Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Babel Tales

These are from Peter Funch's collection entitled "Babel Tales". Some of these are quite the study on time and space. Simply brilliant.

My President can Snap (pictures)

He can ball,

He has swagger,

And he can take pictures,

Oh yah, and he's President.

The White House has its very own Flickr page, and its pretty awesome.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Response to: "Can Starbucks Buy A 'Saving Africa' Image for a Nickel?"

William Easterly emailed his blog to Starbucks, receiving this response from its Senior Vice President of Public Affairs. Some interesting things have been pointed out in the comments section. Why wouldn't Starbucks, then, promote the fact that they have in fact donated the equivalent of 4.2 million doses of antiretroviral drugs on their site? Also, what does this amount to? (I can imagine that it would depend on which brand is used etc. I also understand that treatment involves regular checkups and adjustments to the dosage. It would seem like quantitatively accessing one's contributions via doses would consequently be misleading in terms of its actual effect on Africa.)

Her response also fails to give Starbucks that glow of a company really doing something to help Africa. Evidently the "equivalent to 4.2 million doses" statement means that the money is spent on other things. If Starbucks has really contributed so much, shouldn't they be informed about where this money is going? It still stands that the Red campaign's polish and flare does little to underscore the real issues on the continent. How much has been spent on advertising for Red versus actually spent on Africa? Read here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Twitter, Garbage

According to its website,

"Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

It then explains,

"Why? Because even basic updates are meaningful to family members, friends, or colleagues—especially when they’re timely.

* Eating soup? Research shows that moms want to know.
* Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful.
* Partying? Your friends may want to join you."

Now excuse the following rant, but ...

Evidently, I am not entirely against new media. I think the idea of broadcasting one's ideas on the web (blogging) can have very meaningful uses. Amongst its many advantages, you can publish thoughts in a modern, accessible way, incorporating all that the web has to offer: links, videos, etc. making for what can often be better-expressed ideas. For example, rather than just reviewing a movie, one can actually link a reader to the clip of discussion. It allows those who might not have the expertise or time for the creation of a real website to contribute in their own way to the web. It also gives people a voice that might not otherwise be heard. Finally, it allows others to quickly and easily respond to what has been said, creating some fragment of a forum, which can be helpful for the purpose of gauging where your thoughts might stand with others.

In essence, a blog provides an opportunity to actually communicate and discuss ideas in a relatively public, profitable and thorough manner.

Blogging has its own downsides. For instance, there are thousands of blogs, and like many things in such vast quantity, their quality varies substantially. There are also issues of copyright and plagiarism that are hard to control throughout the web. (This last, actually, might just be part of a larger problem, relating to the lack of legal foundations with regards to the web...but I won't get into that now.) Yet, in its short lifespan, blogging has really established itself as a reasonable medium for communicating ideas.

Twitter, on the other hand, I see little value in. First, it serves a niche that no one really knew existed. Secondly, it creates what could be described as life spam. Finally, it is the self-sacrificing of one of the last vestiges of privacy (those few moments you have away from CCTV etc.). To no one's surprise, I don't actually really care if someone starts work at 4, just saw the cutest puppy, is craving chocolate cake, has to go to the washroom or is now really relieved that they went go to the washroom. I think its incredibly selfish and self-centred to think anyone would care. In a society where we are bombarded by 24 hour headlines and snippets, do we really need to create our own? There seems to be more information with less substance than ever before. There are far more important things to concern one's self with than something crammed into 140 characters or less. Technology has facilitated the publishing and dissemination of information; Twitter is a devolution in the advancements in communication this has afforded us.

Rather than force us to enter the trivialities of one's private life, it would be far more fruitful to accumulate those 140 characters and actually write something thoughtful, without abbreviations that someone in their right mind might actually find useful, insightful or remotely interesting. (see other forms of new media to see how - blogging for instance) With the last few ounces of privacy that still remain under our own control, there is no need to give it away using Twitter. I have found that Twitter seems to only emphasized the mundane nature of most people's lives. Next there will be some way for companies to analyze "tweets" so that they might target advertising to individuals. Picture this: you tweet that you are fed up with your phone company. Immediately you receive a phone call from someone trying to sell you a new phone service.

Remember when you had real conversations with people? When you could ask them "What did you do today?" without knowing already every little banal detail? These are questions that Twitter users must answer. The thrill of mystery cannot be understated, nor can the vapidity of the every day lives of the vast majority of people. Keep it to yourself, if you have something real to say, write it articulately and eloquently without character limits. Then, choose your audience purposefully and you will reap the reward of people actually caring about what you have to say.

For now, I will stick to blogging: A medium through which real ideas can be properly communicated.

(Ironically, the guy who helped invent blogspot is the same guy who invented Twitter...I think there is something to be said about lightning not striking twice in the same spot.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Conscience Clea(Red)

I have always been rather skeptical of the product Red campaign. It just seemed like a lot of flash with little evidence of any effective aid. Like many charities, there are undoubtedly good intentions, but in practice, their effectiveness is questionable. There is significant debate surrounding charity, aid and non governmental organizations, especially with regards to Africa. The discourse ranges from whether overarching coordination is needed, to the effectiveness of the policies of such organizations as the International Committee of the Red Cross (Neutrality, Independence and Impartiality) to Dambisa Moyo's radical view that aid is dead, who states that more than a trillion dollars has gone into Africa since the 1950s without remarkable results.

The above discourses, however, generally revolve around on the ground actions. Product Red's intentions, in contrast, are to create a campaign that, by associating themselves with popular products, will make it trendy to support Africa in western countries. The idea is that the bold red colour and strong catch phrases will scream "I support Africa", allowing companies and people alike to create their own philanthropic image.

William Easterly, author of "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good" did some quick research into the matter. Starbucks, a member of the Red Campaign, says it will donate 5 cents for every product sold using Stabucks' "Red" card (that you must also buy in addition to the coffee). Using Starbucks' own "Red" website, Easterly notes that only roughly 87 000 coffees have been bought by people using a product Red card. Doing the math, he notes that this is equal to roughly $4350. (yes, four thousand dollars). That is equal to only one quarter of the number of Starbucks stores presently in operation throughout the world (just over 16 000).

Easterly thus notes the consequent advantage product Red has given Starbucks. For roughly $4000, Starbucks can now plaster Red all over their stores, insinuating that yes, this massive multi-billion dollar company is saving Africa.

The failure of the campaign is twofold. A) though the image is everywhere (mostly due to massive amounts of advertising), it would seem that your average consumer is not buying into the idea of Red being cool. B) since the margin of charity derived from each product sold is so small, there is little money actually going towards Africa seeing as no one is buying into Red. The result is cheap (note: hyperbole) positive branding for some massive companies. Fortunately, alternative campaigns have since germinated (The Buy (Less) Crap campaign), and it seems that more and more people are growing skeptical of product Red.

In conclusion:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


1. The property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.

proper noun
1. A country in Southern Asia that possesses the property of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the country reflects or emits light.

Click here for more pics.

Subprime: Off the Chain


Mike Jones! Mike Jones! "Back then hoes didn't want me, now hot hoes all on me!"

An insightful analysis into the loss of a chain and what to do with resulting bail out (insurance) money.

Jay Smooth would like to NOTE: "I'm not, in a literal financial sense, questioning gold as an investment, just questioning whether the over-the-top garish gold jewelry ever brings the attention or respect you're looking for that sense I don't think it's an investment that ever pays off nowadays."

Check out his site.


subprime from beeple on Vimeo.

Aha! Well played, well played.

Society's stubborn search for self-aggrandizement, sought through the securing of subprime mortgages sold by some stupid syndicates, has seemingly subverted so soundly some State governments' sums of specie. Said some suffering socialite.

Sometimes I think sitting on trains / Every stop I get to I'm clocking that game

This video shows one of the key periods of Graffiti: When it used to adorn the Subway cars of NYC.

In this progressive day and age, where Graffiti is widely recognized as an art with its share of masters, perhaps the drab gray subway cars of NYC could be reborn as canvases for willing artists.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Take off eh?

They say that aircraft are one of the primary creators of greenhouse gases. This time laps photo shows every aircraft to take off at one runway in Hanover Germany over the course of one day. Mostly its a cool picture, I'm sure Al Gore would have something to say on the matter though.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cup Raise

Seeing as the Playoffs start today...This commercial is appropriate.
The NHL is finally getting something from its marketing department.

Well Played

I am not the biggest fan of Audis. In fact, they have, until recently been total crap... Now they are safe crap (with the exception of the Bugatti Veyron which is a technical marvel.) They have, though, had some great advertising.(scroll down)

Here, they bite off a little more than they can chew.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace sobriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona.
Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.
The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.
Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Cost of Success

Banksy, world famous for his graffiti art, is now starting to experience the cost of success. His appeal to Hollywood stars, and the rising value of his work have left some to question his continuing credibility. His work's role in contributing to the gentrification of neighborhoods and in singlehandedly resulting in the increased value of certain properties have added an ironic twist to his image. The result has been the defacing of certain Banksy works.

It now seems inevitable that the cost of Banksy's success would infringe upon his perceived ideals. Despite these criticisms, his work continues to draw my attention, from its strongly framed points to its clever wit.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tilt-shift Miniature Faking

This video was made using the tilt-shift miniature faking photography technique. Essentially what is done is a Photograph is taken of a normal sized object from a normal depth of field and edited to imitate the Macro-look one might see in a picture of something miniature. This is done by blurring the parts of the picture that are not to be the central focus. In other words, a picture taken at a deep depth of field with a narrow aperture is made to look like it is actually a picture of something at a shallow depth of field taken with a large aperture. This process used to be achieved using tilt-shift lenses (lenses that one could actually tilt or shift) hence the name. Now days, this is usually achieved using a computer. Either way, its quite something to consider the tricks one can play on the mind and perspective by using such simple techniques of deception.

It was famously first used in Thom Yorke's Harrowdown Hill music video (below) and CSI's miniature killer episodes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

everybody is against everybody, someone has to be for them.

Pretty cool ad. Another good Amnesty International ad here. (Scroll down)