November 29, 2010

fashism: "ironic and playful"

How far would you go to draw attention to your little fashion website? Would you mind being associated with Hitler and the Holocaust? You think that's a crazy question? Apparently not:

“We didn’t want the site to be,” she [Brooke Moreland, one of the co-founders of the site]  said. “We wanted something a little cooler and edgier.”
Moreland also professes to be surprised by the public's reaction.
 “I never thought anyone would be offended because we’re not doing anything offensive,” she said. “Frankly, it’s a very different word.”
Frankly, that's a very poor excuse. Yes, the neologism fashism derives from fashion (a word borrowed that ultimately goes back to the Latin verb 'facere,' to make), while Fascism derives from the Latin word 'fascis', bundle).  On the other hand, it is quite clear that the name of the website was picked precisely because of its homophonous cousin.

Personally, I'd rather get my daily dose of fashion advice from a website with better taste. 

November 19, 2010

Please get your dog microchipped!

Have you heard of Target, an Afghan stray dog that prevented a bomb attach on American military barracks in Feburary? He was flown to the USA, adopted by a military family, taught to live in  a house and be well-fed, and even had an appearance on Oprah.

Last Friday, Target was killed. At a dog shelter in Arizona. Not really accustomed to the life of a city dog, Target had escaped through her doggie door. She reported to Animal Control, was picked up and sent to a local shelter. Because Target had no microchip, she could not be identified, so her picture was put on the shelter's website, and her owner immediately registered and paid the fee to pick her up. When he arrived at the shelter, Target had already been put to sleep. A mistake, sure enough, but it would not have happened, if the dog had been microchipped.

November 16, 2010

'refudiate' revisited

What a lame choice for Word of the Year, Oxford! Yes, it was an "unquestionable buzzword in 2010," but that doesn't make it a word, just like "misunderestimate" is not a word. "Refudiate" was a mistake, not a thought-through coinage (which is why it's so preposterous to point out that Shakespeare also coined new words.) Let's have a look at the other contenders:

  • bankster noun (informal) a member of the banking industry perceived as a predator that grows rich at the expense of those suffering in a crumbling economy: trillions of dollars are flowing to the banksters in the form of near-zero interest loans. 
  • crowdsourcing noun the practice whereby an organization enlists a variety of freelancers, paid or unpaid, to work on a specific task or problem: Kodak used social media crowdsourcing to engage its customers in their naming contest. 
  • double-dip adjective denoting or relating to a recession during which a period of economic decline is followed by a brief period of growth, followed by a further period of decline: higher food and energy prices could increase the risk of a double-dip recession.
  • gleek noun (informal) a fan of the television series Glee. 
  • nom nom (informal) exclamation an expression of delight when eating.
  • retweet verb (on the social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user): people love to retweet job ads.
  • Tea Party a US political party that emerged from a movement of conservatives protesting the federal government in 2009. 
  • top kill noun a procedure designed to seal a leaking oil well, whereby large amounts of a material heavier than the oil—e.g., mud—are pumped into the affected well.
  • vuvuzela noun (also called vuvu) a long horn blown by fans at soccer matches.
  • webisode noun 1. an original episode derived from a television series, made for online viewing. 2. an online video that presents an original short film or promotes a product, movie, or television series.
Can there be any doubt that "Tea Party" will emerge as the 'true' WOTY? Let's wait for the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society in January.

November 11, 2010

“Naming your kid Hunter or Breaker is like saying f--k you to the world that invented feminism”

The 10 most popular names for boys in the US last year were Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, William, Joshua, Daniel, Jayden, Noah, and Anthony. No great surprises here. If one is interested in trends, it may be useful to look for the fastest-rising names instead. Last year, they were Cullen, King, Emmett, Colt, Braylen, Jett, Kason, Jasper, and Brooks -- many of them short names with a /k/-sound, evoking a new, macho form of masculinity, very different from names like 'John' and 'Mike,' which people associate "with a nice house in Westchester and two cars and a dad who goes to work and a mom who doesn't."

If the names seem a little un-namish to you (King? Colt?), there's this to consider: 
And yet, said Tom Recht, an engineer who lives in a Chicago suburb and is father to teenage sons Linus and Kilmer, “Around here, all the kids’ names are weird, but aside from the names, the kids themselves are very similar to the kids I went to school with. More parents than not are into the traditional male-female thing, they’re not a rebellious free-thinking crowd, except in their choice of names.”
Little Colt may have a "rebellious" name, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he won't end up in a nice house in Westchester. Who knows, perhaps he's going to be truly rebellious and major in Women's Studies?

November 04, 2010

Like a good neigh-bear

What exactly is 'neigh' in 'good neigh bear'? An adjective?
And what does it mean?

November 03, 2010

A memoir by the owner of the former First Dog

Former president Bush has written a memoir called "Decision Points," a "dogged work of reminiscence by an author not naturally given to introspection" (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times). As one would expect, much of the memoir deals with portraying Bush as a decisive leader, and there will be as much disagreement on his reflections on the decision-making process as on the decisions themselves. However, there is one point on which there never was any disagreement: George W. Bush loves his dog Barney, and that's a good thing. And so his memoir ends with a note on Barney and being an ordinary citizen again.
Mr. Bush says he left office satisfied that “I had always done what I believed was right.” Since then, he says, he’s comfortably settled back into ordinary life. Shortly after moving to Dallas, he writes, he took his dog Barney for an early morning walk: “Barney spotted our neighbor’s lawn, where he promptly took care of his business. There I was, the former president of the United States, with a plastic bag on my hand, picking up that which I had been dodging for the past eight years.”