Content tagged Quotes

For Posterity

posted on 2011-07-11 01:15:06

"Where does humility come from? From sitting down and putting little signs on paper with the hope of expressing something. I am able to spend whole days on the occupation, but as soon as I finish I see that I did not express anything. I would like to consider myself a genius; I do not manage it. To tell the truth, I don't know where the geniuses of literature are whom I should envy. Those of the past are caught in the manners and style of their period; those of today move with difficulty in a transparent jam that is slowly coagulating. And I, always insatiable, just as in this moment when I come to the window, see a tower with a clock, snow underneath it on the lawns of the Ann Arbor campus, a girl walking on a pathway, and the very act of being here, by the window, in this moment similar to any other, i.e., unrepeatable, with the whiteness of the snow and the movement of legs observed from above, is sufficient to initiate my lament on the insufficiency of language." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, Pg. 40

Why Computer Science?

posted on 2010-07-18 01:56:03

It's bedtime here but I couldn't help but post this quote by kragensitaker from reddit. I've always meant to get around to writing an explanation of why I think Computer Science is a lovely discipline. This addresses it in a very different way than I was hoping to but absolutely merits posting here.
Well, a thousand years ago, geometry was the field holding those special secrets. Computers are just the automation and generalization of geometry. Everything except that generalization of geometry (now known as "mathematics") is contingent on the physical universe we happen to inhabit.

The most remarkable thing about all of this is that apparently that physical universe can be simulated, analyzed, and even predicted with mathematics. So, too, with all the universes we can imagine. And of course this is much easier to do with automated mathematics.

So a computer is not just a machine; it's not just a machine that imitates other machines; it's not just a machine with a universe in it; it's a machine with all possible universes in it.

Of course, this is not somehow discontinuous with the multi-millennium discipline of geometry, or for that matter writing and arithmetic. It's merely the current step.
That's part of what makes it such an extraordinary field, to me, and makes the bullshit worthwhile.

There's also, though, the human side. Computers are not merely simulators; they are also communicators, through which we can diffuse universal access to human knowledge. This is an educational and liberal achievement unparalleled in human history. The dream of Diderot is less and less a dream and more and more a reality. And thus even PHP is forgiven.

Two Good Quotes

posted on 2009-09-08 14:26:38

I stumbled onto these over the last few days and am pretty taken with both of them. The first comes from the first Paul Graham essay I've enjoyed in a while. The second comes from a discussion on Lambda the Ultimate, admittedly about Lisp. Still, I think whether you're a fan of Lisp or not the second quote is incredibly relevant and true. Especially if you're a CS student just learning whatever the hell they teach you.

Being strong-willed is not enough, however. You also have to be hard on yourself. Someone who was strong-willed but self-indulgent would not be called determined. Determination implies your willfulness is balanced by discipline. - Paul Graham, The Anatomy of Determination

I was raised with a view of CS as having a kind of natural progress that inevitably culminated in the current popular technology. In fact, to a large degree, many of the existing technologies are more a product of fashion and historical accident than technical superiority. Keep an open mind, don't believe everything you've been taught, and to quote my research group's motto, always question your assumptions. - Dave Herman on LtU

The Week After

posted on 2009-05-26 14:18:37

I want to thank everyone who commented or sent messages for their love and support over the past week. It's been most appreciated. Things are slowly returning to normal. I wrote something substantial about Dad last night but I'm going to hold off on posting it for a bit. I want to make sure it's of the right quality. There was a write-up in the AJC, in print and online, which is alright but the obituary by Dad's college roommate (which is unfortunately not online) hits the mark much better I think. That or Mom's tributes to him on Caringbridge.

Quick (but serious) pop quiz, Compare and contrast these two quotes. They may be my two favorites. Tell me what they make you think in terms of their different approach to the benefits and drawbacks of the advance of human knowledge. I think the dichotomy between them pretty neatly encapsulates my scattered thoughts and feelings about human progress.

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. - Alfred North Whitehead

We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early successes of science, but in a rather grisly morning-after, when it has become apparent that what triumphant science has done hitherto is to improve the means for achieving unimproved or actually deteriorated ends. - Aldous Huxley

I'm mostly enjoying my summer courses, particularly Data Structures. It's given me an excuse to relearn pointers and learn how to actually use gcc/g++ and makefiles. I'm still a long way from being any good or knowing what the hell I'm doing though. C'est la vie. The Sixteenth Edition of the Haskell Communities and Activities report is out, in PDF and HTML. I was mostly excited to see a progress report on the Glasgow Haskell Compiler which is some top notch technology if ever there was any. Just look at the stuff they're working on! I've been poking around the Computer Language Benchmarks game recently, too. Gotta love SBCL and GHC.

There are a few pieces of software I'm anticipating a release of. Here they are with links to the blockers for each: Firefox 3.5 because I live in it, Chromium's (Google Chrome) Linux Beta and Songbird which I don't really use but track with some interest. I'm also looking forward to a new Pitivi release (which should happen today, actually) and GHC 6.12 but that's months out still. Emacs 23 should also be fun because emacs releases are so punctuated but it's a pain to find a release schedule anywhere or even a list of blockers! GEEZ! Outside of software, I'm really looking forward to Peter Seibel's book Coders at Work which appears to be reaching it's endgame.

Speaking of Emacs I've been spending a bit more time in that incredible editor trying to become more proficient and found the Emacs-Fu blog to help immensely. There was also a guide to using the extension that ships with Mercurial that I found pretty helpful in getting off the ground quickly. I'll wrap this up by posting three songs I enjoyed listening to this morning.

Max Richter - Horizon Variations
Found at

Andrew Bird - Anonanimal
Found at

School Of Seven Bells - Iamundernodisguise
Found at

On Precarity

posted on 2008-09-23 00:36:54

A number of my friends have started blogs recently and I'm pretty happy about it. Now I just need to talk Burke and Will into starting them. Anyway, I'll link to those guys later. This isn't about that. This is about being broke.

In addition to being jobless, I'm now carless. That car was a piece though, if sold will probably be sold at a loss and over 4 thousand dollars have been spent on it's maintenance as of tomorrow...since January. I'm normally pretty polite on here but FUCK THAT CAR.

That said, I think being broke has many lessons and interesting prospects and, to be honest, I can't say I'm sad about losing the car or my former job. Both are things I've been meaning to do for a while. I've figured out that I can now live (sans car+job) on $800 a month. I just need a source of income. Ha. Anyway, I have some interesting opportunities to explore in front of me and a short period of time to seize them. All the same, if you know of anyone needing I.T. help for around $20/hr or if there's a good way to work from home let me know. With all that in mind, I give you Sterling Hayden:
"What does a man need—really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in—and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all—in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”

Damn right. Oh, one more relevant, and lovely, quote but this time from the ever quotable Ben Grad:
"I spent the summer looking for a job, and now that I have one I am mainly angry all the time. Or at least all the time I'm in the office."

Think like Sterling Hayden, treat your lives like a challenging voyage (otherwise they won't be very interesting) and build them on a firm foundation of financial unrest.

I knew they were cool…

posted on 2008-07-16 11:48:59

Two random quotes this morning from two random sources, Andy Wingo (programmer living in spain and working three days a week. Oh, the jealousy!!!) and Paul Kedrosky (VC\Finance Guy).
"Perhaps I am more than usually jealous of my freedom. I feel that my connections with and obligations to society are at present very slight and transient. Those slight labors which afford me a livelihood, and by which I am serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity. So far I am successful, and only he is successful in his business who makes that pursuit which affords him the highest pleasure sustain him. But I foresee that if my wants should be much increased the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, neglecting my peculiar calling, there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage.

H. Thoreau
10 January, 1851"

Sourced from Andy Wingo

Quote deux...
"To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea--"cruising", it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

Little has been said or written about the ways a man may blast himself free. Why? I don't know, unless the answer lies in our diseased values. A man seldom hesitates to describe his work; he gladly divulges the privacies of alleged sexual conquests. But ask him how much he has in the bank and he recoils into a shocked and stubborn silence.

"I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security". And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine---and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need---really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in---and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all---in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"

From Sterling Hayden's Wanderer via Paul Kedrosky

Quote Post

posted on 2008-02-28 18:08:57

This is probably the most succinct way to put what I'm, in part, getting at. Make no mistake, I will flesh out that just might take a while. For now, I'm back to programming. More soon though guys.

"Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we
can perform without thinking about them."
–Alfred North Whitehead

This quote sourced from one of Richard Gabriel's essays, Objects Have Failed. It also appears in The Road Less Taken.

Form, Order, Rhythm: A Theme

posted on 2007-12-31 04:30:36

"To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in posterity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, Pg. 141 (the last page)

"Since my youth I have tried to capture in words a reality such as I contemplated walking the streets of a human city and I have never succeeded; that is why each of my poems seems to me the token of an unaccomplished oeuvre. I learned early that language does not adhere to what we really are, that we move in a big make-believe which is maintained by books and pages of newsprint. And every one of my efforts to say something real ended the same way, by my being driven back to the enclosure of from, as if I were a sheep straying from the flock." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, Pg. 32

"I have always aspired to a more spacious form
that would be free form the claims of poetry or prose
and would let us understand each other without exposing
the author or reader to sublime agonies.

In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:
a thing is brought forth which we didn't know we had in us,
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.

That's why poetry is rightly said to be dictated by a daimonion,
though it's an exaggeration to maintain that he must be an angel.
It's hard to guess where that pride of poets comes from,
when so often they're put to shame by the disclosure of their frailty.

What reasonable man would like to be a city of demons,
who behave as if they were at home, speak in many tongues,
and who, not satisfied with stealing his lips or hand,
work at changing his destiny for their convenience?

It's true that what is morbid is highly valued today,
and so you may think I am only joking
or that I've devised just one more means
of praising Art with the help of irony.

There was a time when only wise books were read,
helping us to bear our pain and misery.
This, after all, is not quite the same
as leafing through a thousand works fresh from psychiatric clinics.

And yet the world is different from what it seems to be
and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings
People therefore preserve silent integrity,
thus earning the respect of their relatives and neighbors.

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficulty it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

What I'm saying here is no, I agree, poetry,
as poems should be written rarely and reluctantly,
under unbearable duress and only with the hope
that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument." - Czeslaw Milosz, Ars Poetica, New and Collected Poems Pg. 240

Random Quote Post

posted on 2007-11-24 19:07:55

I've been stumbling across these this morning and find them all quite provocative. What do you think?

"As Navrozov explains, the word "power" in Russian means "possession" and is a cognate to the English word "wield." Since in a democracy public opinion is power and universities are the source of all legitimate opinion, they can be said in a sense to possess and wield our minds. So no one at a university should be surprised to smell the marmoset, not even in an innocent little department called "computer science," but I knew the stench from childhood and to say I was shocked would be an understatement." - Unqualified Reservations

"Of course, in a sense, anything you do with in a computer can be described as "mathematics." The point is not whether or not programming is math. The point is what notation is most effective for expressing programs. Choosing the best notation is the entire problem of programming language design, and this problem is neither mathematical nor scientific. A programming language is a user interface for programmers, and if you can reduce UI design to math, science, or any formal process, call Apple, not me." - Unqualified Reservations

Stuff! Stuff everywhere!

posted on 2007-10-25 02:47:52

So, I'm going to pretend this post is less disjointed than it actually is.

I got a PS3 last week. Surprisingly some of the most fun I'm having is with a game called Everyday Shooter, which is sort of like galaga and pacman mixed together on acid. Or maybe as depicted by Hunter S. Thompson.

Anyway, I've been reading some interviews with the developer behind the game Jonathan Mak. (Yes, it's one guy. That takes you back to the early 90s doesn't it? When games could still be developed by one guy and all.) He's really cool and wrote something really cool about why games don't work as open source. It's one of the best arguments I've ever heard.

Also, I had this thought today which is possibly trite and stupid but intrigued me enough to jot down:
"There are two kinds of advances in computing. Advances in what is computable and advances in what is worth computing. P=NP is an example of the former, Moore's Law is an example of the latter."

I've also been thinking about trying to get some of my writing published (my poetry) and reading awesome stuff about Linux, the PS3, Programming, etc and I'll try to write some more about all that soon.

/*Right now, I need to stop avoiding/not writing this C Program due tomorrow. I got sort of wrapped up talking to my folks about whether or not I could transer/get into GA Tech and whether that would be a better path than being self-taught or taking time off. Your thoughts?*/

After an Absence

posted on 2007-10-17 03:19:59

Oh, hello. You're the only one reading today aren't you? You are. Welcome.

10 days? 10 DAYS? Where have I been? Busy I suppose. And in case you noticed the server being down, it turns out the router it sits behind decided to go crazy...which is almost comforting. /*This entry dedicated to Raganwald, XKCD, Radiohead, and for keeping me occupied and away from you guys for so long.*/ So, what's been going on?

First, I actually wrote something today. It's been a while since that happened and it felt good. It's not fantastic but it's a start and maybe I'll be able to polish it up some in the future. I don't know that it was inspired by the following Milosz quote, but the quote resounds particularly with me today so I'm shoving it in your face anyway.
"There must be a middle place between abstraction and childishness where one can speak seriously about serious things." - Czeslaw Milosz, Second Space, 4. I Apologize (pg. 49)

And here's the as yet untitled poem, please file naming suggestions below:
How surprised was I to learn that the dichotomy was not that of good and evil, as expected.
Rather, torn between shame and the frivolity of a bottomless awe.
Bound mesmerized to the spectacle of the world and all the marvelous constructions within it.
I found myself vertiginous, perhaps self-aware, but certainly unsure how to contribute to so great a vista.
As though asked to add new colors to the horizon, or change the sound of the ocean on a starry night.
That task is too monumental for me, I said. But awe is not enough, my immense wonder is insufficient.
Still, it is better to make public a frivolous and joyous etonnement than to admit
to the truth: That every man is a thunderclap receding into the distance, and silence.

Second, on Friday we had the best video game tournament in probably 10 months or so, IMHO. I actually did well in Melee with Zelda/Sheik. Semifinals well. The small atmosphere and various special appearances made the evening though. Derin and Pete were both able to come and I had lost touch with Derin so that was particularly awesome.

Third, the new Radiohead album is out and it's outstanding. What's more outstanding is that Radiohead are releasing and self-distributing the album as a download via their website and you decide what to pay them for it. That actually might not be more outstanding than the album itself which could be the best thing since OK Computer. More to come but I really like it and the early favorites are Reckoner and Jigsaw Falling Into Place followed by Nude and All I Need. I'm still pretty skeptical about the last track, Videotape. There's a live acoustic version on Youtube that just sounds better to my ears.

Fourth, I figured if I'm really going to take a year off to self-study and see if learn more/better/faster/stronger/etc that I'd better come up with a sort of reading list. Thank goodness for wishlists. I figured I might as well include a bunch of the stuff from my earlier book lists as well. The Computer Science stuff is thither.

That's all for now. More later.

Quick Quote

posted on 2007-10-04 03:05:03

This is a really good essay on complexity in software appropriately entitled Why Software Is Hard.

(The difference is that the overruns on a physical construction project are bounded. You never get to the point where you have to hammer in a nail and discover that the nail will take an estimated six months of research and development, with a high level of uncertainty. But software is fractal in complexity. If you're doing top-down design, you produce a specification that stops at some level of granularity. And you always risk discovering, come implementation time, that the module or class that was the lowest level of your specification hides untold worlds of complexity that will take as much development effort as you'd budgeted for the rest of the project combined. The only way to avoid that is to have your design go all the way down to specifying individual lines of code, in which case you aren't designing at all, you're just programming.

Fred Brooks said it twenty years ago in "No Silver Bullet" better than I can today: "The complexity of software is an essential property, not an accidental one. Hence, descriptions of a software entity that abstract away its complexity often abstract away its essence.")

I also found an interesting opinion piece/writeup on Inheritance.

More later. It's sleepy time.

Quotes on Programmers

posted on 2007-09-14 14:40:13

"15 years of experience interviewing programmers has convinced me that the best programmers all have an easy aptitude for dealing with multiple levels of abstraction simultaneously." - Joel Spolsky, The Guerilla Guide to Interviewing v3.0

"As Lyle Ramshaw, a former graduate student of Knuth's, points out, "Don claims that one of the skills that you need to be a computer scientist is the ability to work with multiple levels of abstraction simultaneously. When you're working at one level, you try and ignore the details of what's happening at the lower levels. But when you're debugging a computer program and you get some mysterious error message, it could be a failure in any of the levels below you, so you can't afford to be too compartmentalized." - Article on The Art of Programming

"The key to being a good hacker may be to work on what you like. When I think about the great hackers I know, one thing they have in common is the extreme difficulty of making them work on anything they don't want to. I don't know if this is cause or effect; it may be both." - Paul Graham, Great Hackers

Fun stuff that maybe relates...or I've just been reading anyway:
Why You Need A Degree For Big Companies (parody)
News From The Front (Why the College you go to doesn't matter)
How To Do What You Love


posted on 2007-09-12 18:34:12

I was watching an interesting video this morning and had some thoughts I jotted down before class. I am reproducing them in their full, unsubstantiated, and provocative/controversial nature here. Later perhaps they will contribute to something a bit more formal. Note: The video features Simon Peyton-Jones talking about programming language evolution somewhat generally. I'd much rather him speak more about that stuff than the Haskell/STM talks he gave at OSCON. Hmm.

I promise I'll post something less disjointed and more intelligible/coherent/formal than this in the near future.

Referencing Upcoming Radical Visions Essay, Trend A: Moving Away From X86
Facet 1) Hardware.

I'm sick of people poo-pooing the "concurrency crisis". To be fair, concurrency is the straw breaking the camel's back. To maintain sustainable growth in the computer industry we're having to do, as always, radical things on the hardware side. Not as always, however, is the fact that they're forcing lots of change in software/CS at the same time.

Is Erlang brilliant? Maybe. Is Erlang fortuitous? Certainly. It is probably the best option for the concurrency problem at hand. I'm not convinced that Scala or F# compare. Or Haskell for that matter. Haskell is a different sort of win.

We need concurrency more than controlled effects through a type system at present. The need for Haskell is still further out. Still less urgent.

^That's it. We're having two different conversations trying to discuss what the more urgent issue is. It's not Erlang vs. Haskell. It's concurrency vs. limited effects.

But what of (insert professor/coder name here)? What of those that are uninformed? Hell, what about (insert coder name here). What will they do when their code is sitting around not scaling to available resources?

Tertiary snippets:
Syntax is not semantics. Can we mistake it for such? Of course, but what does that look like? What is it to mistake syntax for semantics?

"That boy, does he already suspect that beauty is always elsewhere and always delusive?" - Czeslaw Milosz, New and Collected Poems, p. 284

Sixteenth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-09-05 12:08:25

"There is not and there cannot be anything more precious for any thinking creature than life. Death is an oddity tearing the spectator away from a huge stage before the play, which infinitely interests him, is over." - Casanova, Memoirs

"The animal wrests the whip from its master and whips itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the master's whiplash." - Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks p. 24

"He is a free and secure citizen of this earth, for he is attached to a chain that is long enough to make all areas of the earth accessible to him, and yet only so long that nothing can pull him over the edges of the earth. At the same time, however, he is also a free and secure citizen of heaven, for he is also attached to a similarly calculated heavenly chain. Thus, if he wants to get down to earth, he is choked by the heavenly collar and chain; if he wants to get to heaven, he is choked by the earthly one. And in spite of this he has all the possibilities, and feels that it is so; indeed, he even refuses to attribute the whole thing to a mistake in the original chaining." - Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks p. 32

Yes, Kafka is crazy. But so awesome...

Fifteenth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-08-28 14:26:18

I feel compelled to post a translation of last week's quote from Simone Weil. It's a gorgeous quote:

"The case of true contradictions: God exists, God does not exist. I am absolutely sure that there is a God, in the sense that I am absolutely sure my love is not an illusion. I am absolutely sure that there is no God, in the sense that I am absolutely sure nothing real resembles what I can conceive when I pronounce that name. And yet something I cannot conceive is not an illusion." - Simone Weil, Unattainable Earth, p.117

"For me the principal proof of the existence of God is the joy I experience any time I think that God is." - Rene Le Senne, Unattainable Earth, p.82

I've been needing lots of Milosz lately. It's good stuff.

"How do we live on the surface pretending not to feel the terror? In this epoch which I have experienced and which has not been narrated? In this night and not any other destiny, my own, of which I think at night, unable to tell the verdict from chance. How can we be so restrained, conversing in cautious words?" - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, p.62

"Since my youth I have tried to capture in words a reality such as I contemplated walking the streets of a human city and I have never succeeded; that is why each of my poems seems to me the token of an unaccomplished oeuvre. I learned early that language does not adhere to what we really are, that we move in a big make-believe which is maintained by books and pages of newsprint. And every one of my efforts to say something real ended the same way, by my being driven back to the enclosure of form, as if I were a sheep straying from the flock." - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, p.32

"Who will assure me that I perceive the world the same way other people do? It is not improbable that I am a deviation from the norm, an oddity, a mutation, and that I have no access to what they experience. And if that is the case, what right do I have to pronounce general opinions on man, history, the difference between good and evil, society, systems; as if I did not guess that my difference, though hidden, influences my judgments, changes proportions?" - Czeslaw Milosz, Unattainable Earth, p.63

Fourteenth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-08-21 12:50:18

"Our life consists partly in folly, partly in good sense; whoever writes on it only in a staid fashion and with measure, leaves more than half of himself behind." - Montaigne, Essays

"Every strong and pure being feels he is something else than merely man and refuses, naively fearing it, to recognize himself one of an infinite number of copies of the species or of a type which repeats itself." - Paul Valery, Varietes

"Cas de contredictoires vrais: Dieu existe, Dieu n'existe pas. Je suis tout a fait sure qu' il y un Dieu, en ce sens que je suis tout a fait sure que mon amour n'est pas illusion. Je suis tout a fait sure qu'il n'y a pas de Dieu, en ce sens que je suis tout a fait sure que rien de reel ne ressemble a ce que je peux concevoir quand je prononce ce nom. Mais cela que je ne peux concevoir n'est pas une illusion." - Simone Weil, Unattainable Earth p. 117

"Denying, believing, and doubting completely are to man what running is to a horse." - Pascal, Pensees

Thirteenth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-08-16 13:59:39

Two day late. I know. I'm a terrible slacker. I actually had some stuff pegged Monday but I just didn't manage to post it until now. These are pulled from some recent reading, Open Sources 2.0.

"In a commodity world, technologists need to think about innovating in their business models as much as (if not more than) innovating in their technology." - Ian Murdock, Open Source and the Commoditization of Software

"Open Source propels software toward Commodity Land, a happy place where customers pay for real value and vendors compete on that value, not intellectual property lock-in." - Matt Asay, Open Source and the Commodity Urge: Disruptive Models for a Disruptive Development Process

Hmm...kind of sounds like something I remember Spolsky writing a while back. "Strategy Letter V" was it? Google that.
Eh...on second thought I'm going to dig around for more insightful quotes for next week. These aren't blowing my hair back.

Twelfth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-08-07 14:42:02

“Fail hard. Fail with motherfucking gusto. Succeeding, like flying, is throwing yourself to the ground and missing.” — Jeff Hodges, stolen from Jeff Waugh's Blog

"Computers can compute, but that's not what people use them for, mostly. Mostly, computers store and retrieve information." - Tim Bray

"Most programs are not write-once. They are reworked and rewritten again and again in their lives. Bugs must be debugged. Changing requirements and the need for increased functionality mean the program itself may be modified on an ongoing basis. During this process, human beings must be able to read and understand the original code; it is therefore more important by far for humans to be able to understand the program than it is for the computer." - Yukihiro Matsumoto

Tenth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-07-24 11:20:34

"I had always assumed that any attempt at my contact with God would be not only presumptuous, but actually contradictory: since, obviously, if I am his creation, then I experience God through the gift of life, and my obligation is to take care of the gift.The giver, presumably, delivered the gift, or sent the gift, or I inherited the gift from him. Present in the gift, the giver remains nevertheless outside of it, beyond my comprehension. To separate the giver from the gift is, perhaps, to diminish the gift. It is this miracle of life and the supreme mystery of being that unites me with my fellow beings; any speculation about the miracle and mystery of the Supreme Being tends to separate me from them. That is how I have looked at it as a boy, and, frankly, I still look at it that way." - Jerzy Kosinski

"My prayer is my exaltation in life's moment; it comes to me moment by moment, always concurrent with the act of life, and it's the sole way in which I acknowledge what's spiritual in my existence. I consciously narrow my life to the acts of my faith in it-acts which are spiritually significant-and I keep setting aside anything which is insignificant, which obstructs my awe of creation. This is my prayer; other prayers are creations of others and I look at them the way I look at religions, books, poems, works of art-they are all manifestations of spiritual life. In my life and for my life, I have chosen one particular form of spiritual worship, and I manifest it as I go along." - Jerzy Kosinski

"I am convinced, and I see it manifested in almost every phase of modern living, from the corporate to the Woodstock ends of the spectrum, from the hard-hat executive to the professional revolutionary, that we are a culture of the denial of the self." - Jerzy Kosinski

"The entrapments of collectivism are overwhelming: TV and radio, which permeate our privacy and destroy the aloneness out of which it becomes possible to learn to build a self; drugs, which smash the mirror of personal identity; the virtual disappearance of creative self-employment, and of professions and opportunities which ask for the use of the self; the terrifying featurelessness of the modern physical environment; the debilitation of the arts; the great gray educational machine; the devaluing and disparaging of the imagination: the "own" things of the eroded self." - Jerzy Kosinski

"He was one of those in our society I call 'Dead Souls'. At best, I find they share situations: they sit and watch films or television or listen to music in a group, thus isolated by a collective medium which permits each of them to escape direct contact with the others." - Jerzy Kosinski

"I think of such fears and wants as obstructions of life-of deprecating the worth of me as a man. To counteract them, I remain grateful for what I have-my life and my awareness of its spectacle-rather than fearful of what might happen, regretful of what I don't have or what pains me. Perception of pain has always contributed to my awareness of myself. Sin is allowing pain-any pain- to damage the sanctity of life, to regress the drama of my spiritual redemption." - Jerzy Kosinski

Ninth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-07-11 07:25:00

Today's Quotes are on the birth of the internet:

"Most of the great leaps of the computer age have happened despite, rather than because of, intellectual property rights. Before the Internet the proprietary network protocols divided customers, locked them into providers and forced them to exchange much of their data by tape. The power of the network was not unlocked by IPR. It was unlocked by free and open innovation shared amongst all." - Alan Cox

"AT&T's views were once memorably summarized in an exasperated outburst from AT&T's Jack Osterman after a long discussion with Baran. 'First', he said, 'it can't possibly work, and if it did, damned if we are going to allow the creation of a competitor to ourselves." - Lawrence Lessig

Eighth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-07-04 03:44:00

"Meaning and value depend on human mind space and the commitment of time and energy by very smart people to a creative enterprise. And the time, energy, and brain power of smart, creative people are not abundant. These are the things that are scare, and in some sense they become scarcer as the demand for these talents increases in proportion to the amount of abundant computing power available." - Steven Weber

"Let me go out on a limb and suggest that those who see hints of a new class ideology developing around information technology are not necessarily wild-eyed. "Bit-twiddlers" are neither exactly proletariat nor bourgeoisie. They may not own the means of production in the sense that Marx argued, but they certainly do have significantly control over those means, in a more profound way than the term "symbols analysts" or "knowledge workers" captures. As a rough generalization, they value science and technological problem-solving elegance equally at least with profit." - Steven Weber

"Each member of society can have only a small fraction of the knowledge possessed by all, and...each is therefore ignorant of most of the facts on which the working of society rests...civilization rests on the fact that we all benefit from knowledge which we do not possess. And one of the ways in which civilization helps us to overcome that limitation on the extent of individual knowledge is by conquering intelligence, not by the acquisition of more knowledge, but by the utilization of knowledge which is and which remains widely dispersed among individuals." - Friedrich Hayek

Seventh Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-06-26 15:31:00

"Alas, we are mired in the modern and mystified by the moth-eaten. The earth is a muddy, muddy place." - Jim

"Even by the most *stringent* reasonable rules, we add a new bug every four days. That's just something that people need to accept. The people who say 'we must never introduce a regression' aren't living on planet earth, they are living in some wonderful world of Blarney, where mistakes don't happen, developers are perfect, hardware is perfect, and maintainers always catch things." - Linus Torvalds (more on that here:

Sixth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-06-19 14:18:00

"A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense. Power runs with ideas that only the crazy would draw into doubt. The "taken for granted" is the test of sanity; "what everyone knows" is the line between us and them. This means that sometimes a society gets stuck. Sometimes these unquestioned ideas interfere, as the cost of questioning becomes too great. In these times, the hardest task for social or political activists is to find a way to get people to wonder again about what we all believe is true. The challenge is to sow doubt." - Lawrence Lessig

"The argument [of this book] is that always and everywhere, free resources have been crucial to innovation and creativity; that without them, creativity is crippled. Thus, and especially in the digital age, the central question becomes not whether the government or the market should control a resource, but whether a resource should be controlled at all. Just because control is possible, it doesn't follow that it is justified. Instead, in a free society, the burden of justification should fall on him who would defend systems of control." - Lawrence Lessig

Fifth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-06-13 05:40:00

Dear Friends:
Sorry if I've been bad about responding to comments or e-mails for the past 24 hours or so. Today's been very busy. In fact, after this quick break to keep up my summer blog series I'm going to get back to working on something so that our servers at work will finally go up tomorrow. I'd also like to thank everyone for the tremendous response and support I got on my "Real World" post. It really did mean a lot.

"As a thirteen-year-old kid, I didn't have much more experience of the world than what I saw immediately around me. The warped little world we lived in was, I thought, the world. The world seemed cruel and boring, and I'm not sure which was worse." - Paul Graham

"As far as I can tell, the concept of the hormone-crazed teenager is coeval with suburbia. I don't think this is a coincidence. I think teenagers are driven crazy by the life they're made to lead. Teenage apprentices in the Renaissance were working dogs. Teenagers now are neurotic lapdogs. Their craziness is the craziness of the idle everywhere." - Paul Graham

"To the popular press, "hacker" means someone who breaks into computers. Among programmers it means a good programmer. But the two meanings are connected. To programmers, "hacker" connotes mastery in the most literal sense: someone who can make a computer do what he wants—whether the computer wants to or not. To add to the confusion, the noun "hack" also has two senses. It can be either a compliment or an insult. It's called a hack when you do something in an ugly way. But when you do something so clever that you somehow beat the system, that's also called a hack. The word is used more often in the former than the latter sense, probably because ugly solutions are more common than brilliant ones. Believe it or not, the two senses of "hack" are also connected. Ugly and imaginative solutions have something in common: they both break the rules. And there is a gradual continuum between rule breaking that's merely ugly (using duct tape to attach something to your bike) and rule breaking that is brilliantly imaginative (discarding Euclidean space)." - Paul Graham

"It says a great deal about our work that we use the same word for a brilliant or a horribly cheesy solution. When we cook one up we're not always 100% sure which kind it is. But as long as it has the right sort of wrongness, that's a promising sign. It's odd that people think of programming as precise and methodical. Computers are precise and methodical. Hacking is something you do with a gleeful laugh." - Paul Graham

Fourth Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-06-05 19:18:00

"But ultimately a regulation is a signal of design failure. - William McDonough

"The stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones." - William McDonough

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

Third Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-05-30 07:38:00

"He didn't use very many arguments. He just basically took it for granted that I would be interested. He was clueless, unable to imagine that there could be entire segments of the human race who weren't the least bit concerned about increasing the Mac's market share. I think he was truly surprised at how little I cared about how big a market the Mac had - or how big a market Microsoft has. And I can't blame him for not knowing in advance how much I dislike Mach (the microkernel on which Mac OS X's XNU kernel is based)." - Linus Torvalds

"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." - Linus Torvalds launching Linux on a small mailing list in 1991

"There are literally several levels of SCO being wrong. And even if we were to live in that alternate universe where SCO would be right, they'd still be wrong." - Linus Torvalds on SCO

"Personally, I'm _not_ interested in making device drivers look like user-level. They aren't, they shouldn't be, and microkernels are just stupid." - Linus Torvalds again

"2.6.x: still a stable kernel, but accept bigger changes leading up to it (timeframe: a month or two).
2.x.x: aim for big changes that may destabilize the kernel for several releases (timeframe: a year or two)
x.x.x: Linus went crazy, broke absolutely _everything_, and rewrote the kernel to be a microkernel using a special message-passing version of Visual Basic. (timeframe: "we expect that he will be released from the mental institution in a decade or two")." - Linus Torvalds making a joke about kernel release numbering schemes

"Modern PCs are horrible. ACPI is a complete design disaster in every way. But we're kind of stuck with it. If any Intel people are listening to this and you had anything to do with ACPI, shoot yourself now, before you reproduce." - Linus Torvalds

Okay, okay. I won't do that again. I'm done with Linus. I swear.

Second Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-05-22 20:33:00

Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is a bit like giving the Han Solo Award to the Rebel Alliance. - Richard M Stallman

Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. - Brian Kernighan

One thing about school - I always had this attitude that I was in school to learn, and attempted to do whatever was involved in that process, while school had this attitude that I was there to earn grades, which I couldn't care less about. Unsurprisingly, my grades weren't very good. - Bram Cohen

Where there is love, distance doesn't matter. - Mata Amritanandamayi

Love demands all, and has a right to all. - Ludwig van Beethoven

And think not you can direct the course of love; for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. - Khalil Gibran

First Thursday Literary Lines

posted on 2007-05-18 04:40:00

Starting it off with one of my favorites:

Annalenna by Czeslaw Milosz

"It happened that sometimes I kissed in mirrors the reflection of my face; since the hands, face and tears of Annalena had caressed it, my face seemed suffused to me divinely beautiful and as if suffused with heavenly sweetness." - Oscar Milosz, L'Amoreuse Initiation

I liked your velvet yoni, Annalena, long voyages in the delta of your legs.
A striving upstream toward your beating heart through more and more savage currents saturated with the light of hops and bindweed.
And our vehemence and triumphant laughter and our hasty dressing in the middle of the night to walk on the stone stairs of the upper city.
Our breath held by amazement and silence, porosity of worn-out stones and the great door of the cathedral.
Over the gate of the rectory fragments of brick among weeds, in darkness the touch of a rough buttressed wall.
And later our looking from the bridge down to the orchard, when under the moon every tree is separate on its kneeler, and from the secret interior of dimmed poplars the echo carries the sound of a water turbine.
To whom do we tell what happened on the earth, for whom do we place everywhere huge mirrors in the hope that they will be filled up and will stay so?
Always in doubt whether it was we who were there, you and I, Annalena, or just anonymous lovers on the enameled tables of a fairyland.

First Tuesday Quotables

posted on 2007-05-15 19:48:00

Imagine this design assignment: design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, accrues solar energy as fuel, makes complex sugars and food, creates micro-climates, changes colors with the seasons and self-replicates… Why don’t we knock that down and write on it. - William McDonough

You can't incent a dead person. No matter what we do, Hawthorne will not produce any more works, no matter how much we pay him. - Lawrence Lessig

Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Brit Butler