April 8, 2015

Opiates of the people: from religion and cellphones to voting and political correctness…


THE FAMOUS OVERSIMPLIFIED SOUND BITE:

“Religion...is the opium of the people.”
(“Die Religion...ist das Opium des Volks.”)
       Karl Marx (1818-83)
       German philosopher, historian and “Founding Father” of socialism and communism
       In his Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right (1844)
       The quote above (sometimes translated as “Religion...is the opiate of the people” or “Religion...is the opium of the masses”) is the familiar, condensed sound bite taken from a more nuanced point Marx made
in the introduction to A Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right. Here’s what he actually said: “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.” 


THE MODERN ZOMBIE APPLICATION:

“Cellphones are the new opiate of the masses, stifling conversation with friends and strangers alike, even worse than those music-carrying earbuds that keep people looking straight ahead like cattle, showing blank, uncurious faces, totally unaware that we might be approaching the slaughterhouse.”
       Tony Vagneur 
       American rancher and newspaper columnist
       In his March 27, 2015 column in the The Aspen Times


THE COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY COUNTERQUOTE:

“REVOLUTION IS THE OPIUM OF THE INTELLECTUALS.”
       Graffiti on a wall in the film
O Lucky Man! (1973)


AN AMERICAN COMMUNIST’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“I think voting is the opium of the masses in this country. Every four years you deaden the pain.”
       Line spoken
the film Reds (1981) by American Communist leader Emma Goldman (played by actress Maureen Stapleton) 
       It does not appear to be taken from Goldman’s actual written works
 


THE ANTI-PC VARIATION:

“Political correctness is the opium of the liberal…It makes them feel good.”  
       Comment in a
letter to the editor in the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, August 20, 2010


THE HOMOSEXUAL TAUTOLOGIST’S VARIATION:

Gudrun (actress Susanne Sachsse): “Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses.”
Holger (actor Daniel Bätscher): “I thought opiates were the opiate of the masses.”
       In the film
The Raspberry Reich (2004)


THE ECONOMISTS’ VARIATION:

“Popular culture distracts and confuses Americans through distorting perceptions of social issues and existing social institutions. If religion was ‘the opium of the masses’ in the nineteenth century, the electronic media is the ‘opium of the masses’ in the late twentieth century.”
       Economists William E. Halal and Kenneth B. Taylor
       In their book 21st Century Economics (1999)

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April 3, 2015

“What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” – or maybe not…


THE (IN)FAMOUS AD SLOGAN:

“What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.”
       Ad slogan used since 2005 by the
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority 
       This famous nudge-nudge, wink-wink line evolved from the earlier advertising slogan
“What Happens Here, Stays Here,” created in 2002 by the Authority’s ad agency R&R Partners, Inc. Both versions suggest (not very subtly) that people can have sexual liaisons or do other wild and crazy things on vacation trips to Las Vegas and keep it secret. The “What Happens in Vegas...” version became the subject of fierce trademark litigation after it began showing up on “unauthorized” t-shirts and other souvenirs. Of course, the basic linguistic formula used in the Vegas ad slogans is not new. For example, a much older saying among traveling salesmen is “What happens on the road, stays on the road.” And, a traditional variation long used by musicians is “What happens on tour, stays on tour.”


THE INDIANA RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT OBSERVATION:

“As much as I’d like to think what happens in Indiana stays in Indiana, that’s not likely to be the case. So even if it was convenient and desirable (or even possible) for every progressive Hoosier to move out, it won’t let us quarantine Indiana so that the garbage legislation doesn’t spread.” 
       Reader comment on a post about the controversy over Indiana's so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” on the progressive blog Shakesville.com
       (Cartoon by Darkow via the Columbia Daily Tribune.)


THE VAGUELY PUNNY VARIATION:

“Ambiguity: What Happens In Vagueness Stays In Vagueness.”
       Slogan on t-shirts sold via CafePress



THE HANGOVER MOVIE VERSION:

“Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except for herpes. That shit’ll come back with you.”
       Actor
Jeffrey Tambor, as the character Sid Garner, in movie The Hangover (2009)



THE BRANSON HANGOVER VERSION:

“You can never leave Branson – it will always stay with you. I’ve hit an All American Wall, suffering from a bad case of Red State Madness – like a hangover but without the drinking, as I shit red, white and blue with a constant dry taste of Jesus in my mouth, amidst bad entertainment, bad food, fat, old Americans and utter lack of culture. As they say, ‘What happens in Branson stays in Branson, especially with Our Lord Jesus Christ looking over it.’”  
       Harmon Leon
       American author, journalist and comedian
 
       In his quirky travel guide
National Lampoon Road Trip USA (2007)
       Commenting on the “family vacation destination” tourist town
Branson, Missouri, where you can see shows like Noah: The Musical



THE FML VERSION:

“Today, I learned that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. This includes my one night stand who turned up outside my front door with a suitcase in her hand.”
       Posted by
“NeverDrinkingAgain” on the FMLife.com website



THE KIDDY VERSION:

“What Happens in Preschool Stays in Preschool”
       Slogan used on
a line of clothing for preschool kids and their parents

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March 27, 2015

One man’s – or woman’s – trash is another’s treasure...


THE TRASH TO TREASURE RULE:

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
        A
popular proverbial saying in America since the late 20th century. Its basic meaning is that something which seems worthless to one person is often deemed valuable by another. This modern proverb is, of course, a variation of the much older English proverb “One man's meat is another man's poison,” which dates back to sometime before 1709, when it was recorded by language scholar Oswald Dykes in his book English Proverbs.


THE TRASHY MEN RULE:

“One woman’s trash is another woman’s boyfriend.”  
      
Laura Ruby 
       American novelist
       Quip made by a character in Ruby’s novel I’m Not Julia Roberts (2007)



THE TRAMP STAMP VARIATION:

“One woman’s tramp stamp is another woman’s declaration of undying love — until she dumps the lying SOB and is stuck with his name forever.”  
       Alexis Munier

       American-born writer currently living in Switzerland
       From her entry about the term “tramp stamp” in
The Little Red Book of Very Dirty Words (2009)



THE FAMOUS COHEN V. CALIFORNIA FREE SPEECH DECISION:

“One man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.”
       U.S. Supreme Court
Justice John M. Harlan II (1899-1971)
       In majority opinion he wrote for the Supreme Court’s decision on
Cohen v. California (1971)
       The case involved an anti-Vietnam War activist named Paul Cohen, who had been convicted of “offensive conduct” and sentenced to 30 days in jail for publicly wearing a jacket that had “FUCK THE DRAFT” printed on it. The Court reversed Cohen’s conviction, finding that it violated his Constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment.



THE REUTERS POLICY ON TERRORISTS:

“We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist...To be frank, it adds little to call the attack on the World Trade Center a terrorist attack.” 
      
Stephen Jukes  
       Former Global News Editor for the Reuters news service, now Dean of the Media School at Bournemouth University in the UK  
       Comments in an
internal memo sent to Reuters staff in September 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, regarding a
still-continuing Reuters policy of avoiding use of the word terrorist.



THE OGDEN NASH QUIP:

“One man’s remorse is another man’s reminiscence.”        
      Ogden Nash (1902-1971) 
       American poet and humorist 
       From his poem “A Clean Conscience Never Relaxes” (1936), included in his book I’m a Stranger Here Myself (1938)



THE BOOB JOB QUIP:

“One woman’s self-objectifying excess is another woman’s décolletage.” 
     
Ann Scales (1952-2012)
       American law professor and author 
       In her book Legal Feminism (2006)



THE CHARLIE SHEEN SPIT JOB QUIP:

“One man’s saliva is another man’s mousse.”
      
Charlie Sheen, as the character Charlie Harper
       In an episode of his former TV series Two and a Half Men (
“Can You Eat Human Flesh with Wooden Teeth?”, first aired February 14, 2005)



ROBERT HEINLEIN’S OBSERVATION ABOUT RELIGION:

“One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh.” 
      
Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)
       American science fiction writer 
       One of the
sayings of the character Lazarus Long, in Heinlein’s novel Time Enough for Love (1973)



NICK MANCUSO’S OBSERVATION ABOUT RELIGION:

“One man’s superstition is another man’s religion!”  
      
Nick Mancuso, as the Indian police officer Youngman Duran 
       One of his lines in the batty horror movie
Nightwing (1979)

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Related reading: books about proverbial sayings and idioms...

March 19, 2015

Fortune favors the brave, the bold – and the prepared, the well-armed and the well-endowed...


THE PROVERBIAL LATIN SAYING:

“Fortune favors the brave.”
       Latin proverb traditionally attributed to
Terence (c. 190-159 B.C.)
      
Many sources say that the first recorded use of this ancient proverb was in the play Phormio (161 B.C.), written by Publius Terentius Afer, the Roman playwright known as Terence for short. It’s a common translation of the Latin phrase “fortis fortuna adiuvat,” which is spoken by a character in Act 1 of Phormio. However, like “Charity begins at home,” another saying traditionally credited to Terence, “fortune favors the brave” is not quite a literal translation of what he wrote in Latin and it may have been a proverbial saying before Terence used it. 
       The Latin word fortis (sometimes misspelled as fortes) does mean brave and fortuna means fortune. Fortuna with a capital F, used in some versions of the classical quote, refers to the Goddess Fortuna (Fortune). However, adiuvat is more literally translated as helps or aids, rather than favors (in the sense of liking or preferring someone). In the Aeneid (c. 19 B.C.), the Roman poet Virgil used another well known variation of the saying: “Audentis Fortuna iuvat.” Both Latin versions have also been translated as
“Fortune favors the bold.” (Audentis, sometimes given as audentes, comes from the Latin verb audeo, which means to dare or to be bold. Iuvat, sometimes spelled juvat, means to help or aid.)
       Regardless of the version or translation, the basic meaning of the saying is clear. Succeeding or being a winner is usually not just a matter of random luck. A person who takes action, acts boldly, takes some risks and strives hard to achieve a goal is more likely to succeed, win or be rewarded than someone who doesn’t.


THE PASTEURIZED PASTEUR DICTUM:

“Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
       Attributed to Louis Pasteur
       French chemist and microbiologist
       This saying, widely attributed to Pasteur, appears to be a simplified, popularized translation of a remark he made during a lecture at the University of Lille on December 7, 1854. What he actually said, in French, was “Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.” A more literal and accurate translation of this line in English is: “In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind
.”


THE CONFEDERATE’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“The great soldier of our century said, ‘Fortune favors the heavy battalions.’”
      
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889)
       American politician and statesman, best known for serving as the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War
       An observation Davis made
in his book The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881). It obviously reflected first-hand experience showing that — regardless of how brave and bold one’s soldiers may be — the side equipped with bigger, better weaponry tends to have the advantage in a battle or a war. Davis didn’t say who he meant by “the great soldier of our century.”


THE QUITTERS COUNTERQUOTE:

“Fortune does not favor the quitter, but neither does it favor the man who insists in hanging on long after he has been proved wrong and advised to change.”
       The Retail Clerks International Association (forerunner of the
The Retail Clerks International Union)
       Advice given
in a 1925 edition of the group’s Advocate magazine


THE ECONOMIC REALITY VARIATION:

“An unregulated market is not a market, but simply a lottery in which fortune favors the most cynical.”
      
Nicolas Sarkozy
       President of France
      
Remark at the conference of the G-20 agriculture ministers in Paris, June 2011


THE MODERNIZED MALE FANTASY VARIATION:

“Fortune favors the large-testicled.”
      
Chuck Sudo 
       American journalist, Former Editor-in-Chief of the Chicagoist
       Advice for fans of Fantasy Football and manly terminology
in a post on the Chicagoist

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March 7, 2015

“None so blind as those that will not see.”



THE BIBLE-RELATED QUOTE THAT’S NOT IN THE BIBLE:

“None so blind as those that will not see.”
      
Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
       English Presbyterian minister and writer
       A saying
popularized by Henry’s use in his Commentary on the Whole Bible (1708)
       Contrary to common belief, this is not a quote from the Bible. It’s
a proverbial English saying with no clear origin. Matthew Henry helped popularize it by using it several times in his widely-read book of explanatory comments about the Bible. The saying was probably inspired by Bible verses, possibly Matthew 13:13 (“Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not…”) or Jeremiah 5:21 (“Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not…”).



THE LAME EXCUSE VARIATION:

“There are none so lame as those who will not walk.”
      
Sir James Marchant (1867-1956)
       British philanthropist and author
       In the book If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach (1928)



THE TRUE BELIEVER PRINCIPLE:

“There are none so positive as those who are but half right.”
      
William McDonnell (1814-1900)
       Canadian writer
       In his novel Family Creeds (1879)



SPURGEON’S VERSION:

“There are none so tender as those who have been skinned themselves.” 
      
Rev. C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
       British Baptist preacher
       From a sermon included in his book Sermons: Volume 6 (1859)



THE UNWORTHY WISH LIST VERSION:

“There are none so bitterly disappointed as those who have got what they wanted, because human nature is so sadly prone to want such things as are unworthy.”
       Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler
(1860-1929)
       British poet and novelist
       In her novel Place and Power (1903)



THE IRRITATING BLOWHARDS PRINCIPLE:

“None so empty as those who are full of themselves.”
      
Benjamin Whichcote (1609–1683)
       British Puritan divine and scholar
       Quoted
in the book Moral and Religious Aphorisms Collected from the Manuscript Papers of the Reverend and Learned Doctor Whichcote (1753)



THE IRRITATING CRITICS PRINCIPLE:


“There’s none so bland as can’t see.”
       Editorial comment in
a 1994 issue of the Theatre Record
       Regarding a critic’s negative review of an avant-garde adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III

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Related reading: books of religious quotations...

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