WORD LISTS

This Week In Culture: Current Events Vocab for September 12–18, 2020

September 16, 2020
Is there life on Venus? Is the inventor of the Rubik's Cube the richest man in Hungary? And will movie theaters survive the pandemic? Stories asking these questions and more contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the tech, sports, and culture worlds.
assuage
Cinemas are struggling, and industry watchers are predicting a tough fall as people avoid indoor spaces. A couple of would-be blockbusters that should have raked in millions did not do well, and studios are pushing back release dates into the fall, winter, and even next year in the hopes that audiences will change their minds or that some breakthrough in controlling the pandemic will allow safe watching in theaters.
The box office performance of Warner Bros.’ “Tenet,” the Christopher Nolan science-fiction epic that many exhibitors hoped would lure audiences back to cinemas during the coronavirus, has done little to assuage his anxiety.
Variety (Sep 16, 2020)
disingenuous
After a previous vote to suspend all sports due to the pandemic, the Big Ten announced that its football season would begin this fall. The statement said that extensive testing and other protocols would ensure safe conditions for players and staff. The earlier decision not to play caused a huge controversy. Someone ingenuous is honest, open, and frank, so the opposite of that is insincere, dishonest, and unfair.
Now the path out of their wilderness of incompetence and dissension is straightforward, just a bit disingenuous—everyone links arms and pretends they don’t hate each other.
Sports Illustrated (Sep 16, 2020)
lapse
For the first time in its 175-year history, Scientific American has endorsed a candidate for president. Citing what it describes as President Trump's mishandling of the pandemic, specifically his administration's repeated decisions to ignore scientific and medical experts, the magazine endorsed Joe Biden. Lapsus is Latin for "a slip" or "a fall."
These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country—particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population.
Scientific American (Sep 15, 2020)
memorabilia
Sotheby's auction house held its first-ever sale of hip-hop artifacts. The crown made famous in the Notorious B.I.G.'s 1997 "King of New York" photo shoot sold for nearly $600,000 — twice what was expected — and the auction pulled in over $2 million total. Some of the profits will go towards the Queens Public Library and the nonprofit Building Beats, which teaches young people music and business skills.
The unconventional collection, which included memorabilia from the Notorious B.I.G. and the Wu-Tang Clan, brought in $2 million and made Sotheby's the first major international auction house to dedicate an entire collection to the genre.
USA Today (Sep 16, 2020)
strategy
Naomi Osaka won the U.S. Open, her third major and second win in New York. She lost the first set against Victoria Azarenka badly, then rallied and won the next two sets decisively. For each round of the tournament, she wore a face mask with the name of a different Black person killed by police. Dominic Thiem won the Men's title.
Her strategy worked. After an hour and 53 minutes, she was crowned the champion and became the first woman since Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario in 1994 to win the US Open after dropping the first set.
ESPN (Sep 13, 2020)
subsidize
In a move to encourage consumers to download games, Microsoft and Sony are both offering digital-only consoles without disc players. These consoles are $100 less than the disc-playing models, and show that the industry is banking on subscriptions and downloads as the future of the business.
And both Sony and Microsoft are willing to subsidize the move to digital.
The Verge (Sep 17, 2020)
treatise
Erno Rubik, the Hungarian inventor of the cube that bears his name, has published a book. Titled Cubed, it recounts the story of his invention, how it changed his life, and the ways in which he is still learning from it. After becoming a massive craze in the early 1980s, the cube's popularity fizzled out, but then the Internet generation rediscovered it and now it's a global phenomenon.
“Cubed,” which comes out this week, is partly his memoir, partly an intellectual treatise and in large part a love story about his evolving relationship with the invention that bears his name and the global community of cubers fixated on it.
New York Times (Sep 16, 2020)
vexing
A previously unreleased Thelonious Monk concert from 1968 comes out this week. Monk was one of the most important architects of modern jazz, whose rhythmic and harmonic genius influenced generations of musicians. Few individuals have made as much of an impact on American music. Vexare is a Latin verb meaning "to agitate," "to damage," or "to harass."
“Palo Alto,” a new release of a previously unissued concert recording of Thelonious Monk and his quartet, from 1968, embodies some of the vexing paradoxes of his majestic artistry and his radically influential career.
New Yorker (Sep 16, 2020)
viable
Astronomers have identified a gas in Venus's atmosphere that might be the result of living organisms. The presence of phosphine, which is a byproduct of some bacteria on Earth that live in anaerobic (oxygen-free) environments, could indicate that Venus had microbial life at some point in its past — before the greenhouse effect heated its surface to nearly 900˚F — or that some form of bacteria currently live high in its atmosphere where temperatures are closer to 90˚.
Greaves said the researchers examined potential non-biological sources such as volcanism, meteorites, lightning and various types of chemical reactions, but none appeared viable.
Reuters (Sep 14, 2020)

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