Navigation Bar
MAIN Cheap Thoughts Cheap Thoughts Index Cheap Thoughts on Science Really Cheap Thoughts Index


Cheap Thoughts




Variety, the Spice of Life

Virtue and Vice


Variety, the Spice of Life
or, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC)


All people are different. That's why everybody should be treated the same.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


It is good to know something of the customs of different peoples in order to judge more sanely of our own, and not to think that everything of a fashion not ours is absurd and contrary to reason, as do those who have seen nothing.
     Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method (1637)


If you are hoping to find something unexpected, to be different is an advantage.
     Freeman Dyson, From Eros to Gaia (1992)
     "Telescopes and Accelerators" (1988)


One sign of maturity is the ability to be comfortable with people who are not like us.
     Virgil A. Kraft


"The world is beautiful because it's all different."
     Primo Levi, The Monkey's Wrench (1978)
     "'With Malice Aforethought'"


"The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."
"And the ways our differences combine to create meaning and beauty."
     Miranda and Spock, "Is There In Truth No Beauty?"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


"We've each learned to be delighted with what we are. The Vulcans learned that centuries before we did."
"It is basic to the Vulcan philosophy, sir. The combination of a number of things to make existence worthwhile."
     Kirk and Spock, "The Savage Curtain"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


In my time, we knew not of Earthmen. I am pleased to see that we have differences. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.
     'Surak', "The Savage Curtain"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station.
     Commander Sisko, "In the Hands of the Prophets"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


LAS: And humanoids are not very tolerant of difference.
ODO: Some of them are. There are dozens of species on this station; they tolerate each other's differences very well.
LAS: Hmm. (pointing at passers-by on the Promenade) He has bumps on his forehead, she has a wrinkled nose, nut basically, they're alike: they're bipeds — they eat, sleep, breathe. You and I are nothing like them.
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse-races.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"


People are made different. And it is the best way.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective (1894)


There is no way of accounting for people. You have to take them as they are.
     Mark Twain, The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)


In this world one must be like everybody else if he doesn't want to provoke scorn or envy or jealousy.
     Mark Twain, "The Double-Barreled Detective Story" (1902)


All life demands change, variety, contrast, — else there is small zest to it.
     Mark Twain, F. Walker and G. E. Dane (eds.), 
     Mark Twain's Travels with Mr. Brown (1940)



Virtue and Vice


I'm as pure as the driven slush.
     Tallulah Bankhead


Self-denial is indulgence of a propensity to forego.
     Ambrose Bierce


Abstainer, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Hypocrite, n. One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Immoral, adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard to the greater number of instances men find to be generally inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral. If man's notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from and nowise dependent on, their consequences — then all philosophy is a lie and reason a disorder of the mind.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Moral, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Virtues, n. pl. Certain abstentions.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


It is much easier to repent of sins that we have committed than to repent of those we intend to commit.
     Josh Billings


Morality is the custom of one's country and the current feeling of one's peers. Cannibalism is moral in a cannibal country.
     Samuel Butler


It is the function of vice to keep virtue within reasonable bounds.
     Samuel Butler, Note-Books (1912)


Virtuous, adj. Lacking opportunity to be otherwise.
     Victor L. Cahn


Vice is its own reward.
     Quentin Crisp


Nice guys finish last, but we get to sleep in.
     Evan Davis


I prefer the wicked rather than the foolish. The wicked sometimes rest.
     Alexandre Dumas pŔre


Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.
     Benjamin Franklin


The greatest pleasure I know, is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident.
     Charles Lamb


It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
     Abraham Lincoln


Attention, all personnel. Tonight's war department film on how to lead a good clean life has been canceled due to unusually heavy indifference.
     PA Announcer in MASH (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)
     "Germ Warfare"


Puritanism — The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — Arcana CŠlestia"


Immorality is the morality of those who are having a better time.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"


Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99% of them are wrong.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"


Self-Respect - The secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"


Temptation is an irresistible force at work on a movable body.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "SententiŠ — The Mind of Man"

The most effective way of attacking vice is to expose it to ridicule. We can stand rebukes, but not laughter; we don't mind seeming wicked, but we hate to look silly.
     MoliŔre, Tartuffe (1664)


When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
     Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)


First secure an independent income, then practice virtue.
     Greek Proverb


The excess of a virtue is a vice.
     Greek Proverb


Those who are once found to be bad are presumed to be so forever.
     Latin Proverb


Hypocrisy is the homage that vice offers to virtue.
     Franšois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


If you're going to do something wrong, at least enjoy it.
     Leo Rosten


Morality consists in suspecting other people of not being legally married.
     George Bernard Shaw


Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the vices.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)
     "Maxims for Revolutionists"


Moral indignation is in most cases two percent moral, forty-eight percent indignation, and fifty percent envy.
     Vittorio De Sica


The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.
     Elizabeth Taylor


It is not so important that many should be as good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)


Our whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice. Goodness is the only investment that never fails.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)
     "Higher Laws"


The price of purity is purists.
     Calvin Trillin


Now I don't approve of dissipation, and I don't indulge in it, either; but I haven't a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices ...
     Mark Twain, "Answers to Correspondents" (1865)


What is your Motto? — Be virtuous and you will be eccentric.
     Mark Twain, "Mental Photographs" (1869)


I suppose French morality is not of that strait-laced description which is shocked at trifles.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)


Virtue has never been as respectable as money.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)


The missionaries have christianized and educated all the natives. ... They are inveterate church-goers — nothing can keep them away. All this ameliorating cultivation has at last built up in the native women a profound respect for chastity — in other people. Perhaps that is enough to say on that head.
     Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)


The most permanent lessons in morals are those which come not of booky teaching, but of experience.
     Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)


... I knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn't no use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don't get started right when he's little ain't got no show ... Then I thought a minute and says to myself, hold on; s'pose you'd 'a' done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I'd feel bad — I'd feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I, what's the use you learning to do right when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was stuck. I couldn't answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn't bother no more about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


A man should not be without morals; it is better to have bad morals than none at all.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1894


Each race determines for itself what indecencies are. Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1896


Be good and you will be lonesome.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897), frontispiece


The Pudd'nhead Maxims: These wisdoms are for the luring of youth toward high moral altitudes. The author did not gather them from practice, but from observation. To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


There is a Moral Sense and there is an Immoral Sense. History shows us that the Moral Sense enables us to perceive morality and how to avoid it, and that the Immoral Sense enables us to perceive immorality and how to enjoy it.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


He was one of them kind that don't commit no sin themselves, but ain't satisfied with that, but won't let anybody else have a good time if they can help it.
     Mark Twain, "Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy" (1897-1902?)
     Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among The Indians 
     and other unfinished stories (1989)


"You were easy game. You had an old and lofty reputation for honesty, and naturally you were proud of it — it was your treasure of treasures, the very apple of your eye. As soon as I found out that you carefully and vigilantly kept yourselves and your children out of temptation, I knew how to proceed. Why, you simple creatures, the weakest of all weak things is a virtue which has not been tested in the fire."
     Mark Twain, "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" (1899)


To the pure all things are impure.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1900


Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
     Mark Twain, card sent to Young People's Society, Brooklyn (1901)


I don't claim to have all the virtues — only nine or ten of them.
     Mark Twain, "Osteopathy" (speech, February 27, 1901)


The girl who was rebuked for having borne an illegitimate child, excused herself by saying, "But it is such a little one."
     Mark Twain, "To My Missionary Critics" (1901)


We didn't break the Sabbath often enough to signify. Once a week, perhaps. But we were good boys, good and all that; anyway, we were good Presbyterian boys when the weather was doubtful; when it was fair, we did wander a little from the fold.
     Mark Twain. "Sixty-Seventh Birthday" 
     (speech, November 28, 1902)


We ought never to do wrong when people are looking.
     Mark Twain, "The Double-Barreled Detective Story" (1902)


It's my opinion that every one I know has morals, though I wouldn't like to ask. I know I have. But I'd rather teach them than practice them any day. "Give them to others" — that's my motto. Then you never have any use for them when you're left without.
     Mark Twain, "Morals and Memory" (speech, March 7, 1906)


Now, I recall that when I was a boy I was a good boy — I was a very good boy. Why, I was the best boy in my school. I was the best boy in that little Mississippi town where I lived. ... But even those nearest and dearest to me couldn't seem to see it. My mother, especially, seemed to think there was something wrong with that estimate. And she never got over that prejudice.
     Mark Twain, "Morals and Memory" (speech, March 7, 1906)


Do right for your own sake, and be happy in knowing that your neighbor will certainly share in the benefits resulting.
     Mark Twain, "What Is Man?" (1906)


Earn a character first if you can, and if you can't, then assume one.
     Mark Twain, "General Miles and the Dog" 
     (speech, December 22, 1907)


There are three things which come to my mind which I consider excellent advice: First, girls, don't smoke — that is, don't smoke to excess. ... Second, don't drink — that is, don't drink to excess. Third, don't marry — I mean, to excess.
     Mark Twain, "Commencement Address at St. 
     Timothy's School for Girls" (June 9, 1909)


I have been on the verge of being an angel all my life, but it's never happened yet.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


"Do right and you will be conspicuous." [Quoted from Mark Twain's notebook]
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine, 
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)


... it had swimming pools, too, which were forbidden to us and therefore much frequented by us. For we were little Christian children and had early been taught the value of forbidden fruit.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


I always got my tickets and exchanged them for a book. They were pretty dreary books, for there was not a bad boy in the entire bookcase. They were all good boys and good girls and drearily uninteresting, but they were better society than none, and I was glad to have their company and disapprove of it.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)


Do good when you can, and charge when you think they will stand it.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Golden rule: Made of hard metal so it could stand severe wear, it not being known at that time that butter would answer.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


It is not best to use our morals weekdays, it gets them out of repair for Sunday.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


The low level which commercial morality has reached in America is deplorable. We have humble God fearing Christian men among us who will stoop to do things for a million dollars that they ought not to be willing to do for less than 2 millions.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


Morals consist of political morals, commercial morals, ecclesiastical morals, and morals.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


To be good is noble, but to show others how to be good is nobler, and no trouble.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)


M. de L.'s new French dictionary just issued in Paris defines virtue as "A woman who has only one lover and don't steal."
     Mark Twain, Merle Johnson, A Bibliography of Mark Twain (1935)


[The Nicaraguan damsels]: They are virtuous according to their lights, but I guess their lights are a little dim.
     Mark Twain, F. Walker and G. E. Dane (eds.), 
     Mark Twain's Travels with Mr. Brown (1940)


I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
     Mae West


The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
     Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance (1893)


Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" (1894)


What's right is what's left if you do everything else wrong.
     Robin Williams


A hick town is one in which there is no place to go where you shouldn't be.
     Alexander Woollcott


All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.
     Alexander Woollcott, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.), 
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)