Archive for ‘World’

January 21, 2021

White Coke

White Coke is a nickname for a clear variant of Coca-Cola produced in the 1940s at the request of Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov. Like other clear colas, it was of the same original flavor, virtually unchanged by the absence of caramel coloring.

Zhukov was introduced to Coca-Cola during, or shortly after, World War II by his counterpart in Western Europe, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Western Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was also a fan of the drink. As Coca-Cola was regarded in the Soviet Union as a symbol of American imperialism, Zhukov was apparently reluctant to be photographed or reported as consuming such a product.

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January 7, 2021

Foundations of Geopolitics

Aleksandr Dugin

‘The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia’ is a 1997 geopolitical book by Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian political analyst and strategist known for his fascist views. His book has had influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites and has been used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.

Its publication was well received in Russia. Powerful Russian political figures subsequently took an interest in Dugin, a Russian eurasianist, fascist, and nationalist who has developed a close relationship with Russia’s military academies.

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December 22, 2020

Cozy Bear

Cozy Bear

Cozy Bear, classified by the U.S. as advanced persistent threat APT29, is a Russian hacker group believed to be associated with one or more intelligence agencies of Russia.

In June 2016, Cozy Bear was implicated alongside the hacker group Fancy Bear in the Democratic National Committee cyber attacks. While the two groups were both present in the DNC’s servers at the same time, they appeared to be unaware of the other, each independently stealing the same passwords and otherwise duplicating their efforts. A CrowdStrike forensic team determined that while Cozy Bear had been on the DNC’s network for over a year, Fancy Bear had only been there a few weeks. Cozy Bear’s more sophisticated tradecraft and interest in traditional long-term espionage suggest that the group originates from a separate Russian intelligence agency.

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December 15, 2020

Yoshoku

Tonkatsu

In Japanese cuisine, yoshoku [yoh-shoo-koo] (‘western food’) refers to a style of Western-influenced cooking which originated during the Meiji Restoration (1868, a period of rapid industrialization and Westernization). These are primarily Japanized forms of European dishes, often featuring Western names, and usually written in Japanese. It is an example of fusion cuisine. Another, more contemporary, term in Japan for the Western food is ‘mukokuseki’ (‘no-nationality’ cuisine).

At the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, national seclusion was eliminated and the Meiji Emperor declared Western ideas helpful for Japan’s future progress. As part of the reforms, the Emperor lifted the ban on red meat and promoted Western cuisine, which was viewed as the cause of the Westerners’ greater physical size. Yōshoku thus relies on meat as an ingredient, unlike the typical Japanese cuisine at the time. Additionally, many of the Westerners who started to live in Japan at that time refused to touch traditional Japanese food, and so their private Japanese chefs learned how to cook them Western-style cuisine, often with a Japanese spin.

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November 19, 2020

Russian Political Jokes

Hammer & Tickle

Russian political jokes can be grouped into the major time periods: Imperial Russia, Soviet Union, post-Soviet Russia. Quite a few political themes can be found among other standard categories of Russian joke, most notably Rabinovich jokes (short fictional Russian stories or dialogs with a punch line) and Radio Yerevan, also known as the Armenian Radio jokes, which mocked the ‘Question & Answer’ series of the Armenian Radio.

A typical format of a joke was: ‘Radio Yerevan was asked,’ and ‘Radio Yerevan answered.’ For example: Radio Yerevan was asked: ‘Comrades, will there be war?’ Radio Yerevan answered: ‘No, but there will be such a struggle for peace that everything will be razed to the ground.’

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October 28, 2020

Havana Syndrome

Electromagnetic Personnel Interdiction Control

Havana syndrome is a set of medical signs and symptoms experienced by U.S. and Canadian embassy staff in Cuba. Beginning in August 2017, reports surfaced that American and Canadian diplomatic personnel in Cuba had suffered a variety of health problems, dating back to late 2016.

A 2018 study published in the journal Neural Computation identified pulsed radiofrequency/microwave radiation (RF/MW) exposure via the Frey effect as source of injury, and noted that a microwave attack against the U.S. embassy in Moscow had been documented. Other possible causes for the injuries offered include ultrasound via intermodulation distortion caused by malfunctioning or improperly placed Cuban surveillance equipment, cricket noises, mass psychogenic illness, and exposure to neurotoxic pesticides.

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October 25, 2020

Nanny State

seat belt law

Nanny state is a term of British origin that conveys a view that a government or its policies are overprotective or interfering unduly with personal choice. The term likens government to the role that a nanny has in child rearing. An early use of the term comes from Conservative British Member of Parliament Iain Macleod in 1965 edition.

The term was popularized by the British and American tobacco industry – especially by their touring celebrity-lobbyists Bernard Levin and Auberon Waugh – and later by PM Margaret Thatcher. Some laws considered nannying at the time, such as mandatory seatbelts and smoking bans, were later accepted as common sense.

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October 16, 2020

Rotwelsch

Thieves' cant

Rotwelsch [rut-velsh] (German: ‘beggar’s foreign language’) or Gaunersprache (German: ‘crook’s language’) is a secret language, a cant or thieves’ argot, spoken by groups (primarily marginalized groups) in southern Germany and Switzerland. The language is based primarily on German.

Rotwelsch was formerly common among travelling craftspeople and vagrants. The language is built on a strong substratum of German, but contains numerous words from other languages, notably from various German dialects, including Yiddish, as well as from Romany languages, notably Sintitikes. There are also significant influences from Judeo-Latin, the ancient Jewish language spoken in the Roman Empire.

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October 4, 2020

Jeitinho

Malandragem

Jeitinho [jay-cheen-yo] (Portuguese: ‘little way’) is finding a way to accomplish something by circumventing or bending the rules or social conventions. Most times it is harmless, made for basic ordinary opportunistic advantages, as gatecrashing a party just to get free food and beverage.

But sometimes it is used for questionable, serious violations, where an individual can use emotional resources, blackmail, family ties, promises, rewards or money to obtain (sometimes illegal) favors or to get advantage. Some claim it is a typically Brazilian method of social navigation that may derive from a general lack of resources and help. Most Brazilians have to be creative and invent new simpler ways to do things.

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September 27, 2020

Mariko Aoki Phenomenon

Bathroom reading

The Mariko Aoki phenomenon is a Japanese expression referring to an urge to defecate that is suddenly felt after entering bookstores. The phenomenon’s name derives from the name of the woman who mentioned the phenomenon in a magazine article in 1985.

According to Japanese social psychologist Shozo Shibuya, the specific causes that trigger a defecation urge in bookstores are not yet clearly understood, and it is sometimes discussed as one type of urban myth or a mild form of mass psychogenic illness.

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September 4, 2020

First Growth

Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855

First Growth (French: ‘Premier Cru’) status is a classification of wines primarily from the Bordeaux region of France.

The need for a classification of the best Bordeaux wines arose from the 1855 World’s Fair, the ‘Exposition Universelle de Paris.’ The result was the ‘Bordeaux Wine Official Classification,’ a list of the top ranked wines, named the ‘Grand Crus Classés’ (Great Classified Growths). With several thousand Chateaux producing their wines in Bordeaux, to be classified was to carry a mark of high prestige.

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September 1, 2020

Windshield Phenomenon

Decline in insect populations

The windshield phenomenon is a recent observation that fewer dead insects accumulate on the windshields of people’s cars. It has been attributed to a global decline in insect populations caused by human activity.

As early as the 2000s, it became a commonplace observation among drivers that windscreens after a long drive no longer had to be cleaned of a myriad of insects. In 2016, Canadian naturalist John Acorn noted that the phenomenon had recently become a meme but questioned whether it is ‘reasonable to assume that windshields can tell us something about the overall numbers of insects’ and also that ‘humans are notoriously bad at detecting trends.’

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