September 21, 2016

Safe Space

pc principal

In educational institutions, safe-space (or safer-space or positive space) originally were terms used to indicate that a teacher, educational institution or student body does not tolerate anti-LGBT violence, harassment or hate speech, thereby creating a safe place for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. The term safe space has been extended to refer to a space for individuals who are marginalized to come together to communicate regarding their experiences with marginalization, typically on a university campus. It has been criticized for being contrary to freedom of speech.

In the U.S. the concept originated in the women’s movement, where it ‘implies a certain license to speak and act freely, form collective strength, and generate strategies for resistance…a means rather than an end and not only a physical space but also a space created by the coming together of women searching for community.’ The first safe spaces were gay bars and consciousness raising groups. Positive Space initiatives are prevalent in post-secondary institutions across Canada including McGill University and the University of Toronto. Continue reading

September 15, 2016

Seltzer

harry golden

selter

Carbonated water (also known as club soda, soda water, sparkling water, seltzer, fizzy water, or water with gas) is water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved. This process, known as carbonation, is a process that causes the water to become effervescent (form bubbles). Most carbonated water is sold in ready to drink bottles as mineral water and carbonated beverages such as soft drinks. However, it is rather easy to prepare at home with soda makers.

Whether homemade or store-bought, soda water may be identical to plain carbonated water or it may contain a small amount of table salt, sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, potassium sulfate, or disodium phosphate, depending on the bottler. These additives are often included to emulate the slightly salty taste soda water developed years ago from first using them as preservatives. Naturally occurring processes also produce effervescent mineral water similar to carbonated water in artesian wells, such as in Mihalkovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, in Medžitlija in Macedonia, or most notably in Selters in the German Taunus mountains. Continue reading

September 13, 2016

Three Wishes Joke

genie

the monkeys paw

The three wishes joke is a form of joke in which the protagonist is given three wishes by a supernatural being, and fails to make the best use of them. Common scenarios include releasing a genie from confinement – perhaps finding an old oil lamp and rubbing it; catching and agreeing to release a mermaid or magical fish; or crossing paths with the devil.

The protagonist of the joke makes their first two wishes and finds that all is well. Often, the third wish is either misinterpreted, or intentionally granted in an awkwardly literal fashion, and cannot be reversed because it is the final wish, resulting in the punchline of the joke. Alternatively, the wishes are split between three people, with the last person inadvertently or intentionally messing up or undoing the wishes of the others with their wish to form the punchline. Continue reading

September 6, 2016

Generation Jones

peace-symbol

strauss-howe

Generation Jones is a term coined by the author Jonathan Pontell to describe those born from approximately 1954 to 1965. This group is essentially the latter half of the ‘Baby Boomers’ to the first years of Generation X. The name has several connotations, including a large anonymous generation, a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ competitiveness, and the slang word ‘jones’ or ‘jonesing,’ meaning a yearning or craving.

It is said that Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the 1960s, and then confronted with a different reality as they came of age during a long period of mass unemployment. When de-industrialization arrived full force in the mid to late 1970s and 1980s, they were left with a certain unrequited ‘jonesing’ quality for the more prosperous days in the past.

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August 21, 2016

Efraim Diveroli

Arms and the dudes

Efraim Diveroli (b. 1985) was the founder of AEY Inc., a major weapons contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense that was prosecuted for violating an American arms embargo against China. In 2007, AEY provided 42-year-old substandard Chinese ammunition in ‘crumbling boxes’ that was re-branded and re-packaged. Documents showed that the company totaled more than $200 million in contracts to supply ammunition, assault rifles, and other weapons in 2007, despite the fact that his partner, David Packouz, and Diveroli were in their early 20s at the time.

As a result of the publicity surrounding the contract and the age of the arms dealers, the United States Army began a review of its contracting procedures. He was indicted on several dozen counts of fraud, and eventually pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy. He was sentenced to four years in federal prison. He is a subject of a 2016 Todd Phillips drama comedy film, ‘War Dogs,’ in which he is portrayed by Jonah Hill. The film was based on a ‘Rolling Stone’ article by Guy Lawson which he later adapted into a book titled ‘Arms and the Dudes.’ The film is heavily fictionalized and dramatized, and many of its events, such as the duo driving through Iraq, never took place. Continue reading

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August 17, 2016

Mom Jeans

barb by christian cimoroni

Mom jeans is a humorously pejorative term for a type of women’s jeans worn in the 80’s considered to be unfashionable and unflattering to the wearer’s figure. This style usually consists of a high waist (rising above the belly button), making the buttocks appear disproportionately longer, larger, and flatter than they otherwise might. It also tends to have excess space in the zipper/crotch and leg areas. The jeans are usually in a solid, light-blue color, with no form of stone washing or fading.

Other attributes of the style often seen are pleats, tapered legs, and elastic waistbands. The style is often accompanied by a blouse or shirt that is tucked into the jeans. This style of jeans was popular with women in the United States until the mid-1990s, when lower rise jeans started to become fashionable. High-waisted jeans became popular with young fashionable women once again in the early 2010s. Continue reading

August 14, 2016

Rock Paper Scissors

rps

spock lizard by JDPD

Rock-paper-scissors (sometimes called ‘roshambo’) is a zero-sum hand game usually played between two people, in which each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. These shapes are ‘rock’ (fist), ‘paper’ (flat palm), and ‘scissors’ (a fist with the index and middle fingers together forming a V). Each beats one of the other two, and loses to the other (i.e. ‘paper covers rock, but ‘scissors cut paper,’ and ‘rock crushes scissors’).

The players usually count aloud to three, or speak the name of the game (e.g. ‘Rock Paper Scissors!’ or ‘Ro Sham Bo!’), each time either raising one hand in a fist and swinging it down on the count or holding it behind. They then ‘throw’ by extending it towards their opponent. If both players choose the same shape, the game is tied and is usually immediately replayed. The game is often used as a choosing method in a way similar to coin flipping, drawing straws, or throwing dice. Unlike truly random selection methods, however, rock-paper-scissors can be played with a degree of skill by exploiting non-random behavior in opponents. Continue reading

August 11, 2016

Hood Ornament

Lejeune

Spirit of Ecstasy

A hood ornament (‘bonnet ornament’ in the UK), ‘radiator cap,’ ‘motor mascot,’ or ‘car mascot’ is a specially crafted model which symbolizes a car company like a badge, located on the front center portion of the hood. It has been used as an adornment nearly since the inception of automobiles. According to ‘A History of Cars,’ the first ‘hood ornament’ was a sun-crested falcon (to bring good luck) mounted on Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s chariot.

In the early years, automobiles had their radiator caps outside of the hood and on top of the grille which also served as an indicator of the temperature of the engine’s coolant fluid. The Boyce MotoMeter Company was issued a patent in 1912 for a radiator cap that incorporated a thermometer that was visible to the driver with a sensor that measured the heat of the water vapor, rather than the water itself. This became a useful gauge for the driver because many early engines did not have water pumps, but a circulation system based on the ‘thermo-syphon’ principle as in the Ford Model T. The ‘exposed radiator cap became a focal point for automobile personalization.’ Continue reading

August 10, 2016

Toyetic

spaceballs

Toyetic is a term referring to the suitability of a media property, such as a cartoon or movie, for merchandising tie-in lines of licensed toys, games and novelties. The term is attributed to Bernard Loomis, a toy development executive for Kenner Toys, in discussing the opportunities for marketing the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ telling its producer Steven Spielberg that the movie wasn’t ‘toyetic’ enough, leading Loomis towards acquiring the lucrative license for the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ properties.

Although George Lucas wrote the ‘Star Wars’ saga without considering the toyetic potentials of the film, he insisted that he would keep the merchandising rights before the first film was released. 20th Century-Fox underestimated the potential of the film and allowed Lucas to do so, and the film turned out to be a toyetic phenomenon. The seven films have spawned a massive merchandising empire, with everything from toys, action figures, and video games to non-toy merchandise, such as beer steins, spoons, and replicas of the lightsaber hilts. Continue reading

August 2, 2016

Charging Bull

occupy wall street by Sassan Filsoof

Charging Bull, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘Wall Street Bull’ or the ‘Bowling Green Bull’ is a bronze sculpture, that stands in Bowling Green Park in the Financial District in Manhattan. Originally guerilla art, by Arturo Di Modica, its popularity led to it being a permanent feature.

The 7,100 lb sculpture stands 11 feet tall and measures 16 feet long. The bull’s testicles are 10 inches in diameter, weighing 107 pounds each. The oversize sculpture depicts a bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, leaning back on its haunches and with its head lowered as if ready to charge. The sculpture is both a popular tourist destination which draws thousands of people a day, as well as ‘one of the most iconic images of New York’ and a ‘Wall Street icon’ symbolizing Wall Street and the Financial District. Continue reading

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August 1, 2016

Will It Play In Peoria?

groucho

Will it play in Peoria?‘ is a figure of speech that is traditionally used to ask whether a given product, person, promotional theme, or event will appeal to mainstream (also called ‘Main Street’) America, or across a broad range of demographic and psychographic groups. The phrase was popularized during the vaudeville era and in movies by Groucho Marx. The belief was that if a new show was successful in Peoria, a main Midwestern stop for vaudeville acts, it would be successful anywhere.

Jack Mabley, writing in the ‘Chicago Tribune,’ concluded that ‘if it plays in Peoria it has good taste,’ but a more apt meaning is, according to James C. Ballowe, former dean of Peoria’s Bradley University graduate school, that ‘Peoria is a tough audience.’ The phrase subsequently was adopted by politicians, pollsters, and promoters to question the potential mainstream acceptance of anything new. Continue reading

July 31, 2016

Mascot

Phanatic by Mike Jackson

A mascot is any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck, or anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name. Mascots are also used as fictional, representative spokespeople for consumer products, such as the rabbit used in advertising and marketing for the General Mills brand of breakfast cereal, Trix. Costumed mascots are commonplace, and are regularly used as goodwill ambassadors in the community for their team, company, or organization such as the U.S. Forest Service’s ‘Smokey Bear.’

In the world of sports, mascots are also used for merchandising. Team mascots are often confused with team nicknames. While the two can be interchangeable, they are not always the same. For example, the athletic teams of the University of Alabama are nicknamed the ‘Crimson Tide,’ while their mascot is an elephant named ‘Big Al.’ Team mascots may take the form of a logo, person, live animal, inanimate object, or a costumed character, and often appear at team matches and other related events, sports mascots are often used as marketing tools for their teams to children. Continue reading