Letter B

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The salary of the chief executive of the large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.

JK Galbraith

This one just never goes out of fashion, or perhaps "All the bucks stop here". It's from "Annals of an Abiding Liberal".

Reading habits, like sleeping habits, are individual and varied. I like to read four or five books at once. It's like being at a horse race — only one or two of the books might win. I don't feel committed to finishing every book I start, and, in a way, isn't it the writer's fault if I'm not pulled along? I'm an inveterate book buyer, but like many collectors I don't always think the proof of the pudding is in the reading. I've got some beautiful volumes that I will probably never read. Do I really want to read all the books of Sir Walter Scott or von Krafft-Ebing? I just like owning them.

Lennard J. Davis

Writing a piece called "Huckleberry Who?" in The Chronicle Review 23 March 2007.

Actually, it is not impossible to imagine, in this age of so many billionaires, that competing billionaires would want competing papers. That you can't be an effective or prideful billionaire without your own paper.

Of course, the Internet is a bitch. On the other hand, the Internet is an inefficient way for a big man to throw his weight around. A newspaper really is the much more effective bully pulpit.

Michael Wolff

Writing a piece called "Billionaires and Broadsheets" in Vanity Fair February 2007.

I have found some of the best reasons I ever had for remaining at the bottom simply by looking at the men at the top.

Frank Colby

I harvested this from an obituary of a bookseller in the Guardian. The subject had by then kept it as a yellowing clipping for many years.

I have never understood this liking for war. It panders to instincts already catered for within the scope of any respectable domestic establishment.

Alan Bennett

Can you imagine it? The late Tory MP Alan Clark didn't think Alan Bennett (from whose wonderful play "40 years on" this comes) is a good writer?! What was that about horse-whipping...

When a man wantonly destroys one of the works of man we call him a vandal. When he wantonly destroys one of the works of God we call him a sportsman.

Joseph Wood Krutch

Why's it under the letter "B"? It occurs to me I would have made a lousy cave man until hungry enough.

The susceptibility to corruption amongst human beings almost certainly fits into a bell distribution curve, and like all other human characteristics, there are bound to be some individuals in possession of the knowledge, apparatus and expertise of nuclear weaponry who are corruptible, and would sell their expertise and hardware to an unprincipled buyer...

Roy Calne, FRS

In Too Many People (1994).

It's time someone praised and defended reckless teenage girls and young women who behave badly, dress provocatively, engage in risky sex, and get pregnant. They are the normal ones. The rest of us are the deviants. They are behaving in the most natural way. The rest of us are mutants.

There is nothing wrong with pelvic display, push-up bras, Gosford miniskirts,1 spray-on jeans, low-cut tops, bare legs, bare arms, bare ankles, G-strings or even buttock cleavage, providing the displayer is young enough to get away with it. A woman's body is at its fertility peak between the ages of 17 and 23. So when young women advertise or flaunt their sexuality they are being driven by a force far stronger than the Judeo-Christian ethic. They are driven by the power of peak fertility and a million years of evolutionary biology. Nature has programmed them for pregnancy, genetic diversity and keeping the species going. A big job.

Sexually active teenage girls, and sexually promiscuous women of any age, carry the greatest social burden of judgements, punishments, restrictions and risks because we haven't got the child-care equation right. These women are just doing their job. They are real, while the rest of the equation is artificial. Society is the collective weight of traditions, conventions, laws, habits, fears, tribes, taboos and technologies, permeated by a Judeo-Christian ethic dominated by men and designed to curb female sexual power. Our norms are also dominated by the ideology of materialism that is moving women further and further towards unnatural behaviour, pressuring them to have babies later rather than sooner.

Paul Sheehan

From In praise of female sexuality in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 2005.


1  What on earth is a Gosford miniskirt? A correspondent suggests (January 2009) it is in fact an extremely short skirt; "as short as a suspended sentence", as Rumpole remarked. He goes on to add: I think it is Australian in origin. There is a seaside resort in New South Wales called The Entrance. The town of Gosford is very close to it. Thanks, Roger!