March 30, 2020

Smurfette Principle

Smurfette

The Smurfette principle is the practice in media, such as film and television, to include only one woman in an otherwise entirely male ensemble. It establishes a male-dominated narrative, where the woman is the exception and exists only in reference to the men.

The term was coined by American poet and critic Katha Pollitt in 1991 in ‘The New York Times’: ‘Contemporary shows are either essentially all-male, like ‘Garfield,’ or are organized on what I call the ‘Smurfette principle’: a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined… The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.’ Continue reading

March 29, 2020

Maillard Reaction

Louis Camille Maillard

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. Seared steaks, fried dumplings, cookies, and other kinds of breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods undergo this reaction. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis (how the body combines amino acids to form proteins).

The reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning which typically proceeds rapidly from around 280 to 330 °F. Many recipes call for an oven temperature high enough to ensure that a Maillard reaction occurs. At higher temperatures, caramelization (the browning of sugars, a distinct process) and subsequently pyrolysis (final breakdown leading to burning) become more pronounced. Continue reading

March 28, 2020

CueCat

CueCat

The CueCat, styled :CueCat with a leading colon, is a cat-shaped handheld barcode reader that was given away free to Internet users starting in 2000 by the now-defunct Digital Convergence Corporation. It enabled a user to open a link to an Internet URL by scanning a barcode — called a ‘cue’ by Digital Convergence — appearing in an article or catalog or on some other printed matter.

The company asserted that the ability of the device to direct users to a specific URL, rather than a domain name, was valuable. In addition, television broadcasters could use an audio tone in programs or commercials that, if a TV was connected to a computer via an audio cable, acted as a web address shortcut. Continue reading

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March 25, 2020

Dark Tourism

Chernobyl Tour by Nik Neves

Dark tourism refers to travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy. The main attraction to dark locations is their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering.

While there is a long tradition of people visiting recent and ancient settings of death, such as travel to gladiator games in the Roman Colosseum, attending public executions by decapitation, and visiting the catacombs, this practice has been studied academically only relatively recently. Travel writers were the first to describe their tourism to deadly places. American political satirist and journalist P. J. O’Rourke called his travel to Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast in 1988 ‘holidays in hell’, or sociologist Chris Rojek talking about ‘black-spot’ tourism in 1993 or the ‘milking the macabre.’ Continue reading

March 23, 2020

Beer Distribution Game

Bullwhip effect

The beer distribution game (also known as the ‘beer game’) is a role-play simulation developed by MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1960s to reveal information sharing failures and typical coordination problems of a supply chain.

This game outlines the importance of information sharing, supply chain management, and collaboration throughout a supply chain process. Due to lack of information, suppliers, manufacturers, sales people and customers often have an incomplete understanding of what the real demand of an order is. Continue reading

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March 22, 2020

Umarell

Bologna

Umarell is a term in Bologna for men of retirement age who pass the time watching construction sites, especially roadworks – stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice.

It’s literal meaning is ‘little man’ and it is often pluralized in spelling by adding a final s (out of English influence). The wife of an umarell is called a ‘zdaura.’ Continue reading

March 19, 2020

Creative nonfiction

In Cold Blood

Creative nonfiction (also known as verfabula) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as academic or technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact but is not written to entertain based on prose style.

For a text to be considered creative nonfiction, it must be factually accurate, and written with attention to literary style and technique. ‘Ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction.’ Forms within this genre include biography, autobiography, memoir, diary, travel writing, food writing, literary journalism, chronicle, personal essays, and other hybridized essays. Continue reading

March 16, 2020

Weird Al Yankovic

UHF

Weird Al Yankovic (b.1959) is an American musical comedian whose humorous songs make light of popular culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts; original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts; and polka medleys of several popular songs, featuring his favored instrument, the accordion.

Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he has sold more than 12 million albums (as of 2007), recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and performed more than 1,000 live shows. His works have earned him five Grammy Awards and a further eleven nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States. Yankovic’s first top ten Billboard album (‘Straight Outta Lynwood’) and single (‘White & Nerdy’) were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career. Continue reading

March 6, 2020

Musica Universalis

Harmonices Mundi

The musica universalis (literally ‘universal music’), also called ‘music of the spheres’ or ‘harmony of the spheres,’ is an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, Moon, and planets—as a form of music. This ‘music’ is not thought to be audible, but rather a harmonic, mathematical, or religious concept.

The idea continued to appeal to scholars until the end of the Renaissance, influencing many kinds of scholars, including humanists. Further scientific exploration discovered orbital resonance in specific proportions in some orbital motion. Continue reading

March 4, 2020

Pigasus

Yippies

Pigasus was a 145-pound (66 kg) domestic pig who was nominated for President of the United States as a theatrical gesture by the Youth International Party in 1968, just before the opening of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The youth-oriented party (whose members were commonly called ‘Yippies’) was an anti-establishment and countercultural revolutionary group whose views were inspired by the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s, mainly the opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

Yippies were known for using dramatic theatrics in their demonstrations, and they used Pigasus as a way to mock the social status quo. At a rally announcing his candidacy, Pigasus was confiscated by Chicago policemen and several of his Yippie backers were arrested for disorderly conduct. Continue reading

March 2, 2020

Second Wind

runner's high

Second wind is a phenomenon in distance running, such as marathons or road running (as well as other sports), whereby an athlete who is out of breath and too tired to continue suddenly finds the strength to press on at top performance with less exertion.

The feeling may be similar to that of a ‘runner’s high.’ Some scientists believe the second wind to be a result of the body finding the proper balance of oxygen to counteract the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Others claim second winds are due to endorphin production. A second wind phenomenon is also seen in some medical conditions, such as glycogen storage disease type V. Continue reading

February 29, 2020

Chapo Trap House

The Chapo Guide to Revolution

Chapo Trap House is an American political podcast founded in 2016 and hosted by Will Menaker, Matt Christman, Felix Biederman, Amber A’Lee Frost, and Virgil Texas. The podcast became known for its left-wing contentious commentary in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The show is closely identified with Twitter culture and with the ‘dirtbag left,’ a term coined by Frost to refer to a style of left-wing political contentious discourse that eschews civility for its own sake in favor of subversive, populist vulgarity. The show is produced by Chris Wade and formerly by Brendan James. Continue reading

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