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Quotes of the day: Sarah Vowell

Published Friday, December 27, 2013 @ 5:10 AM EST
Dec 27 2013

Sarah Jane Vowell (b. December 27, 1969) is an American author, journalist, essayist and social commentator. Often referred to as a "social observer," Vowell has written six nonfiction books on American history and culture. She was a contributing editor for the radio program This American Life on Public Radio International from 1996–2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program's live shows. She was also the voice of Violet in the animated film The Incredibles. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Along with voting, jury duty, and paying taxes, goofing off is one of the central obligations of American citizenship.

Behind every bad law, a deep fear.

Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know.

Being up in the middle of the night is kind of nice actually. It's quiet and dark and the phone doesn't ring. You can listen to records and weirder movies are on TV. I've never known another life and now I'm not sure I want to.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer's high school was built on top of a vortex of evil, the Hellmouth. And whose wasn't?

Except for the people who were there that one day they discovered the polio vaccine, being part of history is rarely a good idea. History is one war after another with a bunch of murders and natural disasters in between.

From New England's Puritans we inherited the idea that America is blessed and ordained by God above all nations, but lost the fear of wrath and retribution.

Going to Ford's Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food.

I fear that the consumer who buys a Confederate flag coffee cup, which she will then put on her American flag place mat, is the sort of sophisticated thinker who is open-minded enough that she is capable of hating blacks and Arabs at the same time.

I guess if I had to pick a spiritual figurehead to possess the deed to the entirety of Earth, I'd go with Buddha, but only because he wouldn't want it.

I revere the Bill of Rights, but at the same time I believe that anyone who's using three or more of them at a time is hogging them too much.

I was enjoying a chocolatey cafe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle's Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.

Like Lincoln, I would like to believe the ballot is stronger than the bullet. Then again, he said that before he got shot.

My lips are chapped from the winds of change.

My motto is Sine coffea nihil sum. Without coffee, I'm nothing.

Never underestimate the corrective lens that is sentimentality.

So much of broadcasting hasn't really noticed that Watergate happened, that no one takes the voice of authority seriously anymore.

Some afternoons a person just wants to rent Die Hard, close the curtains, and have Cheerios for lunch.

The internet is the nerd Israel, a place to speak and listen to spectacularly specific concerns.

The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief. And by dangerous I don't mean thought-provoking. I mean: might get people killed.

The true American patriot is by definition skeptical of the government.

There's nothing more depressing than bad capitalism.

We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left.

What are you hiding? No one ever asks that.

What we need is a president who is at least twelve kinds of nerd, a nerd messiah to come along every four years, acquire the Secret Service code name Poindexter, install a Revenge of the Nerds screen saver on the Oval Office computer, and one by one decrypt our woes.

When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife: Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance.

When someone asks if I'm the black sheep of the family I always say no, we're all black sheep.

While I am obsessed with death, I am against it.

While I gave up God a long time ago, I never shook the habit of wanting to believe in something. So I replaced my creed of everlasting life with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Categories: Quotes of the day, Sarah Vowell


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