The movie Juno, Dwell magazine, Anne Lamott’s Joe Jones, Carl Hiaasen’s Downhill Lie, the first episode of Year 4 of The Last Detective, Anne Fadiman’s essay on ice cream, all wonderful.


“A guy I hadn’t met opened up the rear of the DEA van and came out with a beagle on a leash. It was a little fat low-slung thing wearing a working-dog harness. It had long ears and an eager expression. I like dogs. Sometimes I think about getting one. It could keep me company. This one ignored me completely.”

— Jack Reacher speaking in Persuader (2003) by Lee Child

On Progress

“If we were to look to the past as these people want, we should gradually revert to living off acorns.”

— Giovanni Della Casa in Galateo or The Book of Manners (1555), English translation by R.S Pine-Coffin (1958 edition)

Recipe for Success

“Be polite, prepare yourself for whatever you are asked to do, keep yourself tidy, be cheerful, don’t be envious, be honest with yourself so you will be honest with others, be helpful, interest yourself in your job, don’t pity yourself, be quick to praise, be loyal to your friends, avoid prejudices, be independent, interest yourself in politics, and read the newspapers.”

— Bernard M. Baruch


“Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal. There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!”

— President George W. Bush, April 6, 2004, speaking in the White House, quoted by General Richardo Sanchez in Wiser in Battle

“People were eager to let us know how much they cared about America, how they wanted people here to know there is no hostility, and how the presidents of Iran and the USA are equally crazy and need each other.”

— The Rev. John Backe, in “Back from Iran: First Impressions,” a letter of May 2008


“Whenever I am in Paris, I am dragged by invisible force into the Morgue. I never want to go there, but am always pulled there. One Christmas day, when I would rather have been anywhere else, I was attracted in to see an old gray man laying all alone on his cold bed, with a tap of water turned on over his gray hair, and running, drip, drip, drip, down his wretched face until it got to the corner of his mouth, where it took a turn, and made him look sly.” — Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveler (1860)

“Eva is on her third glass of wine, looking sly.” — Anne Lamott, Joe Jones (1985)

These two passages, although written 125 years apart, came to me inside of five minutes, as I put down one book and picked up another. I am always interested in coincidence. Also this week, the number of the house I grew up in, 1114, appeared in movies on two consecutive nights. If these are messages, their meanings are unclear.