The Oxford Book of Aphorisms (by John Gross) Excerpts

Probably no invention came more easily to man than heaven. Lichtenberg, Aphorisms 1764-99

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I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching. Emerson, Essays

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Life is a tragedy wherein we sit as spectators for a while and then act out our part in it. Swift Thoughts on Various Subjects 1711

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Men shut their doors against a setting sun. Shakespeare, Timon of Athens

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Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turned it into a fact. Balzac

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In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends. Churton Collins 1914

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Love is blind, but marriage restores its sight. Lichtenberg, Aphorisms

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Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific laws. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

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The fact of having been born is a bad augury for immortality. Santayana, The Life of Reason 1905

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At 50 you begin to be tired of the world, and at 60 the world is tired of you. Count Oxenstierna, Reflections and Maxims, mid-17th century

News: Most Influential vs Most Thoughtful

My list is decidedly different. I chose people whose contributions, judgement and commentary I respect.

Mediaite’s Most Influential in NewsEric Burleigh’s List of Thought Leaders in Media
1. Suzanne Scott Fox News1. Kara Swisher
2. Elon Musk 2. Andrew Ross Sorkin CNBC
3. Chris Licht and David Zaslav3. Maggie Haberman NYT
4. Tucker Carlson Fox News4. Maureen Dowd NYT
5. Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinsski MSNBC5. Jim Acosta CNN
6. Sean Hannity Fox6. Chris Wallace CNN
7. Matt Drudge7. Bill Maher HBO
8. Lester Holt, Norah O’Donnell and David Muir8. Jonathan Karl ABC
9. Maggie Haberman9.  Karine Jean-Pierre White House Press Sec
10. Greg Gutfeld10. Sam Harris
11. Ben Shapiro11. Charles Barkley TNT
12. Jake Tapper CNN12. Nicole Wallace MSNBC

Getting Schooled

A sober and somewhat depressing essay about the states of education and teaching within the United States.

Here are just a few of the longstanding problems plaguing American education: a generalized decline in literacy; the faltering international performance of American students; an inability to recruit enough qualified college graduates into the teaching profession; a lack of trained and able substitutes to fill teacher shortages; unequal access to educational resources; inadequate funding for schools; stagnant compensation for teachers; heavier workloads; declining prestige; and deteriorating faculty morale.

There’s a Reason There Aren’t Enough Teachers in America. Many Reasons, Actually. Thomas B. Edsall NYT 12/14/22

I‘m hardly surprised to read about the many failures of the American education system. We need to prioritize education as much as we prioritize health care and defense spending. I had not factored the effects of the “culture wars” but I can imagine the toll it has created among many teachers. The job is hard enough now without adding politics and wacky prohibitions about what is taught and what books pass a purity test.

Education and teaching was much better when I attended school between 1958 to 1974. Teachers were generally respected. There were very few incidents of parental interventions. There was bullying but not to the degree seen today. There were no worries of a crazed gunman running into a class and shooting students. There was interest in pursuing teaching as a career. How that has diminished since I attended school!

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students graduating from college with bachelor’s degrees in education fell from 176,307 in 1970-71 to 104,008 in 2010-11 to 85,058 in 2019-20.

Edsall NYT 12/14/22

The failure to provide or receive a good education is a bane for the rest of one’s life. We know what the problems are. How to fix all the holes in our education system is another matter.

Running on Empty

As I get older, there is a growing list of things that I can longer do or have lost interest in doing them…

Image by publicdomainpictures from pixabay
  • Playing basketball
  • Sex
  • Jogging or running
  • Ability to focus on a televised sporting event or show
  • Enjoy dining out
  • Patiently waiting in lines
  • Doctor appointments
  • Driving at night
  • Driving long distances
  • Children parties
  • Commercials, advertisements, public address notifications
  • Traffic
  • Politicians
  • Talking politics
  • Elections
  • Donald Trump
  • Eating apples
  • Religion or talking religion
  • Feigning interest in conversations or with people where I have little compatibility

Takeaways from the Results of the Midterm Elections

  • While Democrats did not win (they lost the House), in betting parlance, they easily covered the spread and earned a draw.
  • The Democrats backed into a decent result as opposed to earning it.
  • Democrats’ best friend = Donald Trump. Trump handpicked, endorsed and campaigned for many of the GOP candidates who were generally mediocre, unqualified and sometimes uncivilized.
  • Trump also selected the Supreme Court members who put over the repeal of Roe vs. Wade that spurred angry young single women to the polls.
  • Possibly voters took notice of the January 6, 2021 Congressional Hearings and decided to mete out their punishment of a party that supported a takeover of the nation’s Capitol and electoral process.
  • Election results have encouraged Joe Biden to run in 2024. Election results did not discourage Donald Trump to run in 2024. Both are delusional old men who should leave the game for younger players.

Thoughts after Reading The Pope at War by David Kertzer

  • Excellent book. Reads like a novel. Highly recommended for students, scholars and readers interested in World War II and specifically the Catholic Church’s role dealing with the leaders of Italy (Mussolini) and Germany (Hitler).
  • While understanding that the Pope needed to proceed cautiously on the diplomatic front to protect the Church and Catholics who lived in Italy and Germany, Pius XII generally caved to the demands of the Fascists and Nazis.
  • In pre-war Germany, there was evidence of abuse committed by Catholic priests. This was used as a negotiation card by the Nazis to get Pius XII to agree to their terms.
  • Pius XII’s reluctance to speak out against the atrocities committed against the Jews was an act of moral cowardice.
  • Pius XII did not address the Nazi bombings of London, Rotterdam and Warsaw as they occurred. However he lobbied the Americans and British not to bomb Rome and the Vatican.
  • Kertzer provided stories where priests and nuns refused to aid Jews seeking to hide or flee from Nazi pursuers.
  • Pius XII did lobby Nazi authorities to protect Jews who did convert to Catholicism. He did very little to protest the poor treatment and murder of Jews.
  • Pius XII was fully aware of what atrocities were occurring.
  • Many of the atrocities against Jews were committed by Nazi officers and soldiers who were Catholic.
  • Pius XII does not merit any consideration for canonization. He certainly was no saint.