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The News You May Have Missed: December 2021

Inadvertent Invasion

A normally quiet San Francisco neighborhood is experiencing an explosion of traffic as its dead-end streets have become congested with Waymo Driver vehicles. “I awoke to a strange hum and I thought there was a spacecraft outside my bedroom window,” said Jennifer King. The vehicles don’t just come at night; they come all day. And there’s nothing for them to do but make a multipoint turn and head out the way they came in. Not long after one car is gone, there will be another, which makes the same turn and leaves, before another car shows up and does the exact same thing. “There are some days where it can be up to 50,” King said. Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving car project, is an autonomous driving technology development company. “We have talked to the drivers,” King said, “who don’t have much to say other than the car is programmed and they’re just doing their job.” A Waymo spokesperson said, “We continually adjust to dynamic San Francisco road rules…. So, the Waymo Driver was obeying the same road rules that any car is required to follow” (CBS San Francisco, Oct. 14).

 

Facebook Is Dead

Facebook’s announcement that it is rebranding as Meta caused a stir in Israel, as the name sounds like the Hebrew word for dead (BBC News, Oct. 29). Hebrew-speakers took to Twitter to poke fun at the name using the hashtag #FacebookDead. Even the Jerusalem-based Zaka International Rescue Unit got involved, telling its followers, “Don’t worry, we’re on it.” Another Twitter user said, “The Jewish community will ridicule this name for years to come.” Facebook isn’t the first company to face mockery over translations of its branding. In the 1960s, Rolls-Royce planned to name its new unit-body model Silver Mist. But mist translates to manure in German, so the car was named Silver Shadow instead. When Kentucky Fried Chicken arrived in China in the 1980s, its motto “finger lickin’ good” didn’t exactly resonate with locals, as its Mandarin translation is “eat your fingers off.” And when Nokia released its Lumia phone in 2011, it didn’t get the reaction it was expecting in Spain, where lumia is a synonym for prostitute.

 

She Should Have Seen It Coming

A Southern California man is suing a psychic for fraud, alleging she claimed she could remove a witch’s curse put on him by his ex-girlfriend (Fox News, Oct. 6). After visiting Sophia Adams’s website, which billed her as a “Ph.D. Life Coach” and “psychic love coach,” Mauro Restrepo felt “confident that he was speaking with a professional that could help him,” his lawsuit reads. Adams gave Restrepo a tarot reading when he visited her office in Palos Verdes Estates and told him he had mala suerte, or “bad luck,” because his ex-girlfriend had hired a curse-casting witch. Adams allegedly claimed Restrepo’s family would be “unhappy and in danger” unless he paid her $5,100 to remove the curse. Restrepo reportedly gave Adams a $1,000 deposit, but she “did not in any way help” him. Restrepo, who is also suing Adams for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress along with negligence and civil conspiracy, is seeking $25,000 in damages.

 

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