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exploring how the world works and why it works that way …


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You want a dark, Goth version of Tweety Bird? Have at it.

— Lisa Gregorian, executive vice president for worldwide marketing at Warner Brothers Television, in a story about “[a]n unusually large number of classic characters for children … being freshened up and reintroduced — on store shelves, on the Internet and on television screens — as their corporate owners try to cater to parents’ nostalgia and children’s YouTube-era sensibilities”; June 11.

Your eminence, you’re looking good.

— President Bush, addressing Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican; June 13.

He should expect just like any other citizen to be stopped at a roadblock, which have been there for time immemorial, and they don’t amount to detention.

— Wayne Bvudzijena, spokesman for police in Zimbabwe, after reports that two top officials from the main opposition party were arrested; an opposition party statement said that Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was arrested at Harare Airport: “ten men in plain clothes whisked him away. His whereabouts are unknown,” the party said; June 13.

In the two decades that have passed since the honorary degree was awarded, Robert Mugabe has pursued policies and taken actions that are antithetical to the values and beliefs of the University of Massachusetts. I must recommend that we sever the connection that was formed when Robert Mugabe appeared to be a force for positive change in Africa. Today, that promise no longer exists.

— Jack M. Wilson, president of the University of Massachusetts, in recommending to the board of trustees that it strip Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, of the honorary doctorate awarded him in 1986; “The unprecedented move for the university, which faced pressure from state leaders, came a year after a similar step by the University of Edinburgh. It granted Mr. Mugabe a degree in 1984. A third institution, Michigan State University, is mulling whether to take back an honorary doctorate it bestowed in 1990. Earlier this month, Britain began reviewing Mr. Mugabe’s honorary knighthood”; June 13.

When times are tough, there seems to be a tendency to say there is too much freedom. Free speech matters because it works. The world didn’t suffer because too many people read ‘Mein Kampf.’ Sending Hitler on a speaking tour of the United States would have been quite a good idea.

— Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Boston, disagreeing with the argument of former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, a liberal, that some of the most stringent First Amendment protections ought to be relaxed “in an age when words have inspired acts of mass murder and terrorism”; June 11.

I think it’s disgusting. People are going to worry when the ambulance comes out to their house whether they are there to care for them or to take their organs.

— Michael A. Grodin, director of bioethics at Boston University, on New York City’s plans to deploy “a special ambulance to collect the bodies of people who have died suddenly from heart attacks, accidents and other emergencies and try to preserve their organs”; May 24.

The Bush administration has spent years not only talking at very senior levels with one of the world’s worst tyrants, who is responsible for genocide, but also reportedly offered the regime major concessions in exchange for minor steps and rolled out the red carpet for some of its most reprehensible officials.

— Susan E. Rice, who handled Africa policy in the Clinton administration and is a top adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, on President Bush’s engagement with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whose government Mr. Bush has accused of “genocide”; May 27.

When you are dealing with people who have done really bad things, there are difficult moral and political issues that keep you awake at night. But if you see a way where you may be able to save lives and ameliorate humanitarian suffering, you test the opportunity.

— Richard S. Williamson, a special envoy of President Bush who “plans to meet with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whose government sheltered Osama bin Laden and pursued a scorched-earth policy in southern Sudan that resulted in more than 2 million deaths”; May 27.

Every 25 pounds we remove, we save $440,000 a year.

— Tim McGraw, Northwest’s director of corporate environmental and safety programs, on the airline’s attempts to save on fuel costs; “the nation’s airlines will collectively spend $61.2 billion this year on jet fuel — more than five times what they spent in 2002, when travel fell sharply after the September 2001 terrorist attacks”; June 11.

We [have] become a space mission company, not simply a seller of seats.

— Eric Anderson, the chief executive of Space Adventures, reporting that Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, is likely to occupy one of the two available seats on Space Adventures’ 2011 flight; it has plans to buy a Soyuz flight all its own in 2011, with the option of buying more; June 11.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – On May 29, 2008, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) kicked off a two-day Gulf Coast Conference on Disaster Relief and Preparedness, exploring ways to strengthen disaster recovery efforts through expanded partnerships with America’s nonprofit sector. As part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, the conference also emphasized the critical and increasing role of faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs), and their armies of volunteers, in response and rebuilding plans for future disasters.

— lede of a press release from the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

Upon review of our assets and our need to continue to store them, we determined that they were excess to FEMA’s needs; therefore, they are being excessed from FEMA’s inventory.

— James McIntyre, FEMA’s acting press secretary, explaining why the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave away to other federal and state agencies about $85 million in household goods meant for Hurricane Katrina victims, claiming storage costs exceeded $1 million annually; June 11.

I still can’t believe that we bought a billion dollars’ worth of product with a 25-line spec. There’s not much you can do in 25 lines to protect life safety. There’s over 20,000 parts in these homes.

— Joseph Hagerman, a Federation of American Scientists expert who is leading a $275 million effort to develop new emergency housing, on how the federal government, through FEMA, with just a single page of specifications, ordered nearly $2.7 billion worth of trailers and mobile homes to house Hurricane Katrina’s victims; “industry and government experts depict the rushed procurement and construction as key failures that may have triggered a public health catastrophe among the more than 300,000 people, many of them children, who lived in FEMA homes”; May 25.

The traffickers have a paradise here. Justice does not work. The police do not work. A place where criminals can do whatever they want is not a state. It is chaos.

— Constantino Correia, a top Justice Ministry official in Guinea-Bissau who is coordinating his government’s efforts against cocaine traffickers; “Officials said some of the world’s richest criminal gangs are exploiting barely functioning countries such as Guinea-Bissau, which has 63 federal police officers, no prison and a population that still lives largely in thatched-roof homes on dirt roads with no electricity or running water”; May 25.

Jerry Daggle, who has been an Exxon dealer for two decades after working his way up from pumping gas, said he has done well. But he still cannot fathom how the oil company can charge him different wholesale gasoline prices for each of the five Northern Virginia stations he owns. The stations all sell the same Exxon-branded gasoline, delivered from the same terminal in Newington, where it arrives via the same pipeline. Sometimes, Daggle said, it’s even dropped off by the same truck and driver hours apart on the same day.

— from a Washington Post story by Steven Mufson detailing how Exxon “uses franchise agreements to maintain tight control over stations that bear its brand. The company dictates everything from the number of pumps to hygiene practices to the placement of food on convenience store shelves”; emphasis added; May 25.

I find, therefore, that adherence to the general policy of contracting only with providers that do not knowingly employ unauthorized alien workers and that have agreed to utilize an electronic employment verification system designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security to confirm the employment eligibility of their workforce will promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.

— from an executive order by President Bush titled “Amending Executive Order 12989, as Amended”; emphasis added; June 9.

It is impossible for any white person in the United States, no matter how sympathetic and broad, to realize what life would mean to him if his incentive to effort were suddenly snatched away. To the lack of incentive to effort, which is the awful shadow under which we live, may be traced the wreck and ruin of score of colored youth. And surely nowhere in the world do oppression and persecution based solely on the color of the skin appear more hateful and hideous than in the capital of the United States, because the chasm between the principles upon which this Government was founded, in which it still professes to believe, and those which are daily practiced under the protection of the flag, yawn so wide and deep.

— from a speech titled “What It Means to be Colored in Capital of the U.S.” delivered by Mary Church Terrell to the United Women’s Club, Washington, D.C., on Oct. 10, 1906.

People have to be ‘record men’ again. They actually have to earn a living. You get a record out there, it sells 50,000 copies over the course of 18 months. You have to work it, because they don’t buy 50,000 the first week. It’s great to see people who actually love the music back in business in these smaller concerns. I’ve never seen people take more vacations than these big record company people.

— singer-songwriter John Hiatt on the emergence of smaller, independent record labels as major labels falter; June 11.

“The American people have reason to question the judgment of a candidate who has shown he will only make the right call when under pressure from the news media,” Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesman, said …

Mr. Obama’s spokesman, Bill Burton snapped back a few minutes later in an e-mail message: “We don’t need any lectures from a campaign that waited 15 months to purge the lobbyists from their staff, and only did so because they said it was a ‘perception problem.’ ”

— dueling statements from the campaigns of presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain following the resignation of James A. Johnson, the consummate Washington insider whom Senator Barack Obama tapped to head his vice-presidential search effort, … to try to silence a growing furor over his business activities”; June 13.

Sadly for Oscar de la Renta, Cindy McCain, the wife of the presumptive Republican nominee for President, spent her afternoon “just looking” at “nothing in particular” at the designer’s Seventh Avenue showroom. De la Renta is the king of First Lady couture, having done inaugural gowns for the last two grandes dames of Pennsylvania Avenue, and duds for several others. (We’re still waiting for him to come out with a lady-sized “I’m With Stupid” t-shirt for those long nights on Air Force One.) And millionairess McCain, as we all know by now, has a taste for the smart suits and kicky colors that Oscar does so well. So why didn’t she buy? Is she waiting for a discount? Or, heaven forbid, an endorsement?

— from Alexandra Marshall in “The Moment,” a daily blog that “spans the T Magazine universe of fashion, design, food and travel”; June 12.

It’s also good for me. It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.

— Terry Lee, 54, an attendee at the ninth annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball in Colorado Springs with his youngest daughter, Rachel, 16; at the ball, fathers read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity”; May 19.

Our condemnation of cultural practices and beliefs in our own country that violate girls’ and young women’s dignity and most intimate personal boundaries should be no less total. For, when it comes to female chastity, much of what passes for “protection” is nothing less than sick.

— from a New York Times blog Domestic Disturbances by Judith Warner, author of “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety”; June 12.

Men are telling us that being a good dad is important to them, and this notion of a detached guy separate from the family and who is either ignored or reviled, that’s not a message that’s going to resonate with the dads we talked to.

— John January, director of brand voice at Kansas City ad agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink and the father of three young children, on a survey of 300 men by his agency about their impressions of depictions of fathers in the media; June 12.

We’ve been saying that for 10 years. We’d like the fans to be able to go home with their teeth.

— New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina on a proposal for increased netting behind home plate to keep fans from being hit by shattered bats; June 13.

photo credits:

• FEMA trailer park in St. Bernard Parish, La.: Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
• Mary Church Terrell: Library of Congress
• John Hiatt: Mark Baumann, Rolling Stone
• Cindy McCain: Associated Press
• father Steve McAlpin reading pledge to daughter Courtney at Father-Daughter Purity Ball: Kevin Moloney, The New York Times

Quotabull is a weekly feature of Scholars & Rogues.

xpost: Scholars & Rogues


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 13, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Tasty.


    June 14, 2008 at 12:46 am

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