City of Quotes

"Widgets are recursive"

"Den Tod erlebt man nicht" Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Perfect awareness might exist in heaven or hell, but not in the human world" from The Lake by Yasunari Kawabata (1954)

Difficulty with users

The designer is not responsible for the problems that arise. However, it is true that users will exhibit certain undesirable behavior that that the designer has to accept.

The Network Nation: Human Communication Via Computer (Paperback) by Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff (Paperback - Jun 1993) page 322, The MIT Press, ISBN 0262581205.


A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by
the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated
and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity
at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked
and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second
Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative.

-- The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution 
   C.P. Snow (1959 Rede Lecture)


The Name of The Arnold Chrysler

Think Feynman

Indeed, for those who have read Feynman's books, a good way to try to
think clearly about evidence and explanation is to ask "What would
Feynman do?"

- Edward W. Tufte: "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint", Graphics Press, Sept. 2003.

Tea Life, Tea Mind

A disciple of Sen Rikyu once asked this question:

'What precisely are the most important things that must be understood and kept in mind at a tea gathering?'

Sen Rikyu answered: 'Make a delicious bowl of tea; lay the charcoal so that it heats the water; arrange the flowers as they are in the field; in summer suggest coolness; in winter, warmth; do everything ahead of time; prepare for rain; and give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.'

The disciple, somewhat dissatisfied with this answer because he could not find anything in it of such great importance that it should be deemed a secret of the practice, said, 'That much I already know....'

Rikyu replied, 'Then if you can host a tea gathering without deviating from any of the rules I have just stated, I will become your disciple.'"

-- Soshitsu Sen XV, Tea Master, Urasenke School in "Tea Life, Tea Mind"

VR, Taiji and the Way of Tea

Look harder! After all we don't even know where "real life" is lived
nowadays, or what it is, and what name it goes by. Leave us to
ourselves, without our books, and at once we get into a muddle and
lose our way -- we don't even know whose side to be on or where to
give our allegiance, what to love and what to hate, what to respect
and what to despise. We even find it difficult to be human beings, men
with real flesh and blood of our own; we are ashamed of it, we think
it a disgrace, and we are always striving to be some unprecedented
kind of generalized human being. We are born dead, and moreover we
have long ceased to be the sons of living fathers; we become more and
more contented with our condition. We are acquiring a taste for
it. Soon we shall invent a method of being born from an idea.  But
that's enough; I shall write no more from the underground.

 -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "Notes from Underground" 1864

See Topical Guide: Reality by Eric Kraft

"Disciplines like Tai Chi and the tea ceremony seem demanding to us
 moderns because our technological control over the environment often
 makes us passive spectators and consumers - fulfilling the promises
 offered by technological consumerism.  Yet the reactivation of our
 primal physical awareness can indeed heal our incapacity for sheer
 pleasure and physical delight in our surroundings."
 - Michael Heim in "Virtual Reality and the Tea Ceremony", printed in
   "The Virtual Dimension: Architecture, Representation, and Crash
   Culture", edited by John Beckmann (1998).

Alfred Brendel at 70

"I did not come from a musical or intellectual family. I have not
been a child prodigy. I do not have a photographic memory; neither do
I play faster than other people. I am not a good sight reader. I need
eight hours' sleep. I do not cancel concerts on principle, only when I
am really sick. My career was so slow and gradual that I feel
something is either wrong with me or with almost anybody else in the
profession. Literature -- reading and writing -- as well as looking at
art have taken up quite a bit of my time. When and how I should have
learned all those pieces that I have played, besides being a less than
perfect husband and father, I am at a loss to explain."

The Scream

"There is something missing, some vivid touch that the cool computer
 screens we now all stare into at work and at home cannot deliver.
 The last common feeling we have left is depression, and it is so
 common, we only notice it when we cannot bear any longer to go on.
 We can grow hair on our heads and stuff new breasts into our chests
 and suck fat from our hides but we cannot seem to paste a smile on
 our faces.  We are not the people who will die of laughter."

 -- Charles Bowden
    "Blues for Cannibals: The Notes from Underground",  page 11

Hasta La Vista...


"Love and expertise" 

 -- actor Timothy Spall giving the reasons for his
    successful recovery from leukemia. on "Parkinson", 
    BBC TV, Saturday, 27th April 2002.

Dijkstra on Programming

"Programming is one of the most difficult branches of applied mathematics; the poorer mathematicians had better remain pure mathematicians..." How do we tell truths that might hurt?" Edsger W. Dijkstra, 18 June 1975

Christopher Smart

 Alpha, the cause of causes, first
 In station, fountain, whence the burst
   Of light, and blaze of day;
 Whence bold attempt, and brave advance,
 Have motion, life, and ordinance
   And heav'n itself its stay.

     -- "A Song to David" by Christopher Smart (1722-1771)

April 9th, 2002, Westminster Abbey

 You can shed tears that she is gone
 or you can smile because she has lived.
 You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
 or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.
 Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
 or you can be full of the love you shared.
 You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
 or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
 You can remember her and only that she's gone
 or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
 You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
 or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

    --  Anonymous
Anyone who attempts to generate random
numbers by deterministic means is, of course,
living in a state of sin. 

 --     John von Neumann 


Just for a minute, forget everything stressful and read this...

Or perhaps try harder...

This Grand Book

Philosophy is written in this grand book -- I mean the universe --
which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood
unless one first learns to comprehend the language in which it is
written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its
characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures,
without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of
it; without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.

 -- Galileo Galilei, 1623

11th September 2001

One is the belief that the end justifies the means. That push-button
philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering, has become the
monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human
spirit: the assertion of dogma that closes the mind, and turns a
nation, a civilization, into a regiment of ghosts - obedient ghosts,
or tortured ghosts.

It is said that science [read: knowledge] will dehumanize people and
turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for
yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at
Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this
pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was
not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It
was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute
knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is
what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink
of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every
judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is
personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are
fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: "I
beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be

I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human
being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand
here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure
ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to
close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We
have to touch people.

Jacob Bronowski, from "The Ascent of Man"

See also an alternate text

Henry David Thoreau

"I learned this at least, by my experiment; that of one advances
confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the
life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common


"To be governed is to be watched over, spied on, directed, legislated,
regimented, closed in, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled,
assessed, evaluated, censored, commanded; all by creatures that have
neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor virtue...  To be governed means
that at every move, operation, or transaction one is noted,
registered, entered in a census, taxed, stamped, priced, assessed,
patented, licensed, authorized, recommended, admonished, prevented,
reformed, set right, corrected. Government means to be subjected to
tribute, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted,
pressured, mystified, robbed; all in the name of public utility and
the general good. Then, at the first sign of resistance or word of
complaint, one is repressed, fined, despised, vexed, pursued, hustled,
beaten up, garroted, imprisoned, shot, machine gunned, judged,
sentenced, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed and to cap it all,
ridiculed, mocked, outraged, and dishonored!... O human personality!
How can it be that you have cowered in such subjection for sixty

Pierre-Joseph Proudon's quote from "Anarchism", written by Daniel Guerin

Chief Sitting Bull

"Hear me people: We now have to deal with another race---small and
feeble when our fathers met them, but now great and
overbearing. Stangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the
love of possesions is a disease with them. These people have made many
rules which the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their
tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule."

Chief Sitting Bull, speaking at the Powder River Conference, 1877

Noam Chomsky

"Propaganda is to Democracy as violence is to a Dictatorship. We live
entangled in webs of endless deciet, we live in a highly indoctrinated
society where elementary truths are easily buried."

Noam Chomsky

Strawberry Letter 23

"Hello, my love
I heard a kiss from you
Red magic satin playing near, too

All through the morning rain
I gaze - the sun doesn't shine -
Rainbows and waterfalls run through my mind"

 -- The Johnson Brothers

Full version


This style is not free
This style is expensive, alright

From "Dusted" by Leftfield from "Rhythm and Stealth"


 "All these worlds are yours--
 except EUROPA.
 Attempt no landings there."

 -- 2010: Odyssey Two
 Sir Arthur C. Clarke 

Words for Meaning

Words for Meaning

Fish trap is for catching fish,
Once the fish is caught, the trap would be set aside.
Rabbit snare is for trapping rabbit,
Once the rabbit is caught, the snare would be set aside.
Words are for communicating meanings,
Once the idea is understood, word could be set aside.
How may I find such a person who has set words aside?
I would like to speak with him.

Quoted in "The Night Coloured Pearl" by Tzunami Renivaro

Enter branding..

Enter branding: the ingenuous solution to the loss of place, the sense
of insignificance induced by high technology, high speed production
and globalism. Now through artifice, the large, incomprehensible
world can appear seemingly smaller and knowable. Branding becomes our
way to belong, to feel recognised, to take our place and to
acknowledge others. We do this not through the promotion of a shared
set of values and agendas which we fight for but by wearing Nike,
signing on with AOL, taking our coffee with Starbucks and identifying
with the aspirational aspects that adhere to those products.

From "The payoff" by Susie Orbach, The Guardian, Tuesday March 20, 2001

A quote to remember Chris Wood

The soul of man, 
It is like water: 
It comes from heaven, 
It mounts to heaven, 
And earthward 
Eternally changing.

  -- Geothe.

Après J R R Tolkein

One Egg to rule them all, One Egg to find them,
One Egg to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
  -- "Gordo the Grey"

Two Towers

Towers of Dub (The Orb)

A Tower of Babel - Worms and Blue Green Algae

"In any natural history of the human species, language would stand out
as the preeminent trait. To be sure, a solitary human is an impressive
problem-solver and engineer. But a race of Robinson Crusoes would not
give an extraterrestrial observer all that much to remark on. What is
truly arresting about our kind is better captured in the story of the
Tower of Babel, in which humanity, speaking a single language, came so
close to reaching heaven that God himself felt threatened. A common
language connects the members of a community into an
information-sharing network with formidable collective powers. Anyone
can benefit from the strokes of genius, lucky accidents, and
trial-and-error wisdom accumulated by anyone else, present or
past. And people can work in teams, their efforts coordinated by
negotiated agreements. As a result, Homo sapiens is a species, like
blue-green algae and earthworms, that has wrought far-reaching changes
on the planet."
      -- Steven Pinker "The Language Instinct"

On Scotch and the Internet

"I use my car when I need it.  I watch television
when I need it.  I navigate on the Internet when I need it.
When I don't, I drink Scotch.  Which is far, far better."

     - Umberto Eco


"I came into this game for the action, the excitement, go anywhere,
travel light, get in, get out, wherever there's trouble, a man
alone. Now they've got the whole country sectioned off - you can't
make a move without a form..."

 -  Harry Tuttle, heating engineer, in "Brazil" (1985)

See also quotes at IMDB.COM


Information Is Not Knowledge
Knowledge Is Not Wisdom
Wisdom Is Not Truth
Truth Is Not Beauty
Beauty Is Not Love
Love Is Not Music
        -Frank Zappa

Laurie Anderson on Language

"In 1980, I wrote a song for William Burroughs called 'Language Is a
 Virus.'  This was quote from one of Burroughs' books.  It's a strange
 thing for a writer to say that language is a disease communicable by
 mouth.  It's also a very Buddhist thing to say.  I mean, in Buddhist
 thought there's the thing and there's the name for the thing and that's
 one thing too many.  Because sometimes when you say a word, you think
 that you actually understand it.  In fact, all you're doing is saying
 it, you don't necessarily understand it at all. So language, well, it's
 a kind of trick."

 - Laurie Anderson, "Laurie Anderson,", page 99
   Possibly from "Laurie Anderson" by RoseLee Golberg, 
   Published 22 May, 2000 (UK) Thames and Hudson; ISBN: 0500019932

Charles Dudley Warner

"To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, 
to plant seeds, and watch the renewal of life -- 
this is the commonest delight of the race, the most 
satisfactory thing a man can do." 

   -- Charles Dudley Warner "My Summer in a Garden" (1870)


Bitterly it mathinketh me, that I spent mine wholle lyf in the lists
against the ignorant.
                -- Roger Bacon, "Doctor Mirabilis"


The lesson is don't lean on the weird, or eventually they'll 
cut your head off and perverts will eat your brain.

Horrible, Bubba - I've seen it.

  -- Hunter S. Thompson, Better Than Sex

Al Gore

"The Pacific Yew can be cut down and processed to produce a
potent chemical, taxol, which offers some promise of curing
certain forms of lung, breast, and ovarian cancer in
patients who would otherwise quickly die. It seems an easy
choice -- sacrifice the tree for a human life -- until one 
learns that three trees must be destroyed for each patient treated, 
that only specimens more than a hundred years old contain the
potent chemical in their bark, and that there are very
few of these yews remaining on earth." 

       -- Al Gore "Earth In the Balance" (page 119)


"We need the tonic of wilderness... 
 we can never have enough of nature."
  - Henry David Thoreau

Blade Runner

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 Tannhauser gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die.

"I've done questionable things" - Roy Batty
"Also, extraordinary things" - Tyrell

The Forsaken Merman

Where the great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with unshut eye.

The Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold, 1822-1888

Wild Wales

"But there is a time and place for everything, and sometimes the
 warmest admirer of ale would prefer the lymph of the hill-side
 fountain to the choicest ale that ever foamed in tankard from the
 cellars of Holkham."

 -- "Wild Wales", George Borrow, 1862.


"Homesteaders" are fleeing Geocities
At ever increasing velocities
Since new owner, Yahoo,
Wants their copyrights, too,
While still running ad banner atrocities.

      -- Jeannine Mosely

The Saigon Papers

Not United States, but critical states;
Not a borderless world, a world of fractal borders;
Not one currency, an m-currency;
Not global monoculture, a diversely-identical metaculture;
Not English as the imposed onelanguage, Musculpt as universal metalanguage.

March 17, 2000

I am a wind on the sea,
I am a wave of the ocean,
I am a powerful ox,
I am a hawk on a cliff,
I am a dewdrop in the sunshine,
I am a boar for valor,
I am a salmon in pools,
I am a lake in a plain,
I am the strength of art,
I am a spear with spoils that wages battle,
I am one who shapes fire for a head.

-- the poet Amhairghin, from the Irish creation myth chronicled in the
    _Lebor Gabala Erren_ (Book of the Invasion of Ireland), ca. 1150 A.D.

Albert Einstein

"If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it."

           --Albert Einstein

The Toaster

        A disciple of another sect once came to Drescher as he was
eating his morning meal.  "I would like to give you this personality
test", said the outsider, "because I want you to be happy."
        Drescher took the paper that was offered him and put it into
the toaster -- "I wish the toaster to be happy too".


Cooking is a sacred activity.  It is an act of lovemaking.  Our society
is spiritually malnourished because we have abandoned the kitchen.
          - novelist Laura Esquivel, author of _Like Water for Chocolate_


Knowledge is not a series of self consistent theories
that converges towards an ideal view; it is rather an
ever increasing ocean of mutually incompatible (and
perhaps even incommensurable) alternatives, each 
single theory, each fairy tale, each myth that is part 
of the collection forcing the others into greater articulation
and all of them contributing, via this process of competition,
to the development of our consciousness.

  -- Paul Feyerabend


Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 18:49:54 -0700
To: Gordon Joly <>
Subject: Anarchism

Yes the Chomsky quote which says that an anarchist should be a socialist.
National Socialism, Fascism and  Communism are forms of socialism.
The primary requirement of any socialism is that its members work
towards a common goal: this cannot be achieved without coersion,
as Lenin discovered in trying to put his theories into practice. 
"To each according to his need, from each according to his ability"
can only be enforced with an authority which "comes from a barrel
of a gun" (Mao Tse Tung).It is the muddled thinking of anarchists
to equate socialism with freedom. Anarchism is the ideal system,
but for ideal beings: which we, collectively, are not.

Edward R. Tufte

"Noise [i.e. clutter and other display debris] is costly, since
computer displays are low-resolution devices, working at extremely
thin data densities, 1/10 to 1/1000 of a map or book page. This
reflects the essential dilemma of a computer display: at every screen
are two powerful information-processing capabilities, human and
computer. Yet all communication between the two must pass through the
low-resolution, narrow-band video display terminal, which chokes off
fast, precise, and complex communication."

- Edward R. Tufte in "Envisioning Information"
To be nobody-but-yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night 
and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle 
which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. -- e.e. cummings
"I am part of all that I have met; yet all experience is 
an arch thro' which gleams that untravelled world whose margin 
fades forever and forever when I move..."
         -  Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Hawaiian Rules

Follow the Old Road

"There is more than one way of getting close to your ancestors.

Follow the Old Road and as you do, think of them; they climbed
Chillingbourne Hill just as you did. They sweated and paused for
breath just as you did today.

And when you see the bluebells in the spring and the wild thyme, and
the broom and the heather, you're seeing what their eyes saw. You ford
the same rivers, the same birds singing. And when you lie flat on your
back and rest, and watch the clouds sailing as I often do, you're so
close to those other people, that you can hear the thrumming of the
hoofs of their horses, and the sound of the wheels on the road, and
their laughter, and talk, and the music of the instruments they

And they turned the bend in the road, where they too saw the towers of
Canterbury. I feel I have only to turn my head to see them on the road
behind me."

           -- Thomas Colpepper in "A Canterbury Tale", by "The Archers",
              aka Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger


1. Existence.
The world we live in contains an abundance of things,
events, processes. There are trees, dogs, sunrises; there are
clouds, thunderstorms, divorces; there is justice, beauty, love;
there are the lives of people, gods, cities, of the entire
universe. It is impossible to enumerate and to describe in detail
all the incidents that happen to an individual in the course of a
single boring day.  [...]  I'd never been on a farm,
amd I am not even sure which are begonias, dahlias, or
petunias. Plants, like algebra, have a habit of looking alike and
being different, or habit of looking different and being alike;
consequently mathematics and botany confuse me.  Paul
Feyerabend - Farewell to Reason, Chapter 3, page 104 

Genghis Khan

	"Oh people, know that you have committed great sins. If you
	 ask me what proof I have for these words, I say it is because
	 I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great
	 sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you!"
	 -- Genghis Khan, Bukhara 1220


"What the ... This is Lambic!  Where's my culture of amoebic
dysentery?"  Gary Larson

John Gilmore

"The net treats censorship as a defect and routes around it."
John Gilmore in Times, 5 (6?) December 1993.

The Prisoner

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed,
 briefed, debriefed or numbered." Number 6

John Donne

No man is an island, entire upon itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main. . .
any man's death diminishes me because
I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for
whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
-- John Donne, 1624, Devotions



Partial collections of ...
Unsorted Quotes
True Quotes
The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex. Murray Gell-Mann, 1994, W.H.Freeman
Philosophical musings from the nobel-laureate physicist who is one of the founders and chief exponents of the field; does include actual usable definitions for critical terms like 'information' and 'complexity'. Matthew Merkley, M.D.
Malcolm Wicks MP during his conference address
``I am pacing backwards and forwards to challenge our camera operator as she had such a relaxed attitude to video the session when we discussed it last night I thought she needed to work for her money - If you don't believe me I've got it on video.''
Hasta la Victoria Siempre
Benjamin Woolley
``In cyberspace, everyone is an author, which means that no one is an author: the distinction upon which it rest, the author distinct from the reader, disappears. Exit author...''
Last few lines of Chapter 8 of "Virtual Worlds - A journey in hype and hyperreality" by Benjamin Woolley (1992)

Recursion begins at home... and "Gordon Joly Lives Next Door"

Gordo's home...

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