Thursday, July 06, 2006

The low-brow corporate titan is always right

The Economist quotes Henry Ford approvingly in a recent article. “If I’d listened to my customers, I’d’ve given them a faster horse” says the great man, in effortless counterpoint to all received wisdom concerning customer focus.

And that is not the end of his wit and wisdom, a large selection of which is collected here for your reading pleasure.

There are some interesting parallels among these gems. For example, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking” brings to mind Lord Curzon’s “A gentleman is a man who uses the butter knife when no-one can see him.” Perhaps there was more to the use of the word “quality” for the upper crust than later egalitarians would like to admit. Or perhaps they were both just massive snobs.

But it’s not all insightful brilliance. “History is bunk” is superficially interesting, but when one finds “Exercise is bunk” a few lines down, one detects a pattern emerging. And it’s all downhill from there. “Mercedes is bunk” is frankly embarrassingly parti pris, while “My other bed is a bunk” can only be excused as the sad product of his declining years.

What’s your choice of most over-rated quote?


Henry Ford in 1896, yesterday. Somewhat better at creating cars than creating aphorisms, on the whole…

16 comments:

SheBah said...

"A friend in need is a friend indeed"

goes against my experience.

PI said...

'Many hands make light work.'
Just keep the hell out of my kitchen please.
BTW a gentleman asks permission before he removes his trousers.

Desargues said...

My anti-favorite is "history teaches us that..."

History doesn't teach one anything but that it is entirely contingent. There is no necessity in history, contrary to what Marx and the Nazis jointly believed (needless to say, the Germans have a consistent penchant for seeing history as ineluctable, probably on account of their long historical powerlessness). Or, if you will, it teaches everyone everything. It taught Machiavelli that only the ruthless triumph, and it taught Kant that history is the steady progress of freedom; it tells environmentalists that, one good day, animals will have rights--horribile dictu--just as blacks ansd women gained theirs, and it teaches mad ayatollahs that democracy is unfeasible in the Middle East. The one who gets it right, I think, is John Locke, who urges us that drawing historical lessons must be preceded by building a good moral character and developing the proper moral notions.

By the way, happy belated Fourth of July, for those of you in these here United States. I was away in Norfolk, Va., disconnected from Al Gore's internets.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Well, Shebah, it works if you replace "friend" with "leech".

Pi, you're a tyrant and I have no sympathy for you. How else are we to snaffle a slice of that fresh pie if we're not allowed to raid the kitchen?

And Des - welcome back and Happy Fourth right back atcha. Nice list of entirely fictional historical inevitabilities there - but incomplete without a prominent mention for the EU's "ever closer union". Now that's a five-star, fur-lined, ocean-going scam if ever there was one...

Cantemir said...

I dislike "that's true for you but not for me." Tell it to Boole, fool.

Desargues said...

Or to Aristotle. But maybe some of your interlocutors subscribe to some version of the coherence theory of truth. At any rate, I'm not immediately able to see why your coherentists must argue their views with Boole. Shouldn't that be Tarski?

Cantemir said...

Tarski doesn't rhyme with 'fool.' Pity, too.

R. Sherman said...

"Politics is the Mother of strange bedfellows."

I prefer:

"Necessity is the Mother of strange bedfellows."

The latter stood be in good stead during my college years.

Cheers.

Ivan the Terrible said...

"Bedfellows", Randall? Oh say it ain't so...

Anonymous said...

"Let them eat cake" - Marie Antoinette; I always thought she was referring to her own cake...

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!

Reason 1. Sugary beverages are not now, nor ever will be, the answer to life's persistent questions.

Reason 2. Just don't like that one.

Reason 3. Sick today - nothing, I mean, NOTHING presents itself to my fevered mind. About anything: Should I go to bed now? No. There's nothing. I have no answers. Even to life's impersistant qs.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Yes, Sam - go to bed. Seize the chance to leave the rugrats to their own devices for a change...

johnnyboy said...

Don't know about actual quotations, but if I hear another cunt say "carpe diem", that'll be the last diem he gets to carp about.

PI said...

Well jb is 'seize the day' allowed?
Sam;get well soon and Ivan - shan't be around for a few days.
Be strong.

Desargues said...

Do you hang around classical philologists a lot, JB? ;-)

Cantemir said...

I always thought it was 'crappé diem,' myself.