More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Appreciating the gray

For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to appreciate something that has bothered me for a long time — getting older.

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Commerce or art?

As I prepare Amiga to publish independently, I’ve been watching videos and reading articles to learn the best way to make a book marketable. At the same time, I’m crafting Amiga into a work I can be proud of. It’s my expression of the history of the computer industry and how I see the world today. How do I make Amiga marketable and creative? Is writing commerce or art?

Or can it be both?

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Spare us your “thoughts and prayers”

Photo By: Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals, Image from Wikimedia CommonsThe phrase “thoughts and prayers” should be permanently struck from our vocabulary. Any sincere sympathy it once had has been soiled by cynical politicians and others who have no intention to help.

“Thoughts and prayers” is less than the least thing anyone can do. A thought? What kind of thought? “Thank God it wasn’t me!” “I hope it doesn’t cost me reelection.” And prayer? You want to pass off your responsibility to God? Doesn’t the Bible say “faith without works is dead?”

“Thoughts and prayers” has become something people utter when they know they’re supposed to feel bad, but they don’t really give a damn.

If you’re one of those people, spare us your “thoughts and prayers,” as well as “God has a plan” and “they are in the better place.” Don’t say anything at all. Get out of the way and let those of us who actually do care go out and do something.

Wisecracks that played Carnegie Hall

Cover from a book of epigramsMy granddaughter found this old book of epigrams that I bought in junior high school. I got it at a time when I started seeing myself as smart. Being able to pull quotes from smart people made me feel smarter. I loved epigrams because they are, as Oscar Levant put it, wisecracks that played at Carnegie Hall.

But I learned more from epigrams than how to sound smart. They taught me how to make my points succinctly and with a dash of humor. I also learned the hard way that a quote from a famous person doesn’t prove a point. Just because Oscar Wilde said something witty, it doesn’t make your position valid. You have to build your argument, but the right epigram can help drive the point home.

Here are some of my favorite epigrams from the book and what I learned from them.

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Taking no for an answer

It was a special day for my son. After over a year of hard work and saving, he bought his own car. It was the model he wanted with the features he needed at a reasonable price that he could afford. But one thing marred the day and could have caused the deal to fall through.

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