Face Time.

If you have some time on your hands, you might want to waste it creating different faces with Monoface, a seamless, slick Mr. Potato Head meets Get a Mac interface that allows you to create over 759,000 different human faces on the fly. None of them look like me, yet.

Rudy Runs.

My former landlord in Brooklyn wrote a very large and very scathing book about Rudy Giulani, former Mayor of New York City. My landlord met Rudy many, many times and simply referred to him as “Rudy.” I was always afraid our house would be firebombed. But I won’t get into it because the Onion basically summarized the story of Rudy this week. Here’s an excerpt:

Giuliani To Run For President Of 9/11
NEW YORK—At a well-attended rally in front of his new Ground Zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11.
“My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise,” said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. “As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all.”
If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world’s conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions.
“Let us all remember how we felt on that day, with the world watching our every move, waiting on our every word,” said Giuliani, flanked by several firefighters, ex-New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and Judith Nathan, his third wife. “With a campaign built on traditional 9/11 values, and with the help of every citizen who believes in the 9/11 dream, I want to make 9/11 great again.”

(A) Good Magazine.

Amazingly, there are a number of new magazines getting out there these days. It’s an incredibly crowded place, but one magazine that looks very promising (and is getting blog traction) is Good. I love the logo, their site is pretty (albeit with pretty small type), and they’re doing some really interesting typographic and visual work.*
You subscribe to the magazine and 100% of the proceeds go to the charity of your choice (or your choice from their website, actually). (Unfortunately, Canadian subscribers have to add $10.00. Why do people in Canada always to have to pay more for everything? It’s not like we live in Japan or something.) The press release from their design agency‘s launch says “Amazing, but true – visit their website and see for yourself how they are redefining the magazine business model.” I don’t know if there actually is a business model but it’s cool nonetheless.
*As an example, take a look at this video, produced by Good. It’s both cool and scary, a kind of private-public service advertisement with good historical footage, smart music, and good art direction.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-lADZG6-PI]

Leisure on Leisure, Work on Work.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever note this observation, but here goes.
When we are spending our leisure time, we do so by observing others’ spending their non-working time. And when we are working, we spend our time unable to witness others’ leisure time.
The converse of this is interesting to me as well. Who would want to spend two hours at the movies watching people at an office typing? Only a few of us. And who among us would want to spend our paid work time watching others enjoy themselves? Very few of us.
So, we go to the movies, watch television or read a novel about people living their lives and not working. These characters go on vacation, get in fights, make love, and cry tears of joy and sadness.
And when we go to work, we disallow ourselves the ability to watch people go on vacation, get in fights, make love, and cry tears of joy and sadness.

Posted in Art

Bob's Your Uncle.

I heard the phrase “Bob’s Your Uncle” today on Mary Poppins. My wife has said it for years, mostly related to cooking (e.g. “You put the water in the pot, add some miso, and ‘Bob’s your uncle.’”) and to the ease and quality of the results.
Well, I wanted to find out the history of the phrase and it’s, of course, an interesting one:

The most attractive theory, albeit suspiciously neat, is that it derives from a prolonged act of political nepotism. The Victorian prime minister, Lord Salisbury (family name Robert Cecil, pronounced ) appointed his rather less than popular nephew Arthur Balfour to a succession of posts. The most controversial, in 1887, was chief secretary of Ireland, a post for which Balfour, despite his intellectual gifts, was considered unsuitable. The Dictionary of National Biography says: “The country saw with something like stupefaction the appointment of the young dilettante to what was at the moment perhaps the most important, certainly the most anxious office in the administration”. As the story goes, the consensus among the irreverent in Britain was that to have Bob as your uncle was a guarantee of success, hence the expression. Since the very word nepotism derives from the Italian word for nephew (from the practice of Italian popes giving preferment to nephews, a euphemism for their bastard sons), the association here seems more than apt.

Some Times.

Parenthood is often romanticized into something its not; the media has learned to do this to sell its books and magazines and toys and shows and products generally. Most of parenthood is holding down the fort, however; it’s babysitting, keeping things in order, ensuring peace among family members, watching that no one gets hurt, allowing oneself to have emotions, carting someone here or there or back, delivering or buying procurements, crafting schedules, planning educational schedules and playdates.
Tonight, I came home from a meeting and got to lie in bed with my daughter as she russeled herself to sleep. For about five eternal minutes, I looked into her eyes, quietly, and saw all of her future, her past, her present and her possibility. I saw in her eyes the love I felt for my parents at her age and the sweet, youthful gaze of assurance and anxiety, twirling around itself in endless emotion. She would turn and then I’d think about her future partner, who I desparately hope will love her as much as I. And then she’d turn again, pulling the covers over her a little, the sweet smell of her hair cascading over to me, and I’d feel honored to be in her presence, like some schoolboy in the throes of singular love. And then I’d watch her eyes close and I felt the universe shorten, the light dim, and my affection flow, sadly, awkwardly and randomly. It was hard to hold on to a singular feeling except I knew that this what people call love. My daughter fell asleep, restlessly at first then with some breathing, then turning away from me and curling into a ball and then calm and utter quiet and I was alone. All by myself, with her. I cry.
And here’s the rub: The magazines are right.

Taxes.

There’s nothing on television tonight, so I’m making sure that The Onion is still funny. It is.
Here are a few valuable pages and their highlights:
Talking Tax Reforum
“With e-filing, the government’s seizure of nearly half my assets was quicker and easier than ever this year.”
Microsoft Vista Released
“Promise of broad, open-minded future or some bullshit”
Item Found In Garbage To Be Turned Into Lamp Someday
“But when I saw that pipe, I immediately pictured it as a lamp. I’m so psyched that I snagged it before somebody else did.”
Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can’t Index
“We believe that Google Desktop Search is the best way to unlock the information hidden on your hard drive,” Schmidt said. “If you haven’t given it a try, now’s the time. In one week, the deleting begins.”
NASA wants to know if there are ‘lessons to be learned’
“We hope that the public will keep an open mind about what the facts will eventually show and that the legal system will be allowed to run its course.”*
United Nations Pledges $1.2 Billion In Indigestion Relief For U.S.
“Dubbed ‘Operation Soothe and Coat,’ the massive C-130 airlift is expected to provide millions of American indigestion sufferers with cartons of precious, life-giving antacids by week’s end. Much of the $1.2 billion will also go toward emergency helicopter and truck mobilization, distributing alkalides to a network of temporary stomach trouble ‘crisis centers’ set up across the American countryside.”
White House Quietly Retracts Entire State Of The Union Address
“‘This includes all components of the address, and is not limited to the president’s congratulations to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or his plan to give more Americans affordable health care through tax cuts, which has since been deemed infeasible,’ the statement read in part.”
*Headline and quote from CNN—not The Onion.

The DRM of Apple.

Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, has received almost more publicity from his public letter yesterday about digital rights management (DRM) than his iPhone escapade in January. My assumption, per my earlier post on Microsoft’s hellish DRM on Vista, is that this is both a smart PR move against Microsoft and a legal and ethical push from a “consumer-centric” company for open music formats.
I’m a proponent of open systems and open sources and, although I don’t believe in taking intellectual property that an artist, writer, or engineer does not want to be taken, DRM systems always struck me as plain dumb. The big music companies spend a lot of time huffing and puffing about stolen music but they produce music CDs which essentially allow the distribution of that same music. Jobs gets it right:

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.
In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.
So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.

I’ve never seen this argument publicly made; perhaps it took a genius like Jobs like to do it.
I’ll let the Mac-heads and the laywers sort everything out while I relish in the visuals of Apple’s visual history on Flickr.

It Feels Like -53.

But the actual temperature in Winnipeg right now is actually -33 F.
In the past year and a half, I don’t remember it being this cold here. My laptop, made of alumnium, is freezing. And the walls are actually bleeding cold right now. Don’t get me wrong: the house is warm. But everything without blood is not.