Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm a grup

Somedays they just have you pegged. That's it--I'm off to the Death Cab for Cutie show at the Double Door. You guys read this.

Let’s start with a question. A few questions, actually: When did it become normal for your average 35-year-old New Yorker to (a) walk around with an iPod plugged into his ears at all times, listening to the latest from Bloc Party; (b) regularly buy his clothes at Urban Outfitters; (c) take her toddler to a Mommy’s Happy Hour at a Brooklyn bar; (d) stay out till 4 A.M. because he just can’t miss the latest New Pornographers show, because who knows when Neko Case will decide to stop touring with them, and everyone knows she’s the heart of the band; (e) spend $250 on a pair of jeans that are artfully shredded to look like they just fell through a wheat thresher and are designed, eventually, to artfully fall totally apart; (f) decide that Sufjan Stevens is the perfect music to play for her 2-year-old, because, let’s face it, 2-year-olds have lousy taste in music, and we will not listen to the Wiggles in this house; (g) wear sneakers as a fashion statement; (h) wear the same vintage New Balance sneakers that he wore on his first day of school in the seventh grade as a fashion statement; (i) wear said sneakers to the office; (j) quit the office job because—you know what?—screw the office and screw jockeying for that promotion to VP, because isn’t promotion just another word for “slavery”?; (k) and besides, now that she’s a freelancer, working on her own projects, on her own terms, it’s that much easier to kick off in the middle of the week for a quick snowboarding trip to Sugarbush, because she’s got to have some balance, right? And she can write it off, too, because who knows? She might bump into Spike Jonze on the slopes; (l) wear a Misfits T-shirt; (m) make his 2-year-old wear a Misfits T-shirt; (n) never shave; (o) take pride in never shaving; (p) take pride in never shaving while spending $200 on a bedhead haircut and $600 on a messenger bag, because, seriously, only his grandfather or some frat-boy Wall Street flunky still carries a briefcase; or (q) all of the above?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Design Interviews

Karim Rashid interviewed in Fab. It's a nutty Warholesque interview that reminds me for some reason of Jubal Early in Firefly licking one of the struts of the ship's cargo hold.

[High heels]
High heels are kind of misogynist, so if I’m going to make women walk around in high heels I might as well give them some comfort. I made the most comfy high-heel shoe to be worn. It is made out of three-part injection mould and it has a vanilla smell that lasts for two years.

[Blue collars]
If you want to be a good industrial designer, you need to go to a lot of factories and see how things are produced. I used to go to trade shows for machinery, to look at the way things are made. I would look at a machine that would do thermaforming and I would be so inspired by it. To this day I allow machines to inspire me.

Bruce Sterling in Metropolis. It reeks of nostalgia for five minutes ago.

The Art Center kids were challenged with a small budget, a tight schedule, and a need to do something really good for their portfolio--something impressive, something worthy of public display. It was never made entirely clear to them what "good" meant. They had to sop that up from the thick smog of cultural values in the Art Center air while shut up tight with their teeming fellows in the Modernist steel monastery.

Those students work harder than oxen. By show time at the end of the term, they're physically collapsing from their own ambitions. They grieve. They tremble with burnout. They slumber on the library carpets. They change a lot. Designerhood steals over them. It's like character transformation in a novel. That ditzy illustration chick, who shambled in wearing her Goodwill dresses, somehow develops her own look; she's still a freak, but now she's all together about it. That digital-arts kid, twitchy from his misspent youth of computer games, somehow learns to exude geek chic. He once had a thousand-yard stare. Now he's got the polished arched-eyebrow look of the cell-phone techie on Verizon billboards. You can't teach that to anyone--it's self-inflicted. What happened to them? They have recognized certain aspects of their pre-designer selves that, to their newly trained eyes, are no longer apt and fitting. So they prune those parts off. They take the gum eraser to it. They X-acto it. They mill it down to sawdust over in the machine shop. It's spooky. Even their parents can tell.

Nobody ever told me or ordered me to do anything at Art Center, ever. This benign treatment truly fertilizes one's eccentricities. For my last term there I constructed a giant mobile out of steel wire and PVC pipe inside an abandoned wind tunnel. Why? Because it wasn't there, that's why. I'm laughing about this now, but it's a rueful, wiser laughter. I never learned so much so fast as I did while brandishing those pliers

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Un-interview

I the course of explaining why he doesn't like interviews Doug Coupland gives a great one to Morrissey.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

One Love

We are all descended from everyone. Everyone who has descendants.

Now think about your direct ancestors living 40 generations in the past, in
about the year A.D. 1000. The size of that group is harder to estimate. But as
two co-authors and I explained in Nature in 2004, that group included many millions
of people. Forty generations ago, almost everyone living today had ancestors in
Europe, Asia, and Africa, and many present-day Asians, Europeans, and Africans
had ancestors in the Americas because of the continual exchange of mates across
the Bering Strait.
It gets even stranger. Say you go back 120 generations,
to about the year 1000 B.C. According to the results presented in our Nature
paper, your ancestors then included everyone in the world who has descendants
living today. And if you compared a list of your ancestors with a list of anyone
else's ancestors, the names on the two lists would be identical.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Best & Worst

This might be the worst thing ever--or just the funniest:

A stewardess caused panic by repeatedly screaming "We're going to crash" when a packed plane hit turbulance.
The Virgin flight hit bad weather three hours into a journey from Gatwick to Las Vegas.
Some passengers were sick and others thrown from their seats as luggage, drinks and trays were tossed around.
Those using the toilet at the time were stuck in the cubicle while others prayed and cried.
And their ordeal was intensified by the screaming stewardess.
Passenger Paul Gibson told The Daily Mirror: "She began screaming every time the plane shook.
"She shouted at the top of her voice, 'We're going to crash! We're going to crash! We're going to crash!"
The un-named woman - in her mid 20s - also lobbed sick bags across the cabin when poorly passengers screamed for more.

This really is bad:

Villanova basketball star Allan Ray had his eyeball literally poked out of its socket by an opposing player on Friday night. Ray has been treating the injury with eye drops, and he planned to meet with doctors on Monday to find out if he can play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. What should you do if your eyeball comes out of your head?

Get it put back in, and soon. The longer you remain in this rare condition—known as "globe luxation"—the more strain you'll put on the blood vessels and nerves that connect your eye to the rest of your head. Your luxated globes will also be susceptible to corneal abrasions or inflammation, and the feeling of your eyelids clamped down behind them won't be pleasant.
You should be able to get your eye back in place without serious, long-term damage. (If the ocular muscles tear or if the optic nerve is severed, your outlook won't be as clear.) The treatment for globe luxation is pretty simple: Doctors apply some topical painkillers, hold back your lashes, and poke your eyeball into its socket by pressing on the white part with gloved fingers. (In some cases, they'll use a simple tool like a bent paperclip to shoehorn it back into place.) You might get antibiotics, lubricating drops, or steroids to follow up for a few days while your vision returns to normal. If your doctors can't pop your eye back in—because you've got too much swelling in the socket, for example—they'll give you an eye shield and consider a more invasive procedure.

This guy is really really good:

The ambulance stopped and Jadick peered out at the first real fire fight of his life. There were not two wounded men, but seven. As a middle-class kid growing up in upstate New York, Jadick had avidly read about war, and even applied to West Point. But he flunked the physical—poor depth perception—and went to Ithaca College on an ROTC scholarship instead. He had served as a communications officer in the Marines, but left the corps after seven years, bitter that he had been left out of the fighting in 1991. Attending medical school on a Navy scholarship, he had never seen or experienced real war—the kind of urban combat that can leave 30 to 40 percent of a unit wounded or dead.

"I can't tell you how scared I was," he recalled. "My legs wanted to stay in that vehicle, but I had to get off. I wanted to go back into that vehicle and lie under something and cry. I felt like a coward. I felt like it took me hours to make the decision to go."

But he got up and went. He felt as though he were "walking through water."

And that's the beginning of how he saved 30 lives in the Battle of Fallujah.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I bought a new scale this week that has a bunch of bioelectric moitoring capabilities to it. It shows not only weight but also body fat, hydration, & bone density.

It should also insult you if you gain weight: "Hey, there Fatty. Watch where you're steppin'."

However, it looks like I won't be needing the insult function, as I've dropped ten pounds and cut a percent and a half body weight since last fall. This leaves me feeling much more myself, and a little more yummy.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Even more Tales from the EL

There is a madman on the train.

The man is tall and clothed entirely in the peculiar yellow color I associate with Carhartt jackets and Timberland boots. His rich accent and etched facial features are those I associate with East Africa or certain islands of the West Indies. His voice is louder than anyone's gets on the train except for tourists and madmen, and he is clearly not visiting.

"...In 1917. 1917. 1917. How can you not see, it has been going on since 1917. Every day it gets worse. EVERY DAY. Pan Am. Libya. The PLO, Amelia Earhardt. 1917, they killed Archduke Ferdinand in the street. IN THE STREET. A whole war. Planes falling from the sky. Nobody does anything," he argues vehemently, waving his arms, imploring. He is talking to the air, to the bones of the train itself.

Everyone riding in the car pretends nothing is happening, closed inside themselves, because that's the way sane people ride the train, when they'd rather not deal with shouting madmen on the way home from work, and think that if they can pretend nothing is happening then nothing will happen. I am one of these people. We are arguably crazier than the madman.

The man in yellow says, "they go on killing people. Nobody does anything. I am a Catholic and I am proud. I make $40 an hour, and I [something] the pipes FORTY STORIES UP. George Bush is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD. THE WORST!"

At this point, I'm starting to think maybe he's not crazy, just a Democrat. Unfortunately, my stop comes up before I can hear any more, but I watch the train pull from the station, the man in yellow waving his arms and shouting, the other passengers pretending not to cringe. I almost feel sorry for him because no one is going to try to stop him; his paranoia will go unfounded, making him both true completely mad at the same time. Oppression would at least mean that he's sane.

The next day, I saw a man wearing a bowler hat. So, it's true, there's something different every day.