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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 2017 Quotations (60)

"The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back. Let's see what we're made of, you and I."
~~ 12th Doctor Who

"[If] Trump’s plan for managing his businesses while he’s in the Oval Office . . . doesn’t amount to premeditated corruption, it certainly paves the way for it."
~~ columnist Richard Eskow, in January 2017

“Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous – they contain ideas.”
~~ Pete Hautman

"In the [XXth] century, more Americans died in murders than in wars."
~~ columnist L.M. Boyd [1927-2007]

"A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it."
~~ Mark Twain [1835-1910]

“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”
~~ Henry David Thoreau [1817-62]

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."
~~ Thomas Alva Edison [1847-1931]

"Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully."
~~ author-aviator Richard Bach

"Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter."
~~ Nikola Tesla [1856-1943]

"Fighting crime? Crime fights back!"
~~ line in the "Tick" TV series, 2001

"The future is today - Worry about it tomorrow."
~~ motto of "Futurama" TV series

"There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them."
~~ Inspector Jacques Clouseau, star of "The Pink Panther" Movies

“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~~ Haruki Murakami, in the 2002 novel "Kafka On The Shore"

"Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood."
~~ John Green

"Why hasn't [president-elect Trump] been given more respect? Here's a fair answer: He hasn't earned any."
~~ Dana Milbank, Washington Post columnist

"Writing is dreaming with your eyes open."
~~ author Dave Burns

"I'll never guess the number of buttons in a jar ever again – not ever!"
~~ B.O. Plenty character in the 'Dick Tracy' comic strip (view the panel}

"If you change the way [that] you look at things, the things [that] you look at change."
~~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer [1940-2015]

"The only sense that is common in the long run, is the sense of change and we all instinctively avoid it."
~~ E.B. White [1899-1985]

“Humor is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue.”
~~ British author Virginia Woolf [1882-1941]

re Trump's 'Alternative Facts': "The Party told you to reject all evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command."
~~ from the 1949 novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell [1903-50]

"A word after a word after a word is power."
~~ Margaret Atwood

"[President Trump] does not have a running war with the media, he has a running war with reality."
~~ Keith Olberman, G.Q. TV

"Resist the demogogue D.J.T."
~~ Joe Kensil

"We don't want equal injustice for all."
~~ Kevin Alexander Gray

“In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility.”
~~ writer-activist Norman Cousins [1915-90]

"Romance is everything."
~~ Gertrude Stein [1874-1946]

"In fiction, believability may have nothing to do with reality or even plausibility. It has everything to do with those things in nonfiction. I think that the nonfiction writer's fundamental job is to make what is true believable."
~~ non-fiction writer Tracy Kidder

"Our delusions own us. We can never truly break free from them."
~~ line in "Mr. Robot" TV series

"The geeks have inherited the Earth. The rest of you just don't know it yet."
~~ line from "Algorithm: The Hacker Movie" [2014] by Jon Schiefer

"Obamacare hysteria [by the Republican Party] was never anything other than racial hatred [disguised] as a policy dispute."
~~ The Pen at Peace Team activism website

"Statistics are at their most powerful when they surprise us."
~~ Alan Smith, U.K. journalist

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."
~~ Seneca the Younger [4? B.C.E. - 65 A.D.]

"The universe [simply] came into existence all by itself."
~~ physicist Stephen W. Hawking

“Winners lose much more often than losers. So if you keep losing but you’re still trying, keep it up! You’re right on track.”
~~ Matthew Keith Groves

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.”
~~ Sidney Greenberg [1917-2003]

"Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow."
~~ Abraham Lincoln [1809-65]

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it."
~~ Mahatma Gandhi [1869-1948]

"Conformists die, but heretics live forever."
~~ Elbert Hubbard [1856-1915]

"Each man has his own vocation: His talent is his call."
~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-82]

"In the halls of politics and power, most economists are like wallpaper – full of intricate details but ultimately decoration."
~~ journalist Bill Saporito

"Man is the one animal that can't be tamed."
~~ Robert A. Heinlein [1907-88]

"Talk is cheap – except when Congress does it."
~~ Ronald Reagan [1911-2004]

"There are no rules. That's the first hundred rules. As for the hundred and first rule, I haven't figured that out yet."
~~ Werner Erhard

"If you do not breathe thru writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."
~~ Anaïs Nin [1903-77]

"One of the greatest discoveries [that] a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find [that] he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."
~~ Henry Ford [1863-1947]

"There is never enough good writing to go around."
~~ Raymond Chandler [1888-1959]

"There are uncertain truths – even true statements that we may take to be false – but there are no uncertain certainties. Since we can never know anything for sure, it is simply not worth searching for certainty; but it is well worth searching for truth; and we do this chiefly by searching for mistakes, so that we have to correct them."
~~ philosopher Karl Popper [1902-94] in "In Search of A Better World" [1984]

"I think [that] in literature the writer must be a radical. The insight that guides the work must go the limit of felt thought, and then beyond."
~~ Vivian Gornick

"The success of a [vacation] depends on what you find for yourself on the spot, not what you bring with you."
~~ mystery author Ellis Peters [1913-95]

"Ain't no money in poetry / That's what sets the poet free"
~~ Gary Clark, lyric of song "Cold Dog Soup"

"What is this life, if full of care / we have no time to stand and stare"
~~ Welsh poet W.H. Davies [1871-1940]

"Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat."
~~ Alex Levine

"I believe the future is simply the past, entered thru another gate."
~~ Miguel Piñero [1946-88]

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it."
~~ musician Frank Zappa [1940-93]

"Interest in life is the very best form of wealth."
~~ Erle Stanley Gardner [1889-1970]

"Vigorous writing is concise."
~~ William Strunk, Jr. [1869-1946]

"He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak."
~~ essayist Michel De Montaigne [1533-92]

"We are all born originals. Why is it so many of us die copies?"
~~ poet Edward Young [1683-1765]

"If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right."
~~ French author Jules Renard [1864-1910]

{each set of posted quotations are then posted at the Working Minds website, alphabetical by author}

Monday, February 13, 2017

Working Minds Essay #112: Ayn Rand's Critical Mistake

Lots of folks get Ayn Rand wrong: Ron Paul, Paul Ryan, even radio host Thom Hartmann. They mostly spread misinformation trying to refute the misinformation about Ayn Rand and Objectivism that seeps out of the Republican propaganda machine.

Ayn Rand kicked the Republicans out of her 'circle' in New York in 1968, and she kicked out the Libertarians the next year. The Republicans especially stand on the word 'selfish' and say they love Objectivism but give themselves permission to lie and cheat and steal to win elections. Any claims to Objectivism by Republicans and Libertarians are untrue.

The economies of the United States and Europe are not and never have been capitalism. Robber barons are not capitalists, but they get away with a lot by flying that false flag. Capitalism is the creation of jobs and products and services.

Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy is correct in the existential sense: it matches objective reality. It is also perfectly consistent with the Golden Rule. Although the philosophy is correct, Ayn Rand made one very large mistake, one which has caused a lot of mischief.

Ayn Rand was born in Petrograd, Russia in 1905; she experienced both of the revolutions of 1917; the Bolsheviks took away her father's pharmacy and her family suffered reduced circumstances thereafter. She hated communism for the rest of her life.

You can see videos of Ayn Rand from the late 1970s, mostly from televison appearances, and they are a lot of fun. What is remarkable there is that even at age seventy her Russian accent was pronounced. (She moved to America in 1926, died in New York City in 1982.) It looks on these videos like she thinks in Russian and then speaks in English. That is the source of her major mistake. The term 'selfishness' as used in her novels and her newspaper columns and her collected works is not really what the philosophy intends. The proper word would be 'selfhood', which leaves the Republicans out in the cold. A lot has been lost in that mis-translation.

One must become a (capital-S) Self in order to practice Objectivism. A Self is responsible for his/her actions. A Self has no interest in pressure to conform or to surrender to altruism – altruism is putting the interest of real or abstract strangers before the interest of one's Self or loved ones. A Self chooses and lives from his/her values without agreement being necessary.

So-called Social Darwinism is also a false concept. Charles Darwin used the term 'survival of the fittest' only once in his writingss, and that was a quote of someone else. What Darwin said was “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Mankind's failure to adapt to the reality of climate change has our species destined for extinction in about thirty years. Conservatives use Darwin to justify raping and pillaging the planet – just as they use Objectivism to oppress regulation and civil rights.

One of the items on my Lottery List (what I'll do when I win the Big One) is to obtain the rights for "Atlas Shrugged" and edit a version with the word 'selfishness' replaced by the word 'selfhood'. While the Ayn Rand estate sells 300,000 books each year, in large part to college students, those readers give up the tough road to selfhood partly because the vocabulary in Ayn Rand's books is inaccurate. There is also the 24/7 pressure of the Culture Structure to believe all the crap that recently put a fascist in the White House.

Being a Self provides major advantages in dealing with a sometimes-hostile and often-irrational culture. You should try it.
Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Saturday, February 11, 2017

News Factoid Report: O.R.N.L. Team Converts CO2 to Ethanol

This story seems to have fallen through the cracks and has not been reported except by scientific media.

Back in October 2016, a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory accidentally discovered a nano-process that combines CO2 dissolved in water (club soda?) and a carbon-copper catalyst to produce the fuel ethanol. They were attempting to invoke the first stage of production of methanol, but the process completed itself and produced the ethanol, at an efficiency rate of 60-70%. N.A.S.L. set up a webpage article and uploaded a nice two-minute video short to YouTube, which you can view here.

Fact-checker website Snopes confirms the event, but warns that it is much too early to proclaim any commercial fuel conversion process. The O.R.N.L. team suggests that commercial licensing can not possibly begin for a year at best, and that the O.R.N.L. team will next work on the problem of scalability - the difference between producing a few drops in a laboratory versus gallons per hour.

O.R.N.L. set up a second webpage article in January that emphasizes the work needing to be done. The scientist team also suggests that the probable first use of their discovery will be to remove carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and also to utilize any excess electricity made during the day from wind and solar (that otherwise is lost for lack of storage methodology).

Early stages, yes, but a breakthrough is a breakthrough: Congratulation to American scientists!

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved