From the perspective of the individual

From the perspective of the individual, it could be said that the single greatest difference between Russia and the West, both under Tsarism and Communism, was that in Western Europe citizens were generally free to do as they pleased so long as their activities had not been specifically prohibited by the state, while the people of Russia were not free to do anything unless the state had given them specific permission to do it. No subject of the Tsar, regardless of his rank or class, could sleep securely in his bed in the knowledge that his house would not be subject to a search, or he himself to arrest.

Orlando Figes, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891 – 1924


Expectation of a miracle is one of the weaknesses of the Russian people.

Nikolai Berdyaev

They are frightened

And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.

Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

The Moncada Barracks Attack

On the ninth anniversary celebration of the Moncada Barracks Attack, Castro gave a speech in Santiago stating that the only thing Cuba had to fear was a direct attack by the United States. At the same time, the Russians were off-loading men and equipment from ships at the small, hardly-noticed port of Mariel. They transported their equipment, mostly at night, into a thickly wooded area in the mountains near San Cristóbal, which was 26 miles away from the port and approximately 50 miles from Havana. The CIA received a report that a twenty-six foot missile had been seen being transported on Cuban Highway A 1.
This was twice the size of a SAM missile and the CIA deemed it highly unlikely that the Soviet Union would send offensive weapons of this size to Cuba. However, with the cold war in high gear, Khrushchev thought that he could change the balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union by placing missiles on Cuban soil. This operation was conducted in strict secrecy, with Castro reluctantly agreeing to it. Castro still felt that Cuba’s alliance with the Soviet’s was risky and that this was a negative compromise undermining Cuban autonomy. Their secret however became confirmed by an Air Force U 2 surveillance aircraft, sent on a reconnaissance mission, dispatched over the western part of the island.
The United States and the Soviet Union agreed on a deal. In return for pulling the Russian missiles out of Cuba the U.S. agreed to pull its missiles out of Turkey.”

Captain Hank Bracker

The really great writer

The really great writers are people like Emily Brontë who sit in a room and write out of their limited experience and unlimited imagination.

James A. Michener

I am always interested in why young people become writers

I am always interested in why young people become writers, and from talking with many I have concluded that most do not want to be writers working eight and ten hours a day and accomplishing little; they want to have been writers, garnering the rewards of having completed a best-seller. They aspire to the rewards of writing but not to the travail.

James A. Michener

About astrology and palmistry

About astrology and palmistry: they are good because they make people vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm.

Kurt Vonnegut

Under capitalism

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Death, be not proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so.
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow.

John Donne

Any man’s death

Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Any therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne

There are two kinds of people

There are two kinds of people who sit around all day thinking about killing people…mystery writers and serial killers. I’m the kind that pays better.

Richard Castle

Every conflict we face in life

Every conflict we face in life is rich with positive and negative potential. It can be a source of inspiration, enlightenment, learning, transformation, and growth — or rage, fear, shame, entrapment, and resistance. The choice is not up to our opponents, but to us, and our willingness to face and work through them.

Kenneth Cloke

What use could the humanities be

What use could the humanities be in a digital age? University students focusing on the humanities may end up, at least in their parents’ nightmares, as dog-walkers for those majoring in computer science. But, for me, the humanities are not only relevant but also give us a toolbox to think seriously about ourselves and the world.

Nicholas Kristof

The careful scholarship of the dedicated amateur mycophile

The careful scholarship of the dedicated amateur mycophile R. Gordon Wasson reads like an exciting scientific detective story. Moreover, his willingness to pursue the quest through the wide range of linguistics, archeology, folklore, philology, ethnobotany, plant ecology, human physiology, and prehistory constitutes an object lesson to all holistic professional students of man.

Weston La Barre

Definition of mycophile

a devotee of mushrooms especiallyone whose hobby is hunting wild edible mushrooms

First Known Use of mycophile: 1885

From Merriam Webster

Courses in prosody

Courses in prosody, rhetoric and comparative philology would be required of all students, and every student would have to select three courses out of courses in mathematics, natural history, geology, meteorology, archaeology, mythology, liturgics, cooking.

W. H. Auden

At the core of every moral code

At the core of every moral code there is a picture of human nature, a map of the universe, and a version of history. To human nature (of the sort conceived), in a universe (of the kind imagined), after a history (so understood), the rules of the code apply.

Walter Lippmann

Every man, wherever he goes

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.

Bertrand Russell

The single biggest problem

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

They say that abandonment

They say that abandonment is a wound that never heals. I say only that an abandoned child never forgets.

Mario Balotelli


Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.

Stephen Sondheim

But nothing of a nature foreign to the duties of my profession

But nothing of a nature foreign to the duties of my profession [clergyman] engaged my attention while I was at Leeds so much as the, prosecution of my experiments relating to electricity, and especially the doctrine of air. The last I was led into a consequence of inhabiting a house adjoining to a public brewery, where first amused myself with making experiments on fixed air [carbon dioxide] which found ready made in the process of fermentation. When I removed from that house, I was under the necessity making the fixed air for myself; and one experiment leading to another, as I have distinctly and faithfully noted in my various publications on the subject, I by degrees contrived a convenient apparatus for the purpose, but of the cheapest kind. When I began these experiments I knew very little of chemistry, and had in a manner no idea on the subject before I attended a course of chymical lectures delivered in the Academy at Warrington by Dr. Turner of Liverpool. But I have often thought that upon the whole, this circumstance was no disadvantage to me; as in this situation I was led to devise an apparatus and processes of my own, adapted to my peculiar views. Whereas, if I had been previously accustomed to the usual chemical processes, I should not have so easily thought of any other; and without new modes of operation I should hardly have discovered anything materially new.

Joseph Priestley

Priestly (1733-1804) invented carbonated water, argued with Lavoisier concerning the true nature of oxygen, wrote a noted book about English grammar and another titled The History and Present State of Electricity, 700 pages in length, which remained the principal history of electricity for over a century, plus Essay on the First Principles of Government. In this latter publication, Priestly distinguished political rights from civil rights with precision and argued for expansive civil rights. Priestley identified separate private and public spheres, contending that the government should have control only over the public sphere. Education and religion, in particular, he maintained, were matters of private conscience and should not be administered by the state.

A drug is a substance

A drug is a substance which, if injected into a rabbit, produces a paper.

Otto Loewi

Colonel Ross still wore an expression

Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor opinion which he had formed of my companion’s ability, but I saw by the inspector’s face that his attention had been keenly aroused.

“You consider that to be important?” he [Inspector Gregory] asked.

“Exceedingly so.”

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Inspector Gregory and Sherlock Holmes in “Silver Blaze”

Good heavens!

“Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?”

“They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

“You horrify me!”

“But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.”

Sherlock Holmes in “The Copper Beeches”

I belong to the most ancient empire on this globe

I belong to the most ancient empire on this globe. You, by your own statement, belong to the most dependent and ill-treated nation of serfs ever deprived of its liberties. The flag of my country floats over the third greatest navy in the world. Yours is to be seen derisively displayed on the 17th of March in the public streets and triumphantly hoisted on an occasional gin-mill. The ambassadors and consuls of my nation rank at every court in Europe with those of Russia, Germany, England and France. Those of your race may be found cooling their heels in the lobbies of any common council in which the rum-selling interest in politics predominates. The race which I represent is centuries old in every art and science. That of which you are the spokesman apologizes for its present ignorance and mental obscurity with the plea that your learning and literature are lost in the mythical past.

Wong Chin Foo, On Wong’s Chinese vs. Denis Kearney’s Irish (1883)


Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.

Joseph Campbell

A children’s story

A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.

C.S. Lewis

You can find magic

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book!

Dr. Seuss

I am the wealthiest man

I am the wealthiest man, not just in Europe, but in the whole world. I collect emotions. I am wealthy in that the people of Russia have twice entrusted me with the leadership of a great nation such as Russia – I believe that is my greatest wealth.

Vladimir Putin


Stalin is the most popular figure in all of Russia.

Vladimir Putin

Russia will not soon become

Russia will not soon become, if it ever becomes, a second copy of the United States or England – where liberal value have deep historic roots.

Vladimir Putin

It is sad, yet joyful

It is sad, yet joyful, on a silent summer’s night, in a voiceless wood, to hear a Russian song. Here we find unlimited sadness without hope. Here, also is unconquerable strength and the unalterable stamp of Fate; here, also is iron predestination, one of the primitive foundations of the Russian national identity, through which much can be explained which seemed inexplicable in Russian life.

Alexei K. Tolstoy

A difficult problem presents itself ceaselessly

A difficult problem presents itself ceaselessly to the Russian – the problem of organizing his vast territory. The immensity of Russia, the absence of boundaries, was expressed in the structure of the Russian soul. The landscape of the Russian soul corresponds with the landscape of Russia, the same boundlessness, formlessness, reaching out into infinity.

Nikolai Berdyaev


Florida isn’t so much a place where one goes to reinvent oneself, as it is a place where one goes if one no longer wished to be found.

Douglas Copeland

August in Florida is God’s way of reminding us who’s in charge.

Blaize Clement

The Florida in my novels is not as seedy as the real Florida. It’s hard to stay ahead of the curve. Every time I write a scene that I think is the sickest thing I have ever dreamed up, it is surpassed by something that happens in real life.

Carl Hiaasen

When people ask how close to the beach I am, I say, “12 minutes or 12 hours. Depends on which beach you want to go to.

Jarod Kintz

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that’s the law.

Jerry Seinfeld

Florida is so hot that when old people retire and move to Florida it’s because they want to start practicing for Hell.


I like Florida… everything is in the 80’s… the temperatures, the ages and the IQ’s.

George Carlin

Labour once spent

Labour once spent has no influence on the future value of any article; it is gone and lost for ever. In commerce bygones are forever bygones; and we are always starting clear at each moment, judging the values of things with a view to future utility.

William Stanley Jevons