Archive for March 29th, 2011

March 29, 2011

Akira

tetsuo

AKIRA is a manga series by Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, the work uses conventions of the cyberpunk genre to detail a saga of turmoil. Initially serialized in the pages of Young Magazine from 1982 until 1990, the work was collected in six volumes by Japanese publisher Kodansha. Otomo’s art on the series is considered outstanding, and the work is a breakthrough for both Otomo and the manga form.

An identically titled anime film adaptation was released in 1988, shortening the plot, but with its structure and scenes heavily informed by the manga and its serial origins. The manga takes place in a vastly larger time frame than the film and involves a far wider array of characters and subplots. Through the breadth of the work, Otomo explicates themes of social isolation, corruption and power.

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March 29, 2011

Akira

akira

Akira is a 1988 Japanese animated science fiction film set in a futuristic and post-war city, Neo-Tokyo, in 2019. It was written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who based it on his manga of the same name. The film explores a number of psychological and philosophical themes, such as the nature of corruption, the will to power, and the growth from childhood to maturity both in individuals and the human race itself. Elements of Buddhist and Christian symbolism are also present in the film. Other notable themes include youth culture, cyberpunk, delinquency, psychic awareness, social unrest and revolution, the world’s reaction toward a nuclear holocaust and Japan’s post-war economic revival.

The film’s plot focuses on Shotaro Kaneda, a biker gang member, as he tries to stop Tetsuo Shima from releasing Akira, the eponymous, principal subject of the story, a young boy who developed transcendent psionic, god-like abilities when serving as a test subject for secret government ESP experiments in the 1980s. He subsequently lost control of this power and the ensuing blast completely annihilated Tokyo in a horrifying explosion in 1988. After the apocalyptic event, Akira was recovered and sealed within a cryonic chamber underneath the Neo-Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

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March 29, 2011

Schadenfreude

nelson muntz

Schadenfreude [shahd-n-froi-duh] is a German loanword meaning ‘pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.’ The corresponding German adjective is ‘schadenfroh.’ The word derives from ‘Schaden’ (‘adversity,’ ‘harm’) and ‘Freude’ (‘joy’). An English expression with a similar meaning is ‘Roman holiday,’ a metaphor taken from the poem ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ by Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be ‘butcher’d to make a Roman holiday’ while the audience would take pleasure from watching his suffering. The term suggests debauchery and disorder in addition to sadistic enjoyment.

Another phrase with a meaning is ‘morose delectation’ (‘delectatio morosa’ in Latin), meaning ‘the habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts.’ ‘Gloating’ is a related English word where ‘gloat’ is defined as ‘to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight’ (‘gloat over an enemy’s misfortune’). The Buddhist concept of ‘mudita,’ ‘sympathetic joy’ or ‘happiness in another’s good fortune,’ is cited as an example of the opposite of schadenfreude. Alternatively, envy, which is unhappiness in another’s good fortune, could be considered the counterpart of schadenfreude. Completing the quartet is unhappiness at another’s misfortune, which may be termed empathy, pity, or compassion.

March 29, 2011

Affluenza

affluenza

Affluenza [af-loo-en-zuh], a portmanteau of the words affluence and influenza, is a term used by critics of capitalism and consumerism, defined as: a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. Proponents of the term consider that the prizing of endless increases in material wealth may lead to feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction rather than experiences of a ‘better life,’ and that these symptoms may be usefully captured with the metaphor of a disease.

They claim some or even many of those who become wealthy will find the economic success leaving them unfulfilled and hungry only for more wealth, finding that they are unable to get pleasure from the things they buy and that increasingly material things may come to dominate their time and thoughts to the detriment of personal relationships and to feelings of happiness. The condition is considered particularly acute amongst those with inherited wealth, who are often said to experience guilt, lack of purpose and dissolute behavior, as well as obsession with holding on to the wealth.

March 29, 2011

Minuteman Salsa

minuteman salsa

Minuteman Salsa was a brand of salsa made in the United States. The brand was founded by Ryan Lambert, along with four associates during the summer of 2006 in reference to the illegal immigration debate. According to the company’s Web site, it is America’s only 100% United States-made salsa. Minuteman Salsa donates a portion of its profits to the Minuteman Project, a group of American citizens whose goal is to deter illegal crossings of the United States–Mexico border. The salsa’s slogan was ‘Deport Bad Taste.’

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March 29, 2011

Freedom Fries

freedom fries by Anthony Freda

Freedom fries is a political euphemism for French fries used in the US as a result of anti-French sentiment during the controversy over the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. France expressed strong opposition in the UN, leading to boycotts of French goods and the removal of the country’s name from products. 

Representatives Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-North Carolina) declared that all references to French fries and French toast on the menus of the restaurants and snack bars run by the House of Representatives would be removed. House cafeterias were ordered to rename French fries ‘freedom fries.’ This action was carried out without a congressional vote, under the authority of Ney’s position as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees restaurant operations for the chamber. 

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March 29, 2011

Scapegoat

Scapegoating is singling out someone for unmerited negative treatment or blame. A whipping boy or ‘fall guy’ is a form of scapegoat. The word is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word ‘Azazel.’ The Biblical scapegoat was a goat cast out into the desert as part of the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement. 

Since this goat, carrying the sins of the people placed on it, is sent away to perish, the word ‘scapegoat’ has come to mean a person, often innocent, who is blamed and punished for the sins, crimes or sufferings of others, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. In Christian theology, the story of the scapegoat in Leviticus is interpreted as a symbolic prefiguration of the self-sacrifice of Jesus, who takes the sins of humanity on his own head, having been crucified on a cross outside the city by order of the high priests.

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March 29, 2011

Sheeple

democracy

Sheeple (a portmanteau of ‘sheep’ and ‘people’) is a term of disparagement, in which people are likened to sheep. It is often used to denote persons who voluntarily acquiesce to a perceived authority or suggestion without sufficient research to understand fully the ramifications involved in that decision, and thus undermine their own human individuality or in other cases give up certain rights.

The implication of sheeple is that as a collective, people believe or do whatever they are told, especially if told so by a perceived authority figure believed to be trustworthy, without critically thinking about it or doing adequate research to be sure that it is an accurate representation of the real world around them. The term is generally used in a political, social, and mostly in a spiritual sense.

March 29, 2011

Bradley Effect

polls lie

The Bradley effect is a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some US government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. The theory proposes that some voters will tell pollsters they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, while on election day they vote for the white candidate. It was named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor’s race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections.

The effect theorizes that the inaccurate polls were skewed by the phenomenon of social desirability bias. Specifically, some white voters give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation. Some analysts have dismissed that theory, or argued that it may have existed in past elections, but not in more recent ones. Others believe that it is a persistent phenomenon. Similar effects have been posited in other contexts, notably the Shy Tory Factor and spiral of silence.

March 29, 2011

Groupthink

vietnam scar by David levine

Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Research psychologist, Irving Janis studied a number of ‘disasters’ in American foreign policy, such as failure to anticipate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1941), the Bay of Pigs fiasco (1961), and the prosecution of the Vietnam War (1964–67) by President Lyndon Johnson. He concluded that in each of these cases, the decisions were made largely due to the cohesive nature of the committees which made them. Moreover, that cohesiveness prevented contradictory views from being expressed and subsequently evaluated.

Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group. Members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking to avoid being seen as foolish, or to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, in hindsight, and was coined by journalist William H. Whyte in a 1952 ‘Fortune’ magazine article.

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March 29, 2011

Abilene Paradox

The Abilene paradox is a paradox in which a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of any of the individuals in the group. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group’s and, therefore, does not raise objections. A common phrase relating to the Abilene paradox is a desire to not ‘rock the boat.’

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March 29, 2011

SAMO©

samo

SAMO© graffiti appeared in NYC from 1977 to early 1980. They were short phrases, in turns poetic and sarcastic, mainly painted in downtown Manhattan. The tag has been primarily associated with the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, but was developed in collaboration with his high school friend Al Diaz, and a few others. Diaz had previously been part of the New York graffiti scene, using the tag ‘Bomb I.’ Later Basquiat took on the tag himself, creating some non-graffiti work on paper and canvas with it, just before and after killing off the SAMO graffiti by painting ‘SAMO IS DEAD’ around the streets of downtown in early 1980.

Basquiat claims the name was first developed in a stoned conversation with Diaz, calling the marijuana they smoked ‘the same old shit.’ The character of SAMO was first developed by Basquiat, Diaz, and Shannon Dawson while they were students at City As School high school. Basquiat took the lead in the project, selling a false religion, in comics made in high school. The concept was further developed in a theatre-as-therapy course in upper Manhattan (called ‘Family Life’).