August 17, 2022

Hapax Legomenon

Zipf's law

In corpus linguistics, a hapax [hah-paks] legomenon [luh-gaa-muh-naan] (sometimes abbreviated to hapax, plural hapaxes) is a word or an expression that occurs only once within a context: either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.

The term is sometimes incorrectly used to describe a word that occurs in just one of an author’s works but more than once in that particular work. Hapax legomenon is a transliteration of Greek: ‘being said once.’ Continue reading

July 28, 2022

Trek

Head badge

Trek Bicycle Corporation is a bicycle and cycling product manufacturer and distributor under brand names Trek, Electra Bicycle Company, Bontrager, and Diamant Bikes. The company has previously manufactured bikes under the Gary Fisher, LeMond Racing Cycles, Klein, and Villiger Bikes brand names.

With its headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin, Trek bicycles are marketed through 1,700 independently owned bicycle shops across North America, subsidiaries in Europe, Asia, South Africa, as well as distributors in 90 countries worldwide. Most Trek bicycles are manufactured outside the U.S. in countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, and China. Continue reading

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July 25, 2022

Brewster Kahle

Internet Archive

Brewster Kahle [keyl] (b. 1960) is an American digital librarian, a computer engineer, Internet entrepreneur, and advocate of universal access to all knowledge. Kahle founded the Internet Archive and Alexa Internet. In 2012 he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.

Kahle and his wife, Mary Austin, run the Kahle/Austin Foundation. The Foundation supports the Free Software Foundation for its GNU project, among other projects. Continue reading

July 18, 2022

Shit Life Syndrome

Diseases of despair

Hillbilly Elegy

Shit life syndrome (SLS) is a phrase used by physicians to describe the effect that a variety of poverty or abuse-induced disorders can have on patients.

Journalist Sarah O’Connor’s 2018 article for the ‘Financial Times’ ‘Left behind: can anyone save the towns the economy forgot?’ on shit life syndrome in the English coastal town of Blackpool won the 2018 Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils. O’Connor wrote: ‘Blackpool exports healthy skilled people and imports the unskilled, the unemployed, and the unwell. As people overlooked by the modern economy wash up in a place that has also been left behind, the result is a quietly unfolding health crisis.” Continue reading

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July 1, 2022

Knucklebones

Jacks

Knucklebones, also known as scatter jacks, snobs, astragalus, tali, dibs, fivestones, jacks, or jackstones, among many other names, is a game of dexterity played with a number of small objects that are thrown up, caught, and manipulated in various manners. It is ancient in origin and is found in various cultures worldwide.

The name ‘knucklebones’ is derived from the Ancient Greek version of the game, which uses the astragalus (a bone in the ankle, or hock) of a sheep. However, different variants of the game from various cultures use other objects, including stones, seashells, seeds, and cubes. Continue reading

June 28, 2022

Democratic Backsliding in the U.S.

Democratic backsliding

Democratic backsliding has been ongoing in the U.S. since the late 2010s. The V-Dem Institute’s electoral democracy index score for the United States peaked in 2015 and declined sharply after 2016, for which year it was also downgraded to ‘flawed democracy’ by the Economist Intelligence Unit in its annual ‘Democracy Index’ report. Both V-Dem and Freedom House downgraded the United States in 2018.

Iranian–German sociologist Behrouz Alikhani cites the government following the interests of global corporations rather than citizens and loosening of campaign finance laws, especially the ‘Citizens United’ decision, to enable the wealthy greater influence in politics. Political scientist Wendy Brown argued in 2006 that the United States was de-democratizing because of neoliberalism and neoconservatism. In a 2021 book, historian Karen J. Greenberg argued that policies adopted during the war on terror enabled later democratic backsliding under the Trump administration. Continue reading

June 21, 2022

Bodega Cat

Bodega

A bodega [boh-dey-guh] cat is a type of working cat that inhabits a bodega, which in New York City English refers to a convenience store or deli. Much like farm cats, library cats, and ship cats, a bodega cat is typically a mixed breed cat kept as a form of biological pest control to manage or prevent rodent infestations.

A bodega cat may be a domesticated cat that is kept by the bodega owner, or a semi-feral cat that the bodega owner attracts to the store through regular feeding. Public health departments typically prohibit bodega cats under food codes that ban live animals from establishments where consumable goods are sold. Continue reading

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June 15, 2022

Three Wolf Moon

Three Wolf Moon

Three Wolf Moon is a T-shirt designed by artist Antonia Neshev featuring three wolves howling at the Moon. It gained popularity after attracting sarcastic reviews on Amazon.com attributing great power to it, such as making the wearer irresistible to women, striking fear into other males, and having magical healing abilities.

German scholar Melvin Haack considers it to be a notable example of a redneck joke. The reviews have been included in studies of such online sarcasm. The shirt has also been been described as parodic of the alpha male archetype.

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June 12, 2022

Bored Ape

bored ape

Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a non-fungible token (NFT) collection built on the Ethereum blockchain. The collection features profile pictures of cartoon apes that are procedurally generated by an algorithm.

The parent company of Bored Ape Yacht Club is Yuga Labs. The project launched in April 2021. Owners of a Bored Ape NFT are granted access to a private online club, exclusive in-person events, and intellectual property rights for the image. Continue reading

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May 28, 2022

Zima

Malt drink

Zima Clearmalt was a clear, lightly carbonated alcoholic beverage made and distributed by the Coors Brewing Company. Introduced in 1993, it was marketed as an alternative to beer, an example of what is now often referred to as a cooler, with 4.7–5.4% alcohol by volume. Its production in the U.S. ceased in 2008, but it was still marketed in Japan until 2021. MillerCoors promoted a limited release of Zima in the summers of 2017 and 2018.

Zima means ‘winter’ in Slavic languages. It was launched nationally in the United States as Zima Clearmalt in 1993 after being test-marketed two years earlier in the cities of Nashville, Sacramento, and Syracuse. The lemon-lime drink was part of the ‘clear craze’ of the 1990s that produced products such as Crystal Pepsi and Tab Clear. Early advertisements for Zima described it as a ‘truly unique alcohol beverage’ and used the tagline ‘Zomething different.’ Continue reading

May 23, 2022

Socialist Fraternal Kiss

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love

The socialist fraternal kiss was a special form of greeting between socialist leaders. The act demonstrated the special connection that exists between socialist countries, consisting of an embrace, along with a series of three kisses on alternate cheeks. In rare cases, when the two leaders considered themselves exceptionally close, the kisses were given on the mouth rather than on the cheeks.

The fraternal kiss became famous via Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev, who were photographed exercising the ritual. The photograph became widespread and it was subsequently reproduced into a graffiti painting on the Berlin Wall named ‘My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love.’ Continue reading

May 3, 2022

Preparedness Paradox

y2k

The preparedness paradox is the proposition that if a society or individual acts effectively to mitigate a potential disaster such as a pandemic or other catastrophe so that it causes less harm, the avoided danger will be perceived as having been much less serious because of the limited damage actually caused.

The paradox is the incorrect perception that there had been no need for careful preparation as there was little harm, although in reality the limitation of the harm was due to preparation. Several cognitive biases can consequently hamper proper preparation for future risks. Continue reading