Archive for August, 2011

August 16, 2011

Deejaying

Count Machuki

Toasting, chatting, or deejaying is the act of talking or chanting, usually in a monotone melody, over a rhythm or beat by a deejay. The lyrics can be either improvised or pre-written. Toasting has been used in various African traditions, such as griots (storytellers) chanting over a drum beat, as well as in Jamaican music forms, such as dancehall, reggae, ska, dub, and lovers rock. The combination of singing and toasting is known as singjaying.

In the late 1950s deejay toasting was developed by Count Machuki. He conceived the idea from listening to disc jockeys on American radio stations. He would do American jive over the music while selecting and playing R&B music. Deejays like Count Machuki working for producers would play the latest hits on traveling sound systems at parties and add their toasts or vocals to the music. These toasts consisted of comedy, boastful commentaries, chants, half-sung rhymes, rhythmic chants, squeals, screams, and rhymed storytelling.

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August 16, 2011

Riddim

king jammy

Riddim is the Jamaican Patois pronunciation of the English word ‘rhythm,’ but in dancehall/reggae parlance it refers to the instrumental accompaniment to a song. Thus, a dancehall song consists of the riddim plus the ‘voicing’ (vocal part) sung by the deejay (not to be confused with disc jockeys who select and play music, and are called selectors in Jamaica). The resulting song structure may be taken for granted by dancehall fans, but is in many ways unique. A given riddim, if popular, may be used in dozens—or even hundreds—of songs, not only in recordings, but also in live performances. Some ‘classic’ riddims, such as ‘Nanny Goat’ and ‘Real Rock’ are essentially the accompaniment tracks to the original 1960s reggae songs with those names. 

Since the 1980s, however, riddims started to be originally composed by producers/beatmakers, who give the riddims original names and, typically, contract artists to ‘voice’ over them. Thus, for example, ‘Diwali’ is the name not of a song, but of a riddim created by Lenky Marsden, subsequently used as the basis for several songs, such as Sean Paul’s ‘Get Busy’ and Bounty Killer’s ‘Sufferer.’ Riddims are the primary musical building blocks of Jamaican popular songs. At any given time, ten to fifteen riddims are widely used in dancehall recordings, but only two or three of these are the now ‘ting’ (the latest riddims that everyone must record over if they want to get them played in the dance or on radio). In dancehall performing, those whose timing is right on top of the rhythm are said to be ‘ridding di riddim.’

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August 16, 2011

Homologation

abarth berlina

In motorsports, homologation [huh-mol-uh-gey-shun] is the approval process a vehicle, race track or standardized part must go through to race in a given league or series. The regulations and rules that must be met are generally set by the series’ sanctioning body. The word is derived from the Greek homologeo—literally ‘same words’—for ‘agree.’ The names of the Ferrari 250 GTO, 288 GTO, Pontiac GTO, and Mitsubishi GTO, where ‘GTO’ stands for ‘Gran Turismo Omologato’ (‘Grand Touring, Homologated’), use the term explicitly.

In racing series that are ‘production-based’ (that is, the vehicles entered in the series are based on production vehicles for sale to the public), homologation requires not only compliance with a racing series’ technical guidelines (for example, engine displacement, chassis construction, suspension design and such) but it often includes minimum levels of sales to ensure that vehicles are not designed and produced solely for racing in that series. Since such vehicles are primarily intended for the race track, practical use on public roads is generally a secondary design consideration, so long as government regulations are met.

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August 16, 2011

Raymond Loewy

shell

Raymond Loewy [loh-ee] (1893 – 1986) was an industrial designer. Born in France, he spent most of his professional career in the United States. Among his work were the Shell and former BP logos, the Greyhound bus, the Coca-Cola bottle, the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 and S-1 locomotives, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators, the Studebaker Avanti and Champion, and the Air Force One livery. His career spanned seven decades.

Loewy was born in Paris in 1893, the son of a Jewish Viennese journalist and French woman. He served in the French army during World War I, attaining the rank of captain. He boarded a ship to America in 1919 with only his French officer’s uniform and $50 in his pocket. He lived in New York and found work as a window designer for department stores, including Macy’s, Wanamaker’s and Saks in addition to working as a fashion illustrator for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

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August 16, 2011

Henry Dreyfuss

dreyfus locomotive

western electric model 300

Henry Dreyfuss (1904 – 1972) was an American industrial designer. Dreyfuss was a native of Brooklyn, New York. As one of the celebrity industrial designers of the 1930s and 1940s, Dreyfuss dramatically improved the look, feel, and usability of dozens of consumer products.

As opposed to Raymond Loewy and other contemporaries, Dreyfuss was not a stylist: he applied common sense and a scientific approach to design problems. His work both popularized the field for public consumption, and made significant contributions to the underlying fields of ergonomics, anthropometrics, and human factors.

August 16, 2011

Stańczyk

Stańczyk

Stańczyk (c. 1480–1560) was the most famous court jester in Polish history. He is remembered as a man of great intelligence and a political philosopher gifted with formidable insight into Poland’s current and future situation. He used his job to criticize and warn his contemporaries through satire. His witty jokes often pertained to current political or court matters.

The best known anecdote about Stańczyk is that of a hunting incident. In 1533 King Sigismund the Old had a huge bear brought for him from Lithuania. The bear was released in the forest of Niepołomice near Kraków so that the king could hunt it. During the hunt, the animal charged at the king, the queen and their courtiers which caused panic and mayhem. Queen Bona fell from her horse which resulted in her miscarriage. Later, the king criticized Stańczyk for having run away instead of attacking the bear. The jester is said to have replied that ‘it is a greater folly to let out a bear that was locked in a cage.’ This remark is often interpreted as an allusion to the king’s policy toward Prussia which was defeated by Poland but not fully incorporated into the Crown.

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August 15, 2011

Smiley

lili

A smiley, or happy face, is a stylized representation of a smiling human face. It is commonly represented as a yellow circle with two black dots representing eyes and a black arc representing the mouth. ‘Smiley’ is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon (a facial expression pictorially represented by punctuation and letters, usually to express a writer’s mood).

The first unhappy face recorded on film can be seen in Ingmar Bergman’s 1948 film ‘Hamnstad.’ Later on, in 1953 and 1958, the happy face was used in promotional campaigns for motion pictures ‘Lili’ and ‘Gigi’, respectively.

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August 15, 2011

Josh Keyes

home lifted by josh keyes

Josh Keyes (b. 1969) is an American contemporary artist who works with painting, drawing, and installation art. He currently works out of Portland, Oregon. His work has been described as ‘a satirical look at the impact urban sprawl has on the environment and surmises, with the aid of scientific slices and core samples, what could happen if we continue to infiltrate and encroach on our rural surroundings.’

Josh’s work brings to mind the detail and complexity of natural history dioramas, and the color and diagrammatic complexity one might find in cross section illustrations from a vintage science textbook. His work has developed over the past years into a complex personal vocabulary of imagery that creates a mysterious and sometimes unsettling juxtaposition between the natural world and the man made landscape.

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August 15, 2011

Oniomania

Shopaholic

Oniomania [oh-nee-uh-mey-nee-uh] (Greek: onios ‘for sale’ and mania ‘insanity’) is the technical term for the compulsive desire to shop, more commonly referred to as compulsive shopping, shopping addiction, shopaholism, compulsive buying or CB. All of these are considered to be either clinical addictions or impulse control disorders, depending on the clinical source. ‘Originally termed oniomania by Kraepelin (1915) and Bleuler (1924), CB has been described for over 100 years’; but though included among other pathological and reactive impulses, CB went largely ignored for the middle quarters of the twentieth century, and even today ‘Compulsive Shopping is a painful yet virtually unknown mental illness.’

‘Some psychiatrists believe compulsive buying is more indicative of an impulse control disorder, others think it is more indicative of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, or bipolar disorder’ or even an addiction. It has been accepted as a disorder by the Deutsche Gesellschaft Zwangserkrankungen (German organization for obsessive-compulsive disorders), for several years; but in the United States, ‘an Impulse control disorder not otherwise specified…is the diagnostic category usually accorded to compulsive buying.’

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August 15, 2011

Twin-Lens Reflex Camera

rolleiflex

A twin-lens reflex camera (TLR) is a type of camera with two objective lenses of the same focal length. One of the lenses is the photographic objective or ‘taking lens,’ while the other is used for the viewfinder system, which is usually viewed from above at waist level. In addition to the objective, the viewfinder consists of a 45-degree mirror (the reason for the word reflex in the name), a matte focusing screen at the top of the camera, and a pop-up hood surrounding it. The two objectives are connected, so that the focus shown on the focusing screen will be exactly the same as on the film.

However, many inexpensive TLRs are fixed-focus models. Most TLRs use leaf shutters with shutter speeds up to 1/500th sec with a B setting. For practical purposes, all TLRs are film cameras, most often using 120 film, although there are many examples which used other formats. No general-purpose digital TLRs exist, since their heyday ended long prior to the digital era. The main exception is the collector-oriented Rollei Mini-Digi, introduced as a rather expensive ‘toy’ in 2004.

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August 15, 2011

Kopi Luwak

civet

Kopi luwak, or civet coffee, is one of the world’s most expensive and low-production varieties of coffee. It is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, then passed through its digestive tract. A civet eats the berries for their fleshy pulp. In its stomach, enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet’s intestines the beans are then defecated, keeping their shape. After gathering, thorough washing, sun drying, light roasting and brewing, these beans yield an aromatic coffee with much less bitterness, widely noted as the most expensive coffee in the world.

Since the flavor of coffee owes much to its proteins, there is a hypothesis that this shift in the numbers and kinds of proteins in beans after being swallowed by civets brings forth their unique flavor. The proteins are also involved in non-enzymatic Maillard browning reactions brought about later by roasting. Moreover, while inside a civet the beans begin to germinate by malting which also lowers their bitterness. Kopi luwak is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, and also in the Philippines, and also in East Timor. Weasel coffee is a loose English translation of its name cà phê Chồn in Vietnam, where popular, chemically simulated versions are also produced.

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August 15, 2011

Global Orgasm

Global Orgasm, also known as GORG, was an action originally scheduled for December 22, 2006 to coincide with the end of solstice. The idea was for participants throughout the world to have an orgasm during this one day while thinking about peace in order to emit positive energy to Earth. The Second Annual Synchronized Global Orgasm for Peace occurred at 6:08 (GMT) on December 22, 2007, the actual moment of the Solstice.

In 2009 Ani Sinclair took over the cause (and website) of Global Orgasm. She encourages everyone to practice conscious dedication of orgasmic energy to world peace. The Solstice on December 21st is the day to culminate the practice for the year and then to begin again, practicing for the next year. She would like to help change the perception about sexuality from ‘original sin’ to ‘original blessing,’ honoring and empowering women.Studies have found increases in the hormone oxytocin at orgasm in both men and women. Oxytocin’s role in increasing trust, pair bonding and reducing anxiety has meant it is sometimes referred to as the ‘love and trust’ hormone.

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