WE TWO ~ Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill
"In the Queen's childhood, her mother had adjured her to grow tall like her father and his royal brothers, but Victoria had been unable to comply. Her supporters claimed she was five feet one inch; her detractors gave her a bare four ten. In the gutter press, she was known as "Little Vic," which rankled with her. Fortunately, horses, thrones, and sweeping staircases were standard issue for a queen, and Victoria made full use of them."
"In the evenings and at weekends when the queen was, as it were, off duty, Melbourne, Palmerston, Melbourne's sister, Lady Emily Cowper, Lady Cowper's daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren, together with various members of the charming and rakish Paget clan, were key members of the Queen's domestic circle. The Pagets were relative newcomers to the English aristocracy and had risen in society in large part because they were handsome, energetic, and fun, and thus invaluable in relieving the tedium of court life, especially for the sovereign."
"Palmerston was also amusing and well informed, and in the long, tedious palace evenings in the year after [Albert's] marriage, the prince enjoyed discussing European affairs with the foreign secretary. Albert was gratified when his line of argument seemed to win, failing to realize that Palmerston had lived at court for far too long to fall out with Her Majesty's husband over the port."
News today of the death of Christopher Hitchens was sad, though not unexpected.
The universe of the written word is far poorer with Hitchens' passing. Personally, I often marvelled that, armed with the same lexicon that we all have at our disposal, he did things with it that left me agog. The overall wit that he dislayed in the process, of course, was superlative. Whether you agreed with any point that he made, you had to admire his craft in making it.
Choose any of his columns here to sample, and you will concur:
REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
We have recently been consuming bite-sized bits of this book, recommended by Udo and Jason of NeoCloud Marketing, LLC.
This piecemeal study is encouraged by how the book itself is arranged -- in bite-sized bits.
Sections are generally 1-3 pages long, covering outrageous business ideas like "Ignore the real world," "Interruption is the enemy of productivity," "Emulate drug dealers," and, our personal favorite, "Hire great writers."
Check it out -- you won't be sorry!
THE LAST LECTURE by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
"Don't Complain, Just Work Harder: Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I've always believed that if you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you'd be surprised by how well things can work out."
"Don't Obsess Over What People Think: I've found that a substantial fraction of many people's days is spent worrying about what others think of then. If nobody ever worried about what was in other people's heads, we'd all be 33 percent more effective in our lives and on our jobs."
"The Lost Art of Thank-You Notes: Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. And despite my love of efficiency, I think that thank-you notes are best done the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper."
"Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom: Years ago, I dated a lovely young woman who was a few thousand dollars in debt. She was completely stressed out about this. Every month, more interest would be added to her debts. "To deal with her stress, she would go every Tuesday night to a meditation and yoga class. This was her one free night, and she said it seemed to be helping her. She would breathe in, imagining that she was finding ways to deal with her debts. She would breathe out, telling herself that her money problems would one day be behind her. "It went on like this, Tuesday after Tuesday. "Finally, one day I looked through her finances with her. I figured out that if she spent four or five months working a part-time job on Tuesday nights, she could actually pay off all the money she owed. "I told her I had nothing against yoga or meditation. But I think it's always best to try to treat the disease first. Her symptoms were stress and anxiety. Her disease was the money she owed."
VICTORIA: PORTRAIT OF A QUEEN by Lytton Strachey
"At Osborne, by the sea-shore, and among the woods...the royal family spent every hour that could be snatched from Windsor and London -- delightful ours of deep retirement and peaceful work. The public looked on with approval. A few aristocrats might sniff or titter; but with the nation at large the Queen was now once more extremely popular. The middle-classes, in particular, were pleased. They liked a love-match; they liked a household which combined the advantages of royalty and virtue, and in which they seemed to see, reflected as in some resplendent looking-glass, the ideal image of the very lives they led themselves. Their own existences, less exalted, but oh! so soothingly similar, acquired an added excellence, an added succulence, from the early hours, the regularity, the plain tuckers, the round games, the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding of Osborne."
THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY by Henry James
"…I am very sorry. It is not my fault; I can't marry you simply to please you. I won't say that I shall always remain your friend, because when women say that, in these circumstances, it is supposed, I believe, to be a sort of mockery. But try me someday."
"…there are more iron pots, I think, than porcelain ones. But you may depend upon it that everyone has something; even the hardest iron pots have a little bruise, a little hole, somewhere."
THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL by Åsne Seierstad
No particular quotation leapt out at me as I read, but the timely receipt of my Alumni Magazine, with it's cover article on Afghan students seemed remarkable. So, consider it remarked upon!
I also recently heard a story on the BBC's Outlook Programme regarding the progress (and lack thereof) in the area of rights for Afghan women.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT'S LETTERS TO HIS CHILDREN by Theodore Roosevelt
"Among other places that [Quentin] visited was Schmid's animal store, where he left his little snake. Schmid presented him with three snakes, simply to pass the day with -- a large and beautiful and very friendly king snake and two little wee snakes...as Quentin and his menagerie were an interruption to my interview with the Department of Justice, I suggested that he go into the next room, where four Congressmen were drearily waiting until I should be at leisure. I thought that he and his snakes would probably enliven their waiting time. He at once fell in with the suggestion and rushed up to the Congressmen with the assurance that he would there find kindred spirits. They at first thought the snakes were wooden ones, and there was some perceptible recoil when they realized that they were alive. Then the king snake went up Quentin's sleeve -- he was three or four feet long -- and we hesitated to drag him back because his scales rendered that difficult. The last I saw of Quentin, one Congressman was gingerly helping him off with his jacket, so as to let the snake crawl out of the upper end of the sleeve"
Vanity Fair, April, 2009
RETHINKING THE AMERICAN DREAM by David Kamp
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