Archive for April 28th, 2011

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).

April 28, 2011

Hair Cell

hair cells

Hair cells are the sensory receptors of both the auditory system and the vestibular system (sense of balance) in all vertebrates. In mammals, the auditory hair cells are located in the cochlea, a spiral-shaped cavity in the skull. Unlike birds and reptiles, humans and other mammals are normally unable to regrow the cells of the inner ear that convert sound into neural signals when those cells are damaged by age or disease. Mammalian cochlear hair cells come in two anatomically and functionally distinct types: the outer and inner hair cells. Damage to these hair cells results in decreased hearing sensitivity.

The outer cells do not send neural signals to the brain, they mechanically amplify low-level sound that enters the cochlea. The inner hair cells transform the sound vibrations in the fluids of the cochlea into electrical signals that are then relayed to the brain. Nerve fiber innervation is much denser for inner hair cells than for outer hair cells. A single inner hair cell is innervated by numerous nerve fibers, whereas a single nerve fiber innervates many outer hair cells. Inner hair cell nerve fibers are also very heavily myelinated, which is in contrast to the unmyelinated outer hair cell nerve fibers.

April 28, 2011

Bony Labyrinth

bony labyrinth

The receptors for the senses of equilibrium (vestibule) and hearing (cochlea) are housed within a collection of fluid filled tubes and chambers known as the membranous labyrinth, which is located within the bony labyrinth, a cavity in an an animal’s skull bones.

April 28, 2011


seal by James Thurber

Hoover was a harbor seal who was able to imitate basic human speech. He was found as an orphan by George and Alice Swallow in Maine in 1971. At first the baby seal didn’t want to eat, but soon he ate at the pace of a vacuum cleaner (hence his name).

When Hoover outgrew the bathtub, he was transferred to the pond outside their house where he began to imitate people’s voices. Again he was moved, this time to the New England Aquarium, where he told visitors to ‘Get outta here!’ in a thick New England accent.

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