Word Buzz Wednesday: Big Pizza, flying donkeys, Spocking

Star Trek: Spock

It’s time once again for our weekly buzzworthy word roundup! The latest: an extra large pie; leapfrogging donkeys; and paying homage to Spock.

Big Pizza

Big Pizza spent about $1.5 million in the last two election cycles, which is really no surprise. What might surprise you is that pizza is so partisan: 88 percent of that money went to Republicans.”

Matt Novak, “If pizza were a politician it’d be a Republican,” Factually, March 3, 2015

Big Pizza refers to the pizza industry, which includes restaurant chains, such as Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s, and the companies behind frozen pizzas. The American Pizza Community is “the lobbying group of the pizza industry.”

Of the over $685,000 Pizza Hut spent in the last two elections, almost 99 percent went to Republicans. In the meantime, Papa John’s gave 87 percent to the GOP.

While Domino’s has the reputation of being ultra-conservative — the company’s founder, Tom Monaghan, is staunchly pro-life, although the company has never supported anti-abortion groups — it gave 20 percent of its lobbying dollars to Democrats. Little Caesars gave 27 percent to the blue party, but that’s out of only $2,775 spent over the last two elections.

Big Pizza is a riff on terms like big tobacco and big pharma, which themselves are variations on big business, referring to large, commercial operations.

digital dualism

“The perception that online relationships are somehow less real than their physical counterparts exemplifies what Nathan Jurgenson, a New York-based sociologist and researcher for the messaging platform Snapchat, calls ‘digital dualism.’”

Kyle Chayka, “Let’s Really Be Friends,” New Republic, March 2, 2015

Digital dualism is the idea that “on and offline are largely separate and distinct realities,” and that digital content is “part of a ‘virtual’ world separate from a ‘real’ world found in physical space.”

The term was coined in 2011 by Nathan Jurgenson, who argues against digital dualism. There’s is just one reality, he says, and “digital is part of it, not any less real or true,” and that “what you do online and what you do face-to-face are completely interwoven.”

flying donkey

“But it’s not just technology that needs to improve to make flying donkeys a reality in Africa. Governments and safety authorities need to put in place regulatory frameworks to accommodate this new form of transport.”

Tom Jackson and Matthew Wall, “Can ‘flying donkey’ drones plug Africa’s transport gap?,” BBC News, March 1, 2015

Flying donkey is the nickname for the cargo drone, an unmanned aerial aircraft used primarily for transporting cargo. (Real donkeys are used as pack animals in many underdeveloped countries.) Some think the flying donkeys will enable Africa “to leapfrog traditional infrastructure development and grow faster economically.”

Another example of leapfrogging is the use of mobile phones in developing countries, bypassing the development of landlines.


“The biggest distinction between them: gargalesis is the kind of tickle you can’t do to yourself, but you can certainly give yourself knismesis.”

Megan Thielking, “Why are we ticklish? Here’s what we know about our silliest defense mechanism,” Vox, March 6, 2015

Vox says there are two types of tickling: knismesis, a light sensation, and gargalesis, the (tortuous) kind done by another person. The distinction was made back in 1987.

There are few theories behind ticklishness. One is that it’s a form of social bonding, although some hate being tickled. Another is that “we’ve evolved to be ticklish as a way to protect vulnerable spots” — like your belly and the soft pads of your feet — “from attack.”

As for laughing, it “could be your body’s way of signaling your submission to the person touching you in an effort to stave off further tickles.”

The word gargalesis might come from the prefix garg-, “imitative of throat sounds,” perhaps referring to laughter, and esis, meaning “pertaining to.” If anyone has a more definitive etymology, please let us know!


“Perhaps one of our favorites so far is happening in Canada, where Trekkies are ‘Spocking Fives’ by putting images of Nimoy on the country’s $5 bill.”

Anthony Domanico, “Canadians ‘Spocking’ their currency in tribute to Leonard Nimoy,” CNET, March 2, 2015

Spocking refers to some Canadians, in honor of Leonard Nimoy, taking a pen to their $5 bills and transforming the portrait of Sir Wilfrid Laurier into Nimoy’s most famous character.

Spocking fives (their Facebook page, by the way, includes a fair attempt at De Niro’ing a 100) has been going on since at least 2008.

[Photo via Flickr: “Star Trek: Spock,” CC BY 2.0 by JD Hancock]