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Feedback: The inevitable result when the baby doesn't appreciate the strained carrots.

Anonymous

 
Infancy (n): The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, "Heaven lies about us." The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Next purchase: a Car Seat. I bought a five-point restraint system. I like the sound of that. There are some political arguments I've had where I wanted one of those for myself. There are three-point systems, of course, but those are for parents WHO DON'T CARE IF THEIR BABY FLIES THROUGH THE WINDOW. At least that's the unspoken message here. A three-point system, when you could have five? Might as well stick baby to the roof with used chewing gum. They probably take down your name when you buy the three-point system; the clerk calls Child Protective Services as soon as you're out the door.

James Lileks

 
[Disposable diapers] all go into the Diaper Genie, which is an environmentalist's nightmare: It seals diapers in a plastic bag. When the Genie's full, you remove the plastic bag and throw it away in another plastic bag. I should stuff the bags into the hollowed trunks of rain-forest trees and plug the ends with panda skulls just to complete the act.

James Lileks

 
[Newborns] all look like little aliens from the Planet Churchill.

James Lileks

 
Babies, however, are different, prone to the innumerable small perfidies of the flesh. We have a large tome from Mayo that details exactly everything that can go wrong - it's like a how-to book for parents with Munchausen-by-proxy.

James Lileks

 
Baby hates me. Well, no. But I'm not Mom, and I don't smell like Mom, so Gnat regards me as her second choice, all the way. Of course, this will change, but when your daughter is pounding her little fists on your chest and wailing because You're Not Mom, you feel like the Unmilk Hitler. In her binary world, there is Mom, and there is not-Mom, and when she's in the mood for Mom, the not-Mom is the Unmilk Hitler.

James Lileks

 
A soiled baby, with a neglected nose, cannot conscientiously be regarded as a thing of beauty.

Mark Twain

 
I wish there were more of us. Post-boomers, I mean. I wish we had the numbers and clout of the boomers and the cachet of the Xers. Perhaps the day will come when we rule the world, but not yet. Every Saturday when I turn on the radio and hear the mayor of St. Paul fondling the 60s again - why, he was at Woodstock! - I want to throw the radio out the window. I will never confuse the music of my era with Essential Truth About Life and Mankind; I will never believe that just because I was flailing around a cheap apartment to the sounds of "Goon Squad" it means that this song represented a time when we ALL had a DEEPER connection to the ESSENCE OF LIFE than ANY OTHER ERA in HUMAN HISTORY.

James Lileks

 
My generation — a loosely defined demographic blob that was sucking its thumb when Kennedy died and popping zits when Nixon went down — is unnaturally tied to the dreck that filled its youthful hours. We have to move on. We need to realize that pop culture is meant to evaporate. Everything featured in this Variety section will be derided in 10 years as laughable drivel, honored in 20 years as a cultural touchstone, auctioned off as a collectible in 30 years, the subject of an unreadable collegiate dissertation in 40 years — and forgotten in 50.

James Lileks

 
No, what irks me a bit is this rediscovery of civic virtue and collective sacrifice, which seems, coincidentally, to be timed just so that the generations after the baby boom gets to make the sacrifice and pay for the boomers' lavish retirement benefits.

Pete McCutchen

 
Chronologically I am a post-Baby Boomer. I feel that way, at least, because I never experienced the fun and exciting parts of the whole Boomer scene--just spent a lot of time dutifully chuckling at Boomers' maddeningly pointless anecdotes about just how stoned they got on various occasions, and politely fielding their assertions about how great their music was. But even from this remove it was possible to glean certain patterns, and one that recurred as regularly as an urban legend was the one about how someone would move into a commune populated by sandal-wearing, peace-sign flashing flower children, and eventually discover that, underneath this facade, the guys who ran it were actually control freaks; and that, as living in a commune, where much lip service was paid to ideals of peace, love and harmony, had deprived them of normal, socially approved outlets for their control-freakdom, it tended to come out in other, invariably more sinister, ways.

Neal Stephenson

 
Every bachelor is a hero to some married woman.

H.L. Mencken

 
Bachelor cooking is a matter of attitude. If you think of it as setting fire to things and making a mess, it's fun. It's not so much fun if you think of it as dinner. Fortunately, baloney, cheeseburgers, beer and potato-chip dip provide all the daily nutrients bachelors are known to require. I mean, I hope they do.

P.J. O'Rourke

 
A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it.

Bob Hope

 
People forget, or don't know, that the "Beat Generation" didn't mean some sort of finger-snapping eight-to-the-bar demographic, but people who were literally "beat" by the grinding oppression and banality of post-war America. Which makes them not only proto- slackers, but whiny ones to boot.

James Lileks

 
Belladonna (n): In Italian, a beautiful lady; in English, a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.

Ambrose Bierce

 
All God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

Fran Lebowitz

 
Beauty is only skin deep. Ugly goes to the bone.

Karen Theil-Hollingshead

 
I really think I need to open a microbrewery. I honestly feel that this may be my life's calling. Instead of drinking inadequate beers and then moaning like a woman about how they SHOULD taste, I'll make my own beers that taste right in the first place. Then I'll drink up all the profits and sell my liver on the black market for foie gras.

Steve H.

 
[M]aking beer is a guaranteed third-degree mitzvah, as long as "beer" doesn't mean a revolting fluid made from corn or rice. Now that I think about it, corn is the silicone of beer. More volume, less flavor. That about covers it.

Steve H.

 
I remembered my conviction — still unshaken — that a nation that tolerated bad beer had lost its soul. A nation that drinks bad beer is a joyless nation. A nation of bean-counters who can add up the cost of the ingredients of real beer, but who could never understand the cultural cost of destroying what is, after all, an art form. Okay, an art form practiced in garages on weekends by sweaty fat guys in their undershirts, but an art form nonetheless.

Steve H.

 
Since starting this site, I've remembered the days of my twisted youth, when I dreamed of traveling the world as the Apostle of Hops, drinking myself silly in the great beer towns of the world, waking in their gutters, and penning beery screeds intended to connect the dots between bad American beer and the same sickness of heart that resulted in dumbed-down cartoons, slow cars, gun control, and Jimmy Carter.

Steve H.

 
[B]ean counters made their way into the beer industry like beer-souring bacteria infiltrating a tank of fermenting wort, and they realized two things: 1) you can make beer cheaper if you use crappy ingredients, and 2) the American public will drink raw sewage if you pimp it during football games.

Steve H.

 
For most beers, the ideal glass is actually a giant Champagne glass. And that makes total sense to me, especially after half an Arturo Fuente Hemingway, an Orval Trappist Ale, and a good percentage of a bottle of Weissbier. After all, what is Champagne. It's BEER. Beer made from lowly grapes.

If you're lucky enough to have a place near you that sells decent beer glasses, take a look at the crystal Pilsner glasses. And then take a look at the Champagne flutes. Same glass on a different scale. Big, thick steins are fine if you're a brainless frat boy who enjoys napping in his own vomit, but those of us who have actually had sex and held jobs know that a gracefully tapered Pilsner glass is the way to go. It shapes the head, it shows off the bubbles, and it sort of scoops up the aroma and shoots it up your nose. Granted, the mass of a stein is more useful in a fight, but people who fight with beer mugs obviously don't know what guns are for.

Steve H.

 
May I say a few things right here about beer? It is absolutely the finest beverage known to humanity, and it got no respect at all from Americans until I was maybe 30. In fact, virtually all American beer was donkey pee until roughly that time.

When I was 22, I dreamed of running off to Europe, getting totally faced in every beer-enabled town on the continent, and writing about my experiences. Face-down in the gutters of the West's great cities; that was how I wanted to start my literary career. It worked for Scott Fitzgerald. Although I think he was usually face-down in a duvet at the Ritz. I ended up running off to Israel instead, which was a poor move, given that the average Israeli has a hard time telling the difference between beer and seltzer.

Steve H.

 
By the way, hops are disgusting in person. They're like smelly Brussels sprouts. I asked the homebrew guy for an ounce and a half of Cascade hops, and he gave me a bag big enough to make a tossed salad. I said, "You can tell I don't smoke dope, because I have no idea what an ounce looks like." And he smiled nervously, not that I am implying anything.

Steve H.

 
BAD beer — "beer" made from corn and rice—is made by people who KNOW the taste for good beer has to be acquired. So they sell beer that tastes "okay" to people who have never had beer before. The first time you steal a tall boy of Schlitz from your dad's stash, you'll think, "Well, this tastes OKAY. I can force myself to drink this stuff, and then I'll be a cool beer-drinking guy like all my little snot-nosed friends." If you steal a Heineken, however, you'll say, "WOW, this tastes like battery acid." But if you keep drinking Heineken, you'll eventually come to like it, and you'll understand that the bitterness is there for a reason. It balances the malt. If you keep drinking Schlitz, you'll learn absolutely nothing, except that if you want to make yourself swallow it, it better be damn cold, because when it warms up you can taste the foul, disgusting corn.

Steve H.

 
We gave up on real beer a long time ago, when the brewing industry was taken over by accountants and the brewmasters were chased out their own back doors. In a pathetic reversal of Christ's running the moneychangers out of the temple with a scourge made of cords, the moneychangers drove the beer priests out, realizing that they could make more money if they cut a few hundred corners.

Steve H.

 
Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.

Napoleon Bonaparte

 
No one has the right to destroy another person's belief by demanding empirical evidence.

Ann Landers

 
Some like to understand what they believe in. Others like to believe in what they can understand.

Stanislaus Lec

 
A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable.

H.L. Mencken

 
I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.

Wilson Mizner

 
The believer is happy; the doubter is wise.

Hungarian Proverb

 
I don't associate extremity of language with insincerity — in fact the more moonbatty the language, the more I think the speaker's very marrow vibrates in sympathy to the idea.

James Lileks

 
If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. Whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.

Bertrand Russell

 
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe in something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.

Bertrand Russell

 
The man who cannot believe in himself cannot believe in anything else.

Roy L. Smith

 
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

Leo Tolstoy

 
People have a peculiar pleasure in making converts, that is, in causing others to enjoy what they enjoy, thus finding their own likeness represented and reflected back to them.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 
To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing. To be on the alert is to live, to be lulled into security is to die.

Oscar Wilde

 
I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

E.M. Forster

 
Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it doth prosper, none dare call it treason.

Sir John Harington

 
Koran (n): A book which the Mohammedans foolishly believe to have been written by divine inspiration, but which Christians know to be a wicked imposture, contradictory to the Holy Scripture.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Revelations (n): A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by the commentators, who know nothing.

Ambrose Bierce

 
The Bible is NOT a blatant pack of lies, but it [has] been tampered with to promote so many agendas, many of them at cross-purposes, that I would hesitate to use it as a historical reference without backup.

Debbie Byrd

 
The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the man who reads it.

Robert G. Ingersoll

 
[T]he English Bible is overwhelmingly beautiful in the only two ways that poetry itself can be beautiful. That is to say, it is couched in mellifluous and memorable words and phrases, and it embodies a long series of eloquent statements of the obviously not true.

H.L. Mencken

 
The Good Book: One of the most remarkable euphemisms ever coined.

Ashley Montagu

 
It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

Mark Twain

 
During his last illness, W.C. Fields was confined to a hospital bed and a visitor was shocked to catch him reading the Bible. "Just looking for loopholes," he explained.

Jon Winokur

 
Autobiography is an unrivalled vehicle for telling the truth about other people.

Philip Guedella

 
Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography.

Oscar Wilde

 
We've disassembled the code of life. Now we have to reproduce all the comments, and that's a lot harder.

Steven Den Beste

 
Forefinger (n): The finger commonly used in pointing out two malefactors.

Ambrose Bierce

 
We have only one person to blame and that's each other.

Barry Black

 
All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.

Steven Den Beste

 
The absent are always at fault.

Spanish Proverb

 
When you are younger you get blamed for crimes you never committed and when you're older you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.

Casey Stengel

 
Your digestive system is your body's Fun House, whereby food goes on a long, dark, scary ride, taking all kinds of unexpected twists and turns, being attacked by vicious secretions along the way, and not knowing until the last minute whether it will be turned into a useful body part or ejected into the Dark Hole by Mister Sphincter.

Dave Barry

 
Liver (n): A large red organ thoughtfully provided by nature to be bilious with.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Limb (n): The branch of a tree or the leg of an American woman.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Mouth (n): In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of the heart.

Ambrose Bierce

 
The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up and does not stop until you get into the office.

Robert Frost

 
If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't.

Lyall Watson

 
These days it seems like any idiot with a laptop computer can churn out a business book and make a few bucks. That's certainly what I'm hoping. If would be a real letdown if the trend changed before this masterpiece goes to print.

Scott Adams

 
A book, shut tight, is but a block of paper.

Anonymous

 
For him that stealeth a book from this library
Let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him.
Let him be struck with palsy and all his members be blasted.
Let him languish in pain, crying aloud for mercy and
Let there be no surcease to his agony till he sink in dissolution.
Let bookworms gnaw his entrails
In token of the worm that dieth not,
And when at last he goeth to his final judgment
Let flames of hell consume him forever and aye.
(curse found on the door of an old monastic library in Barcelona)

Anonymous

 
Some books are to be tasted; others swallowed; and some to be chewed and digested.

Francis Bacon

 
The book is not an object on the table, it is an event in the reader's mind. It's a process, through which an idea in my mind triggers an idea, more-or-less corresponding, in yours. The words on paper are merely the means to this end, a think-by-numbers set, a bottled daydream. The book, therefore, is only finished when somebody reads it.

Lois McMaster Bujold

 
I have never reread a book for its plot or ideas but reread to visit with friends again.

Lois McMaster Bujold

 
All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been, it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books. They are the choicest possessions of men.

Thomas Carlyle

 
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind.

Robert Chambers

 
La vrai disette, c'est l'absence de livres. (Real poverty is lack of books.)

Colette

 
'Tis the reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 
Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folk have lent to me.

Anatole France

 
It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.

S.I. Hayakawa

 
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened . . .

Ernest Hemingway

 
I don't consider myself a book collector. I just have books, the way one has air to breathe.

N. Hilyard

 
When I speak of being in contact with my books, I mean it literally. I like to be able to lean my head against them . . .

Leigh Hunt

 
Solzhenitzen's novel on the Russian Revolution [makes] Ayn Rand's books look like a Jack Chick pamphlet.

James Lileks

 
A house without books is like a room without windows.

Horace Mann

 
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

 
Come to think of it, my major decorator color is Old Paperbacks.

Pat Mathews

 
It is true that if you tell me what you read, I can tell you who you are. But I will know you better if you tell me what you re-read.

Francois Mauriac

 
Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends.

S. Weir Mitchell

 
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

P.J. O'Rourke

 
This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force.

Dorothy Parker

 
The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books distort space, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned secondhand bookshop, one of those that look as though they were designed by M. Escher on a bad day and has more staircases than storys and those rows of shelves which end in little doors that are surely to small for a full-sized human to enter. The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.

Terry Pratchett

 
When I read a novel that I really like, I feel as if I am in direct, personal communication with the author. I feel as if the author and I are on the same wavelength mentally, that we have a lot in common with each other, and that we could have an interesting conversation, or even a friendship, if the circumstances permitted it. When the novel comes to an end, I feel a certain letdown, a loss of contact. It is natural to want to recapture that feeling by reading other works by the same author, or by corresponding with him/her directly.

Neal Stephenson

 
There's a whole category of books they ought to call "Bestsellers That Are Entirely Unavailable In American College Towns": Rush, Dr. Laura, anything by anybody on Fox News. You might as well be asking for "One Hundred Great Yak Recipes From Bhutan" in the original Bhutanese. Actually, it's worse than that. You might as well be asking for "One Hundred Great Bhutanese Catamites Under Nine" for the looks you get if you enquire about any book on Ronald Reagan that doesn't assume he was an economic illiterate and nuke-crazy airhead.

Mark Steyn

 
Of the needs a book has, the chief need is that it be readable.

Anthony Trollope

 
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

Mark Twain

 
Be careful of reading health books. You could die of a misprint.

Mark Twain

 
In the modern world, the availability, indeed ubiquity, of entertainment is the most potent cause of boredom. It causes boredom because the world cannot ever be as fast-moving or dramatic as audiovisual entertainment, and for most of the time interest has to be extracted from the world rather than merely absorbed from it passively. Hence the more people with vacant minds seek distraction by entertainment, the more bored they grow; and bored people create chaos in their lives because intense misery is preferable to ennui. I have long thought that much social pathology is an attempt to evade boredom by the propagation of violent crises; and, since television causes boredom, it thereby causes social pathology.

Theodore Dalrymple

 
Those who are not satisfied with their work, or who have no intellectual or cultural interests, and whose coarse emotions have undergone refinement neither by education nor by adherence to civilized custom, are particularly liable to seek out the compensatory complications of domestic disorder and disarray. The perpetually unemployed, for example, lead a crude and frequently violent version of the life portrayed in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Like French aristocrats under the ancien regime, they are — thanks to Social Security — under no compulsion to earn a living; and with time hanging heavy on their hands, their personal relationships are their only diversion. These relationships are therefore both intense and shallow, for there is never any mutual interest in them deeper than the avoidance of the ever-encroaching ennui.

Theodore Dalrymple

 
Idiot (n): A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions of opinion and taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.

Ambrose Bierce

 
A bore is a person who talks when you want him to listen.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Dullard (n): A member of the reigning dynasty in letters and life. The Dullards came in with Adam, and being both numerous and sturdy, have overrun the habitable world. The secret of their power is their insensibility to blows; tickle them with a bludgeon and they laugh with a platitude. The Dullards came originally from Boeotia, whence they were driven by stress of starvation, their dulness having blighted the crops. For some centuries, they infested Philistia, and many of them are called Philistines to this day. In the turbulent times of the Crusades they withdrew thence and gradually overspread all Europe, occupying most of the high places in politics, art, literature, science, and theology. Since a detachment of Dullards came over with the Pilgrims in the Mayflower and made a favorable report of the country, their increase by birth, immigration, and conversion has been rapid and steady. According to the most trustworthy statistics the number of adult Dullards in the United States is but little short of thirty millions, including the statisticians. The intellectual centre of the race is somewhere about Peoria, Illinois, but the New England Dullard is the most shockingly moral.

Ambrose Bierce

 
A bore: Someone who persists in holding to his own views after we have enlightened him with ours.

Malcolm Forbes

 
Bore: A person who lights up a room by simply leaving it.

Lawrence J. Peter

 
Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since half the sins mankind are caused by fear of it.

Bertrand Russell

 
When you can whip any man in the world, you never know peace.

Muhammed Ali

 
When you come to the fight
Don't block the halls
And don't block the door
For y'all may go home
After round four.

Muhammed Ali

 
If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize.

Muhammed Ali

 
Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee.

Muhammed Ali

 
I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own.

Muhammed Ali

 
Frazier is so ugly he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.

Muhammed Ali

 
People don't realize what they had till it's gone. Like President Kennedy — nobody like him. Like The Beatles, there will never be anything like them. Like my man, Elvis Presley — I was the Elvis of boxing.

Muhammed Ali

 
It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I just beat people up.

Muhammed Ali

 
I done wrassled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale, Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, I'm so mean I make medicine sick.

Muhammed Ali

 
I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round.

Muhammed Ali

 
You don't play D&D for six years without learning something about courage.

Anonymous

 
One man plus courage is a majority.

Anonymous

 
Better to face a danger once than be always in fear.

Anonymous

 
Coward (n): One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Valour (n): A soldierly compound of vanity, duty, and the gambler's hope.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Suicidal glory is the luxury of the irresponsible. We're not giving up. We're waiting for a better opportunity to win.

Lois McMaster Bujold

 
Bravery: A cheap and vulgar quality, of which the brightest instances are frequently found in the lowest savages.

Paul Chatfield

 
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 
It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier.

Robert A. Heinlein

 
Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool).

Robert A. Heinlein

 
Bravery is being the only one who knows that you're afraid.

Franklin P. Jones

 
Once a culture passes its zenith, as ours has, many people devote themselves to finding lives in which bravery will be unnecessary. A lot of agony occurs because this is not possible.

Michael Ventura

 
A surprisingly large number of auto-tattooists choose for the exercise of their dermatographical art the chief motto of British service industries, namely FUCK OFF. Why anyone should want these words indelibly imprinted in his skin is a mystery whose meaning I have not yet penetrated, though my researches continue, but I recall a patient who had the two words tattooed in mirror writing upon his forehead, no doubt that he might read them in the bathroom mirror every morning and be reminded of the vanity of earthly concerns.

Theodore Dalrymple

 
It is necessary to recall for a moment the extraordinary achievement of the population of what is — Henry V notwithstanding — an offshore and not altogether naturally hospitable island, to understand just what is being jettisoned as if it were nothing but a drag on progress. Commentators hardly allude to this achievement nowadays; they assume it to be in bad taste or politically retrograde to do so. In recalling British history, it is now as if Oliver Cromwell had said to his portraitist, Peter Lely, not "Paint me, warts and all," but "Paint only my warts."

Theodore Dalrymple

 
[Margaret Thatcher is] A strong personality but with the unmistakable air of the supermarket about her.

Malcolm Muggeridge

 
[B]ack in the glory days of New Labour, I wrote a piece for The Spectator on how the Blair project seemed to boil down to the Canadianisation of Britain — i.e., the replacement of the hereditary House of Lords (which is hard to make the case for) with an Ottawa-style all-appointed Upper House of pliant deadbeats (which ought to be impossible to make the case for); the introduction of varispeed parliaments in the Celtic regions — or what Canadians call "asymmetrical federalism" (Quebec controls its own immigration policy, Alberta does not). Even the desperate wannabe hipness of "Cool Britannia" produced nothing tangible until last year's Olympic gold medal at the hitherto Canadian sport of curling, providing final confirmation of my thesis that "Cool Britannia" was cool mainly in the sense that Yellowknife in February is.

Mark Steyn

 
"The Welsh," said the Doctor, "are the only nation in the world that has produced no graphic or plastic art, no architecture, no drama. They just sing," he said with disgust, "sing and blow down wind instruments of plated silver."

Evelyn Waugh

 
Bruce's targets — organized religion, politicians, sexual hypocrisy, racism — long ago lost whatever widespread, uncritical support they once might have enjoyed. (To be sure, Bruce himself contributed to this.) [. . .] Bruce's insistence on his didactic function — "I'm a surgeon with a scalpel for false values," he used to say — transformed him into an adults-only version of the tedious magazine Highlights for Children, whose subtitle threatens to deliver "Fun With a Purpose."

Nick Gillespie

 
If you meet the Buddha in the Net, put his address in your Kill file.

Anonymous

 
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

Anonymous

 
Economy makes men independent.

Anonymous

 
We'll never fix the problem until we face the fact that bullying has deep underlying causes. Unfortunately, the underlying causes are of a type that will be hard for the educational establishment to face: that secondary school is just a pantomime of learning acted out until the students are old enough to be trusted on their own at college, and that because the students' need to create hierarchies has no external measure of performance to fasten on, they create a hierarchy that is its own raison d'etre.

Bullying is just the other half of conformism, and this is what drives both. Teenage kids don't have anything better to think about. They're locked in a waiting room.

Paul Graham

 
When tormented by a bully, realize that he has deep problems of his own, and will need love and affection to help him realize the simple, honest beauty of his own humanity. But that's someone else's job. Your job is to punch him in the nose.

James Lileks

 
A desk is a wastebasket with drawers.

Anonymous

 
A committee is a group of the unwilling, chosen from the unfit, to do the unnecessary.

Anonymous

 
The real objective of a committee isn't to reach a decision but to avoid it.

Anonymous

 
Bureaucrats are the meatloaf of humanity.

Anonymous

 
Bureaucracy: The process of turning energy into solid waste.

Anonymous

 
The usefulness of any meeting is in inverse proportion to the attendance.

Anonymous

 
When policy fails, try thinking.

Anonymous

 
Tektronix is very big on 3-letter acronyms; or, as we call them, "TLAs".

Anonymous

 
If you ever have to put advice to a minister on paper, never advise him to adopt a course of action. Only advise him of the likely results of the courses he is considering.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
The Civil Service does not want power for its own sake. It wants it because if the right people don't get power, the wrong people get it.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
Classified information should be restricted to those who need to know. But the Cabinet Secretary needs to know everything; how else can he know whether or not he needed to know it?

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
Consciences are for politicians. It is dangerous for Civil Servants to acquire a taste for such luxuries.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
To decide to conceal information from the Prime Minister is a serious burden for any official to shoulder, but to decide not to reveal information to him is routine procedure.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
Abolishing government departments is unthinkable. Amalgamating them, however, is admirable. You keep all the existing staff and add an extra layer of co-ordinating management on top.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
Ever since 1832 the Civil Service has been gradually excluding the voters from government. Now we have got to the point where they vote just once every five years purely on which bunch of buffoons will try to interfere with our policies.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
Free enterprise fanatics have to be kept away from the Ministry of Defence, otherwise they might try to sell the RAF or privatize the army. Or float the Navy.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
A good Civil Servant must be able to use language not as a window into the mind but as a curtain to draw across it.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 

How to Discredit Nuisances

  1. Begin by expressing support; after all, you have to get behind them before you can stab them in the back.
  2. Label them; for example, if someone keeps pointing out how the Civil Service wastes government money, always refer to him as "the waste fanatic."
  3. Hint at some hidden scandal--sexual, financial, psychiatric, alcoholic--always ending up "but there's probably nothing in it".
  4. Mention all their bad points by excusing them; for example: "Laziness is probably no bad thing in a Foreign Secretary."

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 

If a Civil Service cock-up becomes public, there are three vital phrases to include in the press statement:
It was a breakdown in communication.
All concerned acted in good faith.
The matter will be dealt with by internal procedures.

This actually means:
People didn't do their job properly.
When they thought they'd been found out they started lying.
We're not going to do anything about it.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
It is not the job of the Civil Service to block all government ideas, only the bad ones. But that is most of them, of course.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
It is not the job of the Civil Service to get unions to accept government policy. Since governments change their policy all the time and unions never change theirs at all, it makes much more sense for us to get the government to accept union policy.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
It is sometimes necessary to keep Prime Ministers in ignorance. This enables them to be firm and confident when making statements that are not in fact true.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
Once decisions are published governments have to stand by them. So to change government decisions you have to act before anyone knows the decision is being made. This is difficult for the public--but it's what the Civil Service is for.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
A report on the Civil Service came up with 209 recommendations for dealing with waste and inefficiency in the Civil Service. It took eighteen months of laborious committee work to whittle them down to three.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
The skill of advising ministers is to do so in such a way that they do not realize you are advising them, or if they do realize it, cannot prove that you were when the advice turns out to be bad.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
When it comes to translating government policy into law, the task of the Civil Servant is to transmute narrow political expediency into broad national benefit. This is known as bureaucratic obstruction.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
When writing advice to a minister always apply the safety catch. The three best safety catches are "If present trends continue", "Other things being equal", and "Unless the unforeseen happens". In politics, present trends rarely continue, other things are never equal, and the unforeseen always happens.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
In defeat, malice; in victory, revenge.

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
How can people accuse top Civil Servants of being out of touch with the deprived and underprivileged? Do they not realize that we have read all the published papers, seen all the statistics, and studied all the official reports?

Sir Humphrey Appleby

 
Mating dinosaurs and merging government agencies have much in common. Given the bulk and mass engaged, in both cases the turf shakes.
The ritual noise generated can't be ignored. Success is a relative thing, literally and figuratively. Dinosaurs beget dinosaurs. Merged government agencies beget another government agency. Dinosaurs were the whiz-kids of the Cretaceous, which ended 65 million years ago. Government agencies tend to turn whiz-kids into bureaucrats, ending audacity and creativity.

Austin Bay

 
Harbour (n): A place where ships taking shelter from storms are exposed to the fury of the Customs.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Quorum (n): A sufficient number of members of a deliberative body to have their own way and their own way of having it.

Ambrose Bierce

 
This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.

Winston S. Churchill

 
A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.

Sir Barnett Cocks

 
Where administration is light and bureaucracy small, bureaucratic honesty is an incomparable virtue; but where these are heavy and large, as in all modern European states, Britain and Italy not least among them, they burden and obstruct the inventive and energetic. Where bureaucrats are honest, no one can cut through their Laoco÷nian coils: their procedures, no matter how onerous, antiquated, or bloody-minded, must be endured patiently. Such bureaucrats can neither be hurried in their deliberations nor made to see common sense. Indeed, the very absurdity or pedantry of these deliberations is for them the guarantee of their own fair-mindedness, impartiality, and disinterest. To treat all people with equal contempt and indifference is the bureaucrat's idea of equity.

Theodore Dalrymple

 
So far the main impact of the computer has been the creation of unlimited employment opportunities for clerks.

Peter Drucker

 
[I] do not believe that it is very much of an advance to do the unnecessary three times as fast.

Peter Drucker

 
A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.

Abba Eban

 
In former times it took dozens of clerks, secretaries, and administrators to create a bureaucratic milieu capable of diffusing responsibility for misinformation and disservices. Today thanks to desk-top information processors, small firms and agencies down to the neighborhood hardware store are finding it possible to emulate the bureaucratic style by blaming their disservices on their computer.

Marvin Harris

 
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, in their modernized version of Dante's Inferno, provided a deliciously, evilly ironic image: That of the ancient bureaucrat who invented the notion of filling out forms in triplicate, now working for Hell's personnel department. After millennia of loyal service, he's finally received permission to retire. Problem is, he has to fill out his retirement application on a clay tablet, and the heat from the inferno keeps baking the clay solid before he can complete his application. There are days when I empathize with him.

Geoff Hart

 
There's no real trick to thinking like an apparatchik. You just keep two sets of ethical books.

Christopher Hitchins

 
I don't author documents, I architect information product systems in the context of instantiating a quality paradigm to carry forward the vision expressed in the mission statement.

Mike Huber

 
[Bureaucratic language] is easier to understand if you read it backward. OK, you have these organizations. And they get developed. But that's not enough. The development needs to be enhanced, either with shoe lifts or Botox injections or implants or perhaps just a nice day at a spa with one of those seaweed body wraps. But in order for developed organization-enhancement to ensue, it needs a program. But not any program! Can't engender meaningful organizational enhancement unless you implement programs facilitated by an HR trainer and developer. (Preferably these programs will be implemented strategically along vertically integrated paradigms.)

James Lileks

 
In Washington DC, where I lived for too long, the first thing you noticed [in the DMV] — was the attitude of the staff, a potent mixture of boredom and hatred. Just walking into their domain is like palpating a stranger's bruise. You set aside an entire day to get your license; you brought a pouch of pemmican, a sleeping roll, and crumbs for leaving a trail . At the end of the labyrinth you expected to find the Minotaur taking the license photos.

When I was finished and spat back into the world, I had the feeling they should give me a cheap suit and twenty bucks and wish me luck on the outside, and there should be a cynical warden who predicted I'd be back in two years. And of course he was right.

James Lileks

 
Bureaucracy thrives on the principle that the acts of regulation have easily traceable positive consequences and whatever negative consequences exist should be as hard to track down as possible. This is pure CYA raised to an art form. If gathering data on negative consequences would be elevated to an equal priority as the positive consequences, a great deal of government action would be exposed for the horribly self-defeating idiocy that it is.

T.M. Lutas

 
Mollison's Bureaucracy Hypothesis: If an idea can survive a bureaucratic review and be implemented, it wasn't worth doing.

Mollison

 
The Lord's Prayer is 66 words, the Gettysburg Address is 286 words, there are 1,322 words in the Declaration of Independence, but government regulations on the sale of cabbage total 26,911.

National Review

 
Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.

Lawrence J. Peter

 
Attending meetings and telling people to proactively leverage their gerunds - that isn't work. That's clerical masturbation. Any moron with 1/10th of a brain stem can do that.

Andrew Plato

 
[Ferris:] We've waited a long time to get something on you. You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we knew you'd slip sooner or later--and this is just what we wanted.[Rearden:] You seem to be pleased about it.[Ferris:] Don't I have good reason to be?[Rearden:] But, after all, I did break one of your laws.[Ferris:] Well, what do you think they're for? Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden's face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see. Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap.[Ferris:] Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? We *want* them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against--then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. Theonly power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one *makes* them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted--and you create a nation of law-breakers--and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.

Ayn Rand

 
No one starting anew today would think to subsidize peanut farmers, banish banks from the mutual-fund business, forbid United Parcel Service to deliver letters, grant massive tax breaks for borrowing. Countless policies are on the books, not because they make sense today, but merely because they cannot be gotten rid of. They are like dinosaurs that will not die, anachronisms whose refusal to go away prefvents newer, better-adapted rivals from thriving. In a Darwinian sense, the collectivity of federal politics is ceasing to evolve.

Jonathan Rauch

 
If you're going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you, but the bureaucracy won't.

Hyman G. Rickover

 

The First Law of Bureaucracy: The supply of human misery will rise to meet demand.

The Second Law of Bureaucracy: The size of the Bureaucracy increases in direct proportion to the additional misery it creates.

George Roche

 
Being what they are, politicians and bureaucrats, they have a very unhealthy tendency to project their own ethical and psychological shortcomings onto others, especially members of the unwashed public.

L. Neil Smith

 
If you live in a country run by committee, be on the committee.

Graham Summer

 
What do you mean -- you're establishing a special department for it? I told you to deal with the problem, not to make it worse. Once we have an entire government department whose size, pay and perquisites depend upon the existence of the problem, we'll never get rid of it.

Margaret Thatcher

 
Where civil liberties are concerned, [he has] taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, "Big Brother"-style government — toward the dangers prophesized by George Orwell in his book 1984 — than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America.

Al Gore

 
It goes without saying that President Bush emanates a mind-warping energy field. You've seen it in action: Perfectly rational people who pride themselves on their nuanced, sophisticated opinions fall to the ground and begin frothing and barking when the subject turns to Bush; you expect them to succumb to Sudden Rumplestiltskin Syndrome, grab a leg in each hand and rip themselves in two.

James Lileks

 
[This is a] New Year's resolution for avid Bush detesters:

I resolve to examine at least one of the president's statements, acts, gestures or facial expressions without first insisting it proves that the man is a stupid chimp evil liar poopypants plastic-turkey-holding DRAFT DODGER MY GOD CAN'T YOU PEOPLE SEE HIM FOR WHAT HE IS?

I resolve to calm down.

James Lileks

 
You'd swear that if you jabbed the average Democratic presidential candidate awake at 3 a.m., he'd shout, "Unilateral cowboy yellowcake carrier landing fake-turkey photo op!"

James Lileks

 
No doubt, even now, the Bush moron jokes will be starting up again. When all your fondest hopes fail — the Iraqi people turn out to be less Ba'athist than the French, Baghdad isn't Stalingrad, the USAF didn't leave millions of dead kids — it's only natural to retreat to your one great surefire crowd-pleaser: "Shrub" (ha-ha) is an idiot, a "stupid white man", a Texan, a born-again Christian fundamentalist nutbar who would be speaking in tongues if he could string three syllables of gibberish together, and any day now he's sure to say something really dumb again and we can all stand around howling with laughter at the poor boob way out of his league, as a BBC correspondent recently revealed that the British press corps did, listening to the President in the overflow room at Camp David.

Mark Steyn

 
Mission Statement: A long awkward sentence that demonstrates management's inability to think clearly.

Scott Adams

 
A bargain is usually something so reasonable, they won't take it back when you find out what's wrong with it.

Anonymous

 
Corporation: A miniature totalitarian state governed by an unelected hierarchy of officials who take a dim view of individualism, free speech, equality and eggheads. The backbone of all Western democracies.

Rick Bayan

 
Corporation (n): An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Prospect (n): An outlook, usually forbidding. An expectation, usually forbidden.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Auctioneer (n): The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Merchant (n): One engaged in a commercial pursuit. A commercial pursuit is one in which the thing pursued is a dollar.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Price (n): Value, plus a reasonable sum for the wear and tear of conscience in demanding it.

Ambrose Bierce

 
A man is known by the company that he organizes.

Ambrose Bierce

 
Disergy: The tendency of two individual businesses to be less successful when joined together, than either had been on its own. (Synergy--its opposite--is more buzzword than reality).

Gary Dunford

 
Dead Cat Bounce: The temporary recovery of share prices in a shaggy stock market. (The theory behind the phrase: even a dead cat will bounce if dropped from a great height.)

Gary Dunford

 
There are more fakers in business than in jail.

Malcolm Forbes

 
Anyone who says businessmen deal in facts, not fiction, has never read old five-year projections.

Malcolm Forbes

 
Nobody gave us a certificate saying we were qualified to run a million-dollar company, and even if we had such a certificate, it wouldn't mean we were qualified to run a hundred-million dollar company. There aren't any courses that teach this. All we can do is take our best shot.

Arthur H. Low (attr.)

 
All the great enterprises of the world are run by a few smart men: their aides and associates run down by rapid stages to the level of sheer morons. Everyone knows that this is true of government, but we often forget that it is equally true of private undertakings. In the average great bank, or railroad, or other corporation the burden of management lies upon a small group. The rest are ciphers.

H.L. Mencken

 
A Corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible and existing only in comtemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only three qualities which the charter of its creations confers upon it, either expressly or as incidental to its very existence . . . [the most] important are immortality and, if the expression may be allowed, individuality; properties by which a perpetual succession of many persons are considered as the same, and may act as a single individual.

J.P. Morgan

 
The #1 rule of big business: when you're giving employees bad news, whatever is happening is not your fault. Management teams which normally strut around acting like minor gods suddenly become helpless leaves in the wind, filled with a deep personal anguish but unable to alter the course of events.

Ken Olsen

 
These days a successful business depends not on an enormous accumulation of capital but on an enormous accumulation of — if I properly understand what Charles Schwab has been telling me — bullshit.

P.J. O'Rourke

 
[W]e ought to be asking ourselves why corporations and interest groups are willing to give politicians millions of dollars in the first place. Obviously their motives are not altruistic. Simply put, they do it because the stakes are so high. They know government controls virtually every aspect of our economy and our lives, and that they must influence government to protect their interests.

Ron Paul

 
Excellence isn't. There are no excellent companies. The old saw "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" needs revision. I propose: "If it ain't broke, you just haven't looked hard enough." Fix it anyway.

Tom Peters

 
If a small group of men were always regarded as guilty, in any clash with any other group, regardless of the issues or circumstances involved, would you call it persecution? If this group were always made to pay for the sins, errors, or failures of any other group, would you call that persecution? . . . If this group were penalized, not for its faults, not for its failures, but for its achievements, and the greater the achievement, the greater the penalty -- would you call that persecution? . . . That group is the American businessmen.

Ayn Rand

 
Providing a high-quality service is like making love to a gorilla. You can't stop when you are satisfied. You stop when the gorilla is happy. - Seen on the wall of an advertising agency

Stan Schwartz

 
Of course, you don't have to be a bank to get a piece of the rebranding action. In Britain, the Post Office has changed its name to emphasize its move away from dull activities like delivering letters to an integrated global communications strategy. Unable to register the term "Post Office" worldwide, or even "Royal Mail", since Canada and other Commonwealth Post Offices retain their local copyright, the British PO has changed its name to "Consignia", who, if memory serves, was the generous kind-hearted whore in an early Fellini pic.

Mark Steyn

 
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