Did you know that being married is like being nibbled to death by a duck?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wise Words

When you don't have anything interesting to say, point out those who do.

Peggy Noonan has a must read piece about patriotism, immigration, and why this is a great country that proves once again how far I have to go with my writing ability. Read it all.


Kell said...


~E said...

Awesome! In the Eddie Izzard kind of way.

Relatedly: One of my classmates has this quote printed on her folder for our class:

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from great courage to Liberty;
from Liberty to abundance;
from abundance to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependence back into bondage."

Do you think The Grand Experiment will fail or succeed?

Kell said...

That is kinda funny. That quote has received so much play and it came out as a email chain letter. Where does your classmate think it came from? Just curious.

I think I remember that it was incorrectly attributed to Lord Woodhouselee, when the chain mail was flying around after the 2000 election.

~E said...

The U.S. Freedom Fighter Handbook


I googled some of the phrases and found it in toto on this site.. it's about half way down the front page.

Lots of great quotes on there.

Kell said...

That is my point... there is no such thing as the: "The Fall of the Athenian Republic" He NEVER wrote that. His name isn't even spelled correctly. His name is Lord Woodhouselee, Alexander Fraser Tytler.. not Alexander Tyler as in the chain mail and on the website you attached.

Good message, just one that you don't want to bet the farm on. For all we know some Harvard student smoking weed was trying to impress a girl with deep thoughts.... and some other guy sent out his very first spam mail using it....

Mr. Twisted said...

~e - Go here if you don't believe Kell: http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/tyler.asp

~E said...

I found the snopes.com article. They're not saying Tytler didn't write it, just that the quote wasn't found in the work it has been attributed to, they're not sure that he didn't write it.

Frankly, doesn't matter who wrote it, there's still truth to the words.

Peggy Noonan's piece spoke to the fact that immigrants today are not being instilled with a sense of our national character, the history and values of what make this nation great. They're assimilating into society via popular culture without any sense or context of the true soul of America.

Her article reminded me of this quote... America is in the complacency to apathy phase and is deteriorating to the dependency phase... this can be seen.. and that's the reason immigrants aren't being instilled w/the American 'myth'.. b/c Americans themselves are complacent and apathetic.

Human beings are very egocentric, we come into the world, find it as it is, and assume that it has always been this way and always will be. For the most part, not many individuals really contemplate what's gone before and what may come after.

The Founding Fathers had a great understanding of what had gone before... they wrote the greatest declaration of Human Freedom in history... and they worked very hard to create a nation where Humanity can be free... but they were cognizant of the frailties of human nature and warned about the potential pitfalls of abuse... these things are not taught in public schools today and it's doubtful that today's immigrants ever learn of them.

What's the saying, the man who never learns from history is destined to repeat it?

Mrs. WakeandaHalf said...

Mr. T, don't feel too bad... Peggy Noonan's byline should include the words "Must Read".

Ah, the old 200 year decline urban legend. I first recall hearing that in college, which predates the internet by enough years that it stuns me. I doubt it was new then. I recall a history professor snorting derisively when one of us budding geniuses brought it up.

You kids and your Google. Back in my day, we had to physically visit a large building with books, called a "library", to look this stuff up. Sometimes parking was scarce, and we had to walk as much as 200 yards to get to the library. Sometimes the A/C was on the fritz and it was kind of warm in the library. Did we complain? No we did not, we were getting our learn on.

~E said...

Mrs. W:

"getting our learn on" Love that phrase... think I'm going to borrow it. =)

Mr. Twisted said...

They're not saying Tytler didn't write it, just that the quote wasn't found in the work it has been attributed to, they're not sure that he didn't write it.

Actually, much worse; they're saying the book it is attributed to most likely doesn't even exist, and never did. And the books that do, do not contain anything similar to that quote.

Frankly, doesn't matter who wrote it, there's still truth to the words.

Historically speaking, not really. It only applies if you pick and choose which "civilizations" to refer to, and by using a very loose definition of the terminology. The quote is flawed in and of itself when it uses "civilizations" and "nations" in the same context, intending to be the same thing. They are most certainly not, yet either one by itself proves the "200 years" part of the quote wrong.

One cannot take an average of something that cannot even be defined. And one cannot define something it cannot be agreed upon what that is; e.g. "greatest civilizations" is a very subjective term, and as such, incredibly difficult to define in any real concrete sense. It could be defined in terms of culture (another subjective), land conquered (Roman Empire), longevity (much of China has remained the same for thousands of years, as have many parts of the Middle East, and Africa), or system of government. Any of which renders numerous examples that lasted much, much longer than two hundred years.

The point being, just because something sounds poetic, doesn't make it true.

Always off-center;
Mr. Twisted

Kell said...

holy shit. look at the brain on Greg. Where did that come from??

Love ya.

Jonathan Scott said...

WWARD (stands for What Would Ann Rand Do?)

Just playin', e.

- The point being, just because something sounds poetic, doesn't make it true- Good stuff Mr.T!

Wish I could add something here, but I think you guys pretty much wrapped it up.

Oh yeah- Kell, Mr. T is actually a pretty smart dude. You'd never know it after the fourth Corona, though.

~E said...


Just found your comment. 'WWARD?'.. funny... she'd tell me to think for myself. ;-)

I still stand by what I said... how Noonan's piece reminded me of that quote and the 'state of the world' today. That's all that I was getting at. Instead of commenting on that train of thought, seems to have turned into 'debunk the quote myth', a somewhat enlightening thread of conversation, even caused me to poke a little more and read up on it on Wikipedia.

However, it doesn't address the heart of Noonan's article... the problem with assimilation of immigrants via popular culture without the context of the history of what makes this country/nation great.


P.S. It's 'Ayn" Rand.. rhymes with 'mine'. =)

Mr. Twisted said...

~e "Instead of commenting on that train of thought, seems to have turned into 'debunk the quote myth'... However, it doesn't address the heart of Noonan's article..."

Hate to break this to you, ~e, but the whole reason this comment thread took a turn away from the original article is because you quoted a piece that was not only historically false, but didn't apply to the article that was the subject of this post.

I don't mean this to be offensive in the least (so I hope you don't take it that way), but the comments veered away from the original Noonan piece based on what you said in your first comment.

Having said that, the Noonan piece itself is not really something I see as "debatable." It's main intent was to say that there are a good number or people (immigrants especially), who have a complete lack of understanding as to what makes this country so great. This does not mean that we are headed down the toilet bowl as nation. I think it is essentially human nature to take for granted the good things in life, and I seriously doubt too many people would disagree with that.

As to your earlier comment "America is in the complacency to apathy phase and is deteriorating to the dependency phase," I have a hard time with statements like these, simply because they tend to view history with this magical power known as "hindsight." Everyone wants to believe that things *used to be* so great, because they view it historically. The current political climate is a perfect example. The same people who are quick to criticize President Bush for his policy will turn around and say how great someone like Abraham Lincoln was. The fact is, Lincoln was viewed in his time much the same way that George W. Bush is now. Over half the country hated him by the end of the Civil War, and the nation was very close to being completely ripped apart forever. Yet, in light of history, his actions were the right thing to do at the time. The same can be said for other administrations. The point is not "Bush is as great as Lincoln," or "Bush is right because Lincoln was." The point is, it's easy to say things were better than they are now, but it doesn't make it true. We currently have more freedom and a higher standard of living than anyone in the history of our country, and arguably the world.

I see a growing trend of people who want to point out that the country is "going to hell" and that we have lost our way. I just don't see that as being supported with any type of real evidence. Inevitably, when this subject is brought up in discussion, the only evidence anyone can refer to is completely anecdotal in nature (e.g. "back when I was a kid, blaa blaa blaa"). The real facts, however, say otherwise.

I'm not saying this is your point of view, necessarily. I'm simply offering up my thoughts on what you wrote.

Kell said...

I can't believe you slammed me for our offline conversation about Lincoln.

Mr. Twisted said...

If you would renounce your allegiance to the communist party, I probably wouldn't slam you so much.


Kell said...

I am not a communist. I think every American has the right to eat cottage cheese and even squish it through their teeth if they so desire.

Mr. Twisted said...

This comment section is now closed,as I will be spending the rest of the week throwing up after that. Blech.

Kell said...


Mr. Twisted said...

No, it is obvious to anyone with even a bachelor's degree in wisdomology that you can't "win" on an odd numbered comment. Ergo, as I am the 20th comment, my statement is automatically more credible.

Kell said...

you are crazy

Kell said...

I win...

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