Archive for May 17th, 2012

May 17, 2012

Silent Majority


The silent majority is an unspecified large majority of people in a country or group who do not express their opinions publicly. The term was popularized (though not first used) by U.S. President Richard Nixon in a 1969, speech in which he said, ‘And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.’

In this usage it referred to those Americans who did not join in the large demonstrations against the Vietnam War at the time, who did not join in the counterculture, and who did not participate in public discourse. Nixon along with many others saw this group of Middle Americans as being overshadowed in the media by the more vocal minority. The phrase was used in the 19th century as a euphemism referring to all the people who have died, and others have used it before and after Nixon to refer to groups of voters in various nations of the world.

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May 17, 2012

Social Desirability Bias

masks by shel silverstein

Social desirability bias is the tendency of respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. It can take the form of over-reporting good behavior or under-reporting bad behavior. The tendency poses a serious problem with conducting research with self-reports, especially questionnaires. Topics of special concern are self-reports of abilities, personality, sexual behavior, and drug use.

When confronted with the question ‘How often do you masturbate?,’ for example, respondents may be pressured by the societal taboo against masturbation, and either under-report the frequency or avoid answering the question. Therefore the mean rates of masturbation derived from self-report surveys are likely to be severe underestimates.

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May 17, 2012

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a thought model that claims that to be successful, people must be able to know their own feelings. They must also be able to guess and influence the emotions of other people, and of groups of other people. There are several different models that disagree about the exact definition of the term. Criticisms have centered on whether the construct is a real intelligence and whether it has incremental validity over IQ and the Big Five personality dimensions.

The earliest roots of emotional intelligence can be traced to Charles Darwin’s work on the importance of emotional expression for survival and, second, adaptation. In the 1900s, even though traditional definitions of intelligence emphasized cognitive aspects such as memory and problem-solving, several influential researchers in the intelligence field of study had begun to recognize the importance of the non-cognitive aspects. For instance, as early as 1920, American psychologist E.L. Thorndike used the term ‘social intelligence’ to describe the skill of understanding and managing other people.

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May 17, 2012

Vulture Fund

vulture cap

A vulture fund is a private equity or hedge fund that invests in debt issued by an entity that is considered to be very weak or dying, or whose debt is in imminent default. The name is a metaphor comparing these investors to vultures patiently circling, waiting to pick over the remains of a rapidly weakening company or, in the case of sovereign debt, debtor country. Market practitioners refer to them as distressed debt or special situations funds.

Vulture funds have sometimes had success in bringing actions against sovereign debtor governments, usually settling with them before forced sales. Settlements typically are made at a discount in hard or local currency or in the form of new debt issuance. A related term is ‘vulture investing,’ where certain stocks in near bankrupt companies are purchased upon anticipation of asset divestiture or successful reorganization. A prime example in the US is K-Mart, where the real estate held by the company was the anticipated payout for investors who bought stock during their bankruptcy proceedings.

May 17, 2012

L’enfant Terrible


L’enfant terrible [ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh] (‘terrible child’) is a French term for a child who is terrifyingly candid by saying embarrassing things to adults, especially parents.

The OED describes it as, ‘a child who embarrasses his elders by untimely remarks; transf. a person who compromises his associates or his party by unorthodox or ill-considered speech or behavior; loosely, one who acts unconventionally.’ Webster’s defines an enfant terrible as an unusual person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, and/or avant-garde.

May 17, 2012


americas gun

The Glock is a series of semi-automatic pistols designed and produced in Austria. The company’s founder, engineer Gaston Glock, had no experience with firearm design or manufacture at the time their first pistol, the Glock 17, was being prototyped in 1982.

Glock did, however, have extensive experience in advanced synthetic polymers, knowledge of which was instrumental in the company’s design of the first successful line of pistols with a polymer frame. Glock introduced ferritic nitrocarburizing, a form of case hardening, into the firearms industry as an anti-corrosion surface treatment for metal gun parts.

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