Reference

Quotations

Inspirational and Enlightening

The best revenge is massive success.

— attributed to Frank Sinatra, but no source for it

If you show people the problems and you show people the solutions they will be moved to act.

— Bill Gates

Too many men work on parts of things. Doing a job to completion satisfies me.

— Dick Proenneke, who built his cabin with his two bare hands, in his fifties, at Twin Lakes in Lake Clark National Park, and lived there in the wilderness for another 30 years

Empowerment is a thing that you earn over time—as you overcome obstacles, learn, and accomplish things, you become empowered. Empowerment is not a thing that you are born with and that the parent's job is to get out of the way of. Empowerment is a thing that you earn. And some of that is that you become empowered by knowing that you were disempowered or by knowing that there were tremendous limits on what you were able to do, as a young person.

— John Roderick

Remember what they say
There's no shortcut to a dream
It's all blood and sweat
And life is what you manage in between
Don't run, don't rush
Just flow

— October, Broken Bells

People can probably only understand the worth of doing something if it has a purpose. My present attitude is that the purpose of having a purpose is so that we can have a fulfilling journey.

— Donald Knuth, 2001, Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About, p. 148

[Re: the safety of improvisation] If I do something weird, play it twice and it's a new part.

[Creating and sharing beautiful things has provided me] with the inspiration that we can do things we never thought we could do and that we will get to see wonderful things we never thought we would see.

— Rob Bell, Zomadic

If not me, then who? If not now, then when?

— Emma Watson

Success will never be a big step in the future; success is a small step taken just now.

— Jonatan Mårtensson

It's easy to be great, it's hard to be good.
(e.g. it is hard to be a good entertainer every night for a long period of time vs. unsustainable cutting edge greatness once.)

— Steve Martin, Born Standing Up,
paraphrased by Penn Jillette

Those who think they can change the world may inevitably be wrong, while those who think they can't will immediately be right.

— Jared

If you are going through hell... keep going.

— Winston Churchill

A live donkey is better than a dead lion, isn't it?

Sir Ernest Shackleton (regarding not reaching the South Pole)

I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

— Roger Ebert, The Essential Man

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear, he writes in a journal entry titled "Go Gently into That Good Night. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

— Roger Ebert, re: knowing he is dying, The Essential Man

[Moore's Law is] really a thing about human activity, it's about vision, it's about what you're allowed to believe. Because people are really limited by their beliefs, they limit themselves by what they allow themselves to believe [about] what is possible.

— Carver Mead

Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.

— Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)

Either we are alone in the universe or not, either way it's mind-boggling

Sometimes I wake up feeling tired and unable to run in the morning and go to bed having run one of my longest days ever.

— Ryan Johns, Day 95

Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.

— Mary Frances Berry

I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time.

— Charles M. Schulz

You can surrender without a prayer, but never really pray ... pray without surrender. You can fight without ever winning, but never ever win ... win without a fight.

— Neil Peart, Rush, Resist (Test for Echo)

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

The question I'm actually struggling with at the moment is: what should I do with the rest of my life? Or, to make it sound a little less like existential angst (even though that's actually what it is), what is the best process for deciding what to do with the rest of my life? Now, you're probably thinking, is that what all the fuss is about? Everybody deals with that. Except they don't. What other people deal with is deciding what to do with the rest of their life. It's not the same question, it just happens to render into the same words when expressed in indexical terms. Seven billion different people, seven billion different questions.

In time
I will
Collect the world

— Glen Phillips, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Butterflies (fear)

Work

Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.

— Thomas Carlyle

Wealth usually comes from doing what other people find insufferably boring.

Discover valuable types of fixable brokenness first.

— Paul Graham

Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.

As long as you're spending your time consuming, you're not producing.

It's easy to decide what you're going to do. The hard thing is deciding what you're not going to do.

— Michael Dell

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.

— Michael Porter, Harvard Business Review article, "What is Strategy?"

We know screwups are an essential part of making something good. That's why [Pixar's] goal is to screw up as fast as possible.

Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

— Walt Disney

When all is said and done, more is said than done.

— Lou Holtz

Work like a dog being taken for a walk, instead of an ox being yoked to the plow.

Most people don't take enough pride in their work, but not enough employers give people work worth taking pride in.

— Jared

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.

— James M. Barrie

By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve.

— Robert Frost

[T]he man who works so moderately as to be able to work constantly, not only preserves his health the longest, but in the course of the year, executes the greatest quantity of works.

— Adam Smith, quoted in The Economist

Even if it does sound like [an idea is] worth stealing, there are at least a thousand times more people that have good ideas than people who are willing to do the kind of work it takes to turn a great idea into a great company.

— Sam Altman of Y Combinator

The best way to complain is to make things.

— James Murphy

Sometimes the most creative, inspired, productive thing you can do is try to be as lazy as possible while still showing up to do the work.

— Shawn Blanc, The Note

A man is what he thinks about all day long.

Wisdom

Choose your Love and love your Choice.

— Unknown, quoted by Anne

The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.

— Doug Horton

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

— W. B. Yeats

You can't plant old trees.

— Jared

The Ranter somehow believes that the endless restatement of their opinion is the solution.

There's no bargaining with the devil.

— Jared Updike

Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it.

— Doug Larson

We are what we believe we are.

— C. S. Lewis

Do you know the difference between who and what you are?

— Neal Morse, Transatlantic, Duel with the Devil

You may easily play a joke on a man who likes to argue---agree with him.

— Ed Howe

[Truth] is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.

— Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling)

That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.

— P. C. Hodgell

When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest.

— attributed to Oscar Wilde, but no source available

Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.

— H. L. Mencken, A Little Book in C Major (1916)

Be wary of those who speak of being open-minded and modestly confess their ignorance. . . .
To confess your fallibility and then do nothing about it is not humble; it is boasting of your modesty.

— Eliezer Yudkowsky, Twelve Virtues of Rationality

Ubi dubium, ibi libertas.
Translation: "Where there is doubt, there is freedom."

— Ancient Roman legal term, meaning when in doubt the prisoner has to be freed.

Humor

I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars ... the rest I squandered.

— George Best

Drastic measures call for drastic time signatures.

Jared

The grass is always greener on the other side---but that's because they use more manure.

— Schapiro's Explanation

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

— Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut

Step one: Shave Shrodinger's cat with Occam's razor...

Pegr

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.

— Groucho Marx

Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.

— Groucho Marx

Zip bop doodley bop a doo frang da dappy!

— Duck and Cover song, Teddy Newton, from the film, The Iron Giant

At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.

— Emo Phillips

All power corrupts, but we need the electricity.

— Unknown

The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.

— Anonymous

It just hasn't been the same since we held those National Sentimental Society of Nostalgia meetings. Not the same at all.

— Jared

My other car
Has a better license plate holder

— Purportedly seen on the back of Jared's car

Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.

— Instructions for using toothpicks (Douglas Adams)

[Updike.org] looks like one of those dot org sites.

— Mike W.

Culture

The age of printed pamphlets and political essays has long since been replaced by television, a distracting and absorbing medium which seems determined to entertain itself more than it informs and educates.

— Al Gore

Teachers should be very careful not to spoil [their pupils'] taste for poetry for all time by making it a task and an imposition.

The difference between the Great Depression and the current Great Recession is that today, instead of starving, the impoverished are overfed and undernourished, just as they were before the bubble burst.

— Jared

One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no 'them' out there. It's just an awful lot of 'us'.

There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.

— Richard Feynman

He wrapped himself in quotations---as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.

— Rudyard Kipling

I think this album [Van Halen III] actually does a service for VH fans with split loyalties: it will unite the legions of Sammy-haters and Dave-haters against new lead singer Gary Cherone.

On a log scale [growing up in suburbia] was midway between crib and globe.

The main tool used by schools to manage large groups is competition. Whenever you get two or more people to compete then they have to be, by definition, doing the same thing. The rest of the rules are only there to cover the corner cases that competition misses. Similarly, no one who is the best at something can ever, by definition, push the human race forward. Because to be the best at something means you have to be, by definition, doing the same thing as everyone else.

After eagerly awaiting the outcome of the format war between DVD-Audio and SACD, only to see them both tank in favor of 128,000 bps Auditory Sandpaper(TM), I'm pretty much in despair on that front. We have a whole generation now who are capable of listening to that without covering their ears and screaming: "Make it stop!"" and worse yet, are willing to pay money for it. Meanwhile, people will pay hundreds of dollars for "Home Theater Systems" with 9% (!) Total Harmonic Distortion, when 0.1% was entry-level for $100 receivers 30 years ago! Oh, well... by the time my Carver separates die, hopefully my hearing will have deteriorated to the point I won't be able to "tell the difference" either.

— Gatesbasher, comment

When I was a kid, I used to think adults had it all figured out. I had it backwards. Kids are the ones who have it all figured out. They're just mistaken.

— Paul Graham, The Age of the Essay

In an artificial world, only extremists live naturally.

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.

— Oscar Levant

The multitude of books is making us ignorant.

— Voltaire

But what is the difference between literature and journalism? ... Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all.

— Oscar Wilde

Imitation is the sincerest form of television.

— Fred Allen

A liberal is a person whose interests aren't at stake at the moment.

— Willis Player

I've tried to teach people autodidactism, but I've realized they have to learn it for themselves.

— shapr, #Haskell IRC channel

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

— Groucho Marx

I don't think anyone should write their autobiography until after they're dead.

— Samuel Goldwyn

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.

— Bill Vaughn

If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist, it's another nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standard of nonconformity.

— Bill Vaughn

Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care.

— William Safire

During a political campaign everyone is concerned with what a candidate will do on this or that question if he is elected except the candidate; he's too busy wondering what he'll do if he isn't elected.

— Everett Dirksen

Without the aid of prejudice and custom I should not be able to find my way across the room.

— William Hazlitt

You get fifteen Democrats in a room, and you get twenty opinions.

— Senator Patrick Leahy

We're actors --- we're the opposite of people.

— Tom Stoppard

We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex---but Congress can.

— Cullen Hightower

To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile. The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned chatter.

— Aleister Crowley

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.

— Elbert Hubbard

Biography lends to death a new terror.

— Oscar Wilde

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.

— Joan D. Vinge

Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.

— Ben Hecht

You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.

— Greg McKeown

Wittgenstein is popularly credited with the idea that most philosophical controversies are due to confusions over language. I'm not sure how much credit to give him. I suspect a lot of people realized this, but reacted simply by not studying philosophy, rather than becoming philosophy professors.

[He] had a renewed interest in the freedom of the individual from the state, but that he still considered libertarianism "ahistorical" both on the world stage and in the work of creating a stable and functional society, adding that libertarians are "more worried about the over-mighty state than the unaccountable corporation" whereas "the present state of affairs ... combines the worst of bureaucracy with the worst of the insurance companies."

— re: Christopher Hitchens

Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need.

— Will Rogers

Forget what you know about buying fair businesses at wonderful prices; instead, buy wonderful businesses at fair prices.

— Warren Buffett, 2015, quoting Charlie Munger

Nights are 9pm to 6am.

— Cingular Wireless Money Hounds

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.

— Timothy Leary

If government were a product, selling it would be illegal.

— P. J. O'Rourke

Many young men are more likely to show daredevil tendencies in their driving because of factors such as emotional immaturity and misplaced feelings of immortality.

— Carolyn Gorman, Institute of Insurance Information

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

— Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004

What the hell’d you let them break your spirit for? You know, their lives ran in circles so small. Ah, they thought they’d seen it all.
And they could not make a place for a girl who’d seen the ocean.

— Michelle Shocked

On the internet, no one knows you're wearing a hyper-sleeve shirt.

— Jared

Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.

— George Bernard Shaw

No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.

— Victor Hugo

It's wrong to say what's right and wrong.

— Jared

In the modern world, if communities are unhappy, it is often because they have ignorances, habits, beliefs, and passions, which are dearer to them than happiness or even life. I find many men in our dangerous age who seem to be in love with misery and death, and who grow angry when hopes are suggested to them. They think hope is irrational and that, in sitting down to lazy despair, they are merely facing facts.

— Bertrand Russell's postscript to the third volume of his autobiography The Final Years, 1944–1969 (George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., London 1969),[10] p.221

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

— attributed to Marcus Aurelius (most likely misattributed but still a great quote)

Originally Tesla wanted to be a poet, but after getting zapped by static electricity from his kitty he was inspired to study the effects of electricity. One could vaguely construe that Tesla's cat was responsible for the second industrial revolution, which arguably makes it the most awesome cat who ever lived.

— Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal

Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong.

— H. L. Mencken, "The Divine Afflatus," 1917, reprinted 1920 and 1949.

Great Design

This is what we believe. Technology alone is not enough. Faster, thinner, lighter ... those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful ... even magical. That's when you leap forward. That's when you end up with something like this.

— Apple, iPad 2 ad

Dell's problem is they pretend they are selling a product when they are really selling an experience, however poor.

— Jared

Design doesn't have to be new, but it has to be good. Research doesn't have to be good, but it has to be new.

— Paul Graham, Design and Research

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer --- that the designers are handed this box and told, 'Make it look good!' That's not what we think design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

— Walt West

A lot of effort went into making this look effortless.

— Steve Jobs

The height of cleverness is to be able to conceal it.

— Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Design is the rendering of intent.

— Jared Spool

Design like you are right. Listen like you are wrong.

— seen on the Feedly blog, no attribution

Originality

Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.

— Laurence J. Peter

Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal.

— Igor Stravinsky (quoting Picasso)

For those that understand, no explanation is needed. For those that do not understand, no explanation is possible

— seen here

Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.

— Howard Aiken

Art is anything you can get away with.

— Marshall McLuhan

Creativity

SJ: I actually think there's actually very little distinction between an artist and a scientist or engineer of the highest calibre. I've never had a distinction in my mind between those two types of people. They've just been to me people who pursue different paths but basically kind of headed to the same goal which is to express something of what they perceive to be the truth around them so that others can benefit by it.
DM: And the artistry is in the elegance of the solution, like chess playing or mathematics?
SJ: No. I think the artistry is in having an insight into what one sees around them. Generally putting things together in a way no one else has before and finding a way to express that to other people who don't have that insight so they can get some of the advantage of that insight that makes them feel a certain way or allows them to do a certain thing. I think that a lot of the folks on the Macintosh team were capable of doing that and did exactly that. If you study these people a little bit more what you'll find is that in this particular time, in the 70's and the 80's the best people in computers would have normally been poets and writers and musicians. Almost all of them were musicians. A lot of them were poets on the side. They went into computers because it was so compelling. It was fresh and new. It was a new medium of expression for their creative talents. The feelings and the passion that people put into it were completely indistinguishable from a poet or a painter. Many of the people were introspective, inward people who expressed how they felt about other people or the rest of humanity in general into their work, work that other people would use. People put a lot of love into these products, and a lot of expression of their appreciation came to these things. It's hard to explain.

— Steve Jobs on Artists and Scientists

Talent is like having muscles or good looks; it's an asset if you can use it skillfully and thoughtfully and tastefully, but we all know that some of the ugliest actors are the most talented ones.
If you want a career where you'll never be a success, get into the creative arts. ... Artists, in any art---whether singing, acting, painting---are just taking a chance.
All art is abstract, because art is an abstraction of truth.
(Paraphrased:) If you're not a painter, you can take a trip and say, "Well, we had a wonderful time looking at the Grand Canyon." But if you had to make a picture of the Grand Canyon---if you had to deal with the impossible vastness, and if you had to give form to it---that takes something other than just looking. There's a mental process that you have to go through. It bothers me the way people talk about painting as if it is merely a craft or merely an ability, when if anything it's an intellectual process, just as much as philosophy or history. Painting is a process of expressing a philosophy graphically.
(Paraphrased:) Painting is drawing with color. Painting is drafting. A painting is a graphic poem. You're doing graphically what a poet hopes to do with words.
(Paraphrased:) I don't think those of us who have learned to draw realize how we can affect the average person who doesn't understand how we do it.

— Milford Zornes, Artists Magazine Jan/Feb 2008, interview by Sylvia Megerdichian and Bill Anderson, about a month before he died at age 100.

The greatest thing she ever said to me was in 1943 after the opening of Oklahoma!, when I suddenly had unexpected, flamboyant success for a work I thought was only fairly good, after years of neglect for work I thought was fine. I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. I talked to Martha [Graham]. I remember the conversation well. It was in a Schrafft's restaurant over a soda. I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent but no faith that I could be.
Martha said to me, very quietly, "There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exists through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have a peculiar and unusual gift, and you have so far used about one-third of your talent."
"But," I said, "when I see my work, I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied."
"No artist is pleased."
"But then there is no satisfaction?"
"No satisfaction whatever at any time," she cried out passionately. "There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes more alive than the others."

— Martha Graham's wisdom to Agnes de Mille, choreographer for Roger's and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, via @KarenKilgariff

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.

— Marie Curie

Art

Build a habit of looking for the beauty that surrounds us everyday.

— Clyde Aspevig (paraphrased)

Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer; art is everything else.

— Donald Knuth, 2001, Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About, p. 168

The Power of Music

In the work by Christoph Christian Sturm cited above, Beethoven highlighted the following words: "By all rights, one can call nature a school for the heart, because it teaches us in a highly rational manner the responsibilities which we not only owe to God, but also to ourselves and to our fellow man." Following this, one could even view the Pastorale less as a musical depiction of nature than as a resounding illustration of Beethoven's principles of life: "The moral law in us and the starry heavens above us."

A song on the radio can move me so much it leaves me sobbing, elated and destroyed at the same time.

Photography

Photography has always been a means to an end, the medium has never been my goal. I always say, "do painters sit around with other painters and talk about paint brushes?"

If you're in enough places at enough times, then some of them are bound to be the right ones.

— Guy Kawasaki, not about photography, interview

We admire the work of those we admire precisely because they showed us who they are. No one else can be them, and likewise, only you can be you. No one else can be as good at being you as you are. Show us.

— Ken Rockwell, The Pen and the Signature

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.

— Ansel Adams

I have often thought that if photography were difficult in the true sense of the term---meaning that the creation of a simple photograph would entail as much time and effort as the production of a good watercolor or etching---there would be a vast improvement in total output. The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster.

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.

— Ansel Adams

A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.

— Ansel Adams

When a photographer masters the tools and processes of the art, then the quality of the work is only limited by his creative vision.

— Edward Weston, California and the West, paraphrased by Morgan P. Yates in Westways, May 2009

Learning and Understanding

One of the first duties of the physician is to educate people not to take medicine.

— Sir William Osler, widely revered as the father of modern medicine

What I cannot create, I do not understand.

— On the blackboard of Richard Feynman at time of death in 1988; as quoted in The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

— Pablo Picasso

I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding, they learn by some other way---by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!

— Richard Feynman

It is the quality of your observation, not your technique, that most contributes to your progress as an artist.

— Judy Martin, Sketching School, pg. 9

Science

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

— Stephen Hawking

... the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation...

— Christopher Hitchens, letter

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

— Christopher Hitchens

As the saying goes; everybody may have a right to their own opinion, but they certainly don't have the right to their own facts.

I cannot shake the illusion that I do in fact exist, despite the fact that I am actually convinced that I don't. Pursuing this line of inquiry leads to some conclusions that are pretty bizarre even by the usual standards of philosophy and quantum mechanics. I spoke to God and told him I don't believe in Him. God replied and said that I was right.

In his remarkable book about the workings of science, Science in Action, the philosopher Bruno Latour brings a note of caution to the distinction between science and art. ... [Science as] a systematized body of knowledge, ability to make predictions, validation of models ... is part of what he calls ready-made-science, science that is ready to be used and applied, science that is ready to support art. Much science-in-the-making appears as art until it becomes settled science.

The discovery of this reality is hindered rather than helped by belief, whether one believes in God or believes in atheism. We must make here a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would "lief" or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.

— Alan Watts

The remark which I read somewhere, that science is all right as long as it doesn't attack religion, was the clue I needed to understand the problem. As long as it doesn't attack religion it need not be paid attention to and nobody has to learn anything. So it can be cut off from society except for its applications, and thus be isolated. And then we have this terrible struggle to try to explain things to people who have no reason to want to know. But if they want to defend their own point of view, they will have to learn what yours is a little bit. So I suggest, maybe correctly and perhaps wrongly, that we are too polite.

— Richard Feynman, From lecture "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society", given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy, 1964.

They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is shall shadow
The man that pretends to be.

— TS Eliot

The separation between "matters of faith" and "matters of science" is itself a lie we tell ourselves and each other so we can tolerate living in a world populated by irrational people and irrational beliefs. But it's artifice, there's no reason any actual phenomenon can't be investigated "scientifically."

— partdavid, hacker news comment

The ones we wish could hear us
have heard it all before.

— Neil Peart, Rush, Peaceable Kingdom

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

— Kurt Vonnegut

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

— Arthur C. Clarke

I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Inevitably one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.

— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, said by Sherlock Holmes

God exists since mathematics is consistent, and the Devil exists since we cannot prove it.

— Andre Weil

Wikipedia is forcing people to accept the stone-cold bummer that knowledge is produced and constructed by argument rather than by divine inspiration.

Remeber this as "explainer" content becomes more comoditized: "When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable."

— Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, quoted by CJ Chilvers

Reality

Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie?

— Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

— Richard Feynman, The Rogers Commission Report

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

— Philip K. Dick

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

— Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (quoted in Obama's 2010 Speech at University of Michigan).

Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.

— Nikola Tesla

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.

— Pablo Picasso

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

— Pablo Picasso

Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.

— Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

— H. P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu,
emphasis added

Alan Moore came to develop his own opinions on the subject of a global conspiracy, stating that "Yes, there is a conspiracy, indeed there are a great number of conspiracies, all tripping each other up ... the main thing that I learned about conspiracy theories is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in the conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy, or the grey aliens, or the twelve-foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is far more frightening: no-one is in control; the world is rudderless."

"I'm writing a book on magic," I explain, and I'm asked, "Real magic?" By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. "No," I answer: "Conjuring tricks, not real magic."
Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.

— Lee Siegel, Net of Magic,
quoted by Daniel Dennett

But ignorance exists in the map, not in the territory. If I am ignorant about a phenomenon, that is a fact about my own state of mind, not a fact about the phenomenon itself. A phenomenon can seem mysterious to some particular person. There are no phenomena which are mysterious of themselves. To worship a phenomenon because it seems so wonderfully mysterious is to worship your own ignorance.

— Eliezer Yudkowsky

[Fatigue is a bodily sensation, but] pain has this location which makes it really compelling to think that it's coming from there --- but actually it's always coming from your brain 100% of the time.

Your strength as a rationalist is your ability to be more confused by fiction than by reality. If you are equally good at explaining any outcome, you have zero knowledge.

— Eliezer Yudkowsky, Rationality from AI to Zombies, Your Strength As a Rationalist, p. 105

Programming

OOP is to writing a program, what going through airport security is to flying.

I think it's part of the great cultural divide in computing, where developers see software as a toolkit but users expect appliances.

To write a big program, you just break it into lots of small programs, right? Well, that's true a sense, in the same sense that writing a book is merely a matter of writing chapters, which is merely a matter of writing paragraphs etc. But writing books is hard because the pieces have to hang together in a coherent whole. If part of a book doesn't quite fit with the whole, the result is aesthetically disappointing. If a part of a program doesn't quite fit in, it's called a crash. Paper doesn't abort, but programs do.

The principal lesson of Emacs is that a language for extensions should not be a mere "extension language". It should be a real programming language, designed for writing and maintaining substantial programs. Because people will want to do that!

— Richard Stallman, Why you shouldn't use Tcl

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.

— Edsger Dijkstra

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.

— Robert R. Coveyou, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

There are only two kinds of software: released too early and never released at all.

We will encourage you to develop the three great virtues of a programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris.

— Larry Wall, Programming Perl (1st edition)

There was once a wise young man who tried all kinds of implements to tend his garden--spades, hoes, rakes, and much, much more---and found them all lacking. Well, there was an ancient rusty shovel in his shed that would fit him just right, except it missed the most part of the handle and could not be easily repaired. The young man then put all his skills to the task of re-creating an old shovel, while secretly smirking on his neighbours who all used the much inferior implements. To do this right he needed first to produce an identical alloy for the blade, to forge it just right, to grind it just right (the whetstone also needed to be produced somehow), to find the right tree for the handle's wood, and many, many more things that ought to be done just right. Finally he had his shovel made. He took it in his hands, plunged the blade in the ground, put his foot on it, and died of old age with a happy smile on his lips. Decades later a wise young man looking for an implement to tend his garden found an ancient rusty shovel in his shed.

comment by Hot Giraffe on Thumbs Down for Clojure, a tirade pining for the good ol' days of Symbolics Genera. OK. Program in Symbolics Genera. Can I download your App or see your website running on that system?

The Windows API is so broad, so deep, and so functional that most Independent Software Vendors would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different operating system instead... It is this switching cost that has given the customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO (total cost of ownership), our lack of a sexy vision at times, and many other difficulties [...] Customers constantly evaluate other desktop platforms, [but] it would be so much work to move over that they hope we just improve Windows rather than force them to move. In short, without this exclusive franchise called the Windows API, we would have been dead a long time ago.

In the software business there are many enterprises for which it is not clear that science can help them; that science should try is not clear either.

— E. W. Dijkstra

#haskell is a loquacracy!

— quicksilver, #haskell (IRC channel)

I ACCIDENTALLY THE WHOLE VERB

— quicksilver, #haskell (IRC channel)

We had 15 years building ivory towers - time to throw rocks from the top!

— dons, #haskell (IRC channel)

I am downloading the [iPhone] SDK and I don't even know how to program. This is too awesome not to learn how.

Operating System:
An operating system is a collection of things
that don't fit into a language.
There shouldn't be one.

The hardest part of the software task is arriving at a complete and consistent specification, and much of the essence of building a program is in fact the debugging of the specification.

— Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. No Silver Bullet

This message is encoded ROT0. Decoding is punishable by death under the DMCA.

— slashdot signature, user "hard burn"

There are three kinds of programmers: those who make off by one errors, and those who don't.

— seen on signature of Benjamin Franksen, Haskell mailing list.

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

— Rich Cook

Microsoft offers the quality of a Chinese knockoff without the lower price tag.

— Daniel Eran Dilger, Myths of Leopard #8

Every 5 minutes you spend writing code in a new language is more useful than 5 hours reading blog posts about how great the language is.

At the mention of ugly source code, people will of course think of Perl. But the superficial ugliness of Perl is not the sort I mean. Real ugliness is not harsh-looking syntax, but having to build programs out of the wrong concepts. Perl may look like a cartoon character swearing, but there are cases where it surpasses Python conceptually.

— Paul Graham, the Python Paradox.

Nothing much has changed, those folks who have a strong educational background in Comp Sci and have allowed themselves to be exposed to the full breadth of computing typically become excellent programmers regardless of the software language of choice. Those that choose to specialize early and only have a narrow view of the field typically have significant knowledge gaps that can be seen at the code level.

— kinch, comment to C and Morse Code

The quality of their programmers was inversely proportional to the density of goto statements in their programs.

— Edsgar Dijkstra, Programming Considered as a Human Activity

Interaction is the mind-body problem of computing.

— Philip L. Wadler

Never write five lines of code when one will do. Never write fifty lines of code when three short one-liners will do. Never write 500 lines of code when ten three-liners will do.

— Jared

We now appear to be living in a world where even the most laughable paranoid fantasies about commercially controlling simple social concepts [i.e. Microsoft attempt to patent emoticons] are being outdone in the real world by well-funded armies of lawyers on behalf of some of the most powerful companies on the planet.

— Mark Taylor, Open Source Consortium

[Microsoft, Adobe, or any large company, for that matter] can't pay people enough to build something better than a group of inspired hackers will build for free.

— Paul Graham, What Businesses Can Learn from Open Source

Except the GIMP and Blender, apparently.

— Jared Updike, Programmers are Really Bad at Designing Interfaces for Designers

Make each program do one thing well. To do a new job, build afresh rather than complicate old programs by adding new features.

It's a really fascinating tell, when programmers think that the solution to a given problem is that everyone become programmers.

Refactors should be discovered, not made up.

— Katrina, on Why Are Computers Podcast, Ep. 3

Software almost never does anything well by accident.

— Ramez Naam, on the potential for a malicious super-intelligent AI (2015 SALT/Long Now Talk)