June 6, 2019

“Knowledge is power” – and everything most people know about that quote is wrong!


THE FLAWED TRADITIONAL ATTRIBUTION:

“Knowledge itself is power.” (“...ipsa scientia potestas est”)
       Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
       English philosopher and essayist
       Meditationes Sacrae, De Haeresibus (1597)
       Thousands of books and websites claim that Sir Francis Bacon coined or first recorded the saying “Knowledge is power.” In fact, that concept existed long before Bacon’s time and the Latin phrase “scientia potestas est,” which means “Knowledge is power,” probably did as well. Bacon used a version of it in his essay De Haeresibus (“Of Heresies”), one of ten essays in his book Meditationes Sacrae (“Religious Meditations”), which he wrote in Latin. 
       In one of Bacon’s typically long, run-on sentences, full of much religious and philosophical blah-blah-blah, the Latin words scientia (knowledge, science), est (is) and potestas (power, strength) are embedded in a longer phrase. The full phrase is “nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.” This is generally translated as “for knowledge itself is power.” That’s not quite as pithy as “Knowledge is power.” Moreover, in the context of the sentence and Bacon’s points in the essay, it doesn’t actually have the literal meaning that has become a cliché. In the essay, Bacon was making an obtuse argument about atheists and other people who deny the will and power of God, including those who give more weight to God’s knowledge than His power. Bacon argued that God’s knowledge is itself power.   


COOLIO’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“If knowledge is power and power is knowledge, then
  how so many idiots be graduating from colleges?” 
       Coolio
       American rap musician, record producer and actor 
       A line in the lyrics of his song “The Winner” (on the Space Jam movie soundtrack)


CERSEI’S COUNTERQUOTE:

Power is power!”
       Cersei Lannister (played by actress Lena Headey
       A point she makes, menacingly, to Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (actor Aidan Gillen), in the first episode of Season Two of HBO’s series Game of Thrones.
       In this intense scene, Baelish hints to Cersei that he knows she has an incestuous relationship with her brother and might use that knowledge to his advantage. “Prominent families often forget a simple truth,” he says. “Knowledge is power.”
       Cersei responds by telling her guards: “Seize him. Cut his throat.” The guards grab Baelish and prepare to carry out her order. As Baelish begins to panic, Cersei says almost flippantly: “Stop. Oh, wait. I’ve changed my mind. Let him go.” After they do, she glares at Baelish and tells him an even higher truth that applies in the world of Game of Thrones: “Power is power!”


THE KICK-BUTT COUNTERQUOTE:

“Knowledge is not power. It’s the implementation of knowledge that is power. It’s not what you know that matters, it’s what you do with what you know that matters.”
       Larry Winget
       American author and motivational speaker
       In his book Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life: A Kick-Butt Approach to a Better Life  (2011)


A VERSION APPLICABLE TO FERGUSON?

“Knowledge may be power under some circumstances, but, in others, power rests on denial and studied displacement. This image of a smoothly functioning social order lends itself to the creation of the capacity for fascist self-delusion.”
       An observation in the book Ethnography in Unstable Places: Everyday Lives in Contexts of Dramatic Political Change
       Edited by Carol J. Greenhouse, Elizabeth Mertz, Kay B. B. Warren
       (Cartoon by Kevin Siers)

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May 23, 2019

“Live fast, die young…”


THE FAMOUS MOVIE QUOTE:

“Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse!” 
        A saying popularized by the 1949 noir film Knock on Any Door, adapted from Willard Motley’s 1947 novel of the same name
        Sometimes cited as “Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse,” this saying is often associated with actor James Dean, whose wild lifestyle and death in a car crash at age 24 fit seemed to epitomize the first four words. Dean didn’t say the line in any of his own movies. But he was a fan of Knock on Any Door and Dean’s friend John Gilmore said Dean quoted it to him in conversations.
        In the movie adaptation, the line “Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse!” is said by actor John Derek. He plays the character Nick Romano, a young Italian hoodlum from the Chicago slums accused of killing a cop. The movie line comes directly from the novel. In the book, Nick says it several times and cites it as his motto.
        Though the novel and film helped popularize the saying, it was already in use when Motley wrote Knock on Any Door. Garson O’Toole, author of book Hemingway Didn’t Say That and the QuoteInvestigator.com website, has found precursors dating back to the 1800s.
        For more background on this famous quotation, see the post on my ThisDayinQuotes.com site at this link.


THE COUNTRY MUSIC VERSION:

“I wanna live fast, love hard, die young
And leave a beautiful memory.”

        Faron Young (1925-1966)
        American country music performer
        The refrain from his popular 1955 song “Live Fast, Love Hard, and Die Young,” written by Joe Allison
        Young committed suicide in 1996 at age 64. Live Fast, Love Hard was used as the title of a biographical book about him published in 2012.


THE METAL MUSIC VERSION:

“Live fast, die old.”
        Slogan associated with Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, frontman of the British heavy metal band Motörhead
        This phrase, which was used as the title of a 2005 documentary about the band, seemed to sum up Lemmy’s personal philosophy and was quoted in obituaries and comments about him when he died in 2015 at the age of 70.


HOT MOM VARIATION #1:

“Live Fast Die Hot”
        Jenny Mollen
        American magazine writer, columnist for Playboy Online, book author and actress
        Title of a 2016 book collecting some of Mollen’s humorous articles


HOT MOM VARIATION #2:

“Live Fast Die Pretty”
        Slogan on a women’s tank top sold by CartelInk.com


TOM SERVO’S MST3K QUIP:

“Live fast, die young, and leave a fat, bloated, ugly corpse.”
        A quip by Tom Servo during the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring the so-bad-it’s-good biker movie Wild Rebels (1967), when the fat, ugly, biker character named “Fats” is shot


RICKY GERVAIS’ OFFICE QUIP:

“You know that old thing, live fast, die young? Not my way. Live fast, sure, live too bloody fast sometimes, but die young? Die old. That’s the way. Not orthodox. I don’t live by ‘the rules’ you know.”
        UK actor/comedian/director Ricky Gervais, as the pompous character David Brent
        In the “Party” episode of the TV series The Office (Season 2, Episode 3, first aired in the UK in 2002).

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May 16, 2019

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”


THE FAMOUS MISQUOTED MENCKEN QUIP:

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
        H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
        American journalist, essayist, satirist and scholar of American English
        The famous “quote” above is the commonly-used paraphrase of what Mencken wrote in his column in the September 19, 1926 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. In that column, he was remarking on the recent trend toward “tabloid newspapers” that were geared toward uneducated readers, which Mencken described as “near-illiterates.”
        What Mencken actually wrote was in that column was:
        “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
        For more background on this traditionally misquoted quotation, see the post on my This Day in Quotes site at this link.


POLITICAL APPLICATION #1:

“No one ever went broke underestimating the ability of Congress to do its job.”
        Tanya Snyder
        Columnist for Politico.com
        In a column about the government shutdown caused by Congress’ inability to agree on federal budget legislation, published by Politico.com on January 22, 2018.


POLITICAL APPLICATION #2:

“Maybe no one ever did go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people, and perhaps there is a sucker born every minute, but don’t we want a president who at least thinks those are open-ended questions?”
        Joyce Kulhawik
        American arts and entertainment critic and blogger
        Commenting in an April 28th, 2011 post on her blog on rumors that Donald Trump might run for president.


POLITICAL APPLICATION #3:

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the nincompoopery of New York’s city council. Now along comes Upper West Side member Helen Rosenthal to crank up the stupid, declaring her appreciation of the vandalism last week of a statue depicting the globally famous photo of a U.S. sailor kissing a dental technician in Times Square to mark the end of the Second World War. ‘I appreciate someone recognizing that a random man grabbing a random woman is completely inappropriate,’ said Rosenthal—having a #MeToo moment as she prepares to run for city comptroller.”
        Bob McManus
        Former editorial page editor of the New York Post now working as a freelance editor, columnist, and writer
        In a February 28, 2019 editorial posted on the website of the City Journal, a quarterly magazine of urban affairs published by the Manhattan Institute. McManus was referring to the statue based on the famed photo of a nurse kissing a sailor who had just returned home after serving in World War II. In February 19 some overly woke idiot spray-painted the anti-sexual harassment hashtag #METOO on the statue.


THE IMMATURE MALE VARIATION:

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the maturity of the American male. On the contrary, as the films of Judd Apatow and magazines like Maxim make clear, immaturity among 20- and 30-something guys is a reliable cash source.”
        Kate Tuttle
        American journalist, critic and author
        In her review of the book Manning Up by Kay S. Hymowit, published in the Boston Globe on March 18, 2011.


THE REALITY SHOW VERSION:

“No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the average American television viewer.”
        The Editors of the motorcycle news site Rideapart.com
        An editorial comment in a review of the Discovery Channel TV series American Chopper.


THE THREESOME APP VERSION:

“No one ever went broke underestimating the willingness of the public to bump uglies in unlikely combinations.”
        The Editors of The Guardian newspaper
        In a short news story about the 3nder online app, which connects people who want arrange “threesome” sexual encounters with other people.


THE SHOPAHOLICS VERSION:

“No one ever went broke underestimating the American public’s hunger to buy, buy, buy. How else can you explain things like Etsy, subscription boxes and the Apple Watch? Often the product seemed like such a good idea at the time...Generally, though, such things get used once or twice and then end up at Goodwill.”
        Donna Freedman
        American freelancer writer and book author
        In an article published on January 20, 2019 on the MoneyTalkesNews.com website.

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April 30, 2019

“Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’…”


THE ACTUAL ORIGINAL QUOTE:

“When I hear ‘culture’...I unlock my Browning!.” (“Wenn ich Kultur höre...entsichere ich meinen Browning!”)                  
       Hanns Johst (1890-1978)
       German playwright and Nazi SS officer  
       The commonly misquoted, misattributed line from Johst’s 1933 play Schlageter
       This line from Schlageter, Johst’s patriotic homage to the German World War I “martyr”
Albert Leo Schlageter, is most widely-known in misquoted paraphrase form, as “When [or Whenever] ever I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun.” The literal translation of the German words “Wenn ich Kultur höre...entsichere ich meinen Browning” is: “When I hear culture...I unlock my Browning.” The ellipsis in the sentence (...) is a pause written into the text by Johst, not an indication of missing text. Most English translations incorrectly use the word whenever in place of when and insert word before culture. In German, Wenn actually means when and wann immer means whenever. Since a Browning is a pistol and the word entsichere (unlock) refers to a gun’s safety catch, the line has also been translated as: “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’ I release the safety on my pistol!” Sometimes the word revolver is used in place of Browning or pistol. Versions of Johst’s original line have been attributed to Nazi leader Hermann Göring and occasionally to other Nazi officials, such as Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels. These and other top Nazis were indeed fans of the play Schlageter and apparently did quote Johst’s line. But Johst deserves the real credit — or blame — for the origin.


AN ANTI-FOODIE APPLICATION:
              

“When I hear the words ‘healthy eating,’ I reach for my pork chop.”
       Dick Stein                
       Jazz show host on Seattle radio station KNKX/KPLU
       In a comment on the KPLU website in June 2014



A TECH NERD’S VIEW OF FASHION:

“When I hear the word couture, I reach for my cyanide pill.”
       A quip posted
on the now defunct TechEye.com site



HENRY MILLER’S GENIUS VARIATION:

“When I hear the word Culture I reach for my revolver. Remember that? So, too, when I hear the word Genius.”
       Henry Miller (1891-1980)
       American novelist and painter
       In Henry Miller on Writing (1964)



GROUCHO’S VERSION:

“When I hear the word culture I reach for my wallet!”
       Attributed to Groucho Marx
       American comedian, writer, stage, film, radio, and television performer
       Attributed to Groucho in Urban History: Volume 22 (1995), published by Cambridge University Press



THE POSTMODERN VARIATION:

“When I hear the word ‘postmodern’ I reach for the remote control. I want to change channels immediately, before I get instantaneously and totally bored.”
       McKenzie Wark
       Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at The New School in New York City
       In his book Virtual Geography: Living with Global Media Events (1994)



THE PUKE BOWL VARIATION:

“When I hear the word nobility I reach for the puke bowl.”
       Maeve Kelly 
       Irish novelist, short-story writer and poet
       Said by a character in Kelly’s novel Necessary Treasons (1985)



A WINE LOVER’S VERSION:

“When I hear the word culture I don’t reach for an Uzi, I reach for a corkscrew and a bottle of venerable and well chilled sauterne. Viniculture. Noble rot, mutating nobler by the minute.”
       Glenn O’Brien
       American journalist
       In an article included in his book Soapbox: Essays, Diatribes, Homilies and Screeds (1997)



A PRODUCER’S VIEW OF GOVERNMENT:

“It is unlikely that the government reaches for a revolver when it hears the word culture. The more likely response is to search for a dictionary.” 
      
David Glencross (1936-2007)
       Television executive and producer for Britain’s ITV
       Comment at the Royal Television Society conference on the future of television in November 1988
       Quoted in the Oxford Essential Quotations Dictionary (1998)



A LOVE HATER’S VERSION:

“When I hear the word love, I reach for my revolver.”
       Gore Vidal (1925-2012)
       American-born novelist, screenwriter and playwright
       Quoted in the book S and M, Studies in Sadomasochism (1983), edited by Thomas S. Weinberg and G. W. Levi Kamel



QUIRKY, EDGY, INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER’S QUOTE:

“‘Independent.’ I’m so sick of that word. I reach for my revolver when I hear the word ‘quirky.’ Or ‘edgy.’ Those words are now becoming labels that are slapped on products to sell them. Anyone who makes a film that is the film they want to make, and it is not defined by marketing analysis or a commercial enterprise, is independent.”
       Jim Jarmusch
       American movie director, producer, screenwriter and actor
       Quoted in the
“Personal Quotes” section of his bio on IMDB.com



STEPHEN HAWKING’S CAT QUIP:

“When I hear of Schrödinger’s cat, I reach for my pistol.”
       Stephen Hawking
       British theoretical physicist and cosmologist
       A favorite Hawking quip that’s
often mentioned in articles about him. It refers to Erwin Schrödinger’s famed “thought experiment” about a cat that is simultaneous dead and alive. The “Schrödinger’s cat” paradox highlights a problem inherent in certain aspects of quantum theory.

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April 8, 2019

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”



THE FAMOUS UNCF SLOGAN:

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
        Advertising tagline used by the United Negro College Fund since 1972
        The slogan was coined in 1971 by Forest Long, an executive with the Young & Rubicam ad agency. The campaign using the slogan was launched in earnest in 1972. It has helped raise more than $2.2 billion and helped more than 350,000 minority students graduate from college.
        Over the decades, it has also sparked many serious and humorous variations. Some of my faves are shown below.



ROMER’S OFT-RECYCLED CRISIS QUIP:

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”
        Paul Romer
        American economist
        Romer is credited with coining this saying in a 2004 venture capital meeting in California.
        It was picked by and recycled in various ways by other economic and political observers. The best-known political use was by Rahm Emanuel, when he was Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama. In a soon widely-quoted interview at a Wall Street Journal CEO Council forum on November 19, 2008, Emanuel said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” Rahm was speaking about the 2008 bank crisis in particular, but said the principle should also be applied to other areas facing serious problems, such as health care, energy, and education.



THE CLASSIC MEL BROOKS MOVIE QUIP:

The Sheriff of Rottingham (actor Roger Rees) “Kill him!” [Referring to a mime who tried to entertain him and Prince John at a banquet.]
Prince John (actor Richard Lewis): “You know, a mime is a terrible thing to waste.”
The Sheriff: “ Let him go.”
        In the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), directed by Mel Brooks and co-written by him, Evan Chandler and J. David Shapiro.



THE CLASSIC SHIRLEY MACLAINE MOVIE QUIP:

Ouiser Boudreaux (actress Shirley MacLaine): “A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
        In the movie Steel Magnolias (1989)



THE AVID COMPOSTER’S RULE:

“Compost...Because a Rind is a Terrible Thing to Waste!”
        Title of a composting manual by Jean Bonhotal and Karen Rollo, published by the Cornell Waste Management Institute (1996)



THE HAIRY UPPER LIP RULE:

“A Mustache Is A Terrible Thing To Shave”
        A humorous slogan used by the American Mustache Institute



STERN’S DICKISH VARIATION:

“A penis is a terrible thing to waste.”
        Howard Stern
        American radio and TV show host
        Stern used this line for a controversial fundraising effort on behalf of John Bobbit (whose penis had been cut off by his wife Lorena) as part of Stern’s New Year’s Rotten Eve Pageant in 1994. Stern was indeed supportive of John at the time, though many observers now view him as an abusive husband who pushed Lorena to her breaking point. (Portrait of Stern by the great Drew Friedman.)



THE INFAMOUS QUAYLE BLOOPER:

“When you take the UNCF model that, what a waste it is to lose one’s mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful, how true that is.”
        Dan Quayle
        Republican politician who served as Vice President of the United States under George Bush (1989-1993)
        Quayle became notorious for his malapropisms. He uttered this mangled version of the UNCF slogan at a United Negro College Fund event on May 9, 1989. It quickly became one of the most-cited “Quaylisms” and, among other things, inspired the title of the unauthorized “autobiography” of Quayle, What a Waste It Is to Lose One’s Mind.

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