Archive for the ‘Categorization and Labeling’ Category

Traps

October 13, 2014

Yesterday I looked at the informal names for muscles abs, pecsglutes, delts, and traps. The last two of these might not be as familiar to most people (who aren’t in the fitness / bodybuilding world) as the others; here I’m interested in traps (the trapezius muscles) — for their name, initially, and then for their appearance on one man, the pornstar Ken Ryker.

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More television hunks: NCIS: Los Angeles

October 6, 2014

Yes, more shirtless men (following on Nick Jonas and Chris Pine, Zach Quinto, and Leonard Nimoy), but now with a semantic point, about systems of categorization, in this case a pop scheme of somatotype (body-type) classification. After some glances at tv hunks on this blog, I look at the three starring men in the series NCIS: Los Angeles, who illustrate the three ideal types in this somatotype scheme: mesomorph, endomorph, and ectomorph.(Along the way we also get a female star: the stars are aligned into two contrasting pairs.)

The three-way scheme has a complex and tangled history, but survives now primarily in the advice literature for bodybuilders / musclemen.

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Peter Mendelsund

July 21, 2014

From the August 2014 issue of Details magazine, the piece “The Cover Artist” by Timothy Hodler:

You may not know his name, but chances are you already own some of Peter Mendelsund’s work. The 46-year-old designer of iconic book jackets for top-shelf authors both living (Martin Amis) and dead (James Joyce) is celebrated in this month’s Cover (powerHouse, $60; out August 5), a retrospective of his greatest hits. He’s also publishing his first book, What We See When We Read (Vintage, $17; out August 5), a philosophical exploration of the literary imagination. Here, he shares the stories behind some of his standouts.

An example of Mendelsund’s work, the cover for The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus:

Despite the title of the Details piece, the creators of book covers are not referred to as artists, at least in art circles, where they are designers or illustrators. They provide artwork (art for short) — designs or illustrations — for commercial purposes and so they are normally outside the world of art criticism and art exhibits (“Art art”, you might say), except on special occasions, when applied (as opposed to fine) art, craftwork, folk art, street art, outsider art, etc. are granted attention in shows, catalogs, and the like.

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pentapedal

July 8, 2014

In the latest (7/5/14) New Scientist, a “60 seconds” (ultra-brief) feature “Bouncing on five legs”:

Kangaroos have five “legs”, making them the first known pentapedal animals. A study of kangaroo motion suggests their tails aren’t simply a crutch but actively move them forward, producing as much propulsive force as all four limbs combined (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0381).

What about starfish? Aren’t they pentapedal animals? What about primates that use their tails (in addition to their hands and legs) to propel themselves?

Well, it depends on what you mean by animal and what you mean by leg. Starfish are customarily said to have five arms, and primates to have only two legs (but four limbs, plus, for some, a tail that can function rather like another limb).

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Bunnies run amok

July 5, 2014

(Only a bit about language.)

Xopher Walker wrote on Facebook a couple of days ago about the plague of rabbits in his yard and garden (which his dog Dolly was doing her best to address), and cited the absurd monster flick Night of the Lepus:

Night of the Lepus, also known as Rabbits, is a 1972 American science fiction horror film based on the 1964 science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit.

Released theatrically on October 4, 1972, it focuses on members of a small Arizona town who battle thousands of mutated, carnivorous killer rabbits. (Wikipedia link)

The movie belongs to the large genre of horror/suspense movies (and fiction etc.) — think of Hitchcock’s Psycho — about human evil of one kind or another, and embracing ghost stories, as well as the subgenre of monster movies (and fiction etc.), where the creepiness comes from humanity gone awry in some crucial way, and indeed to the subsubgenre of “natural horror” movies (where natural means ‘having to do with nature’):

Natural horror is a sub-genre of horror films “featuring nature running amok in the form of mutated beasts, carnivorous insects, and normally harmless animals or plants turned into cold-blooded killers.” (Wikipedia link)

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What are they?

May 30, 2014

Two recent items that challenge the borders of categories in the world of art, literature, and humor: another Jane Austen quote (yes, Chris Ambidge keeps sending them on); and an e-card (passed on by Victor Steinbok because of the entertaining portmanteau on it).

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Alan Fletcher

May 20, 2014

More from my back files: graphic designer Alan Fletcher, creator of images on postcards Max Vasilatos sent me in 2008 and 2009.

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On the verge of a collective

May 12, 2014

The cartoon below came to me from several sources on the net (I don’t know its ultimate source):

Crucial background: murder is a “term of venery”, a collective noun used with very specific referents, in this case crows. (Ordinary collectives, like group, crowd, and in fact collection, can refer to referents of many different kinds.)

A murder of crows has come up in passing several times, as a memorable example of a term of venery; there is a more extensive discussion of the expression in this posting, on a Pearls Before Swine cartoon that turns on the ambiguity of the expression.

The cartoon above turns on a different question: how many crows does it take to make a murder of them?

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Three on Mothers Day

May 11, 2014

This morning’s crop of cartoons with some linguistic interest: a Rhymes With Orange that is, among other things, about Mothers Day; a Mother Goose and Grimm with, in passing, an interesting example of out as a preposition; and a Doonesbury on outsider / folk art.

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Mammoths and flowers

February 8, 2014

Passed on to me by Sim Aberson, this NPR story of February 6th, “Woolly Mammoths’ Taste For Flowers May Have Been Their Undoing” by Geoff Brumfiel, beginning:

They were some of the largest, hairiest animals ever to walk the Earth, but new research shows a big part of the woolly mammoth’s diet was made up of tiny flowers.

The work is based on DNA analysis of frozen arctic soil and mammoth poop. It suggests that these early vegans depended on the flowers as a vital source of protein. And when the flowers disappeared after the last ice age, so too did the mammoths that ate them.

(#1)

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