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| An architect's first work is apt to be spare and clean. He knows
he doesn't know what he's doing, so he does it carefully and with great
As he designs the first work, frill after frill and embellishment
after embellishment occur to him. These get stored away to be used "next
time." Sooner or later the first system is finished, and the architect,
with firm confidence and a demonstrated mastery of that class of systems,
is ready to build a second system.
This second is the most dangerous system a man ever designs.
When he does his third and later ones, his prior experiences will
confirm each other as to the general characteristics of such systems,
and their differences will identify those parts of his experience that
are particular and not generalizable.
The general tendency is to over-design the second system, using
all the ideas and frills that were cautiously sidetracked on the first
one. The result, as Ovid says, is a "big pile."
-- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"
|An authority is a person who can tell you more about something than you
really care to know.
|An economist is a man who would marry Farrah Fawcett-Majors for her money.
|An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both
sides of an issue.
-- Homer Ferguson
|An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician find themselves in an
anecdote, indeed an anecdote quite similar to many that you have no doubt
already heard. After some observations and rough calculations the
engineer realizes the situation and starts laughing. A few minutes later
the physicist understands too and chuckles to himself happily as he now
has enough experimental evidence to publish a paper. This leaves the
mathematician somewhat perplexed, as he had observed right away that he
was the subject of an anecdote, and deduced quite rapidly the presence of
humour from similar anecdotes, but considers this anecdote to be too
trivial a corollary to be significant, let alone funny.
|And the French medical anatomist Etienne Serres really did argue that
black males are primitive because the distance between their navel and
penis remains small (relative to body height) throughout life, while
white children begin with a small separation but increase it during
growth -- the rising belly button as a mark of progress.
-- S.J. Gould, "Racism and Recapitulation"
|And this is a table ma'am. What in essence it consists of is a horizontal
rectilinear plane surface maintained by four vertical columnar supports,
which we call legs. The tables in this laboratory, ma'am, are as advanced
in design as one will find anywhere in the world.
-- Michael Frayn, "The Tin Men"
|... Another writer again agreed with all my generalities, but said that as an
inveterate skeptic I have closed my mind to the truth. Most notably I have
ignored the evidence for an Earth that is six thousand years old. Well, I
haven't ignored it; I considered the purported evidence and *then* rejected
it. There is a difference, and this is a difference, we might say, between
prejudice and postjudice. Prejudice is making a judgment before you have
looked at the facts. Postjudice is making a judgment afterwards. Prejudice
is terrible, in the sense that you commit injustices and you make serious
mistakes. Postjudice is not terrible. You can't be perfect of course; you
may make mistakes also. But it is permissible to make a judgment after you
have examined the evidence. In some circles it is even encouraged.
-- Carl Sagan, "The Burden of Skepticism"
|Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts
which are unobtainable, and three parts which are still under development.
|Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.
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