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Skinning the Issues

So this is the country we now live in. Tonight I watched sports commentators talk in serious tones for twenty odd minutes about the issue of accountability as it related to the Monday Night Football skit featuring the Eagle’s Terell Owens. They were curious to know “whose head will roll” because a bunch men aimed at watching football were exposed to a nude woman’s back. Oh, the humanity.

Or, fancy this, maybe the issue really did have more to do with race than everyone’s willing to admit—and I’m not talking about Dungy.

Either way, the issue of accountability had already been percolating in my mind. Seeing Condi Rice not just absolved, but rewarded this week for her role in the infamous “Bin Laden Determined to Attack the United States” memo just put the icing on the big hypocrisy cake.

Accountability. Is the media only seeing what it wants to see at this point? Why do they insist on prosecuting trivial things? Can they at least play some lip service to issues that matter?

Panic Catharsis

Back in the day when MP3 players were still all the rage (and a dime a dozen), I had a special place in my heart for Panic’s Audion. The endless supply of skinnable faces it sprouted off were footbal lengths better than any of the skins available on WinAmp or SoundJam, BlackHot&Blue being my personal favorite.

Sadly now, with Apple’s iTunes seemingly taking over the space of all things audio (at least on the Mac platform), the Panic developers (Steven Frank and Cabel Sasser) have decided to retire the application. But with this decision, they’ve released a tell-all history of the tiny little MP3 player that could—from their negotiations with AOL, to their alleged missed opportunity at becoming the original iTunes (missing out to SoundJam in the end).

It’s a really great article for anyone who’s dreamt of having, owning, and being their own software company. My favorite part of Cabel Sasser’s wonderfully insightful writing has to be his interactions with Steve Jobs, or more accurately, the CEO’s famously blunt candor.

Jobs wanted to know how big we were, and how long we’ve been doing this. He wanted to know a few more things that I can’t even really remember. I remember he asked, "Do you have any other ideas for apps you want to work on?" I replied, genuinely, "Well, we’ve got an idea for a digital photo management program…" and he replied with a simple, "Yeah. Don’t do that one." Everyone in the room laughed but I had no idea why — remember, my head was still exploding — so Steven Frank had to explain to me that he meant, basically, it was already being made and, of course, it would be called iPhoto. Oh. I get it now.

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Fear Loves This Place

And Happy Veteran’s Day

You know the sanity barometer’s gone askew when television stations refuse to play Saving Private Ryan on Veteran’s Day for fear of retaliation from the FCC. Yes, this is the same Federal government the red voting aliens must believe is protecting them from the shock of seeing Janet Jackson’s nipple ring.

Does anybody else see irony making a full circle here? Maybe this is what Kerry meant when he closed his first debate with "the future belongs to freedom, not to fear.”

Not so fast there Mr. Senator…

Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes

With all of the recent TV documentaries about the good, evil, and still more evil that is Wal-Mart going around, nothing beats this episode of South Park. It’s a straight-on hilarious, if not thought provoking, commentary about the herd mentality. Despite being a lengthy eight seasons into the show, creators Trey and Matt are at the top of their game in this, their 809th episode to date. They’ve only gotten better at tongue-in-cheek—witness the allusions to The Matrix, mockery of urban legend, and the subversive spread of their trademark anarchism.

The streets of South Park are like a ghost-town when a giant Wall-Mart lures all the townspeople to the new store with its incredible bargains. Cartman becomes a boy possessed by the power of Wall-Mart and its low, low prices. In order to save their town, Stan and Kyle have to find a way to destroy the ever-expanding superstore while keeping Cartman from stabbing them in the back.

art, culture

Comments Off on Da Vinci and the Lion’s Paw

Da Vinci and the Lion’s Paw

Leonardo Da Vinci - St. Jerome

Leonardo da Vinci.
St. Hieronymus c.1480-1482.
Oil on wood
Vatican, Rome

Never too late to join 2003, I finally finished reading The Da Vinci Code. I’ll spare a formal review of the book but suffice to say that I thought it was going to have a little more Da Vinci and a little less code—not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say.

But if the secret to turning the Bible upside down are contained in any of the Florentine master’s paintings, I’d put his depiction of St. Jerome at the top of the list. This unfinished work sparks a curious interest not just because the artist mysteriously walked away from its completion, but because of the subject matter.

St. Jerome, also known as Hieronymus, was something of a pagan turned monk before he wrote the Latin translation of the Bible 380 years after Christ. As it turned out, his version met with some controversy. There’s also a popular fable claiming St. Jerome befriended a lion by pulling a thorn from its paw.

Taking a closer look, Da Vinci paints the monk almost as a tortured soul, as if his entire life’s work were gnawing at him. One gets the feeling that the lion is there to relieve the man of a psychological thorn and not the other way around. Of course, this is art, and art, just like in The Da Vinci Code, tends to be subjective and can many times exaggerate for a desired effect.

Is there any significance to the lack of finish? Does the stone in the monk’s hand suggest his anger or anguish? I don’t really know from researching it for twenty minutes on the web.

But I know that assessing the intentions of anything created so long ago is a questionable endeavor, and I suspect if Leonardo really was privy to some historically significant information from some secret society, he would have revealed it in a work that didn’t rely so much on what is perceived, but what is known.

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