An Eschatological Laundry List: By Sheldon Kopp (1974)

“10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune…

23. Evil can be displaced but never eradicated, as all solutions breed new problems…

29. Love is not enough, but it sure helps…

41. You are free to do whatever you want. You need only face the consequences.

—Sheldon Kopp, “An Eschatological Laundry list.” The Therapeutic Care Journal. October 1, 2016.

Fun With Fortune in Linux

Fortune provides a random quote or aphorism every time you open a terminal in Linux. I wanted to have a personalized fortune using zuihitsu quotes posted on this site come up whenever I opened a terminal. If you want to do something similar, here’s the procedure.

To check if you have it installed, simply type fortune into the terminal.

$ fortune 

This either returned a fortune or an error message. If you got an error message, then install fortune using the package manager for your system.

$ sudo apt install fortune-mod

Let’s create our own file of fortunes. I want to use my zuihitsu quotes I have posted on this site. This file is a text file that looks like so:

quote 1
quote 2
quote ...

There is a copy of the file available online.

If you have just a file with lines of quotes, this is easy to get into this format using emacs. Simply type: M-%, followed by c-q c-j Enter then c-q c-j % c-q c-j Enter. I like to check the replacements, so just keep hitting y to do the replacement and move on to the next one if it looks good. Save the file to the appropriate directory, which on Debian systems is /usr/share/games/fortunes, but can vary. For explanation purposes, we are going to assume the file was named zuihitsu with no file extension.

Note: If you are using the file above, just save it as a text file in your directory. Then, copy it to the appropriate system directory without a file extension.

Now, create a .dat file for the file you just made.

$ sudo strfile zuihitsu

Set the same permissions on the new files as the others in the directory. This just makes the files readable to groups and others.

$ sudo chmod o+r zuihitsu
$ sudo chmod g+r zuihitsu
$ sudo chmod o+r zuihitsu.dat
$ sudo chmod g+r zuihitsu.dat

Following the rest of the directory. I added a symbolic link.

$ sudo ln -s zuihitsu zuihitsu.u8

You should be able to test it now.

$ fortune zuihitsu

Assuming that worked. The final thing to do is to have your preferred shell call this when it runs. I use bash, so I added the command above to my bash_aliases file. From then on, it will pull a random quote from the zuihitsu file every time you bring up the terminal.


Make a fortune come up automatically every time you login or open a new terminal by adding the following to .bashrc or .bash_aliases:

fortune zuihitsu 

Also, if you use mutt, you can add the following to your .muttrc file to have this fortune file generate a random signature for your emails:

set signature="fortune zuihitsu -s|"

The -s selects shorts quotes and the | pipes it to your email text.

Did you know the original fortune-mod fortune collection is available as a EPUB?

Zuihitsu: 2020-08-08 to 2020-12-31

  • A great meeting has three key elements: the options, desired outcome, and the roles of the participants are clear.
  • Solitude is freedom from inputs from other minds.
  • Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.—Ray Bradbury
  • Life is a game that is played on a five-inch field — the distance between your ears. —apologies to Bobby Jones, the American golfer.
  • There’s a market for confirming people’s opinion and not for the truth.
  • The catastrophe we think will happen has in fact already happened.—Donald Winnicott
  • An engaged practice does not permit unengaged labels and objectification.
  • Perfection and beauty are created by happiness.
  • Be there when the stillness comes.
  • “Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most.”—Abraham Lincoln
  • Between sense and nonsense, there is no right or wrong.
  • Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the Will.—Nietzsche
  • Dangerous grifter-led subcultures generally appeal to “lost young men.”
  • Make the revolution irresistible.—Toni Cade Bambara
  • There are two religions in the world: the religion of being right and the religion of being in love, and you can’t be a member of both at the same time.
  • A decrease in common sense and an increase in superstition and gullibility are infallible signs of alienation.
  • Changez vos amis.
  • There can be no separate survival.
  • Hold faith with the sun in a sunless place.
  • Broaden definition enough and you make a sieve of meaning.
  • People are myopic.
  • Every job looks easy when you aren’t the one doing it.—Jeff Immelt
  • Münchhausen Trilemma, when asked for more proof the end is either circular, regressive, or dogmatic.
  • Don’t be afraid to take. Takers never worry about taking too much. If you worry, then you aren’t solely a taker. Relax about it.
  • Kind and reasonable people using coalition-building, science, and determination to solve problems. Are you in that room?
  • The prior can often only be understood in the context of the likelihood.
  • With distance, every conflict seems solvable and senseless.
  • Stories not explanations.
  • Truth only comes at the end of the line.
  • Find a place of radical expression and acceptance.
  • Ignore the bullshit of the day.
  • Apocalypse is the suburb of utopia.
  • The land of the possible has many paths, and we can know only one.
  • It’s possible to be both empathetic and strong.
  • Pictures, luggages and life; everything’s impermanent.
  • A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance.
  • Morals are like aesthetics, best left for interpretation.
  • Living under the constant threat of destruction.
  • ”A trip through a sewer in a glass-bottomed boat.”—Wilson Mezner on time spent in Hollywood
  • The labor of thought, the labor of writing and the labor in reality builds our character.
  • Everything is a delibrate construction.
  • Analog shuts out digital distractions.
  • Look for the extraordinary intruding on ordinary life.
  • Strip away complexity and simplify.
  • Humility is thinking of yourself less.
  • One person’s apocalypse is another person’s day-to-day.
  • Knowing isn’t doing.
  • Stupid cannot be educated.
  • One person with a mind and knows it can always beat ten people who haven’t and don’t.
  • Take the trouble to find the right thing to say, then say it with levity.
  • Desperate people do desperate things.
  • Right don’t come to you doing wrong.
  • LOVE, life’s only valid expression.
  • What is conversation for? One answer: leaving the other person better off emotionally.
  • Start with something that works.
  • Pain is the body registering a departure from what it regards as “normal.” If you can train yourself to think of pain as normal, then the pain will cease to exist.
  • Serve the material.
  • The dynamics of the high school clique are social dynamics everywhere.
  • Respect the individual.
  • People want to believe in something, even if it is false.
  • Every road is new.
  • Our lives are measured not by gain but by giving.
  • Don’t share opinions on topics that have low thresholds to having opinions and where there is little to differentiate them.
  • Don’t run towards ruin.
  • Only the dead are without fear.
  • The meaning we overlay onto our experience is primary of our many manufactured fictions.
  • Every signal has a cost. No costs; no need to communicate it.
  • Don’t feed the mouth that bites you.
  • Your fantasies have cursed your realities.
  • Ask a question. Find forty answers.
  • It’s too dark at night to wonder around with your eyes closed.
  • Do the small thing.
  • Create fun and a little weirdness. —Zappos motto
  • Change the initial conditions.
  • Puzzles over facts.
  • The people that need to read, don’t.
  • Wipe your feet at the door. Meaning: Your personal business shouldn’t be a problem for your business.
  • Power yields nothing without demand.
  • If it’s important and you stop, someone else will do it.
  • If you wish to know something, pay it careful attention.
  • Humanity is rife with brand and tribal loyalty.
  • Pragmatism > Culture Defense Warrior
  • A vantage point can only be occupied by one person at a time.
  • Better to try and fail than do nothing.
  • Be present in the present.
  • Invite the witness inside.
  • There is no final, fixed answer.
  • Keep increasing the number of sensed experience per second until the illusion of continuity shatters.
  • Intellect subs for faith. Faith subs for wisdom. Wisdom subs for both intellect and faith.
  • Balance and strengthen. Strengthen and balance.
  • Cities are full of weird, wonderful people, and people can teach us a lot.
  • Every experience can be a source of wisdom.
  • Labels not stories. Stories provide unnecessary detail that is wrong. Labels bypass thought.
  • Sick leaders attract sick followers.
  • Selection effects are everything.
  • Ideological conflict has no easy solutions.
  • It’s expensive to be both comfortable and to appear virtuous.
  • No one wants to be reincarnated as the fly eating poop.
  • It is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.—Warren Buffett
  • It’s easier to train an expert to manage well than to train a manager to be an expert.
  • World-class talent wants to work for and with other world-class talent, or As hire other As, Bs hire Cs. Cs don’t hire As or Bs.
  • Wiping your mouth (or your ass) with paper isn’t making it clean.
  • Mine is classy, yours is crassy.
  • The measure of government is how many quiet tragedies it has authored.
  • Class and demographic biases rule over expertise.
  • Happiness is the difference between what you have, and your definition of enough.
  • Boats rowing the stream are harder work, but frequently have better company.
  • There are ways to eliminate suffering in ourselves and others. We need only discover and master them.
  • Advice requires context. What is good for the grey beard isn’t good for the novice.
  • Can you apologize for someone else?
  • Wanting things to be different (which includes wanting them to remain the same) is the cause of suffering.
  • Thinking blocks experiencing, like seeing an image taken with a camera rather than using your eyes.
  • Labels define culture, personally and socially.
  • Tests check but also drive performance.
  • Bridge the gap.
  • Don’t be The Other for people to define themselves against if you can help it.
  • Keeping free time scarce means keeping people unambitious and increases the market for convenience, gratification, and any other form of relief.
  • To be is to be related.
  • Socratic method: Let them talk. Ask questions. Let them expose their ignorance. Do not cheer when that happens.
  • Dread is lack of agency.
  • Spend over a year with no address.
  • Check if there’s a Japanese camping version.
  • Be more curious.
  • Social interaction in any medium is always a balance between self-expression and the accommodation of others.
  • Simple pastiches reign, signs of humanity’s lack of imagination.
  • Pursuing one kind of truth tends to obscure other kinds.
  • Many visions, many maps.
  • Your priorities are reflected in where you spend your money.
  • What ordinary thing has become invisible to you?
  • Practice analytically, perform intuitively.
  • Keep complexity in mind, enough to drive good decision-making.
  • You’re never too young to die.
  • Five big things instead of 500 half-assed things.
  • Cultivate an obsessive desire to make the world a weirder place.
  • Float to the top or sink to the bottom. Everything in the middle is the churn.—Amos in Season 5, Episode 2
  • Nobody really saves anyone. She taught me how to save myself.
  • Just because someone’s the underdog doesn’t mean they are the good guy.
  • Not every stain comes out.
  • Philanthropy is scooping soup, not solving the problem of soup lines.
  • Everyone has an eye on the self.
  • Every choice rules out a panoply of others.
  • Following models or trying to discover yourself avoids the hard work of creation, the difference between prefab or bespoke.
  • Education is sticking around until you get it.
  • We see what we need to see in other people.
  • The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
  • The brave find their courage in adversity.
  • You do not have to be good.
  • Support people not projects or ideologies.
  • Every childhood is strange in its own way.
  • People are not composed entirely of their facts.
  • Save what you can save.
  • Turn yourself away from what you think is happening so that you can see what is really happening.
  • The worries of others are a largely unknown landscape.
  • See people as their best and most complete selves.