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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February 25, 2019

Thorstein Veblen’s “conspicuous consumption” updated…

   


ORIGIN OF THE FAMOUS TERM:

“Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure...In other words, the conspicuous consumer spends money to impress other people and to ensure that others are well aware of the spender’s socioeconomic status.”
        Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)
        Norwegian-American economist and sociologist
        In his book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Chapter 4
        Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” to refer to the way some people use obviously lavish spending to demonstrate their wealth (often regardless of whether they are actually wealthy).


THE NEVER TOO RICH OR THIN VERSION:
 
“Being thin is a kind of inconspicuous consumption that distinguishes the rich at a time when most poor people can more easily afford to be fat than thin. Since idealized sex objects are modeled partly on class-associated images, this is surely a factor. For a man to have a thin woman in his arm is a sign of his own worth, and a woman increases her market value by being slender. Fat women are either accorded a nonsexual status in this system, or else (and less publicly) are granted a degraded 'lower class' kind of animal sexuality.”
        Marcia Millman
        Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz
        In her book Such a Pretty Face: Being Fat in America (1980), Chapter 6


EUGENE’S VERSION:

“Conspicuous waste beyond the imagination of Thorstein Veblen has become the mark of American life.  As a nation we find ourselves overbuilt, if not overhoused; overfed, although millions of poor people are undernourished; overtransported in overpowered cars; and also . . . overdefended or overdefensed.” 
        Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005)
        U.S. Democratic politician and author
        In his book America Revisited (1978)


A TESLA CRITIC’S OPINION:

“The Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) roadster has a 1,000 pound battery that needs to be replaced every 7 years at a cost of about $36,000...It’s conspicuous consumption for wealthy liberals — in much the same way that huge SUVs were the vehicle of choice for rich conservatives a few years ago.”
        Kevin McElroy
        American investment analyst
        In a post on his blog on the Wyatt Investment website
        The base price of the newest model of the Tesla Roadster is $200,000.


A WEALTH TAX CRITIC’S OPINION:

“Many...rich Americans aren’t just rich; they are responsibly rich. They made their money the new fashioned way: They worked for it. But they know that luck, not sweat, graced their paths. Their focus is on giving back, not taking more. They pay their taxes, found real charities, endow universities, support hospitals, fund medical research and gamble on products that can help us all. Their lives are lives of conspicuous philanthropy, not conspicuous consumption.”
        Laurence Kotlikoff
        Professor of Economics at Boston University and columnist for The Hill political website
        In an opinion piece arguing against imposing huge taxes on wealthy Americans


THE EXTRAVAGANT SITCOM APPLICATION:

“Sex and the City 2" (R) Sarah Jessica Parker and her gal pals are back in a bloated commercial for conspicuous consumption. It amounts to a long shopping trip through Manhattan followed by a long shopping trip through a resort hotel in Abu Dhabi.”
        Michael Giuliano
        Film critic and Professor of Film/Interdisciplinary Arts at Howard University
        In a “capsule review” of Sex and the City 2 in the Fort Meade, Maryland newspaper in 2010



THE EXTRAVAGANT IPHONE APPLICATION:

“The new champion of conspicuous consumption – iPhone division, the Kings Button iPhone mod, in which Austrian jeweler Peter Aloisson will encrust your device in three kinds of 18-carat gold (white, yellow and rose) and 6.6 carats of diamonds, for the ‘What Financial Crisis?’ sum of $2.5 million.”
        Lonnie Lazar
        American technology writer, musician, web designer and attorney
        In his column on the Cult of Mac website


THE WALMART SHOPPERS APPLICATION:

“Veblen argues that no class, not even the poorest, forgoes all conspicuous consumption. This is even truer of inconspicuous consumption. Even the poorest of the poor can afford a T-shirt with a Caesar’s Palace logo from the half-price rack at Wal-Mart or a hamburger in a bag sporting McDonald’s golden arches. Even the street person can fish things out of the local trash can. Many of the poor spend inordinate amounts on such inconspicuous consumption and, in the process, may ignore essential needs and purchases. This tends to support Veblen’s view that people will endure a quite shabby private life to have the public symbols they deem desirable.”
        George Ritzer
        American sociologist
        In his book Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption (2005), Chapter 10

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February 3, 2019

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (And recount some of the countless variations)


THE ORIGIN OF THE IMMORTAL LOVE QUOTE:

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
      
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
       English poet
       The famous opening words of Sonnet 43, from her Sonnets from the Portuguese
(written 1845-46, published 1850)
       Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett fell deeply in love after meeting at her father’s home in 1845. Elizabeth soon began writing a series of poems expressing her love for Robert. Robert was soon calling her by the pet name
“my little Portuguese,” a reference to her dark hair and complexion. In 1846, they eloped. Four years later, the love poems Elizabeth had written for Robert before they married were published in an anthology of her poetry, under the collective title Sonnets from the Portuguese. Sonnet 43 is the best known. Its ten opening words are among the most famous — and most parodied — bits of poetry in the English language.


THE GRUMPY CAT MEME:

“How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways...
1. Don’t”

        One of the countless Grumpy Cat memes


A PRESIDENTIAL HEADSCRATCHER:

“How are Donald Trump and Abraham Lincoln similar? Let us count the ways.”
        Gene Weingarten
        Acerbic American columnist
        Headline of his October 11, 2018 column about the “meme spreading earnestly across the right aisle of the Internet contending that Donald Trump is such a great president that the only predecessor he can be fairly compared to is … Abraham Lincoln.”
        How do those two presidents compare? Refer to Grumpy Cat's answer above.


A FOOTBALL QUIZ:

“Why Do People Hate The Patriots? Let Me Count The Ways...
1. People are tired of them winning...
2. People hate when you don’t care that you're hated...
3. The most legitimate reason is probably the Deflategate investigation...
4. Another reason is because of Brady and Donald Trump’s friendship...
5. People really do not like the Patriots.”

        Yasaman Khorsandi
        American freelance journalist
        In her column in the Elite Daily website, January 30, 2018. Flash forward to 2019. I suspect there are even more reasons.


THE GLEE HATER’S VERSION:          

“How do I hate GLEE? Let me count the ways. For starters, this is a saccharine snorefest. And don’t even get me started on gleeks, autotune, the characters…”
      
Daniel Bettridge
       British TV and film critic
      
In a review posted on The Guardian’s TV & Radio Blog on March 15, 2010


THE MITT ROMNEY VARIATION:

“Is Mitt Romney, well-coiffed automobile heir and consulting savant, weird? Let us count the ways.”
      
Juli Weiner             
       American writer now on the staff of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver             
      
In a post on Vanity Fair’s “VF Daily” blog, August 9, 2011


THE NANCY PELOSI VARIATION:

“Ah, Nancy how do I love thee, let me count the ways. You stimulate me to no end. My heart flutters when I think about your passing Obamacare. And of course we all know you come from that wonderful city of San Francisco that so embraces our core American values like a collective hate of the McDonald’s Happy Meal.”
      
Dr. Richard Swier
       Conservative blogger and host of the Dr. Rich Show, a Florida-based radio talk show
       In
a November 14, 2010 post bashing Nancy Pelosi, on the now defunct “Red County” website


AN HOMAGE TO RYAN GOSLING’S ARMS:

“How Much Do I Love Ryan Gosling’s Arms? Let Me Count The Ways.
1. They’re huge.
2. They can envelop a pack of wild animals.
3. They were in Young Hercules. (LOL)
4. He can probably crush a can of spinach with the contents flying directly into his mouth Popeye-style.
5. He could probably grill paninis in between his hands.
6. He can hoist Al Roker up over his head, Dirty Dancing style.” 
       Michelle Collins
 
       American comedian and talk show host who was Managing Editor of VH1’s now defunct Bestweekever.tv site
       Gushing about Gosling in
a post on Bestweekever.tv, after seeing him in an appearance on the Today Show.

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January 26, 2019

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”


INFAMOUS VIETNAM WAR QUOTE:          

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
       Comment by a U.S. Army Major during the Vietnam war
       This oft-quoted, oft-mocked remark was included in a new report by Associated Press journalist Peter Arnett that was published in American newspapers on February 8, 1968
. The Major was referring to destruction of the village of Ben Tre by American bombs, to prevent it from being taken by the Communist Viet Cong troops. Arnett did not name the officer, but he was later identified as Major Peter Booris by other sources. The line is sometimes quoted as “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.” To read more about this infamous Vietnam War quotation, see the post on my This Day in Quotes site at this link.


DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN ONE MONTH LATER:          

“In splintered gardens that once grew green, on rubble where a graceful tower had stood, U.S. Marines advance under fire. Here was a paradox of war: the only way Hué could be won was by destroying it.” 
       From the caption of photos in Life magazine, March 8, 1968 showing the remains of the city of Hué during the Vietnam War, after American bombs turned much of it to rubble in an effort to retake control of the city from the Viet Cong               
      


THE TRUMPISM VARIATION:

“It is necessary to destroy the GOP in order to save it. The thing we call ‘Trumpism’ — the demagogic politics of white identitarianism — now exists independently of President Trump. Which shouldn’t surprise us, as Trump did not invent Trumpism; he merely harnessed its electoral potential in a way no presidential candidate had before...I have a radical solution: Dump this Republican Party and start building a new coalition. The party you’ve got now is like the Vietnamese city of Ben Tre: it’s crawling with Trumpist guerrillas.”
        Scott Galupo
        American freelance writer and political commentator
        His variation in the Vietnam quote in and op-ed published in The Week magazine, November 2017


THE MEDICAL METAPHOR:

“When we declare war on a disease, like cancer, we risk limiting understanding of the disease process to models like invasion, or territorial aggression, and so limit imaginable treatments to therapies that eradicate the invaders with poison or radiation. In effect, we accept that in the case of cancer, as in the case of the Vietnamese village of Ben Tre, it may be necessary to destroy the patient in order to save her. (This is not to say that chemotherapy and radiation don’t save lives; they do. Rather, it suggests that a military approach to disease can cause doctors to think of patients as battlefields, rather than as people.)”
       
Rebecca Gordon
        American writer and philosophy professor at the University of San Francisco
        In a 2017 op-ed posted on several sites, including the Common Dreams website


DR. DUBYA STRANGELOVE’S VERSION:

“It Became Necessary to Destroy the Planet in Order to Save It!”
      
Khalil Bendib
       Algerian-born American political cartoonist
       Title of
a 2003 book collecting some of Bendib’s scathing cartoons, including the one on the cover that bashed George W. Bush for launching the Iraq War


ROGER CORMAN MOVIE VERSION:

“GAS-S-S-S...or IT BECAME NECESSARY TO DESTROY THE WORLD IN ORDER TO SAVE IT” 
       The full title of a 1970 Grade-B apocalyptic cult comedy movie directed by Roger Corman
 
       (OK, maybe Grade-Z, but it does have a rare movie appearance by Country Joe and the Fish.)


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