Writing Inspiration | 7 | Feb 11 — Feb 17

Redwood National Forest, © Minna Wang

Words

  • quixotic: exceedingly idealistic, unrealistic; from Don Quixote
  • inchoate: rudimentary, just begun and not fully formed; commonly misconstrued to mean “chaotic,” which is incorrect
  • emolument: salary from employment or office; Latin ‘emolumentum’ originally probably ‘payment to a miller for grinding grain’
  • piquant: having a pleasant sharp taste, pleasantly stimulating to the mind; literally ‘stinging, pricking’ in French
  • hamartia: a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine

Excerpts

Scientists, for all their creativity, will never discover a method for making people deader than dead. So if some of you are worried about being hydrogen-bombed, you are merely fearing death. There is nothing new in that. If there weren’t any hydrogen bombs, death would still be after you.

from Fates Worse Than Death by Kurt Vonnegut

Everywhere one turned, one found idiocies that were commonly accepted as truths only because they were embedded in a theory to which the scientists had yoked their careers.

from The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis

A would-be kleptocrat is actually better served by spreading cynicism than by deceiving followers with false beliefs: Believers can be disillusioned; people who expect to hear only lies can hardly complain when a lie is exposed. The inculcation of cynicism breaks down the distinction between those forms of media that try their imperfect best to report the truth, and those that purvey falsehoods for reasons of profit or ideology. The New York Times becomes the equivalent of Russia’s RT; The Washington Post of Breitbart; NPR of Infowars.

from How to Build an Autocracy by David Frum, The Atlantic