First and Last Lines

A very old definition of economics says that it is about the provisioning of goods and services to meet our material needs.

Our bodies and souls depend on it.

Julie Nelson, Economics for Humans

“A lot of people have built their dreams and their houses and their families around working for that company.”

Although the moment has passed for Bloomington’s RCA workers, it may be on just such tiny transnational acts of faith (however sexist or illegal) that the future of any sort of global working-class politics may depend.

Jefferson Cowie, Capital Moves

In late 2008, with the world engulfed in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown each called for a fundamental rethinking of the world financial system.

Even more daunting are the requirements for building an enduring system; monetary nationalism was the downfall of the last great effort in 1944.

Benn Steil, The Battle of Bretton Woods

In the end, it was Win Stracke who made the arrangements.

But fifty years after his funeral, billions of people around the globe were hearing the rhythmic cadences and well-crafted insights with which Bill had captivated music fans, first in the United States, and then far beyond its borders.

Bob Riesman, I Feel So Good

Why have we handed over the running of the world to economists?

I end on the same note.

Steve Keen, Debunking Economics

The documents of your childhood, your letters, correspondencies, notes, books, &c., &c., all gone!

As a consequence, it may be concluded, he never saw what was on the other side.

Hannah Spahn, Thomas Jefferson, Time and History

We have all heard, far too many times, about the depth, breadth, and profound importance of the computer revolution.

The humility required to embrace such anonymity as a goal is the single most important aspect of the designer’s art.

Nathaniel Borenstein, Programming as if People Mattered

The Central Pacific Railroad holds a distinction unique in the annals of American business: It riveted the attention of two great writers at the peak of their artistry.

For an inveterate cynic like him, irony was all in a day’s work.

Dennis Drabelle, The Great American Railroad War

Imagine that the natural sciences were to suffer the effects of a catastrophe.

We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another — doubtless very different — St Benedict.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue

How does one become a mathematician?

Our journey continues.

Edward Frenkel, Love and Math

The problem of human understanding is a twofold one.

As those ‘rational transactions’ to which we have committed ourselves continue to work themselves out in the course of subsequent history, the same verdict of historical experience which earlier thinkers called the Cunning of Reason (or Nature, or Providence, or Necessity) will, in the long run, penalize all those who—whether knowingly, or through negligence—continue playing according to out-dated strategies.

Stephen Toulmin, Human Understanding

My subject is the challenges that the federal courts face today, with particular emphasis on rising complexity.

The path forward is the path of realism.

Richard Posner, Reflections on Judging

Unpaved, uneven trails pretended to be roads; they tied the nation’s coasts together like laces holding a boot, binding it with crossed strings and crossed fingers.

Hale Quarter jabbed a pen against his tongue to moisten it, and he began to write.

Cherie Priest, Boneshaker

In August of 2000, a Japanese scientist named Toshiyuki Nakagaki announced that he had trained an amoebalike organism called slime mold to find the shortest route through a maze.

On the hundred-year scale, or the scale of millennia, there may be no question more interesting, and no question harder to answer.

Steven Johnson, Emergence

Heading into the fall of 2004, ABC was dead last among broadcast television networks.


Frans Johansson, The Click Moment

Once, in those dear dead days, almost, but not quite beyond recall, there was a view of science that commanded widespread popular and academic assent.

The point, however, is to change it.

Philip Kitcher, The Advancement of Science

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This page last modified on 2014 April 18.