Archive for ‘World’

May 12, 2020

Coquina

Castillo de San Marco 1677

Coquina [koh-kee-nuh] is a sedimentary rock that is composed either wholly or almost entirely of the transported, abraded, and mechanically-sorted fragments of the shells of mollusks, trilobites, brachiopods, or other invertebrates. The term coquina comes from the Spanish word for ‘cockle’ and ‘shellfish.’

Coquinas accumulate in high-energy marine and lacustrine environments where currents and waves result in the vigorous winnowing, abrasion, fracturing, and sorting of the shells that compose them. As a result, they typically exhibit well-developed bedding or cross-bedding, close packing, and good orientation of the shell fragments. The high-energy marine or lacustrine (lake) environments associated with coquinas include beaches, shallow submarine raised banks, swift tidal channels, and barrier bars.

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April 26, 2020

Zombie Satellite

LES-5

zombie satellite is a satellite that is no longer under human control due to an extended malfunction. At the end of their service life, the majority of satellites suffer from orbital decay and are destroyed by the heat of atmospheric entry. Zombie satellites, however, maintain a stable orbit but are either partially or completely inoperable, preventing operators from communicating with them.

One of the oldest known zombie satellites is Transit 5B-5, which was launched in 1965 as part of the Transit system. Also known as NAVSAT or NNSS (for Navy Navigation Satellite System), it is one of the first satellite navigation systems (or satnav). Transit 5B-5 is nuclear powered and still in a stable polar orbit, though operators are unable to control it.

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April 20, 2020

Dueling Scar

Academic fencing

Dueling scars have been seen as a ‘badge of honor’ since as early as 1825. Known variously as ‘Mensur scars,’ ‘the bragging scar,’ ‘smite,’ or ‘Schmitte,’ dueling scars were popular among upper-class Austrians and Germans involved in academic fencing at the start of the 20th century.

Among university students, it was seen as a mark of their class and honor. It is an early example of scarification (body modification) in European society. The practice of dueling and the associated scars was also present to some extent in the German military.

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April 15, 2020

Pumpernickel

rugbroed

Pumpernickel [puhm-per-nik-uhl] is a typically heavy, slightly sweet rye bread traditionally made with sourdough starter and coarsely ground rye. It is often made today with a combination of rye flour and whole rye grains.

Some mass produced pumpernickel in North America may incorporate natural colorants such as molasses, caramel color, coffee, or cocoa powder among others to imitate the various shades of brown of traditional German pumpernickel, which is derived from long baking times and the maillard reaction (a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars).

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March 25, 2020

Dark Tourism

Chernobyl Tour by Nik Neves

Dark tourism refers to travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy. The main attraction to dark locations is their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering.

While there is a long tradition of people visiting recent and ancient settings of death, such as travel to gladiator games in the Roman Colosseum, attending public executions by decapitation, and visiting the catacombs, this practice has been studied academically only relatively recently. Travel writers were the first to describe their tourism to deadly places. American political satirist and journalist P. J. O’Rourke called his travel to Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast in 1988 ‘holidays in hell’, or sociologist Chris Rojek talking about ‘black-spot’ tourism in 1993 or the ‘milking the macabre.’

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March 22, 2020

Umarell

Bologna

Umarell is a term in Bologna for men of retirement age who pass the time watching construction sites, especially roadworks – stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice.

It’s literal meaning is ‘little man’ and it is often pluralized in spelling by adding a final s (out of English influence). The wife of an umarell is called a ‘zdaura.’

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February 15, 2020

Message in a Bottle

MS. Found in a Bottle

message in a bottle is a form of communication in which a message is sealed in a container (typically a bottle) and released into a conveyance medium (typically a body of water).

Messages in bottles have been used to send distress messages, in crowdsourced scientific studies of ocean currents, as memorial tributes, to send deceased loved ones’ ashes on a final journey, to convey expedition reports, and to carry letters or reports from those believing themselves to be doomed. Invitations to prospective pen pals and letters to actual or imagined love interests have also been sent as messages in bottles.

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February 14, 2020

Mudlark

Beachcombing

A mudlark is someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value, a term used especially to describe those who scavenged this way in London during the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Mudlarks would search the muddy shores of the River Thames at low tide for anything that could be sold; and sometimes, when occasion arose, pilfering from river traffic. By at least the late 18th century people dwelling near the river could scrape a subsistence living this way.

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February 2, 2020

History of DJing

Paradise Garage

DJing is the act of playing existing recorded music for a live audience. The modern DJ’s role as a performer who creates a seamless and extended mix of music for a dance party or club atmosphere evolved from radio personalities who introduced and played individual selections of recorded music on broadcast radio stations.

In 1935, American radio commentator Walter Winchell coined the term ‘disc jockey’ (the combination of disc, referring to disc-shaped phonograph records, and jockey, which is an operator of a machine) to describe radio announcer Martin Block, the first radio announcer to gain widespread fame for playing popular recorded music over the air.

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January 18, 2020

NOBUS

NSA ANT

NOBUS (‘nobody but us’) are security vulnerabilities which the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) believes that only it can exploit.

As such, the agency sometimes chooses to leave such vulnerabilities open, in order to exploit them against NSA’s targets. More broadly, it refers to the notion that some signals intelligence capabilities are so powerful or otherwise inaccessible that only the NSA will be able to deploy them, though recent analyses suggest that this advantage may be under stress.

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November 27, 2019

Gongshi

Taihu stone

Gongshi also known as ‘scholar’s rocks,’ are naturally occurring or shaped rocks which are traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars. As rocks are broadly fractal (geology journals require a scale to be included in images of rocks), the small rocks can resemble the larger landscape.

Scholars’ rocks can be any color, and contrasting colors are not uncommon. The size of the stone can also be quite varied: scholars’ rocks can weigh either hundreds of pounds or less than one pound. The term also identifies stones which are placed in traditional Chinese gardens. Chinese scholar’s rocks influenced the development of Korean suseok (viewing stones) and Japanese suiseki.

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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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