My Favorite Quotes

  • To know all is to forgive all.
    • This is the big lesson I got from reading Frankenstein: the world is deterministic like a bunch of billiard balls knocking into each other.  If someone does something that upsets you, it's because of the combination of their genes and the environment, and once you understand what is leading a person to behave in a certain way, you may find your angry feelings towards that person dissipate.  I don't fully understand why this happens, but I've experienced it many times.
  • If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.
    • Frank Zappa
    • I don't agree with the "then you deserve it", but I agree with the underlying idea that if you unthinkingly follow whatever the authority figures are telling you to do with your life, you may end up less happy (perhaps significantly less happy).  So if your happiness is your main objective in life, then you should spend a lot of time making up your own mind about how to live.
  • [Bill Gates Sr.] had us, a group of about 20, write down on a sheet of paper one word that they thought accounted for their success. And Bill [Gates] and I, who may have only met twice, didn't know what the other one was writing down, we both wrote down the same word, which was 'focus'.
  • Focusing is about saying 'No'.
  • A couple days ago I finally got being a good startup founder down to two words: relentlessly resourceful. Till then the best I'd managed was to get the opposite quality down to one: hapless.

  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people don't want to do, or have a very difficult time doing, and that is: keeping yourself going when nothing's working, when everyone else is saying 'No, no, no, no, no'.
  • To get what you've never had, you're going to have to do what you've never done.
    • put another way: If you do what everyone else does, you're going to end up with what everyone else has.
    • put another way: Yes, this [thing I'm doing] is weird. What I'm doing is weird. And that's the point. If it wasn't weird, there wouldn't be as much of an advantage to it.
  • In the first fire-engines, a boy was constantly employed to open and shut alternately the communication between the boiler and the cylinder, according as the piston either ascended or descended. One of those boys, who loved to play with his companions, observed that, by tying a string from the handle of the valve which opened this communication to another part of the machine, the valve would open and shut without his assistance, and leave him at liberty to divert himself with his playfellows. One of the greatest improvements that has been made upon this machine, since it was first invented, was in this manner the discovery of a boy who wanted to save his own labour.

    All the improvements in machinery, however, have by no means been the inventions of those who had occasion to use the machines. Many improvements have been made by the ingenuity of the makers of the machines, when to make them became the business of a peculiar trade; and some by that of those who are called philosophers or men of speculation, whose trade it is not to do anything, but to observe everything; and who, upon that account, are often capable of combining together the powers of the most distant and dissimilar objects. In the progress of society, philosophy or speculation becomes, like every other employment, the principal or sole trade and occupation of a particular class of citizens.

    • Source: Adam Smith, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

    • I like this quote because it describes a strong interest of mine.
  • It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
    • Teddy Roosevelt
  • "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

    So, is that Tyson's favorite all-time quote of his own? Actually, no.

    "Mine is, 'A man that’s a friend of everyone is an enemy to himself,' " he said.

  • Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.
    • What I take away from this quote is: life goes by quickly.  It's easy to let it slip by without achieving your long-term goals.  So be vigilant about how you spend your time.
  • We must remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who is trained in the severest school.
    • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
  • Yes actually this is a buds student in second phase you will soon find out that pst scores don't matter at all when you get there. the best thing you can do to prepare yourself Is to not think "just do." when you start thinking that's when you fuck yourself mentaly.
    • This was taken from the comments on a YouTube video showing a BUD/S student doing the famous "o-course" (obstacle course) on the San Diego beach in a very short amount of time.
    • This really resonated with me because I think one of my major weaknesses is overthinking things and not actually doing things.  Related: IBM's "say:do ratio".
    • On the other hand, I have heard from others who went through BUD/S who said that thinking about what you're doing can give you a big edge over others.  For example, you should not just go all-out for every exercise, just focus on not being the guy at the back who is going to get singled out for punishment.  And you should not let others take advantage of you, for example by having you bear more of the weight of the boat/log.
  • Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
    • Mary Anne Radmacher
    • I first saw this as a chapter-opening quote in the book 'Bigger, Leaner, Stronger'.
  • Balzac said that for writers, including novelists, the most essential and necessary thing is the forbearance to face the dull task of writing one word at a time. That is the first requirement for any writer. (...) The most essential thing [in Balzac's success in writing a lot] was to have the patience to write one word at a time until you reach the required length. Too many people lack that patience. Once you get used to it, you'll be able to write with no trouble. (...) The tedious task of writing has to become second nature to you. If you sit down and write quietly the whole day, you'll have written at least two or three pages, even if it's a struggle. And if you keep at it, you'll eventually have a couple hundred pages. I think young people today don't know the trick of it. They start and want to get to the end right away. When you go mountain climbing, the first thing you're told is not to look at the peak but to keep your eyes on the ground as you climb. You just keep climbing patiently one step at a time. If you keep looking at the top, you'll get frustrated. I think writing is similar. You need to get used to the task of writing. You must make an effort to learn to regard it not as something painful but as routine. But most people tend to give up halfway. I tell my Assistant Directors that if they give up once, then that'll be it, because that becomes habit, and they'll give up as soon as it gets hard. I tell them to write all the way to the end no matter what, until they get to some sort of end. I say, "Don't ever quit, even if it gets hard midway". But when the going gets tough, they just give up.
    • Akira Kurosawa on the mental fortitude it takes to finish screenplays.
    • My thoughts:
      • How should a person decide it's not worth the effort?  Surely 'never give up on your projects' can't always be the right path to follow to live your happiest life.
  • If ya ain't got yer health, ya ain't got nothin'.
    • I vaguely remember this being attributed to someone's Jewish grandfather.
  • We got out of our harnesses and began to float around. The other folks went straight into somersaults and enjoying all the effects of weightlessness. I wanted no part in that. I wanted, needed to get to the window as quickly as possible to see what was out there.

    I looked down and I could see the hole that our spaceship had punched in the thin, blue-tinged layer of oxygen around Earth. It was as if there was a wake trailing behind where we had just been, and just as soon as I’d noticed it, it disappeared.

    I continued my self-guided tour and turned my head to face the other direction, to stare into space. I love the mystery of the universe. I love all the questions that have come to us over thousands of years of exploration and hypotheses. Stars exploding years ago, their light traveling to us years later; black holes absorbing energy; satellites showing us entire galaxies in areas thought to be devoid of matter entirely… all of that has thrilled me for years… but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold . . . all I saw was death.

    I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing. I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining, life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her.

    Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong.

    I had thought that going into space would be the ultimate catharsis of that connection I had been looking for between all living things—that being up there would be the next beautiful step to understanding the harmony of the universe. In the film “Contact,” when Jodie Foster’s character goes to space and looks out into the heavens, she lets out an astonished whisper, “They should’ve sent a poet.” I had a different experience, because I discovered that the beauty isn’t out there, it’s down here, with all of us. Leaving that behind made my connection to our tiny planet even more profound.

    It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna . . . things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind. It filled me with dread. My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.

    I learned later that I was not alone in this feeling. It is called the “Overview Effect” and is not uncommon among astronauts, including Yuri Gagarin, Michael Collins, Sally Ride, and many others. Essentially, when someone travels to space and views Earth from orbit, a sense of the planet’s fragility takes hold in an ineffable, instinctive manner.

    • William Shatner's reaction to going into space for the first time.
  • If I could only give one piece of advice to someone who wanted to get a 180 on the LSAT (or accomplish something else difficult), it would be this: Figure out how to get highly motivated. You will face many obstacles in your journey to a 180, each of which may require a completely different approach to be overcome; I can’t give you a single piece of advice that will tell you how to solve each problem you face. But if you are highly motivated you will try everything that you possibly can to get what you want; you will look under every rock, ask everyone you know for help, claw your way to your goal. The real trick is figuring out how to increase your motivation.
    • Me, in my LSAT guide.  I need to remind myself of this.
    • June 2023: Stimulants seem to be a powerful way of doing this.  I've recently started drinking coffee and working on my computer in my room all night with the lights off and it's very easy to put in many hours of work.
  • The battle of life is already half won by the young man who is brought personally in contact with high officials; and the great aim of every boy should be to do something beyond the sphere of his duties--something which attracts the attention of those over him.

    • Source: The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie