Archive for November 18th, 2011

November 18, 2011

The Man

irs

The Man‘ is a slang phrase that may refer to the government or to some other authority in a position of power. In addition to this derogatory connotation, it may also serve as a term of respect and praise. The phrase ‘the Man is keeping me down’ is commonly used to describe oppression. The phrase ‘stick it to the Man’ encourages resistance to authority, and essentially means ‘fight back’ or ‘resist,’ either openly or via sabotage.

The term ‘the Man’ in the American sense dates back to the late 19th Century. In the Southern U.S. states, the phrase came to be applied to any man or any group in a position of authority, or to authority in the abstract. From about the 1950s the phrase was also an underworld code word for police, the warden of a prison or other law enforcement or penal authorities.

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November 18, 2011

Polybius

Polybius

Polybius is a supposed arcade game featured in an Internet urban legend. According to the story, the Tempest-style game was released to the public in 1981, and drove its players insane, causing them to suffer from intense stress, horrific nightmares, and even suicidal tendencies. A short time after its release, it supposedly disappeared without a trace. Not much evidence for the existence of such a game has ever been discovered. Polybius gets its name from the Greek historian who’s works are are relevant to modern cryptography.

According to the story, an unheard-of new arcade game appeared in several suburbs of Portland, Oregon in 1981, something of a rarity at the time. The game, ‘Polybius,’ proved to be incredibly popular, to the point of addiction, and lines formed around the machines, often resulting in fighting over who played next. This was followed by clusters of visits from men in black. Rather than the usual marketing data collected by company visitors to arcade machines, they collected some unknown data, allegedly testing responses to the psychoactive machines. The players themselves suffered from a series of unpleasant side-effects, including amnesia, insomnia, nightmares, night terrors, and even suicide in some versions of the legend.

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November 18, 2011

Fictional Currency

galactic credit

quatloo

A fictional currency is some form of defined or alluded currency in works of fiction. The names of such units of currency are sometimes based on extant or historic currencies (e.g. ‘Altairian dollars’ or ‘Earth yen’) while others, such as ‘Kalganids’ in Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series, may be wholly invented. A particularly common type, especially in science fiction, is electronically managed ‘credits.’ In some works of fiction, exchange media other than money are used. These are not currency as such, but rather nonstandard media of exchange used to avoid the difficulties of ensuring ‘double coincidence of wants’ in a barter system.

Authors have to take care when naming fictional currencies because of the associations between currency names and countries; recognizable names for currencies of the future may be used to imply how history has progressed, but would appear out of place in an entirely alien civilization. Historical fiction may need research. Writers need not explain the exact value of their fictional currencies or provide an exchange rate to modern money; they may rely on the intuitive grasp of their readers, for instance that one currency unit is probably of little value, but that millions of units will be worth a lot.

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November 18, 2011

Collaborative Consumption

whats mine is yours

The term collaborative consumption is used to describe an economic model based on sharing, swapping, bartering, trading or renting access to products as opposed to ownership. Technology and peer communities are enabling these old market behaviors to be reinvented in ways and on a scale never possible before.

From enormous marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging sectors such as social lending (Zopa), peer-to-peer travel (CouchSurfing, Airbnb) and car sharing (Zipcar or peer-to-peer RelayRides), Collaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what people consume but how they consume it.

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