Archive for March 7th, 2013

March 7, 2013

Neologism

A neologism [nee-ol-uh-jiz-uhm] is a newly coined term, word, or phrase, that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event. The term is first attested in English in 1772, borrowed from French ‘néologisme.’ In psychiatry, the term is used to describe the use of words that have meaning only to the person who uses them, independent of their common meaning.

This tendency is considered normal in children, but in adults can be a symptom of psychopathy or a thought disorder (e.g. schizophrenia). People with autism also may create neologisms. Additionally, use of neologisms may be related to aphasia (sudden loss of language comprehension) acquired after brain damage resulting from a stroke or head injury. In theology, a ‘neologism’ is a relatively new doctrine (e.g. Transcendentalism). In this sense, a neologist is one who proposes either a new doctrine or a new interpretation of source material such as religious texts.

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March 7, 2013

The Style Invitational

style invitational by Bob Staake

The Style Invitational, or Invite, is a long-running humor contest that ran first in the Style section of the Sunday ‘Washington Post’ before moving to Saturday’s Style and later returning to the Sunday paper. Started in 1993, it has run weekly, except for a hiatus in late 1999. In that time, it has had two anonymous head judges who select winning entries: ‘The Czar’ abdicated in late 2003, leaving the contest in the hands of his former associate, ‘The Empress.’

The humor ranges from an intellectual vein to a less mature style, and frequently touches on sophisticated political or historical allusions. While the contest theme changes every week, some popular contests are periodically repeated. The S.I. has a loyal following of self-proclaimed ‘Losers,’ who refer to having a contest entry published as ‘getting ink.’

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March 7, 2013

Science Made Stupid

Parody science

Science Made Stupid: How to Discomprehend the World Around Us’ is a book written and illustrated by Tom Weller in 1985. The winner of the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book, it is a parody of a junior high or high school-level science textbook. Though currently out-of-print, high-resolution scans are available online, as well as an abridged transcription, both of which have been endorsed by Weller.

Highlights of the book include a satirical account of the creationism vs. evolution debate and Weller’s drawings of fictional prehistoric animals (e.g., the duck-billed mastodon.) Weller released a companion volume, ‘Culture Made Stupid’ (also spelled ‘Cvltvre Made Stvpid’), which satirizes literature and the humanities.

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March 7, 2013

WFMU

WFMU

WFMU is a listener-supported, independent community radio station headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, broadcasting at FM 91.1 (at 90.1 as WMFU, and at 91.9 as W219DQ), presenting a freeform radio format (in which the disc jockey is given total control over what music to play, regardless of music genre or commercial interests). It is the longest-running freeform radio station in the US, commencing broadcasting in 1958, licensed to Upsala College in East Orange.

Although originally a student-staffed and faculty-administered college radio operation, by the 1980s most of the station’s staff had no affiliation with the college, and management, though hired by the college, had little involvement with the academic community. Shortly before Upsala’s bankruptcy filing and closure in 1995, a group of station executives, personnel, and supporters formed Auricle Communications and bought the license from the college, making it a fully independent radio station. In 1998 the station’s studios and offices were relocated to a Jersey City facility purchased with listener donations.

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March 7, 2013

Freeform Radio

Freeform radio, is a radio station programming format in which the disc jockey is given total control over what music to play, regardless of music genre or commercial interests. Freeform radio stands in contrast to most commercial radio stations, in which DJs have little or no influence over programming structure or playlists. In the United States, freeform DJs are still bound by Federal Communications Commission regulations.

Many shows lay claim to be the first freeform radio program; the earliest is ‘Nightsounds’ on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California, D.J.’d by John Leonard. Probably the best-remembered in the Midwest is ‘Beaker Street,’ which ran for almost 10 years on KAAY ‘The Mighty 1090’ in Little Rock, Arkansas, beginning in 1966, making it also probably the best-known such show on an AM station; its signal reached from Canada to Mexico and Cuba, blanketing the Midwest and Midsouth of the U.S.

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March 7, 2013

Payola

Payola [pey-oh-luh], in the American music industry, is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music radio in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day’s broadcast.

A radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be counted as a ‘regular airplay.’ The term has come to refer to any secret payment made to cast a product in a favorable light (such as obtaining positive reviews). Some radio stations report spins of the newest and most popular songs to industry publications. The number of times the songs are played can influence the perceived popularity of a song.

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March 7, 2013

Mortality Salience

Mortality salience [sey-lee-uhns] is a term which describes awareness of one’s eventual death. Mortality salience has the potential to cause worldview defense, a psychological mechanism which strengthens people’s connection with their in-group as a defense mechanism. This can lead to feelings of nationalism and racial bigotry being intensified.

Studies also show that mortality salience can also lead people to feel more inclined to punish minor moral transgressions. One such study divided a group of judges into two groups — one which was asked to reflect upon their own mortality, and one group which was not. The judges were then asked to set a bond for an alleged prostitute. The group who had reflected on mortality set an average bond of $455, while the control group’s average bond was $50.

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March 7, 2013

The Trap

Adam Curtis

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom’ is a 2007 BBC documentary series by English filmmaker Adam Curtis, well known for other documentaries including ‘The Century of the Self’ and ‘The Power of Nightmares.’

The series consists of three one-hour programs which explore the concept and definition of freedom, specifically, ‘how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom.’

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