Word Dissection: Flangiprop

Thanks to Daily Prompt for the idea!

WordPress has become so popular in the last few years that it now has its own dictionary to rival the great Oxford English Dictionary, but there was an unusual entry hidden among the internet slang; flangiprop.

So what does it mean?

Looking at the word from an amateur etymologist’s point of view it seems in a rather germanic way 3 seperate words have been put together; flan-, gi- and prop-.

Flan: We all know this is a form of tart, probably from the old germanic word flado meaning offering cake or the dutch word vla meaning baked custard. However, it also used to be an uncommon word for an arrow, and although its origins are unknown it is believed the original word had a meaning similar to ‘splinter’, and until around 5 Centuries ago in Scottland it meant an arrow-like marking on a map.

Gi-: Obviously this isn’t a word but could refer to the word gib, which was the name for a kind of 16th Century iron hook and in the 19th Century meant a piece of wood/metal etc which held something else in position. Though it is more likely it refers in this case to the word gibe, an unusual spelling of jibe, meaning agree/fit, and speculation suggests itstems from different pronounciation of the word chime in the sense that it means to be in harmony with something.

Prop: An object used in a performance originated as a shortened version of properties in around the 1400’s. Yet it also has an alternative definition of support, possibly from the german verb pfropfen which nowadays carries the sense of to plug, graft or cork.

After all of that, the best definition of flangiprop would be an agreement to support, and therefore more abstractly encourage, the eating of flans and other cake, or more simply, someone who is against healthy eating.

Basically, the definition of a flangiprop is….

homer_simpson

…Homer Simpson of course!

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Why we should love leeches!

From the Daily Post: Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.

This post is inspired by my unfourtunate encounters with leaches in the indonesian rainforest which we all grew to despise during our stay, but if you can get over their unpleasant blood-sucking habit, here’s a few reasons they should be admired, even if they can’t be cherished…

– They are widely misunderstood – many people believe their is only species – the blood-sucking one, but in fact they are over 700! In this respect they’re like a little lost puupy just wanting to be loved.

– They are not heartless creatures – they in fact look after their young by building nests, carrying their brood on their bodies, or even carrying them in an internal pouch, the same way marsupials like kangaroos do.

– Doctors were once known as leeches.

– Leeches have been used for thousandss of years as a cure to pretty much any disease, but in modern medicine they have a variety of medical including providing treatments for arthritis, blood-clotting disorders, varicose veins and other circulatory disorders and are also used in modern plastic and reconstructive surgery.

– Not all leeches are attracted to human blood – some are only attracted to specfici animals such as snails and many other small invertebrates.

– Leeches are like fish in that they come in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes, and so arguably, in their own way, they are beautiful creatures who have mastered the art of camoflage.  

– They are one of the world’s hermaphroditic organisms, meaning they contain both male and female sex organs so can fetilise their own eggs – another example of how they have evolved to survive

– The leech’s segmented body , strong muscular structure and unique pair of suckers are brilliant examples of how evolution and natural selection have created an organism perfectly adapted to its goal.

– It’s fun to move your finger around just out of the leeche’s reach and watch as it follows your finger around with its amazing sense of smell – this game produces the same joy akin to that taunting a cat by pointing a laser around a room and watching it try to catch the dot the laser makes.

– The largest leech ever discovered was 18 inches long – imagine the halloween pranks you could pull if you found a leech that size!

– Leeches or leech shaped and coloured things can be used as bait to catch many types of fish, including trout.

– They are an important part of the aquatic foodchain – invertebrates such asdragonfly or damselfly nymphs and vertebrate predators including fish, amphibians, and waterfowl all count leeches as a regular food source.

– Although most leeches rely on chemo- or mechanoreceptors to hunt their pray, one species, Motobdella montezuma, can track its pray using passive sonar, in that it listens out for vibrations and the system is so sophisticated it can determine the size of the prey so the leech doesn’t attack a too large or too small organism.

– They provide a fantastic metaphor for ex’s who can’t let go as well as other obsessive types.

– If you get bitten by one you should burn it immediately, encase it bites someone else and passes on any diseases in your blood, so you can take pleasure in your revenge!

 

Hexaflexagons!

 From the Daily Post: You have three hundred words to justify the existence of your favorite person, place, or thing. Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!

For anybody who hasn’t seen any of youtuber Vihart’s videos before, she recently created a series of interesting videos about hexaflexagons; essentially a thin strip of paper folded into a hexagon by first folding it into a line of equilateral triangles, then following the folds in the triangles to make a hexagon.

 

So what? Well, they’re not just any old hexagon, you can turn them inside out (or flexing) to find different sides, and doing this in a certain way means you disocver new sides. Logic would tell you that it would have two sides, but you can make ones with 3 or even 6 sides.

 

This feature is why they should exist – they’re a fun way of teaching maths to children because it’s visual and interactive – you can see for yourself the effects of maths in real-time in your hands, instead of on a whiteboard or screen.

 

Even more useful is their unusual property, with the six sided hexaflexagon, of having the same sides in different states – to understand better what I mean by this video. This allows children to be introduced to diagrams, in this case a Feynman diagram, and helps them to develop their lateral thinking.

Still not convinced hexaflexagons are worth saving? They can also be used to help exaplin A2 Chemistry, in particular the topic of chirality, because depending on how you twisted the original piece of paper, you get a non-superimposable mirror image hexaflexagon – one way the flaps face clockwise, and in the other they face antoclockwise.

 

Above all, they are fun and can be used to improve artistic ability – what you draw on one face will appear different on another so there begins the challenge of a pattern that looks good on all the faces.

You can even make hexaflexagons out of tortillas for a delicious yet mathematical combination!

 

I hope I’ve convinced you that hexaflexagons are worth saving, and don’t forget to cast your vote in the poll below to protect the humble hexaflexagon!

Popularity

From Daily Prompt – When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?

Being a geeky, socially awkward teen severely lacking in the social skills required in today’s society leaves you pretty much at the edge of any group of friends you may have. There is always one person in each year group that no-one seems to like, but there isn’t always a very good reson for it – sometimes they’re just a bit quiet or shy. Then there’s always another person who everyone seems to like, including teachers, even if they do something wrong, All of this is to do with reputation and popularity. In year 12 we were told there is no such thing as the popular crowd, and were asked the question who are these ‘popular’ people popular with? Maybe in reality they really don’t exist, but to me there is always a popular crowd – a group of people you just know you can’t simply walk up to and strike up a conversation. Sadly, looks contribute a lot to your initial reputation, as well as what posessions you have – even young children can be rutheless, I remember in reception (a school class of 4 – 5 year olds for those of you from outside of the UK) one boy was completely ignored for a while because his bag was ‘uncool’.

I think the character of Glinda from the musical Wicked sums up the term nicely in the song ‘Popular‘;

“When I see depressing creatures, with unprepossessing features, I remind them on their own behalf to think of celebrated heads of state or specially great communicators. Did they have brains or knowledge? Don’t make me laugh! They were popular! Please – it’s all about popular! It’s not about aptitude, it’s the way you’re viewed, so it’s very shrewd to be very, very popular like me!”

‘Popularity is a crime from the moment it is sought; it is only a virtue where men have it whether they will or no.’ said George Savile, and I think this is rather true. There are the people who are popular because they are genuinely nice, and those in society who are popular only after fighting ruthlessly to be there.  
So what is the conclusion to be drawn from this? You’ll still have people who don’t like you whether you are popular or not so it’s best not to care at all and focus on the more important things in life such as family and friendships.