Is Machiavelli relevant to today’s municipal politicians?

Are the political theories of a 16th-century Italian diplomat relevant to today’s municipal politics? Yes, assuming you know and have read his works, not just the bumper-sticker over-simplification that says, “The end justifies the means.” Actually, Machiavelli never wrote those words. That’s a modern condensation. It’s also an erroneous paraphrase of what he wrote in The Prince, because it overlooks a lot of his comments on … (more–>)

James Miles? Goethe? Sorry: this quote is from Malcolm Forbes

Another New Age quote showed up on Facebook today, one of those warn-n-fuzzy, touchy-feely sayings that either make you gag or go weak at the knees. This one is ascribed to James D. Miles. Miles was, according to (a site of dubious factuality and not terribly reliable at the best of timns), “…an associate professor of Psychology at Purdue University.” The author of this answer … (more–>)

Does This Really Sound Like Sitting Bull?

Another quote meme going around on the Internet claims to be from Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake), the famous Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux chief. A fascinating man in a difficult time, and a source of inspiration today. He was brave, intelligent and, from all accounts, wise. So when I read the quote below, I was torn. It’s a good comment, one that sounds like it should come from … (more–>)

On translating Chaucer and the joys of Middle English

In my last two visits to the nearby Chapters, I picked up from the bargain books section two recent, hardcover, versions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. One is a new verse translation by Burton Raffel published in 2008, the other a prose translation by Peter Ackroyd, from 2009. These join the dozen or so other versions of Chaucer’s works I already have on my bookshelves: the Riverside … (more–>)

It wasn’t Einstein who said it…

Yet another incorrectly attributed quotation is being passed around the Internet, this time on Facebook. This one is, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” A saccharine, touchy-feely, warm-puppy quote that appeals to some who take comfort in them, but Einstein never said that. … (more–>)

Slowly dies: another bad Internet meme

I came across a fascinating poem, translated into English as “Slowly Dies.” There are numerous translations online, many by amateurs, but some very well crafted. It goes something like this (a portion from one translation): Dies slowly he who transforms himself in slave of habit, repeating every day the same itineraries, who does not change brand, does not risk to wear a new color and doesn’t … (more–>)

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