As some of you might remember from last year’s CALL/ACBD conference, I happened to be lucky enough to win a $300 dollar shopping spree courtesy of Oceana/Oxford publishing. I would like to say that I bided my time waiting for the holiday book sale but it would be more accurate to say that I didn’t get around to ordering until the deadline was approaching and was pleasantly surprised to discover the holiday book sale. Regardless, I headed for the reference section and was lucky enough to get 9 wonderful tomes that I likely would not have purchased otherwise. That January day, when they arrived, was like Christmas all over again. Getting to the thrust of this tale, is that one of the books I received was the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, a thoroughly fun volume. Seeing as how Slaw is about research, technology, law, lawyers, computers the Internet and Libraries, I thought I share a few quotes. (I’ve tried to stear clear of the ones we all see and hear often.)


Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing. – R.L. Weber

In research the horizon recedes as we advance, and is no nearer at sixty than it was at twenty. As the power of endurance weakens with age, the urgency of the pursuit grows more intense….And research is always incomplete. – Mark Pattison

If politics is the art of the possible, research is surely the art of the soluble. Both are immensely practical-minded affairs. – Peter Medawar

If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research. – Wilson Mizner.


We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakepeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. – Robert Wilensky This one is possibly my favourite of this list

The Web is exciting for two reasons: One, it’s ubiquitous. There will be Web dial tone everywhere. And anything that’s ubiquitous gets interesting. – Steve Jobs

It turns out people want keyboards. When Apple first started out, people couldn’t type. We realized: Death would eventually take care of this. – Steve Jobs

The Internet is an elite organization; most of the population of the world has never even made a phone call. – Noam Chomsky


Computers are anti-Faraday machines. He said he couldn’t understand anything until he could count it, while computers count everything and understand nothing. – Ralph Cornes

You have riches and freedom here but I feel no sense of faith or direction. You have so many computers, why don’t you use them in the search for love? – Lech Walesa (in Paris, on his first journey outside the Soviet area).


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C. Clarke

After the idea, there is plenty of time to learn the technology. – James Dyson


Come, and take choice of all my library, And so beguile thy sorrow. – William Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus.

No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes, than a public library. – Samual Johnson.

I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library. – F. Scott Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby. Top 5 on my list of favourites


Le despotisme fait illégalement de grandes choses, la liberté ne se donne même pas la peine d’en faire légalement de très petites. – Honoré de Balzac

Our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. – Gerald Ford

Every law is contrary to liberty. – Jeremy Bentham

The Common Law of England has been laboriously build upon a mythical figure – the figure of ‘The Reasonable Man’. – A.P. Herbert Top 5 on my favourite list

Alone from Jargon born to rescue Law,
From precedent, grave hum, and formal saw!
To strip chicanery of its vain pretence,
And marry Common Law to Common Sense!
– Robert Lloyd

A government above the law is a menace to be defeated. – Lord Scarman.

Hard cases make bad law. – Mid 19th Century Proverb.

He that neglects the Law in wealth shall in the end neglect it in poverty. – The Talmud

Ignorance of the law excuses no man; not that all men know the law, but because ‘tis an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to confute him. – John Selden.

Six hours in sleep, in law’s grave study six,
Four spend in prayer, the rest on Nature fix.
– Edward Coke (this is a Bay St. motto or something isn’t it?)

The keystone of the rule of law in England has been the independence of judges. It is the only respect in which we make any real separation of powers. – Lord Denning.

Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained. – Aaron Burr

If the principle were to prevail, of a common law [i.e. a single government] being in force in the U.S. … it would become the most corrupt government on the earth. – Thomas Jefferson.

No brilliance is needed in the law. Nothing but common sense, and relatively clean fingernails. – John Mortimer

No written law has ever been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion. – Carrie Chapman Catt.

People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, the will be enemies to laws; and those, who have much to hope and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous, more or less. – Edmund Burke.

I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution. – Ulysses S. Grant.

In this country … the individual subject… ‘has nothing to do with the laws but to obey them.’ – Samuel Horsley (in 1795)


All of us here know there’s no better way of exercising the imagination than the study of law. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets the truth. – Jen Giraudoux

A law, Hinnissey, that might look like a wall to you or me wud look like a triumphal arch to th’expeeryenced eye iv a lawyer. – Finlay Peter Dunne

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