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
Stolen from The DeVoe Report, February 4, 2000:
"Believing that fundamental conditions
of the country are sound...my 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,
"$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
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
However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after
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
"It's not whether you are straight. It's whether you shoot
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 http://www.riddles.com/
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
This story apparently comes from the files of this year's Darwin Awards.
There's a Darwin Site ( http://www.darwinawards.com/
), 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
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 Amazon.com, 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
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."
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
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."
Old Irish Saying
||"Is minic bhris beal an duine a shron."
"'Tis often a man's mouth that broke his nose."
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Mergers: "Ultimate Oneness":
News on recent and unexpected mergers from The New York Times.
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
"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 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
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
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: (http://www.theonion.com/)
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 (http://www.brillscontent.com/),
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. . .
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