GREASE background and analysis by Scott Miller The year isa pivotal moment in American cultural history, when rock and roll was giving birth to the Sexual Revolution and everything in America culture was about to be turned upside down. Record companies were releasing more than a hundred singles every week and the country was about to explode. Originally a rowdy, dangerous, over-sexed, and insightful piece of alternative theatre, Grease was inspired by the rule-busting success of Hair and shows like it, rejecting the trappings of other Broadway musicals for a more authentic, more visceral, more radical theatre experience that revealed great cultural truths about America. An experience largely forgotten by most productions of the show today.
Lawrence THE HANDLE, which varies in length according to the height of its user, and in some cases is made by that user to his or her specifications, is like most of the other parts of the tool in that it has a name and thus a character of its own.
I call it the snath, as do most of us in the UK, though variations include the snathe, the snaithe, the snead, and the sned. Onto the snath are attached two hand grips, adjusted for the height of the user. On the bottom of the snath is a small hole, a rubberized protector, and a metal D-ring with two hex sockets.
Into this little assemblage slides the tang of the blade. This thin crescent of steel is the fulcrum of the whole tool. From the genus blade fans out a number of ever-evolving species, each seeking out and colonizing new niches.
I also have a couple of ditch blades which, despite the name, are not used for mowing ditches in particular, but are all-purpose cutting tools that can manage anything from fine grass to tousled brambles and a bush blade, which is as thick as a billhook and can take down small trees.
These are the big mammals you can see and hear. Beneath and around them scuttle any number of harder-to-spot competitors for the summer grass, all finding their place in the ecosystem of the tool. None of them, of course, is any use at all unless it is kept sharp, really sharp: You need to take a couple of stones out into the field with you and use them regularly—every five minutes or so—to keep the edge honed.
And you need to know how to use your peening anvil, and when. When the edge of your blade thickens with overuse and oversharpening, you need to draw the edge out by peening it—cold-forging the blade with hammer and small anvil.
Probably you never master it, just as you never really master anything. That lack of mastery, and the promise of one day reaching it, is part of the complex beauty of the tool.
Etymology can be interesting. Scythe, originally rendered sithe, is an Old English word, indicating that the tool has been in use in these islands for at least a thousand years.
But archaeology pushes that date much further out; Roman scythes have been found with blades nearly two meters long. Basic, curved cutting tools for use on grass date back at least ten thousand years, to the dawn of agriculture and thus to the dawn of civilizations.
Like the tool, the word, too, has older origins. The Proto-Indo-European root of scythe is the word sek, meaning to cut, or to divide. Sek is also the root word of sickle, saw, schism, sex, and science. Some books do that, from time to time, and this is beginning to shape up as one of them.
By his own admission, his arguments are not new. But the clarity with which he makes them, and his refusal to obfuscate, are refreshing. I seem to be at a point in my life where I am open to hearing this again. Here are the four premises with which he begins the book: Technological progress is carrying us to inevitable disaster.
Only the collapse of modern technological civilization can avert disaster. What is needed is a new revolutionary movement, dedicated to the elimination of technological society. I have a tendency toward sentimentality around these issues, so I appreciate his discipline.
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if I do end up agreeing with him—and with other such critics I have been exploring recently, such as Jacques Ellul and D. Lewis and Ivan Illich—I am going to have to change my life in quite profound ways. It has a broadband connection and all sorts of fancy capabilities I have never tried or wanted to use.
I mainly use it for typing. You might think this makes me a hypocrite, and you might be right, but there is a more interesting observation you could make.
This, says Kaczynski, is where we all find ourselves, until and unless we choose to break out.
In his own case, he explains, he had to go through a personal psychological collapse as a young man before he could escape what he saw as his chains. He explained this in a letter in I knew what I wanted:Colophon · The template for the Web edition of this document was marked up by Nick Montfort in valid XHTML with a valid CSS2 style sheet.
It is screen-friendly and printer-friendly; a style sheet for printer output is provided which browsers should use automatically when users print the document.
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