ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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A Year Late, a Yen Short ...

Although I had started the Quotes of the Year 2001 with every intention to update on an annual basis, I found to my chagrin that, like many projects that I am not compelled to complete by external forces, the QOTY of 2002 was completely neglected for over twelve months (where did the year go?!) as we enter the twilight of 2003.

...slide!Oddly appropriate, that - given my history with personal self-imposed deadlines. The mantra of slackers everywhere: let it slide, let it slide, let it slide. If my life were an Edward Norton movie, surely my Power Animal would be a penguin.

So while you're reading this better-late-than-never collected quotes of 2002, anybody want to suggest things to be included for the QOTY: 2003? :*)


Once upon a time, my grandmother was very angry at me for dating a young lady that was black. She said a great number of things of a very racist nature. This scared me.
On the car ride home, my dad said to me "You know, I'm sorry your grandmother has to be like that. I want you to know that we support you, and that I think your girlfriend is pretty cute."
And I responded, "Thanks dad - but she's sixteen!"
And my dad said "Isn't it great?"
That scared me even more.
- foobiwan, comment in Scenario

A man, as described in that quote, who is willing to make peace with a traditional enemy does satisfy all the requirements outlined in your definition of heroism.
By not destroying his enemy, this person has opened himself up to retaliation and betrayal from his beaten foe. He does indeed risk "life and limb in pursuit of an objective which probably is of no direct benefit to himself." For a man who has the ability to destroy his enemy completely there is no direct benefit from forgiveness and peace. Instead, these become vulnerabilities. By choosing to put himself at risk for an ideal, a humanitarian qualifies as a hero.
That being said, I find such a definition of heroism to be insufficient. By this standard, fanatics, terrorists, dogs, machines, sandwiches, and even lightbulbs might be declared heroes, as all are willing to endanger themselves to serve a greater purpose from which they derive no direct benefit. Dogs are nice, but only Lassie is a hero.
- heman, comment in 40-Year-Old Landmines and the Price of Vengeance

I have this dream where I am on trial. The Jury and Lawyers are of me from different ages. I am on trial for not following their dreams.
- earthdog, comment in Letter to Former Self - Follow-Up

Encouragement. He doesn't quite mention encouragement, but that's the huge emotional boon he gave those girls. He showed them how at least one Hollywood big shot sincerely believed in them.
When even one really respected person you shows unshakeable confidence in you -- when even one inspires you to feel that they see something magical in you -- then your own determination skyrockets. When your determination skyrockets, you grow more than you compromise.
- perspectivism, comment in Meet Robert Evans

I’m not a religious person; I cannot take comfort in the idea of a benevolent deity watching over my steps … and in these moments, I envy those who can. I envy those who can sustain the illusion of meaning and purpose in a rudderless world - and the absurdity of that envy is as disquieting as the envy itself.
Without god, mortality is a disturbing thing to contemplate – its terrifying arbitrariness, its propensity to spawn unanswerable questions, its ruthless finality.
- pjammer, Crisis of Confidence

(continued from main journal)

I guess it depends a great deal on how we define “miracles.” Back in college, I had a close friend who firmly believed that the world is a fluid arena that can be bent to the will of a sufficiently strong personality. He could be dismissed as a kooky eccentric except for the fact that, time and time again, the world did seem to fall in place for him in dozens of ways – in work, in academics and in social interactions. This was a guy who routinely bought one-way tickets to 3rd world nations whose language he doesn’t speak … yet always always managed to find shelter, food, fascinating local artifacts (he collects tribal musical instruments) and safe passage back home.
The most memorable thing about Jeff in retrospect, was his total absence of fear in the face of long odds; he never gave himself an fallback or safety net in anything he tried. Failure did not exist in his world – and he never spent a moment planning for such contingencies. The only kind of failure, in his view, is the failure to believe.
- pjammer, Bending Reality

Ultimately, that was most unsettling observation: a majority of the study's participants are willing to pay out of their own earnings for the opportunity to burn total strangers who are considered "too successful." Indeed, far from being a pathological rarity, the "Vandal's Utility Function" is a pervasive factor of human psychology in the presence of perceived inequality.
The openly ambitious who chase their dreams would do well to keep that in mind: while you strive for excellence, remember that you do so in the company of Vandals who would gladly pay to see you stumble.
- pjammer, The Vandal's Utility Function: Everybody Hates a Winner

Wow - seems like half my friends are busy pimping me out. Beats having my parents play 'matchmaker' I guess ... :D - pjammer
Well, if I can't have you for myself, someone else should put you to good use :P - furchild
comments in BBQ on Ocean Beach, San Francisco

As long-time friends of mine know, I have the worst luck with expensive things - particularly sunglasses. Every time I buy a nice pair, they are inevitably lost, stolen or broken within a few months of purchase. In disgust and frustration, I picked up a pair of inexpensive, POS 'disposable' sunglasses at a swap meet. They were cheap, uncomfortable and dug into my ears if I wore them for more than ten minutes. I hated the accursed thing, but the creepy thing is, after seven years, they won't rid themselves from me. Countless times they've been 'misplaced,' only to be returned to me by some helpful Samaritan ("Aargh! where the hell were you when I lost my REVOs, HUH?!").
- pjammer, Sunglasses of Irritation, -1 (cursed item)

As banking analysts, we were constantly courted by corporate clients with offers of vaguely-defined positions that promised stock options whose levels of absurdity were only eclipsed by the grossly inflated titles that came along with them. Overnight, the Valley became awash with 22-year-old Vice-Presidents and Managing Directors - and the torrent of venture-capital money became the grease that kept this bizarre machinery humming at breakneck velocity.
Until the house of cards built upon hyperinflated equity valuations collapsed and former millionaires-on-paper young titans suddenly find themselves stealing laptops and Aeron Chairs from their money-hemorrhaging employers to hock on eBay. Until investors started to demanding to see profits before opening their purse-strings for another round of financing.
Until Silicon Valley became a graveyard of thwarted ambition, a dust bowl holding the charred cinders from a thousand failed entrepreneurial dreams.
- pjammer, Po Bronson and the Fall of Silicon Valley

Dear Jay Barnes of the Past
I apologize in advance for you never receiving a letter warning you about the various evils that await you, however, to do such a thing would destroy what I know to be myself right now, and I can't let that happen, because I'm pretty freakin' great.
Sorry Guy,
Your Pal,
- shmivejournal, comment in Advice to your Former Self

After having read all this, I am sure you will be very anxious to catch up with me and find out more. Alas, that is impossible. For no matter how much you try, each step of yours in the future will also make me take another step ahead. You cannot catch up with me; destiny forbids it. By the time you reach where I am, I’ll be another ten years in the future. In your future.
Don’t be dismayed. This is imperative or you will never go through some bittersweet experiences which will bring you on my level. That is how it is, that is how it shall be.
- minn, Notes to Myself

Life is both so short and yet so tediously long.
With each passing year, we integrate the world on more and more abstract levels, the minutia becoming less and less surprising, and the true novelties relegated to ever grander scales (and thus further and further apart). So the time-line of consciousness is (potentially) exponential, yet the time-line of our physical existence is depressingly linear.
So there is this choice, to live a linear life (as most people do, by default) or strive for the exponential one, or to try to find some balance in the middle. But that balance is a hard one, between a linear and an exponential function with time itself pulled taught between the two. What if you had the choice between doing something today that you would enjoy, or starting something today that would take ten days but, in the end, bring you twice as much joy? Or a hundred days and thrice the joy? Or a thousand days and four times? Or possibly the rest of your life, and five times (if you didn't die first)?
Perhaps the healthy person just integrates it linearly, says ten days of unit joy is five times better than one shot of double-joy. But I think I'm a junky at heart. F--- with all the inbetween time, I want that unparalleled experience, whatever the cost. And once I've had it, I want the next level up. I already know what it's like to have a nice day. Why do it twice? I'll give up the rest of my nice days in exchange for an amazing day.
- simonfunk, Exponent Junkies

"Girlfriend-Express,' it read. "We'll find you Ms. Right."
They were offering to find me a girlfriend for $19.95. I wondered how they could even make such promises. Why does the Better Business Bureau let someone operate such a scam? Why would the Gutterfrump Times even accept their ad? I thoroughly scanned for the catch. I had no doubt that one was lurking somewhere.
The phone number was a local call. Not a 1-800 number. Not a 1-900 number. Nothing that said $5.95 per minute - just one price. I noted that it even had the same first three digits as my own number.
I made the call.
"Girlfriend Express, can I help you?"
"Yeah, I saw your ad and wanted to find out more."
"Yes sir, basically we have you answer a bunch of questions," the male voice drones. He sounds almost like a teenager. In fact, he sounds like the kid that lives next door who spends most of his time throwing rocks into the apartment complex pool when his parents aren't home. I wonder whether this is a joke. "Based on the way you answer the questions we find you Ms. Right. We set up the date, hand you her phone number and directions to her house. Then after you go out on your first date you both pay us $19.95."
This throws all of my questions out the window. Everything I had planned to use to debunk this foul scheme has just been negated. It sounds too good to be true, or too good to be untrue - one of the two.
"Great…." I mumble, instantly defeated. "What credit cards do you accept?"
Craig Mitchell, She Hates my Futon

The most revealing thing for me is the "pick one celebrity to date" question. It's amazing how many say Ben Affleck. Now, I don't dislike Affleck, but face it, he's the flavor of the week, and a notorious bad boy. Any woman who says, "But he's so cuuute and seems so niiiice" is suffering from a severe lack of standards, imagination, judgement, or some combination all three.
ernunnos, comment in The Bachelor

I read Blackhawk Down and Killing Pablo, and I would have summarized Mark Bowden thusly:
1. excellent research, excellent journalism
2. totally lacking the ability to draw big-picture generalizations.
So... the passage you quoted is, to my experience, totally unlike Mark Bowden. Blackhawk Down is almost torturous in its refusal to call a spade a spade, Clinton a jackass, the UN a disastrous congress of fools.
- faustin, comment in Meet Mark Bowden

We are highly evolved social animals who can talk. Words -- & the social nuances they convey -- powerfully viscerally matter.
Language conveys vital social signals, among other important things. Raise a human's status, and you reduce his blood pressure. Stress hormones are low in baboon males who have a high social position, but the same hormones are alarmingly high in males who are low in the pecking order. The bottom-ranking males stoop when they walk, have bedraggled fur, show signs of emotional misery, and are in poor health.
- perspectivism, comment in Invisibility, Vendettas and the Power of Words

Have you ever had the experience, when you read a book or hear music of such exquisite power and beauty, that you immediately want to meet with the author/musician? After all, the products of artists are highly personal creations; if these creations speak to you in a meaningful way, it's only human to want to respond. Even with the understanding that the published work represent the distilled essence of the artist - the product of culling disparate fragments of inspiration into a polished project - I nonetheless find myself compelled to try and connect with those whose creative works touch me.
But it's a hell of a thing, to live on the love of strangers. You spend your time trying to inspire devotion and adoration from your audience, only to arrive at the fundamental paradox that every successful artist confronts: you can't return all the love directed your way; there just isn't enough you around to spare.
- pjammer, Vienna Teng Concert & the Artist's Life
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