Archive for April, 2016

April 6, 2016

800-pound Gorilla

might makes right by tad peyton

‘800-pound gorilla’ is an American English expression for a person or organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the rights of others or the law. The phrase is rooted in a joke riddle: ‘Where does an 800-lb. gorilla sit?’ The answer: ‘Anywhere it wants to.’

The term can describe a powerful geopolitical and military force, or, in business, a powerful corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush would-be competitors. The metaphor has been mixed, on occasion, with the metaphor of the elephant in the room (an obvious truth that is going unaddressed).

April 5, 2016

Fighting Words

trump by hanksy

Fighting words are written or spoken words, generally expressed to incite hatred or violence from their target. Specific definitions, freedoms, and limitations of fighting words vary by jurisdiction. It is also used in a general sense of words that when uttered tend to create (deliberately or not) a verbal or physical confrontation by their mere usage.

In 1942, the Supreme Court established the doctrine by a 9–0 decision in ‘Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.’ It held that ‘insulting or ‘fighting words,’ those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace’ are among the ‘well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech the prevention and punishment of [which] … have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.’ Chaplinsky, a Jehovah’s Witness, had purportedly told a New Hampshire town marshal who was attempting to prevent him from preaching that he was ‘a God-damned racketeer’ and ‘a damned fascist’ and was arrested. The court upheld the arrest.

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April 4, 2016

Beep Baseball

nbba

The National Beep Baseball Association NBBA was organized in 1976 for visually impaired adults to play baseball. Each year it coordinates local, state, and regional tournaments. The World Series was held in Taiwan in 2000. The game is played on a grass field with six fielders (generally a first-baseman, third-baseman, shortstop, left fielder, right fielder, and center fielder) and one or two ‘spotters’ (sighted individuals that call out a number to signify which part of the field a ball is travelling towards), as well as a sighted pitcher and catcher. Fielders and batter are blindfolded.

There is also a DH and DF (designated hitter and fielder). They must also be legally blind in most cases. However, the NBBA has a rule that, if a team cannot field the minimum six batters required to fill its lineup card, it may opt to allow up to two sighted volunteers to blindfold themselves and play as the visually impaired players do. The ball beeps and is a modified, and oversized, softball. The bases are blue, nearly 5 ft tall, and have mostly foam interior with the electronics that cause it to buzz steadily when a switch is thrown. They are each placed 100 ft from homeplate and are in the equivalent positions to first and third bases in regular baseball.

April 1, 2016

April Fools’ Day

Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney

April Fools’ Day (sometimes called ‘All Fools’ Day’) is celebrated every year on the first day of April by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. Pranksters expose their ruse by shouting ‘April Fool.’ Some newspapers, magazines, and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in small letters. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in any country.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’ (1392) contains the first recorded association between the first of April and foolishness. Some precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, the Holi festival of India, and the Medieval Feast of Fools.

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