"A world ought to have a few genuine good guys, and not just a spectrum of people running from bad to worse."
        -- Glen Cook, A Shadow of All Night Falling

"You couldn't get a clue during the clue mating season in a field full of horny clues if you smeared your body with clue musk and did the clue mating dance."
        -- Edward Flaherty

"We all enter this world in the same way: naked; screaming; soaked in blood. But if you live your life right, that kind of thing doesn't have to stop there."
        -- Dana Gould

"Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come."
        -- Matt Groening

"Things do get better, all the time, maybe just not as fast as I'd like. I do what I can. Don't ask me to hate, too."
        -- Michael Wiik

"Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties."
        -- George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism

"People are always amazed by how much "free time" I have.
They're also amazed that I don't know who Ally McBeal is.
Frankly, I'm amazed that they can't make the connection."
        -- Robert Wenzlaff

"Throughout the technology revolution, mankind has consistently sought to improve life by reducing the number of tasks that require physical activity, then sought to counteract the inevitable weight gain by manufacturing food that only looks like food and barely tastes like it."
        -- Samuel Stoddard

"Any person who claims to have deep feeling for other human beings should think a long, long time before he votes to have other men kept behind bars - caged. I am not saying there shouldn't be prisons, but there shouldn't be bars. Behind bars, a man never reforms. He will never forget. He never will get completely over the memory of the bars."
        -- Malcolm X

"What funding committee will agree to fund a book describing an entire new field that has never before been dreamt of? Committees base their conclusions on a shared understanding of a common body of knowledge. Their members are drawn from an existing society of experts to evaluate the next incremental improvement. What do you do when there are no experts? Who lays claim to expertise in nanomedicine? Who has spent their life in this field which is just being conceived? No one. The committee process breaks down when we move into truly new terrain. It fails us just when failure is most expensive: at the beginnings of new things. Here we must fall back on individuals - individuals who are bold enough to believe in themselves when there are no experts to turn to for help and support. Individuals who are willing to back up their own beliefs with action, who will nurture the truly new and the truly groundbreaking without having to first seek the approval of others. For there are no others! On the far frontiers there are very few, and sometimes there is only one."
        -- Ralph Merkle, afterword to Nanomedicine

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Unfortunately, the Orwell site's domain expired, and their content couldn't be preserved at the Archive because of their robots.txt. However, here is a perfectly good copy of that essay.

Here is the Archived Nanomedicine afterword.

I have just laughed for five straight minutes at the Matt Groening one.

"People are always amazed by how much "free time" I have.
They're also amazed that I don't know who Ally McBeal is.
Frankly, I'm amazed that they can't make the connection."

I, too, enjoy hypocritcal humor. (Also, the unacknowledged paradox makes my pedantry itch.)

What paradox?

I don't know the formal name, but if he doesn't know who Ally McBeal is, how is he able to mention her? (Moore's paradox seems related but distinct.)


"Doesn't know" doesn't literally means "has absolutely no knowledge about". He clearly doesn't know why Ally McBeal is considered important and probably not much about her other than a name and a knowledge that she is considered important by other people. The amount of knowledge to use something in a sentence, and even to make certain meaningful statements about it, is far less than the amount of knolwedge that non-LWers mean when they say they "don't know" what something is.

He clearly does know why she's considered important, or he couldn't meaningfully disagree that she was. If he literally only knew that there was someone by that name considered important, that would be a reason to try to learn more, not to brag about his ignorance.

Most likely he has at least the same background knowledge as most English speakers; that she's a television figure who at one point starred in a show bearing her name. Read uncritically, the quote creates an image of his literally being baffled and asking "Who?" every time someone mentions her; that's an exaggeration and a brag.


Yes, he knows she's someone who had a TV show. That isn't equivalent to knowing why she's important, since not every person who has a TV show is considered important. I would imagine that he has no idea what distinguishes this TV show from other TV shows whose stars are not considered important.

In support of your argument: I only looked up "Ally McBeal" a few minutes ago, and promptly discovered that I not only lacked all but the most cursory information on Ally McBeal but that what information I did have was almost entirely wrong. The name of the program was not "The Ally McBeal Show," it was not a talk show or comedy sketch show or anything similar, and Ally McBeal is a wholly fictional character, rather than the name of a living person and that person's fictionalized persona à la Ray Romano of Everybody Loves Raymond.

I think it would be fair to say that I previously had "no idea who Ally McBeal was." Despite knowing that the name pointed to something, I was incorrect in just about every respect except for which pronouns to use and it had something to do with a television show.