Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
I am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer.
I am rarely happier than when spending entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.
There is no problem so complicated that you can't find a very simple answer to it if you look at it right.
And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before -- and thus was the Empire forged.
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. The Hingefreel people of Arkintoofle Minor did try to build spaceships that were powered by bad news but they didn't work particularly well and were so extremely unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere that there wasn't really any point in being there.
It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, 'as pretty as an airport.' Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort.
It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression "As pretty as an airport." Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only exception of this otherwise infallible rule), and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs.
Gordon Way's astonishment at being suddenly shot dead was nothing compared to his astonishment at what happened next.
The Somebody Else's Problem field is much simpler and more effective, and what's more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people's natural disposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain.
A five-week sand blizzard? said Deep Thought haughtily. You ask this of me who have contemplated the very vectors of the atoms in the Big Bang itself? Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff.
Ford carried on counting quietly. This is about the most aggressive thing you can do to a computer, the equivalent of going up to a human being and saying Blood...blood...blood...blood.
Luckily, he went on, you have come to exactly the right place with your interesting problem, for there is no such word as 'impossible' in my dictionary. In fact, he added, brandishing the abused book, everything between 'herring' and 'marmalade' appears to be missing.
One always overcompensates for disabilities. I'm thinking of having my entire body surgically removed.
It's easy to think that as a result of the extinction of the dodo, we are now sadder and wiser, but there's a lot of evidence to suggest that we are merely sadder and better informed.
It was one of those pictures that children are supposed to like but don't. Full of endearing little animals doing endearing things, you know?
The story goes that I first had the idea for The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy while lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck.
The impossible did not bother him unduly. If it could not possibly be done, then obviously it had been done impossibly.
A theory of the universe that states: If anyone finds out what the universe is for, it will disappear and be replaced by something more bizarrely inexplicable.
I really didn't foresee the Internet. But then, neither did the computer industry. Not that that tells us very much of course -- the computer industry didn't even foresee that the century was going to end.
He didn't like to think of himself as the sort of person who giggled or sniggered, but he had to admit that he had been giggling and sniggering almost continuously for well over half an hour now.
Anything that thinks logically can be fooled by something else that thinks at least as logically as it does.
For millions of years, on average, one species became extinct every century.... We are now heaving more than a thousand different species of animals and plants off the planet every year.
Ever since Newton, we've done science by taking things apart to see how they work. What the computer enables us to do is to put things together to see how they work: we're now synthesized rather than analysed. I find one of the most enthralling aspects of computers is limitless communication.
Being offended by things is the world's big hobby at the moment. It's almost taken over from wearing goatee beards.
If everyone knew exactly what I was going to say, then there would be no point in my saying it, would there?
I tend not to read or watch Science Fiction, particularly not comedy Science Fiction. The point is that if it's less good than what I do, there's no point in reading it, if it's better than what I do it makes me depressed.
Nobleness was one word for making a fuss about the trivial inevitabilities of life, but there were others.
For as long as he could remember, he'd suffered from a vague nagging feeling of being not all there.
Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.
Trin Tragula--for that was his name--was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or as his wife would have it, an idiot.
Perhaps they are singing songs to you,' he said, 'and I just think they're asking me questions.' He paused again. Sometimes he would pause for days, just to see what it was like.
It's reassuring to realize that everybody is as stupid as you are and that all we are doing when we are standing in the kitchen wondering what we came in here for is woking.
If life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
As soon as Mr. Prosser realized that he was substantially the loser after all, it was as if a weight lifted itself off his shoulders: this was more like the world as he knew it.
Imagine he said, never even thinking, 'We are alone,' simply because it has never occurred to you to think that there's any other way to be.
Zaphod felt he was teetering on the edge of madness and wondered if he shouldn't just jump over and have done with it.
When we told our guide that we didn't want to go to all the tourist places he took us instead to the places where they take tourists who say that they don't want to go to tourist places. These places are, of course, full of tourists.
The more I think about our species the more I think we just do stuff and make up explanations later when asked. But it's not true that I would rather write than read. I would rather read than write. To be honest I would rather hang upside down in a bucket than write.
Could be. I'm a pretty dangerous dude when I'm cornered.
Yeah, said the voice from under the table, you go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.
Zaphod did not want to tangle with them and, deciding that just as discretion is the better part of valor, so was cowardice is the better part of discretion, he valiantly hid himself in a closet.
The fact that all of this was happening in virtual space made no difference. Being virtually killed by virtual laser in virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.
And so the problem remained; lots of people were mean, and most were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.
If you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language.
The big corporations are suddenly taking notice of the web, and their reactions have been slow. Even the computer industry failed to see the importance of the Internet, but that's not saying much. Let's face it, the computer industry failed to see that the century would end.
There was one planet off in the seventh dimension that got used as a ball in a game of intergalactic bar billiards. Got potted straight into a black hole.
The books people are writing today, they're too long. You get a little bit of plot, and then pages and pages of Creative Writing. They teach classes in how to do this. They should teach classes in how to stop!
What is the point? We assume that every time we do anything we know what the consequences will be, i.e., more or less what we intend them to be. This is not only not always correct. It is wildly, crazily, stupidly, cross-eyed-blithering-insectly wrong!
But for a moment Dirk had a sense of inifinite loss and sadness that somewhere among the frenzy of information noise that daily rattled the lives of men he thought he might have heard a few notes that denoted the movements of gods.
There was a terribly ghastly silence. There was a terribly ghastly noise. There was a terribly ghastly silence.
Everybody has their moment of great opportunity in life. If you happen to miss the one you care about, then everything else becomes eerily easy.
The only person for whom the house was in any way special was Arthur Dent, and that was only because it happened to be the one he lived in.
Wail, wail, screech, wail, honk, honk, squeak went the bagpipes, increasing the captain's already considerable pleasure at the thought that any moment now they might stop.
We notice things that don't work. We don't notice things that do. We notice computers, we don't notice pennies. We notice e-book readers, we don't notice books.
Their minds sang with the ecstatic knowledge that either what they were doing was completely and utterly and totally impossible or that physics had a lot of catching up to do.
Nobody got murdered before lunch. But nobody. People weren't up to it. You needed a good lunch to get both the blood-sugar and blood-lust levels up.
What does it matter? Science has achieved some wonderful things, of course, but I'd far rather be happy than right any day.
The fact is, I don't know where my ideas come from. Nor does any writer. The only real answer is to drink way too much coffee and buy yourself a desk that doesn't collapse when you beat your head against it.
Dirk looked at her expressionlessly. Apart from being extremely good-looking in a blondish, willowyish kind of way, she was dressed well in an I don't care what I wear, just any old thing that's lying around kind of way that relies on extremely careful about what you leave lying around.
Here's what the Encyclopedia Galactica has to say about alcohol. It says that alcohol is a colourless volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars and also notes its intoxicating effect on certain carbon-based life forms.
Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast.
Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what's so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what's so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they wanted to be.
He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.
Goosnargh, said Ford Prefect, which was a special Betelgeusian word he used when he knew he should say something but didn't know what it should be.
Will you stop counting!' snarled Zaphod. 'Yes,' said Ford Prefect, 'in three minutes and thirty-five seconds.
I've never understood all this fuss people make about the dawn. I've seen a few and they're never as good as the photographs, which have the additional advantage of being things you can look at when you're in the right frame of mind, which is usually around lunchtime.
The longest and most destructive party ever held is now into its fourth generation and still no one shows any signs of leaving. Somebody did once look at his watch, but that was eleven years ago now, and there has been no follow up.
Life... is like a grapefruit. It's orange and squishy, and has a few pips in it, and some folks have half a one for breakfast.
Ah, thank you,' said Ford. He and Arthur took their jynnan tonnyx. Arthur sipped his, and was surprised to discover it tasted very like a whisky and soda.
Yes but, Arthur, that's ridiculous. People think that if you just say 'hallucinations' it explains anything you want it to explain and eventually whatever it is you can't understand will just go away.
Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses have been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble, they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you.
What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still know where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Oh, er, well the hatchway in front of us will open in a few moments and we will shoot out into deep space I expect and asphyxiate. If you take a lungful of air with you you can last for up to thirty seconds, of course.
One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You are very tall or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty foot well, are you all right?
Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
I want to make a headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let¡s call it my stomach.
Arthur lay in startled stillness on the acceleration couch. He wasn't certain whether he had just got space-sickness or religion.
If you ever find you need help again, you know, if you are in trouble, need a hand out of a tight corner, please, don't hesitate to get lost.
The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.
The Answer to the Great Question... Of Life, the Universe and Everything... Is... Forty-two,' said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
Could be. I'm a pretty dangerous dude when I'm cornered. Yeah, said the voice from under the table, you go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.
My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I am therefore excused from saving universes.
You know, said Arthur, it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young. Why, what did she tell you? I don't know, I didn't listen.
You come to me for advice, but you can't cope with anything you don't recognize. Hmmm. So we'll have to tell you something you already know but make it sound like news, eh Well, business as usual , I suppose.
The kakapo is a bird out of time. If you look one in its large, round, greeny-brown face, it has a look of serenely innocent incomprehension that makes you want to hug it and tell it that everything will be all right, thought you know that it probably will not be.
Why' is the only question that bothers people enough to have an entire letter of the alphabet named after it. The alphabet does not go 'A B C D What? When? How?' but it does go 'V W X Why? Z.
Being virtually killed by a virtual laser in a virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.
I have terrible periods of lack of confidence. I just don't believe I can do it and no evidence to the contrary will sway me from that view.
One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of accidentally becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem involved in becoming your own father or mother that a broadminded and well-adjusted family can't cope with.
Sorry, did I say something wrong? said Marvin, dragging himself on regardless. Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway so I don't know why I bother to say it, oh God I'm so depressed. Here's another one of those self-satisfied doors. Life! Don't talk to me about life.
Don't blame you, said Marvin and counted five hundred and ninety-seven thousand million sheep before falling asleep again a second later.
The waiter approached. 'Would you like to see the menu?' he said. 'Or would you like to meet the Dish of the Day?' 'Huh?' said Ford. 'Huh?' said Arthur. 'Huh?' said Trillian. 'That's cool,' said Zaphod. 'We'll meet the meat.
Generally, old media don't die. They just have to grow old gracefully. Guess what, we still have stone masons. They haven't been the primary purveyors of the written word for a while now of course, but they still have a role because you wouldn't want a TV screen on your headstone.
My capacity for happiness, he added, you could fit into a matchbox without taking out the matches first.
The actual building was old and dilapidated and remained standing more out of habit than from any inherent structural integrity.
Time affords us the ability to blame past errors on others while whole heartedly pronouncing our futures successes.
That young girl is one of the least benightedly unintelligent organic life forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.
There are two things you should remember when dealing with parallel universes. One, they're not really parallel, and two, they're not really universes.
The gorillas are not yet sufficiently advanced in evolutionary terms to have discovered the benefits of passports, currency-declaration forms, and official bribery, and therefore tend to wander backward and forward across the border as and when their beastly, primitive whim takes them.
Pardon me for breathing, which I never do any way so I don't know why I bother to say it, oh God, I'm so depressed.
Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.
All through my life I've had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was. No, said the old man, that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.
It can be very dangerous to see things from somebody else's point of view without the proper training.
The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder... Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.
It all sounds rather naive and sentimental to be talking about children laughing and dancing and singing together when we all know perfectly well that what children do in real life is snarl and take drugs.
The best conversation I had was over forty million years ago,' continued Marvin.
Again the pause. '
'And that was with a coffee machine.' He waited.
Siamese Cats have a way of staring at you. Those who have walked in on the Queen cleaning her teeth will know the expression.
It startled him even more when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute's Prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they really couldn't stand was a smart-ass.
Please relax, said the voice pleasantly, like a stewardess in an airliner with only one wing and two engines one of which is on fire, you are perfectly safe.
Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in; fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well! It must have been made to have me in it!
I will understand perfectly if you don't want to answer, but I will just keep pestering you until you do.
I don't want to die now! he yelled. I've still got a headache! I don't want to go to heaven with a headache, I'd be all cross and wouldn't enjoy it!
Shoeburyness (abs.n.) The vague uncomfortable feeling you get when sitting on a seat which is still warm from somebody else's bottom.
Arthur: If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it?
Ford: We're safe.
Arthur: Oh good.
Ford: We're in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet.
Arthur: Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of.
It's good to leave your room super-messy when you're away. Whoever tries to break into your room will thought it has already been ransacked.
Much to his annoyance, a thought popped into his mind. It was very clear and very distinct, and he had now come to recognize these thoughts for what they were. His instinct was to resist them.
Grown men, he told himself, in flat contradiction of centuries of accumulated evidence about the way grown men behave, do not behave like this.
A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.
So you can imagine what happens when a mainland species gets introduced to an island. It would be like introducing Al Capone, Genghis Khan and Rupert Murdoch into the Isle of Wight -- the locals wouldn't stand a chance.
As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst, and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful, and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger, unless they are an American.
Why are people born? Why do they die? Why do they want to spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?
I teleported home last night with Ron and Sid and Meg Ron stole Meggy's heart away and I got Sidney's leg.
I'm 48, which is a bit of a shock to me. Why only last year I thought I was a precocious young thing!
God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining.
The only thing nicer than a phone that didn't ring all the time (or indeed at all) was six phones that didn't ring all the time (or indeed at all).
I wrote an ad for Apple Computer: Macintosh -- We might not get everything right, but at least we knew the century was going to end.
And we'll be saying a big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere … and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.
It was his subconscious which told him this -- that infuriating part of a person's brain which never responds to interrogation, merely gives little meaningful nudges and then sits humming quietly to itself, saying nothing.
The old me knew. The old me cared. Fine, so far so good. Except that the old me cared so much that he actually got inside his own brain -- my own brain -- and locked off the bits that knew and cared, because if I knew and cared I wouldn't be able to do it.
A computer terminal is not some clunky old television with a typewriter in front of it. It is an interface where the mind and body can connect with the universe and move bits of it about.
Most of the time spent wrestling with technologies that don't quite work yet is just not worth it for end users, however much fun it is for nerds.