First and Last Lines

The astronomical growth in the wealth and cultural influence of multinational corporations over the last fifteen years can arguably be traced back to a single, seemingly innocuous idea developed by management theorists in the mid-1990s: that successful corporations must primarily produce brands, as opposed to products.

That demand, still sometimes in some areas of the world whispered for fear of a jinx, is to build a resistance—both high-tech and grassroots, both focused and fragmented—that is as global and as capable of coordinated action, as the multinational corporations it seeks to subvert.

Naomi Klein, No Logo

Embedded systems, an emerging area of computer technology, combine multiple technologies, such as computers, semiconductors, microelectronics, and the Internet, and as a result, are finding ever-increasing application in or modern world.

Compared with PollLast, which caused significant overall power consumption, the optimized TimerLast application achieved an optimized power-saving result.

Ryan Cohen and Tao Wang, Android Application Development for the Intel Platform

Despite a decade of books devoted to exposing Wall Street malfeasance, escalating temperatures, alarming increases in inequality, and the insidious privatization of the commons, all these problems have increased to epidemic proportions.

It is said that the ancient Chinese sage Laotzu warned, if we do not change direction, we will end up where we are heading.

Viki McCabe, Coming to Our Senses

The book was thick and black and covered with dust.

And on the way home, she met her brothers, and there was a rough-and-tumble, and the lovely crown was broken, and she forgot the message, which was never delivered.

A. S. Byatt, Possession

At 5 a.m. on an intensely hot summer day, President John Quincy Adams left the White House by stagecoach for Quincy, Massachusetts.

Four years later, Louisa joined him.

Fred Kaplan, John Quincy Adams

The temp agency’s application was only four pages long, but somehow Bev hadn’t managed to fill it out.

“<3” Amy replied.

Emily Gould, Friendship

Loudon Tripp, wearing a seersucker suit and a Harvard tie, sat in my office on a very nice day in September and told me he’d looked into my background and might hire me.

“I think I’ll let them lie.”

Robert Parker, Paper Doll

Cheyenne Mountain sits on the eastern slope of Colorado’s Front Range, rising steeply from the prairie and overlooking the city of Colorado Springs.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain optimistic.

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation

When you open a book, you are already at the end of a long journey.

When Joyce was a little boy and dessert time was announced, he would make his way down the staircase, holding his nursemaid’s hand, and call out to his parents with every accomplished step, “Here’s me! Here’s me!”

Kevin Birmingham, The Most Dangerous Book

The woman who came into my office on a bright January day was a knockout.

“Sometimes it isn’t,” Hawk said.

Robert Parker, Hundred-Dollar Baby

We hear these arguments all the time.

We can protect privacy as well as have effective security.

Daniel Solove, Nothing to Hide

The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the west campus.

The cults of the famous and the dead.

Don DeLillo, White Noise

An overture then: Lights blaze from an American Craftsman home in a demure neighborhood, late on a spring evening, in the tenth year of the altered world.

And at last you will hear now this piece goes.

Richard Powers, Orfeo

I was at my desk, in my office, with my feet up on the windowsill, and a yellow pad in my lap, thinking about baseball.

Delroy shrugged.

Robert Parker, Hugger Mugger

On July of 2003, I was invited to Portland, Oregon, by my friend and fellow O’Reilly Author, Randal Schwartz, to attend the release party for his newest book, Learning Perl Objects, References & Modules.

You’re a great writer.

Wil Wheaton, Just a Geek

On a spectacular late spring evening in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a sellout crowd of 10,100 people packed Coca-Cola Park, the five-year-old stadium that has served as the home for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs since 2008.

Truer words were never written.

John Feinstein, Where Nobody Knows Your Name

A big program is made up of many small modules.

Chapter 10 in Stevens (1992) is a comprehensive treatment of signals and signal-handling procedures; it describes the differences among the Unix variants and the POSIX standards.

David Hanson, C Interfaces and Implementations

Her name was Devona Jefferson.

“Perfect,” I said.

Robert Parker, Double Deuce

From inside a London tea room, two well-dressed women look with mild disdain at a figure in the rain outside.

When it doesn’t, that will mean the story has taken its next turn.

Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces

It started without me.

I believe she did.

Robert Parker, Cold Service

Me and Camilla walk uptown from the East Village, where we spent the afternoon, to Camilla’s friend Emma’s parents’ apartment on the Upper West Side because Emma is visiting from college in Pennsylvania, and her parents aren’t home.

I listen to “The Fox in the Snow” by Belle and Sebastian, and then when it ends, I listen to it over and over again until I get home.

David Shapiro, You’re Not Much Use to Anyone

Late 1964 was a buoyant time for the majority of Americans: a prosperous year that promoted extraordinarily high expectations about the future.

After 1965, for better or for worse, many aspects of life in the United States would never be the same again.

James Patterson, The Eve of Destruction
Added 2 August 2014, the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Frances Zuchowski and her husband Salvatore Liberace were ill prepared for the prodigies of her accouchment in the village of West Allis, Wisconsin, on May 16, 1919.

He was born and died an American boy.

Darden Pyron, Liberace

I was bucks up.

“Yes, it does,” she said.

Robert Parker, Chance

On the morning of January 27, 2009, my first full day as secretary of the Treasury, I met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

My hope is that they won’t have to be rediscovered in the fires of the next crisis.

Timothy Geithner, Stress Test

Humanity is moving ever deeper into crisis—a crisis without precedent.

The effective decisions can only be made by the independently thinking and adequately informed human individuals and their telepathetically intercommunicated wisdom—qualifying for continuance in Universe as local cosmic problem-solvers—in love with the truth and in individually spontaneous self-commitment to absolute faith in the wisdom, integrity, and love of God who seems to wish Earthian humans to survive.

R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

It was a late May Morning in Boston.

“Or perhaps, later on, the reverse,” she said.

Robert Parker, Back Story

When the great crash happened it was nothing like we feared.

“I have a letter to deliver.”

Wayne Gladstone, Notes From the Internet Apocalypse

Eisman entered finance about the time I exited it.

It never loses its charm.

Michael Lewis, The Big Short

Everybody falls, and we all land somewhere.

“History doesn’t start until we land.”

Robert Wilson, Spin

Because the footage comes from a security cam, the images are grainy and silent, the perspective is fixed.

The coming years will test the truth of that prophecy.

Nikil Saval, Cubed

There are ideas that are preposterous on their face, and yet one is hard pressed to say why.

It is when we go from two to three that relationships grow sufficiently complex for us to find them perennially surprising—and perverse.

Leo Katz, Why the Law is so Perverse

—D’yeh do the Facebook thing?


Roddy Doyle, The Guts

They sat at one of the sidewalk tables at Swingers, on the side of the coffee shop along Beverly Boulevard: Chili Palmer with the Cobb salad and iced tea, Tommy Athens the grilled pesto chicken and a bottle of Evian.

Instead of us fuckin up the story, let Scooter do it.

Elmore Leonard, Be Cool

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was an officer in the Union Army.

The relevance and the strangeness are forever bound together in their thought.

Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club

H. L. Mencken reputedly said, “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

What emerges instead is greater insight into what the Roberts Court is doing, where it is going, and how it is moving—at times haltingly and uncertainly—along the moral arc of history, the long arc that bends toward justice.

Laurance Tribe & Joshua Matz, Uncertain Justice

When Chili first came to Miami Beach twelve years ago they were having one of their off-and-on cold winters: thirty-four degrees the day he met Tommy Carlo for lunch at Vesuvio’s on South Collins and had is leather jacket ripped off.

Fuckin endings man, they weren’t as easy as they looked.

Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty

This book is concerned with the lands and places of legend: lands and places because sometimes they are continents, such as Atlantis, other times towns and castles or, in the case of Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes, apartments.

And even those who do not believe in paradise, be it earthly or celestial, if they were to take a look at Doré’s image of the “candida rosa” (white rose) and read the text by Dante that it illustrates, they would understand that that vision is a truthful part of the reality of our imagination.

Umberto Eco, The Book of Legendary Lands

It is hard to understand nothing, but the multiverse is full of it.

What little thing will change the world because the little tinkers carried on tinkering?

Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam

“He’s been taking pictures three years, look at the work,” Maurice said.

Why not?

Elmore Leonard, LaBrava

Roosevelt is Coming Home, Hooray!

Still, he hoped that other “times of awakening” lay ahead, that a new generation of journalists would be drawn to the work that “seemed once almost a mission and a call.”

Doris Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit

Foley had never been in a prison where you could walk right up to the fence without getting shot.

“My little girl,” her dad said, “the tough babe.”

Elmore Leonard, Out of Sight

“Mann ist, was er ißt”—We are what we eat, the German adage tells us, and it has never been truer.

The fable of French cuisine turns out to be a culinary tale for all times and places, for all those cooks who transform eating into dining, and for all those diners who come away from the table transformed.

Priscilla Ferguson, Accounting for Taste

In the American system, citizens were taught that the transfer of political power accompanied elections, formal events when citizens made orderly choices about who shall govern.

If Americans were afraid to look inside the temple, perhaps it was because they feared to see the truth about themselves.

William Greider, Secrets of the Temple

It’s the first day of spring 2001, and Maxine Tarnow, though some still have her in their system as Loeffler, is walking her boys to school.

She can watch them into the elevator at least.

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

Seeds have a mirrored life, the original in nature and another reflected in literature and the imagination.

When you enjoy seeds, you can enrich the experience by sparing a thought for their fascinating evolutionary journey to your plate.

Jonathan Silvertown, An Orchard Invisible

They put Foley and the Cuban together in the backseat of the van and took them from the Palm Beach County jail on Gun Club to Glades Correctional, the old redbrick prison at the south end of Lake Okeechobee.

There were more women than Foley imagined Cundo had known, Foley looking for a girl with dyed hair wearing dark glasses.

Elmore Leonard, Road Dogs

I suppose this book started when I first heard the story of Sergey Aleynikov, the Russian computer programmer who had worked for Goldman Sachs and then, in the summer of 2009, after he’d quit his job, was arrested by the FBI and charged by the United States government with stealing Goldman Sachs’s computer code.

All that one needed to discover the truth about the tower was the desire to know it.

Michael Lewis, Flash Boys

The eleventh day Meehan was in the MCC, the barbers came around to 9 South; two barbers, a white one for the white inmates, a black one for the rest.

Should I grab a train here, come back to the city?

Donald Westlake, Put a Lid on It

Because we think of ourselves as rational creatures, we like to define decision as the conscious deliberation over multiple choices.

But I’m sure it’s going to be a great ride.

A. David Redish, The Mind within the Brain

A sea of mist drifted through the cloud forest—soft, gray, luminescent.

Fountains keep nothing for themselves.

Lois McMaster Bujold, Shards of Honor

When John Dortmunder, a free man, not even on parole, walked into the O.J. Bar & Grill on Amsterdam Avenue that Friday night in July, just before ten o’clock, the regulars were discussing the afterlife.

So they tried it that way.

Donald Westlake, Watch Your Back!

On Thursday, September 16, 1920, a few seconds after the Trinity Church bell had finished tolling noon, the pleasant fall air of downtown Manhattan (weather clear, temperature sixty-nine degrees, market up slightly) was rent by an enormous and devastating explosion.

I need a left-handed first baseman’s mitt!

John Brooks, Once in Golconda

If water is essential to life, then water supply is the essential ingredient of civilization.

The time has come to secure the water future we want before a crisis forces it upon us.

David Sedlak, Water 4.0

When the Twin Towers collapsed, on the warm, bright morning of September 11, 2001, they made a sound heard variously around New York as a roar, a growl or a distant thunder.

Unmade or remade, whether as appliances or cars or simple rebar, they would eventually find their way into every corner of the world.

William Langewiesche, American Ground

I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensable orders.

I shall see you soon, and in the mean time think candidly of me, and believe me ever, MADAM, Yours, etc., etc., etc. X X X.

John Cleland, Fanny Hill

George W. Bush was sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office, chewing gum, staring, and listening—in fact listening longer than usual.

He was his own man.

Peter Baker, Days of Fire

A very old definition of economics says that it is about the provisioning of goods and services to meet our material needs.

Our bodies and souls depend on it.

Julie Nelson, Economics for Humans

“A lot of people have built their dreams and their houses and their families around working for that company.”

Although the moment has passed for Bloomington’s RCA workers, it may be on just such tiny transnational acts of faith (however sexist or illegal) that the future of any sort of global working-class politics may depend.

Jefferson Cowie, Capital Moves

In late 2008, with the world engulfed in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown each called for a fundamental rethinking of the world financial system.

Even more daunting are the requirements for building an enduring system; monetary nationalism was the downfall of the last great effort in 1944.

Benn Steil, The Battle of Bretton Woods

In the end, it was Win Stracke who made the arrangements.

But fifty years after his funeral, billions of people around the globe were hearing the rhythmic cadences and well-crafted insights with which Bill had captivated music fans, first in the United States, and then far beyond its borders.

Bob Riesman, I Feel So Good

Why have we handed over the running of the world to economists?

I end on the same note.

Steve Keen, Debunking Economics

The documents of your childhood, your letters, correspondencies, notes, books, &c., &c., all gone!

As a consequence, it may be concluded, he never saw what was on the other side.

Hannah Spahn, Thomas Jefferson, Time and History

We have all heard, far too many times, about the depth, breadth, and profound importance of the computer revolution.

The humility required to embrace such anonymity as a goal is the single most important aspect of the designer’s art.

Nathaniel Borenstein, Programming as if People Mattered

The Central Pacific Railroad holds a distinction unique in the annals of American business: It riveted the attention of two great writers at the peak of their artistry.

For an inveterate cynic like him, irony was all in a day’s work.

Dennis Drabelle, The Great American Railroad War

Imagine that the natural sciences were to suffer the effects of a catastrophe.

We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another — doubtless very different — St Benedict.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue

How does one become a mathematician?

Our journey continues.

Edward Frenkel, Love and Math

The problem of human understanding is a twofold one.

As those ‘rational transactions’ to which we have committed ourselves continue to work themselves out in the course of subsequent history, the same verdict of historical experience which earlier thinkers called the Cunning of Reason (or Nature, or Providence, or Necessity) will, in the long run, penalize all those who—whether knowingly, or through negligence—continue playing according to out-dated strategies.

Stephen Toulmin, Human Understanding

My subject is the challenges that the federal courts face today, with particular emphasis on rising complexity.

The path forward is the path of realism.

Richard Posner, Reflections on Judging

Unpaved, uneven trails pretended to be roads; they tied the nation’s coasts together like laces holding a boot, binding it with crossed strings and crossed fingers.

Hale Quarter jabbed a pen against his tongue to moisten it, and he began to write.

Cherie Priest, Boneshaker

In August of 2000, a Japanese scientist named Toshiyuki Nakagaki announced that he had trained an amoebalike organism called slime mold to find the shortest route through a maze.

On the hundred-year scale, or the scale of millennia, there may be no question more interesting, and no question harder to answer.

Steven Johnson, Emergence

Heading into the fall of 2004, ABC was dead last among broadcast television networks.


Frans Johansson, The Click Moment

Once, in those dear dead days, almost, but not quite beyond recall, there was a view of science that commanded widespread popular and academic assent.

The point, however, is to change it.

Philip Kitcher, The Advancement of Science

2015 2013

This page last modified on 2014 November 3.