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Some quotes I like

A lot of people collect quotes that sound like they were said by very courageous people, or people worthy of respect for some other trait, but the actions of these courageous talkers often don't match up to their great words. This is particularly true of quotes by ex-presidents, whose actions have been only very selectively remembered. I've tried to avoid quotes from such people.

  1. Various Artists
  2. Leonard Cohen
  3. Eben Moglen
  4. Richard Stallman

(top)

Various Artists

Corporations pumping all this money into pop
To keep the real singers far away from the top
So folks are never told what these corporations do
Fucking up the planet, exploiting me and you."
Damien Dempsey, from the song Patience.

"Berlusconi the pacifist? ... He wants the wine bottle full, the wife drunk, and the money in his wallet."
-Marco Rizzo, Italian MEP, commenting on Silvio Berlusconi's late attempts to claim he was always against the USA's invasion of Iraq.

"This obsession people seem to have with democracy is silly. Do doctors and nurses in the operating room vote on how to proceed with an operation? Should pilots ask for a vote on how to land a plane?"
-a comment attached to a Slashdot story with an unnecessarily provocative title "GPL 3.0 Rewrite Drive Is No Democracy"

"All that for that"
-Mark MacGann, pro-software-patent campaigner. Overheard in the audience of the press conference announcing that the European Parliament had rejected the Software Patents directive. It was years of work. I guess mega corporations aren't used to not winning.

"There are much better ways to open a discussion than throwing a brick through the window."
-Danny Thorpe, about people complaining on Slashdot before contacting the person causing their problem

Mlk: "Emacs can work as a text editor? How do I enable that feature?"
DShard: "ctrl-meta-c k meta-p 1 1 ctrl-v shake it all about, you do the hockey pokey and turn yourself around. AFAIK that's what it's all about"
-slashdot conversation

"Using marketing as a justification of cost always makes me laugh: "Our product costs you a lot because it costs us a lot to persuade you to buy it""
-anonymous post to NewsForge

"For if a thing is not diminished by being shared with others, it is not rightly owned if it is only owned and not shared"
-Aurelius Augustinus (354-430)

"Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose."
-Unknown

"[Charlie] McCreevy is a right winger who believes in incentives - tax breaks and hand outs for the wealthy and a kick in arse for the poor."
-Proinsias De Rossa

"There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship."
-Ralph Nader

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."
-George Bernard Shaw

"I trust Stallman. I don't like his haircut but what under it is OK."
-Per Funk, a comment made in signing Bruce Perens' boycott-Novell letter.

"I felt like putting a bullet in the eye of every panda that wouldn't screw to save its species."
-Fight Club

"I would simply suggest that you ask those who tell you about the wonders of "theory" and "philosophy" to justify their claims -- to do what people in physics, math, biology, linguistics, and other fields are happy to do when someone asks them, seriously, what are the principles of their theories, on what evidence are they based, what do they explain that wasn't already obvious, etc. These are fair requests for anyone to make. If they can't be met, then I'd suggest recourse to Hume's advice in similar circumstances: to the flames."
Chomsky on Postmodernism

Chomsky, responding to why he strongly criticises pretentious intellectuals and the New York Times, but gives little time to the former and a lot to the latter:
"What appears in the work I do address (NYT, journals of opinion, much of scholarship, etc.) is simply written in intelligible prose and has a great impact on the world, establishing the doctrinal framework within which thought and expression are supposed to be contained, and largely are, in successful doctrinal systems such as ours. That has a huge impact on what happens to suffering people throughout the world, the ones who concern me [...]. So this work should be dealt with seriously, at least if one cares about ordinary people and their problems."
Chomsky on Postmodernism


(top)

Leonard Cohen

"There's a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in."
From his song, Anthem.

I don't have the exact quote, but I remember reading an interview where he said he doesn't explain the meanings of his songs because, when he writes them, they have a meaning to him, but once he publishes them, the listeners give them their own meanings and he doesn't have the right to say that they're wrong.

"I don't consider myself a pessimist at all. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel completely soaked to the skin."
Daily Telegraph interview, 1993


(top)

Eben Moglen

"When everyone can possess every intellectual work of beauty and utility - reaping all the human value of it, every increase of knowledge - at the same cost that any one person can possess them, it is no longer moral to exclude."

"If you're a capitalist and you have the best goods and they're free, you don't have to proselytize, you just have to wait."

"Everybody is connected to everybody else, all data that can be shared will be shared: get used to it."

"The patent law is inherently contradictory. When somebody says ``I am a free market capitalist, and that is why I believe in the free patent law'' - that is to say that government should decide what is a good idea, should decide who had the idea, and that for 20 years no one else is allowed to use the idea unless they pay for it."

"Without hydraulic despotism and the divine right kingship of the pharaoh, we will underproduce pyramids. Now, we've been underproducing pyramids for three thousand years, and pyramids are beautiful but it isn't hurting us."

"The process of excluding people now has competition: it's called including people; and including people works better."

"it was never about 'open', it's about 'free'"


(top)

Richard Stallman

"Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won't leave you alone."

"If you make decisions about software - or anything - based solely on short-term cost and benefit, someone with a longer view can easily manoeuver you into a trap from which it is hard to escape."

"Democracy does not mean elections. Elections are part of the method, but they are not the point. The point of democracy is that the many non-rich unite to be stronger than the rich. The US doesn't do this, which means democracy is sick." (This applies to most countries today, not just the US.)

"In most cases, the user of proprietary software is expected to promise not to share with anyone else. It's wrong to make that agreement, wrong to keep it if you have made it, and especially wrong to lure someone else into making such a promise."

"Well, I hope they like symbolism, 'cause they won't get any substance!"
[on hearing that G. W. Bush had announced Iraqi's would be paid to demolish Abu Ghraib prison.]

"Sometimes, if you push too hard, you end up pushing yourself back instead of hurting your adversary."
(On how much version 3 of the GPL can do to fight software patents.)

"Injustice is happening now; suffering is happening now. We have choices to make now. To insist on absolute certainty before starting to apply ethics to life decisions is a way of choosing to be amoral."

"The awareness that I have had some success in campaigning for freedom is the greatest reward I can imagine having in life." -from a discussion on Questions please...

"By appealing to economic efficiency as if it were more important than fairness, the article endorses the idea that economic efficiency is more important than fairness." -pointing out a tactical mistake that campaigners for justice often make. Jan 2010.
Stallman later added that it's a bad bargain because you'll get the attention of people who only value economic efficiency, but for everyone else, you'll have endorsed the supposition that economic efficiency is what everyone worships and must worship.

"Our society encourages people, when they think about using software, to consider it from a short term, superficial point of view. People are encouraged to ask: is it convenient? is it reliable? is it efficient? And not to ask: if I use this program, what will it do to my way of life? what will it do to my freedom? what will it do to my community? The free software movement is concerned with these deeper issues." (Opening lines of a talk given in France in the 2nd half of 2009.)

"This is the free software movement. The idea that we should avoid mentioning "free software" is always unacceptable; no matter what reasons might be offered, they are not good enough."
(I think I found this on the emacs-devel list, but my searching doesn't find it)

"That's what happens when you use the enemy's propaganda terms: you start making foolish concessions."
(Discussing a well-intentioned petition, the authors of which denied being "crypto-pirates looking to steal digital content" - there's no reason to concede that sharing is "stealing" or that the people who do it are "pirates")

"The purpose of the jury is to stop the state from imprisoning people for "crimes" that the public does not consider wrong. If you are on a jury when a peaceful protester is tried, always vote "Not guilty"."
On the Obama administration prosecuting protesters

"Apple exploits the app developers mercilessly, aside from a few stars whose role is to give a misleading impression of what developers can expect. I can't sympathize much with those app developers, since they are making proprietary software. They all deserve to fail. However, that doesn't excuse the way Apple treats them."
24 April 2013


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