Still More Themes

  • “I intend to live forever.  So far, so good.” – Steven Wright.
  • “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” -Bill Cosby
  • These data do not support the hypothesis.  Well … The first one does, but the second and third don’t, now the fourth … – unknown
  • “He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars.  General good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite and flatterer.” – William Blake (1757-1827)
  • Hofstadter’s Law – It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account. – Douglas Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979)
  • “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice, there is.” – attributed to many
  • “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn’t.” – Erica Jong
  • “Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.” attributed to Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
  • Always do right.  This will gratify some and astonish the rest. – Mark Twain (1835-1910)
  • “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” — Winston Churchill
  • “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
  • The difference between men and women is that, if given the choice between saving the life of an infant or catching a fly ball, a woman will automatically choose to save the infant, without even considering if there’s a man on base. – Dave Barry
  • I find that in contemplating the natural world my pleasure is greater if there are not too may others contemplating it with me at the same time. – Edward Abbey
  • Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think. – Niels Bohr
  • A person who has a cat by the tail knows a whole lot more about cats than someone who has just read about them. – Mark Twain
  • Don’t be so humble – you are not that great. – Golda Meir (1898-1978) to a visiting diplomat
  • The theoretical broadening which comes from having many humanities subjects on the campus is offset by the general dopiness of the people who study these things … – Richard Feynman
  • Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to Authority is not using his intelligence, he is just using his memory. – Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519
  • p-values are dangerous, especially large, small, and in-between ones.” – Frank E Harrell Jr, Professor and Chairman, School of Medicine, Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University
  • The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. – Thomas H. Huxley
  • Rule of Scarcity – If it’s not allocated by a market, then it’s more expensive than money. – unknown
  • Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others. – Groucho Marx
  • Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. – William W. Watt
  • The quickest way to end a war is to lose it. – George Orwell
  • First, do no harm. (Primum non nocere.)
  • When you’re talkin’, you ain’t learnin’ nothin’.
  • There are a number of mechanical devices that increase sexual arousal, particularly  in women.  Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible. – P.J. O’Rourke
  • “The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models.  By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain verbal interpretations, describes observed phenomena.  The justification of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work.” – John von Neumann
  • Confidence is contagious.  So is lack of confidence. – Vince Lombardi
  • “I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.” – Poul Anderson
  • If you optimize everything, you will always be unhappy. – Donald Knuth
  • If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it.  Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can only gain at the expense of another. – Milton Friedman
  • A cynic knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. – Oscar Wilde
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a new result. – Albert Einstein
  • The laws of mathematics are not merely human inventions or creations.  They simply are; they exist quite independently of the human intellect. The most that any(one) … can do is to find that they are there and to take cognizance of them. – Maurits Escher
  • Simply not understanding the nature of the assumptions being made does not mean that they do not exist. – Ildiko Frank and Jerome Freidman,  “A Statistical View of some Chemometrics Regression Tools,” Technometrics, V35, N2, 1993, p 110
  • Laws of thermodynamics:
    1. You cannot win.
    2. You cannot break even.
    3. You cannot stop playing the game.
    – Anon
  • I may not be the richest man on earth.  Or the smartest.  Or the handsomest. – Homer J. Simpson
  • “Business is slow.  People today are healthier and drinking less.  You know, if it wasn’t for the junior high school next door, no one would even use the cigarette machine.” – Moe Szyslak
  • “Things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office.  Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors.  Useful people are starting to feel the pinch.” – Kent Brockman
  • Bad Guy: “Who are you and how did you get in here?”
    Sgt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielson): “I’m a locksmith.  And I’m a locksmith.”
    – Police Squad!
  • There’s no system foolproof enough to defeat a sufficiently great fool. – Edward Teller (1908-2003)
  • …man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on. – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
  • “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them” – Karl Popper, in “The Open Society and its Enemies” (1945)
  • “Success is that happy feeling you get between the time you do something and the time you tell a woman what you did.” – Dilbert (Scott Adams)
  • Because I place my trust in reason, I place it in the individual.  There is a madness in crowds from which even the wisest, caught up in their ranks, are not immune.  Stupidity and cruelty are the attributes of the mob, not wisdom and compassion. – Bernard Baruch (1870-1965)  He read this text over CBS radio in 1953; it has been reprinted many times since, most recently in the Wall Street Journal, 20 November, 2010
  • Never argue with an idiot; they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. – anonymous
  • The production of useful work is strictly limited by the laws of thermodynamics.  The production of useless work seems to be unlimited. – Donald E. Simanek (1936- )
  • “You can’t no more teach what you ain’t learned than you can come from where you ain’t been.” – attributed to Mark Twain
  • Re: Diversified investing.  If you know nothing about poisonous snakes, keeping several species won’t make you any safer. – Michael Kaplan, reviewing “Risk Intelligence” by David Apgar in the Dec 8, 2006 WSJ
  • “If everybody’s thinking alike, somebody isn’t thinking.” – George S. Patton
  • Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, “Where have I gone wrong?”  Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.” – Charlie Brown
  • I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind. – Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)
  • “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” – index card tacked to Einstein’s office wall
  • Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. – Attributed to Richard Feynman (1918-88)
  • Scientists are explorers.  Philosophers are tourists. – Richard Feynman
  • “Ah, there’s nothing more exciting than science.  You get all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention.  Science has it all.” – Principal Skinner
  • “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” – Malachy McCourt
  • “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
    “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
    “I don’t much care where.” said Alice.
    “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” said the Cat.
    – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • “Contradictions do not exist.  Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises.  You will find that one of them is wrong.” – Ayn Rand
  • “It is the Soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press.  It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech.  It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate.  It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.” – Father Denis Edward O’Brien, Sergeant, USMC (1923 – 2002)
  • “These are not the droids you are looking for.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.
  • Of all things, good sense is the most fairly distributed: everyone thinks he is so well supplied with it that even those who are the hardest to satisfy in every other respect never desire more of it than they already have. – René Descartes (Discours de la Méthode, 1637)
  • Three percent exceeds 2 percent by 50 percent, not by 1 percent. – Edward Denison
  • An “activist” is a vain, self-involved person who engages in activities designed to call attention to himself, under the guise of helping someone else.
  • Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. – Douglas Adams
  • “Some ideas seem so plausible that they can fail nine times in a row and still be believed the tenth time.  Other ideas seem so implausible that they can succeed nine times in a row and still not be believed the tenth time.  Government controls in the economy are among the first kinds of ideas and the operation of a free market is among the second kinds of ideas.” – Thomas Sowell
  • “I examined my Liberalism and found it like an addiction to roulette.  Here, though the odds are plain, and the certainty of loss apparent to anyone with a knowledge of arithmetic, the addict, failing time and again, is convinced he yet is graced with the power to contravene natural laws.  The roulette addict, when he invariably comes to grief, does not examine either the nature of roulette, or of his delusion, but retires to develop a new system, and to scheme for more funds.” ― David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture
  • The government can’t create resources.  It redistributes them.  For everyone who is given something, there is someone who has that something taken away. – Arthur Laffer, Wall Street Journal, 8 July, 2010
  • “There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as ‘moral indignation,’ which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.” – Erich Fromm
  • You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money. – P.J. O’Rourke
  • ” … dependency doesn’t encourage gratitude but resentment.” – Peggy Noonan, WSJ 13 Aug., 2011
  • “You can’t make anything idiot proof because idiots are so ingenious.” – Ron Burns
  • Light travels faster than sound.  That is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – attributed to Winston Churchill
  • A meta-theorem in numerical linear algebra is that if your algorithm involves finding the inverse of a matrix then you need a better algorithm. – Douglas Bates
  • “I think it’s important, in reporting a development effort, to indicate what you tried that didn’t work, as well as what you tried that did work.” – Frederick Brooks, author of The Mythical Man-Month
  • Direction is more important than speed. – anonymous
  • “A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it […] gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want.  Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” – Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006)
  • My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician.  And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference. – Harry S. Truman
  • All models are wrong but some are useful. – George E. P. Box
  • Science is what you know.  Philosophy is what you don’t know. – Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
  • One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone sees that it doesn’t fall. – Paul Valéry (1871-1945)
  • “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath … – Proverbs 15:1
  • “Life is difficult.  This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.” – M. Scott Peck (1936 – 2005) in The Road Less Traveled (1978)
  • “Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne
  • If a theory cannot produce a testable prediction, then it isn’t science; it’s philosophy. – unknown
  • “… if a technology is commercially viable, then government support is not needed; and if a technology is not commercially viable, no amount of government support will make it so.” – Thomas H. Lee, Ben C. Ball, Jr., and Richard D. Tabors, Energy Aftermath (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1990), pp. 167
  • Every honest researcher I know admits he’s just a professional amateur.  He’s doing whatever he’s doing for the first time.  That makes him an amateur.  He has sense enough to know that he’s going to have a lot of trouble, so that makes him a professional. – Charles Kettering (1876-1958)
  • Brooks’s Law – Programmer time is not fungible; adding developers to a late software project makes it later because the complexity and communication costs of a project rise with the square of the number of developers, while work done only rises linearly.
    – Fred Brooks (1975), The Mythical Man-Month
  • “To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841 – 1935)
  • “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered … not yelled. – unknown
  • Prejudice is being down on something you’re not up on. – unknown
  • If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. – Herbert Stein
  • Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
    – Bernard Baruch
  • “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
    – attributed to Everett Dirksen (1896-1969) US Senator from Illinois
  • “Put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert and in five years there’d be a sand shortage.” – Milton Friedman
  • “A man convinced against his will … is of the same opinion still.” – L.C. Annis (1864-1940)
  • Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. – Winston Churchill
  • “Liberalism is a religion.  It affords the feeling of spiritual rectitude at little or no cost.  Central to this religion is the assertion that evil does not exist, all conflict being attributed to lack of understanding between the opposed.  … this does not accord with the experience of anyone.” – David Mamet
  • Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder. – Arnold Toynbee
  • No organization can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it.  It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings. – Peter Drucker
  • “No people in history have ever survived who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies.” – Dean Acheson (US Secretary of state, January 21, 1949 – January 20, 1953)
  • “Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. – Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful good society’ which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean ‘more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.’ ” – Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)
  • “Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big.” – Umberto Eco
  • “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it.” – Frédéric Bastiat
  • “… (people) go mad in herds, while they recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” – Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841)
  • We could say that Congress spends money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors.  It would be unfair, because the sailors are spending their own money. – Ronald Reagan
  • “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
    – Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), 1945.
  • Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil. – Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955)
  • “In the past quarter century, we exposed biases against other races and called it racism, and we exposed biases against women and called it sexism.  Biases against men we call humor.” – Warren Farrell