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The old saying “a penny for your thoughts” is, by current standards, too expensive. We are living in a era where seemingly everyone is “on the record” about…everything. We blog, vlog, tweet and post about whatever thought enters our head. In the opinion of some, we’ve gone a little too far in sharing our pontifications. The old adage about remaining silent and letting people think you’re a fool rather than opening your mouth and removing all doubt comes to mind.

However, history is replete with plenty of examples of those who went “on the record” only to have circumstances prove that they weren’t quite as prophetic as they would have had us believe. Famously, British Prime Minister Neville Chamblerlain, upon returning from a conference with Adolf Hitler, stood in front of #10 Downing Street and spoke the phrase, “I believe it is peace in our time.” We all know how that one turned out.

Less ominous predictions include the former employer of Elvis Presley who advised the “King of Rock ’n’ Roll” to sell his guitar and keep driving a truck because he would never make it in the world of professional music. Maybe that’s to be expected in the world of rock ’n’ roll. The story goes that a Decca Records executive once said to the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, following an audition in 1962, “We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out. Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.”

Then there was Margaret Thatcher who, in 1969, said, “It will be years, not in my time, before a woman becomes Prime Minister.” In 1859, a famous author wrote of his latest work, “I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone.” The writer was Charles Darwin. Even Time magazine ventured into the world of poor prognostication when that magazine wrote, “Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop.” Can you say Amazon or E-Bay?

The list goes on and on. “Rock ’n’ roll is dead.” “We can close the books on infectious diseases.” “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” “The Cinema is little more than a fad.” And the oft repeated, “640K is more memory than anyone will ever need,” which, in fairness to Bill Gates, many believe he did not actually say.

What does all this loose talk have to do with Atlanta you might ask. Good question and, in true Stories of Atlanta fashion, the answer is the subject of this week’s story.

Lance Russell is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and media communicator who, for over three decades, has been entrusted by clients to tell their stories. A seasoned producer with an innate ability to cut to...

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  1. Ted Turner’s underwriting of Centennial and the tale of America’s westward expansion, IMHO, is brilliantly emblematic of why someone like Stephen H. Long, could not clearly discern why mixing the trades of the village ‘smitt(h)y, an ale purveyor,  and a grocer, in a seemingly inauspicious “spot, ” could lead to the metropolis we, today,  call Atlanta.

  2. Don’t overlook the classic: “everything possible has already been invented. We should have no further need for the Patent Office”.  Don’t recall the name or the year but it was long ago and the speaker was head of the Patent Office.

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