What John Mandel Finds Interesting, Volume II

"How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?"

-- Logan Pearsall Smith

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The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was a wealthy Viennese Jew, an aristocrat, an atheist, bisexual. A stutterer. Marked or hurt in some way. Extremely intelligent, sick-intelligent. There is a story that he and Adolf Hitler were schoolmates when they were boys. It may be apocryphal, but I want it to be true. It’s a love story; in it, Adolf, a lonesome, sullen boy at war with his father and the rest of the world, saw Ludwig as a spoiled, preening blueblood, but was attracted to him anyway; a boyhood crush is implied. Adolf sought Ludwig’s friendship. They became friends, something happened, and the friendless runt Adolf was rejected by the spectacular Ludwig. Little Ludwig went on to be an eminent philosopher, a luminary, and little Adolf, in his shame and rage, went on to visit mad revenge upon Ludwig’s people.

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Oxford dons had a tradition of inventing Latin slang. The word conundrum is one, considered pseudo-Latin. This was apparently very funny to them.

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A list of what successive steps to take if your camel lies down in the middle of the desert and won’t go on:

Shout at it.

If it refuses to move, hit it with a stick.

If that doesn’t work, plunge a knife into its hump.

If that doesn’t work, light a fire under it.