“Cleaning toilets does not disgust me. I find it a thing of beauty. I get right into that toilet with my little scrubber and I scrub it. I never wear gloves.” Moby


Not worthy of time and talents

“The tasks of housekeeping and child rearing [are] not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings.” Linda Hirshman, self-described feminist philosopher

Aggressiveness, sociopathic tendencies, and dishonesty

“Apparently one of the Enron CEOs was a big fan of Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene. He took Dawkins’ (in my opinion) overly reductionistic view of evolution and proceeded to even further reduce it in his own mind to social Darwinism… Basically, they would evaluate the traders and most other employees based on performance metrics and then fire the lowest 10-15% of the company population… So Enron was applying selection at the individual level according to metrics like individual trading performance to a group system whose performance was, like the henhouses, an emergent property of group dynamics as well as a result of individual fitness. The result was more or less the same. Instead of increasing overall productivity, they got mean chickens and actual productivity declined. They were selecting for traits like aggressiveness, sociopathic tendencies, and dishonesty.” Adam Ierymenko, on eugenics


“The Nobel laureate, Francis Crick, is well known for his discoveries about the double helix of our genes, but he later worked in the field of neuroscience. He and his colleagues postulated that humans needed to develop what he termed ‘zombie thinking’ in order to deal efficiently with the massive sensory input we continuously receive about the external world. This mode of thinking is thus necessary to allow us to react rapidly to external events, so that these cognitive illusions are ‘built in’ to us, almost certainly for evolutionary reasons. None of us is immune to them, not even those trained as scientists or judges. Our capacity for rational thinking is limited. Propagandists and advertisers are all too well aware of this.” Neurologist Simon Gandevia

Game theory in Business

“Undaunted, we assembled a panel of 30 respected game theorists around the world, and we sent them a survey asking, ‘Can you think of any examples of real, live companies that have consciously applied game-theoretical concepts to a real business problem?’ The response was … a deafening chorus of head scratching.” Martin Kihn, Fast Company

In space, no one can hear you scream

“For the first time we got the idea that, in the far-flung future, people who live and work in space might be a bunch of Average Joe slobs sitting around with leftover pizza, smoking and playing cards to pass the time. It captures much of what long duration space flight is about now: dirty, sweaty and claustrophobic with long periods of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror.” UCL space physiologist Kevin Fong, on Ridley Scott’s Alien

What happens next?

“What kind of society are you building if you have the right to offend and to hate? What kind of society do you want to build just to prove you have the right to offend someone and then knowingly do so. What kind of democracy is that? How do you hold on to things like respect for others, dignity, and pluralism? And, what happens next? If you’re going to push this, and religion is not going to go away, then what?” Anthropologist Munir Jiwa, on the secular tolerance of blasphemy

The rebel sell

“What we see in films like American Beauty and Fight Club is not actually a critique of consumerism; it’s merely a restatement of the ‘critique of mass society’ that has been around since the 1950s. The two are not the same. In fact, the critique of mass society has been one of the most powerful forces driving consumerism for more than 40 years. That last sentence is worth reading again. The idea is so foreign, so completely the opposite of what we are used to being told, that many people simply can’t get their head around it… simply put: books like No Logo, magazines like Adbusters, and movies like American Beauty do not undermine consumerism; they reinforce it.” This Magazine: The Rebel Sell

Filipino table etiquette punished at local school

“The case of 7-year-old Luc Cagadoc has become front-page news in his parents’ native Philippines and a Quebec-based rights group says it will haul a suburban Montreal school before the provincial human rights commission after it repeatedly disciplined the slight, bespectacled boy because he allegedly ‘eats like a pig.’ The Philippines’ ambassador to Canada issued a statement of support for Cagadoc’s family and Montreal’s Filipino community, which he said was rightly offended by the school’s reaction to the way the boy eats… the traditional Filipino method of using a fork to mush food into a spoon before swallowing the contents.” Toronto Star, A1

Last ninja

“Always be able to kill your students.” Grand Master Masaaki Hatsumi, the 76-year-old man who bills himself as the world’s last ninja