Top 52 Quotes of Virginia Postrel

What makes a loft authentic isn’t its layout or its history but its ability to give people a true home – a dwelling that reflects their personalities and aspirations, including their dreams of urbanity.

Virginia Postrel

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

Wars without military objectives have a tendency to go on forever.

Virginia Postrel

Through the 1990s, ‘Reason’ was a voice of ‘dissident feminism,’ upholding the equal dignity of both sexes and supporting the rights of individuals against a government that had gone mad over sexual harassment.

Virginia Postrel

Though designed as a mere convenience, clothing sizes establish an unintended norm, an ideal from which deviations seem like flaws. There’s nothing like a trip to the dressing room to convince a woman – fat, thin, or in between – that she’s a freak.

Virginia Postrel

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

‘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.

Virginia Postrel

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

Virginia Postrel

The Internet ethos of diversity and competition runs exactly counter to uniform, gatekeeper-oriented medical culture – the technocratic philosophy of the ‘one best way’ embodied in our pharmaceutical regulations. On the Net, medical information is abundant, and pharmacies, domestic and foreign, operate on many different models.

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

The glamour of air travel – its aspirational meaning in the public imagination – disappeared before its luxury did, dissipating as flying gradually became commonplace.

Virginia Postrel

The elements that create glamour are not specific styles – bias-cut gowns or lacquered furniture – but more general qualities: grace, mystery, transcendence. To the right audience, Halle Berry is more glamorous commanding the elements as Storm in the X-Men movies than she is walking the red carpet in a designer gown.

Virginia Postrel

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

Virginia Postrel

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

Virginia Postrel

The children who are ‘our future’ will inherit a world created not just by parental devotion but by the sort of zealous, focused endeavors that can preclude good parenting.

Virginia Postrel

Storage problems make neon signs the most ephemeral of commercial arts.

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel

Science is about exploring the unknown and cannot offer guarantees.

Virginia Postrel

Rising living standards – whether in a village, a region, a nation, or the world – depend first on specialization: on letting people concentrate on what they do best and trade with others who specialize in other things.

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

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

Our demand for good looks, expressed in the biting comments that ensue when public figures fall short of perfection, puts enormous pressures on these individuals and may screen out the otherwise qualified. If video killed the radio star, it may also be doing away with the homely politician.

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.

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel

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.

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.

Virginia Postrel

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

Glamour is not something you possess but something you perceive, not something you have but something you feel. It is a subjective response to a stimulus.

Virginia Postrel

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.

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

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.

Virginia Postrel

For designers, the rigidity of an alphabet presents a never-ending artistic challenge: How do you do something new and still preserve the letters’ essential forms?

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel

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

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

Clothing creates the illusion that bodies fit an aesthetically pleasing norm. And that illusion depends on getting the fit right. Garments that bunch, pull, or sag call attention to figure flaws and often make people look worse than they would without clothes.

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel

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

Virginia Postrel

Bill Clinton has done some incredibly reckless, irresponsible things as president. But his campaign to expand Medicare entitlements has to rank among the worst.

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

Average Americans order nonfat decaf iced vanilla lattes at Starbucks and choose from 1,500 drawer pulls at The Great Indoors. Amazon gives every town a bookstore with 2 million titles, while Netflix promises 35,000 different movies on DVD. Choice is everywhere – liberating to some, but to others, a new source of stress.

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

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

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

Americans hate their cable companies – for bumbling installers, on-again-off-again transmissions, peculiar channel selections, and indifferent customer service. The only thing cable subscribers hate more than the cable company is not being able to get what it delivers: multichannel selection and good reception.

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

Airline glamour never promised anything as mundane as elbow room, much less a flat bed, a massage, or an arugula salad. It promised a better world. Service and dress reflected the more formal era, but no one expected air travel to be comfortable. It was amazing just to have hot food above the clouds.

Virginia Postrel

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.

Virginia Postrel