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Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“… one of the ironies of history is that visions of our networked future can be bracketed by the imaginative nightmares of Aldous Huxley and his fellow Etonian George Orwell. Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in '1984.' Huxley's nightmare, set out in 'Brave New World,' his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us.

“… 'Brave New World' was published in 1932. The title comes from Miranda's speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest: 'Oh, wonder! / How many goodly creatures are there here! / How beauteous mankind is! Oh brave new world, / That has such people in't.'

“It is set in the London of the distant future – AD 2540 – and describes a fictional society inspired by two things: Huxley's imaginative extrapolation of scientific and social trends; and his first visit to the U.S., in which he was struck by how a population could apparently be rendered docile by advertising and retail therapy. As an intellectual who was fascinated by science, he guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that scientific advances would eventually give humans powers that had hitherto been regarded as the exclusive preserve of the gods. And his encounters with industrialists like Alfred Mond led him to think that societies would eventually be run on lines inspired by the managerial rationalism of mass production ('Fordism') – which is why the year 2540 AD in the novel is 'the Year of Our Ford 632.'”

From “Aldous Huxley: the prophet of our brave new digital dystopia” at

A quiz

The anticipation of what increases the flow of saliva to the mouth, which is good for teeth?

Wisdom of the ages

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight Eisenhower

Current wisdom

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” – Pope Francis, in a 224-page mission statement for his papacy.

Quiz answer

A kiss.

Snob words

wroth (rawth), adj. – stormy, violent; angry, wrathful, as in: “The politician begged the editorial writer not to be wroth with him over his lying, which he could not control.”

Today in history

On this date in 1782, Britain signed the agreement recognizing U.S. independence.

Now you know

Because whales must rise to the surface often to breathe, only one half of their brain sleeps at a time. This allows their bodies to get adequate rest while still providing for the necessary function of breathing.