[On the men and women who operate the USS Theodore Roosevelt - CVN-71]  "These are supremely dangerous jobs. And most of the flight deck crew members are only nineteen or twenty. Indeed the whole ship is run by youngsters. The average age, officers and all, is about twenty-four. 'These are the same kids', a chief petty officer said, 'who, back on land, have their hats bumped to one side and their pants around their knees, hanging out on corners. And here they are in charge of thirty-five-million-dollar airplanes. ... While we were the Theodore Roosevelt, a memorial service was held for a crew member who had been swept overboard. Would there have been an admiral and a captain of an aircraft carrier and hundreds of the bravest Americans at a memorial service for you when you were twenty?"
    P. J. O'Rourke, Holidays In Heck

"Even the worst of Afghan governments never acquired the special knack of pitting tribe against tribe that is vital to American politics. - the Squishy Liberal Tribe versus the Kick-But Tribe; the Indignantly Entitled Tribe versus the fed-Up Taxpayer Tribe; the Smug Tribe versus the Wipe-That-Smirk-off-Your-Face Tribe."
    P. J. O'Rourke, Holidays In Heck

"The word 'duty' must seem strange to people not involved in field sports ... Of course it's tempting to think that the word 'duty' always seems strange to modern urban elites."
    P. J. O'Rourke, Holidays In Heck

"I really enjoyed the boot camp quality of your course."
    - CS314 Student, fall 2012

"In other words, Seven will build a bike around your poor climbing technique. Somehow a big guy with massive power like Thor Hushovd can finish in the top 10 for the entire first week of the Tour de France on a plastic Cervelo, yet this guy can't find a bike rigid enough to withstand his mighty climbing style. If he's "Standing and grinding" all the time, my guess is he doesn't need a Seven; what he needs is a triple."
    - The Bike Snob (Eben Weiss), Stuck In Customs: Bespoke Rationale
 

"Wired.com: Any advice for young programmers?

[Bjarne] Stroustrup: I guess giving advice is easy compared to taking it. Know your fundamentals (algorithms, data structures, machine architecture, systems) and know several programming languages to the point where you can use them idiomatically.

Know some non-computer field of study well — math, biology, history, optics, whatever. Learn to communicate effectively in speech and in writing. Spend an unreasonable amount of time on some difficult topic to really master it. Try to do something that might make a difference in the world."
    - Professor Stroustrup, creator of C++, on the 25th anniversary of the release of the first official C++ reference guide. October 14, 2010.

 

"... I'll relate some of the more amazing tech-bubble facts.
    In January 1999, Yahoo! was valued at 150 years' worth of its expected annual revenues for that year. At the same moment, Yahoo!'s value was equal to 693 years' worth of its expected 1999 earnings. The point is that if Yahoo!'s earnings were to stay the same, it would take 693 years for those earnings to equal what one had spent to buy the stock. That is not really a great value. And Yahoo!, despite being one of the few companies to truly succeed in the Internet era, now trades at 25 times its expected earnings."
  - David Faber, And Then the Roof Caved In

"[Sheila] Blair is one of those rare officials who give one confidence in government."
  - David Faber, And Then the Roof Caved In

"Don't mess with happy!"
  - Jim Valvano

"Dolce embodies the self-made MySpace celebrity. In the age where the concept of celebrity was defined by negligible accomplishments, Dolce was among the first to turn her popularity on MySpace into a full-fledged career." [emphasis added]
- Julia Angwin, Stealing myspace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America.

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it."
- Herbert Simon

"When we were growing up, our mother had two idols she hoped we would try to emulate. The first - and there was really no competition here - was Laura Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie fame. In our mom's eyes, she was the picture of perfection. We'd talk back to our mom, and she'd sternly ask, 'Would Laura Ingalls ever talk that way?' We'd forget to do out homework, leave dirty dishes in the sink, or generally cause trouble, and Laura Ingalls would travel from the nineteenth-century American prairie to 1980s Tel Aviv and admonish us to get with the program."
- Ori and Rom Brafman, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

"Know how to solve every problem that has been solved."
 - Richard Feynman

"What I cannot create I do not understand."
 - Richard Feynman

"They seem mentally fit, mentally scrubbed; I've never seen less depressed kids. It turns out that dressing like everyone else, sharing identical experiences, and being told you're on a mission of importance to the whole country does wonders for the teenage soul."
- David Lipsky, Absolutely American" Four Years at West Point

"When I heard another administrator's speech about values, how being a leader 'means having the moral courage to do what's right,' I thought how reassuring this must be for cadets, since every other educational institution has basically concluded that "what's right" doesn't exist, beyond the grim rule of not teasing anyone else.
   
West Point is almost entirely without irony ... This makes sense: irony is the comic presentation of doubt, and there's not much room for doubt at West Point. ... Cadets entering West Point step into an irony-free zone, a place where sarcasm has been fought to a standstill. And an irony-free zone turns out to be an immense relief for human beings: a relief not to have to worry about sounding foolish or whether somebody's statement has a subtext; a relief to accept the apparent meaning and move on."
- David Lipsky, Absolutely American" Four Years at West Point

" 'You got tenure early? What's your secret?'
Call me in my office at 10 pm on Friday evening and I'll tell you."
-Randy Pausch, Commenting on the value of hard work. Randy got tenure early at University of Virginia. If you ever need inspiration I strongly recommend you download and view Randy's Last Lecture. You can order a DVD from this page or view it online at this page.

Winners Train, Losers Complain
    -Unknown

"No one slept for another week. On January 16, when the finished floppies we to be sent out for production, a frantic software team had worked all night, but at 9:00 A.m. the software was still crashing. A few hours later, the bleary-eyed programmers produced a new version of MacWrite that seemed, if not robust, sturdy enough to perform its basic tasks without generated bomb boxes. Good enough to ship."
    Steven Levy, Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything
    And here I thought Microsoft was the only company to ship buggy software.

"In Csikszentmihalyi's analysis, what this man regularly experiences at work is a condition called "flow" - an exhilarating and uniquely fulfilling convergence of attention and purpose. "An activity that produces such experiences is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake," he writes, "with little concern for what they get out of it, even when it is difficult or dangerous."
    Julian Dibbell, Play Money

(Gertrude) Himmelfarb says "Look at our divorce rates, our illegitimacy rates, our rates of teen suicide and drug addiction. We have come to accept these as normal because we have become use to them. But they are not normal. They are deeply pathological. But we have become demoralized, and I mean that in both sense. We have lost our will to resist. And even more important, we've lost our ability as a society to tell the difference between right and wrong."
    -Dinesh D'Souza, The Virtue of Prosperity

"Edmonds is playing shallow. He likes to play shallow, a reflection of his confidence and penchant for drama. He takes two steps in and catches the ball high in the glove, glancing for a split second in the stitch of the webbing to make sure he caught it. He has his momentum going for him, and he's going to need it because Glanville is tagging up from third and trying to score and here comes the best craziness in all of sports.
    He's running full bore and he's quick and Matheny moves two steps up the line, awaiting the throw, and Edmonds makes an over-the-top throw with beautiful carry and La Russa can see it and so can Duncan and so can Morris as he leaps off the back bench because it's gonna be close, it's gonna be really close, and while it's all happening fast, very fast, there's also a slow-motion quality to it as Edmonds throws the ball and Matheny awaits the ball and Glanville comes down the line, hoping he gets there before the ball and who will intersect with what when?
    The throw is dead solid perfect. It gives Matheny time to take those two steps up the third-base line and set up in a stoic crouch. It's going to be a wreck at home plate, a serious wreck. Sosa, due up next, leaves the on-deck circle and, like a bystander vainly trying to ward off a car crash, motions to Glanville with his hands to get down, get down. But the throw is too far ahead of Glanville, his only choice is to go for the high-impact head-on collision. He barrels into Matheny, using his forearm to hit him in the face. He uses the rest of his body to try to flatten him. Matheny does a full 360-degree pirouette. His glove goes flying, and if the ball is still in there, Glanville is safe, and the Cubs will win because there's no way you lose after a play like this.
    It takes a second, maybe two, the crowd goes berserk and two entire dugouts up on their toes and the home plate umpire bending his neck into this Bill Gallo cartoon swirl of arms and legs and what belongs to whom and who belongs to what, charged with answering everybody's question: Where is the ball?
    Where is the ball? It's in  Matheny's bare hand. He switched it from his glove right before impact. Glanville  is out.
    HE'S OUT!!!"
    - Buzz Bissinger, 3 Nights in August

"My little boy has just turned two, and he is trying toy figure out a music box. It is a baseball music box, on which a small figure pivots with a tiny bat, swinging at a white cloth marble while the tinny sounds of Take Me Out to the Ball Game leak from below.
    The music box has two operating mechanisms, an on/off switch which one pushes and pulls, bust also a handle which must be wound to provide power. This is too much for a two year old boy to deal with at first. He pulls the switch and the must starts; he pushes it and the music stops-but then, when the tension winds down, he pulls the switch and nothing happens. Isaac is frustrated. 'Broke,' he says, handing me the worthless machine. 'Ball player broke.'
    He will, of course, soon figure out the concept of two switches. But I am struck by this: that ideas are harder than machines, and many people will never master the two-switch concept as it applies to a logical inference.  find this to be an undeniable lesson of sports talk shows. A caller argues that a baseball manager makes no difference. Look at Whitey Herzog, ne says; he was supposed to be such a genius a few years ago, but why can't he win now? The caller has not mastered the two-switch concept; the on/off switch must be turned on, but the energy must also be there.
    ... If only one could hold an idea in one's hand and play with the switches, I think, how quickly the arguments would advance. In the real world, arguments go around and around, advancing almost imperceptibly from generation to generation, and this is another way of explaining why I stopped writing the Baseball Abstract. After ten years, I realized the impossibility of advancing complex ideas in a world that only wanted to know where the switch was."
    - Bill James

"The main thing that you are struck with in the process of learning about a computer is how totally, incredibly stupid it is. The machine simulates intelligence so well that when you accidentally slip through a crack in its simulations and fall to the floor of its true intelligence, you are awed by the depth of the fall. You give it a series of a hundred or a thousand sensible commands, and it executes each of them in turn, and then you press a wrong key and accidentally give it a command which goes counter to everything that you have been trying to do, and it will execute that command in a millisecond, just as if you had accidentally hit the wrong button on your vacuum cleaner at the end of your cleaning, and it had instantly and to your great surprise sprayed the dirt that you had collected back into the room. And you feel like, 'Jeez, machine, you ought to know I didn't mean that. What do you think I've been doing here for the last hour?' And then you realize that that machine has not the foggiest notion of what you are trying to do, any more than your vacuum cleaner does."
    - Bill James

"Whites' alienation from the Establishment began, of course, as a genuine and concrete opposition to the Vietnam War, as well as Racism. The counterculture movement effected profound transformations in American society, which all of is are thankful for today. However, there was, amid the constructive efforts, always a certain gut-level thrill in the sheer rebelliousness in itself. As such, it was not surprising that after the smoke cleared, a mood was left in the air, finding pleasure in rebellion for its own sake. Action devolved into gesture, as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland disappeared and left just his smile.
    That legacy lives on in mainstream American culture today, in the form of a spontaneous embrace of anti-Establishment sentiment in a great many people, expected in particular of the educated and/or thinking person. Certainly a plenty of active, committed political activism remains. But there is also a general psychological legacy that expresses itself not in outright rejection of the Establishment or concentrated efforts to change it, but in quiet attitudes now taken as normal that would throw most people brought to our America from as recently as 1960."
    - John McWhorter, Winning the Race - Beyond the Crisis in Black America

"To depart for a moment into a philosophical blind alley ... simplifying the universe is a necessary but dangerous habit of thought. It is necessary to simplify the universe, because the external universe is vastly more complicated than any image of it that we are capable of holding our minds - therefore, it is necessary to reduce and eliminate the complications of the real world to form and understanding of it.
    But simplifying the universe is also dangerous, because some of what is left out of our image is nonetheless real and significant. This is the essential problem problem of political parties: that both parties, both "bents" of political philosophy, simplify the universe in order to make sense of it. Republicans believe we must all be responsible for ourselves and those near us; Democrats believe that we must all help to take care of one another. Both principles are absolutely true, but both are simplifications of a more complicated universe. Democrats defend their simplification by labeling individual responsibility as selfishness; Republicans defend their simplification by labeling sharing s irresponsibility. Both parties thus trundle happily along with political philosophies that manifestly fail to explain the real world. ... It is a complicated world. A statistical system which understands this is better than a system which denies it."
    - Bill James

"Football is a mistake. It combines the two worst elements of American life: violence and committee meetings"
    - George Will

"There's nothing between Wichita Falls and the North Pole except barbed wire."
    - Anonymous
I did the Hotter than Hell 100 in Wichita Falls this year. And it was hot. 102 the day of the ride, but that was at the every end of the ride. I went on a solo ride two days before the actual tour at 2:30 in the afternoon and it was 109. That was hot.

"We can describe a computer scientist as someone who doesn't distinguish between a checkerboard and a topographical map...."
    -Doug Cooper and Michael Clancy, Oh! Pascal!

"One of the efficient byproducts of plebe-year stress is what's called unit-cohesion, the bond that cadets form. In battle, what often drives soldiers isn't simple courage but a complicated version of crisis loyalty, the desire not to let down their friends."
     - David Lipsky, Absolutely American

"In Fargo [North Dakota], one sensed that everything was just a tad different from the rest of the world - and this coming from someone who spent each day with the [St. Paul] Saints."
    -Neal Karlen, Slouching Towards Fargo

"All good stories come out of unhappiness. People who are happy and successful don't have any good stories to tell. I know this because I use to be successful. And it was a confusing time. When you think you have everything you want it drives you crazy trying to think of what you forgot."
    - Garrison Keillor

"And then something happened: the more he (Scott Hatteberg) went out to play first base, the more comfortable he felt there. ...Wash (Ron Washington) got inside your head because - well, you wanted Wash inside your head. His coach was creating an alternative scale on which Hatty could judge his performance. He might be an absolute D but on Wash's curve he felt like a B, and rising. 'He knew what looked like a routine play wasn't a routine play for me,' said Hatty. Wash was helping him to fool himself, to make him fell better than he was, until he actually became better than he was. At the Coliseum it was a long way from the A's dugout to first base, but every time Hatty picked a throw out of the dirt - a play most first baseman made with their eyes closed - he'd hear Wash shout from the dugout:
    'Pickin' Machine!'
    He'd look over and see Wash with his fighting face on:
     'Pickin' Machine!'
    - Michael Lewis, Moneyball. On the conversion of Scott Hatteberg from a catcher to a first baseman after being acquired by the Oakland A's in 2002, for his penchant for getting on base. Wash, is Ron Washington, infield coach of the Oakland A's at the time.

"Only a psychological freak could approach a 100-mph fastball aimed not all that far from his head with total confidence."
    - Michael Lewis, Moneyball

"Who the gods with to destroy first they call promising."
    -Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise. Quoted in Moneyball, by Michael Lewis

"All of science and technology and culture and learning and academics is built upon using the work that others have done before, Carmack thought. But to take a patenting approach and say its; like, well, this idea is my idea, you cannot extend this idea in any way, because I own this idea - it just seems so fundamentally wrong."
    David Kushner, Maters of Doom

"She told Moose this story in a letter than she send him after she'd heard he had went back to Lake Woebegone. She's living in Maine. She's married to a cabinet maker. She's very happy. She has a couple of children. He read her letter as he was sitting in a hot bath at Pastor Inqvist's house. After he had he had put the children to bed and he was on his second hot toddy...Here he was sitting in a hot bath, feeling ALMOST alright again on two hot toddies and he had one left to go. He read the letter from his old love who said 'Richard, when I walked down that street at 3 in the morning with a half naked man who was singing and holding a bottle of wine, I thought of you. I thought to myself 'Here is another passionate love affair and I hope it doesn't last too long. Because I want to get on and live my life.' She said, 'Richard, when I was young I thought as many young people do, that happiness was somewhere out on the edge. And you had to go venture into the darkness in order to find it. And I got out to the edge and it wasn't there. And I realized that happiness has always been in the middle. And the only reason to go out to the edge is to then realize where the middle was and to turn around and to come back to it. I hope you're happy,' she said. 'And if you're not, I hope that you soon will be.'"
        - Garrison Keillor

"He was back in the days before there were car seats for children. I was thinking of that. That was back in the days when your little child, as soon as he could stand, would ride with daddy standing on the front seat of the car. We'd go driving off down the road and when daddy needed to stop he would put his arm across his little boy and hold him - daddy was the seatbelt back then. Now a days this would be a heinous crime and if I were to do this you would never speak to me again. My show would be cancelled. I would be in some kind of program for 'bad daddies' some where."
        - Garrison Keillor

"And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."
    -Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J K Rowling

"The Indian never fishes or hunts for sport, only for food. Grandpa said it was the silliest damn thing in the world to go around killing something for sport."
    -Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree   

"And they would go through the rest of their lives knowing that never again would they have a chance to do Westside Story and sing 'When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette...' They would never, ever get to do that. 'Well okay,' she said. 'We'll take a vote.' And they voted 10 to 4 NOT to do the senior class play which went against everything they had been brought up with. Never to quit. Never to quit. Never, ever give up. And they found out then, the reason you should never quit or give up is because when you do it won't make that big a difference to people. They won't notice. You think it is going to be a scandal and it's not. You'll come home early from school for three or four days before your parents say, 'Weren't you in a play?' And you say 'Oh, well, it was canceled. It was canceled.' And they'll say, 'Oh.' That's all. That's all the world says when you quit. When you give it up. 'Oh.' That's all you get. So, you want to stay in it, stay in it. And it is not the worst thing to come into your extremely late middle years, as I have, and never having had a chance to do Westside Story. It keeps hope alive. The thought that some day, some how, some where you might still get to do it. It is one of those dreams that you keep alive. Hope never dies. Hope never dies. I am long past the age when I've played baseball. Yet is still alive for me and I can see it somehow in my mind. It's a short grounder hit to the shortstop. I am playing second. I run towards second base. I catch the flip from the shortstop. I pivot. I throw to first. As I leap my legs tucked under me to avoid the slide of the base runner. He comes in under. I catch the base runner going to first by 15 feet. It's a double play and we trot back to the dugout. The shortstop and I. We don't high five each other. We're pros. We're cool. We've done a double play many, many times before. Do you see what I am getting at? I haven't done it yet, but some how, some day, some where. That's the news from Lake Woebegone where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."
    - Garrison Keillor

"'April in Paris' was the theme of the prom, but nobody told the farmers who were out Northwest of town that it was the 'April in Paris' and so they were out spreading manure for three days. Spreading fresh manure and the prevailing winds carried it into town so it wasn't very Parisian unless you've been in the wrong parts of Paris. And the boys tried to make a joke of it but it wasn't funny to the girls. Some of the girls wept to 'This was the culmination of their high school life. This was to be the epitome of elegance and this smell that wafted through.' Teachers walked through spraying air freshener, but something synthetic and sweet could not compete with this smell of the fecal matter of cows and pigs. It was a disaster for those girls. They came home ruined. <pause> Oh poor things. If that is the worst thing you ever have to suffer. I hope so. God bless you."
    - Garrison Keillor

"... Emily, who has a summer job in Oregon at a sports resort. And she is the sort of kid who could go out there and never come back. That is the tragedy of raising kids. You raise them to be independent and strong and self reliant and then if they are, you never see them again. You see the ones who are troubled. Those are the ones you get to know. Your successes go away. You never see them again."
    - Garrison Keillor

"Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted."
    -Plato, The Allegory of the Cave

"Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."
    -Jonathan Swift

"I'm as right as the mail!" [coughing up blood and on the verge of passing out]
    -Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer), Tombstone

"We crave reality. To know where the floor is. Not to drift in the air, but to be able to get down through the muck and touch the stone and know where reality is. Which ordinarily you need to travel to get in touch with reality. To get away from all these little comfortable systems that we have set up to make our lives easier. So we tell our children to go off on pilgrimages. To go off to foreign lands. To have a touch of reality. To see what life is really like. Which is what winter really is. It is a form of travel, but it brings the arctic circle to us. Six months ago we were living in Miami, sort of. Now we are in Murmansk. We're in Lapland."
    - Garrison Keillor (Which is kind of what summer is in Austin. The equator comes to us. For four months out of the year we are in the Sudan. We are in the Republic of Congo.)

"What happened was this: I got an image in my head that never got out. We see a great many things and can remember a great many things, but that is different. We get very few of the true images in out heads of the kind I am talking about, the kind which become more vivid for us as if the passage of the years did not obscure their reality but, year by year, drew off another veil to expose a meaning which we had only dimly surmised at first. Very probably the last veil will not be removed, for there are not enough years, but the brightness of the image increases. And our conviction increases that the brightness is meaning, or the legend of meaning, and without the image, our lives would be nothing except an old piece of film rolled on a spool and thrown into a desk drawer among the unanswered letters. ... We went different ways in the world, as I have said, but I had with me always that image of the little girl on the waters of the bay, all innocence and trustfulness, under the stormy sky. Then, there came the day when that image was taken from me. I learned that Anne Stanton had become the mistress of Willie Stark, that somehow by an obscure and necessary logic I had handed her over to him. That fact was too horrible to face, for it robbed me of something out of the past by which, unwittingly until that moment, I had been living. "
    -Robert Penn Warren, All the Kings Men. [This is my favorite book. I have probably read it 5 times. Notice the ... or  ellipsis, which is used to omit words or portions of text. The first passage occurs on page 118 in my version of All the Kings Men. The second passage occurs on page 311! It was not until the most recent reading that I realized the second passage was making reference to the first. This is one of the many reasons I love this book. I discover something new and interesting every time I read it, just as Warren alludes to the removal of veils. Is this why teachers of English and Literature do what they do? They experience this sort of revelation with many works? It is certainly one of the reasons I like computer science, always learning new things.]

"If you want to get something done find a busy person."
    -unknown

"But the Cherokee did not cry. Not on the outside, for the Cherokee would not let them see his souls; as he would not ride in the wagons.
    And so they called it the Trail of Tears. Not because the Cherokee cried; for he did not. They called it the Trail of Tears for it sounds romantic and speaks of the sorrow of those who stood by the Trail. A death march is not romantic.
    You cannot write poetry about the death-stiffened baby in his mother's arms, staring at the jolting sky with eyes that will not close, while his mother walks. 
   You cannot sing songs of the father laying down the burden of his wife's corpse, to lie by it through the night and to rise and carry it again in the morning - and tell his oldest son to carry the body of his youngest. And do not look ... nor speak ... nor cry ... nor remember the mountains.
    It would not be a beautiful song. And so they called it the Trail of Tears."
    -Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree    

"Granma's name was Bonnie Bee. I knew that when I heard him late at night say, 'I kin ye, Bonnie Bee,' he was saying, 'I love ye,' for the feeling was in the words.
    And when they would be talking and Granma would say, 'Do you kin me, Wales?' and he would answer, 'I kin ye,' it meant, 'I understand ye.' To them love and understanding was the same thing. Granma said you couldn't love something you didn't understand; nor could you love people, nor God, if you didn't understand the people and God.
    Granpa and Granma had an understanding, and so they had a love. Granma said the understanding run deeper as the years went by, and she reckined it would get beyond anything mortal folks could think upon or explain. And so they called in 'kin.' "
    -Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree

"What's the greatest thing you've ever done on a bike?
Reached the point when I could finally say 'On you left.'"
    -Bob Tindle, 75, TN; rides 2,500 miles a year"
   
[Bicycling magazine, December 2004 issue. See, when you are on a bike you say 'On you left.' when you are coming up on another cyclist to pass them. You always try to pass on the left side. So, here is this 75 year old man, passing people, presumably, much younger than he. He certainly ought to be proud.]

"That is a Christmas I won't ever forget. The one when we were visited by the Dark Angel of Projectile Vomiting."
    - Garrison Keillor

"I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter."
    - Blaise Pascal.

"It was the rain that made Floyd Landis drink 13 cappuccinos.
  It wasn't because he thought it was a good idea."
    -Lance Armstrong, Every Second Counts

"I schooled my son in who would win the Tour de France.
    'What does daddy do?' I asked.
    'Daddy makes 'em suffer in the mountains,' he said."
    -Lance and Luke Armstrong (age 2 and a half), Every Second Counts

"The urgency was just mine entirely. I didn't have any interviews I couldn't postpone. But I was 24. I was a graduate student in English, floundering. Liable to be drafted to Vietnam. Wondering what that would be like. Fearful. And one of the things I was most fearful of was living an ordinary life. And I had to come to New York to find a way out of that. ... I was afraid of an ordinary life. And I came to New York and realized that is what we all get. We all get an ordinary life. And it's good enough. It's good enough."
    - Garrison Keillor

"Grandpa come back to his body mind. He wanted his hat, which I got; and he put it on his head. I held his hand and he grinned. 'It was good Little Tree. Next time, it will be better. I'll be seein' ye.' And slipped off; like Willow John done."
    -Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree

"Schools out. I just want to thank all of the school teachers for all their good work. How much we're grateful to them school is out. Especially those primary teachers who do the heroic job. They're the ones, they're the miracle workers. The ones who take the illiterate and turn them into readers. When you turn a kid into a reader. That is the gift, you know. That is the gift that unlocks all of the other gifts."
    - Garrison Keillor

"Now we're sitting with Matt Ocko, a clever young programmer who is working on the problem of seamless communication between programs running on all different types of computers, which is something along the lines of getting vegetables to talk with each other even when they don't want to."
    - Robert X. Cringley

"My bank has quit sending me my old checks. ... Here is what we should be able to do: We should be able to check a box that say 'I'm old and I don't want to change.' Which means I am old and I want my checks back."
    - Tony Kornheiser

In object oriented programming why do we call user defined data types "classes"? Here is one answer:

"When my son was 3 years old, he once asked me, "Dad, can you kill a witch?" I thought about it for a while, formulating all sorts of informative answers, but ultimate replied, "Yes," which I think was the answer that did him the most good at the time.

When freshmen ask me, "Professor, why is it called a class?" I also think of lots of informative answers, but I reply "Because that's the place where we teach objects how to do things"."
    -Rich Pattis

"The reason for getting an education here—or anywhere else—is that it is better in and of itself. Not because it gets you something. Not because it is a means to some other end. It is better because it is better. Indeed this statement implies that the phrase 'aims of education' is nonsensical; education is not a thing of which aims can be predicated. It has no aim other than itself."
    -Andrew Abbott, in a lecture to the incoming class at the University of Chicago on the aims of education, 2003.

(After a less than rousing rendition of the chorus of Alice's Restaurant by the audience.)
"
That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud."
    - Arlo Guthrie, Alice's Restaurant

"there's a big ole goofy man dancin' with a big ole goofy girl
ooh baby its a big ole goofy world."   
 -  John Prine, It's a Big Ole Goofy World, via The Reverend Patrick Miller

Pacha: What happened?
Old Man: Well I, uh, I threw off the Emperor's groove.
Pacha: What?
Old Man: His groove! The rhythm in which he lives his life! His pattern of behavior! I threw it off! And the Emperor had me thrown out the window!
Pacha: Oh, I'm supposed to see him, so -
Old Man: DON'T THROW OFF HIS GROOVE!
Pacha: Okay.
Old Man: Bewaaaaaaaare, the grooooooooove!
Pacha: Say, are you gonna be all right?
Old Man: Groooooooooooove!
    -
The Emperor's New Groove

"Please remind yourself of Simon's question, each time you hear people complaining about 'the cultural imperialism' of the USA: if there is such a thing the USA seems to be the last country to blame for it."
    - Edsger W. Dijkstra, commenting on a question from Ir. P.J.P.G. Simons, Adjunct Director of Patents and Trademarks, Philips Electronics, expressing his amazement at what Professor Dijkstra's had achieved in the field of computer science without ever having lived in the United States. The comment was circa 1970 and Mr. Simons was, I believe, either German or Dutch.

"candygrammar: n.

"If you have ever seen the movie Night of the Living Dead, you have a rough idea how modern corporations and organizations operate, with projects and proposals that everybody thought were killed constantly rising from their graves to stagger back into meetings and eat the brains of the living."
    - Dave Barry

"Claiming Java is easier than C++ is like saying that K2 is shorter than Everest".
    - Larry O'Brien

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have for instance."
    - Franklin P. Jones

"Wooooo - Hoo! College!"
    - Dr. Steve Brada

"Control is the ultimate illusion."
    - Professor James C. Brown

"They asked, they asked him outright if he would take them up North. They were not brought up to ask this sort of question of a stranger. To ask for something. You are suppose to earn it, but there was no way they could earn it. And he said 'Yes he would.' "
    - Garrison Keillor

"A good marriage is worth all the money in the world."
    - Quartermaster Chief Petty Officer Ashby, Naval Submarine School

"Games? You must be joking. I've seen better organized riots."
    - Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm), Chariots of Fire

"That's not the prettiest quarter I've ever seen Mr. Liddle. [pause. Continues, almost under his breath.] Certainly the bravest."
    - Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm), Chariots of Fire

"Forty two million of anything, is a lot."
    - Professor Doug Burger, (commenting on the number of transistors contained on the Pentium IV processor)

"The ceremonies and excuses by which decisions (by government) are avoided may surprise you, but the effect will not. Government accomplishes virtually nothing of what it sets out to do. It can barely fire an employee who doesn't show up for work."
    - Philip K. Howard, The Death of Common Sense 

"Real seriousness is involuntary. If you're held at gunpoint or run over by a bus, you'll be serious about it. If you're a decent person, you'll also have some serious feelings when you see someone else threatened or squashed. In fact, if you're a decent person faced with the world's catastrophe's, horrors, and pleas for help, you'll do the right thing whether you're serious or not"
    - P. J. O' Roarke

"It's supposed to be hard! If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great!"
    - Jimmie Dugan (Tom Hanks), A League of Their Own

"God is so good. And we don't realize it when our lives are so easy and it's just one blessing after another, but when there is trouble and we are beset with fear and all is when we realize God's goodness and we are grateful just for life itself. It's good enough. It's good enough."
    - Garrison Keillor

"One of the principles of this culture is we were not brought up to expect to be happy. We never expect it so we are not comfortable with it if it should occur. Joy and prosperity make us a little bit uneasy."
    - Garrison Keillor

"In the midst of great success the most we could ever say is 'It's not bad. It could be worse.' We come from a 'could be worse' culture."
    -Garrison Keillor

"Email: Your 'To Do' List that other people get to add to."
    - Sharon LaVoy

"God adolescence is brutal. Nothing afterwards is nearly so hard. Nothing, nothing what so ever. I go back to high school reunions. It's like people from a shipwreck getting together celebrating being alive, you know?"
    - Garrison Keillor

Latest sign that the end of civilization is near:
"Last year parents loved it! So, The University of Texas Child Care Center will be here again to serve our families attending the UT football games this season.  Child care for children ages 3 to 12 years will be available beginning September 1, 2001 for all home games."
    -Rhonda Strange, Director of Communications, Office of the Vice President for Employee and Campus Services 
     The University of Texas at Austin

"In the Pacific Northwest, which is my territory, we have increased sales 106% in the last 12 month period.  And this with a war on."
        - Salesman
"Eh heh heh.  Eh heh heh.  You know if I had your job, I'D KILL MYSELF!!  Sit here, I'll see if I can dig up a pistol."
        - Ernie Capadino (John Lovitz), A League of Their Own

"Finally I would like to offer some helpful advice to students about how best to learn discrete mathematics.  You will learn the most by working exercises.  I suggest you do as many as you possibly can..."
    - Kenneth H. Rosen,  Discrete Mathematics and its Applications

"We've got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel!"
    - Professor Don Batory

"... and people are to march around the church to commemorate the event, Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was greeted with applause and with palms. People thought he had come to overthrow the Romans, but ... no ... he had come to change THEM ... and that led to things turning bad."
    - Garrison Keillor

"... because, of course, absolute fresh sweet corn is one of the chief pleasures of our life on earth. There are four them. There's... [murmurs of laughter.] There's fresh sweet corn, and there's the love of learning, and there's the one that you thought of first, and then there's the joy of following in the lord's will and following his way."
    - Garrison Keillor

"In the morning the Mobile Bay (an Aegis class guided-missile cruiser) left the Mayport Naval Station and steamed - that is, gas-turbined- out to sea. The departure was so smoothly effected and the engines so quite in their puissance that I was having breakfast in the officers' mess and didn't know I was gone. I spent the next two days wandering through the repository of my tax dollars trying to discover what defense spending buys.
    It buys complexity. The Mobile Bay is the most complex thing I've ever been in, not counting love. All the spaces of the ship are filled with nests of valves and switches and transversed by ganglia of pipes and wires. To attempt any real understanding of how it all works is to slide into that mood of childish despair at having taken the alarm clock apart. Defense spending also buys cleanliness. The Mobile Bay is unnaturally clean, cleaner than anything ever is in civilian life. Every crease of every corner of the ship is tended every day. And not only is there incessant scrubbing and mopping but eternal chipping and brushing besides, so that in the course of a two-year cycle all surfaces, however inaccessible, and every rivet, nut and bolt head will have been repainted. Each of these items is also numbered. Every hatch, pipe, bulkhead, gangway, locker, compartment, and nameless do-funny has a number stenciled on it, and that number tells an adept just what the object is and where, exactly, its proper place is within the ship. The Mobile Bay is so clean and organized as to mock God for the frowsy quantum-physics universe he created."
    - P. J. O'Rourke, from the chapter "Defense Policy: Cry 'Havoc!' and Let Slip the Hogs of Peace", Parliament of Whores

"This is the Carnegie Hall of complaining. This is where people come to practice this art form which is such an American art form. Dissent. Complaining. President's going around the country saying he needs national unity. Well good luck, I say. This is the United States of America. I mean people in hell want ice water, but that doesn't mean they are going to get it. This is a country of nay-sayers. This is a country of dissenters. Those GIs who were in the landing boats going into Omaha Beach for D Day, they were not sitting on those benches as they were going into the beach talking about the Bill of Rights and what a precious thing it is and how much they were looking forward to defending it. They were complaining! They were complaining about their officers, they were complaining about their gear that was so heavy and would it actually work, they doubted it. They were complaining about chaos and poor management and this whole miserable thing, UNTIL the ramp came down and they went down the ramp into the surf and went up on the beach and fought ... but in the meantime they exercised their right to complain, a precious American right."
    - Garrison Keillor
 
"The elegance of a simply beautiful lawn. Our people believe in this. Yard work is a great ritual, a great ritual. Generations of teenagers have rebelled against it, thinking that it was neurotic, or obsessive, or didn't have a purpose. It does have a purpose. It's a ritual. It's like the line in the communion liturgy, 'Do this in remembrance of me,' and when you do it you remember your dad. You go out and work on the grass and you remember when you were a little tiny kid and you had a little rake and you worked alongside your dad and you raked the dead leaves and the dead grass up. Your dad was standing right next to you and the smell of grass and the smell of dad became one smell in your mind and is all awakened when you go out and attend to your lawn."
    - Garrison Keillor
 
"Basic research at universities comes in two varieties: research that requires big bucks and research that requires small bucks. Big bucks research is much like government research and in fact usually is government research but done for the government under contract. Like other government research, big bucks academic research is done to understand the nature and structure of the universe or to understand life, which really means that it is either for blowing up the world or extending life, whichever comes first. Again, that's the government's motivation. The universities' motivation for conducting big bucks research is to bring money in to support professors and graduate students and to wax the floors of ivy-covered buildings. While we think they are busy teaching and learning, these folks are mainly doing big bucks basic research for a living, all the while priding themselves on their terrific summer vacations and lack of a dress code.
    Smalls bucks research is the sort of thing that requires paper and pencil, and maybe a blackboard, and is aimed primarily at increasing knowledge in areas of study that don't usually attract big bucks - that is, areas that don't extend life or end it, or both. History, political science, and romance languages are typically small bucks areas of basic research. The real purpose of small bucks research to the universities is to provide a means of deciding, by the quality of their small bucks research, which professors in these areas should get tenure."
-Robert X. Cringely, Accidental Empires

"Culture is not something you can acquire by going to the symphony. It's not something you get out of books. You can't change it by redoing your living room in a Southwestern decor and hanging Navajo blankets on the wall. Culture is what you knew by the time you were twelve years old. It's a gift from your parents and people way back and people try to run away from their culture. Of course they do. They go off to New York and try to be somebody else, but your attempt at independence only shows how much like the others your are."
    - Garrison Keillor

"Perhaps that was the moment when Slade made his fortune. How life is strange and changeful, and the crystal is in the steel at the point of fracture, and the toad bears a jewel in its forehead, and the meaning of moments passes like the breeze that scarcely ruffles the leaf of the willow ... Slade never confided in me, but I figure Slade got his reward for being an honest man."
    - Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men

"No, it's just-- I-- You know, I just think, right now I have *one key*, you know, everything I own is in the car, and I just... I like that; you know, I mean, I just-- if I get an apartment, that's two keys, if I get a job, you know, um, I might have to open or close, that's more keys..."  
    -
Graham (James Spader), Sex, Lies, and Videotapes [This leads to the "key theory of responsibility". The amount of responsibility in one's life (real or perceived) is directly proportional to the number of keys one carries.]

"Charlie's often thought 'What was the difference between my son and myself? How did I have a good life and he not?' And the only answer he's ever been able to come up with was Marliss Hovdy. She was the difference, the whole difference. He rode in and rescued her from her family and then the rest of his life she has been rescuing him. Such a sensible woman, such a loving woman. A woman he was always able to talk to and tell whatever was on his mind."
    - Garrison Keillor

"I had a boy under the old system of parenthood, back before most of you were born. This was under the old system where men were out busy hunting and fighting heathen savages and we were just brought into villages for breeding purposes and then we wandered off again and we'd come back to see the child after the child was born, we'd walk in smeared with blood and one ear half chewed off, wrapped in animal skins, and we'd walk in and look at the child and we'd grunt and then we'd go off and hunt and fight some more, and eventually the child sort of grew up on his own and we came back and there was this young man there. And now to have a child under the new system of parenthood, in which parents are assumed to be vitally involved in every step of their child's life, and arrange their children's social life, and read every book available on the subject of child rearing, which is like having a second unpaid job, makes me nostalgic for the old way that I grew up under. The Lake Woebegone way in which children were free and wandered in this magical land of childhood beyond the notice or attention or knowledge of our parents. We were just out there wandering around like coyotes. We were free as birds. Back in the days before children had to pass entrance exams for Kindergarten. Back before we were aware of so much that could be wrong with children. Back before they were aware of this ADD, this Affection Deficit Disorder ... We were free; children were absolutely free. Our parents sent us off to school with lunch money and told us to do as the teacher said and if there was a problem it was going to be our fault. So we were sent out into this world of adults and adults who are not as self conscience as my generation is today. Who are always aware of trying to look good in front of children and be heroic and be cool. Adults then didn't care to be cool, they didn't know about cool, it didn't matter to them. They just expressed themselves. We children were not the center of their lives. They did not weave their lives around us. They didn't read books about us. They had their own lives which were a mystery to us completely."
    - Garrison Keillor

"I want to finish this little session by reading three fairly short poems. This one started when I read a sentence in an article about the history of printing. And the sentence was 'It has been calculated that each copy of the Guttenberg Bible required the skins of three hundred sheep.' and I wrote this little poem called Flock."
- Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States

Flock, by Billy Collins
I can see them squeezed into the holding pen behind the stone building where the printing press is housed.
All of them squirming around to find a little room and looking so much alike it would be nearly impossible to count them.
And there is no telling which one of them will carry the news that the Lord is a shepherd
One of the few things they already know."


"I've got twelve pages here. That's not like me. I'll probably skip half of it and get half way through this thing and quit anyhow. It's getting awful hot out here, so that's a good excuse to make it short. 

So, but anyhow, I think defense belongs in the Hall of Fame. Defense deserves as much credit as pitching and hitting. And I'm proud and honored to be going in to the Hall of Fame on the defensive side and mostly for my defensive abilities. I feel special. (applause) 

This is gonna be hard, so I probably won't say about half of this stuff. I want to thank the Veteran's Committee for this great, great honor. The highest honor in baseball. I thought when the Pirates retired my number that that would be the greatest thing to ever happen to me. It's hard to top this. I don't think I'm gonna make it. I think you can kiss these twelve pages down the drain. I just want to thank everybody. I want to thank the Hall of Fame, I want to thank the Veteran's Committee, I want to thank all the friends and family that made this long trip up here to listen to me speak and hear this crap. Thank you very, very much. Thanks everybody. That's enough. (applause)"
    - Bill Mazeroski's speech on his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame, August 5, 2001. This was following a polished, 23 minute presentation by Dave Winfield. Mr. Mazeroski could not continue due to being overcome by his emotions. The vast majority modern of induction speeches are much, much longer than Mr. Mazeroski's.

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