Various Sayings by James
Here are some of my favorite sayings, all of which are mine:
- You don’t have to be the smartest person in the world on a subject. You just have to be smart enough to figure out who the smartest person in the world is, and then copy the hell out of him.
- If you look at what people do, rather than what they say, you will have a clarity of insight that few people could ever dream of.
- To some extent, money and time can be traded off. In theory, if you have enough money, you can increase how much time you have to live by consulting the best doctors, hiring a really good personal trainer, changing your diet, etc., but this can only take you so far. So once your income reaches a certain level of income, you should be consciously making time/money tradeoffs very frequently.
- When people say, “I need to go home and recharge my batteries,” they mean this figuratively, not literally — they need to take a bath, reflect, rest, perhaps take a nap. I now have so many mobile devices — my notebook computer, spare batteries for my notebook, my MiFi wireless Internet modem, my wireless mouse, my iPhone, my batteries for my iPhone — that when I say I need to go home and recharge my batteries, I mean it literally, not figuratively.
- When I ask you, “What is 2 + 2,” just answer 4, do not tell me the history of mathematics.
- Much of the time, when someone says they are facing an ethical dilemma, what they really mean is that they are trying to rationalize some behavior that is clearly unethical.
- My standards for quality are what I call the Scalia-U.S. Supreme Court test. Imagine it is 2030 and you are an attorney, representing a client who is on death row. After a decade of losing every appeal you have filed in every conceivable court, the U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear your last ditch, totally desperate appeal. That’s the good news. The bad news is that since the Obama administration, the Republicans have been in charge of the White House and the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Supreme Court is now comprised of Justice Antonin Scalia and eight of his clones. Each of them hates death penalty appeals and each of them looks for any reason to deny such petitions. So any typo, any grammatical error, any miscite, any mistake, any error in logic, no matter how trivial or subtle, and your appeal is denied and your client fries the next day, along with you, as a penalty for submitting a substandard brief. So when you turn work in to me, assume it should be of sufficiently high quality that it can withstand scrutiny by nine Justice Scalia’s, and if you do, you will not fry.
- In Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008), the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the imposition of the death penalty for crimes against an individual that do not involve murder. Most people do not realize that in footnote 14 of that opinion there is an exception for people who turn in sloppy work to me.
- When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, I predicted he would be one of the worst Presidents in U.S. history. I was wrong, I completely overestimated him. In fact, he is without doubt the worst President in U.S. history.
- I am certain there is something less interesting than watching a baseball game, but at the current moment I cannot imagine what that might be. If you gave me a choice between watching a baseball game and watching grass grow, I probably would choose the former, but on the other hand, perhaps watching grass grow is not so bad.
- Patience is a “virtue” that is vastly overrated. I like people who get things done now.
- My lack of patience is one of the few good traits I have. Why the hell would I want to give it up?
- The Bible says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) I see no empirical evidence to support that assertion.
- Most people are clueless about most things most of the time. In order to be spectacularly successful, you do not need to not be clueless. Rather, you just need to half clueless. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.
- Before I hire someone, I ask them detailed questions about how many hours a week they expect to work at my company. Based on the answers I have heard from so many applicants, it seems as if a large percentage of the U.S. workforce that does not have kids nevertheless expects to be placed on the mommy and daddy track.
- What’s the point of being intelligent if you act like an idiot most of the time?
- There are some people whose intellectual depth is so shallow that one might say, “He just reads the headlines, not the articles.” Actually, for some of the people I know, a more accurate characterization would be that they skim the headlines, they don’t actually read every word of the headline.
- Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Plato, Dialogues, Apology) If that is the case, I know several people who should commit suicide immediately.
- Whoever coined the phrase, “He does not suffer fools gladly” was probably thinking of me.
- A substantial portion of my life has been spent watching supposedly intelligent people act like total idiots.
- I have nothing against retards, they are people just like you and me. It’s just that I don’t think retards should be allowed to be Presidential candidates, CEOs, or judges. I also don’t want them working for any of my companies.
- All of us are familiar with the stories of Joseph Harris, Jennifer San Marco and Lawrence Jasion, individuals who were so bored by working for the U.S. Postal Service that they flipped out and killed several of their co-workers, what we now call “going postal.” As a society, we have registered our disapproval of their actions by sentencing them to life imprisonment, assuming they did not commit suicide in the killing spree. I have a different take on this — I think they should get a medal for lasting as long as they did before they went postal. If I worked for the post office, I doubt I would last a whole week before I flipped out and started killing people.
- Advocates for those with mental disabilities are constantly urging us to hire such people. I think this has gone too far, it seems as if most of the companies in America are now staffed almost entirely by retards.
- Most people underestimate how lazy the average person is. Take your best guess and then multiply by 1 million, and you will be reasonably close.
- I don’t mind that you are a total absolute idiot, literally one of the dumbest people on the planet. Really, I don’t mind at all, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Someone has to be in the bottom 1 percent of the IQ bell curve and apparently God has chosen you for that role. Congratulations! What I do mind is that you do not realize you are a total absolute idiot and you won’t shut the fuck up.
- Dying your hair purple does not mean you are creative. Wearing a nose ring does not mean you are original. Shaving your hair into a Mohawk does not mean you are a genius. Covering your body with tattoos does not mean you are a free thinker. Having a sex change operation does not mean you are smart. All that any of these things mean is that you are an idiot.
- There is being different because you refuse to accept conventional wisdom when it is clearly wrong. And there is being odd simply for the sake of being odd. It’s important to know the difference.
- The 2012 Republican primary has given new meaning to the phrase, “The inmates are running the asylum.”
- The reason we have such idiots running for office is because most voters are idiots. As Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” The last thing we need to do is to increase the voter participation rate. Rather, we want to decrease — substantially decrease — the number of Americans who can vote. Let’s start with anyone who has been a registered Democrat in the last five years, and simply disenfranchise him. Then find every person who would classify himself as a social conservative, and disenfranchise him. If you limit the voting population to whomever is left over, the quality of the candidates will go up.
- On Election Day, one is bombarded with the message, “Vote! Go to the polls and vote!” How about an alternative message, “You probably are not smart enough to help choose the next Leader of the Free World. Go to a bar, go home, go play with your children, but for God’s sake, do not vote!”
- Both liberals and social conservatives are scary people and one should do everything one can to make certain they never assume power. Liberals are much scarier, however. Liberals essentially want — to the extent they have not yet accomplished this — to enact the European welfare state in the United States, thus guaranteeing the U.S. will become economically bankrupt the way Greece, Spain and Portugal clearly are. The biggest problem with their agenda is that it almost all entitlements are politically impossible to eliminate once they are instituted, as they quickly become a “right” that is close to being guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
The social conservatives have an equally stupid agenda, namely that the government belongs in your bedroom. The reason they are less dangerous than the liberals is that it is conceivable that their ill-advised measures (unlike liberal entitlements) can be repealed without the country falling apart in the meantime. If the social conservatives are successful in banning same sex marriage, for example, eventually the voters will come to their senses and repeal such an idiotic policy. In other words, the damage done by the social conservatives is temporary damage, while the damage done by the liberals is more permanent. The best hope, of course, is that neither group is ever elected to any position with more power than dogcatcher.
- I accused a friend of mine of engaging in fuzzy, sloppy liberal thinking. And then I realized how redundant my statement was.
- The Republican and Democratic parties are engaged in an incredibly intense and fierce battle to be more stupid than the opposing party. The problem is that both of them are winning.
Dating and Romance
- Guys are very simple creatures. If a girl who is older than 25 has not figured this out, she is totally clueless.
- The smarter, the more intelligent and the more accomplished a single woman is, the less likely she is to understand men. I meet lots and lots of secretaries who seem to have men figured out, while the women CEOs I know are much more likely to be clueless about men.
- Most girls are crazy. If you are a straight guy, unless you find one of the few that are not, you have to accept this and decide what kind of crazy you are willing to live with. Alternatively, you could become gay, but presumably that is not a very appealing option.
- Most girls are crazy. If you’re female, are not crazy, and you are able to communicate that to men, everything else equal, a lot of men will be interested in you, as most men would prefer not to date crazy women.
- One thing I have definitely learned: When a girl has a flashing neon sign on her head saying “I am totally nuts,” assume she is telling the truth.
- The number of highly feminine, girly girl women is vastly smaller than the number of men who desire such women. Even more interestingly, the more successful and more educated a man is, the stronger his preference is likely to be for highly feminine women. Thus, if you were take, say, straight men at Stanford Business School, a very high percentage of them prefer highly feminine women, much higher than, say, truck drivers. Since demand is substantially greater than supply, girly girl women who are reasonably attractive and who are not totally crazy can usually have their pick of the litter when it comes to dating men.
- Within a relationship, women see sex as icing on the cake. Men see it as the entire desert, in fact the whole five-course meal.
- Women are known for wanting to get to know a guy before they sleep with him. But this is also true of men. The only difference is the amount of time desired. Many women might want to wait three dates before they sleep with a guy, while most men would be satisfied waiting ten minutes or so.
- Dating coaches say, “There is a lid for every pot.” All I can say is that there are lot of very strange pots out there.
- Older man to much younger woman: “I totally love you, you are the love of my life, you are the most amazing girl in the world, where have you been all of my life?”
Much younger woman: “Well, for most of your life, I was not born yet.”
- Men are from Earth, women are from an alternative universe.
- Now and then, women friends of mine tell me they will be attending a class on “How to give better blow jobs.” I keep telling them, “To teach such a class, you need men to practice on. How do I volunteer?”
- There is nothing worse than a totally hot girl who is not attracted to men. What a waste, a total waste. Only ugly girls should be lesbians.
- Most people would agree that gay men are, on average, more attractive, in better shape, better educated, more successful professionally, more interested in culture, and more emotionally communicative than the average straight guy. If I were a straight girl, this would really piss me off. As a straight man, I am totally delighted that these guys are removed from the competition pool.
- I have no problem if 90 percent of the men in the world want to become gay.
- There is something profoundly wrong with a straight guy who does not enjoy watching two hot girls making out.
- No one ever accused me of being gay.
- Guys often suggest to girls that they wear more skimpy outfits, clothing that is more revealing. Some girls respond, “I want to leave something to the imagination.” All I can say is that I am not a very imaginative person.
- In terms of hot girls and the clothes they wear, less is more.
- Psychologists tell us that if we cannot quickly deduce sexual identification when we meet someone, that causes cognitive dissonance. I agree. If I cannot tell right away that a girl is a girl, that’s a really bad sign.
- There is a saying, “All’s fair in love and war.” Actually, this is not quite true. Since the beginning of recorded history, there have been international laws concerning how warfare is conducted — e.g., you do not kill enemy soldiers who are willing to surrender, you do not use poison gas, there are specific rules about how prisoners of war are to be treated. Several treaties have been ratified by almost all of the countries in the world, most notably the Geneva Convention, and in general such treaties are abided by almost all countries. Love is a different matter, as there are no commonly accepted rules or understandings. Basically, anything goes. So a more accurate statement would be, “All’s fair in love.”
- Psychological research suggests that people generally choose mates with a similar level of attractiveness. I have a different philosophy: No matter how attractive or unattractive I might be, I want to date the hottest girl I can. If the most beautiful girl in the world is willing to go out with me, why would I say no?
- There are hundreds of reasons for men not to date a feminist. One of them is that if you do, you will most likely have a constant discussion of gender roles and the relationship. That is not what men are looking for. Dating should be like when a guy asks a girl to dance — the guy asks, the girl says yes (hopefully), the guy leads, the girls follows, there is no analytical discussion of gender roles, misogyny, glass ceilings, victimhood, the Equal Rights Amendment, Ms. Magazine, household division of labor, patriarchal male domination, you just dance and have fun.
- Feminists are always telling younger women, “You should be grateful to your older feminist sisters. It is because of our efforts and sacrifice that you now have so many more opportunities than existed in the 1950s.” In evaluating what these older feminists have actually contributed, one should consider not only the positive aspects but also the negative aspects. Let’s be candid here, the feminist movement has done some good but far more harm: illogical thinking, shrillness, intellectual dishonesty, hypocrisy. So when younger women evaluate how grateful they should be to their older feminist sisters, these younger women should consider both the harm they have done as well as well the good they have done.
- One of the mistakes people make in evaluating feminism is they fail to disaggregate their lives. Let’s divide your life into three categories: (i) work/professional, (ii) personal and social, and (iii) romantic/love/dating. Feminism has and done make sense in some ways in the work/professional realm. It usually does not make sense in the other aspects of one’s life.
- George Bernard Shaw said, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” I feel the same way about debating with feminists, it’s better to just avoid the debate. Instead, tell them how cute they are when they get mad, they always like to hear that.
- It’s best to think of feminism as a disease. The smartest people are never infected, others are infected when they are young and stupid but as they gain wisdom they outgrow it, and an unfortunate few are infected their entire lives.
- Debating feminists is like shooting fish in the barrel. Yes, you are certain to win, but where is the challenge?
- There is nothing more pitiful than a man who has been pussy whipped.
- What is the correlation between feminism and IQ? It is not a straight line, either positively or negatively correlated. Rather, it is more complicated. Below, say, 105 IQ, one will find few feminists, because people below a certain IQ are usually not capable of conceptual, abstract thinking. So feminism flourishes between those with an IQ of, say, 105 and 120, people capable of understanding simple conceptual paradigms but not smart enough to notice feminism’s intellectual bankruptcy. The higher you are in IQ above 120, the less likely you are to be a feminist.
- Men and women being equal makes as much sense as fish and bicycles being equal. They are so different that the concept is ludicrous on its face.
- The Japanese are known for their inscrutability. Yes means maybe, maybe means no, except on Sunday, when it means perhaps. But perhaps does not really mean perhaps, it means who the heck knows. Just what we need, an entire country of people who, in the guise of politeness, cannot say what they thinking.
- I am really bad at mind reading, I flunked that course in high school. Just tell me what you are thinking and we will probably get along just fine.
- Various people have said various things about; a few of them are even true. Not one person, not even the dumbest idiot on the planet, has ever said I am subtle. I am the most unsubtle person you will ever meet. With me, you will not have to guess what I am thinking, I will simply tell you, in very simple and plain English. If what I say appears not to sink in, I will repeat myself a few times. If after that you still don’t understand what I am saying, you need a new brain.
- Larry Summers had only one weakness: He was too meek and polite and timid and he did not speak his mind enough. You can only imagine the faculty ruckus that would erupt if I were ever President of Harvard University.
- If Harvard College offered a class on sex, every undergraduate would clamor to take it, there would be a long waiting list, and within a year, the entire campus would be celibate. (on Harvard’s ability to make an interesting subject tedious and boring)
- If you choose to attend Harvard College, you will spend four years in Cambridge, Massachusetts. If you choose Yale College, you will spend four years in New Haven, Connecticut. What else do you need to know? (Advice given to those fortunate enough to be dual admits to Harvard and Yale and who are trying to decide which college to attend)
- The best investment Yale University could make out of its $16 billion endowment (as of December 2009) would be to move the entire university to New York City.
- A friend of mine is a liberal arts, artsy fartsy, non-profit type of girl. Before she attended the Yale School of Management and Social Work, she did not know anything about business, after she graduated she did not know anything about business, and ten years later, she still does not know anything about business. Yes, her college grades were outstanding, her GMAT scores were amazing, but I am still amazed that they admitted her and that she graduated, and it makes me wonder about the school.
- Once a year during winter session, MIT offers a one-day non-credit course called “Charm School,” where MIT’s nerds and geeks can learn about social manners and customs. Given my experience with MIT’s students, a one-day class once a year is insufficient. Rather, once a day, every day, during one’s entire four years at MIT would barely be enough.
- The quality of education offered by a graduate school of business is directly proportional to the number of years of work experience they require of their applicants. Take the University of Chicago, which regularly admits students with no work experience, and thus admits students who are completely clueless about business. Since you learn more from your fellow students than you do from your professors, the quality of education offered at Chicago will be substantially inferior to schools such as Stanford and Harvard, which almost always require several years of significant work experience before you are admitted.
- 99 percent of the Emerson College students and alumni who are rude, flaky and irresponsible give the remaining 1 percent a bad name.
- When discussing organizations that are examples of how not to do things, the most common examples management consultants use are universities and law firms.
- Of the thousands of people I know, without a doubt the people with the least amount of courage — in other words, the biggest cowards — are those who work for colleges and universities, whether as faculty or administrators. I have not met more cowards per capita in any other sector.
- Economists like to talk about returns on education — i.e., those who have masters degrees earn, on average, more than those who only have bachelor’s degrees, who earn more than those who have not attended college. Some have gone so far as to calculate the value of each additional year of school — e.g., for each additional year, one’s lifetime earnings will increase by $42,000. Among highly successful software entrepreneurs, the returns on education are negative. Most of the billionaires dropped out of college while most of those with a mere $100 million net worth have bachelors and master’s degree. It appears for this select group of people, each additional year of school decreases one’s net worth by about $225 million.
- Almost every month, it seems as if U.S. News & World Report is releasing one of its annual school rankings: colleges and universities, law schools, business schools, medical schools, graduate schools of education, even high schools. (What is next, dog training schools?) These rankings perform a very valuable service; if nothing else they are a fairly good IQ test: Anyone dumb enough to take these rankings seriously is clearly not smart enough to attend a good school.
- Most companies overspend on lead generation and underspend on following up on the leads that are generated.
- In the high tech industry, it is survival of the fittest. The market is very cruel to companies run by idiots, for they quickly become road kill. A company headed by a totally unethical CEO can be successful (e.g., Mark Zuckenberg of Facebook). The worst crime is to be clueless, that is worse than being a child molester.
- Entrepreneurship is like sex. Rather than taking classes in it, it’s much better to obtain hands on experience.
- My secret for my success as a CEO is very simple: hire people smarter than me, get the hell out of their way, and then take all of the credit for their success.
- If I ever became CEO of a public company, the first thing I would ask is, “How do we take this company private?”
- I know several highly successful CEOs who have never had an original thought in their entire life. There are a ton of business thinkers out there who have insightful and creative ideas about how to run a company, and all a CEO has to do is to be aware of current management theory and then choose which approach makes sense under his particular circumstances. If you want to be a spectacularly successful CEO, then you will have to have original thoughts; you cannot become a cent millionaire copying other people’s ideas. But this approach does work is you just want to be highly successful.
- In business, be wary of the pundit who has never been to bat. Just as you do not take seriously anything said about sex by a virgin priest, one should be skeptical of anything said about business by someone who has not been in the trenches.
- I regularly get approached by people whose entire career has been in the non-profit sector and who want to make the jump into the profit sector. I spend a lot of time molding, training, guiding and mentoring my partners and employees, but the odds that I will be able to mold someone whose entire professional career consists of ten years of non-profit work experience into a high powered for-profit executive are about equal to a comet hitting the Earth today.
- For most acquisitions of technology companies, I would rather be the seller than the buyer.
- Everything that is insightful that has been written by corporate finance professors can be written down on a few pieces of paper, with plenty of blank pages left over. The same is true of computer science professors.
- There are an infinite number of commentators who constantly tell us, “Virtual teams are the wave of the future.” What’s particularly interesting is that none of them have ever once in their life actually managed a team, let alone a virtual team. If they had, I suspect they would not be so quick to sing the praises of virtual teams. Instead, they would be praising the virtues of old fashioned, in person non-virtual teams. I know of no high impact project that was staffed with a virtual team. The lack of such empirical data is not an anomaly, it’s empirical proof that in almost all cases, virtual teams simply are less productive.
- You know that feeling you have when someone describes having a sex change? “Eeww, that sounds really awful, I would never consider that in a million years.” That’s how I feel when someone suggests managing a virtual team.
- It’s better to have customers than to have clients. Clients are a total pain in the neck.
- Convention wisdom is that the idea is worth 1 percent and execution is worth 99 percent. I have a different approach. I look for really good ideas and I will not start a company until I find one. I want the idea to be worth at least 50 percent. That way, I don’t have to have the best execution in the world yet I still make a ton of money.
- Most investors are not very smart. That’s why you see so many of them purchasing subprime mortgages and Greece bonds, while they avoid asset classes such as litigation finance, which offers exceptional returns relative to risk. If you are reasonably intelligent in your investment decisions, you can make a lot of money.
- I have nothing against job hoppers, I am certain that a few of them are very fine people. They just need to understand that except in very unusual cases, I would never hire them in a million years, even if they were willing to work for free.
- There is a saying that on your deathbed, no one regrets that they did not spend more time in the office. On my deathbed, I will regret that my employees did not spend more time in the office.
- I’ve had many successes in my life and I intend on having many, many more. On my tombstone I want to mention my greatest success, namely that for every company I have founded, I was able to finance that startup without accepting venture capital.
- Investors (both angels and VCs) in Silicon Valley are not just better, but are really a different type of entity. It’s not the difference between a bicycle and a motorcycle but more like the difference between a bicycle and a jet.
- Murder is a terrible crime and in some circumstances, I support the imposition of death as a penalty. At the same time, we must acknowledge long-respected justifications: self-defense, insanity, and killing a VC that has totally jerked you around.
- Mark Suster compares individual investors to angels and venture capitalists such as himself to Darth Vader. If I were Darth Vader, I would sue Suster for libel.
- However painful you think raising money for a startup will be, it will be a lot worse than you imagine. VCs are a total pain in the ass, they want too much of your company, they say they don’t want control but they will gain de facto control contractually rather than through control of the Board of Directors, and most of them are not as bright as they think they are. Angels and private investors are in some (but not all) ways worse than VCs — they have ridiculously specific preferences, one day they are investing and the next day they are not, most have much less money than they say they do, and most simply do not follow up. But here’s the good news. Imagine some day you are convicted for multiple violent felonies and you are sent to the worst hellhole prison in the federal system, having been sentenced to life without parole. Your cellmate is a gorilla who is intent on making you his sex slave. You can always say to yourself, “As bad as it is being in this prison, it is far preferable to what I experienced when I was raising money for my startup.”
- Three things I can say with absolute certainty:
I will never become gay.
I will never have a sex change.
I will never raise money from a venture capitalist.
If I lost all of my money and I needed $1 million to finance my next startup, I would rather work at a minimum wage job, saving $2 an hour. Assuming a 40 hour work week and ignoring compound interest, that would mean that mean after 250 years I would have enough money to start a company. Working those 250 years at a minimum wage job would be preferable than the permanent brain damage caused in talking with VCs.
- The smarter the software nerd, the more likely he is to think software patents are a really dumb idea, if not outright evil. Did it ever occur to the Einsteins on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the bozos who in State Street v. Signature Group expanded the scope of software patents) that if of the top 1 percent of software engineers, 99 percent of them think software patents are ridiculous, then perhaps they are not such a good idea?
- The single best thing we could do to boost the U.S. economy would be to blow up the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, preferably in the daytime, when all of its employees are likely to be inside the building. Doing so would ensure that no ridiculous software or business method patent would ever again be issued. If after that you wanted to kill all of the IP lawyers specializing in software and business method patents, I would not object.
- I am not a mathematician, nor am I an applied mathematician. I am not a scientist, nor am I am an engineer. I am not a computer scientist, nor am I a software engineer. At one time I was a hacker, supposedly a very good hacker, but I do not do much computer programming anymore.
- Rather than being called a computer or geek, I prefer “computer guru.”
- There is an assumption that 95 percent of Web designers — most of whom have an artistic temperment — are flaky. Having dealt with hundreds of them, I can personally attest that that stereotype is unfounded, in that it vastly overstates the numbers who are not flaky. In fact, about 99 percent of Web designers are flaky.
- Friends of my say I am always connected to the Internet, that psychologically I have trouble being unplugged, what they call “off the grid.” This is total rubbish. I regularly go for 15, even 20 minutes without being connected to the Internet without any problems whatsoever.
- Computer Skills Certifications — Having met so many software developers with various certifications who could not code their way out of a paper bag, when I meet someone who has such a certificate, I assume they are incompetent until they prove otherwise.
- Every one of the companies I have started is an extensive user of Microsoft software, and most of them are enrolled in various Microsoft software programs, such as Action Pack and Bizspark. Every year when we renew our subscriptions, it literally takes weeks for the database in one Microsoft department to notify another database in another department that we have renewed. Perhaps if Microsoft used the Oracle DBMS rather than Microsoft SQL Server, the notification would take one second rather than a few weeks.
- Most computer science departments offer a class in writing mathematical proofs of a program’s correctness. Having read much of that literature, one thing can be said with mathematical certainty: if a program can be proven correct using mathematical proofs, the problem it is trying to solve is so trivial that no one cares. Any problem complex enough that someone might care cannot be proved correct by a mathematical proof.
- Every prediction about artificial intelligence that has been made, no matter how pessimistic, has turned out in retrospect to be wildly optimistic.
- Mitchell’s Law 147 — In almost all cases, it is preferable to write your application to execute at the database server/layer, rather than on the Web or application server.
- Throughout human history, there are too many examples of true barbarism — the Bataan Death March, the Naking Massacre, Hitler’s concentration camps, Idi Amin’s prisons. Certainly one of the worst examples of barbarism is requiring users to enter lots of information through a mobile device rather than an external keyboard and a large monitor.
- In Does IT Matter? Nick Carr argues that computers and information systems will become a commodity that is provided by outside vendors, with little need for involvement by senior management. They will become like electricity, you simply plug the cord into the wall, it works, and you pay based on usage. Just as we do not have Chief Electricity Officers, 50 years from now we will not have Chief Information Officers. Actually, given the increasing costs of energy, power and electricity, perhaps we should have more Chief Electricity Officers today.
- The problem with most software developers is not that they cannot see the forest for the trees. The problem is that they cannot see even one lousy tree because they can barely see a branch of a tree. If you find a developer who can see an entire tree, hire him on the spot.
- In judging whether a software developer is first rate, the question to ask is not “At age 14, were you playing computer games?” The question to ask is, “At age 14, were you programming computer games?” If the answer is yes, the odds are good that you have a talented software developer on your hands.
- Whenever I hire a software developer, I look at examples of code they have written. Based on what I have seen, it appears as if most software developers learned how to write software by taking classes from a correspondence school that advertises on the back of matchbook covers.
- If you did not know how to tie your shoes, would you expect someone else to come over to your house every day and tie them for you? Hell no! You would quickly learn how to tie your own shoes. If a friend of yours called you and said, “I’ve never been very good at this tying my shoes thing, would you mind coming over every day and tying them for me,” would you agree? Hell no! You would tell them to learn how to tie their own [expletive deleted] shoes. So why are computers different? Sure, they are a bit harder to master than tying your shoes, but anyone with a three digit IQ can learn how to use them reasonably well if they spend the necessary time and energy. So why are we as a society so tolerant of those who are complete idiots in using computers? Why are we not telling them, “Stop being a lazy idiot! Go learn how to use them. Take a class, read a book! Now!” Instead, we hand hold them, baby sitting them as we show them how to do things they should have learned decades ago.
- Christians tell us that St. Peter is the gatekeeper to Heaven, with admission to Heaven based on whether you have lived a life of honesty and integrity. The problem is that such an evaluation is inherently subjective and St. Peter’s computer records may not be as complete as they should be. After all, how do we know if God hired the right software development firm? Instead, let’s base admission to Heaven on computer skills and knowledge. We can eliminate subjective assessments completely and simply have a test (written by me, of course) that is administered when you seek admittance. It should not be an either/or decision, but rather Heaven should have different zones. Those who are true programming geniuses — e.g., Richard Stallman, Robert Morris, Donald Knuth, Eric Raymond, Linus Torvalds, Paul Graham, David Cutler — would receive ten-room penthouse suites on the beach, while those who barely pass would live in a studio apartment with lots of roommates.
- I run a large social group and we send our invitations by e-mail. Now and then someone asks me to put them on the invitation list, but they do not have e-mail. How am I supposed to invite them, via carriage pigeon? Sorry, our carriage pigeon fleet is temporarily out of commission.
- It’s difficult to imagine a first rate mind who is not keenly interested in computers.
- God did not put me on Earth for me to spend my scarce and valuable time providing technical support to computer idiots.
- Child molesters are despicable human beings, and our society registers its disapproval of them by sentencing them to long jail terms, sometimes life without parole. But when you think about it, have you personally been affected by a child molester? I haven’t and I don’t know anyone who has. Several times a week, however, my life is made miserable by computer idiots, yet they never suffer any punishment at all. So it seems to me we have it backwards, we should spend more police and judicial resources prosecuting and punishing computer retards, and less resources prosecuting child molesters.
- If I were a judge assigned to the court that punishes defendants for being ignorant about computers, no one would accuse me of being a bleeding heart.
- No doubt you have wondered, “What do computer gurus talk about among themselves?” (OK, maybe you have never wondered about this, but let’s assume you have.) Yes, a large part of our conversations involve hundreds of acronyms that you will never be able to understand. But we also spend quite a lot of time talking about how many computer idiots there are and how we would like all of them to be moved to another planet.
- Assuming you regularly do complex intellectual work, not being good at computers is like running a race with a 90 lb. knapsack on your back. Yes, you still might finish the race but most likely every other runner will finish ahead of you.
- Imagine you a member of a crew boat with eight rowers. You have an advanced paddle which is five times as good as the old paddles. Imagine that your seven other crew members refuse to adopt the new paddle and thus they are rowing at one-fifth the speed that you are. This is how a computer-savvy knowledge workers feels about working in a company staffed with computer retards.
- I used to say that most of my friends had computer skills equal to my dog. But then my dog and I had a heart-to-heart talk. She made it clear she did not like being insulted by being compared with my friends; she contends her computer skills are far superior to most of them.
- The world is divided into masochists, people who enjoy inflicting pain upon themselves, and those who do not. As long as we have masochists, we will have Linux programmers.
- When you install a server operating system, you basically have two choices: Windows Server or one of the Linux distros. If you choose the former, assuming you have a modicum of computer aptitude and a rudimentary understanding of Windows, you can have a server up and running in two hours, including the operating system, IIS and SQL Server. If you choose the latter, assuming you have only 5 years of full-time experience hacking Linux, you will spend a week or so before you give up and bring in someone more experienced, because 5 years of Linux experience is simply not enough to know all of the undocumented tips that are necessary to get even a basic Linux server working. Given that I value my time at more than $1 an hour, I have chosen the former option.
- Some people claim that I have believe that anyone who does not know how to program in C++ should be sentenced to five years in prison. This is a totally untrue and unfair characterization of my views. In fact, I am quite willing for you to be able to demonstrate competency in any programming language, not just C++, in order to avoid serious jail time.
- I used to think that people who are inept with computers should be executed by a firing squad. In the last few years I’ve mellowed quite a bit and now I am willing to be kind and merciful, allowing them the option of lethal injection. I’m even willing to let them choose the traditional three drug cocktail or the newer one drug cocktail. So why are so many people saying I am a hardass on this issue? If anything, it appears to me that I have become too soft.
- If ignorance of how to use computers was a crime, most of my friends would be on Death Row.
- Google has just released an updated version of Google Docs; it is a huge improvement over the previous version. Google Docs has gone from being incredibly awful to merely awful.
- Many men go through a midlife crisis. Some die their hair, others purchase a fast sports car, and a few move to Nepal to contemplate their navel. Some start dating young models, while other dump Microsoft Office and convert to Gmail and Google Docs.
- I used to say that users of Google Docs were as dumb as crack addicts. But then I realized this was insulting to crack addicts.
- The software developers who wrote Google Docs should be publicly executed. A public firing squad would be most appropriate, I think, in order to make a public example so that other software developers are deterred from developing inferior software. I hereby volunteer to be one of the triggermen.
- When purchasing software, less is rarely if ever more. Rather, more is more. In almost all cases, you are better off purchasing a full-featured, even high end software package or service that you will never outgrow, rather than software with training wheels and no features whose capabilities you will quickly exhaust. Switching software packages is difficult and expensive and it makes much more sense to choose sensibly and correctly the first time, even if the learning curve is a bit steeper for the full featured package. Thus, it is in most cases incredibly dumb to choose packages or services such as 37 Signals, which offer essentially no features and whose limitations you will quickly become frustrated with.
- 37 Signals’ success is empirical proof that P.T. Barnum was correct. There is a sucker born every minute.
- In their books, their blog, at several conferences, and in numerous videos, the founders of 37 Signals regularly talk about how to be successful in your Internet startup: do not work hard, work 4 days a week, virtual teams are just as good as in-person teams, ignore customer feedback, offer a service with no features, design and program what appeals to you rather than your users, ship/release your product before it is ready, and remove features that were in previous versions of your product. In doing so, they provide a useful filter: anyone dumb enough to take their advice seriously is clearly not smart enough to start a company.
- If 37 Signals published a word processing package in 2011, they would not offer styles, keep with next, keep lines together, page break before, footnotes and endnotes, kerning, mail merge, table of contents, sections, track changes, sequences, bookmarks, cross references, automatic numbering, superscripts and subscripts, double underlines, borders, frames, crop marks, watermarks, document templates, and they would certainly not include Visual Basic for Applications. They would argue that since they do not need those features, and since writing such features is hard and what is most important is that their software developers work a 4 day work week rather than busting ass to develop a great word processor, you do not need those features, you only think you do. They would offer the equivalent of Easy Writer, a program that IBM sold along with the first IBM PC in 1981. IBM chose Easy Writer because it was so underpowered that IBM did not need to worry about cannibalizing sales of its more profitable dedicated word processing stations (Displaywriter). And like the several dozen competitors of Microsoft Word that tried such a feature-lite approach in the 1980s, 37 Signals would quickly be put out of business.
- Steve Jobs was a genius but at the same time was so utterly clueless in so many ways. Next: no floppy drives, just an optical drive which no one else used at that time. Macintosh: initially a one button mouse. IPhone: no changeable batteries. iPad: Does not run Flash, which makes the iPad useless as a web browser since so many websites use Flash. Just as parents tell their children not to play with matches and never take candy from strangers, they should also tell them never to fall victim to the Steve Jobs reality distortion field.
- Steve Jobs says, “People do not read anymore.” That is partly true and partly wishful thinking on his part. People who do not read tend to be less intelligent, and almost by definition less informed, than those who do, and they are the kind of people who purchase a Macintosh computer.
- Almost every day, I walk past the Apple store, which is well designed and appealing, even enticing. I am always tempted to go in, but to date I have managed not to succumb. I am afraid that I might catch a disease and become yet another member of the Steve Jobs cult, another victim of the Steve Jobs reality distortion field.
- Using an iPhone is like driving a Ferrari: once you have use it for any length of time, it will be very painful to use any other phone.
- I am not hostile towards Apple, I just like to pretend to be. It’s because I so much enjoy making fun of Apple zealots. It’s kind of like boxing a midget, it’s so easy to win, they are so easy to make fun of.
- In some jurisdictions, there is a tradition among the judges that the first motion filed by a newly-admitted lawyer is always allowed. I have no intention of ever becoming a lawyer, but if I ever did, I would move to such a jurisdiction. My first lawsuit would be a lawsuit against Microsoft, Apple and ExxonMobil, seeking $100 billion in damages from each defendant, and the first motion I would file would a pro se motion for summary judgment against each of them.
- One definition of “acting like a lawyer” is that the less important the issue, the more time you spend worrying about and negotiating it.
- I have always found it striking how clueless so many lawyers are about so many things. Why is this? It is because most lawyers are so ordinary in so many ways. I spend most of my time with people who are not ordinary, people of extraordinary intelligence and talent and drive, people who bring a lot to the table. And then I spend some of my time with lawyers, people who have sufficient intellectual capability to pass the bar exam (which does require a certain level of analytical ability) but who often have very little else to offer. That is why lawyers are so clueless about so many things, you are dealing with people that are average in so many ways.
- Teaching a lawyer about how to run his law practice as a business is like teaching your dog to sing. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much effort you expend, no matter how talented your dog is, the results will not be pretty.
- It is difficult to think of a complex intellectual activity that could benefit more from advanced use of computers than the practice of law. The fact that almost all lawyers are totally clueless about how to use computers, despite the obvious benefit they would gain if they were not, just shows how stupid most lawyers are.
- Most law schools have an inherent tension between teaching students how to think and being trade schools, preparing students to practice a (hopefully lucrative) trade. At one end of the spectrum is Yale Law School, which is solely concerned with teaching their students how to think. The assumption is (correctly I believe), “Our students are so smart, they can figure out the pedestrian aspects by themselves.” At the other end are schools such as New England School of Law, which is quite upfront about being a trade school. Harvard Law School is in the middle, wanting to do a bit of both.
- If I had to choose between attending law school for 3 years or going to the dentist every day for 3 years, it would be a tough choice, but I think I would choose the dentist.
- If the French think it is a good idea, it probably isn’t.
- No matter how good of a swimmer you are, if you swim against the tide, the tide will eventually win. I prefer to swim with the tide. It makes me look like a great swimmer, even though I am not.
- In Fall of 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement began. Their goal was to protest economic policies that benefit the top 1 percent in terms of income and wealth. All I can say is that my goal is to move from the top 0.01 percent to the top 0.0001 percent.
- I spend far too much of my time teaching and coaching “adults” on matters they should have figured out in high school. If I wanted to be a baby sitter, I would advertise my availability on Craigslist and make $15 an hour performing these services. I have no interest in being a nursery school teacher; I want to deal with adults.
- I don’t have a problem thinking outside the box, I do it every day, I even do it in my sleep, I’ve been doing it since I was five years old. It’s thinking within the box that I have trouble with.
- Never trust a man who does not drink. — W.C. Fields
- One cannot be expected to stay sober all morning.
- The secret to success is constancy of purpose. — Benjamin Disraeli
- It’s true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance? — Ronald Reagan
- Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven — Milton
- You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
- You can’t send a duck to eagle school. If a duck is sent to eagle school and the Mama eagle teaches that baby duck everything she knows, no matter what, that duck will never be able to do what an eagle does. The duck simply does not have the wing span, the beak, or the talons necessary to be an eagle. You either have it or you don’t have it. — John Morgan
- Friends come and go but enemies accumulate.
- Technology doesn’t make an idiot any smarter. It just makes him more dangerous. — Brian Rivard
- If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton
- It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.
- When all is said and done, a lot more is said that is done.
- Freedom of association plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate. — Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 623 (1984)
- Not realizing what you want is a problem of knowledge.
Not pursuing what you want is a problem of motivation.
Not achieving what you want is a problem of persistence. — John C. Maxwell
- There are some remarks that are so stupid that to be even vaguely aware of them is the intellectual equivalent of living next door to Chernobyl. – Elizabeth Wurtzel
- Patience is such a waste of time.
- The problem with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to determine if they’re accurate. — Abraham Lincoln
- 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 them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by 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 cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement; and who at the 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 defeat nor victory. — Theodore Roosevelt
- When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
- The gene pool needs some chlorine.
- Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. — Clint Eastwood in The Dead Pool
- It is much simpler to buy a cat rather than to try to teach a dog how to climb a tree.
- Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. — Mark Twain
- The fact that an opinion is widely held is no evidence whatsoever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. — Bertrand Russell
- There are three types of people: Those who can count and those who cannot.
- When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years. — Mark Twain
- My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub. — Grover Norquist
- 99 percent of politicians give the rest a bad name.
- The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it. — P.J. O’Rourke
- If you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat. — Ronald Reagan
- If you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow. — L.B. Johnson
- You know how a gaggle of moderately attractive women will invariably have one less attractive friend whose function is to make all the other girls feel better about themselves? I think that’s why the other Western states hang out with Utah. — Elie Mystal
- I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: “He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty.” — Gustave Courbet
- California does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem — Philip Greenspun (discussing California’s fiscal crisis in 2010)
- The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them. — Lenin
- If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand. — Milton Friedman
- A successful economy depends on the proliferation of the rich, on creating a large class of risk-taking men who are willing to shun the easy channels of a comfortable life in order to create new enterprise, win huge profits, and invest them again. — George Gilder
- The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. — Margret Thatcher
- Nothing is easier than the expenditure of public money. It doesn’t appear to belong to anyone. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody. — Calvin Coolidge
- You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, will prove the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. — Dr. Adrian Rogers
- Economics is as much a communicable disease as it is a discipline. — Richard B. McKenzie
- It takes a P.D. in economics to not be able to understand the obvious. — Irving Kristol
- The efficient market hypothesis is the most remarkable error in the history of economic theory. — Lawrence Summers
- The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent. — John Maynard Keynes
- The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. — John Kenneth Galbraith
- Dating is a mystery trapped in a puzzle, tucked in a fireproof safe thrown down a mineshaft. — Juliet Jeske
- The odds are good, but the goods are odd. — A saying among MIT women, since at MIT men substantially outnumber women, at least in graduate programs
- I will love you forever — or until I get bored, whichever comes first.
- No woman will ever truly be satisfied because no man has a chocolate penis, wrapped in money that ejaculates diamonds.
- Free sex is the most expensive sex. — Woody Allen
- You’d think he’d be better at sex with all of the porn he watches.
- Nobody teaches volcanoes to happen, tsunamis to arise, hurricanes to sway, and no one teaches how to choose a wife. Natural disasters just happen.
- When you start thinking about death more than sex, you know you’re getting old. — Nick Nolte (when he was 71)
- Nine orgasms and you complain about equality. — Guy talking to girl in bed
- Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
- If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours forever. If they don’t, hunt them down and kill them.
- When my daughter went to college (on scholarship) I warned her not to consider majoring in Women’s Studies. It tells future employers that “not only don’t you know anything, you will sue them.”
- Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That’s not funny.
- Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little. — Samuel Johnson
- I think it’s about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we’ve been voting for boobs long enough. — Clarie Sargent, Arizona senatorial candidate
- Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. — Faith Whittlesey
- Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition. — Timothy Leary
- I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing. — Gloria Steinem
- It’s better to drag them out, because there’s less smoke down there. I mean, we’re probably killing people by carrying them out at that height, you know, so — I mean, you know, we really need to look sensibly here at these jobs and what they really require, and not just some idea of what macho is. — Gloria Steinem commenting on why prospective women fire fighters should not be subjected to the physical strength tests that men are (this is the category of Dumb Quotes rather than Smart Quotes)
- If I worked like a man, they’d call me a lazy bitch.
- You say I’m a bitch like it’s a bad thing.
- There is no such thing as people, just men and women. — George Gilder
- The government teaches these witnesses not only how to sing, but how to compose. — Alan Dershowitz, on prosecutor’s deals with criminal defendants in which the defendant agrees to testify against other defendants in exchange for a reduced criminal charge
- To be an appellate judge is a little like being married in a system of arranged marriage with no divorce. — Richard A. Posner
- On a bench lined with solemn gray figures who often sit as silently as pigeons on a railing, Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court stands out like a talking parrot. — Professor Jerry Goldman of Northwestern University
- I could carve out of a banana a judge with more backbone than that. — Theodore Roosevelt commenting on Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
- It’s no great shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor either. — Tevye the milkman in “Fiddler on the Roof”
- A friend of mine inherited $1 million three years ago, and now he is broke. I asked him, “Where did it all go?” “Well,” he responded, “I spent $100,000 on women. And then I spent $150,000 on gambling. And then I spent $200,000 on drugs. The rest of the money, I spent foolishly.”
- Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping. — Bo Derek
- Liquidity is an illusion. It’s always there when you don’t need it, and rarely there when you do. — Michael Milken
- Wealth is any income that is at least one hundred dollars a year more than the income of one’s wife’s sister’s husband. — H. L. Mencken
- Money isn’t everything but it sure keeps you in touch with your children. — J. Paul Getty
- When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me. — Emo Philips
- They were a people so primitive they did not know how to get money, except by working for it. — Joseph Addison
- I sold my house this week. I got a pretty good price for it, but it made my landlord mad as hell. — Garry Shandling
- Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. — Oscar Wilde
- Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable. — Clare Boothe Luce
- Those who spend too much will eventually be owned by those who are thrifty. — Sir John Templeton
- If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem. — J. Paul Getty
- But much of the cost difference can be attributed to the fact that it is more enjoyable to live in Manhattan or San Francisco than Peoria. Being around smart people is a huge luxury. Intelligent, well-educated people are much more interesting than people with low IQs who haven’t read or studied too much. Unfortunately for those who are retired on a fixed income, smart people tend to find clever ways to make money and this drives up the cost of housing in areas where they congregate. If New Yorkers weren’t so damn good at skimming money from Midwestern mutual fund investors and looting from public corporations, you wouldn’t find that larger apartments in Manhattan had been bid up to $10 million. — Philip Greenspun
- All I want in life is an unfair advantage. — Hank “Ace” Greenberg
- Innovation requires imagination. Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” Making innovative leaps requires design thinking and a culture that looks beyond what exists today.
- Domain expertise to the point of obsession is highly correlated with the most successful entrepeneurs in our portfolio. — Fred Wilson (a venture capitalist)
- If your competition is faster, you must be cheaper. If they sell the story of health, you must sell the story of convenience. Not just the positioning x/y axis sort of “We are cheaper” claim, but a real story that is completely different from the story that’s already being told. — Seth Godin, Be a Better Liar
- Cut Out the Middle Man — Almost all Campaign Monitor development, support and marketing are performed by two people. Even if we’re forced to expand the team, we’ll never separate support from development. By personally responding to every request, we force ourselves to sit in our customers shoes and see things from their perspective. It’s important to understand why your customer needs something, not just what it is they need. That context often has a direct impact on how we design something. Cut out the middle man. It’s much easier to give your customers what they want when your ears are that close to the ground. I’ve discussed this setup with loads of people and the first response is often“shouldn’t you just hire a junior to handle your support?” Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you want your steak cooked just how you like it, would you rather talk to the bus boy or the chef that’s actually cooking it? — David Greiner, founder, Campaign Monitor
- Don’t Follow the Leader — Marketers (and all human beings) are well trained to follow the leader. The natural instinct is to figure out what’s working for the competition and then try to outdo it — to be cheaper than your competitor who competes on price, or faster than the competitor who competes on speed. The problem is that once a consumer has bought someone else’s story and believes that lie, persuading the consumer to switch is the same as persuading him to admit he was wrong. And people hate admitting that they’re wrong. Instead, you must tell a different story and persuade listeners that your story is more important than the story they currently believe.If your competition is faster, you must be cheaper. If they sell the story of health, you must sell the story of convenience. Not just the positioning x/y axis sort of “We are cheaper” claim, but a real story that is completely different from the story that’s already being told. — Seth Godin, Be a Better Liar
- Venture capitalists practice the Golden Rule — He who has the gold makes the rules.
- The difference between a “super angel” and a VC is like making love with a lover versus making love with the government. — Yossi Vardi
- The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” — Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s
- My son is now an “entrepreneur.” That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job. — Ted Turner
- You can mine for gold or you can sell pickaxes. — Chris Dixon
- Facebook is like a Starbucks where everyone hangs out for hours but almost never buys anything. — Chris Dixon
- I have been wondering if entrepreneurs have taken informality too far. I don’t mean dress code. I don’t care how they dress. I mean their thinking and approach. You probably see it all the time – hipster entrepreneurs with the cool affect walking into meetings carrying nothing but their smart phone. When asked to present their story, they ramble informally without a cogent direction. When a substantive discussion ensues, and good ideas and follow-up items are generated, they take no notes. And when the meeting wraps up, there are no action items that are reviewed, no closure regarding next steps.
Some entrepreneurs are confusing informal dress with informal thinking. I can’t stand sloppy, informal thinking. Crisp, logical discussions, well-organized meetings, good note-taking and dogged follow-up are all ingredients of successul, well-run companies. When a startup entrepreneur conveys the opposite in their approach and style – whether in a pitch meeting or in a board meeting – I question whether they can operate their way out of a paper bag. — Jeffrey Bussbang
- There are two types of people in the world. You’ve either started a company or you haven’t. “Started” doesn’t mean joining as an early employee, or investing or advising or helping out. It means starting with no money, no help, no one who believes in you (except perhaps your closest friends and family), and building an organization from a borrowed cubicle with credit card debt and nowhere to sleep except the office. It almost invariably means being dismissed by arrogant investors who show up a half hour late, totally unprepared and then instead of saying “no” give you non-committal rejections like “we invest at later stage companies.” It means looking prospective employees in the eyes and convincing them to leave safe jobs, quit everything and throw their lot in with you. It means having pundits in the press and blogs who’ve never built anything criticize you and armchair quarterback your every mistake. It means lying awake at night worrying about running out of cash and having a constant knot in your stomach during the day fearing you’ll disappoint the few people who believed in you and validate your smug doubters. I don’t care if you succeed or fail, if you are Bill Gates or an unknown entrepreneur who gave everything to make it work but didn’t manage to pull through. The important distinction is whether you risked everything, put your life on the line, made commitments to investors, employees, customers and friends, and tried — against all the forces in the world that try to keep new ideas down — to make something new. — Chris Dixon
- Be An Executioner — It’s so funny when I hear people being so protective of ideas. (People who want me to sign an NDA to tell me the simplest idea.) To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.
Awful idea = -1
Weak idea = 1
So-so idea = 5
Good idea = 10
Great idea = 15
Brilliant idea = 20
No execution = $1
Weak execution = $1000
So-so execution = $10,000
Good execution = $100,000
Great execution = $1,000,000
Brilliant execution = $10,000,000
To make a business, you need to multiply the two. The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20. The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas. I’m not interested until I see their execution. — Derek Sivers, president and programmer, CD Baby and HostBaby
- Clear Writing Leads To Clear Thinking — Clear writing leads to clear thinking. You don’t know what you know until you try to express it. Good writing is partly a matter of character. Instead of doing what’s easy for you, do what’s easy for your reader. — Michael A. Covington, Professor of Computer Science at The University of Georgia(from How to Write More Clearly, Think More Clearly, and Learn Complex Material More Easily)
- Get Into the Groove — We all know that knowledge workers work best by getting into “flow”, also known as being “in the zone”, where they are fully concentrated on their work and fully tuned out of their environment. They lose track of time and produce great stuff through absolute concentration … trouble is that it’s so easy to get knocked out of the zone. Noise, phone calls, going out for lunch, having to drive 5 minutes to Starbucks for coffee, and interruptions by coworkers — especially interruptions by coworkers — all knock you out of the zone. If you take a 1 minute interruption by a coworker asking you a question, and this knocks out your concentration enough that it takes you half an hourto get productive again, your overall productivity is in serious trouble. — Joel Spolsky, software developer, Fog Creek Software (from Where do These People Get Their (Unoriginal) Ideas?)
- An Organized Mind — Good writing skills are an indicator of an organized mind which is capable of arranging information and argument in a systematic fashion and also helping (not making) other people understand things. It spills over into code, personal communications, instant messaging (for those long-distance collaborations), and even such esoteric concepts as professionalism and reliability. — Dustin J. Mitchell, developer
- The Devil’s in the Details — I really got over the “get into details right away” attitude after I took some drawing classes. If you begin to draw the details right away you can be sure that the drawing is going to suck. In fact, you are completely missing the point. You should begin by getting your proportions right for the whole scene. Then you sketch the largest objects in your scene, up to the smallest one. The sketch must be very loose up to this point. Then you can proceed with shading which consists of bringing volume to life. You begin with only three tones (light, medium, dark). This gives you a tonal sketch. Then for each portion of your drawing you reevaluate three tonal shades and apply them. Do it until the volumes are there (requires multiple iteration). Work from large to small. Always. — Patrick Lafleur, Creation Objet Inc. (from Signal vs. Noise)
- Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price. — Samuel Johnson
- What matter is not experience per se but “effortful study,” which entails continually tackling challenges that lies beyond one’s competence. — Ericsson
- The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next. The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing. — Michael E. Gerber
- That which does not kill us makes us stronger. —Nietzsche
- Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration. —Thomas Edison
- Communication flows more easily on small teams than large teams. If you’re the only person on a project, communication is simple. The only communication path is between you and the customer. As the number of people on a project increases, however, so does the number of communication paths. It doesn’t increase additively, as the number of people increases, it increases multiplicatively, proportional to the square of the number of people. — Steve McConnell, Chief Software Engineer at Construx Software BuildersInc. (from Less is More: Jumpstarting Productivity with Small Teams)
- The minimum bar to work remotely is to find someone who loves code as much as you do. It’s … enough. Anything else on top of that — old friendships, new friendships, a good working relationship — is icing that makes working together all the sweeter. The reason remote development worked for us, in retrospect, wasn’t just shared love of code. I picked developers who I knew — I had incontrovertible proof — were amazing programmers. I’m not saying they’re perfect, far from it, merely that they were top programmers by any metric you’d care to measure. That’s why they were able to work remotely. Newbie programmers, or competent programmers who are phoning it in, are absolutely not going to have the moxie necessary to get things done remotely — at least, not without a pointy haired manager, or grumpy old team lead, breathing down their neck. Don’t even think about working remotely with anyone who doesn’t freakin’ bleed ones and zeros, and has a proven track record of getting things done. Only grizzled veterans who absolutely love to code need apply for remote development positions. Mentoring of newbies or casual programmers simply doesn’t work at all remotely. — Jeff Atwood
- What do a Harvard College and a Yale College student have in common? Both got into Yale.
- My students at Yale are clearly smarter than I am. Unlike them, I have to think before I write. — Yale professor
- Being President of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery; there are many people under you, but no one is listening. — Mark Yudof
- The quality of a school is negatively correlated with the unrestrained power of administrators. — Henry Rosovsky
- Talented, motivated, creative people tend to earn more than their peers throughout life. In today’s world, they’re also more likely to complete college. Colleges, for obvious reasons, claim that they make all the difference. There’s a similar difference in earnings between Brooklynites who work in Manhattan and Brooklynites who work in Brooklyn. Anyone who thinks that crossing the Brooklyn Bridge makes people more productive should think about buying it.
For some people in some careers, some colleges may be worth the price they charge. But millions of other people are paying more than quadruple what their parents paid 25 years ago (plus inflation) for a vague credential, not much knowledge or skills, and a crippling amount of debt.
If you question the economic value of college, the defenders’ default answer is that it’s priceless. Indeed, learning should be done throughout life, and technology creates more ways to learn every year. Before long, spending four years in a lecture hall with a hangover will be revealed as an antiquated debt-fueled luxury good.
Five years ago, the establishment was saying: “Everyone should buy a house. Don’t worry about the price. You’ll earn it all back later. What could go wrong?” We know how that ended.
Today, the establishment says: “Everyone should go to college. Don’t worry about the price. You’ll earn it all back later.” What could go wrong? — Peter Thiel
- Comfortable with Our Stupid Children. Researchers have found that generic American parents, faced with a child who can’t do math or science, will say “Don’t worry, Johnny, because you have so many other talents.” Asian parents, supposedly, will say “Since you aren’t apparently naturally gifted at math or science you’ll have to study extra hard in these areas,” and not stop nagging until the kid is doing well. This evening I encountered a woman talking about her kids. “They’re just not numbers people. I tell them it doesn’t matter if they can’t do math or work with numbers because we’re English and Social Studies people.” — Philip Greenspun
- In the battle of the wits, you come unarmed.
- It’s better to keep your mouth shut and give the impression that you’re stupid than to open it and remove all doubt. — Ranis Belson
- Tragedy is when I cut my little finger. Comedy is when you fall into a sewer and die. —Mel Brooks
- Do or do not. There is no try. — Yoda
- The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails. — William Arthur Ward
- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. — George Bernard Shaw
- Forecasting is hard, particularly when the future is involved. — Yogi Berra
- The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. — Groucho Marx
- Let me get this straight.
The Obama health care plan will be written by a committee whose Chairman says he doesn’t understand it;
Passed by a Congress which hasn’t read it;
Signed by a President who smokes;
Funded by a Treasury Chief who did not pay his taxes;
Overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese;
And financed by a country that is nearly broke.
What could possibly go wrong? — Jeffrey Miron
- Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser. — Donald Trump
- You had me at hello. — Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire
- Ah-ah, I know what you’re thinking punk. You’re thinking, “Did he fire six shots or only five?” And to tell the truth I’ve forgotten myself in all this excitement. But being this is a .44 Magnum — the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself a question— “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do you punk?— Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (Scorpio laughs, gets blown away, and splashes into the lake)
- You Never Get A Second Chance — Another aspect of the Mac OS X user interface that I think has been tremendously influenced by Steve Jobs is the setup and first-run experience. I think Jobs is keenly aware of the importance of first impressions. I think Jobs looks at the first-run experience and thinks, it may only be one-thousandth of a user’s overall experience with the machine, but it’s the most important one thousandth, because it’s the first one-thousandth, and it sets their expectations and initial impression. — John Gruber
- Good artists copy, great artists steal. — Picasso
- And we have always been shameless about stealing good ideas. — Steve Jobs
- One should always aim at being interesting rather than exact. — Tadpole
- A consultant is someone who knows 372 ways to make love, but doesn’t know any girls.
- In the social sciences, if you can measure it, that’s not it.
- The Internet — where the men are men, the women are men, and the 13-year-old girls are FBI agents.
- People who view life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point. — George Carlin
- Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. — Charles R. Swindoll
- Here’s to the crazy ones.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some see them as the crazy ones, We see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
Are the ones who do. — Apple’s “think different” ad
- Well, I’m not gonna quit drinking, I’m not gonna quit smoking, and maybe you’re not the doctor for me. — Frank Sinatra, reminding us that the customer is king.
- Some people learn from their mistakes. I prefer to learn from the mistakes of others.
- Who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; who is still a socialist at age 40 has no brain.
- Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.
- Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.
Stupid and Lazy People
Business and Teams
Computers and the Internet
Lawyers and Law School
As for other people’s sayings:
Dating and Romance
Money and Finance
Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital
Tenacity and Success
Otto von Bismarck has several good sayings:
Henry Kissinger has several good quotes :
- The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.
- I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.
- Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.
- Even a paranoid has some real enemies.
- Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
- Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.
There are some sayings in the software industry that I’m particularly fond of :
- Bad programming is easy. Idiots can learn it in 21 days, even if they are dummies. — Matthias Felleisen et al.
- The Ninety-Ninety Rule — ”The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the time it takes to develop a software product. The remaining 10 percent accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.” — Tom Cargill of Bell Labs
- The first release of Intuit’s QuickBooks was supposed to be a nine-month project. We were correct in estimating that the development project would be the same as a gestation period, but we picked the wrong species: It took almost two-and-a-half years, the gestation period for the elephant. — Ridgely Evers of Intuit.
- How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time. — Fred Brooks
- Add people to a late software project makes it later. — Fred Brooks
- Real artists ship. — Steve Jobs
- You have to revisit anyway — The fact is that everyone has scalability issues, no one can deal with their service going from zero to a few million users without revisiting almost every aspect of their design and architecture. — Dare Obasanjo, Microsoft
- We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.
- Smaller Tasks and Smaller Timelines — Software developers are a special breed of optimist: when presented with a programming task, they think, “That’ll be easy! Won’t take much time at all.” So, give a programmer three weeks to complete a large task, and she’ll spend two and a half procrastinating, and then one programming. The off-schedule result will probably meet the wrong requirements, because the task turned out to be more complex than it seemed. Plus, who can remember what the team agreed upon three weeks ago? Give a programmer an afternoon to code a small, specific module and she’ll crank it out, ready to move onto the next one. Smaller tasks and smaller timelines are more manageable, hide fewer possible requirement misunderstandings, and cost less to change your mind about or redo. Smaller timelines keep developers engaged and give them more opportunities to enjoy a sense of accomplishment and less reason to think, “Oh I’ve got plenty of time to do that. For now, let me finish rating songs in my iTunes library.” — Gina Trapani, web developer and editor of Lifehacker, the productivity and software guide
- If programmers got paid to remove code from sofware instead of writing new code, software would be a whole lot better. — Nicholas Negroponte
- Complexity Does Not Scale Linearly With Size — The most important rule of software engineering is also the least known: Complexity does not scale linearly with size. A 2000 line program requires more than twice as much development time as one half the size. — The Ganssle Group (from Keep It Small)
- The Paradox of Standards — Even though you may assume that rigid standards and flexibility are opposed to each other, sometimes rigid standards at one level of a system promote more freedom and flexibility at other levels of the system. The best example of this is the Internet itself, where the IP protocol is an extremely rigid standard. It is absolutely the same everywhere in the world, anywhere anyone connects to the Internet. It’s particularly because of the rigidity of the definition of that standard that all the other flexibility and all the other decentralization that we associate with the Internet are possible. — Thomas W. Malone, MIT Sloan School of Management
- A partnership agreement with Microsoft is like a Nazi non-aggression pact — it just means you are next. — Charles Ferguson
- The best software is software you never have to write in the first place.
- Computers are like bikinis. They save people a lot of guesswork.
- They have computers, and they may have other weapons of mass destruction. — Janet Reno
- If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside. — Robert X. Cringely
- I’ve noticed lately that the paranoid fear of computers becoming intelligent and taking over the world has almost entirely disappeared from the common culture. Near as I can tell, this coincides with the release of MS-DOS. — Larry DeLuca
- Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window. — Steve Wozniak
- Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves. — Alan Kay
- I’ve finally learned what “upward compatible” means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. — Dennie van Tassel
- Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the “most reliable Windows ever.” To me, this is like saying that asparagus is “the most articulate vegetable ever.” — Dave Barry
- Come to think of it, there are already a million monkeys on a million typewriters, and Usenet is nothing like Shakespeare. — Blair Houghton
- The most amazing achievement of the computer software industry is its continuing cancellation of the steady and staggering gains made by the computer hardware industry. — Henry Petroski
- It has been said that the great scientific disciplines are examples of giants standing on the shoulders of other giants. It has also been said that the software industry is an example of midgets standing on the toes of other midgets. — Alan Cooper
- No matter how slick the demo is in rehearsal, when you do it in front of a live audience, the probability of a flawless presentation is inversely proportional to the number of people watching, raised to the power of the amount of money involved. — Mark Gibbs
- As programmers go, I’m fairly social. Which still means I’m a borderline sociopath by normal standards. — Jeff Atwood
- Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges, and it causes end-user and administrator frustration. — Ray Ozzie
- There’s an old story about the person who wished his computer were as easy to use as his telephone. That wish has come true, since I no longer know how to use my telephone. — Bjarne Stroustrup
- Show a hacker a lock and his first instinct is how to pick it. — Paul Graham
- Computer science education cannot make anybody an expert programmer any more than studying brushes and pigment can make somebody an expert painter. — Eric Raymond
- The best programmers are not marginally better than merely good ones. They are an order-of-magnitude better, measured by whatever standard: conceptual creativity, speed, ingenuity of design, or problem-solving ability. — Randall E. Stross
- A great lathe operator commands several times the wage of an average lathe operator, but a great writer of software code is worth 10,000 times the price of an average software writer. — Bill Gates
- Programming and Mozart’s Requiem — A single good programmer working on a single task has no coordination or communication overhead. Five programmers working on the same task must coordinate and communicate. That takes a lot of time. The real trouble with using a lot of mediocre programmers instead of a couple of good ones is that no matter how long they work, they never produce something as good as what the great programmers can produce. Five Antonio Salieris won’t produce Mozart’s Requiem. Ever. Not if they work for 100 years. …
The mediocre talent just never hits the high notes that the top talent hits all the time. The number of divas who can hit the f6 in Mozart’s Queen of the Night is vanishingly small, and you just can’t perform The Queen of the Night without that famous f6. — Joel Spolsky, Hitting the High Notes
- Q: Where did the names “C” and “C++” come from?
A: They were grades. — Jerry Leichter
- If C gives you enough rope to hand yourself, then C++ gives you enough rope to bind and gag your neighborhood, rig the sails on a small ship, and still have enough rope to handg yourself from the yardarm.
- C++ is to C as lung cancer is to lung.
- The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.— Grace Murray Hopper
- Emacs is a great operating system, lacking only a decent editor. — Advocates of vi, the main competitor to Emacs
- Why does open-source fail to reach critical mass anywhere but the server closet? Easy: because open-source software is, incontrovertibly, a total usability clusterfuck. — Benjamin Pollack
These are some of my favorite sayings about Unix, Linux, X Windows (one of their graphic user interfaces), and Ken Thompson (one of the two initial primary programmers of Unix):
- There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don’t believe this to be a coincidence. — Jeremy S. Anderson
- If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand. — a Unix programmer
- Unix and snowflakes are the only two classes of objects in the universe to which no two instances ever match exactly. — Noel Chiappa
- I think starting one’s computing career with Unix, says as an undergraduate, to being born in East Africa. It is intolerably hot, your body is covered with lice and flies, you are malnourished and you suffer from numerous curable diseases. But, as far as young East Africans can tell, this is simply the natural condition and they live within it. By the time they find out differently, it is too late. They already think that the writing of shell scripts is a natural act. — Ken Pier
- Linux is free only if your time is worthless. — Jamie Zawinski
- Programming X Windows is like trying to find the square root of pi using roman numerals.
- If the designers of X Windows built cars, there would be no fewer than five steering wheels hidden about the cockpit, none of which followed the same principles — but you’d be able to switch gears with your car stereo. Useful feature, that. — Marcus J. Ranum
- Ken Thompson has an automobile which he helped design. Unlike most automobiles, it has neither speedometer, nor gas gauge, nor any of the other numerou idiot lights which plague the modern driver. Rather, if the driver makes a mistake, a giant “?” lights up in the center of the dashboard. “The experienced driver,” says Thompson, “will usually know what’s wrong.”
Donald Knuth had some great quotes:
- The most important thing in the programming language is the name. A language will not succeed without a good name. I have recently invented a very good name and now I am looking for a suitable language.
- The most important thing in the kitchen is the waste paper basket and it needs to be centrally located.
- The manuals we got from IBM would show examples of programs and I knew I could do a heck of a lot better than that. So I thought I might have some talent.
- Premature optimization is the root of all evil.
- The whole thing that makes a mathematician’s life worthwhile is that he gets the grudging admiration of three or four colleagues.
- Programs are meant to be read by humans and only incidentally for computers to execute.
Alan Perlis has collected some good quotes on computers:
- A computer language that doesn’t affect the way you think about programming, is not worth knowing.
- Optimization hinders evolution.
- There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works.
- Whenever two programmers meet to criticize their programs, both are silent.
William F. Buckley, Jr. had some great quotes, as does Alex Kozinski. Last but certainly not least, Winston Churchill has some of the greatest quotes in the history of the English language.