Heinlein quote

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I think this is a great quote and describes the perfect post 2k human:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Robert Heinlein

-- R. D..Herring (drherr@erols.com), October 31, 1998


Hmm... What about "grow and harvest non-hybrid crops...?"

-- Mike (gartner@execpc.com), October 31, 1998.

From "Time Enough for Love" if I remember correctly, wherein there is also a good list for what one might want if one believes in teh reverting to, oh, say the 1850's. It's what is packed in the wagon.


-- Chuck da Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), November 01, 1998.

Good quote; one of my favorites. Here's another from Heinlein -- that helps me weather the little storms on this list and others:

"I have great confidence in Man, based on his past record. He is mean, ornery, cantankerous, illogical, emotional -- and amazingly hard to kill. Religious leaders have faith in the spiritual redemption of Man; humanist leaders subscribe to a belief in the perfectability of Man through his own efforts; but I am not discussing either of these two viewpoints.

"My confidence in our species lies in it past history and is founded quite as much on Man's so-called vices as on his so-called virtues. When the chips are down, quarrelsomeness and selfishness can be as useful to the survival of the human race as is altruism, and pig-headedness can be a trait superior to sweet reasonableness. If this were not true, these 'vices' would have dies out through the early deaths of their hosts, at least half a million years back.

"I have a deep and abiding confidence in Man as he is, imperfect and often unlovable -- plus still greater confidence in his potential. No matter how tough things are, Man copes. He comes up with adequate answers from illogical reasons. But the answers work."

-- Anita Evangelista (ale@townsqr.com), November 01, 1998.

From "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long" by Robert Heinlein:

"Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament--it is possible to be both. How? By never taking an unnecessary chance and by minimizing risks you can't avoid. This permits you to play out the game happily, untroubled by the certainty of the outcome."

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 01, 1998.

"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite."

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 01, 1998.

I'm not feeling real quotey today RD - just thought it was worth pointing out that Heinlein never wrote a story about the US military taking over - but several that involved takeovers by fanatic religous organizations.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), November 03, 1998.

Paul - re-read Starship Troopers; the original, not Hollywood's falsehood. Also, Glory Road - to show a slightly different view towards tolerance.

To those in general who rant against the religious "fanatics" - I would include the absolute raving hysterical hypocritical fears of the liberals and Democrats as evidence of their "religion" = "when I believe something and attack you (pouring urine over a crucifix) it is freedom, but when you believe (and live) something, it is "fanaticism" and intolerance.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 03, 1998.

This one is for Sir Richard of Dale and other such :

"A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits."

And for the rest of us:

"Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet you can't win."

"A generation which ignores history has no past and no future."

"No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: 'Come back with your shield, or on it.' Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome."

And finally:

"What are the facts? Again and again and again--what are the FACTS? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what 'the stars foretell,' avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable 'verdict of history'-- what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!"

All from" the Notebooks of Lazarus Long"

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 03, 1998.

Robert...great statement! At last another person that understand that "religion" is anything that provides a person with community...transcendance, worldview...hence..anything can be a religion....

This statement, Robert. Pristene!

****To those in general who rant against the religious "fanatics" - I would include the absolute raving hysterical hypocritical fears of the liberals and Democrats as evidence of their "religion" *******

Be aware of where passion leads...Aldous Huxley said that Faith is necessary...Belief, on the other hand, is the ruination of humanity.

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 03, 1998.

AAAARRRRGGHHH !!!!!! Now I feel better.

Robert, you have just restated the most common misconception about Starship Troopers - one that Heinlein hated and spent some time fighting, and is still very common. Granted, the story is told from the point of view of a military man - from a raw recruit who is not sure why he joined up to the end where he has become a Lieutenant - and therefore reflects (shucks it glorifies) the military viewpoint, it is made very clear in the first 50 pages that this is NOT a military dictatorship, they have no draft, the military is not the final arbiter on any issue except military issues and so on. The voters franchise does NOT require military service - it requires GOVERNMENT service - over 90% of which does not involve military matters in any way. The govt. in question was founded by ex military men returning home to find their former govt. has collapsed - a fairly standard way for a new govt. to get started. About the only support for the military dictatorship arguement would come from the fact that certain civilian jobs were reserved for former govt. service men and women - mostly police and such. That is not much of an arguement. The real vitrol that is spewed towards this book seems to come largely from the idea that something should be required of a voter other than just having a body temp near 98.6. BTW - any person in the military could resign on a moments notice and that was that - except while actually in combat. You could literally walk up to your capsule, start to get in, and get the shakes so badly you could not go through with it and resign - and that was that. Sounded a lot better to me than our military system - but I am not certain it would really work out well in practice. Oh, another BTW - at one point it is explained that while some planets have as high as 76% franchised voters, Earth has only 4%. They strongly felt that if the citizens and taxpayers (yes you had to pay taxes whether you were franchised or not) did not want to protect their govt. voluntarily - then the govt. should cease to exist and hopefully something better would come along. The movie let a little of this come through - not much.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), November 05, 1998.

Sorry if that sounds a bit emotional - I have spent about 25 years argueing with people about Starship Troopers - and can quote largish chunks by heart.

About religon - I don't really care what anyone chooses to believe - if you want to dance naked under the full moon just do it in your own backyard and you will never hear from me about it. Now when you try to pass laws requiring me to dance under the full moon, or to close my place of business when there is a full moon - or to require me to let you dance in my backyard - I will fight that - and I will then call you a fanatic.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), November 05, 1998.

This one is for Sir Richard of Dale and other such : "A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits."

Just noticed this! hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I like the first two words. My nasty habits are no worse than yours so there! Anyway you only said "may".

-- Richard Dale (rdale@figroup.co.uk), November 05, 1998.

Every socialist (liberal) I've met doesn't like having their beliefs challenged. They regard socialism as their religion. Defeated Neil Kinnock (Lab) in 1992 called the Tories "evil". (Grey) John Major was in contrast gracious in defeat. Tony Blair is drunk with (religious) power. Usually I can crush socialist arguments by pure logic, they don't like that. You only have to see the results of socialism on a small scale in W Europe, on a monumental scale in E Europe.

-- Richard Dale (rdale@figroup.co.uk), November 05, 1998.

You're all welcome to become Rickologists you will eventually make me very rich and come out brainwashed by constant repetition of limericks whilst strapped to an ECG machine being adminstered mild electric shocks. Diane can be my "no" man (Mel Brooks joke).

-- Richard Dale (rdale@figroup.co.uk), November 05, 1998.

But Paul, I was pointing out the requirement for military service (I'll re-look tonight about government service - remember the "civilian sailors who had no vote because they were not "navy", got in a fight in Seattle after Camp Cory (Corrie?) during the advanced training in the BC) started from the "group of vet's" who survived the surface wars at the end of 20th century. So wasn't the most criteria developed in the H&M class and the officer classes and the officer closeout interview was that only the vet's had that "attitude" of shared community or community service and sacrifice for the greater good?

Doesn't that meet your critieria that he "wasn't" crtical of military service? Or perhaps, that he was critical of slackness in the civilian life.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 05, 1998.

From previous post ...

***This one is for Sir Richard of Dale and other such : "A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits."

Just noticed this! hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I like the first two words. My nasty habits are no worse than yours so there! Anyway you only said "may". ***********

I shouldhave written: For Sir Richard of Dale, Me, and others...

A thousand pardons Sir Richard! I've poked fun at poets, like me before in verse...first few words from one such: "From genus irritabile vatum I have come, from the irritable race of poets,..."

You know the old saying? One person's nasty habits become some politician's cause to write another stupid law.

Grumbling and scribbling,...

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 05, 1998.

Donna Ok no need to apologise, yes its the insomnia that makes me irritable! I don't really mind what people say, I'm quite balanced in my view (libra rising). Yes Diane I believe in that astrology stuff, to everyone else no not really. Donna can't find any (more) rhymes for your names, but I have to use up the rest of the other 69 that rhyme with Diane (tee hee). See I do have a lighter side.

-- Richard Dale (rdale@figroup.co.uk), November 05, 1998.

The sailors were merchant marine - which was not considered govt. service. They worked for shipping companies. Since history prior to the formation of the SST govt. had examples of times when merchant marine was considered as govt. service - they had some bitterness for the govt. service people - esp. military service people - due to the fact they were not 'now' considered as equivalent to govt. service and thus able to both earn a living at what they wanted to do and acquire the franchise at the same time.

But govt. service could be anything from being a clerk pushing papers to -- well the doctor at Rico's physical stated that they were not allowed to turn away anyone for physical problems - the physical was only to determine what you were capable of doing. He gave as an example that if a person who was totally handicapped wanted to vote and showed up they would create a job for him to perform for the next two years - counting the fuzz on a caterpillar by touch or something equally silly.

Other govt. service jobs included terraforming Venus and Mars, general administrative and clerical work, road work and so on. Any job performed by a govt. was done by volunteers who wanted to vote - until the govt. ran out of volunteers. Then they hired non govt. contractors.

Some of the confusion is probably due to the fact that govt. volunteers were all under strict discipline, and were not paid much. It was more or less go where you are told to go and do what you are told to do. And you could not vote until you had finished your term of service. But a clerk in the road dept. is not in the military. Most govt. service people were not in the military. Now the only detailed example is of a guy in the Cap Troopers - Mr. Rico himself. But he is the protaganist of the story and his experiences will, of course, dominate.

It was an unusual governmental system, certainly, though closer to modern experience than the socio/economic system in Beyond this Horizon. But it was not a case of the military ruling over the civilian govt.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), November 05, 1998.

From Jim Morrison:

The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), November 06, 1998.

Here's one that may be Heinlein, even though it's known in the Hacker's Dictionary as "Hanlon's Razor" (possibly through phonetic corruption):

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

One of my faves - I often quote this when folks start trotting out conspiracy theories.

Paul - Good job with the SST exegesis! Heinlein reportedly cranked out SST in a fury at some of Eisenhower's decisions re US military readiness, and the passion is clear on every page. I gave my son a copy a couple of years ago (he's now 12) and he's read it with pleasure two or three times. I rented that politically-correct "hack job" of a film a few weeks ago, watched it once, will never watch it again. I suspect that RAH would have beaten Verhoeven about the head and shoulders with his cane. Rumor is that Verhoeven wants to make SST2 (adding power suits). Hope the studios send it to Development Purgatory and it never sees the light of day...

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.com), November 06, 1998.

SST the Movie can only be discussed in light of its absolute corruption of SST the Book. For decades Heinlein and his supporters (chief among them Spider Robinson of Callahan's fame) fought off the fascist labeling that came from those who felt uncomfortable with SST's assumption that the franchise maybe should have a price. (And note, members of the military in SST could vote only after they left the service.) Heinlein offered a lot of provocative ideas, as any good sf author does. And a lot of them make a lot more sense than current reality does.

-- RAH fan (heinlein@was.right), November 06, 1998.

Good Heinlein quotes here, but my favorite is still "There's nothing less common than sense."

-- Buddy Y. (DC) (buddy@bellatlantic.net), November 06, 1998.

Editor's Note: (the editor is Virginia Heinlein)

One morning in early April, I fetched the newspaper down to read along with breakfast, in my usual fashion. Robert was still sleeping, and there were standing orders never to disturb him until he woke up. But this day was different.

There was a full page ad by the SANE people, signed by a number of local people we knew. . .I flew in the face of the standing orders, and woke Robert up. "What are we going to do about this?" I asked.

I fixed him breakfast and he read the ad while he ate.

There was no discussion about what we would do. Robert sat down at his typewriter and wrote an answer. When he was finsished, I read the full-page answer and suggested that he rewrite it, using the same ideas he had used, but not mentioning the opposition. He did that, and the ad is reprinted in Expanded Universe.

Colorado Springs had two daily papers, one morning and one afternoon. We took the ad to the latter, paid for a full-page ad, and later went to the other and also took another full-page for our ad.

These ads caused a sensation. The telephone kept ringing, the mail was filled with a few pledges, and one or two contained checks to help the cause. We ordered extra copies of the page and sent them out to our mailing list, which was not very large at that time.

With the assistance of a wet paper copier, I made copies and sent the originals to the President, registered, return receipt requested. I strung up a drying line in the kitchen and suspended the copies to dry. For weeks the kitchen was difficult to get around in.

Some people took an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle and sent us a copy. A few more pledges came in.

I sat down and did some figuring. Not counting the time we both put into the project, it cost us $5 each to send those pledges to the President. Our backfire had failed, and we never heard a word from President Eisenhower.

The President then signed an executive order suspending all testing without requiring mutual inspection.

Robert had been working on The Man from Mars [Stranger in a Strange Land]. He set that aside and started a new book--Starship Troopers. Both books were directly affected by this try at political action--Starship Troopers most directly, and The Man from Mars somewhat less directly. The two were written in succession; they are quite different stories from what Robert might have writen otherwise.

(Robert's version of this can be found on pages 386 to 396 of Expanded Universe.)

April 26, 1958: Robert A Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I don't know when I'll get any more fiction written--maybe never. This effort is taking up all of our time. On the other hand, we are spending money on it even faster than we spend money in traveling, so I may be flat broke soon and forced to go back to cash work.

But I refuse to worry about the personal aspects of the future. I am convinced in my own mind that the United States is washed up and we will cease to exist inside of five to fifteen years--unless we quickly and drastically pull up our socks, both at home and in foreign policy. This opinion has been growing in my mind for years; I was simply triggered into doing something about it by this pacifist-internationalist-cum-clandestine Communist drive to have us treat atomics and disarmament in exactly the fashion the Kremlin has tried to get us to do for the past twelve years.

I wish some of those starry-eyed internationalists would go take a look at the illiterate, unwashed uncivilized billions whose noses they want to count in a "world state"! And also explain to me how you get a world state of "peace with justice" while dictators, both Red and garden variety, control the "votes" of a billion and a half out of two and a half. Somebody ought to tell them that "politics is the art of the practical." Me, maybe.

GRUMBLES FROM THE GRAVE, BY ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, Edited by Virginia Heinlein, Copyright 1989 by the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Trust, UDT 20 June 1983, pp. 208-210

-- Hardliner (searcher@internet.com), November 06, 1998.

You would probably like my collection Hardliner, I have all Heinlein's adult work except Expanded Universe - people keep stealing my copies. I have also managed to collect almost all published SF worthy of the name that came out prior to 1960 - which required a lot of prowling around 2nd hand bookstores. After 1960, of course, the field exploded, and no one could collect everything.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), November 06, 1998.


Undoubtedly, I would stare and salivate, particularly since my own collection, such as it is/was has been scattered to the far corners of the planet (quite literally) by a life that even I have trouble believing belongs to me.

I suspect that you, and most folks here already know it, but I'm going to say it anyway.

Everything I have seen in this life has been postulated, predicted, described or proposed in an SF work, pretty nearly just as it eventually came to pass.

The reverse is not true, that is, not everything predicted has come about, yet SF writers, as a group, have the best track record at prophecy of any group I know.

As Spock might say, it would be fascinating to examine the accuracy of the conclusions of this group (forum posters) and correlate them with the population of SF readers among us.

-- Hardliner (searcher@internet.com), November 07, 1998.

And another:

"The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: "Of course it is none of my business but ---" is to place a period after the word "but." Don't use excessive force in supplying such moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about."

From The Notebooks of Lazarus Long


-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 07, 1998.

Hardliner - not true.

No one predicted live TV broadcasts of the first landering on the moon, and no predicted the 'serial" type impacts of the comets into Jupiter being bradcast internationally into the something into the Web.

Quibbling points, but what the heck. Remember the sequence of "new" gladiator and 'commercial warfare" stories in ASF in the mid/late sixties - that so the gradualism and creeping acceptance we see now?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 07, 1998.

Let's try that again - with my fingers in the right place this time:

No one predicted live TV broadcasts of the first landing on the moon, and no predicted the row 'serial" type impacts of a comet into Jupiter being broadcast internationally into the whole world via an international equivilent of the Web.

Quibbling points, but what the heck. Remember the sequence of "new" gladiator and 'commercial warfare" stories in ASF in the mid/late sixties - that resemble so much resemble the gradualism and creeping acceptance of murder for entertainment we see now?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 07, 1998.


No need to quibble--we are in violent agreement. I should have been more precise in my wording. I did not mean to say that every event had been predicted, only major change, trends, technologies, etc. (I know, imprecise again, BWTH). I do remember Twilight Zone episodes where a spacecraft crew communicated visually with the Earth (don't remember if they were pre or post moon landing) and I think the "Lensmen" communicated visually on occasion. I also remember a number of SF works that postulated the Web or something very like it (remember the "pick a partner" net or web in Logan's Run?).

As to ASF, indeed! I would treasure the perspective of John (was it W.?) Campbell on Y2K! I can easily fantasize a critical discussion between him, Asimov, Heinlein and Roddenberry. Wouldn't you just like to be a fly on the wall at that skull session?!!

-- Hardliner (searcher@internet.com), November 08, 1998.

One of my very favorite sf books is 'The Stone That Never Came Down', by John Brunner. The web is an underpinning theme in the book.

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), November 08, 1998.

Ooops! It was 'The Shockwave Rider', not 'The Stone That Never Came Down'. Another net book by Brunner is 'The Jagged Orbit' - if I remember correctly, it's a bit new-age, too. Diane, you might enjoy it.

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), November 08, 1998.

Add Harlan Ellison to that session, and you've gotten my attention for sure, Hardliner.

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), November 10, 1998.


Maybe I haven't kept up, but I thought Harlan Ellison was still alive. I agree that he'd be a good addition, but he might not like us bumping him off just to hear what he's got to say!

-- Hardliner (searcher@internet.com), November 11, 1998.

A Classic Thread.

-- Expanding the imagination (reading@roll.over), June 01, 1999.

Re-read Expanded Universe (collection of Heinlein short stories and essays) last week. Recommended.

There's also a current forum thread started by Cory Hamasaki which references The Year of the Jackpot, but doesn't credit Heinlein as the author. Potiphar Breen does the math on "The Crazy Years" and realizes that very, very bad things are about to happen...

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), June 01, 1999.

The good Doctor wished but to live to see the turn of the century. It is sad that he did not. He would have contributed much to our interactions of it. And he would have done it all in pun.

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), June 02, 1999.

I have suspected for some time that Robert Heinlein would be getting a chuckle out Y2K. Yet another example of most people's inability to see past the end of their noses.

-- Jon Williamson (pssomerville@sprintmail.com), June 02, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ