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Quotes of the day: Robert Heinlein
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Published Sunday, July 06, 2014 @ 8:00 PM EDT
Jul 06 2014

Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 - May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers," he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre in his time. He set a standard for scientific and engineering plausibility, and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.

A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.

A government-supported artist is an incompetent whore!

A long and wicked life followed by five minutes of perfect grace gets you into Heaven. An equally long life of decent living and good works followed by one outburst of taking the name of the Lord in vain, then have a heart attack at that moment and be damned for eternity. Is that the system?

A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.

A reverence for life does not require one to respect nature's obvious mistakes.

A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.

Age does not bring wisdom. Often it merely changes simple stupidity into arrogant conceit.

Age is not an accomplishment, and youth is not a sin.

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children.

Almost everything about a human creature is ridiculous, except its ability to suffer bravely and die gallantly for whatever it loves and believes in.

Always listen to the experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it.

Always tell her she's beautiful, especially if she isn't.

An armed society is a polite society.

An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.

Aside from a cold appreciation of my own genius I felt that I was a modest man.

Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.

Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.

Belief gets in the way of learning.

Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.

Cats have no sense of humor, they have terribly inflated egos, and they are very touchy.

Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.

Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.

Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.

Don't explain computers to laymen. Simpler to explain sex to virgins.

Early rising may not be a vice... but it is certainly no virtue. The old saw about the early bird just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed.

Easy times for individuals are bad times for the race. Adversity is a strainer which refuses to pass the ill equipped.

Every law that was ever written opened up a new way to graft.

Everybody lies about sex.

Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.

Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.

Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards.

Free will is a golden thread running through the frozen matrix of fixed events.

Fulfillment in life is loving a good woman and killing a bad man.

Getting up early does not get more work done... any more than you can make a piece of string longer by cutting off one end and tying it onto the other.

Government is an inescapable disease of human beings.

History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion- i.e., none to speak of.

How you behave toward cats here below determines your status in Heaven.

I believe in the honest craft of workmen. Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones.

I don't trust a man who talks about ethics when he is picking my pocket.

I usually read the obituaries first as there is always the happy chance that one of them will make my day.

If a country can't save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say: Let the damned thing go down the drain!

If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people.

If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.

In a society in which it is a moral offense to be different from your neighbor your only escape is to never let them find out.

In all matters of government the correct answer is usually: Do nothing.

In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.

Intangibles are the most honest merchandise anyone can sell. They are always worth whatever you are willing to pay for them and they never wear out.

It is better to copulate than never.

It never does any good to warn a man about his wife.

It's amazing how much mature wisdom resembles being too tired.

Life is short, but the years are long.

Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.

Logic is a way of saying that anything that didn't happen yesterday won't happen tomorrow.

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Love your country, but never trust its government.

Man can be chained but he cannot be domesticated, and eventually he always breaks his chains.

Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.

Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.

Morals- all correct moral laws- derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.

Most women are damn fools and children. But they've got more range than we've got. The brave ones are braver, the good ones are better- and the vile ones are viler, for that matter.

Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

Never appeal to a man's better nature. He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.

Never frighten a little man. He'll kill you.

Never try to outstubborn a cat.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of time and annoys the pig.

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do.

No matter where or what, there are makers, takers, and fakers.

Nobody ever wins a lawsuit but the lawyers.

Obscurity is the refuge of incompetence.

Old age is not an accomplishment; it is just something that happens to you despite yourself, like falling downstairs.

One man's religion is another man's belly laugh.

People don’t really want change, any change at all- and xenophobia is very deep-rooted. But we progress, as we must- if we are to go out to the stars.

Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.

Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men.

Revolutions are not won by enlisting the masses. Revolution is a science only a few are competent to practice. It depends on correct organization and, above all, on communications.

Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.

Self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together.

Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys; it's more sanitary.

Sex without love is merely healthy exercise.

Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other sins are invented nonsense.

Specialization is for insects.

Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation.

Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong- but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.

Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.

Television leaves no external scars.

The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.

The death rate is the same for us as for anybody... one person, one death, sooner or later.

The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning, while those other subjects merely require scholarship.

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.

The less respect an older person deserves the more certain he is to demand it from anyone younger.

The nice thing about citing god as an authority is that you can prove anything you set out to prove.

The three-legged stool of understanding is held up by history, languages, and mathematics. Equipped with these three you can learn anything you want to learn. But if you lack any one of them you are just another ignorant peasant with dung on your boots.

The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.

The United States has become a place where entertainers and professional athletes are mistaken for people of importance.

The whole principle is wrong (censorship); it's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't eat steak.

Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.

There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it?

There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe.

There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.

There is nothing wrong with writing, so long as you do it in private and wash your hands afterward.

Was there ever a time when the majority was right?

We lived like that 'Happy Family' you sometimes see in traveling zoos: a lion caged with a lamb. It is a startling exhibit but the lamb has to be replaced frequently.

What are the marks of a sick culture? It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn't the whole population.

Widows are far better than brides. They don't tell, they won't yell, they don't swell, they rarely smell, and they're grateful as hell.

Women and cats will do as they please. Men and dogs had better get used to it.

Yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again.

You don't pay back, you pay forward.

You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.

You're in bad shape when your emotions force you into acts which you know are foolish.


Categories: Quotes of the day, Robert A. Heinlein


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October 21, 1977
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Published Sunday, October 21, 2012 @ 1:04 PM EDT
Oct 21 2012

Thirty-five years ago today my daughter was born, and I was offered a job that profoundly changed my destiny. It started my career in typesetting, consulting, technical writing, and computer software.

I was hired as a typesetter at a legal/financial printing company because of my future boss' somewhat unconventional interviewing technique. He recited from memory a random lyric from the libretto of Jesus Christ Superstar; I was to respond with the next line. We did this for about ten minutes.

I nailed it.

I don't recall there actually being any typesetting-related questions during the interview. I don't think he even asked if I could type.

The point of all this is to remember Heinlein's admonition: specialization is for insects. While you should be an expert in at least one field, you should learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. Arcane knowledge can be useful, even though its acquisition can seem pointless. That funny-looking key you picked up a few years ago might eventually unlock a door leading to a totally unexpected opportunity.

PS: If I hadn't been familiar with Superstar, the next category would have been Star Trek.

Even a pragmatic humanist cannot deny destiny.

PPS: I really owe Tim Rice a nice thank you card.


Categories: Jesus Christ Superstar, KGB, KGB Family, Robert A. Heinlein, Star Trek, Tim Rice


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Quote of the day
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Published Saturday, July 07, 2012 @ 5:34 AM EDT
Jul 07 2012

Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.
-Robert A. Heinlein


Categories: Quotes of the day, Robert A. Heinlein


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