Popcorn by The Colonel # 87
❁ We recently learned the term “clickbait.” It means language aimed at drawing people to click on a link. For us, the locus classicus is “How Cruise Ships Fill Their Unsold Cabins.” It’s a very intense form of advertising, not for amateurs, although amateurs like us will try their hand (witness today’s headline). Feel free to report or make up examples: “All Residential Streets to be Narrowed to One Lane.”
❁ Benjamin Franklin had a son, William, who was a Tory. He was arrested and detained in Middletown. Because of his inflammatory letter-writing, he was moved to Litchfield, where he could be guarded. Not clear why he couldn't be guarded in Middletown.
❁ Short fiction: Moses looked from the mountaintop out over the Promised Land. His last prayer granted, he lay down and closed his eyes. (21 words; reader submissions invited -- 25-word limit.)
❁ A Florida friend writes: “I’m old. I don’t care about much anymore. For example, I don’t care how much mercury there is in the cat food I eat."
❁ A bald guy we know got his Lenten ashes imposed as a big cross on top of his head, as if the Rapture is to be an aerial bombardment, and he wanted to be a good target.
❁ For meditators, a long mantra: “A point in time is the durationless boundary between two periods. A period is the time between two points. A point is not a period; a period is not a point.”
❁ More lore: “Judge not unless you can judge rightly. If you judge fish by their ability to climb trees, you will account fish stupid, whereas it is you who are stupid.”
❁ More noise in the news about calls to abolish the penny. Okay, but only in the context of “comprehensive coinage reform”: dime = ten cents; penny = half dollar; nickel = one dollar; quarter = five dollars. Paper money starts at ten dollars.
❁ H.L. Mencken had a trick for disarming critics. He answered all hostile letters with “You may be right.”
❁ An old friend has a similarly disarming way in arguments: “You’re right. I don’t agree with you, but you’re right.”
❁ That maneuver suggests another: “You’re wrong. I agree with you, but we’re wrong.”
❁ Dale Carnegie famously said, “Never criticize, condemn, or complain.”
❁ A Zen saying states: “No one escapes criticism.” One speculates that the meaning is, if you’re going to catch it either way, you may as well do the right thing.
❁ A literary critic advised: “Never say it’s not good. Just say you don’t like it. That way you’re quite safe.” Boy, was he wrong.
❁ Henry Ford reportedly said, “History is bunk.” It’s not clear to us whether he meant all histories are inaccurate or the study of history has no value.
❁ The saying “History is written by the victors” is associated with Churchill, but may go much farther back, and have many forms. Thought question: Is this a variant or a separate saying: “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan”?
❁ “Those who did not live before the Revolution do not know the sweetness of life.” --Talleyrand
❁ “History is the commonly agreed lie” and variations are attributed to Voltaire, Napoleon, and others.
❁ And once you reach Voltaire, this business of quotation must stop, because he’s an endless source of great stuff: “Give me ten minutes to talk away my ugly face, and I’ll bed the Queen of France”; “If you see a Swiss banker jumping out a window, follow him. There’s sure to be a profit in it.”
❁ Is there a Guinness world record for number of impossible things believed before breakfast?