Well, it’s too bad I put Beast from the East in last month’s blog, because not only has it continued to disrupt March, but it has also brought a sequel: Beast from the East 2.0 or Mini-Beast From the East. Like so many sequels, the Mini-Beast faced the law of low returns, and proved to be much less crippled than its predecessor, but it reminded us that winter was not over with us (and about Candlemas). The old poem is true (then you think).
But even in March there were words of upliftment. A new word, in fact, is literally “uplift”. The long list for the Women’s Award for Fiction was published on International Women’s Day (March 8), and included several books that represent a growing trend in bright, or “uplifting literature”: kindness, compassion, family, and community.
Stories about bonds, and the ever-popular (if anything vague) concept of “the conquest of the human soul.” Up Lit is the latest in a long line of literary trends, apparently replacing the “catch light” (psychological thriller), and may indicate our collective desire for reassurance and trust in each other in these indefinite times. .
However, not all trends have been well received. A certain hairstyle popular with teenage boys first made headlines in February when a school in Great Yarmouth banned it.
A hairstyle called Meet Me at McDonald’s Hair has continued to make inroads in (some) newspapers and of course online, although the discussion has focused on two questions: why was it banned, and where did it get its name? As for the first question, the school reportedly has a strict dress code, and has also banned mohicans and mullets, among other styles.
But (insanely, at least for me) no one knows the origin of the name. The best suggestion is that guys who like hairdos are more likely to meet their peers at a fast food restaurant. This sounds like “folk etymology” to me, and it also begs the question, does KFC have its own haircut?
Of course, it’s easy to joke about youth trends, but we must remember that today’s youth are tomorrow’s adults, and the last laugh will be. But in the meantime it looks like Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa is laughing. Quite literally.
Many owners of Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Amazon Echo, have reported “scary laughter” coming from the device, randomly and spontaneously (and in at least one case, when the owners were trying to sleep).
Complaints are now so high that Amazon has announced that they are looking for a fix for the so-called Alexa Laughter, which they believe is a “false positive” for the “Laughter” command. We all want our AI assistants to interact with us more realistically, but that certainly doesn’t involve laughing at us while we sleep.