“Mei Yao-ch'en says: ‘The only chance of life lies in giving up all hope of it.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“Unless you enter the tiger's lair, you cannot get hold of the tiger's cubs.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“But Hawaiʻi's social ills, poverty that is demonstrably an after affect — still — of the Māhele more than a century and a half ago, youth crime and disaffection that come of having one's cultural heritage ripped apart and never mended, the restoration of native identity and the just desire for the return of some amount of autonomy which for decades was never accorded a status equal to that even of American Indians, the natural environment that was nearly obliterated in the worship of sugar, and more, need to be not just addressed but comprehensively, meaningfully, and probably expensively, addressed. But they are not addressed by nostalgia for the chiefly days. People who espouse reincarnation always fancy themselves to have been Henry VIII or Marie Antoinette. No one channels his past to some humble, downtrodden, medieval plowman. In old Hawaiʻi, 999 people in 1,000 were kanakas, digging taro, netting fish, trying to hide their one pig from the chief steward, being throttled on an altar if their shadow crossed an aliʻi. Modern cultural sensitivity obscures an important fact: Hawaiʻi never was a paradise.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“We have to speak for animals because they don't have a voice.”

Mom

“If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.”

Roger Alan Wade

“The Air Force loathed everything about the AX, which soon would be known as the A10. Jokes were made that it was so slow that it suffered bird strikes, from the rear. And that instead of carrying a clock the cockpit had a calendar. The aircraft was so ugly it was called the ‘Warthog’. Many in the Air Force said no airplane could perform or survive in combat as this airplane was supposed to perform. It would be almost twenty years before the A10 had the chance to demonstrate just how wrong its detractors were.”

Robert Coram
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

“Yeah, well ya know, what's so funny is I thought the season was over and, ya know, things were calming down so I started taking some time off, and low and behold The Eddie comes around and, ya know, it's as massive as it gets. So ah, ya know, we train for, ah... life. Ya know, this is a way of life for me. And my training program is just for me to survive whatever happens, whatever's the next thing that comes my way.”

Makua Rothman

“I wore a helmet the other day. When I work with people I make them wear one. I check everybody's knot whether they want me to or not. The right tool for the job is sometimes just a question. ”

Stevie Haston

“For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm's way that it is capable of striking a blow for victory.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“I don't want it if it's that easy.”

Tupac Shakur

“I watched the story that night on the evening news. The blackout episode helped me better understand what was ahead of me. I had been cautious. NSA was a national treasure and my first task had been to do no harm. Now it was clear to me that no course of action I could set out on would be as dangerous to the agency as standing still. Had I known what awaited me and America a year and a half down the road, I might have been even bolder. But the broader lesson stuck: caution isn't always a virtue, not if you're serious about doing your duty.”

General Michael V. Hayden, U.S. Air Force ret., former Director of NSA and CIA
Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

“Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“In 1993, the centenary of the overthrow, President Bill Clinton did the only proper thing to mark the occasion. On the behalf of the rest of the United States, he apologized.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“When you feel like quitting think about why you started.”


“Sun Tzu is represented as saying to Wu Yuan: ‘As a general rule, those who are waging war should get rid of all the domestic troubles before proceeding to attack the external foe.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“There's a temptation for all of us to blame failures on factors outside our control — the enemy was ten feet tall, we weren't treated fairly, or it was an impossible task to begin with. There's also comfort in doubling down on proven processes regardless of their efficacy. Few of us are criticized if we faithfully do what has worked many times before. But feeling comfortable or dodging criticism should not be our measure of success. There's likely a place in paradise for people who tried hard, but what really matters is succeeding. If that requires you to change, that's your mission.”

General Stanley A. McChrystal, U.S. Army, ret.
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

“Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

James Downey as Principal in Billy Madison, 1995

“Alexander [ʻIolani Liholiho, later known as Kamehameha IV, the fourth monarch of Hawaii] found their birth [on the train from Washington D.C. to New York] and seated himself, and there occurred one of the pivotal moments of his life as he came face to face with the reality of how Americans regarded darker skinned people . . . ‘While I was sitting looking out of the window a man came to me and told me to get out of the carriage, rather unceremoniously, saying that I was in the wrong carriage. I immediately asked him what he meant. He continued his request. Finally, he came around by the door and I went out to meet him. Just as he was coming in, somebody whispered a word into his ears. By this time I came up to him and asked him his reasons for telling me to get out of that carriage. He then told me to keep my seat. I took hold of his arm and asked him his reasons and what right he had in turning me out and talking to me in the way that he did. He replied that he had some reasons but requested me to keep my seat, and I followed him out, but he took care to be out of my way after that. I found he was the conductor and probably had taken me for somebody's servant just because I had a darker a skin than he had, confounded fool. The first time that I ever received such treatment. Not in England or France or anywhere else, but in this country I must be treated like a dog to go and come at an American's bidding.’”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one — one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”

Heraclitus

“I would not expect to be able to sit with you in 12 months from now and tell you that we are at victory or near victory or even close to victory. What I would say is I would hope to be able to convince you we have an organization that is now focused and moving in the right direction with the right culture, so that you could then believe that this is the kind of effort that could be successful.”

General Stanley A. McChrystal, U.S. Army, ret.
My Share of the Task: A Memoir

“ . . . The missionaries, therefore, found themselves in a society where a sexual relationship between two males had no moral valence, and they wished to tread lightly in a new land but still preach their truth. Their somewhat prevaricating response was to translate aikāne, in their budding Hawaiian English lexicon, as ‘best intimate friend’, with no mention of its original context. This came back to haunt them in a demoralizing way when a subsequent eleven shiploads of new missionaries fanned out into new villages to spread the gospel, relying on the Hawaiian-English dictionaries provided them. Learning the language as best they could and relying on this translation, new preachers would sometimes announce to a local chief in their best, new Hawaiian the desire to become his ‘best intimate friend’, which was greeted with considerable surprise, not to say enthusiasm.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“Forget your lust for the rich man's gold;
All that you need is in your soul;
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try;
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man

“When I was shaking out at the hueco, I didn’t have any running thoughts aside from what is happening in that present moment: how my body feels, what my breathing is like, just how I’m feeling right then. I definitely felt pumped and my fingers were cold. I had those thoughts, but more as statement of fact and not a worried ‘Oh no, I’m pumped!’ There was no emotion whatsoever; it was super-mechanical. I turned into this machine."

Nina Williams on the ascent of Amborsia, Bishop

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse.”


“Chang Yu . . . adds: ‘Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“We've designed chemicals with the intent of killing things. Our hearts, our blood, our genes are very similar to birds', to fish. The hormones that fish use in their reproduction are exactly, chemically exactly, the hormones that we use. Testosterone is testosterone, doesn't matter if you're a frog or fish, dog or cat or a human. So when you generate a chemical to kill one organism, to target some biological aspect of one organism, of course it's going to affect other organisms because we all have this evolutionary history that we share . . . If we're putting a chemical in the water that causes fish to develop abnormally, why do we think we can drink that water and be fine? If we're putting chemicals in the air that cause bees and insects to collapse and to undergo poor health, why do we think we can breath in that air and be OK?”

Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., Professor of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley
Island Earth, 2017

“I can't always be in the wild. Sometimes I have to be in places that smell of fear, fumes, and ambition. When I'm there it helps very much to know that badgers are asleep inside a Welsh hill, that an otter is turning over stones in one of the Rockford pools, that a fox is blinking in the same sun that makes me sweat in my tweed coat, that a red stag is cutting amongst ghost trees by a stone circle near Hoar Oak, and that there's a swift hatched above my Oxford study hunting almost beyond human sight in the high, hot blue over the Congo River. That these things should be a comfort is strange. They should taunt, not comfort. They should say, ‘you're not there—ha, ha, ha’. Why does that not happen? Well, I note that I get a similar sense of comfort only from being assured of the continued existence of things, and notably people, that, whatever love is, I love. Perhaps then, whatever love means, I love these creatures.”

Charles Foster
Being a Beast

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Thomas Edison

“The link between a climber and success is the contact of his skin on the handholds and the rubber on the footholds. Between these things is a massively complicated process of confidence, a harmony of understanding, and a precision of timed movement.”

Stevie Haston

“If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“It only added to the allure of this shimmering fantasy land in the desert [Nellis Air Force Base] that it was one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Rarely did a week go by that a fighter pilot did not crash. And when a fighter crashed at 400 knots, it was for keeps. When a pilot ‘augered in’, ‘screwed the pooch’, ‘fucked the duck’, and ‘bought the farm’, then the base siren wailed and the blue car drove slowly and wives stood in the windows and the Chaplin consoled and the flag hung at half staff. But it always happened to someone else, never to the best fighter pilot in the world. And if you have to ask who the best is, it sure as hell ain't you.”

Robert Coram
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

“This is a war. And this war will have a winner and it will have a loser. We are not here to fight the war. We are here to win it.”

General Stanley A. McChrystal, U.S. Army, ret.
My Share of the Task: A Memoir

“A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”

Albert Einstein

“You can't drive me crazy cuz I'm close enough to walk.”

J-Ro, on Tha Alkaholiks' Bullshit

“All civilized hunters, bound to their prey by the same theory of mind that makes us empathize with our children, mourn the death. It's dangerous not to do so, says the old wisdom. And the old wisdom is right. The planet, if not its horned Gods, will judge our modern ecocides sternly.”

Charles Foster
Being a Beast

“I'd assumed only famous surfers rode Waimea. But now I saw that local fathers rode it too. And in time perhaps their sons would as well. These people never appeared in mainland magazines. And there were many families like the Kalakakuis in Hawaii, multi-generational surfing families, Ohanas rich in talent and tradition, known only to one another.”

William Finnegan
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

“A friend once said, ‘You can't get so hung up on where you'd rather be that you forget to make the most of where you are.’ We got lost along the way, but we found each other, and we made a life. A beautiful life. Together."

Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Lane in Passengers, 2016

“[Robert E. Lee] had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought.”

Ulysses S. Grant

“Ts'ao Kung has the note: ‘He who wishes to fight must first count the cost.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“One morning in May, on the front page of The New York Times, there was a photograph of a soldier firing his rifle at Taliban attackers from the ramparts of Fire Base Restrepo in Afghanastan. An Associated Press photographer had captured Specialist Zachary Boyd defending his Fire Base dressed in helmet, body armor, flip flops, and pink boxer shorts with little red hearts in which were printed, ‘I Love New York’. I burst out laughing. Any soldier who goes into battle against the Taliban in pink boxers and flip flops has a special kind of courage, I said publicly. What an incredible innovation in psychological warfare. I loved that picture so much that an enlargement hung on the wall outside my office for two years.”

former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong.”


“Look wide, and even when you think you are looking wide — look wider still.”

Robert Baden-Powell

“It was one of the most memorable meetings during my tenure as Secretary [of Defense]. It was also the only encounter with a foreign leader in which I lost my cool . . . He [King Abdullah] went on and on about how the United States was seen as weak by governments in the region. The longer he talked, the angrier I got . . . I told him that what he considered ‘America's great weakness’, showing restraint, was actually great strength. Because we could crush any adversary. I told him that neither he nor anyone else should ever underestimate the strength and power of the United States. Those who had — Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Soviet Union — were all now in the ashcan of history.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

“But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life."

"Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“Chang Yu . . . says: ‘The axiom, that war is based on deception, does not apply only to deception of the enemy. You must deceive even your own soldiers. Make them follow you, but without letting them know why.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“So no matter what — your nose bleeds, it's that time of the month, the kids are cry'n, you don't feel like it, your back hurts, you got aches and pains — it's still your mother fucking set. Let's get it done.”

CT Fletcher

“One day I was training with CT. I was about to pass out. He told me I pass out and it's still my set.”


“It's not the load that breaks you down. It's the way you carry it.”

C.S. Lewis

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The way of aloha all too often goes wanting in the resentments expressed about the past and the history itself often seems poorly understood by the angriest of partisans. In a time transport back to those days a native Hawaiʻian would stand 999 chances in 1,000 that he or she would be a fisherman and taro digger, even more impoverished than now and subject to chiefly whim and sacrifice, tied to a tree and strangled. That does not excuse the overthrow, which was indefensible, but political appeals to Hawaiʻi's history could use a reality check. There were no ‘good old days’.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“When Pope Benedict asked Giotto to prove his worth as an artist Giotto drew a perfect circle, freehand. Perfection. It's a powerful message.”

Liev Schreiber as Dr. Ted Fielding in Sphere, 1998

“[General Curtis] LeMay said, ‘If we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he's right. He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

Robert McNamara in The Fog of War, 2003

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

Yvon Chouinard
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“I don't want you pencil-neck mother fucker's to fuck yourselves up trying to do this shit.”

C.T. Fletcher

“A few weeks after my sixtieth birthday I pulled into two barrels, back to back, at Pua'ena Point, on the North Shore of Oahu. They were as deep and long as any tube I had ridden since Kirra, more than thirty years before. Both waves let me out untouched. Being adjacent to that much beauty — more than adjacent; immersed in; pierced by it — was the point. The physical risks were footnotes.”

William Finnegan
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

George Orwell

“When the Blount report was made public in July [1893], its shock waves rattled all the interested parties. To the extent that [Lorrin A.] Thurston and [provisional government president Sanford B.] Dole relied on [former U.S. congressman James Henderson] Blount's Southern heritage to color his view of the racial component of the situation, the Georgia planter blasted their hopes without mercy. After stating what credit the native Hawaiians reflected upon themselves with their high literacy rate, Blount went on to characterize the natives as ‘over generous, hospitable, almost free from revenge, very courteous, especially to females. Their talent for oratory and the higher branches of mathematics is unusually marked. The small amount of thieving and absence of beggary are more marked than among the best races in the world. What they are capable of under fair conditions is an unsolved problem.’ In his report Blount did not venture to advise President Cleveland on a course of action. His conclusions, however, were unmistakable: ‘The undoubted sentiment of the people is for the Queen [Liliʻuokalani], against the provisional government and against annexation. A majority of the whites, especially the Americans, is for annexation.’”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“All my life, man and boy, I've operated under the assumption that the main idea in running was to win the race. Naturally, when I became a coach I tried to teach people how to do that. Tried to teach Pre how to do that. Tried like hell to teach Pre to do that. And Pre taught me. Taught me I was wrong. Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort can win a race and a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn't necessarily demand that he give it everything he had from start to finish. He never ran any other way. I tried to get him to, God knows I tried... but... Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. ‘A race is a work of art’; that's what he said, that's what he believed and he was out to make it one every step of the way.”

Donald Sutherland as Bill Bowerman in Without Limits, 1998

“Once he learned how, [Jack] London surfed for hours, whooping, unable to come in from the blistering tropical sun. He was bed-ridden for the next four days with what the doctor called the worst sunburn he had ever seen. But his article and the force of his celebrity behind it firmly established surfing as part of Hawaiʻi's identity.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“When we walk into a wood we share its sensory outputs — light, color, smell, sound, and so on — with all the other creatures there. But would any of them recognize our description of the wood? Every organism creates a different world in its brain. It lives in that world. We are surrounded by millions of different worlds.”

Charles Foster
Being a Beast

“So all of a sudden the realization comes over me, ‘I don't know what I'm do'n, I'm gonna make an ass outta myself and...’, anyway, I do the race. And it ends up being one of THE most fun things I've ever done in my life. And it dawned on me: what if everything you're afraid of is like that?”

Dave Kalama
Conversessions, 2017

“Chang Yu says: ‘Humanity and justice are the principles on which to govern a state, but not an army; opportunism and flexibility, on the other hand, are military rather than civil virtues to assimilate the governing of an army.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“For inspiration I would turn again and again to Lieutenant Jason C. Redman, a Navy SEAL who had been shot seven times and had undergone nearly two dozen surgeries. He had placed a hand drawn sign on the door to his room at Bethesda Naval Hospital. It read, ‘ATTENTION. To all who enter here: If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere. From: The Management.’”

former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

“Hawaiʻians have often struggled to maintain the spirit of aloha, ‘the face of breath’, from the ancient greeting of inclining close in greeting and sharing the air. That is the most famous part of their culture and mainlanders have come to expect that of them. But Hawaiʻians have another important concept, Ho’oponopono, ‘reconciling’, the making right of a bad situation. In the ancient days there were ceremonies to achieve it, to cleanse the minds of anger or selfishness and to come together earnestly and in good faith, to rectify and satisfy. Hawaiʻi deserves to have it made right.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“The pundits forget that if we had been so fortunate as to interdict any of the nineteen 9-11 hijackers, months before the attacks, they might have been dismissed as a laughable bunch of losers who didn't inspire fear or confidence. The liquids plot saga turned out to be emblematic of my CIA career. If there was a common thread during my lengthy time at the agency it was that no good deed went unpunished. The liquid plot incident further drove home to me the importance of swift action, of nimble decision making, and of being able to hold and interrogate key terrorist suspects ourselves without relying on surrogates who have a different and uncertain agenda.

Throughout my career controversy followed me around like a hungry dog. I wish all my decisions and all my actions were universally supported and applauded, but I am comfortable with who I am and what I have done. I have been extraordinarily privileged to play a role in some historic events and believe I'm uniquely positioned to explode some myths and clarify some mysteries that have heretofore gone unexplained.

As memories of 9-11 faded, political correctness and timidity grew. The unanimity of support that the intelligence community enjoyed eroded and one by one the tools needed to fight those that wish to destroy our country have been taken away. Worse, those men and women who volunteered to carry out our Nation's orders in combating Al Qaeda found themselves second guessed, investigated, and shunned.”

Jose A. Rodriguez
Hard Measures: How Agressive CIA Actions After 9-11 Saved American Lives

“During the drive, Andre told me about his divorce. I was surprised he'd been married, he was so young. He and his wife had split up, he said, over surfing of course. Chicks had to realize, he said, that when they married a surfer, they married surfing. They had to either adapt or split. ‘It's like if you or I hooked up with a fanatical shopper,’ he said, ‘I mean a total fanatic. You'd have to accept that your entire life would be traveling around to malls, or really, more like waiting for malls to open.’ I could see how his marriage might have crashed.”

William Finnegan
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

“Ultimately, most Japanese Americans who volunteered for the war were formed into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were sent to Europe, where there would be no question of friendly fire. They saw their fiercest action in the Italian campaign. After the war, one tally revealed that of all Hawaiʻian service members killed in battle four in five were of Japanese ancestry, an imperishable monument to valor and patriotism. In fact, during the next run made for statehood in 1946 the Congressional report allowed that according to both Army and Navy intelligence not a single act of sabotage was committed by any resident of Hawaiʻi before, during, or after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The report went on to acknowledge ‘the important patriotic service rendered under the most critical conditions by all citizens of Hawaiʻi regardless of racial origin’. The U.S. Supreme Court reached a similar conclusion the same year when it finally ruled, rather after the fact, that wartime marshal law in the territory had been unconstitutional and was based on the mistaken premise that Hawaiʻian inhabitants are less entitled to constitutional protection than others.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

Revelation 6:8

“Did he fail? Fuck no. Do you know why he didn't fail? Let me explain to you why the fuck he didn't fail. When he got through sqatting he was laying on the fucking floor. You know what that means? That means that he gave every fucking thing that he had. And any time you give every fucking thing you have, you cannot fail. It's impossible. That is the fucking point. Give it all.”

C.T. Fletcher

“All kinds of things happen in the woods.”

Bob Ross

“Let them try.”

Jean Reno as Enzo Molinari in The Big Blue, 1988

“Tu Mu closes with a note of warning: ‘Just as water, which carries a boat from bank to bank, may also be the means of sinking it, so reliance on spies, while production of great results, is oft-times the cause of utter destruction.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“I found a nice, medium-sized wave, possibly the first of a set. I caught it, shaky with relief, then I managed to fall off. I popped up, annoyed, and found myself looking at a wall of water that seemed to have marched out of my worst nightmares. It was already pulling water from the shelf, pulling me toward it, and there was no chance at all that I would escape it. It was the biggest wave I had ever seen at Pequena, and it was already starting to break. I swam toward it hard and dove early, but it plucked me out of the depths and beat me until I screamed in hopeless protest. When I finally surfaced there was another one behind it, just as big, just as malignant. There seemed to be a bit more water on the shelf. I swam to the bottom and tried to get a grip on a rough slab of rock but was instantly ripped away. Another long, thorough beating. I tried to cover my head with my arms in case it dashed me against the bottom. It didn't. I eventually resurfaced. There was another one. It was bigger than the others, but the important thing about it was that it sucked all the water off the shelf. Boulders started surfacing in front of me, and then I was standing in a field of rocks in rushing, waist-deep water. I did not understand where I was. A field of rocks had risen out of the ocean, quite far from shore, at a break I thought I knew. In a lifetime of surfing, I had never seen anything like this. The wave mutated into a hideous, boiling, two-story wall of white water, almost without breaking. It had run out of water to draw from. I had a moment in which to decide what to do before it hit me. I picked a fissure in the wall and threw myself up and into it. The vague hope was that if I wriggled in deep enough the white water might swallow me rather than simply smash me to pieces on the rocks. Something like that occurred apparently. My feet were sliced up from the leap but I did not hit the bottom as I rag-dolled shoreward in the bowels of the wave, and when I next surfaced I was in deep water, in the channel East of Pequena, safe.”

William Finnegan
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

“That population happened to have dark skin. The missionaries would have felt the same had they evangelized newly discovered islands of Scandinavia. The early missionary letters and literature are remarkably free of overtly racist epithets, not least because they discovered the Hawaiians to be quick and perceptive and intelligent enough to have emerged from a culture with no written language to the highest literacy rate in the world in less than a generation.”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

“Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. Shit! I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail.”

David Herman as Michael Bolton in Office Space, 1999

“Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“It is easy to be judged a success when luck runs with the fortunate son. But when adversity strikes, the true measure of a man percolates to the surface.”

Sean Parnell
Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan

“Running, one might say, is basically an absurd pastime upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team, chances are you will be able to find meaning in another absurd pastime: Life.”

Donald Sutherland as Bill Bowerman in Without Limits, 1998

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat . . . There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who ‘but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier’.”

U.S President Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic
speech delivered on April 23, 1910, at the Sorbonne in Paris

“For me, it's all about leadership. It's easy for armchair quarter backs and politicians not in power to simply say ‘you must do the right thing’. Figuring out what that ‘thing’ is can be only half the problem. Then you must decide if you are willing to pay the price for being right. One of the most essential factors for me was loyalty to the people I led. That loyalty was my moral compass. I could not operate any other way. I was strengthened by the knowledge that the loyalty worked both ways and time and again my fidelity to my people was repaid many fold by their incredible support for me. When you make difficult decisions you must do so with the hope, but not the expectation, that in the end your actions will be validated and vindicated. The easiest thing in the world is to make no tough decisions. I could have had a much more placid and profitable life in recent years if I had elected to make no tough choices. Those who ‘go along to get along’ rarely suffer negative consequences. After years of investigation and scrutiny I believe my actions are vindicated and, I must tell you, that judgement felt sweet. But there are no guarantees. A leader has choices to make. I chose to pursue hard measures. I have no regrets. I would do it all again because it was the right thing to do, vindicated or not.”

Jose A. Rodriguez
Hard Measures: How Agressive CIA Actions After 9-11 Saved American Lives

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”


“When climbing outdoors, the beauty of movement is very important for me. Very often I can find it on some rocks that a lot of people would think of as very crappy. But the beauty of movement is there, the interesting moves you need to really ponder about for hours, imagining the sequence and planning how to do it. Also very often a solid looking wall turns out to be very stupid from the climber's point of view.”

Adam Ondra

“Tu Mu quotes: ‘The skillful employer of men will employ the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man, and the stupid man. For the wise man delights in establishing his merit, the brave man likes to show his courage in action, the covetous man is quick at seizing advantages, and the stupid man has no fear of death.’”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“ . . . [Davita] Malo wrote a letter to Kenahu to pass along to the King [Kamehameha III] . . . ‘If a big wave comes in, large fishes will come from the dark ocean which you never saw before. And when they see the small fishes they will eat them up. The ships of the white men have come and smart people have arrived from the great countries which you have never seen before. They know our people are few in number and living in a small country. They will eat us up. Such has always been the case with large countries. The small ones have been gobbled up.’”

James L. Haley
Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

Tom Bishop: “Ah, Jesus Christ, you just... You don't just trade these people like they're baseball cards! It's not a fucking game!”

Nathan Muir: “Oh yes it is. It's exactly what it is. And it's no kid's game either. This is a whole other game. And it's serious and it's dangerous. And it's not one you want to lose.”

Robert Redford as Nathan Muir to Brad Pitt as Tom Bishop in Spy Game, 2001

“To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose banners are in perfect order, to refrain from attacking an enemy drawn up in calm and confident array:—this is the art of studying circumstances.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“It's a slow process, but quitting won't speed it up.”


“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”


“We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.”

Sun Tzu
The Art of War

“[Janapatrick] Barroga, who had arrived at [Combat Outpost] Keating only two days earlier and who had never before been in combat, turned to him with a question. ‘Hey Sergeant,’ Barroga asked, ‘are these attacks always this bad?’”

“‘No dude, not at all,’ Breeding declared emphatically, ‘they have never been this bad.’”

“‘Well, is everything gonna be OK?’ asked Barroga, unable to connect the dots.”

“In his eighteen years in the Army, John Breeding had never been a dispenser of bullshit. He saw no need to change now. ‘I don't know if we're going to get out of this one,’ he replied, looking Barroga in the eye, ‘all I can tell you is that, if we go, we're taking some of these Mother Fucker's with us.’”

Clinton Romesha
Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor