WORD LISTS

This Week In Culture: August 8–14, 2020

August 13, 2020
Sports and movies start up again, some great writers get their due, and Broadway comes to television: these stories and more chipped in some choice vocabulary for this week's list of news from the culture beat.
coinage
Word nerds everywhere mourned the death of linguist Geoff Nunberg, who died at 75. Most famous for his longtime gig as a commentator on NPR's Fresh Air, he was also a dictionary editor, a researcher focused on linguistic technology, and a professor at U.C. Berkeley's School of Information. He wrote extensively, both books and articles. To coin a word is to use it for the fist time, making it real, much as a coin is stamped out of a blank piece of metal.
Over the years on our show, he talked about new slang words and coinages, and the ways in which pop culture, technology, the business world, and politics keep changing our language.
KPBS (Aug 13, 2020)
debilitating
The huge Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico suffered damage after a cable snapped and ripped a large hole in the dish. Photos show broken panels and cables strewn on the ground below a massive, jagged opening. Observations have been suspended until repairs can be made.
The outage may prove most debilitating for astronomers who use the observatory to detect near-Earth asteroids.
Atlantic (Aug 12, 2020)
irony
The Big Ten and Pac-12 canceled their seasons, and the rest of college football may do the same. There has been much discussion and controversy about these decisions, and this sarcastic essay plays off of that. In Ancient Greek, eironeia means "to pretend ignorance." From there it entered Latin, where it took on the meaning of "to say the opposite of what you mean," and that's its sense in English: when something turns out to be quite different than expected.
But I am devoted to my passion of being a bad person, and sometimes—I recognize the irony here—being a bad person means being unselfish.
Sports Illustrated (Aug 12, 2020)
plod
Hollywood is restarting production of some major movies in Europe, which has been able to reopen to a semi-normal state after successfully combating the spread of Covid-19. Jurassic World: Dominion is one such picture, and the strict protocols on set are serving as an example for other productions as they start up again. The Avatar sequels are shooting in New Zealand, which has reduced its case number to nearly zero.
Hollywood has been unable to restart production on its own soundstages in California because of surging infections in the state, plodding negotiations with unions over protocols and the time it takes to get test results.
New York Times (Aug 13, 2020)
pseudonym
The Victorian writer Mary Ann Evans, author of Middlemarch, wrote under the pen name George Eliot because at the time women had a difficult time being taken seriously as writers. The Women's Prize for Fiction recently announced that they will be republishing 25 such books — written by women originally under assumed names — using the authors' real names. The project is called "Reclaim Her Name" and will release the 25 novels as e-books that are free to download.
But for much of her life, and even today, she is better known by her male pseudonym, George Eliot, which she adopted to conceal her gender at a time when women were excluded from intellectual circles.
CNN (Aug 13, 2020)
reinstate
Apple kicked Fortnite out of its app store after Epic Games added an in-app payment system that avoids Apple's normal 30 percent fee on such transactions. Epic said that the move allows consumers to save money, since it lowered the price of everything to pass most of the savings on. Apple says that it hopes to "resolve these violations" of its rules.
It is unclear how updates to Fortnite will function — some users who have the game downloaded but have not opened it a while are reporting that update files are still; downloading normally — but it seems plausible Epic would have to get the game reinstated in the App Store to push substantial future changes to the iOS version.
The Verge (Aug 13, 2020)
strenuous
After a number of players, staff, and family members tested positive for Covid-19 at a tournament in the spring, professional tennis shut down for the season. Because it's a socially distant sport, though, tournaments began again with restrictions, regular testing, shortened schedules, and without any fans in the stands. Because there's no player's union or global governing body, there's a lot of confusion about who will play in each tournament and how the rules can be enforced.
Train enough to “keep the body good,” but nothing too strenuous.
New Yorker (Aug 13, 2020)
theologian
Black musicians and industry experts will hold a public Zoom discussion next week about race and racism in Americana and roots music. Although Black artists throughout the centuries played an enormous part in the development of many genres of music, country and Americana have few Black performers. The discussion will explore ways in which these and other sectors of the industry can become more inclusive.
Participating in the conversation will be the Nashville blues singer Adia Victoria, Muddy Roots Festival organizer Jason Galaz, singer-songwriter Kamara Thomas, artist and Louisiana Red Hot Records general manager Lilli Lewis, and musician-theologian-activist Rev. Sekou.
Rolling Stone (Aug 13, 2020)
whet
Diana, the Broadway musical about Princess Diana, is recording a live production for release on Netflix. The producers have agreed to safety protocols with the Actors' Equity Association, and have said that since the live show won't reopen until next May this is a great way for the show to go on. The show was in previews in March when the shutdown began, so this will be most people's introduction to it.
Data has indicated that instead of cannibalizing fans, broadcasts of theatrical shows actually may whet an audience's appetite.
Hollywood Reporter (Aug 12, 2020)
wring
A new documentary called Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn premiered on HBO. The film explores the months of unrest that occurred after Hawkins, a young Black man, was shot and killed by white men on the street in Brooklyn in 1989. By drawing comparisons between the past and the present, the movie explores the country's ongoing struggle with racism. Wring is Old English, originally referring to the process of juicing fruit to make wine or cider.
We've been watching that play out in recent years as the media industry wrings its hands over whether it's fair or correct to call the President a racist when he makes racist statements or enacts racist policies.
Salon (Aug 12, 2020)

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