Happy Birthday

Thanks again to our pal Donna May for posting a birthday note. Donna says that Robbie Burns was born on this day in 1759.

I’m always surprised by the people who know this singular quote from Robbie Burns. Some might even know the origin, which is the poem “To a Louse,” written by an anonymous narrator who is sitting behind a fancied swell in a church pew. What does not surprise me is that those who know the quote consider that it is meant for someone else.

We are the one in the church pew viewing the lovely yet pompous woman kneeling in a false prayer in front of us. We see the louse crawling up her shoulder. We rarely turn to see ourselves, as the poem says, as others see us.

Happy Birthday

Mi madre and Fritz were born on the same date, October 15. Though not the same year—Nietzsche sprang onto this earth in 1844.

Posted by Philosophy Matters

And so, just a very small sampling from the most quotable of philosophers:

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”

“A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.”

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.”

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”

And then, from me very own mum, Frances Varney Hansen:

“At this stage of the game…”

“Ach mit you!”

“Two heads are better than one, even if one is a cabbage head.”

“He’s wearing the high hat…”

“The problem with letting go and letting God is that, I always want to help.”

Happy Birthday Joel


I made this for him, or to represent him, or for something, I don’t know. I made it after he died. And there it is. I would give anything to hold him once again, to kiss his fat baby cheeks, to have that time again. Those times, those days, those summers and winters, that boy, my son. Stay with me, comfort me.

Happy Birthday

Rene Descartes

Well, here’s our fellow. And all most of us know him from is the “I think, therefore I am.” Cogito ergo sum  That and the claim that Sylvester Stallone is a look-alike. (The eyes, right?)


Portrait of Descartes after Frans Hals, 1648

As posted in Brain Pickings. His twelve-vertebrae backbone of critical thinking reads as follows:

  1. The aim of our studies must be the direction of our mind so that it may form solid and true judgments on whatever matters arise.
  2. We must occupy ourselves only with those objects that our intellectual powers appear competent to know certainly and indubitably.
  3. As regards any subject we propose to investigate, we must inquire not what other people have thought, or what we ourselves conjecture, but what we can clearly and manifestly perceive by intuition or deduce with certainty. For there is no other way of acquiring knowledge.
  4. There is need of a method for finding out the truth.
  5. Method consists entirely in the order and disposition of the objects towards which our mental vision must be directed if we would find out any truth. We shall comply with it exactly if we reduce involved and obscure propositions step by step to those that are simpler, and then starting with the intuitive apprehension of all those that are absolutely simple, attempt to ascend to the knowledge of all others by precisely similar steps.
  6. In order to separate out what is quite simple from what is complex, and to arrange these matters methodically, we ought, in the case of every series in which we have deduced certain facts the one from the other, to notice which fact is simple, and to mark the interval, greater, less, or equal, which separates all the others from this.
  7. If we wish our science to be complete, those matters which promote the end we have in view must one and all be scrutinized by a movement of thought which is continuous and nowhere interrupted; they must also be included in an enumeration which is both adequate and methodical.
  8. If in the matters to be examined we come to a step in the series of which our understanding is not sufficiently well able to have an intuitive cognition, we must stop short there. We must make no attempt to examine what follows; thus we shall spare ourselves superfluous labour.
  9. We ought to give the whole of our attention to the most insignificant and most easily mastered facts, and remain a long time in contemplation of them until we are accustomed to behold the truth clearly and distinctly.
  10. In order that it may acquire sagacity the mind should be exercised in pursuing just those inquiries of which the solution has already been found by others; and it ought to traverse in a systematic way even the most trifling of men’s inventions though those ought to be preferred in which order is explained or implied.
  11. If, after we have recognized intuitively a number of simple truths, we wish to draw any inference from them, it is useful to run them over in a continuous and uninterrupted act of thought, to reflect upon their relations to one another, and to grasp together distinctly a number of these propositions so far as is possible at the same time. For this is a way of making our knowledge much more certain, and of greatly increasing the power of the mind.
  12. Finally we ought to employ all the aids of understanding, imagination, sense and memory, first for the purpose of having a distinct intuition of simple propositions; partly also in order to compare the propositions.


Happy Birthday

To our Dear Friend


Vintage Books & Anchor Books

And here’s another appearance of that other friend—Synchronicity—I was just thinking that I didn’t have all of Blake’s poetry, and perhaps I should check into a book store. Then, viola, this appeared on Facebook. A nod to the gods, eh?

Thoughts At The Coffee Club

I might have to share Coffee Club moments as the power is still out in my neighborhood. I gave up waiting at home as the call for coffee became absolutely dangerous. And my electronics needed charging.

But, a purpose: John Berger was born in Hackney, London, England on this day in 1926.

“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.”― John Berger, Keeping a Rendezvous.       Happy Birthday Johnny!


Meanwhile, I’m sharing an outlet with another boother as the place is packed. I wonder how we will manage when the power grid is completely shut down due to someone’s ideological insanity. (Is there any other kind?)

More & more I think the off-the-grid folks have the right idea. Although this is becoming like the bomb shelters of the 50s, isn’t it? If you didn’t have one you had to hope someone who knew & loved you would let you join them. My neighbors wouldn’t share theirs with me. They said they didn’t have enough room in it for anyone else. Jesus. An awful thing to happen to a little kid.

Happy Birthday


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Yo Yo Ma’s primary performance instrument is a Montagnana Cello, built in 1733, valued at 16 Cr INR (2.5 Million USD).
Yo Yo is the Willie Nelson of the classical world. He’ll play a duet with anyone! And he’ll explain things. Once, when I was watching him with his son at the piano, Yo Yo was quite going on about musical concepts. You could see his son getting more and more impatient. And he said, (a few times) “let’s play.” Ma would say, “Just a minute,” and speak on. Finally the boy turned to the piano and began playing. Ma said, “Oh!” and drew his bow around and began playing at once, having to quickly catch up. Ah yes, the power of children to do what adults cannot!
Play On!