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Fugazi – Hardcore punk foursome from Washington

Hardcore punk foursome from Washington, D.C., known for its anticommercial purism. Long before Pearl Jam took on TicketMaster, Fugazi refused to charge more than five dollars for concerts. Despite offers of lucrative deals, the band has eschewed major labels to become one of the best-selling independent acts ever.

Lionized as “the conscience of the American music underground” (and invoked by credibility-hungry celebrities such as Keanu Reeves and proto riot grrrl Joan Jett), Fugazi has maintained its constituency with a string of powerful “harDCore” albums–Repeater (1991), In on the Killtaker (1993), and Red Medicine (1995)–and a long tradition of pummeling live shows that double as a pulpit for admonitory sermons.

Lead singer and ex-Minor Threat front man Ian MacKaye (b. 1962) is well known for his opposition to moshing, and rowdy audience members frequently find themselves singled out and sent packing (with a full refund, of course). In 1996 Fugazi embarked… Continue reading

Educational Testing Service

Princeton, New Jersey, organization which administers the country’s best-known standardized tests, including the principal arbiters of higher education admissions (e.g. SAT, CAT, GRE, LSAT). ETS has been under attack for years by Naderite groups bent on exposing the tests’ cultural bias against women, minorities, and the poor, beginning with Ralph Nader’s own 1980 Reign of ETS: The Corporation That Makes Up Minds (co-author Allan Nairn) and David Owen’s 1985 None of the Above. The latter led to the formation of FairTest, which filed a Civil Rights complaint against ETS and the College Board in February of 1994.

ETS has responded in part by replacing the vocabulary section of the SAT with more reading comprehension questions, “recentering” the test around the average score of 500, allowing students to use calculators, and experimenting with computer adaptive testing. None of these reforms, however, address the fact that a pricey Stanley Kaplan, Princeton Review,… Continue reading

Call-waiting

Call-interrupting service that gives an answerable beeping sound to a call receiver already on the phone. This replacement for the busy signal has created a new phone-etiquette vocabulary ranging from the straightforward “Let me get that” and “I’m on the other” to the more oblique “Where are you” (implying “Can I call you back?”).

Removing any doubt about missing a call because of an in-use line, call-waiting undoubtedly also contributed to the increased time that people spend on the phone.

First introduced by local phone companies in the mid-’70s, call-waiting was not prevalent enough to merit social commentary from Miss Manners, Dave Barry, and Dear Abby until the late ’80s, when each bemoaned the “last come, first served” innovation-despite phone company commercials showing Dad getting through to Mom even when there’s a phone-addicted teen at home.

(Deadly to most modem and fax connections, call-waiting can be disabled by beginning calls… Continue reading