So-called Western Civilization, as practised in half of Europe, some of Asia and a few parts of North America, is better than anything else available. Western civilization not only provides a bit of life, a pinch of liberty and the occasional pursuance of happiness, it's also the only thing that's ever tried to. Our civilization is the first in history to show even the slightest concern for average, undistinguished, none-too-commendable people like us.
        - PJ O'Rourke

"Now for good or ill, California is the place where trends tend to be set in Western civilization — if civilization indeed it is. California, for several generations now, has been the newest, biggest, most experimental place in the newest, biggest, most experimental part of liberal Western capitalism — which is itself a new experiment for mankind."
        - PJ O'Rourke, "The Man in the Mansion"

The biggest difference between ancient Rome and the USA is that in Rome the common man was treated like a dog. In America he sets the tone. This is the first country where the common man could stand erect.
        - Isidor Stone, quoted in "Flying Visits" by Clive James

America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.
        - John Updike

Look at the world we have left to the hapless adolescents of the early 21st century. A world of food fads and neuroses, of exploitation through mass media. The affectless uniformity of the web. Danger lurking: perverts round every corner, terrorists in the shadows. A world where the sea kills fish, rain dissolves trees and sex means death. Of crumbling infrastructures, gridlock, collapsing health services. A world where only a few will be able to afford a house. A world of McJobs or no jobs or insane jobs which eat the whole of life. Where illusions are buried, childhood torn short, innocence drowned. A world of gendering and relativism, of spyware and databases, of political correctness. Hell of a world. As if adolescence weren't a hell of a world enough already.
        - Michael Bywater, "Lost Worlds"

America, the Idea of: We yearned for its beer and jazz, its smoke-filled nightclubs, its Edward Hopper bars, the melancholy of rainy Manhattan Gershwin nights... the America we yearned for has gone. Did it ever exist?
        - Michael Bywater, "Lost Worlds"

In the short walk between his aeroplane and reaching the outside world at Heathrow, Michael Bywater encountered no fewer than 93 separate notices telling him off for things he hadn't done or which hadn't even occurred to him to do. Being bossed and patronised are two sensations that most sophisticated adults would sooner do without and yet we are bossed and patronised, by the media, by politicians, by business, by advertising agencies and the public services, more now than at any other time in our history. Why should this be?
        - Alexander Waugh, reviewing Bywater's "Big Babies", "The Telegraph"

Do I grow cleverer with age, or does the world grow more stupid?
        - Theodore Dalrymple

The advent of the mobile phone was a disaster. We are forced to listen, open-mouthed, to other people's intimate conversations. Increasingly, we are all in our virtual bubbles when we are out in public, whether we are texting, listening to iPods, reading or just staring dangerously at other people.
        - Lynne Truss, "Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life"

We couldn't live without Mobile phones: Before text messaging, how did society function?
        - from "The Irish Independent"

"I don't know why you have a mobile phone; you never phone".
        - Spectator cartoon, father giving out to a lazy son

The BBC is very much in thrall to all this techno cross-fertilisation, in much the same way that print journalists are now encouraged to blog. To the point where there is an emerging breed of sub-editors who take perfectly well-written and punctuated original copy and rewrite it so that it resembles a text message written by a 14-year-old under the influence of Bacardi Breezers.
        - Kathryn Flett, "The Observer"

Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
        - Douglas Adams

The suburbs dream of violence.
        - JG Ballard, "Kingdom Come"


~ The American Way
~ Made in the UK
~ Modern Living


The problem with evolution is that humans with undesirable traits reproduce before said traits catch up with them. That's why we still have people who ride motorcycles without helmets, smokers and Bill Clinton

- Anon Half the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for the President. One hopes they are the same half. - Gore Vidal Newspapers, magazines and other publications have the constitutional right to be offensive, even disgusting. As evidence of that, just watch this space regularly. - Mike Royko (The Chicago Tribune) The Army has carried the American ... ideal to its logical conclusion. Not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed and color, but also on ability. - Tom Lehrer Sufficiently advanced political correctness is indistinguishable from irony. - Erik Naggum, ( I would be looking up from a pool of blood and hearing my wife ask 'How do I reload this thing'. - US Congressman Dick Armey, when asked what he would do in Bill Clintons position in the Lewinsky scandal Finish your vegetables! There are children in Beverly Hills with eating disorders! - John Callahan Parents in Grand Saline, Texas, removed a picture of Santa Claus from a school because the letters in "Santa" can be rearranged to spell "Satan". Which caused our editors to note that the letters in "Grand Saline, Texas" can be re-ordered to spell "Grand Anal Sex Site". - From Esquire magazine "I'm all for teaching creation and allowing prayers in schools, as soon as scholars begin teaching Darwinism and geometry in church."
        - J. Michael Straczynski

When I was in college, there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl. Now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl.'

        - Tom Lehrer, quoted in "The New York Times"

It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

- Pat Robertson, on the equal-rights amendment Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we like. - Pope John Paul II Tonight thousands of people on this earth will die of starvation. Most of you will not give a a shit. And most of you will be more upset with the fact that I said, 'shit' than that thousands of people will die tonight. - Tony Campolo at Jesus Festival From the strictest humanitarian viewpoint, any attempt to stop the processes by which over crowded cities purge themselves is not a kindness. - Robert A. Heinlein, "Friday" "Well the God I believe in isn't short of cash mister."

        - U2's Bono, on tv evangelist's pleas for money

There is a policeman inside our heads, and he must be destroyed.

        - Motto of the 1960s Yippie self liberation movement

We must conform to the new non-conformism.

        - Advertising operating group, 1970s, in reaction to such movements.

So this judge in Virginia rules that a lesbian wasn't fit to raise her own daughter because she might grow up to be a lesbian, and gives custody to the lesbian's mother. And I'm thinking, "She's already raised one lesbian."
        - Chris Cannon

My wife is not a lesbian and neither is my son. I've never had sex with a man and neither has my wife. I hope that your campaigning for homosexuals is due to your being unknoweable rather than you thinking the things they do are just 'sexual preferance'. Keep your sexual perversions to yourself and I'll keep my sexual perversions to myself.
        - Excerpts from homophobic mail to a gay organization

I also challenge the word "homophobic" as fear of homosexuals. I'm not homophobic -- I have no fear of your type, only contempt. And now you have homophobia to wave around just like the jews have anti-semetic. So lets get rid of the word homophobia: How about "Homo-Blyiccch" (gag, choke, vomit)? ... When all you perverts are in hell it will be a much better place.
        - Excerpts from homophobic mail to a gay organization

There are similar problems with the term 'faggot.' In his early days, Eminem said he had nothing against gay people, just faggots. Just as not all gay men were faggots, not all black guys are niggers. The question is whether this is one step toward enlightenment or one step back toward bigotry. I'm inclined to think that, in the younger generation, the use of such terms need not be prima facie case of prejudice. It's quite common, for example, for high school kids to use the word 'gay' to describe anything they don't particularly like. It has no tangible reference to homosexuals - although it hardly bespeaks acceptance. But in general, the use of the term now is far less ominous than it would have been ten years ago. So let the linguistic waves roll and the racial, post-racial epithets mount. And let old Klansmen like Byrd look before they mumble.
        - Andrew Sullivan (2001)

Finally, some religious unity in the Middle East. Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders have joined forces to condemn a gay pride festival scheduled to be held in Jerusalem in August.
One Muslim cleric even fears that the events of Sodom could be repeated: "God destroyed Sodom and we don't want this to happen to us." Well, as long as they're keeping the debate sensible...
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

In America, where there's someone on every street corner trying to convince you to eat yourself into oblivion, there is also another kindly soul ready to sell you the most effective diet in the history of the world.
        - Mark Little

You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.
        - Charles Kuralt

"There are more fat people in America than there are people."
        - The Narrator, on "Little Britain USA"

"Are you fat because you’re a lesbian, or are you a lesbian because you’re fat?"
        - Marjorie to Rosie O'Donnell, on "Little Britain USA"

"The deficit is like some crazy aunt living down in the basement: everyone knows she’s there, but no one wants to talk about her. Now, if you don’t deal with her, she’s just going to get ornerier and stinkier. I say take the bitch upstairs, slap her around, and hose her down."
        - Dana Carvey as Ross Perot on "Saturday Night Live"

I would say I am a racist. I have run the 100m, 200, 400, 800m, 1200m 1500m and 3000m (which almost killed me) *finds out what a racist is* No my mind doesn't work like that. I categorise people into two groups. Those that are trying to kill me and arent trying to kill me.

        - Keeper of Life on Dark Forum

The day it happened was like any other, I suppose. I was on my way to work when it hit me: the President of the United States is a lying vicious bastard. And he had to die.

- The Kids in the Hall A group of politicians deciding to dump a President because his morals are bad is like the Mafia getting together to bump off the Godfather for not going to church on Sunday.
        - Russell Baker, writing during Watergate in "The New York Times"

It seems to be a law of American life that whatever enriches us anywhere except in the wallet inevitably becomes uneconomic.
        - Russell Baker

More die in the United States of too much food than of too little.

- John Kenneth Galbraith The people who should be watching this special are grown-ups, especially when you consider No. 3 on the list: "The food at my school is horrible." This is not a case of pickiness or overdemanding palates; it's a matter of nutrition. The students mention hot dogs, Tater Tots, pizza and French fries... When children have to tell adults that they aren't being given healthy food, the world has turned upside down.
        - Anita Gates, reviewing Nickelodeon's "10 Things I Hate About School", "New York Times"

"The French fried potato has become an inescapable horror in almost every public eating place in the country. 'French fries', say the menus, but they are not French fries any longer. They are a furry-textured substance with the taste of plastic wood."
        - Russell Baker

"Some critics will say Coca-Cola made a marketing mistake. Some cynics will say that we planned the whole thing. The truth is we are not that dumb, and we are not that smart."
        - Donald Keough, President of Coca Cola during the New Coke debacle of the 1980s

We Americans live in a nation where the medical-care system is second to none in the world, unless you count maybe 25 or 30 little scuzzball countries like Scotland that we could vaporize in seconds if we felt like it.

- Dave Barry In a nation which spends more than $50,000 per convict annually to provide prisoners cable TV, well-stocked libraries, computer centers, three hot regulars, comfortable sleeping accommodations, plenty of free time, excellent exercise facilities and medical care — all the comforts of home — let's just say that if convicts had to live in the same conditions many military personnel have endured for the last decade, the ACLU would be screaming.
        - Federalist Digest, (Feb'01)

We tend to idealize tolerance, then wonder why we find ourselves infested with losers and nut cases.

- Patrick Hayden How can we hope to remain economically competitive in a world in which... 90% of Dutch high-school students take advanced math courses and 100% of teachers in Germany have double majors, while the best we can say about our "pocket of excellence" is that 75% of [American] students have learned to "critique tactfully?" - Barbara J. Alexander I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man's failures.
        - Chief Justice Earl Warren

Reporters thrive on the world's misfortune. For this reason they often take an indecent pleasure in events that dismay the rest of humanity.
        - Russell Baker

It has been disappointing to find some of one’s fellow journalists here upset by the great crash. They go around with long faces, worrying about how their own finances will be affected. This is unprofessional. Bad news is good news for the media, and we should always be pleased by it, in the same sense that doctors are pleased by the outbreak of an exciting new plague, or soldiers by a good war.
        - Charles Moore, "The Spectator"

If we are forced, at every hour, to watch or listen to horrible events, this constant stream of ghastly impressions will deprive even the most delicate among us of all respect for humanity.
        - Unknown

People killing each other in the Middle East is not news. People not killing each other in the Middle East is news.
        - Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun

You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God! The British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to!
        - Humbert Wolfe

The biases the media has are much bigger than conservative or liberal. They're about getting ratings, about making money, about doing stories that are easy to cover.
        - Al Franken

Every well-thought-out rebuttal to dogma, every scrap of intelligent logic, every absurdist reduction of some bullying stance is the antidote.
        - George Sanders, on how to deal with news media, "The Brain-Dead Megaphone"

"I don’t care what the New York Times says about me, and no one I care about cares what the New York Times says about me."
        - Senator Jesse Helms, after an aide urges him to complain about a NY Times article

News is an inadequate way of following what is going on in the world. We are more likely to hear of one-off sporting achievements — like England winning a silver medal — than of more important things happening over a long period of time.
        - James Bartholomew, "The Telegraph"

        - Bob Franklin, Jounalism Professor on free newspapers

"If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast."
        - William T Sherman

An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger.

        - Dan Rather

America : the only country where a poor black boy has the chance to grow up to be a rich white woman.

        - Anon

"The best time to have a baby is when you're a black teenager."

        - Sarah Silverman

"I want a world where Frank junior and all the Frank juniors can sit under a shady tree, breathe the air, swim in the ocean, and go into a 7-11 without an interpreter."

- Lt. Frank Drebin, "The Naked Gun" We live in an age when pizza gets to your home before the police. - Jeff Marder Maybe that's because pizza are sold at a profit, while the police are provided by the government. - paraphrasing David Boaz The NY Times is read by the people who run the country. The Washington Post is read by the people who think they run the country. The National Enquirer is read by the people who think Elvis is alive and running the country... - Anon There are plenty of people who believe that Elvis is alive, or that aliens occasionally land here to do highly personal things to people, or that the whole idea of evolution is a conspiracy of godless scientists. Almost all of these people can vote and some of them have got guns. - Terry Pratchett The economic system that the United States has is an evil empire. It's an economic system that's not fair, not just, and it's not democratic. And it will fall just like communism fell. The richest 1 percent now own 50 percent of the wealth. It didn't use to be that way. The average CEO 20 years ago made 20 times as much as the average employee. Now they make 212 times as much. - Michael Moore. Seattle Times, 1998 In comparative terms, there's no poverty in America by a long shot. Heritage Foundation political scientist Robert Rector has worked up figures showing that when the official U.S. measure of poverty was developed in 1963, a poor American family had an income twenty-nine times greater than the average per capita income in the rest of the world. An individual American could make more money than 93 percent of the other people on the planet and still be considered poor. - Pj O'Rourke, "Parliament of Whores" If Thomas Edison invented electric light today, Dan Rather would report it on CBS News as "candle making industry threatened". - Newt Gingrich, US Congressman and House Speaker, 1995 These people have served a longer sentence than some people who have committed murder. - Jeff Greenfield, news analyst, describing the jury in the OJ Simpson murder trial, 1995 I will try to follow the advice that a university president once gave a prospective commencement speaker. "Think of yourself as the body at an Irish wake" he said. "They need you in order to have the party, but no one expects you to say very much." - Anthony Lake, national security advisor, at University of Massachusettes, 1995 "This is not Dana Carvey."

        - George Bush Snr, asked for a sound check before an interview

Your DVD collection is organized, and so is your walk-in closet. Your car is clean and vacuumed, your frequently dialed numbers are programmed into your cordless phone, your telephone plan is suited to your needs, and your various gizmos interact without conflict. Your spouse is athletic, your kids are bright, your job is rewarding, your promotions are inevitable, everywhere you need to be comes with its own accessible parking. You look great in casual slacks.
        - David Brooks, on life in America's suburbs, "On Paradise Drive"

"Here we are at the edge of the world, the very edge of Western civilization, and all of us are so desperate to feel something, anything, that we keep falling into each other and f*****g our way toward the end of days."
        - Mia, on "Californication"

I think my favorite sport in the Olympics is the one in which you make your way through the snow, you stop, you shoot a gun, and then you continue on.  In most of the world, it is known as the biathlon, except in New York City, where it is known as winter.

        - Michael Ventre

People say New Yorkers can't get along. Not true. I saw two New Yorkers, complete strangers, sharing a cab. One guy took the tires and the radio; the other guy took the engine.

- David Letterman, commedian, 1995 Two men face trial after wheeling their dead friend down a Manhattan street in an alleged attempt to cash his Social Security cheque. The sight of two men pushing a partially-dressed, pale, stiff body on an office chair raised the suspicions of a passing policeman. Detective Travis Rapp arrested David Dalaia and James O'Hare, both 65... Mr Dalaia and Mr O'Hare are said to have expressed surprise when paramedics told them Mr Cintron was dead.
        - The BBC Website.

A cousin of mine who was a casualty surgeon in Manhattan tells me that he and his colleagues have a one word nickname for bikers : Donors. Rather chilling.
        - Stephen Fry, "Paperweight"

"How many of y’all wondered, like I did, during the LA riots when those people were being pulled out of their trucks and beaten half to death — step on the f***ing gas, man! They’re on foot, you’re in a truck — I think I see a way out of this."
        - Bill Hicks

The LAPD: a police force so incompetent they can't even frame a guilty man
        - Comment during the OJ Simpson trial

"San Francisco is the only city in America where marijuana is legal but plastic bags are not."
        - Conan O'Brien

At a recent meeting in Snowmass, Colorado, a participant from Los Angeles fainted from hyperoxygenation, and we had to hold his head under the exhaust of a bus until he revived.

- ? The Greenpeace booth at all the rock and roll shows nowadays are akin to the old sorcerers who used to stand in the middle of villages warning of danger, 'When night wolf swallows mother moon, there will be great famine.' - Pj O'Rourke, "The Politics Of Worry" You can't shame or humiliate modern celebrities. What used to be called shame and humiliation is now called publicity. And forget about traditional Character assassination. If you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you've read his autobiography.
        - PJ O'Rourke

In the realm of pop celebrity, the bar has been lowered so far that there is no bar. People can be famous for being famous, famous for being infamous, famous for having once been famous and, thanks largely to the Internet, famous for not being famous at all.
        - Tom Shales, reviewing "The Two Coreys", "Washington Post"

"Welcome to Exposo! The show that looks at celebrities lives — and rips them apart... Join me again soon for more made up showbiz lies!"
        - Dublin's Strawbery Alarm Clock, with their Exposo satirical slot

"'Civilians' is a term I love. It's what Elizabeth Hurley used to describe people who weren't on TV."
        - Alan Carr

A modest critique of an age in which an actor is the President, in which fashion models are asked for their opinions, in which getting into a nightclub is seen as a significant human achievement.
        - Jay McInerney, on his quintessential 80s novel, "Bright Lights, Big City"

Q: What don't you like about yourself?
A: My appetite and my waistline. I can't do as much exercise as I used to and I still like to eat so I have to go through periodic days of not eating too much. It's a huge bore.
Q: What do you think of today's celebrity obsession?
A: There used to be a mystique in theatre, long before the days of TV. Actors were remote and didn't come into contact with the audience. The same could be said of cinema and the major stars of old Hollywood. It all went wrong when people started to wear aprons and do home layouts in glossy magazines. It started a big intrusion into people's lives. I never do them. I like shutting my door and enjoying my private life. Those ones in Hello! are terrible.
        - Roger Moore, interviewed in The Metro

There can be few sights more entertaining than a deranged celebrity lecturing the rest of us on how to live our lives. Whether it's Tibet, Darfur, Aids or the environment, there is no shortage of ill-informed, smug egomaniacs who believe that because people go to see their movies or buy their records that they have an obligation to tell us what to do. The latest in a long line of didactic clowns is Sheryl Crow who reckons that the best way to tackle environmental waste is to... limit the sheets of toilet paper we use... In fairness to Crow, she's not alone in the double-standards stakes. Even more confused is Larry David's wife, Laurie, one of the premier environmentalists in America. She often boasts of the fact that she attacks people who drive SUVs, and claims that she is one of the busiest activists in her field. So busy, in fact, that she owns her own private Gulfstream jet, to get her from A to B. Ah, isn't it great to be lectured by such luminaries?
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

"The papers lap it up. They follow us 'round and that makes people think we're important, and that makes us think we're important. If they stopped following us around town taking pictures of us, people wouldn't take to the streets going 'Oh quick! I need a picture of Cameron Diaz with a pimple!' They wouldn't care, they'd get on with something else. They'd get on with their lives. You open the paper, and you see a picture of Lindsay Lohan getting out of a car, and the headline is 'Cover up, Lindsay, we can see your knickers'. Of course you can see her knickers, your photographer, is lying in the road, pointing his camera up her dress to see her knickers. You're literally the gutter press."
        - Andy Millman, on celebrity culture, "Extras"

A life without fame can be a good life, but fame without a life is no life at all.

        - Clive James

Celebrity is a national drama whose characters’ parts and plots are written by the tabloids, gossip columnists, websites and interactive buttons. The famous don’t actually have to turn up to their own lives at all.

        - AA Gill

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.

- Charles Austin Beard A man decided to conduct a world wide poll. He asked a Texan "Excuse me, what's your opinion on the meat shortage?" . He got "What's a shortage?". He went to Poland, asked same the question and got "What's meat?". He went to Russia, asked same the question and got "What's an opinion?". He went to New York, asked the same question and got "What's an excuse me?" - Unknown You can't treat the working man this way! One day, we'll form a union, and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve! Then, we'll go too far and get corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive. - The Simpsons "Marge, please. Old people don't need companionship. They need to be isolated and studied so that it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use."
"Homer, would you stop reading that Ross Perot pamphlet." - The Simpsons Marge, I agree with you : in theory. In theory, communism works. In theory. - Homer Simpson Things aren't as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office. Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors. Useful people are starting to feel the pinch. - The Simpsons It's ironic, that this anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail! That's democracy for you. - Mr.Burns, The Simpsons "I'll be back.  You can't keep the Democrats out of the White House forever.
And when they get in, I'm back on the street!  With all of my criminal buddies! Ba-ha-ha-ha-ha!!"

        - Sideshow Bob, "The Return of Sideshow Bob''

"Kids, what's it called when people are treated equally when they clearly aren't equal?"

        - The Simpsons

Marge: I really think this is a bad idea.
Homer: Marge, I agree with you, in theory. In theory, communism works.  In theory.

   - The pros and cons of keeping the elephant, "Bart Gets an Elephant"

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy The difference between an American and a European is that a European thinks that 100 miles is a long distance while an American thinks that 100 years is a long time.
        - Anon

"America?" said Mrs Liberty.
"Won't we get scalped?"
"Good grief, no!" said William Stickers, who was a bit more up to date about the world.
"*Probably* not," said Mr Fletcher, who had been watching the news lately and was even more up to date than William Stickers.
        - Johnny and the Dead, by Terry Pratchett

That seems to point up a significant difference between Europeans and Americans. A European says: "I can't understand this, what's wrong with me?" An American says: "I can't understand this, what's wrong with him?"
        - Terry Pratchett

"You can't say Americans are not more violent than other people."
"All those people killed in shootings in America?"
"Oh, shootings, yes. But that doesn't mean Americans are more violent than other people. We're just better shots."
        - Fred, "Barcelona"

"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
        - Graham, "Crash"

"Look around! You couldn't find a whiter, safer or better lit part of this city. But this white woman sees two black guys, who look like UCLA students, strolling down the sidewalk and her reaction is blind fear. I mean, look at us! Are we dressed like gangbangers? Do we look threatening? No. Fact, if anybody should be scared, it's us: the only two black faces surrounded by a sea of over-caffeinated white people, patrolled by the triggerhappy LAPD. So, why aren't we scared?"
"Because we have guns?"
"You could be right."
        - Anthony and Peter, "Crash"

"Every night there is a show with somebody shining a blue light and finding tiny specks of blood splattered on carpets and walls and ceiling fans, bathroom fixtures and special-edition plastic Burger King tray cups. The next thing they show is some stupid redneck in handcuffs who looks absolutely stunned that this is happening to him. Sometimes the redneck is actually WATCHING the Discovery Channel when they break in to arrest him. And he still can't figure out how on earth they could've caught him! ... Do I look like I wanna be on the Discovery Channel?"
        - Lucien, receiver of suspiciously-obtained vehciles, "Crash"

If you travel to the States ... they have a lot of different words than like what we use. For instance: they say 'elevator', we say 'lift'; they say 'drapes', we say 'curtains'; they say 'president', we say 'seriously deranged git'.

- Alexei Sayle, British Comedian The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them we are missing. - Gamel Abdel Nasser, President Of Egypt "Why is it that there is a gun shop on almost every corner in this community?" "Why?"
"I'll tell you why. For the same reason that there is a liquor store on almost every corner in the black community. Why? They want us to kill ourselves " - Boyz In The Hood "It used to take years to become a junkie. But crack cut that down to 37 minutes."
        - Chris Rock, "Everybody Hates Chris"

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.

- Will Rogers California is like an artificial limb the rest of the country doesn't really need.
        - Saul Bellow

I moved to New York City for my health. I'm paranoid and New York was the only place where my fears were justified.

- Anita Weiss People come to Washington believing it is the center of power. I know I did. It was only much later that I learned that Washington is a steering wheel that's not connected to an engine. - Richard Goodwin America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair. - Arnold Toynbee During the Vietnam War, which lasted longer than any war we've ever been in -- and which we lost -- every respectable artist in this country was against the war. It was like a laser beam. We were all aimed in the same direction. The power of this weapon turns out to be that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder six feet high.
        - Kurt Vonnegut

Christmas is an awfulness that compares favorably with the great London plague and fire of 1665-66. No one escapes the feelings of mortal dejection, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, guilt and pity. No one escapes feeling used by society, by religion, by friends and relatives, by the utterly artifical responsiblities of extending false greetings, sending banal cards, reciprocating unsolicated gifts, going to dull parties, putting up with acquaintances and family one avoids all the rest of the short, of being brutalized by a 'holiday' that has lost virtually all of its original meanings and has become a merchandising ploy for color tv set manufacturers and ravagers of the woodlands.
        - Harlan Ellison, in "The Harlan Ellison Hornbook"

In the 1980s the Coca-Cola Corporation became concerned about Pepsi. Its previously unassailable lead over this rival was melting away and the reason seemed obvious — taste. Malcolm Gladwell provides an account, in his recent book Blink, of how Pepsi spooked its rivals with a series of television commercials in which Coke drinkers were invited to take the Pepsi Challenge. They were given a sip from two different, unidentified, glasses of cola and asked to say which they preferred. Time and again, they chose Pepsi. Worse still, the people at Coke discovered that these commercials were not a con. When they administered the same test themselves, they got the same dismal result. So what was Coke to do? It changed the taste of its traditional product, gave it a “Nuovo Gusto”, just as the customers seemed to want. The focus groups were clear: New Coke would be a winner. And it was a complete disaster. Pepsi did indeed win the Pepsi Challenge, but the design of the test was crucial to its victory. Drinkers were being provided with a couple of sips of the drink, then asked for their view. They preferred the sweeter, lighter taste of Pepsi. Coke had too much “bite”. Yet these preferences did not persist when consumers had an entire can of the drink. After a while the sweet taste became cloying, and the soft drink was too soft.
        - Daniel Finkelstein, "The Times"

Dress matters. As Robert Cialdini states as in his book 'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion': “We are more likely to help those who dress like us.” He cites, for instance, an experiment conducted in the early 1970s when experimenters, dressed either as “straights” or as “hippies” approached students and asked them for some change for the telephone. The students were far more likely to help if the experimenter was dressed as they were. Similarly marchers in an anti-war demonstration were much more likely to sign a petition proffered by a person dressed like them. Indeed many of them signed without bothering to read it first.
        - Daniel Finkelstein, "The Times"

At its heart, this book touches on a mystery of economics: what exactly is happening in our world, and why does it often work so well? As the authors show, apparently messy systems — such as untidy desks — actually exhibit a high degree of order: the piles of paper are close to hand, and the most important documents tend to make their way to the top while un-needed ones sink to the bottom. If the mess works, why mess with it?
        - Nicholas Blincoe reviews "A Perfect Mess: the Hidden Benefits of Disorder", "Telegraph"

An article on Nov. 10 about animal rights referred erroneously to an island in the Indian Ocean and to events there involving goats and endangered giant sea sparrows that could possibly lead to the killing of goats by environmental groups. Wrightson Island does not exist; both the island and the events are hypothetical figments from a book (also mentioned in the article), "Beginning Again", by David Ehrenfeld. No giant sea sparrow is known to be endangered by the eating habits of goats.
        - A rather bizarre correction that appared in "The New York Times"


"No motto please, we're British."
"Try writing history without us."
"We appologise for any inconvenience."
"Mustn't grumble."
"Look, we're really sorry for all that Empire stuff."
"Keeping the FUN in dysfunctional!"
        - Mottos for Britain suggested on BBC website

The English are famously bilingual. Every child leaves school able to speak English (after a fashion, at least) and, in addition, with the capacity to speak English slowly and loudly and contemptuously to foreigners seeking directions from Baker Street station to Madame Tussaud’s. Nowadays it seems that not much more is needed.
        - The Times of London reflects on the worldwide spread of English

Scanning the newspapers and absorbing with a mixture of incredulity and indignation the enormities they report, I conclude that what England lacks today is, quite simply, sense.
        - Paul Johnson in "The Spectator", 2004.

There is always a need for a few simple guidelines which, if followed, make people’s lives happier. Here are a few. Never go into a European restaurant which displays photographs of its dishes. Never marry a war correspondent. Never read the Financial Times. Avoid anywhere described as ‘vibrant’. Don’t bother to read an article about someone who is ‘battling his demons’. Beware also of organisations with logos using the present participle.
        - Charles Moore, "The Spectator"

Here is the full list of the banned words I used: active homosexual; career women; Third World; blacks; Asians; Australasia; Bangalore; primitive African tribes; crippled; in a wheelchair; hare lip; ethnic minorities; handicapped; spinster; committed suicide; gypsies; Bombay; illegitimate daughter; air hostess; Siamese twins; Calcutta; deaf ears; illegal asylum seeker; province of Northern Ireland; grandmother; bachelor.
        - Rod Liddle, breaking the BBC\Guardian style guide rules, "The Spectator"

You have probably heard that there is a new British social tribe called Chavs. Chavs are, essentially, oiks: they love fake and vulgar jewellery - "bling" - despise education, wear trainers, track-suits. baseball caps and have embraced the Burberry Scotch-kilt pattern in bags and accessories. Football alas, is full of chavs. Perhaps all footballers' wives and girlfriends are chavvie. The chavling will be sent to school, but only for a short time. You can spot a chav by their tattooes, by their aggressive dogs, by scrunched-back hair and large loop ear-rings among females. They are, in short, what the genteel classes call "common".
        - Mary Kenny, "The Common (or Garden) Chav", "The Irish Independent"

I know that Peaches Geldof does Islam sounds like the winning entry in the Worst TV Titles of All Time competition, which just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge programmes by their synopses... Peaches made no confessions or apologies for the way she lived. She was funny and polite and direct. It was a blessed relief, after all the other mea culpas of the week, to remember that you don’t have to say sorry for being young, having fun, liking a drink, wearing a short skirt, kissing boys, saying the first thing that comes into your head or being an atheist. The subtext of this week has been that we are victims, and we should say sorry. We are not, and we have nothing to apologise for.
        - AA Gill, from his review of  "The Beginner’s Guide to Islam", "The Times"

Let us be deep and crisp and even crystal clear: we approve of Christmas. We applaud wise men. We follow stars. We admire lateral thinking in the use of agricultural outbuildings. We can withstand moderate seasonal exposure to Johnny Mathis. We like Christmas carols, tinsel, turkey, stuffing and bad puns printed in China for insertion into explosive crackers. We are relaxed about the niceties of virgin birth and have no philosophical objection to the environmentally responsible uprooting of millions of young conifers. But the basic principles of party planning, not to mention the oft-neglected interests of decorum, do force us to ask: isn’t it still November?
        - Leader from "The Times" (30 Nov'05)

"Foxes are rats in expensive coats. What are foxes associated with? Evil, wily, conniving, duplicitous, Fox News – worst news service on the planet and the evilest."
        - Rich Hall, giving his own spin on the hunting debate

"Look at Abi Titmuss. This year she's been tied to more bed posts than David Blunkett's guide dog."
        - Jonathon Ross, coming up with two insults for the price of one

"What have John Prescott and an MPI flatpack got in common? A few screws in the wrong place and the whole cabinet falls apart."
        - Anonymous joke

"US special forces are closing in on Saddam Hussain but they're afraid to go in. He's hiding out in Tony Martin's farmhouse."
        – Patrick Kielty

"I personally guarantee that now that bear wouldn't get past Dover without being shot."
        - David Blunkett, unhappy at how "Paddington Bear" shows UK immigration, "Dead Ringers"

"He was a hateful terrorist who will be missed by all."
        - Jack Straw, commenting on Yasser Arafat, done by "Dead Ringers"

"I haven't got the time to sit here arguing with someone whose idea of a coherent foreign policy is what comes up in Google when you type in peace!"
        - Tony Blair, dealing with questions from the public, "Dead Ringers"

"Our force is especially concerned about suicide Telletubbies... we're going to have to face up to the fact that we're going to have to shoot somebody."
        - "Bremner, Bird & Fortune" discuss Palace security after the 'Batman' incident

"So do you think one day man will walk on the sun?"
        - Ali G, to Buzz Aldrin, "Da Ali G Show"

I notice that the number of cosmetic-surgery operations has risen by 34 per cent in the past year. Once we subtract Jordan, Jodie Marsh and Michael Jackson from those figures, we can see that demand overall may have stabilised.
        - Michael Gove, "The Times"

"I'm glad there's been so much laughter in the audience tonight."
"But they're not laughing with you. They're laughing at you."
        - Terry Wogan, interviewing David "Son of God" Icke

"John Bond used to be a security guard for Tescos in Preston. He was the closest thing to an army I could find."
        - Danny, plotting an invasion, "How To Start Your Own Country"

By the harbour, the witchcraft museum stood firm while a Christian gift shop lay in ruins. The devil looks after its own, joked one villager.
        - surveying Bocastle in Cornwall, after the village is deluged by floods, "The "Guardian"

"This is the only design for a paedophile treatment centre that was acceptable to local residents."
<spoken by politician standing in front of a gallows>
        - from a "Private Eye" cartoon

"Britain, Britain, Britain! It's been called heaven on earth and it's easy to see why. Ribena is plentiful, shoe laces are available in different lengths and there's a new Fred Bassett cartoon strip in the Daily Mail every day! But let's not forget the people of Britian for it is they what make it good and nice and it is that lot we look at today."
        - An Opening Narration from "Little Britain"

"The Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi has plunged southern Europe into crisis by kidnapping Crete and towing it to a secret location off the Libyan coast."
        - Chris, "The Day Today"

"We're pushed for time, can you sum it up in a word? "
"A sound?"
        - Chris and Spartacus Mills, "The Day Today"

Jim Hacker: "Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers: The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country, The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country, The Times is read by people who actually do run the country, The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country, The Financial Times is read by people who own the country, The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country, and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is."
Sir Humphrey: "Prime Minister, what about the people who read the Sun?"
Bernard Woolley: "Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits."
        - Yes Minister explains it all

"Ministers should never more than they need to know, then they can't tell anyone. Like secret agents, they could be captured and tortured."
"You mean be terrorists?"
"By the BBC, Bernard."
        - Sir Humphrey and Bernard, "Yes, Minister"

"It's such an awful country, they cut peoples' hands off. And women get stoned when they commit adultery."
"Unlike Britain where women commit adultery when they get stoned."
        - from "Yes, Prime Minister"

"Professional object of curiosity."
        - Neil Hamilton, former Conservative MP, describing his current occupation

The maker of Monopoly is being accused of monopolising the board games market through price-fixing. Hasbro is accused by the Office of Fair Trading of fixing the price of games with high street shops.
        - Ananova.Com

The legislative framework to protect the monster is available, provided she (or he) is identified by scientists whose reputation will carry weight with the British Museum.
        - From a 1981 British Government report on the Loch Ness monster

We are hearing reports that the Wombles have broken through the police line and are heading for Trafalgar Square.
        - Sky News coverage of the 2001 May Day protests

Yob attacks dinosaur.
     - Headline in the Scarborough Evening News after drunk attacks dinosaur display

I have not a clue why they sent it to me. As far as I know I have not got a reputation as a receiver of stolen goods.
    - Jeremy Paxman on being sent a stolen Enigma WW2 Coding Machine

I voted against Gerald Nabarro in my first general election, but my defiance made no difference. If you had put a Conservative rosette on a mustachioed hamster, it would have been elected.
     - Jeremy Paxman, recalling his youth

"Jeremy, are we going to play your games?"
        - Alastair Campbell, after repeatedly declining to answer a question from Jeremy Paxman

There are some things I don't like, about which I think, well, that's me. But coriander is a giant hoax perpetrated by a perverted society.
        - Stephen Fry

The Welsh... I mean, what are they for?
    - Anne Robinson

More action packed than a Cardiff pub with Anne Robinson.
    - Jonathon Ross describes Comic Relief

If I wasn't me, I'd want to be me.
   - Eddie Irvine, F1 racing car driver

Well, most of our electric companies are owned by the Americans. The prime minister is owned by the Ulster Unionists. Hong Kong is going back to China. The only thing we actually own is Northern Ireland, and we fucking nicked that!

- The Mark Thomas comedy product, on the state of the UK ( 1995 ) "The American dream? We don't have a dream in Britain because we're bloody awake!"
        - Al Murray aka The Pub Landlord

"Our cheeky sidekick. We're like a motorcycle and sidecar."
        - Al Murray aka the Pub Landlord, on Ireland's relationship to Britain

"What do you think about Tony Blair? 'Cause you're English."
"Well, Welsh."
"I know, but Wales IS in England."
"Well, over here it is."
        - Joan Rivers, interviewing actor Michael Sheen

Prince Charles is the only member of the Royal Family who ever left Cinderella for the Ugly Duckling.
        - Des Hanafin

An elderly nun who was once photographed shaking hands with the late Princess of Wales has died.

- Private Eye Apparently Diana was assassinated by the provisional wing of Interflora in an effort to boost sales. - Richard Skeen Mr Creutzfeldt and Mr Jakob: No-one had ever heard of these two eminent medical men until someone had the bright idea of feeding dead sheep to alive cattle. Now their disease is on everybody's lips...
        - The Northern Echo [1]

Are you mad? Do you mean make myself unemployed?! Have you any idea what the government do to unemployed people darling!

- Absolutely Fabulous I said it three times actually. - Edward Heath, when asked if he said 'Rejoice, Rejoice' on hearing of Margaret Thatcher's downfall "The more you mocked Thatcher for being tough and ruthless, the more ruthless she became."
        - a Spitting Image writer recalls Margaret Thatcher's invulnerability to satire

Report accuses Royal Opera House of "Arrogance and Elitism". Report further alleges that Pope is Catholic. Report further claims that bears may well indeed defecate in the woods.
        - Private Eye [1]

Enter the Great Jaffa Cakes Debate. If these jam-filled concoctions were cakes they would escape VAT. Because they are soft and not hard, they were deemed to be cakes and therefore VAT free. In 1974 Master of the Universe asked the VAT tribunal to exempt him from VAT because he is the Supreme Authority in the Universe and therefore should not pay it. He lost his case.
        - BBC News Website [1]

William Hague, the world's favourite hairline.
        - Rory Bremner [1]

They're called Virgin Trains because they don't go all the way.
        - Simon Hoggart, "The Guardian" [1]

"Never go to a public lavatory in London. I always pee in the street. You may be fined a few pounds for committing a nuisance, but in a public lavatory you risk two years in prison because a policeman in plain clothes says you smiled at him."
        - Derek Jackson, with some advice to Mark Steyn

"I was out there for 12 days. There are more beggars in Soho than there are in Kabul."
        - Neil Morrissey, on raising money for the No Strings aid charity, which works in Afghanistan

"Can we move offices? To get here I have to pass eight Big Issue sellers, twelve illegal immigrants with babies and the Salvation Army asking for clothes."
        - Seen in the Metro's "This Life" cartoon

A high-pitched alarm which cannot be heard by adults has been hijacked by schoolchildren to create ringtones so they can get away with using phones in class. Techno-savvy pupils have adapted the Mosquito alarm, used to drive teenage gangs out of shopping centres. The alarm, which has been praised by police, is highly effective because its ultra-high sound can be heard only by youths but not by most people over 20. Schoolchildren have recorded the sound, which they named Teen Buzz, and spread it from phone to phone via text messages and Bluetooth technology. Now they can receive calls and texts during lessons without teachers having the faintest idea what is going on.
        - The Metro

A drunk feel asleep and got trapped inside a church in the UK. Unable to get out, he rang SOS in Morse code on the church bells and was promptly rescued.
        - Dublin's Evening Herald picks its hero of the week

You have city centre pubs where men go to meet girls, not realising that all girls in city centre pubs have thighs like tug boats and morals that would surprise a zoo animal.
        - Jeremy Clarkson, raging against the decline of the traditional English pub, "The Times"

The fact is that Britain is the most warlike nation on earth. In the history of armed combat, we are the only democracy to have declared war on another democracy - England versus Finland in the second world war, in case you’re interested - and we’re always at the front of the queue when Johnny Foreigner gets a bit uppity. Who stood up to the Kaiser? Who stood up to Adolf? And let’s not forget the Argies. What other country would have sent its fleet halfway round the world and lost 250 men to protect a flock of sheep and some oil that might or might not be there? We’re still at it.
        - Jeremy Clarkson, "The London Times"

"In Burton's day they [soldiers] were itching to get into the fray. Now it is the opposite. They are always whining about the dangers of being killed. Oh my God, they are such wimps now! The whole point of being in the Army is wanting to get killed, wanting to test yourself to the limits. Now you have to fly 15,000ft above the war zone to avoid getting hit. I don't think there is any point in having wars if that's how you're going to behave. It's pathetic. All this whining!"
        - Rupert Everett, presenting a documentary on Victorian explorer Richard Burton

It has long been established that the Eurovision Song Contest is the most distressing and wilfully masochistic activity that Europe can inflict upon itself.
        - Editorial from "The London Times"

"Who knows what hellish future lies ahead? ...Actually I do. I've seen the rehearsals."
        - Terry Wogan, opening the 2007 Eurovision for the BBC

"Don't start drinking before the fifth song."
        - Terry Wogan's advice to Graham Norton on presenting the Eurovision song contest

While some regard it as an essential celebration of continental talent, others see it as an equally unmissable parade of the reasons some countries do not normally produce international stars.
        - BBCi diplomatically describes the Eurovision Song Contest

Not only do we mock the Eurovision Song Contest itself, but we lampoon other European countries for taking it so seriously, and they all retaliate by voting for each other every year and ignoring our (sometimes) palpably superior songs. Accordingly, Britain has become the Millwall FC of Eurovision: we are hated, we know we are hated, and we pretend we are happy to be hated. It's actually quite a sad state of affairs.
        - Marcus Berkmann, from his Telegraph review of "Nul Points"

The Eurovision Song Contest has been very helpful in identifying the East European countries that didn't exist the last time it was on.
        - Sinead Ryan, on the educational value of the contest, in Dublin's "Evening Herald"

Ann Widdecombe: an apology. In an item yesterday, we referred disapprovingly to a remark made by Ms Widdecombe to my so-called rival on the Telegraph, concerning a male acquaintance going to "pussy heaven." We now accept that Ms Widdecombe was in fact referring to her cat, Carruthers, who recently passed away. We are greatly distressed by this misunderstanding.
        - The Guardian

Knight in tarnished armour, married to dragon, seeks maiden for escapes and jousting sessions."
        - Advertisement in "Private Eye"

Everyone wants to be young, beautiful and rich. I don't say that scornfully: there are worse things to want to be. But that's why, for example, people don't begrudge Kate Moss how much she earns for a day's work but will fulminate over the take-home pay of some fat, old Water Board exec.
        - Nigella Lawson, "The Observer"

The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced the winner of a competition to solve the conundrum at the end of the iconic UK film The Italian Job. In the film, the robbers' coach almost drives off a cliff, ending up balanced precariously on the edge, with the gang at one end and their gold at the other. The RSC asked for ideas to get the gold off the coach before it tips over. John Godwin from Surrey came up with the winning idea which involves draining fuel from the vehicle.
        - seen on The BBC Website

Why do Britons keep stabbing each other in August? Why do seaside hotels burn down in August? Why do children disappear in August, examinations get easier and Heathrow become the world's worst airport? The answer lies not in reality but in appearance. News editors abhor a vacuum. Half an hour of airtime and 10 pages of news must be filled each day, whatever the weather.
        - Simon Jenkins, "The Guardian"

Nowhere in politics is there such a mismatch between public and private realm as in transport. Everyone on the M6 last weekend would have agreed with Transport Minister Alasdair Darling’s reported hatred of cars. They too wanted drivers off the roads and on to public transport. Go to it, Mr Darling, they cried in unison, get rid of all those cars. Except, of course, their own. Other people’s cars are traffic. My car is the outward essence of my being. It is my hat, stick and cane. It embodies my freedom as a citizen and my right as a democrat. My car is my soul in flight.
       - Simon Jenkins, "A Transport Policy That Leaves Me At The Wheel", The Times.

An Englishman's car is his castle on wheels.
        - Simon Jenkins

The real wonder of air rage is that so many passengers behave so well. The wonder is that human beings, treated like cattle by the chain of suppliers who fight any attempt to improve consumer rights, still behave mostly like, well, human beings.
        - Medb Ruane, "The Irish Independent"

Almost all large companies have call centres now. They are lean and efficient. They cut costs, boost profits. They are also, according to the Future Foundation, the leading cause of frustration in the British Isles, topping rush-hour traffic and delayed trains as the UK’s most stressful experience... When I opened a NatWest account, I would routinely ring the branch and talk to someone who knew me, but that was before the advent of call centres, which enabled banks to shave backroom costs by up to 30 per cent and boost profits to their present record levels. The only thing rising faster than bank profits (up 15 per cent in 2005) is complaints about bank service, up 50 per cent in the same year, according to the Banking Code Standards Board. One gathers that many of these complaints involve call centres, and that bank bosses are concerned. In a better world, banks would simply improve their service, but some have instead turned to 'queueing theory', a branch of mathematics that enables you to calculate how much torture a customer can take.
        - Rian Malan, "The Spectator"

A judgment handed down by the Appeal Court last month begins with these heartening words: ‘It is one of the glories of this country that every now and then one of its citizens is prepared to take a stand against the big battalions of government or industry.’ The case in question is that of Lisa Ferguson. Miss Ferguson switched her gas supplier from British Gas to nPower. She informed British Gas, but they continued to bombard her with bill after bill, though she owed them no money. They threatened to cut off her supply, start legal proceedings against her and report her to the credit rating agencies. She wrote twice to the Chairman of British Gas, receiving no reply. In desperation, she sued British Gas for unlawful harassment. As Lord Justice Jacob put it ‘British Gas says... that it is perfectly all right for it to treat consumers in this way, at least if it is all just done by computer.’ It tried to prevent the case going to trial. Miss Ferguson persisted, and the court found that her claim must be heard. Just as I learnt about this case, I heard from yet another reader who has been intimidated by TV Licensing because, not having a television, he does not possess a television licence. Mr G tells me that TV Licensing have two postcodes, one of them inaccurate, for his property. The computer ignores his letters of explanation and keeps demanding money for the postcode which is wrong. When he complains, TV Licensing tells him that he, not it, must sort it out with the Post Office, which provides the database, and then puts the phone down on him. The judgment should strike fear into the BBC and all others who think that they can blame computers and go on menacing with impunity.
        - Charles Moore, "The Spectator"

"I was depressed last night so I called Lifeline. I got a call center in Pakistan. When I told them I was feeling suicidal, they got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck."
        - The Dry Bones Blog, on Outsourcing

Yesterday, I tried to call Northwest Airlines’ customer-service line over a couple of hours. I couldn’t get through. The recording said, "Due to a high volume of calls" Well, you could put it that way — "Due to a high volume of calls". Or you could say, "Due to an insufficient number of employees..."
        - Jay Nordlinger, "National Review"

"Most big companies don't like you very much, except hotels, airlines and Microsoft, which don't like you at all."
        - Bill Bryson [1]

Like most parents, I’ve been stumped by homework, the big questions, such as: 'What is the point of geography - the pilot always knows where we are going?'. Answer: 'If you didn’t know any geography, people would think you were an American, and you wouldn’t be able to put them right because you wouldn’t know where they live.'
        - AA Gill, "The Times"

What is the English for 'Refreshing towelette'?
        - Mary Wakefield, "The Spectator"

Only in England is the perversion of language regarded as a victory for democracy.
        - Anthony Burgess

"I'm not from around these parts. I'm from a little place called England: we used to run the world before you."
        - Ricky Gervais, Golden Globe acceptance speech for "The Office"

"We may not be the creme de la creme, but we are the creme de la scum."
        - John Mortimer describing the British press, quoted in "The Spectator"

"An undercover reporter for a Sunday tabloid set out recently to do an expose on a British neo-Nazi group. He managed to befriend some of them well enough to be invited out to the pub. Unfortunately, they rumbled that he was a journalist rather quickly when he offered to buy the drinks... then asked the barman if he could have a receipt."
        - Seen on PopB*

The streets, at least in this part of town, seemed impossibly clean in comparison to London. The public telephones were unvandalised. For a London telephone booth to look like that it would have to be guarded around the clock by the SAS.
        - Clive James, "Postcard from Washington" in "The Observer"

In between the Queen and the First Lady, Nancy Reagan, sat Tony Richardson, looking very calm. Later on it emerged that this was because, having not been apprised of the placement until he was about to sit down, he had died of fright. To have expired was to be fortunate.
        - Clive James, commenting on the Queen's visit to America in 1983, "The Observer"

"Nationwide" featured an amazing collection of apprentice impersonators. From all over Britain, schoolchildren materialised via local studios to give us their imitations of the mighty. There were at least three uncannily accurate Margaret Thatchers, their eyelids fatigued with condescension and their voices swooping and whining like dive-bombers.
        - Clive James, from "Carry On Creating" in "The Crystal Bucket"

We find celebrities entertaining but rather ludicrous and in the end self-serving and we pay next to no regard to their political affiliations. This is a healthy perspective and stops us taking seriously the obsessions of people such as David Icke (the world is controlled by a cabal of giant alien lizards) and Yoko Ono (if we all stopped fighting there’d be, like, no war ever). Down the social scale a little — moving right along to the trailer park — Jordan, that attractive young woman with the frightening breasts, stood for election in Manchester in 2001 and polled just 713 votes. You would bonk Jordan but you certainly wouldn’t vote for her. That’s the British view and it seems to me an eminently sensible one.
        - Rod Liddle, "The Times"

You seldom see a hat, apart from the vile, proletarian, gum-chewing, shouting-in-the-street, bum-cleft, baggy-trousered, back-to-front, I-am-an-inarticulate-moron, why-don't-you-punch-my-lights-out- and-choke-me-on-the-cord-of-my-iPod baseball cap, which is such a negligible item, worn by such negligible 'people', that it is impossible to have strong feelings about it.
        - Michael Bywater, "Lost Worlds"

"I’ve just thumped a bloke."
"Oh. Do the press know?"
"Why did you thump him?"
"Because he was a prat."
"John, if we all went round thumping people we thought were prats..."
        - John Prescott (Deputy PM) informing Alastair Campbell of his 'punch' in the 2001 election

It is time for England to abolish the empty, miserable New Year holiday and leave it to the Scots. But why are we forced by law and noise to join in this cold, meaningless child-unfriendly festival which happens a few days after Christmas but completely fails to revive its warmth and spirit? If it were not there, the country would have come back to life days ago, instead of looking like the backdrop for a zombie movie. And then there are the fireworks. Imagine if squads of Father Christmases, trained in martial arts, forced their way into the houses of militant atheists on Christmas Eve and compelled them to sing carols. People would object. But the "New Year" fanatics make us all join in with their curious fun... Sleep is now banned. As the year turns, my neighbourhood sounds as if the Serbian and Iraqi armies are making a joint revenge attack on Britain. Staccato, high-pitched detonations and enormous landmine-sized booms erupt at random intervals from all directions. Missiles trailing sparks bounce off the roof or douse themselves in the birdbath. This year, the firework maniacs scored a direct hit on an electricity sub-station and caused a power cut in my suburb.
        - Peter Hitchens, "The Mail On Sunday"


One problem that recurs more and more frequently these days in books and plays and movies is the inability of people to communicate with the people they love: husbands and wives who can't communicate, children who can't communicate with their parents, and so on. And the characters in these books and plays and so on -- and in real life, I might add -- spend hours bemoaning the fact that they
can't communicate. I feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up.

        - Tom Lehrer

To me, a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We're all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there is a problem the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.
        - Jerry Seinfeld

Harold Joseph Berman was born on Feb. 13, 1918, in Hartford. Under a theory he enunciated in 2006 for The Fulton County Daily Report, an Atlanta legal and business newspaper, he said that he, like all children, had been a law student from a young age. “A child says, ‘It’s my toy.’ That’s property law,” he said. “A child says, ‘You promised me.’ That’s contract law. A child says, ‘He hit me first.’ That’s criminal law. A child says, ‘Daddy said I could.’ That’s constitutional law.”
        - From a New York Times obituary

"If you say 'Good Morning' in America and it's five past twelve you end up with a lawsuit."
        - Bernie Ecclestone

He who can, does; he who cannot, sues.
        - George Bernard Shaw

Newspaper : A device unable to distinguish between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.

- George Bernard Shaw It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.

        - Jerry Seinfeld

The latest report says the results of an investigation will be released in three or four weeks. That’s a long time for fruit flies and the press.

        - Denis Boyles, "No News is Bad News", "National Review"

I've been trying to remember the last time I wrote a letter with an actual pen. Everyone should write letters, I used to say. Now look at me. Anything longer than 'Happy Birthday' and I get cramp.

        - Damien Owens, "The Irish Independent"

A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works.

- Anon Considered in its entirety, psychoanalysis won't do. It is an end product, moreover, like a dinosaur or a zeppelin; no better theory can ever be erected on its ruins, which will remain for ever one of the saddest and strangest of all landmarks in the history of twentieth century thought. - Sir Peter Medawar Brainwashing was to become one of the great paranoid mythologies of the cold-war years. But, in fact, it is no more than a consoling myth... Subliminal advertising is at the laughable end of the scale. This is based on an experiment in a cinema that seemed to show that frames flashed on the screen, so fleetingly that they could not consciously be seen, would make people buy more Coca-Cola and popcorn. For years, it was blithely accepted as an established truth that such subliminal ads worked. In fact, the experiment had never been done and all attempts to repeat it failed. It just doesn’t work.
        - Bryan Appleyard, reviewing "Brainwash" by Dominic Streatfeild

Heroin wasn't around then. It was introduced as a "safe" alternative to morphine, just as methadone was then introduced as a "safe" alternative to heroin. As usual, the drug problem had to be continuously invented, or there would not be one.

- Christopher Pettus "In California, it is illegal to smoke marijuana unless you have your hair cut at least once a month."

        - One observer's view of haphazard enforcement in the 1970s

The Intelligentsia (scientists apart) are losing all touch with, and all influence over, nearly the whole human race. Our most esteemed poets and critics are read by our most esteemed critics and poets (who don't usually like them much) and nobody else takes any notice. An increasing number of highly literate people simply ignore what the 'Highbrows' are doing. It says nothing to them. The Highbrows in return ignore and insult them.

- C.S. Lewis Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.

        - Tom Stoppard

I have learned how to drive. I watched you. Green means go, red means stop. Yellow means go very fast.

- An alien learns how to drive "Where's the death book?"
"It's not a death book, it's a medical encyclopedia."
"It's a death book, for each disease it lists a life expectancy."

        - Steve and Susan, "Coupling"

"Reporters are faced with the daily choice of painstakingly researching stories or writing whatever people tell them. Both approaches pay the same."

        - Scott Adams, "The Dilbert Principle"

A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.

        - Robert Frost

Jet lag is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo.

        - Linda Perret

Courtroom : A place where Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot would be equals, with the betting odds favoring Judas.

        - HL Mencken

I've gone into hundreds of fortune-tellers' parlors, and have been told thousands of things, but nobody ever told me I was a policewoman getting ready to arrest her.

        - N.Y.C. detective

If the media conglomerates could, through only their own labors, turn a particular product into an overnight sensation, they'd do it for everything they produce.

        - Wiley Hall, on the limits of advertising, "Baltimore City Paper"

I have been saying for several years now that it is no longer possible to do business by phone. Since the web can be even more dangerous and business ignores snail mail entirely, the only way to deal with your problems is in person. It is very time-consuming, but it is difficult to ignore a human body sitting in your office. So we have come full circle in 100 years of technological advance. The amazing thing to me is how much trouble these same companies will go to in order to get your business in the first place. Rather dumb to then run you off by their terrible business practices.

        - from a letter to "National Review"

What are the marks of a sick culture? It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn't the whole population.

- Robert A. Heinlein, "Friday" Why hate someone just because of their skin color? When if you take the time to get to know them, there are so many more valid reasons to really loathe someone. - Dennis Miller. I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally. -W. C. Fields If your laws dont include me, then they don't apply to me. - Unknown That's not a chip on my shoulder, that's your foot on my neck. - Malcolm X It is infinitely better to transplant a heart than to bury it so it can be devoured by worms. - Christiaan Barnard Medicine, the only profession that labors incessantly to destroy the reason for its own existence. - James Bryce Racism was not a problem on the Discworld, because - what with trolls and dwarfs and so on : Speciesism was more interesting. Black and white lived in perfect harmony and ganged up on green. - Tery Pratchett,"Witches Abroad" If you can persuade your customer to tattoo your brand name on their chest, they’re probably not likely to switch brands. - Indiana University professor (re: Harley-Davidson owners) The typical modern extra-terrestrial reported in America in the 80s & 90s is small, with disproportionately large head and eyes, underdeveloped facial features, no visible eyebrows or genitals, and smooth grey skin. It looks to me eerily like a foetus in roughly the twelfth week of pregnancy, or a starving child. Why so many of us might be obsessing on foetuses or malnourished children, and imagining them attacking and sexually manipulating us, is an interesting question. - Carl Sagan, "The Demon Haunted World", p.127 In a case that raises unprecedented ethical, medical and legal questions, a 62-year-old retired French school teacher and her younger brother have admitted to test-tube incest leading to the birth of test-tube twins.
The story of Jeanine, Robert and their month-old twins is the kind of story you have to explain to yourself twice to understand it. Three times to take it in. And ten times to grasp the full madness of it.

        - Le Monde, France.

The new sandwich affirms both the technical superiority America enjoys as a consequence of its traditions of intellectual and economic freedom as well as the enduring willingness of the country to see those liberties preserved, wherever the threat requires countering. Even in the smallest details, the Americans are showing that they mean business.

        - The Times, "America shows the way with its indestructible sandwich", 11.04.02


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