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If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.U.S. Supreme Court in re “Stanley vs. Georgia”
The progress of science in furnishing the government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wire tapping. Ways may some day be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home.Louis D. Brandeis, in re “Olmstead vs. United States” (1928)
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tattered weed, of small worth held.
Then being asked where all thy beauty lies—
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days—
To say within thine own deep-sunken eyes
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use
If thou couldst answer “This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse”,
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on—on—and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
We soon forget the crowd of victims who have fallen in the course of innumerable battles, not only because this is a destiny inevitable in war, but because those who thus fell might also have given death to their enemies, and did not lose their lives without defending themselves. Where the danger and the advantage are equal, our wonder ceases, and even pity itself is in some measure lessened; but where the father of an innocent family is delivered up to the hands of error, passion, or fanaticism; where the accused person has no other defense but his virtue; where the arbiters of his destiny have nothing to risk in putting him to death but their having been mistaken, and where they may murder with impunity by decree, then every one is ready to cry out, every one fears for himself, and sees that no person’s life is secure in a court erected to watch over the lives of citizens, and every voice unites in demanding vengeance.Voltaire, Treatise on Toleration
People in the Kamchatka area of Siberia knew that land wasn’t very far over the horizon from the many reports of driftwood washed up on Karginsk island, where the wood came from a species of fir that didn’t grow in Kamchatka.Peter Watson, Ideas a History
1634, Jean Nicolet, a French adventurer, was sent west to investigate rumours of a great inland sea, which led to Asia. When he reached lake Michigan and saw ahead of him the cliffs of Green bay he thought he had reached China and put on a robe of Chinese silk in their honour.Peter Watson, Ideas a History
The first great traveller we know about was Pytheas, who lived at Massalia (the modern Marseilles). The inhabitants of Massalia knew from boatmen who had sailed up the Rhône and met other travellers that there was a great northern sea big enough to contain islands, which produced precious metals and a beautiful, brown, resinous substance, much prized and called amber. But the Rhône itself did not go as far as this north sea and no one really knew how far away it was. Then, about 330 BC, sailors returning to harbour from the western Mediterranean reported that for once the Pillars of Hercules were undefended. For the merchants of Massalia this was the chance they had been waiting for. The way was clear for them to go looking for this north sea. Pytheas was chosen for this voyage and equipped with a ship about 150 feet long (bigger than the one Columbus would use). Hugging the land, Pytheas eventually found his way to northern France, and then, through cold rain and fog, he sailed up between England and Ireland, reaching islands he called Orka (and we still call the Orkneys), then moving beyond the Shetland and Faeroe islands until he reached a land where, on the first day of summer, the sun remained above the horizon for twenty-four hours. He called this place Thule, and for centuries Ultima Thule was, in effect, the end of the world in that direction – it could have been Iceland, or Norway, the Shetlands or the Faeroes. Pytheas returned via Denmark and Sweden, found a broad sea that reached far inland, the Baltic, and began his search for the Land of Amber. He discovered the rivers that flow from south to north (such as the Oder and the Vistula) and realised that this is how news of the northern sea had reached the Mediterranean. When he returned home, however, many people refused to believe him. Then the Carthaginians took control of the Pillars of Hercules and the Atlantic was once more cut off.Peter Watson, Ideas a History
How far back in time could you go and still be understood? Say we go to London in the year 1400 CE. As you emerge from the time machine, a good first line to speak, something reassuring and recognizable, might be the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer. The first line in a conservative, old-fashioned version of Modern Standard English would be, “Our Father, who is in heaven, blessed be your name.” In the English of 1400, as spoken by Chaucer, you would say, “Oure fadir that art in heuenes, halwid be thy name.” Now turn the dial back another four hundred years to 1000 CE, and in Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, you would say, “Fœader ure thu the eart on heofonum, si thin nama gehalgod.” A chat with Alfred the Great would be out of the question.David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
When describing an event or condition in Hopi you must use grammatical markers that specify whether you witnessed the event yourself, heard about it from someone else, or consider it to be an unchanging truth. Hopi speakers are forced by Hopi grammar to habitually frame all descriptions of reality in terms of the source and reliability of their information.David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
Darwin himself never applied his theories of fitness and natural selection to such vague entities as races or languages, but this did not prevent unscientific opportunists from suggesting that the less “fit” races could be seen as a source of genetic weakness, a reservoir of barbarism that might contaminate and dilute the superior qualities of the races that were more “fit.”David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
It is disconcerting to realize how few of our ancestors most of us can recognize or even name. You have four great-grandmothers, women sufficiently close to you genetically that you see elements of their faces, and skin, and hair each time you see your reflection. Each had a maiden name she heard spoken thousands of times, and yet you probably cannot recall any one of their maiden names.
How many of us can imagine being so utterly forgotten just three generations from now by our own descendents that they remember nothing of us—not even our names?David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World