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This is a collection of things I've found on Wikipedia or elsewhere that inspired me or struck my fancy.

Practical ethics

The raindrop never feels responsible for the flood.

— Unknown

[Y]ou can be so absolutely honest and so absolutely wrong at the same time that I think it is better to be a combination of cautious and polite.

I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.

What we call human nature in actuality is human habit.

Purpose, hope, duty

Why is light given to the toilers,
    life to the bitter in spirit?
They wait for death and it does not come;
    they search for it more than for hidden treasures.
They rejoice in it exultingly,
    and are glad when they find the grave.

I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the dark.

— Sarah Williams, The Old Astronomer[5]

Do you know what wasting your own time means? It means killing yourself. Literally. If a young musician puts a gun in his mouth and blows out his brain, everyone cries about how he cut his life short. But you know what? You're stealing just as much time from yourself by indulging in weird urges.

— Supervert, Necrophilia Variations[6]

My ideas are way out of line with current trends, and I see no particular point in staying around and being obnoxious.

Your own duty done imperfectly
    is better than another man's done well.
It is better to die in one's own duty;
    another man's duty is perilous.

— Bhagavad Gita 3:35[8]


What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

Art and beauty


The Beatles presented an opportunity for a convulsive national orgasm of sobbed joy, the life-affirming sex after the funeral.[10]

I'm really sorry and want you to know this is not fun for me.[11]

Tori Amos is a kind of piano-humping mystical feminist fairy creature writ large . . . .[12]

[S]wallowing is still a long process (15–20 minutes to swallow a goat). A Komodo dragon may attempt to speed up the process by ramming the carcass against a tree to force it down its throat, sometimes ramming so forcefully, the tree is knocked down.[13]

On Wikipedia

[E]diting Wikipedia is worse for your sense of perspective than M.C. Escher-designed beer goggles.[14]


  1. ^ Letter from Flannery O'Connor to "A." (April 21, 1956), in The Habit of Being 151, 152 (Sally Fitzgerald ed., Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1979).
  2. ^ Myrna Blyth, Kate Talks Straight, Ladies' Home J., Oct. 1991, at 123, 125 (internal quotation marks omitted).
  3. ^ Jewel Kilcher, Pieces of You at booklet front (Atlantic Records 1994).
  4. ^ Job 3:20–22 (NABRE) (final punctuation altered), available at
  5. ^ Sarah Williams, The Old Astronomer, in Twilight Hours 68, 69 (1868), available at
  6. ^ Supervert, Necrophilia Variations 149 (2005).
  7. ^ Kevin Bleyer, Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America 152 (Random House 2013) (2012) (internal quotation marks omitted).
  8. ^ The Bhagavad-Gita 3:35 (Barbara Stoller Miller trans., Bantam Classic 2004).
  9. ^ Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) 100–01 (Harvest 1975), available via Google Books.
  10. ^ Matt Hall, On the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' Arrival in New York, Nantucket '73 (blog) (Feb. 11, 2014). (President Kennedy was assasinated on November 22, 1963; the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, February 9, 1964, took place 79 days later.)
  11. ^ Ben Terris, He's Got a "Downton Abbey"-Inspired Office, but Rep. Aaron Schock Won't Talk About It, Wash. Post (Style) (Feb. 2, 2015) (quoting Benjamin Cole) (internal quotation marks omitted).
  12. ^ Ann Powers, Why Tori Amos Connects, NPR, May 13, 2014 (quoting T. Cole Rachel) (internal quotation marks omitted).
  13. ^ Komodo dragon § Diet, Wikipedia (as of September 16, 2016).
  14. ^ Luke McKinney, 6 Hilariously Nerdy (Surprisingly Epic) Wikipedia Fights, (Aug. 7, 2016), archived at I disagree with the tone the article took, and I note that it glossed over the inconvenient fact that much of the lampooned drama involved anonymous editors and is hardly reflective of the way we conduct business, but this quote rings true for me. My work on Wikipedia has honed my real-world research, writing, analysis, and discussion skills, but it has also significantly distorted by sense of perspective.