May 29, 2016

The Far Side

gary larson

The Far Side‘ is a single-panel comic created by Gary Larson and syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, which ran from January 1, 1980, to January 1, 1995. Its surrealistic humor is often based on uncomfortable social situations, improbable events, an anthropomorphic view of the world, logical fallacies, impending bizarre disasters, (often twisted) references to proverbs, or the search for meaning in life. Larson’s frequent use of animals and nature in the comic is popularly attributed to his background in biology. The series was preceded by a similar panel called ‘Nature’s Way,’ also by Larson.

Most of Larson’s comics relied on some combination of a visual and verbal gag, rather than just one or the other. Some recurring themes in the comic include people being stranded on desert islands, aliens, heaven, hell, and the life of cavemen. Many cartoons focused on animals, especially cows, bears, dogs, flies, and ducks. Notably, virtually all characters portrayed in the comic were overweight or obese, and usually wearing glasses. In addition, unless needed for a facial or comic expression, eyes are almost never drawn and characters usually show only a brow ridge.

 

 

 

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May 28, 2016

Pygmalion Effect

Clever Hans

The Pygmalion effect, or ‘Rosenthal effect,’ is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. The effect is named after the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had carved. By the Pygmalion effect, people internalize their positive labels, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly. A corollary of the Pygmalion effect is the ‘golem effect,’ in which low expectations lead to a decrease in performance.

Psychologists Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson’s first showed that, if teachers were led to expect enhanced performance from children, then the children’s performance was enhanced. This study supported the hypothesis that reality can be positively or negatively influenced by the expectations of others, the ‘observer-expectancy effect.’ Rosenthal theorized that biased expectancies could affect reality and create self-fulfilling prophecies (predictions that directly or indirectly cause themselves to become true)

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May 24, 2016

Gay Mafia

gay steamroller by the oatmeal

rso

The ‘Gay Mafia‘ and the ‘Velvet Mafia’ are pejorative terms for the expansion of gay rights groups in politics, media, and everyday life. The terms are typically associated with a perceived ‘elite’ within the fashion and entertainment industries; although they are also used ironically by gay people themselves.

An early use of the term was when English critic Kenneth Tynan proposed an article to ‘Playboy’ editor AC Spectorsky in late 1967 on the ‘Homosexual Mafia’ in the arts. Spectorsky declined, although he admitted that ‘culture hounds were paying homage to ‘faggotismo’ as they have never done before.’ Playboy would run a panel on gay issues in 1971. Continue reading

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May 23, 2016

Social Justice Warrior

gamergate

Sarkeesian

Social justice warrior (commonly abbreviated ‘SJW’) is a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views, including advocacy for women’s rights, identity politics, multiculturalism and civil rights. The motivation for using the term has been described as being an effort to degrade the motivations of the person accused of being an SJW, implying that their motives are ‘for personal validation rather than out of any deep-seated conviction.’

Gamergate is a blanket term for a controversy involving sexism and progressivism in video game culture, stemming from a harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the Twitter hashtags #GamerGate and #SJW. ‘Vice’ observed: ‘It’s awfully convenient to have a term at the ready to dismiss women who bring up sexism.’ The magazine assessed the problematic use of the term: ‘The problem is, that’s not a real category of people. It’s simply a way to dismiss anyone who brings up social justice—and often those people are feminists.’ Continue reading

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May 20, 2016

Beckoning Cat

lucky cat by Molly Brooks

The maneki-neko (Japanese: ‘beckoning cat’) is a common Japanese figurine (lucky charm, talisman) which is often believed to bring good luck to the owner. In modern times, they are usually made of ceramic or plastic. The figurine depicts a cat (traditionally a calico Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed in—often at the entrance of—shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses. Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning. The maneki-neko is sometimes also called the ‘welcoming cat,’ ‘lucky cat,’ ‘money cat,’ ‘happy cat,’ or ‘fortune cat’ in English.

Maneki-neko come in different variations. Common colors are white, black, gold and sometimes red. In addition to figurines, maneki-neko can be found as keychains, piggy banks, air fresheners, house-plant pots, and miscellaneous ornaments, as well as large statues. It is also sometimes called the ‘Chinese lucky cat’ due to its popularity among Chinese merchants. Continue reading

May 18, 2016

Late Bloomer

ugly duckling by Heng Swee Lim

late bloomer is a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others or do not manifest until later than usual. The term is used metaphorically to describe a child or adolescent who develops slower than others in their age group, but eventually catches up and in some cases overtakes their peers, or an adult whose talent or genius in a particular field only appears later in life than is normal – in some cases only in old age.

A notable example of a child who overcame early developmental problems is Albert Einstein, who suffered from speech difficulties as a young child. Other late-talking children who became highly successful engineers, mathematicians, and scientists include physicists Richard Feynman and Edward Teller. Neuroscientist Steven Pinker postulates that a certain form of language delay may in fact be associated with exceptional and innate analytical prowess in some individuals. Continue reading

May 16, 2016

Muk-bang

Choi Ji-hwan

Muk-bang (Korean: ‘eating broadcast’) is a type of performance in which a host eats large quantities of food, while interacting with their audience. Usually done through a webcast (such streaming platforms include Afreeca), muk-bang became popular in South Korea in the 2010s. Foods ranging from pizza to noodles are consumed in front of a camera for an unknown audience who pay to watch the individual eat. In each broadcast, a host will often interact with their viewers through online chatrooms.

There are several genres of muk-bang, including ‘cook-bang’ (cooking and muk-bang). The idea of socializing with an audience remains the same however, the host would then eat what was cooked and eat it and describe to the audience what was consumed.

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May 9, 2016

Guerrilla Marketing

mooninite

taco liberty bell

Guerrilla marketing is an advertisement strategy concept designed for businesses to promote their products or services in an unconventional way with little budget to spend. This involves high energy and imagination focusing on grabbing the attention of the public in more personal and memorable level. Some large companies use unconventional advertising techniques, proclaiming to be guerrilla marketing but those companies will have larger budget and the brand is already visible. The main point of guerrilla marketing is that the activities are done exclusively on the streets or other public places, such as shopping centers, parks or beaches with maximum exposure.

The term and concept were first described by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book ‘Guerrilla Marketing.’ Traditional advertising media channels such as print, radio, television, and direct mail are falling out of fashion, forcing marketers and advertisers to look for new strategies to get their commercial messages to the consumer. Guerrilla marketing tries to create surprising and memorable experiences for potential consumer, to increases the likelihood that will tell their friends about it and via word of mouth. Continue reading

May 6, 2016

Bellwether

Swing State

Paul the Octopus

A bellwether is something that leads or indicates trends. The term is derived from the Middle English and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.

In politics, the term is more often applied in the passive sense to describe a geographic region where political tendencies match in microcosm those of a wider area, such that the result of an election in the former region might predict the eventual result in the latter. Continue reading

May 4, 2016

The Demolished Man

the demolished man

The Demolished Man,’ by Alfred Bester, is an American science fiction novel and inverted detective story, that was the first Hugo Award winner in 1953. The story is a police procedural set in a future where telepathy is common, although much of its effectiveness is derived from one individual having greater telepathic skill than another. In the 24th century, telepaths—’Espers’ (short for Extrasensory perception), colloquially known as ‘peepers’—are completely integrated into all levels of a class-based society.

Class 3 Espers, the most common, can detect only conscious thoughts at the time they are formed and are often employed as secretaries or administrators; Class 2 Espers can dig more deeply, to the pre-conscious level, detecting subliminal patterns, epiphanies and tenuous associations, and they are employed in the professional middle class—lawyers, managers, psychologists, etc. Class 1 Espers can detect all of the foregoing plus sub-conscious primitive urges, and they occupy only the highest levels of power in fields such as the police, government and medicine (such as psychiatry).

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May 3, 2016

Inverted Detective Story

Columbo by Paul Alexander

An inverted detective story, also known as a ‘howcatchem,’ is a murder mystery fiction structure in which the commission of the crime is shown or described at the beginning, usually including the identity of the perpetrator.

The story then describes the detective’s attempt to solve the mystery. There may also be subsidiary puzzles, such as why the crime was committed, but those are cleared up along the way. This format is the opposite of the more typical ‘whodunit,’ where all of the details of the crime and the perpetrator are not revealed until the story’s climax. Continue reading

May 1, 2016

Hack-a-Shaq

Shaq

Hack-a-Shaq is a basketball strategy initially instituted in NBA by the Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson to hinder the scoring ability of the opposing team by continuously committing fouls against opposing players with weak free throw percentages.

Nelson initially devised the strategy for use against the Chicago Bulls, specifically power forward Dennis Rodman, who was a poor free throw shooter. However, it ultimately became better-known for its implementation against center Shaquille O’Neal. The name of the strategy is sometimes altered to reflect the player being fouled, for example ‘Hack-a-Howard’ for Dwight Howard. Continue reading

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