Global Wit & Worldly Widsom

GLOBAL PROVINCE - Home - About This Site - Agile Companies - Annual Reports - Best of Class - Best of theTriangle - Big Ideas - Brain Stem - Business Diary - Dunk's Dictums - Global Wit & Worldly Wisdom - Gods, Heroes, & Legends - Infinite Bookstore - Investor Digest - Letters from the Global Province - Other Global Sites - Poetry & BusinessScenes from the Global ProvinceA Stitch in Time - Two Rivers

Contact us

Entries 1-50 - Entries 51-100 - Entries 101-150 - Current Entries


50. When the Tough Get Going
"Adversity doesn't make or break you, it reveals you..." --Cardinal Bernadine

Of course, Shakespeare said, "Sweet are the uses of adversity," but we're not sure he had this in mind.  The pressure of adversity "reveals" you, especially to yourself.

49. Assorted Stock Market Wit
Stolen from The DeVoe Report, February 4, 2000:

"Believing that fundamental conditions of the country are son and I have for some days been purchasing sound common stocks."  -- John D. Rockefeller, October 29, 1929.

"In economics, the majority is always wrong."  -- John Kenneth Galbraith, 1968.

"Like the cosmetics industry, the securities business is engaged in selling illusion."  -- Paul A. Samuelson, 1977.

"$1,000 left to earn interest at 8% a year will grow to $43 quadrillion in 400 years, but the first hundred years are the hardest."  -- Sidney Homer.

48.  Management Survival Is Something to Crow About
A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?" The crow answered: "Sure, why not." So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

The moral of the story?

To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

47.  Mourning Call
Dear Lord,

So far today, I am doing all right. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self indulgent. I have not whined,  bitched, cursed, or eaten any chocolate.  I have not charged on my credit card. And I thank you.

However, I am going to get out of bed in a few  minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that.


46.   Goodyear or Goodrich?

45.   Unsubstantiated Trivia

44.   Oysters Come in Second
Sign in a North Carolina church near the shore:

          "Jesus First, Oysters Second"

43.  Barry Goldwater on Gays in the Military
"It's not whether you are straight.  It's whether you shoot straight."

42.  Bovine Mots
Q:  What do you call a sleeping cow?

A:  A bulldozer

For a host of riddles and jokes fit for your kids, see

41.  Obituary Writer Thomas Goes Too Far
In fact, he just passed over the Great Divide.  Robert McGill Thomas, Jr., a great obit writer for The New York Times, died on January 6.  Earlier in life, he said "of course I go too far. . . .  But unless you go too far, how are you ever going to find out how far you can go?"  See The New York Times, Saturday, January 8, 2000, p. A15.  His wisdom echoes poet William Blake, who once reminded us that "You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough."  We trust that Thomas still has not found out how far he can go.

40.  You Can Insure Anything - If they don't get you coming, they'll get you going.

39.  Don't Ask God to Prove Himself; He Just Might
This story apparently comes from the files of this year's Darwin Awards.   There's a Darwin Site ( ), although this story does not seem to be included.

38.  Hijinks at Caltech
Dennis Meredith, now director of the Duke University Office of Research Communications, picked up these morsels (pranks of the Caltech students) when he headed the Caltech News Bureau in the 1980s. Click here to read more.

37.  Eating Crow
As head of the USIA, Henry Catto went hat in hand to get an additional appropriation from a suspicious Iowan congressman.  Sitting down, he pulled a knife and fork out of his pocket and laid them down between him and Representative Neil Smith.   "Sir," he said, "I am here to eat crow." (See pp. 310-11, Henry E. Catto, Jr., Ambassadors at Sea, University of Texas Press, 1998.  As ambassador to El Salvador, the OAS and Great Britain--in addition to several other roles--Henry Catto had to eat crow more than once.   But, as this among other books demonstrates, he did it with grace and wit.   Moreover, we learn that he was an able and loyal public servant, particularly in the Reagan and Bush administrations.  We glean from these memoirs that he was close enough to several leaders to illuminate their virtues and considerable foibles.

36.   Working Stiff
Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, chairman of AIG, stealing from Warren Buffett, says, "'I've no plans to retire until 10 years after my death."  (See Barron's, November 29, 1999, p. 33)

35.  Closing Time, Gentlemen! - Note on the end of the millenium.

34.   Just a Footnote
Jeff Bezos, running scared as head of internet goliath, says, "We still have the opportunity to be a footnote in the e-commerce industry."  (See "Bezos on Buffett," Fortune, Nov. 22, 1999, p. 220, or click here)

33.  Re-engineering at 60 mph.  Why do heart surgeons make more money than auto mechanics?

32.   King Cotton
Front Cover of 1997 Prospectus for The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe:

                    "The boll is now in your court."

31.  Hopeless
During the dark days of World War II, two Irishmen were consoling themselves with a pint or two in a Dublin pub.  Over the radio came the crackling strain of Winston Churchill, saying, "The situation is serious, but not hopeless." 
     Said one Irishman, "That's the difference between us and the English.  In Ireland, the situation is always hopeless, but never serious."

30.  Prayer for Peace
Picture, if you will, a cherubic little girl saying her prayers as follows: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from e-mail."   From the Cowles Syndicate. 

29. Job Descriptions
A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?" The man below says: "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field." "You must work in Information Technology" says the balloonist. "I do" replies the man. "How did you know." "Well" says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone." The man below says "you must work in upper management." "I do" replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well", says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."

28. Old Irish Saying

"Is minic bhris beal an duine a shron."

"'Tis often a man's mouth that broke his nose."

27.  Dis and Dees
If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked and dry cleaners depressed?

26.  Hoofprints
An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton
, by Richard A. Posner. (Harvard University Press, 1999) stings several hardened law school professors whose 1998 letter urged Congress not to impeach President Clinton.   "An unkind critic might describe the signing by intellectuals of petitions, open letters, and full-page ads as a form of herd behavior (the 'herd of independent minds') by the animal that likes to see its name in print."  My one-time classmate Posner does a wonderful job of dispatching just about everybody who touched Monicagate.  If nitpicking, we might ask him whoever thought law school professors were intellectuals.  In fact, we hope his next book will tell us how the law community is diminishing and becoming our national polity.

25.  Sources of Creativity
By far the best part of Akiko Busch's Geography of Home: Writings About Where We Live (Princeton Architectural Press, 1999) is the chapter on the "home office," the topic she may know best.  The snippet here (pp. 85-86) deals in part with the dilemma of the home writer--how do you get charged up enough to get going? Busch's answer:

"Ackerman points out that Katherine Mansfield gardened and Dame Edith Sitwell used to lie in an open coffin before they sat down to write.  And Friedrich Schiller kept rotten apples in a bureau; often, when searching for a word, the poet would open the drawer, finding that the pungent bouquet released a new reserve of creative energy.  It is said that George Sand went to her desk directly from lovemaking, while Colette found that picking the fleas off her cat was the appropriate prelude to work.  More orderly and contained, Stendhal read sections of French civic code each morning 'to acquire the correct tone.'"

The other parts of the book may have too much the smell of rote learning.

24. Will the Real Dummy Please Stand Up?
AT&T fired President John Walter after nine months, saying he lacked intellectual leadership.  He received a $26 million severance package.

Perhaps it's not Walter who's lacking intelligence.

23.  Some Days It Just Doesn't Pay
Fire investigators on Maui have determined the cause of a blaze that destroyed a $127,000 home last month - a short in the homeowner's newly installed fire prevention alarm system. "This is even worse than last year," said the distraught homeowner, "when someone broke in and stole my new security system..."

22.  1000 Words on Mars
"One famous astronomer of the day is said to have received a message from William Randolph Hearst: 'Is there life on Mars?  Please cable one thousand words.'  The astronomer's reply to the publisher was 'Nobody Knows'--repeated five hundred times."  From The Mapmakers, by John Noble Wilford, Vintage, 1982.

21.  Life and Times: Skin Deep
Across the street from The New York Times there was an infamous bar where a thicket of journalists would congregate after grinding out words all day long.  One very wise wag was fond of saying, "They were packed in there six shallow."

20.  Mergers: "Ultimate Oneness":
News on recent and unexpected mergers from The New York Times.  

19. Bastiaan Meeuse, 83,  Expert on the Foul-Smelling Lily
See The New York Times, August 9, 1999, Obituaries.  Clearly this is the epitaph of the year.  Even witty, and the boys at The Times are never side splitters.  Slowly the obituaries have become the best-written section of the paper, part of a larger trend where media all over are getting most thoughtful about the dead, as the populations of all the developed countries get very aged--the Achilles heel of industrial nations.  The voodoo lily, it turns out, is related as well to the corpse flower, so you can get your fill of death from this muse of eerie buds.    "Even my cat, Blackie," he once said, "won't come near me when the smell of the lily is on my clothes."

18.  Japan's Population Crisis
Kaoru Yosano, Japanese Minister of International Trade and Industry, commenting on Japan's population crisis:

"There is no easy answer," Yosano said bleakly. "My mother was one of 8 children. My father was one of 11. My wife and I were each one of 5 children, and we ourselves have 2 children. When we look further ahead at the next generation, well, I don't hear much from my sons about having babies." 
       "Former Primer Minister Takeshita once told me that in the year 2500, Japan's population will be down to one person," Yosano said with a glum smile. "When that happens, I suppose Japan's global influence inevitably will have declined."  From The New York Times, August 2, 1999, p. A4.

17. Black on Black Comedy
"I sincerely believe that if you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem."

"The Comic wants to be known as a real funny guy.  But the language of comedy is fairly grim and violent. . . .  After all, what does a comic worry most about?   Dying!  He doesn't want to die."  --George Carlin, from Brain Droppings. New York: Hyperion, 1997.  

16. "Experts" on the Golden Age of Wireless

15. Travel Agency Terminology - Or, telling it like it isn't.    (Possibly overheard at "Fawlty Towers") 

14. Hoover Heaven
In his book, president Hoover made a powerful argument for fishing: "Presidents have only two moments of personal seclusion.  One is prayer; the other is fishing--and they cannot pray all the time!"  As cited in Howell Raines's Fly Fishing Through Midlife Crisis, Morrow, 1993, p. 303.

14. What Investment Banking is All About

13. Creative College Application

12. Cheaper Than Psychiatry

11. Wisdom in the Bottle

10. Intelligent Life?

9.  Slow Down . . .

8.  Top 5 Sayings We'd Like to See on Office Posters

7 The Top 50 Oxymorons - we've all heard about "jumbo shrimp" and "military intelligence."  Here are 50 new oxymorons that top our list.

6.  The Onion:  (
Published in Madison, Wisconsin, The Onion does a terrific job at satirizing all the pomposity of our day, particularly the long winded, short witted attitudes and theories of our journalists.  Full of well-done fake stories that will convince you that man should not live by platitudes alone.  For more, read reviews in Brill's Content, June 1999, p. 43 (, and The New Yorker, May 10, 1999, p. 96. 

5.  Driving in Boston - Rules of the Road for the Average Bostonian.

4.  "The Computer Will Never Amount to Anything" - Computer "Experts" reading the tea leaves.

3.  Corporate Supermen: Where Do You Fit In? -  Able to leap tall
buildings, or. . . ?  

2.  The Oldest Profession - Which profession is the oldest: doctor, civil engineer, or computer scientist?

1.  On Being Railroaded - Why are U. S. Railroads exactly 4 feet, 8.5 inches apart?  (Hint: Bureaucracy is eternal. . . .)  

Back to Top of Page

Recent Entries - Entries 51-100


Home - About This Site - Contact Us

© Copyright 2004

Hit Counter