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Quirky Quotes For The Modern - Or Post-Modern - World!

How could we continue stimulating conversation without suitable quotes?

It doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

I don’t know how many quote books there are, but no doubt there’s more than enough to keep us all going for centuries.

Some quotes are timeless, while others are very specific to the context in which it was first said and published.

I was thinking about that recently and it occurred to me that maybe I should do something about bringing some of those quotes, by famous people, into modernity – give them a new lease on life, so to speak.

To that end, I’ve started to dig around for some suitable places to start. In doing so, I'm fortified and humbled by a quote from Samuel Johnson (1709-1794; lexicographer, poet, critic and essayist) who said: "Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language."

Where better to begin than with perhaps the greatest of the great, William Shakespeare?

Not only one of the greatest of writers and poets, he was also an astute observer of human nature, with maybe the greatest number of quotes attributable to him. So, you'll recognize the following, easily. For today's crowds, however, it's a very different scenario....

Shakespeare said: "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."
Today: All the world’s a store and all men and women surely payers.

July 23, 2007

Now, I know that I might upset some people by even thinking about this, never mind actually putting words online here. Well, as a sign of the times, I think it's now time for the signs to change to show more relevance for the masses....

To that end, I'm now adding suitablly rejuvenated quotes below and, for the most part, I'll try to keep them humorous.

For example, I'm sure that you're aware of all the efforts to distribute the wealth of the world more equitably. Trouble is, there seems to be so many barriers to achieving that end. Which brought to my mind a famous saying by Jane Austen....

Austen said: "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other."
Today: One half of the world cannot get a hand on the treasures of the other.

July 23, 2007

And, when we're away from loved ones, the words of Thomas Bayly are quoted almost ad nauseam; a quick search online shows that it's very popular, with more page results than any of the others shown here. In our modern world, however, there's an Achilles heel to being away too much ... because:

Bayly said: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."
Today: Abstinence makes the partner go wander.

July 23, 2007

Now, is class warfare dead yet? Well, that depends on whom you ask, as always. Some time back though, Sir Max Beerbohm - an English satirist and cartoonist - had a few words to say about that. As I was flipping through TV channels recently and getting nowhere, of course, it occurred to me that things have changed, very much, for the worse....

Beerbohm said: "Mankind is divided into two great classes: hosts and guests."
Today: Mankind is divided into two grating classes: boasters and guessers.

July 23, 2007

Come to think of it: Max's clever words are just as relevant today - I wonder if Jay Leno and others know it?

It's often wondrous what can be done with the addition of a single letter to a word. For example, add 's' to 'laughter' and we have 'slaughter' which is nothing to laugh about. Add the same letter to 'word' and we get 'sword', but the penned word is still mightier. It's sort of creepy, in a way, how the meaning can change so radically, with all the attendant connotations. So, when I saw a famous quote from Jacob Bronowski, the modern form just appeared - like magic almost - on the page before me. Considering current events and those of the last century, it seems appropriate....

Bronowski said: "... man alone leaves traces of what he created."
Today: ... man alone leaves traces of what he cremated.

July 23, 2007

And, where would the world be without business -- now more than ever, with the continuing advancement of globalization? It's a wealth generator, of course, and nobody's going to say: STOP! But, who's getting all the wealth, or the largest share of it? Well, things are changing but it's a slow, very slow, process as half the world knows.

The nineteeth century saw great strides in business wars; the twentieth saw great business in the stride to wars, however. Perhaps with some whimsy, Calvin Coolidge - president of United States 1923-1929 - delivered a great line about business, in general. In today's world, however, I think there is a significant addendum....

Coolidge said: "The business of America is business."
Today: America is the business of America.

July 23, 2007

Now, to be fair, that construction could have been used for any country. Being the only superpower left in the world now though, America's business is now everybody's business.

Allied with business is work - that four letter word that many of us don't like. That delightful playwright and satirist, Noel Coward, had something to say about it. Today, however, it seems like the work ethic, in some quarters, has all but been supplanted by something else....

Coward said: "Work is much more fun than fun."
Today: Fun is much more fun than work.

July 23, 2007

However, you can't have fun all the time. Who'll pay your bills if you don't work to earn money? Well, that's just common sense, right? So that brings to mind a very famous quote - a very witty one - from one of the giants of philosophy, Rene Descartes, who had something to say about common sense. These days, however, there's a different slant - and sound - to the very idea of sense:

Descartes said: "Common sense is the best distributed thing in the world, for we all think we possess a good share of it."
Today: Common cents - and dollars - are best distributed throughout the world, for we all think that we should possess a good share of them.

July 23, 2007

Well, if the ghost of Descartes is hanging around, I hope he sees the humour.

Which brings me to the quote first attributed to Benjamin Disraeli - statesman, novelist, British prime minister - and probably used, at least once, by nearly every politician, business man, and academic since he uttered that pithy saying. So, while his quote is always relevant to the times, I've attempted to provide a variation which looks at the issue from a contemporary viewpoint....

Disraeli said: "There are lies, damned lies and statistics."
Today: There are lies, brand lies and heuristics.

July 23, 2007

Makes you wonder where it'll all end, eh?

And, what about all that stress, one of the biggest causes of heart disease, neurosis, obesity and other ailments? Joseph Dryden - poet laureate and dramatist - may have been alluding to that stress when he penned his famous warning about the patient man. In today's world, with all of the problems that beset the healthcare systems in so many countries, I've thought of another facet of that concept ... in fact, a recent Hollywood movie with Denzel Washington used it as its theme.

Dryden said: "Beware the fury of the patient man."
Today: Beware the fury of the man who is a patient.

July 23, 2007


Modern living gets to us in numerous ways: Emotional stress, financial worries, environmental concerns, doomsday scenarios - you name it. Yeeech! No wonder Greta Garbo - that sultry actress from Classic Hollywood days - said it all when she disappeared from the public gaze, telling everybody to shove it. These days, however, a lot of people see things differently....

Garbo said: "I want to be alone."
Today: I want to get a loan.

July 23, 2007

These days, it's just getting more difficult to get that loan, what with interest rates on the rise again. But, keep trying, and trying - to echo those hallowed words from William Edward Hickson, an educationist of the 19th century. And that brought to my mind some variations that you may want to think about and use appropriately....

Hickson said: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
(I note there are many variations online using cry, spy, buy, lie - but for the first time here ... for lovers, of course)
Today: If at first you don't succeed, sigh, sigh again.

July 27, 2007

Presidents, and Prime Ministers, are verbal gold mines, of course, and Herbert Hoover - US President from 1929-1933 is quoted often. During a speech (where else?) he coined a well known phrase about American individualism. In today's world, however, there's been an iconic change that is, sadly, more prevalent:

Hoover said: "The American system of rugged individualism ..."
Today: The American system of drugged individualism ...

July 27, 2007

I was talking about globalization above, something that's very much a topic these days. Some hate it, others just love it. Long ago that idea existed as "empire" for a much smaller world, during Roman times, and was much praised by poets and writers of that time. One of them was Horace, a poet and satirist, who wrote a great line about dying for one's country. However, I tend to agree with General Patton's view on that issue; but, these days, I think a lot of modern types of raiders would have a new and cynical slant....

Horace said: "It is sweet and honourable to die for one's country."
Today: It is sweet and honourable to buy for one's country.

July 27, 2007

Note that you can substitute other words that rhyme with 'buy', as before e.g. 'lie','cry' and 'spy', for different contexts...

Anyway, lots of people tend to get real angry when you're doing things for your country, often for no reason, it seems. And, once again, Horace had something to say about any road rage, and other types of fulminating that occurred around his time, calling it all a type of madness (maybe it is?). Trouble is, some people get a kick out of things like that ... especially in high-stress combat zones.

Horace said: "Anger is a brief madness."
Today: Anger is a brief gladness.

July 27, 2007

Well, you have to control your anger or it controls you, eventually, right? And, a lot of other things, I guess....

But, the routine of life goes on, and we keep going, as we must. Perhaps it was that tedium that prompted Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915; American printer, writer and editor) to leave us with us with his logical and witty take on life's progress? Whatever the case, it's timely to suggest a different perspective. I know my sons and daughter would agree. Unhappily, there are more sinister situations today where the new perspective is getting worse....

Hubbard said: "Life is just one damned thing after another."
Today: Life is just one banned thing after another.

July 29, 2007

Samuel Johnson, already quoted above, made an earlier remark about life, but took a more considered approach, and one that is still true today, in many ways. In today's globalized consumer world, however, I thought I should hone in on that aspect directly...

Johnson said: "Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed."
Today: Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be renewed and few to be employed.

July 29, 2007

And that allows me to segue into a very well known mantra first spoken by Patrick Henry (1736-1799; US lawyer and statesman) and which, in numerous ways, epitomizes the American psyche - and perhaps others also, these days. The growth of rampant capitalism and the consumer society, however, leads me to suggest another that is close to the heart of many capitalists and workers alike.

Henry said: "Give me liberty or give me death."
Today: Give me property or give me debt.

July 31, 2007

Given a choice, I'll take the property, every time. Some who take the other, however, often skate on the edge of ethical problems, in my opinion, not the least of which is the ultimate truth behind their financial shennanigans.

Now, long ago, Sir walter Scott (1771-1832), a giant in romantic litertaure, poetry, short stories, history, drama - you name it - was the author of, arguably, the definitve saying about the dangers of lying. In today's world, however, have you noticed that nobody lies anymore - in the news, on the web, at the highest levels and so on? They simply believe, with nothing to back it up, like certain folks who believed that Iraq had WMD, with catastrophic results....

Scott said: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive."
Today: Oh, what a tangled web we conceive when first we practise to believe.

August 10, 2007

Democracy, although flawed, is better than other forms of government, with one of the linchpins being freedom of expression - a point made well by Voltaire (1694-1778), French philosopher, historian, novelist and critic. Happily, democracy is still alive because everybody wants to be free, although there are different views about freedom. In a consuming world, for example, that means you can eat yourself to death, if you want. So today, that sense of Voltaire's aphorism can be applied in other domains....

Voltaire said: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Today (we might say): I disapprove of what you weigh, but I will defend to the death your right to weigh it.

November 11, 2007

And now for something different, and more in keeping with the theme of my passion about words...

The Christian Bible is a rich source of quotations. Long ago, I came upon one in Ecclesiastes that was used as the thematic thrust in a sci-fi novel. Looking at that quote recently, I now realize it can be suitably modified to apply to language, thus:

Ecclesiastes 1:4 "Men go and come, but earth abides.”
Today: Meanings go and come, but words abide.

February 22, 2012

Curiously Common Words
You know the usual meaning(s) - now rest your mouse on it to find out another, not so common, meaning!

Dreams of adventure become reality when, in 1961, nineteen-year-old Roger Burke gets a job in New Guinea as a Cadet Patrol Officer.

Another Fool's Paradise

So ... come with Roger as he tackles the clash of cultures; the harshness and humor of colonial administration; patrolling in country; earthquakes, tropical diseases and other nasties; investigating murders and suicides; and just missing death by a spear in the gut....

Read a free sample from the ebook and order a full copy here for only $2.99.

February 1st, 2015
Happily, I can now announce the perfect bound, paperback edition of Another Fool's Paradise is now for sale at, and

Another Fool's Paradise at Amazon

Complete with forty plus photos of places visited and patrolled during my time in New Britain, you can order a copy - at $14.99 - by clicking the above image.

AD HOC....


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