“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” W. Somerset Maugham, January 25, 1874 – December 16, 1965
I whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.
One thing is that I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs, in different degrees of certainty, about different things. But I’m not absolutely sure of anything and of many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit, if I can’t figure it out, then I go onto something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.
Richard P. Feynman
Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.
One of my favorite albums — Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison — was released on this date in 1968. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have […]
History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.
“A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.”
One of my favorite quotes was first published two hundred and thirty-seven years ago today:
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number I — December 18, 1776
Ernest Hemingway, 1924, in a letter to Ezra Pound
I was born not knowing, and have only had a little time to change that here and there.
Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988)
I am increasingly convinced that a tremendous amount of yin and yang is important to a successful marriage. My wife and I have dramatically different opinions about dining, for example: She lives to eat. I eat to live. If you were to give each of us an hour to decide what we wanted for a […]
Jokes are democratic. Telling one right has nothing to do with having money or being educated. It’s a knack, like hammering a nail straight. Anyone can learn it, and it’s useful in all sorts of situations. You can go your whole life and not need math or physics for a minute, but the ability to tell a joke is always handy.
Five of my favorite lines from the movie Bull Durham:
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, 1964
“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Then there is the other secret. There isn’t any symbolysm. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.”
Ernest Hemingway, 1952, in a letter to Bernard Berenson
For a few months this summer I was a Birchbox member. It’s a pretty cool service. For $20/mo you get a little box full of samples of hair products, shampoo, soap, and other toiletries, and then they also include something interesting like a pair of sunglasses or a wallet or an iPhone cable. The last […]
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday’s Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee […]
I’ve been reading Gregg Easterbrook for more than fifteen years. He writes the Tuesday Morning Quarterback (TMQ) column for ESPN. (He has also written for Slate and The Atlantic Monthly, and many other publications. And he’s a very good author.) Every Tuesday morning during the NFL season, Easterbrook delivers incredibly detailed analysis of (almost) every […]