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Quotes Q-Z



If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers – Thomas Pynchon


Next to the orginator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. – W. Somerset Maugham



We read to discover that we are not alone. —- Shadowlands, a film about C.S. Lewis

“I’d be doing good in English if we didn’t have to read.” — Student quoted by a teacher in the LA Times.

I read part of it all the way through – Samuel Goldwyn


Wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born. — Matthew Arnold

Every view of things that is not strange is false – Valery


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man — GB Shaw

Human beings are the only creatures who are able to behave irrationally in the name of reason – Ashley Montagu


Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul – Tom Paine

Here in America we are descended in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine – GOP President Dwight Eisenhower, 1954

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. – Jack Kerouac, letter to Ed White, 1950


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

A determined population can not only force a domestic ruler to flee the country, but can make a would-be occupier retreat, by the use of a formidable arsenal of tactics: boycotts and demonstrations, occupations and sit-ins, sit-down strikes and general strikes, obstruction and sabotage, refusal to pay taxes, rent strikes, refusal to cooperate, refusal to obey curfew orders or gag orders, refusal to pay fines, fasts and pray-ins, draft resistance, and civil disobedience of various kinds. ~~~ Thousands of such instances have changed the world, but they are nearly absent from the history books. History texts featuring military heroes lead entire generations of the young to think that wars are the only way to solve problems of self-defense, justice, and freedom. They are kept uninformed about the world’s long history of nonviolent struggle and resistance. — Howard Zinn in “Declarations of Independence,” 1990

We did not rise up and become rebels because we believed ourselves stronger and more powerful. We rose up to demand democracy, freedom and justice because we have the reason and the dignity of history on our side –Fifth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, Zapatista National Liberation Front


This tongueless, toothless instrument, without larynx or pharynx, mimics your tones, speaks with your voice, utters your words & centuries after you have crumbled into dust, may repeat every idle thought, every fond fancy, every vain word that you choose to whisper against the thin, iron diaphragm – Thomas Edison


Reform committees… were morning glories. Looked lovely in the morning and withered up in a short time, while the regular machines went on flourishing forever, like fine old oaks — Tammany Hall fixer George Washington Plunkitt

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences. – Susan B. Anthony


Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

Existentialism isn’t so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God does not exist. Rather it declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing. . . Not that we believe that God exists, but we think that the problem of his existence is not the issue. – Jean Paul Sartre

I’m not a believer, but I’m friendly to religion, partly because it goes with being human-it’s an odd kind of humanism which is hostile to something which is so quintessentially human as religion….I’m very opposed to investing science with the needs and requirements of religion. I’m equally opposed to the tendency within religion, which exists in things like creationism and intelligent design, to turn religion into a kind of pseudo-science. If you go back to St. Augustine or before, to the Jewish scholars who talk about these issues, they never regard the Genesis story as a theory. Augustine says explicitly that it should not be interpreted explicitly, that it’s a way of accessing truths which can’t really be formulated by the human mind in any rational way. It’s a way of accessing mysterious features which will remain mysterious. So it was always seen right up to the rise of modern science-as a myth, not a theory. What these creationists are doing is retreating, they’re accepting the view of religion promoted by scientific enemies of religion, and saying, no, we have got science and it’s better than your science. Complete error. – John Gray in an interview with Malcolm Jones

War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption and the Ice Capades. If this is the best God can do, I’m not impressed. Results like this do not belong in the resume of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude – George Carlin

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. – George Bernard Shaw

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. Steven Weinberg

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish. Unknown

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.- Eric Hoffer

If God were alive today, He’d be an atheist – Kurt Vonnegut

A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows. – Mark Twain

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. – Article 11 of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the US and Tripoli, 1796

Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived – Oscar Wilde

History teaches us that men composing all denominations of religious faith, when clothed with ecclesiastical and temporal power, have been tyrants. – Sam Houston

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. – Aristotle

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart – HL Mencken

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. — Matthew 23:13-15

Some people are happy inside the church, some are happier outside. Those who prefer to stay outside should write Nature with a capital N. They should bless and venerate the Nature that composed mankind. That would leave a thin wall between them and those who are inside and write God with a capital G. If you knock, it can be heard on both sides. The disagreement is about the spelling of a word – Thor Heyerdahl

The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing and admits of no conclusion. – Thgmas Paine

It is the test of a good religion whether you can make a joke about it – G.K. Chesterton

Perceive the difference between religion and the cant of religion; piety and the pretence of piety; a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and meanest affairs of life. . . It is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip and idle in the heart, or the confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who. . . have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another. – Charles Dickeens, Preface to The First Cheap Edition, The Pickwick Papers, 1847

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart – HL Mencken


Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result — Albert Einstein

If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got — Toni Worst


Only one part of the people are permitted to be represented. True, they may all vote for the choice of representatives, but those persons only receiving the highest number of votes may serve in a representative capacity. . . . In what way does the agent of a majority represent the political principles or financial wishes of those of opposite views who voted against him? Is this not tyranny rather than democracy? — the tyranny of an arbitrary majority imposing its will on the forcibly excluded minority? Who can defend or justify such a system on republican grounds? . . . It is true, the minority must yield to the majority, but it does not follow as a sequence that the minority must therefore by suppressed and have no representation at all. – Joseph Medill, 1870


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? – Albert Einstein

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the social sciences is: some do, some don’t. – Ernest Rutherford


Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. – John F. Kennedy

Revolution – An abrupt change in the form of misgovernment – Ambrose Bierce

It’s too soon to tell — Chou En Lai on what he thought of the French Revolution

One revolution is like one cocktail. It just gets you ready for the next – Will Rogers

Revolution is a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering; the capacity for self-indulgence changes hands. But the world does not alter its shape or its course. — Lord Malquist in `Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon’ by Tom Stoppard

What do we mean by the Revolution? The War? That was no part of the Revolution. It was only an effect and consequence of it. The Revolution was in the minds of the People… – John Adams

SEAGOON: … Now what’s this all about?
MORIARTY: It is the revolution — everywhere there is an armed rising.
SEAGOON: Are you all in it?
MORIARTY: Right in it — you see, the United Anti-Socialist Neo-Democratic Pro-Fascist Communist Party are fighting to overthrow the
Unilateral Democratic United Partisan Bellicose Pacifist Co-Belligerent Tory Labour Liberal Party.
SEAGOON: Whose side are you on?
MORIARTY: There are no sides — we’re all in this together– “The Affair of the Lone Banana”, The Goon Show, 1954

The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it. — Abbie Hoffman

The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart — a revolution which has to start with each one of us.” – Dorothy Day, who started the Catholic Worker on this date in 1933


The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rexroth, Kenneth

Late at night the horses stumble
Around the camp and I awake.
I lie on my elbow watching
Your beautiful sleeping face
Like a jewel in the moonlight.
If you are lucky and the
Nations let you, you will live
Far into the twenty-first Century.
I pick up the glass
And watch the
Great Nebula
Of Andromeda swim like
A phosphorescent amoeba
Slowly around the Pole.
Far Away in distant cities
Fat-hearted men are planning
To murder you while you sleep.


We must do what we conceive to be the right thing, and not bother hour heads or burden our souls with whether we are going to be successful. Because if we don’t do the right thing, we’ll be doing the wrong thing, and we will just be part of the disease, and not a part of the cure — EF Schumacher


From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded… The shackles, therefore, . . . will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion. — Thomas Jefferson


You know that if I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back as a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything- William Faulkner


Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar – Spanish poet Machado exiled by General Franco

[Walker, there is no road, the road is made by walking]


Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read. — Frank Zappa, 1978

Roosevelt, Franklin

I should like to have it said of my first administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces met their master. – Franklin Roosevelt during the 1936 election


A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person – Dave Barry


There ain’t no rules around here. We’re trying to accomplish something. — Thomas Edison



The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes. – Salman Rushdie

Sacred cows

Sacred cows make the best hamburger – Abbie Hoffman


An expression of deep sadness overmastered by deeper strength. – Joshua Chamberlain’s description of Robert E. Lee coming to surrender to Grant

Sahl, Mort

Most people past college age are not atheists. It’s too hard to be in society, for one thing. Because you don’t get any days off. And if you’re an agnostic you don’t know whether you get them off or not.

There are Russian spies here now. And if we’re lucky, they’ll steal some of our secrets and they’ll be two years behind.

A Yuppie is someone who believes it’s courageous to eat in a restaurant that hasn’t been reviewed yet.

Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.

He was wearing a velvet shirt open to the navel. And he didn’t have one. Which is either a show business gimmick, or the ultimate rejection of mother.

There were four million people in the colonies and we had Jefferson and Franklin. Now we have over 200 million and the two top guys are Clinton and Dole. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong!


When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist. – Archbishop Helder Camara, Brazilian liberation theologian

“After god had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which he made the SCAB…. A SCAB is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly & glue…. When a SCAB comes down the street, men turn their backs, angels weep in heaven, & the Devil shuts the gates of Hell to keep him out…. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared to a SCAB. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A SCAB has not. – Jack London


Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality – Oscar Wilde


Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof – Ashley Montague

We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces. — Carl Sagan


It was not that one did not want to possess the right qualities or feel the correct emotions, but that one could not. The good and the possible never seemed to coincide. ~~ The schoolmasters with their canes, the millionaires with their Scottish castles, the athletes with their curly hair — these were the armies of the unalterable law. It was not easy, at that date, to realize that in fact it was alterable. And according to that law I was damned. I had no money, I was weak, I was ugly, I was unpopular. I had a chronic cough, I was cowardly, I smelt. ~~ The conviction that it was not possible for me to be a success went deep enough to influence my actions till far into adult life. ~~ But this sense of guilt and inevitable failure was balanced by something else: that is, the instinct to survive. Even a creature that is weak, ugly, cowardly, smelly and in no way justifiable still wants to stay alive and happy after its own fashion. I could not invert the existing scale of values, or turn myself into a success, but I could accept my failure and make the best of it. ~~ To survive, or at least to preserve any kind of independence, was essentially criminal, since it meant breaking rules that you yourself recognized. — George Orwell in “Such, Such Were the Joys. . . “


There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn – Albert Camus

Seeger Pete

I heard the song Of the world’s last whale
As I rocked in the moonlight
And reefed the sail.
It’ll happen to you
Also without fail
If it happens to me
Sang the world’s last whale.

– Pete Seeger


We dance around in a ring and suppose,
But the secret sits in the middle and knows – Robert Frost

What is primarily secret is what is a secret and what isn’t; that is perhaps the actual state secret. – Hans Magnus Enzensberger

There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows. – the late Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, in a speech at the CIA


The word `security’ is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law… The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our republic. — Justice Hugo Black, 1971


The secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious — HL Mencken


Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie – Umberto Eco


Here is a letter of friendly advice: ‘Be serious,’ it says. What it means, of course, is ‘Be solemn.’ Being solemn is easy. Being serious is hard … Children almost always begin by being serious, which is what makes them so entertaining when compared to adults as a class … Adults, on the whole, are solemn … Being solemn has almost nothing to do with being serious … Though Americans talk a great deal about the virtue of being serious, they generally prefer people who are solemn over people who are serious. – Russell Baker


I am happy now that Charles calls on my bedchamber less frequently than of old. As it is, I endure but two calls a week, and when I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, close my eyes, and think of England. — Lady Alice Hillingdon

If I squeeze into a parking place, I’m sexually satisfied – Rodney Dangerfield


All he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations. – H. L. Mencken,


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said, Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lips and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandius, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away. – OZYMANDIUS


Of all the living creatures upon ladn and sea, it is ships alone that cannot be taken in by barren pretenses, that will not put up with bad art from their masters. — Joseph Conrad


Drawing on my fine command of the English language I said nothing — Robert Benchley

A closed mouth gathers no feet – Anonymous

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


Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler – Albert Einstein


– “Live without dead time” – Vivez sans temps mort – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

– “I take my desires for reality because I believe in the reality of my desires” – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

– “Be realistic – demand the impossible!” – Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible! – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

– “Beneath the paving stones – the beach!” – Sous les pavés, la plage! – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

– “Down with a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation has been purchased with the guarantee that we will die of boredom.” – Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968

– “People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth”- Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution Of Everyday Life


I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves – Harriet Tubman


I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hittin’ – Yogi Berra


Smart, smooth and no good. — Raymond Chandler


The lord brought it; let the lord take it away – Boston Mayor James Michael Curley after a snow storm


Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. – John Steinbeck

I did have a test. . . It’s on European Socialism. I mean, really, what’s the point? I’m not European, I don’t plan on being European, so who gives a crap if they’re socialist? They could be fascist anarchists, that still wouldn’t change the fact that I don’t own a car. – Ferris Beuller


I think society is one of the greatest impediments an artist can possibly have. When I was young and needed help, society wouldn’t give it, because it had no confidence in what I was doing. But when, through my perseverance, society took an interest, then it wanted me not to do the next thing, but to repeat what I had done before. At every point society acts to keep you from doing what you have to do. — John Cage, 1973

Cultured people are merely the glittering scum which floats upon the deep river of production — Winston Churchill

Social conscience

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. ButI arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. — E.B. White


Old soldiers never die. Young ones do. — Unknown

The deterioration of life under the regime of the soldier is a commonplace: but just for that reason it needs to be sharpened by explicit statement.

Physical power is a rough substitute for patience and intelligence and cooperative effort in the governance of men: if used as a normal accompaniment of action instead of a last resort it is a sign of extreme social weakness. When a child is intolerably balked by another person without precisely seeing the cause of the situation and without sufficient force to carry through his own ends, he often solves the matter by a simple wish: he wishes the other person were dead. The soldier, a slave to the child’s ignorance and the child’s wish, differs from him only by his ability to effect a direct passage to action. Killing is the ultimate simplification of life. . .

In his pathetic desire for simplicity, the soldier at the bottom extends the empire of irrationality. . . Even when the warrior’s conquests are intelligently and almost beneficially made – as in the later Inca Empire of Peru – the reactions he sets in motion undermine the ends he has in view. For terrorism and fear create a low psychic state. In the act of making himself a master, the soldier helps create a race of slaves.

As for the sense of self-esteem the soldier achieves through his willingness to face death, one cannot deny that it has a perverse life-enhancing quality, but it is common to the gunman and the bandit, as well as to the hero: and there is no ground for the soldier’s belief that the battlefield is the only breeder of it. The mine, the ship, the blast furnace, the iron skeleton of bridge or skyscraper, the hospital ward, the childbed bring out the same gallant response: indeed, it is a far more common affair here than it is in the life of a soldier, who may spend his best years in empty drill, having faced no more serious threat of death than that from boredom. An imperviousness to life-values other than those clustered around the soldier’s underlying death-wish, is one of the most sinister effects of the military discipline.

Fortunately for mankind, the army has usually been the refuge of third-rate minds: a soldier of distinct intellectual capacity, a Caesar or a Napoleon, stands out as a startling exception. If the soldier’s mind went into action as intensely as his body, and if his intellectual discipline were as unremitting as his drill, civilization might easily have been annihilated long ago. – Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, 1934


What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Well, maybe it’s like Casey says: A fella ain’t got a soul of his own, just a piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody. And then it don’t matter, I’ll be around. In the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look. Whenever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever there’s a cop beaten’ up on a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad, and I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know suppers ready. And when people are eaten’ stuff they raise, and livin’ in the houses they build, I’ll be there, too!!!” — Tom Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath”


I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

– John Gillespie Magee, Jr


He speaks to me as if I were a public meeting — Queen Victoria of Gladstone


In society where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation – Guy Debord


Cool Papa Bell, a player in the Negro Baseball League was reputed to be so fast that he could turn off the light switch and be in his bed before the light went out. He also was said to be so fast that he once hit a hard drive to center field, and was hit by the ball as he slid into second.


You can’t help respecting someone who can spell Tuesday even if he can’t spell it right. — Winnie the Pooh

The spelling of words is subordinate. Morbidness for nice spelling and tenacity for or against one letter or so means dandyism and impotence in literature – Walt Whitman

-As our alphabet now stands, the bad spelling, or what is called so, is generally the best, as conforming to the sound of the letters and the words. — Benjamin Franklin

I don’t see any use in spelling a word right, and never did. I mean I don’t see any use in having a uniform and arbitrary way of spelling words. We might as well make all our clothes alike and cook all dishes alike. – Mark Twain

I have no respect for a man who doesn’t know more than one way to spell a word – Walt Whitman

“It’s a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.” — Andrew Jackson

“If the professors of English will complain to me that the students who come to the universities, after all those years of study, still cannot spell ‘friend,’ I say to them that something’s the matter with the way you spell friend.” — Richard Feynman

A gentleman received a letter, in which were these words: Not finding Brown at hom, I delivered your meseg to his yf. The gentleman, finding it bad spelling, and therefore not very intelligible, called his lady to help him read it. Between them they picked out the meaning of all but the yf, which they could not understand. The lady proposed calling her chambermaid, ‘because Betty,’ says she, ‘has the best knack at reading bad spelling of any one I know.’ Betty came, and was surprised that neither sir nor madam could tell what yf was. ‘Why,’ says she, ‘yf spells wife; what else can it spell?’ – Benjamin Franklin, letter to his sister, July 4, 1786


Jesus’ life didn’t go well. He didn’t reach his earning potential. He didn’t have the respect of his colleagues. His friends weren’t loyal. His life wasn’t long. He didn’t meet his soul mate. And he wasn’t understood by his mother. Yet I think I deserve all those things because I’m so spiritual. — Hugh Prather, “Spiritual Notes to Myself”

Spit infinitives

The English speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know & condemn; (4) those who know & approve; and (5) those who know & distinguish. Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, & are a happy folk, to be envied by most of the minority classes – Francis George Fowler


I have neverwillingly chased a ball — Robert Morley


The state in its efforts to control beyond where it can effectively impose itself, destroys everything – Simone Weil

As the state is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence. -Mohandas K. Gandhi

State of the Union Address

There’s nothing else in American politics quite like a State of the Union address. Thank God for it, too. Unquestionably the most tedious event on the political calendar, the SOTU is the pimply cousin’s graduation ceremony of American politics. You don’t want to be there, and your aunt and uncle and cousin don’t even want you there, yet ritualistically, you go, they force a smile, and you all suffer your way through it – Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast


He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts. . .for support rather than illumination. – Andrew Lang

47.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot. – Steven Wright

Stock Market

“Professional investment may be likened to those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole; so that each competitor has to pick, not the faces which he himself finds the prettiest, but those which he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors, all of whom are looking at the problem from the same point of view . . . We have reached the third degree when we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practice the fourth, fifth and higher degrees. – John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory Of Employment, Interest And Money. MORE

Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes the by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. – John Maynard Keynes

The market can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent – John Maynard Keynes

Come with me, and we will blow
Lots of bubbles, as we go;
Bubbles bright as ever Hope
Drew from fancy — or from soap;
Bright as e’er the South Sea sent
from its frothy element . . .
See!—But hark my time is out —
Now, like some great water-spout,
Scaterr’d by the cannon’s thunder,
Burst, ye bubbles, burst asunder!

[Irish economist Thomas Moore]


If a storyteller thinks enough of storytelling to regard it as a calling, unlike a historian he cannot turn from the sufferings of his characters. A storyteller, unlike the historian, must follow compassion wherever it leads him. He must be able to accompany his characters, even into smoke and fire, and bear witness to what they thought and felt even when they themselves no longer knew. – Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It


“If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?” — Will Rogers


The mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward — Robert Frost


80% of success is showing up — Woody Allen

The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation. – Mark Twain

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

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

If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you. – Steven Wright


Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.
— Dorothy Parker, Résumé


Summer afternoon – summer afternoon. To me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language – Henry James


A visitor to Dr. Einstein’s home was surprised to find a horseshoe hanging above the door. The visitor said that surely the physicist did not believe in this good luck charm. Replied Einstein, “Of course not, but I’m told it works whether you believe in it or not.”

Supply and demand

Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy. – Wendell Berry


It’s good to see you. It means you’re not behind my back — Henny Youngman


The worm in the radish doesn’t think there is anything sweeter – Shalom Aleichem



Everything has been said but not everyone has said it. — Rep Morris Udall


There is no human reason why a child should not admire and emulate his teacher’s ability to do sums, rather than the village bum’s ability to whittle sticks and smoke cigarettes. The reason why the child does not is plain enough – the bum has put himself on an equality with him and the teacher has not. – Floyd Dell, novelist, bohemian and one-time companion of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Never try to teach a pig how to sing. It’s a waste of time and it annoys the pig. — Paul Dickson


I always feared that my own TV set or iron or toaster would, in the privacy of my apartment, when no one else was around to help me, announce to me that they had taken over, and here was a list of rules I was to obey – Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick

Technology: The knack of so arranging a world that we need not experience it – Max Frisch


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 the old man had learned in seven years — Mark Twain


Television: chewing gum for the eyes – Frank Lloyd Wright (maybe)

Television has ruined every single thing it has touched. – Former Robert Kennedy aide Adam Walinsky

Educational television should be absolutely forbidden. It can only lead to unreasonable expectations and eventual disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around the room with royal blue chickens. — Fran Lebowitz

Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome — T. S. Eliot

The reason television is called a medium is because nothing on it is well done.– Fred Allen

Television is a device that permits people who haven’t anything to do to watch people who can’t do anything – Fred Allen

Never miss a chance for sex or to be on TV — Gore Vidal

It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper. – R. Serling

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room & read a book. – Groucho Marx

It was 1931 that we last reported on television, and our readers must be wondering how things are shaping up. Not any too good. Engineers are working like beavers, but it appears that our homes are in no immediate danger. The cost of sending and receiving even the sappiest image is terrific; twenty-five miles is still considered a good hop; and a facial expression, however rapt, is often damaged en route. We went last week to a demonstration of television on the sixty-second floor of the R.C.A. Building, where some rather startling images were ending up after being tossed around the midtown district. We sat in a darkened room squarely in front of a receiving set and, as we understand the matter, the persons and objects which we saw were down on the third floor of the same building, where they were first photographed televisually by an iconoscope, thence sent by direct wire to the Empire State Building, and then came back on a megacycle to the sixty-second floor of R.C.A. The magical unlikelihood of this occasion was not lessened any by the fact that a stranger wearing a telephone around his neck was crawling about on all fours in the darkness at our feet. This didn’t make television seem any too practical for the living room of one’s own home, although of course homes are changing. – EB WHITE, NEW YORKER, 1936

Television is a triumph of equipment over people, and the minds that control it are so small that you could put them in the navel of a flea and still have enough room for a network president’s heart. – Fred Allen


The way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. – Oscar Wilde

Ten Commandments

Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them. – HL Mencken


Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms. – Howard Zinn

If the Mafia attacks someone in this country, we don’t bomb Italy. – Ron Paul


I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.—Jon Stewart


The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory. – Thomas Jefferson

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is – Chuck Reid


As through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

– Woody Guthrie

The law will punish a man or woman who steals the goose from off the hillside, but let’s the greater robber loose, who steals the hillside from the goose — Anonymous, 18th century

I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator. – Mother Jones


Things are in the saddle and ride mankind – Ralph Waldo Emerson


The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking that we have done so far, has created problems we cannot solve at the level of thinking at which we created them. – Albert Einstein

Think tank

An organization which invents disinterested intellectual justifications for the policies of the corporate groups that fund it. The result is an unfortunate confusing of knowledge and power – John Ralston Saul

Thomas, Dylan

I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression. – Dylan Thomas who died, age 39, following a six-day coma brought on by drinking 18 straight whiskeys in a New York tavern.


A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices – William James

I think, therefore Descartes exists. – Saul Steinberg

Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic – Edward de Bono

A invitation to thought rather than a machine for solving crises. — Description by Robert Skidelsky of John Maynard Keynes’ General Theory

I had just dozed off into a stupor when I heard what I thought was myself talking to myself. I didn’t pay much attention to it, as I knew practically everything I would have to say to myself, and wasn’t particularly interested. – Robert Benchley


Time makes more converts than reason – Thomas Paine

It was Grandfather’s [watch] and when Father gave it to me he said, Quentin, I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire. . . I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” – William Faulkner, The Sound & the Fury


There is hardly time
To do the things I ought to do.
The intentions and the duties and the shoulds
Overrun my hands and back and mind
Like black ants
On chokecherry branches:
Running always, in all directions,
And never being nearer finished.
I do not know what things
Would best be done the first.

The sparrows ought be driven from the eaves;
The rotted fence posts lean
And no one brought the wire
To the shed, since all the corn was checked.
Big blocks, unsplit, are all that are left
In the wood pile.
I do, not know what things
Would best be done the first.

I think I may run up
To the north pasture now,
To see if the wind that blows there
Is stirring leaves and moving branches
And whispering the grass
As it did yesterday.

Cecil D. Wade

[We can find no source information on this poem or poet. Any help would be appreciated]

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. – George Orwell


I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired – Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer


May the roof above us never fall in and may we friends gathered below never fall out — Irish toast

May you have a fair wind and a following sea

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going and the insight to know when you’re going too far. — Irish toast

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door — Irish toast

May your trails be crooked, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into & above the clouds, May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples & castles & poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch & monkeys howl, through miasmal & mysterious swamps & down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes & pinnacles & grottos of endless stone, & down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come & go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something more beautiful & more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. – Edward Abbey


The allowance of that which is not wholly approved; appropriately, the allowance of religious opinions and modes of worship in a state, when contrary to or different from those of the established church or belief.” — 1828 definition of tolerance by Daniel Webster


“There have been three totalitarian forces in our lifetime. The totalitarianism of fascism, of communism, and now of capitalism.” – French farmer-activist José Bové

There is, of course, no reason why the new totalitarianisms should resemble the old . . . In an age of advanced technology, inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost. A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. — Aldous Huxley

Totalitarianism demands the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth. The friends of totalitarianism in this country usually tend to argue that since absolute truth is not attainable, a big lie is no worse than a little lie. It is pointed out that all historical records are biased and inaccurate, or, on the other hand, that modern physics has proved that what seems to us the real world is an illusion, so that to believe in the evidence of one’s senses is simply vulgar philistinism. A totalitarian society which succeeded in perpetuating itself would probably set up a schizophrenic system of thought, in which the laws of common sense held good in everyday life and in certain exact science, but could be disregarded by the politician, the historian and the sociologist. — George Orwell, “The Prevention of Literature.”

“A society becomes totalitarian when it sstructure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when it ruling class has lost its functin but suceeds in clinging to power by force or fraud. Such a society, no matter how long it persists, can never afford to become either tolerant or intellectually stable. It can never permit either the truthful recording of fats, or the emotional sincerity, that literary creation demands. — George Orwell, “The Prevention of Literature.”

The highest form of literary subtlety, in a corrupt social order, is to tell the plain truth– Edward Abbey


There are enough sad endings in life without buying a ticket to one — Joe Rauh on why he didn’t like to go to sad plays.


There isn’t a train I wouldn’t take, no matter where it’s going. – Edna St Vincent Millay


Every moment is travel – if understood — Disraeli

Travelling is a fool’s paradise. . .I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. . .My giant goes with me wherever I go. — RW Emerson

Worth seeing, yes. Worth going to see, no. — Samuel Johnson on being asked whether Rome was worth seeing.

Whether anyone needs a change or not he is going to get it and he should have the right to choose between experiencing it at home or at some distant and alien spot. My rut is my own — not a common one and mostly in my head. Besides, if I should go away I would miss something. — Henry Beetle Hough, editor of the Martha’s Vinyard Gazette

He who travels to be amused, or to get something which he does not carry, travels away from himself and grows old even in youth among old things. – RW Emerson


The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name. – Dylan Thomas


Trust everyone but get cash for your cotton. — Southern saying

What I tell you three times is true – Lewis Carroll

Truman, Harry

I fired [General MacArthur] because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail – Harry S Truman


The truth is more important than the facts. – Frank Lloyd Wright

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. – Andre Gide

Most everybody I see knows the truth but they just don’t know that they know it. – Woody Guthrie

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth – Sherlock Holmes

You should never have your best trousers on when you go out to fight for freedom and truth — Henrik Ibsen, “Enemy of the People”

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act — George Orwell

Tell the truth and run — George Seldes

Whoever tells the truth is chased out of nine villages — Turkish saying

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” — H. L. Mencken

Whitney, what you’re saying may get you a foundation grant, but it won’t get you into the Kingdom of Truth — Martin Luther King to the National Urban League’s Whitney Young after the latter rebuked King for opposing the Vietnam War

It’s easier to tell the truth than to lie, ’cause then you don’t have to remember what you said — Jerry ‘Bama ‘ Washington

I don’t know if it happened exactly like this, but I do know this story is true — American Indian story teller Nothing is too wonderful to be true — Michael Faraday

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied. — Claud Cockburn

It takes two to speak the truth; one to speak and another to hear – Henry David Thoreau

All the durable truths that have come into the world within historic times have been opposed as bitterly as if they were so many waves of smallpox – H.L. Mencken.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility – Oscar Wilde


Don’t trust anybody over 30 — Jack Weinberg, 1960s free speech activist


It is tyranny’s trademark to erase what came before, lest anyone trace the road back and realize that the present has become far, far worse than anything in the past. – Paul William Roberts

Nothing is more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye than to see the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, and to observe the implicit submission with which men resign over their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers — David Hume

It was the very soul of our old aristocratic policy that even a tyrant must never figure as a tyrant. He may break down everybody’s fences and steal everybody’s land, but he must do it by Act of Parliament and not with a great two-handed sword. And if he meets the people he’s dispossessed, he must be very polite to them and enquire after their rheumatism. That’s what kept the British Constitution going — enquiring after the rheumatism. — G K Chesterton

The limit of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress — Frederick Douglass

Typographical errors

An American editor worries his hair gray to see that no typographical mistakes appear on the pages of his magazine. The Chinese editor is wiser than that. He wants to leave his readers the supreme satisfaction of discovering a few typographical mistakes for themselves. More than that, a Chinese magazine can begin printing serial fiction and forget about it halfway. In America it might bring the roof down on the editors, but in China it doesn’t matter simply because it doesn’t matter.” — L:in Yutang, Chinese writer of the 1930s

The typographical errors in this issue are there on purpose. This publication tries to provide something for everyone and some people are always looking for mistakes. — Anonymous


Her mind lives tidily, apart
From cold and noise and pain,
And bolts the door against her heart,
Out wailing in the rain — Dorothy Parker


You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother – Albert Einstein


The universe is made of stories, not of atoms – MURIEL RUKEYSER

The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. – Albert Einstein

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarrely inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened. – Douglas Adams


Universities are of course hostile to geniuses, which, seeing and using ways of their own, discredit the routine, as churches and monastaries persecute youthful saints – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Vonnegut, Kurt

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.- Mother Night (1961)

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why?

Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand

Cat’s Cradle (1963)

High school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of. – Introduction to Our Time Is Now: Notes From the High School Underground (1970)

You know – we’ve had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. “My God, my God -” I said to myself, “it’s the Children’s Crusade.” – Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

[When] I was a student at the University of Chicago, I had a conversation with my thesis advisor about the arts in general. At that time, I had no idea that I personally would go into any sort of art.

He said, “You know what artists are?”

I didn’t.

“Artists,” he said, “are people who say, “I can’t fix my country or my state or my city, or even my marriage. But by golly, I can make this square of canvas, or this eight-and-a-half-by-eleven piece of paper, or this lump of clay, or these twelve bars of music, exactly what they ought to be!'” – Timequake (1997)

Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on. – “When I Was Twenty-One” in Wampeters, Foma and Granfaloons (1974)

1. Find a subject you care about. 2. Do not ramble, though. 3. Keep it simple. 4. Have the guts to cut. 5. Sound like yourself. 6. Say what you mean to say. 7. Pity the readers. – quoted in Science Fictionisms (1995) compiled by William Rotsler

We are human only to the extent that our ideas remain humane. – Breakfast of Champions (1973)

And so on. – Breakfast of Champions (1973)

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us. – “Cold Turkey”

So it goes. Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

Robert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all year round, was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes. Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes. And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military science in Vietnam. So it goes.”

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. . . He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. All they do is show you’ve been to college.

Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.

Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.

How nice–to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.

What the Gospels actually said was: don’t kill anyone until you are absolutely sure they aren’t well connected.

The acceptance of a creed, any creed, entitles the acceptor to membership in the sort of artificial extended family we call a congregation. It is a way to fight loneliness. Any time I see a person fleeing from reason and into religion, I think to myself, There goes a person who simply cannot stand being so goddamned lonely anymore.

I am an atheist (or at best a Unitarian who winds up in church quite a lot).

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.

When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
“It is done.”
People did not like it here.



You can only be young once. But you can always be immature. – Dave Barr

Yutang, Lin

A good traveller is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveller does not know where he came from.

All women’s dresses are merely variations on the eternal struggle between admitted desire to dress and the unadmitted desire to undress.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.

If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.

Society can exist only on the basis that there is some amount of polished lying and that no one says exactly what he thinks.

The wise man reads both books and life itself.

This I conceive to be the chemical function of humor: to change the character of our thought.

Where there are too many policemen, there is no liberty. Where there are too many soldiers, there is no peace. Where there are too many lawyers, there is no justice.

In the West, the insane are so many that they are put in an asylum, in China the insane are so unusual that we worship them.

How many of us are able to distinguish between the odors of noon and midnight, or of winter and summer, or of a windy spell and a still one? If man is so generally less happy in the cities than in the country, it is because all these variations and nuances of sight and smell and sound are less clearly marked and lost in the general monotony of gray walls and cement pavements.

The three great American vices seem to be efficiency, punctuality, and the desire for achievement and success. They are the things that make the Americans so unhappy and so nervous.

A man who has to be punctually at a certain place at five o’clock has the whole afternoon from one to five ruined for him already.

By association with natures enormities, a man’s heart may truly grow big also. There is a way of looking upon a landscape as a moving picture and being satisfied with nothing less big as a moving picture, a way of looking upon tropic clouds over the horizon as the backdrop of a stage and being satisfied with nothing less big as a backdrop, a way of looking upon the mountain forests as a private garden and being satisfied with nothing less as a private garden, a way of listening to the roaring waves as a concert and being satisfied with nothing less as a concert, and a way of looking upon the mountain breeze as an air-cooling system and being satisfied with nothing less as an air-cooling system. So do we become big, even as the earth and firmaments are big. Like the ‘Big Man’ described by Yuan Tsi (A.D. 210-263), one of China’s first romanticists, we ‘live in heaven and earth as our house.’

Such religion as there can be in modern life, every individual will have to salvage from the churches for himself.

I feel, like all modern Americans, no consciousness of sin and simply do not believe in it. All I know is that if God loves me only half as much as my mother does, he will not send me to Hell. That is a final fact of my inner consciousness, and for no religion could I deny its truth.

It is not so much what you believe in that matters, as the way in which you believe it and proceed to translate that belief into action.

When there are too What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?

Art is both creation and recreation. Of the two ideas, I think art as recreation or as sheer play of the human spirit is more important.


He was living proof of verbal association, shooting off tangentially along new lines of thought suggested to him in mid-paragraph, even mid-sentence, as if terrified that his life might end with things unspoken. The way to deal with this, Pascoe learned by trial and error, was to ignore all irrelevancies and use key-phrases… as verbal sheepdogs to drive him back in the required direction. — Reginald Hill, ‘Deadheads’


Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake. – Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower


The war in Vietnam is going well and will succeed. – Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, 1963


Violence can never provide the answer. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. – Martin Luther King

If in the first act you introduce a gun, by the third act you have to use it – Anton Chekhov

We are mad, not only individuals but nations also. We restrain manslaughter and individual murders; but what of war and the so-called glory of killing whole peoples? . . . Deeds of cruelty are done every day by command of the Senate and popular assembly, and servants of the state are ordered to do what is forbidden to the private citizen. The same deeds which would be punished by death if committed in secret are applauded when done openly by soldiers in uniform. — Seneca, Letters 95, c. 63 AD

You know what I think about violence. For me it is profoundly moral, more moral than compromise and negotiation – Benito Mussolini

If history shows that a violent response to an act of terrorism begets more terrorism, then why is a violent response the predominant choice of the experts and politicians of the world? – Beau Grosscup


What is virtue but the lack of strong temptation; better to leave us with our lie of being good – Stephen Dobyns

The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of vice — G.K. Chesterton

Vonnegut, Kurt

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.


Wall Street

Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen. – Huey Long


Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time- Steven Wright


There is no moral difference between a Stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. They both kill innocent people for political reasons. –Tony Benn

War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography – Ambrose Bierce

A wonderful time – the War:
when money rolled in and blood rolled out.
But blood was far away from here–
Money was near.

– Langston Hughes

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. – Albert Einstein

War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn’t any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone’s being worse off – Karl Kaus

There never was a good war or bad peace. – Benjamin Franklin


Lend me your arm
to replace my leg
The rats ate it for me
at Verdun

At Verdun
I ate lots of rats
but they didn’t give me back my leg
and that’s why I was given the croix de guerre
and a wooden leg
and a wooden leg

– Benjamin Peret

A great war leaves the country with three armies – an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. – German proverb

On they came, with the old swinging route step and swaying battle flags. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood; men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond…So thin, so pale, purged of the mortal – as if knowing pain or joy no more. How could we help falling on our knees, all of us together, and praying God to pity and forgive us all! – General Joshua Chamberlain on the surrender at Appomattox

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake – Jeanette Rankin ….

War is a sociological safety valve that cleverly diverts popular hatred for the ruling classes into a happy occasion to mutilate or kill foreign enemies. – Ernest Becker

Of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the 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 . . . 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 way in any country. – Hermann Goering to Nuremberg psychologist Gustave Gilbert ….

If we fix it so’s you can’t make money on war, we’ll all forget what we’re killing folks for – Woody Guthrie

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government. Perhaps nothing today distinguishes democratic government in England so greatly from the totalitarianism of Germany as the freedom of criticism which has existed continuously in the House of Commons and elsewhere in England. Of course that criticism should not give any information to the enemy. But too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism. If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur. – GOP Senator Robert Taft

The loud little handful – as usual – will shout for the war. The pulpit will – warily and cautiously – object… at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.”

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men…

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. Mark Twain, “The Mysterious Stranger” (1910)

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! . . . O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst. . . broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen. – Mark Twain

The war made possible for us the solution of a whole series of problems that could never have been solved in normal times. – Joseph Goebbels, quoted in “The Goebbels Diaries 1942-43”

They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people. – Eugene Debs, Socialist candidate for president, June 16, 1918. The speech led to Debs’s being stripped of his citizenship and sent to jail for 10 years ….

Even the final decision of a war is not to be regarded as absolute. The conquered nation often sees it as only a passing evil, to be repaired after time by political combination – Carl von Clausewitz

War would end if the dead could return – Stanley Baldwin

There never was a good war or bad peace. – Benjamin Franklin

When the rich make war, it’s the poor that die. – Jean-Paul Sartre

The war party in the United States seeks to justify our entrance into the bloody conflict on the ground that it is in the interest of democracy. But every man and every woman knows that there is a struggle going on today in every civilized nation between democracy and autocracy. Every nation has its war party. It is not the party of democracy. It is the party of autocracy. It seeks to dominate absolutely. It is commercial, imperialistic, ruthless. It tolerates no opposition. . . In times of peace, the war party insists on making preparation for war. As soon as prepared for war, it insists on making war. If there is no sufficient reason for war, the war party will make war on one pretext, then invent another, possibly more effective, pretext after war is on. Before war is declared, the war party assumes the divine right to denounce and silence all opposition to war as unpatriotic and cowardly. After Congress has been bullied into a declaration of war, the politicians, the press, and the mercenaries of the war party assume authority to deny the right of American citizens to discuss the necessity for the war, or the ultimate object and purpose of the declaration of war. . .People are being unlawfully arrested, thrown into jail, denied the right to employ counsel, or to communicate with their friends, or even to inform their families of their whereabouts, subjected to unlawful search, threatened, intimidated, examined, and cross-examined. The most sacred constitutional rights guaranteed to every American citizen are violated in the name of democracy.It appears to be the purpose of those conducting this procedure to throw the country into a state of terror, to coerce public opinion, stifle criticism, suppress discussion of the issues of the war, and put a quietus on all opposition. It is time for the American people to assert and maintain their rights. . . . – Senator Robert LaFolette, 1917

Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. – Mark Twain

If any question why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied. – Rudyard Kipling

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. – Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953, before the American Society of Newspaper Editors …..

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war.

The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives.

They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people.

And here let me emphasize the fact-and it cannot be repeated too often-that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. – Eugene Debs

With the shock of war ~ the State comes into its own again. The government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world. The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.The moment war is declared, however, the mass of the people, through some spiritual alchemy, become convinced that they have willed and executed the deed themselves. They then, with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives, and turned into a solid manufactory of destruction toward whatever other people may have, in the appointed scheme of things, come within the range of the Government’s disapprobation. The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men. Patriotism becomes the dominant feeling, and produces immediately that intense and hopeless confusion between the relations which the individual bears and should bear toward the society of which he is a part. – Randolph Bourne (1918)

The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature. — James Madison, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 2, 1798

One to mislead the public, one to mislead the Cabinet, and third to mislead itself — Herbert Asquith describing the purpose of three sets of figures that he claimed were kept by the British War Office

Don’t cheer, men, those poor devils are dying — Rear Admiral John Woodward Philip at the Battle of Santiago 1989

We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. . . We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all the time . . . We are going to go through him like crap through a goose, like shit through a tin horn — General George S. Patton Jr. to toops on D-Day eve at Stourport-on-Severn.

It has been a damned nice thing – the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life, by God! – The Duke of Wellington of the battle of Waterloo

I watch [the pilot’s] hands and their feet on the controls, the delicacy of the coordination reminds me of the sure and seeming clow hands of Casala on the cello. They are trulymusician’s hands and they play their controls like musice and they dance them like ballerinas and the make me lealous because I want somuch to do it. – John Steinbeck

I do like to see the arms and legs fly. – Col. George S. Patton III

Blood can not be washed out with blood – Arab proverb

“If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, then every Post-War American president would have to be hanged.” – Noam Chomsky, 1973

How is the world ruled and how do wars start. Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read – Karl Kraus

The loss of enemies does not compensate for the loss of friends – Abraham Lincoln

It became necessary to destory the town to save it – Unnamed major, BenTre S. Vietnam, 1968

I wish you to burn and kill; the more you burn and kill, the better it will please me. – Brigadier General “Hell-roaring Jake” Smith to his U.S. Marines as they land in the Philippines

It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell. -William Tecumseh Sherman

War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn’t any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone’s being worse off – Karl Kaus

Whether your shell hits the target or not,
Your cost is Five Hundred Dollars a Shot.
You thing of noise and flame and power,
We feed you a hundred barrels of flour
Each time you roar. Your flame is fed
With twenty thousand loaves of bread.
Silence! A million hungry men
Seek bread to fill their mouths again.

[“To a Nine-Inch Gun”, sent on a crumpled piece of paper to the New York World by P.F. McCarthy, c.1915, with the author’s address given as Fourth Bench, City Hall Park – Daily Bleed]


The plan of the federal city, sir, departs from every principle of freedom, as far as the distance of the two polar stars from each other; for, subjecting the inhabitants of that district to the exclusive legislation of Congress, in whose appointment they have no share or vote, is laying a foundation on which may be erected as complete a tyranny as can be found in the Eastern world. Nor do I see how this evil can possibly be prevented, without razing the foundation of this happy place, where men are to live, without labor, upon the fruit of the labors of others; this political hive, where all the drones in the society are to be collected to feed on the honey of the land. How dangerous this city may be, and what its operation on the general liberties of this country, time alone must discover; but I pray God, it may not prove to this western world what the city of Rome, enjoying a similar constitution, did to the eastern. – Thomas Tredwell, New York Ratifying Convention for US Constitution, 1788

In Washington, the first thing people tell you is what their job is. In Los Angeles you learn their star sign. In Houston you’re told how rich they are. And in New York they tell you what their rent is. – Simon Hoggart

I felt very bad in Washington. . . I didn’t like my job, and I didn’t know what was going to happen to me, and I was cold and half-hungry, so I wrote a great many poems. – Langston Hughes

This is the best city in the world to live in – in the future – Gouvemeur Morris, 1800

Here are assembled from every State in the Union, what ought to be the collected talent, intelligence, and high principles of a free and enlightened nation. Of talent and intelligence there is a very fair supply, but principle is not so much in demand; and in everything, and everywhere, by the demand the supply is regulated. – Captain Frederick Marry at, 1838

The District of Columbia is the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the people and by the people. – Frederick Douglass,1877

It is always safe – in Washington – to be civil to the respectably clad. – Bertha Herrick, 1881

The population of Washington is more like that of Paris or Vienna than of the usual American city. The people are more interested in amusement than work, and a celebration of any kind is sure m a large attendance. – Frank G. Carpenter (1882?)

[Washington] looks a sort of place where nobody has to work for his living, or, at any rate, not hard. – G. W. Stevens, 1897

The Washington Smart Set, like others I have glimpsed, is too much concerned with smartness to be interesting – Maurice Slayton, 1898

Washington is the city where the big men of little towns come to be disillusioned – Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1900

Taking it all in all and after all, negro life in Washington is a promise rather than a fulfillment. But it is worthy of note for the really excellent things which are promised – Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1900

Washington is the graveyard of reputations as well as the cradle of fame – A. Maurice Low, 1900

One could not stay a month without loving the shabby town – Henry Adams, 1907

The social side of Washington was to be taken for granted as three-fourths of existence. Politics and reform became the detail, and waltzing the profession – Henry Adams, 1907

As a colored woman I might enter Washington any night, stranger in a strange land, and walk miles without finding a place to lay my head – Mary Church Terrell, 1907

Washington, one feels in Washington, is the spoiled child of the republic. – Montgomery Schuyler, 1912

Here almost everybody works for the government, depends on somebody who works for the government, works for somebody who works for the government, or is trying to sell something-to somebody who works for the government – Edwin Rosskam, 1939

This is a town of people who spend their time sitting at desks, writing little things on pieces of paper, dictating letters into machines, talking on the telephone to people they never see. – Anonymous bureaucrat, 1943

Even if Judgment Day is well advertised in advance, I’m quite sure there will be a party going on in Washington – Vera Bloom, 1944

Bourgeois town – Leadbelly, 1959

[Washington is a] very gossipy little village of people all going to the same bars . . . all watching each other having affairs with each other – British actress Helen Mirren

There is a sort of an unwritten code in Washington, among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend. – Marion Barry

When you arrived it was snowing. When you reached the hotel it was sleeting. When you went to bed it was raining. During the night it froze hard, and the wind blew some chimneys down. When you got up in the morning it was foggy. When you finished your breakfast at ten o’clock and went out, the sunshine was brilliant, the weather balmy and delicious, and the mud and slush deep and all pervading. You will like the climate-when you get used to it. . . . Take an umbrella, an overcoat, and a fan, and so forth. – Mark Twain

Profoundly ignorant, anxious, and curious, the young man packed his modest trunk again, which had not yet time to be unpacked, and started for Washington with his family. Ten years had passed since his last visit, but very little had changed. As in 1800 and 1850, so in 1860, the same rude colony was camped in the same forest, with the same unfinished greek temples for work-rooms and sloughs for roads. The Government had an air of social instability and incompleteness that went far to support the right of secession in theory as in fact; but right or wrong, secession was likely to be easy where there was so little to secede from. The Union was a sentiment, but not much more, and in December, 1860, the sentiment about the Capitol was mostly hostile, so far as it made itself felt. John Adams was better off in Philadelphia in 1776 than his great-grandson Henry in 1860 in Washington – Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams

The bitch set me up – Mayor Marion Barry

What do you want: a Disneyland for the rich or a state for free people? – Julius Hobson

The dumbest things they ever did was to put this shit on TV so they could see how stupid we are – City Council chair John Wilson talking about city council meetings

I am. . . here amid all this huge mess of traitors, loafers, hospitals, axe-grinders, & incompetencies & officials that goes by the name of Washington. – Walt Whitman

“I don’t poke holes in my clothes for nobody” – The always well dressed City Council chair John Wilson upon being offered a campaign button

What makes a long residence in Washington so bad for one”s temper is the horrible display of vanity, especially among the men. If ever, once, in all these forty years that I have known statesmen, I had met one solitary individual who thought, even at intervals, of anyone or anything but himself, I would forgive him as a sad example of human eccentricity, and say no word against him – Henry Adams 1902


The weak have one weapon – the errors of those who think they are strong – George Bidault


In a community regulated only by laws of demand and supply, but protected from open violence, the persons who become rich are, generally speaking, industrious, resolute, proud, covetous, prompt, methodical, sensible, unimaginative, insensitive, and ignorant. The persons who remain poor are the entirely foolish, the entirely wise, . . . the idle, the reckless, the humble, the thoughtful, the dull, the imaginative, the sensitive, the well-informed, the improvident, the irregularly and impulsively wicked, the clumsy knave, the open thief, and the entirely merciful, just, and godly person. – John Ruskin, Cornhill Magazine, 1860

The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights — J. Paul Getty  

Shows what God could do if he had the money — Wolcott Gibbs on a tree being transplanted to a Long Island estate at a cost of $200,000

George Bush was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple — Jim Hightower

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


The West did not provide what they needed. Make-believe fandangos, transvestite laundresses, hydrophobic wolves, ant-fights, crazed foreigners, pretty sunsets–this was not enough. The West was not dull, it was stupendously dull, and when it was not dull it was murderous. A man could get killed without realizing it. There were unbelievable flash floods, weird snakes, and God Himself did not know what else, along with Indians descending as swiftly as the funnel of a tornado. – Evan S. Connell

West, Mae

I feel like a million tonight… But one at a time


Freedom and whiskey go together –Robert Burns

Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake. W. C. Fields

White EB

EB White quotations

Whitman Walt

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals. Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown. – Walt Whitman

One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes man mistake words for thoughts – Samuel Johnson

Winnie the Pooh

It was just the day for Organizing Something, or for a Notice Signed Rabbit, or for Seeing What Everybody Else Thought About It. – Winnie the Pooh


I would rather lose in a cause that will some day win, than win in a cause that will some day lose. — Woodrow Wlson

The race is not always to the swift. The battle is not always to the strong. But that’s the way to bet. — Damon Runyon

I feel sorry for someone who has to win at everything – Snoopy

Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake – Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower


Who is wise? One who learns from all – Rabbi Ben Zoma

We learn geology the day after the earthquake — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that a tomato doesn’t belong in a fruit salad. — Miles Kington

The whole problem with the world is that fools & fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts. – Bertrand Russell


Wit is educated insolence – Aristotle

Wodehouse, PG

Do you know your Shelly, Bertie?

Oh, am I? — PG Wodehouse, The Code of Woosters


When women understand that governments and religions are human inventions; that bibles, prayer-books, catechisms, and encyclical letters are all emanations from the brains of man, they will no longer be oppressed by the injunctions that come to them with the divine authority of ‘Thus sayeth the Lord.’ – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. – Abigail Adams to her husband, John


[He] has the gift on compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thoughts – Winston Churchill

Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom. – Edward Gibbons, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

I’ve decided to skip ‘holistic.’ I don’t know what it means, and I don’t want to know. That may seem extreme, but I followed the same strategy toward ‘Gestalt’ and the Twist, and lived to tell the tale. – Calvin Trillan

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything. — Confucius

By ringing small changes on the words leg-of-mutton and turnip, (changes so gradual as to escape detection,) I could ‘demonstrate’ that a turnip was, is, and of right ought to be, a leg-of-mutton — Edgar Alan Poe

Drawing on my fine command of the English language I said nothing. — Robert Benchley

Everything has been said but not everyone has said it yet. — Mo Udall

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” — Lewis Carroll

WORDS: Conduits of spirit – RW Emerson


Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. – Robert Benchley

Labor: one of the processes by which A acquires the property of B — Ambrose Bierce

Men of England wherefore plow
For the lords who lay you low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear — Shelley

Never work before breakfast; if you have to work for breakfast, be sure to get your breakfast first — Josh Billings

No tin-hat brigade of goose-stepping vigilantes or Bible-babbling mob of blackguarding and corporation-paid scoundrels will prevent the onward march of labor — John L. Lewis, 1937

One is more likely to get hunchbacked than rich through work — Russian proverb

Prices take the elevator but wages take the stair — Anonymous

I shall not live to see women vote, but I’ll come and rap at the ballot box — Lydia Maria Child, 1804

It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it. – Steven Wright

The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast — Oscar Wilde

I have one share in corporate Earth, and I am nervous about the management. – EB White

There are books in which the footnotes or comments scrawled by some reader’s hand in the margin are more interesting that the text. The world is one of these books. – George Santayana

World Class

WORLD CLASS – A phrase used by provincial cities and second-rate entertainment and sports events, as well as a wide variety of insecure individuals, to assert that they are not provincial or second-rate, thereby confirming that they are. – John Ralston Saul

Wright, Steven

Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “Where’s the self-help section?” She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

I spilled spot remover on my dog. He’s gone now.

If a deaf person swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

Is there another word for synonym?

Where do forest rangers go to “get away from it all?”

What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?

Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?

How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow road signs?

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

One nice thing about egotists: they don’t talk about other people.

Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown, too?

Why is it called tourist season if we can’t shoot at them?

Can an atheist get insurance against acts of God?


My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably. – George Bernard Shaw

A writer is a man for whom writing is more difficult than it is for others. – Thomas Mann

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing -Ben Franklin

If a writer is silent, he is lying. – Jaroslav Seifert

The writer is the person who stands outside society, independent of affiliation and independent of influence. The writer is the man or woman who automatically takes a stance against his or her government. There are so many temptations for American writers to become part of the system and part of the structure that now, more than ever, we have to resist. American writers ought to stand and live in the margins, and be more dangerous. Writers in repressive societies are considered dangerous. That’s why so many of them are in jail. – Don DeLillo

The writer’s only service to the disintegrated society of today is to create little independent systems of order of his own. – Evelyn Waugh

A free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps — Robert Benchley

Asking a working writer what he feels about critics is like asking a lamp post what it feels about dogs — John Osborne

I was recently asked what it takes to become a writer. Three things, I answered: First, one must cultivate incompetence at almost every other form of profitable work. This must be accompanied, second, by a haughty contempt for all the forms of work that one has established one cannot do. To these two must be joined, third, the nuttiness to believe that other people can be made to care about your opinions and views and be charmed by the way you state them. Incompetence, contempt, lunacy – once you have these in place, you are set to go. – Joseph Epstein

Our fundamental want today in the United States, with closest, amplest reference to present conditions, and to the future, is of a class, and a clear idea of a class, of native authors, literatuses, far different, far higher in grade than any yet known, sacerdotal, modern, fit to cope with our occasions, lands, permeating the whole mass of American mentality, taste, belief, breathing into it a new breath of life, giving it decisions, affecting politics far more than the popular superficial suffrage, with results inside and underneath the elections of Presidents or Congresses—radiating, begetting appropriate teachers, schools, manners, and, as its grandest results, accomplishing . . . a religious and moral character beneath the political and productive and intellectual basis of the States — Walt Whitman

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened & after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you & afterwards it all belongs to you: the good & the bad, the ecstacy, the remorse & sorrow, the people & the places & how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer. – Ernest Hemingway

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both — EB White in ‘Charlotte’s Web’

[Mary Margaret McBride asked Carl Van Doren if it was hard to write. He replied]: Yes, it’s hard to write but it’s harder not to.

If you can’t be funny, be interesting — Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker

The whole duty of the writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Let him start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and he is as good as dead, although he may make a nice living. — E B White

How do I know what I think until I have written about it? — E. M. Forster

Writing *** must come from a great emotional upheaval in the soul, and if that upheaval is not present, it must come from the work of any other writer which happens to be handy and easily imitated — Robert Benchley


The secret of this kind of writing is that it isn’t buying anything and it isn’t selling anything. – Kenneth Rexroth on the work of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett

Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Verbs have to agree with their subjects. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. A writer must not shift your point of view. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.) Don’t overuse exclamation marks!! Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing. Always pick on the correct idiom. The adverb always follows the verb. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives. – William Safire

If you can’t annoy somebody with what you write, I think there’s little point in writing — Kingsley Amis

Printer’s ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries. – Christopher Morley

Most of the great works of juvenile literature are subversive in one way or another; they express ideas and emotions not generally approved of or even recognized at the time; they make fun of honored figures and piously held beliefs; & they view social pretenses with clear-eyed directness, remarking – as in Andersen’s famous tale – that the emperor wears no clothes. – Alison Lurie, Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups

I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it under water for every part that shows. – Ernest Hemingway

I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork – Peter De Vries

I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better. – AJ Liebling

I never knew what was meant by choice of words. It was one word or none. — Robert Frost

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. — George Orwell in Politics and the English Language

The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth — Henry Thoreau

Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead. – Gene Fowler

Dickens didn’t write what people wanted; he wanted what people wanted – GK Chesterton

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. – Dorothy Parker

My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably. – George Bernard Shaw

Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us – George Orwell

The article that started the statehood movement

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The huge drug corrruption story the major media chose to ignore

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Thoughts on the JFK killing

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Clinton and killer blood

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Arkansas connections

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Boycotting the new Confederates

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The real Jefferson Sessions

Jefferson Sessions was named after his father and his grandfather, who were both named after Confederate leader Jefferson Davis. 

Sessions thinks 26% of Americans unfit to govern because they don’t believe in God

Sessions wobbles on marijuana law enforcement

Some more reasons to reject Sessions

Sessions would consider reviving porn prosecutions

Sessions can’ remember whether he got award from the KKK

Sessions’ record against voting rights

Deciphering Jeff Sessions

1,226 Law Professors Tell Congress to Dump Jeff Sessions

Questions about Sessions’ civil rights cases

Sessions’ appointment would be good news for the pending Bayer-Monsanto mega-merger

How Sessions handles the law

Sessions favors anti-Muslim immigration rules

Notes on Sessions