August 15, 2006

set me down on a television floor,
I'll flip the channel to number four

dylan watching television, unknown

* From a 1970 interview of Kurt Vonnegut, by Frank McLaughlin(not online):

McLaughlin: I was wondering if you were bughouse about your Constitution or Richard Nixon's? these are different Constitutions.

Vonnegut: Well yes, I am heartbroken and confused at this point. I suppose I'm really at childhood's end. I finally understand that I am not protected by the U.S. Constitution. I have never been protected by it, and it is only a piece of paper that we in America have always been dependent upon. The good will of those who govern us -- and that's it -- that's all that ever protected us. We have entered a period now when our government doesn't seem to like us much. I find this oppressive, and realize that the Constitution can't help much, can't help at all really, if our leaders come to dislike -- which they apparently do.

-- From a 1973 Playboy interview of Kurt Vonnegut, by David Standish (also, not online):

Standish: What's your opinion of Nixon?

Vonnegut: Well, I don't think he's evil. But I think he dislikes the American people, and this depresses us. The President, particularly, because of television, is in the position to be an extraordinarily effective teacher. I don't know exactly how much executive responsibility a President has, or how much the Government runs itself, but I do know that he can influence our behavior for good and ill. If he teaches us something tonight, we will behave according to that tomorrow. All he has to do is say it on television. If he tells us about our neighbors in trouble, if he tells us to treat them better tomorrow, why, we'll all try. But the lessons Nixon has taught us have been so mean. He's taught us to resent the poor for not solving their own problems. He's taught us to like prosperous people better than unprosperous people. He could make us so humane and optimistic with a single television appearance.

* From Harper's Magazine, September 2006

-- Percentage of U.S. income in 1983, and today, respectively, that went to the top 1 percent of earners: 9,16

-- Rank of AIDS and pregnancy, respectively, among the top causes of death worldwide from girls aged 10 to 19: 1,2

-- Estimated number of Americans who get degrees each year from nonaccredited "diploma mills"" 100,000

-- Number of Pentagon employees who had such degrees on their resumes, in a recent congressional study: 257

-- Percentage of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, in October 1994 who said they were excited to vote that year: 45,30

-- Percentage who said this in June about the 2006 midterm election: 30,46

* Understanding chess expertise.

* Why is George Bush reading Camus?


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