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I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

Thomas Alva Edison

The trapdoors to failure outnumber the shortcuts to success.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Every failure teaches a man something, to wit, that he will probably fail again next time.

H.L. Mencken

Falling hurts least those who fly low.

Chinese Proverb

I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.

Muhammed Ali

I'm the most recognized and loved man that ever lived cuz there weren't no satellites when Jesus and Moses were around, so people far away in the villages didn't know about them.

Muhammed Ali

No matter how great your triumphs in the SCA [or fandom, or martial arts, or . . .], 99.9993% of the planet couldn't care less.


The number of a person's relatives is directly proportional to his fame.


Notoriety (n): The fame of one's competitor for public honours. The kind of renown most accessible and acceptable to mediocrity.

Ambrose Bierce

Famous (adj): Conspicuously miserable.

Ambrose Bierce

Defame (v.t.): 1) To lie about another. 2) To tell the truth about another.

Ambrose Bierce

Sycophant (n): One who approaches greatness on his belly so that he may not be commanded to turn and be kicked.

Ambrose Bierce

I suffer from the sad recurring delusion that the world is a meritocracy where excellence is sometimes rewarded. I don't know where I got an idea like that. Madonna packs stadiums, and B.B. King is lucky if he can fill a lounge at a Ramada Inn. That ought to tell you everything you need to know about the race not always being to the swift.

Steve H.

Popularity: The capacity for listening sympathetically when men boast of their wives and women complain of their husbands.

H.L. Mencken

A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn't know.

H.L. Mencken

I love fame, I dote on it, I idolise it. No man lives until he is famous . . .

Edgar Allen Poe

Fame and rest are utter opposites.

Richard Steele

It helps to put this in perspective by likening me to the mayor of Des Moines, Iowa. It's true of both the mayor of Des Moines and of me that, out of the world's population of some six billion people, there are a few hundred thousand who consider us important, and who recognize us by name. In the case of the mayor of Des Moines, that is simply the population of the Des Moines metropolitan area. In my case, it is the approximate number of people who are avid readers of my books. In addition, there might be as many as a million or two who would find my name vaguely familiar if they saw it; the same is probably true of the mayor of Des Moines.

Neal Stephenson

One of the great advantages of a celebrity culture is the way it siphons off so many of the narcissistic and dysfunctional into areas where they can do the least societal damage. Occasionally, the system goes awry and one of them winds up in a serious job (William Jefferson Clinton), but generally things work pretty well.

Mark Steyn

The modern celebrity travels with a bigger retinue than your old-time sultan or grand duke. The average rock star is now more hung up on protocol than any count or marquess: A couple of years back, after hosting a grand dinner at his stately home, Sting was forced to issue a public apology for committing a ghastly error in placement and accidentally seating Jools Holland of the band Squeeze next to some no-name session player.

Mark Steyn

Roughly five per cent of all animals — one in twenty — are dominant; they are natural "achievers". These achievers have a stronger desire for praise and admiration than most people. Most of us would like to be famous; in the achiever, the desire for fame is a raging thirst. Yet fame is not all they want. They would also like to leave some mark on the world, something that would benefit their fellow human beings. So all "achievers" are self-divided. Part of them wants to realise ideals; the other part wants to show off and be admired.

Colin Wilson

Familiarity breeds contempt . . . but without a little familiarity, you can't breed anything.

Noel Coward

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.

George Burns

A fanatic is someone who does what he knows that God would do if God knew the facts of the case.


Prophecy (n): The art and practice of selling one's credibility for future delivery.

Ambrose Bierce

There is no place in a fanatic's head where reason can enter.

Napoleon Bonaparte

There is something strange in the history of toleration. Almost all men have learned the lesson of toleration with respect to past heresies and divisions. We wonder how men ever grew so hard and cruel about differences of opinion and faith. We are perplexed when we read how the heretic was regarded as a man with a plague which would surely spread unless he, the heretic, was extirpated. We reason with philosophic wisdom about the impossibility of conquering mind by brute force, of changing ideas by means of the truncheon or the nightstick. We recall that such attempts at direct suppression of thought have usually ended by increasing the vitality of obnoxious beliefs; we quote the saying that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. We are surprised that leaders had not enough common sense to allow unpopular ideas to burn themselves out or die of inanition. But when some affair of our own day demands cohesive action and stirs deep feeling, we at once dignify the unpopular cause with persecution; we feed its flame with our excited suspicions; we make it the center of a factitious attention, and lend it importance by the conspicuousness of our efforts at suppression.

John Dewey

I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation.

William Lloyd Garrison

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude. No doctrine, no matter how profound or sublime will be effective unless it is presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. It must be the one word from which all things come and all things speak. Crude absurdities, trivial nonsense and sublime truths are equally potent in readying people for self-sacrifice if they are accepted as the sole, eternal truth.

Eric Hoffer

Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.

Eric Hoffer

The fiercest fanatics are often selfish people who were forced, by innate shortcomings or external circumstances, to lose faith in their own selves. They separate the excellent instrument of their selfishness from their ineffectual selves and attach it to the service of some holy cause. And though it be a faith of love and humility they adopt, they can be neither loving nor humble.

Eric Hoffer

The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.

Eric Hoffer

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause, but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.

Eric Hoffer

So tenaciously should we cling to the world revealed by the Gospel, that were I to see all the Angels of Heaven coming down to me to tell me something different, not only would I not be tempted to doubt a single syllable, but I would shut my eyes and stop my ears, for they would not deserve to be either seen or heard.

Martin Luther

The fact that I have no remedy for all the sorrows of the world is no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong probability that yours is a fake.

H.L. Mencken

There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.

Camille Paglia

. . .the cross-eyed insanity of fervent belief. . .

Jonathan Piasecki

Fanatical religion driven to a certain point is almost as bad as none at all, but not quite.

Will Rogers

There is no difference between someone who eats too little and sees Heaven and someone who drinks too much and sees snakes.

Bertrand Russell

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.

George Santayana

It would be almost unbelievable, if history did not record the tragic fact, that men have gone to war and cut each other's throats because they could not agree as to what was to become of them after their throats were cut . . . For some reason, too deep to fathom, men contend more furiously over the road to heaven, which they cannot see, than over their visible walks on earth.

Walter Stacey

[T]he only distinction I make between socialists who call themselves "Democrats" and those who call themselves "Republicans" is their personal philosophy:
  • Left-wing socialists believe that everyone is a little bit stupid and need government to control them for their own good.
  • Right-wing socialists believe that everyone is a little be evil and need government to control them for their own good.
Since both believe that individuals need government control for their own good, the end result of both Left- or Right-wing socialist policy is naturally identical.

William Stone III

Fanaticism: A blind and passionate zeal born of superstitious opinions given rise to unjust and cruel acts which are committed, not only without shame or remorse, but on the contrary with a sort of joy and relief or consolation. Fanaticism is thus merely superstition translated into action.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

For well he know fanatic rage would pass,
For sound religion with the common class.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

From those dark realms the worst of tyrants came,
Fanatic Demon Is his horrid name.
Religion's son, but rebel in her cause,
He tears her bosom and disdains her laws.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

[N]eutrality itself has no place with a power that seeks to dominate; and whoever is not for it is against it.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

What ravages could someone who desires death not wreak in society if to his motives for suffering it he joins reasons for inflicting it?

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

Today's rage, tomorrow's chuckle.

Rick Bayan

Garter (n): An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country.

Ambrose Bierce

Fashion (n): A despot whom the wise ridicule but obey.

Ambrose Bierce

I don't like going to salons, anyway. I always feel old and unglamorous, sitting in a corner looking through the briefcase-sized book of hairstyles. All the models have that jaunty off-to-Monaco look, or the sullen expression of someone who has just discovered that there is no IRS employment code for "bein' gnarly".

James Lileks

I bring this up [. . .] because I have *no* idea why this does not violate the draconian Men's Clothing Color Rules. (Earth tones and blue are acceptable under all circumstances, except for brown suits which are instant career death for anyone outside academia. Non-blue primaries may be worn on ties and are somewhat acceptable in casual wear, but not "office casual". Pastels are right out except for certain shades which may be worn as suit shirts. Most importantly for this discussion: Colors which cannot be named by a beer-drenched football fan in the third quarter of the Superbowl are Strictly Forbidden. Violating the "pastel" and "colors identifiable only by women" rules invokes an automatic assumption that one is gay, as does dressing in actual coordinated colors or otherwise exhibiting good-yet-unconventional fashion sense. There are a lot more subrules, but basically it boils down to "Subdued medium-to-dark blue is always safe. Anything else may be risky".

Scott R. "Pilot" Padgett

GODHOUND: "Do not attempt to run, little morsel! We are Godhounds and we can smell fear!"
[sniff, sniff]
"Oh! It's ME!"
Bun-Bun: "I'm counting to three. Onetwothree."

Pete Abrams

Fear is the original sin. Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

A man with a clear conscience does not tremble at a midnight knock on his gate.

Chinese Proverb

When one doesn't know how to dance, he says the ground is wet.

Malaysian Proverb

Under patriarchy [white male culture], every woman's son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman.

Andrea Dworkin

I couldn't define "liberation" for women in terms that denied the sexual and human reality of our need to love, and even, sometimes, to depend upon a man.

Betty Friedan

Feminism is the radical belief that women are helpless without government.

Tom Isenberg

Elizabeth Taylor is pre-feminist woman. This is the source of her continuing greatness and relevance. She wields the sexual power that feminism cannot explain and has tried to destroy. Through stars like Taylor, we sense the World-disordering impact of legendary women like Delilah, Salome, and Helen of Troy. Feminism has tried to dismiss the femme fatale as a misogynist libel, a hoary cliche. But the femme fatale expresses women's ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm. The specter of the femme fatale stalks all men's relations with women.

Camille Paglia

I think there is a problem that the feminist establishment refuses to face: career women in the Anglo-Saxon world have desexed themselves . . . at the executive level of the industrialized world, we may be cutting ourselves off at the neck. Our battle is not just with the male establishment but with ourselves: how do we keep mind and body together?

Camille Paglia

We need a new kind of feminism, one that stresses personal responsibility and is open to art and sex in all their dark, unconsoling mysteries. The feminist of the fin de siecle will be bawdy, streetwise, and on-the-spot confrontational, in the prankish Sixties way.

Camille Paglia

Madonna is the true feminist. She exposes the puritanism and suffocating ideology of American feminism, which is stuck in an adolescent whining mode. Madonna has taught young women to be fully female and sexual while still excerising control over their lives.

Camille Paglia

Feminism is the belief that every gender stereotype is imprisoning, unless perchance it flatters women, or insults men.

Mike Royko

The consummate irony of the codependency movement is that, in the name of curing women's good-little-girl qualities, it rewards women for being the best little girls of all and not rocking anyone's boat.

Carol Tavris

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what a feminist is, I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.

Rebecca West

Personifiers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but Mr. Dignity!

Bernadette Bosky

A stockbroker is someone who takes your money and invests it until it's all gone.

Woody Allen

Wall Street (n): A symbol of sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope for heaven.

Ambrose Bierce

Live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so.

Josh Billings

Banking may well be a career from which no man really recovers.

John Kenneth Galbraith

We have a nest egg. A mosquito could squat on it. I know I should put something away each week besides a six-pack of beer, but after I'm finished wasting my money on shelter, taxes, food, taxes, and the tax on food and shelter, there's hardly enough for personal luxuries like the tax on movies. If only taxes were lower, I could save some money, and have enough to pay the tax on interest.

James Lileks

The fundamental cause of panics and business depressions is probably nothing more subtle than the desire to get something for nothing. It is probably just as dangerous to push wages too high as it is to overextend capital. Both devices create fictitious wealth, and when, by the operation of natural laws, its fictitiousness is eventually proved, a collapse follows.

H.L. Mencken

Touchies/No-Touchies Theory: The wise man accumulates two piles of chips--touchies and no-touchies. The touchies are the chips that are used to enjoy life and with which to make investments. The no-touchies constitute an insurance policy--a policy that assures he will never have to start over from scratch if a catastrophe befalls his touchies.

Robert J. Ringer

In Miami, there's a street full of restaurant-supply stores. That street is in what we call "Overtown." You may have seen Overtown on TV. As a general rule you would see it on news programs, and the videos would usually be shot from behind piles of flaming upside-down police cars.

Here's something hilarious about Overtown: guide books sold to tourists refer to it as "historic Overtown," like people from Miami wake up every Saturday morning, pack picnic lunches, and go there to watch parades. There are actually signs on I-95 pointing to "Historic Overtown." Sure, it's historic. It has a history of people going in there and being killed for their shoes. So we send ignorant foreigners in there the way the guards at Auschwitz herded people into "shower rooms." They come here as passengers and they fly home as freight. But God forbid we should offend the residents of Overtown by posting truthful signs reading "DANGER! HISTORIC OVERTOWN!" Someone involved might lose a dozen votes, and after all, what's worse? Risking a cushy government job, or facilitating the murders of a few Germans who don't even make campaign contributions?

Steve H.

[Overtown:] That's the rotten core of the city of Miami. The life expectancy of an unarmed Caucasian is about fifteen minutes there. Less, if he's a German with white socks and sandals, driving a rental car in circles while trying to find Miami Beach.

Steve H.

How to really get the most out of Florida:
  1. Squish humongous spider right outside your bedroom.
  2. Scamper off to get paper towel to remove corpse.
  3. Return moments later to find no corpse at all.
  4. Spend the rest of the night very, very awake.

Dong Resin

This is for you Florida people . . . yes, I promise to keep the words small.

Find a good-sized snake in your shitty apartment.

Note, I did not say capture a good-sized snake in your shitty apartment.

As it slithers off between the cupboards and, one would hope, back to into Hell, notice that it has the exact same colors as either the completely harmless King snake, or as the insanely venomous Coral snake, which is a distinction made by looking at the color of the head, something you neglected to do in favor of shrieking like a big burly caveman, and not like Christina Aguilera seeing herself in the morning without make-up.

The fun from this one lasts all godforsaken night long as you lie there, being the warmest thing in your chilly-enough-to-effect-a-cold-blooded-animal's-judgment-making-skills apartment.

Dong Resin


Rules of the Air

  1. Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.
  2. If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull it back they get smaller, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, in which case they get larger again.
  3. Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous.
  4. It is always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.
  5. The only time you have too much fuel is when you are on fire.
  6. The propeller is just a big fan to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can watch the pilot start to sweat.
  7. When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No one has ever collided with the sky.
  8. A "good" landing is one from which you can walk away. A "great" landing is one after which they can use the plane again.
  9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make them all yourself.
  10. You know you've landed with the wheels up if it takes full power to taxi to your parking spot.
  11. The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability or survival, and vice versa.
  12. Never let your aircraft take you anywhere your brain didn't get to five minutes earlier.
  13. Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone talks about just might be another airplane going in the opposite direction. Reliable sources also report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds.
  14. Always try to keep the number of landings you made equal to the number of takeoffs you've made.
  15. There are three simple rules for a silky smooth landing. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.
  16. You start out with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the latter before you empty the former.
  17. Helicopters cannot fly. They are so ugly that the earth repels them.
  18. If all you can see out the window is ground going around and around, and all you can hear is commotion from the passenger compartment, things are not at all as they should be.
  19. In the ongoing battle between man-made objects traveling through the air at hundreds of miles an hour and the ground moving at zero miles an hour, the ground has yet to lose.
  20. Good judgement comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from bad judgement.
  21. It is always a good idea to keep the pointy end going forward whenever possible.
  22. Keep looking around. There is always something you missed.
  23. Remember, gravity isn't just a good idea, it is the law. And it's not subject to repeal.
  24. The three most useless things for a pilot are runway behind you, altitude above you, and a tenth of a second ago.
  25. If, at your retirement ceremony, the chief pilot says "I don't believe I know that pilot," you have obviously followed rules 1 through 24.


The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and a good bowel movement. The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life where you get to experience all three at the same time.


You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.


The real unspoken reason to drink at the airport, of course, would be: "Because you're pretty sure the plane is going to explode upon takeoff." I used to be one of these, ah, fearful fliers. It was either wet my whistle or myself, so I'd stroll into the bar and just pretend that I fancied a screwdriver at 7 a.m. No more, thank heavens, but I understand the need.

James Lileks

I'm not afraid of flying, I'm afraid of crashing.

Neil Simon

It is impossible to make something completely foolproof, because fools are so ingenious.


There is always free cheese in a mousetrap.


In the presence of great men, even fools hide their faults.


To laugh at men of sense is the privilege of fools.


Folly (n): That "gift and faculty divine" whose creative and controlling energy inspires Man's mind, guides his actions and adorns his life.

Ambrose Bierce

The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.

Thomas Carlyle

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Chinese Proverb

Nothing can be made proof against a fool. The problem is keeping fools and gadgetry separate.

Jeff Cooper

Fools always have been and always will be the majority of mankind.

Denis Diderot

Only two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the former.

Albert Einstein

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true.

H.L. Mencken

Before a man speaks, it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.

H.L. Mencken

You have to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that; no ordinary man would be such a fool.

George Orwell

If a person's a born fool, the folly will get worse, not better, by a long life's practice.

George Bernard Shaw

A man who knows that he is a fool is not a great fool.

Chuang Tzu

The other restaurants available were Polynesian, Italian, and the restaurant to which they gave top billing, "La Fontaine", a French restaurant which we decided to keep for the last of our four nights, though we had nagging doubts. I tend to like local cooking unless I'm in Wales, and the thought of French haute cuisine transported here did not fill me with confidence. I wanted to keep an open mind, though, because as it happens one of the best meals I ever had was steamed crab and chateaubriand of zebu cooked by a French-trained chef in the south of Madagascar. But then the French had infested Madagascar for 75 years and bequeathed it a rich legacy of culinary skills and hideous bureaucracy.

Douglas Adams

When you go on a diet, the first thing you lose is your temper.


The people who say "You are what you eat" have always seemed addled to me. In my opinion, you are what you think, and if you don't think, you can eat all the meat in Kansas City and still be nothing but a vegetable.

Russell Baker

Fibre: Edible wood-pulp said to aid digestion and prolong life, so that we might enjoy another eight or ten years in which to consume wood-pulp.

Rick Bayan

Manna (n): A food miraculously given to the Israelites in the wilderness. When it was no longer supplied to them they settled down and tilled the soil, fertilizing it, as a rule, with the bodies of the original occupants.

Ambrose Bierce

Indigestion (n): A disease which the patient and his friends frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the salvation of mankind. As the simple Red Man of the western wild put it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force: "Plenty well, no pray; big bellyache, heap God."

Ambrose Bierce

By the way, if you don't believe in the Atkins diet, one starch conversion will convince you. The low-carb cultists always say eating grain is the same is eating sugar, because that's what it turns into in your body. I'm here to tell you I'm a believer. After sitting on my stove for a while, this huge mass of ordinary cereal, to which I added nothing but water, tasted like cream of wheat mixed with pancake syrup.

Steve H.

Everything involving yeast is complicated. Yeast cells are like tiny women: they're extremely temperamental, and they really like to reproduce. Apparently, salt slows down their activity, and the 911 site says it also gives a yeastier taste to bread, because the yeast takes longer to do its job. Or something.

Steve H.

I cook a lot of lethal dishes. My brownies are legendary. I added up the calories in the ingredients, divided it by the number of brownies in a pan, and it came out to 540. You could accurately describe them as squares of Baker's chocolate, sugar, and butter, firmed up with a small amount of flour.

Steve H.

I like potatoes because they are the most worthless food known to man. Pure carbohydrate. True, they contain a fair amount of vitamin C, which is why you never see a leprechaun with scurvy, but other than that, they're just big, useless wads of concentrated calories. Eating a potato is about as good for you as swallowing a hefty scoop of table sugar, and to make matters worse, they only taste good served swimming in fat. Think of the potato dishes you like; they're all loaded with one kind of fat or other. French fries. Potatoes au gratin. Potato skins with cheese. Potato cheesecake. Potato and suet sandwiches made with potato bread, smeared with potato jelly. Okay, I made up those last two, but you see my point.

Steve H.

I really hate yeast. It makes brewing beer a nightmare, it gives us jock itch and athlete's foot, even if we're about as athletic as Madeline Albright, and it does that revolting thing to women that renders them useless and sends them running behind filing cabinets to scratch themselves. Now it's messing up my cookbook, too.

Steve H.

My grandmother in Kentucky used to make cobbler all the time. Blackberry cobbler. Kentucky is a weird place; if you keep your weeds down and look after your yard, what do you get? Nothing. If you lie back on your big ass and let nature take its course, what do you get? Blackberry briars, laden with fruit, as far as the eye can see. They just pop up on their own. I think there's a lesson in there for all of us.

Unfortunately, the blackberry is the strongest laxative known to medical science. Well, the strongest natural laxative. On the list of all known laxatives, it falls in the space between Liquid Plumr and C4. It makes sense to use them in dessert, the final course, because after eating them, you can't really hang around the table.

Steve H.

People are such suckers for "Eastern Wisdom." If there is such a thing as "Eastern Wisdom," how come they don't have forks? You can eat anything with a fork, except soup. But the brilliant Asians — the guys who can summon their chi and dodge bullets and fly through bamboo groves while fighting over expensive swords — for ten thousand years they've been trying to eat rice — the world's smallest, most elusive food — using TWO SLIPPERY STICKS.

Steve H.

Ribs are one of the few items of food that come with their own religion. All over the U.S., there are nuts who belong to various rib cults. The smokers. The grillers. The dry-rubbers. The marinaters. And each faction has sub-factions. For example, some smokers use hickory, and some use mesquite. All the factions and sub-factions make fun of each other and claim that they alone are the keepers of the One True Recipe. . .

Steve H.

The dish I'm proudest of is Champagne chicken, which I sort of invented. You start by frying boneless chicken in a quarter-inch of butter, and you end up making gravy with half-and-half, flour, and Champagne. That's not the good part. The good part is where you make spinach fettuccine, butter it down real good, bury it in high-fat parmesan, and POUR THE GRAVY ON TOP OF IT. That's right. Pasta with GRAVY. Women faint when they try it. All week long, they eat like rabbits, and then with two bites of my Champagne chicken, I straighten the little hooks that fasten their slacks. And if they survive that? Homemade caramel cheesecake with sauteed bananas.

It's easier to cook for men than women. Men shove food in with both hands and then lie on your couch with their jeans unbuttoned, hoping for gas. Women eat two or three bites, tell you it's great, and then sneak off to make themselves vomit. I don't know where women got the idea that sticks are attractive. It must be the skinny women on TV. Ally McBeal is the worst; the women on that show are so skinny, it's like going to the zoo to look at the lizards.

Steve H.

The potato is a marvelous thing. By itself, it tastes a lot like air, but with even the simplest of seasonings, it comes to life and takes culinary flight, much like a character in a Red Bull commercial. The potato may seem quiet and unprepossessing, but it's daring and versatile. The potato is ready for anything. It's like a mousy girlfriend who likes having her wrists bound with her panties and her bare bottom spanked with a rawhide strap soaked in cinnamon oil.

You can make fries with it. You can make potatoes au gratin with it. Latkes. Gnocchi. Samosas. You can make sinfully smooth potato vodka that glides down your throat like a silken serpent and then sweet-talks you into singing "Santa, Baby" at the top of your lungs in a karaoke bar full of homophobic steelworkers. But enough about my holiday plans.

Steve H.

Oats: A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.

Samuel Johnson

Anyway, milk is milk. But perhaps I'm not the person to speak on the issue, since I drink skim, which is basically water with milk-tints added. It's ruined me for real milk; when I drink regular milk, it's like gagging down slightly runny Play-Doh. Juice is another matter, though. I am very particular about juice. I'm not talking about the flavors — if you replaced my Orange-Mango-Peach blend with a Kiwi-Orange-Passion Fruit blend, I couldn't tell. They all taste the same. (The only ingredient with any distinction is pineapple juice, the sole purpose of which is to tell you "there's pineapple juice in here.") My issue is pulp. Can't stand it. Makes me gag. But this is America, and the Amalgamated Juice Trust has accommodated my needs. Now they label the cartons "No Pulp," "Low Pulp," "Some Pulp," "Lots of Pulp," "Sloshy Mass of Pulp," and the new "All-Pulp" variety, which you use like chewing tobacco.

James Lileks

[C]an someone explain to me why a Pop-Tart is considered real? Take the corner of a Pop-Tart, the part without frosting or filling. Let it cool. Now put it in your mouth and think: If I didn't know this was a Pop-Tart, would I consider it to be food or perhaps very old plaster?

James Lileks

Chain restaurant design hit a trough in the 70s and never recovered — once they let go of that jangly chrome wire called Googie, they got dumb and ugly. The Googie style was about the push-button / jet-age / punch-card future that was right around the corner, but somewhere around 1969 we turned the corner, and it wasn't there after all. The future was dead; long live the aimless present.

James Lileks

Fat is sin; health is holy. We have dispatched Satan and replaced him with the Keebler Elf and Poppin' Fresh and all the other cheery familiars pimping savory perdition. Every pizza is a Faustian deal, except that when the Devil made his bargain with Faust, he didn't ask if he lived in a house or apartment. Every rich cookie-atom narrows your arteries to the point where red blood cells see the LANE ENDS MERGE RIGHT sign about a yard from your heart. Each gram of fat is one more bounce on the diving board over a open grave lined with Doritos.

James Lileks

For three days I made the mistake of drinking unsweetened grapefruit juice for breakfast, and the acids so corroded my tongue that I could lick a hacksaw smeared with jalapeno juice and not feel a thing. (At first.) Finally, I switched back to my usual juice, one of those OrangeTangerineKiwiDingleberry blends, and discovered that I had been pouring expired milk on my cereal for three mornings. Not just expired milk, but chunky milk. Milk you could roll up and throw.

James Lileks

Haven't been to a McDonald's in quite a while. Won't be going back soon. A few bites into my quarter-pounder sans vinyl I thought: this doesn't even resemble food. Oh, it could be food if you'd been trained to think it was, if you grew up eating nothing but damp gray meat, but man: this is like humid newspaper that spent a week impacting in the colon of a flyblown cow corpse. The fries tasted like pencils.

James Lileks

[H]ot-air popcorn makers [. . .] superheat the kernels, spin them around at velocities usually found in a particle accelerator, then shoot them out — unpopped — onto the counter, where they bounce all over the kitchen. You get a nice, hot bowl of Nature's Own BBs interspersed with bone-dry popcorn that tastes like a dust bunny from King Tut's tomb. The only way to enjoy it is to impale a stick of butter on a fork and give it a lick between mouthfuls of corn.

James Lileks

I've never understood why nations with great cheese don't have better armies. Right now to my left I have a plate that contains six chunks of Stravecchoio Grana Padano, each wrapped in a gossamer-thin scarf of prosciutto. Any Italian worth his mettle would take one bite, contemplate the perfection this combination represents, and decide that his nation should — no, must muster the forces required to repulse anyone who would take such cheese from his countrymen. Cheese this fine would cause armies to cross the Alps to have it; surely they demand armies sufficient to protect it.

I mean, this is good cheese.

James Lileks

Let us not delude ourselves. If the most complex ingredient you're required to supply is hot water, you're not cooking. Hamburger Helper isn't cooking. Chicken Helper isn't cooking. Tuna Helper, Tofu Advisor, Bok Choi Advocate, Soy-Paste Assistant, Bean Curd Instructor — no. Not cooking.

James Lileks

Now, the tricky part: getting it out of the oven. This must have been a subject of much debate at FoodCo: Do we trust people to know they'll have to use oven mitts? After all, we live in a country where the words "Caution: Filling Will Be Hot!" is put on something called Hot Pockets. (You know the legal department wanted to call them "Likely to Sear the Enamel Off Your Teeth Unless Subjected to a 30-second Cooling Period Pockets." Marketing balked.) Apparently FoodCo decided that we were on our own, here; there's no warning.

James Lileks

Nutritional science is half sensible wisdom and half alimentary feng-shui, if you ask me.

James Lileks

Once I was cutting jalapeño peppers, and my eye started itching. I rubbed it -- and instantly felt like the bull's-eye in a javelin-hurling contest. Ahhh! Water! But no: Jalapeño juice is an oil, and water slides right off . . . milk cuts the oil, right? Milk. So there I am, standing over the sink pouring skim milk into my eye to no effect, because skim milk is simply albino water. What next? Well, the eye has to come out. Where's that melon scoop? The pain subsided before I could find a suitable blinding implement, thank heavens. It's hard to explain that sort of thing at the office. Oh, I was reading King Lear last night, and just got into the spirit of things.

Why would your brain make your eye itch when it knew your hands were full of jalapeño oil? To amuse itself, that's why. The brain can't feel pain. That's your job.

James Lileks

Potted Meat Product: In Mexico last year we were followed by a stray dog -- a tailless, hardy pup that did the classic big-eye routine to get some food. I went to a grocery store and purchased a dusty can of Potted Meat Product. Took it to the plaza. Opened it up. The dog looked -- sniffed -- and backed away. So now when I see PMP in the store, I think: Refused by starving Mexican stray dogs.

James Lileks

That's the other benefit of Atkins: cheese is no longer The Enemy. I've started exploring the options. I've always been cheese-curious, to be frank. But it’s a daunting world, and sometimes you commit to a wedge at the store only to find you don't like it when you get it home. But this Irish cheddar — when I die, I want to be filled with this cheese. I want people to see the box lowered in the earth and think there goes a man who is great with cheese. If I'm going to feed the worms I might as well give them a banquet instead of sawdust and formadehyde . . .

James Lileks

The market is a curious blend of logic and emotion, and when you add something as intangible & subjective as food preferences, objective standards are Dali tools that melt in your hands.

James Lileks

Turkey Tetrazzini. All I remember of this childhood leftover dish was some sort of cheese, specially developed by generations of Italian cooks, to trigger a child's gag reflex.

James Lileks

[W]e use one of them all-natch'ral peener butters. No, I do not have to go to the co-op, scoop it from a flyblown communal vat with a wooden spoon, put it in my reusable crock and carry it to the barter-counter with the handy hemp handle. This brand of all natural PB is made by Smuckers. (Always wondered if they really knew how odd their ad campaign sounds: With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good. By this logic, Dodgammed Sassmole Skithead Futtersmuckers would taste even better.) Because it doesn't have the usual chemicals that permit normal peanut butters to sit in the cupboard for three presidential terms, we have to keep it in the fridge. And as we all know, cold peanut butter has the same effect on fresh bread as a belt sander has on a titmouse. There's just nothing left.

James Lileks

We're a little behind the times up here. We just got our first few of the remarkably disappointing Krispy Kreme shops in the area — kinda like walking into the wind with your mouth open, except for all of the sugar . . .

Ken Olson

And the typical old-fashioned diet was so bad it almost resembled modern dieting.

P.J. O'Rourke

Despite the fact that meat is made from dead animals, it shouldn't smell that way. Try this test for meat freshness: close your eyes and see if you can tell the pork chops from a gym locker.

P.J. O'Rourke

Never serve oysters during a month that has no paycheck in it.

P.J. O'Rourke

Something is happening to America, not something dangerous but something all too safe. I see it in my lifelong friends. I am a child of the baby boom, a generation not known for its sane or cautious approach to things. Yet suddenly my peers are giving up drinking, giving up smoking, cutting down on coffee, sugar, and salt. They will not eat red meat and go now to restaurants whose menus have caused me to stand on a chair yelling, "Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, dinner is served!" This from the generation of LSD, Weather Underground, and Altamont Rock Festival! And all in the name of safety! Our nation has withstood many divisions — North and South, black and white, labor and management — but I do not know if the country can survive division into smoking and non-smoking sections.

P.J. O'Rourke

The only really good vegetable is Tabasco sauce. Put Tabasco sauce in everything. Tabasco sauce is to bachelor cooking what forgiveness is to sin.

P.J. O'Rourke

The noblest of dogs is the hot dog; it feeds the hand that bites it.

Laurence J. Peter

In the name of consumer protection, the Agriculture Department even dictates the proper way to make pizza. All frozen pizzas must, by law, contain tomato sauce, regardless of what, in context, consumers expect. To market a sausage and herb pizza with pesto sauce, world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck had to throw tomato into the sauce"hardly the common meaning of "pesto."

Virginia Postrel

If there's a tassel on the menu, you can add a couple of dollars per person.

Andy Rooney

I forget if it was Enver Hoxha or Billy the Kid who said "Come the revolution, the restaurant critics will be the first up against the wall", but truer words were never spoken.

Clay Shirky

Irradiated meat will finally make its way onto public school menus, the USDA announced today. The usual clutch of alarmists say the nuked food puts kids at risk, despite scant evidence for that view.

Bottomline, lunch-line mystery meat has always been deadly. Now that the meat is glowing at least it can't sneak up on you.

Jeff A. Taylor

I believe that boiled okra is Cthulhu's favorite food. Why? Because it is green, slimy, and hairy. . .

Jill Wyrtham

Within the first two minutes of the 3 1/2-hour Fox pregame show, the Super Bowl was described as "the unofficial American holiday", "the greatest spectacle of them all", and a game "that reminds us how great it is to live in these United States."

Then the hyperbole began.

Scott Feschuk

The [Kansas City] Chiefs surrender territory so reliably and efficiently that, in a moving ceremony this week, the starting 11 defenders and coach Dick Vermeil were made honorary citizens of France.

Scott Feschuk

College football would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs, and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss to humanity.

H.L. Mencken

The [Minnesota] Vikings shouldn't even bother reviewing game footage of this spanking. They should just burn the tapes and watch a video of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" instead. There was less carnage.
[After a particularly embarassing 48-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.]

Bob Sansevere

The rule on staying alive as a forecaster is to give 'em a number or give 'em a date, but never give 'em both at once.

Jane Bryant Quinn

Have you ever noticed that Palestinian support comes primarily from the American far left and the French — two groups primarily notable for cowardice, temper tantrums, incoherent philosophy, and an aversion to personal hygiene?


Q: What Does Maginot Line mean in French?
A: Speed bump ahead.


France is seriously confused. The old adage was garbled in translation and come out in French as:
If you want war, prepare for peace.
And that is just what has happened.

Charles Austin

[G]oing to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless, noisy baggage behind.

Jed Babbin

The French view us as a bunch of fat, simplistic, SUV-driving, gum-chewing, gun-shooting, mall-dwelling, John Wayne cowboys who put ketchup on everything we eat, including breath mints. Whereas we view the French as a bunch of snotty, hygiene-impaired, pseudo-intellectual, snail-slurping weenies whose sole military accomplishment in the past 100 years was inventing the tasseled combat boot.

Dave Barry

Mayonnaise (n): One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.

Ambrose Bierce

Arrogance (n.) The art of behaving properly French. (archaic or literary) From lang d'oc and/or lang d'oil "J'suis supérieur au tous" (see CULTURE, HIGHEST).

Wesley Corder

"How do you say 'chutzpah' en Francais?"
There's no such word; because fish have no word for water.
Another reason we can't use that word is that it is inadequate; it's like describing an ocean as a "really big puddle".

Steven Den Beste

In what conceivable way is France qualified to pronounce on friendship, loyalty, or even the European project? Its friends are corrupt African dictators and guilt-racked Germans; its loyalty to itself; and France has turned the European project into a vehicle for national vainglory and agricultural subsidies.

France has a Napoleon complex: it puffs up its chest, teeters on elevated heels, a dwarf country with public delusions of grandeur, and private self-doubt. There's no need for the rest of Europe to humor it. If the continent is truly to be a force in world affairs, and a counterbalance to overweening US power, France first needs therapy.

Nick Denton

These failures were crystallised in President Jacques Chirac's stubborn opposition to the American-led war in Iraq. The initial position was legitimate, Mr Baverez argues, but the manner in which it was carried through ended in ridicule. "France knows what it does not want—the hegemony of the United States in the democratic world, the leadership of the United Kingdom in Europe—but does not know what it wants," he writes.

This paralysis exists because it suits the trio of political, bureaucratic and union interests to keep the system the way it is. No government has found the courage to persuade France of the need for shock-therapy. Instead, successive leaders, in particular François Mitterrand and Mr Chirac, have sought scapegoats—globalisation, immigration, the reunification of Germany—for French difficulties, instead of confronting them honestly. Worse, they have defended France's refusal to change in the name of a "French exception". This sham is dangerous, Mr Baverez says, because the deception of the electorate feeds the populist, anti-establishment message of the far-right National Front.

The Economist

It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.

Thomas Friedman

What is so amazing to me about the French campaign — "Operation America Must Fail" — is that France seems to have given no thought as to how this would affect France. Let me spell it out in simple English: if America is defeated in Iraq by a coalition of Saddamists and Islamists, radical Muslim groups — from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris — will all be energized, and the forces of modernism and tolerance within these Muslim communities will be on the run. To think that France, with its large Muslim minority, where radicals are already gaining strength, would not see its own social fabric affected by this is fanciful.

Thomas Friedman

The French will only be united under the threat of danger. Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese.

Charles de Gaulle


French Military History

Gallic Wars — Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian.
Hundred Years War — Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman."
Italian Wars — Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.
Wars of Religion — France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots
Thirty Years War — France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.
War of Devolution — Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.
The Dutch War — Tied
War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War — Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.
War of the Spanish Succession — Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved every since.
American Revolution — In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."
French Revolution — Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.
The Napoleonic Wars — Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.
The Franco-Prussian War — Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.
World War I — Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein". Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.
World War II — Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.
War in Indochina — Lost. French forces plead sickness, take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu
Algerian Rebellion — Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.
War on Terrorism — France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.

Let's face it. When it comes to war, France gets rolled more often than a Parisian prostitute with a visible mustache. They've been beaten so many times there's no fight left in them.

Silflay Hraka

[The French] motto might as well be ignorez, retarde, apaisez. Ignore, delay and appease describe the French character as well as anything else, except perhaps "Unions, Vacations and Occasional Showers!".

Silflay Hraka

France is not to be trusted at any time, on any issue. The British have learned this over 1,000 years of acrimonious history, but it still comes as a shock to see how badly the French can behave, with their unique mixture of shortsighted selfishness, long-term irresponsibility, impudent humbug and sheer malice. Americans are still finding out — the hard way — that loyalty, gratitude, comradeship and respect for treaty obligations are qualities never exhibited by French governments. All they recognize are interests, real or imaginary. French support always has to be bought. What the Americans and British now have to decide is whether formal alliances that include France as a major partner are worth anything at all, or if they are an actual encumbrance in times of danger.

Paul Johnson

I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. They didn't help us get the Germans out of France.

Jay Leno

If the French are mad at us, we must be doing something right.

David Letterman

France is like someone who's been given a glimpse of the future, sees himself committing suicide, and resolves to spend his remaining days making it look like murder.

James Lileks

The French are always reticent to surrender to the wishes of their friends and always more than willing to surrender to the wishes of their enemies.

Dennis Miller

The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know.

P.J. O'Rourke

The only thing worse than a Frenchman is a Frenchman in Canada.

P.J. O'Rourke

I'd rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.

General George S. Patton

The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee.

Regis Philbin

American pop culture only ever has room for one joke about the French. For three decades, the Single French Joke was that they were the guys who thought Jerry Lewis was a genius. I don't particularly see the harm in that myself, at least when compared to thinking, say, Jean-Paul Sartre is a genius. But, since September 11th, the new Single French Joke has been that they're "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," a phrase introduced on The Simpsons but greatly popularized by Jonah Goldberg of National Review. Jonah, you'll recall, recently flayed us Canadians for being a bunch of northern pussies, but it's a measure of the contempt in which he holds our D-list Dominion that we didn't even merit a pithy four-word sneer-in-a-can.

Mark Steyn

France is one of only five official nuclear powers in the world, a status it takes seriously. When Greenpeace were interfering with French nuclear tests in the Pacific, they blew up the damn boat. Even I, a right-wing detester of the eco-loonies, would balk at killing the buggers.

Mark Steyn

On the matter of Islamic terrorists killing American office workers and American forces killing Iraqi psychopaths, they are equally insouciant. Let's say Saddam has long-range WMDs. If he nuked Montpelier (Vermont), M. Chirac would insist that Bush needed to get a strong Security Council resolution before responding. If he nuked Montpellier (France), Iraq would be a crater by lunchtime.

Mark Steyn

A Frenchman's home is where another man's wife is.

Mark Twain

[I]n French, they always tangle up everything to that degree that when you start into a sentence you never know whether you are going to come out alive or not.

Mark Twain

There is nothing lower than the human race except the French.

Mark Twain

The French Revolution originates from two essential causes. The first is the tension between estates or social classes, the very privileged position of the nobility, the great subjection and, in truth, the particularly strong oppression of the peasant class. The second is the disorder and favoritism and wastage which haunts the administration of this government.

Karl von Clausewitz

You demand all protection be abolished on what you do not make -- but that protection must be continued for what you do make. I do not defend the protection you attack -- but I attack the protection you defend. You demand privilege for a few; I demand liberty for all.

Frederic Bastiat

Tariff (n): A scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.

Ambrose Bierce

Let us remember that "if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom."

Samuel Adams

There can be no free men until there are free women.


A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.

Walter Bagehot

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.

James Baldwin

Look at the entire world. Which countries contain the most peaceful, the most moral, and the happiest people? Those people are found in the countries where the law least interferes with private affairs; where administrative powers are fewest and simplest; where taxes are lightest . . . ; where trade, assemblies, and associations are the least restricted . . . Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty . . .

Frederic Bastiat

The State is the great fiction by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.

Frederic Bastiat

Emancipation (n): A bondsman's change from the tyranny of another to the despotism of himself.

Ambrose Bierce

Liberty (n): One of Imagination's most precious possessions.

Ambrose Bierce

Freedom (n): Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half-dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.

Ambrose Bierce

People are deceived in masses, but enlightened one at a time.

Dick Boddie

No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion.

James Burgh

I am an old-fashioned liberal. That is, I prize freedom more highly than equality, and individualism more than order. Freedom to think and say what one wants, as long as it does not deliberately provoke bodily harm to others, should be the minimum requirement in any civilised society. And so is freedom from arbitrary use of power. These freedoms can only be guaranteed by governments which abide by the same laws as the governed, and can be voted out of power.

Ian Buruma

Only in states in which the power of the people is supreme has liberty any abode.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened around his own neck.

Frederick Douglass

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.

Frederick Douglass

Is freedom anything but the right to live as we wish? Nothing else!


They that can give up essential liberty to gain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

Saint-Simon and his followers had a pervasive fear of the dangers they felt were inherent in free societies, with their competitive free markets. Free enterprise struck them as irrational, out of control, and driven only by individual economic greed. They didn't see that the capitalist who tries to please only himself loses, whereas the one who pleases consumers wins; that democratic capitalism is other-directed before being self-directed.

William Gairdner

I am a lover of my own liberty, and so I would do nothing to restrict yours.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Nothing can take precedence of the question of liberty. No interest is so momentous as that which involves "the life of the soul"; no object so glorious as the restoration of a man to himself.

William Lloyd Garrison

Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.

William Lloyd Garrison

Since government, even in its best state is an evil, the object principally to be aimed at is that we should have as little of it as the general peace of human society will permit.

William Godwin

Even those regimes which constantly and flagrantly violated the most elementary precepts of liberty feel obliged to pay lip-service to the idea by claiming for themselves another kind of liberty; "positive liberty", a "higher" freedom than "mere" freedom.

Gertrude Himmelfarb

The tendency of all strong Governments has always been to suppress liberty, partly in order to ease the processes of rule, partly from sheer disbelief in innovation.

J.A. Hobson

Where freedom is real, equality is the passion of the masses. Where equality is real, freedom is the passion of a small minority. Equality without freedom creates a more stable social pattern than freedom without equality.

Eric Hoffer

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty

Thomas Jefferson

Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.

John F. Kennedy

Having been brought up in a serf-owner's family, I entered active life, like all young men of my time, with a great deal of confidence in the necessity of commanding, ordering, scolding, punishing and the like. But when, at an early stage, I had to manage serious enterprises and to deal with [free] men, and when each mistake would lead at once to heavy consequences, I began to appreciate the difference between acting on the principle of command and discipline and acting on the principle of common understanding. The former works admirably in a military parade, but it is worth nothing where real life is concerned, and the aim can be achieved only through the severe effort of many converging wills.

Pyotr Alexeyvich Kropotkin

Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy neighbour without his or her consent. Thou shalt not prevent thy neighbour from altering his or her own consciousness.

Timothy Leary

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.

Abraham Lincoln

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.

Abraham Lincoln

At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has been sometimes disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition, and by kindling dispute over the spoils in the hour of success.

Lord Acton

It is impossible to protect anyone completely without enslaving them.

Vonda N. McIntyre

The freedom of nations is of little human value. It is only the liberty of the individual that counts. Imperialistic conquest often actually widens it. This is obviously the case in India. In the days of native rule no citizen had any rights whatsoever. Under the English rule he has a long series of them, and some of them are more or less real and valuable.

H.L. Mencken

It is a fine thing to face machine guns for immortality and a medal, but isn't it a fine thing, too, to face calumny, injustice, and loneliness for the truth which makes men free?

H.L. Mencken

Liberty is of small value to the lower third of humanity. They greatly prefer security, which means protection by some class above them. They are always in favour of despots who promise to feed them. The only liberty an inferior man really cherishes is the liberty to quit work, stretch out in the sun, and scratch himself.

H.L. Mencken

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one man were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be in silencing mankind.

John Stuart Mill

The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.

John Stuart Mill

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

John Stuart Mill

Unless that liberty, which is of such a kind as arms can neither procure nor take away, which alone is the fruit of piety, of justice, of temperance, and unadulterated virtue, shall have taken deep root in your minds and hearts, there will not long be wanting one who will snatch it from you by treachery what you have acquired by arms.

John Milton

A nation may lose its liberties in a day and not miss them for a century


Sometimes, and I assure you all that I say this with genuine affection and respect, I get the feeling that [Americans] feel about freedom the way my girlfriend's mother feels about Royal Doulton: you want as much of it as possible, you'll go to enormous lengths and make astonishing sacrifices to get it, but once you've got it you don't like anyone taking it down off the shelf and USING it. It might break.

Marna Nightingale

Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It's not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights--the "right" to education, the "right" to health care, the "right" to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery--hay and a barn for human cattle. There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

P.J. O'Rourke

There is only one basic human right and that is the right to do as you damn well please, and with that right comes the only human duty; the duty to take the consequences.

P.J. O'Rourke

The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave, is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation property in the generations that are to follow.

Thomas Paine

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it: the storms may enter, the rain may enter, but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined dwelling.

William Pitt

The political and media establishments haven't quite realized that consumers want the right to control their own lives, not simply to ask favors from officials.

Virginia Postrel

Order is the daughter, not the mother of Liberty.

Marcel Proudhon

As the bird feels about the net that entangles it, so do men feel about those who rule them.

Chinese Proverb

One of the "legitimate concerns of law enforcement" seems to be that I was born innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around.

Jim Ray

In order to make every man feel himself perfectly secure in the possession of every right that belongs to him, it is not only necessary that the judicial should be separated from the executive power, but that it should be rendered as much as possible independent of that power.

Adam Smith

In the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it.

Adam Smith

[Freedom is] the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their "betters".

Thomas Sowell

A man's liberties are none the less aggressed upon because those who coerce him do so in the belief that he will be benefitted.

Herbert Spencer

Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not on the equal freedom of others.

Herbert Spencer

Freedom is more than a free vote. Britain is defined not by the one day in five years that it goes to the polls but by the broader framework of which that vote is an expression. [. . .] If you look at healthy nations, competitive electoral politics is often the final stage of their journey: property rights, the rule of law, enforceable contracts and many other things come first.

Mark Steyn

The plague of mankind is the fear and rejection of diversity: monotheism, monarchy, monogamy--and in our age monomedicine. The belief that there is only one right way to live is the root cause of the greatest threat to man: members of his own species, bent on ensuring his salvation, security and sanity.

Thomas Szasz

Conservatives want to make people virtuous; liberals want to make them healthy. Both believe that using the state to accomplish their aim is legitimate. That is why both favor anti-drug laws, psychiatric coercions, and other assaults against individual freedom and responsibility, couched in therapeutic terms.

Thomas Szasz

When even one American--who has done nothing wrong--is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.

Harry S. Truman

It is a worthy thing to fight for one's freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man's.

Mark Twain

Most people would rather have comfort than freedom. The paradox is that you can't really have the former, in the long term, unless you have the latter.

Amanda Walker

Nationality is a fetter.

Adam Weishaupt

Freedom is not for children. Freedom means responsibility. It means making tough decisions yourself. Freedom is not government. Almost all government is the enemy of freedom; the bigger the government, the more powerful the enemy.

Bill Whittle

[M]any people, perhaps most people in this world, fear freedom. They will never admit it, but it is true. When the lights go out and they look at the ceiling before they go to sleep, the idea of being responsible for themselves, for feeding and clothing and defending and ordering their lives, scares the living shit out of most people out there.

Poor, servile Gonzalo, Ward of the State, is not the aberration; he is the norm. We ignore that fact at our own peril, fellow citizens. Everybody wants a little freedom, little bite-sized pieces of freedom, like a cheap toy handed out in the state-sponsored Happy Meal. But real freedom, untrammeled, unrefined, raw self-determination: that requires more than a vague desire. That requires some guts.

Bill Whittle

Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.

Malcolm X

If you're not ready to die for it, put the word "freedom" out of your vocabulary.

Malcolm X

You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

Malcolm X

You don't have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.

Malcolm X

Conservative [Republicans] think freedom of religion means you can freely pick your sect of Christianity.

Kathryn A. Graham

Whatever you think, you are under no compulsion to broadcast it. Free speech is a restraint on government, not an incitement to the citizen.

Dean Acheson

Politically popular speech has always been protected: even the Jews were free to say "Heil Hitler".

Isaac Asimov

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.

Louis Brandeis

When you can't say "fuck," you can't say "Fuck the government."

Lenny Bruce

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

Noam Chomsky

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.

Benjamin Franklin

When they took the fourth amendment, I was silent because I don't deal drugs. When they took the sixth amendment, I kept quiet because I know I'm innocent. When they took the second amendment, I said nothing because I don't own a gun. Now they've come for the first amendment, and I can't say anything at all.

Tim Freeman

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Thomas Jefferson

For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.

Thomas Jefferson

At the root of technological progress is a rhetorical environment that makes it possible for inventors to be heard. . . . Free speech leads to riches.

D.N. McCloskey

Free speech is important . . .it allows us to keep tabs on all the real jerks out there.

Ted Nugent

Free speech, to be free, has to cover everyone, not just the politically fashionable.

Robert Samuelson

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.

A.J. Liebling

Freemasons (n): An order with secret rites, grotesque ceremonies and fantastic costumes, which, originating in the reign of Charles II, among working artisans of London, has been joined successively by the dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming up distinguished recruits among the pre-creational inhabitants of Chaos and the Formless Void. The order was founded at different times by Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucius, Thothmes, and Buddha. Its emblems and symbols have been found in the Catacombs of Paris and Rome, on the stones of the Parthenon and the Chinese Great Wall, among the temples of Karnak and Palmyra and in the Egyptian Pyramids always by a Freemason.

Ambrose Bierce

Franche est essentialement englaishe ouithe les endinges funnies et lottes de vowelles et les adjectifs en alle les places ronges.

Clint Jackson Baker

French is essentially the first syllables of Latin words spoken with a headcold.

Eugene Holman

English speakers are lucky; we have a supply of good sturdy simple words like DOG and CAT and HAT and SUN. What do French kids write? Chien. Chat. Chapeau. Soliel. They all seem like words that are evading the question. I mean, you look at the word DOG and you say the word DOG and that pretty much sums it up. Jasper is a DOG. "Chien" sounds like an insult; it has a dismissive sneer built right into it. Who could trust a chien? Who couldn't admire the clear-eyed blunt caninity of a DOG?

James Lileks

Breton is essentially Welsh spoken with an aoutRAAAAgeous Franch acSANT.

Daniel von Brighoff

It is more shameful to distrust one's friends than to be deceived by them


Friends help you move. Good friends help you move the body.


Please (v): To lay the foundation for a superstructure of imposition.

Ambrose Bierce

Friendship (n): A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.

Ambrose Bierce

Hostility (n): A peculiarly sharp and specially applied sense of the earth's overpopulation. Hostility is classed as active and passive; as (respectively) the feeling of a woman for her female friends, and that which she entertains for all the rest of her sex.

Ambrose Bierce

Friendless (adj): Having no favours to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.

Ambrose Bierce

Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.

Ambrose Bierce

Antipathy (n): The sentiment inspired by one's friend's friend.

Ambrose Bierce

Hospitality (n): The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food and lodging.

Ambrose Bierce

The road to a friend's house is never long.

Danish Proverb

The test of friendship is assistance in adversity, and that too, unconditional assistance. Co-operation which needs consideration is a commercial contract and not friendship. Conditional co-operation is like adulterated cement which does not bind.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Friendship that insists upon agreement on all matters is not worth the name. Friendship to be real must ever sustain the weight of honest differences, however sharp they be.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

No friendship is so cordial or so delicious as that of girl for girl; no hatred so intense or immovable as that of woman for woman.


To our friends, the good guys. And to our enemies, the bad guys. And to the hope that someday we will be able to tell the difference.

Keith Laumer


When you're in high school, you think you'll be friends 4 EVR! but it usually doesn't work out that way. When you're in your 20s, there's so much future en route you don't give much thought to the permanence and endurance of your friendships, but when you're 40 and find that somehow you've dragged these guys along through your triumphs and misadventures, it hits you: you'll carry my box or I'll carry yours.

Being guys, this awkward love cannot be acknowledged. A toast to that one waitress everyone wanted to date, however, will do.

James Lileks

Friendship is a common belief in the same fallacies, mountebanks, and hobgoblins.

H.L. Mencken

When a man laughs at his troubles he loses a good many friends. They never forgive the loss of their prerogative.

H.L. Mencken

The chief office of a friend is to support you even when you are wrong.

Mark Twain

What is the use of lighting the lamp if there is no wick?

Malaysian Proverb

No matter how hard you throw a dead fish into the water, it still won't swim.

Marian Stevens

Future (n): That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.

Ambrose Bierce

The future isn't what it used to be.

Arthur C. Clarke

The meek will inherit the earth. The rest of us are going to the stars.

Robert A. Heinlein

We must look forward to the future as that is where most of us will be spending the rest of our lives.

Charles Kettering

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