May 1, 2019

Monkey Selfie

Celebes crested macaque

The monkey selfie copyright dispute is a series of disputes about the copyright status of selfies taken by a group of macaques using equipment belonging to the British nature photographer David Slater.

The disputes involve Wikimedia Commons and the blog ‘Techdirt,’ which have hosted the images following their publication in newspapers in July 2011 over Slater’s objections, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have argued that the macaque should be assigned the copyright. Continue reading

April 30, 2019

Bubblegram

Focus

bubblegram (also known as ‘laser crystal,’ ‘3D crystal engraving,’ or ‘vitrography’) is a solid block of transparent plastic that has been exposed to intersecting laser beams in appropriately to induce a chemical reaction via heat or photonic excitation, creating bubbles or nodes where the plastic has a different index of refraction.

A complex or highly detailed image occupying a 5 cm cubic volume typically requires the creation of tens of thousands of such points. Continue reading

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April 28, 2019

Fannie Mae

Subprime

The Big Short

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, is a United States government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) and, since 1968, a publicly traded company.

Founded in 1938 during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal, the corporation’s purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgage loans in the form of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), allowing lenders to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market by reducing the reliance on locally based savings and loan associations (or ‘thrifts’). Continue reading

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April 27, 2019

JT LeRoy

Sarah

Jeremiah ‘Terminator’ LeRoy is a literary persona created in the 1990s by American writer Laura Albert. JT was presented as the author of three books of fiction, which were purportedly semi-autobiographical accounts by a teenage boy of his experiences of poverty, drug use, and emotional and sexual abuse in his childhood and adolescence from rural West Virginia to California.

Albert wrote these works, and communicated with people in the persona of JT via phone and e-mail. Following the release of the first novel ‘Sarah,’ Albert’s sister-in-law Savannah Knoop began to make public appearances as the supposed writer. The works attracted considerable literary and celebrity attention, and the authenticity of LeRoy has been a subject of debate, even as details of the creation came to light in the 2000s. Continue reading

April 25, 2019

Dooring

Dutch Reach

Dooring is a traffic collision in which a cyclist rides into a car door or is struck by a car door that was opened quickly without checking first for cyclists by using the side mirror and/or performing a proper shoulder check out and back.

The width of the door zone in which this can happen varies, depending upon the model of car one is passing. The zone can be almost zero for a vehicle with gull-wing doors or much larger for a truck. Dooring can happen when a driver has parked and is exiting their vehicle, or when passengers are exiting from cars, taxis and ride shares into the path of a cyclist approaching from the rear. Continue reading

April 24, 2019

Vidalia Onion

Vidalia Georgia

A Vidalia onion is one of several varieties of sweet onion grown in a production area defined by law of the U.S. state of Georgia since 1986 and the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Varieties include the hybrid Yellow Granex, varieties of Granex parentage, and similar varieties as recommended by the Vidalia Onion Committee and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

The onions are named Vidalia because they were historically grown in the town of Vidalia, Georgia. The cultivation of Vidalia onions started in the early 1930s. The different varieties are unusually sweet compared to other onions due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which Vidalia onions are grown. The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990.

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April 22, 2019

Gritty

Gritty is the official mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League (NHL) team. He is a 7-foot furry orange creature with googly eyes who wears Flyers’ gear. Gritty has been compared to the Phillie Phanatic, the mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.

He was created by Brian Allen of Flyland Designs with help from David Raymond, the first man to portray the Phillie Phanatic. Gritty was introduced on September 24, 2018. According to his official biography, Gritty emerged after construction at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers’ home arena, disturbed his secret hideout. Within the months following his debut, he became an internet sensation and made appearances on several talk shows. Continue reading

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April 4, 2019

Beer Die

beer die

Beer die (or ‘snappa’) is a table-based drinking game where opposing players sit or stand at opposite ends and throw a die over a certain height with the goal of either landing the die in their opponent’s cup or having the die hit the table and bounce over the scoring area to the floor. The defending team attempts to catch the die one-handed after it hits the table, but before it touches a non-table surface.

The game typically consists of two two-player teams with each of the four players having a designated cup on the table, but can also be played one-vs-one. If the score leads to one team with a ‘victory’ rebuttal will ensue and the losing team will have a chance to redeem themselves by tossing again. Continue reading

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April 1, 2019

Smart Contract

Nick Szabo

smart contract is a computer protocol intended to digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. Smart contracts allow the performance of credible transactions without third parties. These transactions are trackable and irreversible.

Proponents of smart contracts claim that many kinds of contractual clauses may be made partially or fully self-executing, self-enforcing, or both. The aim of smart contracts is to provide security that is superior to traditional contract law and to reduce other transaction costs associated with contracting. Various cryptocurrencies have implemented types of smart contracts. Continue reading

March 28, 2019

Cold Turkey

Delirium tremens

Cold turkey refers to the abrupt cessation of a substance dependence and the resulting unpleasant experience, as opposed to gradually easing the process through reduction over time or by using replacement medication. The term comes from the piloerection or ‘goose bumps’ that occurs with abrupt withdrawal from opioids, which resembles the skin of a plucked, refrigerated turkey.

Sudden withdrawal from drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates can be extremely dangerous, leading to potentially fatal seizures. For long-term alcoholics, going cold turkey can cause life-threatening delirium tremens, rendering this an inappropriate method for breaking an alcohol addiction. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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March 1, 2019

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade by Brianna Ashby

Eighth Grade is a 2018 American comedy-drama film written and directed by comedian Bo Burnham (in his feature directorial debut). The coming-of-age story follows the life and struggles of an eighth-grader, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of classes before graduating to high school. She struggles with social anxiety but produces vlogs giving life advice.

Burnham was inspired by his own struggles with anxiety when he began writing the screenplay in 2014. He had difficulty finding funding for the project until 2016. Shooting began in Suffern and White Plains, New York, in summer 2017. Fisher was cast after Burnham noticed her on YouTube; she led a cast including Josh Hamilton and Emily Robinson. Themes include heavy use of social media, mental health in Generation Z and sexuality and consent. Continue reading

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