Priorities

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“Once I saw a chimpanzee gaze at a particularly beautiful sunset for a full 15 minutes, watching the changing colors until it became so dark that he had to retire to the forest without stopping to pick a pawpaw for supper.” — Adriaan Kortlandt

Worldly Wise

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Proverbs from around the world:

  • A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner. (English)
  • Impulse manages all things badly. (Latin)
  • It is not the thief who is hanged, but the one who is caught stealing. (Czech)
  • Never promise a poor man, and never owe a rich one. (Brazilian)
  • A fool at forty is a fool indeed. (Ethiopian)
  • Quarrelsome dogs come limping home. (Swedish)
  • A canoe does not know who is king: when it turns over, everyone gets wet. (Malagasy)
  • A thousand regrets do not pay one debt. (Turkish)
  • Every road leads somewhere. (Filipino)
  • He who steals a needle will steal an ox. (Korean)
  • Cleverness is serviceable for everything, sufficient for nothing. (French)
  • The tongue is the neck’s worst enemy. (Egyptian)
  • If work were good for you, the rich would leave none for the poor. (Haitian)
  • Happiness is not a horse that can be harnessed. (Russian)
  • Relatives are scorpions. (Tunisian)
  • Silence does not make mistakes. (Hindi)

Misc

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  • Dick Gregory gave his twin daughters the middle names Inte and Gration.
  • Trains were invented before bicycles.
  • CONSTRAINT = CANNOT STIR
  • “We must believe in free will — we have no choice.” — Isaac Bashevis Singer

“How Rumors Spread,” a palindrome by Fred Yannantuono:

“Idiot to idiot to idiot to idiot to idiot to idi …”

Unquote

Excerpts from the notebooks of English belletrist Geoffrey Madan (1895-1947):

“Work shapes the mind; leisure colors it.” — Revd. James Dolbear (1861)

“In language, the ignorant have prescribed laws to the learned.” — Richard Duppa

“To speak highly of one with whom we are intimate is a form of egotism.” — Hazlitt

“Who loves, will not be adored.” — Revd. J.C. Lavater

“While philosophers were looking for a characteristic to distinguish man from other animals, inconsistency ought not to have been forgotten.” — Richard Duppe

“Never be afraid to think yourself fit for anything for which your friends think you fit.” — Dr. Johnson

“What passes in the world for enterprise is often only a want of moral principle.” — Hazlitt

“I see no reason to suppose that these machines will ever force themselves into general use.” — Duke of Wellington on Steam Locomotives, 1827

“The room smelt of not having been smoked in.” — R.A. Knox

“Never make a god of your religion.” — Sir Arthur Helps

Treachery is the very essence of snobbery.

Alive, in the sense that he can’t legally be buried.

To forget your own good sayings is the mark of intellectual aristocracy.

Conservative ideal of freedom and progress: everyone to have an unfettered opportunity of remaining exactly where they are.

“Perhaps the most lasting pleasure in life is the pleasure of not going to church.” — Dean Inge

Wit and Sense

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There is an association in men’s minds between dullness and wisdom, amusement and folly, which has a very powerful influence in decision upon character, and is not overcome without considerable difficulty. The reason is that the outward signs of a dull man and a wise man are the same, and so are the outward signs of a frivolous man and a witty man; and we are not to expect that the majority will be disposed to look to much more than the outward sign. I believe the fact to be that wit is very seldom the only eminent quality in the mind of any man; it is commonly accompanied by many other talents of every description, and ought to be considered as a strong evidence of a fertile and superior understanding.

— Sydney Smith, quoted in The Ladies’ Repository, September 1858

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In order that life should be a story or romance to us, it is necessary that a great part of it, at any rate, should be settled for us without our permission. … A man has control over many things in his life; he has control over enough things to be the hero of a novel. But if he had control over everything, there would be so much hero that there would be no novel.

— G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1906