Friday, July 03, 2009
Progress, then, as I see it, is to be measured by the accuracy of man's knowledge of nature's forces. If you examine this sentence carefully you will observe that I conceive progress as a sort of process of disillusion. Man gets ahead, in other words, by discarding the theory of to-day for the fact of to-morrow.
...women, as a sex, are shrewd, resourceful, and acute; but the very fact that they are always concerned with imminent problems and that, in consequence, they are unaccustomed to dealing with the larger riddles of life, makes their mental attitude essentially petty. ....
...the great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom respectable. No virtuous man - that is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sense - has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading...
The formula of the argument is simple and familiar: to dispose of a problem all that is necessary is to deny that it exists.
...one is always most bitter, not toward the author of one's wrongs, but toward the victim of one's wrongs.
idealism is not a passion in America, but a trade
All [of the American's] foreign wars have been fought with foes either too weak to resist them or too heavily engaged elsewhere to make more than a half-hearted attempt. The combats with Mexico and Spain were not wars; they were simply lynchings. still true if we remember the cold war didn't involve fighting Russians. Britain used this strategy ubefore we got into WW1
Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed.
The average man doesn't want to be free. He wants to be safe.
The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse - that is, to grow more satisfactory to those who constitute it and less satisfactory to those who support it. this, with more explanation is what Pournelle's Iron Law says
There were jails, of course, from the earliest times, but they were used mainly to detain persons accused of crime until their guilt could be determined. Once they were found guilty they were not commonly returned to durance, but punished forthwith, either by death, by exile, by fine, or by some form of corporal suffering. Prisons were set up by philanthropists eager to do away with these ancient cruelties, but what they mainly accomplished was to make cruelty more facile. The very fact that they were regarded as humane suggested longer and longer sentences, and so today, at least in the United States, it is common for men to be locked up for years for crimes which, in a more innocent day, would have been punished by some such triviality as branding on the hand, a few hours in the pillory, a good cowhiding, or the loss of an ear.
The volume of mail that comes in to a magazine or a newspaper or a radio station is no index of anything, except that you happen to attract a lot of idiots, because most people that write letters to newspapers are fools. Intelligent people seldom do it - they do it sometimes, but not often. I used to, in my days of running a column - I welcomed the letters that came in, and, in fact, edited them. I was in charge of the letter column, and always let anyone in who denounced me violently get in - because I believe that people like to read abuse.
The way for newspapers to meet the competition of radio and television is simply to get out better papers
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
Of all the human qualities, the one I admire the most is competence. A tailor who is really able to cut and fit a coat seems to me an admirable man, and by the same token a university professor who knows little or nothing of the thing he presumes to teach seems to me to be a fraud and a rascal
I believe that any man or woman who, for a period of say five years, has earned his or her living in some lawful and useful occupation, without any recourse to public assistance, should be allowed to vote and that no one else should be allowed to vote.
The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.
There is, indeed, no genuine disposition among American public officials, or indeed among public officials anywhere, to reduce public expenses. As I have pointed out in this place a hundred times, they always try to lay on at least $2 every time they "save" $1.
...every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods
I believe that the public likes criticism only in so far as it is a good show, which means only in so far as it is bellicose. The crowd is always with the prosecution. Hence, when I have to praise a writer, I usually do it by attacking his enemies. And when I say the crowd I mean all men. My own crowd is very small and probably somewhat superior, but it likes rough-house just as much as a crown around a bulletin-board.
Economic independence is the foundation of the only sort of freedom worth a damn.
The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who loves his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.
the great masses of men, even in this inspired republic, are precisely where the mob was at the dawn of history. They are ignorant, they are dishonest, they are cowardly, they are ignoble. They know little if anything that is worth knowing, and there is not the slightest sign of a natural desire among them to increase their knowledge.
Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men.
Mind you, that politician/fence/ground jobby of his is pure quality.
Gordon Brown recently demonstrated the contempt most politicians hold people in. SYB's problem is not only that they get off on demonstrating their contempt for ordinary people but that they demonstrate at every turn, by their own ignorance & inability to defend any position intellectually how much more contemptible they are.