Gadgetry v1.3

A functional and fictional device.

About Colophon Data Decades Graphics


A standardized piece of rhetoric often used in business and political contexts. Can be a part of speech, or even a devious idea or scheme.

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Year: 1912

Quote: “A sound way to appraise the validity of a proposed budgetary gadget is to examine the value system of its architect. Budget systems are not neutral. They are designed on the basis of particular presuppositions as to the objectives of budget control, although these assumptions may be implicit rather than explicit. Different architects of budgetary systems may espouse different sets of values, and for this reason may have trouble in agreeing on a common blueprint.”

Author: March, Michael S.

Source: National Tax Journal, v. 5, n. 2, June 1952

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Year: 1929

Quote: “less. DR. AVERY You know this doesn’t surprise me, my boy. – Doesn’t surprise me at all. RAPHAEL LORD It doesn’t surprise you because you don’t believe it. DR. AVERY It doesn’t surprise me because I’ve been expecting something of the sort. p. 17 RAPHAEL LORD How do you mean? DR. AVERY You know I’ve been very interested in you ever since you came here. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve rather studied you. I felt pretty certain that you’d produce some little gadget out of your mind to demonstrate your superiority to yourself and to the rest of the world. So it’s prophecy! Well! Well! I have in mind a book: “ Varieties of Egomania. “ You shall have a footnote in it. RAPHAEL LORD Only a footnote? DR. AVERY Maybe a chapter! RAPHAEL LORD You think I’m a case, don’t you? DR. AVERY In a sense everyone’s a case. RAPHAEL LORD In a short time, in two years”

Author: Behrman, Samuel Nathaniel


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Year: 1933

Quote: “English and American idiom and vocabulary have been drawn together in recent years by the radio, the talkies, Edgar Wallace P. G. Wodehouse Sinclair Lewis, Will Rogers, and many other agencies. We import racket from America, and export gadget in return. You send us high hat, hokum, getaway, panties, and hangover, and we send you swank, spoof, click, the wind up, and tell of. In this as in other commodities our imports exceed our exports. I can now write in any English newspaper of a man holding down a job or being dropped from the payroll, without benefit of quotes. The Prince of Wales, on the air, speaks of getting away with it. We no longer care”

Author: Seaman, H.W.

Source: Reader’s Digest: 1933: October: 18-20

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Year: 1933

Quote: “Dan, Mike can be described structurally as shortenings of the full name; this is not the case in Bob for Robert, Ned for Edward, Bill for William, Dick for Richard, Jack for John. Some have the diminutive suffix - ij, as Peggy, Maggie for Margaret, Fanny for Frances, Johnny, Willie, Billy. There is some intensity also in the connotation of nonsenseforms. Some of these, though conventional, have no denotation at all, as tra-la-la, hey-diddle-diddle, tarara-boom-de-ay; others have an explicitly vague denotation, as fol-de-rol, gadget, conniption fits. Any speaker is free to invent nonsense-forms; in fact, any form he invents is a nonsense-form, unless he succeeds in the almost hopeless task of getting his fellow-speakers to accept it as a signal for some meaning.”

Author: Bloomfield, Leonard

Source: Henry Holt and Company, New York

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Year: 1934

Quote: “Sidney E. Samuelson said he hopes the convention program would “wipe out” the motion picture code and music tax in its efforts to correct industry abuses. Allied will play politics, he declared. One major purpose of the convention is to find out “the different tricks and gadgets of sales policies.” Samuelson announced a wire from Al Steffes, who endorsed the convention program and incidentally observed that the code has accomplished “nothing for the independent exhibitor.””

Author: Eddy, Arthur W.

Source: The Film Daily, August 23, 1934

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Year: 1944

Quote: “The New Deal, intervening at a moment of national economic collapse, improvised a number of gadgets, and some of them — as was to be expected – worked badly or not at all. Some of these gadgets also raised cries of horror on the grounds that they were ‘socialistic.’ The Tennessee Valley Autority was one of these innovations which a great many citizens denounced as being un-American, an affront to free enterprise…”

Author: Stowe, Leland

Source: Knopf. 1944. p.391

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Year: 1946

Quote: “The scientists began some years ago to discover the real nature of unreadability. Dr. Flesch is here trying something that goes beyond diagnostic studies and is probably more difficult. He is offering sound and practical ‘rules’ for producing the readable kind of writing, stepping out of the role of scientist and becoming a teacher and giving a good example of the skill he is trying to teach” (x). Time magazine calls Flesch (as quoted on dustjacket) “Mr. Fix-It of writing.” Language gadgets used to distinguish concrete words (“apple”) from abstract ones (“democracy”)? * * * “For language consists of two parts: the things we say and the machinery by which we say them. To express our thoughts, as we have seen, we use sentences; and we cannot express a thought by any single word unless it is able to do the work of a sentence if necessary. So we can tell the meaningful words apart from the mere language machinery by the sentence test: if a word can form a sentence, it refers to something outside language; if it cannot, it is just a language gadget. This has nothing to do with abstractness and concreteness: it is a linguistic difference. For instance, the abstract word sin can be sued as a sentence, as in the famous answer to the question ‘What was the sermon about?’ But the next question, ‘What did the preacher say?’ had to be answered by a whole sentence: ‘He was against it.’ ‘Against’ by itself wouldn’t do as an answer; neither would dis- for ‘He disapproved of it.’ That’s because against and dis- are examples of language gadgets; they have no meaning except combined with meaningful words in a sentence. / Now, the point of all this is that difficult, complex, abstract language is cluttered up with gadgets. If we stick to this purely linguistic test, we can measure difficulty by counting gadgets, and we can simplify out speech and writing by throwing them out. / Language gadgets, as you have seen, are of two kinds: words by themselves, like against, and parts of words (Affixes), like dis-. The more harmful of the two for plain talk are the affixes, since the reader or hearer cannot understand what the gadget does to the sentence before he has disentangled it from the word it is attached to. Each affix burdens his mind with two jobs: first, he has to split up the word into tis parts and, second, he has to rebuild the sentence from these parts. To do this does not even take a split second, of course; but it adds up””

Author: Flesch, Rudolf Franz

Source: The Art of Plain Talk. Harper & Brother: 1946.

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Year: 1949

Quote: “The mildest form of corrupt propaganda is a process of persuasive part-truths. […] The machinery of propaganda is made of standardized gadgets by which you can detect it. One of these standard gadgets is slogans. The freeze the real process of thought. […] One of these gadgets is to create fear by describing the horrors of invasion of the United States by foreign armies. This one always arises to its maximum decibel when pressuring legislation and elections. While aircraft can come our way no armies on earth can land on our shores. Another gadget is to give new meaning to old, simple, and well-understood expressions until the integrity of our language is polluted. The term ‘liberalism’ has turned pink inside. The term ‘welfare’ never breofre meant the ‘welfare state’ with its red or pink colors. […] You can test malignant propaganda from another of its gadgets. That is the smear. This gadget has wide potency.” (114-15). “Debate founded on the full disclosure of the whole truth and free of these gadgets is the stuff that can save free men.” “it was the engineer with his household gadgets. Sometimes the engineer will be needed to put truth into propaganda. But I am getting off the track of amiability.” (185) “

Author: Hoover, Herbert

Source: Addresses Upon the American Road, 1945-1948. D. Van Nostrand Co. 1949

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Year: 1953

Quote: “The reserve suggested is a partial application of a plan that I first developed some twenty years ago for the implementation of budgetary policies of jurisdictions below the federal level. I have espoused this controversial fiscal gadget ever since 1932, but it has made little headway against a double-barreled attack. On the one hand, it is maintained that under perfect budgeting procedures and perfect political communication between the electors and the elected, the gadget would be superfluous - indeed, worse, it would almost certainly thwart the public will and jam the social utility calculator. On the other hand, it is contended that under imperfect arrangements, leaving pork barrels aside, the building of tax reserves against enormous pressures to expand public expenditures during periods of prosperity is a political impossibility.”

Author: Shere, Louis

Source: National Tax Journal, v. 6 n. 1, March 1953

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Year: 1955

Quote: “I do have some familiarity with modern high speed computing devices and other optical-electronic-mechanical techniques for handling information; and I have had some contacts with–and surely a lively interest in–the recent developments of communication theory” (613). The “patent office problem” is, to Weaver, “a fascinating instance of a rather common modern dilemma, namely, the essential collapse of a communication network due to over-complication; or somewhat more precisely, due to the use of an outmoded procedure which is not capable of coping with the presently existing degree of complication. This is, in fact, a dramatic instance of the situation not uncommon in the general world of scholarship, in which a vast and intricate tangle of documents gets jammed into an unusable pile between two minds” (613). “There are slightly less than three million U.S. Patents. If we add the foreign patents and the items of technical literature available in the Patent Office, the total swells to about seven million. The corresponding figure was only 1.2 million in 1900; and the patents of today average about one-third longer, and are certainly much more complex in their technical and scientific detail. In the terminology of modern communications theory, in which a ‘bit’ of information is the basic unit (essentially the answer to a single ‘Yes-No’ question), the total amount of information which must today be dealt with in the Patent office has been estimated to be of the order of fifty billion bits [CONVERT 50 BILLION BITS TO GB? 1 million GB? = 1,000 TB?] (614). Goes on to survey different kinds of “mechanical aids to data handling.” / A question of classification – beginning to work out the dimensions of a relational database: “When does a Document A exhibit inhibitory relevance to another Document B?” (619). * * * Is it unreasonable to think that, if one just looks deep enough with trained and observant eyes, he might see an inner logical simplicity behind all the confusing proliferation of things and ideas that turn up in the Patent Office? Just because of its emphasis on inner logical simplicity, and on generality to encompass multiplicity, the point of view of mathematics would seem to be the promising one here. How, for example, does one ever define ‘containers’ in the everyday nouns and adjectives of commerce in a way which is at once simple enough, general enough, and critical enough so that can possibly cope with the gadgets someone will think of tomorrow? But what object can anyone ever think up that will not be subject to the basic inner concepts of connectivity as they are developed in topology?” (621-2) Biological metaphor for an “organic sort” of classification system, “For it must be able to grow and to adjust itself to an ever changing environment.” (622). “I realize that I have succeeded in defining, in impersonal terms, Professor John von Neumann; and I also realize that the Atomic Energy Commission has him all booked up at the moment. But at least he proves that such leadership is not unthinkable.” (623)”

Author: Weaver, Warren

Source: ournal of the Patent Office Society. v. 37. 1955. p. 613.

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Year: 1966

Quote: “But if in the end this is the only benefit to be expected from the value added tax, it should be pointed out that electronic analysis of income tax data may provide the same information without a new tax gadget

Author: Forte, Francesco

Source: National Tax Journal, v. 19 n. 4 December 1966

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Year: 1985

Quote: “In the Surrey Papers of 1969 there were a variety of proposals to nibble at tax preferences, such as a proposal to allocate personal deductions between taxable and non-taxable income and a minimum tax. In one form or another gadget proposals of this sort have played a major role in tax legislation in recent years. The legislative defenders of various tax preferences saw the slight retreat of being subject to a limitation in tax preferences or a minimum tax as a key defense against further reforms. It kept Surrey from talk ing about rich people who paid no tax due to intangible drilling expenses, gifts of appreciated property, etc. … Up to 1984 the Surrey forecast in this area didn’t look good. All that the mini mum did was spawn more complicated gadget type tax reforms. Surrey’s argument was, however, a long-run argument and in 1985 the long run just may have arrived with a Republican Treasury beat ing the drums for Surrey-type tax re forms. While we write this paper the political heat against reform is building and the rumors are that Treasury will com promise with an expanded minimum tax.”

Author: Lubick, Donald and Gerard Brannon

Source: National Tax Journal, v. 38, n. 3, September 1985

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