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Sidney Coleman

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Not only God knows, I know, and by the end of the semester, you will know.
--
Said during one of his lectures at Harvard University .

 
Sidney Coleman

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“How come you write the way you do?” an apprentice writer in my Johns Hopkins workshop once disingenuously asked Donald Barthelme, who was visiting. Without missing a beat, Donald replied, “Because Samuel Beckett was already writing the way he does.”
Asked another, likewise disingenuosly, “How can we become better writers than we are?”
“For starters," DB advised, “read through the whole history of philosophy, from the pre-Socratics up through last semester. That might help.”
“But Coach Barth has already advised us to read all of literature, from Gilgamesh up through last semester....”
“That, too,” Donald affirmed, and turned on that shrewd Amish-farmer-from-West-Eleventh-Street twinkle of his. “You’re probably wasting time on things like eating and sleeping. Cease that, and read all of philosophy and all of literature. Also art. Plus politics and a few other things. The history of everything.”

 
Donald Barthelme
 

"He is credited with starting the Green Revolution in the mid-1960s and saving millions of lives from starvation. Since 1984, he has been a professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M, where he teaches one semester every year. But he is by no means semi-retired. At 86, he remains as active as ever - carrying his brand of prairie pragmatism to fight hunger around the world and in the classroom. Think big. Fight complacency. That is the essence of his message, whether he's talking to heads of state or college freshmen."

 
Norman Borlaug
 

She was kind of shy, and halfway through the year, in fact, it was the end of the second semester where the other kids had been doing the debating and making the fiery speeches and stuff, Michelle hadn't volunteered very much. But then we did the Harry Truman trial, where they bring in witnesses. The players had to get some other kids to participate, so a little peer pressure. Michelle ended up being one of the victims of the bomb. She gets on the stand, and she had dressed herself up as a victim and had gauze and everything. She starts to talk, and she starts crying. You ever been in a play or something where you feel kind of uncomfortable that all of a sudden someone's doing something so emotional you don't know what to do? She does that to the class. And they're looking, and they can't figure out. What the hell is she doing? She hasn't been like this all year. It was just a stunning performance. And we thought, God, she really is a victim of the bomb. To the end of the year, we had her take on some more responsibility. But that was the first little bit of acting.

 
Michelle Pfeiffer
 

As I near the end of my personal recollections of life at M.I.T., it is impossible to refrain from relating my eye-witness stories about a brilliant man, Norbert Wiener, and his lovable eccentricities. I took two semester courses under Professor Wiener: one was Fourier Series and Fourier Integrals, and the other was, I believe, Operational Calculus. It is vivid in my memory that Professor Wiener would always come to class without any lecture notes. He would first take out his big handkerchief and blow his nose very vigorously and noisily. He would pay very little attention to his class and would seldom announce the subject of his lecture. He would face the blackboard, standing very close to it because he was extremely near-sighted. Although I usually sat in the front row, I had difficulty seeing what he wrote. Most of the other students could not see anything at all. It was most amusing to the class to hear Professor Wiener saying to himself, "This was very wrong, definitely." He would quickly erase all he had written down. He would then start all over again, and sometimes murmur to himself, "This looks all right so far." Minutes later, "This cannot be right either," and he would rub it all out again. This on- again, off-again process continued until the bell signaled the end of the hour. Then Professor Wiener would leave the room without even looking at his audience.

 
Norbert Wiener
 

At the beginning of each semester, I tell students that my economic theory course will deal with positive, non-normative economic theory. I also tell them that if they hear me making a normative statement without first saying, "In my opinion," they are to raise their hands and say, "Professor Williams, we didn't take this class to be indoctrinated with your personal opinions passed off as economic theory; that's academic dishonesty." I also tell them that as soon as they hear me say, "In my opinion," they can stop taking notes because my opinion is irrelevant to the subject of the class -- economic theory. Another part of this particular lecture to my students is that by no means do I suggest that they purge their vocabulary of normative or subjective statements. Such statements are useful tools for tricking people into doing what you want them to do. You tell your father that you need a cell phone and he should buy you one. There's no evidence whatsoever that you need a cell phone. After all, George Washington managed to lead our nation to defeat Great Britain, the mightiest nation on Earth at the time, without owning a cell phone.

 
Walter E. Williams
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