Misattribution: To All That Misquote & Just Get Shit Wrong

I just saw the mini post it notes today on ThinkGeek (https://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/supplies/ba1d/). I wish I had thought of a few of those sayings. Oh wait! I did…

An old CDT friend loved these so much he stuck them on his walls.

In the 1990s after I got my first laser printer in college and few boxes of sticker paper from a printing company, a friend and I made stickers all the time. We perfected a simple technique of using clear coat to seal the toner to the semi-gloss sticker paper, which made the stickers suitable for outdoor use. (The toner would lift off the paper after a spray application via aerosol can and bond with the clear coat when it set. Essentially it become as tough as acrylic clear coat—if not tougher.)

One set was of bumper sticker sized sticks that read, “FUCK THIS” and “FUCK THAT.” Is there any chance one of ThinkGeek’s employees saw one in San Francisco in the mid-90s and got the inspiration there? We joked around that we should sell them. Looks like someone figured that one out. Whether or not, that was the impetus, I would be very interested to find out. If our stickers were the source, then it would be cool to list that, as a thanks.

Sure a generic explicative is not incredibly inventive, but sticking one with text large enough to be seen on a “NO LEFT TURN” sign by passing motorists is comedic genius! (As well as “No Parking between x and x” or any sign telling you what you can and cannot do.) Or so we thought. Luckily, the statute of limitations has long since passed on this minor form of what would be labelled vandalism, but we considered art and protected as free speech so long as no property was damaged. So, I can now talk about it. It was proto-nanny-state commentary. The future belonged to the new ways to have freedom of suppression. Silent Weapons for Silent Wars as David Thrussell wrote.

What we now understand as computerized warfare. That is where those ideas that became little stickers was based. Young, political speech in the guise of what would now be called guerrilla marketing. If anyone went to college as State or near Stonestown back then, perhaps you saw our handiwork. The sticker on the left turn sign up Portola lasted until they replaced the sign—at least 10-15 years. Not bad for a few guys with a printer, paper and a can of clear coat.

Dear Timmy of ThinkGeek, don’t worry, if you admit those stickers as the creative source in any response, I hereby release any prior claims for copyright or intellectual property, so your lawyers do not have to worry about some frivolous lawsuit. I would just like to see credit where it is due. If it is a happy coincidence, great, I would probably get along with whomever came up with that set. In fact you guys might want to see a few other stickers we made as a source for “the creative geek” products.

This has happened before though:

Update: someone informed me that the following is incorrect! Apparently Harlan Ellison did in fact write this in the 60s, before I was even born. OOPS! I looked for the citation when I wrong this and could not find which essay it is in, so if you know, please link it to me! I really want to read it. I am keeping the below because, even though I am wrong it will serve as a reminder to me that I can be wrong, even when I thought I was so right. Hopefully, I won’t suffer from foot-in-mouth disease very often. On with the inaccurate rant:

My much misattributed phrase “The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” has been misattributed to Harlan Ellison and Einstein. I tried to tell a guy running a quote site, but he got defensive, with an unprofessional toned email basically saying, “prove it.” I told him I wasn’t invested in this battle, but that I thought that a quote site would like to have its quotes properly attributed. I also wrote that he should do a UUNet search on alt.cyberpunk for my alias in the early 90s and read my signature. But he thought I was trying to take credit for memorable quote. I can prove it is a misquote, because there is a joke hidden within that quote. Hydrogen ions are not stable, so they usually combine with other free ions and form helium. Therefore Helium is actually more common in the universe. Einstein would probably have known that, I presume, and Harlan Ellison would do a Dodge commercial about He-forward, and futuristic isotopes, I figure. So, the joke is that even that quote has stupidity embedded within it. You can’t escape it thus…

Here’s another one I will have to claim or else have it misattributed: “There’s no defense against stupid.” Also, “Everyone is an idiot sometimes.” is one I recently gave to another site. My “Hey you kids get off my digital lawn.” Was coined in relation to my lecturing internewbs about netiquette. I am essentially an old guy on the internet telling stories about “When I was a kid, we had to store our programs on a mini-cassette tape! It was badass to be able to do that in 1977. And we liked it like that!” (to rip off Dana Carvey’s SNL character {was it him?}) I am also attempting an imitation of the SNL character “Middle-aged Man” but with a technical spin such as “He knows how to use a hex editor to retrieve a file from a corrupted” but being able to reduce that into a catchy jingle. With a “Check your facts before you repost!” motto or something. Dunno—I haven’t thought too much on this.

I think the Feliminati Conspiracy Theory Parody has much more promising punchline. An excerpt from a quick half brain storm—half treatment page I quickly wrote last year: “Think about it, all the modern conveniences of man and society are to aid an abed cats is their quest for comfort, warmth with minimal actual effort! For instance, consider the laptop: why is the battery and logic board under the keyboard? Well what better than a comfy heated bed with a night light! Think like a cat and where man was before Egypt and the “domestication” of the cat and where we are now! I think the cats saw this creature with opposable thumbs, had a meeting and said in was to become known as the first great Feliminati secret convention, ‘let the monkeys down from the trees all the time. Instead of eating them we will teach them to gather our food as they do with wolves already, so we won’t have to evolve our own thumbs! We will never have to move off our beds again!’ ‘but brother, we will still have to get up to find somewhere to bury our poop!’ ‘we must think on that. There must be a way to trick them into letting us go where we want and have them happily clean it up!’…”

Anyway, I told this to a woman hosting an event and she missed the part where I said “Conspiracy Theory Parody.” After about a minute of my shtick about cats secretly ruling and guiding humanity to develop the indoors  with windowsills just wide enough for them to lounge in the sun, etc. she had to be whispered to, “He’s joking.” Up until that utterance, she was seriously thinking I was completely bat shit crazy. (Douglas Adams being either fooled or coerced into crediting mice by the way. I’m on to you kittehs! Your cuteness will not encourage me to develop a better mouse trap, nor a faster internet connection so you can ‘feel teh microwaves.’ )

Anyway, silliness aside…I am not entirely cynical. I also think a good phrase to adopt and take to heart would be: “Encourage Healthy Curiosity.” So many people squash their kids curiosity that we are left with shells or people, staring blankly into screens and taking all that is displayed as gospel. Perfect to hide behind the old axiom: “Curiosity killed the cat!” No it didn’t, he’s hanging with Elvis! Hell, I could probably do what Hubbard did and start a religion dedicated to the idea that the god-aliens are here and they are in the guise of cute kittens! Look how we worship them on teh interwebz so, people are so bad at distinguishing fact from fiction.

Oh look a kitteh viddeh! Gotta go—“Stay curios my friend!”


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