Daily Archives:September 6th, 2015

The Dyson Shower?

Well, I’m back home from Michigan, enjoying the more moderate temperatures of the UK, and some real marmalade, after a two-week absence from both.

I’m also back in the world of hard water, and was pondering this as I squeegeed our shower cubicle this morning, as I do every day, to reduce limescale build-up. I’m sure that that clever inventor Mr Dyson could come up with something to save me having to go through this rigmarole. Perhaps some kind of induced vortex which would pull all the water drops back towards the plughole so that they wouldn’t hit the walls of the cubicle — or perhaps even render those walls unnecessary.

Alternatively, maybe something like the Airblade technology could blast the water droplets off the walls before they had a chance to evaporate? And then also dry me as I stepped out of the door?

Over to you, Sir James…

If you’re not a communist…

There’s an old saying:

If you’re not a communist at the age of 20, you haven’t got a heart.
If you’re still a communist at the age of 30, you haven’t got a brain.

I’ve always liked this quote, and have wondered about its origin since I first heard it. Now, thanks to the web — invented when I was about 25 — I can find out. It turns out to pre-date communism by some time, at least as a rhetorical device.

It was said about republicanism by Fran├žois Guizot, the French Prime Minister in the mid 19th century, whose childhood had been during the Reign of Terror.

Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.

It was later adopted by Georges Clemenceau, who substituted socialiste for republicain.

But, Fred Shapiro points out, one could argue that even Guizot was pipped to the post by John Adams, who said something similar, though not as elegantly, in 1799:

A boy of 15 who is not a democrat is good for nothing, and he is no better who is a democrat at 20.

Adams missed the heart and head distinction, though, which I think is important: it captures the sometimes misguided fervour of youth and the wisdom that comes from experience (or, others might say, the conservatism that comes from age).

Of course, I still prefer the ‘communist’ version, but that’s because of when I grew up. I wonder what variations will be popular in 50 or 100 years’ time?

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser