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The U.S. explicitly forbids the importation of kangaroo meat because we find the beasts cute, and because a congressman's wife heard that kangaroos are endangered.

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The French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) divided up those who really existed from those who did not on the basis of a capacity to think.

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If we can't be wholly certain who's mad, we can hardly be assured of who's sane.

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Another book: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Silly bloody fool, he thought, confident that it was not a mistake he would ever make.

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Well... because it's not your business or my business, or British business, or [for] anybody else to interfere in other people's countries and tell them how to run it, even to run it well. They must be left to their own salvation.

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Disregarding the minor detail that the word 'Frank' was now used pejoratively to mean 'foreigner' by the Arabs, who had expelled the last of the crusaders six centuries before, de Caix brushed off the 'latent discord of race and religion' that his forbears had left behind and insisted that three centuries of sporadic bloodshed had in fact established 'a very special bond of union between the Franks of France and the world of Islam'.

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... Sykes was much less pleased to come across Miss Bell. 'Confound the silly chattering windbag of conceited, gushing, flat-chested, man-woman, globetrotting, rump-wagging, blethering ass,' he ranted to his wife.

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So they toyed with the idea that they were rather the offspring of a prostitute - because that is what lupa also means in Latin. We are right to be doubtful about any of the historical accuracy of this. The Romans were making it up as they went along.

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The instructor was a man of middle age, in his early fifties; his name was Archer Sloane, and he came to his task of teaching with a seeming disdain and contempt, as if he perceived between his knowledge and what he could say a gulf so profound that he would make no effort to close it.

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His mother regarded her life patiently, as if it were a long moment that she had to endure.

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"Når alle er enige," stemmen til Taggart ble med ett skingrende, "når folk er samstemmige, hvordan våger én mann å være uenig? Med hvilken rett? Det er det jeg gjerne skulle visst - med hvilken rett?"

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"America didn't use to be this way," Tom laments. "People have fucked up this country." He's not sure who. It certainly wasn't him. But in the harsh new light outside the cloak of goodness there are some likely suspects, starting with "weirdo university professors, union racketeers, and the rich California ACLU types. People who never worked for a living," he says. "It all started to go to hell during the sixties." So Tom is antiliberal and willing to nuke Teheran.

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The area is solidly fundamentalist Christian and neoconservative, steeped in the gloomy ultra-Protestant assumption that man is an evil, worthless thing from birth and goes downhill from there.

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"... this does not mean that one could not improve a chronology by reducing the number of series used if the purpose of removing samples is to enhance a desired signal. The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology"

...which is a statement to send a shudder down the back of any reputable scientist.

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"... you were not particularly eager to meet the boss. Sadly you had no choice. The boss was everywhere. He saw you in your red suspenders with gold dollar signs and knew instantly who you were. A cost center."

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(Babel fish)
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-boggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God. The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own argument, you don't. QED." "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

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Briefly, then, we can draw two conclusions: (a) that the battle of sexes has much in common with predation; and (b) that the behaviour of lovers is oscillating like the moon, and unpredictable as the weather. Of course, people didn't need differential equations to notice this before.

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The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting - fleeting indeed. Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes into view, or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will close you down, then silently disassemble and go off to be other things. And that's it for you.

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Envy is the religion of the mediocre. It comforts them, it responds to the worries that gnaw at them and finally it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe these to be virtues. Such people are convinced that the doors of heaven will be opened only to poor wretches like themselves who go through life without leaving any trace but their threadbare attempts to belittle others and to exclude - and destroy if possible - those who, by the simple fact of their existence, show up their own poorness of spirit, mind and guts. Blessed be the one at whom the fools bark, because his soul will never belong to them.

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