Archive for ‘Money’

February 19, 2013

Live Insect Jewelry

Live Insect Jewelry

Live insect jewelry refers to jewelry, made from living creatures- usually bejeweled, large insects- which is worn as a fashion accessory. The use of insects as live jewelry has existed for many centuries, with the Egyptians believed to have been the first to have worn insects as jewelry. Ancient Egyptian soldiers commonly wore scarab beetles into battle as the beetles were considered to have supernatural powers of protection against enemies. Although live jewelry has featured in Mayan cultural traditions for many centuries, it was not until the 1980s that the Mexican Maquech Beetle, a sub-species of the Zopherus beetle, achieved mainstream popularity as live jewelry. The Maquech Beetle is a large, docile, wingless insect which is decorated with gold and semi-precious gemstones and is attached to a decorative safety pin by a chain leash.

During the Mayan period, women from the Yucatán Peninsula wore Maquech Beetles pinned to their chests, over their hearts, to attract and sustain loving relationships. The tradition is attributed to a story from Mayan folklore, which believes that when a Mayan princess was not permitted to marry a prince from a rival clan whom she loved, she stopped eating and drinking, preferring to die than to live without her lover. In compassion with her plight, a traditional healer with magical powers transformed her into a Maquech beetle, so that she could spend the rest of her life living as a beautiful brooch on the chest of her lover, close to his heart.

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February 19, 2013

Phishing

phishing

free ipad

Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors, or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. Phishing emails may contain links to websites that are infected with malware. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail spoofing (altering the sender address) or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Phishing is an example of social engineering (manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information), and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies. Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures.

The first recorded mention of the term ‘phishing’ is found in the hacking tool ‘AOHell’ (released in 1994), which included a function for stealing the passwords of America Online users. A recent and popular case of phishing is the suspected Chinese phishing campaign targeting Gmail accounts of highly ranked officials of the United States and South Korean’s Government, military, and Chinese political activists. The Chinese government continues to deny accusations of taking part in cyber-attacks from within its borders, but evidence has been revealed that China’s own People’s Liberation Army has assisted in the coding of cyber-attack software. Phishing on AOL was closely associated with the warez community that exchanged pirated software and the hacking scene that perpetrated credit card fraud and other online crimes. After AOL brought in measures in late 1995 to prevent using fake, algorithmically generated credit card numbers to open accounts, AOL crackers resorted to phishing for legitimate accounts and exploiting AOL.

February 19, 2013

Comment Crew

Comment Crew

PLA Unit 61398, referred to by the US as the ‘Comment Crew’ (owing to the collective’s past pattern of embedding HTML commands in the comments section of popular websites) is an alleged cyber-warfare unit of the Chinese military. As a hacker group the entity has been known to US intelligence agencies since 2002; they gave it the codename ‘Byzantine Candor.’ The unit is reported to operate out of a 12-story building in Shanghai and the surrounding neighborhood. The story was first broken by the ‘New York Times,’ based on information from a report by the computer security firm Mandiant, who were retained by the New York Times after a compromise of their own computer systems. Mandiant’s report states that PLA Unit 61398 is believed to be under the 2nd Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army General Staff’s Department (GSD) 3rd Department and that there is evidence that it contains an entity Mandiant calls APT1, part of the Advanced Persistent Threat attacking American corporations and government entities.

Unit 61398 allegedly steals proprietary industrial and military information from the US and other nations. President Obama alluded to this concern in a State of the Union address, without mentioning China or any other nation: ‘We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets,’ he said. ‘Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air-traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing.’ Chinese government sources deny Mandiant’s allegations.

February 18, 2013

Great Recession

great recession by Elise Gravel

The Great Recession is a marked global economic decline that began in December 2007 and took a particularly sharp downward turn in September 2008. The active phase of the crisis, which manifested as a liquidity crisis, can be dated from August 7, 2007 when BNP Paribas (one of the world’s largest global banking groups) terminated withdrawals from three hedge funds citing ‘a complete evaporation of liquidity.’ The bursting of the U.S. housing bubble, which peaked in 2006, caused the values of securities tied to U.S. real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. The global recession affected the entire world economy, with higher detriment in some countries than others. As of December 2012, the economic side effects of the European sovereign debt crisis and limited prospects for global growth in 2013 and 2014 continue to provide obstacles to full recovery.

There are two senses of the word ‘recession’: a less precise sense, referring broadly to ‘a period of reduced economic activity,’ and the academic sense used most often in economics, which is defined operationally, referring specifically to the contraction phase of a business cycle, with two or more consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. By the latter definition, the recession ended in the U.S. in June or July 2009. However, persistent high unemployment remains, along with low consumer confidence, and an increase in foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. In fact, a 2011 poll found that more than half of all Americans think the U.S. is still in recession or even depression, although economic data show a historically modest recovery. This could be due to the fact that both private and public levels of debt are at historic highs in the U.S. and in many other countries, and an increasing number of economists believe that excessive debt plays a role in causing bank crises, lengthy depressions, and sovereign default.

February 17, 2013

Cool

cool hand luke

the birth of the cool

Coolness is an admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of the Zeitgeist (‘spirit of the age’). Because of the varied and changing connotations of cool, as well its subjective nature, the word has no single meaning. It has associations of composure and self-control and often is used as an expression of approval. Although commonly regarded as slang, it is widely used among disparate social groups, and has endured in usage for generations. Because there is no single concept of cool, one of its essential characteristics is mutability—what is considered cool changes over time and varies among cultures and generations. British philosopher and advertising executive Nick Southgate writes that, although some notions of cool can be traced back to Aristotle, whose notion of cool is to be found in his ethical writings, most particularly the ‘Nicomachean Ethics,’ it is not confined to one particular ethnic group or gender.

The sum and substance of cool is a self-conscious aplomb in overall behavior, which entails a set of specific behavioral characteristics that is firmly anchored in symbology, a set of discernible bodily movements, postures, facial expressions and voice modulations that are acquired and take on strategic social value within the peer context. Cool was once an attitude fostered by rebels and underdogs, such as slaves, prisoners, bikers and political dissidents, etc., for whom open rebellion invited punishment, so it hid defiance behind a wall of ironic detachment, distancing itself from the source of authority rather than directly confronting it.

February 14, 2013

The Rebel Sell

the rebel sell

The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can’t be jammed’ (published in the US as ‘Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture’) is a non-fiction book written by University of Toronto philosopher Joseph Heath and Canadian journalist Andrew Potter in 2004. Their central claim is that counter-cultural movements have failed, and that they all share a common fatal error in the way they understand society; thus counter-culture is not a threat to ‘the system.’ Following their claim that conformity isn’t something perpetuated by mainstream media, Potter and Heath identify other sources of conformity using work from Hobbes, Rousseau, and Freud. They describe conformity as often the byproduct of simple market preferences or, alternatively, as an attempt to resolve a collective action problem. For instance, they claim that school uniforms curb the fashion ‘arms race’ created between students when no restrictions are in place, and that they are not intended merely to stamp out individualism, as many counter-cultural figures have suggested.

According to Potter and Heath, this is why counter-culture is met with resistance: not because the mainstream is brainwashed into loving social customs, but because social customs provide a safety net saving us from a constant need to recalculate the significance of our surroundings. For example, thanks to rules of traffic, a pedestrian can generally safely stand on a sidewalk, without needing to reevaluate at each instance whether an oncoming bus might stay within its lane or whether it might hit the pedestrian. Thus, rules are by no means inherently oppressive: the undesirability of many facets of society (such as consumerism) are, if anything, caused from the ‘bottom up.’ To Potter and Heath, then, some rules may be beneficial.

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February 13, 2013

Chet Helms

the family dog

Chet Helms (1942 – 2005), often called the father of San Francisco’s 1967 ‘Summer of Love,’ was a music promoter and a cultural figure in San Francisco during its hippie period in the late Sixties. Helms was the founder and manager of Big Brother and the Holding Company and recruited Janis Joplin as its lead singer.

He was a producer and organizer, helping to stage free concerts and other cultural events at Golden Gate Park, the backdrop of San Francisco’s Summer of Love in 1967, as well as at other venues, including the Avalon Ballroom. He was the first producer of psychedelic light-show concerts at the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom and was instrumental in helping to develop bands that had the distinctive San Francisco Sound.

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February 13, 2013

Head Shop

psychedelic shop

A head shop is a retail outlet specializing in drug paraphernalia, as well as counterculture art, magazines, music, clothing, and home decor. 

February 13, 2013

Breastaurant

raisins

A breastaurant is a restaurant that has sexual undertones, most commonly in the form of large-breasted, skimpily dressed waitresses and barmaids. The term dates from at least the early 1990s and has since been applied to other restaurants that offer similar services, such as Tilted Kilt (dubbed ‘Hooters goes to Scotland’), Mugs N Jugs, Twin Peaks, Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill, Heart Attack Grill, and the much older Hooters.

The restaurants often offer specific themes, both in decoration and menu, and the operators of the restaurants hope that customers will come just for the food, or that for the customer the sexual nature is secondary to the good food. The restaurants offer numerous perks for customers, including alcohol and flirty servers.

February 11, 2013

Experience Economy

Commodification

experience economy

The term Experience Economy was first described in an article published in 1998 by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. In it they described the experience economy as the next economy following the agrarian economy, the industrial economy, and the most recent service economy. This concept had been previously researched by many other authors.

Pine and Gilmore argue that businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product – the ‘experience.’ More advanced experience businesses can begin charging for the value of the ‘transformation’ that an experience offers, e.g., as education offerings might do if they were able to participate in the value that is created by the educated individual. This, they argue, is a natural progression in the value added by the business over and above its inputs.

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February 11, 2013

Cultural Commodification

not cool

Cultural Commodification

Commodification (or commoditization) is the transformation of goods, ideas, or other entities that may not normally be regarded as goods into a commodity. American author and feminist bell hooks refers to cultural commodification [kuh-mod-uh-fi-key-shuhn] as ‘eating the other.’ By this she means that cultural expressions, revolutionary, or post modern, can be sold to the dominant culture. Any messages of social change are not marketed for their messages but used as a mechanism to acquire a piece of the ‘primitive.’ Any interests in past historical culture almost always have a modern twist.

According to Mariana Torgovnick, ‘What is clear now is that the West’s fascination with the primitive has to do with its own crises in identity, with its own need to clearly demarcate subject and object even while flirting with other ways of experiencing the universe.’ Hooks states that marginalized groups are seduced by this concept because of ‘the promise of recognition and reconciliation.’ ‘When the dominant culture demands that the Other be offered as sign that progressive political change is taking place, that the American Dream can indeed be inclusive of difference, it invites a resurgence of essentialist cultural nationalism.’

February 7, 2013

XVALA

xvala

fear google

XVALA is an art project created by Jeff Hamilton (b. 1970). XVALA typically focuses on pieces that address celebrity and popular culture and he refers to this as ‘Tabloid Art.’ XVALA collaborated with sculptor Daniel Edwards on ‘The Brangelina,’ a house located in Oklahoma. In 2010, Jeff Hamilton walked away from his art and the name XVALA. Hamilton passed the name on to unnamed, upcoming artist.

‘Fear Google’ is the first street art sticker designed for the Post-PC era and was launched in 2010, the same year as Apple’s iPad and other Post-PC devices. The stickers fear message shows society’s growing inability to disconnect from the internet. First distributed by friends of the artist and some Apple Store employees the first stickers appeared on the California city streets.