Archive for November 8th, 2010

November 8, 2010

Bialy

Bialy

bialy [bee-ah-lee] is a small roll that is a traditional dish in Polish Ashkenazi cuisine. A traditional bialy has a diameter of up to 15 cm (6 inches) and is a chewy yeast roll similar to a bagel. Unlike a bagel, which is boiled before baking, a bialy is simply baked, and instead of a hole in the middle it has a depression. Before baking, this depression is filled with diced onions and other ingredients, including garlic, poppy seeds, or bread crumbs. The name bialy is Yiddish and short for ‘bialystoker kuchen’ (Bialystok Cake). Białystok is a city in Poland. The bialy was formerly little known outside of New York City, but has started to move into the larger market. They were originally brought into the United States by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The bialy was first marketed in the United States during the early 1900s in the state of New York by Harry Cohen, a proprietor of a bagel (and later bialy) establishment. In 2002, former New York Times food writer Mimi Sheraton wrote a book dedicated to the bialy, called The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World. She examined bialy making and used Kossar’s Bialys as the background, and its long-time union bakers as key references for her research that took her to Poland in search of the original bialy bakers.

November 8, 2010

Agnotology

camels

Agnotology is the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. The neologism was coined by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor specializing in the history of science and technology. More generally, the term also highlights the increasingly common condition where more knowledge of a subject leaves one more uncertain than before. Proctor studied the tobacco industry’s conspiracy to manufacture doubt about the cancer risks of tobacco use. Under the banner of science, the industry produced research about everything except tobacco hazards to exploit public uncertainty.

Some of the root causes for culturally-induced ignorance are media neglect, corporate or governmental secrecy and suppression, document destruction, and myriad forms of inherent or avoidable culturopolitical selectivity, inattention, and forgetfulness. Agnotology also focuses on how and why diverse forms of knowledge do not ‘come to be’,’ or are ignored or delayed. For example, knowledge about plate tectonics was delayed for at least a decade because key evidence was classified military information related to underseas warfare.

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November 8, 2010

Jainism

Jainism [jahy-niz-uhm] is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called Jina (Conqueror or Victor). Jainism, which its followers consider to have always existed, has prehistoric origins dating before 3000 BC, and before the beginning of Indo-Aryan culture. Organized Jainism is believed by historians to have arisen between the ninth and the sixth centuries BCE. Some have speculated that the religion may have its roots in much earlier times, reflecting native spirituality prior to the Indo-Aryan migration into India.

In the modern world, it is a small but influential religious minority with as many as 4.2 million followers in India, and successful growing immigrant communities in North America, Western Europe, the Far East, Australia and elsewhere. Jains have successfully sustained this longstanding religion to the present day and have significantly influenced and contributed to ethical, political and economic spheres in India. Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship and have the highest degree of literacy in India; Jain libraries are the oldest in the country.

November 8, 2010

Snowclone

the new black

A snowclone is a type of cliché and phrasal template originally defined as ‘a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different variants.’

An example of a snowclone is ‘grey is the new black,’ a version of the template ‘X is the new Y.’  Both the generic formula and the new phrases produced from it are called snowclones.

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November 8, 2010

Sporf

sporf

A sporf is a single eating utensil combining the properties of a spoon, fork, and knife. It was invented by William McArthur in the 1940s in Australia and sold with the brand name ‘Splayd.’ A sporf typically has a spoon shape with fork tines in the middle and flat edges on one or both sides suitable for cutting through soft food.

November 8, 2010

Bokononism

Bokononism is a fictional religion practiced by many of the characters in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel ‘Cat’s Cradle.’ It is based on the concept of ‘foma,’ which are defined as harmless untruths. The primary tenet of Bokononism is to ‘Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.’

Many of the sacred texts of Bokononism were written in the form of calypsos. The foundation of Bokononism is that all religion, including Bokononism and all its texts, is formed entirely of lies; however, one who believes and adheres to these lies will at least have peace of mind, and perhaps live a good life.

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November 8, 2010

Doublethink

Ministry of Truth

In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, doublethink is the act of simultaneously accepting as correct two mutually contradictory beliefs. It is related to, but distinct from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Its opposite is cognitive dissonance, where the two beliefs cause conflict in one’s mind.