September 5, 2017

Pseudo-anglicism

Spanglish

Pseudo-anglicisms are words in languages other than English which were borrowed from English but are used in a way native English speakers would not readily recognize or understand.

Pseudo-anglicisms often take the form of compound words, combining elements of multiple English words to create a new word that appears to be English but is unrecognizable to a native speaker. It is also common for a genuine English word to be used to mean something completely different from its original meaning. Continue reading

September 1, 2017

The Exception Proves the Rule

All models are wrong

The exception [that] proves the rule‘ is a saying whose meaning has been interpreted or misinterpreted in various ways. Its true, or at least original, meaning is that the presence of an exception applying to a specific case establishes (‘proves’) that a general rule exists.

For example, a sign that says ‘parking prohibited on Sundays’ (the exception) ‘proves’ that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week (the rule). A more explicit phrasing might be ‘the exception indicates the existence of the rule.’ Continue reading

August 18, 2017

Virtue Signalling

Slacktivism

Virtue signalling is the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing within a social group. The concept arose in signalling theory (the study of intraspecies communication), to describe any behavior that could be used to signal virtue—especially piety among the religious.

Since 2015, the term has become more commonly used as a pejorative characterization by commentators to criticize what they regard as the platitudinous, empty, or superficial support of certain political views, and also used within groups to criticize their own members for valuing outward appearance over substantive action. This more recent usage of the term has been criticized for misusing the concept of signalling and encouraging lazy thinking. Continue reading

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August 12, 2017

Mission Creep

Black Hawk Down

Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. It is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, stopping only when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.

The term was originally applied exclusively to military operations, but has recently been applied to many different fields. It first appeared in 1993, in a ‘Washington Post’ article concerning the UN peacekeeping mission during the Somali Civil War. Continue reading

August 3, 2017

Nominative Determinism

Implicit egotism

Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names. The term was first used in the magazine ‘New Scientist’ in 1994, after its humorous ‘Feedback’ column noted several studies carried out by researchers with remarkably fitting surnames.

These included a book on polar explorations by Daniel Snowman and an article on urology by researchers named Splatt and Weedon. These and other examples led to light-hearted speculation that some sort of psychological effect was at work. Continue reading

July 25, 2017

Ceramic

Kiln

Ceramic is the name for materials that are formed by the use of heat. The word ‘ceramic’ comes from the Greek word ‘keramikos’ (‘of pottery’). Ceramics broadly refers to all inorganic non-metallic materials which are formed by the action of heat. Up to the 1950s or so, the most important were the traditional clays, made into pottery, bricks, tiles and the like, also cements (binders that set and harden) and glass. A composite material of ceramic and metal is known as ‘cermet.’ Ceramic materials are typically hard, porous, and brittle.

Ceramic products are usually divided into four sectors: Structural (e.g. bricks, pipes, floor and roof tiles), Refractories (e.g. kiln linings, gas fire radiants, steel and glass making crucibles), Whitewares (e.g. tableware, wall tiles, decorative art objects and sanitary ware), and Technical ceramics (e.g. space shuttle heat shield tiles, gas burner nozzles, bullet-proof vests, nuclear fuel uranium oxide pellets, bio-medical implants, jet engine turbine blades, and missile nose cones). Continue reading

July 20, 2017

Daedalus

Labyrinth

In Greek mythology, Daedalus [ded-l-uhs] (lit. ‘cunningly wrought’) was a skillful craftsman and artist in Greek mythology associated with the island of Crete, especially the labyrinth he built there to contain the Minotaur (part man, part bull). He is the father of Icarus (who flew too close the sun on wings his father designed), the uncle of Perdix (the mythological inventor of the saw), and possibly also the father of Iapyx (an Apollonian healer who aided Troy in the Trojan War).

Daedalus’ parentage was supplied as a later addition to the mythos, with numerous figures reported as his mother and father. Athenians rewrote Cretan Daedalus to make him Athenian-born, the grandson of the ancient king Erechtheus, claiming that Daedalus fled to Crete after killing his nephew Talos. Continue reading

July 13, 2017

Herman Miller

Action Office

Herman Miller, Inc., based in Zeeland, Michigan, is a major American manufacturer of office furniture, equipment and home furnishings. It is notable as one of the first companies to produce modern furniture and, under the guidance of Design Director George Nelson, is likely the most prolific and influential producer of furniture of the modernist style. Among classic Herman Miller products are the Equa chair, Aeron chair, Noguchi table, Marshmallow sofa, and the Eames Lounge Chair.

Herman Miller is credited with the invention of the office cubicle (originally known as the ‘Action Office II’) in 1968 under then-director of research Robert Propst. Herman Miller holds a unique position among furniture manufacturers for having cultivated the talents of a large number of modernist designers, producing a significant number of pieces that are now considered icons of industrial design. Continue reading

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June 26, 2017

Charles and Ray Eames

Eames Aluminum Group

Charles (1907–1978) and Ray Eames (1912–1988) were husband and wife American designers who made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture. Among their most well-known designs is the ‘Eames Lounge Chair.’ They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art, and film.

Charles was an American designer, architect and filmmaker. He and his second wife Ray Kaiser are responsible for groundbreaking contributions in the field of architecture, furniture design, industrial design, manufacturing and the photographic arts. Continue reading

June 21, 2017

Bourbon Whiskey

Pappy Van Winkle

Bourbon [boor-buhn] whiskey is a type of American whiskey, a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name is ultimately derived from the French Bourbon dynasty, although it is unclear precisely what inspired the whiskey’s name (contenders include Bourbon County in Kentucky and Bourbon Street in New Orleans).

Bourbon has been distilled since the 18th century. The use of the term ‘bourbon’ for the whiskey has been traced to the 1820s, and the term began to be used consistently in Kentucky in the 1870s. While bourbon may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the American South, and with Kentucky in particular. Continue reading

June 20, 2017

His Master’s Voice

nipper

His Master’s Voice (HMV) is a famous trademark in the music and recording industry and was for many years the unofficial name of a large British record label. The name was coined in the 1890s as the title of a painting by English artist Francis Barraud of a dog named ‘Nipper,’ listening to a wind-up gramophone. In the original painting, the dog was listening to a cylinder phonograph. In the 1970s, a bronze statue of the dog and gramophone was awarded by the record company (EMI) to artists and or music producers and or composers as a Music Award and often only after selling more than 100,000 LP’s.

The original painting was acquired from the original artist in 1899 by the newly formed Gramophone Company and adopted by the Victor Talking Machine Company in the United States. According to contemporary Gramophone Company publicity material, the dog, a terrier, had originally belonged to Francis Barraud’s brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark’s voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas. Continue reading

June 8, 2017

Schedule Chicken

Chicken

Schedule chicken is a concept described in project management and software development circles where when two or more parties working towards a common goal all claim to be holding to their original schedules for delivering their part of the work, while knowing those schedules are impossible to meet. Each party hopes the other will be the first to have their failure exposed and thus take all of the blame for the larger project being delayed. This pretense continually moves forward past one project checkpoint to the next, possibly continuing right up until the functionality is actually due.

The practice of schedule chicken often results in contagious schedule slips due to the inter team dependencies and is difficult to identify and resolve, as it is in the best interest of each team not to be the first bearer of bad news. The psychological drivers underlining the ‘Schedule Chicken’ behavior are related to the ‘Hawk-Dove’ or ‘Snowdrift’ model of conflict used by players in game theory. The term derives from the game of chicken played between drivers, as depicted in the movie ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ in which two drivers race their hot-rods towards a cliff edge. The first driver to jump out of the car is labeled a ‘chicken,’ while the one closest to the edge wins bragging rights.