Wednesday, September 19, 2018 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Neal Stephenson


American writer, known primarily for his science fiction works in the postcyberpunk and chemical generation genres with a penchant for explorations of society, mathematics, currency, and the history of science.
Neal Stephenson
Tris was pudgy and not especially good looking, but she had the personality of a beautiful girl because she'd been raised in a math.
Stephenson quotes
"Those who think through possible outcomes with discipline, forge connections, in so doing, to other cosmi in which those outcomes are more than mere possibilities. Such a consciousness is measurably, quantitatively different from one that has not undertaken the same work and so, yes, is able to make correct decisions in an Emergence where an untrained mind would be of little use."
Stephenson
Though Richard’s Wikipedia entry had been quiet lately, in the past it had been turbulent with edit wars between mysterious people, known only by their IP addresses, who seemed to want to emphasize aspects of his life that now struck him as, while technically true, completely beside the point. Fortunately this had all happened after Dad had become too infirm to manipulate a mouse, but it didn’t stop younger Forthrasts.




Stephenson Neal quotes
I don't like sewing machines. I don't understand how a needle with a thread going through the tip of it can interlock the thread by jamming itself into a little goddamn spool. It's contrary to nature and it irritates me.
Stephenson Neal
Most of my colleagues go on backpacking trips when they have to do some thinking. I go to a good hardware store and head for the oiliest, dustiest corners. ... If they're really good, they don't hassle me. They let me wander around and think. Young hardware clerks have a lot of hubris. They think they can help you find anything.... Old hardware clerks have learned the hard way that nothing in a hardware store ever gets bought for its nominal purpose. You buy something that was designed to do one thing, and you use it for another.
Neal Stephenson quotes
“Why do they believe that?”
“Because we are hackers,” Csongor said, “and they have seen movies.”
Neal Stephenson
One way to be strong was to be knowledgeable. In so many areas, it was not possible to be knowledgeable without getting a Ph.D. and doing a postdoc. Guns and hunting provided an out for men who wanted to be know-it-alls but who couldn’t afford to spend the first three decades of their lives getting up to speed on quantum mechanics or oncology.
Stephenson Neal quotes
In your high school geology class you probably were taught that all life on earth exists in a paper-thin shell called the biosphere, which is trapped between thousands of miles of dead rock underfoot, and cold dead radioactive empty space above. Companies that sell OSes exist in a sort of technosphere. Underneath is technology that has already become free. Above is technology that has yet to be developed, or that is too crazy and speculative to be productized just yet. Like the Earth's biosphere, the technosphere is very thin compared to what is above and what is below.
Stephenson
What you are about to read is not an aberration: it can happen in your local university too. The Big U, simply, was a few years ahead of the rest.
Stephenson Neal
Richard’s ex-girlfriends were long gone, but their voices followed him all the time and spoke to him, like Muses or Furies. It was like having seven superegos arranged in a firing squad before a single beleaguered id, making sure he didn’t enjoy that last cigarette.
Neal Stephenson
Both Penang and the Internet were established basically for strategic military reasons. In both cases, what was built by the military was merely a kernel for a much vaster phenomenon that came along later. This kernel was really nothing more than a protocol, a set of rules. If you wanted to follow those rules, you could participate, otherwise you were free to go elsewhere. Because the protocol laid down a standard way for people to interact, which was clearly set out and could be understood by anyone, it attracted smart, adaptable, ambitious people from all over the place, and at a certain point it flew completely out of control and turned into something that no one had ever envisioned: something thriving, colorful, wildly diverse, essentially peaceful, and plagued only by the congestion of its own success.




Neal Stephenson quotes
By this point he had seen enough of them to know that they were cooler under pressure, and better to be within a tight spot, than 999 out of 1,000 women. But their presence obliged him to divert a significant fraction of his attention into being considerate of their needs, responding to their inquiries, and keeping them alive.
Neal Stephenson
Sokolov put the odds at 100 percent that Peter would, sooner or later, do something stupid and cause enormous trouble. Peter would do this because he believed he was clever and because he thought only of himself. It would be safer to take him out and shoot him now, but disposing of the body would be difficult and the shock of it would probably disturb the equilibrium of Zula.
Stephenson quotes
He had a sense of irony that ruled his life, made it impossible for him to use his considerable brains in any kind of serious job. Kind of like me.
Stephenson Neal
“Is this a real blue-collar bar or a simulacrum thereof?”
“Both. It started out as a pure simulacrum, a few years ago, before the economy crashed, when it was hip for twentysomethings to move down here and dress in Carhartts and Utilikilts. But they did such a good job of it that actual blue-collar people began to show up. And then the economy did crash, and the hip people discovered that they were, in actual point of fact, blue collar, and probably always would be. So you’ve got guys here who run lathes. But they have colored Mohawks and college degrees, and they program the lathes in computer languages. I was trying to come up with a name for them. Cerulean-collar workers, maybe.”
“Do a lot of people stop by here on their way to the private jet terminal?”
“You’d be surprised.”
Stephenson Neal quotes
Talking to cancer victims never makes me feel righteous, never vindicated. It makes me slightly ill and for some reason, guilty. If people like me would just keep our mouths shut, people like him would never suspect why they got cancer. They’d chalk it up to God or probability. They wouldn't die with hearts full of venom.
It is a strange world that Industry has made. Kind of a seething toxic harbor, opening out on a blue unspoiled ocean. Most people are swimming in it, and I get to float around on the surface, on my Zodiac, announcing that they're in trouble. What I really want to do is make a difference. But I'm not sure I have, yet.
Neal Stephenson
In four years of work, I've idled my Zodiac down every one of its thousands of inlets, looked at every inch of its fractal coastline and found every single goddamned pipe that empties into it. Some of the pipes are big enough to park a car in and some are the size of your finger, but all of them have told their story to my gas chromatograph. And often it's the littlest pipes that cause the most damage. When I see a big huge pipe coming right out of a factory, I'm betting the pumpers have at least read the EPA regs. But when I find a tiny one, hidden below the waterline, sprouting from a mile-wide industrial carnival, I put on gloves before taking my sample.
And sometimes the gloves melt.
Neal Stephenson quotes
But in that we started so many things in that moment, we brought to their ends many others that have been the subject matter of this account, and so here is where I draw a line across the leaf and call it the end.
Neal Stephenson
"I guess that people like to think they are not only living but propagating their way of life."
"That's right. People have a need to feel that they are part of some sustainable project. Something that will go on without them. It creates a feeling of stability. I believe that the need for that kind of stability is as basic and as desperate as some of the other, more obvious needs. But there's more than one way to get it."
Stephenson Neal
The expression can be traced to the Third Centennial Apert, when the gates of several Hundreder maths opened to reveal startling outcomes, e.g.: at Saunt Rambalf's, a mass suicide that had taken place only moments earlier. At Saunt Terramore's, nothing at all — not even human remains. At Saunt Byadin's, a previously unheard-of religious sect.... At Saunt Lesper's, no humans, but a previously undiscovered species of tree-dwelling higher primates.


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