Archive for ‘World’

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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June 4, 2019

Zero Rupee Note

Zero Rupee

zero-rupee note is a banknote imitation issued in India as a means of helping to fight systemic political corruption. The notes are ‘paid’ in protest by angry citizens to government functionaries who solicit bribes in return for services which are supposed to be free.

Zero rupee notes, which are made to resemble the regular 50 rupee banknote of India, are the creation of a non-governmental organization known as 5th Pillar which has, since their inception in 2007, distributed over 2.5 million notes as of 2014. The notes remain in current use and thousands of notes are distributed every month.

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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 14, 2019

Stand on Zanzibar

John Brunner

Stand on Zanzibar [zan-zuh-bahr] is a dystopian New Wave science fiction novel written by John Brunner and first published in 1968. The book won a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1969.

The story is set in 2010, mostly in the United States. A number of plots and many vignettes are played out in this future world, based on Brunner’s extrapolation of social, economic, and technological trends, such as an enormous population and its impact: social stresses, eugenic legislation, widening social divisions, future shock and extremism.

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May 10, 2019

Frankfurt Kitchen

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky

The Frankfurt kitchen was the first unified concept kitchen. It was designed to enable efficient work, maximize the usable area of a small space, and to be built at low cost in 1926 by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky for architect Ernst May’s social housing project ‘New Frankfurt’ in Frankfurt, Germany.

German cities after the end of World War I were plagued by a serious housing shortage. Various social housing projects were built in the 1920s to increase the number of rental apartments for working class families subject on tight budget constraints. As a consequence, the apartments designed were comfortable but not spacious.

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March 7, 2019

Sandman

Sandman

In Scandinavian folklore, the Sandman is a mythical character said to sprinkle sand or dust on or into the eyes of the child at night to bring on sleep and dreams.

The grit or ‘sleep’ (rheum) in one’s eyes upon waking is the supposed result of the Sandman’s work the previous night. Rheum, also known as gound, is a thin mucus naturally discharged from the eyes, nose, or mouth during sleep.

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February 5, 2019

Matcha

Way of Tea

Matcha [mah-chuh] is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is special in two aspects of farming and processing: the green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest and the stems and veins are removed in processing. During shaded growth, the plant Camellia sinensis produces more theanine and caffeine.

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha as hot tea and embodies a meditative spiritual style. In modern times, matcha has also come to be used to flavor and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery.

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December 10, 2018

Belsnickel

Belsnickel is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Belsnickel is related to other companions of Saint Nicholas in the folklore of German-speaking Europe. He may have been based on another older German myth, ‘Knecht Ruprecht,’ a servant of Saint Nicholas, and a character from northern Germany. Unlike those figures, Belsnickel does not accompany Saint Nicholas but instead visits alone and combines both the threatening and the benign aspects which in other traditions are divided between the Saint Nicholas and the companion figure.

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November 10, 2018

Plogging

David_Sedaris

Plogging (Swedish: ‘plocka upp’) is a combination of jogging with picking up litter. It started as an organized activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution. As a workout, it provides variation in body movements by adding bending, squatting and stretching to the main action of running.

Author David Sedaris combines litter picking with exercise in the Parham, Coldwaltham and Storrington districts of West Sussex, taking up to 60,000 steps a day in pursuit of local rubbish. He was so effective in keeping his neighborhood clean that the local authority named a waste vehicle in his honor.

July 30, 2018

Lügenpresse

Fake News

Lügenpresse (lit: ‘lying press’) is a pejorative political term used largely by German political movements for the printed press and the mass media at large, when it is believed not to have the quest for truth at the heart of its coverage.

The Nazis adopted the term for their propaganda against the Jewish, communist, and later the foreign press.

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July 13, 2018

Henge

Stonehenge

A henge is neolithic earthwork featuring a ring bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank. Earthworks are artificial changes in land level, typically made from piles of artificially placed or sculpted rocks and soil. Earthworks can themselves be archaeological features, or they can show features beneath the surface

Due to the poor defensive utility of an enclosure with an external bank and an internal ditch, henges are not considered to have served a defensive purpose. England’s famed Stonehenge is an atypical henge in that the ditch is outside the main earthwork bank.

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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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