Mfx' world-renowned Quotations File

"A witty saying proves nothing."
-- Voltaire

Started in 1993 or thereabout, converted to HTML in 1995. New entries are added almost every week. Some of the quotes are unattributed; some are in German or other obscure languages. Most are cut&pasted from news articles and other ASCII texts that crossed my screen.

On 01.06.95, the 400-quote-threshold was crossed.

Other people's quotation files:

`The appropriate length of a name is inversely proportional to the size of its scope.'

--Mark-Jason Dominus

shouldn't it be "proportional" - larger scope, larger name????

The princicples of modularity, simplicity, or orthogonality, insofar as they contribute to overall simplicity, are an excellent means to an end; but as a substitute for simplicity they are very questionable. Since in practice they have proved to be a technically more difficult achievement than simplicity, it is foolish to accept them as primary objectives.

--C.A.R. Hoare, "Hints on programming language design", STAN-CS-73-403 --> --(AIM-224), p.7

Here is a classic example of a language feature which combines danger to the programmer with difficulty for the implementor.

--C.A.R. Hoare, "Hints on programming language design", STAN-CS-73-403 --> --(AIM-224), p.15, about "labelled END"s

The more I ponder the principles of language design, and the techniques which put them into practice, the more is my amazement and admiration of ALGOL 60. Here is a language so far ahead of its time, that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors, but also on neary all its successors.

--C.A.R. Hoare, "Hints on programming language design", STAN-CS-73-403 --> --(AIM-224), p.27 (Annotated reading list)

References are like jumps, leading wildly from one part of a data structure to another. Their introduction into high level languages has been a step backward from which we may never recover.

--C.A.R. Hoare, "Hints on programming language design", STAN-CS-73-403 --> --(AIM-224), p.20

Rob Pike says: `Data dominates. If you've chosen the right data structures and organized things well, the algorithms will almost always be self-evident. Data structures, not algorithms, are central to programming. (See Brooks p. 102.)'

[visual basic] als suffers from having to run in the awful windows environment, where the least provocation can cause one's machine to go catatonic. Interprocess communication in the Unix sense is difficult in Windows; mechanisms like DDE and OLE are complicated beyond description, and a simple notion like the pipe is nonexistent. [..] Compilers, though blessed with elaborate user interfaces, are bug-ridden and shaky.

from: brian kernighan, "experience with tcl/tk for scientific and engineering visualization"

You are in a twisty little passage of standards, all conflicting.

-- Michael Meissner,

"OSF" is the Open Software Foundation -- whose one purpose in life is creating standards

"The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them. If you don't like one, just wait for next years model."

-- Andrew Tanenbaum, "Computer Networks", somewhere in the Data Layer chapter

"The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.

--- Grace Murray Hopper, as quoted in the Unix Haters Handbook, p.10

Ah yes. Technology is introduced, utilized, depended upon, obsolete, standardized, and understood, in that order. (To paraphrase someone I can't remember.)

-- Martin Fouts,

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."

-- Ken Olson, President of DEC, World Future Society Convention, 1977

I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept, i. e., on continuous structures. In that case *nothing* remains of my entire castle in the air gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics.

-- Einstein in a 1954 letter to Besso, quoted from: "Subtle is the Lord", Abraham Pais, page 467.

"Then again, e=mc^2 may only be a local phenomenon."

-- Einstein

(another quote for which i would like to have a reliable source)

"In My Egotistical Opinion, most people's C programs should be indented six feet downward and covered with dirt."

-- Blair P. Houghton

On the never-dying subject of C program indentation

My employer doesn't even agree with me about C indentation style.

Used as a disclaimer

A formal parsing algorithm should not always be used.

-- D. Gries

A language that doesn't affect the way you think about programming is not worth knowing.

One of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs.

-- Robert Firth

``Pointers are like jumps, leading wildly from one part of the data structure to another. Their introduction into high-level languages has been a step backwards from which we may never recover''

C.A.R.Hoare ``Hints on Programming Language Design'' 1973

[This has been reprinted in several anthologies --- for example, the Prentice-Hall collection of essays and papers by Tony Hoare]

Fascinatingly, Knuth has said in an interview that pointers are the greatest concept of C. Which indicates that Hoare must be right.

German programmers tend to take it as a personal insult when a fault is detected in code that they have written.

-- Debora Weber-Wulff [comp.risks 16.94]

(only germans?)

As an appointed member of the three man committee on the long range future of COBOL, which committee was never disbanded, so I assume it still exists and which also never met, I have a few comments. These comments are made with a pure heart, since I never written a COBOL program, read a COBOL program or knowingly hired a COBOL programmer.

COBOL was intended to look like English and to be like English. Well, maybe it was only advertised as such. Fortunately, the Committee was fascinated only by fragments of the syntax of English and did not know how unsuited the semantics of English were to expressing computer programs. Programming in English is possible just as is writing differential equations in English. It is as feasible and as worth doing as making an airplane whose pilot sits on a Western saddle and controls it with reins and spurs.

I never met anyone who admitted to liking to program in COBOL.

From: jmc@SAIL.Stanford.EDU (John McCarthy)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.books
Subject: Re: bug (dictionary)
Date: 16 May 1995 06:10:19 MET

"The three principal virtues of a programmer are Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris."

-- Larry Wall <> in den Perl5-Manpages

A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author.

-- S. C. Johnson

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

At Group L, Stoffel oversees six first-rate programmers, a managerial challenge roughly comparable to herding cats.

-- The Washington Post Magazine, June 9, 1985

"Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it."

-- Donald Knuth

But in our enthusiasm, we could not resist a radical overhaul of the system, in which all of its major weaknesses have been exposed, analyzed, and replaced with new weaknesses.

-- Bruce Leverett, "Register Allocation in Optimizing Compilers"

In the long run, every program becomes rococo, and then rubble.

-- Alan Perlis

It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa.

The 9th Commandment for C Programmers (Annotated; Henry Spencer)
states thus:

IX   Thy external identifiers shall be unique in  the  first
     six characters, though this harsh discipline be irksome
     and the years of  its  necessity  stretch  before  thee
     seemingly  without end, lest thou tear thy hair out and
     go mad on that fateful day when thou desirest  to  make
     thy program run on an old system.
               Though some hasty zealots cry ``not
               so; the Millenium is come, and this
               saying is obsolete  and  no  longer
               need  be  supported'', verily there
               be many, many  ancient  systems  in
               the  world, and it is the decree of
               the dreaded  god  Murphy  that  thy
               next  employment  just  might be on
               one.  While thou sleepest, he plot-
               teth  against thee.  Awake and take
               It is, note carefully,  not  neces-
               sary  that  thy identifiers be lim-
               ited to a length of six characters.
               The  only requirement that the holy
               words place upon thee is uniqueness
               within  the  first six.  This often
               is not so hard  as  the  belittlers

Q: What is IBM's definition of a man year?

A: 720 programmers trying to finish the job before lunch.

In article <2n7p07$> (Steven K. Halliburton) writes:

But I have a slowly coagulating theory that the size of a project is directly proportional to the possibility that significant bugs will crop up. Exponentiate for each additional programmer involved.

"FORTRAN's DO statement is far scarier than GOTO ever was - nothing can match the sheer gibbering horror of the `come from' loop if the programmer didn't document it well..."

-- Mark Hughes

Stroustroup writes in the ARM: C programmers think that memory allocation is too important to be left to the computer, Lisp programmers think that memory allocation is too important to be left to the programmer.

(haven't been able to find it in a cursory reading

Without naming names (which I couldn't anyway because I've forgotten exactly who it was), one the most amusing bug reports we received at Lucid wrt Lucid Common Lisp was that "GC runs too fast". Someone had a C program they converted to Lisp and it ran twice as fast. Since they "knew" the minimum time needed to allocate and deallocate their data and we were running faster than that, they assumed we had buggy code.

Granted, it might have been rare, but it was a real example.

-- James McDonald / / <>

From the May/June'94 IEEE Institute, an article about John Backus receiving the Draper Prize for having developed Fortran:

"Another of Fortran's breakthroughs was the GOTO statement, which was a uniquely simple and understandable means of structuring and modularizing programs."

The first time I encountered setjmp() was in an Amiga program ported from Unix. "Hmm, what's setjmp()?" I said, pulling up the man page. I read the man page. "*GASP* GLARGGGPPPHHTT!!! ARGHJKLKJ#@%!^&^U!" I exclaimed, and rolled my chair over backwards as I fainted.

-- From: <>

As practiced by computer science, the study of programming is an unholy mixture of mathematics, literary criticism, and folklore.

-- B. A. Sheil, 1981

No one who has been a programmer can escape the conclusion that computers highlight our inability to communicate.

-- Mike Walsh (Infosystems, Nov 87 P. 43 ["Where the Rubber Meets the Road"])

"First learn computer science and all the theory. Next develop a programming style. Then forget all that and just hack."

-- George Carrette

<soapbox> I'm wary of managers who want to "comprehend easily" any arbitrarily complicated topic. take operating systems. managers choose Microsoft because everybody else does. take programming languages. managers choose C++ because everybody else does. take design methodologies. managers choose object-orientation because everybody else does. thusly chosen, they will lead to disaster and managers will learn that they have a made a mistake and go on to choose another mistake exactly the same way. if they succeed, it's pure accident, and never to their credit, except for hiring technically sound people who are willing to work for people who will take the credit for their work. _this_ is the software crisis, if you ask me. </soapbox>

-- erik naggum

I believe it was Andrew Koenig who commented that purists who accept no compromises in programming languages use either machine code or lambda calculus :-)

-- Kevlin A P Henney (

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do.

-- Dennis M. Ritchie

A Law of Computer Programming:
	Make it possible for programmers to write in English and you
	will find the programmers cannot write in English.

"For every complex question, there is a simple answer-- and it's wrong."

H.L. Mencken

"Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate."

-- Dave Barry

I cannot overemphasize the importance of good grammar.

What a crock. I could easily overemphasize the importance of good grammar. For example, I could say: "Bad grammar is the leading cause of slow, painful death in North America," or "Without good grammar, the United States would have lost World War II."

-- Dave Barry, "An Utterly Absurd Look at Grammar"

"What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death."

-- Dave Barry

"The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."

Oscar Wilde

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.

Oscar Wilde

> Wilde's best remark on women IMO was: "Women inspire men
>to great undertakings, and then distract us from carrying them out."

Men represent the triumph of mind over morals,
whereas women represent the triumph of matter over mind.

-- from "Dorian Gray"

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Oscar Wilde

Life is too short to be taken seriously.

-- Oscar Wilde

> For instance, the Tower of Hanoi solution below is typical of what I do. I
> don't even need to bother testing or debugging it, since I already PROVED
> it will work (under the assumption that long integers are 32 bits, that the
> parameter N (below) is <= 31, that you're compiling with an ANSI-C compiler,
> and your system has sufficient memory.).

Amazing -- a person with provably correct fingers!

From a thread on testing vs. proving.

"...Then anyone who leaves behind him a written manual, and likewise anyone who receives it, in the belief that such writing will be clear and certain, must be exceedingly simple-minded..."

-- Plato, _Phaedrus_

This quote is actually quite representative: In Phaedrus, the introduction of Writing is critically analyzed by comparison with the earlier oral tradition. Amongst other things mentioned, writing introduces a paradigm shift in teaching, as it allows "dry" learning in the absence of a live, moderating teacher.

"St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great who asked him "how he dares molest the sea." "How dare you molest the whole world?" the pirate replied: "because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an Emperor."

-- Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors.

"I have been Foolish and Deluded,
and I am a Bear of No Brain at All."

-- Pooh

"A system admin's life is a sorry one. The only advantage he has over Emergency Room doctors is that malpractice suits are rare. On the other hand, ER doctors never have to deal with patients installing new versions of their own innards!"

-- Michael O'Brien

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

[variant with author name]
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
                                           --Martin H. Fischer
[mail from]
Elizabeth Silcox, AApex Software Corporation

P.S.  These quotes come from The Great Quotation Library containing 75,000
quotes from seven unique collections.  Availlable on CD and 3 1/2" disks
for Windows.

Collaboration, n.:

A literary partnership based on the false assumption that the other fellow can spell.

Everyting should be built top-down, except the first time.

Real Time, adj.:

Here and now, as opposed to fake time, which only occurs there and then.

SCCS, the source motel! Programs check in and never check out!

-- Ken Thompson

The fact that it works is immaterial.

-- L. Ogborn

"Yacc" owes much to a most stimulating collection of users, who have goaded me beyond my inclination, and frequently beyond my ability in their endless search for "one more feature". Their irritating unwillingness to learn how to do things my way has usually led to my doing things their way; most of the time, they have been right.

-- S. C. Johnson, "Yacc guide acknowledgements"

There is no such thing as a machine-independent optimization.

(William Wulf ?)

Die Mathematiker sind eine Art Franzosen: Redet man zu ihnen, so uebersetzen sie es in ihre Sprache, und dann ist es alsobald ganz etwas anderes.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Newsgroups: comp.arch
From: (Larry Meadows)
Subject: Re: x86 multiprocessing comparison question
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1993 02:01:51 GMT
A 16-head Cray C90 with some reasonable amount of disk costs $40M
For $40M, you could buy 4000 workstations and have enough left over to
buy a really cool switch with which to hook them together.

So what would you rather have pulling your wagon, 16 oxen or 4000 chickens
with a frictionless harness?
Larry Meadows		The Portland Group

"What's taking so long? It's only typing!"

-- a marketing manager posing as a software manager

(.sig of (Robert L. McMillin))

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

-- Albert Einstein

(.sig of Andy Barnhart

Features - just say no!

(found in sig of: Andy Glew,, Intel Corp., M/S JF1-19)

If you lie to the compiler, it will get its revenge.

- Henry Spencer

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding.

(sig of Matthew Austern matt@ph

				Physics is not a religion.  If
Scott I. Chase			it were, we'd have a much easier
SICHASE@CSA2.LBL.GOV		time raising money. -Leon Lederman

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

`Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two!  One, two!  And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

`And has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day!  Calloo!  Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Or, as Dr. Pepper once wrote,

"Stoning non conformists is part of science.  Stoning conformists is
also part of science.  Only those theories that can stand up to a
merciless barrage of stones deserve consideration.  It is the
creationist habit of throwing marshmallows that we find annoying."
Tero Sand, 2 kyu		! Science is a process of enlarging one's
				! ignorance to dizzying heights.
EMail:	!	- D.C.Lindsay in	!

Rick Gordon      | "They'll nail anybody who ever scratched his ass |  during the national anthem."-- H. Bogart, on the HUAC

(HUAC = House Un-American Activities Comittee, sacht webster)

From: wayne@backbone.uucp (Wayne Schlitt)
The Average Person's Axioms of First Order Predicate Logic:
     (A => B) => (B => A)
     (There exists) x A(x) => (For all) x A(x)
     (A => C) & (B => C) => (A => B)                --Warren Vonroeschlaub

Quick!  Get me my colored pencils!  I'm having a paradigm shift.
======= Paul Callahan ======= =======

"I have the terrible feeling that, because I have a white beard and am sitting in the back of the theater, you expect me to tell you the truth about something. These are the cheap seats, not Mount Sinai."

--Orson Welles, "Someone to Love."

While clearing out my file cabinet, I uncovered the following, which struck me
as relevant to a lot of what goes on in comp.risks.  Quoted from a paper, 'The
Emperor's Old Clothes', by Charles Antony Richard Hoare, published in CACM Feb

    ...there are two ways of constructing a software design:  One way
    is to make it so simple that there are _obviously_ no deficiencies
    and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no
    _obvious_ deficiencies.

    The first method is far more difficult.  It demands the same skill,
    devotion, insight, and even inspiration as the discovery of the
    simple physical laws which underlie the complex phenomena of
    nature.  It also requires a willingness to accept objectives which
    are limited by physical, logical, and technological constraints,
    and to accept a compromise when conflicting objectives cannot be
    met.  No committee will ever do this until it is too late.

(The paper was the 1980 ACM Turing Award Lecture.  The _'s represent his

Once upon a time, when I was training to be a mathematician, a group of
us bright young students taking number theory discovered the names of
the smaller prime numbers.

2:  The Odd Prime --
        It's the only even prime, therefore is odd.  QED.
3:  The True Prime --
        Lewis Carroll: "If I tell you 3 times, it's true."
31: The Arbitrary Prime --
        Determined by unanimous unvote.  We needed an arbitrary prime
        in case the prof asked for one, and so had an election.  91
        received the most votes (well, it *looks* prime) and 3+4i the
        next most.  However, 31 was the only candidate to receive none
        at all.

Since the composite numbers are formed from primes, their qualities are
derived from those primes.  So, for instance, the number 6 is "odd but
true", while the powers of 2 are all extremely odd numbers.

: --- Zachary Kessin
: For a good Prime, call:
: 29819592777931214269172453467810429868925511217482600306406141434158089

The scientific name for an animal that doesn't either run from
or fight its enemies is lunch.
					- Michael Friedman

	"I think quotes are very dangerous things." -Kate Bush

FIRE (do-da-doo-dahh-dum)....

"A black hole is where God divides by zero."

	"Nice day," Foyle remarked.
	"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot beamed.
	"Awful day," Foyle said.
	"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot responded.
	"Day," Foyle said.
	"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot said.
	Foyle turned to the others.  "That's me," he said...
		[Bester, Stars my Destination]

In diesem Zusammenhang muss ich _unbedingt_ das Zitat hier anbringen,
mit dem ich meine Zitatensammlung (mit der ich in Form von Signatures
permanent das Netz belaestige :) begonnen habe - meine "Nummer 1",

## "... aber es gibt sehr wenig [Schatten] hier auf der
##  Tennis-Anlage von Indian Wells; da brennt der Planet
##  gnadenlos 'runter." -- Herbert Gogel, DSF, 5.3.93 21:05

Ich waer' beinahe vom Stuhl gefallen! :-)

-- Juergen Weinelt

 "All the questions had received excellently drafted answers, and the answers
 were not open to doubt because they were not the work of human thought, always
 liable to error, but were all the work of bureaucratic officialdom."
                                                                    Leo Tolstoi

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

-- Olivier

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.

-- F. P. Jones

Experience is the worst teacher. It always gives the test first and the instruction afterward.

Experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones.

Experience is what you get when you were expecting something else.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other.

-- Poor Richard's Almanac

Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.

-- John Keats

Experience is the worst teacher. It always gives the test first and the instruction afterward.

Ken Thompson has an automobile which he helped design. Unlike most automobiles, it has neither speedometer, nor gas gage, nor any of the numerous idiot lights which plague the modern driver. Rather, if the driver makes any mistake, a giant "?" lights up in the center of the dashboard. "The experienced driver", he says, "will usually know what's wrong."

-- anonymous

"We didn't send you to Washington to make intelligent decisions. We sent you to represent us."

-- Kent York, Baptist minister to US Rep. Bill Sarpalius.

Hit the philistines three times over the head with the Elisp reference manual.

-- (Michael A. Petonic)

"Implementation is the sincerest form of flattery."

-- L. Peter Deutsch

Who? Me? Grow up? Duh, I mean I'm way too old to grow up.

-- Kelly Scott (being silly)

Speaking as a recovering physics grad student, I think the situation might best be best summed up by Feynmann's own description of Dirac's book on Quantum Mechanics:

"We all quote this book, but none of us have read shit."

"as far as I know we never had an undetected error"

-- anonymous

From: chase@Think.COM (David Chase)
Newsgroups: comp.arch,comp.sys.hp.hpux
Subject: Re: The ethics of detecting errors (was Re: Why isn't hardware ...)
Date: 05 Jan 1994 17:08:24 MET
Organization: Thinking Machines Corporation, Cambridge MA, USA
Distribution: world
But cheer up -- we could be selling tobacco.  It's not like software kills people
if used as intended.

David Chase, speaking for myself
Thinking Machines Corp.

"So mutable is really the prophecised anti-Const, yes?"

-- Doug Schmidt

Never express yourself more clearly than you think.

-- N. Bohr

Maybe if you could comprehend how most people can be unconcerned about the loss of hundreds of millions of animal lives for greed you would be able to understand why some Nazis were unconcerned about the lives lost in the holocaust.

-- (Barry O'Grady)

"The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer?"

As a method of sending a missile to the higher, and even to the highest parts of the earth's atmospheric envelope, Professor Goddard's rocket is a practicable and therefore promising device. It is when one considers the multiple-charge rocket as a traveler to the moon that one begins to doubt ... for after the rocket quits our air and really starts on its journey, its flight would be neither accelerated nor maintained by the explosion of the charges it then might have left. Professor Goddard, with his "chair" in Clark College and countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to re-action, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react ... Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.

-- New York Times Editorial, 1920

(leicht divergierend:)

"That Professor Goddard with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react - to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools..."

(New York Times editorial, 1921, quoted in "A Random Walk in Science")

there are many things worth living for
there are a few things worth dying for
there are no things worth killing for
					[anyone knows where this is from?]

"Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Service 7:00pm. Barbecue 7:30. No salt necessary."

"Remember, high-tech means breaks down next week, while cutting edge means breaks down this afternoon."

-- Bruce Sterling

(You can't use assignment and claim to be a REDUCED IS Computer.)

-- Henry Baker (

IS = Instruction Set. Henry trommelt hier wieder mal für seine Linearen Typen.

"[A computer is] like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy."

-- Joseph Campbell

I suspect gravity is related to the truncation itself.

-- Paul Budnik, in a sci.physics discussion about discrete models of physics

A "quantum gravity expert" is presumably someone well acquainted with the details of our immense ignorance of the subject. I suppose I count.

-- (john baez)

"Why can't life be menu driven or at least have an 'undo' feature?"

-- David M. DeFelice - NASA Lewis Research Center - Community Relations Office

I have a flawless philosophical and scientific model of reality.Unfortunately, it's actual size. We must never be dogmatic. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Will betray country for food.

-- .sig of mathew@mantis (moderator of alt.atheism.moderated)

You are writing real-time code when you have to fight for 10 instructions

-- Raul Izahi Lopez Hernandez, C-Cube Microsystems, Milpitas, CA, U.S.A.

"Even the AI hated [my book]?"

"The AI _loved_ it. That's when we knew for sure that _people_ were going to hate it."

-- Dan Simmons, _Hyperion_

There are few situations in life that cannot be resolved promptly, and to the satisfaction of all concerned, by either suicide, a bag of gold, or thrusting a despised antagonist over a precipice on a dark night.

-- Ernest Bramah (Kai Lung stories)

Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

-- (Macbeth, Act V)

"Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea -- massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind- boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it."

-- Gene Spafford, 1992

`Do not use procedures; they are expensive'.

-- from IBM's PL/I (F) documentation, circa 1966

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice."

-- Albert Einstein

"Software is like Entropy: it's hard to grasp, weighs nothing and obeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics, i.e. it always increases"

-- Norman Augustine

"I view the landslide of C use in education as something of a calamity."

-- N. Wirth, 1993

Was soll man sonst auch von ihm erwarten?

Personally, I prefer to be called a "person of paleness" if you must refer to my "race".

-- R. Dan Henry, Dept. of Philosophy, UC Riverside,

GAY ZIONISM: Sodom for the Sodomites


" doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are -- if it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong."

-- R.P. Feynman

"It doesn't matter how beautiful your experiment is, it doesn't matter how carefully you collect your data -- if it is based upon a faulty understanding of what is being tested, it's most likely useless."

-- L.D. Hosford :-)

"To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin."

-- Cardinal Bellarmine 1615, during the trial of Galileo

I saw a quote the other day related to this subject. I forget the details or who said it, but the gist of it was:

The only person who believes a new theory is the theorist who invented it, while the only person who questions the results of an experiment is the person who performed it.

-- J. A. Carr <>

"You are, of course, correct, and I disagree completely." (Michael F. Howard)
		in a thread Subject: Re: How to pick up slangs?!
			    Newsgroup: alt.usage.english
			    Date: 10 Apr 1994 21:56:51 MET

"Now you can install your new kernel and try it out."

-- SunOS 4.1.3, config(8)

REPORTER: Mr. Gandhi, what do you think about Western Civilization?
GANDHI: I think it would be a good idea.

Fowler contends that "a dozen sentences are spoilt by ill-advised avoidance of repetition for every one that is spoilt by ill-advised repetition."

"The number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected"

-- UNIX Prg Man, 2nd ed, June 1972

Hee hee hee hee heeeeeeee! The exact quote he used was, "I'll kill you with my atomic pistol." I'm also going to keep the newpaper picture of him hurling uprooted garden plants at the protestors.

[about zhirinovski]

"Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain."

-- Lily Tomlin

"...all life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other."

-- HPL, from "The Silver Key"

"I'm sorry, if you were right, I'd agree with you."

-- Robin Williams in "Awakenings"

"An expert is a man who never makes small mistakes."

-- Tom Phipps

"Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue."

-- Winston Churchill

Atilla The Hun's Maxim: If you're going to rape, pillage and burn, be sure to do things in that order.

-- P. J. Plauger, Programming On Purpose, p147

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

-- Bertrand Russell

There were in this country two very large monopolies. The larger of the two had the following record: the Vietnam War, Watergate, double- digit inflation, fuel and energy shortages, bankrupt airlines, and the 8-cent postcard. The second was responsible for such things as the transistor, the solar cell, lasers, synthetic crystals, high fidelity stereo recording, sound motion pictures, radio astronomy, negative feedback, magnetic tape, magnetic "bubbles", electronic switching systems, microwave radio and TV relay systems, information theory, the first electrical digital computer, and the first communications satellite. Guess which one got to tell the other how to run the telephone business?

-- anonymous fortune

B can be thought of as C without types; more accurately, it is BCPL squeezed into 8K bytes of memory and filtered through Thompson's brain.

-- Dennis Ritchie

"C is quirky, flawed, and an enormous success."

-- Dennis M. Ritchie.

A sucker is born every minute.

-- Phineas T. Barnum

Definitions of "AI":
Military definition: Anything Invincible
Marketing definition: Anything Improved
Academic definition: Anything Impossible

-- .sig of David Bofinger (

"Tiger gotta hunt.  Bird gotta fly.
 Man gotta sit and wonder why, why, why.
 Tiger gotta sleep.  Bird gotta land.
 Man gotta tell himself he understand."
					              Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
(sig von Karl Hahn)

I believe it was Heinlein who pointed out that science fiction is about things for which there is some scientific evidence, such as ghosts; while fantasy is about things for which there is no scientific evidence, such as faster than light travel.

-- Dan Goodman

The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offence.

-- E.W.Dijkstra, 18th June 1975.

"For I do not believe that the stars are spread over a spherical surface at equal distances from one center; I suppose their distances from us to vary so much that some are 2 or 3 times as remote as others."

-- Galileo

> Syntactic sugar leads to cancer of the semicolon.
> -- Guy L. Steele

Actually it was Alan Perlis who said this originally.


"Not at all tricky. We do this sort of stuff every day before breakfast. Then I fly to work on my winged pig, Swilma."

-- David Chase

Answering some compiler- or OS-related question. He was then at Sun, i believe.

[another poster] cultivates an admirable elegance of expression that I'm sure will take him far on the Net. (To put it more precisely, his postings sound like my postings.)


The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, "What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?" and my answer must at once be, "It is no use." There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever.
Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it.
We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use.
So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.

--George Leigh Mallory, 1922

"Jeder klagt ueber sein Gedaechtnis, aber niemand ueber seinen Verstand."

-- sagte La Rochefoucault (wenn mich mein Gedaechtnis jetzt nicht im Stich laesst...).

"One nation under God: Iran!"

-- Jeff Lowder <>

My Teco code is already cryptographically secure, thank you! :-)

-- Henry Baker,, comp.arch, 23 May 1994

Scott I. Chase            "The question seems to be of such a character
SICHASE@CSA2.LBL.GOV      that if I should come to life after my death
                          and some mathematician were to tell me that it
                          had been definitely settled, I think I would
                          immediately drop dead again."      - Vandiver

LOAD "vmunix",8,1

-- (Sven C. Dack)

(aus der sig von From: (Kristian Koehntopp))


-- (Sven C. Dack) Bei ihm selbst gesehen.

Herman Miller               |    "For a successful technology, reality must
(     |    take precedence over public relations, for
insert disclaimer here      |    Nature cannot be fooled." - R. P. Feynman

Ah, Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence!

-- TimeBandits

"We don't have a patent on irony and satire; those tools are available for you to use in your own work."

-- Guerrilla Girls (a New York City performance group)

"Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding he sings."

-- Ed Gardner

"obviously those people needed a union or something"


about the harkonnen's employees' "heart-plugs" in the DUNE movie

: I hardly care what the pronouciation in the future might or might not
: be. It was definitely referring to a particular historical figure. *HE*
: pronounced his name something like Zheng. Historical names are usually
: pronounced with some attempt at historical accuracy except where decades
: or centuries of ignorance has intervened. *Why* would anyone in the future
: mispronounce a Chinese word using sound that does not even exist in
: Chinese?

Hmm, may I quote from the Egyptian chapter of Will Cuppy's "The Decline
and Fall of Practically Everybody"?

Menes = Aha = Ohe
Khufu = Cheops = Hwfw [sic]
Radedef = Tetf-Re = Didoufri = Ratiosis

Just a few thousand years and look at the mess!

--                               Ahasuerus the Wandering Jew
                     Robert Conquest's Second Law
 Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents

"Unix has been feverishly evolving for over 20 years, sort of like bacteria in a cesspool, only less attractive."

-- Unix for Dummies

Lloyd Zusman    	01234567 <-- The world famous Indent-o-Meter.       ^	     Indentation: the eightfold path.

"It is possible to pay another man's debts on his behalf, but it is not possible to make a guilty man innocent by suffering in his place."

-- Carl Lofmark, _What is the Bible?_

Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill-paid, the second is pleasant and highly paid.

-- Bertrand Russell

Many things do not happen as they ought. Most things do not happen at all. It is for the conscientious historian to correct these defects.

-- Herodotus

I would really like a source for this one!

"Deep" is a word like "theory" or "semantic" -- it implies all sorts of marvelous things. It's one thing to be able to say "I've got a theory", quite another to say "I've got a semantic theory", but, ah, those who can claim "I've got a deep semantic theory", they are truly blessed.

-- Randy Davis

Reisner's Rule of Conceptual Inertia:
        If you think big enough, you'll never have to do it.

Verbing weirds language.

-- Calvin (from "Calvin and Hobbes")

It's always easier to apologize than to ask permission.

-- Grace Hopper

It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.

-- (attributed to Arthur C. Clarke)

"Buy a rifle, encrypt your data, and wait for the Revolution!"

-- .sig of Travis J.I. Corcoran (

"I'll need daily status reports on why you're so behind"

-- Dilbert's boss

"Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of the pox !"
"That, my Lord, depends on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress"

-- John Wilkes to The Earl of Sandwich, Parliament, November 1763

Now that's so much of a classic I am near-ashamed to include it in here.

``How do we persuade new users that spreading fonts across the page like peanut butter across hot toast is not necessarily the route to typographic excellence?''

-- Peter Flynn

It isn't premarital sex if you have no intention of getting married.

-- (ex .sig of Matt Barry (

The caloric content of an average ejaculate is estimated to be approximately 15 calories.

-- FAQ (elf sternberg)

Some people said that emacs belongs in <sys/errno.h>: Editor too big!

-- Louis Larry <>

"When in doubt, use brute force"

-- Ken Thompson

original quote?

Indeed, "brute force" solutions are often characteristic of advanced cultures, not primitive ones. The Romans and their predecessors spent a long time figuring out how to build arches... and virtually all our buildings today use post-and-lintel construction, precisely what the arch was devised to replace. We have better materials and more money, and given that, arches are usually not worth the extra complexity.

-- Henry Spencer

"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."

-- Douglas Adams

"I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something."

-- Jackie Mason

Was it Ritchie or Thompson who said about X:

"Sometimes, when you fill a vacuum, it still sucks"?

I know many people find the question utterly uninteresting. I was struck, however, by a quotation from Herman Weyl: the belief in an infinite continuum of numbers "taxes the strength of our faith hardly less than the doctrines of the early Fathers of the Church or the Scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages." wrote:
: But my real fear is that the quality of reporting may be equally
: bad in other domains, like politics!

It does take a perverse form of optimism to have any faith in the news	
media when almost every time they cover something you _know_ about,	
they get it wrong.							
		   Maybe they're wrong that often covering subjects
in which I'm not an expert?  Naw, it just couldn't be.

Grant Edwards                                 |Yow!  I am having fun!!!

If we took the bones out, it wouldn't be crunchy, would it?

-- Monty Python

I am amazed at the things people try to connect with "if"s and "then"s.

-- Ken Arromdee (email:

Not so, just scared. Think of the poor lady who feared the metric system because she couldn't afford to have her gas tank removed from her car and replaced with one that holds liters instead of gallons.

-- Kenneth S. Manning

Erotica is what turns me on. Pornography is what turns you on.
Obscene is what turns them on.

Utterly marvellous. Where did I find it?

"In a riddle whose answer is chess, what is the only prohibited word?"
I thought a moment and replied, "The word chess".

-- Jorge Luis Borges

Faith is believing what you know ain't so.

-- Mark Twain

Faith means not _wanting_ to know the truth.

-- Nietzsche

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

-- Phillip K. Dick, 1928-1982

From a long view of the history of mankind - seen from, say, ten thousand years from now, there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell's discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this important scientific event of the same decade.

R. P. Feynman, Lectures on Physics, Vol. II, Addison-Wesley, 1964, page 1-11.

"The worst thing you can say to a true revolutionary is that his revolution is unnecessary, that the problems can be corrected without radical change. Telling people that paradise can be attained without revolution is treason of the vilest kind."

-- H.S. 1993

(what h.s.? henry spencer?)

Perl IS a psychological study.

-- Larry Wall
[Newsgroups: comp.lang.tcl,comp.lang.lisp,comp.lang.perl
Subject: Re: Unix tower of babble tcl/awk/perl -- why not just lisp?
Date: 21 Jul 1994 18:18:10 MET]

Lisp has all the visual appeal of oatmeal with fingernail clippings mixed in.

--Larry Wall in <>

"There's nothing magic about rubber wheels rolling on a runway that's gonna make it cheap to operate."

-- Mitchell Burnside Clapp.

"I don't know why everyone thinks that The Last Action Hero was such a flop. We were Number One in Zaire"

-- Arnold Schwarzenegger (on Letterman 7/20/94)

Dykstra once pointed out the *real* problem with lisp:

It's too tempting to fiddle interactively until you've made a bad design work in an ugly way, rather than use your brain.

"A Meltdown? One of those annoying buzzwords. We prefer to think of it as an unrequested fission surplus!"

-- Montegue Burns, (The Simpsons)

"This sort of reasoning is the long-delayed revenge of people who could not go to Woodstock because they had too much trig homework."

-- Stewart A. Baker, Chief Counsel for the NSA, on cryptio anarchy, Wired, June 1994

"Chaos is but unperceived order."

-- attributed to Fred Hoyle

"I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't the guts to bite people themselves."

-- August Strindberg

It's truly a shame that Knuth never really got into Lisp. His books would be _more_ readable, and TeX might actually have been a decent language.

-- Henry Baker

Then there's the apocryphal statement attributed to Alexander Haig:

"There isn't a word in the English language that can't be verbed."

Why *him*, of all people?

'Ash nazg durbatuluk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg
thrakatuluk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul!'

('One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them!')

Dilbert: "I created a computerized, interactive, multimedia training tool for the department."

Boss: "Wonderful. Make some photocopies and route them around."

real punks help little old ladies across the street because it shocks more people than if they spit on the sidewalk

haiku's inventor
must have had seven fingers
on his middle hand

"It had all the earmarks of a CIA operation; the bomb killed everybody in the room except the intended target".

-- William F. Buckley

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some savage, spectacular suicide.

-- Stanislaw Lem, "Cyberiad"

Or rather, his brilliant english translator.

[alt.usage.english, Date: 13 Aug 1994 14:59:08 MET]

It seems to be impossible to parody PC. Any suggestion, no matter how outrageous, will be taken seriously by someone out there. I'm now convinced there must be people who use "vertically challenged" (short) and "metabolically challenged" (dead) with a straight face.

Until people stop this madness, there's little hope of succeeding with sane proposals like avoiding "he" and "man" as gender-neutral terms.

--Keith Ivey <> Washington, DC

Vance Kochenderfer     | "It's not *you* that is the problem, it's all |  the other people on the net."  - Peter da Silva

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?
Spock:  Affirmative.
Kirk:   Mr. Sulu, go to pass two.
Sulu:   Aye aye, sir, going to pass two.
						-- anonymous fortune

Which is, of course, exactly how it works.

"The best way for civilians to understand military culture is to read _Starship Troopers_, _The Forever War_, and _Bill the Galactic Hero_ all at one sitting."

As Freeman Dyson (who was in operations research for the RAF during the war, and was incidentally living in London during the heyday of the V-2) put it:

At that time in London, those of us who were seriously engaged in the war were very grateful to Wernher von Braun. We knew that each V-2 cost as much to produce as a high- performance fighter airplane. We knew that the German forces on the fighting fronts were in desperate need of airplanes, and that the V-2 rockets were doing us no military damage. From our point of view, the effect of the V-2 program was almost as good as if Hitler had adopted a policy of unilateral disarmament...

Several recent languages have adopted an Intercal-like, asychronous computed COME-FROM concept. Only they refer to it with funny terms like "exception handling'.


"90% of everything is crap" -- T. Sturgeon
"111% of crap is everything" -- L. Wall

"Anyone who attempts to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin."

-- John von Neumann

"The Air Force is reacting to the EPA ban on CFC's by replacing them in the cooling systems of the intercontinental (ballistic) missiles with 2 to 10 nuclear warheads on board. If they are ever fired, it will be an environmentally friendly nuclear holocaust, not threatening the Ozone layer."

-- Access to Energy, July 1993

You know, of course, that the MIT SF society keeps a Bible in their comprehensive collection, as an anthology filed (by editor's last name) under "G".

-- (David Mix Barrington)

(I believe that nanotech could change the world within my unnatural lifetime.)

-- David M. Palmer

"Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them."

-- Steve Eley

It's not KIRK we hate (at least most of us), it's SHATNER. If Shatner played Anne Frank's father in the broadway revival, by the end, where the SS troops come in, the audience would start yelling, "HE'S IN THE ATTIC!!!" He's just bad. He's a lousy director. He's egotistical. I personally don't care how he dies, as long as he dies.

-- Urthrax Killspite

"Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs.: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father or brother was killed, wounded or reported missing in action."

-- (_Catch-22_. Heller. Col. Cathcart to the doctor's "widow.")

A man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation."

-- Stephen Crane

"The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.

-- Gustave Flaubert, 1858

"It's not denial. I'm just very selective about what I accept as reality."

-- Calvin ("Calvin and Hobbes")

I suspect people in non English-speaking  | Bill Higgins
countries consider English with the same  | Fermilab
fine sense of frustration and dread that  | Internet:
AFCers think about Microsoft Windows.     | Bitnet:   higgins@fnal

AFC = alt.folklore.computers

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them."

-- Alfred Adler

     BUM:  Say, mister, can you spare a dollar?

CRACKERS:  I can easily spare the sum you name, but it seems to me
           that most beggars would customarily suggest a more modest
           amount, such as a nickel.

     BUM:  I guess they would, at that; but I am ambitious, and mean
           to rise in my chosen calling.

				-- Horatio Alligator, "Admiral Boniface's
				   Parrot" (in _American Pie_)

Grammar is the logic of speech, even as logic is the grammar of reason.

-- Richard Chevenix Trench (1807-86)

"Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar." *

-- is often attributed to Freud, but noone can find it

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

-- Harry Warner of Warner Brothers, 1925

@A: Jackson, Andrew (1767-1845)
@Q:     It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two
    ways to spell any word.
@D: [1833]

"My ambition is handicapped by laziness."

-- Bukowskis Alter Ego Henry Chinaski in "Factotum"

[As long as we're in the pop-rock genre, how about this lovely comment
 on Boy George :]
	Just what England needs, another queen who can't dress
						-Joan Rivers

	Time is that great gift of nature which keeps everything
	from happening at once.

@A: Overbeck, C. J.
@R: Inserted as space-filler by the editors of _American Journal of
Physics_, vol. 46, #4 (April 1978), p. 323; no source cited.  These
days the space-filler quotes come with sources, so perhaps they used
to have the same reliable provenance, only not stated.
@%: The quotation is frequently attributed to others, including John
Archibald Wheeler.

[analogy with cicero deleted: analogies are like instant coffee]

-- Peter da Silva

"Television is a medium because it is neither rare nor well done."

-- Fred Friendly, former head of CBS News

That's what I love about GUIs:
They make simple tasks easier, and complex tasks impossible.

-- John William Chambless, <39v25i$>

@A: Marx, Karl
@Q:	Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and
	personages appear, so to speak, twice.  He forgot to add: the
	first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
@R: _The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon_ (1852), pt. 1, tr. Saul K. Padover.

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts, perhaps the fear of a loss of power.

--- John Steinbeck

Everything is easy as long as you are not the schmuck who has to implement it.

--- "Ronald F. Guilmette" <>

"Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States.
Ask any Indian. "

--- Robert Orben

Liberal Christian:
	One who likes Jesus' words and doesn't care who said them.

Conservative Christian:
	One who cares deeply who Jesus is and ignores his words.

@Q:     ``Pathetic,'' he said.  ``That's what it is.  Pathetic.''
@A: Milne, A. A. (1882-1956) *
@R: _Winnie-the Pooh_ (1926) ch. 6

"sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contect us."

-- Calvin

Avoid overly pretentious job titles such as "Lord of the Realm, Defender of the Faith, Emporer of Siberia" or "Director of Corporate Planning".

-- The Official MBA Handbook on business cards

@A: Hubbard, L. Ron (1911-1986) *
@Q:     If you really want to make a million . . . the quickest way is to
    start your own religion.
@D: [1947] Speech to the Eastern Science Fiction association at Newark, New
@R: in B. Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard Jr. _L. Ron Hubbard_ (1987) ch. 3
@%: Ronald Edward DeWolf, formerly L. Ron Hubbard Jr., has now dissociated
    himself from this book and this quotation.

"Toilet paper is a soft ware. What percentage of it are you reusing?"

-- Len Cool, "A Bulwark Against Buzzwords"

@A: Dorothy Parker
@Q: Too fucking busy, and vice versa.
@R: Reply to her editor who was bugging her for her belated work while
    she was on her honeymoon

Homosexuality is god's way of insuring that the truly gifted aren't burdened with children.

-- Sam Austin

"There are three kinds of death in this world. There's heart death, there's brain death, and there's being off the network."

-- Guy Almes

The summation symbol looks like a distorted pacman.

-- Graham, Knuth and Patashnik, ``Concrete Mathematics'', (p. 23)

The ultimate goal of mathematics is to eliminate all need for intelligent thought.

-- Graham, Knuth and Patashnik, ``Concrete Mathematics'', (p. 56)

(Markus, are you *sure* you are not a crypto-conceptualist ready to burst out of the closet? :-)

-- Mike Arnautov, <3b2k4s$>

"Television has changed the American child from in irresistable force into an immovable object."

-- Laurence J. Peter

"Ist es eine Leitungsstörung? Ist es ein Coredump? Nein, es ist"

-- Kristian Köhntopp

It is very difficult to compare an apple.

-- Michael Feldman, <3bfn7t$>

(It is very difficult to compare an apple; students need a frame of reference. They get this only by seeing several apples, or even some apples and some oranges.

What I find most unsettling about the movement to teach C (or C++) in the first year is _precisely_ that C/C++ is "needed in later years". Wait a minute: if this is so, where will the students get the other apples and oranges? Two weeks of a language in a comparative-languages course is _not_ enough.)

[about "battlefield earth, by ElRon]

But apart from all the normal criticisms (which are fully justified, IMHO), about ludicrous plot, 2-d characterisation, ham-fisted style, etc. what sticks in my mind most about this book is actually in reference to something LRH said in the foreword. I can't quote as I no longer have a copy but roughly what he said was that he wanted to write SF based on real science.

This was said about a book in the which the main numbering system was Base 11 because the adversaries had 5 digits on one hand and 6 on the other! ( Come on down, Charles Darwin, your time is up ), the protagonist disabled a spaceship because he understood how to loosen screws evenly, but my personal favourite is; the adverseries had...( fanfare please) A different Periodic Table of Elements!

I only surprised that he didn't mention phlogiston as being the power source for "SPACE ROCKETS".

--- Donal Buckley, <>

"I just posted from, and BOY ARE MY ARMS TIRED!!"

- Rolf Wilson, in alt.folklore.computers

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway."

-- Andrew S. Tanenbaum, _Computer_Networks_, Second Edition, p. 57

"Just as you should not underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon traveling 65 mph filled with 8mm tapes, you should not overestimate the bandwidth of FTP by mail."

-- Mark Fisher

>I blew up a capacitor in a printer once via software!)

Great example of the power of undefined behavior! :-)

-- Wayne Berke, <3c50cb$>

"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments--there are consequences."

--- Robert G. Ingersoll

MS-DOS is the worst text adventure game I have ever played: poor vocabulary, weak parser and a boring storyline.

-- (Ignatios Souvatzis)

"beware of the panacea peddlers: just because you wind up naked doesn't make you an emperor."

-- Michael A Padlipsky

Heinlein, we've noted, has roughly four main characters (for anyone who might have missed it, they are: The crusty old man, who is Heinlein; the competent young man, who is a young Heinlein; the matronly middle-aged but still simmeringly sexy woman, who is Heinlein with tits; and the nubile competent young woman, who is young Heinlein with tits....

-- (SubGenius), <3coge3$>

Dave Cutler's comment on the WNT=VMS+1: "It took you this long to notice?"

-- Peter da Silva

"In May, was decided that a [Common Business Language] should be developed and that three committees (short-range, intermediate-range, and long-range) were needed.

It was the short-range group that developed COmmon Business Oritented Language (COBOL), which was meant to be only an interim language."

-- Gurer, Denise W., Pioneering Women in Computer Science Communications of the ACM 38(1):52, Jan. 1995

34% of those who voted Republican in the last election believe Forrest Gump is a documentary.

-- TV Nation Poll

"I'm a born-again atheist."

-Gore Vidal

"An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support."

-- John Buchan, Lord Tweedmuir

I was told that the Chinese said that they would would bury me by the Western lake and build a shrine to my memory. I have some slight regret that this did not happen, as I might have become a god, which would have been very _chic_ for an atheist.

-- Bertrand Russell, Autobiography

Lambskin condoms are made of the intestinal lining of sheep. They were invented in Scotland, I believe, and were invented primarily to prevent the transmission of disease first-- their application as birth control came later.

Lambskin condoms, therefore, are a socially-approved form of disectionist necrophile bestiality. Cool, huh?

-- Elf !!!

Biblical foundation of TANSTAAFL: 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 ("he who does not work shall not eat")

"One Disk to rule them all,
One Disk to Find them.
One Disk to hold the Files
and in the Darkness grind them."

[explains pogo joke]

In a message announcing victory in the naval battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, Oliver Hazard Perry informed the American land armies, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours."

In one of the earliest expressions of ecological concern, Walt Kelley's cartoon characters stood in their polluted swampland home, where Pogo sadly informed his companions, "We have met the enemy, and they are us."

"Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time - I think I've forgotten this before."

-- Stephen Wright

Uebrigens, ich bin der festen Ueberzeugung, dass fuer jeden Zeugen Jehovas oder sonstigen abgedrehten Jesusfreak, der in einer Newsgruppe auftaucht, zwei neue Hardcore-Atheisten entstehen. Dieser Gedanke spendet mir mehr Trost als es je eine Religion zu tun vermag.

-- Burkhard Reike

"Cutting the space budget really restores my faith in humanity. It eliminates dreams, goals, and ideals and lets us get straight to the business of hate, debauchery, and self-annihilation."

-- Johnny Hart

large, demanding applications are routinely being built in Lisp, and they just work. miniscule undertakings in the C++ world are foreshadowed by reams of articles in the popular press, and later hailed as successes of the language, despite regular delays and losses, when the reality is that any successes are restricted to marketing techniques.

-- erik naggum, <>, comp.text.sml

if you evaluate C++, you still get C, but C gets bigger

-- erik naggum

[about the usenet as elephant horde metaphor]
It was Gene Spafford.  I have it (he posted it himself) as:

<> In closing, I'd like to repost my 3 axioms of Usenet.
<> I originally posted these in 1987 and 1988.  In my opinion
<> as a semi-pro curmudgeon, I think they've aged well:
<> Axiom #1:
<>   "The Usenet is not the real world.  The Usenet usually
<>   does not even  resemble the real world."
<> Corollary #1:
<>   "Attempts to change the real world by altering the
<>   structure of the Usenet is an attempt to work sympathetic
<>   magic -- electronic voodoo."
<> Corollary #2:
<>   "Arguing about the significance of newsgroup names and
<>   their  relation to the way people really think is equivalent
<>   to arguing  whether it is better to read tea leaves or
<>   chicken entrails to divine the future."
<> Axiom #2:
<>  "Ability to type on a computer terminal is no guarantee of
<>  sanity, intelligence, or common sense."
<> Corollary #3:
<>   "An infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of
<>   keyboards  could produce something like Usenet."
<> Corollary #4:
<>   "They could do a better job of it."
<> Axiom #3:
<>   "Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap) applies to
<>   Usenet."
<> Corollary #5:
<>   "In an unmoderated newsgroup, no one can agree on what
<>   constitutes the 10%."
<> Corollary #6:
<>   "Nothing guarantees that the 10% isn't crap, too."
<> Which of course ties in to the recent (1992):
<>   "Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with
<>   diarrhea -- massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring,
<>   entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of
<>   excrement when you least expect it."
<> -- Gene Spafford

Life: a sexually transmitted disease that is fatal.

@A: car, Emilio Segre's
@Q:	My owner has a Nobel Prize.
@R: Recorded in _Los Alamos Primer_.
@%: Prize was for Pu work done at Berkeley.

Calvin: You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet.
        You have to be in the right mood.
Hobbs:  What mood is that?
Calvin: Last-minute panic.

It's is not, it isn't ain't, and it's it's, not its, if you mean it is. If you don't, it's its. Then too, it's hers. It isn't her's. It isn't our's either. It's ours, and likewise yours and theirs.

-- Oxford University Press, Edpress News

Ich kann mit der Quelle nichts anfangen

Still, read as a parody, it is hilarious :)

-- Ahasuerus, on the one Gor book he read (to 30%)

>'In five year's time the penis will be redundant.'

_Steel Beach_ deserves the Sir Winston Churchill Award for frequently misquoted lines. (You remember Churchill's "blood, sweat, and tears" speech? The phrase was actually "blood, toil, tears, and sweat".)

The first line of _Steel Beach_ is to the effect of "'In five years' time, the penis will be obsolete', the salesman said". It's crucial to the first few pages that it's a PR schmuck trying to sell an idea that's been sold before.

Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.

-- Ronald Reagan

(anyone having a reliable source for the this?)

"Football players, like prostitutes, are in the business of ruining their bodies for the pleasure of strangers."

-- Merle Kessler

"Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization."

-- Jon Bentley

`` Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had the brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace. And what did they produce? The cuckoo-clock.''

-- Orson Wells to Joseph Cotton in the movie "the third man"

This is referred to in "the problem of excess genius", an article in the first and only issue of the straw dogs group's autodidacts journal

" 'All you need is love'? Yeah? Try payin' the fuckin' rent with it."

--Keith Richards

"How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

-- Ronald Reagan, Arlington, Virginia, September 25, 1987

s/communist/c++ expert/g
s/anti-communist/c++ hater/g
s/marx and lenin/ARM/g

Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.

-- Charlotte Whitton

"Shai-hulud is a good garbage collector [..]"

-- F. Herbert (Children of Dune)

Back in the 1979 I was looking at one of the sleezier SF movie magazines in Uncle Hugo's SF Book Store in Minneapolis when I came across a particularly bad typo. The magazine had a list of current bestsellers which must have been delivered to the magazine's editor by phone because one of the books listed was *Tighten* by John Varley.

--- Mike Levy <>

@A: Churchill, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965)
@Q:	The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings.
	The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.

@A: Tocqueville, Alexis de (1805-1859)
@Q:	There exists in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which
	impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level,
	and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with

Specification documents for the 747:  1            |       Henry Spencer
Ditto for Air Force One (a 747):  14000            |

Question. Whch country has the greatest number of English speakers?
Answer. China.
Fact. More people in the world can speak english than any other language.
Problem. Nobody can understand most of them.

-- (Julian Bond)

Publishers are so conservative, I'm surprised they don't still use scribes writing on wet clay slabs.

-- David Brin

"Yakko, is our use of falling anvils going to be a bit excessive?"

-- Dot Warner

"Too much of a good thing is WONDERFUL."

-- Mae West

I remember hearing precisely analogous complaint from the Oral Traditionalists when the Book People were trying to get their toe in the door.

-- Philomath

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.

-- Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism

"In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays

"An assertion is Zen only when it is itself an act and does not refer to anything that is asserted in it."

-- (from Bruce Lee's book, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do)

"Words are cheap and vitriol flows like water down the crumbling, mossy mountainsides of prose. Megabytes of gibberish grind forth like glaciers from the keyboards of the thirty million guinea pigs participating in the largest clinical trial ever: the testing of a new reality completely devoid of common sense."

--- Charlie Stross, commenting on the Usenet

No matter how great your triumphs or how tragic your defeats, approximately one billion chinese could not care less.

-- "lazlo's axiom of chinese relativity"

"True. When your hammer is C++, everything begins to look like a thumb."

-- Steve Haflich, in comp.lang.c++

"Kook groups belong in alt.*, where they can fester in their own slime..."

--- Joel Furr, in news.groups

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."

-- from the .sig of Andrew C. Plotkin <>

"You are a true believer. Blessings of the State; blessings of the masses. Thou art a subject of the Divine, created in the image of Man, by the masses, for the masses. Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And be happy."

--- Confession booth blessing, _THX-1138_

Ach nein, ich kann kein Schaecher sein, da muesst ich wilder, frecher sein,
wahrscheinlich auch viel boeser.
Und weil ich lau und feige bin, nicht Bratsche und nicht Geige bin,
langt's nicht mal zum Erloeser.

--- R. Gernhardt

Zur Abwechslung ein wenig Kultur

I would rather say Eco is Bill Gates of medievalistics.

-- (Michael Kagalenko)

Today's solutions are tomorrow's problems.

-- Bruce Sterling at the American Center for Design ``Living Surfaces'' Conference, San Francisco, October 1994

[..] nothing banned in Singapore can be all bad.

-- Cosma R. Shalizi, on The Economist

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total oblivion. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me and turn my inner eye to follow its path. When the fear is gone, only I will remain.

--The Litany Against Fear (Frank Herbert, -Dune-, 1965)

I must not have fun. Fun is the time-killer. Fun is for inferiors, servants and the help. I will ignore fun. I will work through it. And when the fun is gone only I will remain--I, and my will to win. Damn, I'm good.

--The Litany Against Fun (-Doon- ,Harvard Lampoon)

"Tuez-les tous; Dieu reconnai^tra les siens."

(More literally, this is "Kill them all; God will recognize his own.")

A writer of the time records that it was said by Amalric Arnaud, during the seige of Be'ziers (1209 AD), addressing soldiers who asked him how to tell the difference between the heretics and the orthodox Catholics.

It was the chains of communication, not the means of product- ion, that determined a social process; Marx had been wrong, lack- ing cybernetics to enlighten him. Marx was like the engineers of his time, who thought of electricity in terms of work done, before Marconi thought of it in terms of information transmitted.

--R. Shea and R. A. Wilson, _The Golden Apple_

[``Nothing signed "THE MGT." would ever be challenged; the Midget could always pass himself off as the Management.'']

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oölitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

- Mark Twain, _Life on the Mississippi_, 1874
in Darrell Huff, _How to Lie with Statistics_, 1954.

@A: Wigner, Eugene P. (1902-1995)
@Q:	The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics
    for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift
    which we neither understand nor deserve.  We should be grateful
    for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and
    that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure even
    though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
@R: Pg. 14 of ``The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the
Natural Sciences,'' _Comm. Pure Appl. Math._ v.13 pp. 1-14 (1960).

@A: Wigner, Eugene P. (1902-1995)
@R:	There is no natural phenomenon that is comparable with the sudden
    and apparently accidentally timed development of science, except
    perhaps the condensation of a super-saturated gas or the explosion of
    some unpredictable explosives.  Will the fate of science show some
    similarity to one of these phenomena?.
@R: In an essay ``The Limits of Science'' intended to estimate them,
originally in Procs. of the _Amer. Philosophical Soc._ v. 94, #5 (1950).

Ahasuerus, most assuredly not a science fiction fan

-- (Ahasuerus the Wandering Jew)

"$HOME is where your dotfiles are"

- Gym Quirk

One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

-- Bertrand Russell

The links will be changed every so often.

-- <a href=""></a>Narciso Jaramillo

.sigs are the bumper stickers of the information superhighway.

If it can't be understood, it's not finished yet.

-- Paul Herbig

No, no, you're not thinking, you're just being logical.

-- Neils Bohr

Mediocrity requires aloofness to preserve its dignity.

-- Charles G. Dawes

"Nimmer Etwas auf den Stromschnur liegen zu gestatten. Nimmer diesen Monitor legen, wo der Schnur von Personen darauf spazierengehen grausam behandelt wird."

-- Anleitung eines koreanischen Monitors

If I did have children, I'd much rather explain the red light district of Amsterdam or the delights of Tijuana than Natural Born Killers or Rambo.

-- Jim Segrave (, providing a bit of sanity in one of those endless censure-the-net flame wars

As someone else said in the net, C++ has created a good market for *medical* books. (He was calling C++ an illness). In a matter of days you get more and more people write *just another cure-book* about C++ with names like "Effective C++", "Practical C++", "Safe C++".

--- (Burak Bayramli)

I have to post. Buddha insists on a warm computer.

-- Keith "Justified And Ancient" Cochran

What garlic is to food, insanity is to art.

-- anon. fortune (revealed to me on 7.3.95)

And, of course, the word "politics" is derived from "POLY", meaning many, and "TICS", meaning small, blood sucking insects.

--- Chris Clayton,

"Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to take out."

-- Antoine St Exupery (spelling?)

"The complex-type shall be a simple-type."

-- ISO 10206:1991 (Extended Pascal)

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,..."

-- opening line of Charles Dickens, _A Tale of Two Cities_

(und ich dachte immer, nie rauskriegen zu koennen, wo das her war)

There is no reason why getting published should be taken as an index of anything. Soon everyone will be able to publish anything he wants and summon readers from the vasty deep. But will they come when he summons them?

-- John McCarthy, <JMC.95Mar6104603@SAIL.Stanford.EDU>

"You are caught in a maze of twisty little Sendmail rules, all obscure."

-- _Sendmail: Theory and Practice_, Avolio and Vixie

Everybody raise your hand who thinks Usenet would benefit from a month or two in padded room.

-- (Michael Handler)

Actually, Posix requires that leap seconds be ignored; see IEEE Std 1003.1b-1993 section (page 22 lines 448-458). There is some excellent doublespeak attempting to justify this in the annexes; my favorite is ``it is inappropriate to require that a time represented as seconds since the Epoch precisely represent the number of seconds between the referenced time and the Epoch'' (section B.2.2.2 page 306 lines 620-622).

--- (Paul Eggert)

Q:	I think my PC is broken.
A:	Really? How can you tell?
	-- sig of Volker Herminghaus-Shirai (

Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.

-- George Bernard Shaw

"The ratio of literacy to illiteracy is constant, but nowadays the illiterates can read and write."

-- Alberto Moravia

"Larry Wall should be shot. Along with Bill Joy and Eric Allman."

-- Daniel Finster, comp.lang.lisp

"Why, just because you guys frittered away a 20-year headstart?"

-- Larry Wall, comp.lang.perl

I generally regard flipping through `popular' publications on technical subjects in the same category as consulting the faqs for various newsgroups or reading most annotated bibliographies. Or perhaps in the same vein as pornography; nobody (well, nobody worth mentioning, anyway) seriously thinks that that's the way things actually work, but some can take consolation in it when the real thing is in abscence or is inconvienient.

-- SubG

Monty Python had a great skit on this. I recall them treating Thomas Hardy's start of a new novel as a sports event. As soon as the first word "the" comes out, the commentators start quoting statistics about how often Hardy began a novel with "the", and how this isn't really a surprise, and all that. And when Hardy suddenly types away furiously, and misspells a word, _and keeps on going_, the fans go absolutely wild.

-- Matthew P Wiener (

Where's the Rheinheitsgoben when you need it?


The tarring of any engineering project with the epithet `simple' is more often than not the result of the feeling of confidence that springs from inadequate comprehension of the situation.

-- SubG

Should 'anal retentive' have a hyphen?

-- unidentified passing t-shirt

Only one woman ever becomes a Lensman. Sort of like smurfs.

-- Dani Zweig, Belated Review 11

There is a difference between eating a varied diet and chowing down on a cup of lard and sugar once a day. Programmers know this instinctively: they balance their daily menu among the four major food groups: caffeine, sugar, grease, and salt.

-- From John Walker's The Hacker's Diet

The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.

-- Richard W. Hamming, 1962

From: (Ralph Babel)
Newsgroups: de.etc.sprache.deutsch
Peter Kittel schrieb:
> das offizielle Woerterbuch von IBM kennt nur "edieren".
> Die offizielle Sprachregelung von Commodore hat sich dem
> angeschlossen

Und wie es Commodore ergangen ist, ist hinlänglich bekannt.

WWW is the MS-DOS of hypertext systems...

-- Erik Naggum

A Sept 13 1987 Boston Globe story indicated polls show almost half of Americans think the phrase 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need' comes from the US Constitution.

(source: Chomsky's Necessary Illusions)

I always thought a tasteless condom would be, like, one with a picture of the Pope on it or something.

-- (Jim Sizemore)

a typical 432 call takes 982 cycles plus 40 memory accesses, making it about ten times slower than even the infamous VAX CALLS

Oh, you're too kind. Cyberpunk is not merely a sewer; it is a fetid bog, fen, and mire, a compost of urSchleim and cadaverine--a menace, in short, to the literary traveler, who might sink into its foul-smelling depths and suffocate in its horrifying slime.

-- (Tom Maddox)

(meant as a joke, but still funny)

"And with so many pages sprouting every day, there is a desperate striving for uniqueness, which has resulted in some of the stupidest uses of cutting edge technology ever seen."

-- Ashley Dunn of the NY Times, writing about the World Wide Web.

PATRIOTISM A great British writer once said that if he had to choose between betraying his country and betraying a friend he hoped he would have the decency to betray his country.

-- The Hipcrime Vocab by Chad C. Mulligan

Anyone in this room who doesn't know the source?

"I doubt you can find a group that has never been killed in large numbers."

-- Peter Seebach, alt.folklore.computers

"System Administrators. And it is a real shame, BTW."

-- Marat Fayzullin, alt.folklore.computers

"Kernels should stay kernels."

sufficiently advanced political correctness is indistinguishable from sarcasm

-- Erik Naggum

I have been told that _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_ was required reading at the Xerox PARC lab where OOP was invented, but this may be merely an urban legend.

-- (Bryce Wilcox)

Save the Earth - kill a lawyer

- anonymous

We must wrestle with time for some seven decades, and he is a weak and puny antagonist in the first three bouts.

-- "Carcassonne", Lord Dunsany

(This feature enables rc to export functions using here documents into the environment; the author does not expect users to find this feature useful.)

-- from the rc(1) man page

Never check for an error condition you don't know how to handle.

-- anonymous (Henry Spencer?)

:   But how do you feel about COBOL?

Isn't that from the Old Testament?  Do we have to wear a yarmulke when we
write in it?

-- typical exchange from alt.religion.computers

NETSCAPISM /net-'sca-,pi-z*m/ n (1995): habitual diversion of the mind to
    purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from the
    realization that the Internet was built by and for someone else.

-- Erik Naggum

HTML has followed nature's example... bright, sometimes flashing, colors are a sign of indigestiblility.

-- Rob Hartill <>

There's one born again every minute ;-)

-- (Jeff)

"People can and will do things that no one could possibly believe anyone would do. For examples look at most of human history or the* hierarchy."

-- Ken Boucher on human stupidity in sci.nanotech


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech; Night after night, they display knowledge."

Psalm 19:1,2 (NIV)

"... If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven ..."

St. Augustine

(Combined, these two quotes give a nice comment on "young-earth" and "creation science" theories)

If in the last few years you haven't discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.

-- Gelet Burgess

"What matters to me is the -writing-, the act of manufacturing the novel, because while I am doing it, I am in that world I'm writing about. It is real to me, completely and utterly. Then, when I'm finished, and have to stop, withdraw from that world -forver-, that destroys me... Don't write for a living; sell shoelaces. Don't let it happen to you."

-- Philip K. Dick, from Notes Made Late at Night by a Weary SF Writer

I hated GREYSTOKE. All it did was replace Tarzan-as-idiot with Tarzan-as-wimp. The Tarzan of the books speaks a dozen languages and two dozen dialects, sits in the House of Lords, has a weakness for absynthe, cigarettesm, and High Priestesses of the Flaming God, and was, by the 6th book in the series, a grandfather.

-- Mike Resnick

"Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms ... but a *dying* culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Loss of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot."

-- Friday's boss

- "You don't like the Goths?"
-  "No! Not with the persecution we have to put up with!"
-  "Persecution?"
-  "Religious persecution. We wont stand for it forever."
-  "I thought the Goths let everybody worship as they pleased."
-  "That's  just  it!  We Orthodox are forced to stand around and
   watch Arians  and Monophysites  and Nestorians  and Jews going
   about  their  business  unmolested,   as  if  they  owned  the
   country. If that isn't persecution, I'd like to know what is!"
                -- Martin Padway and stranger in bar in
                         "Lest Darkness Fall"

"And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance ? Let them take arms ... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to William S. Smith, 1787, in Jefferson, On Democracy 20, S. Padover, ed., 1939).

(mainly included for the detailed source)

(data on the empire state building crash) The plane that hit the Empire State Bldg was a B-25 Mitchell bomber. It was lost in fog and hit the building. Basically, it hit a Catholic charities office and dropped a load of flaming gas down an elevator shaft. Quite a mess. You can still see the patched spot on the exterior of the bldg. It's on the 79th floor on the north side of the building. The crash killed 13 people--3 in the plane and 10 in the building. The pilot's name was William Smith.

"I made my fortune the old fashioned way....I inherited it!"

-- Malcom Forbes

I have a friend who says the militia have one black helicopter that they fly their one black member around it, simultaneously scaring themselves and proving they aren't racist.

-- Kaa Byington

"What experience and history teach is this--that people and government never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it."

-- Hegel

"Paradise is exactly like where you are right now .... Only much, much better"

-- Laurie Anderson

It is very common to give natural language words technical meanings.

-- John McCarthy, <JMC.95May26142316@SAIL.Stanford.EDU>

As Lord Peter used to say,
"Everything suffers from the defects of its qualities."

Dorothy J. Heydt

"Life starts at '030, fun starts at '040, impotence starts at '86"

(yes i know its silly)

In an essay about programming, Ellen Ullman tells a great anecdote about a programmer who was so socially inept that they could only communicate with him via email, even they all shared the same office. She also writes:

"Pretty graphical interfaces are commonly called user-friendly. But they are not really your friends. Underlying every user-friendly interface is terrific contempt for the humans who will use it. build a crash-proof system, the designer must be able to imagine--and disallow--the dumbest action possible. He or she has to think of every single stupid thing a human being could do. Gradually, over months and years, the designer's mind creates a construct of the user as an imbecile. This image is necessary. No crash-proof system can be built unless it is made for an idiot."

"Architecture is Politics."

-- Mitch Kapor

People are flexible enough to make any theory look good for a while.

-- Jaron Lanier, in his Karma Vertigo essay

My devil's dictionary definition for an Intelligent Agent is a query program with a user interface that is so obscure that you must anthropomorphize it in order to account for its behavior.

-- Jaron Lanier, in his Karma Vertigo essay

(One can extend this quip to any kind of AI... indeed, even to non-A I, if you replace "user interface" with the more general term "behaviour" ;-)

(I've always thought of these die-hard libertarians as people who haven't yet figured out that the government is just another natural resource to be exploited) (David Zink)

Every time i see the LaTeX message "Labels may have changed", i silently complete it with "... but not the fact that I am right".

"Read the OSI protocol specifications? I can't even *lift* them!"


Someone once calculated that with all the addressing modes the longest instruction was 104 words.

-- Peter da Silva, on the TRON architecture

VAXORCIST: Everything looks okay to me.

SYSMGR: Maybe it's hibernating.

VAXORCIST: Unlikely. It's probably trying to lure us into a false sense of security.

SYSMGR: Sounds like VMS alright. (VAXORCIST gives him a dirty look)

-- from The Vaxorcist , (C) 1991 by Christopher Russell (

When asked *why* he was dragging a lobster through the the Bois de Boulogne on a length of pink(?) ribbon, Nerval replied "it does not bark and it knows the secrets of the sea." The same goes for a good cat except that, I fancy, it knows everything.

Jane Skinner (

The "abort()" function is now called "choice()."

from the "Politically Correct UNIX System VI Release notes"

C++ is the only current language making COBOL look good.

--Bertrand Meyer

C++ is to C as Lung Cancer is to Lung

-- .sig of Thomas Funke (

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

-- Juliet, from: Romeo and Juliet, act 2, scene 2

Variant reading: ... By any other word would smell as sweet

"Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen."

-- "Creatures of Light and Darkness", Roger Zelazny (1937-14.6.1995)

"Entities should not be multiplied without necessity." aka "Entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate." aka "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem."

while attributed to William Occam, this sentence cannot be found in his extant writing. See Lewis Jones' article A Close Shave from the Past for details. The idea was well-known at the time: ``Robert Grosseteste, a chancellor of William's own university (Oxford) had written: "That is better and more valuable which requires fewer, other circumstance being equal; which necessitates the answering of a smaller number of questions for a perfect demonstration.... As Aristotle says in Book V of the Physics, "Nature operates in the shortest way possible."''

"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."

-- Susan Ertz, quoted in Larry Dossey's Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine (Harper, 1993)

"He's dead, Jim!" "No he's not, he's only sleeping!"

-- .sig of John Sichel

"It was a <die roll>...lightless and <die roll>...rainy night."

-- Anthony Spataro (

"Treason doth never prosper, and what's the reason? For if it prosper none dare call it treason."

(Read this a hundred times. Where from? Shakespeare? Heinlein? ;-)

the Bohemian Illiterati

If you have been to Moscow during Soviet times, you will probably remember paying almost nothing to be ignored by a waiter in a restaurant. Now you pay a fortune to be ignored by ten waiters.

-- Ken Thompson

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents -- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

-- Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, _Paul Clifford_, 1830 [opening sentence]

"Usenet is essentially Letters to the Editor without the editor. Editors don't appreciate this, for some reason."

-- Larry Wall

"The Wittenberg church door was Usenet for Luther's community."

-- Nick Arnett <>

Contrary to popular belief, the world is not ASCII.

-- from the xemacs 19.12 documentation on define-key

"I always write them as well as I can. But sometimes I just don't have the sacred fire to enflame my talent into, you know, a level of genius and what I wind up is some turkey like _Zap Gun_ ... the first half is totally unreadable, I don't know where or what ... I can hardly reconstruct the thinking that underlay the first half of that book. Just totally unintelligible".

-- Philip K. Dick, April 1981

I did like seeing all the EDA vendors and customers there, but thought it odd that at a conference which is 95% male, they had a band playing slow dance music. Then I remembered: "Oh, yea! That's right. We're in San Francisco!"

-- John Cooley ( about DAC'95

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read.

-- Groucho Marx

"When I first called on him, in the winter on 1957-8, in a house still pockmarked with shellbursts and grenade splinters, I stood speechless before the armada of his printed works, as it crowded the bookshelves. Lukacs seized on my puerile wonder and blazed out of his chair in a motion at once vulnerable and amused: `You want to know how one gets work done? It's easy. House arrest, Steiner, house arrest!'"

-- taken from a review article in the Times Literary Supplement printed on January 22, 1982, by George Steiner, on the life and work of Hungarian radical Georg Lukacs

"I don't like your I-can-use-anything-as-an-adjective attitude."

-- Larry Wall

Used in a .sig of Paul Phillips

The secret to success as a short story writer is to find the guy who built Kuttner's (and later Silverberg's) water-cooled typewriter :)

-- Ahasuerus

"We are a nation of laws, poorly written and randomly enforced."

-- Frank Zappa

((lambda(a) (a a((lambda(a)(lambda()(set! a(+ a 1))a))1)))(lambda(a c)
((lambda(b) (newline)(write b)(a a((lambda(c)(lambda()(c c)))(lambda(a)
((lambda(c) (if(=(modulo c b)0)(a a)c))(c))))))(c)))) ; Scheme me!

-- .sig of Kenneth Oksanen (prime numbers)

Note that the manuals are out of date!

From the freeWAIS-sf documentation, but probably applies to every nontrivial software package in existence

"For any twentieth-century American who'd been paying attention at all, the phrase 'criminal justice system' should have been warning enough."

-- L. Neil Smith (W.W. Curringer, in "Pallas")

"All books can be indecent books, but recent books are bolder;
For filth, I'm glad to say, is in the mind of the beholder.
When correctly viewed, everything is lewd!
I could tell you things about Peter Pan
(and the Wizard of Oz, there's a dirty old man) ..."

--Tom Lehrer

"Aber die Idee ist gar nicht so schlecht, schon Atari ist damit gescheitert."

-- (Bernward Bretthauer) ueber GDI Drucker

(von Kristian Koehntopp in den Stand der Signatur erhoben)

Fleishman: I guess in a way, we're all one big tribe.
Ed: That's true. (Pause) But you can't hang out with five billion people.

-- NX, episode "Our Tribe"

According to Jon Bentley and Bjarne Stroustrup, rewriting malloc/free is one of the most rewarding forms of entertainment for SW people.

-- Henry Baker, (Re: allocator and GC locality (was Re: cost of malloc), <hbaker-3107951026250001@>)

He did add a smiley to that comment

Whenever things get tough, C++ wimps out and forces another pointer indirection.

Of course, this 'solves' the problem for the C++ implementor, but throws a much larger problem over the fence onto the poor application writer and/or memory manager, who is now forced to deal with a much higher load of smaller objects.

Whoever said that C++ doesn't force you to pay for features you don't use hasn't ever programmed in C++ to any extent.

-- Henry Baker, (Re: allocator and GC locality (was Re: cost of malloc), <hbaker-3107951026250001@>)

ELECELLERATION: Pressing an elevator button a lot to speed it up.

Bonus definition of A Word A Day, 3.8.95

Putting smokers and non-smokers in the same room is like having a urinating and a non-urinating section in a swimming pool.

--- Ross Parker

Documentation is like sex; when it's good, it's very, very good, and when it's bad, it's better than nothing.

-- Dick Brandon

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

well-known phrase, "hanlon's razor" ?

Daughters of feminists love to wear
pink and white short frilly dresses
and talk of successes with boys/
It annoys/
Their Mums ...

-- Nancy White

No, I don't think smoking should be illegal. Smokers are already getting the death penalty!

-- from Stev0's "rant of the week" on smoking

Businesses may come and go, but religion will last forever, for in no other endeavor does the consumer blame himself for product failure.

X-Bonus of the "A Word A Day" service (08.08.95)

In the realtime industry, on the other hand, it's fairly common to sell source code as part of the system. Because we're expecting people to bet their lives on it.

Not just their businesses.

Their lives.

Nothing like being in a position where missing a negation can make a train crash to teach you about the importance of the review process.

-- Peter da Silva

"I don't mind where people make love, so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses."

-- Mrs. Patrick Campbell (1865-1940), Oral tradition

"As I grow older and older,
And totter toward the tomb,
I find that I care less and less
Who goes to bed with whom."

-- Dorothy Parker

"In America, sex is an obsession; in the rest of the world, it is a fact."

-- Marlene Dietrich

on the recent "Jane Austen was a lesbian" thread

"We had a couple of demos [of Windows 95] and took the disks out back to burn 'em. Had a nice fire, too."

---Paul Rakowicz, senior vice president of corporate systems for Document Processing Systems, Inc.; on his decision to not upgrade to Windows 95 and move directly to Windows NT and Linux. (as quoted from PC Week pg 88. 7/17/95)

"The first alteration I would suggest is to change the spelling of netiquette because it is just too difficult."

-- Stephen Boursy

To say that 1 gram of plutonium could kill everyone on the planet is like saying one drop of sperm could impregnate all of the women in China.

-- Tom Orth, <>

2 x 10^{15}   bits s^{-1}  Sexual reproduction genetic information 
                           transmission rate

-- from Niel Brandt's " Scales of Measurement" list, Version 1.7.

(He doesn't mention that it takes 9 months to uncompress the information ;-)

"We trained hard - but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we were reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while actually producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization."

-- Petronius Arbiter (210 B.C.)

_I_ think we have not had visitors from other planets because they have tried to decode our character encoding, and concluded that it wouldn't be worth it.

-- Erik Naggum

A thousand may pray until their knees are bloody, but if they are not keeping His commandments, God says their prayer is an abomination to Him.

-- "Harold Kupp"

This is the heart of the "deeds" side in the near-eternal "belief .vs. deeds" theological flame fest.

[District Attorneys] learn in District Attorney School that there are two sure-fire ways to get a lot of favorable publicity:

(1) Go down and raid all the lockers in the local high school and confiscate 53 marijuana cigarettes and put them in a pile and hold a press conference where you announce that they have a street value of $850 million. These raids never fail, because ALL high schools, including brand-new, never-used ones, have at least 53 marijuana cigarettes in the lockers. As far as anyone can tell, the locker factory puts them there.

(2) Raid an "adult book store" and hold a press conference where you announce you are charging the owner with 850 counts of being a piece of human sleaze. This also never fails, because you always get a conviction. A juror at a pornography trial is not about to state for the record that he finds nothing obscene about a movie where actors engage in sexual activities with live snakes and a fire extinguisher. He is going to convict the bookstore owner, and vote for the death penalty just to make sure nobody gets the wrong impression.

-- Dave Barry, "Pornography"

Was weiß man schon über Menschenfresser?
Fressen sie mensch wie sich's gehört mit Gabel und Messer?
Schmeckt ihnen ein dicker, asthmatisch gewesener Bäcker
besser als ein dünner, schmalfingriger König?
Man weiß so wenig ..."

-- Erich Kästner

Woher genau? Ich habs aus einem taz-artikel..

"I shall cheerfully bear the reproach of having descended below the dignity of history."

--Lord Macaulay.

Oh wait. You are a self-admitted Communist;therefore, you *cannot* judge for yourself, but must obey 'the will of the people'.

Must make it hard to order food in a restauraunt. "Waiter, what are the masses having?"

--Lizard (

Dear Mister Language Person: What is the purpose of the apostrophe?

Answer: The apostrophe is used mainly in hand-lettered small business signs to alert the reader than an "S" is coming up at the end of a word, as in: WE DO NOT EXCEPT PERSONAL CHECK'S, or: NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ITEM'S. Another important grammar concept to bear in mind when creating hand- lettered small-business signs is that you should put quotation marks around random words for decoration, as in "TRY" OUR HOT DOG'S, or even TRY "OUR" HOT DOG'S.

-- Dave Barry, "Tips for Writer's"

There is nothing that somebody, somewhere, will not consider immoral.


Well, both speed and reproducibility are important in a compiler, just like sexuality and reliability are both important in a spouse. The speed of a compiler and the sexuality in a spouse get you interested, but the reproducibility and reliability are what convince you to keep them.

-- Henry Baker, in an article in comp.compilers (<95-08-175@comp.compilers>)

"Im ächten Manne ist ein Kind versteckt: das will spielen.'

-- Nietzsche

Nicht dass ich normalerweise viel auf Nietzsche gebe, aber wo er recht hat, hat er recht.

"in a dying culture, snobs are an important natural resource"

-- from the sig of Ted Samsel (; no further attribution

"I'd rather have :rofix than const."

--Dennis Ritchie

from the sig of Tom Christiansen. No idea what it means. base annotation? EIR?

[Viele Kinderbücher seien "kindisch", weil] viele Erwachsene glauben, sie müssen geistig in die Kniebeuge gehen, wenn sie mit Kindern sprechen.

-- Michael Ende

Habs eben in einem alten Interview mit ihm gehört, im Rahmen eines Nachrufs (er starb gestern abend; am 28.08.95)

If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitiable.

-- John F. Kennedy

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

-- "Thoreau's Law"

where from?

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

-- Winston Churchill

where from?

If man evolved from the ape, how come there are still apes around? Some of them were given choices.

-- from Johnny Hart's comic strip "B.C."

The world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.

-- Sean O'Casey

There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.

-- Mark Twain

There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.

-- Will Rodgers

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.

-- Tacitus, 56-120 A.D.

You should never bet against anything in science at odds of more than about 10-12 to 1.

-- Ernest Rutherford

Majority: That quality that distinguishes a crime from a law.

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 bread.

-- Anatole France

"You wake me up early in the morning to tell me I am right? Please wait until I am wrong."

-- John von Neumann, on being phoned at 10 a.m.

"The only difference between a madman and myself is that I am not mad"

-- S. Dali

"Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress."

-- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

"Rumor has it that when they closed down the 7094 at MIT in 1973, they found a low-priority job that had been submitted in 1967 and had not yet been run."

A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular.

-- Adlai Stevenson

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo."

"Nature has neither kernel nor shell; she is everything at once."

-- Goethe

Goethe advocated Lisp machines?!

I wonder why. I wonder why.
I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why
I wonder why I wonder!

-- Richard P. Feynman

the sand remembers
once there was beach and sunshine
but chip is warm too

one with nintendo
halcyon symbiosis
hand thinks for itself

-- Damon Koronakos and Brian Roberts: HI-TECH HAIKUS

"...[T]he lesson [comic books] taught children- or this child, at any rate- was perhaps the unintentionally radical truth that exceptionality was the greatest and most heroic of values; that those who were unlike the crowd were to be treasured the most lovingly; and that this exceptionality was a treasure so great that it had to be concealed, in ordinary life, beneath what the comic books called a 'secret identity'."

-- Salman Rushdie

"A vegetarian diet can prevent 97% of our [society's] coronary occlusions."

- "Diet and Stress in Vascular Disease," Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 197, No. 9., 1961, pg 806.

"... A socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

-- Pat Robertson on feminism

"I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man."

-- Chang-tzu

Needed to understand a certain chapter title in a certain book by a certain well-known SF author.

"Jim Grimson had never planned to eat his father's balls."

-- opening sentence of "Red Orcs Rage", an otherwise not very impressive PJF novel

Minsky and I require every graduate student to take an oath at the grave of E.E. "Doc" Smith before he can receive a PhD in AI.

-- John McCarthy, Computer Science Department, Stanford, CA 94305 <>

They're not suicidal. They just think they can fly.

-- Donna Lypchuk, on Cats that jump off balconies

`... if we wish to count lines of code, we should not regard them as ``lines produced'' but as ``lines spent.'' '

--Edsger Dijkstra

To those lucid and courageous minds who gave you the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, Falwell, Robertson and the God-inspired rule of the Righteous. To those intrepid souls who fight with unflagging zeal to remove from libraries dangerous books they have not read and from theatres those spiritually toxic films they have not seen, believing that thought is a controlled substance and secular thinking hazardous to mental health.

--Parke Godwin, in the dedication of _The_Snake_Oil_Wars_

In keeping with my non-Aristotelian or relativist-Existentialist bias, I do not classify ideas as simply "true" or "false." I prefer to assign them probabilities, on a scale from 0 (the Aristotelian "false") to 10 (the Aristotelian "true"). A rating of 5 means that I am still sitting geometrically on the middle of the fence, above 5 means that I presently lean somewhat toward belief and below 5 means that today I lean somewhat toward finding no value in this gloss at all (for me).

I admit cheerfully that I am such an advanced case of Aggravated Agnosticism that whenever I do move something into 0 or 10, I get nervous, wonder if I am becoming as simple-minded as the Pope or Dr. Carl Sagan and start looking for evidence to move that meme toward 1 or 9.

-- Robert Anton Wilson, in the Introduction to his play "Wilhelm Reich in Hell"

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this document are not
	    necessarily those of the author. At least one of
 	    them belongs to Oscar Wilde, though he allows the
	    author to borrow it from time to time. Others may
	    belong to the small hairy man who lives in the
	    mouldy shoebox at the bottom of his garden, and who
	    probably uses his vast technical knowledge and
	    uncontrolled access to the author's telephone
 	    cable to tap into his Internet account and post
	    all manner of weird things without his knowledge
	    or consent, or at least that would explain a lot
	    of things.

-- .disclaimer of (Daniel Frankham)

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

-- Douglas Adams

found as the finger .sig of Phil Wadler

"Where time or intelligence are lacking, a goto may do the job."

-- M.E. Hopkins, "A Case for the GOTO," 1972.

'We shall distinguish between "lexical representations" and "phonological representations". We shall use the term "lexical representation" in reference to formatives which are provided directly by the lexicon, i.e. the lexical formatives as well as certain grammatival formatives which happen to appear in lexical entries.' (p9)

'There is, incidentally, nothing particularly surprising about the fact that conventional orthography is, as these examples suggest, a near optimal system for the lexical representation of English words. >>The fundamental principle of orthography is that phonetic variation is not indicated where it is predictable by general rule.<< ... Orthography is a system designed for readers who know the language ... A system of this sort is of little use for one who wishes to produce tolerable speech without knowing the language ... For such purposes a phonetic [or phonemic] alphabet ... would be superior. This, however, is not the function of conventional orthographic systems. They are designed for the use of speakers of the language. It is therefore noteworthy, but not too surprising, that English [they mean American, which is less regular] orthography, despite its often cited inconsistencies, comes remarkable close to being an optimal orthographic system for English.' (p49)

-- The Sound Pattern of English
Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle
MIT Press 1968.
(the 1991 paperback reprint has ISBN 0-262-53097-X)

Thanks to Richard A. O'Keefe for typing this in

"You see crabgrass at your feet. A funny thing in a dungeon."

boycott whaling? then what will my cat eat?

My big hope is that Marc has a near-death experience and realizes to save his soul form the clutches of evil he needs to support HTML 3.0 with style sheets in the next release of Netscape 8)

-- Nesta Stubbs

Every film should have a beginning, a middle, and an endnot necessarily in that order.

--Jean-Luc Goddard

* Formal specifications yield correct programs.

No.  Formal specifications yield PhD theses.  They may also occasionally
yield programs as by-products, but no useful ones.

-- Ronald F. Guilmette

Marketing is the science of convincing us that What You Get Is What You Want.

-- John Carter

|-|_   _|-|   Hans-Christoph Wirth
| | |_| | |   Veitshöchheim     
| | | | | |  
|O|O|O|O|O|   Um Rekursion zu verstehen, muß man entweder einen kennen, der
 V V V V V    sie versteht, oder sie schon verstanden haben. (M. Freericks)

Basically, I have this theory that there are five kinds of truth. (This is Joe's Theory of the Five Truths.) There is the truth you tell to casual strangers and acquaintances. There is the truth you tell to your general circle of friends and family members. There is the truth you tell to only one or two people in your entire life. There is the truth you tell to yourself. And finally, there is the truth that you do not admit even to yourself. And it's that fifth truth that provides some of the most interesting drama.....

-- J.Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5)

It used to be said [...] that AIX looks like one space alien discovered Unix, and described it to another different space alien who then implemented AIX. But their universal translators were broken and they'd had to gesture a lot.

-- Paul Tomblin

[I have an awful suspicion that the answer is "yes, except that now and then it won't work". -John]

(the comp.compilers moderator, commenting a question that proposed sending exception between threads by working out how microsoft c++ implements them)

Cannot handle UTF.
The asteroid to kill this dinosaur is still in orbit.

from the BUGS section of Plan 9 "lex"

[Wow, that's gross. But it's a good idea. -John]

My favorite PL/I type conversion example: Declare A, B, and C as three-character strings. B='123';C='456';A=B+C; What does A contain? PL/I automatically coerces strings to decimal numbers in arithmetic context, so it correctly converts B and C and adds them to get 579. Then it converts it back to a string of a default length, which is ' 579'. Then it truncates the string from the right, so the result is ' '. Oops. -John

>Yea, fond memories.  COBOL-B ran in 8K, no PERFORM verb, only first 3
>characters of datanames were significant.  That was when ALTER statement was

'Fond memories' of times when ALTER was 'valuable'?  As Aeschylus said,
'Great hardships make for later entertainments'.

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.

-- Henry Spencer

[It's a disgusting hack, but it's a great disgusting hack. -John]

john levine, comp.compilers, 1.jul 98, about an assembler-in-algol

You can tell how desperate they are by counting the number of times they say "innovate" in their press releases.

EMS could not be reached for comment, on account of his phone being patented.