Metaphors and Beyond

Herein lies the trail of many a non-literal comparison . . .
Advance at your own risk.

In the beginning there were waffles … in Eugene.

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Comparison:

"Theologians call it the first-mover. For anything to exist, something must first act. For Portland’s booming footwear and apparel industry, the first-mover was Phil Knight."

In Context:

"Theologians call it the first-mover. For anything to exist, something must first act. For Portland’s booming footwear and apparel industry, the first-mover was Phil Knight.

Portland had other apparel companies before Knight and Bill Bowerman shook hands in the 1960s and started what became Nike, but no company in Oregon history has ever had the gravitational pull of Nike. The $27.8 billion, Fortune 500 company has become a magnet for the entire industry and is largely responsible for dozens of footwear and apparel companies relocating or moving offices to Portland.

Most impressive about Nike’s ascendancy to the corporate elite, Knight started it when little existed in Portland to support startups. The venture capital industry didn’t exist and there were no business accelerators when he first stacked boxes of shoes in his parents’ basement in southeast Portland’s Eastmoreland neighborhood.”

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Kish, Matthew. “Exclusive: Phil Knight on the Early Days of Nike and Why He Chose Portland.” Portland Business Journal 19 Sept. 2014. Web.

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Thanks to Matthew Kish for this Genesis-ish comparison about the waffle pattern heard ‘round the world.

Sergey and the Pope (could be a major motion picture).

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Comparison:

"Sergey [Brin] thought it [an April Fools day joke on Google] was overdone (akin to the pope saying you’re overly religious), but encouragingly, he said it had potential."

In Context:

"April was right around the corner. My first April at Google. My first Google April Fools’ joke.

April Fools’ Day would become a perennial black hole in my calendar, a gravity well into which my attention would be sucked from increasingly great distances in time. Sergey, on the other hand, loved April Fools’. When it came to April Fools’, he dynamited decorum and put moderation to the torch.

My idea for our first prank was ‘ante-temporal search,’ a breakthrough development that anticipated user requests. The tone was heavily geekish, but Susan [Wojcicki] liked it. Sergey [Brin] thought it was overdone (akin to the pope saying you’re overly religious), but encouragingly, he said it had potential. An engineer pinned the name ‘MentalPlex’ on our new mind-reading technology.

That settled, I hashed out the text for a link on the home page and a dozen error messages that would be displayed randomly if someone entered a query in the MentalPlex search box.

Someone pointed out that with our newly launched foreign-language interfaces, we could extend the joke beyond English. ‘One of the error messages should say that MentalPlex has detected foreign thoughts,’ she suggested, ‘and then we can translate the interface text on the results page into German.’

The joke went up on Friday night. Soon Google users would see a spinning cartoon spiral on our homepage inviting them to try MentalPlex. I was relieved that we’d made the deadline. I was also terrified.”

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Edwards, Douglas. “The Beginning.” [excerpt from book: I’m Feeling Lucky] WSJ 16 July 2014. Web.

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Thanks to Douglas Edwards for the Sergey slam and to SPA of Kyoto Japan for finding the comparison!

Fine, fine line—Just Fine! Danger is where you find it.

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Comparison:

"As the sport [Women’s collegiate soccer] grows, there is a fine line between being one of a kind and being an endangered species."

In Context:

"Before he built Stanford into one of the best programs in the country and won a national championship in 2011, Paul Ratcliffe was the head coach at Saint Mary’s College. Every year the Gaels played the Pilots, and every year the Gaels lost. When the two schools meet this fall, in fact, Saint Mary’s will still be looking for its second win since 1990 in the annual series. But Ratcliffe was around for the first and only win in that span, when his Saint Mary’s team stunned Portland 1-0 at Merlo Field in 2001.

‘I remember after the game my players crying on the field because this is a place that’s so hard to win,’ Ratcliffe said. ‘Clive Charles was still the coach at the time, and hardly anyone came here and won a game. So for me, this is one of the top soccer environments in the country. The fan support they have is truly incredible.’

‘Kudos to them for what they’re doing here. It’s great for women’s soccer to keep building.’

And therein rests the conundrum. As the sport grows, there is a fine line between being one of a kind and being an endangered species.”

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Hays, Graham. “Portland Soccer is One of a Kind, But Can it Last?” ESPNW 12 Sept. 2014. Web.

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Many thanks to Graham Hays for the article and the endangered comparison. Thanks also to Prof. Lovejoy for tweeting about this thoughtful article.

Blooming Beauty

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Comparison:

"‘A lot of kids walk out of here [Powell’s Books coffeeshop] with masterpieces.  Four-hour Michelangelos."

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In Context:

"He [Arnold Drake World] makes more than $50 in donations on a good day – ‘Most of these flowers I can slam out in an hour, depending on how much showing off I do’ — but World says doesn’t sweat sales.  He has a website and a DVD, and he’s working on a second book:

‘I could care less about making money.  It’s data research.  What they gravitate to.  I give away a lot of flowers.  A lot of kids walk out of here with masterpieces.  Four-hour Michelangelos.’”

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Duin, Steve. “A Paper Flower, Forever at Arnold World’s Fingertips.” Oregonian 14 Sept. 2014. A-4.

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While it’s not at all unusual go find a comparison that uses a famous artist or musician (e.g., Rembrandt, Matisse, Bach, or Beethoven) as a point of reference to laud a artwork or an artist, the “four-hour” adjective attached to the noun “Michelangelos” moves this comparison into the territory called by Fauconnier and Turner conceptual “blending.” While utilizing a familiar reference point it nonetheless points us to a time factor that would have left the famous Italian artist on the ceiling.

Thanks to Arnold Drake World for the comparison and to Steve Duin for capturing it.

Find Arnold Drake World’s work at: http://bit.ly/1wuuV9w

dreamcometruecareeradvice:

"All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Metaphor or proposition? You decide (and be sure to register with IRB if you decide wrong).

dreamcometruecareeradvice:

"All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Metaphor or proposition? You decide (and be sure to register with IRB if you decide wrong).

(via goodideaexchange)

Entangled is as entangled does: Thanks George!

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Comparison:

"‘For we all of us, grave or light, get our thoughts entangled in metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of them.’"

In Context:

"My [Paula Marantz Cohen] first impulse is to be put off by this. As the product of an old-fashioned liberal arts education and an old-fashioned idea of the self, I am inclined to see this new assessment-driven model as shallow and soulless. But I also wonder if my horror is misplaced—or at least narrow-minded. I am reminded of a cautionary statement from George Eliot’s ‘Middlemarch’: ‘For we all of us, grave or light, get our thoughts entangled in metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of them.’ Are notions of privacy, the unconscious and the soul metaphors in which I am entangled?"

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Cohen, Paula Marantz. “We are All Quants Now.” WSJ 13 Sept. 2014. A-11.

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Thanks to Prof. Cohen for reminding us of Eliot’s paradoxical glancing blow against metaphors (which of course uses a tangled metaphor to make the point (Disney would be proud)).

5 Reasons Why Metaphors Can Improve the User Experience - Six Revisions

Many thanks to Sabina Idler for these focused thoughts on metaphor (and other pertinent non-literal comparisons)! For more see: http://bit.ly/14kBj1T

#enjoy #metaphor

Magic Beans, digital clocks (can Apple be far behind?)

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Comparison:

"Twenty years ago, audiophiles actually paid $495 for a digital alarm clock that made their stereos sound better. It faded fast, mostly because it was embarrassing to admit you’d bought ridiculous magic beans like these. “

In Context:

"Twenty years ago, audiophiles actually paid $495 for a digital alarm clock that made their stereos sound better. It faded fast, mostly because it was embarrassing to admit you’d bought ridiculous magic beans like these. But today, $100 usb cables continue to be sold, because, maybe, just maybe, something is going on here. We’re not sure we actually know enough about dielectrics and the skin effect to be sure.

Argue all you want about whether or not you want to be buying or selling placebos, but it’s quite likely that the right placebo with the right story can dramatically increase certain outcomes.

If you want to improve performance, the right placebo is often the safest and cheapest way to do so. The opportunity is to find one that’s likely to work, and to market it in a way that’s ethical and effective.”

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Godin, Seth. “Crucial Elements for the Placebo Effect.” Seth [Godin’s] Blog on Marketing, Tribes and Respect.”  06 Sept. 2014. Web.

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Thanks to Seth Godin for pointing us back down the beanstalk (did you leave anything in the giant’s house?).

AP Calculus on a hook pattern?

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Comparison:

"For the Oregon Ducks’ young, deep and still-figuring-things-out receiving corps, preparing for Michigan State’s vaunted secondary after FCS South Dakota is a bit like skipping ahead to AP calculus after learning algebra.

In Context:

For the Oregon Ducks’ young, deep and still-figuring-things-out receiving corps, preparing for Michigan State’s vaunted secondary after FCS South Dakota is a bit like skipping ahead to AP calculus after learning algebra.

For three consecutive seasons, the Spartans’ physical, self-adjusting “quarters” press coverage has ranked among the nation’s 11 best pass defenses — allowing opponents an average of 176.9 yards per game at worst during that span.

Oregon’s coaches say it’s a system that’s both zone and man-to-man — a confoundingly complex system disguised out of nearly the same formation each time.

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Greif, Andrew. “Spartans will test UO receivers.” Oregonian 06 Sept. 2014. C-1. [c-1 and c-4]

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And no calculators (at least on the field!). Thanks to Andrew Greif for the numeric comparison leading up to the game.

I hate metaphors. That’s why my favorite book is Moby Dick. No frou-frou symbolism. Just a good, simple tale about a man who hates an animal.