March 12, 2018

Precognition

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab

Precognition (Latin: ‘acquiring knowledge’), also called ‘prescience,’ ‘future vision,’ or ‘future sight’ is an alleged psychic ability to see events in the future.

As with other forms of extrasensory perception (ESP), there is no reliable scientific evidence that precognition is a real ability possessed by anyone and it is widely considered to be pseudoscience. Specifically, precognition appears to violate the principle that an effect cannot occur before its cause. Continue reading

March 1, 2018

Webring

GeoCities

webring is a collection of websites linked together in a circular structure, and usually organized around a specific theme, often educational or social. They were popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, particularly among amateur websites.

Webrings are seen by some as a relic of the early web of the 1990s. When the primary site that managed web rings, webring.org was acquired by Yahoo, ‘ring masters’ lost access to their webrings and the web ring hubs were replaced by a Yahoo page. By the time Yahoo stopped controlling webring.org in 2001, search engines had become good enough that web rings were no longer as useful. The webring.org site was still active in the mid-2010s. Continue reading

February 28, 2018

Bal Tashchit

Judaism and environmentalism

Bal tashchit [bahl tosh-keet] (‘do not destroy’) is a basic ethical principle in Jewish law. Deuteronomy 20:19–20 forbids cutting down fruit trees to assist in a siege.

In early rabbinic law however, the principle is understood to include other forms of senseless damage or waste. For instance, the Babylonian Talmud applies the principle to prevent the wasting of lamp oil, the tearing of clothing, the chopping up of furniture for firewood, or the killing of animals. In contemporary Jewish ethics, advocates often point to bal tashchit as an environmental principle.

February 19, 2018

George Foreman Grill

Foreman Grill

The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, commonly known as the George Foreman Grill, is an indoor, electrically heated grill manufactured by Spectrum Brands. It is promoted by former boxing champion George Foreman. Since its introduction in 1994, over 100 million George Foreman grills have been sold worldwide.

The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, as it became known, was introduced in 1994 and promoted with distinctive infomercials which featured Foreman. A combination of his affable personality and the unique features of the product made it a huge success. Such was the popularity of these infomercials that Foreman’s famous tagline, ‘It’s so good I put my name on it!,’ is now part of popular culture. In Asia, the grill is endorsed and promoted by both George Foreman and Jackie Chan. Continue reading

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February 15, 2018

Choke

Miracle at the New Meadowlands

In sports, a choke is the failure of a sportsperson or team in a game in a situation where maintaining their performance is highly important.

This can occur in a game or tournament that they are strongly favored to win, or in an instance where they have a large lead that they squander in the late stages of the event. It can also refer to repeated failures in the same event, or simply infer an unexpected failure when the event is more important than usual. Continue reading

February 10, 2018

Mafia State

oligarch

The term mafia state is a political buzzword to describe a system of government that is tied to organized crime, such as when government officials, police, and/or military take part in illicit enterprises. The term mafia is a reference to any organized crime groups strongly connected with the authorities.

According to US diplomats, a former officer of the Russian FSB secret service who specialized in organized crime, Alexander Litvinenko, coined the phrase ‘Mafia state.’ Both the Italian mafia and Japanese Yakuza have have, at times, established a close and friendly relationships with their respective governments.  Scholar of Law and Economics Edgardo Buscaglia describes the political system of Mexico as a ‘Mafiacracy.’ Buscaglia characterizes the condition between the state, the economy and organized crime in Mexico as a mutual interweaving.

Continue reading

January 31, 2018

Endurance Training

Raramuri

Endurance training is the act of exercising to remain active for extended periods of time, resisting fatigue. The term generally refers to training the aerobic system as opposed to the anaerobic system.

The need for endurance in sports is often predicated as the need of cardiovascular and simple muscular endurance, but the issue of endurance is more complex. Endurance in sport is closely tied to the execution of skill and technique. A well conditioned athlete can be defined as, the athlete who executes his or her technique consistently and effectively with the least effort. Continue reading

January 12, 2018

Sweater Curse

knitting

The sweater curse, or the ‘curse of the love sweater,’ is a knitting folktale which claims that if a knitter gives a hand-knit sweater to a significant other, it will lead to the recipient breaking up with them. In an alternative formulation, the relationship will end before the sweater is even completed. In a 2005 poll, 15% of active knitters said that they had experienced the sweater curse firsthand, and 41% considered it a possibility that should be taken seriously.

Despite its name, the ‘sweater curse’ is treated in knitting literature not as a superstition governed by paranormal forces, but rather as a real-world pitfall of knitting that has rational explanations. Several plausible mechanisms for the sweater curse have been proposed, but it has not been studied systematically. Continue reading

January 6, 2018

Porter

Arthur Guinness

Porter is a dark style of beer developed in London from well-hopped beers made from brown malt. The name was first recorded in the 18th century, and is thought to come from its popularity with street and river porters.

The history and development of stout and porter are intertwined. The name ‘stout’ as used for a dark beer is believed to have come about because strong porters were marketed under such names as ‘Extra Porter,’ ‘Double Porter,’ and ‘Stout Porter.’ The term ‘Stout Porter’ would later be shortened to just ‘Stout.’ For example, Guinness Extra Stout was originally called Extra Superior Porter and was only given the name Extra Stout in 1840. Continue reading

December 16, 2017

Gingerbread House

Hansel and Gretel

gingerbread house is a novelty confectionery shaped like a building that is made of cookie dough, cut and baked into appropriate components like walls and roofing. The usual material is crisp ginger biscuit made of gingerbread. Another type of model-making with gingerbread uses a boiled dough that can be molded like clay to form edible statuettes or other decorations. These houses, covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular Christmas decorations, often built by children with the help of their parents.

Records of honey cakes can be traced to ancient Rome. Food historians ratify that ginger has been seasoning foodstuffs and drinks since antiquity. It is believed gingerbread was first baked in Europe at the end of the 11th century, when returning crusaders brought back the custom of spiced breads from the Middle East. Ginger was not only tasty, it had properties that helped preserve the foodstuffs it was in. Continue reading

December 15, 2017

Gremlin

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

gremlin is a fictitious mischievous creature that causes malfunctions in aircraft or other machinery. Their origin is found in myths among airmen, claiming that the gremlins were responsible for sabotaging aircraft.

Folklorist John W. Hazen states that some people derive the name from the Old English word ‘gremian’ (‘to vex’). While Carol Rose, in her book ‘Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia,’ attributes the name to a combination of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and Fremlin Beer, a nineteenth century English brewery. Since World War II, different fantastical creatures have been referred to as gremlins, bearing varying degrees of resemblance to the originals. Continue reading

December 7, 2017

Tommy Wiseau

Tommy Wiseau is an American actor and filmmaker. He produced and directed ‘The Room’ (2003), which has been described by many critics as ‘one of the worst movies ever made’ and has gained cult film status. He also directed the 2004 documentary ‘Homeless in America’ and the 2015 sitcom ‘The Neighbors.’

Wiseau is secretive about his early life. In various interviews, he has claimed to have lived in France ‘a long time ago,’ asserted that he grew up in New Orleans, and described having ‘an entire family’ in Chalmette, Louisiana. Continue reading