April 17, 2017

Idiot Plot

Burn After Reading

In literary criticism, an idiot plot is ‘a plot which is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot’ and where the story would otherwise be over if this were not the case. It is a narrative where its conflict comes from characters not recognizing, or not being told, key information that would resolve the conflict, often because of plot contrivance.

The only thing that prevents the conflict’s resolution is the character’s constant avoidance or obliviousness of it throughout the plot, even if it was already obvious to the viewer, so the characters are all ‘idiots’ in that they are too obtuse to simply resolve the conflict immediately. Continue reading

April 4, 2017

Barkley Marathons

Gary Lazarus Lake Cantrell

The Barkley Marathons is an ultramarathon trail race held in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee. Runners may elect a ‘fun run’ of 60 miles or the full course of 100 miles. The race is limited to a 60-hour period, and takes place in late March or early April of each year.

With 54,200 feet of accumulated vertical climb, the 100-mile run is considered to be one of the more challenging ultramarathons held in the United States, if not the world. In some years, no one has completed the entire course. The Barkley starts any time from midnight to noon on race day, with one hour till race start signaled by blowing a conch. The race officially begins when a cigarette is lit by the race director. Continue reading

March 13, 2017

Absurdism

myth of sisyphus

Absurdism is a type of philosophy centered on the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. The conflict itself is called ‘the absurd,’ by absurdist philosophers.

Absurdists, most notably French philosopher Albert Camus, believe that when human beings realize this fundamental absurdity the most sensible response was to  accept the absurd, and also to keep trying to overcome it. He believed that a human being could become happy by finding meaning in their relationship with the absurdity of their existence. In acknowledging the absurdity of seeking any inherent meaning, but continuing this search regardless, one can be happy, gradually developing meaning from the search alone. Continue reading

March 7, 2017

Bicycle Pedal

Shimano Pedaling Dynamics

The bicycle pedal is the part of a bicycle that the rider pushes with their foot to propel the bicycle. It provides the connection between the cyclist’s foot or shoe and the bike’s drivetrain. The rider pushes the pedals, which turns the crank arms, which power the gearset, which propels the wheels.

Pedals usually consist of a spindle that threads into the end of a crank arm and a body, on which the foot rests or is attached, that is free to rotate on bearings with respect to the spindle. Continue reading

February 28, 2017

Loyalty Business Model

loyalty card

Net Promoter

The loyalty business model is a business model used in strategic management in which company resources are employed so as to increase the loyalty of customers and other stakeholders in the expectation that corporate objectives will be met or surpassed.

Customers are said to have a ‘zone of tolerance’ corresponding to a range of service quality between ‘barely adequate’ and ‘exceptional.’ A single disappointing experience may not significantly reduce the strength of the business relationship if the customer’s overall perception of quality remains high, if switching costs are high, if there are few satisfactory alternatives, if they are committed to the relationship, and if there are bonds keeping them in the relationship. Continue reading

February 26, 2017

Contrarian

SuperFreakonomics

A contrarian is a person that takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be. A contrarian investing style is one that is based on identifying, and speculating against, movements in stock prices that reflect changes in the sentiments of the majority of investors.

Contrarian journalism is characterised by articles and books making counterintuitive claims, or attacking what is said to be the conventional wisdom (a phrase attributed to Canadian economist and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith) on a given topic. A typical contrarian trope takes the form, ‘everything you know about topic X is wrong.’ Continue reading

February 23, 2017

Buck Buck

buck buck

Buck buck (also known as ‘Johnny-on-the-Pony’) is a children’s game with several variants. A very physical version of the game involves one group of players that huddles together. An opposing team of players climbs on their backs and attempts to make the pile collapse.

A less violent version has a player climbing on an opponent’s back and guessing the number of certain objects that are out of sight. As early as the 16th century, children in Europe and the Near East played Buck, Buck, which had been called ‘Bucca Bucca quot sunt hic?’ Pieter Bruegel’s painting “Children’s Games” (1560) depicts children playing a variant of the game. Continue reading

February 21, 2017

Vatnik

vatnik

Vatnik (Russian: ‘cotton-padded jacket’), a derivative of and often shortened to ‘vata’ (Russian: ‘batting’), is a derogatory social slang neologisms in Russian and Ukrainian languages, and an internet meme used in reference to individuals with pro-Russian jingoist and chauvinist views. In the original meaning, ‘vatnik’ (also ‘telogreika’) is a cheap cotton-padded jacket.

The meme was created by Anton Chadskiy under the pseudonym ‘Jedem das Seine.’ His associated picture of an anthropomorphic square-shaped quilted jacket similar to the cartoon character ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ was first posted on Russian social network ‘VK’ September 9, 2011. The meme went viral in 2012, but became much more widespread in society after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine started in 2014. Chadskiy, claiming he feared political persecution, left Russia in late 2014. Continue reading

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February 20, 2017

Troll Army

pepe

The ‘web brigades,’ also known in English media as the ‘troll army,’ are state-sponsored anonymous Internet political commentators and trolls linked to the Russian government.

Participants report that they are organized into teams and groups of commentators that participate in Russian and international political blogs and Internet forums using sockpuppets (fraudulent accounts) and large-scale orchestrated trolling (harassment) and disinformation campaigns to promote pro-Putin and pro-Russian propaganda. It has also been found that Wikipedia articles were targeted by Russian internet propaganda activities. Continue reading

February 16, 2017

David Ogilvy

david ogilvy by lars leetaru

David Ogilvy (1911 – 1999) was an advertising tycoon, founder of Ogilvy & Mather, and known as the father of advertising. Trained at the Gallup research organisation, he attributed the success of his campaigns to meticulous research into consumer habits.

His best-selling book ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’ is one of the most popular and famous books on advertising, and there is a strong suspicion that Ogilvy is the inspiration for the suave creative director ‘Don Draper’ in the TV series ‘Mad Men.’ Continue reading

February 14, 2017

Buck Passing

willard duncan vandiver

Buck passing, or passing the buck, is the act of attributing to another person or group one’s own responsibility. It is often used to refer to a strategy in power politics whereby a state tries to get another state to deter or possibly fight an aggressor state while it remains on the sidelines.

The expression is said to have originated from poker, in which a marker or counter (such as a knife with a buckhorn handle during the American Frontier era) was used to indicate the person whose turn it was to deal. If the player did not wish to deal he could pass the responsibility by passing the ‘buck,’ as the counter came to be called, to the next player. Continue reading

February 7, 2017

Fake News

Kellyanne Conway by Jason Adam Katzenstein

lie

Fake news is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation, be it via the traditional news media or via social media, with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically. It often employs eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated news-stories in order to increase readership and online sharing. Profit is made in a similar fashion to ‘clickbait’ (content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue at the expense of quality or accuracy) and relies on ad-revenue generated regardless of the veracity of the published stories.

Easy access to ad-revenue, increased political polarization and the ubiquity of social media, primarily the Facebook newsfeed have been implicated in the spread of fake news. Anonymously hosted websites lacking known publishers have also been implicated, because they make it difficult to prosecute sources of fake news for slander. With a large portion of Americans using Facebook or Twitter to receive news, in combination with increased political polarization, filter bubbles, the tendency for readers to mainly read headlines – fake news was implicated in influencing the 2016 American presidential election. Continue reading