January 18, 2021

Joan Quigley

Nancy Reagan

Joan Quigley (1927 – 2014), of San Francisco, was an astrologer best known for her astrological advice to the Reagan White House in the 1980s. Quigley was born in Kansas City, Missouri.

She was called on by First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1981 after John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of the president, and stayed on as the White House astrologer in secret until being outed in 1988 by ousted former chief of staff Donald Regan. Continue reading

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January 12, 2021

Cosmic Latte

Glazebrook

Cosmic latte is the average color of the universe, found by a team of astronomers from Johns Hopkins University. In 2001, Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry determined that the average color of the universe was a greenish white, but they soon corrected their analysis in a 2002 paper in which they reported that their survey of the light from over 200,000 galaxies averaged to a slightly beigeish white. The hex triplet value for cosmic latte is #FFF8E7.

As light from distant galaxies reaches the Earth, the average ‘color of the universe’ (as seen from Earth) tends towards pure white, due to the light coming from the stars when they were much younger and bluer. Continue reading

January 7, 2021

Foundations of Geopolitics

Aleksandr Dugin

‘The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia’ is a 1997 geopolitical book by Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian political analyst and strategist known for his fascist views. His book has had influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites and has been used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.

Its publication was well received in Russia. Powerful Russian political figures subsequently took an interest in Dugin, a Russian eurasianist, fascist, and nationalist who has developed a close relationship with Russia’s military academies. Continue reading

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January 2, 2021

Rocking Chair

Michael Thonet

rocking chair or rocker is a type of chair with two curved bands (also known as rockers) attached to the bottom of the legs, connecting the legs on each side to each other. The rockers contact the floor at only two points, giving the occupant the ability to rock back and forth by shifting their weight or pushing lightly with their feet. Rocking chairs are most commonly made of wood. Some rocking chairs can fold.

Rocking cradles long predate rocking chairs; an example exists from antiquity, found in the ruins of Herculaneum. Michael Thonet, a German craftsman, created the first bentwood rocking chair in 1860. This design is distinguished by its graceful shape and its light weight. These rocking chairs were influenced by Greek and Roman designs as well as Renaissance and colonial era artistry. Continue reading

January 1, 2021

Chia Pet

Bob Ross

Chia Pets are American styled terracotta figurines used to sprout chia, where the chia sprouts grow within a couple of weeks to resemble the animal’s fur or hair.

A range of generic animals has been produced, including a turtle, pig, puppy, kitten, frog, and hippopotamus. Cartoon characters have also been licensed, including Garfield, Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, Shrek, The Simpsons, and SpongeBob. Additionally, there are Chia Pets depicting real people, including Barack Obama and Bob Ross. Continue reading

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December 28, 2020

Squaring the Circle

Straightedge and compass construction

Squaring the circle is a problem proposed by ancient geometers. It is the challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle by using only a finite number of steps with compass and straightedge. The difficulty of the problem raised the question of whether specified axioms of Euclidean geometry concerning the existence of lines and circles implied the existence of such a square.

It had been known for decades that the construction would be impossible if π were transcendental (not an algebraic irrational number or the root of any polynomial with rational coefficients), which was first proved in 1882 by Lindemann–Weierstrass theorem. The expression ‘squaring the circle’ is sometimes used as a metaphor for trying to do the impossible. Continue reading

December 22, 2020

Cozy Bear

Cozy Bear

Cozy Bear, classified by the U.S. as advanced persistent threat APT29, is a Russian hacker group believed to be associated with one or more intelligence agencies of Russia.

In June 2016, Cozy Bear was implicated alongside the hacker group Fancy Bear in the Democratic National Committee cyber attacks. While the two groups were both present in the DNC’s servers at the same time, they appeared to be unaware of the other, each independently stealing the same passwords and otherwise duplicating their efforts. A CrowdStrike forensic team determined that while Cozy Bear had been on the DNC’s network for over a year, Fancy Bear had only been there a few weeks. Cozy Bear’s more sophisticated tradecraft and interest in traditional long-term espionage suggest that the group originates from a separate Russian intelligence agency. Continue reading

December 21, 2020

Dogecoin

Doge

Dogecoin [dowzh-coin] (Ð) is a cryptocurrency featuring a likeness of the Shiba Inu dog from the ‘Doge’ Internet meme as its logo. Introduced as a ‘joke currency’ in 2013, Dogecoin quickly developed its own online community and reached a capitalization of $60 million within months.

It’s market capitalization peaked in 2018 at $2b; today it is pegged at $600m. In July 2020 the price of Dogecoin spiked following a TikTok trend aiming to get the coin’s price to $1. Continue reading

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December 17, 2020

Going Postal

Going Postal by Slug Signorino

Going postal is an American slang phrase referring to becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment. The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder.

Between 1970 and 1997, more than 40 people were killed by current or former employees in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage. Between 1986 and 2011, workplace shootings happened roughly twice per year, with an average of 11.8 people killed per year. Continue reading

December 15, 2020

Yoshoku

Tonkatsu

In Japanese cuisine, yoshoku [yoh-shoo-koo] (‘western food’) refers to a style of Western-influenced cooking which originated during the Meiji Restoration (1868, a period of rapid industrialization and Westernization). These are primarily Japanized forms of European dishes, often featuring Western names, and usually written in Japanese. It is an example of fusion cuisine. Another, more contemporary, term in Japan for the Western food is ‘mukokuseki’ (‘no-nationality’ cuisine).

At the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, national seclusion was eliminated and the Meiji Emperor declared Western ideas helpful for Japan’s future progress. As part of the reforms, the Emperor lifted the ban on red meat and promoted Western cuisine, which was viewed as the cause of the Westerners’ greater physical size. Yōshoku thus relies on meat as an ingredient, unlike the typical Japanese cuisine at the time. Additionally, many of the Westerners who started to live in Japan at that time refused to touch traditional Japanese food, and so their private Japanese chefs learned how to cook them Western-style cuisine, often with a Japanese spin. Continue reading

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December 8, 2020

All Models Are Wrong

Ideal gas law

All models are wrong‘ is a common aphorism in statistics; it is often expanded as ‘All models are wrong, but some are useful.’ It is usually considered to be applicable to not only statistical models, but to scientific models generally. The aphorism recognizes that statistical or scientific models always fall short of the complexities of reality but can still be of use.

The aphorism is generally attributed to the statistician George Box, although the underlying concept predates Box’s writings. He offered the ‘ideal gas law’ as an example: ‘PV = RT relating pressure P, volume V and temperature T of an ‘ideal’ gas via a constant R is not exactly true for any real gas, but it frequently provides a useful approximation and furthermore its structure is informative since it springs from a physical view of the behavior of gas molecules.’ Continue reading

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November 30, 2020

Physics Envy

Mathematicism

The term physics envy is a phrase used to criticize modern writing and research of academics working in areas such as ‘softer sciences,’ liberal arts, business studies, and humanities. The term argues that writing and working practices in these disciplines have overused, confusing jargon and complicated mathematics to seem more ‘rigorous’ and more like mathematics-based subjects like physics.

The success of physics in ‘mathematicizing’ itself, particularly since Isaac Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica,’ is generally considered remarkable and often disproportionate compared to other areas of inquiry. ‘Physics envy’ refers to the envy (perceived or real) of scholars in other disciplines for the mathematical precision of fundamental concepts obtained by physicists. Continue reading

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