The Definitive Holiday Gift Guide on What Not to Buy for Kids

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On my last post I wrote about what not to give adults for Christmas in the wake of the holiday season. This time I focus on the kids since they are a whole different category to themselves and are much easier to buy for. For one, Children usually know what they want for Christmas and you can always consult their parents on what would make a good gift. Not to mention, you can be consulted on what’s safe for them. Besides, even if you don’t give them exactly what they want, the good ones usually get over it. Nevertheless, Christmas is a holiday that usually markets to children anyway. However, there are plenty of toys out there that I’m sure no parent would want their kids to have or children wouldn’t want in the first place. Here is a list of some of the worst toys one should never buy for children.

1. My Cleaning Trolley

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Of course, I’ve never been into cleaning and I don’t think a toy would ever encourage me to do that. Nevertheless, I think this wouldn’t be a bad toy to give a child if this product wasn’t marketed to just girls as well as didn’t take the form of a janitorial set. I don’t see anything against promoting household chores in the toy world but even toy kitchens can still be more gender neutral. Yet, this doesn’t seem very gender neutral to me as well as resembles something more associated with a public, commercial, or industrial building than what anyone would have in their home. Encouraging girls how to clean is fine, encouraging girls to be cleaning ladies, well, I’m not sure if that’s going to bode well especially if it’s in stores in ethnic and racial minority communities.

2. Lil’ Monkey

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This is just racist, plain and simple. Anyone who’s black and/or knows anything about American history would see why this toy shouldn’t be on the shelves. Comparing blacks to monkeys has always had negative connotation in one of the worst racist forms. And this didn’t just happen in America, but also in much of western civilization, especially during colonization. This isn’t cute, it’s insulting. I mean really who makes this kind of shit?

3. Playmobil Security Checkpoint

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This is disturbing. I mean a security checkpoint toy set? Really, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. I guess this is something to desensitize them when they go to an airport, school, or some government building. Seriously how can you encourage creative play with that without worrying about your child’s imagination? Look, how much real security has their minds run wild. Still, at least it doesn’t have a full body scan that they used after the Underwear Bomber. Also, it’s $60.

4. Pole Dancer Doll

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Yikes! How did this doll ever get to be made? Sure being a stripper is a career choice for many parents but that doesn’t mean there should be a doll to encourage it. Even stripper parents don’t want their kids becoming strippers because they have awful lives. Not only that but it also sexualizes young girls in ways I can’t even describe especially since the doll looks like a little girl herself.

5. Gasoline Powered Audi Two Seater Car for Kids

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Really? A gas powered car for kids? Unbelievable. I have nothing against toy cars but there’s absolutely no way in hell I’d buy that for any kid. For one, it’s about $14,000, which is more than many real life cars as well as many other more important gas powered products like lawn mowers. Second, it uses gas for energy which means it will probably pollute the skies. Third, it’s an accident waiting to happen with its maximum speed of 13 MPH and as street legals as a lawn mower.

6. Lightning Reaction Extreme

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I had a lot of games when I was a kid. However, I don’t think I’d like playing this one but it might have been useful for me if my parents knew I was ever going to do Quiz Bowl. Still, I don’t think this game could translate into family fun unless it’s in a sado-masochistic way if you know what I mean. Otherwise, what you’d mostly hear are kids screaming by the end. There are two versions of this game, one in which only the slowest player gets shocked and the other where everyone else but the fast player gets shocked. I don’t know but I don’t see electrocution as anything fun to endure and maybe border around child abuse. Seriously, what sadistic bastard would think otherwise?

7. Pro Thumb Wrestling Ring

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Or according to the Huffington Post: “Way to take a game that is ages old and barely fun and add unnecessary plastic.” Couldn’t said it better myself.

8. Breastfeeding Baby Doll

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Though this doll doesn’t really promote sexualizing young girls and uses flowers instead of nipples, perhaps it’s disturbingly a little too close to home. Well, other than the girl wearing the halter top over her outfit but still little doll babies suckling and moving its mouth seems a little disturbing. Girls, I get that you want to feed your baby doll like your mommy feeds your baby siblings but this is ridiculous. Tagline reads “Because you shouldn’t have to wait until you have breasts before you start breastfeeding your baby.” Many parents would think otherwise.

9. Tongue Kissing Pops

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Sure there are plenty of candy toys but this one is downright inappropriate enough which consists of animal heads with a tongue shaped lollipop coming out. Even more disturbing that these have animal heads which not only may encourage your kids try getting to second base but perhaps experimenting with bestiality. And lord knows how that could go wrong.

10. Video Girl Barbie

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This is a toy in which the Barbie doll has a video camera placed between her breasts which is capable recording about a 30 minute video. Sure there’s nothing wrong about trying to foster a young girl’s interest in filmmaking, especially with the lack of female Hollywood directors and cinematographers out there. However, before you get this, take heed from the FBI that in the wrong hands (think pedophile) this doll can be used as “a possible child pornography production method.” Of course, so could any video production product.

11. McDonald’s Drive-Thru Playset

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As if McDonald’s isn’t trying to corrupt kids’ appetites with Happy Meals already. Now they market these so your kid may be willing to work for them sometime in the future. Yet, as HuffPo said, “You have to give them credit for trying to secure their workforce as early as possible.” Still, doesn’t capture the reality of working for McDonald’s, yet at least it’s not like encouraging kids to be strippers or anything though not by much. Actually this goes for any McDonald’s toy product.

12. Play-Doh Dr. Drill n’ Fill

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Of course, this might encourage your kid to become a dentist and promote a healthy and active lifestyle. But teaching them this by associating fun with gouging out cavities? Really, that’s disgusting. Then again, I’m sure real dentists may feel the same way except that a mouthful of cavities may equal a trip to the Bahamas.

13. Barbie and Her Dog Tanner

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Perhaps it’s about time Mattel used Barbie to teach young girls how to care for your dog. However, as someone who lives in the country, I don’t think a pooper scooper is necessary in my neck of the woods. When a dog craps outside where I live, you just leave it where the plops where they lay. Still, since I played with Barbies as a kid, I bet I would’ve gotten one of these (since my Uncle Mike and Aunt Rosemary gave us a jellybean pooping reindeer one year, don’t ask.)

14. Roadkill Toys

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Really? Is this a joke? Sure stuffed animals may be a good gift for kids but a plush dead animal shouldn’t even be considered. Besides, I think these toys are more for adults since they can leave kids traumatized, especially very young ones.

15. Playskool in the Night Garden Goodnight Friend Upsy Daisy

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The product’s description says, “Her working daisy light gives off a gentle glow to encourage your little one to settle down for bed, too.” Of course, I’m not sure if she’ll do that or give your little one nightmares in the process since this monstrosity looks like she’s crawled from a demonic fever dream with her glow powered by the souls of unsuspecting children. And she’s supposed to be cute and cuddly? More like terrifying even by the Addams Family standards. Your kid may have one eye open if he or she is interested in self-preservation.

16. Baby Alive Whoopsie Doo Doll

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Basically a baby doll that constantly craps itself and brings your little girl all the disgusting parts about parenthood. I’m sure your daughter will enjoy having to change the baby doll’s diaper but please they may want to put lemonade and beef for more realistic effects (she probably won’t.) Still, I couldn’t imagine having a baby doll like this as a kid and think that a doll which urinates and defecates is more or less suited for boys than young girls. Also, when it comes to baby dolls, some things are just best left to the imagination.

17. Stuffed STD’s

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Look, just because it’s a plush toy, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for children and these toys sort of show the reason why. For one, these toys make a terrible thing seem so cute and cuddly, well, not really. Second, they could potentially traumatize them into a lifelong virginity. I’m perfectly fine with educational toys but I don’t know in this context, which kind of makes me gag.

18. My First Tattoo Gun

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My sister has designed tattoos in the past and this might’ve come in handy if this was available when we were kids. Still, it’s pretty innocent compared to the real thing since the tattoos are easily removable with some hot soapy water. However, not many people are perfectly fine with little kids having a product like this especially since the tattoos are associated with rednecks, sailors, punks, and Neo-Nazis.

19. Doggy Doo

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This is a game about watching a dog crap which you’d have to clean up after. Really? A game to teach kids how to clean up after a dog? Of course, this may serve purpose in more populated areas with such ordinances whereas people where I live would just laugh and laugh because there no one ever cleans up after their dogs going outside. Just take the dog out, let it do its business, and leave. And on a walk, just give a dog a break and go on your way. You just let Mother Nature take care of disposal methods. Seriously, who comes up with these ideas?

20. Her First High Heels

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Really? Sure I like a cute baby in a pretty little dress but still, not high heels please. Seriously can you imagine trying to stand up in high heels? I may wear them but I’m an adult and making little babies wear high heel shoes is just one of the most irresponsible acts a parent could do. I mean who the hell put these on the market?

21. Playmobil Hazmat Figurine Playset

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Seriously, are the people at Playmobil are on drugs or something? I mean how can playset around cleaning hazardous waste be fun? It’s not fun, it’s awful since people have to wear hazmat suits. I mean the possibilities are endless here with letting kids imaging a nuclear meltdown, a toxic waste dump, a Superfund site, or pollution of hazardous chemicals. Please can’t we not have playsets relating to something like Chernobyl or Bhopal?

22. Shape-Shifter Punisher

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Of course, many comic book superheros have their own merchandise like action figures that sometimes transform into something else. There may not be anything objectionable about The Punisher other than his use of violence but this is an inappropriate character design that I don’t think boys should have. Apparently he’s not the only action figure who has this problem.

23. Shave the Baby Doll

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This one is from Japan but the designer must’ve been on some strong brown acid from Woodstock to come up with this. Really? First off, babies aren’t really that hairy. Second, the baby doll has hair in places like an adult person would have which is gross and more appropriate for Eddie Munster’s 3 year-old-sister if he ever had one. This freakish thing looks like the result of a female leprechaun mating with Bigfoot. Still, at least it’s a girl doll. Would more or less resemble a leprechaun Sasquatch if it were a boy. Yet, in this case, at least doll hair never grows back.

24. Remote Control Lederhosen

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Just what a kid needs, a pair of dancing and yodeling ghost pants controlled by a knockwurst bound to give any child nightmares. Really who the hell comes up with the idea? Or was this made for adults? Still, children are going to get freaked out on this. I’m kind of terrified of it now.

25. She-Male Dolls

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These are from Russia which have the male genitalia combined with the long flowing hair associated with females. Seriously, who the hell thinks of such ideas like this. I don’t think hermaphrodite baby dolls are what a little girl wants since they may make them feel a little confused about why their cute little blond doll has a schlong. Are they just doll versions of hair band musicians from the 1980s? Or are they just little boy dolls being raised as girls since their mother wanted a daughter so badly? Or are they just hermaphrodites? Man, this can go on for ages. Besides, anatomically correct dolls are never a good idea, especially on dolls that may be intersex hermaphrodites or just plain transvestites. Nevertheless, looks so creepy. Seriously, Russia, you have some serious issues.

In case I missed any:

From the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/12/worst-christmas-gifts-for-kids_n_1143639.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/02/worst-toys-for-girls_n_701063.html?ref=stupid-products#s133018title=Princess_Maid

From Student Beans.com: http://www.studentbeans.com/picture/look-at-his-lovely-little-moustache-aww-.html

From Heavy: http://www.heavy.com/comedy/2012/12/the-20-worst-kids-toys-ever/

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The Definitive Holiday Gift Guide on What Not to Buy

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Now that Thanksgiving has come upon us, I now feel free to write my posts pertaining to the Christmas season and I have plenty of ideas. I will devote the first in my holiday series on Christmas gifts, in particular what not buy for your loved ones for Christmas. Of course, I must confess I am not a great gift giver. I’m not the most socially adept, hate shopping, and tend to be stingy with my money when it comes to others. Not to mention, I’m not sure how the gift card thing works either. Then again, I mostly shop for adults who are basically hard to buy for and aren’t really sure what they want anyway. Still, despite being a socially awkward cheapskate, I try my best to please or at least not make anyone upset with me. Still, I could do worse than some people and there are some things I know not to buy for my loved ones or for anyone else really. So here is a list of gifts I’d deem inappropriate, offensive, impractical, inexcusable, and sometimes downright Christmas gifts anyone could give someone. Don’t buy these for anybody if you dare.

1. Banana Bunker

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I could never think of a plastic container so useless, so much of waste of good plastic, or good money as this. Sure it’s made to protect your precious banana from turning into mush in your backpack, but could cost as much as like $10-$16 to protect something that costs about 25¢. Also, bananas already come in a protective casing called a peel which does rather nicely. And it’s not like you can use this for other products unlike tupperware containers which kind of does the same thing. Besides, it’s such a ridiculous product that Stephen Colbert devoted a segment of his show on one of these.

2. Mourning Stones

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I don’t think buying a bunch of mourning stones so the receiver can pay tribute to a dearly departed loved one’s gravestone and mark visitation, especially if made out of stone quartz. Besides, mourning stones aren’t very much into the festive spirit of the holidays. Also, not everyone uses mourning stones while visiting graves and if so, they usually use regular stones where you can find basically anywhere like your driveway, garden, the ground, or any other place you could think of. And they’re usually free.

3. Exotic Toad Skin Purse

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All right this one comes from Australia but it’s one you can customize whether to have the legs on or off. As to why anyone would want one, I don’t have the slightest idea. Still, these come from the skin from actual cane toads which makes me want to puke. Seriously, it’s one thing that people once made purse from alligator skin before it became those animals became endangered. And toads aren’t really the most attractive creatures and I don’t think any woman will buy one, let alone a guy who doesn’t use a purse. This concept is disgusting.

4. Lunar Legacy

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How would you like someone to give you this which someone gives your photo and a message of your choice to put on the Google Lunar X Prize space shuttle to deliver to the lunar surface among a community of other moon bound objects and photos? And this all at $10. Really? You can’t see it, read it, or touch it. I mean it’s just as bad as not getting anything. So even though you may feel more comfortable rocketing your emotions into a vacuum of space doesn’t mean you should. The receiver will not be happy, and if it’s your significant other, well, that relationship may be over.

5. Little Joseph Candle Holder

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Basically this is a porcelain baby head candle holder which costs $115. Seriously whoever came up with such an idea must’ve had something terribly wrong with him or her. Sure babies are cute but these holders don’t really inspire cuteness or warm feelings of joy. In fact, they’re not only creepy but incredibly terrifying like they’re lifeless vessels in some kind supernatural horror. Personally they kind of freak me out and may even give me nightmares. I mean would you want these in your house? Neither would I. To even buy these for yourself is crazy, let alone for somebody else.

6. The Face Bank

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Another gift sure to give anyone nightmares. This incredibly creepy and eyeless contraption vaguely resembling a face is said to “chew” your money when you insert it into its mouth slot. Just the though of doing this makes me want to cringe. I don’t want to put my money in that. Seriously, how did this thing ever get made? Please don’t buy this.

7. Belly Button Brush

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Seriously? How is this in anyway practical? Besides, how does anyone need this useless piece of crap? I mean does anyone have crap in their navels? If so, you can always use a shower. It does the job pretty nicely. I can’t find any purpose with this grooming product. Not to mention, the concept is kind of gross.

8. Civet Crap Choice Coffee

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Don’t get me wrong, coffee does make a great gift (since I’ve given my Uncle Frank coffee on many occasions). Coffee made from beans fermented from a civet’s digestive tract, well, it’s disgusting even if it does taste as good as on the label. And I don’t think it’s going to matter if it’s the rarest coffee in the world with only 500 kgs extracted per year. I mean these beans were pulled from shit. Perhaps this is the perfect way to tell someone to eat shit or drink it literally.

9. Chum Bucket Mints

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Of course, candy doesn’t make a bad gift either. However, candy that will give you a breath smelling of assorted fish parts? I think you’d want to pass. Seriously, you might want to go with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Jellybeans. At least they’re from Harry Potter.

10. Care4Less

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Any fan of Seinfeld would remember the episode when George made up his own charity to get away with buying a gift in the office. Of course, for those not clever as George, there’s a website called Care4less.org which allows you to select one of the site’s six fake charities, enter your name and e-mail as well as the recipient’s and the imaginary amount you’d want to send. The recipient will be notified of the donation made in their name through an e-mail. Among the imaginary charities you have Adopt-A-Banker, Make a Sandwich Foundation, Fathers 4 Mosquitoes, Costume a K9, Leprechaun Leprosy, Lost Geriatric Glasses Fund, Foreskin Restoration Society, and Organ Donation. Still, don’t try this, especially if the recipient is a Seinfeld fan like my mother.

11. Nose Shower Gel Dispenser

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Well, of course, there may be some gifts that are useful and it wouldn’t be terrible to get someone a shower gel dispenser. However, one shaped like a nose, well, I don’t think it’ll go with the decor or shows any good taste. Might be better to get this for yourself if you truly think it’s funny or part of a frat house. Otherwise, I think this is just plain gross and rather juvenile. I mean who wants to use shower gel stored in a giant nostril? Am I right?

12. Blood Bath Shower Curtain

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Well, let’s don’t even think about getting this because this is pretty disturbing. I mean your friend may be into horror films and may have his or her house look like a haunted mansion. However, blood stained shower curtains aren’t a good idea even in that respect. Besides, even if the recipient likes it and uses it, chances are that someone in the house guest is probably going to call the police if he or she uses the bathroom. Believe me, no good can come of this gift.

13. Old Man Purse

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Seriously, even if this doesn’t really resemble and old guy, this is pretty sick and twisted to even consider manufacturing. Seriously, no woman wants a head purse, let alone one resembling an old man. I don’t know why anyone would even buy one. Sick, sick, sick.

14. DVD Rewinder

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Of course, many people do like getting gadgets for Christmas as long as they work. However, I’m not sure if a DVD Rewinder is anything other than a waste of money. I mean, unlike VHS tapes, DVDs don’t need re-winded after you’re done playing with them. If you put them in the next time, they’ll just start at the beginning. Really shitty gift.

15. Fruitcake

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Of course, this is a well known bad Christmas gift nobody likes. My parents once had this with my Uncle Mike and Aunt Rosemary, and even they would wouldn’t eat it unless accompanied with booze. And I guess they woke up with serious hangovers the next morning. Seriously, it may look colorful and you might have baked it yourself, but no one in their right mind would eat it unless they’re drunk or starving.

Links in case I missed any:

From Marie Claire: http://www.marieclaire.com/fashion/trends/bad-holiday-gifts#slide-1

From Esquire: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/worst-gifts/

From Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/christmas-picture-galleries/9745586/Worst-Christmas-gifts.html

From Gawker: http://gawker.com/5871383/these-are-the-years-worst-christmas-presents

From NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/bad-holiday-gifts-gallery-1.1220560

On the American Poor

Sometimes I get so pissed off at how people tend to stereotype the poor of this country by labeling them as a bunch of drug addicted freeloaders who don’t wish to do any work and live off government assistance. Sure there may be some poor people who are lazy bums just like anyone else, but there are plenty of rich people whose greed can cause economic destruction at all levels which may outweigh their economic contributions. I may not hate the rich man or his money, I just hate his greed, his unsatisfied appetite for power, and his unwillingness to sacrifice some of his profit for his employees. Not to mention, they also receive government subsidies for their businesses and get tax exemptions which I think is ridiculous. Yet, though I may not always like poor people living off my taxpayer money, I understand they are no threat to me as far as my wallet is concerned. A poor man can’t take my job, my home, or advocate for legislative action against my interests. Besides, even with government assistance, a poor man is still poor but there’s no way to determine whether he’s a lazy bum who won’t find work or whether he just a guy who has no other means of reliable support. And there are more wasteful government spending than on welfare recipients whether they deserve it or not. Poverty doesn’t always equal laziness or joblessness but I always wonder whether Americans bash people on welfare out of ignorance, out of scorn for not being as successful, out of political ideology, to avoid guilt, or because they just simply don’t want to acknowledge their responsibility for the others’ plight. Still, poor people shouldn’t be negatively stereotyped since they’re human beings just trying to survive like everyone else.

The truth is that the poor consists of a diverse bunch who can’t provide enough for themselves for one reason or another. Sure there are many who may not want to find a job but could if they wanted one. However, many or if not the majority of people below the poverty line just don’t fall in to that demographic. Many of them live in areas where a legitimate job may be very difficult to find or the best jobs available are criminal occupations like drug dealing. Then what about people who are ex-cons whose past crimes make them ineligible for employment in most places? What about people who are physically or mentally disabled or infirm? I suppose their conditions aren’t going to help them find any work. What about those chronically ill who can’t leave their homes? What about those who are mentally ill or the homeless documented or otherwise? What about veterans, the elderly, children, or those working a job or two but still can’t pay the rent? What about immigrants? Then there are people who don’t want to find work because a job might prevent them from fulfilling familial responsibilities like rearing kids or tending for a sick relative. Some might even be going to school in order to make themselves more employable. Should they be shamed for wanting government assistance just to make their lives easier? After all, it’s not just the poor who want government money and I don’t tend to think the rich even deserve it yet they have it whether as a result of working hard or otherwise.

As a progressive Catholic, I grew up with that we should look after those most vulnerable and those below the poverty line certainly are. The poor are more likely to die earlier, develop long term health problems at an early age, lose their homes, be victims of crimes as well as perpetrators, grow up in a dysfunctional family, have drug addictions, and land in jail as well as be screwed from the system. Poor children are more likely to grow up without at least one parent or be wards of the state as well as attend an underfunded school. Poor teenagers are more likely to drop out of school, never attend college, and even have kids at an early age. Poor women are especially prone to rape, domestic abuse, and single motherhood with little support. Relationships in poverty stricken areas don’t last while the risk of STDs is high. Poor people very likely tend to live in places where crime and environmental pollution are rampant and jobs are scarce. And even if employed, poor people are more likely to have jobs that don’t pay the rent, run a high risk of injury, don’t offer much advancement, don’t have much job security, and poor working conditions. Not to mention, poor people who work could forget about joining a union because the company may fire them if they did so. And those born in poverty will not be likely to escape from it at least without any kind of assistance.

Yet, who is to blame for poverty? We’d like to think it’s the poor individual themselves but it’s difficult to say. It’s one thing to be a failure due to one’s personal faults despite opportunities available. However, trying to escape from the powerless situation with very few resources and opportunities available is a very daunting challenge. Those in poverty have to work harder and have to take more risks to survive let alone succeed. And though many of them try to make the best decisions or do what they can, whatever they do doesn’t always pay off. Not to mention, plenty of poor people can have a lot of obstacles that aren’t just limited to lack of resources and many of them are difficult to overcome, if not impossible. And even if poor people do work hard, doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods yet. But we also have the rich with their insatiable lust for money and power who are all to willing to fire their own workers in the name of profit, a for-profit healthcare system that excludes those who can’t pay, rising college tuition and a college finance system that may not be adequate, a great income gap between rich and poor, gas well as a public education system funded by property taxes. Also, the notion of a well-paying job is fast becoming a thing of the past for many and many of these business are supported by the notion of low prices on consumer products to satisfy Americans’ love for things.

Nevertheless, regardless of who’s to blame for poverty, it’s a burden for all Americans and society does pay for what ails them. Taxpayers pay the monetary price for many of the problems experienced by people in poverty not just limited to welfare or government assistance. When businesses fail to treat their workers fairly, many low wage workers turn to public assistance. When a poor person is seriously injured or ill in the emergency room, then it’s the insured who foot the bill and rising healthcare costs since many poor people in America can’t afford insurance (at least before the ACA). Furthermore, a sick uninsured poor person in the ER helps contribute to rising healthcare costs and makes healthcare more unaffordable to everyone, at least before Obamacare (and I don’t want to live in a Pre-Obamacare world again which was much worse especially for people in poverty). Whenever a poor area falls prey to environmental disaster, it’ll be the taxpayers who pay for the cleanup, the medical treatment, and the aftermath. And whenever a poor person gets shot or becomes a victim of a crime, you can bet the American taxpayer will pay for not just the medical treatment, but also the legal proceedings, and the prison time. You see, poverty isn’t just bad for the poor, it’s terrible for everyone. Still, though we may think that helping the poor may be a waste of taxpayer money, that’s not always the case since I believe government should help the poor to some degree though can only do so much. Of course, what could be wasting taxpayer money is Americans’ failure to hold accountable those who may be responsible for keeping the poor in the desperate system they’re in.

Of course, I usually reserve the venom for the rich business leaders since I think having workers living under the poverty line in the US is inexcusable and I know many are responsible for it. Also, many business leaders are also responsible for much of the problems in the healthcare system as well as for environmental disasters. I also reserve some blame for the government since they put a lot of poor people in prison since many of them can’t afford a good defense, especially when it comes to drug related crimes. In fact, many state governments devote most of their budgets on incarceration and I’m not sure if I believe in prison any more at least in regards to rehabilitation. Not to mention, I think the government can do a better job with handling poverty if it wasn’t such a highly political issue. Yet, I’d have to say that no one in America is absolutely blameless for creating poverty despite that many of us do give to charity. As consumers, we always want stuff and want it cheap and we may not always by from the company most fair to their workers (like Wal Mart). We’d like to think we owe nothing to our success but we forget how life was like for many Americans before FDR, labor unions, civil rights movements, and the Great Society or how many of us would still be in poverty if it wasn’t for any of them. And let me say, political and social action has helped plenty of people out of poverty in the 20th century. Even still, we don’t even try to do anything for those who make and sell the consumer products we hold most dear and many of them don’t even enter into our thoughts. Yet, it should be apparent that many of these people do live in poverty and do work hard but are treated like crap nonetheless. And if there’s any reason why our taxpayers should help the poor, then it’s them, especially if there are veterans among their ranks. So I ask you all this Thanksgiving, to say a prayer for thanks not just to your loved ones but to those who make your comfortable lifestyle possible such as the migrant farm workers, the low wage earning Asian factory workers, as well as the retail workers who do their jobs on weekends so you can shop all you like. Perhaps it’s time to lend them a helping hand.

Words and Meaning Through Time

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If I ever offended any gays with this picture, I completely apologize since this is just a good picture for this post. Besides, it’s an old-timey advertisement for cigarettes (probably in Britain) and not meant to offend any one. The word “fag” as the short form of an offensive homophobic slur is a more recent development.

While I discussed how certain sayings don’t always translate well in different cultures, in this post I will devote to certain words and their acquired meanings through time particularly in English, especially those with certain unsavory NSFW connotations attached since many of them are fun to trace. Though many words have lasted for centuries, some of them could be considered offensive in one generation while totally harmless the next and vice versa. Misplaced context might incite in giggles, shock, or a “Huh?” followed by “Oh, okay.” Others may have certain dirty little etymologies. So without further adieu, let me show you the amusing little way words have changed meaning through time.

1. Gay- we all know that its present meaning refers to someone who’s of homosexual orientation but this definition dates to the 1930s and before then was only used in gay and theatrical subcultures, at one time it was described as “happy, carefree, joyful” but this was only dating to the late 1800s and was used only among New York criminals before that, it’s original meaning is actually prostitute (and yes, it was used in 1900 to describe a gay male prostitute but only briefly before it started meaning homosexuals in general.)

2. Queer- of course, this is now seen as a slur directed against gay people though it’s the “Q” in the LGBTQ community and perhaps used among themselves (like how blacks use the N-word). Before then, it meant “strange, odd.”

3. Idiot, Moron, Imbecile- these started as clinical terms to describe someone as dumber than Forrest Gump. As they fell into the general insult terms of today they were replaced by a kinder, gentler term: “retarded.”

4. Retarded- a former clinical term once used as a political correctness measure to describe someone who’s mentally handicapped, has nowadays evolved to the worst possible word to describe a person with this condition that it’s now almost considered hate speech.

5. Lesbian- before it became to mean a woman with a homosexual orientation  due to is association with the ancient Greek poet Sappho as well as her sexual behavior, it just meant “someone from Lesbos.” Actually anything associated with Sappho will be associated with lesbianism because she’s known more for that than her own poetry, sad to say.

6. Making Love- now a more discreet euphemism for sexual intercourse, this has meant everything romance and courtship to making out and PDA.

7. Faggot- once meant a bundle of sticks tied together and used for a fire before it became a homophobic slur. How it came to be a anti-gay slur, no one knows.

8. Weird- before it meant “sort of generally eccentric,” its original definitions were “scary” or “supernatural.”

9. Shag- once meant a tobacco product, now just means sex.

10. Boner- originally meant “embarrassing and/or major blunder” now it’s just something old guys get for four hours after taking Viagra.

11. Violent- at onetime this was defined as “overly emotional” yet we still associated with “blood, guts, killing, as well as psychological and bodily harm.”

12. Straight- though still means “totally linear” or “less funny guy in a comedy act” it also used to denote “law-abiding” and “clean,” now it means “heterosexual.”

13. High- though it still means “upward” it also used to mean “happy” before it obtained its current definition “in a drug influenced haze.”

14. Boob, Boobie- used to mean “dummy” before it took on it’s current definition of “breast” in the 1970s.

15. Hung- when used as an adjective, it used to be “hungover,” “executed through strangulation,” or “lynched.” Now it just means something sexual.

16. Glory Hole- once meant “a mineral rich trench pit.” Now it’s something else entirely.

17. Pleasure- has a lot of multiple meanings like “getting enjoyment out of doing something,” or “pleased.” Now it’s almost always used in a sexual context.

18. Ecstasy- used to mean “happiness” or “pleasure,” now refers to an illegal recreational drug.

19. Molest- once meant “disturb” or “bothered” now used as a term referring to unwanted sexual contact, particularly with a minor.

20. Fondle- used to refer to innocent or affectionate touching, now it pertains to touching in a sexual or erotic context.

21. Tranny- in British slang it was “transistor radio” while in American slang it was, “automobile transition.” Today it refers to either “transgender” or “transvestite.”

22. Fetish- back in the day it meant something like “totem object associated with a spirit.” Nowadays it refers to an erotic fixation to something that shouldn’t be.

23. Inter-Sexual, Bisexual- both used to mean “unisex,” now the former describes a “hermaphrodite” while the other just pertains someone who “goes both ways” in sexual orientation. (Bisexual has also meant “hermaphrodite” as well.)

24. Courtesan- once meant “courtier” or “court lady” now means “high class prostitute,” “mistress,” or “kept woman.”

25. Intercourse- used to mean “communication between individuals,” now refers to “copulation.”

26. Conversation- once meant “sexual intercourse or intimacy” now pertains to, “social communication involving two or more individuals.” Could also have meant “sexual harassment.”

27. Naughty- once meant “ill-behaved” but though it retains the meaning, it also refers to wayward sexual behavior.

28. Fanny- in more innocent times was a nickname for Frances. Now refers to “rear end” in the US and “female genitalia” in the UK and Australia.

29. Knock Up- at an earlier time it meant “to wake up” (by knocking on the door). Nowadays “to impregnate.”

30. Come Out- in olden days “to be considered an adult who frequents social gatherings” particularly to young women when it came to finding a husband. Now it means “to acknowledge one’s homosexuality to the world.”

31. Titillate- in the early days it might have meant “to tickle” but now means “to excite sexual arousal.”

32. Pussy- though originally used in reference to a cat, can also be used today in referring to either “cowardice” or “female genitalia.” (The latter part usage goes way back since there’s a 1930s song called “My Girl’s Pussy” and I don’t think the guy’s talking about a cat here.)

33. Ejaculate- originally meant “to exclaim or interject” now means something a guy does during sexual intercourse.

34. Abstinence- usually has retained it’s original meaning “to refrain from” but while it was originally used to give up alcohol it now pertains to refraining from sexual intercourse.

35. Cute- used to mean “shrewd and perceptive” but now means “adorable.”

36. Diddle- at one time it meant “to swindle” or “to waste time over trifling.” Can now be a vulgar term “To copulate.”

37. Ass- once meant “donkey” but can be used for “bum” or as a common insult.

38. Thong- originally pertained to strip of leather usually on the sandals, later came to designate a flip flop, and is now referred to as a sleazy and very uncomfortable type of underwear or swimsuit bottom. (Please don’t wear one.)

39. Dick- has always been a nickname for Richard as well as referred to “detective,” but has come to be a slang term for “penis” as well as a common insult term toward a guy.

40. Orgy- originally this described any kind of gross indulgence, but nowadays it mostly describes those of a sexual nature, especially when it refers to groups.

41. Prick- originally meant either “something sharp” or “getting hurt by something sharp” but now could be used in slang for “penis” as well as a common insult term toward a guy.

42. Making Whoopie- in the early 20th century this meant “living luxuriously” now means about the same as “making love” in the dirtiest context.

43. Hypochondria- this word’s meaning has changed dramatically over the years. Though nowadays it refers to unusually excessive concern for one’s health or tendency to fear or imagine having illnesses you don’t actually have but this usage dates back to Victorian times. In ancient Greece, this referred to describe the pain arising from a malarial infection on the liver and spleen. Centuries later its meaning changed to “depression.” And in the mid-20th century was used as a euphemism for other more serious mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder and hebephrenia.

44. Douche- derived from the French word for “shower” and has been described as a cleansing flood of liquid rushing into an orifice. Nowadays, well, it’s a liquid which a woman squirts to wash her privates (and that’s all I’ll say) as well as a common insult term. In usage could mean “an abrupt shock to nerves, emotions, or awareness.”

45. Dyke- originally derived from the Dutch term for “ditch” now means “lesbian.”

46. Yiffer- originally meant “a stout pole used in scaffolding” until the furries came along. (Don’t ask.)

47. Nuclear- used to mean just “central” like in a nucleus before the Atom Bomb, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, or nuclear disasters.

48. Toilet- used to describe one’s dressing, cleaning, and grooming process. Nowadays it refers to the essential fixture used for relieving oneself which flushes to expel one’s bodily waste.

49. Hump- at one time meant “to exert oneself” or “move swiftly” now is just used as a sex euphemism referring to dog mating rituals. (If you’ve seen what some dogs do with one another, you’ll know what I mean.)

50. Slut- used to refer to a woman who’s “messy looking” now it’s a derogatory term for a sexually promiscuous woman.

51. Sexy- used to describe someone as “obsessed with sex” before it was used to denote someone as “sexually attractive.”

52. Rusty Trombone- while Oscar the Grouch actually meant an oxidized brass instrument, it can also refer to a sex act.

53. Spunk- though it nowadays means “courage, spirit, and determination” it used to be associated with lewd feminine behavior.

54. Fag- once used as a slang term for “cigarette.” Nowadays it’s short for the famous homophobic slur.

55. Vibrator- used to describe a couple of gadgets, one used in a barbershop to foam shaving cream, the other as a massage device to relax, cure headaches etc. Nowadays it’s a gadget that does something completely different.

56. Incontinent- in Shakespeare’s day meant “cease from sexual abstinence.” Now it’s defined as “losing control of one’s bowels.”

57. Butt- once meant “boat.” Nowadays means “rear end” or “end of a cigarette.”

58. Mistress- used to mean the boss’ wife, a female boss, or “Mrs.” in general. Nowadays it refers to the “other woman” in an adulterous tryst.

59. Aroused- used in the past tense to “arise.”  Now it’s just sexual excitement.

60. Condom- was once used as a short form for “condominium.” Now it’s referred to as a contraceptive.

61. Naz, Nazi- in Germany, this was a nickname for Ignaz (Ignatius), until the 1920s.

62. Jap- used to be a nickname for Jasper, but please don’t call anyone this nowadays especially a Japanese person or a Jewish woman. Still, it has a lot more definitions than that.

63. Negro- was once the only decent term to describe blacks until the late 1960s. Now it’s just either a racist or political incorrect term, with the possible exception in Latin America.

64. Spastic- originally it meant “frantic” or “manic” as it still does in the US. But in the UK it’s the equivalent of the R-word.

65. Sod- used to mean “clod of earth” but is now another British insult.

66. Nothing- though usually a harmless word meaning zero, in Shakespeare’s day it referred to a woman’s naughty bits or her virginity. (As in Much Ado About Nothing).

67. Nunnery- let’s just say that when Hamlet told Ophelia “Get thee to a nunnery” he may have meant a different kind of house full of women but not of piety and chastity kind. Also, with Anti-Catholic sentiment growing in England, “nunnery” became an euphemism for “brothel.”

68. Fishmonger- though it could mean “someone who sells fish,” it could also be referred to in Shakespeare’s time as a “pimp.”

69. Dude- though it just means “guy” from the 1960s, it’s older meanings ranged from “city slicker,” “fancy boy,” or “gay blade.” Definitely don’t want to call a guy from the 19th century that because it was considered an insult.

70. Hobby Horse- though it now refers to a child’s plaything, in 1700s, it could either mean “obsession” or “prostitute.”

71. Horns- though it could mean the protuberances of an antelope or reference of sexual arousal (like horny), it could be used as an Elizabethan reference pertaining to a guy getting cheated on signified by a bunny ears gesture.

72. Dork- though since the 1980s it’s a another term for “nerd,” before then it was a slang term for “penis.”

73. Schmuck- its original meaning is “fool” though it allegedly meant “penis.” Of course, it’s probably safe to say it means “dick” which can mean both. Still, you don’t want to call a Jew this.

74. Minion- though we associate with “henchman” it’s originally derived from the French “mignon” referring to certain attractive courtiers of the male specialty.

75. Gunsel- while we may associate it as “gun-wielding hoodlum” but before The Maltese Falcon, it referred to either a young boy kept for sexual purposes or a passive partner in anal intercourse. (And yes, I think one of The Maltese Falcon characters either has or is a gunsel in its original context.)

76. Punk- though it now means someone who’s either a juvenile delinquent, unfriendly homeless kid, or someone from the Punk Rock subculture in much of history it had many unsavory meanings. In Shakespeare’s time, it meant “prostitute, in the 1890s, it was slang to something similar to the original meaning of gunsel.

77. Orchid, Avacado, Testify- all these have a word origin which meant “testicle.” Now these are an exotic flower, a fruit used in guacamole, and to give legal testimony.

78. Funky- though most of us under fifty associate it with the Disco Era or something upbeat you can dance to, it was originally referred to the smell of a woman’s vagina.

79. Rape- though we’re more used to it referring to “sex with an unwilling partner,” there was once a broader context that meant “kidnapping” or “assault.” Could have also meant “kidnapping for sex,” or “marriage” in ancient times whether or not the actual sex was consensual afterwards (though it was probably questionable to say the least.) Also, Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock is about a girl getting an unwilling haircut, not actually being raped as we know it. (Seriously it is.)

80. Hooker- though today and for much of history has meant “prostitute” in the old studio wrestling days it meant to describe wrestlers of legitimate wrestling backgrounds so was used as a compliment.

A Sequel to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? Stop This Now!

Thank you, I’m a Millenial and I will not let anyone in Hollywood ever make a sequel to It’s a Wonderful Lie. It’s a classic. Oh, God, please don’t let this sequel happen, please.

Entertainment

The first thing I did when I saw the news of a proposed sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life (after this) was check the Onion‘s archive to make sure that Variety, which first broke the story, didn’t somehow pick it up by mistake. Honestly, that would be a much simpler explanation than there actually being an It’s a Wonderful Life sequel in the works. Frank Capra‘s film arrived in theaters nearly 70 years ago and had an ending that rivaled Citizen Kane with respect to its finality.

Is there literally anyone in the world who gets to the end of It’s a Wonderful Life and thinks to themselves, “Oh man, that was great and I’m practically in tears, but what I’d really like to know is what happened to George Bailey after he was visited by his guardian angel, and virtually every person he’d ever known…

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Advertising Lost in Translation

Many time we don’t realize that we live in a world of globalized markets where products are sold all around the world. In some ways this is good for business. Yet, in other ways, it gets really hard to advertise, especially with the certain cultures and languages are involved, often with rather funny and disturbing results. An advertisement in one country will not always have the same effect in the other. And sometimes some slogans may be a country’s equivalent to something offensive or negative and won’t waste the time. So here’s a list of advertising gone lost in translation. (Viewer discretion is advised and it might not be safe for work.)

1. Any time there’s an advertisement with a before and after picture going left to right in the Middle East. Middle Easterners usually read from right to left so presenting an ad like this is telling them your product sucks or cause what it’s supposed to alleviate. Thus, it’s like diet pills and weight loss plans make you fat, medicine makes you sick, and cleaning products make everything dirty to someone in Saudi Arabia.

2. The origin of Exxon was a move to prevent this during a planned consolidation of the Enco and Esso brands of Standard Oil of New Jersey. It was originally going to be Enco until it was learned “enco” means “stalled car” in Japanese.

3. Any product containing the word “mist” and sold in Germany. In that country, it means manure. Interestingly, the word “mist” actually comes from the Old German word originally referring to the steam rising from a fresh pile of dung. Also, Clariol’s Mist Stick bears some similarity to the German “mistuck” meaning “bitch” or “piece of manure.”

4. The Japanese have a popular milky soft drink named Calpis (sounds similar to “cow piss”) and energy drinks named Pocari Sweat and its spin-off Pet Sweat.

5. The case with a port called Cockburn’s Dry Tang. Of course, this may have funny implications already in English. Yet, in Sweden “tang” is a term used for seaweed and as an obscure term for vagina. Also, didn’t help matters when it was changed to “Cockburn’s Dry Cock.” Also, the Cockburn name is said to be pronounced “co-burns” and is said to derive from an Old English personal name meaning “warrior with black sword.” Still, doesn’t help inciting shits and giggles though.

6. Any product with “vic” in it and sold in Germany where it sounds like “fick” meaning “fuck.”

7. Sega has two cases in Italy and Sweden. In Sweden it means to procrastinate, do something slowly, and tough when it comes to food. In Italy, it means “to masturbate.”

8. There is a Latin American bread brand named Bimbo after its mascot a bear. Of course, call any feminist a bimbo in America and you’d get a very different reaction.

9. There is a German vitamin-boosted hot chocolate mix named Scho-vit. It’s obvious why it’s not popular in English-speaking countries.

10. The Polish piano maker Calisa sells under a different name in Finland since it’s similar to the Finnish word for “long underpants.”

11. I wonder if the light bulb company Osram ever knew that their name meant “I will shit (on something)” in Polish.

12. There is a shaving cream in Norway called, “Barber Skum.” Kind of an insult to English-speaking barbers.

13. There is a Barf Detergent in Iran with “barf” meaning “snow” in Persian. Of course, in English it pertains to why someone might need detergent.

14. A literal translation of a men’s underwear brand in Taiwan means “little yellow pansy.”

15. There is a bus company named Fucker in Germany and one in Switzerland named FART (listed on a travel guide as “that’s the company name, not the means of propulsion.”)

16. There is a South African truck line named Tata, a slang for breasts in the US.

17. It’s always been hard to translate a brand name into an acceptable one in foreign countries, more difficult if it’s from a different writing system:

a. Some Coca Cola mistranslations in Chinese range from “bite the wax tadpole” to “bite the wax-fattened mare.”

b. A Pepsi slogan that said “Come alive! You’re the Pepsi Generation!” was allegedly mistranslated in Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead!”

c. The Ben and Jerry flavor “Chunky Monkey” was mistranslated in Japanese as “Chunks of Monkey.”

18. Cars have a similar problem as well with names, especially marketing in Latin America:

a. Originally the Ford Cortina was going to be the Ford Caprino until the company learned that “caprino” means “goat-like” or “goaty” in Spanish. Though they didn’t know that “cortina” is Spanish for “curtain.”

b. Honda once introduced a model named “Fitta” until they learned it was crude term for female genitalia in Norwegian and Swedish. Was also going to be used with the slogan, “It looks small on the outside, but is huge once you get in.” Was renamed “Jazz” and “Fit” according to market.

c. Strangely the Buick Lacrosse was renamed the Buick Allure in Canada since “crosse” is Quebecois slang for “fraud, swindle, rip-off” as well as “to jerk off.” It was later restored to its original name and GM began offering replacement nameplates.

d. No one wanted to buy the Chevy Nova in Spanish speaking countries since “nova” means “doesn’t go.”

e. The Nissan Moco and Mazda Laputa could be seen in Spanish as the Nissan Snot and Mazda Whore.

f. The Mitshibishi Pajero was marketed the Montero or Shogun because “pajero” was Spanish slang for “wanker.”

g. The Toyota MR 2 failed to sell in France because it’s similar to “est merdeux” meaning “shitty.”

h. Chrysler did significant poorly when trying to sell in China because its company’s name was translated in Mandarin Chinese to “about to die.”

i. Bad marketing naming could be in English speaking countries as well. For instance, take the Nissan Cedric. “Cedric” was said to be an Australian slang term for homosexual. To which a Nissan exec said, “Australia has many homosexuals, therefore we shall sell many cars!”

19. While KFC’s slogans are “We do chicken right” and “Finger-Lickin’ Good” is translated to Chinese “It’s right that we become prostitutes” and “Eat Your Fingers Off.”

20. There is a major canned vegetable company named Sodd in Norway. Of course, it’s an archaic word for soup.

21. Taco once sold the chili cheese burrito as the “Chilito” until they learned it was Hispanic slang for “small penis.”

22. Though Sharwoods Bundh is a curry sauce, “bundh” is Punjabi slang for “backside.”

23. Though we know it as the appliance company BEKO, it’s actually named Arcelick in its native Turkey.

24. While Pixar may seem a clean name in English, in Catalan it means, “to urinate.”

25. The location bookmarking app Rego got publicity in Brazil after it was found, “rego” means “drain” or “gutter” in Portuguese.

26. The Perdue Farms’ slogan “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” was once said to be translated in Mexico as “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.” And it may not be a mistranslation.

27. IKEA has plenty of these since they don’t relabel their products for foreign markets, no matter how stupid they sound in local languages. A few examples:

a. While Gutvick is a town in Sweden and a decent name to brand a bunk bed, in German it bears similarity to “guter fick” meaning “good fuck.”

b. While “Frak” is a mirror brand, in the US it is a  name for a set of mirrors in Battlestar Galactica as well as used as a verb describing as a gas and oil extraction process and short for “hydraulic fracturing,” “hydro-fracking,” or “fracking.” (Contrary to what oil and gas companies say, hydraulic fracturing has never been proven as a clean technology. Rather, it’s a controversial practice getting a lot of opposition from environmentalists and scientists alike.)

c. People in Finland were angry when IKEA named a toilet brush “Viren” also happening to be the last name of a legendary Finnish runner. Not to mention, it means viruses in German.

d. While “Kimme” may be a name of an IKEA chair, it also means “ass crack” in German.

e. While in Sweden “Jerker” may be a male name, “Farfull” means “speedy,” and “Lessebo” is a name of a town, all these sound funny in English.

f. Though “Sarna” is a name for an IKEA chair, it means “scabies” in Spanish.

g. Though “Hoven” may be a Swedish town and a perfectly fine name for a carpet, in Czech it’s the plural genitive form of the word meaning “shit.”

h. In IKEA “Trampa” is a doormat while it means “crap” in Portuguese and “trap” in Spanish.

28. Marketers of Colegate ran into problems when initially advertising in Latin America as “colgate” translates to “hang yourself” in voseante varieties in Spanish.

29. The slogan for vacuum company Electrolux “Nothing sucks like Electrolux” with very negative connotation in the US.

3o. The logo of German ball bearings company reads FAG.

31. There was once a security firm named Wackenut, named after its founder.

32. In Iceland there is an apartment company named “Fagmenn” (professionals), and there are advertising signs saying “Krap” (promoting slushies).

33. A Korean games company once launched a dictionary video game named “Touch Dic.”

34. There was once London nightclub named “Huje” which means “dicks” in Polish. (And it wasn’t one of those places.)

35. There was once a German auto-parts company named KKK that shares initials with the American racist hate group and a Philippine revolutionary group.

36. A proposed tourism slogan in Ireland was “Come for the Craic.” (And yes, it’s pronounced like crack which is Irish slang for fun but wouldn’t go well with Americans if you’ve seen The Wire or Canadians if you’ve seen Rob Ford.)

37. It’s said there’s a Spanish business named “Servicio de Hosteleria Industrial de Terrassa” (Terrassa’s Industrial Catering Service) which uses the acronym S.H.I.T. in its sign.

38. The animation studio, “Studio Khara” was named after the Greek words for “happiness” and “joy.” It also means “shit” in Arabic.

39. There was an Irish pub in Australia called Pug Mahones which is Irish Gaelic for “Kiss my arse.”

40. An Australian tourist ad saying “Where the bloody hell are you?” was banned in Britain and the US.