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Who's who. Say what?



Today's email brought, among other things, a message with this subject line:

You've Been Accepted by Global Who's Who U

I immediately chortled. Sometimes I don't even know what's what, so surely, I'm not who's who material. For kicks, though, I opened the message, which began with a surprisingly informal salutation:

Hi

That's how I expect email from my students to begin, although some of them carry the informality a little too far when they begin their messages with "Hey Vecchio." I used to growl at them, "You don't know me well enough to call me by just my last name," but that's just the way many of them talk. When I reply, I call them by just their last names; they don't even notice.

Many of my colleagues in the academy would do a lot of har-RUMPH kaf-kaff-ing about being called by their last names. They'd say students are being disrespectful. I think professors have other, more pressing matters to deal with. But I'm off track. Back to the message informing me I've been accepted—even though I've never applied—to Global Who Are You Who's Who:

It is my pleasure to inform you that you qualify for 2014 membership to the Who's Who Network of Executives and Professionals, the largest professional association for business executives and professionals in the United States! (Note the exclamation point! Wow! What a Terrific Organization This Must Be!)

The invite continues, The Who's Who Network highlights and profiles the country's most accomplished individuals in over 200 industries and professions. We provide an exclusive and powerful networking forum for our members to communicate and successfully achieve social and career development.

After I stopped snickering, I realized this might be something I can use in a performance review. "Look," I could tell my dean, "I am one of the country's most accomplished individuals in over 200 industries and professions."

Seriously, I immediately thought of the quotation attributed to Groucho Marx: "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." Actually, there's no consensus about what Groucho said exactly, but I look at it from a similar point of view: that any club that invites me to join it has got to be pretty damned desperate for members.

Something tells me that's what my dean would say during that performance review.

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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