The Charlotte News

Friday, December 23, 1938


Site Ed. Note: In "Figure This Out", Dr. Cash uses for us a word, not only of which we have never heard, but that even Oxford has seen fit never to include. The word is finarigation--and, no, we don't need to get our eyne checked. That's what it says. It's not in anything else we have checked either, not even Shakespeare. So perhaps it was a mangling of investigation down in the devil's basement; we don't know. Maybe Cash was moonshining this near Christmas, but, candidly, given his acuity in all of this stuff, we tend to doubt that, too. Maybe, instead, his eyne needed checking, or his occasionally errant typing skills. Maybe it was in homage to the made-up nonsense of Coster/Musica, to make up a word to fit what was otherwise a bizarre tale of operatic connusable unconnumerations laid connudated. Maybe there is some sort of combination word there, from an investigation in fine. But, as you will no doubt note if you have read our notes, we never, ever stoop to such nonsense as creating words like that from thin air. Whatever the case, there it is. Not our misprint. Cashism or Debilism. Take your pick.

So there.

Pardon us, we had a debil of a time getting this print to dictate this mawnin'. The dragon has been doing its best trying to eat the print. Maybe, we should go out and chase the sun down for awhile.

Bah humbug.

Speaking of which, do you know what that much maligned word actually means, other than the familiar exclamation of that old man of X-mas past? Well, for your edification, Oxford says this about it:

1. A hoax; a jesting or befooling trick; an imposition. Obs.

1751 Student II. 129 That exalted species of wit which is now practised by gentlemen of the brightest parts under the elegant denomination of a Humbug. Ibid. 287 (article) Of the Superlative Advantages arising from the use of the new~invented Science, called the Humbug. 1754 Earl of Orrery Let. in Connoisseur No. 14 33 Single words, indeed, now and then broke forth; such as odious, horrible, detestable, shocking, Humbug. This last new-coined expression, which is only to be found in the nonsensical vocabulary, sounds absurd and disagreeable, whenever it is pronounced. 1754 Ibid. No. 42 34 Our pretenders to wit.+ When they talk of Humbug, etc. they seem to be jabbering in the uncouth dialect of the Huns. ?1754 F. Killigrew (title) The Universal Jester; or a pocket companion for the Wits; being a choice collection of merry conceits, facetious drolleries, etc., clenchers, closers, closures, bon-mots, and humbugs. 1755 J. Shebbeare Lydia (1769) I. 333 He delighted greatly in the humbug, a species of wit that was then newly produced in this enlightened age. 1776 R. Graves Euphrosyne I. 108 Sprightly Humbugs and practical Jokes. a1799 Tweddell Rem. xxxi. (1815) 167 (Jod.) It was, to be sure, a very facetious humbug.

2. A thing which is not really what it pretends to be; an imposture, a deception, fraud, sham.

1751 Student II. 41 This peace will prove a confounded humbug upon the nation. 1831 Cat's Tail 20 A mere catch~penny humbug. 1884 R. Churchill in West. Daily Press 11 July 3/4 The whole legislature of the Government had been a gigantic humbug, a stupendous imposture, and a prodigious fraud.

3. Deception, pretence, sham; used interjectionally = 'stuff and nonsense!'.

1825 J. George View Law Joint Stock Comp. 58 The writer would have thought it the acmé of humbug. 1828 De Quincey Rhetoric Wks. XI. 53 In fact, to borrow a coarse word, the mere impersonation of humbug. 1844 Disraeli Coningsby ii. iv, A government of statesmen or of clerks? Of Humbug or of Humdrum? 1860 Tyndall Glac. i. xxii. 160, I believe a notion is growing prevalent that half what is said and written about the dangers of the Alps is mere humbug. 1880 Mrs. Forrester Roy & V. II. 209 Humbug! come along! It's a shame to leave such claret as that.

4. A person that practises deception; an impostor, a 'fraud'.

[1763 in Mackenzie Royal Masonic Cycl. s.v., The brethren of the Venerable Society of Humbugs met at brother Hallam's, in Goodman's Fields from 1763.] 1804 J. Larwood No Gun Boats 7 So essential a Familiar as the Humbug. 1807 in Sheridaniana 211, I think, father, said he, that many men who are called great patriots in the House of Commons, are great humbugs. 1857 Dickens Lett. (1880) II. 9, I denounce the race as humbugs. 1860 L. Stephen Vac. Tour 272, I boldly informed my companions, and tried to persuade myself, that another half-hour would take us to the top; but I secretly felt that I was a humbug. 1875 Lowell Spenser Pr. Wks. 1890 IV. 300 He is at least a man among men, and not a humbug among humbugs.

5. A kind of sweetmeat.

1825 [Remembered in common use in Gloucestershire]. 1847-78 Halliwell, Humbug,+also applied to a kind of sweetmeat. 1863 Mrs. Gaskell Sylvia's L. xliii, He had provided himself with a paper of humbugs for the child-'humbugs' being the north-country term for certain lumps of toffy, well-flavoured with peppermint. 1877 in N.W. Linc. Gloss. 1936 J. L. Hodson Our Two Englands vii. 115 A middle-aged member of the [Bradford Wool] Exchange moved about offering a paper bag of sweets; cheeks became swollen with humbugs. 1959 I. & P. Opie Lore & Lang. Schoolch. ix. 166 'Lollies' is also becoming a general term, and so is 'gob-stoppers' for 'any sweet difficult to chew', as humbugs, large aniseed balls, and fruit drops.

6. (See quot.)

1850 [In use in Norfolk for holding cows or horses]. 1875 Knight Dict. Mech., Humbug (Manege), a nippers for grasping the cartilage of the nose. Used with bulls and other refractory bovines. 1896 N. & Q. 8th Ser. IX. 328, 412, 458.

7. attrib. or adj. Of the nature of or characterized by humbug or imposture; humbugging.

1812 Combe Picturesque xxvi, A pun I do detest, 'Tis such a paltry, humbug jest. 1841 Lever C. O'Malley lxxxviii, No humbug sort of devil-may-care and bad-luck-to-you kind of chaps.

As for Coster/Musica, he was a humbugger if there ever was one, 'twould seem.

Nevertheless, enjoy all your humbugs out of those stockings Christmas morn. May you receive no coal.

That is, unless you drive a Hummer, in which case, we hope you get nothing for the day but coal. That is not a curse, in fact, as, in which case, you may need it as we deepen further into winter, kid. For, thanks to you, we ran out of oil in late January. And, no, we, too, like Mr. Ickes, do not apologize to Nazis. In fact, if you don't of your own accord, we may have to resort to using a legislative humbug on you to obtain your desistance.

Not an accident, indeed.

It Almost Never Fails

Time and again we have been struck by it, yet without ever finding an explanation of it. It happens after every election. It happened to Bilbo after he had lost out to Pat Harrison. It happened to Tom Heflin when he went down for the third, but not the last, time. It's going to happen to Maury Maverick, Olin Johnston, Frank Murphy, perhaps to George Earle.

It happens, in sum, to nearly every politician who is separated from the payroll by the action of the voters that he is reinstated by the action of his former associates, even though he may have been defeated in an effort to defeat them. It has happened now to Frank Hancock in the nick of time to save him from a payless first of the month, and it will be okay by Bob Reynolds in spite of the fact that it was his scalp Frank was after.

It happens, mates, that once you are admitted to membership in that vast and nowise exclusive club which is the Federal Government, you are on the rolls for good.

Figure This Out

The late Coster-Musica's justification in his suicide note of the finarigations that went on in McKesson & Robbins' crude drug department is ingenious, to say the least. What he had been doing was to ship non-existent crude drugs to warehouses that were only addresses, and from the sale of these vapors, showing a profit on the books and paying a thumping commission to certain foreign agents. But all this, he explains, was simply to keep the bondholders from getting their hands on the company as well as to enable the payment of dividends to the poor "innocent" preferred stockholders. Virtue, according to Coster-Musica's definition, seems to increase inversely according to the priority of lien.

And these fictitious transactions, duly entered on the books, "were wash sales to create a profit that did not exist, and what is missing is the alleged profits plus expenses and blackmail money paid to maintain it." In fine, the falsified purchase of drugs was washed out with the falsified sale of these drugs, and the company only thought it had a profit when actually it had expenses to pay plus extortion charges. And, as God is Coster-Musica's judge, "I am the victim of Wall Street plunder and blackmail in a struggle for honest existence."

Legislation by Proxy

There has been no better illustration of the forfeiture by Congress of its right to say how Federal money shall be spent in the case of the silk hosiery mills than the case of the silk hosiery mills at Penderlea Homesteads and elsewhere. The Farm Security Administration agreed to put up the money to build and equip the mills, turning them over to a private manufacturer and the homesteaders to operate on equal shares. Now, it develops, all this is illegal at least in the opinion of the acting comptroller general.

But there stand the mills, illegal or not. Did Congress vote the money to build them? Nope; not specifically, that is. Congress voted comprehensive powers in a lump sum to FSA and set it up to legislate and appropriate on its own. Congress, to be sure, if the question had been put, might have voted the money for these mills, probably would have voted it if only the Congressmen from the districts in which the mills were to be built could have wangled support from their colleagues by promising them bountiful favors in return.

Direct appropriations by Congress, let no one forget, are bad enough. That method involves log-rolling, vote-swapping and the frightful waste of money. But it has, all the same, one shining virtue, which is the transaction of public business in public by elected representatives, and not in private offices by appointed officials subject to almost no restraint except belated rulings by a comptroller general who isn't even certain of his own authority.

Without Apology

There would be few Americans who will not applaud Mr. Welles' brusque dismissal of the German charge d'affaires' demand for an apology from the United States for Mr. Ickes' utterances.

And that despite the fact that the criticism of another government by a Cabinet officer is, by ordinary, highly improper. Indeed, in cool rationality it is questionable if Mr. Ickes ought to have spoken out as bluntly as he did. For it certainly serves to exacerbate a war of words without actually accomplishing anything decisive. Really to do anything about Lord Hitler's crimes, we have to be willing to use the only language he understands, that of force. And the plain fact is that, unless Adolf should attempt to use force in this hemisphere or to plant bases close enough to threaten us, we have no intention of using force.

For all that, however, it is impossible not to feel sympathy with Mr. Ickes. As Mr. Welles told Herr Thomsen yesterday, he simply spoke out the general sentiment of the American people. And as for apologizing--that, under the circumstances, was out of the question. For the Nazi Government has placed itself completely outside the code of civilized intercourse.

It has not only outraged all our conceptions of decency and fair play in dealing with its Jews, but it has also created a serious and costly problem for us, by dumping those Jews on the world empty-handed--by confronting us with the choice between callously leaving them to starve and rot or somehow providing a haven for them at our own expense. More, its agents have been systematically stirring up hatred for us in South America. And lately its stooge newspapers and journals, which never speak except with official approval, have been coolly urging the Latin-American nations to organize and "throw off" the Monroe Doctrine--the oldest and most settled foreign policy of this Government.

In addition, it refuses us the rights it demands for itself. Its controlled journals regularly heap epithet and abuse upon our officials from the President down, but apology is never considered. On the other hand, it constantly demands, not only that we shall shut up the criticism of officials like Ickes but also that we shall abandon our well-known policy of free speech and suppress criticism by newspapers and private persons.

And so, under the circumstances, it was desirable to lean over backward in making it perfectly plain that we are not England or France--that there is one nation left which will not be dictated to in this arrogant fashion--that we mean to run our own internal affairs precisely as we please--that we reserve the right to make our resentment of unfriendly acts clear and that we intend to be dealt with only on a reasonable basis if we are dealt with at all.

Not An Accident

Mr. W. G. Ezell, director of the Division of Institutions and Corrections, State Board of Charities and Public Welfare doesn't agree with the Commissioners of Forsyth County. When a convict, Dallas Barr, suffered badly frozen feet as a result of being held in "solitary confinement" in a dark, unheated cell at the Forsyth prison camp, the Commissioners investigated the case and came out with the conclusion that it was all an "unfortunate accident." But Mr. Ezell says that if it was an accident, it certainly wasn't an unavoidable one.

And Mr. Ezell seems to have the best of that argument. In sober truth, the thing cannot rightly be called an accident at all, for an accident, strictly speaking, is a happening which is outside ordinary foresight. And ordinary foresight should have made it perfectly manifest to anyone in the possession of common sense that the practice of confining men in tiny unheated cells in mid-Winter was bound to eventuate precisely in such results as we see in this case. And more than that, there was the plain fact that the practice had already worked out that way elsewhere in the state--notably in the cases of the Negroes, Shopshire and Barnes, here in Mecklenburg. And even they had fires in the darkhouse occasionally.

When Jimmy Comes East

Come now; why couldn't Son Jimmy Roosevelt have continued to represent himself in the affairs of Roosevelt & Sargent in Boston, insurance brokers, instead of nominating his busy mother to act in his stead?

Mrs. Roosevelt took pains to disclose that she accepted the directorship only upon Jimmy's assurance that there would be no financial liability involved, no large decisions to make, no need for her to learn the insurance game from the ground up. On the contrary, she was only to act in accordance with the instructions that Jimmy would give her.

With Jimmy on the Goldwyn Coast and Roosevelt & Sargent in Boston, this might have been an arrangement dictated by practicalities. But Jimmy was saying only yesterday that he would probably divide his time between Hollywood and New York. And from New York, Boston is only a short night's run.

Seems to us that company meetings can easily be held when Jimmy comes East, which would let him cast his own vote and phrase his own suggestions without the necessity of acting through a second party. Not, to be sure, that we suspect any ulterior motive in his delegation of authority to Mrs. Roosevelt, or that she would lend herself to any scheme. But why? Why raise the question of propriety, with all the enemies Jimmy's father has, when there seems to be no reason at all for it?


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