The Best of the Raw Data: Excerpts from Conversations on the Quad

Passersby Have a Voice: Excerpts from Conversations on the Quad

Below are excerpts from conversations I had with people who came up to me on the Quad. For a full transcript of all conversations, see the page: Raw Data: Conversations on the Quad.

As I was relying on memory, any omissions, distortions or misrepresentations of people's thoughts are my responsibility alone. In some cases names have been changed.

"...I think learning on my own instead of at a university would be more effective, but less efficient..." 
- Jill, January 6

"...We talked about higher education in one of our classes and whether we really need one.... Since everyone had already paid their tuition, we decided higher education is necessary..."
- Carl, January19

"...Most people went to the university because it was the accepted thing to do...."
"Can you learn without a university?"
"Probably, but schooling and university is rigid and gives structure so that you can used to the structure you will have to adhere to later in working life..."
- Luke, January 20

"...I like the college experience: the interaction with others and learning. But it's true you can get a job even with a degree in something like women's studies if you can get through the interview..."
- Mike, January 31

"...I had an English literature TA say that if you don't use the knowledge you're getting in the right way, you have no business studying at a university..."
- a girl, February 9

"...I've looked at the budget figures for Washington state, and if I were making the decisions, I would cut funding for higher education and raise taxes, because I think public school education should not be cut and medical care should be fully funded. I'm a little embarrassed to say that because I come from a family of means.... I would love to see groups of 2000-3000 students take positions for and other groups take positions against funding cuts and see an open debate. I think about the lack of activism on campus and think that maybe it's okay that there is none. Maybe people are happy with the way things are and there isn't any need for it..."
- Aaron, February 22

"...If you look at both ends of the spectrum: the Chinese mother who pushes her children from a young age to work hard...and the liberal mothers who just want to let their children be free spirits (which attitude I think comes from laziness), I think children need both. It was only after the age of forty that I began to see the value of a more monastic way of life, meaning there's great value in sitting alone with books and engaging in intellectual pursuits. So I guess probably because I was raised in more the sense of letting children be a free spirit and didn't see the value of intellectual pursuits until much later, I would try to give my children structure and help them to be focused so I don't think I would encourage them to be activists because I wouldn't want them to get distracted from their focus..."
- a man, February 23

"...Why do people lose their sense of wonder when they grow up?...Some people try to remind us we've forgotten, like Socrates, Plato, Plotinus...but they usually kill them..."
- Andrew (Asian American), February 24

"...I thought college would be different. I thought there would be opportunities to think outside the box and about life, not just academics....I have three months left and I'm counting down the days..."
- a guy, February 24

"...I'm thinking maybe I'm spending too much time on facebook and I'm thinking of deleting my account. It's very convenient for organizing events, but I have 1200 friends there and it takes up a lot of time... If students think they don't have enough free time they ought to try working a 40- or 50-hour-a-week job. Some of the science or engineering students don't have a lot of time, but the others just don't make the time..."
- Aaron, March 1

"...I think the people who get into Ivy League schools know how to work the system. I don't pay for my education and there are some who do pay who intellectually are more sophisticated than I am. I don't pay simply because I know how the system works. I know how to apply for the right grants and how to ask the professors for assistance..."
- a guy, March 14

"...I'm thinking maybe I don't need a college degree... The thing is I don't really need a lot of money. TV for example would be on the bottom of my list of what I would need. I just need a computer with the internet, a small apartment, food and maybe a new shirt once in awhile.... I'd just want to work at, say, a store or in a stockroom and in my spare time be comfortable. I figure I could make minimum wage and retire at 60 and just live modestly..."
- Fred, March 17

”...There are all sorts of rules in society that they try to get us to follow all the time. I want to be free to do whatever I want when I want.
“Should there be any limits on freedom?”
“No, there shouldn't be any limits. Standing by this sign talking to people is much more interesting than sitting in a boring class falling asleep. I'm surprised more people don't come up to you.... Your sign is not really radical, but this is the kind of thing people should be talking about. I mean I see the people walking by with their headphones on rushing to class. I mean, it's fun [to wear headphones], but they're not really noticing what's going on around them. They're not really learning...”
- Keola, March 28

"...But I only vote on issues I have some understanding of. For example, I've only taken one or two courses on economics so I'm not qualified to make a judgment related to the financial crisis..."
- Aaron, January 27

"...I read that the Muslim Brotherhood was actually behind the revolution in Egypt but that they did not come out in formal support of what was happening from the very beginning as they would be seen as a negative, radical, fundamentalist organization. On the other hand, that might be completely untrue and a rumor designed to discredit what is happening..."
- Thayer, February 9

"...It bothers me that people are arrested for thinking about committing a terrorist crime.... I know they can't arrest someone for conspiracy to commit murder because no one has done anything wrong yet. They take these people from Afghanistan and Iraq and send them to Egypt and places on just a suspicion. In general I don't understand why terrorists blow up buildings and try to hijack planes. All they have to do is sit near the end of a runway with a missile that's easy to make and shoot the plane down as it's landing..."
- a guy, February 28

"...They did a study of all the wars and countries involved in them and tried to determine what the common reason for wars was, and after they analyzed all the various contributing factors they could find only one common trait of the countries that fought wars: they shared borders with each other. They go to war because the people in power create pretexts for wars.... I would say that there is in the military and security companies like Blackwater about the same proportion of sadists as in the general public. The one man I despised from a moral point of view was a guy named Joe from Southern California who used to boast he and his friends got off on beating up bums and stuffing them in porto-potties and tipping them over on their sides. He said once: "Hey, we could kill one of the bums and we could get away with it!" He had come over to Iraq to kill. But most of the guys, if you can get them to talk about their experiences (they usually don't like to), will tell you the minute you end someone's life, your life is changed. They will say they were doing their job, what they were there to do, but they do not like the fact that they had to do it. Another thing that is disturbing is the different rules for the soldiers and the mercenaries. There is a strict international code of conduct as to what you can do during wartime. If you as a soldier go and shoot up a room full of civilians, there are consequences for an act like that. If you do it because an officer ordered you to do so, then it might be a little bit easier to get out of being punished. But these mercenary guys answer only to the president of the United States for what they do.... If there's one man who was evil it was Cheney. When he became vice-president he would go into the Pentagon and try to tell the generals what to do and they told him to get out and leave them to do the business they knew how to do. But once the wars started, Cheney came in and got rid of 200 officers who were 'retired' or fired outright.... The only ones left were those who would do anything Cheney asked them to do..."
- Garrett, March 3

”...The Chinese have more economic freedom. I'm talking about entrepreneurs. There aren't as many laws limiting what they can do. And they're a little embarrassed about that and consider themselves maybe a little backwards and behind other countries because they don't have a lot of traffic laws we have. But in China there are so many people the government can't really dictate all their actions. Probably their worse human rights violations are the forced abortions. But even in the cities, the limit of one child per family is difficult to impose. In fact, from what I observed, people just ignored laws and the regime altogether until a law finally makes its way down to coming into force seemingly out of nowhere. Something strange for us is that in China a simple item of clothing will be dirt cheap and of low quality and unfashionable, or it will cost $30. There are no clothes like you find in Walmart here because they're all exported here. So Chinese people who come here to study eventually stop worrying so much about the brands of clothes they wear because they get used to our way of doing things.” 
“When they go back do they take the habits they picked up here with them?”
“When they go back they have to return to the old ways at least until they get married. In the cities there are a lot of dating clubs, which are funny to go to. You hear Lady Gaga blasting over speakers at full volume and see couples paired up sitting at tables and mostly staring at their cell phones because they're too shy to do anything else. One thing was strange for me: young people whose parents have a lot of money will visit prostitutes three or four times a month. So i will sometimes overhear conversations between a guy and his friends and they compare prostitutes from one city with prostitutes from another and the guy whose mother is the police chief tells his friends they should go to the brothel tonight because he knows there won't be any police raids. But the rich people who are older, who became rich through hard work, are very different. I know multi-millionaires who will eat at cheap, ordinary outdoor cafes with ordinary people. they don't feel the need to flaunt their wealth and family is still what's most important to them...”
- Eric, March 28

”...I think we are not free in the sense that there are laws and society has rules it makes us follow, but still people are still free to create their own perception and be happy, even in a communist country...”
Nav, March 29

"...What kind of reaction do you think I'd get if I stood out with a '9/11 TRUTH' sign? Do you think the police would come?"
"No. Everyone would just think you're crazy."
- Will, March 30

”...I’ve been thinking about creating my own blog about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. I simply don’t have the time to do so. I’d like to see a more balanced presentation of the issues involved.
“I personally am tired of people who criticize Israeli foreign policy being called anti-semitic. And if the person criticizing Israel is Jewish, they’re called a self-hating Jew.”
“That argument doesn’t work anymore, in the context of J Street. And this makes the older generation angry, that they can’t fall back on the self-hating Jew argument and have all Jews support them. What bothers me is the way both sides simply change the subject when legitimate criticism is expressed. For example, if you bring up the subject of the right of Israeli’s to take Palestinian land, they will change the subject and talk about suicide bombings. And when you talk to a Palestinian about killing settlers on the West Bank, they say this is an encroachment on their land and talk about Israeli bombings. I disagree with the settlers and the settlements, but don’t kill people...”
- Aaron, April 1

"...students have become tired of the people carrying signs. The signs are negative. For example a sign carried by the Lyndon Larouche people shows Obama with a Hitler mustache. They justify it by saying that it attracts attention to a problem, but it just creates more negativity. I always go up and talk to the people carrying signs but it's impossible to talk to them; they won't listen to a different opinion..."
- Brad, January 18

"...People on campus are very conservative and conformist. I look people in the eye as I pass them and only two or three a day will return my look. The rest look away or down as if they don't notice or don't care to notice anyone else alive around them. What I understand is that in order for this big machinery called society to work, it is necessary that every cog in the machinery perform its function precisely..."
- Nate, January 24

"...I have noticed that people here behave in strange ways. When I walk past people, they don't look me in the eye and look away if I look them in the eye. They are like robots. In Saudi Arabia it is okay to look someone in the eye..."
- a man from Saudi Arabia, February 1

"...My sister, for example, is the most cartoonish example: she's 28, has a boob job, a rich husband and is racist and sexist. If she didn't have me for a brother she'd be homophobic. Too many women think they can become empowered by pleasing men by stripping for them, and that's wrong.... People say they believe stereotypes because they're true, but I think they believe stereotypes because they're easy..."
- Evan, February 1

"...There's a TV show called "Weeds" that's about a woman who sells drugs who is really cool and who teases men. She'll lead them on up to the point where they're about to be together and then she dumps them, but it's presented in such a way that the guy feels privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from this woman who feels she has the right to engage in any sort of behavior that pleases her with no consequences, no matter how irresponsible. I think women who see the show imitate that kind of behavior..."
- Hans, February 3

"...When I was in England I thought it would be great to come study in America because people here were politically active. But when I got here I found that although people are open to meeting new people, they are completely polarized and divided into various camps, unwilling to talk with anyone who falls outside their camp. People in England are not so open to meeting you, but they will get to know you as a person regardless of your pollitical beliefs, and once they do so they will open up to you, while here you can't be friends with anyone unless you agree with their political position..."
- Nathan, February 3

"...I think a big problem is the separation of people. All interaction is asymptotic: you can get really close to someone but you can never fully understand where they're coming from..."
- Andrew, February 7

"...We were at Memos, the Mexican restaurant, recently and we moved around furniture and struck silly poses but were surprised to find nobody noticed because they were so engrossed in what they were doing..."
- Nathan, February 8

"...I have younger siblings who watch TV and I watch what they do sometimes and am appalled at the values in the shows. It's garbage."
"Do you tell your parents what you think?"
"Yes, but they like the TV because it lets them turn off their kids and occupy them with something so they don't have to. You'd think people wouldn't have kids if all they would do after having them was to try to avoid having to spend time with them..."
- Cameron, February 8

"...I have noticed that some people, like my roommates, all tend to think exactly the same thing. They're all watching Glee on TV. It's interesting to me to watch American TV and see all the commercials for creams for your face that will make you beautiful in 2 days and toothpastes to whiten your teeth. But my roommates also seem to be scared of things. They tell me I should never go out alone on campus at 9pm and that the Ave is the most dangerous street in Seattle..."
- an Egyptian exchange student, February 23

"...I'm very competitive... I used to try always to show that I too was worthy of attention."
"To do the 'like me' dance, doing everything possible to be liked."
"A big part of high school life."
"The only part of high school life. Then there were the people who didn't care what other people thought of them, but it seemed like they were inconsiderate and didn't feel compassion towards others. And in not caring, they wanted other people to notice them for being that way."
"Was anyone able to find the middle ground?"
"I think by senior year everybody had gotten tired of being that way and they started to be themselves..."
- Cricket, March 2

"...I used to do things to try to break people's trance.... For example, I would get together with a friend and he would stand on Red Square and I would stand nearby and pretend not to know him. Then he would go up to someone and ask them where the library is and the person would tell him, and then I would come up and say to him: 'No, the library's not there. He's lying to you.' And we would get in an argument and we liked to try to see how long we could keep it going.... I used to ride the bus and I'd pick a random spot on the ceiling and point to it to see how many people I could get to look up at it..."
Will, March 17

"...What kind of reaction do you think I'd get if I stood out with a '9/11 TRUTH' sign? Do you think the police would come?"
"No. Everyone would just think you're crazy."
- Will, March 30

”...I had a friend who taught me techniques for picking up women. For example, he would be walking by a girl and suddenly stop and ask her something completely innocent like ‘Do you like horses?’, as if the thought had just occurred to him. And because the question was so innocent, they would usually answer honestly. Then he would say something like: ‘The reason I asked is because you look a lot like this girl who sat behind me in high school who used to draw horses. I feel guilty now because I used to make fun of her and rip up the pictures she drew...’ What you have to do is make the phrase something completely innocent.”
“And make it seem spontaneous and genuine?”
“Yes. You could actually talk about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a girl. It doesn't matter what you talk about. Girls aren't interested in the subject of the conversation. They just want to be left with a positive emotional impression. Another thing the guy explained to me was why women get angry when you look at them as if sizing them up. He said what makes women angry is when they catch you staring at their breasts or ass and you look away as if you're ashamed. He said it's the shame they puts them off. What he does is if they catch him looking at them, he'll let them know by not averting his eyes that he finds them sexually attractive. That makes them happy. I think what women are told they're supposed to want in a man is not what they really want. It’s been this way for millions of years. Men have wanted women who are healthy. They want women who are not too fat or too thin so that they will be able to produce healthy offspring. Women have always wanted social things, like stability and ability to provide, and status. They liked tribal leaders because tribal leaders could provide them with safety. And I think the elaborate mating rituals made sense. I think that’s the reason guys are afraid to go up to girls, because in the past if you went up to someone’s mate, you could be killed...”
Will, March 31

"...Some of my friends were shocked to see me smoking a cigarette. They think that no Christian would ever do such a thing. But when I think about the way Christians are inaccurately stereotyped I realized that I too judge people unfairly. I have a friend who smokes pot and I sometimes make judgments about him which are untrue because I have a stereotype of what marijuana smokers are like..."
- Kirk, January 19

"...I was raised as a Christian and people talked all the time about forgiveness, but then they were always judging me..."
- a girl, January 31

"...I'm auditing classes about religion at the Jackson School of International Affairs, which is maybe a bit strange since I'm not a particular fan of religion."
"Do you think overcoming the fear of death could be a positive thing?"
"I suppose it could be positive, or it could be negative because it would mean people wouldn't avoid death; although we all of course die eventually."
"Do you think if someone weren't afraid of death they might do things abnormally risky?"
"They might. I'm a mountain climber and so I have known people who have died while mountain climbing."
"Have the ones who have died been religious?"
"I don't think there was necessarily a correlation between who believed what and who died. I think not fearing death means you can have Muslim suicide bombers who think that if they kill themselves and others they'll go to heaven and be surrounded by 71 virgins, or whatever the number of virgins it is."
"I remember Bush called suicide bombers cowards. Do you think they are?"
"I don't know if they're cowards, but I do think they're deluded."
"Do you think there's a big difference between a suicide bomber who wants to go to heaven to be with virgins and a man in any army who sacrifices his own life for the sake of winning the medal of honor posthumously?" "You make some interesting points..."
- an elderly man, February 2

"...If you committed suicide, how would you do it?"
"Having grown up with massive amounts of Christian guilt, I would probably tie a millstone around my neck (I was always told that if you lead someone astray you should have a millstone tied around your neck) and fling myself over a precipice into the ocean. That way I'd have the 30 seconds of orgasmic-like bliss before my body secreted a lot of DMT and I passed on..."
- Hans, February 3

"I think everyone is interesting if you go deep enough. If we knew everything about people we would be shocked by what we knew.... I find it disconcerting that in the Old Testament God is loving but He smites His enemies. And why should we love and fear God at the same time? Why is there so much said in the New Testament about hell? Why would a loving God send someone to hell?"
- a girl, February 8

"...I believe that everything did come about by pure chance. I made the decision to become an atheist. It's strange. I say I'm an atheist and reject the blind faith of religions, and yet I believe in aliens and that we came to be by chance..." 
- Fred, February 14

"...I used to be angry, depressed and suicidal. I didn't find happiness in my family, in my studies or in relationships. I didn't use drugs, but I drank some, but when I would get up the next morning I would be unhappy again. But a year ago I found a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ and He guides me and makes everything work the way it's supposed to. It's hardships that bring people to Jesus. People who have money think their money can buy them what they need and buy them pleasures, but no matter how much pleasure they buy it's not the pleasure that a relationship with Jesus brings."
"Is it possible for Buddhists or Muslims to find the happiness you talk about?"
"For people like Muslims it is different because theirs is a religion, while what Christians have is faith. A Muslim has to pray five times a day and it doesn't brings him happiness and if he misses a prayer even once he will go to hell..."
- Mike, March 2

"...We are all sinful. In this world it is impossible not to be, but we can choose not to sin. I know I have committed sin. I do so every day. I look at a woman and desire her in my heart.... If I have lain with one woman and then I marry another, I cannot give all of my heart and all of myself to her because I have given it to another...because if I am with one woman and then marry another and I am with her, there will be moments when I will remember the other, and then I cannot give all of my heart and self to her..."
- Ian, March 14

"...The idea that God is a jealous God was a difficult concept for me too to accept. I mean the passage from Deuteronomy [6:15] "The Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God". But then I thought about it in light of my relationship with my girlfriend. She went to Alaska and was working with a Christian group there. I called her up and asked her how she was doing. She said she was having a great time. I got jealous. How could she be having a great time without me, without even missing me? Then I realized my jealousy was wrong. Why should I not want her to be happy whether we are together or apart? But God's love is different. God wants everyone to love Him and love for God is all. It is everything. Without love for God you have nothing, so He is right to command people to love Him..."
- Crockett, March 14

“...I have been thinking about this and it seems to me that the basis of all problems is the fear of the unknown.”
“Is not the underlying fear the fear of death?”
“Well, death is the unknown since people don’t know what happens after you die. That’s why they created religion. Religion began with worship of the sun because people didn’t understand what it was...”
- Jacob, March 30

"...The DMT trip is amazing and indescribable in words. It is as if everything in your life is laid bare and presented to you to examine, perhaps like what happens after death. DMT is the substance that trees use to communicate with each other and is released by the pineal gland at death.... I think people who die doing something they love die good deaths..."
- Nate, January 24

"...Do you think people should have their own thoughts?"
"I think they would be happier if they had more knowledge of self."
"Could that make them unhappy?.. Could it make them more lonely?.."
- Alyssa, February 1

"...Memories such as those could also be planted by aliens. I wonder if you could have a lucid dream and talk in the dream to the same entity many times. Could that entity plant memories? ..." 
- Bill, February 3

"...There are, by the way, magicians who perform tricks for other magicians. The oldest trick is the three cups and three balls. The way it works is that when you lift the cup to show the ball under it to the audience, when you cover it up again you actually scoop the ball into your hand with your pinky and all three balls end up under the cup in the middle. One magician showed the trick to Teller and pretended to take the ball into his hand with his pinky, and at the end of the trick he asked Teller where the balls were and Teller said they were under the middle cup. The magician then lifted up all the cups and there was a ball under each of them..."
- Austin, February 3

"...The idea [in Philip K. Dick's VADIS] is that there's a computer system that gains power over everyone and there are people who fight it using wisdom. I like the idea that power needs to be opposed by wisdom, although I don't completely understand what exactly is meant by the word wisdom..."
- Marty, February 3

"...I saw a guy show one thing he does: he goes into a diamond shop with white pieces of paper the same size as dollar bills. He picks out a diamond ring, talks with the shopkeeper and at some point in the conversation he says: 'And I tell my friend I don't have a car and ask if I should take the subway, and my friend says 'Take it, take it.'.', and as he's saying "take it" he hands the pieces of paper to the shopkeeper who puts them in the cash register and then he walks off with the ring. Sometimes he'll wait down the street to watch the shopkeeper come out and he'll wave to him. Later he of course goes back and gives back the ring..."
- Austin, February 23

"...I don't think a computer knows more than me because it's not alive. It's a repository of data and meta-data, but the knowledge it stores doesn't have any context.... Someone might try to say that the knowledge it stores contains more facts than I know, but knowledge plus experience equals wisdom, which is something a computer cannot have..."
- Seth, February 28

"...I see a stick in my dream but it is not composed of matter. But I could not conceive of the stick if I had not seen something material like it in the world. I would submit that we cannot conceive of anything if we have not seen something like it in the material world."
"What about nirvana?"
"What is nirvana?"
"It is when your heart almost stops beating and you don't feel your body. It is when everything that we usually think comprises life disappears, but we still exist."
"I think nirvana could be modeled mathematically. I would call nirvana the state a computer is in when it isn't doing anything. It is simply pinged so it knows it is on..."
- Patrick, February 28

"...I don't really understand what consciousness is and wouldn't know where to begin to describe what it is. I remember how strange it was in sixth grade when I learned what self-consciousness or awareness of self was. And then in seventh grade I lost my naivete. In tenth grade I became very cynical, and eleventh and twelfth grades I spent getting rid of the cynicism. And now I'm here..."
- Alyssa, February 28

"...But if a computer had sentience, which it doesn't, but if it did and fell in love, it too probably wouldn't be able to describe the feeling..."
- a guy, March 1

"...Could a computer have a will? Would we want it to have a will?"
"Do we want other people to have a will? People are competing. Even if you don't think you are, you're competing for resources and money and status..."
- a guy, March 1

"...An example of planting memories would be if I tell you that a black man just walked by over there and talk about him and describe him and make numerous references to him. Actually there was no black man, but you will have 'memories' later of having seen him. Another example is the pink elephant. If I tell you there's a pink elephant approaching you from behind, describe the elephant, talk about it, tell you that the elephant is now making sounds, that you hear its feet stomping on the ground, what you are focusing on while I am talking about all of this is that there is no elephant, there can't be one. But later, if someone asks you if you heard footsteps of an elephant on the Quad today, you will hesitate before giving your answer. Because you were so focused, while I was talking about the elephant, on denying to yourself its existence, the other information got past your filters and later if you try to recall what really happened, there is an element of doubt in your mind..."
- a guy, March 14

"...I disagree with the theory of rational choice, that all people always make rational decisions... That leads to their being forced to demand things they do not really need.... Demand can be manufactured."
"Do you agree that resources are limited and wants are unlimited?"
"I think some kinds of resources are limited, but others are not. As for people's wants, I believe people want things they don't really need. I think people are born with a basic curiosity, and if they act on and pursue their curiosity to try to learn more about things, they are able to approach the truth..." 
- Oleg, March 17

"...Why did you choose this particular message? If you wanted people to come up to you so that you could converse with them, you could have stood next to a blank sign..."
- Adam, January 19

"...What if there were TV cameras here filming because someone got shot and they filmed the sign ["THIS SIGN WILL NOT BE SHOWN ON TV"] accidentally, would they show it?"
"Here’s a question: why would someone be shot on the Quad?.."
- a girl, January 28

"...And he said: 'What if someone got shot on the Quad?', and I said: 'Why would someone get shot on the Quad?'..."
- the same girl, February 2

"...What would be something so offensive you couldn't show it?"
"I'm Jewish, so I suppose what would be very offensive to me would be "JEWS BURN IN OVENS"."
"What would you do if you saw me standing here with that sign?"
"I wouldn't come up to you and I wouldn't report you and I wouldn't think you should be arrested, but I think if they escorted you off campus that would be the right thing to do..." 
- Julian, February 2

"...I think probably many of them think the sign is part of an internet joke.... They probably think that when they come up someone will jump out from behind the bushes and laugh at them..."
- a girl, February 9

"...I have my [own] sign made and I'm ready to stand out with it."
"What does your sign say, if it's not a secret?"
"Your sign is good because you'll hear interesting things and it doesn't even matter if people lie."
"That's right. If they want to lie that's okay. It'd be a good exercise for their imagination..."
- Marty, February 14

"...The idea I had was, let's say I saw two people sitting on that bench over there doing something interesting and out of the ordinary. I would then photograph them, print out the photo and tape it to the bench so there would be a record of that having happened there....People could take the photos or leave them or whatever.... I can take a picture of you and put it on this tree so people remember you when you're gone..."
- Joe, February 24

"...How long have you been doing this [standing out with signs]?"
"Since the beginning of the quarter."
"From your tone of voice I thought you were going to say, 'Since the beginning of time'..."
- a girl from New York, March 2

"...What kind of reaction do you think I'd get if I stood out with a '9/11 TRUTH' sign? Do you think the police would come?"
"No. Everyone would just think you're crazy."
- Will, March 30

"...If someone told me they felt there was a direct threat [expressed by your sign] to their safety, in this day and age, I would have to take you to jail."
"But my intention is not to threaten anyone."
"That does not matter."
"Then you are saying that the interpretation of what I say is what takes precedence, not what I intend to say?"
"Yes, I am..."
- a university police officer, March 31

"...I was walking by this store the other day and someone was throwing away mannequin parts and I asked if I could have them; they gave them to me and I’ve been thinking about what to do with them. I know about people who dress up all in silver and paint their skin silver and who do mime-like movements, so I was thinking I could dress the mannequin up like them and put it outside somewhere and people would think it was a real person."
"What you could do is dress it up and have it holding a sign saying: ‘$1 MILLION TO THE PERSON WHO MAKES ME LAUGH WITHOUT TOUCHING ME.’ And then you could have a hidden camera film what they say and do."
"I think what I’ll do is post about the mannequin on and see what ideas I get there..."
Will, March 31


"...Is it not possible to do something you get pleasure from and also be altruistic at the same time?"
"I believe it is. But the fact that I dislike doing something is a good way of knowing what I'm doing is right..."
- David, January 3

"...I just got kicked off Red Square by the police for skateboarding there."
"Did they give you a ticket?"
"No, but they wanted to confiscate my skateboard."
"Did you tell them you didn't know you weren't allowed to skateboard there?"
"Did you actually know you weren't allowed?"
[hesitates before answering] "Yes..."
- Joe, January 27

"...Could you with your martial arts skills take any of the bullies [on Bully Beatdown]?"
"If they're not a lot bigger than me and if i can get them on the ground I could probably beat them..."
- a guy, January 28

"...People who are lying to themselves cannot be made to see through facts or logic. Like if you think you're good at basketball but you lose a game, you blame your loss on poor-fitting shoes..."
- a girl, January 31

"...You can't yell "Fire" in a crowded theater even if you intend it to be a call for peace. There is a context that has to be considered..."
- Jeff, February 1

"...When my brother and I were younger we used to think about ways to get around the limitations of the speed of light. We had the idea of making a rod that could be stretched from here to another planet which would allow one person pushing on one end to be perceived by the person standing at the other end on the other planet, and thus we'd have faster-than-light transmission of information..."
- Bradley, February 2

"...I think love shouldn't be something you get high on. Then people would fall in love just to feel the high from it ..."
- a girl, February 2

"...My dad is a typical type-A person. My mom doesn't work. When she had my older sister she began staying at home. Now she's gone back to school to qualify as a nurse, so my dad is the primary breadwinner and has to work very hard to provide us with what he thinks we need. He gets very stressed and is not happy. He'd be very disappointed if I didn't pursue something that led to making money, but I don't need to have all the things money buys..."
- Dominick, February 3

"...My girlfriend and I asked what the point of life is. I said it was for making connections with people; she said it was for attaining truth. I said making connections was a form of truth....I think we will see a holocaust, I mean, an armageddon in our lifetime..."
- Andrew, February 14

"...Old-school mechanics, "gear-heads", take a stethoscope, press it against an engine, listen and know what's wrong with the car. The younger mechanics just hook up a computer and diagnose problems that way. I even know a guy from Armenia, where they don't really have technology, who makes his own parts on a lathe if he can't buy them.... It's like agriculture. With all our academics and technological sophistication, there are things about growing things we know less about than people in the Third World who have thousands of years of tradition..."
- Daniel, February 28

"...I wanted to object but don't have a good argument and I think it is not good to object unless you have something to say..."
- Eleanor, February 28

"...I remember when I was young I used to look in the mirror and try to decide which way to part my hair. But when I parted it to the left, other people saw it as being parted to the right."
"So how did you resolve the issue for yourself?"
"I started looking at photographs [of myself]..."
- a guy, March 29

"...I've been curious how things go viral. Why do some videos become really popular, like those of an animal doing something funny, and others don't?"
"Do you think maybe they appear at a time when nothing else is going on and so people watch them?"
"Or maybe it's a time when a lot of serious, depressing things are happening and people want a distraction. I think maybe people who make the videos just get lucky and just the right person sees them and sends them to just the right people."
"Do you think maybe someone is manipulating things so that certain videos become popular?"
"I don't know..."
- Christa, March 29

"...What kind of reaction do you think I'd get if I stood out with a '9/11 TRUTH' sign? Do you think the police would come?"
"No. Everyone would just think you're crazy."
- Will, March 30

"...I had a friend who told me he met Bill Murray. He said he was standing in line to get into a movie and was eating some French fires when he notices that the guy behind him in line took some out of the box and is eating them. He turns around and it’s Bill Murray, who says to him: ‘Nobody will ever believe you.’..."
Will, March 31

"...Art means many interpretations and for good art you need to do away with the ego. I don't know what you think, but I think our society is fucked up. And the problem is the ego. People go to the war because someone thinks their ego has been offended in some way..."
- an Australian guy, March 31