The ultimate version of Google

Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. We’re nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on.

Larry Page

The free soul is rare

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.

Charles Bukowski

Almost everybody

Almost everybody is born a genius and buried an idiot.

Charles Bukowski

If nobody talks about books

If nobody talks about books, if they are not discussed or somehow contended with, literature ceases to be a conversation, ceases to be dynamic. Most of all, it ceases to be intimate. It degenerates into a monologue or a mutter. An unreviewed book is a struck bell that gives no resonance. Without reviews, literature would be oddly mute in spite of all those words on all those pages of all those books. Reviewing makes of reading a participant sport, not a spectator sport.

Patricia Hampl

A Little Whacked

PG is a bit tired this evening as a result of ongoing settling-in at Casita PG.

He will leave off blogging with a quote.

We fluff them and fold them and nudge them and enhance them and bind them and break them and embellish them beyond measure; then, as we drive them up to the college interviews that they’ve heard since birth are the gateway to the lives they were destined to lead based on nothing more than our own need for it to be true, we tell them, with a smile so tight it would crack nuts, “Just be yourself.”

Heather Choate Davis

Every time I was called on in class

Every time I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself. Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself — or even excelled — I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up … This phenomenon of capable people being plagued by self-doubt has a name — the impostor syndrome. Both men and women are susceptible to the impostor syndrome, but women tend to experience it more intensely and be more limited by it.

Sheryl Sandberg

What progress we are making

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.

Sigmund Freud


Dictators cause the world’s worst problems: all the collapsed states, and all the devastated economies. All the vapid cases of corruption, grand theft, and naked plunder of the treasury are caused by dictators, leaving in their wake trails of wanton destruction, horrendous carnage and human debris.

George Ayittey


In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.

Hannah Arendt

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.

Anne Lamott

Any reviewer

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

Kurt Vonnegut


Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Stephen Leacock

The Long Arc of Economic Development

Libertarian economist Steven Landsburg concisely summarized the long arc of economic development:

“Modern humans first emerged about 100,000 years ago. For the next 99,800 years or so, nothing happened… Then—just a couple of hundred years ago—people started getting richer. And richer and richer still.”

A smart, intellectual magazine

A smart, intellectual magazine is a difficult thing to run because of the need to manage conflicting personalities and opinionated writers who clash constantly, whose clashes make the publication better. It is exhausting and draining, and honestly, the only thing that’s harder is probably running a university.

Ben Domenech

The Director General invites you to examine

The Director General invites you to examine the planisphere hanging on the wall. The
varied color scheme indicates:

  1. the countries where all books are systematically confiscated
  2. the countries where only books published or approved by the State may circulate
  3. the countries where existing censorship is crude, approximate, and unpredictable
  4. the countries where the censorship is subtle, informed, sensitive to implications and
    allusions, managed by meticulous and sly intellectuals
  5. the countries where there are two networks of dissemination: one legal and one
  6. the countries where there is no censorship because there are no books, but there are
    many potential readers
  7. the countries where there are no books and nobody complains about their absence
  8. the countries, finally, in which every day, books are produced for all tastes and all
    ideas, amid general indifference.

Nobody these days holds the written word in such high esteem as police states do.

Italo Calvino

I try to avoid

I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.

Charlotte Bronte


…all men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.

Sophocles, Antigone


Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

Thomas Jefferson

I’m surprised he doesn’t send Christmas cards

“I’m surprised he doesn’t send Christmas cards,” Antonio said. “I can see them now. Tasteful, embossed vellum cards, the best he can steal. Little notes in perfect penmanship,”Happy holidays. Hope everyone is well. I sliced up Ethan Ritter in Miami and scattered his remains in the Atlantic. Best wishes for the new year. Karl.”

Kelley Armstrong

A man’s penmanship

A man’s penmanship is an unfailing index of his character, moral and mental, and a criterion by which to judge his peculiarities of taste and sentiments.

Bill Vaughan

Almost no one goes home eagerly anticipating junk mail

Almost no one goes home eagerly anticipating junk mail in their mailbox. Almost no one reads People magazine for the ads. Almost no one looks forward to a three-minute commercial interruption on must see TV. Advertising is not why we pay attention. Yet marketers must make us pay attention for the ads to work. If they don’t interrupt our train of thought by planting some sort of seed in our conscious or subconscious, the ads fail. Wasted money. If an ad falls in the forest and no one notices, there is no ad.

Seth Godin

Publishing is a very mysterious business

Publishing is a very mysterious business. It is hard to predict what kind of sale or reception a book will have, and advertising seems to do very little good.

Thomas Wolfe


When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.

Victor Hugo

Self pity

Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.

John Gardner


Waste of Muscle, waste of Brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,
Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of Glory, waste of God,—

G. A. Studdert Kennedy

Kennedy was an English Anglican priest and poet. He was nicknamed “Woodbine Willie” during World War I for giving Woodbine cigarettes to the soldiers he met, as well as spiritual aid to injured and dying soldiers.

Studdert Kennedy was awarded the Military Cross (MC) during World War I. His citation read:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He showed the greatest courage and disregard for his own safety in attending to the wounded under heavy fire. He searched shell holes for our own and enemy wounded, assisting them to the dressing station, and his cheerfulness and endurance had a splendid effect upon all ranks in the front line trenches, which he constantly visited.

Being a good writer

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.

Author Unknown

In recent years

In recent years, I have had no desire to do anything but work and be with [my son] John. I hear people talking about going on a vacation or something and I think, what is that about? I have no desire to go on a trip. My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold and anything else is just a waste of time.

Cormac McCarthy to the Wall Street Journal, 2009

War was always here

War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, 1985

The great thing about being a print journalist

The great thing about being a print journalist is that you are permitted to duck. Cameramen get killed while the writers are flat on the floor. A war correspondent for the BBC dedicated his memoir to 50 fallen colleagues, and I guarantee you they were all taking pictures. I am only alive because I am such a chicken.

P. J. O’Rourke

What then is truth?

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Contract law is essentially

Contract law is essentially a defensive scorched-earth battleground where the constant question is, “if my business partner was possessed by a brain-eating monster from beyond spacetime tomorrow, what is the worst thing they could do to me?

Charles Stross

I lost some time

I lost some time once. It’s always in the last place you look for it.

Neil Gaiman