Xark began as a group blog in June 2005 but continues today as founder Dan Conover's primary blog-home. Posts by longtime Xark authors Janet Edens and John Sloop may also appear alongside Dan's here from time to time, depending on whatever.
I got this from our friend Bora, here, and even though the professor is on the faculty at Duke, I like his points. It makes an interesting companion piece to our ongoing discussions about bicycles... even though bikes aren't the subject.
I was just looking for a photo for a client this afternoon when I found this folder with the original Photoshop portraits I made for a feature piece on "Five Rock Stars of the New Web Culture" back in July. Since the photos themselves didn't make for good art, I decided to make colorful portraits using filters and effects and give those to the designers.
The designers didn't use any of them and never really gave a convincing answer as to why.. And then a senior editor decided that Craig Newmark couldn't be in the list "because he's killing our classifieds."
All in all, another day at the office. But I still like these portraits.
Godin turned this simple mug shot and its plain orange background into a marketing icon. I couldn't see any reason to use another photo, or change the color, but arting it up just a bit gives it more of a mismatched-sock-wearing, purple-cow-hunting rock-star flair.
Lessig is a particular hero of mine, and the paradox of the man is that he's a passionate, brilliant, feriocious advocate for causes and yet he has this soft, high, thoughtful voice. A geek warrior and a great American.
I got to meet Newmark at UC-Berkeley, and as soon as he was done presenting he immediately took a customer service call for Craig's List on his cell phone and dealt with that person's problem before returning to his adoring fans waiting to ask him big questions. Me, I just wanted his autograph. He's menschy and sincere and lives according to his own code of values.
You can say a lot of things about Robert (and people certainly have), but mostly I think he's just this guy who figured out a way to go around the world meeting people and playing with gadgets and saying "Hey! Look at this cool new thing!" to millions of people. He's a moveable party.
The Boing Boing crew
I love the original image, but the fun part for me was getting that circuit-board effect in the background. They actually LOOK like a band, don't they? Can Xeni sing? Anybody know?
So the cause I backed for promotion via Change.org didn't make the cut. But the No. 1 cause in the voting was actually a great, simple idea: Legalize marijuana. So why did President Obama reject it out of hand?
But we all know that's not the case. Obama rejected legalization on a pragmatic basis, because everybody knows that Americans think legalizing pot is a hippie issue, a radical idea that the mainstream will never support. Right?
I actually don't mind the fact that Obama rejected legalization, because the truth is I don't like it when politicians run on one set of issues and then pursue policies they never mentioned on the campaign trail. It's not his priority, and I'm OK with that.
But it's time for Americans to reexamine their assumptions about "untouchable" issues. Sure, everybody knows that voters will never go for legalizing pot, or providing universal health care, or anything on a long list of "radical" ideas that work in other places. And we know this because our media and our politicians keep telling us this. Everybody knows that's just the way it is.
Just like everybody knows that Americans won't be ready to elect a black man president for at least another generation.
Isn't it time we stopped bowing to the hysterically misinformed segments of our society and started talking about rational ideas openly and confidently? The prohibition of pot is a stupid leftover from a stupid age. Let's end it and move on.
There isn't much doubt that the Bush Administration made a mockery of law and process and public trust, leaving us a legacy of misrule. But what, if anything, will be done about that?
If you've been reading the Obama tea leaves recently, it's fairly obvious that the President has been bracing his supporters for a let-down. If you've been waiting for a Truth-and-Reconciliation Commission, don't hold your breath. That Bush didn't use his ability to pardon his team may be another tell. Perhaps he'd gotten the word that he need not worry.
From a pragmatic view, this is purely logical. Obama faces more instant crises than any president since FDR, and despite his current political capital he comes to this job without nearly enough juice to tromp his way to solutions. Investing time, energy and bandwidth in public prosecutions of Republicans isn't a post-partisan signal this president can send if he hopes to work serious reform through the Senate.
Yet the other side of the argument speaks plainly: To let actual crimes go unpunished is to make a public mockery of our believe in justice and accountability.
How will this end?
Two things to keep in mind:
Even if Obama sits on his hands, some degree of investigation is likely to proceed. John Conyers is quite capable -- and apparently inclined -- to hold some kind of inquiry. The President could likely make a show of trying to stop Conyers, but doing so publicly has its own risks. If he really doesn't want these specters raised, he will likely have to work via private persuasion.
Time may not be on Bush's side. The immediate assumption in the media appears to be that if the President discourages the federal government from aggressively pursuing wrongdoers in the short terms that the Bush administration will get away with it. I think not.
There has been quiet buzz for the past month around the notion that today, Jan. 21, begins a new era in what might be called "Bush Studies." Summarized: Throughout government there are literally thousands of appointees and careerists who have kept their mouths shut out of a sense of loyalty to the office, if not to the administration. Or maybe it was just fear.
In either case, several reporters have alleged that these Bush officials have expressed a willingness to provide information after the new administration takes office. That Jan. 21 would begin "The Great Reveal," a denouement in which evidence we've never seen finally comes to light in usable ways.
I'd like to believe this, because I want to know what happened. I doubt it because I'm skeptical of the people and corporate media involved .
But if anything close to The Great Reveal transpires, then I think everything changes.
Will Obama prosecute Bush's people for abuses we already know about? Not likely. But new facts -- say, a military officer who brings direct evidence of a White House conspiracy to mislead the public on the death of Pat Tillman, or some accountant from the Green Zone who can actually show us where our $9 billion went -- will very likely lead to a special prosecutor.
So that, ultimately, may be the final legacy of this failed administration: A class of discredited people, eying each other with loathing and suspicion, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"To be honest with ya, I don't think journalists should be (allowed)
anywhere near . . . war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You
report what's happening day-to-day. You make a big deal out of it.
I-I think it's asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and
World War II when you'd go to the theater and you'd see your troops on,
you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy
for' em. Now everyone's got an opinion and wants to downer--and down
soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers. I think
media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war
is hell. And if you're gonna sit there and say, 'Well look at this
atrocity,' well you don't know the whole story behind it half the time,
so I think the media should have no business in it."
It's outwardly pretty simple: Either politicians can take their money directly from people (no more than $250 per person, with no PACs, etc.), or they can accept money from the people indirectly, in the form of federally provided public funding.
This is Change-Congress' most radical idea, and for almost a year now I've been skeptical of it. But I'm headed over to Change.org to vote for it right now.
Reason? Because Lessig is right: Ethics reform isn't the most important problem we face, but it's the first problem we have to fix if we're to have any hope of solving the big problems sensibly. The other Change-Congress initiatives are good, and I support them wholeheartedly, but they're incremental. Only this solution - breaking the big-money cycle -- stands a real chance of changing the money-driven culture of Washington fast enough to make a difference.
Change.org will present the Top 10 initiatives to leaders in Washington, but this little unsexy proposal is a long way from making the cut. It's passed the first round, but it needs as much support as we can muster in the second round.
During my time in Germany, I observed something amazing to American eyes: At 3 a.m., in a city-center with no cars on the streets, drunken Bavarians leaving their favorite gasthauses would stand obediently at intersections waiting for the "Do Not Cross" light to change.
To the Americans on the corner, this seemed insane. Sure, having lights for pedestrians makes sense. It's a good rule. But the sight of a small crowd of happy, liquored-up people standing on an empty street corner in an otherwise silent city patiently waiting for a machine to tell them when to cross the street struck me as essentially, fundamentally absurd.