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Ultimate Programming Machine

Gates is the ultimate programming machine. He believes everything can be defined, examined, reduced to essentials, and rearranged into a logical sequence that will achieve a particular goal.

· Stewart Alsop

Modern Movement

I don’t think we can ignore the Modern Movement. But I wouldn’t have minded at all if it hadn’t happened. I think the world would be a much nicer place.

· Quinlan Terry, British architect

In Praise of Bourgeois

The two most potent post-war orthodoxies–socialist politics and modernist art–have at least one feature in common: they are both forms of snobbery, the anti-bourgeois snobbery of people convinced of their right to dictate to the common man in the name of the common man.

· Roger Scruton, In Praise of Bourgeois

the aurora australis

The green, ghostly light seems suddenly to spring to life with rosy blushes. There is infinite suggestion in this phenomenon, and in that lies its charm – the suggestion of life, form, color and movement – never less than evanescent — mysterious — no reality. It is the language of mystic signs and portents — the inspiration of the gods — wholly spiritual — divine signaling – remindful of superstition – provocative of imagination. Might not the inhabitants of some other world – Mars? – controlling mighty forces, thus surround our globe with fiery symbols – a golden writing – which we have not the key to decipher?

· Robert Falcon Scott, 1911 journal, describing the aurora australis

Earth Hour 2010

It’s Earth Hour 2010, 20:30 (8:30 pm in your local time zone) lights out for an hour to show your support for preserving our world for future generations.


When I wished to sing of love it turned to sorrow. And when I wished to sing of sorrow it was transformed for me into love.

· Franz Schubert

Loss Leaders

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be one of the first in line to purchase items at a retailer at or below their cost; but I won’t be purchasing non-sale items while I’m there.

Selling an item without making (or even worse when losing) money is often referred to as a “loss leader“, and it just isn’t sustainable.  While a retailer might be forced to sell off inventory that isn’t moving at an operating loss to recoup part of the investment, selling a popular item as a loss leader is merely intended to increase traffic through the store.

Do the math; if a retail sells everything at or below cost, they go out of business — regardless of the volume.  In fact, the higher the volume, the quicker they go under.

I personally tend to do the bulk of my shopping at retails that offer a fair price for goods and services on a daily basis; and pickup items I use at retailers who are offering them at a substantial savings when it’s convenient (and often stock-pill those items if they’re something I use).

Let’s face it — you work hard for the money you have, and as an educated consumer you can keep more of your money in your pocket; let the retailers worry about themselves.

Caveat emptor · Cavet venditor


Let us imagine that Keats, instead of writing an ode on a Grecian urn, plunged into a study of classical art, took voluminous notes and sketches in the British Museum, then set out to write a definitive work proving that Greek painting is the greatest the world has ever seen and using a particular urn as his crowning example. In the course of a long book, he provides chapters on courtship (advising modern couples to defer marriage because of the pleasures of self-denial), on ancient rituals, and on various theories of the imagination, including also some footnotes proposing a restructuring of the British Museum, and, finally, suggesting that we turn to the Arcadians for models of our social institutions. Let us also assume that the individual points are made in the form of general assertions, some of them evidently hyperbolical, so that we would not at first, perhaps, trust the voice and would need to sort out the statements and reconcile them afterward. Somewhere along the way would appear the sentence “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” as if spontaneously but with great emphasis. Finally, let us assume that Keats wrote prose assiduously for over fifty years and that the present example is typical of his style of organization.

·&nbspPaul L. Sawyer, Preface to the author’s Ruskin’s Poetic Argument: The Design of the Major Works

The Cosmic Connection

At most, one exchange would be possible between the most distant galaxies in the universe. Two exchanges of information at the velocity of light would take more time than there is, according to modern cosmology.

· Carl Sagan, The Cosmic Connection

Claude Lorraine

Perhaps there is no more impressive scene on earth than the solitary extent of the Campagna of Rome under evening light. Let the reader imagine himself for a moment withdrawn from the sounds and motion of the living world, and sent forth alone into this wild and wasted plain. The earth yields and crumbles beneath his foot, tread he never so lightly, for its substance is white, hollow, and carious, like the dusty wreck of the bones of men.’ The long knotted grass waves and tosses feebly in the evening wind, and the shadows of its motion shake feverishly along the banks of ruin that lift themselves to the sunlight. Hillocks of mouldering earth heave around him, as if the dead beneath were struggling in their sleep ; scattered blocks of black stone., four-square, remnants of mighty edifices, not one left upon another, lie upon them to keep them down. A dull purple, poisonous haze stretches level along the desert, veiling its spectral wrecks of massy ruins, on whose rents the red light rests like dying fire on defiled altars. The blue ridge of the Alban mount lifts itself against a solemn space of green, clear, quiet sky. Watch-towers of dark clouds stand steadfastly along the promontories of the Apennines. From the plain to the mountains, the shattered aqueducts, pier beyond pier, melt into the darkness, like shadowy and countless troops of funeral mourners, passing from a nation’s grave. Let us, with Claude, make a few “ideal” alterations in this landscape. First, we will reduce the multitudinous precipices of the Apennines to four sugar-loaves. Secondly, we will remove the Alban mount, and put a large dust-heap in its stead. Next, we will knock down the greater part of the aqueducts, and leave only an arch or two, that their infinity of length may no longer be painful from its monotony. For the purple mist and declining sun, we will substitute a bright blue sky, with round white clouds. Finally, we will get rid of the unpleasant ruins in the foreground; we will plant some handsome trees therein, we will send for some fiddlers, and get up a dance, and a picnic party.

· John Ruskin, on Claude Lorraine