August 16, 2018

Yacht Rock

Doobie Brothers

Yacht rock (originally known as the ‘West Coast Sound’) is a broad music style and aesthetic identified with soft rock. The term, coined in the 2000s by the makers of the online video series of the same name, was derived from its association with the popular Southern Californian leisure activity of sailing.

The term describes one of the commercially successful genres of its era, existing between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Drawing on sources such as smooth soul, smooth jazz, R&B, funk, and disco, common stylistic traits include high-quality production, clean vocals, and a focus on light, catchy melodies. The genre is often described as having ‘more emphasis on the melody than on the beat’ and ‘light emotions.’ Continue reading

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August 13, 2018

Little League Home Run

baseball error

Little League home run is a play in baseball during which a batter scores a run during his plate appearance with the aid of one or more errors committed by the fielding team.

It is so called because the play is presumably evocative of how young children in the process of learning how to play the sport frequently commit fielding and throwing errors that allow batters (as well as runners already on base during the at bat) to take more bases than they might otherwise normally take on the batted ball put into play. The term stems from Little League Baseball, founded in 1939 as an organizing body for local youth baseball and softball leagues throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Continue reading

August 7, 2018

Tim’s Vermeer

Hockney–Falco thesis

Tim’s Vermeer is a 2013 documentary film, directed by Teller (of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller), produced by his stage partner Penn Jillette and film producer Farley Ziegler, about inventor Tim Jenison’s efforts to duplicate the painting techniques of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, in order to test his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of optical devices.

Tim Jenison is the founder of NewTek, a company working in various fields of computer graphics, most notably the 3D modelling software ‘LightWave 3D.’ Jenison, himself both an engineer and art enthusiast, becomes fascinated with the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, the 17th-century Dutch painter, whose paintings have been described as having a photographic quality to them. Continue reading

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July 30, 2018

Lügenpresse

Fake News

Lügenpresse (lit: ‘lying press’) is a pejorative political term used largely by German political movements for the printed press and the mass media at large, when it is believed not to have the quest for truth at the heart of its coverage.

The Nazis adopted the term for their propaganda against the Jewish, communist, and later the foreign press. Continue reading

July 13, 2018

Henge

Stonehenge

A henge is neolithic earthwork featuring a ring bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank. Earthworks are artificial changes in land level, typically made from piles of artificially placed or sculpted rocks and soil. Earthworks can themselves be archaeological features, or they can show features beneath the surface

Due to the poor defensive utility of an enclosure with an external bank and an internal ditch, henges are not considered to have served a defensive purpose. England’s famed Stonehenge is an atypical henge in that the ditch is outside the main earthwork bank. Continue reading

July 4, 2018

Marc Maron

Marc Maron (b. 1963) is an American stand-up comedian, podcaster, writer and actor.

In 2009, Maron began hosting the twice-weekly podcast ‘WTF with Marc Maron’ where he interviews comedians, authors, musicians, and celebrities in his garage in Highland Park, Los Angeles. From 2013 to 2016, he starred and executive produced in his own IFC television comedy series, ‘Maron,’ a loosely autobiographical show, revolving around his life as a twice-divorced, sober comedian running a comedy podcast out of his garage. Since 2017, he has co-starred in the Netflix comedy series ‘GLOW.’ Continue reading

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June 7, 2018

Swan Song

led zeppelin

The swan song is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement. The phrase refers to an ancient belief that swans sing a beautiful song just before their death, having been silent (or alternatively, not so musical) during most of their lifetime. This belief, whose basis in actuality is long-debated, had become proverbial in ancient Greece by the 3rd century BCE, and was reiterated many times in later Western poetry and art.

In Greek mythology, the swan was a bird consecrated to Apollo and was therefore considered a symbol of harmony and beauty. Continue reading

May 29, 2018

Trust, But Verify

Reagan and Gorbachev by Terry Mosher

Trust, but verify is a Russian proverb that became well known in English when used by President Ronald Reagan on multiple occasions in the context of nuclear disarmament.

Suzanne Massie, an American author living in Russia, met with President Ronald Reagan many times between 1984 and 1987. She taught him the proverb, advising him that ‘The Russians like to talk in proverbs. It would be nice of you to know a few. You are an actor – you can learn them very quickly.’ The proverb was adopted as a signature phrase by Reagan, who subsequently used it frequently when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Using proverbs that the Russians could relate to may have helped relations between the two leaders. Continue reading

May 22, 2018

Mezcal

Mezcal (lit. ‘oven-cooked agave’) is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave plant native to Mexico. Agave, which is often misidentified as a variety of cactus, grows in many parts of Mexico, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca, a southern state. A Oaxacan expression regarding the drink is: ‘Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también.’ (‘For everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good as well.’)

It is unclear whether distilled drinks were produced in Mexico before the Spanish Conquest. The Spaniards were introduced to native fermented drinks such as pulque, a milky-looking, alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant (also known as agave americana). Soon, the conquistadors began experimenting with the agave plant to find a way to make a distillable fermented mash. The result was mezcal. Continue reading

May 15, 2018

Socks and Sandals

Kyle Gass Band

Wearing socks and sandals together is a controversial fashion combination and social phenomenon that is discussed in various countries and cultures. In some places it is considered a fashion faux pas.

The earliest evidence of wearing socks and sandals is documented at an archaeological site in England. The discovery suggests that old Romans wore socks with sandals at least 2,000 years ago. The earliest known surviving pair of socks were designed for use with sandals. Dating from 300–500, they were excavated from Oxyrhynchus on the Nile in Egypt. Continue reading

May 8, 2018

Flower Power

Levitate the Pentagon

Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. The expression was coined by the American beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles.

Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as ‘flower children.’ The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art, and social permissiveness. Continue reading

April 30, 2018

Sneakernet

El Paquete

Sneakernet is an informal term for the transfer of electronic information by physically moving media such as magnetic tape, floppy disks, compact discs, USB flash drives or external hard drives from one computer to another; rather than transmitting the information over a computer network. The term, a tongue-in-cheek play on net(work) as in Internet or Ethernet, refers to walking in sneakers as the transport mechanism for the data.

Also known as trainnets or pigeonets, these types of physically mediated networks are in use throughout the world. Sneakernets are used when data transfer is impractical due to bandwidth limitations or other reasons such as data security. This form of data transfer is also used for peer-to-peer (or friend-to-friend) file sharing and has grown in popularity in metropolitan areas and college communities. The ease of this system has been facilitated by the availability of USB external hard drives, USB flash drives and portable music players. Continue reading