Quotations

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“A thing of duty is annoy forever.” — Oliver Herford

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“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.” — Aeschylus

“No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend.” — Groucho Marx

“We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?” — Jean Cocteau

“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” — Gore Vidal

Misc

  • AWE and WONDER are synonyms, but AWFUL and WONDERFUL are antonyms.
  • Abraham Lincoln is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
  • Ravel described Boléro as “a piece for orchestra without music.”
  • “In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.” — Coleridge

Diamonds and Pearls

Yet more aphorisms from German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg:

  • “The most perfect ape cannot draw an ape; only man can do that; but, likewise, only man regards the ability to do this as a sign of superiority.”
  • “A book which, above all others in the world, should be forbidden, is a catalogue of forbidden books.”
  • “The motives that lead us to do anything might be arranged like the thirty-two winds and might be given names on the same pattern: for instance, ‘bread-bread-fame’ or ‘fame-fame-bread.'”
  • “We accumulate our opinions at an age when our understanding is at its weakest.”
  • “Once the good man was dead, one wore his hat and another his sword as he had worn them, a third had himself barbered as he had, a fourth walked as he did, but the honest man that he was — nobody any longer wanted to be that.”
  • “With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another.”
  • “We say that someone occupies an official position, whereas it is the official position that occupies him.”
  • “There are very many people who read simply to prevent themselves from thinking.”
  • “With prophecies the commentator is often a more important man than the prophet.”
  • “Delight at having understood a very abstract and obscure system leads most people to believe in the truth of what it demonstrates.”
  • “There is no greater impediment to progress in the sciences than the desire to see it take place too quickly.”
  • “There is no more important rule of conduct in the world than this: attach yourself as much as you can to people who are abler than you and yet not so very different that you cannot understand them.”
  • “What is the good of drawing conclusions from experience? I don’t deny we sometimes draw the right conclusions, but don’t we just as often draw the wrong ones?”
  • “When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always have come from the book?”

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“We often want one thing and pray for another, not telling the truth even to the gods.” — Seneca

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“I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine.” — Kurt Vonnegut

“No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.” — Samuel Johnson

“Nothing more completely represents a nation than a public building.” — Benjamin Disraeli

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“Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.” — George Santayana

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“The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.” — Jean Cocteau

Misc

  • Colombia is the only South American country that borders both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
  • GRAVITATIONAL LENS = STELLAR NAVIGATION
  • 28671 = (2 / 8)-6 × 7 – 1
  • Can a man released from prison be called a freeee?
  • “Nature uses as little as possible of anything.” — Johannes Kepler

Sergei Prokofiev died on the same day that Joseph Stalin’s death was announced. Moscow was so thronged with mourners that three days passed before the composer’s body could be removed for a funeral service.

(Thanks, Alina.)

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“There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god.” — J.B.S. Haldane

Misc

  • Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, until 2013.
  • To protect its ecosystem, the location of Hyperion, the world’s tallest living tree, is kept secret.
  • 34425 = 34 × 425
  • CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE = ACTUAL CRIME ISN’T EVINCED
  • “Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?” — James Thurber

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“The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, ‘Is there a meaning to music?’ My answer would be, ‘Yes.’ And ‘Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?’ My answer to that would be, ‘No.'” — Aaron Copland, What to Listen for in Music, 1939

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“A machine is a great moral educator. If a horse or a donkey won’t go, men lose their tempers and beat it; if a machine won’t go, there is no use beating it. You have to think and try till you find what is wrong. That is real education.” — Gilbert Murray

United Nations

“England’s not a bad country — it’s just a mean, cold, ugly, divided, tired, clapped-out, post-imperial, post-industrial slag heap covered in polystyrene hamburger cartons.” — Margaret Drabble

“Belgium is a country invented by the British to annoy the French.” — Charles de Gaulle

“In India, ‘cold weather’ is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass doorknob and weather which only makes it mushy.” — Mark Twain

“The Americans … have invented so wide a range of pithy and hackneyed phrases that they can carry on an amusing and animated conversation without giving a moment’s reflection to what they are saying and so leave their minds free to consider the more important matters of big business and fornication.” — Somerset Maugham

“In any world menu, Canada must be considered the vichyssoise of nations — it’s cold, half-French, and difficult to stir.” — Stuart Keate

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“The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn’t need its brain anymore, so it eats it. It’s rather like getting tenure.” — Daniel Dennett

From the Notebooks

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More aphorisms of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg:

  • “A man who has once stolen his hundred thousand dollars can live honestly ever after.”
  • “In the world we live in, one fool makes many fools, but one sage only a few sages.”
  • “A double louis d’or certainly counts more than two singles.”
  • Non cogitant, ergo non sunt.” (They do not think, therefore they do not exist.)
  • “Health is infectious.”
  • “A donkey appears to me like a horse translated into Dutch.”
  • “A man can never really know whether he isn’t sitting in a madhouse.”
  • “Isn’t it strange? We always consider that those who praise us are competent critics, but as soon as they blame us, we declare them incapable of judging creations of the intellect.”
  • “When sitting in a shabby carriage, one can actually put on such airs that the whole carriage looks good, and the horse too.”
  • “Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.”

“Is it really so absolutely certain that our reason can know nothing metaphysical? Might man not be able to weave his ideas of God with just as much purpose as the spider weaves his net to catch flies? Or, in other words: might not beings exist who admire us as much for our ideas of God and immortality as we admire the spider and the silkworm?”

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“While an author is yet living, we estimate his powers by his worst performance; and when he is dead, we rate them by his best.” — Samuel Johnson

Misc

  • A pound of dimes has the same value as a pound of quarters.
  • The French word hétérogénéité has five accents.
  • 32768 = (3 – 2 + 7)6 / 8
  • Can you deceive yourself deliberately?
  • “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” — Thomas Paine

In 2000, Guatemalan police asked Christmas revelers not to fire pistols into the air. “Lots of people die when bullets fall on their heads,” National Civilian Police spokesman Faustino Sanchez told Reuters. He said that five to ten Guatemalans are killed or injured each Christmas by falling bullets.

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“Love ceases to be a pleasure, when it ceases to be a secret.” — Aphra Behn

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“I have never yet met anyone who did not think it was an agreeable sensation to cut tinfoil with scissors.” — Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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“Men are not hang’d for stealing Horses, but that Horses may not be stolen.” — George Savile, Marquess of Halifax

Misc

  • Will Rogers died at the northernmost point in the United States.
  • 94122 + 23532 = 94122353
  • TO BE OR NOT TO BE contains two Bs.
  • If you stop me being mute, what sound do I make?
  • “Better to ask twice than to lose your way once.” — Danish proverb

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“The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction.” — Bertrand Russell

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“I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.” — Francis Bacon