Odds & Ends

A collection of quotes I’ve stumbled across and wanted to write something about or share but never finished a proper post. Collected here with half finished or no commentary…

I have the most devoted and ardent of friends, and affectionate relatives — and of enemies I really make no account.

Walt Whitman, in a letter to a German friend on his sixty fourth birthday

Words to live by? Contrast with “keep your friends close but your enemies closer,” from The Godfather Part II.

Fluidity of memory and a capacity to forget is perhaps the most haunting trait of our species.

Wade Davis in The Unraveling of America [], published in Rolling Stone

The whole article is worth reading, depressing as it is. But if Americans don’t start to internalize the decline of America and its ideals, replaced as they have become by quick and catchy political slogans and dogma packaged as identity then nothing will change and America is doomed as an idea if not a country.

Someone once told me that the founding documents of America, the. Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, are some of the most enlightened and important documents in the history of humanity and human thought. A bit of hyperbole but point taken. He also said that America’s history is an ongoing experiment to see if humanity can live up to such lofty ideals. It took us “four score and seven years” to even begin to live up to the first line of the Declaration, that “all men are create equal” and as we approach 250 years we are still struggling with that one.

Progress has been slow and fitful, but there has been progress. But somehow there is always a significant number of Americans that fall back on their tribalism and unite in their fear of the other. It’s a sad irony that those who publicly shout about the greatness and sanctity of the Constitution are the ones who seem to be the furthest for living up to ideals on which it is based.

In competitive athletics you play the best you can on that day, and sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. It is best to not be overly attached to the final result if you want to play your best…

Richard Geib, posted in “Mushin” – A Legacy to My Daughter [] on

[W]e judge the sophistication of our peers by how sophisticated they are with use of language. Your smartest friends can use deadpan sarcasm, and your smartest friends can get it when you’re deadpanning sarcasm

Stanley Dubinsky, quoted in “The Dad-Joke Doctrine” [], pubished by The Atlantic

The article is from 2018 but it showed up in a list of Fathers Day related articles this year. It’s interesting giving some theories on why the dad joke exists, how there is analogous ‘traditions’ in some other cultures and languages. Serious lack of dad jokes in the article through. And the few they do give just re-enforce the “dad-jokes = bad-jokes” stereotype.

Anyway, it’s not the dad jokes that this quote is about, it’s about the use of complex linguistics like sarcasm, or puns. I love sarcasm and puns. But living in Singapore I think a lot of my sarcasm and puns go over most peoples heads. To the point that I use a lot less of them than I used to, though sometimes I can’t help myself, the immediate response or comment to a what someone says just comes out without conscious thought, it has to for it to work, if you wait five minutes to make a sarcastic remark or come up with a pun as part of your response then there is no point.

The issue is mostly because English is not most people’s first or primary language. Even when it is the primary language for a lot of Singaporeans, taught in school as the main language, the proficiency and vocabulary is not strong enough to handle more complex puns and sarcasm. There is just too high a proportion of non-native speakers you talk to in daily life, daily interactions demand simpler language. People just don’t use puns and sarcasm so much.

I feel like many snappy retorts and come-backs are lost on most people I speak with, they just don’t immediately get the joke.

My mother is very religious so I’m very much aware of the attitude that these are the last days. But, let’s face it, no matter where we have been in history, whoever has existed has been living in the last days… their own. When each of us dies the world ends for us.

Octavia E. Butler, in Octavia E. Butler: The Last Interview and Other Conversations

I’ve never read Octavia Butler, always on the list, never at the top. But I like this quote I found in a post on The Marginalian [].

Expressing oneself in the world and creativity are the same. It may not be possible to know who you are without somehow expressing it.

Rick Ruben, in The Creative Act

I’ve always had to desire to create, but never the drive to truly create. I play at it but I don’t put in the hours to be a truly creative person.

For example, I’ve been doing photography for more than 25 years, but I’ve never tried to truly learn to be a photographer. I never took a class or read a book. I’ve googled my way to solving specific problems or copying a cool effect I see. I’ve absorbed a lot of lingo and I can control my camera fairly well. Even enough to master full manual mode.

I use Lightroom to clean up my photo. And it comes with photoshop but I’ve rarely opened photoshop. The closest to creativity with images I get is using Adobe’s Express to make the featured images on my posts. I am happy with most of those, especially the ones I did for my series of posts covering my best mobile photos [] year by year since 2004.