Quote of the Day: John Stuart Mill on God

"I will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow-creatures; and if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go."

John Stuart Mill, An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, Collected Works, vol. 9, p. 103.

Quote of the Day: Mephistopheles on Professors

Many visitors to German universities puzzle at the tendency of many professors to 'lecture' by reading from their most recent textbook in a flat monotone, and ask themselves: 'Whoever thought this was the way to teach?'

The answer: Mephistopheles — who else? Jaroslav Pelikan's prose translation of a passage (g) in Faust in which the demon explains the facts of life to a prospective student:

For … five hours a day, the student should be prepared to listen to the professor, in accordance with the pedagogical method of the universities, "in such a way that afterwards you will be able to recognize better that he is not saying anything except what is already in the book. But you must be writing it down, as thought the Holy Spirit himself were dictating it to you!"

Norton Critical Edition of Faust, p. 590.

Quote of the Day: Voltaire on Newton

Every now and then, I dip into The Literary Guide to the Bible, which contains essays on every canonical book of the Bible. They range in quality, but some are excellent. Including Bernard McGinn's essay on Revelation, which includes this deathless Voltaireism:

The great age of English commentary on Revelation did not end with the Restoration, but there was little innovative thought….  Isaac Newton perfected the mathematical approach to prophetic calculations of world history with a monotony that led Voltaire to remark that "Sir Isaac Newton wrote his comment upon the Revelation to console mankind for the great superiority he had over them in other respects."

Obscure Cultural Trivia Contest Vol. II

Been a while since we had one of these! So, honors to the first commenter who can tell me where this image comes from:

UPDATE: Hmm, nobody's even tried to guess yet. So maybe a clue is in order — but what sort of clue can I provide without — in the age of Googlepedia — giving everything away?

OK, here's the clue: This is a still image from a movie. The movie was financed by a wealthy European nobleman who was threatened with excommunication by the Catholic Church for having financed it.

I hope that was helpful. Somebody better guess right soon, because I'm not posting anything else until someone gets it!


German Word of the Week: Muttersaft


Germ ans, we are told, consume more fruit juice than any other nation on the face of the planet, except Canada and the United States (!). As you might expect, this daily activity has been subjected by German agencies to a great deal of careful scrutiny. Here's a chart (g) showing that more than 1/3 of Germans drink fruit juice at least several times a week. There's even an Ordnance on Fruit Juice, Certain Similar Products, and Fruit Nectars (g). Every bottle of serious juice comes with full information about the latest results of official testing designed to certify its purity and organic status.

And, as you might expect, Germans produce a lot of high-quality fruit juice. Sure, you can get Capri Sun and other objectionable fluids (g) here, but real Germans would never drink that syrup. Instead, they'll reach for any number of exotic fruit combinations, or naturally-cloudy apple juice, or the ubiquitous  Apfelschorle, the mixture of apple juice and carbonated water that is Germany's national summer refreshment.

Or, if they're hardcore like me, they'll reach for Muttersaft, which literally translated, means "mother-juice." I know what you're thinking (g). Stop it! Muttersaft refers to the pure, unfiltered, unsweetened first-press juice of a fruit or berry, as the organic-juice producer Rabenhorst (g) informs us on this website. It's thick and syrupy and not at all sweet. You could theoretically drink this stuff straight, but you might dissolve a few teeth that way. Instead, you might add a couple ounces of it to mineral water, or mix up some fabulously astringent cocktails with it. Mix up some linden-tree honey, blueberry and cranberry Muttersaft, mineral water and some ice-cold vodka, and have yourself a 100% organic merry old time!