Category Archives: Culture

Funniest Car Bumper Stickers

alex atkins bookshelf cultureAccording to a 2016 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers in the U.S. spend more than 294 hours behind the wheel each year — the equivalent of seven 40-hour weeks at the office. During that time, the average driver covers 10,900 miles. Assuming that the average person begins driving at the age of 17, over a lifetime, he or she will drive more than 37,935 hours (1,580 days or 4.32 years), covering more than 798,000 miles. That’s a lot of driving — and if you live in traffic congested cities, that can drive you crazy. That’s where witty car bumper stickers come in. Not only do they make a statement about society, they do it in such a clever way to make you laugh out loud, or at least crack a smile if you are having a really bad day. The key to a really great bumper sticker is that the joke has to deliver a punchline in less than six to ten words. Not always an easy task. Here are some of the funniest car bumper stickers:

Caution: I drive just like you!

Don’t drink and drive — you might spill some!

Be careful — 90% of people are caused by accidents

I took an IQ test and the results were negative

If you lived in your car, you’d be home by now

Learn from your parents’ mistakes — use birth control

You! Out of the gene pool!

How many roads must a man travel down before he admits he is lost?

I’m not a complete idiot — some parts are missing

Instant asshole, just add alcohol

If I’m ever on life support, unplug me, then plug me back in. See if that works.

Dislexics are teople poo

I’m speeding cause I really have to poop

Nobody cares about your stick family

I’m having an out-of-money experience

I saw that… — Karma

Watch out for the idiot behind me

Don’t believe everything you think

Trust me that squirrel was an asshole

Do you follow Jesus this closely?

I’m new at this, what’s your excuse?

Well behaved women rarely make history

Buckle up… it makes it harder for aliens to suck you out of your car

Read related posts: Top Ten Puns
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For further reading:


The Proust Questionnaire: Deepak Chopra

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsDuring the late 1800s, a fascinating parlor game arose in Paris. The game consisted of about three dozen probing questions that were believed to reveal a person’s true nature. The game was popularized by Antoinette Faure, daughter of the French president at the time, Felix Faure. One of the individuals that Faure presented the set of questions was the famous French writer and critic Marcel Proust. When published in 1892, Proust’s answers to the questions became quite famous; henceforth, the set of questions became known as the Proust Questionnaire. Fast forward to 1993 — the editors of Vanity Fair decided to adopt the Proust Questionnaire as one of their regular features. In 2009, a collection of the best of those interviews were published the insightful and beautifully illustrated book Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, and the Meaning of Life. Deepak Chopra (born 1946) is a well-known alternative medicine advocate, prolific author, and public speaker. Here are some of his answers to the Proust Questionnaire:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It does not exist. If it did, we’d all be doomed to eternal senility.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

What is your greatest regret?
That I have no regrets to talk about or be nostalgic about.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My children.

What do you regard the lowest depth of misery?
The hypnosis of social conditioning.

Who are your favorite writers?
Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, T. S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw, William Shakespeare

How would you like to die?
In meditation.

What is your motto?
“Don’t take yourself seriously.”

Read related posts: 

The Wisdom of Tom Shadyac
The Wisdom of Martin Luther King
The Wisdom of Maya Angelou
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks

The Wisdom of Lady Grantham
The Wisdom of Morrie Schwartz

The Wisdom of Yoda
The Wisdom of George Carlin
The Wisdom of Saint-Exupery
The Wisdom of Steven Wright
The Wisdom of Spock
The Wisdom of Elie Wiesel

For further reading: Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, and the Meaning of Life edited by Graydon Carter

Most Expensive Watch Sold at Auction

alex atkins bookshelf triviaImagine purchasing a Rolex Daytona watch in 1968 for about $200, and then 49 years later, selling it for $17,752,500! That’s a return on investment of whopping 8,876,200%! Impossible, you say? Not if the watch was owned by one of the most famous actors (1960-80s), race car drivers, and philanthropists (Newman’s Own). And not if the watch,  known as the “Paul Newman Daytona,” became the Holy Grail of watch collectors — and really wealthy ones. In an interview, Geoff Hess who is a vintage Rolex collector expressed how valuable this watch has become: “Many people are saying this is the greatest watch on the planet. This watch transcends watch collecting, it transcends the watch community. This watch appeals to people way beyond the watch world. I don’t recall a watch that has roots and ties in so many [collecting] communities, and it’s an incredibly potent mix. It, of course, attracts those who love and admire motor sports and cars, it also appeals to people who love Hollywood memorabilia. It’s also a piece of Americana, so it appeals to the American history community.”

The Rolex Cosmography Daytona Reference 6239 watch was produced by Rolex from 1964 to 1976. (The Daytona has actually been produced in three separate series: Series One, from 1963 to 1980s; Series Two, from 1988 to 2000; and Series Three, from 200o on.) It sports watch was named after the famous Daytona racetrack in Florida. The watch features a whimsical, art deco style white face with three smaller black sub dials; it was the first wristwatch with the tachometer scale engraved on a stainless steel bezel. The watch case is silver paired with a black leather band. The watch was a gift to Newman from his wife Joanne. On the back of the case, she had the following words inscribed: “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.” The watch became known as the Paul Newman Daytona because in just about every photo during the 1980s, Newman was wearing the watch.

In 1984, Newman gave the watch to James Cox, who was a boyfriend of Nell Newman, Newman’s daughter. Recently, Cox turned to Phillips auction house in New York to sell the watch. The watch came up for auction on October 26, 2017, and within 12 minutes of fierce bidding (only 32 bidders were allowed), a telephone bidder won  the bid. The watch was sold for $15.5 million plus the buyer’s premium of 12.5%, bringing the total price to $17,752,500. In the process, the sale of the Paul Newman watch set a new record for highest price paid for a wristwatch at auction. The previous record was $11,136,642 for a Patek Philippe reference 1518 timepiece sold in a Geneva auction on November 12, 2016.

Read related posts: The Most Expensive Watches in the World
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We Are Drowning in Information, While Starving for Wisdom

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsWe are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.

From Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge by Edward Osborne Wilson, Pulitzer Prize winning author, biologist, and naturalist. He is considered “the father of sociobiology”, “the father of biodiversity”, as well as the leading authority on ants. The Ants, co-written with Bert Holldobler, is considered the definitive scientific study of ant behavior; it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991. He taught at Harvard from 1956 to 1996.

How To Grieve for a Lost Friend

alex atkins bookshelf literatureIn the wake of the heartbreaking tragedy in Las Vegas, where 58 innocent lives perished and nearly 500 were injured, many people are struggling with shock and grief. To help us cope with the loss of a friend we can turn to religion for comfort, but we can also turn to philosophy. Let us travel back to Rome, circa 40 B.C., and the work of Seneca (born Lucius Annaeus Seneca, also known as Seneca the Younger). Seneca was a respected statesman (he was an advisor to Nero), dramatist (he wrote the plays Medea and Thyestes), and stoic philosopher (best known for three Consolatory works and Moral Epistles). He is considered by many scholars to be the first great Western thinker on the complicated nature and role of gratitude in human relationships. However, it was during his years of exile on the Island of Corsica (about 41-49 B.C., a period where he lost his wife, son, and father), when Seneca looked deep within his soul to find words of wisdom to comfort his family and friends in their time of need. A time, similar to the one we are facing now when our hearts are full of grief. One of his most insightful and poignant letters is Epistle 63 (titled: “On Grief for Lost Friends”), where Seneca consoles a friend, Lucilius, on the death of his friend Flaccus:

Epistle LXIII: On Grief for Lost Friends by Seneca

1. I am grieved to hear that your friend Flaccus is dead, but I would not have you sorrow more than is fitting. That you should not mourn at all I shall hardly dare to insist; and yet I know that it is the better way. But what man will ever be so blessed with that ideal steadfastness of soul, unless he has already risen far above the reach of Fortune? Even such a man will be stung by an event like this, but it will be only a sting. We, however, may be forgiven for bursting into tears, if only our tears have not flowed to excess, and if we have checked them by our own efforts. Let not the eyes be dry when we have lost a friend, nor let them overflow. We may weep, but we must not wail.

2. Do you think that the law which I lay down for you is harsh, when the greatest of Greek poets has extended the privilege of weeping to one day only, in the lines where he tells us that even Niobe took thought of food? Do you wish to know the reason for lamentations and excessive weeping? It is because we seek the proofs of our bereavement in our tears, and do not give way to sorrow, but merely parade it. No man goes into mourning for his own sake. Shame on our ill-timed folly! There is an element of self-seeking even in our sorrow.

3. “What,” you say, “am I to forget my friend?” It is surely a short-lived memory that you vouchsafe to him, if it is to endure only as long as your grief; presently that brow of yours will be smoothed out in laughter by some circumstance, however casual. It is to a time no more distant than this that I put off the soothing of every regret, the quieting of even the bitterest grief. As soon as you cease to observe yourself, the picture of sorrow which you have contemplated will fade away; at present you are keeping watch over your own suffering. But even while you keep watch it slips away from you, and the sharper it is, the more speedily it comes to an end.

4. Let us see to it that the recollection of those whom we have lost becomes a pleasant memory to us. No man reverts with pleasure to any subject which he will not be able to reflect upon without pain. So too it cannot but be that the names of those whom we have loved and lost come back to us with a sort of sting; but there is a pleasure even in this sting.

5. For, as my friend Attalus used to say: “The remembrance of lost friends is pleasant in the same way that certain fruits have an agreeably acid taste, or as in extremely old wines it is their very bitterness that pleases us. Indeed, after a certain lapse of time, every thought that gave pain is quenched, and the pleasure comes to us unalloyed.”

6. If we take the word of Attalus for it, “to think of friends who are alive and well is like enjoying a meal of cakes and honey; the recollection of friends who have passed away gives a pleasure that is not without a touch of bitterness. Yet who will deny that even these things, which are bitter and contain an element of sourness, do serve to arouse the stomach?”

7. For my part, I do not agree with him. To me, the thought of my dead friends is sweet and appealing. For I have had them as if I should one day lose them; I have lost them as if I have them still. Therefore, Lucilius, act as befits your own serenity of mind, and cease to put a wrong interpretation on the gifts of Fortune. Fortune has taken away, but Fortune has given.

8. Let us greedily enjoy our friends, because we do not know how long this privilege will be ours. Let us think how often we shall leave them when we go upon distant journeys, and how often we shall fail to see them when we tarry together in the same place; we shall thus understand that we have lost too much of their time while they were alive.

9. But will you tolerate men who are most careless of their friends, and then mourn them most abjectly, and do not love anyone unless they have lost him? The reason why they lament too unrestrainedly at such times is that they are afraid lest men doubt whether they really have loved; all too late they seek for proofs of their emotions.

10. If we have other friends, we surely deserve ill at their hands and think ill of them, if they are of so little account that they fail to console us for the loss of one. If, on the other hand, we have no other friends, we have injured ourselves more than Fortune has injured us; since Fortune has robbed us of one friend, but we have robbed ourselves of every friend whom we have failed to make.

11. Again, he who has been unable to love more than one, has had none too much love even for that one. If a man who has lost his one and only tunic through robbery chooses to bewail his plight rather than look about him for some way to escape the cold, or for something with which to cover his shoulders, would you not think him an utter fool? You have buried one whom you loved; look about for someone to love. It is better to replace your friend than to weep for him.

12. What I am about to add is, I know, a very hackneyed remark, but I shall not omit it simply because it is a common phrase: a man ends his grief by the mere passing of time, even if he has not ended it of his own accord. But the most shameful cure for sorrow, in the case of a sensible man, is to grow weary of sorrowing. I should prefer you to abandon grief, rather than have grief abandon you; and you should stop grieving as soon as possible, since, even if you wish to do so, it is impossible to keep it up for a long time.

13. Our forefathers have enacted that, in the case of women, a year should be the limit for mourning; not that they needed to mourn for so long, but that they should mourn no longer. In the case of men, no rules are laid down, because to mourn at all is not regarded as honourable. For all that, what woman can you show me, of all the pathetic females that could scarcely be dragged away from the funeral-pile or torn from the corpse, whose tears have lasted a whole month? Nothing becomes offensive so quickly as grief; when fresh, it finds someone to console it and attracts one or another to itself; but after becoming chronic, it is ridiculed, and rightly. For it is either assumed or foolish.

14. He who writes these words to you is no other than I, who wept so excessively for my dear friend Annaeus Serenus[5] that, in spite of my wishes, I must be included among the examples of men who have been overcome by grief. To-day, however, I condemn this act of mine, and I understand that the reason why I lamented so greatly was chiefly that I had never imagined it possible for his death to precede mine. The only thought which occurred to my mind was that he was the younger, and much younger, too, — as if the Fates kept to the order of our ages!

15. Therefore let us continually think as much about our own mortality as about that of all those we love. In former days I ought to have said: “My friend Serenus is younger than I; but what does that matter? He would naturally die after me, but he may precede me.” It was just because I did not do this that I was unprepared when Fortune dealt me the sudden blow. Now is the time for you to reflect, not only that all things are mortal, but also that their mortality is subject to no fixed law. Whatever can happen at any time can happen today.

16. Let us therefore reflect, my beloved Lucilius, that we shall soon come to the goal which this friend, to our own sorrow, has reached. And perhaps, if only the tale told by wise men is true and there is a bourne to welcome us, then he whom we think we have lost has only been sent on ahead. Farewell.

Read related posts: The Wisdom or the Ancient Greeks
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In Mourning the Heart Does Not Forget

For further reading: The Stoic Philosophy or Seneca: Essays and Letters

Las Vegas Massacre Tribute

In times of great tragedy and grief, we often turn to poetry to assure us that we are not alone, that others are feeling the same sadness and grief. Graphic design, like poetry, uses metaphors to help heal, to express the unfathomable grief that the Las Vegas community is experiencing, in the wake of one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history. This poster, featuring a cowboy boot rising above the Las Vegas skyline represents the peaceful country music fans who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival to celebrate the universal language of music. The cowboy boot is adorned with the symbols of the American flag, with a field of stars to honor those who lost their lives in a horrific rain of bullets, the alternating bands of red and white represent those who were injured. The lights gleaming upward represent the kindness and bravery of those who exemplified the best of humanity in the dark shadow of hatred and malice. The stars in the heaven represents the glimmer of hope that exists for a future without hatred and violence.

The History of the World According to Student Bloopers

alex atkins bookshelf educationRichard Lederer, a life-long word lover and prolific author (more than 30 books on the English language), has been collecting unique and fascinating words for decades. He also enjoys collecting verbal bloopers and malapropisms, the innocent goofs and gaffes that most people make in their daily speech and writing, unaware that they are mangling the English language, as well as important facts. Lederer writes “One of the fringe benefits of being an English or History teacher is receiving the occasional jewel of a student blooper in an essay. I have pasted together the following history of the world from certifiably genuine student bloopers collected by teachers throughout the United States, from eighth grade through college level.” This history of the world according to student bloopers will elicit either a hearty laugh or utter shock (these students actually graduated?), depending on your perspective:

“The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called mummies. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation. The Egyptians built the Pyramids in the shape of a huge triangular cube. The Pramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinesses, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, once asked, “Am I my brother’s son?” God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Montezuma. Jacob, son of Isaac, stole his brother’s birth mark. Jacob was a patriarch who brought up his twelve sons to be patriarchs, but they did not take to it. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, gave refuse to the Israelites.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 500 wives and 500 porcupines.

Without the Greeks we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks invented three kinds of columns–Corinthian, Doric, and Ironic. They also had myths. A myth is a female moth. One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped him in the River Stynx until he became intolerable. Achilles appears in The Iliad, by Homer. 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 that name.

Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull. It was the painter Donatello’s interest in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible. SirWalter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

Then came the Middle Ages. King Alfred conquered the Danes, King Arthur lived in the Age of Shivery, King Harold mustarded his troups before the Battle of Hastings, Joan of Arc was cannonized by Bernard Shaw, and victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. Finally, Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

During the RenaissanceAmerica began. Christo-pher 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. Later, the Pilgrims crossed the Ocean, and this was known as Pilgrims Progress.

George Washington married Martha Curtis and in due time became the Father of Our Country.Then the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the Constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.

Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Prec-edent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. When Lincoln was President, he wore only a tall silk hat. He said, “In onion there is strength.” Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.

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. Her reclining years and finally the end of her life were exemplatory of a great personality. Her death was the final event which ended her reign.

The nineteenth century was a time of many great inventions and thoughts. The invention of the steam boat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Samuel Morse invented a code of telepathy. Louis Pasteur invented a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of Species. Madman Curie discovered radium. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx brothers.

The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by a surf, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.”

Even if you enjoyed this historical narrative, don’t expect to see it on the History Channel or a Ken Burns documentary.

Read related posts: Bloopers in English: Excuse Notes Written to Teachers
Fowl Language
The Best of Puns, the Worst of Puns

For further reading: Verbatim by Erin McKean

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