Fakes vs Forgeries

While the two words are seemingly interchangeable, there’s a real distinction here. A fake is a work of art that is deliberately made or altered so as to appear better, older, or other than what it is. When you go browsing round the stalls of the local flea markets,and think you have found a bargain, be cautious because you may well be looking at a fake.

A forgery on the other hand, is something made in fraudulent imitation of another thing that already exists. Throughout history, people have come forward with what they claim are lost masterpieces by Leonardo or Vermeer, for example, which they themselves have created with great skill in their studios. Such works are not fakes but forgeries.

Conservatism vs Restoration

And you thought they were the same? As you well know, works of art are fragile and often made from organic materials, so even the most humble works need careful looking after. Conservation is the creation of the environment in which a work of art is properly looked after, without undue interference and without the need to restore and repair. A good example would be not hanging paintings on the wall above a radiator.

Restoration, on the other hand, is the repairing of a work that has become damaged through accident, decay, or neglect. The science and technology of restoration are intricate,and the ethics are as complicated as medical ethics. Now much transplanting, patching up, and cleaning can be done before the object dies aesthetically or becomes unrecognizable? The best motto is “If in doubt, leave well alone,” because once a work is dead or ruined, there’s nothing you can do. A terrifying number of paintings have been ruined by over-restoration in the last 50 years, and as yet no one has properly faced up to the fact. Case in point, Mona Lisa once had eyebrows – until an unwise restorer accidentally removed them.

Sewage Plants vs Septic Tanks

While you probably don’t want to be downwind of either a sewage treatment plant or a septic tank, you probably do want to know the difference. Though both have bacteria that eat waste, the two differ in the kinds of bacteria at work. Sewage treatment plants use large, open vats with moving multivalve spigots and rely on oxygen-loving (aerobic) bacteria. Constant stirring of the waste provides the aeration needed for aerobic bacteria to eat quickly and reduce the waste to filterable forms.

Septic tanks, however, are built closed off and underground, an environment that spells death for aerobic bacteria. Septic tanks use oxygen-hating (anaerobic) bacteria, which are actually killed by oxygen. The anaerobic bacteria break down waste but are slower eaters than their aerobic cousins. Their slow-working nature and aversion to oxygen explain why septic tanks can fill up and why a hole in the tank can cause an awful stench. If the contents get out, the processing bacteria are killed and, well, yuck.

Molecular Biology vs Microbiology

There are enough sub-disciplines in biology to choke the proverbial horse. Two of the most commonly confused are molecular biology and microbiology, and while both study cells, they maintain different approaches. Molecular Biologists are like mechanics at a small-town garage – drive in any model of vehicle and they want to pop the hood to see what makes it run. Microbiologist are like dealership mechanics, working only on certain makes. Microbiologists specialize in microbes, microscopic organisms commonly called germs. They examine all aspects of single-celled organisms from beneficial and infectious bacteria to organisms like brewer’s yeast. The type of vehicle (cell) determines their work. By contrast, molecular biologists are primarily interested in the cellular process, the cellular “engine,” and may use any cell type. Because they study the way molecules interact (and all cells are made of molecules), plant, animal, and bacterial cells are fair game.

Real OJ vs Fake OJ

The orange juice market is huge. Unfortunately some processors try to cut corners by extending the juice with sugar, pulp wash, and water. But a true orange juice purist can detect the ruse with some clever science. Oxygen in nature occurs as two possible isotopes, O-16 and O-18, which differ slightly in mass. That’s right, all water is not created equal. A juice diluted with water from non-biological sources will have a different isotope distribution, and this can be detected by an instrument called a mass spectrometer. In fact, the authorities have already used this method to put the squeeze on some OJ fraud artists. They may fool the taste buds, but not the mass spectrometer.

Artificial vs Natural Flavoring

Have you ever seen the phrase “natural flavor” under a list of ingredients on the side of a food or beverage? If you haven’t, either you only shop organic or the term “natural” sounded so innocent you didn’t pay attention. Go check your cupboard again – you might be surprised. As it urns out, there’s nothing very natural about natural flavoring. In fact, it’s pretty similar to artificial flavoring. Both are made by a flavorist, a scientist who blends chemical compounds to mimic perfectly a smell or taste found in nature. Natural flavors come from the chemical extracts of natural sources (plants, animals, oils, etc.), while artificial flavors come from synthetic sources. You’re actually better off choosing artificial over natural, though, for two reasons. First, nature often sends us deadly poisons (there’s a bit of cyanide in almonds, for instance), but the artificial version is calculated to be poison-free. Second, natural flavors cost more – sometimes it’s expensive to find the right source, and consumers are willing to pay more just for the word natural on a product.

Disinflation vs Deflation

Disinflation means the rate of inflation is going down. In other words, when there’s disinflation , prices continue to rise but at a slowing pace. The United States has seen a good deal of disinflation since the late 1970s, which is usually regarded as a good thing.

Deflation, on the other hand, means that prices are going down. It’s not just lower inflation but actually negative inflation. Deflation isn’t considered a good thing at all. Like inflation, it creates uncertainty, distorts decision making, and transfers wealth in arbitrary ways. Deflation erodes the value of collateral, while the real value of loans goes up – which gives borrowers a good reason not to pay the money back. Take for example Japan, which was experienced deflation in recent years, exacerbating the country’s economic woes. Not surprisingly, Japanese banks have ended up with a lot of dud loans on their hands.

Nations, States, and Nation-States

Strictly speaking, a nation is a group of people with shared political aspirations. A state, on the other hand, is any kind of sovereign entity (a “country,” in common parlance). Thus, in the nation-state ideal, the political community is fully identified with the country (state) that it controls. Of course, secession movements the world over have shown that many nation-states are something of a mirage – yet we lazily continue to call these non-nationally united lands, such as Burma (Myanmar), nation states. Further challenging the nation-state idea is the fact that many sizable nations have little hope of obtaining their own states, the Kurds being a prime example.

Spotting BC from BCE

On the one hand you’ve got the BC and AD camp, and on the other you’ve got BCE and CE supporters. So, what’s the difference? As a young John Lennon once said about his flowing hair, “It’s just fashion.” If you grew up with BC and AD and now find yourself dealing with BCE and CE, remember that academic types change. Late in the 20th century, some historians decided that BC and AD wouldn’t do anymore. Those initials go back to Dionysius Exiguus (Denny the Little), who invented the modern calendar in 525 (AD or CE). As a Christian abbot, he keyed everything to Jesus’ birth. AD, or anno Domini (year of Our Lord), counted forward from that date. BC, or Before Christ, counted backward from that date. Recent scholars, however, felt the system was too centered on just one religion, so they changed AD to CE, for Common Era, and BC to BCE, for Before the Common Era. And wisely, they left the year numbers alone. So, doesn’t that mean that the years still count from when Jesus was born? It would, except that Denny miscalculated. Most scholars now think that Jesus was born between 4 and 6 BCE.

How to Tell a Queen From a Queen Mother

In other words, when is a queen not the queen? Cross-dressers aside, the word queen refers to a female ruler, such as England’s Queen Elizabeth I of the 1500s. The current Elizabeth’s late mother was also considered a queen, but not the queen. As George VI’s wife, she was queen consort, or spouse. When George died, his daughter Elizabeth succeeded him, so her mom (also named Elizabeth) then changed from queen consort to queen mother. While there’s no such thing as a king consort, Elizabeth was given her husband, Philip, the title “prince of the United Kingdom.

How to Spot a Mondo From a Koan

Zen Buddhism extols intuition by pushing the intellect to its boundaries, exposing the limitations of reason and language. Two Zen tools used to do just that are mondos and koans. So, what’s the difference? A mondo is a seemingly illogical series of questions and answers, for example: (Question) What is my self? (Answer) You are putting frost on top of snow.

Don’t try deductive reasoning to get an answer here, it just won’t help. However, thinking about a mondo for a long time may lead to a breakthrough, an intuitive realization of the message. A koan, on the other hand, is a Zen riddle or paradox, for example: (Question) What is the sound of one hand clapping? (Answer)

Sorry to break it to you: there is no single, clear answer to a koan. But pondering, reflecting, and meditating on it can stretch your mind to its limits and lead by intuition to wisdom.

Rap vs Hip-Hop

There’s no easy answer to this one. Some maintain that rap is a kind of music, whereas hip-hop is a lifestyle, one that includes rap, break dancing, DJing, and graffiti art. Rap pioneer and sage KRS-One says simply, “Rap is something you do, but hip-hop is something you live.” Others insist that hip-hop is a musical style distinct from rap, for very specific reasons: hip-hop has a particular beat and uses scratching and “breaks” (samples). Jus as heavy metal fans would never confuse a speed metal act with a hair band, true aficionados feel the same way about rap and hip-hop. They insist that rapping over a soul or heavy metal track could never be hip-hop. In other words, all hip-hop is rap, but not all rap is hip-hop.

Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Psychoanalyst, and Psychiatrist

Sure, they sound interchangeable, but there are definite distinctions between clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and psychiatrists. So, how do you tell them apart? A clinical psychologist has typically earned a PhD or PsyD in psychology and has completed an internship. The term psychotherapist, or therapist, is a generic term that may be applied to anyone who delivers therapy. Its use is unregulated in most states. The term psychoanalyst is associated with those who deliver psychoanalytic (Freudian-like) therapy. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in mental disorders after completion of basic training in medicine. Only psychiatrists can prescribe medications. Other who deliver therapy may include licensed social workers (LSWs), pastors, rehabilitation counselors, and anyone who has obtained a license to deliver therapy (an LPC – licensed professional counselor). People in these occupations typically have at least a master’s degree in psychology or social work.

Separating the Sunnis From the Shiites

Like every religion, Islam has its different expressions, and these days it’s become increasingly important to understand the differences between them. Most Muslims are Sunni (about 85%). They consider themselves to be in line with the most ancient understanding of Islam and focus their attention on the Quran and community and family life. The Shiites were formed as a result of a schism in Islam, one that initially concerned leadership succession but grew into a full-fledged theology of its own. Shiites believe that revelation can continue through the imams, religious leaders who speak for God, and these imams never die but wait in hiding to return to earth. There are either 7 or 12 imams, depending on the tradition. Shiites also have a messiah figure, called a Mahdi, who will bring justice to the earth. Because their first leader, Ali, was murdered, Shiites tend to understand martyrdom as a high expression of faith. Interestingly, Shiites tend to mistrust the Quran since it does not mention their leader.


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