May 22, 2017

Phenakistiscope

Joseph Plateau

The phenakistiscope [fen-uh-kiss-tuh-skohp] was the first widespread animation device that created a fluent illusion of motion. The phenakistiscope is regarded as one of the first forms of moving media entertainment that paved the way for the future motion picture and film industry. It is sometimes compared to GIF animation since both show a short continuous loop.

A phenakisticope usually comes in the form of a spinning cardboard disc attached vertically to a handle. Arrayed radially around the disc’s center are a series of pictures showing sequential phases of the animation. Small rectangular apertures are spaced evenly around the rim of the disc. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the images reflected in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images keeps them from simply blurring together, so that the user can see a rapid succession of images that appear to be a single moving picture. Continue reading

May 5, 2017

McCollough Effect

Celeste McCollough

The McCollough effect is a phenomenon of human visual perception discovered by American psychologist Celeste McCollough in 1965 in which colorless gratings appear colored contingent on the orientation of the gratings. It is an aftereffect requiring a period of induction to produce it. For example, if someone alternately looks at a red horizontal grating and a green vertical grating for a few minutes, a black-and-white horizontal grating will then look greenish and a black-and-white vertical grating will then look pinkish.

The effect is remarkable because it is very long-lasting. McCollough originally reported that aftereffects may last for an hour or more, but they can persist much longer. A 1975 study found that 15 minutes of induction can lead to an effect lasting three and a half months. Continue reading

April 24, 2017

Gary Anderson

Recycling symbol

Container Corporation of America

Gary Anderson (b. 1947) is an influential graphic designer and architect. He is most well known as the designer of the ‘recycling symbol,’ one of the most readily recognizable logos in the world. His contribution to modern graphic design has been compared to those of early pioneering modernists such as Herbert Bayer. His design for a symbol to embody the concept of recycling has been compared to iconic trademarks such as those for Coca-Cola and Nike.

It has been called one of America’s ‘most important design icons’ and has helped to encourage global recycling. In some countries, such as the UK, the symbol carries such implicit meaning that it requires government permission to be used. Although the symbol is the most widely known of his accomplishments, Anderson has also made important contributions in the areas of urban planning and urban development. Continue reading

April 17, 2017

Idiot Plot

Burn After Reading

In literary criticism, an idiot plot is ‘a plot which is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot’ and where the story would otherwise be over if this were not the case. It is a narrative where its conflict comes from characters not recognizing, or not being told, key information that would resolve the conflict, often because of plot contrivance.

The only thing that prevents the conflict’s resolution is the character’s constant avoidance or obliviousness of it throughout the plot, even if it was already obvious to the viewer, so the characters are all ‘idiots’ in that they are too obtuse to simply resolve the conflict immediately. Continue reading

April 10, 2017

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

Partnership for a Drug Free America

This Is Your Brain on Drugs was a large-scale US anti-narcotics campaign by Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) launched in 1987, that used three televiztelevised public service announcements (PSAs) and a related poster campaign.

The 30-second version of the first PSA shows a man in a starkly furnished apartment who asks if there is anyone out there who still doesn’t understand the dangers of drug abuse. He holds up an egg and says, ‘This is your brain,’ before motioning to a frying pan and adding, ‘This is drugs.’ He then cracks open the egg, fries the contents, and says, ‘This is your brain on drugs.’ Finally he looks up at the camera and asks, ‘Any questions?’

 

 

 

 

April 4, 2017

Barkley Marathons

Gary Lazarus Lake Cantrell

The Barkley Marathons is an ultramarathon trail race held in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee. Runners may elect a ‘fun run’ of 60 miles or the full course of 100 miles. The race is limited to a 60-hour period, and takes place in late March or early April of each year.

With 54,200 feet of accumulated vertical climb, the 100-mile run is considered to be one of the more challenging ultramarathons held in the United States, if not the world. In some years, no one has completed the entire course. The Barkley starts any time from midnight to noon on race day, with one hour till race start signaled by blowing a conch. The race officially begins when a cigarette is lit by the race director. Continue reading

March 13, 2017

Absurdism

myth of sisyphus

Absurdism is a type of philosophy centered on the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. The conflict itself is called ‘the absurd,’ by absurdist philosophers.

Absurdists, most notably French philosopher Albert Camus, believe that when human beings realize this fundamental absurdity the most sensible response was to  accept the absurd, and also to keep trying to overcome it. He believed that a human being could become happy by finding meaning in their relationship with the absurdity of their existence. In acknowledging the absurdity of seeking any inherent meaning, but continuing this search regardless, one can be happy, gradually developing meaning from the search alone. Continue reading

March 7, 2017

Bicycle Pedal

Shimano Pedaling Dynamics

The bicycle pedal is the part of a bicycle that the rider pushes with their foot to propel the bicycle. It provides the connection between the cyclist’s foot or shoe and the bike’s drivetrain. The rider pushes the pedals, which turns the crank arms, which power the gearset, which propels the wheels.

Pedals usually consist of a spindle that threads into the end of a crank arm and a body, on which the foot rests or is attached, that is free to rotate on bearings with respect to the spindle. Continue reading

February 28, 2017

Loyalty Business Model

loyalty card

Net Promoter

The loyalty business model is a business model used in strategic management in which company resources are employed so as to increase the loyalty of customers and other stakeholders in the expectation that corporate objectives will be met or surpassed.

Customers are said to have a ‘zone of tolerance’ corresponding to a range of service quality between ‘barely adequate’ and ‘exceptional.’ A single disappointing experience may not significantly reduce the strength of the business relationship if the customer’s overall perception of quality remains high, if switching costs are high, if there are few satisfactory alternatives, if they are committed to the relationship, and if there are bonds keeping them in the relationship. Continue reading

February 26, 2017

Contrarian

SuperFreakonomics

A contrarian is a person that takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be. A contrarian investing style is one that is based on identifying, and speculating against, movements in stock prices that reflect changes in the sentiments of the majority of investors.

Contrarian journalism is characterised by articles and books making counterintuitive claims, or attacking what is said to be the conventional wisdom (a phrase attributed to Canadian economist and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith) on a given topic. A typical contrarian trope takes the form, ‘everything you know about topic X is wrong.’ Continue reading

February 23, 2017

Buck Buck

buck buck

Buck buck (also known as ‘Johnny-on-the-Pony’) is a children’s game with several variants. A very physical version of the game involves one group of players that huddles together. An opposing team of players climbs on their backs and attempts to make the pile collapse.

A less violent version has a player climbing on an opponent’s back and guessing the number of certain objects that are out of sight. As early as the 16th century, children in Europe and the Near East played Buck, Buck, which had been called ‘Bucca Bucca quot sunt hic?’ Pieter Bruegel’s painting “Children’s Games” (1560) depicts children playing a variant of the game. Continue reading

February 21, 2017

Vatnik

vatnik

Vatnik (Russian: ‘cotton-padded jacket’), a derivative of and often shortened to ‘vata’ (Russian: ‘batting’), is a derogatory social slang neologisms in Russian and Ukrainian languages, and an internet meme used in reference to individuals with pro-Russian jingoist and chauvinist views. In the original meaning, ‘vatnik’ (also ‘telogreika’) is a cheap cotton-padded jacket.

The meme was created by Anton Chadskiy under the pseudonym ‘Jedem das Seine.’ His associated picture of an anthropomorphic square-shaped quilted jacket similar to the cartoon character ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ was first posted on Russian social network ‘VK’ September 9, 2011. The meme went viral in 2012, but became much more widespread in society after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine started in 2014. Chadskiy, claiming he feared political persecution, left Russia in late 2014. Continue reading

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