[Ads-l] "boiling the oceans"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 1 21:20:19 UTC 2021

Thanks for an interesting topic, Andy. Will Rogers died on August 15,
1935. A quick search indicates that several newspapers printed a piece
crediting him with the comical idea by August 26, 1935. Maybe someone
can find earlier evidence.

[ref] 1935 August 26, El Paso Herald-Post, Just the Rough Idea, Quote
Page 4, Column 1, El Paso, Texas. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
All of which reminds of a story attributed to Will Rogers. It seems
that back in 1917 when the United States was wrestling with the
problem of how to prevent German submarines from sinking U.S. ships,
Will offered to tell the navy what to do.

"It Is a well known fact," he said, "that no submarine can exist in
boiling water. So boil the ocean."

"Don't ask me how to do that," Will continued. "I'm just a cowboy. I
merely furnish the rough idea. You polish her off."
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 10:29 AM Andy Bach <afbach at gmail.com> wrote:
> from: NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL Supreme Court Brief (12/1/2021 edition)
> "Boiling the Oceans"
> In the first argument yesterday morning, Cummings v. Premier Keller Rehab,
> the justices wrestled with whether emotional distress damages are available
> under the Rehabilitation Act and the Affordable Care Act.
> The justices appeared to be leaning in favor of the petitioner, a deaf and
> partially blind woman. Her attorney Andrew Rozynski of New York's Eisenberg
> & Baum received a particularly strong assist from Assistant to the U.S.
> Solicitor General Colleen Sinzdak, a former Hogan Lovells partner.
> Sinzdak, who faced Kannon Shanmugam of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton &
> Garrison, offered a colorful moment when she said Shanmugam and his amici
> must have been "boiling the oceans" in search of examples of exorbitant
> awards with respect to emotional distress damages "and they're not finding
> them."
> The phrase, according to some sources, usually means to call someone out
> for taking on an impossible task given the resources or information
> available. Less likely given her age, Sinzdak also may have been channeling
> American humorist Will Rogers, according to another source of the phrase.
> During World War I, Rogers reportedly suggested boiling the ocean as a way
> to deal with German submarines. "You just boil the oceans. The U-boats will
> turn pink and pop to the surface," he is alleged to have said. When asked
> how to actually boil the oceans, he just said he never worries about the
> details.
> --
> a
> Andy Bach,
> afbach at gmail.com
> 608 658-1890 cell
> 608 261-5738 wk
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list