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What is happiness?

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599.  Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:20 pm Reply with quote

Does happiness necessarily demand dignity? You can be happy at your work, certainly, and bitterly unhappy on holiday - Boxing Day with the inlaws, for instance - but who cares about dignity? Watch a toddler on the beach.

Dignity is like a top hat; wearing it is fine, if uncomfortable, but don't try standing on it.

That's not a quotation, quite; it's a more-or-less. Sorry.

603.  Thu Oct 23, 2003 4:33 pm Reply with quote

If it's not a quotation, Frances, it jolly well ought to be, so I'll dignify it by posting it on the quotations thread.

Frederick The Monk
609.  Thu Oct 23, 2003 5:22 pm Reply with quote

"Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them."

An admission - I found this rather splendid quote on 'Brainy'. Sadly I had not gone there looking for enlightenment but in response to an advert entitled 'click here to win 50 lbs of lobster' - I could hardly resist.

614.  Thu Oct 23, 2003 5:36 pm Reply with quote

If you win the lobsters, you should share them with the board. There's a nice quote about lobsters somewhere on one of the threads - use the search facility if you want to know how to cook them the Maine way.

Frederick The Monk
616.  Thu Oct 23, 2003 5:41 pm Reply with quote

if I win 50lbs of the buggers it'll be lobs all round I can assure you. Did you know that lobster migrate huge distances across the ocean floor? Passes the time I suppose.

628.  Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:38 am Reply with quote

We have tanks of them in the supermarkets over here, and they crawl all over each other. My stepson spent a bit of time last winter working on a lobster boat, and brought three of them home for us, still alive. They were grimly hauling themselves around the floor when let out of the bag, but we restrained ourselves from adopting them as pets and boiled the buggers and ate them.

I had to leave the room for the cooking process though. If anybody's seen the episode of The Simpsons where Homer adopts a lobster as a pet and then succumbs to a bout of the munchies and eats it, crying through the meal - I know how he felt. Almost (but not quite) enough to turn one into a vegetarian.

636.  Fri Oct 24, 2003 9:29 am Reply with quote

I heard once that live lobsters can't be carried in the unpressurised cargo hold of a plane because they explode. No idea if it's true, though.

Frederick The Monk
637.  Fri Oct 24, 2003 9:34 am Reply with quote

It does almost seem a shame to eat them - but only 'almost' a shame. I did feel momentarily bad about it after talking to a lobster fisherman on the Isles of Scilly who told me that lobsters walked from the abyssal Altantic plain (i.e. bloody thousands of miles out to sea) all the way to Scilly each year and back. Now lobsters don't walk too fast and apparently this can take up most of their time. Having arrived at Scilly - a marvelous holiday destination - the poor things then promptly get boiled alive. Yet still they come......

Didn't stop be buying a lobster off him though.

639.  Fri Oct 24, 2003 9:41 am Reply with quote

I feel the same way about wild salmon, given the astounding feat of navigation and sheer bloody-mindedness they have pulled off just before they get caught. And I do in fact decline caviar these days, whenever I get the chance - it seems ridiculous to kill a whole sturgeon just to get a spoonful of eggs.

641.  Fri Oct 24, 2003 9:52 am Reply with quote

It would be quite nice to have the opportunity to decline caviar.

642.  Fri Oct 24, 2003 9:52 am Reply with quote

Actually, Flash, these days they don't usually kill the sturgeon, they remove the eggs by Caesarean section.


Frances, your remark about dignity

Dignity is like a top hat; wearing it is fine, if uncomfortable, but don't try standing on it.

is certainly good enough to be a quotation, so I hope you won't mind if we include it, under your name of course, in the QI dictionary of Quotations ...when (if) it gets published.

774.  Sat Oct 25, 2003 9:24 pm Reply with quote

Happiness is now; or then it was.

Can't remember who said it.

781.  Sun Oct 26, 2003 9:57 am Reply with quote

Now this is a distinct contribution to human happiness. Oh yes. Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven't come across it before, I'd like to introduct you to Idle Theory (no, not Eric). For full details see this website: .

We have, over the past 400 years, developed an extraordinarily powerful body of scientific knowledge - but without any corresponding development in political, economic, and ethical understanding. The result has been that almost all our most intractable problems are political, economic, and ethical in nature. The success of modern science has prompted any number of attempts to extend the methods of science to these problems. Most of these attempts have failed.
Idle Theory takes a new look at this old problem. Using a simple physical model of life, it first explores biology, and evolution, and then extends into human economics, ethics, and politics. In Idle Theory, all forms of life are regarded as alternating between periods when they actively work to maintain themselves, and periods when they are idle or inactive. The most idle forms of life, that do the least work, are those most likely to survive crises during which more work needs to be done. Human life is another form of idle life. The history of human society, human technology, trade and law, is one long attempt to increase human idleness. Humans are free to act as they like to the extent they are idle: they are part-time free agents. All human culture - art, music, poetry, literature - is the product of idle time.

I'm going to put another link to this website on the 'Comparative Religions' thread, as there's a relevance there too.

Frederick The Monk
790.  Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:03 pm Reply with quote

What a fantastic theory. It might even go some way to answering something that has often bothered me about modern 'labour-saving' lifestyles - 'What will I do when I have finally managed to save all of my time?'

794.  Mon Oct 27, 2003 3:04 pm Reply with quote

I feel under the circumstances I must commend to you the excellent magazine The Idler, a source of delight and relaxation for those of us who believe that 'fannying around' is rather more likely to lead to enlightenment than running a large corporation. They are QI to their boostraps (which they rarely can be bothered to tie). Sample their wares (at your leisure) at

And - lest the connection not be clear - they are the onlie begetters of this very Talk board. A virtual toast to Idle Theory is in order. Cheers!


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