Mark Twain – Learning the River (Ch. 6 from Life on the Mississippi) Somehow the “Paul Jones” lost 2 weeks of our travels from Cincinnati to New Orleans. But that gave me a chance to speak with one of the pilots who taught me how to steer. This got meContinue Reading

Edmund Burke – A Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777) This letter is regarding the last 2 acts passed in Parliament regarding the troubles in America. They stem from the same policy. They not only hurt Americans but us over here in England as well. I hate the ideaContinue Reading

On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth by Thomas de Quincey (1823) I was always puzzled about the knocking at the gate in Macbeth right after Duncan’s murder. But I never knew why. It reflected back on the murder with an awfulness & solemnity… but why? Don’t pay attentionContinue Reading

Of Death – Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Men fear death like kids fear the dark Natural fear of the dark is increased by tales & so is fear of death The contemplation of death is holy & religious but the fear of it is weakness In religion, there’s often aContinue Reading

Of Discourse by Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Some people would rather be known as being witty & being able to hold an argument than to be known for judgment & being able to discern truth. As if it were higher praise to be said to know what to say ratherContinue Reading

Of Adversity – Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) In a speech, Seneca said – the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired If miracles are command over nature, they definitely appear in adversity In another speech,Continue Reading

“A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country” by Jonathan Swift (1729) Everywhere you go in Ireland, you see female beggars with up to 6 kids, dressed in rags & asking for money Instead of doing honest work, they’re outContinue Reading

“How Should One Read a Book?” by Virginia Woolf (1925) I can only answer for myself because you really ought not take advice from others. Just follow your instincts, use reason & come up with your own conclusions These are merely suggestions – don’t give up your independence Difficult toContinue Reading

“The Sphinx” by Francis Bacon (1561-1626) The Sphinx was a mythological creature – part woman, part bird, part griffin, living on a mountain near Thebes She ambushed travelers forcing them to answer riddles she got from the muses If they didn’t answer correctly, she’d rip them to pieces If oneContinue Reading

“On Swift” by William Hazlitt (1778-1830) Swift’s ability as a poet is often overlooked because of his ability to write prose If he had never written “Tale of a Tub” or “Gulliver’s Travels”, he’d still be known as a poet Dry humor, agreeable morality, exquisite tone of irony, touching pathosContinue Reading

“What Is a Classic?” by Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) It all depends… if someone I trust recommends it to me, I’ll give it a whirl – all my attention & give my honest opinion The English have been writing essays for non-personal opinions – abstract & moral – should beContinue Reading

“Measurement” by Norman Robert Campbell (1880-1949) Measurement is important because so many sciences are math-based & require it for measurement But explaining what it is is harder – its use, its rationale & this is an attempt at that What is measurement? wasn’t around until a high degree of civilizationContinue Reading

“Of Love” by Francis Bacon (1561–1626) Love is best kept to the stage instead of real life It’s usually best for comedies but once in a while for tragedies Of all great men in history only Marcus Antonius & Appius Claudius were not able to keep love in check EpicurusContinue Reading

“Of Followers and Friends” by Francis Bacon (1561–1626) Costly followers are not good The more you take on, the less free you are They’re not so much costly as they are wearing & annoying Followers should only expect acceptance, recommendation & protection from wrongs Followers in factions are even worseContinue Reading