On Supporting Education or Building Jails

Mark Twain on educations vs. more jails

“Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.”
-Mark Twain

Allowing schools to slowly wither through lack of funding only means money will be spent later building a jail – social institutions are funded by the public’s priorities. We should consider the implications of what it means when we build a school versus when we build a jail.

More fully supporting one will diminish the other.

Image credit: Todd Petrie, courtesy flickr

On Spelling

Mark Twain on spelling - there's more than one way to skin a cat

Please mountain the premicies tidy. Thank you.

I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.
-Mark Twain

Mark Twain would not abide spellcheck.

A Letter From Santa Claus

A Letter from Santa ClausBy Mark Twain

I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me… I can read your and your baby sister’s jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well.

You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters – I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself – and kissed both of you, too… But there were one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock…

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On the Meaning of Christmas

Seeing clearly the true meaning of Christmas - Mark Twain's words in letter to a friend“The xmas holidays have this high value: that they remind Forgetters of the Forgotten, & repair damaged relationships.”
-Mark Twain, letter to Carlotte Welles, 30 December 1907

Christmas is love. All else obscures its essential meaning.

Image credit: caruba, courtesy Flickr


On Reality and Having an Active Inner Life

“Life does not consist mainly – or even largely – of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head”
-Mark Twain

Still waters run deep. The life of the mind is life itself.

On Town Hall Meetings

“The thug is aware that loudness convinces sixty persons where reasoning convinces but one.
-Mark Twain

But those sixty people are convinced of an argument upon which there is no basis in reason – the thug makes a fool of his followers and a mockery of rational thought.

On Blowing Smoke

“It is a talent by itself to pay compliments gracefully and have them ring true. It is an art in itself.”
– Mark Twain, speech, “The Lost Lotos Club”

You da’ man… No you da’ man… 

On the Value of Education

“Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.”
-Mark Twain

The better the education, the more you know what you don’t know – unless you’re too stupid. Then you know everything.

On Seizing the Day

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
-Mark Twain

To all there comes but once chance at each day, and then the opportunity to live it to its fullest is gone. For most, regret is of lost opportunities, not mistaken actions. Seize the day!

On the Illusion of Original Thought

“We are nothing but echoes. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own, we are but a compost heap made up of the decayed heredities, moral and physical.”
-Mark Twain

We may believe that we’ve whistled a new tune or scratched out a new phrase more beautiful or clever than anyone thought to do before. We are but fooling ourselves and have only to thank all who have gone before us, throughout the long eons of time, for such foolishness.