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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Related reading…

November 16, 2018

“To crush your enemies...”

Conan The Barbarian, What is best in life quote QC wm copy

THE FAMOUS MOVIE QUOTE:

Barbarian General (actor Akio Mitamura): “Conan, what is best in life?”
Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger): “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”

       From the film Conan the Barbarian (released in the US on May 14, 1982)
       Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “crush your enemies” line in Conan the Barbarian became the first of his many famous movie quotations as an actor. It’s also the first line he speaks in the film after a full twenty minutes of backstory recounting how Conan was captured as a boy by brutal barbarian raiders, used as a slave, then trained to be a vicious pit fighter and a warrior for his captors. Here’s the dialog from that scene (which you can watch on YouTube):             
         Barbarian General: “We won again. This is good! But what is best in life?”
         Warrior: “The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, wind in your hair!”
         General: “Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?”
         Conan (Arnold): “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”
         Barbarian General: “That is good.”

      Conan’s last seven words are sometimes quoted as “to hear the lamentation of the women,” because Arnold’s Austrian accent makes the word “their” sound like “deh.” But I’m pretty sure it’s “their women” given the inspiration for the movie quote.
      John Milius, who directed Conan the Barbarian and co-wrote the screenplay with Oliver Stone, didn’t create Arnold’s famed catchphrase from whole cloth. It’s not in the Conan stories written by the creator of the character, Robert Howard. But it’s based on a passage in a book by one of Howard’s favorite writers, Harold Lamb.             
       In Lamb’s classic 1927 biography, Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men, he gives his version of a legendary quotation by the great conqueror at the end of Chapter 11. Lamb wrote:             
          One day in the pavilion at Karakorum he asked an officer of the Mongol guard what, in all the world, could bring the greatest happiness.             
          “The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you,” responded the officer after a little thought, “and a falcon on your wrist to start up hares.”             
          “Nay,” responded the Khan, “to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet—to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best.”

       The version of Khan’s words crafted by Milius (and/or Stone) for Conan the Barbarian became a popular catchphrase that has since been cited and adapted many times. Some of my favorite examples are below...

Conan cartoon, Peter Kuper, New Yorker

THE FAKE NEWS VERSION:

“I said, ‘Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women,’ but the media took that totally out of context.”
       Peter Kuper
       American illustrator and cartoonist
       His caption for a cartoon spoofing Conan and the frequent lament of politicians, published in The New Yorker, January 2017

Portrait of Cohen the Barbarian by Paul Kidby

COHEN THE BARBARIAN’S VARIATION:

[Nomad]: “What is it that a man may call the greatest things in life?”
[Cohen the Barbarian] “Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper.”
       From the Discworld novel The Light Fantastic (1986) by Terry Pratchett            
       This quote by the Cohen character (aka Ghenghiz Cohen) is a is a favorite of Discworld fans. Cohen is an aging, toothless barbarian who speaks with a lisp when he’s not wearing the special dentures he has made from the diamond teeth of the troll Old Grandad.
       (Portrait of Cohen with his diamond dentures by Paul Kidby.)

    John Ortberg

THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL:

“The heroic figure in Conan the Barbarian was actually paraphrasing Genghis Khan when he gave his famous answer to the question ‘What is best in life?'... An alternative idea came from Galilee: What is best in life is to love your enemies and see them reconciled to you.”
       John Ortberg
       Evangelical Christian author, speaker, and senior pastor of the ECO Presbyterian Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California
       In his book Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus (2012)

Internet troll Conan meme

THE INTERNET TROLL MINDSET:

“WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE? TO TROLL YOUR ENEMIES, TO SEE THEM BUTTHURT BEFORE YOU, AND TO HEAR THE LAMENTATIONS OF THEIR FOLLOWERS!”
       An internet meme seen on ImgFlip.com            

    Boo Cocky Robot Chicken Conan

THE ROBOT CHICKEN MUSICAL ADAPTATION:

[Conan singing]: “What is best in life? That is hard to say, for each man is unique in his own way.
As a boy, I liked gumdrops and puppies, sailboats and frogs, and my best friend little Ricky Maebius!
But when I became a young man, what was best in life began to change just like my body.
I liked pretty Stacy Lyon with her long blonde hair and eyes that were blue as the ocean!
But now that I’m grown, my thoughts have changed, and it’s pretty clear to me.
The answer to the question, ‘What is best in life?’ is plain enough for all to see.
Crush your enemies! Crush your enemies! And see them driven before you!
Crush your enemies! Crush your enemies! And see them driven before you!
And hear the lamentations of the women!”

       A hilarious parody song sung by an animated Conan action figure in the “Boo Cocky” episode of the Comedy Channel’s “Adult Swim” cartoon series Robot Chicken (Season 3, Episode 16; first aired September 7, 2008)

    Crush my enemies Christmas t-shirt

CONAN-INSPIRED CHRISTMAS CHEER:

“All I want for Christmas is
TO CRUSH MY ENEMIES
SEE THEM DRIVEN BEFORE ME
AND HEAR THE LAMENTATION
OF THEIR WOMEN”

       Slogan printed on t-shirts and other clothes sold by LookHuman.com            

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November 3, 2018

“Tyranny of the majority” vs. “tyranny of the minority” … Is one worse than the other?

Alexis de Tocqueville 2         

THE MOST FAMOUS HISTORICAL USE:

“Tyranny of the Majority.” (“Tyrannie De La Majorité”)
       Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
       French historian and political pundit 
       Title of a section in Chapter XV of his book Democracy in America (1835)
       Tocqueville’s use of the phrase “Tyranny of the Majority” in his famed book about his travels in America is often credited as its origin. However, he didn’t coin it. There are several documented uses that predate his. For example, it appears in one of the “Letters of Agrippa,” the American
anti-federalist documents believed to be written by James Winthrop in the late 1780s. The Agrippa letter dated February 5, 1788 says: “A bill of rights...serves to secure the minority against the usurpation and tyranny of the majority.” Two decades before that, Voltaire wrote about concept of the tyranny of the many (“tyrannie de plusieurs”) in his Philosophical Dictionary (1764). He said: “One distinguishes the tyranny of one and that of many…Under what tyranny would you like to live better? Under none; but if it were necessary to choose, I would hate less the tyranny of one than that of many."

                  
A TYPICAL MAJORITY VIEWPOINT:

“The tyranny of the minority is infinitely more odious and intolerable and more to be feared than that of the majority.”
       William McKinley (1843-1901)
       U.S. Congressman and 25th President of the United States,             
      
In an address to the House of Representatives, January 1886


A TYPICAL MINORITY VIEWPOINT:

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that of the party...that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
       Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton; 1834-1902)
       British historian, politician and writer 
       In an article in the Quarterly Review, 1879; reprinted in the posthumously published book collecting some of his writings, The History of Freedom (1907)


THE ‘BOTH SUCK’ VIEWPOINT:

“There can be a tyranny of the majority or a tyranny of the minority, tyranny of the government or tyranny of the people through government. Majority and minority, governing and nongoverning, factions seek power and produce evil.”
       Manus I. Midlarsky
       Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Rutgers University
       In his book Handbook of War Studies III (2009)


THE ‘BALANCE BOTH’ VIEWPOINT:

“I don’t like the expression ‘tyranny of the majority’ as we live in a democracy. Whether we like it or not, the will of the majority is the foundation of democracy. This does not prevent individuals from expressing dissent...The best form of leadership is a mix of the collective and the individual. It cannot be one or the other because it is by taking the best aspects of each that we find success.”             
       Rachida Dati
       French politician and Member of the European Parliament
       In an interview posted on the Leaders League website, October 31, 2018


A CONSERVATIVE VIEWPOINT:

“There has been a disturbing trend lately where the tyranny of the minority is now holding sway more and more in the halls of Washington, D.C., thwarting the will of the majority...In health care, the will of the people was thwarted; on the Arizona Immigration issue, the will of the people again was thwarted; and now the will of the people was thwarted in California, which bans same sex marriages.”             
       An editorial on the now defunct conservative blog
Damego.com, August 5, 2010 
       Criticizing the Obama health care legislation, a court decision overturning the anti-immigration law in Arizona, and a court decision overturning the anti-Gay marriage law (Proposition 8) in California


A LIBERAL VIEWPOINT:

“A word like ‘tyranny’ is interesting for its inevitable conjuring up of concerns about the tyranny of the majority, a misstep of democracy that judges – in their independence from the political process – are able to correct.”             
       Chris Geidner
       American journalist and blogger
       In his commentary on the court decision overturning California’s Prop 8 in the Gay & Lesbian news magazine
The Metro Weekly, August 5, 2010

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Related reading about tyranny and tyrants…

October 26, 2018

“Every nation has the government it deserves” – and the criminals, drugs and donuts…


THE FAMOUS MISINTERPRETED QUOTE:

“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
(“Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.”)
      
Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821)
       French-speaking Savoyard philosopher, writer, lawyer and diplomat
       Comment in a letter he wrote in August 1811, later published in Lettres et Opuscules Inedits (1851)
       Whenever Election Day draws near, I am reminded of this famous quote by Joseph de Maistre. He wrote this aphorism in 1811 when he was serving as the King of Piedmont-Sardinia’s envoy to Russian Czar Alexander I. At that time, Alexander was introducing reforms that were moving Russia toward a European-style constitutional government. It’s ironic that Maistre’s quote is now commonly used to suggest that citizens should get more involved in politics, actively push for more democratic governments and rebel against tyrants. Maistre disliked democracy and believed that hereditary monarchies were a divinely-sanctioned, superior form of government. For example, he opposed the French Revolution and supported restoration of the French monarchy. And, in his 1811 letter, Maistre was actually expressing his negative views of Alexander’s reform policies in Russia. He said a European-style constitutional system would be “over the heads” of the Russian people.
One early translation of Maistre’s aphorism in that letter was: “Every nation has the government which it is fit for.” This paternalistic translation may best capture what Maistre really meant. The more familiar translation — “Every nation [or ‘country’] has the government it deserves” — is often wrongly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln. They never said it. Maistre did, but what he meant by it is probably different than what most people think.


THE FAMOUS VERSION ABOUT CRIMINALS:

“Society has the criminals it deserves.”
(“La société a les criminels qu’elle mérite.)
       Alexandre Lacassagne (1843-1924)
       French physician and criminologist                   
       A remark he made in his article “L’homme criminel comparé a l’homme primitif,” in the Bulletin du Lyon médical (1882)
       This quote by Lacassangne is often translated as “Every society has the criminals it deserves,” to parallel Maistre’s quotation. It actually comes from a longer comment Lacassagne made about the justice system: "Justice shrivels up, prison corrupts and society has the criminals it deserves." (“La justice flétrit, la prison corrompt et la société a les criminels qu’elle mérite.”)


ROBERT KENNEDY’S RESPONSE:

“Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”
      
Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)
       U.S. Attorney General and Democratic politician
       In his book
The Pursuit of Justice (1964)


GEORGE ORWELL’S FAMOUS FACE VARIATION:

“At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”
      
George Orwell (1903-1950)
       Last words in his notebook, April 17, 1949
       Published posthumously in
The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell (1968)


THE WOODSTOCK GENERATION VARIATION:

“Everybody gets the drugs they deserve. Everyone gets the god they deserve. Everyone gets the electrons they deserve. Go for it all.”   
      
Dr. Timothy Leary (1920-1996)  
       American psychologist, writer and psychedelic drug guru 
       In the spoken word piece “Fifty Million Years,” on his posthumously released CD
Beyond Life (1996)


THE NEW GENERATION’S VARIATION:

“Not every generation gets the politics it deserves. When baby boomer journalists and politicians talk about engaging with youth politics, what they generally mean is engaging with a caucus of energetic, compliant under-25s who are willing to give their time for free to causes led by grown-ups...We need to being to formulate an agenda of our own.”
      
Laurie Penny 
       British journalist and social activist
       In a chapter she contributed to the multi-author book Fight Back!
(2010)


A PIONEERING PORN MAVEN’S OPINION:

“Every nation gets the pornography it deserves…and if we forbid the writing of erotica to all but those willing to break the law, we have no complaint if the results are mean and inartistic.”
      
Ralph Ginzburg (1929-2006)
       Pioneering American author, editor, publisher and free speech advocate
       In his book An Unhurried View of Erotica (1958)


A PIONEERING RIGHT-WING TELEVANGELIST’S OPINION:

“A godless people will chose a godless leader. A democratic people gets the kind of government it deserves!”
      
Father Charles E. Coughlin (1891-1979)
       Controversial American radio evangelist
       Comment made on
his radio show on January 7, 1940, in one of his rants attacking President Franklin D. Roosevelt


THE FILM CRITIC’S PSYCHOKILLER THEORY:

“Every era gets the psychos it deserves, at least in art. Our own violent culture has splattered us with real-life assassins and serial killers who have pervaded our consciousness through television and newspapers and left a disturbing, revealing, often entertaining legacy of fictional lunatics.” 
       Caryn James

      
American film critic
       In an article about modern psychokiller movies
, published in The New York Times, March 10, 1991
        


THE THEATRE CRITIC’S THEORY:

“Every civilization gets the theatre it deserves.”
      
Michael Feingold 
       Theatre critic for The Village Voice
       Quoted in
Directors and the New Musical Drama (2008)        


THE DONUT CRITIC’S VERSION:

“Was it Alexis de Tocqueville or Jonathan Gold who said, ‘Every city gets the donuts it deserves’? Either way, you have to wonder what Houston did to deserve Shipley Do-Nuts. The Shipleys may be lovely people, and the corporation gets much respect for being active in the community and maintaining its Houston roots. But their donuts are consistently mediocre.”
      
Matthew Dresden   
       Food critic and journalist
       In
an article posted on HoustonPress.com, February 10, 2011

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Related reading: books of quotations about politics and government….

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