Liar Town Usa: An alternate USA where our products, signage, headlines, and fads are all slightly more surreal, sinister, and threatening.
The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater. All you want to do is eat a little healthier. Really. Maybe get some of that Activa probiotic yogurt or something. So you look around and start researching what “healthier” means.
In 1983, Ken Hakuta's mother in Japan sent him some toys in the mail for his kids. They were octopus shaped, and when you threw them against the wall they "walked" down the wall. Seeing some marketing potential, he bought the rights to the toys for $100,000, and the Wacky Wall Walker was born. It became a HUGE success after a slow start, being offered as a prize in Kellogg's cereals and even inspiring a Christmas special on NBC. Eventually they ended up (according to Hakuta) selling a over 240 million units! Sometime during this wildly successful period, Dr. Fad was born. Ken wanted to everybody to invent and create. From 1988 to 1994, the Dr Fad Show featured a Wall Walker-covered-sweater wearing Hakuta as "Dr Fad" in a kids' gameshow format, with contestants coming on and showing off their inventions, the winner being judged by an applause meter. The show also had a "Golden Gizmo" segment, honouring the great fads of the past - a young Rodney Mullen accepted the Golden Gizmo for skateboarding, while other "famous" folks responsible (or in some other way related to) the fads appeared to receive the award in other segments. [more inside]
As if being rich and trashy weren't already enough work, now there's vajazzling, too. (NSFW)
What leads cultural tastes and practices to be abandoned? (.pdf) A new PNAS paper by marketing professor Jonah Berger and organizational psychologist Gael Le Mens argues that the faster a trend rises, the faster it's likely to fall, at least as regards longitudinal data of first names given to American children. (Via the Baby Names Blog.) Berger has written before on the drive to non-conform; a 2007 joint paper with Emily Pronin and Sarah Molouki (.pdf) shows that "people see others as more conforming than themselves.... placing more weight on introspective evidence of conformity (relative to behavioral evidence) when judging their own susceptibility to social influence as opposed to someone else's."
Burning Man 2005... 100 photos by Scott London. (note: some nudity. may not be safe for work.)
Why does everyone want to be a pimp? Somewhere in America a pimp is just getting out of his pimp bed. He drinks some pimp juice out of his pimp cup, slips into his pimp suit, and grabs his pimp hat and pimp watch on the way out of his pimp house. Crossing the street (careful to avoid any pimp-beating karate masters), he slides into his pimp ride and heads off to get his genome pimped.
Su Doku. Fill in the grid so that every row, every column, and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 through 9. That's all there is to it. It doesn't sound like much, but it's as addictive as hell. The Times is one publication with a daily puzzle (may be unavailable to overseas readers.) There a tuturial and sample puzzle here (flash).
Mutual Funds - Out, Google's IPO - In. Letting Your Boyfriend Videotape It - Out, Letting A Major Network Videotape It - In. Segway - Out, Honda Ruckus - In. A sampling from the Washington Post's List for 2004...
Damn La Difference! Europe (and apparently Japan) seem to be going through a Dickies craze. You say work wear; we say American blue-collar chic. You pay $20 for an industrial shirt; we pay $100. Should we call the whole thing off? [More inside.]