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Posts Tagged ‘John Searle

All Reith Now!…

Bertrand Russell delivering the first Reith Lecture

The Reith Lectures were inaugurated by the BBC in 1948 to honor the contributions of its first Director General, John Reith (more formally known by the end of his career as “John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith”).

Lord Reith had operated on the principle that broadcasting should be a public service that enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. In that spirit the BBC invites a leading figure to deliver a series of radio lectures each year– the aim being “to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.”

And so, over the last 63 years, British listeners have been treated to Arnold Toynbee on “The World and the West,” Robert Oppenheimer on “Science and Common Understanding,” John Searle on “Minds, Brains, and Science,” John Keegan on “War in Our World,” Marina Warner on “Managing Monsters”… and dozens more extraordinary minds explaining and provoking.

As of a few weeks ago the BBC has made the entire audio library of Reith Lectures available online, from Bertrand Russell’s kick-off through 2010’s Martin Rees on “Scientific Horizons.”


[TotH to @brainpicker for the link]

As we listen and learn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that “SOS” (. . . _ _ _ . . .) became the global standard radio distress signal.  While it was officially replaced in 1999 by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System, SOS is still recognized as a visual distress signal.

SOS has traditionally be “translated” (expanded) to mean “save our ship,” “save our souls,” “send out succor,” or other such pleas.  But while these may be helpful mnemonics, SOS is not an abbreviation or acronym.  Rather, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the letters were chosen simply because they are easily transmitted in Morse code.

click image above, or here

Language of the Rising Sun…

From Pink Tentacle:

Publisher Jiyu Kokuminsha has released its annual list of the 60 most popular Japanese expressions of the year. The words and phrases (listed below in no particular order) reflect some of the major trends, events, and people that captured the attention of the Japanese mass media in 2009. Included are plenty of references to Japan’s recent political shake-up, the ailing economy, and the blurring of traditional gender roles. From this list, a panel of judges will select the 10 trendiest Japanese expressions of 2009 and announce the results in early December.

For example:

The Alien [uch_jin]: Because of his quirky hairstyle, prominent eyes, and eccentric manner, Prime Minister Hatoyama is known by his supporters and opposition as “The Alien,” a nickname his wife says he earned because of how different he is from old-style Japanese politicians.

The new Prime Minister on a cookie box

“…to Venus in a UFO” [UFO de kinsei ni]: Colorful first lady Miyuki Hatoyama drew worldwide attention with her claim to have traveled to Venus aboard a UFO. Her account first appeared in a book entitled “Most Bizarre Things I’ve Encountered,” which features interviews with prominent people about unusual experiences. “While my body was sleeping, I think my spirit flew on a triangular-shaped UFO to Venus,” she said. “It was an extremely beautiful place and was very green.”

Herbivorous men [s_shoku danshi]: Coined in 2006 by author Maki Fukasawa, this term refers to an emerging breed of man whose passive nature stands in stark contrast to conventional notions of masculinity. Typically in his 20s or 30s, the herbivore doesn’t earn much money, spends little, takes a keen interest in fashion and his personal appearance, and does not aggressively pursue “flesh” (i.e. romance and sex). Friendly and home-oriented, he tends to favor cosmetics over deluxe cars and would rather eat sweets at home than treat his girlfriend to dinner at a fancy restaurant.

990-yen jeans: Fast Retailing, which operates the Uniqlo casual fashion chain, attracted attention in March when it began selling blue jeans for a surprisingly cheap 990 yen (about $11) at its g.u. stores. In addition to driving up sales at g.u., the bargain jeans touched off a denim price war as competitors slashed prices in response.

Explore further at Pink Tentacle.

As John Searle reminds us that we are what we say, we might toss a few grains of rice at Bobby Darin, crooner and teen heart-throb (the Zac Efron of his day, if you will), and Sandra Dee, the last major star under exclusive contract to a movie studio; they were wed on this date in 1960.

Poster for the film on which the couple met (source: BobbyDarin.net)


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