Friday, December 31, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 31, 2004

"We thought we'd be able to get a pair of dwarfs, but it was
prohibitively expensive. You'd think that you'd be able to get
them for half price, but no."

- Eric Idle on the production problems of recreating the Black
Knight scene on the Broadway stage for "Spamalot", the musical
version of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". Quoted in The
New Yorker, December 20 & 27, 2004, p 173.

Submitted by: John S. Karabaic
Dec. 22, 2004

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 30, 2004

Whites of course have the privilege of not caring, of being
"colorblind." Nobody else does.

- Ursula K. LeGuin, from her essay "Earthsea in Clorox".

Submitted by: Sean Gugler
Dec. 21, 2004

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 29, 2004

"I'm designed intelligently? As far as I can see, I was
designed by an idiot. My parts are neither interchangeable nor
replaceable. I could use a new ankle right now, and almost
everything I do injures my back. Some of my internal organs are
useless, and can even kill me. My risk-calculation engine is
useless. I am afraid to eat beef, but have no problem
catapulting myself down tree-lined roads on my motorcycle. My
judgment is so bad I can be convinced to send my life savings to
a complete stranger with just one phone call.

"The final stake in the heart of intelligent design is that there
are people we might otherwise consider intelligent, who, in the
face of all this, maintain we are functioning as intended."

- Eric Dietiker, Twain Harte, California

[The submitter notes: This rather intriguing take on the issue
was found in letter's section of the December Wired (print

Submitted by: Barry Ritholtz
Dec. 10, 2004

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Monday, December 27, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 27, 2004

"Thoughts give birth to a creative force that is neither
elemental nor sideral. Thoughts create a new heaven, a new
firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow.
When a man undertakes to create something, he establishes a new
heaven, as it were and from it the work that he desires to
create flows into him. For such is the immensity of man that he
is greater than heaven and earth."

- Paracelsus (1493-1541).

Paracelsus was the pseudonym of Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus
Bombastus von Hohenheim.

Submitted by: dglenn
Dec. 6, 2004

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 26, 2004

"Be studious, stay in school and stay away from the military. I
mean it."

- U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Russell Slay, giving instructions to his
5 year old son, Walker. These instructions were sent in a
letter shortly before Stf. Sgt. Slay was killed in Iraq. He
was one of twelve soldiers from Texas killed in November 2004.

[Quoted in the Houston Chronicle,]

Submitted by: Mike McGuffin
Dec. 10, 2004

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 25, 2004

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgment
For I've no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

- Jackson Browne, from his song The Rebel Jesus

[Happy holidays from quotationoftheday! -eds.]

Submitted by: Terry Labach
Dec. 23, 2004

Friday, December 24, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 24, 2004

"Well, that's what happens in Canada when there's no hockey:
guys have more time to hang out, talk about their feelings. The
next thing you know, they're in love with each other. I've got
nothing against it, but I'd rather be playing hockey."

- locked-out hockey player Brett Hull, responding to Amy
Poehler's question of what he thinks of the pending gay
marriage law in Canada. Weekend Update, _Saturday Night Live_,
11 Dec 2004

Submitted by: D. Joseph Creighton
Dec. 14, 2004

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 23, 2004

"There are always unexpected dangers in deaccessioning. An extra
copy of Descartes' _Geometry_, which Trinity [College] had set
aside for sale, turned out to have Isaac Newton's critical
remarks scattered throughout the margins. The most spectacular
example involved not Cambridge, however, but Gottingen University
in Germany. The university library had once owned two copies of
Newton's _Principia_, so they decided to sell the dirty one, all
marked up by some previous owner. Only after the duplicate was
released did someone discover that the critic who messed up the
pages was none other than Newton's rival, Gottfried Wilhelm
Leibniz. That copy of the _Principia_ is now one of the great
treasures of the Bodmeriana Collection in the outskirts of

- Owen Gingerich, _The Book Nobody Read_, p. 26.

Submitted by: Chris Doherty
Dec. 10, 2004

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 22, 2004

I distrust the perpetually busy; always have. The frenetic ones
spinning in tight little circles like poisoned rats. The slower
ones, grinding away their fourscore and ten in righteousness and
pain. They are the soul-eaters.


Ah, but here's the rub: Idleness is not just a psychological
necessity, requisite to the construction of a complete human
being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space
as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a
free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure
out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to
consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By
giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves)
its due. Which is precisely what makes idleness dangerous. All
manner of things can grow out of that fallow soil. Not for
nothing did our mothers grow suspicious when we had "too much
time on our hands." They knew we might be up to something. And
not for nothing did we whisper to each other, when we were up to
something, "Quick, look busy."

- Mark Slouka, "Quitting the Paint Factory", Harper's Magazine,
November 2004.


[The submitter notes: the full essay is long, but quite worth reading]

Submitted by: Chris Doherty
Dec. 14, 2004

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 21, 2004

"Inspiring story of lone policeman's attempt to restore the
meaning of Christmas to some Europeans caught up in holiday

- alternate TV listing for the movie _Die Hard_ submitted by
Jeremy Surbrook to _Seattle Times_ TV columnist Kay McFadden's
"Twisted Christmas" contest.


Submitted by: Jeffrey L. Copeland
Dec. 17, 2004

Monday, December 20, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 20, 2004

"You're not paying us for our time. You're paying us for the
thousands of Saturday nights we stayed home to learn all this

- Robert Stephens, "Chief Inspector" of electronic retailer Best
Buy's in-home service arm, "Geek Squad". Quoted in The Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, 9 December 2004.


Submitted by: Jeffrey L. Copeland
Dec. 9, 2004

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 19, 2004

"You know, the salt water and the atmosphere, the damp climate is
very corrosive on submarines."

- former Canadian Defence Minister David Collenette, explaining
how used British submarines purchased by Canada were damaged
while in storage.


Submitted by: Terry Labach
Dec. 14, 2004

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 18, 2004

"America's female gymnasts were like spunky little fire hydrants
with chipmunk cheeks, and they were all just a teeny bit
interchangeable, like those Hilary/Lindsay/Amanda teen starlets.
But why were they all wearing a thousand clunky barrettes,
gallons of blue eye shadow, and disco glitter in their hair? Did
someone open a big purse and shake it over their heads? Or
before each event, did they just spray themselves with glue and
roll on the floor of a subway?

"The gymnasts also faced a great, villainous rival worthy of a
silent film: the towering, starved Russian, 25-year-old Svetlana
Khorkina. Khorkina always blamed her failures on international
prejudice or deliberate sabotage: She was like Isabella
Rossellini or Charlotte Rampling scoffing at the bouncy cast of a
Disney flick about suburban cheerleaders. Khorkina dared to be a
grandly sore loser, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction or 101
Dalmatians, and I kept waiting for her to light up a cigarette
while she was on the parallel bars."

- Libby Gelman-Waxner, discussing the Olympics in "Premiere"
magazine, November 2004

Submitted by: joel k. thomas
Dec. 16, 2004

Friday, December 17, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 17, 2004

"We will be held accountable for all the permitted pleasures we
failed to enjoy."

- from the Talmud Yerushalmi

Submitted by: NLI
Dec. 6, 2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 16, 2004

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have
not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do."

- Tommy G. Thompson, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human
Services, announcing his resignation on Dec. 3, 2004.


Submitted by: Manavendra Thakur
Dec. 11, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 15, 2004

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion
that it has taken place."

- G.B. Shaw

Submitted by: Jeannette Cezanne
Nov. 17, 2004

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 14, 2004

To understand the Iraqi resistance, I suggest reading the
Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott. He wrote: "Breathes there a man,
with soul so dead, who never to himself has said, this is mine
own, my native land."

- Helen Thomas, columnist and former White House correspondent.


Submitted by: Reddy, Sharon
Nov. 15, 2004

Monday, December 13, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 13, 2004

"You only learn to be a better writer by writing. I don't know
much about creative writing programs. But they're not telling
the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work
and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your
personal life, to be a writer."

- Doris Lessing

Submitted by: Jeannette Cezanne
Dec. 6, 2004

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 12, 2004

"Comfort has its place, but it seems rude to visit another
country dressed as if you've come to mow its lawns."

- David Sedaris, from Me Talk Pretty One Day

Submitted by: Kathleen Magone
Dec. 8, 2004

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 11, 2004

"Laqueur's most recent book, Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of
Masturbation, shares with Making Sex the same startling initial
premise: that something we take for granted, something that goes
without saying, something that simply seems part of being human
has in fact a history, and a fascinating, conflicted, momentous
history at that. Small wonder then that he seemed a person whose
writings and lecture would enliven the semester for the
undergraduates in History and Literature. In fact he did enliven
the semester, but a strange thing happened along the way: there
was a tremendous outbreak of the jitters. Panic set in not among
the students--a large number of whom must have come of age
watching _There's Something About Mary_ --but among the core of
instructors who lead the seminars and conduct the tutorials.
Though sophisticated and highly trained, when they were faced
with the prospect of discussing the history of masturbation with
the students, many of them blanched. Coprophagia wouldn't have
fazed them at all, sodomy wouldn't have slowed them down, incest
would have actively interested them--but masturbation: please,
anything but that."

- Stephen Greenblatt, on the problems caused when he invited
friend and former colleague Thomas Laqueur to speak at a forum
for Harvard's undergraduate History and Literature program.

[We wonder how many of you will get this through your spam
filters. -eds.]

Submitted by: Mike Krawchuk
Jun. 2, 2004

Friday, December 10, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 10, 2004

"E-mail has just erupted like a weed, and instead of considering
what to say when they write, people now just let thoughts drool
out onto the screen."

- R. Craig Hogan, a former university professor who heads an
online school for business writing.


Submitted by: Terry Labach
Dec. 8, 2004

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 9, 2004

"Comparing male rats to men makes a very good model. Things
that give us erections give them erections."

- Dr. James Pfaus of Concordia University, who is testing a drug
called PT-141 on rats. The drug is delivered as a nasal spray
and is intended to induce erections. Quoted in the Winter 2004
issue of Toro.

Submitted by: Mike Krawchuk
Dec. 8, 2004

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 8, 2004

We mortals are composed of two great schools
Enlightened knaves or else religious fools.

- Tenth century Syrian poet Abuk `Ala al Ma'arri, quoted in
Leaving Islam.

Submitted by: Mike Krawchuk
Apr. 29, 2004

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 7, 2004

"Everyone with a little imagination can think up alternative
worlds. He who would be politically relevant must continually
ask himself which of these worlds are possible."

- from The Homeless Mind by Peter Berger, Brigitte Berger, and
Hansfried Kellner. (Vintage Books, 1974)

Submitted by: NLI
Dec. 6, 2004

Monday, December 6, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 6, 2004

Pity could be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor;
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we

- Poet William Blake, from "The Human Abstract," in Songs of

Submitted by: Terry Labach
Jul. 2, 2004

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 5, 2004

"There is nothing in man's plight that his vision, if he cared
to cultivate it, could not alleviate. The challenge is to see
what could be done, and then to have the heart and the
resolution to attempt it."

- Diplomat and historian George Kennan, writing in 1993.

Submitted by: Terry Labach
Apr. 29, 2004

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 4, 2004

"Libraries are as Forrests, in which not only tall Cedars and
Oaks are to be found, but Bushes too and dwarfish Shrubs; and as
in Apothecaries Shops all sorts of Drugs are permitted to be, so
may all sort of Books be in a Library: And as they out of Vipers
and Scorpions, and poisoning Vegetables, extract often wholesome
Medicaments, for the Life of Mankind; so out of whatsoever Book,
good Instructions and Examples may be acquired."

- William Drummond, in The Works of William Drummond of
Hawthornden (1711).

Submitted by: Terry Labach
Apr. 8, 2004

Friday, December 3, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 3, 2004

"This busy working of nature wholly independent of the earth and
seeming to go on in a strain of time not reckoned by our
reckoning of days and years but simpler and as if correcting the
preoccupation of the world by being preoccupied with and
appealing to and dated to the day of judgment was like a new
witness to God and filled me with delightful fear."

- Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, recalling first seeing the
Northern Lights.

Submitted by: Mike Krawchuk
Apr. 29, 2004

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 2, 2004

Last Thursday morning, Natalia Dimitruk, an interpreter for the
deaf on the Ukraine's official state UT-1 television, disregarded
the anchor's report on Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich's
"victory" and, in her small inset on the screen, began to sign
something else altogether.

"The results announced by the Central Electoral Commission are
rigged," she said in the sign language used in the former Soviet
states. "Do not believe them."

She went on to declare that Viktor A. Yushchenko, the opposition
leader, was the country's new president. "I am very disappointed
by the fact that I had to interpret lies," she went on. "I will
not do it any more. I do not know if you will see me again."

- from a New York Times (on-line) article by Steven Lee Meyers.


Submitted by: Nick Puketza
Nov. 29, 2004

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Quotation of the day for December 1, 2004

"Much of the pleasure which the first survey of the world
affords, is exhausted before we are conscious of our own
felicity, or able to compare our condition with some other
possibles state. We have therefore few traces of the joy of our
earliest discoveries; yet we all remember a time when Nature had
so many untasted gratifications, that every excursion gave
delight which can now be felt no longer, when the noise of a
torrent, the rustle of a wood, the song of birds, or the play of
lambs, had the power to fill the attention, and suspend all
perception of the course of time."

- Samuel Johnson

[For Sebastian Thornton, born 22 Nov 2004.]

[qotd sends its congratulations to our founding editor on the
birth of his first child. -eds.]

Submitted by: Duncan Thornton
Nov. 29, 2004