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meaning

A few excerpts from Esquire’s recent profile of Roger Ebert:

Ebert is waiting for a Scottish company called CereProc to give him some of his former voice back. He found it on the Internet, where he spends a lot of his time. CereProc tailors text-to-speech software for voiceless customers so that they don’t all have to sound like Stephen Hawking. They have catalog voices — Heather, Katherine, Sarah, and Sue — with regional Scottish accents, but they will also custom-build software for clients who had the foresight to record their voices at length before they lost them. Ebert spent all those years on TV, and he also recorded four or five DVD commentaries in crystal-clear digital audio. The average English-speaking person will use about two thousand different words over the course of a given day. CereProc is mining Ebert’s TV tapes and DVD commentaries for those words, and the words it cannot find, it will piece together syllable by syllable. When CereProc finishes its work, Roger Ebert won’t sound exactly like Roger Ebert again, but he will sound more like him than Alex does. There might be moments, when he calls for Chaz from another room or tells her that he loves her and says goodnight — he’s a night owl; she prefers mornings — when they both might be able to close their eyes and pretend that everything is as it was.

Ebert, describing what his journal means to him:

When I am writing my problems become invisible and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.

On ephemeral reactions:

Anger isn’t as easy for him as it used to be. Now his anger rarely lasts long enough for him to write it down.

On crime, and joy:

I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

Roger Ebert is a great example of what the so-called New Atheists have never understood: that living well is a far better way to ‘evangelize’ freethinking than pedantic and vitriolic argument, however rational it may be.

To the extent that humanists might imagine having saints, Mr. Ebert is surely one of them.

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MacArthur Fellow Heather McHugh, in a recent Newshour profile:

“If you look around, the surface of the water is never the same any two moments, much less any two days. Any skyscape is never the same thing. You can’t possibly see it all.

We narrow meaning to make our meanings of it.

For me, the whole point of poetry is to liberate the larger sense. The great paradox of poetry is it’s the smallest unit of language you can make that releases the greatest number of readings.”

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“I’ve thought
about this
quite a bit,
sir,

and I would have
to say
considering
what’s waiting
out there
for me

I don’t want
to sell anything
buy anything
or process
anything –
as a
career.

I don’t want
to sell anything
bought
or processed.

Buy anything
sold
or processed

or
process anything
sold
bought –
or processed,

or repair anything
sold
bought
or processed.

You know,
as a career:
I don’t want
to do that.”

– Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack) in Say Anything, outlining the aversions that led him to choose a career in kickboxing.

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“We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. The journey for each of us begins here. [He points to his head.] We’re going to explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination…”

I’ve been watching episodes of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos: A Personal Journey”, now available on Hulu:

The next time you hear someone claim that humanists and freethinkers don’t believe in anything, point them to Cosmos — a rationalists’ Credo, a celebration of human curiousity and invention, and an inspiring summary of what Sagan called “the searching of 40,000 generations of our ancestors.”

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The interview with Arvo Pärt starts at 4:25, after a quick listen to an installation by Tommi Grönlund and a snippet of Pärt’s “Cantus in Memory of  Benjamin Britten”.

via Tim Bray

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The Guardian (and the BBC) report on the revival of a World War II-era poster:

Keep Calm And Carry On

Keep Calm And Carry On

So much for stiff upper lip. It sounds rather limp to me.

Whatever it might have meant to a population under the threat of Nazi invasion, does it apply to the current global economic downturn?

Matt Jones offers a worthy riposte:

Don't keep calm and carry on.

The change of color reflects the difference in sentiments nicely, too.

via Merlin Mann

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