Bertrand Russell on the Secret of Happiness

By Maria Popova (

In my darkest hours, what has saved me again and again is some action of unselfing — some instinctive wakefulness to an aspect of the world other than myself: a helping hand extended to someone else’s struggle, the dazzling galaxy just discovered millions of lightyears away, the cardinal trembling in the tree outside my window. We know this by its mirror-image — to contact happiness of any kind is “to be dissolved into something complete and great,” something beyond the bruising boundaries of the ego. The attainment of happiness is then less a matter of pursuit than of surrender — to the world’s wonder, ready as it comes.

That is what the Nobel-winning philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (May 18, 1872–February 2, 1970) explores in The Conquest of Happiness (public library) — the 1930 classic that gave us his increasingly urgent wisdom on the vital role of boredom in flourishing.

Bertrand Russell

Russell writes:

The world is vast and our own powers are limited. If all our happiness is bound up entirely in our personal circumstances it is difficult not to demand of life more than it has to give. And to demand too much is the surest way of getting even less than is possible. The man* who can forget his worries by means of a genuine interest in, say, the Council of Trent, or the life history of stars, will find that, when he returns from his excursion into the impersonal world, he has acquired a poise and calm which enable him to deal with his worries in the best way, and he will in the meantime have experienced a genuine even if temporary happiness.

In a sentiment he would expand in his final years as he contemplated what makes a fulfilling life, he adds:

The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.

Couple this fragment of the wholly nourishing The Conquest of Happiness with Kurt Vonnegut on the secret of happiness, then revisit Russell on the key to the good lifehow to heal a divided world, and his magnificent Nobel Prize acceptance speech about the four desires driving all human behavior.

Charles Dodgson publishes his first work as Lewis Carroll.

On March 1, 1856, Lewis Carroll was born—at least in print. On that date, mathematics scholar Charles Lutwidge Dodgson used the pseudonym for the first time, to sign his poem “Solitude,” which was published in a short-lived comic journal called The Train, edited by Edmund Yates.

In fact, it was Yates who chose the name Lewis Carroll. Until then, Dodgson had been using “B.B.” to sign his creative work, but Yates rejected it. Dodgson suggested “Dares,” derived from his birthplace, Daresbury, but Yates didn’t like that either. So Dodgson came back with more options: Edgar Cuthwellis, Edgar U.C. Westhill (both of which were anagrams of his name) and Lewis Carroll, which he had arrived at by translating his first two names into Latin and back again, and then reversing them. So Charles Lutwidge became Carolus Ludovicus became Lewis Carroll. Yates, obviously, picked the latter option.

Though he was open about his pen name among his friends, Dodgson refused to acknowledge it publicly, even as Carroll’s popularity grew. He actually carried around a printed leaflet—which he called his “Stranger circular”—to hand to people who began to approach him about Lewis Carroll. He also used it to return strangers’ mail addressed to him as Carroll. It said:

Mr. Dodgson is so frequently addressed by strangers on the quite unauthorized assumption that he claims, or at any rate acknowledges the authorship of books not published under his name, that he has found it necessary to print this, once for all, as an answer to all such applications. He neither claims nor acknowledges any connection with any pseudonym or with any book that is not published under his own name.

Sorry, Charles. We’ve all got your number now.


Tarot Card for February 27: The Ace of Disks

The Ace of Disks

The Ace of Disks marks, on the everyday level, the start of a new project, which is likely to be successful. So it will come up to show a new job, or a new business venture. Usually this will be the sort of project that seems to continuously keep on growing, with each level of attainment producing – almost of itself – the next step in the journey.

Sometimes the Ace will come up to indicate a sudden change of material fortune, or a windfall – though either of these would have to be quite substantial to invoke the Ace. Aces are always big influences, marking the beginning of something new and important. So if we see the card coming up to represent a sudden input of funds, expect this to cause major changes in the querent’s life.

On a more spiritual level, this card relates to the Earth, and to the appreciation of Nature. It might mark a period where we draw closer to environmental issues, or where we engage in a period of study, contemplation and alignment with Earth forces.

One thing that we often miss, when considering spiritual development, is the way that each development grows out of the last. Anyone who has been involved in the search for spiritual truth will already have experienced the weirdly coincidental manner in which spiritual opportunities and teachers present themselves at the relevant stage in our growth.

There’s a saying – ‘The right teacher only appears when the student is ready’. It is as though we grow spiritually from the inside, the same way that trees do. And in so doing, maybe we develop inner rings – just like a tree’s trunk. The outer ring, just under the bark could not exist without all of the others it encircles.

We’re basically the same. The topic that we are exploring today has grown from all of the earlier topics we have looked into. Our experience is formed in layers, each of which is inter-dependent with the earlier ones. The Ace of Disks relates very closely with this method of human development – it shows us the way we grow. And warns us against trying to skip any of the stages!

The Ace of Disks

(via and Alan Blackman)

How Malleable Is Reality? with Cynthia Sue Larson

New Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove Aug 11, 2020 Cynthia Sue Larson, MBA, hosts Living the Quantum Dream on the DreamVisions7 radio network. She is author of Reality Shifts: When Consciousness Changes the Physical World, also Quantum Jumps and The Aura Advantage. Here she describes unusual case histories she has been collecting for the past twenty years involving disruptions of normal reality. This includes objects suddenly appearing out of nowhere, objects disappearing and then returning, people traveling long distances in an impossibly short amount of time, and instances when masses of people remember events that did not occur in this timeline. This latter phenomenon is known as the Mandela Effect. She believes that these events cannot simply be attributed to faulty memory. New Thinking Allowed host, Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD, is author of The Roots of Consciousness, Psi Development Systems, and The PK Man. Between 1986 and 2002 he hosted and co-produced the original Thinking Allowed public television series. He is the recipient of the only doctoral diploma in “parapsychology” ever awarded by an accredited university (University of California, Berkeley, 1980). (Recorded on July 7, 2020)

What’s the best way to survive an earthquake? Protect your democracy

Çınar Oskay

Feb. 26, 2023 (

A motorcyclist rides past buildings destroyed by earthquakes in Samandag, Turkey, on Wednesday.
A motorcyclist rides past buildings destroyed by earthquakes in Samandag, Turkey, on Wednesday.Emrah Gurel/Associated Press

Everyone in Turkey is familiar with the saying: “Earthquakes don’t kill, buildings do.” 

In 1999, my country was hit by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake near the northwestern city of Izmit. The destruction was catastrophic. Over 18,000 people lost their lives according to the official count, although some put the figure closer to 50,000. At the time, I was living about 65 miles away in Istanbul, but I still remember waking up and running out of our trembling building with my mother. People ate and slept on their sofas in the streets for days, scared of the aftershocks. It was the biggest trauma in our collective memory.

When I moved to the Bay Area last summer, I knew I was trading one earthquake zone for another. But I also knew, in the event of a massive tectonic shift underneath my feet, I would have a much better chance at survival in my new home. The highest death toll from a California earthquake in over a century was the 7.8 magnitude San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It claimed around 3,000 lives. The 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake killed 63 in 1989.

Ever since the earthquake in Izmit, Turkey has been an earthquake-obsessed nation. On Turkish television, there are endless debates about the inadequacy of precautions and warnings from earth scientists about the Big One — a possible earthquake in Istanbul, a city with a population of nearly 16 million, or 19 San Franciscos. The conversations are so constant in our public consciousness that some of our earthquake experts have become national celebrities — much like Anthony Fauci has in the U.S. because of the pandemic.

But none of it mattered this month. On Feb. 6, Turkey’s southern and central regions were hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake followed nine hours later by a 7.6 magnitude one. The official death toll is nearly 44,000 people with several thousand more dead in neighboring Syria. With bodies still to be recovered and 1.5 million Turks now homeless in the middle of winter, that number is expected to rise.

Living in Palo Alto, all I could do in the past few weeks was watch the news in pain and anger. Turkish television showed expanses of rubble with people tucked in between seeking what little shelter they could find. And yet, every so often, in the midst of the destruction, there would be a building still standing. In one instance, a camera panned from an obliterated building to a home and kitchen store on the ground floor of a still standing building across the street; even the porcelain plates on display remained perfectly intact.

The imagery was as damning as it was clear: The carnage before us today wasn’t inevitable and the responsibility for it falls squarely on the shoulders of Turkish President Recep Erdogan and the undemocratic, kleptocratic regime he created.

The lesson for my new neighbors in the United States: corruption and the erosion of democracy aren’t simply injustices, they’re deadly. 

Since the Izmit earthquake, Turks have been paying a Special Communication Tax, known as the earthquake tax. Framed as funding for disaster prevention and relief, this tax has generated an estimated $38 billion dollars since its creation over 20 years ago. The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, the ruling political party co-founded by Erdogan, has led the national government since 2002, with Erdogan first elected prime minister in 2003.

But in 2011, after a series of earthquakes hit the eastern part of the country, then-Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said that the revenue had been spent on highways, railways and other infrastructure. People were angry but there was no political fallout. A few months earlier, AKP had won its third consecutive election and the government was increasingly becoming authoritarian. Accountability became less of a concern and corruption in the construction industry, the backbone of AKP funding and support, became rampant.

The death and suffering we are seeing today are the results.

For years, many contractors used cheap building materials and got around abiding by building safety regulations. In 2019, Erdogan boasted about allowing contractors to bypass building safety codes in the city of Kahramanmaras, near the epicenter of the recent earthquake, in order to build housing cheaper and faster.

But corruption isn’t the only byproduct of authoritarianism. A lack of meritocracy within the government goes hand-in-hand. During the Izmit earthquake in 1999, the government failed in many ways, but at least there were strong civilian rescue agencies — the Turkish Red Crescent and the Arama Kurtarma, or AKUT. These two civilian organizations worked with the Turkish military to lead the recovery effort. But after years of an authoritarian rule more concerned with consolidating its own power than being an effective government, even these civilian organizations have been eclipsed.

In 2009, Erdogan formed the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, known as AFAD, a new agency to be the coordinating body for the Turkish military and non-governmental organizations. By this time, experienced bureaucrats and secular Turks were being replaced by ruling-party loyalists across the government. By 2018, Erdogan abolished the parliamentary system and through a referendum, became the sole authority over the country as its president. His regime also installed a theology professor with no experience in disaster response to lead AFAD. Nasuh Mahruki, the founder of AKUT, was pushed out because of his secularist views, and the Red Crescent, once a symbol of national unity, is now seen as a shady, polarizing institution.

Turkish media has reported that in the first days after this month’s earthquakes, many governors hesitated to launch rescue efforts before getting AFAD approval. The military, by far the country’s most organized force, is trained and equipped for such operations. But they were nowhere near the rubble for days. Instead, the government sent religious workers, employees of an over-financed Presidency of Religious Affairs. When people were still alive, buried underneath the rubble, these religious men chanted salâ, a public announcement of death, from the mosques. Thousands died listening to their own funeral prayer.  

The government has touted its own fundraising efforts on behalf of the recent earthquake victims. But of the $6 billion raised during a seven-hour television drive, nearly three-fourths of the funds raised came from government agencies, including the Central Bank. It was a spectacle of giving people’s money to the people. As for Turks themselves, with little trust in the government, they’re donating to efforts led by former rock singer Haluk Levent and Youtube star Oğuzhan Uğur, both of whom were on the ground immediately after the earthquake.

In the three weeks since the earthquakes, not a single politician has resigned.

Turkey’s presidential elections are scheduled for May 14. Before the earthquake, polling showed Erdogan was already behind every potential rival. Now, his defeat seems even closer. There has been some talk from Erdogan loyalists about delaying the elections indefinitely but just as Americans rejected a similar attempt to postpone their election in 2020 from their kleptocratic former president, so too will the Turkish people. 

The only thing left of Turkish democracy is our elections. This year is the 100th year of our republic. If we cannot rescue our democracy, we might spend the rest of our lives listening to the funeral prayers of our beautiful, beloved country.

Americans would be wise to pay attention to our example. 

Çınar Oskay is a journalist and documentary filmmaker from Turkey. He is a 2023 John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University.

Written By Çınar Oskay

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Word-Built World: ship



[ ship ] 


to take an interest in or hope for a romantic relationship between (fictional characters or famous people), whether or not the romance actually exists: I’m shipping for those guys—they would make a great couple!


The verb ship, originally meaning “to discuss or portray a romantic couple in fiction, especially in a serial” is a shortening of (relation)ship and dates only from 1996

{back to me} I’m quite amazed at this usage. I mean, what about:

Ship: verb (1) shipped; shipping; ships. transitive verb. : to place or receive on board a ship for transportation by water.4 days ago

Link: › …

But to be fair to Webster, they have this new usage along with a number of others. 

I just don’t read enough reviews of romance novels. From today’s NY Times Book Review, in a column on such novels: “[a certain book is especially] recommended for anyone who ships Janie and Gregory from “Abbott Elementary.”

Word built world, indeed!


(Submitted by Michael Kelly, H.W.)

Rupert Spira on the objects and selves in our life

Individual objects and selves are appearances of the one reality, the one infinite, indivisible being. All that is necessary is to understand this, feel this and lead a life to the best of our ability in a way that is consistent with and an expression of this felt understanding.

–Rupert Spira

Rupert Spira (born March 13, 1960) is an English spiritual teacher, philosopher and author of the Direct Path based in Oxford, UK. Wikipedia


This Victorian scholar was way ahead of his time on gay issues, but he treated his boyfriends like dirt

By Livia Gershon February 25, 2023 at 10:02am (

This article was originally published on JSTOR Daily under a different headline and is being reprinted here with permission from the editor. Support JSTOR Daily by joining its new membership program on Patreon today.

In many times and places, people who would fall under today’s LGBTQ+ umbrella have grown up with no framework to understand their identities. As historian Emily Rutherford writes, that was true for Victorian scholar John Addington Symonds. But, thanks to his work, many men who followed him had new ways to put their sexuality in context.

As a student in 1850s Britain, Symonds read Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus, encountering paiderastia—the social and erotic relationship between older and younger Athenian men. He later wrote that the concept was “the revelation I had been waiting for”—and something that he literally had no words to describe in his native language. He settled for a Greek phrase meaning roughly “the love of impossible things.”

Symposium scene, ca 480-490 BC (Photo by De Agostini/Getty Images)

But Rutherford writes that Symonds soon found his reading of the Greeks wasn’t universal. For example, one of his mentors, Benjamin Jowett of Oxford, dismissed Plato’s and Socrates’s descriptions of ennobling love between men as “a figure of speech.”

Symonds pushed back, arguing that historical accounts of same-sex relationships could provide guidance to men of his own time. His 1873 essay “A Problem in Greek Ethics” described love and sex between men in ancient Greece as well as different ethical structures governing same-sex relationships in other times and cultures.

He was interested in a distinction between “common” and “heavenly” loves made by an Athenian named Pausanias in the Symposium. In his own culture, Symonds argued, the denial of public recognition for same-sex love reduced homosexuality to mere sexual gratification.

In 1878, a move to the Swiss Alps put Symonds in contact with a growing body of sexological literature published in German, much of which was unavailable in Britain due to obscenity laws. This research demonstrated the prevalence of men who had romantic and sexual relationships with other men in the present day. Toward the end of his life, he collaborated with doctor and sex researcher Havelock Ellis on a book that would eventually be published as Sexual Inversion.

But, unlike Ellis, Symonds viewed same-sex love as something that transcended unusual neurology. Rutherford writes that he sought to understand “how homoerotic love might be part of a wider, chivalric ideal.” He spent much of his life obsessed with Walt Whitman’s poems about comradeship—though Whitman, who had no concept of sexual orientation as a fixed identity, disavowed his interpretations of the poetry.

Poet Walt Whitman poses for a portrait in 1871. (Photo courtesy Library of Congress/Getty Images)

Rutherford notes that Symonds was married to a woman for much of his life, and his sexual encounters with other men were “fraught with class inequality and exploitation.” Yet he provided a new vocabulary for other men to talk about their intimate relationships.

Oscar Wilde read Symonds with fascination and is said to have explained his love for Alfred Douglas with references to Plato, Michelangelo, and Shakespeare apparently cribbed from his work. E. M. Forster also wrote that reading Symonds helped him recognize his own homosexuality reflected in men from other times and cultures. Symonds’ work helped set the stage for a new flourishing of self-identified gay men in the twentieth century.

Livia Gershon is a freelance writer in Nashua, New Hampshire. In addition to JSTOR Daily, her writing has appeared in publications including SalonAeon Magazine and the Good Men Project. Contact her on Twitter @liviagershon.

Book: “Uncovered: How the Media Got Cozy with Power, Abandoned Its Principles, and Lost the People”

Uncovered: How the Media Got Cozy with Power, Abandoned Its Principles, and Lost the People

Steve Krakauer

America’s corporate news media is less trusted than ever – and for good reason. How did we get here? And what’s the real story behind this embarrassing mess?
The fourth estate is supposed to be a conduit to the people and a check on power. Instead, we have a bunch of geographically isolated, introspection-free, cozy-with-power, egomaniacal journalists thirsty for elite approval. 
No one understands these problems (and people) better than Steve Krakauer, one of America’s sharpest media critics. He has spent years getting to know some of the most influential players in the industry. This fascinating book is what he’s learned — and why every American should care.
In Uncovered, Krakauer gives readers an extended peek behind the curtain of the media challenges in America today. The book dives deep into some of the most important and egregious examples of the elite censorship collusion racket, like how tech suppression and media fear led to the New York Post-Hunter Biden email debacle before the 2020 election. Krakauer takes readers inside CNN after the shock Trump election, inside the New York Times after the Tom Cotton op-ed backlash, inside ESPN after the shift away from sports-only coverage, and more – revealing never-before-seen details about the press over the past five years.
Krakauer pulls from his own experience as a former CNN executive and through dozens of exclusive on-the-record interviews with media members in and around the industry–from Tucker Carlson and others at Fox News, to journalists at the New York Times, MSNBC, and CNN.

This is a rational, independent (and fun) inside look at the broken news industry in America – assessing where everything went wrong, and how to fix it. This is not an “I hate the media” book. Krakauer loves the media and wants it to be better. But it has a long way to go, and admitting the problems is the first step. In Uncovered, the long road back to trust and relevance begins.