Quotations

These are various bits and pieces that I have enjoyed, learnt from or laughed at.....


As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, 1920

 
Politeness is an avowedly false coin, with which it is foolish to be stingy.
Schopenhauer


All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why. 
James Thurber 


Thatcher wanted a society of people like her father, but produced a society of people like her son.
Eliza Filby


I don't consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain - and I feel soaked to the skin.
Leonard Cohen 


We ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
Thornton Wilder: The Bridge of St Luis Re


Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen: Anthem


George Michael gave an interview in 1990 confessing that fame made him 'miserable'. Frank Sinatra wasn't having any of it....
When I saw your cover  today about George Michael, "reluctant popstar,'' my reaction was he should thank the good lord every morning when he wakes up to have all that he has. And that will make two of us thanking God every morning for all that we have.
I don't understand a guy who lives "in hopes of reducing the strain of his celebrity status." Here is a kid who "wanted to be a popstar since I was about seven years old". And now that he is a smash performer and songwriter at 27 he wants to quit doing what tons of gifted youngsters all over the world would shoot grandma for – just one crack at what he's complaining about.
Come on George, loosen up. Swing, man. Dust off those gossamer wings and fly yourself to the moon of your choice, be grateful to carry the baggage we've all had to carry since those lean nights of sleeping on buses and helping the driver unload the instruments.
No more of that talk about the tragedy of fame. The tragedy of fame is when no one shows up and and you're singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint that hasn't seen a paying customer since since St Swithan's Day. And you're nowhere near that; the top dog on the top rung of the tall ladder called Stardom, which in Latin means thanks-to-the-fans who were there when it was lonely.


What is life? It is the flash of the firefly in the night. It is the breath of the buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow, which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfoot Nation


A book is your greatest friend and will be there through death, divorce and desperation. A book lies on the pillow next to you without snoring. It's something on which I often reflect from the spare room.
Gyles Brandreth


My father road a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel.
Saudi Aphorism


The blunt truth, however, is that the implicit intergenerational cooperation that represents the best outcome is supported by trust, not money. If the younger generation decides not to support the elder, the existence of tokens will make no difference. And if the older generation has invested in, say, housing, they too could renege on the implicit intergenerational transfer by ‘consuming’ the value of their housing capital by selling it to foreigners or a minority of the wealthy, leaving the young unable to afford to buy the housing stock. That is exactly the intergenerational bargain on which, David Willetts argues, the post-war baby-boomer generation has reneged. Trust obviates the need for money, and money without trust has no value. Perhaps it is trust that makes the world go round.
Mervyn King: The End of Alchemy 


America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
De Tocqueville 


A condescending English foreman decides to test the intelligence of an Irish builder.
''What's the difference between a girder and a joist?"
"Girder wrote Faust and Joist wrote Ulysses."


Dance scene from Stormy Weather 1941
https://youtu.be/https://youtu.be/zBb9hTyLjfM


The opposite of love is not hatred, it is indifference.
Elie Wiesel


Our promises....were a series of possibilities.
Iain Duncan Smith 


She's the sort of woman who lives for others - you can always tell the others by their haunted expression.
CS Lewis 


Why it was fun to be Leonard Cohen... 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps7ECO0MxJ0
A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.
Bishop Joseph Hall in the 17th century


Twin miracles of mascara, her eyes looked like the corpses of two small crows that had crashed into a chalk cliff. 
Clive James describing Barbara Cartland 


A developed country is not a place where poor people have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation.
Enrique Penalosa, mayor of Bogota 


I had terrible angina while having sex. I didn't know whether I was coming or going.
Dudley Moore 


A fanatic is someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
Churchill


At my back I always hear 
Time's winged chariot hurrying near 
Andrew Marvell - translated as
Better get your arse in gear
Before you need a Zimmer, dear


Democracy is a system that relies on the wisdom of people to know that they don't know everything.
Camus


Meadowfied:  somewhere between cowed and sheepish 


Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back into the same box. 
Italian Proverb 


I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused. 
Graham Greene: The Quiet American 


I am not an economist but I've come to the conclusion that central banks collectively have now indeed lost the plot. The whole point of their independence was that they could be brave enough to make people confront reality. Yet in reality they are blowing up a bubble of make-believe money to avoid immediate pain, except for penalising the poor and prudent… I have bad news for them. The accumulating effects of loose monetary policy globally are intensely political. When pension funds renege on promises, or inequality widens further, or savers become desperate, huge public and political anger is going to burst over the heads of the world's central banks.
William Hague

Advertising is based on one thing. Happiness. You want to know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance. Whatever you are doing, it's ok. You are ok.
Don Draper: Mad Men 


We are entirely made up of bits and pieces, woven together so diversely and so shapelessly that each one of them pulls its own way at every moment. And there is as much difference between us and ourselves as there is between us and other people.
Montaigne


The endless cycle of idea and action, 
Endless invention, endless experiment, 
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness; 
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence; 
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? 
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? 
T.S. Eliot, The Rock, 1934


When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken. 
Disraeli 


Three things are necessary for government: weapons, food and trust. If a ruler cannot hold on to all three, he should give up weapons first and food next. Trust should be guarded to the end: without trust we cannot stand.
Confucius 


Grief is is an iceberg of a word concealing beneath its innocent simplicity a dangerous mass of 
confusion and rage. Bereavement follows stages and if a cycle can be identified within these stages then the comfort found in reaching the final stage is often dashed with realisation that circles have no ending.
Juliet Nicolson: The Great Silence


The trouble with socialism is that there aren't enough evenings in the week.
Oscar Wilde


In a year where liberal democratic values have been challenged and questioned, I re-read a blog I wrote in 2012 on Jonathan Heidt's The Righteous Mind, a book that had some interesting observations on the cultural clash that has come home to roost in 2016
David Goodhart was the founder of Prospect and is now an editor at large. His review of Jonathan Haidt's new book The Righteous Mind starts with a vignette of a party that he attended during the dog-days of the Brown government. The party was of the bien pensents of the left who were all deprecating the Prime Minister's speech which had spoken of 'British jobs for British people' - not, it is important to note, 'British jobs for white people'. Goodhart was greatly struck by this as a 'liberal' himself. It occurred to him that if he had asked 90% of the people on the street outside about Brown's speech none would have thought it exceptional - and agreed with the sentiment. What it made him realise was that the people in the room were the 'odd' ones. They, in Haidt's acronym, were WEIRD - western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic. They were a relatively small, but highly influential, subset of the population that saw the world in a rather limited, but certainly not bad, way that had difficulty understanding the mindset of the 'conservative' - note the small 'c'.
       Haidt is a moral psychologist who studies why we, as humans do they things we do as a group. Morality, he posits, makes groups outside kinship possible - a unique thing in the animal kingdom. He studies how we operate mentally, particularly the balance between intuition and intellect, concluding that we primarily think intuitively - and then engage our intellect to justify that intuition. 
       He believes that the WEIRD's view of the world and morality is formed around 'harm' and 'rights'. If anyone is harmed by someone else that is, ipso facto, wrong and everyone has certain rights. Note that these are all supranational ideas: the job or the wellbeing of someone in Sierra Leone is as important as someone in Glasgow. The logic of this is that if you don't harm anyone, or interfere with their rights, then anything goes. 
        He goes on to ask whether this is a rather limited view of morality. What, he asks of loyalty to smaller groups - patriotism or a sense of the sacred, religion or the flag, or authority? These are dismissed by the WEIRD as relics - but have great resonance with 'conservatives'. What is wrong with having a crucifix in an art gallery covered in feces? No one is harmed and no one's rights have been impinged the 'liberal' would say. The artist has the 'right' to make this statement and no person has suffered 'harm'. This logic is fine until you conceive of a statue of Martin Luther King covered in excrement - when the worm turns.
       The point that Haidt makes, as a 'liberal' himself, is that the WEIRD only hear the world in a limited register of harm and rights and fail to hear the extended register of 'conservatives' who have a sense of the sacred and loyalty to smaller groups and a ingrained respect for tradition and authority. Neither is right - in the sense of correct - but this deafness is the cause of much misunderstanding and inability to conceive of another point of view. The WEIRD have won the cultural argument over the past half-century - but their dominance may be ending unless they hear, even if they don't share, the others' point of view.


Life starts with everyone clapping when you take a poo - and goes downhill from there.
Sloane Crosley


One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent. 
Napoleon 


Just as the 19th century created the working class, the coming century will create the useless class. Billions of people are likely to have no military or economic function. Providing food and shelter should be possible, but how to give meaning to their lives will be the huge political question.
Yuval Noah Harari 


To die in wisdom having lived in folly.
The epitaph of Don Quixote


Better they wonder why you do not speak, than wonder why you do.
Disraeli 
 

Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies. Leave men free and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire. To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917.
Will and Ariel Durant

Labour is still fumbling with its flies while the Tories are enjoying their post-coital cigarette after withdrawing our massive Johnson.
Ruth Davidson on the Tory leadership contest


Glenn Close? That's an address, not a name.
Maggie Smith


If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned  these alone.”
Epictetus 


For Van Gogh nature was something exquisite and terrible. It consoled him but it was his judge. It was the fingerprint of God, but the finger was always pointed at him.
Robert Hughes 


At a young age, a Quaker friend told Ben Franklin a few harsh truths: 
"Ben, you are impossible. Your opinions have a slap in them for everyone who differs with you. They have become so offensive that nobody cares for them... You know so much that no man can tell you anything. Indeed, no man is going to try...So you are not likely ever to know any more than you do now, which is very little.''
Franklin realized the truth of this and changed abruptly. As he wrote: 
"I made it a rule, to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiment of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade myself the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a x’d opinion, such as “certainly,” “undoubtedly,” etc., and I adopted, instead of them, “I conceive,” I apprehend,” or “I imagine” a thing to be so or so, or “it so appears to me at present.” 
When another asserted something that I thought an error, I deny’d myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition: and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appear’d or seem’d to me some difference, etc. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engag’d in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I propos’d my opinions procur’d them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevail’d with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right. And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it principally owing that I had earned so much weight with my fellow citizens when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my points."


Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.
Joan Didion


Bullshit slides you further than gravel. 
Irish saying


Doctor
"I'm afraid you've got Altzeimers and Cancer."
Patient 
"Well, at least I haven't got cancer"
Billy Wilder 


The worst thing you can do for those you love are the things they could and should do for themselves. 
Abraham Lincoln 


In an exchange with attorney Samuel Untermyer over a century ago, John Pierpont (“JP”) Morgan stated the problem of bank solvency correctly and for all time. In those days, bear in mind, the Fed did not exist and JPMorgan & Co was the de facto central bank. Because Morgan was not a member of the New York Clearinghouse, other banks had to stand in line inside the bank’s lobby to transact business:
Untermyer: "Is not commercial credit based primarily upon money or property?”
Morgan: “No sir. The first thing is character.”
Untermyer: “Before money or property?”
Morgan: “Before money or property or anything else. Money cannot buy it ... because a man I do not trust could not get money from me for all the bonds in Christendom.”


Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy. 
Franz Kafka 


The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. 
Norman Vincent Peale 


The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive
Robert Montgomery, conceptual artist


Ever wondered where the word 'scram' came from? This is from Peter Hennessy's The Deep Below, a history of the Navy's submarine service since WW2
Every six months or so Tireless’s team train for a ‘scram’ on a simulator in either Devonport or Faslane. A ‘scram’ means the reactor has to be shut down to maintain core safety. The word ‘scram’ goes right back to the very first nuclear reactor that went critical, on 2 December 1942 in the West Stand Squash Court at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field sports ground which housed it. The great Enrico Fermi had a cunning plan to prevent disaster if the core overheated. Cadmium control rods would be dropped down from above. If it happened (which it did not), Fermi would shout ‘scram’ to a man above the pile holding an axe ready to cut the ropes supporting the cadmium. So ‘scram’ originally stood for ‘safety cut rope axe man’. Nowadays, the control rods drop down automatically; axes are not required.


Better a total control freak than a totally out of control freak.
Tina Brown on Clinton and Trump


No man can save his brother’s soul, or pay his brother’s debt. 
Matthew Arnold 

Peel has committed great and grievous mistakes in omitting to call his friends frequently together to state his desires and rouse their zeal. A few minutes and a few words would have sufficed; men would have felt they were companions in arms; they now have the sentiment of being followers in drill.
Lord Shaftsbury on Sir Robert Peel and his neglecting to cultivate his backbenchers. Remind you of anyone?



The true rule, in determining to embrace or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more of evil than of good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything...is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. 
Abraham Lincoln 


It is a great thing when two souls are united to support each other in their work, in their successes and misfortunes, until the last silent minutes of the last good-bye. 
George Eliot 


How much more grievous are the consequences of our anger than the acts which arouse it. 
Marcus Aurelius 


Well, Marianne, it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that  I am so close behind you that, if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.
Leonard Cohen's final letter to his lover Marianne Ihlen who inspired the 1967 song 'So long, Marianne'


At its best, Twitter is like being at a great party, full of people who share your concerns, fill you in on the latest gossip, tell you about cool things to read and fire out witty one-liners. Whenever I was bored, I could pop in to the party and pick up an interesting observation. But of late, logging onto Twitter seems more akin to going back to the same party and finding that the only people left are the Judaean People's front and the People's front of Judaea. You know your friends must be there somewhere but the only people you can see are standing in the centre of the room yelling 'Splitters!' at each other.
Robert Shrimsley


Christianity has done a great deal for love by making a sin of it.
Anatole France


The police knew what they were doing throwing Cliff Richard — unmarried, an evangelical Christian, who has always sidestepped questions about his sexuality — to the tabloids. The insinuation of “predatory homosexual” was just below the surface, as it was with the openly gay Paul Gambaccini, who spent a year on bail without being charged. Indeed none of those accused of gay rather than heterosexual assaults — including Lord Bramall, Harvey Proctor and Leon Brittan — were ever charged. Operation Midland which sought to expose the “gay paedophile ring at the heart of government”, only ever had one witness, a man called “Nick”, and was abandoned.
The route to securing sex abuse prosecutions is grunt work, not grandstanding. Rather than dynamiting fish, South Yorkshire police could have caught them in a barrel. For more than a decade in Rotherham, youth worker Jayne Senior presented officers with names, car registration numbers, witnesses, bruised bodies. “Yes, but you don’t have enough proof,” they’d always say. Men caught with underage girls in their beds were let go. Yet the weight of evidence required for pursuing those who hurt “dirty little slags” appears to be overwhelming: for a famous singer less so.
Janice Turner


The principal  task of civilisation, its actual raison d'etre, is to defend us against nature. 
Freud 


The Queen takes the Queen very seriously indeed. The Queen doesn't take herself very seriously at all. 
Andrew Marr


Who discovered we could get milk from cows, and what did he think he was doing at the time?
Billy Connolly


In Prussia and then Germany, the landed Junker class, from which Bismarck came and which dominated the upper ranks of the German army, brought up its children to be brave and uncomplaining. Manfred von Nostitz, a friend of mine from the University of Toronto who is a descendant of Bismarck, remembers the last moments of that now-vanished world. He was a little boy during the Second World War, on the Bismarck estate in the eastern part of Germany. His great-grandmother, whom he and his cousins had to address as Excellenz, made the boys learn to use their knives and forks with either hand. When you grow up, she told them, you will be soldiers and may lose an arm, but you will always need to eat politely. As the Soviet troops advanced ever closer, she refused to leave with the rest of the family and the estate workers. She made her preparations: she gave orders that her grave should be dug in the grounds, because once the Soviets arrived “there would be nobody left to do this job,” and she shot her beloved dogs with her hunting rifle. She waited only to show the Soviet commander around the house before she killed herself.
History's people: Margaret Macmillan


To be candid, I think the death of a child is never really to be regretted, when one reflects on what he has escaped.
Thomas Hardy writing a condolence letter the Rider Haggard on the death of his only son. Why did he bother to write?


Ashby de la Zouch - when a gentleman gets some intimate hairs caught in his zipper.
Meaning of Liff by John Lloyd and Douglas Adams 


The consolation is losing your libido. It's like being unchained from a lunatic.
George Melly on getting old


You could hardly imagine two men so diverse as Curzon and Lloyd George. Temperament, prejudices, environment, upbringing, mental processes were utterly different and markedly antagonistic. There never of course was any comparison in weight and force between the two. The offspring of the Welsh village who's whole youth had been rebellion against the aristocracy, who had skipped indignant out of the path of the local Tory magnate driving his four-in-hand, and revenged himself at night upon that magnate's  rabbits had a priceless gift. It was the very gift which the product of Eton and Balliol always lacked – the one blessing denied him by his fairy godmothers, the one without which all other gifts are so frightfully cheapened. He had the 'seeing eye'. He had that deep original instinct which peers through the surface of words and things – the vision which sees dimly but surely the other side of the brick wall or which follows the hunt two fields before the throng. Against this, industry, learning, scholarship, eloquence, social influence, wealth, reputation, and ordered mind, plenty of pluck, counted for less than nothing. Put the two men together in any circumstances of equality and the one would eat the other.
Churchill: Great Contemporaries


Always remember that the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading. People like a show.
Terry Pratchett


The only thing we can try to do is is influence the direction scientists are taking. But since we might soon be able to engineer our desires too, the real question facing us is not 'What do we want to become?, but 'What do we want to want?' Those who are not spooked by this question probably haven't given it enough thought.
Yuval Noah Harari: Sapiens


One of the finest minds in Britain - until he makes it up.
About Enoch Powell


I have been increasingly conscious, for the last ten years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When People die, they cannot be replaced. They have  holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
Oliver Sacks: My own life 


Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The love of the Last Tycoon


I’ve got principles. And if you don’t like them, I’ve got others.
Groucho Marx


He tries to get off with women because he can't get on with them.
About Ian Fleming - but recycled for Russell Brand 


You only live twice: Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face. 
Matsuo Basho 

Ask yourself the question when you read it through: would you approve of your young sons, young daughters – because girls can read as well as boys – reading this book? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?
Mervyn Griffith-Jones QC, Prosecuting Council in the Lady Chatterley's Lover case 1960


If you know nothing about people, you can believe anything about them.
Dervla Murphy on people's attitude to slum dwellers 


They are agreeable enough - but if they had been books I shouldn't have read them.
Goethe on his fellow dinner guests 


Me - and a damned good head waiter.
Calouste Gulbenkian when asked his ideal number for dinner


Who breathes must suffer,
Who thinks must mourn,
And he alone is blest
Who ne're was born.
A note left with a child by its mother at the Corum Foundling Hospital in the 18th Century.


If you do not know how to die, never mind. Nature will tell you how to do it on the spot, plainly and adequately.
Montaigne


I like to play chess with old men in the park, although it's hard to find thirty-two of them.
Emi Philips


One doctor to another
"I need your opinion about a termination. Father syphilitic, mother tuberculous, one child born blind, second died, third deaf and dumb and the forth tuberculous. What would you have done?" 
"Ended the pregnancy."
"Then you'd have killed Beethoven."


If you hadn't done all that running around playing football, do you think you would have been as thirsty?
Caroline Aherne/Mrs Merton to George Best


An anagram of Andrea Leadsom CV is A scandal removed 


Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Schopenhauer


Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!
Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering - and it's all over much too soon.
Woody Allen


Seafarers love Singapore because food and drink and goods are cheap. Visitors and expats love Singapore because the money is good and food and drink and sex and shopping are cheap. Clifton likes Singapore because it is safe, and he says it is not corrupt, and the money he makes with his taxi is good. I absolutely loathe Singapore because if this is the triumph of order and money it is also the end of taste, the suffocation of soul, the death of feeling, the humiliation of spirit and the murder of freedom. Singapore is unutterably dreadful, a gussied-up nightmare, the dominion of emptiness. Sooner be anywhere, sooner be in a hot swamp . .
Down to the sea in ships. Horatio Clare


No one ever listened their way out of a job.
Calvin Coolidg


The two black holes that collided, which the LIGO experiment claimed to have detected, were immense. One was about 36 times the mass of our sun, the other 29 times that mass. The collision and merger produced a black hole 62 times our sun's mass. If your elementary arithmetic suggests that something is wrong, you're right. Where did the extra three solar masses disappear to?
Into pure energy in the form of gravitational waves. Our sun will burn for 10 billion years, with the intensity of over 10 billion thermonuclear weapons going off every second. In the process, only a small fraction of its total mass will be turned into energy, according to Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2. But when those black holes collided, three time the entire mass of our sun disappeared in less than a second, transformed into pure energy. During that time, the collision generated more energy than was being generated by all the rest of the stars in the observable universe combined.
Lawrence Kraus


The first rule of wisdom is to know thyself. However, this is the most difficult thing to do. The first rule of virtue is to be happy with little things; this, too, is hard to do. Only those people who follow these rules can be strong enough to be a virtuous example for others. 
John Ruskin


Most of us don't listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.
Stephen Covey


They looking back, all th'eastern side beheld 
Of paradise, so late their happy seat, 
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate 
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms: 
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon; 
The world was all before them, where to choose 
Their place of rest, and providence their guide: 
They hand in hand with wand'ring steps and slow, 
Through Eden took their solitary way.
John Milton: Paradise Lost


The soul that denies true love as its motto 
Were better unborn; its existence is dishonour. 
So be drunk with love, for love is all there is. 
Unless you deal with love, the way to God is closed.
Rumi, the 13th century Sufi poet


Early aviation was lethal, and no more so than during WW1.....
Once again Louis Strange supplies a vivid example. On 10th May 1915 he was at 8,500 feet in his single-seat Martinsyde biplane trying to shoot down an Aviatik of Bruno Loerzer’s squadron with the Lewis gun mounted on his upper wing. Strange was annoyed by the German ‘Franz’ taking rather too accurate pot shots at him with his pistol. Provoked, he shot off an entire drum of ammunition at the Aviatik but without discernible effect. When he tried to replace the empty drum it jammed and refused to come loose. What happened next is best told in Strange's own words, bearing in mind that like every other airman of the day he had no parachute: 
"After one or two fruitless efforts I raised myself out of my seat in order to get a better grip, and I suppose my safety belt must have slipped down at the critical moment. Anyhow, my knees loosened their grip on the stick just as the Martinsyde, which was already climbing at its maximum angle, stalled and flicked over into a spin. As I was more than half out of the cockpit at the time, the spin threw me clean out of the machine, but I still kept both my hands on the drum of the Lewis gun. 
Only a few seconds previously I had been cursing because I could not get that drum off, but now I prayed fervently that it would stay on for ever. I knew it might come off at any moment, however, and as its edge was cutting my fingers badly I had to get a firmer hold of something more reliable. The first thing I thought of was the top of the centre section strut, which at that time was behind and below the Lewis gun, but as the machine was now flying upside down I had sufficient wits left to realize that it was behind and above me, though where exactly I could not tell. Dare I let go the drum with one hand and make a grab for it? There was nothing else for it but to take the risk. Having achieved this firmer handhold I found my chin rammed against the top plane [wing] beside the gun while my legs were waving about in empty air. The Martinsyde was upside down in a flat spin, and from my precarious position the only thing I could see was the propeller (which seemed unpleasantly close to my face), the town of Menin, and the adjacent countryside revolving apparently above me and getting larger with every turn. I kept on kicking upwards behind me until at last I got first one foot and then the other hooked inside the cockpit. Somehow I got the stick between my legs again and jammed on full aileron and elevator. The machine came over the right way up and I fell off the top plane into my seat with a bump. I grabbed at the stick with both hands but to my surprise found myself unable to move it. I suddenly realized that I was sitting much lower than usual inside the cockpit; in fact, I was so low down I could not see over the edge at all. 
The bump of my fall had sent me right through my seat, with the result that I was sitting on the floor of the machine as well as on the control cables, which I was jamming. Something had to be done quickly as the engine was roaring away merrily and taking me down in a dive which looked likely to end in the wood to the north of Menin. So I throttled back and braced my shoulders against the top of the fuselage and my feet against the rudder bar, pulled out the broken bits of seat and freed the controls. I was then able to put the machine’s nose up and open the throttle again. I rose and cleared the trees on the Menin road with very little to spare. I felt happy to be alive and thought it simply marvellous that I was still able to control the machine. I went to bed early that night and slept for a good solid twelve hours, but Lord! how stiff I was the next day! It took a long time before I was able to move about with any comfort."
James Hamilton-Patterson: Marked for Death


Good sex is like good Bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand.
Mae West


If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. 
Francis Bacon 


Law cannot restrain evil; for the freedom of man is such that he can make the keeping of the law the instrument of evil. 
Reinhold Niebuhr 


Young men thought they could do anything. 
Albert H. Gordon, who ran Kidder Peabody for decades and worked until the age of 105, asked to comment on the cause of the 1929 crash. 


Democracy is more vindictive than Cabinets. The war of peoples will be more terrible than the war of kings.
Churchill


The stormy wind of pride and confidence sweeping over Europe [in the early 20th century] brought clouds with it. Perhaps the upward movement had come too fast, states and cities had made themselves powerful too swiftly—and an awareness of having power always leads states, like men, to use or misuse. France was extremely wealthy, yet it wanted still more, it wanted another colony although it did not have enough people for the old ones, and it almost went to war over Morocco. Italy had its eye on Cyrenaica; Austria annexed Bosnia; Serbia and Bulgaria advanced on Turkey; and Germany, although inactive for the moment, was flexing its claws to strike in anger. All the states were suffering a rush of blood to the head. Everywhere, and at the same time, the productive wish for consolidation at home began to develop, like an infectious illness, into a greedy desire for expansion. High-earning    French industrialists agitated against their German counterparts, who were also rolling in riches, because both Krupp and Schneider-Creusot wanted to be able to supply more artillery. The Hamburg shipping industry, which earned huge dividends, was vying with shipping based in Southampton, Hungarian and Bulgarian agriculture were in competition, one group of companies was set against all the rest—the economic situation had maddened them all in their frantic wish to get their hands on more and more. If today, thinking it over calmly, we wonder why Europe went to war in 1914, there is not one sensible reason to be found, nor even any real occasion for the war. There were no ideas involved, it was not really about drawing minor borderlines; I can explain it only, thinking of that excess of power, by seeing it as a tragic consequence of the internal dynamism that had built up during those forty years of peace, and now demanded release. Every state suddenly felt that it was strong, and forgot that other states felt exactly the same; all states wanted even more, and wanted some of what the others already had. The worst of it was that the very thing we loved most, our common optimism, betrayed us, for everyone thought that everyone else would back down at the last minute, and so the diplomats began their game of mutual bluff. In four or five instances, for instance in Agadir and in the Balkan Wars, it was still only a game, but the great coalitions drew closer and closer together and became increasingly militant. Germany introduced a war tax in the middle of peacetime, France extended its term of military service. Finally the accumulated head of steam had to be released. And the weather over the Balkans showed the way the wind was blowing as the clouds approached Europe. 
Stefan Zweig: The world of yesterday
 

This is an article by Maggie Fergusson in Intelligent Life on how to have a good death. It had me in tears a couple of times
http://www.intelligentlifemagazine.com/features/how-to-have-a-good-death
    

Italians lose wars as if they were football matches and football matches as is if they were wars.
Churchill


On  July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon. In the months leading up to their expedition, the Apollo 11 astronauts trained in a remote moon-like desert in the western United States. The area is home to several Native American communities, and there is a story - or legend - describing an encounter between the astronauts and one of the locals. One day as they were training, the astronauts came across an old Native American. The man asked them what they were doing there. They replied that they were part of a research expedidon that would shortly travel to explore the moon. When the old man heard that, he fell silent 
for a few moments, and then asked the astronauts if they could do him a favour. 'What do you want?' they asked. 'Well,' said the old man, 'the people of my tribe believe that holy spirits live on the moon. I was wondering if you could pass an important message to them from my people.' 'What's the message?' asked the astronauts. The man uttered something in his tribal language, and then asked the astronauts to repeat it again and again until they had memorised it correedy. 'What does it mean?' asked the astronauts.'Oh, I cannot tell you. It's a secret that only our tribe and the moon spirits are allowed to know.' 
When they returned to their base, the astronauts searched and searched until they found someone who could speak the tribal language, and asked him to translate the secret message. When they repeated what they had memorised, the translator started to laugh uproariously. When he calmed down, the astronauts asked him what it meant. The man explained that the sentence they had memorised so carefully meant 'Don't believe a single word these people are telling you. They have come to steal your lands.' 
Youval Noah Harari: Sapiens


A happy man has no past. An unhappy man has nothing else.
Richard Flanegan. The Narrow Road to the Deep North (surely this is right?)


All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Tolstoy: the first line of Anna Karenina (surely this is wrong?)


There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
 There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
 Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me--
 That ever with a frolic welcome took
 The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
 Free hearts, free foreheads--you and I are old;
 Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;                    
 Death closes all: but something ere the end,
 Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
 Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
 The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
 The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
 Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
 'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
 Push off, and sitting well in order smite
 The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
 To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths                     
 Of all the western stars, until I die.
 It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
 It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
 And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
 Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
 We are not now that strength which in old days
 Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
 One equal temper of heroic hearts,
 Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
 To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.               
Tennyson: Ulysses


Coming to terms with Donal Trump as the Republican nominee is like being told you have Stage 1 or Stage 2 cancer. You know you will probably survive, but one way or the other, there's going to be a lot of throwing up.
Christopher Buckley


The “rightness” of the Parthenon is located somewhere between the beauty of science and the science of beauty.  
Christopher Hitchens


Remember your humanity and forget the rest.
Einstein


It’s a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than “try to be a little kinder.”

Aldous Huxley 


Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? 
Douglas Adams


Monsieur GĂ©ricault, your shipwreck is certainly no disaster.
Louis XVIII to Gericault after seeing the Raft of Medusa


God gave man a brain and a penis - but only enough blood to run one at a time.
Robin Williams


Diligence is the mother of good luck.
Benjamin Franklin


Then felt I like some watcher of the skies, 
When a new planet swims into his ken; 
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes 
He star’d at the Pacific –and all his men  
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise – 
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
Keats on reading Chapman's translation of Homer


If women ran the world we wouldn't have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
Robin Williams


The brilliance of Sartre’s invention lay in the fact that he did indeed turn phenomenology into a philosophy of apricot cocktails –and of the waiters who served them. Also a philosophy of expectation, tiredness, apprehensiveness, excitement, a walk up a hill, the passion for a desired lover, the revulsion from an unwanted one, Parisian gardens, the cold autumn sea at Le Havre, the feeling of sitting on overstuffed upholstery, the way a woman’s breasts pool as she lies on her back, the thrill of a boxing match, a film, a jazz song, a glimpse of two strangers meeting under a street lamp. He made philosophy out of vertigo, voyeurism, shame, sadism, revolution, music and sex. Lots of sex. 
Where philosophers before him had written in careful propositions and arguments, Sartre wrote like a novelist –not surprisingly, since he was one. In his novels, short stories and plays as well as in his philosophical treatises, he wrote about the physical sensations of the world and the structures and moods of human life. Above all, he wrote about one big subject: what it meant to be free. 
Freedom, for him, lay at the heart of all human experience, and this set humans apart from all other kinds of object. Other things merely sit in place, waiting to be pushed or pulled around. Even non-human animals mostly follow the instincts and behaviours that characterise their species, Sartre believed. But as a human being, I have no predefined nature at all. I create that nature through what I choose to do. Of course I may be influenced by my biology, or by aspects of my culture and personal background, but none of this adds up to a complete blueprint for producing me. I am always one step ahead of myself, making myself up as I go along. 
Sartre put this principle into a three-word slogan, which for him defined existentialism: ‘Existence precedes essence’. What this formula gains in brevity it loses in comprehensibility. But roughly it means that, having found myself thrown into the world, I go on to create my own definition (or nature, or essence), in a way that never happens with other objects or life forms. You might think you have defined me by some label, but you are wrong, for I am always a work in progress. I create myself constantly through action, and this is so fundamental to my human condition that, for Sartre, it is the human condition, from the moment of first consciousness to the moment when death wipes it out. I am my own freedom: no more, no less.
Sarah Bakewell: At the Existentialist Cafe


You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. 
Robert Louis Stevenson


When he lay dying at the age of sixty-five, Delacroix lamented the fact that he still had another forty years of work in him. As for posterity, he several times expressed the wistful hope that he might be allowed to return in a hundred years’ time and find out what was thought of him then. When he mentioned this desire to Du Camp, the latter stopped himself from saying what he really felt: ‘They will place you between Tiepolo and Jouvenet.’ This unspoken remark tells us much about the taste and opinion of the time, which Delacroix had spent so many decades trying to overcome.
Julian Barnes: Keeping an eye open


People don’t have cancer: They are reported to be battling cancer. No well-wisher omits the combative image: You can beat this. It’s even in obituaries for cancer losers, as if one might reasonably say of someone that they died after a long and brave struggle with mortality. You don’t hear it about long-term sufferers from heart disease or kidney failure. Myself, I love the imagery of struggle. I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient. Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don’t read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier or revolutionary is the very last one that will occur to you. You feel swamped with passivity and impotence: dissolving in powerlessness like a sugar lump in water.
Christopher Hitchens: Mortality 


London's architecture has become laughably boorish, confidently uncouth and flashily arid. Neomodern bling and meretricious trash are the current norms. Without exception, big-name architects turn out to be horizontals who happily put their knees behind their ears at the first sight of an oligarch, a Gulf princeling, a Central Asian dictator, a modern slave-driver or a property swine, while lecturing us on sustainability, low emissions, affordability, bicycles, ethical regeneration and whatever other right-on shibboleths are in the air this week. London is a magnet for a caste of designers who seem hardly to notice that the milieu they inhabit is chasmically remote from the lives of those affected and afflicted by their creations. It is the city - sorry, global city - where reputations built through decades of imagination and toil, strict image control and rigorous PR are frittered away in a blizzard of self-parody and voracious cupidity. The tectonic gerontocrats Rogers, Vinoly, Piano, Foster, Nouvel, and so on are apparently locked in a competition to vandalise the sky with banality. There are outsiders in there too, architectural practices that, all too evidently never had a reputation to lose - for instance, the incompetents culpable of the Strata building in Elephant and Castle, or those at Broadway Malyan, whose destruction of Vauxhall  deprived London of valuable terrain vague. A few hundred metres west, the ineffable Gehry has his head in the corpse of Battersea Power Station Iike a vulture in a lamb's ribcage. 
Jonathan Meades
 

True ignorance is not the absence off knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it.
Karl Popper


Too large a proportion of recent “mathematical” economics are mere concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they arrest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols. 
John Maynard Keynes 


And what am I doing it for?
Mainly for fun, partly for a half believed in
Principle, a core
Of fact in a pulp of verbiage,
Remembering that this crude and so-called obsolete
Top-heavy tedious parliamentary system
Is our only ready weapon to defeat
the legions’ eagles and the lictors’ axes;
And remembering that those who by their habit hate
Politics can no longer keep their private
Values unless they open the public Gate
To a better political system.
That Rome was not built in a day is no excuse
For laissez-faire, for bowing to the odds against us;
What is the use
Of asking what is the use of one brick only:
The perfectionist stands for ever in a fog
Waiting for the fog to clear
Louis MacNeice in 1938, about voting in an Oxford by-election 


Above-average precipitation is slightly more probable than below-average. The probability of the wettest of our five categories is 25 percent. The driest category is 15 to 20 percent. The level of risk includes the potential for storms or heavy rain."
The Met Office three month forecast. Well that's clear then...


I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street.

I'll love you till the ocean 
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

The years shall run like rabbits 
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages
And the first love of the world.
Auden


In recent years, as people began to rethink human–animal relations, such practices (factory farming) have come under increasing criticism. We are suddenly showing unprecedented interest in the fate of so-called lower life forms, perhaps because we are about to become one. If and when computer programs attain superhuman intelligence and unprecedented power, should we begin valuing these programs more than we value humans? Would it be okay, for example, for an artificial intelligence to exploit humans and even kill them to further its own needs and desires? If it should never be allowed to do that, despite its superior intelligence and power, why is it ethical for humans to exploit and kill pigs? Do humans have some magical spark, in addition to higher intelligence and greater power, which distinguishes them from pigs, chickens, chimpanzees and computer programs alike? If yes, where did that spark come from, and why are we certain that an AI could never acquire it? If there is no such spark, would there be any reason to continue assigning special value to human life even after computers surpass humans in intelligence and power? Indeed, what exactly is it about humans that make us so intelligent and powerful in the first place, and how likely is it that non-human entities will ever rival and surpass us?
Yuval Noah Harari: Homo Deus


The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts. 
Bertrand Russell 


It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own.
Marcus Aurelius 


Experience is the one thing you can't get for nothing.
Oscar Wilde


I have spent most of my life as a musician measuring the difference between the American dream and the American reality.
Bruce Springsteen 


There are so many realities that trying to render all of them visible one ends up in the dark. That's why, when one paints a portrait there comes a point where one  ought to stop having attained  a form of caricature. Otherwise, at the end, there would be nothing at all.
Picasso in conversation with Daniel-Henri Kahnweiller 


Whenever you are fed up with life, just remember that you will be dead soon and forgotten forever and you won't even notice. Hope that helps :)
Ricky Gervais


He kissed the plump mellow yellow smellor melons of her rump, on each plumpmelonous hemisphere, in their mellow yellow furrow, with obscure prolonged provocative melonsmellonous osculation.
James Joyce


What you do when you don’t have to, determines what you will be when you can no longer help it. 
Rudyard Kipling 


If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.
De Lampedusa: The Leopard


For as at a great distance of place, that which wee look at, appears dimme, and without distinction of the smaller parts; and as voyces grow weak, and inarticulate: so also after great distance of time, our imagination of the past is weak: and wee lose (for example) of cities wee have seen, many particular streets; and of actions many particular circumstances. This decaying sense, when wee would express the thing it selfe, (I mean fancy it selfe) we call Imagination, as I said before: But when we would express the decay, and signify the Sense is fading, old, and past, it is called Memory. So that Imagination and Memory are but one thing....
Hobbes: Leviathan


We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 
Through the unknown, remembered gate 
When the last of earth left to discover 
Is that which was the beginning; 
At the source of the longest river 
The voice of the hidden waterfall 
And the children in the apple-tree 
Not known, because not looked for 
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness 
Between two waves of the sea. 
Quick now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything) 
And all shall be well and 
All manner of thing shall be well 
When the tongues of flame are in-folded 
Into the crowned knot of fire 
And the fire and the rose are one.
TS Elliott: Little Gidding


Other novels served as a kind of foil — something to argue with. V. S. Naipaul’s novel “A Bend in the River,” Mr. Obama recalls, “starts with the line ‘The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.’ And I always think about that line and I think about his novels when I’m thinking about the hardness of the world sometimes, particularly in foreign policy, and I resist and fight against sometimes that very cynical, more realistic view of the world. And yet, there are times where it feels as if that may be true.”
Mishiko Kakutani interviewing Barak Obama about the role of books in his life 


They made a wasteland and called it peace. 
Tacitus 


One of the symptoms of an approaching  breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. 
Bertrand Russell 


Governments never learn. Only people learn. 
Milton Friedman 


If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? 
Rabbi Hillel
 
You know you're getting old when you buy a sexy sheer nightgown and don't know anyone who can see through it
Joan Rivers


No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe soldiers, nothing is safe.
Lord Salisbury


H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald was the worthy winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa. It is primarily about a woman training a goshawk – the Mike Tyson of the skies. It is also an account of grief - and a beautifully written natural history and literary biography.

It is bright, after heavy rain, and the crowds of closing time gone. On this second expedition from the house Mabel grips the glove more tightly than ever. She is tense. She looks smaller and feels heavier in this mood, as it fear had a weight to it, as if pewter had been poured into her long and airy bones. The raindrop marks on her tight–feathered front run together into long lines like those around a downturned mouth. She picks fitfully at her food, but mostly she stares, taut with reserve, about her.  She follows bicycles with her eyes. She hunches ready to spring when people come too close. Children alarm her. She is unsure about dogs. Big dogs, that is. Small dogs fascinate her for other reasons.

After ten minutes of haunted apprehension, the goshawk decides that she's not going to be eaten, or beaten to death, by any of these things. She rouses and begins to eat. Cars and buses rattle fumily past, and when the food is gone she stands staring at the strange world around her.  So do I. I've been with my hawk so long, just her and me, that I'm seeing my city through her eyes. She watches a woman throwing a ball to her dog on the grass, and I watch too, as baffled by what she's doing as the hawk is. I stare at traffic lights before I remember what they are. Bicycles are spinning mysteries of glittering metal. The buses going past are walls with wheels. What's salient to the hawk in the city is not what is salient to man. The things she sees are uninteresting to her. Irrelevant. Until there's a clatter of wings. We both look up. There's a pigeon, a wood-pigeon, sailing down to roost in a lime tree above us. Time slows. The air thickens and the hawk is transformed. It's as if all her weapons systems were suddenly engaged. Red cross-hairs. She stands on her toes and cranes her neck. This. This flight path. This thing, she thinks. This is fascinating. Some part of the hawk's young brain has just worked something out, and it has everything to do with death.

How to dance
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ueJ4-lTa1s 


Leisure, robots and the meaning of money; three views:
 

There is no country and no people who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread. It is a fearful problem for the ordinary person, with no special talents, to occupy himself, especially if he no longer has roots in the soil or in custom or in the beloved conventions of a traditional society.
Keynes


The ultimate effect of technology, it has been said, will be a factory run by one man and a dog: the man to feed the dog, and the dog to bite the man if he touches the machinery. That sounds fine to me: while patting his dog and watching machine whirr, he could read a book.
Ben Macintyre


We have reached that time of year when we traditionally turn from the turmoil of the markets and the troubles with money, to the good life. From the rubble of the rouble, to a sizzling turkey, to re-discover the signal from the noise. But what is the good life?

The journey takes us back in time and to the ends of the earth, to St Helena, where we find a famous prisoner, Napoleon Bonaparte, who is in the midst of a furious fight over the size of his rose garden.  Believing himself to be absolute ruler of all that he surveys, he naturally wants to make his garden larger, but the Governor of St Helena is absolutely opposed to this land grab. He had seen its consequences. Napoleon, Ex-Emperor of France and Ruler of Europe, who had commanded vast armies now couldn’t even enlarge his own garden parterre a centimetre. His personality blindspot meant that he had lost the plot. His insatiable desire for  “more and more”  resulted in  “less and less”. He went from ruler to loser because he didn’t know when “enough was enough”.

So how much is enough? Economists cannot provide the answer. In society, insatiable appetites are considered pathological, and yet economists treat this mental illness as the norm. To economists we are all psychopaths mindlessly pursuing money, with seemingly  insatiable consumption. Don’t believe me - if your kitchen ceiling lights look even vaguely like those of Heathrow airport’s landing lights, then you will need to think again.

Keynes himself was aware of these limitations and had expected economists to become as useful as dentists. Their marginal utility putting them at the very margins of life. Yet strangely, their inability to say anything useful seems to have increased their importance.  Believing that money is the measure of one’s worth, makes no more sense than to believe that GDP is the measure of one’s economy.  Why still use a value that is increased by prostitution and yet decreased by voluntary work, like childcare?  That fails to subtract the cost of pollution and ascribes no value to leisure?  It is like measuring Christmas only by its tinsel and trinkets, which is of course exactly what they do.

Keynes  believed by 2030, we would 4x richer, and given the marginal return on income, work for only a quarter of the time.  As productivity increased, working hours would decrease. He expected us to work only 15 hours rather than the 50 or 60 hours per week we actually work.  He mistakenly believed that once we had satisfied our material needs, then we would enjoy our leisure, spending less time at work and more time enjoying ourselves. But the reverse is true - the richer you are, the more likely you are to work even longer hours.  Money has become the competitive yardstick, the way of keeping score. To the Swedish Economist, Staffan Linder - leisure is both a benefit and a cost, the cost of not working. This cost grows as productivity grows - thus the cost of lying in the grass for an executive is higher than that of a student. Weirdly, lower paid workers are working less than they want to and the richer ones are working more than they need to. The workaholic rich have replaced the idle rich or those fabled aristocrats.

Keynes believed 4-8x the average income was enough for the professional classes to live the good life and the equivalent of Euro 46,000 per annum was enough to satisfy average needs. Sums echoed by Balzac and Austen.  Russian oligarch’s might think this sum is derisory. Putin himself said he works like a galley slave - but he certainly doesn’t live like one. He is rumoured to have  20 residences, including the  Constantine Palace, a Czarist-era estate, a ski lodge in the Caucasus Mountains and a Gothic revival palace in the Moscow region.  He has 15 helicopters, 4  yachts and 43 aircraft. Surely in aircraft at least, he has reached  a marginal return, given you can only fly in one at a time. This desire for more and more looks distinctly Napoleonic - especially given his description of ‘Eastern Ukraine, with the Czarist term “New Russia.” It is not as if Russia is short of land.

There is an old saying: as soon as a man get rich he goes bad and as soon as a woman goes bad, she becomes rich. Echoed by Mandeville’s view: “you can have riches and vice, poverty and virtue - but you can’t have riches and virtue.” Money, according to Robert and Edward Skidelsky, should only be the background noise. A means to help you achieve the good life. The good life is defined by seven basic goods: health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure. The good life balances these needs.  This is the signal among the noise. According to Cicero - “if you have a garden and a library you have all you need.”
Andrew Nason


In 1934 Robert Pirosh, who went on to win an academy award, left his job as copywriter in New York to try and become scriptwriter in Hollywood. He wrote this letter to any contact he could muster in Tinseltown.
 

Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave "V" words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land's-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.

I have just returned and I still like words.

May I have a few with you?


No one has ever worn more brilliantly the mask of anarchy to conceal the true face of tradition.
Vernon Watkins on Dylan Thomas

The trouble is, you think you have time
Buddha

Europe was created by history.
America was created by philosophy.
Margaret Thatcher

Perhaps if more people were aware of the first wave and second wave extinctions, they'd be less nonchalant about the third wave they are part of. If we knew how many species we've already eradicated, we might be more motivated to protect those that still survive. This is especially relevant to the large animals of the oceans. Unlike their terrestrial counterparts, the large sea animals suffered relatively little from the cognitive and agricultural revolutions. But many of them are on the brink of extinction now as a result of industrial pollution and human overuse of oceanic resources. If things continue at the present pace, it is likely that whales, sharks, tuna and dolphins will follow the diprotodons, ground sloths and mammoths to oblivion. Among all the world's large creatures, the only survivors of the human flood will be humans themselves, and the final animals those that serve as galley slaves in the Noah's Ark.
Yuval Noah Harari: Sapiens

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
Kate Moss

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who guards the guards?
Juvenal

Henry James would be vastly improved as a novelist by few whiffs of the Chicago stockyard.
HL Mencken

Captain James Cook learnt his trade on a Whitby collier running coal from Newcastle to London. Both his ships, the Endeavour and Resolution were built as colliers in Whitby by his friend John Walker. This letter of 1775, to Walker, was after his second voyage. On his third and fatal voyage he was reputed to have been exhausted and not quite of right mind. This doesn’t seem to be borne out by the words here.

Dear Sir,

As I have not now time to draw up an account of such occurrences of the voyage as I wish to communicate to you, I can only thank you for your obliging letter and kind enquiry after me during my absence. I must however tell you that the Resolution was found to answer on all occasions even beyond my expectations and is so little injured by the voyage that she will soon be sent out again, but I shall not command her.  My fate drives me from one extreme to another. A few months ago the whole southern hemisphere was hardly big enough for me and now I'm going to be confined within the limits of Greenwich Hospital which are far too small for an active mind like mine. I must however confess it is a fine retreat and a pretty income, but whether I can bring myself to like ease and retirement time will show.

Your most affectionate friend

James Cook


He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
Who does not put it to the touch,
To win or lose it all.
The Marquis of Montrose on the eve of his execution

When two things travel together, it is tempting to assume that one causes the other. Married people, for instance, are demonstrably happier than single people; does this mean that marriage causes happiness? Not necessarily. The data suggest that happy people are more likely to get married in the first place. As one researcher memorably put it, "if you're grumpy, who the hell wants to marry you?"                                  
Levitt & Dubner Think like a Freak

It is not what have, but what we enjoy, that constitutes our abundance.  
Epicurus

As we grow old…the beauty steals inward.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than a man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.
Ernest Hemingway

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. 
Voltaire

Pablo Casals, aged eighty, decided to get married to a twenty-year old. In reply to someone who questioned the wisdom of such an age discrepancy….
 

Well, if she dies, she dies.


We sailed to the Black Sea last year via Istanbul and the Bosporus. I wrote this blog about that nexus of civilizations. 

The modern Istanbul is vast – the sixth largest city in the world – and the outline becomes distinct on the horizon six hours before you finally round the point of the old city with the Topkapi Palace framed by the Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia – surely one of the world’s great views. A sense of history would need to be cauterized for you not to gaze in wonder; and wonder also at the inhabitants of the ancient city of Chalcedon on the Asian shore who were known as ‘the blind ones’ for not seeing the site of Byzantium as a perfect place for a city. The stretch across the mouth of the Golden Horn up to the Bosporus Bridge is testing on the nerves of the helmsman. I counted at one moment twenty-three ferries – not to mention five small fishing boats and three leviathan oil tankers all crisscrossing the waters opposite the Golden Horn. They are all pros – and I’m not.

The Bosporus itself is, in geological terms, a modern waterway. In early settled history – from about 10,000 BC to about 6500 BC the Black Sea was cut off from a Mediterranean whose sea level was lower than now as a result of the last ice age. The Black Sea was a fresh water lake fed, as now, by five great rivers including the Danube, Don and Dnieper, which are the second third and forth largest rivers in Europe, and it was about a hundred metres lower than at present. In contrast the much bigger Mediterranean has only three major rivers draining in to it. Somewhere around 6500 BC the rising waters of the Mediterranean, perhaps abetted by an earthquake, spilled over into the Black Sea and the force of water routed a canyon between Europe and Asia creating a cascade probably a hundred times larger than Niagara Falls. For the inhabitants of the lakeshore littoral this was a catastrophe as the lake, now rapidly becoming a sea, encroached on their settlements at an estimated half a mile a day. It was a flood of epic proportions and it is surely no accident that Noah’s Arc in legend came to rest on Mount Ararat on the borders between Armenia and Georgia at the Eastern edge of the Black Sea.

All this has been attested by geologists and biologists who have found in core samples evidence of changes in the salinity of the water and the type of marine life: fresh water species could not survive in the new saline environment though the huge existing body of fresh water would have taken some time to have mixed completely – resulting in a few making the transition. Robert Ballard, famous for finding the Titanic, discovered remains of human settlement about three hundred feet below the current sea level off the Turkish Coast. There is argument about the violence of the flood – but the fact of it seems highly likely.

The Black Sea’s strangeness doesn’t stop there. It is a continental drain for both Europe and the Russian Steppe. The Danube rises in Germany and is the final destination of most of the rivers of Eastern Europe. With the water has come a vast quantity of vegetable material that has changed the chemistry of the Black Sea. The surface layer is saline H2O down to about two hundred metres. Below that – and the abyssal depths go down to two thousand metres – it is H2S, Hydrogen Sulphide, a poisonous and lifeless environment. Two possibilities flow from this. Because neither worm nor wood-eating biology can survive in that environment, Ballard found a 5th century Byzantine ship with its rigging intact. There is also a possibility, remote thankfully, that the marine layers could perform an inversion and the Hydrogen Sulphide rise to the top. The poison gas released would kill everything around the sea’s edge and the explosion, if it caught fire, would be one of the biggest the world has seen.

Even though, famously, the Black Sea provides Russia with a warm water port, with its reduced salinity and continental climate the Black Sea forms ice. It seems strange to think of Istanbul and icebergs but in the 8th Century AD the famous walls of Byzantium were badly damaged by ice floes. Jason and his Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece in Colchis - modern Georgia - had to pass the Clashing Rocks which threatened to crush their fragile craft. Could these have been icebergs?

The modern journey down the historic waterway of the Bosporus is rather less eventful but still memorable. The traffic for big ships is one way. As you drive from the Istanbul airport along the Sea of Marmora there are scores of ship lying at anchor almost as far as the eye can see, waiting their turn to transit. Once the metaphorical lights change they process their way through in single file and head east – the majority being tankers in ballast on their way to the Caspian Sea pipeline terminals that provide much of Europe’s oil. As an aside, the time taken to extract the oil that has lain for millions of years below the Caspian, pipe it to the Black Sea, tanker it to the Adriatic, pipe it to a refinery in Bavaria and put the resulting petrol into a BMW in Munich is twenty-two days. For obvious reasons you give these behemoths a wide berth, favouring the European shore where the current is less fierce. The surface current flows from the Black Sea towards the Sea of Marmara but there is also a strong current at the bottom flowing the other way. In the days before engines, fishermen in the Bosporus – and maybe Jason on his way to Colchis – used to sling a net of stones on a rope over the side and be dragged against the surface current.

The Bosporus is in some ways a sketch of modern Turkey. Old, decaying wooden yalis - though many less of them now - sit alongside the new weekend retreats of wealthy Istambulis. Fishing boats line the quays of harbours that also contain marinas filled with the plastic pleasure craft of the rich. The Second Bosporus Bridge overshadows the fortress built by Mehemet the Conqueror in an astonishing four months as a prelude to the final assault on Constantinople in 1453. The fort was then known as The Throat Cutter as it cut off beleaguered Byzantium from the Black Sea. And finally, as the Bosporus opens out and you feel the swell of the five hundred mile stretch of seawater ahead under the yacht’s keel, there is a new bridge under construction that frames the location of the catastrophic cataract of eight millennia ago. In the small fishing town that overlooks the straight, under the flashing of an Ottoman lighthouse, there is also the traditional Turkey: no alcohol for sale and no women amongst the evening gatherings in the town square.


I've never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It's probably because they've forgotten their own.
George Bernard Shaw


But then I sigh, and with a piece of scripture, tell them that God bids us do good for evil. And thus I clothe my naked villainy with odd old ends stolen forth of holy writ, and seem I a saint, when most I play the Devil.
Richard III, Act 1 Scene 3

We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but we can’t be wise with other men’s wisdom.
Montaigne

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich.
John Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty

A Scottish Romance
http://www.youtube.com/embed/dYslhL71k1M?rel=0

Peecrastinate v. To lie in bed pretending that you are going sleep when you need to pee.

To succeed in the world, it is much more necessary to possess the penetration to discern who is a fool, than to discover who is a clever man.
Talleyrand

Be still my heart; thou has known worse than this.
Homer

Two dogs dining
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EVwlMVYqMu4&client=mv-vf-uk&safesearch=always

The individual human mind is like a computer terminal connected to a giant database. The database is human consciousness itself, of which our own cognizance is merely an individual expression, but with its roots in the common consciousness of all mankind. This database is the realm of genius; because to be human is to participate in the database, everyone, by virtue of his birth, has access to genius. The unlimited information contained in the database has now been shown to be readily available to anyone in a few seconds, at any time and in any place. This is indeed an astonishing discovery, bearing the power to change lives, both individually and collectively, to a degree never yet anticipated.
David Hawkings. Power vs Force

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.
Shakespeare

Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life.
Victor Hugo

I re-read some De Toqueville last  year and was re-astonished about how sharp and relevant his observations of the USA of nearly two hundred years ago are today.

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through.

There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one.

What is most important for democracy is not that great fortunes should not exist, but that great fortunes should not remain in the same hands. In that way there are rich men, but they do not form a class.


Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation
St Augustine


De Rochefoucauld was the prince of aphorists. He also rationed himself to one laugh a year - though the court of Louis XIV was not exactly a giggle a minute.

Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue
There are few virtuous women who are not bored with their trade.
We can forgive those that bore us but not those that find us boring.
People often complain about their memories, never about their minds.
Virtue would go far if vanity did not keep it company.
Many men are contemptuous of riches; few can give them away.


The BBC is run by twerps who all have degrees in Media Studies - which is like having a degree in stationary
Jonathan Miller

Build your enemy a golden bridge to retreat across.
Confucius


Never drink to feel better. Only drink to feel even better.


The advent of the Internet of things, which could reach 50 billion connected devices by 2020, will exponentially multiply the cyber criminal’s target opportunities, because more connections equal more vulnerability. Today’s Internet infrastructure is based on IPV4 protocol, which is in the process of being upgraded to IPV6, increasing the number of potential IP addresses from 4.3 billion to 340 trillion, trillion, trillion. In other words, today’s Internet is the size of a golf ball. But, tomorrow’s Internet will be the size of the Sun.


The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
Camus

I solemnly prophesy that this accursed man [Adolf Hitler] will cast our Reich into the abyss and bring our nation to inconceivable misery. Future generations will damn you in your grave for what you have done.
Erich von Ludendorff, to Reich president Hindenburg, end of January 1933

There is still—and I say this with a heart full of sorrow—no Iraqi people, but an unimaginable mass of human beings devoid of any patriotic ideas, imbued with religious traditions and absurdities, prone to anarchy and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatsoever.
King Faisal I, 1934

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
Carl Jung

A man is already halfway in love with any woman who listens to him.
Brendan Francis

Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal?
Louis XIV, on his deathbed

A gentleman is someone who can play the bagpipes - but doesn't.

I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down'.
Bob Newhart

Big whirls have little whirls that feed on their velocity, and little whirls have lesser whirls, and so on to viscosity.
Lewis Fry Richardson; Meteorologist

Crashes don’t destroy wealth; they just reveal the wealth you thought you had never really existed.
   
No one worth possessing can be quite possessed.
Sara Teasdale

What a trillion looks like
http://www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html    

Skinny, introverted, obsessed equally with his bowels and his soul, attuned always to the political currents in India but listening as much to his own complicated heart, he was an unlikely political genius.
Margaret Macmillan on Gandhi. The Peacemakers

The Bubonic Plagiarist
Jonathan Miller on David Frost

He rose without trace
Peter Cook on David Frost

All the world is a birthday cake, so take a piece - but not too much.
George Harrison

All writing is writers' block; it's all so hard. But not tragically hard
Alan Bennett


If people aren't paying you for what you do, they don't value you. It is a really strange thing that you have to charge really high prices or people don't listen to what you have to say. You could be giving the exact same advice, but the more you charge, the more people are going to follow your advice.
Steven Levitt Author of Freakonomics

Like it or not, we're part of Gaia, and like citizens of a great nation we draw power from our membership. In common with all animals we have breathed in oxygen from plants and used it to recycle, as carbon dioxide, the food that the plants provided. Now, through our intelligence, we've allowed our planet to become aware of its environment in space and not only to see its place in the cosmos, but also to grow aware of potential threats, such as that posed by an incoming planetesimal, one of the kind believed to have ended the reign of the dinosaurs. Because we are alive, in a rudimentary way the system has, through us, become sentient. Before this, life existed without knowing what it was, how old it was, or anything about its future. We are now travelling along a path that could lead us to become the citizens of a live, intelligent planet, which might in turn become a citizen of the galaxy. With such a future ahead of us how could we possibly be gloomy, or believe, as today's puritans keep telling us, that we are guilty of some great harm? We merely have to stop making mistakes, or better – because mistakes are inevitable – learn from them and keep our eyes on the path ahead.
James Lovelock from A Rough Ride to the Future

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?
Pope Francis

Never eat more than you can lift.
Miss Piggy

Not new - but however your day is going, it will feel better after watching this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w

Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact.
Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.
Balzac

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It's good to die in your own bed; better still to die in your boots.
Orwell

You cannot always tell what keeps you confined, what immures you, what seems to bury you, and yet you can feel those elusive bars, railings, walls. Is all this illusion, imagination? I don't think so. And then one asks: My God! will it be for long, will it be for ever, will it be for eternity?
Do you know what makes the prison disappear? Every deep, genuine affection. Being friends, being brothers, loving, that is what opens the prison, with supreme power, by some magic force. Without these one stays dead. But whenever affection is revived, there life revives.
Extract from a letter by Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo dated July 1880
 

He had a genius for backing into the limelight
Lowell Thomas on Lawrence of Arabia

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.
Will Rogers

When you're wondering whether she's his daughter or his girlfriend, she's his girlfriend.
Pamela Druckerman

The answer to the question of what sustained Churchill and the British in the darkest days is that it was his own words. From them the people took hope and Churchill drew inspiration. Bad at many things, Churchill had early made himself a master of language, and it was through that mastery that his career and self-esteem had been nurtured. By the practice of speaking and writing, particularly the writing of a heroicized history of his own nation, he had built up a great reserve of imagery upon which he now drew to forge what would indeed prove to be tools of battle.

Churchill’s words did not only touch his people’s hearts and move the emotions of their future American allies; they also set the moral climate of the war. Hitler, a mob orator, spoke little after 1939. When he did so, it was to utter threats and insults, glorifying aggression, deriding his enemies. Churchill, by contrast, avoided threats, condemned few...instead he appealed to a commonality and nobility of sentiment that took liberty as its ideal and humanity as its spirit. He always spoke, moreover, as if the ideal of liberty, though particularly incarnate in war-time Britain, was shared by all who did not actively oppose it, in this way reaching out to embrace as allies, actual or potential, all those not on Hitler’s side...Churchill’s message triumphed. It was perhaps the greatest of all his achievements. In 1940 his words captured the hearts of his people. And in 1941, and in the years that followed, his words drowned out the drumbeat of totalitarianism that had dominated the airwaves of the dictator years, revived belief in democracy among the downtrodden, inspired a new patriotism in the defeated, created a new confidence, and transmitted a promise of victory that was believed. Morally, Churchill set the agenda of the Second World War. Its realization determined, after 1945, the future of the world.
John Keegan

We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Consideration by the Way,” The Conduct of Life
 

Every parent is at some time the father of the unreturned prodigal, with nothing to do but keep his house open to hope.
John Anthony Ciardi

Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
Benjamin Franklin

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.
Sydney J. Harris, On the Contrary

How to get to Mars
http://www.youtube.com/embed/XRCIzZHpFtY?rel=0

Love is a beautiful liar
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

Fear is the parent of cruelty.
James Anthony Froude

Greatness of name in the father oft-times helps not forth, but overwhelms the son; they stand too near one another. The shadow kills the growth: so much, that we see the grandchild come more and oftener to be heir of the first.
Ben Johnson

It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish.
Aeschylus

Implacable vengeance rising from a frozen pity. His sympathies cold and wide as the Arctic Ocean; his hatreds tight as the hangman’s noose. His purpose to save the world; his method to blow it up.
Churchill on Lenin

I have never been disabled in my dreams.
Christopher Reeve

The only way to tell the truth is to speak with kindness. Only the words of a loving man can be heard.
Henry David Thoreau

Two nations, between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws . . . the rich and the poor.
Disraeli. Sybil 

The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.
Japanese proverb

In January 2008, there were 12 triple A-rated companies in the world. At the same time, there were 64,000 structured finance instruments, such as collateralised debt obligations, rated triple A. 

The more that people of different origins and values come in contact with one another, the more they become aware of not just how similar they are, but of how different they are. Proximity, whether real or virtual, can ignite the deepest animosities.
Robert Kaplan The Lure of Nationalism

Plumber's Sex - you stay in all day and no one comes.

A wise man changes his mind. A fool never does.
Voltaire

The optimists ended up in the gas chambers, the pessimists have pools in Beverly Hills.
Billy Wilder

Today, of Americans officially designated as 'poor,' 99 per cent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 per cent have a television, 88 per cent a telephone, 71 per cent a car and 70 percent air conditioning. Cornelius Vanderbilt had none of these.
Matt Ridley. The Rational Optimist

Keith Richards: A turtle that's lost its shell.

Losing his middle finger in a childhood accident rendered Rahm practically mute.
Obama on his famously belligerent former chief of staff and now Mayor of Chicargo, Rahm Emmanuel
 

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.
Arthur Miller

Plain women know more about men than beautiful women do.
Katharine  Hepburn

Supporters of the European project have always held the view that a transnational political union of a democratic kind, which poses problems that are extremely difficult, will be resolved through crises. I heard a private talk by Joschka Fischer back in the early Nineties, that’s to say twenty years ago, in which he said there’ll be huge crises, it’s absolutely inevitable, but each crisis will bring us closer to the goal. It’s a kind of classical position. Gorbachev actually held similar views at one time about the Soviet Union. I think myself that the project of creating democracy at a supra national level in Europe, even perhaps with a slightly smaller number of countries, remains in the realm of impossibility. But you see, if it is a folly, then it’s not going to be abandoned because of rational argument. It’s not going to be abandoned because we’ve learned from mistakes. It’ll be abandoned only in a crisis larger than the ones we’ve seen so far. And that may come many years hence.
John N Gray

A bull market is like sex. It feels best just before it ends.
Barton Biggs

A wonderful fact to reflect upon: that every human creature is a profound secret and mystery to every other. 
Dickens

Live so that your friends can defend you, but never have to.
Arnold Glasow

Friendship needs no words—it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness.
Dag Hammarskjold

If he be a man indeed, he must always go on, he must always endure. Death is an end to torture, to struggle, to suffering, but it is also an end to warmth, light, the beauty of a running horse, the smell of damp leaves, of gunpowder, the walk of a woman when she knows someone watches.
Louis L’Amour, Galloway

I do not believe that any peacock envies another peacock his tail, because every peacock is persuaded that his own tail is the finest in the world. The consequence of this is that peacocks are peaceable birds.
Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

Vanity is a static thing. It puts its faith in what it has, and is easily wounded. Pride is active, and satisfied only with what it can do, hence accustomed not to feel small stings.
Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect

While there's death, there's hope. 
On inheritance

All too many people who think they hit a home-run in life - started at third base.

Whosoever plants a tree
Winks at immortality
Felix Dennis

A married couple should be the guardians of each other's solitude.
Rilke

A definition of eternity: two people and a ham.

When we ask advice we are usually looking for an accomplice.
Charles Varlet de La Gra

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.
Blaise Pascal

It is well, when one is judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality.
Arnold Bennett

When you don't have money you can't say where it's coming from; when you have money, you don't know where it's going to.
Countess Rostov in War and Peace

The rich think that love makes the world go round; the poor know it's money.

The international space station
http://www.youtube.com/embed/lrGQEgAmgWk

The approval presents me with the opportunity to create a balanced and logically laid-out family home, whilst restoring the architectural heritage of the building and also incorporating modern-day features and facilities.”
fair. John Caudwell, the mobile phone entrepreneur on being granted planning permission to add a 10,000 sq ft linking basement to his existing 40,000 sq ft house in Mayfair. Has he had an irony bypass?
       
I am king of the Romans and above grammar
Sigismund of Hungary

Never speak ill of yourself; your friends will always say enough on that subject.
She is such a good friend that she would throw all her acquaintances into the water for the pleasure of fishing them out again.
Talleyrand

No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Illness is the doctor to whom we pay most heed; to kindness, to knowledge, we make promises only; pain we obey.
Marcel Proust

Martin Amis being interviewed at a literary festival.

"You get ugly when you get old. It’s all perfectly simple. In fact I can tell you how it’s going to go. Everything seems fine until you’re about 40. Then something is definitely beginning to go wrong. And you look in the mirror with your old habit of thinking, “While I accept that everyone grows old and dies, it’s a funny thing, but I’m an exception to that rule.”

Then it becomes a full-time job trying to convince yourself that it’s true. And you can actually feel your youth depart. In your mid-forties when you look in the mirror this idea that you’re an exception evaporates.

Then, you think life is going to get thinner and thinner until it dwindles into nothing. But a very strange thing happens to you, a very good thing happens to you, in your early fifties, and I’m assuming – this is what novelists do, they assume their case is typical: a poet can’t be typical about anything, but a novelist is an everyman, and an innocent and literary being – but you assume that how you feel is how everyone feels, and it’s like discovering another continent on the globe.

What happens is you’re suddenly visited by the past, and it’s like a huge palace in your mind, and you can go and visit all these different rooms and staircases and chambers. It’s particularly the erotic, the amatory past. And if you have children they somehow are very present in this palace of the past.

I say to my sons (I don’t say it to my daughters), “When you’re having an affair, keep notes. Hold it in the fist of your soul. Try and remember everything about it, because this is what you’re going to need when you’re old. You’re going to need these rooms, with a girl in each one.”

Nabokov said the big difference between people is those who sleep well, and those who don’t. And Nabokov was of course a champion insomniac. He has a lovely line in a late novella which is, “Night is always a giant but this one was especially terrible.”

Zadie Smith says that people divide into the organised and the disorganised. And she’s disorganised. But my father, Kingsley Amis, said that a huge division is between those who have a good time with the opposite sex, and those who don’t. And you will know in your early fifties how that balance sheet works.

Just to go a little bit later, because I’m 62 now... Another feeling comes on you when you’re 60, which can be expressed by the thought, “This can’t turn out well.” And that’s the bit I’m at at the moment. And really that’s the arrival of fear. In my case not fear of death, but fear of getting there.

So to go back to your question, yes you do look back with wonder at your youth, and you know all youth is automatically beautiful in a way. It’s said that youth is wasted on the young, and that’s perhaps true because you don’t feel your beauty until it’s gone.

It is like being as isolated as a man who failed to get onto the Titanic
Terry Smith on being out of the eurozone

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

Reading Edward St Aubyn has been likened to eating chocolate-covered scorpions. Delicious.
 

With her curling blond hair and her slender limbs and her beautiful clothes, Inez was alluring in an obvious way, and yet it was easy enough to see that her slightly protruding blue eyes were blank screens of self-love on which a small selection of fake emotions was allowed to flicker. She made rather haphazard impersonations of someone who has relationships with others. Based on the gossip of her courtiers, a diet of Hollywood movies and the projection of her own cunning calculations, these guesses might be sentimental or nasty, but were always vulgar and melodramatic. Since she hadn’t the least interest in the answer, she was inclined to ask, “How are you?” with great gravity, at least half a dozen times. She was often exhausted by the thought of how generous she was, whereas the exhaustion really stemmed from the strain of not giving away anything at all.

As a guest, Emily Price had three main drawbacks: she was incapable of saying please, incapable of saying thank you, and incapable of saying sorry, all the while creating a surge in the demand for these expressions.

A celebrity these days is somebody you’ve never heard of . . . just as j’arrive is what a French waiter says as he hurries away from you in a Paris cafĂ©.

Above all, he wanted to stop being a child without using the cheap disguise of being a parent.


You start reading a novel with no idea where this thing is going to go; you should finish it feeling that it could have gone no other way.
Penelope Lively

The  Washington Post's Mensa Invitational invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
 

1. Cashtration (n.):  The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4.Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign  of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti :  Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease.

11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending  off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.):  The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you!

13. Glibido : All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic  Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.):  Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The colour you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj.   Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj.  Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8.  Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief  that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

9. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

10. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.
 
I didn't know then, of course, that trial separations are nearly always a great success.
Martin Amis

Chess is the conflict between the pain of thinking and the pain of losing.

Everyone's got a plan - until they get punched in the throat.
Mike Tyson

A bachelor is a guy who never made the same mistake once.
Phylis Diller

Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.
Max Frisch

Lord Kitchener had four dogs called Shot, Bang, Miss and Damn.

Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.
Schopenhauer

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw

Quinlan Terry’s villas are exterior decoration of the age of Cecil Parkinson.
Jonathan Meads

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln
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