As with our colleges, so with a hundred ‘modern improvements;’ there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance. The devil goes on exacting compound interest to the last for his early share and numerous succeeding investments in them. Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at…

And if I have anything else to say to you it is this: do not think that the person who is trying to console you lives effortlessly among the simple, quiet words that sometimes make you feel better. His life is full of troubles and sadness and falls far short of them. But if it were any different he could never have found the words that he did.

The accountant lingers at his children’s doorway a moment more, listening to the easy rhythm of their breathing, and something cold moves through him, like the passage of a ghost – but he know that’s not it. It’s more like the portent of a future. A future that must never come to pass…
…and for the first time, he gives rise to a thought that is silently echoed in millions of homes that night.
My God… what have we done?

Shah Ismail had fallen victim to the rarely used, great Uzbek anti-Shiite potato and sturgeon curse, which required quantities of potatoes and caviar which were not easy to amass, and a unity of purpose among the Sunni witches which was likewise difficult to achieve.

Why I Am Happy

Now has come, an easy time. I let it
roll. There is a lake somewhere
so blue and far nobody owns it.
A wind comes by and a willow listens
gracefully.
I hear all this, every summer. I laugh
and cry for every turn of the world,
its terribly cold, innocent spin.
That lake stays blue and free; it goes
on and on.
And I know where it is.

When you are consumed with the rightness or wrongness of a given issue-whether it’s fracking or gun control or genetically engineered food-it’s easy to lose track of what the issue actually is. A moral compass can convince you that all the answers are obvious (even when they’re not); that there is a bright line between right and wrong (when often there isn’t); and, worst, that you are certain you already know everything you need to know about a subject so you stop trying to learn more.

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