Saturday, July 18, 2009


When I was living in Istanbul, every three months I flew over to London to do some clothes shopping and some research in the Public Record Offices. Heading back to the airport for the return flight I always stopped at a Stainsbury grocery store to stock up on things I couldn’t get in Turkey. During those visits I learned how to use the “Tube” to get around in the city and really became quite adept at it. However, there’s not a whole lot that a tourist can do while riding through mile after mile of tunnels. It was ok for me, because I only had 3 days of it, but I knew it would sure be a boring thing for people to do day after day on their way to or from their jobs.

So it was with interest that I heard recently that drivers and staffers on the Piccadilly line have been given a book full of sayings by famous people that they encouraged to share whenever and however they choose in the course of their day’s work. Where we might say, “Take care, and have a good day,” someone alighting from a subway car in London might hear over the intercom, “John Ruskin said, ‘When a man is wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package.’” The powers-that-be who thought this up figured giving people something to think about might be a nice change for them than hearing again and again, “Remember to take your package with you when you exit the car.”

And in reading that I thought of the several times I’ve been on an airplane when the lead attendant had everyone in stitches over the way he or she phrased the mostly boring things that had to be told to us about safety issues, or when getting ready to take off or land. I love hearing clever things and usually get a good laugh out of them. But I also like pithy sayings. I think hearing something that makes you think a bit is not all that bad either.

So I decided that today I’d throw out a few of my favorite “quotes” – some of which I know the author of and others I don’t. But see if any of these might make your own list.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM in 1943.

“Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.” Voltaire

“It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Clinton

“I don’t feel good.” Luther Burbank’s last words.

“I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.” Rodin when asked how he managed to make his remarkable statues.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Mark Twain

“99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.” Unknown

“Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” Proverb

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…” General John Sedgwick (1813-1864) last words.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olson, Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977.

“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” Bertrand Russell

“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” C. G. Jung

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” Abraham Lincoln

“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” Oscar Wilde.

“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.” Mae West

“Faith: not wanting to know what is true” Nietzsche

“You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Al Capone

“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his. General George Patton

“I would have made a good Pope.” Richard Nixon

“A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. Frank Lloyd Wright.

“God is Dead” – Nietzsche. “Nietzsche is Dead” – God.

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.” Bill Gates in 1981.

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