Archive for November 17th, 2010

November 17, 2010

Numbers Station

numbers station

Numbers stations are shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin. They generally broadcast artificially generated voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters (sometimes using a spelling alphabet), tunes or Morse code. They are in a wide variety of languages and the voices are usually female, though sometimes male or children’s voices are used. Numbers stations appear and disappear over time (although some follow regular schedules), and their overall activity has increased slightly since the early 1990s.

Evidence supports popular assumptions that the broadcasts are used to send messages to spies. This usage has not been publicly acknowledged by any government that may operate a numbers station, but in 1892, the United States tried the Cuban Five for spying for Cuba. The group had received and decoded messages that had been broadcast from a Cuban numbers station. In 2009, the United States charged Walter Kendall Myers with conspiracy to spy for Cuba and receiving and decoding messages broadcast from a numbers station operated by the Cuban Intelligence Service.

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November 17, 2010

Pyramid Scheme

pyramid scheme

A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than from any real investment or sale of products or services to the public. Pyramid schemes are a form of fraud. Pyramid schemes are illegal in many countries and have existed for at least a century, some with variations to hide their true nature.

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November 17, 2010

Multi-Level Marketing

mlm

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a downline of distributors and a hierarchy of multiple levels of compensation. Other terms for MLM include network marketing, direct selling, and referral marketing. Although the products and company are supposed to be marketed directly to consumers and potential business partners by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, critics have charged that most MLMs are pyramid schemes.

MLM companies have been a frequent subject of criticism as well as the target of lawsuits. Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes, price-fixing of products, high initial start-up costs, emphasis on recruitment of lower-tiered salespeople over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring salespeople to purchase and use the company’s products, potential exploitation of personal relationships which are used as new sales and recruiting targets, complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members’ enthusiasm and devotion. Not all MLM companies operate the same way, and MLM groups have persistently denied that their techniques are anything but legitimate business practices.

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November 17, 2010

Luna

luna

Luna, also called the ‘Stafford Giant,’ is a 600 to 1000-year-old redwood tree in Humboldt County, California, that activist Julia Butterfly Hill lived in for 738 days beginning in 1997. The name Luna was given to it in 1997 by  a group of Earth First! members, who built a small platform from salvaged wood to serve as a tree-sit platform. Hill occupied the tree in order to save the grove from being clear-cut by the Pacific Lumber Company. Although many refer to the tree as ‘she,’ giant redwoods produce both male and female cones, and technically are neither male nor female, but monoecious.

In November of 2000, an unknown vandal used a chainsaw to cut halfway through the tree. Civil engineer Steve Salzman designed a system to help the tree withstand the extreme windstorms which frequent the Northern California hillside, at speeds which peak between 60 and 100 miles per hour. Tree climbers installed a steel cable ‘collar’ around Luna’s main trunk 100 feet above the ground. Four cables radiate from this collar and are attached with turnbuckles to four remote anchor points 100-150 feet away.

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November 17, 2010

Zener Cards

zener

Zener [zeh-ner] cards are cards used to conduct experiments for extra-sensory perception (ESP), most often clairvoyance. Perceptual psychologist Karl Zener designed the cards in the early 1930s for experiments conducted with his colleague, parapsychologist J. B. Rhine. Originally, tests for ESP were conducted using a standard deck of playing cards. There are just five different Zener cards: a hollow circle (one curve), a Greek cross (two lines), three vertical wavy lines (or ‘waves’), a hollow square (four lines), and a hollow five-pointed star. There are 25 cards in a pack, five of each design.

When Zener cards were first used, they were made out of a fairly thin translucent white paper. Several subjects or groups of subjects scored very highly until it was discovered that they had often been able to see the symbols through the backs of the cards. A redesign made it impossible to see the designs through the cards under any conditions. A subsequent deck featured an illustration of a building at Duke University on its reverse side, but the use of a non-symmetric reverse design allowed the deck to be exploited as a one-way deck.

November 17, 2010

Missing White Woman Syndrome

Missing white woman syndrome (MWWS) or missing pretty girl syndrome is a vernacular term for the alleged disproportionately greater degree of coverage in television, radio, newspaper and magazine reporting of a misfortune, most often a missing person case, involving a young, attractive, white, middle-class (or above) woman, compared with cases concerning a missing male, or missing females of other ethnicities or economic classes. Notable cases: Chandra Levy, Elizabeth Smart, Laci Peterson, and Natalee Holloway.

November 17, 2010

TriFoiler

trifoiler

The Hobie TriFoiler is the fastest production sailboat ever created with a top speed of around 35 mph. Designed by the brothers Greg and Dan Ketterman, this trimaran has two sails, one on each ama, and hydrofoils that lift the hulls out of the water at speed. It lifts on the foils at wind speeds between 10 and 11 mph (18 km/h) and quickly accelerates to twice that speed in seconds.

The TriFoiler’s high price-tag ($12,900), fragility, and usage limited to winds between 10 and 25 mph (40 km/h) with low waves, led the Hobie Cat Company to discontinue production. Approximately 30 Trifoilers were built prior to production starting at Hobie in 1995 and another 170 were produced by Hobie before halt of production in 1999.

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