Archive for December 13th, 2010

December 13, 2010

Lagom

simple is beautiful

Lagom is a Swedish word with no direct English equivalent, meaning ‘just the right amount.’ It is also widely translated as ‘in moderation,’ ‘in balance,’ ‘optimal,’ ‘suitable,’ and ‘average.’ But whereas words like ‘sufficient’ and ‘average’ suggest some degree of abstinence, scarcity, or failure, lagom carries the connotation appropriateness although not necessarily perfection. The archetypical Swedish proverb ‘Lagom är bäst,’ literally ‘The right amount is best,’ is translated as ‘Enough is as good as a feast.’ The concept of lagom is similar to that of the Middle Path in Eastern philosophy, and Aristotle’s ‘golden mean’ of moderation in Western philosophy.

The value of ‘just enough’ can be compared to idiom ‘ess is more,’ or contrasted to the value of ‘more is better.’ It is viewed favorably as a sustainable alternative to the hoarding extremes of consumerism. It can also be viewed as repressive: ‘You’re not supposed to be too good, or too rich.’ In a single word, lagom is said to describe the basis of the Swedish national psyche, one of consensus and equality. In recent times Sweden has developed greater tolerance for risk and failure as a result of severe recession in the early 1990s. Nonetheless, it is still widely considered ideal to be modest and avoid extremes.

December 13, 2010

Paris Syndrome

paris syndrome

Paris syndrome is a transient psychological disorder encountered by some people visiting or vacationing in Paris. It is characterized by acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution (delusions of being a victim of prejudice, aggression, or hostility from others), derealization, depersonalization, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia, sweating, etc. Japanese visitors are observed to be especially susceptible, and around twenty Japanese tourists a year are affected. It was first noted in Nervure, the French journal of psychiatry in 2004.

December 13, 2010

Jerusalem Syndrome

jerusalem syndrome

The Jerusalem syndrome is a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. It is not endemic to one single religion or denomination and has affected Jews, Christians and Muslims of many different backgrounds.

The best known, although not the most prevalent, manifestation of the Jerusalem syndrome is the phenomenon whereby a person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem. The psychosis is characterised by an intense religious theme and typically resolves to full recovery after a few weeks or after being removed from the area.

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December 13, 2010

Stendhal Syndrome

The Stendhal Syndrome

Stendhal [sten-dahlsyndrome (also known as hyperkulturemia and Florence syndrome) is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.

The condition is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal (Henri-Marie Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy. Although there are many descriptions of people becoming dizzy and fainting while taking in Florentine art, especially at the Uffizi, dating from the early 19th century on, the syndrome was only named in 1979, when it was described by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, who observed and described more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence.

December 13, 2010

Stanley Mouse

Stanley Mouse 1966 Grateful Dead

13th floor elevators avalon ballroom

Stanley Mouse (b. 1940) is an American artist, best known for his 1960s psychedelic rock concert poster designs and Grateful Dead album cover art. He got his start in the Kustom Kulture scene working for Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth in 1958. The posters he produced were heavily influenced by Art Nouveau graphics, particularly the works of Alphonse Mucha and Edmund Joseph Sullivan.

Material associated with psychedelics, such as Zig-Zag rolling papers, were also referenced. Producing posters advertising for such musical groups as Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Grateful Dead led to meeting the musicians and making contacts that were later to prove fruitful. Mouse and artist Alton Kelley are credited with creating the skeleton and roses image that became the Grateful Dead’s archetypal iconography, and Journey’s wings and beetles that appeared on their album covers from 1977 to 1980.

December 13, 2010

Chartjunk

Edward Tufte

Chartjunk refers to all visual elements in charts and graphs that are not necessary to comprehend the information represented on the graph, or that distract the viewer from this information. Examples of unnecessary elements which might be called chartjunk include heavy or dark grid lines, unnecessary text or inappropriately complex typefaces, ornamented chart axes and display frames, pictures or icons within data graphs, ornamental shading and unnecessary dimensions.

Another kind of chartjunk skews the depiction and makes it difficult to understand the real data being displayed. Examples of this type include items depicted out of scale to one another, noisy backgrounds making comparison between elements difficult in a chart or graph, and 3-D simulations in line and bar charts.  The term was coined by American statistician Edward Tufte in his 1983.

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December 13, 2010

Tata Nano

tata nano

The Tata Nano is a low-cost, rear-engined, four-passenger city car built by the Indian company Tata Motors, which began selling its ‘one-lakh’ (100,000 Rupees or $2,200) car in 2009. The price has risen somewhat since its introduction due to increasing materials costs. It features a 623cc, 2 cylinder engine with a top speed of 43 mph. It is an example of ‘Gandhian engineering,’ a concept involving deep frugality and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom.

The Nano’s design implements many cost-reducing innovations: the trunk is only accessible from inside the car, as the rear hatch does not open; one windscreen wiper instead of the usual pair; no power steering, unnecessary due to its light weight; three lug nuts on the wheels instead of the usual four; only one side-view mirror; no radio, no air-conditioning, and no airbags.

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December 13, 2010

Bubble Car

Bubble car is a subjective term used for some small, economical automobiles, usually produced in the 1950s and 1960s. The Messerschmitt KR175 and KR200, and the FMR Tg500, had aircraft-style bubble canopies, giving rise to the term bubble car to refer to all these post-war microcars. Bubble cars became popular in Europe at that time as a demand for cheap personal motorized transport emerged and fuel prices were high due in part to the 1956 Suez Crisis. Most of them were three-wheelers, which in many places qualified them for inexpensive taxes and licensing as motorcycles. Most bubble cars were manufactured in Germany, including by the former German military aircraft manufacturers, Messerschmitt and Heinkel.

BMW manufactured the Italian Iso Rivolta Isetta under licence, using an engine from one of their own motorcycles. France also produced large numbers of similar tiny vehicles called voiturettes, but unlike the German makes, these were rarely sold abroad. There were a small number of British three wheeled microcars, including the larger Regal and Robin from the Reliant Motor Company in Staffordshire and the smaller P50 and Trident from the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man. Bubble cars were superseded by a new wave of ‘proper small cars’ like the 1959 Austin Mini, which gave far more functionality for their owners for only slightly higher costs.

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December 13, 2010

Spirulina

spirulina

Spirulina [spahy-ruh-lahy-nuh] is a microscopic blue-green algae in the shape of a spiral coil, living both in sea and freshwater. It is the common name for human and animal food produced primarily from two species: Arthrospira platensis, and Arthrospira maxima. Though referred to as ‘algae’ because they are aquatic organisms capable of photosynthesis, cyanobacteria are not related to any of the various eukaryotic algae. Spirulina is rich in complete proteins, essential fatty acids, b vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals like beta-carotene. Spirulina contains an unusually high amount of protein, between 55% and 77% by dry weight. It is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids, though with reduced amounts of methionine, cysteine, and lysine when compared to the proteins of meat, eggs, and milk.

It is, however, superior to typical plant protein, such as that from legumes. Spirulina also contains the amino acid phenylalanine, which should be avoided by people who have the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria. Arthrospira is cultivated around the world, and is used as a human dietary supplement, as well as a whole food, and is available in tablet, flake, and powder form. It is also used as a feed supplement in the aquaculture, aquarium, and poultry industries. Spirulina was a food source for Mesoamericans; the Aztecs called it ‘stone’s excrement.’ Its cultivation dates back to the 9th century in Chad, where dried cakes of spirulina, called dihéare, are used as bullion cubes.

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