We’ve sourced some of the most interesting and thought-provoking Virginia Postrel Quotes. Each of the following quotes is overflowing with creativity, and knowledge.
Medicare is immune from the competitive pressures that force private insurers to pay attention to what patients and doctors want.
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.
When Baby Boomer women started choosing hotel-like birthing centers over hospital delivery rooms, hospitals quickly wised up. Now even rural hospitals offer well-designed labor-delivery-recovery suites.
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.
‘Frankenstein’ did not invent the fear of science; the novel found its audience because it dramatized anxieties that already existed. Although popular entertainment can, over the long run, shape public perceptions, it becomes popular in the first place only if it addresses preexisting hopes, fears, and fascinations.
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.
The low point for neon came in 1982, when Holiday Inn did away with its signature ‘Great Sign,’ replacing the neon extravaganza with a forgettable green plastic box.
The Y2K bug is a genuine technical concern, consuming the energies of many specialists. But the prophecies of doom represent a broader worldview using the bug as a news hook. In this vision, the good society is a stable society, undisrupted by innovation, ambition or outside influences.
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.
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?
The innovative process is a fragile one, dependent on a complex, often messy interplay of imagination, competition, and exchange. Curbing new ideas hurts not only individual creators but the audience for which they create and the posterity that inherits their legacy.
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.
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.
With its fluctuating forms and needless decoration, fashion epitomizes the supposedly unproductive waste that inspired 20th-century technocrats to dream of central planning. It exists for no good reason. But that’s practically a definition of art.
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.
Even before Sputnik, scientists and policy makers worried that not enough Americans were studying science.
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.
In ‘The Future and Its Enemies,’ I argue that individual creativity and enterprise are not only personally satisfying but socially good, producing progress and happiness. For celebrating creativity and happiness, I have been called a fascist by critics on both coasts.
A standard ‘well woman’ checkup can last as little as 10 minutes, hardly time for any in-depth discussions.
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.
Chains do more than bargain down prices from suppliers or divide fixed costs across a lot of units. They rapidly spread economic discovery – the scarce and costly knowledge of what retail concepts and operational innovations actually work.
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.
Surprise drives progress because innovation depends on the sort of knowledge no one can gather in a central place.
Storage problems make neon signs the most ephemeral of commercial arts.
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.
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.
Y2K hype taps our native discomfort with the realities of a dynamic, evolving social order. It elevates personal, local contact over the impersonality of the ‘extended order’ of trade and technological networks. It suggests that we can wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.
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.
Wars without military objectives have a tendency to go on forever.
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.
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.
We are material creatures who spend much of our lives on material pursuits (even building a cathedral or writing a novel requires stone and mortar or paper and ink).
Before it became a ubiquitous part of urban life, Starbucks was, in most American cities, a radically new idea.
Bill Clinton has done some incredibly reckless, irresponsible things as president. But his campaign to expand Medicare entitlements has to rank among the worst.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Grassroots techies – the mostly unknown people who write code and start companies that don’t make the headlines – hate, loathe, and despise Microsoft. At technology conferences, it is the devil, or the guaranteed laugh line. Its products are mocked, its business practices booed.
The Elgin Marbles were supposed to be on the Parthenon. For many works of art, a museum is an artificial setting – a zoo, not a natural habitat.
The intimate contest for self-command never ends, and lifetime happiness requires finding the right balance between present impulses and future well-being.
Just as producers often give consumers things they want but didn’t think to ask for, consumers sometimes come up with surprising uses for new inventions. When a new product appears, it can uncover dissatisfactions and desires no one knew were there.
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.
Loft living is the antithesis of suburban domesticity, if only because the open spaces don’t easily accommodate family life. Lofts also offer residents the opportunity – and responsibility – to structure their own space to reflect what’s important to them.
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.
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.
The evergreen story of people in debt becomes even sexier in an economic downturn, when debts inevitably get harder to pay.
The history of the Internet is not, as some people have tried to make it, a libertarian just-so story. It is a messy tale in which the government played a significant role. That role was, however, far more subtle than the plans of industrial policy gurus or techno-boosting politicians.
Science is about exploring the unknown and cannot offer guarantees.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More than two decades after the birth of Louise Brown, and all the hysteria that surrounded her ‘test tube’ conception, we should know that institutions, not technologies, create dystopias. Artificially conceived children are everywhere, beloved by their parents, and they haven’t radically altered our world.
Dialysis does not make patients well. It simply postpones their deaths.
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?
As discomfiting as it is to both market optimists and policy activists, a certain amount of instability is inherent to the economy.
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.
Many different relationships among patients, doctors, and drugs are possible and desirable. As in so many other areas of life, the Internet encourages experimentation. Questionnaire-based pharmacies operate between the traditional prescription and over-the-counter models.
Clothes are unique sculptures, dependent on a supporting human form and created to move.
The common intuition is that e-books should be cheap because they aren’t physical – no printing, no shipping.
The Taliban outlawed wearing polish in the late 1990s, punishing some offenders by amputating a fingertip. Importing polish was banned only in July 2001, which suggests that women were still wearing painted nails within the safety of their homes.
The biggest threat to a better life is the desire to keep the future under control – to make the world predictable by reining in creativity and enterprise. Progress as a neat blueprint, with no deviations and no surprise, may work in children’s cartoons or utopian novels. But it’s just a fantasy.
The definition of an ‘operating system’ is bound to evolve with customer demands and technological possibilities.
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.
From the days of biplanes and silk scarves, the aviator has been the archetype of masculine glamour. Aviators have personified national ideals, from French elan to Soviet party discipline. They’ve inspired lust and admiration. They’ve turned sunglasses and short, utilitarian leather jackets into fashion statements.
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.
Neon signs don’t consume much power, but they look like they do. A cousin of fluorescent lighting, neon is actually quite energy efficient. A neon tube glows coolly when high-voltage, low-amperage electrical power excites the gas within it.
Standardized sizes made inexpensive, off-the-rack garments economically feasible. They gave shoppers a reliable guide to finding clothes in self-service shops.
The whole point of movie glamour was – and is – escape.