... [T]here is a better understanding today that the mere accumulation of
goods and services, even for the benefit of the majority, is not enough for
the realization of human happiness. Nor, in consequence, does the
availability of the many real benefits provided in recent times by science
and technology, including the computer sciences, bring freedom from every
form of slavery. On the contrary, the experience of recent years shows that
unless all the considerable body of resources and potential at man's
disposal is guided by a moral understanding and by an orientation towards
the true good of the human race, it easily turns against man to oppress him.
Pope John Paul II (1920 - 2005) from
"On Social Concerns (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis)" (December 30, 1988)
One of the extraordinary things about life is the sort of places it's
prepared to put up with living. Anywhere it can get some kind of a
grip, whether it's the intoxicating seas of Santraginus V, where the
fish never seem to care whatever the heck kind of direction they swim
in, the fire storms of Frastra, where, they say, life begins at 40,000
degrees, or just burrowing around in the lower intestine of a rat for
the sheer unadulterated hell of it, life will always find a way of
hanging on somewhere.
Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)
Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure -- the adventure into the unknown, an unknown that must be recognized as unknown in order to be explored, the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered, the attitude that all is uncertain. To summarize it: humility of the intellect.
The other great heritage is Christian ethics -- the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual, the humility of the spirit. These two heritages are logically, thoroughly consistent. But logic is not all. One needs one's heart to follow an idea. If people are going back to religion, what are they going back to? Is the modern church a place to give comfort to a man who doubts God? More, one who disbelieves in God? Is the modern church the place to give comfort and encouragement to the value of such doubts?
So far, haven't we drawn strength and comfort to maintain the one or
the other of these consistent heritages in a way which attacks the
values of the other? Is this unavoidable? How can we draw
inspiration to support these two pillars of Western civilization so
that they may stand together in full vigor, mutually unafraid? That,
I don't know.
Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988) from The Meaning Of It All
We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy
to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.'
Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people
Fred McFeely Rogers, (1928 - 2003)
While people are still fairly young and the musical composition of
their lives is still in its opening bars, they can go about writing it
together and exchange motifs ... but if they meet when they are older,
like Franz and Sabina, their musical compositions are more or less
complete, and every motif, every object, every word means something
different to each of them.
Milan Kundera (1929 - ) from The Unbearable Lightness of Being
I like mass entertainment. I've written mass entertainment. But it's
the opposite of art because the job of mass entertainment is to
cajole, seduce and flatter consumers--to let them know that what they
thought was right is right, and that their tastes and their
immediate gratification are of the utmost concern of the
purveyor. The job of the artist, on the other hand, is to say, wait
a second, to the contrary, everything that we have thought is
wrong. Let's re-examine it.
David Mamet (1947 - )
I would like to add something that's not essential to the science, but
something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the
layman when you're talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you
what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or
something like that, when you're not trying to be a scientist, but
just trying to be an ordinary human being. We'll leave those problems
up to you and your rabbi. I'm talking about a specific, extra type of
integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how
you're maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist.
And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other
scientists, and I think to laymen.
Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)
Reporters ask me what I feel China should do about Tibet. Who
cares what I think China should do? I'm a f---ing actor! They
hand me a script. I act. I'm here for entertainment, basically,
when you whittle everything away, I'm a grown man who puts on
Brad Pitt (1963 - ), star of "Seven Years In Tibet," as quoted in the
Oct. 13 Time magazine.
Frink:You've got to listen to me. Elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving.
Scientist: How much time do we have professor?
Frink: Well according to my calculations, the robots won't go berserk for at least 24 hours.
(The robots go berserk.)
Frink: Oh, I forgot to er, carry the one.
The Simpsons, Episode 2F01: Itchy and Scratchy Land
Understand these things, my son. All mortals have in common
That sometimes they aim wrong, and miss - but after an error
A man is no longer luckless or thoughtless
If he wills to cure the ill he has fallen into
By not remaining idle:
Obstinacy and awkwardness bring reproaches.
Sophocles, spoken by Teiresias in
The difficulty with humorists is that they will mix what they believe with
what they don't; whichever seems likelier to win an effect.
John Updike (1932 - ), from Rabbit, Run
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me;
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure: then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.
John Donne (1572-1631), Holy Sonnet X
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Macbeth (V, v, 19)
A nerd is not a nerd because he understands computers and wears a plastic pen protector in his shirt pocket. A nerd is a nerd because he brings a special lack of elegance to life. An absence of style. An inability to notice the feelings of other people. A nerd is a nerd from the inside out.
Roger Ebert (1942 - ), from his review of Revenge of the Nerds, Pt. 2
... [S]top thinking about yourself and your own ideas. They're just
your ideas. They don't matter that much to anyone else.
Try this: Integrate into your structure of axioms the assumption that
since your partner is your partner, everything she is doing is for the
good of the partnership, even if you don't understand it. Assume that
you do not know everything and that you do not make the rules. Assume
that making rules for your partner is the old patriarchal
paradigm. Assume that she has only the best of intentions. And if you
find you cannot assume that, because you believe she does not have the
best of intentions, then dissolve the partnership. It is in bad faith.
Carey Tennis, Salon Copy Chief and Advice Columnist
I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an
agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure
-- that is all that agnosticism means.
Clarence Darrow (1857 - 1938)
On Meaning and Purpose:
You have to face the fact that all you can do is contribute your
bit to a corner of a subfield, that your thesis is not going to solve
the big problems. That may require radical self-reevaluation; often
painful, and sometimes requiring a year or so to complete. Doing that
is very worthwhile, though; taking yourself less seriously allows you
to approach research in a spirit of play.
From How to Do Research at the MIT AI Lab: Emotional Factors
It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what
life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of
life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being
questioned by life - daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in
talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life
ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to
its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for
From Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
In its rudimentary form, meaning is nothing more than pattern; when
things are all lined up, for instance, when their behavior is
predictable, then one has the sense that they have meaning.
That is why marriage is such a satisfying cultural arrangement: It's a
built-in system of meaning, like a little significance
machine. Suddenly certain relatives are significant, certain dates are
significant, certain acts with other people are significant. That is
also why being determinedly single is so satisfying as well: It is a
country of possibility where every turn has meaning because of its
potential; every act is transformed into an adventure because at every
turn there could be the prize: marriage, a hot fling, a mysterious
encounter, whatever you happen to want at the moment.
Carey Tennis, Salon Copy Chief and Advice Columnist
NOW MY DREAM HAS SHOWN ME HOW I AM GOING TO DIE. I'M GOING TO BE A
HERO! I TRUST THAT GOD WILL HELP ME, BECAUSE WHAT I AM SUPPOSE TO DO
LOOKS VERY HARD.
From A Prayer for
Owen Meany by John Irving
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