Ark/amateurs, Titanic/professionals (from Factiva) (1979);Spoiler

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Jul 18 02:42:32 UTC 2004

Every week this happens. You work all week. Then it's Saturday, and you try to sleep late. Then you walk over to the New York Public Library, where David Shulman has more poems to read to you. Then you walk to NYU to get some work done, and Pro Quest tells you it's down until tomorrow for maintenance.


More on this phrase, if it floats your boat. Is it Canadian? British?

When Canadians feel tired, they go away for a holiday, from which ...
Richard J. Needham
828 words
13 June 1979
The Globe and Mail
All material copyright Thomson Canada Limited or its licensors. All rights reserved.

When Canadians feel tired, they go away for a holiday, from which they return totally exhausted. -30

G. M. Trevelyan: Socrates gave no diplomas or degrees, and would have subjected any disciple who demanded one to a disconcerting catechism on the nature of true knowledge.

Alberta took the gas and oil out of the ground and has a Heritage Fund of $5-billion to show for it. Ontario took the metal out of the ground and has billion-dollar deficits to show for it. -30

It started with the notion, Carefully cultivated by the "educators", that you need a diploma or degree to get a good job. This notion then linked hands with the notion, carefully cultivated by the politicians, that every body has the right to a good job. A third notion logically followed - that everybody, regardless of intelligence or achievement, has the right to be given a diploma or degree. The end of the process, now well in sight, is that all have diplomas, all have degrees, and all are illiterate. John Robert Colombo had a collection of Parkinson-style laws in this paper the other day, and was kind enough to include three that I dreamed up. By way of thanks, I'll print a few such laws that I ran across recently; I've sent their various origins to Mr. Colombo in case he wants to bird-dog them down. Any time you don't want anything, you get it. A lost article invariably shows up after you replace it. Don't talk unless you can improve the silence. The other line moves faster. If there isn't a law, there will be. Insanity is hereditary - you can get it from your children. If you aren't confused, you're badly informed. If there's a harder way of doing something, someone will find it. The Titanic was built by professionals, the Ark by amateurs. If you find something you like, buy a lifetime supply; they're going to stop making it. -30

Richard Needham - The witty MP who was too relaxed.
By Tim Rayment
777 words
11 November 1990
The Sunday Times
(c) 1990 Times Newspapers Ltd Not Available for Re-dissemination.

If any minister were to term his leader a cow as he spoke on an insecure telephone, it was likely to be Richard Needham. He is one of Westminster's most popular and relaxed MPs, a "wet" whose frivolity probably delayed his appointment to the government.

Two words are always attached to him. "Modest" because he is a peer who chooses not to use his Irish title, the sixth Earl of Kilmorey. "Knickers" because that is his nickname, from a period spent working on an underwear counter in Marks and Spencer.

He was given the job of under-secretary at the Northern Ireland Office in 1985, and has never moved. His contemporaries, such as Chris Patten, John Patten and William Waldegrave, found their positions faster, but an easy-going exterior is thought to have held Needham back.

If you speak to his colleagues, their first remarks are of wit. He makes people laugh. In Northern Ireland he is the government minister who is genuinely funny when he visits. At Westminster he is funny in debate.

His words seconding the Queen's Speech in 1984, which he used to urge more help for the young unemployed "the Ark was built by amateurs, but professionals built the Titanic" are still remembered. So is his book Honourable Member, a source work for parliamentary gossips.

SPOILER (continued; no follow-up?)

Magazine Desk; SECT6


By William Safire
1,000 words
6 June 2004
The New York Times
Late Edition - Final
(c) 2004 New York Times Company
Political etymologists need help. Earliest use I can find -- though not quite in the sought-after sense of ''vote splitter'' -- is by The Times's Anthony Lewis in 1959, who recounted a legislative maneuver of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson to outfox Democratic liberals: ''The Senator from Texas obviously enjoyed the role of spoiler hugely.''

Before that, who? Theodore Roosevelt? As an independent, he outpolled his fellow Republican, President William Howard Taft, making possible the Democrat Woodrow Wilson's victory in 1912. Send citations (the real thing, not a vague recollection like mine) to onlanguage at and win lexicographical fame without fortune.

("Offer not valid for Barry Popik"--ed.)

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