Richard C. Murphy, PhD

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Fun Stuff

“I am most fascinated with diversity – in nature and in humanity. The only things more bizarre than the strange lives and creations of animals are people and our various expressions of culture, art, technology and personal activities. Isn’t life wonderful!”

Richard C. Murphy



Langdon Smith, Jan 4, 1858

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and the slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then.

“Life is too important
to be taken seriously”

– Einstein

-“The things we admire in men – kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system.  And those traits we detest – sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism, and self-interest are the traits of success.  And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.” -From Cannery Row -John Steinbeck

-“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, pitch manure, solve equations, analyze a new problem, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.  Specialization is for insects.” Robert A. Heinlein, Science fiction writer  

-You are not a human being having a spiritual experience, you are a spiritual being having a human experience.

-What is your secret to wisdom?  Wisdom came from good judgement which came from experience which came from bad judgement

-Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.

-A wise man is clever–rarely speaks a word, a foolish man keeps talking–never is he heard!

-Alan Watts on the Meaning of life (Muf-ized) “Is it time to get ready for heaven? What would you want heaven to be like for you? Want to spend eternity with all of your relatives; Want total security; No risk; No threats; No chance of failure; Understanding of everything; Every need met; Every desire gratified Would this really be fun? For one month, one year, one hundred years.. forever???

I’ll bet after a few hundred or a few million years of all this you might want some adventure.  You might want a bit of unpredictability, to try new stuff without knowing if you would succeed, maybe trying things which were hard might be fun, maybe a challenge would be the greatest adventure of all. Maybe after a few million years of bliss you might want nothing more than a bit of trouble,  a challenge, an unknown, a need unmet.

The bottom line is you would want your eternal life to be unpredictable otherwise it would be incredibly boring.  Maybe appreciating the unpredictability of things would give you a profound sense of wonder, saying wow that was really strange, or wow what a challenge or wow this is great or horrible but fortunately it won’t last for ever.  Life, nature, people and the future are not logical nor predictable and ain’t it grand to have such fun things always out there unfolding.”

-Maybe the universe is music of the gods.  Is the goal of music to get it over with?  If this were true the fastest symphony would win or the shortest piece of music would be best.  But in reality music is to be enjoyed as you go.  Maybe god is right here dancing to the music, participating with us in the great unfolding of the unknown.  Unknown even to him/her!

-My perspective is aptly articulated by Henri Poincare (1902), “Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks; but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house.”   La Science et l’hypothèse.

-“To her lover, a beautiful woman is a delight; to an ascetic, a distraction; to a wolf, a good meal.”  Zen poem.  May the future bring you delight, distraction and a good meal. 

-A good speech is like a woman’s dress – long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be stimulating and thought provoking

-Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one  hand, martini in the other, body splattered with blood and mud, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and  screaming “WOO HOO!  What a ride!

-Clouds are flowing in the river, waves are flying in the sky Life is laughing in a pebble.  Does the pebble ever die? I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” Jack London

-“I pledge allegiance to the soil of the United Ecosystems of Earth, and to the beings who thereon dwell One symbiosis in diversity under the sun with harmony and sufficiency for all.

-“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand and we will only understand what we are taught” This was from a Senegalese environmentalist and apparently came from a 1968 speech he gave in New Delhi to the Indian National Assembly.


“The following letter, written in 1855, was sent to President Franklin Pierce by Chief Sealth of the Duwamish Tribe of the state of Washington.  It concerns the proposed purchase of the tribe’s land.  Seattle, a corruption of the chief’s name, is build in the heart of Duwamish land.” from Marine Biology by MacConnaughey

“The great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land.  The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and good will.  This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return.  But we will consider your offer, for we know if we do not so, the white man may come with guns and take our land.  What Chief Sealth says, the Great Chief in Washington can count on as truly as our white brothers can count on the return of the seasons.  My words are like stars – they do not set.

How can you buy or sell the sky – the warmth of the land?  The idea is strange to us.  Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water.  How can you buy them from us?  Every part of the earth is sacred to my people.  Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways.  One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.  The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.  He leaves his fathers’ graves, and his children’s birthright is forgotten.  The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the redman.  But perhaps it is because the redman is a savage and does not understand….

There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities.  No place to hear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insect’s wings.  But perhaps because I am a savage and do not understand – the clatter only seems to insult the ears.  And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lovely cry of a whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night?  The air is precious to the redman.  For all things share the same breath – the beasts, the trees, the man.  The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.  Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.

If I decide to accept, I will make one condition.  The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.  I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.  I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairies left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.  I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.  What is man without the beasts?  If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to man.  All things are connected.  Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth.

One thing we know which the white man may one day discover.  Our God is the same God.  You may think now that you own him as you wish to own our land.  But you cannot.  He is the body of man.  And his compassion is equal for the redman and the white.  This earth is precious to him.  And to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.  The whites, too shall pass – perhaps sooner than other tribes.  Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.  When the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses all tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many man, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires, where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.  And what is it to say good-by to the swift and the hunt, the end of living and the beginning of survival.

We might understand if we knew that it was that the white man dreams, what hopes he describes to his children on long winter nights, what visions he burns into their minds so they will wish for tomorrow.  But we are savages.  The white man’s dreams are hidden from us.  When the last redman has vanished from the earth, and the memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, these shores and forest will still hold the spirits of my people, for they love this earth as the newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat.  If we sell you our land, love it as we’ve loved it.  Care for it as we’ve cared for it.  Hold in your mind the memory of the land, as it is when you take it.  And with all your strength, with all your might, and with all your heart – preserve it for your children, and love it as God loves us all.  One thing we know – our God is the same.  This earth is precious to him. “