Gleanings from the Past #77

Ignorance Isaac Asimov Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves […]

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Quotable #77: War and Peace

“Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.” (“To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desolation and they call it peace.”) — Tacitus, Agricola, AD 98, translation by William Peterson “If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.” — Leo Tolstoy, War and […]

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Gleanings from the Past #76

A Little Irony People who didn’t need people need people around to know that they were the kind of people who didn’t need people. — Terry Pratchett, Maskerade, 1995 The Typewriter The type-writer came Wednesday night, and is already beginning to have its effect on me. Of course it doesn’t work: if I can persuade […]

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Quotable #76: Perfection

“Perfectionist — a person who takes great pains, and gives even greater pains to others.” — Changing Times, Vol. 12, January 1958 “The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form.” — Stanley Randall “The only perfect people are those we do not know” — Madame de […]

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Gleanings from the Past #75

Coining New Words Carl Sagan Physicists had to invent words and phrases for concepts far removed from everyday experience. It was their fashion to avoid pure neologisms and instead to evoke, even if feebly, some analogous commonplace. The alternative was to name discoveries and equations after one another. This they did also. But if you […]

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Quotable #75: Communication

“O! what a thing it is, in a time of danger, and in the presence of death, the shining of a face upon a face! I have heard it broached that orders should be given in great new ships by electric telegraph. I admire machinery as much as any man, and am as thankful to […]

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Quotable #74: Collecting

“Is this not the collector’s exquisite pleasure, that his desire should know no bounds, should reach out into the infinite, should never know full possession which disappoints by its very completeness. O what joy to be able to postpone the fulfillment of desire to infinity!” — Georges Rodenbach, The Bells of Bruges, 1897 “Sometimes, looking […]

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Quotable #73: Ideas and Force

“On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées” — Victor Hugo, Histoire d’un Crime, 1852 (It literally translates to, “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.” A more popular paraphrased version of this is, “One cannot resist an idea whose time has […]

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Quotable #72: We Can’t Know Everything

“A person who thinks that he knows everything is not well informed.” — Chinese Proverb “As the island of knowledge grows, the surface that makes contact with mystery expands. When major theories are overturned, what we thought was certain knowledge gives way, and knowledge touches upon mystery differently. This newly uncovered mystery may be humbling […]

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Quotable #71: Sleight of Hand

As lookers-on feel most delight, That least perceive the Juggler’s Slight, And still the less they understand, The more th’ admire his Slight of Hand. — Samuel Butler, Hudibras, 1684

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