Hey, and welcome to the short stuff, I'm Josh. There's Chuck. Cherrie's out there fooling around somewhere in the Ethernet of the Internet and whatever.
And this is short stuff. Let me just stop talking. Let's go.
Yeah, this is something we've done before. And we will do again because as everyone knows, we like frase origins. I especially love phrase origins. And I think we're doing three today. The second one, which can be summed up in a single sentence, probably. But we're going to start with a grain of salt. Take it with a grain of salt, buddy. I will take it with a grain of salt because I've just ingested some poison of no salt.
Won't help that. Oh, well, according to Pliny the Elder, when they think that that's where the phrase take this with a grain of salt really finds its origin. And by the way, take something with a grain of salt means that you should be skeptical of what you're about to hear or see or whatever. That that there's this information that you're about to receive is of dubious origin. Right. That's that's the current understanding of take it with a grain of salt or a pinch of salt or a dose of salt, however you put it.
That's the current meaning of it. But they think as far back as Pliny the Elders, naturalist Historia, that that that's where it finds its origin, that's actually kind of a referential thing to that, to a recipe he gave under the walnut section.
Yeah. Take to dried walnuts, to figs and tea leaves a pound them all together with the addition of a grain of salt.
Oh. If a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.
So if you were, if you thought you were going to be poison that day before you eat breakfast, eat this concoction that includes a grain of salt and no poison will befall you.
Yeah, but here's the deal that explains nothing about this phrase other than he said the words grain of salt in his language, which was cum Grano Salis because it's not metaphorical, it's literal.
If you want to talk about metaphor, you need to flash forward quite a bit till six 47. Yeah, John Trappe used it in a book called The Commentary Commentary on Old and New Testaments. Colen Boring, No Fight.
I just made that part up and he said this is to be taken with a grain of salt, but we still aren't sure what he meant by that.
I want to hazard a guess here. I think what John Trappe, who has a great name, by the way, what he was saying is that this the following is very difficult to to hear or it's hard information to swallow. A.K.A. poisonous. Oh, OK, so you would have to take this with a grain of salt. That's my guess. Now I'm putting this out there, but because this is short stuff, I did not go to the trouble of reading John Trappes commentary on the Old and New Testaments.
So it's a guess. But man. Oh, man, it is a good guess.
Yeah, that makes sense. And it did pop up since then, but usually, again, referring to actual grains of salt. Then in 1988 in the Athenaeum, it's a literary journal, had this line our reasons for not accepting the author's pictures of early Ireland without many grains of salt, which I can't even make heads or tails of. That's in its period.
No, but I think they were wailing on the photographer, which it's like just don't accept the pictures. Don't make fun of them in the in the magazine. That's like us criticizing HowStuffWorks articles that we based episodes on.
We never do that. No. I mean, but this doesn't and I think this one frustrated me because even that it still doesn't say where it came from or why they started saying grain of salt to mean what they meant metaphorically.
Yes, because it was terribly written in this HowStuffWorks article. Well, did you find a real reason? Because I didn't.
I didn't. I didn't. It just kind of suddenly is like it just appeared and get the impression that a grain of salt just kind of appeared out of nowhere, that it was not appeared out of nowhere, that they have kind of traced it back. But there's not any real clarification. I'll tell you, it has a clarification, Chuck, a clear lineage. And that is the phrase close, but no cigar.
Yeah, this one's easy and we can definitely get this in in the next minute and 20 seconds before our break because it's super easy.
In the early 20th century, when you went to these traveling carnivals and they had these rip off games where you would throw a ring on a Coke bottle or shoot a basketball into a hoop that's barely the size of a basketball, which I didn't figure out. So I was way too old. Right. That that was not a standard hoop. Yeah, great hair by then. I did.
Uh, you're meant to not win those games generally or to come close and want to spend more money. And that's the whole idea. But back then, what was the prize or one of the prizes that you would get a cigar?
That's right. So if you were sitting there throwing, you know, doing a ring, tossed around some glass bottles and you missed and you missed, then you missed, you ran out of rings. The carnival barker would say close, but no cigar, no cigar. So that's where that origin comes from or that phrase comes from it, which is great because it's a nice, tidy package. There's no controversy, no disputing it, and it's just done.
It's not like that ugly, horrible grain of salt origin.
Yeah. And kids, six year olds everywhere would give them I never get the cigar.
And their dad would say, here you go, son, have mine.
Yeah, that was great. We'll take a break. Yeah, I thought that was implied by the pregnant pause. All right. We'll talk about southpaws right after this.
That's why I ask that. You should know why she knows, right?
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That's what I ask as the you should know.
All right, Chuck, we're talking southpaws. And this one is like a neat combination between horrible, ugly grain of salt and beautiful, perfect close, but no cigar, because there's a lot of different ideas that that are competing for the origin that aren't necessarily right, but aren't necessarily wrong either. So there's a lot of great info involved. That's right. And it kind of comes down to a couple of sports, Southpaw is has long been linked to boxing and baseball.
Rocky Balboa was a southpaw.
No. Was he? Yeah, I think so. Right. I don't know. I don't pay that close of attention. I'm just enthralled by the action.
You're just all about those muscles. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it was I think it was kind of a deal that he was a southpaw. OK, so you've long heard it to be about boxers in baseball, but generally, even more specifically, it's been associated with pitchers, let's say, in the pitcher is known as the South Pole.
OK, yes. Now that's that's the one I've always heard it from. I've never heard. No, I'm sorry. I was about to say the reverse of the truth. I've always heard it from. That's a lie, right? Yeah.
I've always heard of it being a sissy with boxing. I've never heard it associate with baseball. OK, yeah.
Baseball pitchers, generally, it's you know, it's an old school term, but I've definitely heard it before.
So even before necessarily it was involved in boxing or it was involved with boxing. And this there was a political cartoon that was referencing boxing and we just didn't realize it. The earliest one of the earliest mentions of the left hand, especially involved in delivering a punch being called the southpaw, comes from 1848 editorial cartoon that showed a candidate named Lewis Cass, who is running for the Democrats. He had just laid out Zachary Taylor and Taylor's running mate, Millard Fillmore.
And Millard Fillmore has a black eye.
And there's a quote coming from him, which, Chuck, I think that you would be really good to read this, quote, curse the old horse.
What a Paul he has given me.
There's that was one of the best Millard Fillmore impressions I've ever heard in my life. W what? What? I'm going to bring that one back. Yeah.
So Millard Fillmore is calling, at the very least, the punch that Lewis cast landed on him a southpaw. If not, Lewis cast a southpaw for using his left hand. Who knows? But the idea is southpaw in knocking a person to the ground with your fists was associated at least as early as 1848, at least as politics is concerned.
Yeah, there was there were more specific boxing references. There was one in 1860 in a bare knuckle fight, I guess, or boxing match. Pugilists squaring off against one another is another way to put it. In The New York Herald, the reporter David Woods reported that in the ninth round oh, I'm sorry, David Woods was the boxer. David Woods planted his southpaw under the chin, under his opponent's chin, laying him flat as a pancake. And that wasn't calling him A.
S ball, but called his fist his s ball.
Two words, right.
OK, so that's that's good enough for me. I say boxing, but unfortunately, there's some contemporaneous use of southpaw as far as pitching goes. As far back as 1858 in the New York atlas, there's mention of lefthanded first baseman who's called the southpaw that predates that boxing reference, although it comes after the Millard Fillmore quote, there's some others in 1875 edition of St. Louis newspaper. So it seems to have been associated not just with pitchers, but the pitchers are the ones who have the great origin story of associating left handedness with being a southpaw.
Yeah, and there was you know, some people said that ballparks were oriented in the 1400's with home plate facing west, which meant that a lefty player facing West would be pitching with his southpaw. But, you know, not all baseball stadiums were oriented that way. So that seems a little flimsy to me. I was thinking of the boxing thing if you were a boxer. You've got your right hand sort of up as your lead hand in your left hand would be south.
So that might be your southpaw, but if you are a South Pole than your left hand is up, so that doesn't really make sense. That's right. That's right. It's not sensible at all, which means it's not solved. We have no idea what the true origin of South Pole is, but at least there's a lot more information about it that we can choose from and make our own decision.
So are we one for three on this one? No, we're two for three, I'm including s top because it's so great, close, but no cigar is literally perfect and then I don't even want to bring up the other one again.
Yeah, I'm going to go on a salt free diet for the next week because of this episode.
Yeah, that'll show salt. Well, if you want to show salt, will you do that same thing yourself? And because we have run out of things to say everybody short stuff is out.
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