277 Articles


3 months Ago

Focused laser-like on the present

Published by marco on

“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose.”
William James

Shit Rolls Downhill as Public Policy

Published by marco on

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.[1]

[1] I can’t help but think that current U.S. President Donald J. Trump is only too aware of this stratagem—because it’s working for him like for nearly no other before him. People are not only emptying their pockets but are nearly sacrificing themselves on the altar of his reputation.

Rising above the muck isn’t even that hard

Published by marco on

“[in America] the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head.”

We’ve known for a long time

Published by marco on

The post Two centuries and nothing has changed referred to the image below,

 Marx on Nature and Human Beings

It’s nicely put together, but it’s also not the original quote, which someone included in the comments in a giant wall of text from an English translation.

I found the original in German:

“Die kapitalistische Produktion entwickelt daher nur die Technik und Kombination des gesellschaftlichen Produktionsprozesses, indem sie zugleich die Springquellen alles Reichtums untergräbt: die Erde und den Arbeiter.”

The... [More]

4 months Ago

Learning from History

Published by marco on

The original quote is shown below.

“Was die Erfahrung aber und die Geschichte lehren, ist dieses, dass Völker und Regierungen niemals etwas aus der Geschichte gelernt und nach Lehren, die aus derselben zu ziehen gewesen wären, gehandelt haben.”

The following is my best attempt at a direct translation, which I hope imparts just how balky the original is.

“But what experience and history have taught, is that society and governments never learn anything from history and acted on lessons from which... [More]”

The sunken cost of being conned

Published by marco on

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

6 months Ago

Eco on Writing

Published by marco on

“Writing is a way of revealing the contradictions of life that one would like to resolve. Writing fiction, like poetry, means simply to display those contradictions but not necessarily to resolve them. In fact, the reader, through his interpretive cooperation, decides what the story means.”

9 months Ago

Beats Thinkin’

Published by marco on

“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking.”
Sir Joshua Reynolds


Published by marco on

“Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”
George Santayana

10 months Ago

If Wishes were Mutexes

Published by marco on

Text Editing Hates You Too (

“Although holding a lock across process boundaries may sound questionable to you, most other platforms try to use imperfect heuristics to fix concurrency issues. Or they just hope race conditions don’t happen. In my experience, prayers are not a very effective concurrency primitive.

Going along to get along

Published by marco on

“[…] getting along in society includes some recognition of not being the worst person you can be even though you have a right to do so.”

On successfully navigating tricky grammatical seas

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“When I look at people that I would like to feel have been a mentor or an inspiring kind of archetype of what I’d love to see my career eventually be mentioned as a footnote for in the same paragraph, it would be, like, Bowie.”
Mark Liberman on November 3, 2005 (Language Log)

Institutionalized Poverty

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“The cause of poverty is not that we’re unable to satisfy the needs of the poor, it’s that we’re unable to satisfy the greed of the rich.”

Incuriosity Killed the Human

Published by marco on

“You barely have to stir or incommode yourself to find things out. The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest… most foolish failing there is,”

1 year Ago

MVP is a lie

Published by marco on

“Written by people with either no time or no money, most software gets shipped the moment it works well enough to let someone go home and see their family. What we get is mostly terrible.”

On Tripping Alone

Published by marco on

“Did the lights just change? Yeah? Good. I don’t mind if that happens. I just want it to happen for everyone.”
Greg Proops


Published by marco on

“Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.”
George Orwell

Film as a way of seeing into the past

Published by marco on

“It’s as if the movie satisfied an impossible yet basic human desire to see what our parents were like before we were born and to see what they did that affected what we became—not to hear about it, or to read about it, as we can in novels, but actually to see it.”
writing about Godfather II by Pauline Kael

A lunar metaphor for corruption

Published by marco on

“He was a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt. Like rotten mackerel by moonlight, he shines and stinks”
said about Edward Livingstone by John Randolph

Unknown Unknowns in Computing

Published by marco on

“A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable.”

No Sense of Humor

Published by marco on

“God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”

2 years Ago

Words to live by

Published by marco on

“To make your passing easier on loved ones, why not be an asshole your whole life?”

Capitalism’s Achilles Heel

Published by marco on

“I think we’ve found the weakness of capitalism: it believes its own grandiose bullshit.”

American Foreign-Policy, in a Nutshell

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“America: You can’t get mad at us for what we do because we haven’t thought about the consequences.”

James Tobin on the ‘paper economy’

Published by marco on

I found this quote in the tooltip of XKCD #2101[1].

“I [suspect] that we are throwing more and more of our resources, including the cream of our youth, into financial activities remote from the production of goods and services, into activities that generate high private rewards disproportionate to their social productivity. I suspect that the immense power of the computer is being harnessed to this ‘paper economy’, not to do the same transactions more economically but to balloon the quantity and... [More]”
James Tobin on July 1984

Why so angry?

Published by marco on

“Rage is by no means an automatic reaction to misery and suffering as such. Only where there is reason to suspect that conditions could be changed, and are not does, rage arise.”
Hannah Arendt

The True Self

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“At sea, a fellow comes out,”
Herman Melville

True Nobility

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“There’s nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.[1]
W.L. Sheldon

[1] The citation is often mis-credited to Ernest Hemingway, but the article at Quote Investigatoroffers quite a bit of clarification.

Hate vs. Envy

Published by marco on

“Unlike the Europeans, Americans have never hated the rich, only envied them.”
Gore Vidal

Stewart Lee on Racism

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“Like all reasonable people, I hate all Muslims. Except the ones I’ve met. They seem fine.”
Comedy Vehicle SO4E02 by Stewart Lee