Books that I have read that I recommend you read.
· Gulliver's Travels by: Jonathan Swift
· Lies My Teacher Told Me by: James W. Loewen
· Killing Hope by: William Blum
· The Rape of Nanking by: Iris Chang
· The Great Book of Hemp by: Rowan Robinson
· By Way of Deception *and* The Other Side of Deception by: Victor Ostrovsky
· The Fountainhead *and* Atlas Shrugged by: Ayn Rand
· From The Holy Mountain by: William Dalrymple
· An Eye For an Eye by: John Sack
· Guide To Getting It On by: Paul Joannides
· The Odyssey by: Homer
· STATIC: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back by: Amy & David Goodman
· Confessions of an Economic Hitman by: John Perkins
· ...more to follow.
Books that I have read that I recommend you do not read.
The O'Reilly Factor by: Bill O'Reilly
On Being Impressed...
"I can't call you a god because there is no god"
- Keith Floyd Pierce
"Art remains the marrow that fills life's hollow skeleton of duties, responsibilities, and obligations. One needn't paint or write to be an artist in life; any person who transforms the lackluster hours of painful existence with love, compassion, selflessness, and is in this manner creative and courageous, is an artist. Every relationship his masterpiece, each exchange an opportunity to transform the mundane.”
Square Moon Diary, January 2002
On The "Christian Roots" of the United States of America
"The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation.”
Treaty of Tripoli (1797)
Treaty was carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, US Consul)
"Once you label me, you negate me.”
As quoted in Journal of Marriage and Family Counseling, Vol. 2 (1976) by American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, p. 33
On Death and Dying
"Reflective thought is the best way to honor a loved one. Life is abstract that way – you know and love someone who is here and then one day they’re not but they do live on. I have experienced this throughout my life and when I reflect on a moment, a memory, a saying from my mother or someone that I've cherished, find it to be kind of nice, a part of them lives inside you and will be there for all of your life.”
On Rebels and Revolutionaries...
"The Rebel never cuts the rope that ties him to his torment...he just tugs at it and strains and pulls for a while, till it begins to hurt after which he usually calms down and gets "real", whereas the Revolutionary begins by cutting the rope and walking away."
"I'm a firm believer in measure twice, cut once."
Jamie (Comcast Technical Support Rep)
On Being Nice...
"You should be nice to everybody - it does not cost you a penny."
On Anger and Aging...
"If I get mad, don't get mad at me, OK? I can get angry sometimes, but I'm old, so it's OK."
On Original Sin
"Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not.
It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim upon him—it does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the good is that which is non-man.
The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.
A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.
Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a “tendency” to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.
What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love—he was not man.
Man’s fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin. His evil, they charge, is that he’s man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives.
They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man."
On True Religion
"The essence of true religious teaching is that one should serve and befriend all. It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business."
II-248 Mahatma Gandhi
"Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify."
Henry David Thoreau
On setbacks, bad times, and problems
"As I share the stories from my life, I hope that this book might allow other people, when facing what looks like tremendous setbacks, to know you don't have to face a pointless death in a foreign land to realize you've been lucky or blessed. You don't have to return from a battle where thousands were left for dead or captured behind you to be a survivor. All you have to do is say: 'Bad times mean take that deep breath. Bad times mean take two steps back for a minute and look again.' You can't see the problem you have until you line it up next to the problems you've had before and overcome."
From "And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since" by Charles B. Rangel:
From The Family...
"I know your shirt says 'No, I will NOT fix your computer' but, I'm family, bro. Call me back."
Uncle Tom (from a voicemail message)
On The Masses...
"The masses are asses."
"Common sense isn't all that common anymore."
"When push comes to shove, you should be in a position to do both."
Joseph Raphael Atto
On Classified Information...
"The biggest crimes of our generation — torture, warrantless wiretapping, and extraordinary rendition — would not have come to light but for the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. For the hand-wringing "but we can't willy-nilly reveal classified information" crowd, do you think Abu Ghraib wasn't classified?"
On Foreign Assistance...
"The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States." – US Agency for International Development, "Direct Economic Benefits of U.S. Assistance Programs" (1999); i.e., most of the money is paid directly to US corporations.
On Cowardice and "Terrorism"
Journalist: M. Ben M'Hidi, don't you think it's a bit cowardly to use women's baskets and handbags to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people?
Ben M'Hidi: And doesn't it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on defenseless villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets.
From the film "The Battle of Algiers"
"At the present day, and in this country, as I find by my own experience, a few implements, a knife, an axe, a spade, a wheelbarrow, etc., and for the studious, lamplight, stationery, and access to a few books, rank next to necessaries, and can all be obtained at a trifling cost. Yet some, not wise, go to the other side of the globe, to barbarous and unhealthy regions, and devote themselves to trade for ten or twenty years, in order that they may live, -that is, keep comfortably warn, -and die in New England at last. The luxuriously rich are not simply kept comfortably warm, but unnaturally hot; as I implied before, they are cooked, of course à la mode.
Excerpt from "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau
On Helping Others Freely...
"One thing I've learned in life and that is:
The more you help someone, the more they stab you in the back. And the ones you help the most are the ones that stab you in the back the most!
No one appreciates anything for free, because they do not know where it came from, and how hard you had to work for it.
I learned these things the hard way!!!
The people I helped the most were the first to betray me. BUT they are all SEVEN FEET UNDER now! So it was their loss, not mine! Whoever hurt me got screwed royally by nature. You see, you can't kill bambi and get away with it!!!
The people that I made WORK for the help I gave them, are still my friends, and they appreciate everything they have now.
I found out that it's human nature NOT to appreciate the things that are given to you FREELY.
Look at this earth and everything in it! DO we appreciate it? NO! We are always looking upward because we think there's a heaven better than this place.
We don't realize this IS paradise, but we have to work hard to keep it a paradise, not piss all over it!"
Words of wisdom, gained through experience. - Maggie Yonan
"And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind."
Exerpt from "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
"The person that you would want to help if they needed money will never ask you for it, and... The person who you do not want to lend money to will always ask you for it."
Contributed by Kristopher Khoury
On martyrdom and immortality through legacy...
"Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
Spoken by Hugh Latimer to his friend Nicholas Ridley, as they were both about to be burned as heretics for their teachings and beliefs outside Balliol College, Oxford (October 16, 1555). Hugh Latimer was a British clergyman, Bishop of Worcester, Protestant martyr during the reign of Queen Mary I of England
On societal degredation, homogenization, and our present state of affairs...
"Every fireman, sooner or later, hits this. They only need understanding, to know how the wheels run. Need to know the history of our profession. They don't feed it to rookies like they used to. Damn shame. Only fire chiefs remember it now. I'll let you in on it."
"When did it all start, you ask, this job of ours, how did it come about, where, when? Well, I'd say it really got started around a thing called the Civil War. Even though our rule book claims it was founded earlier. The fact is we didn't get along well until photography came into its own. Then - motion pictures in the early twentieth century. Radio. Television. Things begin to have mass."
"And because they had mass, they became simpler. Once, books appealed to a few people, here, there, everywhere. They could afford to be different. The world was roomy. But then the world got full of eyes and elbows and mouths. Double, triple, quadruple population. Films and radios, magazines, books leveled down to a sort of pastepudding norm, do you follow me?"
"Picture it. Nineteenth-century man with his horses, dogs, carts, slow motion. Then, in the twentieth century, speed up your camera. Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests. Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending."
"Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume. I exaggerate, of course. The dictionaries were for reference. But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet (you know the title certainly, Montag; it is probably only a faint rumor of a title to you, Mrs. Montag) whose sole knowledge, as I say, of Hamlet was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors. Do you see? Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there's your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more."
"Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Our, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests, Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in midair, all vanishes! Whirl man's mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!"
"School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finaly almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?"
"The zipper displaces the button and a man lacks just that much time to think while dressing at dawn, a philosophical hour, and thus a melancholy hour. Life becomes one big pratfall, Montag; everything bang, boff, and wow!"
"Empty the theatres save for clowns and furnish the rooms with glass walls and pretty colors running up and down the walls like confetti or blood or sherry or sauterne. You like baseball, don't you, Montag? You like bowling, don't you, Montag? And golf? Basketball? Billiards, pool? Football? More sports for everyone, group spirit, fun, and you don't have to think, eh? Organize and organize and superorganize super-super sports. More cartoons in books. More pictures. The mind drinks less and less. Impatience. Highways full of crowds going somewhere, somewhere, somewhere, nowhere. The gasoline refugee. Towns turn into motels, people in nomadic surges from place to place, following the moon tides, living tonight in the room where you slept this noon and I the night before."
"Now let's take up them inorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. DOn't step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean. Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca. Books, so the damned snobbish critics said, were dishwater. No wonder books stopped selling, the critics said. But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive. And the three-dimensional sex magazines, of course. There you have it, Montag. It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship to shart with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals."
"What more easily explained and natural? With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the buy in your own school class who was exceptionally 'bright,' did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me? I won't stomach them for a minute. And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely, all over the world (you were correct in your assumption the other night) there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes. They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the forus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior: official censors, judges, and executors. That's you, Montag, and that's me."
"You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can't have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't they? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these."
"Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it. Someone's written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, into the incinerator. Funerals are unhappy and pagan? Eliminate them, too. Five minutes after a person is dead he's on his way tot he Big Flue, the Incinerators serviced by helicopters all over the country. Ten minutes after death a man's a speck of black dust. Let's not quibble over individuals with memoriums. Forget them. Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean."
Montag: "There was a girl next door. She's gone now, I think, dead. I can't even remember her face. But she was different. How - how did she happen?
"Here or there, that's bound to occur. Clarisse McClellan? We've a record on her family. We've watched them carefully. Heredity and environment are funny things. You can't rid yourselves of all the odd ducks in just a few years. The home environment can undo a lot you try to do at school. That's why we've lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we'are almost snatching them from the cradle. We had some false alarms on the McClellans, when they lived in Chicago. Never found a book. Uncle had a mixed record; antisocial. The girl? She was a time bomb. The family had been feeding her subconscious, I'm sure, from what I saw on her school record. She didn't want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarassing. You ask why to a lot of things and you wind up very unhappy indeed, if you keep at it. The poor girl's better off dead."
"Luckily queer ones like her don't happen often. We know how to nip most of them in the bud, early. You can't build a house without nails and wood. If you don't want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, topheavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. They they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, nowadays, is happier than any man who tried to slide-rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won't be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely. I know, I've tried it; to hell with it. So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your daredevils, jet cars, motorcycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with automatic reflex. If the drama is bad, if the film say snothing, if the play is hollow, sting me with the theremin, loudly. I'll think I'm responding to the play, when it's only a tactile reaction to vibration. But I don't care. I just like solid entertainment."
"I must be going. Lecture's over. I hope I've clarified things. The important thing for you to remember, Montag, is we're the Happiness Boys, the Dixie Duo, you and I and the others, against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. We have our fingers in the dike. Hold steady. Don't let the torrent of melancholy and dread philosophy drown our world. We depend on you. I don't think you realize how important you are, we are, to our happy world as it stands now."
"One last thing. At least once in his career, every fireman gets an itch. What do the books say, he wonders. Oh, to scratch that itch,eh? Well, Montag, take my word for it, I've head to read a few in my time, to know what I was about, and the books say nothing! Nothing you can teach or believe. They're about nonexistent people, figments of imagination, if they're fiction. And if they're nonfiction, it's worse, one professor calling another an idiot, one philosopher screaming down another's gullet. All of them running about, putting out the stars and extinguishing the sun. You come away lost."
Excerpt from "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury. Captain Beatty speaking to Montag.