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Is That the Sound of Liberation or a Shoe Whizzing by Your Face?

I haven’t delved too much into this story, but I can imagine that the sentiment expressed in this BBC piece concerning the infamous shoe torpedo launched at Bush has now largely been echoed by conservative pundits.

Many of Mr Bush’s supporters will see it as a mean-spirited gesture against a man whose policies liberated the country from a vicious dictator.

To illustrate the point, in a previous age, the perpetrator would be facing a summary, and probably agonising, death if he had dared confront Saddam Hussein’s regime in such a way. Instead Mr Bush has been praised for his dignified response.

This is a moot point to me, since anyone who decides to attack a sitting American president in public with any type of weapon–be it a shoe, a salad fork, or any other flying object–most assuredly risks being shot on site by the Secret Service. It seems to me, then, that the salient take-away might be the strength of this man’s conviction despite the likely consequences–not the relative differences of said consequences in an occupied Iraq.

Was this man behaving civilly? No. Was his act eye opening? Absolutley.

Wiping the Politics Off My Sleave

Four years ago I gathered up my thoughts on the way that election turned out.

[…] I think instead of sulking in this cataclysmic let-down, I’ll simply gather myself up and plan for the little bits of goodness that will surely come from living my life—spending time with my wife and our soon-to-be child.

Because the onus is not on me or anyone who had the good sense to recognize how messed up things really are. It never was. The burden of proof in the next four years lies with the people who voted for George W. Bush’s second term, knowing full well the record of his first.

And despite what some predicted, the Democrats did not go the way of the Whigs after 9/11. They held together and lost to a small margin in numbers. Talk of new parties and rearranging the electoral system are certain to happen and are a healthy part of our democracy. But there should be no deserters. The split line in this race demonstrates that the resistance is alive and kicking. It may need to regroup. It may need to rethink. But we should never be taken for granted again.

Because complacency for power’s sake is still wrong, and indifference to wrongness will always be a sin.

Judging from the number of political posts I’ve made since I wrote those words, I’ve clearly given my political voice to the proxy of mainstream news. Here we are in the worst financial shape since the Great Depression–something I only learned about in school–and at the cusp of a very real decision.

And the result of the last election, whether borne out of ignorance or fear, cannot happen again.

In all likelihood Barrack Obama will become the next president of the United States. In every important way, I think this is the right thing for America, or at least the country as I want to imagine it. He is clearly a gifted talent–a smart, honest, and sincere man who has bravely stepped up to what I believe is a spiritual calling.

I suppose at one time, the same could be said about his opponent, John McCain. And although I disagree with many of his political views, I believe he would have been acceptable, if not entirely predictable. But in too many ways, I think he’s lost himself along the way. At the very least, I believe he lost his intellectual honesty during his quest to get elected. Everything from his choice of running mate–a disingenuous anti-intellectual opportunist with questionable credentials at best–to his tacit approval of a campaign which tries to manipulate base human fear and hatred, have made me refuse to accept his candidacy wholesale.

And then there’s the other ticket. It’s funny that my own quote made so much about “the Democrats going the way of the Whigs.” That happened to be an actual paraphrase from Christopher Hitchens–the eloquent contrarian–who, ironically enough, has gone public with his decision to vote for Obama this time around.

Funny how things change.

Since it does seem that we will be watching history in the making, I can only hope that John McCain lives up to his promise of putting “country first.” It would be honorable of him to gracefully find some way of helping his campaign transition into what’s good for the country–not just himself. Instead of slinging more mud, or promising to fight beyond what’s appropriate or decent, he should bow out gracefully, if and when the time comes, like the honorable man I still believe he can be.

Baby Chloe

Baby Chloe

Yesterday, at 5:21pm, our daughter Chloe Annabel was born. She weighs seven pounds and thirteen ounces. When she came out, she immediately spoke to us with a soft, squeaky cry. It was love at first chirp.

Her three and a half year old brother, Cole, excited to see her for the first time, kept saying, “Aaawh, she’s so cute!”

Mommy and Daddy certainly think so too.

… See more pics over at Flickr.

Thinking Outside the Bottle

French Rabbit

Somebody recently shared with me an article from Fast Company magazine about a winery that’s replaced their traditional glass bottles with more forward-thinking recyclable carton packages. The resultant environmental affect claims to produce a carbon footprint ten times smaller than traditional glass bottles once the savings for weight, shipping, and disposal are all tallied in (the cartons can be placed in ordinary recycle bins). Additionally, the new solution offers 33% more wine, making it the smart choice for the ever-demanding train-hitching vagrant segment.

If I were to peg the purpose of this concept on my design chart, I’d say it fits squarely in between desire and utility. In hindsight, these relationships do seem to flow into one another without much conflict. Then again, I’m beginning to think that desire is the herald for all other design purposes, so maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise. The greatest undrelying tension I can see, and the one that I would venture to say can significantly affect adoption on a wide scale, seems to be a matter of well-known convention. The practice of using glass cylinders to hold wine spans throughout time for, oh… a millennium. So why the packaging doesn’t incorporate more natural “winey” gold and red colors or nudge to the time-honored affordance factor of a more crafted container is beyond me. It’s possible this was a conscious design decision borne out of feedback from customers or the product of some other synthetic analysis of environmental factors. At first blush (pardon the pun), it really does read more like a carton of O.J. then a fine French wine.

Regardless of my two-cent visceral reaction to a couple of screenshots for a product I’ve never used, volumes of discussion could yet be had concerning the practical long-term benefits of re-thinking wasteful, yet culturally entrenched design conventions like the glass bottle. The part design will play in revealing these shortcomings, and in conjuring entirely new solutions, will surely be significant.

Cupcakes for Cuttles

Pregnant Lady: I’m gonna make cupcakes tonight.

Me: Oh, yeah? For what?

Pregnant Lady: For my mouth. Is that a good enough answer for you?

Me (absorbing howls of laughter): That’s going on my website. Your name’s going to be “Pregnant Lady.”

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