Archive for August, 2010

August 29, 2010

Mammon

Steal a Little by Heinrich Kley

Mammon [mam-uhn] is a term, derived from the Christian Bible, used to describe material wealth or greed, most often personified as a deity.

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August 25, 2010

Lenticular Printing

lenticular animation

Lenticular [len-tik-yuh-lerprinting is a technology in which a lenticular lens (an array of magnifying lenses, designed so that when viewed from slightly different angles, different images are magnified) is used to produce images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles. This technology was created in the 1940s but has evolved in recent years to show more motion and increased depth.

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August 25, 2010

Merkabah

The Hebrew word Merkabah is used in Ezekiel (1:4-26) to refer to the throne-chariot of God, the four-wheeled vehicle driven by four ‘chayot’  (‘living creatures’), each of which has four rings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle. Due to the concern of some Torah scholars that misunderstanding these passages as literal descriptions of God’s image might lead to blasphemy and/or idolatry, there was great opposition to studying this topic.

Jewish biblical commentaries emphasize that the imagery of the Merkaba is not meant to be taken literally; rather the chariot and its accompanying angels are analogies for the various ways that God reveals Himself in this world. Hasidic philosophy and Kabbalah discuss at length what each aspect of this vision represents in this world, and how the vision does not imply that God is made up of these forms. Jews customarily read the Biblical passages concerning the Merkaba in their synagogues every year on the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Ten Commandments.

August 25, 2010

Ming the Merciless

ming

Ming the Merciless is a fictional character who first appeared in the Flash Gordon comic strip in 1934. He has since been the main villain of the strip and its related movie serials, TV shows and film adaptation. The capital of his empire is named ‘Mingo City’ in his honour. In addition to his army, Ming has access to a wide variety of science fiction gadgets, ranging from rocket ships to death rays to robots.

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August 25, 2010

Xenu

xenu

wwxd

Xenu [zee-noo] was, according to the founder of Scientology and science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the dictator of the ‘Galactic Confederacy’ who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology dogma holds that the essences of these many people remained, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm.

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August 25, 2010

Gondwana

gondwana

gondwana

Gondwana [gond-wah-nu], originally Gondwanaland, is the name given to a southern precursor supercontinent. Its final geological suturing occurred between ca. 570 and 510 million years ago, joining East Gondwana to West Gondwana. It later separated from Laurasia 180-200 million years ago during the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent that existed about 500 to 200 million years ago into two large segments, nearly equal in area. The continent of Gondwana was named by Austrian scientist, Eduard Suess, after the Gondwana region of central northern India

The adjective ‘Gondwanan’ is in common use in biogeography when referring to patterns of distribution of living organisms, typically when the organisms are restricted to two or more of the now-discontinuous regions that were once part of Gondwana, including the Antarctic flora. For example, the Proteaceae, a family of plants that is known only from southern South America, South Africa, and Australia are considered to have a “Gondwanan distribution”. This pattern is often considered to indicate an archaic, or relict, lineage.

August 25, 2010

Kachina

kachina

A kachina [kuh-chee-nuh] is a spirit being in the cosmology and religious practices of the Pueblo people of the southwestern U.S.. The term also refers to the kachina dancers, masked members of the tribe who dress up as kachinas for religious ceremonies, and kachina dolls, wooden dolls representing kachinas which are given as gifts to children.

A kachina can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept.

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August 24, 2010

Chicken Tax

The so-called Chicken tax was a 25% tax on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imposed in 1963 by the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson as a response to tariffs placed by France and West Germany on importation of U.S. chicken. The period from 1961–1964 of tensions and negotiations surrounding the issue, which took place at the height of Cold War politics, was known as the ‘Chicken War.’

Eventually, the tariffs on potato starch, dextrin, and brandy were lifted, but the light truck tax is still in place. As an unintended consequence, several importers of light trucks have circumvented the tariff via loopholes, including Ford, which currently imports light trucks as ‘passenger vehicles’ to the U.S. from Turkey and immediately shreds portions of their interiors.

August 24, 2010

Black Drink

black drink

Black drink was the name given by colonists to a ritual beverage called Asi, brewed by Native Americans in the Southeastern United States. It was prepared from the roasted leaves and stems of the Yaupon Holly, native to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The active ingredient in the drink was caffeine. The beverage was often used as a substitute for coffee and tea by colonists under the name cassine or cassina.

Prior to the 19th century, the black drink was consumed during the daily deliberations of the village councils and at all other important council meetings. Caddo, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and others believed it purified the drinker and purged him of anger and falsehoods. Black drink was prepared by special village officials and served in large communal cups, frequently made of whelk shell. The men in council were served in order of precedence, starting with important visitors. They consumed large quantities at a sitting. Afterward, they purged themselves by vomiting.

August 24, 2010

Mate

mate

Mate [mah-tey], also known as chimarrão or cimarrón, is a traditional South American infused drink particularly popular in Argentina. It is prepared by steeping dried leaves of the yerba mate plant in hot water. Mate is served with a metal straw, called a bombilla, from a hollow calabash gourd, called a mate.

As with other brewed herbs, yerba mate leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a powdery mixture called yerba. The bombilla acts as both a straw and a sieve. The submerged end is flared, with small holes or slots that allow the brewed liquid in, but block the chunky matter that makes up much of the mixture.

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August 24, 2010

Skijoring

leadville skijoring

Skijoring [skee-jawr-ing] is a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, a dog (or dogs) or a motor vehicle.

It is derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring meaning ski driving. Since many leashed dogs naturally tend to pull a skier with no training, the sport cannot claim a single country of origin. It was invented and continues to be reinvented all over the world. As a competitive sport, however, it is believed that the first races were held in Scandinavia as an offshoot of the older sport of Pulka.

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August 24, 2010

Nerfing

In video gaming a nerf is a change to a game that reduces the effectiveness of a particular game element. The term is also used as a verb for the act of making such a change. The opposite of nerfing is buffing. The term originated with ‘Ultima Online,’ and refers to the Nerf brand of toys which designed to prevent serious injury.

Game developers nerf aspects of a game in order to maintain game balance. Occasionally a new feature (such as an item, class, or skill) may be made too powerful, unfair, or too easily obtained to the extent that it unbalances the game system. This is sometimes due to an unforeseen bug or method of using or acquiring the object that was not considered by the developers.