The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Short titles of US legislation - everything you wanted to know...
A gem of an article comes my way (serendipity again) - useful, charming, funny. And doing work that I'd not have the facilities, expertise or patience to do.
Mary Whisner's What’s in a Statute Name? is stuffed full of plums: for instance (p5a), the Sherman Act - the antitrust act, not the silver one - wasn't written by Senator John Sherman at all, but by Sen George Hoar (MA). Interesting enough; but Whisner indulges herself (and her readers) with a footnote:
“Peabody’s Improbable History [a segment on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show] featured a genius dog named Mr. Peabody who had a pet boy named Sherman; Sherman and Peabody used Peabody’s ‘WABAC machine’ (pronounced ‘way-back’) to go back in time to discover the real story behind historical events.” WIKIPEDIA, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullwinkle (last modified Sept. 23, 2004). OK, I didn’t really think that Sherman could have traveled back to the time of the Sherman Act and had the statute named after him. But wouldn’t it have been a good explanation of why the name didn’t become widespread immediately?
So that's the origin of the name Wayback Machine, the essential back-up search tool, is it? Cursory search fails to nail the etymology down - it could have been deliberate, or subconscious, or just be ben trovato. The engine's own site doesn't highlight the derivation. (Whisner wisely doesn't venture down the Wayback Machine path at all.)
free website counter