Thursday, March 15

I grew into it. It grew into me. It and I blurred at the edges, became one amorphous, seeping, crawling thing. 

The worst thing you can do for those you love is the things they could and should do themselves.
Abraham Lincoln

"A three-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. If our concern is about suffering in this universe, it is rather obvious that we should be more concerned about killing flies than about killing three-day-old human embryos… Many people will argue that the difference between a fly and a three-day-old human embryo is that a three-day-old human embryo is a potential human being. Every cell in your body, given the right manipulations, every cell with a nucleus is now a potential human being. Every time you scratch your nose, you’ve committed a holocaust of potential human beings… Let’s say we grant it that every three-day-old human embryo has a soul worthy of our moral concern. First of all, embryos at this stage can split into identical twins. Is this a case of one soul splitting into two souls? Embryos at this stage can fuse into a chimera. What has happened to the extra human soul in such a case? This is intellectually indefensible, but it’s morally indefensible given that these notions really are prolonging scarcely endurable misery of tens of millions of human beings, and because of the respect we accord religious faith, we can’t have this dialogue in the way that we should. I submit to you that if you think the interests of a three-day-old blastocyst trump the interests of a little girl with spinal cord injuries or a person with full-body burns, your moral intuitions have been obscured by religious metaphysics."
— Sam Harris, on stem cell research.

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
— Carl Sagan

"Because when we find ourselves believing that killing a man makes us more of a man, but loving a man makes us less of a man, it’s probably time to reexamine our criteria for manhood."
 Jay Smooth

"There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job."
— Richard Dawkins

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
— Shakespeare, Macbeth 

"People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare."
Steve Jobs 

 "That baby sees the world with a completeness that you and I will never know again. His doors of perception have not yet been closed. He still experiences the moment he lives in. The inevitable bullshit hasn’t constipated his cerebral cortex yet. He still sees the world as it really is, while we sit here, left with only a dim historical version of it manufactured for us by words and unofficial bullshit, and so forth and so on…" — The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe

"I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish."
— Stephen Fry

"To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?"
— Socrates 

Real adventure is defined best as a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person.
Yvon Chouinard

So, the whole idea, you see, is that everything’s falling apart, so don’t try and stop it. When you’re falling off a precipice, it doesn’t do you any good to hang onto a rock that’s falling with you. See? But everything is doing that. And so, again, this is another case of our completely wasting our energy in trying to prevent the world from falling apart. Don’t do it. And then you’ll be able to do something interesting with the free energy.
— Alan Watts 

When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again.
Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous — not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… that pure chance could be so generous and so kind… that we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… that we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful…
The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.
— Ann Druyan, about her husband Carl Sagan

"I want movement, not a calm course of existence. I want excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I feel in myself a superabundance of energy which finds no outlet in our quiet life."
Leo Tolstoy 

"The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is."
— Stephen Fry 

"Whatever we are, whatever we make of ourselves, is all we will ever have – and that, in its profound simplicity, is the meaning of life."
— Philip Appleman 

"I know many people are concerned about the destruction of the sanctity of marriage, as well, and they view this as a threat. But let me ask you something, ladies and gentlemen, what are we really protecting when you look at the divorce rate in our society? Turn on the television. We have a wedding channel on cable TV devoted to the behavior of people on their way to the altar. They spend billions of dollars, behave in the most appalling way, all in an effort to be princess for a day. You don’t have cable television? Put on network TV. We’re giving away husbands on a game show. You can watch “The Bachelor,” where 30 desperate women will compete to marry a 40-year-old man who has never been able to maintain a decent relationship in his life. We have “The Bacholorette,” in reverse. And my favorite show, which thank God only ran one season because it was truly distasteful, was “The Littlest Groom,” where 30 desperate women competed to marry a dwarf. That’s what we’ve done to marriage in America, where young women are socialized from the time they’re five years old to think of being nothing but a bride. They plan every day what they’ll wear, how they’ll look, the invitations, the whole bit. They don’t spend five minutes thinking about what it means to be a wife. People stand up there before God and man — even in Senator Diaz’s church — they swear to love, honor, and obey; they don’t mean a word of it. So if there’s anything wrong, any threat to the sanctity of marriage in America, it comes from those of us who have the privilege and the right, and we have abused it for decades."
— NY Senator Diane Savino