January 17, 2017

“Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” (Or, as Franklin actually said: “Il n’y a rien d’assure que la mort et les impôts.”


“Nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) 
       American “founding father,” publisher, diplomat and scientist 
       This is the usual English translation of a comment Franklin made
in a letter he wrote to French scientist Jean-Baptiste Leroy, dated November 13, 1789.
       Franklin wrote his letter to Leroy in French. His “death and taxes” remark was related to the Constitution of the United States of America, which had been adopted two years earlier. What he actually wrote was:
       “Notre constitution nouvelle est actuellement établie, tout paraît nous promettre qu’elle sera durable; mais, dans ce monde, il n’y a rien d’assure que la mort et les impôts.”
       The common English translation of this sentence is: “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”  (Sometimes the last part is translated as “
Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”)
       As noted by the invaluable
Phrase Finder site and other reference sources, similar quotations about death and taxes pre-date Franklin’s letter. But the English translation of Franklin’s version is certainly the most famous. (For more background see this post on my ThisDayinQuotes.com blog.)

Donald Trump cartoon from usnewscom


“With Donald Trump as President almost nothing is certain except uncertainty itself.”
       David C. Kibbe
       President and CEO of the non-profit healthcare information technology organization DirectTrust 
       A remark quoted in a January 9, 2017 press release discussing health industry IT trends that seems applicable to more than health industry IT trends.
       (Cartoon by Dan Wasserman.)


“The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”
       Attrib. to
Will Rogers (1879-1935)
       American humorist
       A quip
widely attributed to Rogers, but without any specific source
       There’s no contemporary record of Rogers uttering or writing this old joke. However,
quote maven Barry Popik has noted that a similar line was used by another humorist Rogers had a connection with, the witty newspaper columnist Robert Quillen (1887-1948).
       In several of the humorous columns Quillen wrote in the early 1930s, he said the “difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time the legislature meets.” In a 1934 column, Quillen added Congress, saying: “The main difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get any worse every time congress or the state legislature meets.” That same year, movie producer George Marshall and screenwriter Lamar Trotti visited Quillen and purportedly used him as the model for the newspaper editor Will Rogers played in the film Life Begins at Forty. The film’s credits credit Quillen for “contributing dialogue.” My guess is that, if Rogers ever did use the line about Congress, he may have borrowed it from Quillen.


“Death and taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them!”
Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)
       American novelist, journalist and philanthropist  
       This is what the character
Scarlett O’Hara says about the “untimeliness” of her pregnancy, in Chapter 38 of Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind
       The line was not used in the classic 1939 movie adaptation, in which actress Vivien Leigh played Scarlet. But if it had been, I imagine her adding one of her favorite sayings: “Fiddle-dee-dee!”


“In life only one thing is certain, besides death and taxes...No matter how hard we try, No matter how good our intentions, we are going to make mistakes.”
Dr. Meredith Grey (played by Ellen Pompeo)
       In the
“Heart of the Matter” episode of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy (Season 4, Episode 4, first aired Oct. 18, 2007)


“Ben Franklin was wrong. There is more certainty in life than just death and taxes. There is also the very reliable need for ‘just one more’ piece of golf equipment.”
Dorothy Langley
       American author and golfer
In her book A View from the Red Tees: The Truth About Women and Golf (1997)


“To the typical American on the eve of the twentieth century it appeared a unique country, a land of promise where one person's gain was another person’s opportunity, and the inevitable was not just death and taxes but improvement and growth.”
Richard M. Abrams
       Historian and Professor Emeritus, University of California at Berkeley
       An observation
in his book The Burdens of Progress, 1900-1929 (1978)


“Besides death and  taxes, this too is certain: The American economy will never return to its  maximum prosperity until it completes a very broad-based tax reform.” 
Glenn Hubbard and Peter Navarro
In their book Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity (2010)

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December 31, 2016

“Ring out the old, ring in the new” … Happy New Year from QuoteCounterquote.com!


“Ring out the old, ring in the new.”
Alfred Tennyson (a.k.a. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson; 1809-1892)
       English poet 
       Famous line from Tennyson’s
In Memoriam A.H.H. (1850)
Many websites and books say these familiar words linked to New Year’s Eve are from a Tennyson poem titled “Ring Out, Wild Bells.” Technically, that’s incorrect. 
       The verses that go by that name come from Tennyson’s epic work, In Memoriam A.H.H., his elegiac musings on the death his friend
Arthur Henry Hallam (the “A.H.H.” in the title). In Memoriam A.H.H. is essentially a very long poem comprised of 131 short ones that are referred to as cantos. These cantos were not given individual names by Tennyson. The popular title “Ring Out, Wild Bells” are the first four words of the canto that includes the line “Ring out the old, ring in the new.” (Canto CVI, or 106 in Roman numerals). Here’s the part where the famous lines first appear…  
out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
                 The flying cloud, the frosty light:
                 The year is dying in the night;
              Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. 
              Ring out the old, ring in the new,
                 Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
                 The year is going, let him go;
              Ring out the false, ring in the true.

       The tradition of tolling bells to “ring out” the year that is ending and “ring in” the new one predates Tennyson.
It’s actually an old custom in England and many countries around the world. However, Tennyson is generally credited for cementing “Ring out the old, ring in the new” into the English language and making it a linguistic tradition associated with New Year’s celebrations.  

Phil Hands, I want my country back 

      “Gloom is a terrible way to ring out the old, and despair is of no help in trying to imagine the new.
       So let us consider what good might come from the political situation in which we will find ourselves in 2017.  Doing this does not require denying the dangers posed by a Donald Trump presidency or the demolition of progressive achievements he could oversee. It does mean remembering an important distinction President Obama has made ever since he entered public life: that ‘hope is not blind optimism.’
      ‘Hope,’ he argued, ‘is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.’”
E.J. Dionne Jr.
       American political commentator and professor at Georgetown University      
his December 28, 2016 column in the Washington Post
by Phil Hands for the Wisconsin State Journal)


“Bring out the old, bring in the new
A midnight wish to share with you
Your lips are warm, my head is light
Were we alive before tonight?
I don't need a crowded ballroom
Everything I want is here
If you're with me, next year will be
The perfect year.”

Don Black
       English lyricist
       Lyrics from
“The Perfect Year,” one of the songs in the musical Sunset Boulevard, with lyrics by Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. (First performed in London in 1993.)


“Yesterday, today was tomorrow
And tomorrow, today will be yesterday
So, ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

George Harrison (1943-2001)
       English rock musician
       From the lyrics of his 1974 song
“Ding Dong, Ding Dong” (included on the Dark Horse album)

James Joyce finnegans_wake

“Wring out the clothes! Wring in the dew! Godavari, vert the showers! And grant thaya grace! Aman.”
James Joyce (1882-1941)
       Irish novelist and poet 
from his novel Finnegans Wake (1939)
       What's Joyce’s version mean? Well,
in his book Verbal Behavior (1957), American psychologist B.F. Skinner offered this, er, helpful explanation: “Joyce’s line ‘Wring out the clothes, wring in the dew’ borrows strength from the latent intraverbal sequence ‘Ring out the old, ring in the new,’ as well as from a current theme of women washing clothes in the open air. The line may not be musical, it may or may not evoke emotional or practical responses, but it clearly manipulates verbal strength. It is this verbal play which is reinforcing to the reader and hence indirectly to the writer.” ... Got it?


“Wring out the Old; Bring in the New...
The Old: Sponges can be sanitized in the microwave.
The True: Using the microwave can be risky...there is the possibility of starting a fire.”
The American Cleaning Institute (formerly the Soap and Detergent Association)
       In the
January/February 2009 edition of the organization’s newsletter, "Cleaning Matters"

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December 17, 2016

Facts are stubborn things – but not half so stubborn as fallacies...

John Adams, Facts are stubborn things quote TDIQ


“Facts are stubborn things.”
       John Adams (1735-1826)
       American lawyer and Founding Father who became the second President of the United States
       Adams famously used this saying on December 4, 1770, during his defense of the British soldiers on trial for the March 5, 1770 incident popularly called the “Boston Massacre.”
       That incident started when a Boston man got into an argument with a British soldier. Eight other soldiers who came to protect their comrade were soon surrounded by a large crowd of hostile Americans, who pelted them with snowballs and ice chunks. The soldiers panicked and shot into the crowd, killing five men. When the soldiers were arrested and put on trial for murder a Tory merchant asked John Adams to defend them. He accepted the case. 
       Many irate Bostonians wanted the soldiers executed for murder. Adams argued they’d been provoked and were not cold-blooded killers. During his summation he said: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence...This was a provocation, for which the law reduces the offence of killing down to manslaughter.” The jury agreed. Six of the soldiers were acquitted. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and punished by having their thumbs branded. 
       “Facts are stubborn things” became one of Adams’ best-known quotations. Some people think he coined it. In fact, it was already a proverbial saying. (For more background see the post on my ThisDayinQuotes.com site at this link.)

John McCain, Face the Nation, Dec 11, 2016


“I don’t know what to make of it because it’s clear the Russians interfered. Whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s a subject of investigation, but the facts are stubborn things.”
       John McCain
       American Republican politician who has long served as US Senator for Arizona 
       Comment in an interview on the CBS news show “Face the Nation,” December 11, 2016
       This was McCain’s response when asked about Donald Trump’s recent dismissal of reports by US intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of emails on servers of the Democratic National Committee, with the apparent intent of hurting Hillary Clinton’s campaign and helping Trump win the November 2016 presidential election. Earlier that day, Trump told Fox News he didn’t believe it.

internet obsessed with pizzagate


“Zombie claims are stubborn things. No matter how many times you debunk them, they keep rising from the dead.”
       Michelle Ye Hee Lee
       Washington D.C.- based reporter for the Washington Post
       In her May 8, 2016 column in the Post
       Lee was commenting on the type of claims that seem increasingly common in the realm of politics nowadays; claims that continue to be spread and believed by many people even after they have been proven false.

Lucy Maud Montgomery - Facts are stubborn WM2


“Facts are stubborn things, but as someone has wisely said, not half so stubborn as fallacies.”
       Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)
       Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning in 1908 with Anne of Green Gables, written under her pen name L.M. Montgomery 
       This line, from Montgomery’s book Anne of the Island (1915), is in a letter written by the character Stella Maynard.

quote-Mark-Twain-facts-are-stubborn-but-statistics FALSE


“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”
       Attributed (wrongly) to Mark Twain (1835-1910)
       This quip is credited to Twain by thousands of internet posts and many books
       One problem: the facts don't support that claim. As noted by language maven Barry Popik in his post about the quote on his Big Apple site, there’s no evidence Twain ever said it. It appears to be one of the many fake Mark Twain quotes that float around. 

Reagan August 15, 1988 Republican National Convention


“Facts are stupid things.”
       Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
       American actor-turned-politician; 40th President of the United States
       In his speech at the August 15, 1988 Republican National Convention
       Reagan made this unfairly-mocked slip in the part of his speech that focused on the economic problems he blamed on his Democratic predecessor, President Jimmy Carter. “Before we came to Washington,” Reagan said, “Americans had just suffered the two worst back-to-back years of inflation in 60 years...Fuel costs jumped through the atmosphere, more than doubling. Then people waited in gas lines as well as unemployment lines. Facts are stupid things.”
       Reagan immediately corrected himself, adding: “Stubborn things, I should say.” But once the word stupid came out of his mouth, that’s the version that was picked up and satirized by his critics.



“January is the month of broken resolutions. The gyms are packed for a week, Jenny Craig is full of new recruits and houses are cleaned for the first time in ages. We pledge to finally become the person we want to be: svelte, neat and punctual. Alas, it doesn’t take long before the stairmasters are once again sitting empty and those same dirty T-shirts are piling up at the back of the closet… Human habits, in other words, are stubborn things, which helps explain why 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure, according to a 2007 survey of over 3,000 people conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman.”
       Jonah Lehrer
       American writer and speaker 
       In an article he wrote for Wired.com in January 2012 

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November 29, 2016

“The power of Christ compels you!” … and the power of Patty, fiber, comedy, Kanye and Taylor.

“The power of Christ compels you!”


“The power of Christ compels you!”
       The words from the Catholic “Rite of Exorcism” repeated multiple times by the characters Father Merrin and Father Damien (played by Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) in the movie The Exorcist (1973), as they try to exorcize the demon that possesses Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair). 
       You can watch the scene where they chant the line as Regan floats in the air above her bed by clicking
this link or the image at left.
       It still gives me goosebumps. 

Catholic exorcisim rite


“I adjure you, ancient serpent...to depart from this servant of God, whom almighty God has made in His image. Yield, therefore, yield not to my own person but to the minister of Christ. For it is the power of Christ that compels you.” 
       Part of the official Catholic “Rite of Exorcism”
       The instructions for the rite explain that it should be used get rid of a demon in “the person possessed.” It adds the helpful tip that the afflicted party “should be bound if there is any danger.”

the power of Patty compels you


“The power of Patty compels you!” 
       Line shouted by character Patty Tolan (played by Leslie Jones) in the
the 2016 version of the movie Ghostbusters.
       Patty yells this while slapping the face of her friend Abby Yates (actress Melissa McCarthy), in an attempt to exorcize the ghost that possesses Abby’s body.
       It works. After the ghost leaves, Abby quips: “Ow! That’s gonna leave a mark.”

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter DVD


“The Power of Christ Impales You!” 
       Ad tagline for the indie comedy-horror movie Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)

Robin Williams Weapons of Self Destruction


“The drugs make you so constipated, I thought they were gonna have to bring in a priest to do a f**king exorcism. ‘Demon turd, fall from his ass! The power of fiber compels you! The power of fiber compels you!’
       Robin Williams (1951-2014)
       American comedian and actor
       Riffing on the constipation caused by the pain medication he took after heart surgery, in his 2009 HBO special Weapons of Self-Destruction.

Sarah Silverman You're Being Ridiculous Al Franken


“Silverman filled the time by scolding Bernie Sanders supporters for refusing to unite behind Hillary...Being chewed out by a flailing comedian is the way to ‘get over it’? The power of comedy compels you! The power of comedy compels you! Good luck with that.”
       Ed Morrissey
       Senior Editor of the HotAir.com website
       An observation he made in a post the day after comedian Sarah Silverman told disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters at the 2016 Democratic National Convention: “To the ‘Bernie or Bust’ people, you’re being ridiculous.” Morrissey was also referencing Senator Al Franken’s attempt to make light of the uncomfortable situation. As Sanders supporters booed Silverman loudly, Franken, who was standing with her
at the podium, tried to defend Sarah by saying: “This is a comedian. This is the power of comedy.”

The Power of Kanye Compels You 2


       These words, spray-painted on a brick wall, gained attention when a photo
showing Taylor Swift standing next to them was posted in various places on the internet.
       Commenters on the photo debated whether it was the real Taylor Swift or an impersonator.
Either way, given her longstanding feud with Kanye West, it ‘s kinda funny.
       Not funny is the recent breakdown in Kanye’s mental health. But it did made me think...The doctors in the The Exorcist assumed Regan was “just” mentally ill. Maybe someone should look into whether West has had any contact with Pazuzu or Captain Howdy.

The Power of Taylor Compels You


A Photoshopped version of the Kanye graffiti a Taylor Swift fan posted on her blog, with the comment “Fixed it.”

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November 16, 2016

"Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”– from Macbeth and Trump memes, to Slackers and Superman…

Macbeth sound and fury quote V3 wm


“Life’s but a walking shadow...a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

William Shakespeare
Act 5, Scene 5
       Even if you’re not a Shakespeare fan you’ve probably seen or heard things or people
described as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” These words are spoken by Macbeth near the end of The Bard’s play about him, first performed in 1606. They reflect Macbeth’s realization that all the scheming he’d done and the murders he’d committed to become the King of Scotland had ultimately led him to a joyless, grim and meaningless end. Macbeth says the lines after being told that his wife is dead. Soon after, so is he.
       The phrase “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” turned into a common way of saying that something, or some person, is loud or attention-getting but essentially inconsequential or irrelevant. 
       Author William Faulkner helped make “sound and fury” an an especially common phrase by titling what would become his most famous novel
The Sound and the Fury (first published in 1929).
       By the way, if you are a Shakespeare fan like me, I highly recommend two modern adaptations of Macbeth that you can stream on Amazon: the 2010
PBS “Great Performances” adaptation starring Patrick Stewart as Macbeth in a fascist-style realm, and the visually-stunning 2015 film starring Michael Fassbender in the title role.

Sound and fury idiot Trump


       One of the many snarky internet
memes about candidate Donald Trump posted on Facebook prior to his victory in the November 8, 2016 presidential election, a result that was widely dismissed as unlikely or even impossible before it happened.

Trump protesters November 2016


“Whatever reactions the protesters have, they need to face the facts that Clinton’s large margin in popular votes didn’t translate into an electoral victory. Their protests are mostly ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ more than profound disappointment.”
       Mitch Edelman
       American journalist
In his column about the post-election anti-Trump on the Carroll County News site, November 14, 2016

Slacker book Richard Linklater


“I’m what, a slacker?...I’m in that white space where consumer terror meets irony and pessimism, where Scooby Doo and Dr. Faustus hold equal sway over the mind, where the Butthole Surfers provide the background volume, where we choose what is not obvious over what is easy. It goes on...like TV channel-cruising, no plot, no tragic flaws, no resolution, just mastering the moment, pushing forward, full of sound and fury, full of life signifying everything on any given day.”
Richard Linklater
       American filmmaker, screenwriter and actor 
In his book Slacker (1992), about the making of his 1991 movie Slacker             

LA Story movie poster


“Sitting there at that moment I thought of something else Shakespeare said. He said, ‘Hey, life is pretty stupid, with lots of hubbub to keep you busy but really not amounting to much.’ Of course I'm paraphrasing.”
Steve Martin as the character Harris K. Telemacher
In the movie L.A. Story (1991)

Miss Peregrine’s Home poster


“Once you get past all the sound and fury, what you’re left with is basically emptiness.”
Allison Shoemaker
       Staff writer for the Consequence of Sound entertainment website
In her review of Tim Burton's 2016 film Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Dawn of Justice poster


“‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is a rancid brew of silence, sound and fury, signifying the absolute worst the comic book movie genre has to offer.” 
Alex Biese
       American entertainment journalist and reviewer
In his review of the film for the Asbury Park Press, March 28, 2016

       NOTE: For some other uses and variations of “full of sound and fury…” see the previous QuoteCounterquote.com post at this link.

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