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Behrooz Parhami's Favorite Quotations

This page was created in March 2009 as an outgrowth of a section entitled "Favorite Quotes" in Professor Parhami's personal page. The list includes both serious and humorous quotations. Some items would fit into multiple categories, so their inclusion within a particular category is rather arbitrary. Most entries come from secondary sources, so accuracy in wording or attribution is not guaranteed.

The letter Q in different typefaces

Glass door with quote-marks handles

On Love and Friendship
On Life and Time
On Home and Family
On Fathers and Fatherhood
On Character and Disposition
On Work and Success
On Society and Politics
On Truth and Convictions
On Teaching and Creativity
On Science and Technology
On Computers and Computing
Miscellaneous Quotations

On Love and Friendship

"Getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them." Norman Vincent Peale

"Love is a strange commodity, because you can't import it if you don't also export it." Copyright by Ashleigh Brilliant (Pot-Shots)

"In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing." Mignon McLaughlin

"A friend is one who knows all about you and likes you anyway." Christi M. Warner

"When a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it." Edgar Watson Howe

"Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow." Swedish proverb

"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." Erica Jong

"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." Dorothy Neville

"A gossip is someone who talks to you about others, a bore is someone who talks to you about himself, and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself." Lisa Kirk

On Life and Time

"You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth." H. L. Mencken

"Your life is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened." Wayne Muller

"The secret of life is not to do what you like, but to like what you do." Anonymous

"In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back." Charles Schulz

"Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us." L. Thomas Holdcroft

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser." John W. Gardner

"Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes." Andy Rooney

"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot." Charlie Chaplin

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. ... Learn as if you were to live forever." Mahatma Gandhi

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

"Don't be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin." Grace Hansen

"Look over your shoulder now and then to be sure someone's following you." Henry Gilmer

"Almost every man wastes part of his life attempting to display qualities which he does not possess." Samuel Johnson

"An autobiography is the story of how a man thinks he lived." Herbert Samuel

"Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Hector Berlioz

"Experience is a comb which nature gives us when we are bald." Chinese proverb

"Remember that as a teenager you are in the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear the phone is for you." Fran Leibowitz

"The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest. You are always asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down." T. S. Eliot

"There are so many things that we wish we had done yesterday, so few that we feel like doing today." Mignon McLaughlin

"Life is a long lesson in humility." James M. Barrie

On Home and Family

"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you." Christian Morgenstern

"The woman cries before the wedding and the man after." Polish proverb

"Before marriage, a man will lie awake all night thinking about something you have said; after marriage, he'll fall asleep before you finish saying it." Helen Rowland

"To marry a second time represents the triumph of hope over experience." Samuel Johnson

"Spouse: Someone who'll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn't have had if you'd stayed single." Anonymous

"Children are a great comfort in your old age -- and they help you reach it faster too." Lionel Kauffman

"Give to a pig when it grunts and a child when it cries, and you will have a fine pig and a bad child." Danish proverb

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." James Baldwin

"Parents can tell but never teach, unless they practice what they preach." Arnold Glasow

On Fathers and Fatherhood

"A father carries pictures where his money used to be." Anonymous

"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." Mark Twain

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope." Bill Cosby

"To be a successful father, there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years." Ernest Hemingway

"When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry." Jewish Proverb

"A man knows he is growing old because he begins to look like his father." Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"He who is taught to live upon little owes more to his father's wisdom than he who has a great deal left him does to his father's care." William Penn

"The fundamental defect with fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them." Bertrand Russell

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." Anne Sexton

"It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing, but there is a special place in heaven for the father who takes his daughter shopping." John Sinor

"We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow. Our wiser sons, no doubt will think us so." Alexander Pope

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong." Charles Wadworth

"I must study politics and war so that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." John Adams

On Character and Disposition

"You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough." Frank Crane, author of Four-Minute Essays

"It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Chinese proverb

"You never find happiness until you stop looking for it." Chuang Tzu

"We are here on earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don't know." W. H. Auden

"As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it." Lao-Tzu

"The highest perfection of politeness is only a beautiful edifice, built, from the base to the dome, of graceful and gilded forms of charitable and unselfish lying." Mark Twain

"If your thought is a rose, you are a rose garden; and if it is a thistle, you are fuel for the fire." Rumi (Masnavi)

"Pessimist: a man who thinks everybody as nasty as himself, and hates them for it." George Bernard Shaw

"To the optimist all doors have handles and hinges; to the pessimist, all doors have locks and latches." William Arthur Ward

"There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist." Mark Twain

"An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?" Michael de StPierre

"The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances." Martha Washington

"What you cannot enforce, do not command." Socrates

"We grow a little every time we do not take advantage of somebody's weakness." Bern Williams

"All human wisdom is summed up in two words—wait and hope." Alexandre Dumas the Elder

"Integrity is so perishable in the summer months of success." Vanessa Redgrave

"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade; it makes the hand bleed that uses it." Rabindranath Tagore

"It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own." Jessamyn West

"There is no wise response to a foolish remark." Rumanian proverb

"Silence is the best response to fools." Persian proverb

"Language is a wonderful thing. It can be used to express thoughts, to conceal thoughts, but more often, to replace thinking." Kelly Fordyce

"Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open." James Dewar

"To err is human to blame it on someone else is even more human." Jacob's law

"Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few." Benjamin Franklin

"Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened." Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

"Tact: The art of saying nothing when there is nothing to say." Anonymous

"We make our own hell out of the people around us." Jean-Paul Sartre

On Work and Success

"A committee takes hours to put into minutes what can be done in seconds." Judy Castrina

"A meeting is an event in which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost." Gourd's axiom

"If A equals success, then the formula is A = X + Y + Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut." Albert Einstein

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." Japanese proverb

"Always behave like a duck -- keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath." Jacob Braude

"That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest." Henry David Thoreau

"Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress." Alfred A. Montapert

"If you want people to think you wise, just agree with them." Jewish folk saying

"It's not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted." Marie O'Conner

"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my ax." Abraham Lincoln

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." Effie Jones

"Ever Tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Samuel Beckett

"I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific." Lilly Tomlin

"A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized." Fred Allen

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up and does not stop until you get into the office." Robert Frost

"Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money." Anonymous

"I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest to make money they don't want to buy things they don't need to impress people they dislike." Emile Henry Gauvreau

"The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of malcontents." Salvador Dali

On Society and Politics

"Politics is not what it pretends to be, the expression of a collective will. Politics breathes well only where this will is multiple, hesitant, confused, and obscure even to itself." Michel Foucault, in Corriere della Sera, November 5, 1978

"Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other." Oscar Ameringer

"Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?" Peg Bracken

"A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains." Robert Frost

"What the insurance companies have done is to reverse the business so that the public at large insures the insurance companies." Gerry Spence (trial lawyer)

"If I am selling to you I will speak English, but if you are selling to me, dan mussen sie Deutsch sprechen." Willi Brandt, Former Chancellor of West Germany

"To deceive a politician, speak the truth; he has no experience with it." Greek proverb

"Never believe anything until it's been officially denied." Claud Cockburn

"A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer." Robert Frost

"Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a potbelly, and still think they are beautiful." Anonymous

"Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition." Anonymous (seen on a bumper sticker)

"Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers." Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook (1963)

"Under capitalism man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." Hedrick Smith (reporting a Moscow street joke)

"The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression." H. L. Mencken

"The draft is white people sending black people to fight yellow people to protect the country they stole from red people." Gerome Ragni and James Rado, Hair (1967)

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." Oscar Wilde

"Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new." Henry David Thoreau

On Truth and Convictions

"What is not surrounded by uncertainty cannot be the truth." Richard P. Feynman

"Truth is the offspring of silence and meditation." Isaac Newton

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it." Andre Gide, So Be It (1959)

"Men occasionally stumble on the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." Winston Churchill

"My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right." Copyright by Ashleigh Brilliant

"Truth is a river that is always splitting up into arms that reunite. Islanded between the arms, the inhabitants argue for a lifetime as to which is the main river." Cyril Connolly

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.." H. Jackson Browne

"The villain is the hero of his own story." Anonymous

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." Albert Einstein

"Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age." Albert Einstein

"You should not put too much trust in any unproved conjecture, even if it has been propounded by a great authority, even if it has been propounded by yourself. You should try to prove it or disprove it ..." George Polya

"We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others." Blaise Pascal

On Teaching and Creativity

"Teaching is the greatest act of optimism." Colleen Wilcox

"You teach best what you most need to learn." Richard Bach

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Albert Einstein

"The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas." Linus Pauling

"Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance." Will Durant

"Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. At home a friend, abroad an introduction, in solitude a solace, and in society an ornament. It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives, at once, grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage." Joseph Addison, The Spectator (1711-1712)

"Of course there's a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates ...." A. Lawrence Lowell

"For any idea that does not appear bizarre at first, there is no hope." Niels Bohr

"I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter." Blaise Pascal

". . . it is an error to believe that rigor in proof is an enemy of simplicity. On the contrary we find it confirmed by numerous examples that the rigorous method is at the same time the simpler and the more comprehensible one. The very effort for rigor forces us to find simpler proof methods." David Hilbert, Mathematische Probleme (1900)

"In a very real sense, the writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratifications, is a curious anticlimax." Alfred Kazin

"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." Samuel Johnson

"The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution." Albert Einstein

"I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when looked at in the right way, did not become even more complicated." Poul Anderson

"Professor: One who talks in someone else's sleep." W.H. Auden

On Science and Technology

"When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it's only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it's two hours. That's relativity." Albert Einstein

"Remember, then, that scientific thought is the guide of action; that the truth at which it arrives is not that which we can ideally contemplate without error, but that which we may act upon without fear; . . . scientific thought is not an accompaniment or condition of human progress, but human progress itself." William K. Clifford

". . . nations in their great ages have not been great in art or science, but in art and science." J. Bronowski, The Common Sense of Science

"What we know is a drop, what we don't know, an ocean." Isaac Newton

"Art is meant to disturb. Science reassures." Georges Braque, Le Jour et La Nuit

"The mathematician's pattern, like a painter's or the poet's, must be beautiful. . . . Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics." Godfrey Harold Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology (1940)

"The scientist describes what is; the engineer creates what never was." Theodore von Karman

"All generalizations are dangerous, even this one." Alexandre Dumas

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Good mathematicians see analogies between theories; great mathematicians see analogies between analogies." Stefan Banach

"I think of lotteries as a tax on the mathematically challenged." Roger Jones

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." Albert Einstein

"Many a man fails to become a thinker only because his memory is too good." Nietzsche

"Science: The creation of dilemmas by the solution of mysteries." Leonard L. Levinson

On Computers and Computing

"The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim." Edsgar W. Dijkstra

"If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use? Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens." Seymour Cray, objecting to massively parallel processing

"The mathematically sophisticated will know how to skip formulae. This skill is easy to practice for others also." Leslie G. Valiant, Circuits of the Mind (1994)

"Often, I come across an idea that I then try to turn into a problem and solution. It's like finding an arrow sticking in a wall, drawing a bull's-eye around it, and telling people what a great marksman I am." Leslie Lamport

"Before software can be reusable it first has to be usable." Ralph Johnson

"Software stands between the user and the machine." Harlan D. Mills

"A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable." Leslie Lamport

"Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up." Anonymous

"The most important thing in the programming language is the name. A language will not succeed without a good name. I have recently invented a very good name and now I am looking for a suitable language." Donald E. Knuth

Miscellaneous Quotations

None at this time.