Tag Archives: Experiential

Popularity of Military Terms

I decided to look up military branches on Ngram to determine if increased use of the terms correlate with war in the United States and if a certain branch was more popular during which war. I did this by tracking “army”, “navy”, “marines”, “air force”, and “military” in American English only.


It is obvious that the army is by far the most discussed branch. “Military” follows closely behind “army” and eventually passes “army” to become the most common term among the five in modern language. In the distance is the navy and then (once invented) the air force. Most people seem to use “military” as a general term to describe all the branches which explains why it has grown in popularity over the past 40 years. Also, “army” could be the most popular term for so long because it was the most common used military branch in the past due to the lack of advanced technology.

Also, the spikes in the term usage correlate with wars in America. The huge peak in 1776 was when the United States gained their independence, which also explains the peak in the navy because of the magnitude of overseas warfare. The peak in 1812-1816 correlates with the War of 1812. There was little to no peak in “navy” in 1865, though there was a peak in the other terms because of the Civil War’s lack of necessity for a navy. The peak in 1918 associates with World War I while in 1944 World War II was in full swing. There are some peaks that are more difficult to find correlations for. This could be because there were wars abroad that made people think of the military more. Since the terms all peaked during wars, it seems as if people were extremely preoccupied with the war and that the topic dominated conversations.

Can You Spot A Liar?

Link to Video

The theme of this TED-Talks video was “How to Spot a Liar”. Pamela Meyer begins this lesson by pointing out something very obvious, yet vital to making her point. Everyone in the audience is a liar, and not only that, but everyone in existence is as well. She then goes into describing what lying really is and why we all do it. Lying is a way to bridge the gap between who you wish you were and who you actually are, one’s fantasy versus reality. But if we all do it, is there really one fool proof way to spot a lie? Maybe not, but there are definitely subconscious aspects of a liar’s body language and communications skills that are easy to spot if you know what to look for. For example, when telling a lie, people tend to overcompensate for myths that are commonly believed about lying. People tend to look more intensely into other people’s eyes while lying instead of looking away. They also tend to go into more description than someone who is telling the truth, and also be more still rather than fidgety.

It’s actually ironic, because while talking about common subconscious signs in body language that a liar may exhibit, Pamela Meyer is also portraying certain subconscious communications skills that she uses to keep us interested in what she is saying. She uses hand gestures, voice qualities and visual aids to keep the audience entertained. Let’s take a smaller section of the video for example, time=11:39 through time=12:00, and analyze the speakers communication skills. Notice that while she is talking, the presenter is moving her hands in an outward, circular motion with her palms facing up. This gesture creates an inviting atmosphere that makes her seem more knowledgeable and trustworthy to the audience, and as a result, they are more likely to agree with what she is saying rather than question it. In addition to this, the speaker uses the word “we” instead of “you” or “they”. This puts the listeners under the impression that the presenter is on the same side as they are and deals with the same struggles that they do when it comes to this topic. This change in her wording makes her seem friendlier and less accusatory, prompting the audience to believe the points she’s making more easily. Also during this time, the speaker uses a visual aid to make her point more clearly to the audience. She shows an image of a smile known as the “duping delight” that a person may express after getting away with a lie. This helps keep the audience interested and connected with what she is talking about, especially since she leaves the topic of this specific smile open ended, saying they would return to it shortly with the use of some videos. All of these aspects came together to form an all-around inviting and trustworthy atmosphere where the audience was easily drawn in.

Are Infographics as Trustworthy as They Seem?


Infographics are unique in that they convey information effectively and creatively with an emphasis on visual elements. A side effect of this method is that people tend to believe it unconditionally. Images give viewers a false sense of authority from the author that is not always justified.

As with many infographics, the sources in the above graphic are small and to the side. One of the sources listed at the bottom (here is the link) concerns the price of bottled water and offers the information surrounding the cost of tap water versus that of bottled water. Several of the sources are broken links; the one I picked was one of the few that was still intact. The source, which, for the sake of clarity, will be referred to as the article, happens to be published by the same group as this infographic (Environmental Working Group or EWG) but is not completely consistent with the data that is shown in the image. While the infographic states “the price of bottled water is up to 10,000 times the cost of tap water”, the article states that this number is closer to 1,900.

Some brief digging shows that EWG is a credible source that researches and reports much of its data. Because of this fact, it is relatively safe to assume that the article is the primary document. The troubling aspect of this finding is that the infographic above is also a product of EWG which affects the credibility of both sources. One possible reason for this discrepancy is exaggeration, as it is clear that the intent of the above infographic is to discourage the use of bottled water. Exaggerating the price of bottled water is an effective and eye catching way to reduce its  consumption. In light of this finding, the validity of both the infographic and the reports at EWG may be placed into question, despite the viewers initial impressions of the infographic. While some of the information that is presented in this image may very well be true and supported, the overall perceived credibility of the infographic may be augmented by its visual appeal. It is a distinct possibility that the infographic is incorrectly communicating data and its validity should be put into question.

America runs on coffee?

Infographics by Stephen Catapano, via Behancehttp://www.pinterest.com/infographicmad/beverages-infographics/

I found this infographic on Pinterest, however when I researched where the data came from I found multiple branches of sources. The first “fact” I was concerned with in this image was the 48 million styrofoam cups used daily. I grew up in New York City where there is a coffee cart every half a block. I bought coffee every day at many various locations and I was only ever handed paper cups. Even when buying drinks from a deli or Dunkin Donuts I usually am given plastic, not styrofoam. After researching the amount of styrofoam cups used by Americans, the average was about 1 billion per year. When you use this number to find cups per day it comes out to approximately 3 million per day. 3 million per day is significantly less than the 48 million daily number on the infographic. Next, I found a website that specifically looks at coffee statistics. This website states that the average price of a cup of coffee is actually $1.38. Surprisingly, on the website Statistic Brain I found almost all of the data exactly the same as on the infographic. Noticeably, the data was sometimes reversed to show larger percentages on the graphic. For example, on Statistic Brain it states that 35% drink their coffee black. The opposite of this would be those who add cream or sugar (the 65% on the infographic). Larger percentages and  statistics makes the infographic seem more interesting to read and seems to stand out more when it comes to the facts and figures of coffee drinking.  Almost all of their remaining data points match precisely with what was posted on Statistic Brain.

After following through 4 other sources from Statistic Brain to Live Science Magazine eventually to a study published in  the Archives of Internal Medicine, did I find the original source of the data. the study was actually performed in 2011. I think that the data found in the infographic posted, while interesting, is misleading because of its outmoded facts. This really emphasizes how we should always question the information that we are given and check the relevance of the data.

Adolf the Wolf: Analyzing the Dr. Seuss Political Cartoon



Apologies for the poor resolution: It’s the result of hunting for old political humor.

Resolution aside, this 40’s-era political cartoon designed by Dr. Seuss reflects the United States’ sentiments towards the tyranny of Adolf Hitler, and the events leading up to the beginning of the Second World War (and arguably, the events that occurred after the initiation of the fighting, but before America’s involvement). The picture sets a mood of indifference, perhaps even enmity, towards the Europeans, particularly the nations that were victimized by and assimilated into the Fascist regime. Simply put, Seuss implies that America cared not in the slightest for those ill-fated nations that were flattened under the Nazi steamroller–nations like Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Austria.

The ‘America First’ sweater hints at the daunting American crisis of the time–the Great Depression. With countless Americans jobless and crippled by poverty and a shattered financial institution,  the focus of the U.S.’s efforts were entirely internal, to the point that the rest of the world could be lilt aflame by the Fascists before America would turn its gaze away from itself.

Additionally, the cartoon hints at the anti-foreigner convictions many Americans developed due to the influx of immigrants at Ellis Island in New York, and Angel Island in California. The Depression gave many Americans an opportunity to lash out aggressively against minority races, particularly the Eastern Europeans who had escaped the tyranny of Nazi Germany. The Americans saw these newcomers as an added threat to an already unstable economy, and they would have nothing of them.

Finally, the image may be alluding to America’s disinterest in WW2 before the events of Pearl Harbor. Apart from the government’s financial backing of Great Britain, Americans for the most part would have nothing to do with the war, a conflict taking place far overseas, and having no direct effect on the homeland, harkening back to the “But those were Foreign Children and it didn’t really matter” comment.

A Practical Image Analysis

Above from http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i_zYcway0TI/UKu5K64Q3CI/AAAAAAAAiOY/rLhWkTvvEn8/s800/565CHOWthanksgiving.jpg


I love this flowchart.  As a fan of food, comedy, and practicality, it appeals to me at nearly every level.  Underneath the obvious “this flowchart explains what to bring to Thanksgiving,” it has a lot of interesting rhetoric that makes it more eye-catching and enjoyable to read.

Starting with aesthetics, the white background sets the actual content of the flowchart as the star of the image.  Had a multicolored or imaged background been chosen, the value of the content would have been diminished.  Additionally, the branches of the flowchart are conveniently separated by color, allowing the reader to easily remember what section they are in without having to backtrack.  The rhetoric behind this appeals mostly to logos, as the organization of the chart is very efficient and economical.

The diction and comedic value of the chart gives it a very relatable feeling, something that a reader will look at and think “yeah, I have been in this situation before.”  For example, using words and phrases like “fam” and “bomb-cratered warzone” instead of “family” and “lots of family arguments,” respectively, make for a much more casual, conversation-like feel when reading it.  These parts of the chart appeal mostly to pathos.  The comedic factor of the flowchart is an appeal because it simply makes the reader feel happy while viewing it.  The choice of wording is also a key part of the rhetoric.  The casual approach to the phraseology makes me willing to believe this flowchart over one with more professional diction.  An additional appeal to pathos is in the title of the chart itself.  Because it is a self proclaimed “Practical Flow Chart,” the image sets itself up from the very beginning to be humorous as well as relatable.

This flowchart is a possibly too-honest representation of the Thanksgiving experience.  I like that it is both organized well and does not bore the reader while conveying its information through comedy and casual diction.

Lifelogs: Unimportant Yet Unnerving

I haven’t directly created a lifelog for myself; I do not actively post pictures or update my timeline consistently on Facebook, nor do i have a Twitter. However, I do use Google everyday and I am aware that it tracks my location wherever I go. My lifelog is largely the product of my mother, the one who posts the majority of things related to me to her timeline, and then shares them with me. Facebook is creating a log of me indirectly through her, but the fact remains that my life, in photo and video form, is being stored and saved electronically. My strongest formulated thought on the concept (and process) of the lifelog is that while its existence is acknowledged, it does not necessarily constitute the whole of the advancements of the Internet.

I do find the whole concept of this never-ending collection of data by networks such as Facebook and Google to be slightly creepy at times, as if the Internet itself is creating a biography, or even an electronic mugshot,  of me whenever I use it, whenever I click a link or type down a few keystrokes to assemble a search item. However, I have grown used to this logging aspect of the web, and I feel that despite the logging’s unnerving nature,  it is a useful tool to gauge not only my life as it was in years past, but how the information the Internet collects about me can help solve problems I am facing in the present.

I do not often delve into my own past, and as such, the developing lifelog technology may be wasted on me. However, this also means that I will not abuse these technologies and services in the years to come as they will undoubtedly appear like the Remem in Truth of Fact. I guess what I’m try to say, to conclude this post, is that while I do acknowledge that the Internet is creating a lifelog of me, I will probably not be the man who looks at it for guidance, or even for reminiscence–it will just be a small blurb in the back of my mind, present yet forgettable.