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“People only care about being rich now – this is the only way to achieve social prestige. Before, careers weren’t so important; people had more time for their friends. In the countryside life has changed completely. My granny lives in the southern mountains and in her village, when I was growing up, everyone had a cow and a pig and chickens. Now they are selling off their cows because the milk is worth nothing. There is no future in small farming and the young people are leaving for the towns. It’s sad when I go there because I’m watching a whole way of life disappear. I hope that Poland will bring in laws and regulations that make life easier for people, rather than more difficult, the way it is with the bureaucracy we have now. I hope I can get a job that pays well enough for me to own a flat and also travel around the world.” –“Meet the Children Who Came in from the Cold,” the Guardian
John Kenneth Galbraith: Edward Kennedy’s age and youthful inexperience were, at the beginning, sadly adverse circumstances. But not always. Arising early one morning in his first campaign to shake hands with the workers arriving at a Massachusetts factory, he was greeted by a man of mature years who came rolling down the line. He said, “Teddy, m’boy, I hear you’ve never done a day’s work in your life.” It was the candidate’s most vulnerable point; he braced himself to make a reply, but the old man didn’t wait for it: “Let me tell you somethin’, lad. You haven’t missed a thing.” –“The Many Sides of Ted Kennedy: Memories from those who loved and loathed the man,” Salon
One of the leading theories of why religion is so popular goes by the ominous name of ‘Terror Management Theory’. Put simply, this is the idea that people turn to religion to ease their fear of death. Gareth Morris and Tina McAdie, of Huddersfield University in the UK, set out to test this idea in a group of mostly young people (a mix of Christians, Muslims, and the non-religious) recruited within the University. The study was simple, but the results were very interesting. While Christians did indeed have a lower death anxiety than the non-religious, Muslims did not. In fact, their death anxiety was markedly higher than both the other groups. –“Is the Social Function of Religion Changing?” by Tom Rees, Epiphenoma
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”