Monday, June 23, 2008

Murray Walker Blunders

After active service in World War II and a successful career in advertising, Murray Walker became a sports commentator in 1949. Over the next 52 years, he made a name for himself with his commentating on motor racing, particularly Formula 1. His catch-phrase, "Unless I'm very much mistaken -- and I AM very much mistaken!" was the leader of a pack of quotable lines from Walker's commentating. Many of them were verbal blunders of some kind; he specialized, it seemed, in putting one person in two different places at the same time.

Unless I'm very much mistaken -- I AM very much mistaken!"

"Look up there! That's the sky!"

"Jenson Button is in the top ten, in eleventh position."

"And this is the third place car about to lap the second place car."

"This is an interesting circuit, because it has inclines. And not just up, but down as well."

"And there's the man in the green flag!"

"That's the first time he had started from the front row in a Grand Prix, having done so in Canada earlier this year."

"And he's lost both right front tires."

"Only a few more laps to go and then the action will begin. Unless this is the action, which it is."

"And there's no damage to the car. Except to the car itself."

"Mansell can see him in his earphone."

"Anything happens in Grand Prix racing, and it usually does."

"Alboreto has dropped back up to fifth place."

"As you look at the first four, the significant thing is that Alboreto is fifth."

"Do my eyes deceive me, or is Senna's Lotus sounding rough?"

"I can't imagine what kind of problem Senna has. I imagine it must be some sort of grip problem."

"I know it's an old cliche, but you can cut the atmosphere with a cricket stump."

"Alesi is in second place, and Hill is in second place."

"The lead is now 6.9 seconds. In fact, it's just under 7 seconds."

"Tambay's hopes, which were nil before, are absolutely zero now."

"This has been a great season for Nelson Piquet, as he is now known, and always has been."

"And the first five places are filled by five different cars."

"As you can see, visually, with your eyes."

"And Damon Hill is following Damon Hill."

"Michael Schumacher is leading Michael Schumacher."

"Jacques Lafitte is as close to Surer as Surer is to Lafitte."

"Jean Alesi is 4th and 5th."

"Villeneuve is now twelve seconds ahead of Villeneuve."

"Frentzen is taking, er, reducing that gap between himself and Frentzen."

"Ferrari leads, McLaren second, McLaren second, Jordan third, and Benneton fifth and sixth."

"Schumacher has made his final stop three times."

"Mansell is slowing it down, taking it easy. Oh, no he isn't! It's a lap record."

"And he's done that in a whisker under 10 seconds, call it 9.7 in round figures."

"Nigel Mansell is the last person in the race apart from the five in front of him."

"And here comes Mika Hakkinen, double world champion twice over."

"It's lap 26 of 58, which unless I'm very much mistaken is half way."

"Let's stop the startwatch."

"That's history. I say history because it happened in the past."

"And the first three cars are all Escorts, which isn't surprising as this is an all Escort race."

"I didn't see the time, largely because there wasn't one."

"Rally points scoring is twenty for the fastest, eighteen for the second fastest, right down to six points for the slowest fastest."

"I was there when I said it."

"Stewart has two cars in the top five: Magnusson 5th and Barichello 6th."

"The European drivers have adapted to this circuit extremely quickly, especially Paul Radisich who's a New Zealander."

"Of course he did it voluntarily, but he had to do it."

"The tires are called wets, because they're used in the wet. And these tires are called slicks, because they're very slick."

"You might not think that's cricket, and it's not. It's motor racing."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bad Predictions

It's generally a bad idea to say something can't or won't be done, especially in the realm of science and technology. The following are quotations from the past that haunt their speakers today:

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons." -- Popular Mechanics, 1949

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." -- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

"But it good for?" -- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Attributed to Bill Gates, 1981, but believed to be an urban legend.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." -- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -- Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" -- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility." -- Lee DeForest, inventor.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C', the idea must be feasible." -- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" -- H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper." -- Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With the Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." -- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." -- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'" -- Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." -- Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"It will be years -- not in my time -- before a woman will become Prime Minister." -- Margaret Thatcher, 1974.

"I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone." -- Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species, 1869.

"With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market." -- Business Week, August 2, 1968.

"That Professor Goddard with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react--to say that would be absurd. Of course, he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." -- 1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work. The remark was retracted in the July 17, 1969 issue.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." -- Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Ours has been the first, and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality." -- Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon in 1861.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." -- Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." -- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." -- Albert Einstein, 1932.

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"There will never be a bigger plane built." -- A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." -- Attributed to Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899, but known to be an urban legend.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." -- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon." -- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Readers who just don't get it

The following have all been asked of library reference desk workers in the USA and Canada.

"I'm looking for a book."

"Do you have books here?"

"Do you have a list of all the books written in the English language?"

"Do you have a list of all the books I've ever read?"

"I'm looking for Robert James Waller's book, 'Waltzing through Grand Rapids." -- The actual title is "Slow Waltz In Cedar Bend."

"Where is the reference desk?" -- Asked of a worker sitting at a desk, over which was a sign saying 'REFERENCE DESK'.

"Can you tell me why so many famous Civil War battles were fought on National Park sites?"

"Which outlets in the library are appropriate for my hairdryer?"

"I was here about three weeks ago looking at a cookbook that cost $39.95. Do you know which one it is?"

"I need a color photograph of George Washington." -- Other individuals asked for, by other patrons, are Christopher Columbus, King Arthur, Moses, Socrates, and more.

"Do you have any books with photographs of dinosaurs?"

"I'm looking for information on carpal tunnel syndrome. I think I'm having trouble with it in my neck."

"Is the basement upstairs?"

"I am looking for a list of laws that I can break that would send me back to jail for a couple of months."

"I got a quote from a book I turned in last week but I forgot to write down the author and title. It's big and red, and I found it on the top shelf. Can you find it for me?"

"Do you have anything good to read?" -- The response was, "No, ma'am. I'm afraid we have 75,000 books, and they're all duds."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Do You Know Your Bible

The following are quotes from exams and papers assigned to 7th through 12th students:

"In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so He took the Sabbath off."

"Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree."

"Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark."

"Noah built an ark, which the animals came on to in pears."

"Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night."

"Samson was a strong man who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah."

"Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients."

"The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert."

"Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Amendments."

"The First Commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple."

"The Fifth Commandment is 'Humor thy father and mother.'"

"The Seventh Commandment is 'Thou shalt not admit adultery.'"

"Moses died before he ever reached Canada."

"Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol."

"The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still, and he obeyed him."

"David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar."

"David fought with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in Biblical times."

"Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines."

"The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels."

"The epistles were the wives of the apostles."

"St. Paul cavorted to Christianity."

"Paul preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage."

"In some religions a man can have many wives, and this is called polygamy. In our religion a man can have one wife, and this is called monotony."

Monday, June 2, 2008

History Through Children's Eyes

The following are quotes from exams and papers assigned to 7th through 12th students :

"The Magna Carta provided that no free men should be hanged twice for the same offense."

"Another tale tells of William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son's head."

"Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes."

"The system involving barons and lords was called the futile system."

"Milton wrote 'Paradise Lost.' Then his wife dies, and he wrote 'Paradise Regained.'"

"Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe."

"The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died, and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this."

"Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead."

"Under the Constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms."

"Bach was the most famous composer in the world, and so was Handel."

"Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English."

"Bach died from 1750 to the present."

"Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He expired in 1827 and later died for this."

"[Napoleon] wanted an heir to inheret his power, but since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn't bear him any children."

"The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West."

"Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years."

"Queen Victoria's reclining years and finally the end of her life were exemplatory of a great personality."

"Queen Victoria's death was the final event which ended her reign."

"Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis."

"Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Spices."

"It was the painter Donatello's interest in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance."

"Without Greeks, we wouldn't have history."

"One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped him in the River Stynx until he became intollerable."

"Homer also wrote The Oddity, in which Penelope was the last hardship that Ulysses endured on his journey."

"Actually, Homer was not written by Homer, but by another man of the same name."

"In the Olympics Games, Greeks ran races jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java."

"The government of Athen was democratic because the people took the law into their own hands."

"When they fought the Parisians, the Greeks were outnumbered because the Persians had more men."

"Eventually, the Ramons conquered the Geeks."

"The Whiskey Rebellion was when some people got smashed and went and rebelled."