Archive for August 24th, 2010

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.

August 24, 2010

Sprezzatura

wwfd

Sprezzatura is an Italian word originating from Castiglione’s ‘The Book of the Courtier,’ where it is defined by the author as ‘a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.’

It is the ability of a courtier to display an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them. Sprezzatura has also been described as a form of defensive irony: the ability to disguise what one really desires, feels, thinks, and means or intends behind a mask of apparent reticence and nonchalance.

August 24, 2010

Shmoo

A shmoo is a fictional cartoon creature created by Al Capp. They first appeared in his comic strip ‘Li’l Abner’ on August 31, 1948, and quickly became a postwar national craze in the USA. Shmoon reproduce asexually, require no sustenance other than air, make good pets, are delicious to eat, and are eager to be eaten. Their pelts make perfect boot leather or house timber, depending on how thick you slice it. They have no bones, their eyes make the best suspender buttons, and their whiskers make perfect toothpicks. In short, they are the ideal herd animal.

In the comic strip the frolicking of shmoon is so entertaining that people no longer feel the need to watch television or go to the movies. It’s been used in discussions of socioeconomics, for instance, a widget is any material good which is produced through labor from a finite resource. In contrast, a shmoo is a material good that reproduces itself and is captured or bred as an economic activity.

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