Archive for December, 2016

December 29, 2016

Bloom County

milo bloom

academia waltz

Bloom County is an American comic strip by Berkeley Breathed which ran from 1980 until 1989. It examined events in politics and culture through the viewpoint of a fanciful small town in Middle America, where children often have adult personalities and vocabularies and where animals can talk.

The fictional setting of ‘Bloom County’ served as a recurring backdrop for the comic and its sequels, although the nature of the setting was frequently altered. In the comics, the county is presented as a stereotypical American midwestern small town. The small town setting was frequently contrasted with the increasing globalization taking place in the rest of the world; though Bloom County contained the likes of farmers and wilderness creatures by default, it was frequented by Hare Krishnas, feminists, and rock stars.

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December 20, 2016

Post-truth Politics

fake news

brexit

Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of ‘secondary’ importance.

While this has been described as a contemporary problem, there is a possibility that it has long been a part of political life, but was less notable before the advent of the Internet. In the novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ George Orwell cast a world in which the state is daily changing historic records to fit its propaganda goals of the day. Orwell is said to have based much of his criticism of this on Soviet Russian practices.

December 15, 2016

Kompromat

wikileaks

fancy bear

Kompromat is the Russian term for compromising materials about a politician or other public figure. Such materials can be used to create negative publicity, for blackmail, or for ensuring loyalty. Kompromat can be acquired from various security services, or outright forged, and then publicized by paying off a journalist. Widespread use of kompromat has been one of the characteristic features of politics in Russia and other post-Soviet states.

One recent development has been the creation of specialized kompromat websites, most famously compromat.ru, which will, for a fee of several hundred dollars, publish any piece of kompromat on anyone. Such websites are occasionally temporarily blocked by Russian ISPs and their owners harassed by government agencies. The possibility that the email accounts of senior Republican Party leaders have been hacked by Russian intelligence services worries some observers that President Donald Trump and members of his administration will be vulnerable to manipulation by the Russian government.

December 14, 2016

Fancy Bear

spear-phishing

pawn storm

Fancy Bear is a cyber espionage group that cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has linked to the GRU, a Russian military intelligence agency. Likely operating since the mid-2000s, Fancy Bear’s methods are consistent with the capabilities of nation-state actors. The threat group is known to target government, military, and security organizations, especially NATO-aligned and Transcaucasian states (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan).

Fancy Bear is thought to be responsible for cyber attacks on the German parliament, the French television station ‘TV5Monde,’ the White House, NATO, and the Democratic National Committee. It’s behavior has been classified as an ‘advanced persistent threat.’ They employ zero-day (previously unknown) vulnerabilities and use spear phishing (forged websites and emails) and malware to compromise targets.

December 13, 2016

Whataboutism

And you are lynching Negroes

Whataboutism is a term describing a propaganda technique used by the Soviet Union in its dealings with the Western world during the Cold War. When criticisms were leveled at the Soviet Union, the response would be ‘What about…’ followed by the naming of an event in the Western world.

It represents a case of ‘tu quoque’ (Latin: ‘you also’) or the ‘appeal to hypocrisy,’ a logical fallacy which attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with that position, without directly refuting or disproving the opponent’s initial argument.

December 8, 2016

Pizzagate

pizzalluminati by erick nelson

Pizzagate is a debunked conspiracy theory which alleged that emails from John Podesta (Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman), which were leaked by WikiLeaks, tied a number of pizzerias and members of the Democratic Party to a child-sex ring. The theory has been discredited by the District of Columbia Police Department who characterized it as a ‘fictitious conspiracy theory,’ and determined to be fake by multiple organizations including Snopes.com, The New York Times, and Fox News.

Several sites noted that purported evidence cited by the conspiracy theory’s proponents had been fabricated or taken from entirely different sources and photoshopped to appear as if they supported the conspiracy. Images of children of family and friends of the pizzeria’s staff were taken from social media sites such as Instagram and claimed to be photos of purported victims.

December 7, 2016

Deregulation

baby bells

airline deregulation

Deregulation is the process of removing or reducing state regulations (rules and laws, etc.), typically in the economic sphere. It is the undoing or repeal of governmental controls on the economy. It became common in advanced industrial economies in the 1970s and 1980s, as a result of new trends in economic thinking about the inefficiencies of government regulation, and the risk that regulatory agencies would be controlled by the regulated industry to its benefit, and thereby hurt consumers and the wider economy.

The stated rationale for deregulation is often that fewer and simpler regulations will lead to a raised level of competitiveness, therefore higher productivity, more efficiency and lower prices overall. Opposition to deregulation may usually involve apprehension regarding environmental pollution and environmental quality standards (such as the removal of regulations on hazardous materials), financial uncertainty, and constraining monopolies.

December 5, 2016

Shock Value

jay hawkins

howard stern

Shock value is the potential of an action (as a public execution), image, text, or other form of communication to provoke a reaction of sharp disgust, shock, anger, fear, or similar negative emotions. ‘Off-color humor’ is an Americanism used to describe jokes, prose, poems, and blue comedy that deals with topics considered to be in poor taste or overly vulgar by the prevailing morality of a culture. Most commonly labeled as ‘off-color’ are acts concerned with a particular ethnic group or gender.

Other off-color topics include domestic abuse, profanity, ‘toilet humor,’ national inferiority, ‘dead baby jokes.’ Generally, the intent of off-color humor is to induce laughter by evoking a feeling of shock and surprise. In this way, off-color humor is related to other forms of postmodern humor, such as the anti-joke (a joke that is intentionally not funny, or lacking in intrinsic meaning).

December 4, 2016

Rope-a-dope

zaire-74

The rope-a-dope is a boxing fighting style commonly associated with Muhammad Ali in his 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ match against George Foreman. In competitive situations other than boxing, rope-a-dope is used to describe strategies in which one party purposely puts itself in what appears to be a losing position, lulling an opponent into a trap.

According to Ali’s trainer for the Angelo Dundee, the idea for the strategy used against Foreman was suggested by boxing photographer George Kalinsky, who told Ali: ‘Why don’t you try something like that? Sort of a dope on the ropes, letting Foreman swing away but, like in the picture, hit nothing but air.’ Publicist John Condon then polished the phrase into ‘rope-a-dope.’

December 3, 2016

Champion

todd snyder

Champion, alternatively stylized ‘Champion U.S.A,’ is an American manufacturer of clothing, specializing in sportswear. The brand was founded in Rochester, New York in 1919 and acquired by the Sara Lee Corporation in 1989. Sara Lee had acquired the Hanes brand a decade earlier, and in 2006 it spun off all its clothing brands into a new company called HanesBrands Inc., of which Champion is still a subsidiary today.

Toby Thompson, acclaimed graphic designer who received the Kudos Award for his 1988 Olympic poster designs for Kodak, sketched the Champion Logo during a corporate meeting, but was never given credit for his design work. 

December 1, 2016

Sunset Strip

viper room

The Sunset Strip is the name given to the mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard that passes through West Hollywood, California. It extends from West Hollywood’s eastern border with Hollywood at Havenhurst Drive, to its western border with Beverly Hills at Sierra Drive. The Strip is probably the best-known portion of Sunset, embracing boutiques, restaurants, rock clubs, and nightclubs that are on the cutting edge of the entertainment industry. It is also known for its trademark array of huge, colorful billboards.

As the Strip lies outside of the Los Angeles city limits and was an unincorporated area under the jurisdiction of the County of Los Angeles, the area fell under the less-vigilant jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Department rather than the LAPD. It was illegal to gamble in the city, but legal in the county. This fostered the building of a rather wilder concentration of nightlife than Los Angeles would tolerate.