can there ever be peace? can we ever get along? is it possible for israeli not to go after palestinians, for north koreans not to go after south koreans, for taliban not to go after who is not like them, for us not to go after who we don’t approve of? sadly, probably not before pepsi stops going after coke… everyday, as near as we may live next to others, we don’t really live with them, we cohabitate. it seems that we merely tolerate the presence of other life forms and mostly think about how we can stand on their shoulders in order to appear a little bit taller. whether we choose to eat them, display them in zoos, or try to go after their position, which we believe should have been granted to us, always we seem not to desire to exist together but to win. and win what? success? money? a v.i.p. seat in whatever you call heaven? i know our social contract wasn’t signed long ago but should we not have learned by now that toleration, at the very least, must lead the way to understanding? but that seems to be a tough request, whether the “other” cuts us off on the highway or represents different patriotic ideals.
to achieve any form of peace, we must try interaction and leave reaction to the birds, we must try empathy and leave apathy to vultures, we must try because if we don’t, there will soon be none of us left. we must try because if we don’t, every generation, as it has for the past five thousand years, will sadly continue to have to explain to their children that our species does not learn from its mistakes. if we consider ourselves superior, let’s start acting superior, by learning humility, by being the bigger man, by embracing ourselves. pepsi, your move…
hey, amazon, i love you but please review your boxing policies. unlike me, this wonderful granite cleaner from the good people at method does not need that much leg room to travel.
imagining the unimaginable as a parent is thinking about not having to get your child ready for school on a sleepy monday morning through no lazyness of your own but because their lives were snatched away by a madman. as scolded as my wife and i routinely get by our kids’ teachers for so rarely getting them to school on time, i have to admit that today, we feel little to no qualms about dressing, feeding and squeezing them slowly and for a bit longer, emailed late-note be damned. to think that 20 sets of parents have to break the routine of hurrying their children along as they brush their teeth, pick out outfits and serve bowls of cereals this morning… my heart breaks as my tears muddle my shirt imagining that which i cannot, going on living without which has giving meaning to my last 10 years on this earth.
mourning is not enough, action must be taken to care about those for whom life feels too hard to bear before they snatch another life. i have nothing more profound to say on the matter, no prescription, no advice to soothe even my mind, so sad i feel… let’s find a way back this week, together please.
the otherworldly juxtaposition of bossanova and the “iron dome” missile interception system in this clip from an israeli wedding is blowing my mind. and that’s very close to not being a metaphor… it is friday, the day we’re supposed to thank a lord of some sort for having allowed us to “survive” a work week presumably filled with “torture” such as returning that phone call to management, dealing with ann or working the extra hours necessary to do the job reasonably well, you know, torture. i’m sure that’s how both sides of gaza are thinking about their friday right now, i’m sure. a spark has been stricken, let’s hope the wind, or prevailing minds, put it out.
wow, i’m not feeling so tops today… maybe it’s because the kids haven’t had school all week and they have sapped my will to live or because i feel a little weird having electricity, internet and risotto while so many are hurting nearby. either way, maybe a little 90s-style joey bada$$ can help. maybe. doubt it though. please, all of you stay safe and a have a (re)constructive weekend.
as some of you may know, i live in the upstate new york woods, near a sleepy little town on the hudson called cold spring. this morning, as i awoke, my electricity and internet connection miraculously unscathed, i wanted to see how the town had fared after #sandy blew through the eastern seaboard. this is what i found…
as an avid watcher of media, as an active consumer of information, as a sensible customer of what they’re selling, as a user of the machine, as a shopper walking the aisles of the store, as the end user of a software i did not write but most of all, as a father of a daughter, i am absolutely responsible for changing the context i did not create. just because it is not my fault doesn’t mean i am not to blame. one of director jennifer siebel newsom’s best points, voiced by marie wilson, founding president of the white house project, is that “you can’t be what you can’t see,” a turn of events that is both surprising due to women’s superiority in numbers in the world and tragic due to men’s apparent generational blindness to the phenomenon. i do not reject the notion that the sexualization of anyone, or for that matter any thing, can be the source of enormous amounts of art and beauty but it is all of our responsibility to show the whole possibility of a person, any person, or for that matter any thing. the answer lies not in the elimination of a facet but the full and systematic exhibition of every side. the fact that we have collectively gone way too far in the singling out of physicality only belies the improper balance and the need to consciously complete the picture, not on behalf of women but of humans. would it be reasonable at this point to slow down the distortion by consciously curbing sexual images of women? perhaps; but i have never observed prohibition to be of much use when people are in play. as long as there are eyes, there will be selective vision but as long as a mind stays on top, there should be glasses to correct inequity. count me in as a mindful observer.
have a considerate week!
as i listen, everyday, to all those who talk and write and gripe and whine and joyfully express themselves, it is apparent that the divide has never been greater, at least in my humble opinion and short lifetime, between what people say and what they want to mean. whether your particular area of assumed expertise lay within the industries of music, metallurgy, homeland security, electronics or simply your parents’ basement, among many human activities, you, as much as i, have surely been plagued with the tyranny of spoken platitudes… if, but once in your life you have, with little consideration, quite excitedly uttered any of the words below, you are guilty:
that was the best!
worst feeling in the world!
right back at ya!
if you think about it…
you didn’t have to do that.
trials and tribulations.
let’s touch base.
this is not your father’s…
tell me about it!
to be honest…
in the eye of the beholder.
let me be devil’s advocate for a second.
boys will be boys!
the buck stops here!
it took blood, sweat and tears!
hang in there.
sky’s the limit.
that’s a catch-22.
i’ll stop at nothing!
let’s circle back by tuesday!
the company’s dna…
yes and no.
(and many, MANY more!)
what you are guilty of is to rely, not just on the old man’s money, but also on the pre-fixed meaning of certain areas of language which you trust to convey what you mean, which, by and large (see, i did myself!) is not such a terrible linguistic shortcut. the problem is that we have outsourced meaning to the expression because it happened to fit the occasion without specifically figuring out if it was what we actually believed to be true. jargon has become an epidemic suffered by most who have been somehow persuaded that a feeling we all agree is reasonable is better for us than an original thought, originally put. that makes me sad.
but on the plus side (dammit!) all we have to do is be conscious. a considered life, as opposed to a reasonable one, does not take anyone else’s opinion into account in order to act. a considered life is risky. a considered life is one during which obstacles are examined at face value and then either triumphed over or put aside but they are not ignored for fear of failure, which is what a merely reasonable life tends to lead us to. we must not be afraid to let our children see who we are and we must not be afraid to let our parents know who we are and we must not be afraid of the mirror on the wall. the only repercussion is knowledge. and we need knowledge because too long we have acted without it. and without knowledge there is no understanding.
i’m pretty sure…
to that end, have a wonderfully conscious week!
thank you steve. for everything.
this has nothing to do with being a fanboy. this has nothing to do with blind idolatry. this has nothing to do with sides. this all a matter of approach…
in his lifetime, steve jobs, who barely a month ago announced he was retiring from his top spot at the company he created almost 36 years ago, has made nothing but precise decisions about his own life that he alone chose, without consensus, focus groups or prescribed sense of what should be done. his was the most considered life we the public have ever been given the opportunity to gaze at through the sometimes brilliant (iEverything) and sometimes puzzling (no right-clicking?!) courses of action he took though the megaphone of apple. this man is dead. this man has exemplified, through a lifetime of being no one but whom he thought he should be, what it means to be successful in this and any country: a person who cared little for prosperity as a goal but rather his was to make things better and see what happens when human beings are invited to the experience.
say what you will, on any side of the fictitious pc/mac/linux debate that you may find yourself, but steve job’s little fruit company did define computer behavior more than once, behavior we now take for granted, behavior we didn’t know was natural, behavior, he, in fact, and to the bewilderment of his fellow technologists, simply observed in life and applied… swiping? come on… pinch to zoom, really?… double-tap to select? are you serious?! all these that we now take for granted were not invented by anyone at any desk but that of Humanity Inc’s, but it took a keen spectator to tag them as obviously universal and apply said understanding to silicon. THAT
was is his genius, as it was shakespeare’s, mozart’s, einstein’s, and kant’s. all observers, all journalists of the human condition, all hailed incredulously for having had the right set of eyes, at the right time, in the right sockets.
to those of us who understood and believed in his translation of dieter rams’ edict that “good design is as little design as possible,” he was the ceo that could have been a friend in whom we could trust to bring exceptionalism back to the mass market, a friend whose taste we knew to be impeccable enough not to question, a friend whose products we felt we had something to do with…
i wholeheartedly agree that design, as has often been related in these and other pages, “is how something works, not how it looks,” in the words of the dearly departed, and it is by that standard that we, the apartment, have and vow to forever fight against those who will take design’s name in vain and apply it, as so much veneer to underserving particle board, not just to what we do but who we are. Design is important, Design is the tool we use to apprehend our lives, Design is what allows us to evolve, decision by decision, brick by brick, war by war. Design is what is in play when we wonder if we like her, if we want the job, if we should buy or sell. Design is at the heart of every determination we make about our lives. Design is not a curved corner, a fluorescent color, a space-age material, whatever Target says. Design is not a word but a discipline. Design is the will, joined by the power, to make the decisions we feel are right about what we care about in our lives, unencumbered by context, tradition or inheritance. THAT, again, is the meaning that steve jobs has in my life, as a follower to no one, as a shepherd to a barely presumed flock, as a man never scared to be who he is. that he might have made a few good contributions to computing, which might be, so be it, but his real contribution was as a role model for a generation of apathetic inspiration fetishists who may repeat ad-infinitum what must be done but never get off their asses to do much of substance other than twist the words of others to their advantage, i should know… such a role model, he will always be, that is his unbeknownst gift to us. to me.
do not do what he did, do as he did.
he was only assumed to think different(ly) because most of us have always been too stupid or scared to follow our own thoughts to their logical ends: that we should take a risk. he did, was even fired from his own company for it but perseverance proved him, and many of us who do not try but do, right. there are only risks in not doing. not doing, if you get my meaning…
again, thank you and rest. you most of all, deserve it.
i had originally thought of making a somewhat honest at attempt levity this morning but the events of the past weekend in arizona have put a bit of a damper on my plans i must say… that any sizable group of people in the history of human social structure could accept that disagreement can be expressed with bloodshed is the unfortunate royal flush of the hand dealt us by life, it wins every time, or has, if history books are to be trusted. and we thought we first-worlders were special, that we had adopted a mode of thinking that did not just prohibit such slippery slopes but strongly looked down at such violence from moral ground supposedly descended from mount sinai on tablets so flimsy, they easily turned to dust when dropped at moses’ own feet, in other words, not worth the limestone they were carved on. it is easy, i find, to simply call the perpetrators of such violations of our blindly-signed social contract crazy, unstable or monstrous but we must realize that we bear a responsibility, all of us, to provide a context, not just laws, that dictates the written values, whether religious, constitutional or that of gym memberships, that we so vociferously claim to be indebted to for proper functioning. we, as well as they, are in charge and in control of the spillage from our mouths and pens and must be held accountable for the words we employ and not hide behind them!
as we speak, 100% design has wrapped up in london with new york and helsinki behind it and valencia and guadaljara design weeks coming up. with design going mainstream, a lot of urban centers are hoping to attract a sophisticated demographic to their cities by organizing product-centric conferences like these that are a wonderful way to find new talent. but are they great for design?
now, don’t get me wrong, i find nothing dishonorable in setting up a design wares market in every corner of the world where each and every individual with ideas, regardless of color, creed or liquor sponsorship can rightly present them to an audience in order to make a living. but that is rarely what happens. take it from someone who has consistently thrown one of the most attended events of the week in the past, and believed his own hype but been so violently repelled by it the last few years that he preferred to stay away. and by he, i mean me. every year evolves, in my not-so-humble opinion, in the wrong direction and keeps furthering no other agenda than that of increased consumption, something we have little reasonable excuse to engage in.
i believe the ray of light at the end of this tunnel to be the increasing engagement of designers everywhere designing for solutions as opposed to themselves, for conversations to be had and not solely for effect. to wit, the work of fuseproject which focuses on the needs of others. the work of dieter rams which focuses on the needs of the appliance-minded. the work of ross lovegrove which follows function with form. i would be ecstatic if these global design weeks would, instead of product souks, be markets of ideas. imagine what we could solve by putting all these brilliant heads together and forgetting about another chair, another carafe, another clever update on the doily but rather focusing on the more pressing matter at hand, designing life for the better…
there must be a rallying cry among those who turn bits into things to care enough to look around themselves, even in their own homes, and fix what doesn’t work. at the next convention center-sized exhibition, i need to see plungers and water jugs and pool alarms. stat.