O My Dear Honeys, Heaven Is a Kentucky of a Place

Daniel Boone? Baptist Preacher? Methodist Preacher? Edward Stanly? Lewis Craig? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The U.S. state of Kentucky is well-known for its beautiful scenery. According to legend when the frontiersman Daniel Boone first encountered the land he compared it to paradise. Here are three versions of the saying:

  • Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.
  • Heaven is a real Kentuck sort of a place.
  • Heaven is a perfect Kaintuck of a place.

Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in an 1828 book by a travelling preacher named Isaac Reed who visited Paint Lick, Kentucky and wrote down his thoughts in a letter dated February 10, 1818. A resident told Reed about a memorable remark delivered during a sermon by a previous religious speaker. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

The preacher was descanting upon heaven, and the heavenly state. He wished his hearers to get a just idea of that place, and he attempted to give it by comparison: it was in the meeting-house, not half a mile from where I now write, where the preacher said to his hearers, “O my dear honeys, heaven is a Kentucky of a place.” I tell the tale as it was told to me, and leave it without comment.

QI has found no substantive evidence that Daniel Boone crafted this saying. The words were attributed to him in 1967 many decades after his death in 1820.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading O My Dear Honeys, Heaven Is a Kentucky of a Place

Notes:

  1. 1828, The Christian Traveller: In Five Parts by Isaac Reed, Letter XI, Date of letter: February 10, 1818, Letter sent to: My dear C____, Location of letter: Lancaster, Start Page 47, Quote Page 47 and 48, (Facsimile from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1973) Printed by J & J Harper, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

The Difference Between the Almost Right Word and the Right Word Is Really a Large Matter—’Tis the Difference Between the Lightning Bug and the Lightning

Mark Twain? Josh Billings? Henry Wheeler Shaw? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Writing well requires the selection of properly expressive words. There is an enormous difference between selecting ‘lightning bug’ versus ‘lightning’. Apparently, Mark Twain said something similar to this, but I was surprised to discover that Twain credited his friend Josh Billings with crafting the wordplay of this remark. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In the 1880s George Bainton contacted numerous successful authors requesting advice for beginning writers about effective work methods. Mark Twain sent a reply in 1888 that appeared in the resultant compilation titled “The Art of Authorship” in 1890.

Twain used the pronoun “he” while referring to himself as a neophyte author within his description of the writing process. Twain stated that he preferred short sentences: 1

Unconsciously he accustoms himself to writing short sentences as a rule. At times he may indulge himself with a long one, but he will make sure that there are no folds in it, no vaguenesses, no parenthetical interruptions of its view as a whole.

Twain presented a vividly comical contrast while discussing word selection. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

Well, also he will notice in the course of time, as his reading goes on, that the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.

Yet, Twain willingly acknowledged that a comparable joke had been made by his friend and fellow humorist Josh Billings (pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw) a couple decades earlier.

In 1869 several U.S. newspapers published a collection of sayings from Billings which included the following four items. Billings employed dialectical spelling: 3

The greater the man, the less his virteus appear, and the larger hiz faults.

The man who hain’t got an enemy, iz really poor.

Don’t mistake vivacity for wit, thare iz just az mutch difference az thare iz between lightning and a lightning bug.

No man ever yet undertook tew alter his natur by substituting sum invenshun ov his own, but what made a botch job ov it.

Here is Billings’ wordplay quip in standard spelling:

Don’t mistake vivacity for wit, there is just as much difference as there is between lightning and a lightning bug.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Difference Between the Almost Right Word and the Right Word Is Really a Large Matter—’Tis the Difference Between the Lightning Bug and the Lightning

Notes:

  1. 1890, The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners, Compiled and edited by George Bainton, Section: Mark Twain, Start Page 85, Quote Page 87, D. Appleton and Company, New York. (Internet Archive at archive.org) link
  2. 1890, The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners, Compiled and edited by George Bainton, Section: Mark Twain, Start Page 85, Quote Page 87 and 88, D. Appleton and Company, New York. (Internet Archive at archive.org) link
  3. 1869 October 12, Daily Evening Herald, The Josh Billings Papers, Quote Page 4, Column 1, Stockton, California. (Newspapers_com)

When the Chess Game Is Over, the King and the Pawn Go Back in the Same Box

Italian Proverb? John Boys? Thomas Adams? John Spencer? Thomas-Simon Gueullette? Omar Khayyam? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Some people live lives of opulence and celebrity while others remain mired in poverty and anonymity. On a chessboard there is a king and a queen, but there are also eight lowly pawns. A metaphorical adage highlights the uniform fate of all chess pieces and humans:

At the end of the game the king and the pawn go into the same box.

Chess pieces undergo a form of reincarnation when a new match begins. Humans may experience reincarnation, oblivion, judgment day, hades, paradise or some other continuation. Would you please help me to find a citation for the adage above?

Quote Investigator: The earliest published match located by QI occurred in a 1629 collection of writings by John Boys who was the Dean of Canterbury in England. The non-standard spelling in the following passage is from the original text. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1

As in Chesse-play, so long as the game is in playing, all the men stand in their order, and are respected according to their place; first, the King; then, the Queene; then, the Bishops; after them, the Knights; and last of all, the common Souldier: but when once the game is ended, and the table taken away, then all are confusedly tumbled into a bag, and happily the King is lowest, and the pawne vpmost. Euen so is it with vs in this life; the world is a huge theater or stage, wherein some play the parts of Kings; other, of Bishops; some, Lords; many, Knights; other, Yeomen: but when our Lord shall come with his Angels to iudge the world; all are alike.

Further below an interesting precursor verse from Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is presented. The translation into English appeared in the 19th century, but the source material may have been circulating in the 11th century. The complete provenance of the verse is uncertain.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading When the Chess Game Is Over, the King and the Pawn Go Back in the Same Box

Notes:

  1. 1629, Title: The Workes of Iohn Boys: Doctor in Diuinitie and Deane of Canterburie, Author: John Boys (1571-1625), Section: The first Sunday after the Epiphanie, Quote Page 129, Imprinted for W. Ashley, London (HathiTrust Full View) link

What’s Outside the Simulation?

Elon Musk? Lex Fridman? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A longstanding philosophical hypothesis suggests that our experiences are simply an illusion or a dream. A modern technological version of this hypothesis suggests that our experiences are part of a computer simulation. Anyone who has worn a virtual reality headset has felt the sensation of being immersed in a computer simulation.

Technologist are aware of the exponential advances in the speed and capaciousness of computing systems. The number and quality of simulations that can be performed with these systems has been growing rapidly.

Prominent entrepreneur Elon Musk launched the innovative companies Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink. Musk believes that the simulation hypothesis should be taken seriously. Apparently, Musk once provocatively asked “What’s outside the simulation?” Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In April 2019 an interview of Elon Musk conducted by Lex Fridman was uploaded to the YouTube website. Fridman is a teacher and research scientist in artificial intelligence (AI) who works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The pair discussed a variety of topics including the possibility of artificial general intelligence (AGI). An AGI system would be capable of exploring and mastering all the intellectual tasks that a human can explore and master. The pair also discussed the simulation hypothesis. The following exchange occurred near the end of the interview: 1

Lex Fridman: So when, maybe you, or somebody else creates an AGI system, and you get to ask her one question, what would that question be?

(Long pause)

Elon Musk: What’s outside the simulation?

In conclusion, Elon Musk did indicate that he (or humanity) might be inside a simulation. He believes that a future advanced AI system might be assigned the topic of determining what is outside the simulation.

Image Notes: Picture of a person riding a bicycle while wearing a virtual reality or augmented reality headset. Picture from the Pexels account at Pixabay.

Notes:

  1. YouTube video, Title: Elon Musk: Tesla Autopilot | Artificial Intelligence (AI) Podcast, Uploaded on Apr 12, 2019, Uploaded by Lex Fridman, (Quotation starts at 31 minute 57 seconds of 32 minutes 44 seconds), Description: Interview of Elon Musk who is the leader of Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink. Interview conducted by Lex Fridman of M.I.T. (Accessed on youtube.com on August 28, 2019) link

All Parents Are Environmentalists Until They Have Their Second Child

Marvin Zuckerman? Kelvin L. Seifert? David T. Lykken? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A child’s development is influenced by both nature and nurture, but there are deep disagreements about the relative importance of these two influences. In addition, there are different viewpoints concerning the interactions of nature and nurture. Consider the following saying:

The parents of one child believe in “nurture”, and the parents of two or more children believe in “nature”.

When parents have one child it is easy for them to postulate that their actions are precisely guiding the development of their child. However, this belief is challenged when a second child is born, and the same actions yield sharply divergent results. Would you please help me to trace this saying?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in a scientific journal in 1987. To understand this match one must be aware of the different meanings of the word “environmentalist”. The word typically describes a person who wishes to protect the ecology of biomes. But in this article it refers to a person who believes that human development is predominantly shaped by environmental factors such as parenting style, surroundings, and experiences. The effects of heredity are minimized.

University of Delaware psychologist Marvin Zuckerman published a piece in the journal “Behavioral and Brain Sciences” with a title matching the remark under exploration. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

All parents are environmentalists until they have their second child

Zuckerman’s article began with the following sentences:

What is it that happens to parents after they have their second child that shakes their belief in the tabula rasa? With an n of one, parents can assume that all of their child’s positive traits are due to their enlightened methods of child rearing (negative traits being assigned to a genetic influence from other relatives). Then they use the same methods with the second child, who turns out to be so different from the first that they have to question their premises.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading All Parents Are Environmentalists Until They Have Their Second Child

Notes:

  1. 1987 March, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 10, Issue 1, All parents are environmentalists until they have their second child by Marvin Zuckerman (Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware), Start Page 42, Quote Page 42, (Response article to: Why are children in the same family so different from one another? by Robert Plomin and Denise Daniels), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. (Accessed via cambridge.org May 21, 2019) link

What Can Be More Palpably Absurd Than the Prospect Held Out of Locomotives Traveling Twice as Fast as Stagecoaches?

The Quarterly Review? Samuel Shaen? Wyndham Harding? Samuel Smiles? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: While reading a humorous book containing a collection of terribly inaccurate predictions I encountered the following:

What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?

The book asserted that this claim was made in 1825, but I have not been able to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: This statement was derived from a long passage in an 1825 article about “Canals and Rail-Roads” in “The Quarterly Review” of London. The unnamed author of the article was very skeptical about the claims being made for passenger travel via locomotives. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

The gross exaggerations of the powers of the locomotive steam-engine, or, to speak in plain English, the steam-carriage, may delude for a time, but must end in the mortification of those concerned. What, for instance, can be more palpably absurd and ridiculous, than the following paragraph in one of the published proposals of what we should call a hopeless project?

The above passage introduced an excerpt from a report that proposed the construction of a railway between London and Woolwich. The report included a remark about the speed of locomotives on the proposed route:

The number of short coaches running upon this line is 150 per diem. Admitting on the average that these coaches are only half filled, their receipts for passengers alone will be 26,000 a year. As locomotive machines, moving with twice the velocity, and with greater safety, must in a very great degree supersede the coaches, the company will probably obtain from passengers alone, independently of the baggage, an income of £20,000 . . .

The statement under analysis was created via the compression of the text above. Specifically, the two sections shown in boldface were condensed and highlighted. The construction occurred through a multistep process suggested by the citations given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading What Can Be More Palpably Absurd Than the Prospect Held Out of Locomotives Traveling Twice as Fast as Stagecoaches?

Notes:

  1. 1825, The Quarterly Review, Volume 31, Number 62, Article V: Canals and Rail-Roads, Start Page 349, Quote Page 361, John Murray, London. (Google Books Full View) link

Create the Highest, Grandest Vision Possible for Your Life Because You Become What You Believe

Oprah Winfrey? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Famous talk show host and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey has suggested that you should have grand visions because you become what you believe. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Oprah Winfrey delivered the commencement address at Wellesley College in Massachusetts on May 30, 1997. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe. When I was little girl, Mississippi, growing up on the farm, only Buckwheat as a role model, watching my grandmother boil clothes in a big, iron pot through the screen door, because we didn’t have a washing machine and made everything we had. I watched her and realized somehow inside myself, in the spirit of myself, that although this was segregated Mississippi and I was “colored” and female, that my life could be bigger, greater than what I saw.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Create the Highest, Grandest Vision Possible for Your Life Because You Become What You Believe

Notes:

  1. Website: Wellesley College, Article title: Oprah Winfrey’s Commencement Address, Article author: Oprah Winfrey, Date on website: May 30, 1997, Website description: Information about Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. (Accessed wellesley.edu on August 25, 2019) link

Believe That Life Is Worth Living, and Your Belief Will Help Create the Fact

William James? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The U.S. philosopher and psychologist William James argued that one should believe that life is worth living because that belief would catalyze its own truth. Would you please help me to find the essay he wrote expressing this idea?

Quote Investigator: In May 1895 William James delivered a speech on the theme “Is Life Worth Living?” to the Young Men’s Christian Association of Harvard University. Afterwards he presented the same address to the Philadelphia Ethical Society and to the Plymouth School of Applied Ethics. He published the speech in the “International Journal of Ethics” in October 1895. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1

These, then, are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. The “scientific proof ” that you are right may not be clear before the day of judgment (or some stage of Being which that expression may serve to symbolize) is reached.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Believe That Life Is Worth Living, and Your Belief Will Help Create the Fact

Notes:

  1. 1895 October, International Journal of Ethics, Volume 6, Number 1, Is Life Worth Living? by William James, Start Page 1, Quote Page 24, Published by International Journal of Ethics, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (JSTOR) link

Useful Idiot

Vladimir Lenin? Joseph Stalin? Bogdan Raditsa? Ludwig Von Mises? Mario Scelba? Edward Derwinski? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Historically, the term “useful idiot” has referred to a naive or unwitting ally of a ruthless political movement especially a communist movement. Supposedly, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin used this expression contemptuously of non-communists who aligned themselves with their political positions. Yet, I am skeptical of these ascriptions because I have not seen any good citations. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: A significant precursor appeared in an article titled “Yugoslavia’s Tragic Lesson to the World” by Bogdan Raditsa published in “The Reader’s Digest” of October 1946. Raditsa joined the Yugoslav government of communist Josip Broz Tito, and by 1945 he had become the chief of the foreign press section of the Ministry of Information. As the communists consolidated their power in Yugoslavia, Raditsa became disillusioned. He watched as individuals he respected were being arrested, imprisoned, and executed. He believed that his decision to join the government of Tito had been naive and misguided. The communists employed a sardonic label that prompted the shudder of self-recognition. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

In the Serbo-Croat language the communists have a phrase for true democrats who consent to collaborate with them for “democracy.” It is Koristne Budale, or Useful Innocents.

Raditsa rendered this crucial phrase as “Useful Innocents”, but a more direct translation of “Koristne Budale” into English yields “Useful Fools”.

Raditsa asserted that the recently held elections in the country were not genuinely democratic: 2

Some “Useful Innocents” in the onlooking democratic world were impressed by these elections. They can learn their true nature from General Rankovich of OZNA. Addressing the elected National Assembly of Yugoslavia on March 24 of this year, he said:

“Those who oppose the policy of the present regime cannot possibly put themselves into power through free elections. They cannot participate in the government. And they cannot even exist as a tolerated opposition.”

The conclusion of Raditsa’s piece included another use of the phrase: 3

Be careful about people whose vocabulary is yours but whose record wherever they hold power is your destruction. Do not be Koristne Budale. Do not be “Useful Innocents.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Useful Idiot

Notes:

  1. 1946 October, The Reader’s Digest, Volume 49, Yugoslavia’s Tragic Lesson to the World by Bogdan Raditsa (Condensed from a forthcoming book), Start Page 138, Quote Page 138, The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1946 October, The Reader’s Digest, Volume 49, Yugoslavia’s Tragic Lesson to the World by Bogdan Raditsa (Condensed from a forthcoming book), Start Page 138, Quote Page 144, The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified on paper)
  3. 1946 October, The Reader’s Digest, Volume 49, Yugoslavia’s Tragic Lesson to the World by Bogdan Raditsa (Condensed from a forthcoming book), Start Page 138, Quote Page 150, The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified on paper)

If We Could Read the Secret History of Our Enemies, We Should Find in Each Man’s Life Sorrow and Suffering Enough To Disarm All Hostility

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? Ann Landers? Mary A. McIver? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Feeling empathy for an adversary is difficult to achieve when one’s mind is filled with indignation. The following intriguing statement claims that comprehensive knowledge of the past of one’s foe would yield a startling insight:

If we could read the secret history of those we would like to punish, we would find in each life enough grief and suffering to make us stop wishing anything more on them.

Apparently, the famous U.S. poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or the advice columnist Ann Landers said something like this. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1857 the two volume collection titled “Prose Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow” appeared. The second volume included a section called “Table-Talk” listing bright remarks spoken by Longfellow. Here is a sampling of three items. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Every great poem is in itself limited by necessity,—but in its suggestions unlimited and infinite.

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

As turning the logs will make a dull fire burn, so change of studies a dull brain.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If We Could Read the Secret History of Our Enemies, We Should Find in Each Man’s Life Sorrow and Suffering Enough To Disarm All Hostility

Notes:

  1. 1857, Prose Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Volume 1 of 2, Chapter: Drift Wood: A Collection of Essays, Section: Table-Talk, Quote Page 452, Ticknor and Fields, Boston, Massachusetts. (HathiTrust Full View) link