Quotations

    How Long Are Cars Designed to Last?

    Philip Greenspun:

    I was chatting with a senior engineer at a Detroit automaker. “We design the car to last 10 years or 150,000 miles,” he said. He explained that component manufacturers try to torture-test the components so as to meet the same standard and then the entire car is given an accelerated aging beating on a test track, e.g., with a road so bumpy that the car needs to be driven by a robot to avoid employees developing back problems. What about other car companies? “As far as I know, all of us use the same standard.”

    Candid Photography

    The great majority of my works are candid, meaning I don’t ask people for the photo nor do I tell them that I took their photo. I do this because I want to keep the moment pure as I saw it. The moment a person knows they are being photographed, they either get self-conscious or their behavior becomes more exaggerated than normal human behavior allows. It’s all about capturing that ‘unguarded moment’ and trying to make the people in the photos look as true to that moment as possible.

    thegirlwholeftthefridgeopen

    Also on Flickr

    If I knew what the photograph was going to look like, I wouldn’t bother taking it. It’s the voyage of discovery that fascinates me.

    – Lois Greenfield

    On Intimacy

    Manuel Moreal:

    Maybe it’s just me but the more time I spend online the more I enjoy consuming content from people who are not afraid to share content in a very honest and sometimes vulnerable way. People who share without an agenda, people who share because they think it’s important to communicate both the ups and the downs of this shared experience we’re all going through called life.

    Why Photograph?

    Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.

    — Anonymous

    Source: Sam Benari, who I just added to my list of interesting street photographers.

    What Makes Paris Special

    There are few things more beautiful in life than sensuality, with the word being used in its’ most elegant sense-and of all of the cities in the world, few offer such splendor more than the omnipresent scenes of daily life in Paris.

    Peter Turnley

    Being a Friend Means Being Truthful

    You can’t be a friend if you are not willing to tell the truth. This doesn’t mean that you are right. Being right and being honest are not necessarily the same thing.

    Paul Ferrini

    Source: Annie Mueller

    Why Antisemitism Persists - A Jewish Perspective

    Boaz Munro1 writing in Tablet:

    Why don’t we see more efforts to dismantle antisemitism? Well, for one thing, Jews make up only 0.2% of the global population. We’re outnumbered more than 110:1 by Muslims and Christians—each. So if the onus is on Jews to start the conversation—which it shouldn’t be—then we’re spread laughably thin.

    Non-Jews seem to have no interest in the subject; societies are loath to name the bigotries they’re founded on, much less challenge them. The American South was built on hideous racism, but do you think antebellum Southerners went around saying, “Hi there, fellow racist! Another wonderful day for racism”? Of course not.

    That society couldn’t begin to change on its own. It had to be confronted.

    After thousands of years of grinding persecution, culminating in the Holocaust, Zionism and Israel represent Jewish resistance—the stubborn assertion of our right to live and the legacy of those who refused to tiptoe, rationalize, or minimize any longer.


    1. Boaz Munro is a writer, web designer, and educator. He studied Hebrew, Arabic, and modern Middle East history at Brown University and The George Washington University. A grandson of Holocaust survivors from Poland with family in Israel, he’s originally from Pittsburgh. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife and daughter. ↩︎

    A First Person Account from Gaza

    Jehad Al-Saftawi1 wrote a moving piece entitled Hamas Built Tunnels Beneath My Family’s Home in Gaza. Now It Lies in Ruin:

    Since Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, the bustling and beautiful streets I knew have been dominated by terrorist chaos. Hamas is driven by an ideological stand originating in the concept of annihilating the state of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic Palestinian one. In striving to make this a reality, Hamas has continued to normalize violence and militarization in every aspect of public and private life in Gaza. They have in the process obliterated the chances of a successful Palestinian state alongside Israel, even if the prospect of one had increasingly looked dim amid successive Israeli governments that worked against that.

    […]

    [Hamas] began destroying my family home in 2013 when they built tunnels beneath it. They continued to threaten our safety for a decade—we always knew we might have to vacate at a moment’s notice. We always feared violence. Gazans deserve a true Palestinian government, which supports its citizens’ interests, not terrorists carrying out their own plans. Hamas is not fighting Israel. They’re destroying Gaza.

    The full piece in Time is worth reading.


    1. Jehad al-Saftawi is the author of My Gaza: A City in Photographs and is founder of Refuge Eye, a nonprofit organization which supports refugee journalists. ↩︎

    Audrey Hepburn's Poignant Reaction to Anne Frank's Diary

    Audrey Hepburn describing her reaction to reading the Anne Frank’s diary in 1946:

    I was exactly the same age as Anne Frank. We were both 10 when war broke out and 15 when the war finished. I was given the book in Dutch, in galley form, in 1946 by a friend. I read it—and it destroyed me. It does this to many people when they first read it. But I was not reading it as a book, as printed pages. This was my life. I didn’t know what I was going to read. I’ve never been the same again, it affected me so deeply. We saw reprisals. We saw young men put up against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it, and you could pass by again. If you read the diary, I’ve marked one place where she says, ‘Five hostages shot today.’ That was the day my uncle was shot. And in this child’s words I was reading about what was inside me and is still there. It was a catharsis for me. This child who was locked up in four walls had written a full report of everything I’d experienced and felt.

    ‘ What Makes You Come Alive’

    “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”

    — Harold Whitman

    swissmiss | Come Alive

    George Will: Holocaust Museum Showcases Lessons for Today

    George Will writing in The Washington Post on the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington:

    Nothing — nothing — is unthinkable, and political institutions by themselves provide no permanent safety from barbarism, which permanently lurks beneath civilization’s thin, brittle crust.

    This is why the Holocaust is the dark sun into which this democracy should peer.

    The Person Best Suited to Us

    Alain de Botton writing in The New York Times:

    The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

    Ian Kershaw: Hitler Biographer

    Sir Ian Kershaw is an English historian whose work has chiefly focused on the social history of 20th-century Germany. He is regarded by many as one of the world’s leading experts on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, and is particularly noted for his biographies of Hitler.

    I am sharing here two quotations from one of Kershaw’s books about Hitler:

    The first argues that Hitler’s rise to dictatorship might not have happened. This shows the importance of constant vigilance.

    There was no inevitability about Hitler’s accession to power. Had Hindenburg been prepared to grant to Schleicher1 the dissolution that he had so readily allowed Papen2, and to prorogue the Reichstag for a period beyond the constitutional sixty days, a Hitler Chancellorship might have been avoided. With the corner turning of the economic Depression, and with the Nazi Movement facing potential break-up if power were not soon attained, the future – even if under an authoritarian government – would have been very different. Even as the cabinet argued outside Hindenburg’s door at eleven o’clock on 30 January, keeping the President waiting, there was a possibility that a Hitler Chancellorship might not materialize. Hitler’s rise from humble beginnings to ‘seize’ power by ‘triumph of the will’ was the stuff of Nazi legend. In fact, political miscalculation by those with regular access to the corridors of power rather than any actions on the part of the Nazi leader played a larger role in placing him in the Chancellor’s seat.

    Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris (p. 424). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

    The second quotation is about the opening of the Dachau Concentration Camp. Dachau is a small town just outside Munich. Kershaw explains that ordinary Germans knew of the camp’s existence. There was even a press conference about the camp’s opening and people feared being sent there. In other words, ordinary Germans knew no matter what some said after the war. Dachau is small. It is impossible to believe that town folk did not know what the camp was about.

    Just outside the town of Dachau, about twelve miles from Munich, the first concentration camp was set up in a former powder-mill on 22 March3 . There was no secret about the camp’s existence. Himmler had even held a press conference two days earlier to announce it. It began with 200 prisoners. Its capacity was given as 5,000. It was intended, stated Himmler, to hold the Communist and, if necessary, Reichsbanner and Marxist (i.e. Social Democrat) functionaries. Its establishment was announced in the newspapers. It was meant to serve as a deterrent, and did so. Its dreaded name soon became a byword for the largely unspoken horrifying events known or presumed to take place within its walls. ‘Keep quiet or you’ll end up in Dachau’ was soon to join common parlance. But apart from the political enemies and racial targets of the Nazis, few were disconcerted at the foundation of the camp, and others like it. The middle-class townsfolk of Dachau, watching the column of their Communist fellow-citizens from the town being marched to the nearby camp as political prisoners, thought them troublemakers, revolutionaries, ‘a class apart’, simply not part of their world.

    Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris (p. 464). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).


    Kershaw’s two-volume biography of Hitler is superb:

    Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris: 1889-1936: Hubris

    Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis


    1. Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last chancellor of Germany (before Adolf Hitler) during the Weimar Republic. A rival for power with Hitler, Schleicher was murdered by Hitler’s SS during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. ↩︎

    2. Franz von Papen was a German conservative politician, diplomat, Prussian nobleman and General Staff officer. He served as the chancellor of Germany in 1932, and then as the vice-chancellor under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1934. ↩︎

    3. Dachau opened on March 22, 1933. ↩︎

    Books: Volker Ullrich’s Two-Volume Biography of Hitler

    Volker Ullrich, a German historian, is the author an excellent two-volume biography of Hitler in German. Jefferson Chase translated both volumes into English.

    The first volume Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 (German: Adolf Hitler: Die Jahre des Aufstiegs 1889-1939), published in German in 2013, was published in English in 2016 and covers up to 1939.

    The second volume Hitler Vol II: Downfall 1939-45 (German: Adolf Hitler: Die Jahre des Untergangs 1939-1945) was published in English in 2020 and covers the remainder of his biography.

    The book became a bestseller in Germany upon its publication.

    I am sharing here three quotations showing:

    • The establishment of the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich was well-known as was its sinister purpose;
    • Hitler had broad support in German society at the time in support of his aims; and
    • Without Hitler, there would have been no Holocaust.

    In other words, one person can make a big difference, in this case to the world’s detriment.

    Reviewing the second volume of Ullrich’s biography of Hitler, Jennifer Szalai, a New York Times book critic said that “the narrative moves swiftly, and it will absorb even those who are familiar with the vast library of Hitler books.” I agree.


    At a press conference in Munich on 20 March [1933], Heinrich Himmler announced the establishment of a concentration camp in a former munitions factory near the small city of Dachau. Initially, as a state facility, Dachau was guarded by Bavarian police, but on 11 April the SS assumed command. The Dachau camp became the first cell from which a national system of terror germinated. It was a kind of laboratory, under the direction of the SS, where experiments could be carried out with the forms of violence that would soon be used in the other concentration camps within the Reich. The German media reported extensively about Dachau, and the stories that were told about what went on there acted as a powerful deterrent to opposition to the Nazis. “Dear God, strike me numb / Lest to Dachau I do come” was an oft-repeated saying in the Third Reich.

    Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939, Location 9939. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


    The second volume of this biography covers Hitler’s “years of downfall.” It encompasses the relatively brief period from his unleashing of the Second World War in the summer of 1939 to his suicide in the air-raid bunker of the Reich Chancellery in the spring of 1945. It has been said, correctly, that Hitler and National Socialism “found themselves” in the war. As a magnifying glass does with sunlight, armed conflict focused the criminal dynamics of the Nazi regime and the man at its head. War gave Hitler the opportunity to act on his ideological obsessions and realise his homicidal aims: the conquering of “living space in the east” as a basis for German domination of first Europe, then the world; and the removal of Jews from Germany and, if possible, the whole European continent. On the other hand, as we will see, Hitler would never have been able to realise these goals as much as he did without willing helpers in almost all the institutions of the Nazi state and broad parts of German society.

    Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 1). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition (footnote omitted).


    Without Hitler, this much is certain, there would have been no Holocaust. His fanatical anti-Semitism was the engine driving genocide. While it may have been difficult to tell sometimes when Hitler was play-acting, the Führer was always deadly serious when he vented his maniacal hatred of Jews.

    Ullrich, Volker. Hitler: Downfall (p. 611). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

    ’Core Reason for Photography’

    The core reason for photography: what can’t be explained in words can sometimes be expressed as imagery.

    On the Power of Propaganda

    Erna Paris (1938 - 2022) writing in The Globe and Mail:

    The core learning future generations must acquire, in addition to the facts of Holocaust history, will be to recognize the impulse to genocide, how and why it starts, the propaganda tools it employs to persuade, and the known consequences of silence and indifference. I think this learning must also include the somewhat rueful acknowledgement that most humans are susceptible to propaganda in various degrees, which is why early-stage vigilance is so crucial.

    Erna Paris was born in Toronto, Canada. She was the author of seven works of literary non-fiction and the winner of twelve national and international writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her book Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History was chosen as one of “The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada” by the Literary Review of Canada.

    Photography is About Sharing

    [T] he core of the photographic act is the verb “to share“ and that photography is all about sharing a moment I frame and want to hold on to for now, and for all time, and to be shared with myself and others. he core of the photographic act is the verb “to share“ and that photography is all about sharing a moment I frame and want to hold on to for now, and for all time, and to be shared with myself and others.

    Peter Turnley

    ‘Let’s bring back the blog.’

    Alan Jacobs writing on his blog entitled The Homebound Symphony:

    [W]hile many of the old-school blogs are dead and gone, a surprising number of them remain active, and still have a multitude of commenters. In turns out that social media did not kill blogs, but just co-opted the discourse about blogs. Once journalists got addicted to Twitter, they stopped paying attention to what was happening elsewhere — but that didn’t stop it from happening._

    […]

    I don’t want to bring back the blogosphere, I definitely want to bring back the blog._

    […]

    [T]his is the time for people to rediscover the pleasures of blogging – of writing at whatever length you want, and posting photos, and embedding videos, and linking to music playlists, all on your little corner of the internet._

    Let’s bring back the blog. And leave all the bad things spawned by the blogosphere to social media, where they belong. 

    Have Your Own Space on the Internet

    Om on big publishing platforms:

    No matter how often this happens, we don’t learn our lessons — we continue to till other people’s proverbial land and keep using their social spaces. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Medium, we get trapped in the big platforms because they dangle the one big carrot in front of our eyes: the reach, the audience, and the influence._

    And we keep doing their bidding — they use our social networks, our work, and our attention — and, in the process, help make their networks gigantic and indispensable. We become pawns in their end game. And then they change the rules of the game — after all, if you own the league, you make the rules._

    I have known the truth about social platforms. I quit Facebook and Instagram years ago, and candidly I am better for it. I don’t need 5000 friends — 15 good ones will do. And as far as sharing photos — I am happy that I have about a thousand people interested in my photographic work instead of 100,000 followers on Instagram.

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