October 12, 2017

The Tramp

Modern Times

The Tramp (also known as ‘Charlot’ in several languages) was British actor Charlie Chaplin’s most memorable on-screen character and an icon in world cinema during the era of silent film. ‘The Tramp’ is also the title of a silent film starring Chaplin, which he wrote and directed in 1915.

The Tramp, as portrayed by Chaplin, is a childlike, bumbling but generally good-hearted character who is most famously portrayed as a vagrant who endeavors to behave with the manners and dignity of a gentleman despite his actual social status. However, while he is ready to take what paying work is available, he also uses his cunning to get what he needs to survive and escape the authority figures who will not tolerate his antics. Continue reading

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October 6, 2017

Eric Andre

The Eric Andre Show

Eric Andre (b. 1983) is an American actor, comedian, and television host. He is the creator, host, and co-writer of ‘The Eric Andre Show,’ a surreal parody of low-budget public-access talk shows that airs on ‘Adult Swim’ (a nighttime programming block on ‘Cartoon Network’). Andre also played ‘Mike’ on the ‘FXX’ comedy series ‘Man Seeking Woman.’

‘The Eric Andre Show’ premiered in 2012. The series is hosted along with comedian Hannibal Buress, who serves as André’s sidekick. The show was influenced, in part, by surreal spoof talk show ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast,’ a series that has previously aired on ‘Cartoon Network’ and later ‘Adult Swim.’ Continue reading

October 3, 2017

Whole Nine Yards

The Doom Pussy

The whole nine yards is a colloquial American phrase meaning ‘everything, the whole lot’ or, adjectivally, ‘all the way.’ Its origin is unknown and has been described by Yale University librarian Fred R. Shapiro as ‘the most prominent etymological riddle of our time.’

The Oxford English Dictionary finds the earliest published non-idiomatic use in an 1855 Indiana newspaper article. The earliest known idiomatic use of the phrase is from 1907 in southern Indiana. The phrase is related to the expression the ‘whole six yards,’ used around the same time in Kentucky and South Carolina. Both phrases are variations on the ‘whole ball of wax,’ first recorded in the 1880s. They are part of a family of expressions in which an odd-sounding item, such as ‘enchilada,’ ‘shooting match,’ ‘shebang,’ or ‘hog,’ is substituted for ‘ball of wax.’ The choice of the number nine may be related to the expression ‘To the nines’ (to perfection). Continue reading

September 5, 2017

Pseudo-anglicism

Spanglish

Pseudo-anglicisms are words in languages other than English which were borrowed from English but are used in a way native English speakers would not readily recognize or understand.

Pseudo-anglicisms often take the form of compound words, combining elements of multiple English words to create a new word that appears to be English but is unrecognizable to a native speaker. It is also common for a genuine English word to be used to mean something completely different from its original meaning. Continue reading

September 1, 2017

The Exception Proves the Rule

All models are wrong

The exception [that] proves the rule‘ is a saying whose meaning has been interpreted or misinterpreted in various ways. Its true, or at least original, meaning is that the presence of an exception applying to a specific case establishes (‘proves’) that a general rule exists.

For example, a sign that says ‘parking prohibited on Sundays’ (the exception) ‘proves’ that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week (the rule). A more explicit phrasing might be ‘the exception indicates the existence of the rule.’ Continue reading

August 18, 2017

Virtue Signalling

Slacktivism

Virtue signalling is the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing within a social group. The concept arose in signalling theory (the study of intraspecies communication), to describe any behavior that could be used to signal virtue—especially piety among the religious.

Since 2015, the term has become more commonly used as a pejorative characterization by commentators to criticize what they regard as the platitudinous, empty, or superficial support of certain political views, and also used within groups to criticize their own members for valuing outward appearance over substantive action. This more recent usage of the term has been criticized for misusing the concept of signalling and encouraging lazy thinking. Continue reading

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August 12, 2017

Mission Creep

Black Hawk Down

Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. It is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, stopping only when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.

The term was originally applied exclusively to military operations, but has recently been applied to many different fields. It first appeared in 1993, in a ‘Washington Post’ article concerning the UN peacekeeping mission during the Somali Civil War. Continue reading

August 3, 2017

Nominative Determinism

Implicit egotism

Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names. The term was first used in the magazine ‘New Scientist’ in 1994, after its humorous ‘Feedback’ column noted several studies carried out by researchers with remarkably fitting surnames.

These included a book on polar explorations by Daniel Snowman and an article on urology by researchers named Splatt and Weedon. These and other examples led to light-hearted speculation that some sort of psychological effect was at work. Continue reading

July 25, 2017

Ceramic

Kiln

Ceramic is the name for materials that are formed by the use of heat. The word ‘ceramic’ comes from the Greek word ‘keramikos’ (‘of pottery’). Ceramics broadly refers to all inorganic non-metallic materials which are formed by the action of heat. Up to the 1950s or so, the most important were the traditional clays, made into pottery, bricks, tiles and the like, also cements (binders that set and harden) and glass. A composite material of ceramic and metal is known as ‘cermet.’ Ceramic materials are typically hard, porous, and brittle.

Ceramic products are usually divided into four sectors: Structural (e.g. bricks, pipes, floor and roof tiles), Refractories (e.g. kiln linings, gas fire radiants, steel and glass making crucibles), Whitewares (e.g. tableware, wall tiles, decorative art objects and sanitary ware), and Technical ceramics (e.g. space shuttle heat shield tiles, gas burner nozzles, bullet-proof vests, nuclear fuel uranium oxide pellets, bio-medical implants, jet engine turbine blades, and missile nose cones). Continue reading

July 20, 2017

Daedalus

Labyrinth

In Greek mythology, Daedalus [ded-l-uhs] (lit. ‘cunningly wrought’) was a skillful craftsman and artist in Greek mythology associated with the island of Crete, especially the labyrinth he built there to contain the Minotaur (part man, part bull). He is the father of Icarus (who flew too close the sun on wings his father designed), the uncle of Perdix (the mythological inventor of the saw), and possibly also the father of Iapyx (an Apollonian healer who aided Troy in the Trojan War).

Daedalus’ parentage was supplied as a later addition to the mythos, with numerous figures reported as his mother and father. Athenians rewrote Cretan Daedalus to make him Athenian-born, the grandson of the ancient king Erechtheus, claiming that Daedalus fled to Crete after killing his nephew Talos. Continue reading

July 13, 2017

Herman Miller

Action Office

Herman Miller, Inc., based in Zeeland, Michigan, is a major American manufacturer of office furniture, equipment and home furnishings. It is notable as one of the first companies to produce modern furniture and, under the guidance of Design Director George Nelson, is likely the most prolific and influential producer of furniture of the modernist style. Among classic Herman Miller products are the Equa chair, Aeron chair, Noguchi table, Marshmallow sofa, and the Eames Lounge Chair.

Herman Miller is credited with the invention of the office cubicle (originally known as the ‘Action Office II’) in 1968 under then-director of research Robert Propst. Herman Miller holds a unique position among furniture manufacturers for having cultivated the talents of a large number of modernist designers, producing a significant number of pieces that are now considered icons of industrial design. Continue reading

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June 26, 2017

Charles and Ray Eames

Eames Aluminum Group

Charles (1907–1978) and Ray Eames (1912–1988) were husband and wife American designers who made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture. Among their most well-known designs is the ‘Eames Lounge Chair.’ They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art, and film.

Charles was an American designer, architect and filmmaker. He and his second wife Ray Kaiser are responsible for groundbreaking contributions in the field of architecture, furniture design, industrial design, manufacturing and the photographic arts. Continue reading