Quotations by Category

The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages,
may be preserved by quotations.

This page is courtesy of Craig Fifer
Last updated September 5, 1995

Animals and the Environment | Change, History, and Progress | Conviction and Sacrifice
Crime and Punishment | Death | Education and Teaching | Faith and Religion | Fame
Friends and Enemies | Food | Freedom, Liberty, and Patriotism | Government and Law
Knowledge, Thought, and Truth | Language, Literature, and Writing | Leadership and Progress
Life | Love and Beauty | Mathematics, Science, and Technology | Media | Money | People
Personal Action | Psychology | Sports | War and Peace

Animals and the Environment

Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.
-Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

We do not inherit the land, we borrow it from our children.
-Native American saying

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.
-William Hazlitt

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
-Mark Twain

Man is a complex thing: he makes deserts bloom and lakes die.
-Gil Stern

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend: and inside a dog, it's too dark to read.
-Groucho Marx

Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

Change, History, and Progress

When men and women think, the first step to progress is taken.
-Elizabeth C. Stanton

All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
-George Bernard Shaw

Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
-Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
-African Proverb

The most damaging phrase in the language is: `It's always been done that way.'
-Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.

If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting.
-Stephen Covey, First Things First

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.
-H. L. Mencken

Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift-- which is why they call it the present.
-Bill Keane

People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.
-former Vice President Dan Quayle

The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race.
-Don Marquis (1878-1937)

History is a set of lies agreed upon.
-Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

History repeats itself; that's one of the things that's wrong with history.
-Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)

America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.
-George Clemenceau (1841-1929) (also attributed to Oscar Wilde)

Progress might have been all right once but it has gone on too long.
-Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Nostalgia: When you find the present tense and past perfect.
-The Lion

Change is inevitable- except from a vending machine.
-Robert C. Gallagher

Based on what you know about him in history books, what do you think Abraham Lincoln would be doing if he were alive today?
1. Writing his memoirs of the Civil War.
2. Advising the President.
3. Desperately clawing at the inside of his coffin.
-David Letterman

If our founding fathers were alive today, they'd roll over in their graves.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

A student who changes the course of history is probably taking an exam.

Things have never been more like they are today in history.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here.
-Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

-Louis XVI (entry in his diary for July 14, 1789, the day the mob stormed the Bastille)

History is the short trudge from Adam to atom.
-Leonard Louis Levinson

I think it would be a good idea.
-Mahatma Ghandi (regarding Western Civilization)

Conviction and Sacrifice

A `No' uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a `Yes' merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Blessed is the match consumed by kindling flame.
-Hannah Sennesh

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.
-Dante Aleghieri (1265-1321)

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

My strength lies mainly in my tenacity.
-Louis Pasteur

There are several good precautions against temptation, but the surest is cowardice.
-Mark Twain

Crime and Punishment

I believe that people would be alive today if there were a death penalty.
-Nancy Reagan

I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce.
-J. Edgar Hoover

The prisoners will not be harmed, until they are found guilty.
-Q, Star Trek


For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow, but phone calls taper off.
-Johnny Carson

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.
-Woody Allen

It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens.
-Woody Allen

Education and Teaching

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
-William Arthur Ward

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.
-Thomas Carruthers

Only the educated are free.

To educate a man in mind, and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society.
-Theodore Roosevelt

A large part of [the purpose] of education may well be what men have most feared and most desired -- the achievements of moments of ecstasy.
-George Leonard

I am always willing to learn, however I do not always like to be taught.
-Winston Churchill

...our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent overeducation from happening.
-William Troy Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education 1889-1906

The true object of education should be to train one to think clearly and act rightly.

The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you just learned this morning.

The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the ocean searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain any more, so it eats it. It's rather like getting tenure.
-Michael Scriven

I've often gotten the feeling that the only people who have learned from computer assisted instruction are the authors.
-Ben Schneiderman

In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.
-F. W. Nietzsche, Human All-too-Human, I,1878

Be careful what you know... you might have to teach it one day.
-Fido Fisher

Faith and Religion

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
-Galileo Galilei

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
-Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

The church ought to be separated from the state, and the state from the church.
-Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)

Sin is geographical.
-Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
-George Washington

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
-Book of Matthew

A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.
-H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The world holds two classes of men - intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.
-Abu'l-Ala-Al-Ma'arri (973-1057)

Even God cannot change the past.
-Agathon (447-401 B.C.E.)

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the impossible.
-H.L. Mencken

Religion is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.
-William James (1842-1910)

Impiety, noun. Your irreverence toward my deity.
-Ambrose Pierce (1842-1914?)

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.
-Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

1. Only published one book.
2. It was in Hebrew.
3. It had no references.
4. He did not publish it in referenced journals.
5. Some doubt He even wrote it Himself.
6. He is not known for His cooperative work.
7. Sure, He created the world, but what has He done lately?
8. He did not get permission from any review board to work with human subjects.
9. When one experiment went awry, He tried to cover it up by drowning all the subjects.
10. When sample subjects do not behave as predicted, He deletes the whole sample.
11. He rarely comes to class-just tells His students to read the Book.
12. It is rumored that He sometimes lets His Son teach the class.
13. Although He only has 10 requirements, His students often fail His tests.
14. He expelled His first two students for learning.
15. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.
-faculty members at Kansas State University
-instructors at Allen County Community College

The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7*7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all. The light we receive from the Moon is one 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that ... The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation, i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E)^4 = 50, where E is the absolute temperature of the earth (-300K), gives H as 798K (525C). The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed ... [However] Revelations 21:8 says "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. We have, then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C.
From "Applied Optics" vol. 11, A14, 1972

If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is, "Probably because of something you did."
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

The United States Supreme Court has handed down the eleventh commandment, "Thou shalt not, in any classroom, read the first ten."

Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.
-Philip K. Dick


If I spit, they will take my spit and frame it as great art.
-Pablo Picasso

Friends and Enemies

You have been my friends, that in itself is a tremendous thing...
-E. B. White

Never shall I forget the days I spent with you. Continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours.
-Ludwig van Beethoven

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
-Mark Twain


Isn't there any other part of the matzo you can eat?
-Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) on being served matzo ball soup three meals in a row

When we lose, I eat. When we win, I eat. I also eat when we're rained out.
-Tommy Lasorda

Living is a dangerous business, and simple pleasures should not be denied. I for one plan to enjoy my fettuccine Alfredo.
-Gabe Mejias

It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or two things still safe to eat.
-Robert Fuoss

I hope they never find out that lightning has a lot of vitamins in it, because do you hide from it or not?
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

May you never meet a mouse in your cupboard with tears in his eyes!
-J. C. Furnas

Freedom, Liberty, and Patriotism

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
-Wendell Phillips (1811-1844)

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
-Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.
-William Safire

You can't hold a man down without staying down with him.
-Booker T. Washington

I disapprove with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
-Evelyn Beatrice Hall, paraphrasing Voltaire

Civil liberties are always safe as long as their exercise doesn't bother anyone.
-New York Times editorial, 1-3-41

Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.
-George Jean Nathan (1882-1958)

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
-George Orwell, Animal Farm

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.
-Rebecca West

But our culture is in truly bad shape if we have come to define respecting something as the failure to set it on fire.
-Barbara Ehrenreich (regarding flag burning)

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have ...a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the character and conduct of their rulers.
-John Adams

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-Benjamin Franklin

Our Constitution is color-blind. The arbitrary separation of citizens, on the basis of race... is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with civil freedom.
-U.S. Justice John Harlan, Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred , ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
-Thomas Jefferson, 1826

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
-John F. Kennedy

Government and Law

"What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"
"I'd cut down every law in England to do that."
"Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide...the laws all being flat?"
-Robert Bolt, "A Man for All Seasons"

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.
-Lord Acton

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.
-Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Society is well governed when the people obey the magistrates, and the magistrates obey the laws.

The proper function of a government is to make it easy for the people to do good and difficult for them to do evil.
-Gladstone (paraphrased)

Democracy is more cruel than wars or tyrants.
-Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium CIV, c. 63

Today the nations of the world may be divided into two classes - the nations in which the government fears the people, and the nations in which the people fear the government.
-Amos R. E. Pinochet

...wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, [and] shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits.
-Thomas Jefferson, 1801 Inaugural Address

Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees. And both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.
-Henry Clay

Fire, water and government know nothing of mercy.
-Albanian Proverb

An elephant: A mouse built to government specifications.

The Lord's Prayer is 66 words, the Gettysburg Address is 286 words, there are 1,322 words in the Declaration of Independence, but government regulations on the sale of cabbage total 26,911 words.
-National Review

Knowledge, Thought, and Truth

We must fall back on the old axiom that when other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
-George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

I am not young enough to know everything.
-Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
-Albert Einstein

I think, therefore I am.
-Rene Descartes

Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.
-Albert Szent-Gyorgi

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
-John VII

You see things and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were and say, 'Why not?'
-George Bernard Shaw

The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.
-Linus Pauling

Truth is not determined by majority vote.
-Doug Gwyn

The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.
-H. L. Mencken

What luck for rulers, that men do not think.
-Adolph Hitler

Well what is the answer? But, what, then, is the question?
-Gertrude Stein (last words)

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
-Bertrand Russell

No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical.
-Niels Bohr

The mind is never blank, if it were, how would you know?
-Ed Foreman, Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications Conference July 94, Ft. Worth, TX

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
-Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

When I was a boy of fourteen my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
-Mark Twain

Truth is the most valuable thing we have -- so let us economize it.
-Mark Twain

It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and say the opposite.
-Sam Levenson

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.
-Sigmund Freud

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
-John F. Kennedy

What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is.
-Dan Quayle

The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

I know a lot of people without brains who do an awful lot of talking.
-The Scarecrow, Wizard of Oz

If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.
-Mark Twain

It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.
-Mark Twain

Language, Literature, and Writing

The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
-G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp-post how it feels about dogs.
-Christopher Hampton

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
-William Safire's Great Rules of Writing

If you can't answer a man's argument, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.
-Elbert Hubbard

Wafting zephyrs had quit vexing Jack.
-C. C. Bombaugh (Shortest English sentence containing all 26 letters, paraphrased)

Leadership and Politics

The most important political office is that of private citizen.
-Louis Brandeis

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
-Ralph Nader

I must acknowledge, once and for all, that the purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis.
-Mr. Spock, Star Trek

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
-Abraham Lincoln

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
-Mark Twain

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
-Benjamin Disraeli

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule-- and both commonly succeed, and are right.
-H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, 1956

When I face an issue of great import that cleaves both constituents and colleagues, I always take the same approach. I engage in deep deliberation and quiet contemplation. I wait to the last available minute and then I always vote with the losers. Because, my friend, the winners never remember and the losers never forget.
-Thomas H. Kean

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.

Who's in or out, who moves the grand machine,
Nor stirs my curiosity, or spleen;
Secrets of state no more I wish to know
Than secret movements of a puppet-show;
Let but the puppets move, I've my desire,
Unseen the hand which guides the master wire.
-Sir Winston Churchill

The people of Nebraska are for free silver. Therefore, I am for free silver. I'll look up the reasons later.
-U.S. Representative William Jennings Bryan

If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.

Vote early and vote often.
-Al Capone (1899-1947)

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
-Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.
-John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.
-John Quinton

It's important to remember that just because there are crooks, zealots and morons supporting a position, it does not automatically follow that the position is wrong.
-Jan D. Wolter

The mockingbird can change its tune eighty-seven times in seven minutes. Politicians regard this interesting fact with envy.

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.
-Lily Tomlin

I predict, sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease.
That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.

One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.
-Dan Quayle

Politics would be a helluva good business if it weren't for the goddamned people.
-Richard M. Nixon

It might be more worthwhile if we stopped wringing our hands and started ringing our congressmen.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character give him power.

How can one conceive of a one-party system in a country that has over two hundred varieties of cheese?
-Charles deGalle


I wanted a perfect ending ... Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.
-Gilda Radner

The unexamined life is not worth living.
-Socrates (470-399 B.C.E.)

There is no free lunch.
-Milton Friedman

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.
-Danny Kaye

For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong.
-H.L. Mencken

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. Clean up your own mess.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup--they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned--the biggest word of all--LOOK.
-Robert Fulghum

There are some things that are so serious that you have to laugh at them.
-Niels Bohr

The map is not the territory.
-Alfred Korzbyski

A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.
-Samuel Butler

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.
-Vernon Howard

One of the oldest human needs is having someone wonder where you are when you don't come home at night.
-Margaret Meade

"The point I have been patiently trying to make," Godwin said impatiently, "is that you expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination. Hold the philosophy, hold the adjectives, just give us a plain subject and perhaps a wholesome, nonfattening adverb or two."
-Godwin to Danny Deck, Some Can Whistle

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
-Mark Twain

My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant's bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them with a penetrating stare.
Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
"To eat these things," said my uncle,
"You must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what's solid,
BUT...you must spit out the air!"
And as you partake of the world's bill of fare,
that's darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.
-Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), From a commencement address

It is better to place a fence at the edge of a cliff than to have an ambulance waiting at the bottom.


'Twas a dangerous cliff, and it fair scared folks stiff,
But the view from the top was so pleasant,
That they swallowed their fear, and there crashed down each year
Full many a squire and peasant.
"Something's got to be done.", said the people as one,
But answers did not at all tally.
Some said, "Put a fence 'round the edge of the cliff."
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley!"

Debate raged and stormed, and a Study was formed,
And they might have been arguing yet,
But a solution was found: "Let's pass the hat 'round,
And see how much money we get."
A collection was made to accumulate aid,
And dwellers in byway and alley
Gave pounds, shillings and pence - not to furnish a fence
But an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right if you're careful," they said;
"And if folks ever slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below - when they're stopping."
So for years (you'll have heard) as these mishaps occurred
Quick forth would the rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell from the cliff,
With the ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked: "It's a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause,
When they'd much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief," cried he,
"Come, neighbors and friends let us rally,
If the cliff we will fence we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley."
"He is wrong in his head," the majority said;
"He would end all our earnest endeavor.
"He's a man who would shirk this responsible work
But we will support it forever.
Aren't we picking up all, just as fast as they fall,
In giving them care we don't dally?
It's plain that a fence is of no consequence,
If the ambulance works in the valley."
-Joseph Malins

One ship drives east and the other drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails and not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Winds of Fate

35. Plant a tree on your birthday.
47. Don't waste time learning the "tricks of the trade." Instead, learn the trade.
53. Vote.
68. Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
100. Read the Bill of Rights.
198. Feed a stranger's expired parking meter.
209. Observe the speed limit.
267. Lie on your back and look at the stars.
271. When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail. If you're going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce.
322. Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
393. Learn how to operate a Macintosh computer.
513. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. 558. Never betray a confidence. 595. Be the first to fight for a just cause. 817. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality. 939. Never be ashamed of your patriotism. -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
-Theodore Roosevelt

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
-Mark Twain

The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows.
-Aristotle Onassis

We protest against unjust criticism but we accept unearned applause.
-Jose Narosky

Even moderation ought not to be practiced to excess.

To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid; you must also be well-mannered.
-Voltaire (1694-1778)

Life is anything that dies when you stomp on it.
-Dave Barry

1. Indecision is the key to flexibility.
2. You can't tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
3. There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.
4. Happiness is merely the remission of pain.
5. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
6. Sometimes too much to drink is not enough.
7. The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.
8. The careful application of terror is also a form of communication.
9. Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world.
10. Things are more like they are today than they ever were before.
11. Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.
12. Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
13. Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.
14. I have seen the truth and it makes no sense.
15. Suicide is the most sincere form of self-criticism.
16. If you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody.
17. All things being equal, fat people use more soap.
18. If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
19. One seventh of your life is spent on Monday.
20. By the time you make ends meet, they move the ends.
21. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
22. The more you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets.
23. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
24. This is as bad as it can get, but don't count on it.
25. Never wrestle a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.
26. The trouble with life is, you're halfway through it before you realize it's a do-it-yourself thing.
27. Youth and skill are no match for experience and treachery.
28. No amount of advance planning will ever replace dumb luck.
29. Anything you do can get you fired; this includes doing nothing.
30. Money can't buy happiness; it can, however, rent it.
31. Never pass a snow plow on the right.
-Gregory Singleton

"I quite agree with you," said the Duchess; "and the moral of that is -- `Be what you would seem to be' -- or, if you'd like it put more simply -- `Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'"
-Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

The clinching proof of my reasoning is that I will cut anyone who argues further into dogmeat.
-Sir Geoffery de Tourneville (ca. 1350)

Perfection is our goal. Excellence will be tolerated.
-TQM Motto from the International Association of Business Communication

The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.
-Casey Stengel

Confidence is the feeling you sometimes have before you fully understand the situation.

It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
-Mark Twain

There comes a time in every man's life, and I've had many of them.
-Casey Stengel

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
-Roy Baty, "Blade Runner"

It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.
-John Andrew Holmes

If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.
-Clint Eastwood

If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure.
-Dan Quayle

I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not our children's children, because I don't think children should be having sex.
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

Don't approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side.
-Yiddish proverb

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it.
-Franklin P. Jones

This taught me a lesson, but I'm not quite sure what it is.
-John MacEnroe

Don't swap horses in the middle of the stream.
-1864 Abraham Lincoln Re-Election Slogan

Age is something that doesn't matter unless you are a cheese.
-Billie Burke

Love and Beauty

It is the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
It is the dream afraid of waking
that never takes a chance.
It is the one who won't be taken
who cannot seem to give.
And the soul afraid of dying
that never learns to live.
-Bette Midler, The Rose

Was she so loved because her eyes were so beautiful or were her eyes so beautiful because she was loved?
-Anzia Yezierska

Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

That best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.
-William Wordsworth

A child's spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back.
-Arthur Miller, The Crucible

I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?
-Jean Kerr

While money doesn't buy love, it puts you in a great bargaining position.

"You, sir, are drunk."
"Yes. But you, madam, are ugly, and I shall be sober in the morning."
-Winston Churchill

It was not until I attended a few postmortems that I realized that even the ugliest exteriors may contain the most beautiful viscera, and was able to console myself for the facial drabness of my neighbors in omnibuses by dissecting them in my imagination.
-J. B. S. Haldane

Mathematics, Science, and Technology

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.
-Winston Churchill

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
-John Dewey

To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
-Carl Sagan

Not even computers will replace committees, because committees buy computers.
-Marshall McCluhan

Several errant electrons jumped when they shouldn't have at a place they shouldn't have, resulting in what shouldn't have. In short, a short.
-Bloom County

It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.
-Alan Shepherd

Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
-Carl Zwanzig

Philosophical habits of mind do not come quicker through fiber optics. Clear thinking is not aided by better dot resolution. Understanding ourselves and feeling for others does not come with a software upgrade.
-Linda Ray Pratt, Academe, Nov,Dec 1994

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.
-Donald Knuth

Memory is like an orgasm. It's a lot better if you don't have to fake it.
-Seymore Cray, on virtual memory

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
-Mitch Ratliffe, _Technology Review_ April, 1992

Beware of programmers who carry screwdrivers.
-Leonard Brandwein

At Group L, Stoffel oversees six first-rate programmers, a managerial challenge roughly comparable to herding cats.
-The Washington Post Magazine, June 9, 1985

Television: chewing gum for the eyes.
-Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959)

We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.
-Wernher von Braun, commenting on bureaucracy

The cable TV sex channels don't expand our horizons, don't make us better people, and don't come in clearly enough.
-Bill Maher

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press 3.
-Alice Kahn

A day without fusion is like a day without sunshine.
-T-Shirt Saying from the Henry Cate, III Life Collection

There are three kinds of researchers: Those who can do math and those who cannot.
-Tom Rusk Vickery

Linux IS user friendly. It's just not very promiscuous about whom it's user friendly WITH.
-Button at Science Fiction Convention

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.
-Andrew Tannenbaum

Out the 10Base-T, through the router, down the T1, over the leased line, off the bridge, past the firewall...nothing but Net.

There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?
-Dick Cavett

On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
-Charles Babbage

Commander, have you been able to determine the cause of the warp breach?
-Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek
No, sir. Everything was normal, and then, suddenly, it's like the laws of physics went right out the window.
-Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge, Star Trek
And why shouldn't they? They're so inconvenient.
-Q, Star Trek

I could never make out what those damned dots meant.
-Lord Randolph Churchill, former Chancellor of the Exchequer (regarding decimal points)


Treat the media as you would any other watchdog. Stay calm, be friendly, let them sniff your hand and never turn your back.
-Amy Sprinkles, Public Information Officer, City of Grand Prairie (TX)


How come there's only one Monopolies Commission?
-Nigel Rees

It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.
-Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

I used to think I was poor. Then they told me I wasn't poor, I was needy. Then they told me it was self-defeating to think of myself as needy. I was deprived. (Oh not deprived but rather underprivileged.) Then they told me that underprivileged was overused. I was disadvantaged. I still don't have a dime. But I have a great vocabulary.
-Jules Feiffer (1965)


If a million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
-Anatole France

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
-Henry David Thoreau

Men have become the tools of their tools.
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

You think the only people who are people,
Are the ones who look and think the way you do,
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You'll learn the things you never knew you never knew...
You can own the Earth and still,
All you'll own is earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind.
-Stephen Schwartz, Colors of the Wind

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism.
-Theodore Roosevelt

I am not an Athenian or a Greek, I am a citizen of the world.

It is well, when judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality.
-Arnold Bennett

Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.
-Barry Switzer

There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.
-Indira Gandhi

You can't make one thin dime giving people what they need. You've got to give 'em what they want.
-Angel Martin

P.S. It is my observation that too many of us are spending money we haven't earned to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't like.
-H. Jackson Brown's mom (from P. S. I Love You)

I do not care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
-Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves.
-August Strindberg

Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
-Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

People who are funny and smart and return phone calls get much better press than people who are just funny and smart.
-Howard Simons, The Washington Post

Some folks never exaggerate- they just remember big.
-Audrey Snead

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.
-Douglas Adams

The things we fear most in organization - fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances - are the primary sources of creativity.
-Margaret J. Wheatley

I've always wanted to be somebody, but I see now I should have been more specific.
-Lily Tomlin

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself. Mankind. Basically, it's made up of two separate words-- "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for who we really are.
-Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek

I'm not good in groups. It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent.
-Q, Star Trek

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there's too much fraternizing with the enemy.
-Henry Kissinger

Personal Action

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

Don't try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough.
-Arthur Freed

If you have to swallow a frog, try not to think about it. If you have to swallow two frogs, don't swallow the smaller one first.

Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left.
-Hubert Humphrey

First they went after the Communists,
and I did not stand up, because I was not a Communist.
Then they went after the homosexuals and infirm,
and I did not stand up, because I was neither.
Then they went after the Jews,
and I did not stand up, because I was not a Jew.
Then they went after the Catholics,
and I did not stand up, because I was Protestant.
Finally, they went after me,
and there was no one left to stand up for me.
-Pastor Martin Neimoller

Give me a lever long enough, and a prop strong enough. I can single-handed move the world. / Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.
-Archimedes (287-212 B.C.E.)

To err is human, to forgive divine.
-Alexander Pope

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
-Chinese Proverb

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ... I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

If there is no wind, row.
-Latin Proverb

Avoid suspicion: when you're walking through your neighbor's melon patch, don't tie your shoe.
-Chinese Proverb

When a dog runs at you, whistle for him.
-Henry David Thoreau

This is my chosen fast: to loosen all the bonds that bind men unfairly, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, take the homeless into your home. Clothe the naked when you see him, do not turn away from people in need. . . . If you remove from your midst the yoke of oppression, the finger of scorn and the tongue of malice, if you put yourself out for the hungry and relieve the wretched, then shall your light shine in darkness, and your gloom shall be as noonday. . . . And you shall be like a watered garden, like a never-failing spring. And you shall rebuild ancient ruins, restoring old foundations. You shall be known as the rebuilder of broken walls, the restorer of dwelling places.
-Book of Isaiah

Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
-Henry Van Dyke

Know yourself. Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
-Ann Landers

To err is human; to forgive is simply not our policy.
-MIT Assassination Club slogan

The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent.
-Charles Eliot Norton, True Patriotism, 1898

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
-Booker T. Washington


A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.


If you want to take long walks, take long walks. If you want to hit things with a stick, hit things with a stick. But there's no excuse for combining the two and putting the results on TV. Golf is not so much a sport as an insult to lawns.
-National Lampoon

If I had my way, any man guilty of golf would be ineligible for any office of trust in the United States.
-H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Golf is a good walk spoiled.
-Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Decisions of the judges will be final unless shouted down by a really overwhelming majority of the crowd present. Abusive and obscene language may not be used by contestants when addressing members of the judging panel, or, conversely, by members of the judging panel when addressing contestants (unless struck by a boomerang).
-Mudgeeraba Creek Emu-Riding and Boomerang-Throwing Assoc.

War and Peace

Now the trumpet summons us again, not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need, not as a call to battle, though embattled we are, but as a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle - a struggle against the common enemies of man - tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
-John F. Kennedy

What a beautiful fix we are in now; peace has been declared.
-Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) after the Treaty of Amiens, 1802

1. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
2. Incoming fire has the right of way.
3. Don't look conspicuous, it draws fire.
8. The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions: a) when you're ready for them and b) when you're not ready for them.
9. Teamwork is essential, it gives them someone else to shoot at.
12. A "sucking chest wound" is nature's way of telling you to slow down.
14. Never draw fire, it irritates everyone around you.
19. When you have secured an area, don't forget to tell the enemy.
20. Never forget that your weapon is made by the lowest bidder.
21. Friendly fire isn't.
27. Remember, a retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.
71. When both sides are convinced they are about to lose, they're both right.

I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
-Woody Allen

There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.
-Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

How come the dove gets to be the peace symbol? How about the pillow? It has more feathers than the dove, and it doesn't have that dangerous beak.
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.
-Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

When you have shot and killed a man, you have in some measure clarified your attitude toward him. You have given a definite answer to a definite problem. For better or for worse, you have acted decisively. In a way the next move is up to him!
-Robert Heinlein

No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping.
-Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, December 5, 1941

Authors Note: I don't know exactly why I created this page. I think it was because I was inclined to put all of these quotes in my signature but decided the flames would be too hot. So I've stashed them here for your perusal. I have not verified the listed credits for each quote; if you find an incorrect credit or other error, please let me know. Quotes without credits are, as far as I know, anonymous.

- Craig Fifer

The layout, format, and original work on this page is © Copyright 1995 by Craig Fifer. All quotes are copyrighted by their respective owners.