These are sad days in literature. Homer is dead. Shakespeare is dead. And I myself am not feeling at all well
– Mark Twain

Most secrets about how the world works aren’t secrets, they’re just knowledge unevenly distributed
Patrick McKenzie

Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect
– Teller

Any man will go considerably out of his way to pick up a silver dollar, but here are golden words which the wisest men of antiquity have uttered, and whose worth the wise of every succeeding age have assured us of.
– Henry David Thoreau

You get paid for the seven and a half hours a day you put in but you get your raises and promotions on what you do in the other sixteen and a half hours 
– The Idea factory (Bell labs)

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination

You cannot tell me that some hells were conceived only to terrify the faithful: they were also conceived to give us a hell of a kick.
Umberto Eco

In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jove strikes the titans down, not when they set about their mountain-piling but when another rock would crown their work
Robert Browning

When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together. The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that “right” and “wrong” are absolute; that everything that isn’t perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong. However, I don’t think that’s so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts.
Isaac Asimov

Though he took no cities, he captivated all hearts 
John Tyndall on Faraday

If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?
T.S. Eliot

Years ago, Lindbergh flew alone across the Atlantic – a stunt pilot contesting for a money prize – but he was the first man to fly it alone. That flight gave us a great lift, he gave the whole world in fact a boost in morale when it was badly needed.
– Vannevar Bush

The best way to predict the future is to invent it
Alan Kay

When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.

It is impractical, and it goes against human nature. This is why it is worth carrying out.
Oscar Wilde on democracy

Why, sir, there is every probability that you will soon be able to tax it.
Faraday reportedly responded to Chancellor of Exchequer Gladstone when asked about the practical value of electricity

Some people collect stamps. I collect insanities and absurdities. And then I avoid them, and it’s amazing how well it works, because I’ve gone by [the examples of] all these people that are more talented than I am.
Charlie Munger

It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong 

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd

The Apollo moon landings were communism’s greatest achievement
NASA veteran mentioned by Neal Stephenson

It’s not bringing in the new ideas that’s so hard. it’s getting rid of old ones

The mind of man at one and the same time is both the glory and the shame of the universe

To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.
P.G. Wodehouse

A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam.
Frederik Pohl

Teachers should prepare the student for the student’s future, not for the teacher’s past
Richard Hamming

You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone
Marcus Aurelius

  • ‘what was actually wrong with him?’ ‘The doctors couldn’t decide. Well, they could, but they all decided differently.’
  • apart form the speculations aroused in each of them by this death, concerning the transfers and possible changes that this death might bring about, the very fact of the death of someone close to them aroused in all who heard about it, as always, a feeling of delight that he had died and that they hadn’t
  • he could see that the awful, terrible act of his dying had been reduced by those around him to the level of an unpleasant incident, something rather indecent (as if they were dealing with someone who had come into the drawing room and let off a bad smell), and this was done by exploiting the very sense of ‘decency’ the he had been observing all his life. He could see that no one had any pity for him because no one had the slightest desire to understand his situation. Gerasim was the only one who did understand his situation, and he was sorry for him. 
  • there were some moments, after long periods of suffering, when what Ivan Ilyich wanted more than anything else – however embarrassed he would have been to admit it – what he wanted was for someone to take pity on him as if he were a sick child 
  • he was not expecting any answers; he was weeping because there were not and could not be any answers 
  • in societies opinion I was heading uphill, but in equal measure life was slipping away from me

    – Leo Tolstoy (the death of Ivan Illich)
  • He is a great man who uses earthenware dishes as if they were silver; but he is equally great who uses silver as if it were earthenware.
  • Some lack the fickleness to live as they wish and just live as they have begun
  • We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application–not far far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech–and learn them so well that words become works

    – Seneca

It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized the priceless value of never having to question the intentions of someone I love.
– @austxsun

Before I press “send” on an email, I try to add a line or two to brighten the recipient’s day.
– Bryan Caplan

If you want to build a ship,
don’t drum up the people
to gather wood, divide the
work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
– the little prince

  • we have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another
  • Reflect on things past as wars, negotiations, factions, etc. We enter so little into those interests, that we wonder how men could possibly be so busy and concerned for things so transitory; look on the present times, we find the same humour, yet wonder not at all
  • men who posses all the advantages of life, are in a state where there are many accidents to disorder and discompose, but few to please them.
  • I have known some men possessed of good qualities, which were very serviceable to others, but useless to themselves; like a sun-dial on the front of a house, to inform the neighbours and passengers, but not the owner within
  • The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires, is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes
  • censure is the tax man pays to the public for being eminent
  • to be vain is rather a mark of humility than pride. Vain men delight in telling what honours have been done them, what great compnay they have kept, and the like, by which they plainly confess that these honours were more than their due.
  • small causes are sufficient to make a man uneasy when great ones are not in the way. For want of a block he will stumble at a straw
  • every man desires to live long; but no man would be old
  • although men are accused for not knowing their weakness, yet perhaps as few know their own strength
  • A man seeing a wasp creeping into a vial filled with honey, that was hung on a fruit tree, said thus: “Why, thou sottish animal, art thou mad to go into that vial, where you see many hundred of your kind there dying in it before you?” “The reproach is just,” answered the wasp, “but not from you men, who are so far from taking example by other people’s follies, that you will not take warning by your own. If after falling several times into this vial, and escaping by chance, I should fall in again, I should then but resemble you.
  • If the men of wit and genius would resolve never to complain in their works of critics and detractors, the next age would not know that they ever had any.

    – Jonathan Swift, The Battle of the Books

you need to be stuck more. Be stuck on your top top problems, don’t just be productive on your next 98.
John Collison

We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders
G. K. Chesterton (saw quote in message about the passing of John Conway)

  • what demarcates aesthetic interest from other sorts is that it involves the appreciation of something for its own sake
  • put usefulness first and you lose it, put beauty first and what you do will be useful forever 
  • aesthetics is appreciating something for its own sake

    – Roger Scruton

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which has has not but rejoices for those which he has. wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants 

There are eleven tales in this volume and each is the best
– Observer review of Very Good, Jeeves! by P.G.Wodehouse

The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken
Samual Johnson

  • Consider education not as the painful accumulation of facts and dates and reigns, nor merely the necessary preparation of the individual to earn his keep in the world, but as the transmission of our mental, moral, technical, and aesthetic heritage as fully as possible to as many as possible, for the enlargement of man’s understanding, control, embellishment, and enjoyment of life.
  • It is not the race that makes civilisation but civilisation that makes the people.
  • History is inflationary and money is the last thing a wise man will hoard
  • The first condition of freedom is its limitation, make it absolute and it dies in chaos
  • The rights of man are not rights of office and power, but the rights of entry into every avenue that may nourish and test a mans’s fitness for office and power
  • If progress is real it is not because we are born healthier or wiser but because we are born into a richer heritage and with a greater accumulation of knowledge with which to draw from

    Will and Ariel Durant

Terminological inexactitude
Winston Churchill’s humorous name for a lie

Never do an enemy a small injury

Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth

The present is the fruit of the past and the seed of the future.
Admiral Rickover

Venture is often called a rounding error in the economy,”
 Herbert Allen III

Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise
Thomas Gray Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires

If you once tell a lie, the truth is ever after your enemy

If atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby
Eliezer Yudkowsky

Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.
Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.
Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.
John Roberts

We never see the true state of our condition, till it is illustrated to us by its contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it

Beware the folly of beginning a work before you count the cost; and before you judge rightly of your own strength to go through with it
Robinson Crusoe

  • I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship 
  • He who learns must suffer and even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God 
  • The reward of suffering is experience 
  • It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish 
  • It’s not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath”
  • If any one bear evil, let it be without disgrace, sole profit to the dead; On base and evil deeds no glory waits


All models are wrong but some are useful
Norman draper

At time of change, the learners are the ones who will inherit the world, while the knowers will be beautifully prepared for a world which no longer exists
– Alistair smith

Civilisation advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.
Alfred Whitehead

The mossy marbles rest 
On the lips that he has prest 
In their bloom, 
And the names he loved to hear 
Have been carved for many a year 
On the tomb.

The Last Leaf Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave.

William Knox (Mortality)

But to the hero, when his sword,
Has won the battle for the free,
Thy voice sounds like a prophet’s word,
And in its hollow tones are heard
The thanks of millions yet to be

For thou art Freedom’s now, and Fame’s,
One of the few, th’ immortal names
That were not born to die.

Marco Bozzaris, Fitz-Greene Halleck

Faced with the choice of changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof
Reality and truth lie not with what was believed in the past but with what is compelled by the present
The strategic advantage lies with what exists but tactical advantage lies with what is accepted
J K Galbraith

The past was alterable. The past never had been altered.
George Orwell 1984

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous
Orwell’s 6th rule for writing

I want to know what motivates people. I want to know why and how people chose their career, their spouse, and their hobbies. I want to know their fears, prejudices, and anxieties. I want to know their expectations, what they consider “fair,” and how they arrived at them
Brent Beshore

Not Wanting Something Is as Good as Having It

I have almost never made money investing in founders who do not respond quickly to important emails
sam altman

The King is dead, long live the King
– Proclamation following accession of a new monarch

Reagan’s favourite joke was that you can stand in New York and shout ‘Reagan is an idiot’ and won’t get arrested and in Russia it’s just the same – you can stand in Red Square and shout ‘Reagan is an idiot’ and you won’t get arrested
– Benedict Evans on Twitter

Their efforts were like painting over a mosaic, when the rain comes it will wash all away to reveal what is underneath again
– I wish I could remember