Neat Quotations

This group of pages has my contributions to the Internet community.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair

"Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." - Clay Shirk, Shirky Principle

"Fortunately, humans are adaptable to stupid designs. Unfortunately, humans are adaptable to stupid designs. If not for the latter, we would have a lot fewer of the former." - Finseth

"The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure that nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something you actually don't know." - Robert Prisig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

"You realize you've created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do." - Anne Lamott

"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, conceive it possible you may be mistaken." - Cromwell

"It's not what people know that causes problems, it's what they know that ain't so." - anon

"Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time." - Hebrew proverb

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - James Madison

"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." - encountered in a course on linguistics

"Dear Algebra: Please stop asking me to find your x. She's never coming back and don't ask y." - Computer Geek

Found on Bruce Schneier's blog, January 2016:

Nice essay that lists ten "truths" about terrorism:

  • We can't keep the bad guys out.
  • Besides, the threat is already inside.
  • More surveillance won't get rid of terrorism, either.
  • Defeating the Islamic State won't make terrorism go away.
  • Terrorism still remains a relatively minor threat, statistically speaking.
  • But don't relax too much, because things will probably get worse before they get better.
  • Meanwhile, poorly planned Western actions can make things still worse.
  • Terrorism is a problem to be managed.
  • To do this, however, we need to move beyond the political posturing that characterizes most public debates about counterterrorism and instead speak honestly about the costs and benefits of different approaches.
  • We need to stop rewarding terrorism.
  • Nothing here will be news to regular readers of this blog.

"If the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn't." - Emerson Pugh

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Pablo Picasso

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." - Neil DeGrasse Tyson

"One by one, the penguins slowly steal my sanity." - Anon

"Some mornings, it just doesn't pay to gnaw through my straps." - emo philips

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." - Edgar Allan Poe

"Any email thread will only accumulate people over time." - Finseth

"Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, but no one is entitled to his or her own facts." - Senator Daniel Moynihan

"People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." - Jamie Raskin

"The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference, but in practice there is." - Finseth

"The reality of an issue is getting past both its theory and practice to arrive at its essence." - Finseth

Truth does not demand belief.

Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing 'yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down. Amen!'

If they did that, we would think that they are pretty insecure about it. - Dan Barker

Common Sense: our "built-in software" that has excellent solutions for the problems encountered on the African savannah. For all other problems, not so much. - Finseth

"I had to get maggots in St. Paul for a Sandbox and might be a bit late depending on parking." - this makes total sense in the context of CONvergence.

Story related by a friend:

So, I went into work recently. It had been one of our typical weeks of -10 to -20 degF weather.
One co-worker said (to my friend), "You'd have to be crazy to live here."
Another co-worker said, "She's from South Dakoa: she doesn't know any better. You're from Texas and I'm from South Carolina: we're the crazy ones."

"Rain: snow that you don't have to shovel." - Finseth

Possible definition of life:

  • Localized reduction in entropy
  • Capable of reproduction
  • Separated from environment

- Finseth

"I assume that I'll find the light at the end of the tunnel...if I can find the tunnel in the dark." - Finseth

"A good architect is someone with the experience to know when to cut corners and when to enforce rigid discipline." - anon

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick

"A ship is safe in a harbor, but that's not what a ship is for." - Admiral Grace Hopper

"Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." - sign found in a restaurant

"Government is a bunch of hardworking people, trapped in dysfunctional systems, who produce invisible things for people who do not want them, on behalf of others who do, for reasons we rarely articulate and can hardly measure." - Ken Miller, author of We Don't Make Widgets.

Found on on 27 July 2007:

  • 1977 - drive to library, use card catalogue, find reference book, use index, flip to page, be happy you found an answer.
  • 1987 - walk to computer, establish connection, telnet, find/grep, be happy with convenience of telnet.
  • 1997 - walk to computer, click search, complain about sucky browser.
  • 2007 - remove phone from pocket, press buttons, complain it's too slow.

Could you guys BE any more spoiled? - snoofle

"When starting a business, everyone makes mistakes. The businesses that succeed are the ones that run out of mistakes before they run out of money." (paraphrased) - told to me by the president of Houghton-Mifflin Company.

"I don't have a problem with anyone who continually invents new mistakes; I am concerned with anyone who continues to repeat the same mistake." - Finseth

Q: Why do we keep having this same discussion every 3 months or so?

A: It used to be said that the sum total of human knowledge was posted on Usenet - every two weeks.

Found on Slashdot:

I was stumped by a question by my daughter, by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday August 13, @05:00AM (#29049005):

She asked me what PH meant.

I said (remembering my chemistry) "percentage hydrogen"

"OK", she said, "why does it go from 0 to 14, and what hydrogen? like hydrogen in water?"

Uhm... lets ring Grandad (my dad was a research chemist).

A bit later...

"He says its the inverse natural logarithm or "cologarithm" of the number of active hydrogen ions" Me "Uh.... that's great".

Later that week...

"Did you get a good mark for your homework?"

"Yes. Only the teacher said that for GCSE If I am asked what PH is just to put 'a measure of acidity and alkalinity', or the marker might not know and mark it incorrect".

"A person is smart, people are dumb." - unknown

"The IQ of a mob is the IQ of its dumbest member divided by the number of mobsters." - Terry Pratchett

"If your actions aren't speaking louder than your words, why should what you say matter?" - Finseth

"Look, there's no metaphysics on earth like chocolate." - Fernando Pessoa

"During the 1960's and 1970's, we sent several men from the Moon to the Earth. Tragically, all were stranded, and none ever returned to the Moon." - found on Slashdot, submitted by forkazoo (138186) on Wednesday August 05 2009

"Rule #101010 of programming: It doesn't matter if you're paranoid or not, they will get around to getting you sooner or later" - Robert Woodhead.

"The road away from a destination is the same road as the one to a destination. To get off the road, you must pick a new destination." - Ursula K. LeGuin (paraphrased)

"Do not meddle in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup." - anon

"An anaysis of the 350 million lines of Windows source code revealed that there were four unused TECO interpreters in there already, so it was very easy to add a fifth one." - shellblog

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary." - James D. Nicoll

"Three perfectly parallel lines which met each other at ninety-degree angles to form a perfect square with seven triangular sides." - Alan E. Nourse, The Universe Between

"Any object, capable of any behavior, is capable of unexpected behavior." - Dick Mills,

Qualities of Spiritual Intelligence

  • The ability to enter into a coventant.
  • The ability to celebrate and to mourn.
  • The attraction to beauty, mercy, and justice.
  • Fluency in the use of metaphor.
  • A capacity for intensity and ambiguity.
  • Mitake Oyasin: Connection to the earth and other creatures.
  • Memento Mori: Constant awareness and acceptance of mortality.
  • Islam: Submission to circumstances and recognition of power.
  • Tonglen: The ability to absorb and transform suffering.
  • Teshuva: The ability to repent or change.

- The Reverend Kendyl Gibbons, First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis

"Artificial Intelligence: the art of making computers that behave like the ones in the movies." - Bill Bulko

"Asking whether a machine can think is about as interesting as asking whether a submarine can swim." - Dijkstra

Jericho Forum's 11 Commandments:

  1. The scope and level of protection should be specific and appropriate to the asset at risk.
  2. Security mechanisms must be pervasive, simple, scalable, and easy to manage.
  3. Assume context at your peril.
  4. Devices and applications must communicate using open, secure protocols.
  5. All devices must be capabile of maintaining their security policy on an untrusted network.
  6. All people, processes, and technology must have declared and transparent levels of trust for any transactions to take place.
  7. Mutual trust-assurance levels must be determiable.
  8. Authentication, authorization, and accountability must interoperate or exchange outside of your locus or area of control.
  9. Access to data should be controlled by the security attributes of the data iself.
  10. Data privacy requires a segregation of duties and privileges.
  11. By default, data must be appropraitely secured when stored, in transit, and in use.

"There are 10 types of people in this world - those that understand binary and those that don't." - anon

"...If the Net *is* a library, then its adding a new wing today (overnight), while removing another; and all the books at the Reserve Desk are being moved to a new location; the online catalog is being augmented by 3 new tools, (one of which is free, one of which was written by the new person in Dept. A); the entire phono disk collection just disappeared; any number of users can simultaneously check out the latest issue of the Journal of Obscure Chemistry; the Reference department works at home now, and we just discovered 10,000 new books in a part of the library that we swear wasn't there yesterday!

"And tomorrow will be different."

- Rick Gates <LB05GATE%UCSBUXA.bitnet@WUVMD.Wustl.Edu>

Math illiteracy affects 7 out of every 5 people.

Beware of programmers who carry screwdrivers.

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I am Craig A. Finseth.

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Last modified Sunday, 2019-09-08T14:11:11-05:00.