The New York Times Magazine releases their "Sixth Annual Year in Ideas," a list of 74 literal and conceptual novelties that arose in 2006. Some of the pieces are a bit obvious--"living with guys makes women more likely to eat bagel bites and Easy Mac"--but some are quite interesting. My favorites:
1. Negativity Friendship. Apparently, bonds are more likely to be forged over a tall glass of haterade. This might fall under the "obvious" category, but it still confirms the universality of something I've long observed in my own relationships. There are, I think, gradations within this category for different subsects of humanity. Intellectuals unite over disliking ignorant or equally pretentious people; stupid people connect via their hatred for authority figures and inanimate objects; supervillains collaborate to fight x-men, kids enjoy foiling cereal-loving leprechauns together, etc.
2. Misery Chic. The Times calls celebrities out on their Africaphilia, insinuating that many of their chariable acts may be more performative than helpful. Adopting children from Namibia, a visually demonstrative act (the contrasting skin tones are a publicist's dream!) is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.
3. Olfactory Cuisine. Chefs are manufacturing scents in order to enhance a dining experience. Whatever, man, I've been arguing for years that Subway has special vents installed outside of the store that pump out the weird artificial bread smell. I also contend that, if the UN could somehow figure out a way to emit the smell of Cinnabon in areas ravaged by conflict and genocide, world peace would ensue.
4. Reverse graffiti. The masses embrace Keat's theory of negative capability; the government tricks artists into doing their dirty work.
On a related note, dictionary.com has opened the polls (until Friday) for voters to select the word of the year. The website has also released the list of the "most looked up words" of 2006, which range from the ironic/depressing ("naive") to the surprising ("quixotic").
When I was young, my father told me (while driving me to soccer practice) that his favorite word was "morbid." In response, I told him that mine was "delightful" (we had just passed a billboard advertising Sunny D). This year, I'll be casting my vote for "dictionary.com."