In this week’s The New Yorker there is an excellent story about PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, and the activities that animal rights movment is tackling in whole or in part lately. I guess I didn’t quite realize how much of a kook Ms. Newkirk, with her will that features cannibalism and her absolute equation of pigs and boys, which I had thought was a joke. The timing is quite appropriate for Pavement lead singer Stephen Malkmus’ Pig Lib, which was released a few weeks ago and is quite a strong album. It’s not as sonically innovative as any Pavement (I highly recommend the recently remastered Slanted and Enchanted double album), but it does well on its own and has nicely executed awkward cover art.
Like I noted a few days ago, the images of Saddam Hussein’s effigy being dragged around, burned, decapitated, and mutilated is very powerful stuff. I was fortunate enough to be able to witness on live television Iraqis putting that well-intended rope around the neck of the large statue of Saddam today in downtown Baghdad. I couldn’t help but notice also that:
1. Some Marine thought it might be cool to drape an American flag over his head. This complex act of symbolism, while understandable in the moment, will not endear the Arab public to our ways of doing things.
2. The entire square was filled with Iraqi men – no women and no children. I’m not sure what this means but it’s evident that the war for freedom in Iraq is going to have to take many fronts.
3. It’s quite miraculous that after three (albeit long) weeks, the regime has toppled, more or less, and citizens are not afraid to publicly pound away at a statue of Saddam Hussein.
In just a few days, New York City is celebrating Keep a Poem in Your Pocket Day, sponsored by the City and a number of businesses here. It’s an absolutely cool project: the idea is to celebrate National Poetry Month (April) by carrying around a favorite poem in your pocket and sharing it with someone on Friday, April 11. I somehow find it hard to imagine my sitting down on the subway and pulling out a crumpled piece of paper with a short poem on it by Czeslaw Milosz and then reading it to the guy next to me who is quietly sipping a Snapple, but hey, you never know. Perhaps the poetry of that moment would awaken greater worlds than the content on that small scrap of pocket parchment.
Thanks to my friend R.P. for sending the link.
While it’s a very good thing that troops have been able to more or less easily enter the palace(s) of Mr. Hussein, I’m disappointd that the “symbols of the Iraqi regime” are being destroyed for two reasons. First, it seems that if anyone is to destroy these cultural artifacts, it should be Iraqis themselves; the Berlin Wall and the statues of Lenin came down by citizens, not by militias. Second, these artifacts, whatever their value or ultimate worth, are important signs of a regime that will eventually be needed to remember, to re-think, and to recall the times of the brutalist Saddam Hussein regime. It’s an unusual case of form over content — these forms should be preserved for future exhibitions for the children of Iraq.
There once was a time when tech magazines were free. All you had to do was work at a company, sign your name on a form on the Web, and the magazine would be yours. (I’m exaggerating only slightly.) Only a few trade mags, like InformationWeek still offer this service. Others, like Wired, have dramatically reduced their subscription rates ($10.00), while most others have gone bye the bye.
I’m old enough in tech years to remember Mondo 2000 which came out almost at the same time as Wired in 1993. While Wired focused on the technology and politics of the coming “revolution,” Mondo was a kind of screwy, culturally-California look at the oddballs of computing. It seemed to reference punk and complexity while Wired was, well, more relevant to the Alleys sprouting on both coasts. Interestingly, I’m amazed at what turns up on a Google search for “Mondo 2000″ — because the magazine never went “wired” (or online), it pretty much doesn’t exist on the Net, save for a few oddball diarists. Alas, I’d much rather be getting M2 than IW, which pretty clearly states the kind of world we’re in today.
There is a lot going on in this war with Iraq that we don’t know about; while many people may look for nefarious things (and there may be those), there are also a tremendous number of hidden, secret, or otherwise unknown activities that are being undertaken to unseat the Saddam administration. I’m very interested in articles like this one — Is the CIA spamming Iraqi generals? — and others which show that the U.S. is using advanced (and “traditional”) Internet technologies to bring down the regime. In non-virtual conduct, I learned today on NPR of the probable existence of numerous safe houses, inside Baghdad, that have been carefully advertised to Iraqi military officials.
Many new books will be written about the the West’s use of new technologies in this war — and while the most important ones are those preventing missiles from hitting civilian residences, the others will make for good reading.
About a year ago, I began learning PHP and MySQL through a number of good books out there. It’s not easy to learn Web programming on a Mac, but it’s getting easier. I purchased the first edition of Kevin Yank’s Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP & MySQL. I learned enough from that book (or not) to purchase the second edition, which is slightly more tailored for the Mac OS X-head. Setting up PHP and MySQL on your Mac is less than easy, but I’ve done it and I’m no programmer, which I hope may give the aspiring graphic-based Web developer hope.
I’ve been a big fan of UPS for many years, in part because of its so completely outre color usage (brown) throughout its entire identity presentation. Brown uniforms, brown trucks, brown packaging. I was a bit surprised that UPS has now changed its logo to something apparently less workman-like, which is really the visual construct of the company. Brown, as the symbol of Carhartt and chocolate syrup, is also the color of dirt, grit, and dried blood.
While the new symbol is still brown-ish, it makes use of gold, yellow highlights, and a curved, space-age design to make the company look like a working-class space company — which, in fact, it kind of is. UPS was one of the first companies to use mobile technology, international tracking, and Web-based information services while maintaining a strong union culture and good customer service. Their logo redesign, while unnecessary, is a good choice of safe thinking and careful brand modulation.