Archive for February 17th, 2011

February 17, 2011

Satire

stephen colbert

Satire is a literary genre where vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

A common feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm, but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing as well. Satire is not possible under dictatorships. It was not allowed, for example, in the Soviet Union. Anyone trying to make fun of Stalin would have been put to death immediately.

February 17, 2011

Travis Rice

that's it

Travis Rice (b. 1982) is a professional snowboarder who grew up and currently resides by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. He is known for being the ‘Paul Revere’ of the big mountain freestyle movement.

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February 17, 2011

Droste Effect

coat of arms

The Droste [dro-steffect is a specific kind of recursive picture, one that in heraldry is termed ‘mise en abyme’ (French for ‘placing into infinity’). An image exhibiting the Droste effect depicts a smaller version of itself in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear. This smaller version then depicts an even smaller version of itself in the same place, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size.

The effect is named after the image on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands, which displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. This image, introduced in 1904 and maintained for decades with slight variations, became a household notion.

February 17, 2011

Dualism

Dualism is the idea or theory that something (an object, an idea or the whole world) is split into two parts. These parts are separate from each other and the thing cannot be divided up into any other way. The idea or theory that something cannot be split into any parts is called monism. The idea that something can be split into many parts is called pluralism.

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February 17, 2011

Heraclitus

heraclitus

Heraclitus [her-uh-klahy-tuhs] (535 – 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the what is now the Turkish coast of the Aegean Sea. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the riddling nature of his philosophy and his contempt for humankind in general, he was called ‘The Obscure,’ and the ‘Weeping Philosopher.’

Heraclitus is famous for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, as stated in his famous saying, ‘You cannot step twice into the same stream.’ He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that ‘the path up and down are one and the same,’ existing things being characterized by pairs of contrary properties, and other explorations of the concept of dualism.

February 17, 2011

The Ugly Duchess

grotesque head

The Ugly Duchess‘ (also known as ‘A Grotesque Old Woman’) is a satirical portrait painted by the Flemish artist Quentin Matsys around 1513. It shows an old woman with wrinkled skin and shriveled breasts which are partially visible from her low-cut dress. She holds a red flower in her right hand, at the time a symbol of engagement, indicating that she is trying to attract a suitor. However, it is a bud that will likely never blossom. The work is likely drawn from two sources. One is Erasmus’s ‘In Praise of Folly,’ which satirises women who ‘still play the coquette,’ ‘cannot tear themselves away from their mirrors’ and ‘do not hesitate to exhibit their repulsive withered breasts.’

It also bears a resemblance to a caricature head drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci. It was originally half of a diptych, with a ‘Portrait of an Old Man.’ The portrait is held to be the inspiration for John Tenniel’s 1869 drawing of the Duchess in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In 2008 it was claimed that the sitter, possibly Margaret, Countess of Tyrol, was suffering from a rare form of Paget’s disease, in which the victim’s bones enlarge and become deformed.

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February 17, 2011

Castell

castell

A castell is a human tower built traditionally in festivals at many locations within Catalonia, Spain. At these festivals, several ‘colles castelleres’ or teams often succeed in building and dismantling a tower’s structure.

The tradition of building castells originated in Valls, near the city of Tarragona, in the southern part of Catalonia towards the end of the 18th century. Later it developed a following in other regions of Catalonia and, since 1981, when the first castell of 9 levels of the 20th century was built.

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February 17, 2011

Ultramarathon

Western States Endurance Run

An ultramarathon is any sporting event involving running longer than the traditional marathon length. There are two types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during specified time (with the winner covering the most distance in that time). The most common distances are 50 km, 100 km, 50 mi, and 100 miles. Other distances/times include double marathons, 24-hour races, and multiday races of 1000 miles or even longer. The format of these events and the courses vary, ranging from single or multiple loops (some as short as a 400-meter track), to point-to-point road or trail races, to cross-country rogaines.

Many ultramarathons, especially trail challenges, have severe course obstacles, such as inclement weather, elevation change, or rugged terrain. Many of these races are run on dirt roads or mountain paths, though some are run on paved roads as well. Usually, there are aid stations every 5 to 15 km apart, where runners can replenish food and drink supplies or take a short break. Timed events range from 6, 12, and 24 hours to 3 and 6 days (known as multi-day events). Timed events are generally run on a track or a short road course, often one mile or less.

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February 17, 2011

Alamo Drafthouse

alamo drafthouse

The Alamo Drafthouse is an American cinema chain founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas, United States. It has screens in nine locations across Texas and one in Winchester, Virginia. The company began as a second-run movie theater, and distinguished itself by the food and drink service offered inside the theater, including cold beer. The seating is arranged with rows of cabaret style tables in front of each row of seats, with an aisle between each row to accommodate waiter service. Customers write their orders on slips of paper, which are picked up by black-clad waiters moving quietly between the rows.