Friday, April 21, 2006

Iraq 3. Conspiracy theories.

On the whole I don't believe in conspiracy theories. From the Da Vinci Code to JFK they make good suspense stories, but on the whole they are a load of baloney.

Most people think that “baloney”, meaning nonsense, comes from the name of the sausage. The idea is that the sausage contains all sorts of meat-like substances of dubious origins and is therefore a metaphor for junk. Interestingly, on the same basis the computer generation calls junk-mail “spam”. In the 1930s the catch phrase, “It’s baloney no matter which way you slice it,” was popular.

Another possible origin is as a mispronunciation of blarney, another kind of nonsense, this time of Irish origin. Kissing the Blarney stone, so located on the local castle that you have to bend over backwards to do it, endows the kisser with that verbal dexterity known as “the gift of the gab”.

The term is bears all the hallmarks of coming from New York, where Irish and Italian rivalry and ribaldry enriched both America and English.

The difference between "baloney" and "blarney" was explained in 1954 by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, "Baloney is the unvarnished lie laid on so thick you hate it; blarney is flattery laid on so thin you love it.”

A famous question in medical student examinations asks about the Baloney amptutation.

"Who was Baloney?" asks the examiner.

The too-clever-by-half med student replies,"Not a person, sir, it refers to the Italian city of Bologna, famous for its University and early medical school, and of course the pressed meat concoction that bears its name."

"Idiot!" exclaims the professor, "It's spelt b-e-l-o-w k-n-e-e."


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I work in a small hospital and think this is hilarious. :-)