great lines

Great Lines: The Christmas Edition

First, some important distinctions between dressing and stuffing at Thanksgiving:

I personally believe that the continued ingestion of stuffing can lead to behavioral changes like the inability to recognize the downbeat or the desire to masturbate publicly. I’m just saying, I’ve eaten dressing all my life and have never once felt the desire to masturbate in a room with more than one person. Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Mark Halperin ate stuffing all their lives, and look what happened.

Second, as someone who never understood why parents would give a fictional fat white dude for the presents they bought with their hard earned money, I entirely agree with this statement:

This is why black parents always end the charade and let their children know that, like Chicago’s “gang thugs,” All Lives Matter and trickle-down economics, Santa is a figment of the white imagination.

Third, an important point about how to really seek truth:

Without this fastidiousness about truth, you can't be truly independent-minded. It's not enough just to have resistance to being told what to think. Those kind of people reject conventional ideas only to replace them with the most random conspiracy theories. And since these conspiracy theories have often been manufactured to capture them, they end up being less independent-minded than ordinary people, because they're subject to a much more exacting master than mere convention.

The banality of evil

This Reddit post about Adolf Eichmann has some very deep insights about why people choose to believe in things like conspiracy theories:

In a search for some higher meaning, he gave himself to a cause so completely that he was unable to think outside of it's cliche's, standard lines... or from the point of view of other people. By adopting a cause Eichmann created a intellectual fence around himself and relieved himself of having to think critically or examine his convictions.

There is pleasure in understanding the world around us and meaning in the unending work of developing and refining a coherent world view. Adopting an ideology, short circuits that effort, providing pleasure and meaning with an unwarranted (and unquestioned) degree of certainty. Consequently, fully adopting an ideology, whether it's Nazism or Feminism, is fundamentally not a benign act. People do this on a regular basis: unquestioned, mild, allegiance to their church, to their political party, to traditional values, to their social causes, etc. This is the essence of "the banality of evil" that Arendt talks about. There is a strong intellectual resemblance between the unquestioned beliefs and unexamined assumptions that allow a man to ship millions of people to extermination camps, and the unquestioned assumptions and beliefs that we all operate on, on a daily basis. Psychopathic cruelty and blood-thirst are not required.

Educate and horrify

A classic line from The Simpsons:

“There’s no need to murmur, ma’am. Here at Itchy and Scratchy Land we’re just as concerned about violence as you are. That’s why we’re always careful to show the consequences of deadly mayhem, so that we may educate as well as horrify.”

To be good at something

I read this in a book called Football, which talks about various aspects of soccer in our culture. This quote perfectly sums up what I think you need to be good at something:


They're the ones with something to lose, which means I've got the reckless confidence you need to be good.

Great Lines: The Samantha Bee Edition

Samantha Bee is one of the funniest people out there today. You may not agree with her political views, but her book is filled with some great lines:

Who among us didn’t enjoy unwinding with liquor and smokes in the company of unsupervised children?

They were about to explain the fundamentals of lesbian sex to two impressionable nine-year-olds, and they had to do it in such a way that minimal information would be supplied but no further questions would arise.

Hitting puberty excavated a wellspring of evil energy in me that led me to the discovery that my parents were vulnerable and had made mistakes that could be exploited in an interesting way.

Sadness wafted everywhere you turned.

The fastidious gay man I worked with went limp with “the vapors.” When he recovered his senses, his disgust was electrifying.

Get the details right

From Mastermind, a James Bond villain-level hacker had the following exchange at his trial:

Q. And, for example, you ordered the murder of a Filipino customs agent, correct?

A. That’s not correct.

Q. What is not correct about it?

A. The individual wasn’t a customs agent.

Keenly waiting for revenge

From the book Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley's Swingin' A's, this great story about outfielder Billy North:

In a May 18 game against the Royals at the Coliseum, however, he let slip his bat on a swing against reliever Doug Bird, the lumber sailing harmlessly between the mound and third base. While going to retrieve it, however, North took an unexpected right turn and pounced upon the unsuspecting pitcher, peppering him with as many punches as he could before being tackled away by players from both teams. The only guy in the building who wasn't confused as hell was the guy swinging his fists.

The feud dated back to 1970, when North played for the Quincy (Illinois) Cubs of the Single-A Midwest League. Bird, pitching for Waterloo (Iowa), had given up homers to the two players preceding North in the lineup, and responded (in North's opinion) by brushing the hitter back. "Hey, man, I didn't hit those homers," he snapped at the catcher before settling back into the box. The next pitch, a fastball, hit him in the head with such velocity that North required hospitalization.

He'd been keenly waiting for revenge ever since, paying close attention to the transaction wire for the moment Bird was called up from the minors. The fight occurred during the pitcher's fourth major league appearance. "I don't think I could live with myself and not challenge that dude," North said afterward.

Such certainty did not grip his teammates. "We were all looking at each other going, "What the hell is happening"" said [Joe] Rudi. Added [Ray] Fosse, "We're trying to win a championship, and when we found out this guy's doing something to redress a problem from the minor leagues, we couldn't believe it." Joe Cronin suspended North three games and fined him $100.

Thrilling and hilarious

who's on judge mathis today? #194:

greg dusts off his perry mason costume to say, “aha! that means you believed him, which means he isn’t lying and you’re here on behalf of a thief!” what was that sound? oh yeah, that was my bottom jaw s h a t t e r i n g against the floor. what a thrilling and hilarious trap!!!!! i really do be forgetting sometimes that greg is a real live trained lawyer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love Samantha Irby's recaps of Judge Mathis.

Great Lines: The Rules of Employment Edition

I couldn't pick just one or two of the points in this post, so I'm going to repost it.

  • Stay calm. Remember, you can’t become worse off than when you started.

  • Cultivate a professional mindset. You are above the company, descending to help them. Do the work required, do honest work, help them achieve their goals, but don’t become mentally trapped.

  • Negotiate. Books can help with this. There are thousands of good books to help develop “soft skills”, read them and use them.

  • It’s my moral obligation to update my resume and get it out there at the first signs of trouble. Don’t stew over bad or unfair situations, improve my situation, find better work.

  • Keep private life private.

  • Don’t think adversarially. Be professional.

  • Remember the feelings of others. See from their perspective.

  • When leaving a company, others will feel slightly resentful toward you, and you will feel excited because of new opportunities. Do not be too jovial in leaving or it will damage the memories others have of you. Empathize with them, tell them they will be missed, show concern for them and let them see you working hard on their behalf one last time.

  • Don’t half-work just to put in the hours. It’s better to give full effort half the day and then be done. Cultivating an ass-in-seat mentality is harmful to myself. When needed, give full effort all day, exceed expectations and demand compensation.

  • Consider doing personal projects early, before work. Give my best self to myself, to my own projects.

  • Do the bullshit. It may not make sense, it may not be right, but the resulting respect and power may be worth it. Do the silly certifications, compete for silly rewards, participate, have a good attitude.

  • Communicate with my adversaries. Help them, help them on their turf. If a contest arises, best them on their turf. They don’t care if I best them on my own turf.

  • None are above me, all are coworkers towards the company goals. It is not my place to decide all things, it is not my place to decide what I work on, or where I would be most valuable.

  • Don’t seek personal satisfaction through company projects. This leads to frustration. Be professional, take satisfaction in helping the company achieve its own goals, not my own. Personal projects are for personal satisfaction.

  • Do not complain at lunch with coworkers. Do not speak about your boss as though they are an adversary. Help your boss, they have struggles too, they need your help. Communicate with them, ask them how to help.

  • Thinking is work. (also)

  • Never burn a bridge just for personal satisfaction. Avoid burning bridges, but don’t let fear of burning bridges stop you from doing the right thing. Especially as you get older, you only have to maintain a good reputation until retirement age, not forever.

  • It’s your moral right to push for high compensation. Maybe even your moral obligation. Negotiating for a high wage will help others do the same. Keep your resume up to date.

  • All problems should be viewed through the lens of “How does this hinder the companies goals?” With this view, people will want to hear your problems, but they may not choose to solve the problem the same way you would. Management wants to know the code sucks, but they might not choose to rewrite everything. That’s their choice.

  • Just because people don’t think of things in the most abstract, general, or elegant way possible doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Sometimes you need to give people something that matches their way of thinking.

  • Don’t sneak out at the end of the day and hope nobody asks you about hours worked. Focus, do good work quickly, sell your work, make sure people know your important contributions, and then face the “hours worked” conversation with courage and good negotiating skills. Leave no doubt that you’re a valuable memeber of the team.

  • If you believe something may lead to problems, but nobody wants to change, watch for the problems to occur and when they do you can propose the change again. If no problems occur, then maybe it wasn’t really a problem.

  • The purpose and objective of work is to collect a paycheck by doing honest but comfortable work, enjoy the time and effort spent with your team, and not work too much overtime.

Roger Ebert's searing critiques

Roger Ebert was always at his best when he didn't like a movie, like 1980's Spit on Your Grave:

I wanted to turn to the man near me and tell him his remarks were disgusting, but I did not. To hold his opinions at his age, he must already have suffered a fundamental loss of decent human feelings. I would have liked to talk with the woman in the back row, the one with the feminist solidarity for the movie’s heroine. I wanted to ask if she’d been appalled by the movie’s hour of rape scenes. As it was, at the film’s end I walked out of the theater quickly, feeling unclean, ashamed, and depressed. This movie is an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures. Because it is made artlessly, it flaunts its motives: There is no reason to see this movie except to be entertained by the sight of sadism and suffering.

Work attire


"You need to dress like you have a job and parents who raised you in some kind of shame based American religious tradition." - Liz Lemon

Pine Tar Game

From Filip Bondy's book about the Pine Tar Game:

And then Martin made a move that led to one of my favorite baseball moments: At the start of the game, Martin had reliever George Frazier appeal the play at first, claiming Brett had missed the bag during his home-run trot. When that was denied, Frazier appealed that Brett had missed second base and then appealed that Brett had missed third base. After all that, Martin stormed out of the dugout to shout there was no possible way the umpiring crew — a new umpiring crew — could know whether Brett had touched all the bases. Ha! Martin had them!

Only he didn’t. Home-plate umpire Dave Phillips pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Martin.

It was a notarized affidavit from the previous umpiring crew stating unequivocally that Brett had touched all the bases.

Great Lines: The Show Me I'm Making A Mistake Edition

I have a mixed relationship with what people would call self-help. I think most of it is bogus nonsense. But there are some people who make sense. The point here is that there aren't any absolutes. There is usually at least a modicum of value in most things.

First, a quote about failing to achieve goals. This goes with my feelings when I hear some version of "They're so smart, if they'd only apply themselves." To me, those are the stupidest people: you possess the ability but don't have the drive:

In fact, this impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, resulting in unnecessary frustration, due to a perceived feeling of failure. Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process. The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home. A blue collar work ethic married to indomitable will.

Second, another quote about how true creativity can be brought to the world:

“[Great creative minds] think like artists but work like accountants...

Third, I think that Marcus Aurelius is one of the most impactful thinkers who ever lived. I've linked the translation of Meditations that I think is the best:

If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.