22 January 2006
world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
It is manifestly true that we
all “should” be happy because the very existence and nature of our world
is so incomprehensibly wondrous. Yet few
of us find that our prevailing mood from day to day is suffused with the awe
and fervent wonder that the bountiful miracles of creation might easily
himself suffered from major depression.
is a perverse psychological fact that for many of us, being counseled that
we should be happy is, at best, ineffective, and frequently a source
of irritation. But though we
disdain these reminders, don't we also count on them? The hope
persists that someone will find a way to help us see our way clear to
effective than exhortation is surprise.
We may be caught off-guard and delighted by some expression or
observation, some unexpected juxtaposition of incongruities.
We are delivered into the realm of mystery, and sometimes the glow lingers. This
is the highest function of art.
21 January 2006
“Do good by stealth, and
blush to find it fame.”
20 January 2006
“A master can tell you what
he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations.”
Neal began her life in the same dissipated, short-sighted style that
tragically overtakes many Hollywood actresses who attract fame and
admiration for shallow reasons. She
found her depth only after a personal tragedy: she suffered three massive
strokes at age 39. Her comeback
from paralysis and aphasia is a subject for the medical record book, and a
tribute to her determination and the dedication of husband Roald
Dahl, the dark children’s author.
Neal is 80 years old today.
"They call me a dumb
blonde, but really I'm not that blonde."
19 January 2006
field theory and the theory of general relativity have such superb power
that no experiment yet has shown a crack in either of them, even though they
both predict wildly counterintuitive properties in physical reality. And yet
the two theories seem to be deeply at odds with each other, which suggests
that there must be some other as-yet-unknown theory that incorporates them
both in a consistent way, a theory of quantum gravity. It is fervently
sought. The mainstream, and extremely cocky, school of thought is that
string theory or M theory is inevitably going to be accepted as this
Lanier, from a book
review of The
Road to Reality, a huge book on the foundations of science
by a huge man, Roger
which culminates in his personal candidate
for a Theory of
18 January 2006
their soul in me, or mine,
Through self-forgetfulness divine,
In them, that song aloft maintains,
To fill the sky and thrill the plains
With showerings drawn from human stores,
As he to silence nearer soars,
Extends the world at wings and dome,
More spacious making more our home,
Till lost upon his aërial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.
Lark Ascending, by George
Ascending by Ralph
(violin solo by Hilary
17 January 2006
that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”
Quick-witted, far-seeing and multitalented,
Benjamin Franklin saw the deep value of
humility, not just as
a social posture, but for the wellbeing of the soul.
He struggled with this virtue, and when he set himself the project of
re-forming habits for self-improvement, humility was prominently the last on
“To be humble to superiors is
duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.”
- Poor Richard, 1735
Franklin, best wishes for long life and a
happy 300th birthday.
16 January 2006
not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that
Annaeus Seneca, Roman playwright, born 4 BC