Archive for ‘Politics’

May 30, 2019

Splinternet

Great Firewall

The splinternet (also referred to as ‘cyber-balkanization’) is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, commerce, politics, nationalism, religion, and interests. China erected a ‘Great Firewall’ to restrict the informational sources its citizens have access to. The U.S. and Australia, are discussing plans to create a similar systems to block child pornography or weapon-making instructions.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a researcher at the Cato Institute, first used the term in 2001 to describe his concept of ‘parallel Internets that would be run as distinct, private, and autonomous universes.’ Crews used the term in a positive sense, but more recent writers, like Scott Malcomson, a fellow in New America’s International Security program, use the term pejoratively, describing a threat to the internet’s status as a globe-spanning network of networks.

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May 1, 2019

Monkey Selfie

Celebes crested macaque

The monkey selfie copyright dispute is a series of disputes about the copyright status of selfies taken by a group of macaques using equipment belonging to the British nature photographer David Slater.

The disputes involve Wikimedia Commons and the blog ‘Techdirt,’ which have hosted the images following their publication in newspapers in July 2011 over Slater’s objections, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have argued that the macaque should be assigned the copyright.

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April 28, 2019

Fannie Mae

Subprime

The Big Short

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, is a United States government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) and, since 1968, a publicly traded company.

Founded in 1938 during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal, the corporation’s purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgage loans in the form of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), allowing lenders to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market by reducing the reliance on locally based savings and loan associations (or ‘thrifts’).

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April 24, 2019

Vidalia Onion

Vidalia Georgia

A Vidalia onion is one of several varieties of sweet onion grown in a production area defined by law of the U.S. state of Georgia since 1986 and the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Varieties include the hybrid Yellow Granex, varieties of Granex parentage, and similar varieties as recommended by the Vidalia Onion Committee and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

The onions are named Vidalia because they were historically grown in the town of Vidalia, Georgia. The cultivation of Vidalia onions started in the early 1930s. The different varieties are unusually sweet compared to other onions due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which Vidalia onions are grown. The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990.

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April 1, 2019

Smart Contract

Nick Szabo

smart contract is a computer protocol intended to digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. Smart contracts allow the performance of credible transactions without third parties. These transactions are trackable and irreversible.

Proponents of smart contracts claim that many kinds of contractual clauses may be made partially or fully self-executing, self-enforcing, or both. The aim of smart contracts is to provide security that is superior to traditional contract law and to reduce other transaction costs associated with contracting. Various cryptocurrencies have implemented types of smart contracts.

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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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