Featherless Biped - the home of The Killing Of Witches and Halloween Myths Monsters and Devils

the wit and wisdom of Robert A. Heinlein

  1. Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.
  2. An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
  3. Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss.
  4. By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity.
  5. Don't ever become a pessimist .... a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.
  6. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
  7. Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.
  8. For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization.
  9. I never learned from a man who agreed with me.
  10. It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.
  11. It's an indulgence to sit in a room and discuss your beliefs as if they were a juicy piece of gossip.
  12. Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.
  13. Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do.
  14. No statement should be believed because it is made by an authority.
  15. There is only one way to console a widow. But remember the risk.
  16. Your enemy is never a villain in his own eye. Keep this in mind, it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate -- and quickly.
  17. Sex without love is merely healthy exercise.
  18. One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others.
  19. Of all the strange 'crimes' that human beings have legislated of nothing, 'blasphemy' is the most amazing - with 'obscenity' and 'indecent exposure' fighting it out for the second and third place.
  20. 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.
  21. Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
  22. Never insult anyone by accident.
  23. May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live.
  24. 'Love' is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own... Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.
  25. I don't see how an article of clothing can be indecent. A person, yes.
  26. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
  27. Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
  28. A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill.
  29. A long and wicked life followed by five minutes of perfect grace gets you into Heaven. An equally long life of decent living and good works followed by one outburst of taking the name of the Lord in vain - then have a heart attack at that moment and be damned for eternity. Is that the system?
  30. A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
  31. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.
  32. One man's 'magic' is another man's engineering. 'Supernatural' is a null word.
  33. Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
  34. Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other 'sins' are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful - just stupid).
  35. The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship.
  36. The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.
  37. Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.
  38. There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized or even cured. the only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private and where food can be poked in to him with a stick.
  39. They didn't want it good, they wanted it Wednesday.
  40. To be matter-of-fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy - and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful.
  41. When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it makes it possible to go elsewhere.
  42. If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science, it is opinion.
  43. It has long been known that one horse can run faster than another--but which one? Differences are crucial.
  44. By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man--man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has no enemy to help him.
  45. Men are more sentimental than women. It blurs their thinking.
  46. Always store beer in a dark place.
  47. You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
  48. Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect.
  49. Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.
  50. Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.
  51. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.
  52. Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
  53. Yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again.
  54. Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet you can't win.
  55. A fake fortuneteller can be tolerated. But an authentic soothsayer should be shot on sight. Cassandra did not get half the kicking around she deserved.
  56. Most 'scientists' are bottle washers and button sorters.
  57. If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people.
  58. A motion to adjourn is always in order.
  59. Of all the strange 'crimes' that human beings have legislated out of nothing, 'blasphemy' is the most amazing--with 'obscenity' and 'indecent exposure' fighting it out for second and third place.
  60. There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know--so why fret about it?
  61. Cheops' Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
  62. It is better to copulate than never.
  63. All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can--and must--be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a 'perfect society' on any foundation other than 'Women and children first!' is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly -- and no doubt will keep on trying.
  64. All men are created unequal.
  65. Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well.
  66. A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.
  67. Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, intelligence, goodness et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.
  68. It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier.
  69. One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
  70. Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys, it's more sanitary.
  71. Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
  72. Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.
  73. Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry. N.B.: Circumstances can force your hand. So think ahead!
  74. A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.
  75. 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!
  76. There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.
  77. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.
  78. The most noble fate a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and the war's desolation.
  79. That old saw about 'to understand all is to forgive all' is a lot of tripe. Some things, the more you understand them, the more you loathe them.
  80. Morals - all correct moral laws - derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.
  81. Correct morality can only be derived from what man is - not from what do-gooders and well-meaning aunt Nellies would like him to be.
  82. 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.
  83. Anything that is moral for a group to do is moral for one person to do.
  84. A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.
  85. A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an 'intellectual' - find out how he feels about astrology.
  86. A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.
  87. A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.
  88. History does not record anywhere a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
  89. Death is the lot of all of us and the only way the human race has ever conquered death is by treating it with contempt.
  90. Rules serve best when broken.
  91. Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.
  92. I don't trust a man who talks about ethics when he is picking my pocket. But if he is acting in his own self-interest and says so, I have usually been able to work out some way to do business with him.
  93. The plural of spouse is spice.
  94. Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks!
  95. I hate Communism most for its cold-blooded murder of the truth! Pravda doesn’t mean truth. Pravda means whatever serves the world Communist revolution.
  96. The meek shall inherit the earth, a foot plot above them.
  97. Goodness without wisdom always accomplished evil.
  98. You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.
  99. Most women are damn fools and children. But they've got more range than we've got. The brave ones are braver, the good ones are better - and the vile ones are viler, for that matter.
  100. Don't ask me why it was top secret, or even restricted; our government has gotten the habit of classifying anything as secret which the all-wise statesmen and bureaucrats decide we are not big enough girls and boys to know, a Mother-Knows-Best-Dear policy. I've read that there used to be a time when a taxpayer could demand the facts on anything and get them. I don't know; it sounds Utopian.
  101. The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.
  102. TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.
  103. Nothing gives life more zest, than running for your life.
  104. Widows are far better than brides. They don't tell, they won't yell, they don't swell, they rarely smell, and they're grateful as hell.
  105. Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.
  106. $100 placed at 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will increase to more than $l00,000,000—by which time it will be worth nothing.
  107. A 'pacifist male' is a contradiction in terms. Most self-described 'pacifists' are not pacific; they simply assume false colors. When the wind changes, they hoist the Jolly Roger.
  108. Every law that was ever written opened up a new way to graft.
  109. An elephant. A mouse built to government specifications.
  110. Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure good government; it simply insures that it will work. But such governments are rare—most people want to run things but want no part of the blame. This used to be called the backseat-driver syndrome.
  111. Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned uo wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.
  112. Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.
  113. Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.
  114. Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)
  115. Darling, a true lady takes off her dignity with her clothes and does her whorish best. At other times you can be as modest and dignified as your persona requires.
  116. Dear, don't bore him with trivia or burden him with your past mistakes. The happiest way to deal with a man is never to tell him anything he does not need to know.
  117. Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something. Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?
  118. Does history record any case in which the majority was right?
  119. Everybody lies about sex.
  120. Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.
  121. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
  122. History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion-i.e., none to speak of.
  123. If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion. It has long been known that one horse can run faster than another—but which one? Differences are crucial.
  124. If men were the automatons that behaviorists claim they are, the behaviorist psychologists could not have invented the amazing nonsense called 'behaviorist psychology.'
  125. If tempted by something that feels 'altruistic,' examine your motives and root out that self-deception. Then, if you still want to do it, wallow in it!
  126. If the universe has any purpose more important than topping a woman you love and making a baby with her hearty help, I've never heard of it.
  127. 'No man is an island—' Much as we may feel and act as Individuals, our race is -a single organism, always growing and branching—which must be pruned regularly to be healthy. This necessity need not be argued; anyone with eyes can see that any organism which grows without limit always dies in its own poisons. The only rational question is whether pruning is best done before or after birth. Being an incurable sentimentalist I favor the former of these methods—killing makes me queasy, even when it's a case of 'He's dead and I'm alive and that's the way I wanted it to be.' But this may be a matter of taste. Some shamans think that it is better to be killed in a war, or to die in childbirth, or to starve in misery, than never to have lived at all. They may be right. But I don't have to like it—and I don't.
  128. If you happen to be one of the fretful minority who can do creative work, never force an idea; you'll abort it if you do. Be patient and you'll give birth to it when the time is ripe. Learn to wait.
  129. In a mature society, 'civil servant' is semantically equal to 'civil master.'
  130. It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired.
  131. Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrongdoing—and you don't have to go home in the cold. But it's lonely.
  132. Men are more sentimental than women. It blurs their thinking.
  133. Money is the sincerest of all flattery. Women love to be flattered. So do men.
  134. Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as 'empty,' 'meaningless,' or 'dishonest,' and scorn to use them. No matter how 'pure' their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.
  135. Never appeal to a man's 'better nature.' He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.
  136. Never crowd youngsters about their private affairs—sex especially. When they are growng up, they are nerve ends all over, and resent (quite properly) any invasion of their privacy. Oh, sure, they'll make mistakes—but that's their business, not yours. (You made your own mistakes, did you not?)
  137. Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
  138. Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbow room is pleasanter—and much safer.
  139. People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy a half slug who must tighten his belt.
  140. Rub her feet.
  141. Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys; it's more sanitary.
  142. Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other 'sins' are invented nonsense.
  143. Small change can often be found under seat cushions.
  144. Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.
  145. Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
  146. The first time I was a drill instructor I was too inexperienced for the job—the things I taught those lads must have got some of them killed. War is too serious a matter to be taught by the inexperienced.
  147. The more you love, the more you can love—and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.
  148. The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history. The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful.
  149. The phrase 'we (I) (you) simply must—' designates some thing that need not be done. 'That goes without saying' is a red warning. 'Of course' means you had best check it yourself. These small-change clichés and others like them, when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.
  150. The second best thing about space travel is that the distances involved make war very difficult, usually impractical, and almost always unnecessary. This is probably a loss for most people, since war is our race's most popular diversion, one which gives purpose and color to dull and stupid lives. But it is a great boon to the intelligent man who fights only when he must—never for sport.
  151. The shamans are forever yacking about their snake-oil 'miracles.' I prefer the Real McCoy - a pregnant woman.
  152. The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
  153. The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of 'loyalty' and 'duty.' Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute—get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.
  154. There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who 'love Nature' while deploring the 'artificialities' with which 'Man has spoiled Nature.' The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of 'Nature'—but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-face absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own race—i.e., his own self-hatred. In the case of 'Naturists' such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate. As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race made up of men and women—it strikes me as a fine arrangement -and perfectly 'natural' Believe it or not, there were 'Naturists' who opposed the first flight to old Earth's Moon as being 'unnaturaI' and a 'despoiling of Nature.'
  155. Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.'
  156. What a wonderful world it is that has girls in it!
  157. When the need arises—and it does—you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don't farm it out—that doesn't make it nicer, it makes it worse.
  158. Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic it to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, 'equality' is a disaster.
  159. You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
  160. Men are expendable; women and children are not. A tribe or a nation can lose a high percentage of its men and still pick up the pieces and go on… as long as the women and children are saved. But if you fail to save the women and children, you've had it, you're done, you're through! You join Tyrannosaurus Rex, one more breed that bilged its final test.
  161. Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.
  162. Belief gets in the way of learning.
  163. Learning isn't a means to an end; it is an end in itself.
  164. No intelligent man has any respect for an unjust law. He simply follows the eleventh commandment.


The True History Of Halloween

--