Archive for March, 2016

March 31, 2016

Dutch Uncle

honesty by Allison Ross

Dutch uncle refers to a person who issues frank, harsh, or severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage, or admonish (the reverse of what is normally thought of as avuncular or uncle-like, i.e. indulgent and permissive). During the Anglo-Dutch Wars in the 17th century, the English language gained an array of similar insults, such as: ‘Dutch courage’ (alcohol-induced bravery), ‘Double Dutch’ (incomprehensible, nonsense), ‘Dutch cap’ (contraceptive diaphragm), ‘Dutch wife’ (sex doll), ‘Dutch widow’ (prostitute), ‘Dutch comfort’ (saying that ‘Things could be worse!’), ‘Dutch metal’ or ‘Dutch gold’ (cheap alloy resembling gold), ‘Dutch treat’ (social date where the invitee pays for himself/herself), ‘Dutch concert’ (noise and uproar, as from a drunken crowd), and ‘Dutch-bottomed’ (empty).

Another proposed explanation is that the term, often expressed as ‘talk to one like a Dutch uncle,’ originated in the early 19th century as an allusion to the sternness and sobriety attributed to the Dutch. Dutch behavior is defined in the book ‘Culture Shock! Netherlands: A Survival Guide To Customs and Etiquette’ as ‘practical, direct, outspoken, stubborn, well-organized, blunt and thinking they are always right.’ Another book that advocates this theory is ‘The UnDutchables,’ which assigns comparable characteristics: ‘not lacking in self-esteem … caught up in a cycle of endless envy … always speak their mind … frank, obstinate, blunt,’ basically summed up by the phrase ‘the natives thrive on shaking their fingers at and scolding each other.’

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March 29, 2016

Hard Sell

boiler room

abc

In advertising, a hard sell is an advertisement or campaign that uses a more direct, forceful, and overt sales message. The term is also used to describe aggressive sales techniques used by company representatives, particularly in the context of doorstep selling.

The concepts that distinguish a hard sell from a ‘soft sell’ (subtle, casual, or friendly sales message) have to do with directness of an advertiser or seller, rational appeal, and the amount of information given to the buyer about a product. A hard sell is extremely direct in nature. An advertisement will contain a forceful, loud slogan in order to grab buyers’ attention, or a salesperson will be very persistent, cornering their buyer into purchasing the product they are selling.

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March 28, 2016

Me Generation

shampoo

manhattan

The Me Generation refers to the ‘baby boomer’ generation (Americans born during the 1946 to 1964 post-war baby boom) and the self-involved qualities that some social critics associated with it. Boomers were dubbed the ‘Me’ generation by writer Tom Wolfe during the 1970s; Christopher Lasch was another writer who commented on the rise of a culture of narcissism among the younger generation. The phrase caught on with the general public, at a time when ‘self-realization’ and ‘self-fulfillment’ were becoming cultural aspirations among young people, who considered them far more important than social responsibility.

The 1960s are remembered as a time of political protests, radical experimentation with new cultural experiences (e.g. Sexual Revolution, ‘happenings,’ and New Age spirituality). The Civil Rights Movement gave rebellious young people serious goals to work towards. Cultural experimentation was justified as being directed toward spiritual or intellectual enlightenment. The 1970s, in contrast, were a time of disillusionment with idealistic politics among the young, particularly after the resignation of Richard Nixon, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the end of the Vietnam War. Unapologetic hedonism became acceptable among the young, expressed in the Disco music popular at the time.

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March 27, 2016

Conductive Textile

conductive thread

polotech

A conductive textile is a fabric which can conduct electricity. Conductive textiles can be made with metal strands woven into the construction of the textile. There is also an interest in semiconducting textiles, made by impregnating normal textiles with carbon- or metal-based powders.

Conductive fibers consist of a non-conductive or less conductive substrate, which is then either coated or embedded with electrically conductive elements, often carbon, nickel, copper, gold, silver, or titanium. Substrates typically include cotton, polyester, nylon, and stainless steel to high performance synthetic fibers like Kevlar and Zylon. Straddling the worlds of textiles and wires, conductive fibers are sold either by weight or length, and measured in gauge.

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March 26, 2016

Shared Universe

star wars

A shared universe is a set of creative works where more than one writer (or other artist) independently contributes a work that can stand alone but fits into the joint development of the storyline, characters, or world of the overall project. It is common in genres like science fiction. It differs from ‘collaborative writing’ where multiple artists are working together on the same work, and from ‘crossovers’ where the works and characters are independent except for a single meeting.

The term shared universe is also used within comics to reflect the overall milieu created by the comic book publisher in which characters, events, and premises from one product line appear in other product lines in a media franchise. The term has also been used in a wider, non-literary sense to convey interdisciplinary or social commonality, often in the context of a ‘shared universe of discourse.’

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March 25, 2016

The Wolfpack

wolfpack

The Wolfpack is a 2015 American documentary film about a family who homeschooled and raised their seven children in the confinement of their apartment in the Lower East Side of New York City. The film, directed by Crystal Moselle, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

Locked away for fourteen years, the Angulo family’s seven children—six brothers named Mukunda, Narayana, Govinda, Bhagavan, Krisna (Glenn), and Jagadesh (Eddie), and their sister Visnu—learned about the world through watching films. They also re-enact scenes from their favorite movies.  Their father, Oscar, had the only door key and prohibited the kids and their mother from leaving the apartment except for a few strictly-monitored trips on the ‘nefarious’ streets.

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March 24, 2016

Fika

tosse bageriet

coffee break

Fika [fee-kah] is a concept in Swedish culture with the basic meaning ‘to have coffee,’ often accompanied with pastries or sandwiches. A more contemporary generalized meaning of the word, where the coffee may be replaced by tea or even juice, lemonade or squash for children, has become widespread. In some social circles, even just a sandwich or a small meal may be denoted a fika similar to the English concept of afternoon tea. In Sweden pastries in general (for example cinnamon buns) are often referred to as ‘fikabröd’ (‘fika bread’).

Fika is a common practice at workplaces in Sweden where it constitutes at least one break during a normal workday. Often, two fikas are taken in a day at around 9:00 in the morning and 3:00 in the afternoon. The work fika is an important social event where employees can gather and socialize to discuss private and professional matters. It is not uncommon for management to join employees and to some extent it can even be considered impolite not to join one’s colleagues at fika. The practice is not limited to any specific sector of the labor market and is considered normal practice even in government administration.

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March 21, 2016

Manspreading

manspreading

Manspreading, or man-sitting, is the practice of sitting in public transport with legs wide apart, thereby covering more than one seat. Both this posture and usage of the term ‘manspreading’ have caused some internet criticism, and debates. The term first appeared in public debate when a feminist anti-manspreading campaign was started on Tumblr in 2013. The Oxford English Dictionary added it as a word in August 2015.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York and Sound Transit of Seattle instituted poster campaigns encouraging respectful posture when other passengers have to stand due to crowding on buses and trains. The MTA campaign carried slogans like ‘Dude, stop the spread please!’

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March 20, 2016

You Have Two Cows

Pat Paulsen

You have two cows‘ is a joke comparing political systems that circulated throughout the US since around 1936 under the title ‘Parable of the Isms.’ A column in ‘The Chicago Daily Tribune’ in 1938 attributes a version involving socialism, communism, fascism and New Dealism to an address by lawyer Silas Strawn to the Economic Club of Chicago in 1935.

The joke always begins with ‘You have two cows…’ followed by a political system and its effect on the cows. For example, ‘socialism’ (the government takes one and gives it to your neighbor), ‘communism’ (you give them to the government, and the government then gives you some milk), fascism (you give them to the government, and the government then sells you some milk), and capitalism (you sell one and buy a bull).

March 18, 2016

Dog-whistle Politics

gop by Rick Sealock

Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The phrase is often used as a pejorative, because of the inherently deceptive nature of the practice and because the messages are frequently coded because they are distasteful to the general populace. The analogy is to a dog whistle, whose high-frequency whistle is heard by dogs but inaudible to humans.

The term can be distinguished from ‘code words’ used in some specialist professions, in that dog-whistling is specific to the political realm. The messaging referred to as the dog-whistle has an understandable meaning for a general audience, rather than being incomprehensible.

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March 17, 2016

Witzelsucht

thats what she said

david brent by Anne D Bernstein

Witzelsucht [vit-sel-zuhkt] (from the German ‘witzeln,’ meaning ‘to joke or wisecrack,’ and ‘sucht,’ meaning ‘addiction or yearning’) is a set of rare neurological symptoms characterized by a tendency to make puns, or tell inappropriate jokes or pointless stories in socially inappropriate situations. A less common symptom is hypersexuality, the tendency to make sexual comments at inappropriate times or situations. Patients do not understand that their behavior is abnormal, therefore are nonresponsive to others’ reactions. This disorder is most commonly seen in patients with frontal lobe damage, particularly right frontal lobe tumors or trauma.

Those with the condition often show no emotional reaction to humor, whether produced by themselves or others. This lack of responsiveness is due to dissociation between their cognitive and affective responses to humorous stimuli. That is, even when a patient understands that a joke is funny (based on quantitative brain activity), they do not respond with laughter, or even a smile. While they have grasped the cognitive basis of humor, they do not affectively respond. This also considered a cognitive component of empathy, affecting ability to take the perspective of others; hence why patients often do not respond to humor produced by other people.

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March 15, 2016

Swan Dress

vespertine

The swan dress is an iconic dress resembling a white swan worn by the Icelandic artist Björk in 2001 at the 73rd Academy Awards. Created by Macedonian fashion designer Marjan Pejoski, the dress is modeled after a swan and at the ceremony Björk mimicked laying an egg on the red carpet. She later said: “I was very aware when I went to the Academy Awards that it would probably be my first and last time. So I thought my input should really be about fertility, and I thought I’d bring some eggs.”

It was described by film critic Emanuel Levy as ‘A giant swan dress, a full-body stocking that was covered with a giant swan whose neck wrapped around her with its head and beak resting on her breasts.’ She had two copies of the dress produced, given that it could not be taken to the dry cleaners. She later wore that dress on the cover of her 2001 record album ‘Vespertine’ and variations of it many times on the ‘Vespertine World Tour.’

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