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Feb
9th
Sat
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"Hello, what’s your name?"
“My name is Mr. Fischer, what’s your name?”
“Bush. I’m Mr. Bush.”
George W. Bush's dialogue with German foreign minister and Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer during his visit in Germany, 24. February 2005.
Illustration: George W. Bush’s self-portraits in the bathroom e-mailed to his sister Dorothy
See also: Bruce Handy, Nude Self-Portraits of George W. Bush: A Critique, Vanity Fair, Feb 8, 2013
Nov
19th
Sat
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He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.
James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century (1882-1941), Dubliners
Nov
5th
Sat
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Mark Twain: ‘Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man’

“What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those of other things, are his history. (…)

These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Everyday would make a whole book of eighty thousand words - three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man — the biography of the man himself cannot be written.”


Mark Twain captured on film by Thomas Edison in 1909 at Stormfield (CT). Twain is shown walkng around his home and playing cards with his daughters Clara and Jean. It’s apparently the only known footage of the author.
Mark Twain, American author and humorist (1835-1910), Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Volume 1 (1870), Kessinger Publishing, 2003, p.2.
Sep
15th
Thu
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The Three Passions of Bertrand Russell: Love, Truth, and Justice

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair. (…)

I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved. (…)

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to Earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me. (…)

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness - that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. (…)

This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what—at last—I have found. (…)

I had supposed until that time that it was quite common for parents to love their children, but the war persuaded me that it is a rare exception. I had supposed that most people liked money better than almost anything else, but I discovered that they liked destruction even better. I had supposed that intellectuals frequently loved truth, but I found here again that not ten per cent of them prefer truth to popularity. (…)

As a lover of truth, the national propaganda of all the belligerent nations sickened me. As a lover of civilization, the return to barbarism appalled me. (…)

He asked my religion and I replied “agnostic.” He asked how to spell it, and remarked with a sigh: “Well, there are many religions, but I suppose they all worship the same God.” (…)

I have lived in the pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times. Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them. These things I believe, and the world, for all its horrors, has left me unshaken.”

Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature (1872-1970), The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1967), Routledge, 2000, Prologue, p. 240, 241, 257, 466, Postscript. See also:
Bertrand Russell’s message to future generations
Apr
17th
Sun
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Sanjoy Mahajan on How Richard Feynman Thought

“If we were perfect reasoning machines, it would not harm us to first work at the cutting edge and then develop our own ways of thinking. But we are imperfect. As economists might say, there’s a huge path dependence in our thinking: Once you know something, it’s hard to unknow it. Once you learn a way of thinking, it’s hard not to keep falling into that way of thinking at the expense of finding new ways of thinking.

I think Feynman had a healthy respect for how our minds actually work — as opposed to how they might work if they were ideal reasoning machines. That humility, a word infrequently associated with Feynman, made him wary of digging those mental paths before he had explored his own ways and had made his own, perhaps different, paths. That’s how he reached or, rather, created the cutting edge.” “
Sanjoy Mahajan, theoretical physicist, PhD, Associate Director at the Teaching and Learning Laboratory at MIT, How Richard Feynman Thought, Freakonomics, April 8, 2011.
Mar
16th
Wed
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"When I was young, I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in the sock," Einstein once said. "So I stopped wearing socks."
— Pictured: A sockless Albert Einstein writes in his bedroom at his country cottage near Berlin, July 15, 1931. Source: LIFE

"When I was young, I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in the sock," Einstein once said. "So I stopped wearing socks."

— Pictured: A sockless Albert Einstein writes in his bedroom at his country cottage near Berlin, July 15, 1931. Source: LIFE

May
19th
Tue
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"The professor came down in his dressing gown as usual for breakfast but he hardly touched a thing. I thought something was wrong, so I asked what was troubling him. ‘Darling,’ he said, ‘I have a wonderful idea.’ And after drinking his coffee, he went to the piano and started playing. Now and again he would stop, making a few notes then repeat: ‘I’ve got a wonderful idea, a marvelous idea!’ ”

“I said, ‘Then for goodness’ sake tell me what it is, don’t keep me in suspense.’”

“He said, ‘It’s difficult, I still have to work it out.’”

She told me he continued playing the piano and making notes for about half an hour, then went upstairs to his study, telling her that he did not wish to be disturbed, and remained there for two weeks. “Each day I sent him up his meals,” she said, “and in the evening he would walk a little for exercise, then return to his work again.”

“Eventually,” she said, “he came down from his study looking very pale. ‘That’s it,’ he told me, wearily putting two sheets of paper on the table. And that was his theory of relativity.”

Elsa Einstein at a dinner party at Charlie Chaplin’s Beverly Hills home in 1931, describing Albert Einstein’s composition of his theory of relativity. In Charlie Chaplin’s My Autobiography, Simon and Schuster, 1964, p. 320-321. Also available in Max Jammer’s Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology, p. 56.
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I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Isaac Newton, English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian (1642-1727)