Archive for November, 2012

November 30, 2012

Moka Pot

Bialetti

The moka pot, also known as a stove top espresso machine, is a coffee maker which produces coffee by passing hot water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. It was first patented by inventor Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. Bialetti Industrie continues to produce the same model under the name ‘Moka Express.’

The moka pot is most commonly used in Europe and in Latin America. It has become an iconic design, displayed in modern industrial art and design museums.

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November 30, 2012

David Rees

david rees

David Rees (b. 1972) is a cartoonist and humorist whose best-known work combines bland clip art with outrageous ‘trash talk’ to incongruous effect. The comic strips have achieved wide popularity and some controversy.

Rees grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and was an avid reader of ‘Rex Morgan, M.D.’ comics. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, and drew comics for the school’s newspaper. His office-cubicle humor is partly inspired by his experience working in a basement for Citicorp; he was later a part time fact-checker for ‘Maxim’ magazine and ‘Martha Stewart Weddings’ magazine, until he was laid off. Rees’s best-known and most controversial comic is ‘Get Your War On.’

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November 30, 2012

Heisenbug

heisenbug

Heisenbug is a whimsical computer programming jargon term for a software bug (glitch) that seems to disappear or alter its behavior when one attempts to study it.

The term is a pun on the name of Werner Heisenberg, the physicist who first asserted the observer effect of quantum mechanics, which states that the act of observing a system inevitably alters its state.

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November 30, 2012

Rapture of the Nerds

singularity

‘Rapture of the Nerds’ is a derisive term for the technological singularity (a theorized future period of superhuman intelligence). Some critics assert that no computer or machine will ever achieve human intelligence, while others hold that the definition of intelligence is irrelevant if the net result is the same.

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker stated in 2008, ‘There is not the slightest reason to believe in a coming singularity. The fact that you can visualize a future in your imagination is not evidence that it is likely or even possible. Look at domed cities, jet-pack commuting, underwater cities, mile-high buildings, and nuclear-powered automobiles—all staples of futuristic fantasies when I was a child that have never arrived. Sheer processing power is not a pixie dust that magically solves all your problems.’

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November 30, 2012

The South Butt

never stop relaxing

The South Butt, LLC was a clothing and accessories company founded in 2007 by Jimmy Winkelmann, a then 16-year-old student at Chaminade College Preparatory School. The company dissolved in 2011.

Winkelmann claimed the company was a parody of the The North Face, an American outdoor product company.

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November 29, 2012

Tragedy of the Anticommons

Michael Heller

The tragedy of the anticommons is a type of coordination breakdown, in which a single resource has numerous rightsholders who prevent others from using it, frustrating what would be a socially desirable outcome. It is a mirror-image of the older concept of tragedy of the commons, in which numerous rightsholders’ combined use exceeds the capacity of a resource and depletes or destroys it.

The concept covers a range of coordination failures including patent thickets, submarine patents, and nail houses. Overcoming these breakdowns can be difficult, but there are assorted means, including eminent domain, laches, patent pools, or other licensing organizations.

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November 29, 2012

Tragedy of the Commons

public domain by Frits Ahlefeldt

In economics, the tragedy of the commons is the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to their long-term best interests.

In 1968, ecologist Garrett Hardin explored this social dilemma in ‘The Tragedy of the Commons,’ published in the journal ‘Science.’ Central to Hardin’s article is an example (first sketched in an 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd) involving medieval land tenure in Europe, of herders sharing a common parcel of land, on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze.

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November 29, 2012

Detection Dog

detection dog

A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to and works at using its senses (almost always the sense of smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, or blood. Hunting dogs that search for game and search dogs that search for missing humans are generally not considered detection dogs.

There is some overlap, as in the case of human remains detection dogs (sometimes called cadaver dogs), trained to detect human remains. They are also used for drug raids to find where the drugs are. In the state of California, dogs are trained to detect the Quagga Mussel on boats at public boat ramps, as it is a invasive species.

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November 29, 2012

Cyborg Anthropology

Amber Case

Cyborg anthropology is the discipline that studies the interaction between humanity and technology from an anthropological perspective. The topic originated as a sub-focus group within the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in 1993. The sub-group was very closely related to two other academic disciplines, STS (Science, technology and society) and the Society for the Social Studies of Science.

Historian and feminist Donna Haraway’s 1985 ‘Cyborg Manifesto’ could be considered the founding document of cyborg anthropology by first exploring the philosophical and sociological ramifications of the term. More recently, Amber Case has been responsible for setting up the Cyborg Anthropology Wiki.

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November 29, 2012

The Singularity Is Near

Posthuman

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology’ is a 2005 update of Raymond Kurzweil’s 1999 book ‘The Age of Spiritual Machines’ and his 1990 book ‘The Age of Intelligent Machines.’ In it, as in the two previous versions, Kurzweil attempts to give a glimpse of what awaits us in the near future.

He proposes a coming technological singularity (a period of rapid change), and how we would thus be able to augment our bodies and minds with technology. He describes the singularity as resulting from a combination of three important technologies of the 21st century: genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (including artificial intelligence).

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November 29, 2012

Merry Pranksters

The Merry Pranksters was a cohort that formed around American author Ken Kesey in 1964 and sometimes lived communally at his homes in California and Oregon. The group promoted the use of psychedelic drugs. Their motto was ‘Never Trust a Prankster.’

Kesey and the Merry Pranksters are noted for the sociological significance of a lengthy road trip they took in the summer of 1964, traveling across the United States in a psychedelic painted school bus enigmatically and variably labeled ‘Further.’ Their early escapades were chronicled by Tom Wolfe in ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.’ Wolfe also documents a notorious 1966 trip on Further from Mexico through Houston, stopping to visit Kesey’s friend, novelist Larry McMurtry. Kesey was in flight from a drug charge at the time.

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November 28, 2012

How to Speak Hip

Del Close

How to Speak Hip is a spoken-word comedy album by improv pioneer Del Close and John Brent, released by Mercury Records in 1959. The album is designed as a satire of language-learning records, where the secret language of the ‘hipster’ is treated as a foreign language.

Part of the joke, however, is that it actually does a good job of describing the Beat Generation/Beatnik sub-culture: Basic concepts such as ‘cool’ and ‘uncool’ are taught, as well as vocabulary building (‘dig,’ ‘dig it,’ ‘dig yourself, baby,’ ‘dig the chick,’ ‘dig the cat,’ ‘What a drag!’).

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