it could be said that, around the time the post-Maoist Chinese took up shopping, the post-bubble Americans turned to studying Marx.” (n+1, uncredited)

“Professional historians were in danger of killing off history, he [Hugh Trevor-Roper] wrote, just as philosophers were killing off philosophy, through a misplaced zeal for ‘unimportant truth’. He therefore committed himself to promoting history as a public discourse aimed at helping ordinary readers to understand the world in which they live... By bringing history “down to earth”, Gibbon and the other Enlightenment historians had contributed more to the discombobulation of know-nothing theologians than any number of philosophers would ever be able to do... if skeptical secularism is to get a new lease of life, perhaps it needs a little more history and a little less philosophy, more explanation and less indignation.” ( Jonathan Rée)

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” (Unknown comment on Wonkette)

Whereas in the late 17th and early 18th century, an orange rock guy wearing a beard and a pirate costume is de rigueur for the Caribbean. Why? ‘Cause comic books, that’s why.

" 'Everything I'm doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement's at,' [Lindsey] Graham said. . . . On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was 'very, very contentious,' he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: ' 'What do you want to do? You take back your country -- and do what with it?'. . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.'”
(The New York Times Magazine)

“Most media outlets have someone parked in Ballroom 20 and someone parked in Hall H, writing about the big developments in both rooms, and that makes it seem like the only stuff going on at the Con is the big set of announcements from the major studios and networks. There's a whole other world of weird, hyper-personal geekery that flows around the edges of the stuff that gets written about... So much of Comic-Con is about making you forget what you really love to replace it with a temporary high that clinging to the things that truly mean something to you becomes that much more important.”
(Todd VanDerWurff)

"The opposite of war isn't peace, its creation."
(A character in Rent)

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