Sunday, May 19, 2013

Who said it X?

Haven't played Who said it? in a while. I totally forget what number I am up to, so I'm calling it Who said it X? As usual, my self-imposed rules are that it has to come from my own library or at least a library book I read. It is, as always, my excuse to just share some "stuff" I read that struck me one way or another. I'm experimenting by putting the answers right below the questions. Try not to cheat until you take a guess.

1. This priggish father was delighted to give his son advice on women in 1941:
"There are many things that a man feels are legitimate even though they cause a fuss. Let him not lie about them to his wife or lover! Cut them out -- or if worth a fight: just insist. Such matters may arise frequently--the glass of beer, the pipe, the non writing of letters, the other friend, etc. etc. If the other side's claims really are unreasonable (as they are at times between the dearest lovers and most loving married folk) they are much better met by above board refusal and 'fuss'  than subterfuge."

"How quickly an intelligent woman can be taught, grasp the teacher's ideas, see his point--and how (with some exceptions) they can go no further, when they leave his hand, or when they cease to take a personal interest in him. It is their gift to be receptive, stimulated, fertilized (in many other matters than the physical) by the male."

"I fell in love with your mother at the approximate age of 18. Quite genuinely, as has been shown - though of course defects of character and temperament have caused me often to fall below the ideal with which I started. "

A.  J. R. R. Tolkien  B. Ernest Hemingway  C. FDR  D. Walt Disney
That would be from A., Prof. Tolkien, to his son, Michael. I have read many of his letters and he was as British as they come. Not surprising that he spent a lot of time with other male writers in a group they called The Inklings, of which C. S. Lewis was the other most well known writer.

2.  If you figure out who this is, you might guess what the hell he is talking about:
"If I saw a venomous snake crawling in the road, any man would say I might seize the nearest stick and kill it; but if I found that snake in bed with my children, that would be another question. I might hurt the children more than the snake, and it might bite them. Much more, if I found it in bed with my neighbor's children, and I bound myself by a solemn compact not to meddle with his children under any circumstances, it would become men to let that particular mode of getting rid of the gentleman alone. But if there was a bed newly made up, to which the children were to be taken and it was proposed to take a batch of young snakes and put them there with them, I take it no man would say there was any question how I ought to decide!

A. King James I  B. Adam Smith  C. Abraham Lincoln  D. Mussolini
That would be Abraham Lincoln, C.  In this little not too well known speech, his children were the white people, his neighbor's children were the slave states, the solemn compact was the Constitution and the bed newly made up stood for the territories from which he wished to keep slavery. The snakes, obviously, represent slavery. Now read it. It will make a lot more sense.  At least, it seemed to for his audience.

3.  "No man of reason can comprehend the jurisprudence that the jurists have concocted. In the end, today's jurisprudence is nothing other than one great system of shifting the responsibility onto someone else. He would therefore do everything to disparage as much as possible the study of law, that is, the study of this type of interpretation of the law. Because these studies would not form men who were fit for life and suited to guarantee for the state its natural legal order. These studies meant only an education in irresponsibility."
A.  Thomas Jefferson   B. Friedrich Nietzsche  C. Adolph Hitler  D. Antonin Scalia

I usually try and sneak a Hitler one in here somewhere. It should be a gimme. Then again, I do try and sneak a Jefferson quote in their too.
4. I love reading how so many writers from all times in our history seemed to be sure that morality is degrading and the next generation always worse than the one before it. This guy may have figured out why:

"Many proofs may be given that the human race on the whole, and especially in our own as compared with all preceding times, has made considerable advances morally for the better. Temporary checks do not prove anything against this. The cry of the continually increasing degradation in the race arises just from this, that when one stands on a higher step of morality he sees further before him, and his judgment on what men are, as compared with what they ought to be, is more strict."
A.  Socrates  B.  Immanuel Kant  C.  Henry David Thoreau  D. Winston Churchill

Hmmm. That's a poser. But, it's B., Kant, writing one of the few things he wrote that I could actually understand. Whether he was right or not I can't say for sure, but I doubt it. I suspect the assurance that the next generation is morally lax is based on our inherent prejudice that what we are used to is superior.
5.  When I was young I used to go to dance clubs, but I rarely participated. I like music but I never really understood dance. But, others certainly do. Yet, I never once saw anything like this described here. If there was any sexuality with people dancing where I was, it was actual and obvious, not symbolic or eroticized. On the other hand, for the young men reading this for tips (where else would you go?), dancing with a girl may be the quickest way to boudoir. Anyway, if I had seen anything like this below, I would not have cried aloud, as he did:

"About midnight the wildest and maddest of dances began. . . . it was the fandango, which I fondly supposed I had often seen, but which was far beyond my wildest imaginings. . . . In Italy and France the dancers are careful not to make the gestures which render this the most voluptuous of dances. each couple, man and woman, make only three steps, then, keeping time to the music with their castanets, they throw themselves into a variety of lascivious attitudes; the whole of love from its birth to its end, from its first sigh to its last ecstasy, is set forth. In my excitement I cried aloud."
A.  Casanova  B. Benjamin Franklin  C. Sir Richard Francis Burton  D. Mahatma Gandhi

No, not Gandhi, though that would have been cool. Casanova, A., is the answer, exactly who you would expect (but not expect if you thought I was being sneaky). But the other two would not be surprises if it had been them.
6. This next one is topical, with the White House clearly embarrassed at the investigation by the Department of Justice into the phone records of journalists, in order to figure out where a leak (that they did not want) came from. It is not a new topic, but one we haven't figured out. I'm not sure we ever will unless time and technology stand still. Here's someone's take on the subject:

"The more I consider the independence of the press in its principal consequences, the more am I convinced that in the modern world it is the chief and, so to speak, the constitutive element of liberty. A nation that is determined to remain free is therefore right in demanding, at any price, the exercise of this independence. But the unlimited liberty of political association cannot be entirely assimilated to the liberty of the press. The one is at the same time less necessary and more dangerous than the other. A nation may confine it within certain limits without forfeiting any part of its self-directing power; and it may sometimes be obliged to do so in order to maintain its own authority."

A. Thomas Paine   B. Mark Twain  C. de Tocqueville  D. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
All of them seem reasonable choices, but it was written by C., de Tocqueville, in his landmark work on democracy in America. It is another way of saying, if I may expand upon the words of a great writer who I doubt would think he needed further explaining, we can't have a democracy, government by the people, if we don't have a source to get information about that government from someone other than the government itself. We have to take this right very far in order to mean something, because government will twist, threaten and lie to sustain itself. But, onthe other hand, we can't take it so far we cripple that which we are investigating. Of course, this is just abstract theory. Putting the bell on the cat is harder.

7. Every once in a while I rewrite the profile on this blog without knowing if anyone ever reads it (although I think there is a statistic Google makes available there, I'm not sure that all of the hits aren't from me).  But, I might just put the following quote in its place some day:
"I take it for granted, when I am invited to lecture anywhere—for I have had a little experience in that business—that there is a desire to hear what I think on some subject, though I may be the greatest fool in the country, and not that I should say pleasant things merely, or such as the audience will assent to; And I resolve, accordingly, that I will give them a strong dose of myself. They have sent for me, and engaged to pay for me, and I am determined that they shall have me, though I bore them beyond all precedent."

A. Mark Twain  B. Thoreau   C. Winston Churchill  D.  Ronald Reagan
Could be any of them, I guess, though it was famously said by B., Thoreau, in a lecture I love entitled Life without Principle.  Of course, no one is paying me, but I suppose that this is an opportunity a blog provides, if you want to use it for this purpose - a chance to lecture and possibly have someone read it, without anyone ever inviting or paying you to do it. Ironically, the only time I did get paid to lecture, a few years as an adjunct (no way to get rich, I assure you) I was very careful not to let my opinions about the subject matter be known. On the other hand, I'm sure the students got a strong dose of me anyway. It is almost unavoidable if you don't want them sound asleep and impossible if you want to have any fun at all.

8.  "I should like to ask you all if you know of any dispute or controversy existing in the world which is worth the life of your son, or of anyone else's son? Perhaps I am not well informed of the terrifically vital forces underlying all this unrest in the world, but for the life of me I cannot see anything involved which could be remotely considered worth shedding blood for."
A. Leslie Howard   B. Teddy Roosevelt   C. Rudyard Kipling   D. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. 

The answer is definitely not A., Leslie Howard, who himself died in WWII when his plane was shot down. It is D., Kennedy.  Of course, he lost his eldest son, his namesake, in the war to come and almost his next son, Jack, who went on to be the last president to be assassinated, as was his younger brother and Joseph's youngest son, Robert, while he was running for president, all of which Joseph, Sr. lived to see.  TR, was a hawk, and lost his heroic son Quentin in a WWI dogfight.  Kipling, also a hawk, helped his son get into the British Army for WWI, in which he died. 
9. And now for something entirely different:

"In this class we include those who by fraud or intimidation have been thrust into that life of celibacy where they were allowed to fornicate but not to marry; so that if they openly keep a  concubine they are Christian priests, but if they take a wife they are burned. In my opinion parents who intend their children for celibate priesthood would be much kinder to castrate them in infancy, rather than to expose them whole against their will to this temptation to lust."
A. Mark Twain  B. Martin Luther  C. Erasmus  D. Pope John Paul II

It be more fun if it was D, but it is C., Erasmus, sometimes considered the first humanist (I think that is a misinterpretation with which he himself would have problems). I imagine there was a generation of eunuchs who would have loved to have personally thanked him for the advice to their parents.
10. And, at last, an explanation of why it is good to be king:

"Upon their arrival in his presence, he causes a new examination to be made by a different set of inspectors, and from amongst them a further selection takes place, when thirty or forty are retained for his own chamber. . . . These are committed separately to the care of certain elderly ladies of the palace, whose duty it is to observe them attentively, during the course of the night, in order to ascertain that they have not any concealed imperfections, that they sleep tranquilly, do not snore, have sweet breath, and are free from unpleasant scent in any part of the body. Having undergone this rigorous scrutiny, they are divided into parties of five, each taking turn for three days and three nights in his Majesty's interior apartment, where they are to perform every service that is required of them, and he does with them as he likes. When this term is completed, they are relieved by another party, and in this manner successively, until the whole number have taken their turn; when the first five recommence their attendance."
A. Marco Polo regarding Kublai Khan  B. Aleksander Suvorov regarding Peter the Great  C . Vladimir Lenin regarding Grigori Rasputin  D. Ruhollah Khomeini regarding Shah Pahlavi

I guess it's good work if you can get it. The answer is Marco Polo, A.
And that concludes another exciting episode of Who said it?

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Greats

Didn't feel like thinking too hard this week. This is just a fun rundown of some unbelievably talented people with video hightlights. All worth watching. There's no point being made, they are just fun. I tried to find short ones, but two are a little long. Also, I kept the number down as it takes a bit to watch the videos. Sorry some have commercials.

While making this I realized that what I was doing here was what Stan Lee's show Super Humans is all about and some of these guys have been featured there. Then again, for all I know, he gets all of his subjects from the internet.  

Tom Knapp just died at age 62. I have seen him perform on documentaries and he is the real deal. I could watch him do trick shots for hours. Below is his record setting 10 clay pigeons in 2.2 seconds, which just seems uncanny. What combination of genes and practice allowed this ability to develop? I don't own a gun, but if I was going to buy one, it might be a Benelli shotgun. Good sales job, Tom.

While we are on guns, Howard Darby is a many time world record holder of Fast Draw and who knows, maybe the fastest ever. He is also a "spinner" and fun to watch. For some reason, these shooters usually appear to be really nice guys.

(You may have seen fast draw Bob Munden on tv. He is even more fun to watch and I don't think anyone has ever proved he is a fraud or not lightning fast himself. But his claims to holding world records and championships is completely fabricated and he is loathed by the real competitors. But, I've seen him on shows where they do slow mo for what he just did that was almost too fast to see, and it is either so or these shows are in it with him. On the other hand, if he is for real, why did he make up all those titles and records? You can look him up yourself if you haven't seen him.)

Okay, so the guys with guns are pretty amazing. This next guy, Byron Ferguson, does it with a bow and arrow. No, not the ones with all the supports and stuff like in the Olympics and makes it really hard to miss once you've learned what to do, but the type of bow and arrow we associate with Robin Hood that you can at least imagine you can make in your backyard. It doesn't even look like he is trying. I wonder if he and Tom Knapp know each other. Also, who is this trusting chick throwing the stuff up in the air. I mean, what if he one bad moment?

Now check out the superhuman strength on this Canadian circus performer, Dominic LaCasse. Watch through the end where he does a human flag and makes a 360 degree walk in space that seems impossible.

This next one is Aaron Evans, who not only can jump, but is either very brave or very stupid.

The following is a sand painter. I've seen a couple of people do this but still uncanny. Ferenc Cakó is possibly the most famous of them. I don't really know though and can't say I care. I just see his name a lot. Because it takes time to do these drawings, this video is a little longer than the others and you might want to skip around a bit. On the other hand, you might like the music.

Ok, last one b/c I know that you can't miss with it even if you've seen them ten times:

Is there anyone over, say, 8 or 9, who doesn't know who Michael Jordan is? But, if you are one of the few who needs it, for 15 years in the 80s and 90s those who followed basketball and many others were treated to the Michael Jordan experience. MJ is, as the NBA says, by acclamation the greatest player who ever lived and I can't disagree. Even if there are a handfull whose statistics can compare with his, you just had to watch him once to know that he had a physicality, quickness and perhaps focus that was different than anyone else. The only ones I can think of who I can compare him to who I have seen in my lifetime in terms of inarguable superiority in their sport are Bruce Lee in the martial arts, Sugar Ray Leonard in boxing, Greg Louganis in diving and maybe Alexander Karelin in Graeco-Roman wrestling. I probably saw him play 100-150 times during that professional decade and a half or so, but, I don't think there was a time when I did that he didn't do something in the air that just took my breath away. I'm not sure there is a highlight reel long enough to contain him, but this one is 15 minutes long and doesn't get boring. You have to see the moves in slow motion to appreciate the agility, hang time and explosiveness that made other outstanding players like Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley and Isaiah Thomas look almost ordinary in comparison.

About Me

My photo
I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .