The hook for Shapiro’s story is Going Clear, Alex Gibney’s new documentary about the Church of Scientology, which will have its premiere March 29 on HBO. (Shapiro said the film aired “last week.” Maybe for critics, but the rest of us will have to wait.) The film is based on the book of the same title by Lawrence Wright; the book was published in the U.S. in 2013 (and was short-listed for a National Book Award), but has not yet been released in the U.K. There have also been “serious challenges” to the release of the film, Shapiro reports, “because Britain does not have the same free speech protections as the United States.”
The libel tourism coinage is credited to the British media lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, who cited “the menace of libel tourism” in a 2010 opinion piece for The Guardian. The term had already been in circulation for at least a few years by then. It appeared in a January 2008 article by Doreen Carvajal in The New York Times about a Scandinavian case:
You’re an investment bank in Iceland with a complaint about a tabloid newspaper in Denmark that published critical articles in Danish. Whom do you call?
A pricey London libel lawyer.
That is called libel tourism by lawyers in the media trade. And Britain remains a comfortable destination for the rich in search of friendly courts, which have already weighed complaints from people who consider themselves unfairly tarred with labels like tax dodger, terrorist financier or murky Qaeda operative.
Russian oligarchs and Saudi billionaires have also found refuge in British libel law, Carvajal writes. Her succinct explanation:
Britain is a legal refuge because of defamation standards rooted in common law. They essentially assume that any offending speech is false and the writer or author must prove that it is in fact true to prevail against the charge.
In the United States, with its First Amendment protection for free speech, the situation tilts in the opposite direction: To succeed, libel plaintiffs must prove that the speech is false and published with a reckless disregard for the truth.
The expanded Dictionary.com entry brings us up to date:
After several high-profile libel suits filed in the U.K. against U.S. authors resulted in judgments against the authors—lawsuits that, in the opinion of many jurists, probably would not have held up in a U.S. court of law—Congress in 2010 passed the SPEECH (Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage) Act. The title of the act speaks volumes: foreign libel judgments are no longer enforceable in the U.S. unless they meet the same high legal standards in libel matters as required by U.S. law, including that they do not violate the First Amendment right of free speech of an American author.Thus the tourist must return home.
SPEECH is a masterly example of the bureaucratic backronym.
Besides libel tourism, there are a few other examples of the “X tourism” formula.
Birth tourism, also known as maternity tourism, is travel to another country for the purpose of giving birth. Reasons for the practice, according to a Wikipedia entry, “include access to the destination country's healthcare system, circumvention of communist China's one-child policy and (in countries that recognize jus soli) birthright citizenship for the child.” According to a CBS News story published February 9, 2015, the number of Chinese women giving birth in the United States “more than doubled to about 10,000 in 2012.”
Medical tourism is travel to another country for health care, often for economic reasons. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has estimated that 750,000 U.S. residents travel abroad for medical care each year; a CNBC report put the 2013 figure at 900,000, and noted that the worldwide market is $20 billion to $40 billion. Websites such as MedicalTourism.com (“Your Passport to a World of Options”) and PatientsBeyondBorders.com (“The Most Trusted Resource in Medical Travel”) provide information and patient accounts; companies like Planet Hospital (“A New Way to Care”) handle the logistics.
A subset of medical tourism is surgery tourism, and a sub-subset is plastic surgery tourism, which New Yorker contributor Patricia Marx touches on in her “Letter from Seoul,” published in the March 23 issue. Her subtitle: “Why is South Korea the world’s plastic-surgery capital?” Her answer:
“Surgery tourists” from abroad make up about a third of the business in South Korea, and, of those, most come from China. One reason is that, throughout Asia, the “Korean wave” of pop culture (called hallyu) shapes not only what music you should listen to but what you should look like while listening to it. Cosmetic transformations can be so radical that some of the hospitals offer certificates of identity to foreign patients, who might need help convincing immigration officers that they’re not in the Witness Protection Program.
Some of the clinic names Marx spotted on her visit: Small Face, Magic Nose, Dr. 4 Nose, Her She, Before and After, Reborn, Top Class, Wannabe, 4 Ever, Cinderella, Center for Human Appearance, and April 31 Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Marx’s translator explained “Small Face” to her: “Koreans, and Asians in general, are self-conscious about having big heads,” he said. “This is why in group photos a girl will try to stand far in the back to make her face relatively smaller.” Also popular in South Korea: the “Bagel Girl” look—bagel being a portmanteau of “baby-faced” and “glamorous.”
Kidvasionis a month-long promotion of the San Diego Tourism Authority.
This blend is what The Name Inspector would call awkwordplay: a mismatch in syllable emphasis. In one of the blended words, invasion, the stress falls on the second syllable; but in the compound it’s “kid” that needs to be emphasized.
Aside from that, I wonder how many parents will read “kids free deals” and think “kids-free deals” and either be disappointed or elated, depending.
I’m not entirely certain, but I think Waffullicious, coined by IHOP to describe the chain’s limited-time waffle offering (waffering?), is a three-way: waffle plus full plus delicious.
Here’s how IHOP describes the Bac ’n’ Cheddar variety:
Our traditional thick, crisp Belgian waffle with chunks of chopped hickory-smoked bacon and gooey cheddar cheese baked right in, then topped with more bacon for a savory waffle experience unlike any other.
The Very Blueberry version is stuffed with blueberries and cheesecake.
So what we have here are wafflesfull of delicious. I’d put the emphasis (semantic, not syllabic) on full: According to the Impulsive Buy blog, each order—that’s a single waffle—contains between 750 and 820 calories.
At least the Waffullicious name goes down smoothly.
Affordaganic, a combination of affordable and organic, is Rodale’scontribution to the blendfest.
Until I discovered “affordaganic” via a Twitter hashtag, I hadn’t known that Rodale, Inc., the 84-year-old healthy-living publisher, had launched what they called an “eco-luxury online retail store.” Rodale’s has an apostrophe-s to distinguish it from the parent company. I’m puzzled by that “luxury” descriptor: I’d call the clothing, home, and beauty offerings moderately priced (a lip-balm trio for $12, dresses for $55 and $65, bras—mostly of the sport variety—for under $50).
“Affordaganic” sounds forced to me, and the whole concept of “affordability” is wobbly and subjective. If you have a lot of money, everything’s affordable; if you have none, nothing is.
At least they’re only trotting it out on Fridays.
Fun fact: Since its founding in 1930, Rodale has been based in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, a town founded in 1759 by Moravian immigrants whose name has a Biblical antecedent. In the New Testament, Emmaus—Hammat in Hebrew, Imwas in Arabic—is where Jesus is said to have appeared to two of his followers after his resurrection. In Hebrew, the word means “warm spring.” Two other Pennsylvania towns founded by Moravians have Biblical names: Bethlehem and Nazareth. Emmaus, PA, is pronounced eh-MAY-us.
I like the stark simplicity of the headline, which evokes the faux-Twainism without recycling it. The four-word tagline echoes the rhythm and supplies the missing season.
A few days ago, when I shot this billboard, the thermometer read 58°F at noon, on its way up to a high of 61°. Yes, in late July. I spent some time over the weekend at the Dolphin Club in San Francisco, and everyone who wasn’t in the water was dressed exactly like those kids. People wear earmuffs and mittens to baseball games here. I am not exaggerating.
Lake Tahoe, four hours to the east, is spectacular, and I love it, but it isn’t exactly Death Valley, temperature-wise. In Truckee on the north shore, elevation 5,900 feet, recent highs have been in the mid-70s, and overnight lows in the 30s and 40s. It’s true there’s no fog, but there can be afternoon thunderstorms—unheard of here on the coast—and snow in August.
HOHO: Acronym for “hop-on hop-off.” (Sometimes spelled HoHo.) Describes a type of sightseeing bus that allows passengers to disembark whenever they reach a stop that interests them, then re-board when it’s convenient. Tickets are valid for a specified period of time, typically 24 hours.
Hop-on hop-off buses are used by tour operators in many cities around the world (and even in the Grand Canyon), but the use of HOHO as a semi-official acronym appears most frequently in connection with the Indian tourist industry.
Q : Can you explain me what is “Hop On Hop Off” A : Hop-On Hop-Off tour, you have the freedom to spend time at each sightseeing. Your ticket will allows you to board any bus.
There are indications that the HOHO acronym is spreading to other parts of the world; see, for example, this query on TripAdvisor about a “HoHo bus” in New York City and this post on The Rome Toolkit, which notes that there are “no less than seven hop on, hop off tour (HOHO) sightseeing buses operating daily in Rome.” The London Toolkit also refers to “two major operators of the standard HOHO buses.”
A British visitor to New York City reported in 2012 that “the HoHo bus” delivered “excellent value for money” and was “a brilliant way to see the city and get your bearings.”
HOHO buses are typically double-decker with open tops and a lowered rear platform for easy boarding and disembarking. One of the newer HOHO buses in London is officially called the New Bus for London (NB4L) and unofficially called the Boris bus, after Boris Johnson, the city’s mayor.
The ad is cleverly plotted and well acted (the expression on the face of the teenage girl as she shleps down the hotel corridor is pure bershon), and the multiple payoffs at the end are satisfying. What stands out, though, is the repeated appropriation of the company name as an almost-expletive:
It doesn’t get any booking better than this!
Look at the booking view!
This is exactly what you booking needed!
Bask in the booking glory!
As a general principle, associating your brand name with an obscenity is a bad idea. But as AdFreak says in its review of the commercial, “the fact that it's vaguely explicit makes it just self-deprecating enough to not be too abrasive.”
Here’s another thing about booking: it’s a Britishism that’s infiltrated American English only in the last 20 years or so. (Americans have traditionally preferred to reserve restaurant tables and make reservations for theater seats and vacation travel.) When Ben Yagoda wrote about book (tickets, table, room) in an October 2011 post on his Not One Off Britishisms (NOOBs) blog, he noted that the usage started surging in the US around 1993, “the sweet spot for NOOBs.”
Booking.com is owned by Priceline, an American company, but it’s based in Amsterdam; the ad agency that produced the spot is the Amsterdam office of Portland-based Wieden + Kennedy. That European perspective may have influenced the choice of the company name and the push to fully Americanize booking.
Speaking of euphemistic expletives and brand-name dropping, a play I saw last night at Berkeley Rep is gloriously full of both. Troublemaker, by Dan LeFranc, is a live-action adventure comic featuring a posse of 12-year-olds who speak an idiosyncratic lingo filled with invented profanity. The play’s subtitle—“The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright”—gives you a taste; two minor characters are listed in the credits as A-Hole #1 and A-Hole #2. Tween tough-gal Loretta Beretta (great name!) snarls some of the best lines: “I’ll rip off your breadstick and shove it up your Olive Garden.” “Shut your St. Francis and move your Assisi.” “You’re lucky I don’t break your banana, remove it from your republic, and shove it up your gap.” In his review for Theater Dogs, Chad Jones wrote that it’s “pretend swearing taken to such an outrageous level that it’s actually beautiful in its own poetic way.” The play ends its Berkeley run on Sunday; if it shows up in your city, go see it.
Olvera Street (Calle Olvera) is the oldest street in Los Angeles, dating back to the city’s founding in 1781. Situated opposite Union Station and named for Los Angeles County’s first judge, Agustín Olvera, the street has been a tourist-friendly “Mexican marketplace” since 1930. It’s artificial (the commercial strip was planned and executed by a wealthy Anglo, Christine Stirling) yet also authentic (several historic buildings still stand). In other words, it’s a living metaphor of Los Angeles.
On a recent trip to L.A. I visited Olvera Street for the first time in many years. I found much unchanged (a few establishments, like La Luz del Día restaurant, have been around since the 1950s), while other things have adapted to changing times.
There were lots of Día de los Muertos items for sale, including these same-sex wedding-cake toppers.
A “Who Would Jesus Deport?” T-shirt.
Painted-tile bathroom sign in Spanglish.
I’m not sure why it’s “Mr.” Churro and not “Señor,” but the name does fit the bilingual flavor of the rest of the sign. And of course I’m always happy to meet a Mr. business name in the wild.
This mug was one of many souvenirs bearing the “Latina – Proud, Educated and Powerful!” motto. It appeared to be a girls-only phenomenon.
If you haven’t found a parking sign with your child’s name, maybe you’ve been shopping in the wrong place.
Travel note: I recommend taking one of the Metro Line (rapid-transit) trains into Union Station and wandering around to admire the spectacular Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and décor. While you’re on Olvera Street, allow some time to view the long-hidden fresco by the great Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). Originally unveiled in October 1932, the painting was whitewashed shortly afterward to obscure its “radical” subject matter. After more than 40 years of planning and preservation work, it reopened to public viewing earlier this month.
Thanatourism: Travel to destinations involving death and tragedy, including battlefields, disaster sites such as Hiroshima, and museums commemorating atrocities. From Greek thanatos (death) + tourism. Also called dark tourism, grief tourism, atrocity tourism, and morbid tourism.
Thanatourism was coined by A.V. Seaton, a British scholar specializing in the study of tourism. In a 1996 paper, “Guided by the Dark: From Thanatopsis to Thanatourism,” Seaton traced the activity of thanatourism back to the Middle Ages; it was revived during the Romantic period of the late 18th early 19th centuries. For the Romantics, Seaton wrote, Pompeii was the ultimate thanatoptic travel destination.
“Dark Tourism,” in the November 2010 issue of The Atlantic magazine, explored how Cambodia is turning “its bloody history into a sightseeing boom.” The article opens in Anlong Veng, site of a shrine to the murderous dictator Pol Pot:
The Cambodian government plans to develop this sun-baked, mine-riddled frontier town into a theme park devoted to the Khmer Rouge, the brutal regime that murdered perhaps 15 percent of Cambodia’s population when it ruled from 1975 to 1979. The planned park is of a piece with Cambodia’s larger effort to capitalize on the atrocities of its past—and to tap into a booming global industry in travel to macabre destinations, known as thanatourism.
a global demand for “authentic” attractions has turned thanatourism into an increasingly profitable sector of the tourism business. More than a million people visit Auschwitz annually, while millions more take in the Tower of London. Today’s Lonely Planeteers flock toward the bridge over the Kwai River, synonymous with the brutality of the Japanese army during World War II, and the Wolf’s Lair, where Hitler survived an assassination attempt in 1944. Tour companies offer package trips to Baghdad, Sarajevo, and Chernobyl.
Thanatourism is on sound academic footing, at least in the UK. The Institute for Dark Tourism Research was founded in 2005 at the University of Central Lancashire as “a centre of excellence for dark tourism research aimed at a global audience of academics, students, industry practitioners, policy-makers, and the media.” The iDTR sponsors research, held a symposium, and manages online discussion forums on Facebook and JISCmail.
Something about this Hipmunk ad seemed familiar to me.
San Francisco Muni bus, May 20, 2012.
Then I remembered: Back in 2008 Google introduced its first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1. The ad for the phone was, as Ben Zimmer wrote for Language Log, “packed with jocular comparative adjectives: smarterer, connecteder, funnerer.” Ben went on:
Jobs died last year, the iPod Touch website no longer includes a reference to “funnest” (it now says “It has fun written all over it”), and the G1 has evolved into the G2X. But “funner-er” lives on at Hipmunk, the San Francisco startup founded in 2010—a generation removed, in tech years, from that 2008 Android campaign.
You may be wondering about the Hipmunk name. Here’s a story about it from TechCrunch, reproduced verbatim with the usual caveat about TechCrunch’s slack writing and editing:
Like many startups in today’s Silicon Valley*, [co-founder Adam] Goldstein was struggling to find an apropo domain that was topical and more importantly, available. After dangerously flirting with (and even purchasing) domains like BouncePounce.com and Trot.me, Goldstein’s girlfriend** told him to identify a cute mammal that he could build a brand around. Hipmunk fit the bill.
You’ll notice something missing from this origin story: an explanation of how Chipmunk (I presume) became Hipmunk. I gather that Chipmunk.com wasn’t available and (“more importantly”) no one was willing to part with cash for (a) domain negotiations or (b) professional naming services. Or maybe the founders just wanted to emphasize their hipness. A follow-up question from the reporter would have been helpful.
I wrote about another super-comparative coinage—“Maker’s-er,” from Maker’s Mark—in a September 2011 post.
* Hipmunk is in San Francisco, not Silicon Valley. Different area code, more fog, etc., etc.
** I’m sorry to keep sticking it to TechCrunch, but who was doing the dangerous flirting and purchasing—Goldstein or his girlfriend? Dangling modifiers: use at your own (and your readers’) peril.
Most people assume the Camper is your own and that you have painted it yourself. The feedback our clients gave us after their Campervan trip reinforced the initial crazy idea as being a pretty good one.
Escape Campervans was founded in 2003 in New Zealand, which explains the spelling of “flavour” and “enquiries” on the website. The company opened a Los Angeles facility in 2009; I don’t know when the San Francisco depot opened, but this was the first Escape van I’ve seen. Wouldn’t it be a kick to see a parking lot full of them?