I particularly thought this was cute:
"It is one of the first duties of a professor, for example, in
any subject, to exaggerate a little both the importance of his
subject and his own importance in it. A man who is always asking
‘Is what I do worth while?’ and ‘Am I the right person to do it?’
will always be ineffective himself and a discouragement to
others. He must shut his eyes a little and think a little more of his
subject and himself than they deserve."
You are just a curmudgeonist!
Erdős is a good counterexample to his argument. Even Euler. Many famous mathematicians have produced good work late in their lives.
I think people these days are just not emotionally honest, people have to be 'positive' all the time.
“I am saved, I think, because it appears that Hardy’s logic to some extent parallels mine. Why is it important for the man who “can bat unusually well” to become “a professional cricketer”? It is, presumably, because those who can bat unusually well are in short supply and so the few who are gifted with that talent should do us all the favor of making use of it. If those whose “judgment of the markets is quick and sound” become cricketers, while the good batters become stockbrokers, we will end up with mediocre cricketers and mediocre stockbrokers. Better for all of us if the reverse is the case.
But this, of course, is awfully similar to the logic I myself employed. It is important for me to spend my life explaining what I’d learned because people who had learned it are in short supply — much shorter supply, in fact (or so it appears), than people who can bat well.”
"I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world."
He contributed a lot of practical findings in math. The Hardy-Weinberg principle comes to mind...
(I do not say that to diminish its importance, which is an entirely separate matter. And something can be mathematically trivial but still an important discovery -- the cleverness may e.g. reside in noticing that it's a thing that might be true at all. Be all that as it may, I can't imagine Hardy, given his general dismissive attitude to applications of mathematics, seeing it as a discovery rather than a triviality that happened to be useful to biologists.)
As an added bonus, he cites Karl Pearson
Despite all that, I consider myself horrible at math. I am aware that I know only a small portion, and even that portion, poorly.
So maybe Hardy spent more time focusing on what he didn't know, and measured his achievements based on that rather than on what he did know.
I was once in a position where lots of people wrote me letters seeking to tell me about their talents. All the letters went unread to my dustbin. True and sad.
As for discussion. Is not the quote "We live
either by rule of thumb or on other people’s professional
knowledge." the most antithetical to hacker culture you've ever heard?!?
Also, to be fair, the elementary analysis book which Hardy wrote under the title A Course of Pure Mathematics by today's standards would hardly qualify as a book on 'pure math' anyway.
I think it should be fair. It's no secret what these precision guided bombs are being used for, so why should the nerds that continue to work on them be free of culpability?
I think I first started learning LaTeX in 2007 or 2008. I began writing HTML around 1995. IMO, anything resembling a "document" that you expect to be useful longer than a year or two should be written in LaTeX, or at least something based directly on TeX. Alternatively, just use plain text. Anything else just doesn't have a comparable shelf-life.
Whether it was intended to render to screen or print is totally irrelevant. If anything, stay away from screen-oriented formats because there hasn't been a standard "screen" format like, ever, with the possible exception of TTY geometries.
And output format isn't even the half of the relevant qualities to worry about when it comes to shelf-life. TeX is basically written in Pascal. TeX is a standard as well as its own future-proof implementation, permitting pixel-perfect reproduction across decades. I expect direct ports of TeX to Web Assembly not long after the standard sees adoption.
Of course, TeX is not the same thing as PDF; not even remotely. But TeX is oriented toward the world of hard copies, and I hardly see that as a fault. But even if so, it's de minimis in the grand scheme of things.