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“Happiness is not something ready made”*…

 

Hedonometer reading for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

A collaboration of data scientists at the University of Vermont and the Mitre Corporation, the Hedonometer was created to gauge happiness by assessing word use.  It was first applied to Twitter, as readers can see here.  More lately, it has been turned on the repository at Project Gutenberg, so that users can test the “happiness” of thousands of classic books… as above.  The chart in the top left shows happiness metrics through the whole of the book; the chart on the right shows a comparison of book sections, which one can select in the first chart.

As our friends at Flowing Data observe, “I wish I could say this meant something to me…”  Still, it makes one happy to know that they’re on the case.

* Dalai Lama

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As we search for word replacements codes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that Hamida Djandoubi became the last person to be legally executed in France by guillotine.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 10, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you”*…

 

p. 409. Clipperton plays tennis with the Glock 17 held steadily to his head

How to get an 11-year-old interested in the works of David Foster Wallace? Crack out your copy of Infinite Jest, and recreate it in Lego. That was the project embarked upon back in April by American English professor Kevin Griffith and his 11-year-old son Sebastian. They’ve just finished, and – running to more than 100 scenes, as I guess any recreation of a 1,000-plus page novel would have to – it’s something of a masterpiece. It certainly puts these Lego scenes of classic literature to shame.

Griffith and his son had the idea to “translate” Infinite Jest into Lego after reading Brendan Powell Smith’s The Brick Bible, which takes on the New Testament. “Wallace’s novel is probably the only contemporary text to offer a similar challenge to artists working in the medium of Lego”…

Read the more at “David Foster Wallace novel translated by an 11-year-old – into Lego,” and see more at at the Griffiths’ web site, Brickjest.

* David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

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As we piece it all together, we might send transformational birthday greetings to Paul Goodman; he was born on this date in 1911.  A man of many parts, Goodman earned a PhD in literature from the University of Chicago, where he taught until he was fired for insisting on his rights openly to avow his bisexuality and to fall in love with his students.  He went on to become a novelist, playwright, lay therapist (he co-founded the Gestalt Therapy movement), social critic, anarchist philosopher, and public intellectual.  The author of dozens of books, he’s probably best remembered for Growing Up Absurd and The Community of Scholars.  Part of the group known as “the New York intellectuals” (which included Daniel Bell, Norman Mailer, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Norman Podhoretz, Mary McCarthy, Lionel Trilling, and Philip Rahv) he was a regular contributor to PoliticsPartisan Review, The New Republic, Commentary, The New Leader, Dissent and The New York Review of Books. 

Any page of Paul Goodman will give you not only originality and brilliance but wisdom – that is, something to think about. He is our peculiar, urban, twentieth-century Thoreau, the quintessential American mind of our time.

- Hayden Carruth

 source

 

Written by LW

September 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy”*…

 

Reddit turns its lens on itself and its users…

Randall Munroe sorted the sciences nicely by purity. Let’s see what sequence the application of other metrics, like usage amount of specific words in the respective subreddits, yields.

About 434k randomly chosen comments to about 34k submissions from 2013-08 to 2014-07 on /r/biology/r/chemistry, /r/compsci, /r/engineering, /r/geology, /r/math, /r/medicine,/r/physics, /r/psychology and /r/sociologywere collected and analysed for frequency of specific words and phrases…

By way of analytic example: given the chart above, one shouldn’t probably shouldn’t be surprised by these results…

More insight at “Science subreddits and their choice of words.”

* Ren and Stimpy

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As we get our rocks on, we might send stony birthday greetings to Raphael Pumpelly; he was born on this date in 1837.  A geologist and explorer, Pumpelly is best remembered for his pioneering petrographic study of the Great Lakes region, as a result of which he sensed the increasing importance of steel, and advised investors to search for iron rather than gold– making those who heeded his advice great fortunes.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

“See Me, Feel Me”*…

 

Billboard for the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Tommy

In the late 60s, record companies took to the streets, using billboards to promote record releases. Photographer Robert Landau was there to document the blitz.

“When I went out to explore the world,” says Landau. “I felt the Strip was like a gallery; there were these hand-painted works of art on the street. … They looked like giant art pieces that kind of represented my generation and the music I listened to.”

“At one time, L.A. just felt a lot funkier. It felt more Western, and … people could come here and do whatever they want. To a degree, that created a lot of chaos, but there was something about that freedom that allowed people to do fun things,” he says. “Things were a little quirkier back then. There was a bit more of a personal feel to the environment.”

Read more at Dangerous Minds and at NPR; browse the full collection in his book, Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip; and see the ful range of his work at his site.

* single from The Who’s 1969 album Tommy.

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As we celebrate synesthesia, we might send birthday hooks to Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley**; he was born on this date in 1936.  A rock pioneer, Holley saw Elvis perform in 1955, and was inspired to create his own sound– a blend of Rockabilly and R&B– that exploded onto the music scene.  He was among the first to write, produce, and perform his own songs, and established the “two guitar, bass, and drums” template that became standard for rock.

His career lasted only a year and a half, before he was killed in a plane crash.  Still, he was profoundly influential on the future of popular music: an avowed influence on hundreds of acts, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan; and one of the most covered artists of all time.

** Decca Records misspelled his name “Holly” on his first release, and Holley adopted the “stage spelling” for the rest of his career.

Hear Buddy Holley/Holly on Spotify.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens”*…

 

From Sunbelt seekers and snowbird retirees to economic immigrants and political refugees, folks flock to southern Florida.  And many of them chose to return home– if not during their lives, then afterwards…  So it’s no surprise that the Miami area is the U.S. capital of corpse repatriation:

The transnational city is a place to die for. Ironically, however, once established in the transnational city, few envision staying there until their last breath. For many, it is a temporary venue, whether as a place of exile, a springboard for upward mobility, or a playground until new opportunities beckon. Few imagine dying there and, as the moment draws near, many make plans to go home.

In the transnational city, which is home to a disproportionate number of the foreign-born and expatriates, death and repatriation are a steady business. The bodies of an estimated 20 percent of South Florida’s deceased are shipped out, more than from any other region in the USA. Most of the HRs (industry shorthand for human remains) going abroad depart from Miami International Airport. According to the CEO of Pierson, a leader in this business since 1964, around 80 percent of business is international, with the company shipping to a range of foreign destinations across Central and South America and a number of European countries as well…

Read more about this last arc in the circle of life (and find out what it costs) at “Miami Is the #1 Airport in America for Shipping Dead Foreigners.”

[TotH to friend PH for the pointer]

* Woody Allen

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As we wonder if there’s a discount fare, we might recall that it was on this date in 1914 that “Little Willie,” the first prototype of the British Mark I tank– thus, the first completed tank prototype in the world– rolled out of the shop.  It weighed 14 tons, required rear steering wheels (so got stuck in trenches), and managed only two miles per hour; still, it was the first step toward a technology that revolutionized battlefields.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Wrestling is ballet with violence”*…

 

“You call it wrestling, they term it ‘working’ … As Shakespeare once said: ‘A rose by any other name,’ etc.” So Marcus Griffin began his groundbreaking 1937 book on the ins and outs of the pro wrestling business, Fall Guys: The Barnums of Bounce. It’s a good place to start, because any discussion of the grunt-and-groaners (as Griffin would call them) inevitably involves an examination of the artifice that undergirds the endeavor, and that artifice — be it the antediluvian secret that the whole show is a put-on, or the modern-day pretense that both actors and audience interact as if it’s legitimate — is itself bolstered by an intricate, seemingly inane vocabulary of lingo, idiom, and jargon.

Every subculture has its lingo, but the subbier the culture, the more unintelligible the dialect can be. Couple that with an industry conceived on falsehood and dedicated to keeping the lie alive, and you’ve got a rabbit hole that even the most stalwart of linguists would think twice before exploring. We take a stab at it here. The most obvious of terms, those used in common parlance outside the wrestling world — pin, feud, dud, etc. — are mostly omitted, despite their prevalence inside the biz. Some terms are listed within other definitions for readability’s sake. As with anything of this sort, this list is far from complete — and as with anything so idiomatic, the definitions are frequently debatable. Though some of the terms are obscure, their purpose is larger. The terms obscure the industry’s realities, sure; they function as a secret handshake among those with insider knowledge, obviously; but moreover, they try to describe a unique, oddball enterprise in terms of its own bizarre artistry…

From…

angle (n.) — A story line or plot in the wrestling product, as in, “They’re working a classic underdog angle.” It can be employed in either small-bore usage — i.e., the angle in a match — or in large-scale terms to describe a lengthy story. The term is borrowed from the archaic criminal/carnie phrase “work an angle,” which means figuring out a scam or finding an underhanded way to make a profit.

and…

Andre shot (n.) — A trick by which a camera is positioned beneath a wrestler, looking up, so as to make the wrestler look bigger. Famously used to make the 7-foot-4 Andre the Giant look even bigger than he was.

to…

workrate (n.) — A term for in-ring wrestling quality, used primarily by wrestling journalists to rate the physical and psychological performance of a match. The field of wrestling critique is often associated with journalist Dave Meltzer, who rates matches on a star scale; great matches throughout history are often referred to as “five-star matches” in reference to Meltzer’s rubric.

and…

zabada (n.) — A catch-all term for an arbitrary tool used to fill in a hole in anangle, usually used when the tool is still undefined, as in, “He’ll come out, cut a promo, run-in, zabada, then the finish.”

…it’s all in “Grantland Dictionary: Pro Wrestling Edition,” along with illustrations like the one above (for “chain wrestling”). Check out Grantland‘s other delightful dictionaries here.

* Jesse Ventura

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As we feel the frenzy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1906, in a game against Carroll College, that St. Louis University’s Bradbury “Brad” Robinson hit Jack Schneider with a 20-yard touchdown toss– the first legal forward pass in football.

“E. B. Cochems [the coach at St. Louis University in 1906] is to forward passing what the Wright brothers are to aviation and Thomas Edison is to the electric light.”

- College Football Hall of Fame coach David M. Nelson

1906 St. Louis Post-Dispatch drawing of Brad Robinson’s epic throw

source

 

Written by LW

September 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Talk to the Animals”*…

 

The sound that Gary Revell makes is otherworldly. Somewhere between a rusted door creaking open and a bullfrog with a sore throat. The simple materials he uses to create the sound – a strip of metal rubbing up against a wooden rod pounded into the earth – make it all the weirder, but that’s nothing compared to its effects on the environment around it. Like magic, the noise drives hundreds of earthworms out of the ground as if reporting for duty.

Revell is worm grunting, an obscure but effective way of gathering earthworms for fishing bait that inhabitants of his town Sopchoppy, on the Florida panhandle, have been practicing for generations. Also known as worm charming, worm fiddling, worm calling, worm snoring, and any number of other regional variations, the act of rubbing wood and metal together to create vibrations in the soil has proven to be one of the best ways for gathering the hearty, meaty Diplocardia mississippiensis earthworms that this corner of the Apalachicola National Forest is known for. In a typical morning, Revell can gather 3,000 to 4,000 worms with his wife, Audrey, which they sell in buckets of 50 for $35…

Dig more deeply into this art and science ay Modern Farmer‘s “Worm Grunting: The Age-Old Tradition of Charming Worms out of the Ground“; and watch the action at the Sopchoppy Worm Grunting Festival in this video:

email readers click here for video

* the title of a song written by Leslie Bricusse for Doctor Dolittle, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968 (for 1967)

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As we agree with Darwin (and Aristotle), we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Peter B. Cortese managed a one-armed dead-lift of 370 pounds– 22 pounds more than triple his bodyweight.

 source

 

Written by LW

September 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

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