Friday, February 16, 2018

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on

2018 headlines I never expected to see back in 1968:

Cryptocurrency Mining Is Impacting The Search For Alien Life

Trans Woman Breast-Feeds After Hospital Induces Lactation


I have others, but I will spare you.

If you ask me, and I know you didn't but that doesn't deter me one bit, much of what passes for journalism today has morphed into The National Enquirer. For readers outside the U.S., The National Enquirer is a tabloid one finds displayed near cash registers in supermarkets. It bombards people waiting in the check-out lines with such attention-grabbing headlines as "Woman in Alaska Gives Birth To Moose" and "Three-Headed Girl Wins Pole-Vaulting Competition" and "Lady Gaga Tells All: My Nightmare Date With Tom Cruise” in fonts of the size usually reserved for presidential assassinations. I am not even kidding. There is no way one can avoid seeing The National Enquirer and other publications of its ilk unless one shops with one's eyes tightly shut.

Be that as it may, and I'm changing subjects now, I used to think I was a fairly well-read person, someone who kept current with important happenings in the world, not one to let grass grow under his feet, and so forth. I was wrong. The little bit of which I am aware is so overwhelmed by the vast amount of information out there it makes one's my head swim. Not to belabor (British: belabour) the point, but what brought this realization (British: realisation) to the forefront of my beleaguered befuddled bewitched, bothered, and bewildered mind was learning recently that two semi-profound statements made by two different acquaintances of mine, statements that have resonated with me through the years and raised my acquaintances several notches in my estimation, have turned out not to have originated with them at all but were first said by others, namely:

1. During a discussion back in the early nineties about the quality or lack of quality in the work being produced by our department, a colleague of mine, Larry A., said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly." It caught me off-guard and I thought it was brilliant. Only recently have I discovered that it was a quotation from G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936).

2. A pastor of ours, Don M., said in a sermon 30 or so years ago, "Some people will never know that Jesus is all they need until they get to the place where He's all they have." Again, bingo! It resonated. It stuck with me. It turns out that Don was paraphrasing something said decades earlier by Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983), a Dutch woman whose family protected Jews from the Nazis during World War II. Her story of her ultimate capture and the years she and her sister spent in a German concentration camp were described in a book (and eventually a motion picture) called The Hiding Place.

The point I'm trying to make is not what a numbskull I am -- I may well be a numbskull but it's not the point I'm trying to make -- but that unless one is saying something so well known that most people recognize the source (Shakespeare, the Bible), one should probably attribute one's words to their originator whenever possible. I don't mean that you need to go around saying, "As Richard Nixon once said, 'I am not a crook' " or “As John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’.” Nor am I advocating that you take an encyclopedic approach either, as in "Tall oaks from little acorns grow, which was alluded to as early as 1374 by Geoffrey Chaucer in Troilus and Criseyde (“as an ook cometh from a litel spyr”), more recently by Thomas Fuller in 1732 in Gnomologia (“The greatest Oaks have been little Acorns”), and even poetically by D. Everett in The Columbian Orator, 1797 (“Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow.”)” — that would not be just silly but downright infuriating as well.

No, friends, I’m simply saying don’t let others think something is your own creation when you know it originated with someone else. For example, whenever I say, “Money is like manure. It doesn’t do any good unless you spread it around” I always mention that it is a line from Hello, Dolly!

Because honesty is the best policy.

12 comments:

  1. Is "Honesty is the best policy" an original line of yours?

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    1. kylie, of course not! I ended the post in an ironic way given its contents, and I wondered if anyone would notice and comment about it. Thank you for making my day!

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  2. I seldom make profound statements do I think I'm safe.

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    1. Emma, one is ill-equipped to determine the profundity of one’s own statements. What counts in the profundity game is how other people react to what you have said. You may be more profound than you realize.

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  3. You are meaking assumptions surely. Given that many words of wisdom or statements of the obvious (eg 'Tall oaks from little acorns grow' or Honesty is the best policy) were probably said (as you have demonstrated with the former statement)by many people before the people you knew said them. I concede that "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly." is not likely to be an everyday statement and I've never understood it anyway. The statement by the Pastor seems to me a statement that any person of the cloth has paraphrased in one way or another since preaching began. So I would give the Pastor the benefit of the doubt. Having said that I think the statement is a non-sequitur.

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    1. Graham, you are a gentleman and a scholar (as my dad used to say), much like Franklin D. Roosevelt or his speechwriter who said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” In the context of this comment, that truly is a non-sequitur.

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  4. Hello, RWP! Here we both are, galloping towards yet another birthday, with no idea how or why the intervening months have passed at such an alarming rate.
    As for half remembered quotes, often misquoted, they give those of us with particularly inquiring minds, incentive to Google around at our leisure, in pursuit of originality. Hehehe! That could explain the seemingly rapid passing of time which we manage to leap beyond, betwixt and between...if you see what I mean.
    Keep leaping, blogpal! :-)

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  5. Jinksy, long time no see (to coin a phrase)! The years do fly by, don’t they? Just yesterday I was turning 22 and looking forward to marriage in the spring, and suddenly it’s 55 years later. Google and we particularly enquiring types do have an almost symbiotic relationship! I never looked at it that way before.

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  6. What was the trans woman doing in the hospital to begin with--or was she IN the hospital as opposed to being AT the hospital? You know something of my history with transgender, having grown up with a transgender father. Even so, the whole issue just weirds me out. I want these people to have every right anyone else has, but I'll never be able to acknowledge that they're really what they believe themselves to be.

    "It turns out that Don was paraphrasing something said decades earlier by Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983), a Dutch woman whose family protected Jews from the Nazis"

    Who was Ms Bloom talking about? Surely, the Jews her family protected didn't "find Jesus" because of their plight, that is unless they thought they had to PRETEND to find Jesus in order to be protected (a la, pre-Spanish Inquisition). I'm reminded of the claim that, "There are no atheists in foxholes," a saying that a chaplain came up with. More recently, some atheists started a group called Atheists in Foxholes: http://militaryatheists.org/atheists-in-foxholes/

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  7. Snowbrush, I very much doubt the powers-that-be at the hospital would have induced lactation just because the transgender woman was AT the hospital. My vote goes to IN. Regarding Corrie ten BOOM (not BLOOM0, you can learn more about her in this article about her in Wikipedia. (Spoiler: The article states that "The family never sought to convert any of the Jews who stayed with them." You might argue that they were therefore not very good Christians, but I think that they were very good Christians indeed.)

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  8. Amen to that sir. Another of Horace Vandergelders is;

    "Eighty percent of the people in the world are fools and the rest of us are in danger of contamination."

    As to unlikely headlines I read this one yesterday and it truly beggars belief. I'm not linking to it as it might be a bit racy, but the headline says it all anyway.

    'China wages war on funeral strippers'

    I kid you not.

    Do feel free to edit bits of me out as ever dear Rhymes X

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  9. "You might argue that they were therefore not very good Christians"

    No, I wouldn't argue that, and I can't imagine why you would think that I would argue that, Christianity being very open to interpretation, and my respect going to those who don't try to push the "gospel" onto others. I just heard something about Billy Graham being the unofficial chaplain to presidents of both parties, while his son only favors Republicans. Truly, American religion has moved toward the right, and when their candidates of choice fall out of popularity, their religion will do. It's as the saying goes, a marriage made in hell.

    "I very much doubt the powers-that-be at the hospital would have induced lactation just because the transgender woman was AT the hospital."

    Do we not speak the same language? I hadn't imagined that she went in and said, "Oh by the way, since I'm here anyway, how about making me lactate?" I instead surmised that she had treatments AT the hospital without being admitted TO the hospital, it taking something more serious than a desire to lactate to gain admittance, and how big a deal could it be anyway? If women can be given a drug to stop lactation, maybe it's just as easy to give someone a drug to induce lactation. Of course, I wouldn't want to have it done even for my cats, although I wonder about you and your dog.

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