Archive for ‘Politics’

February 13, 2019

Kakistocracy

Drain the swamp

kakistocracy [kak-uh-stok-ruh-see] is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. The word is derived from two Greek words, ‘kakistos’ (‘worst’) and ‘kratos’ (‘rule’).

The word was coined as early as the seventeenth century. It also was used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant use in the first decades of the twenty-first century to criticize populist governments emerging in different democracies around the world.

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January 22, 2019

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is a weekly news-based radio panel show produced by WBEZ in Chicago and National Public Radio (NPR). On the program, panelists and contestants are quizzed in humorous ways about that week’s news.

The show is recorded in front of a live audience in Chicago at the Chase Auditorium beneath the Chase Tower on Thursday nights and typically airs weekend mornings.

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January 17, 2019

The Market for Lemons

lemon law

The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism is a well-known 1970 paper by American economist George Akerlof which examines how the quality of goods traded in a market can degrade in the presence of information asymmetry between buyers and sellers, leaving only ‘lemons’ behind (cars or other products that are found to be defective only after they have been bought).

Akerlof’s paper shows how prices can determine the quality of goods traded on the market. Low prices drive away sellers of high-quality goods, leaving only lemons behind. In 2001, Akerlof, along with Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz, jointly received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, for their research on issues related to asymmetric information.

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January 5, 2019

Gadfly

Plato Apology

gadfly is a person who interferes with the status quo of a society or community by posing novel, potently upsetting questions, usually directed at authorities. The term is originally associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, in his defense when on trial for his life.

The term ‘gadfly’ was used by Plato in the ‘Apology’ to describe Socrates’s relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse. The word may be uttered in a pejorative sense or be accepted as a description of honorable work or civic duty.

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January 2, 2019

Pennsyltucky

Santorum

Pennsyltucky is a slang portmanteau of the state names Pennsylvania and Kentucky. It is used to characterize—usually humorously, but sometimes deprecatingly—the rural part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania outside the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, more specifically applied to the local people and culture of its mountainous central Appalachian region.

The term is used more generally to refer to the Appalachian region, particularly its central core, which runs from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, and its people. An actual connection between the two regions was formed after numbers of Western Pennsylvanians left the state for Kentucky following the Whiskey Rebellion.

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December 30, 2018

The Negro Motorist Green Book

The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African-American roadtrippers. It was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against non-whites was widespread.

Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited black car ownership, the emerging African-American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could, but faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest. In response, Green wrote his guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans, eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of North America, as well as founding a travel agency.

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October 29, 2018

Black Knight Satellite Conspiracy Theory

Space debris

The Black Knight satellite conspiracy theory claims that there is a spacecraft in near-polar orbit of the Earth that is of extraterrestrial origin, and that NASA is engaged in a cover-up regarding its existence and origin. This conspiracy theory combines several unrelated stories into one narrative.

A 1998 NASA photo is believed by some to show the Black Knight satellite, but NASA has stated that this is likely space debris, specifically a thermal blanket lost during an EVA mission.

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October 18, 2018

Waffle House Index

Waffle House

The Waffle House Index is an informal metric used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine the effect of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. The measure is based on the reputation of the restaurant chain Waffle House for staying open during extreme weather and for reopening quickly, albeit sometimes with a limited menu, after very severe weather events such as tornadoes or hurricanes.

The term was coined by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in 2011, following the Joplin tornado, during which the two Waffle House restaurants in Joplin, Missouri, remained open.

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September 9, 2018

Wojak

NPC meme

Wojak (Polish: ‘warrior, soldier’), also known as ‘feels guy,’ is a popular internet meme. Depicting a nondescript white man, it is used to generically express emotions such as melancholy, regret, or loneliness. It is often paired with Pepe the Frog.

A variation of Wojak with a gray face, pointy nose and blank expression became a popular visual representation of the ‘NPC meme,’ which gained online notoriety in late 2018. The meme began as a mockery of individuals who appear to lack an internal monologue, comparing them to non-playable characters in video games. The meme gained media attention due to its later usage parodying the alleged herd mentality of liberal activists. This controversial usage of the meme has been attributed to Donald Trump supporters.

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September 6, 2018

Barbie Liberation Organization

Igor Vamos

The Barbie Liberation Organization or BLO, sponsored by RTMark (an anti-consumerist activist collective), are a group of artists and activists involved in culture jamming.

They gained notoriety in 1993 by switching the voice boxes on talking G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls. The BLO performed ‘surgery’ on a reported 300–500 dolls and then returned them to the shelves of stores, an action they refer to as reverse shoplifting or ‘shopgiving.’ This action resulted in girls opening their new Teen Talk Barbie to hear it say phrases such as ‘vengeance is mine’ and boys hearing their G.I. Joe say ‘The beach is the place for summer.’

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September 5, 2018

Trump Derangement Syndrome

Triggered

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is a neologism used by its adherents to describe a reaction to United States President Donald Trump by liberals, progressives, and anti-Trump conservatives, who are said to respond to Trump’s statements and political actions irrationally, with little regard to Trump’s actual position or action taken.

The use of the term by some on the right has been called part of a broader GOP strategy to discredit criticisms of Trump’s actions, as a way of ‘reframing’ the discussion by suggesting his political opponents are incapable of accurately perceiving the world. However, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson of Annenberg Public Policy Center, the term could backfire on Trump supporters because people might interpret it to mean that Trump is the one who is ‘deranged,’ rather than those who criticize him.

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August 28, 2018

Horseshoe Theory

Jean-Pierre Faye

In political theory, the horseshoe theory asserts that the far left and the far right, rather than being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, in fact closely resemble one another, much like the ends of a horseshoe.

The theory is attributed to French writer Jean-Pierre Faye. Proponents of the theory point to a number of similarities between the far-left and the far-right, including their supposed propensity to gravitate to authoritarianism or totalitarianism. The horseshoe theory competes with the conventional linear left–right continuum system as well as the various multidimensional systems.

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