Great Throughts Treasury

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"How can you, without drying up, make things with the same pleasure, as a gift to others, for so long?" - Eva Zeisel

"The Chinese government keeps installing video cameras in its most troubling cities. Not only do such cameras remind passersby about the panopticon they inhabit, they also supply the secret police with useful clues[...]. Such revolution in video surveillance did not happen without some involvement from Western partners. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, funded in part by the Chinese government, have managed to build surveillance software that can automatically annotate and comment on what it sees, generating text files that can later be searched by humans, obviating the need to watch hours of video footage in search of one particular frame. (To make that possible, the researchers had to recruit twenty graduates of local art colleges in China to annotate and classify a library of more than two million images.) Such automation systems help surveillance to achieve the much needed scale, for as long as the content produced by surveillance cameras can be indexed and searched, one can continue installing new surveillance cameras. [...] The face-recognition industry is so lucrative that even giants like Google can’t resist getting into the game, feeling the growing pressure from saller players like Face.com, a popular tool that allows users to find and automatically annotate unique faces that apepar throughout their photo collections. In 2009 Face.com launched a Facebook application that first asks users to identify a Facebook friend of theirs ina photo and then proceeds to search the social networking site for other pictures in which that friend appears. By early 2010, the company boasted of scanning 9 billion pictures and identifying 52 million individuals. This is the kind of productivity that would make the KGB envious." - Evgeny Morozov

"One gloomy day in 2009, the young Belarusian activist Pavel Lyashkovich learned the dangers of excessive social networking the hard way. A freshman at a public university in Minsk, he was unexpectedly called to the dean’s office, where he was met by two suspicious-looking men who told him they worked for the KGB, one public organization that the Belarusian authorities decided not to rename even after the fall of communism (they’re a brand-conscious bunch). The KGB officers asked Pavel all sorts of detailed questions about his trips to Poland and Ukraine as well as his membership in various antigovernment movements. Their extensive knowledge of the internal affairs of the Belarusian opposition – and particularly of Pavel’s own involvement in them, something he didn’t believe to be common knowledge – greatly surprised him. But then it all became clear, when the KGB duo loaded his page on vkontakte.ru, a popular Russian social networking site, pointing out that he was listed as a “friend” by a number of well-known oppositional activists. Shortly thereafter, the visitors offered Lyashkovich to sign an informal “cooperation agreement” with their organization. He declined – which may eventually cost him dearly, as many students sympathetic to the opposition and unwilling to cooperate with authorities have been expelled from universities in the past. We will never know how many other new suspects the KGB added to its list by browsing Lyashkovich’s profile." - Evgeny Morozov

"We do not know the purpose of one moment of life." - Ezriel Tauber

"Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty?" -

"Beware of luxury! Beware of acquiring the taste and need for it, under the pretext of providing for the morrow." -

"Do you know what will soon be the ultimate in truth? Photography, once it begins to reproduce colors, and that won't be long in coming. And yet you want an intelligent man to sweat for months so as to give the illusion he can do something as well as an ingenious little machine can!" -

"In the art of literature there are two contending parties. Those who aim to tell stories that are more or less well thought out, and those who aim at beautiful language, beauty of form. This contest may last a very long time; each side has a fifty-fifty chance. Only the poet can rightfully demand that verse be beautiful and nothing but." -

"I do not know how exhausted you resist | in this lake indifference LORD thy heart; maybe you save an amulet that you keep close your lipstick, to down, to file: a white rat,d 'ivory, and so exist!" - Eugenio Montale

"Love and esteem are the first principles of friendship, which always is imperfect where either of these two is wanting." - Eustace Budgell

"But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into the depths of confusion you didn't know existed." - Evelyn Waugh, fully Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh

"There is a city to be built, the plan of which we carry in our heads, in our hearts. Countless generations have already toiled at the building of it. The effort to aid in completing it, with us, takes the place of prayer. In this sense we say, "Laborare est orare."" - Felix Adler

"He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can." - J. R. R. Tolkien, fully John Ronald Reuel Tolkien