If power is for sale, sell your mother to buy it. You can always buy her back again.
Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So you wouldn’t want to sit next to Sir Isaac Newton on a crowded bus.
The only difference between America and Lithuania, as far as Chip could see, was that in America the wealthy few subdued the unwealthy many by means of mind-numbing and soul-killing entertainments and gadgetry and pharmaceuticals, whereas in Lithuania the powerful few subdued the unpowerful many by threatening violence.
Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
Americans are serial obsessers.
Graydon Carter, Washington Post, 2001
You need never read a newspaper again. I’ll read them for you and tell you what to think.
Rush Limbaugh, radio host, quoted by The Guardian, 1991
In America, humour is much less central to daily life [than in England]. Having a good sense of humour is like having good driving skills or a nose for wine, or being able to pronounce ‘feuilleton’ correctly – commendable, worthy of admiration but not actually vital.
Bill Bryson, Mail on Sunday, 1998
If a man dies in India, the woman flings herself on the funeral pyre. If a man dies in England, the woman goes into the kitchen and says: ‘72 baps, Connie. You slice, I’ll spread.’
We’re conceived in irony. We float in it from the womb. It’s the amniotic fluid. It’s the silver sea. It’s the waters at their priest-like task, washing away guilt and purpose and responsibility. Joking but not joking. Caring but not caring. Serious but not serious.
Alan Bennett, The Old Country
…that pale English dawn light which comes on like a wan bureaucrat to give notice that the day ahead will once again be one of low horizons and modest expectations.
Christopher Hope, Kruger’s Alp
In 1939 Mrs Slack moved into a council house in Browning Road, Sheffield. The gas people were to disconnect her gas cooker and bring it from her old home to her new one. But the cooker never moved. For 20 years Mrs Slack, now 68, waited. For 20 years she cooked on a coal fire. She explains: ‘My husband Joe was a quiet man. He didn’t like making a fuss.’
Sunday Pictorial, 1959
Advertising is not a new thing. We think of the stained-glass windows in Chartres Cathedral as art, but when they were made they were art only incidentally. They were put there to sell theology – they were billboards – and if the people who built the cathedral had had neon they would have gone crazy for it. There’s nothing new about any of this. The mosaics in Byzantine churches and early Christian churches are billboards selling Christianity. Tiepolo’s ceilings are Counter-Reformation propaganda. Selling is an old tradition, and we can learn from it.
Robert Venturi, architect, The New Yorker, 1999
At first, before the Attlees moved into Downing Street, he carried on taking the train home to Stanmore, travelling by himself, a detective following discreetly a few paces behind just in case. Generally he went unrecognised. He had to change at Baker Street, where a woman once approached him, and said: ‘Have you ever been told you look just like Mr Attlee?’ ‘Frequently,’ he replied and boarded his train.
Francis Beckett, Clem Attlee
Sir Elton has a number of rivals in the prima donna stakes – notably Diana Ross, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez. Miss Ross once declared: ‘If someone has a big dressing room, I have to have a bigger one.’ More recently, Miss Lopez is rumoured to have requested Evian water in which to bathe. And Miss Carey this year demanded that her 3 am arrival at a London hotel was celebrated with a red carpet. But Sir Elton remains in a class of his own. He admits to calling a hotel reception desk to ask the concierge to ‘turn the wind down’ on a breezy night. ..In the documentary Tantrums and Tiaras – made about him by his partner David Furnish – Sir Elton was shown storming off a tennis court after a woman called ‘Yoo-hoo’ to him.
Daily Mail, 2005
If I’m such a legend, then why am I so lonely?
It was artfully contrived by Augustus that, in the enjoyment of plenty, the Romans should lose the memory of freedom.
Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
William Pitt the Younger, 1783
Millions of newly-identified animals still require names. A Smithsonian researcher named Terry Erwin, whose speciality is ground beetles of the genus Agra, named one very difficult species Agra vation…there’s a fly called Phthira relativitae and a wasp called Heerz lukenatcha…naming rights to a Bolivian monkey were bought by a Canadian online casino in 2005 for $650,000. It became Callicebus aureipalatii, the Golden Palace monkey. Also, in 2005 two Republican coleoptorists named beetles Agathidium bushi, A. cheneyi and A. rumsfeldi. Democrats noted these beetles lived on slime mould….
..Sting has his own tree frog Hyla stingii. Spiders include Calponia harrisonfordi and Pachygnatha zappa. Other additions include: Colon rectum (a beetle), Ba humbugi (a snail), Oedipus complex (a snail), Ytu brutus (a beetle) and Trombiculo fujigmo – a mite, whose name is an acronym for Fuck you, Jack, I’ve got my orders.
International Herald Tribune 1996/The Economist 2006
YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS BECAUSE THE LITTLE VOICES ARE TALKING TO ME
I LIVE IN MY OWN WORLD BUT IT’S OK – THEY KNOW ME HERE
…AND YOU SAY PSYCHO LIKE IT WAS A BAD THING
WHAT PART OF EELYMOSYNARY RATIOCINATION DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?
HOW LONG A MINUTE IS DEPENDS ON WHICH SIDE OF THE BATHROOM DOOR YOU’RE ON
GOT RID OF THE KIDS, THE CAT WAS ALLERGIC
I MARRIED MR. RIGHT, BUT I DIDN’T KNOW HIS FIRST NAME WAS ALWAYS
I KNOW ABOUT STRESSED – IT’S DESSERTS SPELLED BACKWARDS
Collected by Bob Levey, Washington Post columnist, 2002
And much, much more