Word Buzz Wednesday: bicycle face, dark factory, ghost gun

Sjoerd Lammers street photography

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: the perils of a bike riding; robots saving on light bulbs; guns without a trace.

bicycle face

“Of all the physical woes attributed to the bicycle as it became popular in the 1890s, the one that most strained credulity was the ‘bicycle face.’”

Margaret Guroff, “Bicycle Face,” The Atlantic, June 2016

The pseudo-syndrome bicycle face was “characterized by wide, wild eyes” and “a grim set to the mouth,” all due to “the stress of incessant balancing,” according to Margaret Guroff in her book, The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life. The disorder allegedly went as far as to render “children unrecognizable to their own mothers.”

dark factory

“The ultimate goal is what’s known as ‘the dark factory’ – one in which you don’t even need to turn on the lights, because there aren’t any humans to require them.”

Robert Colvile, “Is a robot about to take your job?” The Telegraph, June 6, 2016

A dark factory is a factory that’s almost entirely automated and hence, needs no light for human laborers to work by.

entourage effect

“In the process of what’s called the ‘entourage effect,’ during which different cannabinoids work together to enhance each other’s individual functioning, the cacao- and cannabis-derived cannabinoids cooperatively provide relief.”

Madison Margolin, “Whoopi Goldberg Explains Her Pot-for-PMS Products, Whoopi & Maya,” LA Weekly, June 7, 2016

The term entourage effect was apparently coined by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam in the late 1990s and describes how the various compounds in the cannabis plant “work better together than in isolation.”

familiar letter

“At the time, there had lately emerged a form of written communication known as the ‘familiar letter,’ which was characterized by informal, from-the-heart prose, rather than displays of intellect, reason, and wit.”

Ella Morton, “Letter-Writing Manuals Were the Self-Help Books of the 18th Century,” Atlas Obscura, June 2, 2016

The practice of writing familiar letters emerged in the 18th century, says Atlas Obscura, and along with it manuals on how best to write such letters.

ghost gun

“To do that, his company, Defense Distributed, offers the sale of two very controversial – and legal – items: the firing mechanism and aluminum spine of what’s called a Ghost Gun, a build-it-at-home way to make your own firearm (without serial numbers), and Ghost Gunners, a milling tool that allows any DIY-er to build lower receivers at home.”

Adam Popescu, “Cody Wilson: the man who wants Americans to print their own 3D guns,” The Guardian, June 6, 2016

Because ghost guns are “homemade,” they’re without serial numbers and are therefore untraceable, which often makes them “completely unknown to law enforcement, unless one turns up at a crime scene,” says The Trace. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) call such weapons unfinished receivers.

In 2013, says WIRED, a mass shooting in Santa Monica was attributed to a ghost gun. In 2015, “California state senator Kevin Deleon introduced a bill to ban ghost guns,” which Governor Jerry Brown vetoed.