Oxymorons by Steven Carter

A truncated and dialectical form of the aphorism proper, kind of like the crushed cube a car becomes after it has been compressed in a junkyard, the oxymoron retains the paradox and provocation of the longer saying. Steven Carter (see his parables here; a posting about his aphorisms was lost in a catastrophic failure of the site a while back…) offers plenty of oxymorons to ogle in Little House of Oxymorons, which he describes as “a supplement to The New Devil’s Dictionary, a two-volume ‘sequel’ to Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary of a century ago”:

Scheduled departure: Get to the airport early. Right, so that your wait won’t exceed more than three-and-a-half hours.

Online learning: Online learning is to learning what phone sex is to sex.

Scheduled arrival: See “Scheduled Departure.”

Figuratively speaking: Literally speaking! “It’s literally raining cats and dogs,” exclaims a local weatherman.

Free will: Ambrose Bierce—Free will, O mortals, is a dream / Ye all are chips upon a stream.

Conventional wisdom: True wisdom is unconventional, to say the least, ever and always.

Considered opinion: Opinion.

Reality programming: Contemporary TV offerings, as tedious and stupid as they are highly orchestrated and edited.

Parkway: George Carlin—“Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?”

On Edges

The center, we are told, should be our goal, both our starting point and our destination. But the fringes are far more interesting. It is here, on the periphery, where friction produces its most startling effects. It is here where everything rubs together, where boundaries blur, merge, become extended. Consider. From the tips of our tongues to the soles of our feet, we are all edges. The slightest touch sets off tremors, which ripple out in ever widening orbits—reminders that the universe does not revolve around us; we have to go out to meet it.

A version of this abbreviated essay appears in the May issue of Ode.

Financial Aphorisms via Doug Rice

Tax preparation season has now passed, and surely we mourn that it is gone, but the trauma of this time put me in mind of financial aphorisms, spurred mostly by coming across the following quote from an auditor for the Inland Revenue, the U.K. tax authority: “The trick is to stop thinking of it as ‘your’ money.” Truer words were never spoken. Right on cue, Doug Rice, a financial planner in the San Francisco Bay Area, sent me his own compilation of pecuniary apophthegms, which he has compiled into Quipped Quotes: Reflections on Conventional Wisdom, a little book he distributes to friends and clients. The book is made up of a financial aphorism followed by a brief meditation by Doug on what the saying means for our practical financial lives. A selection follows, beginning with some of Doug’s own quotable quips…

To show the courage of your convictions requires you to have convictions in the first place. —Doug Rice

If your checkbook balances, chances are so does your life. —Doug Rice

We all know how the size of sums of money appears to vary in a remarkable way according as they are being paid in or paid out. —Julian Huxley

Creditors have better memories than debtors. —Benjamin Franklin

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it. —Bob Hope

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income. —Errol Flynn

When prosperity comes, do not use all of it. —Confucius

My idea of a group decision is to look in the mirror. —Warren Buffett

The public is right during the trend but wrong at both ends. —Humphrey Neill

When a person with experience meets a person with money, the person with experience will get the money. And the person with money will get some experience. —Leonard Lauder

Things refuse to be mismanaged long. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it—even if I have said it—unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. —Budhha