Scale Back Quotes

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When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I'd been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn't get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn't even speak, so I held up nine fingers. Later, after they'd given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, "You know how I know you're a fighter? You called a ten a nine." But that wasn't quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating faceup on the water, undrowned.
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.” She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried. And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.” But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it. I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away. You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. “Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.” Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining. Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.
Sarah Kay
But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.
Tina Fey (Bossypants)
A man fishes for two reasons: he’s either sport fishing or fishing to eat, which means he’s either going to try to catch the biggest fish he can, take a picture of it, admire it with his buddies and toss it back to sea, or he’s going to take that fish on home, scale it, fillet it, toss it in some cornmeal, fry it up, and put it on his plate. This, I think, is a great analogy for how men seek out women.
Steve Harvey (Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment)
How will we get back up?" I worried. "I have a different route in mind for our return trip." "Does it involve stairs?" I asked hopefully. "No." "Of course not. How silly of me. And for our return adventure we will be scaling the side of Mount Everest, hiking boots to be provided by our trusty sponsor, Barrons Books and Baubles.
Karen Marie Moning (Darkfever (Fever, #1))
On a scale from one to ten, how much of a pain was I after my injury? And please be honest. Do you think I would hold back on you? Unfortunately, no. On a scale from one to ten? Thirteen. Fair enough. Now I have a question for you. On a scale from one to ten, how annoyed were you that I was going to the dance with someone else? Infinity.
Elizabeth Eulberg (Better Off Friends)
Curled up at the base of the scales, fast asleep, was the oddest monster I'd seen yet. It had the head of crocodile with a lion's mane. The front half of its body was a lion, but the back end was sleek, brown, and fat - a hippo, I decided. The odd bit was, the animal was tiny - I mean, no larger than an average poodle, which I suppose made him a hippodoodle.
Rick Riordan (The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, #1))
IceWing!” he yelped, flailing over backward. Tsunami leaped to her feet, teeth bared. “Look out! It’s — oh.” Starflight took a deep breath as Glory’s scales shifted back to brown and gray. “Glory! Why would you do that to me?” “Because it’s hilarious,” she
Tui T. Sutherland (The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire, #3))
I had always felt that mittens were a few steps back on the evolutionary scale-- why, I wondered, would we want to make ourselves into a less agile version of lobster.
David Levithan (Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily, #1))
The best thing the universe ever gave us is that we'll all be forgotten. [...] I kinda like the idea. That when we die, despite any pain or fear or embarrassment we experienced during our lives, despite any heartbreak or grief, we get to be dispersed back into nothingness. It makes me feel brave, knowing I'll get a blank slate at the end. You get a brief glimmer of consciousness to do with what you will and then it's given back to the universe again. I'm not religious, but even I can appreciate that that's redemption, on the grandest scale. Oblivion isn't scary; it's the closest thing to genuine absolution of sin that I can imagine.
Krystal Sutherland (Our Chemical Hearts)
Some history-making is intentional; much of it is accidental. People make history when they scale a mountain, ignite a bomb, or refuse to move to the back of the bus. But they also make history by keeping diaries, writing letters, or embroidering initials on linen sheets. History is a conversation and sometimes a shouting match between present and past, though often the voices we most want to hear are barely audible. People make history by passing on gossip, saving old records, and by naming rivers, mountains, and children. Some people leave only their bones, though bones too make a history when someone notices.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History)
I strongly believe if God had intended man - or woman - to jog, he'd have scaled way back on breast size and sent some of that padding to the soles of our feet. Just sayin'.
Patty Blount (Some Boys)
The voice fell low, sank into her breast and stretched the tight bodice over her heart as she came up close. He felt the young lips, her body sighing in relief against the arm growing stronger to hold her. There were now no more plans than if Dick had arbitrarily made some indissoluble mixture, with atoms joined and inseparable; you could throw it all out but never again could they fit back into atomic scale. As he held her and tasted her, and as she curved in further and further toward him, with her own lips, new to herself, drowned and engulfed in love, yet solaced and triumphant, he was thankful to have an existence at all, if only as a reflection in her wet eyes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender is the Night)
If you give, you must demand, on a gradient scale, to be paid back.
Meir Ezra
Back in my day, we had it all set up. You lined up when you died, and you'd answer for your evil deeds and your good deeds, and if your evil deeds outweighed a feather, we'd feed your soul and your heart to Ammet, the Eater of Souls" "He must have eaten a lot of people." "Not as many as you'd think. It was a really heavy feather. We had it made special. You had better be pretty damn evil to tip the scales on that baby...
Neil Gaiman (American Gods (American Gods, #1))
The tinkle of wind chimes announcing the return of our fairy guests made us both look up. Our chance to be alone was going to be shorter than either of us had hoped. I sighed and brushed an errant dragon scale from Eadric’s tunic. “Someday when we have lots of time, remind me to tell you what you mean to me.” Eadric tilted my head back so he could gaze into my eyes. “I can tell you what you mean to me with just one word.” Let me guess,” I said, smiling up at him. “Maybe I make you happy because you no longer have to enter kissing contests to find the best kisser? Do I bring excitement into your life because I can wisk you away to exotic lands on my magic carpet? Or do you find me delightful because I can conjure food whenever you’re hungry?” No, that’s not. . . Wait, what was that last one?” I laughed and shook my head. “Never mind. So tell me in one word, what do I mean to you?” That’s easy,” said Eadric. “Everything!
E.D. Baker (No Place for Magic (The Tales of the Frog Princess, #4))
The clitoris not only applauds when a women flaunts her mastery; it will give a standing ovation. In the multiple orgasm, we see the finest evidence that our lady Klitoris helps those who help themselves. It may take many minutes to reach the first summit, but once there the lusty mountaineer finds wings awaiting her. She does noy need to scramble back to the ground before scaling the next peak, but can glide like a raptor on currents of joy.
Natalie Angier (Woman: An Intimate Geography)
the federal government needs to be scaled back to a size where he can personally stomp it to death with steel-toed boots.
Neal Stephenson (Seveneves)
Loving you is like being ten years old again, scaling a tree with my eyes bright and skyward, wanting only to get higher and higher, without a thought of how I would get back down.
Lang Leav (The Universe of Us)
For Jenn At 12 years old I started bleeding with the moon and beating up boys who dreamed of becoming astronauts. I fought with my knuckles white as stars, and left bruises the shape of Salem. There are things we know by heart, and things we don't. At 13 my friend Jen tried to teach me how to blow rings of smoke. I'd watch the nicotine rising from her lips like halos, but I could never make dying beautiful. The sky didn't fill with colors the night I convinced myself veins are kite strings you can only cut free. I suppose I love this life, in spite of my clenched fist. I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree, and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers, and I wonder if Beethoven held his breath the first time his fingers touched the keys the same way a soldier holds his breath the first time his finger clicks the trigger. We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe. But my lungs remember the day my mother took my hand and placed it on her belly and told me the symphony beneath was my baby sister's heartbeat. And I knew life would tremble like the first tear on a prison guard's hardened cheek, like a prayer on a dying man's lips, like a vet holding a full bottle of whisky like an empty gun in a war zone… just take me just take me Sometimes the scales themselves weigh far too much, the heaviness of forever balancing blue sky with red blood. We were all born on days when too many people died in terrible ways, but you still have to call it a birthday. You still have to fall for the prettiest girl on the playground at recess and hope she knows you can hit a baseball further than any boy in the whole third grade and I've been running for home through the windpipe of a man who sings while his hands playing washboard with a spoon on a street corner in New Orleans where every boarded up window is still painted with the words We're Coming Back like a promise to the ocean that we will always keep moving towards the music, the way Basquait slept in a cardboard box to be closer to the rain. Beauty, catch me on your tongue. Thunder, clap us open. The pupils in our eyes were not born to hide beneath their desks. Tonight lay us down to rest in the Arizona desert, then wake us washing the feet of pregnant women who climbed across the border with their bellies aimed towards the sun. I know a thousand things louder than a soldier's gun. I know the heartbeat of his mother. Don't cover your ears, Love. Don't cover your ears, Life. There is a boy writing poems in Central Park and as he writes he moves and his bones become the bars of Mandela's jail cell stretching apart, and there are men playing chess in the December cold who can't tell if the breath rising from the board is their opponents or their own, and there's a woman on the stairwell of the subway swearing she can hear Niagara Falls from her rooftop in Brooklyn, and I'm remembering how Niagara Falls is a city overrun with strip malls and traffic and vendors and one incredibly brave river that makes it all worth it. Ya'll, I know this world is far from perfect. I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon. I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic. But every ocean has a shoreline and every shoreline has a tide that is constantly returning to wake the songbirds in our hands, to wake the music in our bones, to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that brave river that has to run through the center of our hearts to find its way home.
Andrea Gibson
Everything that creates itself upon the backs of smaller scales will by those same scales be consumed.
David Eagleman (Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives)
But it seems Ive got this set of scales inside me that I never used to have, or at least I wasnt aware of, and I cant shake the feeling that if I dont try to keep them balanced, Ill lose something I wont be able to get back.
Karen Marie Moning (Bloodfever (Fever, #2))
Nature was one of the key forces that brought me back to God, for I wanted to know the Artist responsible for beauty such as I saw on grand scale in photos from space telescopes or on minute scale such as in the intricate designs on a butterfly wing.
Philip Yancey
Nothing has changed. The body is susceptible to pain, It must eat and breath air and sleep, It has thin skin and blood right underneath, An adequate stock of teeth and nails, Its bones are breakable, its joints are stretchable. In tortures all this is taken into account. Nothing has changed. The body shudders as it is shuddered Before the founding of Rome and after, In the twentieth century before and after Christ. Tortures are as they were, it’s just the earth that’s grown smaller, And whatever happens seems on the other side of the wall. Nothing has changed. It’s just that there are more people, Besides the old offenses, new ones have appeared, Real, imaginary, temporary, and none, But the howl with which the body responds to them, Was, and is, and ever will be a howl of innocence According to the time-honored scale and tonality. Nothing has changed. Maybe just the manners, ceremonies, dances, Yet the movement of the hands in protecting the head is the same. The body writhes, jerks, and tries to pull away Its legs give out, it falls, the knees fly up, It turns blue, swells, salivates, and bleeds. Nothing has changed. Except of course for the course of boundaries, The lines of forests, coasts, deserts, and glaciers. Amid these landscapes traipses the soul, Disappears, comes back, draws nearer, moves away, Alien to itself, elusive At times certain, at others uncertain of its own existence, While the body is and is and is And has no place of its own.
Wisława Szymborska
He remembers another moment: They'd just found each other again after their fight. She'd talked about the number of events that had to exactly right to form their universe. She'd said falling in love couldn't compete. He's always thought she was wrong about that. Because everything looks like chaos up close. Daniel thinks it's a matter of scale. If you pull back far enough and wait for long enough, then order emerges. Maybe their universe is just taking longer to form.
Nicola Yoon (The Sun Is Also a Star)
Yet for quixotic reasons--namely, that I enjoyed writing obits--I had decided to scale back on articles about city life in order to write exclusively about the city's dead. For even less money. It was a strange and inexplicable career move.
Avi Steinberg (Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian)
I looked at all the trees and didn’t know what to do. A box made out of leaves. What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless. Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else. I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon. From the landscape: a sense of scale. From the dead: a sense of scale. I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority. Everything casts a shadow. Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything.
Richard Siken
Occasionally, there are battles in the sky. One likes to imagine the angels are always triumphant. One does not like to think of the ancient and terrible scales balancing the infernal and divine as wobbling back and forth. Tilting freely, to and fro. One does not like to think that sometimes it is the angel that falls.
Holly Black (A Flight of Angels)
I am Cinna's bird, ignited, flying frantically to escape something inescapable. The feathers of flame that grow from my body. Beating my wings only fans the blaze. I consume myself, but to no end. Finally, my wings begin to falter, I lose height, and gravity pulls me into a foamy sea the color of Finnick's eyes. I float on my back, which continues to burn beneath the water, but the agony quiets to pain. When I am adrift and unable to navigate, that's when they come. The dead. The ones I loved fly as birds in the open sky above me. Soaring, weaving, calling to me to join them. I want so badly to follow them, but the seawater saturates my wings, making it impossible to lift them. The ones I hated have taken to the water, horrible scaled things that tear my salty flesh with needle teeth. Biting again and again. Dragging me beneath the surface. The small white bird tinged in pink dives down, buries her claws in my chest, and tries to keep me afloat. "No, Katniss! No! You can't go!" But the ones I hated are winning, and if she clings to me, she'll be lost as well. "Prim, let go!" And finally she does.
Suzanne Collins
Dear Angel Juan, You used to guard my sleep like a panther biting back my pain with the edge of your teeth. You carried me into the dark dream jungle, loping past the hungry vines, crossing the shiny fish-scale river. We left my tears behind in a chiming silver pool. We left my sorrow in the muddy hollows. When I woke up you were next to me, damp and matted, your eyes hazy, trying to remember the way I clung to you, how far down we went. Was the journey too far, Angel Juan? Did we go too far?
Francesca Lia Block (Missing Angel Juan (Weetzie Bat, #4))
The Children's Hour Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, That is known as the Children's Hour. I hear in the chamber above me The patter of little feet, The sound of a door that is opened, And voices soft and sweet. From my study I see in the lamplight, Descending the broad hall stair, Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, And Edith with golden hair. A whisper, and then a silence: Yet I know by their merry eyes They are plotting and planning together To take me by surprise. A sudden rush from the stairway, A sudden raid from the hall! By three doors left unguarded They enter my castle wall! They climb up into my turret O'er the arms and back of my chair; If I try to escape, they surround me; They seem to be everywhere. They almost devour me with kisses, Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine! Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti, Because you have scaled the wall, Such an old mustache as I am Is not a match for you all! I have you fast in my fortress, And will not let you depart, But put you down into the dungeon In the round-tower of my heart. And there will I keep you forever, Yes, forever and a day, Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, And moulder in dust away!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
For Ares, lord of strife, Who doth the swaying scales of battle hold, War’s money-changer, giving dust for gold, Sends back, to hearts that held them dear, Scant ash of warriors, wept with many a tear, Light to the hand, but heavy to the soul; Yea, fills the light urn full With what survived the flame— Death’s dusty measure of a hero’s frame!
Aeschylus (Agamemnon (Oresteia, #1))
Rank asked why the artist so often avoids clinical neurosis when he is so much a candidate for it because of his vivid imagination, his openness to the finest and broadest aspects of experience, his isolation from the cultural world-view that satisfies everyone else. The answer is that he takes in the world, but instead of being oppressed by it he reworks it in his own personality and recreates it in the work of art. The neurotic is precisely the one who cannot create—the “artiste-manque,” as Rank so aptly called him. We might say that both the artist and the neurotic bite off more than they can chew, but the artist spews it back out again and chews it over in an objectified way, as an ex­ternal, active, work project. The neurotic can’t marshal this creative response embodied in a specific work, and so he chokes on his in­troversions. The artist has similar large-scale introversions, but he uses them as material.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
At that moment, the creature's back breached the waves, its body cutting through the water in a sinuous arch, rainbows sparking off the iridescent scales on its back. Rusalye.
Leigh Bardugo (Siege and Storm (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #2))
I called them up, "Ya, I have ten boxes; can you come pick them up?" "We need to know the weight and the girth." "Okay, good-bye." So I called back. "We need the weight and the girth." "Okay, I don't know what the weight is, and um, I don't know what girth means... So now what's the procedure?" So this guy talks to me like I'm four years old. "Well do you have a bathroom scale?" "Uh, ya but if I put the box on the scale it's gonna cover up the NUMBERS!" What, do I take it off really quick? Ah, zero: I'm not fast enough. What's he talking about? So then he gives me his Mister Wizard Formula, "How about if you stand on the scale and weigh yourself and get off the scale. Pick up the box, get back on, weigh you and the box together, and subtract your own weight." I'm going, "Slow down. Hold on professor." I know this guys never tried this, because I tried it and you still can't see the NUMBERS! Then I had to hang up in the middle of his girth formula.
Brian Regan
Was it probably true that reasoning beings were equal? It seemed more like a belief than a fact, even if I agreed with it. If you followed logic all the way back to its origin, did you inevitably end up at point of illogic, an article of faith?
Rachel Hartman (Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2))
You want to know the story? I'd be happy to tell you. I think I have just enough caloric energy stored up to make it through the telling of the tale. It's short. I am monstrously fat. I am a glutton. My wife was disgusted and repulsed. She gave me six months to lose one hundred pounds. I joined Weight Watchers . . . see it there, right across the street, that gaunt storefront? This afternoon was the big six-month weigh-in. So to speak. I had gained almost seventy pounds in the six months. An errant Snickers bar fell out of the cuff of my pants and rolled against my wife's foot as I stepped on the scale. The scale over there across the street is truly an ingenious device. One preprograms the desired new weight into it, and if one has achieved or gone below that new low weight, the scale bursts into recorded whistles and cheers and some lively marching-band tune. Apparently, tiny flags protrude from the top and wave mechanically back and forth. A failure--see for instance mine--results in a flatulent dirge of disappointed and contemptuous tuba. To the strains of the latter my wife left, the establishment, me, on the arm of a svelte yogurt distributor whom I am even now planning to crush, financially speaking, first thing tomorrow morning. Ms. Beadsman, you will find an eclair on the floor to the left of your chair. Could you perhaps manipulate it onto this plate with minimal chocolate loss and pass it to me.
David Foster Wallace (The Broom of the System)
The truth about most people: they will never accept you as you are. You'll need to change. And I'm begging you, change. But only for yourself, and even if that means by yourself. Never bend for them. Don't calm your heart, don't scale back these dreams. Stay strange, lost your mind, finger fuck the rules, burn bridges if you must, and follow your insanity. Feel everything, it's telling you something. People will love you in bits and pieces, and hate you just the same. You'll always be too much for some, and not enough for others. They will never believe in you, as much as you do. And understand that you will never be a success in the eyes of a failure. There's a magic in you that most others can't believe in, simply because they haven't made sense of themselves. But you're magic, still. You've been that way all along. And even if the world changed everything in you, that much would always be true.
J. Raymond
Her endeavor was misguided and wrong and maybe plain crazy, akin to someone waking up one day and deciding he’s going to scale Kilimanjaro because he can’t stop imagining the view from the top, the picture so arresting and beautiful that it too soon delivers him to a precarious ledge, where he can no longer turn back. And while it’s easy to say this is a situation to be avoided, isn’t this what we also fear and crave simultaneously, that some internal force which defies understanding might remake us into the people we dream we are?
Chang-rae Lee (On Such a Full Sea)
Oh, you humans may prefer empathy and mercy, but that's like intuiting the answer to an equation: you still have to go back and work the problem to be certain you were right. We can come to genuinely moral conclusions by our own paths.
Rachel Hartman (Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2))
These past couple of weeks, I’d scaled Kelly’s massive wall and peeked at what lay beyond. But I’d made myself too comfortable, and he’d tossed me back out, stacked his defenses thicker and taller and coiled it with a halo of concertina wire.
Cara McKenna (After Hours)
The world rides through space on the back of a turtle. This is one of the great ancient world myths, found wherever men and turtles were gathered together; the four elephants were an Indo-European sophistication. The idea has been lying in the lumber rooms of legend for centuries. All I had to do was grab it and run away before the alarms went off. There are no maps. You can't map a sense of humour. Anyway, what is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons? On the Discworld we know There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs.
Terry Pratchett
Wes!” Riley snapped, glaring back at the elevator. “Get out here. The shooting has stopped so you can stop cringing now.” “Oh, well, pardon me for actually having the sense to get out of sight when bullets start flying through the bloody air,” Wes snarled back, coming out of the elevator tube. “I don’t have scales or armor or the testosterone God gave a gorilla, so you’re all going to have to calm your tits until it’s safe.
Julie Kagawa (Soldier (Talon, #3))
There were many thumbs put on my scale. When I look back at my life, what jumps out is how many variables had to fall in place in order to give me a chance.
J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis)
[The Toaster] A silver-scaled dragon with jaws flaming red sits at my elbow and toasts my bread. I hand him fat slices, then one by one he hands them back when he sees they are done.
William Jay Smith
Scott gave my knee an affectionate squeeze. "You'll never hear me admit this again, so listen up. You look good, Grey. On a scale from one to ten, you're definitely in the top half." "Gee, thanks." "You're not the kind of girl I would have chased after when I was in Portland, but I'm not the same guy I was back then either. You're a little too good for me, and let's face it, a little too smart." "You've got street smarts," I pointed out. "Stop interrupting. You're going to make me lose my place." "You've got this speech memorized?" A smirk. "I've got a lot of time on my hands. As I was saying--hell. I forgot where I was." "You were telling me I can rest assured that I'm better-looking than half the girls at my school." "That was a figure of speech. If you want to get technical, you're better-looking than ninety percent. Give or take." I laid a hand over my heart. "I'm speechless." Scott got down on his knee and clasped my hand dramatically. "Yes, Nora. Yes, I'll go to the homecoming dance with you.
Becca Fitzpatrick (Silence (Hush, Hush, #3))
Why is it so loud when you cry from grief? Because it must be loud enough for the missing one to hear, though it never can be. Loud enough to scale the sky and the backs of angels, or to fall through the earth to where they rest. And so it is sometimes when I sing that the notes come from me as if I believed I could reach them where they rest, they sure of a reunion I still cannot imagine or believe in except, sometimes, in song.
Alexander Chee (The Queen of the Night)
When you start out as a parent, you have these big ambitions for your child: success, popularity, brilliance. But as life goes on, sometimes that scales back to something much more profound. Happiness.
Keith Stuart (A Boy Made of Blocks)
Q: Your warehouse workers work 11/5-hour shifts. In order to make rate, a significant number of them need to take over-the-counter painkillers multiple times per shift, which means regular backups at the medical office. Do you: A. Scale back the rate ---clearly, workers are at their physical limits B. Make shifts shorter C. Increase the number or duration of breaks D. Increase staffing at the nurse's office E. Install vending machines to dispense painkillers more efficiently Seriously---what kind of fucking sociopath goes with E?
Emily Guendelsberger (On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane)
Pity the fool who thinks the boundaries of his mortal mind are the boundaries of God the Almighty. Pity the ignorant who assume they can negotiate and settle debts with God. Do such people think God is a grocer who attempts to weigh our virtues and our wrongdoings on two separate scales? Is He a clerk meticulously writing down our sins in His accounting book so as to make us pay Him back someday? Is this their notion of Oneness?
Elif Shafak (The Forty Rules of Love)
I gave Clive a sock full of catnip and a bowlful of tuna. My hope was to get him wasted and passed out before the action started. The treats had the opposite effect. My boy was ready to party down when the first strains of Purina came shrieking through the walls about one fifteen in the morning. If Clive could have put on a mini smoking jacket, he would have. He stalked the room, pacing back and forth in front of the wall, playing it cool. When Purina began her meows, though, he couldn’t contain himself. He once again launched toward the wall. He jumped from nightstand to dresser to shelf, scaling pillows and even a lamp to get closer to his beloved. When he realized he would never be able to burrow under the plaster, he serenaded her with some weird kind of kitty Barry White, his yowls matching hers in intensity.
Alice Clayton (Wallbanger (Cocktail, #1))
Like 90 percent of the television they watch, it comes from the south and is shown dubbed into Yiddish. It concerns the adventures of a pair of children with Jewish names who look like they might be part Indian and have no visible parents. They do have a crystalline magical dragon scale that they wish on in order to travel to a land of pastel dragons, each distinguished by its color and its particular brand of imbecility. Little by little, the children spend more and more time with their magical dragon scale until one day they travel off to the land of rainbow idiocy and never return; their bodies are found by the night manager of their cheap flop, each with a bullet in the back of the head. Maybe, Landsman thinks, something gets lost in the translation.
Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policemen's Union)
The economy is now consuming the planet’s available resources on a scale that rivals their supply while releasing its waste products back into the environment on a scale that greatly affects the major biogeophysical cycles of the planet.
James Gustave Speth
If you followed logic all the way back to its origin, did you inevitable end up at a point of illogic, an article of faith? Even an indisputable fact must be chosen as the place to start reasoning, given weight by a mind that believed in its worth.
Rachel Hartman (Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2))
In darker ages Justice stood alone before courthouses, but in Carlyle’s vision her sister Temperance stands to one side holding back her sword, while from the other side Reason lifts away her blindfold, so Justice can finally see the contents of her scales.
Ada Palmer (The Will to Battle (Terra Ignota, #3))
Éibhear isn’t my friend. He’s kin. A blood relation.” “Which means what exactly?” “To a Cadwaladr, it means that if I have good cause, I could beat the scales off his back and get away with it.
G.A. Aiken (How to Drive a Dragon Crazy (Dragon Kin, #6))
Settle your perfect hips here and the bow of wet arrows loosens into the night the petals that form your form let your clay limbs climb the silence and its pale ladder rung by rung taking off with me in my dream. I can sense you scaling the shade tree that sings to the shadows. Dark is the world’s night without you my love,
Pablo Neruda (Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems)
Or had I come with a far more menial purpose? To find him living alone, waiting for me, craving to be taken back to B.? Yes, both our lives on the same artificial respirator, waiting for that time when we'd finally meet and scale our way back to the Piave memorial.
André Aciman (Call Me by Your Name)
Hygge is our awareness of the scale of our existence in contrast to the immensity of life. It is our sense of intimacy and encounter with each other and with the creaturely world around us. It is the presence of nature calling us back to the present moment, calling us home.
Louisa Thomsen Brits (The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well)
Arrow let the slow pulse of the vibrating strings flood into her. She felt the lament raise a lump in her throat, fought back tears. She inhaled sharp and fast. Her eyes watered, and the notes ascended the scale. The men on the hills, the men in the city, herself, none of them had the right to do the things they'd done. It had never happened. It could not have happened. But she knew these notes. They had become a part of her. They told her that everything had happened exactly as she knew it had, and that nothing could be done about it. No grief or rage or noble act could undo it. But it could all have been stopped. It was possible. The men on the hills didn't have to be murderers. Then men in the city didn't have to lower themselves to fight their attackers. She didn't have to be filled with hatred. The music demanded that she remember this, that she know to a certainity that the world still held the capacity for goodness. The notes were proof of that.
Steven Galloway (The Cellist of Sarajevo)
The distance we set between ourselves and the events of our past life, which reduces their scale, the backlog of things we failed to notice at the time, the logic which connects them, which back then was invisible, the light shed on them by the epoch they belong to, which mankind already considers a moribund piece of history, their ultimate strangeness, which makes us look back on the person we were as though they were a different being, all these things conspire to turn our past into a dream.
Catherine Millet (Jealousy: The Other Life of Catherine M.)
The business of procuring the necessities of life has been shifted from the wood lot, the garden, the kitchen and the family to the factory and the large-scale enterprise. In our case, we moved our center back to the land.
Helen Nearing (The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living)
Keep back no part of the precious truth, but speak what you know, and testify what you have seen. Let not the toil or darkness, or possible unbelief of your friends, weigh one moment in the scale. Up, and be marching to the place of duty, and there tell what great things God has shown to your soul.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Morning And Evening: Daily Readings)
we have a theology that is Earth-centered and involves a tiny piece of space, and when we step back, when we attain a broader cosmic perspective, some of it seems very small in scale. And in fact a general problem with much of Western theology in my view is that the God portrayed is too small. It is a god of a tiny world and not a god of a galaxy, much less of a universe.
Carl Sagan (The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God)
Signs and wonders, eh? Pity if there is nothing wonderful in signs, and significant in wonders! There's a clue somewhere; wait a bit; hist--hark! By Jove, I have it! Look, you Doubloon, your zodiac here is the life of man in one round chapter; and now I'll read it off, straight out of the book. Come, Almanack! To begin: there's Aries, or the Ram--lecherous dog, he begets us; then, Taurus, or the Bull--he bumps us the first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins--that is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer the Crab, and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a roaring Lion, lies in the path--he gives a few fierce bites and surly dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the Virgin! that's our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or Scales--happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in rear; we are curing the wound, when whang comes the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is amusing himself. As we pluck out the shafts, stand aside! here's the battering-ram, Capricornus, or the Goat; full tilt, he comes rushing and headlong we are tossed; when Aquarius, or the the Waterbearer, pours out his whole deluge and drowns us; and, to wind up, with Pisces, or the Fishes, we sleep. There's a sermon now, writ in high heaven, and the sun goes through it every year, and yet comes out of it all alive and hearty.
Herman Melville (Moby-Dick)
Buddy, that’s life. You always work to balance the scales. You don’t wanna owe someone something, even it it’s only in your head that you owe ‘em and they don’t give a shit. It’ll fuck with you. So you give back to balance the scales.
Kristen Ashley (At Peace (The 'Burg, #2))
What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips’s new album is ravishing and I’ve listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who’s up and who’s down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.
Dave Eggers
We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling; revolutions and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. As Shakespeare’s King Lear puts it, “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon.” In one lifetime I’ve seen my fellow countrymen ruling over a quarter of the world, and the great majority of them convinced – in the words of what is still a favorite song – that God has made them mighty and will make them mightier yet. I’ve heard a crazed Austrian announce the establishment of a German Reich that was to last for a thousand years; an Italian clown report that the calendar will begin again with his assumption of power; a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin acclaimed by the intellectual elite as wiser than Solomon, more enlightened than Ashoka, more humane than Marcus Aurelius. I’ve seen America wealthier than all the rest of the world put together; and with the superiority of weaponry that would have enabled Americans, had they so wished, to outdo an Alexander or a Julius Caesar in the range and scale of conquest. All in one little lifetime – gone with the wind: England now part of an island off the coast of Europe, threatened with further dismemberment; Hitler and Mussolini seen as buffoons; Stalin a sinister name in the regime he helped to found and dominated totally for three decades; Americans haunted by fears of running out of the precious fluid that keeps their motorways roaring and the smog settling, by memories of a disastrous military campaign in Vietnam, and the windmills of Watergate. Can this really be what life is about – this worldwide soap opera going on from century to century, from era to era, as old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not. Was it to provide a location for so repetitive and ribald a production as this that the universe was created and man, or homo sapiens as he likes to call himself – heaven knows why – came into existence? I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides are right: the most we can hope for from life is amusement, gratification of our senses, and death. But it is not all.
Malcolm Muggeridge
Pestilence, his crown perched upon his brow. War, with his steel blade held high. Famine, a scythe and scales at hand. And Death, blighted Death, his dark wings folded at his back, a torch of bilious smoke tight in his grip. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, come to claim the earth and lay waste to the mortals that dwelled within it.
Laura Thalassa (Pestilence (The Four Horsemen, #1))
Beavers, the animal that doubles as an ecosystem, are ecological and hydrological Swiss Army knives, capable, in the right circumstances, of tackling just about any landscape-scale problem you might confront. Trying to mitigate floods or improve water quality? There’s a beaver for that. Hoping to capture more water for agriculture in the face of climate change? Add a beaver. Concerned about sedimentation, salmon populations, wildfire? Take two families of beaver and check back in a year. If that all sounds hyperbolic to you, well, I’m going to spend this book trying to change your mind.
Ben Goldfarb (Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter)
Yet Trump has managed to convince his legions that making vile comments about someone is a revolutionary act, a badge of honor and a long-overdue tipping of society's scales back toward reason and truth. Sometimes he's right, but so is the proverbial stopped watch.
Kathleen Parker
We cannot scale Mt Everest in 20 minutes, but give us two weeks, and we'll be back with T-shirts for everyone that read, "I climbed Mt. Everest and this lousy T-shirt is all I got.
Matthew Akers
Sometimes the large scale organic farmer looks like someone trying to practice industrial agriculture with one hand tied behind his back.
Michael Pollan
On Rachel's show for November 7, 2012: We're not going to have a supreme court that will overturn Roe versus Wade. There will be no more Antonio Scalias and Samuel Aleatos added to this court. We're not going to repeal health reform. Nobody is going to kill medicare and make old people in this generation or any other generation fight it out on the open market to try to get health insurance. We are not going to do that. We are not going to give a 20% tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs like food stamps and kid's insurance to cover the cost of that tax cut. We'll not make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control under the insurance plan that you're on. We are not going to redefine rape. We are not going to amend the United States constitution to stop gay people from getting married. We are not going to double Guantanamo. We are not eliminating the Department of Energy or the Department of Education or Housing at the federal level. We are not going to spend $2 trillion on the military that the military does not want. We are not scaling back on student loans because the country's new plan is that you should borrow money from your parents. We are not vetoing the Dream Act. We are not self-deporting. We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt. We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January. We are not going to have, as a president, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared, gay kid, to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help and there was no apology, not ever. We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton. We are not bringing Dick Cheney back. We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraq War. We are not going to do it. We had the chance to do that if we wanted to do that, as a country. and we said no, last night, loudly.
Rachel Maddow
Jim watched them eat, his eyes fixed on every morsel that entered their mouth. When the oldest of the four soldiers had finished he scraped some burnt rice and fish scales from the side of the cooking pot. A first-class private of some forty years, with slow, careful hands, he beckoned Jim forward and handed him his mess tin. As they smoked their cigarettes the Japanese smiled to themselves, watching Jim devour the shreds of fatty rice. It was his first hot food since he had left he hospital, and the heat and greasy flavour stung his gums. Tears swam in his eyes. The Japanese soldier who had taken pity on Jim, recognising that this small boy was starving, began to laugh good-naturedly, and pulled the rubber plug from his metal water-bottle. Jim drank the clear, chlorine-flavoured liquid, so unlike the stagnant water in the taps of the Columbia Road. He choked, carefully swallowed his vomit, and tittered into his hands, grinning at the Japanese. Soon they were all laughing together, sitting back in the deep grass beside the drained swimming-pool.
J.G. Ballard (Empire of the Sun)
I talked about places, about the ways that we often talk about love of place, by which we mean our love for places, but seldom of how the places love us back, of what they give us. They give us continuity, something to return to, and offer a familiarity that allows some portion of our own lives to remain connected and coherent. They give us an expansive scale in which our troubles are set into context, in which the largeness of the world is a balm to loss, trouble, and ugliness.
Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)
Human violence as a kind of fractal—self-similar on all scales from bar fight to system-wide war. The buildup of insults and lost face that swelled over the course of an evening or a century. The shoving and shoving back, neither side sure they wanted to escalate and uncertain how to back down.
James S.A. Corey (Babylon's Ashes (Expanse, #6))
This is the list you carry in your pocket, of the things you plan to say to Kay, when you find him, if you find him: 1. I’m sorry that I forgot to water your ferns while you were away that time. 2. When you said that I reminded you of your mother, was that a good thing? 3. I never really liked your friends all that much. 4. None of my friends ever really liked you. 5. Do you remember when the cat ran away, and I cried and cried and made you put up posters, and she never came back? I wasn’t crying because she didn’t come back. I was crying because I’d taken her to the woods, and I was scared she’d come back and tell you what I’d done, but I guess a wolf got her, or something. She never liked me anyway. 6. I never liked your mother. 7. After you left, I didn’t water your plants on purpose. They’re all dead. 8. Goodbye. 9. Were you ever really in love with me? 10. Was I good in bed, or just average? 11. What exactly did you mean, when you said that it was fine that I had put on a little weight, that you thought I was even more beautiful, that I should go ahead and eat as much as I wanted, but when I weighed myself on the bathroom scale, I was exactly the same weight as before, I hadn’t gained a single pound? 12. So all those times, I’m being honest here, every single time, and anyway I don’t care if you don’t believe me, I faked every orgasm you ever thought I had. Women can do that, you know. You never made me come, not even once. 13. So maybe I’m an idiot, but I used to be in love with you. 14. I slept with some guy, I didn’t mean to, it just kind of happened. Is that how it was with you? Not that I’m making any apologies, or that I’d accept yours, I just want to know. 15. My feet hurt, and it’s all your fault. 16. I mean it this time, goodbye.
Kelly Link (Stranger Things Happen)
They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force - nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
Rix stroked the Glove. "There was a garden and a tree grew there with golden apples and if you ate one of them, you knew everything. And then Sapphique climbed over the fense and killed the many-headed monster and picked the apple, because he wanted to know, you see. He wanted to know how to Escape." "Right." She had wriggled back. She was close to his pocked face. "And a snake came out of the grass and it said, 'Oh go on, eat the apple. I dare you.' And he stopped then with it to his mouth because he knew the snake was Incarceron." Keiro groaned. "Let me..." "Put the Glove away, Rix. Or give it to me." His fingers caressed its dark scales. "And because if he ate it he would know how small he was. How much of a nothing he was. He would see himself as a speck in the vastness of the Prison." "So he didn't eat it, right?
Catherine Fisher (Sapphique (Incarceron, #2))
I've been good at this world, the one that hits you when you are born and makes you cry right from the start, so that crying is your first language. I've learned what I was supposed to learn, bu now it comes to me that in doing so I've unlearned other things. I've lost my sense; I cannot sense things. Yes, we are a shambles. And maybe Ama found the way; she found it when all the paths were washed away by rivers from the sky, when all the buildings were blown down by the breath of a God. For just one day, that one day, she found a way out of that shambles, a way around it. And it's this I want to find. But now she has no path back, no way to return even if she wanted to be here in this America. She will always live away from this world, in something of a twilight that is not one thing or the other, one time or the next. She lives in a point, a small point, between two weighted things and it is always rocking this scale, back and forth.
Linda Hogan
It isn’t that I’m a weak person. I’m a product of self-destruction, or so my therapist tells me. I’m a battlefield of strength versus weakness and reality versus my own mind. I don’t look in the mirror and hate myself because I’m weak. No, I hate myself because even though my clothes and the scale tell me one thing, I can’t see it. It takes all the strength a person can muster to continue fighting his or her own self-image. Fighting to find their way back from the damage they’ve done to themselves physically and mentally.
Harper Sloan (Perfectly Imperfect)
I can’t imagine what other people think cold turkey is like. It is fucking awful. On the scale of things, it’s better than having your leg blown off in the trenches. It’s better than starving to death. But you don’t want to go there. The whole body just sort of turns itself inside out and rejects itself for three days. You know in three days it’s going to calm down. It’s going to be the longest three days you’ve spent in your life, and you wonder why you’re doing this to yourself when you could be living a perfectly normal fucking rich rock star life. And there you are puking and climbing walls. Why do you do that to yourself? I don’t know. I still don’t know. Your skin crawling, your guts churning, you can’t stop your limbs from jerking and moving about, and you’re throwing up and shitting at the same time, and shit’s coming out your nose and your eyes, and the first time that happens for real, that’s when a reasonable man says, “I’m hooked.” But even that doesn’t stop a reasonable man from going back on it.
Keith Richards (Life)
Impossibly, the static coalesces into music. Volkheimer's eyes open as wide as they can. Straining the blackness for every stray photon. A single piano runs up scales. Then back down. He listens to the notes and the silences between them, and then finds himself leading horses through a forest at dawn, trudging through snow behind his great-grandfather, who walks with a saw draped over his huge shoulders, the snow squeaking beneath boots and hooves, all the trees above them whispering and creaking. They reach the edge of a frozen pond, where a pine grows as tall as a cathedral. His great-grandfather goes to his knees like a penitent, fits the saw into a groove in the bark, and begins to cut.
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
Thinking is always thinking, but philosophical thinking is, upon the whole, at the extreme end of the scale of distance from the active urgency of concrete situations. It is because of this fact that neglect of context is the besetting fallacy of philosophical thought … I should venture to assert that the most pervasive fallacy of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context … neglect of context is the greatest single disaster which philosophic thinking can incur.
Iain McGilchrist (The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World)
Webs barely had time to say “What?” before Cirrus was suddenly on his back, pinning him to the ground. His wounds from the SkyWing soldiers flared up with bright new pain. One wing was twisted behind him, and he could feel the IceWing’s serrated claws digging into his scales. “What are you doing?” Webs yelped. “I’m one of you! I’ve been with the Talons of Peace for seven years!” “And you failed us,” Cirrus hissed. “Now, now —” Nautilus said, then paused. “No, that’s fair.” “I’m going to dig your heart out and feed it to the fish,” Cirrus growled. Won’t that be ironic. Webs thought gloomily of the fish he’d just eaten. “But we’re the dragons for peace,” he said, his teeth gritted with pain. “If we kill each other, aren’t we as bad as Burn and Blister and Blaze?” “Sorry, Webs,” Nautilus said. “Peace is more important than any one dragon. And you would disrupt our backup plan. We’re doing this for your own good. For the prophecy. For peace.” Webs
Tui T. Sutherland (The Lost Heir (Wings of Fire, #2))
The frantic summer fishermen who pay a price and glut the decks with fish in the afternoon wonder vaguely what to do with them, sacks and baskets and mountains of porgies and blows and blackfish, sea robins, and even slender dogfish, all to be torn up greedily, to die, and to be thrown back for the waiting gulls. The gulls swarm and wait, knowing the summer fisherman will sicken of their plenty. Who wants to clean and scale a sack of fish? It's harder to give away fish than it is to catch them.
John Steinbeck (The Winter of Our Discontent)
As you begin to simplify your life, you’re going to be making a lot of changes in the way you spend your time. If saying no is a problem for you, go back to your short list (#21) and keep it firmly in mind. Your objective will be to get to the point where you see that by turning down an invitation you’re not saying no to someone else; rather you’re saying yes! to what you really want to do.
Elaine St. James (Living the Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More)
There’s a reason they call childbirth labor. Making a healthy baby takes effort: It requires foresight and self-denial and courage. It’s expensive and demanding and tiring. You have to learn new things, change many habits, possibly deal with complicated medical situations, make difficult decisions, and undergo stressful ordeals. I had a wisdom tooth pulled without Novocaine while I was pregnant—it hurt a lot and seemed to go on forever. The kindness of the very young dental assistant, holding back my hair as I spat blood into a bowl, will stay with me for the rest of my life. Pregnant women do such things, and much harder things, all the time. For example, they give birth, which is somewhere on the scale between painful and excruciating. Or they have a cesarean, as I did, which is major surgery. None of this is without risk of death or damage or trauma, including psychological trauma. To force girls and women to undergo all this against their will is to annihilate their humanity. When they undertake it by choice, we should all be grateful.
Katha Pollitt (Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights)
Once I am sure there's nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut. Another church: matting, seats, and stone, And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; And a tense, musty, unignorable silence, Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off My cycle-clips in awkward reverence. Move forward, run my hand around the font. From where I stand, the roof looks almost new - Cleaned, or restored? Someone would know: I don't. Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce 'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant. The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence, Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. Yet stop I did: in fact I often do, And always end much at a loss like this, Wondering what to look for; wondering, too, When churches will fall completely out of use What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep A few cathedrals chronically on show, Their parchment, plate and pyx in locked cases, And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep. Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? Or, after dark, will dubious women come To make their children touch a particular stone; Pick simples for a cancer; or on some Advised night see walking a dead one? Power of some sort will go on In games, in riddles, seemingly at random; But superstition, like belief, must die, And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky, A shape less recognisable each week, A purpose more obscure. I wonder who Will be the last, the very last, to seek This place for what it was; one of the crew That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique, Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? Or will he be my representative, Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt So long and equably what since is found Only in separation - marriage, and birth, And death, and thoughts of these - for which was built This special shell? For, though I've no idea What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth, It pleases me to stand in silence here; A serious house on serious earth it is, In whose blent air all our compulsions meet, Are recognized, and robed as destinies. And that much never can be obsolete, Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious, And gravitating with it to this ground, Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, If only that so many dead lie round.
Philip Larkin
What I learned was that the more you commit to the process and the more you trust God for increase in every area of your life, the more God allows the scales to tip in your favor until one day the momentum is so tremendous that there is no going back to the life you knew. You
John W. Gray III (I Am Number 8: Overlooked and Undervalued, but Not Forgotten by God)
The Saint—for I was convinced he was a Saint, indeed, whatever the rest of us might have been—now had a fistful of dangling mind-fire threads. "She is broken, this one, in her mind and heart," he said, carefully scooping up the blazing filaments and packing them back into Jannoula. "You must learn to fill yourself with yourself, Blessed." "D-don’t break her any further," I pleaded, feeling responsible. He gave me a sidelong look, and for a moment I thought he was angry. But he said, "Would you break a mirror, Seraphina, because you fear to look into it?
Rachel Hartman (Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2))
I was asked to talk to a roomful of undergraduates in a university in a beautiful coastal valley. I talked about place, about the way we often talk about love of place, but seldom how places love us back, of what they give us. They give us continuity, something to return to, and offer familiarity that allows some portion of our lives to remain collected and coherent. They give us an expansive scale in which our troubles are set into context, in which the largeness of the world is a balm to loss, trouble, and ugliness. And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren't so deeply entrenched and we can imagine other stories, other selves, or just drink up quiet and respite. The bigness of the world is redemption. Despair compresses you into a small space, and a depression is literally a hollow in the ground. To dig deeper into the self, to go underground, is sometimes necessary, but so is the other route of getting out of yourself, into the larger world, into the openness in which you need not clutch your story and your troubles so tightly to your chest. Being able to travel in both ways matters, and sometimes the way back into the heart of the question begins by going outward and beyond. This is the expansiveness that comes literally in a landscape or that tugs you out of yourself in a story..... I told the student that they were at an age when they might begin to choose the places that would sustain them the rest of their lives, that places were much more reliable than human beings, and often much longer-lasting, and I asked each of them where they felt at home. They answered, each of them, down the rows, for an hour, the immigrants who had never stayed anywhere long or left a familiar world behind, the teenagers who'd left the home they'd spent their whole lives in for the first time, the ones who loved or missed familiar landscapes and the ones who had not yet noticed them. I found books and places before I found friends and mentors, and they gave me a lot, if not quite what a human being would. As a child, I spun outward in trouble, for in that inside-out world [of my family], everywhere but home was safe. Happily, the oaks were there, the hills, the creeks, the groves, the birds, the old dairy and horse ranches, the rock outcroppings, the open space inviting me to leap out of the personal into the embrace of the nonhuman world.
Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)
n every culture, the sky and the religious impulse are intertwined. I lie back in an open field and the sky surrounds me. I’m overpowered by its scale. It’s so vast and so far away that my own insignificance becomes palpable. But I don’t feel rejected by the sky. I’m a part of it - tiny, to be sure, but everything is tiny compared to that overwhelming immensity. And when I concentrate in the stars, the planets, and their motions, I have an irresistible sense of machinery, clockwork, elegant precision working on a scale that, however lofty out aspirations, dwarfs and humbles us.
Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)
Each spring for a period of weeks the imperial gardens were filled with prize tulips (Turkish, Dutch, Iranian), all of them shown to their best advantage. Tulips whose petals had flexed wide were held shut with fine threads hand-tied. Most of the bulbs had been grown in place, but these were supplemented by thousands of cut stems held in glass bottles; the scale of the display was further compounded by mirrors placed strategically around the garden. Each variety was marked with a label made from silver filigree. In place of every fourth flower a candle, its wick trimmed to tulip height, was set into the ground. Songbirds in gilded cages supplied the music, and hundreds of giant tortoises carrying candles on their backs lumbered through the gardens, further illuminating the display. All the guests were required to dress in colors that flattered those of the tulips. At the appointed moment a cannon sounded, the doors to the harem were flung open, and the sultan's mistresses stepped into the garden led by eunuchs bearing torches. The whole scene was repeated every night for as long as the tulips were in bloom, for as long as Sultan Ahmed managed to cling to his throne.
Michael Pollan (The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World)
I thought of how many women told me dispiritedly about how their husbands waited for them to ask—or to make a list—and how demoralizing that was for them. I could not help thinking that there was some element of passive aggression in this recurrent theme of nice men, good, playful dads, full of initiative and motivation at work, who “waited to be asked” to do the more tedious baby-related work at home, until the asking was finally scaled back or stopped.
Naomi Wolf (Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood)
Shams of Tabriz Befuddled believer! If every Ramadan one fasts in the name of God and every Eid one sacrifices a sheep or a goat as an atonement for his sins, if all his life one strives to make pilgrimage to Mecca and five times a day kneels on a prayer rug but at the same time has no room for love in his heart, what is the use of all this trouble? Faith is only a word if there is no love at its center, so flaccid and lifeless, vague and hollow -- not anything you could truly feel. Pity the fool who thinks the boundaries of his mortal mind are the boundaries of God the Almighty. Pity the ignorant who assume they can negotiate and settle debts with God. Do such people think God is a grocer who attempts to weigh our virtues and wrongdoings on two separate scales? Is He a clerk meticulously writing down our sins in His accounting book so as to make us pay Him back someday? Is this their notion of Oneness?
Elif Shafak (The Forty Rules of Love)
In that moment, I feel the Prophet's canvas ceiling lift away from my head, walls flying off me, and a pressure I've never put into words hisses somewhere at the back of my mind as the size of the universe assembles itself in my mind. If I close my eyes, I can see it, the endlessness beyond my ears, and knowing I'm only in a corner of that vastness doesn't make me feel tiny. It is amazing that, though I am small and ungifted and barely educated, even I can appreciate the scale of the universe. And from this perch in space, for this moment at least, it seems unimportant whether someone made it, or if it made itself.
Stephanie Oakes (The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly)
Wolsey sits with his elbows on his desk, his fingers dabbing his closed lids. He takes a great breath, and begins to talk: he begins to talk about England. You can’t know Albion, he says, unless you can go back before Albion was thought of. You must go back before Caesar’s legions, to the days when the bones of giant animals and men lay on the ground where one day London would be built. You must go back to the New Troy, the New Jerusalem, and the sins and crimes of the kings who rode under the tattered banners of Arthur and who married women who came out of the sea or hatched out of eggs, women with scales and fins and feathers; beside which, he says, the match with Anne looks less unusual. These are old stories, he says, but some people, let us remember, do believe them.
Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1))
Every man needs slaves as he needs fresh air. Commanding is breathing—you agree with me? And even the most destitute manage to breathe. The lowest man in the social scale still has his wife or his child. If he’s unmarried, a dog. The essential thing, after all, is being able to get angry with someone who has no right to talk back.
Albert Camus (The Fall)
The body receives gratuity. The world gives graciously, disinterestedly, asking for nothing back, expecting nothing in return; it has no scales, no balance sheet. Our senses cede nothing in return for it, can give nothing back to the source of given beauties. What could the eye give back to the sun, or the palate to the vines of Yquem?
Michel Serres (The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies)
Many think that the mark of a great champion is the nature and margin of their victories and the peaks they scale and reach. That’s only part of it. The mark of the greatest of champions is how they react and respond to defeat. That is when they become enshrined in our hearts and minds – as they rise again and into the immortal pages of history.
Rasheed Ogunlaru
Humans are producing no-analog climates, no-analog ecosystems, a whole no-analog future. At this point it might be prudent to scale back our commitments and reduce our impacts. But there are so many of us — as of this writing nearly eight billion — and we are stepped in so far, return seems impractical. And so we face a no-analog predicament. If there is to be an answer to the problem of control, it's going to be more control. Only now what's go to be managed is not a nature that exists — or is imagined to exist — apart from the human. Instead, the new effort begins with a planet remade and spirals back on itself — not so much the control of nature as the control of the control of nature.
Elizabeth Kolbert (Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future)
Howard had a pine display case, fastened by fake leather straps and stained to look like walnut. Inside, on fake velvet, were cheap gold-plated earrings and pendants of semiprecious stones. He opened this case for haggard country wives when their husbands were off chopping trees or reaping the back acres. He showed them the same half-dozen pieces every year the last time he came around, when he thought, This is the season - preserving done, woodpile high, north wind up and getting cold, night showing up earlier every day, dark and ice pressing down from the north, down on the raw wood of their cabins, on the rough-cut rafters that sag and sometimes snap from the weight of the dark and the ice, burying families in their sleep, the dark and the ice and sometimes the red in the sky through trees: the heartbreak of a cold sun. He thought, Buy the pendant, sneak it into your hand from the folds of your dress and let the low light of the fire lap at it late at night as you wait for the roof to give out or your will to snap and the ice to be too thick to chop through with the ax as you stand in your husband's boots on the frozen lake at midnight, the dry hack of the blade on ice so tiny under the wheeling and frozen stars, the soundproof lid of heaven, that your husband would never stir from his sleep in the cabin across the ice, would never hear and come running, half-frozen, in only his union suit, to save you from chopping a hole in the ice and sliding into it as if it were a blue vein, sliding down into the black, silty bottom of the lake, where you would see nothing, would perhaps feel only the stir of some somnolent fish in the murk as the plunge of you in your wool dress and the big boots disturbed it from its sluggish winter dreams of ancient seas. Maybe you would not even feel that, as you struggled in clothes that felt like cooling tar, and as you slowed, calmed, even, and opened your eyes and looked for a pulse of silver, an imbrication of scales, and as you closed your eyes again and felt their lids turn to slippery, ichthyic skin, the blood behind them suddenly cold, and as you found yourself not caring, wanting, finally, to rest, finally wanting nothing more than the sudden, new, simple hum threading between your eyes. The ice is far too thick to chop through. You will never do it. You could never do it. So buy the gold, warm it with your skin, slip it onto your lap when you are sitting by the fire and all you will otherwise have to look at is your splintery husband gumming chew or the craquelure of your own chapped hands.
Paul Harding (Tinkers)
Children ten years old wake up and find themselves here, discover themselves to have been here all along; is this sad? They wake like sleepwalkers, in full stride; they wake like people brought back from cardiac arrest or from drowning: in medias res, surrounded by familiar people and objects, equipped with a hundred skills. They know the neighborhood, they can read and write English, they are old hands at the commonplace mysteries, and yet they feel themselves to have just stepped off the boat, just converged with their bodies, just flown down from a trance, to lodge in an eerily familiar life already well under way. I woke in bits, like all children, piecemeal over the years. I discovered myself and the world, and forgot them, and discovered them again. I woke at intervals until, by that September when Father went down the river, the intervals of waking tipped the scales, and I was more often awake than not. I noticed this process of waking, and predicted with terrifying logic that one of these years not far away I would be awake continuously and never slip back, and never be free of myself again.
Annie Dillard (An American Childhood)
The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity
Ivan Illich (Tools for Conviviality)
These contradictions, of course, lead to explosions, crises, in which momentary suspension of all labour and annihilation of a great part of the capital violently lead it back to the point where it is enabled [to go on] fully employing its productive powers without committing suicide. Yet, these regularly recurring catastrophes lead to their repetition on a higher scale, and finally to its violent overthrow. There are moments in the developed movement of capital which delay this movement other than by crises; such as e.g. the constant devaluation of a part of the existing capital: the transformation of a great part of capital into fixed capital which does not serve as agency of direct production; unproductive waste of a great portion of capital etc.
Karl Marx (Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy)
A few months ago, a fog blinded me, thicker than ever before. I slept in the monster’s arms. I felt its breath on my neck, its scaled stomach rising and falling against my back, its head and face invisible as always. I couldn’t pretend anymore to Margaret that I was working. The children receded into noises grating on my ears. I stopped moving. Weeks went by indistinguishable one from another. I could smell the rot of myself, my armpits, my breath, my groin, as though the living part of death had already commenced, the preliminary decomposing, as the will fades. In Dante and Milton hell is vivid. Sin organizes the dead into struggle. The darkness bristles with life. There is story upon story to tell. But in the fog there is nothing to see. The monster you lie with is your own. The struggle is endlessly private. I thought it was over. That one night the beast at my back would squeeze more tightly and I would cease breathing. What remained of me hoped for it.
Adam Haslett (Imagine Me Gone)
The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.” There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises “adolescence.” The feeling haunts people all their lives. Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again. Two difficulties with this latter scheme at once present themselves. First of all, we have only ever glimpsed, as if through half-closed lids, the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box. Second, no matter how diligent we have been about picking up pieces along the way, we will never have anywhere near enough of them to finish the job. The most we can hope to accomplish with our handful of salvaged bits—the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience—is to build a little world of our own. A scale model of that mysterious original, unbroken, half—remembered. Of course the worlds we build out of our store of fragments can be only approximations, partial and inaccurate. As representations of the vanished whole that haunts us, they must be accounted failures. And yet in that very failure, in their gaps and inaccuracies, they may yet be faithful maps, accurate scale models, of this beautiful and broken world. We call these scale models “works of art.
Michael Chabon (The Wes Anderson Collection)
See them little scales there, how they're closed up tight like window shutters? Underneath 'em are the seeds - flat little things, flimsy as a baby's figernails - with a point at one end. If a fire comes along, the heat is gonna cause those scales to peel back and drop their seeds, while the ground is still scorching hot. Then that tiny seed is gonna burrow in and take root." I was nine years old the summer Freeda and Winnalee Malone rushed across our lives like red-hot flames, peeling back the shutters that sat over our hearts and our minds, setting free our sweetest dreams and our worst nightmares.
Sandra Kring
The more my heart is parked in a place of thanksgiving and rejoicing, the less room I have for grumpiness. My kids are driving me crazy? At least they are healthy enough to have that kind of energy. Don't miss this chance to rejoice. My laundry is piled to the ceiling? Every stitch of clothing is evidence of life in my home. Don't miss this chance to rejoice. My husband isn’t all skippy romantic about the two of us shopping together? In the grand scheme of life, so what? He’s a good man. Don’t miss this chance to rejoice. I feel unorganized and behind and late on everything? Scale back, let unrealistic expectations go, and savor some happy moments today. Don’t miss this chance to rejoice. The more I rejoice, the more I keep things in perspective. The more I keep things in perspective, the gentler I become.
Lysa TerKeurst (Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions)
This was Josie’s preferred method of parenting: go someplace like this, with grand scale and much to be discovered, and watch your children wander and injure themselves but not significantly. Sit and do nothing. When they come back to show you something, some rock or mop of seaweed, inspect it and ask questions about it. Socrates invented the ideal method for the parent who likes to sit and do very little.
Dave Eggers (Heroes of the Frontier)
The result of all this muscular effort, on both the larger scale and the smaller, is that your body burns calories and consumes oxygen at a rate that is unmatched in almost any other human endeavor. Physiologists, in fact, have calculated that rowing a two-thousand-meter race—the Olympic standard—takes the same physiological toll as playing two basketball games back-to-back. And it exacts that toll in about six minutes.
Daniel James Brown (The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics)
Roughly one-third of the planet already lived in chronic poverty, according to United Nations statistics. Farmer pointed out that through the spread of disease, illiteracy, and consumption of resources by the poor, prosperous first-world countries would increasingly be affected—unless they scaled back on their own use of resources and brought education and health care to the poor. In his speeches, Farmer liked to talk about “the nation of humanity,” as opposed to developed or undeveloped nations. He wanted everyone to see the interconnectedness of it all, and that the responsibility of the WLs was more than just giving money. Three
Tracy Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World)
The vast universal suffering feel as thine: Thou must bear the sorrow that thou claimst to heal; The day-bringer must walk in darkest night. He who would save the world must share its pain. If he knows not grief, how shall he find grief’s cure? If far he walks above mortality’s head, How shall the mortal reach that too high path? If one of theirs they see scale heaven’s peaks, Men then can hope to learn that titan climb. God must be born on earth and be as man That man being human may grow even as God. He who would save the world must be one with the world, All suffering things contain in his heart’s space And bear the grief and joy of all that lives. His soul must be wider than the universe And feel eternity as its very stuff, Rejecting the moment’s personality Know itself older than the birth of Time, Creation an incident in its consciousness, Arcturus and Belphegor grains of fire Circling in a corner of its boundless self, The world’s destruction a small transient storm In the calm infinity it has become. If thou wouldst a little loosen the vast chain, Draw back from the world that the Idea has made, Thy mind’s selection from the Infinite, Thy senses’ gloss on the Infinitesimal’s dance, Then shalt thou know how the great bondage came. Banish all thought from thee and be God’s void.
Sri Aurobindo
On the hearth, in front of a back-brand to give substance, blazed a fire of thorns, that crackled 'like the laughter of the fool.' Nineteen persons were gathered here. Of these, five women, wearing gowns of various bright hues, sat in chairs along the wall; girls shy and not shy filled the window-bench; four men, including Charley Jake the hedge-carpenter, Elijah New the parish-clerk, and John Pitcher, a neighboring dairyman, the shepherd's father-in-law, lolled in the settle; a young man and maid, who were blushing over tentative pourparlers on a life companionship, sat beneath the corner-cupboard; and an elderly engaged man of fifty or upward moved restlessly about from spots where his betrothed was not to the spot where she was. Enjoyment was pretty general, and so much the more prevailed in being unhampered by conventional restrictions. Absolute confidence in each other's good opinion begat perfect ease, while the finishing stroke of manner, amounting to a truly princely serenity, was lent to the majority by the absence of any expression or trait denoting that they wished to get on in the world, enlarge their minds, or do any eclipsing thing whatever - which nowadays so generally nips the bloom and bonhomie of all except the two extremes of the social scale. ("The Three Strangers")
Thomas Hardy (Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural)
A few months ago on a school morning, as I attempted to etch a straight midline part on the back of my wiggling daughter's soon-to-be-ponytailed blond head, I reminded her that it was chilly outside and she needed to grab a sweater. "No, mama." "Excuse me?" "No, I don't want to wear that sweater, it makes me look fat." "What?!" My comb clattered to the bathroom floor. "Fat?! What do you know about fat? You're 5 years old! You are definitely not fat. God made you just right. Now get your sweater." She scampered off, and I wearily leaned against the counter and let out a long, sad sigh. It has begun. I thought I had a few more years before my twin daughters picked up the modern day f-word. I have admittedly had my own seasons of unwarranted, psychotic Slim-Fasting and have looked erroneously to the scale to give me a measurement of myself. But these departures from my character were in my 20s, before the balancing hand of motherhood met the grounding grip of running. Once I learned what it meant to push myself, I lost all taste for depriving myself. I want to grow into more of a woman, not find ways to whittle myself down to less. The way I see it, the only way to run counter to our toxic image-centric society is to literally run by example. I can't tell my daughters that beauty is an incidental side effect of living your passion rather than an adherence to socially prescribed standards. I can't tell my son how to recognize and appreciate this kind of beauty in a woman. I have to show them, over and over again, mile after mile, until they feel the power of their own legs beneath them and catch the rhythm of their own strides. Which is why my parents wake my kids early on race-day mornings. It matters to me that my children see me out there, slogging through difficult miles. I want my girls to grow up recognizing the beauty of strength, the exuberance of endurance, and the core confidence residing in a well-tended body and spirit. I want them to be more interested in what they are doing than how they look doing it. I want them to enjoy food that is delicious, feed their bodies with wisdom and intent, and give themselves the freedom to indulge. I want them to compete in healthy ways that honor the cultivation of skill, the expenditure of effort, and the courage of the attempt. Grace and Bella, will you have any idea how lovely you are when you try? Recently we ran the Chuy's Hot to Trot Kids K together as a family in Austin, and I ran the 5-K immediately afterward. Post?race, my kids asked me where my medal was. I explained that not everyone gets a medal, so they must have run really well (all kids got a medal, shhh!). As I picked up Grace, she said, "You are so sweaty Mommy, all wet." Luke smiled and said, "Mommy's sweaty 'cause she's fast. And she looks pretty. All clean." My PRs will never garner attention or generate awards. But when I run, I am 100 percent me--my strengths and weaknesses play out like a cracked-open diary, my emotions often as raw as the chafing from my jog bra. In my ultimate moments of vulnerability, I am twice the woman I was when I thought I was meant to look pretty on the sidelines. Sweaty and smiling, breathless and beautiful: Running helps us all shine. A lesson worth passing along.
Kristin Armstrong
The Bird Park.” We spent more time than I had expected to there — nearly an hour. We walked across quaint bridges, saw flamingos and macaws and toucans, and a host of others. Ellen bought the appropriate bags of nourishment to feed the ducks, swans, and various colorful larger birds, some from South America, who would eat right out of her hand. She loved it, and the aviary was beautiful, the water and trees and birds. Secretly, however, I was a bit disappointed. They’d scaled it back during the war, and maybe if you’d never been through it back then it seemed wonderful. But if you had, it was a reminder that winning the war had many price tags attached to it.
Bobby Underwood (Nightside (Nostalgia Crime, #3))
Merrill Hartweiss scales a rocky incline toward Renna. The noon sun bakes the hillside as Merrill's boots dig into the broiling sands. Yet another gypsy tune enters his head. It starts off slowly. A lone guitar, its strings strummed with the lustful passion of a young man brushing his fingertips softly against the breasts of his lover. Another guitar joins, like a second hand, exploring her hot flesh, stroking the side of her bare abdomen, and gradually moving upward toward her chest. Then, a female voice joins the guitars; it is slightly raspy, yet sultry; filled with a fiery allure. The guitars pick up in intensity and tempo. There is a rhythmic clapping now, in synchronization with the strumming. The man has entered his lover. Sweat begins to form on Merrill's forehead, then quickly turns to vapor, dissipating into the blistering heat from the sunlight reflecting off the sands. Steady clapping, louder still. The tempo quickens, progressively and with a vigorous intensity. The man arches his back, cresting then falling; cresting, arching, rising and falling deeper again and again into his lover. The clapping, now faster, still rhythmic, but so much more intense. The guitars keep pace with increasing ferocity. In the woman's voice, short, quick breaths form words as she cries out her lover's name from deep within the throes of a forbidden love
Angel Rosa
To get a sense of the scale of Earth history, imagine walking back in time, a hundred years per step—every pace equal to more than three human generations. A mile takes you 175,000 years into the past. The twenty miles of Chesapeake cliffs, a hard day’s walk to be sure, correspond to more than 3 million years. But to make even a small dent in Earth history, you would have to keep walking at that rate for many weeks. Twenty days of effort at twenty miles a day and a hundred years per step would take you back 70 million years, to just before the mass death of the dinosaurs. Five months of twenty-mile walks would correspond to more than 530 million years, the time of the Cambrian “explosion”—the near-simultaneous emergence of myriad hard-shelled animals. But at a hundred years per footstep, you’d have to walk for almost three years to reach the dawn of life, and almost four years to arrive at Earth’s beginnings.
Robert M. Hazen (The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet)
I don’t remember when I stopped noticing—stopped noticing every mirror, every window, every scale, every fast-food restaurant, every diet ad, every horrifying model. And I don’t remember when I stopped counting, or when I stopped caring what size my pants were, or when I started ordering what I wanted to eat and not what seemed “safe,” or when I could sit comfortably reading a book in my kitchen without noticing I was in my kitchen until I got hungry—or when I started just eating when I got hungry, instead of questioning it, obsessing about it, dithering and freaking out, as I’d done for nearly my whole life. I don’t remember exactly when recovery took hold, and went from being something I both fought and wanted, to being simply a way of life. A way of life that is, let me tell you, infinitely more peaceful, infinitely happier, and infinitely more free than life with an eating disorder. And I wouldn’t give up this life of freedom for the world. What I know is this: I chose recovery. It was a conscious decision, and not an easy one. That’s the common denominator among people I know who have recovered: they chose recovery, and they worked like hell for it, and they didn’t give up. Recovery isn’t easy, at first. It takes time. It takes more work, sometimes, than you think you’re willing to do. But it is worth every hard day, every tear, every terrified moment. It’s worth it, because the trade-off is this: you let go of your eating disorder, and you get back your life. There are a couple of things I had to keep in mind in early recovery. One was that I was going to recover, even though I didn’t feel “ready.” I realized I was never going to feel ready—I was just going to jump in and do it, ready or not, and I am deeply glad that I did. Another was that symptoms were not an option. Symptoms, as critically necessary and automatic as they feel, are ultimately a choice. You can choose to let the fallacy that you must use symptoms kill you, or you can choose not to use symptoms. Easier said than done? Of course. But it can be done. I had to keep at the forefront of my mind the reasons I wanted to recover so badly, and the biggest one was this: I couldn’t believe in what I was doing anymore. I couldn’t justify committing my life to self-destruction, to appearance, to size, to weight, to food, to obsession, to self-harm. And that was what I had been doing for so long—dedicating all my strength, passion, energy, and intelligence to the pursuit of a warped and vanishing ideal. I just couldn’t believe in it anymore. As scared as I was to recover, to recover fully, to let go of every last symptom, to rid myself of the familiar and comforting compulsions, I wanted to know who I was without the demon of my eating disorder inhabiting my body and mind. And it turned out that I was all right. It turned out it was all right with me to be human, to have hungers, to have needs, to take space. It turned out that I had a self, a voice, a whole range of values and beliefs and passions and goals beyond what I had allowed myself to see when I was sick. There was a person in there, under the thick ice of the illness, a person I found I could respect. Recovery takes time, patience, enormous effort, and strength. We all have those things. It’s a matter of choosing to use them to save our own lives—to survive—but beyond that, to thrive. If you are still teetering on the brink of illness, I invite you to step firmly onto the solid ground of health. Walk back toward the world. Gather strength as you go. Listen to your own inner voice, not the voice of the eating disorder—as you recover, your voice will get clearer and louder, and eventually the voice of the eating disorder will recede. Give it time. Don’t give up. Love yourself absolutely. Take back your life. The value of freedom cannot be overestimated. It’s there for the taking. Find your way toward it, and set yourself free.
Marya Hornbacher
However, one intriguing shift that suggests there are limits to automation was the recent decision by Toyota to systematically put working humans back into the manufacturing process. In quality and manufacturing on a mass scale, Toyota has been a global leader in automation technologies based on the corporate philosophy of kaizen (Japanese for “good change”) or continuous improvement. After pushing its automation processes toward lights-out manufacturing, the company realized that automated factories do not improve themselves. Once Toyota had extraordinary craftsmen that were known as Kami-sama, or “gods” who had the ability to make anything, according to Toyota president Akio Toyoda.49 The craftsmen also had the human ability to act creatively and thus improve the manufacturing process. Now, to add flexibility and creativity back into their factories, Toyota chose to restore a hundred “manual-intensive” workspaces.
John Markoff (Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots)
Haven't I told you scores of times, that you're always beginners, and the greatest satisfaction was not in being at the top, but in getting there, in the enjoyment you get out of scaling the heights? That's something you don't understand, and can't understand until you've gone through it yourself. You're still at the state of unlimited illusions, when a good, strong pair of legs makes the hardest road look short, and you've such a mighty appetite for glory that the tiniest crumb of success tastes delightfully sweet. You're prepared for a feast, you're going to satisfy your ambition at last, you feel it's within reach and you don't care if you give the skin off your back to get it! And then, the heights are scaled, the summits reached, and you've got to stay there. That's when the torture begins; you've drunk your excitement to the dregs and found it all too short and even rather bitter, and you wonder whether it was really worth the struggle. From that point there is no more unknown to explore, no new sensations to experience. Pride has had its brief portion of celebrity; you know that your best has been given and you're surprised it hasn't brought a keener sense of satisfaction. From that moment the horizon starts to empty of all hopes that once attracted you towards it. There's nothing to look forward to but death. But in spite of that you cling on, you don't want to feel you're played out, you persist in trying to produce something, like old men persist in trying to make love, with painful, humiliating results. ... If only we could have the courage to hang ourselves in front of our last masterpiece!
Émile Zola (The Masterpiece)
O where are you going with your love-locks flowing On the west wind bellowing along this valley track?” “The downhill path is easy, come with me an it please ye, We shall escape the uphill by never turning back.” So they two went together in glowing August weather, The honey-breathing heather lay to their left and right; And dear she was to doat on, her swift feet seemed to float on The air like soft twin pigeons too sportive to alight. “Oh, what is that in heaven where grey cloud-flakes are seven, Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt?” “Oh, that’s a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous, An undeciphered solemn signal of help or hurt>” “Oh, what is that glides quickly where velvet flowers grow thickly, Their scent comes rich and sickly?” “A scaled and hooded worm.” ”Oh, what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?” “Oh, that’s a thin dead body which waits the eternal term.” “Turn again, O my sweetest,--turn again, false and fleetest: This beaten way thou beatest, I fear is hell’s own track.” “Nay, too steep for hill mounting; nay, too late for cost counting: This downhill path is easy, but there’s no turning back.
Christina Rossetti (Goblin Market, the Prince's Progress and Other Poems)
Who can say what goes through the mind of a clapper in the moments before carrying out that evil deed? No doubt whatever those thoughts are, they are lies. However, like all dangerous deceptions, the lies that clappers tell themselves wear seductive disguises. For clappers who have been led to believe their acts are smiled upon by God, their lie is clothed in holy robes and has outstretched arms promising a reward that will never come. For clappers who believe their act will somehow bring about change in the world, their lie is disguised as a crowd looking back at them from the future, smiling in appreciation for what they've done. For clappers who seek only to share their personal misery with the world, their lie is an image of themselves freed from their pain by witnessing the pain of others. And for clappers who are driven by vengeance, their lie is a scale of justice, weighted evenly on both sides, finally in balance It is only when a clapper brings his hands together that the lie reveals itself, abandoning the clapper in that final instant so that he exits this world utterly alone, without so much as a lie to accompany him into oblivion. Or her.
Neal Shusterman (Unwind (Unwind, #1))
Montenegro (1877) THEY rose to where their sovereign eagle sails, They kept their faith, their freedom, on the height, Chaste, frugal, savage, arm'd by day and night Against the Turk; whose inroad nowhere scales Their headlong passes, but his footstep fails, And red with blood the Crescent reels from fight Before their dauntless hundreds, in prone flight By thousands down the crags and thro' the vales. O smallest among peoples! rough rock-throne Of Freedom! warriors beating back the swarm Of Turkish Islam for five hundred years, Great Tsernogora! never since thine own Black ridges drew the cloud and brake the storm Has breathed a race of mightier mountaineers. Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1880
Alfred Tennyson
I kinda like the idea" she said, "That when we die, despite any pain or fear or embarrassment we experience during our lives, despite any heartbreak or grief, we get to be dispersed back into nothingness. It makes me feel brave, knowing that I'll get a blank slate at the end. You get a brief glimmer of consciousness... I can appreciate that that's redemption, on the grandest scale. Oblivion isn't scary; it's the closest thing to genuine absolution of sin that I can imagine
Krystal Sutherland (Our Chemical Hearts)
... and she turned for the stairs as the sound of rain came, finally, scattered across the roof, a fall that now gave substance to the stilled beams of headlamps in the drive where those of flashlights rose and fell to the cadenced steps come back and round the range of yew and up the terrace and through the door to fall on broken glass and flee across the inkstained carpet, darting, climbing, caught fixed in niches, they scaled the walls and leaped the beams to skirt the hayloft.
William Gaddis (JR)
George Bernard Shaw once said: “Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force.” When liberals make the argument that capitalism is the cause of all of our problems, they are either speaking out of abject ignorance or being totally disingenuous to protect their own political interests. We have not had true free-market capitalism in this country on any wide scale. Where we have had economic successes in this nation’s history, it has been those times when people have done something outside of the government’s involvement. Every single time the federal government has been involved, it has created chaos, waste, and corruption. The historical record is overwhelmingly one of gross incompetence.
Ziad K. Abdelnour (Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics)
Sometimes it's hard because I don't like to hurt people's feelings. So there have been times when a friend will get a haircut and I will see it and my initial reaction is "Oh my God, you look like a streetwalker who got caught in a wind tunnel." But I obviously can't say that because that would be an insult to streetwalkers. So I have to say, "I love it! It looks great!" But when I say it my voice goes up about three octaves. "It looks greee-aaattt!" So I'm certain they know I'm lying. How come when we lie our voices go up so many octaves? It's a dead giveaway. It happens when we dole out compliments we don't mean and it happens when we say things like "You didn't have to get my anything!" or "What do you mean you weren't invited to my party? You're always invited!" Everyone knows what those mean. "You definitely had to get me something" and "You haven't been invited back to the house since the urn incident of '04." And it's a mathematical fact: the higher the octave, the bigger the lie. "I didn't even hear my phone ring!" is usually like a four on the scale. "You think I'm sleeping with someone else?" is off the charts. I can tell when people are lying to me when they start their sentence with "I have to be honest with you." They may as well say, "Listen, I'm about to lie straight to your face." Why do people need to clarify when they're being honest? Does that mean everything else they've ever said has been a lie? Yesterday they said they liked my sweater but they didn't say they were being honest. Does that mean they hated it? It's so strange to me. It almost feels like they're giving me the option to not hear the truth. As if when they say, "I have to be honest with you," I might say, "No, no. Please. Only lies right now.
Ellen DeGeneres (Seriously... I'm Kidding)
I realized I still had my eyes shut. I had shut them when I put my face to the screen, like I was scared to look outside. Now I had to open them. I looked out the window and saw for the first time how the hospital was out in the country. The moon was low in the sky over the pastureland; the face of it was scarred and scuffed where it had just torn up out of the snarl of scrub oak and madrone trees on the horizon. The stars up close to the moon were pale; they got brighter and braver the farther they got out of the circle of light ruled by the giant moon. It called to mind how I noticed the exact same thing when I was off on a hunt with Papa and the uncles and I lay rolled in blankets Grandma had woven, lying off a piece from where the men hunkered around the fire as they passed a quart jar of cactus liquor in a silent circle. I watched that big Oregon prairie moon above me put all the stars around it to shame. I kept awake watching, to see if the moon ever got dimmer or if the stars got brighter, till the dew commenced to drift onto my cheeks and I had to pull a blanket over my head. Something moved on the grounds down beneath my window — cast a long spider of shadow out across the grass as it ran out of sight behind a hedge. When it ran back to where I could get a better look, I saw it was a dog, a young, gangly mongrel slipped off from home to find out about things went on after dark. He was sniffing digger squirrel holes, not with a notion to go digging after one but just to get an idea what they were up to at this hour. He’d run his muzzle down a hole, butt up in the air and tail going, then dash off to another. The moon glistened around him on the wet grass, and when he ran he left tracks like dabs of dark paint spattered across the blue shine of the lawn. Galloping from one particularly interesting hole to the next, he became so took with what was coming off — the moon up there, the night, the breeze full of smells so wild makes a young dog drunk — that he had to lie down on his back and roll. He twisted and thrashed around like a fish, back bowed and belly up, and when he got to his feet and shook himself a spray came off him in the moon like silver scales. He sniffed all the holes over again one quick one, to get the smells down good, then suddenly froze still with one paw lifted and his head tilted, listening. I listened too, but I couldn’t hear anything except the popping of the window shade. I listened for a long time. Then, from a long way off, I heard a high, laughing gabble, faint and coming closer. Canada honkers going south for the winter. I remembered all the hunting and belly-crawling I’d ever done trying to kill a honker, and that I never got one. I tried to look where the dog was looking to see if I could find the flock, but it was too dark. The honking came closer and closer till it seemed like they must be flying right through the dorm, right over my head. Then they crossed the moon — a black, weaving necklace, drawn into a V by that lead goose. For an instant that lead goose was right in the center of that circle, bigger than the others, a black cross opening and closing, then he pulled his V out of sight into the sky once more. I listened to them fade away till all I could hear was my memory of the sound.
Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest :Text and Criticism)
My life seems to be an increasing revelation of the intimate face of universal struggle. You begin with your family and the kids on the block, and next you open your eyes to what you call your people and that leads you into land reform into Black English into Angola leads you back into your own bed where you lie by yourself, wondering if you deserve to be peaceful, or trusted or desired or left to the freedom of your own unfaltering heart. And the scale shrinks to the size of a skull: your own interior cage.
June Jordan (Some of Us Did Not Die: New and Selected Essays)
One may discover integrity in the companionship of others, but one does not ever discover integrity by bowing to the demands of peer pressure. The heavier the pressure is toward conformity— no matter how lofty the proposed final goal— the more one must be suspicious of it and antagonistic to it. History has one consistent lesson in it: one by one, people give up what they know to be right and true for the sake of something loftier that they do not quite understand but should want in order to be good; soon, people are the tools of despots and atrocities are committed on a grand scale. And then, it is too late. There is no going back. Women are especially given to giving up what we know and feel to be right and true for the sake of others or for the sake of something more important than ourselves. This is because the condition in which women live is a colonized condition. Women are colonized by men, in body, in mind. Defined everywhere as evil when we act in our own self-interest, we strive to be good by renouncing self-interest altogether.
Andrea Dworkin (Letters from a War Zone)
But when you look at CMB map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That's crazy. We're looking out at the whole universe. There's no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun - the plane of the earth around the sun - the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe. The new results are either telling us that all of science is wrong and we're the center of the universe, or maybe the data is (s)imply incorrect, or maybe it's telling us there's something weird about the microwave background results and that maybe, maybe there's something wrong with our theories on the larger scales.
Lawrence M. Krauss
When I was born,” Niall Lynch told his middle son, “God broke the mold so hard the ground shook.” This was already a lie, because if God truly had broken the mold for Niall, He’d made Himself a knockoff twenty years later to craft Ronan and his two brothers, Declan and Matthew. The three brothers were nothing if not handsome copies of their father, although each flattered a different side of Niall. Declan had the same way of taking a room and shaking its hand. Matthew’s curls were netted with Niall’s charm and humor. And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war. There was little to nothing of their mother in any of them. “It was a proper earthquake,” Niall clarified, as if anyone had asked him — and knowing Niall, they probably had. “Four point one on the Richter scale. Anything under four would’ve just cracked the mold, not broken it.” Back then, Ronan was not in the business of believing, but that was all right, because his father wanted adoration, not trust. “And you, Ronan,” Niall said. He always said Ronan differently from other words. As if he had meant to say another word entirely — something like knife or poison or revenge — and then swapped it out for Ronan’s name at the last moment. “When you were born, the rivers dried up and the cattle in Rockingham County wept blood.
Maggie Stiefvater (The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2))
They (Romans) were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force - nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to...
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
We shall not lie on our backs at the Red Castle and watch the vultures wheeling over the valley where they killed the grandson of Genghiz. We will not read Babur's memoirs in his garden at Istalif and see the blind man smelling his way around the rose bushes. Or sit in the Peace of Islam with the beggars of Gazar Gagh. We will not stand on the Buddha's head at Bamiyan, upright in his niche like a whale in a dry-dock. We will not sleep in the nomad tent, or scale the Minaret of Jam. And we shall lose the tastes - the hot, coarse, bitter bread; the green tea flavoured with cardamoms; the grapes we cooled in the snow-melt; and the nuts and dried mulberries we munched for altitude sickness. Nor shall we get back the smell of the beanfields, the sweet, resinous smell of deodar wood burning, or the whiff of a snow leopard at 14,000 feet.
Bruce Chatwin (What Am I Doing Here?)
As I witness and participate in our visionary efforts to revitalize Detroit and contrast them with the multibillion dollars' worth of megaprojects advanced by politicians and developed that involve casinos, giant stadiums, gentrification, and the Super Bowl, I am saddened by their shortsightedness. At the same time I rejoice in the energy being unleashed in the community by our human-scale programs that involve bringing the country back into the city and removing the walls between schools and communities, between generations, and between ethnic groups. And I am confident just as in the early twentieth century people came from around the world to marvel at the mass production lines pioneered by Henry Ford, in the twenty-first century they will be coming to marvel at the thriving neighborhoods that are the fruit of our visionary programs.
Grace Lee Boggs
The the street was quiet again. Country quiet. That's partly what took city natives like the Whitlams by surprise, Falk thought: the quiet. He could understand them seeking out the idyllic country lifestyle, a lot of people did. The idea had an enticing, wholesome glow when it was weighed out from the back of a traffic jam, or while crammed into a gardenless apartment. They all had the same visions of breathing fresh clean air and knowing their neighbors. The kids would eat home-grown veggies and learn the value of an honest day's work. On arrival, as the empty moving truck disappeared form sight, they looked around and were always taken aback by the crushing vastness of the open land. The space was the thing that hit them first. There was so much of it. There was enough to drown in. To look out and see not another soul between you and the horizon could be a strange and disturbing sight. Soon, they discovered that the veggies didn't grow as willingly as they had in the city window box. That every single green shoot had to be coaxed and prized from the reluctant soil, and the neighbors were too busy doing the same on an industrial scale to muster much cheer in their greetings. There was no daily bumper-to-bumper commute, but there was also nowhere much to drive to. Falk didn't blame the Whitlams, he'd seen it many times before when he was a kid. The arrivals looked around at the barrenness and the scale and the sheer bloody hardness of the land, and before long their faces all said exactly the same thing. "I didn't know it was like this." He turned away, remembering how the rawness of local life had seeped into the kids' paintings at the school. Sad faces and brown landscapes.
Jane Harper (The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1))
I turned around to examine the rest of my temporary prison, and saw an enormous golden eye staring at me, less than ten feet away from where I stood. I did what any sensible witch would do in my circumstance. I screamed like a scared little girl. The eye blinked. Once, twice, and then shifted as the dragon turned its head toward me, regarding me with both golden eyes. “I could have eaten you, you know.” I nodded numbly and stammered, “Thank you for not doing that.” I knew dragons existed in Faerie, though I’d never seen one before. Dragons are reclusive as a rule and tend to guard their privacy ferociously, so only the overly brave or overly stupid seek them out on purpose. The creature was huge, taking up a good portion of the room with its bulk. Black scales covered its body, and leathery wings were folded against its back. Smoke puffed out of its nostrils for a moment, and my stomach leapt in panic. “I only eat virgins though.” I stared at the dragon in disbelief, feeling the inexplicable urge to defend my past sexual history. My mouth worked as I struggled to find an appropriate response, and I thought I saw a glint of humor in its golden gaze.
Robyn Bachar (Blood, Smoke and Mirrors (Bad Witch #1))
So, dearest Madden, on a scale of one to ten ... am I fired?" "What, for completely disobeying orders and bringing public enemy number one back to the center of the liberal universe so we would have to actually pardon him?" "Something like that." "You know, this may surprise you, but the president of the United States, your commander in chief, wanted me to express her gratitude. She said she admires your moxie." "Wow. The president of the United States admires my moxie. Are you jealous?" "Maybe. It's possible. No one has ever said anything about my moxie." I slurp through my smirk.
Andrea Portes (Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me)
— If love wants you; if you’ve been melted down to stars, you will love with lungs and gills, with warm blood and cold. With feathers and scales. Under the hot gloom of the forest canopy you’ll want to breathe with the spiral calls of birds, while your lashing tail still gropes for the waes. You’ll try to haul your weight from simple sea to gravity of land. Caught by the tide, in the snail-slip of your own path, for moments suffocating in both water and air. If love wants you, suddently your past is obsolete science. Old maps, disproved theories, a diorama. The moment our bodies are set to spring open. The immanence that reassembles matter passes through us then disperses into time and place: the spasm of fur stroked upright; shocked electrons. The mother who hears her child crying upstairs and suddenly feels her dress wet with milk. Among black branches, oyster-coloured fog tongues every corner of loneliness we never knew before we were loved there, the places left fallow when we’re born, waiting for experience to find its way into us. The night crossing, on deck in the dark car. On the beach wehre night reshaped your face. In the lava fields, carbon turned to carpet, moss like velvet spread over splintered forms. The instant spray freezes in air above the falls, a gasp of ice. We rise, hearing our names called home through salmon-blue dusk, the royal moon an escutcheon on the shield of sky. The current that passes through us, radio waves, electric lick. The billions of photons that pass through film emulsion every second, the single submicroscopic crystal struck that becomes the phograph. We look and suddenly the world looks back. A jagged tube of ions pins us to the sky. — But if, like starlings, we continue to navigate by the rear-view mirror of the moon; if we continue to reach both for salt and for the sweet white nibs of grass growing closest to earth; if, in the autumn bog red with sedge we’re also driving through the canyon at night, all around us the hidden glow of limestone erased by darkness; if still we sish we’d waited for morning, we will know ourselves nowhere. Not in the mirrors of waves or in the corrading stream, not in the wavering glass of an apartment building, not in the looming light of night lobbies or on the rainy deck. Not in the autumn kitchen or in the motel where we watched meteors from our bed while your slow film, the shutter open, turned stars to rain. We will become indigestible. Afraid of choking on fur and armour, animals will refuse the divided longings in our foreing blue flesh. — In your hands, all you’ve lost, all you’ve touched. In the angle of your head, every vow and broken vow. In your skin, every time you were disregarded, every time you were received. Sundered, drowsed. A seeded field, mossy cleft, tidal pool, milky stem. The branch that’s released when the bird lifts or lands. In a summer kitchen. On a white winter morning, sunlight across the bed.
Anne Michaels
You will leave your home: nothing will hold you. You will wear dresses of gold; skins of silver, copper and bronze. The sky above you will shift in meaning each time you think you understand. You will spend a lifetime chipping away layers of flesh. The shadow of your scales will always remain. You will be marked by sulphur and salt. You will bathe endlessly in clear streams and fail to rid yourself of that scent. Your feet will never be your own. Stone will be your path. Storms will follow in your wake, destroying all those who take you in. You will desert your children kill your lovers and devour their flesh. You will love no one but the wind and ache of your bones. Neither will love you in return. With age, your hair will grow matted and dull, your skin will gape and hang in long folds, your eyes will cease to shine. But nothing will be enough. The sea will never take you back.
Shara McCallum
In Laos, a baby was never apart from its mother, sleeping in her arms all night and riding on her back all day. Small children were rarely abused; it was believed that a dab who witnessed mistreatment might take the child, assuming it was not wanted. The Hmong who live in the United States have continued to be unusually attentive parents. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota found Hmong infants in the first month of life to be less irritable and more securely attached to their mothers than Caucasian infants, a difference the researcher attributed to the fact that the Hmong mothers were, without exception, more sensitive, more accepting, and more responsive, as well as “exquisitely attuned” to their children’s signals. Another study, conducted in Portland, Oregon, found that Hmong mothers held and touched their babies far more frequently than Caucasian mothers. In a third study, conducted at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minnesota, a group of Hmong mothers of toddlers surpassed a group of Caucasian mothers of similar socioeconomic status in every one of fourteen categories selected from the Egeland Mother-Child Rating Scale, ranging from “Speed of Responsiveness to Fussing and Crying” to “Delight.
Anne Fadiman (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures)
Funnel The family story tells, and it was told true, of my great-grandfather who begat eight genius children and bought twelve almost-new grand pianos. He left a considerable estate when he died. The children honored their separate arts; two became moderately famous, three married and fattened their delicate share of wealth and brilliance. The sixth one was a concert pianist. She had a notable career and wore cropped hair and walked like a man, or so I heard when prying a childhood car into the hushed talk of the straight Maine clan. One died a pinafore child, she stays her five years forever. And here is one that wrote- I sort his odd books and wonder his once alive words and scratch out my short marginal notes and finger my accounts. back from that great-grandfather I have come to tidy a country graveyard for his sake, to chat with the custodian under a yearly sun and touch a ghost sound where it lies awake. I like best to think of that Bunyan man slapping his thighs and trading the yankee sale for one dozen grand pianos. it fit his plan of culture to do it big. On this same scale he built seven arking houses and they still stand. One, five stories up, straight up like a square box, still dominates its coastal edge of land. It is rented cheap in the summer musted air to sneaker-footed families who pad through its rooms and sometimes finger the yellow keys of an old piano that wheezes bells of mildew. Like a shoe factory amid the spruce trees it squats; flat roof and rows of windows spying through the mist. Where those eight children danced their starfished summers, the thirty-six pines sighing, that bearded man walked giant steps and chanced his gifts in numbers. Back from that great-grandfather I have come to puzzle a bending gravestone for his sake, to question this diminishing and feed a minimum of children their careful slice of suburban cake.
Anne Sexton
If you’re asking the schools to be the answer, you’re also asking a lot. If you take a kid from a bad background and expect the overburdened teachers to turn him around in seven hours a day, it might or might not happen. What about the other seventeen hours in a day? People often ask us if, through our research and experience, we can now predict which children are likely to become dangerous in later life. Roy Hazelwood’s answer is, “Sure. But so can any good elementary school teacher.” And if we can get them treatment early enough and intensively enough, it might make a difference. A significant role-model adult during the formative years can make a world of difference. Bill Tafoya, the special agent who served as our “futurist” at Quantico, advocated a minimum of a ten-year commitment of money and resources on the magnitude of what we sent into the Persian Gulf. He calls for a wide-scale reinstatement of Project Head Start, one of the most effective long-term, anticrime programs in history. He doesn’t think more police are the answer, but he would bring in “an army of social workers” to provide assistance for battered women, homeless families with children, to find good foster homes. And he would back it all up with tax incentive programs. I’m not sure this is the total answer, but it would certainly be an important start. Because the sad fact is, the shrinks can battle all they want, and my people and I can use psychology and behavioral science to help catch the criminals, but by the time we get to use our stuff, the severe damage has already been done.
John E. Douglas (Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit (Mindhunter #1))
I wanted peace and quiet, tranquillity, but was too much aboil inside. Somewhere beneath the load of the emotion-freezing ice which my life had conditioned my brain to produce, a spot of black anger glowed and threw off a hot red light of such intensity that had Lord Kelvin known of its existence, he would have had to revise his measurements. A remote explosion had occurred somewhere, perhaps back at Emerson's or that night in Bledsoe's office, and it had caused the ice cap to melt and shift the slightest bit. But that bit, that fraction, was irrevocable. Coming to New York had perhaps been an unconscious attempt to keep the old freezing unit going, but it hadn't worked; hot water had gotten into its coils. Only a drop, perhaps, but that drop was the first wave of the deluge. One moment I believed, I was dedicated, willing to lie on the blazing coals, do anything to attain a position on the campus -- then snap! It was done with, finished, through. Now there was only the problem of forgetting it. If only all the contradictory voices shouting inside my head would calm down and sing a song in unison, whatever it was I wouldn't care as long as they sang without dissonance; yes, and avoided the uncertain extremes of the scale. But there was no relief. I was wild with resentment but too much under "self-control," that frozen virtue, that freezing vice. And the more resentful I became, the more my old urge to make speeches returned. While walking along the streets words would spill from my lips in a mumble over which I had little control. I became afraid of what I might do. All things were indeed awash in my mind. I longed for home.
Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man)
I talked about places, about the ways that we often talk about love of place, by which we mean our love for places, but seldom of how the places love us back, of what they give us. They give us community, something to return to, and offer a familiarity that allows some portion of our own lives to remain connected and coherent. The give us an expansive scale in which our troubles are set into context, in which the largeness of the world is a balm to loss, trouble, and ugliness. And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren't so deeply entrenched and we can imagine other stories, other selves, or just drink up quiet and respite.
Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)
You may not realize this, brother, but Izzy is loyal to me. So don’t make me unleash her on you.” “And now you’re making fun of me,” Izzy complained. “No. It’s a serious threat,” Celyn admitted. “Used by many in the family. Especially Briec. He loves threatening those who annoy him—” “Which is everyone,” Brannie stated while grabbing the last loaf of bread and tearing it into three pieces. “—with his beautiful eldest daughter who will rip the scales from your back and tear the still-beating heart from your chest before spitting on your corpse.” Izzy put her hand to her chest, her voice trembling as she fought tears. “That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.
G.A. Aiken (How to Drive a Dragon Crazy (Dragon Kin, #6))
In a room the size of a ballroom the Pattern was laid. The floor was black and looked smooth as glass. And on the floor was the Pattern. It shimmered like the cold fire that it was, quivered, made the whole room seem somehow unsubstantial. It was an elaborate tracery of bright power, composed mainly of curves, though there were a few straight lines near its middle. It reminded me of a fantastically intricate, life-scale version of one of those maze things you do with a pencil (or ballpoint, as the case may be), to get you into or out of something. Like, I could almost see the words “Start Here,” somewhere way to the back. It was perhaps a hundred yards across at its narrow middle, and maybe a hundred and fifty long. It made bells ring within my head, and then came the throbbing. My mind recoiled from the touch of it. But if I were a prince of Amber, then somewhere within my blood, my nervous system, my genes, this pattern was recorded somehow, so that I would respond properly, so that I could walk the bloody thing.
Roger Zelazny (Nine Princes in Amber (The Chronicles of Amber #1))
Smiling, Simon stared into the depths of his brandy. “What a difficult evening you’ve had,” he heard Westcliff remark sardonically. “First you were compelled to carry Miss Peyton’s nubile young body all the way to her bedroom …then you had to examine her injured leg. How terribly inconvenient for you.” Simon’s smile faded. “I didn’t say that I had examined her leg.” The earl regarded him shrewdly. “You didn’t have to. I know you too well to presume that you would overlook such an opportunity.” “I’ll admit that I looked at her ankle. And I also cut her corset strings when it became apparent that she couldn’t breathe.” Simon’s gaze dared the earl to object. “Helpful lad,” Westcliff murmured. Simon scowled. “Difficult as it may be for you to believe, I receive no lascivious pleasure from the sight of a woman in pain.” Leaning back in his chair, Westcliff regarded him with a cool speculation that raised Simon’s hackles. “I hope you’re not fool enough to fall in love with such a creature. You know my opinion of Miss Peyton—” “Yes, you’ve aired it repeatedly.” “And furthermore,” the earl continued, “I would hate to see one of the few men of good sense I know to turn into one of those prattling fools who run about pollenating the atmosphere with maudlin sentiment—” “I’m not in love.” “You’re in something,” Westcliff insisted. “In all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you look so mawkish as you did outside her bedroom door.” “I was displaying simple compassion for a fellow human being.” The earl snorted. “Whose drawers you’re itching to get into.” The blunt accuracy of the observation caused Simon to smile reluctantly. “It was an itch two years ago,” he admitted. “Now it’s a full-scale pandemic.
Lisa Kleypas (Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, #1))
The war was a factory that cranked out casualties with all the frightful efficiency of the modern assembly line. That had become its real purpose, she knew, regardless of all the patriotic blather about duty, honor, and country or putting paid to the depradations of the Hun. Those were excuses, delusions, lies. Men had begun the war, but it had long since escaped them, acquiring its own implacable momentum. And as long as fresh recruits kept coming, as long as hospitals like this one patched up the wounded and sent them back, it seemed likely to go on producing its horrors. The very scale of the slaughter ensured its continuance, for to stop in the face of such appalling losses would be to acknowledge that the dead had perished in vain. The war was its own thing now, a machine for grinding up people's lives. Or no, she thought, not a machine at all: it was alive, a bloated creature as red and raw as a shell wound, a battlefield birth of splintered bone, hot shrapnel, and glutinous mud, suckled on blood, with a hunger that increased the more it was fed.
Paul Witcover (Dracula : Asylum (Dracula (Dh Press)))
What I have noticed, and what I feel compelled to mention, is that the experiential scale of parenting—anxiety versus joy—is tied to the “scale of involvement” between the spouses. In my experience, it is more commonly the case that the mother is overinvolved. What I have seen, though, is that when the father steps up, many mothers are able to take a welcome step back. These adjustments take time, as habits of work and responsibilities are ingrained, but the results are usually well worth the effort. A better balance of involvement benefits the partnership. It also simplifies parental involvement in the children’s lives, reducing anxiety as the duties and concerns of parenting are spread on a wider, stronger base.
Lisa M. Ross (Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids)
Cixi’s lack of formal education was more than made up for by her intuitive intelligence, which she liked to use from her earliest years. In 1843, when she was seven, the empire had just finished its first war with the West, the Opium War, which had been started by Britain in reaction to Beijing clamping down on the illegal opium trade conducted by British merchants. China was defeated and had to pay a hefty indemnity. Desperate for funds, Emperor Daoguang (father of Cixi’s future husband) held back the traditional presents for his sons’ brides – gold necklaces with corals and pearls – and vetoed elaborate banquets for their weddings. New Year and birthday celebrations were scaled down, even cancelled, and minor royal concubines had to subsidise their reduced allowances by selling their embroidery on the market through eunuchs. The emperor himself even went on surprise raids of his concubines’ wardrobes, to check whether they were hiding extravagant clothes against his orders. As part of a determined drive to stamp out theft by officials, an investigation was conducted of the state coffer, which revealed that more “than nine million taels of silver had gone missing. Furious, the emperor ordered all the senior keepers and inspectors of the silver reserve for the previous forty-four years to pay fines to make up the loss – whether or not they were guilty. Cixi’s great-grandfather had served as one of the keepers and his share of the fine amounted to 43,200 taels – a colossal sum, next to which his official salary had been a pittance. As he had died a long time ago, his son, Cixi’s grandfather, was obliged to pay half the sum, even though he worked in the Ministry of Punishments and had nothing to do with the state coffer. After three years of futile struggle to raise money, he only managed to hand over 1,800 taels, and an edict signed by the emperor confined him to prison, only to be released if and when his son, Cixi’s father, delivered the balance. The life of the family was turned upside down. Cixi, then eleven years old, had to take in sewing jobs to earn extra money – which she would remember all her life and would later talk about to her ladies-in-waiting in the court. “As she was the eldest of two daughters and three sons, her father discussed the matter with her, and she rose to the occasion. Her ideas were carefully considered and practical: what possessions to sell, what valuables to pawn, whom to turn to for loans and how to approach them. Finally, the family raised 60 per cent of the sum, enough to get her grandfather out of prison. The young Cixi’s contribution to solving the crisis became a family legend, and her father paid her the ultimate compliment: ‘This daughter of mine is really more like a son!’ Treated like a son, Cixi was able to talk to her father about things that were normally closed areas for women. Inevitably their conversations touched on official business and state affairs, which helped form Cixi’s lifelong interest. Being consulted and having her views acted on, she acquired self-confidence and never accepted the com“common assumption that women’s brains were inferior to men’s. The crisis also helped shape her future method of rule. Having tasted the bitterness of arbitrary punishment, she would make an effort to be fair to her officials.
Jung Chang (Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China)
The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers now is not “over-policing,” and certainly not brutal policing. The NYPD has one of the lowest rates of officer shootings and killings in the country; it is recognized internationally for its professionalism and training standards. Deaths such as Eric Garner’s are an aberration, which the department does everything it can to avoid. The biggest threat facing minority New Yorkers today is de-policing. After years of ungrounded criticism from the press and activists, after highly publicized litigation and the passage of ill-considered laws—such as the one making officers financially liable for alleged “racial profiling”—NYPD officers have radically scaled back their discretionary activity. Pedestrian stops have dropped 80 percent citywide and almost 100 percent in some areas. The department is grappling with how to induce officers to use their lawful authority again to stop crime before it happens. Garner’s death was a heartbreaking tragedy, but the unjustified backlash against misdemeanor enforcement is likely to result in more tragedy for New Yorkers.
Heather Mac Donald (The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe)
Okay . . . let’s see. I don’t think we should take away a citizen’s right to own a gun. But I do think it should be one hell of a difficult process to get your hands on one. I think women should decide what to do with their own bodies, as long as it’s within the first trimester or it’s a medical emergency. I think government programs are absolutely necessary but I also think a more systematic process needs to be put in place that would encourage people to get off of welfare, rather than to stay on it. I think we should open up our borders to immigrants, as long as they register and pay taxes. I’m certain that life-saving medical care should be a basic human right, not a luxury only the wealthy can afford. I think college tuition should automatically be deferred and then repaid over a twenty-year period on a sliding scale. I think athletes are paid way too much, teachers are paid way too little, NASA is underfunded, weed should be legal, people should love who they want to love, and Wi-Fi should be universally accessible and free.” When he’s finished, he calmly reaches for his mug of hot chocolate and brings it back to his mouth. “Do you still love me?
Colleen Hoover (All Your Perfects)
We shall once again have to find a new scale of values for our people: the scale of the macrocosm and the microcosm, the starry sky above us and the world in us, the world that we see in the microscope. The essence of these megalomaniacs, these Christians who talk of men ruling this world, must stop and be put back in its proper proportion. Man is nothing special at all. He is an insignificant part of this earth. If a big thunderstorm comes, he can do nothing about it. He cannot even predict it. He has no idea how a fly is constructed - however unpleasant, it is a miracle - or how a blossom is constructed. He must once again look with deep reverence into this world. Then he will acquire the right sense of proportion about what is above us, about how we are woven into this cycle.
Heinrich Himmler
Junghuhn saw an immense field entirely covered with skeletons, and took it to be a battlefield. However they were nothing but skeletons of large turtles, five feet long, three feet broad, and of equal height. These turtles come this way from the sea, in order to lay their eggs, and are then seized by wild dogs (canis rutilans); with their united strength, these dogs lay them on their backs, tear open their lower armour, the small scales of the belly, and devour them alive. But then a tiger often pounces on the dogs. Now all this misery is repeated thousands and thousands of times, year in, year out. For this then, are these turtles born. For what offence must they suffer this agony? What is the point of the whole scene of horror? The only answer is that the will-to-live [the world-will] thus objectifies itself.
Arthur Schopenhauer
ECONOMIC RULES OF THE DYSFUNCTIONAL MEDICAL MARKET More treatment is always better. Default to the most expensive option. A lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure. Amenities and marketing matter more than good care. As technologies age, prices can rise rather than fall. There is no free choice. Patients are stuck. And they’re stuck buying American. More competitors vying for business doesn’t mean better prices; it can drive prices up, not down. Economies of scale don’t translate to lower prices. With their market power, big providers can simply demand more. There is no such thing as a fixed price for a procedure or test. And the uninsured pay the highest prices of all. There are no standards for billing. There’s money to be made in billing for anything and everything. Prices will rise to whatever the market will bear.
Elisabeth Rosenthal (An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back)
A man fishes for two reasons: he’s either sport fishing or fishing to eat, which means he’s either going to try to catch the biggest fish he can, take a picture of it, admire it with his buddies and toss it back to sea, or he’s going to take that fish on home, scale it, fillet it, toss it in some cornmeal, fry it up, and put it on his plate. This, I think, is a great analogy for how men seek out women. See, men are, by nature, hunters, and women have been put in the position of being the prey. Think about it: it used to be that a man “picked” a wife, a man “asked” a woman to dinner, a man had to get “permission” from a woman’s father to have her hand in marriage, and even, in some cases, to date her. We pursued—in fact, we’ve been taught all our lives that it was not only a good thing to chase women, but natural. Women have bought into this for years, too; how many times have you or one of your girls said, “I like it when a man pursues me,” or “I need him to romance me and give me flowers and make me feel like I’m wanted”? Flowers, jewelry, phone calls, dates, sweet talk—these are all the weapons in our hunting arsenal when we’re coming for you. But the question always remains: once we hook you, what will we do with you? Taking a cue from my love
Steve Harvey (Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Expanded Edition: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment)
. . .biographers tend to regard as character those elements of personality that remain constant, or nearly so, throughout. . .Like practitioners of fractal geometry, biographers seek patterns that persist as one moves from micro- to macro-levels of analysis, and back again. . . . It follows from this that the scale across which we seek similarity need not be chronological. Consider the following incidents in the life of Stalin between 1929 and 1940, arranged not by dates but in terms of ascending horror. Start with the parrot he kept in a cage in his Kremlin apartment. The dictator had the habit of pacing up and down for long periods of time, smoking his pipe, brooding, and occasionally spitting on the floor. One day the parrot tried to mimic Stalin's spitting. He immediately reached into the cage with his pipe and crushed the parrot's head. A very micro-level event, you might well say, so what? But then you learn that Stalin, while on vacation in the Crimea, was once kept awake by a barking dog. It turned out to be a seeing-eye dog that belonged to a blind peasant. The dog wound up being shot, and the peasant wound up in the Gulag. And then you learn that Stalin drove his independently minded second wife, who tried to talk back to him, into committing suicide. And that he arranged for Trotsky, who also talked back, to be assassinated halfway around the world. And that he arranged as well the deaths of as many of Trotsky's associates that he could reach, as well as the deaths of hundred of thousands of other people who never had anything to do with Trotsky. And that when his own people began to talk back by resisting the collectivization of agriculture, he allowed some fourteen million of them to die from the resulting starvation, exile, or imprisonment. Again, there's self-similarity across scale, except that the scale this time is a body count. It's a fractal geometry of terror. Stalin's character extended across time and space, to be sure, but what's most striking about it is its extension across scale: the fact that his behavior seemed much the same in large matters, small matters, and most of those that lay in between.
John Lewis Gaddis (The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past)
And looking down on them, the other Londoners, those monsters who live in the air, the city's uncounted population of stone men and women and beasts, and things that are neither human nor beasts, fanged rabbits and flying hares, four-legged birds and pinioned snakes, imps with bulging eyes and duck's bills, men who are wreathed in leaves or have the heads of goats or rams; creatures with knotted coils and leather wings, with hairy ears and cloven feet, horned and roaring, feathered and scaled, some laughing, some singing, some pulling back their lips to show their teeth; lions and friars, donkeys and geese, devils with children crammed into their maws, all chewed up except for their helpless paddling feet; limestone or leaden, metalled or marbled, shrieking and sniggering above the populace, hooting and gurning and dry-heaving from buttresses, walls and roofs.
Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1))
It was astonishing how loudly one laughed at tales of gruesome things, of war’s brutality-I with the rest of them. I think at the bottom of it was a sense of the ironical contrast between the normal ways of civilian life and this hark-back to the caveman code. It made all our old philosophy of life monstrously ridiculous. It played the “hat trick” with the gentility of modern manners. Men who had been brought up to Christian virtues, who had prattled their little prayers at mothers’ knees, who had grown up to a love of poetry, painting, music, the gentle arts, over-sensitized to the subtleties of half-tones, delicate scales of emotion, fastidious in their choice of words, in their sense of beauty, found themselves compelled to live and act like ape-men; and it was abominably funny. They laughed at the most frightful episodes, which revealed this contrast between civilized ethics and the old beast law. The more revolting it was the more, sometimes, they shouted with laughter, especially in reminiscence, when the tale was told in the gilded salon of a French chateau, or at a mess-table. It was, I think, the laughter of mortals at the trick which had been played on them by an ironical fate. They had been taught to believe that the whole object of life was to reach out to beauty and love, and that mankind, in its progress to perfection, had killed the beast instinct, cruelty, blood-lust, the primitive, savage law of survival by tooth and claw and club and ax. All poetry, all art, all religion had preached this gospel and this promise. Now that ideal had broken like a china vase dashed to hard ground. The contrast between That and This was devastating. It was, in an enormous world-shaking way, like a highly dignified man in a silk hat, morning coat, creased trousers, spats, and patent boots suddenly slipping on a piece of orange-peel and sitting, all of a heap, with silk hat flying, in a filthy gutter. The war-time humor of the soul roared with mirth at the sight of all that dignity and elegance despoiled. So we laughed merrily, I remember, when a military chaplain (Eton, Christ Church, and Christian service) described how an English sergeant stood round the traverse of a German trench, in a night raid, and as the Germans came his way, thinking to escape, he cleft one skull after another with a steel-studded bludgeon a weapon which he had made with loving craftsmanship on the model of Blunderbore’s club in the pictures of a fairy-tale. So we laughed at the adventures of a young barrister (a brilliant fellow in the Oxford “Union”) whose pleasure it was to creep out o’ nights into No Man’s Land and lie doggo in a shell-hole close to the enemy’s barbed wire, until presently, after an hour’s waiting or two, a German soldier would crawl out to fetch in a corpse. The English barrister lay with his rifle ready. Where there had been one corpse there were two. Each night he made a notch on his rifle three notches one night to check the number of his victims. Then he came back to breakfast in his dugout with a hearty appetite.
Phillip Gibbs
on their target about now. Six on one, overwhelming force, or so they thought. Puller was a first-rate, superbly trained close-quarters fighter. But he was not Superman. This was not a movie where he could Matrix his way to victory. It would be fearful men fighting, making mistakes but certainly landing some blows. Puller tipped the scales at well over two hundred pounds. The men he would be facing tonight collectively weighed about a thousand pounds. They had twelve fists and a dozen legs to his two and two. Six against one, hand-to-hand, no matter how good you were or how inept the six were, would likely result in defeat. Puller could take out three or four rather quickly. But the remaining two or three men would probably get in a lucky shot and possibly knock him down. And then it would be over. Bats and bars would rain down on him and then a gunshot would end it all. If one had a choice—and sometimes one did—a truly superb close-quarters fighter only fought when the conditions favored him. He didn’t have much time, because they would quickly determine that he was not in the room. Then they would do one of two things: leave and come back, or set a trap and wait for him. And a trap would involve a perimeter. At least he was counting on that, because a perimeter meant that the six men would have
David Baldacci (The Forgotten (John Puller, #2))
The small scale of the groups within such networks helps them remain agile, while the many-to-many ties in the larger network ensure that even if 10 percent or 20 percent of its membership is eliminated, the network as a whole will continue to function. "How many times have we killed the number three in al-Qaeda? In a network, everyone is number three," notes [US Naval Postgraduate School professor of defense analysis Dr. John] Arquilla, dryly.
Andrew Zolli (Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back)
And looking down on them, the other Londoners, those monsters who live in the air, the city’s uncounted population of stone men and women and beasts, and things that are neither human nor beasts, fanged rabbits and flying hares, four-legged birds and pinioned snakes, imps with bulging eyes and ducks’ bills, men who are wreathed in leaves or have the heads of goats or rams; creatures with knotted coils and leather wings, with hairy ears and cloven feet, horned and roaring, feathered and scaled, some laughing, some singing, some pulling back their lips to show their teeth; lions and friars, donkeys and geese, devils with children crammed into their maws, all chewed up except for their helpless paddling feet; limestone or leaden, metaled or marbled, shrieking and sniggering above the populace, hooting and gurning and dry-heaving from buttresses, walls and roofs. That night, the king permitting,
Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall)
The future we can’t know, other than that it will originate in the past but then depart from it. Thucydides’ distinction between resemblance and reflection—between patterns surviving across time and repetitions degraded by time—aligns the asymmetry, for it suggests that the past prepares us for the future only when, however imperfectly, it transfers. Just as capabilities restrict aspirations to what circumstances will allow. To know one big thing or many little ones is, therefore, not enough: resemblances, which Thucydides insists must happen, can occur anywhere along the spectrum from hedgehogs to foxes and back again. So is he one or the other? It’s as useless to ask as it would be, of an accomplished athlete, to try to say. Thucydides’ “first-rate intelligence” accommodates opposing ideas so effortlessly that he entrusts us with hundreds in his history. He does so within time and space but also across scale: only Tolstoy rivals him, I think, in sensing significance where it seems not to be. It’s no stretch to say, then, that Thucydides coaches all who read him. For as his greatest modern interpreter (himself a sometime coach) has gently reminded us, the Greeks, despite their antiquity, “may have believed things we have either forgotten or never known; and we must keep open the possibility that in some respects, at least, they were wiser than we.” 10
John Lewis Gaddis (On Grand Strategy)
There were charming ones as well as terrible ones, that I must admit. The painter was particularly entranced by Japanese masks: warriors', actors' and courtesans' masks. Some of them were frightfully contorted, the bronze cheeks creased by a thousand wrinkles, with vermilion weeping from the corners of the eyes and long trails of green at the corners of the mouths like splenetic beards. 'These are the masks of demons,' said the Englishman, caressing the long black swept-back tresses of one of them. 'The Samurai wore them in battle, to terrify the enemy. The one which is covered in green scales, with two opal pendants between the nostrils, is the mask of a sea-demon. This one, with the tufts of white fur for eyebrows and the two horsehair brushes beside the lips, is the mask of an old man. These others, of white porcelain - a material as smooth and fine as the cheeks of a Japanese maiden, and so gentle to the touch - are the masks of courtesans. See how alike they all are, with their delicate nostrils, their round faces and their heavy slanted eyelids; they are all effigies of the same goddess. The black of their wigs is rather beautiful, isn't it? Those which bubble over with laughter even in their immobility are the masks of comic actors.' That devil of a man pronounced the names of demons, gods and goddesses; his erudition cast a spell. Then: 'Bah! I have been down there too long!' Now he took up the light edifices of gauze and painted silk which were Venetian masks. 'Here is a Cockadrill, a Captain Fracasse, a Pantaloon and a Braggadocio. Only the noses are different - and the cut of their moustaches, if you look at them closely. Doesn't the white silk mask with enormous spectacles evoke a rather comical dread? It is Doctor Curucucu, an actual marionette featured in the Tales of Hoffmann. And what about that one, with all the black horsehair and the long spatulate nose like a stork's beak tipped with a spoon? Can you imagine anything more appalling? It's a duenna's mask; amorous young women were well-guarded when they had to go about flanked by old dragons dressed up in something like that. The whole carnival of Venice is put on parade before us beneath the cape and the domino, lying in ambush behind these masks... Would you like a gondola? Where shall we go, San Marco or the Lido?
Jean Lorrain (Monsieur De Phocas)
Once there were three tribes. The Optimists, whose patron saints were Drake and Sagan, believed in a universe crawling with gentle intelligence—spiritual brethren vaster and more enlightened than we, a great galactic siblinghood into whose ranks we would someday ascend. Surely, said the Optimists, space travel implies enlightenment, for it requires the control of great destructive energies. Any race which can't rise above its own brutal instincts will wipe itself out long before it learns to bridge the interstellar gulf. Across from the Optimists sat the Pessimists, who genuflected before graven images of Saint Fermi and a host of lesser lightweights. The Pessimists envisioned a lonely universe full of dead rocks and prokaryotic slime. The odds are just too low, they insisted. Too many rogues, too much radiation, too much eccentricity in too many orbits. It is a surpassing miracle that even one Earth exists; to hope for many is to abandon reason and embrace religious mania. After all, the universe is fourteen billion years old: if the galaxy were alive with intelligence, wouldn't it be here by now? Equidistant to the other two tribes sat the Historians. They didn't have too many thoughts on the probable prevalence of intelligent, spacefaring extraterrestrials— but if there are any, they said, they're not just going to be smart. They're going to be mean. It might seem almost too obvious a conclusion. What is Human history, if not an ongoing succession of greater technologies grinding lesser ones beneath their boots? But the subject wasn't merely Human history, or the unfair advantage that tools gave to any given side; the oppressed snatch up advanced weaponry as readily as the oppressor, given half a chance. No, the real issue was how those tools got there in the first place. The real issue was what tools are for. To the Historians, tools existed for only one reason: to force the universe into unnatural shapes. They treated nature as an enemy, they were by definition a rebellion against the way things were. Technology is a stunted thing in benign environments, it never thrived in any culture gripped by belief in natural harmony. Why invent fusion reactors if your climate is comfortable, if your food is abundant? Why build fortresses if you have no enemies? Why force change upon a world which poses no threat? Human civilization had a lot of branches, not so long ago. Even into the twenty-first century, a few isolated tribes had barely developed stone tools. Some settled down with agriculture. Others weren't content until they had ended nature itself, still others until they'd built cities in space. We all rested eventually, though. Each new technology trampled lesser ones, climbed to some complacent asymptote, and stopped—until my own mother packed herself away like a larva in honeycomb, softened by machinery, robbed of incentive by her own contentment. But history never said that everyone had to stop where we did. It only suggested that those who had stopped no longer struggled for existence. There could be other, more hellish worlds where the best Human technology would crumble, where the environment was still the enemy, where the only survivors were those who fought back with sharper tools and stronger empires. The threats contained in those environments would not be simple ones. Harsh weather and natural disasters either kill you or they don't, and once conquered—or adapted to— they lose their relevance. No, the only environmental factors that continued to matter were those that fought back, that countered new strategies with newer ones, that forced their enemies to scale ever-greater heights just to stay alive. Ultimately, the only enemy that mattered was an intelligent one. And if the best toys do end up in the hands of those who've never forgotten that life itself is an act of war against intelligent opponents, what does that say about a race whose machines travel between the stars?
Peter Watts (Blindsight (Firefall, #1))
Arin nearly got his throat cut. “The god of life preserve you,” Cheat gasped. He staggered back, his knife glinting in the shadows of his small bedroom. “What the hell are you doing here? Breaking into my home like a thief in the night. Climbing through the window. You’re lucky I saw your face in time.” “There’s something I have to tell you.” “Start with why you couldn’t come by the auction house at a decent hour. I thought you had a free pass. What about the girl’s seal ring?” “Unavailable.” Cheat squinted up at Arin, tapping the flat of the short blade against his thigh. In the dim light of a streetlamp, a slow grin spread across his face. “Had a falling-out with your lady, did you? A lovers’ quarrel?” Arin felt his face go dark and tight. “Easy, lad. Just tell me: are the rumors true?” “No.” “All right.” Cheat held up his hands as if in surrender, the knife held loosely. “If you say they’re not, they’re not.” “Cheat. I broke curfew, scaled the general’s wall, and stole through a guarded city to speak with you. Don’t you think we have more important things to discuss than Valorian gossip?
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1))
When the angels of the Bible spoke to human beings, did they speak in words? I don’t think so. I think the angels said nothing, but they were heard in the purest silence of the human spirit, and were understood beyond words. On a more human scale there are many things beyond. A mother watches her child leave home. Her heart is still. Her eyes are full of tears and prayer. That is beyond. An old man with wrinkled hands is carrying his grandchild. With startled eyes the baby regards his grandfather. The old man, with the knowledge of Time’s sadness in his heart, and with love in his eyes, looks down at the child. The meeting of their eyes. That is beyond. A famous writer, feeling his life coming to an end, writes these words: ‘My soul looks back and wonders – just how I got I got over.’ A young woman, standing on a shore, looks out into an immense azure sea rimmed with the silver line of the horizon. She looks out into the obscure heart of destiny, and is overwhelmed by a feeling both dark and oddly joyful. She may be thinking something like this: ‘My soul looks forward and wonders- just how am I to get across.’ That is beyond.
Ben Okri (Birds of Heaven)
Who are you?” Luce asked, falling to her knees. “What do you want?” “Show some respect.” The angel’s throat convulsed as if he meant to bark, but his voice came out warbled and faint and old. “Earn my respect,” Luce said. “And I’ll give it to you.” He gave her half an evil smirk and dropped his head low. Then he pulled down the cloak to expose the back of his neck. Luce blinked in the dim light. His neck bore a painted brand, which shimmered gold in the glow of streetlights mingled with the moon. She counted seven points on the star. He was one of the Scale. “Recognize me now?” “Is this how the Throne’s enforcers work? Bludgeoning innocent angels?” “No Outcast is innocent. Nor is anyone else, for that matter, until they are proven to be so.” “You’ve proven yourself innocent of any honor, striking a girl from behind.” “Insolence.” He wrinkled his nose at he. “Won’t get you far with me.” “That’s exactly where I want to be.” Luce’s eyes darted to Olianna, to her pale hand and the starshot clenched in its grip. “But it’s not where you will stay,” the Scale said haltingly, as if having to force himself to commit to heir illogical banter.
Lauren Kate (Rapture (Fallen, #4))
The fears of militarization Holbrooke had expressed in his final, desperate memos, had come to pass on a scale he could have never anticipated. President Trump had concentrated ever more power in the Pentagon, granting it nearly unilateral authority in areas of policy once orchestrated across multiple agencies, including the State Department. In Iraq and Syria, the White House quietly delegated more decisions on troop deployments to the military. In Yemen and Somalia, field commanders were given authority to launch raids without White House approval. In Afghanistan, Trump granted the secretary of defense, General James Mattis, sweeping authority to set troop levels. In public statements, the White House downplayed the move, saying the Pentagon still had to adhere to the broad strokes of policies set by the White House. But in practice, the fate of thousands of troops in a diplomatic tinderbox of a conflict had, for the first time in recent history, been placed solely in military hands. Diplomats were no longer losing the argument on Afghanistan: they weren’t in it. In early 2018, the military began publicly rolling out a new surge: in the following months, up to a thousand new troops would join the fourteen thousand already in place. Back home, the White House itself was crowded with military voices. A few months into the Trump administration, at least ten of twenty-five senior leadership positions on the president’s National Security Council were held by current or retired military officials. As the churn of firings and hirings continued, that number grew to include the White House chief of staff, a position given to former general John Kelly. At the same time, the White House ended the practice of “detailing” State Department officers to the National Security Council. There would now be fewer diplomatic voices in the policy process, by design.
Ronan Farrow (War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence)
She stared at him, at his face. Simply stared as the scales fell from her eyes. "Oh, my God," she whispered, the exclamation so quiet not even he would hear. She suddenly saw-saw it all-all that she'd simply taken for granted. Men like him protected those they loved, selflessly, unswervingly, even unto death. The realization rocked her. Pieces of the jigsaw of her understanding of him fell into place. He was hanging to consciousness by a thread. She had to be sure-and his shields, his defenses were at their weakest now. Looking down at her hands, pressed over the nearly saturated pad, she hunted for the words, the right tone. Softly said, "My death, even my serious injury, would have freed you from any obligation to marry me. Society would have accepted that outcome, too." He shifted, clearly in pain. She sucked in a breath-feeling his pain as her own-then he clamped the long fingers of his right hand about her wrist, held tight. So tight she felt he was using her as an anchor to consciousness, to the world. His tone, when he spoke, was harsh. "Oh, yes-after I'd expended so much effort keeping you safe all these years, safe even from me, I was suddenly going to stand by and let you be gored by some mangy bull." He snorted, soft, low. Weakly. He drew in a slow, shallow breath, lips thin with pain, but determined, went on, "You think I'd let you get injured when finally after all these long years I at last understand that the reason you've always made me itch is because you are the only woman I actually want to marry? And you think I would stand back and let you be harmed?" A peevish frown crossed his face. "I ask you, is that likely? Is it even vaguely rational?" He went on, his words increasingly slurred, his tongue tripping over some, his voice fading. She listened, strained to catch every word as he slid into semi delirium, into rambling, disjointed sentences that she drank in, held to her heart. He gave her dreams back to her, reshaped and refined. "Not French Imperial-good, sound, English oak. You can use whatever colors you like, but no gilt-I forbid it." Eventually he ventured further than she had. "And I want at least three children-not just an heir and a spare. At least three-if you're agreeable. We'll have to have two boys, of course-my evil ugly sisters will found us to make good on that. But thereafter...as many girls as you like...as long as they look like you. Or perhaps Cordelia-she's the handsomer of the two uglies." He loved his sisters, his evil ugly sisters. Heather listened with tears in her eyes as his mind drifted and his voice gradually faded, weakened. She'd finally got her declaration, not in anything like the words she'd expected, but in a stronger, impossible-to-doubt exposition. He'd been her protector, unswerving, unflinching, always there; from a man like him, focused on a lady like her, such actions were tantamount to a declaration from the rooftops. The love she'd wanted him to admit to had been there all along, demonstrated daily right before her eyes, but she hadn't seen. Hadn't seen because she'd been focusing elsewhere, and because, conditioned as she was to resisting the same style of possessive protectiveness from her brothers, from her cousins, she hadn't appreciated his, hadn't realized that that quality had to be an expression of his feelings for her. Until now. Until now that he'd all but given his life for hers. He loved her-he'd always loved her. She saw that now, looking back down the years. He'd loved her from the time she'd fallen in love with him-the instant they'd laid eyes on each other at Michael and Caro's wedding in Hampshire four years ago. He'd held aloof, held away-held her at bay, too-believing, wrongly, that he wasn't an appropriate husband for her. In that, he'd been wrong, too. She saw it all. And as the tears overflowed and tracked down her cheeks, she knew to her soul how right he was for her. Knew, embraced, and rejoiced.
Stephanie Laurens (Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue (Cynster, #16; The Cynster Sisters Trilogy, #1))
A Puritan twist in our nature makes us think that anything good for us must be twice as good if it's hard to swallow. Learning Greek and Latin used to play the role of character builder, since they were considered to be as exhausting and unrewarding as digging a trench in the morning and filling it up in the afternoon. It was what made a man, or a woman -- or more likely a robot -- of you. Now math serves that purpose in many schools: your task is to try to follow rules that make sense, perhaps, to some higher beings; and in the end to accept your failure with humbled pride. As you limp off with your aching mind and bruised soul, you know that nothing in later life will ever be as difficult. What a perverse fate for one of our kind's greatest triumphs! Think how absurd it would be were music treated this way (for math and music are both excursions into sensuous structure): suffer through playing your scales, and when you're an adult you'll never have to listen to music again. And this is mathematics we're talking about, the language in which, Galileo said, the Book of the World is written. This is mathematics, which reaches down into our deepest intuitions and outward toward the nature of the universe -- mathematics, which explains the atoms as well as the stars in their courses, and lets us see into the ways that rivers and arteries branch. For mathematics itself is the study of connections: how things ideally must and, in fact, do sort together -- beyond, around, and within us. It doesn't just help us to balance our checkbooks; it leads us to see the balances hidden in the tumble of events, and the shapes of those quiet symmetries behind the random clatter of things. At the same time, we come to savor it, like music, wholly for itself. Applied or pure, mathematics gives whoever enjoys it a matchless self-confidence, along with a sense of partaking in truths that follow neither from persuasion nor faith but stand foursquare on their own. This is why it appeals to what we will come back to again and again: our **architectural instinct** -- as deep in us as any of our urges.
Ellen Kaplan (Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free)
There was another inspiring moment: a rough, choppy, moonlit night on the water, and the Dreadnaught's manager looked out the window suddenly to spy thousands of tiny baitfish breaking the surface, rushing frantically toward shore. He knew what that meant, as did everyone else in town with a boat, a gaff and a loaf of Wonder bread to use as bait: the stripers were running! Thousands of the highly prized, relatively expensive striped bass were, in a rare feeding frenzy, suddenly there for the taking. You had literally only to throw bread on the water, bash the tasty fish on the head with a gaff and then haul them in. They were taking them by the hundreds of pounds. Every restaurant in town was loading up on them, their parking lots, like ours, suddenly a Coleman-lit staging area for scaling, gutting and wrapping operations. The Dreadnaught lot, like every other lot in town, was suddenly filled with gore-covered cooks and dishwashers, laboring under flickering gaslamps and naked bulbs to clean, wrap and freeze the valuable white meat. We worked for hours with our knives, our hair sparkling with snowflake-like fish scales, scraping, tearing, filleting. At the end of the night's work, I took home a 35-pound monster, still twisted with rigor. My room-mates were smoking weed when I got back to our little place on the beach and, as often happens on such occasions, were hungry. We had only the bass, some butter and a lemon to work with, but we cooked that sucker up under the tiny home broiler and served it on aluminum foil, tearing at it with our fingers. It was a bright, moonlit sky now, a mean high tide was lapping at the edges of our house, and as the windows began to shake in their frames, a smell of white spindrift and salt saturated the air as we ate. It was the freshest piece of fish I'd ever eaten, and I don't know if it was due to the dramatic quality the weather was beginning to take on, but it hit me right in the brainpan, a meal that made me feel better about things, made me better for eating it, somehow even smarter, somehow . . . It was a protein rush to the cortex, a clean, three-ingredient ingredient high, eaten with the hands. Could anything be better than that?
Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly)
Enquirer," Neverfell said slowly, "do you really think I would have walked into this court if I didn’t have a way of getting out again?" "What? What way?" "I don’t know." Neverfell gave Enquirer Treble an enormous smile, as bright and mad as a sun souffé. "Do you like surprises, Enquirer? I do. Just as well, really." It is fair to say that what happened after that was a surprise to everybody in the courtroom, including Neverfell. Somewhere high above in the shadowy, stalagmite-fanged ceiling, a trapdoor flipped open, revealing a darkened hatch. From this darkness a coil of wire whispered down, unravelling and unravelling as it fell, until the bottom end brushed the dais on which Neverfell stood. Then with a singing, metallic whine, a stocky figure in a gleaming metal suit and goggled mask dropped out of the trap and slid down the wire, to land with a jolt beside Neverfell. "Seize . . ." began Treble. A metal-scaled arm was thrown round Neverfell’s middle. An armoured hand flicked two belt levers. ". . . that . . ." With a lurch, Neverfell was dragged aloft as the armoured figure whizzed back up the wire, carrying her with it, the whine of the mechanism rising to a screech. The dais dropped away, and she was staring down at a receding sea of frozen, upturned faces. ". . . girl!" finished the Enquirer in a deafening yell as both soaring figures disappeared upward through the hatch. The court vanished from Neverfell’s view as the trapdoor flapped shut.
Frances Hardinge (A Face Like Glass)
...mist lifted its curtain off the lower galleries, uncovering the hazy robed figures of monks walking where dancing girls and warriors once served a king. Shadows shifted from gray to gold. Out of sight, sunlight scaled the temple's back walls, curving up from the east. Light traced the massive bud-shaped towers. Simone had been right, this was Irene's arrival in Cambodia, her entire being narrowed to a single pinpoint of expectation as the pinnacles atop the towers sparked and burst into flame. She leaned forward,watching a city rise fro the depths of the planet. In an instant the fire was extinguished and the sun owned the sky. Angkor Wat exposed its colossal sandstone expanse, revealing itself for what it was - the largest temple in the world.
Kim Fay
Good. You’re awake.” Annwyl gulped and prayed the gods were just playing a cruel joke on her. She raised herself on her elbows when that deep, dark voice spoke again, “Careful. You don’t want to tear open those stitches.” With utter and almost heart-stopping dread, Annwyl looked over her shoulder and then couldn’t turn away. There he was. An enormous black dragon, his wings pressed tight against his body. The light emanating from the pit fire causing his shiny black scales to glisten. His huge horned head rested in the center of one of his claws. He looked so casual. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear he smirked at her, his black eyes searing her from across the gulf between them. A magnificent creature. But a creature nonetheless. A monster. “Dragons can speak, then?” Brilliant, Annwyl. But she really didn’t know what else to say. “Aye.” Scales brushed against stone and she bit the inside of her mouth to stop herself from cringing. “My name is Fearghus.” Annwyl frowned. “Fearghus?” She thought for a moment. Then dread settled over her bones, dragging her down to the pits of despair. “Fearghus . . . the Destroyer?” “That’s what they call me.” “But you haven’t been seen in years. I thought you were a myth.” Right now, she silently prayed he was a myth. “Do I look like a myth?” Annwyl stared at the enormous beast, marveling at the length and breadth of him. Black scales covered the entire length of his body, two black horns atop his mighty head. And a mane of silky black hair swept across his forehead, down his back, nearly touching the dirt floor. She cleared her throat. “No. You look real enough to my eyes.” “Good.” “I’ve heard stories about you. You smote whole villages.” “On occasion.” She turned away from that steady gaze as she wondered how the gods could be so cruel. Instead of letting her die in battle as a true warrior, they instead let her end up as dinner for a beast. “And you are Annwyl of Garbhán Isle. Annwyl of the Dark Plains. And, last I heard, Annwyl the Bloody.” Annwyl did cringe at that. She hated that particular title. “You take the heads of men and bathe in their blood.” “I do not!” She looked back at the dragon. “You take a man’s head, there’s blood. Spurting blood. But I do not bathe in anything but water.” “If you say so.
G.A. Aiken (Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1))
When President Obama asked to meet with Steve Jobs, the late Apple boss, his first question was ‘how much would it cost to make the iPhone in the United States, instead of overseas?’ Jobs was characteristically blunt, asserting that ‘those jobs are never coming back’. In point of fact, it’s been estimated that making iPhones exclusively in the US would add around $65 to the cost of each phone – not an unaffordable cost, or an unthinkable drop in margin for Apple, if it meant bringing jobs back home.  But American workers aren’t going to be making iPhones anytime soon, because of the need for speed, and scale, in getting the product on to shelves around the world. When Apple assessed the global demand for the iPhone it estimated that it would need almost 9,000 engineers overseeing the production process to meet demand. Their analysts reported that it would take nine months to recruit that many engineers in the US – in China, it took 15 days. It’s these kind of tales that cause US conservative media outlets to graphically describe Asia as ‘eating the lunch’ off the tables of patriotic, if sleep-walking, American citizens. If Apple had chosen to go to India, instead of China, the costs may have been slightly higher, but the supply of suitably qualified engineers would have been just as plentiful. While China may be the world’s biggest manufacturing plant, India is set to lead the way in the industry that poses the biggest threat to western middle-class parents seeking to put their sons or daughters through college: knowledge.
David Price (Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn In The Future)
Lutch Crawford always talked straight to the point. That’s how he got so much work done. “Fawn, about the other night, with all that moon. How do you feel now?” “I feel the same way,” she said tightly. Lutch had a little habit of catching his lower lip with his teeth and letting go when he was thinking was hard. There was a pause about long enough to do this. Then he said, “You been hearing rumors about you and me?” “Well I—” She caught her breath. “Oh, Lutch—” I heard the wicker, sharp and crisp, as she came up out of it. “Hold on!” Lutch snapped. “There’s nothing to it, Fawn. Forget it.” I heard the wicker again, slow, the front part, the back part. She didn’t say anything. “There’s some things too big for one or two people to fool with, honey,” he said gently. “This band’s one of ’em. For whatever it’s worth, it’s bigger than you and me. It’s going good and it’ll go better. It’s about as perfect as a group can get. It’s a unit. Tight. So tight that one wrong move’ll blow out all its seams. You and me, now—that’d be a wrong move.” “How do you know? What do you mean?” “Call it a hunch. Mostly, I know that things have been swell up to now, and I know that you—we—anyway, we can’t risk a change in the good old status quo.” “But—what about me?” she wailed. “Tough on you?” I’d known Lutch a long time, and this was the first time his voice didn’t come full and easy. “Fawn, there’s fourteen cats in this aggregation and they all feel the same way about you as you do about me. You have no monopoly. Things are tough all over. Think of that next time you feel spring fever coming on.” I think he bit at his lower lip again. In a soft voice like Skid’s guitar with the bass stop, he said, “I’m sorry, kid.” “Don’t call me kid!” she blazed. “You better go practice your scales,” he said thickly. The door slammed. After a bit he let me out. He went and sat by the window, looking out. “Now what did you do that for?” I wanted to know. “For the unit,” he said, still looking out the window. “You’re crazy. Don’t you want her?” What I could see of his face answered that question. I don’t think I’d realized before how much he wanted her. I don’t think I’d thought about it. He said, “I don’t want her so badly I’d commit murder for an even chance at her. You do. If anyone wants her worse than I do, I don’t want her enough. That’s the way I see it.
Theodore Sturgeon (The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume 5: The Perfect Host)
But that wasn't the chief thing that bothered me: I couldn't reconcile myself with that preoccupation with sin that, so far as I could tell, was never entirely absent from the monks' thoughts. I'd known a lot of fellows in the air corps. Of course they got drunk when they got a chance, and had a girl whenever they could and used foul language; we had one or two had hats: one fellow was arrested for passing rubber cheques and was sent to prison for six months; it wasn't altogether his fault; he'd never had any money before, and when he got more than he'd ever dreamt of having, it went to his head. I'd known had men in Paris and when I got back to Chicago I knew more, but for the most part their badness was due to heredity, which they couldn't help, or to their environment, which they didn't choose: I'm not sure that society wasn't more responsible for their crimes than they were. If I'd been God I couldn't have brought myself to condemn one of them, not even the worst, to eternal damnation. Father Esheim was broad-minded; he thought that hell was the deprivation of God's presence, but if that is such an intolerable punishment that it can justly be called hell, can one conceive that a good God can inflict it? After all, he created men, if he so created them that ti was possible for them to sin, it was because he willed it. If I trained a dog to fly at the throat of any stranger who came into by back yard, it wouldn't be fair to beat him when he did so. If an all-good and all-powerful God created the world, why did he create evil? The monks said, so that man by conquering the wickedness in him, by resisting temptation, by accepting pain and sorrow and misfortune as the trials sent by God to purify him, might at long last be made worthy to receive his grace. It seem to me like sending a fellow with a message to some place and just to make it harder for him you constructed a maze that he had to get through, then dug a moat that he had to swim and finally built a wall that he had to scale. I wasn't prepared to believe in an all-wise God who hadn't common sense. I didn't see why you shouldn't believe in a God who hadn't created the world, buyt had to make the best of the bad job he'd found, a being enormously better, wiser and greater than man, who strove with the evil he hadn't made and who might be hoped in the end to overcome it. But on the other hand I didn't see why you should.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge)
A wave formed, swelling around Ariel's body. It lifted her up higher and higher- or maybe she herself was growing: it was hard to tell. She held the trident aloft. Storm clouds raced to her from all directions like a lost school of cichlid babies flicking to their father's mouth for protection. Lightning coursed through the sky and danced between the trident's tines. Ariel sang a song of rage. Notes rose and fell discordantly, her voice screeching at times like a banshee from the far north. She sang, and the wind sang with her. It whipped her hair out of its braids and pulled tresses into tentacles that billowed around her head. She sang of the unfairness of Eric's fate and her own, of her father's torture as a polyp, even of Scuttle's mortal life, slowly but visibly slipping away. Mostly she sang about Ursula. She sang about everyone whose lives had been touched and destroyed by evil like coral being killed and bleached, like dead spots in the ocean from algae blooms, like scale rot. She sang about what she would do to anyone who threatened those she loved and protected. And then, with her final note, she made a quick thrust as if to throw the trident toward the boats in the bay, pulling it back at the last moment. A clap louder than thunder echoed across the ocean. A wave even larger than the one she rode roared up from the depths of the open sea. It smashed through and around her, leaving her hair and body white with foam. She grinned fiercely at the power of the moment. The tsunami continued on, making straight for Tirulia. But... despite her rage... underneath it all the queen was still Ariel. Her momentary urge to destroy everything came and went like a single flash of summer lightning.
Liz Braswell (Part of Your World)
eyes. She felt the changes shimmer across her scales. The hardest part was the extra horns IceWings had around their heads. She concentrated on making her ruff look like it was made of icicles and hoped that would do. She also couldn’t make her claws ridged like IceWing claws, and her tail wasn’t as whip-thin at the end as an IceWing’s would be. Maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe there’s no way I’ll get away with it. But it was still pretty dark out . . . and she really, really wanted to know what a NightWing was doing out here. Well, she thought ruefully, if he figures me out, I guess I’ll just kill him. Somehow it didn’t sound as funny as she’d hoped. She leaped into the air and flew back to the spot where she’d seen the strange dragon. For a moment she was afraid she’d lost him, before she realized that he was lying down, his black scales half-hidden in the long shadows. Confidence, she told herself. It’s all about attitude. “Hey!” she barked, landing with a thump beside him. “Who are you, and what are you doing in our territory?” The NightWing leaped up in surprise and stared at her. He was a lot younger and smaller than Morrowseer, wiry and graceful in his movements even when he was startled. The silver scales sparkling under his wings caught the morning light like trapped stars. “Great moons. Where did you come from?” he asked. He looked up at the sky with a puzzled expression. “Where do you think?” she said. “And I’m asking the questions here. What are you doing in the Ice Kingdom?” “Technically this isn’t the Ice Kingdom yet,” he said. “Or didn’t you know that?” It isn’t? she thought. The map she’d memorized didn’t exactly have borders drawn on it, not that those would have helped her out here anyway.
Tui T. Sutherland (The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire, #3))
       If this isn't a guidebook, what is it? A book of sermons, perhaps.        I preach that air travel be scaled back, as a start, to the level of twenty years ago, further reductions to be considered after all the Boeing engineers have been retrained as turkey ranchers.        The state Game Department should establish a season on helicopters — fifty-two weeks a year, twenty-four hours a day, no bag limit.        Passenger trains must be restored, as a start, to the service of forty years ago and then improved from there.        The Gypsy Bus System must not be regularized (the government would regulate it to death) but publicized cautiously through the underground.        I would discourage, if not ban, trekking to Everest base camp and flying over the Greenland Icecap. Generally, people should stay home. Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn about a little.
Harvey Manning (Walking the Beach to Bellingham)
Prince Arctic?” A silvery white dragon poked her head around the door, tapping three times lightly on the ice wall. Arctic couldn’t remember her name, which was the kind of faux pas his mother was always yelling at him about. He was a prince; it was his duty to have all the noble dragons memorized along with their ranks so he could treat them according to exactly where they fit in the hierarchy. It was stupid and frustrating and if his mother yelled at him about it one more time, he would seriously enchant something to freeze her mouth shut forever. Oooo. What a beautiful image. Queen Diamond with a chain of silver circles wound around her snout and frozen to her scales. He closed his eyes and imagined the blissful quiet. The dragon at his door shifted slightly, her claws making little scraping sounds to remind him she was there. What was she waiting for? Permission to give him a message? Or was she waiting for him to say her name — and if he didn’t, would she go scurrying back to the queen to report that he had failed again? Perhaps he should enchant a talisman to whisper in his ear whenever he needed to know something. Another tempting idea, but strictly against the rules of IceWing animus magic. Animus dragons are so rare; appreciate your gift and respect the limits the tribe has set. Never use your power frivolously. Never use it for yourself. This power is extremely dangerous. The tribe’s rules are there to protect you. Only the IceWings have figured out how to use animus magic safely. Save it all for your gifting ceremony. Use it only once in your life, to create a glorious gift to benefit the whole tribe, and then never again; that is the only way to be safe. Arctic shifted his shoulders, feeling stuck inside his scales. Rules, rules, and more rules: that was the IceWing way of life. Every direction he turned, every thought he had, was restricted by rules and limits and judgmental faces, particularly his mother’s. The rules about animus magic were just one more way to keep him trapped under her claws. “What is it?” he barked at the strange dragon. Annoyed face, try that. As if he were very busy and she’d interrupted him and that was why he was skipping the usual politic rituals. He was very busy, actually. The gifting ceremony was only three weeks away. It was bad enough that his mother had dragged him here, to their southernmost palace, near the ocean and the border with the Kingdom of Sand. She’d promised to leave him alone to work while she conducted whatever vital royal business required her presence. Everyone should know better than to disturb him right now. The messenger looked disappointed. Maybe he really was supposed to know who she was. “Your mother sent me to tell you that the NightWing delegation has arrived.” Aaarrrrgh. Not another boring diplomatic meeting.
Tui T. Sutherland (Darkstalker (Wings of Fire: Legends, #1))
Adelia began to get cross. Why was it women who were to blame for everything—everything, from the Fall of Man to these blasted hedges? “We are not in a labyrinth, my lord,” she said clearly. “Where are we, then?” “It’s a maze.” “Same difference.” Puffing at the horse: “Get back, you great cow.” “No, it isn’t. A labyrinth has only one path and you merely have to follow it. It’s a symbol of life or, rather, of life and death. Labyrinths twist and turn, but they have a beginning and an end, through darkness into light.” Softening, and hoping that he would, too, she added, “Like Ariadne’s. Rather beautiful, really.” “I don’t want mythology, mistress, beautiful or not, I want to get to that sodding tower. What’s a maze when it’s at home?” “It’s a trick. A trick to confuse. To amaze.” “And I suppose Mistress Clever-boots knows how to get us out?” “I do, actually.” God’s rib, he was sneering at her, sneering. She’d a mind to stay where she was and let him sweat. “Then in the name of Christ, do it.” “Stop bellowing at me,” she yelled at him. “You’re bellowing.” She saw his teeth grit in the pretense of a placatory smile; he always had good teeth. Still did. Between them, he said, “The Bishop of Saint Albans presents his compliments to Mistress Adelia and please to escort him out of this hag’s hole, for the love of God. How will you do it?” “My business.” Be damned if she’d tell him. Women were defenseless enough without revealing their secrets. “I’ll have to take the lead.” She stumped along in front, holding Walt’s mount’s reins in her right hand. In the other was her riding crop, which she trailed with apparent casualness so that it brushed against the hedge on her left. As she went, she chuntered to herself. Lord, how disregarded I am in this damned country. How disregarded all women are. ... Ironically, the lower down the social scale women were, the greater freedom they had; the wives of laborers and craftsmen could work alongside their men—even, sometimes, when they were widowed, take over their husband’s trade. Adelia trudged on. Hag’s hole. Grendel’s mother’s entrails. Why was this dreadful place feminine to the men lost in it? Because it was tunneled? Womb-like? Is this woman’s magic? The great womb? Is that why the Church hates me, hates all women? Because we are the source of all true power? Of life? She supposed that by leading them out of it, she was only confirming that a woman knew its secrets and they did not. Great God, she thought, it isn't a question of hatred. It’s fear. They are frightened of us. And Adelia laughed quietly, sending a suggestion of sound reverberating backward along the tunnel, as if a small pebble was skipping on water, making each man start when it passed him. “What in hell was that?” Walt called back stolidly, “Reckon someone’s laughing at us, master.” “Dear God.
Ariana Franklin (The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death, #2))
Back in the twentieth century, American girls had used baseball terminology. “First base” referred to embracing and kissing; “second base” referred to groping and fondling and deep, or “French,” kissing, commonly known as “heavy petting”; “third base” referred to fellatio, usually known in polite conversation by the ambiguous term “oral sex”; and “home plate” meant conception-mode intercourse, known familiarly as “going all the way.” In the year 2000, in the era of hooking up, “first base” meant deep kissing (“tonsil hockey”), groping, and fondling; “second base” meant oral sex; “third base” meant going all the way; and “home plate” meant learning each other’s names. Getting to home plate was relatively rare, however. The typical Filofax entry in the year 2000 by a girl who had hooked up the night before would be: “Boy with black Wu-Tang T-shirt and cargo pants: O, A, 6.” Or “Stupid cock diesel”—slang for a boy who was muscular from lifting weights—“who kept saying, ‘This is a cool deal’: TTC, 3.” The letters referred to the sexual acts performed (e.g., TTC for “that thing with the cup”), and the Arabic number indicated the degree of satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. In the year 2000, girls used “score” as an active verb indicating sexual conquest, as in: “The whole thing was like very sketchy, but I scored that diesel who said he was gonna go home and caff up [drink coffee in order to stay awake and study] for the psych test.” In the twentieth century, only boys had used “score” in that fashion, as in: “I finally scored with Susan last night.” That girls were using such a locution points up one of the ironies of the relations between the sexes in the year 2000. The continuing vogue of feminism had made sexual life easier, even insouciant, for men. Women had been persuaded that they should be just as active as men when it came to sexual advances. Men were only too happy to accede to the new order, since it absolved them of all sense of responsibility
Tom Wolfe (Hooking Up)
Daniel.” Luce gripped his shoulder. “What about the library you took me to? Remember?” She closed her eyes. She wasn’t thinking so much as feeling her way through a memory buried shallowly in her brain. “We came to Vienna for the weekend…I don’t remember when, but we went to see Mozart conduct The Magic Flute…at the Theater an der Wien? You wanted to see this friend of yours who worked at some old library, his name was-“ She broke off, because when she opened her eyes, the others were staring at her, incredulous. No one, least of all Luce, had expected her to be the one to know where they would find the desideratum. Daniel recovered first. He flashed her a funny smile Luce knew was full of pride. But Arriane, Roland, and Annabelle continued to gape at her as if they’d suddenly learned she spoke Chinese. Which, come to think of it, she did. Arriane wiggled a finger around inside her ear. “Do I need to ease up on the psychedelics, did LP just recall one of her past lives unprompted at the most crucial juncture ever?” “You’re a genius,” Daniel said, leaning forward and kissing her deeply. Luce blushed and leaned in to extend the kiss a little longer, but then heard a cough. “Seriously, you two,” Annabelle said. “There will be time enough for snogs if we pull this off.” “I’d say ‘get a room’ but I’m afraid we’d never see you again,” Arriane added, which caused them all to laugh. When Luce opened her eyes, Daniel had spread his wings wide. The tips brushed away broken bits of plaster and blocked the Scale angels from view. Slung over his shoulder was the black leather satchel with the halo. The Outcasts gathered the scattered starshots back into their silver sheaths. “Wingspeed, Daniel Grigori.” “To you as well.” Daniel nodded at Phil. He spun Luce around so her back was pressed to his chest and his arms fit snugly around her waist. They clasped hands over her heart. “The Foundation Library,” Daniel said to the other angels. “Follow me, I know exactly where it is.
Lauren Kate (Rapture (Fallen, #4))
Sadhana The body responds the moment it is in touch with the earth. That is why spiritual people in India walked barefoot and always sat on the ground in a posture that allowed for maximum area of contact with the earth. In this way, the body is given a strong experiential reminder that it is just a part of this earth. Never is the body allowed to forget its origins. When it is allowed to forget, it often starts making fanciful demands; when it is constantly reminded, it knows its place. This contact with the earth is a vital reconnection of the body with its physical source. This restores stability to the system and enhances the human capacity for rejuvenation greatly. This explains why there are so many people who claim that their lives have been magically transformed just by taking up a simple outdoor activity like gardening. Today, the many artificial ways in which we distance ourselves from the earth—in the form of pavements and multi-storied structures, or even the widespread trend of wearing high heels—involves an alienation of the part from the whole and suffocates the fundamental life process. This alienation manifests in large-scale autoimmune disorders and chronic allergic conditions. If you tend to fall sick very easily, you could just try sleeping on the floor (or with minimal organic separation between yourself and the floor). You will see it will make a big difference. Also, try sitting closer to the ground. Additionally, if you can find a tree that looks lively to you, in terms of an abundance of fresh leaves or flowers, go spend some time around it. If possible, have your breakfast or lunch under that tree. As you sit under the tree, remind yourself: “This very earth is my body. I take this body from the earth and give it back to the earth. I consciously ask Mother Earth now to sustain me, hold me, keep me well.” You will find your body’s ability to recover is greatly enhanced. Or if you have turned all your trees into furniture, collect some fresh soil and cover your feet and hands with it. Stay that way for twenty to thirty minutes. This could help your recovery significantly.
Sadhguru (Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy)
ONCE, a youth went to see a wise man, and said to him: “I have come seeking advice, for I am tormented by feelings of worthlessness and no longer wish to live. Everyone tells me that I am a failure and a fool. I beg you, Master, help me!” The wise man glanced at the youth, and answered hurriedly: “Forgive me, but I am very busy right now and cannot help you. There is one urgent matter in particular which I need to attend to...”—and here he stopped, for a moment, thinking, then added: “But if you agree to help me, I will happily return the favor.” “Of...of course, Master!” muttered the youth, noting bitterly that yet again his concerns had been dismissed as unimportant. “Good,” said the wise man, and took off a small ring with a beautiful gem from his finger. “Take my horse and go to the market square! I urgently need to sell this ring in order to pay off a debt. Try to get a decent price for it, and do not settle for anything less than one gold coin! Go right now, and come back as quick as you can!” The youth took the ring and galloped off. When he arrived at the market square, he showed it to the various traders, who at first examined it with close interest. But no sooner had they heard that it would sell only in exchange for gold than they completely lost interest. Some of the traders laughed openly at the boy; others simply turned away. Only one aged merchant was decent enough to explain to him that a gold coin was too high a price to pay for such a ring, and that he was more likely to be offered only copper, or at best, possibly silver. When he heard these words, the youth became very upset, for he remembered the old man’s instruction not to accept anything less than gold. Having already gone through the whole market looking for a buyer among hundreds of people, he saddled the horse and set off. Feeling thoroughly depressed by his failure, he returned to see the wise man. “Master, I was unable to carry out your request,” he said. “At best I would have been able to get a couple of silver coins, but you told me not to agree to anything less than gold! But they told me that this ring is not worth that much.” “That’s a very important point, my boy!” the wise man responded. “Before trying to sell a ring, it would not be a bad idea to establish how valuable it really is! And who can do that better than a jeweler? Ride over to him and find out what his price is. Only do not sell it to him, regardless of what he offers you! Instead, come back to me straightaway.” The young man once more leapt up on to the horse and set off to see the jeweler. The latter examined the ring through a magnifying glass for a long time, then weighed it on a set of tiny scales. Finally, he turned to the youth and said: “Tell your master that right now I cannot give him more than 58 gold coins for it. But if he gives me some time, I will buy the ring for 70.” “70 gold coins?!” exclaimed the youth. He laughed, thanked the jeweler and rushed back at full speed to the wise man. When the latter heard the story from the now animated youth, he told him: “Remember, my boy, that you are like this ring. Precious, and unique! And only a real expert can appreciate your true value. So why are you wasting your time wandering through the market and heeding the opinion of any old fool?
William Mougayar (The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology)
Love has many positionings. Cordelia makes good progress. She is sitting on my lap, her arm twines, soft and warm, round my neck; she leans upon my breast, light, without gravity; the soft contours scarcely touch me; like a flower her lovely figure twines about me, freely as a ribbon. Her eyes are hidden beneath her lashes, her bosom is dazzling white like snow, so smooth that my eye cannot rest, it would glance off if her bosom were not moving. What does this movement mean? Is it love? Perhaps. It is a presentiment of it, its dream. It still lacks energy. Her embrace is comprehensive, as the cloud enfolding the transfigured one, detached as a breeze, soft as the fondling of a flower; she kisses me unspecifically, as the sky kisses the sea, gently and quietly, as the dew kisses a flower, solemnly as the sea kisses the image of the moon. I would call her passion at this moment a naive passion. When the change has been made and I begin to draw back in earnest, she will call on everything she has to captivate me. She has no other means for this purpose than the erotic itself, except that this will now appear on a quite different scale. It then becomes a weapon in her hand which she wields against me. I then have the reflected passion. She fights for her own sake because she knows I possess the erotic; she fights for her own sake so as to overcome me. She herself is in need of a higher form of the erotic. What I taught her to suspect by arousing her, my coldness now teaches her to understand but in such a way that she thinks it is she herself who discovers it. So she wants to take me by surprise; she wants to believe that she has outstripped me in audacity, and that makes me her prisoner. Her passion then becomes specific, energetic, conclusive, dialectical; her kiss total, her embrace without hesitation.—In me she seeks her freedom and finds it the better the more firmly I encompass her. The engagement bursts. When that has happened she needs a little rest, so that nothing unseemly will emerge from this wild tumult. Her passion then composes itself once more and she is mine.” —from_Either/Or: A Fragment of Life_, (as written by his pseudonym Johannes the Seducer)
Søren Kierkegaard
You’re too goddamned fat,” he said. I took a defiant drag on my cigarette and willed myself not to cry. The remark made me dizzy. For the past four years, Ma and Grandma had played by the rule: never to mention my weight. Now my jeans and sweatshirt were folded in a helpless pile beside me and there was only a thin sheet of paper between my rolls of dimply flesh and this detestable old man. My heart raced with fear and nicotine and Pepsi. My whole body shook, dripped sweat. “Any trouble with your period?” he asked. “No.” “What?” “No trouble,” I managed, louder. He nodded in the direction of his stand-up scale. The backs of my legs made little sucking sounds as they unglued themselves from the plastic upholstery. He brought the sliding metal bar down tight against my scalp and fiddled with the cylinder in front of my face. “Five-five and a half,” he said. “Two hundred . . . fifty-seven.” The tears leaking from my eyes made stains on the paper gown. I nodded or shook my head abruptly at each of his questions, coughed on command for his stethoscope, and took his pamphlets on diet, smoking, heart murmur. He signed the form. At the door, his hand on the knob, he turned back and waited until I met his eye. “Let me tell you something,” he said. “My wife died four Tuesdays ago. Cancer of the colon. We were married forty-one years. Now you stop feeling sorry for yourself and lose some of that pork of yours. Pretty girl like you—you don’t want to do this to yourself.” “Eat shit,” I said. He paused for a moment, as if considering my comment. Then he opened the door to the waiting room and announced to my mother and someone else who’d arrived that at the rate I was going, I could expect to die before I was forty years old. “She’s too fat and she smokes,” I heard him say just before the hall rang out with the sound of my slamming his office door. I was wheezing wildly by the time I reached the final landing. On the turnpike on the way home, Ma said, “I could stand to cut down, too, you know. It wouldn’t hurt me one bit. We could go on a diet together? Do they still sell that Metrecal stuff?” “I’ve been humiliated enough for one fucking decade,” I said. “You say one more thing to me and I’ll jump out of this car and smash my head under someone’s wheels.
Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone)
. . . such a rush immediately ensued that she with laughing face and plundered dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter! Then scaling him, with chairs for ladders, to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round the neck, pommel his back and kick his legs in irrepressible affection! The shouts of wonder and delight with wich the development of every package was received! The terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter! The immense relief of finding this false alarm! The joy, and gratitude, and ecstasy! They are indescribable alike. It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlor, and by one stair at a time up to the top of the house; where they went to bed, and so subsided.
Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol and The Night Before Christmas)
I brushed my teeth like a crazed lunatic as I examined myself in the mirror. Why couldn’t I look the women in commercials who wake up in a bed with ironed sheets and a dewy complexion with their hair perfectly tousled? I wasn’t fit for human eyes, let alone the piercing eyes of the sexy, magnetic Marlboro Man, who by now was walking up the stairs to my bedroom. I could hear the clomping of his boots. The boots were in my bedroom by now, and so was the gravelly voice attached to them. “Hey,” I heard him say. I patted an ice-cold washcloth on my face and said ten Hail Marys, incredulous that I would yet again find myself trapped in the prison of a bathroom with Marlboro Man, my cowboy love, on the other side of the door. What in the world was he doing there? Didn’t he have some cows to wrangle? Some fence to fix? It was broad daylight; didn’t he have a ranch to run? I needed to speak to him about his work ethic. “Oh, hello,” I responded through the door, ransacking the hamper in my bathroom for something, anything better than the sacrilege that adorned my body. Didn’t I have any respect for myself? I heard Marlboro Man laugh quietly. “What’re you doing in there?” I found my favorite pair of faded, soft jeans. “Hiding,” I replied, stepping into them and buttoning the waist. “Well, c’mere,” he said softly. My jeans were damp from sitting in the hamper next to a wet washcloth for two days, and the best top I could find was a cardinal and gold FIGHT ON! T-shirt from my ‘SC days. It wasn’t dingy, and it didn’t smell. That was the best I could do at the time. Oh, how far I’d fallen from the black heels and glitz of Los Angeles. Accepting defeat, I shrugged and swung open the door. He was standing there, smiling. His impish grin jumped out and grabbed me, as it always did. “Well, good morning!” he said, wrapping his arms around my waist. His lips settled on my neck. I was glad I’d spritzed myself with Giorgio. “Good morning,” I whispered back, a slight edge to my voice. Equal parts embarrassed at my puffy eyes and at the fact that I’d slept so late that day, I kept hugging him tightly, hoping against hope he’d never let go and never back up enough to get a good, long look at me. Maybe if we just stood there for fifty years or so, wrinkles would eventually shield my puffiness. “So,” Marlboro Man said. “What have you been doing all day?” I hesitated for a moment, then launched into a full-scale monologue. “Well, of course I had my usual twenty-mile run, then I went on a hike and then I read The Iliad. Twice. You don’t even want to know the rest. It’ll make you tired just hearing about it.” “Uh-huh,” he said, his blue-green eyes fixed on mine. I melted in his arms once again. It happened any time, every time, he held me. He kissed me, despite my gold FIGHT ON! T-shirt. My eyes were closed, and I was in a black hole, a vortex of romance, existing in something other than a human body. I floated on vapors. Marlboro Man whispered in my ear, “So…,” and his grip around my waist tightened. And then, in an instant, I plunged back to earth, back to my bedroom, and landed with a loud thud on the floor. “R-R-R-R-Ree?” A thundering voice entered the room. It was my brother Mike. And he was barreling toward Marlboro Man and me, his arms outstretched. “Hey!” Mike yelled. “W-w-w-what are you guys doin’?” And before either of us knew it, Mike’s arms were around us both, holding us in a great big bear hug. “Well, hi, Mike,” Marlboro Man said, clearly trying to reconcile the fact that my adult brother had his arms around him. It wasn’t awkward for me; it was just annoying. Mike had interrupted our moment. He was always doing that.
Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels)
You don’t need to pity them. Really, let me tell you: don’t. The reality of the universe is not something to envy.” “Why?” Yifan lifted a hand and pointed at the stars of the galaxy. Then he let the 3G force pull his arm back to this chest. “Darkness. Only darkness.” “You mean the dark forest state?” Guan Yifan shook his head, a gesture that appeared to be a struggle in hypergravity. “For us, the dark forest state is all-important, but it’s just a detail of the cosmos. If you think of the cosmos as a great battlefield, dark forest strikes are nothing more than snipers shooting at the careless—messengers, mess men, etc. In the grand scheme of the battle, they are nothing. You have not seen what a true interstellar war is like.” “Have you?” “We’ve caught a few glimpses. But most things we know are just guesses.… Do you really want to know? The more you possess of this kind of knowledge, the less light remains in your heart.” “My heart is already completely dark. I want to know.” And so, more than six centuries after Luo Ji had fallen through ice into that lake, another dark veil hiding the truth about the universe was lifted before the gaze of one of the only survivors of Earth civilization. Yifan asked, “Why don’t you tell me what the most powerful weapon for a civilization possessing almost infinite technological prowess is? Don’t think of this as a technical question. Think philosophy.” Cheng Xin pondered for a while and then struggled to shake her head. “I don’t know.” “Your experiences should give you a hint.” What had she experienced? She had seen how a cruel attacker could lower the dimensions of space by one and destroy a solar system. What are dimensions? “The universal laws of physics,” Cheng Xin said. “That’s right. The universal laws of physics are the most terrifying weapons, and also the most effective defenses. Whether it’s by the Milky Way or the Andromeda Galaxy, at the scale of the local galactic group or the Virgo Supercluster, those warring civilizations possessing godlike technology will not hesitate to use the universal laws of physics as weapons. There are many laws that can be manipulated into weapons, but most commonly, the focus is on spatial dimensions and the speed of light. Typically, lowering spatial dimensions is a technique for attack, and lowering the speed of light is a technique for defense. Thus, the dimensional strike on the Solar System was an advanced attack method. A dimensional strike is a sign of respect. In this universe, respect is not easy to earn. I guess you could consider it an honor for Earth civilization.
Liu Cixin (Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3))
From his corner office on the ground floor of the St. Cyril station house, Inspector Dick has a fine view of the parking lot. Six Dumpsters plated and hooped like iron maidens against bears. Beyond the Dumpsters a subalpine meadow, and then the snow¬ capped ghetto wall that keeps the Jews at bay. Dick is slouched against the back of his two-thirds-scale desk chair, arms crossed, chin sunk to his chest, star¬ing out the casement window. Not at the mountains or the meadow, grayish green in the late light, tufted with wisps of fog, or even at the armored Dumpsters. His gaze travels no farther than the parking lot—no farther than his 1961 Royal Enfield Crusader. Lands¬man recognizes the expression on Dick's face. It's the expression that goes with the feeling Landsman gets when he looks at his Chevelle Super Sport, or at the face of Bina Gelbfish. The face of a man who feels he was born into the wrong world. A mistake has been made; he is not where he belongs. Every so often he feels his heart catch, like a kite on a telephone wire, on something that seems to promise him a home in the world or a means of getting there. An American car manufactured in his far-off boyhood, say, or a motor¬cycle that once belonged to the future king of England, or the face of a woman worthier than himself of being loved.
Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policemen's Union)
Jack took two steps towards the couch and then heard his daughter’s distressed wails, wincing. “Oh, right. The munchkin.” He instead turned and headed for the stairs, yawning and scratching his messy brown hair, calling out, “Hang on, chubby monkey, Daddy’s coming.” Jack reached the top of the stairs. And stopped dead. There was a dragon standing in the darkened hallway. At first, Jack swore he was still asleep. He had to be. He couldn’t possibly be seeing correctly. And yet the icy fear slipping down his spine said differently. The dragon stood at roughly five feet tall once its head rose upon sighting Jack at the other end of the hallway. It was lean and had dirty brown scales with an off-white belly. Its black, hooked claws kneaded the carpet as its yellow eyes stared out at Jack, its pupils dilating to drink him in from head to toe. Its wings rustled along its back on either side of the sharp spines protruding down its body to the thin, whip-like tail. A single horn glinted sharp and deadly under the small, motion-activated hallway light. The only thing more noticeable than that were the many long, jagged scars scored across the creature’s stomach, limbs, and neck. It had been hunted recently. Judging from the depth and extent of the scars, it had certainly killed a hunter or two to have survived with so many marks. “Okay,” Jack whispered hoarsely. “Five bucks says you’re not the Easter Bunny.” The dragon’s nostrils flared. It adjusted its body, feet apart, lips sliding away from sharp, gleaming white teeth in a warning hiss. Mercifully, Naila had quieted and no longer drew the creature’s attention. Jack swallowed hard and held out one hand, bending slightly so his six-foot-two-inch frame was less threatening. “Look at me, buddy. Just keep looking at me. It’s alright. I’m not going to hurt you. Why don’t you just come this way, huh?” He took a single step down and the creature crept forward towards him, hissing louder. “That’s right. This way. Come on.” Jack eased backwards one stair at a time. The dragon let out a warning bark and followed him, its saliva leaving damp patches on the cream-colored carpet. Along the way, Jack had slipped his phone out of his pocket and dialed 9-1-1, hoping he had just enough seconds left in the reptile’s waning patience. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” “Listen to me carefully,” Jack said, not letting his eyes stray from the dragon as he fumbled behind him for the handle to the sliding glass door. He then quickly gave her his address before continuing. “There is an Appalachian forest dragon in my house. Get someone over here as fast as you can.” “We’re contacting a retrieval team now, sir. Please stay calm and try not to make any loud noises or sudden movements–“ Jack had one barefoot on the cool stone of his patio when his daughter Naila cried for him again. The dragon’s head turned towards the direction of upstairs. Jack dropped his cell phone, grabbed a patio chair, and slammed it down on top of the dragon’s head as hard as he could.
Kyoko M. (Of Fury and Fangs (Of Cinder and Bone #4))
Although Israel is targeted by terrorists much more frequently than the United States, Israelis do not live in fear of terrorism. A 2012 survey of Israeli Jews found that only 16 percent described terrorism as their greatest fear81—no more than the number who said they were worried about Israel’s education system. No Israeli politician would say outright that he tolerates small-scale terrorism, but that’s essentially what the country does. It tolerates it because the alternative—having everyone be paralyzed by fear—is incapacitating and in line with the terrorists’ goals. A key element in the country’s strategy is making life as normal as possible for people after an attack occurs. For instance, police typically try to clear the scene of an attack within four hours of a bomb going off,82 letting everyone get back to work, errands, or even leisure. Small-scale terrorism is treated more like crime than an existential threat. What Israel certainly does not tolerate is the potential for large-scale terrorism (as might be made more likely, for instance, by one of their neighbors acquiring weapons of mass destruction). There is some evidence that their approach is successful: Israel is the one country that has been able to bend Clauset’s curve. If we plot the fatality tolls from terrorist incidents in Israel using the power-law method (figure 13-8), we find that there have been significantly fewer large-scale terror attacks than the power-law would predict; no incident since 1979 has killed more than two hundred people. The fact that Israel’s power-law graph looks so distinct is evidence that our strategic choices do make some difference.
Nate Silver (The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't)
Toward an Organic Philosophy SPRING, COAST RANGE The glow of my campfire is dark red and flameless, The circle of white ash widens around it. I get up and walk off in the moonlight and each time I look back the red is deeper and the light smaller. Scorpio rises late with Mars caught in his claw; The moon has come before them, the light Like a choir of children in the young laurel trees. It is April; the shad, the hot headed fish, Climbs the rivers; there is trillium in the damp canyons; The foetid adder’s tongue lolls by the waterfall. There was a farm at this campsite once, it is almost gone now. There were sheep here after the farm, and fire Long ago burned the redwoods out of the gulch, The Douglas fir off the ridge; today the soil Is stony and incoherent, the small stones lie flat And plate the surface like scales. Twenty years ago the spreading gully Toppled the big oak over onto the house. Now there is nothing left but the foundations Hidden in poison oak, and above on the ridge, Six lonely, ominous fenceposts; The redwood beams of the barn make a footbridge Over the deep waterless creek bed; The hills are covered with wild oats Dry and white by midsummer. I walk in the random survivals of the orchard. In a patch of moonlight a mole Shakes his tunnel like an angry vein; Orion walks waist deep in the fog coming in from the ocean; Leo crouches under the zenith. There are tiny hard fruits already on the plum trees. The purity of the apple blossoms is incredible. As the wind dies down their fragrance Clusters around them like thick smoke. All the day they roared with bees, in the moonlight They are silent and immaculate. SPRING, SIERRA NEVADA Once more golden Scorpio glows over the col Above Deadman Canyon, orderly and brilliant, Like an inspiration in the brain of Archimedes. I have seen its light over the warm sea, Over the coconut beaches, phosphorescent and pulsing; And the living light in the water Shivering away from the swimming hand, Creeping against the lips, filling the floating hair. Here where the glaciers have been and the snow stays late, The stone is clean as light, the light steady as stone. The relationship of stone, ice and stars is systematic and enduring: Novelty emerges after centuries, a rock spalls from the cliffs, The glacier contracts and turns grayer, The stream cuts new sinuosities in the meadow, The sun moves through space and the earth with it, The stars change places. The snow has lasted longer this year, Than anyone can remember. The lowest meadow is a lake, The next two are snowfields, the pass is covered with snow, Only the steepest rocks are bare. Between the pass And the last meadow the snowfield gapes for a hundred feet, In a narrow blue chasm through which a waterfall drops, Spangled with sunset at the top, black and muscular Where it disappears again in the snow. The world is filled with hidden running water That pounds in the ears like ether; The granite needles rise from the snow, pale as steel; Above the copper mine the cliff is blood red, The white snow breaks at the edge of it; The sky comes close to my eyes like the blue eyes Of someone kissed in sleep. I descend to camp, To the young, sticky, wrinkled aspen leaves, To the first violets and wild cyclamen, And cook supper in the blue twilight. All night deer pass over the snow on sharp hooves, In the darkness their cold muzzles find the new grass At the edge of the snow.
Kenneth Rexroth (The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth)