We are all of us held together by words; and when words go,
nothing much remains.
- Martin Amis
Midway upon the road of our life
I found myself within a dark wood...
- Dante Alighieri, Inferno
"The moment one give close attention to anything, even a blade of
grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent
world in itself."
- Henry Miller
"We can forgive a man for making a useful thing, as long as he
does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is
that one admires it immensely. All art is useless."
- Oscar Wilde
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name
would smell as sweet."
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1595
"Once you're done writing the code, never open it again unless you
want to see how uncomprehensible and utterly ridiculous it really
- Raphael Sazonov
"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving
to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe
trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is
- Rich Cook
There is an old network saying: Bandwidth problems can be cured
with money. Latency problems are harder because the speed of light
is fixed --- you can't bribe God.
A physicist, an engineer, and a computer scientist were discussing
the nature of God. "Surely a Physicist," said the physicist,
"because early in the Creation, God made Light; and you know,
Maxwell's equations, the dual nature of electromagnetic waves, the
relativistic consequences..." "An Engineer!," said the engineer,
"because before making Light, God split the Chaos into Land and
Water; it takes a hell of an engineer to handle that big amount of
mud, and orderly separation of solids from liquids..." The computer
scientist shouted: "And the Chaos, where do you think it was coming
"You say you want some evolution.
Well, you know, I'm doing what I can."
- Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species
The standard analogy from the "Objects Are Yummy" School is that a
class is like a cookie-cutter and objects are like
cookies. Presumably, the garbage collector is much like a cookie
- Meilir Page-Jones, Fundamentals of Object-Oriented Design in UML
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
- Dylan Thomas, "And Death Shall Have No Dominion"
The ideal situation occurs when the things that we regard as
beautiful are also regarded by other people as useful.
- Donald Knuth
"You want to be my friend? Well, ok, but I don't want anybody
thinkin' that I'm a robosexual. If anyone asks, you're my
- "Bender" from the cartoon series "Futurama"
Root file system tuning is normally done during initial system
software installation. Tuning the root file system after
installation has little useful effect because so many files have
already been written.
You can tune a file system, but you can't tune a fish.
- man tunefs on HP-UX
Go on, prove me wrong. Destroy the fabric of the universe. See if
- Terry Pratchett
I'd like to know if I could compare you to a summer's day. Because
-- well, June 12th was quite nice, and...
- Verence in "Wyrd Sisters", Terry Pratchett
The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it's as
though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has
started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it
out all yourself from the clues.
- Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures
Luck is my middle name. Mind you, my first name is Bad.
- Rincewind in "Interesting Times", Terry Pratchett
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
- John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn
Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes
hurtling down the highway.
- Andrew S. Tanenbaum
Before ten years are over, the Devil's in it if I have not sucked
out some of the life-blood from the mysteries of this universe, in a
way that no purely mortal lips or brains could do.
- Ada Lovelace, Letter to Charles Babbage, 1843
Q: What do you get when you cross a mobster with an international standard?
A: Someone who makes you an offer you can't understand.
- Paul Mockapetris
"I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never
actually known what the question is."
- Douglas Adams, the computer "Deep Thought" in "Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy"
Some people react badly to smart people. Others take advantage of
- Linus Torvalds
+++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe and Reboot +++
"Interestin'," said Ridcully. "Anyone know what that means?"
"Damn," said Ponder. "It's crashed again."
Ridcully looked mystified. "Has it? I never even saw it take off."
"I mean it's...it's sort of gone a little mad," said Ponder.
- Terry Pratchett, Hogfather, 1998
If anything can go wrong, it will.
- Murphy's Law
A man with one watch knows what time it is.
A man with two watches is never sure.
- Segal's Law
The first ninety percent of the task takes ten percent of the
time, and the last ten percent takes the other ninety percent.
- Ninety-ninety rule of project schedules.
I keep six honest serving men.
They taught me all I knew.
Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.
- Rudyard Kipling
People would rather live with a problem they cannot solve than
accept a solution they cannot understand.
- Woolsey and Swanson
Divide et impera.
(Latin for "Divide and Rule.")
- Machiavelli, 1532
Less is more.
- Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto, 1855
Time discovers truth.
- Seneca, Moral Essays, 22 AD
Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never
know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is
- Bertrand Russel, Recent Words on the Principles of Mathematics, 1901
"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be;
and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865
Except for totally impulsive or psychotic behavior, every human
decision comes down to the choice between two alternatives.
- Jeff Duntemann
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
- Joyce Kilmer, 1913
Practice yourself, for heaven's sake, in little things;
and thence proceed to greater.
- Epictetus, Discourses IV.i
Woe be to him that reads but one book.
- George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum, 1640
Functional Programming as a minority discipline in the field of
programming languages bears a certain resemblance to socialism in
its relation to conventional, capitalist economic doctrine. Their
proponents are often brilliant intellectuals perceived to be radical
and rather unrealistic by the mainstream, but little-by-little
changes are made to conventional languages and economics to
incorporate features of the radical proposals.
- Morris J.H Jr, Real Programming in Functional Languages, 1982
Two fundamental rules for program optimization:
Rule 1: Don't do it.
Rule 2: Don't do it yet.
- Jackson M, Principles of Program Design, 1975
Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but
never to show their absence.
- Dijkstra E.W., Notes on Structured Programming, 1972
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight
you, then you win.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of
- Erich Fromm
The average reader is more interested in fun than in intellectual
- William A. Katz
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
- Isaac Asimov
OK, so what's the speed of dark?
- Steven Wright
The things that will destroy us are:
politics without principle; pleasure without conscience;
wealth without work; knowledge without character;
business without morality; science without humanity;
and worship without sacrifice.
- Mahatma Gandhi
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
- Theodore Roethke, The Waking
You are never given a wish without also being given the power to
make it true.
You may have to work for it, however.
- Richard Bach, Illusions, 1977
Give me a lever long enough, and a place to stand, and I will move the Earth.
That was always the dream, wasn't it? "I wish I'd known then what I
know now?" But when you got older you found out that you now wasn't
you then. You then was a twerp. You then was what you had to start
out on the rocky road of becoming you now, and one of the rocky
patches on that road was being a twerp.
- Terry Pratchett, Night Watch
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science.
- Albert Einstein, What I Believe, 1990
Civilization advances by extending the number of important
operations which we can perform without thinking about them.
- Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics, 1991
Science must begin with myths, and the criticism of myths.
- Sir Karl Popper, The Philosophy of Science, 1957
I got the idea for the mouse while attending a talk at a computer
conference. The speaker was so boring that I started daydreaming
and hit upon the idea.
- Doug Engelbart
An active field of science is like an immense anthill;
the individual almost vanishes into the mass of minds tumbling
over each other, carrying information from place to place, passing
it around at the speed of light.
- Lewis Thomas, "Natural Science," in the Lives of a Cell, 1974