If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Category: General

National Geographic (Nov. 2017)

Their skulls, ornamented with crests and keels, and those great, gaping mouths achieved proportions Habib calls “ridiculous,” even “stupid.” … Pterosaurs, he told his questioner at that talk, “were giant flying murder heads.”

Richard Conniff, “Weirdest Wonders on Wings”


National Geographic (Oct. 2017)

“One cannot argue with the data,” he says. “There is no doubt that the climate is warming.” In summer, thawing permafrost undermines the stability of Gazprom structures. The company has had to install refrigeration units to keep the ground frozen around wellheads and pipelines.

“Life on the Edge”, by Gleb Raygorodetsky

National Geographic (Oct. 2017)

Before the summer is out, a boy and more than 2,300 reindeer will die from anthrax on southern Yamal, and dozens of people will get sick–a direct result of thawing permafrost, which allowed animal carcasses buried during an outbreak in the 1940s to reemerge, still bearing infectious microbes.

“Life on the Edge”, by Gleb Raygorodetsky

National Geographic (Oct. 2017)

The Rohingya are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. They are Muslims in a nation dominated by Buddhists. …

Five years ago … 120,000 Rohingya were forced into camps in Myanmar. This time the Burmese military unleashed a four-month campaign of terror that included executions, mass detentions, razing of villages, and systematic rape, according to the United Nations and human rights organizations.

“Without a Home, and Without Hope”, by Brook Larmer

National Geographic (Oct. 2017)

“There’s this glamorous young girl out in the jungle with potentially dangerous animals. People like romanticizing, and people were looking at me as though I was that myth that they had created in their mind. …

“There was nothing I could do about it because as far as they knew, it was me. And there was no way I could be portrayed differently. It wasn’t inaccurate. It’s just that people take the facts and weave stories around them.”

Jane Goodall, quoted in “Becoming Jane”

National Geographic (Oct. 2017)

The pressures to pose rankled Jane, but she handled it diplomatically. In a letter to Melvin Payne, whose National Geographic committee oversaw her funding, Jane wrote, “Certainly I understand that it is necessary to build up a story around ‘Jane Goodall’ and we have cooperated with Joanne as much as we possibly could.”

But when Hess came to Gombe to oversee some filming, Jane allowed herself a private act of rebellion. “We are already collecting large numbers of evil looking spiders and centipedes to lay around casually in her tent, in an endeavor to shorten her visit,” Jane wrote to her mother.

“Becoming Jane”, by Tony Gerber

National Geographic (Sep. 2017)

Functionally speaking, a border wall attempts to do two things. One is to stem migration–people coming into this country for greater opportunity. But only when we stop hiring will they stop coming.

The other is to keep out drugs–but Americans are the ones creating the demand. Until we address the problem successfully on our end, the cartels will find ways to get through. A wall doesn’t stop the reasons that this is happening.

“Bordlerlands”, by Richard Misrach

National Geographic (May 2017)

In every time and in every place, revolutions eat the young.

“Meet King Tut’s Father, Egypt’s First Revolutionary”
by Peter Hessler

National Geographic (Jan. 2017)

“It’s a false reality—even if you know it could be photoshopped, your brain forces you to believe it, because you’re seeing it,” she said. “It must be one of the worst jobs in the world to edit those pictures. You have to see the flaws in everything you look at.”

“A Challenge for Girls Today: Moving Beyond ‘How Do I Look?’”
by Tina Rosenberg

Kwame Anthony Appiah – The Honor Code (2010)

…Perhaps he didn’t say this. It is bad enough that it is so easy to believe that he did.