"The condition of man is already close to satiety and arrogance, and there is danger of destruction of everything in existence."

- a Brahmin to Onesicritus, 327 BC, reported in Strabo's Geography (Jones trans.)

"Many large and high class greengrocers of my acquaintance have never heard of the Golden Wonder potato."

- Roy Genders, Vegetables for the Epicure

"A prize poem is like a prize sheep. The object of the competitor for the agricultural premium is to produce an animal fit, not to be eaten, but to be weighed. Accordingly he pampers his victim into morbid and unnatural fatness; and, when it is in such a state that it would be sent away in disgust from any table, he offers it to the judges. The object of the poetical candidate, in like manner, is to produce, not a good poem, but a poem of that exact degree of frigidity or bombast which may appear to his censors to be correct or sublime. Compositions thus constructed will always be worthless."

- Macaulay, "On the Royal Society of Literature"

The sons of Hermes love to play,
And only do their best when they
Are told they oughtn't;
Apollo's children never shrink
From boring jobs but have to think
Their work important.

- Auden, Upon Which Lyre

"Many big people were chasing me. I didn't know what to do. So I thought I would surprise them and throw it."

- Armenian-born Garo Yepremian, Miami placekicker, after a disastrous attempt to throw a pass in the Super Bowl.

"The art of handling university students is to make oneself appear, and this almost ostentatiously, to be treating them as adults, while keeping them in invisible harness and even, when necessary, giving them a flick of the whip."

- Arnold Toynbee, Experiences

"America does four things better than any other country in the world: rock music, movies, software and high-speed pizza delivery. All of these are sacred American art forms."

- Courtney Love (apparently quoting Neal Stephenson)

"But the audience is right. They're always, always right. You hear directors complain that the advertising was lousy, the distribution is no good, the date was wrong to open the film. I don't believe that. The audience is never wrong. Never."

- William Friedkin, in a NYT interview

"Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are."

- Charles J. Sykes' advice to teenagers

"Frankly, I don't think you could have driven a needle up my sphincter using a sledgehammer."

- Col. Barry Horne, F-117 pilot, on first mission over Baghdad

"Get up very early and get going at once, in fact work first and wash afterwards."

- Auden

"Such is the power of reputation justly acquired that its blaze drives away the eye from nice examination. Surely no man could have fancied that he read Lycidas with pleasure had he not known its author."

- Johnson, Lives of the Poets

"The whole world is put in motion by the wish for riches and dread of poverty."

- Johnson, Rambler 178

"The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe."

- Einstein, reported in NYT, 1946

"The terror of the atom age is not the violence of the new power but the speed of man's adjustment to it-- the speed of his acceptance."

- E. B. White, "Notes on Our Time," 1954

"A subeditor can do no worse disservice to the text before him and thus to the writer, the reader, and the newspaper, than to impose his or her own preferences for words, for the shape of sentences and how they link, for a pedantic insistence on grammar in all cases as it used to be taught in school; in the process destroying nuances and possibly even the flow of a piece."

- Michael McNay, The Guardian Style Guide

"Americans are overreaching; overreaching is the most admirable and most American of the many American excesses."

- George Will, Statecraft as Soulcraft

"The best writing is rewriting."

- E. B. White

"Neither the Smithsonian Institution or its successors, nor any museum or other agency, bureau or facilities administered for the United States of America by the Smithsonian Institution or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the Wright Aeroplane of 1903, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight."

- Clause in the agreement to allow the Smithsonian to display the Wrights' plane

"The public should always be wondering how it is possible to give so much for the money."

- Henry Ford

"From this place she sent into the world those novels, which by many have been placed on the same shelf as the works of a D'Arblay and an Edgeworth."

- Henry Austen on his sister Jane, in a preface to Persuasion

"Hanging out and public drinking declined. So did the carrying of guns, in light of regular police pat-downs. Young men on the block, reluctant to credit the police, today describe carrying weapons as 'outdated.'"

- Amy Waldman, in a NYT article, on the effects of Giuliani's crackdown

"Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all."

- Winston Churchill

"The economic depression that struck Europe in the fourteenth century was followed ultimately by economic and technological recovery. But the depression we have moved into will have no end. We can anticipate centuries of decline and exhaustion."

- Jean Gimpel, The Medieval Machine, 1975

"Nowhere in his essays, short stories or dramatised dialogues is there any humour, sex or surprise. His writing conjures up fields of grey ectoplasm inhabited by plaintive souls. If Gibran is right about the universe, then we are all living in a banal and sentimental nightmare."

- Robert Irwin on Kahlil Gibran in LRB

"The feminists all knew of Gurian's book and several were familiar with its contents. But none of the scientists had heard of it, and they declined to comment further without reading it."

- book review in the Monitor

"The refugee question has derailed previous peace efforts because Israel fears the return of Palestinians to what is now Israel would destroy the state's Jewish character. "

- AP article

"So far it looks pretty good: Ramallah has not turned out to be another Stalingrad."

- Moshe Arens uses more metaphor than he intended

"People who read Cosmopolitan magazine are very different from those who do not."

- Donald Berry, Statistics: A Bayesian Perspective

"Who knows how many Silver Surfers, Demons, New Gods, Deathloks, Ambush Bugs, Cables, Shatterstars, Ferals, Elektras, Mr. As, Ronins, Shrapnels, Terminuses, Alpha Flights, and many others aren't being created, because artists are being overshadowed by lazy writers?"

- Erik Larsen

"An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men."

- Thomas Fuller

"Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

- James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1798

"African-Americans are almost invisible, especially in Renaissance art."

- Renee Cox

"Last time I checked, there were no Americans at all in Renaissance art."

- Camille Paglia

"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about."

- Einstein

"The silk hat, which has now become co-extensive with civilization, is an article of comparatively recent introduction."

- 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

"Wit is educated insolence."

- Aristotle

"Two centuries later a most clear-sighted historian of the Second Crusade can find space in a short narrative to record on many occasions the flattery, perjury, perfidy, blasphemy, heresy, arrogance, servility, deceit, pride, cunning and infidelity of the Greeks."

- R. W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials."

- Lin Yutang

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

- Brandeis

"I am annoyed to find myself continually described by people whom I have never set eyes on as bad-tempered."

- Evelyn Waugh, Diary (26 Dec 47)

"Wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. And radio operates exactly the same way. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Einstein

"The world's two most populous countries, China and India were close economic rivals just two decades ago, each struggling to bring progress to vast numbers of impoverished peasants. But now China, by quickly converting much of its economy to an unfettered and even rapacious version of capitalism, has surged far ahead. The average Chinese citizen now earns $890 a year, compared with $460 for the typical Indian, according to the World Bank."

- Keith Bradsher, NYT, 29 Nov 02

"It is not only the juror's right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court."

- John Adams

"Crack is cheap. I make too much for me to ever smoke crack."

- Whitney Houston to Diane Sawyer

"In France those absurd perversions of the art of war which covered themselves under the name of chivalry were more omnipotent than in any other country of Europe. The strength of the armies of Philip and John of Valois was composed of a fiery and undisciplined aristocracy which imagined itself to be the most efficient military force in the world, but which was in reality little removed from an armed mob."

- C. W. C. Oman, The Art of War in the Middle Ages

"Modern invention has been a great leveller. A machine may operate far more quickly than a political or economic measure to abolish privilege and wipe out the distinctions of class or finance."

- Ivor Brown, The Heart of England

"Many who burnt heretics in the ordinary way of their business were otherwise excellent people."

- G. M. Trevelyan, "Bias in History"

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

- Feynman, Appendix to the Rogers Commission Report

"Nobody has got a vital enough sensibility to be unceasingly susceptible to aesthetic impressions all the time, even if he has the time or the health or the money. This its exponents found. Their lives were all disappointing to them because they could not maintain themselves in the ecstasy which in their view was the only right condition in which man should live."

- David Cecil, on Romanticism, in his essay on Rossetti

"The C.I.A. has warned that terrorists based in Iraq are planning attacks against American and allied forces inside the country after any invasion, government counterterrorism officials say."

- NYT reports CIA's clever discovery that an invading army might meet resistance

"Only Jockey has the "friendly" pouch structurally perfected for gentle, bracing, bouyant uplift."

- Underwear ad, Life, Oct 22, 1945

"Moving like a phosphorescent fish in the sub-aqueous tides of Nature she possesses the fatal power of squirting between the seams of his diver's dress this terrible fear-fluid sucked up from the ocean floor."

- John Cowper Powys, The Art of Happiness

"She is very mean, and a tremendous drinker. Hammett's achievement is to convey the charm and sexual attractiveness of this untidy girl."

- Julian Symonds on Hammett's Red Harvest

"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

- Lincoln, speech, 18 Dec 1840

"Summers's indifference to propriety was bracing for students wearily accustomed to the agonized sensitivity that has more or less become semiofficial campus culture."

- James Traub in NYT Magazine on Larry Summers

"Americans spend an average of four hours a day watching TV, an hour of that enduring ads. That adds up to an astounding 10% of total leisure time; at current rates, a typical viewer fritters away three years of his life getting bombarded with commercials."

- Scott Woolley, Forbes

"He became an object of ridicule in 1993 when a paper published an intercepted phone call in which he told his lover Camilla Parker Bowles he wanted to be reincarnated as her tampon."

- Reuters story, on Prince Charles