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Tag Archives: Mark Twain


A Reign of Terror and a Guillotine

From A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court:

I rather wished I had gone some other road. This was not the sort of experience for a statesman to encounter who was planning out a peaceful revolution in his mind. For it could not help bringing up the unget-aroundable fact that, all gentle cant and philosophizing to the contrary notwithstanding, no people in the world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it being immutable law that all revolutions that will succeed must begin in blood, whatever may answer afterward. If history teaches anything, it teaches that. What this folk needed, then, was a Reign of Terror and a guillotine, and I was the wrong man for them.

A Compendium of Smoking Writers, Part Four or Five or Around There

I’m due for another one of these, and I kind of miss blatantly stealing images of beauty without attribution, from bloggers and websites that did the same (I did steal some of them from The Gentleman). Of note are the reprisals of Chesterton, looking as crabby as ever, and Alan Moore with his life-long imitation of a backwoods serial killer.

There are also two of Faulkner as he and his mustache enjoy a sound piping.

Not pictured below is the knock-down internal debate I had over Hugh Heffner’s status as an actual writer or merely a potboiling smut peddler that got a lucky break.

W. Somerset Maughm:
W. Somerset Maughm Smoking

Uwe Johnson. I feel like buying an analog watch just so I can set time to his haircut:
Uwe Johnson Smoking

Mark Twain:
Mark Twain Smoking

J.R.R. Tolkein:
J.R.R. Tolkein Smoking

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Smoking

Steve Martin (he counts):
Steve Martin Smoking

P.J. O’Rourke:
P.J. O'Rourke Smoking

Ian Fleming:
Ian Fleming Smoking

Goran Simić:
Goran Simić Smoking

William Faulkner:
William Faulkner Smoking

William Faulkner Smoking

Dylan Thomas:
Dylan Thomas Smoking

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Smoking

G.K. Chesterton:
G.K. Chesterton Smoking

Bob Monkhouse:
Bob Monkhouse Smoking

Bertrand Russell:
Bertrand Russell Smoking

Alan Moore:
Alan Moore Smoking

Hunter S. Thompson:
Hunter S. Thompson Smoking

The Appropriation of Nonsense, Part 1

If you’re on Facebook, chances are you’ve listed quotes that reflect your philosophy or outlook on life. They are quotes with which we agree from people we admire, but there’s never a real opportunity to showcase the ones we don’t like — unless you have your own blog and can write whatever you’d like on there, like I’m going to do, right now…

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Brian Littrel

This was spoken by one of the Backstreet Boys, who are not known to make their living primarily through proverbial wisdom. I can understand his sentiment but the sheer astronomical inaccuracy is a killer.

If you shoot for the moon and miss, you won’t land anywhere. You’ll most likely keep going until you hit something, and the chances of randomly hitting something in space are next to none. Stars aren’t really bunched together like daisies to be “landed” among, except if you’re talking about astronomical scales and not relative to the size of a human teenage girl — Ashley can’t jetpack around in space and encounter stars on either side of her whizzing by like lampposts in the motion parallax. They would be just as far apart from each other as when she was on earth.

On the off chance you “land” on a star (you won’t land on it as much as you will get burned into nothingness), it will be quite some time before that happens: the closest star is our sun, which is 150,000,000 km/93,205,678 miles. Sorry, Brian…there’s too much wrong with this for me to look past.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

What I think Colonel Sanders is saying, implicitly, is that those who do not travel end up prejudicial, bigoted, and narrow-minded (heretofore refered to as being a “schnoggleractor”). While that may be true in some cases, I don’t think the two are causally related. People who are schnoggleractic just may be averse to travel because of another, root cause. One does not sprout from the other but instead are borne from something else.

My main reason for disliking this is contextual. At the time of this quote (the mid 1860’s, in his book The Innocents Abroad) travel of the kind Twain did was safe and quick only if you had the money or knew the right people. Most of those of lesser income or standing, who had no access to such resources, were out of luck, and thus — depending how Twain’s intention for this sentence — suffered from chronic schnoggleractorism as our social fate.

When I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean, I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.” – Mariah Carey

Another contextual one. This one is so bad that it’s inconceivable that someone could say it, and Carey didn’t say it. That fact didn’t stop major news outlets from shirking due diligence and reporting it as legitimate.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mohandas Gandhi

Aside from the grossly assumed collectivism, this one is confounding. You see, the love of animals is paradoxically anthrocentric: the casual animal lover will ascribe more value onto animals that are large, aesthetically pleasing, or exhibit human-like traits (dogs, seals, lions, dolphins, butterflies, whales), but they don’t seem to care that much for the welfare for ugly, alien ones (ants, snakes, spiders, mosquitos). Thusly, the casual animal lover finds something unsettling throwing kittens in a river but doesn’t bat an eyelash about the mass extermination of bugs from DDT and other insecticides. At what point in the animal kingdom should the concern begin? Until that question is settled, I’ll pass on this one.