Quotations I like

(well enough to keep around in a file)


"The urge to fly from modern systems, instead of moving through them to even greater, fairer things is, I think, an indication of deep weariness and confusion."
— Dwayne Monroe
"Every other vice hath some pleasure annexed to it, or will admit of some excuse, but envy wants both."
— Robert Burton


"In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time."
— Edward P. Tryon
"The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do."
— Galileo Galilei
"It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others."
— John Andrew Holmes
"The path of budo is not something you follow. You can never reproduce the path of someone who has gone before you. It is a path that each of us has to get down on our hands and knees and build, painstakingly, day by day, brick by brick."
— Takafumi Takeno
"The more I practice, the luckier I get."
— Ben Hogan
"Jesus' life didn't go well. He didn't reach his earning potential. He didn't have the respect of his colleagues. His friends weren't loyal. His life wasn't long. He didn't meet his soul mate. And he wasn't understood by his mother. Yet I think I deserve all those things because I'm so spiritual."
— Hugh Prather
"If you need a guide. If you're a seeker and you need a guide, someone to counsel you so you can find your way forward into a spiritual realm. And you're on an airplane. Don't look in first class."
— John Patrick Shanley
"The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commenting."
— T.H. White
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
— Albert Einstein
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
— Mark Twain
"Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
— Susan Ertz
"Curiously enough, one cannot read a book; one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader, is a rereader."
— Vladimir Nabokov
»Auch die Zeiten des Verfalls und Untergangs haben ihr heiliges Recht auf unser Mitgefόhl.«
— Jacob Burckhardt
We are all vulnerable, we are all promising, we are all more ignorant than we need to be, we are all more capable than we can know, we are all error-prone, we are all interdependent, we are all subject to chance, and we are all going to die.
— Dale Carrico, "Ten Things You Must Fail To Understand If You Want To Be A Transhumanist For Long"
"When people believe in boundaries, they become part of them."
— Don Cherry


"Our community belongs to us and whether it is mean or majestic; whether arrayed in glory or covered in shame, we cannot but share its character and destiny."
— Frederick Douglass
"Those who don't read have no advantage over those who can't."
— Mark Twain
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning."
— Catherine Aird
"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."
— Susan B. Anthony
"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
— Napoleon Bonaparte
"One can live in the shadow of an idea without grasping it."
— Elizabeth Bowen
"A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword."
— Robert Burton
"Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give lustre, and many more people see than weigh."
— The Earl of Chesterfield
"A marveilous newtrality have these things mathematicall, and also a strange participation between things supernaturall and things naturall."
— John Dee
"If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he next comes to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination."
— Thomas De Quincey
"I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."
— J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
— Albert Einstein
"Although to penetrate into the intimate mysteries of nature and thence to learn the true causes of phenomena is not allowed to us, nevertheless it can happen that a certain fictive hypothesis may suffice for explaining many phenomena."
— Leonhard Euler
"Den Geschmack kann man nicht am Mittelgut bilden, sondern nur am Allervorzüglichsten."
— Goethe
“It is indeed clear to me that, even though you are blindly looking into the demon’s cave within the pitch black mountains of ignorance, you *are* doing your training.”
— Dōgen Zenji
"Power over a man's subsistence is power over his will."
— Alexander Hamilton
"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing."
— William James
"When smashing monuments, save the pedestals — they always come in handy."
— Stanislaw Lec
"Only a mediocre person is always at his best."
— Laurence Peter
"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."
— Adam Smith
"I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land."
— Jon Stewart
"It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."
— J.R.R. Tolkien


"Republicans want to shrink government enough so that it will fit in your bedroom."
"Poor Mexico! So far from God, so close to the United States!"
— Porfirio Diaz
"We have used 0.001 as a representative 'small' number to indicate a tolerance for the acceptable error in a calculation. The appropriate tolerance for a real calculation depends upon the problem to be solved and the limitations of the computer and the algorithm. This is often a very subtle consideration, requiring help from a numerical analyst or some other kind of magician."
— Abelson & Sussman in SICP
"I'd rather have a cloned mammoth than another sheep."
— Larry Agenbroad
"Virtue is its own punishment."
— Aneurin Bevan
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
— William Ellery Channing
"It ain't bragging if you can do it."
— Jay 'Dizzy' Dean
"It's clear, most Vermonters don't believe what we believe."
— Ruth Dwyer, unsuccessful GOP candidate for Governor, on same-sex civil unions.
"Three minutes thought would suffice to find this out; but thought is irksome and three minutes is a long time."
— A.E. Housman
"The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people meaner."
— Karl Kraus
"Magary's Principle: When there is a public outcry to cut deadwood and fat from any government bureaucracy, it is the deadwood and the fat that do the cutting, and the public's services are cut."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."
— Mark Twain
"If you're not careful the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."
— Malcolm X


"The first mark of intelligence, to be sure, is not to start things; the second mark of intelligence is to pursue to the end what you have started."
— from the Panchatantra
"It's funny how liberals complain about US blunders in Iraq after not criticizing the USSR for similar blunders in Afghanistan."
"The first rule of peaceful protest: It doesn't matter what they do. It only matters what WE do."
"The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."
— Vorlon proverb
"He who draws his sword against his Prince, needs to throw away his scabbard."
— Proverb
"When the filmmaker Michael Moore speculated about the terrorists' motives, for example, his rambling ruminations touched on missile defense, America's withdrawal from the Durban conference on racism, and even our rejection of the Kyoto accords on global warming. Evidently, Moore believes that we are being attacked by European diplomats."
— Jesse Walker
"'Somewhere along the line, Monsanto specifically and the industry in general lost the recipe of how we presented our story,' said Will Carpenter, the head of the company's biotechnology strategy group until 1991. 'When you put together arrogance and incompetence, you've got an unbeatable combination. You can get blown up in any direction. And they were.'"
— Quoted in the New York Times, January 25, 2001
"He who hesitates is, uh, lost."
"The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice."
"Do you ever feel like there's a secret game being played in America, and nobody will tell you the rules?"
— Get your war on!
"It always feels so good to see Henry Kissinger standing beside a U.S. President. It's kind of like watching Voltron gear up to physically assault the Statue of Liberty."
— Get your war on!
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintings, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."
— John Adams
"Mathematicians practice absolute freedom."
— Henry Adams
"I think you should defend to the death their right to march, and then go down and meet them with baseball bats."
— Woody Allen, on the KKK
"Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy."
— Wendell Berry
"The Axiom of Choice is obviously true, the well-ordering principle obviously false, and who can tell about Zorn's Lemma?"
— Jerry Bona
"Minds of equivalent quality think alike."
— Jeremy Bornstein
"Things are not difficult to accomplish; what is difficult is to prepare ourselves to do them."
— Constantin Brancusi
"War is like love; it always finds a way."
— Bertolt Brecht
"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."
— George W Bush
"A sense of humor keen enough to show a man his own absurdities will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those that are worth committing."
— Samuel Butler
"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."
— Matt Cartmill
"You know, back in 2000 a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what: I did vote for Al Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true."
— James Carville
"To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected — that is no criticism of the military. That is a criticism of a president and a vice president and the record they have built together."
— Dick Cheney, August 30, 2000
"Nequeporro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit ..."
— Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum
"Hope deceives more men than cunning does."
— Luc de Clapiers
"Aikido is origami with people instead of paper."
— Kjartan Clausen
"It has been said that, without software, the F-16C is nothing more than a $15 million lawn dart."
— David Cook
"I never heard of anyone who was really literate or who ever really loved books who wanted to suppress any of them. Censors only read a book with great difficulty, moving their lips as they puzzle out each syllable, when someone tells them that the book is unfit to read."
— Robertson Davies
"...the definition of a gaffe in Washington is somebody who tells the truth but shouldn't have."
— Howard Dean
"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite."
— Paul Dirac
"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views ... which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."
— Doctor Who, 'Face of Evil'
"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. That struggle might be a moral one; it might be a physical one; it might be both moral and physical, but it must be struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will."
— Frederick Douglass
"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters."
— Albert Einstein
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies — in the final sense — a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.... It is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
"Adhere to your own act, and congratulate yourself if you have done something strange and extravagant, and broken the monotony of a decorous age."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I've personally always found it fascinating how the youth of rich white guys in Texas extends into their forties, while poor black kids become adults at fourteen."
— Zach Eyler-Walker
"The three requirements for happiness are good health, selfishness, and stupidity, but without stupidity, the others are useless."
— Gustave Flaubert
"The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
— Anatole France
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
— John Kenneth Galbraith
"I do believe that where there is a choice only between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence."
— Mahatma Gandhi
"According to Livy, the Romans conquered the world in their own defence."
— Edward Gibbon
"[W]ar is always about betrayal. It is about betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians and of idealists by the cynical men who wield power, the ones who rarely pay the cost of war. We pay that cost. And we will pay it again."
— Chris Hedges
"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other."
— Eric Hoffer
"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones."
— Nathaniel Howe
"Did you ever hear anyone say 'that work had better be banned because I might read it and it might be very damaging to me'?"
— Joseph Henry Jackson
"Never throw anyone you aren't willing to relinquish to gravity's harsh embrace."
— Jake Jacobe
"[A]lways stay skeptical of mathematical statements (including mine) that you don t understand. Remembering them is O.K. You don t have to believe them until you have figured them out for yourself. That way you reduce the risk of being misled by someone else s misunderstandings which, in my long experience, are foremost among the reasons why people find Mathematics hard at school."
— W. Kahan
"It's often the case that when a critic uses an embarrassingly accurate term to describe what a wrong-doer is doing, the wrong-doer protests: 'Why don't you use my white-washed, conscience-soothing euphemism?' Such euphemisms, they claim, help promote 'civilized debate'."
— Steve Kangas
"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions."
— Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, in his opening statement to the tribunal
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
— Thomas Jefferson
"Given that your choice in November is between two hereditary members of the industrial aristocracy, remember to vote for the one who is prepared, as FDR was, to betray his class rather than his country."
— Mark Kleiman
"Making war is like trying to drink soup from a knife."
— T.E. Lawrence
"If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
— Abraham Lincoln
"Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there."
— Clare Boothe Luce
"eCommerce — 2.718281828 times better than regular commerce!"
— Sonia Lyris
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
— Charles Mackay
"We went to the celebration at Arlington Cemetery yesterday — not knowing that the President would speak . A trip to Arlington is always the most poignant reminder of the costs of war... Initial impressions were disturbing: President Bush was physically unable to stand still as the Colors were being presented — he kept bopping his head to the march music and talking and laughing to a very still and stiff Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, who was doing his best to stand at attention and ignore the president's repeated attempts to strike up a conversation during that solemn procession. All of the others on the dais were utterly still and at attention as the Colors were being presented, with either a salute or a hand on heart."
— Daniel McAdams
"What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damn fools said would happen has come to pass."
— Lord Melbourne
"Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good."
— H. L. Mencken
"Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt."
— H. L. Mencken
"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."
— H. L. Mencken
"People who have what they want are very fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they don't want it."
— Ogden Nash
"We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."
— George Orwell
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
— George Orwell
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
— Daniel Patrick Moynihan
"Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule."
— Friedrich Nietzsche
"First they stole the fourth amendment. I said nothing because I don't deal drugs. Then they took the sixth amendment. I was silent because I know I'm not guilty. When they came for the second amendment, I kept quiet because I don't own a gun. Now they've come for the first amendment, and I can't say anything at all."
— M. Pablo
"I believe in ex-Communists. I don't believe in ex-fools."
— Isabel Patterson
"Blair and Bush's statements about how Britain and the US will not be swayed by the attacks on their servicemen in Iraq reminds me of the absentee Irish landlord who said of nationalists: 'If they think they can intimidate me by killing my gamekeepers they are mistaken.'"
— Ian Philip
"'That is another of your odd notions,' said the Prefect, who had the fashion of calling everything 'odd' that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of 'oddities'."
— Edgar Allan Poe
"Why should the government subsidize intellectual curiosity?"
— Ronald Reagan
"If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?"
— Will Rogers
"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But that's the way to bet 'em."
— Damon Runyon
"Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education."
— Bertrand Russell
"Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do."
— Bertrand Russell
"Imagine the heartaches / Of diplomatic attaches / When the wind detaches / Their false moustaches"
— Justin B. Rye
"It is easier to make a saint out of a libertine than out of a prig."
— George Santayana
"Trying to make bits uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet. The sooner people accept this, and build business models that take this into account, the sooner people will start making money again."
— Bruce Schneier
"A criminal is a person with predatory instincts without sufficient capital to form a corporation"
— Howard Scott
"Away you scullian, you rampallian, you fustilarian, ile tickle your catastrophe."
— William Shakespeare, Henry IV part 2, Act II, Scene I.
"Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."
— Adam Smith
"A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs, a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal — Panama!"
— Guy L. Steele, Jr.
"The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from."
— Andrew S. Tanenbaum
"Calvin Trillan said that he didn't do well in math or science because he couldn't explain to his teachers that his answers were meant to be ironic."
"True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance."
— Henry David Thoreau
"If the citizens of the United States were indeed the devoted patriots they call themselves, they would surely not thus encrust themselves in the hard, dry, stubborn persuasion, that they are the first and best of the human race, that nothing is to be learnt, but what they are able to teach, and that nothing is worth having, which they do not possess."
— Frances Trollope
"There are some natures which never grow large enough to speak out and say a bad act is a bad act, until they have inquired into the politics or the nationality of the man who did it."
— Mark Twain
"Danger lies not in what we don't know, but in what we think we know that just ain't so."
— Mark Twain
"The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right."
— Mark Twain
"My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling yeast."
— Miguel de Unamuno
"In my life, I have prayed but one prayer: 'Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
— Voltaire
"I have one share in corporate Earth, and I am nervous about the management."
— E.B. White
"For the record, anyone who think this may be the incident that forces Europeans to get serious about terrorism is a moron. Most Europeans were plenty serious about terrorism before this happened. So was the Democratic Party. It was George W. Bush who, along with Jose Maria Aznar, Tony Blair, and Silvio Berlusconi who decided that terrorism was such a serious problem that it should be pretty much ignored except insofar as it was a useful rhetorical prop for the selling of an unrelated war."
— Matthew Yglesias
"Look, there is one statement that bothers me more than anything else. And that's the idea that when the troops are in combat, everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put troops in combat with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was malfunctioning, and troops were dying as a result. I can't think anyone would allow that to happen, that would not speak up. Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan and strategy that's getting just as many troops killed? It's leading down a path where we're not succeeding and accomplishing the missions we've set out to do."
— Anthony Zinni

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Last modified: Monday, August 26, at 11:30 PM