"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

"In the present century we have amassed a formidable list of 'rights' never heard of before. I think it is true to say that only an inferior person has rights. When you hear a person talking about his rights, you may be sure he is trying to gain by dint of shouting something which he lacks (or had and lost) by reason of some culpable deficiency in himself. You never hear successful men talking about their rights."

[rights: Flann OBrien, The Best of Myles]

Posted by Daniel on 08.19.2008

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"The experimenters created a meaningless lecture on "Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education," larded with double talk, neologisms, non sequiturs, and contradictions. Fox delivered this nonsense to three separate audiences of medical professionals, psychologists, and graduate students, but with humor and a pleasant and confident air. The evaluations were overwhelmingly positive."

[Dr Fox effect: Simon Blackburn, The New Republic]

Posted by Daniel on 08.12.2008

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"Every generation holds every variety of individual. But I will not be given lessons on self-abnegation from Facebookers. The history of vanity has never seen anything quite like them. And I must morbidly warn them that connectivity will not protect them from the way of all flesh. When they come to bury a father or a friend, when their beauty begins to wither and their vigor to wane, when they awake one morning to the fear that they may have more to look back on than to look forward to--when the inevitabilities poke them, may their eight hundred "friends" stand them in good stead."

[grumpy old manliness: Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic]

Posted by Daniel on 08.09.2008

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"Practice even at the things which you despair of accomplishing. For even the left hand, which is ineffectual for all other things for want of practice, holds the bridle more vigorously than the right hand; for it has been practiced in this."

[practice: Marcus Aurelius, Meditations]

Posted by Daniel on 08.06.2008

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"What can the well-disposed chap who's still on the booze do for his chum who's off it? Well, the first thing the chum doesn't need is a full-dress, Security Council-type discussion on why he's off it, how long for, etc., every time he asks for his Slimline on the rocks."

[not drinking: Kinglsey Amis, Everyday Drinking]

Posted by Daniel on 08.04.2008

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"The lot of man is ceaseless labour,/or ceaseless idleness, which is still harder,/or irregular labour, which is not pleasant."

[labor, idleness: T.S. Eliot, The Rock]

Posted by Daniel on 08.04.2008

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After seeing Lithuanian Catholic prisoners fashion rosaries out of beads made from chewed bread, he asked them to make a similar chain for him, but with more beads. In his hands, each bead came to represent a passage that he would repeat to himself until he could say it without hesitation. Only then would he move on to the next bead. He later wrote that by the end of his prison term, he had committed to memory 12,000 lines in this way.

[memory: Michael T. Kaufman, NY Times obit (Solszhenitsyn)]

Posted by Daniel on 08.04.2008

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“There’s a Stalinist in each of you; there’s even a Stalinist in me. We must root out this evil.”

[candid introspection: Nikita Khruschev, NY Times obit (Solszhenitsyen)]

Posted by Daniel on 08.04.2008

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"A night owl, Ms. Argerich claims that she learned Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 by osmosis, while sleeping during the day in the same room where her roommate practiced."

[osmosis: Vivien Schweitzer, NY Times]

Posted by Daniel on 08.03.2008

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"Target panic, as the condition is known, causes crack shots to suddenly lose control of their bows and their composure. Mysteriously, sufferers start releasing the bow the instant they see the target, sabotaging any chance of a gold-medal shot. Others freeze up and cannot release at all ... sufferers might actually have a problem called focal dystonia, a common affliction of musicians caused when the neurons that guide a particular movement -- be it aiming a bow or sinking a putt -- become worn from overuse."

[target panic: Katie Thomas, NY Times]

Posted by Daniel on 08.01.2008

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"There is an effort in Japan to cut down on deaths from overwork, known as "karoshi." Such deaths have steadily increased since the Health Ministry first recognized the phenomenon in 1987."

[work: yahoo, yahoo.com]

Posted by Daniel on 07.22.2008

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"A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell and actually make you look forward to the journey."

[diplomacy: Dan Gillerman, NY Times Magazine, July 20 2008]

Posted by Daniel on 07.21.2008

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"Japanese scientists studying macaques on the island of Koshima, he wrote, found that members of the colony took to washing sweet potatoes left by the researchers before eating them. When enough macaques engaged in this behavior -- say, 99 -- the addition of one more monkey would create a critical mass, and the practice spread not only throughout the tribe but also, telepathically it seemed, to colonies on other islands."

[hundredth monkey theory: William Grimes, Lyall Watson obit, NY Times 7/21/08]

Posted by Daniel on 07.21.2008

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"...in Iran a guest is accorded the highest status, the sweetest piece of fruit, the most comfortable place to sit. It's part of a complex system of ritual politeness--taarof--that governs the subtext of life here. Hospitality, courting, family affairs, political negotiations; taarof is the unwritten code for how people should treat each other. The word has an Arabic root, arafa, meaning to know or acquire knowledge of. But the idea of taarof ... is Persian in origin ... described as "fighting for the lower hand," but in an exquisitely elegant way, making it possible, in a hierarchical society like Iran's, "for people to paradoxically deal with each other as equals.""

[politeness: Marguerite del Guidice, National Geographic August 2008]

Posted by Daniel on 07.20.2008

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"An obsessive corrector, Gorky would sit for hours with a blue pencil annotating manuscripts -- his own and everyone else's. Finishing a newspaper, he would cover the pages with additions and alterations, then throw it away. A conservative group once sent him a rope noose and a threatening note. He threw out the noose and corrected the note in blue pencil, so that the rabid ideas remained but were expressed more clearly."

[Gorky, editing: Alexander Nemser, The New Republic, "Low Truths," July 30 2008]

Posted by Daniel on 07.19.2008

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