George Walford: Notes & Quotes (63)

NIAT: Is it not absolutely true that the earth moves round the sun? ‘There is no privileged position in space. In one sense it is therefore as true to say that the sun moves round the earth, as it is to say that the earth moves round the sun.’ (M. Payne, S&MN Newsletter 51)

DEPRESSED over a bad mistake? console yourself with this: the desktop computer was first invented at Xerox; seeing no market,they did not launch it.

THE TROUBLE with some people is not that they don’t say what they really think, but that they really think what they actually say. (Michael Frayn).

JOHN Donne: ‘No man is an island.’ Jonathan Benthall, with global ecology in mind: ‘No island is an island, either.’

THE POLICE claim, that the law unduly favours the accused, finds its strongest confirmation in the difficulty of convicting a bent copper. (R. Klein)

DOCTOR Johnson defined ‘net’ as ‘anything reticulated or decussated at equal intervals with interstices between the intersections.’ The OED goes one (in fact, quite a few) better, devoting 60,000 words to ‘set,’ (Hugh Kenner).

ONE politician remarked of another that he would probably not steal a redhot stove. An apology being demanded, he readily complied: ‘Very well: I don’t think you would not steal a redhot stove.’ (Gore Vidal)

AFTER spending vast amounts building smooth roads to speed up the traffic, road engineers then spend even more on ‘humps’ to slow it down.

WHEN the long-awaited crisis of capitalism came in the 1930s, it brought fascism, not socialism. (Alan Sykes).

GEZA Vermes: ‘the Gospels make Jesus into a Christian, which he certainly was not.’ Self-evident, once pointed out, but still unexpected.

EINSTEIN asked the ticket collector: ‘When does Madrid reach this train?’

CHRISTMAS? Very enjoyable; the doctor had ordered us to stay off the soft drinks. And what it cost to get him to say that, you would never believe.

TOURISM is now the world’s biggest industry. Providing one job in every fifteen, it accounts for 12% of consumer spending and $3 trillion annually. The World Travel and Tourism Council expects it to double in size by 2005.

HEARING that taxes should be paid with a smile, we tried. But they wanted cash.

HAZLITT: ‘It is utterly impossible to convince an editor that he is a nobody.’ Conceited lot, these writers.

‘POLITICAL correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. [Another] self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others.’ (Doris Lessing).

SAINSBURY’s have published Sainsbury’s Religions of the World. “D.S.” comments that it seems to lack only an Own Brand; one with all the essential goodness but none of that fancy packaging.

MAUD Gonne, fighter for a united Ireland, who ‘would have set the little streets upon the great, had they but courage equal to desire,’ was English. (Connor Cruise O’Brien)

DAIMLER, rather than Darwin, caused the decline of churchgoing in the West. (S. A. M. Adshead).

THREE bishops, in their purple stocks and clerical collars, were turned away from a Hong Kong restaurant for not wearing ties. (Lord Beaumont in FWR).

DOSTOYEVSKY: If everybody behaved with perfect rationality nothing would ever happen. (Quoted in FWR).

DEFENDING science in a hall full of Islamic Society members, Lewis Wolpert found not one of them prepared publicly to accept the concept of human evolution. (Ethical Record, November).

‘MENSURATION is more essential to science than the establishment of facts.’ (E. J. Dijksterhuis).

‘THIS cuts both ways’ – Boadicea, driving her knived chariot backwards. (Katharine Whitehorn).

SYSTEMATIC ideology holds that society has moved, and continues to move, towards a condition more fully consonant with human nature. Our original condition was ‘natural’ only in the sense that we were subjected to external, non-human nature.

FREUD thought up nothing that cannot be found in Hindu myth. (R. Dinnage).

‘WHOEVER wants to storm the Kremlin, line up over here’; it deserves to become a classic. But only when Moscow’s main TV station went off the air did people feel that the struggle between Khasbulatov and Yeltsin was getting serious.

PROFESSIONAL criminals are abusing the right to silence, refusing to answer police questions; even worse, they are doing this ‘cynically.’ (D. Campbell).

‘WHAT a nice dog! Almost as nice as not having a dog at all.’ (Warden Sparrow).

MODERN Indian philosophy results from constructive interaction with Kant, Hegel and other Western thinkers. (Shelley Walia).

CHRISTMAS in Tokyo: A crucified Santa, with the legend: Happy Shopping!

ROCKEFELLER Chapel, University of Chicago, used to be open 24 hours a day. The then President had it closed at night, complaining that more souls were being conceived there than were saved. (Richard A. Shweder in Lo Straniero).

FULLER understanding of the code used by the Maya shows that a group of symbols common on their pottery mugs, and formerly thought to be a meditation on space-time, actually reads: ‘so-and-so’s cocoa.’ (John Ray).

from Ideological Commentary 63, February 1994.