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Against Voltaire

I don’t know why God gave you a mind if you don’t use it, father said. I know you read lots of books, but when I ask you to tell me what they’re about, you mumble, “Philosophy.” I get all the philosophy I need from life. A book is one man’s opinion. Don’t I have an opinion, too? You should be listening to me instead of wasting your time on Voltaire. What did Voltaire ever do for you, except give you some books he wrote? What have I done for you? Plenty. I just bought you lunch. I don’t see Voltaire doing anything for your nutrition, except giving you long thoughts to digest. When it comes down to it, an egg salad sandwich on a bagel has Voltaire beat every time.

Stop Sign

My father drove past a stop sign without stopping. “How come,” mother said, “you didn’t stop when the sign clearly said you had to.” “Because I could tell no cars were coming,” he said. “Correction,” she said. “No cars were coming the last time you looked. But a lot can happen between looks. You broke a law. I married a criminal. But to make matters worst, now our son knows.” “Its no big thing,” he said “It’s understood that when no other car or pedestrian is there, you don’t have to stop.” “Says who?” she said. “Says me,” he said. “It would have been nice if I stopped, but the world isn’t a nice place. Why should I fill our son’s head with illusions? Why should I act nice when the world isn’t nice? Any minute the Russians could drop a bomb on us. They hate us because they think we have lots of money. But when was the last time a Russian looked at my bankbook. I should rephrase the question. When was the last time I looked at our bankbook? Last month. The less I know about how much we owe, the more I can pretend to be rich.”