23 June 2010

Yachting While The Oil Spills The New Fiddling While Rome Burns?

I have always wondered about how turns of phrase are coined.

I mean, Bernie Madoff ripped off more people than Charles Ponzi could have ever dreamed up, yet a hundred years later, it's still a Ponzi, not a Madoff scheme.

But why did the name stick on Ponzi? It's not even because he was the first that came up with the idea. Charles Dickens described such a scheme in Little Dorrit, long before Ponzi was even born, and the idea was certainly even older than that.

I recently found out that "The Wave," which people do during lulls in the action at sporting events, is known as the "Mexican Wave" throughout the rest of the world, even though it was invented here in the U.S.A. It's because much of the rest of the world first noticed it at soccer matches in Mexico, about a decade ago.

As I mentioned above, there is scant chance that "Fiddling While Rome Burns" will be replaced with "Yachting While The Oil Spills." Although some new phrase needs to attach to the Gulf catastrophe. Maybe "Golfing During A Disaster" would work ...

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