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quotes

proverbs

It is all the same whether one has good ideas oneself or is prepared to listen to someone else who is offering good advice.

- Artabanus

Ideas come to us out of order.

- Simon Flexner

One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.

- Sophocles

To teach is to learn twice.

- Joseph Joubert

The path is made in the walking of it.

- Zhuangzi

The harder you work, the luckier you get.

- Gary Player

One must always be doing something to realize truth.

- Wang Yangming

The squeaking wheel gets the grease.

- Ladybird Johnson

The one who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

- Confucius

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

- Bob Dylan

It’s a lovely day for the race. The human race.

- Samuel Samuel

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

- Harry Truman

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

- Ben Franklin

Human life is an anvil on which souls are formed by the blows of fate.

- Dostoevsky

language

That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted.

- George Boole

Language is the filter through which the soul of a people reaches into the material world.

- Wade Davis

Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all.

- Winston Churchill

In speaking, one should avoid scurrility, affectations, and cant. What people really want to hear is truth - it is the exciting thing - speak the simple truth.

- Bourke Cockran

It is slothful not to compress your thoughts.

- Winston Churchill

You who read me, are you sure of understanding my language?

- Jorge Luis Borges

Eloquence is like a flame: it requires fuel to feed it, motion to excite it, and it brightens as it burns.

- William Pitt the Younger

Burke mastered the English language as a man masters the horse.

- Bourke Cockran

future

History is fate.

- David Halberstam

All efforts against the prevailing trend of history - which is not always obvious - are doomed to failure.

- Fernand Braudel

The longer you look back, the farther you can look forward.

- Winston Churchill

Wisdom lies not in regretting the inevitable but in adapting oneself to the altered condition of things.

- Saddlery and Harness magazine, 1895

The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.

- William Gibson

A lag stretches between the happenings of a historical process and it’s recognition.

- Barbara Tuchman

In every great turning point in history, the preconditions and causes reach far back into the past.

- Jonathan Israel

It is not given to human beings - happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable - to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.

- Winston Churchill

The eye seldom sees what the mind does not anticipate.

- Robertson Davies

What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens.

- Benjamin Disraeli

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

- Mike Tyson

Knowing the right questions may be more important than thinking you know the answers.

- Morris Ernst

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

- Mark Twain

All wars are fought twice. The first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.

- Viet Thanh Nguyen

It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through.

- Theodore White

Everyday we get a front seat to history.

- John H. White

Journalism is the first rough draft of history.

- Philip Graham

Dissent is the way the voice of prophecy is first heard.

- Irving Dilliard

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

- Alan Kay

Dreams are maps.

- Carl Sagan

Past years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable at a distance. The cloud clears as you enter it.

- Beryl Markham

Grief for something lost and fear of losing it amount to the same thing.

- Seneca

Happy are the people whose annals are blank in history books.

- Montesquieu

Happiness leaves little trace in history.

- Fernand Braudel

As we see them change, so we see how we became who we are.

- E. P. Thompson

You cannot step in the same river twice.

- Greek proverb

En toute chose il faut considérer la fin.

- Jean de La Fontaine

When the sun stands at midday, it begins to set. When the moon is full, it begins to wane. The fullness and emptiness of heaven and earth wane and wax in the course of time. How much truer is this of men, or of spirits and gods!

- Confucian commentary on the Book of Changes

Such as thou art, so once was I. As I am now, so shalt thou be.

- Edward the Black Prince

places

The world has too much beauty and adventure for one person to see.

- Elliot Dallen

No horizon is so far that we cannot get above it and beyond it.

- Beryl Markham

It is a great error to suppose that people are rendered stupid by remaining always in the same place.

- William Cobbett

Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization. Wilderness was never a homogeneous raw material. It was very diverse, and the resulting artifacts are very diverse. These differences in the end-product are known as cultures. The rich diversity of the world’s cultures reflect a corresponding diversity in the wilds that gave them birth.

- Aldo Leopold

These regions, which yet form only an immense wilderness, will become one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world. Nothing is missing except civilized man, and he is at the door.

- Alexis de Tocqueville

America is a religion in itself.

- Michael Novak

I think that in no country in the civilized world is less attention paid to philosophy than in the United States.

- Alexis De Tocqueville

The United States is a nation of compromises.

- Shelby Foote

The government of the United States is a government of laws, and not of men.

- John Adams

The United States has a long history of failing to preserve civil liberties when it perceived its national security threatened. The country has remorsefully realized the abrogation of civil liberties was unnecessary. But it has proven unable to prevent itself from repeating the error when the next crisis came along.

- William Brennan

Families are always rising and falling in America.

- Nathaniel Hawthorne

I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world.

- General Billy Mitchell

The Grid of New York is the most courageous act of prediction in Western civilization: the land it divides, unoccupied, the population it describes, conjectural; the buildings it locates, phantoms….

- Rem Koolhaas

One cannot dip a toe into the water of New York politics without sensing, moving somewhere deep beneath the surface, the presence of an enormous force, a power unseen but immense: the power of banks.

- Robert Caro

At what moment, exactly, did the city of Chicago cease to be part of nature? Even to ask the question suggests it’s absurdity.

- William Cronon

A great city, whose image dwells in the memory of man, is the type of some great idea.

- Benjamin Disraeli

The city is a granite garden, composed of many smaller gardens, set in a garden world.

- Anne Spirn

In cities - where people’s lives are denser, endlessly intertwined, hopelessly snarled tangles of aspirations and antagonisms - hopes and fears and dreams and dreads follow the same.

- Robert Caro

Stadtluft macht frei.

- Medieval German saying

The same logic that causes big rivers always to flow past big cities causes cheap farms sometimes to be marooned by spring floods.

- Aldo Leopold

The steepest places have been at all times the asylum of liberty.

- Baron de Tott

Italy is cultivated right up to the mountain tops.

- Guicciardini

In Columbia there are no train schedules, only rumors.

- Wade Davis

With time, England will be only London.

- King James 1st

Amsterdam is the inventory of the possible.

- Descartes

Russians possess the genius of all the peoples and also have our own; thus we can understand you and you cannot understand us.

- Dostoevsky

India lives in its villages.

- Gandhi

Hindu thought takes a longer route on its way to reach a conclusion and so gathers more richness along the way.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

The Namche Barwa will one day fall into the Tsangpo gorge and block the river, which will then turn aside and flow over the Doshong La.

- Kongbo Tibetan Prophecy

With God’s help, we will lift Shanghai up and up, ever up until it is just like Kansas City.

- Senator Kenneth Wherry's Prophecy

Stilwell knew too much about China for his own good.

- General Paul Freeman

So often in international affairs, hawkish paranoia can create the monster that is most feared.

- William Dalrymple

All the power of the United States will not stem the tides of Asia, but all the wisdom of which we are capable might conceivably make those tides a little more friendly to us than they are now.

- John Melby

science

When I say a thing is true I mean I can’t help believing it - and nothing more.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.

- JBS Haldane

The imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man.

- Richard Feynman

We should look for what is, and not for what we think should be.

- Albert Einstein

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

- Sherlock Holmes

Everyone wants to know, but no one wants to pay the price.

- Juvenal

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.

- Niels Bohr

All of physics is either impossible or trivial. It is impossible until you understand it, and then it becomes trivial.

- Ernest Rutherford

Physics is simple only when analyzed locally.

- Charles Misner

It is only slightly overstating the case to say that physics is the study of symmetry.

- PW Anderson

It is though Nature herself is guided by the same kind of criteria of consistency and elegance as those that guide human mathematical thought.

- Roger Penrose

Euclidean geometry is not simply mathematics, it is a (fantastically accurate) physical theory of space.

- Tristan Needham

No matter how determinedly mathematicians ignore the world, they consistently produce the best tools for understanding it.

- John Tierney

Combinatorics is the art of counting without counting.

- Frank Ramsey

In a way, mathematics is the only infinite human activity. It is conceivable that humanity could eventually learn everything in physics or biology. But humanity certainly won’t ever be able to find out everything in mathematics, because the subject is infinite. That’s why mathematics is really my only interest.

- Paul Erdös

There is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.

- G. H. Hardy

If anything is certain, it would be mathematics.

- Paul Erdös

How willingly would I have exchanged a full-scale invasion for this shapeless, measureless peril, expressed in charts, curves, and statistics.

- Winston Churchill

The best of science doesn’t consist of mathematical models and experiments, as textbooks make it seem. Those come later. It springs fresh from a more primitive mode of thought, wherein the hunter’s mind weaves ideas from old facts and fresh metaphors and the scrambled crazy images of things recently seen.

- Edward Wilson

Change is the key. One can wear out a particular part of mind by continually using it and tiring it. The tired parts of the mind can be rested and strengthened not merely by rest, but by using other parts.

- Winston Churchill

Given enough time, hydrogen starts to wonder where it came from.

- Edward Robert Harrison

Evolution is phenomenon of populations.

- Edward Wilson

The environment is the theatre and evolution is the play.

- G. Evelyn Hutchinson

The better an ecosystem is known, the less likely it will be destroyed.

- Edward Wilson

The tropical rain forest, though home to tens of thousands of species, is in a sense a counterfeit paradise, a castle of immense biological sophistication built quite literally on a foundation of sand.

- Wade Davis

Every drop of rain on the solid aggregate of minerals is a hammer blow.

- Jack Davis

Eating is an agricultural act.

- Wendell Berry

The great advantage of being a reasonable creature, is that you can find a reason for whatever you want to do.

- Benjamin Franklin

From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.

- Dumbledore

technology

In a way everything is technology. Not only the rapid changes we are quick to label revolutions, but also the long slow improvements in processes and tools.

- Fernand Braudel

Journalists do a better job of covering revolution than evolution.

- James Reston

The fundamental rule of technological progress: if something can be done, it probably will be done, and possibly already has been.

- Edward Snowden

The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone.

- Sheikh Zaki Yamani

Napoleon moved no faster than Julius Caesar.

- Paul Valéry

All the vibrations of economic life can be grasped through the special case of the metallurgical industry: it sums up everything and paved the way for all that follows.

- Stefan Kurowski

When iron succeeded in becoming the most important production material, it was the event of events in the evolution of humanities.

- Lewis Morgan

Coal stands not beside but entirely above all other commodities. With coal almost any feat is possible or easy; without it we are thrown back to the laborious poverty of early times.

- W. S. Jevons

If there should be a WW3, it would have to be fought with someone else’s petroleum, because the United States won’t have it.

- Harold Ickes

Our most critical vulnerability is the electrical supply, upon which all other layers of modern society’s technological infrastructure depend.

- Andy Greenberg

The ERCOT grid has collapsed in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union. It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.

- Ed Hirs

Flight is but a temporary escape from the eternal custody of the Earth.

- Beryl Markham

A new device merely opens the door, it does not compel anyone to enter.

- Lynn White

We must catch up morally and internationally with the machine age. We must catch up with it… in such a way as to create peace in the world, or it will destroy us and everyone else. And that we don’t dare contemplate.

- Harry Truman

Where labor is dear, it must be supplemented by machines; this is the only way to compete with those countries where it is cheap.

- Marc Bloch

Our country used to build shit.

- Frank Sabadka

The internet has been the most fundamental change during my lifetime, and for hundreds of years.

- Rupert Murdoch

Of all the watchdogs, the FCC seems the most eager to sit up and beg or roll over and play dead at the command of Congress.

- Drew Pearson

Software often grows to use the hardware you give it.

- Drew Devault

A feature isn’t real until it’s been exploited.

- Joe Uhl

What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years.

- Chris Dixon

design

Focusing is about saying no.

- Steve Jobs

Simplicity is the outcome of technical subtlety; it is the goal, not starting point.

- Frederick W. Maitland

A written constitution is better than an unwritten one.

- Teddy Roosevelt

Organizations which design systems are restricted to producing designs which are copies of their own communication structures.

- Melvin Conway

Premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming.

- Donald Knuth

If one plan won’t do, another must.

- John Roebling

Projects of magnitude demand the smooth turning of many wheels. Wheels with wheels, a number of which are often carefully, cleverly concealed.

- David McCullough

Every system has within it the seeds of its own destruction.

- Daniel Yergin

The minute you establish an organization, it starts to decay.

- Tony Peskett

Control intelligence, and you control decision making.

- David Halberstam

It may be time to no longer invest further in lengthening time between failures, but instead on shortening meantime to repair.

- Dan Geer

business

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

- Ecclesiastes

If we have any greatness in us, it comes to light, not in one flamboyant hour, but in the ledger of daily work.

- Beryl Markham

The thing to fight hard against is the carelessness that comes from familiarity with the job.

- Washington Roebling

Your margin is my opportunity.

- Jeff Bezos

Leadership in a world economy is an experience of power which may one day blind the victor to the march of history.

- Fernand Braudel

All your friends are false, all your enemies are real.

- A Mexican proverb.

Only when the tide goes out you find out who has been swimming naked.

- Warren Buffet

Nothing lasts forever. The most unforeseen circumstances will swamp you and baffle the wisest calculations. Only vitality and plenty of it helps you.

- Washington Roebling

Inaction and inactivity are as decisive as action itself.

- Richard Holbrooke

He who’s not busy being born is busy dying.

- Bob Dylan

Innovate or die.

- Roone Arledge

No one was ever great by imitation.

- Samuel Johnson

Only a fool learns from their own mistakes. The wise learn from the mistakes of others.

- Otto van Bismark

We will not make the same old mistakes. We will make our own.

- Henry Kissinger

The world still has its glittering prizes for those with stout hearts and sharp swords.

- F. E. Smith

Money, said the Seven Sages of Greece, is the blood and soul of men and he who has none wanders dead among the living.

- Scipion de Gramont

Val più avere amici in piazza che denari nella cassa.

- Italian proverb

A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.

- Henry Flagler

An estate is a pond, a trade is a spring.

- Daniel Defoe

Keep your head above water and bet on the growth of your country.

- Henry Flagler

A rising tide lifts all boats.

- John F. Kennedy

The fattest fish are caught in the biggest lakes.

- Cortrugli

The man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year he will hire others to labor for him.

- Abraham Lincoln

It is not the business of the public to alter private contracts.

- John D. Rockefeller

Guilty and mad will be the hour when Congress can find no better way to conduct the finances of the nation than to print an unlimited issue of irredeemable promises to pay.

- Roscoe Conkling

Markets can influence events they can anticipate.

- George Soros

The fraud cycle follows the business cycle.

- Jim Chanos

Don’t try to market your way out of a math problem.

- Jack Welch

society

There is such an intimate connection between the different parts of Society, that one cannot strike one part without its having repercussions on the others.

- Jean François Melon

It is precisely when a social order begins to fall apart that one can discern what has held it together in the first place.

- Karl Mannheim

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

- Thomas Paine

History may measure the worth of a nation not by the lilt of its slogans or the might of its arsenals or its troyweights of gold, but by how evenhandedly it has dealt with all its citizens and how consistently it has denied dignity to none.

- Richard Kluger

The laws are spider webs, they catch the little, but are brushed aside by the big.

- Saying in the Spanish Indies

In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.

- Karl Popper

The freedom of a country can only be measured by its respect for the rights of its citizens.

- Edward Snowden

Wherever purity is paramount, terror is close at hand.

- Lawrence Wright

Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.

- John Marshall Harlan

Class is defined by men as they live their own history.

- E.P. Thompson

A constitution is a partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born.

- Edmund Burke

Better 60 years of tyranny than 1 day of anarchy.

- An Arab proverb.

The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

A law is a prediction of what the courts will do.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Lawyers are on all sides of all questions.

- Richard Kluger

A lawyer is simply a highly skilled technician who does not build or erect or paint anything. He does not create. All he does is lubricate the wheels of society by implementing the rules of conduct by which the organized life of men must be carried on.

- John W. Davis

There will always be an inner circle of corporate executives, politicians, lawyers, and judges to control the others and obtain the real rewards.

- Theodore Roosevelt

Institutions are the shadows of men.

- Emerson

The magnet which attracts corrupters and the natural locus of corruption is always where the discretionary power resides.

- Edward Costikyan

The hand you dare not bite, kiss it.

- Calouste Gulbenkian

In the real world, everyone has something to lose.

- Thomas Friedman

There are no second acts in American lives.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald

There’s always a best hotel in every town. And the best room of the best hotel always has someone in it.

- J. Paul Getty

If this is not democracy, then it is difficult to imagine what is.

- Robert Moses

Understanding political power in a democracy requires understanding elections.

- Robert Caro

Government is itself an art, one of the subtlest arts.

- Felix Frankfurter

Vom Staat soll an erster Stelle die Rede sein.

- A principal shared among German historians.

Symbolism becomes considerably more important in foreign policy issues than in bread and butter domestic issues where the voter can measure promises and rhetoric against performance and reliability.

- Richard Holbrooke

In government, foolish certainty usually beats fragile wisdom.

- George Packer

Government by precedent, without regard of the principals behind precedent, is one of the vilest systems that can be setup.

- Thomas Paine

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the later.

- Thomas Jefferson

The daily newspaper is the prayer of the modern man.

- Hegel

In a crisis the middle class mind tries to assume a lofty detachment from the deep issues of the day.

- Max Lerner

Sensible men are all of the same religion, but they’d never tell.

- Benjamin Disraeli

What a convenient thing is a mask. Under the mask every man is equal and the principal magistrates can daily discover for themselves all the little things that concern the people. Behind the mask the doge himself may often be taking a walk.

- Goldoni

The lord prefers common looking people, that is why he made so many of them.

- Abraham Lincoln

The Reformation spoke the language of nationalism.

- Namier

It is collective self-consciousness which distinguishes the 19th century working class from the 18th century mob.

- E. P. Thompson

A sort of Socratic spirit will necessarily grow up, wherever large bodies of men assemble.

- John Thelwall

The mass is always the magnified reflection of some individual.

- Harry Reichenbach

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

- Leo Tolstoy

We are all marked to some extent by the stamp of our generation.

- Anthony Eden

Behind every great civilization is a vision.

- Christopher Dawson

Mankind progresses from East to West.

- Henry David Thoreau

The world is moving to the left.

- Lyndon B. Johnson

The Earth is a generous mother. She will provide in plentiful abundance food for all her children, if they will but cultivate her soil in justice and peace.

- Bourke Cockran