More Favourite Quotes

Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible.
Alan Kay, on software design.

There's a fine line between a groove and a rut
Christine Lavin

My great-great-grandparents living here, going about their daily affairs, producing their children, bringing them up as best they could - are responsible for me and the fact that we happen to be sat here this morning. In turn, my behaviour ... the pattern of behaviour that I try to pass on to my children, I hope will gradually be transmitted through their children into the future. In other words, one begins to realise oneself, not as an isolated speck in eternity, but as part of a continuing process which we call history, but which is people.
Wilfred Micah Spencer, historian, genealogist, and my father, in an interview with BBC Radio Blackburn in the early 1970s.

I wanted to come here again with someone I loved and say, "Look."
Paul Theroux, visiting the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. From A Kingdom by the Sea

Some things never change:

If ... I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).

The mind of God:

An inordinate fondness for beetles
J.B.S. Haldane, on being asked (so the story goes) what he had learned about the Creator from his studies of nature.

Who is this God person, anyway?

God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining.
Douglas Adams in an interview with American Atheists, from the book The Salmon of Doubt

I'm looking over rooftops, and I'm hoping it ain't true, that the same God looks out for them, looks out for me and you.
Josh Ritter, Folk Bloodbath.

... and who are those humans, anyway?

Their brains were quite large for their bodies
And it lulled them into thinking they weren't dumb
They did guns, extreme sports, special hobbies
And cool tricks with their fingers and thumbs...
Eliza Gilkyson, 2153

Words of caution:

Anything is possible when you don't know what you're talking about.

Don't believe everything you think.
T-shirt, Science Artworks, Boulder, Colorado.

I beseech you, by the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.
Oliver Cromwell.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Shakespeare, Hamlet.

Give yourself a break:

This day I completed my thirty-first year. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the happiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now sorely feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended.
Meriwether Lewis, August 1805, six days after becoming the first American to cross the Continental Divide.

More explorers:

No matter where you go, there you are
Buckaroo Banzai

But the most potent and incontestable motive, the one that Vesta showed to me a few weeks ago and is unique to space science, is that these missions are one of the few human endeavors where mankind can, still today, leverage and give an expression to the innate impulse of exploration and conquest. We have reached the top of the mountains, the depth of the seas, we have ventured into terrifying caves that pierce the crust of the Earth, we have charted continents and rivers, we regularly conduct experiments in the endless icy expanses of Antarctica, but none of this can transmit, as space exploration does, the amazement of the research, the bewilderment of the encounter, the thrill of spotting territories never before seen by the human eye. And all these sensations are more than a jolt of adrenaline, far more than a chemical cascade in the brain of a few mission team members, because they push forward the common conscience of mankind, nurture the feeling of belonging to one human race and inspire in the generations to come the spirit of adventure and the spark of discovery.
Pablo Gutierrez-Marques, Dawn Framing Camera Operations Manager, in a Planetary Society blog post. look out the window and you're looking back at the most beautiful star in the heavens- the most beautiful because it's the one we understand, and we know- it's our home, it's humanity, it's people, family, love, life- and besides that it is beautiful- you can see from pole to pole and across oceans, and you can watch it turn, and there's no strings holding it up, and it's moving in a blackness that is almost beyond conception.

...and not being a machine, but being a human being, you have to stop and say, "do you know where you are, and what you're looking at?", and try to take in in those few moments of privacy that you have, everything that there is to take in at that moment, and all of a sudden you've got to get back to work.

One of the things different about a lunar trip is that you don't pass any place on the way...

Apollo astronauts, quoted in the film For All Mankind

Great God! This is an awful place
Robert Falcon Scott, at the South Pole (or perhaps in Phoenix)

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries
A. A. Milne

Being English:

...And all the world over, each nation's the same
They've simply no notion of playing the game
They argue with umpires, they cheer when they've won
And they practice beforehand which ruins the fun!
From A Song of Patriotic Prejudice, by Flanders and Swann

I felt jolly near blubbing and could not speak for several minutes
Frank Wild, 2nd in command on the Shackleton Antarctic expedition, October 1915, on seeing that Ernest Shackleton had returned to Elephant Island to rescue his marooned crew. Shackleton had left five months earlier to get help, on an 800-mile voyage across the Antarctic Ocean to South Georgia by open boat.

English Channel Blocked by Fog: Europe Isolated
Alleged British newspaper headline, many years ago.

An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable
George Bernard Shaw

See also my Favourite Poetry page.

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