an exercise in miscellany

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Operation Freakout

In operations and projects on March 31, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Operation Freakout, also known as Operation PC Freakout, was a Church of Scientology covert plan intended to have the US author and journalist Paulette Cooper imprisoned or committed to a mental institution. The plan, undertaken in 1976 following years of Church-initiated lawsuits and covert harassment, was meant to eliminate the perceived threat that Cooper posed to the Church and obtain revenge for her publication in 1971 of a highly critical book, The Scandal of Scientology. The Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered documentary evidence of the plot and the preceding campaign of harassment during an investigation into the Church of Scientology in 1977.

via Operation Freakout – Wikipedia


Saparmurat Niyazov

In history, people on March 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm


Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov; (19 February 1940 – 21 December 2006) was a Turkmen politician who served as President (later President for Life) of Turkmenistan from November 1990 until his death in 2006. He was First Secretary of the Turkmen Communist Party from 1985 until 1991 and continued to lead Turkmenistan for 15 years after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Foreign media criticized him as one of the world’s most totalitarian and repressive dictators, highlighting his reputation of imposing his personal eccentricities upon the country, which extended to renaming months after members of his family, and recoining the Turkmen word for bread by the name of his mother.

Decrees and laws

  • Niyazov banned the use of lip syncing at public concerts in 2005 as well as sound recordings at “musical performances on state holidays, in broadcasts by Turkem television channels, at all cultural events organized by the state… in places of mass assembly and at weddings and celebrations organized by the public,” citing a negative effect on the development of musical arts incurred by the use of recorded music.
  • Niyazov banished Dogs from the capital Ashgabat because of their “unappealing odor.”
  • According to the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan right hand-drive imported cars converted to left-hand drive were banned due to a perceived increased risk in accidents.
  • Niyazov requested that a “palace of ice” be built near the capital, even though Turkmenistan is a desert country with a hot and arid climate. The palace was built in 2008 and located near the new Turkmen State Medical University.
  • After having to quit smoking in 1997 due to his resultant heart surgery, he banned smoking in all public places and ordered all government employees to follow suit. Chewing tobacco on Turkmen soil was later banned as well.
  • In February 2004 he decreed that men should no longer wear long hair or beards.
  • He also banned news reporters and anchors from wearing make-up on television, apparently because he believed Turkmen women were already beautiful enough without make-up.
  • Gold teeth were outlawed in Turkmenistan after Niyazov suggested that the populace chew on bones to strengthen their teeth and lessen the rate at which they fall out. He said:

    “I watched young dogs when I was young. They were given bones to gnaw to strengthen their teeth. Those of you whose teeth have fallen out did not chew on bones. This is my advice.”

via Saparmurat Niyazov – Wikipedia

International Nuclear Event Scale

In science & nature on March 20, 2011 at 7:59 am

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) was introduced in 1990 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to enable prompt communication of safety significance information in case of nuclear accidents.
The scale is intended to be logarithmic.  Each increasing level represents an accident approximately ten times more severe than the previous level.  Because of the difficulty of interpreting, the INES level of an incident is assigned well after the incident occurs. Therefore, the scale has a very limited ability to assist in disaster-aid deployment.
Commonly, the organization where the nuclear incident occurs assigns it a first provisional rating, after it is being reviewed and possibly revised by the designated national radiation authority.  As INES ratings are not assigned by a central body, high-profile nuclear incidents are sometimes assigned INES ratings by the operator, by the formal body of the country, but also by scientific institutes, international authorities or other experts which may lead to confusion as to the actual severity.
A number of criteria and indicators are defined to assure coherent reporting of nuclear events by different official authorities. There are 7 levels on the INES scale; 3 incident-levels and 4 accident-levels along with a level 0.

via International Nuclear Event Scale – Wikipedia


In words & phrases on March 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Simulacrum (plural: simulacra)  is Latin for likeness or similarity and its first recorded use in the English language was in the late 16th century, used to describe a representation of another thing, such as a statue or a painting, especially of a god.  By the late 19th century, simulacrum had gathered a secondary association of inferiority: an image without the substance or qualities of the original.  Philosopher Fredric Jameson offers photorealism as an example of artistic simulacrum, where a painting is sometimes created by copying a photograph.

via Simulacrum – Wikipedia

Selling Like Hot Cakes

In words & phrases on March 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

“Hot cakes cooked in bear grease or pork lard were popular from earliest times in American. First made of cornmeal, the griddle cakes or pancakes were of course best when served piping hot and were often sold at church benefits, fairs, and other functions. So popular were they that by the beginning of the 19th century ‘to sell like hot cakes’ was a familiar expression for anything that sold very quickly effortlessly, and in quantity.” From “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997)

via Sell like hot cakes.