Archive for the ‘Categorization and Labeling’ Category

The general store

January 26, 2015

From the January 26th New Yorker, a cartoon by Liana Finck:

(#1)

A store that deals with things from highly general categories: it sells items, for which it takes money.

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Seafood

December 29, 2014

Another dish from Reposado in Palo Alto:

CREPAS CON MARISCOS
Housemade blue corn crepes filled with fresh crab, shrimp & red snapper, asadero cheese, poblano cream sauce, jasmine rice with roasted corn

on the menu; also known as enchiladas con mariscos:

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black, Black, etc.

November 22, 2014

From an op-ed column in the NYT on the 19th, “The Case for Black With a Capital B” by Lori L. Tharps:

this is one of my greatest frustrations as a writer and a Black woman living in the United States. When speaking of a culture, ethnicity or group of people, the name should be capitalized. Black with a capital B refers to people of the African diaspora. Lowercase black is simply a color.

Linguists, academics and activists have been making this point for years, yet the publishing industry — our major newspapers, magazines and books — resist making this simple yet fundamental change. Both Oxford and Webster’s dictionaries state that when referring to African-Americans, Black can be and often is capitalized, but the New York Times and Associated Press stylebooks continue to insist on black with a lowercase b. Ironically, The Associated Press also decrees that the proper names of “nationalities, peoples, races, tribes” should be capitalized. What are Black people, then?

I’m not going to object to this orthographic proposal, but I am going to argue that (though it’s innocuous) it’s not especially useful and is seriously confused on the nature of the categories at issue.

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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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