Name of the Year

Amid every person's group of friends, there is at least one with a bizarre name, the kind of name that makes for great conversation at a party. Mine, for instance, is the woman I went to junior high with named cruelly by her parents Crystal Chanda Leer. This blog showcases those names, of folks famous and otherwise. Name of the Year was founded in 1983 on the campus of an unnamed Ivy League college in order to discover, verify, nominate, elect, and disseminate great names.

Beloit College publishes yet another fine Mindset List

Ron Nief and Tom McBride of Beloit College have been writing the Mindset List for almost a decade, and it's always a treat to read. The Mindset List identifies the experiences and event horizons of students as they commence higher education. So for example, this list includes the following entry at number 10: Pete Rose has never played baseball. No doubt the list will inspire a few debates, some nodding heads, and perhaps enlightened conversations.

Eco Boulevards: Coming to a city near you!

Creative ideas about city planning and sustainable design are coming from all quarters, and the UrbanLab design firm in Chicago has a few of its own. In this recent proposal by Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen they have created a system of ecoboulevards that are part aesthetic pleasure and part water treatment plant. It's a fascinating idea, and this online presentation will shed some light on their proposal

I've Got Nothing to Hide and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy

In the carefree microcosm of reality TV and weekend barbecues, primary concerns may include The Donald's hair or disputes concerning propane versus charcoal--benign esoterica, and certainly nothing to be kept under wraps. After all, does not abstinence from wrongdoing immunize one from harm under public (or private) scrutiny?

This interrogative essay dissects the Nothing to Hide stance on privacy, highlighting the role of complacency in undermining a crucial civil liberty which many seem to have no trouble taking for granted.

A primer on how to speak hip....

Do you know the difference between a pad and a regular old apartment? Are you confused between what some call the fuzz and a standard-issue police officer? If you don't, you probably should take a listen to this famous 1959 album recorded by the late theater improviser legend Del Close and John Brent. It's a send up of instructional albums and the lingua franca of certain members of the Beat Generation.

Political Cartoons

Hosted by Daryl Cagle, MSNBC's own political cartoonist, this site provides a fantastic selection of political cartoons by top cartoonists from around the U.S. and the rest of the world. The site is updated daily with the day's best cartoons, and users can also search by specific cartoonists. Users can also peruse archives of Cagle's most recent cartoons as well as various other cartoonists. If a certain cartoon strikes your fancy, you can click on it and send an email postcard to a friend. All in all this site is a good way to find the humor in politics.

Message in a Bottle

What costs us $16 billion a year, requires the equivalent of 37,800 semi-trucks a week to deliver, and is virtually identical to something available for next to nothing in almost every American home? Bottled water! This fascinating article from Fast Company outlines the history and practical details of an industry that has sprung up from a marginal curiosity into a billion-dollar mainstay over the last three decades.

Tired of driving alone? Go Loco!

Driving alone can be a lonely experience at times, and it can be fun (and good for the environment) to have company along the way. Billed as the ride revolution GoLoco allows people to arrange shared rides and to share trip costs online. Just type in where you'd like to go and when you'd like to depart and you can see if anyone is going your way!