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Articles I created or contributed significantly to include:

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See also: my user page on Wikipedia, my user page on Commons

Some quotations I happen to like:

  • The obvious solution [to the problems of the U.S. educational system] is not privatization or more decentralization, but national educational standards of accomplishment with uniform national tests, and national school funding. More bureaucrats the Republicans say, as though we are better off with real estate brokers running school boards and fighting, as Herrnstein and Murray point out, against more homework. I say a public school that worked as well as the post office would be a godsend.
    • ibid., p. 29
  • You can't get a leopard to change his spots. In fact, now that I come to think of it, you can't really get a leopard to appreciate the notion that it has spots. You can explain it carefully to the leopard, but it will just sit there looking at you, knowing that you are made of meat. After a while it will perhaps kill you.
  • This makes for exceedingly confusing maps, especially since unified maps of all the train lines in Tokyo are nigh-impossible to find, and look like the aftermath of someone throwing a bushel of kittens into a yarn factory.
    • Dave Brown, Usenet article <> (2007-01-25)
  • [Dragonlance:] It's like someone took 8bit Theatre, then removed all the Story and all the Funny, leaving only distilled stupid.
    • Douglas Henke, Usenet article <> (2007-02-22)
  • It takes a strong stomach to listen to the full CD-length version of "Requiem for a sleeve bearing".
    • Matt Roberds, Usenet article <OLPWi.1023$mv3.683@newsfe10.phx> (2007-11-02)
  • The ablaut distinction between lie and lay (and the parallel ones sit / set and rise / raise, all of which relate irregular inchoatives referring to body motion with regular derived causatives) is old, and therefore venerable to some. It's sacred morphology, like whom or Meā culpā!, and unnatural only to those who don't find history natural. Thus it becomes a badge also of education and social status in the Anglophone world.
  • The Fox agenda is distinctive not because Fox makes stuff up (though it's good at that) but because Fox builds and emphasizes particular categories, whether the stories in them are true or not. It's the national clearinghouse for stories about random episodic danger to children and pregnant moms. Fox scours the British tabloid press for stories about Muslim efforts to stamp out Barbie, Valentine's Day and the Three Little Pigs so you don't have to! Fox's agenda keeps you up to speed on the War On Christmas, the ACLU's efforts to turn your kids into socialist zombie apostles of sex, drugs and treason, and the doings of various unrepentant terrorists.
  • Science journalism isn't very good, but most of it isn't malificent. Fox journalism, on the other hand, is -- oh, how to put this? -- corrupt: anti-science and pro-stupid, not to mention nativist, pro-disease and a range of other unseemly traits, all in the service of its political masters. You can fix stupid, or at least you can try, but you can't fix evil.
  • People who cling to the idea that Fox is a form of journalism might wish to ask why Fox seems bent on ensuring that the population is scared and stupid. Put more simply: Why does Fox hate America?
  • But, and this is I think something Marx did not sufficiently appreciate, human beings confront all the structures which emerge from our massed interactions in this way. A bureaucracy, or even a thoroughly democratic polity of which one is a citizen, can feel, can be, just as much of a cold monster as the market. We have no choice but to live among these alien powers which we create, and to try to direct them to human ends. It is beyond us, it is even beyond all of us, to find "a human measure, intelligible to all, chosen by all", which says how everyone should go. What we can do is try to find the specific ways in which these powers we have conjured up are hurting us, and use them to check each other, or deflect them into better paths.
  • In the 1960s there seemed to be only one vegetarian restaurant in London, and it was defiantly named "Cranks". Its astonishing salads were an absolute revelation to most of us, who'd supposed up to then that vegetarianism meant eating meat and two veg without the meat, and for whom "salad" was a couple of floppy lettuce leaves and a tomato.
  • Opening access to knowledge and knowledge networks is a good things. In fact, I have often pointed out that the only educational reforms to ever succeed were ones of open access (Chinese imperial examinations, universal primary education, GI bill). But their successes were not educational but political. They opened up opportunities for engagement and discursive legitimacy for more people than had them before. There is no straightforward utilitarian link between access and success. The argument is and should be a moral one.
  • There's a special place in purgatory reserved for scientists who make bold claims based on tiny effects of uncertain origin; and an extra-long sentence is imposed on those who also keep their data secret, publishing only hard-to-interpret summary statistics from statistical models. The flames that purify their scientific souls will rise from the lake of lava that eternally consumes the journalists who promote and further exaggerate their claims.
  • Most British publishers would have insisted on the hyphen before the great British punctuation shortage developed in the 1950s, though.
  • There is, thus, no worse hed imaginable in the history of the world in space than "Police investigate." That is what cops do. When four people are found dead in a house late on Tuesday, that's the sort of thing that gets my attention on Wednesday morning -- not the procedural fact that the people we pay to investigate stuff are investigating stuff. There's a reason that, back in April 1865, the New York Times wrote that "the President ... was shot by an assassin," rather than "Police investigated the shooting of the president."
  • I think you're particularly onto something here, because in both cases, a large portion (the majority?) don't believe that these things are anything other than artificial and institutional and the only question is what is decided to be normative. Empiricism is either irrelevant or only secondary — it's secondary in the sense of studying details about what happens under some given artificial structure. Or, perhaps, it's of use only as pragmatics, that once you decide on a structure, then studying what happens afterwards might give you insight into more effectively imposing that structure. The point is that neither language or economics is considered by many to be things that have characteristics that are independent of deliberate human invention.
    Coupled with the fact that everyone has language and everyone participates in economic transactions and structures, then most people believe that the nature of these things, and what should be normative about them, can be understood through little more than intuition and introspection. So in both cases, arguments about them often exist primarily within the normative realm and implicitly are just arguments about values, with different groups asserting the primacy of different values. Empirical fact is dismissed when it contradicts these values and utilized when it doesn't. And those who don't share the view of these things as arbitrary human artifacts are on the other side of an intellectual chasm from those who do.
    • Keith M. Ellis, Language Log comment (2013-03-21), writing about the perception of linguistics and economics in the popular press
  • Premeditated details arrive, when you're writing, and my instinct is always to reach for the nearest weapon.
  • I noticed that my problems occur when I try to dominate the text, when I try to ask it to be something, or to ask it to fit into some sort of structure, or when I ask it to compliment my ego, or all of these things. That's really where all my problems start from. Where it's going very well, is where I have sort of surrendered to it, you know, where I am behind the text, and I am watching, like a dancer who's following another dancer, and just watching where it might go next. All I want to be is I want to be as ready and as available as possible for it. That seems to me all I really need to do.
    • Hisham Matar, ibid., at 42:00
  • I think of novelists that I really return to and admire, you can almost sense that the book is somehow ahead of them, just a little bit ahead of them, no? You could write from the front: you could pull the book; there are masters that do that, and you can admire the architecture of it. […] I suppose what I look for as a reader is a writer who's risky, who's putting themselves in a position that's vulnerable, where the text knows a little bit more, is a bit ahead of them. And so I aspire to write those books, and that's why I suppose I put myself in that position.
    • Hisham Matar, ibid., at 43:30
  • Sheffield was British so there isn't much sex in this and what there is is about as erotic as a tax form. Having read the treatment of sex by various British authors of this period, I believe the primary method of reproduction involved spores and the main source of sexual entertainment was guilt
  • Everywhere I see the mistake of ignoring that people have priorities in their lives besides merely surviving another day. Even in severe illness or frailty, people desire connections to others and to purposes of their own choosing. I think we've been wrong— I think we've been rather limited about what we think our job is in building systems of care for human existence. We think our job is to ensure health and survival, but really it is larger than that. It is to enable wellbeing, and wellbeing is ultimately about sustaining the reasons one wishes to be alive.
  • The ringing doesn't help, either; everybody with a hammer has a rhythm, but they're not the same and even with only three it's a lot like the evil opposite of music.
    • Graydon Saunders, A Succession of Bad Days (2015), ch. 8
  • Ecology doesn't work in reverse, you can't make dead things live. If you can't make dead things live, there's no going backward. So there's nothing to do but move forward, and pick the least awful forward you can get.
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch. 18
  • "The consequences of defeat are permanent; the consequences of victory persist until the next defeat." Wake says this conversationally. "So with good; what you do that is good persists until the next evil. This is very simple, if you can reliably decide what is good. Good would be a struggle to create a series of victories as little broken as you might arrange." […] "You could do good, if you could judge all the consequences of what you might do. Yet the world is immense; a full understanding of consequence is direly difficult to obtain, even should you live for thousands of years to see how what you have done works on the world, and yet good remains a judgement."
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch. 29
  • "Act to avoid constraining the future; if you can, act to remove constrain from the future. This is a thing you can do, are able to do, to do together." […] "Remember that the least constrained future anyone has yet managed prefers the rule of law to the whims of wizards."
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch. 29
  • Which is true: the tomato plants don't desire anything; the tomato plants have chemically-mediated decentralized responses to their environment, and if a unicorn thinks they smell invigoratingly of bitter death, that thought's all in the unicorn.
    • Graydon Saunders, Safely You Deliver (2016), ch. 22
  • It's habitual to confuse what you're used to with what's possible, and to give that a name.
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch. 24
  • "It is a surpassingly difficult problem to correctly select which subordinate to execute."
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch, 31
  • Unicorn backrests aren't ever going to be a widespread preference, but I think there is much about them to recommend.
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch, 58
  • "No borrowing trouble from the future, there'll be plenty delivered in due time."
    • Graydon Saunders, Under One Banner (2018), ch. 10
  • "Power's being able to harm someone and compel them to accept it. Do a thorough job and they'll devise reasons they deserved it. Do an exceptional job and they'll hurt themself for you. That's the Bad Old Days, everything settled by exercise of personal power and the flow of harm."
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch. 16
  • Gear sees the whole thing as having three cases; circumstances one can certainly overcome, circumstances where one must do all one can in the knowledge it will not suffice, and circumstances where the best response is unknown and must be discovered.
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., ch. 50
  • Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protectes but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect. There is nothing more or else to it, and there never has been, in any place or time.
    • Frank Wilhoit, comment 26 on the Crooked Timber post "The Travesty of Liberalism", 2018-03-22
  • My walking pace was a trouble to the graul. It led to our progress being steady only for myself. It is a strange feeling, to be passing down the road before an intermittent progress of rasping, as though one has become the harbinger of an infrequent advance of grist-mills in the old stone style. Still, we caused not delays in traffic, though our passage was not without startlement.
    • Graydon Saunders, A Mist of Grit and Splinters (2020), Theead 3
  • "The law must rest on material facts without exception, that is the Ur-law. Thereby, belief excuses you nothing and permits you nothing, nor may the Commonweal make law or regulation to judge belief nor prefer one belief to another. Thus the accumulation of precedent, that if belief compels you to unlawful deeds, you are tried for those deeds."
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid.
  • "Duty is that conduct which permits your future self benevolent self-regard. […] Awareness prevents that future self from startling your conscious knowledge. […] None avoid necessity. Let not our hearts be hard."
    • Graydon Saunders, ibid., Thread 6
a military new year's toast