The worst of us, the best of us: Ten Islamist TV clips and one wonderful new book examining the mysteries of the Universe & the nature of being


(What a piece of shit is man…)

Sometimes, you hear or read about something that is so wonderful that you are tempted to take back all the sarcastic and generally disapproving things you ever said about the human race.

The following bit is NOT an example of such an epiphanous moment but I guess that it can serve as its exact opposite.

These are “The ten best clips on Middle Eastern TV”, as selected by the TimesOnline ‘Central Comment’ column .

What a piece of work is man, indeed.

Most of the times, I am with Hamlet, asking: “What is this quintessence of dust?”

Anyway, enough of the gutter level antics of homo-not-all-that-sapiens; back to my original point – because there are moments that you can feel kind of proud to be human.

Which is what I felt when I was flipping through the pages of the online Guardian and stumbled upon an article about the book ‘You are here’, by Christopher Potter.

(By the way, don’t take my word for it. This is what Stephen Fry had to say about this work, ‘A wonderful, miraculous book: the whole universe bottled for your delight.’)

It’s not just the fact that a passionate layman cared enough – and dared enough! - to try and write a book that, to quote from the Guardian’s piece,

“examined the mysteries of the universe. The result is You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe. It’s a book that encompasses relativity theory, quantum theory, evolutionary theory, the mind-boggling nature of antimatter, that reflects on the big bang, and wonders about the nature of being and the destiny of our species.”

That kind of thing has me running to my local (okay, online) bookstore fast enough as it is but in this instance I was also quite deeply impressed with the writer’s attitude to what Douglas Adams used to call ‘Life, the universe and the rest.’

I don’t know about you but me, I NEED to own a book that has these as its last three sentences:

‘We want to believe that things last for ever, whether it is love, life, God, or the laws of nature. But death, as Freud continually reminds us, is what certainty looks like. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to live in uncertainty for as long as we can bear it.’


(As the man said, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ - and it always is…)

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