Fifteen minutes

In 1968 Andy Warhol launched the idea that: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Later in 1979 Warhol restated his idea with the words: “…my prediction from the sixties finally came true: In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”

Yesterday my colleague Dr Dick posted this amazing quote on Facebook:

In the future, everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes.

With a little googling I found the origins of the quote come from the great street artist Banksy – here is a picture from one of his exhibitions.

This was a brilliant twist on the classic Warhol idea. Today everyone is striving for fame in a way that has never been done before. If we then add the death of privacy both the voluntary and the semi-voluntary. We voluntarily give away our privacy through blogs, twitter and facebook (and tons of other web2.0 applications). Then we semi-voluntarily give away too much information through our dependence upon technology.

Through all this loss of privacy the question is no longer one of fame or recognition. The question is if we in the future can have any privacy at all. So in the same way as Warhol in the sixties surprised (or even shocked?) people by claiming people would have fame the question today is more relevant whether we will have privacy.

Fifteen minutes of privacy is an important question to be thought about considering the way in which or society is moving.

Two types of people

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those that enter a room and turn the television set on, and those that enter a room and turn the television set off.

The Manchurian Candidate (1963). More details IMDB.

Women not designed to take life

Here is a nice piece of nostalgia from the newspaper Daily Mail of October, 1 1942 a quote from Major-General Jean Knox:

picture from my flickr photos

Women have won a merited place in the active army, but they cannot be trained to kill. I don’t believe woman can take life as men can. I know nothing of Russia, but I know women. Women give life. They are not designed to take life, even in total war.

So is this a complement or a criticism? It makes you wonder if it is better or worse to be “designed” to take life? On the other hand those struggling for equality find it positive that men and women are equally allowed to take lives in war. Personally I would like to disqualify all genders from taking lives.

Basic tip on essay writing

The new term has begun with new lectures and repeats of some old ones. Last week I gave a repeat performance (well for me at least) of my essay writing lecture. The main point is to get students thinking about their essays in time as well as getting them to understand how to write an essay. Then today I came across this wonderful quote from Antoine de Saint Exupéry the author of, among other books, The Little Prince

The way to get people to build a ship is not to teach them carpentry, assign them tasks, and give them schedules to meet; but to inspire them to long for the infinite immensity of the sea.

The problem with poetic and romantic quotes such as these is that they presents a misleading view of much of the world. All too many essay writers attempt (and many succeed) in writing an essay with no clear idea of what an essay is. You would never think of asking someone who has never seen a house to build you one?

The trick is get students to understand this.

Life according to the movies

After a friend quoted Braveheart to me I go to thinking about movie quotes and arrived at the realization that if something is worth saying it will be parodied in the movies.

So which movie quotes do you remember, or maybe just cannot get out of your mind. Classics like Scarface’s “Say hello to my little friend”, Rhett Butler: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” (Gone With the Wind) or most of the The Godfather tend to appear on people’s list of all time quotes – and for good reason. But when I think of movie quotes I end up with some of the more odd stuff like Ghostbusters – “Back off, I’m a scientist” (which another friend of mine wanted to have on the cover of his thesis but thought better of it – it seemed unnecessary to piss of the examination committee). Another cool one is “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!” from Dr. Strangelove.

I am also fond of scenes when movies parody other movies. Here is the smoking man from the x-files “doing” Forrest Gump:

“Life…is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So, you’re stuck with this undefinable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there’s nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while, there’s a peanut butter cup, or an english toffee, but they’re gone too fast, and the taste is…fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits filled with hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts. And if you’re desperate enough to eat those, all you’ve got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers.”

But what about the quotes that are funny besides themselves like: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws or “Soylent Green is people” from Soylent Green.

Or two quotes which can illustrate the demise of the writer in the movies: “When I’m good, I’m very, very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better” Mae West as Tira in “I’m No Angel” compared to  “Yo, Adrian” – Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky”. OK so this was maybe an unfair comparison 🙂

Whatever your tastes and needs a good movie quote is always good to have.


The Australian Senator John Faulkner seems to be a highly quotable person. Here are two quotes from the New Zealand website

A Facebook posting or a YouTube video, like an ill-considered tattoo, can linger forever.


Trying to legislate to control technological development or the ways people use technology is not perhaps ordering the tide to not come in, but it is certainly like trying to empty a bathtub with a teaspoon.

Now that’s a man with a sense for metaphors! The Australian Law Reform Commission recently handed the Government Australian Privacy Law and Practice (ALRC Report 108) a three-volume, 2694-page report which contains 275 recommendations to improve privacy laws. It is being considered by the Government.

Goodbye George Carlin

I missed that George Carlin died in June. He was a great stand-up with a wicked sense of humor. He had some great observations about the arrogance and stupidity of human beings. Among his great lines was this:

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

Today is for Sisyphus

Ever since a teacher long ago explained Camus’ use of the Sisyphus myth in his work The Myth of Sisyphus to attempt to reach a conclusion as to why we should all not kill ourselves I have been fascinated by the myth itself and the work by Camus which ends with the words: The struggle itself is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king punished by the gods to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again, and to repeat this throughout eternity. He has been the image of pointless work and Camus used him as an example in his work to defend the pointlessness of life.

The first days at work after a vacation are never the best…

Found this beautiful image at Agency of the Urban Subconscious the original wall is in Sicily

Thousand Splendid Suns

Over the holiday I read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) the book tells the tale of the horrors faced by women in Afghanistan. It’s the kind of book which is impossible to put down – so filled with tragedy and misery that compells you to read on.

There were some small sparks of optimism among which is the wonderful quote of a woman being led to her execution after a life of total misery. The spark of positivism is probably an exaggeration of reality but it was necessary to enable the reader to carry on…

Miriam wished for so much in those final moments. Yet as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her. She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing , a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last. No. It was not so bad, Miriam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad. This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate belongings.

Cannot explain the value of this quote – just read the book.