Saturday, February 9, 2013

Smarter Than You

     I just got back from taking my lovely wife to dinner for Valentine's Day.
     "How would you like to go to a world famous restaurant?" I asked her.
     "I'd love that," she answered.
     So I took her to McDonald's.
     Let's just say that that didn't go over so well, and, instead of the night of romance I had hoped for, I'm here writing this for my humor blog. How could an idea that seemed so right, turn out to be so wrong? Which, in an odd way, leads me into what I want to talk about.
     Way back in 1945 (May 17th, to be exact) the city of El Paso found out that federal highway funds of between $1 to $2 million were headed its way so that an El Paso section of a postwar superhighway could be built.
     The citizenry of El Paso were outraged. OUTRAGED, I tell you! Well, at least the citizens who owned property and businesses on what were then the city's main thoroughfares: Texas Street and Alameda Avenue. They were concerned that the building of another major thoroughfare would divert traffic, and, as a result, their businesses and pocketbooks would suffer.
     Well, they were right, and they were wrong. The city was going to grow, whether the citizens of El Paso wanted it to or not, and there was no stopping that growth, although many tried. And by "tried," I mean cried and complained.
     "El Paso needs a lot of things more than it does a truck route," protested an M. Kubby, a secondhand dealer on Texas Street, "and I'm against spending $350,000 for something we don't need."
     Business for Kubby was especially bad, since nobody wanted to do business with a grown man named "Kubby," and, besides which, people are already born with a second hand. Had it occurred to Kubby to go into the third hand business, he might have found more of a market for that.
     Attorney Thornton Hardie--no relation to Andy--didn't care for the idea of spending city money "just to get federal money." Apparently, lawyers felt differently about getting money in those days.
     This whole brouhaha sounded familiar when I read about it in Tales From The Morgue, a column by reporter Trish Long that came out in the Sunday (2-3-13) edition of the El Paso Times. It sounded familiar, because it sounded like me when I first found out that the city of El Paso wanted to purchase a AAA baseball team, and then spend at least $50 to $100 million or more to tear down a perfectly good City Hall just to build a stadium for said baseball team, in what I think is a futile attempt to revitalize Downtown. I was, and still am, against it. I have other, better ideas on how to revitalize Downtown El Paso without it costing the city one cent,* but nobody ever listens to me.
     Just ask my wife.
     Will I be proven wrong like those naysayers from 1945? Probably. After all, at the start of every football season I'm 100% certain the Dallas Cowboys have a shot at the Super Bowl.
     That got me to thinking: Who else has been embarrassingly wrong about things that turned out to be incredibly correct? If there's one thing that makes a person feel better, it's that another person is stupider and wronger than they are, and, trust me, after the McDonald's fiasco, I definitely need to feel better about myself. So, my loyal readers, I offer to you the following true quotes:
     Scipio ("Skippy" to his friends.) Chiaramonti, Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Pisa back in 1633, famously said: "Animals, which move, have limbs and muscles; the earth has no limbs or muscles, hence it does not move." Actually, he makes sense in an odd kind of logical-sounding way, doesn't he? I bet his wife didn't make him sleep on the couch on Valentine's Day.
     J. Richardson Parke, who had an Sc.B., Ph.G., M.D., and an M.O.U.S.E., said back in 1906: "Russian women are never more pleased than when receiving a drubbing [beating] at the hands of their husbands." By "Russian women," I think he was talking about Rihanna.
     Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, was quoted by the magazine Good Housekeeping back in 1991: "I am never going to get divorced, and that's that." Apparently, that wasn't that. I guess you could say that, in a way, she was correct. She didn't get a divorce. Prince Charles did.
     Dr. Alfred Velpeau, a French surgeon and Professor at the Paris Faculty of Medicine and Whorehousery said back in 1839: "The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it." He adamantly felt that way. Adamantly, that is, until he needed to go through surgery himself. I can't say I know what a "chimera" is, but, if it's French, then it probably stinks, smokes, and doesn't shave its armpits.
     "[A] small action... [will] set everything to rights." Major John Pitcairn (British Army Officer) advised General Thomas Gage (commander of the British garrison at Boston) back in 1775, concerning American revolutionary fervor and how it would disappear once the British put their foot down. And we all know how that turned out.
     "The cinema is little more than a fad." Charlie Chaplin predicted back in 1916. The Little Tramp may have been a great silent filmmaker, but he had the common sense of a turnip.
     "We do not want now, and we shall never want, the human voice with our films." D.W.Griffith, another famous silent film director and turnip-brain, insisted in The Saturday Evening Post back in 1924. I've always found that the harder a person argues against something, the more likely that thing will come to pass. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. Every time I've gotten a divorce, I've argued I'd never get married again. I'm on my fifth marriage.
     "We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out," said a Decca Recording Company executive as he turned down The Beatles in 1962. Now he's turning down beds as Head of Housekeeping at a Motel 6 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
     After one performance at the "Grand Ole Opry," Elvis Presley was fired by its manager, Jim Denny, who told the future King of Rock and Roll,  "You ain't goin' nowhere... son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck." In an interesting twist of fate, it was Mr. Denny who went back to driving a truck.
     "Everything that can be invented has been invented," insisted Charles H. Duell to President William McKinley back in 1899, as he tried to talk the President into abolishing his office as Commissioner of US Office of Patents. How stupid does a man have to be to argue himself out of a job? Apparently, simply resigning hadn't been invented yet.
     "Worthless," was Sir George Bidel Airy's declaration on September 15, 1842 concerning the "analytical engine" [computer] invented by Charles Babbage. Sir George also saw no value in bathing or brushing his teeth, since he was sure that would wash off his body's natural protection against evil spirits.
     "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty... a fad," whinnied the President of the Michigan Savings Bank back in 1903. I can somewhat understand his point. The beauty of using horses as a means of transportation is that you can eat them at the end of their career.
     Other quotes that seem to have come from a mentally relaxed brain are:
     "...the Japanese Auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market for itself." Business Week magazine in August 2, 1968.
     "Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." Dr. Dionysus Lardner (1793-1859).
     "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." Lord Kelvin, c. 1895.
     "[Airplanes] are interesting toys, but of no military value." Marechal Ferdinand Foch, 1911.
     "[Man will never reach the moon] regardless of all future scientific advances." Dr. Lee DeForest, quoted in The New york Times, February 25, 1957.
     "Nothing of importance happened today." King George III of England, diary entry, July 4, 1776.
    "Bill Clinton will lose to any Republican who doesn't drool." The Wall Street Journal, editorial, 1995. Wasn't that what the Republicans were saying about the re-election of President Obama this past November?
     And, finally:
     "That boy will come to nothing." Jakob Freud said about his son, Sigmund, back in 1864.
     That one's my personal favorite, because that's what my dad used to say about me. My dad may have been a tough old coot, but I will say this about him...
     He didn't mind eating at McDonald's.

*See I Have A Plan (Part One) posted on 6-27-12 and The Church of Oz (Part Two) posted on 7-2-12.

American Chimpanzee

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