Word Buzz Wednesday: kompromat, tori-tetsu, smound

bacon

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: compromising material, Japanese trainspotting, food that sounds delicious.

kompromat

“‘The Kremlin does not have ‘kompromat’ on Trump.’ That was how Russia rejected claims that it has compromising personal and financial information about US President-elect Donald Trump.”

Bryony Jones and Eliza Mackintosh, “What is Kompromat?” CNN, January 12, 2017

Kompromat translates from Russian as “compromising material.” The practice of gathering kompromat, says CNN, “is a well-known tactic in Russia.” To understand it, says Igor Sutyagin, senior research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute, “you must first understand Russia’s political culture,” and that it’s  “standard for Russian politicians to gather kompromat on all members of their inner circle,” and even “a matter of survival.”

heckler’s veto

“Snyder, with the First Amendment Coalition, said that what happened at UC Davis on Friday may have been what’s called ‘the heckler’s veto.’”

Sammy Caiola, Hudson Sangree, Christopher Cadelago, “UC Davis embroiled in another free-speech controversy,” The Sacramento Bee, January 14, 2017

Heckler’s veto refers to “a controversial legal position taken by law enforcement officers based on an alleged right to restrict freedom of speech where such expression may create disorder or provoke violence.”

In this case, according to The Sacramento Bee, speeches by Milo Yiannopoulos, editor of the right-wing Breitbart News, and Martin Shkreli, best known for “raising the price of the lifesaving drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent,” were canceled due to the perceived danger from the 150 protesters who had gathered, although “no weapons of any kind were confiscated.”

wet foot, dry foot

“‘Wet foot, dry foot’ allowed only those Cubans who made it to U.S. soil to stay. Those caught at sea were to be turned away.”

Adrian Florido, “End Of ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Means Cubans Can Join Ranks Of Undocumented,” NPR, January 15, 2017

In 1995, President Bill Clinton put in place the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, a revision of “a more liberal immigration policy,” says ABC, which allowed “Cubans caught at sea trying to make their way to the United States … into the country” and “to become legal residents after a year.” This was because the U.S. didn’t want to “send people back to the communist island then run by Fidel Castro, and the Cuban government also generally refused to accept repatriated citizens.” The “wet foot, dry foot” policy only allowed those who actually made it to dry land to stay while those caught on water were turned away.

tori-tetsu

“Then there are tori-tetsu like Muneki Watanabe and Katsuhiko Orido, 43 and 49, respectively, who spend many of their weekends taking photos of various trains.”

Anna Fifield, “Japan’s trains are in a league of their own. Japan’s subculture of train fanatics is no different,” The Washington Post, January 6, 2017

Tori-tetsu are train hobbyists and translates from Japanese as “take train.” In addition to tori-tetsu, says The Washington Post, are nori-tetsu, those who enjoy traveling on trains; oto-tetsu, those who record train sounds; eki-tetsu, those into studying about stations; and our favorite, ekiben-tetsu, “aficionados of the exquisite bento lunchboxes sold at stations.”

smound

“What you hear can change the way your cells process odors. The noise in your environment or in your mouth can impact the scents you perceive. Some members of the media dubbed this connection ‘smound.’”

Molly Birnbaum, “Taste with Your Ears,” Cook’s Science, December 19, 2016

Smound is a blend of “smell” and “sound.” Daniel Wesson, a professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University, tells Cook’s Science that when “you’re eating food, you’re not just tasting.” You’re smelling, “feeling the texture,” and hearing the food, and that it all comes together “to give you the unique perception you know as that food.”

Word Buzz Wednesday: nduja, democracy sausage, Ge You slouch

egg breakfast tacos with nduja, avocado, jalapeño salsa

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: a delicious sausage paste; a sausage word of the year; slouching into January.

raggare

“Going to a raggare meet feels like stepping out of a time machine. Attendees sporting slicked-back hair and leather jackets roll up in vintage hot rods, ready to spend the day drinking beer from the can and listening to Elvis Presley.”

Michele Debczak, “The Swedish Subculture Keeping 1950s America Alive,” Mental Floss, December 19, 2016

Grease meets ABBA in raggare, a Scandinavian subculture that originated in the 1950s as a form of rebellion, says Mental Floss, and has persisted ever since. The word raggare comes from the Swedish raga, “to pick up girls.”

nduja

“When chef Francesco Mazzei put nduja on the menu in London back in 2006, he had to add a note explaining what it was: a spicy, spreadable sausage from his native Calabria in southern Italy.”

Richard Vines, “What Is Nduja and Why Is It Suddenly on Every Menu?” Bloomberg, December 13, 2016

Nduja, in addition to sounding delicious, is pronounced in-DOOJ-ah, says Bloomberg. The sausage spread originated in the Vibo Valentia province and is made with pork fat, herbs and spices, and “spicy Calabrian peppers, which give nduja chili heat and a distinctive red color.”

white gold

“Mining companies have for years been extracting billions of dollars of lithium from the Atacama region in Chile, and now firms are flocking to the neighboring Atacama lands in Argentina to hunt for the mineral known as ‘white gold.’”

Todd C. Frankel, Peter Whoriskey, “Tossed Aside in the ‘White Gold’ Rush,” The Washington Post, December 19, 2016

White gold is another name for lithium, a metal that’s “essential for the lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles,” says The Washington Post. The ubiquity of these products “has prompted a land rush” in the ancestral lands of the indigenous Atacamas people of Chile.

democracy sausage

“The all-important democracy sausage is a staple at polling booths across the nation on election day.”

Alkira Reinfrank, “Democracy sausage snags Word of the Year as smashed avo, shoey lose out,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), December 14, 2016

Australia’s selection for 2016 word of the year, democracy sausage, first came into circulation in 2012, says ABC, “but rose to prominence during this year’s federal election.” One candidate noted his sausage sandwich (otherwise known as a sausage sanga and a snag) was “the taste of democracy,” then promptly ate said sandwich incorrectly.

Ge You slouch

“Chinese netizens coined the phrase ‘The Ge You slouch’ to describe a state of idleness which they called ‘living without hope.’”

Zheping Huang, Echo Huang, “The memes that took over China’s internet in 2016 speak to the country’s power and fragility,” Quartz, December 21, 2016

The Ge You slouch, which pretty much sums up January for us, is named for veteran actor Ge You, says Quartz, who once guest starred on a 1990s sitcom as a slouchy, freeloading scam artist.

Best of Word Buzz Wednesday 2016

Trophies

As you may know, the American Dialect Society is now accepting nominations for their words of the year. In addition to the big kahuna (last year’s was the singular “they”), they have categories for Political Word of the Year, Most Useful, Most Creative, Euphemism of the Year, and WTF Word of the Year.

In that tradition, we’ve devised our own (silly) categories for the best of Word Buzz Wednesday, our semiweekly roundup of interesting words in the news.

Weirdest Crime

express kidnapping

Back in August we wrote about these short-lived abductions in which abductors often force victims to pay their own ransom through ATM withdrawals.

Most Well-Deserved Eponym

Biles

Gymnast Simone Biles is our pick for the Most Well-Deserved Eponym of the year. The Biles is her signature move of “two back flips followed by a half twist, all with a straight body position and landing blind.”

Runners-up: Bowie bonds and Ophiohamus georgemartini

Bowie bonds, a 1997-coined term, popped up after David Bowie passed away in January. These asset-backed securities “awarded investors a share in [the singer’s] future royalties for 10 years,” says the BBC.

Ophiohamus georgemartini was a newly coined name for a deep sea brittle star found in the South Pacific. Named for Game of Thrones author George Martin, it bears a resemblance to a thorny crown on the cover of one Martin’s books.

Least Favorite -Sexual

ammosexual

In 2014 we learned about lumbersexuals. This year we weren’t so lucky: an ammosexual is someone who’s into firearms in a sexual way.

Another disturbing weapon term we learned this year was ghost gun, a kind of untraceable, “homemade” gun often not known to police until it turns up at a crime scene.

Most Disturbing Yet Important Word to Know

stochastic terrorism

Speaking of disturbing, this year we also learning about stochastic terrorism, which Rolling Stone describes as “using language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.’”

Most Regrettable Portmanteau

regrexit

In June, British citizens voted to exit the European Union, otherwise known as Brexit. This was followed almost immediately by regrexit, regretting the Brexit.

In November, after a contentious election, California vowed to Calexit, or secede the country.

Most Self-Centered Portmanteau

meflection

Lili Loofbuorow at The Week suggested meflection — a blend of me and deflection — for Donald Trump’s habit in the presidential debates of using “just about any issue principally to aggrandize himself and deflect from the actual issue.”

Favorite Bro-manteau

BROTUS

BROTUS is one bromance we’re going to miss. We’ll have to make do with these Obama-Biden BROTUS memes.

Best Regionalism We Learned This Year

Philadelphia lean

We love a good regionalism, especially one about food or drink. The Philadelphia lean is what one does when eating a proper Philly cheesesteak, to avoid getting the “juice” of said cheesesteak on one’s shirtfront.

Most Delicious-Sounding Traffic Lingo

pork chop island

This delicious-sounding phrase unfortunately has nothing to do with a porkivore’s vacation getaway but a type of traffic island named for its shape.

Most Unnecessary Portmanteau

brunchfast

What we didn’t need this year was a blend describing what’s essentially another blend. So if brunch is a meal between breakfast and lunch, what’s brunchfast? A meal between breakfast and brunch? Whatever it is, we don’t need it, Jack in the Box.

Coolest Historical Term We Learned This Year

Hello Girl

We love the term Hello Girl, a nickname for switchboard operators in the late 19th century.  During World War I Hello Girls gained further recognition when women fluent in English and French were hired to aid in communication among American officers in France.

Best Old-Fashioned Insult

wazzock

Back in February, Conservative Member of Parliament Victoria Atkins called Donald Trump this North England slang term for “a stupid or annoying chump.”

Best Way to Describe Prince

superfunkycalifragisexy

In April, we lost Prince way too soon, but we’re happy for this word — a blend of funky, sexy, and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — which we think best encapsulates the Purple One’s style, music, and funky, sexy something.

Best Excuse to Write About Beyonce

bama

A recent addition to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), this slang term got the spotlight earlier this year when Beyonce described herself as a “Texas bama” in her song, Formation.

The OED has a few senses of the word. The earliest is as a colloquialism for the state of Alabama and specifically, the University of Alabama, with its earliest citation from 1921: “Though Bama lost they realize that the Purple Tennessee Beast played the better brand of ball.” The derogatory sense of someone uncouth or unsophisticated from the rural South is from 1970 or earlier. Bama chukker refers to “a white person from the rural American South.”

Second Best Excuse to Write About Beyonce

Becky

Beyonce brought attention to another slang term this year. In her single, Sorry, she sings, “He better call Becky with the good hair.” The expression refers to a woman who engages in certain sex acts, as well as the sex act itself.

Favorite Singlish Term to Be Added to the Oxford English Dictionary

sandwich class

In May, the OED added more than 30 East Asian terms, including the Hong Kong English sandwich class, a term for the “squeezed middle class,” those who can’t afford to buy private homes but earn too much to live in public housing.

Coolest Concept from the Netherlands

woonerf

Continuing in the borrowing category, we also love the woonerf, which translates from Dutch as “living street,” and refers to a shared space for pedestrians, cyclists, and, at times, very slow-moving cars.

Most Surreal Literary Genre

chaohuan

This Chinese literary term coined by novelist Ning Ken translates as “ultra-unreal,” and is intended to describe modern-day China beyond the genres of mystery, satire, and horror. Chaohuan could also very well describe the post-election landscape of the United States.

Word-Nerdiest Scandal

gridgate

And saving the word-nerdiest for last. In March, Timothy Parker, the editor of the USA Today and Universal crosswords, was exposed for having possibly plagiarized crossword puzzles from The New York Times.

What were your favorite — or least favorite words this year? Let us know in the comments!

Word Buzz Wednesday: reindeer rule, balikbayan, koumpounophobia

[xmas display]

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: Rudolph the law-abiding reindeer, a really big box of gifts, and button, button, who’s got the fear of buttons.

reindeer rule

“In the 1984 case of Lynch v. Donnelly, the court established a precedent that became known as the ‘reindeer rule,’ a legal standard that has governed public displays of holiday cheer ever since.”

Shaunacy Ferro, “The Legal Reason Why Public Christmas Displays Often Feature At Least One Reindeer,” Mental Floss, December 5, 2016

The reindeer rule is a nickname for a legal standard that governs “public displays of holiday cheer,” says Mental Floss. Basically it says that if you want to display a nativity scene at a place like a courthouse or public park, you’d better include “secular elements,” such as a reindeer.

balikbayan

“As the most iconic symbol of the Filipino diaspora, the balikbayan box serves as an emotional bridge between parents and siblings who part with their families to earn a higher wage abroad collectively known as ‘Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW).”

Anne Quito, “The ultimate 100-lb. gift box Filipinos send their relatives every Christmas,” Quartz, December 7, 2016

According to Quartz, the word balikbayan “is a Tagalog compound word that translates to ‘return [to] country,’” and the balikbayan box:

is typically stuffed with a random assortment of everyday, household goods—canned meats, small electronics, gently used clothing, tubes of toothpaste, vitamins, toiletries, and of course, “imported” chocolates in bulk.

Quartz goes on to say that the “ordinariness” of balikbayan gifts is by design, and that perhaps “the assortment of seemingly random items convey a kind of intimacy among separated relatives,” mapping “migrants back into the household economy by reproducing their labor and participation in their absence.”

seasteading

“Variants on seasteading led to the founding of the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with the caveat that conquest was involved, as these territories were not unsettled at the time.”

Tyler Cowen, “Go Wet, Young Man,” Bloomberg, December 7, 2016

Seasteading refers to “the founding of new and separate governance units on previously unoccupied territory, possibly on the open seas,” says Bloomberg. Seasteading plays on homesteading, the act of claiming “unclaimed” land, especially under the Homestead Act of 1862.

koumpounophobia

“Andy’s condition is called koumpounophobia. It is not as common as some phobias – but still affects around one in every 75,000 people.”

Sirena Bergman, “The misery of weird phobias: ‘In the office, there are buttons everywhere’,” The Guardian, December 5, 2016

Koumpounophobia is the morbid fear of buttons. People with this particular phobia, says the Guardian, “report losing contact with family and friends because they are unable to attend weddings and funerals, or abandoning their careers and doing jobs that allow for remote working or casual clothing.” In addition, “because of the ridicule sufferers are often met with, people tend to suffer in silence and phobias go untreated.”

While the suffix -phobia comes from the ancient Greek phobos, “fear,” koumpouno- may come from a modern Greek word meaning button, according to this thread. One poster says koumpouno “comes from the ancient Greek word for ‘bean’ (κύαμος, kuamos), which makes sense, because the ancients didn’t have buttons, but some buttons resemble beans.”

samizdat

“VHS tapes were easy to copy, so samizdat editions began circulating, and the video was prominently displayed in stores during the holidays because it was the most recent Christmas movie available.”

Sam Kashner, “How A Christmas Story Went from Low-Budget Fluke to an American Tradition,” Vanity Fair, November 2016

Samizdat refers to “the secret publication and distribution of government-banned literature in the former Soviet Union”; “the literature produced by this system”; or “an underground press.” The word came into English around 1967, says the Online Etymology Dictionary, and comes from the Russian samizdat, which translates as “self-publishing.”

Word Buzz Wednesday: post-truth, BROTUS, Muism

muism

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: an untruthy word of the year, a POTUS blend we’ll miss, a magical ancient religion.

post-truth

Post-truth, which has become associated with the phrase ‘post-truth politics’, was chosen ahead of other political terms, including ‘Brexiteer’ and ‘alt-right’ from a shortlist selected to reflect the social, cultural, political, economic and technological trends and events of the year.”

‘Post-truth’ declared word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries,” BBC, November 16, 2016

Post-truth is defined as “relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals,” says the BBC. The term was first used in 1992, according to Oxford Dictionaries, with its frequency of usage increasing “by 2,000% in 2016 compared with last year.”

See also truthiness.

emolument

“If you’ve never heard the term emolument, it’s because it has rarely cropped up in the context of the US presidency in recent memory. Oval Office occupants in past decades have tried hard to avoid conflicts of interests.”

Ana Campoy, “There’s a word for the profit Donald Trump can make from being president,” Quartz, November 23, 2016

Emolument refers to payment of compensation for an office or employment. Quartz says the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution “bars office holders from receiving economic benefits from foreign governments.” Currently, “there’s a debate over whether the president-elect’s wide-ranging business dealings abroad violate that rule.”

The word emolument comes from the Latin ēmolumentum, “gain, originally a miller’s fee for grinding grain.”

BROTUS

“President Obama and Vice President Biden have long been open about their friendship and respect for one another, so much so that the POTUS bromance has come to be known as a ‘BROTUS.’”

Barbara Sprunt, “#MemeoftheWeek: The Best Of The Obama-Biden ‘BROTUS’,” NPR, November 15, 2016

BROTUS is a blend of POTUS and bro. Bro was first used to mean “a close male friend” around 1969, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Bromance, an intimate yet nonsexual relationship between two men, is attested to 2001.

POTUS, an acronym that stands for “President of the United States,” was first used in 1895, also according to the OED. SCOTUS, Supreme Court of the United states, is slightly older (1879) while FLOTUS, First Lady of the United States, is much newer (1983).

pin-pen merger

“Weirdly enough, this accent class was called a ‘neutralization technique’ at Carnegie Mellon: theoretically, the idea is that it removes regional signifiers like the pin-pen merger.”

Dan Nosowitz, “How A Fake British Accent Took Old Hollywood By Storm,” Atlas Obscura, October 27, 2016

In the pin-pen merger, says Atlas Obscura, the word “pen” sounds like “pin,” and is “indicator that a speaker is from the American South.” The “fake” British accent made famous by the likes of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn seeks to eradicate regional signifiers like the pin-pen merger. It’s sometimes referred to as the Mid-Atlantic accent while 1940s elocutionist Edith Skinner called it “Good Speech.”

Muism

“While Christianity and Buddhism are officially the two biggest religions, Choi’s religious universe is a syncretic one, mixing the two religions with many shades of magical shamanism, or Muism.”

Ilaria Maria Sala and Isabella Steger, “A Rasputinesque mystery woman and a cultish religion could take down South Korea’s president,” Quartz, October 28, 2016

Muism, which comes from the Korean mugyo, “shaman religion,” is “the indigenous religion of the Korean Peninsula,” says World Atlas. Evidence dates the religion back as much as 5,000 years ago. Muism rituals “involve a shaman contacting the spirit world,” moving in and out of trances with his or her soul “leaving the body and traveling to other realms,” where, followers believe, “spirits help the shaman perform spiritual, psychological, and physical healing.”

Word Buzz Wednesday: Calexit, bellwether, moon illusion

supermoon - mannequin

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: California, there you go?; the sheep leader; and at least the moon was nice this week.

Calexit

“On social media, the hashtag #Calexit took off, echoing the British decision to leave the European Union.”

Mike McPhate, “California Today: Secessionist Groups Seize the Moment,” The New York Times, November 10, 2016

Calexit refers to a secessionist movement in the Golden State. It’s a blend of California and exit, and plays off Brexit and Grexit.

bellwether

“So in politics, the bellwether is a state that signals the direction of the whole flock of states. Thus, we used to say, long ago, as Maine goes, so goes the nation.”

Ron Elving, “A Bellwether Refresher: The States Most Likely To Mirror National Election Outcome,” NPR, November 6, 2016

A bellwether is “one that serves as a leader or as a leading indicator of future trends.” It comes from the original meaning of “a wether or sheep which leads the flock, usually carrying a bell on its neck.” Wether comes from an Old English word that means “ram.”

whitelash

“Articulating the fear that a lot of Democrats are feeling at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, Van Jones called the election results a ‘whitelash.’”

Josiah Ryan, “‘This was a whitelash': Van Jones’ take on the election results,” CNN, November 9, 2016

The term whitelash was coined by activist and commentator Van Jones. Whitelash might be a play on blacklash, itself a play on backlash.

moon illusion

“This is because of something called a ‘moon illusion.’ When the moon is close to the horizon, it looks unnaturally large compared to trees and houses.”

Danika Worthington, “Everything you need to know to enjoy the supermoon Sunday night,” Denver Post, November 12, 2016

The moon illusion is an optical illusion attributed to how we perceive the sky, horizon, and celestial bodies, and the “size-forcing” our brains create, says Sky and Telescope. In fourth century B.C., Aristotle noted “the apparent hugeness of the horizon-hugging Moon,” which back then “was attributed to magnification by the atmosphere.”

perigee-syzygy

“Its official name is the perigee-syzygy, meaning the moon is both full and closest to Earth. But many call it the supermoon.”

Bill Chappell, “Closest Supermoon Since 1948 Arrives Monday: Tips On Seeing And Photographing It,” NPR, November 13, 2016

One meaning of perigee is “the point, in an orbit about the Earth, that is closest to the Earth,” while the moon sense of syzygy refers to “either of two points in the orbit of the moon when the moon lies in a straight line with the sun and Earth.”

Both words are Greek in origin, perigee coming from a term that means “near the earth,” and syzygy from one that means “yoked together.”

Word Buzz Wednesday: the Dollies, the lipstick effect, su filindeu

lipstick

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: an offensive nickname; lipstick courage; and angel hair pasta’s got nothing on this.

chaiwala

“By the end of the day on Oct. 17, #ChaiWala (tea seller) was the top trending item on Twitter Pakistan.”

Harish C. Menon, “A Pakistani tea vendor snapped by a passing photographer has become an internet sensation,” Quartz, October 18, 2016

Chaiwala comes from Urdu. While chai meaning “tea” seems straightforward, the definition of wala seems more complex. According to this forum, the word could refer to a vendor or seller but “also possessor of certain sorts” as well as “the one,” as in, when asking for paratha, a fried flat bread, you could say, “Ghee wala,” the butter one, or “Meetha wala,” the sweet one (which both sound delicious).

Dollies

“The Dollies were stuck in place, consigned by decades of tradition to a secondary role, with little hope of promotion.”

Manuel Roig-Franzia, “How a fed-up group of ‘Good Girls’ beat the ‘Mad Men’-era sexists,” The Washington Post, October 25, 2016

The Dollies was a derogatory nickname for the national researchers at Newsweek magazine in the 1960s, says The Washington Post. The researchers were all women — while the “boys did the writing and got the glory,” the Dollies “did the journalistic spadework and fetched the coffee.”

The moniker is reminiscent of trolley dolly, a British and Australian term for a female flight attendant.

gibbeting

“There were always some who objected to gibbeting for its barbarity, but the courts saw it as a way to prevent crime.”

Andy Wright, “The Incredibly Disturbing Medieval Practice of Gibbeting,” Atlas Obscura, October 11, 2016

Gibbeting, which dates back to medieval times, is also known as “hanging in chains,” says Atlas Obscura, and refers to hanging a body in a body-shaped cage after death. The practice was officially mandated “by the 1752 Murder Act, which required bodies of convicted murderers to be either publicly dissected or gibbeted,” and was “formally abolished in 1834.”

The word gibbet was originally synonymous with gallows, and comes from the Old French gibet, a diminutive of gibe, “staff.”

lipstick effect

“The lipstick effect isn’t just about lipstick, but rather everything from makeup, skincare, and hair products to clothes and shoes.”

Tracy E. Robey, “A Totally Rational, Research-Backed Argument in Favor of Shopping,” Racked, October 11, 2016

With the lipstick index, says Racked, Leonard Lauder of Estee Lauder claimed that during economic recessions, lipstick sales went up because the cosmetic is “an affordable extravagance that women seek when more costly items like vacations and luxury vehicles are no longer within reach.”

The lipstick index was eventually discredited, but what’s being called the lipstick effect suggests a level of strategic thinking “going on in women’s minds when they shop for cosmetics and clothing while worried about money.” One study suggests that when women are concerned about finances, they use makeup “to feel more confident in their ability to find a romantic partner and to get (or keep) a job.”

su filindeu

“In a modest apartment in the town of Nuoro, a slight 62-year-old named Paola Abraini wakes up every day at 7 am to begin making su filindeu – the rarest pasta in the world.”

Eliot Stein, “The secret behind Italy’s rarest pasta,” BBC, October 19, 2016

Su filindeu, which translates as “the threads of God,” comes from Sardo, a language spoken on the island of Sardinia and “the closest living form of Latin,” says the BBC. What makes the pasta so rare is that only three women in the world “still know how to make it,” the recipe and technique having been passed down through the women in this particular family for more than 300 years.

The pasta is also difficult to make. It involves “pulling and folding semolina dough into 256 perfectly even strands with the tips of your fingers, and then stretching the needle-thin wires diagonally across a circular frame in an intricate three-layer pattern.”

The process is so difficult and time-consuming, “the sacred dish has only been served to the faithful who complete a 33km pilgrimage on foot or horseback from Nuoro to the village of Lula for the biannual Feast of San Francesco.”