Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘brown out’

Brown Out (as in “censorship”)

Posted by Admin on June 6, 2011

Brown out as in “censorship” means that some information is available to the media and the general public, but not all of the information is made available.  An example of this would be to provide basic information to the media and general public about legal proceedings while maintaining that some of the information is confidential and cannot be shared with the media and the general public.

On November 6, 1955 the Sarasota Herald-Tribune published an article entitled, “Current Events Reports: Probe On Government Secrecy” by Richard Spong.  It reported:

A House Government Operations subcommittee is beginning hearings on an alleged “brown out” of information by government agencies.  A new House Subcommittee study of federal agency information policy should, in the words of Chairman John E. Moss (D., Calif.) “show the public the extent to which there has been a brown out of information about the public’s business.”

A recent expression that Idiomation was unable to trace back prior to the early 1950s, a brown out as it refers to censorship is a derivative of the expression black out.

See “black out” for additional information.

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Brown Out (as in “no power”)

Posted by Admin on June 3, 2011

Brown out as in “no power” (electricity) is a drop in voltage in an electrical power supply, so named because it typically causes lights to dim.  A controlled power reduction decreases the voltage on the power lines, so customers receive weaker electric current.  Brown outs can be used if total power demand exceeds the maximum available supply. The typical household does not notice the difference.

On December 28, 1965 the New York Times ran a story entitled “Merchants Fight Rome Traffic Ban, Plan Brown-Out of Stores To Force End Of Test.”  The first paragraph read:

Merchants in central Rome voted tonight to “brown out” their stores and eventually close them if the city persisted in an experimental curb on movement of private vehicles in a 35-block shopping and residential area.

During World War II, the New York Times published an article on December 11, 1943 entitled, “WPB Aide Assaults Brownout Cheats; Lack Of Voluntary Cooperation In Saving Needed Power Scored By Vanneman.”  The first paragraph read:

An end of unnecessary brilliance in the lighting of the Broadway sector and some other parts of the city was urged yesterday by Donald K. Vanneman, government requirements representative of the War Production Board, who said that “too many” business establishments had failed to do their part in the voluntary brownout intended to conserve electric power, coal and other resources. 

As you can see, the expression brown out in this instance is a derivative of the expression black out from the World War II era.

See “black out” for additional information.

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Brown Out (as in “unconscious”)

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2011

Brown out as in “unconscious” is the dimming of vision caused by loss of blood pressure or hypoxia.  It is sometimes referred to as a grey-out

A brown out can be caused by any number of things however the most common causes are shock, standing up  too quickly, experiencing positive g-force, or, oddly enough, hyperventilation from such activities as the fainting game or self-induced hypocapnia.  

Full recovery from a brown out is rapid and can be reversed quickly and effectively by lying down.  This allows the cardiovascular system to allow blood to reach the brain.

Interestingly enough, brown outs are the reverse of red outs — reddening of the vision — which is the result of negative G forces.  During brown outs, individuals can still hear, feel and speak.

A brown out can also refer to a night of heavy alcohol consumption where the individual remembers some of what happened during the time alcohol was consumed but with periods of time within that time frame where there is no recollection of what happened.  This definition has been around since the early 1980s.

Even though it’s a lesser known expression, along with the expression black out, brown out has its roots in the 1940s.

See “black out” for additional information.

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