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quotes

“I never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel”
– Roger Branigin. Or Mark Twain. Or Charles Brownson. Or Irving Leibowitz. Or William I. Greener Jr. Or H. L. Mencken. Or maybe Benjamin Franklin

I love quotations. When I was teaching full-time, I had a rotating series of printed quotations a dnposters decorating my classroom. In this digital age, I am frequently posting quotes that I find interesting on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or LinkedIn.

While searching for the author of a line that was quoted without attribution, I stumbled on the website Quote Investigator.

As a longtime teacher and reader and writer of research papers and dissertations, I am very aware of citing your sources. In the Internet Age, a lot of that kind of citing has fallen away – more out of laziness than deliberate plagiarism.

As a fan of Albert Einstein, I know that a good number of wise quotes attributed to him never came from his mouth or pen. Abraham Lincoln is another famous name that is often attached to wise words incorrectly.

The Quote Investigator website has an entry about the quote that starts this article. Well, one version of the quote. You can choose from:
1. Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel
2. I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel.
3. Never pick a fight with anyone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.

Some version of that idea has been credited to three big quotation sources: Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and H. L. Mencken.

Quote Investigator’s research knocks all three out of the running and lands on someone who came long after their deaths. They found the earliest citation for that second version of the quote was in The Indianapolis News in 1962 in a speech by Roger Branigin.

But Branigin doesn’t carry the same weight of authority as putting Twain, Franklin or Mencken’s name with the line.

There are lots of lines “quoted” and attributed to Anonymous and Author Unknown. Someone said or wrote these words, but has been lost to history. Or wasn’t famous enough to matter. Or had their name dropped off by a lazy person who followed.

I do know that Ambrose Bierce, in his The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary, defined quotation as “the act of repeating erroneously the words of another.”

And not everyone is a fan of those of us who like to repeat quotations.

“[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” – A.A. Milne, If I May

“He wrapped himself in quotations – as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.”  – Rudyard Kipling, Many Inventions

“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.” –  Dorothy Sayers

I like the irony of quoting from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson where he says “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

But then, I am more on the side of the oft-quoted Winston Churchill who said “It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations,” even though it could be interpreted as being a bit of a dig.

I am not quite sure what  Julio Cortázar means when he says “In quoting others, we cite ourselves” (Around the Day in Eighty Worlds). I suppose we do see ourselves in quotes we choose – as in “I wish I had said that.” Marlene Dietrich feels the same way. “I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”

I love the stories of the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft taking their messages from Earth out into universe. Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September. Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier.

Both Pioneers carry a plaque, but the Voyager spacecrafts carry a “phonograph record.” But I have always wondered what an alien finding it would be able to figure out about us. A lot of thought was given to what was included, but could it be understood? How might it be misunderstood?

Just on the basis of technology, if the Voyager’s “Golden Record” dropped into your backyard, could you “play” it? Chances are that you don’t even have the equipment to play a vinyl record any more.

Of course, we always seem to imagine the aliens as being way more advanced than us, so they could figure it out, right?

Besides a turntable and speakers, this record requires the aliens to have ways to hear and see similar to the ways we do those things. A lot of science-fiction tales have not shown us aliens with our ears and eyes. Can they interpret the record by just using their mind?

The Voyager record has a cover illustration and about 90 minutes of audio on the reverse side.

Looking at the cover illustration image of hydrogen and a pulsar map (the same as found on the Pioneer plaques) and important instructions on how to play them. It tells the aliens how to use the included stylus and what rate of rotation the record must be used and the proper waveform of signals generated by the record. These are similar instructions to those we would need to give to a Generation Z kid confronted with a record player.

Let’s assume they get the record to play and they have ears to hear it. What will they think about us when listening to the 50+ greeting messages in different languages? Again, I think of a Gen Z or almost any Earthling hearing 50+ different messages in different languages. Confusion. They might wonder why we don’t all speak in the same way. Or maybe they think all 50 messages are in the same language but are just different creatures speaking.

Then there is the music. I can’t imagine how they would react to hearing Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Are these dancing aliens?  I would guess that they might deal better with the Beethoven and Stravinsky without lyrics, though it is doubtful that music developed in the same way out there in the universe.

The record also contains 115 images. If they can decode the first ones, they will have technical data for the reader regarding mathematical definitions, scales and sizes, and information about our location and how to find us. There are images of our Sun and some of the planets in our solar system. Some pretty famous scientists have said that we really shouldn’t be telling them that because we don’t want them to find us.. These scientists are believers in the “aliens are evil” school of thought.

The images seem to me to be the part they might understand. Didn’t they tell me in elementary school that math was a universal language?

Will they interpret the medical and scientific diagrams showing the structure of our DNA and detailed images of human anatomy?

I do think they will be confused by some of the others in this Earthing photo album:  people eating, looking through a microscope, on a spacewalk, a string quartet etc. I am actually a bit frightened by how they might interpret a picture of a woman licking an ice cream cone.

Voyager 1 is currently in “Interstellar space” and Voyager 2 is currently in the “Heliosheath” (the outermost layer of the heliosphere).

We haven’t really nailed down what dreams are all about and there are still differing theories. In the explanation that Freud promoted, dreams are a way to see into our subconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. This is where we get the idea that the things in dreams (manifest content) are really symbols for the latent, or hidden, content.

Other theories view dreaming as a way the brain generates new ideas and creativity. This explains how people wake up with a poem or the solution to a complex problem.

A more everyday variation on this theory is another that posits that dreams are the way we process the day’s information. In sleep and dreaming, we categorize, prune away and store memories.

However, none of these explain the persistent idea that dreams, at least sometimes, seem to predict or foreshadow future events. The three theories first mentioned all deal with the past, whether it be the past 48 hours, or our childhood years ago.

If you have ever had a dream that later turned out to be “true” or prophetic, you probably have some belief in precognitive dreams.

J. W. Dunne, a British engineer and amateur philosopher, proposed that the way we believe we experience time as linear was an illusion. Human consciousness fools us into believing that, when in fact past, present and future were continuous in a higher-dimensional reality. We have imposed this sequential time mental perception of time as a way to understand it.

He wrote about what he called “serial time” is a series of books beginning with An Experiment with Time (1928) , The Serial Universe (1934), The New Immortality (1938), Nothing Dies (1940) and Intrusions? (1955).

As the years passed, he connected “serialism” to psychology, parapsychology, theology, relativity and quantum mechanics. Several famous novelists were fans of his theories, including James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Aldous Huxley.

Vladimir Nabokov was another novelist who was taken with the Dunne’s idea that serial time allowed for dreams to “predict” a future we had already experienced. It also explained the déjà vu phenomenon.

In a recently published collection titled Insomniac Dreams,, we can see an experiment in time that Nabokov conducted himself.

Every morning for about three months, he would write down immediately upon awakening what he could recall of his dreams. Then the following days, he paid careful attention to anything that seemed to do with the recorded dream. This dream journal was recorded on index cards, which has also been his compositional method when he wrote Lolita.

He is surely not the only dream journaler who has believed that dreams are not just fragments of past impressions, but are both past and future events. Dunne said this was possible in his serial view of time because time then is not unidirectional but recursive.

Dunne would also say that the only way to observe the predictive nature o dreams is to pay careful attention to the content of dreams, as Nabokov and journaling do, and the events that follow in waking life.

Nabokov finds some instances of prophecy in his recorded dreams, but nothing I would consider extraordinary despite his idea that when you are confronted with predicted outcomes that might be explained as coincidences multiple times, you cease to believe they are coincidences and believe they “form the living organism of a new truth.”

I am more in the coincidence school of belief about the predictive aspects of dreams, and that they are given more weight when we pay closer attention, as Nabokov did.

Perhaps, I should do my own experiment paying closer attention to the followup days  and dream self-reflection. Though lately, I have not had any dreams to record as they seem to disappear before I even wake up with my dream journal beside me. What’s that all about?

 

flash

A green flash seen from Santa Cruz, CA (Wikimedia)

The green flash has nothing to do with the red Flash of comic books. They are an optical phenomena that sometimes occur just after sunset or right before sunrise.

With the right conditions, a distinct green spot is briefly visible for just a second or two above the upper rim of the Sun’s disk.  It may look like green ray shooting up from the sunset (or sunrise) point.

These green flashes occur because the Earth’s atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to separate out into different colors.

They can be seen with the naked eye looking at a very clear and very distant horizon. Looking at a location near an ocean improves your chances.

The time to view is at the last moment before the sun disappears below the horizon. Don’t look too soon because the sun can dazzle (and possibly damage!) your eyesight.

The flash doesn’t occur at every sunset or at every location. It is an atmospheric trick. I have yet to catch one, but I keep checking whenever I am near an ocean sunrise or sunset.

 


Dreams offer a good time for self-reflection. Many dreams are generated from worries and fears and stressors in your life. They might even get you to visit a doctor or change something in your life causing problems.

You know that we don’t usually remember your dreams, even if you surely have several of them a night during your REM time.

I read recently that even vivid dreams are quickly lost because we can’t form memories while dreaming. If you are consistently remembering dreams in vivid detail, that might be a sign that you are not getting restful sleep. Try adjusting your eating, drinking, or nighttime stress-relieving habits.

The key to interpreting your dreams is not to find the book of dream interpretations at the bookstore, but to figure out your own personal dream language.

Most dreams should be interpreted more broadly instead of specifically. Dr. Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona says that if in a dream you are having a heart attack, it might mean “you’re worried about your health, or maybe it means that you feel something bad may happen at work.”

Dreams don’t have to explain themselves because your unconscious mind already understands them. That is why all dream interpretation books suggest keeping a dream journal beside the bed to record any dreams as soon as you wake up. Skip the interpretation books and buy a nice blank book and start recording and reflecting. And pay attention to what pops up in your dreams tonight.


Doc Searls sends out the warning that “Google Condemns the Archival Web.” What web is that? It is the one when the URL is HTTP rather than HTTPS – the “S” for “secure.”  Google’s Chrome browser will mark all those older pages as “insecure” this summer, possibly striking fear in the clicking fingers of many users.

Google says:   “For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption…Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as ‘not secure’ on every current Chrome browser.”

So many “legacy” websites created in the days of yore, though they will still exist, will have a kind of Google crime tape around them. Will people dare to enter, or be scared off? I would assume all those insecure sites will see a drop off in visitors.

 

So why doesn’t everyone just fix what Google says to fix and make their site “secure?”  Well, there is some cost in money and/or time. For plain old folks who aren’t web wizards, they may not even know what needs to be done. There are old sites that no longer have an owner or webmaster but still exist on the World Wide Web that becomes more of a museum each year. For many sites -like blogs – there is no “cost benefit” to upgrading.

You’ll note that this site is HTTPS, thanks to the folks at WordPress doing the heavy lifting.

 

What happens if you use another browser like Firefox or Safari? I assume all will be well. For now. And you will be able to sneak under that police tape to those other sites – but you have been warned.

Google trumpets that developers have been transitioning their sites to HTTPS and that “progress last year was incredible” – Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected and over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected. I am a bit surprised that though they trumpet this stat: “81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default”  I would have thought that 100% of the top 100 sites would have complied.

This in the same week that it is announced that Wikispaces is shutting down. Soon young kids will ask what you mean when you say “Internet.”

Make a mental note for July so that you’re not shocked when you see some warning signs on the information superhighway.

 

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