Useless Quotes Vol IV (I - S)
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 95 19:16:05 PST
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Useless Quotes Vol IV (I - S)
[Feel free to send me credits for the uncredited (or miscredited) quotes here.
Oh, and yes, I no longer deny being the originator of "give me libertines or
give me meth," I just point out that it was a long time ago and there were more
libertines around back then... -psl]
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (Henry Cate)
It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have
been searching for evidence which could support this.
-- Bertrand Russell
It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.
I thought you were trying to get into shape?
I am. The shape I've selected is a triangle.
It is against the grain of modern education to teach children to
program. What fun is there in making plans, acquiring discipline in
organizing thoughts, devoting attention to detail, and learning to be
-- Alan Perlis
It is against the law for a monster to enter the corporate limits of
It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both
incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by
twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.
-- Rod Serling
It is easier to write an incorrect program than understand a correct one.
It is illegal to drive more than two thousand sheep down Hollywood
Boulevard at one time.
It is illegal to say "Oh, Boy" in Jonesboro, Georgia.
It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not
desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off.
-- Woody Allen
It is not true that life is one damn thing after another -- it's one
damn thing over and over.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay
It is Texas law that when two trains meet each other at a railroad
crossing, each shall come to a full stop, and neither shall proceed
until the other has gone.
It is the business of the future to be dangerous.
It may be that your whole purpose in life is simply
to serve as a warning to others.
...I told my doctor I got all the exercise I needed being a
pallbearer for all my friends who run and do exercises!"
-- Winston Churchill
I took a course in speed reading and was able to read War and Peace in
twenty minutes. It's about Russia.
-- Woody Allen
It's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for.
It's easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
It's illegal in Wilbur, Washington, to ride an ugly horse.
It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
-- Walt Disney
It's lucky you're going so slowly, because you're going in the wrong
It's men like him that give the Y chromosome a bad name.
It's not enough to be Hungarian; you must have talent too.
-- Alexander Korda
It's not that I'm afraid to die,
I just don't want to be there when it happens.
-- Woody Allen.
It's odd, and a little unsettling, to reflect upon the fact that
English is the only major language in which "I" is capitalized; in many
other languages "You" is capitalized and the "i" is lower case.
-- Sydney J. Harris
It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
It's so stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the
Devil when he is the only explanation of it.
It's the opinion of some that crops could be grown on the moon. Which
raises the fear that it may not be long before we're paying somebody not to.
-- Franklin P. Jones
It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I
couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
It was a Roman who said it was sweet to die for one's country. The Greeks
never said it was sweet to die for anything. They had no vital lies.
-- Edith Hamilton, "The Greek Way"
It was a virgin forest, a place where the Hand of Man had never set foot.
It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing
warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or
two things still safe to eat.
-- Robert Fuoss
I used to get high on life but lately I've built up a resistance.
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.
I've enjoyed just about as much of this as I can stand.
I've found that it's not good to talk about your troubles. Eighty
percent of the people who hear them don't care and the other twenty
percent are glad you're having trouble.
--- Tommy LaSorda
I've given up reading books; I find it takes my mind off myself.
I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.
-- Groucho Marx
I've known him as a man, as an adolescent and as a child --
sometimes on the same day.
Ivensky: "My grandfather was a pole." Woody: "North or South?"
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know.
-- Mark Twain
I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending
their lives doing things they detest to make money they don't want to
buy things they don't need to impress people they dislike.
-- Emile Henry Gauvreay
I wouldn't belong to any club that would have me as a member.
-- Groucho Marx
Join in the new game that's sweeping the country. It's called "Bureaucracy".
Everybody stands in a circle. The first person to do anything loses.
Jones's First Law:
Anyone who makes a significant contribution to any field of
endeavor, and stays in that field long enough, becomes an
obstruction to its progress -- in direct proportion to the
importance of their original contribution.
Just about every computer on the market today runs Unix, except the Mac
(and nobody cares about it).
-- Bill Joy 6/21/85
Just because your doctor has a name for your condition doesn't mean he
knows what it is.
Kansas state law requires pedestrians crossing the highways at night to
wear tail lights.
Man and nations will act rationally when all other
possibilities have been exhausted.
Kirkland, Illinois, law forbids bees to fly over the village or through
any of its streets.
Kiss me twice. I'm schizophrenic.
Last week a cop stopped me in my car. He asked me if I had a police record.
I said, no, but I have the new DEVO album. Cops have no sense of humor.
Laws of Serendipity:
(1) In order to discover anything, you must be looking for
(2) If you wish to make an improved product, you must already
be engaged in making an inferior one.
Lazlo's Chinese Relativity Axiom:
No matter how great your triumphs or how tragic your defeats --
approximately one billion Chinese couldn't care less.
Learn from the mistakes of others. You don't have time
to make them all yourself.
Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.
Let's just be friends and make no special effort to ever
see each other again.
Lewis's Law of Travel:
The first piece of luggage out of the chute doesn't belong to
Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.
-- Harry Emerson Fosdick
Life is too important to take seriously.
-- Corky Siegel
Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code.
Line Printer paper is strongest at the perforations.
Living in Hollywood is like living in a bowl of granola. What ain't
fruits and nuts is flakes.
Living on Earth may be expensive, but it includes an annual free trip
around the Sun.
Living your life is a task so difficult, it has never been attempted
Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these
interest rates, we don't need it."
Lockwood's Long Shot:
The chances of getting eaten up by a lion on Main Street aren't
one in a million, but once would be enough.
Love does not consist in gazing at each other,
but in looking together in the same direction.
--- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing;
a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.
Love thy neighbor as thyself, but choose your neighborhood.
-- Louise Beal
Luck: when preparation and opportunity meet.
-- Pierre Trudeau
If the facts don't conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
(1) The bigger the theory, the better.
(2) The experiment may be considered a success if no more than
50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to
obtain a correspondence with the theory.
For every action there is an equal and opposite government program.
Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the
only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.
-- Wernher von Braun
A unit of documentation. There are always three or more on a
given item. One is on the shelf; someone has the others. The
information you need in in the others.
-- Ray Simard
Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will
pick himself up and continue.
Many an optimist has become rich by buying out a pessimist
Mark's Dental-Chair Discovery:
Dentists are incapable of asking questions that require a
simple yes or no answer.
Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them they
translate into their own language, and forthwith it is something
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt
Maturity is only a short break in adolescence.
-- Jules Feiffer
Maybe I was holding all the aces, but what was the game?
Maybe you can't buy happiness, but these days you can certainly charge it.
Mayor Vincent J. `Buddy' Cianci on the ACLU's suit to have a city
nativity scene removed:
"They're just jealous because they don't have three wise men
and a virgin in the whole organization."
May you have an interesting life.
-- chinese curse.
Measure twice, cut once.
Measure with a micrometer. Mark with chalk. Cut with an axe.
Mediocrity finds safety in standardization.
-- Frederick Crane
An assembly of people coming together to decide what person or
department not represented in the room must solve a problem.
MegaHertz: a VERY large car rental company
Men do not stumble over mountains, but over molehills.
Never trust a computer bigger than you can lift.
Might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of
Casablanca and the Germans have outlawed miracles.
Objects are lost because people look where they aren't
instead of where they are.
The amount of beauty required to launch one ship.
Minnie Mouse is a slow maze learner.
Minors in Kansas City, Missouri, are not allowed to purchase cap
pistols; they may buy shotguns freely, however.
Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays it insists on it.
-- Russell Baker
the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it.
Mohandas K. Gandhi often changed his mind publicly. An aide once asked him how
he could so freely contradict this week what he had said just last week. The
great man replied that it was because this week he knew better.
Mollison's Bureaucracy Hypothesis:
If an idea can survive a bureaucratic review and be implemented
it wasn't worth doing.
Monday is an awful way to spend one seventh of your life.
Money is the root of all evil, and man needs roots
Mr. Cole's Axiom:
The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the
population is growing.
Murphy's Law: Any thing that can go wrong, will.
Murphy's Law is recursive. Washing your car to make it rain doesn't work.
Murphy's Law of Research: Enough research will tend to support your theory.
Murphy's saving grace: The worst is the enemy of the bad.
Murphy's Second Law: Everything takes longer than you think.
Murphy's Seventh Law: Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
Murphy was an optimist.
My father was a creole, his father a Negro, and his father a monkey; my
family, it seems, begins where yours left off.
-- Alexandre Dumas
My mother loved children -- she would have given anything if I had been one.
-- Groucho Marx
My notion of a husband at forty is that a woman should be able to change him,
like a bank note, for two twenties.
My rule is to be true rather than funny. -- Bill Cosby
My strength is as the strength of ten because my code is pure.
My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated but not signed.
-- Christopher Morley
You can make it foolproof, but you can't make it damnfoolproof.
Nasrudin walked into a teahouse and declaimed, "The moon is more useful
than the sun." "Why?", he was asked. "Because at night we need the
Nasrudin was carrying home a piece of liver and the recipe for liver
pie. Suddenly a bird of prey swooped down and snatched the piece of
meat from his hand. As the bird flew off, Nasrudin called after it,
"Foolish bird! You have the liver, but what can you do with it without
Nature abhors a hero. For one thing, he violates the law of
conservation of energy. For another, how can it be the survival of the
fittest when the fittest keeps putting himself in situations where he
is most likely to be creamed?
-- Solomon Short
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's
character, give him power.
-- Abraham Lincoln
Never call a man a fool. Borrow from him.
Never feel self-pity, the most destructive emotion there is. How awful to be
caught up in the terrible squirrel cage of self.
-- Millicent Fenwick
Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry.
Never let lack of money interfere with having fun.
Never let your schooling interfere with your education.
Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.
-- Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"
Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.
-- Sam Brown, "The Washington Post", January 26, 1977
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. There might be a
law against it by that time.
Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle.
Never trust anyone who volunteers to assume authority.
Never try to outstubborn a cat.
-- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do
-- R. A. Heinlein
New Hampshire law forbids you to tap your feet, nod your head, or in
any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant, or cafe.
An "acceptable" level of unemployment means that the government
economist to whom it is acceptable still has a job.
Today the East German pole-vault champion became the West
German pole-vault champion.
New York is real. The rest is done with mirrors.
Next Friday will not be your lucky day. As a matter of fact, you don't
have a lucky day this year.
Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is really quite as satisfying
as an income tax refund.
-- F. J. Raymond
Nobody wants constructive criticism. It's all we can do to put up with
No experiment is ever a complete failure, inasmuch as a well-written account of
it can serve admirably as a bad example.
No matter what other nations may say about the United States,
immigration is still the sincerest form of flattery.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
No one gets too old to learn a new way of being stupid.
No self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped in that kind of paper.
-- Mike Royko on the Chicago Sun-Times after it was
taken over by Rupert Murdoch
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.
Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature.
Now, I know you're probably asking yourself, "Did he fire six shots,
or just five?" Well, in all this excitement, I clean forgot myself.
Now, since this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world,
and since it can blow your head clean off, the question you have to ask
yourself is "Do I feel lucky?" . . . Well, DO ya, punk?
-- Clint Eastwood's character in "Dirty Harry"
Now is the time for all good men to come to.
-- Walt Kelly
Of all forces acting on man, change is the most beneficial and the most cruel
Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.
Oh, I don't blame Congress. If I had $600 billion at my disposal, I'd
be irresponsible, too.
-- Lichty & Wagner
Oh, what tangled webs we weave
When we first practice to deceive.
-- Sir Walter Scott
OK, now let's look at four dimensions on the blackboard.
-- Dr. Joy
Old age is the most unexpected of things that can happen to a man.
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only
nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter
what it does.
-- Will Rogers
One difference between a man and a machine is that a machine is quiet
when well oiled.
One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.
One of life's little ironies is the fact that when you finally master
a tough job, you make it look easy
One of my less pleasant chores when I was young was to read the Bible
from one end to the other. Reading the Bible straight through is at
least 70 percent discipline, like learning Latin. But the good parts
are, of course, simply amazing. God is an extremely uneven writer, but
when He's good, nobody can touch Him.
-- John Gardner, NYT Book Review, Jan 1983
One of the greatest labor-saving inventions today is tomorrow.
One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to
do and always a clever thing to say.
-- Will Durant
One of the oldest problems puzzled over in the Talmud is: "Why did God
create goyim?" The generally accepted answer is "somebody has to buy
-- Arthur Naiman, "Every Goy's Guide to Yiddish"
One of the rules of Busmanship, New York style, is never surrender your seat to
another passenger. This may seem callous, but it is the best way, really. If
one passenger were to give a seat to someone who fainted in the aisle, say, the
others on the bus would become disoriented and imagine they were in Topeka
One Page Principle:
A specification that will not fit on one page of 8.5x11 inch
paper cannot be understood.
-- Mark Ardis
One promising concept that I came up with right away was that you could
manufacture personal air bags, then get a law passed requiring that they be
installed on congressmen to keep them from taking trips. Let's say your
congressman was trying to travel to Paris to do a fact-finding study on how the
French government handles diseases transmitted by sherbet. Just when he got to
the plane, his mandatory air bag, strapped around his waist, would inflate --
FWWAAAAAAPPPP -- thus rendering him too large to fit through the plane door.
It could also be rigged to inflate whenever the congressman proposed a law.
("Mr. Speaker, people ask me, why should October be designated as Cuticle
Inspection Month? And I answer that FWWAAAAAAPPPP.") This would save millions
of dollars, so I have no doubt that the public would violently support a law
requiring airbags on congressmen. The problem is that your potential market is
very small: there are only around 500 members of congress.
One reason why George Washington
Is held in such veneration:
He never blamed his problems
On the former Administration.
-- George O. Ludcke
One seldom sees a monument to a committee.
One who laughs, lasts.
One, with God, is always a majority, but many a martyr has been burned
at the stake while the votes were being counted.
-- Thomas B. Reed
The idea that a human being should always be accessible to a computer.
On Monday mornings I am dedicated to the proposition that all
men are created jerks.
-- H. Allen Smith, "Let the Crabgrass Grow"
Eighty billion gallons of water with no place to go on Saturday
Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry
is the study of carbon compounds that crawl.
-- Mike Adams
Osborn's Law: Variables won't; constants aren't.
Others will look to you for stability, so hide when you bite your nails.
Our policy is, when in doubt, do the right thing.
-- Roy L. Ash, ex-president Litton Industries
Ours is a world where people don't know what they want and
are willing to go through hell to get it.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend: and inside a dog,
it's too dark to read.
-- Groucho Marx
Overdrawn? But I still have checks left!
Over the years, I've developed my sense of deja vu so acutely that now
I can remember things that *have* happened before ...
(1) If someone says he will do something "without fail," he won't.
(2) The more people talk on the phone, the less money they make.
(3) People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.
(4) Pizza always burns the roof of your mouth.
Paranoia is simply an optimistic outlook on life.
Paranoid schizophrenics outnumber their enemies at least two to one.
Parkinson's First Law:
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
Parkinson's Second Law:
Expenditures rise to meet income.
Parkinson's Fourth Law:
The number of people in any working group tends to increase
regardless of the amount of work to be done.
Parkinson's Law of Committees:
The amount of time spent by a committee on an agenda item
is inversely proportional to the cost of the item.
Parkinson's Fifth Law:
If there is a way to delay in important decision, the good
bureaucracy, public or private, will find it.
Parkinson's XIIIth law:
Action expands to fill the void created by human failure.
Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.
-- Eric Hoffer
In international affairs, a period of cheating between two
periods of fighting.
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.
People often find it easier to be a result of the past than a cause of
People often mistakenly equate existence with need.
People think love is an emotion. Love is good sense.
-- Ken Kesey
People usually get what's coming to them ... unless it's been mailed.
People who are funny and smart and return phone calls get much better
press than people who are just funny and smart.
-- Howard Simons, "The Washington Post"
People who claim they don't let little things bother them have never
slept in a room with a single mosquito.
People who dream impossible dreams and strive to achieve them raise man's
stature a fraction of an inch in the process, whether they win or lose.
People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that
Benjamin Franklin said it first.
People will buy anything that's one to a customer.
People willingly believe what they wish.
-- Julius Caesar
Perfection is achieved only on the point of collapse.
--- C. N. Parkinson
Perfection is reached, not when there is no longer anything to add,
but when there is no longer anything to take away.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Philosopy: unintelligible answers to insoluble problems.
Pity the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
-- Don Marquis
Plato, by the way, wanted to banish all poets from his proposed Utopia
because they were liars. The truth was that Plato knew philosophers
couldn't compete successfully with poets.
-- Kilgore Trout (Philip J. Farmer) "Venus on the Half Shell"
Play Rogue, visit exotic locations, meet strange creatures and kill them.
Political T.V. commercials prove one thing: some candidates can tell
all their good points and qualifications in just 30 seconds.
Politicians are the same all over.
They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
-- Nikita Khrushchev
Politics is like coaching a football team. you have to be smart enough
to understand the game but not smart enough to lose interest.
The only narcotic regulated by the SEC instead of the FDA.
Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little
more time for dreaming.
-- J. P. McEvoy
Pray for a computer crash. It won't be ready in time.
Predestination was doomed from the start.
President Reagan has noted that there are too many economic pundits and
forecasters and has decided on an excess prophets tax.
Pretty much all the honest truth telling there is in the world is done by
Professor Gorden Newell threw another shutout in last week's Chem.
Eng. 130 midterm. Once again no student received a single point on
his exam. Newell has now tossed 5 shutouts this quarter. Newell's
earned exam average has now dropped to a phenomenal 30%
Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capability of
the programmer who must maintain it.
Programming errors which would normally require one day to find will take five
days when the programmer is in a hurry.
Progress is made by lazy men looking for an easier way to do things.
-- Lazarus Long
Pro is to con as progress is to Congress.
Pure drivel tends to drive ordinary drivel off the TV screen.
Pushing 40 is exercise enough.
Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.
Technology is dominated by two types of people:
Those who understand what they do not manage.
Those who manage what they do not understand.
Put your brain in gear before starting your mouth.
Q: Do you know what the death rate around here is?
A: One per person.
Q: How did you get into artificial intelligence?
A: Seemed logical -- I didn't have any real intelligence.
Q: How many journalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Three. One to report it as an inspired government program to bring
light to the people, one to report it as a diabolical government
plot to deprive the poor of darkness, and one to win a pulitzer
prize for reporting that Electric Company hired a lightbulb
assassin to break the bulb in the first place.
Q: Why do mountain climbers rope themselves together?
A: To prevent the sensible ones from going home.
Quality Control, n.:
The process of testing one out of every 1,000 units coming off
a production line to make sure that at least one out of 100
Whoever has any authority over you, no matter how small, will
atttempt to use it.
Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.
Raising pet electric eels is gaining a lot of current popularity.
Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of
Congress. But I repeat myself.
-- Mark Twain
Reading is thinking with someone else's head instead of one's own.
Reality is for those who can't face Science Fiction.
Reality is just a figment of your imagination.
Really?? What a coincidence, I'm shallow too!!
Real Time, adj.:
Here and now, as opposed to fake time, which only occurs there and then.
Real Users are afraid they'll break the machine -- but they're never
afraid to break your face.
Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your
program doesn't deliver it.
Real Users never use the Help key.
Reisner's Rule of Conceptual Inertia:
If you think big enough, you'll never have to do it.
Remember there's an if in the middle of life.
Republicans consume three-fourths of the rutabaga produced in this
country. The remainder is thrown out.
Republicans sleep in twin beds -- some even in separate rooms.
That is why there are more Democrats.
-- The Official Rules, as compiled by Paul Dickson
Republicans tend to keep their shades drawn, although there is seldom
any reason why they should. Democrats ought to, but don't.
Rocky's Lemma of Innovation Prevention
Unless the results are known in advance, funding agencies will
reject the proposal.
Rule of Defactualization:
Information deteriorates upward through bureaucracies.
Rules for driving in New York:
(1) Anything done while honking your horn is legal.
(2) You may park anywhere if you turn your four-way flashers on.
(3) A red light means the next six cars may go through the
San Francisco isn't what it used to be, and it never was.
-- Herb Caen
Schizophrenia beats being alone.
© 1995 Peter Langston