Archive for September, 2011

September 30, 2011

Metal Umlaut

blue oyster cult

spinal tap

A metal umlaut [oom-lout] (also known as röck döts) is a trema (in Germanic languages called Umlaut) that is sometimes used gratuitously or decoratively over letters in the names of hard rock or heavy metal bands—for example those of Mötley Crüe and Motörhead. Amongst English speakers, the use of umlaut marks and other diacritics with a blackletter style typeface is a form of foreign branding intended to give a band’s logo a Teutonic quality—denoting stereotypes of boldness and strength commonly attributed to ancient northern European peoples, such as the Vikings and Goths. Its use has been attributed to a desire for a ‘Gothic horror’ feel. The metal umlaut is not generally intended to affect the pronunciation of the band’s name.

These decorative umlauts have been parodied in film and fiction; in the mockumentary film ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ (spelled with an umlaut mark over the n and a dotless i), fictional rocker David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) says, ‘It’s like a pair of eyes. You’re looking at the umlaut, and it’s looking at you.’

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September 29, 2011




Technophobia is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers. The term is generally used in the sense of an irrational fear, but others contend fears are justified. It is the opposite of technophilia. First receiving widespread notice during the Industrial Revolution, technophobia has been observed to affect various societies and communities throughout the world. This has caused some groups to take stances against some modern technological developments in order to preserve their ideologies. In some of these cases, the new technologies conflict with established beliefs, such as the personal values of simplicity and modest lifestyles.

A number of examples of technophobic ideas can be found in multiple forms of art, ranging from literary works such as ‘Frankenstein’ to films like ‘Metropolis.’ Many of these works portray the darker side of technology as seen by the technophobic. As technologies become increasingly complex and difficult to understand, people are more likely to harbor anxieties relating to their use of modern technologies.

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September 29, 2011


Miss Sarajevo

‘Original Soundtracks 1’ is a 1995 album recorded by U2 and Brian Eno, as a side project, under the pseudonym Passengers. It is a collection of songs written for mostly imaginary movies (the exclusions being songs for ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ ‘Miss Sarajevo,’ and ‘Beyond the Clouds’). U2 and Eno formed Passengers as a side-project during the preliminary recording sessions for U2’s 1997 album, ‘Pop.’

Their intention was to record a soundtrack for Peter Greenaway’s 1996 film ‘The Pillow Book’ as a warm up before the main ‘Pop’ sessions. Though the plan did not come to fruition, Eno suggested they continue recording for imaginary films. U2 were unsure of the idea at first, but agreed after Eno told them that producing radio hits was not the goal of the collaboration

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September 29, 2011

Sleeping Positions

sleeping positions

The sleeping position is the body configuration assumed by a person during or prior to sleeping. It has been shown to have health implications, particularly for babies. In the 1958 edition of his best-selling book ‘The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,’ pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock warned against placing a baby on its back, writing, ‘if [an infant] vomits, he’s more likely to choke on the vomitus.’ However, later studies have shown that placing a young baby in a prone position increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). champions ‘SOS’ (sleep on side), particularly the left side, for pregnant women, claiming this ‘will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.’ It is recommended that people at risk of obstructive sleep apnea sleep on their side and with a 30° or higher elevation of the upper body. Snoring, which may be (but is not necessarily) an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, may also be alleviated by sleeping on one’s side.

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September 29, 2011

Maslow’s Hammer

birmingham screwdriver

Percussive maintenance

The concept known as the law of the instrument, Maslow’s hammer, or a golden hammer is an over-reliance on a familiar tool; as psychologist Abraham Maslow said in 1966, ‘It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.’ The sentiment that people look for cure-alls, and over-use familiar tools, is likely traditional; see panacea. Likewise, the use of a hammer and nail as imagery are likely as old as hammers and nails, or even the use of rocks as tools, which the hammer evokes.

The hammer and nail metaphor may not be original to Kaplan or Maslow, and has been attributed to Mark Twain, though there is no documentation of this origin in Twain’s published writings. Under the name of ‘Baruch’s Observation,’ it is also been attributed to Bernard M. Baruch, a stock market speculator and author.

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September 28, 2011

Ugly Law

ugly bag

From the late 1860s until the 1970s, several American cities had ugly laws making it illegal for persons with ‘unsightly or disgusting’ disabilities to appear in public. Some of these laws were called Unsightly Beggar Ordinances. The goal of these laws was seemingly to preserve the quality of life for the community, similar in spirit to current homeowners association regulations and by-laws: ‘No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, or shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than one dollar nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.’

Many states’ ugly laws were not repealed until the mid 1970s. Omaha repealed its Ugly Law in 1967. Columbus withdrew its in 1972. Chicago was the last to repeal its Ugly Law as late as 1974. The recantation of Ugly Laws were tied to the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 where certain rights were granted to people with disabilities: ‘Individuals with disabilities are a discrete and insular minority who have been faced with restrictions and limitations, subjected to a history of purposeful unequal treatment, and relegated to a position of political powerlessness in our society, based on characteristics that are beyond the control of such individuals and resulting from stereotypic assumptions not truly indicative of the individual ability of such individuals to participate in, and contribute to, society.’

September 28, 2011

Statue of Responsibility

Gary Lee Price

The Statue of Responsibility is a proposed structure to be built on the West Coast of the United States. The prototype, sculpted by project artist Gary Lee Price, consists of a pair of clasped hands oriented vertically, symbolizing the responsibility that comes with liberty. The person who suggested the statue was scholar Viktor Frankl in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’ He recommended ‘that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast should be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.’ His thought was that ‘Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.’

The project is being managed by the non-profit foundation. The project has progressed slowly, but in 2010, the Utah state legislature unanimously declared their support for the project and declared Utah (Mr. Price’s home state) the Birthplace of the Statue of Responsibility. The statue foundation would like to build it in one of five cities: Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle.

September 28, 2011


black or white

Morphing is a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes (or morphs) one image into another through a seamless transition. Most often it is used to depict one person turning into another through technological means or as part of a fantasy or surreal sequence. Traditionally such a depiction would be achieved through cross-fading techniques on film. Since the early 1990s, this has been replaced by computer software to create more realistic transitions.

Though the 1986 movie ‘The Golden Child’ implemented very crude morphing effects from animal to human and back, the first movie to employ detailed morphing was ‘Willow,’ in 1988. A similar process was used a year later in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ to create Walter Donovan’s gruesome demise. Both effects were created by Industrial Light and Magic using grid warping techniques developed by Tom Brigham and Doug Smythe.

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September 27, 2011

Multiple Discovery

what technology wants

The concept of multiple discovery is the hypothesis that most scientific discoveries and inventions are made independently and more or less simultaneously by multiple scientists and inventors. The concept of multiple discovery opposes a traditional view—the ‘heroic theory’ of invention and discovery. When Nobel laureates are announced annually—especially in physics, chemistry, physiology-or-medicine, and economics—increasingly, in the given field, rather than just a single laureate, there are two or the maximally-permissible three, who often have independently made the same discovery.

Commonly cited examples of multiple independent discovery are the 17th-century independent formulation of calculus by Isaac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and others, described by British historian A. Rupert Hall; the 18th-century discovery of oxygen by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Joseph Priestley, Antoine Lavoisier and others; and the theory of evolution of species, independently advanced in the 19th century by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.

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September 27, 2011

Stigler’s Law of Eponymy

Alois Alzheimer by Nicholas Wade

Stigler’s law of eponymy [uh-pon-uh-mee] is a process proposed by University of Chicago statistics professor Stephen Stigler in his 1980 publication of the same name. In its simplest and strongest form it says: ‘No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.’ Stigler named the sociologist Robert K. Merton as the discoverer of ‘Stigler’s law,’ consciously making ‘Stigler’s law’ exemplify Stigler’s law.

For example: Alzheimer’s disease, though named after Alois Alzheimer, had been previously described by at least half a dozen others before Alzheimer’s 1906 report which is often (wrongly) regarded as the first description of the disorder. Historical acclaim for discoveries is often allotted to persons of notoriety who bring attention to an idea that is not yet widely known, whether or not that person was its original inventor – theories may be named long after their discovery.

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September 27, 2011



An eponym [ep-uh-nim] is a word, usually a person’s name, that is used to name something else. One who is referred to as eponymous is someone who gives his or her name to something, e.g., John Schnatter, the eponymous owner of Papa John’s Pizza. A common nonstandard usage is that something eponymous is named after a particular person, e.g., Julian’s eponymous restaurant. In contemporary English, the term self-titled is often used to mean eponymous in the case of a work with the same name as the person or persons who created it (e.g., the song ‘Black Sabbath,’ from the album ‘Black Sabbath,’ by the band Black Sabbath).

In intellectual property law an eponym can refer to a genericized trademark or brand name, a form of metonymy (a figure of speech used in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept — e.g. ‘Kleenex’ for all tissues).

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September 27, 2011

Nazi Chic

ann coulter

Nazi chic refers to the approving use of Nazi-era style, imagery, and paraphernalia in clothing and popular culture, especially when used for taboo breaking or shock value rather than out of genuine nazist sympathies. Its use began in the mid-seventies with the emergence of the punk movement in London; during the Sex Pistols’ first television appearance a person of their entourage was seen wearing a swastika. Nazi chic was later appropriated by the fashion industry.

In the 1970s punk subculture, several items of clothing designed to shock and offend The Establishment became popular. Among these punk fashion items was a T-shirt displaying a Swastika, an upside-down crucifix and the word ‘DESTROY’– which was worn by Johnny Rotten, seen in the video for ‘Pretty Vacant.’ Rotten wore the swastika another time with a gesture that looked like a Nazi salute.

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