Monday, August 1, 2011

Argumentative Politicians and Classy Insults

Thought for the day:  The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.  Tom Clancy

Not only am I the kind of person who sees the glass as half full, but when I notice yours in that condition, I generally try to fill it up for you.

Optimistic. Idealistic. Yup, I'll plead guilty to both. When I heard JFK speak, my idealistic cup runneth over. Then, I was young and idealistic. Now, I'm old(er) but still idealistic.

At least, I'm trying, dadgum it.

But today's politicians make it awfully hard.

With all the partisan bickering, posturing and grandstanding that goes on these days, politicians make it awfully hard to keep those rose-colored glasses in place. I mean, I WANT to believe they're all truly interested in what's best for our country. But when I expect them to put aside their differences and cooperate so they can get the job done, what I get is this:

I'm not gonna get all politic-y on you, but I did want to pass along something I read about in Thomas Friedman's newspaper column. It seems that many Americans are seeing the glass as half empty these days when it comes to the current political climate, and are trying to fill that glass back up by forming a new more center-of-the-road political party. Sounds like a serious movement, too. Something like 1.7 million people ... Republicans, Democrats and Independents ... have already registered. Plans are to have their presidential candidate on every state's ballot next year, and to have that candidate included in the mainstream debates, as well. (And yes, I know all about the "best-laid plans of mice and men.") According to the COO of Americans Elect, "The questions, the priorities, the nominations, and the rules will all come from the community, not from two entrenched parties."  Intrigued?

In the meantime, our politicians should learn how to argue more creatively. Or to be more precise, they need to be a little more classy with their insults. Like, check out the class in the following:

  • He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.   Winston Churchill
  • A modest little person, with much to be modest about.  Winston Churchill
  • I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.  Clarence Darrow
  • He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.  William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
  • Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?  Ernest Hemingway
  • Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it.  Moses Hadas
  • He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know. Abraham Lincoln
  • I've had a perfectly lovely evening. But this wasn't it.  Groucho Marx
  • I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.  Mark Twain
  • He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.  Oscar Wilde
  • I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend ... if you have one.  George Bernard Shaw (to Winston Churchill)
  • Cannot possibly attend the first night; will attend second ... if there is one.  Winston Churchill, in response
  • I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here.  Stephen Bishop
  • He is a self-made man, and worships the creator.  John Bright
  • I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial.  Irvin S. Cobb
  • He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.  Samuel Johnson
  • He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.  Paul Keating
  • He had delusions of adequacy.  Walter Kerr
  • There's nothing wrong with you reincarnation won't cure.  Jack E. Leonard
  • He has the attention span of a lightning bolt.  Robert Redford
  • They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.  Thomas Brackett Reed
  • He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent work, he overcame them.  James Reston (about Richard Nixon)
  • In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.  Count Charles Talleyrand
  • He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.  Forrest Tucker
  • Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?  Mark Twain
  • His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.  Mae West
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.  Oscar Wilde
  • He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts ... for support rather than illumination.  Andrew Lang
  • He has Van Gogh's ear for music.  Billy Wilder

(Those insults are MUCH classier than I'm rubber and you're glue, aren't they?

OK, now I recognize that many people are content to admire an object without having the compulsion to take it apart to see what makes it work. Not everyone cares about the why of a situation. I, however, am one of those freaks who always wants to know the answers, and I've been graced with a wonderful husband who's a  real sport at putting things back together again when I screw them up. (Who, moi?) Anyway, it you don't give a good diddle about the reasons behind the connections between smells and memories, which I blogged about on last Wednesday's post, you can stop reading now. And I'll see y'all later.

If you DO give a good diddle, here goes a thumbnail explanation:

Information from the olfactory system goes to the limbic system, the primitive part of the brain, which includes areas that control emotion, memory, and behavior. It also goes to the cortex, which is the outer part of the brain that has to do with conscious thought, and to the taste sensory cortex, to create the sense of flavor.

So, the first time you smell a scent, your brain, stimulated at both the primitive and cognitive levels, links that smell to an event, person, thing, or moment. (Kinda like a filing system.) Then, when you encounter the smell again, your brain immediately calls up that link, which in turn, elicits the associated memory or mood. 

Not everybody likes the same smells, which makes sense, if you think about it. For example, the smell of roses may in one person be linked to a wonderful day walking through a garden, but in another, it may be linked to a funeral. I'd be very curious as to whether the brain is able to override its initial smell-memory link with a new one. Say, if the first encounter with roses were negative, would it be possible to reprogram the brain with a more positive connection at a later time? It would seem so, although I can't think of any personal experiences to back it up. Can you?

 From an evolutionary perspective, smell is arguably our most important sense, because the ability of our knuckle-dragging ancestors to identify poisons by smell was integral to their survival. Remnants of that evolutionary purpose may influence the modern day speed with which our brain links smells to memories, but the bottom line is, the initial association of a smell with an experience leaves a unique and lasting impression in the brain. U Smell -----> U nique connection.

When nothing else subsists from the past, after people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory.   Marcel Proust

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. 


  1. The quotes and the last comic are such fun! Thanks for sharing.

    My favorite quote, besides Winston Churchill's is "He has the attention span of a lightening bolt."

    I am so glad they finally settled this debate, it sure was becoming tiresome. It was like watching a playground full of 3rd graders fighting over who gets the kickball.

  2. Great quotes.
    Does that article say anything about seeing someone smoking on TV and being able to smell the smoke? Sort of like the memory thing in reverse. If some says the word bacon to me, I can smell bacon. I'd really like to know how THAT works. For me it isn't the smell that brings back the memory, it's the memory that brings back the smell.
    I was happy last night to hear that they may have reached a solution to the debt crisis in the States. Hope it works.

  3. LOVE those insults. If our politicians were half as clever, politics might not be such an annoying spectator sport.

  4. Love, love, love the insults! But of course, they all come from a time where wit was valued. Nowadays, people don't understand wit. They take offense and set up a Facebook page against whatever you said.

  5. Why is intelligence scorned these days? Wit is frowned upon and piled on, given a chance.

    Dorothy Parker's birthday celebration is in full swing for those who remember The Vicious Circle. Details available at The Dorothy Parker

  6. ooops... The Dorothy Parker Society.

  7. I am sure most of us in America are all relieved, frustrated, and angry that the politicians on all sides could take this down to the wire. It seems working together for the common good is not their priority. However, politics has always been nasty. President Harry Truman once remarked "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

    Me, I have been eating lots of chocolate for the endorphins lately. I am blaming the government for my weight gain.

  8. Hi, All. Thank you for your comments.

    Skippy- Glad you enjoyed them, dear lady. Yeah, I'm glad the pols have a plan to vote on today, but I'll wait until I see how the vote goes before I get too excited.

    Hi, Delores. No, I haven't read anything specific about the ability to smell a cigarette if you see someone smoking one on TV, but I'm certain that it's possible. There's a term for the condition, which escapes me at the moment, but due to the way their brains are wired, some people have amazing cross-sensory abilities. Maybe I'll blog about it someday.

    Linda- Glad you like 'em. Unfortunately, most of our politicians aren't intelligent or civilized enough to be that witty.

    Dianne- Oh, I hope you're wrong. I hope wit and intelligence never go out of style.

    Austan- I dunno that it is. Intelligence, wit, and a sense of humor are more important to me than money and good looks. (Of course, if I were a millionaire and looked like a young super model, I might not feel that way ... HA!)

    Starting Over- Yeah, you've got a point. Politics never has been as altruistic and civilized an endeavor as I wish it were. More's the pity. Pass the chocolate, please. (Semi-sweet with almonds, if you have it ...)

  9. Hello! New follower, stumbled across your blog via a mutual reader (RJR Daydreamer) and am loving it! Great post here! Thanks for sharing the funnies and great thoughts!

  10. churchil's put downs are legend
    I love his put down of a prissy woman who stated at a dinner party that he was drunk
    " yes my dear and you are ugly
    but tomorrow I will be sober!"

  11. Hi, Lynn. Thanks for stopping by, and welcome aboard. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

    Hi, John. Yes, Churchill really was the best. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  12. Hiya girlie - I just wanted to pass through and let you know I left you an award at my blog. I so enjoy your blog and you keep me thinking and smiling. Very deserving.

    Hugs to you!

  13. oops - link:

  14. This post deserves a standing ovation. Clap Clap. From the quotes, my favorite was Clarence Darrell, about the killing a guy and the obits. I've felt that way myself but at my age I have a lot more obits to read. They're dropping like flies!!!
    And then I loved Churchill and Shaw and Hemingway, oh, I just loved them all. My kind of wit. Politicians, a weird lot.

  15. These quotations are all wonderful. As has already been said, Churchill was a master of the put-down, but I do like the Mae West one. A lot of mothers should have kept the stork.

  16. Hi-ya, Skippy. Thank you, dear lady. I'll try to answer the questions on Monday's post.

    Hi, Manzie. I'm glad you liked the quotes. The one about reincarnation is pretty funny, too.

    Hi, Cro. Too true about the stork. From reading your blog, I can imagine you spouting this sort of wit.