The last linkfest of 2017! Let’s exorcise this miserable year with some amusing and edumacational links. And have yourselves a merry little Festivus.
Drew Magary is back with the 2017 edition of his Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog: “More than any reindeer parable or silly children’s rhyme, it is THIS catalog and its splendidly useless items wherein you and I can discover the TRUE meaning of Christmas, which is that it delays the pain and horrors of this shit world at least until after New Year’s.”
“You listen to me, Williams-Sonoma: There will NEVER be a fondueassaince. Ever.”
Collins Dictionary, based in London and Glasgow, got a head start on the WOTY competition in early November, selectingfake news over runners-up such as unicorn, echo chamber, and gig economy. (Related: My November 2016 post on fake.)
Years ago, I named the world’s first “bidirectional” condom, so this story really spoke to me:
Diverse & Resilient, an LGBTQ organization in Milwaukee, decided to do something about the bland branding of free condoms. So it partnered with a local marekting agency, Cramer Krasselt, to create Naughty Bags, condoms designed by teens for teens. According to Adweek, the condoms are made “to be sex-positive, humorous, and cool” and feature “witty names like Pork Parka, Pelvic Poncho, Scuba Gear, Surge Protector and—our favorite—Papa Stopper.” Brilliant – in every sense.
Eater magazine published a five-part series on bad restaurant names, from bad puns to “distressingly sexual” to “crimes against language” to “just really bad.” Start with Part 1 and follow the links at the end to read about the others.
Fox News is dropping its “Fair & Balanced” slogan, which was invented by Roger Ailes when he launched the network in 1996. Ailes died last month. “In the annals of modern advertising, ‘Fair & Balanced’ will be considered a classic,” writes Gabriel Sherman for New York. “The slogan was Ailes’s cynical genius at its most successful. While liberals mocked the tagline, it allowed Ailes to give viewers the appearance of both sides being heard, when in fact he made sure producers staged segments so that the conservative viewpoint always won. (If you haven’t read Sherman’s biography of Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, I highly recommend it. Yes, it’s fair and balanced.)
“At some point, we’ve all wondered about the incredibly strange names for paint colors,” writes Annalee Newitz in Ars Technica. “Research scientist and neural network goofball Janelle Shane took the wondering a step further. Shane decided to train a neural network to generate new paint colors, complete with appropriate names. The results are possibly the greatest work of artificial intelligence I've seen to date.” They include Bank Butt (a lavender-mauve), Grass Bat (dusty rose), Stoner Blue (grayish), and these winners:
Should you spend $1.5 million on a domain? Almost certainly not. As A Hundred Monkeys puts it: “While your emotions should guide you in naming dogs, kids, and boats, they need to take a back seat while you mull over dropping seven figures on a domain.”
I’m generally skeptical of corporate-storytelling advice, but Andy Raskin’s “How to Design Your Company Story” is just wacky enough – its hypothetical company is called FairyGodmothers.com – to win me over.