Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frederick Law Olmsted

It is a scientific fact that the occasional contemplation of natural scenes of an impressive character, particularly if this contemplation occurs in connection with relief from ordinary cares, change of air and change of habits, is favorable to the health and vigor of men and especially to the health and vigor of their intellect beyond any other conditions which can be offered them, that it not only gives pleasure for the time being but increases the subsequent capacity for happiness and the means of securing happiness.
--in a treatise on national parks requested by the Board of Yosemite Commissioners, 1865. President Lincoln granted the Yosemite Valley to California for "public use, resort, and restoration" on this date in 1864.

Colin Firth

60 Minutes: How hard was it to get you to do the scene that's used for the closing credits [in Mama Mia]?
Colin: Do you know what? That may be the reason I did the movie.
60: You have no shame?
Colin: [Nods]. I'm sorry. If one thing has come out of 60 Minutes, it's that we have discovered, we have unveiled the fact that Colin Firth has no shame. I am such a drag queen. It's one of my primary driving forces in life. You cannot dangle a spandex suit and a little bit of mascara in front of me and not just have me go weak at the knees.
(Italics mine. -Ed.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ayn Rand

Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thurgood Marshall

The government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. When contemporary Americans cite 'The Constitution,' they invoke a concept that is vastly different from what the Framers barely began to construct two centuries ago. ... The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 could not have envisioned these changes. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendent of an African slave. 'We the People' no longer enslave, but the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of 'liberty,' 'justice,' and 'equality,' and who strived to better them.

--His was the dissenting voice at the 1987 bicentennial celebration of the Constitution while other speakers praised the document and the founding fathers' foresight.

George Herbert

Living well is the best revenge.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Kitchn

On thickening summer fruit pies

There are many, many thickeners out there, but flour, cornstarch, and quick-cooking tapioca are probably the most popular and each for good reason. Cornstarch has a nice smooth texture and no real flavor, but it can lead to an occasional murky color with berry pies and its thickening power is compromised with high acidity fruit like cherries. Quick-cooking tapioca will never result in a cloudy filling and soaks up really juicy fruit better than anything we've tried. However, it is a little temperamental in the sense that it really needs high heat to activate completely. Make sure to give your pies a good ten minute does of heat at 400 F if you're using this thickener. Flour is an easy thickener in that you generally always have it on hand and it works beautifully. It can lead to a gummy, cloudy filling with delicate summer berries though. We reserve using flour as a thickener for heartier fruits like apples and pears.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sara Paretsky

[Paretsky] was raising children, working full-time, and volunteering when she decided to write her first novel. Her decision came after thinking about Raymond Chandler's work—and not because he inspired her. She was frustrated that most of his books, six out of seven, feature a wicked femme fatale. She said, "As I began reading general fiction, I saw it as women using their bodies to try and make good boys do bad things: it was just a constant in literature of all kinds. So I wanted a woman who could be a whole person, which meant that she could be a sexual person without being evil. That she could be an effective problem solver, as women are in reality but not very often in fiction or on the screen. And that who she was sexually had nothing to do with it, except that it made her more fully human. It just took me quite a long time to come up with a way of being able to do that. And the courage, really, to try and do it at all." So she wrote Indemnity Only (1982), a novel featuring a hard-boiled female detective, V.I. Warshawski, who is smart and good with a gun and also likes nice shoes and enjoys her sex life. V.I. Warshawski was such a popular character that Paretsky has written 13 more novels about her, including Bitter Medicine (1987), Burn Marks (1990), Blacklist (2003), and most recently, Body Work (2010).

--from The Writer's Almanac for June 8, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Abigail Adams

I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors....Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

--in a letter to John Adams, March 31, 1776

On June 4, 1919, Congress approved the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the vote.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


The only difference between a mistake and a variation is a facial expression.

Earl Warren

Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for.