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Virginia Postrel Quotes:

The SAT is not perfect. We all know smart, knowledgeable people who do badly on standardized tests. But neither is it useless. SAT scores do measure both specific knowledge and valuable thinking skills.

Virginia Postrel

Persuasion has become a kind of force. The more the advertiser knows about what consumers want, and the more desires the product and packaging seek to fulfill, the more coercive the force.

Virginia Postrel

Cosmetics makers have always sold ‘hope in a jar’ – creams and potions that promise youth, beauty, sex appeal, and even love for the women who use them.

Virginia Postrel

Glamour is a beautiful illusion – the word ‘glamour’ originally meant a literal magic spell – that promises to transcend ordinary life and make the ideal real. It depends on a special combination of mystery and grace. Too much information breaks the spell.

Virginia Postrel

America is a mosaic not of groups but of individuals, each of whom carries a host of cultural influences, some chosen, some inherited, some absorbed by osmosis. That mosaic is held together by the pursuit of happiness, the most powerful mortar ever conceived. Left alone, it will long endure.

Virginia Postrel

We know beauty when we see it, and our reactions are remarkably consistent. Beauty is not just a social construct, and not every girl is beautiful just the way she is.

Virginia Postrel

The impulse for personal adornment is hard to stamp out.

Virginia Postrel
Virginia Postrel
Source: The Elements of Writing

The definition of an ‘operating system’ is bound to evolve with customer demands and technological possibilities.

Virginia Postrel

Rich people in poor places want to show off their wealth. And their less affluent counterparts feel pressure to fake it, at least in public. Nobody wants the stigma of being thought poor.

Virginia Postrel

Religion, art, and science flourish best in a free society. True, freedom does not afford much opportunity for grand gestures. It has little room for martyrs. But life is not supposed to be about dying well. It is about living well.

Virginia Postrel

The Dallas model, prominent in the South and Southwest, sees a growing population as a sign of urban health. Cities liberally permit housing construction to accommodate new residents. The Los Angeles model, common on the West Coast and in the Northeast Corridor, discourages growth by limiting new housing.

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Cable companies aren’t bad because they’re parts of unwieldy media conglomerates. They’re bad because they’re monopolies (even where they are no longer legally exclusive) and because the government policies that made them monopolies rewarded lobbying over customer service.

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Abundant choice doesn’t force us to look for the absolute best of everything. It allows us to find the extremes in those things we really care about, whether that means great coffee, jeans cut wide across the hips, or a spouse who shares your zeal for mountaineering, Zen meditation, and science fiction.

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A lot of consumers actively enjoy advertising, especially fashion print ads and clever TV commercials. The nostalgic cable channel TVLand features not only vintage shows but also vintage commercials.

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Unlike painting, sculpture, or music, typefaces must be useful to someone. Fortunately for designers, the digital age has produced new problems to solve – developing typefaces that work on mobile phones, for one – and enabled better solutions to old problems.

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Apocalyptic fiction, while ultimately about God’s purposes, usually portrays an immediate, human world of competing conspiracies. Whatever happens is orchestrated, coordinated and planned in advance.

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Like the rest of the genetic lottery, beauty is unfair. Everyone falls short of perfection, but some are luckier than others. Real confidence requires self-knowledge, which includes recognizing one’s shortcomings as well as one’s strengths.

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The intimate contest for self-command never ends, and lifetime happiness requires finding the right balance between present impulses and future well-being.

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European nations began World War I with a glamorous vision of war, only to be psychologically shattered by the realities of the trenches. The experience changed the way people referred to the glamour of battle; they treated it no longer as a positive quality but as a dangerous illusion.

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Like the skyscraper, the automobile, and the motion-picture palace, neon signs once symbolized popular hopes for a new era of technological achievement and commercial abundance. From the 1920s to the 1950s, neon-lit streets pulsed with visual excitement from Vancouver to Miami.

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By reshaping or decorating our outer selves, we express our inner sense of self: ‘I like that’ becomes ‘I’m like that.’

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In Shakespeare’s world, characters cannot trust their senses. Is the ghost in Hamlet true and truthful, or is it a demon, tempting young Hamlet into murderous sin? Is Juliet dead or merely sleeping? Does Lear really stand at the edge of a great cliff? Or has the Fool deceived him to save his life?

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Glamour is an imaginative process that creates a specific emotional response: a sharp mixture of projection, longing, admiration, and aspiration. It evokes an audience’s hopes and dreams and makes them seem attainable, all the while maintaining enough distance to sustain the fantasy.

Virginia Postrel

The profusion of fonts is one more product of the digital revolution. Beginning in the mid-’80s and accelerating in the 1990s, type design weathered the sort of radical, technology-driven transformation that other creative industries, including music, publishing, and movies, now face.

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Society needs both parents and nonparents, both the work party and the home party. While raising children is the most important work most people will do, not everyone is cut out for parenthood. And, as many a childless teacher has proved, raising kids is not the only important contribution a person can make to their future.

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Scientists appear most often in horror movies. Through childlike curiosity or God-defying hubris, they unleash destructive forces they can’t control – ‘Forbidden Planet’s Monsters of the Id.

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Glamour invites us to live in a different world. It has to simultaneously be mysterious, a little bit distant – that’s why, often in these glamour shots, the person is not looking at the audience, it’s why sunglasses are glamorous – but also not so far above us that we can’t identify with the person.

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Glamour is all about transcending this world and getting to an idealized, perfect place. And this is one reason that modes of transportation tend to be extremely glamorous. The less experience we have with them, the more glamorous they are. So you can do a glamorized picture of a car, but you can’t do a glamorized picture of traffic.

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‘The Matrix’ is a movie that is all about glamour. I could do a whole talk on ‘The Matrix’ and glamour. It was criticized for glamorizing violence, because, look – sunglasses and those long coats, and, of course, they could walk up walls and do all these kinds of things that are impossible in the real world.

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I think glamour has a genuine appeal, has a genuine value. I’m not against glamour. But there’s a kind of wonder in the stuff that gets edited away in the cords of life.

Virginia Postrel

The common intuition is that e-books should be cheap because they aren’t physical – no printing, no shipping.

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Apple doesn’t need to maximize book sales. It simply needs to keep publishers happy enough to maintain an impressive-sounding inventory of titles while waiting for entirely new forms of publishing to develop.

Virginia Postrel

Dialysis does not make patients well. It simply postpones their deaths.

VIRGINIA POSTREL

Living with a single kidney is almost exactly like living with two; the remaining kidney expands to take up the slack. (When kidneys fail, they generally fail together; barring trauma or cancer, there’s not much advantage to a backup.) The main risk to the donor is the risk of any surgery.

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Kidney donors don’t have to be close relatives of recipients, but they do need to have the right blood type. And kidneys from living donors tend to last many years longer than kidneys from deceased donors.

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Kidney disease is a low-profile, unglamorous problem, a disease that disproportionately strikes minorities and the poor. Its celebrity spokesman is blue-collar comedian George Lopez, who received a kidney from his wife.

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Like Disneyland, luxury retailers have long had to figure out how to overcome customers’ natural inertia. Unlike less pricey stores, they tend not to attract idle browsers who make impulse purchases.

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We know we need bosses and deadlines to help us get work done. But sometimes we can also use an external push to make us have a good time. In both cases, our future self will appreciate the help.

Virginia Postrel

As a general rule, durable-goods production tends to be the most volatile sector of the economy. Since people usually have a stock of durables in use, when times get tight, they put off new purchases. What seem like small cutbacks to the end buyer translate into big swings for the producer.

Virginia Postrel

As discomfiting as it is to both market optimists and policy activists, a certain amount of instability is inherent to the economy.

Virginia Postrel

The growth of medical expenditures in the U.S. is not caused by administrative costs but by increases in the technical intensity of care over time – a.k.a. medical progress.

Virginia Postrel

In mid-July 2007, after a routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As cancer diagnoses go, mine wasn’t particularly scary. The affected area was small, and the surgeon seemed to think that a lumpectomy followed by radiation would eradicate the cancerous tissue.

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The evergreen story of people in debt becomes even sexier in an economic downturn, when debts inevitably get harder to pay.

Virginia Postrel

If you default on your Visa bill, nobody comes to repossess your refrigerator or auction off your shoes. The biggest penalty you’ll face is trouble getting future credit.

VIRGINIA POSTREL

As borrowers, we may feel guilty about running up debt, anxious about making payments, and resentful of the constraints that old obligations (and old credit records) impose on our current choices. We may find it too easy to buy things we may later regret.

Virginia Postrel

When credit is cheaper to use and easier to arrange, people do use more of it.

Virginia Postrel

In a media culture, we not only judge strangers by how they look but by the images of how they look. So we want attractive pictures of our heroes and repulsive images of our enemies.

Virginia Postrel

Barack Obama has brought glamour back to American politics – not the faux glamour-by-association of campaigning with movie stars or sailing with the Kennedys, but the real thing. The candidate himself is glamorous. Audiences project onto him the personal qualities and political positions they want in a president.

Virginia Postrel

In post-Vietnam, post-Watergate America, skeptical voters demand full disclosure of everything from candidates’ finances to their medical records, and spin-savvy accounts of backstage machinations dominate political coverage.

Virginia Postrel

Like John Kennedy in 1960, Obama combines youth, vigor, and good looks with the promise of political change. Like Kennedy, he grew up in unusual circumstances that distance him from ordinary American life.

Virginia Postrel

Who is Virginia Postrel?

Virginia Inman Postrel is a broadly libertarian or a classical liberal American political and cultural writer. She is a Bastiat Award recipient.