Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Intrinsic Quality of Logos

An interesting (and densely informative) article on corporate logos, designers like Paul Rand, and how things sometimes turn a bit weird for both.

If anything, the fact that the same person had designed the Enron logo and the IBM logo seemed to say nothing more than good logos and good companies didn't necessarily go hand-in-hand. Rand himself implied as much in his 1991 essay "Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons," saying "A logo doesn't sell, it identifies...A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like." And for those seeking Riefenstahl parallels, Rand adds, "Design is a two-faced monster. One of the most benign symbols, the swastika, lost its place in the pantheon of the civilized when it was linked to evil, but its intrinsic quality remains indisputable. This explains the tenacity of good design."

Found this while researching the rare butterfly of the 13-line version of the IBM logo -- I had always assumed there was only the 8-line version done by Rand. Does anyone know of where to see this specimen?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two things that keep me up at night

Sometimes I have trouble sleeping.

Sometimes there is a reason for this and sometimes not. Sometimes it's the rain, and sometimes it's the pipes.

At any given such time, whether there is a reason for it or not, there is always a thought that will present itself as the thing that occupies my mind at the time. Sometimes the thought is whether I should like sports more (yes, really) or whether architecture should be more open and accepting to amateurs (yes, really).

Tonight there were two thoughts which occupied my mind simultaneously, and made me both laugh and cry to the point of leaving my bed.

The first was a mental recreation of a tourist experience I had while visiting a site of Roman archaeological ruins in England, bordering a river by the name of Tyne. Among the building remains were many sub-structures that the site-designers (as the archaeologist-consultants must be described) went to great lengths to explain in the brochures as having served several and many specific purposes (“this is where they cleaned their coins”, “this is where they collected themselves and commented to each other on how clean their coins were”, “this building tells us how important the coins were to them, because it was structurally unsound, and they kept no coins in it” etc). And as we were walking through these various former-spaces I found myself saying to my husband “So… these Romans.. they had a steam bath here… according to the brochure.. and the water went out that way… Wow these Romans really cared about being clean… they went to great lengths to live up to this bathyness thing… you might say that they went all out to bathe in the Tyne daily.” … At which point the American tourists in front of us did an about-face and loudly expressed a happy “oh no, you didn’t.. [shame on you punster]”

The other thought was that Obama might be killed.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Puerto Rico Gets a 9/11 of Its Own

Early this morning a number of large storage tanks in an oil refinery in Puerto Rico experienced sudden combustible failure. Kaboom (link goes to news story). Causes yet unknown 14 hours later.

Being an ex-pat, the only way I could get visual reportage was via the streamed video provided by (the main TV station in PR). One of the things that struck me when I saw their anchor broadcasting from the rooftop of the station building (below)....

... is how much it reminded me of another anchor, broadcasting from the roof of another building, not so long ago:

Telemundo, however, has not stopped showing commercial breaks, and has thus wasted no time in creating a neat little scare-o-graphic to act as transition:

I wonder how long before somebody from the Gulf corporation gives them a call and tells them to cut it out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Philip, on gay marriage

"What do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I know you don't really think I torture cats for fun

But, if I told you that this is my cat's absolute favorite thing in the world, would you believe me?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Dear Google,

I can't think of any precedent of a company who takes off all graphical or textual references to itself off its product, even if only for a day. This is the virtual press release equivalent to shouting from the mountaintop "We have arrived and we can fuck with you".

Then again, the name is right there in the browser's Location bar... presumably typed in by the user itself.

Still..... celebrating the bar code? The 57th anniversary of the bar code? It's not even a round number!

How about this instead:

1959 –
U.S.S.R. probe Luna 3 transmits first ever photographs of the far side of the moon.

(from the same "Today in history" page on Wikipedia you got the bar code thing -- same level of laziness).

I sure wish you would spend less time feeling self-important and accomplished and more time fixing the damn GMail interface. It's embarrassing. Yahoo Mail has a MUCH better interface (rivaling that of desktop Outlook) but unfortunately, in my experience, their performance record is spotty (and not just occasionally). Still, a quick check I've just done shows that, at least today, it's working a lot better. Maybe I'll switch back.......



Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: