Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quotations #099, and best wishes

"The utilitarian or servile arts enable one to be a servant - of another person, of the state, of a corporation, or of a business - and to earn a living. The liberal arts, in contrast, teach one how to live; they train the faculties and bring them to perfection; they enable a person to rise above his material environment to live an intellectual, a rational, and therefore a free life in gaining truth." -- Sister Miriam Joseph, C.S.C., Ph.D., The Trivium (1937)

"It should be known that history, in matter of fact, is information about human social organization, which itself is identical with world civilization. It deals with such conditions affecting the nature of civilization as, for instance, savagery and sociability, group feelings, and the different ways by which one group of human beings achieves superiority over another. It deals with royal authority and ... with the different kinds of gainful occupations and ways of making a living, with the sciences and crafts that human beings pursue as part of their activities and efforts, and with all the other institutions that originate in civilization through its very nature." -- Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (d. 1406) The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, (trans. Franz Rosenthal, Routledge 1958) v. 1, p. 71, cited in Civilization (11e), 217.

"The future's an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it." -- Milan Kundera

"The lust for money may be distasteful, the desire for power ignoble, but neither will drive its devotees to the criminal excess of an idea on the march. Whether the idea is the triumph of the working class or of a master race, ideology leads to the graveyard." -- Corey Robin (London Review of Books)

"After a while, marriage is a sibling relationship - marked by occasional, and rather regrettable, episodes of incest." -- Martin Amis, Yellow Dog

"Manure is worth more than a man with a doctorate." -- Polish nobleman Anzelm Gostomski, Gospodarstwo [1588], cited by J. R. McNeill, "Bridges: World Environmental History: the First 100,000 Years," Historically Speaking (July/August 2007), p. 7.

Note: This concludes my regular miscellaneous quotation collection, which was the very origin of this blog. I'm not going away, nor have I run out of quotables, really. I have a series of quotations from John Tosh's Historians on History which I still have in the queue. Next year.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2008!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Verses: The Nurse's Song

We've been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl. After an evening of reading political blogs and contemplating our present predicament, my spouse suggested this as a suitable poetic offering. I agree. This was published in 1972, so it was written when Bush hadn't even started going AWOL yet. And, despite this warning, here we are.

You can find a plot summary to put it in context here, and I stole the text from here.

The Nurse's Song

This mighty man of whom I sing,
The greatest of them all,
Was once a teeny little thing,
Just eighteen inches tall.

I knew him as a tiny tot,
I nursed him on my knee.
I used to sit him on the pot
And wait for him to wee.

I always washed between his toes,
And cut his little nails.
I brushed his hair and wiped his nose
And weighed him on the scales.

Through happy childhood days he strayed,
As all nice children should.
I smacked him when he disobeyed,
And stopped when he was good.

It soon began to dawn on me
He wasn't very bright,
Because when he was twenty-three
He couldn't read or write.

"What shall we do?" his parents sob.
"The boy has got the vapors!
He couldn't even get a job
Delivering the papers!"

"Ah-ha," I said, "this little clot
Could be a politician."
"Nanny," he cried, "Oh Nanny, what
A super proposition!"

"Okay," I said, "let's learn and note
The art of politics.
Let's teach you how to miss the boat
And how to drop some bricks,
And how to win the people's vote
And lots of other tricks.

Let's learn to make a speech a day
Upon the T.V. screen,
In which you never never say
Exactly what you mean.
And most important, by the way,
In not to let your teeth decay,
And keep your fingers clean."

And now that I am eighty nine,
It's too late to repent.
The fault was mine the little swine
Became the President.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Quiz: Viva La Resistance, Viva La Flavors

You scored as France, Free French and the Resistance. Your army is the French army. You are prefer to win your enemies by politics than by sheer action, but when the war has started you will fight to the end with those resources you have and belive in freedom and victory in the end.
France, Free French and the Resistance
United States
British and the Commonwealth
Soviet Union

In which World War 2 army you should have fought?
created with QuizFarm.com [via]

You are Magneto
Dr. Doom
Lex Luthor
Mr. Freeze
The Joker
Poison Ivy
Dark Phoenix
Green Goblin
You fear the persecution of those that are different or underprivileged so much that you are willing to fight and hurt others for your cause.
Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz [via]

You Are a Caramel Crunch Donut
You're a complex creature, and you're guilty of complicating things for fun. You've been known to sit around pondering the meaning of life... Or at times, pondering the meaning of your doughnut. To frost or not to frost? To fill or not to fill? These are your eternal questions.

Your Score: Salt

You scored 25% intoxication, 0% hotness, 50% complexity, and 0% craziness!

You are Salt! You may be bland, but life just wouldn't be the same without you. You're plentiful and you come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. You bring out the flavour in whatever you touch and have been the world's best preservative for millennia. You rock.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test [via]

There's an interesting continuity between the French Resistance and Magneto results. The donut result can only be described as an abstraction, because I'm a honey-glazed chocolate (or anything fresh) devotee.