February 13, 2019

Kakistocracy

Drain the swamp

kakistocracy [kak-uh-stok-ruh-see] is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. The word is derived from two Greek words, ‘kakistos’ (‘worst’) and ‘kratos’ (‘rule’).

The word was coined as early as the seventeenth century. It also was used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant use in the first decades of the twenty-first century to criticize populist governments emerging in different democracies around the world. Continue reading

Tags:
February 5, 2019

Matcha

Way of Tea

Matcha [mah-chuh] is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is special in two aspects of farming and processing: the green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest and the stems and veins are removed in processing. During shaded growth, the plant Camellia sinensis produces more theanine and caffeine.

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha as hot tea and embodies a meditative spiritual style. In modern times, matcha has also come to be used to flavor and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery. Continue reading

Tags:
February 1, 2019

Ironman Triathlon

M Dot

An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run (for a total of 140.6 miles), raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

Most Ironman events have a limited time of 16 or 17 hours to complete the race, course dependent. The race typically starts at 7:00 a.m.; the mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4-mile swim is 9:20 a.m. (2 hours 20 minutes), the mandatory bike cut off time is 5:30 p.m. (8 hours 10 minutes), and the mandatory marathon cut off is midnight (6 hours 30 minutes). Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon within these time constraints is designated an Ironman. Continue reading

Tags:
January 28, 2019

Twin Films

A Bug's Life

Twin films are films with the same, or very similar, plot produced or released at the same time by two different film studios. The phenomenon can result from two or more production companies investing in similar scripts around the same time, resulting in a race to distribute the films to audiences.

Some attribute twin films to industrial espionage, the movement of staff between studios, or that the same screenplays are sent to several film studios before being accepted. Another possible explanation is if the films deal with topical issues, such as volcanic eruptions, reality television, terrorist attacks or significant anniversaries, resulting in multiple discovery of the concept. Continue reading

January 22, 2019

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is a weekly news-based radio panel show produced by WBEZ in Chicago and National Public Radio (NPR). On the program, panelists and contestants are quizzed in humorous ways about that week’s news.

The show is recorded in front of a live audience in Chicago at the Chase Auditorium beneath the Chase Tower on Thursday nights and typically airs weekend mornings. Continue reading

Tags:
January 17, 2019

The Market for Lemons

lemon law

The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism is a well-known 1970 paper by American economist George Akerlof which examines how the quality of goods traded in a market can degrade in the presence of information asymmetry between buyers and sellers, leaving only ‘lemons’ behind (cars or other products that are found to be defective only after they have been bought).

Akerlof’s paper shows how prices can determine the quality of goods traded on the market. Low prices drive away sellers of high-quality goods, leaving only lemons behind. In 2001, Akerlof, along with Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz, jointly received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, for their research on issues related to asymmetric information. Continue reading

January 8, 2019

Impossible Foods

heme

Impossible Foods Inc. is a company that develops plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy products. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, the company aims to give people the taste and nutritional benefits of meat without the negative health and environmental impacts associated with livestock products.

The company researches animal products at the molecular level, then selects specific proteins and nutrients from plants to recreate the experience of meats and dairy products. Its signature product, the Impossible Burger, was launched in 2016. Continue reading

Tags:
January 6, 2019

Super Dave Osborne

Bob Einstein

Super Dave Osborne was a character created and played by comedian Bob Einstein. Einstein’s comedic depiction is of a naive but optimistic stuntman who frequently appears injured when his stunts go spectacularly wrong.

Super Dave is billed as an ‘accomplished’ stuntman, though he rarely succeeds when performing the stunts depicted on-screen. Typically the character will perform outrageous daredevil stunts which often go disastrously awry and result in the appearance of grievous bodily injury. These include such mishaps as riding inside the hub of a giant yo-yo suspended from a crane (the yo-yo broke free of its string and rolled off a cliff into a ravine) and being flung by a catapult inside a giant football (the catapult malfunctioned and ‘spiked’ the football instead of throwing it). After such a mishap, Super Dave would usually appear torn apart, stretched, or otherwise injured. Continue reading

Tags:
January 5, 2019

Gadfly

Plato Apology

gadfly is a person who interferes with the status quo of a society or community by posing novel, potently upsetting questions, usually directed at authorities. The term is originally associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, in his defense when on trial for his life.

The term ‘gadfly’ was used by Plato in the ‘Apology’ to describe Socrates’s relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse. The word may be uttered in a pejorative sense or be accepted as a description of honorable work or civic duty. Continue reading

Tags:
January 4, 2019

Penny-farthing

Penny-farthing

The penny-farthing, also known as a ‘high wheel,’ ‘high wheeler,’ and ‘ordinary,’ was the first machine to be called a ‘bicycle.’ It was popular in the 1870s and 1880s, with its large front wheel providing high speeds (owing to it travelling a large distance for every rotation of the legs) and comfort (the large wheel also provides greater shock absorption). Although the trend was short-lived, the penny-farthing became a symbol of the late Victorian era. Its popularity also coincided with the birth of cycling as a sport.

It became obsolete from the late 1880s with the development of modern bicycles, which provided similar speed amplification via chain-driven gear trains and comfort through pneumatic tyres, and were marketed in comparison to penny-farthings as ‘safety bicycles’ due to the reduced danger of falling and the reduced height to fall from. Continue reading

Tags:
January 2, 2019

Pennsyltucky

Santorum

Pennsyltucky is a slang portmanteau of the state names Pennsylvania and Kentucky. It is used to characterize—usually humorously, but sometimes deprecatingly—the rural part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania outside the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, more specifically applied to the local people and culture of its mountainous central Appalachian region.

The term is used more generally to refer to the Appalachian region, particularly its central core, which runs from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, and its people. An actual connection between the two regions was formed after numbers of Western Pennsylvanians left the state for Kentucky following the Whiskey Rebellion. Continue reading

Tags:
December 30, 2018

The Negro Motorist Green Book

The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African-American roadtrippers. It was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against non-whites was widespread.

Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited black car ownership, the emerging African-American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could, but faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest. In response, Green wrote his guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans, eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of North America, as well as founding a travel agency. Continue reading

Tags: