October 22, 2017

"What woes do not befall Chicago! That city has a debt of $6,000,000 which is increasing at the rate of a cool million each year."

"One Chicago newspaper gives a double-leaded opinion that the city has a 'prognathous City Council,' whose members accept bribes so quickly that Boss Tweed turns over in his grave," wrote the NYT on November 23, 1895.



By the way, $10,000 overcoat in 1895 corresponds to a $292,452 overcoat today.

Now, why am I reading this? It's not that I'm looking into Chicago's debt problems. Nor is it an interest in the word "prognathous." It means "Having projecting or forward-pointing jaws, teeth, mandibles, etc.; having a facial angle of less than 90°; having a gnathic index of 103 or more. Of jaws or a lower jaw: prominent, protruding." OED. I think the suggestion is that the Chicago City Council members are thugs. My Google image search on the word kind of freaked me out:



I was reading that 1895 article because I wanted to get a sense of when people started using the phrase "cool million" after trying to read this National Review article by Andrew C. McCarthy, "The Obama Administration’s Uranium One Scandal." It begins:
Let’s put the Uranium One scandal in perspective: The cool half-million bucks the Putin regime funneled to Bill Clinton was five times the amount it spent on those Facebook ads — the ones the media-Democrat complex ludicrously suggests swung the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.
I thought it was funny to say a "cool half-million." $500,000 is not an awesome amount of money in this context, even if it's 5 times $100,000. Was "cool half-million" supposed to be funny or supposed to impress us with why Uranium One needs more attention? I found it distracting. You can see I'm not paying attention.

I'd rather talk about whether "the worst is worse than wienerworst" was once an idiomatic expression. You see it there in the second-to-last paragraph of the 1895 NYT article, where the issue of legalizing the sale of horse meat comes up. Attempting to google my way to an answer, I found this mindbending sentence:
For it must be remembered that at the time I knew quite nothing, naturally, concerning Milo Payne, the mysterious Cockney-talking Englishman with the checkered long-beaked Sherlockholmsian cap; nor of the latter's 'Barr-Bag' which was as like my own bag as one Milwaukee wienerwurst is like another; nor of Legga, the Human Spider, with her four legs and her six arms; nor of Ichabod Chang, ex-convict, and son of Dong Chang; nor of the elusive poetess, Abigail Sprigge; nor of the Great Simon, with his 2,163 pearl buttons; nor of – in short, I then knew quite nothing about anything or anybody involved in the affair of which I had now become a part, unless perchance it were my Nemesis, Sophie Kratzenschneiderwümpel – or Suing Sophie!
I love the "in short."

AND: What are "boodlers"? Chicago is "cursed by the reign of boodlers" and "the Man in the Moon turns up his nose as he sails over during a heavy wind." The OED defines "boodler" as "one who practises boodleism," and "boodleism" as "bribery and corruption, embezzlement of public funds." "Boodle" can mean counterfeit money or money acquired improperly, but it can also be a contemptuous way to refer to a group of people, as in this 1861 example (from the OED):
I motioned we shove the hul kit an boodle of the gamblers ashore on logs. 'Twas kerried.
We're more likely to say "caboodle" or "kit and caboodle," but "caboodle" is a corruption of the phrase "kit and boodle" — where "kit" is a kind of open tub used to hold water for washing or to carry something like milk or butter.

IN THE COMMENTS: Gabriel find this wonderful passage in "Great Expectations," by Charles Dickens (1860):
"Well, old chap," said Joe, "it do appear that she had settled the most of it, which I meantersay tied it up, on Miss Estella. But she had wrote out a little coddleshell in her own hand a day or two afore the accident, leaving a cool four thousand to Mr. Matthew Pocket. And why, do you suppose, above all things, Pip, she left that cool four thousand unto him? 'Because of Pip's account of him the said Matthew.' I am told by Biddy, that air the writing," said Joe, repeating the legal turn as if it did him infinite good, 'account of him the said Matthew.' And a cool four thousand, Pip!"

I never discovered from whom Joe derived the conventional temperature of the four thousand pounds, but it appeared to make the sum of money more to him, and he had a manifest relish in insisting on its being cool.
That pushed me to check the history of "cool" as a way to stress the size of an amount of money (which might have to do with the idea of the counting the money with an attitude of calmness). The OED traces this usage back to the 18th century. It comes up in "Tom Jones" by Henry Fielding, from 1749, when you only needed 3 digits to get to cool: "He had lost a cool hundred, and would play no longer." So the expression had been around a while before Dickens made comedy out of taking it literally and talking about temperature.

43 comments:

Etienne said...

My interest focused on the wienerworst [sic] wienerwurst or as they say "Vienna Sausage" which is the meaning of wiener and wurst.

This is like vomit in a can.

Gabriel said...

@Ann: From Great Expectations, Chapter 57, 1860:

"Well, old chap," said Joe, "it do appear that she had settled the most of it, which I meantersay tied it up, on Miss Estella. But she had wrote out a little coddleshell in her own hand a day or two afore the accident, leaving a cool four thousand to Mr. Matthew Pocket. And why, do you suppose, above all things, Pip, she left that cool four thousand unto him? 'Because of Pip's account of him the said Matthew.' I am told by Biddy, that air the writing," said Joe, repeating the legal turn as if it did him infinite good, 'account of him the said Matthew.' And a cool four thousand, Pip!"

I never discovered from whom Joe derived the conventional temperature of the four thousand pounds, but it appeared to make the sum of money more to him, and he had a manifest relish in insisting on its being cool.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

@Gabriel

Thanks!

Makes me want to delve into the history of cool.

Drago said...

Uh oh. You referenced the clearly corrupt obama/clinton/dems Uranium One deal.

Our "LLR and 'Accidental leftist'" is not going to like that.

Not one single bit.

cubanbob said...

So Chicago was a corrupt cesspool one hundred and twenty two years ago and the NYT was as smug then as it is now. Somethings never change.

gadfly said...

Is "kerried" the same as "swiftboated"?

Guildofcannonballs said...

Like with the SNL "cold open" people write about so the audience can pat themselves on the back for being-in-the-know about show lingo.

I prefer the hottest of hot openings, and find necrophilia disgusting.

rehajm said...

John Kerry. Heh. Talk about a huge noggin. He must be so top heavy. Hard to believe he doesn’t capsize when he’s windsurfing. You hardly ever see sailboats sailing along keel up...

David Begley said...

Ann:

The Clintons have taken millions in bribes from the Russians and others. That's the news. Nobody cares. And how did their idiot daughter become a multi-millionaire?

Ann Althouse said...

"That's the news. Nobody cares."

That's ambiguous.

Are you saying nobody cares about the news or the news is that nobody cares?

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

The news is that records of meetings with people who gave 145 million dollars to the Clinton foundation were illegally destroyed by herself, as were emails, likely on this subject. That there was an investigation that turned up several deep cover Russian agents whose specific mission was to corrupt the American political process, and who had gotten close to herself.

The investigation was killed by the same guy who is currently heading up the witch hunt against Trump on Russia.

Nobody cares about it. It is not considered news. The fact that it is not considered newsworthy given the kinds of things that have dominated the news this week should be newsworthy. It's not.

LYNNDH said...

You are going to be in the deep doo-doo with that picture. I shows African Americans in profile, that along with the definition is surly Racist.

tim in vermont said...

I think that "cool" in these contexts means "free and clear"

David Begley said...

The news is that the Clintons have collected millions in bribes and nobody cares. It is just accepted. The FBI investigated and Holder stopped it. Thankful those two criminals didn't get to return to the White House.

tim in vermont said...

Meuller was head of the FBI, they didn't give a crap about 145 million dollars going to the Clintons when there was an active investigation killed about a bribery campaign by the Russians which had turned up pay-dirt.

Mueller is now in charge of investigating collusion between Trump and the Russians.

Hillary approved the transfer of 20% of North American Uranium to Putin, a transaction celebrated as a huge win for Putin in Russia, cashed the check for a cool $ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS$ destroyed records of meetings and emails, NOBODY FUCKING CARES!

But a few Facebook ads that didn't even amount to any coherent strategy to get Trump elected? That's a four alarm fire!

MaxedOutMama said...

I think at that time and in that era, the "prognathous" would carry an implication of being primitive. If you want to consider that as being a "thug", okay, but at that time the focus on education and culture was pretty strong.

David Begley said...

The Clintons have gotten away with their criminal enterprise because there has never been proof of the quid pro quo. But the $145m paid to their Foundation after the uranium deal was approved was not just an act of charity.

In Hillary's deleted emails is the proof of bribery. It is likely the FBI intentionally bungled it. Andy McCarthy has written extensively on this topic.

Roughcoat said...

Should have shown the famous portrait of Charles V, with his signature "Hapsburg jaw."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_V,_Holy_Roman_Emperor#/media/File:Barend_van_Orley_-_Portrait_of_Charles_V_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Clyde said...

We had a cat once named Kitten Kaboodle, or just Kaboodle for short.

Sebastian said...

"NOBODY FUCKING CARES!" Tim, Tim, could you please be a little less ambiguous here? Like, what do you mean, nobody -- you seem to care. And cares -- what's there to "care" about? Are you saying we should "care" about political shenanigans? Please be a little clearer. And that f-word -- are you throwing that in as a meaningless expletive or does it actually play a grammatical role? For example, are you saying that nobody who is f-ing cares?

Anyway, on this blog, we care about clarity. A cool half million here, a cool half million there, that's neither here nor there.

Mr. Majestyk said...

Sebastian, that was good.

narciso said...

And he let the Chapman ring leave town, in stead of letting their contacts in the administration be uncovered. His time as director, overlaps with that of ambassador kislyak.

David said...

Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Torrance, had been killed in a carriage accident had died in a carriage accident on Lake Shore Drive in 1891. http://www.deadinchicago.com/post/101537104059/1-november-premonition-of-his-wifes-death

Torrance never made it to New York to build his $2 million mansion, and probably lacked the means to build such a thing. Torrance himself died in October 1896. He was wealthy but according to a summmary of his will in find-a-grave, not as wealthy as implied in the editorial:

"The will of General Joseph T. Torrence was filed in the probate court Tuesday, the value of the estate being placed at $650,000. The personal property is set down at $400,000 and the realty, according to the petition, represents $250,000. The bulk of the estate is to be held by the trustees for Mrs. Jessie Norton Torrence Magoun, daughter of the decedents. To Frank Torrence, of Bement, Ill, a brother; Mrs. James H. Torrence, Mrs. Wm. and Mrs. Chas. Gulleford, of Warren, O., sisters of the decedent, are allowed $1,000 each."

The General never made it to New York. He was buried in Rosemont Cemetery Chicago after his death.

Laslo Spatula said...

"A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money."

From Wiki:

Although often quoted, it seems Dirksen never actually said this. The Dirksen Congressional Research Center made an extensive search[dead link] when fully 25% of enquiries to them were about the quotation. They could find Dirksen did say "a billion here, a billion there", and things close to that, but not the "pretty soon you're talking real money" part. They had one gentleman report to them he had asked Dirksen about it on an airflight and received the reply: "Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so good that I never bothered to deny it."

I am Laslo.

narciso said...

Threes much mote elaboration here:
www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/10/secrets_and_lies_three_russian_stories.html

Many of these gambits remind me of zinoviev letter and the trust, the first was a phone document meantime go suggest a Russian plot, the second was an astroturf soviet opposition like O'brien brotherhois that nabbed savinkov and Sidney reilley

Ann Althouse said...

“If you want to consider that as being a "thug", okay, but at that time the focus on education and culture was pretty strong.”

I considered that it might suggest primitive in the evolutionary sense but the context made me put it the way I did.

wildswan said...

In that era the human race was regarded by anthropologists influenced by Darwin as a continuum of individuals, some close to ape ancestors, some quite far from them. A prognathous or strong jutting jaw was considered characteristic of apes and of human beings who had not evolved very far from the apes. This meaning then became a part of racism since many blacks have a strong jaw. You can see the idea at work in "Birth of Nation." But "prognathous" was also used a sort of general slur, meaning "stupid and criminal" and this meaning lasted a long time. Lower echelon gangsters in Forties movies often have "prognathous" jaws. And I noticed one in "Some Like It Hot" in the Fifties but there it was being played for comic effect. So cool.

In relation to money I can distinctly remember that in the early Fifties a sum of money could be "a cool ...". That meant it was good money in your society and rather easily obtained by some feat of wit. It could be "a cool quarter" gotten back from the telephone machine at age five or "a cool dollar" from a foolish parent to spend on movie candy when candy was five cents.

rcocean said...

Things weren't better back then, but they certainly wrote better news articles!

Mr. Majestyk said...

I grew up in Chicago. By age 10, I knew Richard J. Daley was corrupt.

Paul said...

Why the woes that befall Chicago?

Democrats. That is why the woes. Liberal Democrats got a hold of power and soon Chicago will be another Detroit. One big Detroit. Failed city.

robother said...

I believe Ann may have stumbled unwittingly on the origins of "cool" as implying something beyond the ordinary or mundane, tracing back at least to mid-18th Century writing. That's cool.

Bob Boyd said...

Cool money is money you didn't have to sweat for.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The General Joseph T. Torrence who is buying $10,000 overcoats and building $2,000,000 mansions doesn't even have a Wikipedia page! I did find something concerning that mansion in a report concerning a contest of his will, a disinherited nephew was claiming that he was actually a son. The will contest report listed the mansion as costing $150,000 so maybe the overcoat was fake news too.

Also, he was a General in the Illinois State Militia, back when militia still meant something, and his duties seemed to consist of summoning his militia brigade to Chicago for camping and target practice every year or two. As for his disapproval of Chicago coaching manners, it turns out his wife was killled in an accident while driving the family coach a few years before this NYT item. She was practicing driving the team with her regular coachmen in the back seat when another coach came up behind and spooked her horses.

Gabriel said...

@LBOC:The General Joseph T. Torrence who is buying $10,000 overcoats and building $2,000,000 mansions doesn't even have a Wikipedia page!

sic transit gloria mundi

Gahrie said...

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Gahrie said...

I think that "cool" in these contexts means "free and clear"

"Cool" means it's not "hot" meaning illegal.

Mountain Maven said...

Day drinking again?

tim in vermont said...

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes said that at this moment investigators have more evidence of Democrats colluding with Russians than of President Trump doing so

Is that clear enough?

Matthew Sablan said...

Chicago is corrupt for the same reason most machine city politics get corrupted.

tim in vermont said...

I like to maintain the fantasy that Bernie Sanders would have been outraged by stuff like the corruption and war mongering of the Clintons, but he was just trying to tug her a little to the left.

Rick said...

That pushed me to check the history of "cool" as a way to stress the size of an amount of money (which might have to do with the idea of the counting the money with an attitude of calmness).

"Cool" expresses the ease with which the money is earned contrasted to the effort Joe Average would have to put in to earn a comparable amount.