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Mahone’s Favorite Epigrams, Quotes, and Select Malapropisms
Wednesday, November 23, 2005   By: Mahone Dunbar

Mahone's stuff


Being that it’s Thanksgiving, and that I'm lazy (I've always considered my body just something that moves my brain from place to place), and near burnout, I thought I'd share with you my favorite wisdom that comes in short, revealing word bites. The following quotes cover a series of diverse topics that are of importance to me, including politics, philosophy, humor, existentialism, Zen, psychology, gross stupidity, and the French.

Each one of these bits of wisdom have contributed to my current lamentable state of mind, so consider yourself warned. Oh, and have a happy Thanksgiving.



We've begun at last to wonder about our origins, star stuff contemplating the stars, organized collections of ten billion billion billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness . . . "  Carl Sagan, Cosmos


It is there that true being dwells, without color or shape, that cannot be touched; reason alone, the soul's pilot, can behold it, and all true knowledge is knowledge thereof.  -  Plato (from Phaedrus, 247 B.C., referring to the nature of ultimate truth behind the cosmos)


(Queen) Do not for ever with thy veiled lids Seek for thy noble father in the dust.

Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.  -- William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Human Compulsions

When people are presented with the alternatives of hating themselves for their failure or hating others for their success, they seldom choose to hate themselves. --Thomas Sowell

Statistics As An Expression Of The Nature Of Reality

Improbable things happen frequently because there are lots of opportunities for them to occur.  -  Dr. Charles Bennett, NASA

To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of His purpose.  -  Florence Nightingale

Man can believe the impossible but never the improbable.  -  Oscar Wilde

Miracles happen, not in opposition to Nature, but in opposition to what we know of Nature.  -  St. Augustine



A Slave is he who cannot speak his thoughts. - Euripides

What Is Intelligence?

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.  - Albert Einstein


The Reality Of Humor

All humor is predicated upon pain.  - An old Eastern maxim

Comedy is merely tragedy happening to someone else.  -  William Claude Dunkinfield (W.C. Fields)

The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow.  - Mark Twain

All humor is based upon destruction and despair.  - Lenny Bruce

In a lot of comedy, there is darkness and an edge. So there is in life. The best humor comes out of unfortunate, black and dark moments. - Blake Edwards

I believe in Truth, Justice, and Levity for all. - Mahone Dunbar



Syllogism: Two truths and a conclusion



Guns don't kill people, physics kills people.  -  Dick Solomon, Third Rock From The Sun


Mark Twain

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.

When in doubt tell the truth.

Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.

It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart. The one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.


H.L. Mencken

Injustice is relatively easy to bear: what stings is justice.

The public . . . demands certainties . . . But there are no certainties.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.

Puritanism---the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

Faith is when you believe in something that nobody in their right mind would believe in. (Often paraphrased and attributed to Archie Bunker)


History And Government

None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers.  -  David Allen Stockman (Commenting on the 1981 U.S. budget)

History . . . is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.  - Edward Gibbon (Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire)

All that is Human must retrograde if it is not to advance.  - Edward Gibbon (Ibid)


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Art is long, life short; judgment difficult, opportunity transient.

A useless life is an early death.

Man errs as long as he strives.

What wise or stupid thing can man conceive that was not thought of in ages long ago?

There is strong shadow where there is much light.

More light. (His last words)


Science, Art, And Truth

Art upsets, science reassures.  - George Braque

What is progress but defiance of conventionality?  - Charles Fort (Lo!)

I think not of a widening of truth, but of a lessening of error. - Charles Fort

Truth exists, only falsehood has to be invented. - George Braque

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery. - James Joyce

It is one thing for the human mind to extract from the phenomena of Nature the laws which it has itself put into them; it may be a far harder thing to extract laws over which it has no control. It is even possible that laws which have their origin not in the mind may be irrational, and we can never succeed in formulating them.  - Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

In our description of nature the purpose is not to disclose the real essence of the phenomena but only to track down, so far a possible, relations between the manifold aspects of experience.  - Niels Bohr


History, Truth, And Wisdom

There is not history, only fictions of various degrees of plausibility. - Voltaire

Mankind developed in Africa. He has not continued to do so there. - P.J. O'Rouke

No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not some day be antiquated.  - Ellen Glasgow

Every scientist who has played a part in any developing science has, as can be shown, if he's been dead long enough, by comparing his views with more modern views, deceived himself.  - Charles Fort (Lo!)

If, in mentality, there is no absolute dividing-line between intellectuality and imbecility, all wisdom is partly idiocy.  - Charles Fort (Lo!)

Ignorance is preferable to error. He is less remote from truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.  - Thomas Jefferson

The world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time.  - St. Augustine


Reality And Violence

Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife.  - Oliver Wendall Holmes

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.  -  Chairman Mao

No people are ever more than three meals away from a revolution.  - Chairman Mao


Morality, Taste, And Character

Taste is not only a part of an index of morality--it is the only morality. The first, and last, and closest trial question to any living creature is, 'What do you like?' Tell me what you like, and I'll tell you what you are."  - John Ruskin (19th-century English critic)

A man's character is his fate - Heraclitus

Diligence is the mother of good fortune.  - Benjamin Franklin

Provided a man is not mad, he may be cured of every vice except vanity.  - R. Rousseau

"Because the future is uncertain and the past has disappeared, some thinkers have inferred that the present has no reality at all. It is said that Shankara, the teacher of Advaita Vedanta, who taught that the world is only an illusion, was present at a parade in India one day. As an elephant charged into a crowd, Shankara ran behind a tree. "Why do you run from the mere appearance of an elephant?" sarcastically asked a man. "I only appear to run," replied the philosopher.  - Andrew Tomas, Beyond The Time Barrier

"(P)rogress in science is usually made by dropping assumptions."  - Physicist David Bohm (replying to a question about the origin of the random phase assumption.)


Favorite Malapropisms From A Single Source

 I had her (his girlfriend) convicted from my house after she had tooken me to court to get a fraternity test.  - Defendant on the Judge Mathis Show



You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call "Failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down. - Mary Pickford



Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.  - Winston Churchill

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.  -  Socrates

Only a mediocre writer is always at his best.  - Somerset Maughan



The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.  - Thomas Jefferson

...if I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul."  - (Isaac Asimov)

. . . consider that it has taken us only about 150 years to transform an agrarian culture into an industrial society. But we made the quantum jump by reforming the ancient god-king system and rejecting the stranglehold of religion and superstition. Before 1848, the pivotal year in modern history, man had submerged himself in his spirituality and had spent nearly two thousand years groveling to a God he did not understand but dared not question.  - John A. Keel, The Eighth Tower


Pomposity And Pedantry From The Scion Of Infamy

"I remember I was expounding on the detriments of the Bush tax cut plan . . ."  - Chelsea Clinton on her memories of 9/11/01


Pretentiousness, Thy Name Is Kerry

I, too, was once an armed combatant.  - John Kerry, Vietnam vet

And Why Pretentiousness?

For the unsophisticated reader, I will explain that George writes, "encephalon" rather than "brain." Never use a simpler word when a more profound one is available. Just hope that abstruseness may be mistaken for erudition.  - James Randi, commenting on an email he received

Equality, in a social sense, may be divided into that of condition, and that of rights. Equality of condition is incompatible with civilization, and is found only to exist in those communities that are but slightly removed from the savage state. In practice, it can only mean a common misery.  - James Fenimore Cooper

"Dogs look up to you; cats look down on you; and pigs regard you as their equal."  - Winston Churchill


General Zen/Oriental

Sometimes even monkeys fall out of trees.

Now that my house has burned down, I have a much better view of the moon.

Take two birds and tie them together; and even though they have four wings between them, they cannot fly.  - Circle Of Iron


The French: Now, Then, And Forever

(Shamelessly gathered from another blog site)

France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes. - Mark Twain

I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.  - General George S. Patton

Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.  -  Norman Schwartzkopf

We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it.  - Marge Simpson

The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee.  - Regis Philbin

The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know.  - P.J O'Rourke

You know why the French don't want to bomb Saddam Hussein? Because he hates America, he loves mistresses and wears a beret. He is French, people.  - Conan O'Brien

I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get the Germans out of France!  - Jay Leno

The last time the French asked for 'more proof' it came marching into Paris under a German flag.  - David Letterman

As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure.-  Jacques Chirac, President of France

As far as France is concerned, you're right.  -  Rush Limbaugh


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren