Bons mots (with special guests Einstein and Voltaire)

My wife asked me to pick up a copy of Advanced Banter while I was in Ireland, since we thought it wasn’t sold here in the States (it actually is, as If Ignorance Is Bliss, Why Aren’t There More Happy People?). I’ve never placed much stock in quotations, but it’s been fun finding pithy phrases from famous people to support my own opinions.

Albert Einstein HeadAs the three of you reading this will have noticed, I’ve done a bit of time travel in the last week, or rather, I’ve sent my favorite words and phrases back in time so that they appear on this blog in a more distributed manner than actually occurred in normal space-time. I will likely continue doing this in the future, so you’ll never know when Einstein might pop up and say something clever, such as, “People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

And thus, having used the theory of relativity to rationalize retroactive blog posts, I leave you with a particularly witty saying from Voltaire:

“A witty saying proves nothing.”

Carl Sagan on Earth’s place in the universe

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest.

Voyager pale blue dot photo

“But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” – from Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Charles Darwin on grandeur

“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” – final paragraph of The Origin Of Species

Swans in St. Stephen's Green

These swans in St. Stephen’s Green are of course just one form “most beautiful and most wonderful” descended from dinosaurs.