Quotes of Note

“A book is a hand stretched forth in the dark passage of life to see if there is another to meet it.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Some women have a weakness for shoes. . . I can go barefoot if necessary. I have a weakness for books.” – Oprah Winfrey

“The commas are the most useful and useable of all the stops.  It is highly important to put them in place as you go along.  If you try to come back after doing a paragraph and stick them in the various spots that tempt you, you will discover that they tend to swarm like minnows into all sorts of crevices whose existence you hadn’t realized, and before long the whole sentence becomes immobilized and lashed up squirming in commas.  Better to use them sparingly and with affection. Precisely when the need for each arises.  Nicely.  By itself. . . Exclamation Points are the most irritating of all.  ‘Look,’ they say, ‘Look at what I just said. How amazing is my thought.’  It is like being forced to watch someone else’s small child jumping up and down crazily in the center of the living room shouting to attract attention.  If a sentence really has something of importance to say, something quite remarkable, it doesn’t need a mark to point it out.  And if it really is, after all, a banal sentence needing more zing, the exclamation point simply emphasizes its banality.” – “Notes on Punctuation” from The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher, Lewis Thomas

“I don’t know how history is taught here in Japan, but in the United States in my college days, most of the time was spent on the study of political leaders and wars—Caesars, Napoleons, and Hitlers.  I think this is totally wrong.  The important people and events of history are the thinkers and innovators, the Darwins, Newtons, Beethovens whose work continues to grow in influence in a positive fashion.” – Mathematician Claude Shannon quoted in The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

“The English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was not what he called ‘a loyal Beethovenite,’ but when he came to write down his thoughts on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony he had to confess that he was ‘left dumb in the presence of its greatness.’  Of the first two movements he said they were ‘like no other music before or since.  It seems sometimes to have come from the eternal source of truth without human intervention.’ When we think of eternity, he went on, ‘we turn to Beethoven.’” – Fifty Things You Need to Know about World History, Hugh Williams

“After years of working with a psychiatrist, I have finally forgiven myself for not being Beethoven.” – Neil Diamond

“Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life.  I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing . . . All of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  I hope she is finally at peace with herself.  As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again . . . There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart.” – An actual obituary according to the book  Ultimate Book of Trivia: The Essential Collection of over 1,000 Curious Facts to Impress Your Friends and Expand Your Mind by Scott McNeely

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