THE SAYINGS OF JOHN MCCARTHY

Clinton can say: in my industry 56 of the experienced men are unemployed. – jmc 1993 and earlier

Oh, he’s sincere all right. The question is: what is he sincere about? – jmc after 1986, perhaps about Gorbachev

His ambition is to be the spider in the World Wide Web. – jmc 1994

My hobby of not attending meetings about recycling saves more energy than your hobby of recycling. – jmc 1994

r.a.b. Needs an FFF – frequently flamed flames, each with a sampling of exchanges, culminating in an application of Godwin’s law. [Godwin’s law is that an exchange of flames ends when one poster compares his adversary with Adolf Hitler.]

r.a.b.需要FFF（常被点燃的火焰），每个都有一份对话取样，并以援引戈德温法则而达到高潮。[戈德温法则是说，一旦一名发帖者将他的对手形容为希特勒，这次对话即告结束。]【译注：r.a.b.是rec.arts.books的缩写，麦卡锡在著名网络论坛Usenet的rec.arts.books版面非常活跃（据说本文语录中许多出自该版），还经常出席Palo Alto的r.a.b.读者定期聚餐。】

Never abandon a theory that explains something until you have a theory that explains more. – jmc 1991

The gentlemen of the press smell blood. – jmc 1994

Do you wish to imprison the Native Americans in a re-invented primitive culture? – jmc 1994

Would you vegetarians like a rule that food stamps cannot be used to purchase products containing meat? Would you vegans like to also forbid their use to purchase eggs, fish or milk products? Some years ago some of my fellow conservatives grumbled about the purchase of filet mignon with food stamps, but their motives were economic, and they were easily beaten down with the usual charges of heartlessness. Maybe you vegetarians would have better luck, since your hearts are pure.

I mention this out of my customary helpfulness. – jmc 1994

The difference between a contemporary liberal and a socialist is that to a liberal the most beautiful word in the English language is “forbidden”, whereas to a socialist the most beautiful word is “compulsory”. – jmc 1994

When I hear the word Heidegger I reach for my axe. He may have swiped it. – jmc 1994

Measuring all costs in terms of energy is merely a religious exercise. – jmc 1994 and earlier.

“以能量衡量所有成本”只是一种宗教活动而已。

Suicidal terrorists may have short shelf lives. – jmc 1994

Of course, Third World leaders love you. By ascribing third world ills to First World sins, you absolve them of blame for their countries’ failure to advance. – jmc 1995

The slogan was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Sixty years later the slogan became, “Don’t trust anyone over ninety.” – jmc 1995

In human history, the desire for revenge and the desire for loot have often been closely associated. – jmc 1995

Do you wish to do good for the Mexicans (Palestinians) or they merely a stick with which to beat the Americans (Jews)? – jmc 1995

Compassion is contempt with a human face. – jmc 1995, modified from Christopher Lasch

Don’t try to talk anyone out of concentrating his hatred on Ayn Rand or any other dead person. It can’t harm the dead. Diverted to a living person, it might actually do harm. jmc – 1994

In praise of philistines

It is said that man doesn’t live by bread alone. Sometimes this is unfortunate, because people who cannot live by bread alone too often kill other people in consequence of the fights they get into.

The word ‘philistine’ as a pejorative is used in a variety of senses, but a common one refers to a person interested only in money and the goods and amusements money can buy. Usually it doesn’t refer to someone who will do anything for money but rather a person who if he makes a reasonable amount of money will spend his time enjoying it without considering either the arts, the advance of science, or righting the injustices of the world — unless one of the above happens to be his job. It may not be presumed that the Philistine people of the Bible had this property any more than anyone else. Philistines do less harm than most ideologically motivated people. – jmc 1985

“庸碌之士”（philistine）这个词作为一种蔑称有很多种意思，但其中一种是指仅仅对钱以及钱所能买来的商品和娱乐有兴趣的人。通常来说，它不是指那些为了钱而不择手段的人，而是指那些只要赚够一定数量的钱就会将时间用在花钱享受，不去考虑艺术、科技进步、或试图改变世界之不公正的人——除非以上情形之一恰好是他的工作。这并不是说，圣经中的非利士人（Philistine）比其他人容易变成这种人。“庸碌之士”做的坏事比绝大多数被意识形态驱使的人要少得多。

People mourn when a person dies, but no-one mourns the billions of intestinal bacteria that his death dooms. Speciesism, I calls it. – jmc 1995

If it doesn’t work right, we can always try something else. – jmc < 1996

Once a person has killed other people on behalf of an ideology, he becomes rather devoted to it. – jmc 1997

Proposals to forbid golf courses have about the same motivations as proposals to forbid skate boarding, although the rationalizations are different. – jmc 1997

“禁止高尔夫球场”这类提议的动机同“禁止滑板”这类提议是相同的，虽然说辞并不一样。

Asking a critic to name his favorite book is like asking a butcher to name his favorite pig. – jmc 1997

Language is froth on the surface of thought. – jmc 1997

Slogans rarely convince the unconvinced. However, they do rally the troops already on your side. – jmc 1998

Hardly anyone has noticed that in the Northern Hemisphere people stir their drinks counterclockwise, whereas the same people stir their drinks clockwise when visiting the Southern Hemisphere. – jmc 1998

Honor among thieves is the ancestor of all honor. Likewise, democracy among tyrants is the ancestor of all democracy. Think Magna Carta. – jmc 1998

As we have recently seen, the function of the anti-trust laws is to protect the poor little fellow with a mere $5 billion from being bullied by the big guy with$50 billion. – jmc 2002

If a person can be said to have the wrong attitude, there is no need to pay attention to his arguments. – jmc 2002

Hard distinctions make bad philosophy. – jmc 2002

A declining institution often experiences survival of the unfittest. – jmc 1960s

With no more than six levels of misquotation, any statement can be made to say whatever you wish. – jmc 2002

You don’t want to examine the basis of your computer’s morality any more than you want to see sausage being made. – jmc 2020

When I see a slippery slope, my instinct is to build a terrace. – jmc 2003

You don’t get to do unto others just anything you imagine they might want to do unto you.

You attack the religious reactionaries who oppose teaching evolution. Very good. Will you also attack Greenpeace and other idealizers of nature who oppose genetic engineering? – jmc 2006

He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense. – jmc 1970s or 1980s