Some of the wisdom I've tried to live by most of my life, especially to rub her feet:
THE NOTEBOOKS OF LAZARUS LONG
by Robert Anson Heinlein
A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a
Sovereign ingredient for a happy marriage: Pay cash or do without. Interest
charges not only eat up a household budget; awareness of debt eats up
When the fox gnaws -- smile!
Take care of the cojones and the frijoles will take care of themselves. Try
to have getaway money -- but don't be fanatic about it.
Another ingredient for a happy marriage: budget the luxuries first!
And still another -- See to it that she has her own desk -- then keep your
hands off it!
And another -- in a family argument, if it turns out you are right --
apologize at once!
Formal courtesy between husband and wife is even more important than it is
Don't try to have the last word. You might get it.
Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well.
The shamans are forever yacking about their snake-oil "miracles." I prefer
the Real McCoy -- a pregnant woman.
If the universe has any purpose more important than topping a woman you love
and making a baby with her hearty help, I've never heard of it.
Dear, don't bore him with trivia or burden him with your past mistakes. The
happiest way to deal with a man is never to tell him anything he does not
need to know.
Rub her feet.
Always tell her she is beautiful, especially if she is not.
Money is the sincerest of all flattery. Women love to be flattered.
So do men.
A man does not insist on physical beauty in a woman who builds up his
morale. After a while he realizes that she is beautiful -- he just hadn't
noticed it at first.
A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything.
Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
"All's fair in love and war" -- what a contemptible lie!
It impossible for a man to love his wife wholeheartedly without loving all
women somewhat. I suppose that the converse must be true of women.
The more you love, the more you can love -- and the more intensely you love.
Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time
enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.
Everybody lies about sex.
Darling, a true lady takes off her dignity with her clothes and does her
whorish best. At other times you can be as modest and dignified as your
Men are more sentimental than women. It blurs their thinking.
"I CAME, I SAW, SHE CONQUERED." (The original Latin seems to have been
A whore should be judged by the same criteria as other professionals
offering services for pay -- such as dentists, lawyers, hairdressers,
physicians, plumbers, etc. Is she professionally competent? Does she give
good measure? Is she honest with her clients? It is possible that the percentage of honest and competent whores is higher than that of plumbers and much higher than that of lawyers. And enormously
higher than that of professors.
Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys; it's more
sanitary. Copulation is spiritual in essence -- or it is merely friendly exercise. On
second thought, strike out "merely." Copulation is not "merely" -- even when
it is just a happy pastime for two strangers. But copulation at its
spiritual best is so much more than physical coupling that it is different
in kind as well as in degree.
It is better to copulate than never.
Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have
invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what
they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand
special privileges, all the traffic will bear. they should never settle
merely for equality. For women, "equality" is a disaster.
Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of
wrongdoing -- and you don't have to go home in the cold.
But it's lonely.
Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Touch is the most fundamental sense. A baby experiences it, all over, before
he is born and long before he learns to use sight, hearing, or taste, and no
human being ever ceases to need it. Keep your children short on pocket money
-- but long on hugs.
Never crowd youngsters about their private affairs -- sex especially. When
they are growing up, they are nerve ends all over, and resent (quite
properly) any invasion of their privacy. Oh, sure, they'll make mistakes --
but that's their business, not yours. (You made your own mistakes, did you
Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.
To stay young requires unceasing cultivation of the ability to unlearn old
You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
All cats are not gray after midnight. Endless variety--
Always store beer in a dark place.
All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young
children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly
which can -- and must -- be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime
function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic
is possible. Attempting to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation
other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is
automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them
male) have tried endlessly -- and no doubt will keep on trying.
By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man
-- man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has
no enemy to help him.
Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then
Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second
If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion. It
has long been known that one horse can run faster than another --
but which one? Differences are crucial.
A fake fortuneteller can be tolerated. But an authentic soothsayer should be
shot on sight. Cassandra did not get half the kicking around she deserved.
Most "scientists" are bottle washers and button sorters.
If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people.
Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may
offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate
-- and quickly.
A motion to adjourn is always in order.
No state has the inherent right to survive through conscript troops and in
the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons:
"Come back with your shield, or on it." Later on, this custom declined. So
Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated out of
nothing, "blasphemy" is the most amazing -- with "obscenity" and "indecent
exposure" fighting it out for second and third place.
Cheops' Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
All men are created unequal.
A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.
There is only one way to console a widow. But remember the risk.
It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better
still to be a live lion.
And usually easier.
One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most
gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry. N.B.:
Circumstances can force your hand. So think ahead!
Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.
An elephant: A mouse built to government specifications.
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which
permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the
work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned,
and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny
minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a
society, the people slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck."
In a mature society, "civil servant" is semantically equal to "civil
There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no
evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret
The second best thing about space travel is that the distances involved make
war very difficult, usually impractical, and almost always unnecessary. This
is probably a loss for most people, since war is our race's most popular
diversion, one which gives purpose and color to dull and stupid lives.
But it a great boon to the intelligent man who fights only when he must --
never for sport.
A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. The may be the purpose
of the universe.
Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one
man. How's that again? I missed something.
Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million
men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?
There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who "love Nature"
while deploring the "artificialities" with which "Man has spoiled 'Nature.'"
The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that
Man and his artifacts are not part of "Nature" -- but beavers and their dams
are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In
declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers'
purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men)
the "naturist" reveals his hatred for his own race -- i.e., his own self
In the case of "Naturists" such self-hatred is understandable; they are such
a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity
and contempt are the most they rate.
As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only
race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race
made up of men and women -- it strikes me as a fine arrangement and
Believe it or not, there were "Naturists" who opposed the first flight to
old Earth's Moon as being "unnatural" and a "despoiling of Nature."
"No man is an island--" Much as we may feel and act as individuals, our race
is a single organism, always growing and branching -- which must be pruned
regularly to be healthy. This necessity need not be argued, anyone with eyes
can see that any organism which grows without limit always dies in its own
poisons. The rational question is whether pruning is best done before or
after birth. Being an incurable sentimentalist I favor the former of these methods --
killing makes me queasy, even when it's a case of "He's dead and I'm alive
and that's the way I wanted it to be."
But this may be a matter of taste. Some shamans think that is better to be
killed in a war, or to die in childbirth, or to starve in misery, than never
to have lived at all. They may be right.
But I don't have to like it -- and I don't.
Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and
coordinate. This does not insure "good" government; it simply insures that
it will work. But such governments are rare -- most people want to run
things but want no part of the blame. This used to be called the
What are the facts? Again and again and again -- what are the facts? Shun
wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars
foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the
unguessable "verdict of history" -- what are the facts, and to how many
decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your
single clue. Get the facts!
The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the
Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the
saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and
becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. yet this absurd
fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of
the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently
Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other "sins" are
(Hurting yourself is not sinful -- just stupid.)
History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any
rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand
up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a
religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable
pleasure from fiddling with it.
The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a
safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies
it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it
is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread
tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a
collection to pay his salary; it causes on to suspect that the shaman is on
the moral level of any other con man.
But it's lovely work if you can stomach it.
Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.
"God split himself into a myriad parts that he might have friends." This may
not be true, but it sounds good -- and is no sillier than any other
God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent -- it says so right here
on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these
divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No
checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear.
Honorifics and formal politeness provide the lubrication where people rub
together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the
unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or
"dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they
thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a
hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build
a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate,
act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a
computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.
The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice
Beware of altruism. It is based on self deception, the root of all evil.
Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of -- but do it in
private and wash your hands afterwards.
$100 placed at 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will
increase to more than $100,000,000 -- by which time it will be worth
If men were the automatons that behaviorists claim they are, the behaviorist
psychologists could not have invented the amazing nonsense called
"behaviorist psychology." So they are wrong from scratch -- as clever and as
wrong as phlogiston chemists.
Thou shalt remember the Eleventh Commandment and keep it Wholly.
A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an "intellectual" -- find out
how he feels about astrology.
Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
When the ship lifts, all bills are paid. No regrets.
The first time I was a drill instructor I was too inexperienced for the job
-- the things I taught those lads must have got some of them killed. War is
too serious a matter to be taught by the inexperienced.
Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbowroom is
pleasanter -- and much safer.
One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null
The phrase "we (I) (you) simply must--" designates something that need not
be done. "That goes without saying" is a red warning. "Of course" means you
had best check it yourself. These small-change cliches and others like them,
when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.
If you happen to be one of the fretful minority who can do creative work,
never force an idea; you'll abort it if you do. Be patient and you'll give
birth to it when the time is ripe. Learn to wait.
If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no
candidates and measures you want to vote for... But there are certain to be
ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule
you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there
is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This
enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the
enormous amount of time that truly intelligent exercise of the franchise
A practical joker deserves applause for his wit according to its quality.
Bastinado is about right. For exceptional wit one might grant keelhauling.
But staking out on an anthill should be reserved for the very wittiest.
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
Does history record any case in which the majority was right?
A "critic" is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge
the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased
-- he hates all creative people equally.
Money is truthful. If a man speaks of his honor, make him pay cash.
Never frighten a little man. He'll kill you.
Only a sadistic scoundrel -- or a fool -- tells the bald truth on social
In handling a stinging insect, move very slowly.
To be "matter of fact" about the world is to blunder into fantasy -- and
dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful. The
difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires
reasoning, while those other subjects merely require scholarship.
Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and
The greatest productive force is human selfishness.
Minimize your therbligs until it becomes automatic; this doubles your
effective lifetime -- and thereby gives you time to enjoy butterflies and
kittens and rainbows.
Have you noticed how much they look like orchids? Lovely!
Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts
often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they
are to think so.
Never try to outstubborn a cat.
Tilting at windmills hurts you more than the windmills.
Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again.
Waking a person unnecessarily should not be considered a capital crime. For
a first offense, that is. "Go to hell!" or other insult direct is all the answer a snoopy question
A skunk is better company than a person who prides himself on being
Beware of the "Black Swan" fallacy. Deductive logic is tautological; there
is no way to get a new truth out of it, and it manipulates false statements
as readily as true ones. If you fail to remember this, it can trip you --
with perfect logic. The designers of the earliest computers called this the
"Gigo Law," i.e., "Garbage in, garbage out."
Inductive logic is much more difficult -- but can produce new truths.
Natural laws have no pity.
On the planet Tranquille around KM 849 (G-O) lives a little animal known as
a "knafn." It is herbivorous and has no natural enemies and is easily
approached and may be petted -- sort of a six-legged puppy with scales.
Stroking it is very pleasant; it wiggles its pleasure and broadcasts
euphoria on some band that humans can detect. It's worth the trip.
Someday some bright boy will figure out how to record this broadcast, then
some smart boy will see commercial angles -- and not long after that it will
be regulated and taxed. In the meantime I have faked that name and catalog number; it is several
thousand light-years off in another direction. Selfish of me.
Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite.
If "everybody knows" such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten
thousand to one.
Anything free is worth what you pay for it.
Political tags -- such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist,
liberal, conservative, and so forth -- are never basic criteria. The human
race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and
those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest
motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly
curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more
comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
Being generous is inborn; being altruistic is a learned perversity. No
You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too
Don't store garlic near other victuals.
Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.
Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament -- it is possible to be both.
How? By never taking an unnecessary chance and by minimizing risks you can't
avoid. This permits you to play out the game happily, untroubled by the
certainty of the outcome.
A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.
Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo
sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself. Certainly
the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't
Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's
beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning
them at birth.
A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future.
A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.
When the need arises -- and it does -- you must be able to shoot your own
dog. Don't farm it out -- that doesn't make it nicer, it makes it worse.
Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites.
Moderation is for monks.
Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his
self-interest gives you more leverage.
You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both
When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far
away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that
it made it possible to go elsewhere.
Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by
legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But
stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there
is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.
Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be
courageous. (He is also a fool.)
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of
"loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute --
get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to
save that society. It is doomed.
People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk
who is shy a half slug who must tighten his belt.
Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a
tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes
in the house.
If tempted by something that feels "altruistic," examine your motives and
root out that self-deception. Then, if you still want to do it, wallow in
There is no such thing as "social gambling." Either you are there to cut the
other bloke's heart out and eat it -- or you're a sucker. If you don't like
this choice -- don't gamble.
This sad little lizard told me he was a brontosaurus on his mother's side. I
did not laugh, people who boast of ancestry often have little else to
sustain them. Humoring them costs nothing and adds to happiness in a world
in which happiness is always in short supply.
The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: "Of course it is none
of my business but--" is to place a period after the word "but." Don't use
excessive force in supplying such moron with a period. Cutting his throat is
only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.
Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly
different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you
have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of
patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the
reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and
to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with
a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your
time, please -- this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the
minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into
the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point
where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time -- and squawk for
So learn to say No - and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you
will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and
certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your
life and leave none of it for you. (This rule does not mean that you must
not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be
yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)