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Recent Posts
Wee, the Media
The itsy bitsy teenie weenie song
Hairfall
Vote. For my sake.
A vote in time..
My Kumble moment
On 'my' Hinduism
The new economy
Vote for..
Indian Idle

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Thursday, July 17, 2014
Wee, the Media 

1.
He wanted to make a big stink
About a politico-big biz link
His editor liked it
But the owner spiked it
And that's why journalists drink

2.
At 9 pee em, with elation
We wait for today's sensation
We watch as he shouts
Waggles his fingers about
Heck, you wanted to know, O nation!

3.
A young one with visions of glory
Filed an investigative story
"Let truth prevail!
Evil must quail!"
The editor laughed till he had a coronary

4.
Oh you journalist chaps
With your idealistic crap.
The real world-changers
Aren't facing danger;
They're working with Team Apple Maps

5.
The first draft of history, they said
As they put the paper to bed
Then polished their CVs
& sent feelers to TV
If only the world still read

6.
The web is killing us, they say
Good content, but no one will pay
They mutter & splutter
Foul oaths they utter
Then they go surf Pirate Bay

7.
On Twitter, they mourn the loss
Of journalism's ethos
"You no longer aspire
To truths that are higher"
Then they go back to watching BigBoss

8.
His friends were worried: "I say,
Don't say that in public! No way"
His lips he pursed
As he wrote another verse
Nobody reads poetry anyway

9.
In newsrooms home & away
One topic du jour holds sway
Not Ukraine or Gaza
It's something more taaza:
Which editor quit today?

10.
NRI columnists are upset
They praised Modi skyhigh & yet
They're waiting & waiting
Pupils dilating
Waaah! No call to join his cabinet

11.
When Big Media barons meet
Do they exchange fact sheets
Of mockers & blighters
& joke-making writers?
I hope they're not reading this Tweet

12.
The Emergency: you may recall
Told to bend, they crawl.
Now we'll do better, yes?
Politician can't fetter us!
'Cause big biz has us by the..


[The numbers link to the original Tweets that this post collects.]

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Sunday, July 13, 2014
The itsy bitsy teenie weenie song 

She was afraid to come out of the locker
She was as nervous as she could be
She was afraid she’d land up in the lock-up
She was afraid of the Goa Pee Dubyu Dee

“One, two, three, four! Showing body? Thoba! Haw!”

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, symbol of her own agency
It was her body, so she thought it was okay
An itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, ordinary flash of whimsy
But Mantriji said it would make men prey

“Two, three, four! Two-piece? Shee! Must be a whore!”

She was afraid to come out in the open
Sex crimes were because of her, see?
“Poor men can’t help gawkin’ and gropin’
And next thing they’ll do Ar Ay Pee Ee”

“Two, three, four! They raped because of what she wore!”

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, symbol of her own agency
A garment she wore ’cause she felt fine that way
An itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, ordinary flash of whimsy
But now Goa’s gorment was saying “No way!”

“Two, three, four! Western nangapan on our shore!”

Now she’s afraid, this new India’s daughter
“She asked for it I say, what to do?”
What if Muthalik was prowling and caught her?
The Ram Sene would beat her black and blue

“Two, three, four, patriarchy is the law!”

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, symbol of her own agency
That she thought she had a right to display
An itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, ordinary flash of whimsy
“Shut up woman! It’s our world! Obey!”

(First the lock-up then a blanket ban)
(No more women on our sea shore)
(We learnt it from the Taliban)

Yes, there isn’t any more

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Hairfall 

This is the end
Hold your scalp and count to ten
Feel your comb move, and then
Hear my hair fall again

For this is the end
I've combed and brushed this moment
Comb-over time, can't grow more
Taken away, it's stolen

Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
As hair falls
As hair falls

Hairfall is where we part
Our hair but then it parts
From us and clogs the drain-hole
Got a trichologist's number?
Can you give me a name?
Yes I'll give the devil my soul

Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
As hair falls

Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald

There it goes, it goes
On its way out to sea
I know I'll never be thin
But the lack of keratin's
Lovely strands atop my crown
Makes me feel really down
Gimme a hat my friend
And we'll stand....

Let the hair fall, when it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall, when it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
As hair falls

Let the hair fall
We will stand bald
As hair falls

(Sorry Adele)

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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Vote. For my sake. 

I was going to title this post 'Vote. For Me." But then, I frequently 'stand for office' in some way on Twitter every now and then, and I didn't want anyone to think this was another of those larks.

I posted this on Facebook last week:
After a bit of running around the last week, I finally found neither Dad or I are on the rolls, and we can't re-apply until the 27th, election commission cards notwithstanding. Therefore can't vote. I have not been so angry-sad-disappointed in years. 
Yeah. I'm not on the rolls. I can't vote. So, if you weren't going to vote, do me a favour? Go anyway? For me? I don't care who you vote for, just vote.

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A vote in time.. 

The participatory Web, Web 2.0, as it was called for a while, what we now call the Social Web, doesn't have the power to change the course of an election in India yet. Heck, I've said so myself, in a recent set of articles.

But consider this.

Way back in January 2007, I wrote this in a piece in the Indian Express:
On the other side of the planet, during the run up to the recent elections to the US Senate, an incumbent Republican senator, considered pretty much a sure thing for re-election, made a racist remark about a young Indian-American Democrat who was taping his rally. Footage of that remark rapidly found its way on to YouTube (a video-sharing site), where it was adopted and promoted by some prominent American desi blogs. The wider blogosphere joined in too, as did US media. Digging into the senator’s past revealed more signs of a racist streak. Slowly, the Republican’s lead in the polls began eroding. And come counting day, guess which sure-shot Republican seat backfired and swung a very slim majority the Democrats' way?
I guess, what I'm trying to say is this. What if this election yields a hung parliament? What if, in the cobbling together of alliances, it's just a seat or two that makes the difference between your party coming to power or not? What if your constituency could have swung the other way if a few more people had voted?

So, go vote, please?

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Monday, April 21, 2014
My Kumble moment 

An unusual thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. A story I worked on made the cover of Forbes India.


My portfolio was and is the non-business features at the back of the book, and ForbesLife India—which I no longer work on—but it was still gratifying. I don't cover politics, or business in general, and while I'm interested in technology, it's not my beat either. And I'm by no means a good reporter. I fancy myself more a backroom guy, thinking up the stories and angles, matching them to the right writers, working on the stories once they come in, to make them sing, that kind of thing. So this found me way out of my comfort zone. And it was a wonderful challenge.


The metaphor I thrust on a few people was Anil Kumble's test century. It wasn't expected of him. He was a useful bat now and then, but would never have got picked for his batting alone. Nevertheless, his joy as that ugly shot cantered off to the boundary was pretty darn good to see.





I won't stretch that analogy further—I hope it's not near the end of my career in journalism!—but I would like your opinion, either here, or at the links (it's a package of several stories, two of them co-written with colleagues). Please do not worry about being harsh. As I said, I don't think of myself as even a decent reporter or business writer, so you won't be demolishing my dreams if you diss these.


e-Lections 2014: How Political Parties Turned Tech-Savvy

Case Study: The Dynamics of Mumbai South

Elections: Spawning Business Opportunities

Vote for... Start-ups!

Social Media: Limited, but 'Liked' in Indian Elections

And this interview with Nandan Nilekani, which is where the story started, which was online-only.


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Sunday, April 20, 2014
On 'my' Hinduism 

I have great faith in Hinduism. As much faith as a devout agnostic can have.

How could I not?

My family has moved several cities and a lot more houses over the years, and everywhere we lived, my parents' ethnicity and faith were always a very small minority. In Bombay, in my school, I was one of small handful of Anglo Indians, one of a small handful of Protestants, and the only one who was both. Everywhere we lived, as is only natural in a country where the majority profess some form of Hinduism, we were surrounded by Hindus.

But the Hinduism I grew up surrounded by, that I am still surrounded by, was warm, inclusive, embracing. It is a Hinduism that sends sweets over at Diwali, and asks us over to celebrate. It is a Hinduism that shared its firecrackers with me because I didn't have any, that yelled at my door for me to come join in the Holi fun (and didn't mind when I declined, because I didn't like the coloured powders, and that made me one of the team captains when I joined in the water pistols-and-pichkaris war games we played in the evenings). That invited us over to celebrate marriages and birthdays and holds us close when we offer hugs at bereavements. That calls or comes over for Christmas, that joins in our parties, that learnt 'western' dance steps at those parties. That checks with us what is appropriate to wear to our marriages and christenings and graciously welcomes us in to their special events even when we, clueless, wear colours that we later discover aren't quite proper. A Hinduism that, even when it practises vegetarianism, still comes over to eat at our home and serves themselves veggies from the platter next to the meat. That didn't and doesn't give a damn what we cooked in our kitchens, really, except to exchange recipes. That made 'national integration' jokes about me when, in succession, I dated a Muslim, a Parsi, a Hindu, and much later, a Christian (who wasn't Protestant, but then I wasn't either by then).

(I'll add here, though this is not the point I'm making—or maybe it is—that this inclusiveness was and is as just as prevalent with Muslim, Parsi, Jain and Buddhist pals.)

It was and is a religion secure in its beliefs, happy to acknowledge and respect that others' paths differ in few or many ways.

It was and is a very different Hinduism from the variety espoused by Mr Modi and his cohorts. This binary view of the world. This suspicion, this distrust, this scorn for difference.

It's not 'my' Hinduism.

It's not a Hinduism I have faith in at all.

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The new economy 
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Vote for.. 
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Sunday, April 06, 2014
Indian Idle 
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Burp 
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Evil 
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Vice 
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Sunday, November 10, 2013
Cutie Pie is getting married 

Via my colleague Ramnath, this glorious press release.


Wedding PRESS Release

India based Entrepreneur [name removed] & Malaysia based HR Expert [name removed] to enter in wedlock next year
Monogram Themed Royal Tamil Hindu Wedding Ceremony of 2014

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 8th Nov2013:
Wedding bell will ring soon!!! A wedding is the union of not only the bride and groom but also their families and friends. [name removed], India based Entrepreneur and [name removed], Malaysia based HR Expert will tie the knot on March 2014. Wooph… It would be Monogram Themed Royal Tamil Hindu Wedding Ceremony of 2014. Depending on who you ask, you may get two different stories about how they met first. God was at work behind the scenes to bring us together, quips Vijay.
Almost one year ago, fortune and a few mouse clicks brought [name removed] and [name removed] together. They went from complete strangers to inseparable companions in love. This is how it all began. 
[name removed] is thoughtful, funny, God- loving, approachable, easy going and humble. He's truly a gem of person. He believes in a strong balance between personal and professional life. Determined for long-term goals. Foodie, and never misses an opportunity to dig into quality food. He loves to explore the world. He is a versatile human being with result oriented approach. Passionate and avid tamilian by heart and Soul. He value personal qualities much more than material things. He loves to have a good & meaningful conversation about almost anything, serious or fun. Born and raised in India. Believes in living life king size.

The dashing  [name removed], stated, “I will get married early next year. It will be a close knit Tamil traditional wedding.  We are enthusiastically counting down the days until we are able to officially join our lives. We are getting so thrilled for our wedding and overjoyed about sharing such a happy occasion with all of you. Can't wait to see you on our big day.
[name removed] ambitious with multiple "E"s - Exuberant, Excellent, Euphoric, Endearing, Enduring, Enthusiastic, Energetic, Easy-onthe- Eye... ooohhh. ! Affectionately called " Cutie Pie' by her beloved. She embodies traditional values yet embracing all that is new, contemporary and essential. Born and raised in Malaysia, Her cheering personality won beloved [name removed]'s heart. Charming, cute, kind - hearted, ingenious, honest and committed to formulate the best out of life. She has an amazing sense of humor. Keen fascination towards cooking and currently experimenting with various recipes at home.
  
The beautiful [name removed] says “We are aiming to make our wedding as fun and enjoyable as possible for you. Our wedding is more than a marriage between the two of us and also commencement of a friendship between our families and friends".
 She also added that “Tamil wedding ceremony is lavish and vibrant. The rich and bright coloured kanjeevaram silk sarees add to the ambience, making it very animated”.
                                               
Tamilians have their own rituals followed before, during and after the wedding, which look very vibrant. All the customs are followed with religious observance. All the people, right from the prospective bride and the groom to the family members, friends and relatives have the festive mood, which is set by the ceremony. The ambience is filled with nothing but happiness and celebration. The festive spirits are boosted up among the people, witnessing the ceremony, by the colorful and elaborate rituals that are conducted before, during and after the marriage. Tamil wedding includes many traditions that differ from community to community.
 The wedding will be in India but the couple will have a reception for friends and family in Malaysia and India. 

Congratulations to [name removed] and [name removed], they're really made for each other! We would like to wish the happy couple the best with their upcoming nuptials.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Godawful Poetry Fortnight - High Five - Day 2 

Write a poem about the pain of having a perfect life when the dream is to be a tormented poet. (Ttheme donated by Anjana.)

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Monday, August 19, 2013
Godawful Poetry Fortnight - High Five - Day 1 

So here's your cue for Day 1

Write a poem that uses 'moon,' 'June' and 'spoon; as end-words. Preferably in an aabb rhyme scheme. Bonus points for no meter and uneven line lengths

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Saturday, August 03, 2013
Great-Great-Great-Grandson of Godawful Poetry Fortnight: High Five! 

Godawful Poetry Fortnight was founded in 2008. So high fives all around for the fifth anniversary. (1, 2, 3, 4, all)

Quick recap:

Godawful Poetry Fortnight starts on the 19th August and runs up to the 31st August. This blog is its literal and spiritual home. All previous posts on the subject here are tagged thus.

Our Patron Saint is William Wordsworth.
And he gets this signal honour for saying that poetry "is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." Way too many aspiring poets have rallied behind that banner, too few going so far as recollecting those emotions in tranquillity, let alone reading the rest of the preface to Lyrical Ballads (which can be found on Bartleby, for those interested).
Godawful Poetry Fortnight isn't a competition. But we do invite all poets—beginners, much published, academics—to have a bit of fun and deliberately write bad poetry. As opposed to, you know, writing it accidentally.

The True Believers Challenge: post thirteen Godawful Poems, one on each day of the Fortnight.)

For those who need them, I'll post prompts here, one for every day.

Optional:

Use a Godawful Poetry Fortnight tag or label on your post

Use a #GodawfulPoetryFortnight hashtag on Twitter and/or Facebook and/or Google+

You can link to this post or this blog if you want to, and/or you can alert me on Twitter) and/or Facebook and/or Google+.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013
Swab your cheek - help save Nalini 


Several friends are organising a swab drive on Saturday, from 11am to 2pm, at the Pinstorm office in Santa Cruz, Bombay. The address: Swati Building, North Avenue, Santa Cruz (W) Bombay 400 054 Phone: +91 22 6739 3888. 

North Avenue is the road that runs between SV (Swami Vivekananda) Road and  Linking Road. The restaurants Dynasty and Yoko's are almost bang opposite the SV Road end, and there's a Kotak Bank branch at the Linking road corner, with Tressorie just ahead. Swati is very close to the Linking road end, on your right as you go towards SV Road.

This message from Dilip D'Souza will explain the background, and what you can expect.
My good friend Nalini Ambady, prof at Stanford U, needs your help. See the web site  www.helpnalininow.org and Facebook page of same name www.facebook.com/HelpNaliniNow -- it will tell you about her, her situation and what 's been done so far. Short version: she needs a bone marrow transfer (BMT) and she has failed in efforts to find a donor in the US. So we're now trying here in India. Both to find a match and to get people to sign up with Indian bone marrow databases so that the chance of a match increases.
There is an age restriction: they want donors to be between 18 and 50.
There are two databases of donors I know about in India: DATRI (www.datriworld.org) and MDRI (www.mdrindia.org). Somewhere on the DATRI site you can sign up to have a kit sent to you, you use the enclosed swabs to do a cheek swab and send the result back to them with a Rs 2500 fee. I happen to have three of those kits with me, so if you want to do that let me know (and the costs will be taken care of).
Alternatively, you can sign up for free with the MDRI database (unless you want to donate only to a specified person, like Nalini, in which case they charge you Rs 10,000). You can do so by walking into one of several hospitals in Bom, e.g. Raheja at Mahim, Holy Family in Bandra, Nanavati in Vile Parle, etc (see this page http://mdrindia.org/Website/Contact%20Us.htm). Apparently the procedure of forms and taking a blood sample will take 15 minutes or so. MDRI is run by the Tata Memorial Hospital, so your data will be sent to them by whichever hospital you sign up at.
I believe Kokilaben in Andheri also signs you up this way, it's just that I'm not sure which database you are entered in. Worth calling to ask, especially if you're nearby and that is convenient for you.
I hope you'll consider signing up. Time is of the essence for Nalini. The BMT is really the only option she has left and we have to find her a matching donor in the next 2-3 months, possibly a little more.
If you sign up, thanks! Please give a thought to whether you know others in the 18-50 age range who can sign up too.
Thanks!
yours,
dilip.


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Saturday, April 13, 2013
Environment-friendly spam 

My pal and colleague Charles Assisi got this email a little while ago:
From: Yogi Tripathi
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2013 23:41:13 +0530
Subject: INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS NEEDED FOR R&D PROJECTS IN SOLAR ENERGY - PROPOSAL ATTACHED
To:

Hello

I manage a unit by the name of [removed], from Lucknow, India which is into trading, manufacturing and consultancy activities offering renewable energy solutions since 2008...

I have been trying to raise funds for the R&D projects in solar energy ( proposal attached) since a long time however, could not manage it...another file with our product list, video links and newspaper article have also been attached...The response so far has been negative with comments like - "no one will give you a penny", "nothing works in India", "go to America ", "last 60 years nothing much happened here except population explosion".."we are a very poor third world country", "we are service class not business class"...blah..blah...only a handful have actually offered real money...why this kind of an attitude ?....it does not help anyone....earlier systems in India were designed for slavery by the British by keeping people poor, weak and afraid so that they keep looking at the government...so, how will things move this way?...business is development....it is the best way to attack India's biggest problem of poverty...

So the team building effort continues....can you help - by a small personal contribution ?....can you help by becoming a customer ?...you can buy solar cookers, solar water heaters or get your home & offices on solar power.....can you help by circulating this email ahead?..connecting us to high net worth individuals / angel investors probably outside India....connecting us to media who could highlight the case....venture capital and banks fund only well established companies and will rarely fund R&D work...

Please reply, even if negative with explanation, else will assume that the email did not reach and follow up with phone calls and letters...

Regards
[Removed]
www [Removed]
Note, please, the air of persecution and entitlement, and the threat at the end.

Then, on 10th April, this:
On Wednesday, April 10, 2013, [Removed]wrote:
Since we have not received any reply from your end this email seeks toserve as a kind reminder....
Charles replied:
This is the kind of shit that constitutes spam. Reporting your email id as spam. And don't you dare assume you can keep trying to email or call me if I don't respond. Whether I choose to or not is my perogative. You can't assume anything on my behalf.
And get this:
From: "Yogi Tripathi"
Date: Sat, Apr 13, 2013 at 1:58 PM
Subject: Re: Second email - reply awaited : Individual contributions needed for R&D projects in solar energy - proposal attached
To: "Charles Assisi"

why will I waste any more time on u....when u r yourself poor, mediocre, selfish, not healthy or happy with life and frustrated...even if u wanted to, u wont have been able to....marked ur mail as spam too....we will not be talking again....

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Monday, December 31, 2012
You and I 

This is by my friend Vikram Sheel Kumar, a doctor, entrepreneur and writer (he contributes to Forbes India and is a consulting editor for ForbesLife India, in response to Imagine, a piece I wrote a few days ago.

..to continue:

Remember when ministers tendered their resignation at a slight challenge to their honour?

There was accountability. And honour. And respect.

Yes, we are all accountable for a society where beastly acts such as gang rape occur. But neither you nor I can make sure our buses are safe.

Neither you nor I can scare the sins out of people through a trusted and tough police force.

Neither you nor I can direct precious national funds to prevent the next rape instead of sending a critical patient offshore through sophomoric medical (and political) judgement.

Neither you nor I can speak a few words, on television, to the full nation to reinforce through humanity and humility that we remain the great civilization to which the world has turned for its spiritual depth and awakening, and we have just, perhaps, over the past couple decades, lost ourselves in the race for easy money, quick thrills, and our own personal Idol worship.

Neither you nor I can set policies that move the economy forward, so at 9pm men are thinking of what to wear at work the next day, not how the get the next high.

You and I can demand public accountability and safety, and pray our leaders find in their depth the honour, respect, trust, judgement and wisdom that justify their position of power in our nation. And if our prayers are not answered, we can take back the power by finding in our depth the honour, respect, trust, judgement and wisdom to exercise our own democratic prerogative.


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Note: [*] = The site linked to requires registration.

Zig's on Twitter

Follow, all ye who must know more.

Words

We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
~ Eyler Coates

to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting
~ e e cummings

In three words i can sum up everything I've learned about life.
It goes on.
~ Robert Frost

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything;
That's how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
~ Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.
~ Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, short-story writer, and playwright, "Poetic Manifesto" in the Texas Quarterly, Winter 1961

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
~Thomas Mann, novelist, Nobel laureate (1875-1955)

The world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.
~ W. Somerset Maugham, writer (1874-1965)

In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
~ Al Rogers

Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
~ Henry Winkler, actor (1945- )

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.
~ George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist (1819-1880)

Either you think - or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.
~ Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, author (1689-1762)

Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
~ Satchel Paige

Fake it till you make it.
~ (Heard on West Wing)


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