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(possibly) made-up proverbs for interesting times

Reading this post over at Jeremy's weblog I found myself nodding profusely, and then I noted he was pointing to this page that talks about the famous (for me and many others at least) Chinese curse (or proverb) "may you live in interesting times". It is possible that it's not a Chinese proverb at all. (Here is some more information).

As it happens, testerday I was thinking about the various tidbits of "knowledge" that I have stored up in my head and that I can't trace a source for (example: "Whales can use an ultra-low frequency signal that has world-wide reach, but by now it's likely that the interference caused by ships all around the world precludes them from doing so"). First I wondered about the social mechanisms that allow these memes (whether true, partially-true, or false) to spread and take hold (e.g., do they adjust to widely shared preconceptions?). Then what I was trying to do was assign them to some sort of "unchecked" mental category that would later imply a proper reference lookup before using them (or whenever I felt like it).

Of course, right after thinking about that, I remembered the following piece of dialogue from Annie Hall between Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and Annie Hall (Diane Keaton):

Alvy: I've got to see a picture exactly from the start to the finish, 'cause ... 'cause I'm anal.
Annie: Ha! That's a polite word for what you are.

Now it seems I should add "may you live in interesting times" to that list as well.

Ain't that something.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 25 2004 at 3:17 PM

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