Word of the Day – The Pink Tax

Pink Tax – a higher price for the woman’s version of the same product or service, compared to the men’s version. Most often seen in personal hygiene products like deodorants and shampoo. The price difference may originate with the manufacturer, the retailer, or in some cases the government:

Since 2000, a New York City trade lawyer named Michael Cone has been fighting the federal government over gender-bias tariffs. While researching import tariffs (fees the U.S. charges on goods imported from other countries) at the request of a client who manufactured shoes, Cone discovered that the tariffs diverged across gender lines: men’s sneakers were taxed at 8.5 percent, while women’s were taxed at 10 percent.

As he continue researching, he found more and more price discrepancies based on gender. (An imported wool suit is taxed 8.5 percent for a woman and zero for a man?!) Some male items, like gloves, were more costly to males (14 percent versus 12.6 percent for females), but by-and-large, women’s items were taxed more.

Previous WOTD - Page Parking and Parallel Browsing (Web Browser Tab Usage)

Word of the Day – Page Parking and Parallel Browsing (Web Browser Tab Usage)

From Jakob Nielsen:

Summary: Browser tabs separate the stages of collection and comparing and serve as memory aids to keep many alternate pages available for consideration as users are shopping or researching. Follow 7 UX guidelines to better support this user behavior, which is particularly common among younger users.

How do people use the tabs in modern browsers? The ability to keep multiple pages open at the same time in different tabs can be used for parallel browsing, where a user alternates between tasks and resurfaces a tab when it’s time to work on the task in that tab. For example, a user might keep Facebook open all day in a tab that’s checked for updates from time to time.

Our recent user studies for the course Designing for Millennials found that young adult users engage in another tab-related behavior, which we call page parking: opening multiple pages in rapid-fire succession as a way to save the items on those pages and revisit them at a later stage. This behavior often occurs when shopping, researching, or reading news, but can happen in any task where it’s useful to open several similar items, each in a separate tab. Later, after users review the content in the tabs, they may cross off many of the parked items and close the corresponding tabs.

Previous WOTDJenny Haniver

Word of the Day – Jenny Haniver


Jenny Hanniver PictureA Jenny Haniver is the carcass of a ray or a skate which has been modified and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen.[1][2][3]

One suggestion for the origin of the term was the French phrase jeune d’Anvers (‘young [person] of Antwerp‘). British sailors “cockneyed” this description into the personal name “Jenny Hanvers”. They are also widely known as “Jenny Haviers”.[1][3]

For centuries, sailors sat on the Antwerp piers and carved these “mermaids” out of dried skates. They then preserved them further with a coat of varnish. They supported themselves by selling their artistic creations to working sailors as well as to tourists visiting the docks.[1]

Jenny Hanivers have been created to look like devils, angels and dragons. Some writers have suggested the sea monk may have been a Jenny Haniver.[1]

The earliest known picture of Jenny Haniver appeared in Konrad Gesner‘s Historia Animalium vol. IV in 1558. Gesner warned that these were merely disfigured rays and should not be believed to be miniature dragons or monsters, which was a popular misconception at the time.[3][4]

The most common misconception was that Jenny Hanivers were Basilisks. As Basilisks were creatures that killed with merely a glance, no one could claim to know what one looks like. For this reason it was easy to pass off Jenny Hanivers as these creatures which were still widely feared in the 16th century.[5]

In Veracruz, Jenny Hanivers are considered to have magical powers and are employed by curanderos in their rituals.[6] This tradition may have originated in Japan, where fake ningyo similar to the Fiji mermaid that were produced by using rogue taxidermy are kept in temples.[7]

Previous WOTD - Sunday Watermelon

Word of the Day – Sunday Watermelon (Burning Man)


From Phil Greenspun, who just got back from Burning Man:

Sunday watermelon: a gift that is more about the giver wanting to get rid of something heavy/bulky (the Man burns on Saturday evening so a “Sunday watermelon” would typically have been purchased at least one week earlier)

Previous WotDHerblock’s Law

Word of the Day – Demonym

From Wikipedia.

A demonym /ˈdɛmənɪm/, or gentilic, is a term for the residents of a locality. It is usually but not always derived from the name of a locality.[1] For example, the demonym for the people of Canada is Canadian; the demonym for the people of Sweden is Swede; the demonym for the people of Germany is German; the demonym for the people of Switzerland is Swiss; the demonym for the people of the Netherlands is Dutch. Some locations have double forms; for example, the demonym for the people of Britain can be either British or Briton.

Previous WOTD - Gray/Black/Brown Thursday and Green Monday

Words of the Day – Gray/Black/Brown Thursday and Green Monday

Things change, including where people buy stuff that people want. From downtown shops to the strip mall. Strip mall to indoor mall. Indoor mall to big box store. Big box store to online store.

People not only change where they shop, but when. Besides Black Friday and Cyber Monday there are new super dooper holiday sales days. I knew about Gray Thursday from my wife. She took our oldest daughter out to shop at 8 PM Thanksgiving night and didn’t come back until 3:00 AM.

In recent years, retailers have been trending towards opening on Black Thursday, occurring Thanksgiving evening. In 2011, Walmart began its holiday sale at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day for the first time. In 2012, Walmart began its Black Friday sales at 8 p.m. the day before on Thanksgiving; stores that are normally open 24 hours a day on a regular basis started their sales at this time, while stores that do not have round-the-clock shopping hours opened at 8 p.m. Competitors Sears and Kmart will also be opening at 8 p.m. on Thursday night, while Target and Toys “R” Us will be opening at 9 p.m.

A number of media sources began referring to this instead by either the name Gray Thursday[55][56] or Brown Thursday.[57]

Green Monday on the other hand was a new one on me until the news started covering it this morning.

Green Monday is an online retail industry term similar to Cyber Monday. The term was coined[1] by eBay to describe its best sales day in December,[2] usually the second Monday of December. Green Monday is defined more specifically by business research organization comScore as the Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas. In 2009, $854 million was spent online in the US on Green Monday,[3] with sales in 2011 reaching $1.133 billion.[4] In 2012, Green Monday topped out at $1.27 billion, up 13% from 2011 and the third heaviest online sales day for the season behind Cyber Monday and, randomly, Dec. 4, 2012, according to comScore.[5]

Here’s a fine infographic on Cyber Monday. Thanks, Roger.

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Word of the Day – Brigantine (Sailing)

From Wikipedia:

In sailing, a brigantine or hermaphrodite brig is a vessel with two masts, only the forward of which is square rigged.

Origins of the term

Originally the brigantine was a small ship carrying both oars and sails. It was a favorite of Mediterranean pirates and its name comes from the Italian word brigantino, meaning brigand, and applied by extension to his ship. By the 17th century the term meant a two-masted ship.[1] In the late 17th century, the Royal Navy used the term brigantine to refer to small two-masted vessels designed to be rowed as well as sailed, rigged with square rigs on the foremast and fore-and-aft rigging on the mainmast.

By the first half of the 18th century the word had evolved to refer not to a ship type name, but rather to a particular type of rigging: square rigged on the foremast and fore-and-aft rigged on the mainmast.[Note 1] The word “brig” is an 18th-century shortening of the word brigantine, which came to mean a vessel square-rigged on both masts.[1] The early Oxford English Dictionary (with citations from 1720 to 1854) still defined brig as being either identical to a brigantine, or alternatively, a vessel of similar sail plan to a modern brig. By the middle of the 19th century modern meanings had more or less stabilised, although purists continue to debate the exact differences, or lack of them, between brig, brigantine, and hermaphrodite brig in both English and American usage.

I ran across this one  in the lyrics of The Stone Roses’ “Waterfall.”

Previous WOTDImage Macro

Word of the Day – Image Macro

This is one of those words that most people don’t know, even though they know the thing.


The term “image macro” originated on forum websites including that of Something Awful.[2][non-primary source needed] The name derived from the fact that the ‘macros’ were a short bit of text a user could enter that the forum software would automatically parse and expand into the code for a pre-defined image,[2] relating to the computer science topic of a macro, defined as “a rule or pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence (often a sequence of characters) should be mapped to an output sequence (also often a sequence of characters) according to a defined procedure.”

Beginning in 2007, lolcats and similar image macros (a form of Internet phenomena) spread beyond the initial communities who created them and became widely popular.[1]

In other words, it’s one of these …

Dark Side







Previous WOTDReynolds’ Law and Murray’s Third Law

Word of the Day – Reynolds’ Law and Murray’s Third Law

Good stuff:

I haven’t been blogging much lately, because I haven’t had many thoughts that haven’t been better expressed elsewhere. But I have to draw attention to a remark of Glenn Reynolds, which seems to me to express an important and little-noticed point:

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

I dub this Reynolds’ Law: “Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.” It’s easy to see why. If people don’t need to defer gratification, work hard, etc., in order to achieve the status they desire, they’ll be less inclined to do those things. The greater the government subsidy, the greater the effect, and the more net harm produced.

This law is thus a relative to Murray’s third law in Losing Ground, the Law of Net Harm: “The less likely it is that the unwanted behavior will change voluntarily, the more likely it is that a program to induce change will cause net harm.” But Reynolds’ Law rests on a different and more secure foundation. It focuses on character as fundamental.

Previous WOTDPredicate

Word of the Day – Predicate

My fourth grader asked me for help with her English homework, which was all about predicates. I had completely forgotten the difference between objects and predicates and had to look it up. The lesson? Once you graduate high school you’ll probably never use this stuff in daily life and will eventually forget it, but it is nice to know.

We watched a School House Rock video on predicates, but this page had the best explanation.

One of the two main parts of a sentence or clause, modifying the subject and including the verb, objects, or phrases governed by the verb. Adjective: predicative.

In both grammar and logic, the predicate serves to make an assertion or denial about the subject of the sentence, as in “Merdine sneezes” and “Gus never smiles.”

Previous WOTDBliss Point

Word of the Day – Bliss Point

From Word Spy:

n. The specific concentration of salt, sugar, or fat that makes a food maximally tasty.

Cool word.

Previous WOTDKeytar

Word of the Day – Keytar

While reading Cracked, the only news source anyone needs, I ran across this:

The 1980s were a strange time for established rock musicians. For a while there, it seemed like any band that didn’t employ a keytar player was destined to fail.

What’s weird is that I had never heard of a keytar, but I instantly knew what they were talking about. I won’t spoil it, so check Wikipedia.

Previous WOTDThe McGurk Effect

The McGurk Effect

Well this is something. In this video you see a close-up of a guy’s mouth saying “ba ba ba.” Then they change the video to the guy mouthing “fa fa fa,” but you still hear the audio of “ba ba ba.” Your eyes trick you into hearing “fa fa fa” even though that isn’t what he’s saying. As soon as  you look away from the video you’ll hear “ba ba ba.” It totally worked on me. Dang.


The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception. The illusion occurs when the auditory component of one sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, leading to the perception of a third sound.[1] The visual information a person gets from seeing a person speak changes the way they hear the sound.[2] People who are used to watching dubbed movies may be among people who are not susceptible to the McGurk effect because they have, to some extent, learned to ignore the information they are getting from the mouths of the “speakers”.[3] If a person is getting poor quality auditory information but good quality visual information, they may be more likely to experience the McGurk effect.[4] Integration abilities for audio and visual information may also influence whether a person will experience the effect. People who are better at sensory integration have been shown to be more susceptible to the effect.[2] Many people are affected differently by the McGurk effect based on many factors, brain damages or disorders.

Hat tip to the only peer-reviewed journal of funny, Cracked.

Previous WOTDProfessional vs. Expert

“There is no such thing really as professional photographers” (and “professional” vs. expert”

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is getting heat for this:

“…there’s no such thing as Flickr Pro, because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing really as professional photographers, when there’s everything is professional photographers. Certainly there is varying levels of skills, but we didn’t want to have a Flickr Pro anymore, we wanted everyone to have professional quality photos, space, and sharing.”

Most photographers are upset because the implication is that the owning a camera makes someone a photographer. Plenty of people have that perception, but that doesn’t make it a reality. Owning a musical instrument doesn’t make someone a musician; they need knowledge, skills, and practice.

What throws people off about photography is that you can push the button and make a picture, but that has as much relation to being a photographer as pushing a gas pedal has to being a Formula 1 race car driver. Putting affordable, user-friendly tools in the hands of lots of people is a good thing, but having a smartphone in your pocket doesn’t make you Ansel Adams.

The thing I’ll add is that Mayer used the wrong word. “Professional” doesn’t mean expert. Professional means pursuing an activity as a business. Someone might be a damned good photographer, but will they show up on time at your wedding, have equipment that won’t break (and backups in case something does), persevere in the face of difficulty, get results no matter what, and complete the job with guaranteed results in a timely manner? You can’t expect to get all of that in a wedding photographer unless you’re paying them, and you can’t know if they’re capable unless someone else has paid them to do it in the past.


1. a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: a language expert.
2. Military
a. the highest rating in rifle marksmanship, above that of marksman and sharpshooter.
b. a person who has achieved such a rating.
3. possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled (often followed by in or at ): an expert driver; to be expert at driving a car.
4. pertaining to, coming from, or characteristic of an expert: expert work; expert advice.
verb (used with object)
5. to act as an expert for.



1. following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a professional builder.
2. of, pertaining to, or connected with a profession: professional studies.
3. appropriate to a profession: professional objectivity.
4. engaged in one of the learned professions: A lawyer is a professional person.
5. following as a business an occupation ordinarily engaged in as a pastime: a professional golfer.
6. making a business or constant practice of something not properly to be regarded as a business: “A salesman,” he said, “is a professional optimist.”
7. undertaken or engaged in as a means of livelihood or for gain: professional baseball.
8. of or for a professional person or his or her place of business or work: a professional apartment; professional equipment.
9. done by a professional; expert: professional car repairs.
10. a person who belongs to one of the professions, especially one of the learned professions.
11. a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs: a golf professional.
12. an expert player, as of golf or tennis, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant; pro.
13. a person who is expert at his or her work: You can tell by her comments that this editor is a real professional.

Word of the Day – Bionics/Biomimicry/Biomimetics

From Wikipedia:

Bionics (also known as biomimicry, biomimetics, bio-inspiration, biognosis, and close to bionical creativity engineering) is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.[citation needed]

The word bionic was coined by Jack E. Steele in 1958, possibly originating from the technical term bion (pronounced bee-on) (from Ancient Greek: βίος), meaning ‘unit of life‘ and the suffix -ic, meaning ‘like’ or ‘in the manner of’, hence ‘like life’. Some dictionaries, however, explain the word as being formed as a portmanteau from biology + electronics. It was popularized by the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, which were based upon the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, which was influenced by Steele’s work, and feature humans given superhuman powers by electromechanical implants.

The transfer of technology between lifeforms and manufactures is, according to proponents of bionic technology, desirable because evolutionary pressure typically forces living organisms, including fauna and flora, to become highly optimized and efficient. A classical example is the development of dirt- and water-repellent paint (coating) from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky for anything (the lotus effect).[citation needed]

The term “biomimetic” is preferred when reference is made to chemical reactions.[citation needed] In that domain, biomimetic chemistry refers to reactions that, in nature, involve biological macromolecules (for example, enzymes or nucleic acids) whose chemistry can be replicated using much smaller molecules in vitro.

Found while reading about Velcro, which is a biomimetic invention that imitages burrs that stick to fur and clothing.

Previous WOTDSelfie