Settle in with a nice tofu sandwich and some edamame as I tell you about soy boy and how it became the insult of choice among alt-right troglodytes – the sort of chuckleheads who call Trump “god emperor.”
After a gunman opened fire June 14 on a Republican congressional baseball practice, responses from the public and the media tended to focus less on American gundamentalism than on the mood that fuels it. One word was used over and over to describe that mood: vitriol.
“It didn’t take long for partisan vitriol to erupt,” noted the lede of a story in USA Today. “Vitriol Is Poisoning America,” lamented the writer of a letter to the Chicago Tribune. A columnist for the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal – “no fan of Trump” – wrote that the American left should “admit that their – our – vitriol can be as bad. Or worse” than that of the president’s supporters. Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, took to Twitter to condemn partisan vitriol:
Many members talked about threats to their lives and families. The vitriol must stop.
Last week five Democratic congressmen introduced a bill that would require the Trump administration to release the visitor logs at the White House or wherever else the president holds court – including Mar-a-Lago, the Trump-owned private Florida club that the president likes to call the “Southern White House” and which the club’s website calls “The Legendary Pinnacle of Palm Beach.”
The name of the bill: Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness, or MAR-A-LAGO.
I’m generally skeptical of corporate-storytelling advice, but Andy Raskin’s “How to Design Your Company Story” is just wacky enough – its hypothetical company is called FairyGodmothers.com – to win me over.
Course description: “Founded in Wayne, Pennsylvania in the autumn of 1992, Anthropologie remains a destination for women wanting a curated mix of clothing, accessories, gifts and home décor that reflects their personal style and fuels their lives' passions, from fashion to art to entertaining.”
Extra credit: Anthropologie has a charitable division called Philanthropie.
Item: “She calls her startup Rapunzel, and for good reason: Angela Christiano is working on growing a full head of hair in the lab.” – Stat, August 12, 2016
The startup is so new it doesn’t yet have a website, but it has generated plenty of buzz in the scientific community. And the name story is so good that I can’t resist sharing it.
Angela Christiano, a researcher at Columbia University, suffers from alopecia areata, a condition that causes sudden and severe hair loss. Dissatisfied with the two hair-loss products currently one the market, Propecia and Rogaine – both of which were developed 20 years ago – she’s working on a method that uses patients’ own stem cells to create hair. Her research is especially promising for women, who can’t use Propecia because of its strong hormonal effects.
Henge: A type of Neolithic earthwork featuring a circular banked enclosure with an internal ditch. The most famous henge is Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England; it is estimated to have been built between 3000 and 2000 BCE. The -henge element “may have meant something ‘hanging’ or supported in the air,” according to the OED.
Detached henge first appeared in the mid-18th century; Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, wrote in his 1742 Tour of Great Britain that “The present Name [sc. Stonehenge] is Saxon, tho' the Work is beyond all Comparison older, signifying a hanging Rod or Pole, i.e. a Gallows, from the hanging Parts, Architraves, or rather Imposts; and pendulous Rocks are still in Yorkshire called Henges.”
Henge is in the news this week because of Manhattanhenge, an affectionate name for an annual east-west alignment of the setting sun with New York City’s street grid. The phenomenon occurs today, May 31, at about 8:12 p.m. (It also occurred on May 30, and will be visible again on July 11 and 12.)
According to a Wikipedia entry:
In accordance with the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, the street grid for most of Manhattan is rotated 29° clockwise from true east-west. Thus, when the azimuth for sunset is 299° (i.e., 29° northward of due West), the sunset aligns with the streets on that grid.
Other cities with fairly uniform grids and unobstructed views of the horizon may also experience the event. A similar phenomenon, dubbed MIThenge, can be experienced at varying times of the year.
Manhattanhenge observed from 34th Street. Photo via American Museum of Natural History.
Asperitas:A cloud formation “made up of well-defined, wavelike structures in the underside of the cloud, more chaotic and with less horizontal organization than undulatus. It is characterised by localized waves in the cloud base, either smooth or dappled with smaller features, sometimes descending into sharp points, as if viewing a roughened sea surface from below. Varying levels of illumination and thickness of cloud can lead to dramatic visual effects. (Source: World Meteorological Organization.) Asperitas is a Latin word meaning “roughness” or “harshness”; the root is the source of asperity (harshness) and exasperate (to irritate or provoke).
The ABC Family network, stigmatized by that F-word in its name, now calls itself Freeform. Network president Tom Ascheim told the Television Critics Association that the new name “not only elicits the moment of transition in the medium and a sense of ‘creativity’ and ‘spontaneity’ but also evokes [a] younger 14 to 34-year-old audience, whom he’s dubbed ‘becomers’.” So much to ponder in that single sentence. (Hollywood Reporter)
As for the Freeform logo, Brand New dismisses it as “atrocious in either its stacked or horizontal form.”
With 8 percent of 2015 still in the mysterious future, the first Word of the Year (WOTY) nominations have already begun. Oxford Dictionaries made history, and stirred up some controversy, by selecting an emoji – “Face with Tears of Joy” – as its, um, lexical unit of the year. (Emoji was a Fritinancy Word of the Week in January 2012.)
And at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca blog, Allan Metcalf – he’s the executive secretary of the American Dialect Society – makes the case for basic: “the word this year to describe someone or something that fits a stereotype, especially the ‘basic white girl’.”