Gleanings from the Past #91



The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.

— Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776

Monotony is the most beautiful or the most atrocious thing. The most beautiful if it is a reflection of eternity — the most atrocious if it is the sign of an unvarying perpetuity. It is time surpassed or time sterilized.

— Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, 1947


Mr. Peel, Secretary for the Home Department, when speaking in the House of Commons of the Lord Chancellor (Eldon), said, that to apply the words of the poet to that noble Lord “even his failings leaned to virtue’s side.” A gentleman present remarked that in that case his lordship’s failings resembled the leaning tower of Pisa, which, in spite of its long inclination, had never yet gone over!

Spirit of the English Magazines, June 8, 1828

The World

What is the world? A term that men have got,
To signify. — not one in ten knows what;
A term with which no more precision passes,
To point out herds of men, than herds of asses;
In common use, no more it means we find
Than many fools in one opinion join’d.

— Charles Churchill, “Prophesy of Famine”, quoted in William Tooke, The Poetical Works of Charles Churchill, 1863

Time and the Sea

Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.

— John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat, 1935

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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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