{June 25, 2009}   Naysayers and fools

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” –Popular
Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas
Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

“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 what … is 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.,

“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 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.

“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.)

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.” — Bill Gates, 1981

“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’

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
–Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” –Lord Kelvin,
president, Royal Society, 1895.

“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.

“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 H-P interested in his and Steve
Wozniak’s personal computer.

“You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across ll
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.

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil?
You’re crazy.” –Drillers who 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.

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

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” –Charles H.
Duell,Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.


{March 23, 2009}   Important issues

I was walking through the supermarket today when I thought “shit, I’ve got a stone in my shoe”, right? A problem we’ve all faced, I’m sure. What do you do? Take of your shoe right there and tip the offending item right out into the aisle, and expose the masses to your odious foot, or just put up with it until you’re all secluded and safe?

Well, I bore the pain for about twenty minutes until I made it to the car park. There, I took off my shoe and pulled out what was not a stone. It was a shard of metal. It looked like a tiny, flattened girder, about four inches long. What the fuck was it? I don’t know. How did it get in my shoe? It’s a mystery.

This is all a metaphor for life, by the way. If you didn’t pick up on that by now you’re stupid.

{December 29, 2008}   Christmas

When I was a kid, like most other kids, I believed in Santa Claus. At such a young age you have this blindingly unquestioning faith that everything your parents tell you is the absolute truth – which is why religious parents are such dangerous animals – and some call it innocence. Others, naivety. Personally, though, if you’re going to tell me a big fat man in a red suit squidged down the chimney in the middle of the night to give me all the presents I asked for, as long as I get the goods I’m not gonna complain. A fat man, you say, mommy? Rides a magic sledge with a frickin’ reindeer’s nose to light the way? And he’s given me that brand new bike I asked for? It all makes perfect sense!

When you get older Christmas is a more dismal affair. There isn’t a magic jolly fat man to give me bicycles anymore; just a list of people I have to give presents to or I’ll look like a miser, or worse, poor.

I don’t remember the exact moment Santa Claus ceased to exist to me. It wasn’t a schoolyard incident where a big boy laughed at me for believing in him, and it wasn’t because I was a young Sherlock who unravelled the mystery with some good old fashioned detective work. It was around the time we moved house and went from having a coal fire to electric heaters, losing a chimney in the process. Come Christmas it occurred to me that Santa had no traditional point of access to our house – how was he to give me my present?

“Oh, that’s okay, he can use the front door,” said my Dad and it all sort of fell apart after that. If Santa could use doors like normal people then why the merry fig was he coming down the chimney all the time? It boggled the mind. I grew suspicious. Santa died.

et cetera