Thursday, May 07, 2015

2461 Shigella Shake

The world of rock and roll offers up interesting takes on our language sometimes.  I was reminded of that the other day when I read of the emergence of a drug-resistant form of the bacteria that causes what’s erroneously called Montezuma's revenge.  Dude, ease up on Mexico, the disease is linked to traveling to foreign lands generally.  The bacterium is known scientifically by the name Shigella.

I'm not entirely sure how to pronounce it but Shih-GELL-ah seems right.  When you look at the way it's spelled, s-h-i-g-e-l-l-a-, it could easily be SHIH-guh-lah.  Which, you gotta admit, sounds like one of those Thousand Dances in the Land Wilson Pickett sang about.  Right up there with the watusi and the boogaloo. 

Not least because shigella causes various unpleasant symptoms, among them muscular cramps and spasms, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  So going to a foreign land and dancing the fox trots is not out of the question. 

I've also learned from Lorde, teen phenom from down under, that the pronunciation of a word can shift if you need it to.  And I can appreciate that.  Tone and meter sometimes require screwing up the actual language.

Lorde does it in the song Team to the word "reveled."  Which she pronounces rah-VELLed.  Unless she's talking about hair shampooing being the cause for celebration.  Then again, it’s quite possible Reh-VELL is how they say REH-vel down under in the billabong, Mite.  G'day.

The worst rock and roll word screw up I've ever heard is in the old Rod Stewart song, "I was only joking."  Perhaps he was, when he sang about his song being sung for "prosperity" instead of "posterity." 

He was right I suppose.  He did make money on the song. 

Even though you couldn't dance to it. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

2460 Oddible

Do big companies not understand how words connect to alternate meanings?  It's like when I was a kid. I seem to remember the Hostess company, who'd had such a success with its marshmallow spongy-frosting Sno-Ball cupcake, trying to introduce a new color.  They were doing so well with the pink Sno-Ball. It was such a bad idea to try to market the yellow Sno-Ball.

So it is with Amazon.  Not long ago I was attempting to buy something online.  And I was a little dismayed.  Because Amazon has certain default settings for options.  Those selection buttons like "add to my cart," and "check Prime and get it by Tuesday," and "New" and "Used."

The item I was buying was a personal product.  Let's say toilet paper.  Amazon still had the "Used" button as a choice.  Eewww.  I clicked it and there was nothing there, thank goodness.  They've since changed it.  But they still have the button that says "New."  At this point why not just say "Buy"?  Even bringing up New makes you think of the other option.

In the book section, there’s another problematic option.  Because lots of folks like audio books.  And Amazon now gives you two choices.

One choice is just a regular old audio book like you buy at any bookstore.  The other one is a special audio book produced by Amazon.  Unfortunately, the brand name they've chosen for their product is Audible.  Not audible like you can hear the brand name.  The name itself is Audible.  You see the confusion. 

"Yep, I'd like to order an audible audio book."  I should hope so.  If it's non-audible its not a very good audio book is it?

Maybe it's a football thing.  I think Peyton Manning bought the audible book Omaha Omaha. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

2459 Sweatphone

We've heard before that it's highly likely human sweat contains pheromones, those personal chemicals that convey varying degrees of sexiness.  It certainly makes sense, most animals, from bears to bees, exude some sort of scent that sucks in the opposite sex. Why not humans?  We gotta procreate too.  Survival of the species and all that.

Great pick-up line in an off campus bar, "Want to study Darwin?"

Scientists now say that human sweat does even more.  It can communicate whether you are happy or sad.  Researchers gathered a group of men, and carefully vetted them to make sure they didn't have any psychological disorders, weren't smokers, hadn't used alcohol nor engaged in sexual activity recently, consumed smelly food, or had a serious workout. 

You know, ordinary people.

They had the men wash their armpits and wedge an absorbent pad in them.  Then the men watched movies, some happy, some scary, some sad. 

The researchers recruited 36 women, also with the aforementioned prohibitions of behavior, to smell those sweaty pads.

Why the men did the emoting and the women did the sweat smelling wasn't discussed in the research paper.  Either because women are better smellers and men are more smelly, or because women always get the sucky jobs in the male-dominated scientific and tech world, that's the way it went.

In any event, researchers concluded that happy films watched by the men were detectable as happy pads when the women smelled them.  One woman actually said she smelled fried green tomatoes.  Fear and negative emotion were also detectable. 

My conclusions.  Dad was right.  Dogs really can smell fear on you.  And two, how can we harness this in a smartphone?  Sweat communication!  Forget texting.  We can have scented sweat emojis. 


America, ya gotta love it.