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Quotes of the day: Michael Crichton

Published Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 7:12 PM EDT
Oct 22 2014

John Michael Crichton, MD (October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was an American best-selling author, physician, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted into films. In 1994 Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at No. 1 in US television, film, and book sales (with ER, Jurassic Park, and Disclosure, respectively). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there... And at the end of your life, your whole existence has the same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day.

A man can see by starlight, if he takes the time.

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

All major changes are like death. You can't see to the other side until you are there.

All your life people will tell you things. And most of the time, probably ninety-five percent of the time, what they'll tell you will be wrong.

Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.

Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.

Endless presentation of conflict may interfere with genuine issue resolution.

Friendships are nice. So is competence.

Geniuses never pay attention.

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.

I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.

I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree.

In our modern complex world, fundamentalism is dangerous because of its rigidity and its imperviousness to other ideas.

In the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don't know any better.

In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought.

It is especially difficult for modern people to conceive that our modern, scientific age might not be an improvement over the prescientific period.

It's better to die laughing than to live each moment in fear.

Let's be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven't got the power to destroy the planet- or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves.

Like a bearded nut in robes on the sidewalk proclaiming the end of the world is near, the media is just doing what makes it feel good, not reporting hard facts. We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears. Its not sensible to listen to it.

Nobody smart knows what they want to do until they get into their twenties or thirties.

Science is as corruptible a human activity as any other.

The planet has survived everything, in its time. It will certainly survive us,

The purpose of life is to stay alive. Watch any animal in nature- all it tries to do is stay alive. It doesn't care about beliefs or philosophy. Whenever any animal's behavior puts it out of touch with the realities of its existence, it becomes exinct.

The romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only held by people who have no actual experience of nature.

There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago? When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?

They didn't understand what they were doing. I'm afraid that will be on the tombstone of the human race. I hope it's not. We might get lucky.

To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth- that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric.

We need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.

What makes you think human beings are sentient and aware? There's no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told- and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion. Next question.

You know what's wrong with scientific power? It's a form of inherited wealth. And you know what assholes congenitally rich people are.

Categories: Michael Crichton, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: Doris Lessing

Published Tuesday, October 21, 2014 @ 9:35 PM EDT
Oct 21 2014

Doris May Lessing (October 22, 1919 – November 17, 2013) was a Nobel prize-winning British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. Her novels include The Grass is Singing (1950), the sequence of five novels collectively called Children of Violence (1952–69), The Golden Notebook (1962), The Good Terrorist (1985), and five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979–1983). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off.

In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.

It can be considered a rule that the probable duration of an Empire may be prognosticated by the degree to which its rulers believe in their own propaganda.

It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.

Parents should leave books lying around marked 'forbidden' if they want their children to read.

Small things amuse small minds.

Space or science fiction has become a dialect for our time.

That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.

There's only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that the second-best is anything but the second-best.

Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.

We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known.

What matters most is that we learn from living.

What society doesn't realize is that in the past, ordinary people respected learning. They respected books, and they don't now, or not very much. That whole respect for serious literature and learning has disappeared.

What's terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is the first- rate.

Why should we suppose that what we remember is more important than what we forget?


(October 22 is also the birthday of Timothy Leary.)

Categories: Doris Lessing, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: Ursula K. Le Guin

Published Monday, October 20, 2014 @ 9:45 PM EDT
Oct 20 2014

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (b. October 21, 1929) is an American author of novels, children's books, and short stories, mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. She has also written poetry and essays. First published in the 1960s, her work has often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality and ethnography. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A wrong that cannot be repaired must be transcended.

All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills; we need guides to show us how. If we don't, our lives get made up for us by other people.

Almost everything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing, if not carcinogenic.

Animals do neither good nor evil. They do as they must do. We may call what they do harmful or useful, but good and evil belong to us, who chose to choose what we do.

Belief in heaven and hell is a big deal in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and some forms of doctrinaire Buddhism. For the rest of us it’s simply meaningless. We don’t live in order to die, we live in order to live.

Belief is the wound that knowledge heals.

Coercion is the least efficient means of obtaining order.

Excess is excrement.

Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one.

Go to bed; tired is stupid.

Great artists make the roads; good teachers and good companions can point them out. But there ain't no free rides, baby.

Great self-destruction follows upon unfounded fear.

Have you never thought how danger must surround power as shadow does light?

I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.

Injustice makes the rules, and courage breaks them.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

It is of the nature of idea to be communicated: written, spoken, done. The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on.

It is only when science asks why, instead of simply describing how, that it becomes more than technology. When it asks why, it discovers Relativity. When it only shows how, it invents the atomic bomb, and then puts its hands over its eyes and says, 'My God, what have I done?'

Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread, re-made all the time, made new.

Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.

Most civilisations, perhaps, look shinier in general terms and from several light-years away.

My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.

One alien is a curiosity, two are an invasion.

Same old hypocrisy. Life is a fight, and the strongest wins. All civilization does is hide the blood and cover up the hate with pretty words!

Science fiction is not prescriptive; it is descriptive.

Suffering is dysfunctional, except as a bodily warning against danger. Psychologically and socially it’s merely destructive.

The counsel of the dead is not profitable to the living.

The danger in trying to do good is that the mind comes to confuse the intent of goodness with the act of doing things well.

The law of evolution is that the strongest survives... and the strongest, in the existence of any social species, are those who are most social. In human terms, most ethical.

The more defensive a society, the more conformist.

To claim power over what you do not understand is not wise, nor is the end of it likely to be good.

To hear, one must be silent.

To learn a belief without belief is to sing a song without the tune.

To oppose something is to maintain it.

Categories: Quotes of the day, Ursula K. Le Guin

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Quotes of the day: Lewis Grizzard

Published Sunday, October 19, 2014 @ 9:06 PM EDT
Oct 19 2014

Lewis McDonald Grizzard, Jr. (October 20, 1946 – March 20, 1994) was an American writer and humorist, known for his Southern demeanor and commentary on the American South. Although he spent his early career as a newspaper sports writer and editor, becoming the sports editor of the Atlanta Journal at age 23, he is much better known for his humorous newspaper columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a popular stand-up comedian and lecturer. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


By the time a man can afford to lose a golf ball, he can't hit it that far.

Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night. (book title)

I come from a big family. As a matter of fact, I never got to sleep alone until I was married.

I don't think I'll get married again; every five years or so, I'll just find a woman I don't like and give her a house.

I grew up in a very large family in a very small house. I never slept alone until after I was married.

I had indeed seen a bright, beautiful light and had followed it, but it turned out to be a Kmart tire sale.

I have three ex-wives. I can't remember any of their names, so I just call 'em Plaintiff.

I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence.

If Love Were Oil, I'd Be About a Quart Low. (book title)

If soccer was an American soft drink, it would be Diet Pepsi.

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.

Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

Naked for a Southern means you ain't got no clothes on. Nekkid means you ain't got no clothes on and you up to somethin'.

Never order barbeque in a place that also serves quiche.

Real estate agents are God's plague on mankind when locusts are out of season.

Sex hasn't been the same since women started enjoying it.

Shoot low, boys. They're ridin' Shetland ponies.

The public, more often than not, will forgive mistakes, but it will not forgive trying to wriggle and weasel out of one.

There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.

There is something wrong when you wait in line thirty minutes to get a hamburger that was cooked for ninety seconds an hour ago.

Women who drink white wine either want to get married, sell you a piece of real estate, or redecorate your house; either way, it's expensive.

Writing a daily column is like being married to a nymphomaniac. The first two weeks is fun.


(October 20 is also the birthday of Art Buchwald and Joyce Brothers.)

Categories: Lewis Grizzard, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: John le Carré

Published Saturday, October 18, 2014 @ 8:55 PM EDT
Oct 18 2014

David John Moore Cornwell (b. October 19, 1931), pen name John le Carré, is a British author of espionage novels. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Cornwell worked for the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, and began writing novels under a pen name. His third novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) became an international best-seller, and it remains one of his best-known works. Following the success of this novel, he left MI6 to become a full-time author. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A committee is an animal with four back legs.

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.

A good man knows when to sacrifice himself, a bad man survives but loses his soul.

A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it.

America has entered one of its periods of historic madness, but this is the worst I can remember.

Americans believe that if you know something, you should do something about it.

At 65, when you've seen the world shape up as I have, there are only two things you can do: laugh or kill yourself.

Blackmail is more effective than bribery.

Elections are a Western jerk-off.

Fools, most linguists. Damn all to say in one language, so they learn another and say damn all in that.

Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.

History keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But she has one secret that I will reveal to you tonight in the greatest confidence. Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose.

I suffer from the same frustration that every decent American suffers from. That is, that you begin to wonder whether decent liberal instincts, decent humanitarian instincts, can actually penetrate the right-wing voice, get through the steering of American opinion by the mass media.

I think bankers will always get away with whatever they can get away with.

I think, increasingly, despite what we are being told is an ever more open world of communication, there is a terrible alienation in the ordinary man between what he is being told and what he secretly believes.

If there is one eternal truth of politics, it is that there are always a dozen good reasons for doing nothing.

If you're growing up in a chaotic world without reason, your instinct is to become a performer and control the circumstances around you. You lead from weakness into strength; you have an undefended back.

If you're reporting on human misery, you do well to share it.

Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love.

Luck's just another word for destiny... either you make your own or you're screwed.

My definition of a decent society is one that first of all takes care of its losers, and protects its weak.

Never trade a secret, you'll always get the short end of the bargain.

No problem exists in isolation, one must first reduce it to its basic components, then tackle each component in turn.

Nothing in life... even a few broken bones, is without its reward.

Savages... are by nature rash. They have no middle gear. The middle gear of any man is self-discipline.

So odd to think of the Devil as a fumbler!

The friends of my friends are my friends.

The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous. But neither, in my experience, do we ever reach a plane of detachment regarding our parents, however wise and old we may become. To pretend otherwise is to cheat.

The neglected are too easily killed.

The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as terrifying as the things that are done- dare I say it- in the name of God,

There is a big difference between fighting the cold war and fighting radical Islam. The rules have changed and we haven't.

There's one thing worse than change and that's the status quo.

We are in the process of doing things in defense of our society which may very well produce a society which is not worth defending.

We lie to one another every day, in the sweetest way, often unconsciously. We dress ourselves and compose ourselves in order to present ourselves to one another.

When you assimilate, you choose.

Why is it that so many men of small stature have more courage than men of size?

You can't make war against terror. Terror is a technique of battle.

(John le Carré interview with Amy Goodman in The Greanville Post, 12/02/2010)

Categories: John le Carre, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: A.J. Liebling

Published Friday, October 17, 2014 @ 9:09 PM EDT
Oct 17 2014

Abbott Joseph "A. J." Liebling (October 18, 1904 - December 28, 1963) was an American journalist who was closely associated with The New Yorker from 1935 until his death. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A city with one newspaper, or with a morning and an evening paper under one ownership, is like a man with one eye, and often the eye is glass.

A Louisiana politician can't afford to let his animosities carry him away, and still less his principles, although there is seldom difficulty in that department.

An Englishman teaching an American about food is like the blind leading the one-eyed.

Chicago seems a big city instead of merely a large place.

Cynicism is often the shamefaced product of inexperience.

Freedom of the press belongs to them who own one..

I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.

I take a grave view of the press. It is the weak slat under the bed of democracy.

If the first requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite, the second is to put in your apprenticeship as a feeder when you have enough money to pay the check but not enough to produce indifference of the total.

If you just try long enough and hard enough, you can always manage to boot yourself in the posterior.

It is impossible for me to estimate how many of my early impressions of the world, correct and the opposite, came to me through newspapers. Homicide, adultery, no-hit pitching, and Balkanism were concepts that, left to my own devices, I would have encountered much later in life.

No sane man can afford to dispense with debilitating pleasures. No ascetic can be considered reliably sane.

People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.

Show me a poet, and I'll show you a shit.

Southern political personalities, like sweet corn, travel badly. They lose flavor with every hundred yards away from the patch. By the time they reach New York, they are like Golden Bantam that has been trucked up from Texas- stale and unprofitable. The consumer forgets that the corn tastes different where it grows.

The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.

The pattern of a newspaperman's life is like the plot of 'Black Beauty.' Sometimes he finds a kind master who gives him a dry stall and an occasional bran mash in the form of a Christmas bonus, sometimes he falls into the hands of a mean owner who drives him in spite of spavins and expects him to live on potato peelings.

The science of booby-trapping has taken a good deal of the fun out of following hot on the enemy's heels.

The way to write is well, and how is your own business.

The world isn't going backward, if you can just stay young enough to remember what it was really like when you were really young.

There is no concept more generally cherished by publishers than that of the Undeserving Poor.

Two kinds of person are consoling in a dangerous time: those who are completely courageous, and those who are more frightened than you are.


(October 18 is the birthday of Logan Pearsall Smith. Lewis Mumford, and Matthew Henry.)

Categories: A.J. Liebling, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: William O. Douglas

Published Wednesday, October 15, 2014 @ 11:53 PM EDT
Oct 15 2014

William Orville Douglas (October 16, 1898 – January 19, 1980) served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas was confirmed at the age of 40, one of the youngest justices appointed to the court. His term, lasting 36 years and 209 days (1939–75), is the longest term in the history of the Supreme Court. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purposes when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.

Absolute discretion is a ruthless master. It is more destructive of freedom than any of man's other inventions.

All executive power- from the reign of ancient kings to the rule of modern dictators- has the outward appearance of efficiency.

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like.

Christianity has sufficient inner strength to survive and flourish on its own. It does not need state subsidies, nor state privileges, nor state prestige. The more it obtains state support the greater it curtails human freedom.

Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience... that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance.

If discrimination based on race is constitutionally permissible when those who hold the reins can come up with "compelling" reasons to justify it, then constitutional guarantees acquire an accordion-like quality.

It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies. We need all the ingenuity we possess to avert the holocaust.

Literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor.

Man is about to be an automaton; he is identifiable only in the computer. As a person of worth and creativity, as a being with an infinite potential, he retreats and battles the forces that make him inhuman.

No matter what the legislature may say, a man has the right to make his speech, print his handbill, compose his newspaper, and deliver his sermon without asking anyone's permission. The contrary suggestion is abhorrent to our traditions.

Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others.

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

The conception of political equality from the Declaration of Independence, to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, to the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Nineteenth Amendments could mean only one thing- one person, one vote.

The Constitution favors no racial group, no political or social group.

The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people.

The critical point is that the Constitution places the right of silence beyond the reach of government.

The dissent we witness is a reaffirmation of faith in man; it is protest against living under rules and prejudices and attitudes that produce the extremes of wealth and poverty and that make us dedicated to the destruction of people through arms, bombs, and gases, and that prepare us to think alike and be submissive objects for the regime of the computer.

The Fifth Amendment is an old friend and a good friend, one of the great landmarks in men's struggle to be free of tyranny, to be decent and civilized.

The law is not a series of calculating machines where answers come tumbling out when the right levers are pushed.

The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected.

The purpose of the University of Washington cannot be to produce black lawyers for blacks, Polish lawyers for Poles, Jewish lawyers for Jews, Irish lawyers for Irish. It should be to produce good lawyers for Americans and not to place First Amendment barriers against anyone.

The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.

The right to dissent is the only thing that makes life tolerable for a judge of an appellate court... the affairs of government could not be conducted by democratic standards without it.

The rules when the giants play are the same as when the pygmies enter the market.

The struggle is always between the individual and his sacred right to express himself and the power structure that seeks conformity, suppression, and obedience.

The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth.

The whole, though larger than any of its parts, does not necessarily obscure their separate identities.

Violence has no constitutional sanction; and every government from the beginning has moved against it. But where grievances pile high and most of the elected spokesmen represent the Establishment, violence may be the only effective response.

We must realize that today's Establishment is the New George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.

We need to be bold and adventurous in our thinking in order to survive.

When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen's constitutional right to free speech, it acts lawlessly; and the citizen can take matters in his own hands and proceed on the basis that such a law is no law at all.


(October 16 is also the birthday of Oscar Wilde and Eugene O'Neill)

Categories: Quotes of the day, William O. Douglas

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Quotes of the day: P.G. Wodehouse

Published Tuesday, October 14, 2014 @ 9:44 PM EDT
Oct 14 2014

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE (October 15, 1881 – February 14, 1975) was an English humorist whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years, and his many writings continue to be widely read. Despite the political and social upheavals that occurred during his life, much of which was spent in France and the United States, Wodehouse's main canvas remained that of a pre– and post–World War I English upper class society, reflecting his birth, education, and youthful writing career. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A girl who bonnets a policeman with an ashcan full of bottles is obviously good wife-and-mother timber.

A man who has spent most of his adult life trying out a series of patent medicines is always an optimist.

At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.

Boyhood, like measles, is one of those complaints which a man should catch young and have done with, for when it comes in middle life it is apt to be serious.

Chumps always make the best husbands... All the unhappy marriages come from the husbands having brains.

Dedication: To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.

Every author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes books.

Golf is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.

He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.

He groaned slightly and winced like Prometheus watching his vulture dropping in for lunch.

He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.

He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.

He was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say when.

He was white and shaken, like a dry martini.

I always advise people never to give advice.

I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

I'd always thought her half-baked, but now I think they didn't even put her in the oven.

I'm not absolutely certain of the facts, but I rather fancy it's Shakespeare who says that it's always just when a fellow is feeling particularly braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with the bit of lead piping.

It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.

It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.

It is true of course, that I have a will of iron, but it can be switched off if the circumstances seem to demand it.

It was one of those parties where you cough twice before you speak, and then decide not to say it after all.

Love has had a lot of press-agenting from the oldest times; but there are higher, nobler things than love.

Many a man may look respectable, and yet be able to hide at will behind a spiral staircase.

Marriage is not a process for prolonging the life of love, sir. It merely mummifies its corpse.

Mere abuse is no criticism.

Never put anything on paper, my boy, and never trust a man with a small black moustache.

One of the drawbacks to life is that it contains moments when one is compelled to tell the truth.

Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.

She had more curves than a scenic railway.

Slice him where you like, a hellhound is always a hellhound.

Some minds are like soup in a poor restaurant- better left unstirred.

The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G.K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin.

The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.

There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second, that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can't think what to do with the long winter evenings.

There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.

To my daughter Leonora without whose never failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been completed in half the time.

Unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing-glove.

Whatever may be said in favor of the Victorians, it is pretty generally admitted that few of them were to be trusted within reach of a trowel and a pile of bricks.

When it comes to letting the world in on the secrets of his heart, he has about as much shrinking reticence as a steam calliope.

When you have been just told that the girl you love is definitely betrothed to another, you begin to understand how Anarchists must feel when the bomb goes off too soon.

Why don't you get a haircut? You look like a chrysanthemum.

You can't go by what a girl says, when she's giving you hell for making a chump of yourself. It's like Shakespeare. Sounds well but doesn't mean anything.


(October 15 is also the birthday of Friedrich Nietzsche/)

Categories: P.G. Wodehouse, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: William Penn

Published Monday, October 13, 2014 @ 9:15 PM EDT
Oct 13 2014

William Penn (October 14, 1644 - July 30, 1718) was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Indians. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it.

Force may make hypocrites, but it can never make converts.

Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too.

If a civil word or two will render a man happy, he must be a wretch indeed who will not tell them to him.

It were better to be of no church, than to be bitter for any.

Let the people think they govern and they will be governed.

Liberty without obedience is confusion, and obedience without liberty us slavery.

Men are generally more careful of the breed of their horses and dogs than of their children.

Much reading is an oppression of the mind, and extinguishes the natural candle, which is the reason for so many senseless scholars in the world.

My prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot; for I owe my conscience to no mortal man.

No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.

Passion is a sort of fever in the mind, which ever leaves us weaker than it found us.

The public must and will be served.

There can be no Friendship where there is no Freedom

They have a right to censure, that have a heart to help: The rest is cruelty, not justice.

Time is what we want most, but what, alas! we use worst; and for which God will certainly most strictly reckon with us, when Time shall be no more.

To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers in politics as well as morals.

Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than from the arguments of its opposers.

Where charity keeps pace with grain, industry is blessed, but to slave to get, and keep it sordidly, is a sin against Providence, a vice in government and an injury to their neighbors.


(October 14 is also the birthday of Dwight Eisenhower and E.E. Cummings.)

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Quotes of the day: Paul Simon

Published Sunday, October 12, 2014 @ 10:20 PM EDT
Oct 12 2014

Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American musician, actor and singer-songwriter. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote nearly all of the pair's songs, including three that reached No. 1 on the U.S. singles charts: "The Sound of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water". The duo split up in 1970 at the height of their popularity, and Simon began a successful solo career as a guitarist and singer-songwriter, recording three highly acclaimed albums over the next five years. In 1986, he released Graceland, an album inspired by South African township music. Simon also wrote and starred in the film One-Trick Pony (1980) and co-wrote the Broadway musical The Capeman (1998) with the poet Derek Walcott.

Simon has earned 12 Grammys for his solo and collaborative work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2006 was selected as one of the "100 People Who Shaped the World" by Time magazine. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine named Simon as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. Among many other honors, Simon was the first recipient of the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007. In 1986, Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All lies and jests, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

Faith is an island in the setting sun,
But proof is the bottom line for everyone.

I believe it's no good to talk about your songs; it's wrong. You should leave your songs alone and let them say what they say; let people take what they want from them.

I get all the news I need from the weather report.

I'm more interested in what I discover than what I invent.

Improvisation is too good to leave to chance.

In terms of quality of work, experience is an advantage. But when the whole culture changes its value system, as ours has been doing, you can evolve in a way that's appropriate for your age and still wind up as an artifact.

It's actually very difficult to make something both simple and good.

Much of songwriting is simply a mystery.

Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.

One man's ceiling is another man's floor.

Sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears.

The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenements halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.

We work our jobs, collect our pay; believe were gliding down the highway when in fact, we're slip sliding away.

When I look back on all the crap
I learned in high school,
It's a wonder
I can think at all.
(lyrics, Kodachrome)

(October 13 is also the birthday of Lenny Bruce.)

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Quotes of the day: Jean Cocteau

Published Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 11:11 PM EDT
Oct 10 2014

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (July 5, 1889 – October 11, 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. Cocteau is best known for his novel Les Enfants Terribles (1929), and the films Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orpheus (1949) (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All good music resembles something. Good music stirs by its mysterious resemblance to the objects and feelings which motivated it.

An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.

An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.

Anything of any importance cannot help but be unrecognizable, since it bears no resemblance to anything already known.

Art is science made clear.

Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.

Be a constant outrage to modesty. There is nothing to fear: modesty is exercised only among the blind.

Be a mere assistant to your unconscious. Do only half the work. The rest will do itself.

Beauty cannot be recognized with a cursory glance.

Disavow anyone who provokes or accepts the extermination of a race to which he does not belong.

Do not fear being ridiculous in relation to the ridiculous.

Do not take up cause against the inaccuracies printed about you. They are your protection.

Expect neither reward nor beatitude. Return noble waves for ignoble.

Fight any instinct to be humorless, for humorlessness is the worst of all absurdities.

Hate only hatred.

History is a combination of reality and lies. The reality of history becomes a lie. The unreality of the fable becomes the truth.

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.

If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.

Know that your work speaks only to those on the same wavelength as you.

Life is a horizontal fall.

Mirrors would do well to reflect a little more before sending back images.

Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs.

One is either judge or accused. The judge sits, the accused stands. Live on your feet.

One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.

Respect movements, flee schools.

See your disappointments as good fortune. One plan's deflation is another's inflation.

Tact in audacity is knowing how far you can go without going too far.

The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.

The ear disapproves but tolerates certain musical pieces; transfer them into the domain of our nose, and we will be forced to flee.

The extreme limit of wisdom- that's what the public calls madness.

The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.

The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, they finish by loading honors on your head.

The joy of youth is to disobey, but the trouble is that there are no longer any orders.

The poet never asks for admiration; he wants to be believed.

The skin of all of us is responsive to gypsy songs and military marches.

The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.

There are truths which one can only say after having won the right to say them.

There is always a period when a man with a beard shaves it off. This period does not last. He returns headlong to his beard.

This sickness, to express oneself. What is it?

True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.

Understand that some of your enemies are amongst your best friends.

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?

We shelter an angel within us. We must be the guardians of that angel.

Wealth is an inborn attitude of mind, like poverty. The pauper who has made his pile may flaunt his spoils, but cannot wear them plausibly.

What is history after all? History is facts which become lies in the end; legends are lies which become history in the end.

What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.

When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.

You've never seen death? Look in the mirror every day and you will see it like bees working in a glass hive.


(October 11 is also the birthday of Eleanor Roosevelt)

Categories: Jean Cocteau, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: Harold Pinter

Published Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 9:41 PM EDT
Oct 09 2014

Harold Pinter, CH, CBE (October 10, 1930 - December 24, 2008) was a Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director and actor. One of the most influential modern British dramatists, his writing career spanned more than 50 years. His best- known plays include The Birthday Party (1957), The Homecoming (1964), and Betrayal (1978), each of which he adapted for the screen. His screenplay adaptations of others' works include The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1970), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), The Trial (1993), and Sleuth (2007). He also directed or acted in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others' works. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All that happens is that the destruction of human beings- unless they're Americans- is called collateral damage.

Apart from the known and the unknown, what else is there?

How can the unknown merit reverence?

I know little of women. But I've heard dread tales.

I ought not to speak about the dead because the dead are all over the place.

I sometimes feel that the past is never past.

I think it is the responsibility of a citizen of any country to say what he thinks.

If you have only one of something you can't say it's the best of anything.

It was difficult being a conscientious objector in the 1940s, but I felt I had to stick to my guns.

It's so easy for propaganda to work, and dissent to be mocked.

It's very difficult to feel contempt for others when you see yourself in the mirror.

Language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you... at any time.

Most of the press is in league with government, or with the status quo.

Nothing is more sterile or lamentable than the man content to live within himself.

One way of looking at speech is to say it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.

One's life has many compartments.

Our beginnings never know our ends.

Tell me more about the quaint little perversions of your life and times.

The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend you remember.

There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.

There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.

We admit possibility only after we grant necessity.

You don't have to believe anything.

You don't know what your trouble is, my friend. That's your trouble.

Categories: Harold Pinter, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: John Lennon

Published Wednesday, October 08, 2014 @ 9:19 PM EDT
Oct 08 2014

John Ono Lennon, MBE (born John Winston Lennon; October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980), was an English musician, singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a founding member of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. With Paul McCartney, he formed a songwriting partnership that is one of the most celebrated of the 20th century. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

Above all else never let people know how physically unattractive they actually are. Everyone deserves to believe they are beautiful.

All kids draw and write poetry and everything, and some of us last until we're about eighteen, but most drop off at about twelve when some guy comes up and says, 'You're no good.' That's all we get told all our lives.

All we are saying is give peace a chance.

As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.

Before Elvis, there was nothing. (Attributed)

Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it'll always get you the right ones.

Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

God is a concept by which we measure our pain.

Happiness is just how you feel when you don't feel miserable.

I really thought that love would save us all.

I think people who need a church should go. And the others who know the church is in your own head should visit that temple because that's where the source is.

I'm not afraid of dying. I'm prepared for death because I don't believe in it. I think it's just getting out of one car and getting into another.

It's better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out.

It's just natural, it's not a great disaster. People keep talking about it like it's The End of The Earth. It's only a rock group that split up, it's nothing important. You know, you have all the old records there if you want to reminisce.

It's only a rock group that split up, it's nothing important. You know, you have all the old records there if you want to reminisce.

It's quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don't expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself.

Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives.

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

The more I see, the less I know for sure.

The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.

There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.
All you need is love.

These critics with the illusions they've created about artists- it's like idol worship. They only like people when they're on their way up.

We all have everything within us and the Kingdom of Heaven is nigh and within us, and if you look hard enough you'll see it.

We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight.

When I was about twelve, I used to think I must be a genius, but nobody's noticed. Either I'm a genius or I'm mad, which is it? 'No,' I said, 'I can't be mad because nobody's put me away; therefore I'm a genius.' Genius is a form of madness and we're all that way. But I used to be coy about it, like me guitar playing. But if there's such a thing as genius — I am one. And if there isn't, I don't care.

When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

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Quotes of the day: Frank Herbert

Published Tuesday, October 07, 2014 @ 7:14 PM EDT
Oct 07 2014

Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 - February 11, 1986) was an American science fiction writer best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. Though he became famous for science fiction, he was also a newspaper journalist, photographer, short story writer, book reviewer, ecological consultant and lecturer. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Do you want an absolute prediction? Then you want only today, and you reject tomorrow. You are the ultimate conservative. You are trying to hold back movement in an infinitely changing universe. The verb to be does make idiots of us all.

Does a population have informed consent when a ruling minority acts in secret to ignite a war, doing this to justify the existence of the minority's forces?

Equal justice and equal opportunity are ideals we should seek, but we should recognize that humans administer the ideals and that humans do not have equal ability.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

If a leader cannot admit mistakes, these mistakes will be hidden. Who says our leaders must be perfect? Where do they learn this?

It is demonstrable that power structures tend to attract people who want power for the sake of power and that a significant proportion of such people are imbalanced- in a word, insane.

Mine religion for what is good and avoid what is deleterious. Don't condemn people who need it. Be very careful when that need becomes fanatical.

No matter how finely you subdivide time and space, each tiny division contains infinity.

Once human beings realize something can be done, they're not satisfied until they've done it.

Providence and Manifest Destiny are synonyms often invoked to support arguments based on wishful thinking.

Religion often partakes of the myth of progress that shields us from the terrors of an uncertain future.

Respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality.

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.

Survival is the ability to swim in strange water.

Technology is both a tool for helping humans and for destroying them. This is the paradox of our times which we're compelled to face.

The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future.

The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.

The more control, the more that requires control. This is the road to chaos.

The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.

The thing we must do intensely is be human together. People are more important than things.

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.

We are questioning more than the philosophy behind our dependence upon limited and limiting systems. We question the power structures that have grown up around such systems.

We must develop an absolute priority of humans ahead of profit- any humans ahead of any profit. Then we will survive.

What do you despise? By this are you truly known.

When a wise man does not understand, he says: 'I do not understand.' The fool and the uncultured are ashamed of their ignorance. They remain silent when a question could bring them wisdom.

When politics and religion are intermingled, a people is suffused with a sense of invulnerability, and gathering speed in their forward charge, they fail to see the cliff ahead of them.

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way.

You cannot understand a process by stopping it.

You should never be in the company of anyone with whom you would not want to die.

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Quotes of the day: Shana Alexander

Published Sunday, October 05, 2014 @ 9:14 PM EDT
Oct 05 2014

Shana Alexander (October 6, 1925 – June 23, 2005) was an American journalist, born Shana Ager in New York City. Although she became the first woman staff writer and columnist for Life magazine, she was best known for her participation in the "Point- Counterpoint" debate segments of 60 Minutes with conservative James J. Kilpatrick. She was a daughter of Tin Pan Alley composer Milton Ager, who composed the song "Happy Days Are Here Again," and his wife, columnist Cecelia Ager. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A handwritten, personal letter has become a genuine modern-day luxury, like a child's pony ride.

As a general rule, fans and idols should always be kept at arm's length, the length of the arm to be proportionate to the degree of sheer idolatry involved. Don't take a Beatle to lunch. Don't wait up to see if the Easter Bunny is real. Just enjoy the egg hunt.

Between the two poles of whole-truth and half-truth is slung the chancy hammock in which we all rock.

Evolution is fascinating to watch. To me it is the most interesting when one can observe the evolution of a single man.

Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground. Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices.

I don't believe man is a woman's natural enemy. Perhaps his lawyer is.

In a nation of celebrity worshipers, amid followers of the cult of personality, individual modesty becomes a heroic quality. I find heroism in the acceptance of anonymity, in the studied resistance to the normal American tropism toward the limelight.

Letters are expectation packaged in an envelope.

Ours is the first society in history in which parents expect to learn from their children, rather than the other way around. Such a topsy-turvy situation has come about at least in part because, unlike the rest of the world, we are an immigrant society, and for immigrants the only hope is in the kids.

Rumor and gossip, like sound itself, appear to travel by wave- effect, sheer preposterosity being no barrier.

The difficulty with becoming a patient is that as soon as you get horizontal, part of your being yearns, not for a doctor, but for a medicine man.

The mark of a true crush... is that you fall in love first and grope for reasons afterward.

The metabolism of a consumer society requires it continually to eat and excrete, every day throwing itself away in plastic bags.

The paradox of reality is that no image is as compelling as the one which exists only in the mind's eye.

The real trouble with the doctor image in America is that it has been grayed by the image of the doctor-as-businessman, the doctor-as- bureaucrat, the doctor-as-medical-robot, and the doctor-as-terrified- victim-of-malpractice-suits.

The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous.

What troubles me is not that movie stars run for office, but that they find it easy to get elected. It should be difficult. It should be difficult for millionaires, too.

While people now get into bed more readily and a lot more naturally than they once did, what happens there often seems less important.

Categories: Quotes of the day, Shana Alexander

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Quotes of the day: Denis Diderot

Published Saturday, October 04, 2014 @ 9:18 PM EDT
Oct 04 2014

(Sculpture of Diderot by Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1771)

Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 - July 31, 1784) was a French philosopher, art critic and writer. He was a prominent figure during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor and contributor to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d'Alembert. Diderot also contributed to literature, notably with Jacques le fataliste et son maître (Jacques the Fatalist and his Master), which was influenced by Laurence Sterne's novel Tristam Shandy in challenging conventions regarding novels and their structure and content, while also examining philosophical ideas about free will. Diderot is also known as the author of the dialogue Le Neveu de Rameau (Rameau's Nephew), upon which many articles and sermons about consumer desire have been based. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Bad company is as instructive as licentiousness. One makes up for the loss of one's innocence with the loss of one's prejudices.

Disturbances in society are never more fearful than when those who are stirring up the trouble can use the pretext of religion to mask their true designs.

Every man has his dignity. I'm willing to forget mine, but at my own discretion and not when someone else tells me to.

Evil always turns up in this world through some genius or other.

From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.

Happiest are the people who give most happiness to others.

I believe in God, although I live very happily with atheists... It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but not at all so to believe or not in God.

If there is one realm in which it is essential to be sublime, it is in wickedness. You spit on a petty thief, but you can't deny a kind of respect for the great criminal.

In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god... Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice.

In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.

It has been said that love robs those who have it of their wit, and gives it to those who have none.

Justice is the first virtue of those who command, and stops the complaints of those who obey.

Let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest.

Man was born to live with his fellow human beings. Separate him, isolate him, his character will go bad, a thousand ridiculous affects will invade his heart, extravagant thoughts will germinate in his brain, like thorns in an uncultivated land.

Morals are in all countries the result of legislation and government; they are not African or Asian or European: they are good or bad.

One may demand of me that I should seek truth, but not that I should find it.

Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things.

Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.

Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.

Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.

Power acquired by violence is only a usurpation, and lasts only as long as the force of him who commands prevails over that of those who obey.

Skepticism is the first step towards truth.

The good of the people must be the great purpose of government.

The more man ascends through the past, and the more he launches into the future, the greater he will be, and all these philosophers and ministers and truth-telling men who have fallen victims to the stupidity of nations, the atrocities of priests, the fury of tyrants, what consolation was left for them in death? This: That prejudice would pass, and that posterity would pour out the vial of ignominy upon their enemies. O Posterity! Holy and sacred stay of the unhappy and the oppressed; thou who art just, thou who art incorruptible, thou who findest the good man, who unmaskest the hypocrite, who breakest down the tyrant, may thy sure faith, thy consoling faith never, never abandon me!

The most dangerous madmen are those created by religion, and... people whose aim is to disrupt society always know how to make good use of them on occasion.

The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.

There are things I can't force. I must adjust. There are times when the greatest change needed is a change of my viewpoint.

There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge available to us: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation... Our observation of nature must be diligent, our reflection profound, and our experiments exact.

There is no kind of harassment that a man may not inflict on a woman with impunity in civilized societies.

There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.

There is only one passion, the passion for happiness.

Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: "My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly." This stranger is a theologian.

Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control.

We are constantly railing against the passions; we ascribe to them all of man's afflictions, and we forget that they are also the source of all his pleasures.

We are far more liable to catch the vices than the virtues of our associates.

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.

What a hell of an economic system! Some are replete with everything while others, whose stomachs are no less demanding, whose hunger is just as recurrent, have nothing to bite on.

What is this world of ours? ... a fleeting symmetry; a momentary order.

Categories: Denis Diderot, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: Rutherford B. Hayes

Published Friday, October 03, 2014 @ 8:00 PM EDT
Oct 03 2014

Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was the 19th President of the United States (1877–1881). As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction, began the efforts that led to civil service reform, and attempted to reconcile the divisions left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Abolish plutocracy if you would abolish poverty. As millionaires increase, pauperism grows. The more millionaires, the more paupers.

All appointments hurt. Five friends are made cold or hostile for every appointment; no new friends are made. All patronage is perilous to men of real ability or merit. It aids only those who lack other claims to public support.

As knowledge spreads, wealth spreads. To diffuse knowledge is to diffuse wealth. To give all an equal chance to acquire knowledge is the best and surest way to give all an equal chance to acquire property.

Constitutional statutes... which embody the settled public opinion of the people who enacted them and whom they are to govern- can always be enforced. But, if they embody only the sentiments of a bare majority…they are likely to injure the cause they are framed to advance.

Every age has its temptations, its weaknesses, its dangers. Ours is in the line of the snobbish and the sordid.

Fighting battles is like courting girls: those who make the most pretensions and are boldest usually win.

In avoiding the appearance of evil, I am not sure but I have sometimes unnecessarily deprived myself and others of innocent enjoyments.

It is the desire of the good people of the whole country that sectionalism as a factor in our politics should disappear.

It will be the duty of the Executive, with sufficient appropriations for the purpose, to prosecute unsparingly all who have been engaged in depriving citizens of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

One of the tests of the civilization of people is the treatment of its criminals.

Partisanship should be kept out of the pulpit... The blindest of partisans are preachers. All politicians expect and find more candor, fairness, and truth in politicians than in partisan preachers. They are not replied to- no chance to reply to them... The balance wheel of free institutions is free discussion. The pulpit allows no free discussion.

Strikes and boycotting are akin to war, and can be justified only on grounds analogous to those which justify war, viz., intolerable injustice and oppression.

The melancholy thing in our public life is the insane desire to get higher.

The President of the United States of necessity owes his election to office to the suffrage and zealous labors of a political party, the members of which cherish with ardor and regard as of essential importance the principles of their party organization; but he should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his party best who serves the country best.

The progress of society is mainly... the improvement in the condition of the workingmen of the world.

The real difficulty is with the vast wealth and power in the hands of the few and the unscrupulous who represent or control capital. Hundreds of laws of Congress and the state legislatures are in the interest of these men and against the interests of workingmen. These need to be exposed and repealed. All laws on corporations, on taxation, on trusts, wills, descent, and the like, need examination and extensive change. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations.- How is this? (March, 1888)

The unrestricted competition so commonly advocated does not leave us the survival of the fittest. The unscrupulous succeed best in accumulating wealth.

There can be no complete and permanent reform of the civil service until public opinion emancipates congressmen from all control and influence over government patronage. Legislation is required to establish the reform. No proper legislation is to be expected as long as members of Congress are engaged in procuring offices for their constituents.

Unjust attacks on public men do them more good than unmerited praise.

War is a cruel business and there is brutality in it on all sides...

We all agree that neither the Government nor political parties ought to interfere with religious sects. It is equally true that religious sects ought not to interfere with the Government or with political parties. We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion both suffer by all such interference.


Rutherford B. Hayes: The National Hero of... Paraguay?


(October 4 is also the birthday of Damon Runyon.)

Categories: Quotes of the day, Rutherford B. Hayes

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Quotes of the day: Thomas Wolfe

Published Thursday, October 02, 2014 @ 11:03 PM EDT
Oct 02 2014

Thomas Clayton Wolfe (October 3, 1900 - September 15, 1938) was a major American novelist of the early 20th century. Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written and published from the 1920s to the 1940s, vividly reflect on American culture and mores of the period, albeit filtered through Wolfe's sensitive, sophisticated and hyper-analytical perspective. He became very famous during his own lifetime. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A young man is so strong, so mad, so certain, and so lost. He has everything and he is able to use nothing.

All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.

And the eternal paradox of it is that if a man is to know the triumphant labor of creation, he must for long periods resign himself to loneliness.

Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.

Death the last voyage, the longest, and the best.

He who lets himself be whored by fashion will be whored by time.

I believe that we are lost here in America, but I believe we shall be found. And this belief, which mounts now to the catharsis of knowledge and conviction, is for me- and I think for all of us- not only our own hope, but America's everlasting, living dream.

I think the enemy is here before us…I think the enemy is simple selfishness and compulsive greed…I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land.

If a man has talent and can't use it, he's failed. If he uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.

Is this not the true romantic feeling; not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you.

Loneliness... is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.

Most of the time we think we're sick, it's all in the mind.

Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America- that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement.

The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.

The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.

There are some people who have the quality of richness and joy in them and they communicate it to everything they touch. It is first of all a physical quality, then it is a quality of the spirit.

To believe that new monsters will arise as vicious as the old, to believe that the great Pandora's Box of human frailty, once opened, will never show a diminution of its ugly swarm, is to help, by just that much, to make it so forever.

You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity.

Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?


(October 3 is also the birthday of Gore Vidal.)

Categories: Quotes of the day, Thomas Wolfe

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Quotes of the day: Graham Greene

Published Wednesday, October 01, 2014 @ 7:26 PM EDT
Oct 01 2014

Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH (October 2, 1904 - April 3, 1991) was an English novelist and author regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene had acquired a reputation early in his own lifetime as a great writer, both of serious Catholic novels and of thrillers (or "entertainments," as he termed them); however, even though shortlisted in 1967, he was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through 67 years of writings which included over 25 novels, he explored the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world through a Catholic perspective. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

As long as one suffers one lives.

Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.

Childhood was the germ of all mistrust. You were cruelly joked upon and then you cruelly joked. You lost the remembrance of pain through inflicting it.

Death will come in any case, and there is a long afterwards if the priests are right and nothing to fear if they are wrong.

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim.

Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.

However great a man's fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear-headed act of a mathematician.

I had very good dentures once. Some magnificent gold work. It's the only form of jewelry a man can wear that women fully appreciate.

In a mad world it always seems simpler to obey.

In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace- and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.

Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.

It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.

It's a good world if you don't weaken.

It's typical of Mexico, of the whole human race perhaps- violence in favor of an ideal and then the ideal lost but the violence just going on.

Media is a word that has come to mean bad journalism.

Morality comes with the sad wisdom of age, when the sense of curiosity has withered.

Most things disappoint till you look deeper.

No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another's happiness.

Our worst enemies here are not the ignorant and the simple, however cruel; our worst enemies are the intelligent and corrupt.

People don't like reality, they don't like common sense, until age forces it on them.

People who like quotations love meaningless generalizations.

Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either extreme egotism, evil- or else an absolute ignorance.

Reality in our century is not something to be faced.

Sometimes I see myself reflected too closely in other men for comfort, and then I have an enormous wish to believe in the saints, in heroic virtue.

Sooner or later... one has to take sides- if one is to remain human.

Success is more dangerous than failure, the ripples break over a wider coastline.

Suffering is not increased by numbers; one body can contain all the suffering the world can feel.

The hurt is in the act of possession; we are too small in mind and body to possess another person without pride or to be possessed without humiliation.

The man who offers a bribe gives away a little of his own importance; the bribe once accepted, he becomes the inferior, like a man who has paid for a woman.

The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belong to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.

The trouble is I don't believe my unbelief.

The world is not black and white. More like black and grey.

There is a point of no return, unremarked at the time, in most lives.

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.

There's a virtue in slowness, which we have lost.

To me comfort is like the wrong memory at the wrong place or time: if one is lonely one prefers discomfort.

Unfortunately the innocent are always involved in any conflict. Always, everywhere, there is some voice crying from a tower.

We are all of us resigned to death; it's life we aren't resigned to.

We forget very easily what gives us pain.

We never get accustomed to being less important to other people than they are to us.

You can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity.


(Also born on October 2: Mahatma Gandhi and Groucho Marx.)

Categories: Graham Greene, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: Walter Annenberg

Published Tuesday, September 30, 2014 @ 11:44 PM EDT
Sep 30 2014

Walter Hubert Annenberg (March 13, 1908 - October 1, 2002) was an American publisher, philanthropist, and diplomat. He built up his family's magazine business with great success, extending it into radio and TV. At Sunnylands, his grand estate near Palm Springs, California, he entertained royalty, presidents and celebrities. He was United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1969-74. A keen philanthropist, he was a trustee of the Eisenhower Fellowships, and is believed to have donated $2 billion to educational establishments and art galleries. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Accomplish something every day of your life.

Adversity tests us from time to time and it is inevitable that this testing continues during life.

All I ever seek from good deeds is a measure of respect.

Don't worry about it. Babe Ruth struck out on occasion, too.

Everybody around the world wants to send their kids to our universities. But nobody wants to send their kids here to public school.

Few things are as essential as education.

God grant you the strength to fight off the temptations of surrender.

I cannot compromise or inhibit my independence.

I didn't want to be greedy. It's a mark of bad character and I always believed that pigs go the slaughterhouse.

I shall participate, I shall contribute, and in so doing, I will be the gainer.

In the world today, a young lady who does not have a college education just is not educated.

It is not easy to find something that will intrigue and bind your interest and enthusiasm. This you must seek for yourself.

Just to pile up money for my own sake, I just can't view that as good citizenship.

Live rich, die poor; never make the mistake of doing it the other way round.

Many activities and team play participation will give you a training that will prove invaluable later on in life.

My country has been very good to me; I must be good to my country.

My success? Being born the son of Moses Annenberg.

Never buy four C-plus paintings when you can buy one A.

Our blood will turn from red to blue, although our money is but new.

People who think about art as an investment are pathetic.

Some people find an interest in making money, and though they appear to be slaving, many actually enjoy every minute of their work.

The greatest happiness comes from being vitally interested in something that excites all your energies.

The greatest power is not money power, but political power.

The test of character is having the ability to meet challenges.

Too much work, too much vacation, too much of any one thing is unsound.

What matters is that you are doing what you think is right based on the standards which you hold.

When we hold back out of laziness, that is when we tie ourselves into knots of boredom.

You will not be satisfied unless you are contributing something to or for the benefit of others.


(October 1 is also the birthday of JimmyCarter and Daniel J. Boorstin )

Categories: Quotes of the day, Walter Annenberg

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Quotes of the day: Elie Wiesel

Published Monday, September 29, 2014 @ 7:33 PM EDT
Sep 29 2014

Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE (b. September 30, 1928) is a Romanian-born Jewish-American professor and political activist. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel is also the Advisory Board chairman of the newspaper Algemeiner Journal. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A destruction only man can provoke, only man can prevent. Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures, it is our gift to each other.

An immoral society betrays humanity because it betrays the basis for humanity, which is memory.

Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.

Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.

I believe that all the survivors are mad. One time or another their madness will explode. You cannot absorb that much madness and not be influenced by it.

I don't believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents.

I had anger but never hate. Before the war, I was too busy studying to hate. After the war, I thought, What's the use? To hate would be to reduce myself.

I rarely speak about God. To God, yes. I protest against Him. I shout at Him. But to open a discourse about the qualities of God, about the problems that God imposes, theodicy, no. And yet He is there, in silence, in filigree.

Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.

Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.

Man, as long as he lives, is immortal. One minute before his death he shall be immortal. But one minute later, God wins.

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning.

No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.

Nobody is stronger, nobody is weaker than someone who came back. There is nothing you can do to such a person because whatever you could do is less than what has already been done to him. We have already paid the price.

None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but it is our obligation to denounce it and expose it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims.

Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.

Remember that despair is never the solution. Remember, hatred is never an option. Remember that hope is not a gift given to us, hope is a gift that we give to others.

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.

There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.

There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the re sult of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them.

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace... War may be too much a part of history to be eliminated- ever.

We are heading towards catastrophe. I think the world is going to pieces. I am very pessimistic. Why? Because the world hasn't been punished yet, and the only punishment that could be adequate is the nuclear destruction of the world.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

What does mysticism really mean? It means the way to attain knowledge. It's close to philosophy, except in philosophy you go horizontally while in mysticism you go vertically.

When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.

When you see the abyss, and we have looked into it, then what? There isn't much room at the edge- one person, another, not many. If you are there, others cannot be there. If you are there, you become a protective wall. What happens? You become part of the abyss.

Whenever an angel says 'Be not afraid!' you'd better start worrying. A big assignment is on the way.

Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.

Categories: Elie Wiesel, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: Miguel de Cervantes

Published Sunday, September 28, 2014 @ 7:55 PM EDT
Sep 28 2014

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (September 29, 1547 - April 22, 1616) often known mononymously as Cervantes, was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern European novel, is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written. His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that the language is often called la lengua de Cervantes ("the language of Cervantes"). He was dubbed El Príncipe de los Ingenios ("The Prince of Wits"). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A private sin is not so prejudicial in this world as a public indecency.

By a small sample we may judge of the whole piece.

Can we ever have too much of a good thing?

Delay always breeds danger.

Every man is as Heaven made him, and sometimes a great deal worse.

Every man was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Fear is sharp-sighted, and can see things underground, and much more in the skies.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Great persons are able to do great kindnesses.

Honesty is the best policy, I will stick to that.

I find my familiarity with thee has bred contempt.

I say patience, and shuffle the cards.

If the pitcher hits the stone, or the stone hits the pitcher, it's a bad business for the pitcher.

Ill luck, you know, seldom comes alone.

In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.

In the night all cats are grey.

It is good to live and learn.

It is one thing to praise discipline, and another to submit to it.

It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.

Jests that give pains are no jests.

Let every man mind his own business.

Let us make hay while the sun shines.

Love and War are the same thing, and stratagems and policy are as allowable in the one as in the other.

Many count their chickens before they are hatched; and where they expect bacon, meet with broken bones.

Many go out for wool, and come home shorn themselves.

Never look for birds of this year in the nests of the last.

Rome was not built in a day.

The best sauce in the world is hunger.

The brave man carves out his fortune, and every man is the son of his own works.

The pot calls the kettle black.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The worst reconciliation is better than the best divorce.

There is a remedy for all things but death, which will be sure to lay us out flat some time or other.

There were but two families in the world, the Haves and the Have- Nots.

There's not the least thing can be said or done, but people will talk and find fault.

Those who will play with cats must expect to be scratched.

Truth may be stretched, but it cannot be broken, and always gets above falsehood, as oil does above water.

Until death, it is all life.

Categories: Miguel de Cervantes, Quotes of the day

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Quotes of the day: Seymour Cray

Published Saturday, September 27, 2014 @ 7:48 PM EDT
Sep 27 2014

Seymour Roger Cray (September 28, 1925 – October 5, 1996) was a U.S. electrical engineer and supercomputer architect who designed a series of computers that were the fastest in the world for decades, and founded the company Cray Research which would build many of these machines. Called "the father of supercomputing," Cray has been credited with creating the supercomputer industry through his efforts. (Click here for full IEEE article)


Anyone can build a fast CPU. The trick is to build a fast system.

Don't do anything that other people are doing. Always do something a little different if you can.

Five-year goal: Build the biggest computer in the world. One-year goal: Achieve one-fifth of the above.

I enjoy working with young people because they have a lot of enthusiasm and most basically they don't know it can't be done yet.

I just design these things for myself. I'm always surprised when other people use them. I don't know what all this supercomputer talk is about. They certainly aren't supercomputers; they are kind of simple, dumb things.

I'm supposed to be a scientific person but I use intuition more than logic in making basic decisions.

If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use? Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens? (re: supercomputers vs parallel computing)

Memory is like an orgasm. It's a lot better if you don't have to fake it. (re: computer virtual memory)

Parity is for farmers. (On why he left memory error-correcting code out of the CDC 6600.)
I learned that a lot of farmers buy computers. (After he did include error-correcting code on the CDC 7600)

Take me out on the town once in a while. But not too often.

The blank sheet of paper is not a blank mind.

The trouble with programmers is that you can never tell what a programmer is doing until it's too late.

Categories: Quotes of the day, Seymour Cray

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Quotes of the day: Samuel Adams

Published Friday, September 26, 2014 @ 7:44 PM EDT
Sep 26 2014

Samuel Adams (September 27, 1722 - October 2, 1803) was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States. He was a second cousin to President John Adams. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.

Freedom of thought and the right of private judgment, in matters of conscience, driven from every other corner of the earth, direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum.

Governors have no right to seek and take what they please...

How strangely will the tools of a tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words.

If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.

In monarchy the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death.

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.

It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions.

It requires time to bring honest Men to think and determine alike even in important matters. Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.

The Legislative has no right to absolute, arbitrary power over the lives and fortunes of the people; nor can mortals assume a prerogative not only too high for men, but for angels, and therefore reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone.

The liberties of our Country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.

The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.

The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought.

We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them.

We must not conclude merely upon a man's haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country. It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty- to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves.

Were the talents and virtues which heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all?


(September 27 is also the birthday of Henri Frédéric Amiel.)

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Quotes of the day: Martin Heidegger

Published Thursday, September 25, 2014 @ 11:32 PM EDT
Sep 25 2014

Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 - May 26, 1976) was a German philosopher, widely seen as a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition, particularly within the fields of existential phenomenology and philosophical hermeneutics. From his beginnings as a Catholic academic, he developed a groundbreaking philosophy that influenced literary, social and political theory, art and aesthetics, architecture, cultural anthropology, design, environmentalism, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. His relationship with Nazism has been a controversial and widely debated subject. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Agriculture is now a motorized food industry, the same thing in its essence as the production of corpses in the gas chambers and the extermination camps, the same thing as blockades and the reduction of countries to famine, the same thing as the manufacture of hydrogen bombs.

Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.

Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it. But we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral; for this conception of it, to which today we particularly like to do homage, makes us utterly blind to the essence of technology.

From our human experience and history, at least as far as I am informed, I know that everything essential and great has only emerged when human beings had a home and were rooted in a tradition. Today’s literature is, for instance, largely destructive.

I see the situation of man in the world of planetary technicity not as an inextricable and inescapable destiny, but I see the task of thought precisely in this, that within its own limits it helps man as such achieve a satisfactory relationship to the essence of technicity. National Socialism did indeed go in this direction. Those people, however, were far too poorly equipped for thought to arrive at a really explicit relationship to what is happening today and has been underway for the past 300 years.

If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life- and only then will I be free to become myself.

In everything well known something worthy of thought still lurks.

In its essence, technology is something that man does not control.

Language is the house of the truth of Being.

Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.

The domination of the public way in which things have been interpreted has already decided upon even the possibilities of being attuned, that is, about the basic way in which Da-sein lets itself be affected by the world. The they prescribes that attunement, it determines what and how one 'sees.'

The human being is not the lord of beings, but the shepherd of Being.

The human body is essentially something other than an animal organism.

The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.

The possible ranks higher than the actual.

The small are always dependent on the great; they are 'small' precisely because they think they are independent. The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other 'greats' and who can transform it in an original manner.

The word 'art' does not designate the concept of a mere eventuality; it is a concept of rank.

Thinking begins only when we have come to know that reason, glorified for centuries, is the stiff-necked adversary of thought.

Today we decide about metaphysics and about even more elevated things at philosophy conferences. For everything that is to be done these days we must first have a meeting, and here is how it works: people come together, constantly come together, and they all wait for one another to turn up so that the others will tell them how it is, and if it doesn’t get said, never mind, everyone has had their say. It may very well be that all the talkers who are having their say have understood little of the matter in question, but still we believe that if we accumulate all that misunderstanding something like understanding will leap forth at the end of the day. Thus there are people today who travel from one meeting to the next and who are sustained by the confidence that something is really happening, that they’ve actually done something; whereas, at bottom, they’ve merely ducked out of work, seeking in chatter a place to build a nest for their helplessness- a helplessness, it is true, that they will never understand.

Transcendence constitutes selfhood.

We do not 'have' a body; rather, we 'are' bodily.

We ourselves are the entities to be analyzed.

We think of beauty as being most worthy of reverence. But what is most worthy of reverence lights up only where the magnificent strength to revere is alive. To revere is not a thing for the petty and lowly, the incapacitated and underdeveloped. It is a matter of tremendous passion; only what flows from such passion is in the grand style.

Who is to determine what the perfect is? It could only be those who are themselves perfect and who therefore know what it means. Here yawns the abyss of that circularity in which the whole of human Dasein moves. What health is, only the healthy can say. Yet healthfulness is measured according to the essential starting point of health. What truth is, only one who is truthful can discern; but the one who is truthful is determined according to the essential starting point of truth.

Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing? That is the question.


Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.
Monty Python - "The Philosophers Song"


(September 26 is also the birthday of T.S. Eliot.)

Categories: Martin Heidegger, Quotes of the day

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