Quote Unquote

I always meant to post these. For my first few years of email use, way back in the paleolithic era, I was one of those people whose signatures sported amusing quotations, jokes, and other snippets. It was a way of saying a bit about yourself, your likes and dislikes and your sense of humour, in the days before we had websites to do all of that. Sometime around the end of 1998 this must have started seeming a bit naff, because I stopped doing it. (I also used to mail around stories and links to my circle of friends, and stopped doing that around the same time.)

Fortunately, we now have blogs to hold all that guff, where our circle of friends can safely ignore it. (Last November one of my old friends—old, old, since-Grade-5 old—said he never looked at my site these days, because I seemed to be writing for other people. I was sorry to hear that. I just write about whatever’s on my mind at any one moment, in the hope that different bits of it will appeal to different people because all of it appeals to at least one person. That makes me the “other people”, I guess. But the same guy he knew for all those years is still in there somewhere. Maybe if I waxed a bit more nostalgic a bit more often I wouldn’t seem so “other”, but I don’t want to seem like an old man trapped in the past when I’m barely halfway there. Onward, ever onward.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, about to dredge up some stuff from the past. Here they are, then: all my email sigs from 1994 to 1998, in order of appearance. Yes, I kept the whole lot in a text file, because I knew that one day I’d be looking for an extra post to pad out my six-year-old weblog. Also, because I liked them.

People, professions, and artifacts all have roots that continue to feed their greenest shoots. Henry Petroski, The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance.

What do we want? PROCRASTINATION! When do we want it? NEXT WEEK!

Bread is a large number of small holes entirely surrounded by bread. Lennie Lower.

In the social sciences, ... articles that have titles with colons have a higher acceptance rate than those without colons. The Australian, 5 April 1995, p. 30.

“I’m not infatuated with the idea of crawling about this jungle at night,” remarked Ginger, “I’m thinking about that leopard.” Biggles smiled. “I’m afraid we’ll have to take a chance with Mr. Spots.” Biggles Takes the Case by Captain W.E. Johns.

The North Atlantic sperm whale grows up to 100 feet—which it uses to walk across the sea-bed like a giant centipede. Alexei Sayle’s Stuff, Series 1, Episode 3.

What do you get if you cross a Mafia boss with a post-modernist? An offer you can’t understand. Column 8, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 May 1995.

The double gilt of this opportunity you let time wash off, and you are now sailed into the north of my lady’s opinion; where you will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman’s beard, unless you do redeem it by some laudable attempt... William Shakespeare, Twelfth-Night, Act 3, Scene 2.

If you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped it from a height, what would happen? Thinking Spot, Woroni [ANU student paper], 31 August 1995.

Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations? Thinking Spot, Woroni, 31 August 1995.

Philosophers are people who know less and less about more and more, until they know nothing about everything. Scientists are people who know more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing. Anon.

[On 9 February 1971 in California,] one newspaper reported that a welfare recipient, accused of wasting money on a colour TV set, replied, “But I didn’t want my children to grow up not knowing what colour was.” Edmund Carpenter, Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me! Paladin, 1976, pp. 12-13.

Later, in bed, she puts her head on his shoulder and in a very small voice apologizes.... He puts his arms round her, and insists that he was partly to blame as well.... Meltingly they eat at each other, like two carnivorous ice-creams. Michael Frayn, Sweet Dreams.

In the early Sixties, we invited a Nigerian college student to have Christmas dinner with us. During the tabletalk I asked him, “What about the United States turned out to be most different from your expectations after you had arrived here?” [He] thought for a moment and then ... said quite seriously, “I had expected there would be more of a cowboy problem.” Roger Rollin, On Comparative Popular Culture, American Style.

While it is strictly true that the new millennium does not begin until January 1, 2001 ... I think most people who insist on this strictness are, among other things, going to miss some pretty fabulous parties on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Mark Kingwell, Dreams of Millennium: Report from a Culture on the Brink.

I suppose if you’re a dog and are used to watching humans zooming around at high speed in metal boxes, staring at large sheets of paper at breakfast-time and breathing in smoke from short white tubes, then nothing the species does has the power to surprise you. Stephen Fry, The Hippopotamus.

irony, n., pl. -nies. 1. a figure of speech or literary device in which the literal meaning is the opposite of that intended, esp., as in the Greek sense, when the locution understates the effect intended, employed in ridicule or merely playfully. The Macquarie Dictionary.

Daniel’s... has the oddest assortment of things on sale: knicker elastic and collar snaps,... racks of clothing for very old people, a modest few rolls of carpet with the sort of patterns you get when you rub your eyes too hard... Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island.

Everything in contemporary society discourages interiority. More and more of our exchanges take place via circuits, and in their very nature those interactions are such as to keep us hovering in the virtual now, a place away from ourselves. Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age.

What’s the difference between Noah’s Ark and Joan of Arc? Noah’s Ark was made of wood and Joan of Arc was maid of Orleans.

It always seems to me that .sigs fall into [a few] camps. There are the “deep and meaningful” ones... and the “intelligent and witty” ones,... both of which are obviously intended to confer, by association, similar attributes to the poster. Gareth Randall, on Amarok [mailing list], 26.1.1997.

I know everything hasn’t been quite right with me. I feel much better now, I really do. Look, Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. HAL, in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Bisato sull’ara ... turned out to be stewed eels on polenta. ... I was less than enthusiastic when the dish arrived, since I’d had baked eels the night before. ... My friend couldn’t resist singing “Eel meat again, don’t know where, don’t know when”. David Dale, The Obsessive Traveller.

Great B-Grade Movie Lines of Our Time, No. 47: He was a sixty-year-old scientist who only ever did good, and they put a bag over his head. Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction.

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realise the truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. Pablo Picasso, quoted in Benjamin Woolley, Virtual Worlds: A Journey in Hype and Hyperreality.

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And, at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some things I can’t remember, all rolled into one big “thing”. This is truth, to me. Jack Handey.

How will games progress as 30somethings turn into 50somethings? (“Cardigan: The Adventure”) Douglas Coupland, Microserfs.

If you ever have a free moment, you might consider checking out the travel brochures for the town in which you live. You might be amazed. You might not want to live there any more. Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet.

Jerry Seinfeld on Australia: “I love your flag. Britain at night.”

Alison Elliot on teaching online: “Students don’t want to be a lost sock in the vast laundromat of cyberspace.”

Did you hear about the dyslexic devil worshipper? He sold his soul to Santa.

Technology will only make bad teaching worse—or make it available to a lot more people. Tony Bates, UBC.

The less people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they will sleep at night. Otto von Bismark.

11 June 2006 · Whatever

'Gin ye drap a jeely piece, it aye fa's jeely side doon.

This is not a response to no.9, but an attempt, in 1998, to baffle my fellow students. It replaced "The cow is of the bovine ilk: one end is moo, the other milk (O. Nash)".

They were the only subject-lines I ever had (I only started using e-mail in about 1998 so you're probably correct about the end-date for this form of valediction). I rather mourn the passing of e-mails with cool stuff in them, though. For a brief period we used to e-mail each other scanned illustrations from children's books.

Added by K on 29 June 2006.

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