Saturday, December 31, 2005

Of all the qualities in a manager conducive to innovation initiative, a degree of uncertainty may be the most powerful. If a manager is confident but uncertain – confident that the job will get done but without being certain of exactly the best way of doing it – employees are likely to have more room to be creative, alert, and self-starting.

--- Ellen Langer, Mindfullness (1989) Ch. 8, p 143
The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.

--- Arnold

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Some people become radical out of hatred. Others become radical out of love and sympathy. I come out of the second class. I have hated very few people... I have faith, despite the imperfections of the human race, that a better society, a better world, a more just world, a kindlier world can come into being.

--- I.F. Stone, left-wing journalist, quoted in Writer's Almanac, 24 December 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

--- Sir Winston Churchill

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Not believe in Web 2.0! You might as well not believe in fairies!

--- Rex Hammock

Quote courtesy's daily email:
"Not believe in Web 2.0! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get
your papa to hire Tim O'Reilly to come over to your house and explain Web 2.0 to
you, but even if Tim O'Reilly showed up and you didn't understand what the heck
he was talking about, what would that prove? So what if nobody can actually
explain Web 2.0 without using techno babble and business buzzwords? That is no
sign that there is no Web 2.0. The most real things in the world are those that
neither children nor men can see -- and that's why they develop buzzwords. Did
you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof
that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there
are unseen and unseeable in the world."

-- Rex Hammock explains the mystery behind the elusive concept of Web 2.0

Sunday, December 18, 2005

When everyone is different, the pointing out of differences is merely description. But when everyone is trying to look the same, the pointing out of difference has the ring of prejudice.

--- Natalia Ilyin, Blonde Like Me: The Roots of the Blonde Myth in Our Culture (2000), "Farrah and the Song Girls", p 100

This is one of the best books I've read in ages. Ilyin is smart, hilariously funny, and writes about deep, complex subjects in a deceptively simple way. Here's the quote in context:

Rita's best friend Doris who lived across the street, brought Rita big flats of frozen ravioli. Were they Italian-American? Who knew?


Rita only evidenced her German background in her attraction to Hummel
figurines. My friend Leslie, half Greek, knew no Greek, and my sisters andI spoke no Russian. My friend Claire was ethnically Jewish, now that I look back on it, but no one was exactly observing Yom Kippur over there. I think some black people lived in the house with the abundant azaleas, but I never saw them.

The people who moved to Las Gallinas Avenue came there without a past, and lived like stateless people. They came with no history, and made none.

In New York people routinely call you up and say things like "Come on over! My sister's here with her Serbian boyfriend, and our neighbors are going to drop by -- you remember them -- she's Ashkenazi and he's Sephardic." But when I was growing up in California, everyone in my white-bread suburb was making an effort to be identical.

When everyone is different, the pointing out of differences is merely description. But when everyone is trying to look the same, the pointing out of difference has the ring of prejudice. Once, when my European brother-in-law described some friend of his as a second-generation Hungarian, I remember thinking, "Aren't we beyond that yet?" as if it were only a matter of time until the entire country would develop cultural amnesia, and what a good thing that would be.

There are no bits that are desired by humans that are not available [on the web]

--- Marc Smith, in conversation 15 December 2005. When checking this with Marc, this was his reply:
In my typical hyperbolic style: yes, I said this.

Of course I am wildly overstating, the public internet is only a fraction of the net; vast databases of content and data are locked up all over the place. But there is a kernel of truth in this assertion: a business model that depends on the widespread distribution of bits which remain in a controlled container will not long stand. To date I do not know of a DRM system that is not cracked. Every XBOX, PS2, Hollywood video, recording, etc. is available on the (not so) darknet right now. Knowledge of the darknet is spreading fast – most people have some infringing content. A business model based on these files not being available because of some novel technical innovation (present or future) seems misguided. A business based in part on selling such technology seems misguided – perhaps we should rename DRM “Doesn’t Really Matter”?
Basic research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing

-- Attributed to Werner von Braun. For more Von Braun quotes, see,

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

God invented war so that Americans could learn geography

--- Iranian blogger, quoted by Nasrin Alavi in her book on Iranian blogs, "We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs"; heard on Radio Open Source, 13 Dec 2005 show on Iran: Demographics and Democracy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

If I ever do take an active part in the world, it will be as a thinker and demoralizer. I will simply tell the truth: but that truth will be horrible, cruel, naked.

--- Gustave Flaubert, cited in Writer's Almanac, Monday 12 December 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself.

--- James Thurber