Here are some of my favorite quotations. This list includes the ones which randomly pop up on my index page. You may note that a good many of my opinions may be gleaned from this selection.
I wonder why. I wonder why. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder why I wonder! -- Richard Feynman Concern for the man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors ... in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations. -- Albert Einstein The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living. -- Henri Poincaré If the population of the earth were to increase at the present rate indefinitely, by A.D. 3530 the total mass of human flesh and blood would equal the mass of the earth; and by A.D. 6826, the total mass of human flesh and blood would equal the mass of the known universe. --Robert Fulghum, _All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten_ 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 Heinlein In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know, that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. --Carl Sagan It's no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. --Krishnamurti, (1895-1986) Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. --Karl Marx Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. --Blaise Pascal (Pensees, 1670) Those who wish to seek out the cause of miracles, and to understand the things of nature as philosophers, and not to stare at them in astonishment like fools, are soon considered heretical and impious, and proclaimed as such by those whom the mob adores as the interpreters of nature and the gods. For these men know that once ignorance is put aside that wonderment would be taken away which is the only means by which their authority is preserved. --Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677) It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong. --Thomas Jefferson, (letter to Rev. James Madison, July 19, 1788) I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it. --Thomas Jefferson (letter to Archibald Stuart, Dec. 23, 1791, on the encroachments of state governments) You will do me the justice to remember that I have always supported the right of every man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right makes a slave of himself to present opinion because he precludes himself the right of changing it. The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall. --Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason) What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not. --James Madison (from Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, 1785) The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. --John Stuart Mill (On Liberty, 1859) When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion. --Abraham Lincoln I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous - if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men. --Robert Ingersoll (The Ghosts) For ages, a deadly conflict has been waged between a few brave men and women of thought and genius upon the one side, and the great ignorant religious mass on the other. This is the war between Science and Faith. The few have appealed to reason, to honor, to law, to freedom, to the known, and to happiness here in this world. The many have appealed to prejudice, to fear, to miracle, to slavery, to the unknown, and to misery hereafter. The few have said "Think" The many have said "Believe!" --Robert Ingersoll (Gods) Superstitions typically involve seeing order where in fact there is none, and denial amounts to rejecting evidence of regularities, sometimes even ones that are staring us in the face. --Murray Gell-Mann (Quark and the Jaguar) Virtually every major technological advance in the history of the human species-- back to the invention of stone tools and the domestication of fire-- has been ethically ambiguous. --Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World) The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them. --Mark Twain Plurality is never to be posited without need. --Occam Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. --Albert Camus (1913-1960) I'll tell you something honestly about drugs. Honestly - and I know it's not a very popular idea. You don't hear it very often any more. But it is the truth: I had a great time doing drugs. Never murdered anyone, never robbed anyone, never raped anyone, never beat anyone, never lost a job, a car, a house, a wife, or kids. Laughed my ass off, and went about my day. --Bill Hicks, "Relentless" In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point. --Friedrich Nietzsche Now let us retract the foreskin of misconception and apply the wire brush of enlightenment. --Geoff Miller, in comp.lang.perl.moderated I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. --Jack London 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. --Albert Einstein The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder. --Albert Einstein Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity. --Albert Einstein It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. --Albert Einstein, _The Human Side_, 1954 The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. --Albert Einstein Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. --Albert Einstein I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. --Albert Einstein, _The Human Side_, 1954 He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. --Albert Einstein If A equals success, then the formula is: A=X+Y+Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut. --Albert Einstein The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action. --Albert Einstein For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. --Henry Louis Mencken An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them. --Werner Heisenberg Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood. --Henry Louis Mencken The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. --Bertrand Russell Ignorance feeds on ignorance. Science phobia is contagious. --Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World Do we, holding that the gods exist, deceive ourselves with insubstantial dreams and lies, while random careless chance and change alone control the world? --Euripides, Hecuba One of the main causes of trouble in the world is dogmatic and fanatical belief in some doctrine for which there is no adequate evidence. --Bertrand Russell The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. --Thomas Jefferson Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do. --Bertrand Russell The state is made for man, not man for the state.... That is to say, the state should be our servant and not we its slaves. --Albert Einstein Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines. --Bertrand Russell Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not more so. --Albert Einstein All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. --Thomas Paine No miracle has ever taken place under conditions science can accept. Experience shows, without exception, that miracles occur only in times and in countries in which miracles are believed in, and in the presence of persons who are disposed to believe them. --Ernest Renan Knowledge is power. --Thomas Hobbes I do not know everything; still many things I understand. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Opportunities multiply as they are seized. --Sun Tzu Information is the currency of democracy. --Thomas Jefferson I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. --Albert Einstein The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. --Thomas Jefferson He who would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. --Thomas Paine Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. --Abraham Lincoln Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own governours, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. --James Madison, quoted on the Library of Congress I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. --Charles Babbage In view of the stupidity of the majority of the people, a widely held opinion is more likely to be foolish than sensible. --Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. --H. G. Wells Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. --Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Speech (1801) We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. --Thomas Jefferson Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. --Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish. --Timothy Jones Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. --Edward Everett Sacred cows make the best hamburgers. --Mark Twain By nature's law, every man has a right to seize and retake by force his own property taken from him by another, by force of fraud. Nor is this natural right among the first which is taken into the hands of regular government after it is instituted. It was long retained by our ancestors. It was a part of their common law, laid down in their books, recognized by all the authorities, and regulated as to circumstances of practice. --Thomas Jefferson Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions; it only guarantees equality of opportunity. --Irving Kristol Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone. --John Maynard Keynes Finally I am becoming stupider no more. --Paul Erdös' epitaph, written by himself One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community. --Albert Einstein Fiction is a noble pursuit. Ideally, it profoundly changes the ways in which people perceive their experience. --Norman Mailer Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision. --V. S. Naipaul Only the refusal to listen guarantees one against being ensnared by the truth. --Nozick The maxim that people should not have a right till they are ready to exercise it properly, is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim. --Macaulay Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what you want them to achieve, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. --George Patton It is the first step of wisdom to recognize that the major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the society in which they occur. --Alfred North Whitehead The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. --Alfred North Whitehead Our institutions and values are in jeopardy as the mores of the market pervade all social life in this country. Loyalty, honesty, courage, discipline, patriotism, and commitment to family are being crowded out by the goals and rules of economic rationality -- do whatever makes the most money. --Barry Schwartz Man is fed with fables through life, and leaves it in the belief he knows something of what has been passing, when in truth he has known nothing but what has passed under his own eye. --Thomas Jefferson There is no legitimate religion apart from truth. --John Calvin If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. --Kurt Vonnegut, _Player Piano_ Computers don't poop, fart, fuck, or laugh, and cannot detect irony. These, then, are the distinguishing characteristics of humanity. --Eric Idle, _The Road to Mars_ When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. --Kurt Vonnegut Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. --John Stuart Mill What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. --Bertrand Russell, _Skeptical Essays_ The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. --George Bernard Shaw Why, of course people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. --Hermann Goering (1893 - 1946), at the Nuremburg Trials Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him. --J. R. R. Tolkien (as Haldir the elf), _The Fellowship of the Ring_ The state can't give you free speech, and the state can't take it away. You're born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free... --Utah Phillips What lawyers call "intellectual property" is -- as every Latin student knows -- no more than theft from the public domain. --Andy Mueller-Maguhn The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. --Richard Dawkins You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life. --Jiddu Krishnamurti Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. --Ray Bradbury They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen. --Samuel Adams Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never--in nothing great or small, large or petty--never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. --Winston Churchill, 29 October 1941, at the Harrow School We recognize, however dimly, that greater efficiency, ease, and security may come at a substantial price in freedom, that law and order can be a doublethink version of oppression, that individual liberties surrendered for whatever good reason are freedom lost. --Walter Cronkite, in the preface to the 1984 edition of 1984 Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the limits of the law," because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. --Thomas Jefferson, 1819, in a letter to Isaac H. Tiffany Not being able to govern events, I govern myself. --Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine, inquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the grounds of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you. --Frances Wright (1795-1852), in "Divisions of Knowledge," 1828 Ever bike? Now that's something that makes life worth living! I take exercise every afternoon that way. Oh, to just grip your handlebars and lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through streets and road, over railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds, avoiding collisions, at twenty miles or more an hour, and wondering all the time when you're going to smash up. Well now, that's something! And then go home again after three hours of it, into the tub, rub down well, then into a soft shirt and down to the dinner table, with the evening paper and a glass of wine in prospect - and then to think that tomorrow I can do it all over again! --Jack London When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking. --Arthur Conan Doyle, in Scientific American, January 18, 1896 I can't understand why people are frightened by new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones. --John Cage (1912-1992) To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. --Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th U.S. President, 1918 The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachments by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. --U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928 Thought control is a copyright of totalitarianism, and we have no claim to it. It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error, it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error. --Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1950 Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority... Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Strength to Love, 1963) Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) --Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself", 1855 The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty. --James Madison, June 30 1825, in a letter to George Thomson We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be. --Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1970 Commerce has set the mark of selfishness, The signet of its all-enslaving power, Upon a shining ore, and called it gold; Before whose image bow the vulgar great, The vainly rich, the miserable proud, The mob of peasants, nobles, priests and kings, And with blind feelings reverence the power That grinds them to the dust of misery. --Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab V. People say they don't care about politics; they're not involved or don't want to get involved, but they are. Their involvement just masquerades as indifference or inattention. It is the silent acquiescence of the millions that supports the system. When you don't oppose a system, your silence becomes approval, for it does nothing to interrupt the system. People use all sorts of excuses for the indifference... Many people say it's insane to resist the system, but actually, it is insane not to. --Mumia Abu-Jamal Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. I like to believe that People in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our government. Indeed I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had best get out of the way and let them have it. --Dwight D. Eisenhower The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. --Albert Einstein What a man is contributes much more to his happiness than what he has, or how he is regarded by others. --Arthur Schopenhauer There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped or turned back, for their private benefit. --Robert A. Heinlein On two subjects the overwhelming majority of people regarded their own opinions as Absolute Truth, and sincerely believed that anyone who disagreed with them was immoral, outrageous, sinful, sacrilegious, offensive, intolerable, stupid, illogical, treasonable, actionable, against the public interest, ridiculous, and obscene. The two subjects were (of course) sex and religion. --Robert A. Heinlein As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. --H.L. Mencken, in the Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1920 Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on "I am not too sure." --H.L. Mencken, Minority Report (1956) Our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability. --Alexander Shulgin Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live. --Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle" (in conclusion) Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. --Charles Darwin If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body. --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, 1813 If there is a sin against life, it consists in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. --Albert Camus (1913-1960) Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. [...] This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. --Frederick Douglass, 1857 In the face of eternity, art that lasts only a minute is just as valid as art that lasts a millenium. --Lucio Fontana, Italian artist (1899-1968) Toleration of people who differ in convictions and habits requires a residual awareness of the complexity of truth and the possibility of an opposing view having some light on one or the other facet of a many-sided truth. --Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace. --Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677) And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good--need we ask anyone to tell us these things? --Plato For as long as space endures, And for as long as living beings remain, Until then may I, too, abide To dispel the misery of the world. --Shantideva; oft quoted by the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso The government [is] extremely fond of amassing great quantities of statistics. These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases. --Sir Josiah Stamp (1880-1941) May you live in interesting times May you come to the attention of those in authority May you find what you are looking for --purported ancient Chinese proverb/curse In doing good, avoid notoriety; in doing evil, avoid self awareness. --Frank Herbert, Children of Dune, 1976 All fools are not proud, and all proud men are fools. Many fools are happy, all proud men are unhappy. --Giacomo Giralomo Casanova, "Pride and Folly" Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river that carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that tears me apart, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. --Jorge Luis Borges It is not a sign of intolerance for us to notice that some cultures and sub-cultures do a terrible job of producing human lives worth living. --Sam Harris Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. --Albert Einstein Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium (I prefer freedom with danger to peace with slavery) --The Palatine of Posen, father of the King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be. --Patańjali We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams;-- World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems. --Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode, 1874 The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality. --John Quincy Adams "Tout ce qui est impossible reste a accomplir." ("All that is impossible remains to be accomplished.") --Jules Verne Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. --Robert F. Kennedy, June 21, 1961 Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities. (Certainement qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde est en droit de vous rendre injuste.) --Voltaire, Questions sur les miracles (1765) One may well ask: How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. --Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Apr 16, 1963 When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice-- you may know that your society is doomed. --Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957 If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. --Henry David Thoreau The only way to deal with an unfree world, is to become absolutely free, that your very existence is an act of rebellion. --Albert Camus There is no Left or Right--there is only freedom or tyranny. Everything else is an illusion, an obfuscation to keep you confused and silent as the world burns around you. --Philip Brennan We are fast approaching the stage of ultimate inversion: the stage where government is free to do as it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission. --Ayn Rand In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others. --André Maurois Any one can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. --Robert Benchley, Feb 2 1930 Along with success comes a reputation for wisdom. --Euripides, _Hippolytus_, 428 BC Always eat grapes downwards--that is, always eat the best grape first; in this way there will be none better left on the bunch, and each grape will seem good down to the last. If you eat the other way, you will not have a good grape in the lot. Besides, you will be tempting Providence to kill you before you come to the best. --Samuel Butler (1835-1902), from "The Note-Books of" We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. --Louis Brandeis To change your mind and to follow him who sets you right is to be nonetheless the free agent that you were before. --Marcus Aurelius When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir? --John Maynard Keynes Why should you mind being wrong if someone can show you that you are? --A.J. Ayer (attributed) Lamb says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but "A's part in C," while C loses not only A but "A's part in B." In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. --C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 1960 The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. --Albert Einstein, Living Philosophies, 1931 When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. --P.J. O'Rourke Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) There are two possible outcomes. If the results confirm the theory, then you've made a measurement. If the results contradict the theory, then you've made a discovery. --Enrico Fermi All in turn feel the lash of censure in a country where, as every baby is allowed to carry a whip, no person can escape. --Hester Lynch Piozzi, 1784 Don't ever become a pessimist, Ira; a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun -- and neither can stop the march of events. --Robert Heinlein (as Lazurus Long), Time Enough For Love Most of our pleasures come from filling or emptying cavities, and vice versa. --Dr. Vincent J. Derbes, More of Mould's Medical Anecdotes, 1989. There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge." --Isaac Asimov, Newsweek, 21 Jan 1980, p. 19 I don't believe in playing down to children, either in life or in motion pictures. I didn't treat my own youngsters like fragile flowers, and I think no parent should. Children are people, and they should have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just as adults have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature. Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil, and that is what our pictures attempt to do. --Walt Disney, _Deeds Rather Than Words_ (essay), 1963 This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose--it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt. --President George W. Bush, addressing personnel at the Johnson Space Center, 4 Feb 2003, after the loss of Columbia. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six. --Leo Tolstoy, on his deathbed, refusing to reconcile with the Russian Orthodox Church I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return. --Frank Church, U.S. Senator, 1975 My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. --U.S. Senator Carl Schurz, before Congress, 29 Feb 1872 (The Congressional Globe, vol. 45, p. 1287) El hombre es un animal esencial, fundamental, constitucional y radicalmente haragán. (Man is an essentially, fundamentally, consitutionally, and radically lazy animal.) --Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you. --Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, 29 Feb 2012, on Reddit If you can't be good, be colorful. --Pete Conrad, astronaut (1930-1999); his personal motto. To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. --Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, The General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, 1851 A class system is what you use to discriminate against people who look like you. --Reginald D. Hunter, comedian, ~2009 Vigilance abroad does not require us to abandon our ideals or the rule of law at home. On the contrary, without our principles and without our ideals, we have little that is special or worthy to defend. --Daniel Inouye (1924-2012), U.S. Senator from Hawaii, 1987, in the closing statement of the hearings of the congressional committees investigating the Iran-Contra Affair. I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education. --Wilson Mizner