Archive for September, 2012

September 27, 2012

High Context Culture

Edward T. Hall

High context culture and the contrasting ‘low context culture’ are terms presented by the anthropologist Edward T. Hall in his 1976 book ‘Beyond Culture.’ It refers to a culture’s tendency to use high context messages over low context messages in routine communication. This choice of communication styles translates into a culture that will cater to in-groups, an in-group being a group that has similar experiences and expectations, from which inferences are drawn.

In a high context culture, many things are left unsaid, letting the culture explain. Words and word choice become very important in higher context communication, since a few words can communicate a complex message very effectively to an in-group (but less effectively outside that group), while in a lower context culture, the communicator needs to be much more explicit and the value of a single word is less important.

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September 27, 2012

Henny Penny

Chicken Little

Henny Penny, also known as ‘Chicken Licken’ or ‘Chicken Little,’ is a folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase ‘The sky is falling!’ features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.

The story is listed in the Aarne–Thompson tale type index (a listing designed to help folklorists identify recurring plot patterns in the narrative structures of traditional folktales) as type 20C, which includes international examples of folktales that make light of paranoia and mass hysteria.

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September 27, 2012

Mixtape

Cassette

A mixtape is the generic name given to any compilation of songs recorded onto a Compact Cassette, Compact Disc, music file, or any other audio format. A mixtape, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler, can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape’s intended recipient.

Essayist Geoffrey O’Brien has called the personal mix tape ‘the most widely practiced American art form.’ Mixtape enthusiasts believe that by carefully selecting and ordering the tracks in a mix, an artistic statement can be created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs. With the advent of affordable, consumer-level digital audio, creating and distributing mixes in the form of compact disc or MP3 playlists has become the contemporary method of choice, but the term mix tape is still commonly used, even for mixes in different media.Video mixtapes have emerged as well.

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September 27, 2012

Yojimbo

A Fistful of Dollars

Yojimbo (Japanese: ‘bodyguard’) is a 1961 period drama directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a ronin (a samurai without a master), portrayed by Toshirō Mifune (star of several of Kurosawa’s films), who arrives in a small town where competing crime lords vie for supremacy. The two bosses each try to hire the deadly newcomer for protection. The film’s look and themes were in part inspired by the western film genre, in particular the films of John Ford (e.g. ‘The Searchers’).

The characters—the taciturn loner and the helpless townsfolk needing a protector—are western archetypes and are reminiscent of Kurosawa’s own ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954). The cinematography also mimics conventional shots in western films, such as that of the lone hero in a wide shot, facing an enemy or enemies from a distance while the wind kicks up dust between the two.

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September 27, 2012

Man with No Name

Yojimbo

The man with no name (Italian: ‘Uomo senza nome’) is a stock character in Western films, but the term usually applies specifically to the character played by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s ‘Dollars Trilogy’ (‘A Fistful of Dollars,’ ‘For a Few Dollars More,’ and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.’ A ‘Fistful of Dollars’ was directly adapted from Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Yojimbo.’ It was the subject of a successful lawsuit by Yojimbo’s producers.

The film’s protagonist, an unconventional ronin played by Toshirō Mifune, bears a striking resemblance to Eastwood’s character: both are quiet, gruff, eccentric strangers with a strong but unorthodox sense of justice and extraordinary proficiency with a particular weapon (in Mifune’s case, a katana; for Eastwood, a revolver). Like Eastwood’s character, Mifune’s ronin is nameless. When pressed, he gives the pseudonym ‘Sanjuro Kuwabatake’ (meaning ‘thirty-year-old mulberry field’), a reference to his age and something he sees through a window (although, regarding the age he jokes ‘Closer to forty actually’).

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September 27, 2012

Heated Clothing

E-textiles

Most heated clothing is designed for cold-weather sports and activities, such as motorcycle riding, downhill skiing, winter biking, and snowmobiling, trekking and for outdoor workers such as construction workers and carpenters. Normal insulation works by trapping body heat, so if it gets wet from sweat or rain, or if a person stops exercising, the insulation may not keep them warm.

With heated garments, a person can keep warm even if they are resting and not producing heat, or if their coat is damp from sweat. The most widely-available types of heated clothing are products for the extremities- the hands and feet. These body parts are the most likely to suffer frostbite or frostnip in severe cold. As such, many manufacturers make heated gloves, mittens, socks, and boot liners, and they can be purchased at workers’ supply stores (serving construction workers) and motor sports stores. Heated torso coverings (vests or jackets) or leggings are available from specialty retailers that cater to motorcyclists and downhill skiers.

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September 27, 2012

Home Automation

zigbee

Home automation (also called domotics) is the residential extension of ‘building automation’ (electronic which monitor and control the mechanical, electronics, and lighting systems in a building). ‘Building Automation Systems’ (BAS) keep the building climate within a specified range, provides lighting based on an occupancy schedule, and monitors system performance and device failures and provides email and/or text notifications to building staff.

Home automation may include centralized control of lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), appliances, and other systems, to provide improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency, and security. Home automation for the elderly and disabled can provide increased quality of life for persons who might otherwise require caregivers or institutional care.

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September 27, 2012

Internet Kill Switch

The IT Crowd

An Internet kill switch is the cybercrime and countermeasures concept of activating a single shut off mechanism for all Internet traffic. The theory behind a kill switch is creation of a single point of control for one authority or another to control in order to ‘shut down the internet to protect it’ from unspecified assailants. The prospect of cyberwarfare over the 2000s has prompted the drafting of legislation by US officials, but worldwide the implications of actually of ‘killing’ the Internet has prompted criticism of the idea in the United States.

During the 2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya access to the Internet was denied in an effort to limit peer networking to facilitate organization. The Communications Act of 1934 established the United States’ Federal regulation of electronic communications. In this act, created by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration enabled the president powers of control over the media under certain circumstances such as during wartime or a national emergency.

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September 27, 2012

Cyberwarfare

cyber defence

Cyberwarfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation. U.S. government security expert Richard A. Clarke, in his book ‘Cyber War’ (2010), defines ‘cyberwarfare’ as ‘actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption.’

‘The Economist’ describes cyberspace as ‘the fifth domain of warfare,’ and William J. Lynn, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, states that ‘as a doctrinal matter, the Pentagon has formally recognized cyberspace as a new domain in warfare . . . [which] has become just as critical to military operations as land, sea, air, and space.’

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September 27, 2012

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson

The Master is a 2012 film written, directed, and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern. The film depicts alcoholic Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and struggling to adjust to a post-war society. He is taken under the wing of a charismatic mystic Lancaster Dodd, progenitor of a new religious movement.

It was first reported in 2009 that Anderson had been working on a script about the founder of a new religious organization (described as being similar to Scientology) played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In 2011 it was reported that Megan Ellison, daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, would finance ‘The Master’ and Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel ‘Inherent Vice’ under her new production company Annapurna Pictures. Harvey Weinstein later picked up the worldwide rights to the film.

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September 26, 2012

Film à clef

Citizen Kane

A film à clef [fil ma kle] (French for ‘film with a key’), is a film describing real life, behind a façade of fiction. ‘Key’ in this context means a table one can use to swap out the names. It is the film equivalent of the roman à clef (‘novel with a key’). Notable films à clef’s include ‘8½,’ based on Federico Fellini’s experience suffering from ‘director’s block.’ ‘Annie Hall,’ is believed to be a version of Woody Allen’s own relationship with Diane Keaton. Allen has denied this in interviews, however. ‘Citizen Kane,’ is a thinly disguised biographical film about publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. ‘Dreamgirls,’ the musical film based on the career of The Supremes.

‘Magnolia’ is loosely inspired by Paul Thomas Anderson’s experience in dealing with his father’s death from cancer. ‘Adaptation’ is partially adapted from Susan Orlean’s non-fiction book ‘The Orchid Thief,’ but most of the film is a heavily fictionalized account of Charlie Kaufman’s difficulty in adapting the book into a screenplay. In ‘Lost in Translation’ Charlotte and John are believed to be based loosely on writer-director Sofia Coppola and her ex-husband, Spike Jonze. ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ features a protagonist based loosely on Jacques Cousteau.

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September 26, 2012

Roman à clef

primary colors

Roman à clef [raw-mah na kle] (French for ‘novel with a key’) is a phrase used to describe a novel about real life, overlaid with a facade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the ‘key’ is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction. This ‘key’ may be produced separately by the author, or implied through the use of epigraphs (a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document) or other literary devices.

Created by French writer Madeleine de Scudery in the 17th century to provide a forum for her thinly veiled fiction featuring political and public figures, roman à clef has since been used by writers as diverse as Victor Hugo, Phillip K. Dick, and Bret Easton Ellis.

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