Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gone fishing

"It is said that Charles II., wishing to make sport with the Royal Society, at its first establishment, proposed to the Members to inquire the reason why a dead fish was so much heavier than the same fish when alive just before. Many learned essays were immediately written to prove that the thing was a matter of course, and showing the reasons why it was so; but at length it occurred to one of the disputants to verify the fact, and he soon found that the dead fish and the living one were both of the same weight!"

-Mechanics' Magazine - Vol. XV, No. 395, March 5, 1831

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Without supernatural aid...

Once, when he had behaved with particular rudeness to a young French intellectual at a dinner party in Paris at the home of Nancy Mitford, Miss Mitford, angry at his social brutality, asked him how he could behave so meanly and yet consider himself a believing and practicing Catholic.

"You have no idea," Waugh returned, "how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being."

-Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes (quoting a story about Evelyn Waugh related by Joseph Epstein)

[Something to remember when we see Christians not acting so Christlike is that perhaps they are still much, much better than they otherwise would be if they had not God's grace working in their lives so much.]

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Poetic license" is the freedom allowed to writers for achieving literary effects by deviating from facts, conventional logic, or standard grammar and spelling.

"Political license" is the freedom allowed to politicians to make statements deviating from facts, logic, principle, or consistency to achieve electoral effects. Although sanctioned for politicians by long practice, this freedom is denied to ordinary mortals. When they say something silly, they expose themselves to immediate contradiction, derision or rude guffaws.

-John Frary

via John Wright

Sunday, December 2, 2012

“The idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this and every country but his own.”

—W.S.Gilbert, The Lord High Executioner’s Song

[Well, the past century hasn't exactly been anything to be enthusiastic about, but even then there is a truth to the statement. But it's the last part of the sentence I find highly relevant in many contexts.]