This Week In Culture: October 26–November 1, 2019

From ancient sculptures to cutting-edge telepathy — with a roundabout detour to the World Series — we've roped together some of the most gutsy vocabulary from the week's arts, tech, and sports stories.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. circuitous
    deviating from a straight course
    Now their long, circuitous journeys will end in Game 7 of the World Series.
    – New York Times (Oct 29, 2019)
    The Washington Nationals won Game 6 of the World Series, forcing a Game 7 against the Houston Astros. Houston is hoping for its second championship in three years; the Nationals have never won one and the last time a Washington team won was 95 years ago. Circuitous, coming from the same root as circle, is often paired with "route" or "trip". Think of it as meaning "the long way": not a straight line.
  2. contingent
    a gathering of persons representative of some larger group
    Series 10 was the third since the show moved from BBC One to Channel 4, and featured a decidedly younger contingent of hopefuls.
    BBC (Oct 29, 2019)
    Spoiler alert! The Great British Baking Show finished its tenth season, with David Atherton winning the finale. Of the three finalists, he was the only one to never win star baker on any of the previous episodes. Next season, stay tuned for the Great British Brexit Show, where contestants will yell a lot and then storm off in different directions, with nothing accomplished and no winner declared.
  3. discrete
    constituting a separate entity or part
    The absence of a signal within a discrete period of time was the instruction not to turn the block.
    Scientific American (Oct 29, 2019)
    In a recent experiment, scientists have networked multiple human brains. Two people, wired to electroencephalographs (EEGs), played a simple video game. A third person, unable to see the game, relied only on electrical stimuli from the other two brains to make a decision. The third person made the right choice 80 percent of the time. Because the human brain is the most powerful computer we know of, the possibility of networking multiple brains has scientists — and zombies — super excited.
  4. endemic
    native to or confined to a certain region
    Conspiratorial thinking is endemic in such circles, and we readily fall victim to the phenomenon of illusory truth, rendering us much more likely to accept falsehoods when repeatedly exposed to them.
    – Scientific American (Oct 28, 2019)
    With the rollout of 5G networks, some people are worried about possible adverse health effects. But there's no scientific evidence that RFR (radio frequency radiation), which is extremely low-powered, poses a health threat to humans. Endemic comes from the same Greek root demos, meaning "people", where we get democracy. Something endemic to a place is native, indigenous.
  5. ensnare
    take or catch as if in a trap
    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social service will no longer sell political advertising — an issue that has ensnared Facebook in recent weeks.
    Variety (Oct 30, 2019)
    While Facebook takes heat from politicians, commentators, and its own employees for allowing false ads, Twitter announced that it won't sell political ads at all. The decision was announced, fittingly, via a tweet. A snare is a trap, made with a loop of rope or wire that tightens suddenly around an animal's leg, so to be ensnared is to be trapped, caught. The word comes to us from German.
  6. inflection
    a deviation from a course or position
    What is the inflection point, do you think?
    The Verge (Oct 29, 2019)
    As digital currency becomes more prevalent, and Facebook's plans for Libra face scrutiny by governments, many experts are weighing in on the challenges that technology presents to banking, finance, and encryption. How will digital money make our lives easier while reducing the risk of fraud and instability? There are no antibiotics to treat an inflection; it's not an illness, it's a bending or course change.
  7. moniker
    a familiar name for a person
    Which seemed unlikely, since the first ingredient in this product is something called “mycoprotein,” which is a more palatable moniker for “fungal protein.”
    Seattle Times (Oct 28, 2019)
    Tyson, the second-largest chicken company in the world, introduced a line of meatless nuggets made with pea protein. As consumers look to eat less meat, companies are jumping on the meatless bandwagon. And since Impossible Burgers and similar products have made a big impact on the market, meat alternatives are becoming big business. Moniker means "nickname", but we're not sure where it originated.
  8. senescent
    growing old
    This might account for a portion of the numerous lysosomes that are a hallmark of senescent cells.
    Nature (Oct 28, 2019)
    Scientists have discovered that some types of cancer cells made senescent by chemotherapy will devour neighboring healthy cells, which may cause some cancers to spread. Senescent cells are so called because they've aged and no longer divide like healthy ones. The word comes from the Latin senescere, "to grow old," which is itself rooted in senex, "old," and gives us other age-related words like senile, senate, and senior.
  9. veritable
    not counterfeit or copied
    It includes scores of busts and a veritable who’s who of classical mythology, dating from the fifth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D.
    New York Times (Oct 28, 2019)
    96 pieces from the Torlonia collection, a private trove of ancient sculpture, is going on public view in Rome for nine months before beginning a tour of museums around the world. The art spans nearly a thousand years, from the peak of Ancient Greek society around 500 BCE through the Hellenistic period in the 4th century CE. The Italian government is working with the Torlonia foundation on plans for a permanent museum. Veritable comes to us from veritas, Latin for "truth".
  10. visceral
    relating to or affecting the internal organs
    The scene was not as visceral or breathtaking as East Lake, the moment not as cathartic or emotional as Augusta.
    Golf Digest (Oct 28, 2019)
    Tiger Woods, recovering from his fifth knee surgery, won the Zozo Championship in Japan. His 82nd victory on the PGA tour, the win ties Sam Snead's all-time record. As a result, Woods, who will be the U.S. captain in December's President's Cup, is expected to pick himself for the team. Viscera refers to your organs, so if you have a visceral reaction to something, you feel it in your gut.
Created on October 30, 2019 (updated November 1, 2019)

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