In 1988, The Economist compiled a ranking of 50 countries according to which would be the best place to be born (or put another way, which would be the best to settle and start a family). This was determined on the basis of 11 weighted sociopolitical and economic criteria, ranging from the quantifiable (such as GDP growth) to the subjective (cultural richness). The results can be seen below.
One of my favorite and most personally influential philosophers has just become the subject of an article at HuffPo, where his timeless wisdom is being shared for its relevance two thousand years later.
Life is beautiful, extremely beautiful. And when you are old you appreciate it more. When you are older you think, you remember, you care and you appreciate. You are thankful for everything. For everything.”
My temperament. This optimism and this discipline. Punctually, at 10 a.m., I am sitting there at the piano, with everything in order around me. For 30 years, I have eaten the same — fish or…
Gustav Klimt’s Death and Life
“Death and Life”, by Gustav Klimt. Begun in 1908 and completed in 1916.
This painting is unique in…
Franz Kafka, Diaries
A guy will say, ‘Well, I make my luck.’ And the same guy walks down the street and a piano that’s been hoisted drops on his head. The truth of the matter is your life is very much out of your control.
Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder. There is no way to be alive without being conscious of the potential for disaster. One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us. Nobody is immune. Our world is unstable and unpredictable, and operates, to a great degree and despite incredible scientific advancement, outside our ability to control it.
Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems
Why do we argue? Life’s so fragile, a successful virus clinging to a speck of mud, suspended in endless nothing.
Alan Moore, Watchmen
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
William Shakespeare, Macbeth.
I found one day…a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I reprimanded him, but he replied:
'The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair!'
In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.
Bertrand Russell, Education and the Social Order (1932)
The scientists started by examining mice’s mitochondria — a cell’s version of a power plant — and uncovered a group of three genes that affected the animals’ life-span via their speed of functioning. Those whose genes were 50 per cent slower lived some 250 days longer, or about 30 per cent of a mouse’s lifetime. “Based on this observation, we switched model, and started validating this experimentally in a worm,” Professor Auwerx said. “Knocking down the same proteins, we could see an up to 60 per cent extension of worm life-span.”