One of my great passions is reading whether communing with a Kindle Screen or the crumpled pages of the actual thing versus the electronic/virtual. I have always loved reading and in later years found it to be the only working antidote for my incessant propensity to obsess and worry – which I wish was not the case. Thankfully, I cannot read and worry at the same time. For me, it is impossible. No medication can achieve that result! Consequently, as I grasp the tiny screen or manuscript, the everyday twists and turns of the world simply float away. Nothing else does that for me.
Being almost 68 with the responsibilities of an almost 6-year-old has also facilitated my reading obsession. We put our daughter to bed around eight or so and I usually wake up at 1:30 or thereabouts. I quietly slip out of bed and enter my study which has an overstuffed chair and the portraits of my heroes on the walls, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, and – my mother Sandra Moster who passed almost twenty years ago. Mom was one of the first female producers at the dawn of television and eternal inspiration to me. She stressed through example and constant repetition the critical importance of being creative. Dad never achieved the academic heights of his wife but was the consummate entrepreneur, visionary, and debater. He loved to argue about everything which was a ritual at our dinner table while growing up. I straddled both personalities by taking a shot at being an NYC playwright and then going to law school. I am still engaged in both pursuits.
That said, one of my greatest passions is reading which I do in the wee hours of the night after sleeping a bit and trying hard not to awaken my wife and daughter with the click–click–click of the computer keys which I admittedly hit too hard.
This new section of the Moster Craft website is a repository for great quotes which I encounter in my literary journey. The genesis for this page was to create a proper and easily accessible repository for the insightful or brilliant observations I would typically manually circle in my book or attempt to electronically highlight. I also tried a journal which never works for me. Thus, I have christened this discourse simply – “Moster Quotables”.
Please feel free to submit your own “quotables” for inclusion by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If this gentleman and the marble Mercury in the garden of Versailles were in nomination for an embassy, I would not hesitate to give my vote for the statue, upon the principle that it would do no harm.”
Statement by John Adams regarding his opinion of Benjamin Franklin. Notably, John Adams displayed volatility and perceived occasional malice (bordering on insanity) of fellow revolutionary Benjamin Franklin. Although a brilliant statesman, Adams was adulterated by an uncompromising ego and hatred of many of our Founding Fathers including Franklin, Jefferson, and even George Washington who he perceived as intellectually inferior. Interestingly, Adams was able to formulate the principle of the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. Nonetheless, he authored the notorious Alien and Sedition Acts passed during his Presidency which jailed newspaper editors who criticized the U.S. government. Among the jailed was Benjamin Franklin Bache, the grandson of Franklin who published a newspaper that was critical of Adams – The Philadelphia Aurora.
“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly; you might have seen him perched on some dead tree, near the river were too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labors of the fishing-hawk… the turkey is in comparison, a much more respectable bird, and a true native of America… He is (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards.”
Benjamin Franklin on the deficiency of our American symbol.
Paul Dirac (1902 to 1984) was an English theoretical physicist who predicted the existence of antimatter and won the Nobel Prize. His views on the existence of God are fascinating as he started out as an atheist and towards the end of his life recognized that the likely improbability of the very emergence of life in the first instance could validate the existence of a supernatural first cause or originator. The below quotes set forth his view before and after.
Dirac in 1927:
“If we are honest, and scientists have to be, we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination… I can’t for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. What I do see is that the assumption leads to such unproductive questions as to why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich, and of the other horrors… Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people.”
Dirac in 1971:
“It could be that it is extremely difficult to start life. It might be that is so difficult to start life that it has happened only once among all of the planets… Let us consider, just a conjecture, that the chance of life starting when we have suitable physical conditions in 10 to the negative 100. … Under those conditions… it is almost certain that life would not have started. And I feel that under those conditions it would be necessary to assume the existence of a God to start off life.”
“A matter of a few minutes in time only, and there were hundreds of bodies floating in the water – dead – hundreds of souls carried through the air, alive; very much alive, some were. Many, realizing their death had come, were enraged at their own powerlessness to save their valuables. The fought to save what they had on earth prized so much. The scene on the boat at the time of the striking was not pleasant, but it was as nothing to the scene among the poor souls newly thrust out of their bodies, all unwillingly. It was both heartbreaking and repellant. And thus we waited – waited until all were collected, until all was ready, and then we moved our scene to a different land. It was a curious journey that. Far more strange than anything I had anticipated. We seemed to rise vertically into the air at terrific speed. As a whole we moved, as if we were on a huge platform, and this was hurled into the air with gigantic strength and speed, yet there was no feeling of insecurity… We were quite steady. I cannot tell how long our journey lasted, nor how far from earth we were when we arrived, but it was a gloriously beautiful arrival. It was like walking from your own English winter gloom into the radiance of an Indian sky.”
Words of English writer and spiritualist, William T. Stead as communicated in séance to his daughter Estelle Stead describing his death in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean during the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912.
“For centuries, the devastating scourge of lightning had generally been considered a supernatural phenomenon or expression of God’s will. At the approach of a storm, church bells were rung to ward off the bolts. ‘The tones of the consecrated metal repel the demon and avert storm and lightning,’ declared Thomas Aquinas. But even the most religiously faithful were likely to have noticed this was not very effective. During one 35-year period in Germany alone during the mid-1700s, 386 churches were struck and more than 100 bell ringers were killed. In Venice, some 3000 people were killed when tons of gunpowder stored in a church was hit. As Franklin later recalled to Harvard Professor John Winthrop, ‘The lightning seems to strike steeples of choice and at the very time the bells are ringing; yet still, they continue to bless the new bells and jangle the old ones whenever it thunders. One would think it is now time to try some other trick.”
Walter Isaacson – Benjamin Franklin – An American Life
“The emanations from our brains, like radio waves, must also keep going – where? Space is now described as an expanding bubble, but that architecture is still a theory. Along its great mysterious interstellar curvatures, perhaps it is not unreasonable to think that our thought waves might eventually find their way back here.
Or even, one day – long after we’re gone, unbearably lonely for the beautiful world from which we all so foolishly banished ourselves – we, or our memories, might surf home aboard a cosmic electromagnetic wave to haunt our beloved Earth.”
Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (2007)
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with different points of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
Benjamin Button, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“I’ve never forgotten for long at a time that living is a struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for — whether it’s a field, or a home, or a country.”
“People a thousand years from now – this is the way we were in the provinces north of New York at the beginning of the 20th century. This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our living and in our dying.”
Thornton Wilder – From “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1942)
“We are very much like physicians in that we dissect, cell by cell, the German cultural body. We report every individual characteristic…on a little card. These are not dead cards, quite the contrary, they prove later on that they come to life when the cards are sorted at the rate of 25,000 per hour according to certain characteristics and grouped like the organs of our cultural body, and they will be calculated and determined with the help of our tabulating machines…We are proud that we may assist in such a task, a task that provides our nation’s physician (Adolf Hitler) with the material he needs for his examinations. Our Physician can then determine whether the calculated values are in harmony with the health of our People. It also means if such is not the case, our Physician can take corrective procedures to correct the sick circumstances…Our characteristics are deeply rooted in our race. Therefore, we must cherish them like a holy shrine, which we will – and must – keep pure. We have the deepest trust in our Physician and will follow his instructions in blind faith because we know he will lead our people to a great future. Hail to our German people and der Fuhrer!”
W.D. Jones – Foreign IBM executive to IBM Founder Thomas Watson, January 10, 1934.
“When Germany wanted to identify the Jews by name, IBM showed them how. When Germany wanted to use that information to launch programs of social expulsion and expropriation, IBM provided the technology wherewithal. When the trains needed to run on time, from city to city, or between concentration camps, IBM offered that solution as well. Ultimately, there was no solution IBM would not devise for a Reich willing to pay for services rendered.”
Edwin Black – IBM and the Holocaust – The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation.
“Why would one of America’s leading businessmen and his premier corporation risk all by participating in a NAZI economy sworn to destroy Jewry, subjugate Europe, and dominate all enterprises within its midst? For one, IBM’s economic entanglements with Nazi Germany remained beneath public perception. Few understood the far-reaching ramifications of punch card technology and even fewer had a foreground understanding that the company Dehomag was in fact essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of International Business Machines.”
Edwin Black – IBM and the Holocaust – The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation.
Moster Note: IBM supplied the punch card technology to the Hitler regime to identify all Jewish people in Germany, Poland, and surrounding countries (including 30 residents in Poland with the last name “Moster” who perished during the Holocaust). Without the active participation of IBM and its founder – Thomas Watson – Hitler and the Nazis would have been unable to seize, deport, and murder over 6 million Jews. IBM did this strictly for profit through the activities of its subsidiary in Nazi Germany – Dehomag. Watson took pride in his relationship with the Nazis and Hitler.
“Life is made up of many comings and goings and for everything that we take with us, we must leave something behind.”
Herman Raucher – The Summer of ’42 – 1971
“And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers – shriveled now, and brown and flat and brittle – to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of men.”
H.G. Wells – The Time Machine – 1895
Nathan: “One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.”
Ex Machina – 2014
“Now I become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”
Robert Oppenheimer – July 16, 1945 – following world’s first detonation of atomic bomb at the Trinity test site
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
“A spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort.”
Albert Einstein – 1936