Persons and Machines

First we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.
Marshall McLuhan

Science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
Isaac Asimov

The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.
Warren G. Bennis

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

The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.
Sydney J. Harris
(I actually think the latter might be an improvement)

Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.
Doug Larson

The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas.
Alan Kay

The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows.
Frank Zappa

We too are machines, just machines of a different type.
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (ep. 35)

Knowledge is knowing that Frankenstein wasn't the monster, Wisdom is knowing that Frankenstein was the monster.

Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don't know what they want?
Yuval Noah Harari

The Brain

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
Malcolm Forbes

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide

...[Some] schools are virtual beefcake outlets, with nary a forehead in the crowd disfigured by a sentient impulse.

What is research but a blind date with knowledge?
Will Henry

How easy it [is] to mistake clear reasoning for correct reasoning!
Frank Herbert

If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't.
Lyall Watson

If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

seeker of truth
follow no path
all paths lead where
truth is here
E. E. Cummings

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Society and Civilization

The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself.
Robert Ingersoll

We should try to create the society each of us would want if we didn't know in advance who we'd be.
Paul Krugman

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
Noam Chomsky

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

The basis of a democratic state is liberty.

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
George Bernard Shaw (who was born in Ireland)

When the axe came into the woods, many of the trees said, "At least the handle is one of us"

That's why they call it the American Dream - because you have to be asleep to believe it.
George Carlin

I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.
Stephen Jay Gould

Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

The more you own, the more it owns you.
Henry Rollins

Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
Thomas Huxley

A tyrant is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.
Jack Handey

Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's the exact opposite.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.
Jimi Hendrix

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
Mark Twain

If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Man can now fly in the air like a bird, swim under the ocean like a fish, he can burrow into the ground like a mole. Now if only he could walk the Earth like a man...
Tommy Douglas

Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony...You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!...I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!
Dennis (age 37)

Man is a biped without feathers.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Fight war, not wars.


A knight who says "Ni"

I told him to be fruitful and multiply, but not in those words.
Woody Allen

Science is interesting, and if you don't agree you can fuck off.
Richard Dawkins (paraphrasing Alun Anderson)

Laurie got offended that I used the word "puke." But to me, that's what her dinner tasted like.
Jack Handey

...he stumbled without dignity over the polysyllables.
CS Forester, on midshipman Hornblower

Bollocks bollocks bollocks.
Ricky Gervais

I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.
Groucho Marx

He behaves like a hastily edited charicature of himself.
A journalist in a dream I once had, about a newspaper magnate making a political bid

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
Mark Twain

I've been called worse things by better people.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau

It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.
Nancy Pelosi, having ripped up another's speech

[The University of Chicago] can take a flying fuck at the moooooooooooooooon.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr

If all the ladies [of Harvard University] were laid end-to-end, I wouldn't be surprised.
Dorothy Parker

He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.
Forrest Tucker

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
Oscar Wilde

Dennis Skinner: Half the Tory members opposite are crooks.
Speaker: The honourable member MUST withdraw that remark.
Dennis Skinner: OK, half the Tory members aren't crooks.

Lady Astor: If you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee.
Winston Churchill: If I were your husband, I would drink it.

Earl of Sandwich: You will die either of the pox or on the gallows.
John Wilkes: That will depend on whether I embrace your mistress or your principles.

[He is] a modest little person, with much to be modest about.
Winston Churchill

I wouldn't warm to [Chuck Berry] even if I was cremated next to him.
Keith Richards

My days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.
Captain Malcolm Reynolds (from Firefly)

To Captain Bender, he's the best... at being a big jerk who's stupid and his big ugly face is as dumb as a butt!
Philip J. Fry (from Futurama)

You sack of bags of buckets of idiots!
Professor Farnsworth (from Futurama)

The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it's still on the list.

If you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox.
Christopher Hitchens

He's as bent as the Soviet sickle and as hard as the hammer that crosses it.
Turkish (from Snatch)

Ugarte: You despise me, don't you?
Rick: If I gave you any thought, I probably would.
(from Casablanca)


The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection; the water has no mind to receive their image.
Zenrin poem

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.
R. Buckminster Fuller

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
John Lennon

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
Mark Twain

One: The food in this place is really terrible. Other one: Yeah, I know; and such small portions. Picture a wave. In the ocean. You can see it, measure it, its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it passes through. And it's there. And you can see it, you know what it is. It's a wave. And then it crashes in the shore and it's gone. But the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be, for a little while. ... the wave returns to the ocean, where it came from and where it's supposed to be.
Chidi Anagonye, The Good Place

Don't try to be a great man; just be a man.
Zefram Cochrane, inventor of warp drive

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon.
Thomas Henry Huxley

The truth is that there is nothing noble in being superior to somebody else. The only real nobility is in being superior to your former self.
Whitney Young (Ernest Hemmingway said something almost identical)

[they] who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Deserve's got nothing to do with it.
Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, on academia.

It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.
Han Solo in Star Wars.

The dog barks, but the caravan goes on.
Arab proverb

On peut avoir un feu ardent dans l'âme et cependant personne ne vient s'y chauffer. Les passants ne voient qu'un ruban de fumée s'échappant de la cheminée et ils passent leur chemin.
Vincent Van Gogh

Cogito ergo sum
Rene Descartes

Memento mori, Sisyphus.
The Universe, to you

To you from failing hands we throw the torch.
John McCrae (originally)
Humans, to robots (eventually)

For all your days be prepared, and meet them ever alike. When you are the anvil, bear -- when you are the hammer, strike.
Edwin Markham

Not on one string are all life's jewels strung.
William Morris

If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it.
Herman Melville (paraphrased)

Life is a cement trampoline.
Howard Nordberg

Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do!
Groucho Marx (attributed last words)

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
Dr. Seuss

Time is the fire in which we burn.
Delmore Schwartz

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
Henry David Thoreau

Without [memory], time would be unarmed against us.
John Steinbeck (via Lee in East of Eden)

A man cannot step in the same river twice, because it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. ... Time to die.
Roy Batty

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Live long and prosper.
Leonard Nimoy

Like a wave from an ocean.
Alan Watts

Dust. Wind. Dude.
Ted Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq.

The Universe

The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
Albert Einstein

We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about 'and'.
Sir Arthur Eddington

Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.
Stephen Hawking (perhaps)

Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once.
Woody Allen (perhaps)

I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
Neil Armstrong

Considering the marvelous complexity of our universe, its clockwork perfection, its balances of this against that... matter, energy, gravitation, time, dimension, pattern, I believe our existence must mean more than a meaningless illusion. I prefer to believe that my and your existence goes beyond Euclidian and other "practical" measuring systems... and that, in ways we cannot yet fathom, our existence is part of a reality beyond what we understand now as reality.
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.
Stanley Kubrick

It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
Carl Sagan

We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
Carl Sagan

eπ i = cos π + i sin π = -1
Leonhard Euler

It's not hard to imagine an 11-dimensional universe. Just imagine an n-dimensional universe, then let n=11.

These go to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel, perhaps about M-Theory

The sun sees not the shadow.
Leonardo da Vinci

E pur si muove!
Galileo Galilei (allegedly)

and Everything else

Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
Douglas Adams

La foi transporte les montagnes, c'est vrai. La raison les laisse où elles sont, c'est mieux.
Pierre Bourgault

If triangles had a god, he would have three sides.

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
Kurt Vonnegut

I had no need of that hypothesis.
Pierre-Simon Laplace (apparently apocryphal)

To one, science is an exalted goddess; to another it is a cow which provides him with butter.
Friedrich von Schiller

We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are.
Anais Nin

If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong though. It's Hambone.
Jack Handey

Never use a large word where a diminutive one would suffice.

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
Frank Zappa

English can be weird. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.

You have beautiful thighs.
A Hungarian

Crumbly, but good.
Carl Sagan

Goo goo ga joob.
John Lennon

U.P.: up.
James Joyce

Well it's certainly uncontaminated by cheese.
John Cleese

Calculus has its limits.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
A.T. Shirt

There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't.
The Internet

There are two types of people in this world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
The Internet

99.9% of humans have more than the average number of arms.
Kingrames (

99% of politicians give the rest a bad name.

What has four letters, sometimes nine, and never five.

Possessio is nine tenths of the word.
Chris Turner

I like Isaac Newton's calculus, but his notation is derivative.
Nicholas Rudzicz, apparently

Q: Do you have the time?
A: You don't have time; time has you.
Frank Rudzicz

When all the world is past, and I can't remember the days, I will still love you.
Daughter, age 3

When people are mean to me, my heart will never get broken, because you're inside it
Daughter, age 6

So it goes.
Kurt Vonnegut