"There is a general place in your brain, I think,
'melancholy of relationships past.' It grows
and prospers as life progresses, forcing you
finally, against your better judgment, to listen
to country music."
Kary Mullis: Nobelist
God rest ye CS students now,
Let nothing you dismay.
The VAX is down and won't be up,
Until the first of May.
The program that was due this morn,
Won't be postponed, they say.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
The bearings on the drum are gone,
The disk is wobbling, too.
We've found a bug in Lisp, and Algol
Can't tell false from true.
And now we find that we can't get
At Berkeley's 4.2.
To venerate expectantly.
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
The time when men of reason go to bed.
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
Graduate life---it's not just a job, it's an indenture.
Sits at the keyboard
And waits for a line on the screen
Lives in a dream
Waits for a signal
Finding some code
That will make the machine do some more.
What is it for?
All the lonely users, where do they all come from?
All the lonely users, where do they all belong?
Probable-Possible, my black hen,
She lays eggs in the Relative When.
She doesn't lay eggs in the Positive Now
Because she's unable to postulate how.
-- Frederick Winsor
Question 8: Pedestrians are
(c) a nuisance.
(d) difficult to clean off the front grille.
The correct answer is (a). Pedestrians are not in cars,
so they are totally irrelevant to driving; you should
ignore them completely.
There was a young man who said "God,
I find it exceedingly odd,
That the willow oak tree
Continues to be,
When there's no one about in the Quad."
"Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd,
For I'm always about in the Quad;
And that's why the tree,
Continues to be,"
Signed "Yours faithfully, God."
"Good-bye. I am leaving because I am bored."
-- George Sanders' dying words
Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the
vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it.
Vending machines don't sell quiche.
Double-Blind Experiment, n.:
An experiment in which the chief researcher
believes he is fooling both the subject and the lab
assistant. Often accompanied by a belief in the
Star Wars is adolescent nonsense; Close Encounters is
obscurantist drivel; Star Trek can turn your brains
to pur'ee of bat guano; and the greatest science
fiction series of all time is Doctor Who! And I'll
take you all on, one-by-one or all in a bunch to
back it up!"
-- Harlan Ellison
One is not superior merely because one sees the world
-- Chateaubriand (1768-1848)
[In the 60's] there was madness in any direction, at
any hour ... You could strike sparks anywhere.
There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever
we were doing was `right', that we were winning ...
And that, I think, was the handle -- the sense
of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and
Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't
need that. Our energy would simply `prevail'.
There was no point in fighting -- on our side
or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were
riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ....
So now, less than five years later, you can
go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look
West, and with the right kind of eyes you
can almost see the high-water mark -- the
place where the wave finally broke and
-- Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous;
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
-- Gilbert & Sullivan, "Pirates of Penzance"
(Sir Garnett Wolseley, later Lord Wolseley was the human
prototypel of the modern Major-General.)
You don't have to think too hard when you talk to teachers.
-- J. D. Salinger
Formal evening attire for female computer analysts.
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
-- Dorothy Parker
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.
-- Dorothy Parker
There once was a member of Mensa
Who was a most excellent fencer.
The sword that he used
Was his -- (line is refused,
And has now been removed by the censor).
Dear Miss Manners:
My home economics teacher says that one must never
place one's elbows on the table. However, I have
read that one elbow, in between courses, is all
right. Which is correct?
For the purpose of answering examinations in
your home economics class, your teacher is
correct. Catching on to this principle of
education may be of even greater importance
to you now than learning correct current
table manners, vital as Miss Manners believes
Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy"
until you can find a rock.
---anonymous or Will Rogers, but only a student
told me this.
physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms.
-- George Wald
Friends, Romans, Hipsters,
Let me clue you in;
I come to put down Caesar, not to groove him.
The square kicks some cats are on stay with them;
The hip bits, like, go down under;
so let it lay with Caesar. The cool Brutus
Gave you the message: Caesar had big eyes;
If that's the sound, someone's copping a plea,
And, like, old Caesar really set them straight.
Here, copacetic with Brutus and the studs,
-- for Brutus is a real cool cat;
So are they all, all cool cats, --
Come I to make this gig at Caesar's laying down.
"I can remember when a good politician had
to be 75 percent ability and 25 percent actor,
but I can well see the day when the reverse
could be true."
-- Harry Truman
Do not try to solve all life's problems at once
---learn to dread each day as it comes.
-- Donald Kaul
Due to circumstances beyond your control,
you are master of your fate and
captain of your soul.
A wheel or disk mounted to spin rapidly about an axis
and also free to rotate about one or both of two
axes perpendicular to each other and the axis of spin
so that a rotation of one of the two mutually
perpendicular axes results from application of torque
to the other when the wheel is spinning and so that
the entire apparatus offers considerable opposition
depending on the angular momentum to any torque that
would change the direction of the axis of spin.
-- Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary
(I fail to see anything particularly amusing
or unusual about this definition.)
I've known him as a man, as an adolescent and
as a child -- sometimes on the same day.
THE STORY OF CREATION
THE MYTH OF URK
In the beginning there was data. The data was without
form and null, and darkness was upon the face of the
console; and the Spirit of IBM was moving over the
face of the market. And DEC said, "Let there be
registers"; and there were registers. And DEC
saw that they carried; and DEC separated the data
from the instructions. DEC called the data Stack,
and the instructions they called Code. And there
was evening and there was morning, one interrupt ...
-- Rico Tudor
Q: Why did the tachyon cross the road?
A: Because it was on the other side.
A very intelligent turtle
Found programming UNIX a hurdle
The system, you see,
Ran as slow as did he,
And that's not saying much for the turtle.
Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward?
That's the trouble with time travel,
you never can tell."
-- Doctor Who "Androids of Tara"
No good deed goes unpunished.
-- Clare Boothe Luce
Garbage In -- Gospel Out.
The first time, it's a KLUDGE!
The second, a trick.
Later, it's a well-established technique!
-- Mike Broido, Intermetrics
It's not a bug, it's a feature.
No problem is so formidable that you can't
just walk away from it.
Real Programmers don't play tennis, or any other
sport that requires you to change clothes. Mountain
climbing is OK, and real programmers wear their
climbing boots to work in case a mountain should suddenly
spring up in the middle of the machine room.
Teach children to be polite and courteous in the home,
and, when they grow up, they will never be able to edge
their cars onto a freeway.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single
A child of 5 could understand this!
Fetch me a child of 5.
Egotism is the anesthetic given by a
kindly nature to relieve the pain
of being a damned fool.
-- Bellamy Brooks
I have resolved from now on to be a complete egotist.
---Napoleon Bonaparte to his brother. It was not the
hardest goal Napoleon ever set for himself.
NAPOLEON: What shall we do with this soldier, Guiseppe? Everything he
says is wrong.
GUISEPPE: Make him a general, Excellency, and then everything he says
will be right.
-- G. B. Shaw, "The Man of Destiny"
Steele's Plagiarism of Somebody's Philosophy:
Everybody should believe in something---I believe
I'll have another drink.
Rapidly, very very quickly, all the colours faded;
it became darker and darker as at the beginning
of a violent storm; the light sank and sank;
we kept saying this is the shadow; and we thought
now it is over this is the shadow; when suddenly
the light went out. We had fallen. It was extinct.
There was no colour. The earth was dead. That was
the astonishing moment: and the next when as if a
ball had rebounded, the cloud took colour on itself
again; and so the light came back. I had very
strongly the feeling as the light went out of
some vast obeisance; something kneeling down and
suddenly raised up when the colours came...
Then it was all over till 1999.
VIRGINIA WOOLF IN HER DIARY, THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 1927
Witches only---all others will be toad.
A bumper sticker I think.
You do, I suppose, have to care about books.
Certainly, anybody who buys novels and biographies
and Washington memoirs and slender collections of
poetry and kids classics soon recognizes that most
inexorable and inflexible of truths: There are
more books in the world than there are shelves to
put them on. You can build bookcase after bookcase,
you can periodically cull your library, you can
adopt any system you like to keep the bibliomania
under control, and none of it will make a bit
of difference. The laws of physics are,
after all, immutable: All book collections
inevitably expand to overwhelm the space devoted to them.
(The web came along to save us.)
Westron wind, when wilt thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!
-- -Anonymous, 1400s
thou still unravished thou
thou, thou bride
thou unravished unbride
-- -Brenda Hillman, 1999
The idea of permanent post-mortem, which (alas)
may be compatible with modern academic history,
is at odds with the sense of quickening manifested
in the cultural movement called the Renaissance.
"The Printing Press as an Agent of Change" p. 301
God is not dead! He is alive and autographing
Bibles today at Brentano's.
---graffito reported by Time, April 13 1970.
``the historically hardly paralleled dedication
and responsibility of physicists to the great,
dark, tangled, un-understanding cause of a peaceful world''
---J. Robert Oppenheimer quoted by
Rhodes, R. 2000, Science, 288, 1350.
"I could die for her---or kill for her.
Either way, what a pleasure."
- Quotes from the Boer War
`Look back over the pages of history; consider
the feelings with which we now regard wars that
our forefathers in their time supported ...
see how powerful and deadly are the fascinations
of passion and of pride.'
---W.E. Gladstone, 1879november26, condemning
the first annexation of the Transvaal
``Hiding in the ammunition van
Midst the shot and shell I've been
While my comrades fought as comrades ought
I was nowhere to be seen
---chorus of the Tommies
(Actually Tarara, but Ta-ra sounds better to me.)
Such was the day for our regiment
Dread the revenge we will take.
Dearly we paid for the blunder---
A drawing-room General's mistake.
Why weren't we told of the trenches?
Why weren't we told of the wire?
Why were we marched up in column
May Tommy Atkins equire ...
---`The Battle of Magersfontein,' by Pte. Smith
of the Black Watch, 1899december
`When I come home I shall want to sleep in my clothes
out on a path in the garden in a blanket.
If it isn't raining
I should like someone to pour a watering pot over me
every now and then.
And the gardener come out and shoot every hour or so
in the night ...'
---Major Robert Bowen, 60th Rifles, to his wife shortly
before he was killed 1900january06
`You see, I had read a book,' the Knight went on in
a dreamy far-away tone, `written to prove that warfare
under modern conditions was impossible. You may
imagine how disturbing that was to a man of my
profession. Many men would have thrown the whole
thing up and gone home. But I grappled with
situation. You will never guess what I did.'
Alice pondered. `You went to war, of course---'
`Yes, but not under modern conditions.'
---The White Knight (Lord Lansdowne) explaining the
Cabinet's war policy in Saki's satire
`Alice in Westminster,' 1900 fall
The Baby's name is Kitchener Carrington
Methuen Kekewich White,
Cronje Plumer Powell Majuba
Gatacre Warren Colenso Kruger
Cape Town Mafeking French
Kimberley Ladysmith Bobs
The Union Jack & the Fighting Mac
Lyddite Pretoria Blogs.
The Parson said these names upon this infant I can't pop
So my wife she bruised his rolling veld & jumped on his Spion Kop
She kicked his mounted infantry till his Bloomfontein was sore
Then she did a flanking movement & she started out once more.
---the Tommies marching home
(I think ``can't pop'' has to be interpreted
as not the father of.)
On the Great Crash of 1929
``All I lost was two hundred and forty thousand dollars,''
Groucho Marx said later. ``I would have lost more, but that
was all the money I had.''
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend,
inside of a dog, its hard to read.
--- Groucho Marx
Are you a man or mouse? Squeak up.
--- Groucho Marx
Perhaps I don't amount to much
I can't aspire to beat the Dutch--
and now it seems the Dutch don't care!
Or else perhaps they're not aware
That I am not their mental equal--
At all events, they want a sequel!
Frances Parkinson Keyes
Keyes was a well known author of the 1940s and 1950s.
Perhaps here most notable books were
``Dinner At Antoine's'' (1948) and ``The River Road'' (1945).
She was often translated among other things into Dutch.
"As a group, no one would call poets a particularly bubbly,
chipper group," Pennebaker added.
1. I went out into the woods today and it made me feel,
you know, sort of religious.
2. We're not getting any younger.
3. It sure is cold and lonely (a) without you, honey,
or (b) with you, honey.
4. Sadness seems but the other side of the coin of
happiness, and vice versa, and in any case the coin
is too soon spent and on we know not what.
----William Matthews (1942-1997) offers
"a short but comprehensive summary" of the themes
of lyric poetry. From "Dull Subjects" in his book Curiosities (1989).
From a deservedly celebrated essay by Raymond Chandler
called "The Simple Art of Murder." It reads in part:
"In everything that can be called art there is a
quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if
it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony,
and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man.
But down these mean streets a man must go who is not
himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.
He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a
complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man.
He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase,
a man of honor---by instinct, by inevitability,
without thought of it, and certainly without saying it.
He must be the best man in his world and
a good enough man for any world."
Mitchell, Susan (1866--1926)
George Moore Becomes High Sheriff of Mayo
We've some bright boys in Ireland, we've got our W.B.:
Faith, Martyn, we have got yourself, we've also got AE.
When Plunkett isn't writing books, he is our pride and joy,
And though MacDonnell may be glum he's not a bad wee boy.
We love our own O'Grady, we love our Douglas Hyde,
And from this pleasant company there's one we won't divide;
'Tis yourself, Moore, you're the playboy,
but you're faithful to the green
Though you're hangin' men and women down in Ballaghadereen.
Down in Ballaghadereen, down in Ballaghadereen,
Sending souls to instant glory down in Ballaghadereen.
(Evidently, she thought highly of Geo. Moore.)
In a lighter moment in Weatherford's generally grisly tale of conquest
and subjugation, Mongke, another of the great Khan's successors,
organized a religious debate among a Christian, a Muslim and a Buddhist.
The Mongols loved contests of all kinds. Between rounds in the
discussion, as reported by William of Rubruck, a Franciscan monk
who visited Mongolia in 1253, the clerics drank
the Mongols' favorite drink, fermented mare's milk, and
before too long the effects of alcohol became evident. The Christians
gave up all serious arguments and start singing, the Muslims resorted
to loudly shouting passages from the Koran, and
the Buddhists "retreated into silent meditation."
Louise Levathes in the Washington Post
Come, every frustum longs to be a cone,
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.
-- Stanislaw Lem, "Cyberiad"
Selection of bon mots from ``Wodehouse in His Own Words''
"The least thing upsets him on the links. He missed short putts because of
the uproar of the butterflies in the adjoining meadows."
"My uncle George discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of
modern medical thought."
"He resembled . . . in his general demeanour one of those unfortunate
gentlemen in railway station waiting-rooms who, having injudiciously
consented at four-thirty to hold a baby for a strange woman, look at
the clock and see that it is now six-fifteen and no relief in sight."
"All chartered accountants have hearts as big as hotels. You think they're
engrossed in auditing the half-yearly balance sheet of Miggs, Montagu
and Murgatroyd, general importers, and all the time they're writing notes
to blondes saying 'Tomorrow, one-thirty, same place.' "
"Uncle Tom always looked a bit like a pterodactyl with a secret sorrow."
"The rich contralto of female novelist calling to its young had broken the
stillness of the summer afternoon."
"She came leaping towards me, like Lady Macbeth coming to get first-hand
news from the guest room."
"The Rev. Henry looked as disturbed as if he had suddenly detected
Pelagianism in a member of his Sunday-School class."
Make love like fools when you are young, and work like the devil
when you are old: it is the only way to live.
Quoted by Edmund Crispin in ``A Sudden Veangeance'', p. 98.
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.
The reason why, I cannot tell.
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.
They told me you had proven it When they discovered our results
About a month before. Their hair began to curl
The proof was valid, more or less Instead of understanding it
But rather less than more. We'd run the thing through PRL.
He sent them word that we would try Don't tell a soul about all this
To pass where they had failed For it must ever be
And after we were done, to them A secret, kept from all the rest
The new proof would be mailed. Between yourself and me.
My notion was to start again
Ignoring all they'd done
We quickly turned it into code
To see if it would run.
from John Kilburg's funny message thing.
It's a take off of Lewis Carroll.
quoted from Mark Bradford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To err is human, to moo bovine.
I'm just an advertisement for a version of myself.
" 'The basic hedgehog condition is sadness,' says Max.
'Charlotte is thinking of how many hedgehogs have tasted
the sweetness of the moon, all of them gone in the whisper
of the trees and the rustling of the years.'
" 'Whoa, boy,' says Max's mind. 'This kind of thinking is not going
to get Charlotte all the way to the bank.' "
Russell Hoban ``Her Name was Lola''
Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.
"The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who
make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that mathematicians
have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine
man in the bonds of Hell."
-- St. Augustine
(Augustine probably meant astrologers. But saint, know thyself.)
Once ... in the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were
forced to live on nothing but food and water for days.
-- W. C. Fields, "My Little Chickadee"
Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Some savage, spectacular suicide.
-- Stanislaw Lem, "Cyberiad"
I believe this was a creation of the computer bard
built by Klapucius or Trurl: whichever: the other
one of the universal constructors ridiculed it.
While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
The fate of empires and the fall of kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.
-- Robert Burns, Address on "The Rights of Woman",
November 26, 1792
Nine megs for the secretaries fair,
Seven megs for the hackers scarce,
Five megs for the grads in smoky lairs,
Three megs for system source;
One disk to rule them all,
One disk to bind them,
One disk to hold the files
And in the darkness grind 'em.
-- off the UNLV system log of funny quotes
- The Southern Cross I saw every night abeam. The Sun every morning
came up astern; every evening it went down ahead. I wished for
no other compass to guide me, for these were true.---Captain Joshua
Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World
- The assertion that "all men are created equal" was of no practical use
in effecting our separation from Great Britain and it was placed in the
Declaration not for that, but for future use.
-- Abraham Lincoln
The wombat lives across the seas,
Among the far Antipodes.
He may exist on nuts and berries,
Or then again, on missionaries;
His distant habitat precludes
Conclusive knowledge of his moods.
But I would not engage the wombat
In any form of mortal combat.
The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the
poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal
-- Anatole France
Her locks an ancient lady gave
Her loving husband's life to save;
And men -- they honored so the dame --
Upon some stars bestowed her name.
But to our modern married fair,
Who'd give their lords to save their hair,
No stellar recognition's given.
There are not stars enough in heaven.
---who? About Coma Berenices I guess.
At a recent meeting in Snowmass, Colorado, a participant from Los
Angeles fainted from hyperoxygenation, and we had to hold his head
under the exhaust of a bus until he revived.
All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers ... Each one owes
infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in
which he was born.
-- Francois Fenelon
The Sixth Commandment of Frisbee:
The greatest single aid to distance is for the disc to be going
in a direction you did not want. (Goes wrong way = Goes long way.)
-- Dan Roddick
My pen is at the bottom of a page,
Which, being finished, here the story ends;
'Tis to be wished it had been sooner done,
But stories somehow lengthen when begun.
The polite thing to do has always been to address people as they wish
to be addressed, to treat them in a way they think dignified. But it
is equally important to accept and tolerate different standards of
courtesy, not expecting everyone else to adapt to one's own
preferences. Only then can we hope to restore the insult to its proper
social function of expressing true distaste.
-- Judith Martin, "Miss Manners' Guide to
Excruciatingly Correct Behavior"
C, n.: A programming language that is sort of like Pascal except more
like assembly except that it isn't very much like either one,
or anything else. It is either the best language available to
the art today, or it isn't.
-- Ray Simard
Das machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy
schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und corkenpoppen mit
spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopfen. Das
rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands in das pockets. Relaxen und
vatch das blinkenlights!!!
Real World, The n.:
1. In programming, those institutions at which programming may
be used in the same sentence as FORTRAN, COBOL, RPG, IBM, etc. 2. To
programmers, the location of non-programmers and activities not related
to programming. 3. A universe in which the standard dress is shirt and
tie and in which a person's working hours are defined as 9 to 5. 4.
The location of the status quo. 5. Anywhere outside a university.
"Poor fellow, he's left MIT and gone into the real world." Used
pejoratively by those not in residence there. In conversation, talking
of someone who has entered the real world is not unlike talking about a
Rattling around the back of my head is a disturbing image of something
I saw at the airport ... Now I'm remembering, those giant piles of
computer magazines right next to "People" and "Time" in the airport
store. Does it bother anyone else that half the world is being told
all of our hard-won secrets of computer technology? Remember how all
the lawyers cried foul when "How to Avoid Probate" was published? Are
they taking no-fault insurance lying down? No way! But at the current
rate it won't be long before there are stacks of the "Transactions on
Information Theory" at the A&P checkout counters. Who's going to be
impressed with us electrical engineers then? Are we, as the saying
goes, giving away the store?
-- Robert W. Lucky, IEEE President
You'd better beat it. You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a
taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a
minute and a huff.
-- Groucho Marx
If all be true that I do think,
There be Five Reasons why one should Drink;
Good friends, good wine, or being dry,
Or lest we should be by-and-by,
Or any other reason why.
Twas FORTRAN as the doloop goes
Did logzerneg the ifthen block
All kludgy were the function flows
And subroutines adhoc.
Beware the runtime-bug my friend
squrooneg, the false goto
Beware the infiniteloop
And shun the inprectoo.
Brady's First Law of Problem Solving:
When confronted by a difficult problem, you can solve it more
easily by reducing it to the question, "How would the Lone
Ranger have handled this?"
You or I must yield up his life to Ahrimanes. I would rather it were
you. I should have no hesitation in sacrificing my own life to spare
yours, but we take stock next week, and it would not be fair on the
-- J. Wellington Wells
Florence Flask was ... dressing for the opera when she turned to her
husband and screamed, "Erlenmeyer! My joules! Someone has stolen my
"Now, now, my dear," replied her husband, "keep your balance and reflux
a moment. Perhaps they're mislead."
"No, I know they're stolen," cried Florence. "I remember putting them
in my burette ... We must call a copper."
Erlenmeyer did so, and the flatfoot who turned up, one Sherlock Ohms,
said the outrage looked like the work of an arch-criminal by the name
of Lawrence Ium.
"We must be careful --- he's a free radical, ultraviolet, and
dangerous. His girlfriend is a chlorine at the Palladium. Maybe I can
catch him there." With that, he jumped on his carbon cycle in an
activated state and sped off along the reaction pathway ...
-- Daniel B. Murphy, "Precipitations"
Velilind's Laws of Experimentation:
(1) If reproducibility may be a problem, conduct the test only
(2) If a straight line fit is required, obtain only two data
How about the latest web joke:
Setup: ``What's Geo. Bush's opinion on Roe vs. Wade.''
Punchline: ``He doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.''
(2005sep after the flooding of New Orleans.)
Meanwhile there's great meteorology in
the Gulf: I'm sure the Weather Channel is there:
Chris: And here's Kathy in New Orleans with the weather outside.
Kathy: OOOooooOOOOoooooOOOOOh: thanks OOOooooOOOOOooo Chris OOoooooOOOh,
the winds are 175 mph OOOooooOOOOOOOOOOOh AAAAaaah.''
Chris: Gee, I hope Kathy hasn't gone too far with that surge water.
Charlene: No problem Chris, we've got a back-up unit on top of the
(2005sep before the flooding of New Orleans. I made this one up myself.)
``I belong to no organized political party: I am a Democrat.''
``It's no trick being a humorist when you have the whole Federal government
working for you.''
Let's just say that where a change was required, I adjusted. In every
relationship that exists, people have to seek a way to survive. If you
really care about the person, you do what's necessary, or that's the
end. For the first time, I found that I really could change, and the
qualities I most admired in myself I gave up. I stopped being loud and
bossy ... Oh, all right. I was still loud and bossy, but only behind
-- Kate Hepburn, on Tracy and Hepburn
If the colleges were better, if they really had it, you would need to
get the police at the gates to keep order in the inrushing multitude.
See in college how we thwart the natural love of learning by leaving
the natural method of teaching what each wishes to learn, and insisting
that you shall learn what you have no taste or capacity for. The
college, which should be a place of delightful labor, is made odious
and unhealthy, and the young men are tempted to frivolous amusements to
rally their jaded spirits. I would have the studies elective.
Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure
interest in knowledge. The wise instructor accomplishes this by
opening to his pupils precisely the attractions the study has for
himself. The marking is a system for schools, not for the college; for
boys, not for men; and it is an ungracious work to put on a professor.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Pope Goestheveezl was the shortest reigning pope in the history of the
Church, reigning for two hours and six minutes on 1 April 1866. The
white smoke had hardly faded into the blue of the Vatican skies before
it dawned on the assembled multitudes in St. Peter's Square that his
name had hilarious possibilities. The crowds fell about, helpless with
Half a pound of tuppenny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That's the way the chimney smokes
The square was finally cleared by armed carabineri with tears of
laughter streaming down their faces. The event set a record for
hilarious civic functions, smashing the previous record set when Baron
Hans Neizant B"ompzidaize was elected Landburgher of K"oln in 1653.
-- Mike Harding, "The Armchair Anarchist's Almanac"
William Safire's Rules for Writers:
Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never
be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Verbs have to
agree with their subjects. Proofread carefully to see if you words
out. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal
of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. A writer must
not shift your point of view. And don't start a sentence with a
conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a
sentence with.) Don't overuse exclamation marks!! Place pronouns as
close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more
words, to their antecedents. Writing carefully, dangling participles
must be avoided. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a
linking verb is. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing
metaphors. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Everyone should
be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their
writing. Always pick on the correct idiom. The adverb always follows
the verb. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek
There is no greater mistake than to call arithmetic an
exact science. There are permutations and aberrations discernible to
minds entirely noble like mine; subtle variations which ordinary
accountants fail to discover; hidden laws of number which it requires a
mind like mine to perceive. For instance, if you add a sum from the
bottom up, and then again from the top down, the result is always
-- Mrs. La Touche (19th cent.)
As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it
wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had
to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized
that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in
finding mistakes in my own programs.
-- Maurice Wilkes discovers debugging, 1949
Living on earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.
Everyone loves these delectable crustaceans, but many cooks are
squeamish about placing them into boiling water alive, which is the
only proper method of preparing them. Frankly, the easiest way to
eliminate your guilt is to establish theirs by putting them on trial
before they're cooked. The fact is, lobsters are among the most
ferocious predators on the sea floor, and you're helping reduce crime
in the reefs. Grasp the lobster behind the head, look it right in its
unmistakably guilty eyestalks and say, "Where were you on the night of
the 21st?", then flourish a picture of a scallop or a sole and shout,
"Perhaps this will refresh that crude neural apparatus you call a
memory!" The lobster will squirm noticeably. It may even take a swipe
at you with one of its claws. Incorrigible. Pop it into the pot.
Justice has been served, and shortly you and your friends will be, too.
-- "Cooking: The Art of Turning Appliances and Utensils
into Excuses and Apologies"
Harry is heavily into camping, and every year in the late fall, he
makes us all go to Assateague, which is an island on the Atlantic Ocean
famous for its wild horses. I realize that the concept of wild horses
probably stirs romantic notions in many of you, but this is because you
have never met any wild horses in person. In person, they are like
enormous hooved rats. They amble up to your camp site, and their
attitude is: "We're wild horses. We're going to eat your food, knock
down your tent and poop on your shoes. We're protected by federal law,
just like Richard Nixon."
-- Dave Barry, "Tenting Grandpa Bob"
We were young and our happiness dazzled us with its strength.
But there was also a terrible betrayal that lay within me like a Merle
Haggard song at a French restaurant. ...
I could not tell the girl about the woman of the tollway, of
her milk white BMW and her Jordache smile. There had been a fight. I
had punched her boyfriend, who fought the mechanical bulls. Everyone
told him, "You ride the bull, senor. You do not fight it." But he was
lean and tough like a bad rib-eye and he fought the bull. And then he
fought me. And when we finished there were no winners, just men doing
what men must do. ...
"Stop the car," the girl said. There was a look of terrible
sadness in her eyes. She knew about the woman of the tollway. I knew
not how. I started to speak, but she raised an arm and spoke with a
quiet and peace I will never forget.
"I do not ask for whom's the tollway belle," she said, "the
tollway belle's for thee."
The next morning our youth was a memory, and our happiness was
a lie. Life is like a bad margarita with good tequila, I thought as I
poured whiskey onto my granola and faced a new day.
-- Peter Applebome, International Imitation Hemingway
The forbidden command. Once the most honored of fortran commands,
it leaped back and forth across limitless lines, giving free rein to creativity
and personal expression, making code non-sequential, non-linear, and often
non-functional. But soon its power became feared and shunned---its very name
passed from the speech of men---textbooks gave no hint of it---only whispers
of something ancient and awesome in the shadows. But in extremis, in
despair and desperation, the arch-programmer can still reach back to the
past and wield again the renowned, the desecrated statement goto.
--- maybe me
On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only
nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter
what it does.
-- Will Rogers
(This is so true in 2006.)
Scotty: Captain, we din' can reference it!
Kirk: Analysis, Mr. Spock?
Spock: Captain, it doesn't appear in the symbol table.
Kirk: Then it's of external origin?
Kirk: Mr. Sulu, go to pass two.
Sulu: Aye aye, sir, going to pass two.
(This one goes right over my head.)
A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling
by Mark Twain
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped
to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer
be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained
would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2
might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the
same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with
"i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.
Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear
with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12
or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi
ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz
ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud
hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
Speaking of Godzilla and other things that convey horror:
With a purposeful grimace and a Mongo-like flair
He throws the spinning disk drives in the air!
And he picks up a Vax and he throws it back down
As he wades through the lab making terrible sounds!
Helpless users with projects due
Scream "My God!" as he stomps on the tape drives, too!
Oh, no! He says Unix runs too slow! Go, go, DECzilla!
Oh, yes! He's gonna bring up VMS! Go, go, DECzilla!"
* VMS is a trademark of Digital Equipment Corporation
* DECzilla is a trademark of Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of Death, Inc.
-- Curtis Jackson
From Latin "calor", meaning "heat" (as in English "calorie" or
Spanish "caliente"); and "fornia'" for "sexual intercourse" or
"fornication." Hence: Tierra de California, "the land of hot
-- Ed Moran
Dear Mister Language Person: I am curious about the expression, "Part
of this complete breakfast". The way it comes up is, my 5-year-old
will be watching TV cartoon shows in the morning, and they'll show a
commercial for a children's compressed breakfast compound such as
"Froot Loops" or "Lucky Charms", and they always show it sitting on a
table next to some actual food such as eggs, and the announcer always
says: "Part of this complete breakfast". Don't that really mean,
"Adjacent to this complete breakfast", or "On the same table as this
complete breakfast"? And couldn't they make essentially the same claim
if, instead of Froot Loops, they put a can of shaving cream there, or a
-- Dave Barry, "Tips for Writer's"
Safety Tips for the Post-Nuclear Existence
Tip #1: How to tell when you are dead.
(1) Little things start bothering you: little things like worms, bugs,
(2) Something is missing in your personal relationships.
(3) Your dog becomes overly affectionate.
(4) You have a hard time getting a waiter.
(5) Exotic birds flock around you.
(6) People ignore you at parties.
(7) You have a hard time getting up in the morning.
(8) You no longer get off on cocaine.
(Off the web.)
My love, he's mad, and my love, he's fleet,
And a wild young wood-thing bore him!
The ways are fair to his roaming feet,
And the skies are sunlit for him.
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems
As the fragrance of acacia.
My own dear love, he is all my dreams --
And I wish he were in Asia.
-- Dorothy Parker
My pen is at the bottom of a page,
Which, being finished, here the story ends;
'Tis to be wished it had been sooner done,
But stories somehow lengthen when begun.
In the 1920s a German newspaper ran a competition for the most dramatic
headline imaginable. The winning entry was
"Archduke Franz Ferdinand Found Alive: Great War 'A Mistake.' "
When you're away, I'm restless, lonely,
Wretched, bored, dejected; only
Here's the rub, my darling dear
I feel the same when you are near.
-- Samuel Hoffenstein, "When You're Away"
Many years ago in a period commonly know as Next Friday Afternoon,
there lived a King who was very Gloomy on Tuesday mornings because he
was so Sad thinking about how Unhappy he had been on Monday and how
completely Mournful he would be on Wednesday ...
-- Walt Kelly
"play the opening like a book, the middle game like a magician, and the endgame like a machine."
-- Vienese expert Rudolf Spielmann on dhess---er chess.
"The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion," Madison
wrote; he was debating whether the appointment of congressional chaplains
was compatible with the First Amendment and with the ideal of religious liberty.
"In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative," Madison acknowledged. Both pragmatic
and wise, though, Madison concluded that "as the precedent is not likely to be rescinded, the best that
can now be done may be to apply to the Constitution the maxim of the law, de minimis non curat" -- Latin
for "the law does not concern itself with trifles."
-- Jon Meacham
The radio business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where
thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.
-- Hunter S. Thompson
Woody Allen once joked that as a freshman he'd been thrown out of college for
cheating on his metaphysics final:
"I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me," he confessed.''
-- Woody Allen
You have preserved in your own lifetime, sir,
a way of life that was dead before you were born.
--Harold the butler in Elaine May's "A New Leaf" (1971)
The only thing I have to say against most modern poetry is that so much of it avoids
all verse conventions without rising to the level of decent prose.
On the French thinker Raymond Aron:
"Though the French will probably go on thinking proudly of Sartre as the Victor Hugo
of political philosophy---the most mentions, the most mistresses, the biggest funeral---Aron's name
is nowadays quite often invoked by those who believe there is an alternative to getting
everything brazenly wrong."
What I think we have here is a widow of opportunity.
The perfect is the enemy of the complete.
Every upgrade begins as a downgrade.
To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself.
---Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
In my youth I despised all authority---and I have been punished for it by being
turned into an authority myself.
--- my memory of this quote. Like a lot of folks, the big E
may have said roughly the same thing several times.
He was, in fact, like Virgil, learned enough in the vernacular
department to have an historical perspective, even an antiquarian
curiosity. He cast his time into the long-ago, because already
the long-ago had a special poetical attraction. He knew much
about the old days, and though his knowledge---of such things
as sea-burial and funeral pyre, for instance---was rich
and poetical rather than accurate with the accuracy of modern
archaeology (such as that is), one thing he knew clearly: those
days were heathen---heathen, noble, and hopeless.
---J.R.R. Tolkien, 1936, ``The Monsters and the Critics''
W.V. Quine (1908jun25--2000dec25),
``From a Logical Point of View'', p. 15
More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads.
One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction.
Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."