The Charlotte News

Monday, March 4, 1940


Site Ed. Note: Architects may come and architects may go, but where do the children play?

We feel sad for the lady who, as a child, lost her pony.

Today, we see from the New York Times of a few days ago the etymology of the term "O.K.", which we always thought was simply a stentorophonic method of saying "okay". But in point of fact, it turns out that the word appears to have had its origins in association with Martin Van Buren, (or at least his predecessor in the White House, Andrew Jackson). The Times doesn't credit the latter, but the O.E.D. does, viz.: "A few years ago, some person accused Amos Kendall to General Jackson of being no better than he should be. 'Let me examine the papers,' said the old hero.+ The General did so and found every thing right. 'Tie up them papers,' said the General.+ 'Mark on them, "O.K.",' continued the General. O.K. was marked upon them. 'By the eternal', said the good old General+, 'Amos is Ole Kurrek (all correct) and no mistake.'"--New York Morning Herald, March 30, 1840 (which, you will note, is nearly precisely a century before this day, short of 26 days--a-okay!).

Okay, that being said, the Times leans toward the Van Buren connection, as preferred also by William Safire, from his earlier etymographical days as a columnist for the Times. That connection has lit it that "O.K." stands either, derisively, from his political opponents, for "Old Kinderhook", or, sympathetically, "Off to Kinderhook", as supposedly written by Van Buren on his way out the door to his hide-away in Kinderhook (meaning "Child's Corner"), three counties up from Manhattan, (probably written with his krum elbow). The other possible origin which the Times gives is oll korrect, a Dutch phrase for "all correct".

But that flies a little in the face of the O.E.D., which suggests it as an abbreviated orl korrect, merely a jocular form of "all correct", much akin to the attribution to General Jackson, which, if true, would necessarily precede any of the others, deriving a few years later, in 1839-1840.

There is some speculation also, says the O.E.D., that it is a corruption of the French au quai, or the Choctaw oke, or a West African word passed into the vocabulary of the South via slaves.

So, anyway, what ever the origin, it ultimately means "all coirrect". Ergo, next time somebody curtly says to you, "Your work is okay...", don't gasp with surprise and insult: "Just okay?" Instead, immediately jump up and down excitedly, and profusely effuse thanks to them for the estimable compliment--and before they have time to add, instanter, the inevitable conjunctive limiter to deny you the credit properly due you from their usage--that what you did was rather orl korrect, and thus perfected pluperfectly, in their eyes anyway. "Okay!"

Mr. Safire also had commented about the Flit and Henry, his comment lying doggo for nearly two decades, since 1989, just as Cash had in February, 1938, that latter with which we happened briefly to deal just the other day, though a bit before our time, that is 1938, not 1989; and so we proceeded to look it up again, to be sure, only to find that, lo and behold, Dr. Seuss, fittingly flittingly enough, right into our very, and varied, times and times, righto, had drawn the ads for the thing, which, we correct ourselves to know, so as to be okay, right on, and most to the case quite rightly apropos, properly applies not only to the pesticide sprayer but also to the spray, itself. Thus, "Quick, Henry, the Flit," refers to the spray and sprayer all at once--or, is it just the pesticide, for which the sprayer happens merely to be a necessary complementary appliance for its proper and even application to the pesky mosquitoes? We don't know. You give that one a go. Whatever the case, these things are good to know when you need to call Henry for the Flit. O.K. (And, we glean that probably Mr. Safire on an occasion, awhile back, may have done just that. But, never mind. There we go again.)

Nothing I say can be plainer to any impartial Reader, than that by the Evanescence of augments, in the above-cited passage, Sir Isaac means their being actually reduced to nothing. But to put it out of all doubt, that this is the truth, and to convince even you, who shew so little disposition to be convinced, I desire you to look into his Analysis per æquationes infinitas where, in his preparation for demonstrating the first rule for the squaring of simple Curves, you will find that on a parallel occasion, speaking of an augment which is supposed to vanish, he interprets the word evanescere by esse nihil. Nothing can be plainer than this, which at once destroys your defence. And yet, plain as it is, I despair of making you acknowledge it; though I am sure you feel it, and the Reader if he useth his eyes must see it. The words Evanescere sive esse nihil do (to use your own expression) stare us in the face. Lo! This is what you call "so great, so unaccountable, so horrid, so truly Boeotian a blunder" that, according to you, it was not possible Sir Isaac Newton could be guilty of it. For the future, I advise you to be more sparing of hard words: Since, as you incautiously deal them about, they may chance to light on your friends as well as your adversaries. As for my part, I shall not retaliate. It is sufficient to say you are mistaken. But I can easily pardon your mistakes. Though, indeed, you tell me on this very occasion, that I must expect no quarter from Sir Isaac's followers. And I tell you that I neither expect nor desire any. My aim is truth. My reasons I have given. Confute them, if you can. But think not to overbear me either with authorities or harsh words. The latter will recoil upon your selves: The former in a matter of science are of no weight with indifferent Readers; and as for Bigots, I am not concerned about what they say or think. --A Defence of Free-Thinking in Mathematics, by George Berkeley, 1735

We now pause to ask: how does one square curves? Ah, but we think we understand, and quickly. We've nearly squared a few ourselves while out on the curves, defying gravity most injudiciously.

What, you may ask, does any of that have to do with this day's pieces or page? We don't know, except that yesterday we were dealing a little with Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill out in Deadwood, which inevitably brings to mind Dodge City, then Tombstone naturally enough, and, of course, therein, the old O.K. Corral, leading on to politics today in Ohio and Texas, righto doggo, get along little dogey. We're okay; you're okay too, though. Alrighty. Don't worry, be happy. Watch the motorists, neighbor.

Come to think o' it, the little girl's daddio was probably righto about the ponyo. At least she grew up straighto and strongo, even if a little sado, (oops, check that, saddo--not that other, no), about the loss of the ponyo. But, little girl, ponies and cars came not to mix too well along the roads of Virginio. And so, that would not have been so okay, lo.

Okay. A-okay. Godspeed, and more campaign ahead. Okay.

Disclaimer-o: No candidate should take this note as an endorsement-o.

One more thing, returning to yesterday a moment. Maybe the jackass from Florence was Melvin Purvis, writing incognito, following up on the Director's curiosity. Okay.

Good Service

A Compliment For The County Civil Service Board

The annual report of the County Civil Service Board offers as good a time as any to pass a compliment on the functioning of this body. Messrs. Glasgow, Currie and Lewis have put their minds and their time into this job, and the result has been a noticeable and altogether gratifying improvement in the County Police Department.

The board's biggest problem was to find a chief for this force of officers, and in Chief Lineberry it obtained the very man it was looking for. With a less capable executive officer, the board would have found itself hindered, its high purposes largely frustrated.

And in any case, when private citizens with other interests accept and diligently fulfill a public responsibility, they deserve a mark of appreciation.


We Get A Good View Into The Workings Of A Mind

In Chicago a little girl of six, on her way home from school, stepped into a street deserted save for an approaching automobile. The automobile ran over and either killed or seriously injured her. The driver stopped, grabbed up the body, fled--to a deserted North Side garage where he buried her under two heavy and suffocating tarpaulins. But eyes which he did not see saw him as he caught up the child, and the police were notified. Quickly they tracked him down.

And now he is in desperately serious trouble. Whether the accident was his fault in the first place does not matter now--though in general it is a pretty safe rule that anybody who runs over a child is guilty of criminal carelessness and failing to remember that children cannot be expected to look out for themselves. In any case, he showed no concern with getting the child to a doctor.

One doctor says she was alive until two hours after the accident, another says it is possible that she was already dead when placed under the tarpaulins. But the fact remains he made no effort to find out if she still lived and might be saved.

Nor did he show the slightest regard for her parents--for the fact that to wait and wait and never know would be many times more agonizing than the certain knowledge of her death. He showed no regard for anything in fact save his own precious hide--and for that his excuse of blind panic is no excuse at all, save as we remember that every man acts in crisis from the character that is within him.

The mind of the hit-and-run driver is a curious study in selfishness and cowardice--and an infantile incapacity to take account of others or to face unpleasant situations. All too often, he is allowed to go on driving automobiles, though the revelation that he possesses a mind like that ought to be conclusive ground to bar him from ever sitting behind an automobile wheel again.


The German Censorship Is Real And Very Effective

In an Associated Press story about censorship in Europe we find the following statement of the case of Germany and the Allies:

Germany--No censorship on established correspondents such as those of the Associated Press. Correspondents are responsible for the truth and impartiality of the news they send.

Britain and France--All news is uncertain whether sent by telephone, cable, wireless, or mail.

So far as it goes, it is strictly accurate. But sometimes it seems to us that these reports might reasonably go further. For a great many readers, encountering such a bare account of the matter, immediately conclude that there is no censorship on dispatches from Germany, and that the accounts we get from correspondents there reflect the exact truth whereas dispatches from London and Paris are to be set down as the lies of propagandists.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. The joker lies in the fact that the definition of the "truth and impartiality" to which the correspondents in Berlin are bound is whatever the Nazi Government chooses to make it at any moment.

Actually the German system, which keeps the threat of ejection from Germany hanging perpetually over the correspondent's head and places the whole responsibility for pleasing or offending the Nazi Government squarely on his shoulders, is a far more effective gag than the clumsy British system of the approval or rejection of each separate dispatch. The Berlin correspondents, well aware that what is actually demanded of them is the coloring of the story to suit the Nazis, mainly confine themselves to reporting what this Nazi or that one has said. But unfortunately, many people read so badly that they take these quotations for assertions of fact made on the correspondent's own responsibility and without let or hinder.

Smart Work

Hitler Uses The Welles Mission To Clever Ends

Hitler has used the Welles visit with an astuteness worthy of Machiavelli's ideal of the Prince.

It was unfortunate for his purposes that his airmen chose this particular time to bomb and machine-gun a helpless passenger liner, killing more than a hundred persons. It pretty effectually solves the mystery of what happened to the Athenia. And it makes merely ridiculous the roars about "outrage against humanity and international law, piracy, lawlessness," which emanated from Berlin over the Altmark case. Obviously, under the Nazi definition, piracy means exactly what the Nazis want it to mean.

But on other counts, Hitler's score is nearly perfect. He used the Welles visit to make a powerful bid for Italian and Japanese aid by sounding off to the effect that Britain's "stranglehold" on the seas must be broken--that the Suez, Gibraltar and Singapore fortresses must be abandoned and dismantled. It is precisely what Italy and Japan have been hollering for, and it amounts to saying that the British Empire must be totally destroyed.

And at the same time, he struck a great blow for the further befuddlement of world, and particularly American, opinion, with his argument that just as the United States, as the great power in the Western Hemisphere, has assumed leadership responsibility for the whole, so Germany, as the great power in Central Europe, had the right and the moral obligation to do the same thing in that territory.

In point of fact, of course, the cases of the United States and Germany are not parallel. The United States has committed a good many crimes in its time, as by sicing the Marines into Nicaragua, grabbing largely unoccupied lands from Mexico, etc. But the United States has never asserted any systematic policy of going down into Central and South America and annexing whole peoples.

It has never at any time set up a policy of systematically destroying the Latin-American culture and language, replacing it with its own culture and language. It has never at any time set up the policy of systematically exterminating the intellectual classes in Latin-America, of grabbing the property of Latin-Americans and handing it over to citizens of the United States as members of a superior race, reducing the native population to slavery. It has never set out to close all Latin-American universities and burn all Latin-American books on the ground that inferior races have no business with such things. It has never required Latin-Americans to step into the gutter and tip their hats as the "superior Nordics" passed by. It has never conceived it to be any part of its moral duty in the case to civilize the Latin-Americans by concentration camps and a gentle Gestapo.

Moreover, it might be as well for Americans, before they begin to shout too enthusiastically that Britain doesn't have a right to her Empire, that Singapore, Suez, Gibraltar ought to be dismantled, to remember a few things. One of them is that the nation which "hous" up the single greatest treasure house on earth happens to be the United States. And another is that the Panama Canal stands across the commerce of the world just as certainly as does Suez or Gibraltar or Singapore.

Actually, of course, what Hitler proposes is to destroy the British Empire and replace it with a far worse one--a Nazi Empire. But his stroke is nonetheless a very effective one. What he is up to is diverting attention from the real facts in the case by raising plausible-sounding but phoney questions. And, despite the plain evidence against him, he will undoubtedly succeed in further confusing a great many already badly-confused people.

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