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“It [providence] has shown the heaven and earth to every child, and filled him with a desire of the whole; a desire raging, infinite; a hunger, as of space to be filled with planets; a cry of famine, as of devils for souls. Then for the satisfaction, – to each man is administered a single drop, a bead of dew of vital power, per day, a copy as large as space, and one drop of the water of life in it.
….

In every house…this chasm is found – between the largest promise of ideal power, and the shabby experience”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Writings p376

0 Vizzini…

Golda to Booknotes, RandomWrites  

Just finished “Its kind of a Funny Story”, great book, looked up the author and found he committed suicide in 2013, 9 years after he wrote the book about depression and real friends and creativity and his 5 days in a psych ward.

And tried to find his writings, like blogs, and found this – another fan, her words made a lot of sense to me:

“If there is one thing I have learned from Vizzini, it’s that struggles are not written in pencil. You can’t erase the past, and if you try to cross it out, it only looks worse. If you try to rip out the pages of your story that you don’t like, the book won’t make any sense.”

https://twloha.com/blog/thank-you-ned-vizzini/

In the intro, Hamilton wrote

“It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

And, he expected Americans, common man in the street, to read it! Its ok to communicate complex ideas to each other, really it is…

Just finished reading Eliyahu Goldratt’s The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. I liked it fairly well, found it actually pretty inspiring about 2/3 of the way through, but he lost me at the end when he seemed to imply that his Theory of Constraints could solve every problem known to business, education or human endeavor. Its the be-all-end-all syndrome that is so prevalent with consultants and trainers, because the success of consultancy is dependent on being The One with the answers.

The thing is, its ok to have a fairly good and somewhat original idea, that is sometimes helpful. That’s better than average and its a good thing. Nothing in this book is earth-shaking, but it does show some effective sounding approaches for optimizing messy, dependent chains of operations. It has enough concrete details that it convinces me that the author knows at least something about manufacturing. And the idea of searching for bottlenecks, constraints and maximum leverage is a good one to keep in mind. Its an easy read and worth an afternoon, just skip over the puffery stuff at the end.

I really like these quotes from his debate with Douglass: “This they said and this they meant (the equality of those certain unalienable rights). They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated….the assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use.” — quoted in Stephen Prothero’s The American Bible p.80

I think this is a key point, that declaring what is right or just describing an idea has power even though the writer doesn’t have the ability to enforce or implement it, and may not in their lifetime.

Quotes from Shoot an Iraqi by Wafaa Bilal and Kari Lydersen.

Thought-provoking book…raw, kind of a flat humor without hatred even though a US military drone killed his brother, and Saddam killed numerous other family members. Some quotes :

“Solitude was such sweetness to me that it was worth risking my life for some time alone” – when staying at an aunt’s empty house in Kufa during bombing, because he wanted to paint

I love this geography professor – “A joke started to circulate about [Ba'ath] Party officials telling a geography professor he must integrate party philosophy into his lessons. “How? I teach geography.” They insisted. So he told his students “Iraq used to have a cold, wet climate in the winter and a hot, dry climate in the summer, without a drop of rain.” (which is the reality). “But,” he’d continue, “thanks to the Ba’ath Party, it’s nice all year round now.” ”

“He (a cousin in Kufa) was arrested (for being a member of the Dawa Party, a militant Shia religious party), and later his body was returned to the family along with a bill for 72 dinars for the bullets used to execute him. He had been an only son…Later, the government sent my cousin’s family a letter saying the accusation had been a mistake, and apologizing for the wrongful execution.”

“In times of extreme desperation, in the face of adversity, sometimes the only thing that saves us is our own irrational capacity for pride and egotism, a faith in ourselves that has perhaps no logical basis but pulls us through nontheless” (relating to the character in Cast Away

He says that Terence Young, director of James Bond 007, helped Saddam create a fake ‘war crime’ video of a soldier being torn apart by trucks that Saddam used to stir up support for the start of the Iran-Iraq war. He said Young also worked on the pro-Saddam biopic The Long Days. This is supported by this site: http://www.mi6-hq.com/sections/articles/terence_young_saddam.php3 At the time Young made ‘The Long Days’ Saddam was considered a pro-Western ruler. The site does not mention the fake war crime footage.

About living in a refugee camp: “When the Americans were there, they would clean the communal bathrooms every day. But after they left, no one wanted to clean the bathrooms, and they quickly became filthy.”

“I just want to emphasize the point that we are disconnected from reality”

This seems really key to me. Most people are decent if they have their eyes open to what is going on and how it affects others. But we hide stuff and let it be hidden from us because its annoying, inconvenient and disturbing, so we just let it happen ’somewhere else’.
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Also this seemed very significant to me, about the male role in Arab culture:

” I realized that buried under that layer of cruelty he [Wafaa's father] was a very sentimental person….People see Arab culture as a patriarchal system that oppresses women, which it is, but men are also oppressed – they oppress themselves with the rigid expectations and roles they must fill or else be shunned. In this vise-like social grip, my father repressed all his frustrations and shattered dreams and humiliations, ending up with nothing but the cruel and crazy outbursts.”

Made a good haul at the Book Stop on 4th Ave recently – they have an excellent collection of classic sci-fi, as well as really good kids authors like Avi and Roald Dahl.

Bandersnatch by Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. A first novel, which I generally like – fresh if sometimes rough. Here’s a book-length fable to go with Hillel’s “If I’m not for myself, who will be?” – in Bandersnatch’s world, if you don’t stick up for yourself you become a target fast.

Just finished the old Jack Finney Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (had to read it because of the title, I have a theory about corporations being subject to real-life bodysnatching ;-) . Good read, convincing characters, plot ok – and I love the moral : yeah its hopeless but that’s exactly when you need to fight hardest against the bastards. They just might give up if you hit ‘em hard enough.

0 Books to check out…

Golda to Booknotes  

That man : http://www.roberthjackson.org/the-man/books/that-man/ about FDR

Wanda Gag’s papers…but not avail online. There is a biography by Karen Hoyle but not an autobio.

Anything by William Greider : http://williamgreider.com/

been meaning to read Count Zero by William Gibson. Neuromancer was my introduction to the idea of cyber-immortality, many years back.

Citizen Journalism (Global Crises and the Media) Stuart/Einar
We the Media Dan Gillmore

The original book the children’s book Mother to Tigers was based on

More stuff on L. da Vinci, he is way cool.

Going to read shortly: Ruby Best Practices, and Clean Code

“I’ve learned that big projects have three stages: fantasy, dream and plan. The fantasy stage is all in your head, obviously, but eventually you decide you’re ready to get a little bit more real. The dream stage is where you actually start thinking about the project in practical terms. After the dream you start planning and doing, and that’s when reality strikes. You never succeed in fulfilling a fantasy, almost by definition, because its’s just a fantasy. But the fantasy is what catches the imagination and provides motivation.” — Ugo Conti, in an interview by Todd Lappin for MAKE Magazine.