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Quotes 1996

"I believe that angels are invented to fulfill certain needs, and usually those needs are the failures of the people who find it necessary to invent them."
Alison Baker, Loving Wanda Beaver


"...the four stages of response to any new and revolutionary development:"

  1. It's crazy!
  2. It may be possible -- so what?
  3. I said it was a good idea all along.
  4. I thought of it first.

Arthur C. Clarke, Frontline Of Discovery


"In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."
"God's Utility Function", Scientific American, November 1995


"...madness is just a strategy, a way of coming to terms with a crazy world. That the people we call mad are really too sane, so much so that the rest of us drive them mad."
Michael Dibdin, The Tryst


"Panta bellenike estin emoi"
Laurie R. King, With Child


"When everyone is somebody, then no one's anybody."
Colin Dexter, The Service Of All The Dead


Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face
Alanis Morissette, Ironic


"...people live in their heads a great deal, because there are only fleeting moments when reality is as good as what you can make up."
Kate Ross


"...in the end our truest opinions are not the ones we have never changed, but those to which we have most often returned."
Cathleen Schine, Rameau's Niece


"He will never forgive me. He quotes things out of love and excitement, like a boy rattling a box of shiny pebbles, opening and closing it, then opening it again. I've insulted his pretty stones. I threw them in the river."
Cathleen Schine, Rameau's Niece


"Whether the water is fresh or salty, turds rise to the top."
Michael Dibdin, RatKing


"...the vast majority of people who are untrained can accept the results of science only on authority. But there is obviously an important difference between an establishment that is open and invites every one to come, study its methods, and suggest improvement, and one that regards the questioning of its credentials as due to wickedness of heart... [as] those who question the infallibility of the Bible... Rational science treats its credit notes as always redeemable on demand, while non-rational authoritarianism regards the demand for the redemption of its paper as a disloyal lack of faith."
Morris Cohen
Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World


"Great Lies of Management"

  1. Employees are our most valuable asset.
  2. I have an open-door policy.
  3. You could earn more money under the new plan.
  4. We're reorganizing to better serve our customers.
  5. The future is bright.
  6. We reward risk-takers.
  7. Performance will be rewarded.
  8. We don't shoot the messenger.
  9. Training is a high priority.
  10. I haven't heard any rumors.
  11. We'll review your performance in six months.
  12. Our people are the best.
  13. Your input is important to us.

Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle


"If a document is over two pages long, few people will ever read it. And those who do read it won't remember it in twenty-four hours. That's why all your documents should be over two pages long. You don't want your readers to be influenced by a bunch of facts. You want them to look at your creative use of fonts, your brilliant application of white space, and your inspired graphics. Good formatting leaves the reader with the clear impression that you are a genius and therefore whatever you're writing about must be a good idea."
Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle


"Management, when faced with a management problem, having no clue what to do, but feeling that they should be doing SOMETHING, always seems to resort to the dreaded DATABASE. Of course, they have no strategic plans for actually USING the database, but the activity of putting one together seems to keep them occupied and out of the engineers' hair (for a while).

The first memo explains how the new database will solve all our problems.

The next memo explains that the database is a major corporate undertaking and will require the cooperation of everyone to shape the vision of the future.

The next few memos explain that the database is still in progress and is looking better and better.

The next memos provide example outputs of what the database will provide, with a disclaimer noting that the data are not yet complete enough to provide meaningful results.

More memos explain that the data collection is taking longer than expected, because engineers are not providing their inputs in a timely manner.

The engineers continue to ignore all the memos and chastising.

Eventually, all goes quiet and the DATABASE fades into the sunset."
Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle


"A consultant is a person who takes your money and annoys your employees while tirelessly searching for the best way to extend the consulting contract."
Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle


In his Bostan, Saadi of Shiraz stated an important truth when he told this miniature tale:

A man met another, who was handsome, intelligent, and elegant. He asked him who he was. The other said: "I am the Devil."

"But you cannot be," said the first man, "for the Devil is evil and ugly."

"My friend," said Satan, "you have been listening to my detractors."
Idries Shah Reflections
James Burke / Robert Ornstein, The Axemaker's Gift


"...ain't no problem at all keepin' peace in the family, just so long's you don't ever make the mistake of tryin' to get 'em all together."
Aaron Elkins, Old Bones


At work, I was constantly fending off comments by a particular copywriter.

"Legs!" he'd shout. "Look at those gams!" Whereupon everyone in earshot would stick their heads out their doors and look.

No matter what I wore -- a snowsuit would not have stopped him -- he continued to amuse himself.

One day, I stepped into a packed elevator and noticed him standing in the corner. After casting a long look at him, I couldn't resist casually remarking, "Nice penis." All eyes immediately went to the previously described region.

Let's just say that, from that point on, my legs were no longer a topic of conversation in the hallways.
Amy Alkon / Caroline Johnson / Marlow Minnick, Free Advice


"I'm interested in alien philosophies," Nikolai said. "The answers of other species to the great questions of existence."

"But there is only one central question," the alien said.

"We have pursued its answer from star to star. We were hoping that you would help us answer it."

Nikolai was cautious. "What is the question?"

"'What is it you have that we want?'"
Bruce Sterling, Crystal Express


"...it's really awkward, even unnerving, when your gynecologist is good-looking. ... How weird would it be to go out on a first date with a guy who has already stared at your sex organs with a flashlight?"
Sparkle Hayter, Nice Girls Finish Last


"...When a guy [gynecologist] is good-looking, it's a fine line between a gynecological exam and what is known on the street as a good fisting."
Sparkle Hayter, Nice Girls Finish Last


"The Net is a great source of headlines if you don't care for accuracy."
Johan Helsingius
Jessie Scanlon, Wired, November 1996
[Responding to the sensationalistic journalism that led him to shut down his anonymous re-mailer service anon.penet.fi.]


"...it's only a small step between the great and the small, the tender and the contemptuous, the sublime and the ridiculous, the aggressive and the humble, the master and the slave, the paradise and the hell."
Rachel Perez, "Ilene"
Claire Baeder, La Domme


"...your insecurity is like a clever actor, it can mimic any emotion it choosesto and still be utterly convincing. But whether it pretends to be love or hate, the truth is that at the bottom it's just the fear of being alone."
Will Self, Grey Area


"You can't get any movement larger than five people without including at least one f#$%ing idiot."
Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars