February 25, 2019

Thorstein Veblen’s “conspicuous consumption” updated…

   


ORIGIN OF THE FAMOUS TERM:

“Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure...In other words, the conspicuous consumer spends money to impress other people and to ensure that others are well aware of the spender’s socioeconomic status.”
        Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)
        Norwegian-American economist and sociologist
        In his book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Chapter 4
        Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to refer to the way some people use obviously lavish spending to demonstrate their wealth (often regardless of whether they are actually wealthy).


THE NEVER TOO RICH OR THIN VERSION:
 
“Being thin is a kind of inconspicuous consumption that distinguishes the rich at a time when most poor people can more easily afford to be fat than thin. Since idealized sex objects are modeled partly on class-associated images, this is surely a factor. For a man to have a thin woman in his arm is a sign of his own worth, and a woman increases her market value by being slender. Fat women are either accorded a nonsexual status in this system, or else (and less publicly) are granted a degraded 'lower class' kind of animal sexuality.”
        Marcia Millman
        Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz
        In her book Such a Pretty Face: Being Fat in America (1980), Chapter 6


EUGENE’S VERSION:

“Conspicuous waste beyond the imagination of Thorstein Veblen has become the mark of American life.  As a nation we find ourselves overbuilt, if not overhoused; overfed, although millions of poor people are undernourished; overtransported in overpowered cars; and also . . . overdefended or overdefensed.” 
        Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005)
        U.S. Democratic politician and author
        In his book America Revisited (1978)


A TESLA CRITIC’S OPINION:

“The Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) roadster has a 1,000 pound battery that needs to be replaced every 7 years at a cost of about $36,000...It’s conspicuous consumption for wealthy liberals — in much the same way that huge SUVs were the vehicle of choice for rich conservatives a few years ago.”
        Kevin McElroy
        American investment analyst
        In a post on his blog on the Wyatt Investment website
        The base price of the newest model of the Tesla Roadster is $200,000.


A WEALTH TAX CRITIC’S OPINION:

“Many...rich Americans aren’t just rich; they are responsibly rich. They made their money the new fashioned way: They worked for it. But they know that luck, not sweat, graced their paths. Their focus is on giving back, not taking more. They pay their taxes, found real charities, endow universities, support hospitals, fund medical research and gamble on products that can help us all. Their lives are lives of conspicuous philanthropy, not conspicuous consumption.”
        Laurence Kotlikoff
        Professor of Economics at Boston University and columnist for The Hill political website
        In an opinion piece arguing against imposing huge taxes on wealthy Americans


THE EXTRAVAGANT SITCOM APPLICATION:

“Sex and the City 2" (R) Sarah Jessica Parker and her gal pals are back in a bloated commercial for conspicuous consumption. It amounts to a long shopping trip through Manhattan followed by a long shopping trip through a resort hotel in Abu Dhabi.”
        Michael Giuliano
        Film critic and Professor of Film/Interdisciplinary Arts at Howard University
        In a “capsule review” of Sex and the City 2 in the Fort Meade, Maryland newspaper in 2010



THE EXTRAVAGANT IPHONE APPLICATION:

“The new champion of conspicuous consumption – iPhone division, the Kings Button iPhone mod, in which Austrian jeweler Peter Aloisson will encrust your device in three kinds of 18-carat gold (white, yellow and rose) and 6.6 carats of diamonds, for the ‘What Financial Crisis?’ sum of $2.5 million.”
        Lonnie Lazar
        American technology writer, musician, web designer and attorney
        In his column on the Cult of Mac website


THE WALMART SHOPPERS APPLICATION:

“Veblen argues that no class, not even the poorest, forgoes all conspicuous consumption. This is even truer of inconspicuous consumption. Even the poorest of the poor can afford a T-shirt with a Caesar’s Palace logo from the half-price rack at Wal-Mart or a hamburger in a bag sporting McDonald’s golden arches. Even the street person can fish things out of the local trash can. Many of the poor spend inordinate amounts on such inconspicuous consumption and, in the process, may ignore essential needs and purchases. This tends to support Veblen’s view that people will endure a quite shabby private life to have the public symbols they deem desirable.”
        George Ritzer
        American sociologist
        In his book Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption (2005), Chapter 10

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February 3, 2019

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (And recount some of the countless variations)


THE ORIGIN OF THE IMMORTAL LOVE QUOTE:

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
      
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
       English poet
       The famous opening words of Sonnet 43, from her Sonnets from the Portuguese
(written 1845-46, published 1850)
       Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett fell deeply in love after meeting at her father’s home in 1845. Elizabeth soon began writing a series of poems expressing her love for Robert. Robert was soon calling her by the pet name
“my little Portuguese,” a reference to her dark hair and complexion. In 1846, they eloped. Four years later, the love poems Elizabeth had written for Robert before they married were published in an anthology of her poetry, under the collective title Sonnets from the Portuguese. Sonnet 43 is the best known. Its ten opening words are among the most famous — and most parodied — bits of poetry in the English language.


THE GRUMPY CAT MEME:

“How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways...
1. Don’t”

        One of the countless Grumpy Cat memes


A PRESIDENTIAL HEADSCRATCHER:

“How are Donald Trump and Abraham Lincoln similar? Let us count the ways.”
        Gene Weingarten
        Acerbic American columnist
        Headline of his October 11, 2018 column about the “meme spreading earnestly across the right aisle of the Internet contending that Donald Trump is such a great president that the only predecessor he can be fairly compared to is … Abraham Lincoln.”
        How do those two presidents compare? Refer to Grumpy Cat's answer above.


A FOOTBALL QUIZ:

“Why Do People Hate The Patriots? Let Me Count The Ways...
1. People are tired of them winning...
2. People hate when you don’t care that you're hated...
3. The most legitimate reason is probably the Deflategate investigation...
4. Another reason is because of Brady and Donald Trump’s friendship...
5. People really do not like the Patriots.”

        Yasaman Khorsandi
        American freelance journalist
        In her column in the Elite Daily website, January 30, 2018. Flash forward to 2019. I suspect there are even more reasons.


THE GLEE HATER’S VERSION:          

“How do I hate GLEE? Let me count the ways. For starters, this is a saccharine snorefest. And don’t even get me started on gleeks, autotune, the characters…”
      
Daniel Bettridge
       British TV and film critic
      
In a review posted on The Guardian’s TV & Radio Blog on March 15, 2010


THE MITT ROMNEY VARIATION:

“Is Mitt Romney, well-coiffed automobile heir and consulting savant, weird? Let us count the ways.”
      
Juli Weiner             
       American writer now on the staff of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver             
      
In a post on Vanity Fair’s “VF Daily” blog, August 9, 2011


THE NANCY PELOSI VARIATION:

“Ah, Nancy how do I love thee, let me count the ways. You stimulate me to no end. My heart flutters when I think about your passing Obamacare. And of course we all know you come from that wonderful city of San Francisco that so embraces our core American values like a collective hate of the McDonald’s Happy Meal.”
      
Dr. Richard Swier
       Conservative blogger and host of the Dr. Rich Show, a Florida-based radio talk show
       In
a November 14, 2010 post bashing Nancy Pelosi, on the now defunct “Red County” website


AN HOMAGE TO RYAN GOSLING’S ARMS:

“How Much Do I Love Ryan Gosling’s Arms? Let Me Count The Ways.
1. They’re huge.
2. They can envelop a pack of wild animals.
3. They were in Young Hercules. (LOL)
4. He can probably crush a can of spinach with the contents flying directly into his mouth Popeye-style.
5. He could probably grill paninis in between his hands.
6. He can hoist Al Roker up over his head, Dirty Dancing style.” 
       Michelle Collins
 
       American comedian and talk show host who was Managing Editor of VH1’s now defunct Bestweekever.tv site
       Gushing about Gosling in
a post on Bestweekever.tv, after seeing him in an appearance on the Today Show.

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January 26, 2019

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”


INFAMOUS VIETNAM WAR QUOTE:          

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
       Comment by a U.S. Army Major during the Vietnam war
       This oft-quoted, oft-mocked remark was included in a new report by Associated Press journalist Peter Arnett that was published in American newspapers on February 8, 1968
. The Major was referring to destruction of the village of Ben Tre by American bombs, to prevent it from being taken by the Communist Viet Cong troops. Arnett did not name the officer, but he was later identified as Major Peter Booris by other sources. The line is sometimes quoted as “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.” To read more about this infamous Vietnam War quotation, see the post on my This Day in Quotes site at this link.


DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN ONE MONTH LATER:          

“In splintered gardens that once grew green, on rubble where a graceful tower had stood, U.S. Marines advance under fire. Here was a paradox of war: the only way Hué could be won was by destroying it.” 
       From the caption of photos in Life magazine, March 8, 1968 showing the remains of the city of Hué during the Vietnam War, after American bombs turned much of it to rubble in an effort to retake control of the city from the Viet Cong               
      


THE TRUMPISM VARIATION:

“It is necessary to destroy the GOP in order to save it. The thing we call ‘Trumpism’ — the demagogic politics of white identitarianism — now exists independently of President Trump. Which shouldn’t surprise us, as Trump did not invent Trumpism; he merely harnessed its electoral potential in a way no presidential candidate had before...I have a radical solution: Dump this Republican Party and start building a new coalition. The party you’ve got now is like the Vietnamese city of Ben Tre: it’s crawling with Trumpist guerrillas.”
        Scott Galupo
        American freelance writer and political commentator
        His variation in the Vietnam quote in and op-ed published in The Week magazine, November 2017


THE MEDICAL METAPHOR:

“When we declare war on a disease, like cancer, we risk limiting understanding of the disease process to models like invasion, or territorial aggression, and so limit imaginable treatments to therapies that eradicate the invaders with poison or radiation. In effect, we accept that in the case of cancer, as in the case of the Vietnamese village of Ben Tre, it may be necessary to destroy the patient in order to save her. (This is not to say that chemotherapy and radiation don’t save lives; they do. Rather, it suggests that a military approach to disease can cause doctors to think of patients as battlefields, rather than as people.)”
       
Rebecca Gordon
        American writer and philosophy professor at the University of San Francisco
        In a 2017 op-ed posted on several sites, including the Common Dreams website


DR. DUBYA STRANGELOVE’S VERSION:

“It Became Necessary to Destroy the Planet in Order to Save It!”
      
Khalil Bendib
       Algerian-born American political cartoonist
       Title of
a 2003 book collecting some of Bendib’s scathing cartoons, including the one on the cover that bashed George W. Bush for launching the Iraq War


ROGER CORMAN MOVIE VERSION:

“GAS-S-S-S...or IT BECAME NECESSARY TO DESTROY THE WORLD IN ORDER TO SAVE IT” 
       The full title of a 1970 Grade-B apocalyptic cult comedy movie directed by Roger Corman
 
       (OK, maybe Grade-Z, but it does have a rare movie appearance by Country Joe and the Fish.)


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December 30, 2018

“Never let them see you sweat.”


ADVICE FROM THE CLASSIC COMMERCIALS:

“Never let them see you sweat.”
       Tagline used in TV commercials for Dry Idea antiperspirants 
       This well-known "neverism" (a term coined for by quote maven Dr. Mardy Grothe), was popularized by a series of TV ads for Dry Idea that ran from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. The series featured various celebrities, including fashion designer Donna Karan, model and actress Lauren Hutton, football coach Dan Reeves and comedian Elayne Boosler. Each celebrity talks about three “nevers” for their particular profession. The third never mentioned in each commercial is: “Never let them see you sweat.”
       For example, Karan says: “There are three nevers in fashion design. Never confuse fad with fashion. Never forget it’s your name on every label. And, when showing your lines to the press, never let them see you sweat.”
       The catchy slogan is credited to veteran ad man Phil Slott, who was then at the BBDO agency. Slott was especially hot at the time, having also recently coined the Navy recruiting ad slogan: “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”


ADVICE FOR MEN:

“At a health club, you could meet business contacts, friends, and, most important, future dates. So, ‘never let them see you sweat’ too much! P.S. Have your hairy back waxed, and no grunting like a farm animal when you’re lifting heavy weights.”
       Frank Vincent
       American actor, musician, writer and producer
       Some of the manly tips in his 2007 book A Guy's Guide to Being a Man’s Man (written with Steven Priggé)

Tina Fey 2                  
ADVICE FOR WOMEN:         

“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”
       Tina Fey

        American actor, comedian, writer, producer, and playwright    
       In her best-selling autobiographical book Bossypants (2011)


ADVICE FOR TEENAGERS:

“Never let them see you sweat. If you lose your cool, you lose your power. Where parents are concerned, indifference is your greatest weapon. If they’re having temper tantrums and laying down all sorts of ridiculous rules, don’t argue. Don’t show any reaction at all. This drives them nuts. When they’re finished, calmly suggest that it might be better to have this discussion when they’re feeling more rational.”
       Sandra and Harry Choron
       In their Book of Lists for Teens (2002)
       The Chorons include this in the list “10 Tips for Raising Well-Adjusted Parents.”


ADVICE FOR SPIES:

Q (actor Desmond Llewelyn): “I’ve always tried to teach you two things. First, never let them see you bleed.”
James Bond (Pierce Brosnan): “And the second?”
Q: “Always have an escape plan.”
       In the film
The World Is Not Enough (1999)



ADVICE FOR STONERS:

“The best way to hide from people that you’re high is to never let them see you sober.”
      
Comment posted by “tyorke” on GrassCity.com    
       In the discussion thread “Are you a functioning stoner?” (Art by R. Crumb.)

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November 25, 2018

“Give a man a fish…”

Give a man a fish photo quote QC


THE OLD PISCATORIAN PROVERB:

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
       A proverbial saying attributed to many different sources
       As noted by quotation maven Garson O’Toole on his Quote Investigator website, this has been cited as a Chinese, Italian, Native American, Biblical and Indian proverb and attributed to various people. Garson, his fellow quote origin sleuth Ralph Keyes, and the Phrases.org site believe that it may be derived from lines written by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, daughter of the famed novelist William Makepeace Thackeray. In her novel Mrs. Dymond, first published in 1885 Macmillan's Magazine, the character Max Du Pare says: “...if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.”
       The saying is also widely attributed to Maimonides, the medieval Jewish philosopher. However, although he did expound on the wisdom of teaching a man a trade as an alternative to charity, he didn’t coin the saying about fish. The attribution to him seems to be a paraphrase that morphed into a common misattribution via internet posts.

Give a man a Santa costume Bizarro.com
THE SEASONAL SANTA VERSION:

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Give a man a Santa costume, feed him for a month.”             
       Dan Piraro
       American cartoonist
       The caption of his Bizarro.com cartoon from December 5, 2016 showing one of the Santas that show up near shopping centers to collect donations every year at Christmas time

Jingo by Terry Pratchett
PRATCHETT’S PROVERB:

“Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.”
       Terry Pratchett
       English author of fantasy novels, best known for his Discworld series
       A dark humor quip in his Discworld novel Jingo (1997)

Muhammad Waseem
THE PROGRAMMER’S LAMENT:

“Give a man a program, frustrate him for a day. Teach a man to program, frustrate him for a lifetime.”
       Muhammad Waseem (Muhammad Waseem Latif)
       Pakistani Software Engineer
       A sardonic joke computer programmers can relate to that is widely attributed to Waseem in posts on the internet, though when he said it is not clear

Lauren DeStefano
THE WRITER’S LAMENT:

“Give someone a book, they’ll read for a day. Teach someone how to write a book, they’ll experience a lifetime of paralyzing self doubt.”
       Lauren DeStefano
       American author best known for her young adult science fiction and fantasy novels
       DeStefano posted this humorous observation on her Twitter feed in 2015. It has since been widely quoted by other writers, including my friend, author Paul Bishop, who brought it to my attention.

Vote for Dogbert
THE POLITICAL SKEPTIC’S APPLICATION:

“Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life. Give him someone else’s fish and he’ll vote for you.”
       A popular internet meme

Give a man a fish prayer
THE RELIGIOUS SKEPTIC’S APPLICATION:

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Give that man a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.”
       Another popular internet meme

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