Something About "FAIL"

I saw this article on the NY Times site, and thought it was really interesting. It’s a visualization of the Twitter chatter that happened during the Super Bowl. Those chatters are placed on a map of the U.S. so you can see what location is saying what. There’s also a play button that lets you view the chatter over the course of the game. Very cool, right?

My favorite part is if you view “Talking about ads” and keep your eye on tweets near Lake Forest, CA, you’ll see at the end of the game the most used word was “fail”. I’m not sure what ad it’s referring to, or if it’s even referring to an ad at all, but it only appears in Lake Forest.

The word is definitely not localized to Orange County, as was noted on Apparently, it comes from a video game with poor Japanese-to-English translation.

It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the first reference, given how common the verb fail is, but online commenters suggest it started with a 1998 Neo Geo arcade game called Blazing Star. (References to the fail meme go as far back as 2003.) Of all the game’s obvious draws—among them fast-paced action, disco music, and anime-style cut scenes—its staying power comes from its wonderfully terrible Japanese-to-English translations. If you beat a level, the screen flashes with the words: “You beat it! Your skill is great!” If you lose, you are mocked: “You fail it! Your skill is not enough! See you next time! Bye bye!”

For a while now, I’ve personally noticed the use of “fail” increase in everyday speech, mostly under the age of 25. I’m not sure why, but I really get a kick out of this word when it’s used like this. Maybe it’s because it’s so simple and to the point. Maybe it’s the way it perfectly embodies the arrogance of the cyber geek who casts judgement and ridicule from the safety his armchair.  Maybe it’s because of the many images that I’ve seen this word tattooed on. Maybe it’s a combination of all the above.

Whatever the reason, I have to soak in the enjoyment from this meme as much as I can. As history has taught us about slang, it won’t last forever!


Since California passed the law about hands-free cell phone usage, I’ve seen and heard some weird stuff. Just to be clear for those of you still holding out on buying a hands-free headset, it’s not “hands-free” if you hold your phone to your mouth on speakerphone. That pretty much defeats the whole purpose of the law.

However, there are a couple details that you may not have known about.

  1. You are allowed to use your phone “to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.”
  2. “This law does not prohibit reading, selecting or entering a phone number, or name in an electronic wireless device for the purpose of making or receiving a phone call.”

If you do have a hands-free headset that isn’t wireless (AKA, Bluetooth), only use one side of the earbud because both ears covered is against the law. Also, if you’re under 18-years-old, you’re not allowed to use your phone AT ALL.

If you are weighing out the consequences versus your need to make a call illegally, just be aware that you’re fine will only be $20 the first time, and $50 every time after that and doesn’t count as a point against your driving record.


I love that we have the opportunity to vote in this country. We all get to put our heads together and decide who gets to be in charge for the next 4 years.

I also love that we have the ability to vote by mail. Here we are, a little over 2 weeks away from election day, and I’ve already voted. It’s one more task I can check off my list. That feels nice.

The part that I don’t like about it, though, is that I still have to drive around and see all the signs that say “Yes on Prop x” or “So-and-so 2008.” I’m not gonna talk about who I voted for, but I can’t help but notice that I feel a little bad about voting the opposite of what the particular sign says. It’s like a little reminder to me that there are a lot of people out there that support different views than I do, some of whom can’t hold back a tongue lashing when they hear that I voted opposite of them.

How annoying do you find it when someone starts making fun of you for who you voted for? Well, my annoyance starts before that. I get annoyed when someone just asks who I voted for. That tells me that I’m about to receive an earfull. There’s nothing that I can say that will avoid hearing this person spout off about how they have it all figured out, how one of the candidates is better than the other, and for me to not see it would be proof that I’m stupid.

Since fighting over politics isn’t something I enjoy doing, I have field-tested some tactics to prevent this uncomfortable situation. My hypothesis is that anyone who asks you “Who are you voting for?” is actually telling you “I’m about to get all riled up and tell you why Candidate B is a scum bag.” Here’s what I’ve tried as responses when someone asks, “Who are you voting for?”

  1. “I’m voting for Candidate A.” A direct response to their question showing you have a firm position and are not really open to hearing opinions. Their response will always be to smear the candidate they are against. If you said you were voting for Candidate A, and that’s who they’re voting for, they’ll say, “Good. Candidate B is a dirty scum bag because…” If you said you were voting for Candidate B, they’ll say, “What?! Candidate B is a dirty scum bag because…” FAIL.
  2. “I haven’t decided yet.” Trying to communicate that I am apathetic about it, and not open to opinions. Depending on how enthusiastic the person is about their choice (Candidate A), they’ll range from calmly telling you Candidate B is a scum bag to condescendingly reprimanding you for not picking the one they are going to pick. FAIL.
  3. “I don’t like to talk about politics.” This is an attempt at complete avoidance. Response is usually a challenge in some way sounding like, “Why not? It’s probably because Candidate B is a scum bag.” Sometimes you’ll get a crafty booger who will lure you into response 1 or 2 by saying something like, “Oh, I don’t like arguing about it either. But I’m just curious about your opinion.” If you fall for this, see response 1 or 2. FAIL.
  4. “I already voted, but I’m not telling you who.” This response has two goals: a) frustrate the inquirer for our own entertainment, and b) communicate that I don’t want to engage in conversation about it. The frustration levels vary depending on the person and my delivery, but it eventually turns into a guessing game that sounds something like, “Oh no, you didn’t vote for Candidate B, did you? I hope not because he’s a real scum bag.” FAIL.
  5. “I’ll tell you if you tell me first.” This is total surrender to the question in hopes that appeasing the inquirer will shorten the length of the conversation. When they respond, “I’m voting for Candidate A” you just start emphatically agreeing with their choice and beat them to the punch with something like, “Oh, me too, because that Candidate B is a scum bag.” However, even if I preempt all the bashing, they still seem to want to agree with me by repeating it all over again! FAIL!

After all that I still haven’t found a way to avoid these types of one-sided conversations with this type of person. Usually if I know the person well enough, I’ll use humor and sarcasm to downplay the topic and then divert it to something else, but I don’t always get asked by someone I know.

If you’ve done any research of your own, let me know your findings in the comments.

Good night, and good luck.