Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On Immortality

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.
Woody Allen

A toy which people cry for,
And on their knees apply for,
Dispute, contend and lie for,
And if allowed
Would be right proud
Eternally to die for
Ambrose Bierce

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

T-shirt humor

I’m running out of places to hide the bodies! Don’t piss me off...

To err is human, to blame it on someone else shows management potential.

You'll always be my best friend, you know too much!

I'm multi-talented: I can talk and piss you off at the same time.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Encyclopedia For Sale

The add in the newspaper: Encyclopedia Britannica for sale. No longer needed. Got married last month. My wife knows everything.

Monday, December 12, 2005

On Fire

When you are on fire, people WILL get out of your way.
Richard Pryor

Sunday, October 23, 2005

About Information

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
Gertrude Stein

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

About Copyright

Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Mark Twain

Thursday, September 22, 2005

About Time

I've been on a calendar, but never on time.
Marilyn Monroe

It's never too late for time management.
Susan H. Cramm

Time is God's way to keep everything from happening at once.
James Brown

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

On Drinking

The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.
Humphrey Bogart

I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.
W.C. Fields

Beer: It's not just for breakfast anymore.

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Benjamin Franklin

Monday, September 19, 2005

On Kids

Be nice to your kids...They will pick out your nursing home.

Never have children, only grandchildren.
Gore Vidal

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

On Warfare

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
Sun Tzu from The Art of War

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Monday, September 05, 2005

Woody Allen

Woody Allen, (born Allen Stewart Königsberg on December 1, 1935), is an American film director, screenwriter, stand up comic, playwright, short story writer, and musician whose large body of work and cerebral style have made him one of the most widely respected and prolific filmmakers in the modern era. He writes and directs his own movies and has acted in many of them as well. Allen draws heavily on literature, philosophy, European cinema and most importantly, New York City, where he was born and in which he has lived all his life, for much of his inspiration.

Allen was born in Brooklyn, New York, into a Jewish family. His parents Martin Konigsberg and Nettea Cherrie, and his sister, Letty, lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he attended a Hebrew school for eight years. After that, he went to Public School 99 and then to Midwood High, where "Red" (as he was called because of his hair) impressed students with his extraordinary talent at cards and magic tricks. To raise money, he began writing gags for the agent David O. Alber, who sold them to newspaper columnists. Reportedly, Allen's first published joke was "I am two with Nature." At sixteen, he started writing for show stars like Sid Caesar and began calling himself Woody Allen. He was a gifted comedian from an early age.

He would later joke that when he was young he was often sent to inter-faith summer camps, in which he "was savagely beaten by children of all races and creeds."

At nineteen, he started writing scripts for The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show and others. In 1957, he won his first Emmy Award.

He started writing prose and plays, and in 1960, started a new career as a stand-up comedian and also began writing for the popular Candid Camera television show, even appearing in some episodes. Together with his managers he turned his weaknesses into his strengths and developed the neurotic, nervous, and shy figure famous from his later movies. He soon became an immensely popular comedian and appeared frequently in nightclubs and on television.

Examples of Allen's standup act can be heard on the album Standup Comic, including the famous routine wherein Allen brings a live moose to a costume party. The moose comes in second in the costume contest to the Berkowitzes, a couple in a moose costume.

His first movie production was What's New, Pussycat? in 1965, for which he wrote the screenplay. It was a largely unpleasant experience for Allen as he was trapped in Paris for six months during the production. Furthermore, the studio never showed much respect for his script, altering the film to the point where it bore little resemblance to Allen's original vision. Allen's first directorial effort was What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), in which an existing Japanese spy movie was redubbed in English by Allen and his friends with completely new, comic dialogue. In 1967, he also appeared in the offbeat James Bond spoof, Casino Royale.

His first conventional directing effort was Take The Money and Run (1969), which was followed by Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Sleeper, and Love and Death. In 1972, he also starred in the film version of his own play called Play It Again, Sam, which was directed by Herbert Ross. All of Allen's early films are pure comedies that relied heavily on slapstick, inventive sight gags, and non-stop one-liners. Among the many notable influences on these films are Bob Hope and Groucho Marx.

Annie Hall DVD cover his most successful movies were produced in a ten year period starting with Annie Hall; other critical and financial successes were Manhattan, The Purple Rose of Cairo (named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best films of all time, and Allen's personal favorite) and Hannah and Her Sisters (winner of three Academy Awards).

The Front DVD CoverHe returned to directing in 1977's Annie Hall, a modern classic that marked a major turn away to more sophisticated humor and thoughtful drama -- winning four Academy Awards. The film set the standard for modern romantic comedy and also started a fashion trend with the unique clothes worn by Diane Keaton in the film (the off-beat, masculine clothing, such as ties with cardigans, was actually Keaton's own). He also directed the serious drama Interiors, in the manner of the great Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman, one of Allen's major influences.

In 1976, he starred in, but did not direct, The Front, a humorous and poignant account of Hollywood blacklisting during the 1950s.

Most of his 1980s films, even the comedies, have somber and philosophical undertones. Many, like September and Stardust Memories, are often said to be heavily influenced by the works of European directors, most notably Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. Stardust Memories was considered by many to be a biting piece of work in which the main character (played by Allen) expresses resentment and scorn for his fans. In the film, overcome by the recent death of a friend from illness, he states, "I don't want to make funny movies any more." However, by the mid-80s Allen had begun to combine his love of both tragic and comic elements with the release of such films as Hannah and Her Sisters, Husbands and Wives and Crimes and Misdemeanors.


Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell was born on 18 May 1872 at Trellech, Monmouthshire, Wales, into an aristocratic English family. His paternal grandfather, John Russell, the 1st Earl Russell, had been Prime Minister in the 1840s and 1860s, and was the second son of the 6th Duke of Bedford. The Russells had been prominent for several centuries in Britain, and were one of Britain's leading Whig (Liberal) families. Russell's mother Kate (nee Stanley) was also from an aristocratic family, and was the sister of Rosalind Howard, Countess of Carlisle. Russell's parents were quite radical for their times—Russell's father, Viscount Amberley, was an atheist and consented to his wife's affair with their children's tutor, the biologist Douglas Spalding. Both were early advocates of birth control at a time when this was considered scandalous. John Stuart Mill, the Utilitarian philosopher, was Russell's godfather.

Russell had two siblings: Frank (nearly seven years older than Bertrand), and Rachel (four years older). In June 1875 Russell's mother died of diphtheria, followed shortly by Rachel, and in January 1876 his father died of bronchitis following a long period of depression. Frank and Bertrand were placed in the care of their staunchly Victorian grandparents, who lived at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park. The first Earl Russell died in 1878, and his widow the Countess Russell (nee Lady Frances Elliot) was the dominant family figure for the rest of Russell's childhood and youth. The countess was from a Scottish Presbyterian family, and successfully petitioned a British court to set aside a provision in Amberley's will requiring the children to be raised as agnostics. Despite her religious conservatism, she held progressive views in other areas (accepting Darwinism and supporting Irish Home Rule), and her influence on Bertrand Russell's outlook on social justice and standing up for principle remained with him throughout his life. However, the atmosphere at Pembroke Lodge was one of frequent prayer, emotional repression and formality - Frank reacted to this with open rebellion, but the young Bertrand learned to hide his feelings.

Russell's adolescence was very lonely, and he often contemplated suicide. He remarked in his autobiography that his keenest interests were in sex, religion and mathematics, and that only the wish to know more mathematics kept him from suicide. He was educated at home by a series of tutors, and he spent countless hours in his grandfather's library. His brother Frank introduced him to Euclid, which transformed Russell's life.

Russell won a scholarship to read mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge University, and commenced his studies there in 1890. He became acquainted with the younger G.E. Moore and came under the influence of Alfred North Whitehead, who recommended him to the Cambridge Apostles. He quickly distinguished himself in mathematics and philosophy, graduating with a B.A. in the former subject in 1893 and adding a fellowship in the latter in 1895.

Russell first met the American Quaker, Alys Pearsall Smith, when he was seventeen years old. He fell in love with the puritanical, high-minded Alys, who was connected to several educationists and religious activists, and, contrary to his grandmother's wishes, he married her in December 1894. Their marriage began to fall apart in 1902 when Russell realised he no longer loved her; they divorced nineteen years later. During this period, Russell had passionate (and often simultaneous) affairs with, among others, Lady Ottoline Morrell and the actress Lady Constance Malleson. Alys pined for him for these years and continued to love Russell for the rest of her life.

Russell began his published work in 1896 with German Social Democracy, a study in politics that was an early indication of a lifelong interest in political and social theory. In 1896 he taught German social democracy at the London School of Economics, where he also lectured on the science of power in the fall of 1937.

Russell became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1908. The first of three volumes of Principia Mathematica (written with Whitehead) was published in 1910, which (along with the earlier The Principles of Mathematics) soon made Russell world famous in his field. In 1911 he became acquainted with the Austrian engineering student, Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose genius he soon recognised (and who he viewed as a successor who would continue his work on mathematical logic). He spent hours dealing with Wittgenstein's various phobias and his frequent bouts of despair. The latter was often a drain on Russell's energy, but he continued to be fascinated by him and encouraged his academic development, including the publication of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1922.

During the First World War, Russell engaged in pacifist activities, and in 1916 he was dismissed from Trinity College following his conviction under the Defence of the Realm Act. A later conviction resulted in six months' imprisonment in Brixton prison (see Activism).

In 1920, Russell travelled to Russia as part of an official delegation sent by the British government to investigate the effects of the Russian Revolution. Russell's lover Dora Black also visited Russia independently at the same time - she was enthusiastic about the revolution, but Russell's experiences destroyed his previous tentative support for it.

Russell subsequently lectured in Peking on philosophy for one year, accompanied by Dora. While in China, Russell became gravely ill with pneumonia, and incorrect reports of his death were published in the Japanese press. When the couple visited Japan on their return journey, Dora notified journalists that "Mr Bertrand Russell, having died according to the Japanese press, is unable to give interviews to Japanese journalists".

On the couple's return to England in 1921, Dora was five months pregnant, and Russell arranged a hasty divorce from Alys, marrying Dora six days after the divorce was finalised. Their children were John Conrad Russell and Katharine Jane Russell (now Lady Katharine Tait). Russell supported himself during this time by writing popular books explaining matters of physics, ethics and education to the layman. Together with Dora, he also founded the experimental Beacon Hill School in 1927. After he left the school in 1932, Dora continued it until 1943.

Upon the death of his elder brother Frank, in 1931, Russell became the 3rd Earl Russell. He once said that his title was primarily useful for securing hotel rooms and the like.

Russell's marriage to Dora grew increasingly tenuous, and it reached a breaking point over her having two children with an American journalist, Griffin Barry. In 1936, he took as his third wife an Oxford undergraduate named Patricia ("Peter") Spence, who had been his children's governess since the summer of 1930. Russell and Peter had one son, Conrad Sebastian Robert Russell, later to become a prominent historian, and one of the leading figures in the Liberal Democrat party.

In the spring of 1939, Russell moved to Santa Barbara to lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was appointed professor at the City College of New York in 1940, but after public outcries, the appointment was annulled by the courts: his radical opinions made him "morally unfit" to teach at the college. The protest was originated by the mother of a student who would not have been eligible for his graduate-level course in abstract, mathematical logic. Many intellectuals, led by John Dewey, protested his treatment. Dewey and Horace M. Kallen edited a collection of articles on the CCNY affair in The Bertrand Russell Case. He soon joined the Barnes Foundation, lecturing to a varied audience on the history of philosophy - these lectures formed the basis of A History of Western Philosophy. His relationship with the eccentric Albert C. Barnes soon soured, and he returned to Britain in 1944 to rejoin the faculty of Trinity College.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Russell participated in many broadcasts over the BBC on various topical and philosophical subjects. By this time in his life, Russell was world famous outside of academic circles, frequently the subject or author of magazine and newspaper articles, and was called upon to offer up opinions on a wide variety of subjects, even mundane ones. A History of Western Philosophy (1945) became a best-seller, and provided Russell with a steady income for the remainder of his life. Along with his friend Einstein, Russell had reached superstar status as an intellectual. In 1949, Russell was awarded the Order of Merit, and the following year he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In 1952, Russell was divorced by Peter, with whom he had been very unhappy. Conrad, Russell's son by Peter, did not see his father between the time of the divorce and 1968 (at which time his decision to meet his father caused a permanent breach with his mother). Russell married his fourth wife, Edith Finch, soon after the divorce. They had known each other since 1925, and Edith had lectured in English at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, sharing a house for twenty years with Russell's old friend Lucy Donnelly. Edith remained with him until his death, and, by all accounts, their relationship was close and loving throughout their marriage. Russell's eldest son, John, suffered from serious mental illness, which was the source of ongoing disputes between Russell and John's mother, Russell's former wife, Dora. John's wife Susan was also mentally ill, and eventually Russell and Edith became the legal guardians of their three daughters (two of whom were later diagnosed with schizophrenia).

Russell spent the 1950s and 1960s engaged in various political causes, primarily related to nuclear disarmament and opposing the Vietnam War. He wrote a great many letters to world leaders during this period. He also became a hero to many of the youthful members of the New Left. During the 1960s, in particular, Russell became increasingly vocal about his disapproval of the American government's policies. In 1963 he became the inaugural recipient of the Jerusalem Prize, an award for writers concerned with the freedom of the individual in society.

Bertrand Russell published his three-volume autobiography in the late 1960s. While he grew frail, he remained lucid until the end, when, in 1970, he died in his home, Plas Penrhyn, Penrhyndeudraeth, Merioneth, Wales. His ashes, as his will directed, were to be scattered.

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce (born 24 June 1842 – date of death uncertain; probably December 1913 or early 1914) American satirist, critic, short story writer, editor and journalist. He is perhaps most famous for his serialized mock lexicon, The Devil's Dictionary, in which, over the years, he scathed American culture and accepted wisdom by pointing out alternate, more practical definitions for common words.

On Oscar Wilde
"The ineffable dunce has nothing to say … embroidering it with reasonless vulgarities of attitudes, gestures and attire. There was never an impostor so hateful … a crank so variously stupid and dull. He makes me tired."