Word of the Day – Selfie

From Urban Dictionary:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

Previous WOTDSleeze

Word of the Day – Sleeze

Sleeze: to sneeze properly (into one’s sleeve) when a tissue isn’t handy. (Variation: sneeve.)

Previous WOTDJustified Tuesday – What’s the Badger Game Lindsey Talked About?

Justified Tuesday – What’s the Badger Game Lindsey Talked About?

In episode 3, Lindsey reveals to Raylan that she and her ex-husband stole from people and that they specifically used something called a badger game. The next weekend I watched a 1941 movie, Shadow of the Thin Man, that mentioned that one beautiful but nefarious character’s expertise was the badger con.

I had never heard of it, so I checked Wikipedia:

The badger game is an extortion scheme, often perpetrated on married men, in which the victim or “mark” is tricked into a compromising position to make him vulnerable to blackmail.

There are two competing explanations for the origin of the term badger game. One explanation is that the term originated in the practice of badger baiting. Another says that it derives its name from the state of Wisconsin (the Badger State), where the con allegedly either originated or was popularized.

This con has been around since at least the early 19th century. There are several variations of the con; in the most typical form an attractive woman approaches a man, preferably a lonely, married man of some financial means from out of town, and entices him to a private place with the intent of maneuvering him into a compromising position, usually involving some sort of sexual act. Afterward an accomplice presents the victim with photographs, video, or similar evidence, and threatens to expose him unless blackmail money is paid.

The woman may also claim that the sexual encounter was non-consensual and threaten the victim with a rape charge. It can also involve such things as the threat of a sexual harassment charge which may endanger the victim’s career.

If photographic evidence is not used in the scam, then an accomplice will usually burst into the room during the act, claiming to be the woman’s husband, father, older brother, etc., and demand justice. The con was particularly effective in the 19th and earlier 20th century when the social repercussions of adultery were much greater. A famous person known to have been victimized by the scheme was Alexander Hamilton, whose adulterous affair with Maria Reynolds was used by her husband to extort money and information from him.

Word of the Day – Plasma Globe or Plasma Lamp

Plasma Globe from Wikipedia:

A plasma globe or plasma lamp (also called plasma ball, dome, sphere, tube or orb, depending on shape), is (usually) a clear glass orb filled with a mixture of various noble gases with a high-voltage electrode in the center of the sphere. Plasma filaments extend from the inner electrode to the outer glass insulator, giving the appearance of multiple constant beams of colored light (see corona discharge and electric glow discharge). Plasma globes were most popular as novelty items in the 1980s.[1]

The plasma lamp was invented by Nikola Tesla[2] after his experimentation with high-frequency currents in an evacuated glass tube for the purpose of studying high voltage phenomena, but the modern versions were first designed by Bill Parker.[1] Tesla called this invention an inert gas discharge tube.[3]

I did not know Tesla invented these. Cool.

Last weekend we took the kids to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. We saw a bunch of these and bought a toy version in the gift shop.

Plasma Orb:

Plasma Orb:

Plasma Tube

Previous WOTDSuccess Theater

Word of the Day – Success Theater

From WordSpy:

success theater
n. Posting images and stories designed to make others believe you are more successful than you really are.
Example Citations:
We’ve become better at choreographing ourselves and showing our best sides to the screen, capturing the most flattering angle of our faces, our homes, our evenings out, our loved ones and our trips.It’s success theater, and we’ve mastered it.
—Jenna Wortham, “Facebook Poke and the Tedium of Success Theater,” The New York Times, December 28, 2012

Previous WOTDParaph and Pilcrow

Word of the Day – Paraph and Pilcrow

Via my friend Beci. From Wikipedia:

Many individuals have much more fanciful signatures than their normal cursive writing, including elaborate ascenders, descenders and exotic flourishes, much as one would find in calligraphic writing. As an example, the final “k” in John Hancock‘s famous signature on the US Declaration of Independence loops back to underline his name. This kind of flourish is also known as a paraph.[3][4]

There’s a second definition of paraph as a synonym for pilcrow:

The pilcrow (), also called the paragraph mark, paragraph sign, paraph, alinea (Latin: a lineā, “off the line”), or blind P,[1] is a typographical character for individual paragraphs. It is present in Unicode as U+00B6 ¶ pilcrow sign (HTML: ¶ ¶).

The pilcrow can be used as an indent for separate paragraphs or to designate a new paragraph in one long piece of copy, as Eric Gill did in his 1930s book, An Essay on Typography. The pilcrow was used in the Middle Ages to mark a new train of thought, before the convention of physically discrete paragraphs was commonplace.

Previout WOTDSpatchcock

Word of the Day – Spatchcock

From my friend Art on Facebook: “Spatchcock (verb) – to go all kinds of medieval on a turkey.” That’s about the long and short of it. Details from Alton Brown here.

I’m taking Sean’s advice and brining the turkeys this year, likewise using Alton Brown’s recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Meanwhile, here’s one of the brined turkeys about to go into the infrared fryer. He’ll be fine. St. Francis is watching over him.


Previous WOTDBrannock Device

Word of the Day – Brannock Device

Brannock Patent Drawing

From Wikipedia:

The Brannock Device is a measuring instrument invented by Charles F. Brannock for measuring a person’s shoe size. The son of a shoe industry entrepreneur, Brannock attended Syracuse University, New York, U.S.A. where he became a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Brannock spent two years developing a simple means of measuring the length, width and arc length of the human foot. He eventually improved on the wooden RITZ Stick, the industry standard of the day, and patented his first prototype in 1926. The device has both left and right heel cups and is rotated through 180 degrees to measure the second foot. Brannock later formed the Brannock Device Company to manufacture and sell the product, and headed the company until 1992 when he died at age 89. Today, the Brannock Device is an international standard of the footwear industry, and the Smithsonian Institution houses samples of some of the first Brannock Devices.

I bought a pair of shoes at The Walking Company Friday night. Instead of a Brannock device they used a system from a company called Aetrix that digitally images the foot and arch and measures pressure points and displays the results on an HDTV, the better to sell you insoles with.

I asked them to email me the file.

Kiss my foot, mother Russia

I’ve got higher arches than McDonald’s and big toes like Jane Goodall’s never seen. I knew that stuff, but I didn’t know that I put more weight on my right foot.


Word of the Day – Manica

From Wikipedia:

The Latin word “manica” means a sleeve.[1] A manica was a type of iron or bronze arm guard, with curved and overlapping metal segments or plates, fastened to leather straps, worn by Roman gladiators called crupellarii, and later by soldiers.

Construction and use

Bishop lists likely components as one shoulder plate, about 35 metal (ferrous or copper alloy) strips, 90-120 leathering rivets, 3 or 4 internal leathers, and one padded lining. The lining may have been a separate component, in order to avoid it being torn by the articulated metal plates. The metal strips were about 25 to 30 mm wide and 0.35 to 0.5 mm in thickness; they were longer at the top of the arm. Each strip had holes at its lower edge, through which flat-headed copper alloy rivets passed from the inside to hold the leather straps in place. It also had a hole punched at each end, which did not have a rivet and presumably served as an attachment point for an organic fastening. The lower few plates were in some cases riveted together, rather than articulated on leather. One depiction appears to show a manica terminating in a hand shape.[7]

The usual arm position depicted for Roman swordsmen is with the upper arm vertical and close to the torso, the forearm extended horizontally with the thumb uppermost. The plates were probably not long enough to cover the whole circumference of the arm, but would have extended from the upper arm down to the thumb, leaving an unprotected area at the back. The plates overlapped upwards, directing any blow to the inside of the elbow which had a particularly dense coverage of multiple plates.[7]

More here. Found on 10 Reasons There Won’t Ever Be an Aquaman Movie. I almost waited four days to run this so it could be Manica Monday.

Previous WOTDCoppicing

Word of the Day – Coppicing


From Wikipedia:

Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again. (The noun “coppice” means a growth of small trees or a forest coming from shoots or suckers.)

Typically a coppiced woodland is harvested in sections or coups[1] on a rotation. In this way, a crop is available each year somewhere in the woodland. Coppicing has the effect of providing a rich variety of habitats, as the woodland always has a range of different-aged coppice growing in it, which is beneficial for biodiversity. The cycle length depends upon the species cut, the local custom, and the use to which the product is put. Birch can be coppiced for faggots (bundles of brushwood) on a three- or four-year cycle, whereas oak can be coppiced over a fifty-year cycle for poles or firewood.

Coppicing maintains trees at a juvenile stage, and a regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age—some coppice stools may therefore reach immense ages. The age of a stool may be estimated from its diameter, and some are so large—perhaps as much as 5.4 metres (18 ft) across—that they are thought to have been continuously coppiced for centuries.[2]

Previous WOTDSupercut

Word of the Day – Supercut

Not the haircut place. From Supercut.org:

A fast-paced montage of short video clips that obsessively isolates a single element from its source, usually a word, phrase, or cliche from film and TV.

Hat tip to Ironic Sans, whose goof on the idea is the only slightly more tedious text supercut:

Here’s every use of the word “cat” from Dr. Suess’ book The Cat in the Hat:

Cat cat. Cat cat Cat cat. Cat cat. cat. cat. cat cat. Cat Cat Cat cat. cat. cat Cat cat Cat cat, cat. cat cat! Cat


LATER: To be fair, not all supercuts are pointless. This supercut of all Alfred Hitchcock appearances in his films is pretty cool.

Word of the Day – Wikipedia

From Wikipedia:

Wikipedia (Listeni/ˌwɪkɨˈpdiə/ or Listeni/ˌwɪkiˈpdiə/ WIK-i-PEE-dee-ə) is a free, collaboratively edited, and multilingual Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 22 million articles (over 4 million in English alone) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,[4] and it has about 100,000 regularly active contributors.[5][6] As of July 2012, there are editions of Wikipedia in 285 languages. It has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet,[7][8][9][10] ranking sixth globally among all websites on Alexa and having an estimated 365 million readers worldwide.[7][11] It is estimated that Wikipedia receives 2.7 billion monthly pageviews from the United States alone.[12]

Wikipedia was launched in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger.[13] Sanger coined the name Wikipedia,[14] which is a portmanteau of wiki (a type of collaborative website, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”)[15] and encyclopedia. Wikipedia’s departure from the expert-driven style of encyclopedia building and the presence of a large body of unacademic content have received extensive attention in print media. In its 2006 Person of the Year article, Time magazine recognized the rapid growth of online collaboration and interaction by millions of people around the world. It cited Wikipedia as an example, in addition to YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook.[16] Wikipedia has also been praised as a news source because of how quickly articles about recent events appear.[17][18] Students have been assigned to write Wikipedia articles as an exercise in clearly and succinctly explaining difficult concepts to an uninitiated audience.[19]

Although the policies of Wikipedia strongly espouse verifiability and a neutral point of view, criticisms leveled at Wikipedia include allegations about quality of writing,[20] inaccurate or inconsistent information, and explicit content. Various experts (including Wales and Jonathan Zittrain) have expressed concern over possible (intentional or unintentional) biases.[21][22][23][24] These allegations are addressed by various Wikipedia policies.

Other disparagers of Wikipedia simply point out vulnerabilities inherent to any wiki that may be edited by anyone. These critics observe that much weight is given to topics that more editors are likely to know about, like popular culture,[25] and that the site is vulnerable to vandalism,[26][27] though some studies indicate that vandalism is quickly deleted. Critics point out that some articles contain unverified or inconsistent information,[28] though a 2005 investigation in Nature showed that the science articles they compared came close to the level of accuracy of Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of “serious errors”.[29]

I used Wikipedia to define Wikipedia. Hey, it amused me. Then again, this was always one of my favorite quotes of the day.

Related: The Most Needlessly Detailed Wikipedia Entries. I liked No Country for Old Men. Saw the movie. Read the book. But that Wikipedia entry is insane.


Word of the Day – Skeuomorph

Uncle’s link to The Floppy Disk means Save, and 14 other old people Icons that don’t make sense anymore led me to this word. From Wikipedia:

A skeuomorph play /ˈskjuːəmɔrf/ SKEW-ə-morf, or skeuomorphism (Greek: skeuos—vessel or tool, morphe—shape),[1] is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original.[2] Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar,[3] such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with a circular town name and cancellation lines.

An alternative definition is “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material”.[4] This definition is narrower in scope and ties skeuomorphs to changes in materials.

Historically, high-status items, such as metal tableware, were often recreated for the mass market using ceramics, which were a cheaper material. In certain cases, efforts were made to recreate the rivets in the metal originals by adding pellets of clay to the pottery version.

In the modern era, cheaper plastic items often attempt to mimic more expensive wooden and metal products though they are only skeuomorphic if new ornamentation references original functionality, such as molded screw heads in molded plastic items. Blue jeans have authentic-looking brass rivet caps covering the functional steel rivet beneath; digital cameras play a recorded audio clip of a conventional SLR camera mirror slap and shutter click. Such ornamentation is not necessarily non-functional: the camera shutter sound is used to indicate to subject and photographer when the taking of the picture is complete. However, the function could also be provided with a different sound or feature, yet very rarely is.

  • Decorative stone features of Greek temples such as mutules, guttae, and modillions derived from true structural/functional features of the early wooden temples
  • Ornamental pylons framing modern bridges, such as the twin 89 metre pylons at each end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They do not support anything, and are there only to frame the structure itself and make it look more like a traditional bridge.
  • An early pottery butter churn, at the Jaffa Museum, shaped rather like an American football, imitating the shape of its predecessors, which were made of hide.
  • Injection-molded plastic sandals that replicate woven strips of leather, or elaborate lacing on velcro-secured shoes
  • Artificial film grain added to digitally-shot movies to give a softer, more expensive effect and the expected “shimmer” of the grain pattern between successive frames
  • Various spoke patterns in automobile hubcaps and wheels resembling earlier wheel construction (wooden spokes or wire spokes)
  • Fake woodgrain printing on modern items actually made of plastic, formica, or pressboard
  • Non-structural brick or stone cladding on concrete block or steel frame buildings. Brick and stone are used as a veneer intended to recall the structural stability and longevity of masonry buildings
  • Ornamental stitching in plastic items that used to be made of leather or vinyl and actually stitched together, but are now either glued together or made as a single piece
  • Tiny, non-functional handles on small maple syrup jugs
  • Cigarettes with the paper around the cigarette filter printed to look like a cork filter [So that’s why so many cigarettes look like that. LJ]

So some of the rationale behind skeuomorphs is probably user-centric. It’s what people expect, or it makes easier to recognize. I suspect part of the rationale is designer-centric. Not many designers can start from a completely blank slate. Skeuomorphs give them a starting point.
Previous WOTDBeer and Skittles

Word of the Day – Beer and Skittles

Not Skittlebrau, but beer and skittles:


‘Beer and skittles’ is shorthand for a life of indulgence spent in the pub.


Skittles, also known as Ninepins, which was the pre-cursor to ten-pin bowling, has been a popular English pub game since the 17th century. The pins are set up in a square pattern and players attempt to knock them down with a ball. It is still played but not so much as previously.

Citations of beer and skittles and variants appear in literature from the 19th century; for example, Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, 1837:

“It’s a reg’lar holiday to them – all porter and skittles.”

Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays, 1857:

“Life isn’t all beer and skittles.”

Previous WOTDWitch’s Broom (Plant Disease)

Word of the Day – Witch’s Broom (Plant Disease)

Witch's Broom in an Eastern White Pine. Photo by Jason Graf

Witch’s Broom in an Eastern White Pine. Photo by Jason Graf. Used with permission.

My friend Jason Graf posted this photo on Facebook, wondering what kind of animal made this nest. I didn’t know, so I shared it on my wall, hoping someone would know.

One of his relatives later identified it as a witch’s broom, which isn’t a nest per se, but a disease.

From Wikipedia:

A Witch’s broom is a disease or deformity in a woody plant, typically a tree, where the natural structure of the plant is changed. A dense mass of shoots grows from a single point, with the resulting structure resembling a broom or a bird’s nest.

One example of this would be cytokinin, a phytohormone, interfering with an auxin-regulated bud. Usually auxin would keep the secondary, tertiary, and so on apexes from growing too much, but cytokinin releases them from this control, causing these apexes to grow into witch’s brooms.

Witch’s broom growths last for many years and can be caused by many different types of organisms, such as fungi, oomycetes, insects, mistletoe, dwarf mistletoes, mites, nematodes, phytoplasmas and viruses.[1] Human activity is sometimes behind the introduction of these organisms; for example when a person prunes a tree improperly, leaving the tree susceptible to disease.

Witch’s brooms occasionally result in desirable changes. Some cultivars of trees, such as Picea orientalis ‘Tom Thumb Gold’, were discovered as witch’s brooms. If twigs of witches’ brooms are grafted onto normal rootstocks, freak trees result, showing that the attacking organism has changed the inherited growth pattern of the twigs.[1]

Witch’s brooms are used by various animals for nesting including the northern flying squirrel.[2]

Word of the DayJump Hour Watch