Three Best Things 4/26/10 - 5/2/10

Thing: The Revenge of the Brands: How corporate America turned Naomi Klein’s anti-branding manifesto on its head from Reason. Intended as an anti-marketing call-to-arms, Naomi Klein’s No Logo has actually wound up as the blueprint for modern branding. When corporations are tripping over themselves to seem as uncorporate as possible, what’s left to subvert, anyway? Reason argues that, for Klein, “Writing about branding was only an excuse to talk about politics,” which explains her present lack of satisfaction at seeing corporate America playing by her rules. ELSEWHERE IN BRANDING: Ice Cube on co-opting the Los Angeles Raiders brand by force in the early ’90s.

Thing: Riders on the Storm by the New York Times. David Brooks, fresh off a 15-minute break spent dumping on Sandra Bullock for being the victim of infidelity, gets back to work by linking to some studies that declare internet users to be surprisingly open-minded clickers. “People who spend time on the most liberal sites are more likely to go to than average Internet users,” and vice versa. Sure, most of that cross-traffic can be chalked up to troll exchanges, but it’s reassuring to think more and more people might be finding common ground every day simply by being adventurous surfers. ELSEWHERE IN VIEWPOINTS: Design for the First World, a new blog that flips the “Design will save the world” notion — the idea that well-meaning while perhaps patronizing designers can solve developing-world problems just by being great designers who care really hard. DFTFW is soliciting solutions from developing-nation designers for first-world problems like obesity or having nothing to whine to Twitter about.

THING: Super Mario Bros Crossover via Rock Paper Shotgun. You can play through Super Mario Bros, warps and all, as Mega Man, Link, Metroid person, Castlevania man, or Contra guy. This is all you need to know. ELSEWHERE IN RETRO: The Industrialization of Traffic: Why Bicycles Are Faster Than Cars by No Tech Magazine.


You’ve seen parkour videos before, and some of them were ok, but none of them were as good as this one is:

A Phony's History of the iPad [Three Best Things 1/25/10 - /1/31/10]

J. D. Salinger

In 1965, author J. D. Salinger retired with the world heavyweight book-writin’ title belt. By the early ’80s, his Catcher in the Rye was simultaneously the most-banned and second-most-taught book in American schools. He died this week at 91.

Holden Caulfield says: “Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”

The iPad

To paraphrase Dee Dee Warwick and Mike Tyson, iPad’s gonna make you love iPad. Need one good reason to convince yourself that you’ll never fall for it? How about twelve?

There’s this: “If the first personal computers required permission from the manufacturer for each new program or new feature, the history of computing would be as dismally totalitarian as the milieu in Apple’s famous Super Bowl ad.” And this: The thing that bothers me most about the iPad is this: if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I’d never be a programmer today.” But the iPad isn’t meant for computer geniuses. It’s meant for their moms.

The iPad is crap futurism whose lack of Flash compatibility might give us a future without Flash. That would be fantastic. The future also promises nine tablet computers that might wind up being as good, better, or cheaper than the iPad. (As with MP3 players and smart phones, Apple wasn’t the first or necessarily the best; they were the loudest biggest and shiniest most magical.)

Holden Caulfield says: “It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”

Also relevant:

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, who also died this week, shoehorned all history into a single narrative and avoided citing his claims — which you can get away with if you’re writing a history text like this, but not if you’re writing one like this. He didn’t exactly become a historian’s historian. But he achieved a harder thing; he made young people see history for what it is: an evolving story with unreliable narrators, usually written by the winners.


One of Zinn’s last interviews, with PBS in December 2009.

Holden Caulfield says: “People always think something’s all true.”

A word:

Has anyone checked on Matt Damon this week? Good Will Hunting was basically Catcher in the Rye: Math Version, and Damon’s character is a big Zinn fan. In fact, Damon was Zinn’s real-life neighbor growing up, and was one of the first people to read a draft of A People’s History.

Status update: ENGINE is sad for Matt Damon.

Decade's Top 10 Creative End-of-Decade Top 10 Lists

Heads up, friends: This post is part of ENGINE’s decade-closing blogsplosion. Click here to witness the rest of the damage. The aughties!

Everybody’s seen 100,000 or so 10 Best Movies of the Decade lists by now. But how many Top 10 Superhero Deaths lists have you seen?

While building yesterday’s monster list of the worst-of-the-decade lists, I came across plenty of oddball lists that contribute mightily to the art and science of original listmaking. Here are 10 of the best and uniquest*.

* - Sorry.

The Shoddy Aughties: Best of the Decade's Worst Lists

Heads up, friends: This post is part of ENGINE’s decade-closing blogsplosion. Click here to witness the rest of the damage. The aughties!

It’s time for the exhaustive list of the Worst _____ of the Decade lists.

Y2KWe try to be positive. But come on. When Pew concludes it was the worst decade in 50 years, and Time drops the 10 Worst Things about the Worst Decade Ever, it’s hard to forget this decade kicked off with Y2K — not just a fail fail, but the biggest fail fail ever — and has only gotten more and more bailouty and wardrobe malfunctionous since.

Would love to list nice things; just filling a void here. Kottke’s already got the best lists list covered. It has some worsts too, but isn’t nearly as horrific as what you’re about to endure Also, Fimoculous has the 2009 list of lists up and running — perfect for those getting the shakes at staring down the barrel of all ten years at once.

Our next entry in our series will be as pleasant as can be. But it’s darkest before the dawn. Wade into the shock and awful.

Worst 2000s Lists

Worst Ads, Branding & Marketing

Via 10 Worst Green Brand Names by Fast Company

Worst Books, Magazines, & Newspapers

Via 30 Worst Women’s Magazine Covers by BuzzFeed

Worst in Business

Via 15 Biggest PR Disasters by Business Insider

Worst Cars

Via 10 Worst Cars by Jalopnik

Worst Celebrities

Via 10 Worst WWE Heavyweight Champions by Bleacher Report

Worst Computers & Web Stuff

Allegedly a website, via 10 Ugliest Websites by

Worst Design

Via 12 Worst Web Design Trends by Web Hosting Help Guy

Worst Fashion

Via 10 Worst Hair Trends by the Frisky

Worst Food & Drink

Featured in 10 Worst Fast Food Meals by Time. Image via flickr

Worst … General

Featured in 11 Worst Ideas by the Washington Post

Worst in Money

Featured in 10 Worst Athletes to Ask for Financial Advice by Real Clear Sports

Worst Movies & Theater

Via 10 Worst Hindi Movies by Greatbong

Worst Music

Via 25 Worst Album Covers (NSFW) by Gunaxin Media [Somehow, the nuclear reactors make less sense than the pigs that are immune to pig flu.]

Worst in Politics

Via 12 Most Shocking Sex Scandals by the Huffington Post

Worst Products

Via 10 Worst Tech Products by CNET

Worst Science & Tech

Featured in 10 Worst Moments in Science by Smithsonian Magazine

Worst in Sports

Via The Decade’s Worst NASCAR Paint Schemes by Fanhouse

Worst TV

Featured in 10 Worst TV Shows by Complex

Worst Videogames

Via 10 Worst Games by GameWad

That’s it! You survived the worst decade since the 1360s.

That wasn’t so bad after all!

Got more? Send them my way.

Three Best Things, 11/9/09 - 11/15/09: No Pepsi For Old Men

WSJ: But is there something compelling about the collaborative process compared to the solitary job of writing?

CM: Yes, it would compel you to avoid it at all costs.

There’s something to be said for offering customers something they can’t get anywhere else…

but sometimes that means not offering them what they can get everywhere else.