Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

Bic

bic cristal

lighter

Société Bic (pronounced ‘Bick’ in English) is a company based in Clichy, France, founded in 1945, by Baron Marcel Bich known for making disposable products including lighters, ballpoint pens, and shaving razors; they also manufacture magnets and watersports products including surfboards, kayaks, and dinghies.

The Bic pen, more correctly the Bic Cristal, was the company’s first product and 50 years later is still synonymous with the name Bic. The company’s US subsidiary accounts for more than half of the worldwide company’s sales.

Tags:
November 30, 2011

Leverage

envy ratio

Lever

In finance, leverage (sometimes referred to as ‘gearing’ in the UK) is a general term for any technique to multiply gains and losses; common ways to attain leverage are borrowing money, buying fixed assets (non liquid assets such as real estate) and using derivatives (contracts to buy or sell something, such as call and put options respectively).

The most obvious risk of leverage is that it multiplies losses. A corporation that borrows too much money might face bankruptcy during a business downturn, while a less-levered corporation might survive. An investor who buys a stock on 50% margin will lose 40% of his money if the stock declines 20%.

read more »

November 29, 2011

Jean Dubuffet

Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet [zhahn doo-buh-fey] (1901 – 1985) was a French painter and sculptor. His idealistic approach to aesthetics embraced so called ‘low art’ and eschewed traditional standards of beauty in favor of what he believed to be a more authentic and humanistic approach to image-making.

After a break of several years, he took up painting again in the 1930s, when he made a large series of portraits in which he emphasized the vogues in art history. But again stopped, only turning to art for good in 1942 when he started to paint figures of nude women in a impersonal and primitive way, in strong and unbroken colors. Also he chose as subjects people in the commonplace of everyday life, such as people sitting in the underground, or just walking in the country.

read more »

November 29, 2011

Drunkard’s Cloak

Pillory

A Drunkard’s cloak was a type of pillory used in various jurisdictions to punish miscreants. An early description of the drunkard’s cloak appears in Ralph Gardiner’s ‘England’s Grievance Discovered,’ first published in 1655. A John Willis claimed to have travelled to Newcastle and seen ‘men drove up and down the streets, with a great tub, or barrel, opened in the sides, with a hole in one end, to put through their heads, and to cover their shoulders and bodies, down to the small of their legs, and then close the same, called the new fashioned cloak, and so make them march to the view of all beholders; and this is their punishment for drunkards, or the like.’

Drunkenness was first made a civil offence in England by the Ale Houses Act 1551; the drunkard’s cloak became a common method of punishing recidivists, especially during the Commonwealth of England. From 1655 Oliver Cromwell suppressed many of England’s alehouses, particularly in Royalist areas, and the authorities made regular use of the cloak.

November 29, 2011

Wesley Kimler

Wesley Kimler (b. 1953) is an American artist based in Chicago known for his colossal paintings, up to 15 feet high and 27 feet wide. According to critic Kevin Nance, he paints ‘expressive, gestural, hybrid paintings that combine abstract and figurative elements in a way that’s theatrical and beautiful, sometimes grotesque and surreal, and always powerfully evocative.’

Kimler has given outspoken interviews in which he champions painting, attacks what he views as the Neo-Conceptual academy and the artworld hierarchy, advocating independence and self-reliance on the part of creators. He is also known in the contemporary Chicago artworld for his work rallying for a new art scene. Nicknamed ‘the Shark’ due to his fierceness in discussions, he organized a website and e-zine Sharkforum with fellow artist David Roth, which includes such well-known figures as Museum of Contemporary Art curator Lynne Warren, photographer and film critic Ray Pride and artist and theorist Mark Staff Brandl. The artists active on his site also exhibit together under the name the Sharkpack.

November 29, 2011

Nelsonic Game Watch

nelsonic-pacman

Nelsonic Industries is the name of an electronics manufacturing and development company that operated from Queens, NY in the early 1980s and throughout the 1990s when it was acquired by the watch-manufacturer, M.Z. Berger. Nelsonic produced numerous toy-themed wrist-watches during their existence, often targeting younger audiences with likenesses of characters from popular franchises such as Barbie, the Ghostbusters, and Mario. Nelsonic became notable during the early mid-1980s for being the first electronics company in the United States to produce game-watches (multi-purpose electronic devices capable of functioning as both a time-piece and as a typically electronic game). Today the original Nelsonic Game Watch line has entered the secondary market and individual Game Watches have become highly sought-after collectibles that often fetch high prices on online auction websites.

Throughout its existence, Nelsonic produced pop-culture-themed wrist-watches for children and young adults. The chronograph digital watches, typically made of molded plastic, invariably featured an alarm and utilized LCD display-screens to display the time for their wearers. In time the company began manufacturing multi-purpose units that used the LCD screen to combine time display functions with simple video game functions. These simple video games were variations on the theme of the Calculator watch.

Tags: ,
November 29, 2011

Calculator Watch

databank

A calculator watch is a watch with a calculator built into it. Calculator watches first appeared in the Mid 1970s introduced by Pulsar and Hewlett Packard. Several watch manufacturers have made calculator watches over the years, but the Japanese electronics company Casio produced the largest variety of models. In the mid-1980s, Casio created the Data Bank calculator watch, which not only performed calculator functions, but also stored appointments, names, addresses, and phone numbers. The modern eData version of its Data Bank watch has greater memory and the ability to store computer passwords.

When mass produced calculator watches appeared in the early 1980s (with the most being produced in the middle of the decade), the high-tech community’s demand created a ‘feature war’ of one-up-manship between watch manufacturers. However, as the novelty of this new electronic fad watch wore off, they became, much like pocket protectors and thick glasses, associated with nerds and today are no longer considered to be in vogue. Recently, they have come back in style and are worn ‘ironically’ by hipsters.

Tags:
November 29, 2011

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

shoulders-of-giants

Dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants (Latin: ‘nanos gigantium humeris insidentes’) is a Western metaphor meaning, ‘One who develops future intellectual pursuits by understanding the research and works created by notable thinkers of the past,’ a contemporary interpretation. However, the metaphor was first recorded in the twelfth century and attributed to Bernard of Chartres. It was famously uttered by seventeenth-century scientist Isaac Newton. In Greek mythology the blind giant Orion carried his servant Cedalion on his shoulders.

‘Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.’

read more »

November 29, 2011

Mirror Test

Bouillabes by Vimar

The mirror test is a measure of self-awareness, as animals either possess or lack the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror. The test was developed by Gordon Gallup Jr. in 1970, based in part on observations made by Charles Darwin. While visiting a zoo, Darwin held a mirror up to an orangutan and recorded the animal’s reaction, which included making a series of facial expressions.

Darwin noted that the significance of these expressions was ambiguous, and could either signify that the primate was making expressions at what it perceived to be another animal, or it could be playing a sort of game with a new toy.

read more »

November 29, 2011

Dymaxion Car

dymaxion car

fuller by todd st john

The Dymaxion [dahy-mak-see-uhn] car was a concept car designed by U.S. inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller in 1933. The word Dymaxion is a brand name that Fuller gave to several of his inventions, to emphasize that he considered them part of a more general project to improve humanity’s living conditions. The car had a fuel efficiency of 30 mpg, and could transport 11 passengers.

While Fuller claimed it could reach speeds of 120 miles per hour, the fastest documented speed was 90 miles per hour. Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi was involved with the development of the Dymaxion car, creating plaster wind tunnel models that were a factor in determining its shape, and during 1934 drove it for an extended road trip through Connecticut with congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce and actress Dorothy Hale.

read more »

Tags: ,
November 29, 2011

Pleasure Center

selfstim

Pleasure center is the general term used for the brain regions involved in pleasure. Discoveries made in the 1950s initially suggested that rodents could not stop electrically stimulating parts of their brain, mainly the nucleus accumbens, which was theorized to produce great pleasure.

Further investigations revealed that the septum pellucidium and the hypothalamus can also be targets for self-stimulation. Yet, more recent research has shown that such ‘pleasure’ electrodes do not, in fact, lead to pleasure but only a form of ‘wanting’ or motivation to obtain the stimulation. Instead, the weight of the evidence suggests that the pleasure center of the human brain is not a single center but rather a distributed system of brain regions of which important nodes include subcortical regions (such as the nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum) and cortical regions (orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex).

read more »

November 29, 2011

Tetrahydrocannabinol

thc

marinol

Tetrahydrocannabinol [te-truh-hahy-druh-kuh-nab-uh-nawl] (THC), also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC),  is the main chemical psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant. It was first isolated in 1964. In pure form, it is a glassy solid when cold, and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. An organic chemical (specifically an aromatic terpenoid), with very low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents (e.g. alcohol, acetone, and butane).

Like most pharmacologically-active plants, THC in cannabis is assumed to be involved in self-defense, perhaps against herbivores. THC also possesses high UV-B absorption properties, which, it has been speculated, could protect the plant from harmful UV radiation exposure. Dronabinol is the generic name of a THC isomer (it has the same number and type of atoms as THC but in a different configuration); it is sold as Marinol (a registered trademark of Solvay Pharmaceuticals).

read more »

Tags: ,