I enjoy having my own list of quotations for two reasons:

  1. I hate not remembering my favorites.

  2. Favorite quotes serve to define a person rather quickly, which helps others who resonate at the same frequencies realize that we share perspectives.

And here is my current list.

To find out who rules over you, simply determine who you’re not allowed to criticize. ~ Voltaire

When process is lost, there is good practice. When good practice is lost, there are rules. When rules are lost, there is ritual. Ritual is the beginning of chaos.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire

Ignore fact and reason, live entirely in the world of your own fantastic and myth-producing passions; do this whole-heartedly and with conviction, and you will become one of the prophets of your age. ~ Bertrand Russell

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out he hates the same people you do. ~ Anne Lamott

This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition…is…the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. ~ Adam Smith

I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of his children for their numerous stupidities, for which he himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only his non-existence could excuse him. ~ Albert Einstein

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. ~ Hanlon’s Razor

The less confident you are, the more serious you have to act. ~ Tara Ploughman

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. ~ Brandeis

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about. ~ Einstein

We’re even wrong about which mistakes we’re making. ~ Carl Winfield

Never offer what you’d hate someone for accepting. ~ Tara Ploughman

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. ~ Mark Twain

Focusing is about saying no. ~ Steve Jobs

Jews, Muslims, and Christians claim that their holy books are so profound, and so prescient of humanity’s needs, that they could only have been written at the direction of an omniscient diety. An atheist is simply someone who has considered the claim, read the books, and found the claim to be ridiculous. ~ Sam Harris

Set aside half an hour every day to do all your worrying; then take a nap during this period. ~ Anonymous

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. — Robert Frost

Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you’re a consultant. ~ Scott Adams

Hire curious people. Even if they don’t have the exact skill set you want, curious, passionate people can learn anything. ~ Jason Fried

To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin. — Cardinal Robert Bellarmine

Writing is a little like crawling from a car crash to be greeted by a panel of strangers holding up score cards. ~ Keith Ridgway

If a nation expects to be ignorant — and free — in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. ~ Thomas Jefferson

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair. ~ Douglas Adams

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. – Helen Keller

If I look over my life, every single step of maturing for me, every single one, has had the exact same common denominator: accepting what was true over what I wished were true. ~ Julia Sweeney

If you watch ‘Jaws’ backwards, it’s a movie about a shark that keeps throwing up people until they have to open a beach.

You don’t truly understand something until you think it’s obvious.

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. ~ Arthur Miller

The unexamined life is not worth living. ~ Socrates

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

I’d drag my dick through broken glass for a mile just to hear that woman fart over a walkie-talkie. ~ Irish Saying

Be yourself, because the people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

As all these results were obtained, not by any heroic method, but by patient and detailed reasoning, I began to think it probable that philosophy had erred in adopting heroic remedies for intellectual difficulties, and that solutions were to be found merely by greater care and accuracy. This view I have come to hold more and more strongly as time went on, and it has led me to doubt whether philosophy, as a study distinct from science and possessed of a method of its own, is anything more than an unfortunate legacy from theology. ~ Bertrand Russell

The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous. ~ Gibbon

Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fantasies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them. ~ Hypatia of Alexandria

Change breaks the brittle. ~ Jan Houtema

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about. ~ Albert Einstein

We’re even wrong about which mistakes we’re making. ~ Carl Winfield

A danger sign that fellow-obsessionals will at once recognize is the tendency to regard the happiest moments of your life as those that occur when someone who has an appointment to see you is prevented from coming. ~ Peter Medawar

However little television you watch, watch less. ~ David McCullough

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. ~ Stephen King

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger. ~ Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

As it turned out, the obvious clearly stated, and combined with new observations, was sometimes close to revolutionary. ~ Wallace Stegner

The best thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

Focusing is about saying no. ~ Steve Jobs

Republicans are the leading cause of underage drinking. ~ Marianne Terrot

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. ~ Edsger Dijkstra

I don’t like your I-can-use-anything-as-an-adjective attitude. ~ Larry Wall

It is easy to keep secrets by being honest in an ironic tone of voice. ~ Andrew Solomon

Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again. ~ Mike Meyers

I’m not okay and you’re not okay, but that’s okay.

If Bush was president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we would all be dead.

Talk doesn’t cook rice.

ONCE I LIVED IN CAPITALS, MY LIFE INTENSELY PHALLIC, but now I’m sadly lowercase, with the occasional italic. ~ Roger McCough

In a way, the most morally troubling thing about killing chickens is that after a while it is no longer morally troubling. ~ Michael Pollan

In the information age, it’s not just whose army wins, but whose story wins. ~ Joseph S. Nye Jr.

One farmer says to me, ‘You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with;’ and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle. ~ Henry David Thoreau

When I type the word “queue”, I just start alternating u’s and e’s for a little while and hope something good happens. ~ DRM

It’s just endless what you can learn from a single work of art. You can fill up the crevices of your life, the cracks of your life, the places where the mortar comes out and falls away–you can fill it up with the love of art. ~ Vincent Price

If economists wished to study the horse, they wouldn’t go and look at horses. They’d sit in their studies and say to themselves, “What would I do if I were a horse?” ~ Ely Devons

The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine. ~ JBS Haldane

As I was going up the stair I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish, he’d go away. ~ Hughes Mearns

Abstinence makes the church grow fondlers.

If only one person in the world held down a terrified, struggling, screaming little girl, cut off her genitals with a septic blade, and sewed her back up, leaving only a tiny hole for urine and menstrual flow, the only question would be how severely that person should be punished, and whether the death penalty would be a sufficiently severe sanction. But when millions of people do this, instead of the enormity being magnified millions-fold, suddenly it becomes ‘culture’, and thereby magically becomes less, rather than more, horrible, and is even defended by some Western ‘moral thinkers’, including feminists. ~ Donald Symons

Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.

A fault tolerant system must report the faults even as it tolerates them.

An algorithm must be seen to be believed. ~ Donald Knuth

If I look over my life, every single step of maturing for me, every single one, has had the exact same common denominator, and that was accepting what was true over what I wished were true. — Julia Sweeney

What I cannot create, I do not understand. ~ Richard Feynman

He who is unaware of his ignorance will be only misled by his knowledge. ~ Richard Whatley

When white men first effect contact with some unspoilt race of savages, they offer them all kinds of benefits, from the light of the gospel to pumpkin pie. These, however, much as we may regret it, most savages receive with indifference. What they really value among the gifts that we bring to them is intoxicating liquor which enables them, for the first time in their lives, to have the illusion for a few brief moments that it is better to be alive than dead. ~ Bertrand Russell


I have collected these quotes over time from dozens of sources, but there are a few worth noting.

  1. Aaron Swartz

  2. Paul Graham

  3. Alan Silverstein

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