Questions about the reproductive system should be answered as naturally as ones about the railroad system.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (Feb 1946)
    (Source)
 
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For those who live neither with religious consolations about death nor with a sense of death (or of anything else ) as natural, death is the obscene mystery, the ultimate affront, the thing that cannot be controlled. It can only be denied.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004) American essayist, novelist, activist
Illness As Metaphor, ch. 7 (1978)
    (Source)
 
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Sharing the food is to me more important than arguing about beliefs. Jesus, according to the gospels, thought so too.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
“Progress in Religion,” Templeton Prize acceptance speech, Washington National Cathedral (9 May 2000)
    (Source)
 
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Politeness and honour have this advantage, that they remain with him who displays them to others.

[La galantería y la honra tienen esta ventaja, que se quedan: aquélla en quien la usa, ésta en quien la hace.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 118 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

Politeness and a sense of honor have this advantage: we bestow them on others without losing a thing.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

Gallantry, and honor have this advantage, they are saved through being spent, the first if practiced, the second if worn.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
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Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image.

[Das Betragen ist ein Spiegel in welchem jeder sein Bild zeigt.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Elective Affinities [Die Wahlverwandtschaften], Part 2, ch. 5, “From Ottilie’s Journal [Aus Ottiliens Tagebuche]” (1809) [tr. Hollingdale (1971)]
    (Source)

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

Behavior is a mirror in which every one shows his image.
[Niles ed. (1872)]

 
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As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so change of studies a dull brain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table-Talk,” Driftwood (1857)
    (Source)
 
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          Charon, bite back your spleen:
this has been willed where what is willed must be,
and is not yours to ask what it may mean.

          [Caron, non ti crucciare:
vuolsi così colà dove si puote
ciò che si vuole, e più non dimandare]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 3, l. 94ff (3.94-96) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 91ff]
    (Source)

Replying to Charon who complains that he cannot ferry a living person. (Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

          Caron, do not torment
Yourself, nor trouble us with asking more;
For who would this, can do whate'er he wills.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 78ff]

Cease, sullen Pilot of th' Infernal Tide!
Comission'd from above he seeks the shore,
And pleads the will of Heav'n's immortal Sire!
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 21]

Charon! thyself torment not: so 't is will'd,
Where will and power are one: ask thou no more.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

          Rest, angry Charon, rest:
So is it willed to be, where might and will
Go hand in hand, and brook no farther quest.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Charon, vex not thyself: thus it is willed there, where what is willed can be done; and ask no more.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

          Vex not thyself:
Such is the will of Him, whose dwelling's where
He can do what he wills. Questions forbear.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

"Charon," -- the Leader said -- "cease from thy rage;
There it is will'd, where is the pow'r to do
That which is will'd; so question thou no more."
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

          Vex thee not, Charon;
It is so willed there where is power to do
That which is willed; and farther question not.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Charon, vex not thyself; thus is it willed in that place where what is willed can be; and ask no more.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

          Charon, be not sore;
So is it willed above, where will can do
That which it pleases; do not question more.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Charon, vex not thyself, it is thus willed there where is power to do that which is willed; and farther ask not.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Charon, trouble not thyself: thus is it willed, where what is willed hath power to be accomplished; and ask no more.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

          Charon, restrain thy fury;
Thus is it willed there where can be accomplished
Whatever is willed -- and further ask no question.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Charon, do not torment thyself. It is so willed where will and power are one, and ask no more.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

          Charon, thy frowns forbear.
Thus is this thing willed there, where what is willed
Can be accomplished. Further question spare.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

          Charon, why wilt thou roar
And chafe in vain? Thus it is willed where power
And will are one; enough; ask thou no more.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Charon, do not rage. Thus it is willed there where that can be done which is willed; and ask no more.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

          Charon, this is no time for anger!
It is so willed, there where the power is
for what is willed; that's all you need to know.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

          Charon, don't torment yourself:
our passage has been willed above, where One
can do what He has willed; and ask no more.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

          Charon, don't torment yourself:
It is willed there, where anything can be done
If it is willed: no need for further questions.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

          Charon, do not rage:
Thus it is willed where everything may be
Simply if it is willed. Therefore, oblige,
And ask no more,
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 77ff]

Charon, do not torture yourself with anger: this is willed where what is willed can be done, so ask no more.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

Charon, do not vex yourself: it is willed there, where what is willed is done: ask no more.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

"Charon," my leader, "don't torment yourself.
For this is willed where all is possible
that is willed there. And so demand no more."
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

          Charon, do not torment yourself.
It is willed where will and power are one,
and ask no more.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

          Charon, this nonsense won't do.
These things were decided by those forever able
To make decisions and see them done. Not you.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

          Charon, never fear:
All this is wanted there where what is willed
Is said and done, so more than that don't ask.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
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All we hear is “What’s the matter with the country?” “What’s the matter with the world?” There ain’t but one thing wrong with every one of us in the world, and that’s selfishness.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“Daily Telegrams” column (10 Mar 1935)
    (Source)
 
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Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.

James Michener
James A. Michener (1907-1997) American writer
Chesapeake, “Rosalind’s Revenge” (1978)
    (Source)
 
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She’d stopped reading the kind of women’s magazine that talks about romance and knitting and started reading the kind of women’s magazine that talks about orgasms, but apart from making a mental note to have one if ever the occasion presented itself she dismissed them as only romance and knitting in a new form.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens, “Wednesday” (1990) [with Terry Pratchett]
    (Source)
 
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Neither his inability to speak, who understands his subject but cannot set it forth in words, nor his ignorance, to whom substance is lacking though words abound, can merit commendation; and if I had to choose one of the two, I should prefer uneloquent good sense to loquacious folly.

[Neque infantiam eius, qui rem norit, sed eam explicare dicendo non queat, neque inscientiam illius, cui res non suppetat, verba non desint, esse laudandam; quorum si alterum sit optandum, malim equidem indisertam prudentiam quam stultitiam loquacem]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Oratore [On the Orator, On Oratory], Book 3, ch. 35 (3.35) / sec. 142 (55 BC) [tr. Watson (1860)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

A Knowledge of Things, without an Ability of expressing them, no more deserves the Name of Eloquence, than a Fluency of Words, join'd to an Ignorance of Things: For my part, were I to take my Choice, I should prefer good Sense, tho' uneloquent, to Nonsense, let it be ever so flowing.
[tr. Guthrie (1755)]

Neither a knowledge of things, without ability to express them, nor a fluency fo words, without ideas, be considered as deserving the name of eloquence: for my part, were I to take my choice, I should prefer good sense, though ineloquent, to nonsense, however flowing.
[Source (1808)]

Neither the ineloquence which cannot impart what it knows, nor the ignorance that is fluent without knowledge, be deemed a subject for commendation; though, if the alternative be unavoidable, I should very much prefer ineloquent information to ignorant loquacity.
[tr. Calvert (1870)]

If have to choose between the two, I would rather have sound common sense without eloquence, than folly with a fine flow of language.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

Neither the tongue-tied silence of the man who knows the facts but cannot explain them in language, nor the ignorance of the person who is deficient in facts but has no lack of words, is deserving of praise. And if one had to choose between them, for my part I should prefer wisdom lacking power of expression to talkative folly.
[tr. Rackham (1942)]

No praise is due to the dumbness of the person who has mastered the matter but cannot unfold it in speech, nor, conversely, to the ignorance of the one who does not have the subject matter at his command, but has no lack of words. If we must choose between these alternatives, I myself would prefer inarticulate wisdom to babbling stupidity.
[tr. May/Wisse (2001)]

 
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I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” l. 51 (1915)
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For the world is not to be narrowed till it will go into the understanding (which has been done hitherto), but the understanding to be expanded and opened till it can take in the image of the world, as it is in fact.

[Neque enim arctandus est mundus ad angustias intellectus (quod adhue factum est), sed expandendus intellectus et laxandus ad mundi imaginem recipiendam, qualis invenitur.]

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
The Great Instauration, “Parsceve ad Historiam,” “Aphorisms on the Composition of the Primary History,” #4 (1620)
    (Source)
 
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No, not if I had a hundred tongues and a hundred mouths
and a voice of iron too — I could never capture
all the crimes or run through all the torments,
doom by doom.

[Non, mihi si linguae centum sunt oraque centum
Ferrea vox, omnis scelerum comprendere formas,
Omnia poenarum percurrere nomina possim.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 625ff (6.625-627) [The Sybil] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006), l. 724ff]
    (Source)

The punishments in Tartarus. Virgil uses a similar metaphor in Georgics 2.43.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Had I a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
And throats of brass, inspired with iron lungs,
I could not half those horrid crimes repeat,
Nor half the punishments those crimes have met.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Had I a hundred tongues, and a hundred mouths, and a voice of iron, I could not comprehend all the species of their crimes, nor enumerate the names of all their punishments.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

No -- had I e'en a hundred tongues
A hundred mouths, and iron lungs,
Those types of guilt I could not show,
Nor tell the forms of penal woe.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Not if I had a hundred tongues, a voice
Of iron, could I tell thee all the forms
Of guilt, or number all their penalties.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 780ff]

Not had I an hundred tongues, an hundred mouths, and a voice of iron, could I sum up all the shapes of crime or name over all their punishments.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Nor, had I now an hundred mouths, an hundred tongues at need,
An iron voice, might I tell o'er all guise of evil deed,
Or run adown the names of woe those evil deeds are worth.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Ne'er had a hundred mouths, if such were mine,
Nor hundred tongues their endless sins declared,
Nor iron voice their torments could define,
Or tell what doom to each the avenging gods assign.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 83, l. 744ff]

          I could not tell,
Not with a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
Or iron voice, their divers shapes of sin,
Nor call by name the myriad pangs they bear.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Nay, had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, and voice of iron, I could not sum up all the forms of crime, or rehearse all the tale of torments.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

If I had a hundred tongues,
A hundred iron throats, I could not tell
The fullness of their crime and punishment.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

No, not if I had a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths
And a voice of iron, could I describe all the shapes of wickedness,
Catalogue all the retributions inflicted here.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

          A hundred tongues,
a hundred mouths, an iron voice were not
enough for me to gather all the forms
of crime or tell the names of all the torments.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 829ff]

          If I had
A hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, a voice
Of iron, I could not tell of all the shapes
Their crimes had taken, or their punishments.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

If I had a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths and a voice of iron, I could not encompass all their different crimes or speak the names of all their different punishments.
[tr. West (1990)]

Not if I had a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths,
a voice of iron, could I tell all the forms of wickedness
or spell out the names of every torment.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Not if I had a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
And a voice of iron, could I recount
All the crimes or tell all their punishments.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

A hundred tongues and mouths, an iron voice, wouldn't let me cover the varieties of evil, nor all the names for punishments.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
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His nature is too noble for the world.
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident
Or Jove for ‘s power to thunder. His heart’s his mouth;
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent,
And, being angry, does forget that ever
He heard the name of death.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 3, sc. 1, l. 326ff [Menenius] (c. 1608)
    (Source)

Speaking of the title character.
 
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All of our exalted technological progress, civilization for that matter, is comparable to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
Letter to Heinrich Zangger (6 Dec 1917), in Collected Papers, Vol. 8, # 403 (1987) [tr. Hentschel]
    (Source)
 
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Maybe all obligate carnivores are essentially the same. Can I eat that? Is it going to eat me? Is it a toy?

Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear (b. 1971) American author [pseud. for Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky]
Ancestral Night (2019)
    (Source)
 
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At court, far from regarding ambition as a sin, people regard it as a virtue, or if it passes for a vice, then it is regarded as the vice of great souls, and the vices of great souls are preferred to the virtues of the simple and the small.

[A la cour, bien loin de faire un crime de l’ambition, on s’en fait une vertue; ou si elle y passe pour un vice, du reste on la regarde comme le vice des grandes âmes, et l’on aime mieux les vices des grandes âmes que les vertus des simples et des petits.]

Louis Bourdaloue
Louis Bourdaloue (1632-1704) French Jesuit priest, preacher
Quoted in Bernart Gorethuysen, The Bourgeois: Catholicism vs. Capitalism in Eighteenth-Century France (1927) [tr. Ilford (1968)]
    (Source)
 
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We should laugh before being happy, for fear of dying without having laughed.

[Il faut rire avant que d’être heureux, de peur de mourir sans avoir ri.]

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 4 “Of the Heart [Du coeur],” § 63 (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

We must laugh before we are happy, or else we may die before we have cause to laugh.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

We must laugh before we are happy, for fear we die before we laugh at all.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

We must laugh before we are happy, or else we may die before we ever laugh at all.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

We must laugh before we are happy, or else we may die before ever having laughed at all.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

We must laugh before we are happy, for fear of dying before we have laughed.
[tr. Lee (1903), "Brief Reflections on Men and Things"]

 
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There is surfeit in everything. I have seen
men abandon beautiful women for ugly ones,
and someone sated with rich meals return
with pleasure to inferior fare.

[κόρος δὲ πάντων· καὶ γὰρ ἐκ καλλιόνων
λέκτροις ἐπ᾽αἰσχροῖς εἶδον ἐκπεπληγµένους,
δαιτὸς δὲ πληρωθείς τις ἄσµενος πάλιν
φαύλῃ διαίτῃ προσβαλὼν ἥσθη στόµα.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Antiope [Αντιοπη], frag. 213 (Kannicht) (c. 410 BC)
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Barnes frag. 86, Musgrave frag. 27, TGF frag. 212. Alternate translations:

But all things satiate; oft have I beheld
The faithless Husband quit his beauteous Wife,
Lur'd by some vile amour: thus pall'd with dainties
The appetite regales on coarser food.
[tr. Wodhall (1809)]

There is a surfeit of all things; for I have seen men
drive away a beautiful wife for an ugly one,
and full from banquet someone glad to sit and crack
his teeth against poor fare.
[tr. Will (2015)]

 
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Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.

Richard Bach (b. 1936) American writer
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, ch. 13, epigraph (1977)
    (Source)
 
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Not anything is more responsible for the good old days than the fact that the grownups of one generation always remember the world as it looked to them in their young days, not as it looked to their elders.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (May 1960)
    (Source)
 
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One of the great but less famous heroes of World War Two was Andre Trocme, the Protestant pastor of the village of Le Chambon sur Lignon in France, which sheltered and saved the lives of five thousand Jews under the noses of the Gestapo. Forty years later Pierre Sauvage, one of the Jews who was saved, recorded the story of the village in a magnificent documentary film with the title, “Weapons of the Spirit”. The villagers proved that civil disobedience and passive resistance could be effective weapons, even against Hitler. Their religion gave them the courage and the discipline to stand firm. Progress in religion means that, as time goes on, religion more and more takes the side of the victims against the oppressors.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
“Progress in Religion,” Templeton Prize acceptance speech, Washington National Cathedral (9 May 2000)
    (Source)
 
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One half of the world laughs at the other, and fools are they all.

[La mitad del mundo se está riendo de la otra mitad, con necedad de todos.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 101 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

One part of the world laughs at the other, and both laugh at their common folly.
[Flescher ed. (1685)]

Half the world laughs at the other half, even though the lot are fools.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

Half the world is laughing at the other half, and folly rules over all.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

 
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Politeness is the art of choosing among one’s real thoughts.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Quoted in Abel Stevens, Madame de Staël, Vol. 1, ch. 4 “Early Character” (1880)
    (Source)

Stated as a possible paraphrase: "It was a maxim with her that politeness is the art of choosing among one's real thoughts."
 
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No longer dream that human prayer
The will of Fate can overbear.

[Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 176ff (6.176) [The Sybil] (29-19 BC) [tr. Conington (1866)]
    (Source)

Speaking to dead Palinurus. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Fate, and the dooming gods, are deaf to tears.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Cease to hope that the decrees of the gods are to be altered by prayers.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

          Cease to hope
By prayers to bend the destinies divine.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

Cease to hope prayers may bend the decrees of heaven.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Hope not the Fates of very God to change by any prayer.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Hope not by prayer to bend the Fates' decree.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 51, l. 454]

Hope not by prayer to change the laws of Heaven!
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Cease to dream that heaven's decrees may be turned aside by prayer.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

          Give up the hope
That fate is changed by praying.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Give up this hope that the course of fate can be swerved by prayer.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

Leave any hope that prayer can turn aside
the gods' decrees.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), ll. 495-96]

Abandon hope by prayer to make the gods
Change their decrees.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), ll. 506-7]

You must cease to hope that the Fates of the gods can be altered by prayers.
[tr. West (1990)]

Cease to hope that divine fate can be tempered by prayer.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Stop hoping that the gods' decrees
Can be bent with prayer.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

          Hope no more
the gods’ decrees can be brushed aside by prayer,
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 428-29]

As if the gods' fates could be bent by prayer.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
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FIRST OFFICER: That’s a brave fellow, but he’s vengeance proud and loves not the common people.

SECOND OFFICER: ’Faith, there hath been many great men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved them; and there be many that they have loved they know not wherefore; so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground. Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition and, out of his noble carelessness, lets them plainly see ’t.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 2, sc. 2, l. 5ff (c. 1608)
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‘Tis unbecoming not to shed a tear
Over the wretched; he too is devoid
Of virtue, who abounds in wealth, yet scruples
Thro’ sordid avarice to relieve their wants.

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Antiope [Αντιοπη], frag. (c. 410 BC) [tr. Wodhall (1809)]
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Barnes frag. 62, Musgrave frag. 40.
 
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The invention of gunpowder and the constant improvement of firearms are enough in themselves to show that the advance of civilization has done nothing practical to alter or deflect the impulse to destroy the enemy, which is central to the very idea of war.

[Die Erfindung des Pulvers, die immer weiter gehende Ausbildung des Feuergewehrs zeigen schon hinreichend, dase die in dem Begriff des Krieges liegende Tendenz zur Vernichtung des Gegners auch faktisch durch die zunehmende Bildung keineswegs gestört oder abgelenkt worden ist.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 1 “What Is War? [Was ist der Krieg?],” § 3 (1832) [tr. Howard & Paret (1984)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

The invention of gunpowder, the constant progress of improvements in the construction of firearms are sufficient proofs that the tendency to destroy the adversary which lies at the bottom of the conception of war, is in no way changed or modified through the progress of civilisation.
[tr. Graham (1874)]

The invention of gunpowder and the advances continually being made in the development of firearms, in themselves show clearly enough that the demand for the destruction of the enemy, inherent in the theoretical conception of war, has been in no way actually weakened or diverted by the advance of civilization
[tr. Jolles (1943)]

 
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In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
Reflections on the Human Condition, ch. 1, § 32 (1973)
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SIR HUMPHREY: If local authorities don’t send us statistics, Government figures will be a nonsense.
HACKER: Why?
SIR HUMPHREY: They’ll be incomplete.
HACKER: Government figures are a nonsense, anyway.
BERNARD: I think Sir Humphrey wants to ensure they’re a complete nonsense.

Jonathan Lynn (b. 1943) English actor, comedy writer, director
Yes Minister, S3E3 “The Skeleton in the Cupboard” (25 Nov 1982) [with Anthony Jay]
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What television does is rent us friends and relatives who are quite satisfactory. The child watching TV loves these people, you know — they’re in color, and they’re talking to the child. Why wouldn’t a child relate to these people? And you know, if you can’t sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning, you can turn on a switch, and there are your friends and relatives, and they obviously like you. And they’re charming. Who wouldn’t want Peter Jennings for a relative? This is quite something, to rent artificial friends and relatives right inside the house.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) American novelist, journalist
“The Salon Interview: Kurt Vonnegut,” interview by Frank Houston, Salon (8 Oct 1999)
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I was stunned to realize that it was possible to make up things that had never happened but which felt as if they’d happened. The church had tried to convince me that there was only truth and falsehood and nothing in between, but the nuns and priests were wrong; the story in front of me was false, but in the reading of it my heart accepted it as true. I turned over the book to reveal the writer’s name. I hadn’t previously paid much attention to the names on book covers, but by god somebody sat down and wrote that story. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could do that? I thought. And with an electric thrill I felt a key turn deep inside me.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Becoming Superman (2019)
 
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As per your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics. And I feel that we have tried ignorance for a very long time and it’s time we try education.

Joycelyn Elders
Joycelyn Elders (b. 1933) American pediatrician, public health administrator, academic
Comment, United Nations AIDS conference, New York City (1 Dec 1994)
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When asked if it would be appropriate to discuss or promote masturbation as a means of getting younger people to avoid riskier forms of sexual activity. She was fired as Surgeon General for the Clinton Administration for that and earlier comments on controversial issues.
 
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Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards)

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens, “Dramatis Personae” (1990) [with Terry Pratchett]
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For a liberal arts education is not a tool like a hoe or a blueprint or an electric mixer. It is a true and precious stone which can glow just as wholesomely on a kitchen table as when it is put on exhibition in a jeweler’s window or bartered for bread and butter. Learning is a boon, a personal good. It is a light in the mind, a pleasure for the spirit, an object to be enjoyed. It is refreshment, warmth, illumination, a window from which we get a view of the world. To what barbarian plane are we descending when we demand that it serve only the economy?

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“A Jewel in the Pocket,” Sixpence in Her Shoe (1964)
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It was pleasant to me to get a letter from you the other day. Perhaps I should have found it pleasanter if I had been able to decipher it. I don’t think that I mastered anything beyond the date (which I knew) and the signature (which I guessed at).

Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907) American writer, poet, critic, editor
Letter to Professor E.S. Morse (c. 1889)
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In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) American educator, writer
Speech, Republican Club, New York City (12 Feb 1909)
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A Man that is of Copernicus’s Opinion, that this Earth of ours is a Planet, carry’d round and enlighten’d by the Sun, like the rest of the Planets, cannot but sometimes think, that it’s not improbable that the rest of the Planets have their Dress and Furniture, and perhaps their Inhabitants too as well as this Earth of ours.

Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) Dutch physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor
Cosmotheoros, Book 1 (1695; publ. 1698) [tr. Clarke (1722)]
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The truly innosent are thoze who not only are guiltless themselfes, but who think others are.

[The truly innocent are those who not only are guiltless themselves, but who think others are.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Plum Pits” (1874)
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The time spent in praying to God, might be better employed in deserving well from him. Men think praying the easier Task of the two, and therefore choose it.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Religion,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, — each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my good Marcius, — I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country, than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 1, sc. 3, l. 21ff. [Volumnia] (c. 1608)
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"Voluptuously surfeit out of action" = to die indulgent, idle, and lazy
 
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The truth is often painful and disturbing. Hence if you stick to unalloyed reality, few people will follow you. An American presidential candidate who tells the American public the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about American history has a 100 percent guarantee of losing the elections. The same goes for candidates in all other countries. How many Israelis, Italians or Indians can stomach the unblemished truth about their nations? An uncompromising adherence to the truth is an admirable spiritual practice, but it is not a winning political strategy.

Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari (b. 1976) Israeli public intellectual, historian, academic, writer [יובל נח הררי]
“Why Fiction Trumps Truth,” New York Times (24 May 2019)
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Tolerance, I believe, will be imperative after the establishment of peace. It’s always useful to take a concrete instance: and I have been asking myself how I should behave if, after peace was signed, I met Germans who had been fighting against us. I shouldn’t try to love them: I shouldn’t feel inclined. They have broken a window in my little ugly flat for one thing, and they have done other things which I need not specify. But I shall try to tolerate them, because it is common-sense, because in the post-war world we shall have to live with Germans […] not for any lofty reason, but because it is the next thing that will have to be done.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“The Unsung Virtue of Tolerance,” radio broadcast, BBC (Jul 1941)
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Published as "Tolerance," Two Cheers for Democracy (1951).
 
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[Holding the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch]

KING ARTHUR: How does it — um — how does it work?

SIR LANCELOT: I know not, my liege.

KING ARTHUR: Consult the Book of Armaments.

BROTHER MAYNARD: Armaments, chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one.

CLERIC: [reading] And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large chu–“

BROTHER MAYNARD: Skip a bit, Brother.

CLERIC: And the Lord spake, saying, “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.”

BROTHER MAYNARD: Amen.

ALL: Amen.

KING ARTHUR: Right. [pulls pin] One … two … five!

GALAHAD: Three, sir.

KING ARTHUR: Three! [throws grenade]

Monty Python (contemp.) British comedy troupe
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
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(Video)
 
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We are so much accustomed to the humanitarian outlook that we forget how little it counted in earlier ages of civilisation. Ask any decent person in England or America what he thinks matters most in human conduct: five to one his answer will be “kindness.” It’s not a word that would have crossed the lips of any of the earlier heroes of this series. If you had asked St. Francis what mattered in life, he would, we know, have answered “chastity, obedience and poverty”; if you had asked Dante or Michelangelo, they might have answered “disdain of baseness and injustice”; if you had asked Goethe, he would have said “to live in the whole and the beautiful.” But kindness, never. Our ancestors didn’t use the word, and they did not greatly value the quality — except perhaps insofar as they valued compassion.

Kenneth Clark
Kenneth Clark (1903-1983) British art historian, museum director, broadcaster
Civilisation, A Personal View, ch. 13 “Heroic Materialism” (1969)
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Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it’s not that simple. Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn’t ask the question: What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone — they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?

George R R Martin
George R. R. Martin (b. 1948) American author and screenwriter [George Raymond Richard Martin]
“The Rolling Stone Interview,” Rolling Stone (23 Apr 2014)
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Worthy work carries with it the hope of pleasure in rest, the hope of the pleasure in our using what it makes, and the hope of pleasure in our daily creative skill. All other work but this is worthless; it is slaves’ work — mere toiling to live, that we may live to toil.

William Morris (1834-1896) British textile designer, writer, socialist activist
Signs of Change, ch. 6 (1888)
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          And now I understand
something so frightening, and wonderful —
how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing
through crossroads, sticking
like lint to the familiar.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Robert Schumann,” Dream Work, Part 1 (1986)
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Education is more than information, or skill, or propaganda. In each age education must take into account the conditions of that age. But the educated mind is not a mere creature of its own time. Education is emancipation from herd opinion, self-mastery, capacity for self-criticism, suspended judgment, and urbanity.

Everett Dean Martin
Everett Dean Martin (1880-1941) American educator, minister, writer, lecturer
The Meaning of a Liberal Education, Preface (1926)
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Maybe the only thing worse than having to give gratitude constantly all the time, is having to accept it.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
Requiem for a Nun, Act 2, sc. 1 [Temple] (1951)
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If you make a great number of predictions, the ones that were wrong will soon be forgotten, and the ones that turn out to be true will make you famous.

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell (b. 1963) Anglo-Canadian journalist, author, public speaker
“Dangerous Minds: Criminal Profiling Made Easy,” The New Yorker (12 Nov 2007)
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Unreason is now ascendant in the United States — in our schools, in our courts, and in each branch of the federal government. Only 28 percent of Americans believe in evolution; 68 percent believe in Satan. Ignorance in this degree, concentrated in both the head and belly of a lumbering superpower, is now a problem for the entire world.

Sam Harris (b. 1967) American author, philosopher, neuroscientist
“The Politics of Ignorance,” Huffington Post (2 Aug 2005)
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Anyway, one of the first things you learn in space is not to thrash. If you have nothing constructive to do, the most constructive thing you can do is often nothing at all. In a mindful sense, I mean. Thrashing is the thing that gets people killed. Not sitting still.

Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear (b. 1971) American author [pseud. for Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky]
Ancestral Night (2019)
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It is supposed to be true that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. I don’t believe knowing can save us. What is constant in history is greed and foolishness and a love of blood, and this is a thing that even God — who knows all that can be known — seems powerless to change.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
All the Pretty Horses, ch. 4 (1992)
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See Santayana.
 
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