The magazine The Cosmopolitanwas founded in 1886. Printed below the masthead on page 1 was the quotation “From every man according to his ability: to every one according to his needs.” William Randolph Hearst purchased the magazine in 1905 and I wonder whether he dropped the quotation – Marx and Hearst seem unlikely bedfellows. Helen Gurley Brown became chief editor in 1965 and, as Cosmopolitan, transformed the magazine into a worldwide success aimed specifically at a female audience. I wonder how the quotation might have read under her leadership.

Believe it or not

Tom Lehrer abandoned his piano and stifled the urge to write satirical songs in 1973 when Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize. Lehrer reasonably concluded that if a man who had paved the way for Pol Pot by bombing neutral Cambodia ‘back to the Stone Age’ was to be blessed as a peacemaker, ‘political satire had become obsolete’.

(Reported by Nick Cohen in Cruel Britannia)


Stanislaw Ulam, the Polish émigré mathematician, liked to say that the first sign of senility is that a man forgets his theorems, the second is that he forgets to zip up, the third sign is that he forgets to zip down.