Quotes, 2018 Edition, Volume H

Richard Hamming
“as far as I know, each of you has one life to live. Even if you believe in reincarnation it doesn’t do you any good from one life to the next! Why shouldn’t you do significant things in this one life, however you define significant?”
“I have to get you to drop modesty and say to yourself, “Yes, I would like to do first-class work.” Our society frowns on people who set out to do really good work. You’re not supposed to; luck is supposed to descend on you and you do great things by chance. Well, that’s a kind of dumb thing to say. I say, why shouldn’t you set out to do something significant. You don’t have to tell other people, but shouldn’t you say to yourself, “Yes, I would like to do something significant.””
“In the first place if you do some good work you will find yourself on all kinds of committees and unable to do any more work. You may find yourself as I saw Brattain when he got a Nobel Prize. The day the prize was announced we all assembled in Arnold Auditorium; all three winners got up and made speeches. The third one, Brattain, practically with tears in his eyes, said, “I know about this Nobel-Prize effect and I am not going to let it affect me; I am going to remain good old Walter Brattain.” Well I said to myself, “That is nice.” But in a few weeks I saw it was affecting him. Now he could only work on great problems.
When you are famous it is hard to work on small problems. This is what did Shannon in. After information theory, what do you do for an encore? The great scientists often make this error. They fail to continue to plant the little acorns from which the mighty oak trees grow. They try to get the big thing right off. And that isn’t the way things go. So that is another reason why you find that when you get early recognition it seems to sterilize you. In fact I will give you my favorite quotation of many years. The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, in my opinion, has ruined more good scientists than any institution has created, judged by what they did before they came and judged by what they did after. Not that they weren’t good afterwards, but they were superb before they got there and were only good afterwards.”
“What most people think are the best working conditions, are not. Very clearly they are not because people are often most productive when working conditions are bad. One of the better times of the Cambridge Physical Laboratories was when they had practically shacks – they did some of the best physics ever.”
“Great scientists tolerate ambiguity very well. They believe the theory enough to go ahead; they doubt it enough to notice the errors and faults so they can step forward and create the new replacement theory. If you believe too much you’ll never notice the flaws; if you doubt too much you won’t get started. It requires a lovely balance.”
“If you do not work on an important problem, it’s unlikely you’ll do important work.”
“And even if you believe that great science is a matter of luck, you can stand on a mountain top where lightning strikes; you don’t have to hide in the valley where you’re safe.”
“I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don’t know quite know what problems are worth working on; all the hard work you do is sort of tangential in importance. He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important.”
“I had computing in research and for 10 years I kept telling my management, “Get that !&@#% machine out of research. We are being forced to run problems all the time. We can’t do research because were too busy operating and running the computing machines.” Finally the message got through. They were going to move computing out of research to someplace else. I was persona non grata to say the least and I was surprised that people didn’t kick my shins because everybody was having their toy taken away from them. I went in to Ed David’s office and said, “Look Ed, you’ve got to give your researchers a machine. If you give them a great big machine, we’ll be back in the same trouble we were before, so busy keeping it going we can’t think. Give them the smallest machine you can because they are very able people. They will learn how to do things on a small machine instead of mass computing.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s how UNIX arose. We gave them a moderately small machine and they decided to make it do great things. They had to come up with a system to do it on. It is called UNIX!”
“But if you want to be a great scientist you’re going to have to put up with stress. You can lead a nice life; you can be a nice guy or you can be a great scientist. But nice guys end last, is what Leo Durocher said. If you want to lead a nice happy life with a lot of recreation and everything else, you’ll lead a nice life.”
“If you read all the time what other people have done you will think the way they thought. If you want to think new thoughts that are different, then do what a lot of creative people do – get the problem reasonably clear and then refuse to look at any answers until you’ve thought the problem through carefully how you would do it, how you could slightly change the problem to be the correct one.”
“I am inclined to believe that, in the long-haul, books which leave out what’s not essential are more important than books which tell you everything because you don’t want to know everything. I don’t want to know that much about penguins is the usual reply. You just want to know the essence.”
“Somewhere around every seven years make a significant, if not complete, shift in your field.”
“If you want to be a great researcher, you won’t make it being president of the company. If you want to be president of the company, that’s another thing. I’m not against being president of the company. I just don’t want to be. I think Ian Ross does a good job as President of Bell Labs. I’m not against it; but you have to be clear on what you want. Furthermore, when you’re young, you may have picked wanting to be a great scientist, but as you live longer, you may change your mind. For instance, I went to my boss, Bode, one day and said, “Why did you ever become department head? Why didn’t you just be a good scientist?” He said, “Hamming, I had a vision of what mathematics should be in Bell Laboratories. And I saw if that vision was going to be realized, I had to make it happen; I had to be department head.” When your vision of what you want to do is what you can do single-handedly, then you should pursue it. The day your vision, what you think needs to be done, is bigger than what you can do single-handedly, then you have to move toward management. And the bigger the vision is, the farther in management you have to go. If you have a vision of what the whole laboratory should be, or the whole Bell System, you have to get there to make it happen. You can’t make it happen from the bottom very easily. It depends upon what goals and what desires you have. And as they change in life, you have to be prepared to change. I chose to avoid management because I preferred to do what I could do single-handedly. But that’s the choice that I made, and it is biased. Each person is entitled to their choice. Keep an open mind. But when you do choose a path, for heaven’s sake be aware of what you have done and the choice you have made. Don’t try to do both sides.”
“At Bell Labs everyone expected good work from me – it was a big help. Everybody expects you to do a good job, so you do, if you’ve got pride. I think it’s very valuable to have first-class people around. I sought out the best people. The moment that physics table lost the best people, I left. The moment I saw that the same was true of the chemistry table, I left. I tried to go with people who had great ability so I could learn from them and who would expect great results out of me. By deliberately managing myself, I think I did much better than laissez faire.”

Bob H——-
“How to fail a philosophy exam: Confuse Hume with Berkeley. If you have never heard of Berkeley, just confuse Hume.”

Jordan Hart
“Black lives matter.
“ALL lives matter!”
Save the whales.
“Save ALL animals!”
Bernie Sanders for president.
“EVERYONE for president!””
“Just read a Facebook comment where someone called Bernie Sanders a Nazi.
Ah yes, the Jewish Nazi. That’s the worst kind of Nazis there is.”

Nick H——
“And even if we can look past all of that, off the record means you aren’t allowed to record or transcribe it. It doesn’t mean you can’t discuss tone, inflection, or the 45th POTUS being a fuckboi.”

Felix Hausdorff
“Whoever invented the fable of the happiness of childhood forgot three things: religion, upbringing, and the early phases of sexuality.”

Kieran Healy
“Like society itself, sociology is motley and manifold.” (Fuck Nuance)

“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”
“thought must begin by placing itself at the standpoint of Spinozism; to be a follower of Spinoza is the essential commencement of all Philosophy.”

Martin Heidegger
“Who thinks greatly must err greatly.”

Werner Heisenberg
“The positivists have a simple solution: the world must be divided into that which we can say clearly and the rest, which we had better pass over in silence. But can any one conceive of a more pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say clearly amounts to next to nothing? If we omitted all that is unclear we would probably be left with completely uninteresting and trivial tautologies.” (Physics and Beyond – Encounters and Conversations)

Joseph Heller (Catch-22)
“Mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.”

Matt Hefner
“There is a God, and he uses units.”

Jimi Hendrix
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Gregg H——–
“I once wrote in an essay that two books were alike because they were both different from another book.”

“reminds me of when I was formatting someones flash drive at school, and
accidentally formatted the computer (prefered GParted, then forgot to
change the device).”

Richard Hofstadter
“Tocqueville saw that the life of constant action and decision which was entailed by the democratic and businesslike character of American life put a premium upon rough and ready habits of mind, quick decision, and the prompt seizure of opportunities-and that all this activity was not propitious for deliberation, elaboration, or precision in thought.”

John Andrew Holmes
“It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.”

Bojack Horseman
“One day, you’re gonna look around and you’re gonna realize that everybody loves you…but nobody likes you. And that is the loneliest feeling in the world.”
“When you’re wearing rose-colored glasses all the red flags just look like flags.”

Gregory House
“Everybody dies.”
“Everybody lies.”
“I’m sure this goes against everything you’ve been taught, but right and wrong do exist. Just because you don’t know what the right answer is — maybe there’s even no way you could know what the right answer is — doesn’t make your answer right or even okay. It’s much simpler than that. It’s just plain wrong.”
“I thought I’d get your theories, mock them,then embrace my own. The usual.”
“You can live with dignity. You can’t die with it.”
“Pick your specialist, you pick your disease.”
“The Asian kid who doesn’t leave the library after 20 hours straight, they’re the ones who don’t care what people think.”
“Disappointment is anger for wimps.”
“If porn was bad, why would there be so many nuns in it?”
“Good things usually happen. Bad things sometimes happen.”
“Everybody lies. Except me. To you. I would never do that.”
“A man loves an imaginary being that’s never going to respond to him. He’s no crazier than millions of church-goers.”
“It’s not a marriage. It’s a felony.”
“I know you. You’ll do the honest thing. You’ll lie.”
“I’m unfamiliar with that species of bad idea. Unless it’s the sort where you just dive too far into your own thoughts, overanalyzing every little thing until the shade of the curtains is the world telling you it hates you.”

Elbert Hubbard
“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”

Davd Hume
“Most fortunately it happens, that since Reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, Nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends. And when, after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.” (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding)

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