Nasim Najafi Aghdam, the 39-year-old woman who shot three people at YouTube’s San Bruno, California, headquarters on April 3 before killing herself, is said to have been angry about the company’s policies, especially demonetization. According to an article in Entrepreneur, she had written on her website: “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!”
Rhyme in advertising, once a well-practiced art form, is now almost defunct. As I wrote in the Visual Thesaurus a few years ago (“Ads That Rhyme: Past Their Prime?”), “By the time Orson Welles intoned ‘We will sell no wine before its time’ — a slant or ‘imperfect’ rhyme — for the Paul Masson brand in the late 1970s, Americans were experiencing verse fatigue. Within a few years, rhyming jingles had all but evaporated.”
Still, I have a soft spot for those rhyming ads of yore, which were often catchy and well crafted. So it was with a hopeful heart that I discovered a full-page, inside-back-cover ad for Geico with a seven-line verse in the March 12 issue of the New Yorker.
“Most verbs stay basically the same in different grammatical roles. ‘Walk’ looks like ‘walks’ and ‘walked.’ But the word ‘be’ looks nothing like the word ‘am,’ which looks nothing like the word ‘were.’” (Arika Okrent for Curiosity.)
When I wrote about mansplain, in September 2010, the earliest citation I found for the word was from an April 2009 Urban Dictionary entry. Now lexicographers at the OED have antedated mansplaining to a May 2008 comment about the TV show “Supernatural.”Katherine Connor Martin, Oxford University Press’s head of US dictionaries, says the OED usually waits a decade or so before adding new words, but makes exceptions when a word “is deemed important enough.” (Quartz)
The Oscar-nominated 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has inspired at least two real-world imitations, reports AdWeek. After the shooting massacre in a Parkland, Florida, high school, the group Progressive Turnout Project placed a billboard with a gun-reform challenge outside the Janesville, Wisconsin, office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has accepted $61,401 in contributions from the National Rifle Association.
“17 killed in their classrooms. Still no gun reform? How come, Paul Ryan?”
And in London, Justice4Grenfell placed three mobile billboards outside Grenfell Towers, the site of disastrous fire last year that killed 71 people.
“71 dead / and still no arrests? / How come?”
For comparison, here are the billboards that appear in the film, which stars Frances McDormand.
On Wednesday, Valentine’s Day 2018, a 19-year-old armed with an AR-15 assault rifle entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire. By the time he dumped his rifle and attempted to flee, he’d killed 17 people, mostly teenagers, and injured more than a dozen.
Mass shootings are shockingly common in the U.S.: there have beenat least 146 in the last half-century, and the rate of their occurrence has tripled since 2011. School shootings, Malcolm Gladwell wrote in The New Yorker in 2015, are a modern phenomenon; they mostly involve young white men like Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter.
How do Americans respond to random, recurring massacres? In Congress and the White House, by offering trite, ineffectual words: “thoughts and prayers.” On social media, though, a different word has surfaced repeatedly, aimed in anger and frustration at those very officials: craven.
Groundhog Day seems like an appropriate occasion to talk about “One X at a time,” the sloganclone that, like Punxsutawney Phil, keeps popping up. Year after year I point with alarm. And yet the formula thrives, in sunshine and shadow, in winter, spring, summer, and fall. I feel like such a failure.
If I had to identify the source of all this at-a-timing, I might single out “One Day at a Time,” the Norman Lear sitcom that enjoyed a robust run on network TV (1975–1984) and which last year was revived, with substantial changes – chief among them a Cuban-American family at the center of the action – for Netflix. The second season arrived last week, and a third-season renewal was announced on January 30.
Dear copywriters, editors, and reporters: Do you really think you’re being clever with your “’Tis the season” line? Trust us: you are not. I refer you to that wise man John McIntyre, of the Baltimore Sun, reminding us to beware holiday clichés: