Quotes

I syndicate quotes from books I’ve read on my tumblr blog, smart folk.

Douglas Adams

“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” — Douglas Adams

“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.” — Douglas Adams

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” — Douglas Adams

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” — Douglas Adams

“He hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.” — Douglas Adams

“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.” — Douglas Adams

“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.” — Douglas Adams

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” — Douglas Adams

Isaac Asimov

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” — Isaac Asimov

“Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” — Isaac Asimov

“Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.” — Isaac Asimov

Jeff Atwood

“‘It’s better to be safe than sorry’ is such crap. You know what’s better than being safe? Being AWESOME.” — Jeff Atwood

Frederic Bastiat

“Life, faculties, production–in other words, individuality, liberty, property–this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation and are superior to it.” —  Frederic Bastiat

“If you wish to prosper, let your customer prosper. When people have learned this lesson, everyone will seek his individual welfare in the general welfare. Then jealousies between man and man, city and city, province and province, nation and nation, will no longer trouble the world.” — Frederic Bastiat

“There is not a tool, an implement, or a machine that has not resulted in a decrease in the contribution of human labor. Labor is not made permanently idle [though]; when replaced in one special category… it turns its attack against other obstacles on the main road to progress.” — Frederic Bastiat

“[To learn] is to harness Nature; to spare man all that is most physical, backbreaking, and brutish in the work of production; to make mind master over matter.” — Frederic Bastiat

“Man acquires wealth in proportion as he puts his labor to better account.” — Frederic Bastiat

“The creation of new capital always… releases… labor. Its actual effect [though] is not to make jobs scarce, but to free men’s labor for other jobs.” — Frederic Bastiat

Cicero

“Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts.” — Cicero

“Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else’s traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man’s character is, the better it fits him.” — Cicero

Joseph Conrad

“It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.” — Joseph Conrad

Frederick Douglas

“My theory of self-made men is, then, simply this; that they are men of work. Whether or not such men have acquired material, moral or intellectual excellence, honest labor faithfully, steadily and persistently pursued, is the best, if not the only, explanation of their success… All human experience proves over and over again, that any success which comes through meanness, trickery, fraud and dishonour, is but emptiness and will only be a torment to its possessor.” — Frederick Douglas

Amelia Earhart

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” — Amelia Earhart

Richard Feynman

“I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose which is the way it really is… It doesn’t frighten me.” — Richard Feynman

Henry Ford

“One who fears the future, who fears failure, limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again. There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail.” — Henry Ford

Paul Graham

“Someone who’s scrappy manages to be both threatening and undignified at the same time. Which seems to me exactly what one would want to be, in any kind of work. If you’re not threatening, you’re probably not doing anything new, and dignity is merely a sort of plaque.” — Paul Graham

“An organization that wins by exercising power starts to lose the ability to win by doing better work. And it’s not fun for a smart person to work in a place where the best ideas aren’t the ones that win.” — Paul Graham

Frank Herbert

“A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating.” — Frank Herbert

Christopher Hitchens

“…the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry.” — Christopher Hitchens

“Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.” — Christopher Hitchens

Thomas Jefferson

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” — Thomas Jefferson

Steve Jobs

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” — Steve Jobs

Andrew W. K.

“Never ask someone to give up on their dreams just so you can feel more stable. It’s his choice and his choice alone, no matter how ridiculous his dream may seem to you, or to society, or even to himself. Dreams make humans into self-realized individuals. Your only responsibility is to love everything about him, including his dreams. The idea of ‘making this work’ sounds more like a way to make his life more boring and predictable. At worst, it’s a genuine sadistic desire to control someone else because your own life feels out of control — or a cruel need to dominate and break someone’s spirit for the sake of your own peace of mind. Look for stability and peace of mind inside yourself, and not in your relationships or dreams of others.” — Andrew W. K.

Athol Kay

“Take bacon for example – bacon is the most wonderful food in all of human history and probably will never be displaced from that status. Bacon is crunchy and tasty and fatty and delicious. A salad with bacon is just a game of hide-and-seek the bacon.” — Athol Kay

C. S. Lewis

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” — C. S. Lewis

Ayn Rand

“‘Mediocrity’ does not mean an average intelligence; it means an average intelligence that resents and envies its betters.” — Ayn Rand

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand

“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” — Ayn Rand

“Competition is a by-product of productive work, *not* its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, *not* by the desire to beat others.” — Ayn Rand

“Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned.” — Ayn Rand

“You must be the kind of [person] who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences.” — Ayn Rand

“The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive–a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. Man’s mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man’s power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. The purpose of man’s life is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.” — Ayn Rand

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.” — Ayn Rand

“Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think.” — Ayn Rand

“Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.” — Ayn Rand

“Progress cannot be achieved by forced privations, by squeezing a ‘social surplus’ out of starving victims. Progress can come only out of individual surplus, i.e., from the work, the energy, the creative over-abundance of those men whose ability produces more than their personal consumption requires, those who are intellectually and financially able to seek the new, to improve on the known, to move forward. In a capitalist society, where such men are free to function and to take their own risks, progress is not a matter of sacrificing to some distant future, it is part of the living present, it is the normal and natural, it is achieved as and while men live–and enjoy–their lives.” — Ayn Rand

“I am profoundly opposed to the philosophy of hedonism. Hedonism is the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure and, therefore, pleasure is the standard of morality. Objectivism holds that the good must be defined by a rational standard of value, that pleasure is not a first cause, but only a consequence, that only the pleasure which proceeds from a rational value judgment can be regarded as moral, that pleasure, as such, is not a guide to action nor a standard of morality. To say that pleasure should be the standard of morality simply means that whichever values you happen to have chosen, consciously or subconsciously, rationally or irrationally, are right and moral. This means that you are to be guided by chance feelings, emotions and whims, not by your mind. My philosophy is the opposite of hedonism.” — Ayn Rand

“Man has a single basic choice: to think or not, and that is the gauge of his virtue. Moral perfection is an unbreached rationality—not the degree of your intelligence, but the full and relentless use of your mind, not the extent of your knowledge, but the acceptance of reason as an absolute.” — Ayn Rand

“You love people, not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for their values; their virtues.” — Ayn Rand

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.” — Ayn Rand

“I want to see, real, living, and in the hours of my own days, that glory I create as an illusion. I want it real. I want to know that there is someone, somewhere, who wants it, too. Or else what is the use of seeing it, and working, and burning oneself for an impossible vision? A spirit, too, needs fuel. It can run dry.” — Ayn Rand

“If a man wants love he should correct his weaknesses, or his flaws, and he may deserve it. But he cannot expect the unearned, either in love or in money; either in matter or in spirit.” — Ayn Rand

Eric Raymond

“The future belongs to those who show up to build it. Shut up and show us the code.” — Eric Raymond

John Sheehan

“You will know me for the things that I make, not the things that I say.” — John Sheehan

Linus Torvalds

“I’m always right. This time I’m just even more right than usual.” — Linus Torvalds

“Some people have told me they don’t think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph. They’d be a lot more careful about what they say if they had.” — Linus Torvalds

“The first thing [people get wrong about open source projects] is thinking that you can throw things out there and ask people to help… That’s not how it works. You make it public, and then you assume that you’ll have to do all the work, and ask people to come up with suggestions of what you should do, not what they should do. Maybe they’ll start helping eventually, but you should start off with the assumption that you’re going to be the one maintaining it and ready to do all the work… If you start off with some ‘kumba-ya feeling’ where you think people from all the world are going to come together to make a better world by working together on your project, you probably won’t be going very far.” — Linus Torvalds

Mark Twain

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” — Mark Twain

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

Ludwig von Mises

“The first thing a genius needs is to breath free air.” — Ludwig von Mises

“…the only means to well-being is to increase the quantity of products. This is what business aims at.” — Ludwig von Mises

“He who accepts life for what it is and never allows himself to be overwhelmed by it does not need to seek refuge for his crushed self-confidence in the solace of a ‘saving lie’.  If the longed-for success is not forthcoming, if the vicissitudes of fate destroy in the twinkling of an eye what had to be painstakingly built up by years of hard work, then he simply multiplies his exertions.  He can look disaster in the eye without despairing.” — Ludwig von Mises

Larry Wall

“Even if you aren’t in doubt, consider the mental welfare of the person who has to maintain the code after you, and who will probably put parens in the wrong place.” — Larry Wall

“I find this a nice feature but it is not according to the documentation. Or is it a BUG? Let’s call it an accidental feature.” — Larry Wall

“That which hits the fan tends to get flung in all directions.” — Larry Wall

Daniel Webster

“There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” — Daniel Webster

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