Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

Brompton Cocktail


Brompton cocktail is an elixir meant for use as a pain suppressant. Made from morphine (or heroin), cocaine, highly-pure ethyl alcohol (some recipes specify gin), and sometimes with chlorpromazine (Thorazine) to counteract nausea, it was given to terminally-ill individuals (especially cancer patients) to relieve pain and promote sociability near death.

A common formulation included ‘a variable amount of morphine, 10 mg of cocaine, 2.5 mL of 98% ethyl alcohol, 5 mL of syrup BP and a variable amount of chloroform water.’

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April 29, 2011

Jan Fabre

jan fabre skull

Jan Fabre [fah-ber] (b. 1958) is a Belgian multidisciplinary artist, playwright, stage director, choreographer and designer. Fabre is famous for his Bic-art (ballpoint drawings). In 1990, he covered an entire building with ballpoint drawings.

His decoration of the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Brussels ‘Heaven of Delight’ (made out of one million six hundred thousand jewel-scarab wing cases) is widely praised. In 2004 he erected Totem, a giant bug stuck on a 70 foot steel needle in Leuven, Belgium.

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April 29, 2011

Operation Nifty Package


Operation Nifty Package was a US Navy SEAL plan conducted in 1989 to apprehend or prevent the escape of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

Forty-eight SEALs (three SEAL Platoons) were tasked with destroying Noriega’s private jet on the ground in Panama City. This part of the mission put the SEALs into a skirmish with Panamanian military forces guarding the airport, and four SEALs were killed and eight wounded. Despite the casualties, a well-aimed AT4 rocket destroyed Noriega’s plane.

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April 29, 2011

ACHOO Syndrome

photic sneeze reflex

Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioophthalmic Outburst (ACHOO) Syndrome is a genetic dominant disorder that results in uncontrollable sneezing in response to numerous stimuli, such as looking at bright lights, cold air, or strong flavors. The condition affects 18-35% of the population, and its exact mechanism of action is not well understood.

Photic sneeze reflex is an dominant hereditary trait which causes sneezing, possibly many times consecutively when suddenly exposed to bright light. The first mention of the phenomenon is probably in the later work attributed to Aristotle (c. 200 BCE).

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April 28, 2011


Winterreise by Pablo Helguera

Weltschmerz [velt-shmerts] (from the German, meaning world-pain or world-weariness) is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. This kind of pessimistic world view was widespread among several romantic authors such as Lord Byron and Herman Hesse. It is also used to denote the feeling of sadness when thinking about the evils of the world.

The modern meaning of Weltschmerz in the German language is the psychological pain caused by sadness that can occur when realizing that someone’s own weaknesses are caused by the inappropriateness and cruelty of the world and (physical and social) circumstances. Weltschmerz in this meaning can cause depression, resignation and escapism, and can become a mental problem.

April 28, 2011



Eating your own dog food, also called dogfooding, is when a company (usually, a software company) uses the products that it makes. In 1988, Microsoft manager Paul Maritz wrote an email titled ‘Eating our own Dogfood,’ challenging his team to increase internal usage of the company’s product.

From there, the usage of the term spread through the company. The term is believed to have derived from a 1980s television advertisements for Alpo dog food, where TV actor, Lorne Greene pointed out that he fed Alpo to his own dogs.

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April 28, 2011


Quirkyalone is a neologism referring to someone who enjoys being single (but is not opposed to being in a relationship) and generally prefers to be alone rather than dating for the sake of being in a couple. Magazine publisher Sasha Cagen came up with the term on a Brooklyn subway platform on New Year’s Eve, 1999.

International Quirkyalone Day is February 14 and was chosen as an alternative to ‘the marketing barrage’ of Valentine’s Day. It started in 2003 as a ‘celebration of romance, freedom and individuality.’

April 28, 2011

Cluster Ballooning


Cluster ballooning is a form of ballooning where a harness attaches a balloonist to a cluster of helium-inflated rubber balloons. Unlike traditional hot-air balloons, where a single large balloon is equipped with vents enabling altitude control, cluster balloons are multiple, small, readily available and individually sealed balloons. To control flight, arrest a climb or initiate a descent, the pilot incrementally jettisons or deflates balloons.

In 1982, Californian truck driver Larry Walters, without any prior ballooning experience, attached 42 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and lifted off. He quickly rose to nearly 3 miles. He controlled his altitude by using a pellet gun to selectively pop some of the balloons. In his defense to charges filed against him by the FAA, he stated that he intended to rise just a few hundred feet, but underestimated helium’s lifting power causing his tethering strap to break prematurely.

April 28, 2011

Leisure Suit

Leisure Suit Larry

A leisure suit is a casual suit consisting of a shirt-like jacket and matching trousers, often associated with American-influenced fashion and fads of the 1970s.

Suits as casual wear became popular among members of Britain’s mod subculture in the 1960s, but only achieved widespread popularity in the United States when—with the creation and popularization of synthetic materials—unprecedented cheapness met with a culture that had come to hate formality.

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April 28, 2011



A burqini is a type of swimsuit for women designed by Lebanese Australian Aheda Zanetti under the company name Ahiida. The suit covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet (enough to preserve Muslim modesty), whilst being light enough to enable swimming. It looks rather like a full-length wetsuit with built-in hood, but somewhat looser and made of swimsuit material instead of neoprene.

In August 2009, a woman in France was prevented from swimming in a public pool wearing a burqini. This was due to a long-standing law requiring swimwear in place of street clothing in public pools, for hygienic reasons, rather than the result of any specific political position on the garment, despite controversy in France over Islamic dress. There are other styles of Islamic swimwear such as the veilkini and mycozzie which was the actual garment worn in the France incident.

April 28, 2011

Undress Code

An undress code is a dress code or social norm which sets an upper limit on the amount of clothing that can be worn. For example, some public swimming facilities set maximum clothing standards, for sanitary reasons.

These rules restrict persons using the facilities to specific types of bathing suits.

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April 28, 2011


Ultracrepidarianism [uhl-truh-krep-i-dair-ee-uhn-iz-uhm] is the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge. The term was first publicly recorded in 1819 by the essayist William Hazlitt in a letter to William Gifford, the editor of the ‘Quarterly Review,’ a London periodical. The term draws from a comment purportedly made by Apelles, a famous Greek artist to a shoemaker who presumed to criticise his painting. The Latin phrase, ‘Sutor, ne ultra crepidam’ meaning literally ‘Shoemaker, not above the sandal,’ used to warn people off passing judgement beyond their expertise.

As the story goes, the shoemaker (sutor) had approached the painter Apelles of Kos to point out a defect in the artist’s rendition of a sandal (crepida), which Apelles duly corrected. Encouraged by this, the shoemaker then began to enlarge on other defects he considered present in the painting, at which point Apelles silenced him with his famous ‘Sutor, ne ultra crepidam.’ The saying remains popular in several languages, and is translated directly into the common Dutch saying ‘schoenmaker, blijf bij je leest’ (shoemaker, stick to your last, a last being the wooden pattern used in shoemaking).