It’s amazing what people think they know. I’ve seen this trend a lot on LinkedIn lately. One person pontificates: “Print communications are dead!” Another blares: “Nobody uses press releases anymore!”
Funny thing — Printed junk mail advertisements still show up in my mailbox and I keep seeing press releases around. When everybody stops using these methods of communication, THEN I’ll believe they’re dead.
It’s wacky, the things that people believe. Back in history, many people in Europe didn’t eat tomatoes because they had a reputation for being poisonous. I kid you not. According to the Smithsonian blog, tomatoes got their reputation because they were often served on pewter plates, which caused the plates to leach lead due to the acidity of the tomatoes.
This weekend, I came across a book I had received as a Christmas present from the parents of my British friend, H. These parents have a lively sense of humor and gave me a book called I Wish I’d Never Said That: Everlasting Gaffes Of The Famous. So for your entertainment today, I’m showing off some of the funniest excerpts from the book:
Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer, in Vogue magazine, 1966: “Houses will be able to fly by 2000. The time may come when whole communities may migrate south in the winter.” (Okay, he got the southern migration part right. Around here, we call ‘em retirees or college students on spring break.)
E.G. Alton, British cigar maker, to John Player, discussing Player’s new product called a “cigar-ette”: “Your cigar-ettes will never be popular.”
A Yale Professor of Economics, October 1929: “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” (One week later: the infamous stock market crash.)
Advertising agents to Guinness brewing company, 1955, about their proposed book, the Guinness Book of Records: “It was amateurish, inaccurate and would never catch on.”
Munich Technical Institute in 1898, in relation to their refusal to admit a new student, Albert Einstein: “This student shows no promise.”
Robert Southey, British poet laureate, in response to an 1836 inquiry by an author asking if she could make a living as a writer: “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it, even as an accomplishment and recreation. To those duties you have not yet been called, and when you are you will be less eager for celebrity.” (The author: Charlotte Brontë. She produced Jane Eyre, one of her most famous books, about 10 years later.)
Hollywood talent scout about a screen test by a new actor: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” (Actor’s name: Fred Astaire.)
Dr. Dionysius Lardner, professor of natural philosophy and astronomy at University College of London about train travel: “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”
Record company Decca, rejecting a new four-person group for their label: “Go back to Liverpool, Mr. Epstein. Four-groups are out.”
San Francisco Examiner editor, 1889, about a refusal to use articles by Rudyard Kipling: “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”
1907 interview with a shipping line captain: “I have never been in any accident of any sort worth speaking about…nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort. You see, I am not very good material for a story.” (The captain: E.J. Smith of the Titanic.)