Quotes and other assorted aphorisms

Nothing in excess. Μηδὲν ἄγαν.

One of the Delphic maxims inscribed on the forecourt of the temple of Apollon in Delphi

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Robert J. Hanlon, as quoted in Murphy’s Law Book Two: More Reasons Why Things Go Wrong (1980)

You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’

Edgar Mitchell, lunar module pilot aboard Apollo 14 (1974)

THE DUDE (Bridges): Yeah? Well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

The Big Lebowski (1998), written by Ethan and Joel Coen, performed by Jeff Bridges

AGENT J (Smith): Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.

AGENT K (Jones): A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.

Men in Black (1997), written by Ed Solomon, performed by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones

The university is not engaged in making ideas safe for students. It is engaged in making students safe for ideas. Thus it permits the freest expression of views before students, trusting to their good sense in passing judgment on these views.

Clark Kerr, president of the University of California (1961)

There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of man-made evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf. These dogs advance deliberately, purposefully, the wilderness made flesh, their teeth yellow, their breath a-stink, while in the distance their owners witter, “He’s an old soppy really, just poke him if he's a nuisance,” and in the green of their eyes the red campfires of the Pleistocene gleam and flicker.

Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, Good Omens (1990)

ANDY (Considine): You do know there are more guns in the country than there are in the city. Everyone and their mums is packin’ round here!

NICHOLAS (Pegg): Like who?

ANDY: Farmers.

NICHOLAS: Who else?

ANDY: Farmers’ mums.

Hot Fuzz (2007), written by Edgar Wright, performed by Paddy Considine and Simon Pegg

The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.

Steven McGeady, paraphrasing Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki

A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.

אַ שפּראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמיי און פֿלאָט

Max Weinreich

‘I have this plan,’ Merlin says, ‘that for each formal scientific paper I ever publish, I will also write its dark twin, its underground mirror-piece — the true story of how the data for that cool, tidy hypothesis-evidence-proof paper actually got acquired. I want to write about the happenstance and the shaved bumblebees and the pissing monkeys and the drunken conversations and the fuck-ups that actually bring science into being. This is the frothy, mad network that underlies and interconnects all scientific knowledge — but about which we so rarely say anything.’

Robert Macfarlane, Underland (2019), pg. 108

The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)

I am nothing but a bloody amœba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.

Prince Philip, upon learning that the royal family would continue to bear the Windsor name