Somebody said it . . .

I have been collecting these quotes since at least the early 1990s and have recently developed the practice of always adding new quotes at the top of this page rather than pretend that it is possible to organize them into some sort of meaningful taxonomy or something. I hope that you find them entertaining and possibly even enlightening.

Daniel Boulet



Apartheid was legal.
The Holocaust was legal.
Slavery was legal.
Colonialism was legal.
Legality is a matter of power, not justice.

- (possibly) Chris Rock (from https://www.instagram.com/p/BFqvhYqim6W/)


I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.
- Scout Finch (character in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee)


The purpose of education is not to validate ignorance but to overcome it.
- Lawrence M. Crauss (Canadian-American theoretical physicist)


It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.
- Gabriel Garcia Márquez (philosopher; 1927-2014)
I've always wondered who said that.

One of the astronauts said "when we originally went to the Moon, our total focus was on the Moon. We weren't thinking about looking back at the Earth. But now that we've done it, that may well have been the most important reason we went."
- David Loy (philosopher)
From the film "Overview" at http://vimeo.com/55073825 (last referenced 2013/05/08)

If Fox is "news you can trust", wouldn't you have been better informed?
- found on a photo posted to Facebook immediately after the 2012 US election.


If you're only going to make one movie in life, then why not 'Goldfinger?'
- Tania Mallet
She played Tilly Masterson in the James Bond film Goldfinger (her character was killed by Odd Job fairly early in the film). Since she was making far more as a model, her acting career essentially started and ended with her appearance in Goldfinger (she did have small bit parts in a handful of other movies).


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but raptors are pretty dang scary.
- Devin J. Monroe


You're allowed to believe in a god. You're allowed to believe unicorns live in your shoes for all I care. But the day you start telling me how to wear my shoes so I don't upset the unicorns, I have a problem with you. The day you start involving the unicorns in making decisions for this country, I have a BIG problem with you.
- Matthew Schultz


I decided to see if anyone has estimated the number of grains of sand on Earth. The answer I found was between 10^17 and 10^20 grains. On Google+, Phil did some math and estimated there are 400 billion galaxies in the Universe. Given that each galaxy has about a billion stars (probably more), I estimated the number of stars at 400 Quintillion, or 4 * 10^20. So there are literally more stars in the Universe than grains of sand on Earth.
- TechyDad (comment #49 on Bad Astronomy article at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/03/23/an-ultradeep-image-thats-full-galaxies/ (last checked 2012/03/24))


I have absolutely no conceivable use for this device. I do, however, want one badly...
- Doubter (commenter on an arstechnica.com article describing a Linux computer that fits in a USB keyfob form factor)
the article located at http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2012/02/linux-computer-the-size-of-a-thumb-drive-now-available-for-preorder.ars (last checked 2012/03/05)


Another time, I was bypassing screening (again on official FBI business) with my .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a TSA officer noticed the clip of my pocket knife. "You can't bring a knife on board," he said. I looked at him incredulously and asked, "The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don't trust me with a knife?" His response was equal parts predictable and frightening, "But knives are not allowed on the planes."
- Steve Moore (former FBI Special Agent with years of anti-terrorism experience) on his blog at http://gmancasefile.blogspot.com/2012/01/tsa-fail.html (last checked 2012/02/29) - this blog entry is definitely worth reading!


The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so.
- Josh Billings in his Encyclopedia of Wit and Wisdom (1874); found in the How Java's Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere document described in the next quote.


Thirteen Prevalent Misconceptions about Floating-Point Arithmetic:
  1. Floating-point numbers are all at least slightly uncertain.
  2. In floating-point arithmetic, every number is a stand-in for all numbers that differ from it in digits beyond the last digit stored, so 3 and 3.0E0 and 3.0D0 are all slightly different.
  3. Arithmetic much more precise than the data it operates upon is needless, and wasteful.
  4. In floating-point arithmetic nothing is ever exactly 0; but if it is, no useful purpose is served by distinguishing +0 from -0.
  5. Subtractive cancellation always causes numerical inaccuracy, or is the only cause of it.
  6. A singularity always degrades accuracy when data approach it, so ill-conditioned data or problems deserve inaccurate results.
  7. Classical formulas taught in school and found in handbooks and software must have passed the Test of Time, not merely withstood it.
  8. Progress is inevitable: When better formulas are found, they supplant the worse.
  9. Modern backward error-analysis explains all error, or excuses it.
  10. Algorithms known to be numerically unstable should never be used.
  11. Bad results are the fault of bad data or bad programmers, never bad programming language design.
  12. Most features of IEEE Floating-Point Standard 754 are too arcane to matter to most programmers.
  13. 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty.' - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. ... from Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn (In other words, you needn't sweat over ugly details).
- Prof. William Kahan and Joseph D. Darcy in a presentation titled How Java's Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere originally presented 1 March 1998 at the invitation of the ACM 1998 Workshop on Java for High-Performance Network Computing. The entire presentation is worth reading even though it failed to persuade Sun to fix Java's floating point problems. It can be found at http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~wkahan/JAVAhurt.pdf (last checked 2012/02/27). There is also some REALLY GOOD STUFF at Dr. Kahan's personal web page at http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~wkahan/ (last checked 2012/02/27).


I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.
- Frederic Douglass (c1818-1895)


Matter that we can't see directly but we know exists but can't be normal matter or even interact with it directly bends space which warps the path of light which can be used if you have millions of galaxies at your disposal to see the subtle distortions of background galaxy light which smears them out and lets you map the location and density of that invisible matter and see that it's everywhere even well outside the visible boundaries of galaxies which means it fills the Universe in every direction and at all distances.
- Phil Plait 'summarizing' an explanation of dark matter on his Bad Astronomy site (article at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/02/16/dark-matter-apparently-is-midichlorians/)


Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death.
- Harold Wilson (1916-1995)


The first time some creationist says something crazy about junk DNA or how evolution is just a theory . . . well, it's common garden ignorance. Not their fault, we all have to learn things some time. The second time they say it, it's a lie. The third time, it's a policy to lie.
- Jemima Cole (http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/01/22/why-i-am-an-atheist-jemima-cole (last checked 2012/01/22))


As a member of the Walkman generation, I have made peace with the fact that I will require a hearing aid long before I die, and of course, it won't be a hearing aid, it will be a computer I put in my body. So when I get into a car -- a computer I put my body into -- with my hearing aid -- a computer I put inside my body -- I want to know that these technologies are not designed to keep secrets from me, and to prevent me from terminating processes on them that work against my interests.
- Cory Doctorow (at about the 27 minute mark of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUEvRyemKSg; transcript available at https://github.com/jwise/28c3-doctorow/blob/master/transcript.md (last checked 2012/01/05))


Freedom in the future will require us to have the capacity to monitor our devices and set meaningful policy on them, to examine and terminate the processes that run on them, to maintain them as honest servants to our will, and not as traitors and spies working for criminals, thugs, and control freaks.
- Cory Doctorow (at about the 28:20 mark of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUEvRyemKSg; transcript available at https://github.com/jwise/28c3-doctorow/blob/master/transcript.md (last checked 2012/01/05))


A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author.
- S. C. Johnson


Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.
- I don't know who said this - sorry
Taken from a eulogy for Steve Jobs written by his sister, Mona Simpson. Published in the New York Times 2011/10/30 at the URL http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/mona-simpsons-eulogy-for-steve-jobs.html (last referenced 2011/10/31)

The peculiar character of ideas is that no one possesses an idea the less because others possess more; he who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine, just as he who lights his candle at mine receives light without darkening me.
- Thomas Jefferson (in an apparently famous 1813 letter to Isaac MacPherson)


Rick Perry called for prayer to help protect Texas from drought. Since this did not work, it means one of two things.
  1. God doesn't exist.
  2. God doesn't like Texas.
Either way, I'm thinking it would be a bad idea to elect Rick Perry, because God may not like him or Texas, and if God doesn't exist, do you really want someone who relies on nothing to get things done?

- Gene Madison (in a comment on the Volokh Conspiracy at http://volokh.com/2011/09/10/the-fires-this-time/)


The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.
- Randall Munroe - author of the xkcd comic (quote appears as popup text over the comic at http://xkcd.com/893/)


I have heard it said that style is not substance, but without style what is substance?
- Alfred E. Kahn (1917-2010)
See http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/04/on-bureaucratese-and-gobbledygook.html (last referenced 2011/04/26) for more information including a "must see" paragraph from his January, 2010 New York Times obituary.

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
- G. K. Chesterton


History is a vast early warning system.
- Norman Cousins (1915-1990), U.S. editor and professor


Those who can remember the past are condemned to agonize first and then to repeat it.
- George Kaufman


If you were really a good customer, you would order more.
- sign in a restaurant that we ate at last night


Astrology is not rubbish. It is a highly effective manner of determining if someone is a gullible buffoon.
- LogicLover (a commenter on Martin Robbon's The Lay Scientist blog on the Guardian site at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2011/jan/24/1)


The more general rule is: If you have personal knowledge of something in a news story, you'll notice that they get it wrong. Amazing, innit, that they get everything else right?
- Woof (a commenter on Phil Plait's "Bad Astronomy" blog on the article at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/01/24/betelgeuse-followup)
P.S. I will add that my personal experience supports this notion - the "media" has managed to get wrong (in ways which were fundamental to the story) every single one of the relative handful of news stories that I have known the "inside info" on. Rather disconcerting that!

When a man makes up his mind without evidence, no evidence disproving his opinion will change his mind.
- Robert A. Heinlen (from a letter from Heinlen to John Presser in July of 1978 - see http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/01/i-have-no-wish-to-have-man-who-doesnt.html)


All this mamby-pamby resource management crap is for Kindergartners and Excel users. Real Programmers flip bits with soldering irons, and we like it this way.
- Slashdot user Just Some Guy (from http://developers.slashdot.org/story/10/12/07/0026224/Programming-Mistakes-To-Avoid)
P.S. I never said that I agreed with all of these quotes . . .

Whatever your position (on global warming), be sure to state it clearly - through your word and actions - to your children and your grandchildren. Future generations will want to know what you did about global warming at a time when the world understood the severity of the problem and had a chance to do something about it.
- Peter Adamski (letter to the editor in the Edmonton Journal August 1 or 2, 2010)


Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."
1853, Ten Sermons of Religion by Theodore Parker,
Of Justice and the Conscience,
Start Page 66, Quote Page 84-85,
Crosby, Nichols and Company, Boston.
Condensed down to

The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

by about 1900. Often expressed as

The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.

See http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/15/arc-of-universe/ for more info (last visited 2015/03/08)

We can assert with certainty that the universe is all center, or that the center of the universe is everywhere and its circumference nowhere.
- Giordano Bruno (in 1584)
A rather elegant way of saying that the universe is without bound.

Things like J2EE, CORBA, SOA are not designed to solve everyday problems software engineers face every day. Oh, they sometimes manage to do that but it's accidental.
- Andres Kutt (Learnings from Five Years as a Skype Architect)


Do we have the courage to let go of our beliefs in order to grab onto what is true?
- Sara Mayhew (Mangaka) (in a video posted on the Bad Astronomy blog here)


Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.
- Desmond Tutu (in a 2010/03/12 opinion piece in the Washington Post)


I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said.
- Alan Greenspan


Don't write so that you can be understood, write so that you can't be misunderstood.
- William Howard Taft


The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.
- William Safire


Of course Science doesn't know everything. Science knows that it doesn't know everything. Otherwise, it would stop.
- Dara Ó Briain (comedian)


Innocence is no defense against bureaucracy.
- Rose D. Friedman (from http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/08/rose_d_friedman.html)


I've gone into hundreds of [fortune-teller's parlors], and have been told thousands of things, but nobody ever told me I was a policewoman getting ready to arrest her.
- New York City Detective (from http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/392.html)


This nation, the nation of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, is debating whether or not the commission of war crimes is effective?
- pres, PA (apparently anonymous response to an article in the NY Times suggesting that the central issue in the debate on torture is whether or not it worked)


Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it.
- George Bernard Shaw


A man has as many selves as he has situations.
- Daniel G. Hill (1923-2003)


Avoid making predictions, especially about the future.
This quote, along with variations on the same theme, has been attributed to all sorts of people including Yogi Berra, Niels Bohr, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, George Bernhard Shaw, Victor Borge, Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx, Enrico Fermi, Confucius, Woody Allen and even Dan Quayle according to (http://www.larry.denenberg.com/predictions.html).


Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
- Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975)
He first wrote this in a 1964 article in American Zoologist titled "Biology, Molecular and Organismic and then used it as the title of a 1973 essay first published in The American Biology Teacher, volume 35, pages 125-129.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution for more information.


The various properties of DNA which I have mentioned make evolution inevitable. The existence of an elaborate self-reproducing code of genetical information ensures continuity and specificity; the intrinsic capacity for mutation provides variability; the capacity for self-reproduction ensures potentially geometric increase and therefore a struggle for existence; the existence of genetic variability ensures differential survival of variants and therefore natural selection; and this results in evolutionary transformation.
- Julian Huxley (1887-1975)
Julian Huxley was the brother of the writer Aldous Huxley and the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, a friend and supporter of Charles Darwin (according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Huxley)


Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology. Only if symbols are construed to mean what they are not intended to mean can there arise imaginary, insoluble conflicts. ...the blunder leads to blasphemy: the Creator is accused of systematic deceitfulness.
- Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975)
from his 1973 essay Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution


(Evolution) is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow - this is what evolution is.
- the Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)


The effort of using machines to mimic the human mind has always struck me as rather silly. I'd rather use them to mimic something better.
- Edsger Wybe Dijkstra (1930-2002)
Source: On the cruelty of really teaching computer science @ http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/ewd10xx/EWD1036.PDF


An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
- G. K. Chesterton
Source: http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/26278.html


I can't understand it. I can't even understand the people who can understand it.
- Queen Juliana (Queen of the Netherlands until her abdication in 1980)
(I've always wondered who said that)
Source: http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/1151.html)


Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Kyle Wilson's axioms of software development:

It is impossible, by examining any significant piece of completed code, to determine within a factor of two how many man-hours it took to produce that code.


And the corollary:

If you can't tell how long a piece of code would take when you have the finished product available, what chance do you think you have before the first line of code is written?
- Kyle Wilson (http://gamearchitect.net/Articles/SoftwareIsHard.html)
Author of this page's view:
Whether or not one believes this axiom or its corollary, using them as an excuse to avoid even trying to plan out a software project is foolish and, at least arguably, intellectually dishonest. The planning process itself often reveals or develops insights which can, if paid attention to, significantly contribute to the project's likelihood of success.


"Best practice" is intended as a default policy for those who don't have the necessary data or training to do a reasonable risk assessment.
- Eugene Spafford


Don't look at what the industry is doing, look at what they're not doing and focus on that. That's where the real disruptive technology comes from.
- Alexei Erchak (founder of Luminus Devices)


Rights are rights. None of us can or should pick and choose whose rights we will defend and whose rights we will ignore.
- Justice Minister Irwin Cotler (during final debate on a Canadian law which legalizes gay marriage)


I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are still truly good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness; I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too; I can feel the sufferings of millions; and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again ... I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.
- Anne Frank


The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.
- B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement


Beware the 12-division strategy for a 10-division Army.
- retiring Army, Chief of Staff Eric K. Shinseki


It's like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved. The pig is committed.
- Martina Navratilova (explaining how she views her commitment to tennis)


Why is it a privilege for a soldier to die for your country, but a burden for a corporation to pay taxes?
- unknown
("stolen" from a pseudo-.signature in a reader's comment at http://ideas.4brad.com/archives/000064.html)

In the treaty councils the commissioners have claimed that our country had been sold to the Government. Suppose a white man should come to me and say, 'Joseph, I like your horses, and I want to buy them.' I say to him, 'No, my horses suit me, I will not sell them.' Then he goes to my neighbor, and says to him: 'Joseph has some good horses. I want to buy them, but he refuses to sell.' My neighbor answers, 'Pay me the money, and I will sell you Joseph's horses.' The white man returns to me and says, 'Joseph, I have bought your horses, and you must let me have them.' If we sold our lands to the Government, this is the way they were bought.
- Chief Joseph


Definitions of success:

Moving from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.
- Winston Churchill
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
Generally attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson although it seems quite unlikely that he actually wrote it. The first "appearance" appears to have been an entry in a 1904 contest in the Brown Book Magazine although it's even possible that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote it. See Success (idea) for more info.


Let me be a free man - free to travel, free to shop, free to work, free to trade, where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself - and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.
- Chief Joseph (in an 1879 speech to the U.S. Government)


We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.
- Fred 'Mister' Rogers


Learning a few new ways of opening and closing programs and spending an hour studying new commands is easier than spending all weekend every six months or so trying to get a computer running again.
- Al Fasoldt This irrefutable truth has been and will continue to cause Microsoft some serious problems over the next while . . .
Source: Microsoft's dilemma: Fix Windows or give up trying?


What's hard is convincing people that if they understood the underlying computer science, they could write the code in the language which best suited the particular application, rather than being stuck writing in Java, or whatever HLL is popular at the time.

and

What too many people miss is the fact that if you can't break a problem down into its fundamental algorithms, or translate those algorithms into an arbitrary language, your days as a programmer will be few, irrespective of how well you know a particular language.
- gillbates (Slashdot pseudonym)
Source: Bitter Java (a review of a Java book that actually sounds useful)


Do only what only you can do.
- Edsger Wybe Dijkstra (1930-2002)
when asked how to select a topic for research
Source: obituary for E.W. Dijkstra
More Dijkstra quotes from various places:

I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.
- Lucille Ball


Perhaps Linux shouldn't be regarded as an operating system at all, but more as a sophisticated multi-player game with a large number of enthusiastic players. You can lose yourself in Linux for hours, tweaking here, updating there. It's great fun if you like that sort of thing. But if you need to produce a document, spreadsheet or presentation, you're still likely to be able to do it faster and better by sticking with the Microsoft devil you know.
- Andrew Thomas
Source: Why free software is a hard sell


Without Turing, I'd be either out of a job, or working for the Nazis.
- unknown IT technician
Source: Alan Mathison Turing 1912-1954


The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.
- Tom Clancy


If you're not corrupt, you just don't have enough power.
- Slashdot posting (Jonavin)


This child has talent. She needs a better box of paints.
- E2 posting (located here on 2002/12/31)
This quote is attributed to a fresco artist who made the remark upon seeing the work of a young Lois Lenski (1893-1974), an illustrator of children's books.



Fortunately the authorities did not know that Turing was a homosexual. Otherwise we might have lost the war.
- Jack Good (one of the people who worked with Turing at Bletchley Park)
A bit of background might be in order:
Alan Turing played a MAJOR role in both the development of the earliest computers and the breaking of the German Enigma codes during the Second World War. There are those who believe that without the intelligence gained from the decrypted Enigma messages, the war might have been lost (i.e. Britain defeated or forced to come to terms with Germany, the consequences of which could have been the US coming to terms with Germany so that it could concentrate on Japan). There is no doubt that the war would have lasted much longer.

After the war, Turing continued to develop his ideas about computing and continued to work on various top secret projects for certain parts of the British government. Turing's homosexuality was eventually exposed (he was convicted of being a homosexual under a British law of the time).

Turing committed suicide in 1954. Shortly before his suicide, it was becoming apparent that the British authorities were interfering with Turing's ability to work on secret projects because of his homosexuality. Many believe that he committed suicide either directly or indirectly because of harassment from the "authorities" over his homosexuality.



One cannot guess the real difficulties of a problem before having solved it.
- Carl Ludwig Siegel


The most terrible thing about death is that a life-time's reading is laid to waste.
- Anon


Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune.
- Kin Hubbard


To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.
- Hypatia of Alexandria (click here for more information)


Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.
- Hypatia of Alexandria (click here for more information)


Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering.
- Arthur C. Clarke


Predicting the future is easy. Getting it right is the hard part.
- Howard Frank, director of the Information Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.
Source: Computerworld June 3, 1996 page 70


I believe in free speech as long as you say the right thing.
- Ralph Klein, Premier of the Province of Alberta, Canada, during the 1997 provincial election campaign (his party won roughly 75% of the seats)
Source: widely reported by various Alberta newspapers.

My question: who gets to decide what's the right thing?


I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
- Wilson Mizner


Stripped from the veil of Microsoft's protestation that it merely engaged in highly competitive behavior, Microsoft's deceptive statements regarding the viability and scope of the WISE Program are, at their core, like a classic "bait-and-switch" tactic perpetrated on the targeted ISVs, developers, and UNIX users whom Microsoft sought to convert to Windows use and on its WISE Program partner Bristol whom Microsoft coopted into the role of facilitator of this tactic.
- Judge Janet C. Hall, United States District Judge on page 55 of her August 31, 2000 ruling awarding punitive damages of $1,000,000 to Bristol Technology Inc. from Microsoft Corporation for the "reckless and wanton" deceptive trade practices used by Microsoft against Bristol (Civil action 3.98-CV-1657 (JCH), District of Connecticut.
Source: Taken from the judge's ruling (i.e. in the public record)


Star Office actually looks so much like (Microsoft) Office that some people get confused and start saving their documents before they print.
- Linus Torvalds (speaking at Spring Comdex/99 in Chicago, April 19, 1999)


The truth is the truth. An opinion is an opinion. Don't confuse the two.
- Larry McVoy


On networking architecture: Do you want protocols that look nice or protocols that work nice?
- Mike Padlipsky, internet architect


On programming skill: Average programmers should be rounded up and placed in internment camps to keep them away from keyboards.
- attributed to a "Well known Linux personage"


Architect: Someone who knows the difference between that which could be done and that which should be done.
- Larry McVoy


Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
- Dale Carnegie


Friends help you move. Real friends help you move dead bodies.
- Anon


If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time--a tremendous whack.
- Winston Churchill


Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.
- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)


Even if the voices are not real, they have some good ideas.
- Anon


Don't criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes, that way when you criticize him you're a mile away and have his shoes.
- unknown
(stolen from a posting to Slashdot)


During a three-day period, the Frontier Group prepared 350 different software packages in five days in an effort to get the alpha version of TurboLinux for IA-64 out.
Quoted from a CNET article describing the first TurboLinux Alpha release for the Intel Itanium processor.


"It's not a historian's job to be liked," he said, adding that his "domestic staff" over the years including many young women from other cultures, including a Barbadian, a Punjabi, a Sri Lankan and a Pakistani. "All (were) very attractive girls with very nice breasts."
- David Irving (Holocaust denier, racist, Nazi polemicist and twister of the truth)
(quoted in an article reporting that Irving had lost his libel suite against Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin books)
Personal sidebar: it is a historian's job to be respectful of the truth - a part of the job description apparently lost on David Irving.

Perfection is reached, not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
(Wind Sand and Stars. Trans. Lewis Galantiere. New York: Harcourt Inc. 1967)


I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
- Thomas Watson (1874 - 1956), Chairman of IBM, 1943


The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C', the idea must be feasible.
- A Yale University management professor in response to student Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)


Back in the 1970s we didn't have the space shuttle to get all excited about. We had to settle for men walking on the crummy moon.
- Russell Beland, Springfield - from a Washington Post contest in which participants were asked to tell Gen-Xers how much harder they had it in the old days.


Diana . . . proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.
- excerpt from Earl Spencer's Funeral Oration for his sister Diana, Princess of Wales on September 6, 1997. The BBC's coverage of the funeral can be found here.


Security rule #489: One of the weakest links in any system's security is the user.

Corollary (#489 b): If you get what you asked for, don't be suprised.

- Chad Miller (Philosophy of Security mailing list participant)


Mistreatment of Jews in Germany may be considered virtually eliminated.
- Cordell Hull (U.S. Secretary of State), 1933.


Why, they couldn't hit an elephant at this dis_____.
- Last words of General John. B. Sedgwick, Union Army officer at the Battle of Spotsylvania, 1864, U.S. Civil War.


Now comes the mystery.
- Last words of Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, d. March 8, 1887


I am about to -- or I am going to -- die: either expression is correct.
- Last words of Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, d. 1702


I'm bored with it all.
- Last words of Winston Churchill before slipping into a coma. He died nine days later on January 24, 1965


When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

- Inscription on the British 2nd Division Memorial at Kohima


When Hitler attacked the Jews, I was not a Jew, therefore, I was not concerned.

And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.

And when Hitler attacked the unions and industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.

Then, Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church -- and there was nobody left to be concerned.

- Reverend Martin Niemoller (U.S. Congressional Record p. 31636, 1968-10-14)

There are variations on the same passage . . .

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade-unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade-unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

- Reverend Martin Niemoller


I can't find the exact reference for this one so I'll have to present it in story form:

During the Battle of Britain, Churchill would sometimes visit Fighter Command's Operations Room. Towards the end of one visit during which Churchill witnessed a particularily intense day of fighting, Churchill is said to have asked one of the officers in charge 'what were our reserves?'. Churchill was apparently somewhat taken aback by the response - 'none'.



Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.
- W.S. Churchill to General Ismay on the way back from a visit to Fighter Command on August 16, 1940. On this particular day, every single squadron in the area was engaged (this is probably the day that the question in the previous story was asked). The sentence was repeated in a speech by Churchill to Parliament on August 20, 1940.


A man once asked Mozart how to write a symphony. Mozart told him to study at the conservatory for six or eight years, then apprentice with a composer for four or five more years, then begin writing a few sonatas, pieces for string quartets, piano concertos, etc. and in another four or five years he would be ready to try a full symphony. The man said, "But Mozart, didn't you write a symphony at age eight?" Mozart replied, "Yes, but I didn't have to ask how."
- unknown


Hacker /n./ 1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. 2. One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming. 3. A person capable of appreciating hack value. 4. A person who is good at programming quickly. 5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in `a Unix hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.) 6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example. 7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.
- The Jargon File
I can't resist pointing out that none of the above definitions describe activity which is even remotely illegal or unethical. People who break into computer systems (i.e. any form of unauthorized access regardless of why) aren't hackers. At best they are trespassers, villains and/or vandals. They are most definitely not worthy of any honest person's respect.



Our business model works even if all Internet software is free. We are still selling operating systems. What does Netscape's business model look like (if that happens)? Not very good.
- Bill Gates in a June 10, 1996 interview with London's Financial Times


The recent assertions that Microsoft had its current Internet strategy in play as early as December 1993 are utter nonsense.
- John Dvorak, PC Magazine in late 1998 during the Microsoft Antitrust trial (quote taken from here (actually, taken from their 981216 Wednesday's Quotable section))


Microsoft's biggest and most dangerous contribution to the software industry may be the degree to which it has lowered user expectations.
- Esther Schindler, OS/2 Magazine (quote taken from "http://www.vcnet.com/bms/quotable.html" (broken link))


When the history of the late twentieth century is written, Microsoft will be viewed as having had a primarily negative impact on the computing industry. They will be described as a major corporation whose products and business practices significantly impeded the rate of innovation in the computing industry.
- Daniel Boulet, editor of this page, in about 1995 (i.e. long before the start of the infamous Microsoft Antitrust Trial)
Microsoft seems to have come to understand over the past decade and a half that in order to succeed, the industry as a whole must have room to "do its thing" even when said "thing" happens to be incompatible with Microsoft's vision. Consequently, my opinion of Microsoft and its business practices has softened since I wrote this quote. Of course, it is also no longer the "late twentieth century". (written in 2011)

In support of the previous statement and keeping in mind that most real innovation (i.e. fresh new ideas) come out of small groups of people, I bring you the following gem:

Asked how small software companies could compete on products that Microsoft wants to fold into Windows, [Microsoft chief operating officer Bob] Herbold told Bloomberg News they could either fight a losing battle, sell out to Microsoft or a larger company or 'not go into business to begin with.'
- Newsweek, March 1998 (quote taken from "http://www.vcnet.com/bms/quotable.html" (broken link))


Microsoft is a company that is desperately resisting change. Its strategy is two-tiered. One is to desperately hang onto what it's got: making the operating system important even though we're moving into a world where the OS becomes steadily less important. At the same time, it is desperately looking for the next high-growth field that it'll make money on. So when the OS finally does start to decline, it will find a new field. It's targeted two areas: one is media and the other is services. Everything it's doing is going into that. It is a classic case of a change-hating company; it is desperately trying to retard change.
- Paul Saffo, Institute for the Future (quote taken from "http://www.vcnet.com/bms/quotable.html" (broken link))


Do look after our visiting suits, they come from a strange land and have strange rituals like "Trade Shows". Be assured they find our rituals of talking about technical material in detail just as strange. They have been living under an oppressive binary-only single OS regime, and as refugees need sympathy and education. It's very hard to teach someone the value of freedom but please do try. And I'm told we do share some common rituals. Our "flame war" is apparently held in person in their land and called "project meeting".
- Alan Cox (major Linux kernel developer) in an article discussing the implications arising from the appearance of suits in the Linux community. warning: there are enough typos in the article that it gets a bit hard to follow in places.


Not exactly a quote but I couldn't resist:

Q. What's the difference between a used car salesman and a computer salesman?
A. A used car salesman knows how to drive a car.
From Slashdot

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