Gleanings from the Past #76


A Little Irony

People who didn’t need people need people around to know that they were the kind of people who didn’t need people.

— Terry Pratchett, Maskerade, 1995

The Typewriter

The type-writer came Wednesday night, and is already beginning to have its effect on me. Of course it doesn’t work: if I can persuade some of the letters to get up against the ribbon they won’t get down again without digital assistance. The treadle refuses to have any part or parcel in the performance; and I don’t know how to get the roller to turn with the paper. Nevertheless I have begun several letters to My d ar lemans, as it prefers to spell your respected name, and I don’t despair yet of sending you something in its beautiful handwriting–after I’ve had a man out from the agent’s to put it in order. It’s fascinating in the meantime, and it wastes my time like an old friend.

— William Dean Howells’ letter to Mark Twain, dated November 5, 1875, quoted in Frederick Anderson, Selected Mark Twain-Howells Letters, 1872-1910, 1967


Dear Miss Manners,

If you had a single piece of advice to offer a couple who want to break into society, what would it be?

Gentle Reader,

Don’t bother.

— Judith Martin, Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour, 1982


Franklin: Have you ever thought, Headmaster, that your standards might perhaps be a little out of date?

Headmaster: Of course they’re out of date. Standards always are out of date. That is what makes them standards.

— Alan Bennett, Forty Years On, 1968

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

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