24 November, 2003

Why I bow to Heinlein

For those of you who are not familiar with Heinlein, here are some quotes which should shed some light why Heinlein is one of the few minds I will bow to. Literature gives wings to the soul.
Lazarus Long is the closest thing to an idol that I could choose, in that I look to his character for insight and wisdom.
Selected Quotes from the character, Lazurus Long
  • A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
  • Always listen to the experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.
  • Always yield to temptation, It may never pass your way again.
  • Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet you can’t win.”
  • God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
  • Of all the strange “crimes” that human beings have legislated out of nothing, “blasphemy” is the most amazing—with “obscenity” and “indecent exposure” fighting it out for the second and third place.
  • The meek shall inherit the earth, a 6 foot plot above them.
  • The ways of God and government and girls are all mysterious, and it is not given to mortal man to understand them.”
  • What are the facts? Again and again and again–what are the _facts_? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history,” –what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your only clue. Get the facts!
Selected quotes from the book Stranger in a Strange Land
  • “I’ve found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much . . . because it’s the only thing that’ll make it stop hurting.
    … I had thought–I had been told–that a “funny” thing is a thing of a goodness. It isn’t. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to. Like that sheriff without his pants. The goodness is in the laughing itself. I grok it is a bravery . . . and a sharing . . . against pain and sorrow and defeat.”
  • … sex should be a means of happiness. The worst thing about sex is that we use it to hurt each other. It ought never to hurt; it should bring happiness, or, at the very least, pleasure.There is no good reason why it should ever be anything less.
  • But goodness alone is never enough. A hard cold wisdom is required, too, for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom invariably accomplishes evil.
  • Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried. Democracy’s worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents–a depressingly low level, but what else can you expect?
  • Don’t use that word (fantastic) to a lawyer; straining at gnats and swallowing camels is a required course in law school… In the fifteenth century the Pope deeded the Western Hemisphere to Portugal and Spain, and nobody cared that the real estate was occupied by people with their owns laws, customs, and property rights. His grant was effective, too — Look at a map and notice where Spanish is spoken and Portuguese is spoken.
  • He should have known better because, early in his learnings under his brother Mahmoud, he had discovered that long human words (the longer the better) were easy, unmistakable, and rarely changed their meanings, but short words were slippery, unpredictable changing their meanings without any pattern. Or so he seemed to grok. Short human words were never like a short Martian word — such as “grok” which forever meant exactly the same thing. Short human words were like trying to lift water with a knife. And this had been a very short word.Valentine Michael Smith’s musings on “God”
  • His idea is that whenever you encounter any other grokking thing — he didn’t say “grokking” at this stage – – any other living thing, man, woman, or stray cat… you are simply encountering your “other end”… and the universe is just a little thing we whipped up among us the other night for our entertainment and then agreed to forget the gag.
    Human bipolarity was both binding force and driving energy for all human behavior, from sonnets to nuclear equations. If any being thinks that human psychologists have exaggerated this, let it search Terran patent offices, libraries, and art galleries for the creations of eunuchs.
  • I do know that the slickest way to lie is to tell the right amount of truth – then to shut up.
  • Mike gives a kiss his whole attention.
  • She walked up to him, stood on tiptoes, and held up her arms. “Kiss me, Mike.” Mike did. For some seconds they “grew closer.” Dorcas fainted.
  • The code says, “Thou shalt not covet they [sic] neighbor’s wife”–and the result? Reluctant chastity, adultery, jealousy, bitter family fights, blows and sometimes murder, broken homes and twisted children . . . and furtive, dirty little passes at country club dances and the like, degrading to both man and woman whether consummated or not. Is this injunction ever obeyed? The Commandment not to “covet” I mean; I’m not refering to any physical act. I wonder. If a man swore to me on a stack of his own Bibles that he had refrained from coveting another man’s wife because the code forbade it, I would suspect either self-decepiton or subnormal sexuality. Any male virile enough to sire a child is almost certainly so virile that he has coveted many, many women–whether he takes action in the matter or not.
    Now comes Mike and says: “There’s no need for you to covet my wife . . . love her! There’s no limit to her love, we all have everything to gain–and nothing to lose but fear and guilt and hatred and jealousy.”
  • The Universe was a damned silly place at best… but the least likely explanation for its existence was the no-explanation of random chance, the conceit that some abstract somethings “just happened” to be some atoms that “just happened” to look like consistent laws and then some of these configurations “just happened” to be the Man from Mars and the other a bald-headed old coot with Jubal himself inside.
  • No, Jubal would not buy the “just happened” theory, popular as it was with men who called themselves scientists. Random chance was not a sufficient explanation of the Universe–in fact, random chance was not sufficient to explain random chance; the pot could not hold itself.
  • There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk “his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor” on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else.
  • Thou art God and I am God and all that groks is God, and I am all that I have ever been or seen or felt or experienced.

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