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This is the most important thing I will ever say to you. The human mind is the ultimate testing device. You can take all the notes you want on the technical data, anything you forget you can look up again, but this must be engraved on your hearts in letters of fire. There is nothing, nothing, nothing, more important to me in the men and women I train than their absolute personal integrity. Whether you function as welders or inspectors, the laws of physics are implacable lie detectors. You may fool men. You will never fool metal. That’s all.

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I know girls who pine for it. They like to play dress-up and pretend being Vor ladies of old, rescued from menace by romantic Vor youths. For some reason they never play ‘dying in childbirth’, or ‘vomiting your guts out from the red dysentery’, or ‘weaving till you go blind and crippled from arthritis and dye poisoning’, or ‘infanticide’. Well, they do die romantically of disease sometimes, but somehow it’s always an illness that makes you interestingly pale and everyone sorry and doesn’t involve losing bowel control.

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Real destiny takes everything-the last drop of blood, and strip out your veins to be sure-and gives it back doubled. Quadrupled. A thousand-fold! But you can’t give halves. You have to give it all. I know. I swear. I’ve come back from the dead to speak the truth to you. Real destiny gives you a mountain of life, and puts you on top of it.

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This is important! But you have to stay absolutely cool. I may be completely off-base, and panicking prematurely." "I don’t think so. I think you’re panicking post-maturely. In fact, if you were panicking any later it would be practically posthumously. I’ve been panicking for days.

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They stared at her curiously, and she caught snatches of conversation in two or three languages. It wasn’t hard to guess their content, and she smiled a bit primly. Youth, it appeared, was full of illusions as to how much sexual energy two people might have to spare while hiking forty or so kilometers a day, concussed, stunned, diseased, on poor food and little sleep, alternating caring for a wounded man with avoiding becoming dinner for every carnivore within range – and with a coup to plan for the end.

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But have you ever overheard two women discussing men? Men are crude liars, comparing their drabs, but women – I’d rather have [an] anatomist dissect me alive than to listen to the things the ladies say about us when they think they are alone.

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The world demands I make good choices on no information, and then blames my maidenhood for my mistakes, as if my maidenhood were responsible for my ignorance. Ignorance is not stupidity, but it might as well be. And I do not like feeling stupid.