The Russia Investigations: Facebook Makes Nice, Imbroglio Sucks In More Tech Firms
'The Emperor Nero has now taken power in Washington — and the British are having to smile and clap as he sets fires and reaches for his fiddle.'
We will never stop dawdling, so why should we feel guilty about it?
A scandal, which involved fiddling of expenses, has been embarrassing Canada's Conservative government for close to a year. Stephen Harper, the prime minister, has a well-earned reputation as a shrewd political strategist. The handling of the imbroglio proves there is an exception to every rule. The affair has exposed fissures in the Conservative party http://econ.st/1ciUaOq
If you believe a recent academic study, one out of five U.S. chief financial officers chiefs have been scrambling to fiddle with their companies' earnings.
Google and the Western media in general have effectively turned this imbroglio into a clash of morals.
But China's efforts to censor and monitor the web represent a challenge to the uncontested hegemony of Western business and to the dominance of Silicon Valley in the world of new technologies. That story — of China's emergence and a burgeoning world of hungry entrepreneurs not willing to play second fiddle to America — is the backstory for the Google imbroglio and one that is about to assume center stage.
Even flawed bank rescues and stimulus plans, like the one Barack Obama signed into law this week, are aimed at the roots of the economy’s problems: saving the banks, no matter how undeserving they are, is supposed to keep finance flowing to all firms; fiscal stimulus is supposed to lift demand across the board. As manufacturing collapses, governments should not fiddle with sectoral plans. Their proper task is broader but no less urgent: to get on with spending and with freeing up finance.
n., pl., -glios.
- A difficult or intricate situation; an entanglement.
- A confused or complicated disagreement.
- A confused heap; a tangle.
[Italian, from Old Italian, from imbrogliare, to tangle, confuse : in-, in (from Latin; see in-2) + brogliare, to mix, stir (probably from Old French brooiller, brouiller; see broil2).]
A fiddle is a violin. As a verb, to fiddle means not only ‘to play the violin,’ but also ‘to make fussy movements with your hands.’ Figuratively, to fiddle means ‘to manipulate something in order to adjust it.’ Colloquially, and often followed by the preposition around, to fiddle means ‘to waste time.’ In British English, to fiddle means ‘to cheat or falsify’ and the related noun fiddle means ‘a fraud.’
- A secondary role.
- One who plays a secondary role.
In an orchestra, the first violins carry the main melody while second violins are considered to be in a subordinate position. Earliest documented use: 1809.
"He [Bollywood actor Navin Nischol] was known to be egoistic and did not want to play second fiddle to any actor." — Bharati Dubey; Navin Nischol Did Not Play Second Fiddle to Any Actor; The Times of India (New Delhi); Mar 20, 2011.
to make small changes to something to try to make it work:
Stop fiddling about with your hair - it looks fine.
Someone's been fiddling around with my computer!
Rothschild's FiddleIT WAS a tiny town, worse than a village, inhabited chiefly by old people who so seldom died that it was really vexatious. Very few coffins were needed for the hospital and the jail; in a word, business was bad. If Yakov Ivanov had been a maker of coffins in the county town, he would probably have owned a house of his own by now, and would have been called Mr. Ivanov, but here in this little place he was simply called Yakov, and for some reason his nickname was Bronze. He lived as poorly as any common peasant in a little old hut of one room, in which he and Martha, and the stove, and a double bed, and the coffins, and his joiner's bench, and all the necessities of housekeeping were stowed away.
Beside what he received for his work as a joiner, he added a little to his income by playing the violin. There was a Jewish orchestra in the town that played for weddings, led by the tinsmith Moses Shakess, who took more than half of its earnings for himself.
"Yakov!" cried Martha unexpectedly, "I am dying!"
He looked round at his wife. Her face was flushed with fever and looked unusually joyful and bright. Bronze was troubled, for he had been accustomed to seeing her pale and timid and unhappy. It seemed to him that she was actually dead, and glad to have left this hut, and the coffins, and Yakov at last. She was staring at the ceiling, with her lips moving as if she saw her deliverer Death approaching and were whispering with him.
On the fiddle
MeaningEngaged in a fraud.
Origin'Fiddling' is usually meant to mean 'cheating in a petty way', perhaps falsifying one's expenses or not declaring all of one's taxable income. Of course, a fiddle is also a slang term for violin.
There are a couple of proposed derivations of the 'cheating' meaning of the phrase 'on the fiddle', each of them having supporters who are firm in their belief. Let's take the oldest first. The expression is said by some to derive from the Emperor Nero, who famously 'fiddled while Rome burned' and was a byword for corruption and dishonesty. The second suggestion is that the 'fiddle' was the name of the raised edge of the square wooden plates used by sailors. If a sailor took a normal amount of food he was said to have a 'square meal' and if his plate was overflowing he was said to be 'on the fiddle'.
As is often the case, I only set up those suggestions in order to knock them down. The Nero story is mere fancy. It may be a nice play on words that he was 'on the fiddle' in both senses, that is, he was both corrupt and a violinist (actually he wasn't even a violinist, there being no such instrument in Nero's lifetime, but let's not get sidetracked) but that's all this tale has going for it.
The culinary procedures on board sailing ships don't offer much of an explanation either. The idea that sailors' plates had raised edges and that these were called fiddles is quite incorrect. There were fiddles in sailing ships' galleys but those were arrangements of small posts and strings arranged around the edges of tables that were used to stop plates falling on the floor in rough weather.
If the above isn't enough to convince then the fact that 'on the fiddle' in the 'acting fraudulently' meaning is a mid-20th century idiom should clinch it. The expression wasn't known in the age of sail and certainly not in ancient Rome. A good place to look for a phrase like 'on the fiddle', with its association with minor crime, would be court records, and if the expression were in common use in English it might be expected to be found in the database of cases provided by the Central Criminal Court in England and Wales, commonly known as the Old Bailey. This is a comprehensive record of all the criminal cases brought to the court between 1674 and 1913, and no one was accused in The Bailey of being 'on the fiddle' during all that time.
The term 'fiddle' appears to have originated in America. It is recorded in an 1874 edition of John Hotten's Slang Dictionary:
Fiddle... In America, a swindle or an imposture.Hotten also included this entry:
Fiddler... A sharper, a cheat; also one who dawdles over little matters, and neglects great ones.'On the fiddle' was taken up by the British forces in WWII. It was well enough established in popular slang in the UK by 1961 for it to have been used as the title of a Sean Connery film and that is the first example of it that I've found in print. The plot involved a young Connery playing a streetwise rough diamond who runs various street scams while serving in the British army.
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