Sunday, November 25, 2007

High Tea (Not as Distinguished as Americans Think)

High Tea at the Istanbul Kampinski Hotel
High Tea at the Istanbul Kampinski Hotel

The term high tea is sometimes used in the United States to refer to afternoon tea or the tea party, a very formal, ritualized gathering in which tea, thin sandwiches and little cakes are served on the best china. This usage comes from misunderstanding the term high to mean formal. This form of tea is increasingly served in high-end U.S. hotels, often during the Christmas holidays and other tourist seasons, and a rising number of big-city teahouses.

High Tea (also known as Meat Tea) is actually an early evening meal, typically eaten between 5 and 6 o'clock in the evening. It would be eaten as a substitute for both afternoon tea and the evening meal. The term comes from the meal being eaten at the ‘high’ (main) table, instead of the smaller lounge table. It is now largely replaced by a later evening meal.

It would usually consist of cold meats, eggs and/or fish, cakes and sandwiches. In a family, it tends to be less formal and is an informal snack (featuring sandwiches, biscuits, pastry, fruit and the like) or else it is the main evening meal.

On farms or other working class environments, high tea would be the traditional, substantial meal eaten by the workers immediately after nightfall, and would combine afternoon tea with the main evening meal.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Wall Street (Yahoo Finance) Wonder Kid

Jonathan Lebed (born September 29, 1984) is an American who, between September 1999 and February 2000, made hundreds of thousands of dollars by posting in internet chat rooms and on message boards encouraging people to buy penny stocks he already owned, thus, according to the SEC, artificially raising the price of the stock.

This is an extremely interesting concept to me. It seem like the situation is half pyramid scheme half legitimate. The reason it seems legitimate is that most of the reason people go into these penny stocks is to day trade or to gamble on the fluctuations. For Lebed to make money other people need to take his advice. So to a certain extent he was making people money besides him self and that is how he made a reputation that could be trusted. Plus even if they don't make money they where gambling in the first place.

Though on the other hand this seem like it had to be a pyramid scheme to begin with there are always going to be losers. The people that buy in early make money off the people buying in latter, which makes the scheme no longer a bet but scam.

The SEC under Arthur Levitt prosecuted him. In 2001 Lebed and the SEC negotiated an out-of-court settlement in which Lebed forfeited $285,000 in profit and interest he had made on 11 trades without admitting any wrongdoing — allowing him to keep close to half a million dollars. Another fascinating thing about all of this is the fact that Lebed made over $750k in 5 months.
The case was controversial — the SEC had never prosecuted a minor — and produced significant media interest. Lebed contended that his activity forecasting stock prices was no different from and no more illegal than what professional Wall Street analysts do every day, only he utilized the internet. Despite the negative press and SEC inquiry, Lebed continues to trade actively. He also sells his trading advice through a newsletter.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Euphemism / Dysphemism Treadmill

Euphemisms often evolve over time into taboo words themselves, through a process described by W.V.O. Quine, and more recently dubbed "the euphemism treadmill" by Steven Pinker. This is the well-known linguistic process known as pejoration. When I had first heard of the concept I thought that it was a result peoples tendency to be offended by labels. I had heard of the Euphemism Treadmill occurring with the word Black being a euphemism for Colored which was originally a euphemism for Negro and so on.

But after seeing how there is an opposite trend, words that are purposefully offensive to becoming more mainstream( the Dysphemism Treadmill), my thoughts have changed. Our culture wants to use the offensive term so when a euphemism is created it is co-opted because it is simply the new negative term. If some grew up using Colored as an insult for Black or "African American" people then when the term black or "African American" is introduced you put it on as a mask to the word Colored. And you will use the euphemism to seem polite but in reality it has the same connotations as the original word. In some cases, the euphemism may be used mockingly and become dysphemisms.

And a word goes from being a dysphemism to being a more neutral word because we want to be able to use the negative or scandalous word. Then in order to seem polite we deny the words real meaning.Then as time goes on people learn the word with out its real meaning.

And example of the euphemism treadmill is that idiot, imbecile, and moron were once neutral terms for a person of toddler, preschool, and primary school mental ages, respectively. The word mentally retarded was pressed into service to replace Idiot, imbecile, and moron because negative connotations tend to crowd out neutral ones. Now that too is considered rude, used commonly as an insult. As a result, new terms like developmentally disabled, mentally challenged and special have replaced retarded. .

In these cases, notions of profanity, obscenity and other words once called “offensive” are later described as “objectionable,” then “questionable,” and in some cases, they reach near or outright acceptability. One modern example is the word "sucks". "That sucks" began as American slang for "that is very unpleasant", and is shorthand for "that sucks cock", referring to fellatio; along with the exactly synonymous phrase "that blows", it developed over the late-20th century from being an extremely vulgar phrase to near-acceptability. Likewise, scumbag, which was originally a reference to a used condom, now is a fairly mild epithet.

The same may be said of the use of “screw,” often used as a dysphemism for sexual intercourse, is now in not such usages as “to screw up” (to make a major mistake).

Sometimes a term will go from being a euphemism to being a dysphemism and then go back to being a euphemism. “Queer” and “gay,” for example, both started as euphemisms for “homosexual,” and then got on the euphemism treadmill and became insults—but are now the preferred adjectives amongst the gay community themselves. Though This is often the result of intentional reappropriation campaigns.