Personal Information


Behrooz Parhami: 2007/06/19 ||  E-mail:  ||  Problems:

Other contact info at: Bottom of this page  ||  Go up to: B. Parhami's home page


On June 19, 2007, Professor Parhami's UCSB ECE website moved to a new location. For an up-to-date version of this page, visit it at the new address:


This page contain information about Professor Parhami's life outside his profession.

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Likes and Dislikes

Pet peeve: Vehicles on UCSB campus walkways

Most favorite people: Those who carefully thread between trust and cynicism, using each where it benefits others.

Least favorite people: Those who blame others for their failures or claim all the credit for their successes.

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Books Read or Heard (most-recent first):

Gurwitch, Annabelle, Fired, Audiobook Produced by L.A. Theater Works, 2005. Comedic monologues about being fired from various, mostly trivial, jobs.

Green, Jane, To Have and to Hold, unabridged audiobook read by Kate Reading, Books on Tape, 2004.

Suskind, Ron, The One Percent Doctrine, unabridged audiobook read by George Guidall, Recorded Books, 2006. “. . . the most detailed, revealing account yet of American counterterrorism efforts and a hard-hitting critique of their direction.” [Publishers Weekly]

Berntsen, Gary, and Ralph Pezzullo, Jawbreaker – The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA’s Key Field Commander, Audiobook read by Robertson Dean, Books on Tape, 2006.

Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, abridged audiobook read by Grover Gardner, HighBridge Audio, 2001. The author takes us on a journey that follows the development of human societies and uncovers several deciding factors that helped create the vastly differing levels of development on the various continents. According to The New Yorker, “The scope and explanatory power of this book are astounding.”

Friedman, Thomas L., The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, abridged audiobook read by Oliver Wyman, Audio Renaissance, 2005.

Chomsky, Noam, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, Metropolitan Books, 2006.

Johnson, Steven, Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, unabridged audiobook read by Alan Sklar, Tantor Media, 2004. Presents a lot of interesting facts, including how our brains have evolved to take care of certain routine tasks with little or no processing, and how a rough-and-quick processing center (the emigdula) manages to keep us out of danger when normal processing of sensory data would take too long for us to react in time.

Ricks, Thomas E., Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, Abridged audiobook read by James Lurie, Penguin Audio, 2006.

Woodward, Bob, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, Abridged audiobook read by Boyd Gaines, Audioworks (Simon & Schuster), 2006.

Chomsky, Noam, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, Metropolitan Books, 2003.

Clark, Richard A., The Scorpion’s Gate, unabridged audiobook read by Robertson Dean, Penguin Audio, 2005. Fictional tale set in the Middle East, circa 2010, and involving two fundamentalist Islamic republics: Iran and Islamyah (former Saudi Arabia, in which the al-Saud family has been toppled).

Friedman, Thomas L., The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, audiobook read by the author, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2004.

Phillips, Kevin, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, Audiobook read by Scott Brick, Penguin Audio, 2006.

Young, Toby, The Sound of No Hands Clapping, unabridged audiobook read by Simon Vance, Tantor Audio, 2006.

Zoka’, Yahya, Dar Peeramoon-e Tagh’eer-e Khatt-e Farsi (On Changing the Farsi Script), Naghsh-e Jahan, Tehran, Dey 1329 (Jan. 1951), in Persian. This book provides an uneven history of attempts to improve the Farsi script in order to simplify its learning and reproduction. In some cases, the author names a proponent or opponent of the idea, without giving any details of his contributions to the debate; in other places, it quotes from letters and other writings at length. The writing style is also quite poor, with many sentences running half a page or longer.

Fonda, Jane, My Life So Far, Audiobook read by the author, Random House, 2005.

Ernest Hemingway: The Short Stories, Vol. 1, Audiobook read by Stacy Keach, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2002.

Remnick, David, and Henry Finder (eds.), Fierce Pajamas: Selections from an Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker, Audiobook read by various people, The New Yorker, 2001.

Rahnema, Ali (ed.), Pioneers of Islamic Revival (New updated edition), Zed Books, 2005. Chapters from the 1994 first edition are titled Sayyid Jamal al-Din ‘al-Afghani’; Muhammad Abduh: Pioneer of Islamic Reform; Khomeini’s Search for Perfection; Mawdudi and the Jama’at-i Islami; Hassan al-Banna; Sayyid Qutb: The Political Vision; Musa al-Sadr; Ali Shariati: Teacher, Preacher, Rebel; Muhammad Baqer as-Sadr. A new 75-page introduction “Contextualize[es] the Pioneers” in view of the significant events of the past decade and sketches a “Roadmap to Understanding.” The following quotation (p. xv) is representative of the apologetic tone of much of the new introduction, because it conveniently ignores the facts that the one-man argument it postulates was supported by dozens of others who carried out, or provided logistical support for, the September 11 attacks and that the outcome of the attacks was celebrated by tens of thousands, while characterizing the reaction as being against Islam as a whole: “Essentially one man’s argument that Islam commanded such a killing laid the foundations of a wrathful reaction against Islam.” Near the end of the introduction, however, the editor strikes a different chord, noting that (p. lxxv) “Consumed by power, [pioneers of Islamic revival who entered the world of politics] lost patience and sacrificed the objects of the exercise, namely human beings who were to be properly guided” and (p. lxxvii) “a broad-based global re-examination and dialog is under way among Muslims of reflection as Muslims of desperation seemingly play out their last acts.”

Harrington, C. Lee and Denise D. Bielby (eds.), Popular Culture: Production and Consumption, Blackwell, 2001. A well-chosen and diverse collection of essays on various aspects of popular culture (e.g., television, magazines, music, sports, advertising) that reveals its exploitation for profit via tools such as celebrity and fandom.

Ehrenreich, Barbara, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, unabridged audiobook read by Cristine McMurdo-Wallis, Recorded Books, 2002. The author gains first-hand knowledge of the lives and working conditions of those struggling with near-minimum-wage jobs by temporarily abandoning her upper-middle-class life as a writer and trying to make ends meet while holding a string of such jobs.

Alba, Ben, Inventing the Late Night: Steve Allen and the Original Tonight Show, Prometheus Books, 2005. Describes how Steve Allen practically invented all the key elements of late night talk shows, now in common use, during his 1954-57 stint as the host of NBC’s Tonight.

Swarup, Vikas, Q & A, abridged audiobook, read masterfully by Kerry Shale, Harper Collins, 2005. A poor Indian orphan boy, working as a waiter, is arrested for fraud at the urging of producers of the TV quiz show “Who Will Win a Billion,” who have no intention of paying him after he wins the grand prize by correctly answering a series of 12 questions. In conversations with his attorney, the boy reveals how he luckily came to know the correct answer to each question through his life experiences with a few friends, masters, and other acquaintances. The audiobook has won several awards, including an Audie for abridged fiction.

Ehrenreich, Barbara, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, unabridged audiobook read by Anne Twomey, Audiobooks America, 2005. From the cover blurb: “. . . highlights the people who’ve done everything right – gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up impressive resumes – yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster.” Offers interesting insights into the “career coaching” industry.

Fishman, Charles, The Wal-Mart Effect, unabridged audiobook read by Alan Sklar, Tantor Media, 2006. Discusses the hidden reach and transformative power of Wal-Mart via revealing its (mostly secret) operating principles and business practices.

Carroll, Jamuna (ed.), Television: Opposing Viewpoints, Greenhaven Press, 2006. Reprints of articles and other writings, arguing the two sides of controversial issues pertaining to the values that TV promotes, TV's societal impacts, effects of TV advertising, and methods of regulation.

Napoleoni, Loretta, Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation, Seven Stories Press, 2005. The tale of how an insignificant dissident of modest means was artificially elevated to the status of a legendary terrorist to provide one of the two key justifications for the Iraq war. Though not explicated in the book, the events described suggest that the Iraq war might have been a preemptive strike not against Saddam Hussein, but against Islamic fundamentalism that was spreading in Iraq by Arab fighters, who did not have much to do in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and were looking to northern Iraq as their next battleground.

Wiesel, Elie, Night, Recorded Books, read by George Guidall, 2006. New translation, ©2006, from the original French by Marion Wiesel, the author’s wife. This classic novel/autobiography depicting gruesome experiences of Jews in Nazi Germany’s death camps was originally published in 1958. The author’s preface to this translation describes why a new translation was deemed necessary and also supplies additional insights and background.

Feynman, Michelle (ed.), Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: Selected Letters of Richard P. Feynman, Recorded Books, narrated by Richard Poe and Johanna Parker, 2005. This book reveals the human face of a key innovator of our time. The letters contents range from discussion of minor issues (e.g., in encouraging notes in response to students and other ordinary people) to important philosophical observations exemplified by the following insightful statement: “What is not surrounded by uncertainty cannot be the truth.”

Friedman, George, America’s Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between America and and Its Enemies, Blackstone Audiobooks, read by Brian Emerson, 2004.

Petroski, Henry, Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. I found this book on  the library shelf when looking for the next book on this list. It is a fascinating account of design tradeoffs and decisions in everyday items such as the plastic tripod (the “thingy” that prevents the top of a pizza box from sticking to the toppings), water glasses, paper cups, calculator and telephone keypads, doorknobs, and light switches.

Petroski, Henry, Success through Failure: The Paradox of Design, Princeton Univ. Press, 2006. Having read Petroski's very well-known book, To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design, many years ago, I was intrigued by the title of his new book and decided to acquire and read it. Like the aforementioned book, the theme here is the importance of learning from failures, as illustrated by the following quotation from p. 95: When a complex system succeeds, that success masks its proximity to failure. . . . Thus, the failure of the Titanic contributed much more to the design of safe ocean liners than would have her success. That is the paradox of engineering and design.

Yaqub, Salim, The United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11, The Teaching Company, 2003. An audiobook  in the Great Courses series, composed of 24 lectures.

Ridgeway, James, The 5 Unanswered Questions About 9/11: What the 9/11 Commission Report Failed to Tell Us, Seven Stories Press, 2005. The questions, which form chapter titles, are: Why couldn’t we stop an attack from the skies? Why didn’t the Government protect us? Why didn’t we know what was coming? Did US “allies” help make the attacks possible? Why couldn’t the 9/11 Commission get to the truth?

Bergreen, Laurence, Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe, Harper Audio, 2003; Audiobook, read by the author.

Griffin, David R., The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, Olive Branch Press, 2005. This book presents an interesting mix of ideas in an effort to discredit the 9/11 Commission Report. The main theme is that the report covers up or distorts evidence of serious ineptitude on the part of the administration (military leaders, in particular) and goes so far as to suggest that the attacks were perhaps deliberately allowed to succeed because a new "Pearl Harbor" would be useful to the administration's plans for world domination. Interest in having an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea region to the Indian Ocean, via Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as greater control over the oil fields of the Persian Gulf region, are cited as reasons for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which needed the 9/11 attacks as a pretext. Conspiracy theories are usually full of holes, and this one is no exception. The problems start on the very first page of Chapter 1, where the author uses the fact that six of the alleged hijackers showed up alive after 9/11 to cast doubt on the identity of the 19 men who carried out the attacks. Of course, there is no hint of the explanation that the hijackers may have forged those identities or that there may be multiple people named X Y in the world. Later, on page 25, the fact that "fire had never before caused steel-frame high-rise buildings to collapse" is cited as one of six problems in the official account. Again, the gaping holes in the towers are conveniently ignored and the focus is placed on fires, as if they were the sole causes of the twin towers' collapse. The hypothesis that a small plane or a missile, rather than a large airliner, hit the Pentagon (p. 38) similarly ignores the inconvenient fact that if this were true, Flight 77 must have crashed or been shot down somewhere else. The question then would be how the crash of such a large plane was not witnessed by anyone and how it was successfully hidden afterwards; or, if it did not crash, its passengers and crew must have been hidden or silenced. On page 42, President Bush is criticized for not leaving the school in Florida immediately after he learned of the WTC attacks, thereby "making all the students and teachers potential targets of a terrorist attack." However, it is not explained how his departure would have made the school less of a target in attacks that were planned days, if not months, in advance. Material in the latter half of the book, about distortions to hide inconsistencies and possible lies, as well as allegations of conflict of interest on the part of the 9/11 Commission members and staffers, are more believable. Thus, the book is still worth reading.

Friedman, Thomas L., Longitudes & Attitudes, Audio Renaissance, 2002, abridged audio book, read by the author (winner of 2002 Pulitzer Prize for commentary). A collection of columns written mostly in the months following the events of September 11, 2001. The author believes that while technology has facilitated worldwide communication, it has not improved our understanding and tolerance. In fact, because technology (the Internet in particular) allows people to select news sources that are most in tune with their own beliefs, it has helped build walls that hinder true understanding.

Preston, Richard, The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story, Random House, 2002, Audio book, read by James Naughton. The author paints a frightening picture of smallpox and anthrax as natural threats and as biological weapons. The tale of how selfless physicians and health workers eradicated smallpox as a natural disease is particularly impressive.

Ménoret, Pascal, The Saudi Enigma: A History, Zed Books, 2005. Reviews the history of Saudi Arabia via examining how the development of its current identity (that includes religious fundamentalism) and past and present political forces have affected its economy and society. Page 22 contains a revealing statement attributed to Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan: "the idea for the Taliban was British, the management American, the money Saudi and the groundwork Pakistani!"

Unger, Graig, House of Bush, House of Saud, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2004, read by James Naughton.

Greenberg, Karen J. (ed.), Al Qaeda Now: Understanding Today’s Terrorists, Cambridge, 2005. About 60% of this book is devoted to discussions by various experts and 40% to statements by OBL. The following quote, from page 5, aptly illustrates the attitude in the Arab world toward Al Qaeda and its leader: "In Saudi Arabia [the US has] a favorability rating of three percent, which is essentially zero. When polling is conducted in Saudi Arabia on bin Laden's political ideas, there is a fifty percent favorability rating. Interestingly, though, when we ask, 'Would you like bin Laden to be your leader?' the positive response is only five percent."

Berman, Ilan, Tehran Rising: Iran’s Challenge to the United States, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

Grisham, John, The King of Torts, Doubleday, 2003. Audiobook version, Random House, 2003, read by Michael Beck.

Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis and Persepolis 2, Pantheon, 2003 and 2004. These "graphic novels" (which were followed in 2005 by Embroideries) depict the author's childhood and early adulthood in Iran and Europe. The books contain some worthy insights, but the few gems are far outnumbered by inaccuracies in characterizing sociopolitical events and gravely overshadowed by the author's tendency to blame individuals, events, and circumstances for her many failures. She paints unflattering portraits of several people, poking fun at their shortcomings, uptightness, or unattractive appearance, without acknowledging that those people too may have been victims of circumstances. In other words, while expecting everyone to be nonjudgmental toward her, the author does not cut these people any slack. On pp. 131-133 of Persepolis 2, she nonchalantly describes how, to avoid reprimand by the "decency police" for wearing makeup, she distracted them by accusing an innocent bystander of lewd conduct, knowing full well that the startled man would be in for a beating, at the very least. She never expresses remorse for putting an innocent man in grave danger (people have reportedly died from beatings during interrogations by the decency police); instead, she goes on to describe how moments later, her boyfriend laughingly praised her coolness and "instinct for survival."

Karolides, Nicholas J., Margaret Bald, and Dawn B. Sova, 120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature, Checkmark Books, 2005. Divides the books into four 30-book sections depending on the primary reason for the bans: political (Doctor Zhivago, The Grapes of Wrath, 1984), religious (the three major holy books, Oliver Twist, On the Origin of Species), sexual (The Arabian Nights, Lolita, Ulysses), social (Anne Frank’s Diary, The Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451). The bans have occurred in many different countries, including England and USA.

Levy, Habib, Comprehensive History of the Jews in Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora, Mazda Publishers, 1999. Abridged and edited from the 3-volume Persian version by Hooshang Ebrami, Translated into English by George W. Maschke.

Goldin, Farideh, Wedding Song: Memoirs of an Iranian Jewish Woman, Brandeis Univ. Press, 2003.

Martel, Yann, Life of Pi, audiobook version, HighBridge, 2003. An intriguing story, read masterfully by J. Woodman.

Afary, Janet, and Kevin B. Anderson, Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, University of Chicago Press, 2005. Foucault, a French philosopher, briefly acted as a journalist in Iran immediately before the Islamic Revolution. He wrote in glowing terms about the revolution for a short while, was harshly criticized for his views, and, apparently, later regretted his writings. Contains translated versions of Foucault’s writings, responses by critics, an in-depth analysis, and an epilogue entitled “From the Iranian Revolution to September 11, 2001”. Here is a noteworthy quote from an Iranian woman (Atoussa H.; p. 209 of the book), writing in response to Foucault: After twenty-five years of silence and oppression, do the Iranian people have no other choice than that between the SAVAK and religious fanaticism?

Conway, Flo, and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics, Basic Books, xvi + 423 pp., 2005. Reviewed this book for Mathematical Reviews in 2005 (published in Vol. 2005i:01008, Review #2105723).

Howard, Roger, Iran in Crisis? Nuclear Ambitions and the American Response, Zed Books, London, 2004.

Pelfrey, Patricia A. (reviser/expander), A Brief History of the University of California, UC Press, 2nd ed., 130 + x pp., 2004. Traces UC's history from its conception at the constitutional convention in Monterey (1849), a year before California was admitted to the Union, through its official creation in 1868, to the present. Includes 1-2 pages on the specific history of each campus and complete lists of presidents and chancellors.

Mitnick, Kevin D. and William L. Simon, The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, Wiley, 2002. Mitnick, a convicted former hacker (nonmalicious to begin with, and now a changed man, if one is to believe him), shows how vulnerable we all are to social engineering, i.e., the use of influence, persuasion, or manipulation to deceive people. The book is full of examples of methods used to infiltrate systems. For instance, collecting seemingly innocuous pieces of information from employees and then putting them together to create the illusion of an insider to get even more information.

Dumas, Firoozeh, Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, Villard, 2003; paperback edition by Random House. This is a very funny book which focuses on a girl’s experience of growing up in a foreign land while being constantly embarrassed by the behavior and poor English skills of her parents.

Plath, Sylvia (1932-1963), Ariel, Harper Prennial edition, 1999. The poems in this book were written in the last months of Plath's life which ended by suicide in 1963, apparently in part due her husband’s (poet Ted Hughes) philandering.

Hsu, F.-H., Behind Deep Blue: Building the Computer that Defeated the World Chess Champion, Princeton University Press, 2002. Argues that the chess matches described should not be viewed as "human versus machine" but rather as "performing human versus tool-making human."

Nafisi, Azar, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Random House, 2003. Recounts post-Islamic-Revolution Iran in four contexts related to her teaching of English literature: Lolita, Gatsby, James, and Austen. Describes how she was fired from a teaching post, went back to teaching, and eventually left Iran in 1997.

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Family and Other People

Self: one photo per decade, beginning with the 1950s


Wife: Vida Daie Parhami, separated since 2001.


Children, left to right below (school photos from a few years ago, followed by newer ones from October 2005): Sepand (born 1986), Sepehr (born 1984), Sepideh (born 1994). In fall 2006, they are UCSB junior in computer engineering, UCSB recent graduate in economics, and in 7th grade, respectively.

Father and mentor: Salem Parhami (1922-1992) -- Known to family and friends as "Mr. Engineer," Salem Parhami was a decent, hard-working, and industrious man whose 40+-year career included periods of employment as electrical engineer, engineering manager, educator, college administrator, and industrial consultant, before he retired to pursue his technical hobbies and freelance consulting. His encyclopedic knowledge and logical reasoning skills led relatives and acquaintances of diverse backgrounds to seek his advice on technical problems, writing projects, and sociopolitical matters. He authored 10 technical books in Persian and translated another two from English into Persian. All 12 volumes were highly successful and served as textbooks in Iranian universities for many years. He also published a collection of puzzles and other diversions for children and compiled a book of folk songs from his beloved Kurdistan province. His clever solutions to mathematics and science problems, derived over long hours of discussion and help with high-school homework, facilitated Professor Parhami's development in these areas and greatly influenced his subsequent career path.

Mentor: Robert Allen Short (1927-2003) -- Professor Short (PhD, Stanford) joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department at Oregon State University in 1966 and later became the founding Chairman of its Computer Science Department. He passed away in September 2003 following a lengthy illness (for obituary, see IEEE Computer, December 2003, p. 104). Professor Parhami studied with, and wrote an MS thesis under the direction of, Professor Short at OSU during 1969-70. He  remembers Professor Short fondly as a knowledgeable and caring mentor. Professor Short introduced Professor Parhami to switching theory and finite-state machines; other than elementary programming in Fortran, these were Professor Parhami's first exposure to computer science and engineering and were quite influential in his career path and choice of research direction. In his role as the Editor of IEEE Transactions on Computers, Professor Short helped and encouraged Professor Parhami to publish his first journal paper based on his master's thesis research on stochastic sequential machines. The paper is item 1 in B. Parhami's publication list.

Mentor: Algirdas Antanas Avizienis (1932-) -- Professor Avizienis (PhD, Illinois, 1960) joined the Computer Science Department at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1962 and chaired it during 1982-85. Professor Avizienis directed research programs on dependable computing and fault-tolerant systems both at UCLA and at JPL, where he led the development of the STAR (self-testing-and-repairing) computer for NASA. Initiation of the annual conferences on fault-tolerant computing in 1971, which continue to date, and of the IFIP Working Group on Reliable Computing and Fault Tolerance are among his important leadership activities. Professor Avizienis has received many awards and citations for his technical contributions and leadership roles (for more info, see Professor Parhami studied with, and wrote his PhD dissertation under the direction of, Professor Avizienis at UCLA during 1970-73. Given Professor Parhami's short one-year stay at Oregon State University for his master's degree and his prior specialization in electrical engineering, the years at UCLA and Professor Avizienis' guidance were highly influential in his subsequent career and research direction. Studying with an international leader in dependable computing and one of the world's foremost experts in computer arithmetic engrained these two areas, as well as the love of leading-edge research, in Professor Parhami's conscience. Items 3, 6-8, and 28 in B. Parhami's publication list resulted from Professor Parhami's PhD research under Professor Avizienis.


Above, from left to right: Salem Parhami, Prof. Robert Short, and Prof. Algirdas Avizienis

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Mathematical recreations

Word puzzles


Poetry: Here are five of B. Parhami's Persian poems celebrating the Persian new year (spring 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002)







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Favorite Quotes

Here are some of B. Parhami's favorite quotes, both serious and humorous. Most of these come from secondary sources, so accuracy in wording or attribution is not guaranteed.

    On love and friendship

Getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them.” Norman Vincent Peale.

“Love is a strange commodity, because you can't import it if you don't also export it.” © Ashleigh Brilliant (Pot-Shots).

“In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.”  Mignon McLaughlin.

“A friend is one who knows all about you and likes you anyway.”  Christi M. Warner.

When a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.” Edgar Watson Howe.

“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”  Swedish proverb.

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.”  Erica Jong.

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”  Dorothy Neville.

“A gossip is someone who talks to you about others, a bore is someone who talks to you about himself, and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.”  Lisa Kirk.

    On life and time

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”  Winston Churchill.

“Don't be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.”  Grace Hansen.

“Look over your shoulder now and then to be sure someone's following you.”  Henry Gilmer.

“Almost every man wastes part of his life attempting to display qualities which he does not possess.”  Samuel Johnson.

“An autobiography is the story of how a man thinks he lived.”  Herbert Samuel.

“Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.”  Hector Berlioz.

“Experience is a comb which nature gives us when we are bald.”   Chinese proverb.

“Remember that as a teenager you are in the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear the phone is for you.”  Fran Leibowitz.

“The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest. You are always asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.”  T. S. Eliot.

“There are so many things that we wish we had done yesterday, so few that we feel like doing today.”  Mignon McLaughlin.

“A committee takes hours to put into minutes what can be done in seconds.”  Judy Castrina.

“A meeting is an event in which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.”  Gourd's axiom.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”  James M. Barrie.

   On home and family

“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.”  Christian Morgenstern.

“The woman cries before the wedding and the man after.”  Polish proverb.

“Before marriage, a man will lie awake all night thinking about something you have said; after marriage, he'll fall asleep before you finish saying it.”  Helen Rowland.

“To marry a second time represents the triumph of hope over experience.”   Samuel Johnson.

“Spouse: Someone who'll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn't have had if you'd stayed single.”  Anonymous. 

“Children are a great comfort in your old age -- and they help you reach it faster too.”  Lionel Kauffman.

“Give to a pig when it grunts and a child when it cries, and you will have a fine pig and a bad child.”  Danish proverb.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”   James Baldwin.

Parents can tell but never teach, unless they practice what they preach.”  Arnold Glasow

   On fathers and fatherhood

A father carries pictures where his money used to be.  Anonymous

When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”  Mark Twain

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”  Bill Cosby

To be a successful father, there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years.”  Ernest Hemingway

When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”  Jewish Proverb

A man knows he is growing old because he begins to look like his father.”  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

He who is taught to live upon little owes more to his father's wisdom than he who has a great deal left him does to his father's care.”  William Penn

The fundamental defect with fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them.”  Bertrand Russell

It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.”  Anne Sexton

It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing, but there is a special place in heaven for the father who takes his daughter shopping.”  John Sinor

We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow. Our wiser sons, no doubt will think us so.”  Alexander Pope

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong.”  Charles Wadworth

I must study politics and war so that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”  John Adams


   On character and disposition

“The highest perfection of politeness is only a beautiful edifice, built, from the base to the dome, of graceful and gilded forms of charitable and unselfish lying.”  Mark Twain

If your thought is a rose, you are a rose garden; and if it a thorn, you are fuel for the fire.”  Rumi (Masnavi).

“Pessimist: a man who thinks everybody as nasty as himself, and hates them for it.”  George Bernard Shaw.

“To the optimist all doors have handles and hinges; to the pessimist, all doors have locks and latches.”  William Arthur Ward

“There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.”  Mark Twain.

“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?”  Michael de StPierre.

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.”  Martha Washington.

“What you cannot enforce, do not command.”  Socrates.

“We grow a little every time we do not take advantage of somebody's weakness.”  Bern Williams.

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words – wait and hope.”   Alexandre Dumas the Elder.

“Integrity is so perishable in the summer months of success.”   Vanessa Redgrave.

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade; it makes the hand bleed that uses it.”   Rabindranath Tagore.

“It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.”  Jessamyn West.

“There is no wise response to a foolish remark.”  Rumanian proverb.

“Silence is the best response to fools.”  Persian proverb.

“Language is a wonderful thing. It can be used to express thoughts, to conceal thoughts, but more often, to replace thinking.”  Kelly Fordyce.

“Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.”  James Dewar..

“To err is human –– to blame it on someone else is even more human.”  Jacob's law.

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few.”  Benjamin Franklin.

Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.  Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye.

“Tact: The art of saying nothing when there is nothing to say.”  Anonymous.

“We make our own hell out of the people around us.  Jean-Paul Sartre.

    On work and success

If A equals success, then the formula is A = X + Y + Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut.” Albert Einstein.

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”  Japanese proverb.

“Always behave like a duck -- keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.”  Jacob Braude.

“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.”  Henry David Thoreau.

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.”  Alfred A. Montapert.

“If you want people to think you wise, just agree with them.”   Jewish folk saying.

“It's not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted.”  Marie O'Conner.

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my ax.”  Abraham Lincoln.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Effie Jones.

“I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.”  Lilly Tomlin.

“A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.”   Fred Allen.

“The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up and does not stop until you get into the office.”  Robert Frost.

“Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money.”  Anonymous.

“I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest to make money they don’t want to buy things they don’t need to impress people they dislike.”  Emile Henry Gauvreau.

“The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of malcontents.”  Salvador Dali.

    On society and politics

“Politics is not what it pretends to be, the expression of a collective will. Politics breathes well only where this will is multiple, hesitant, confused, and obscure even to itself.”  Michel Foucault, in Corriere della Sera, November 5, 1978.

“Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other.”  Oscar Ameringer.

“Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?”  Peg Bracken.

“A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it rains.”  Robert Frost.

“What the insurance companies have done is to reverse the business so that the public at large insures the insurance companies.”   Gerry Spence (trial lawyer).

“If I am selling to you I will speak English, but if you are selling to me, dan mussen sie Deutsch sprechen.”  Willi Brandt, Former Chancellor of West Germany.

“To deceive a politician, speak the truth; he has no experience with it.”  Greek proverb.

“Never believe anything until it's been officially denied.”   Claud Cockburn.

“A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.”   Robert Frost.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a potbelly, and still think they are beautiful.  Anonymous.

Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition.  Anonymous (seen on a bumper sticker).

“Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.”  Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook (1963).

“Under capitalism man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite.”   Hedrick Smith (reporting a Moscow street joke).

“The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.”   H. L. Mencken.

“The draft is white people sending black people to fight yellow people to protect the country they stole from red people.”   Gerome Ragni and James Rado, Hair (1967).

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”  Oscar Wilde.

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”   Henry David Thoreau.

     On truth and convictions

“What is not surrounded by uncertainty cannot be the truth.”  Richard P. Feynman.

“Truth is the offspring of silence and meditation.”   Isaac Newton.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all   /   Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”   John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn.

“Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.”   Andrè Gide, So Be It (1959).

“Men occasionally stumble on the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”  Winston Churchill.

“My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right.”   © Ashleigh Brilliant.

“Truth is a river that is always splitting up into arms that reunite. Islanded between the arms, the inhabitants argue for a lifetime as to which is the main river.”   Cyril Connolly.

“The villain is the hero of his own story.”  Anonymous.

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”   Albert Einstein.

You should not put too much trust in any unproved conjecture, even if it has been propounded by a great authority, even if it has been propounded by yourself. You should try to prove it or disprove it ...  George Polya.

“We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.”  Blaise Pascal.  

     On teaching and creativity

Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”  Colleen Wilcox.

You teach best what you most need to learn.”  Richard Bach.

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”  Albert Einstein.

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.  Linus Pauling.

Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”  Will Durant.

“Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. At home a friend, abroad an introduction, in solitude a solace, and in society an ornament. It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives, at once, grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage.”   Joseph Addison, The Spectator (1711-1712).

“Of course there's a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates ....”  A. Lawrence Lowell.

“For any idea that does not appear bizarre at first, there is no hope.”   Niels Bohr.

“I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”   Blaise Pascal.

“. . . it is an error to believe that rigor in proof is an enemy of simplicity. On the contrary we find it confirmed by numerous examples that the rigorous method is at the same time the simpler and the more comprehensible one. The very effort for rigor forces us to find simpler proof methods.”   David Hilbert, Mathematische Probleme (1900).

“In a very real sense, the writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratifications, is a curious anticlimax.”   Alfred Kazin.

“The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution.”  Albert Einstein.  

“I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when looked at in the right way, did not become even more complicated.”  Poul Anderson. 

“Professor: One who talks in someone else's sleep.”  W.H. Auden. 

    On science and technology

When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it's only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it's two hours. That's relativity.   Albert Einstein.

Remember, then, that scientific thought is the guide of action; that the truth at which it arrives is not that which we can ideally contemplate without error, but that which we may act upon without fear; . . . scientific thought is not an accompaniment or condition of human progress, but human progress itself.   William K. Clifford.

. . . nations in their great ages have not been great in art or science, but in art and science.   J. Bronowski, The Common Sense of Science.

What we know is a drop, what we don’t know, an ocean.   Isaac Newton.

“Art is meant to disturb. Science reassures.”   Georges Braque, Le Jour et La Nuit

“The mathematician’s pattern, like a painter’s or the poet’s, must be beautiful. . . . Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”   Godfrey Harold Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology (1940).

“The scientist describes what is; the engineer creates what never was.”   Theodore von Karman

“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.”  Alexandre Dumas.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  Albert Einstein.

“Good mathematicians see analogies between theories; great mathematicians see analogies between analogies.”  Stefan Banach.

“I think of lotteries as a tax on the mathematically challenged.”  Roger Jones.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”  Albert Einstein.

“Many a man fails to become a thinker only because his memory is too good.”  Nietzsche.

“Science: The creation of dilemmas by the solution of mysteries.”  Leonard L. Levinson.

   On computers and computing

The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.  Edsgar W. Dijkstra.

“If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use? Two strong oxen or 1024 chickens.”  Seymour Cray, objecting to massively parallel processing.

“The mathematically sophisticated will know how to skip formulae. This skill is easy to practice for others also.”   Leslie G. Valiant, Circuits of the Mind (1994).

“Often, I come across an idea that I then try to turn into a problem and solution. It's like finding an arrow sticking in a wall, drawing a bull’s-eye around it, and telling people what a great marksman I am.”   Leslie Lamport.

Before software can be reusable it first has to be usable.”  Ralph Johnson.

Software stands between the user and the machine.”  Harlan D. Mills.

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable.”  Leslie Lamport.

“Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don’t add up.”  Anonymous.

“The most important thing in the programming language is the name. A language will not succeed without a good name. I have recently invented a very good name and now I am looking for a suitable language.”  Donald E. Knuth.

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Dr. Behrooz Parhami, Professor

                     Office phone: +1 805 893 3211
E-mail:                 Messages: +1 805 893 3716
Dept. Electrical & Computer Eng.                  Dept. fax: +1 805 893 3262
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