April 19, 2012

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”


“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
Irina Dunn
       Australian writer, filmmaker and political activist
       Feminist slogan
said to have been coined by Dunn in 1970
       This modern humorous saying, suggesting that women can get along fine without men, was often attributed to American feminist leader and writer Gloria Steinem until Steinem set the record straight
in a letter to the editor she sent to TIME magazine in 2000. Steinem credited Dunn with coining the phrase and Dunn later confirmed Steinem’s attribution. As noted on many websites, Dunn said: “Yes, indeed, I am the one Gloria referred to. I was paraphrasing from a phrase I read in a philosophical text I was reading for my Honours year in English Literature and Language in 1970. It was ‘A man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle’. My inspiration arose from being involved in the renascent women’s movement at the time, and from being a bit if a smart-arse.”
       Some sources, such as THE YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, say that Dunn was probably referring to a quote by U.S. Psychologist Charles S. Harris. In a 1955 introduction to one of his philosophy classes at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College, Harris wrote
“A man without faith is like a fish without a bicycle.” His line was used in an early rock musical performed at Swarthmore in 1957 and reprinted in the April 8, 1958 issue of the Swarthmore College Phoenix, in a humor column Harris wrote for that campus publication. 
       Many posts on the Internet identify a similar quote — “Man needs religion like a fish needs a bicycle” — as “Vique’s Law.” No sources I have found clearly identify who Vique was, what he said the line in or when he said it. So, that quotation remains elusive and may be phony. However, there is proof in old news clips that quips using the “...like [some animal] needs a bicycle” formulation have been around almost as long as bicycles. For example, the excellent, always well-researched
Phrase Finder website notes an example in a December 1898 edition of The Hartford Courant newspaper, in which a writer opined that Aragon, Spain “didn’t need an American consul any more than a cow needs a bicycle; for it had no trade with America, and no American tourist ever dreamed of stopping there.”


David Cohen
       American editorial cartoonist and musician 
       Bumper sticker slogan shown in a Cohen cartoon included in a recent issue of
FUNNY TIMES. The cartoon was Cohen’s comic jab at a Republican and male-dominated Congressional committee that decided to prevent any women from testifying in favor of the Obama administration's rule requiring health insurers to cover birth control, at a so-called hearing on February 16, 2012. The morning panel of “experts” who testified consisted entirely of men from conservative religious organizations that opposed the rule.


“A man with a woman is like a fish with a bicycle. He doesn't really need it and the maintenance is a bit of a drag, but what the hell, at least he has something to ride if the mood takes him.”
       An enlightening comment by “Memnoch”
       In the “Jokes & Humour > Words of Wisdom” section of
the BC Forums site“The forum that lets you SPEAK YOUR MIND! AND lets you play unlimited arcade games.”


“I have to admit now I sure need my husband a whole lot more than a fish needs a bicycle. In my case, maybe I could change the analogy to ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs that little snail that eats all the crud off the walls of the tank and makes the place a little less lonely.’ But the spirit of sisterhood the original statement implies is still something I believe in…probably now more than ever. A woman needs her girlfriends.”
       From a post by the unnamed woman author of the
“Are You Finished Yet?” blog


“It has been said that a woman with a man is like a fish without a bicycle. So it must be said that roses are red and violets are blue and I'm a schizophrenic — and so am I.”
Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)
       Canadian actor and comic genius (who I sorely miss)
       In his funny golf instruction video Bad Golf My Way (1994)

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April 4, 2012

The blind leading the blind…


“If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
       Jesus (c. 5 B.C. - c. 30 A.D.)  
       As quoted in the Bible’s Book of Matthew, 15:14 (King James Version)
Chapter 15 of the Book of Matthew, which includes the famous story of the loaves and fishes, is also the source of the well-known metaphor “the blind leading the blind.” The meaning is simple. Blind men can’t see anything, so following them is foolish and risky. People typically use this metaphor — and variations of it — to poke fun at someone they view as ignorant, stupid or misguided.
       Jesus used “blind leaders of the blind” to refer to the “scribes and Pharisees,” the dominant group of Jewish rabbis at the time. They favored strict adherence to traditional Jewish religious laws and traditions.
In Chapter 15 of Matthew, a group of scribes and Pharisees comes to Jesus and complains that his followers were violating the tradition of the Jewish elders that required people to wash their hands before eating. Jesus tells them cleanliness of the hands is unimportant; cleanliness of the heart is the important thing. Jesus’ point was that a slavish following of religious rules was less important than following the basic moral concepts he taught. When his disciples warned him he had offended the Pharisees, Jesus replied (as given in the King James Version of the Bible):
“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” 
       Jesus then went to Galilee, where he miraculously turned seven loaves of bread and “a few little fishes” into a feast that fed “four thousand men, beside women and children.” The Bible doesn’t mention whether any of them washed their hands before eating.


“The young leading the young, is like the blind leading the blind; ‘they will both fall into the ditch.’ The only sure guide is he who has often gone the road which you want to go. Let me be that guide; who have gone all roads, and who can consequently point out to you the best.”
       Lord Chesterfield (Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield; 1694–1773)
one of his many didactic letters to his son, Philip Stanhope, dated November 24, 1747


“When the blind lead the blind, no wonder they both fall into matrimony.” 
       George Farquhar (1678-1707)
       Irish playwright
In his play Love and a Bottle (1698), Act 5, Sc. 1


“We have been educated to such a fine — or dull — point that we are incapable of enjoying something new, something different, until we are first told what it’s all about. We don’t trust our five senses; we rely on our critics and educators, all of whom are failures in the realm of creation. In short, the blind lead the blind. It’s the democratic way.” 
       Henry Miller (1891-1980)
       American writer and painter
In his essay “With Edgar Varese in the Gobi Desert” (1944)


“These are the days when men of all social disciplines and all political faiths seek the comfortable and the accepted; when the man of controversy is looked upon as a disturbing influence; when originality is taken to be a mark of instability; and when, in minor modification of the scriptural parable, the bland lead the bland.”
       John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)
       Canadian-born American economist and social critic
In his classic socio-economic book The Affluent Society (1958), Chapter 1


Vanilla Sky is a case of the vain leading the bland. The vanity is provided by Tom Cruise, convincing in the role of a man in a passionate love affair with his own face, and the blandness comes from the overrated writer-director Cameron Crowe, who never met a story he couldn't explain to death at length.”
       Stephen Hunter
       Washington Post movie critic
In his review of the movie Vanilla Sky (2001)

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