Have you ever noticed that when you lose something and then find it, you will always find it in the last place you look?
Yet we hear that confirmation routinely because quite often we don’t really give a lot of deep thought to rhetorical questions or statements.
How many times have you lost something and someone else, apparently trying to be of help, asks you, “Where did you have it last?”
I get a kick out of researching rhetorical commentary and hyperbole. In that process, I tend to collect famous and not-so-famous quotes and observations.
Some of the more entertaining quotes actually are listed as “unknown.” We don’t know who first said them or what the circumstances were.
I’ve always wondered who first said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Was that person speaking metaphorically or was it meant literally. Maybe the horse wasn’t thirsty.
Occasionally I read a quote, and I have a flashback.
For instance, “The philosophy exam was a piece of cake — which was a bit of a surprise, actually, because I was expecting some questions on a sheet of paper.” (Unknown)
That took me back to my college days at Georgia State. I took a philosophy course because I grew up on a farm and had a lot of experience shoveling manure. What I’m saying is, there really aren’t any wrong answers in philosophy like in math or history.
Our final exam was a take-home test. Wow! What a concept! When I went to turn it in, I learned through a friend of mine that the professor had already determined our grades for the quarter and had sailed off to The Bahamas. I had shoveled a lot of manure into that exam for no apparent reason. But I took the B+ and ran with it.
But one thing I learned from that course is to never ask someone smoking a pipe and wearing a cardigan sweater, “How long is a piece of string?” Life is too short.
But that course did cause me to look at life from a lot of angles and to ponder the perspectives. Like Chief Brody said in the movie “Jaws.” “It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.”
I heard a fellow once describe how to sculpt an elephant. He said to first get a huge block of marble and then chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant. And I once read a bumper sticker that said, “It is now beyond any doubt that cigarettes are the biggest cause of statistics.”
In that vein, I’ve often wondered how people described tornadoes before trains were invented. And given some of the people that TV stations interview in such instances, is this why it’s called a “toothbrush” instead of a “teeth brush?”
Perhaps you’ve seen the comedian Gallagher. He once said, “I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There’s a knob called ‘brightness’ but it doesn’t work.”
One of the problems I had in college is that I needed better examples to illustrate principles. Some of my professors acted as if they didn’t have time for me. They were pouting because they didn’t work for NASA. Ironically, one of the brightest people in the 20th Century had a sense of humor and a way of drawing a mental picture to aid one’s understanding of a concept. He was Albert Einstein.
He once said while describing how a radio works, “You see wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: You send signals here and they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”