Nothing "Is What It Is"

Question: Which will come first, the completion of the Second Avenue Subway or the next Mets World Series victory?

Christine Quinn:  Well I can’t actually answer that question honestly because my father is 84, and he remembers the day his mother sent him and his brother out of the apartment to go watch the men who were going to build them a new subway.  And he has claimed he is not going to die until he gets to ride the Second Avenue Subway.  So, I might, you know, I have a slightly skewed allegiance as it relates to the finishing of the Second Avenue Subway. 

Question: What idea has most inspired you?

Christine Quinn:  You know, when I was a kid, I read every biography in my school library about a political leader or a famous woman.  And the idea in all of those books were that you could change things was that, you know, everyone uses this phrase nowadays, “it is what it is.”  I hate that phrase.  Nothing "is what it is." Things can always change to what we want them to be and to be better.  And as a kid that’s the idea I got out of those books.  That people can change things and people can make situations that aren’t good, better.  And to me that is the only real idea that matters.

Question: Who is the greatest or most inspiring New Yorker of all time? 

Christine Quinn: Probably the greatest or most inspiring New Yorker of all time would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  His wife a close second.

Recorded on October 28, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont

Directed & Produced by Jonathan Fowler

Speaker Quinn is most inspired by the idea that individuals can make a difference.

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.

Ultracold gas exhibits bizarre quantum behavior

New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.

Credit: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Experiments on an ultracold gas show strange quantum behavior.
  • The observations point to applications in quantum computing.
  • The find may also advance chaos theory and explain the butterfly effect.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

    Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.

    Big Think LIVE

    Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.

    Keep reading Show less

    3 cognitive biases perpetuating racism at work — and how to overcome them

    Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."

    Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
    Personal Growth

    Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.

    Keep reading Show less

    A new minimoon is headed towards Earth, and it’s not natural

    Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.

    Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Paitoon Pornsuksomboon/Shutterstock/Big Think
    Surprising Science
  • Small objects such as asteroids get trapped for a time in Earth orbit, becoming "minimoons."
  • Minimoons are typically asteroids, but this one is something else.
  • The new minimoon may be part of an old rocket from the 1960s.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

    Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.

    Photo: Lightspring / Shutterstock
    Mind & Brain
    • A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
    • Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
    • An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast