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The Fall of Rome

August 20th, 2013 . by maria

But, we love to think we’re secure. We love to believe that, no matter what, there will always be a safety net. We love to think that we deserve time off – we who spend hours a day on our computers or televisions or games or hobbies – we deserve a break from all this. But the truth is, no matter what plans and promises have been made, nothing is guaranteed, and the things you depend on will eventually fail. (You know this is true…you know people who have lost jobs, houses, marriages…) So, exercise your independence and ingenuity now, as much as you can, no matter what your situation. Be your own strength, and turn to God for the strength you lack. Enjoy your life, but don’t be lulled into thinking it can’t change; work to improve and sustain it daily.

Inspired by this quote:

“In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life and they lost it all – security, comfort and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society, but for society to give to them; when the freedom they wished for most was the freedom from responsibility, then the Athenians ceased to be free.” – Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


May 12th, 2011 . by maria

“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”
–William James, The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1

 Initiative isn’t given, you take it. The amazing thing is that unlike taking an apple or a chocolate bar, there’s no loss to the rest of us. After you take it, we all benefit. There’s one other thing you can take at work, easily and with approval: responsibility. In fact, they sort of have to go together. One without the other is a mess.
Seth Godin

Atheism is such an intolerant religion.
Orson Scott Card

You can never get enough of what you don’t really need to make you happy (Eric Hoffer).

Lloyd Shearer used to write this as a New Years resolution in Parade magazine:
“Be compassionate with the striving, tender with young and the aged, tolerant of the wrong and the weak. You will have been all of these in your lifetime.”

As Elizabethan poet and statesman Fulke Greville has written, “Our companions please us less from the charms we find in their conversation than from those they find in ours.”

William Morris admonished, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”


In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he’s tired. Everyone is. That’s not the point. The point is to run. – Seth Godin

Nietzche explained it well: “The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”

Have you ever heard a piano played by a young student, and then played by the master teacher? Or seen shop tools handled by a middle school student, and then handled by a master craftsman? What a difference the same tools make in the proper hands. – Anonymous,,1

If you’re not the one creating the change, perhaps it’s time to start. – Seth Godin

The realistic pictures can’t show anyone why they would want the better thing, whatever it is. The better-ness parts are all on the inside, just like people.
– Anthony Zuppero, “To Inhabit the Solar System”

Successful zealots don’t argue to win. They argue to move the goalposts and to make it appear sane to do so. – Seth Godin

As George Orwell observed, “But what is work and what is not work? Is it work to dig, to carpenter, to plant trees, to fell trees, to ride, to fish, to hunt, to feed chickens, to play the piano, to take photographs, to build a house, to cook, to sew, to trim hats, to mend motor bicycles? All of these things are work to somebody, and all of them are play to somebody.”

The less a project or task or opportunity at work feels like the sort of thing you would do if this is just a job, the more you should do it. – Seth Godin

Nearly everyone in the room was idealistic in this way. They would not be
here if they did not harbor some kind of irrational illusion about the
compatibility between humans and space. They believed that whatever we
wanted to do would be completely doable. All we needed was the decision to
do it. Unrealistic as it was, the concept of us doing whatever we imagined
was ok. After all, at least two people who actually walked on the moon
were here at this meeting.
– Anthony Zuppero, “To Inhabit The Solar System”


February 18th, 2010 . by maria

When you take effective action you’re not attached to the end result, you’re committed – you make it work. Here’s the difference. Being attached to the end result means the process must look a certain way. It’s got to happen the way you think it’s going to happen. There are steps involved and it MUST BE DONE this way. That’s a clear sign of attachment. Being committed is quite different.

When you’re committed you act effectively with the end in mind. You could care less of how it happens or what it looks like. You just know that you’re going to find a way to make it happen and are open to possibilities. It doesn’t have to look a certain way, instead you adjust your actions and thought processes along the way.
– Steve Martile

As companies expand, the people within them start to specialize. At such a point, some managers will conclude that they have a ‘keep everyone on the same page’ problem. But often what they actually have is a ‘stop people from meddling when there are already enough smart people working on something’ problem.” – Joel Spolsky

Relying too much on proof distracts you from the real mission–which is emotional connection.
– Seth Godin

Once you can become restless enough to persistently challenge the status quo, you’re on your way back to being the artistic genius you used to be. – Seth Godin

“Everything should be made as simple as it needs to be, and no simpler.” Albert Einstein.

“There can be no joy in living without joy in work.” St. Thomas Aquinas

Nothing can stop a man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong attitude. –Thomas Jefferson

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. –Viktor Frankl

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. –Dr. Seuss

This observation by Samuel Johnson keeps springing to my mind: “Since every man is obliged to promote happiness and virtue, he should be careful not to mislead unwary minds, by appearing to set too high a value upon things by which no real excellence is conferred.”

Assuredly a most benignant power built up the majestic fabric we inhabit,
and framed the laws by which it endures. If mere existence, and not
happiness, had been the final end of our being, what need of the profuse
luxuries which we enjoy? Why should our dwelling place be so lovely, and
why should the instincts of nature minister pleasurable sensations? The
very sustaining of our animal machine is made delightful; and our
sustenance, the fruits of the field, is painted with transcendant hues,
endued with grateful odours, and palatable to our taste. Why should this
be, if HE were not good?
-Mary Shelley, The Last Man

I am glad now to feel the current of thought flow through
my mind, as the blood through the articulations of my frame; mere existence
is pleasure; and I thank God that I live!
-Mary Shelley, The Last Man

Goethe wrote: “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather.”

Tasks, plain ordinary work, done with purpose and in love have such incredible meaning. – Joan B.

More people are killed by deer than sharks, but you don’t see park rangers running around like nutcases.
– Seth Godin

More time does not create better decisions. …More information may help. More time without more information just creates anxiety, not insight. – Seth Godin

“It is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbors, or even our relations.” –Bertrand Russell

I’m awfully sorry for people who are taken in by all of today’s dietary mumbo jumbo. They are not getting any enjoyment out of their food.

You must have discipline to have fun.

Sooner or later the public will forget you, the memory of you will fade. What’s important are the individuals you’ve influenced along the way.

– Julia Child

Part of the debtor mentality is a constant, frantically suppressed undercurrent of terror. We have one of the highest debt-to-income ratios in the world, and apparently most of us are two paychecks from the street. Those in power — governments, employers — exploit this, to great effect. Frightened people are obedient — not just physically, but intellectually and emotionally. If your employer tells you to work overtime, and you know that refusing could jeopardize everything you have, then not only do you work the overtime, but you convince yourself that you’re doing it voluntarily, out of loyalty to the company; because the alternative is to acknowledge that you are living in terror. Before you know it, you’ve persuaded yourself that you have a profound emotional attachment to some vast multinational corporation: you’ve indentured not just your working hours, but your entire thought process. The only people who are capable of either unfettered action or unfettered thought are those who — either because they’re heroically brave, or because they’re insane, or because they know themselves to be safe — are free from fear.
from The Likeness, a novel set in Ireland, by Tana French.

Spanish proverb, “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.”

Your motives are more important than your abilities.
Young Professionals: Cultivate the Habits of Friendship
by David Maister 2005

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”
–T. H. White, The Sword in the Stone


December 31st, 2009 . by maria

St. Augustine said: “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page.”

So quit diligently developing your weaknesses. Instead, partner with someone very UNlike you, share the work and share the wealth and everyone’s happy. – Marti Barletta, speaker, consultant and author of Marketing to Women and PrimeTime Women

There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. – Jim Hightower, the colorful Texas populist

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.” –Epicurus

Of the immediate and small and common and momentary things of life, of usages and observances and modes and conventions, he builds up fortifications against the powers of darkness. – Widdershins, by Oliver Onions

…horror, when it can be proved to be relative, by so much loses its proper quality…- Widdershins, by Oliver Onions

If there’s no provision for enforcement, then the law isn’t really a law at all. – Orson Scott Card,

We place a high value on sophistication, because we’ve been trained to seek it out as a cue for what lies ahead. We figure that if someone is too clueless to understand our norms, they probably don’t understand how to make us a product or service that we’ll like. – Seth Godin

Backstory is a richer source of character than forestory.
– Orson Scott Card

A 50%-good solution that people actually have solves more problems and survives longer than a 99% solution that nobody has because it’s in your lab where you’re endlessly polishing the damn thing. Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it.
– “The Duct Tape Programmer” by Joel Spolsky (

Belief in a shared crusade—and a sense that the tools and opportunities are available to achieve that goal—is an intensely liberating feeling. People get a sense that they have control over their own destiny.. – Jono Bacon, The Art of Community

You should be aware right now that some people are going to frustrate you. Some people will be too quick to act and opine on a subject, and some will be too timid and reluctant to put their hands up. Some people will obsess about the wrong things and regularly produce what appears to be a tempest in a teacup. But then again, some people will inspire you with their sense of responsibility, their ability to react to situations with grace and elegance, and their willingness to care for the community. As a community leader you will experience all sides of human nature, from strength and innovation to weakness and uncertainty. Whatever you hear from your community, you should endeavor to be the best listener that you can. – Jono Bacon, The Art of Community

In any community, entitlement is an enemy: it values the person over the contribution, creating unrealistic expectations about how people should be treated. – Jono Bacon, The Art of Community

“A man does not work only for the sake of producing, but to set a value on his time. We feel more satisfied with ourselves and with our day if we have stirred up our minds and made a good start, or have finished a piece of work.” –Eugene Delacroix

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” –Henry David Thoreau

Gilb’s Law of Quantification: there is always a way to measure that is better than not measuring at all.

In fact, everyone is always doing their best under the circumstances….That’s because in this moment, given the perceptions someone is holding, the way they behave is in fact the only way they can behave…If you don’t like the way someone is acting, understand you can’t change his behavior, you can only change his circumstances. – Seth Godin

That must be a dull spirit that cannot suspend its toil when the sun is setting in glory, or the violet rainbow appears on the cloud. – A Crystal Age, by W. H. Hudson

If it had consisted with his plan to make these delicate mortal bodies capable of every agreeable sensation in the highest degree, yet not liable to accident, and not subject to misery and pain, he would surely have done this for all of us. But reason and nature show us that such an end did not consist with his plan; therefore to ask him to suspend the operations of nature for the benefit of any individual sufferer, however poignant and unmerited the sufferings may be, is to shut our eyes to the only light he has given us. – A Crystal Age, by W. H. Hudson

the practice of introspection has a corrosive effect on the mind, which only serves to aggravate the malady it is intended to cure. – A Crystal Age, by W. H. Hudson

After all the effort, all the Visions, I got old instead of making it happen. – Anthony Zuppero, To Inhabit the Solar System

You can buy peeled fish in the store. You can’t buy a rocket to take half the United States to Mars in the store. – Anthony Zuppero, To Inhabit the Solar System


November 13th, 2008 . by maria

No pain in love is so hard to bear as that which comes from the impossibility of doing any service for the well-beloved, and no service is so repulsive that love cannot make it delightful and easy. -Somerset Maugham, The Hero

“If you choose to read a book today, it’s not like a hundred years ago, when that was your only option. Today, when you read a book, you’re making a conscious decision not to play a video game, not to surf the web, not to watch a movie, not to turn on the TV. It does require a certain discipline to make that decision.” Neal Stephenson

Anger, resentment, envy and self-pity are wasteful reactions that greatly drain one’s time and sap energy better devoted to productive endeavors. Of course it is important to be a good listener — but it also pays, sometimes, to be a little deaf. – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Voltaire: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

you don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling yourself how great you are, or even from other people telling you how great you are. You get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that you find estimable. – Gretchen Rubin,


June 10th, 2008 . by maria

I’ve been saving these up. In random order, uncategorized, just throwing them out here…

It is not that science disproves — or tries to disprove — the existence of God. The acts of a transcendent creator are simply outside the realm of anything that science can examine…Ability to explain things without reference to God does not prove or even indicate the nonexistence of God. … The concept of “good” recedes infinitely, resisting noncircular definition. Even when you find a good definition of “good,” you can’t say why it is a better definition than any other. But people of faith in a normative religion have decided and committed themselves to a code of decent conduct, not because it has been scientifically proven to be “better,” but because they believe it to be better on an admittedly unscientific basis. – Orson Scott Card, author

”I have learned that people put in a corner must fight or crumble, and the rightness of my position can be lost in the defeat of a person.” Bill Pollard, author The Soul of the Firm

Natural inclinations are assisted and reinforced by education, but they are hardly ever altered or overcome.” — Montaigne

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. – Voltaire”

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”
“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”
– Bruce Lee

Someone who walks into Best Buy and pays for a 47-inch plasma television with a credit card does not comprehend the difference between an asset and a liability. -Robert,

people are made anxious by free-floating blame that hasn’t settled. Once someone says, “I messed up,” “That was my fault,” or “I’m sorry,” everyone can relax, forgive, and move on. – Gretchen Rubin,

It is always a mistake to wait passively for bureaucracies and government agencies to “save” us.
Jerry White, co-founder of Survivor Corps (formerly Landmine Survivors Newwork), & author of “I Will Not Be Broken: Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis.”

“The steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel… ”
“Most people would rather die than think. Many often do. ”
“Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets replaced.”
-Dave Northrup

…how much security do we want? …A world without failure is a world without freedom. A world without the possibility of sin is a world without the possibility of righteousness. A world without the possibility of crime is a world where you cannot prove you are not a criminal. A technology that can give you everything you want is a technology that can take away everything that you have. At some point, real soon now, some of us security geeks will have to say that there comes a point at which safety is not safe. – Dan Geer’s remarks at Source Boston 2008:

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created–created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination. – John Schaar


June 10th, 2008 . by maria

What moves men of genius, or rather, what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” – Gretchen Rubin,

“A man gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of his day, and when I am in this state I find that I thoroughly enjoy my rest and even the mildest forms of recreation.”
“One always has to spoil a picture a little in order to finish it.”
“A man does not work only for the sake of producing, but to set a value on his time. We feel more satisfied with ourselves and with our day if we have stirred up our minds and made a good start, or have finished a piece of work.”
– Eugene Delacroix.


March 24th, 2008 . by maria

“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought –Henry Bergson.”

it is intrinsically easier to compromise an organisation’s security where that organisation has chosen to entrust its data to a third party – Chris Linfoot

Quotes and Books

December 5th, 2007 . by maria

“The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret” –

“If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it.” – Epictetus

“When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.” – Unknown

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” – Albert Schweitzer

Albert Einstein: “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

• When we rationalize things we tend to cut ourselves slack and lean towards the option with the least effort.
• The more excuses I make the more tedious it gets, the less polished my skills.
– Baron VC ,

Everytime money changes hands, the Government gets a little piece of it. In theory, if money changes hands often enough, THE GOVERNMENT GETS ALL OF IT!! -Anonymous

Recent good-looking books from Gutenberg:

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley Grauman Weinbaum >

They had some Shakespeare and DH Lawrence up recently, too, but I didn’t save the links. Check it out at


September 12th, 2007 . by maria

I, for one, am sick of hearing people blame those in authority as if they were expected to have the wisdom, power, and perfection of God. It’s about time to start judging other people by the standard we wish to have applied to ourselves. If you have ever expected other people to cut you a little slack and overlook your mistakes, then have the decency, when they make mistakes, to try to give them the benefit of the doubt, too.

Orson Scott Card (writer)