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Mucking About on National Inventors’ Day

February 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm in Culture / History, Names/Naming

February 11th is National Inventors’ Day, this year marking the 162nd anniversary of the birth of Thomas Alva Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park.

Already by the time he moved to Menlo Park in 1876, Thomas Edison had gathered many of the men who would work with him for the rest of their lives. By the time Edison built his West Orange lab complex, men came from all over the US and Europe to work with the famous inventor. Often these young “muckers,” as Edison called them, were fresh out of college or technical training.

Unlike most inventors, Edison depended upon dozens of “muckers” to build and test his ideas. In return, they received “only workmen’s wages.” However, the inventor said, it was “not the money they want, but the chance for their ambition to work.”

The Wikipedia page for Thomas Edison notes several places and companies bearing Edison’s name:

Though branding is now second-nature for famous people (and their handlers), Randall E. Stross author of The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World asserts that Edison launched the first successful branding campaign-an achievement arguably further ahead of its time than much of his technical output-by embracing the title “Wizard of Menlo Park,” which was coined by a reporter during Edison’s brief stay in that New Jersey town.

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Introducing the amazing… SHIT BOX

January 27, 2009 at 1:43 am in Names/Naming, Slang

Shit Box and Little Jack Shit are trademarks of The Brown Corporation Ltd.

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Bush Street Renamed Obama Street in San Francisco

January 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm in Culture / History

Timed with today’s inauguration, Bush Street signs in San Francisco were changed to Obama down the entire length of Bush Street from Presidio to Battery. Photo gallery and story at Laughing Squid.

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How To Wrap Last-Minute Gifts

December 24, 2008 at 9:48 am in Names/Naming

Well, it’s Christmas eve and we’re scrambling to wrap last-minute gifts for hard-to-shop-for friends and relatives. It’s tempting just to have the elves at the mall take care of gift wrapping; so professional, with fancy paper, glue-gunned pine cones, and perfect bows. But it’s obvious you couldn’t be bothered wrapping it yourself. Don’t be embarrassed by perfectly wrapped gifts this year. CrapWrap shows you cared enough to put in the extra effort and wrapped the special gift yourself.

Merry Christmahanukwanzmadan and see y’all in the New Year.

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The history of Ponzi and his infamous scheme

December 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm in Culture / History

With the arrest last week of Bernard L. Madoff for what amounts to a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, Mental Floss asks the obvious question: just who is this Ponzi, and what exactly was his scheme?

His name was Charles Ponzi, pictured at right, and Mental Floss notes,

Anyone can work a simple swindle, but you have to be a special kind of con man to have your name become synonymous with “fraud.”

Read the article, it’s a great story. At one point near the end, when his great con was unraveling, Ponzi hired a PR flak named William McMasters,

…but the PR man saw through Ponzi’s lies and renounced his client in the press. James Walsh reprints part of McMasters’ slam of Ponzi in his book, You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man. Of Ponzi, McMasters said, “The man is a financial idiot. He can hardly add…He sits with his feet on the desk smoking expensive cigars in a diamond holder and talking complete gibberish about postal coupons.”

Certainly an apt symbol of our own troubled, fraudulent times.

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I’m a moofer?

November 11, 2008 at 11:50 pm in Language

Hypermiling is the Oxford Universtiy Press “Word of the Year” and “moofer” is a runner-up amongst these finalists:

frugalista – person who leads a frugal lifestyle, but stays fashionable and healthy by swapping clothes, buying second-hand, growing own produce, etc.

moofer – a mobile out of office worker – ie. someone who works away from a fixed workplace, via Blackberry/laptop/wi-fi etc. (also verbal noun, moofing)

topless meeting – a meeting in which the participants are barred from using their laptops, Blackberries, cellphones, etc.

toxic debt – mainly sub-prime debts that are now proving so disastrous to banks. They were parceled up and sent around the global financial system like toxic waste, hence the allusion.

I prefer to think of myself as one of a new breed of digital nomads.

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A Magazine Named Sue

November 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm in Names/Naming

Introducing a brand new publication designed specifically for women professionals in the litigation practice specialty. “The legal community has been dominated by men since the establishment of the United States and Sue will be a valuable asset in helping women in litigation to equalize that dominance and further develop their position in the legal community,” says Christie LaBarca in a review of the new magazine named Sue.

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Obama Name Craze

November 6, 2008 at 10:31 pm in Names/Naming

Mothers in Kenya have marked Barack Obama’s historic win in the US presidential elections by naming their newborns after him and his wife, according to this international news report.

Meanwhile, in the real America, a supporter of Republican presidential candidate John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin went beyond a bumper sticker and named his newborn daughter after the duo. According to this local news report, the baby’s name, Sarah McCain Palin Ciptak, came as a surprise to her mother.

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The Branded Candidate

October 31, 2008 at 11:59 am in Branding

One of TIME’s 50 best inventions of 2008: the branded candidate.

Barack Obama hat: $15.

Barack Obama special-edition Beyoncé T shirt: $60.

Devising a system to make and sell your own swag and garner millions in profits, not to mention the phone numbers and addresses of hundreds of thousands of potential volunteers? Priceless.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has a hilarious analysis of Obama’s half-hour infomercial — complete with “unfortunate product placements.”

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Hasta la Vista, baby.

October 28, 2008 at 11:41 pm in Branding, Names/Naming

Today, Microsoft introduced what it said would be a slimmer and more responsive version of its Windows operating system, while unceremoniously dropping the brand name Vista for the new product. The new version will instead be branded Windows 7, because it is the seventh of a long line of operating systems for PCs developed by the company since the 1980s.
Via: New York Times

It will be interesting to see how Apple revamps its popular “I’m a Mac” advertisements mocking the Vista operating system.

Yesterday, Microsoft launched a new series of ads — a new “I’m a PC” campaign — “part of Crispin Porter & Bogusky’s $300 million marketing ploy to help the computer maker regain some positive buzz lost to competitor Apple,” according to Advertising Age. Computer users can upload to windows.com their own “I’m a PC” ad.

In the frequently asked questions section of the site, it says: “I have a Mac, can I participate?” Microsoft’s answer: “Of course you can. A Mac can be a PC too, most notably when it runs Windows Vista.”

Oh noes, there’s that V-word again.