Anthropomorphized Variables

I thought of the countless hours I had spent in math classes determining how long it took those three musketeers of math pedagogy, A, B and C, rowing at different speeds, to reach a certain bend in the river. No suspense about the outcome relieved the monotony of those races, for the three rowers were as foreordained as figures in a morality play to finish in the same order. It was a matter of character. A was strong and handsome, honest and decent, patriotic and God-fearing; B was plucky but flawed, fated to catch his oar on a rock just when victory seemed possible; and C was the amiable bumbler who is every one of us, capsizing in the stream. I always hoped for an upset—for C to redeem the best dreams of life’s losers, or at least for B to redeem the best dreams of life’s runners-up. It was not to be; in algebra textbooks, life’s races were rigged.

Zinsser, William. Writing to Learn 

Quotes from Stuff Read in 2020

The Buddhists had a helpful analogy here. Picture the mind like a waterfall, they said: the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions; mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall. Again, elegant theory—but, easier said than done.

The final step—“non-identification”—meant seeing that just because I was feeling angry or jealous or fearful, that did not render me a permanently angry or jealous person. These were just passing states of mind.
Harris, Dan. 10% Happier  

Extreme busyness, whether at school or college, kirk or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality; and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity. There is a sort of dead-alive, hackneyed people about, who are scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation. Bring these fellows into the country, or set them aboard ship, and you will see how they pine for their desk or their study. They have no curiosity; they cannot give themselves over to random provocations; they do not take pleasure in the exercise of their faculties for its own sake; and unless Necessity lays about them with a stick, they will even stand still. It is no good speaking to such folk: they cannot be idle, their nature is not generous enough; and they pass those hours in a sort of coma, which are not dedicated to furious moiling in the gold-mill. When they do not require to go to the office, when they are not hungry and have no mind to drink, the whole breathing world is a blank to them. If they have to wait an hour or so for a train, they fall into a stupid trance with their eyes open. To see them, you would suppose there was nothing to look at and no one to speak with; you would imagine they were paralysed or alienated; and yet very possibly they are hard workers in their own way, and have good eyesight for a flaw in a deed or a turn of the market. They have been to school and college, but all the time they had their eye on the medal; they have gone about in the world and mixed with clever people, but all the time they were thinking of their own affairs.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Apology for Idlers, Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson  

You can’t turn your back on your nature. I admitted to Ravelstein that reading those Keynes documents and writing the piece had been something like a holiday. Rejoining humankind, taking a humanity bath. There are times when I need to ride in the subway at rush hour or sit in a crowded movie house – that’s what I mean by a humanity bath. As cattle must have salt to lick, I sometimes crave physical contact.
Bellow, Saul. Ravelstein

Can a man who’s warm understand one who’s freezing?
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich  

Photograph – Def Leppard

JOE ELLIOTT: When we did “Photograph,” we went mental. Phil wore a polka-dot top. Steve wore all white. The day before the shoot, I had £25 in my pocket, and I went down Kings Road in London to get some clothes. I found a pair of black pleather trousers that were too short by about four inches, so I bought them, and some leg warmers, which I’d seen in the TV show Fame. When I was done buying the pants and the effeminate leggings, I had £8 left. I walked past a punk rock shop and they had a red-white-and-blue Union Jack shirt in the window for £7.99. It was all I could afford, and it was loud. After that video, the shirt became so iconic that we sold almost 100,000 of them on tour that summer. We couldn’t wait to make the videos. The morning we shot “Photograph” is when I frosted my hair for the first time. When “Photograph” came out, I was a blond bombshell. David Mallet was hilarious. He called everybody “dear boy.” He was very posh, very theatrical. When we turned up to shoot “Photograph” at Battersea Power Station, he’d built that whole set. There was gridding on the floor with lights underneath. It was fantastic. The girls in the cages have become a little dated, but at the time, it hadn’t been done so much, so it worked fine.

DAVID MALLET: Why did I put the girls in a cage? Girls belong in cages, come on.

JANI LANE, Warrant: I was a junior in high school, and when I saw “Photograph,” I was like, Oh my god.

Tannenbaum, Rob; Marks, Craig. I Want My MTV

Veteran GOP Strategist Takes On Trump – And His Party – In ‘It Was All A Lie’ – Stuart Stevens Interview, Fresh Air


This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, in today for Terry Gross. My guest, Stuart Stevens, is a veteran political consultant who says he spent decades waking up every morning eager to fight Democrats. Stevens was a strategist for scores of Republican campaigns, including the presidential bids of Bob Dole, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. But now he’s written a new book excoriating party leaders for their support of President Trump. The distinguishing characteristic of the current national Republican Party is cowardice, Stevens writes, the base price of admission is a willingness to accept that an unstable pathological liar leads it and pretend otherwise.

Stevens argues that the party’s support for Trump isn’t just a pragmatic choice. He says it reflects the party’s complete abandonment of principles it long claimed to embrace, such as fiscal restraint, personal responsibility and family values. His book is called “It Was All A Lie: How The Republican Party Became Donald Trump.”

“We’re not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen.” – Donald Trump, Close Reading of Speech at Stop the Steal Rally

20/ “We’re not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen.” Pronouns matter here. Trump repeatedly says “we”—over and over in his speech, he puts himself in the midst of his army. It matters because he shortly will *falsely* say “we” are going to march on the Capitol now.

21/ Media reports confirm Trump was told *days* before the Save America March that he couldn’t accompany the rally-goers to the Capitol. So his “we” is consistently rhetorical: he is strengthening his army’s backbone to do the unthinkable by deceitfully saying he’ll go with them.

22/ Trump now—for the first time—lets his speech be interrupted by an extended chant from his army, and it’s because it’s a chant he approves of and that matches what he wants: “FIGHT FOR TRUMP! FIGHT FOR TRUMP! FIGHT FOR TRUMP!” He grimly soaks it in, letting it carry on awhile.

Seth Abramson