Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘Gettysburg Times’

Freegan

Posted by Elyse Bruce on March 3, 2015

The word freegan has been popping up in news stories more and more often of late.  What is a freegan?  A freegan is an activist who scavenges for free food to reduce consumption of resources.  Rather than buy food in a traditional grocery store or restaurant, a freegan consumes food that other people, stores, and organizations throw away.

But freeganism goes beyond just foraging for food in dumpsters.   Freegans embrace scavenging, volunteering, and squatting over buying, working, and renting, with a primary focus of living entirely off the grid (an impossibility, however, that is the ultimate goal).

Many freegans look at their lifestyle as a way to reduce the need to be gainfully employed, and refer to employment in negative terms.  They oftentimes feel that the money based economy in which we live impacts negatively on the core economy of home and family.

The word freegan is a mash-up of two words:  free and vegan.

On August 9, 2014 the Lacrosse Tribune published an article by Allison Geyer about activist Rob Greenfield.  This activist went a year without showering in the traditional sense from April 21, 2013 through to April 20, 2014 as his way to promote water conservation awareness.  In 2012, he traveled to Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) on a one-way ticket and only took his passport, his cellphone, and the clothes on his back with him.  He hitchhiked back home to raise awareness that international travel is possible without money and possessions.

In 2014, the Ashland, Wisconsin native was biking from California to New York via a homemade bamboo-frame bike with only a tent, sleeping mat, some clothing, cellphone, computer, and solar charger for his bike lights to his name.  The article was entitled, “Free-Wheeling Freegan Bikes To Promote Sustainability.”

The word was used in a Gettysburg Times article by Bonnie Erbe on August 22, 2006.  Please note that The Post referred to is the Washington Post newspaper.

The Post reports on one 17-year-old who was “caught (by a store employee” dumpster diving, though he is neither homeless nor destitute.  He considers himself a ‘freegan‘ — a melding of the words ‘free’ and ‘vegan’ — meaning he tries not to contribute to what he sees as the exploitation of land, resources and animals wrought by commercial production.”

While the Merriam Webster Dictionary claims the word was first used in 2006, the word appeared in the Houston Press on November 25, 2004 in a news story entitled, “Free Lunch.”  The article, written by Keith Plocek, told the story of Patrick Lyons who grew up near Rice University, attended Lamar High School, and who (at the time) worked at the Menil Collection.

The journalist shared the freegan belief with readers:  Whenever a product is purchased, the purchaser contributes to the problem of consumerism.  To get around and avoid consumerism as much as possible, a freegan must be willing to dig around dumpsters for his or her meals.

The article included this paragraph as well:

Lyons is a freegan. He doesn’t want to contribute to consumer society, so he eats for free whenever possible. Sometimes that means digging through Dumpsters behind grocery stores.

What’s more, the article stated that the local chapter of freegans had been in Houston for ten years, and that the national movement had been in existence for twenty-four years.  This means that the word freegan existed as early as 1980.

No earlier published mention of freegan was found before 1980, and so Idiomation pegs this word to 1980 when the movement began.

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Token Indian

Posted by Elyse Bruce on February 3, 2015

If you hear someone talking about the token Indian in the group, it’s an offensive comment.  It means that there was need for at least one person to be included regardless of qualifications, and so someone was chosen to be that token person.  The reason for having a token person in a group is to give the appearance of being inclusive and to deflect any allegations of discrimination.  The bottom line, however, is that it’s extremely discriminatory and not inclusive in the least.

Father Theo’s Blog on WordPress on August 5, 2012 talked about the passage for Aboriginal professionals.  Theo Collins is a blogger, writer, educator, parent, musician, and historiographer living in British Columbia (Canada) and his blog focuses primarily on planet and climate change, Aboriginal issues, the blues, history, people and himself.  The entry that day was entitled, “I Was A Token Indian.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviewed “American Outlaw” in their newspaper edition of August 17, 2001.  Written by Post-Gazette Book Editor, Bob Hoover, the immediately took pity on the American Western which he felt had been assailed in the movie.

It’s not that he felt that the movie was terrible (because he didn’t feel that way about it at all) but rather that the movie showed no respect for the cowboy tradition of John Ford, John Wayne, and Sam Peckinpaugh movies.  The problem was, according to the reviewer, that the movie looked more like “The Sopranos” in spurs (yes, that’s what he wrote).

And, that’s really what this movie’s about — lookin’ good.  It’s got the Western outfits, the steam-engine trains, the dynamite blasts, the shirtless studs and the token Indian.  Some of the jokes are funny, too.

Sixteen years earlier (almost to the day), on July 6, 1985 the Gettysburg Times published a news story written by Marcia Dunn of the Associated Press about sculptor Michael Naranjo.  In 1967, he was drafted into the U.S. army and the following year, a grenade cost him his sight, a little finger, and the dexterity of his right hand when he and his squad were ambushed in a Vietnamese rice field.   The article was titled, “Blind Indian Sculptor Seeks The Impossible” and explained how Michael Naranjo sought the impossible.  The article read in part:

I don’t want to be just your token Indian, or your token veteran, or your token handicapped artist.  I just want to be a plain old, good artist … Foremost and first, I am a sculptor,” he said at the opening of a month-long exhibition of his work in Pittsburgh.

The Montreal Gazette edition of April 30, 1980 also spoken of token Indians when it ran an article about what the president of the Indian Association of Alberta, Joe Dion, had to say about setting up a national legislative body to negotiate with the Canadian federal government.

“Indians want to make their own laws, administer justice, control resources, and look after social services within Confederation,” Dion said.

He also suggested that Indians also be allocated a block of seats in Parliament, with members elected by Indian constituencies.  And the Senate should have more than the one “token Indian senator.”

The term token Indian can be found littered across newspapers, magazines, and books over the decades and it’s understood what’s meant by the term.  However, it was in a 1946 coin collector’s almanac compiled by Hans M.F. Schulman and Hans Holzer where Idiomation found mention of a 1795 half-cent Washington token Indian head coin.

History shows that the third president of the United States and founding father Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 – 4 July 1826) strongly encouraged commercial enterprises to extend credit to Indigenous peoples in America to create a debt situation that could only be satisfied by forcing Aboriginals to cede land to the U.S. government.  When an Indian did not have a debt, but rather, had a credit coming to him, he received a token since there was a shortage of coins in circulation during this era.

Three images were most often used to differentiate three tokens of differing values, and each had a pictorial that was recognized not only by settlers and colonials but by Native American Indians as well (a buffalo on the plains, a side-wheel steamer, and a warrior on horseback).  These tokens were meant to prove good faith trading and when accusations of unfairness by commercial enterprises surfaced, it was the Indian with the token or tokens who was named as proof that the commercial enterprise in question was fair to all, including Indians.

In other words, the Indian with the token became the known as the token Indian.

The practice dates back to the late 1700s when the U.S. government decided to involve itself in the Indian trade, hence the minting of tokens as well as half-cent token Indian coins that were put into circulation as real coinage.  Idiomation therefore pegs the idiom token Indian to the late 1700s.

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Water Under The Bridge

Posted by Elyse Bruce on July 24, 2013

Whenever you hear someone say it’s all water under the bridge, it’s just another way of saying that a problem or unpleasant situation has been addressed, and is best left in the past. Yes, whatever the problem was, it’s considered by everyone to be forgiven and, quite possibly, forgotten as well. So whenever you hear those words, you can be at peace knowing that whatever event you’re agonizing over is no longer an issue for all parties involved.

Back on May 12, 2011, The Libertines frontman, Carl Barat was quoted in the Glasgow, Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper as saying that a band reunion wasn’t in the cards for fans of the band. It had everything to do with the bad blood between Pete Doherty and himself. In the interview, he added:

We are all in very different places. Right now is not the time for The Libertines. I thought the water under the bridge was under the bridge, bug may it’s not. It’s a very hard thing. Every time we talk, it just brings it back up.

The expression was used in Vadim Bytensky’s book “Journey From St. Petersburg” published in 2007 by AuthorHouse. The book told the story of how the author returned to Russia in the 1990s, and witnessed how everything had changed since he had last seen it in 1975. At one point in the author’s story, he has this to say on page 128:

He spoke Russian with a Japanese accent. I played around with Japanese like a child playing with bricks. It was a most absorbing occupation, although unfortunately it lasted for only one year. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and my knowledge of Japanese has also evaporated — after all, who in Toronto needs a non-Japanese to translate from that language?

An uncomfortable situation in American history had to do with Watergate, and when the Gettysburg Times newspaper published a story entitled, “President Grilled By Press On Watergate; Will Not Resign; Would Get On With Business” back on August 23, 1973, it was obvious how uncomfortable the situation was. The story indicated that whenever the matter of Watergate cropped up, Richard Nixon deflected with comments that steered reporters in the direction of who the new Secretary of State and other such things. The story began with this paragraph:

Declaring that Watergate is “water under the bridge,” and giving explanations that conceded no personal negligence, Richard Nixon responded Wednesday for the first time in five months to direct questions about the scandal that has shaken his presidency.

Back on September 21, 1931 the Editorial of the Day in the Tuscaloosa News had everything to do with the Long no-cotton plan that was dead, as forecast in the Montgomery Advertiser 10 days earlier. There had been a number of opponents to the plan from Governor Long of Louisiana, and many Texans saw the plan as an attempt to boss Texans around. The editorial stated in part:

Had the Long plan been good, Long would have killed it in Texas. But all of this water under the bridge. The fact is that the no-cotton law of Louisiana will not be adopted by the other States, notwithstanding that on yesterday the Senate of the South Carolina Legislature voted to enact it. It is plainly unthinkable that the other cotton States should adopt the Louisiana law now that Texas, the greatest producing State, has rejected it.

The idiom has the same meaning as the older version known as water over the dam.

In fact, the New York Times published an article about the Mexican situation (as it was referred to at the time) on December 20, 1919. The issue of the cost of maintaining a border patrol of regular and National Guard troops to protect the Us border (at a cost of $1,000,000,000 since in the years since Madero had started Mexico on the revolutionary road back in 1911) was foremost in people’s minds. Among those interviewed was James S. Black, editor of the El Paso Times, who was quoted in the news story as saying:

But that is all water over the dam. What has been done cannot be undone, but the Administration might profit by the mistakes of the past. Mexico and Mexicans will respect American and their property once they are convinced the United States means business.

A few dictionaries claim that the expression water over the dam is American slang from the 1840s, however, Idiomation was unable to find any proof to support the claim.

However, because the expression was used in a published news article in 1919, it was obviously a common expression that was as easily understood in El Paso as in New York, and back dating it a generation, this pegs the expression to at least 1890. It’s possible that it goes back two generations, which would place it to sometime in the 1860s. But without proof, it’s difficult to guess that it goes back yet another generation (although it may very well go back to the 1840s).

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Bling

Posted by Elyse Bruce on April 8, 2013

Bling aka Roxanne “Roxy” Washington is a fictional character in the X-Men comic books published by Marvel Comics and first appeared in August 2005. Her superpower is having bone marrow that produces diamond shards which means she has exceptional durability. But where did the word bling come from in the first place, and who coined it?

According to an article in the Seattle Times on December 27, 2005 the term bloom was off the flower where the expression bling was concerned.  Journalist Robin Givhan of the Washington Post wrote:

The word “bling” has been overused by every two-bit jeweler selling cubic zirconium. It has been worn out by virtually all fashion publicists — who for the past five months have been chirping, “Bling The New Year!” — and by every morning TV host trying to make the umpteenth holiday shopping segment sound fun and nifty.

She went on to write:

It used to be that “bling” was reserved for jewelry, decorative wheel rims or gold teeth — all of it excessively flashing and extraordinarily expensive. It was a terrific term because it had the quality of a sound effect.

In January of 2005, the Guardian newspaper took on the subject of noticeable jewelry being worn more and more often by celebrities in an article entitled, “How Bling-Bling Took Over The Ring.” The teaser with the article enticed people to read more about the bling being worn by boxing’s most noticeable personalities.

From Don King’s diamonds to Mike Tyson’s ostentatious gems, only boxing rivals in the bling stakes. Thomas Hauser and Marily Cole Lownes trace the rise of the carat crunchers — including one whose smile is worth a small fortune.

A year before that in January of 2004, the Lake Superior State University of Michigan committee had already deemed the expression bling as one of the most useless and overused words, winning the expression a place on the “List of Words Banished From The Queen’s English For Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness” — a list that has existed since 1976.

On January 22, 2000 the Gettysburg Times published a news story by Associated Press Sports Writer, Ken Peters about the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA fans who loved them. The story was entitled, “Lakers’ Victory Parade Travels Through Scene Of Violence.” Along with the festive tone of the piece, the following sentence was included:

Bling Bling” was O’Neal’s explanation for the sound made when light bounces off a diamond NBA championship ring.

It’s a fact that the term bling was added to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006 and the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 after rising in popularity in the English language thanks to hip hop culture.

Jamaican DJ Super Cat had a hit in 1993 with the song “Dolly My Baby” which was recorded for his 1992 album, Don Dada. It reached #64 on the R&B charts and #21 on the rap and dance charts. The expression appears midway through the song as follows:

[Third Eye]
Bling, bling! Who’s that with Supercat
(Third Eye!, Third Eye!)
Yes black, where all my troopers at
(Uptown!, Uptown!)
They got my back but I’m still strapped
Got the real phat, phat track for my ill rap
Black, ain’t no shame in my game, just because it’s real
You think I won’t scoop your girl, oh yes I will.

This makes Lil’ Wayne’s claim on the Outkast song, “Hollywood Divorce” specious at best when he raps:

Bling bling, I know and did you know I’m the creator of the term?

But in the end, credit has to go to the makers of Ultrabrite toothpaste who created a commercial campaign back in the 1970s that ran with the tag line: “Ultrabrite gives your mouth … [bling] … sex appeal!” Before the words “sex appeal”, a high-pitched bell would sound over the visual of a young man or woman smiling. It wasn’t long before comedians seized on what they felt was the silliness of the campaign, spoofing it in their routines by vocalizing the sound effect.

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Cutting Edge

Posted by Elyse Bruce on September 14, 2011

If someone is cutting edge, it means they’re trendy and right up-to-date and if something is cutting edge, it’s the latest go-to design or technology.  But how long has there been a cutting edge is the question.

On August 17, 2009 the Computers and Internet Community magazine published an article by Russell Blanc outlining the top 5 reasons FiOS customers in New York were recommending FiOS to their friends and family.  It read in part:

Savvy New York customers choose Verizon FiOS TV and Internet service because it gives them a great deal.  In New York FiOS is one of the most recommended cable and Internet services because Verizon FiOS uses cutting edge technology to provide ultra fast and high quality TV and Internet service.

On October 12, 1982 the Montreal Gazette ran an article entitled, “California Is Still On Cutting Edge.”  It began by stating:

Out on the edge of the frontier, where the world drops of, there is always the cutting edge of society.  Frank Lloyd Wright once said that if you imagined the United States as a table and you tipped it up and all the junk and detritus fell to one side — well, that would be California.

On February 18, 1965 the following was part of an article published in the Gettysburg Times of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the column, “News In Review: Our Army In Viet Nam.”  The question in the column was: what’s wrong with our Army?  The answer was quite simple according to the journalist and he proceeded to outline what was wrong in great detail.  The story included these final words:

In other words, there are too many in the Army who do not actually think of themselves as fighting men.  It is much more pleasant to have MOS classifications as planners and suppliers.  They are, of course, strongly committed to standing firmly behind the man, behind the man, behind the Man With The Gun.  It is further unfortunate that too often promotion is more readily achieved back in the wonderland of military bureaucracy than within the formations of the “cutting edge.”

On April 20, 1950 the Sydney Morning Herald reported on a situation between Russia and the United States in their article entitled, “A Warning For The Western Powers.”  The first paragraph read:

The United States protest to Russia over the shooting down of an unarmed American plane is strong but yet restrained.  A Government less careful of its responsibilities to peace might easily have given a sharper cutting edge to its demands.  Having used every possible means to verify its contentions, Washington has put on record a series of facts that expose the Soviet Note of April 11 as a shameless concoction.  At first sight that document bore all the marks of a guilty conscience, but not until the American investigations were complete could it be finally branded as a tissue of lies and distortions.

Now some dictionaries claim that the phrase is circa 1950, however, Idiomation found an earlier reference in the Milwaukee Journal dating back to February 20, 1938 in an article entitled, “The Navy, Its Size And Job, And Line Of Defense, Should Defence Ever Be Necessary.”  Dateline Washington, D.C., the article began thusly:

There is more to the United States navy than greets the eye when you see that file of wallowing battlewagons plunging towards you in the newsreel.  What you see in that picture is merely the cutting edge of an enormous machine that spreads literally around the world.  The navy is something more than just ships cruising under a tropic sky, operated by natty uniformed young men “seeing the world” on picturesque shore leave in Yokohama or Algiers. Behind all this is a sheer administrative and business problem that makes the navy “big business” with a vengeance. 

The article then goes on to describe some of the jobs in the navy that require smoothness and precision in the course of a day’s work including keeping 535 vessels and 1,122 airplanes in excellent working condition, and guarding and operating naval property that cost American taxpayers in the neighbourhood of $3,000,000,000 USD.

The expression, however, actually dates back to 1931 when a new alloy for metal turning tools was announced.  Newspapers across America stated that:

The new metal, with extremely durable cutting edge, has been formed from a combination of metal carbides.

And thus began the use of the expression “cutting edge” to describe the latest and greatest in fashion, technology and design.

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In The Red

Posted by Elyse Bruce on June 23, 2011

If someone or a company is “in the red” it means that amount of money being paid out is greater than the amount of money coming in.  As with the term “in the black” this phrase comes from accounting practices where positive numbers were written in black ink and negative numbers were written in red ink.

Even though several websites are quick to state that the earliest citation of “in the red” can be found in the “Wise-Crack Dictionary” written and published by George H. Maines and Bruce Grant in 1926, Idiomation has good reason to believe the expression was in use prior to 1926 as shown by the ease with which the term “in the black” was used in a Wall Street Journal news story in 1923.

Catholic Culture magazine ran a story in May 2001 about the situation with the diocese in New York City.  Early in the report, readers were informed that:

When then-Archbishop Egan (he was made a cardinal in February) was appointed to succeed John Cardinal O’Connor, who died in May 2000, his first priority was to save the archdiocese from potential financial breakdown. New York had been operating for a decade with a $20 million budget deficit, and that didn’t include individual parishes and schools that were also operating in the red. Cardinal Egan did not announce the details of his plan at the time, but rumors ran rampant through the chancery about what might be cut back.

On January 18, 1960 the Gettysburg Times ran an Associated Press Special Service story out of Washington, D.C. about the St. Lawrence Seaway that had opened the previous April and that was expected to operate at a loss of $2,359,000 for the year starting July 1, 1960.  The headline read:

New Seaway Operating “In The Red

On October 5, 1933 the New York Times carried a news story entitled, “Montgomery Ward Turn $1,000,000 Net Profit In August After Setbacks Since First Year.”  The story reported:

After operating “in the red” for the first half of this year, Montgomery Ward & Co. had a net profit of approximately $1,000000 in August, the management announced today.

On August 30, 1930, just as the Great Depression took hold, the Wall Street Journal published a news story entitled, “Losses In Sugar Spur Agreement” reported:

European beet producers, high tariffs and bounties notwithstanding, have been operating in the red for many years, and the position of the industry is precarious. At first the producers of each country will be approached independent of government influence.

That Idiomation could not find an earlier published version of the expression than the “Wise-Crack Dictionary” of 1926, it is reasonable to believe that the term was in vogue at least as early as 1923 when its partner term “in the black” was being used with the expectation of being understood in Wall Street Journal story quotes.

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