These aren’t in any particular order, except that the first are by Lewis and Clarke. An odd thing, but two of my favorite authors who have helped me to define my writing style are atheists. One was proudly a militant agnostic and got mad when folks said he was merely atheist, as if that were a more pleasing choice of beliefs.
Since this list was made one quote at a time (or at least one author at a time) there are a few quotes off by themselves rather than grouped with other quotes by the same person. In particular there are two authors, one is again one of my favorites, the other is someone I have only recently learned about. See if you can find them, and discern which is which. Meanwhile, this list of quotes will make excellent fodder for future posts.
With the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
[God] is not proud…He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him.
Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.
Do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.
Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
Hatred obscures all distinctions.
In coming to understand anything we are rejecting the facts as they are for us in favour of the facts as they are.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…
And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies’ plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger.
Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
Through pride the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every vice, it’s the complete anti-God state of mind
If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all
– All fromC.S.Lewis
[Clarke’s Laws:] 1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. 2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. 3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.
I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.
The intelligence of the planet is constant, and the population is growing.
– All from Arthur C. Clarke, 1917 – 2008
If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.
– Isaac Newton
It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.
– Thomas Jefferson, 1762 – 1826
The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.
– Oscar Wilde, 1854 – 1900
What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?
– Isak Dinesen, pen name of Karen Blixen
Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.
It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.
The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master – something that at time strangely wills and works for itself.
Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.
If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust; the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse.
Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
– All from Charlotte Brontë, 1816 – 1855
Rome had Caesar, a man of remarkable governing talents, although it must be said that a ruler who arouses opponents to resort to assassination is probably not as smart as he ought to be.
– Barbara W. Tuchman, 1912 – 1989
How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.
– Neils Bohr
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed-door that we do not see the one which has opened.
– Alexander Graham Bell
Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.
It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
Most people would die sooner than think; in fact, they do so.
– All from Bertrand Russell, 1872 – 1970
By the end of high school I was not an educated man, but I knew how to try to become one.
For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.
When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.
As between mileage and experience, choose experience.
Experience teaches you that the man who looks you straight in the eye, particularly if he adds a firm handshake, is hiding something.
– All from Clifton Fadiman, 1904 – 1999
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.
It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.
– All from Lewis Carroll
I have been cautioned to talk but be careful not to say anything. I do not consider this a difficult task.
There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written – it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself.
I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.
– Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910
I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.
– Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, 1882 – 1971
He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.
– Francis Bacon
Engineering … to define rudely but not inaptly, is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion.
– Arthur Mellen Wellington The Economic Theory of Railway Location (1911)
Engineers are not mere technicians and should not approve or lend their name to any project that does not promise to be beneficent to man and the advancement of civilization
– John Fowler
Engineering is the art of modelling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyse so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.
– Dr AR Dykes British Institution of Structural Engineers, 1976
Engineers are not superhuman. They make mistakes in their assumptions, in their calculations, in their conclusions. That they make mistakes is forgivable; that they catch them is imperative. Thus it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one’s own work but also to have one’s work checked and to be able to check the work of others.
– Henry Petroski To Engineer Is Human.
Improvement makes strait roads: but the crooked roads without Improvement are roads of Genius.
– William Blake The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Phases of a Project:
1 — Exultation
2 — Disenchantment
3 — Search for the Guilty
4 — Punishment of the Innocent
5 — Praise for the Uninvolved
For ’tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petar; and’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon.
– William Shakespeare Hamlet Act 3, Scene 4
Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, but the real task is to alter it.
– Karl Marx Eleven Theses on Feuerbach
An engineer is someone who is good with figures, but doesn’t have the personality of an accountant.
– An Arts graduate’s view of engineers
Women think that an engineer is a man in hip boots building a dam. They don’t realize that 95 percent of engineering is done in a nice air-conditioned office.
– Beatrice Alice Hicks
Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.
– James A Michener
Engineering is a great profession. There is the satisfaction of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings homes to men or women. Then it elevates the standard of living and adds to the comforts of life. This is the engineer’s high privilege.
Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.
– Both from Herbert Clark Hoover, civil engineer, 1874 – 1964
God may be subtle, but He isn’t mean.
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
There comes a time when the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge but can never prove how it got there.
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself.
Scientists investigate that which already is; engineers create that which has never been.
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.
Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.
Before God we are equally wise – and equally foolish.
Why is it that nobody understands me and everybody likes me?
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
– Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
I really didn’t foresee the Internet. But then, neither did the computer industry. Not that that tells us very much, of course – the computer industry didn’t even foresee that the century was going to end.
The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
– Douglas Noel Adams, 1952 – 2001
When life hands you a lemon, say “Oh yeah, I like lemons. What else you got?
– Henry Rollins
Error is discipline through which we advance.
– William Ellery Channing
Eventually, you reach the point where you have to draw the line.
– Euclid’s Last Theorem
Every great improvement has come after repeated failures. Virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are fingerposts on the road to achievement.
– Charles F. Kettering
I’ve been to one World’s Fair, a picnic and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.
– Major T.J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove)
The ‘C’ students run the world.
You don’t set a fox to watching the chickens just because he has a lot of experience in the hen-house.
– Both from Harry S Truman, 1884 – 1972
Simply stated, it is sagacious to eschew obfuscation.
– Norman Augustine
You couldn’t get hold of the things you’d done and turn them right again. Such a power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to women and men, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens.
I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries.
– Both from Stephen King
The prudent see only the difficulties, the bold only the advantages, of a great enterprise; the hero sees both; diminishes the former and makes the latter preponderate, and so conquers.
– Johann Kaspar Lavater
Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words: wait and hope.
– Alexandre Dumas, père,Le comte de Monte Cristo
Thank goodness modern convenience is a thing of the remote future.
– Walt Kelly, 1913 – 1973
Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well as now.
– Phineas Taylor Barnum, 1810 – 1891
Literature should not be suppressed merely because it affects the moral code of the censor.
Mountains have a decent influence on men. I have never met along the trails of the high mountains a mean man who would cheat and steal. Certainly most men who are raised there or who work there are as wholesome as the mountains themselves. Those who explore them or foot or horseback usually are open, friendly men. At least that has been my experience.
Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others.
All from William O. Douglas, 1898 – 1980
From listening comes wisdom, and from speaking repentance.
– Italian proverb
The reverse side also has a reverse side.
– Japanese proverb
Epigrams succeed where epics fail.
– Persian proverb
The tears of strangers are only water.
– Russian proverb
Friends are lost by calling often and calling seldom.
– Scottish proverb
Remember…..Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.
Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights.
– Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1770 – 1831
People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.
– Bob Dylan
“We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.”
– T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
A man that would expect to train lobsters to fly in a year is called a lunatic; but a man that thinks men can be turned into angels by an election is a reformer and remains at large.
– Finley Peter Dunne, 1867 – 1936
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
– John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, 1892 – 1973
I want to see you shoot the way you shout.
– Theodore Roosevelt, 1858 – 1919
It may be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong – but that’s the way to bet.
– Damon Runyon, 1884 – 1946
Patience is also a form of action.
– François Auguste René Rodin, 1840 – 1917
All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.
– Both from François Marie Arouet (Voltaire), 1694 – 1778
Nothing is so useless as doing efficiently what shouldn’t be done.
– Peter Drucker
I have been told that a young would-be composer wrote to Mozart asking advice as to how to compose a symphony. Mozart responded that a symphony was a complex and demanding form and that it would be better to start with something simpler. The young man protested, ‘But Herr Mozart, you wrote symphonies when you were younger than I am now.’ And Mozart replied, ‘I never asked how.’
Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up
after being drunk all night.
Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.
– All from Isaac Asimov, 1920 – 1992
Recipe for success: Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.
– William A. Ward
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
– Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, 1830 – 1916
What’s the use of having ignorance if you can’t show it?
– Lou Costello
Americans have the watches; Africans have the time.
In all of Shakespeare’s plays, no matter what tragic events occur, no matter what rises and falls, we return to stability in the end.
– Charlton Heston, 1923 – 2008
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
– Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
It is better to aim at perfection and miss it than to aim at imperfection and hit it.
– Thomas John Watson, Sr, 1874 – 1956
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change.
– Charles Robert Darwin, 1809 – 1882
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?
– All from Benjamin Franklin, 1706 – 1790
To do nothing is in every man’s power.
– Dr Samuel Johnson, 1709 – 1784
An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight…. The truly wise person is colorblind.
– Albert Schweitzer, 1875 – 1965
Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
– Edwin Hubbel Chapin, 1814 – 1880
Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.
– Leroy “Satchel” Paige, 1906 – 1982
This is how humans are: we question all our beliefs, except for the ones we really believe, and those we never think to question.
– Orson Scott Card
The law says, ‘do this’, and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this’, and everything is already done.
– Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546
Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.
– Edith Wharton, 1862 – 1937
You can put wings on a pig, but you don’t make it an eagle.
– William Jefferson Clinton
You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead.
– Stan Laurel
Finally Understanding Faulkner
Four move checkmate is a difficult feat,
Symbolism is difficult in such a small piece.
– Unknown (did I do this, there’s a chance I did?)
The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof grace–bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us singlehandedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home free before they started…Grace was to be drunk neat: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale.
– Robert Farrar Capon
You can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.
– Bonnie Prudden
Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.
– Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905 – 1980
Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
– Both from William Faulkner, 1897 – 1962
Time is a wealth of change, but the clock in its parody makes it mere change and no wealth.
– Rabindranath Tagore, 1861 – 1941
In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed; they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!
– Orson Welles, 1915 – 1985
Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.
– Sam Levenson, 1911 – 1980
He said true things, but called them by wrong names.
Men get opinions as boys learn to spell: by reiteration chiefly.
An ignorance of means may minister to greatness, but an ignorance of aims make it impossible to be great at all.
The devil’s most devilish when respectable.
All from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861
One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organizations do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.
– Aiden Wilson Tozer, 1897 – 1963
In one case out of a hundred a point is excessively discussed because it is obscure; in the ninety-nine remaining it is obscure because it is excessively discussed.
– Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 – 1849
Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life comes when dreams are surrendered to reality.
– Both from James A. Michener, 1907 – 1997
The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917 – 1963
I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet gone ourselves.
– Edward Morgan Forster, 1879 – 1970
Inspiration never arrived when you were searching for it.
– Lisa Alther
Of course I don’t believe in it. [pointing to horseshoe on his office wall] But I understand that it brings you luck whether you believe in it or not.
– Niels Bohr, 1885 – 1962
Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?
– Frank Scully
A pun is not bound by the laws which limit nicer wit. It is a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect.
– Charles Lamb, 1775 – 1834
Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders.
The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas – a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.
Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
All from Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911 – 2004
Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is sign on as its accomplice.
– Tom Watson
If you board the wrong train, it’s no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.
There is no way to peace along the way to safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
All from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906 – 1945
There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; anything that is national is not scientific.
Nothing lulls and inebriates like money; when you have a lot, the world seems a better place than it actually is.
A good upbringing means not that you won’t spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won’t notice it when someone else does.
All from Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, 1860 – 1904
Just as the sand-dunes, heaped one upon another, hide each the first, so in life the former deeds are quickly hidden by those that follow after.
Never esteem anything as an advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.
The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.
– All from Marcus Aurelius, 121 – 180
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
– Henry Ford
If you learn to trust God when the sun is shining, it is easier to trust Him on the day when there are dark and lowering clouds in the sky and you are in one of life’s storms.
– J. Vernon McGee
In this day of gathering storms, as moral deterioration of political power spreads its growing infection, it is essential that every spiritual force be mobilized to defend and preserve the religious base upon which this nation is founded; for it has been that base which has been the motivating impulse to our moral and national growth. History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual reawakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.
– General Douglas MacArthur
Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.
– Ovid, Roman poet
Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoan to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoan, who gives us this assurance.
– Bertrand Russell, 1872 – 1970
Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.
– Herman Melville, 1819 – 1891
It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.
– Honoré de Balzac, 1799 – 1850
All seems infected that the infected spy,
As all looks yellow to the jaundiced eye.
Men must be taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.
It is with narrow-souled people as with narrow necked bottles: the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out.
Good nature and good sense must ever join;
To err is human, to forgive divine.
To be angry, is to revenge the fault of others upon ourselves.
– All from Alexander Pope, 1688 – 1744
The unexpected has happened so continually in my life that it has ceased to deserve the name.
It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
“What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence”, returned my companion, bitterly. “The question is, what can you make people believe that you have done.”
– all from Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859 – 1930
Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance.
– Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874 – 1936
If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.
– Larry McMurtry
The opportunities of man are limited only by his imagination. But so few have imagination that there are ten thousand fiddlers to one composer.
– Charles F. Kettering, 1876 – 1958
The great composer does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working.
– Ernest Newman
An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
– Henry Louis Mencken, 1880 – 1956
If only we could have two lives: the first in which to make one’s mistakes, which seem as if they have to be made; and the second in which to profit by them.
– D.H.Lawrence, 1885 – 1930
Every man should view himself as equally balanced: half good and half evil. Likewise, he should see the entire world as half good and half evil…. With a single good deed he will tip the scales for himself, and for the entire world, to the side of good.
– Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), 1135 – 1204
The difference between men and women is that, if given the choice between saving the life of an infant or catching a fly ball, a woman will automatically choose to save the infant, without even considering if there’s a man on base.
– Dave Barry
Never go back to a place where you have been happy. Until you do it remains alive for you. If you go back it will be destroyed.
It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting!
– Both from Agatha Christie, 1890 – 1976
A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.
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.
Confine yourself to observing and you always miss the point of your own life.
Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place.
Show me a completely smooth operation and I’ll show you a cover up. Real boats rock.
If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets.
All from Frank Herbert, 1920 – 1986
Audacibus annue coeptis (Look with favor upon a bold beginning.)
– Virgil, 70 – 19 BC
When we reflect on our past sentiments and affections, our thought is a faithful mirror, and copies its objects truly; but the colours which it employs are faint and dull, in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were clothed.
– David Hume, 1711 – 1776
Go and see what others have produced, but never copy anything except nature. You would be trying to enter into a temperament that is not yours and nothing that you would do would have any character.
– Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1841 – 1919
Some counterfeits reproduce so very well the truth that it would be a flaw of judgment not to be deceived by them.
– François,Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 1613 – 1680
Although knowledge of how things work is sufficient to allow manipulation of nature, what humans really want to know is why things work. Children don’t ask how the sky is blue. They ask why the sky is blue.
In the information society, nobody thinks. We expect to banish paper, but we actually banish thought.
Both from Michael Crichton, 1942 – 2008
The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying.
Be charitable before wealth makes you covetous.
We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.
All from Thomas Browne, 1605 – 1682
Only the mediocre are always at their best.
The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.
Both from Jean Giraudoux, 1882 – 1944
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
– André Gide
He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had tried and failed.
– William James,
The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storms terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
– Vincent van Gogh, 1853 – 1890
There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
– Roger Staubach
Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.
Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
Both from Jerry Garcia, 1942 – 1995
Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.
– Elbert Hubbard, 1856 – 1915
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?
Never let yesterday use up too much of today.
We don’t know what we want, but we are ready to bite somebody to get it.
Never miss a good chance to shut up.
All from Will Rogers, 1879 – 1935
I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.
When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
– both from Jonathan Swift, 1667 – 1745
There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.
– Rex Stout, 1886 – 1975
It is amazing that when someone else spouts the nonsense you yourself believe you can readily perceive it as nonsense.
Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane.
Both from Philip K. Dick, 1928 – 1982
A little caution outflanks a large cavalry.
– Otto von Bismarck, 1815 – 1898
The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.
The best way to execute french cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.
– Both from Julia Child, 1912 – 2004
It ain’t what ya don’t know that hurts ya. What really puts a hurtin’ on ya is what ya knows for sure, that just ain’t so.
– Uncle Remus
It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
I am proud to be an American. Because an American can eat anything on the face of this earth as long as he has two pieces of bread.
I guess the real reason that my wife and I had children is the same reason that Napoleon had for invading Russia: it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Is the glass half full, or half empty? It depends on whether you’re pouring, or drinking.
All from Bill Cosby
Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
– Martin Luther King, Jr, 1929 – 1968
Silence is very important. The silence between the notes are as important as the notes themselves.
We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
Both from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756 – 1791
Adults are obsolete children, and the hell with them.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
You [an aspiring writer] can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat.
I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
All from Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904 – 1991
The highest form of ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.
– Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than the increasing discovery of my own ignorance.
It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.
There is nothing so far removed from us to be beyond our reach, or so far hidden that we cannot discover it.
All from René Descartes, 1596 – 1650
Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.
– Pete Seeger
A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.
Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.
The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.
Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
– Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963
No one wants a good education. Everyone wants a good degree.
– Lee Rudolph
It’s bad luck to be superstitious.
– Andrew W. Mathis
I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.
The future is no more uncertain than the present.
– All from Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892
It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving.
– Henrietta Mears
It’s no surprise that things are so screwed up: everyone that knows how to run a government is either driving taxicabs or cutting hair.
– George Burns, 1896 – 1996
The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.
– James Oppenheim
One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
– Napoleon Bonaparte
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
– John Quincy Adams
All this will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
– John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963
I’ve finished that chapel I was painting. The Pope is quite satisfied.
– Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1474 – 1564
Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.
– Socrates, 469 – 399 BC
Californians seem to understand that government’s major function is to entertain. No matter who is elected, the politicos end up swindling us, wasting our tax money on pork-barrel projects. The only way to reclaim at least some of that lost money is to elect politicians who put on a good show.
– Orange County Register
Even if a farmer intends to loaf, he gets up in time to get an early start.
– Edgar Watson Howe, 1853 – 1937
There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order.
– Ed Howdershelt
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, What a Ride!
– Hunter S. Thompson, 1937 – 2005
There are no exceptions to the rule that everybody likes to be an exception to the rule.
– Charles Osgood
The new American finds his challenge and his love in the traffic-choked streets, skies nested in smog, choking with the acids of industry, the screech of rubber, and houses leashed in against one another while the town lets whither a time and die.
– John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley
The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
– Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1474 – 1564
There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.
– Otto von Bismarck, 1815 – 1898
Literature is news that STAYS news
– Ezra Pound
There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.
People will pay more to be entertained than educated.
– Both from Johnny Carson, 1925 – 2005
Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.
– Francis of Assisi, 1182 – 1226
Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river.
– Cordell Hull, 1871 – 1955
Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero! (Seize the day, put little trust in tomorrow!)
– Horace, 65 – 8 BC
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
– Robert Anson Heinlein, 1907 – 1988
Adding highway lanes to deal with traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.
– Lewis Mumford, 1895 – 1990
Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
– John Kenneth Galbraith, 1908 – 2006
The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche. As long as that niche is occupied, evidence and proof and logical demonstration get nowhere. But once the niche is emptied of the wrong idea that has been filling it – once you can honestly say, “I don’t know,” then it becomes possible to get at the truth.
The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship.
– Both from Robert Anson Heinlein, 1907 – 1988
If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the
easiest person to fool.
– Both from Richard Feynman, 1918 – 1988
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
Man is the only creature that strives to surpass himself, and yearns for the
– Eric Hoffer, 1902 – 1983
To do two things at once is to do neither.”
– Publilius Syrus, Latin maxim writer
To define it rudely but not ineptly, engineering is the art of doing for 10 shillings what any fool can do for a pound.
– Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, 1769 – 1852
It seems to me that trying to live without friends is like milking a bear to get cream for your morning coffee. It is a whole lot of trouble, and then not worth much after you get it.
– Zora Neale Hurston, 1901 – 1960