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A wonderful source of thoughts about thinking is the out-of-print anthology ThePracticalCogitator, edited by Charles P. Curtis & Ferris Greenslet, The Riverside Press, 1945 -- BetsyHanesPerry

(Read: "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" by SalmanRushdie -- JimCoplien)


If a fact is to be established by testimony, anonymous assertion is of no value; if it can be proved, by evidence to which the public have access, it is of no consequence (for the cause of truth) who produces it. A matter of opinion derives weight from the name which is attached to it; but a chain of reasoning is equally conclusive, whoever may be its author. -- CharlesBabbage

People would sooner die than think. In fact, most of them do. -- GeorgeBernardShaw
"At some point, politeness doesn't scale" (KellieMiller, 8/23/99)

For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong. (H.L. Menken)

Nonsense, after all is just nonsense, but the study of nonsense is science. (Unattributed)

No matter how cynical I am, I still can't keep up with the world. (LilyTomlin?) --SteveFreeman

"You only pay attention to things that are meaningful to you, So the meaning of your life is what you pay attention to." my drinking buddy, Ken (--AlistairCockburn)

Men- You can't live with them, you can't flush them down the toilet, and who would you send to unplug it if you did? -- CindeeAndres


Knowledge is something you can use, Belief is something that uses you. -- IdriesShah?

If you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes. -- Bumper Sticker with Alaskan origins

Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you are. -- JerryArchibald (8/24/98 as well as previous two)


My teachers could easily have ridden with Jesse James for all the time they stole from me. -- RichardBrautigan

When you walk in the mist, you get wet. -- Dogen


What I love about this medium is that you don't need a grant to put up an exhibition ... but you do need an idea. -- WardCunningham


"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." -- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Why is it that all battles are fought in the middle of the night, in downpouring rain, and at the corners of four different maps? -- GeorgePatton, I believe


"Be strong and of a good courage. Act for the best, hope for the best and take what comes... If death ends all, we cannot meet death better." FitzjamesStephen?, 1874


Nitwit ideas are for emergencies. You use them when you've got nothing else to try. If they work, they go into the Book. Otherwise you follow the Book, which is largely a collection of nitwit ideas that worked. -- LarryNiven and JerryPournelle, The Mote in God's Eye

Life cannot be eradicated from the world, even though our metaphors have tried.

What we see is most influenced by what we have decided to be. -- MaturanaAndVarela?

The bad news is that in our opinion, we will never find the philosopher's stone. We will never find a process that allows us to design software in a perfectly rational way. The good news is that we can fake it. (Parnas, I believe -- MartineDevos)

Every person has two reasons for doing things: the one that sounds good and the real reason (Is this De Bono?)

"Find your place in the games we play / No-one's safe when it's 'safe to say' / The perfect motive has another -- ulterior / Check yours twice when you're feeling superior" -- Bryan Duncan, "Mr. Bailey's Daughter", Anonymous Confessions of a Lunatic Friend


"Fait ce que voudrias" -- Rabelais (Gargantua and Pantagruel)

Appealing motto, often adapted, misunderstood and misquoted. Germain Greer in the Female Eunuch explains: "Do as thou wilt is a warning not to delude yourself that you can do otherwise, and to take full responsibility for what you do. When one has genuinely chosen a course for oneself it cannot be possible to hold another responsible for it."

For those who don't read OldFrench, a rough translation is: "Just do it" (Nike)

I don't know if Rabelais is intentionally quoting Martin Luther - his version is, "Love, and do what you will." This captures the crux: if one truly acts from love, then what one wants will be the right thing. The tricksy bit is then distinguishing love from the phantasms masquerading for it. -- TresSeaver

Martin Luther is intentionally quoting St. Augustine - his version is, "Amo et fac quod vis."

Absolutely fascinating - because AleisterCrowley's motto (CrowleysLaw) is "'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the law". Of course, he was declared a Satanist, which was not quite the fate of St. Augustine! This, I find really funny.

Well, they're not quite the same. Crowley's motto lacks "love" and centers on "thou" -- the self.

The complete Crowley quote from The Book of The Law: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will." Crowley claimed The Book of The Law was revealed to him by a spirit called "Aiwass", but he acknowledges Rabelais and Augustine in his commentaries about it. -- EricHodges

Cf. the WiccanRede, which ends "An it harm none, do what thou wilt."

The WiccanRede, like much of Wiccan practice, is based on the works of Crowley. -- EricHodges

This quote from Luther and Augustine may be similar to the Crowley quote, but it is an incomplete view of Christian action. E.g. Paul said, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."


I wake up each morning determined to change the World and also to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes that makes planning the day a little difficult. -- E. B. White


You're damned if you do; you're damned if you don't -- BartSimpson?


"I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" -- MrVoltaire

according to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (5th ed. 1999 p.521), this is a misquotation "attributed to Voltaire, but in fact a later summary of his attitude by S. G. Tallentyre in The Friends of Voltaire (1907)"


"The truth arises from the disagreement amongst friends" -- DavidHume


"Nicht jeder, der einen Bart trägt, ist schon ein Prophet" ..... (Arabic saying translated into German; its English translation is: ..... "Not everyone who wears a beard is already a Prophet.") -- from the back of a sugar packet ..... (still on Alistair's refrigerator)


"Some treat the overhead of big projects as inevitable. The result of such treatment is a plethora of complicated systems to manage this overhead. All too often, however, the result of such management is merely well-organized overhead. It's still there; it's just been put in neat boxes and charts and thus it seems easy to understand. Some people revel in this overhead. They behave as if it is a Good Thing - almost as if the overhead is really the cause of productive software development, rather than something standing in the way." -- AndrewKoenig and BarbaraMoo, RuminationsOnCeePlusPlus (quoted by PaulChisholm)


In a small company, years back, it was tradition to add a pithy quote to one's monthly status report. Here are some favorites:

If you never step over the line, you'll never find out where it is. - Unknown

Language services three functions. The first is to communicate ideas. The second is to conceal ideas. The third is to conceal the absence of ideas. - OttoJespersen

"La parole a ete donne a l'homme pour cacher sa pensee." - MrVoltaire

Heavier than air flying machines are impossible. - LordKelvin?, President of the RoyalSociety, c. 1895

When an elephant flies, it shouldn't be criticized for doing it badly. - Unknown

Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up. - G.K. Chesterton

It is folly to plant an acorn in the morning and expect to rest that evening in the shade of a giant oak. - AntoineDeSaintExupery

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in. - Andrew Jackson


"Tell me and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me and I learn." -- BenjaminFranklin

"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." -- Confucius


"The first step on the road to truth is to call things by their proper names." -- Ancient Chinese Saying (from a post by DonOlson)

I've seen this specifically attributed to Confucius, though that, I guess, may be common in Chinese lore. -- JerryArchibald


"To accomplish great things, We must not only act, but also dream; Not only plan, but also believe." Anatole France (read on learning-org@world.std.com -- MartineDevos)


Henry Ford
"Thinking is the hardest work a man can do, which is probably why so few engage in it."

PietHein, "Grooks"
"Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back."

archy, as relayed by Don Marquis
"I know mankind is doing the best it can but hellsbells boss that's only an explanation its not an excuse."


"The two most abundant things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." -- HarlanEllison


Machines become a threat when they embody our limitations without our being fully aware of those limitations. ---- ??


The journey from the head to the heart is the longest journey we will ever take. --- ?? cited by Kevin Murphy


"...Vague and insignificant forms of speech, and abuse of language, have so long passed for mysteries of science; and hard and misapplied words, with little or no meaning, have such a right to be mistaken for deep learning and height of speculation, that it will not be easy to persuade either those who speak or those who hear them, that they are but covers of ignorance..." JohnLocke (read in Organisatie Diagnostiek by J.J. Ramondt -- MartineDevos)

Also known as "buzzwords". -- DavidHooker


"I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night" (source unknown)

"I may have my price, but what you are paying me isn't it"

GenePrescott (3/3/97)


Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. (Goethe)

Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you. (Aldous Huxley)

Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar. (Bradley Millar)

The best memories are those which we have forgotten. (Alfred Capus)

The only thing we can never know is how to know how to ignore what we can never know. (Rousseau, 1762)

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folk have lent me. (Anatole France)

A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg. (Samuel Butler)

In each of us there is a little of all of us. (Lichtenberg)

Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. (A. Gide)


Knowing how people grow, does not mean we know how to grow them. (Richard Farson)

What a dreadful world it would be if actually did possess the skill to convey something other than what we really are. (Richard Farson)

-- Some reflections on management from Management of the Absurd ---- MartineDevos


"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools" - HerbertSpencer?


"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." -- Douglas Adams

Mundus vult decipi — "the world wants to be deceived" -- James Branch Cabell

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." -- Bill Cosby

"Time is that quality of nature which keeps events from happening all at once. Lately, it doesn't seem to be working." -- Anonymous

"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" -- Steven Wright

"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is crucial" Joe Paterno, Head Football Coach, Pennsylvania State University


How can you be in two places at once when you are not anywhere at all?

Firesign Theater


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