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Smart ways to honor, or apologize.


Assiduously edited by TWIG & GRASS



Looks Good on Paper

Tuesday, December 29


This simple equation, looks this way on paper:

This way in theoretical mock-ups:

This way in application:

And this way after realization:

In August of 1945, for the first, second and only time, nuclear weapons were used in warfare. The formerly thriving cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan were the targeted, with these pictures showcasing the damage done by the two bombs.

This is what I think of when politicians like "DICK" cheney, and others, use the threat of nuclear apocalypse as a scare tactic, when others talk of the uselessness of negotiating with unfriendly nations and the few remaining ultra-war hawks who seek to restart the Cold War with a Missile Defense System.

Most of those that took part in the development of the weapon and the execution of dropping the bomb, became the biggest proponents of disarmament and negotiation, most notably Albert Einstein. 

I tend to trust intelligent people on subjects which are beyond my intellectual grasp. Few were, or are, smarter than Einstein, so I am in his camp on this one.

People Know So Much . . .

Monday, December 28

Or do they?

I am constantly amazed at how much people "know."

Comment sections on political blogs, sports talk radio callers (and hosts), friends, enemies, co-workers, even those annoying "got a moment for the environment" people, are all rife with (self-identified) lucid observations on any number of topics. "You choose the topic, buddy. I'll do the schooling," seems to be the norm these days. 

The most troubling occurrences happen now, during cocktail party season, where we are regaled with one full year's "information" in a matter of minutes or, God forbid, hours.

In my attempts to get to the bottom of the font's well-spring of knowledge on so many topics, the most common response happens to be, "I read the (or several) newspapers every day!" This, I had no idea, was the purest path to scholarship on any and every subject in the known world. 

If only my mother had known. She spent an entire afternoon listening to a pitch from an Encyclopedia Salesman, then made payments on the set over the course of a years' time. The many hours I spent in those volumes, traveling to far-away lands, learning of people an cultures long gone, sprinting alongside the big cats of the African Plain as they brought down their prey, copying hieroglyphics to the point of calling myself an expert, visiting the top of every mountain and, conversely, the bottom of every sea. That solid foundation, could easily have been formed by a subscription to the Chicago Tribune? Momma was cheated!

Never mind that those encyclopedias were a supplement to all the children of my family, who were required to read the newspaper, biographies of historical figures, watch Ted Koppel and films that I still have no idea their meaning. The point being, my family stressed, not academic or social excellence, but intellectual excellence -- full stop!

We were taught to learn beyond what is taught, explore beyond the borders of easily-available information and access or develop new tracts of thinking in order to understand the world in which we live.

That said, I'd like to share with you a few things that are not in the newspaper, on the season's hottest cocktail topics. This way you'll either command the flow of the conversation, or feel as nauseated as I when bombarded with Fox News, CNN or MSNBC talking points all night. Enjoy Yo'self:

Health Care Reform

The dominant theme of every gathering I have found myself a part of. 

Here is the only thing you need know to know more then everyone else you know.

The bill is H.R. 3590.

Nobody you know has read it, me included, so they cannot know this. I have spent about 6 hours, total, reading the bill but find I have only made it through 25% of the legislation. Which happened to be more than enough for me to find fault with the bill. How anyone can cogently discuss a book without knowing it's title is beyond me.

Bad Human! Bad Human!

The United States Senate

The U.S. Senate was never intended to be the "Voice of the People." 

When the constitution was drafted, the House of Representatives was created so that the (then-small) voting pool would have political representation. The short election cycles (two years) were put in place, so as frustration with the actions (or inaction) of said Representatives could be corrected fairly quickly. This is why the House is apportioned according to population. Incidentally, the Electoral Collage is set up the same way for the election of the President.

The Senate was created to serve the monied interests of their home states. This is why Senators were APPOINTED, not elected, for the first 138 years of our nation's existence. 

Until the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified in 1911, and put into practice in 1914, members of the Senate were appointed by their local legislatures. This meant anybody, and I mean ANYBODY, could serve as a Senator, provided they met the stringent rule of being over 30 years-old, a resident of the State (at time of swearing in) and be a male (there were even African-American Senators before 1914, but ZERO women).

Since the House was created to "represent the citizenry" and the Senate was a body of unelected officials, beholden only to their monied elite masters back home, which body of government was allowed to make treaties, ratify treaties, approve judges for the bench, appoint federal officers and approves ALL Cabinet Officers to the President (who are essentially the heads of all functions of the government)? If you said anything other than the unelected members of the Senate, you'd be wrong.

There are 100 members in the Senate, of which, 61 are confirmed millionaires (and 7 more that are thought to be millionaires). Senators serve six-year terms and are therefore vested for medical, dental and life insurance for life and receive robust retirement benefits after a period of 5 years, not even one full term. 

Lastly, the push to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment is gaining real voice. The hope is to take the voting (accountability) out of the voters hands and put it back "where the Founding Father's intended." This would be laughable, if not for what the American Electorate has allowed and enabled (the systematic dissolution of the American Ideal) over the past 30 years, in the name of "remaining (?) safe."

War (Iraq)

People seem to know so little of the country we invaded on March 20, 2003. The idea of this being a backward, babbling, unsophisticated people plays as a convenient narrative for our going along with the invasion, which has turn the country, literally, upside down.

Had the very Christian President, George W. Bush, said, "America, we are going to bomb the country that God gave to Abraham (Genesis 15:18) and where Daniel heard the voice of God (Daniel 10)," I think it would have been a hard sell.

It is standard corporate jargon to say, "Don't re-invent the wheel." Iraqi's do not have such a problem. For it is was the ingenuity and intelligence within the borders of the of this nation of 31,000,000, that their ancestors actually invented THE wheel. Writing that predates that of the Iraqi people is unknown. Many of the fruits, vegetables and spices that adorn your and my table were developed, hybridized and put in usage for human nutritional consumption sprung from this land.

These are far from a non-modern people. The reason they are not understood in the West has more to do with our having to carve out a culture for our new republic, America. Our country is less than 250 years-old, so the firm idea of what American Culture is has not fully taken hold, we change frequently because we have not yet found the fullness of our identity as of yet (which we will). 

Iraq was 250 years-old in 6,422 BC! What we see as primitive, or out-dated, in the Iraqi culture, is really a time-tested culture which has been manicured over the ages at the hands of history's greatest poets, scholars, agrarians, social designers and leaders.

That is not the totality of the picture of Iraq, but to discuss the country without the knowledge of the small few important facts, to me, is OUTRAGEOUS! Depth People.

War (Afghanistan)

There has been a continuous (and ongoing) Civil War waged in Afghanistan for the past 844 years. Yes, sometimes it quiets to a trickle, sometimes it explodes into full fury, but the war has not ceased since it's beginning in 1165!!!

We have, much like the former Soviet Union, just chosen a side on which to fight. When we have "achieved victory," as President Obama has guaranteed recently, the War will continue to be waged by these two massive factions. 

Afghanistan is so big in relation to it's number of citizens, to have an understanding of how sparsely populated it is, one needs to imagine searching for an eyelash in a bathtub full of water, with ripples. Throw in the vast cave networks, which were created to avoid the frigid elements in the winter (like Minneapolis's and Indianapolis's walkway networks) and the tub now has bubbles, to boot.

The reason the primary method of attack has been with Drone planes is because the terrain is not conducive to movement on foot (or vehicles, for that matter). It is difficulty in movement which has led to the country not having it's population see tremendous growth in relation to it's size. This development, known since Alexander the Great wrote about the inhospitable nature of the Afghani landscape in 327 B.C. (and where 100% of his military advisers begged him to stop), will prove difficult on our infantries, making it impossible for them to successfully prosecute the war with purpose.

Committing Ground Forces to Afghanistan made, and makes, no sense when weighed in terms of "risk/reward." This is why so many informed persons were thrilled with President Obama's decision to table all the plans for Afghanistan in September, but ultimately dismayed when he forged ahead with the troop increase. The strategy has no chance for success, it only mollifies the war hawks by keeping the wars theater open.

These nuggets, combined with all your previous understanding of these topics, will greatly aid in your deftness or grief, I am sorry to say. It is a great responsibility, knowledge. Just remember the words of Elbert Hubbard:
"The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge."

My Christmas Wish

Thursday, December 24

After time spent among the cast-offs of their society, treating and healing what ailment's were bought before them, this band of six continued on. Their past professions now meaningless, their past alliances now meaningless. Their past discretions, triumphs, battles, thinking processes all meaningless. 

Four fishermen, who had spent much of their life watching the steady pitch and roll of bobbers against a vast blue liquid blanket, would never fish again. The (largely-ignored) exhortations of the middle-aged preacher would no longer be necessary. They walked with Him now.

And he walked . . . and walked . . . and walked. And when his feet found that He had reached a suitable station, the autonomous height of Sinai, Jesus turned to his audience and spake these words:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." (Matthew 5:3-11)

But he chose not to leave it at a divine blessing, and continued:

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

My Christmas wish is that each and every one of you keep the plight of the less fortunate in your hearts and minds throughout the year and ,equally as important, remember the inextinguishable light that is within you is meant to be shared with the rest of humanity. 

Merry Christmas 

Jobs, Well Done

Apple Inc. is my choice as Company of the Decade and it's Chief Executive, Steve Jobs, is my CEO of the millennium. 

As we entered the 2000's, with the palpable fear of Y2K behind us, the word Apple was still synonymous with fruit in most households. By the end of the decade, a survey of children between the age of 7-9 found 75% of them to think the fruit was named after the company.

Within ten years, the company:
  1. Democratized the audio medium. Before the iPod was launched people listened to CD's, which allowed for 76.5 continuous minutes of listening before requiring a switch. With the iPod, listeners could not only listen to 3 days worth of music without interruption, we could now tote our entire musical library around wherever we were. The iPod also gave audio books their first viable platform, which expanded sales 14 fold during the decade. The same can be said for lectures and podcasts. 
  2. iTunes not only changed how we purchase music and how music is distributed, but the device changed the very music we listen to. Before iTunes, artists were required to spend their energies looking for a record label to sign them, support them and, hopefully, distribute their music. iTunes enabled any artists, with the ability to upload their work from a computer, to launch themselves onto the world stage. Many of today's top record producers were discovered by major artists in this very way: think Danger Mouse. 
  3. iTunes helped stave off inflation. A compact disc, at the beginning of the decade, cost $13.99-$18.99, depending on where your purchase was made. The iTunes store launched with the price of $0.99 per song, and seven years later has only just sought to raise it's prices. I firmly believe the cost of a compact disc, if I use the movie ticket barometer, would cost roughly $22-$28 today if the iTunes store did not exist. 
  4. Changed the aesthetic idea of what consumer products should look like. Before Apple really "got after it" in the desktop PC game, computers were chunky, as all that mattered was performance. The designers and engineers at Apple, the world's most innovative company, made powerful desktop computers also. However, and perhaps as a result of the skepticism of the operating system not running Windows, made their desktop computers visually appealing. The move won the company praise and design awards for each successive product design launched during the decade. Now all PC-makers strive to make visually-pleasing products, not just internal improvements, when bringing products to market.
  5. Changed the way we view media. The opening of the decade saw the mad rush for bigger and bigger televisions, for which to partake in our rapidly expanding home viewing options. Of course the iPod would change that by becoming the most successful movie distribution system in history. Ditto television distribution. They also, for the first time ever, were able to sell music videos, which brought a new revenue stream to  record companies, as previously videos were made solely to promote an artist. Think of it for what it is, they sold commercials. 
  6. Changed what we expect of our cellphones. Who could have foreseen that by the end of this decade, we would be able to walk out of the house and take every map in the world, a dictionary, a compass, our entire computer, our entire music collection, every photo of our loved ones, every piece of critical mail we have ever received, our favorite books, our favorite newspapers, the entire phonebook, every video ever made (home movie and otherwise), our entire stock portfolio and have it delivered in real-time, games, movie schedules, banking information, GPS, bibles, every radio station on earth, tens of thousands of restaurant, film, book and music recommendations, etc? And it would all weigh less than a sandwich, be affordable and also make phone calls. Yet, the iPhone does all this and more. Bravo!
  7. Apple TV has already changed how we rent movies and television shows by streaming the content directly to our home. No more trips to Blockbuster in the snow, only to find out the last copy of "The Notebook" is out. Blockbuster and Netflix both adapted to the change, so as not to perish. Now we ALWAYS get to watch the movie we want to watch, not the movie that is available.
  8. The revolutionary Apple Store opened to wide acclaim. Just think back to the 1990's. Computer and Customer Service were anathema to one another. Any information you wanted, or problems you had, meant long hours on the phone tapping your feet to hold music, then sheepishly asking the usually derisive tech on the line to help you out. The Apple Store's immersive environment welcomes questions, solves problems on-site, provides one-on-one instruction, group instruction, encourages product testing, does repair, exchanges and displays the full Apple product line in a friendly, beautiful, well-planned mecca of computing.

Apple does so much more, but my evangelism must be getting a bit tiresome for you by now.

Here's to you Apple and Steve Jobs, my Company and CEO of the Decade. Job well done!

As we look to the upcoming decade, most other companies should slump their shoulders, as there has been a January 26, 2010 press conference called (and confirmed) for the announcement of Apple's next weapon of choice, the iTablet. So 26 days into the new decade, most companies will already be playing catch-up with a company that is in the lead and taking very long strides.

Young and the Restless

Wednesday, December 23

The old adage about old people sending off young people to fight their wars came to mind last night as I was reading over some of the proposed Senate Health Care Reform Bill.

The Cosmetic Surgeon lobby had the proposed 10% tax on Botox injections, meant to stem the cost of the bill, successfully purged from the bill. In it's place will be a 10% tax on all tanning services. 

Botox injections are overwhelmingly performed on  40+ year-old clientele, but the median age over the last three years has been 53. Who goes to the tanning beds in America? Primarily 15-32 year olds, according to the Indoor Tanning Association, the industry's trade group.

This means the tax burden was shifted from a group of older, more established, obviously wealthier group that can more easily afford the cost, to a younger, less-affluent demographic, as when we think of tanning, our minds tend to conjure images of college-age kids who know no better.

The same can be said for the additional income tax proposed in the bill. The original version (and house version) of the Senate Bill called for a small increase on the income of individuals that made more than $500,000 annually, or couples that had a combined annual income in excess of $1,000,000. This would obviously be an older group of Americans, as even in the wild days of the Internet 1990's, the median age of millionaires never dropped below 40.

So, would these older, more-affluent, Americans take the new ax sitting down? No! A new method of closing the funding gap had to be resourced. The answer? Unbelievably, the Senate decided to shift the new tax to "Health benefits of unionized workers." This, once again, skewed the burden toward a younger and less-affluent portion of the population.

Lastly, the Health Care Bill, overall, was meant to target everyone. The President made universal health care a theme of his run, due to the tremendous amount of pressure his Primary foe Hillary Clinton put on him with the issue. President Obama, shifted the benefit of this Senate bill to helping only those above the age of 55, by lowering the qualifying age of Medicare, a provision that may not make the cut. Once again shafting the young electorate.

So let's recap: Young people are going to pay more for their elective services (such as tanning), get a tax increase thrown at them (on those flimsy benefits we all wanted reformed/ improved) and receive no new medical benefits from the new legislation. 

Does that sound like a square deal?

The idea that President Obama could sweep into office on the backs of the youth vote, with so many giving their time, money, enthusiasm and ideas, then so abruptly turn his back on that core constituency is appalling. And telling. And unforgivable!

What he and other Democrats are counting on, hell, banking on, is that you will not dare vote for a Republican in upcoming elections. They are hoping that you "stop thinking of yourself" and start thinking of Dad and Grandma when the 2010 and 2012 elections roll around. Then perhaps at a later date, they will have something for you. Some "Change" at a later date.

Well in the President's "Closing Argument" speech, right before we went to the polls in November 2008, he said that "we could not wait" and we "had to take advantage of this opportunity." He talked about "the fierce urgency of now." We had to do "whatever it took" to get him into office and provide him with a Democratic majority. And WE DID!

Too bad his exhortations have had ZERO reciprocal value.

Tron Legacy Trailer

Sunday, December 20

Well over a year ago this blog trumpeted the breath-taking exploits of James Cameron's "Avatar."

While we are not quite ready to say anything on the release schedule will alter the film-going experience quite to the same level, we are comfortable saying, Tron Legacy, due out Holiday 2010, will be the next breath-stealer.

Tron Legacy will be presented in Imax 3-D.

Trailer Coming:

Wii Black: Nintendo

Cool beyond words.

Currently available in the U.K. only.

More info at Black Wii

Air Multiplier: Dyson

The geniuses at Dyson have done it again.

A room fan without blades? Yes, indeed.

Instead of explanations, I give you video:

More info at Dyson


Big Bang King Power Black Magic

Priceless and unequalled

More info at Watches on Net

Ami Ami Chair

Tokujin Yoshioka's Ami Ami chairs are this generations first sure-fire collectible.

Distribution is limited, so make your decision quickly.

More info at Emmo Home

Odyn Vovk: Coats

Odyn Vovk will, within the next 3 years, come to dominate the Men's Winter Outerwear business.

Get in on the ground floor.

More info at Odyn Vovk

Andrea Janosik

Give her something she really wants.

Andrea Janosik sterling silver and leather jewlery

More info at Andrea Janosik

Pyrrha Jewelry

Pyrrha Jewelry is a unique line of jewelry, designed in Sterling Silver primarily (a few 14k gold pieces are available).

The understated, reverse-wax process, stamping give these jewels a classic, timeless look and feel.

I even like this Wolf Bangle as a gift for that special person in your life.

More info at Pyrrha

500 Pencils

500 Pencils is the latest, limited-offering from the ingenious fund-raising firm, socialdesigner.

This particular offering sends you a set of 500 colored pencils, 25 at a time, for a period of 20 months. They even offer unique storage solutions for the pencils.

More info at 500 Pencils

(Be sure to check out past social design projects while you are  there)

Les Heures de Parfum

Cartier's tribute to America, Les Heures de Parfum, is available exclusively in the United States.

The five unisex fragrances will add two additional scents each year for the next 4 years.

Saks Fifth Avenue has the exclusive distribution rights, or you may visit your nearest Cartier boutique.

More info at Cartier


If ever there were a such thing as a one-stop shop, and there isn't, Architonic would be it. 

This website has more architectural, interior design and artist sources than you can imagine.

Do not buy a piece of furniture, redesign your kitchen or bathroom, or remodel your office space without spending a few hours on this site. 

One would not want to be seen as "left behind" before your project gets off the ground.

More info at Architonic

2009 ·clean needles by TNB