“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

— George Bernard Shaw

“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

“There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.”

— Bertand Russell


“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist”

— Kenneth Boulding

“You don’t know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.”

— Warren Buffet

Computer Science

“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

“Greenspun’s Tenth Rule of Programming: any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp.”

Phillip Greenspun

“…Including Common Lisp.”

— Robert Morris as an addendum to the above

“When I was thinking about Object-Oriented Programming, I wasn’t thinking about C++.”

— Alan Kay

“The x86 isn’t all that complex—it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

— Mike Johnson, Leader of 80×86 Design at AMD, Microprocessor Report (1994)

“The complexity of the x86 is not an impassable barrier….The biggest weakness in the x86 instruction set is the lack of registers coupled with an extremely painful addressing scheme.”

— Mike Johnson, Leader of 80×86 Design at AMD, Microprocessor Report (1994)

“I program my home computer, beam myself into the future.”

— Kraftwerk

As Brian W. Kernighan and Rob Pike put it in their truly excellent book “The Practice of Programming”, the chapter on debugging…

As personal choice, we tend not to use debuggers beyond getting a stack trace or the value of a variable or two. One reason is that it is easy to get lost in details of complicated data structures and control flow; we find stepping through a program less productive than thinking harder and adding output statements and self-checking code at critical places. Clicking over statements takes longer than scanning the output of judiciously-placed displays. It takes less time to decide where to put print statements than to single-step to the critical section of code, even assuming we know where that is. More important, debugging statements stay with the program; debugging sessions are transient.

“I think Java is a great step forward … for the C community” Dan Ingalls

This best described me for a few years in the late 90s: KNOW YOUR UNIX SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR– A FIELD GUIDE The Technical Thug: Usually a systems programmer who has been forced into system administration; writes scripts in a polyglot of the Bourne shell, sed, C, awk, Perl, and APL.

“Systems programmers are the high priests of a low cult.” (1967)

— Robert “Bob” Barton, 1967

“HTML sucks.”

— Steve Dekorte, October 6, 1998, San Francisco

“Most things *ML, (ML, UML,XML), Suck. HTML sucks the least.”

— Steve Dekorte, October 6, 1998, San Francisco

“Actually, ML is not so bad :-)”

— Dru Nelson, 2012

“Never underestimate the crappiness of a free C compiler.”

— Dru Nelson, July 24, 2001, San Mateo – after watching programs that worked, not work with -O2 turned on

“OS’s should do lots of things…”

— Dru Nelson, November 11, 2001, Palo Alto (as a request by Steve to put this up)


“When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple, you don’t really understand the complexity of the problem. Then you get into the problem, and you see that it’s really complicated, and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That’s sort of the middle, and that’s where most people stop… But the really great person will keep on going and find the key, the underlying principle of the problem — and come up with an elegant, really beautiful solution that works.”

— Steve Jobs


“The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance” — Thomas Jefferson


“no job is as good as… no job.”

–Blake Commagere – in jest (natural state)

“Prediction is difficult, especially of the future.”

— Niels Bohr or Yogi Berra

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”

— Steven Wright

Wisdom of Crowds

“All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self evident.”

“It is with trifles and when he is off guard that a man best reveals his character.”

“People of Wealth and the so called upper class suffer the most from boredom.”

“The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively not by the false appearance of things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer – (1788-1860) German philosopher

“It is the nature of the human species to reject what is true but unpleasant, and to embrace what is obviously false but comforting. “

— H.L. Mencken

“We are taught math as a bag of tricks to be performed without understanding so we end (up) as magicians who are just as amazed as the audience that our tricks actually work!”

— Steve Dekorte, Shotwell bar in the mission, in 2013

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

–Theodore Roosevelt