Archive for ‘War’

November 18, 2019

Plausible Deniability

Iran Contra by Martin Kozlowski

Plausible deniability is the ability of people (typically senior officials in a chain of command) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions.

In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such acts to insulate themselves and shift blame onto the agents who carried out the acts, as they are confident that their doubters will be unable to prove otherwise.

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October 8, 2019

Hoist With His Own Petard

Petard

‘Hoist with his own petard’ is a phrase from a speech in William Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ that has become proverbial.

The phrase’s meaning is literally that the bomb-maker (a “petard” is a small explosive device) is blown up (‘hoisted’ off the ground) by his own bomb, and indicates an ironic reversal, or poetic justice.

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October 2, 2019

Rocket Mail

Astrophilately

Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket lands by deploying an internal parachute upon arrival. It has been attempted by various organizations in many different countries, with varying levels of success. It has never become widely seen as being a viable option for delivering mail, due to the cost of the schemes and numerous failures.

The collection of philatelic material (‘stamps’) used for (and depicting) rocket mail is part of a specialist branch of aerophilately known as astrophilately.

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September 24, 2019

Firehose of Falsehood

Russian web brigades

The firehose of falsehood is a propaganda technique in which a large number of messages are broadcast rapidly, repetitively, and continuously over multiple channels (such as news and social media) without regard for truth or consistency.

Since 2014, when it was successfully used by Russia during its annexation of Crimea, this model has been adopted by other governments and political movements around the world.

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September 17, 2019

Walking Truck

Ralph Mosher

The walking truck or Cybernetic Walking Machine was an experimental quadruped walking vehicle created by General Electric in 1965. It was designed by engineer Ralph Mosher to help infantry carry equipment over rough terrain. It alternatively bore the name of ‘CAM,’ an acronym for ‘cybernetic anthropomorphous machine,’ as seen in a segment of the Walter Cronkite–hosted documentary television program ‘The Twentieth Century’ in 1968.

As of 2019, the surviving prototype can be seen at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum in Fort Eustis, Virginia. The robot weighs 3,000 pounds and can walk up to 5 miles per hour. It was exhausting to control and, according to program lead Mosher who was the designer and primary driver, operators could only drive the walking truck for a limited time. Mosher also worked on the unsuccessful Hardiman project for GE, the first attempt to build a practical powered exoskeleton.

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October 9, 2018

Auto-destructive Art

Balloon Girl

Auto-Destructive Art (ADA) is a form of art coined in 1959 by Gustav Metzger, an artist born in Bavaria that moved to Britain in 1939. Auto-Destructive Art was highly influenced by World War II. After the many casualties and mass destruction, people around the world were distraught and horrified. The extensive use of aircraft and the introduction of nuclear weapons greatly inspired artists to approach art using new means such as corrosion, stress, or heat.

ADA represents the war and its casualties. Artists in this time period wanted to explore issues in new ways. In order to explore these issues in the industrial society, Metzger encouraged artists to work with scientists and engineers.

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September 22, 2018

Emeco 1006

Emeco

The Emeco [ehm-uh-coh1006 [ten-oh-six], also known as the ‘Navy chair,’ is an aluminum chair manufactured by Emeco, a furniture manufacturer based in Pennsylvania. Emeco founder Wilton C. Dinges developed the Emeco 1006 chair in 1944 in collaboration with the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA).

It was originally designed for the US Navy, which needed a chair for the deck of battleships that could survive sea air and a torpedo blast to the side of the ship. The chairs had eye bolts under the seat, so they could be attached to a ship-deck using cables. When competing for the Navy contract, Dinges is reported to have demonstrated the chair’s durability by throwing it out of an eighth floor window of a Chicago hotel where the Navy was examining submissions. It bounced, but didn’t bend or break.

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May 29, 2018

Trust, But Verify

Reagan and Gorbachev by Terry Mosher

Trust, but verify is a Russian proverb that became well known in English when used by President Ronald Reagan on multiple occasions in the context of nuclear disarmament.

Suzanne Massie, an American author living in Russia, met with President Ronald Reagan many times between 1984 and 1987. She taught him the proverb, advising him that ‘The Russians like to talk in proverbs. It would be nice of you to know a few. You are an actor – you can learn them very quickly.’ The proverb was adopted as a signature phrase by Reagan, who subsequently used it frequently when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Using proverbs that the Russians could relate to may have helped relations between the two leaders.

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May 8, 2018

Flower Power

Levitate the Pentagon

Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. The expression was coined by the American beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles.

Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as ‘flower children.’ The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art, and social permissiveness.

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October 24, 2017

Barry Seal

Barry Seal

Barry Seal (1939 – 1986) was an American airline pilot who became a major drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel. When Seal was convicted of smuggling charges, he became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and testified in several major drug trials.

He was murdered in 1986 by contract killers hired by Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellín Cartel.

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August 12, 2017

Mission Creep

Black Hawk Down

Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. It is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, stopping only when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.

The term was originally applied exclusively to military operations, but has recently been applied to many different fields. It first appeared in 1993, in a ‘Washington Post’ article concerning the UN peacekeeping mission during the Somali Civil War.

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February 20, 2017

Troll Army

pepe

The ‘web brigades,’ also known in English media as the ‘troll army,’ are state-sponsored anonymous Internet political commentators and trolls linked to the Russian government.

Participants report that they are organized into teams and groups of commentators that participate in Russian and international political blogs and Internet forums using sockpuppets (fraudulent accounts) and large-scale orchestrated trolling (harassment) and disinformation campaigns to promote pro-Putin and pro-Russian propaganda. It has also been found that Wikipedia articles were targeted by Russian internet propaganda activities.

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