1990-01-01: Quotes (old)

I’ve been collecting quotes for a long time, so the date in this post’s title is irrelevant. There is no order to these, except that when I add a new one, it is at the top of the list. It should go without saying that this post is full of memes, and will always be unfinished.

There’s lots of ways to be as a person. And some people express their deep appreciation in different ways. But one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. And you never meet the people, you never shake their hands, you never hear their story or tell yours, but somehow, in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there. And it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation. So we need to be true to who we are, and remember what’s really important to us. That’s what is going to keep Apple Apple, if we keep us us. – Steve Jobs

Talent is like the marksman who hits a target which others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target … which others cannot even see.  –  Arthur Schopenhauer

When someone says something, don’t ask yourself if it is true. Ask what it might be true of.  –  Daniel Kahneman

The psychological present is said to be about three seconds long; that means that, you know, in a life there are about 600 million of them; in a month, there are about 600,000 – most of them don’t leave a trace.  –  Daniel Kahneman

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  –  Annie Dillard

Be sure and tell your friends this isn’t easy. – Dot Blackstone (on her deathbed)

When so many deny the lessons of history it usually means they’re just about to learn them all over again.  –  John Templeton (attributed by Jesse Felder)

Bull markets are born on pessimism, grown on scepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.  –  John Templeton

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.  –  Edward Snowden

The hard part of standing on an exponential curve is: when you look backwards, it looks flat, and when you look forward, it looks vertical. And it’s very hard to calibrate how much you are moving because it always looks the same.  –  Sam Altman

If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.  –  Mickey Mantle.

For as long as I can remember — and certainly long before I had the term for it — I’ve believed that creativity is combinatorial: Alive and awake to the world, we amass a collection of cross-disciplinary building blocks — knowledge, memories, bits of information, sparks of inspiration, and other existing ideas — that we then combine and recombine, mostly unconsciously, into something “new.” From this vast and cross-disciplinary mental pool of resources beckons the infrastructure of what we call our “own” “original” ideas. The notion, of course, is not new . . .  –  Maria Popova

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. – John Muir

The more a person limits himself,  the more resourceful he becomes. – Kierkegaard

Originality depends on new and striking combinations of ideas. It is obvious therefore that the more a man knows the greater scope he has for arriving at striking combinations. And not only the more he knows about his own subject but the more he knows beyond it of other subjects. It is a fact that has not yet been sufficiently stressed that those persons who have risen to eminence in arts, letters or sciences have frequently possessed considerable knowledge of subjects outside their own sphere of activity. … Success depends on adequate knowledge: that is, it depends on sufficient knowledge of the special subject, and a variety of extraneous knowledge to produce new and original combinations of ideas. Technical skill must be so far developed that it is never a hindrance to the flow of ideas. The thinker does not sit down and say to himself: ‘now I am going to think out the relations between so and so.’ The process is not so much an active as a passive one. In short the thinker dreams over his subject. – Rosamund E. M. Harding (1942)

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. – Thich Nhat Hanh

I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than I can the meals I have eaten. Even so, they have made me. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

SF As you probably know, recent research has looked at how different parts of the brain recognize and react to jokes. Physically, they are quite distinct.

AK Yes. All creativity is an extended form of a joke. Most creativity is a transition from one context into another where things are more surprising. There’s an element of surprise, and especially in science, there is often laughter that goes along with the “Aha.” Art also has this element. Our job is to remind us that there are more contexts than the one that we’re in—the one that we think is reality. – Stuart Feldman and Alan Kay (http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=1039523)

The truly terrible thing is that everybody has their reasons. – Jean Renoir (filmmaker)

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. – Scott Adams

Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight turns into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become. – Cmdr. Chris Hadfield (A young boy asked him how to become an astronaut.)

EVERYTHING IS DEEPLY INTERTWINGLED. In an important sense there are no “subjects” at all; there is only all knowledge, since the cross-connections among the myriad topics of this world simply cannot be divided up neatly. – Ted Nelson

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is. And your life is just to live your life inside the world – try not to bash into the walls too much – try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that you’ll never be the same again. – Steve Jobs

The most important questions investors should be asking are these: what do they know that can be demonstrated to be true; and what do they believe that can be demonstrated to be untrue. – John Hussman (http://hussmanfunds.com/wmc/wmc130318.htm)

[Some quotes from   http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2005/11/when-honor-is-no-longer-possible.html]

All stories teach, whether the storyteller intends them to or not. They teach the world we create. They teach the morality we live by. They teach it much more effectively than moral precepts and instructions. … We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do’s and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou Shalt Not is soon forgotten, but Once Upon A Time lasts forever. – Philip Pullman

Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. – Salman Rushdie

Stories are the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal. – Howard Gardner

History is nothing but a series of stories, whether it be world history or family history. – Bill Mooney and David Holt, The Storyteller’s Guide

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. – attributed to Barnett Cocks, Hilaire Belloc, and others

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. – Helen Keller

Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?
You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.
All you have to do is think. – Mister Rogers

While ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished. – Steve Jobs, via Jonathan Ive

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. – Steve Jobs

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs

I’m a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them – Antoine de Saint Exupery

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for — in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it. – Ellen Goodman

To Achieve Success:
Evaluate your talents honestly.
Set your goals realistically.
Work tirelessly at your art and love every minute of the work.
Study the great art of the past.
Come back from the inevitable failures and disappointments with courage.
Work relentlessly. – Robert McCall, artist

If a service on the web is free, you are not the customer, you are the product.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. – Douglas Adams

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. – Plutarch

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. – (character) Roy Batty, in Blade Runner

Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine — too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property,’ the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better. – Stewart Brand

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt

However much, as readers, we lose ourselves in a novel or story, fiction itself is an experience on the order of memory – not on the order of actual occurrence. It looks like the writer is telling you a story. What the writer is actually doing, however, is using words to evoke a series of micromemories from your own experience that inmix, join, and connect in your mind in an order the writer controls, so that, in effect, you have a sustained memory of something that never happened to you. That false memory is what a story is. – Samuel R. Delaney

The main role of the Press is to remind us that we shouldn’t believe most of what we read. – unknown

Hope is not a methodology. – unknown, provided by Phillip Glen Armour

Each day death strikes. And we live as though we were immortal. This is the greatest marvel. – Yudhishthira (Mahabharata)

If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed. – Chinese proverb

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. – Anne Frank

expression + understanding = communication – Peter Norvig, 1992 ?

Multitasking is the art of distracting yourself from two things you’d rather not be doing by doing them simultaneously. – “eideteker” on metafilter

In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy and the market economy. – David Korten

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picasso

The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. – John Maynard Keynes

The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

If we’re not supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?

It’s like a rainbow. Without an observer at a twenty-three-degree angle to the light reflecting off a cloud of spherical droplets, there is no rainbow. The whole universe is like that. Our spirits stand at a twenty-three-degree angle to the universe. There is some new thing created at the contact of photon and retina, some space between rock and mind. – Zoya Boone

Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness. – Chuang-Tzu (from http://www.eff.org/Misc/Publications/John_Perry_Barlow…)

It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet. – Franz Kafka (also from Barlow)

Information is never in the news itself, but rather in the deviation between the actual news and the news that would be expected given the surrounding context. The information is always in the divergences – the surprises . . . – John P. Hussman

What do you call a scientist whose calculations are off by 50%? A
cosmologist. What do you call an accountant whose calculations are off
by 1%? A crook.

The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished. – George Bernard Shaw

The plural of anecdote is not data. – unknown

I tell people that if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. The very definition of “news” is “something that hardly ever happens.” It’s when something isn’t in the news, when it’s so common that it’s no longer news — car crashes, domestic violence — that you should start worrying. – Bruce Schneier

20 years ago, one could bet that an online or offline discussion of a computer science edge case would be held by people *trained* for computer science. They not only could solve edge cases, they lived for them. Some thought that a priesthood, but it was really just a profession. Now there is a web of people from all walks of life and background attempting to program with tools that are designed with an 80/20 philosophy. This philosophy guarantees edge cases are not only difficult, but are often obtuse and abstract to one trying to solve the last 20% of their problems with only 20% of the necessary knowledge. – Claude L (Len) Bullard, on the xml-dev mailing list, Mon, 25 Mar 2002

Eight rules for writing fiction: 1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. 2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. 3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. 4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action. 5. Start as close to the end as possible. 6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of. 7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. 8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages. – Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot. – Albert Einstein

… when I say “Thank goodness!” this is not merely a euphemism for “Thank God!” … I really do mean thank goodness! There is a lot of goodness in this world, and more goodness every day … – Daniel Dennett (http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dennett06/dennett06_index.html)

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln

You just need to force luck on your side. – Jens Voigt (after winning a stage of the Tour de France, July 15, 2006)

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves. – Winston Churchill

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. – Albert Einstein

The only really valuable thing is intuition. – Albert Einstein

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to know. – Winnie the Pooh

Type C arguments are about the consequences of policies. Type M arguments are about the alleged motives of individuals who advocate policies. – Arnold Kling

The misuse of language induces evil in the soul. – Socrates?

No art, however minor, demands less than total dedication if you want to
excel in it. – Leon Battista Alberti

Modern invention has been a great leveller. A machine may operate far more quickly than a political or economic measure to abolish privilege and wipe out the distinctions of class or finance. – Ivor Brown, The Heart of England (1935)

It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court. – John Adams

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. – Brandeis

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials. – Lin Yutang

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about. – Einstein

Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad. – James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1798

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me. – Martin Niemoeller, on the Nazis

Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all. – Winston Churchill

The terror of the atom age is not the violence of the new power but the speed of man’s adjustment to it– the speed of his acceptance. – E. B. White, “Notes on Our Time,” 1954

The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe. – Einstein, reported in NYT, 1946

Get up very early and get going at once, in fact work first and wash afterwards. – W.H. Auden

Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. – Charles J. Sykes’ advice to teenagers

The art of handling university students is to make oneself appear, and this almost ostentatiously, to be treating them as adults, while keeping them in invisible harness and even, when necessary, giving them a flick of the whip. – Arnold Toynbee, Experiences

Don’t worry about what anybody else is going to do. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Alan Kay

Dealing with failure is easy: Work hard to improve. Success is also easy to handle: You’ve solved the wrong problem. Work hard to improve. – Alan Perlis

That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted. – George Boole, quoted in Iverson’s Turing Award Lecture

Knowledge is the small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify. – Ambrose Bierce

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people. – William Bulter Yeats

The only difference between a problem and a solution is people understand the solution. – Charles Franklin Kettering

He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense. – John McCarthy

Anyone who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense. – me

Two rules to success in life: 1. Don’t tell people everything you know. – Sassan Tat

Not all those who wander are lost. – J.R.R. Tolkein (The Fellowship of the Ring)

A couple of months in the laboratory can frequently save a couple of hours in the library. – Frank Westheimer

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (“I found it!”) but rather “hmm . . . that’s funny.” – Isaac Asimov

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. – Eden Phillpots

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. – Albert Einstein

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. In poetry, it’s the exact opposite. – Paul Dirac

Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. – E. W. Dijkstra

For software to be reusable, it first has to be usable. – Bjarne Stroustrup

Belief is no substitute for arithmetic. – Henry Spencer

The ultimate point of life is joy.
Le but ultime de la vie c’est la joie. – ivory soap wrapper

Simplicity is the essence of happiness.
La simplicité est l’essence du bonheur. – ivory soap wrapper

The road to a friend’s house is never long, and the directions are simple.
La route qui mène à un ami n’est majais longue, et les indications sont simples. – Ivory soap wrapper

If you want to be free, learn to live simply.
La liberté, c’est vivre dans la simplicité. – Ivory soap wrapper

Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it. – Richard Feynman

Great sport begins at a point where it has ceased to be healthy. – Bertolt Brecht

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. – attributed to Barnett Cocks, Hilaire Belloc, and others

We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. – Richard Dawkins

If you don’t like having choices made for you, you should start making your own. – Neal Stephenson

Digital files cannot be made uncopyable, any more than water can be made not wet. – Bruce Schneier, CRYPTO-GRAM, May 15, 2001

People will then often say ‘But surely it’s better to remain an Agnostic just in case?’ This, to me, suggests such a level of silliness and muddle that I usually edge out of the conversation rather than get sucked into it. (If it turns out that I’ve been wrong all along, and there is in fact a god, and if it further turned out that this kind of legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting impressed him, then I think I would choose not to worship him anyway.) – Douglas Adams, American Atheist interview

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. – Richard Dawkins

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4?BCE – 61CE)

God must have an inordinate fondness for religion; he made so many of them. – me

Thermodynamics for dummies: You can’t win. You can’t break even. You can’t get out of the game.

We see variability in every tongue, and new words are continually cropping up; but as there is a limit to the powers of the memory, single words, like whole languages, gradually become extinct. As Max Muller has well remarked:– “A struggle for life is constantly going on amongst the words and grammatical forms in each language. The better, the shorter, the easier forms are constantly gaining the upper hand, and they owe their success to their own inherent virtue.” To these more important causes of the survival of certain words, mere novelty and fashion may be added; for there is in the mind of man a strong love for slight changes in all things. The survival or preservation of certain favoured words in the struggle for existence
is natural selection. – Charles Darwin, English naturalist, The Descent of Man, 1871

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. – Robert Benchley

Seven Social Sins:
Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice
– Mohandas K. Gandhi

I think all art is about control – the encounter between control and the uncontrollable. – Richard Avedon

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. – Poul Anderson

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. – Mark Twain

Seek not to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought. – Matsuo Basho

Trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood — that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy, he plunged into war. – Abraham Lincoln (re: James Polk and the Mexican War)

We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals. – Quarry worker’s creed

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair. – Douglas Adams

It seems to me that honesty in politicians would be served by having them try to make falsifiable statements. If a politician says “My program will create jobs, improve the environment, and lessen our dependence on foreign oil”, he should be willing to say what would constitute evidence that he was *wrong* about those claims. Instead, politicians look for ways to pretend they were right all along (even when they were wrong). – Daryl McCullough

Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power. – Benito Mussolini

Dealing with parasites is simply the price one pays for success. I guess it’s better than having to deal with vultures, which is the price of failure. – Mike Champion on the xml-dev mailing list

To be part of the Anglosphere requires adherence to the fundamental customs and values that form the core of English-speaking cultures. These include individualism, rule of law, honoring contracts and covenants, and the elevation of freedom to the first rank of political and cultural values. Nations comprising the Anglosphere share a common historical narrative in which the Magna Carta, the English and American Bills of Rights, and such Common Law principles as trial by jury, presumption of innocence, “a man’s home is his castle”, and “a man’s word is his bond” are taken for granted. Thus persons or communities who happen to communicate or do business in English are not necessarily part of the Anglosphere, unless their cultural values have also been shaped by those values of the historical English-speaking civilization. The Anglosphere, as a network civilization without a corresponding political form, has necessarily imprecise boundaries. Geographically, the densest nodes of the Anglosphere are found in the United States and the United Kingdom, while Anglophone regions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa are powerful and populous outliers. The educated English-speaking populations of the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa and India constitute the Anglosphere’s frontiers. – James C. Bennett, “An Anglosphere Primer,” Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2001

This machine kills fascists. – label placed by Woodie Guthrie on his guitar

For they had learned that true safety was to be found in long previous training, and not in eloquent exhortations uttered when they were going into action. – Thucydides

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. – Cornelius Tacitus, circa AD 100

Only realistic flight schedules should be proposed, schedules that have a reasonable chance of being met. If in this way the government would not support them, then so be it. NASA owes it to the citizens from whom it asks support to be frank, honest, and informative. . . . For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. – Richard P. Feynman, Challenger accident report

All of a sudden, space isn’t friendly. All of a sudden, it’s a place where people can die. … Many more people are going to die. But we can’t explore space if the requirement is that there be no casualties; we can’t do anything if the requirement is that there be no casualties. – Isaac Asimov, 1988

If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life. – Virgil I. Grissom, Astronaut

Flying is so many parts skill, so many parts planning, so many parts maintenance, and so many parts luck. The trick is to reduce the luck by increasing the others. – David L. Baker

Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, but to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect. – Capt. A. G. Lamplugh
This famous phrase has been reproduced on posters and plaques many times, almost always with the attribution of ‘anonymous.’ [Someone] was told at a book signing that André Priester (one of the first Pan Am employee’s) may have said it, and decided to check this with R. E. G. Davis (then curator of air transport history at the Smithsonian and author of a book on Pan Am). Ron called back and said the phrase pre-dates Priester. His research showed the originator of the phrase was Captain Lamplugh, who was quite well known in British aviation circles after WW I.

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew. – Marshall McLuhan

You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some
of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. – Abraham Lincoln

You can fool too many of the people too much of the time. – James Thurber

[From Dr Zeus’ Favorite Quotes: http://drzeus.best.vwh.net/Favorites/Quotations.html ]

And here you thought you were a prisoner in a labyrinth of evil, where everything was pregnant with meaning. … Hence your mental somersaults and contortions. You writhed on the hook of your own question mark to solve that equation of horror. – Stanislaw Lem, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason. – Jack Handey

One day the husband of a woman who was being painted by Picasso called at the artist’s studio. ‘What do you think?’ asked the painter, indicating the nearly finished picture. ‘Well…’ said the husband, trying to be polite, ‘it isn’t how she really looks.’ ‘Oh,’ said the artist, ‘and how does she really look?’ The husband decided not to be intimidated. ‘Like this!’ he said, producing a photograph from his wallet. Picasso studied the photograph. ‘Mmm…’ he said, ‘small, isn’t she?’ – Charles Hampden-Turner, Maps of the Mind

That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox…  – Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

Above all, creators remain drawn to the age-old paradoxes that philosophy grapples with [and]…that art occasionally resolves…the problem of the one and the many; unity and variety; determinism and freedom; mechanism and vitalism; good and evil; time and eternity; the plenum and the void; moral absolutism and relativism… These are the basic problems of human existence, and as far as we possibly can we arrange things to forget them. – Frank Barron

[Ego-identity is]…the accrued confidence that one’s ability to maintain inner sameness and continuity…is matched by the sameness and continuity of one’s meaning for others. – Erik Erikson

And so we come to the last crisis, that of integrity versus disgust and despair. Throughout the life-cycle the pieces have been assembled, structure built on structure around the ego’s continuity. Now with death not too far away, can it all hold up or will it crumble? Are the links of love and meaning strong enough so that we are ourselves content to fall away? – Charles Hampden-Turner, Maps of the Mind

When you are confronted by any complex social system, such as an urban center or a hamster, with things about it that you’re dissatisfied with and anxious to fix, you cannot just step in and set about fixing with much hope of helping. This realization is one of the sore discouragements of our century. Jay Forrester has demonstrated it mathematically, with his computer models of cities in which he makes clear that whatever you propose to do, based on common sense, will almost inevitably make matters worse rather than better. You cannot meddle with one part of a complex system from the outside without the almost certain risk of setting off disastrous events that you hadn’t counted on in other, remote parts. If you want to fix something you are first obliged to understand, in detail, the whole system, and for very large systems you can’t do this without a very large computer. Even then, the safest course seems to be to stand by and wring hands, but not to touch. Intervening is a way of causing trouble. – Lewis Thomas, On Meddling

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all. – Thomas Jefferson

If you think the human body is dirty, complain to the manufacturer. – Lenny Bruce

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment. – H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there’s no music, no choreography and the dancers hit each other. – Jack Handey

In Southern California it didn’t make any difference anyhow where you went; there was always the same McDonaldburger place over and over, like a circular strip that turned past you as you pretended to go somewhere. And when finally you got hungry and went to the McDonaldburger place and bought a McDonald’s hamburger, it was the one they sold you last time and the time before that and so forth, back to before you were born, and in addition bad people — liars — said it was made out of turkey gizzards anyhow. They had by now, according to their sign, sold the same original burger fifty billion times. He wondered if it was to the same person. Life in Anaheim, California, was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed. Nothing changed; it just spread out farther and farther in the form of neon ooze… Someday, he thought, it’ll be mandatory that we all sell the McDonald’s hamburger as well as buy it; we’ll sell it back and forth to each other forever from our living rooms. – Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly

Photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralysed cyclops — for a split second. – David Hockney

If I had known it was harmless I would have killed it myself. – Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly

Any given man sees only a tiny portion of the total truth, and very often, in fact almost perpetually, he deliberately deceives himself about the little precious fragment as well. A portion of him turns against him and acts like another person, defeating him from inside. – Unknown, from A Scanner Darkly

It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up. – Mohammed Ali

To a great extent, conventional photography is about edges, about how to frame the object of vision. Indeed, that is the ordinary photographer’s main contribution to the moment of seeing; his sense of composition, how he chooses to frame the world within four perpendicular edges. – Lawrence Wechsler, Cameraworks

Thought is a disease of the brain. The mind defends itself against the degenerative process of creativity; it begins to jell; notions solidify into inalterable systems. – Thomas M. Disch, Camp Concentration

Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say anything they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage. – Winston Churchill

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. – Mark Twain

An artist painting a picture should have at his side a man with a club to hit him over the head when the picture is finished. – John Singer Sargent

We survived the 1980’s. Back then, the economic program was called ‘trickle down.’ That actually meant they were pissing on you. How the whole theory goes was this: ‘We have all the money. If we drop some, it’s yours. Go for it.’ – Bill Maher

A conclusion is simply the place where someone got tired of thinking. – Arthur Block

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history — with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. – Mitch Ratliffe

Perception is less of a recording system and more of a protection system against external stimuli. – Sigmund Freud

We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language … we cannot talk at all except by subscribing to the organization and classification of data which the agreement decrees. – Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941)

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is. – John von Neumann

The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed. – William Gibson

It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. – Hermann Goering, quoted in San Francisco Chronicle

We have insisted that we need leadership and so have reverted to the divine monarchy in which, whatever else he may be, the leader is presented in public as a symbol. Like his clothes, his words are chosen for him. Language is treated as performance, not communication. That he has not read the books his speeches quote or initiated the thoughts his speeches think is neither here nor there. Either we wish discussion and doubt or rhetoric and reassurance. – John Ralston Saul, Canadian essayist, novelist, and critic, “The Doubter’s Companion”, 1994

Taxation without representation is tyranny. – James Otis (1725-1783)

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives. – Abba Eban

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. – Philip K. Dick, 1972
One hundred percent of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in. – Wayne Gretzky

The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers. – Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, Viking Penguin (1995), p. 265

Don’t think that a small group of dedicated individuals can’t change the world. it’s the only thing that ever has. – unknown

The biggest difference between time and space is that you can’t reuse time. – Merrick Furst

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music. – Groucho Marx

To grasp the meaning of the world today we use a language created to express the world of yesterday. The life of the past seems to us nearer our true natures, but only for the reason that is is nearer our language. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “Wind, Sand, and Stars”, 1939

It’s a tension between the idea that all men are brothers and the idea that every individual or group should be free to do its own thing. You see it in racial problems, in national and ideological conflicts. Conceivably, if you give people the choice of being brothers or going out into space, that could provide the impetus for colonization. It’s very striking how often in the past a journey that looked like exile from one point of view has turned out to be an opportunity from another. – Freeman Dyson

Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and looses old instincts… The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet… His notebooks impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber; whether we have not lost by refinement some energy, by a Christianity entrenched in establishments and forms, some vigor of wild virtue…. The arts and inventions of each period are only its costume, and do not invigorate men. The harm of the improved machinery may compensate its good. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. – Harlan Ellison

I think the great lesson of the 20th century is that you have to separate the ethics from the aesthetics… The great lesson there is that you don’t have to agree with what the Nazis did, but, yes, be honest about it, they did have the best uniforms. A lot of people can’t come to terms with something as banal as that. – Andrew Eldritch

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Planning is everything; plans are nothing. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat. – Albert Einstein

When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity. – Albert Einstein

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein

The important thing is never to stop questioning. – Albert Einstein

A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear and punishment and hope of reward after death. – Albert Einstein

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison

As the chief learning officer, ask yourself, ‘Are we investing sufficiently in learning to generate the growth and return we need?’ We had a group of graduate students research the topic, plotting long-term shareholder returns against a number of factors. They discovered that investments in training and development were the single best predictor of shareholder return three to five years down the road. – Karen Franse, “Build Your Profits,” VARBusiness, January 18, 1999

People must not attempt to impose their own ‘truth’ on others. The right to profess the truth must always be upheld, but not in a way that involves contempt for those who may think differently. – John Paul II

If you look at the artists, if they get really good, it always occurs to them at some point that they can do this one thing for the rest of their lives, and they can be really successful to the outside world but not really be successful to themselves. That’s the moment that an artist really decides who he or she is. If they keep on risking failure, they’re still artists. – Steve Jobs

Like many things in life, you can do exactly what you were going to do in the first place and change the names. – Steve Jobs

Nobody’s tried to swallow us since I’ve been here–I think they’re afraid of how we’d taste. – Steve Jobs

A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble. – Gandhi

Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth. – Gandhi

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. – Gandhi

If there is going to be a Big Brother in the United States, it is going to be us — the FBI. – Paul George, Supervisory Special Agent, Michigan Bureau, FBI

The way to find what the mainstream will do tomorrow is to associate with the lunatic fringe today. – Jean-Louis Gassee

A year ago, Steve was in the wilderness, and everybody thought that NeXT was going nowhere. Then, as if by magic, he manages to sell it to Apple, for a very high price, and gain control of Apple in the process, and now he is in the position of again becoming a revered figure in the history of computing. If that’s not leadership, I don’t know what is. – Jean-Louis Gassee

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. – Howard Aiken

Given a choice, the American people would prefer the policeman’s truncheon to the anarchist’s bomb. – Spiro Agnew

The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it in the first place. – Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in a moment of reasoned lucidity which is almost unique among its current tally of five million, nine hundred and seventy-three thousand, five hundred and nine pages, says of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation products that “it is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all.” In other words, – and this is the rock-solid principle on which the whole of the Corporation’s Galaxywide success is founded – their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws. – Douglas Adams

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. – Edward Abbey
Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others. – Edward Abbey

Grown men do not need leaders. – Edward Abbey

The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha — which is to demean oneself. – Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Now the actual correct mathematical solution to this differential equation is insane, so physicists use a special trick which is that you guess. – Ron Myers

I think that all good, right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am. – Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. – John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”

You don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That’s contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect. – Edwin Meese III

It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. – W. Somerset Maugham

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. – W. Somerset Maugham

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. – W. Somerset Maugham

If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money it values more, it will lose that, too. – W. Somerset Maugham

But while we’re on the subject of file formats, let’s pause for a moment in frank admiration of the way in which Microsoft brazenly built backward-incompatibility into its product. By initially making it virtually impossible to maintain a heterogenous environment of Word 95 and Word 97 systems, Microsoft offered its customers that most eloquent of arguments for upgrading: the delicate sound of a revolver being cocked somewhere just out of sight. – Dan Martinez

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him “whose”? – Don Marquis

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again. – Marin Paper TV listing for “The Wizard of Oz”

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our darkness that most frightens us. – Nelson Mandela

We ask ourselves–Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are we not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. – Nelson Mandela

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency… Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real. – General Douglas MacArthur

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. – James Madison

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. – Philip K. Dick, “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”, 1986

You can’t blame the President for the state of the country, it’s always the poets’ fault. You can’t expect politicians to come up with a vision, they don’t have it in them. Poets have to come up with the vision and they have to turn it on so it sparks and catches hold. – Ken Kesey

If we do not change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed. – unknown

When we read of human beings behaving in certain ways, with the approval of the author, who gives his benediction to this behavior by his attitude towards the result of the behavior arranged by himself, we can be influenced towards behaving in the same way. – T. S. Eliot

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them. – T. S. Eliot

Without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, freedom of speech means you shall not do something to people for views they have, express, speak, or write. – Hugo Black, quoted in Irving Dillard (ed.), “One Man’s Stand for Freedom”, 1963

The US Constitution may not be a perfect document, but it surely beats the heck out of whatever our Government is using as a guideline these days. – unknown

Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves. – George Gordon Noel Byron (1788-1824), [Lord Byron]

When ideas fail, words come in very handy. – Goethe

Everything you can imagine is real. – Pablo Picasso

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. – Gandhi

Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. – Winston Churchill

The decisions we avoid are as important as the choices we make. – unknown

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. – Bruce Barton

A smile is a curve that can set a lot of things straight. – unknown

Only when it’s dark, can you see the stars. – unknown

What great delight it is to see the ones we love and then to have speech with them. – Vincent McNabb, God’s Way of Mercy

Beauty is power; a smile is its sword. – Charles Reade

Sticks and stones may break your bones when there’s anger to impart.
Spiteful words can hurt your feelings but silence breaks your heart. – unknown

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything. – Goethe (1749-1832)

Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting. – John Russell

We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do. – Martha Grimes

Listen to your dreams – those are the sounds no one else can hear. – Kobu Yamada

Some succeed because they are destined to; most succeed because they are determined to. – Anatole France

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. – Will Durant

Woman’s virtue is man’s greatest invention. – Cornelia Otis Skinner

Those who stand for nothing fall for anything. – Alexander Hamilton

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. – Walt Disney

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. – Albert Einstein

If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead. – Johnny Carson

Too low they build who build below the skies. – Edward Young

In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer. – Albert Camus

Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live. – Goethe

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Chinese proverb

We shall find peace. We shall hear angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds. – Chekov

You’re an extraordinary woman; how do you expect to lead an ordinary life? – Louisa May Alcott

There must be more to life than having everything. – Maurice Sendak

If you never did, you should.
These things are fun, and fun is good.
– Dr. Seuss

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. – John Lennon

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. – J.M. Barrie

Time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. – Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), Chap xviii Section 472

It takes time to build a castle. – Irish proverb

That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
– William Wordsworth

Self-respect is the cornerstone of all virtue. – John Herschel

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. – Chinese proverb

Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye. – George M. Cohan

He who laughs, lasts. – Poole

Happiness depends upon ourselves. – Aristotle

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. – Golda Meir

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. – Margaret Lee Runbeck

The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie. – J. A. Schumpeter

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day. – Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays, 1938

Late on the third day, at the very moment when, at sunset, we were making
our way through a herd of hippopotamuses, there flashed upon my mind,
unforeseen and unsought, the phrase, “Reverence for Life.” – Albert Schweitzer

Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than
looking. – Goethe

It loved to happen. – Marcus Aurelius

Every day is a good day. – Yun-Men

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary
ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end
of a telescope and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. – Dr. Seuss

Music, the greatest good that mortals know,
And all of heaven we have below.
– Joseph Addison

Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite. – Thomas Carlyle

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. – Henry David Thoreau

The strong do what they can; the weak do what they must. – Thucydides

Life is like living in a prison from which every day fellow prisoners are taken away to be executed. – Blaise Pascal

Argument … does not remove doubt, so that the mind may rest in the sure knowledge of the truth, unless it finds it by the method of experiment. … For if any man who never saw fire proved by satisfactory arguments that fire burns … his hearer’s mind would never be satisfied, nor would he avoid the fire until he put his hand in it … that he might learn by experiment what argument taught. – Roger Bacon (Opus Majus, 1267)

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be
content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. – Francis Bacon (The Advancement of Learning, 1605)

It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition. – Bertrand Russell

There is no lifeguard in the gene pool. – unknown

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. (Entities ought not to be multiplied except from necessity.) – William of Ockham (1280?-1349)

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you think, even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C Clarke, Report on Planet Three, 1972

The Three Laws of Robotics:
1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
– Isaac Asimov, Runaround, 1942

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
– George Orwell, 1984

Beauty is the promise of happiness, not happiness itself. – Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, p.77

Beauty is the promise of happiness. – Henri B. Stendhal

Evolution is a matter of environment and chance, acting over millions of years. But history is a matter of environment and choice, acting within lifetimes, and sometimes within years, or months, or days. – Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher regard those who think alike than those who think differently. – Nietzche

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it’s you. – Rita Mae Brown

Nick Tredennick, explaining how it came to be that the x86 standard dominates the industry, told of a colleague (perhaps apocryphal) who once tried to find out why railroad tracks in the US are always built to the gauge they are (four feet, three inches). He first learned that the standard was implemented here because many of the original designers of the US railway system came from Britain, where that gauge was already established. When he asked why it was the standard in Britain, he was told that it had long been used for the wheelbase of carriages. Why? Because that’s how far apart the ruts in the roads were, and any wagon based on a different design would soon lose its wheels or crack its axle. And how had that pattern originated? Because the roads went back to Roman times, and Roman chariots were built to the same standard. Why? It was just wide enough for the rear ends of two horses.

That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet
– Emily Dickinson, Poem Number 1741

Popular theology … is a massive inconsistency derived from ignorance …. The gods exist because nature herself has imprinted a conception of them on the minds of men. – Cicero, De natura Deorum, I, 16

Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars. – Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1857)

Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer: there is nobility in preserving it cooly through long youth, until at last, in the ripeness of instinct and discretion, it can be safely exchanged for fidelity and happiness. – George Santayana, Skepticism and Animal Faith, IX

And if the Guardians are not happy, who else can be? – Aristotle, The Politics, Book 2, Chapter 5

I wish to propose for the reader’s favorable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. I must, of course, admit, that if such an opinion became common it would completely transform our social life and our political system; since both are at present faultless, this must weigh against it. – Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays, I (1928)

No users of microcomputers want multitasking, nor would they be able to use it. All they would ever do with it would be background printing, and you can do that under DOS. – Bill Gates

If I knew what a hallucination was, I would know what reality was. I have examined the topic thoroughly, and I assert that it is impossible to have a hallucination; it goes against reason and common sense. Those who claim to have had them are probably lying. (I have had a few myself.) – Philip K. Dick

Perfection is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse. – C. Northcote Parkinson

Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason. – unknown

There is always death and taxes; however death doesn’t get worse every year. – unknown

People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first. – unknown

It’s easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them. – unknown

Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way when you do criticize him, you’re a mile away and you have his shoes. – unknown (maybe comedian Stephen Wright)

One man with courage makes a majority – Andrew Jackson

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. – George Bernard Shaw

On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. – Charles Babbage

If you want to encourage your kids to color outside the lines, think creatively and zig when the other kids zag, get the Mac. On the other hand, if you want to teach your kid that life is full of frustration and that anything worth getting takes plenty of patience and hard work, a Windows machine should do quite nicely. – David Plotnikoff, San Jose Mercury News

It has been said that a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters could produce the works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this isn’t true. – unknown

Increasingly, people seem to misinterpret complexity as sophistication, which is baffling – the incomprehensible should cause suspicion rather than admiration. Possibly this trend results from a mistaken belief that using a somewhat mysterious device confers an aura of power on the user. – Niklaus Wirth

What does the market reward (reduced time to market), and what does the market not penalize (buggy software). If you want to change behavior, you’ve got to change the rewards — otherwise, talk is cheap. – David Chase

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.
Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx

Time is designed so that motion looks simple. – John Wheeler

One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who only have an interest. – John Stuart Mill

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. – Rainer Maria Rilke

The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there. – Robert M. Pirsig

Football combines the two worst features of American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings. – George Will

Real artists ship. – Steve Jobs, 1983

It is better to be honestly arrogant than hypocritically humble. – Frank Lloyd Wright

Love blinds us to faults; hatred blinds us to virtues. – Rabbi Ibn Ezra

The acts of the mind, wherein it exerts its power over simple ideas, are chiefly these three: 1. Combining several simple ideas into one compound one, and thus all complex ideas are made. 2. The second is bringing two ideas, whether simple or complex, together, and setting them by one another so as to take a view of them at once, without uniting them into one, by which it gets all its ideas of relations. 3. The third is separating them from all other ideas that accompany them in their real existence: this is called abstraction, and thus all its general ideas are made. – John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

[ from http://www.cybercom.net/~rbjones/rbjpub/philos/classics/locke/ctb2c12.htm#start ]

You ought to know that no one has the right to speak in public before he has rehearsed what he wants to say two, three, and four times, and learned it; then he may speak…. But if a man… puts it down in writing, he should revise it a thousand times, if possible. – Moses Maimonides: The Epistle on Martyrdom

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion. – Thomas Jefferson

Learn as if you would live forever, Live as if you would die tomorrow. – Mohandas K. Gandhi

For things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. – Aristotle

In order to ask the right questions, one must already know 60 percent of the answer. – Albert Einstein

This is not a quote. If this had been a quote, it would have an attribution. – not attributed

Science is the act of making ideas that make other people have ideas. – Ted Selker

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. – Lily Tomlin

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. – Albert Einstein

In the mind of the beginner, there are many possibilities. In the mind of the expert, there are few. – Shunryu Suzuki

Everything is dangerous if you’re stupid. – Omniscience Futureneering

We do not know an alternative so we don’t believe an alternative exists. If we dream of alternatives in our youth, we acquiesce in maturity. No one in his right mind lingers in the tropics or on the slopes after his allotted annual fortnight. You may leave your house to work or shop; you may go to a movie if you buy a ticket; you may have holidays, but responsibility looms as the foremost value in a culture of consumer credit (decent architecture, meanwhile, hovers somewhere near the bottom). – Mason West

We do not know what we do not know. – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Our dreams are bigger than we are so that we have to reach beyond ourselves to achieve them.
I am NOT going to hell. I’m a writer. I’ve already been there.
You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Music is the concealed art of computation for a soul unaware of its counting. – Leibniz
We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. – Einstein

Make everything as simple as possible – but not simpler. – Einstein
Add simplification. – engineering dictum

It is a mistake for anyone to measure the limits of the possible by his own limitations and capacities. – Franklin Merrill Wolff

The final mystery is oneself. – Oscar Wilde

Never contend with someone who has nothing to lose. – Gracian

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for and attended to with diligence. – Eleanor Roosevelt

The true believer gives honor to whatever is worthy of honor. My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals itself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. – Albert Einstein

He who has not lost his head over something probably has no head to lose. – Jean Paul Richter

Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own. If we believe absurdities, we will commit atrocities. – Voltaire

Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. – Robert Frost

Some people who don’t have a brain do a lot of talking. – The Scarecrow (in The Wizard of Oz)

There is no way writers can be tamed and rendered civilized. Or even cured. In a household with more than one person, of which one is a writer, the only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private, and where food can be poked in to him with a stick. Because, if you disturb the patient at such times, he may break into tears or become violent. Or he may not hear you at all….and, if you shake him at this stage, he bites. – Robert Heinlein

The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything. – W. Magee

A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success. – Cullen Hightower

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself – aloud. – Coco Chanel

The primary cause of problems is solutions. Do not parrot the words of famous people. Learn the meaning of what they say and repeat it in your own words. – Mark Twain (not an exact quote).

Each day is a gift. That’s why we call today “the present.”

What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so. – Yogi Berra

Casey Stengle on the effect of sex on athletes’ performance: It ain’t sex wrecks these guys. It’s stayin’ up all night lookin’ for it.

“What’s new?” is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question “What is best?,” a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly. – Robert Pirsig

Unix is doing to OS’s what Fortran did for languages: holding them back. – Olin Shivers

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a thumb.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the
others. – Cicero

… that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the earth. – closing words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

To laugh often and much
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden
patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
– Emerson

For every human being has a contribution to the truth. One must begin with this and somehow show how the matter stands. For from the opinions that are true but unclear, clarity will result in the course of the investigation when one exchanges the usual confused way of speaking with the more insightful way. – Aristotle

The Universe is made not of atoms, but of stories. – Muriel Rukeyser

Sometimes I am,
Sometimes I think.
– Paul Valéry

In 1900 Mecedes-Benz did a study that estimated the worldwide demand for cars would not exceed one million, primarily because of the limitation of available chauffeurs. – Stewart Brand, Media Lab

Imagine what it would be like if TV actually were good; it would be the end of everything we know. – Marvin Minsky

As any programmer knows, there is no difference between theory and practice in theory, but often a great deal of difference between theory and practice in practice! – Stephen Chernicoff, Macintosh Revealed

The difference between theory and practice is larger in practice than in theory. – unknown

Whenever a work’s structure is intentionally one of its own themes, another of its themes is art. – Annie Dillard

Posterity is the religion of the intellectuals. – Woody Allen

All men dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds,
wake in the day to find that it was vanity.
But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.
– T. E. Lawrence

Civilization … has to do not with things but with the invisible ties that join one thing to another. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘Tis a gift to be free.
– Shaker hymn

Freedom is not a simple experience. And as technology becomes more sophisticated, living in freedom — which means living with constant, changing choice — will only become more complex. – Emily Prager

People mistake generality for vagueness. – Roger Gregory

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. – Name witheld by request

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences. – Robert G.Ingersoll

We have met the enemy, and he is us. – Walt Kelly

The wind and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. – Edward Gibbon

He is the best sailor who can steer within fewest points of the wind, and exact a motive power of the greatest obstacle. – Henry David Thoreau

The biggest things are always the easiest to do because there is no competition. – William Van Horne

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. – Robert F. Kennedy

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid. – Mark Twain

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have done. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt

Is there anything in life so disenchanting as attainment? – Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back. – Abraham Lincoln

Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one. – Sam Rayburn

God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them. – German proverb

God gives the nuts, but not the nutcracker. – Eric Burleyson

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. – Louis Pasteur

Sometimes it is more important to discover what one cannot do, than what one can do. – Lin Yutang

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps. – David Lloyd George

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. – Peter F. Drucker

The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are two reasons for doing things — a very good reason and the real reason. – unknown

They sicken of the calm that know the storm. – Dorothy Parker

The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it. – Woodrow Wilson

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age. – Victor Hugo

Middle age is youth without it’s levity, and old age without decay. – Daniel Defoe

First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull your zipper down. – Leo Rosenberg

Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives. – Maurice Chevalier

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. – George Bernard Shaw

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. – Francis Bacon

A book is a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out. – G. C. Lichtenberg

Some people can stay longer in an hour than others can in a week. – William Dean Howells

A bore is a man who, when you ask him how he is, tells you. – Bert Leston Taylor

A man isn’t a man until he has to meet a payroll. – Ivan Shaffer

I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird, and not enough the bad luck of the early worm. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I see gr-reat changes takin’ place ivry day, but no change at all ivry fifty years. – Finley Peter Dunne

‘Change’ is scientific, ‘progress’ is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy. – Bertrand Russell

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. – George Bernard Shaw

Two and two continue to make four, in spite of the whine of the amateur for three, or the cry of the critic for five. – James McNeill Whistler

In judging others, folks will work overtime for no pay. – Charles Edwin Carruthers

To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. – Elbert Hubbard

Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without an education. Education appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence. – A. E. Wiggan

Pascal is for building pyramids – imposing, breathtaking, static structures
built by armies pushing heavy blocks into place.
Lisp is for building organisms – imposing, breathtaking, dynamic structures
built by squads fitting myriads of simpler organisms into place.
– Unknown

Why can’t there be just one computer language? Good question. Like, why can’t there be just one religion?
– Unknown

The good news: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE on your computer.
The bad news: NOTHING IS EASY.
– Ted Nelson

A Nice Distinction:
“Prose” is text which may be reformatted automatically with no loss of value – i.e., sentences and paragraphs.
“Poetry” is text whose format may not be changed automatically. This includes title pages, spreadsheets and so on, as well as actual poetry.
– Ted Nelson

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Alan Kay

The paperless office is as much a myth as the paperless toilet. – Industry Pundit

Anyone who equates an office with a toilet should not be designing software. – Ted Nelson

You can and must understand computers NOW. – Ted Nelson, 1974

Computers are just as oppressive as before, but smaller and cheaper and more widespread. Now you can be oppressed by a computer in your living room. – Ted Nelson, 1987

The computer field is like a great big toy store. But all the toys are broken. – Steve Witham

Q. What’s the difference between a used-car salesman and a computer salesman?
A. A used-car salesman knows when he’s lying.

Q. What’s an IBM man-year?
A. Seven hundred guys trying to finish something before lunch.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Add simplification. – engineering dictum

Alpha test is when you wouldn’t even show it to your mom.
Beta test is where you strap Mom down and say, “Here, Mom”.
Gamma test is the rest of the life of the product. – Mike Butler

On Explanation:
A language description should not attempt to explain everything about a language. It need only explain what needs explaining. You must assume that your reader understands something.
– John Allen

Nothing can be explained to a stone, the reader must understand something beforehand. – John McCarthy

I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you. – unknown

Know thyself, but tell not what thou knowest. – Chinese futune cookie

The task of a compiler is to take programs of a high-level, relatively problem-oriented language, and mutilate them beyond recognition, distorting them finally into sequences of unrecognizable codes comprehensible only to elements of electronic circuitry capable of actual execution. – Mark Elson

Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior. – Marshall McLuhan

You can count the seeds in the apple, but not the apples in the seed. – Ken Kesey

Love is a better teacher than duty. – Albert Einstein

Gutenberg made everybody a reader. Xerox made everybody a publisher. – Marshall McLuhan

Personal computers are making everybody an author. – Stewart Brand

Any clod can have the facts, but having opinions is an art. – Charles McCabe

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. – Blaise Pascal

Software stands between the user and the machine. – Harlan D. Mills

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens. – Benjamin Disraeli

For every problem there is one solution which is simple, neat, and wrong. – H. L. Mencken

You can observe a lot just by watching. – Yogi Berra

The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. – James Baldwin

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. – Niels Bohr

Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed. – unknown

When choosing between a real evil and a hypothetical evil, I always choose the hypothetical evil. – Joan Baez

When choosing between two evils I always like to take the one I’ve never tried before. – Mae West

Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories. – Arthur C. Clarke

The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it. – Abbie Hoffman

I think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability. – Oscar Wilde

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr

You are what you think. – Mike Blackstone

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong — but thats the way to bet. – Damon Runyon

A physicist is an atom’s way of knowing about atoms. – George Wald

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. – Oscar Wilde

The flush toilet is the basis of Western civilization. – Alan Coult
Laws of Computer Programming
1. Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
2. Any given program costs more and takes longer.
3. If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
4. If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
5. Any given program will expand to fill all available memory.
6. The value of a program is proportional to the weight of its output.
7. Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capability of the programmer who must maintain it.
8. Make it possible for programmers to write programs in English, and you will find that programmers cannot write in English.
– SIGPLAN Notices, Vol 2 No 2

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. – Paul Erlich

If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z where X is work, Y is play, Z is keep your mouth shut. – Albert Eistein

Fourth Law of Thermodymanics:
If the probability of success is not almost one, then it is damn near zero.
– David Ellis

Gilb’s Laws of Reliability:
1. Computers are unreliable.
2. Humans are even more unreliable.
3. The only difference between the fool and the criminal who attacks a system is that the fool attacks unpredictably and on a broader front.
4. ?
5. Self-checking systems tend to have a complexity in proportion to the inherent unreliability of the system in which they are used.
6. The error-detection and correction capabilities of any system are the key to understanding the type of errors which they cannot handle.
7. Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to detectable errors, which by definition are limited.
8. All real programs contain errors until proven otherwise – which is impossible.
9. Investment in reliability will increase until it exceeds the probable cost of errors, or somebody insists on getting some useful work done.

If you see a man approaching you with the obvious intent of doing you good, you should run for your life. – Henry David Thoreau

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization. – Gerald Weinberg

Zimmerman’s Law of Complaints: Nobody notices when things go right.

Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example. – La Rouchefoucauld

Mythology: The body of a primitive people’s beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later. – Unknown

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments. – Earl Wilson

Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality. – Jules de Gaultier

Paradise is exactly like right here, only much, much nicer. – Laurie Anderson

Optimization hinders evolution.

Pohl’s Law: Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere, will not hate it.

The goal of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we’ve finished building it. – Unknown

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. – Mark Twain

There are just two kinds of science: physics and butterfly-collecting. – unknown

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. – Mark Twain

The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke

– ——————————————————————-

[This group of quotes is taken from Ted Nelson’s Computer Lib/Dream Machines, 1987 edition. Those not otherwise attributed I suppose should be attributed to Theodore Holm Nelson.]

Anybody who doesn’t see that operating systems are a monstrous problem for civilians and beginners shouldn’t be allowed to program for civilians and beginners.

People talk as if “setting up a computer” is like buying a car. No, it’s like buying a car, building garages and driveways and grease pits, hiring chauffeurs and mechanics, learning to drive, and learning to pick up handkerchiefs with your teeth as you do wheelies in a parking lot.

It is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all. – Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

No one’s life has yet been simplified by a computer.

All the looks and feels have not been seen and felt.

When you break the problem into parts you’ve determined its structure, and the work that will be done around it, forever. – Mark Miller’s Law of Irrevocable Subdivision

Because everything you want to program seems so simple in principle, you think you could (in principle) program it all.

Ah, youth.
Estimating the size of a programming project is extremely difficult. Experienced programmers often underestimate by half. Large corporate programming projects are often underestimated by a factor of ten or more. Beginners can easily underestimate the complexity of a project by a factor of a million. Nelson’s rule of thumb: Take your initial estimate, multiply by a thousand, and divide by the number of weeks you’ve been in the computer field. In other words, after about twenty years, your estimates tend to be approximately correct.

The best of the stuff is a brilliant solution to the wrong problem. – Roger Gregory

“With our system you won’t have to program. You’ll just string commands together.” This is like that other great lie: “Our new church is non-denominational.”

Department of Notational Engineering – sign on Drew McDermott’s door

Everything is deeply intertwingled.

An option means the programmer didn’t have a clear idea of what the module was supposed to do. – Roger Gregory (1987)

“Good ideas are a dime a dozen.”
No, good ideas are rare. But people who can’t tell the difference are a dime a dozen.

AT&T is the type of company that has such vast financial resources that they will eventually get it right. – A computer retailer, quoted in Wall Street Journal, 15 Mar 1985, p. 10

At the roulette wheel, reliance on more money to save you tends only to lose more money.

All simulation is political.

The human mind is effective in identifying the structure of a complex situation. But human experience trains the mind only poorly for estimating the dynamic consequences of how the parts of a system will interact with one another. – Jay W. Forrester, World Dynamics

Although the hottest buzz phrase of the 1970s was ‘distributed processing’, so sluggishly and tyrannically was the concept implemented – with plenty of help from IBM – that the stage was set for the PC revolution. – John Gantz, InfoWorld, 6 Apr 1987, p. 30


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