Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011

Loophole

wagon

arrow loops

A loophole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a system, such as a law or security, which can be used to circumvent or otherwise avoid the intent, implied or explicitly stated, of the system. Loopholes are searched for and used strategically in a variety of circumstances, including taxes, elections, politics, the criminal justice system, or in breaches of security, or a response to one’s civil liberties.

Loopholes are distinct from ‘lacunae’ (situations where no law exists to address a particular issue), although the two terms are often used interchangeably. In a loophole, the law exists, but can be legally circumvented due to a technical defect.

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October 31, 2011

Carlos Slim

carlos slim

Carlos Slim (b. 1940) is a Mexican businessman, and the richest person in the world, worth more than US$60 billion. He owns the Mexican phone company Telmex, which provides a telephone service to most Mexicans. After graduating, Slim expanded on his father’s ownings of real estate in Mexico City. By age 26, he was worth $40 million. During the 1980s and 1990s, Slim bought several companies that were bankrupt or being privatized. Slim owns about 7% of the New York Times.

The Mexican magnate’s growing fortune has caused a controversy because it has been amassed in a developing country where per capita income does not surpass $14,500 a year, and nearly 17% of the population lives in poverty. Critics claim that Slim is a monopolist, pointing to Telmex’s control of 90% of the Mexican landline telephone market. Slim’s wealth is the equivalent of roughly 5% of Mexico’s annual economic output. Telmex, of which 49.1% is owned by Slim and his family, charges among the highest usage fees in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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October 31, 2011

Straight Edge

sober living for the revolution

Straight edge is a subculture of hardcore punk whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco, and other recreational drugs. It was a direct reaction to the sexual revolution, hedonism, and excess associated with punk rock. For some, this extends to not engaging in promiscuous sex, following a vegetarian or vegan diet, and not using caffeine or prescription drugs.

The term was coined by the 1980s hardcore punk band Minor Threat in their song ‘Straight Edge.’ Since then, a wide variety of beliefs and ideas have been incorporated into straight edge including vegetarianism, animal rights, communism, and Hare Krishna beliefs. In many parts of the United States, straight edge is treated as a gang by law enforcement officials.

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October 31, 2011

Fag Hag

karen walker

Fag hag is a gay slang phrase referring to a woman who either associates mostly or exclusively with gay and bisexual men, or has gay and bisexual men as close friends. The phrase originated in gay male culture in the United States and was historically an insult.

Some women who associate with gay men object to being called fag hags, while others embrace the term. The male counterpart, for men who have similar interpersonal relationships with gay and bisexual men is fag stag, part of hag-ism, the identification of a person with a group—usually united in terms of sexuality, gender identity, or shared sex—of which he or she is not officially a member.

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October 31, 2011

Beard

Beard is a slang term describing a person who is used, knowingly or unknowingly, as a date, romantic partner (Boyfriend or Girlfriend), or spouse either to conceal infidelity or to conceal one’s sexual orientation.

The term can be used in heterosexual and homosexual contexts, but with increasing acceptance of gay culture, references to beards are seen in mainstream television and movies as well as other entertainment.

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October 31, 2011

Lavender Marriage

cruise and holmes

Lavender marriage is a type of male-female marriage of convenience in which the couple are not both heterosexual and conceal the homosexual or bisexual orientation of one or both spouses. In gay slang, the heterosexual spouse in a lavender marriage is referred to as a ‘beard’ for a wife.

Although there have been a number of prominent lavender marriages in history, the phrase itself came into colloquial use during the 1920s, when the imposition of morality clauses into the contracts of Hollywood actors caused some closeted stars to enter into marriages of convenience to protect their public reputations and preserve their careers. 

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October 31, 2011

Stumbling on Happiness

happiness by Christopher Serra

Stumbling on Happiness is a 2006 non-fiction book by Daniel Gilbert, the central thesis of which is that, through perception and cognitive biases, people imagine the future poorly, in particular what will make them happy. He argues that imagination fails in three ways: Imagination tends to add and remove details, but people do not realize that key details may be fabricated or missing from the imagined scenario. Imagined futures (and pasts) are more like the present than they actually will be (or were). And imagination fails to realize that things will feel differently once they actually happen — most notably, the psychological immune system will make bad things feel not so bad as they are imagined to feel.

The advice Gilbert offers is to use other people’s experiences to predict the future, instead of imagining it. It is surprising how similar people are in much of their experiences, he says. He does not expect too many people to heed this advice, as our culture, accompanied by various thinking tendencies, is against this method of decision making. Also, Gilbert covers the topic of ‘filling in’or the frequent use of patterns, by the mind, to connect events which we do actually recall with other events we expect or anticipate fit into the expected experience. This ‘filling in’ is also used by our eyes and optic nerves to remove our blind spot or scotoma, and instead substitute what our mind expects to be present in the blind spot.

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October 31, 2011

Irony Mark

bazin

Although in the written English language there is no standard way to denote irony or sarcasm, several forms of punctuation have been proposed. Among the oldest and frequently attested are the ‘percontation point’ invented by English printer Henry Denham in the 1580s, and the irony mark, furthered by French poet Alcanter de Brahm in the 19th century. Both of these marks were represented visually by a backwards question mark.

These punctuation marks are primarily used to indicate that a sentence should be understood at a second level. A bracketed exclamation point and/or question mark are also sometimes used to express irony or sarcasm. Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase to indicate that it does not signify its literal or conventional meaning.

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October 31, 2011

Interrobang

interrobang

The interrobang [in-ter-uh-bang], ‽ (often represented by ?! or !?), is a nonstandard punctuation mark used in various written languages and intended to combine the functions of the question mark (also called the ‘interrogative point’) and the exclamation mark or exclamation point (known in printers’ jargon as the ‘bang’). The glyph is a superimposition of these two marks. A sentence ending with an interrobang asks a question in an excited manner, expresses excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or asks a rhetorical question.

Many writers, especially in informal writing, have used multiple punctuation marks to end a sentence expressing surprise and question. Like multiple exclamation marks and multiple question marks, such strings are poor style in formal writing. Writers had combined question marks and exclamation marks (along with using multiple punctuation marks) for decades before the ‘invention’ of the interrobang. They were prevalent in informal media such as print advertisements and comic books.

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October 29, 2011

DaruDar

darudar

DaruDar is an international community where people give away things, their skills and time to each other for absolutely free requiring nothing in return. The community is based on principles of self-organization. Main condition of participation is following the rules of gift giving and communication set on the site. The global mission of DaruDar is to create a widespread social practice of gift-giving, to make it a daily and routine act. Words like ‘lot,’ ‘exchange,’ ‘freebie,’ ‘junk,’ or ‘crap’ are considered obscene on DaruDar. The service was launched in Russian in 2008. It was created by four friends who had worked with Habrahabr project earlier, a collaborative blog. They were inspired by flashmobs, Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin and Gandhi.

Darudar users call themselves comembers (‘community members’). DaruDar gift is a thing, skill or service of a comember that he/she wants to give away to someone. In order to offer a gift a comember creates a publication describing what he gives. Other comembers can wish it. Later the gift giver chooses someone to promise their gift. Every gift can be commented, wished, promised and thanked. Only those offers which simultaneously satisfy all three of the following conditions and cannot exist without them should be considered gifts on Darudar: It can be wished; It can be promised; and It can be given.

October 29, 2011

CouchSurfing

couchsurfing

CouchSurfing is a corporation based in San Francisco that offer its users hospitality exchange and social networking services. It recently suffered significant criticism from thousands of users after becoming a for-profit corporation after having been been a non-profit for many years. Couchsurfing is a neologism referring to the practice of moving from one friend’s house to another, sleeping in whatever spare space is available, floor or couch, generally staying a few days before moving on to the next house.

The CouchSurfing project was conceived by Casey Fenton in 1999. According to Fenton’s account, the idea arose after finding an inexpensive flight from Boston to Iceland. Fenton randomly e-mailed 1,500 students from the University of Iceland asking if he could stay. He ultimately received more than 50 offers of accommodation. On the return flight to Boston, he began to develop the ideas that would underpin the CouchSurfing project.

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October 29, 2011

Mickey Hart

marimba

Mickey Hart (b. 1943), real name Michael Steven Hartman, is an American percussionist and musicologist. He is best known as one of the two drummers of the rock band the Grateful Dead. He and fellow Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann earned the nickname ‘the rhythm devils.’ Before joining the Grateful Dead, Hart and his father, Leonard Hart, a champion rudimental drummer, owned and operated Hart Music, selling drums and musical instruments in San Carlos, California. Hart joined the Grateful Dead in 1967, and left in 1971 when he extricated himself from the band, due to conflict between band management and Mickey’s father. During his sabbatical, in 1972, he recorded the album ‘Rolling Thunder.’ He returned to the Dead in 1974, and remained with the group until their official dissolution in 1995. Collaboration with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead continues, under the band name The Dead.

Alongside his work with the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart has flourished as a solo artist, percussionist, and the author of several books. In these endeavors he has pursued a lifelong interest in ethnomusicology and in world music. His travels and his interest in all things percussion-related led him to collect percussion instruments, and to collaborate with percussion masters the world over.

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