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How many Bay Area place names have you been mispronouncing? | KALW
"Accent marks are missing all over the Bay Area. Many neighborhoods and streets are named after Spanish explorers. Some of those names once had accent marks. But now, without them, we don’t know if we’re saying them right. Listen to the different ways these residents pronounce the name of their neighborhood in San Francisco.

“The Portola,” said one person who placed the stress on the POR. “I call it Portola district,” said another, who placed the stress on the TO. “Portola,” said another who stressed the POR. “The Portola district,” said another woman who stressed the TO.

This name once had an accent mark. Once it disappeared, the original pronunciation went with it. And so did its history.

“I guess that’s the traditional Italian name?” suggested one resident. “Um, Portola, what's his, I forget his first name?” wondered another. “I didn't know it was named after a person?” mused another resident.

“The people in the 1920s that came to this neighborhood pronounced it Portola,” said Rayna Garibaldi, putting the stress on the POR.

Garibaldi is a San Francisco native, born and raised here. You know the slim history book with the old photo on the cover that you see in a lot of neighborhoods? She wrote it and it’s called, San Francisco’s Portola.

According to the book, immigrants from Italy and Malta and Jews from Europe settled here in the 1920s. Their pronunciation, Portola, with the stress on the POR, caught on. That’s what Garibaldi grew up with. She says that in her lifetime she’s seen the neighborhood change. That pronunciation is now fading away.

“Now people who come here new from other parts of the city or other countries say Portola,” with stress on the TO, she said.

Garibaldi is talking about people like me. I stress the TO in Portola. That’s how I’ve always heard it pronounced. But after talking to Garibaldi, I started to wonder about Portola and how it should be pronounced. To find out, we need to look into our California history.

Don Gaspar de Portola was a Spanish explorer. Historians believe he discovered the San Francisco Bay in the 1700s. He was also the first Governor of Spanish-ruled California, before it was a state. After the miners struck gold and San Francisco rapidly grew, most people living here didn’t know about Portola. And those that did, forgot about him.

“This piece of California history was a little bit obscure. The back pages in the history books, so to speak,” explained local historian John Freeman.

Freeman said that in 1909, San Francisco quickly rebuilt itself after the big earthquake and fires. It wanted to throw a 5-day carnival to relaunch the city as a destination for business and tourism.

“They were searching around for a theme, a set of colors, and something to hang their festival on,” he said. They settled on the 140th anniversary of Portola’s discovery of the San Francisco Bay and called it the Portola Festival.

Suddenly, San Francisco was enamored with Portola. In postcards advertising the event, he looked rugged, with wavy hair spilling out from under a plumed hat, a sash over his shoulder and a long sword by his side. But as talk of the festival spread, a vexing question emerged. According to Freeman, the chair of the festival committee was giving a speech when he pronounced Portola three different ways.

“One of the principals of this particular meeting says, `excuse me sir, how do we pronounce the name?’” Freeman said, “`We need to officially decide how we should pronounce the name.’”

The organizers began an extensive search for Portola’s signature. Dispatches were sent to Spain and Mexico. They wanted to know if, and where, he put the accent mark in his name, so they could pronounce it right. In the meantime, how to say Portola went viral, in a 1909 way. Letters poured into the The San Francisco Call. One of them suggested that the pronunciation be decided by a game of dice. Another newspaper joked that it should be pronounced “Porthole.” Then there was the verse, like this excerpt from Lost Accent, published in the San Francisco Chronicle:
For my nerves were racked to pieces

and I felt an awful jar

When I heard the Mispronouncer

Say my name was Portola.

Oh, but there was more. Like this selection from What’s In a Name?
We’ll sing his blows ‘gainst craven foes,

His parry, thrust and sortie;

And when we come to speak his name,

Oh, well — let’s call him Porty!

Only days before the festival was to officially open, a Stanford academic discovered a cache of Portola’s letters in Mexico City. He said, I have looked at the documents, there is an accent on the end of his name, it should be pronounced Portolà.

Finally, how he would have pronounced it. The long, lost accent! Portolahhh. But just as quickly as it was discovered, it was gone. Newspapers couldn’t print the accent mark.

“You would sometimes see it accented. A lot of it had to do with the printer and the type of font they were using. Having a font with the "a" accented was a rarity in anybody's print box,” said Freeman.

In a short time, the correct pronunciation of Portolà disappeared. Today, in the Bay Area, there’s no accent mark on any of the signs that bear his name. Not on neighborhoods, streets, schools or even the city named after him, Portola Valley.

Today’s young explorers can speak their names into voice recorders. But unlike Portolà, they will never have official papers to show where their accent marks should be. So, if we can learn anything from Portolà, it’s to put your accent mark wherever you can. You just don’t know if you’ll wind up in the history books.

A note on the accent on Portolà: Gaspar de Portolà was Catalan, so we are using the Catalan closed accent, not the Spanish accent grave."
names  naming  california  sanfrancisco  accents  pronunciation  spanish  español  portola  neighborhoods  italian  accentmarks  history 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Why Do Some Hate the Nickname ‘Frisco’? | Bay Curious | News Fix | KQED News
"Working on this story one day, I grabbed a Lyft and got to talking with the driver, a guy named Lorenzo Beasley.

“I grew up on the bottom of the city, a small neighborhood called Visitacion Valley,” Beasley says. “I think more of the urban community, like blacks or Hispanics in the city, those people always grew up using that word.”

Beasley says you hear it in Hunters Point, Lakeview, the Fillmore, Potrero Hill and especially the Mission.

I asked him who doesn’t like Frisco.

“It’s like a higher class of people, I guess,” Beasley says. “People who stay in Nob Hill and stuff. They look at it like slang, so they’re not really with it. It’s definitely a bit of snob thing involved.”

For Beasley, whether you use Frisco says what neighborhood you’re from.

Stanford linguist Teresa Pratt echoes that. She says that when you’re talking about language and word choice, like nicknames, you’re virtually always talking about money and power.

“Institutions or people who have power have an interest in maintaining that the way they speak is the right way to speak,” Pratt says. “Because it helps them. Because it’s coupled with this ideology that’s really widespread, that there’s a right way to speak, that there’s a way to speak that gets you ahead.”

Pratt says word choice is like a signal.

“Language as cultural capital, right?” she says. “It’s something like knowing exactly where to put your forks at the end of a meal.”"



"The famous Herb Caen eventually flip-flopped on Frisco a couple of times in the 1990s. It turns out we’ve built our anti-Frisco bias on some shaky ground."
frisco  sanfrancisco  names  naming  nicknames  2017  herbcaen  class 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Quote by Warsan Shire: “give your daughters difficult names. give your ...”
“give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.”
warshanshire  names  naming  girls  daughters  women  truth  language  pronunciation 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Infographics - THE ETYMOLOGY NERD
On this page you will find all and only the etymology infographics I created for this site!
Click on any of these icons to see their larger, legible versions. You may even have to zoom in further for some of the big ones.

To see these infographics organized by date, topic, or alphabet, please click here
https://www.etymologynerd.com/infographic-pngs.html "
etymology  placenames  names  naming  cities  us  sanfrancisco  losangeles  nyc  philadelphia 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Kilauea: A Beginner’s Guide to Hawaii’s Sublime Lava - The Atlantic
"But Western scientists were not the first people to encounter Hawaii’s volcanoes. Native Hawaiians have lived on the islands, and among the volcanoes, for more than 900 years. And their history, literature, and culture all recognize the reality of living near such a powerful phenomenon.

(A brief language note: Everyone who lives in the archipelago is called a “Hawaii resident.” The term “Hawaiian” is reserved for someone with native Hawaiian ancestry. This distinction is regularly made on the islands, including in the state constitution.)

“There’s aʻa or pahoehoe, the rough lava or the smooth lava,” said Kuʻualoha Hoʻomanawanui, a professor of literature at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “But the word for both of them is Pele.”

Pele is the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes, lava, and fire—but deity in its Western sense doesn’t quite describe the scope of Pele’s power. Many Hawaiian families trace their lineage back to Pele, meaning they count her as an ancestor.

“Pele is not just the goddess of lava. Lava is Pele,” Hoʻomanawanui told me. “The lava flows basically reaffirm what our literature tells us—that the land is alive, that Pele is alive. When we talk about the lava being alive, it’s a metaphor for the earth itself being alive. The lava is Pele, the magma is Pele, the lava flow and then when the lava hardens—each you can just replace the word with Pele.”

Even the site of the new eruption makes sense within Hawaiian culture. The current eruption has focused primarily on a subdivision called Leilani Estates. But Leilani Estates is a new name, and the subdivision sits within a larger area that Hawaiians traditionally called Keahialaka, which means “the fire of Laka.” Laka is the goddess of hula and one of Pele’s daughters.

“The Hawaiians watching are looking at the names of these places and saying, ‘Oh yeah!’” said Noelani M. Arista, a professor of Hawaiian history at the University of Hawaii. “It’s like, sometimes people are amazed that a flood will hit a flood zone. But we’ve got place names that say flood zone.”

“Anyone can come and slap a new name on any thing: ‘Let’s call it Leilani Estates!’ And Leilani is a generic name. But that won’t take away from the mana, the spiritual power and characteristics of that place, that the old place name embodies,” agreed Hoʻomanawanui.

These new names “lull people into a sense of complacency,” she said. “[They think,] I’m not actually buying property and building a house in an active lava rift zone, but I’m buying a piece of paradise.”

But sometimes these new names can be ironic. Kilauea is surrounded by rainforest, and people in Hawaii customarily link its lava flows to the Kool-Aid-red lehua flowers that grow around it. So when Hoʻomanawanui read that one of the first lava fissures in Leilani Estates opened up on Mohala Street, she laughed. “Well, of course!” she said. “Mohala means ‘to blossom,’ or ‘to bloom.’ In a way, it’s all interconnected.”

Pele’s story takes many forms—Hoʻomanawanui has studied 14 different serialized newspaper versions of it, all of which first appeared in the 19th century. But many describe a similar journey: how Pele and her family came up from an island in the South Pacific, how they found the Hawaii archipelago, and how Pele traveled to every island, looking for a place to keep her fire. She visited every island, and dug a hole in every island, until she eventually found Hawaii Island and placed her fire in Kilauea. (Hoʻomanawanui recommended that mainland Americans watch Holo Mai Pele, a PBS-filmed hula about Pele, for a credible summary of her story.)

“The story of Pele is a poetic, literary telling of what scientists would maybe call the Ring of Fire, and how volcanic activity gets to the Hawaiian islands from other parts of the Pacific,” said Hoʻomanawanui. “It’s an ideological explanation for why we don’t have volcanic activity occurring now on the other islands.”

But it’s more than a just-so story. Arista, the Hawaiian historian, contrasts how non-native Hawaii residents and native Hawaiians have discussed the recent lava flow. Much of the national media attention has focused on an American-centric understanding of the destruction, she said—for instance, by talking about the extent of property loss.

“But then you’ve got Hawaii residents saying, how amazing is the presence of this in my life,” she said. “Native people who live in the subdivision are largely saying, ‘Yes, I knew I was living in this space where volcanic activity is a huge factor, because I’ve lived my life here. And because we have this respect for Pele, I wanted to live here.’”

Hoʻomanawanui said she saw many native Hawaiians greeting the lava flow not with dread, but with acceptance. “When the flows start, you clean the house, you open the door, and you say: ‘Tūtū Pele, this is your land, take it,’” she said.

(Since Hoʻomanawanui’s family tracks its lineage back to Pele, they call her Tūtū, or grandmother. But other Hawaiians and non-Natives will call her Tūtū Pele out of respect, even if she is not an ancestor to them. “They acknowledge she’s a special force of nature—literally,” she said. Others, including non-Natives, may call her Madame Pele for the same reason.)

Hoʻomanawanui and Arista told me that seeing the lava as Pele didn’t detract from the scientific understanding of it. Instead, Pele anchors the experience of the lava, envelops it, and connects it to the lives of people who came before.

“Through dance, through costuming, through specific flowers—there’s layers of representation that I think really evoke a sensory experience beyond just knowledge, beyond just understanding as a Western scientific geological process,” Hoʻomanawanui said. “It’s a complete experience that is inclusive of that [scientific] knowledge but goes way beyond it.”

“We don’t have the words for belief or faith in this stuff,” she said. Instead, she said, Westerners should see Hawaiian customary belief as a practice and as a way of understanding the world."
hawaii  lava  science  names  naming  knowledge  volcanoes  complacency  indigeneity  2018  culture  language  languages  morethanhuman  geography  local  classideas  placenames 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Translations by Kathryn Nuernberger | Poetry Foundation
"I want to believe we can’t see anything
we don’t have a word for.

When I look out the window and say green, I mean sea green,
I mean moss green, I mean gray, I mean pale and also
electrically flecked with white and I mean green
in its damp way of glowing off a leaf.

Scheele’s green, the green of Renaissance painters,
is a sodium carbonate solution heated to ninety degrees
as arsenious oxide is stirred in. Sodium displaces copper,
resulting in a green precipitate that is sometimes used
as insecticide. When I say green I mean
a shiny green bug eating a yellow leaf.

Before synthetics, not every painter could afford a swathe
of blue. Shocking pink, aka neon, aka kinky pink,
wasn’t even on the market. I want to believe Andy Warhol
invented it in 1967 and ever since no one’s eyes
have been the same. There were sunsets before,
but without that hot shocking neon Marilyn, a desert sky
was just cataract smears. I want to believe this.

The pale green of lichen and half-finished leaves
filling my window is a palette very far from carnation
or bougainvillea, but to look out is to understand it is not,
is to understand what it is not. I stare out the window a lot.
Between the beginning and the end the leaves unfolded.
I looked out one morning and everything was unfamiliar
as if I was looking at the green you could only see
if you’d never known synthetic colors existed.

I’ve drawn into myself people say.
We understand, they say.

There are people who only have words for red
and black and white, and I wonder if they even see
the trees at the edge of the grass
or the green storms coming out of the west.
There are people who use the same word for green
and red and brown, and I wonder if red
seems so urgently bright pouring from the body
when there is no green for it to fall against.

In his treatise on color Wittgenstein asked,
“Can’t we imagine certain people
having a different geometry of colour than we do?”

I want to believe the eye doesn’t see green until it has a name,
because I don’t want anything to look the way it did before.

Van Gogh painted pink flowers, but the pink faded
and curators labeled the work “White Roses” by mistake.

The world in my window is a color the Greeks called chlorol.
When I learned the word I was newly pregnant
and the first pale lichens had just speckled the silver branches.
The pines and the lichens in the chill drizzle were glowing green
and a book in my lap said chlorol was one of the untranslatable
words. The vibrating glow pleased me then, as a finger
dipped in sugar pleased me then. I said the word aloud
for the baby to hear. Chlorol. I imagined the baby
could only see hot pink and crimson inside its tiny universe,
but if you can see what I’m seeing, the word for it
is chlorol. It’s one of the things you’ll like out here.

Nineteenth century critics mocked painters who cast shadows
in unexpected colors. After noticing green cypresses do drop red
shadows, Goethe chastised them. “The eye demands
completeness and seeks to eke out the colorific circle in itself.”
He tells of a trick of light that had him pacing a row of poppies
to see the flaming petals again and figure out why.

Over and over again Wittgenstein frets the problem of translucence.
Why is there no clear white?
He wants to see the world through white-tinted glasses,
but all he finds is mist.

At first I felt as if the baby had fallen away
like a blue shadow on the snow.

Then I felt like I killed the baby
in the way you can be thinking about something else
and drop a heavy platter by mistake.

Sometimes I feel like I was stupid
to have thought I was pregnant at all.

Color is an illusion, a response to the vibrating universe
of electrons. Light strikes a leaf and there’s an explosion
where it lands. When colors change, electromagnetic fields
are colliding. The wind is not the only thing moving the trees.

Once when I went into those woods I saw a single hot pink orchid
on the hillside and I had to keep reminding myself not to
tell the baby about the beautiful small things I was seeing.
So, hot pink has been here forever and I don’t even care
about that color or how Andy Warhol showed me an orchid.
I hate pink. It makes my eyes burn."
vi:datatellign  poetry  names  naming  colors  words  green  kathrynnuernberger  wittgenstein  goethe  vangogh  andywarhol  illusion  vision  sight  seeing  pink  color  eyes 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Street Naming Controversy--1909 - FoundSF
"The commission sought to address the confusion of numbered streets in the established area of the city versus the numbered avenues in the growing sections west of the cemeteries and the sparsely populated southern section of the city designated as "avenues, south." They worked at finding distinct names for all the numbered or lettered streets. In the Richmond and Sunset districts they devised a full set of Spanish names to conform to an alphabetical pattern for each of the numbered avenues. The scheme called for First Avenue to become Arguello, Second Avenue to become Borcia, Third Avenue to become Coronado, continuing for all 26 letters of the alphabet. Starting with Twenty-seventh Avenue, the streets would be designated by male or female saints, starting with San Antonio and ending with Santa Ynez at Forty-Seventh Avenue. Unable to find Spanish saints with names beginning with K, Q, W, X or Z, they chose first Alcatraz, then Ayala for Forty-eighth Avenue and La Playa for Forty-ninth Avenue.

For the east-west streets in these neighborhoods that were lettered, two breaks in the alphabetical pattern were already in place. "D" Street had already been made an extension of Fulton Street from downtown and the development of Golden Gate Park had eliminated streets bearing the letters E, F and G over thirty years previously. Since there were three minor streets named for Lincoln, the commission wanted to change the names of those streets and rename "H" Street to honor President Lincoln with the more prestigious thoroughfare that bordered the park. The commission then chose eight names for the remaining streets in the Sunset District as Ignacio, Joaquin, Kaweah, Linares, Moncado, Noriega, Ortega and Pacheco. They had only to name the first eight streets, because the Parkside Realty Company had already been using the last eight names, Quintara, Rivera, Santiago, Taraval, Ulloa, Vicente, Wawona and Xavier streets for the area it was developing. In the Bayview District in the southeast corner of the city, an alphabetical sequence of names commemorating patriotic military or civic heroes were suggested for both the numbered avenues and lettered streets.

When the San Francisco Chronicle first published Charles Murdock's ideas of changing the numbered avenues to names a year earlier on October 4, 1908, there was no notice taken by the neighborhood newspapers. The suggestion was speculative and suggested names of explorers, generals or statesmen for avenues in the Richmond, Sunset and Bayview. On November 8, 1909, the Commission on the Changing of Street Names submitted its suggested changes to the Board of Supervisors for first reading and it got an immediate reaction. All the daily newspapers showed full support for the changes. The Examiner published the entire list for all the public to read. The Call's editorial said, "some of the suggested Spanish names may be a little difficult of negotiation by the American tongue" but suggested that the city schools could address that problem as part of the history curriculum.

Topsy-Turvy Town

The Chronicle showed its support with the argument that "if we are ever to emulate our enterprising neighbor, Los Angeles, in attractiveness" employing "musical Spanish names which our history entitles us to appropriate" might even bring in tourist dollars to San Francisco. Despite the positive spin given by the newspapers, the idea of changing all the numbered avenues in the Richmond and Sunset Districts to Spanish names brought immediate negative reaction from the residents of those neighborhoods. Yet when the Board of Supervisors met one week later to address the street-naming issue, the two offended western neighborhoods argued that the names were so repugnant that if approved the "avenues" would forever be known as "Spanish Town." The Spanish "heroes" were vilified as robbers and freebooters and Spain was called "one of the worst nations that ever tyrannized over the human race." There were comical attempts at saying the "unpronounceable" names of Xavier and Ximenes.

Despite the heated rhetoric, the Board voted twelve to five in favor of the changes, and over 250 street names were altered as recommended. When this news got back to the Richmond and Sunset districts, action was immediate. The Richmond had the oldest continuously operating neighborhood improvement club in the city and had been fighting the downtown bureaucracy for years to get services. They were politically savvy and would not tolerate being treated like squatters out in the sand dunes. Since the earthquake and fire, the district had experienced tremendous growth, and most of the new residents were homeowners. They were a force to be reckoned with. The neighborhood newspaper, The Richmond Banner, editorialized on November 19: "If the wishes of the twelve of our "patriotic" supervisors are carried out, our Sunset and Richmond districts will soon be known as the Spanish Town of San Francisco, and 'The Spanish will then have taken San Francisco' notwithstanding Dewey's victory at Manila Bay several years ago."

The editorial contrasted the twelve who voted for the name changes against the five "true Americans" who resisted the proposal to "Spaniardize" the districts. "The people of Sunset and Richmond are fully aroused and will never submit to the insult and injustice heaped upon them by the majority of the Board of Supervisors." In closing, the editor pledged, "Sunset and Richmond districts will stand together and fight this miserable surrender of American names to a finish." The districts didn't have much time to "fight." The commission was to decide quickly, since it faced dissolution at the end of December and the new P. H. McCarthy administration, which would take office in January, had a labor agenda and may not want to waste time on frivolous street-naming. A week of public and private meetings in the Richmond and Sunset districts brought results. Lobbying and pressuring of public officials brought the naming commissioners to a special Saturday meeting to hear the concerns of the neighborhoods.

The following morning the Examiner reported that "thirty-five thousand residents of the Richmond and Sunset districts arose en masse yesterday and voiced such a protest against having the names of their avenues and cross streets changed, that the commission was forced to capitulate." Bowing to the pressure, the Commission agreed that the avenues could remain unchanged except for First Avenue and Forty-ninth Avenue and the alphabetical cross-streets would be the only other western district streets to be renamed, except for the Geary Street extension. The name of Point Lobos was removed from most of the Richmond, but would be given to the curving road that extended from Fortieth Avenue to the Cliff House.

The indignation rally scheduled for the next afternoon at Richmond Hall was turned into a huge victory party for the Richmond, but was bittersweet for the Sunset. Neither neighborhood would lose its numbered avenues, but there was still the issue of the un-American streets to deal with. The Sunset District felt it wasn't getting a fair shake, since it had sixteen streets to be renamed while the Richmond only had three. At the Board of Supervisors' meeting on the next day, the spokesmen for the Sunset Improvement Club presented the argument and pleaded for names of Americans "that reflect glory and luster upon our civilization." Additional speakers made it clear that the two western neighborhoods, through their efforts in fighting the attempt to make wholesale changes to their numerical avenues, were now unified and supporting each other for the next round.

The Board essentially had thrown the street naming to the neighborhoods. The historian from the commission, who had championed and researched the names of Spanish explorers and pioneers, was so incensed by the compromise that he resigned to protest the capitulation. Now the horse-trading for street names was on. Anza had true historical significance to San Francisco's origins and was agreed to by all. "B" Street became an extension of Turk Street. "C" Street was Starr King for a while, but they kept alphabetical order and settled on Custer, for the "hero" killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Lincoln Way met with everyone's approval. Ignacio remained on the list at first reading, rejecting Irving for fear of confusion with Irwin Street.

John Jay, statesmen and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was decided upon for the next street in the alphabetical sequence. Two American generals, Kirkham and Lawton, were chosen next. Moraga seemed acceptable to the residents because he'd been Anza's lieutenant and first commander of the Presidio. Noriega had been a commander of the Monterey Presidio so that seemed close enough to stave off local opposition. Ortega, as a scout who was credited with the discovery of San Francisco Bay, relaying the news to Portola, made him a logical choice for a street name. Pacheco, while only a foot soldier in the Anza expedition, at least had stayed on as an early settler in the area.

The remaining names had been chosen by the powerful Parkside Realty Company and were already in use, but one name was objected to. Xavier had been a source of pronunciation controversy, so it was decided to break the alphabetical pattern and move to the next letter. Yorba had been a sergeant in Portola's expedition of 1769, and with those credentials, was a better choice to be honored with a street name. First Avenue's new name was unsettled between Arguello and St. Francis Boulevard. La Playa, Spanish for "the beach," was adopted without "avenue." Before the Board met on November 29 for final reading, some negotiation had taken place in the commission because Balboa and Cabrillo had been restored and Irving and Judah, originally proposed for the Bayview District, were substituted now for Sunset District streets. The Sunset had stood its ground and settled for Lincoln Way and four "American" names for streets "I" through "L."

There was no more … [more]
sanfrancisco  1909  streets  names  naming  richmonddistrict  sunsetdistrict  spanish  español  roads  bayview  hunter'spoint  religion  nationalism  classideas 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Why is it called "Richmond"? - FoundSF
"The Richmond District was officially given its name in November 1890. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted ordinance #2309, which legally designated all the territory from First Avenue (now Arguello) to the ocean and from Fulton Street to Fort Presidio as the Richmond District...

The area has been referred to for many years as the "Outside Lands" or, on one map, as "The Great Sand Waste." Needless to say this was not pleasing to its local boosters. In 1889, about the time the improvement club was trying to decide on a more dignified name for the district, one of its members, George Turner Marsh, was building a beautiful home on the southeast corner of 12th Avenue and Clement... He planned to call it Richmond House in memory of his native home in Richmond, Australia, a suburb of Melbourne in the state of Victoria.

When various names for the new district came up for discussion, one of Marsh's friend, George R. Fletcher, asked, "What is the matter with calling it 'Richmond," and, there being nothing the matter, the suggestion was motioned and seconded.

Marsh's birthplace of Richmond, Australia got its name when his ancestors emigrated there from the town of Richmond, England, and named their new homeland after the old. Richmond, England originally was named after a lovely castle, called Richmond, located on the nearby river Thames. The castle had been built by England's first Tudor king, Henry VII. It could be said, therefore, that San Francisco's Richmond District was named, indirectly, after a castle in England.

The only flaw in this romantic derivation of our District's name is the little-known fact that this area has not been--officially-- the Richmond District since 1917. A subsequent ordinance of the S.F. Board of Supervisors changed the District's name to the Park Presidio District."
classideas  sanfrancisco  history  names  naming  richmonddistrict  outsidelands 
december 2017 by robertogreco
History of San Francisco Place Names
"Click on a highlighted street or landmark for details. Use the lower-right box to browse, filter by theme, search or jump to a neighborhood."
classideas  maps  mapping  history  names  naming  sanfrancisco  places  placenames  noahveltman 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Frequently Occurring Surnames from the 2010 Census
"Tabulations of all surnames occurring 100 or more times in the 2010 Census returns are provided in the files listed below. The first link explains the methodology used for identifying and editing names data. The second link provides an Excel file of the top 1,000 surnames. The third link provides zipped Excel and CSV (comma separated) files of the complete list of 162,253 names. The top ten surnames are:

Name Number Of Occurrences
Smith 2,442,977
Johnson 1,932,812
Williams 1,625,252
Brown 1,437,026
Jones 1,425,470
Garcia 1,166,120
Miller 1,161,437
Davis 1,116,357
Rodriguez 1,094,924
Martinez 1,060,159"

[See also: https://www.census.gov/topics/population/genealogy/data.html ]

[via: https://source.opennews.org/articles/data-stories-arent-downers/ ]
names  naming  census  2010  data  classideas 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Folklore Situationism – MORNING, COMPUTER
"NORTHERN EARTH gives me joy.  The September issue has a big, rich piece on psychogeography, phenomenology, landscape writing, history and, most tellingly for me, folklore.  For me, it tied right in to the mechanic of myth in STAR SHIPS – the transmission of lore through story. I’m still thinking about this talk I have to do next month, Myth And The River Of Time.

Moving through America, I always find myself noticing and thinking that American roads and bridges are named after Americans. I live in a country where roads and bridges are named for ghost stories.  Screaming Boy Lane and Boggart’s Bridge.

Dramatising the landscape, which we’ve done since megalithic times and before.

Landscape writing seems to eventually take a turn into nationalism.  I never quite got that. Myth is a commonwealth.  And you know that, somewhere, sometime, someone drives on one of those roads or bridges in America and leans back and tells a myth of the person it’s named for, a truth grown in time, a thing they did or saw that becomes story in the telling.

They have a website where you can buy a year’s subscription for ten pounds British."
warrenellis  2017  folklore  situationist  landscape  writing  us  naming  lore  myth  psychogeography  phenomenology 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Apocalypse, Now - On The Media - WNYC
"Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.

1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.

2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest. 

3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.

4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world.

Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!"
robertmacfarlane  kimstanleyrobinson  clairevayewatkins  jeffvandermeer  sciencefiction  scifi  speculativefiction  anthropocene  humans  nature  multispecies  language  tolisten  economics  finance  cli-fi  climatechange  utopia  names  naming  silence  pessimism  optimism  hope  dystopia  anthopocene  deserts  natue  change  earth 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Word Origin | Turkish Winds | Mavi Boncuk
[via: https://twitter.com/kitabet/status/881536700408885248 ]

"Gündoğusu: dry and cold East wind

Keşişleme : South East wind of Istanbul. Nautical sailor use. Keşiş, monk EN. from the direction of Keşişdagi/Uludag of Bursa. Also | Samyeli | Akyeli

Kıble: hot and moist South wind.

Lodos:hot South West wind. Nautical sailor use. Also Kabayel | kumkarası

Günbatısı: hot and humid West wind.

Karayel: North West wind following rain.

Yıldız: cold North wind. Nautical sailor use.

Poyraz: North East wind.Cold and snow in winter. Choppy seas and white foam on the peaks of waves..

İmbat: from Italian "İmbatto"[1]. Meltem of sea. Seasonal Aegean wind blowing from sea to land.

Sam Yeli: Desert wind. Usually used in Southeast Turkey.

Etezyen: May-September winds. East Mediterranean and Aegean wind from North.

Bora: High Northern winds.Used interchangeably with Poyraz.

Meltem: The Meltemi wind was known by the old Greeks as the Etesian[2]northern winds, and results from a high pressure system laying over the Balkan/Hungary area and a relatively low system over Turkey. Although this katabatic[3] wind can bring about harsh sailing conditions it also provides cooling, low humidity and good visibility. Furthermore, it can be characterized as one of the few Mediterranean winds that do not necessarily die out at the end of the day and can easily last more than three to six days.

Possibly from Italian maltempo m (plural maltempi) foul weather EN; kötü hava. tempo da lupi - lousy weather. Tempo= time EN. From Latin tempus, from Proto-Indo-European *tempos (“stretch”), from the root *temp- (“to stetch, string”).

[1] imbatto [im-bàt-to]
Imbatto wind, the sea wind blowing toward the coast

[2] recurring annually —used of summer winds that blow over the Mediterranean from Latin etesius, from Greek etēsios, from etos year .

[3] A katabatic wind, from the Greek word katabatikos meaning "going downhill", is the technical name for a drainage wind, a wind that carries high density air from a higher elevation down a slope under the force of gravity. Sometimes also called fall winds. Examples of true katabatic winds include the bora (or bura) in the Adriatic, the Bohemian Wind or Böhmwind in the Ore Mountains, the mistral, the Santa Ana in southern California, the tramontane, and the oroshi in Japan.

Not all downslope winds are katabatic. For instance, winds such as the foehn, Chinook, or bergwind, are rain shadow winds where air driven upslope on the windward side of a mountain range drops its moisture and descends leeward drier and warmer.
wind  winds  weather  words  turkey  turkish  language  names  naming 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Oh The Places You Should Know
"OhThePlacesYouShouldKnow.com is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) language place name map tool created by the non-profit Kwi Awt Stelmexw. This tool has been created for educational purposes, and to assist people in calling for the the official reclaiming of Indigenous place names in the homelands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh peoples.

This online map is curated by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language-speaker and teacher Khelsilem, of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw descent, in collaboration with web developer Victor Temprano and curriculum developer Nicki Benson. Icons designed by Corrina Keeling and Khelsilem.

Many of the names on this map were collected from a 1937 Sḵwx̱wú7mesh place names map developed by the City of Vancouver and August Jack Khatsalano of the Squamish Nation. That map has been updated and re-released in tandem with this website, and is available for purchase here."
maps  mapping  canada  britishcolumbia  indigenous  squamish  placenames  naming  names  geography  khelsilem  victortemprano  corrinakeeling  nickibenson  1937  vancouver  jackkhatsalano  firstnations 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Vito Acconci, Performance Artist and Uncommon Architect, Dies at 77 - The New York Times
"Some performances might have gotten him arrested, though Mr. Acconci also seemed to possess the instincts of a cat burglar. In one of his most famous early works, “Following Piece,” from 1969, he spent each day for almost a month following a person picked at random on the streets of Manhattan, sometimes taking a friend along to photograph the action. The rules were only that Mr. Acconci had to keep following the person until he or she entered a private place where he couldn’t go in.

Mr. Acconci saw himself not as a stalker but as an unmoored soul searching for direction.

“It was sort of a way to get myself off the writer’s desk and into the city,” he once told the musician Thurston Moore. “It was like I was praying for people to take me somewhere I didn’t know how to go myself.”

The dozens of performance pieces that followed through the early 1970s, many of them now little-known, featured varying elements of bodily discomfort, exhibitionism and gender play — elements he shared with other artists of the time, particularly female — as well as a devious wit and a Svengali aura that were Mr. Acconci’s own.

In “Seedbed” (1972) — Mr. Acconci’s most infamous piece, which came to overshadow much of his other work — he constructed an angled false floor at the Sonnabend Gallery in SoHo and hid himself beneath it with a microphone; as people walked above him he spoke to them as he masturbated. The piece became a touchstone of performance art in part because of its sheer, outlandish audacity.

But it also underscored Mr. Acconci’s abiding interest in art that did not exist as an object set apart from the world, in a frame or on a plinth, but as something deeply embedded in everyday life.

“I wanted people to go through space somehow, not to have people in front of space, looking at something, bowing down to something,” he said of the performance in an interview with The New York Times in 2016 on the occasion of a retrospective at MoMA PS 1 in Queens. “I wanted space people could be involved in.”

That ambition took hold fully in the mid-1970s, when, in a radical career turn, he abandoned the gallery world and remade himself as a highly unorthodox architect and designer, creating works like public parks, airport rest areas and even an artificial island on a river in Austria.

The move confused his peers and caused his profile in the art world to recede, to the point where many younger artists who were indirectly influenced by his work had little idea who had created it. In his later years, Mr. Acconci sometimes agonized over this situation, but he said he had no choice but to follow his interests where they took him — which was no less than an ambition to change the way people lived.

“I wish we could make buildings that could constantly explode and come back in different ways,” he said in one interview. “The idea of a changing environment suggests that if your environment changes all the time, then maybe your ideas will change all the time. I think architecture should have loose ends. This might be another problem with Modernism — it’s too complete within itself.”

Vito Hannibal Acconci was born on Jan. 4, 1940, and raised in the Bronx in a tightly knit Italian-Catholic family. His father, Hamilcar — Hamilcar Barca was the father of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, hence Mr. Acconci’s unusual middle name — was a bathrobe manufacturer whose business was never very good. His mother, Chiara, known as Catherine, worked as a school cafeteria attendant to help makes ends meet.

Mr. Acconci spoke often about how his father’s unusual name, and his love of literature and opera, sparked a fierce interest in words at an early age. (“I prefer Hannibal to Vito,” he once told an interviewer, “but, then again, that was before ‘Silence of the Lambs.’”)

His father died when Mr. Acconci was in his early 20s. He said he was spoiled and protected long into adulthood by his mother, whom he labored to keep in ignorance of the shocking specifics of his work.

In 1962, he enrolled in the graduate writing program at the University of Iowa, in thrall to postmodern writers like Alain Robbe-Grillet and John Hawkes. He married a fellow artist, Rosemary Mayer (they divorced in the late 1960s), and with her sister, the poet and artist Bernadette Mayer, he published a journal called “0 to 9,” after the numeral paintings of Jasper Johns.

By 1969, in what he called “a kind of fever,” he was making performances at a rate of sometimes several a week, documenting them in a decidedly analog archive of metal filing cabinets that grew vast toward the end of his life, taking up a large room in the studio in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he and Maria Acconci ran Acconci Studios, a design and architecture firm.

Holland Cotter, describing Mr. Acconci’s sui-generis performance persona in The Times in 2016, wrote: “Thirty-something, hirsute, in slack shape, he looks and acts the part of sleazoid voyeur, stand-up comic, psychopath and self-martyred saint.”

He added: “In ways not so different from Cindy Sherman’s in photography, he was creating multiple characters who happened to share a body — his — that he wanted both to explore and escape, and that was coming apart under stress.”

In 1980, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago organized a retrospective, and by that time videos, photographic documentations and other works of his had entered numerous important public collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

To support himself throughout a career that was never careerist, he taught and lectured in art schools around New York, and his classroom presence became legendary, a kind of performance work itself — with his long unruly hair, his all-black wardrobe, his gravel-bed voice with its distinctive loping stutter and, before he quit, the endless cigarettes he would light, stub out, pocket, retrieve and light again.

Even when thinking about the end of his life, he seemed to conceive of it as consonant with his work, a performance. In a letter to an unknown recipient in 1971, he spoke of his fears of dying on a plane trip to Canada and stated that before the flight he would deposit an envelope with a key to his apartment at the registrar’s desk at the School of Visual Arts.

“In the event of my death,” the letter, a kind of will, concluded, “the envelope can be picked up by the first person who calls for it; he will be free to use my apartment, and its contents, any way he wishes.”"
vitoacconci  2017  names  naming  art  artists  public  architecture  design  careers  careerism  body  bodies  multitudes  modernism  change  environment 
april 2017 by robertogreco
A new map for BART with better names
"Now that BART has extended to Warm Springs/South Fremont and will soon go further south to Milpitas and San Jose, it's high time to create a new BART map, that not only includes other regional rail like Caltrain and Capitol Corridor, but ALSO all new station names!

Standardizing the BART policy of creating long station names, preferably with a slash, the new stations are plenty long. Note that some of the station names have evolved since the last time station names were discussed.

Please help us decide if the stations should have local area names with some describers, or if they should simply be named after cross streets."
names  naming  bart  transportation  publictransit  sanfrancisco  bayarea  2017 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Why is it called Baghdad by the Bay? | Baghdad By The Bay
"Hello, Visitors!
By Herb Caen

Greetings and welcome to San Francisco, city of the world, worlds within a city, forty-nine square miles of ups and downs, ins and outs, and going around in circles, most of them dizzy. A small “d” democratic city run by big-buck conservatives, a place where the winds of freedom will blow your mind and your hat off, where eccentricity is the norm and sentimentality the ultimate cynicism. Cable cars and conventions, boosterism living uncomfortably with sophistication, a built-in smugness announcing simply that we are simply the best. The only city better than San Francisco today was San Francisco yesterday–maybe. Remember, visitors, that you are lucky to be here. Have fun. Spend money. Marvel at our giddy combination of Kookville and High Kultur, busyness and booziness, millionaires stepping daintily over passed-out winos, hot-pantzed ladies of the night throwing themselves at your passing car. Enjoy yourselves, but don’t stay too long. Parking is such street sorrow.

Years ago, this wide-eyed kid from Sacramento dubbed it Baghdad-by-the-Bay, a storybook city of spires and minarets, gay banners fluttering in the breeze. A viewtiful city, he called it, a Saroyanesque pastiche of lovable gamblers and boozy bohemians spouting half-aphorisms in saloons run by patrician publicans. The most beautiful bay in the world–only superlatives were accepted–was breasted by ferries that looked like Victorian mansions with sidewheels. Then came the greatest bridges in the world–“the car-strangled spanner” of the bay and Joe Strauss’s suspenseful “bridge that couldn’t be built.” We looked around at the wonderful, funderful city and we were proud to be San Franciscans, the envy of all.

San Francisco, Queen City of the Pacific (the title was once non-ironic), gleaming jewel of the West Coast, surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth by Republican reality. Occasionally a Republican mayor sneaks in, but it is essentially a city that votes the straight Demo ticket. I don’t even know how they get people to run for mayor: who wants to be Chief Kook of Kookville? We have a city father who is an unmarried mother of two and a gay seat on the Board of Supes, as befits the new demographics. San Francisco has a large gay population, and it keeps increasing, although exactly how gays multiply has not been explained. Nothing is ever explained in San Francisco.

“The city that was never a town.” There’s a thought that appeals to San Franciscans. Will Rogers may or may not have said it, but the phrase does conjure up a flash of the crazed and crazy place that was born in a Gold Rush and grew up overnight to become a fabled city. Tip to visiting journalists: “The coldest winter I ever spent was one summer in San Francisco” was one of the best lines Mark Twain never wrote, but who cares. Whoever said it was accurate enough.

Welcome visitors, to a city as confusing as the Democratic party. If you drive, don’t drink, but the driving will drive you to drink. We are casual about street signs, but you might find one if you look hard enough. Directions? Forget it, and don’t ask whatever looks like a resident. He won’t know either. If you keep going on a one-way street, you will soon come to another one-way street with traffic coming right at you. That’s what makes us colorful and our insurance rates the highest. Don’t worry about traffic lights. Green and red both mean go like hell; in fact you cross on the green at your own risk. Another tip: No Parking Any Time means park any time, usually on the sidewalk and sometimes on a pedestrian. There are a lot of tow-away zones, so check the signs. It is maddening to pay $60 to ransom your car from a towing company whose slogan is “Discover San Francisco”.

San Francisco, a city for all seasons (sometimes four in one day) and various reasons. A city that thinks nothing of spending $60 million to rebuild a cable car system that was obsolete a century ago and even less of letting drunks lie on the street as long as they aren’t in the way of the cables; “a sociological, not a police problem,” unquote. A city of soup kitchens and two thousand restaurants, some of them excellent and most of them crowded. A place where whites are a minority and “the largest Chinatown outside of the Orient” is no longer large enough. The mayor and both congressmen are Jewish women; do we need a Yenta Control Board?

So welcome, dear visitors, to Crazytown USA. You will either be crazy about it or become as crazy as the rest of us. Either way, may you all return safely to your funny country, that large land mass slightly to the right of Baghdad-by-the-Bay."
herbcain  sanfrancisco  names  naming  nicknames  baghdadbythebay 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Don’t Call It Frisco: The History of San Francisco’s Nicknames — The Bold Italic — San Francisco
"San Francisco is a lot of things. It’s hippies, hipsters, vagrants, flagrants, artsy-fartsy people and more. You name it, and it probably lives here. And accordingly, no single nickname has ever really stuck for Saint Frank.

Riffs on the grand title of our city come and go. Many of them are “locals only” tags. But no major urban destination can escape the nicknaming process — just look at the Big Apple or the Windy City. Like most things San Francisco, there’s no consensus on which nickname — if any — is appropriate. We’ll leave that question for the comments section. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve discovered about the history of San Francisco nicknames.

The Great Debate: “Frisco”

The St. Louis–San Francisco Railway, known as the “Frisco,” began operating in 1876, but the nickname is as old as the American West. Herb Caen, the Pulitzer Prize–winning San Francisco Chronicle columnist, was adamant that no one call his fair city by such a sliced-up moniker. Instead, “Caress each Spanish syllable, salute our Italian saint. Don’t say Frisco and don’t say San-Fran-Cis-Co,” he advised. “That’s the way Easterners, like Larry King, pronounce it. It’s more like SanfranSISco.” Yet cultural forces ranging from Otis Redding (“headed for the Frisco Bay”) to Pink Floyd (the unofficial Darkness Over Frisco live album) to Google (search “Frisco,” and see what comes up at the top of the page) keep the name associated with San Francisco.

Here’s the thing with “Frisco”: nicknames are supposed to embody some overall characteristic, not just act as a lazy surgery of the city’s name. There’s a reason we don’t call New York “Nork” when we’re feeling saucy. It’s the “City That Never Sleeps” for poetic reasons. Just because “Frisco” sounds like a place (and it is in Texas and Colorado), doesn’t make it a good nickname. No one would get on the I-5 and head south for “Agles.”

(Pro tip: if an out-of-town friend calls it Frisco, avoid the soapbox. San Franciscans have a rep for being uptight jerks about the nickname. Don’t play into the stereotype. They’ll eventually notice you never call it that anyway.)

The Uncool One: “San Fran”

This suffers from the same lame laziness as Frisco, but with an added layer of sounding like someone trying to be hip. “San Fran” seems like a name that could and should work in conversation, but it’s just so out of the local vernacular that it never fails to trip alarm bells.

The Explain-y One: “Baghdad by the Bay”

Such a name may trigger worries of negative geopolitical undertones, but this was actually the title of a collection of Caen essays about San Francisco (and a persistent nickname he used). The reference to the ancient Iraqi capital — which is also near Babylon — was meant as an indication of the wide range of characters and cultures you found in San Francisco decades ago. This past decade has put our relationship with Baghdad in a tough place, though. Anyone hearing the phrase for the first time needs a delicate explanation. That’s not the sign of a great nickname. Sorry, Herb.

The Easy One: “SF”

“SF” is fine because it’s technically not a nickname, but an initialism. People travel to LA and DC without getting raised eyebrows. I use “SF” all the time (especially when flying out of SFO) and know plenty of others who do the same. It’s just not particularly endearing or interesting.

The Maybe-a-Century-Ago One: “The Paris of the West”

This was a common nickname at the turn of the twentieth century used to coax tourists and lure Easterners to move to our glorious city on the other side of the railroads. But no proud urban destination likes to be thought of as the “something else” to a better-known city, so it’s fallen out of use.

The Humblebrag One: “The Golden City”

Echoes of the gold rush make for a great nickname, but these days, when “the Golden City” is used by locals, it feels pretty self-indulgent.

Yes, there was gold in them hills, and yes, we still have golden sunsets, and the rolling hills shimmer gold most of the year. But San Francisco has a reputation for being a little too proud of itself, and “the Golden City” doesn’t do much to alter that. This is especially true with the modern tech gold rush and the debatable economic value it’s creating. “The Golden City” is really the kind of nickname that everyone except people from San Francisco should use.

The Locals-Only One: “The City”

“The City” is a local’s nickname not because of any exclusivity, but because if you are within a reasonable distance of another city, people will have no idea what you’re talking about. The capital letters don’t translate in conversation.
But when used appropriately, the nickname creates a nice recall of the days of the Old West, when San Francisco was the only metropolitan area within conceivable traveling distance. If you told someone in the Salinas Valley, “I’m heading to the City,” they’d know what you meant. Oakland and San Jose were still glimmers in the eyes of today’s giants. Everything between here and LA was wild ranching and farmlands. “The City” didn’t need capital letters.

The Intimate One: Fog City

To outsiders, fog is San Francisco’s gentle lover. The white duvet creeps through the hills each morning, wrapping us in a great amalgam of cloud and steel. Yet to locals, the fog can be a freezing pain in the ass, ruining bocce ball games and dates on the beach. Karl replaces that warm California sun with a menacing wind that feels like ghosts sucking out your soul. We do love him — HE IS BEAUTIFUL — but in the bittersweet way New Yorkers may love the fact that they never sleep. He’s woven into the city’s fabric — or, really, he is the city’s fabric — which makes for a pretty good nickname.

The Best One (So Far): “The City by the Bay”

Keep it simple. You can drive over the bridges a thousand
times and still catch yourself lost in the majesty of San Francisco
nestled against the water, islands, sailboats and sunshine of
the bay. Let’s call a spade a spade."
frisco  sanfrancisco  names  naming  nicknames  2013  calebgarling  herbcaen 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Sarah Hendren on Vimeo
"Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers – Translators, impresarios, believers, and the heartbroken—this is a talk about design outside of authorship and ownership, IP or copyright, and even outside of research and collaboration. When and where do ideas come to life? What counts as design? Sara talks about some of her own "not a real designer" work, but mostly she talks about the creative work of others: in marine biology, architecture, politics, education. Lots of nerdy history, folks."
sarahendren  eyeo2016  2016  eyeo  dilettantes  interlopers  translation  ownership  copyright  collaboration  education  marinebiology  architecture  design  research  learning  howwelearn  authorship  socialengagement  criticaldesign  thehow  thewhy  traction  meaning  place  placefulness  interconnectedness  cause  purpose  jacquescousteau  invention  dabbling  amateurs  amateurism  exploration  thinking  filmmaking  toolmaking  conviviality  convivialtools  ivanillich  impresarios  titles  names  naming  language  edges  liminalspaces  outsiders  insiders  dabblers  janeaddams  technology  interdependence  community  hullhouse  generalists  radicalgeneralists  audrelorde  vaclavhavel  expertise  pointofview  disability  adaptability  caseygollan  caitrinlynch  ingenuity  hacks  alinceshepherd  inclinedplanes  dance  pedagogy  liminality  toolsforconviviality  disabilities  interconnected  interconnectivity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Reading Things — Magazine — Walker Art Center
"I’m sunbathing on the beach on a cloudless August day in the Rockaways. It’s blindingly bright and I have a T-shirt draped over my eyes to block the sun. I am overhearing a conversation between some of the friends around me and someone new who has walked across the sand to us. Whose is this voice I don’t know? I think it is man, someone I’ve never met. I uncover my eyes and see that it is one of my friends—a woman, a transwoman whose female-ness I have never questioned, whose voice I had always heard as a female voice. Had I never heard her before? How can my ears hear two different voices, depending on whether or not I know who is speaking? As I puzzle over this, I start thinking of other instances in which two or more versions of reality butt up against each other, two contradictory sensory experiences that are somehow both real to me, depending on how I encounter them. What is going on here?"



"This winter I delivered an artist talk at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I’ve been teaching, about my investment in objects with open-ended or ambiguous function—things that cause one to ask, “What is this for?” I discuss the studio as a place where I aim to make objects that frustrate even my own attempts to know them, once and for all, as one thing and not others. I make things that ask for nuanced, open-ended forms of reading that can accommodate these objects of ambiguous functionality. Over coffee the following morning, one of the other faculty members in the department, Corin Hewitt, excitedly wanted to know if I had heard of a beloved object known as the “slant step.” I had not, but since then an image of it has been following me around—in the studio, on the train, in and out of bathrooms, while reading the news. The slant step is a small piece of furniture that was purchased in a second-hand store in Mill Valley, California, in 1965 by the artist William Wiley and his then-graduate student Bruce Nauman. Costing less than a dollar, this wood and green linoleum, one-of-a-kind handmade object struck these two artists as puzzling and fascinating, primarily because its function was a mystery. Though reminiscent of a step stool, the step part of the stool sits at a 45-degree angle to the floor, making it impossible to step up onto it, hence the name, the slant step. This unassuming ambiguous object resonated not just with Wiley and Nauman, but also with a whole range of Bay Area artists in the 1960s, inspiring more than one group exhibition themed around it, a catalogue, and numerous articles as well as extensive use as a teaching tool by the painter Frank Owen. It is now in the permanent collection of the University of California Davis.3"



"In the midst of all this urgency, the figure of the slant step comes to my mind. I feel embarrassed about it because what could this remote object have to offer when we are in need of such concrete changes? A useful object with no apparent use. A handmade thing of unknown origin, producing more questions than answers. An object that modestly requests a more effortful type of reading than what we normally engage in. We identify things in terms of their function and move on, reading passively. We learn only as much as we need to know. This object, compelling to so many in the past 50 years, is compelling to me as well, insofar as it encourages me to read more slowly. It makes me want to see it as more than one thing at once, or as many different things in quick succession. Looking to the slant step as a teacher, I want to learn what it seems to already know—I can’t always know what I am looking at. Clearly already well used in the mid-1960s but for an inscrutable purpose, the slant step speaks of bodies without being able to name them. It has always seemed wrong to me to say that we see what is before us and then interpret it, because the idea of “interpreting what we see” implies an inaccurate linearity to this process and suggests that the things themselves are fixed while our understandings of them remain malleable. Rather, we understand what we are seeing at the same moment we see it; perception is identification. Understood in this way, changing our interpretations is literally synonymous with changing the functioning of our senses, initiating a pulling apart of the instantaneous act of assigning meaning to what we see. This slowness to assign identification in the moment of encounter lies at the heart of the slant step’s curious appeal."



"On an overcast August day in 1995, Tyra Hunter, a hairstylist and black transgender woman, got in a car accident while driving in Washington, DC. Adrian Williams, the emergency medical technician at the scene who began to cut away her clothing to administer urgently needed aid, is reported to have said, “This bitch ain’t no girl… it’s a nigger; he’s got a dick!” Hunter lay on the ground bleeding as Williams and the other EMTs joked around her, and died later that day of her injuries at a nearby hospital. A subsequent investigation into the events leading to her death concluded that it would very likely have been prevented had treatment been continued at the scene of the accident.15

In the fall of 2014, a grand jury in St. Louis County Missouri decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In the spring of 2015, the US Department of Justice also cleared Wilson of all civil rights violations, deeming the shooting to be an act of self-defense. In Wilson’s testimony in his grand jury hearing, he recounted looking at Brown in the moments before shooting him six times, and described him as having “the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”16

It’s hard to stomach these statements, but I write them here because I am noticing the ways that both of the speakers managed to transform the person they were about to kill from a human being to a thing in the moments before their deaths. By a probably less-than-conscious twist of verbal gymnastics, both killers shift from using a pronoun generally used to refer to people (he/she) to using a pronoun generally used to refer to inanimate things: it. If murder is the act of permanently dehumanizing another, then it is as if in order to give themselves permission to kill these two individuals Williams and Wilson had to preemptively transform them from people into things. “It’s a nigger…” “It looks like a demon…” Did these statements make it possible to turn a human being into a corpse? Maybe so, as a person turned nonconsensually into a thing is already a person dangerously close to death."



"In the 1966 slant step show, William Wiley, the artist who originally bought the step from the thrift store, made a metal casting from it that bore the following inscription: “This piece is dedicated to all the despised unknown, unloved, people, objects and ideas that just don’t make it and never will, who have so thoughtlessly given their time and talent to become objects of scorn but maintain an innocent ignorance and never realize that you hate them.”18 For Wiley, the slant step was both an intriguing object of ambiguous functionality, while also serving another purpose as the object of certain recuperations. To treat a discarded object with care, to focus on it, show it to others, make copies and homages to it—to, in a sense, treat it with love—had a value for him on its own account. A small act of treating an uncared-for thing with care as an articulation of an ethos for encountering one another. Frank Owen, one of Wiley’s friends and an original participant in the slant step show, used the step as a model in his life-drawing classes for decades—producing innumerable depictions of its likeness and encouraging his students to think deeply about it through the slow and close looking necessitated by drawing. “This was its job—to pose on a model stand patiently (which it is very good at) and be drawn while also posing its eternal question: What is this thing, what is it for and why do we attend to it?”19"



"In thinking about Mark and her succulents, I am wrapping myself around the sustaining potential of relations of care with non-human things. I wonder about the role that the cultivation, protection, and recuperation of things might play in the day-to-day processes of healing necessitated by living as a body that is objectified, misread, or unrecognized. Can attending to objects with care be a labor of self-sustenance for us as well? Can the things of our lives be our companions, our children, our comrades?24 What can we know or feel about our own bodies through the ways that we relate to objects? I want to propose the possibility that our relations with objects themselves might function as a means of remodeling our own often-fraught bonds with the materiality that is our own lived bodies. I sometimes joke that all I am doing in the studio is making friends. This joke is feeling more real by the day. I am thinking now about all the gorgeous non-traditionally gendered people I know coming back to their apartments exhausted from the daily labor of moving through the world and carefully watering their plants."
objects  kinship  objectkinship  care  caring  reality  perception  senses  gordonhall  gender  seeing  sculpture  art  artists  2016  functionality  corinhewitt  brucenauman  williamwiley  1960s  slow  slowreading  howweread  reading  knowing  howwelearn  noticing  observation  identification  bodies  naming  notknowing  meaning  meaningmaking  frankowen  ambiguity  mickybradford  race  markaguhar  michaelbrown  williamwitherup  mrionwintersteen  chancesdances  tyrahunter  northcarolina  housebill2  body 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Mystery of Carl Miller : Longreads Blog
[Great story. I've quoted here without spoiling, I think.]

"What if your last name is just the word that comes after your first name?"



"My father is so much like his mother—easygoing, pleasant to be around, completely satisfied by mild comforts and routines, modest, measured. He was a superintendent of schools for thirty years and people were often mad at him, but he was rarely mad at them. One day a woman, a total stranger, called the house and screamed at him for ten minutes. He eventually cut her off, and before he hung up, he said “Thank you for calling.” Then he came into the living room and turned on the Celtics. “People tend to get very emotional about their children,” he observed, leaning back in his rocking chair and pouring ¾ of a bottle of Molson Ale into a glass. He gave the rest to my brother and me to split."



"When I was little any time I had to fill in a family tree or talk about my grandparents I actually named my grandfather as Carl Miller and said that we didn’t know who or where he was. Since there was absolutely nothing else exciting about me I treasured this aspect of my identity. Whenever it came up I would pray to myself that they would ask me more.

“Your dad doesn’t know where his father is?”

“No.”

“Isn’t that weird?”

“I guess.”

“Has your dad ever even met him?”

“No.”

“Does he care?”

This was perhaps the best part of it all. After my grandmother died we asked my dad if he wanted to find his father. “I don’t know,” he said. “Not really.”

We asked him a million more times and a million times he seemed uninterested. As a kid with two parents I lived with and who were married and who I saw every single day, I was both astonished and impressed that my father didn’t care who his father was. Our Carl Miller conversations were free of anguish—if anything, Carl Miller was a sort of family joke. We had a long driveway people liked to use for turning around, and once in a while, if a random car paused in front of the house my brother or I might say “Maybe it’s Carl Miller,” and one of my parents might respond, “Tell him we don’t have any money.” My mother might look out the window and say, “Nope. Too ugly.”"



"I don’t mean to suggest that my father never looked for his father because my grandmother was so perfect. It’s just that she was the sort of person who was all right with what was in front of her, and my father absorbed this. In order to want to meet his father my father would have had to have some moment where he paused to think about what was missing from his life, and I don’t think my father strings together a lot of those moments. To pursue this mystery, he would have really had to believe that finding out who his father was would make an impact on his day-to-day life, or would make him, somehow, a better husband, father, school superintendent, lawn mower, fish-catcher, tidier-of-sheds, head-shaking-watcher of PBS NewsHour. He keeps long lists on yellow legal pads, and while “write NW letter re: CM” made it onto that list once, it seems that “Find out who my father is” never did.

* * *

I suppose this could sound like some paean to my father, and I don’t really mean it to be. I have very mixed, often pleasant, but decidedly unworshipful feelings about my parents. I like them best when I feel a sort of indifference. Not to them as people, not to our relationship, but to the fact that we’re related. Yes they are the people who conceived me, yes my mother gave birth to me, but they are also just the people who happened to do this. We are matter that came very close to each other in orbit. Some might think it’s kind of cold to look at your parents like this. I think it’s cold that everyone walks around with the conceit that their family is special. Imagine a world where we did not all think that those closest to us were the most worthy of attention or pardon or praise. “I’m so proud of my family,” people are always saying, and I guess that’s not a bad thing, but what if you were proud of the people who lived across the street from you? What if you were proud of every resident of your town, what if I was proud of the homeless people who manage to put together their camps and set up their coolers and stoves in the woods behind my house?

When I was a teenager I told my father I felt distant from everyone in my family. “It’s not that I don’t love you,” I said. “I just don’t feel like I’m a part of things, but I also don’t mind.”

“I think that’s ok,” he said. “I think more people feel that way than care to admit it.” The fact that he didn’t say it hurt his feelings is one of the most loving gestures anyone has ever made on my behalf."



"I have heard exactly one story about my grandmother’s parenting of my father: When he was in first grade, he got in trouble for writing with his left hand. My grandmother went to the school and told his teacher never to say a word to my father about which hand he wrote with ever again.

I never saw a moment of sentimentality between my grandmother and my father and little explicit affection. They loved each other, but they had something that is even bigger than love. It was as if each of them were both the breather and the air. I have never been around a parent and a child who had less tension between them. The last name Miller says nothing about me, but if pressed I would say I appreciate the way it evokes a beautiful neutrality, and the way it reminds me that all of us could so easily have been someone else."
via:ayjay  names  naming  ancestry  2016  families  sarahmiller  love  relationships  parenting  indifference 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why Are the Scientists Who Classify Life So Mean to Their Dead?
"The open nature of the science of classification virtually guarantees fights."



"Taxonomy, the art and science of classifying life, really should be a civilized pursuit. It encourages solitude, concentration, care. It rewards a meticulous attention to detail. And while it might occasionally receive some good-natured ribbing from the popular culture—think of all those butterfly collectors stumbling around in Far Side cartoons—it continues to play a vital role at the foundations of modern biology.

It can come as a bit of a surprise, then, when that veneer of civilization cracks, and the field reveals itself to be one of the more contentious arenas in science, a place where arguments over names and classifications rage through the literature for decades. This is both a strength, as challenges to current classification keep the field dynamic and relevant, and an expression of its hardwired vulnerabilities."



"More than twenty years too late for his scientific reputation, and after having done an amount of injury to entomology almost inconceivable in its immensity, Francis Walker has passed from among us.”

Walker’s two-page obituary, in the November 1874 issue of the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, sits between a short research note (“Emmelesia unifasciata three years in the pupa state”) and some words on the passing of William Lello (“He leaves a considerable collection of Lepidoptera ...”). Written anonymously, it pulled no punches when it came to the late taxonomist’s legacy: The vast majority of the tens of thousands of new species he proposed were “objects of derision for all conscientious entomologists.” More than once, the obituarist referred to Walker’s work simply as the “evil.”

And yet, the man’s career had begun with promise. His first work, a well-regarded study of the tiny wasps known as chalcidids, had “marked an era in the study of its subject.” Despite considerable inherited wealth, he longed for a permanent position at one of Britain’s major collections. When that position failed to materialize, Walker, “in an unlucky moment,” instead took up the first in a long series of contract appointments cataloging insects for the British Museum.

This is where the trouble began. Moving from drawer to drawer through the collection, Walker took it upon himself to describe what he believed to be thousands of new species in virtually all major groups of insects, a task requiring skills far beyond what he, or anyone else, possessed. “The result,” the obituarist wrote, “was what might have been expected. The work was done mechanically: ‘new genera and species’ were erected in the most reckless manner ...” Through a Rafinesquean combination of industry and incompetence, the humble Englishman had begun to single-handedly wreak havoc on the classification of the world’s insects.

As Walker published more and more dubious names, in wider and wider groups, the entomological establishment grew ever louder in its condemnation. By the time he had exhausted most of the major insect orders, his once considerable “entomological reputation [had been] worn to shreds.” Walker, however, “appeared to be utterly indifferent to anything that could be hurled at him ... In his social relations he was amiability itself ...” When he died, at 65, the entomological community mourned the gentle soul who had walked the halls of the British Museum, but also let out a collective sigh of relief. “We earnestly hope,” the obituarist added, “that never again will it fall to us, nor to our successors in entomological journalism, to have to write such an obituary notice as this.”

But Walker’s name wouldn’t be the last to live in taxonomic infamy. In fact, his obituary seems downright tactful beside Claude Morley’s note, from 1913, on the death of Peter Cameron, an infamous describer of Central American insects.

“Peter Cameron is dead, as was announced by most of the halfpenny papers on December 4th. What can we say of his life? Nothing; for it concerns us in no way. What shall we say of his work? Much, for it is entirely ours, and will go down to posterity as probably the most prolific and chaotic output of any individual for many years past.”

Cameron, a Scottish amateur with a penchant for Central American insects, left a legacy that echoed for decades. Fifty years after his death, Richard Bohart, a taxonomist at the University of California Davis, would reiterate that the entomologist’s “work was careless, his descriptions poor, his locality data were often vague or omitted, his generic assignments were characteristically erroneous and contradictory, and he eschewed illustrations.” Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, Bohart wound up with the thankless task of sorting through Cameron’s North American contributions to a small group of wasps known as the Odynerini. Of the hundred or so names Cameron proposed within the group, almost all, Bohart found, were invalid.

Meanwhile, modern taxonomy has its own outliers. In 2006, over 50 scientists signed an open letter to the administration of the University of Utrecht protesting the work of one Dewanand Makhan, an amateur entomologist who frequently listed the university as his institutional affiliation. (Makhan was a contract employee at the university’s herbarium, and not a member of the academic staff; his publications now list a personal address.)

“For many years,” they wrote, “Dr. Makhan has been a growing threat to taxonomy and zoological nomenclature, publishing a large number of new genera and species in groups as wide ranging as beetles, spiders, and gastropods. These publications are uniformly poor in quality and scholarship.” A group of ant experts put it more bluntly: A 2007 publication by Makhan, they wrote, was “one of the most inadequate papers that has ever been produced in ant taxonomy.”

Makhan’s descriptions are notoriously short on detail. In place of clear scientific diagrams, he illustrates much of his work with blurry, out-of-focus photographs. Most frustrating to fellow entomologists, many of Makhan’s “new” species are instantly recognizable, at least to them, as already described insects. Despite numerous articles and blog posts on the so-called “Makhan problem,” new publications continue to appear, most in a small Australian journal without a traditional peer-review process. (As recently as last year, Makhan described a new species of waterbeetle, Desmopachria barackobamai—named, of course, for the 44th president of the United States.)


The story is a familiar one, but with a modern twist. That’s because the growth of so-called “vanity journals”—publications that look to all appearances like mainstream scientific outlets, but lack rigorous peer-review—has produced new avenues for what some have taken to calling “taxonomic vandalism.” As traditional boundaries between experts and amateurs dissolve in the face of digital publishing, more opportunities than ever exist for novel voices in science, journalism, and politics. Unfortunately, these opportunities come at a cost, as a growing tide of information challenges the discriminatory abilities of scientists and lay readers alike.

While discussions underway now could revise the Codes to include stricter controls on which publications count for classificatory changes, many taxonomists are wary of doing anything that might deter amateur contributions. With so many species left to discover, and with existential threats to biodiversity looming, they realize the field needs as much help as it can get.

In the struggle to balance its highest ideals with its unruliest practicioners, taxonomy teaches us an enduring lesson about science as a whole. While we like to think of that enterprise as an antidote to fallibility—a way of seeing that seeks, through meticulous care and relentless examination, to minimize our tendency toward error—it remains fundamentally, inescapably human. Somewhere in between is where real progress happens."
science  taxonomy  anselpayne  biology  2016  biodiversity  franciswalker  entomology  williamlello  claudemorley  petercameron  richardbohart  dewanandmakhan  amateurs  fallability  humans  zoology  constantinerafinesque  asagray  classification  taxonomists  iczn  naming  names  nomenclature  edmerrill 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The 5, the 101, the 405: Why Southern Californians Love Saying 'the' Before Freeway Numbers | LA as Subject | SoCal Focus | KCET
"Southern Californians have a distinctive -- "Saturday Night Live's" Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig might say funny -- way of giving directions. To get from Santa Monica to Hollywood, take the 10 to the 110 to the 101. Burbank to San Diego? The 134 to the 5. And, if you can, always avoid the 405.

Why the definite articles? After all, a resident of the Bay Area enjoys coastal drives along "101" or takes "80 east" to Sacramento. Most of North America, in fact, omits the "the" before route numbers.

The answer begins with the region's early embrace of the freeway. Long before the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 gave most U.S. cities their first freeways, Los Angeles had built several. These weren't simply extensions of federal interstate highways through the city; they were local routes, engineered to carry local traffic and (partly) paid for by local funds. It only made sense that, as they opened one by one, they'd get local names, ones that succinctly denoted their route or destination. The freeway through the Cahuenga Pass thus became the Cahuenga Pass Freeway, and Angelenos knew the freeway to San Bernardino as the San Bernardino Freeway.

State highway officials did affix route numbers to these freeways. But clarity dictated that Southern Californians continue to use their descriptive names. In their early years, most Los Angeles-area freeways bore signs for multiple numbered highway routes. The Pasadena Freeway, for example, was Route 6, 66, and 99, all at once. The Harbor Freeway carried both Route 6 and Route 11. The Hollywood, Route 66 and 101. Who wouldn't prefer the simplicity of a name over a confusing array of numbers?

Soon a shorthand emerged for describing a route through the city. Joan Didion captured this Southern California vernacular in "Play It As It Lays" (1970), in which Maria "drove the San Diego to the Harbor, the Harbor up to the Hollywood, the Hollywood to the Golden State, the Santa Monica, the Santa Ana, the Pasadena, the Ventura."

How, then, did that morph into "the 405 to the 110, the 110 up to the 101, the 101 to the 5, the 10, the 5, the 110, the 134"?

Two developments convinced Southern Californians to refer to freeways by number rather than name. In 1964, the state simplified its highway numbering system, ensuring that, with few exceptions, each freeway would bear only one route number. Around the same time, a flurry of new construction added unfamiliar freeway names to the region's road maps. Drivers found it easier to learn new numbers like the 605 or the 91 rather than new names like the San Gabriel River Freeway or the Redondo Beach Freeway.

Although the transition was gradual -- numbers only eclipsed names in common usage in the late 1970s, and Caltrans still included the old names in signage through the 1990s -- Southern Californians eventually joined the rest of North America in referring to freeways by number. But when they did, they retained their old habit of prefixing a definite article, the, giving rise to a regional idiom that still confounds and amuses outsiders today."
socal  freeways  losangeles  sandiego  language  history  transportation  cars  names  naming  roads 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Outis - Wikipedia
"Outis (transliteration of Ancient Greek Οὖτις, in capitals ΟΥΤΙΣ, from οὔτις "nobody" or "no one")[1] is an often used pseudonym. Artists, writers and others in public life use this pseudonym in order to hide their identity."
names  naming  pseudonyms  identity  writing 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Names We Choose - YouTube
[References:

http://thenearsightedmonkey.tumblr.com/post/126110997224/dear-students-soon-we-will-begin-our-time

"Dear Students,

Soon we will begin our time together.

Before we meet, I’d like you to do a few things…

For our first class you’ll need to bring

1 roll of scotch tape
I like clear and shiny kind better than the ‘invisible’ tape but either will work

1 black Papermate Flair pen,
medium point

1 box of 24 Crayola Crayons
no less and no more than 24!

1 three ring binder
medium size (1.5 inch spine)

100 plastic sheet protectors
get the clearest ones they have, and get medium or heavy weight, not economy, load them into your three ring binder.

You will also need…

One dozen black papermate flair pens, medium point, PA8430152

One dozen Uniball Vision Stick Roller Ball Pens, Fine Point, Black ink #60126

Note: Get the one with the gray body. Fine point, not ‘micro point’ and Vision Stick not ‘Vision Elite’ –

All your other supplies will be included with your art kit. Your lab fee for the kit is $80.00. Payable with Wisc Card or by check to Art Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison. You’ll need to pay your lab fee in the art office. It’s right up the hall from our classroom.

BOOKS YOU WILL NEED

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice
Ivan Brunetti
Yale University Press 2011
ISBN 9780300170993

Whatcha Mean, Whats a Zine?
Esther Pearl Watson and Mark Todd
Graphia 2006
ISBN 10:0618563156

CHARACTER NAMES:

In my class, we all go by different names, names of characters we chose for ourselves and we use them for the entire semester. You are free to tell each other your real names, of course, but in class we will use the name you’ve chosen. You can pick a character that exists in the image world – like Medusa or Chef Boyardee or Shrek. Or yu can pick a ‘character’ that exists in the real world —like Sophocles or Beyonce or Ruth Bader Ginsberg or you can choose a character that is an ‘entity’ of some sort, like NASA or Super One Foods, or Iceland or The Ramones. You can choose a character of any gender, from any point in time, any genre. Think of a name you’d like to hear said out loud over the semester. For example, I love wookies, so one semester I was Professor Chewbacca and I was so happy when anyone said my name. In our class, I’ll be Professor SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)

You’ll keep your name for the whole semester and then your name will be retired. You can use it again, but no other student will be able to use it.

Please let me know what character name you’ve chosen for your self before August 24th.

Finally, I’ve kept this tumblr page for my students for the last four of five years. You can go though the archives and see what sort of work students have done, what the assignments are like, and what sort of extra credit options there are for you do do.

I am very much looking forward to hearing from you about your choice of character name very soon! Don’t over-think it.
Professor SETI"
names  naming  internet  lyndabarry  identity  supplylists  teaching  classideas  education  cartooning 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Greetings from a Ghost Town | Technoccult
"My friends who write newsletters tend to start them off by noting where they are. A coffee shop or a train or park bench. I don’t usually do that because I’m pretty much always writing from my desk in my home office since the only coffee shop within a mile of my house is a Starbucks in a shopping center. And because writing with my laptop in my lap, instead of on a table or desk, gives me shoulder pain for days afterword, which limits the amount of writing I can do on the go.

Warren Ellis, on the other hand, has taken to introducing his writings with variations on the phrase “Greetings from out here on the Thames Delta” when he’s writing from home.

“‘Out here on the Thames Delta” is starting to sound like my ‘Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, my hometown,'” he wrote in one newsletter. More recently he’s noted that the term is sort of a joke. But I like the idea of a personal codename for the place I live. I’m putting down roots here, and since I work from home and don’t get out much, I spend the vast majority of my time here.

But where is “here,” exactly? The obvious answer would my neighborhood: Park Rose Heights. But not only does that sound like a retirement community, but it also seems a bit too narrow. Parkrose Heights is just a few square miles of houses, apartment buildings, and, yes, retirement communities. What makes it a unique place are the areas that surround it, the context the neighborhood exists within.

Parkrose Heights is part of, or adjacent to, an area of town known as Gateway. “The Gateway area” is actually where I tell people I live, because no one has heard of Parkrose Heights. But that feels like it’s missing some context too. The gateway to what, exactly?

Well, it’s the gateway to East Portland, but this requires some explanation since when many people hear the term “East Porltand” they think it means all of Portland east of the Willamette River. And indeed, there was once a township on the east side called “East Portland,” back before it and the town of Albina merged with the City of Portland.

But today the name East Portland is used to refer to the parts of Portland east of 82nd Ave., which was the border of the city until the East Portland neighborhoods were annexed in the mid-80s.

But the name “East Portland” isn’t just confusing. Inner Portland actually feels like a port town. The name of the city is descriptive. Out here in East Portland, which looks nothing like the city you see in Portlandia, it feels like a misnomer.

So what about a more geographic name, like “Thames Delta” that describes the physical landscape? I live on the Columbia Ridge. Just south of the Columbia River, just east of Rocky Butte, a couple hours by car west of Celilo Falls, the site of what was, until 1957, the longest continually inhabited settlement in North America. Ah, now that’s a place.

And “Columbia Ridge” has a double meaning. It was the name of a proposed city that would have been composed of the then unincorporated neighborhoods east of 82nd Ave., as well as the closer-in Cully neighborhood, before they were all subsumed by Portland.

Columbia Ridge is a ghost town. Not in the sense of being an abandoned city inhabited by ghosts. Rather, the city itself is a ghost, a specter haunting the minds of the people living within its hypothetical borders even today.

Hello there from the Columbia Ridge."
names  naming  place  warrenellis  klintfinley  location  2015  context 
june 2015 by robertogreco
A Map to the Next World by Joy Harjo : The Poetry Foundation
"In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map for
those who would climb through the hole in the sky.

My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged
from the killing fields, from the bedrooms and the kitchens.

For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.

The map must be of sand and can’t be read by ordinary light. It
must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.

In the legend are instructions on the language of the land, how it
was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.

Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the
altars of money. They best describe the detour from grace.

Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; the fog steals our
children while we sleep.

Flowers of rage spring up in the depression. Monsters are born
there of nuclear anger.

Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to
disappear.

We no longer know the names of the birds here, how to speak to
them by their personal names.

Once we knew everything in this lush promise.

What I am telling you is real and is printed in a warning on the
map. Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us, leav-
ing a trail of paper diapers, needles, and wasted blood.

An imperfect map will have to do, little one.

The place of entry is the sea of your mother’s blood, your father’s
small death as he longs to know himself in another.

There is no exit.

The map can be interpreted through the wall of the intestine—a
spiral on the road of knowledge.

You will travel through the membrane of death, smell cooking
from the encampment where our relatives make a feast of fresh
deer meat and corn soup, in the Milky Way.

They have never left us; we abandoned them for science.

And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world
there will be no X, no guidebook with words you can carry.

You will have to navigate by your mother’s voice, renew the song
she is singing.

Fresh courage glimmers from planets.

And lights the map printed with the blood of history, a map you
will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.

When you emerge note the tracks of the monster slayers where they
entered the cities of artificial light and killed what was killing us.

You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder.

A white deer will greet you when the last human climbs from the
destruction.

Remember the hole of shame marking the act of abandoning our
tribal grounds.

We were never perfect.

Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth who was
once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.

We might make them again, she said.

Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.

You must make your own map."
via:anne  poems  poetry  joyharlo  maps  mapping  humans  wandering  wanderers  language  nature  multispecies  names  naming  communication  forgetting  forgetfulness  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  posthumanism 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Our Bleak Exile of Nature - NYTimes.com
"Nowadays nature tables are not welcome in schools. They are deemed dirty, perhaps dangerous, and potentially illegal. Teachers are busy with core curriculum duties and few classrooms have space for decorated bowers. This is sad enough in itself, but the loss of the nature table is also a sign of a wider trend with bleaker implications. There is not a square inch of wilderness left in the British Isles: The human stamp is everywhere. Worse still, the scattered and depleted remains of the natural world are increasingly regarded as out of bounds. Nature is now thought special, mostly rare and vulnerable, and in need of both expert care and professional explanation. Contact with the world’s hard matter, a fistful of bluebells, the ecstatic joining into a common sense that Thoreau enthused about in his “Ktaadn” essay, is no longer a human right. We — the transcendentalist-explorer-child in all of us — must keep our hands off.

There is evidence that we are already doing so. A new edition of a children’s dictionary defines a “BlackBerry” as a smartphone but doesn’t have room for an entry on the hedgerow fruit. Catkin and bluebell are dismissed as well. Their exclusion marks a double loss or severance: We are denaturing our language as well as shrinking our world. The plants get rarer as our land-grabbing grows daily more egregious. At the same time they are being exiled from our minds, disappearing from our imaginations and our understanding.

But if we are no longer permitted to touch, what chances are there that anything will be felt? Without the names and the knowledge what is there to save or to mourn? To rewrite the song lyrics: You have to know what you’ve had in order to know what you’ve lost. Because there were no people around at the time of the dinosaurs to describe the animals in words, we have inherited only scientific names applied posthumously to fossil eggs and bones. There were no Maori to call them moa, no Dutch sailors to talk of dodos. Dinosaurs, in consequence, are doing time locked in their Latin binomials. Taking the bluebell out of the dictionary might have the same effect 50 springs from now. So might banning children from making the hands-on discovery that picked blooms will wilt whatever you do to them."



"I was grateful for the close-up view of a new species, but I already knew there were other pathways to avian thrills. Too many people today are led to believe that nature happens only in nature reserves, in special places where we might be shown its specialness. The banned nature table and the managed infrastructure of protected areas (the hides, the walkways, the interpretation boards) are part of the same anxious nervousness at the root of this thinking: a worry as to what nature means, how vulnerable it is, who should be in charge of it, and how we — apparently its worst enemy — might possibly live alongside it."



"The reserve has released something unexpectedly metaphysical onto the fen: an inadvertent description of our profound separation from a place, a terminal version of pastoral, the darkest arcadia, an idea of life after us and life without us.

I could put it another way. And on sunnier days, on and off the fen, I do. Let the water flow back, but let us be allowed to step into it as well, as we surely have and must for it all to mean anything. Let us and our children put our fingers into the world and raise nature tables inside and out. Only so long as we can make contact with the remaining quasi-wild places and only so long as the names we have given them and their inhabitants carry on being operative, might we continue to be able to “lie down in the word-hoard” as Seamus Heaney put it in his poem “North.”

Then we might shelter in words and find fellowship with nature by making a home in the land alongside its non-human inhabitants. A place becomes meaningful when we can identify it as a cultural landscape — when its intrinsic truth and the meaning we have endowed it with might meet. “The land has been humanized, through and through,” wrote D.H. Lawrence of rural Italy, as he might of almost anywhere today, “and we in our own tissued consciousness bear the results of this humanization.” Coleridge expressed the same thought but differently when walking the Lake District in June 1801. He found “a Hollow place in a Rock like a Coffin — a Sycamore Bush at the head, enough to give a shadow for my Face, & just at the Foot one tall Foxglove — exactly my own Length — there I lay & slept — It was quite soft.”"
timdee  2015  nature  society  touch  schools  education  language  vocabulary  names  naming  children  multispecies  denaturing 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Internet Of Things And Things. | MORNING, COMPUTER
"The term “Internet Of Things” is a desperate attempt to make a pointer for a field that barely exists yet.  We do this a lot these days.  We use the word “television” to point at a field of industry that doesn’t particularly use television sets anymore.  We use the word “telephone” for a class of mobile devices that we very rarely use telephonically anymore.  And we act like the term “Internet Of Things” makes sense for the field we’re trying to define.  And, unless the modern internet was originally biological in nature, it was always an internet of things.  I always got my internet out of boxes of various kinds.  Didn’t you?  If you think Internet of Things is a good name, did you previously obtain your connection through whalesong or echolocation?  Did you pour Soylent on your Internet Lobe to get online?  Did you send your packets by raven? It’s always been an internet of things, and those people have never been any good at naming stuff, and that’s how we ended up with “tweets.”"
warrenellis  internetofthings  iot  2015  television  telephones  internet  language  naming  classification 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Knowing is Not Naming by Xiaowei Wang | recaps
"We never spoke about the end of empires, but when it happened, we had not seen each other for years. Somehow it escaped our taxonomy of the world, in between the causally symmetric balances and the notes you kept in the cabinet of a northeast institution, in a town with any latitude and longitude. Like our speech to each other, you defied my intuition, kept order and categories until rationale was exhausted.

It happened first on your end of the world, when you gave a night’s walk and noticed the trees full of luminaries. You said to me over the phone how it began on Mott St., an intersection with waning gingkos and brick clad buildings. You thought they were off season holiday lights; decorations for no one’s party.

You knew no one better to call, so it was the first time I heard your voice in years. I was alone in an apartment without furniture, body pressed against the floor, monitoring tiny earthquakes against the house’s wood frame as you hurriedly conspired with me about the emergence of these little creatures: Lux meridiani.

The aftershock of your voice arrived when I could count time in non-linear cycles again. Measurements and miles, the ratio of one encoded word to another were forgotten. I built systems of knowledge with others, in gardens and warehouses, gallery walls and sheets. The small radio you gifted me playing Brigitte Fontaine no longer held sound or gravity.It was those insects that arrived first in your port. Our classification scheme made during my aftershock became a world itself, a procedure that was defined after it had happened. It was a fidelity of information that could only ascribe the certainty of persistent learning, a final becoming of what one so deeply desired. A difficulty in routine.

I saw you weeks later on the TV screen at the deli, on a show filled with gleaming smiles, taut faces and perpetual ticker. You looked tired, thin, with less hair and more gravitas. The reporter asked your opinion on the plight that was at full rage in all known urban areas of North America. My eyes were ready for the invasion in sunny California, where endless summer and relentless beauty overwhelmed my walks and daily reckonings.

New York was first hit the hardest – a glowing light in all street trees on darkened winter days to evenings: persistent radiance. I imagined you from the confines of a light drenched “day”, tracing cartographic vectors of botanical disease, examining shipping container seals, in entomology departments echoing with rubber soled shoes and wool, practicing progressive devotion at the altar of naming.

I wrote all that I could follow, sending you messy notes on maps, telling you it was the geography of will that could only manifest such an insect plague. An alienation of latitude, a degree of material difference in fate that marked us unable to comprehend emergence any more than the life of the pharoah ant or the dragonfly. We exhausted our reserves of trade, wrote: it would be enough to accept defeat from this false economy into the next period of unnamed exchange.

It was my last letter to you that allowed me to forget our geographies and Linnaean schemes. You had stopped replying and I had found the perpetual light of evenings past, a blanket to sleep in periods of short duration. What did time or hours mean anymore, when I had forgotten dusk as a category and day as a known escape?

We awaited your team’s verdict, exactly where Lux meridiani appeared or evolved from, and which numbered crate from a precise longitude or latitude it arose. My neighbors went on with their hours. There were no more lights inside houses, only black curtains drawn tightly. Pundits and scientists enjoyed showing satellite images of the world at “night”, composited into one gleaming beacon where every pixel of continent was white. Days of rain were welcomed as relief to our thirst for some darkness, some contrast in quiet.

A year later, without any results, conclusions or reports with modest covers, you disappeared with all your notes and books. It was then I recalled clearly the first time you looked at me, lips curled asking if I only tolerated bad news.

It was this bad news that made our fiction: The first time you kissed me next to the sundial, during the autumn when sundials still signified movement. A roccoco frame, gold, 4cm in width and height, shaded behind a velvet cloche. Olfactory dislocation, the ancient image of darkened alleys where mystery might have kept itself, a time when engines of recoding were somewhere between ecology and industry, and the rustle of plastic and tinny coos of zippers. A time when projections of desires still existed in the last coordinate of black. The melancholy of pleasure: placed between lines of parameters, poetry and disaster.

“Knowing is not naming”

This workshop/teach-in will focus on the notion of the Anthropocene and the underpinnings of environmental change as a geographical issue, generated by the tension between classification, remote sensing and ground truthing.

Through specific case studies of “natural disasters”, we will look at the systems of land use classification and how ideology is embedded in these ways of categorizing and ordering nature. Beginning with the earliest botanical gardens as a method to classify novel fauna from imperial conquest to the technologic determinism that continues to imbue indices of urbanization and human extents, we will understand hierarchies created by floristic maps more deeply and develop new ways to reconfigure some of the most embedded categories we have towards land use.

Lux meridiani accompanies this workshop as a cartographic fiction built on existing data. By playing with thresholds in the geographical data and reorienting certain land use classifications, Lux meridiani takes the continuous exchange of invasive insects through global trade to imagine the emergence of a new, unknown species that infests street trees in urban areas with relentless luminescence. In this fable, Lux meridiani explicitly states what has been happening all along; that the recoding of our environment has been an economic rather than ecological engine all along."
xiaoweiwang  art  taxonomy  names  naming  cartography  luxmeridiani  anthropocene  2015  landuse  categorization  classification  nature  geography  insects  environment 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Registering and naming your baby | nidirect
"What you need to register a birth
You will need to provide the following to register a birth:

- a birth registration form filled in by the person registering the birth (usually the mother)
- full name of the baby - you can register your child's name in any language - providing you use any unicode character
- sex and date of birth of the baby
- district and place of birth of the baby
- full names and dates of birth of parents
- full addresses and occupations of the parents
- Registration of a birth - form GRO 4 (PDF 23 KB)
- Help with PDF files"
unicode  birth  names  naming  northernireland  identity  language 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Why Your Family Name Did Not Come From a Mistake at Ellis Island | Mental Floss
"When my great-grandfather Yuroslav Hieronymous O’Kagan vaan de Schulevitzberg arrived at Ellis Island in 1909 he didn’t speak much English. He was 17 and hoping to make his fortune quickly and bring the rest of his family over from the old country. He knew he would be asked a number of questions at arrival about his occupation, his health status, his living arrangements, etc., and he was prepared. As he approached the immigration officer, the first American he had ever met, the answers tumbled out in a nervous jumble, “Work factory! No coff-coff! Tooths very good! Go to Chicago! Buy house! Big house!”

The officer shook his head, laughed, and asked, “Name?”

Thinking the officer was mocking his presumptuous housing plan, he replied, “OK. OK … rent.” And that’s how we became the Okrent family.

This story is not true. Most stories of this kind are not true. Because, as Philip Sutton of the New York Public Library explains, the inspectors at Ellis Island “did not create records of immigration; rather they checked the names of the people moving through Ellis Island against those recorded in the ship’s passenger list, or manifest.” No names were changed at Ellis Island, because no names were taken at Ellis Island.

It is also highly unlikely that such comically inept communication would have ever taken place at Ellis Island. According to this article at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Ellis Island immigrant inspectors all “spoke an average of three languages. They were assigned to inspect immigrant groups based on the languages they spoke. If the inspector could not communicate, Ellis Island employed a full-time army of interpreters and would call in temporary interpreters under contract to translate for immigrants speaking the most obscure tongues.”

So how did Jensen become Johnson, Koenigsberger become Kingsley, Mlodzianowski become Murphy, and so on? In some cases, names were entered incorrectly on the passenger list when travelers bought their tickets abroad. For example, a Portuguese named Teixeira, leaving from a French port, might have been entered as Techera. These types of mistakes were in fact sometimes corrected by Ellis Island inspectors (by lightly marking corrections, at the request of the passenger, above the name written in the manifest).

In other cases, immigrants were given alternate names by neighbors, bosses, co-workers, or teachers who couldn’t pronounce the originals. Those alternate names were then adopted by the immigrants when they submitted their applications for naturalization. Though the idea for the new name might have come from someone else, the name did not become official unless the immigrant chose to make it official when becoming a citizen.

The name you used when you applied for your naturalization papers did not have to match the manifest at Ellis Island. Names were adjusted, sometimes slightly, in order to fit new surroundings, and sometimes drastically, in order to fit new identities. My name, which was Okręt in the old country, was changed to Okrent to get as close as possible to the intended pronunciation (the ę is a nasalized e in Polish). Official name changes did not come about through haphazard errors, but because immigrants deliberately chose them. Chalk it up to the urge to assimilate, the drive for self-reinvention, or the excitement of using a freedom they hadn’t had before, but don’t blame it on the hardworking, multilingual clerks at Ellis Island."
history  arikaokrent  ellisisland  immigration  us  spelling  names  naming  2015  myths  ins  surnames 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Want To Learn About Game Design? Go To Ikea - ReadWrite
"The path is constantly curving to keep you enticed."

[also posted at: http://killscreendaily.com/articles/game-design-ikea/
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKCDJ89ODyM ]

"IKEA’s reach extends beyond simple economic heft. In Lauren Collins’ epic 2011 New Yorker profile of the company, she casts the IKEA vision as something that extends beyond pure commerce. “The invisible designer of domestic life, it not only reflects but also molds, in its ubiquity, our routines and our attitudes.” Our IKEA, ourselves, as it were.

But to become that successful requires a unique understanding of the consumer mindset and there are certainly many explanations for why this might be. I wanted to introduce something else. Intentionally or not, IKEA embodies some of the best values of good games. I’m not saying that IKEA is a game, per se, but it exhibits many game-like characteristics.

So how?

DESIGNING A GOOD MAZE …

BUILD A STORY WORLD THROUGH DETAILS …

"Because Ikea's founder is dyslexic, the company built a whole taxonomy for products to help him remember. Furniture is Swedish place names, chairs are men’s names, and children’s items are mammals and birds. (Lars Petrus’ Ikea dictionary reads like a key to reading Ulysses in this respect.)

The act of naming an object is an incredibly powerful key to immersion that games use all the time. Think about the names of the drones in BioShock or inventory descriptions in Dark Souls. Each of these games uses unique in-game language to build a convincing story world and keep you there.

For Ikea, they want you to identify with a place, in this case the Swedish concept of “folkhemmet,” a social democratic term coined by the Social Democratic Party leader Per Albin Hansson in 1928, that means “the people’s home.” And this identity is bolstered through numerous elements that want to capture a full-bodied Swedish identity, despite the global presence of the store. The colors are the Swedish national flag; the store sells traditional Swedish foods; the children’s play room is called Smaland as a nod to the founder’s hometown and so on.

As Ursula Lindqvist, an associate professor of Scandinavian studies at Adolphus Gustavus, writes, “The Ikea store is a space of acculturation, a living archive in which values and traits identified as distinctively Swedish are communicated to consumers worldwide through its Nordic-identified product lines, organized walking routes, and nationalistic narrative.”

But the language plays the largest part Ikea builds their retail universe, the same way that Borderlands doesn’t just call a pistol a pistol. It’s a Lacerator or The Dove or the Chiquito Amigo or Athena’s Wisdom. Ikea doesn't just sell you a coffee table; it sells you a Lack or a Lillbron or a Lovbaken.

As writers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn said of their Significant Objects project, “It turns out that once you start increasing the emotional energy of inanimate objects, an unpredictable chain reaction is set off.""

ALLOW SHOPPERS TO CREATE THEIR OWN MEANING …

THE VALUE IS THAT YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF …

"But the value is that you have to do it yourself, which makes it more meaningful. Researchers found this is at the heart of “the Ikea effect” which suggests that people will value mass-produced items as much as artisan wares … if only they build them piece by frustrating piece. In their 2012 paper, “The Ikea Effect: When Labor Leads to Love,” Michael Norton and his team explain that the reason people love Ikea is a form of “effort justification.” You’ve put so much time into building Lack shelves that it has to be valuable."

DEVELOP UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCES

This is something we take for granted in games, but think about if you couldn’t play Tetris if you didn’t speak Russian or Super Mario Galaxy if you didn’t speak Japanese. Games are their own language and can be played by anyone, regardless of the nationality, location or background.

IKEA has a similar idea about decorating your home. They call it “democratic design.” As founder Ingvar Kamprad wrote, “Why do the most famous designers always fail to reach the majority of people with their ideas?” So IKEA tries to takes its designs to everyone in the world and designs products that ostensibly could fit in any living room from Shanghai to Berlin or Los Angeles.

This has obviously been a source of critique. Bill Moggridge, the director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, calls IKEA’s aesthetic “global functional minimalism.” He says “it’s modernist, and it’s very neutral in order to avoid local preferences.” IKEA flattens the experience of every home by selling the same furniture which, of course, benefits the company but also benefits the mission of the paradoxical non-profit that technically owns IKEA and is somehow dedicated to furthering the advancement of architecture and interior design.

Regardless, that impulse for world domination has a pleasant by-product in that creates a common design language for people around the world. It’s the same type of experience that Jenova Chen wanted to make in Journey. Chen argued to me that the language we use is a facade and that games like Journey can be played by anyone. One could argue is the same desire to explains the lack of words on IKEA’s instructions."
ikea  gamedesign  2014  games  gaming  jaminwarren  jenovachen  journey  design  videogames  effortjustification  dyslexia  names  naming  flow  objects  economics  effort  language  constructivism  construction  mastery  difficulty  ingvarkamprad  culture  acculturation  robwalker  joshuaglenn  billmoggridge  homoludens  significantobjects  ursulalindqvist  adolphusgustavus  universality  global  meaningmaking  michaelnorton 
december 2014 by robertogreco
How Culture Shapes Our Senses - NYTimes.com
"FLORENCE, Italy — WE think of our senses as hard-wired gateways to the world. Many years ago the social psychologist Daryl J. Bem described the knowledge we gain from our senses as “zero-order beliefs,” so taken for granted that we do not even notice them as beliefs. The sky is blue. The fan hums. Ice is cold. That’s the nature of reality, and it seems peculiar that different people with their senses intact would experience it subjectively.

Yet they do. In recent years anthropologists have begun to point out that sensory perception is culturally specific. “Sensory perception,” Constance Classen, the author of “The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch,” says, “is a cultural as well as physical act.” It’s a controversial claim made famous by Marshall McLuhan’s insistence that nonliterate societies were governed by spoken words and sound, while literate societies experienced words visually and so were dominated by sight. Few anthropologists would accept that straightforwardly today. But more and more are willing to argue that sensory perception is as much about the cultural training of attention as it is about biological capacity.

Now they have some quantitative evidence to support the point. Recently, a team of anthropologists and psychologists at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University, both in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, set out to discover how language and culture affected sensory awareness. Under the leadership of Asifa Majid and Stephen C. Levinson, they made up a kit of systematic stimuli for the traditional five senses: for sight, color chips and geometric forms; for hearing, pitch, amplitude and rhythm variations; for smell, a set of scratch-and-sniff cards; and so forth. They took these kits to over 20 cultural groups around the world. Their results upend some of our basic assumptions.

For example, it’s fairly common, in scientific literature, to find the view that “humans are astonishingly bad at odor identification and naming,” as a recent review of 30 years of experiments concluded. When ordinary people are presented with the smell of ordinary substances (coffee, peanut butter, chocolate), they correctly identify about half of them. That’s why we think of scent as a trigger for personal memory — leading to the recall of something specific, particular, uniquely our own.

It turns out that the subjects of those 30 years of experiments were mostly English-speaking. Indeed, English speakers find it easy to identify the common color in milk and jasmine flowers (“white”) but not the common scent in, say, bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. When the research team presented what should have been familiar scents to Americans — cinnamon, turpentine, lemon, rose and so forth — they were terrible at naming them. Americans, they wrote, said things like this when presented with the cinnamon scratch-and-sniff card: “I don’t know how to say that, sweet, yeah; I have tasted that gum like Big Red or something tastes like, what do I want to say? I can’t get the word. Jesus it’s like that gum smell like something like Big Red. Can I say that? O.K. Big Red, Big Red gum.”

When the research team visited the Jahai, rain-forest foragers on the Malay Peninsula, they found that the Jahai were succinct and more accurate with the scratch-and-sniff cards. In fact, they were about as good at naming what they smelled as what they saw. They do, in fact, have an abstract term for the shared odor in bat droppings and the leaf of ginger root. Abstract odor terms are common among people on the Malay Peninsula.

The team also found that several communities — speakers of Persian, Turkish and Zapotec — used different metaphors than English and Dutch speakers to describe pitch, or frequency: Sounds were thin or thick rather than high or low. In later work, they demonstrated that the metaphors were powerful enough to disrupt perception. When Dutch speakers heard a tone while being shown a mismatched height bar (e.g., a high tone and a low bar) and were asked to sing the tone, they sang a lower tone. But the perception wasn’t influenced when they were shown a thin or thick bar. When Persian speakers heard a tone and were shown a bar of mismatched thickness, however, they misremembered the tone — but not when they were shown a bar mismatched for height.

The team also found that some of these differences could change over time. They taught the Dutch speakers to think about pitch as thin or thick, and soon these participants, too, found that their memory of a tone was affected by being shown a bar that was too thick or too thin. They found that younger Cantonese speakers had fewer words for tastes and smells than older ones, a shift attributed to rapid socioeconomic development and Western-style schooling.

I wrote this in Florence, Italy, a city famous as a feast for the senses. People say that Florence teaches you to see differently — that as the soft light moves across the ocher buildings, you see colors you never noticed before.

It taught Kevin Systrom, a co-founder of Instagram, to see differently. He attributes his inspiration to a photography class he took in Florence while at a Stanford study-abroad program about a decade ago. His teacher took away his state-of-the-art camera and insisted he use an old plastic one instead, to change the way he saw. He loved those photos, the vintage feel of them, and the way the buildings looked in the light. He set out to recreate that look in the app he built. And that has changed the way many of us now see as well."
senses  taste  smell  olfaction  touch  sight  seeing  noticing  language  languages  culture  darylbem  tmluhrmann  constanceclassen  wcydwt  glvo  slow  marshallmcluhan  anthropology  psychology  perception  sense  asifamajid  stephenlevinson  sound  hearing  tone  pitch  rhythm  color  comparison  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  literacies  literacy  identification  naming  kevinsystrom 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Arbitrary Names / Fake is the new real
"A twitter account that contains a stream of fictional, but likely names. Built using a list of name distributions provided by the US Census, these names function as a regular reminder of the millions of strangers that we will never meet, as a preemptive memorial. The software used to build generate the names is available as open source."
names  naming  bots  twitter  random  namegenerator  python  neilfreeman  2014 
july 2014 by robertogreco
How three marketers would sell Canada’s brand - The Globe and Mail
"The federal government will soon be asking for input on the best way to market Canadian goods. Included in this week’s budget was a new project designed to enhance “consumer awareness of Canadian-made products.” Canada will be following the lead of other countries, such as Australia, which have used their national brand to compete in export markets. The idea: “Branding products ‘Made in Canada’ is a potentially powerful tool to encourage consumers – both in Canada and internationally – to choose such products.”

So, how do you sell consumers both here and abroad with “made in Canada” marketing? We asked some Canadian experts to weigh in on how to design our national brand.

No maple, moose, or mounties
“[It] needs to avoid the stereotypical Canadian 3Ms – Maple, moose and mounties. The deeper story can be found within what Canada represents in the global community. Canada is increasingly well-regarded around the world. This is about adding a premium component to the product. We should drop the apologetic, unassuming Canadian voice and tell a story of progress through fresh and modern visual language.” – Vito Piazza, president and partner at Sid Lee Toronto

Forget the logo, send a message
“It’s interesting to see everything that comes up [in a quick Google search, for example] that you can do visually with the Made in Canada concept. … I think it would be wiser to tend towards a state of mind, more than a simple logo. More of a way of thinking and buying. A logo doesn’t change anything if the brand’s promise is not understood. I would tend more towards something in the lines of Think Canada – more than a logo, it should be a motto that would accompany the products. Something to inspire people to get to know the products, to understand the history and then to buy Canadian.” – Claude Auchu, partner, vice-president and creative director of design at Montreal agency lg2.

Don’t get stuck with one image
“One of the things I would argue for, if I had the ear of the government, would be to make the Canadian brand, as expressed through this platform, really dynamic. The brand should feel forward-looking. One of the things you see on these types of projects – the Australia one and the U.S. counterpart – they’re fairly uninspired. They tend to fall back on historic or nationalistic themes or colour palettes, as opposed to 21st-century themes. I would use this brand initiative as a platform to showcase all the really innovative things that are happening here, as opposed to having a really static design. So there’s not a single logo of the Made in Canada brand, but a kind of system of logos. It should have unified messaging of course, but one way to express dynamic institutions is to use variability or difference within how the visual identity is expressed, as opposed to a stamp “Made in Canada.” If we’re talking about it being the same thing on a rail car and learning software being used in leading universities, that forces the question: Does the same branding apply to both things? You may be talking to different audiences. You want flexibility.” – Hunter Tura, president and chief executive officer of Bruce Mau Design in Toronto."
canada  marketing  logos  bmd  huntertura  claudeauchu  vitopiazza  identity  branding  names  naming  design  madeincanada  2014 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Ben Pieratt, Blog - A 3-step process for naming a project/product. (And some resources)
"Naming a project is always an awful experience.

An earworm that won’t stop tapping your skull from the inside. A tenacious pop jingle with teeth and a paycheck.

As a freelance designer, I do a fair amount of this for clients. Generally, my process has been a garble of notes and trips to thesaurus.com, but lately I’ve noticed a fairly simple pattern emerging, a 3-step framework for cutting through the fog.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3-Step Process
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Step 1.
Identify the feeling you want the brand to convey. A great brand communicates on an emotional wavelength, so make that feeling your bedrock.

One way to identify what feeling you’re pursuing is by figuring out what you’re not. A great brand is defined as much by what it is as by what it is not. So if you’re entering a certain market that is a certain way, identify that point of frustration and invert it. For instance, if your market is confusing, you could pursue ‘Relaxed’, or ‘Lucid’.

Step 2.
Embody that feeling in a list of persons, places, things or phrases (etc) that communicate viscerally. For instance:
Relaxed = a picnic
Exclusive = Studio 54
Cool = Paul Newman

Step 3. Final
Identify a detail that represents the [embodiment] of [your feeling] in a non obvious but compelling way.
Relaxed = a picnic = Sunny Nap™
Exclusive = Studio 54 = Velvet™
Cool = Paul Newman = Ben Quick™ (a character he played)

Repeat.
New insights gained from the process should help you get a better handle on the unique feeling or value your brand has to offer.

Ideally,
the name should have a ‘special wrongness’* to it. An unforgettable newness. A new shape. 1+1=3. If your name lacks this, the product itself may have a hard time differentiating itself in whatever market you’re entering. Why are you different than your competitors? That difference should be reflected in the brain jam your name causes in its audience.

*”Special Wrongness” is a term I’ve stolen and adopted from Peter Mendelsund from this amazing interview: http://portersquarebooksblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/interview-with-peter-mendelsund.html "
branding  names  naming  benpieratt  glvo  projectideas  howto  design  creativity 
february 2014 by robertogreco
A Friend Visits my Slotin Notes - Just Wrought
"And just like that, Thia Stephan Hyde was making plans to  pay my notes a visit.  All that day she updated me with emails and pictures  from her time with my darlings. At the end of it she sent me the following lovely email, which she has graciously allowed me post. Reading it felt like an injection of light straight into my worn-out artist’s heart."



"There is a sub-genre of theatre people who are absolute full-on theatre geeks. We are the ones who revel not only in the delight and the accolades of the performances themselves, but who glory in the research that leads up to the live show. Theatre geeks don’t think of it as “homework”, theatre geeks actually get off on endless hours of dramaturgy, historical research and literary cross-referencing, and GO off on intellectual tangents that may not have any direct correlation with any actual decision put into the work of rehearsal or performance. . . though I insist that you never, ever know what tiny tidbit of historical backstory or arcane research may lead to a tiny choice that lifts a performance from serviceable to inspired.

Anyway, when playwright Paul Mullin mentioned on Face Book that he wondered if someone in New York might have a chance to go visit some materials he had loaned to the Library for the Performing Arts here in town, I was an instantly enthusiastic volunteer! (and I am already registered as a researcher at said library, because – why? I am a theatre geek. You got it.)"



"About 25 minutes later, the boxes arrived, very officially delivered on a cart, signed out from the page who brought them to the librarian, and then signed out again from him to me. I was told to turn in my pen, as only pencils are allowed at the desks, and was told that yes, I could take photos of the material. But I could only have one box at a time, and could only remove one folder at a time from each box. Where to start, where to start? I guessed that “Box 1” was the earliest of the papers (Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding!!), and I started with the “generative notes” folder, which was fascinating. Truly, from just a few scribbled words on a few pages (the very first said: “The relationship of horror and happiness”) through longer philosophical paragraphs and charts of dramatis personae and timelines through feedback from early draft read-throughs, I got to see the “birth” of a play."



"And SO much more. Honestly, I found almost every scribble compelling.

Moving on to other folders, I found out:

That Paul’s own father had been a physicist. (I never knew this.)

That a fellow named Thomas Keenan who was associated with Los Alamos after the fact thought the play contained a “disturbing amount of non-pertinent philosophy and mental meandering”. (Paul pointed out that of course THAT is of what a play consists. . . Hamlet, for example)

That a CD was being rushed to “Anzide’s”, which tickled me because I adore Jim Anzide, and got to work with him in a Circle X production of a play written by another favorite of mine, Tom Jacobson.

That Louis Slotin was not covered by insurance and that the US Government haggled and dragged its heels over compensating his family and returning his belongings to them. And that though they didn’t want to do so at first, eventually the government decided that it would be good to give sick leave pay to the other scientists for the days they had been hospitalized, as it had “been determined advisable in order to ensure confidence on the part of employees . . . who may perform similar operations or experiments in the future.” Sigh.

That I had forgotten how we all used to live by the FAX machine! The faxes, the faxes, the piles of FAXES!"
via:vruba  libraries  research  names  naming  references  paulmullin  thiastephenhyde  2013  writing  science  theater  metadata  meta  geeks  theatergeeks  intertextuality  howwework  howwelearn  facebook  fandom  losalamos  notes  notetaking  time  memory 
january 2014 by robertogreco
To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees | Grand Strategy: The View from Oregon
"“To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.” This is a quote frequently attributed to Paul Valéry, and the line has a quality that is at once both searching and poetic, making the attribution reasonable. I don’t know if Valéry actually said it (I can’t find the source of the quote), but I think of this line every once in a while: my mind returns to it as to an object of fascination. A good aphorism is perennially pregnant with meaning, and always repays further meditation.

If seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees, and mutatis mutandis for the aesthetic experiences that follow from the other senses — e.g., to taste is to forget the name of thing one tastes, and so forth — we may take the idea further and insist that it is the forgetting of not only the name but of all the linguistic (i.e., formal) accretions, all categorizations, and all predications, that enables us to experience the thing in itself (to employ a Kantian locution). What we are describing is the pursuit of prepredicative experience after the fact (to employ a Husserlian locution).

This is nothing other than the familiar theme of seeking a pure aesthetic experience unmediated by the intellect, undistracted by conceptualization, unmarred by thought — seeing without thinking the seen. In view of this, can we take the further step, beyond the generalization of naming, extending the conceit to all linguistic formalizations, so that we arrive at a pure aesthesis of thought? Can we say that to think is to forget the name of the thing one thinks?

The pure aesthesis of thought, to feel a thought as one feels an experience of the senses, would be thought unmediated by the conventions of naming, categories, predication, and all the familiar machinery of the intellect, i.e., thought unmediated by the accretions of consciousness. It would be thought without all that we usually think of as being thought. Is such thought even possible? Is this, perhaps, unconscious thought? Is Freud the proper model for a pure aesthesis of thought? Possible or not, conscious or not, Freudian or not, the pursuit of such thought would constitute an effort of thought that must enlarge our intellectual imagination, and the enlargement of our imagination is ultimately the enlargement of our world.

Wittgenstein famously wrote that the limits of my language are the limits of my world (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 5.6 — this is another wonderful aphorism that always repays further meditation). But the limits of language can be extended; we can systematically seek to transcend the limits of our language and thus the limits of our world, or we can augment our language and thus augment our world. Russell, Wittgenstein’s mentor and one-time collaborator, rather than focusing on limits of the self, developed an ethic of impersonal self-enlargement, i.e., the transgression of limits. In the last chapter of his The Problems of Philosophy Russell wrote:
All acquisition of knowledge is an enlargement of the Self, but this enlargement is best attained when it is not directly sought. It is obtained when the desire for knowledge is alone operative, by a study which does not wish in advance that its objects should have this or that character, but adapts the Self to the characters which it finds in its objects. This enlargement of Self is not obtained when, taking the Self as it is, we try to show that the world is so similar to this Self that knowledge of it is possible without any admission of what seems alien. The desire to prove this is a form of self-assertion and, like all self-assertion, it is an obstacle to the growth of Self which it desires, and of which the Self knows that it is capable. Self-assertion, in philosophic speculation as elsewhere, views the world as a means to its own ends; thus it makes the world of less account than Self, and the Self sets bounds to the greatness of its goods. In contemplation, on the contrary, we start from the not-Self, and through its greatness the boundaries of Self are enlarged; through the infinity of the universe the mind which contemplates it achieves some share in infinity.

The obvious extension of this conception of impersonal self-enlargement to an ethics of thought enjoins the self-enlargement of the intellect, the transgression of the limits of the intellect. It is the exercise of imagination that enlarges the intellect, and a great many human failures that we put to failures of understanding and cognition are in fact failures of imagination.

The moral obligation of self-enlargement is a duty of intellectual self-transgression. As Nietzsche put it: “A very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions!”"

[Came here today because https://twitter.com/rogre/status/403632186944790528 + https://twitter.com/rogre/status/403632476154626048 + https://twitter.com/rogre/status/403636512656334848
thus the tagging with Robert Irwin, Lawrence Weschler, and Clarice Lispector]
paulvaléry  wittgenstein  thought  language  aphorism  mind  memory  senses  familiarization  robertirwin  lawrenceweschler  naming  categorization  predication  freud  bertrandrussell  self  philosophy  claricelispector  knowledge  knowledgeacquisition  self-enlargement  nietzsche  brasil  brazil  literature 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Raising E and Yo... | Psychology Today
"A sociologist reconsiders his kids' outrageous names--and mines the data for clues to the consequences."

"Every so often a bolt of panic strikes me when I consider what my wife and I named our children. Our daughter has the shortest name on record: E. Our son, meanwhile, reportedly has the longest in New York City: Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles (sung to the tune of "John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmitt"). The original intent of "E" was that she could decide what it stood for. She was born about two months early, and we almost called her Early. We also liked a number of other "E" names. So we decided to punt on the whole issue and give her control. (Little did we know the world was about to enter the electronic era: E-Trade, e-commerce, e-everything.) We figured when it came time to rebel against her parents, she'd choose something very traditional like Elizabeth, or perhaps my mother's name, Ellen. So far, at age 12, she is still E. …"

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/25/nyregion/a-boy-named-yo-etc-name-changes-both-practical-and-fanciful-are-on-the-rise.html?pagewanted=all ]

[Via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalton_Conley ]
nataliejeremijenko  daltonconley  2010  names  naming  parenting  psychology  sociology 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Artist Who Talks With the Fishes - NYTimes.com
"Jeremijenko suddenly jumped off the pier’s southernmost lip, landing on a weathered wooden walkway below. She withdrew the three coils of rope and used the box cutter to cut a roughly 20-foot length from each coil. She tied one end of each rope to a different pylon and cast the other end into the river. The ropes were made from both natural and artificial fibers. “It’s early in the mussel spawning season, so their spat is floating around everywhere; this is a little experiment to see which sorts of materials they’re drawn to,” Jeremijenko said. “My primary interest is in the mussels’ spectacular adaptability. That puts me in a different class from traditional conservationism. I’m interested in how organisms adapt to the Anthropocene” — the era of human activity on earth — “as opposed to the Sierra Club ‘conserve and preserve’ way of thinking.”"



"The daughter of a physician father and schoolteacher mother, Jeremijenko grew up in the coastal Australian city Brisbane, with nine siblings. An overachieving, Tenenbaum-ish brood, her brothers and sisters have worked as politicians, academics, coal miners, pilots, professional footballers and movie stuntmen. Natalie has collaborated on projects with several of them, and she integrates her creative activity with her personal life in other, more radical, ways — in a sly affront to “you can’t have it all,” she has delivered lectures while breast-feeding. “Experimenting with your own life is the most fundamental medium we have,” she told me.

Jeremijenko’s experimental streak extended to the naming of her kids. Her oldest daughter is Mister Jamba-Djang Vladimir Ulysses Hope (Jamba for short); her daughter with Conley is E (what “E” stands for is up to E, but so far she has decided to stick with the initial); and their son is Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles. “I had wanted to give our boy an ethnically ambiguous name to challenge assumptions about race and assimilation,” Conley wrote in a 2010 essay. “For all the Asian-American Howards out there, shouldn’t there be a light-haired, blue-eyed white kid named Yo Xing?”

For a spell, Jeremijenko got around, even indoors, on Rollerblades, which reflected her fascination with “alternate forms of urban mobility.” In her ideal metropolis, more people would commute by zip-line; in 2011, she and Haque installed a temporary system in downtown Toronto, which riders navigated with a large pair of wings, and she is now hoping to take it to the Bronx."



"She has the imagination of a think tank, the agenda of a nonprofit and the infrastructure of neither. In order to implement her ideas, she relies heavily on municipal programs, community organizations and the support of academic and art-world institutions. (At N.Y.U. she runs something called the Environmental Health Clinic, where anyone can make an appointment to discuss ways to remedy health hazards like airborne pollutants and storm-water runoff. She has had hundreds of meetings; one project turned cotton candy, a summer treat, into a more nutritious snack, using isomalt, a sugar substitute, edible flowers and high-protein bee pollen.)

But Jeremijenko has also begun experimenting with ideas for the free market, and one in particular seems ripe for some eco-minded venture capitalist to champion. She wants to encourage the production of water-buffalo-milk ice cream, which, in addition to being marvelously creamy, she says, would encourage the creation of much-needed wetlands, on which water buffalo graze. About a year ago, she says, she gave an informal presentation to representatives of Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry’s, where she flaunted her fluency in “the topography and runoff issues affecting Vermont farmers” and showed mock labels she designed for the delicacy. Next, she plans to approach the company’s marketing department, hoping to leverage “the image of Ben & Jerry’s as a progressive, socially conscious brand,” she said."
nataliejeremijenko  2013  art  science  anthropocene  socialpracticeart  environment  environmentalism  sierraclub  progressivism  funding  health  conservation  conservationism  ethnicity  names  naming  life  living  glvo  howwelive  creativity 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Surprising Psychology of How Names Shape Our Thoughts : The New Yorker
"These studies suggest a sort of linguistic Heisenberg principle: as soon as you label a concept, you change how people perceive it. It’s difficult to imagine a truly neutral label, because words evoke images (as do maluma and takete), are associated with other concepts (as are “north” with up and “south” with down), and vary in complexity (from KAR to RDO). Still, you don’t need to worry too much about what you name your children. The effects are subtle, people with non-fluent names succeed all the time, and norms change."
names  naming  language  2013  linguistics  sound  directions  perception  simonlaham  peterkoval  danieloppenheimer  adamalter  christianmorgenstern  words  wolfgangköhler  bentleycoffey  patrickmclaughlin  leifnelson  josephsimmons  psychology  maps  mapping  direction  elizabethloftus  johnpalmer 
june 2013 by robertogreco
you are here
"you are here is an experimental service to let people record opinions about where a place is and to publish those opinions as a free and open dataset. you are here is sort of like "geo-corrections as a service"."

"Now that you've got a latitude and longitude the website will fetch all of the places of a particular type that intersect that point. The current list of place types to choose from are: neighbourhoods, localities, aerotropolii, timezones. You can jump up and down the hierarchy of place types until you find something sounds right and then associate that spot on the planet with a unique Where on Earth (WOE) identifier for that place."
aaronstraupcope  geolocation  internet  maps  neighborhoods  cities  mapping  crowdsourcing  names  naming  placenames  geography  local 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - Lichen names
"Yesterday I happened across that Eames promotion for the SX-70 for the first time. It reminded me, among many things, of an old friend, now dead – Bob Rodieck.

My high school was my mother (a qualified teacher), our neighbor R., and me. One of the classes was to make a book on our island’s natural history. When we were planning it, we visited Bob on an extremely gray spring day to talk about desktop publishing, because he’d been talking about how he was writing a book himself. (I may have the timeline slightly wrong here. Please consider this an As I Remember It story.)

We explained what we wanted to do. Bob, who was a freshly emeritus professor, scratched his stubble and leaned forward, then leaned back. He asked if we knew the difference between vector and raster graphics. I started explaining how they’re actually fairly isomorphic, since pixels can be represented as squares and, conversely, control points are in a discrete space, and from then on we were friends. It was Bob who turned me on to Tufte, and I turned him on to Bringhurst.



The natural history book was a well chosen project. We interviewed a lot of the oldest and most eccentric people on the island. They had records, written or in memory, about when flowers used to bloom, where the clams used to live before they were depleted, how many eagles used to nest on the point, how the old Samish woman had treated leather, when the last puffin was seen, what time of year the beaver showed up, and so on. There was the mystery of the flying squirrel.

We got a lot of very guarded mushroom knowledge from Dorothy H., who was in her eighties and roughly three times as vigorous and alert as I was. It’s really hard to come by good mushroom knowledge, because the people careful enough to understand mushrooms tend to be careful about risking other people on possibly poisonous food. Dorothy played her cards close to her chest.



Bob eventually finished his book, which was called The First Steps in Seeing. It was very well received, but as far as I can tell never sold well – Amazon has only four reviews, though they’re all five-star. I think it’s because he wasn’t around to promote it. He’d told me this wonderful story about graphic design and experimental design once: He went to get a check-up. He was given a form to fill out that included dietary habits. He said that he was about to check “1 serving of green vegetables/day” when he noticed that the checkbox itself was red! He figured that, being of northern European stock, he was adapted to fewer greens, and checked the first box that wasn’t red, 3 servings, and called it good. Not long after finishing the book, he was diagnosed with gut cancer.

Towards the end, he was on the island resting when he started having an unusual type of trouble moving his eyes. He said it was clearly a certain potassium channel failing, and it was time to go back to Seattle and die.

I think that, had he been around to promote it and put out a second edition, his book would be a classic now. It’s in the details and how they’re subordinated to the big-picture view. He drew all the illustrations himself. He chose the spot colors. He thought very hard about what path through the material he could provide that would be easiest for the beginner but pass the best trailheads for those who went further. He threw a lot of textbook conventions out the window and never missed them. He gave a crap but didn’t give a fuck.

Dorothy’s reluctance to tell us which mushrooms we could eat drove us to the classic texts, David Arora’s books. We could use him as a lever on her – “Arora says …; is that really true?”. In other fields we found other guidebooks: Pojar & MacKinnon on plants, Love’s Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast.

If you don’t spend a lot of time with natural history guidebooks, you might not know that the best ones have voice – authorial voice. It’s necessary, I think, to make a book that’s basically a huge list of details interesting enough to pay attention to. And I suspect you’re unlikely to excell in mycology, botany, or marine biology unless you have a sense of perspective. If you are humorless, it’s a lot easier to be a businessperson than to spend three weeks in a tent, looking at little tufts of fungus–alga symbionts.

It’s the big picture and the little picture. It’s Philip Morrison’s speech at the end of that Polaroid film. It’s the SX-70 letting you be more inside experience, less concerned with problems of representation, in something more than a tree or a net. It’s an idea of technology that seems a little dangerous and very good to me. It reminds me of Twitter a little. Lately there I appreciated a map of surf conditions from Bob’s son, and reconnected with my fellow student R.’s cousin."
charlieloyd  highschool  projects  projectbasedlearning  pbl  naturalhistory  lichen  names  naming  2013  memory  learning  education  books  writing  teaching  sx-70  philipmorrison  polaroid  mushrooms  bobrodieck  unschooling  deschooling  sight  seeing  memories  imaging  photography  publishing  promotion  fun  play  words  wordplay  design  davidarora  trevorgoward  brucemccune  delmeidinger  science  interestedness  interestingness  interested 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The 2007 CBC Massey Lectures, "The City of Words" | Ideas with Paul Kennedy | CBC Radio
"The end of ethnic nationalism, building societies around sets of common values, seems like a good idea. But something is going wrong. In the 2007 Massey Lectures, writer Alberto Manguel takes a fresh look at some of the problems we face, and suggests we should look at what stories have to teach us about society.

"How do stories help us perceive ourselves and others?" he asks. "How can stories lend a whole society an identity...?"

From Gilgamesh to the Bible, from Don Quixote to The Fast Runner, Alberto Manguel explores how books and stories hold the secret keys to what binds us together."

Internationally acclaimed as an anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist, and editor, Alberto Manguel is the bestselling author of several award-winning books, including A Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A History of Reading."
imaginarycities  cities  reading  ulysses  jamesjoyce  kafka  jung  carljung  apollo  cassandra  meaningmaking  meaning  sensemaking  understanding  perception  imagination  therealworld  mapping  maps  theself  self  literature  fiction  reality  margaretatwood  plato  names  naming  language  words  rubendarío  socrates  aristotle  symbolism  symbols  thecityofwords  worlds  writing  borges  themaker  poetry  commonvalues  donquixote  gilgamesh  bible  history  society  storytelling  stories  cbc  masseylectures  2007  albertomanguel 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Flickr: Discussing Tagging it up ~ some suggestions for tagging your images. in FlickrCentral
"You can find some specifics examples of how people are using tags in the tagography thread.

a bunch of flickr users have made some suggestions for tags in this thread, and i've tried to compile a thorough a list as possible here, from those suggestions ~ feel free to pick and choose from this list as you see fit: …"
names  naming  subjects  genre  medium  folksonomy  tagography  2004  tags  tips  tagging  flickr 
july 2012 by robertogreco
my learning disability
“This learning story was excerpted from The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap (Longstreet Press, 1996).

---------------

All my life, I have had a hard time learning flower names. I would look at a flower and try and try, but the name simply wouldn't come. It was very frustrating.

Then one day I took a different approach: I started with a flower's name, and then tried to think of why the name fit the flower. It became a challenge, a little game I would play with myself. I actually became quite good at it.

I had turned a learning situation into a project to fit my individual interests and learning style.

Now I have no trouble with the names of most flowers. I have come to see flowers as a metaphor for the process of learning itself.”
learning  seymourpapert  flowers  learningdisabilities  workarounds  approach  metaphor  anotherway  howwelearn  names  naming  via:litherland 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Spanx.com - Sara's Whole Story
“I knew that Kodak and Coca-Cola were the two most recognized names in the world, and they both have a predominant ‘K’ sound in them. Also, from doing stand-up comedy, it is a known secret that the ‘K’ sound makes people laugh. So for good luck, I wanted my product's name to have the ‘K’ sound in it, and SPANKS hit me like a lightning bolt. I immediately knew it was perfect! At the last minute I changed the ‘KS’ to an ‘X’ after doing research that made-up words do better for products than real words (and are easier to trademark).”
language  business  naming  businessnames  names  kodak  coca-cola  trademark  pronunciation  attention  recognition  via:litherland 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Good Tools Have Verb-Based Interfaces | Smarterware
"Thinking it through, I realized this category-based naming convention just doesn't align with my basic mental construct of what software is. Organizing items by category makes sense in libraries and bookstores, on restaurant menus, in music and movies—but not apps. An app isn't consumable media. An app is a tool. It helps you perform an action, to do something. Modern programming languages and APIs are verb-based (think MyObject->setName() and and HTTP's GET and POST), and the user interface should be, too. That's when I settled on a verb-based folder system."
via:coldbrain  organization  2012  software  langauge  actions  verbs  naming  tools  ginatrapani  iphone  ios  names 
february 2012 by robertogreco
A razor’s edge
"Listen closely to the “lesson I want to get across” at 6:31…”There is no opting out of new media…it changes a society as a whole…media mediates relationships…whole structure of society can change…we are on a razor’s edge between hopeful possibilities & more ominous futures….”

At min 8:14 Wesch describes what we need people to “be” to make our networked mediated culture work, and the barriers we are facing in schools. Wesch is right on. Corporate curriculum, schedules, bells, borders, & “teaching/classroom management” are easily assisted by technology. Yet to open learning & deschool our ed system represents the hopeful possibilities Wesch imagines & has acted on. What we accept from industrial schooling, how we proceed in our educational endeavors, & what we do, facilitate, witness, & promote in our actions in education mean so much to learners of today & the interconnected & interdependent systems we are all a part of."

[Love…"anthropologists want…to be children again"]

[Video is also here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwyCAtyNYHw ]
michaelwesch  anthropology  children  perspective  perception  deschooling  unlearning  media  newmedia  papuanewguinea  thomassteele-maley  relationships  networkedlearning  networks  possibility  hope  education  unschooling  healing  justice  culture  unmediated  mediatedculture  ivanillich  criticaleducation  global  names  naming  learning  tcsnmy  lcproject  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  interdependence  society  changing  gamechanging  influence  mediation  hopefulness  future  openness  freedom  control  surveillance  power  transparency  deception  participatory  distraction  interconnected 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Project Names and Borges Numbers
"Reporters do this sort of thing every day. It's neat, but not amazing. But when the consultant had finished his meeting, he said to himself, "Well, Walnut's a tree, it's something to eat ... and it's an exchange in the San Jose telephone directory." And he asked the first friend he encountered on his way out, "Say, what's the current status on BUtterfield?" And by the time he left the plant he knew all about Project Butterfield too, and how far over budget it was, and why it would never work either.

Now, I'm not saying this story is true.. but it's one of my favorites.

(I have often thought that it would be useful to create a list of names, chosen such that knowing one name on the list provided the least possible information about the rest of the list. We would, of course, call such an enumeration "Borges numbers," after the numbering scheme described in J. L. Borges' story "Funes the Memorious.")"
borges  naming  history  information  ibm  1995  via:migurski  funesthememorius  projectnames  secrecy  security  tomvanvleck  names 
january 2011 by robertogreco
How Design Can Get Kids On the Path to Tech Careers | Co.Design
"whenever you say the word 'school,' it conjures up mental images & models of our experiences and behavior in a place -- & accompanying that 'place model' is a kaleidoscope of memories & emotions about how that place looked & worked -- how we felt in it, what was rewarded, celebrated & expected, & who we were supposed to be as learners in that place. Unfortunately, many of these mental models of how we should learn in school are completely at odds w/ how real learning happens & how it's demonstrated in the real world. False proxies for learning often erode our children's vibrant intellectual & creative potentials because they diminish the excitement of real learning & discovery. Everyone knows that finishing a course and a textbook does not mean achievement. Listening to a lecture does not mean understanding. Getting a high score on a high-stakes standardized test does not mean proficiency. Credentialing does not mean competency. Our children know it, too, yet it persists."
education  design  management  designthinking  learning  unschooling  discovery  deschooling  trungle  stephaniepacemarshall  imsa  illinois  chicago  science  math  gifted  talented  schools  schooldesign  credentials  credentialing  whatmatters  cv  ap  collaboration  teaching  challenge  interaction  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  problemsolving  criticalthinking  teacherasmasterlearner  teacherascollaborator  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  studentdirected  research  names  naming  language  words 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Caterina.net» Blog Archive » Children in the gulag
"Eugenia Ginzberg, who served eighteen years in the camps of Kolyma, wrote that when a camp of child prisoners was given two guard-dog puppies to raise the children at first could not think of anything to name them. The poverty of their surroundings had stripped their imaginations bare. Finally they chose names from common objects they saw every day. They named one puppy Ladle and the other Pail." —On the Prison Highway, Ian Frazier (New Yorker, August 30, 2010)
ianfrazier  gulag  children  imagination  experience  vocabulary  exposure  names  naming  pets  animals  dogs 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Lianablog - Your NPR Name [Don't forget Neda Ulaby.]
"Eric and I recently discovered a shared fascination with the slew of impossibly named NPR hosts we listen to every day: Renee Montagne, Steve Inskeep, Corey Flintoff, Korva Coleman, Kai Ryssdal, Dina Temple-Raston.

In fact, we’ve often wondered what it would be like to be one of them. A Nina Totenberg or a Renita Jablonski. A David Kestenbaum or a Lakshmi Singh. Even (on our most ambitious days) a Cherry Glaser or a Sylvia Poggioli.

So finally, after years of Fresh Air sign-off ambitions, we came up with a system for creating our own NPR Names. Here’s how it works: You take your middle initial and insert it somewhere into your first name. Then you add on the smallest foreign town you’ve ever visited.

So I’m Liarna Kassel. And Eric is Jeric Bath. I even have a new nickname for my little brother in Dylsan Rosarita."

[Referenced on NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2009/04/whats_your_npr_name.html ]

[Update 6 May 2013: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/why-do-npr-reporters-have-such-great-names/275493/ ]
humor  generator  names  npr  radio  games  classideas  naming  writing  namegenerators 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Where ‘America’ really came from - The Boston Globe
"The naming-of-America passage in “Introduction to Cosmography” is rich in precisely the sort of word play Ringmann loved. The key to the passage is the curious name Amerigen, which combines the name Amerigo with the Greek word gen, or “earth,” to create the meaning “land of Amerigo.” But the name yields other meanings. Gen can also mean “born,” and the word ameros can mean “new,” suggesting, as many Renaissance observers had begun to hope, that the land of Amerigo was a place where European civilization could go to be reborn — an idea, of course, that still resonates today. The name may also contain a play on meros, a Greek word sometimes translated as “place,” in which case Amerigen would become A-meri-gen, or “No-place-land”: not a bad way to describe a previously unnamed continent whose full extent was still uncertain."
names  naming  placenames  us  america  amerigovespucci  cartography  geography  history  gender  matthiasringmann  newworld  virgil  martinwaldseemüller  cosmography 
july 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Learning the Names of the World
"watching World Cup 2010...hoping we are slowly moving towards solving long-term pet peeve...Calling other nations by bizarre, antique, mis-names...works against international understanding...

Because, lets be clear, there is no nation which calls itself "Germany," or even "Italy." No "Allemagne" or "Angleterre." Not even a "Brazil" or a "Netherlands." For that matter, there are no cities named "Vienna," or "Rome," or "Londres," either.

All of these misspellings and mispronunciations are ancient hangovers of beliefs in limited language learning capability and in homeland superiority. We didn't want to struggle with learning names in different languages, and we didn't think it was important.

But we're all part of one big globe these days, like it or not, and it is time we started thinking it's important. Especially in schools."
english  geography  irasocol  classideas  language  languages  identity  naming  countries  cities  names 
july 2010 by robertogreco
greg.org: the making of: If You See Something, Say Something
"Do you find yourself wanting to talk about Group Zero, but the only names you can pronounce are Fontana and Klein [and Westwater]? Do you ever call galleries you're about to walk into, just to hear them say the artist's name? [I just asked at the desk, it's von HILE.]

You may be suffering from Gigli Syndrome, a condition where you avoid saying an artist or designer's name because you're not sure of the pronunciation. Bennifer can't cure all possible outbreaks of Gigli Syndrome, any more than Nomi Malone could inoculate us against the dangers of unknowing mispronunciation, Versace Syndrome.

After typing [well, cut-n-pasting] 0100101110101101.org yesterday morning, I realized a universal cure to either condition is impossible. ... [but]

... as a tribute to the young artist who once printed up business cards reading, "Ed-werd Rew-shay", here is a quick roundup of high-risk artworld names and their correct pronunciations by curators, interviewers, and even the artists themselves"
art  artists  humor  names  pronunciation  reference  words  naming 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Eccentric Candidate Makes Waves In Colombia : NPR
"In Colombia, an eccentric former Bogota mayor may win the presidency. Antanas Mockus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, is trying to succeed Alvaro Uribe, a U.S.-backed hard-liner who was prevented from running for a third term. However, Mockus, whose trademark is an Amish-style beard, is better known for his antics than his politics."

[Great story. Great name. More at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antanas_Mockus ]
2010  antanasmockus  greatnames  names  eccentricity  colombia  elections  sergiofajardo  naming 
may 2010 by robertogreco
tantramar: Name = Search Term
"He didn't give me the title or artist of the track, merely what he had typed into Limewire to get it!...I gave him a blank look & he smiled, shrugged his shoulders, & went back to the mix. But what intrigued me was the idea of a potential paradigm shift in naming. What if there were so many things w/ names, so many artists, musicians, books, years of people not researching their names properly that everyone started doubling up. Your name actually becomes your search term. It's happening now but picture this is 30 years time. It could messy trying to find things right? So maybe finding things through their search terms instead of their given name would become practical...There might be more than 1 Charlie Gower living in Stoke Newington. But I doubt there are many country music listening, folk art collecting over-weight wannabe surfers who like sign painting living in N16...Of course to fight back against this trend parents will start naming children after mid 2000s WIFI passwords."
identity  naming  names  search  searching  searchterms  via:russelldavies  glvo 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Noticed - College Applicants Hide Behind Facebook Aliases - NYTimes.com
"For high school students concerned with college acceptance, Facebook presents a challenge. It encourages making public every thought and every photo, an opportunity for posturing and bravado nearly irresistible to teenagers. But this impulse for display clashes with the need to appear circumspect and presentable to college admissions agents, who some high school guidance counselors have warned are likely vetting applicants by trolling the Web...

Occasionally, he said, clients report that in their encounters with college admissions agents, “things are known about them that could only be found on their Facebook page.”

Charlotte Kaye, who went to the Brearley School in Manhattan, did not take any chances. To avoid detection, Ms. Kaye, now a freshman at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, said she and others began changing their names on Facebook beginning in their junior year of high school."
facebook  identity  admissions  socialnetworking  names  online  privacy  education  internet  socialsoftware  colleges  universities  naming 
april 2010 by robertogreco
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