Updated 2022-05-16

“You’re a terrible man! Get away from me!”
– Chilkat, at home, to snaotheus, 2022-05-16

“Nowadays, however, nobody bothered to remember many facts…Living men memorized nothing but processes, throwing out obsolete ones for new ones as invention made it necessary. When they needed facts, they asked the machines.”
– Narrative from Earthman, Come Home, by James Blish, published in 1955

“I like to believe that people can be swayed by evidence, despite the evidence to the contrary.”
– Me, in a conversation with a colleague, August 2021

“His judgment consequently is too correct. This may not be understood, — but the old Goths of Germany would have understood it, who used to debate matters of importance to their State twice, once when drunk, and once when sober — sober that they might not be deficient in formality — drunk lest they should be destitute of vigor.”
– Edgar Allan Poe, in “A Letter to B___”

“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert.”
J. Robert Oppenheimer, encountered in the introduction to Cities in Flight by James Blish.

“Life is far more interesting than it needs to be, because the forces that guide it are not merely practical.”
David Rothenberg, encountered in the book How Music Works by David Byrne

“Logic and truth are two very different things, but they often look the same to the mind that’s performing the logic.”
– Theodore Sturgeon in More Than Human

“Opinions were like kittens, I was giving them away.”
– Modest Mouse – Out of Gas

“This fits like clothes made of wasps.”
– Modest Mouse – Parting of the Sensory

“Difficult times deserve an honest pint.”
– Evan Manvel, on Oregon’s law requiring bars to serve full pints

“I come in strong when I’m in the behind.”
– E-Dubs

“You know that behind our buffoonish posturings we are nothing but real buffoons, that behind the joke there is dreadful gravity, and behind the gravity is a grave idiot.”
– From Danton’s final speech/poem/proem in Algorithm by Jean Mark Gawron

“Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays…What do we do all day? Eat, watch TV, and prepare to shop. We fill our faces, then lull ourselves into a suggestible state until it’s time to nosh again.”
– Mara, in Diesel Sweeties

“The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don’t have it.”
George Bernard Shaw

“The only thing you ever gave was bad directions. I’d say it to your face but I can’t find you.”
The Verve PipeThe Verve Pipe – Headlines

“Honesty is the most subversive of all disguises.”
T-Bone BurnettThe True False Identity – Hollywood, Mecca of the Movies

“As graceful as a cow is not.”
– One way or another, through Monocular Ben

“Half drunk half the time, and I’m all drunk the rest.”
Tom WaitsForeign Affairs – A Sight for Sore Eyes

“Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil, that’s just God when he’s drunk.”
Tom WaitsHeartattack and VineHeartattack and Vine

“When you sit down to code, normally you have some idea of the shape of the solution you want to implement, and it seems to me that a large portion of getting that solution written is being so stubborn and unable to give up on that idea that your willpower literally bends the electrons in the computer to your will making little slaves of them.”
Monocular Ben

I’m becoming quite a hardened criminal, he thought with pride.”
– Martin Padway, in Lest Darkness Fall, by L. Sprague de Camp

“…they regarded him as something of a monster, but a well-behaved monster whom it might be useful to know.”
– From narrative in Lest Darkness Fall, by L. Sprague de Camp

“See to it that [the citizens] have jobs, that their garbage is collected regularly, and that the communications media are under your control. Then you can become a pretty effective dictator yourself, even in a democracy…”
– Cyrus S. Cobb, in Colony, by Ben Bova

“I did a lot today. That is, I did something. The only thing I have ever done. I pressed a button. It took the entire will power, the accumulated strength of my entire existence, to press one damned OFF button.”
– George Orr, in The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin

“…a machine is more blameless, more sinless even than any animal. It has no intentions whatsoever but our own.”
– Narrative from The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin

“…it was so large, so useless, and so ugly as to be, to the American eye, invisible.”
– Narrative from The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin

It’s enhuging, he thought. It seemed to grow reddish as it brightened. It enreddenhuged.”
– George Orr, in The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin

“It had always rained in western Oregon, but now it rained ceaselessly, steadily, tepidly. It was like living in a downpour of warm soup, forever.”
– Narrative from The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin

“The ability to think rationally is pretty rare, even in prestigious universities.”
– Sangamon Taylor, in Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller, by Neal Stephenson

“What makes Americans so proud of their ignorance? They act as though their ignorance somehow made them charming.”
– Dr. Helen Dole, in Hocus Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“…Prepare for failure rather than success, since failure is the main thing that is going to happen to [you].”
– Narrative from Hocus Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“Profanity and obscenity entitle people who don’t want unpleasant information to close their ears and eyes to you.”
– Narrative from Hocus Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

“…wraps around you like a nymphomaniacal gymnast.”
– Narrative from Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

“If she screws up this delivery, that means she’s double-crossing God, who may or may not exist, and in any case who is capable of forgiveness. The Mafia definitely exists and hews to a higher standard of obedience.”
– Narrative from Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

“99% of what goes on in most Christian churches has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Intelligent people all notice this sooner or later, and they conclude that the entire 100% is bullshit, which is why atheism is connected with being intelligent in people’s minds.”
– Juanita Marquez, in Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

“BMW drivers take evasive action at the drop of a hat, emulating the drivers in the BMW advertisements — this is how they convince themselves they didn’t get ripped off.”
– Narrative from Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

“The thing they don’t tell you about coffins in the literature, because frankly it’s not much of a selling point to the people who are buying them, is just how comfortable they are.”
– Narrative from Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

“The human race is divided politically into one wise man, nine knaves, and ninety fools out of every hundred.”
– From The Book of Merlyn by T. H. White (personally, I think it’s optimistic by at least an order of magnitude)

“The classic example is a case in which two inventors claim the invention of a fine-tooth comb, and the patent is eventually awarded to the second man, who was demonstrably later in development, because at some earlier date he had once built a picket fence which could be described in some of the same terms as a fine-tooth comb.”
– Explanation of problems with the U.S. patent process, from Man of High Fidelity: Edwin Howard Armstrong by Lawrence Lessing

“Consciousness, it seemed, formed a deadly trap, in that one could enter it, but never leave.”
– Narrative from The Cyberiad, by Stanislaw Lem

“Such was my fright upon hearing this reply, that I was quite unable to continue the interrogation until Klapaucius returned and reduced the EMF (epistemotive force) to one billionth of its voltage by adjusting the theostats.”
– From Altruizine, in The Cyberiad, by Stanislaw Lem

“[Compose a poem about] love and tensor algebra? Have you taken leave of your senses?”
– Trurl to Klapaucius, in The First Sally (A) of The Cyberiad, by Stanislaw Lem

“Give a man a fire and he’s warm for the day. But set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”
Terry Pratchett, somewhere or other in one of his numerous Discworld books

“The iPhone can’t travel through time?”
Of course not!
“Then why is Steve Jobs so smug about it?”
“He’s an asshole!”

“If you think anyone is sane you just don’t know enough about them.”
– Tucker Case, in The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore

“Winter denial: therein lay the key to California Schadenfreude — the secret joy that the rest of the country feels at the misfortune of California. The country said: ‘Look at them, with their fitness and their tans, their beaches and their movie stars, their Silicon Valley and silicone breasts, their orange bridge and their palm trees. God, I hate those smug, sunshiny bastards!’ Because if you’re up to your navel in a snowdrift in Ohio, nothing warms your heart like the sight of California on fire. If you’re shoveling silt out of your basement in the Fargo flood zone, nothing brightens your day like watching a Malibu mansion tumbling down a cliff into the sea. And if a tornado just peppered the land around your Oklahoma town with random trailer trash and redneck nuggets, then you can find a quantum of solace in the fact that the earth actually opened up in the San Fernando Valley and swallowed a whole caravan of commuting SUVs.”
– Narrative in The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore

“Why do you think it’s cynical to recognize obvious disparity and oppression? Because it makes your optimism seem ridiculous?”
Boy on a Stick and Slither

“I like a lot of beers that I have at Old Chicago, but I can never remember any of their names because I get too drunk.”
– Northwood

“If we were to pass an 11th commandment, in twenty years people would be shocked to learn that there had once been only ten, and wouldn’t care that there had been.”
T-Bone Burnett – Every Time I Feel the Shift

“Kolya explained that the hedgehog was not his; that he was out for a walk with a schoolfellow, Kostya Lebedyev, who had stayed in the street and was too shy to come in, because he was carrying a hatchet; that they had just bought the hedgehog and the hatchet from a peasant they had met. The peasant had sold them the hedgehog for fifty kopecks, and they had persuaded him to sell the hatchet, too, because ‘he might just as well,’ and it was a very good hatchet…then it had suddenly appeared that the hedgehog was not theirs at all, but belonged to another, a third boy, called Petrov, who had given the two of them money to buy Schlosser’s ‘History’ for him from a fourth boy….but they hadn’t been able to resist buying the hedgehog, so that it followed that the hedgehog and the hatchet belonged to the third boy, to whom they were carrying them instead of Schlosser’s ‘History.'”
– Narrative from The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“For that man I’d give not money alone, but, so to say, my life….But no, I don’t want to exaggerate, not my life, but if it were a case of fever, an abscess, or even a cough, I’d be ready to bear it for him, I really would.”
– Lukyan Timofeyovitch Lebedyev, in The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“What good is an Abraham Lincoln-Hitler without laser eyes? And mind control powers?”
– Billy from Evil Josh and Billy

“No one’s going to really be free until nerd persecution ends.”
– Gilbert, in Revenge of the Nerds

“What is history but a fable agreed upon?”
– Napolean Bonaparte

“Z as in Xylophone.”
– A Circuit City employee verifying the letter “Z” phonetically. I corrected her.

“I’m trying to drink away the part of the day that I cannot sleep away.”
Modest Mouse – Polar Opposites

“There’s so many fish in the sea
And they all look like me
I’m just a little tiny fish, that’s all I’ll ever be.”
Reel Big Fish – I’m Cool

Setting: After a night out drinking, the following conversation occurred between our couple friends:
Girl, who hadn’t had that much to drink: “Well, I guess I’m driving then.”
Guy, who had had that much to drink, with remarkable volume and exaggerated diction: “No, you’re driving!”

“I’m two steps ahead of you, and both of them are whiskey.”
Mara, again, from Diesel Sweeties

“It’s nice not to feel like a monkey fucking a football.”

“You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. What I want to say to you, is that I, in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by, my leadership in Washington. I feel like, despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration. I would hope, from time to time, that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself.”
Harry Taylor, to President Bush, who took it surprisingly well

“What do they think they’re doing? Don’t they know I’m supercharged?”
KrisDi’s mom, toward drivers who try to overtake her

KrisDi’s mom, toward another driver

“The stars are not for man.”
Karellen, in Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke

“[His] father had been a charming but somewhat feckless Scot, who had made a considerable name for himself as a professional magician. His death at the early age of forty-five had been brought about by the excessive consumption of his country’s most famous product. Though [he] had never seen his father drunk, he was not sure if he had ever seen him sober.”
Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke

“Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.”
The Wizard of Oz

“I recognize this place! This is where I always get lost!”

“Sometimes I wonder how you will maim yourself again. Then you tell me beforehand.”
Djiboutian Phoenix – A conversation with snaotheus

“If it takes shit to make bliss well then I feel pretty blissfully”
Modest Mouse – The View

“Do you believe what you’re saying? Yeah right now, but not that often.”
Modest Mouse – Satin in a Coffin

“We were done, done, done with all the fuck, fuck, fuckin’ around.”
Modest Mouse – Black Cadillacs

“Where do you move when what you’re moving from is yourself?”
Modest Mouse – Never Ending Math Equation

“Here’s the man with teeth like God’s shoeshine; he sparkles, shimmers, shines.”
Modest Mouse – Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine

“I got mine but I want more.”
Modest Mouse – Cowboy Dan

“Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?”
Flaming Lips – Do You Realize?

“The laws of man are not the laws of heaven.”
David Byrne – The Gates of Paradise

“Every time you try to be a decent person you fuck yourself in the ass.”

“Fun is not a crime unless you’re operating a motor vehicle.”
Maura (from Diesel Sweeties)

“Sometimes, I think I’m wasting my time online. Other times, I find out about butt breathing turtles.”

“I love dead. Hate living!”
Frankenstein – Bride of Frankenstein

“Sometimes I think I’m the only one who thinks that going nowhere’s like giving up.”
Less Than Jake – Al’s War

“Talking is like masturbating without the mess.”
Our Lady Peace – Happiness and the Fish

“When you live in the past, there’s one thing that will last: Resentment that time won’t stand still.”
Butch Walker – Sycamore Meadows – A Song for the Metalheads

“To want and to try is the difference why some people will walk and some run.”
Butch Walker – Sycamore Meadows – A Song for the Metalheads

“I’ve been known to wear a fine black suit and a murder of a tie.”
The Horrible Crows – Go Tell Everybody

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