Archive for September 16th, 2012

September 16, 2012

Have one’s cake and eat it too

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch

To have one’s cake and eat it too is a popular English idiomatic proverb or figure of speech most often used negatively, to connote the idea of consuming a thing whilst managing to preserve it. This may also indicate having or wanting more than one can handle or deserve, or trying to have two incompatible things. The proverb’s meaning is similar to the phrases, ‘you can’t have it both ways’ and ‘you can’t have the best of both worlds.’

Conversely, in the positive sense, it would refer to ‘having it both ways’ or ‘having the best of both worlds.’ This concept, known as opportunity cost, is one of the most important economic concepts. The phrase’s earliest recording is from 1546 as ‘wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?’ (John Heywood’s ‘A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue’). This phrase alludes to the impossibility of eating your cake and still having it afterwards.

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September 16, 2012

Artistic License

Ecce Homo

Artistic license is a colloquial term, sometimes euphemism, used to denote the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist to improve a piece of art. The artistic license may also refer to the ability of an artist to apply smaller distortions, such as a poet ignoring some of the minor requirements of grammar for poetic effect.

For example, Mark Antony’s ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears’ from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ would technically require the word ‘and’ before ‘countrymen,’ but the conjunction ‘and’ is omitted to preserve the rhythm of iambic pentameter (syllabic pattern). Conversely, on the next line, the end of ‘I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him’ has an extra syllable because omitting the word ‘him’ would make the sentence unclear, but adding a syllable at the end would not disrupt the meter. Both of these are examples of artistic license.

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September 16, 2012


False advertising

Papa John's Pizza

Puffery [puhf-uh-ree] as a legal term refers to promotional statements and claims that express subjective rather than objective views, which no ‘reasonable person’ would take literally. Puffery serves to ‘puff up’ an exaggerated image of what is being described and is especially featured in testimonials. In a legal context, the term originated in the English Court of Appeal case, which centered on whether a monetary reimbursement should be paid when an influenza preventive device failed to work.

The manufacturers had paid for advertising stating that £100 would be paid in such circumstances then failed to follow through. Part of their defense was that such a statement was ‘mere puff’ and not meant to be taken seriously. While the defense ultimately lost the case the principle was confirmed that certain statements made by advertisers, that were obviously not made in a serious manner, could be exempt from usual rules relating to promises in open contracts.

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