THE NOTEBOOKS OF LAZARUS LONG
by Robert Anson Heinlein
A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.
Sovereign ingredient for a happy marriage: Pay cash or do without. Interest charges not only eat up a household budget; awareness of debt eats up domestic felicity.
When the fox gnaws -- smile!
Take care of the cojones and the frijoles will take care of themselves. Try to have getaway money -- but don't be fanatic about it.
Another ingredient for a happy marriage: budget the luxuries first!
And still another -- See to it that she has her own desk -- then keep your hands off it!
And another -- in a family argument, if it turns out you are right -- apologize at once!
Formal courtesy between husband and wife is even more important than it is between strangers.
Don't try to have the last word. You might get it.
Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well.
The shamans are forever yacking about their snake-oil "miracles." I prefer the Real McCoy -- a pregnant woman.
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.
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.
Rub her feet.
Always tell her she is beautiful, especially if she is not.
Money is the sincerest of all flattery. Women love to
A man does not insist on physical beauty in a woman who builds up his morale. After a while he realizes that she is beautiful -- he just hadn't noticed it at first.
A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
"All's fair in love and war" -- what a contemptible lie!
It impossible for a man to love his wife wholeheartedly without loving all women somewhat. I suppose that the converse must be true of women.
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.
Everybody lies about sex.
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.
Men are more sentimental than women. It blurs their thinking.
"I CAME, I SAW, SHE CONQUERED." (The original Latin seems to have been garbled.)
A whore should be judged by the same criteria as other
professionals offering services for pay -- such as dentists, lawyers, hairdressers,
physicians, plumbers, etc. Is she professionally competent? Does she give
good measure? Is she honest with her clients?
Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys; it's more sanitary.
Copulation is spiritual in essence -- or it is merely
friendly exercise. On second thought, strike out "merely." Copulation is
not "merely" -- even when it is just a happy pastime for two strangers.
But copulation at its spiritual best is so much more than physical coupling
that it is different in kind as well as in degree.
It is better to copulate than never.
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 is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. they should never settle merely for equality. For women, "equality" is a disaster.
Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of
any possibility of wrongdoing -- and you don't have to go home in the cold.
Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Touch is the most fundamental sense. A baby experiences it, all over, before he is born and long before he learns to use sight, hearing, or taste, and no human being ever ceases to need it. Keep your children short on pocket money -- but long on hugs.
Never crowd youngsters about their private affairs --
sex especially. When they are growing 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?)
Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.
To stay young requires unceasing cultivation of the ability to unlearn old falsehoods.
You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
All cats are not gray after midnight. Endless variety--
Always store beer in a dark place.
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. Attempting 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.
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.
Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it.
Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect.
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
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.
Most "scientists" are bottle washers and button sorters.
If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people.
Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate -- and quickly.
A motion to adjourn is always in order.
No state has the 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.
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.
Cheops' Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
All men are created unequal.
A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.
There is only one way to console a widow. But remember the risk.
It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion,
but it is better still to be a live lion.
One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry.
Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.
An elephant: A mouse built to government specifications.
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 slip back into abject poverty.
In a mature society, "civil servant" is semantically equal to "civil master."
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?
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.
A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. The may be the purpose of the universe.
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?
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-facie 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.
"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 rational question is whether
pruning is best done before or after birth.
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."
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!
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.
Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All
other "sins" are invented nonsense.
History does not record anywhere at any time 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.
The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers
high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense.
In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted
to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate
from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested
in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes on to suspect that
the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man.
Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.
"God split himself into a myriad parts that he might have friends." This may not be true, but it sounds good -- and is no sillier than any other theology.
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.
Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide the lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, 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.
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.
The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
Beware of altruism. It is based on self deception, the root of all evil.
Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of -- but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
$100 placed at 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will increase to more than $100,000,000 -- by which time it will be worth nothing.
If men were the automatons that behaviorists claim they are, the behaviorist psychologists could not have invented the amazing nonsense called "behaviorist psychology." So they are wrong from scratch -- as clever and as wrong as phlogiston chemists.
Thou shalt remember the Eleventh Commandment and keep it Wholly.
A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an "intellectual" -- find out how he feels about astrology.
Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
When the ship lifts, all bills are paid. No regrets.
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.
Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbowroom is pleasanter -- and much safer.
One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word.
The phrase "we (I) (you) simply must--" designates something 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 cliches and others like them, when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.
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.
If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There
may be no candidates and measures you want to vote for... But there are
certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against.
By this rule you will rarely go wrong.
A practical joker deserves applause for his wit according to its quality. Bastinado is about right. For exceptional wit one might grant keelhauling. But staking out on an anthill should be reserved for the very wittiest.
Those who refuse to support and defend a state have no
claim to protection by that state. Killing an anarchist or a pacifist should
not be defined as "murder" in a legalistic sense. The offense against the
state, if any, should be "Using a deadly weapon inside city limits," or
"Creating a traffic hazard," or "Endangering bystanders," or other misdemeanor.
An authentic buck pacifist has rarely been seen off Earth, and it is doubtful that any have survived the trouble there... regrettable, as the had the biggest mouths and smallest brains of any of the primates. The small-mouthed variety of anarchist has spread through the Galaxy at the very wave front of the Diaspora; there is no need to protect them. But they often shoot back.
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
Does history record any case in which the majority was right?
A "critic" is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels
qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he
Money is truthful. If a man speaks of his honor, make him pay cash.
Never frighten a little man. He'll kill you.
Only a sadistic scoundrel -- or a fool -- tells the bald truth on social occasions.
In handling a stinging insect, move very slowly.
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. The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning, while those other subjects merely require scholarship.
Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and miss.
The greatest productive force is human selfishness.
Minimize your therbligs until it becomes automatic; this doubles your effective lifetime -- and thereby gives you time to enjoy butterflies and kittens and rainbows.
Have you noticed how much they look like orchids? Lovely!
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.
Never try to outstubborn a cat.
Tilting at windmills hurts you more than the windmills.
Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again.
Waking a person unnecessarily should not be considered a capital crime. For a first offense, that is.
"Go to hell!" or other insult direct is all the answer a snoopy question rates.
A skunk is better company than a person who prides himself on being "frank."
Beware of the "Black Swan" fallacy. Deductive logic is
tautological; there is no way to get a new truth out of it, and it manipulates
false statements as readily as true ones. If you fail to remember this,
it can trip you -- with perfect logic. The designers of the earliest computers
called this the "Gigo Law," i.e., "Garbage in, garbage out."
Natural laws have no pity.
On the planet Tranquille around KM 849 (G-O) lives a little
animal known as a "knafn." It is herbivorous and has no natural enemies
and is easily approached and may be petted -- sort of a six-legged puppy
with scales. Stroking it is very pleasant; it wiggles its pleasure and
broadcasts euphoria on some band that humans can detect. It's worth the
Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite.
If "everybody knows" such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one.
Anything free is worth what you pay for it.
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. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
Being generous is inborn; being altruistic is a learned perversity. No resemblance--
You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too trusting.
Don't store garlic near other victuals.
Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.
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.
A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.
Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself. Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.
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.
A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future.
A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.
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.
Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.
Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.
You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
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 made it possible to go elsewhere.
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.
Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)
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.
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.
Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.
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!
There is no such thing as "social gambling." Either you are there to cut the other bloke's heart out and eat it -- or you're a sucker. If you don't like this choice -- don't gamble.
This sad little lizard told me he was a brontosaurus on his mother's side. I did not laugh, people who boast of ancestry often have little else to sustain them. Humoring them costs nothing and adds to happiness in a world in which happiness is always in short supply.
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.
Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of
you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to
fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can
entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die.
Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
More Heinlein Quotes:
The Marks of a Sick Culture, abridged (by BobGod) from R. A. Heinein's Friday
Very nicely Indexed site of Quotable Heinlein
Nice Heinlein page, but BEWARE! - it's on GeoCities and crashed my browser...
Most comprehensive Heinlein pageI've seen yet!
for a Robert Heinlein quote on any of dozens of subjects at Freedom's
Officially Licensed Sword of Scar, from Glory Road
The Heinlein Prize
The Heinlein Archives
Officially Licensed Sword of Scar, from Glory Road
The Heinlein Prize
The Heinlein Archives