Category Archives: literature


No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC), The Lion and the Mouse

The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

There are no thanks for a kindness, which has been delayed.

Compassion is the basis of all morality.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)

There is no duty more obligatory than the repayment of kindness.
Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.
Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), The Confucian Analects

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
Ettiene De Grellet

Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.
George Sand (1804 – 1876)

Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.
Margaret Cho, weblog, 03-11-04

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
Tennessee Williams (1911 – 1983), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
The Dalai Lama (1935 – )

That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

Which Writer Do You Write Like?

I tested this new “Writing Analyzer” which I found because I read the unmatchable Raincoaster’s most recent post on the “Shebeen Club” by giving it a sample from my recent “Aliens and Australians” blog post. I was deemed to write like :

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I thought to myself, I did, Wow! That’s cool.

So I decided to do a control check and I tested a few paragraphs from my even more recent post on Religion.

And found that

I write like
P. G. Wodehouse

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

So now I have this vision of Bertie Wooster with tentacles. Or of Cthulhu Himself with a Shoggoth named Jeeves.


Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.
Alice May Brock

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.
Calvin Trillin (1935 – )

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
Fran Lebowitz (1950 – )

My favorite animal is steak.
Fran Lebowitz (1950 – )

New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.
Orson Welles (1915 – 1985)

Fish is the only food that is considered spoiled once it smells like what it is.
P. J. O’Rourke (1947 – )

Never eat more than you can lift.
Miss Piggy


We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.
Agnes Repplier (1855 – 1950), Americans and Others, 1912

Total absence of humor renders life impossible.
Colette (1873 – 1954), Chance Acquaintances, 1952

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
e e cummings (1894 – 1962)

Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.
Elsa Maxwell

One doesn’t have a sense of humor. It has you.
Larry Gelbart

Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.
Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Beware of too much laughter, for it deadens the mind and produces oblivion.
The Talmud

Laughter is the closest distance between two people.
Victor Borge (1909 – 2000)

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.

W. H. Auden (1907 – 1973)

Even More Lesser Books

Equal To Zero

Late Afternoon

The Grapes of Annoyance

Naked Morning Tea

There is the Green Sheep

The Taming of the Dog

Disliking Alison Ashley

Dante’s Camp Fire

Harry Potter and the Plastic Cup of Fire

Bridget Jones’ Blog

More Lesser Books

The Moderately Hungry Caterpillar

The Cider House Suggestions

Charlie and the Carob Factory

I Can Drag My Legs Through Puddles

The Spy who Stayed out in the Cold


Mein Lamp

The Ordinary Gatsby

One Jumped Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Lesser Books

On one of my twitter feeds there is a stream of book names which never quite made it into print.

Here are a few.

Gone With The Breeze

The Twig of Man

Charlie and the Chocolate Bar

The Train Traveller’s Wife

A Select Few Creatures Great and Small

A Drawing of the Artist as a Small Boy

Light Breeze in the Willows

Sub Clause 22

The Bearable Lightness of Being

The Grapes of Annoyance



That will do for now. There may be more to follow #lesserbooks

Thoughts for the Day

Books are not made for furniture, booksbut there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.

Henry Ward Beecher

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

Mark Twain


During the week I had the opportunity to use the famous phrase, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

I then discovered the following:

Whilst that quote is often attributed to Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, it does not actually appear in any of his writings.voltaire

Ewelyn Beatrice Hall uses the phrase in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), and later claimed that she had been paraphrasing Voltaire’s words in his Essay on Tolerance: “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too”.

Norbert Guterman (in his 1963 “A book of French Quotations”) suggested that the probable source for the quotation was a line in a 6 February 1770 letter to M. le Riche: “Monsieur l’abbe, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”

Needless to say, I had not used the phrase in its original form. It was in response to an article about the Chinese Government pressuring the Australian Press Club to drop an address by exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer at their Press Club Lunch.

My version, which I have used before to illustrate the evil of dictatorial regimes, is, “I do not agree with what you say and I will defend to your death my right to stop you from saying it!”


From “The Scientist” of 23rd July, 2009 comes a report that the science of thegenome Human Genome Project should be recorded in stories, poetry and art.

Science Fiction has been doing this for generations in other fields of science and perhaps the field of the very small bits should also be celebrated.

The AC’s and the GT’s of life should become an artform.

Chromosome 13

This chromosomal Usual Suspects line:
Tentacle arms in I surrender pose;

Look closer, though: each is made of zips.
The microtubal slider is drawn down

Their lines sag open, yawn, and through
These smallest needle-eyes emerge

Men, elephants and whales; bulked biospheres:
A meta boa’s swallow in reverse.

This isn’t a surrender: they’ve all won.
The arms are up in celebration.

Adam Roberts


I have found, hidden at the back of my bookshelves, a slim volume named “The Superior Person’s Little Book of Words” which was compiled by one Peter Bowler, a lexicographer who lives near Brisbane and collects old pewter.

Some of his words are irresistible. The first two entries contain the Superior Person’s Ultimate Flame. I must find a way include it in a usenet “discussion”.

ABECEDARIAN, a. (i) Arranged in alphabetical order; (ii) elemen­tary, devoid of sophistication. The present book may be considered by some to fit both applications. For a more in­teresting meaning, see unbelievers defence, the.

ABECEDARIAN INSULT, AN. ‘Sir, you are an apogenous, bovaristic, coprolalial, dasypygal, excerebrose, facinorous, gnathonic, hircine, ithyphallic, jumentous, kyphotic, labrose, mephitic, napiform, oligophrenial, papuliferous, quisquilian, rebarbative, saponaceous, thersitical, unguinous, ventripotent, wlatsome, xylocephalous, yirning, zoophyte: Translation: ‘Sir, you are an impotent, conceited, obscene, hairy-buttocked, brainless, wicked, toadying, goatish, indecent, stable-smelling, hunch­backed, thick-lipped, stinking, turnip-shaped, feeble-minded, pimply, trashy, repellent, smarmy, foul-mouthed, greasy, gluttonous, loathsome, wooden-headed, whining, extremely low form of animal life:

Thought for the day

Edible; adj. Good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

We Built This City


Frankly Scarlett, I DO Give A Damn

From the book of the same name, published in 1996. The authors were Beverley West and Nancy Peske. They asked “Why do all the great romances of literature end tragically – for the heroine? Surely there must be a way for love to flourish without some poor unfortunate woman throwing herself in front of a train, giving in to consumption, being dumped, or settling for Mr Not-so-right. Here is the title story from their book.

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful but men seldom realised it when caught by her charms, her keen intellect, her independent spirit, and her considerable depth of character, all of which men valued far more than a pretty face or a seventeen-inch waist. Scarlett could have had her pick of any of the young bucks in the county. Unfortunately, as a result of self-esteem issues, she set her sights on the tall, handsome, golden­haired Ashley Wilkes, whose reserved demeanor was not really an indication of masculine strength but rather of a deep-seated fear of intimacy.

Ashley’s boundary issues and his reluctance to embrace change led him to marry his cousin Melanie. In a typical male projection, Ashley believed that his fiancee was a mere reflec­tion of himself, not recognizing that she was a pillar of soft­spoken feminine power who represented the enduring ‘spirit of the conquered South – minus its racism, classism, and whole­sale destruction and exploitation of innocent plant crops.

“She’s just like me, Scarlett, part of my blood, and we understand each other,” Ashley explained, attempting to rationalize his inability to bond with a woman who had a well-developed sense of self.

Scarlett, not one for avoidance behavior, replied, “Why don’t you say it, you coward? You’re afraid to marry me!” and punctuated her message non verbally with a sobering slap to Ashley’s cheek. Unfortunately, this did not jar loose Ashley’s innermost emotions, so mired was he in his masculist dysfunction.

Happily for Scarlett, this exchange was overheard by a rakish yet sensitive and supportive visitor from Charleston, Captain Rhett Butler. Rhett, despite the many years of immersion in a warring male culture dedicated to brutality and oppression, instantly recognized Scarlett for the fully realized, actuated, multifaceted woman that she was.

“You, my dear Ms. O’Hara, are a girl – excuse me, a woman – of rare spirit, and Mr. Wilkes should thank God on bended knee – without putting you on a sexist pedestal – for a woman with your passion for living,” said Rhett, clearly demonstrating that he was a man worthy of Scarlett’s indomitable inner strength because he shared her ability to confront difficult emotions and work through conflicts in a healthy manner.

The brokenhearted Scarlett did not immediately recognize her soulmate, sad to say. She was distracted by a couple of bad marriages, the fall of the South, the death of both of her parents, her only child, and her beloved Melanie, with whom she had bonded in their mutual struggle against patriarchy and the Yankees, and the near loss of her familial home, whose verdant acres meant more to her than life itself. Twelve years later, Scarlett realized that Rhett was her own true love and her life partner of choice, not because she needed a man to be a whole person, but because she saw the possibility for a mutually satisfying and fulfilling partnership between equals.

Allowing herself to be vulnerable, Scarlett confessed this epiphany to Rhett. “Rhett, tonight when I knew, I ran home every step of the way to tell you.”

Rhett, sensing her emotional discomfort without her having to express it, stepped in, willing to share the burden of this difficult confrontation.

“Scarlett, I realize that the confines of the antebellum South’s restricted vision of womanhood has been a tremendous obstacle in your path toward self-realization. Although it has taken you twelve years to appreciate me and how much I love you and value you as an individual, I’m here for you.”

“You mean you still love me after all of this?” Scarlett exclaimed, incredulous at the depth of his understanding, sensitivity, constancy, insightfulness, caring, gentleness, and masculine strength.

Frankly Scarlett, I do give a damn,” said Rhett. Scarlett collapsed into his arms, not because she was physically inferior, but because she had learned to surrender her illusion of control in the interests of establishing trust and intimacy with her life partner of choice.

After reaffirming their commitment to a loving, symbi­otic, monogamous relationship, Scarlett and Rhett resolved to work on improving their communication skills in order to avoid future misunderstandings. They vowed to put the past behind them and start a new life.

“But where shall we go, what shall we do?” asked Scarlett, who had ideas of her own but was committed to more open lines of communication and a sharing of the burden of common decision making.

“Let’s go to your place,” said Rhett, knowing that Tara was a touchstone for her. “I’ll cook you a nice dinner, I’ll lay a fire, and, with your consent, we can make passionate love, during which I will be as concerned with your pleasure as my own. Then while you nap, I will wash the dishes and prepare a light, healthy snack to restore our expended energy.”

As they hugged in the light of the setting sun, the wind tousling their hair, Rhett added, “Just don’t let the uncertainty of our future as citizens of a post-Reconstruction Southern society muddy your enjoyment of the moment. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Court Rules Against Book Reviewers

(May. 11, 2009) On April 23, 2009, a federal district court in the southern Russian province of Dagestan issued an unprecedented ruling, ordering a journalist of a local newspaper to pay compensation in an amount equal to US$1,000 to a writer who did not like a review of his book published in the newspaper. The plaintiff, an author whose work of fiction was reviewed in the publication’s book review section, sued the reviewer, claiming that the author and his family had experienced severe mental suffering and that his professional reputation was damaged as a result of the review. The writer stated that after reading the book review, he experienced chest pains, headache, and elevated blood pressure. He demanded to be compensated in the amount of US$150,000. Both parties were dissatisfied with the court ruling and expressed their intention to appeal.

Observers have commented that this judgment creates a very dangerous precedent, opening the way for lawsuits based on subjective opinion. Some have even suggested that if a book reviewer can be sued, a reader who did not like a book can sue the author for making a bad quality product.

The reference was found over at Cathy’s blog