It appears to be Opposite Week at TypePad, the publisher of this blog: the spam filter has been trapping legitimate comments and allowing hundreds of spam comments to pass through. As a result, I’ve missed a couple of legitimate comments. I’ve combed through the dross and hope I’ve located all the gold; if I’ve missed your comment, please let me know.
Meanwhile, I’ve added another level of security: the annoying but useful verification code. Please don’t let it deter you from leaving a comment; I promise I’ll loosen the reins when TypePad fixes the problem.
For your amusement, here are some of the choicest spam comments that reached my in-box:
All I hear is often a bunch of whining about something that you could fix when you werent too busy looking for attention.
If you spiel golf or lawn tennis, you peril excruciation from average brass.
The next time I read a blog, I hope it doesnt disappoint me as considerably as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I truly thought youd have some thing intriguing to say. [Posted by “cheapnfljerseys168.”]
Haystack is a domain-renowned pain in the neck therapist.
She gazed rather long at him, without any answer, and, in spite of the shadow in which he was standing, she saw (or fancied she saw) the expression [URL of a “cheap designer handbags” site inserted here] both of his face and his eyes.
This impression once in a while the privileged of your workforce begins to front like lousy oranges.
If annoyance becomes stern when doing one or more of these of sentence, it may admit gibbousness.
And my favorite:
I cant believe youre not a lot more popular simply because you surely have the gift.
The event was sponsored by The Hub Bay Area, the first U.S. location of an international network of collaborative workspaces for social innovators. The actual office won't open for a couple of weeks, but the renderings look appealing and the Brower Center is a beautiful and inspirational addition to downtown Berkeley.
A handful of observations I didn't include in my InBerkeley story but thought you'd enjoy:
One of the group workspaces at The Hub is called The Hubble, which appears to be a portmanteau of hub and huddle. (It does not appear to be connected to the Hubble Telescope, which was named for astronomer Edwin P. Hubble.) Love the name. It has room for eight people and is surrounded by frosted glass walls that form a writeable surface. Love the concept.
The home page of the Bay Area Hub website includes this phrase: "During the day, The Hub is a dynamic, collision-rich workspace..." Collision-rich? Ow! I hope they have really good liability insurance.
Last night's panel featured the founders of three prominent social-innovation organizations: Kiva, Virgance, and Change.org. Not only do the three companies represent different approaches to social change, but their names represent three distinct name styles. I'm working on a post comparing the three names.
Filing my report on InBerkeley.com required my learning the rudiments of WordPress. I'm told it's a vastly superior blogging platform to TypePad (which hosts my own blog), but naturally I felt like a complete oaf. Learning stuff is hard!
If you find yourself in downtown Berkeley, do check out the Brower Center, which was designed by prominent Bay Area architect Daniel Solomon to the most rigorous "green" standards. (Example: recycled rainwater in the toilets.) Through Jan. 31, 2010, there's a stunning exhibit in the main-floor Hazel Wolf Gallery of the large-format black-and-white photographs of Sebastião Salgado, which span 30 years and several continents. Born in Brazil, Salgado began his career as an economist and taught himself photography in order to document the lives of the world's poor, displaced, and oppressed people. Despite what may seem to be depressing subject matter, the photographs are breathtakingly beautiful. Definitely worth a visit.
* I included the Brower Center's address in the InBerkeley post but neglected to do so here: 2150 Allston Way. Thanks, Jon Carroll, for the reminder.
Hello ... hello? My goodness, there certainly are a lot of you out there. Can you hear me OK? Everybody check in at the front desk? Good. Welcome to Fritinancy, new readers! I know some of you have come from Twitter—hi there, tweeps!—and from StumbleUpon and Facebook and Digg and Delicious. Oh, look: there's the gang from Beancounters! And some of you have ventured in from the big cities: Kottke, AdWeek, the comments on BitchPh.D. And did I mention Twitter? Yes, I think I did. Sorry: it's been kind of a crazy 24 hours.
Where was I? Right.
So on Wednesday I wrote a post in which I had some fun with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and her interview with the founders of Twitter. And, well, one thing led to another, and instead of a cozy little group that could fit in my backyard, I suddenly had a stadiumful of blog visitors and about ten times more comments than I receive in an average week. For the record, and because I know some of you are keeping score, this blog generally gets about 250 visitors a day, most of them through random (often very random) Google searches. Only about 30 are return visitors (or as I like to think of you, in the warmest and most affectionate of ways, "my base"). So when I get upward of 7,500 visitors in one 24-hour period, it sort of gets my attention. And when during the same period I pick up 80 new Twitter followers (Are they expecting me to lead them somewhere? What a responsibility!), I likewise take notice.
It's been very giddy and exciting, even though I know most of you are going to mosey on as soon as you discover that I do satire only occasionally, and most of the time I plod along, minding my own business—literally. The main menu here is names and brands and, you know, the quirks of the English language. I'm so sorry to disappoint, but that's how it goes. Yes, I've been known to branch out when I'm feeling, how you say, passionate about a subject. But mostly I keep my head down and do my job, hoping to catch the attention of a brilliant creative director or CEO willing to throw large sums of cash in my direction for creating wonderful, memorable, available names.
But gee, it sure has been a real treat having the rest of you here. A couple of points of clarification, and a couple of ground rules, and then I'll go back to alphabetizing your business cards. About the Dowd parody: Yes, I realize that MoDo was having a little fun herself. Yes, I think she generously shared the wit and charm of Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone. No, I don't think Twitter is the equivalent of the telephone, except in a general sense (both are vehicles for communication).
As for the ground rules: Numero uno, I can handle criticism, but I appreciate civil language. Numero two-o, if you want your comment published you have to leave a real e-mail address in the Comments form. Don't worry; I'm the only who will see it. But if it says "anonymous at podunk dot net" (for example), your comment will be read by me and me alone, and your shot at the spotlight will, sadly, be lost.
All right then! Before I leave, how're you doing with the snacks? Need any coffee, donuts, bacon, Tropicana? No? Hey, you've been swell. I mean it. The best! Come back soon, you hear?
Twelve hours after we learned the world-changing news, I'm still struggling to find the words to express my profound, complex, almost delirious joy.
We have elected a president named Barack Hussein Obama. A president who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. A president who doesn't just pay lip service to the U.S. Constitution but who actually taught constitutional law. A president whose father was a black African, and whose skin color would, in the shamefully near past, have prevented him from drinking from certain water fountains in certain parts of these United States.
Later today I hope to gather some of the comments that swirled through my Twitter stream last night: a wonderful, polyphonic chorus from all over the country and the world. Right now, though, I hope you'll indulge me one small, personal anecdote:
My nephew was born on the morning of September 11, 2001: the very best news I received on that very worst of days. During all seven years of Joshua's life, George W. Bush has been president of the United States. For millions of us grown-ups, those years have been dark ones filled with anger and despair. But Joshua has been too young for politics. I doubt he'll have many direct memories of the Bush Administration. Instead, he is entering his age of reason in our own new Age of Reason. He will grow up as part of the Obama Generation.
And that thought fills me with confidence, happiness, and hope.
Some blogs I've been enjoying lately(and haven't mentioned previously):
I discovered Lexiophiles when, to my flattered surprise, it included Fritinancy among its "Top 100 Language Blogs." (I'm at #26. I'm in some very impressive company, but I seem to be the only "language" blogger who focuses on branding, naming, and other commercial applications of words.) Lists like this one often are shameless link bait, but the Lexiophiles blog is of real value to anyone with an interest in language. Each post appears in English plus one other language, and as far as I can tell the translations are done by actual humans. (Not that there aren't errors...) Here, for example, is a post on Spanish tongue-twisters (trabalenguas) in English and in Spanish.
Nothing to do with language at all, but I just can't stop telling people about WalkScore. Enter your address and ZIP code (U.S. only; sorry) and find out how walkable your neighborhood is on a scale from 0 to 100. Mine is 80--"very walkable"--although a neighbor just three blocks away scored 97, "walker's paradise," which seems more accurate. Most days I do fine without a car. Even more interesting, the Los Angeles neighborhood I grew up in (Miracle Mile) scores an 85! Yep, Los Angeles. And WalkScore apparently doesn't even know about my old elementary school, a block and a half from our house; it doesn't show up in the results. Back in the day, my brothers and I walked or biked everywhere (or took the bus), partly because our mother didn't drive. That's right: in Los Angeles.
By now, just about everybody has blogged about Wordle, but see if that stops me from chiming in. Wordle creates beautiful tag clouds out of your blog post, web page, or other text. I'd show you an example, as Beancounters did, but whew--too much work to save and reproduce. Just go over there and play with it.
Why does German sound--well ... funny to English speakers? Toronto grad student (possibly a professor by now) Daniel Bader explains in this post from 2005. Synopsis: it's because English "developed something rather unique in a language, two virtually completely distinct registers," with neologisms being coined from ancient Greek and Latin and everyday vocabulary coming from Anglo-Saxon and French. Not so in German, where neologisms are cobbled together from German. Which sounds funny.
And speaking of, or in, German, if schadenfreude's your game, you'll love Typos in Print, which ferrets out misspellings, usage errors, and proofreading slips in popular fiction, nonfiction, and even--gasp!--Strunk and White. You can play along at home, according to blog author Tim Stewart:
Go to amazon.com, select the "Books" section , enter a commonly misspelled word (such as embarassed, occurence, or even inteligence) as your search query, and then hit "Go." Then sort the results by "Bestselling" and chuckle at the book titles and snippets that come up. People, those are real, live published typos. Copyeditors of the world, untie!
OK, this has nothing to do with naming, writing, or branding. But it does have to do with language, and besides I just can't resist sharing it.
Turns out there's a Finnish word, valituskuoro--literally, "complaints choir"--that describes a situation in which a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. One winter day a couple of artists in Helsinki decided to turn the expression into an actual Complaints Choir with lyrics and music. One thing led to another, and to date some 15 or 16 similar choirs have organized around the world, from Juneau to Jerusalem.
What do Complaints Choirs complain about? The fundamental things, mostly: deadlines, dead-end jobs, high prices, weak beer. And there are some idiosyncratic kvetches: For example, a large and spirited Budapest choir complains, to an infectious beat, that "my clothes look better on others."
You can read about Complaints Choirs, including how to organize your own, on this web site. And if you're in Chicago today (Sunday), watch for several surprise performances around the city, and one non-surprise performance at about 4:15 p.m. at the Cloud Gate in Millennium Park.
In the beginning, which is to say January 2007, there was I Can Has Cheezburger, a special place for cuuute kitty photos with absurdist, oddly spelled, strangely syntaxed captions. The captioned photos, also called image macros, became known as LOLcats, a blend of the "laughing out loud" acronym and "cats."
In April, Anil Dash (vice president of Six Apart, which begat TypePad, which begat this blog and many others) acknowledged and analyzed the phenomenon in his post Cats Can Has Grammar. Dash identified three primary formulas in LOLcats syntax:
Invisible Item. Variations on the seminal Invisible Bike, these are images of cats, usually in midair, with captions that prompt us to fill in imaginary objects or actions that complete the scene. There's something brilliant to these images, speaking to our mind's ability to intuitively extrapolate unseen details.
Kitty Pidgin. And finally, the newly dominant lolcats, of the family I Can Has Cheezeburger? These seem to be spawning nearly infinite variations, and have exploded in popularity since being named "lolcats" instead of the more general "image macro" or "cat macro".
Infinite variations indeed!
Here, for example, we have "Geoffrey Chaucer's" LOLPilgrims, a.k.a. I Can Hath Cheezburger, a witty mashup forsooth:
Jezebel leapt gracefully into the act with LOLVogue (and here, too)--actual fashion photos with LOLcats-type captions. ("We're in ur magazeen, puttin werds on your mod-uls.") Which in turn spawned French LOLVogue. You'll have to link over to Jezebel to see the very clever, fashion-insidery images; they're in Bitmap format, which TypePad doesn't support. (Are you reading this, Mr. Dash?)
Recently we experienced a fleeting visitation from the aristocrats of LOLcats: Realisticats, who use "proper grammar" and tell brutal truths, e.g.:
And now, lo, we have been blessed with The Holiez Bibul, a translation-in-progress of Old and New Testaments into kitty pidgin. Jump into the collaboration if you're feeling up to the task. For inspiration, here are the opening verses of Job 1 (all spelling and syntax intentional and authentic):
1. In teh land of Uz wuz a man calded Job. Teh man was goodz, afraid of teh Ceiling Cat and evilz.
2. Teh man hadz seven sunz and tree doters,
3. And lots of sheepz and camlez and rinoceruseses and servnts, srsly.
4. His sunz tok turns mading cookies, and they all eated them.
5. And Job wuz liek "Oh noes! Wut if cookies were sin? Gota prey, just in cased."