Well, I'm back from California. As the lack of posting indicates, I had a wonderful time. I even managed to get through airport security without a hitch (sorry Pechous!). So, a big thank you to Miss Hostess (who wishes to remain pseudonynmous), for hosting me. But now, back to business.
Business, in this case, means playing a fun game Kevin Drum thought up. It involves going to this site and picking the first five quotations that either reflect what you believe, or are polar opposite to what you believe. I love quotes. Let's rumble.
First Five Quotes That Reflect Me
1) We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can.
-Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)
I'm all about having fun. I think the world (especially the academic world) is far to serious, and there are very few situations where a bit of humor would not improve matters immensely.
2) The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
-William James (1842 - 1910)
Fair enough. You have to pick your battles, and you have to budget your time wisely. Getting tied up in the small stuff is a vice of mine, but at least I'm aware enough to know it's a vice.
3) The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
-Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)
It must be depressing being a conservative, knowing with pretty much pure historical certainity that all your deeply cherished views will be considered hogwash, at best, in 50 years (liberals, at least, get a 100 year grace period before they fall off the edge of respectable public discourse).
4) Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.
-Lillian Hellman (1905 - 1984)
I'm a cynic, so of course I'll agree with this. As Ambrose Bierce once defined a cynic: "A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as he wishes they would be." (Is it cheating to use another quote?).
5) The price of greatness is responsibility.
-Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)
Sure, he practically lifted it from Spider-Man. But I'm sure Uncle Ben will forgive him. When one has power, one must take extra care to use it for good. Might does not make right, although in the wrong hands it can make right irrelevant.
First Five Quotes That Are Flat Wrong
1) Don't try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.
-Philip K. Dick (1928 - 1982)
I do all my best thinking late at night. Extrapolating from the solid premise that all geniuses have similar lifestyles to myself, we can infer that Mr. Dick is completely and utterly wrong.
2) Never... ever suggest they don't have to pay you. What they pay for, they'll value. What they get for free, they'll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear.
-Lois McMaster Bujold
Ah yes--the "Greed is Good" philosophy of morality. No surprise I don't buy this one.
3) Men have become the tools of their tools.
-Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)
I hate hate HATE Henry David Thoreau. On Civil Disobedience was alright, I suppose, but Walden should have been thrown into the bottom of that god-forsaken lake and never been heard from again (much less appeared in my Junior English class). This quote epitomizes what I hate about Thoreau--smug assurance that the simple life is better, betraying the type of fear of change that grates me and should be the anathema of all thinking individuals. I like my tools. And I don't think that makes me any worse or less authentic of a person than ol' Abel's Island over there (anyone remember THAT book? Now that was a story!).
4) Getting fired is nature's way to telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place.
Sometimes, maybe, but sometimes getting fired is nature's way of telling you your boss is a moron. Or you are.
5) You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
Jack London (1876 - 1916)
While I agree that sometimes "waiting for inspiration" is an excuse to do nothing, I doubt the proper way to treat inspiration is to beat it to death with a blunt object. Sometimes, just sitting back and letting the mind wander is the best way to break new ground.