Saturday, August 26, 2023

Saturday Snippet: More maxims


A few months ago I put up selections from an anthology of sayings collected by Richard Wabrek.  I've been paging through the book since then, finding more and more useful nuggets.  It's the sort of book one can read for a year or more whenever one has a free moment, a page or two at a time.

I thought you'd enjoy a few more pages from the collection.

“The Republic was not established by cowards, and cowards will not preserve it.” — Elmer Davis, American journalist (1890–1958)

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.” — Walter Lippman, newspaper columnist (1889–1974)

Lippman was referred to as “the Father of Modern Journalism,” with all that implies about the manufacture of public opinion.

“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, author of The Last of the Mohicans (1789–1851)

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” — Goethe, German polymath (1749–1832)

“Why of course people don’t want war.  Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?  Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor England, nor for that matter Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to damage.  It works the same in any country.” — Herman Goering, World War I fighter ace, the second most powerful man in NAZI Germany, convicted, WWII war criminal (1893–1946)

Goering is right.  Who would have thought that the American public would support a war conducted by the incompetents who so recently displayed their talent during the Afghanistan withdrawal?

“You can do anything in this world if you’re prepared to take the consequences.” — W. Somerset Maugham, English author and playwright, educated as a physician (1874–1965)

“It’s a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.” — H.L. Mencken, American journalist and commentator (1880–1956)

“There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, And that is to have either a clear conscience, or none at all.” — Ogden Nash, American poet (1902–1971)

“Lex malla, lex nulla” or “An evil law, is no law.” — Thomas Aquinas, Italian saint and philosopher (1225–1274)

Four on the theme of stupidity:

“Evolution stops when stupidity is no longer fatal.” — Anonymous

“Evolution reverses when stupidity is rewarded.” — Anonymous

“There will always be a death penalty for stupidity.” — R. Wabrek

It just isn’t applied uniformly. All of us behave stupidly at times.  If we’re fortunate and do not persist in our stupidity, we may survive our lapses. Heinlein took a different view.

“Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation.  Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.” — Robert A. Heinlein in his book, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

“Self‑defense is not only our right, it is our duty.” — Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the US (1911–2004)

“We can stand affliction better than we can prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God.” — Dwight Lyman Moody, American evangelist, founder of the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers (1837–1899)

“We certainly can’t give students a quality degree, not with class size growing geometrically and our 30-to-1 [student-faculty] ratio, but at least we can encourage our students to have fun and root for our teams while they’re here... Football Saturdays are great here and so are winter basketball nights.  In our Admissions Office literature, we have stopped saying that we provide a good education; our lawyers warned us that we could get sued for misrepresentation, but we sure promote our sports teams.” — An anonymous administrator at a Sunbelt university quoted in Beer and Circus by Murray Sperber

I recommend Beer and Circus for an accurate depiction of higher education in the US around the new millennium. It might give you second thoughts about the value of higher education for all.  Murray Sperber was an English prof at Indiana U.  Shortly after the firing of IU Basketball Coach Bobby Knight for thuggish behavior, Sperber received death threats because earlier he had penned an editorial critical of the coach’s behavior.

“A .30–06 is sufficient to kill a lion.  It may not be sufficient to stop the lion killing you.” — JRB, The List

“I am always content with what happens; for I know that what God chooses is better than what I choose.” — Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher and former slave (50–135 AD)

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” — St. Augustine of Hippo, Berber Christian theologian and philosopher (354–430)

“When you have nothing left but become aware that God is enough.” — A. Maude Royden, lecturer, author, and suffragette (1876–1956)

“If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.” — General George S. Patton, commander of the 7th US Army in World War II, and the 3rd US Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy (1885–1945)

“Back in the ‘20s, Will Rogers had an answer for those who believed that strength invited war. He said, ‘I’ve never seen anyone insult Jack Dempsey’ (world heavyweight champion at that time).” — Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the US (1911–2004)

“I wish they would remember that the charge to [Saint] Peter was ‘Feed my sheep’, not ‘Try experiments on my rats’, or even ‘Teach my performing dogs new tricks’.”  — C.S. Lewis, British writer and Christian apologist (1898–1963)

“Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.” — Elton Trueblood, American Quaker author and theologian (1900–1994)

“Death comes with a crawl
Or comes with a pounce,
And whether he’s slow or spry,
It’s not the fact that you’re dead that counts,
But only – How did you die?”
— Edmund Vance Cooke, Canadian poet (1866–1932)

“When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up your remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier.”
— Rudyard Kipling, English author and poet (1865 –1936)

Kipling was born in India when it was under control of the Brits.  You may be familiar with his stories: The Man Who Would Be King, The Jungle Book, and Kim, all of which were rendered as films.

In Latin America US President Jimmy Carter had the nickname, “La mujer bionica, the bionic woman—because he had a lot of power and no balls.” — Anonymous, but probably from Gunsite Gossip

“When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen’s constitutional rights, it acts lawlessly and the citizen can take matters into his own hands and proceed on the basis that such a law is no law at all.” — William O. Douglas, associate justice of the US Supreme Court (1898–1980)

“I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.” — Sir Thomas Moore in the film, A Man for All Seasons (1966)

“When the man said ‘Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’, I just naturally assumed he was making a delivery.” — Anonymous

“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.” — Confucius or perhaps a Celtic proverb

“The best toys are the ones that you can put an eye out with.” — Anonymous

“We may see the small value God has for riches by the people he gives them to.” — Alexander Pope, English poet and satirist (1688–1744)

Another. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” — Alexander Pope, in An Essay On Criticism

“The right of revolution is an inherent one.  When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression, if they are strong enough, whether by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable.” — Ulysses S. Grant, most successful US Army general in the Civil War and 18th president of the US (1822–1885)

If that one doesn’t surprise you, how about this? “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.” — President Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address

“If you don’t have a metal detector, I don’t have a gun.” — Anonymous

“Character, not circumstances, makes the man.” — Booker T. Washington, American educator, author, orator, and advisor to several presidents of the United States (1856–1915)

“Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.” — General Dwight D. Eisenhower, five-star general during WWII and subsequently the 34th president of the US (1890–1969)

The voice of experience.

“No indulgence of passion destroys the spiritual nature so much as respectable selfishness.” — George MacDonald, Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister (1824–1905)

“Never undertake anything for which you wouldn’t have the courage to ask the blessing of heaven.” — G.C. Lichtenberg, German physicist (1742–1799)


“It is almost impossible to bear the torch of truth through a crowd without singeing somebody’s beard.” — Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Notebook G

“Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator ... This will of his maker is called the law of nature.” — Sir William Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, a legal classic in Britain and the USA (1723–1780)

“The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident.” — Charles Lamb, English essayist (1775–1834)

“I hate violence!  I hate it so much I am willing to kill anyone who tries to use it against me.” — Mike Waidelich, Bakersfield, CA Police Department Rangemaster (1942–2021)

I never had the pleasure of meeting Mike Waidelich; my loss.  He was responsible for training the BPD to such an exceptional level that Los Angeles officers were known to say: “Oh. You’re from BAKERSFIELD. Our bank robbers go there to get killed.” The hit-ratio statistic for Mike’s students was an unheard-of 85% in an era when the national figure was approximately 15%.  Mike’s quote appeared in a letter to the editor in The Bakersfield Californian, May 7, 2012.

“...there are two ways of fighting: by law or by force. The first is the way natural to men, and the second to beast. But as the first way often proves inadequate one must needs have recourse to the second.” — Niccoló Machiavelli, Italian diplomat, author, philosopher, and historian; best known for his political primer, The Prince, in the same (1469–1527)

“Fight back!  Whenever you are offered violence, fight back!  The aggressor does not fear the law, so he must be taught to fear you.  Whatever the risk; and at whatever the cost, fight back!” — Jeff Cooper, Lt. Colonel of Marines and the father of modern practical shooting (1920–2006)

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.” — Ecclesiastes 9:11, The Bible

Mr. Runyon offered the following modification to the Biblical observations.

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.” — Damon Runyon, American newspaperman and author (1880–1946)

“Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms...the right of the citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.” — Vice President of the US Hubert Humphrey, “Know Your Law Makers”, Guns Magazine, Feb. 1960

The late Senator Humphrey was a pro-gun Democrat, an extinct species at this writing.

“A personal commitment to fighting one’s way through to the end is necessary for any successful warrior. Fighting, once initiated, is a job from which one cannot resign.” — Anonymous

“If you sit, just sit. If you walk, just walk. But, whatever you do, don’t wobble!” — Yunmen Wenyan, founder of a major sect of Chinese Zen (862–949)

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings.  The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” — Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War, statesman, soldier, and writer (1874–1965)

“If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.” — David Hackworth, highly decorated US Army colonel (1930–2005)

“If you find yourself in a fair fight...your tactics suck!” — Anonymous

This is an updated (coarser) version of Col. Hackworth’s quote.  It has been attributed to so many that I cannot specify a source with any confidence.

“D.R.T. = Dead Right There” — a term of art from Randy Cain, firearms instructor

“I refused to attend his funeral.  But, I wrote a very nice letter explaining that I approved of it.” — usually attributed to Mark Twain, but more likely first stated with minor variation by E. R. Hoar, American politician, lawyer, jurist, and US attorney general (1816–1895)

There are thousands more in the book.  Excellent browsing material, and often highly informative and educational.  (If you missed my first set of excerpts from "Deplorable Wisdom", you'll find it here.)



Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

A potential for your collection

Old guy said...

I thought that this snippet was going to be about machine guns.

XTphreak said...

My personal Heinlein favorites:

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
Robert A. Heinlein

Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.”
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
Robert A. Heinlein

“Never try to outstubborn a cat.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

“There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

and the all time favorite:

“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Beyond This Horizon

I think I had eagerly devoured all of his writing while in Junior High.
Definitely had an effect in shaping my personal philosophy.

Anonymous said...

C.S. Lewis was Irish not British

Old NFO said...

Interesting insights as always...

Tree Mike said...

XTphreak, roger that.
Peter, that was great. This article took me to the previous posting, that I somehow over looked. A most useful, enjoyable read this Sunday morning. Will be ordering the book.
Thanks, and hope yer aches and pains are subdued.