MORELLA: Greatness is never appreciated in youth, called pride in middle age, dismissed in old age, and reconsidered in death. Because we cannot tolerate greatness in our midst we do all we can to destroy it.

J Michael Straczynski
J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×09 “Point of No Return” (26 Feb 1996)
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Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

97n/24/huty/7252/10
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“Gunga Din,” st. 5 (1892)
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We must be skeptical even of our skepticism.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Sceptical Essays, ch. 11 (1928)
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No one shows himself as he is, but wears his mask and plays his part. Indeed, the whole of our social arrangements may be likened to a perpetual comedy; and this is why a man who is worth anything finds society so insipid, while a blockhead is quite at home in it.

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Studies in Pessimism (1851)
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Men know that women are an over-match for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.

Samuel_Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment

In James Boswell, Tour to the Hebrides (1785).
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Being honest may not get you many friends, but it’ll always get you the right ones.

John Lennon
John Lennon (1940-1980) English rock musician, singer, songwriter
(Attributed)

Frequently attributed to Lennon, but with no actual source ever provided.
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ABSURDITY, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.

Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
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The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die.

Martin-Luther-King-Jr
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman and reformer
(Attributed)
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Value truth, however you come by it. Who would not pick up a jewel that lay on a dunghill?

James Burgh
James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
    (Source)
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“What,” asked Mr. Croup, “do you want?”
“What,” asked the marquis de Carabas, a little more rhetorically, “does anyone want?”
“Dead things,” suggested Mr. Vandemar. “Extra teeth.”

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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BEATRICE: He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 30 (1598-99)
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Honest statesmanship is the wise employment of individual meannesses for the public good.

Abraham_Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Attributed in John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History, vol. 10, ch. 18 "Lincoln's Fame" (1886).
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Sincerity is the foundation of the spiritual life.

Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) Alsatian theologian, philosopher, physician, philanthropist
Out of My Life and Thought, ch. 21 [tr. Campion (1933)]
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One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

Francis I
Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 55 (24 Nov 2013)
    (Source)
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Security is not a license for people in authority to hide tactics they would never openly admit to using.

John G Hemry
John G. Hemry (contemp.) American naval officer, author [pseud. Jack Campbell]
The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Invincible (2012)
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What goals would you be setting for yourself if you knew you could not fail?

Robert Schuller
Robert H. Schuller (b. 1926) American televangelist, pastor, motivational speaker, author
You Can Become the Person You Want To Be, ch. 2 (1973)

Earliest version of this aphorism. Often attributed (without citation) to Eleanor Roosevelt. See here for more information. Variants:
  • "What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?"
  • "If you knew you cold not fail, what would you try?"
  • "What great things would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?"
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It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity.

Dag Hammarskjold
Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) Swedish diploamat, author, UN Secretary-General (1953-61)
Speech, 180th Anniversary of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Williamsburg (15 May 1956)
    (Source)
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The most original modern authors are not so because they advance what is new, but simply because they know how to put what they have to say, as if it had never been said before.

Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
“The Poet’s Year,” A Criticism of the Poems of J. H. Voss [tr. Austin]
    (Source)
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“Holy shit,” I breathed. “Hellhounds.”
“Harry,” Michael said sternly. “You know I hate it when you swear.”
“You’re right. Sorry. Holy shit,” I breathed, “heckhounds.”

jim_butcher
Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Grave Peril (2001)
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It’s been my experience that when an office begins to look like a family tree, you’ll find worms tucked away snug and cheerful in most of the apples.

~generic
John "Old Gordon" Graham (fl. early 20th Cent.) American commodity and finance magnate.
Letter to Pierrepont Graham

In George Horace Lorimer, ed., Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son (1902)
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Of the seven dwarves only Dopey had a shaven face. This should tell us something about the custom of shaving.

Tom Robbins
Tom Robbins (b. 1936) American novelist
Skinny Legs and All (1990)
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A very desperate habit; one that is rarely cured. Apology is only egotism wrong side out. Nine times out of ten, the first thing a man’s companion knows of his short-comings is from his apology.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1860)
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There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I don’t care how great, how famous, or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause.

George Matthew Adams
George Matthew Adams (1878-1962) American newspaper columnist, publisher
Syndicated Column (1932)
    (Source)
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That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe — a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

John Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
    (Source)
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Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
A Room of One’s Own, ch. 3 (1929)
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“Be yourself!” is the worst advice you can give to some people.

Tom Masson
Tom Masson (1866–1934) American anthropologist, editor, author, humorist [Thomas Lansing Masson]
(Attributed)
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Nothing gives one person so great advantage over another, as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) US President (1801-09)
Letter to Francis Wayles Eppes (21 May 1816)

Often updated as "Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances."
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Value of the Skeptic is the resistance to premature conclusions.

Ralph_Waldo_Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1845)
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Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favored and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good Morning!” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine — we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet in his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson
Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) American poet
“Richard Corey” (1897)
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Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in its passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion.

Samuel_Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 47 (28 Aug 1750)
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Investment must be rational. If you can’t understand it, don’t do it.

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett (b. 1930) American investor and financier
“About Investing: Only Buy Securities That You Understand,” Warren Buffett Speaks (1997)
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Be without fear. This is impossible, but let the small fears drive your rewriting and set aside the large ones until they behave — then use them, maybe even write them. Too much fear and all you’ll get is silence.

A L Kennedy
Alison Louise "A. L." Kennedy (b. 1965) Scottish writer and comedian
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
    (Source)
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I may be arrested, I may be tried and thrown into jail, but I never will be silent.

Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman (1869-1940) Lithuanian-American anarchist, activist
“Address to the Jury,” Mother Earth (Jul 1917)
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Never fish for praise; it is not worth the bait.

James Burgh
James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
    (Source)
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Then he smiled, like a cat who had just been entrusted with the keys to a home for wayward but plump canaries.

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
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An American Government cannot permit Americans to starve.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, San Diego Exposition (2 Oct 1935)
    (Source)
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Saints can be pure but statesmen must be responsible. As trustees for others, they must defend interests and compromise principles. In politics, practical and prudential judgment must have priority over moral verdicts.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) Historian, author, social critic
“The Necessary Amorality of Foreign Affairs,” Harper’s (Aug 1971)
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Bolsheviks are sincere. Fascists are sincere. Lunatics are sincere. People who believe the Earth is flat are sincere. They can’t all be right. Better make certain first you’ve got something to be sincere about, and with.

Tom Driberg
Tom Driberg (1905-1976) British journalist and politician
Daily Express (1937)
    (Source)
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Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics — a non-ideological ethics — would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.”

Francis I
Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 57 (24 Nov 2013)
    (Source)

Quoting St. John Chrysostom, De Lazaro Concio, II, 6
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“Fast and stupid is still stupid. It just gets to stupid a lot quicker than humans could on their own. Which, I admit, is an accomplishment,” she added, “because we’re pretty damn good at stupid.”

John G Hemry
John G. Hemry (contemp.) American naval officer, author [pseud. Jack Campbell]
The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Invincible (2012)

On computers.
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We seem to have forgotten that the expression “a liberal education” originally meant among the Romans one worthy of free men; while the learning of trades and professions by which to get your livelihood merely, was considered worthy of slaves only.

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
“The Last Days of John Brown” (1860)
    (Source)

Also known as "A Plea for Captain John Brown".
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Those who will not reason
Perish in the act:
Those who will not act
Perish for that reason.

W H Auden
W. H. Auden (1907-1973) American poet [Wystan Hugh Auden]
“Shorts” (1974)
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Those authors into whose hands nature has placed a magic wand, with which they no sooner touch us than we forget the unhappiness in life, than the darkness leaves our soul, and we are reconciled to existence, should be placed among the benefactors of the human race.

Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot (1713-1784) French editor, philosopher
(Attributed)

Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou, Treasury of Thought (1884 ed.).
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There’s more magic in a baby’s first giggle than in any firestorm a wizard can conjure up, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

jim_butcher
Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Fool Moon (2001)
Added on 15-Jul-14 | Last updated 15-Jul-14
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Always appoint an hour at which you’ll see a man, and if he’s late a minute don’t bother with him. A fellow who can be late when his own interests are at stake is pretty sure to be when yours are.

~generic
John "Old Gordon" Graham (fl. early 20th Cent.) American commodity and finance magnate.
Letter to Pierrepont Graham

In George Horace Lorimer, ed., Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son (1902)
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In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend.

Solon
Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC) Athenian statesman, lawmaker, poet
(Attributed)
Added on 14-Jul-14 | Last updated 14-Jul-14
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There is no calamity that right words will not begin to redress.

Ralph_Waldo_Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Representative Men, Lecture 3 “Eloquence” (1850)
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A miser grows rich by seeming poor; an extravagant man grows poor by seeming rich.

William Shenstone
William Shenstone (1714-1763) English poet
“Of Men and Manners,” sec. 86, Men and Manners (1804)
    (Source)
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That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make — a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort — between national greatness and national decline — between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of “normalcy” — between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity. All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

John Kennedy
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
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The human frame being what it is, heart, body and brain all mixed together, and not contained in separate compartments as they will be no doubt in another million years, a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
A Room of One’s Own, ch. 1 (1929)
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Nothing is worse than active ignorance.

[Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine tätige Unwissenheit.]

Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Maximen und Reflexionen

In Frederick Ungar, ed., Goethe’s World View Presented in His Reflections and Maxims (1963).
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In stating prudential rules for our government in society, I must not omit the important one of never entering into dispute or argument with another. I never saw an instance of one or two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many, on their getting warm, becoming rude, and shooting one another. Conviction is the effect of our own dispassionate reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing within ourselves, dispassionately, what we hear from others, standing uncommitted in argument ourselves.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) US President (1801-09)
Letter to Thomas Jefferson Randolph (24 Nov 1808)
Added on 11-Jul-14 | Last updated 11-Jul-14
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I am driven to express my faith by a series of skepticisms.

Ralph_Waldo_Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1845)
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The weirder you are going to behave, the more normal you should look. It works in reverse, too. When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person.

P.J. O'Rourke
P.J. O'Rourke (b. 1947) American humorist, editor
Give War a Chance (1992)
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Such is the state of life, that none are happy but by the anticipation of change: the change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again. The world is not yet exhausted; let me see something tomorrow which I never saw before.

Samuel_Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Rasselas: The Prince of Abissinia, ch. 47 (1759)
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