Past Petite Wisdoms

September 2012     Petite Wisdoms: Tim Vine (1967 - present)

He’s a legend in his own lunchbox -king of the one liners. This first one won an award at the Edinburgh Fringe:

Do you know crime in multi-storey car parks is wrong on so many different levels.
You see my next door neighbour worships exhaust pipes, he's a catholic converter.

"So I was in my car, and I was driving along, and my boss rang up, and he said 'You've been promoted.' And I swerved. And then he rang up a second time and said "You've been promoted again.' And I swerved again. He rang up a third time and said 'You're managing director.' And I went into a tree. And a policeman came up and said 'What happened to you?' And I said 'I careered off the road.'

I went to the doctor. I said to him "I'm frightened of lapels." He said, "You've got cholera."

I was reading this book today, The History Of Glue and I couldn't put it down.

I phoned the local ramblers club today and this bloke just went on and on.

So I told my girlfriend I had a job in a bowling alley. She said "Tenpin?" I said, "No, permanent."

So I met this bloke with a didgeridoo and he was playing Dancing Queen on it. I thought, that's aboriginal.

I visited the offices of the RSPCA today. It's tiny, you couldn't swing a cat in there.

"I went to the butchers the other day and the butcher said 'I bet you £5 you can't guess the weight of that meat on the top shelf'. ' I'm not gambling!' I said, 'The steaks are too high

"I had a cat called Minton who swallowed a shuttlecock. I said 'Bad Minton!'"

"I was in a Chinese restaurant when a duck came up to me with a rose and
said: 'Your eyes sparkle like the stars'. So I said to the waiter: 'Excuse me, I ordered aromatic duck

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Jan 2013   Petite Wisdoms: George Bernard Shaw  (1856 - 1950)
1856-1950 born Dublin moved to London at 16. Socialist, Eugenicist, Wrote 60 still quoted plays and a vast amount of other novels and newspaper articles with a comical twist. The only person to ever win a Nobel prize and an Oscar.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

We are made wise not by the recollection of the past but by the responsibility for our future.

Youth is wasted on the young.

It’s a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling when your heart is broken, your boats burned and nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness; and the beginning of peace.

He knows nothing yet thinks he knows everything. This is the start of a great political career.

We learn from experience that politicians never learn from experience.

Choose silence over all other virtues. For by it you hear other men’s imperfections and remain concealing your own.

Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books any more except the books that nobody reads.

The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of inhumanity.

England and America are two countries separated by one language.

You see things and you say why. But I dream things that never were -and I say why not.

Science never solves a problem without creating ten more.

If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.
April 2013    Petite Wisdoms:   Cicero (106 - 43 BC)
Marcus Cicero, sometimes known as Tulley, was a Roman philosopher, lawyer, theorist and consul. He lived 106BC - 43BC. His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in, not only Latin, but European languages, up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction against or a return to his style. He introduced the Romans to Greek philosophy and thus influenced European thinking to this day. Sadly Mark Anthony had him murdered. He was an observer and his comments have a wisdom that pervades time: 

"The budget should be balanced: the Treasury should be refilled.    Public debt should be reduced.   The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt. 
People must again learn to work - instead of living on public assistance."  55BC

So what have we learnt in the last 2068 years ?
July 2013    Petite Wisdoms:   Scott Adams (1957-present)
Born in New York he studied cartoons from age six and won competitions from age eleven but was rejected from arts school at twenty-one. He pursued careers in Law, Economics, Engineering. When working for a bank he was held up twice in four months. He continued in a wide variety of trades and whilst highly encouraged by local fans of his “Dilbert” no publication wanted his cartoons. Then from early 1990‘s his success with burgeoned and he went professional; eventually being covered in 800 newspapers. Best known for the cynical technician he created he is also renowned for many quotes:

Decisions are made by people who have time; not people who have talent.

‘Wrong’ is one of those concepts dependent on witnesses.

There is no idea so bad that it cannot be made to look brilliant with the proper application of fonts and color.

Life is half delicious yoghourt, half crap, and your job is to keep the plastic spoon in the yoghourt.

Reality is always controlled by those who are the most insane.

Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish and you’re a consultant.
August 2013    Petite Wisdoms:   Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Known the world over for his discoveries in theoretical physics many times since others have tried to disprove the consequences of Einstein’s incredible proposals yet have failed. For all this he grew up in a non-observant Jewish family and his father’s business failed. They moved around Europe and eventually Einstein married for a second time and emigrated to USA. Not being able to find work he moved back to a Swiss patent office. There, one can understand, was where his imagination must have been fired by all the ideas passing through his hands.   Not only did he have great insight into matters of physics but also matters human:

Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity  -and I’m not sure about the former.

I want to know God’s thoughts -the rest are details.

The hardest thing in the world to understand is:   income tax.

The only real and valuable thing is intuition.

Anyone who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity !

Given all the seeming randomness of the world I am convinced that God does not play dice.
November 2013    Petite Wisdoms:   Erasmus (1466 - 1536)
Born in Rotterdam possibly as Gerard Gerards. He was baptised Erasmus and adopted the name Desiderius. He was a prolific Catholic humanist writer yet was influential in the Protestant Reformation. His wisdom is quoted throughout the world every day:

He who allows oppression shares the crime.

Great abundance of riches cannot be gathered and kept without sin.

In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

As a nail is driven out with another nail so a habit is driven out with another habit.

There are some people who live in a dream-world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are some who turn one into the other.

Prevention is better than cure.

Fortune favours the audacious.
April 2014    Petite Wisdoms:   Mae West (1893 - 1980)
Born in Brooklyn New York, Mae first performed on stage at 14 and from then on they were unable to keep her off. Despite despicable reports by critics and great efforts at censorship, even imprisonment, ticket sales remained good. She courted controversy and famously making a fortune out of it. Yet her’s was a quite intelligent and risqué exploitation of Vaudeville. It was natural for her to turn to writing, producing and directing. She had a string of relationships until she died. Salvador Dali paid her the great accolade of designing his Surrealist sofa to be like “Mae West’s Lips”. 

When I’m good I’m very good; when I’m bad I’m better.

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.

I never worry about diets -the only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
June 2015   Petite Wisdoms:   Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)
Started his career and became Professor Of Biochemistry, Boston University, Massachusetts. Some cite that he was the greatest science fiction writer of all time. He certainly was the most prolific and wrote over 500 books. Contrary to popular belief the breath of his subjects spanned 9 of the 10 Dewey Decimal Subject classifications. He was Vice-President of Mensa for many years but found it pompous. He won many many awards and many physical astronomical features have been named after him.

Science fiction writers forsee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not. 

It is well known that the friend of a conquerer is but the last victim.

Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka !’ but ‘That’s funny....’

To succeed planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.

The saddest fact of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
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February 2016   William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
Playwright and poet Shakespeare needs no introduction yet it’s easy to forget just how early in modern British history he existed. So much of the fabric of society that we take for granted today, like sanitation, health, law, democratic government, rights were perhaps hundreds of years away yet (my feeble attempt to be poetic) his wisdom is lauded as as relevant today as it was then. Strange his foresight. I mention the following tiny fraction of his quotes not for their humour but for their wisdom. There are, of course, many hundreds of clever idioms scattered throughout English usage.
   I would challenge you to a battle of wits but I see you are unarmed.
   If music be the food of love -play on.
   Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.
   A fool thinks himself to be wise but a wise man knows himself to be a fool
   How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a bad world.
   What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
   What is past is prologue.
   Such as we are made of, sSwimuch we be.
   Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.
   How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!
   Nothing can come of nothing.
   Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.
   O! for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of Invention.
   And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.
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July 2016   Petite Wisdoms:   Artists
It is rumored that when all spending was being directed into the war effort Churchill was asked about cutting money from the arts fund. He responded curtly by saying “Then what are we fighting for ?” Sadly there’s no evidence that he actually said this but it does sum up how humankind needs to value the contributions to our collective thinking by artists. Here are some more quotes by such:

   All children are artists. The problem is how to remain one once one grows up ? - Pablo Picasso.
   Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep - Scott Adams.
   An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way - Charles Bukowski.
   Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence - Henri Matisse.
   The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily live off our souls - Pablo Picasso.
   Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable - George Bernard Shaw.
   Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to communicate and the desire to hide - D. Woods Winnicott.
   The earth without art is just eh ! - unknown.
   Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable - Cesar Cruz
   When I work and in my  art, I hold hands with God - Robert Mapplethorpe.
   Artists are going to be the metronome of this society - Yoko Ono.
   Artists are always young - Margaret Fuller.
   Don’t think about art - get it done. Let everyone else love it or hate. While they are deciding make even more art - Andy Warhol.
   The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things but their inward significance - Aristotle.
   The essence of all beautiful art, all great art is   ..gratitude - Friedrich Nietzsche.
   If you’re not failing every now and again - it’s a sign that you’re not doing anything very innovative - Woody Allen.
   You’re only given a little spark of madness - you mustn’t lose it - Robin Williams.
December 2016   Petite Wisdoms:   Unknown But Great
Great wisdom is not always attributed. Here are some quotes by such:

God gave us mouths that close and ears that don't-- that should tell us something.
The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
A fool will learn nothing from a wise man, but a wise man will learn much from a fool.
Take the first chance that you get because you may never get another one.
Never idealize others.They will never live up to your expectations.
It's nice when people remember the things you thought they'd forget.
A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.
The secret of happiness is not doing the things that you like but liking the things that you do.
Pay no attention to those who talk behind your back - it simply means you are two steps ahead.
Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak - sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go.
No need for revenge - Just sit back and wait...those that hurt you will eventually screw up all by themselves ...and if you are lucky, God will let you watch.
Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.
I've come to the conclusion that the best and most important things in life are the things that we can not see. That is the reason we close our eyes when we 
kiss a person we love, cry over someone we care about, and dream about what we believe.
March 2017: Petite Wisdoms:   Confucius
Confucius  551 - 479 BC  Real name Kong Qiu but sometimes known as Zhongni or Kongzi -Master Kong. Later Kong Fuzi - Grand Master Kong. He was a Chinese Teacher, Politician and Philosopher:

To know that you know, and to know what you don’t know, is the beginning of wisdom.  (Donald Rumsfeld famously nearly got this right !)
Choose a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man what will sell.
Study the past to divine the future.
Everything has beauty - but not everyone sees it.
Instead of being concerned that you are not known seek to be worthy of being known.
Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.
A gem cannot be polished without friction - nor man without trials.
Before you embark on a journey of revenge dig two graves.
If a man makes no thought about what is distant he will find sorrow nearby.
When prosperity comes do not use all of it.
August 2017: Petite Wisdoms:   Brian Tracy
Present day Canadian motivational speaker and self-help author. These good habits are worthwhile practicing:

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.
All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.
People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.
Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.
January 2018: Petite Wisdoms:   Fyodor Dostoyevsky
One of the greatest Russian writers and philosophers. Albert Einstein put him above the mathematician Carl Gauss for his exploration of deep subjects. Both honoured and imprisoned his books have been translated into 170 languages and performed on stage and in films (1821 - 1881). I found 153 pages of quotes !

Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.
It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.
Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.
The soul is healed by being with children.
We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once.
Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.
Right or wrong, it's very pleasant to break something from time to time.
The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart.
It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them — the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas.
Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.
September 2018: Petite Wisdoms:   Steve Jobs
Co-founder and CEO of Apple Corp died 7 years ago on 5th October 2011. Personally I think the whole world is a poorer place without him but not everyone would agree. He was the hardest worker and player; practical in his attitude and motivational in his outlook even as he faced pancreatic cancer. Let’s take a look:

We’re here to put a dent in the universe - otherwise why else be here.
Think different !
Don’t ever be afraid of failure.
The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.
Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.
You time is limited - don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose your faith.
If you want to make everyone happy don’t be a Leader - sell icecream !
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
For the past 33 years I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself ‘If today were the last day of my life would I want to do what I am about to do today ?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row I know that I need to fundamentally change something.

I like Steve.
February 2019: Petite Wisdoms:   Samuel Taylor Coleridge
English poet and philosopher Coleridge (1772-1834) joined in writing with the great William Wordsworth. It is said that they started the English Romantic Movement. Famously he wrote the Rime of The Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan and many others. He delved deeply into the background of Shakespeare. However from childhood he suffered serious illnesses and mental ill health through which Josiah Wedgewood helped him but who dissuaded him from becoming a minister. Many English idioms can be attributed to him. Let’s take a look:

Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.
Love is flower like; Friendship is like a sheltering tree. The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.
If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake - Aye, what then?
Swans sing before they die - 'twere no bad thing should certain persons die before they sing !
Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess, that itself will need reforming.
Plagiarists are always suspicious of being stolen from.
That willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.
Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests.
Love is flower like; Friendship is like a sheltering tree.
June 2019: Petite Wisdoms:   Arthur C Clarke
English Science and SciFi Writer (1917-2008) born in Minehead and grew up in nearby Bishop’s Lydeard. He was awarded First Class Hons Mathematics at Kings College London in 1946 when he was also President of the British Interplanetary Society. Probably the most popular writer and inventor Arthur’s all round creative mind led him to become respected by both the science and popular SciFi book communities. His passion for Scuba diving led him to live in Sri Lanka from 1956. There he became so respected by the government that he was given the use of a military helicopter when fellow writer Robert Heinlein visited in 1970’s. He became first Chancellor of International Space University in 1986. He has a huge number of accolades and was awarded CBE in 1989 and Knighted in 1998.

As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals.
I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here.
Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity ?
I've been saying for a long time that I'm hoping to find intelligent life in Washington !
For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.
Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other and we need them all. But information is the first essential step.
No intelligent person can contemplate the night sky without a sense of awe.
There were some things that only time could cure. Evil men could be destroyed, but nothing could be done with good men who were deluded.
May 2020: Petite Wisdoms:   Roald Dahl
Prolific writer. Despite his Norwegian name he was born in 1916 in Llandaff, Wales and served in RAF in WW2 rising to the rank of Acting Wing Commander unusual for a man of 6’6”. In his younger years Cadburys had sent boxes of chocolates to his school for reaction and so he fantasied about new confectioneries. Initially he had a luxury job for Shell Oil but at outbreak of war he signed up to the RAF and became a ‘flying ace’ at Hibbaniya and eventually Haifa (both where my Dad was based too). After serious injury he was posted to Washington USA as a diplomat becoming friends to Ian Fleming and CS Forester for whom he wrote of his war experiences and Forrester published them ! His work led him to MI6 liaising between Churchill and FD Roosevelt. After the war his writing and poetry became prolific. In 1960s he wrote screenplays too eg You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In recent days he is most remembered for his sentimental children’s stories including James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Twits, George's Marvellous Medicine, Danny The Champion Of The World, etc and for adults Tales of the Unexpected, etc. Dahl was loved for his inventive and unusual use of English receiving the 1983 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. Due to the tragic loss of two of his five children he set up the Roald Dahl Medical Foundation. At the centenary of his birth The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary was compiled to list his spoonerisms and malapropisms. His stories are so well liked that in 1996 the Roald Dahl Gallery was opened in Aylesbury which was then moved in 2005 to Great Messenden to create a whole museum for his works.

A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.
So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.
We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.
If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.
You don’t need to change to be loved. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.