Malcolm Muggeridge

Another disastrous concept is the pursuit of happiness, a last?minute improvisation in the American Declaration of Independence, substituted for the defense of Property. Happiness pursued cannot be caught, and if it could, it would not be happiness.

7 May 2018 | 21:02 | No Comments


C S Lewis

To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?

16 April 2018 | 7:35 | No Comments


Czeslaw Milosz

Gift

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no man worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man didn’t embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
On straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

15 April 2018 | 8:49 | No Comments


T S Eliot

I must tell you that I should really like to think there’s something wrong with me – Because, if there isn’t, then there’s something wrong with the world itself – and that’s much more frightening! That would be terrible. So I’d rather believe there is something wrong with me, that could be put right.

12 April 2018 | 8:02 | No Comments


Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Shower upon him every earthly blessing, drown him in bliss so that nothing but bubbles would dance on the surface of his bliss, as on a sea…and even then every man, out of sheer ingratitude, sheer libel, would play you some loathsome trick. He would even risk his cakes and would deliberately desire the most fatal rubbish, the most uneconomical absurdity, simply to introduce into all this positive rationality his fatal fantastic element…simply in order to prove to himself that men still are men and not piano keys.

11 April 2018 | 18:07 | No Comments


Jordan Peterson

The thing about wisdom is it stops you running face first into walls.

10 April 2018 | 8:18 | No Comments


Horatio Nelson

Close with a Frenchman, but out-maneuver a Russian.

6 April 2018 | 15:27 | No Comments


Richard Rohr

…all metaphors by necessity walk with a limp.

1 April 2018 | 18:32 | No Comments


Margaret Atwood

In spring at the end of the day you should smell like dirt.

29 March 2018 | 18:44 | No Comments


Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

For the average person, all problems date to World War II; for the more informed, to World War I; for the genuine historian, to the French Revolution.

28 March 2018 | 20:28 | No Comments


Ken Dodd

Ken Dodd on Parkinson: “If you tell a joke in Glasgow, they laugh. In Birmingham, they don’t.”
Parkinsons: “Why’s that?”
Ken Dodd: “They can’t hear it.”

12 March 2018 | 11:45 | No Comments


Henry George

Blockading squadrons are a means whereby nations prevent their enemies from trading; protective tariffs are a means whereby nations prevent their own people from trading. Protection does to us in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war.

9 March 2018 | 19:33 | No Comments


Wendy Cope

on poetry…

It’s anecdotal evidence
About the human heart.

5 March 2018 | 18:12 | No Comments


George Macdonald

The one principle of hell is — “I am my own!”

28 February 2018 | 22:42 | No Comments


T S Eliot

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss

26 February 2018 | 20:08 | No Comments


Robert A Heinlein

Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it

25 February 2018 | 17:29 | No Comments


Samuel Johnson

Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at a very small expense. The power of invention has been conferred by nature upon few, and the labour of learning those sciences which by mere labour be obtained is too great to be willingly endured; but every man can exert such judgment as he has upon the works of others; and he whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a critick.

23 February 2018 | 19:28 | No Comments


Billy Graham

Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.

21 February 2018 | 18:57 | 1 Comment


Sir Thomas More

It is possible to live for the next life and still be merry in this.

20 February 2018 | 0:13 | No Comments


Carl Jung

Beware of unearned wisdom

19 February 2018 | 19:34 | No Comments


Tony Benn

Never give your audience your second best speech.

advice to Daniel Hannan shortly before he stood for his first election

17 February 2018 | 23:04 | No Comments


Albert Maysles

Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance.

15 February 2018 | 17:33 | No Comments


Fyodor Dostoevsky

They fight and fight and fight; they are fighting now, they fought before, and they’ll fight in the future … So you see, you can say anything about world history … Except one thing, that is. It cannot be said that world history is reasonable.

10 February 2018 | 12:45 | No Comments


Marcus Aurelius

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me.

1 February 2018 | 16:26 | No Comments


Thomas More

One of the greatest problems of our time is that many are schooled but few are educated.

31 January 2018 | 22:18 | No Comments


Friedrich Nietzsche

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

30 January 2018 | 10:45 | 1 Comment


Only

She told him that she loved him

Only she told him that she loved him
She only told him that she loved him
She told only him that she loved him
She told him only that she loved him
She told him that only she loved him
She told him that she only loved him
She told him that she loved only him
She told him that she loved him only

29 January 2018 | 6:56 | No Comments


Richard Rorty (1998)

…members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots…

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion… …All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

28 January 2018 | 6:34 | No Comments


Assar Lindbeck

In many cases, rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city — except for bombing

27 January 2018 | 10:23 | No Comments


Arthur Ransome

The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting-place.

26 January 2018 | 7:06 | No Comments


Freeman Dyson

The conservative has little to fear from the man whose reason is the servant of his passions, but let him beware of him in whom reason has become the greatest and most terrible of passions. These are the wreckers of outworn empires.

25 January 2018 | 9:05 | No Comments


Michael Oakeshott

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.

24 January 2018 | 15:05 | No Comments


Leo Tolstoy

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.

23 January 2018 | 14:54 | No Comments


Jordan Peterson

In answer to the question “What are the most valuable things everyone should know?”

Tell the truth.
Do not do things that you hate.
Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act.
Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.
If you have to choose, be the one who does things, instead of the one who is seen to do things.
Pay attention.
Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know. Listen to them hard enough so that they will share it with you.
Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships.
Be careful who you share good news with.
Be careful who you share bad news with.
Make at least one thing better every single place you go.
Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at that.
Do not allow yourself to become arrogant or resentful.
Try to make one room in your house as beautiful as possible.
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
Work as hard as you possibly can on at least one thing and see what happens.
If old memories still make you cry, write them down carefully and completely.
Maintain your connections with people.
Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or artistic achievement.
Treat yourself as if you were someone that you are responsible for helping.
Ask someone to do you a small favour, so that he or she can ask you to do one in the future.
Make friends with people who want the best for you.
Do not try to rescue someone who does not want to be rescued, and be very careful about rescuing someone who does.
Nothing well done is insignificant.
Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
Dress like the person you want to be.
Be precise in your speech.
Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
Don’t avoid something frightening if it stands in your way — and don’t do unnecessarily dangerous things.
Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
Do not transform your wife into a maid.
Do not hide unwanted things in the fog.
Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated.
Read something written by someone great.
Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.
Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
Don’t let bullies get away with it.
Write a letter to the government if you see something that needs fixing — and propose a solution.
Remember that what you do not yet know is more important than what you already know.
Be grateful in spite of your suffering.

22 January 2018 | 13:29 | No Comments


Meister Eckhart

God is like a person who clears his throat while hiding and so gives himself away.

21 January 2018 | 9:39 | No Comments


Herodotus

Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give lustre, and many more people see than weigh.

20 January 2018 | 7:42 | No Comments


Robert Quillen

Self-written “Obituary”

He was a writer of paragraphs and short editorials. He always hoped to write something of permanent value, but the business of making a living took most of his time and he never got around to it. In his youth he felt an urge to reform the world, but during the latter years of his life he decided that he would be doing rather well if he kept himself out of jail. … When the last clod had fallen, workmen covered the grave with a granite slab bearing the inscription: “Submitted to the Publisher by Robert Quillen.”

19 January 2018 | 11:11 | No Comments


Arthur Ransome

They found, like many explorers before them, that somehow, in their absence, they had got into trouble at home.

17 January 2018 | 21:07 | No Comments


Freeman Dyson

Fifty years ago Kurt Gödel… proved that the world of pure mathematics is inexhaustible. … I hope that the notion of a final statement of the laws of physics will prove as illusory as the notion of a formal decision process for all mathematics. If it should turn out that the whole of physical reality can be described by a finite set of equations, I would be disappointed, I would feel that the Creator had been uncharacteristically lacking in imagination.

16 January 2018 | 1:13 | No Comments


Michael Oakeshott

Poetry is a sort of truancy, a dream within the dream of life, a wild flower planted among our wheat.

15 January 2018 | 12:18 | No Comments


Michael Sandel

We have heard a lot about anger against elites – and I think that anger has a certain shape it’s an anger at the meritocratic hubris of those on top who have inhaled quite deeply of their success who are pretty confident that they deserve to have landed on top and by implication that those who are disadvantaged deserve their place as well, there is something galling, insulting, humiliating about the meritocratic hubris and leads those on top to a certain kind of smugness to look across the distribution of income and wealth and power and opportunities and to conclude that they are on top because they deserve to be.

14 January 2018 | 14:33 | No Comments


John F Kennedy

For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

13 January 2018 | 17:21 | No Comments


G K Chesterton

There is, perhaps, in our world a little too much of the practice of poring over new ideas until they become old. We require a little of the practice of poring over old ideas until they become new.

8 January 2018 | 21:33 | No Comments


Daniel Hannan

When the esteem of our peers matters more than the opinion of strangers, we start looking for traitors rather than converts, striving to outdo one another in the intensity of our rage.

7 January 2018 | 21:36 | No Comments


@Nicole_Cliffe

We were all rich. There are not two kinds of rich people. All rich people are the same. You give it all away and cease being rich, or you don’t. Jesus was no idiot.

5 January 2018 | 21:23 | No Comments


Rowan Williams

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

24 December 2017 | 0:54 | No Comments


Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart to Steve a drystone waller: How much can you build in a day
Steve: A good drystone waller can build four metres in a day. A bad waller can build six.

21 November 2017 | 10:38 | No Comments


Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord

I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

6 November 2017 | 13:06 | No Comments


Robert Pirosh

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?

Robert Pirosh

15 years before he won a best original screenplay Oscar

22 October 2017 | 16:36 | No Comments


Isidor Isaac Rabi

My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: So? Did you learn anything today? But not my mother. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist.

13 October 2017 | 20:57 | No Comments


A A Gill

Boris…is without doubt the very worst putative politician I’ve ever seen in action…and I can’t think of a higher compliment.

7 October 2017 | 9:28 | No Comments


George Bernard Shaw

response to receiving and draft of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Confound you and your book: you are no more to be trusted with a pen than a child with a torpedo.

6 October 2017 | 20:25 | No Comments


Bertrand Russell

Dear Sir Oswald,

Thank you for your letter and for your enclosures. I have given some thought to our recent correspondence. It is always difficult to decide on how to respond to people whose ethos is so alien and, in fact, repellent to one’s own. It is not that I take exception to the general points made by you but that every ounce of my energy has been devoted to an active opposition to cruel bigotry, compulsive violence, and the sadistic persecution which has characterised the philosophy and practice of fascism.

I feel obliged to say that the emotional universes we inhabit are so distinct, and in deepest ways opposed, that nothing fruitful or sincere could ever emerge from association between us.

I should like you to understand the intensity of this conviction on my part. It is not out of any attempt to be rude that I say this but because of all that I value in human experience and human achievement.

Yours sincerely,

Bertrand Russell

30 September 2017 | 22:09 | No Comments


William Stafford

Vacation

One scene as I bow to pour her coffee:-

Three Indians in the scouring drouth
Huddle at the grave scooped in the gravel,
Lean to the wind as our train goes by.
Someone is gone.
There is dust on everything in Nevada.

I pour the cream.

29 September 2017 | 7:45 | No Comments


Robert Hayden

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

17 September 2017 | 20:15 | No Comments


Marquis de Favras

Last words after reading his death sentence before being hanged

I see that you have made 3 spelling mistakes.

16 September 2017 | 12:40 | No Comments


Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Risk as Virtue
Finally, when young people who “want to help mankind” come to me, asking: “What should I do? I want to reduce poverty, save the world” and similar noble aspirations at the macro-level. My suggestion is:
1) never engage in virtue signaling;
2) never engage in rent seeking;
3) you must start a business. Take risks, start a business.
Yes, take risk, and if you get rich (what is optional) spend your money generously on others. We need people to take (bounded) risks. The entire idea is to move these kids away from the macro, away from abstract universal aims, that social engineering that bring tail risks to society. Doing business will always help; institutions may help but they are equally likely to harm (I am being optimistic; I am certain that except for a few most do end up harming).
Risk is the highest virtue.

4 September 2017 | 20:25 | No Comments


Alexander Pope

Men dream of courtship, but in wedlock wake.

12 August 2017 | 21:09 | No Comments


John Selden

Equity is a roguish thing. For Law we have a measure, know what to trust to; Equity is according to the conscience of him that is Chancellor, and as that is larger or narrower, so is Equity. ‘T is all one as if they should make the standard for the measure we call a “foot” a Chancellor’s foot; what an uncertain measure would this be!

28 July 2017 | 10:38 | No Comments


Ronald Reagan

The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.

30 June 2017 | 19:48 | No Comments


Bismarck

Politics is gambling for high stakes with other people’s money… Politics is a job that can be compared with navigation in uncharted waters. One has no idea how the weather or the currents will be or what storms one is in for. In politics, there is the added fact that one is largely dependent on the decisions of others, decisions on which one was counting and which then do not materialise; one’s actions are never completely one’s own. And if the friends on whose support one is relying change their minds, which is something that one cannot vouch for, the whole plan miscarries… One’s enemies one can count on – but one’s friends!

12 June 2017 | 10:05 | No Comments


Marcus Tullius Cicero

Nothing is more fickle than people in a crowd, nothing harder to discover than how men intend to vote, nothing trickier than the whole way in which elections work.

8 June 2017 | 10:04 | No Comments


Upton Sinclair

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!

28 May 2017 | 15:32 | No Comments


Ludwig Wittgenstein

Does an ‘explanation’ make it any less impressive.

26 May 2017 | 21:38 | No Comments


Catherine Aird

If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.

24 May 2017 | 16:22 | No Comments


Thomas Jefferson

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.

14 May 2017 | 0:15 | No Comments


C S Lewis

If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work.

9 May 2017 | 22:38 | No Comments


Robert Conquest

Three Laws of Politics:

1) Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
2) Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
3) The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

8 May 2017 | 14:23 | No Comments


Alphonso X

Burn old logs
Drink old wine
Read old books
Keep old friends,

1 May 2017 | 20:29 | No Comments


Plato

This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.

12 April 2017 | 20:09 | No Comments


Edward Thomas

(on the centenary of his death at the Battle of Arras)

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

9 April 2017 | 12:54 | No Comments


Najwa Zebian

These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.

7 April 2017 | 22:46 | No Comments


Pablo Picasso

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

4 March 2017 | 16:30 | No Comments


Non Phonetic Alphabet

A as in Aisle
B as in Bdellium (the b is silent)
C as in Czar
D as in Djinn
E as in Eye
F as in Felinfoel (Welsh town, pronounced Velinfoe)
G as in Gnat
H as in Hour
I as in Irk (or Ian)
J as in Junta
K as in Know
L as in Llullaillaco (South American volcano pronounced Yu.Yai.Ya.ko)
M as in Mnemonic
N as in Ndebele
O as in One (or indeed Oestrogen or Ouija)
P as in Pneumatic (or indeed phonetic)
Q as in Quay
R as in Rzeznik (the polish pronunciation has a silent R)
S as in Szilard (or Sgraffitto)
T as in Tzar (it is an added bonus to have one word that represents two letters but if you think that might be confusing somehow you can use Tsunami instead) 
U as in Urn
V as in Veni vidi vici (each word pronounced with a w)
W as in Whole
X as in Xhosa
Y as in Yvonne (or Ylang Ylang)
Z as in Zhivago

bonus phonetic but confusing

A as in H
D as in W
E as in F, E, M, N or X
S as in C (Sea)
W and in Y (Why)
Y as in U (You)

17 February 2017 | 20:24 | No Comments


Enver Hoxha

This year will be harder than last year. On the other hand, it will be easier than next year.

7 January 2017 | 17:44 | No Comments


C S Lewis

You can begin as if nothing had ever gone wrong. White as snow.

1 January 2017 | 1:49 | No Comments


Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Everything before the “but” is meant to be ignored by the speaker; and everything after the “but” should be ignored by the listener.

1 January 2017 | 0:07 | No Comments


G K Chesterton

There were three things prefigured and promised by the gifts in the cave of Bethlehem concerning the Child who received them; that He should be crowned like a King: that He should be worshiped like a God; and that He should die like a man. And these things would sound like Eastern flattery, were it not for the third.

25 December 2016 | 23:58 | No Comments


Arkell v. Pressdram

29th April 1971

Dear Sir,

We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter.

Mr Arkell’s first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.

Yours,

(Signed)

Goodman Derrick & Co.

——————————

Dear Sirs,

We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr. J. Arkell.

We note that Mr Arkell’s attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.

Yours,

Private Eye

14 December 2016 | 19:03 | No Comments


@giles_fraser

Extraordinary that all the people who self-describe as “free thinking” on Twitter all think roughly the same thing.

11 December 2016 | 8:16 | No Comments


A A Gill

Freedom of speech is what all the other human rights and freedoms balance on. That may sound like unspeakable arrogance when applied to restaurant reviews or gossip columns. But that’s not the point. Journalism isn’t an individual sport like books and plays; it’s a team effort. The power of the press is cumulative. It has a conscious humming momentum. You can — and probably do — pick up bits of it and sneer or sigh or fling them with great force at the dog. But together they make up the most precious thing we own. “It’s all very well for him,” I hear you say, “on his high horse about freedom, but just look at the papers. They’re full of lies and gossip and laziness. The theory’s fine, the practice is disgusting.” Well, let’s just look at that. I don’t know what it is you do, what you make or sell, but consider this. Consider starting each morning with three or so dozen blank sheets of broadsheet paper. And then having to fill them with columns of facts, opinions based on facts and predictions extrapolated from facts. I don’t know how many facts a newspaper has in it. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Millions. From the Stock Market to TV listings by way of courtrooms, parliaments, disasters, wars, celebrity denials, births, deaths, horoscopes and the pictures to go with them. Now tell me, how long did your last annual general report take? Days? Weeks? And you had all that information to hand. How long did the last letter you wrote take? You just made that up. Newspapers are the size of long novels. They’re put together from around the globe from sources who lie, manipulate, want to sell things, hide things, spin things. Despite threats, injunctions, bullets, jails and non-returned phone calls, journalists do it every single day, from scratch. What’s amazing, what’s utterly staggering, is not the things papers get wrong, it’s just how much they get right. Your business, no other business, could guarantee the percentage of accuracy that a newspaper does. And what’s more, if you live in Britain, you don’t get just one, you have the choice of a dozen national papers. Oh, and a small boy will come and put it through your letter box before you’ve even got out of bed. Nothing, but nothing, makes me prouder than being a hack.

10 December 2016 | 17:46 | No Comments


Sam Goldwyn

on first seeing a sundial

What will they think of next?

6 December 2016 | 13:30 | No Comments


Leonard Cohen

There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

11 November 2016 | 19:19 | No Comments


Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Virtue is what you do when nobody is looking. The rest is marketing.

30 October 2016 | 22:35 | No Comments


G K Chesterton

What we should try to do is make politics as local as possible. Keep the politicians near enough to kick them.

28 October 2016 | 19:56 | No Comments


Richard Ingrams

Editor of Private Eye giving evidence in a libel action against the magazine

The only things in Private Eye that aren’t true are the apologies.

3 September 2016 | 14:53 | No Comments


Croatian Proverb

All mushrooms are edible, but some only once.

31 August 2016 | 21:29 | No Comments


James Landale

On Boris’ first week at FCO

The foreign secretary spent much of the week looking rather like an old Labrador who has just flushed out a pheasant for the first time and is rather pleased with his unexpected success.
In contrast, his officials looked like children with a new bicycle that they can’t wait to take out for a ride but are worried they might crash.

23 July 2016 | 10:31 | No Comments


G K Chesterton

4 July 2016 | 0:15 | No Comments


Elie Wiesel

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

3 July 2016 | 0:30 | No Comments


Jonathan Swift

It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee house for the voice of a kingdom.

2 July 2016 | 20:00 | No Comments


Dominic Cummings

99% of expensive punditry is noise not signal, tune it out and think for yourself.

1 July 2016 | 17:34 | No Comments


John Gower

There are three things of such a sort that they produce merciless destruction when they get the upper hand one is a flood of water, another is a raging fire and the third is the lesser people, the common multitude; for they will not be stopped by either reason or by discipline.

25 June 2016 | 8:01 | No Comments


Brendan O’Neill

This is democracy in action, in all its messy, beautiful, order-upsetting glory. Behold the steadfastness of ordinary people, their willingness to act on their conviction even in the face of the threats and barbs of people with power. We hear a lot these days about how gullible the public is, how malleable are our putty-like minds, play-doh in the hands of demagogues. And yet yesterday, the people thought for themselves; they weighed things up and they decided to reject received wisdom and the Westminster / Washington / Brussels consensus. Such independence of spirit, such freedom of thought, is stirring.

24 June 2016 | 18:24 | No Comments


Tweet

@Michael1979

When you feel something is impossible, remind yourself that Leicester won the league.

But also that your thing is probably still impossible

2 May 2016 | 22:25 | No Comments


Freeman Dyson

My view of the prevalence of doom-and-gloom in Cambridge is that it is a result of the English class system. In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status. As a child of the academic middle class, I learned to look on the commercial middle class with loathing and contempt. Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher, which was also the revenge of the commercial middle class. The academics lost their power and prestige and the business people took over. The academics never forgave Thatcher and have been gloomy ever since

24 April 2016 | 0:34 | No Comments


Princess Elizabeth

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

21st April 1947

21 April 2016 | 22:14 | No Comments


Rumi

I choose to love you in silence…
For in silence I find no rejection,
I choose to love you in loneliness…
For in loneliness no one owns you but me,
I choose to adore you from a distance…
For distance will shield me from pain,
I choose to kiss you in the wind…
For the wind is gentler than my lips,
I choose to hold you in my dreams…
For in my dreams, you have no end…

23 March 2016 | 21:48 | No Comments


C. S. Lewis

What one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.

10 March 2016 | 23:21 | No Comments


G K Chesterton

I strongly object to wrong arguments on the right side. I think I object to them more than to the wrong arguments on the wrong side.

6 March 2016 | 0:01 | No Comments