What I learned this week, June 19, 2020

This equation will change how you see the world (the logistic map)

I have always been facinated with the Mandelbrot set and fractal math in general – this is a particularly good example.

 

 


 

The ‘Untranslatable’ Emotions You Never Knew You Had

From gigil to wabi-sabi and tarab, there are many foreign emotion words with no English equivalent. Learning to identify and cultivate these experiences could give you a richer and more successful life.

Some of these are fascinating

  • Desbundar (Portuguese) – to shed one’s inhibitions in having fun
  • Tarab (Arabic) – a musically induced state of ecstasy or enchantment
  • Shinrin-yoku (Japanese) – the relaxation gained from bathing in the forest, figuratively or literally
  • ktsuarpok (Inuit) – the anticipation one feels when waiting for someone, whereby one keeps going outside to check if they have arrived
  • Natsukashii (Japanese) – a nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer
  • Wabi-sabi (Japanese) – a “dark, desolate sublimity” centered on transience and imperfection in beauty
  • Saudade (Portuguese) – a melancholic longing or nostalgia for a person, place or thing that is far away either spatially or in time – a vague, dreaming wistfulness for phenomena that may not even exist
  • Sehnsucht (German) – “life-longings”, an intense desire for alternative states and realizations of life, even if they are unattainable
  • Pihentagyú (Hungarian) – literally meaning “with a relaxed brain”, it describes quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions
  • Desenrascanço (Portuguese) – to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation

Read more here:

The ‘Untranslatable’ Emotions You Never Knew You Had


 

Bread and Butter Pickles

I have always loved these things – and never knew why they were called that. Apparently, during the depression people made sandwiches with bread, butter, and pickles. And it seems to have been delicious.

Read about it here:

The history and mystery of America’s long-lost pickle sandwich


The History of Popcorn

I always thought that popcorn was a modern invention. I was wrong.

Long before boxes of Pop Secret lined grocery store shelves, corn began as a wild grass called teosinte in southwestern Mexico, according to research compiled by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. Corn was probably cultivated as a domesticated crop around 9,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2012 that archaeologists unearthed the first evidence of popcorn in Peru: 6,700-year-old corn cobs studded with puffed kernels.

…..

Early popcorn probably resembled parched corn, which is made by cooking dried kernels, often in a frying pan. (Because parched corn typically uses kernels with lower water content, curbing its ability to pop, it’s considered a predecessor of CornNuts.) “Parched corn is much crunchier,” Frank says. “We know that in the early Southwest, there was popcorn—it just wasn’t a Jiffy Pop that you’d put in your microwave.”

The fluffy popcorn we know and love today is, in part, the result of thousands of years of careful cultivation of a few different strains of corn by those early tribes.

Read more here:

The History of Popcorn: How One Grain Became a Staple Snack

 

Corn in a Cup

 


 

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Steadman and Thompson’s first meeting

The story of Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman covering the Kentucky derby.

Read it here:

Decadence and Depravity in Louisville, Kentucky

 

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What I learned this week, June 12, 2020

An Important Message to all the New Cyclists During the Pandemic,

and a Note to Experienced Riders

In this Covid thing there seems to be a lot of people getting bicycles. My son went to look at Mountain Bikes and they said there will be none available before October. This is exciting and I hope the momentum continues.

Here is a cyclist talking about that with advice for new riders and especially for experienced ones.

Great advice.

My favorite parts:

“Cars are dicks, they’re going to honk. That’s sorta just part of it. As long as you’re obeying the laws and not being a dick, don’t worry about them, don’t feel bad, don’t let it discourage you, they’re just having a bad day and taking it out on you. It’s not your problem, it’s not your fault.”

“Next, I wanna talk to – you new guys turn it off, you guys go somewhere else because this message is for the experienced cyclist who’ve been at this a long time…. YOU GUYS DO NOT SCREW THIS UP! Do not screw this up and make cycling this obnoxious exclusive sport any more with your dumb rules and making fun of the new guy on the group ride… we’re not doing that again. Ok, you don’t correct them on anything… unless their front skewer is open, you let them figure it out.”

Yeah, I like this. And I agree, if a new rider has an open front skewer – go ahead and say something, before you come to that pothole.

 


 

Mac ‘N Cheese Waffles

Especially in June, especially in 2020, I am trying to eat healthy and up my exercise. I won’t be cooking or eating any of this. But still…. I can dream, can’t I?

Recipe Here

 


 

38 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent

from Pocket, Mental Floss, and Bill Demain

1. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

2. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”

3. Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

4. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
This word captures that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.

5. Backpfeifengesicht (German)
A face badly in need of a fist.

6. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.

Cook throwing dough at Serious Pizza, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

7. Pelinti (Buli, Ghana)
Your friend bites into a piece of piping hot pizza, then opens his mouth and sort of tilts his head around while making an “aaaarrrahh” noise. The Ghanaians have a word for that. More specifically, it means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

8. Greng-jai (Thai)
That feeling you get when you don’t want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them.

9. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.

10. Faamiti (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.

11. Gigil (Filipino)
The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is irresistibly cute.

12. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

13. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.

14. Vybafnout (Czech)
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.

15. Fremdschämen (German); Myötähäpeä (Finnish)
The kinder, gentler cousins of Schadenfreude, both these words mean something akin to “vicarious embarrassment.”

16. Lagom (Swedish)
Maybe Goldilocks was Swedish? This slippery little word is hard to define, but means something like, “Not too much, and not too little, but juuuuust right.”

Here’s my silkworm sandwich.

17. Pålegg (Norwegian)
Sandwich Artists unite! The Norwegians have a non-specific descriptor for anything – ham, cheese, jam, Nutella, mustard, herring, pickles, Doritos, you name it – you might consider putting into a sandwich.

18. Layogenic (Tagalog)
Remember in Clueless when Cher describes someone as “a full-on Monet … from far away, it’s OK, but up close it’s a big old mess”? That’s exactly what this word means.

19. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
Or there’s this Japanese slang term, which describes the experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

20. Seigneur-terraces (French)
Coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables a long time but spend little money.

21. Ya’arburnee (Arabic)
This word is the hopeful declaration that you will die before someone you love deeply, because you cannot stand to live without them. Literally, may you bury me.

22. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing. It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.

23. Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.

24. Zeg (Georgian)
It means “the day after tomorrow.” OK, we do have “overmorrow” in English, but when was the last time someone used that?

25. Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese)
Leave it to the Brazilians to come up with a word for “tenderly running your fingers through your lover’s hair.”

26. Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love.

27. Kaelling (Danish)
You know that woman who stands on her doorstep (or in line at the supermarket, or at the park, or in a restaurant) cursing at her children? The Danes know her, too.

28. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking to give it a name.

29. L’esprit de l’escalier (French)
Literally, stairwell wit—a too-late retort thought of only after departure.

30. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.

31. Packesel (German)
The packesel is the person who’s stuck carrying everyone else’s bags on a trip. Literally, a burro.

32. Hygge (Danish)
Denmark’s mantra, hygge is the pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends.

33. Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian)
The result of attempting to revive an unworkable relationship. Translates to “reheated cabbage.”

34. Bilita Mpash (Bantu)
An amazing dream. Not just a “good” dream; the opposite of a nightmare.

35. Litost (Czech)
Milan Kundera described the emotion as “a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.”

36. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
There are several Yiddish words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense.

37 & 38. Schlemiel and schlimazel (Yiddish)
Someone prone to bad luck. Yiddish distinguishes between the schlemiel and schlimazel, whose fates would probably be grouped under those of the klutz in other languages. The schlemiel is the traditional maladroit, who spills his coffee; the schlimazel is the one on whom it’s spilled.


 

Down the Rabbit Hole

“Poetry is much more important than the truth, and, if you don’t believe that, try using the two methods to get laid.”
― Mark Forsyth, The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language

“A poet is not somebody who has great thoughts. That is the menial duty of the philosopher. A poet is somebody who expresses his thoughts, however commonplace they may be, exquisitely. That is the one and only difference between the poet and everybody else.”
― Mark Forsyth, The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase

The Window at Molly’s, the street (Decatur) unusually quiet, with notebook, vintage Esterbrook pen, and Molly’s frozen Irish Coffee

“Shakespeare was not a genius. He was, without the distant shadow of doubt, the most wonderful writer who ever breathed. But not a genius. No angels handed him his lines, no fairies proofread for him. Instead, he learnt techniques, he learnt tricks, and he learnt them well.”
― Mark Forsyth, The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase

I picked up a book at the library – I picked it up by mistake because I was looking for books by John Forsyth (and there weren’t any). I picked up The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by Mark Forsyth. I’m not sure why I stacked it on the checkout kiosk – but it turned out to be crackerjack – I really enjoyed it. The book is simple – forty chapters – each one dedicated to one rhetorical figure, discussing its use in literature, classic and profane, with an emphasis on Shakespeare. The chapter titles are intimidating, mostly Greek terms: Alliteration, Polyptoton, Antithesis, Merism, Blazon, Synaesthesia, Aposiopesis, Hyperbaton, Anadiplosis, Hypotaxis and Parataxis, – are the first few. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Well, it is. Forsyth is a witty (sometimes too witty) writer that makes these ancient Greek mouthfuls entertaining and elucidating. As a writer – it’s like being given a bag of weapons that you can use to slay an unsuspecting reader. Most of these are things that are known to anyone that has spent too much time on the wrong end of a pen or with their nose between the book covers… but listing them, explaining them, exampling them, giving them names, gives them power and makes them easier to pull out of the wordsmith’s quiver and load into his quill.

If you are interested in words, get the book.

Now, once I have discovered something like this, and read it carefully (taking tens of pages of notes) – I can’t stop there. I have to go down the rabbit hole.

Forsyth has a handful of other books for me to read. I suspect I have more books to read than I have time left on this earth, but what the hell. He has a TED talk, and a handful of articles across the web.

And he has a blog.

It’s called Inky Fool – and has a lot of cool stuff in it.

Continuing down the Rabbit Hole, the latest entry (as of this writing) A Measure of Rudeness has a link to an amazing PDF online. It is the work product of a big Marketing Firm hired by, I guess, the British Government to produce a slick study called Attitudes to potentially offensive language and gestures on TV and radio – Quick Reference Guide.

It is an official list of dirty words. It is much more extensive than the only list of broadcast dirty words I had seen before:

So they made a list. The actual list is ten pages long. And this is the Quick Refnerece Guide. It says in the introduction that a lot of older people don’t understand a lot of the new obscenities. It’s also a British list – and some of these haven’t made much inroads in Texas – I don’t think… of course, I’m old and don’t understand a lot of the new obscenities.

There’s Minger and Munter… there’s Nonce and Slapper – good thing I read the list, never knew these were offensive. The short section on Offensive Gestures wasn’t anything new to me. There’s a section on words offensive to old people… Coffin Dodger, FOP, and Old bag. Not bad… I kinda like Coffin Dodger. Could be a good online alias – say CoffinDodger31415.

Not surprising that the Discriminatory language section takes up the biggest part of the list. I’m sure it’s growing exponentially – both in number of words and in categories. Pretty soon this is going to swallow the language whole.

Now I have to tear myself away, dig out of the rabbit hole, and get some work around the house done. Later, I’m sure.

“John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote his first story aged seven. It was about a “green great dragon.” He showed it to his mother who told him that you absolutely couldn’t have a green great dragon, and that it had to be a great green one instead. Tolkien was so disheartened that he never wrote another story for years.

The reason for Tolkien’s mistake, since you ask, is that adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can’t exist.”
― Mark Forsyth, The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase

Writing in my Moleskine Journal outside the Mojo Lounge, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

“Above all, I hope I have dispelled the bleak and imbecilic idea that the aim of writing is to express yourself clearly in plain, simple English using as few words as possible. This is a fiction, a fib, a fallacy, a fantasy, and a falsehood. To write for mere utility is as foolish as to dress for mere utility. … Clothes and language can be things of beauty, I would no more write without art because I didn’t need to than I would wander outdoors naked just because it was warm enough.”
― Mark Forsyth, The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase