Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking
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Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking

-Albert Einstein

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When we came out of the cookhouse, we found the boy's father, the Indian man who had been grazing the horses in the pasture, waiting for us. He wanted someone to tell his troubles to. He looked about guardedly, afraid that the Señora might overhear him.'Take a look at me' he said. I don't even know how old I am. When I was young, the Señor brought me here. He promised to pay me and give me a plot of my own. 'Look at my clothes' he said, pointing to the patches covering his body. 'I can't remember how many years I've been wearing them. I have no others. I live in a mud hut with my wife and sons. They all work for the Señor like me. They don't go to school. They don't know how to read or write; they don't even speak Spanish. We work for the master, raise his cattle and work his fields. We only get rice and plantains to eat. Nobody takes care of us when we are sick. The women here have their babies in these filthy huts.''Why don't you eat meat or at least milk the cows?' I asked.'We aren't allowed to slaughter a cow. And the milk goes to the calves. We can't even have chicken or pork - only if an animal gets sick and dies. Once I raised a pig in my yard' he went on. 'She had a litter of three. When the Señor came back he told the foreman to shoot them. That's the only time we ever had good meat.''I don't mind working for the Señor but I want him to keep his promise. I want a piece of land of my own so I can grow rice and yucca and raise a few chickens and pigs. That's all.' 'Doesn't he pay you anything?' Kevin asked. 'He says he pays us but he uses our money to buy our food. We never get any cash. Kind sirs, maybe you can help me to persuade the master . Just one little plot is all I want. The master has land, much land.'We were shocked by his tale. Marcus took out a notebook and pen. 'What's his name?'. He wrote down the name. The man didn't know the address. He only knew that the Señor lived in La Paz.Marcus was infuriated. 'When I find the owner of the ranch, I'll spit right in his eye. What a lousy bastard! I mean, it's really incredible'. 'That's just the way things are,' Karl said. 'It's sad but there's nothing we can do about it.

-Yossi Ghinsberg

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From my college courses and my reading I knew the various names that came at the end of a line of questions or were placed as periods to bafflement: the First Cause, the First Mover, the Life Force, the Universal Mind, the First Principle, the Unmoved Mover, even Providence. I too had used those names in arguing with others, and with myself, trying to explain the world to myself. And now I saw that those names explained nothing. They were of no more use than Evolution or Natural Selection or Nature or The Big Bang of these later days. All such names do is catch us within the length and breadth of our own thoughts and our own bewilderment. Though I knew the temptation of simple reason, to know nothing that can't be proved, still I supposed that those were not the right names.I imagined that the right name might be Father, and I imagined all that that name would imply: the love, the compassion, the taking offense, the disappointment, the anger, the bearing of wounds, the weeping of tears, the forgiveness, the suffering unto death. If love could force my own thoughts over the edge of the world and out of time, then could I not see how even divine omnipotence might by the force of its own love be swayed down into the world? Could I not see how it might, because it could know its creatures only by compassion, put on mortal flesh, become a man, and walk among us, assume our nature and our fate, suffer our faults and our death?Yes. I could imagine a Father who is yet like a mother hen spreading her wings before the storm or in the dusk before the dark night for the little ones of Port William to come in under, some of whom do, and some do not. I could imagine Port William riding its humble wave through time under the sky, its little flames of wakefulness lighting and going out, its lives passing through birth, pleasure, sufferning, and death. I could imagine God looking down upon it, its lives living by His spirit, breathing by His breath, knowing by His light, but each life living also (inescapably) by its own will--His own body given to be broken.

-Wendell Berry

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I used to read in books how our fathers persecuted mankind. But I never appreciated it. I did not really appreciate the infamies that have been committed in the name of religion, until I saw the iron arguments that Christians used. I saw the Thumbscrew—two little pieces of iron, armed on the inner surfaces with protuberances, to prevent their slipping; through each end a screw uniting the two pieces. And when some man denied the efficacy of baptism, or may be said, 'I do not believe that a fish ever swallowed a man to keep him from drowning,' then they put his thumb between these pieces of iron and in the name of love and universal forgiveness, began to screw these pieces together. When this was done most men said, 'I will recant.' Probably I should have done the same. Probably I would have said: 'Stop; I will admit anything that you wish; I will admit that there is one god or a million, one hell or a billion; suit yourselves; but stop.'But there was now and then a man who would not swerve the breadth of a hair. There was now and then some sublime heart, willing to die for an intellectual conviction. Had it not been for such men, we would be savages to-night. Had it not been for a few brave, heroic souls in every age, we would have been cannibals, with pictures of wild beasts tattooed upon our flesh, dancing around some dried snake fetich.Let us thank every good and noble man who stood so grandly, so proudly, in spite of opposition, of hatred and death, for what he believed to be the truth.Heroism did not excite the respect of our fathers. The man who would not recant was not forgiven. They screwed the thumbscrews down to the last pang, and then threw their victim into some dungeon, where, in the throbbing silence and darkness, he might suffer the agonies of the fabled damned. This was done in the name of love—in the name of mercy, in the name of Christ.I saw, too, what they called the Collar of Torture. Imagine a circle of iron, and on the inside a hundred points almost as sharp as needles. This argument was fastened about the throat of the sufferer. Then he could not walk, nor sit down, nor stir without the neck being punctured, by these points. In a little while the throat would begin to swell, and suffocation would end the agonies of that man. This man, it may be, had committed the crime of saying, with tears upon his cheeks, 'I do not believe that God, the father of us all, will damn to eternal perdition any of the children of men.'I saw another instrument, called the Scavenger's Daughter. Think of a pair of shears with handles, not only where they now are, but at the points as well, and just above the pivot that unites the blades, a circle of iron. In the upper handles the hands would be placed; in the lower, the feet; and through the iron ring, at the centre, the head of the victim would be forced. In this condition, he would be thrown prone upon the earth, and the strain upon the muscles produced such agony that insanity would in pity end his pain.I saw the Rack. This was a box like the bed of a wagon, with a windlass at each end, with levers, and ratchets to prevent slipping; over each windlass went chains; some were fastened to the ankles of the sufferer; others to his wrists. And then priests, clergymen, divines, saints, began turning these windlasses, and kept turning, until the ankles, the knees, the hips, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists of the victim were all dislocated, and the sufferer was wet with the sweat of agony. And they had standing by a physician to feel his pulse. What for? To save his life? Yes. In mercy? No; simply that they might rack him once again.This was done, remember, in the name of civilization; in the name of law and order; in the name of mercy; in the name of religion; in the name of Christ.

-Robert G.

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Did I ever tell you about the manwho taught his asshole to talk?His whole abdomen would move up and down,you dig, farting out the words.It was unlike anything I ever heard. Bubbly, thick, stagnant sound. A sound you could smell. This man worked for the carnival,you dig? And to start with it waslike a novelty ventriloquist act.After a while,the ass started talking on its own.He would go inwithout anything prepared...and his ass would ad-liband toss the gags back at him every time. Then it developed sort of teethlike...little raspy incurving hooksand started eating.He thought this was cute at firstand built an act around it...but the asshole would eat its way throughhis pants and start talking on the street... shouting out it wanted equal rights.It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags.Nobody loved it. And it wanted to be kissed,same as any other mouth. Finally, it talked all the time,day and night. You could hear him for blocks,screaming at it to shut up... beating at it with his fists... and sticking candles up it, but... nothing did any good,and the asshole said to him... "It is you who will shut upin the end, not me..."because we don't need youaround here anymore. I can talk and eat and shit." After that, he began waking upin the morning with transparentjelly... like a tadpole's tailall over his mouth. He would tear it off his mouthand the pieces would stick to his hands... like burning gasoline jellyand grow there. So, finally, his mouth sealed over... and the whole head... would have amputated spontaneouslyexcept for the eyes, you dig? That's the one thingthat the asshole couldn't do was see. It needed the eyes.Nerve connections were blocked... and infiltrated and atrophied. So, the brain couldn'tgive orders anymore. It was trapped inside the skull... sealed off.For a while, you could see... the silent, helpless sufferingof the brain behind the eyes. And then finallythe brain must have died... because the eyes went out... and there was no more feeling in themthan a crab's eye at the end of a stalk.

-William S.

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Stephen had been put to sleep in his usual room, far from children and noise, away in that corner of the house which looked down to the orchard and the bowling-green, and in spite of his long absence it was so familiar to him that when he woke at about three he made his way to the window almost as quickly as if dawn had already broken, opened it and walked out onto the balcony. The moon had set: there was barely a star to be seen. The still air was delightfully fresh with falling dew, and a late nightingale, in an indifferent voice, was uttering a routine jug-jug far down in Jack's plantations; closer at hand and more agreeable by far, nightjars churred in the orchard, two of them, or perhaps three, the sound rising and falling, intertwining so that the source could not be made out for sure. There were few birds that he preferred to nightjars, but it was not they that had brought him out of bed: he stood leaning on the balcony rail and presently Jack Aubrey, in a summer-house by the bowling-green, began again, playing very gently in the darkness, improvising wholly for himself, dreaming away on his violin with a mastery that Stephen had never heard equalled, though they had played together for years and years.Like many other sailors Jack Aubrey had long dreamed of lying in his warm bed all night long; yet although he could now do so with a clear conscience he often rose at unChristian hours, particularly if he were moved by strong emotion, and crept from his bedroom in a watch-coat, to walk about the house or into the stables or to pace the bowling-green. Sometimes he took his fiddle with him. He was in fact a better player than Stephen, and now that he was using his precious Guarnieri rather than a robust sea-going fiddle the difference was still more evident: but the Guarnieri did not account for the whole of it, nor anything like. Jack certainly concealed his excellence when they were playing together, keeping to Stephen's mediocre level: this had become perfectly clear when Stephen's hands were at last recovered from the thumb-screws and other implements applied by French counter-intelligence officers in Minorca; but on reflexion Stephen thought it had been the case much earlier, since quite apart from his delicacy at that period, Jack hated showing away.Now, in the warm night, there was no one to be comforted, kept in countenance, no one could scorn him for virtuosity, and he could let himself go entirely; and as the grave and subtle music wound on and on, Stephen once more contemplated on the apparent contradiction between the big, cheerful, florid sea-officer whom most people liked on sight but who would have never been described as subtle or capable of subtlety by any one of them (except perhaps his surviving opponents in battle) and the intricate, reflective music he was now creating. So utterly unlike his limited vocabulary in words, at times verging upon the inarticulate.'My hands have now regained the moderate ability they possessed before I was captured,' observed Maturin, 'but his have gone on to a point I never thought he could reach: his hands and his mind. I am amazed. In his own way he is the secret man of the world.

-Albert Einstein

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Reading Chip's college orientation materials, Alfred had been struck by the sentence New England winters can be very cold. The curtains he'd bought at Sears were of a plasticized brown-and-pink fabric with a backing of foam rubber. They were heavy and bulky and stiff. "You'll appreciate these on a cold night," he told Chip. "You'll be surprised how much they cut down drafts." But Chip's freshman roommate was a prep-school product named Roan McCorkle who would soon be leaving thumbprints, in what appeared to be Vaseline, on the fifth-grade photo of Denise. Roan laughed at the curtains and Chip laughed, too. He put them back in the box and stowed the box in the basement of the dorm and let it gather mold there for the next four years. He had nothing against the curtains personally. They were simply curtains and they wanted no more than what any curtains wanted - to hang well, to exclude light to the best of their ability, to be neither too small nor too large for the window that it was their task in life to cover; to be pulled this way in the evening and that way in the morning; to stir in the breezes that came before rain on a summer night; to be much used and little noticed. There were numberless hospitals and retirement homes and budget motels, not just in the Midwest but in the East as well, where these particularly brown rubber-backed curtains could have had a long and useful life. It wasn't their fault that they didn't belong in a dorm room. They'd betrayed no urge to rise above their station; their material and patterning contained not a hint of unseemly social ambition. They were what they were. If anything, when he finally dug them out of the eve of graduation, their virginal pinkish folds turned out to be rather less plasticized and homely and Sears-like than he remembered. They were nowhere near as shameful as he'd thought.

-Jonathan Franzen

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Inside a wool jacket the man had made a pocket for the treasure and from time to time he would jiggle the pocket, just to make sure that it was still there. And when on the train he rode to work he would jiggle it there also, but he would disguise his jiggling of the treasure on the train by devising a distraction. For example, the man would pretend to be profoundly interested in something outside the train, such as the little girl who seemed to be jumping high up on a trampoline, just high enough so that she could spy the man on the train, and in this way he really did become quite interested in what occurred outside the train, although he would still jiggle the treasure, if only out of habit. Also on the train he'd do a crossword puzzle and check his watch by rolling up his sleeve; when he did so he almost fell asleep. Antoine often felt his life to be more tedious with this treasure, because in order not to be overly noticed he had deemed it wise to fall into as much a routine as possible and do everything as casually as possible, and so, as a consequence, despite the fact that he hated his wife and daughter, he didn't leave them, he came home to them every night and he ate the creamed chicken that his wife would prepare for him, he would accept the large, fleshy hand that would push him around while he sat around in his house in an attempt to read or watch the weather, he took out the trash, he got up on time every morning and took a quick, cold shower, he shaved, he accepted the cold eggs and orange juice and coffee, he picked the newspaper off the patio and took it inside with him to read her the top headlines, and of course he went to the job.

-Justin Dobbs

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I'd like you to see that we are interfering too drastically. WE can't just assume so completely that Azerbaijan is in the hands of dangerous men and vicious Bolsheviks. I suppose it's all in the way you see Iran. I'd like you to see that Iranians are just as serious about their politics as we are: perhaps more so. The Iranian is a vigorous individual with definite ideas about the right and wrong done to him. It's easy for these journalists to laugh at the idea of political spontaneity among the Iranians because they look on these people as dirty, stupid, childlike natives who stare open-mouthed while the wonders of the west are offered to them.…...They are not like that at all. They want proper government, the same as anybody else. They have certainly tried hard enough to get it, but they haven't had a chance. We have done a great deal to prevent them getting real government. It may shock you, but we have always wanted corrupt administrations. Since the Reuter concessions sixty years ago we have begaved like American gangsters using threats, money, and even war to extort privileges and concessions which amounted to owning the country. At one time we had complete control over the administration, over the entire wealth of the land, the banks, and the army. It's rather silly to say the Iranians are un-political when you realize how quickly we had to hand back those concessions. This country rose to a man against us. We gave in hastily, but we managed to cling desperately to our oil concessions. [MacGregor]I think you are worrying yourself unduly [Essex]. We can't be too bad an influence. We may not be reformers ourselves... but we do not fight people who are really trying to improve the country. You must admit that we did not resist the last Shah, and he certainly reformed the place as best as it could be reformed.[MacGregor] It has become a habit to pass all compliments to Reza Shah,...even though we dethroned him. All reforms and modernizations are supposed to be his idea. Yet he simply took over the power of a popular revolution which we resisted at the time. He took power as a despot and he was little better than his predecessors. These people are getting fed up with despots. They obviously want to achieve some kind of better government, particularly in Azerbaijan.… That revolt in Azerbaijan doesn't have to be a Russian idea. It is really the continuation of five or six revolutions, all of them trying to get rid of corrupt governments. This time they seen to be succeeding. Our idea is to stop it.... Every level of government in Iran is corrupt from top to bottom, including the court, the police, and the parliament. Government is organized corruption. The ministers prey on the population like buzzards; they arragne taxes, laws, finances, famines; everything to the purpose of making money. The last Shah might have wiped out some of it; but that meant he became the biggest grafter of them all. He controlled the little fellows, and took the best of everything for himself. By the end of his rule he owned about a fifth of this entire country. He is not the hero we think he is, and his police regime was as brutal as anything the Germans had. Though we co-operated with him, he was a little tougher than the others and he always held out for more. Once, he threatened to wipe out our oil concession but we brought him off. He could always be bought off, like all the other grafters.

-James Aldridge

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Beyond egoistic interests there cannot be any religious belief, any faith, too. In most cases, if not all, people believe in God for the reason of fear, but not love. They fear to be punished by God for what they have done or thought. It underlies in their unconsciousness even if they thank God for everything. Most people, if not all, are selfish. They forgive nothing for nobody, if they cannot punish the antipathetic men themselves, they wish God to do it instead of them. Faith is a wishful thing, it is clearly written in the Christian scriptures that faith is being sure of what we hope fore and certain of what we don't see. That's all. People believe in what is written in a Holy Book, not because they intend to be familiar with what God has said, often they believe in holy writing without carefully reading them, but because they want find the answers to the questions related directly to egoistic issues, in most cases about what would happen afterdeath. People are so lazy that they even don't want to use their brain and think over such issues, they prefer to find ready-form and closed-end answers in somewhere. Being lazy and egoist, people also wish to be rewarded afterdeath; hardly anyone who doubts to be rewarded afterdeath will believe in detail what he reads in a Holy Book; he would interpret them in convinient way, or change his belief, or become an atheist rather than believe and expect to be punished afterdeath.

-Elmar Hussein

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A lady sent me an email recently advising me to change my environment. I guess she read through the lines of my writing and I had adequately painted a portrait of my experiences for her to form a conclusion that melancholia and fatalistic views of my protagonist reveals the depth or layers of my own consciousness. I haven't experienced much of life at twenty five but I've noticed enough, more than most people do at my age. I won't lie that sometimes it leaves me menacingly depressed. I only represent myself. I am in no competition with anyone. I often muse that if people were half concerned about wars and crimes, corruption in high places and poverty with the heavy regard they place upon other's lives then we would have a better world. Just imagine if the average man on the road heckled politicians the way they are often inclined to insult a fat woman. I have a Ton load of bad experiences but I have not allowed them to deter me, people will think about them at some high point in my life and try to use it to besmirch whatever glory I may attain. I understand that too, they can use it for whatever barometer on their lives they see fit but as for me, I used my crash falls as stairwells to greatness. Sometimes I feel alone because I am youthful and curious about life and people judge me for it and oftentimes it leaves me feeling lonely and asocial. You see the deep thinker has to be careful, the shallow minded will take one look and paint him as madness.

-Crystal Evans

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