January 21, 2020

Fuck, Marry, Kill

Ipsative

Fuck, Marry, Kill is a social forced choice question and answer game in which one person poses three names of people known to the other, either of people known in their personal lives or of celebrities, and the other person then has to decide which of the three they would like to have sex with it, which one they would marry, and which one they would kill.

A 2009 ‘Wonkette’ piece suggested that the rules of the game included an understanding that the player can not have sex with the person they marry, and that the person they do choose to have sex with, they can only have sex with one time. The game has existed for decades, and has found its way into popular culture.

January 18, 2020

NOBUS

NSA ANT

NOBUS (‘nobody but us’) are security vulnerabilities which the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) believes that only it can exploit.

As such, the agency sometimes chooses to leave such vulnerabilities open, in order to exploit them against NSA’s targets. More broadly, it refers to the notion that some signals intelligence capabilities are so powerful or otherwise inaccessible that only the NSA will be able to deploy them, though recent analyses suggest that this advantage may be under stress. Continue reading

January 8, 2020

Revolution 9

Helter Skelter

Paul is dead

Revolution 9 is a sound collage that appeared on the Beatles’ 1968 eponymous release (popularly known as the ‘White Album’). The composition, credited to Lennon–McCartney, was created primarily by John Lennon with assistance from George Harrison and Yoko Ono. Lennon said he was trying to paint a picture of a revolution using sound. The composition was influenced by the avant garde style of Ono as well as the musique concrète works of composers such as Edgard Varèse and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

British music critic Ian MacDonald remarked that ‘Revolution 9’ evoked the era’s revolutionary disruptions and their repercussions, and thus was culturally ‘one of the most significant acts the Beatles ever perpetrated,’ as well as ‘the world’s most widely distributed avant garde artifact.’ Continue reading

January 6, 2020

Capitol Hill’s Mystery Soda Machine

Capitol Hill Seattle

Capitol Hill’s mystery soda machine was a vending machine in Capitol Hill, Seattle, that had been in operation since at least the late 1990s. It is unknown who stocked the machine. In 2018, the machine disappeared and a message was posted to its Facebook page stating ‘Going for a walk, need to find myself. Maybe take a shower even.’

A drink could be chosen using one of the ‘? mystery ?’ buttons and the dispensed drinks were rare cans, such as those not ordinarily available in the US or that have not been in circulation since the 1980s. Examples included Mountain Dew White Out, raspberry-flavored Nestea Brisk, Hawaiian Punch, and Grape Fanta. The locksmith, in front of whose business the machine stood, claims to have no knowledge of who operated it.

December 19, 2019

Big Dumb Object

Ringworld

In discussion of science fiction, a Big Dumb Object (BDO) is any mysterious object, usually of extraterrestrial or unknown origin and immense power, in a story which generates an intense sense of wonder by its mere existence. To a certain extent, the term deliberately deflates this.

The term’s coinage is attributed to book reviewer Roz Kaveney, but it was popularized by its tongue-in-cheek inclusion in ‘The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction’ by Peter Nicholls in 1993. Continue reading

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December 16, 2019

OK Boomer

OK Boomer

OK Boomer is a catchphrase and internet meme that gained popularity among younger cohorts throughout 2019, used to dismiss or mock attitudes stereotypically attributed to the baby boomer generation. The phrase first drew widespread attention in a 2019 TikTok video in response to an older man, though the phrase was coined years before that. It is considered by some to be ageist.

The phrase is a pejorative retort used to dismiss or mock perceived narrow-minded, outdated, negatively-judgemental, or condescending attitudes of older people, particularly baby boomers. The term has been used as a retort for perceived resistance to technological change, climate change denial, marginalization of minorities or opposition to younger generations’ ideals. Continue reading

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December 10, 2019

Wavy Gravy

Nobody for President

Hugh Nanton Romney (b. 1936), known as Wavy Gravy, is an American entertainer and peace activist best known for his role at Woodstock, as well as for his hippie persona and countercultural beliefs. He has reported that his moniker was given to him by B.B. King at the Texas International Pop Festival in 1969.

Romney has founded or co-founded several organizations, including the activist commune, the Hog Farm, and later, as Wavy Gravy, Camp Winnarainbow and the Seva Foundation. He founded the Phurst Church of Phun, a secret society of comics and clowns that aimed to support ending of the Vietnam War through political theater, and has adopted a clown persona in support of his political activism, and more generally as a form of entertainment work, including as the official clown of the Grateful Dead. Continue reading

December 6, 2019

Milkshaking

Anti-fascism

Milkshaking is the act of throwing milkshakes and other drinks at targets as a means of political protest in a manner similar to egging or pieing.

The trend gained popularity in the UK during the 2019 European Parliament election and was used against right-wing and far-right political candidates, such as Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage, and Carl Benjamin, as well as other members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Brexit Party. Continue reading

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December 1, 2019

Mansplaining

Rebecca Solnit

Mansplaining is a pejorative term meaning ‘(of a man) to comment on or explain something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner.’ Lily Rothman, of ‘The Atlantic,’ defines it as “‘explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman.’

In its original use, mansplaining differed from other forms of condescension in that it is rooted in the assumption that a man is likely to be more knowledgeable than a woman. However, it has come to be used more broadly, often applied when a man takes a condescending tone in an explanation to anyone, regardless of the age or gender of the intended recipients: a ‘man ‘splaining’ can be delivered to any audience. Continue reading

November 27, 2019

Gongshi

Taihu stone

Gongshi also known as ‘scholar’s rocks,’ are naturally occurring or shaped rocks which are traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars. As rocks are broadly fractal (geology journals require a scale to be included in images of rocks), the small rocks can resemble the larger landscape.

Scholars’ rocks can be any color, and contrasting colors are not uncommon. The size of the stone can also be quite varied: scholars’ rocks can weigh either hundreds of pounds or less than one pound. The term also identifies stones which are placed in traditional Chinese gardens. Chinese scholar’s rocks influenced the development of Korean suseok (viewing stones) and Japanese suiseki. Continue reading

November 24, 2019

Cicada 3301

ciphertexts

Cicada 3301 is a nickname given to an organization that on three occasions has posted a set of puzzles to recruit codebreakers from the public. The first internet puzzle started on January 4, 2012 on 4chan and ran for approximately one month. A second round began one year later on January 4, 2013, and a third round following the confirmation of a fresh clue posted on Twitter on January 4, 2014.

Much speculation exists as to its function. It has been speculated that the puzzles are a recruitment tool for the NSA, CIA, MI6, a ‘Masonic conspiracy’ or a cyber mercenary group. Others have claimed Cicada 3301 is an alternate reality game. No company or individual has taken credit for it or attempted to monetize it, however. Continue reading

November 22, 2019

Luther Blissett

Q

Luther Blissett is a multiple-use name, an ‘open pop star’ informally adopted and shared by hundreds of artists and activists all over Europe and the Americas since 1994. The pseudonym first appeared in Bologna, Italy, in mid-1994, when a number of cultural activists began using it for staging a series of urban and media pranks and to experiment with new forms of authorship and identity.

From Bologna the multiple-use name spread to other European cities, such as Rome and London, as well as countries such as Germany, Spain, and Slovenia. Sporadic appearances of Luther Blissett have been also noted in Canada, the United States, Finland and Brazil. Continue reading