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The goal of the website will be to help optimize the growth and development of people by analyzing human nature.

Writing

Quotes - May 2016

Alexei Muravsky

“The psychological protective power of (1) hitting a precise known objective, (2) conducting such exact rehearsals and visualizations prior to combat – a form of conditioning, and (3) attacking an enemy who is caught by surprise and will hopefully have little chance to fight back is tremendous. Thus by their very nature such combat patrols involve far less random killing and are therefore less conducive to psychiatric causalities. “

- Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Societ


“During a crisis, people do not rise to the occasion, but rather fall to the level of their training.”

- Rick Braschler, When Lightning Strikes


On the occasion of every accident (event) that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use. If you see a fair man or a fair woman, you will find that the power to resist is temperance (continence). If labour (pain) be presented to you, you will find that it is endurance. If it is abusive words, you will find it to be patience. And if you have been thus formed to the (proper) habit, the appearances will not carry you along with them.

- Epictetus, Enchiridon


He who is discontented with what he has, and with what has been granted to him by fortune, is one who is ignorant of the art of living, but he who bears that in a noble spirit, and makes reasonable use of all that comes from it, deserves to be regarded as a good man.

- Epictetus, Discourses, Fragments, Handbook


The greatest power you could have in life would come neither from limitless resources nor even consummate skill in strategy. It would come from clear knowledge of those around you – the ability to read people like a book. Given that knowledge, you could distinguish friend from foe, smoking out snakes in the grass. You could anticipate your enemies’ malice, pierce their strategies, and take defensive action. Their transparency would reveal to you the emotions they could least control. Armed with that knowledge, you could make them tumble into traps and destroy them.

- Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War


Michael Corleone: ”You couldn’t get within five miles of Mussolini. Nobody could.”

Joe Lucadello: “Think about it. You read a lot of history books. There’s never been anyone – any hero, any villain, any king, any leader, of any kind – that it was impossible to kill.”

- Mark Winegardner, The Godfather Returns


“Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have passed before them are added to their own. Unless we are very ungrateful, all those distinguished founders of holy creeds were born for us and prepared for us a way of life. By the toil of others we are lead into the presence of things which have been brought from darkness into light. We are excluded from no age, but we have access to them all; and if we are prepared in loftiness of mind to pass beyond the narrow confines of human weakness, there is a long period of time through which we can roam. We can argue with Socrates, express doubt with Carneades, cultivate retirement with Epicurus, overcome human nature with the Stoics, and exceed its limits with the Cynics. Since nature allows us to enter into a partnership with every age, why not turn from this brief and transient spell of time and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the past, which is limitless and eternal and can be shared with better men than we?”

- Seneca, On the Shortness of Life


To me, the only good reason to take a risk is that there’s a decent possibility of a reward that outweighs the hazard. Exploring the edge of the universe and pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and capability strike me as pretty significant rewards, so I accept the risks of being an astronaut, but with an abundance of caution: I want to understand them, manage them and reduce them as much as possible. It’s almost comical that astronauts are stereotyped as daredevils and cowboys. As a rule, we’re highly methodical and detail-oriented. Our passion isn’t for thrills but for the grindstone, and pressing our noses to it.

- Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth


La plus commune façon d’amollir les coeurs de ceux qu’on a offencez, lors qu’ayans la vengeance [en se soumettant] en main, ils nous tiennent à leur mercy, c’est de les esmouvoir par submission [émoussa], à commiseration et à pitié: Toutefois la braverie, la constance, et la resolution, moyens [tout net] tous contraires, ont quelquefois servy à ce mesme effect.[1]

- Montaigne, Les Essais (Livre Premier, Chap. I.)


“But why had go with the flow popped into his head? Why one of the favourite expressions of his dad, that past master of euphemisms and other ways of hiding from yourself what you were really doing? His mom was good at that, too, although not nearly so expert as his dad. When his dad decamped from the University of Wisconsin in his junior year and went to off to San Francisco, he didn’t say he had dashed the hopes and broken the hearts of his parents, who had made great sacrifices to send him to the university. He characterized it as ‘moving off of dead center.’ When he and Conrad’s mom-to-be started living together in a fly-by-night commune on Haight Street, they didn’t call themselves hippies. That was a word they detested and resented. They referred to themselves as Beautiful People, a term they used in the singular also, as in: ‘Shag? Shag’s Beautiful People, man.’ The fact that his dad had never held a job in his life, other than a temporary one as night desk clerk at the Sailors’ Home, didn’t mean he was lazy and shiftless. No, it meant he was avoiding that ‘bummer’ known as ‘the whole bourgeois trip.’… He was seven when he first asked his mom and dad when and where they got married. He wanted to hear about the wedding. They gave him foolish grins and vague, conflicting answers. Soon enough he stopped asking, because even a child could figure out the truth. By and by he came to realize that the imprecation ‘bourgeois’ was supposed to explain all such matters. Only bourgeois people got ‘hung up’ on things like marriage, school, appointments, tidy homes, and hygiene. He was not even eleven when he first began to entertain the subversive notion that ‘bourgeois’ might in fact be something he just might want to become when he grew up…The worst morning of all, however, came one day when he got up to go to school and found his mom and dad asleep in bed – bed being a mattress on the floor and a blanket – no sheets – with another man and a woman he had never laid eyes on before, all four of them naked. He was never able to forget the flaccid areolae of the two women. He felt worse than wounded and betrayed; he felt shamed and dishonoured. His father had awakened while he was standing there and had put a sickly grin on his face and said, ‘Well, Conrad, sometimes you just gotta go with the flow.’ It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this phrase, go with the flow, was supposed to put a mystical aura around being a weak sloven and giving into you lowest animal appetites. His dad said ‘go with the flow’ a lot. Forever after, when Conrad heard people speak about the ‘sexual revolution,’ it made him despair about how little supposedly intelligent people understood concerning the world around them… After high school he left home, enrolled in Mount Diablo Community College in nearby Contra Costa County, and managed to squeeze by on odd jobs. It was in his second and last year at Mount Diablo, in Mr. Wildrotsky’s class that he first learned what ‘bourgeois’ meant in its historical context… To live the bourgeois life was to be obsessed with order, moral rectitude, courtesy, cooperation, education, financial success, comfort, respectability, pride in one’s offspring, and, above all, domestic tranquility. To Conrad it sounded like heaven."

- Tom Wolfe, A Man in Full


Notes:

1. The french is dated, due to the time it was written in.

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