barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
"There's more--there has to be more--to being heroes than simply defeating villains. You have a role, a purpose far greater than yourselves. You have to set examples, lead the way. You represent what we should be, what we dream of becoming, not what we are."

(Ms. Marvel in an Avengers comic written by Chris Claremont)




It also reminds me of a bit that Delirium says to her brother Dream in a brief moment of clarity in Gaiman's Sandman:

"The things we do make echos. S'pose f'rinstance, you stop on a street corner and admire a brilliant fork of lightning — zap! Well, for ages after people and things will stop on that very same corner, stare up at the sky. They wouldn't even know what they were looking for. Some of them might see a ghost bolt of lightning in the street. Some of them might even be killed by it. Our existence deforms the universe. That's responsibility."
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
“As for Charlotte herself, I had never paid much attention to spiders until a few years ago. Once you begin watching spiders, you haven’t time for much else—-the world is really loaded with them. I do not find them repulsive or revolting, any more than I find anything in nature repulsive or revolting, and I think it is too bad that children are often corrupted by their elders in this hate campaign. Spiders are skillful, amusing and useful, and only in rare instances has anybody ever come to grief because of a spider.”
--E.B. White
barnabas_truman: (kimiko)
A conversation between a paleontologist and a police special agent:

"Bureaucrats! They might have known this [social unrest] would happen, if they'd properly studied Catastrophist theory. It is a concatenation of synergistic interactions; the whole system is on the period-doubling route to Chaos!"

"What does that mean, pray?"

"Essentially, in layman's terms, it means that everything gets twice as bad, twice as fast, until everything falls completely apart!"

(from The Difference Engine by Gibson & Sterling, pp 210-211)
barnabas_truman: (math)
The greatest progress is in the sciences that study the simplest systems. So take, say physics -- greatest progress there. But one of the reasons is that the physicists have an advantage that no other branch of sciences has. If something gets too complicated, they hand it to someone else. If a molecule is too big, you give it to the chemists. The chemists, for them, if the molecule is too big or the system gets too big, you give it to the biologists. And if it gets too big for them, they give it to the psychologists, and finally it ends up in the hands of the literary critic, and so on.

(from Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong)
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
This is one of my favorite parts of Grapes of Wrath, and I keep wanting to quote it and then having trouble finding it, so I'm putting it here for future reference.

"Fella named Hines-got 'bout thirty thousan' acres, peaches and grapes-got a cannery an' a winery. Well, he's all a time talkin' about 'them goddamn reds.' 'Goddamn reds is drivin' the country to ruin,' he says, an" 'We got to drive these here red bastards out.' Well, they were a young fella jus' come out west here, an' he's listenin' one day. He kinda scratched his head an' he says, 'Mr. Hines, I ain't been here long. What is these goddamn reds?' Well, sir, Hines says, 'A red is any son-of-a-bitch that wants thirty cents an hour when we're payin' twenty-five!' Well, this young fella he thinks about her, an' he scratches his head, an' he says, 'Well, Jesus, Mr. Hines. I ain't a son-of-a-bitch, but if that's what a red is-why, I want thirty cents an hour. Ever'body does. Hell, Mr. Hines, we're all reds.'"
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
"People always think of technology as something having silicon in it. But a pencil is technology. Any language is technology. Technology is a tool we use to accomplish a particular task and when one talks about appropriate technology in developing countries, appropriate may mean anything from fire to solar electricity."

--Mae Jemison, first black woman in space
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
J.R.R. Tolkien, in a 1945 letter to his son about the bombing of Germany by Allied forces, wrote:


We were supposed to have reached a stage of civilization in which it might still be necessary to execute a criminal, but not to gloat, or to hang his wife and child by him while the orc-crowd hooted. The destruction of Germany, be it 100 times merited, is one of the most appalling world-catastrophes. Well, well, — you and I can do nothing about it. And that should be a measure of the amount of guilt that can justly be assumed to attach to any member of a country who is not a member of its actual Government. Well the first War of the Machines seems to be drawing to its final inconclusive chapter—leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: the Machines.
barnabas_truman: (Default)
You've certainly heard a snippet of this before, and you may have heard the whole thing before, but everyone needs to hear this speech at least once.

barnabas_truman: (Default)
This is quite possibly the most inspiring video ever. Thank you, Carl Sagan, wherever you are.

barnabas_truman: (Default)
What has the future in store for this strange being, born of a breath, of perishable tissue, yet Immortal, with his powers fearful and Divine? What magic will be wrought by him in the end? What is to be his greatest deed, his crowning achievement?

Wow. Sounds like the sort of thing an advanced alien from Star Trek would muse after being impressed by Kirk's or Picard's ingenuity, but it's Tesla all the way. What insight. We need more science fiction that inspires this sort of hope for humanity. Moreover, we need more reality that inspires this sort of hope for humanity.
barnabas_truman: (Default)
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.

--Howard Thurman
barnabas_truman: (army)
"He who becomes master of a city accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed by it, for in rebellion it has always the watchword of liberty and its ancient privileges as a rallying point, which neither time nor benefits will ever cause it to forget."
barnabas_truman: (Default)
I was just listening to "Keep on the Sunny Side of Life" and it reminded me of my favorite quote from a Magic: the Gathering card, which I shall now share with you.

The willow knows what the storm does not: that the power to endure harm outlives the power to inflict it.
barnabas_truman: (math)
Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?


(from The Feynman Lectures on Physics; source: wikiquote)

Carl Sagan

Sep. 25th, 2009 08:27 pm
barnabas_truman: (math)
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives."

"If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies you will not find another."

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."

"How lucky we are to live in this time: the first moment in human history when we are, in fact, visiting other worlds."

"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. Recently we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting."




What an amazing human. He was like the Mr. Rogers of science.
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
"In a mass market economy, a revolutionary song is any song you choose to sing yourself. Welcome to the revolution."

--Utah Phillips, in "Railroading on the Great Divide"

FDR

Aug. 18th, 2009 11:22 pm
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
"There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936. Pretty awesome quote for any point in history, though. I'm guessing he was referring to another great quote from Luke 12:48, "From him to whom much has been given, much will be expected."
barnabas_truman: (math)
"We ought, then, to regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its anterior state and as the cause of the one which is to follow. Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective situation of the beings who compose it--an intelligence sufficiently vast to submit these data to analysis--it would embrace in the same formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the lightest atom; for it, nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes."

--Pierre-Simon Laplace, Essai philosophique sur la probabilite.
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)


Yev: This place is creeping me out.
Me: Eh, don't worry about it.
Yev: You don't understand! I'm Jewish; our powers are weakened here!


Hazel: These smaller panels must be for cremation ashes.
Me: No, midgets.


Yev: This would be a dangerous place to get buried alive. How would you dig your way out?
Me: Well, you could ask to be buried with a hammer.


Me: I think we're going in circles.
Yev: The walls are shifting to confuse us! Let's split up so we can find the monster easier!


Hazel: Look, they have a number you can call if you want to be buried here.
Me: I'd better write it down so I can call them when I'm ready to be buried.


Hazel: That's a pretty morbid thing to say.
Me: And what better place for it?

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