I’ve been trying to get in the supply closet … but it’s always locked, and the door is making a banging noise. I think there’s a possum and a cat in there, and they’re fighting, but they’re also best friends and they solve crimes.

Rene Gube, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 3 episode 11 (2018)

I’m sick of watching people pick up their sword and mistake it for their telescope, forgetting all the while that they could also pick up their paintbrush.

someone who I hope is going to let me identify them here, 2022

Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. Meta-Sturgeon’s Law: Everything has a 90%/10% probability split, one way or the other. Meta-Meta-Sturgeon’s Law: Of all phenomena, only 10% of them have 90% of their instances being good, and dogs are one of them.

Alison, 2022-09-30

Make believe all the time that you are living, so to speak, on Mars among alien creatures and blot out any deeper interest in the actions of those creatures. Make friends with a few animals. Then you will become a cheerful man once more and nothing will be able to trouble you.

Albert Einstein, letter of 5 April 1933 - quoted in Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, The Human Side: New Glimpses From His Archives (1979), p. 115

Animal agriculture is the most obviously unnecessary source of ecological damage, and exists entirely to meet the demand of consumers. Your reduction of oil use is near-meaningless because oil is required to maintain a globalized economy. Your recycling habits are near-meaningless because the vast majority of waste is produced through industrial processes. So I can understand an environmentalist who doesn’t recycle or drives a car. Consumer spending habits really aren’t the problem there.

But meat? That’s not a product that facilitates the global economy. The global economy would function just fine without any animal agriculture whatsoever. So animal agriculture is an issue that arises entirely from consumer spending habits, which means that consumer spending habits are the entire problem. And that’s the justification for veganism, especially for people who are environmentalists.

KerSan, https://www.reddit.com/r/vegan/comments/2mwes1/naomi_klein_brushes_off_vegan_advocacy_implying (2015) (Jason’s note: Arguably, a globalised economy is not sustainable, so you may not agree with KerSan that it’s okay to prop it up by having a car; but I think KerSan’s argument is a clever argument anyway, aimed at people who do want to prop up the global economy, e.g. Green New Deal people)

I am the only person here who is enjoying this, and I get the money; they pay and have to suffer.

Artur Schnabel, according to Wikipedia

The problem with climate change is that it’s a timed test.

Bill McKibben, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-new-yorker-interview/bill-mckibben-and-elizabeth-kolbert-on-the-un-extinction-report

Luckily I know what I appear to pretend to know.

Demi Kirkpatrick, 2016-04-15

I’m on the chocolate cake arm of a very important RCT.

Alison, 2016-06-21

Bloody spatial metaphors everywhere you look.

Alison, 2019-12-12

I don’t know what it is to be a dog, but I know what it is to breathe

David Brooks, https://www.abc.net.au/religion/critique-of-pure-reason-about-animals/10615560, 2018-12-13

Ruth sensed that Alan was feeling jealous. She wished she could reassure him. With time, he’d understand she was a faithful person. If he knew she’d killed her ex and her sister, he’d probably be even more worried, but there was no need for him to be concerned about that either. His life would not be in danger as long as he didn’t annoy her with (a) self-contradictions, (b) lack of logic, (c) an inability to hold his side of an argument, or (d) other irritants.

Amanda Filipacchi, Love Stalks

Some questions are like eggs: you sit on them until life appears and pushes its way out.

Frank Chimero, https://frankchimero.com/blog/2018/design-criticism, 2018-05-16

A police officer involved in the case of the murdered toddler declared that the moment he clapped eyes on one of the culprits, he knew that he was evil. This is the kind of thing that gives evil a bad name.

Terry Eagleton, achieving in two sentences what took Hannah Arendt a couple of hundred pages. “On Evil”, Introduction.

I recall a concert of Allan [Holdsworth] in London some years ago, and after the performance I went to see him backstage only to tell him that if I knew what he was doing, I’d steal it!

John McLaughlin, https://garyhusband.bandcamp.com/album/the-things-i-see-interpretations-of-the-music-of-allan-holdsworth

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders.

Jeff Goll - https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hal_Abelson

socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor

Michael Harrington, “The Other America” (1962), p.58. This is often attributed to Gore Vidal, but Harrington said it first. Martin Luther King said something similar in 1968, but Harrington said it first … and King had Harrington as a speechwriter!

A minute’s thought would have set me right; but, as someone once said, thinking is painful and a minute is a long time.

Ken MacLeod, Descent, London: Orbit, 2004, p.390 … presumably there are earlier versions of this joke but I don’t know them

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

misattributed to John Steinbeck

Her mother had seemed to regard any income from singing as a kind of disability pay, something you received for having to put up with the condition.

William Gibson, Spook Country, London: Penguin, 2007, p.240

In representing, nay, in thinking of, and caring for, these beasts, man has to think of them essentially with their skins on them, and with their souls in them.

John Ruskin, “The Eagle’s Nest: Ten Lectures on the Relation of Natural Science to Art, Given Before the University of Oxford, in Lent Term, 1872”, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42917/42917-0.txt

We have no chance of winning this in the short term, but if we don’t demand it, we will never win it.

Richard Stallman, https://stallman.org/archives/2014-nov-feb.html#30_January_2015_%28Ending_massive_surveillance%29

Mac vs Linux is like living in a hotel vs living at home.

mherrmann, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29755401 2021

Anything we can actually do we can afford.

Keynes, quoted at https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-pandemic-is-the-time-to-resurrect-the-public-university

One of my recurring complaints about modern novels is that they deal with such small circles of people: I’m a semi-reclusive introvert but I have more friends and acquaintances than the gregarious extroverts in most of the novels I read

Jenny Pausacker, http://jennypausacker.com/the-lesbian-no-thanks-on-being-a-publicly-gay-childrens-writer-1987-2007

What shall it profit a word if it shall gain the whole world and lose its own soul?

K. A. Apiah, “The Ethics of Identity”, p.120

Right. I’ve GOT to finish my art coursework by the end of this week so what I’m going to do is: I’m going to make a list of all the things I need to get and do for the school prom and for my bunnies party before I start that.

Dawn French, “A Tiny Bit Marvellous”, p.119

So embarrassing when you stare into the abyss and the abyss stares back at you so you wave but the abyss was staring at the dude behind you.

@kerihw on Twitter, 2014-07-14

Only 94 percent of candidates [for the US Congress] with more money win.

Larry Lessig, http://www.lessig.org/2014/10/we-should-be-protesting-too, 2014-10-01

A total collapse of modern civilization would be a serious blow to the already sluggish economy

Randall Munroe, http://what-if.xkcd.com/57/, 2014-03-28

We feel obliged — for the question arises more and more often — to record our disagreement with the large number of public personalities at the present time who demand of scientists in general and mathematicians in particular that they should devote their energies to producing the legions of technologists whose existence is, it appears, urgently indispensable to our survival. Things being as they are, it seems to us that in the scientifically and technologically over-developed ‘great’ nations in which we live, the first duty of the mathematician — and of many others — is to produce what is not demanded of him, namely men [sic] who are capable of thinking for themselves, of unmasking false arguments and ambiguous phrases, and to whom the dissemination of truth is infinitely more important than, for example, world-wide three-dimensional colour T.V.: free men, and not robots ruled by technocrats. It is sad but true that the best way of producing such men does not consist in teaching them mathematics and physical science; for these are branches of knowledge which ignore the very existence of human problems, and it is a disturbing thought that our most highly civilized societies accord them the first place. But even in the teaching of mathematics it is at least possible to attempt to impart a taste for freedom and reason, and to accustom the young to being treated as human beings endowed with the faculty of reason.

Roger Godement, Cours d’Algebre, Paris: Hermann, 1963 (unknown translator)

Both US parties have perfected the art of reducing once-independent movements for social change into captive constituencies, which keep on working to elect candidates for one or the other party, while getting essentially nothing in return. The Democratic party establishment has no more interest in seeing climate change activism succeed than their Republican opposite numbers have in seeing the antiabortion movement succeed; in both cases, that would cause the movements to fade away, as movements do when they triumph, and important captive constituencies would be lost to the parties that own them.

John Michael Greer, 2016, http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/08/learning-from-failure-modest.html

As a former musician, I know that there is no way to train a modern musician, or any other modern artist, without heavy amounts of copyright infringement. Copying pages at the library, copying CDs for practice, taking photos of sculptures and paintings, examining architectural blueprints of real buildings. The system simultaneously expects us to be well-cultured, and to not own our culture. I suggest that, of those two, the former is important and the latter is yet another attempt to coerce and control people via subversion of the public domain.

Corbin, 2019, https://lobste.rs/s/sw1tci/how_does_bittorrent_work_plain_english#c_xvo7ai

We should burn the institution of heterosexuality to the ground, although the pastime can stick around if it wants to.

Ray Briggs, 2016-02-17

A revisionist account of the philosophical enterprise came into fashion just after World War Two. Whereas it used to be said that philosophy is about, for example, Goodness or Existence or Reality or How the Mind Works, or whether there is a Cat on the Mat, it appears, in retrospect, that that was just a loose way of talking. Strictly speaking, philosophy consists (or consists largely, or ought to consist largely) of the analysis of our concepts and/or of the analysis of the ‘ordinary language’ locutions that we use to express them. Still, there was felt to be trouble pretty early on. For one thing, no concepts ever actually did get analysed, however hard philosophers tried. (Early in the century there was detectable optimism about the prospects for analysing ‘the’, but it faded).

Jerry Fodor, London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 20, 21 October 2004, pages 17-19

What worries me is that while we’re laissez-ing, someone else is faire-ing.

Brian Eno, http://www.edge.org/responses/q2013, 16/12/2013

I haven’t fully theorised this. WHY haven’t I fully theorised this?

Sally the guinea pig, according to Alison, 24/8/2013

I went into school loving to learn, and was too stubborn to change my mind.

Kara Coryell, 16/2/2014

I fear balloons. I see no reason why air should have skin.


Honesty is the key to a relationship. If you can fake that, you’re in.


In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Letter Writer

To non-human animals, humans are Reavers.

Sara Andrews, 15/03/2013

Life is about fucking up.

Angie Lawrence, 23/01/2013

a typewriter of birds banging out sonnets in the dogwood buds (and wilt thou have me fashion into speech Ding! Line space. Carriage return. The love I bear thee, finding words enough Ding! The birds hacking it out) and spring in general coming on like a geometric progression

Tom Robbins, “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues”

reality’s well-known left-wing bias

Cory Doctorow, https://boingboing.net/2017/10/06/world-on-fire.html, 2017-10-06

I tried hard to say something positive but nothing happened.


I submitted a blank Word document as my final paper. I was going to blame technical difficulties. The professor never contacted me about it. I got an A.

a student at a reasonably prestigious university, 2012

The best way of getting away with something is acting like there’s nothing abnormal at all about what you’re doing.


Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.

attrib. Joss Whedon, http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/18015.Joss_Whedon

Taught a class, in which most of the students spoke. This from a group where I often consider releasing tumbleweed to make a point.

Dr L. Duck, 2012

Lisa: So I was just wondering if there was one general thing that you’ve found over the years to be generally true in a general way that would help anyone in any situation?

Psychiatrist: That’s a great question, yes, I would say figure out what you want and learn how to ask for it.

James L. Brooks, “How Do You Know?” (film script), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1341188

I was doing that before it was ironic.

Andrew McNicol, 22/9/12

The whole thing that makes a mathematician’s life worthwhile is that he gets the grudging admiration of three or four colleagues.

Donald Knuth, in Jack Woehr, “An interview with Donald Knuth”, Dr. Dobb’s Journal, pp. 16—22, April 1996

a hypothesis … may be rejected because it has not predicted observable results which have not occurred.

Harold Jeffreys on standard methods of hypothesis testing, Theory of Probability, 1961

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you lose

Terence Eden, https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2015/12/first-they-ignore-you-then-they-laugh-at-you-then-they-fight-you-then-you-lose/

What you call getting bogged down is what we call making progress.

David Chalmers (philosopher), talking to scientists, 2011

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai (from c_a_turbulence)

I just had one of those You’ve been living in the future too long moments where I thought to myself “I need to clean the bedroom, but I want to keep reading this Gene Wolfe novel, I wonder if there’s some text-to-speech hack I can install” and realized the book was made out of paper and the text-to-speech hack was to get someone to come over and read it to me while I clean.

Kyle Cassidy, 22/2/2011, http://kylecassidy.livejournal.com/695627.html

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m afraid of hard work. It’s just that I wish that I’d already done it.

Alison, 2/11/2011

If there’s any hiding to be done, we’re not afraid to do it.

the guinea pigs, according to Alison

Once, I was born—and you’re pretty much screwed once that happens.

yesihavecookies, http://community.livejournal.com/find_ljfriends/1216613.html#cutid1, 25/8/2008

To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.

attrib. Mark Twain

Man, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

I imagine a scenario where primary school students (in a different universe…) have to make Big Bangs the same way primary schoolers in our universe make model volcanos

Freya Howarth, http://xeny.net/Design, 2011

Jason’s games of ‘helicopter’ got increasingly violent and fiery as semester progressed

tin_foil_hat, pretending to be one of my students, 26/5/2009

Guinea pigs have so many faces.. well to guinea pig people they do, other people just see a furry lump while we oggle over how cute their little personality is showing through.

craze_176, 20/11/2009

Alpacas always manage to look simultaneously out of place and exactly perfect for any situation they’re ever in

penguin_bot, 5/11/2009

I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.

attrib. Mark Twain

They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol, “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol”, p. 113

Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.

Theodor Geisel (Dr Seuss) - quoted by Thomas Fensch in ’“Of Sneetches and Whos and the Good Dr. Seuss: Essays on the Writings and Life of Theodor Geisel” (1997)

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.

John Cage, in Richard Kostelanetz “Conversing with Cage” (1988)

There was nothing I could do. They offered me money.

Denis Bloodnok

I feel like … I’m in a little boat in a sea of drowning animals, and how can I do anything but pull on as many as many as will fit? But my boat isn’t very sturdy and leaks water, and the weight of them makes it much harder to paddle, and maybe if I could paddle a little faster and further I could find a much bigger boat, and help the people on it to achieve a lot more than I could by myself.

_unsure, 14/6/2009

OOP to me means only messaging, local retention and protection and hiding of state-process, and extreme late-binding of all things.

Alan Kay

I’ve been busy. Well, indolent. The effect is the same.

Iain M. Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

I’ve got two things that are horribly overdue. Well, in fact more than two things. What the two things are depends on who I’m talking to.

Jeremy Shearmur, in an ethics class, 7/10/2008

I’m cranky because i’m dealing with assholes all day whose main purpose is to a) do better than me or b) stand in my way of doing better than the other assholes.

etomlef, http://etomlef.livejournal.com/637190.html, 29/10/2008

I choose my words very carefully—they must sound right, must have the right rhythm, and their meaning must be slightly off center

Paul Feyerabend, “Killing Time”, p.163

I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness

Mark Twain

It rains so much in Wollongong, sometimes it rains twice at the same time.

It gets the audience laughing. They think linguistics is fun. They don’t realise they haven’t done any for an hour.

Alison Moore, 29/10/2008

Shepherd Book: Mind if I say grace? Mal: Only if you say it out loud.

Jos Whedon, Firefly, episode 1, “Serenity”

God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

Misattributed to Voltaire. See http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Voltaire.

Anyone can slay a dragon, he told me, but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.

attrib. Brian Andreas

It’s always tempting to impute / Unlikely virtues to the cute.

attrib. Ogden Nash

Suppose it were true that the some sinister cabal in the US government pickled the Roswell aliens, shot JFK, faked the Moon landings and brought down the Towers. You know what? Compared with what the US and other governments do in plain sight, these would be as dust in the balance.

Ken MacLeod on conspiracies, http://kenmacleod.blogspot.com/2007/09/down-rabbit-hole.html

we need not search painstakingly for evidence that Blair has lied to the public or to Parliament. Every time a minister uses the term “anti-terrorist powers”, he is lying. These are anti-dissent powers—the powers of tyranny.

Richard Stallman, http://www.stallman.org/articles/animal_rights.html, 2005, viewed 1/10/2008

with … students, it’s absolutely important to challenge their internals — challenge their internal musculature, their internal ability to make images, their internal ability to think about things and to make representations of things.

Alan Kay, Electronic Learning, April 1994, http://decenturl.com/iam.unibe/alankay

philosophy … is not an activity ‘after’ science, in a logical sense. In particular, it does not rely on inferences from what best current science says about reality. On the contrary, it is itself a kind of formal finishing school for scientific theory. Its own products are best current science.

Huw Price, “Quining Naturalism”

One of the things about progressing through life is you can start crossing out the things you won’t be. You keep crossing them out until the only thing left is corpse.

Richard Jackson, http://richardjackson.org/?p=198, 5/12/2007

The ethical incoherence of our customary treatment of nonhumans has been demonstrated time and again by Singer, Regan, Sapontzis, DeGrazia, Pluhar, and others. Almost every member of the American Philosophical Association would agree that all mammals are conscious, and that all conscious experience is of some moral significance. But somehow this has no connection with one’s choice of food. Like the undergraduate who listens to, and actually understands, the refutation of naive relativism, and still writes in the final exam that “no one can judge another person’s morality,” many philosophers suffer from a sort of inferential paralysis.

Harlan B. Miller, Review of Peter Singer’s “Ethics Into Action”, Ethics 2000;110:443

I offer you the lexical items “piss up” and “brewery”, and leave you to see what kind of cohesive product occurs to you.

Alison Moore, 12/2/2007

I still believe in abstraction, but now I know that one ends with abstraction, not starts with it. I learned that one has to adapt abstractions to reality and not the other way around.

Alexander Stephanov, Short History of STL (attrib.)

The world is tired of metaphysical assertions.


Few people realise that psychologists also take a vow, promising that at some point in their professional lives they will publish a book, a chapter or at least an article that contains the sentence: ‘The human being is the only animal that…’. … it is with good reason that most psychologists put off completing The Sentence for as long as they can, hoping that if they wait long enough, they might just die in time to avoid being publicly humiliated by a monkey.

Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness (Knopf), p.3

My talk in Kyoto University was on “philosophical techniques”, and the first one I discussed was the use of the definite article, “the”. My host Yasuo politely pointed out to me that Japanese doesn’t have a definite article. No matter—unfazed, I moved on to another technique, which involved the subjunctive conditional. “Professor Hájek: Japanese does not have that either.”

Alan Hájek, 25/12/2006

When a man proves a positive integer to exist, he should show how to find it. If God has mathematics of his own that needs to be done, let him do it himself.

Errett Bishop and Douglas, Constructive Analysis, Springer-Verlag 1980, p.5

We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering.

The Shoveller, in “Mystery Men” by Neil Cuthbert

you have caged the eagle of reason, the dove of wisdom, and the lark of a definite, precisely formulated formal system

Robert K. Meyer, “Logicians Liberation League Manifesto”, 1969, http://users.cecs.anu.edu.au/~rkm/manifesto.html

Metaphysics is about what there really is (as opposed to merely what there is, which is of course ontology)

Jim Hankinson, Bluff your way in Philosophy, Oval Books, 1985, pp.30—31

the communicating of ideas marked by words is not the chief and only end of language, as is commonly supposed

Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge, 1710

The Axiom of Choice is obviously true; the Well Ordering Principle is obviously false; and who can tell about Zorn’s Lemma?

attrib. Jerry Bona, http://www.math.vanderbilt.edu/~schectex/ccc/choice.html, 1/11/2006

Time is an honorific we give to one of the dimensions of space for being so nice to us.

Craig Callender, 26/7/2006

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Mark Twain, attrib. “notebook, 1898”

If you’re being chased by a police dog, try not to go through a tunnel, then on to a little seesaw, then jump through a hoop of fire — they’re trained for that.

attrib. Milton Jones

Stigler’s Law … No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.

Stephen M. Stigler, Statistics on the Table, Cambridge MA and London: Harvard UP, 1999, p.277

In every history of philosophy for students, the first thing mentioned is that philosophy began with Thales, who said that everything is made of water. This is discouraging to the beginner, who is struggling — perhaps not very hard — to feel that respect for philosophy which the curriculum seems to expect.

Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, p.24

the device of art is that of ‘making things strange’ and of making form difficult, increasing the difficulty and time taken to perceive, since the process of perception in art is an aim in itself and must be prolonged

Viktor Shklovskii, 1914, translated from Russian by (I think) Michael O’Toole and A. Shukman

There is one thing I would break up over, and that is if she caught me with another woman. I won’t stand for that.

attrib. Steve Martin

Az di bobe volt gehat beytsim volt zi geven mayn zeyde. (If my grandmother had testicles she’d be my grandfather.)

anonymous (courtesy of http://www.pass.to/glossary/Default.htm, 24/2/04)

On philosophers’ possible worlds: One is really inventing structures and then throwing away an infinite amount of them only to keep a very small finite remainder.

Adrian Heathcote, 2005

Wat is groen maar niet gras? Het is stiekem toch gras.


I prefer my own memory to paper. It works hands-free while driving, works without light late at night, and it’s waterproof in the shower. I especially like the way it improves everything I put into it. I have missed an occasional appointment. Perhaps that’s an improvement too.

Ward Cunningham, http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?IsAnythingBetterThanPaper, recorded 1/9/2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, this ferry’s going out of service now. So when we get to Circular Quay, could everybody please get off, so this self-respecting crew can go to the pub. [Pause.] And remember, Sydney Ferries loves you.

anonymous announcer, Sydney Ferries, 2005

I wanted him to die a natural death but someplace where I could watch.

Garrison Keillor, Love Me

I fear the worst … OK, I fear the second-worst.

Alison Moore

It’s terrible — all these people writing articles and only me to read them.

attrib. Gary Bell, UCI

I got this book and I thought “that’s commendably thin” … but really it could have been commendably thinner.

Ian Wills, July 2004

What was that story which the kid said “What did you bring that book about Down Under that I didn’t want to be read to out of up for” about about?

adapted from http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?EndingWithaPreposition, November 2004

[on baseball players attributing their successes to god] Apparently god cares a lot about baseball, but somehow missed the holocaust.

an anonymous guest on “Real Time with Bill Maher”

Bertrand Russell said something similar a long time ago, but for once he didn’t manage to make it snappy.

Truth often represents the only way to keep a complex story straight.

Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail.

Jamie Zawinski, http://www.jwz.org/hacks, viewed 17 September 2004

also attrib. Greg Kuperberg

I love the way Microsoft follows standards. In much the same manner that fish follow migrating caribou.

anonymous, alt.sysadmin.recovery

It is amazing what one can accomplish if one does not care who gets the credit.

attrib. John Dove Isaacs

There are probably intelligent creatures on other planets. Otherwise, we should have had them here by now.

anonymous, quoted by Sture Allén, “Of Thoughts and Words”, Imperial College Press, 1994, p.3

I don’t know anything about the law, but I know what I like.

Catie Flick

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise … surprise and fear … fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise… and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency… and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our four… no… Amongst our weapons… Amongst our weaponry… are such elements as fear, surprise… I’ll come in again.

Monty Python (<http://www.jumpstation.ca/recroom/comedy/python/spanish.html,> 22/4/04)

The Bush vision … is, among other things, a vision of perpetual war. … “World peace” used to be such an uncontroversially good thing that Miss America contestants, even at the height of the Cold War, could safely say that they were in favour of it. Now they’ll have to say, “As Miss America, I hope to help little children and work on behalf of United States world domination.”

Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker, October 14 & 21, 2002, p. 66

Instead of spending money on education, they’re spending it on figuring out what the results of not spending money on education are.

Martin Espinoza on the obsession with educational metrics, http://tech.slashdot.org/story/15/04/30/1250221/australia-to-grade-written-essays-in-national-exam-with-cognitive-computing

The Philosophers’ Motto: Ours not to do or die Ours but to reason why


A jazz musician is someone who never plays the same thing once.


Father, I cannot tell the truth.


Quine was a wickedly gifted stylist. At any hole in the argument there would always be a perfectly turned metaphor to throw the reader off the scent. I think they were there to throw the author off the scent too, for Quine was not intellectually dishonest.

Thomas Forster

Ist mir wurst.

Einstein (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-epr)

Space is what stops everything from happening in the same place.

attrib. Arthur C. Clarke

Space is what stops everything from happening in Cambridge.

Jeremy Butterfield

I’m gonna tell Mom you slayed in front of me.

Dawn Summers

The 80’s was a really hard thing to put up with.

Steve Howe

Academics really do not have significant insight into the history of their own field. The problem is really, that history makes for a nice introductory paragraph and by the time you can call yourself an academic you are very confident in your knowledge of history of the field because you read hundreds of times the introductory paragraph.

yk, 2019, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20630595

Careful. We don’t want to learn from this.

Calvin and Hobbes

“Do you know how I got this beard?” asked the Biscuit. “Grew it, I suppose.” “Not at all. Far from it. Very much otherwise. It’s a long story and reflects a good deal of discredit on some of the parties concerned. When I was a baby, you must know, I was a beautiful little girl. But one day my nurse took me out in my perambulator and stopped to talk to a soldier, as nurses will, and when her back was turned a wicked gypsy sneaked out of the bushes, carrying in her arms an ugly little boy with a beard. And do you know what she did? She stole me out of my perambulator and put that ugly little boy with a beard in my place. And ever since then I’ve been an ugly little boy with a beard.”

P.G. Wodehouse

I can’t tell you how much I’ve never been hit on more in my entire life than in one night club

Demi Kirkpatrick

GNU Emacs … is a sort of hybrid between Windows Notepad, a monolithic-kernel operating system, and the International Space Station.

Steve Yegge, https://medium.com/@steve.yegge/dear-google-cloud-your-deprecation-policy-is-killing-you-ee7525dc05dc, 2020

All grammars leak.

Edward Sapir, Language, p. 38

In Liverpool you can’t exist as a poet just by having long hair and saying you’re a poet. You have to be able to talk football as well.

Roger McGough

If you read enough Wittgenstein you begin to address your wife in Wittgensteinian aphorisms, which can be very exasperating for her.

John Searle

Whereof I cannot think of the answer right now, thereof you must remain silent.

Wittgenstein/Grossman Alternative translation: What I cannot speak about, you must pass over in silence.

If a lion could speak, it would not understand itself.

Wittgenstein/Frayn, http://stevepetersen.net/personal/wittgenstein-fog.html

“Je suis,” it seems to say, “ergo sum.”

Tom Stoppard

Boyle was a great partisan of the mechanical philosophy; a theory which, by discovering some of the secrets of nature and allowing us to imagine the rest, is so agreeable to the natural vanity and curiosity of men.

David Hume, “The history of England: from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the revolution in 1688”, volume 2, p.653 of the American edition of 1836 (Philidelphia: M’Carty and Davis)

Kicking the trunk of the tree of knowledge until the possum of truth falls out.

motto of the University of Queensland Psychonomic Seminar Series, 2006 (later changed to: Wobbling the flabby midriff of systematic observation until the belly button piercing of theoretical cohesion is dislodged.)

We each had to think of one word to describe humanity; Man, the species. … There were suggestions like ‘precocious’, ‘doomed’, ‘murderous’, ‘inhuman’, and ‘frightening’. Most of us who’d been on-planet must have been falling under the spell of humanity’s own propaganda, becaues we tended to come up with words like ‘inquisitive’, ‘ambitious’, ‘aggressive’, or ‘quick’ … then somebody thought to ask the ship. It complained about being restricted to one word, then pretended to think for a long time, and finally came up with ‘gullible’.

Iain M. Banks, “The State of the Art”, London: Orbit, 1991, p. 184

You young people and your expectations of woman. How are you ever going to find your perfect partner when you have such a strict picture in your head of how she has to be? Oooh, “she mustn’t be man-made and armed with batteries of cannons”. “She mustn’t have provisions to feed and shelter two hundred of the Queen’s soldiers”. Ho ho, and “she mustn’t be a trap designed to send me to my doom” - it’s like you’ve got some sort of checklist! Just listen to yourself! I know it’s me saying the words… but, I’m imagining that’s what’s in your head. You are so superficial. Now, you can keep rattling on about what a woman can and can’t be, but when you reach my age, you’ll realise that your priorities change, eh?

Tosswinkle the pirate (Tripod), http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/pennywyatt/Interests/Tripod/Tosswinkle/Tosswinkle17.html

never miss a good opportunity to shut up

Ken White, http://www.popehat.com/2013/04/28/suburban-express-took-the-first-bus-to-the-streisand-effect-have-they-disembarked-in-time