Bierce

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Jan 142015
 

If name of Ambrose Bierce seems vaguely familiar its probably on account of his having famously disappeared without a trace, possibly in Mexico. Like that other famous disparu, D.B.Cooper, he most likely died in a ditch someplace, I think.

He wrote a book originally titled “the Cynic’s Word Book” in 1881, but which, for reasons he explains in the preface, was published as “The Devil’s Dictionary.” In the preface he addresses the book to “enlightened souls who prefer dry wines to sweet, sense to sentiment, wit to humor and clean English to slang.”

A sampling:

PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.

LITIGANT, n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.

IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.

IMPUNITY, n. Wealth.

RESIDENT, adj. Unable to leave.

SACRED, adj. Dedicated to some religious purpose; having a divine character; inspiring solemn thoughts or emotions; as, the Dalai Lama of Thibet; the Moogum of M’bwango; the temple of Apes in Ceylon; the Cow in India; the Crocodile, the Cat and the Onion of ancient Egypt; the Mufti of Moosh; the hair of the dog that bit Noah, etc.

PRESIDENCY, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics.

PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

 Posted by at 4:27 am

Always read the plaque

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Dec 202014
 

On my list of podcasts is 99% Invisible, whose creator, Roman Mars (and is there a better name that Roman Mars?) Has the above as his personal motto.

One sees lots and lots of carved stone plaques like this at every ancient Greek site, of which there are many in Turkey.

ancient plaqueplaque detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always wondered what they said. Celebrating great victories? Dedications to the gods? Finally, at a fabulous place called Patara, my question was answered.

Honorary Inscription of the people of Patara for Marcus Antonius Idagras

The people of Patara has honoured – with the people having introduced the motion concerning the honours for him – Marcus Antonius Idagras, son of Antipatros, citizen of Rome and of Patara, who was general of the Lycran League (selected) from al Lycians ambassador on behalf of the demos and of the Lycians to the (Roman) imperatores and received privileges to the advantage of the League and through his request obtained  discharge of 600 (fellow) citizens from military service; who at Argos won the boys’ pankration as the first of the Lycians, and at the Rhomaia organized by the Lycian League every four years as isolympic games (won) the boys and the teenagers’ pankration, and at the Letoa organized by the Lyclan League  and at the Rhomaia at Rhodes (won) the boys’ pankration; who also won other holy and stephanitic contests, with a golden wreath and a bronze statue, because he is an excellent man in the tradition of his ancestors.

Its a completely typical plaque. I have a similar one from a board I was on for a time. Nothing changes except the medium.

“Because he is an excellent man in the tradition of his ancestors.” I love that.

 Posted by at 11:02 pm

Bruce

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Feb 162014
 
More than rich, more than famous, more than happy – I wanted to be great.
Bruce Springsteen
 Posted by at 11:39 am