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Proverbs, aphorisms, quotations (English) by Linux fortune

When Computers Crash

HOLLYWOOD -- The FOX TV Network has announced a new series of "reality
shows" to be aired over the summer. The series, "When Computers Crash",
will consist of five hour-long shows documenting the aftermath of serious
computer crashes, failures, and other problems. This show comes on the
heels of other FOX reality shows such as "World's Funniest Antitrust Trial
Bloopers", "When Stupid TV Network Executives Create Bad Show Ideas", and
"When Lame Fortune Files Poke Fun At FOX Reality Shows"...

To coincide with the series, FOX will sponsor a publicity gimmick called
"Crash & Win!" Contest participants will download a free Windows 9x/NT
program that keeps track of the number of Blue Screens, Illegal
Operations, or other fatal errors that force a reboot. When a crash
occurs, the program will log it in an encrypted database, which will be
periodically uploaded to the "FOX Crash & Win!" server.

Prizes such as a "Deciphering Windows Error Messages for Dummies" book, a
1999 Ford "Gasguzzler" Sport Utility Vehicle, or a lifetime supply of
stress relief medication will be awarded to participants based on the
number of crashes they log.
The Poet Whose Badness Saved His Life
        The most important poet in the seventeenth century was George
Wither.  Alexander Pope called him "wretched Wither" and Dryden said of his
verse that "if they rhymed and rattled all was well".
        In our own time, "The Dictionary of National Biography" notes that his
work "is mainly remarkable for its mass, fluidity and flatness.  It usually
lacks any genuine literary quality and often sinks into imbecile doggerel".
        High praise, indeed, and it may tempt you to savour a typically
rewarding stanza: It is taken from "I loved a lass" and is concerned with
the higher emotions.
                She would me "Honey" call,
                She'd -- O she'd kiss me too.
                But now alas!  She's left me
                Falero, lero, loo.
        Among other details of his mistress which he chose to immortalize
was her prudent choice of footwear.
                The fives did fit her shoe.
        In 1639 the great poet's life was endangered after his capture by
the Royalists during the English Civil War.  When Sir John Denham, the
Royalist poet, heard of Wither's imminent execution, he went to the King and
begged that his life be spared.  When asked his reason, Sir John replied,
"Because that so long as Wither lived, Denham would not be accounted the
worst poet in England."
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Worst American Poet
        Julia Moore, "the Sweet Singer of Michigan" (1847-1920) was so bad that
Mark Twain said her first book gave him joy for 20 years.
        Her verse was mainly concerned with violent death -- the great fire
of Chicago and the yellow fever epidemic proved natural subjects for her pen.
        Whether death was by drowning, by fits or by runaway sleigh, the
formula was the same:
                Have you heard of the dreadful fate
                Of Mr. P.P. Bliss and wife?
                Of their death I will relate,
                And also others lost their life
                (in the) Ashbula Bridge disaster,
                Where so many people died.
        Even if you started out reasonably healthy in one of Julia's poems,
the chances are that after a few stanzas you would be at the bottom of a
river or struck by lightning.  A critic of the day said she was "worse than
a Gatling gun" and in one slim volume counted 21 killed and 9 wounded.
        Incredibly, some newspapers were critical of her work, even
suggesting that the sweet singer was "semi-literate".  Her reply was
forthright: "The Editors that has spoken in this scandalous manner have went
beyond reason."  She added that "literary work is very difficult to do".
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
                The Worst Lines of Verse
For a start, we can rule out James Grainger's promising line:
        "Come, muse, let us sing of rats."
Grainger (1721-67) did not have the courage of his convictions and deleted
these words on discovering that his listeners dissolved into spontaneous
laughter the instant they were read out.
        No such reluctance afflicted Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-70) who was
inspired by the subject of war.
        "Flash! flash! bang! bang! and we blazed away,
        And the grey roof reddened and rang;
        Flash! flash! and I felt his bullet flay
        The tip of my ear.  Flash! bang!"
By contrast, Cheshire cheese provoked John Armstrong (1709-79):
        "... that which Cestria sends, tenacious paste of solid milk..."
While John Bidlake was guided by a compassion for vegetables:
        "The sluggard carrot sleeps his day in bed,
        The crippled pea alone that cannot stand."
George Crabbe (1754-1832) wrote:
        "And I was ask'd and authorized to go
        To seek the firm of Clutterbuck and Co."
William Balmford explored the possibilities of religious verse:
        "So 'tis with Christians, Nature being weak
        While in this world, are liable to leak."
And William Wordsworth showed that he could do it if he really tried when
describing a pond:
        "I've measured it from side to side;
        Tis three feet long and two feet wide."
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Least Successful Equal Pay Advertisement
        In 1976 the European Economic Community pointed out to the Irish
Government that it had not yet implemented the agreed sex equality
legislation.  The Dublin Government immediately advertised for an equal pay
enforcement officer.  The advertisement offered different salary scales for
men and women.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Worst Jury
        A murder trial at Manitoba in February 1978 was well advanced, when
one juror revealed that he was completely deaf and did not have the
remotest clue what was happening.
        The judge, Mr. Justice Solomon, asked him if he had heard any
evidence at all and, when there was no reply, dismissed him.
        The excitement which this caused was only equalled when a second
juror revealed that he spoke not a word of English.  A fluent French
speaker, he exhibited great surprised when told, after two days, that he
was hearing a murder trial.
        The trial was abandoned when a third juror said that he suffered
from both conditions, being simultaneously unversed in the English language
and nearly as deaf as the first juror.
        The judge ordered a retrial.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
In practice, failures in system development, like unemployment in Russia,
happens a lot despite official propaganda to the contrary.
                -- Paul Licker
Every successful person has had failures but repeated failure is no
guarantee of eventual success.
The Worst Car Hire Service
        When David Schwartz left university in 1972, he set up Rent-a-wreck
as a joke.  Being a natural prankster, he acquired a fleet of beat-up
shabby, wreckages waiting for the scrap heap in California.
        He put on a cap and looked forward to watching people's faces as he
conducted them round the choice of bumperless, dented junkmobiles.
        To his lasting surprise there was an insatiable demand for them and
he now has 26 thriving branches all over America.  "People like driving
round in the worst cars available," he said.  Of course they do.
        "If a driver damages the side of a car and is honest enough to
admit it, I tell him, `Forget it'.  If they bring a car back late we
overlook it.  If they've had a crash and it doesn't involve another vehicle
we might overlook that too."
        "Where's the ashtray?" asked on Los Angeles wife, as she settled
into the ripped interior.  "Honey," said her husband, "the whole car's the
ash tray."
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
FORTUNE EXPLAINS WHAT JOB REVIEW CATCH PHRASES MEAN:        #1
skilled oral communicator:
        Mumbles inaudibly when attempting to speak.  Talks to self.
        Argues with self.  Loses these arguments.

skilled written communicator:
        Scribbles well.  Memos are invariable illegible, except for
        the portions that attribute recent failures to someone else.

growth potential:
        With proper guidance, periodic counselling, and remedial training,
        the reviewee may, given enough time and close supervision, meet
        the minimum requirements expected of him by the company.

key company figure:
        Serves as the perfect counter example.
... The things love can drive a man to -- the ecstasies, the
the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious
failures and the glorious victories.
                -- McCoy, "Requiem for Methuselah", stardate 5843.7
As failures go, attempting to recall the past is like trying to grasp
the meaning of existence.  Both make one feel like a baby clutching at
a basketball: one's palms keep sliding off.
                -- Joseph Brodsky
The Vet Who Surprised A Cow
        In the course of his duties in August 1977, a Dutch veterinary
surgeon was required to treat an ailing cow.  To investigate its internal
gases he inserted a tube into that end of the animal not capable of facial
expression and struck a match.  The jet of flame set fire first to some
bales of hay and then to the whole farm causing damage estimate at L45,000.
The vet was later fined L140 for starting a fire in a manner surprising to
the magistrates.  The cow escaped with shock.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Least Successful Executions
        History has furnished us with two executioners worthy of attention.
The first performed in Sydney in Australia.  In 1803 three attempts were
made to hang a Mr. Joseph Samuels.  On the first two of these the rope
snapped, while on the third Mr. Samuels just hung there peacefully until he
and everyone else got bored.  Since he had proved unsusceptible to capital
punishment, he was reprieved.
        The most important British executioner was Mr. James Berry who
tried three times in 1885 to hang Mr. John Lee at Exeter Jail, but on each
occasion failed to get the trap door open.
        In recognition of this achievement, the Home Secretary commuted
Lee's sentence to "life" imprisonment.  He was released in 1917, emigrated
to America and lived until 1933.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Least Successful Police Dogs
        America has a very strong candidate in "La Dur", a fearsome looking
schnauzer hound, who was retired from the Orlando police force in Florida
in 1978.  He consistently refused to do anything which might ruffle or
offend the criminal classes.
        His handling officer, Rick Grim, had to admit: "He just won't go up
and bite them.  I got sick and tired of doing that dog's work for him."
        The British contenders in this category, however, took things a
stage further.  "Laddie" and "Boy" were trained as detector dogs for drug
raids.  Their employment was terminated following a raid in the Midlands in
1967.
        While the investigating officer questioned two suspects, they
patted and stroked the dogs who eventually fell asleep in front of the
fire.  When the officer moved to arrest the suspects, one dog growled at
him while the other leapt up and bit his thigh.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Worst Prison Guards
        The largest number of convicts ever to escape simultaneously from a
maximum security prison is 124.  This record is held by Alcoente Prison,
near Lisbon in Portugal.
        During the weeks leading up to the escape in July 1978 the prison
warders had noticed that attendances had fallen at film shows which
included "The Great Escape", and also that 220 knives and a huge quantity
of electric cable had disappeared.  A guard explained, "Yes, we were
planning to look for them, but never got around to it."  The warders had
not, however, noticed the gaping holes in the wall because they were
"covered with posters".  Nor did they detect any of the spades, chisels,
water hoses and electric drills amassed by the inmates in large quantities.
The night before the breakout one guard had noticed that of the 36
prisoners in his block only 13 were present.  He said this was "normal"
because inmates sometimes missed roll-call or hid, but usually came back
the next morning.
        "We only found out about the escape at 6:30 the next morning when
one of the prisoners told us," a warder said later.  [...]  When they
eventually checked, the prison guards found that exactly half of the gaol's
population was missing.  By way of explanation the Justice Minister, Dr.
Santos Pais, claimed that the escape was "normal" and part of the
"legitimate desire of the prisoner to regain his liberty."
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Greatest Mathematical Error
        The Mariner I space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral on 28
July 1962 towards Venus.  After 13 minutes' flight a booster engine would
give acceleration up to 25,820 mph; after 44 minutes 9,800 solar cells
would unfold; after 80 days a computer would calculate the final course
corrections and after 100 days the craft would cirlce the unknown planet,
scanning the mysterious cloud in which it is bathed.  
        However, with an efficiency that is truly heartening, Mariner I
plunged into the Atlantic Ocean only four minutes after takeoff.
        Inquiries later revealed that a minus sign had been omitted from
the instructions fed into the computer.  "It was human error", a launch
spokesman said.
        This minus sign cost L4,280,000.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Man Who Almost Invented The Vacuum Cleaner
        The man officially credited with inventing the vacuum cleaner is
Hubert Cecil Booth.  However, he got the idea from a man who almost
invented it.  
        In 1901 Booth visited a London music-hall.  On the bill was an
American inventor with his wonder machine for removing dust from carpets.
        The machine comprised a box about one foot square with a bag on top.
After watching the act -- which made everyone in the front six rows sneeze
-- Booth went round to the inventor's dressing room.
        "It should suck not blow," said Booth, coming straight to the
point.  "Suck?", exclaimed the enraged inventor.  "Your machine just moves
the dust around the room," Booth informed him.  "Suck?  Suck?  Sucking is
not possible," was the inventor's reply and he stormed out.  Booth proved
that it was by the simple expedient of kneeling down, pursing his lips and
sucking the back of an armchair.  "I almost choked," he said afterwards.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Least Perceptive Literary Critic
        The most important critic in our field of study is Lord Halifax.  A
most individual judge of poetry, he once invited Alexander Pope round to
give a public reading of his latest poem.
        Pope, the leading poet of his day, was greatly surprised when Lord
Halifax stopped him four or five times and said, "I beg your pardon, Mr.
Pope, but there is something in that passage that does not quite please me."
        Pope was rendered speechless, as this fine critic suggested sizeable
and unwise emendations to his latest masterpiece.  "Be so good as to mark
the place and consider at your leisure.  I'm sure you can give it a better
turn."
        After the reading, a good friend of Lord Halifax, a certain Dr.
Garth, took the stunned Pope to one side.  "There is no need to touch the
lines," he said.  "All you need do is leave them just as they are, call on
Lord Halifax two or three months hence, thank him for his kind observation
on those passages, and then read them to him as altered.  I have known him
much longer than you have, and will be answerable for the event."
        Pope took his advice, called on Lord Halifax and read the poem
exactly as it was before.  His unique critical faculties had lost none of
their edge.  "Ay", he commented, "now they are perfectly right.  Nothing can
be better."
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Least Successful Collector
        Betsy Baker played a central role in the history of collecting.  She
was employed as a servant in the house of John Warburton (1682-1759) who had
amassed a fine collection of 58 first edition plays, including most of the
works of Shakespeare.
        One day Warburton returned home to find 55 of them charred beyond
legibility.  Betsy had either burned them or used them as pie bottoms.  The
remaining three folios are now in the British Museum.
        The only comparable literary figure was the maid who in 1835 burned
the manuscript of the first volume of Thomas Carlyle's "The Hisory of the
French Revolution", thinking it was wastepaper.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The avocation of assessing the failures of better men can be turned
into a comfortable livelihood, providing you back it up with a Ph.D.
                -- Nelson Algren, "Writers at Work"
Failed Attempts To Break Records
        In September 1978 Mr. Terry Gripton, of Stafford, failed to break
the world shouting record by two and a half decibels.  "I am not surprised
he failed," his wife said afterwards.  "He's really a very quiet man and
doesn't even shout at me."
        In August of the same year Mr. Paul Anthony failed to break the
record for continuous organ playing by 387 hours.
        His attempt at the Golden Fish Fry Restaurant in Manchester ended
after 36 hours 10 minutes, when he was accused of disturbing the peace.
"People complained I was too noisy," he said.
        In January 1976 Mr. Barry McQueen failed to walk backwards across
the Menai Bridge playing the bagpipes.  "It was raining heavily and my
drone got waterlogged," he said.
        A TV cameraman thwarted Mr. Bob Specas' attempt to topple 100,000
dominoes at the Manhattan Center, New York on 9 June 1978.  97,500 dominoes
had been set up when he dropped his press badge and set them off.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
I always turn to the sports pages first, which record people's accomplishments.
The front page has nothing but man's failures.
                -- Chief Justice Earl Warren
The Fastest Defeat In Chess
        The big name for us in the world of chess is Gibaud, a French chess
master.  
        In Paris during 1924 he was beaten after only four moves by a
Monsieur Lazard.  Happily for posterity, the moves are recorded and so
chess enthusiasts may reconstruct this magnificent collapse in the comfort
of their own homes.
        Lazard was black and Gibaud white:
        1: P-Q4, Kt-KB3
        2: Kt-Q2, P-K4
        3: PxP, Kt-Kt5
        4: P-K6, Kt-K6
        White then resigns on realizing that a fifth move would involve
either a Q-KR5 check or the loss of his queen.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
Best Mistakes In Films
        In his "Filmgoer's Companion", Mr. Leslie Halliwell helpfully lists
four of the cinema's greatest moments which you should get to see if at all
possible.
        In "Carmen Jones", the camera tracks with Dorothy Dandridge down a
street; and the entire film crew is reflected in the shop window.
        In "The Wrong Box", the roofs of Victorian London are emblazoned
with television aerials.
        In "Decameron Nights", Louis Jourdain stands on the deck of his
fourteenth century pirate ship; and a white lorry trundles down the hill
in the background.
        In "Viking Queen", set in the times of Boadicea, a wrist watch is
clearly visible on one of the leading characters.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Worst Musical Trio
        There are few bad musicians who have a chance to give a recital at
a famous concert hall while still learning the rudiments of their
instrument.  This happened about thirty years ago to the son of a Rumanian
gentleman who was owed a personal favour by Georges Enesco, the celebrated
violinist.  Enesco agreed to give lessons to the son who was quite
unhampered by great musical talent.
        Three years later the boy's father insisted that he give a public
concert.  "His aunt said that nobody plays the violin better than he does.
A cousin heard him the other day and screamed with enthusiasm."  Although
Enesco feared the consequences, he arranged a recital at the Salle Gaveau
in Paris.  However, nobody bought a ticket since the soloist was unknown.
        "Then you must accompany him on the piano," said the boy's father,
"and it will be a sell out."
        Reluctantly, Enesco agreed and it was.  On the night an excited
audience gathered.  Before the concert began Enesco became nervous and
asked for someone to turn his pages.
        In the audience was Alfred Cortot, the brilliant pianist, who
volunteered and made his way to the stage.
        The soloist was of uniformly low standard and next morning the
music critic of Le Figaro wrote: "There was a strange concert at the Salle
Gaveau last night.  The man whom we adore when he plays the violin played
the piano.  Another whom we adore when he plays the piano turned the pages.
But the man who should have turned the pages played the violin."
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
Largest Number of Driving Test Failures
        By April 1970 Mrs. Miriam Hargrave had failed her test thirty-nine
times.  In the eight preceding years she had received two hundred and
twelve driving lessons at a cost of L300.  She set the new record while
driving triumphantly through a set of red traffic lights in Wakefield,
Yorkshire.  Disappointingly, she passed at the fortieth attempt (3 August
1970) but eight years later she showed some of her old magic when she was
reported as saying that she still didn't like doing right-hand turns.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
The Least Successful Defrosting Device
        The all-time record here is held by Mr. Peter Rowlands of Lancaster
whose lips became frozen to his lock in 1979 while blowing warm air on it.
        "I got down on my knees to breathe into the lock.  Somehow my lips
got stuck fast."
        While he was in the posture, an old lady passed an inquired if he
was all right.  "Alra?  Igmmlptk", he replied at which point she ran away.
        "I tried to tell her what had happened, but it came out sort of...
muffled," explained Mr. Rowlands, a pottery designer.
        He was trapped for twenty minutes ("I felt a bit foolish") until
constant hot breathing brought freedom.  He was subsequently nicknamed "Hot
Lips".
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
No guarantee of accuracy or completeness!
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