Word Buzz Wednesday: herd immunity, sitzpinkler, spornosexual

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What’s that? You need a word break? You’ve come to the right place.

This week: the importance of vaccinations; the debate over sitting (or standing) to pee; and yet another –sexual.

herd immunity

“This is what scientists call ‘herd immunity,’ and its a huge reason we get vaccines in the first place.”

Sarah Kliff, “The scariest fact about the Disneyland measles outbreak,” Vox, January 23, 2015

In herd immunity, a significant proportion of the population is vaccinated, which protects those who have yet to be vaccinated. In the case of measles, infants can’t get the MMR vaccine until they’re a year old, which means, says Vox, that until then, “babies depend on the fact that everybody else around them gets vaccinated.”


“As if small businesses didn’t have enough to worry about when it comes to computer security, here’s another thing to keep you up at night: malvertising.”

Elizabeth Weise, “Malware in ads turn computers into zombies,” USA Today, January 20, 2015

Malvertising, a blend of malware and advertising, is malicious software “hidden in online advertising,” says USA Today.

One type of malvertising “grabs information off the user’s hard drive,” and as a result the hackers can “gain access to e-mail and bank account information.” Another type steals the user’s online persona, “turning their computer into one piece in a vast network of hijacked computers called a botnet,” and going online to visit and click on advertisements as though it were that user.

While this kind of malware doesn’t affect the user, it does affect advertisers “who paid for real people to see their ad, but instead are paying for robot views.”


“Most POPOs are not widely publicized or even marked, probably because property managers would prefer not to deal with any aggravation.”

Peter Lawrence Kane, “Downtown SF Might Lose a Ton of Public Spaces,” The Bold Italic, January 22, 2015

POPO stands for “privately-owned public open space,” and refers to “publicly accessible spaces in forms of plazas, terraces, atriums, small parks, and even snippets that are provided and maintained by private developers.” The term is also known as POPS, “privately-owned public space,” and seems to have been popularized by this book published in 2000.

POPOs originated from a 1980s policy in which commercial development in downtown San Francisco was only allowed “in exchange for public access,” says The Bold Italic. Now a proposed amendment would allow developers to pay a fee rather than providing public open space.


“The controversy pits stehpinklers (men who stand up to pee) against sitzpinklers (men who sit down), and it has taken some bizarre twists over the years.”

Uri Friedman, “A Victory for the Right to Pee Standing Up,” The Atlantic, January 23, 2015

Sitzpinkler and stehpinkler are both German. Sitz means “seat,” steh means “stand,” and pinkler comes from pinkel, which means, you guessed it, to pee.

In Germany there has been a long-running debate about “whether men should be encouraged to sit down when urinating,” says The Atlantic. Both pro- and con-sitzers feel strongly. Sitzpinkler has also come to mean “wimp,” while German supermarkets have taken to installing toilet gadgets that chastise men attempting to stehpinkel.

Meanwhile, a University of Chicago law professor is on a different sort of toilet crusade: increasing “excreting opportunities” for women in public restrooms. She proposes removing couches, full-length mirrors, and vanities, and replacing them with more toilets to sitzpinkel in.

(H/t Mededitor.)


“With the spornosexual movement in full flight, men are now constantly bombarded with potent imagery of celebrities with improbable physiques: some of the most potent and pervasive are from Hollywood.”

Max Olesker, “The Rise of the Spornosexual,” Esquire, January 12, 2015

First we had metrosexual. Then, lumbersexual. Now: spornosexual.

Spornosexuals are men who “strive to look like sportsmen or porn stars,” rather than bodybuilders, says Esquire. Journalist Mark Simpson, who introduced the word metrosexual in 1994, started writing about “sporno” culture in 2006, “noting the rise in hypersexualised, homoprovocative imagery of sportsmen.”

[Photo via Flickr, “Serious Restroom Sign,” CC BY 2.0 by Chad Kainz]