I bet that's interesting to you in ways that you can't explain to me: collected maxims from the Pinicola Commonplace Book.


These maxims have been assembled from various sources. New lists are added at the bottom, and those added in the past calendar year are flagged as *NEW*. Those published or broadcast elsewhere are quoted out of admiration, and the user should assume they are under copyright before proposing to make any commercial use of them. Any authors who want theirs removed should contact us at <bckcdb@istar.ca> Copyright of those captured from conversation is held by the authors, and of those of our own composition (FWS - Frederick W. Schueler; AKS - Aleta Karstad Schueler; Elsa or ELS, Elsa Louise Schueler; and JHS, Jennifer Helene Schueler) are copyright 2003, or later dates as cited. last modified 25 Dec 2009

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

NEWLY RECOVERED - an old commonplace cache from the 1960s and 1970s
FOUR CANONICAL PARAGRAPHS
Some biological Data Awards from the Upper Recent of November 1972
Foreshadow Your Own Presence
when I got back, there he was, gone
We the unready, led by the unknowing
Litter-ature from the walls of the Beamish building
When I get older I will be a Mommy
FRIDGE LIT: A TRUE TRANSCRIPTION OF KITCHEN INSCRIPTIONS 01-Mar-87
FURTHER TRANSCRIPTIONS: 25 December 1995
1996 FRIDGE TRANSCRIPTIONS
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
sayings assembled for the founding fund-raiser of the EOBM
Kitchen mottos transcribed in the move to the store - March 2003
The Golden Boughs
Bishops Mills General Maxims
Out of Apartment One — before washing the fridge in October 2005
Maxims from the Palm memo files
Collected Definitions of Science
2009 fridge transcriptions



FOUR CANONICAL PARAGRAPHS: The 'Myth of Simplicity' was Fred's introduction to the philosophy of science, obtained on the remainder table at the University of Toronto bookstore in 1970. Of the books from which the other paragraphs come, only 'The Philosophy of Social Ecology' was purchased at list price: Fred's mother gave us 'The Hard Way to Haparanda' from a publisher's remaindered list in 1978, and we found 'The Meaning of Truth' in a dumpster behind the University of Washington library in 1988; they're all great books, and all of them are worth periodical rereading.

"This is, essentially, why we cannot any longer believe in the scholastic maxim 'Simplex sigillum veri,' because we know that all our constructions are defective, hence corrigible, since, deliberately or not, they involve the neglect of an unknown number of factors. Factual theories apply exactly to schematic, impoverished models or images, and only inexactly to the real referents of these pictures. The simpler the theoretical model the coarser or more unrealistic it will be. We need not wait for empirical tests to make sure that all our factual theories are, strictly speaking, false — or put in an optimistic way, only partially true. We know this beforehand, if only because we have introduced falsities into them, in the form of simplifications, as shown by historical experience and by an analysis of the way factual theories are built. Conceptual economy is therefore a sign and a test of transitoriness, i.e. of partial falsity — to be superseded by a lesser falsity: Simplex sigillum falsi." Bunge (1963, the Myth of Simplicity)

"Finding a lift took us a long time... In former ages people worshiped God; now they worship money, and anybody who lacks it is a dangerous heretic. He stands in danger of hell-fire, unless he buckles down to it and gets himself two cars and a swimming-pool. I love money myself, but when I am standing by the road begging for a lift no one can tell that I am a repentant sinner, who would be happy to become a respectable, money-fearing citizen if there were some way of being saved that did not bore me intolerably." R.P. Lister, 1965. The Hard Way to Haparanda. p 189. (Harcourt Brace & World, New York. 256 pp.)

"The argument that humanity's abuse of nature subverts the material conditions for our own survival, although surely true, is crassly instrumental. It assumes that human concern for nature rests on self-interest rather than on a feeling for the natural world of which human beings are a part, albeit in a very distinctive way. In such a value system our relationship with nature is neither better nor worse than the success with which we plunder it without harming ourselves. It is another warrant for undermining the natural world, provided only that we can find adequate substitutes, however synthetic, simple, or mechanical, for existing life-forms and ecological relationships. It is precisely this approach that has exacerbated the present ecological crisis." (p. 74. Murray Bookchin, 1996. The Philosophy of Social Ecology: Essays on Dialectical Naturalism. Black Rose Books, Montreal).

"My ideas may well deserve refutation, but they can get none till they are conceived of in their proper shape. The fantastic character of the current misconceptions shows how unfamiliar [this] concrete point of view [is]. Persons who are familiar with a conception move about so easily in it that they understand each other at a hint, and can converse without anxiously attending to their P's and Q's. I have to admit, in view of the results, that we have assumed too ready an intelligence, and consequently in many places used a language too slipshod. We should never have spoken elliptically. The critics have boggled at every word they could boggle at, and refused to take the spirit rather than the letter of our discourse. This seems to show a genuine unfamiliarity with the whole point of view. It also shows, I think, that the second stage of opposition, which has already begun to express itself in the stock phrase 'what is new is not true, and what is true not new,' is insincere. If we said nothing in any degree new, why was our meaning so desperately hard to catch? The blame cannot be laid wholly upon our obscurity of speech, for in other subjects we have attained to making ourselves understood." William James, 1911, The Meaning of Truth, pp 180-181


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Typed and hand-written scraps from an old cache from the 1960s and 1970s:

These are mostly sayings on small bits of stiff white paper or file cards, with a larger sign announcing Fred's residence in the basement of Agassiz House (magic-markered, perhaps in Paul Westell's hand; George Gaylord Simpson was the Agassiz House oil furnace, whose spreading ducts were supposed to sustain the house with hot air, in the same way its namesake fancied his insights sustained evolutionary theory). These scraps presumably date from the late 1960s and early 1970s, though we don't remember exactly how or where the sayings were deployed: perhaps as a taped-together array around the Fred's room at the Shire in Ithaca, the hotwater heater in the Agassiz House basement (which was decorated with a magic-markered phylogeny of life), or in Fred's 4th floor cubicle in the Ramsay Wright Zoology labs in Toronto.

DORIS COCHRANE MEMORIAL PSYCHEDELIC DUNGEON AND KARL MARX REVOLUTIONARY HERPETOLOGICAL ZOO. THIS WAY TO THE MUSEROOM, WATCH YOUR HATS, TIP? (SEE GEORGE GAYLORD SIMPSON - DONATIONS ACCEPTED)

"...countless other uncleannesses too nasty to be mentioned..." (in ballpoint in FWS' hand, on scrap of Cornell University cheque stub)

I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. how could I have looked him in the face? (unattributed [H.D. Thoreau] in FWS' hand, rapidograph, with felt-tip margin)

"if you are chosen town clerk, forsooth, you cannot go to Tierra del Fuego this summer." (unattributed [H.D. Thoreau] in FWS' hand, magic marker)

PARAAVIAN BIOLOGICAL DATA AWARD: NOVEMBER 1971 According to Herre (1935) further support for the assumption that the urodeles originated independently from other land vertebrates, and immediately from fishes, comes from the fact that this group is known already in the Carboniferous Period. This is obviously inefficient help for Herre's hypothesis, as nearly all paleontologists agree that there is no evidence to assign to the Urodela any fossil older than the Cretaceous.... Szarski, 1962, ¼ly Rev of Biol 37:230 (typed)

Notice: Re paraavian, interstellar seminar - S. Campbell will discourse @ (restricted) length on the classification of aquatic featherless birds (Order Pisces) &ct. - @ Rising's place, 13 November 1973, 8:30. (typed on a strip cut from instructions to authors from Systematic Zoology, with scribbles on reverse side)

"...one of the values of such an experiment as the Shire is the insight into human nature it gives you without the dangerous permanence of marriage." - Rev F. William Schueler III (ballpoint, in FWS' hand, pencil annotation in some other, perhaps PWS', hand "You think not?!")

"all of which was surrounded by approximately $50,000 worth of optix, and approximately 50¢ of Massachussetts boid-watchers." - P.W. Schueler (magic-marker, in FWS' hand)

..there is tremendous comfort in the thought that almost a rocks are endowed with little radioactive clocks of some sort, ticking away and storing up time records which we shall one day be able to interpret.... Hollis D. Hend Berg (pencil, in FWS' hand)

"Last, but not least, is the brilliance of talent displayed by both pagan philosophers and Christian heretics in the defense of error and falsehood." - Augustine (ballpoint, in FWS' hand)

"THERE IS SOMETHING IMPROPER IN INVITING MATERIALISTS TO DISCUSS A RELIGIOUS QUESTION" - St. Augustine (ballpoint, in FWS' hand)

THE TENDENCY of AMERICAN RELIGION TO DEMAND MORALITY and to SETTLE for GOOD MANNERS" ...William AC leBsch (magic marker, in FWS' hand)

"The character of a 'lunatic' is not, I believe, very difficult to acquire, but it is amazingly difficult to get rid of." (unattributed [Lewis Carroll] in magic marker, FWS' hand)

"THE FATHER, IN DESPAIR AT THE EXTRAORDINARY CONDUCT of HIS FAMILY, HAD STABBED HIMSELF, AND WAS FEELING FOR HIS PENCIL-CASE, TO MAKE A MEMORANDUM of HAVING DONE SO." (unattributed [Lewis Carroll] in magic marker, FWS' hand)

By this international commerce of geese, the waste corn of Illinois is carried through the clouds to the Arctic tundras, there to grow goslings for all the lands between. And in this annual barter of food for light, and winter warmth for summer solitude, the whole continent receives as net profit a wild poem dropped from the murky skies upon the muds of March. (unattributed [Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanack] in magic marker, FWS hand)

Rothchilds backs this idiotic slogan with 85 years of experience. (pencil, FWS' hand, unattributed)

The fish weren't bad, they were six inch perch, and they'd catch maybe 500 of 'em in half an hour. (typed, unattributed)

"Mississippi, God bless 'em, does a horrible job." (typed, unattributed)

HOW MUCH IS LOVE, EVEN WITH MANY WRONG OPINIONS, TO BE PREFERRED TO TRUTH WITHOUT LOVE! John Wesley (ballpoint, in FWS' hand)

the following are all written in rapidograph, in FWS' hand on small rectangles of white paper or file card, with a ring-binder hole punched at the top -

A taxonomic proposition is expanded into an evolutionary hypothesis ...Brown

"An intellectual exercise, which, like most intellectual exercises in modern biology, dates all the way back to Darwin..." ...Bartholomew

I have studied the evidence, and found some invalid, and the rest equivocal .... [George Gaylord] Simpson.

His method was irreproachable, his evidence overwhelming. His error, however, was total, for, like most scientific error, it lay in the premise .... Audrey.

If you call a black oak some kind of cactus you're obviously not even listening to me. Hamilton.

You try to tell this to some practical engineer, and he thinks you're nuts, and you are ... [Edward C.] Raney.

An educated guess would be better than a series of poor experiments .... [Edward C.] Raney.

Y'KNOW, IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THIS IS ALL BACKWARDS.... WE, EVERYBODY, OUGHT TO KEEP OUR BIG MOUTHS SHUT ALL THE WHOLE YEAR SO'S WE'D HAVE TIME TO THINK of TWO MINUTES WORTH OF SOMETHING TO SAY ON THE ELEVENTH DAY of NOVEMBER. W[alt] K[elly]


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Some biological Data Awards from the Upper Recent of November 1972:

The extremely worm plumage of this specimen makes positive identification of the subspecies impossible (C. Vaurie, pers. comm.). Manuwall and Lewis, 1972, Auk p. 895.

The liver is composed of the countless liver cells. A.S. Romer, Vertebrate Body, editions 2 & 3, p 359.

So much has been written on the habits of man that it would be futile to attempt even to abstract such information in the present booklet. E. Raymond Hall, 1955. Handbook of the Mammals of Kansas. In addition to delimiting the four sympatric, syntopic subspecies of Homo sapiens which have been taken in Kansas, Dr Hall also favours us with some crucial morphological data on this enigmatic species, to whit that the ear measures 1.75-2.75 inches from the notch. Unfortunately, Dr Hall does not specify whether this extraordinary variation results from a heterogeneous sample of all four subspecies, or was merely obtained on either side of his head.

In a trenchant review of Hall's views on Man (the Australopithicus gigas of naturalists), Farquharson states: Before man was man he was jist another mammyal, and fer quite some time he felt perty much like a fish out of water. (from 'Crabogenesis of People, Gibberons, Orange-utans, and Bassoons,' in The Plastocene Period and Glacial Astrology, M.B. Eddy & Spiro Agnew, editors, Stocastick Press, Yew Nork and Wabigoon).

Clench further comments, in an entirely unrelated review, that: This dreary little book [Birds of Florida] seems to have been written by a man who knows nothing about birds... and illustrated by a woman with the same qualifications.... The 'Bald Eagle' is almost certainly a Turkey Vulture....

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Sara Williamson preserves in Thunder Bay a piece of plaster from the Agassiz House kitchen wall on which is written - Foreshadow Your Own Presence - PW 1971

...then I chained him up with a rope, but when I got back, there he was, gone." the latter two terms of a trilogy of contradictions, repeated as traditional by FWS III, but the first term forgotten, and not recoverable from the internet, 1996, 2005-2006, 2009.

We the unready, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long, with so little that we will soon be qualified to do anything with nothing. – notice at Quadra Arm, 1977.


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Litter-ature from the walls of the Beamish building:

Before doing any kind of art, first you gotta catch your fish. F.D.Ross, 1978.

It is certainly true that the biological species concept is not very operational, but, as I have argued elsewhere, no theoretically significant concept in science is. Hull, 1979.

Whoso will penetrate into [animal care] must leave much else [undone]. Water von Someden.

Some problems are so complex it takes a high degree of intelligence just to be undecided about them. Ron Wallace.

All who are acquainted with [Lepidochelys] kempii agree that temperamentally it is unstable and irascible. Archie Carr, 1942. Proc. New England Zool. Club -16.

You don't need a necktie when you've got your foot in your mouth. memo from F.R.Cook to Ian McMurray, 12h45, 14 Dec. 1982.

Science is a very inexact science. F.R.Cook, 12h00, 12 June 1987.

This place has become too ridiculous even for me. F.R.Cook, 5 Dec 1990.

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21 March 1983: When I get older I will be a Mommy and I will have the things that you have, but I will have a different Daddy — and I'm growing right now — growing and growing and growing! — and you can babysit the little child that we will have when I am at the different Daddy's other Beamish building. And he will be the man, and I will be the woman, and we will bring the car and you can use it for a little while. ELS

FRIDGE LIT: A TRUE TRANSCRIPTION OF KITCHEN INSCRIPTIONS 01-Mar-87
CAUTION: The following transcriptions from kitchen walls are not to be regarded as applicable in all situations. They were true enough to write down at the date indicated, but there is no implied or explicit warranty of their truth at any other time or for any other person.

The Pas. Knowing that our ancestors have gone before and paved the way with a foundation of ignorance on which we may stand secure. FWS 29 April 1975

Well it's gone (another hour) — and we haven't published anything! FWS 28 Sept 1975

You'd pay extra for those in Massachusetts. F.D. Ross, 1978

Mangos do brighten the mood. AKS 1978

I have enough trouble living with myself without supposing that somebody else would live with me peaceably all the time. FWS 23 Sept 1978

Some of us get our best work done..... do we ever get our best work done? FWS 20 Sept 1978

The land on which the eastern turtle stands, is more than man can stand on turtle stands... FWS (mushroom poisoning) 29 Sept 1978

Little cat, little cat, How many hairs can you grow in each follicle?
Ten in the summer,
And twenty in the winter,
And that is plenty
For any place that I've binter.
3 April 1983

Aleta K. could eat no white
Her Fred could eat no yolks,
And so between the two of them
They made up egg-white jokes
31 Aug 1986

A whole bog of voicy moss
That creeps and cries aloud...
Nov 1986

...the subspecies was a Cheshire Cat, and the more you looked at it, the more it disappeared. Slater, 1978

If the Lord had meant us to fly, he would never have given us the railway. Flanders & Swann

If I was in a hurry, I would probably be living in Ottawa. Karen Tousaw, 24 May 1983

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get. Jessie Smythe

Be prepared: Worry Early. L.H. Karstad, July 1983

Now that I have learned to draw, I can move mountains. Karen Tousaw, 10 Oct 1986

We go to the garrick now, and become warbs. Thurber

I have no desire for riches. Honest poverty, and a conscience cleared by virtuous inaction, are more to me than corner lots and praise. Mark Twain

The harbours around here aren't what you usually think of as harbours, they're just places where the boats can clump down on the mud when the tide is out. FWS, Bar Road, New Brunswick, 26 Oct 1984

Mexican Walking Tomatoes: These are a specially tough breed of tomato, that are supposed to be grown in Mexico, and they just let 'em loose and they walk all the way to Canada. FWS Oct 1986

Caution: Wildflowers, slippery when wet. Karen Karstad 11 Jan 1983

A blind organist — so many of these French organists are blind. Bob Kerr, CBC, 13 March 1986

[liner notes] ...the sullen nothing that is so often inflicted on the record-buying public. Clyde Gilmore, CBC, 5 Jan 1986

Of course, I've got my own ox to gore. Eric Kierns, Morningside, 5 June 1984

Elsa: I bumped my foot on the couch!
FWS: Well don't blame me.
Elsa: But Mommy isn't here. Dec 1982

When hippopotamuses are cookies I eat them. Elsa, 26 Dec 1982

He has hair all over him for that the flies won't know that he is a dog. Elsa, 14 June 1983

Why it keeped neat all the long time we were away? Elsa, 5 July 1983

It's a hard life, being a cat with a friend like me. Elsa, 29 Nov 1983

If you worked harder, it would bend your pen. Elsa, 17 June 1984

I can beaver-teeth it off (tredge it off). Elsa, 24 June 1984 [of a sticky spatula]

Schueleremia is alive and well and living in Vanier. R.M. Rankin, 16 April 1983

I would like to drive the comparability of geographic variation studies back into the "Methods" section. FWS 16 Jan 1983

A pitiful excuse for a couple of adults we are. AKS & FWS 3 April 1983 — The more something bothers you, the less you can think about it. FWS 12 Oct 1983 — You're shy only because you're afraid that other people won't have the same high opinion of yourself as you do. AKS 6 Nov 1984 — When you're having a bad day, you make it sound so much like I'm having a bad day that it is hard to know who's to blame. FWS 5 Jan 1986

I wonder if that's how people invented magic? How? By saying 'Where's my mug... Oh, there it is.' 13 March 1986

To be radical, you have to be a museum-based taxonomist, and an ultraconservative anarchist. Anything else is reactionary. FWS 19 Sept 1986

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FURTHER TRANSCRIPTIONS: 25 December 1995:

It takes a swamp and tideflat zoologist to tell you about life. Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey, p 151.

He might be a good architect, and yet he was one of those who aren't carpenters. John Wood 21 Sept 1989 (cf R. M. Rankin, of the camperization of the Behemoth: "somebody who had heard of carpentry, but had never actually seen any.")

I made a mental list — and then I lost my mind. AKS 17 March 1992

If you live on the edge you're bound to be on the wrong side of it sometimes. F.R.Cook 25 July 1993

Something goes wrong... all the time... with everything. AKS (extension of Murphy's Law) 7 April 1994

I bet that's interesting to you in ways that you can't explain to me (about ice-breaker engineering). Peter Gzowski 28 Dec 1992

Only in a hut built for the moment can one live without fears (Ideas programme on Glen Gould's Japanese affinity). Japanese Sage

I'll mock you, and you'll mock me, and then we'll stop and have some tea. JHS Feb 1993

I told you, if you don't hear any hammering on the floor it's not me. JHS 11 Feb 1991

You can't invent holidays, you have to find them. FWS

David Tomes: It's two years old!
JHS: Who are you talking to?
DT: The general population of Bishops Mills.
JHS: Did they come by? 7 Oct 1990

I'm sick and tired of seeing all the dishes lying around, as if they hadn't got the intestinal fortitude to wash themselves. FWS 30 March 1995.

Once a problem gets to be the size of the National Debt, then you don't have to worry about it anymore, unless you're the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance. FWS 10 December 1994

Our greatest gifts in life are our problems. Sir Laurens van der Post 12 May 1995

My only concern, as you know, is to fool most of the People every four years. Brian Mulroony (RCAF) 1 Jan 1992

Sea Cucumbers are on the advanced end of the invertebrate radiation. CBC 21 March 1995

Stand-in-the-Lake-up-to-your-chin weather. CBC 0858hr 30 July 1995

We're not sure what that was, but we apologize for those technical difficulties. CB Seizure 11 Feb 1994

As Isaiah says — woe is me, I have viruses in my hard drive, and I live in the midst of a People with viruses all through their hard drives. FWS 5 March 1994

Don't try to be perfect, be right! Shu Fang, Tigh Chee class 6 Jan 1993

DATE ALL BROTH (undated)

Picnics are ephemeral. Rose van der Ham 16 July 1993

Studies have shown that white reflects more light than any other colour. Kemptville Advance 21 Nov 1990

I never know what I'm incapable of until I don't give it a try. Big Bobby Clobber (RCAF) 24 April 1993

You're so willing to jump up and help me with whatever you think I should be doing. AKS 19 May 1987

I unwrapped it and put it on the counter, and there it stood all night, singing a little night song to itself. JHS 6 Nov 1989

I don't do anything that I haven't already put off. FWS 17 June 1987

The sole purpose of having computers is that they don't change their minds if you go away and leave them for a while. F.R.Cook (in fine style) 8 Aug 1990

Basque whalers, rendering in carbon dust at Red Bay. FWS 27 August ca 1992

I'm not sure I trust People who say "Have a nice day". AKS 27 Aug 1992

Pittsburgh is just a win away from eliminating New Jersey. CBC Sports 23 April 1993

What else is there? I'm the only example I've got. FWS 15 Dec 1994

The world is in the charge of People who are the same age as me... and it makes me nervous. Garrison Keeler 10 Feb 1990

Well, its going to mess on us. CBC, Environment Canada 26 Jan 1994

You've told your daughter that it's rude to torment her Father, and she's just made it into a rude wild song? AKS 1 Nov 1994

Clam Diamonds (=pearls). JHS 7 Feb 1993

Canadians take their Dog for a walk, Chinese cook their Dog in a wok. Double Exposure 12 Nov 1994

We've lived here so long that everything settles in like pebbles in the bottom of a water jar. JHS 20 Dec 1994

If schools consume the youth of the nation in confinement, and all the products of their labors become paper to be thrown away, there is no joy possible in such goods. John Taylor Gatto, Natural Life #44

Children: you want to raise them to be strong, and self-reliant, and independent... and if you do your job right you may never see them again. Garrison Keeler 24 April 1993

AKS: The chiropractor thinks it's in the neck,
The naturopath thinks it's a yeast infection,
The MD thinks it's a mystery.

JHS: A normal case of disease.
(of Molly Brass) 23 March 1995

The word of somebody who has a job isn't worth Pig piss. FWS 28 August 1995

O you who must leave everything that you cannot control, it begins with your family and then it comes round to your soul. Leonard Cohen 'Sisters of Mercy'

Prolly got in in the usual Earwig way — sheer insolence — failure to recognize Man as the dominant species on the globe. FWS, QCC Cliff House, 28 Aug 1989


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1996 FRIDGE TRANSCRIPTIONS:

In our search for new resources we should be careful not to destroy what we already have. Boreal journal quoted on CBC, 28 Feb 1996.

The American Duct Tape Council reminds you that, in the long term, all solutions are temporary anyways. Garrison Keilor 1996.

I'm going to put this Planetary Society decal under the table here to show that I'm an undercover member — like I do with all the decals from organizations that I approve of but can't afford to subsidize. FWS 11 Jan 1996.

All Dogs are big and black
The others simply lack
They haven't got quite what it takes
To be so big and black.
FWS 7 October 1996.

Don't confuse the floor with the ceiling. Bob Moses, Smithsonian, Feb 1996.

Freedom's just another word for not caring about the quality of your work. Dilbert 1996.

Stomach Pain City. AKS 30 June 1996.

Would we get more done if we didn't have anything to do? FWS 25 Oct 1996. Oh Yes! AKS.

I am my own V-chip. Rex Murphy, 23 March 1996.

One word a day keeps the School Board away. JHS 21 Oct 1996.

All generalizations are untrue — including this one. FWS III

40 million Canadians die [from Tobacco use] every year. David Dingwall, As it Happens, 27 Nov 1996.

Pitiful Bob and the Diabetics:
My name is Fred
My brain is dead
Would you come and feed my head?

CHORUS: I'm so low I'm itchy all over, I'm so low I'm itchy all over, I'm so low I'm itchy all over, etc. 18 Nov 1996


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Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek:

"Frogs have an inelegant way of taking off from invisible positions on the bank just ahead of your feet, in dire panic, uttering a froggy 'Yike!' and splashing into the water. Incredibly, this amused me, and, incredibly, it amuses me still." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 5.

"If the Giant Water Bug was not made in jest, was it made in earnest?" Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 7.

"Most of the tadpoles are now frogs... they went to all that trouble to get out of the water and breathe air, only to hop back in before the first killing frost." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 47. (cf "...concerning the migration of frogs from their breeding ponds... he at once subverts the foolish opinion of their dropping from the clouds in rain; showing that it is from the grateful coolness and moisture of these showers that they are tempted to set out on their travels, which they defer till those fall" Gilbert White, 18 June 1768, letter XVII in Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.)

"Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly; insects, it seems, gotta do one horrible thing after another." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 65.

"Evolution, of course, is the vehicle of intricacy... There are, for instance, two hundred twenty-eight separate and distinct muscles in the head of an ordinary caterpillar." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 134.

"I have often noticed that these things, which obsess me, neither bother nor impress other people even slightly. I am horribly apt to approach some innocent at a gathering and, like the ancient mariner, fix him with a wild glitt'ring eye and say, 'Do you know that in the head of the ordinary goat moth [caterpillar] there are two hundred twenty-eight separate muscles?' The poor wretch flees. I am not making chatter; I mean to change his life." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 135.

"Form follows function in the created world, so far as I know, and the creature that functions, however bizarre, survives to perpetuate its kind." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 138.

"The point of the dragonfly's terrible lip, the giant water bug, birdsong, or the beautiful dazzle and flash of sun-lighted minnows, is not that it all fits together like clockwork — for it doesn't, particularly... — but that it flows so freely wild, like the creek, that it all surges in such a free, fringed tangle. Freedom is the world's water and weather, the world's nourishment freely given, its soil and sap: and the creator loves pizzazz." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 140.

"Intricacy is that which is given from the beginning, the birthright, and in intricacy is the hardiness of complexity that ensures against the failure of all life. This is our heritage, the piebald landscape of time.." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 149.

"Fish! They manage to be so water colored." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 189.

"Because fish have swim bladders filled with gas that balances their weight in the water, they are actually hanging from their own bodies, as gondolas hang from balloons." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 188.

"The news, after all, is not that muskrats are wary, but that they can be seen." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 209.

"Somebody showed me once how to answer a bobwhite in the warbling, descending notes of the female. It works like a charm. But what can I do with a charmed circle of bobwhites but weep? Still, I am brutalized enough that I give the answering call occasionally..." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 222.

"I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten, and I have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnarled trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them..." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 248.

"The universe was not made in jest but in solemn incomprehensible earnest... There is nothing to be done about it but ignore it or [else] see [it,] and then walk fearlessly, [taking] no comfort among death-forgetting men, [carrying your] vision of vastness and might around in [your] tunic like a live coal which neither burns nor warms [you] but with which [you cannot] part." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 278.


(return to Table of Contents).
BANNER - sayings assembled for the founding fund-raiser of the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum - 4 November 1998 (with some later accretions):

The grand fact of the natural subordination of organic beings in groups under groups, which, from its familiarity, does not always sufficiently strike us, is in my judgement thus explained. - Darwin

So many mites, so little time!
Barry M. OConnor Museum of Zoology University of Michigan

I like the look of frogs and their outlook and especially the way they get together in wet places on warm nights and sing about sex. - Archie Carr, The Windward Road

Interesting that [in interviews] every herpetologist sounds like he (she) is the ONLY herpetologist. Francis Cook

The nice thing about plants is that they demonstrate that you can be highly successful without a brain. - Dan Janzen

...an inordinate fondness for Beetles - JBS Haldane.

Blessed were the Rhipidistian Crossopterygians for they begot Ichthyostegaloid Labyrinthodont Amphibians. FWS

Leaving fewer offspring than possible is not only selected against, it in and of itself is selection against itself. FWS

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants. A. Whitney Brown (from Ted Mosquin)

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? — Albert Einstein

Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis — Ralph Waldo Emerson (from Ted Mosquin)

What many now call "growth" will soon be seen as "accelerated decay" — Dan Fiscus (from Ted Mosquin)

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why, so is mankind. (from Ted Mosquin)

I was determined to know beans. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Walden, The Beanfield

For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow-storms and rain-storms, and did my duty faithfully. H. D. Thoreau Walden

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. - H. D. Thoreau Walden

The woods are full of them. quoted by Alexander Wilson: American Ornithology [1808].

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

Like human vision, science forms a continuous image of the world, which may paper over enormous blind spots. We told adequate stories about Amphibian hibernation before the story "Amphibians do not revive after freezing" was proven false FWS

Amphibians are so sensitive to so many environmental influences that they are unsatisfactory indicator organisms of degradation of the human habitat, but they are so important and vulnerable that they must be monitored for their own sake FWS

How much, what infinite leisure it requires, as of a lifetime, to appreciate a single phenomenon! You must camp down beside it, as if for life, having reached your land of promise, and give yourself wholely to it. It must stand for the whole world to you, symbolical of all things. H.D. Thoreau.

To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall. — Thomas Henry Huxley, 1854 On the Educational Value of the Natural History Sciences.

The ability of a people to appraise scientific values apart from economic or commercial applications is one index of its cultural level, so the situation that exists with regard to herpetology in Canada does not flatter us. Logier & Toner, Checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Canada & Alaska, ROMZ, 1955.

It is perfectly clear that conservation has value only to delay exploitation of selected places until the prices go up in a future generation. All the rest is window-dressing and busy work. F.R. Cook

Change and decay in all around I see. Our present masters seem to have an irresistible urge, whenever they see something that works moderately well, to tinker with it, tear it apart, and construct something worse. Mortimer, Rumpole and the Summer of Discontent, 1990.

The example of biological nomenclature, which governs the naming of the Earth's biodiversity with minimal legislation and little enforcement or jurisprudence, inspires a naturalist to believe that autonomous anarchist systems can order large enterprises. - FWS

Indeed, if we could visualize the phenetic position of all organisms, past and present, we would find that they represent a dendrogram in hyperspace, outlining the phyletic history of living creatures. Sokal & Sneath, Numerical Taxonomy

You must be the change you wish to see in the world Gandhi

People live here because God made BC too damn small. Gina Rozon

Come & play in SuperNatural British Columbia - where the magic of industry converts forests so beautiful that they make Heaven seem like a wind-up toy into wastes, thickets, & spacings so impenetrable that they make Hell seem like a roadside picnic area. — FWS 5 June 1989, at Hirsch Creek Park, at the N end of Kitimat, BC.

Wilson EO. 1985. The biological diversity crisis: A challenge to science. Issues in Science and Technology 2: 20-29. — notes that whenever an interesting phenomenon is discovered by a systematist or organism-focused researcher, its study is usually taken over by a question-oriented biologist, whose field then gets sole credit for the progress in our understanding. - Wayne Maddison

...let us not provoke one another to wrath. Let us not kindle in each other this fire of hell; much less blow it up into a flame. If we could discern truth by that dreadful light, would it not be loss, rather than gain? For, how far is love, even with many wrong opinions, to be preferred before truth itself without love! - John Wesley.

It is important to distinguish between reductionism as a research tactic and reductionism as a philosophy — the latter is the folly of modernism, the former is a necessity of science. Vandermeer, ARES 1995 26:216, Alternative Agriculture.

the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell from Bruce Coblentz

Marx... saw modern science as something that arose out of the incentive structure of capitalism. Rosenberg, Scientific American, 265(6):158, December 1991.


(return to Table of Contents).
Kitchen mottos transcribed in the move to the Store - March 2003:

The BCKCDB: every month, an independent perspective on Canada's political, economic, and cultural life.
FWS 6 Jan 199-

Why is taxation without representation such a big deal, but everybody accepts education without consent? FWS 11 Dec 1996.

You know it's really winter when you start thinking of the frost on the windows as insulation.
FWS 31 Dec 1996

Phone me at work. I'm at work. I know I'm at work because all of my stuff is around me. Ken Storey 4 April 1997

It's just awe-inspiring how little exercise is involved in sitting in a chair. FWS 20 April 1997

...and whatever time it's gotten to be will be the time it is. FWS (planning a field trip) 21 April 1997

We do have big areas in our house that are devoted to storage of perfectly frivolous squalor. FWS 3 June 1997

All trails end in Salal - but we can still put flax oil on our millet. J.T. Wood 8 June 1997

Hamilton is in Edmonton tonight. CBC Sports 21 Aug 1997

The hypochondriac: "I don't know what's wrong with me. I seem to be getting better. I think I'll die." JHS 2 Oct 1997

Mom's thinitry (=thinking): 1.6 miles per km. (JHS)

It's more than an environmental issue, it's a HEALTH issue! CBC Morning 20 Feb 1998

Nobody tells me anything, really... just enough to keep me from working. FWS 20 May 1998

The opposite of virtue is e-mail. FWS 21 June 1998

It's not a paradox, it's a symbol of a great stupid country. (Russia, about not co-burying Lenin & Nicholas - 11 July 1998)

Television was invented only because some People didn't have the opportunity to watch Goats eating. - FWS, 8 Nov 1998

It's only by refusing to solve the little problems that there's any chance of coming to grips with the bigger ones. FWS 7 Dec 1998.

Daddy Terms ('99): Squid breath, Pig eyes, scab heart. (JHS)

If anybody would ever build a kitchen that was big enough... everything would be too far apart.
FWS 24 Jan 1999

You can always tell a literate person because you can hear the parentheses.
FWS 31 Jan 1999

They never say "People like us totally misunderstood Jesus when He came." FWS 25 Feb 1999.

Electricity makes time go faster.
FWS 8 June 1999

In the olden days you had to be rich to be unhealthy, now you only have to be poor to be unhealthy.
JHS 18 Aug 1999.

Murphy's Mantra: the guy whom we had asked to help us has become a problem in himself. AKS 29 Aug 1999

It is exhausting to live, in the midst of an ecologically insensitive commercial culture, with the awareness that every mouthful and action is political, but the only alternative is to acquiesce in the destruction of the habitats and species we love. - FWS Sept 1999

It must be sitting in class being taught stuff that you don't understand that opens the hole that televison plunges into. FWS 25 Oct 1999.

I've shown unusual cunning in closing the paint can and washing out the brushes. JHS 18 Nov 1999

Religion has such a shallow hold on most People.
FWS 30 Dec 1999

Welcome to the 21st, or Mudpuppy, century!
FWS 1 Jan 2000

Obstacles are what you see when you lose sight of your goals. LM 12/03/0-

Fred Schueler is phoning with his calling card. Do you blame him for all the mess he's left behind, or would you like to talk? JHS (for Bell Canada) 18 May 2000

Just remember that everything is my fault, and then stop mentioning it. FWS 26 June 2000

Nothing tastes better than Pumpkin pie, unless it's more Pumpkin pie. AKS 12 Oct 2000

I called the doctor, and the doctor said, please leave a message until you're dead. FWS & AKS, 8 Nov 2000

I think there's some truth in the fact... CBC 10 Nov 2000

In the beginning God made a mess, and Jennie was his helper. FWS 3 Jan 2001

That's the advantage of filing... you know right where to go to know that you've lost it. FWS 21 Feb 2001.

I love the way they say "innernational." That doesn't really mean "international," it's American, and it means "inner-national." FWS Saturday evening PBS, 11 May 2001

Sound Public Policy is that which makes as many people as possible RICH, not considering how many people it makes POOR. AKS 11 June 2001

When the good get going, the going gets good. JHS 20 Oct 2001

The man who murdered his wife in Gatineau has turned himself into the Police. CBC Ottawa - 9 August 2002.

Freedom's just another word for not caring about the quality of your work. Dilbert


(return to Table of Contents).
The Golden Boughs (as displayed at Winter Solstice celebrations):

Near the Winter Solstice the residents of Bishops Mills, in Upper Canada, slash the head from a pollarded Negundo Maple and state that they have slain the Graham Wafer, or Weirs Ghost, or the Winter King. The fallen head is garlanded with the Wild Cucumber, and left lying beside the tree. (Frazer, Golden Bough, 1994, iX:ixxi:2493)

Near the Winter Solstice the residents of Bishops Mills, in Upper Canada, repair to Park Lot 'M' or to the Limerick forest, and slash limbs from volunteer Sylvestre Pines, stating that they have slain the Graham Wafer, or Weirs Ghost, or Invasive Alien Regeneration. The fallen branches are brought into the house, where the needles and resin make an awful mess. (Frazer, Golden Bough, 2005, iX:ixxi:2493)

At the Winter Solstice the residents of Bishops Mills, in Upper Canada, dream of the Limerick Foop Tree, an evasive once-compound broad-leaved Angiosperm of extreme rarity and At Such Risk that it can be diverted between the genera Fraxinus and Carya by the prayers of a Wiccan or the wishes of a Forest Manager. Knowledge of these matters fades as the irritated wives of the visionaries ply them with Apple juice and cookies. (Frazer, Golden Bough, 2006, iX:ixxi:2493)

(return to Table of Contents).
Bishops Mills General Maxims -

I find that life is one long lesson in my unfitness for doing the things I think most need to be done. (FWS 18 Oct 2002, Limerick message to Fred McFarland, cf Lister Sinclair's "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly.")

Karen Rathbun wrote:
> That's one good thing about a deadline — there comes a day when, for better or worse, it's behind you...
* I don't know where you've been getting your deadlines, but they haven't got the persistence or tenacity of EOBM deadlines. Obviously shoddy stock; perhaps they're seconds. When we pass one deadline there's barely respite enough to get half a night's sleep before the next one is overdue.

Hamilton's Law: Actions taken to make things easier for an arrogant Person are invisible to her.

Tomes' Law: Your full strength is often enough to break the tool or material you're working on.

I make coffee nervous.
Joseph Fox - from Corey Wood

The almost unendurable tedium of optimism - FWS 1 April 2003.

The vocal pieces often praised the beautiful lakes, volcanoes and forests of Nicaragua. It always makes me feel good to see such pride in the 'patria' whatever that homeland might be. Never mind that the lakes are dead from pollution and the forests nearly denuded from illegal logging of hardwood virgin forests. They love it all anyway and maybe if they love it enough, they'll try to take care of the environment some day. It hasn't happened yet. - Bev Rolfe, Life in Managua, Chapter 27, 18 Aug 2003.

Honesty and hard work are required of radicals, while the orthodox can doze over their dogmas. - Joan Robinson, Collected Economic Papers, V:119.

Be patient with poor, stupid people, eh? - AKS 14h03 - 9 Dec 2003.

He didn't find any answer in prayer, so he took to drink. He didn't find any answer in drink either, but at least it helped him forget the question. - unattributed quote on scrap of paper, 29 April 2001 (not found by Google searches, April 2004, May 2005, March 2006).

First God created idiots. That was for practice. Then He created school boards. - Mark Twain (inspired by school bannings of Huckleberry Finn), quoted on Definitely Not the Opera, Radio I, 3 Jan 2004.

You don't really understand minus forty degrees until you've tried it at four o'clock in the morning. - Anthony Germaine CBC Radio One (Ottawa) 07h28, 16 Jan 2004.

As the writings of these authors are incomprehensible to me I am naturally not able to criticize them. I can do no more than apologize for the fact that all their eloquence and learning leave in my mind only bewilderment and dumb hostility. A.D. Richie, 1923. Scientific Method, Footnote, p 197.

Cities are fascinating things to study (though not, for me, to live in). Marston Bates 1955. The Prevalence of People. p 259. (cf Bertie Woooster, "I can't live in Liverpool!" Well, of course, lots of people do, or so I've been given to understand... Jeeves & the Feudal Spirit, chapter 22).

For simple items regulated by natural laws, we can often infer existence without actual observation. But for complex items of natural history, unrepeatable in their unique and detailed glory, and crucially dependent upon a contingent and unpredictable sequence of prior historical states, we cannot know their existence unless the paltry and grossly imperfect records of history leave direct evidence. Stephen Jay Gould, 1998, Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms, p. 194

In modern society, there appears to be a negative correlation between the amount of attention devoted to biodiversity and the actual skills of its recognition. Joerg Ewald, On The Status Of Phytosociology As A Discipline, BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS No. 326 April 8, 2004

I would like to submit that Aleta in particular is an input-output buffer for major events and disasters. It's almost like she's magnetic for them. Anita Miles, 12 Feb 2004

Zeke Sieglaff and his wife were forced to flee their iguana-infested home about five years ago. "We had to move out," he said. "They told us to turn off the air conditioner and let it decay. ... It's not good." Wendy Fullerton, 26 April 2004.

Is there anyone around the world who is actively tracking invasive weeds via remote sensing applications as part of an established on-going management program? Alan Dayeh, 30 Apr 2004 (Aliens-L)

...together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat. JRR Tolkein (Galadriel, FotR, The Mirror of Galadriel)

Whoever is using water like that has got to stop! (a shower-scalded cry) Marc-Andre Brisson, Cochrane Ontario, 21 May 2004.

People who don't spend much time thinking about things can make it too easy on themselves. Ken Dryden, The House, 10 July 2004.

Once in a generation, a Wallace may be found physically, mentally, and morally qualified to wander unscathed through the [boreal] wilds of America and of Asia; to form magnificent collections as he wanders; and withal to think out sagaciously the conclusions suggested by his collections. - Thoman Henry Huxley, Man's Place in Nature, 1863.

Why can I never set my heart on a possible thing? - Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969

The truth is never on the side of those who don't provide an explanation for their actions. FWS, 23h04, 23 October 2004.

The problem with e-mail is that it blurs the line between inactivity and over-exertion. FWS, 1 November 2004.

...indeed, in most seed plants, the distinction between stem and leaf is clear, both positionally and ontogenetically, but that is best interpreted as our good fortune that nature largely maintains that distinction, rather than that stem and leaf are somehow archetypes. Curtis Clark, on [TAXACOM] 6 Dec 2004

I've tried to replace language such as "Leveraging its unique collection and innovative education programs to its advantage" with something like "making appropriate use of collections and educational programs," but I don't know how successful this has been. I hear on the Radio just now that these documents assembled from uncongealed snippets of thought are in fact unintelligible to everybody, which may be a comforting sign that I'm not totally disjunct from the current century, but it doesn't make the present task any easier. - fws, 9 Jan 2005

In a way, there isn't really anyone in power who honestly cares about... [whatever they're regulating]; they believe that the rules were made to insure that, and their job is to care about whether the rules are being followed. Barbara Walker, Sudbury Valley. List, 18 March, 2005.

EOBM Programming Policy: We're going to lead them into the wilderness of their own preconceptions. FWS, 09h22, 21 March 2005.

It has become traditional for the United States to insist that others abide by rules that they have no intention of following. Ian Williams, Radio One, 11 May 2005.

You know the funny thing about people is that they always think they're doing right. Arthur Ransome, The Picts and the Martyrs, Chapter 13.

The alternative is to stop doing what's wrong! caller on Cross Country Checkup (about exploitative western activities that induce terrorism) 10 July 2005.

Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited... nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses. Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach on the causes for the apparent suicide of Col. Ted Westhusing, a military ethicist who volunteered to go to Iraq.

[The] two fundamental steps of scientific thought - the conjecture and refutation of Popper - have little place in the usual conception of intelligence. If something is to be dismissed as inadequate, it is surely not Darwin [, whose] works manifest the activity of a mind seeking for wisdom, a value which conventional philosophy has largely abandoned. Ghiselen, 1969. Triumph of the Darwinian Method, p 237.

That's the kind of country I want to live in: when you see the army marching in you say "Oh, oh, looks like we're in for some bad weather." Erwin Barker, Winnipeg Folk Festival via Radio One, 13 August 2005.

This is a virgin field pregnant with possibilities; we must not allow ourselves to be stampeded into stagnation. unattributed 'spoiled metaphors' cited in Fowler's English Usage.

Many neodarwinians seem specialists of awful formulations put around sound theories. Pierre Deleporte TAXACOM, 2 Nov 2005 12:43

Does God want People to frantically rush around trying to find matching clothes so they can worship Him? FWS 6 Nov 2005.

I'm for making pot legal simply to tick off the Americans. Lorne Elliott, Madly off in all Directions, 9 December 2005.


(return to Table of Contents).
Out of Apartment One — transcriptions before washing the fridge in October 2005.

On-the-rocks is no longer just a beverage, it's our relationship. — JHS, 31(?) Oct 2005

At least it shows that these people are rushing to a job... so they should be able to afford the ticket. FWS of OPP speed trap catching traditional early morning zoom-throughs at the corner in Bishops Mills, 24 Nov 2004.

Polling shows that there are more Americans that think like Canadians [55 million] than there are Canadians. Stephen Clarkson, CBC Radio I, 30 Nov 2004.

My only ambition this year is to be successful. Then everything else will fall into place. Timothhy Thomas - 17 May 2005.

========================

Oh to be a violator!
Oh to cross that double line!
(and especially at a railway
where collision is the fine).

and for the cellphoner:

Do you have a known location
are you on the planet Earth?
Can you tell me your vocation
for whatever it is worth?

(6 Sept 2005)

========================
for those dressing for indifference:

Oh to be a total failure;
Oh to lose both knife and pen!
And to top it off your goggles
So you cannot search for them. (June 2005).

=========================

...the rest of this transcription was lost.

(return to Table of Contents).
Subject: Maxims from the Palm memo files
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 20:48:08 -0600
From: Aleta Karstad <karstad [at] pinicola.ca>


"History could be as early as next week" — 13 January 2005, Brent Beckett, San Diego (Shawn Carlson's brother)

"Huxley was thoroughly at his ease with the work, and looked forward cheerfully to combining his two favorite pleasures - of discovering new scientific truth and 'jamming' it 'down the throats of fools.'" Apes, Angels and Victorians p375 — Willian Irvine 1955

"Applied to the world as representative of all the world, facts become superstitions" — Julian Jaynes, "The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" p. 443

'for, indeed, truth is made, not found, and to diagnose truth is as hard as to diagnose virtue.' Bunge, Myth of Simplicity, p 99.

"Nature provides exceptions to every rule" — Margaret Fuller

Re: Regularities in Nature: Irregularity is just a regularity you don't understand" FWS 21 June 2003

"Why is Diversity important? If you can ask that question you probably couldn't understand the answer" (Wade Davis, ethnobotanist, on Tapestry, CBC Radio 1, 16 Oct 2000)

"One thing I've learned... Is that doing what I WANT to do... is a bad idea." — JHS 19 April 2004

"If you feel the ground shake, it's my onion" JHS March 2004 (onion dancing in the Microwave)

"The Trinity is a very important part of Christianity even though nobody understands it". FWS 18 Oct 2003

"Our age was one of rebellion. This is an age of Disrespect" AKS in conversation with JHS + FWS regarding the language of youth.

18 Oct 2003: "If I had known what British Columbia was like, I wouldn't have been content with a mere visit - I'd have been born here." Stephen Leacock, quoted in Geist Magazine, April 2003

If you're not living on the edge - You're taking up too much space! (OFTP newsletter, fall 2000)

"Let your light so shine before men that they don't think you're hiding under a bushel" FWS 16 May 2002 Long Lake campsite, Cochrane, Ont — in reference to the idea of tinting the station wagon windows.

"It's funny the sort of peace that a good solid failure, properly appreciated, can bring, if a person accepts it in the spirit in which God intends it." Molly Wolf, Sabbath Blessing "The Light Fixture" (about old house wiring) 7 Sept 2002

"You can't sell tickets to a potlatch" — FWS 30 Jan 2003 re: CMN staff seem to realize data release policy not applying to the 30 Years Later Project

"That's the problem with them being dead - you can't breed from the good ones" - about having to abandon a sharp insulin needle so old that the markings had worn off the barrel. FWS in Eden Mills, 9 September 2003

"Toronto builders know everything except how little they know" Jim White, Faith & Science mtg 21 June 2005

FWS: "I wish when you took a shirt off over your head, that its buttons would undo overnight."
AKS: "I'll train a house elf to do that, if I ever catch one."
FWS: "We've got three house elves... and their names are Squalor, Chaos, and Dismay." 6:50,17 April 2001

"Things that make sense are so unpopular these days"

"If you keep a diary sufficiently detailed for a biographer to work with, you don't have time to do anything that is memorable enough for a biography." FWS at bedtime, 24 June 2001

"Even a Moose, when it's that big, has lost a lot of its puppy charm." FWS, admiring Becky the Dog, 27 June 2001

"He left the following afternoon, and we found to our surprise, that although he hadn't actually done anything while he was present, everything was much easier in his absence" Anonymous, from "The Climbers Club Journal 1967" reprinted in the anthology "The Games Climbers Play," edited by Ken Wilson, Sierra Club Paperback 1978.

"There's a couple of sentences in there that come right around and bite themselves on the tail, and then bleed to death." FWS, 27 July 2001, in response to an article in the Kemptville Advance

"Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" Winston Churchill

"First, make a list every morning of everything you have to do that day... then give yourself a week to do it" FWS 8 Oct 2001

"There's always a northern limit to everything - except ice." FWS 6 Jan 2002

"The essence of Art is its limitations" — G.K. Chesterton

Of space flight: "It looks effortless, but it's just barely possible" (an astronaut on the CBC).

"Don't complain about the weather. If you're all rained on an' all, it just means you're either with the just or the unjust folks." FWS, leaving Almonte Convention 2002 on a very humid day.

"I wish there were some way to justify me being pissed off at everything" Jennifer, depressed, 5 Feb 2004

"...to lift up the rock of their own being, and look at the reasons scurrying around underneath" Bill Richardson, CBC "If I Live to be One Hundred" book review

"'The Real World' ls a delusion and a deception that is only in your head to corroborate a twisted view of life from your unique set of experiences, with absolutely nothing to do with what anyone else perceives as their 'Real World'" — JHS spoken to Fred in Weirs House kitchen — 24 November 2005

a message to Fred from Tamar Grimm, 22 June 2005: Participate in "communication while utilizing the discipline of
detachment - Trust that you will be heard... Efficiency helps the effectiveness".

"The importance of correspondence with experts in the study of what you've observed is that they know what isn't known. Texts and field guides appropriately emphasize what is known, skating around the questions and problems. So in entering into corresdondance with experts themselves, we both offer them new information, and recieve a sense of what observations will be useful." FWS & AKS in discussion about John Macoun's autobiography — 30 May 2005

"We want to raise up our children to BE amateurs, not just call them amateurs because they are children." AKS at SAS conference, Las Vegas 2005

"If people aren't laughing at you, you aren't being innovative enough" John Powell, founder & President of JP Aerospace — 14 January 2004 SAS conference, Las Vegas

"I'm not a photographer. I draw and paint for my fine resolution" — AKS 18 Jan 2005 California

"I do not want to touch any object in this world without my eyes testifying to the truth that everything is My Beloved.... Something has happened to my understanding of existence that now makes my heart always full of wonder and kindness." Hafiz (Where Does Real Poetry Come From; engraved on polished marble in a gallery in Nevada City, California) also with poems by Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) — 18 Jan 2005


(return to Table of Contents).
Collected Definitions of Science.

These are definitions of science as I've encountered them, mostly in books, without any directed searching of the the internet. Also see Steven Dutch's, What Pseudoscience Tells us About Science for a discussion of differences between science and pseudoscience.


Science: the discipline of creating secure agreement from ignorance and discord by agreeing to value stories only for their vulnerability to being shown to be incorrect, and by agreeing to believe stories only to the extent that they have survived attempts to falsify them and are consistent with other such unfalsified stories. (FWS: November 2004, Jan 2006, June 2008, Dec 2009).

A theory is scientific only if it is refutable by a conceivable event. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Karl Popper )

The most informative and useful delineation between those pursuits understood as scientific and those of the pseudo-sciences, is that science integrates positive and negative feedback loops [that] are based on critical analysis, empirical testing, and reformulation of falsifiable statements. This process serves to maximize the accumulation of accurate statements and minimize the accumulation of erroneous statements within an integrated system of statements which describe the physical universe. In other words, the primary function of science, and the thing that makes it different from pseudo-science, is constructive self-criticism. ( Mark Albins, 7 February 2007)

Viewed from without, science appears to be a body of answers; viewed from within, it is a way of asking questions... The truly reliable guide to the importance of a theory is its utility in the dynamics of investigation, and not the emotional appeal of the finished product. (Ghiselen, 1969. Triumph of the Darwinian Method, p 236).

Science is, if anything, a human endeavor, capturing knowledge in language. (John Limber, Language & Consciousness, Refections on the Dawn of Consciousness, p. 171)

To harmonize objects in time and space, without presuming to determine the conditions that can rule their deepest being: to establish an experimental chain of succession in nature, not a union of ‘ontological’ causality; to see, in other words, and not to explain – this... is the scientific point of view. (Teilhard de Chardin, 1959, The Phenomenon of Man, chapter 2).

Science: criticised and systematized knowledge, based on observation and experiment, summed up in the tersest and simplest empirical formulae or “laws,” which can be verified by all who able to use the methods. (Thompson, Arthur, 1940. The Beauty of Nature. p. 484 in Stewart Morgan & William Thomas, Opinions and Attitudes in the Twentieth Century. Thomas Nelson & Sons, New York. viii+623pp).

Science is an exploration of the material universe that seeks natural, orderly relationships among observed phenomena and that is self-testing [and in which] the best answers are theories that apply to a wide range of phenomena, that are subject to extensive tests, and that are suggestive of further questions. (George Gaylord Simpson, 1964, This View of Life, p. 91).

Science – The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company, cited by Brennan Caverhill at CARCNET 2005, Ottawa).

Science – An interconnected series of concepts and conceptual schemes that have developed as a result of experimentation and observation and are fruitful of further experimentation and observation.... comprising: (1) speculative general ideas, (2) deductive reasoning, and (3) experimentation. (James Conant, quoted by George Gaylord Simpson, 1964, This View of Life, p. 89).

Science – the study of those judgments concerning which universal agreement can be obtained. (Norman Campbell, quoted by George Gaylord Simpson, 1964, This view of Life, p. 94).

Glossary Definition of Science: Our knowledge of the natural world and the process through which that knowledge is built. The process of science relies on the testing of ideas with evidence gathered from the natural world. Science as a whole cannot be precisely defined but can be broadly described by a set of key characteristics... [presented too vacuously to be reproduced here].

Scientists use... facts... to increase human knowledge. They write down the facts which have been discovered and classify them in proper order so that they may be reused again. This classified knowledge is Science. (Lumpus, George A, and John W.B. shore. 1946. Elementary General Science. Macmillan Company of Canada, Toronto. xvii+362 pp, p. 7).

Science is the means devised to minimize the discrepancies between the inner [private, individual] and outer [public, material] worlds and to pursue the ideal of a realistic concept of the universe. (George Gaylord Simpson, This View of Life, 1964 p viii).

Science is not the mere collection of facts, which are infinitely numerous and mostly uninteresting, but the attempt of the human mind to order these facts into interesting patterns... The imposition of design on nature is in fact an act of artistic creation on the part of the man of science, though it is subject to a discipline more exacting than of poetry or painting. (C. N. Hinshelwood, The Structure of Physical Chemistry. Oxford 1951).

Jerry Kitich from Canada writes: so for the record here is my brief understanding of the scientific method: observation of facts via experiment or exploration, then a creation of a hypothesis to explain those observations or data which when it stands up to further testing, experimentation and observation becomes a theory and no longer a hypothesis and if proved absolute becomes a law such as the law of gravity, Newton's laws of motion etc. Include independent verification, peer review and ongoing review of the scientific literature and that's about it. (posted 31/Jan/2009 at 7:29 PM EST).

[Science's] unique objective is the systematization of valid human experience in satisfying patterns that can be described exactly. (R. E. Gibson, Science, Art, and Education, Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, 1953, pp 171-172

"...in science, never miss a chance to turn a conversation into an argument." (Justin Congdon, 12h12, 18 March 2008, Toronto Zoo Turtle Stewardship and Management Workshop).

Science is a branch of economics where funding is used to provide employment for projects with high levels of predictability and repeatability, so if a scientist is lost to accident or alternative employment, the project can be continued by a near enough clone. – Stephen Thorpe ("tongue in cheeky"), on TAXACOM Thu, 14 Jan 2010 11:35:11 +1300...

Our system of science is of course objective on certain levels, it genuinely is, but on the funding level it is highly ideologically directed. (Bruce Alexander, the Walrus, 4(10):38, December 2007).

Science is a completely different enterprise than it used to be, and if you just let everybody do what they want, if you would give them the same freedom that they used to enjoy, most of them would be doing things that society didn't particularly want them to do. (Daniel Greenberg, Ages Four and Up from Child Rearing).

In my estimation, science only progresses through intuition, and the purpose of the scientific method is to provide post-hoc evaluation of intuitive insights. – Curtis Clark, on TAXACOM, 25 Jan 2010 06:49:49.

This temporary quality is an integral part of scientific progress... Because of the nature of science itself, we view with equanimity the prospect of thousands of minds in thousands of laboratories preparing to change our lives. (James Burke, 1985, The Day the Universe Changed, p 125).

Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions. It differs, however from most other branches of human activity in that no only are the pathways of scientific thought determined by the presuppositions of the scientists but their goals are the testing and revision of old presuppositions and the creation of new. (Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, 1979, chapter II)

In English, and specifically in American English, the words 'science' and 'scientific' have been limited in some way, still very hard to define, to something less than the whole universe of organized knowledge. (MacKenkenzie, W.J.M. Biological ideas in politics. An essay on political adaptivity. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1978; 93+1pp., notes, sm.8vo, paper, pp 12-13).

Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation and merciless to fallacy in logic. (T.H. Huxley, The Crayfish, quoted by Gould in Full House, p 8)

True science investigates and brings to human perception such truths and such knowledge as the people of a given time and society consider most important. Art transmits these truths from the region of perception to the region of emotion. (Leo Tolstoy, 1898, Chapter 10, What is Art?, quoted by Dave Barry in Cyberspace, 1996, p 111, from Microsoft Bookshelf CD-ROM).

The word Science itself has become a vague reassuring noise, with a very ill-defined meaning and a powerful emotional charge: it is now applied to all sorts of unsuitable subjects and used as a cover for careless and incomplete thinking in dozens of fields.... There is no such thing as Science. There are only Sciences, departments of knowledge acquired in a special way. They do not always agree. On several important subjects they do not even meet, far less cohere. Gilbert Highet, 1954. Man's Unconquerable Mind.

Science is the twin sister of mankind.... the crown of evolution [situated] in a supreme act of collective vision obtained by a pan-human effort of investigation and construction. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin “The Phenomenon Of Man,” Book 4, Chapter 1, The Collective Issue).

In the welter of conflicting fanaticisms, one of the few unifying forces is scientific truthfulness, by which I mean the habit of basing our beliefs upon observations and inferences as impersonal, and as divested of local and temperamental bias, as is possible for human beings. (Bertrand Russell, 1945. A History of Western Philosophy.).

Marx... saw modern science as something that arose out of the incentive structure of capitalism. (Rosenberg, Scientific American, 265(6):158, December 1991).

Modern Science is a result of the union of the worker and the thinker in the same person. (Bates, Marston. 1955 [1962 edition]. The Prevalence of People, p. 177. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. xiii+283 pp).

Science is faith in doubt. (Kemptville Faith and Science forum, 1999-2007).

Science is a flickering candle in an immense and towering darkness. ( Richard H. Zander, Bryology Group, Missouri Botanical Garden, approximate quote from Carl Sagan, probably from "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.”).

Grandpa, that's easy ... science is checkin' stuff out to see how it works! (Steve Mockford’s grandson Cole - age 4).

Science knows only one commandment — contribute to science. (Bertolt Brecht).

The glory of Science is to make secure agreement out of ignorance and discord, just as the glory of God is to make righteous men out of sinners. – (Almonte (Ontario) Convention notes, 2001.).

It is the glory of science that it can find the patterns in spite of the noise. (Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, p 368)

Nothing is more vulnerable than scientific theory, which is an ephemeral attempt to explain facts, and not an everlasting truth in itself. (Carl Jung, 1964.Man and His Symbols. New York: Dell, 1968. p. 82).

Science is a living, changing thing (well, it tries to be, but it gets subverted by dogmatism like every other human endeavor), and, particularly when it comes to understanding the human mind, has historically been very fluid. (Subject: [DSM] Re: Parental Disrepsect, Learning Levels, and Boredom, Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2007, From: Mike South To: discuss-sudbury-model@googlegroups.com)

Science has been slow to admit the different explanatory world of history into its domain – and... has... tended to denigrate history, when forced to a confrontation, by regarding any invocation of contingency as less elegant or less meaningful than explanations based directly on timeless “natural laws.” (Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: the Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, p 51).

Science is a very inexact science. (Francis R. Cook, National Museum of Natural Sciences, 12h00, 12 June 1987).



(return to Table of Contents).
2009 fridge transcriptions, in chronological order, except for the undated or those whose dates were lost. Three succulent-looking snappers were so smudged that they couldn't be recovered.


You can't compromise on saving land — they're not making it anymore! (fws 1 Jan 2008)

"Nonpartisan" is just another word for "liberal." (Prairie Home Companion, Lives of the Cowboys, Jan 2008)

You're a good egg. You just need to be sat on a little longer. (JHS 2 Feb 2008)

If you'd managed to "get me" in 1968, you'd have been able to get me while I still had an opinion on everything. (fws 15 March 2008)

Lawyers should be illegal. (Judy Courteau, 7 March 2008)

For news updated 44 hours a day, stay tuned to CBC Radio. (22h03, 26 March 2008)

I know a Dog who has a bone, she drops it on your toe, and of the pain that this can cause, she never seems to know. (fws 4 June 2008)

I was brought up as a Christian. That disqualifies me from participation in commercial society. (fws 18 June 2008)

They shouldn't think that they're making Nature feel good just because they're poking around in it. (JHS of Ontario Nature, Volunteers for Nature, 30 Aug 2008)

The spammer is certainly an industrious bird, awake at all hours of the morning, sending messages of cheating, sneaking, and greed. If only those who are working for good were as industrious as the spammer. Even right now, the spammer is back in 1976, labouring incessantly... it makes you think. (fws 8 Nov 2008).

Maybe you should nominate me for the Noodle Prize, which would be a companion to the Nobel Prize, to be awarded to the person who is most inefficient in his own eyes. (fws, looking for his gloves, 9 Dec 2008)

Remember the 'Universal Solvent' that would dissolve anything? Well, I've discovered what it is... Stupidity! (fws, 10 Dec 2008)

Let's live life as if we're making stories to tell (Nick Purdun DNTO, 20 Dec 2008)

He's got his virtues and his vices all mixed up when it comes to technology (Jenn Tanner, 16 Jan 2009)

Aleta in the morning: "This is a beautiful painting!" Jennifer: "Yes! I was telling you last night. That's why artists need to sleep." (26 Jan 2009)

AKS: By night I'll have all three views done. FWS: There's nothing like work for getting stuff done. (16h20, 28 Feb 2009)

Aleta: I was thinking of cooking up a fish head or two... does that sound good? Fred: I was thinking of lying in bed with a calender and trying to figure out whether the world is coming or going. (28 May 2009).

Fred Schueler suggests that all his friends who have had their faces stepped on by any kind of officialdom organize themselves into CUVB, the Canadian Union of Victims of Bureaucracy, a group dedicated to agitating for the humane treatment of Human Persons, and for the holistic treatment of complex problems. - 25 October 2009 at 4:20pm

Steve Garber: We need the same thing here south of the border, only it should be called the AUVB. And just for fun, we should round up the inhumane bureaucrats who took the greatest joy in their inhumanity, and string them up. Just to give them a taste of their own medicine. I think it would be good for the movement. - October 25 at 4:56pm

Fred Schueler: the problem is that they don't take any joy in their inhumanity (usually): they just do it as part of their "job," assuming that the regulations are as humane as they're meant to be. - October 26 at 12:01am

Steve Garber: What this world needs is excellent environmental bureaucrats. They are few and far between. A rare breed. - October 26 at 4:07am

Fred Schueler: in Canada they do exist, and try to work for the Canadian Wildlife Service, where their hands are periodically chopped off by budget cuts. Many of them weary of this mutilation, however, and drift off into other societal roles, leaving residual dregs in many of the offices. - October 26 at 8:41am (first written on the fridge, and then discussed on facebook)


undated or date lost:

"Children," now playing everywhere.

[He'd suffered from] a paroxysm of candidity.

"Identifying land snails and slugs in Canada: introduced spasms and native grouchiness"

I don't need chips, I lust after chips. Haven't you heard that anyone who lusts after chips has already committed obesity with them in his heart? (fws, date lost)

Christianity, great religion, just never been tried. (Margaret Atwood, "debt")


(return to Table of Contents).

Bishops Mills Natural History Centre