– Ben Martens

Book Quotes

There were too many good quotes to fit them all into yesterday’s post. Here’s another batch.

The Evolutionary Void (Commonwealth: The Void Trilogy) by Peter F. Hamilton

  • We all regard the past too highly. We should cut ourselves free of it. You can only ever look forward to the future.”
  • Most people who have failed miserably in life itself have one last resort left available to them. They become politicians.

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman

  • The young boss realized that his job was not to show his subordinates how much smarter he was than they were, but to bring them up to his level.
  • Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to begin again. —HENRY FORD
  • When you get a whole country—as did ours—thinking that Washington is a sort of heaven and behind its clouds dwell omniscience and omnipotence, you are educating that country into a dependent state of mind which augurs ill for the future. —HENRY FORD
  • “You have to expect the unexpected, and you have to deal with it,” he said. “Whining is not a plan. Wallowing is not a plan. We have a plan, and if we need to adjust it, we will.”
  • Washington was now spending taxpayer dollars to pay for advertising touting the benefits of GM and Chrysler products over competing Fords. Those companies were also using taxpayer dollars to offer bigger incentives in an effort to win back sales. Even more troubling for Ford was the fact that the government was using General Motors’ former lending arm, GMAC, to offer attractive financing terms to buyers that Ford simply could not match.
  • The leader’s job is to remind people of that vision, make sure they stick to the process, and keep them working together.

WAR by Sebastian Junger

  • Apaches have a 30 mm chain gun slaved to the pilot’s helmet that points wherever he looks; if you shoot at an Apache, the pilot turns his head, spots you, and kills you.
  • Good leaders know that exhaustion is partly a state of mind, though, and that the men who succumb to it have on some level decided to put themselves above everyone else. If you’re not prepared to walk for someone you’re certainly not prepared to die for them, and that goes to the heart of whether you should even be in the platoon.
  • We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. —Winston Churchill (or George Orwell)
  • The only way to calm your nerves in that environment was to marvel at the insane amount of firepower available to the Americans and hope that that changed the equation somehow. They have a huge shoulder-fired rocket called a Javelin, for example, that can be steered into the window of a speeding car half a mile away. Each Javelin round costs $80,000, and the idea that it’s fired by a guy who doesn’t make that in a year at a guy who doesn’t make that in a lifetime is somehow so outrageous it almost makes the war seem winnable.
  • “Combat is such an adrenaline rush,” he says. “I’m worried I’ll be looking for that when I get home and if I can’t find it, I’ll just start drinking and getting in trouble. People back home think we drink because of the bad stuff, but that’s not true… we drink because we miss the good stuff.”
  • The most traumatic things about combat is having to give it up.
  • Men say they miss combat, it’s not that they actually miss getting shot at—you’d have to be deranged—it’s that they miss being in a world where everything is important and nothing is taken for granted. They miss being in a world where human relations are entirely governed by whether you can trust the other person with your life.
  • Statistically, it’s six times as dangerous to spend a year as a young man in America than as a cop or a fireman, and vastly more dangerous than a one-year deployment at a big military base in Afghanistan. You’d have to go to a remote firebase like the KOP or Camp Blessing to find a level of risk that surpasses that of simply being an adolescent male back home.

Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina

  • I had deep feelings for my son—always will—but I wondered at the time what ever made me decide to have a baby. I had no idea that something so wonderful was also going to be so hard. I learned a difficult but important lesson: Once a kid comes into the world, the calculus of daily living coughs up new equations. I am good at math, but I was no good at this. I had no idea how to solve these problems.
  • The baby takes. The parent gives. End of story.
  • When I lecture on the science of young brains, the dads (it’s almost always the dads) demand to know how to get their kids into Harvard. The question invariably angers me. I bellow, “You want to get your kid into Harvard? You really want to know what the data say? I’ll tell you what the data say! Go home and love your wife!” This chapter is about that retort: why marital hostility happens, how it alters a baby’s developing brain, and how you can counteract the hostility and minimize its effects.
  • Couples who regularly practice empathy see stunning results. It is the independent variable that predicts a successful marriage.
  • For all of us, nature controls about 50 percent of our intellectual horsepower, and environment determines the rest.
  • There are four nutrients you will want in your behavioral formula, adjusting them as your baby gets older: breast-feeding, talking to your baby, guided play, and praising effort rather than accomplishment. Brain research tells us there are also several toxins: pushing your child to perform tasks his brain is not developmentally ready to take on; stressing your child to the point of a psychological state termed “learned helplessness”; and, for the under-2 set, television.
  • Along with the ability to regulate emotions, the ability to perceive the needs of another person and respond with empathy plays a huge role in your child’s social competence. Empathy makes good friends.

Book Quotes

I’ve been reading a lot of good books lately thanks to Good Reads. Here are some of the quotes that I’ve highlighted while reading them on my Kindle.

Pandora’s Star (The Commonwealth Saga) by Peter F. Hamilton

  • He never did understand why people collected or even admired art; the greatest human artist could never hope to match what nature did with a single flower.
  • That’s the thing with serious money, you can do so much that you never have time to do anything.
  • Ozzie knew just how much truth there was in the old saying that every conservative is another liberal who got mugged.

Si-cology 1: Tales and Wisdom from Duck Dynasty’s Favorite Uncle by Si Robertson

  • When you were born and they were handing out brains, you thought they said ‘trains’.
  • Christine was ready to have a baby, so she really wanted me to visit the doctor to find out what was going on. I wanted to have children badly as well, so I agreed to go. After an examination, the doctors thought my sperm count might be low. They handed me a glass jar and told me to bring back a specimen the next day. Now, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. Despite my embarrassment, I agreed to come back with a specimen. The next day, I returned to the doctor’s office. “Where’s the sample?” the doctor asked me. “Hey, I tried to do it,” I told him. “But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. I asked my wife for help, but I still couldn’t do it. Then I asked my neighbor to help me, and I even asked my army buddies for assistance. No matter who helped, I couldn’t do it.” I looked at the doctor and his face was bright red. “Hey, none of us could get the lid off the jar,” I said.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

  • In World War II, 35,933 AAF planes were lost in combat and accidents. The surprise of the attrition rate is that only a fraction of the ill-fated planes were lost in combat. In 1943 in the Pacific Ocean Areas theater in which Phil’s crew served, for every plane lost in combat, some six planes were lost in accidents. Over time, combat took a greater toll, but combat losses never overtook noncombat losses.
  • In one time frame, in the Eastern Air Command, half of the Catalina flying boats attempting rescues crashed while trying to land on the ocean. It seems likely that for every man rescued, several would-be rescuers died, especially in the first years of the war.

The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One by Patrick Rothfuss

  • When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.
  • If there is one thing I will not abide, it is the folly of a willful pride.
  • My parents danced together, her head on his chest. Both had their eyes closed. They seemed so perfectly content. If you can find someone like that, someone who you can hold and close your eyes to the world with, then you’re lucky. Even if it only lasts for a minute or a day.
  • There are two sure ways to lose a friend, one is to borrow, the other to lend.

The Wise Man’s Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two by Patrick Rothfuss

  • Books are a poor substitute for female companionship, but they are easier to find.
  • Everyone knows a man’s reputation except the man himself.
  • Nothing in the world is harder than convincing someone of an unfamiliar truth.
  • Trying to have a conversation with him was like playing catch with a well.

Book Quotes

One of the best features of the Kindle is the ability to highlight passages and then retrieve them on your computer later. Here are some of the passages I’ve highlighted in the last few months:

  • ATLANTIS by Bob Mayer
    More missions meant they were better at what they did, not less afraid.
  • The Time Machine by H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
    I could work at a problem for years, but to wait inactive for twenty-four hours—that is another matter.
  • The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
    Nitwit ideas are for emergencies. You use them when you’ve got nothing else to try. If they work, they go in the Book. Otherwise you follow the Book, which is largely a collection of nitwit ideas that worked."

I’d say Mote in God’s Eye is the best of the books I’ve read recently. I’ve been very impressed with two of the Jerry Pournelle books I’ve read. The other is Lucifer’s Hammer. If you’re at all interested by the synopsis of the books, give them a shot and you probably won’t be disappointed.

Private: Book Quotes

I haven’t posted any book quotes recently so it’s time to rectify that situation.

Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy

Somewhere in him was the knowledge that there was no such thing as sameness: You might do the same things and cover the same streets and even think the same worrisome thoughts, but inside, deep where you couldn’t see them, things were changing and changing and changing and working up to the point where they would come together and show. And then before long you would be saying that something had happened, and your life would suddenly be so different to you you would hardly even recognize it as your own.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in so doing, they pollute a potentially wonderful day.

The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history.

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Janos Slynt was a butcher’s son, and he laughed like a man chopping meat.

“His time was past,” her handmaid Irri declared. “No man should live longer than his teeth.”

Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees

I took trips to Brown, Kentucky, and Purdue. After doing some research, I wound up choosing Purdue because of its academic reputation (some call it the Ivy League of the Midwest) and also because of the opportunity to play in the best conference in the country at the time: the Big Ten. Plus, I loved Joe Tiller and his spread offense and knew it would be a perfect fit. True, it was a basketball school . . . until we made it a football school.

Everyone knows Purdue is one of the top ten engineering schools in the country, but most people don’t realize that the Krannert School of Management at Purdue is in the top ten among business schools at public universities.

Anyone can see the adversity in a difficult situation, but it takes a stronger person to see the opportunity.

Forget all the doubters. Forget all the critics. Is there satisfaction in proving them wrong? Sure, but I don’t want to give those people the gratification of even dwelling on their words that long. There’s a motivator much more powerful than doubt. I play in honor of those who believe in me.

I spent the next two nights in the hospital with Brittany on a reclining chair beside me. She tells me I single-handedly prepared her for having babies after the way she had to take care of me postsurgery.

A good friend of mine once told me that each morning when you wake up, think about winning the day. Don’t worry about a week from now or a month from now—just think about one day at a time. If you are worried about the mountain in the distance, you might trip over the molehill right in front of you. Win the day!

The next time you’re up against one of those difficult times, you might not be able to see it as an opportunity to gain power and confidence, but it is—you can bank on it. You have to prepare now to trust and have faith that it’s happening for a reason. And when it comes, you can lean into the adversity, put your shoulder down, push through it, and learn from it. Through those experiences, God will mold you into the person he wants you to be.

“Experience is what you gain when you don’t get what you want.”

I said to Brittany, “I’m going to have long hair when he’s born.” I’m a pretty clean-cut, short hair kind of guy, but by then my hair was almost down to my shoulders. Baylen will always have those pictures to look back on . . . and laugh at.

I don’t score many touchdowns, and when I do, I’m typically not emotional. I like what Bear Bryant said about “acting like you’ve been there before.”

When I set out to write this book, my ultimate goal was not to get you excited about my career or the Saints, or even to make you want to move to New Orleans (although we’d love to have you at least visit us!). My desire was to have you turn the last page and become excited about waking up tomorrow.

The next time adversity knocks on your door, stand up tall and do the right thing. You can do more than just survive. You can come back—stronger.

Private: Book Quotes

This episode of book quotes features Lucifer’s Hammer. Of all the books I’ve read recently, this one is at or near the top of the list. Check it out!

Curious Folks Ask: 162 Real Answers on Amazing Inventions, Fascinating Products, and Medical Mysteries by Sherry Seethaler

In basketball, using the backboard provides about a 50 percent better chance of succeeding for close shots (except for very tall players, who can dunk), according to the paper “Basketball Shooting Strategies,” published in Sports Engineering.

The optimal bat swing angle decreases from about 9 degrees (upward from horizontal) to 7 degrees as the pitch changes from fastball with backspin, to knuckleball with no spin, to curveball with topspin, according to the paper “How to Hit Home Runs,” published in the American Journal of Physics. Undercutting the ball center with the bat also helps maximize the ball’s range. Optimal undercut is about an inch. Slightly less undercut is needed for a curveball than for a fastball.

You have a photic sneeze reflex, also known as ACHOO Syndrome. If you want to impress your friends, ACHOO stands for autosomal dominant compelling helio-ophthalmic outburst. (I’m not sure why it’s not ADCHOO, but at least sneeze scientists have a sense of humor.)

About 1,000 species of normal, or commensal, bacteria inhabit our bodies. In total, we are lugging around a few pounds of bacteria. These bacterial cells, which are smaller than our own cells, significantly outnumber the human cells in our bodies. The highest concentration of bacteria is found in our intestines, especially the colon, and bacteria comprise approximately 60 percent of the solids in feces.

Viruses that cause upper-airway infections generally propagate best at temperatures a few degrees below body temperature—conditions found in nasal passages cooled by inhaled air, but not in a congested airway.

Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

A man generates more heat inside each cubic inch of his body than the Sun does in each cubic inch of its surface.

The importance of information is directly proportional to its improbability.

The Justice Game by Randy Singer

Of the Starling family, only Kelly remained unmarried, though the church members had been doing their best to set Kelly up since she arrived home a few days earlier. Who needed dating services when you had a whole church full of scouts and matchmaking geniuses?

Private: Book Quotes

It’s time for another edition of passages that I’ve highlighted in Kindle books.

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

University people were always so proud of being readers instead of television watchers, but what was the difference, really? It was a one-way transmission. I read, but it made no difference to the writer. He never knew. And when I’m dead, what will it matter the books I read? My memory is where the book ends up, just like the TV show, and when I’m dead, that memory is gone from the world.

Lies Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort through the Noise around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies by Sherry Seethaler

Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out. —Thomas Cardinal Wolsey (1471-1530)

The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger by Lee Strobel

They had peace despite poverty, while I had anxiety despite plenty; they knew the joy of generosity, while I only knew the loneliness of ambition; they looked heavenward for hope, while I only looked out for myself; they experienced the wonder of the spiritual while I was shackled to the shallowness of the material—and something made me long for what they had. Or, more accurately, for the One they knew.

Private: Book Quotes

I mentioned last month that I was going to start posting some of the passages I’ve highlighted on my Kindle. Here’s a few more for you. If you’re ever intrigued by these books and want to read them, let me know and I can Kindle-loan them to you.

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson

A man is not so inclined to give up when he sees in panoramas.

Midnight in Madrid by Noel Hynd

“Pascal’s Wager is one of the most famous arguments in the philosophy of religion,” she said. “It was first devised by Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth-century French philosopher, in his book Pensées. He suggested that rational people should believe in God even if it is impossible to prove whether he exists, simply because it is a better bet.” “A better bet?” Federov laughed. “A fixed horserace is a good bet.” “Suppose you believe in God, but God doesn’t exist. Then there’s nothing to lose. But assume He does exist. The prize for a believer could be as high as eternal life in paradise. Nonbelievers, on the other hand, might roast in hell.” “Like I probably will?” Federov said. “Weigh the gain or loss in wagering that God exists,” Alex said. “Pascal theorized that if you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose nothing that you already had. Wager then, without hesitation that God exists and live your life accordingly. You would be irrational not to.”

Smart Pricing: How Google, Priceline, and Leading Businesses Use Pricing Innovation for Profitability by Jagmohan Raju, Z. John Zhang

As an old Chinese saying goes, the lock on a door is meant to prevent the theft by a gentleman, not by a thief…

The Cheesecake Factory, gives away a lot of cheesecake whenever it opens a new location. Established outlets also give customers a lot of food, too (another kind of freebie): huge portions that ensure that 80% of the clientele walk out the door with a bag of leftovers. “It doesn’t hurt to have people walk around with the bags,” explains Howard Overton, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing…

An Indiana gambling commission noted that the percentage “hold”—retained cash—on penny slots is higher than dollar slots. The most profitable $1 slot machine in Indiana retained 8.2% for the casino, compared to 11.9% for the top penny machine. That 8.2% is actually high by industry standards, but the 11.9% take on the penny machines is reportedly about average. In Las Vegas, the $1 machines pay out 96%–98%, compared to around 90% for the penny machines…

In conventional retailing, an opaque sale is often made by marketing a store brand alongside a branded product. The private-label good is cheaper than the branded version of the same good, giving price-sensitive customers a cheaper alternative. Many consumer packaged goods companies actually act as contractors to grocery chains, essentially serving as the manufacturer for their own competition. For the manufacturer (in the short run, at least), selling a private-label product is clearly positive because consumers do not necessarily know about the product’s true identity when they purchase the “opaque” product. The margins between the private label and their own brands are often not very different because the manufacturer typically doesn’t need to pay slotting fees to the retailer or invest in marketing. Also, by supplying private-label brands, consumer packaged goods companies gain the flexibility of charging price-sensitive customers a lower price, while charging a high price to non-price-sensitive customers through the branded product. Like coupons, private label popularity rises in hard times. In the U.S., private-label goods represent 22% of all food sales by volume, and the share is growing. In 2008, for example, sales of private-label groceries and consumer products jumped 10%, from $75 billion in 2007 to $82.9 billion, even as sales of branded products rose just 2.8%. In certain segments, the growth is even faster. German value supermarket chain Aldi, which is now expanding quickly in the U.S., sells 95% private label goods…

In the United States alone, one of every three toys comes from McDonald’s.16 Incredibly, the toy prize has become so successful that McDonald’s is now the largest toy distributor in the world. “McDonald’s is in some ways a toy company, not a food company,” says one retired fast food executive. He is not exaggerating. The toys are big business for McDonald’s: A successful toy can boost sales 4%, and a hit, such as the Beanie Babies, can send total sales up as much as 15%, according to industry analysts—not a bad return on a 30¢–50¢ trinket.