As Burt once said…

27 10 2012

Albert Einstein is remembered for his genius in mathematics and physics. A great thinker by pretty much any measure.

But he also had strong views on religion, love and more human things.

There appear to be no source references, but this site claims quite a diverse range of quotes from Big Al. Collected Quotes from Albert Einstein.

A couple of my own favourites:

  • “Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”
  • “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
  • “Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”
  • “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
  • “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
  • “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

I can’t help thinking he was “real” and not hung up on his own brilliance. In my own life, I have met maybe 2 or 3 truly brilliant people. Only one – the first – was able to relate effectively with the real world and not need to exist in the rarefied atmosphere that some clever people think they deserve.

Whether it’s through sharing knowledge, perspectives, emotions, a “perfect” greeting card, or even a “special leaf” – there are a handful of people we will interact with in our time on this spinning rock who will truly make a difference to who we are, and how we live our lives. We may not recognise it at the time. We may not be able to keep them close. But the change is made, and the effect is strong and long-lasting.

Someone once told me we are only capable of changing “who we are” a total of 5% in our lifetime. I’m not so sure (I also heard we were 99% the same as chimps and pretty similar to mushrooms, so 5% seems a lot), but I accept that our inner core is pretty unshakable, and that it is non-trivial to change our core behaviours. But it is possible, and it does happen.

What interactions have helped make you who you are today?

  • A teacher?
  • An author of an amazing book you once read?
  • The creator of a great art piece you felt moved by?
  • A blender of fine teas?
  • A lover?

The Lion and Albert

3 05 2012

So when I was a kid (physically – I still am mentally), I was in Scouts. About 12 years old, I guess.

In the UK, we used to do these annual shows called Gang Shows. Basically they were revues, and the Scouts and Guides would perform various songs, dances and skits, and the audience would pay money – largely out of sympathy.

Anyway, a very good friend of mine (who now works for Auntie Beeb) performed “The Lion and Albert” as a monologue – originally recorded by Stanley Holloway (Eliza’s dad in My Fair Lady). Here it is on YouTube with the words.

Stanley Holloway: The Lion and Albert

There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool
That’s noted for fresh air and fun
And Mr. and Mrs. Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A fine little lad were young Albert,
All dressed in his best, quite a swell.
He’d a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle;
The finest that Woolworth‘s could sell.

They didn’t think much to the ocean,
The waves they were piddlin’ and small.
There were no wrecks and nobody drownded,
‘Fact, nothin’ to laugh at at all!

So, seeking for further amusement,
They paid, and went into the zoo,
Where they’d lions and tigers and camels
And cold ale and sandwiches, too.

There were one great big lion called Wallace
Whose nose was all covered with scars;
He lay in a som-no-lent posture
With the side of ‘is face on the bars.

Now Albert ‘ad ‘eard about lions-
‘Ow they was ferocious and wild;
To see lion lyin’ so peaceful
Just didn’t seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showin’ a morsel of fear,
Took ‘is stick with the ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle
And stuck it in Wallace’s ear.

You could see that the lion din’t like it,
For givin’ a kind of a roll,
‘E pulled Albert inside the cage with ‘im
And swallered the little lad – ‘ole!

Now Mother ‘ad seen this occurrence,
And not knowin’ what to do next,
She ‘ollered “Yon lion’s et Albert!”
An’ Father said “Ee, I am vexed.”

They complained to an animal keeper
Who said “My, wot a nasty mis’ap;
Are you sure it’s your boy ‘e’s eaten?”
Pa said, “Am I sure? There’s ‘is cap!”

The manager ‘ad to be sent for;
‘E came and ‘e said “Wot’s to-do?”
Ma said “Yon lion’s et Albert,
And ‘im in ‘is Sunday clothes, too!”

Father said “Right’s right, young feller-
I think it’s a shame and a sin
To ‘ave our son et by a lion
And after we paid to come in.”

The manager wanted no trouble;
He took out his purse right away,
Sayin’ “‘Ow much to settle the matter?”
Pa said “Wot do you usually pay?”

But Mother ‘ad turned a bit awkward
When she saw where ‘er Albert ‘ad gone.
She said “No, someone’s got to be summonsed!”
So that was decided upon.

And off they all went to p’lice station
In front of a Magistrate chap;
They told what ‘ad ‘appened to Albert
And proved it by showing ‘is cap.

The Magistrate gave ‘is opinion
That no one was really to blame,
And ‘e said that ‘e ‘oped the Ramsbottoms
Would ‘ave further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazin’:
“And thank you, sir, kindly,” said she-
“Wot, spend all our lives raisin’ children
To feed ruddy lions? Not me!”

So anyway, I was reminded of this little ditty today, when a colleague shared a YouTube video with me. Filmed at the zoo in Portland Oregon, yesterday. I found it ever so slightly weird that the mother (filming, presumably) is chuckling away while this 150kg eating machine is trying desperately to claw its way through the glass to eat her offspring!

I wonder if the family is called Ramsbottom…