As Far As I Can Tell

Eminem’s Mosh

Finally, Eminem steps up and says something worthwhile. If you haven’t seen it, watch his new video, Mosh, in QuickTime format.

Also, read the text transcript of the new Bin Laden tape. This is going to be spun every which way over the next few days, so just read the straight translation first. Examples of note:

…contrary to Bush’s claims that we hate freedom. Let him tell us why we did not attack Sweden for example.
As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way (and) to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.

Nothing justifies the attacks, but can we please put the rhetoric of “hate our freedom” behind us? There are real reason that people hate the United States. Even if you don’t agree that those reasons are worthy of hate, you have to understand the mind of your enemy. Can we please get beyond the constantly repeated (and believed) marketing messages of this war?



Amen. of course only a small percentage of Americans will learn about this transcript and find access to it.

Posted by: andrea on November 2, 2004 10:16 AM

True, it’s available but tucked away on the internet. I also found the full transcription instead of just excerpts, but I have to go to Aljazeera for that.

Posted by: simon on November 2, 2004 11:53 AM

Professional Ballot Design

The New York Times has an editorial today about yet another ballot flawed by bad design. Apparently in Ohio (where all the action is this year) some absentee ballots use a punch card system with a separately printed sheet listing the candidates. Even though it looks like you’re supposed to overlay the two and punch the hole that the arrows point to, you’re not. You’re supposed to correlate the number next to your choice to the number on the punch card — the arrows are there by mistake.

The Times rightly points out that these sorts of problems are caused by local officials designing the ballots themselves rather than seeking out a professional designer. Why is design knowledge so profoundly disregarded? Knowing how to use PageMaker doesn’t mean you know how to design a ballot; give it to someone who can do it right. In relation to this story, here’s a tip: If you have to include separate instructions on how to use the ballot, your design has failed.

Dear Election Officials, I will gladly quit my job making bullshit advertising promotions to design and test better ballots. Please contact me or for god’s sake someone. Nothing as solvable as ballot design should be allowed to ruin our election process.

Oh wait, it’s too late. Never mind. I can only hope that Kerry wins by a wide enough margin to avoid the impending litigation mess.



Wolfgang Weingart Lecture

On Thursday I attended a lecture by design legend Wolfgang Weingart at Western. He taught at the famed Basel School of Design in Switzerland while it was the epicenter for graphic design’s coming of age. It’s interesting to hear from someone who remembers the transition from hot metal to film based typography. From the sounds of things he never really made the jump to the computer. He was an early experimenter with it in Europe, though his examples where nearly all film based.

His history is important to understand, particularly since he educated one of my professors from the program at WMU. The lecture was good for historical reasons, though I can’t say that I took much inspiration from it. His lesson seemed to be “have fun” and the process he shared was getting a bottle of wine and then designing. He talked a lot about his sketches and experimentation, but I would have liked some more insight into his methods, like maybe a case study of a particular project.

No doubt it’s very hard to give a lecture about your life in an hour, especially when English isn’t your first language. Luckily for the design students at Western he was here all week, giving workshops and advice in a more direct manner.

Cover of his book, My Way to Typography

Showing examples of metal type

A Weingart Poster



when i post thinky entires like this i am always weirded out that no one says anything. so i wanted to say—i like the thinky entries. good stuff. (i linked to you this week, too_

Posted by: jim on October 28, 2004 8:17 AM

Thanks Jim, and for the link.

Posted by: Simon on October 28, 2004 10:31 PM

For individuals, RFID hurts more than it helps

I’m listening to a recorded copy of Talk of the Nation on the subject of RFID tags. If you don’t know, RFID tags are tiny little radio transmitters whose information can be read from a distance. This sort of thing has existed for a while, but now that it’s really small and really cheap it’s ubiquitous implementation is being predicted. It has serious privacy implications and if it’s a new topic for you then I suggest reading the RFID Wikipedia entry and the ACLU’s position on RFID.

The guest expert on the show is full of canned and optimistic answers. For example a librarian called in and was concerned about the use of the tags within books for barcode replacement and theft deterrent purposes. The guest outright dismissed the concerns, saying that the chances of people having a reader were low and that libraries are doing it to reduce costs, so it’s okay. The reply was so ill considered that when he was thanked the caller replied with a sarcastic and drawn out “Ohhh…kay.”

Security by obscurity? Not a problem because of current technological roadblocks? The reason we need to talk about the privacy concerns is precisely because the most concerning technology hasn’t yet fully materialized. If we wait until everyone can get a $30 general purpose RFID reader, or until the tags can broadcast a long distance, then it’s too late. The rate of technological progress and its inverse to the cost of purchase mean that the more we snooze on this, looking only at the benefits, the higher chance that we’ll end up in a world where everything is tracked and privacy is a quaint and unrealistic ideal.

It’s already happening, as just this week the FDA approved implanted RFID tags for medial use within hospital patients. While the health care industry obviously has a data management problem I think there are unexplored and less concerning ways to solve it. Other proposed uses of this technology are downright trivial. On the show they talk about smart clothing that will allow your washing machine to alert you about its care instructions or milk being able to tell the refrigerator that it’s expired. These are comically minor problems in our lives, and are served just fine by the existing method of printing information on the tag or container.

This sort of ridiculous complication is pure techno-fanaticism mixed with irresponsibility. It reminds me of the mindset used when a new species is introduced into a non-native area to control the population of another species. It solves the original problem in a band-aid manner while introducing a whole new set of issues.

Already people are talking about how RFID concerns can be covered up instead of addressing them. They say you could get a RFID blocking handbags to keep any items in that you don’t want broadcasting their data. Come on — opt out solutions are privacy nightmares and protect only the fringe groups in the know.

We need to have some more serious discourse about this technology and implement legislative as well as technological solutions. There’s no doubt that RFID offers time and cost saving benefits, so I doubt the market is going to slow its implementation or sort out the privacy concerns on its own.



You’re very smart, Simon.

Posted by: andrea on November 17, 2004 12:39 PM

RFID THE PERFECT STORM By James Mata Zombie Wire RFID World News November 26 2004 We the consumers are at a brink in life where we will move from the simple task at the market place to purchase supplies for home, office, motor home and others as you can imagine. We walk in the store and purchase these items and hand down cash or card for the items scanned using the barcode system. Seems pretty simple however none threatening to your privacy. However these times have come to an end. You might as well say it is at your door right now, but 90 percent of all consumers are non- aware of this fact. This reason is that if that percentage knew of this fact then the process would stop in its tracks because of what is behind the new movement and normal people would not want it to continue with this. Wal-Mart the “super power” monster store found a new direction in how they will run their shop and being so they informed the supply chain around the world to make it so with all products purchased by Wal-Mart. Having mandated the supply chained complied and this set off the shot heard around the business world. All retail competitors had to follow the lead in order to compete. The mandate is that all items sold via Wal-Mart will have a Radio Frequency Identification chip or in simple terms RFID chip implanted in all products sold. What is an RFID? What is RFID? Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify individual items. There are several methods of identifying objects using RFID, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a product, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna (called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). AT this time as the Trojan horse at the door consequently there is nothing we can do about it because the gears are in motion; however, we need to learn everything we can about the RFID movement to maintain our privacy rights. You will not be able to “sell” any products without the RFID as you see in the barcode today. This RFID chip will go home with you and one day your home will be filled up with RFID chips. How would you feel if your home items were public knowledge from a certain book you have to what style and size under pants? You ask how that may become public awareness. Theoretically speaking if a van pulled out side your home with a RFID transponder, there is way for that person in the van to inventory your private life, and who knows what would take place once that knowledge is out. You ever heard the saying “keep and honest man honest: approach? Think about this! Likewise, the RFID market has not stoped here and it will continue to transpire to greater levels beyond our comprehension. There is a RFID chip out now called the Verichip. This Verichip is imbedded in the human body. This Verichip may store your Visa Card, bank debit card and social security and other information that takes the place of your purse. The perfect storm: In theory, what will become of the Verichip by means of how we see progress continue to unfold? Will the Verichip be mandate as the RFID chip is mandate for all products you buy or sell? If you do not agree with this mandate will you be able to buy or sell? I will leave you with this “Buyer Beware” You can find all your RFID insight where you get both sides of the fence so please go and visit

Posted by: James Mata on November 29, 2004 8:33 PM

I read about this on they are the best as far as RFID news goes, World news,………..

Posted by: Steve Houser on December 9, 2004 9:34 AM

Meredith turns 22

Happy birthday to Meredith!

Ms. Adams-Smart loves birthdays and is stretching this one as long as she can. The b-day related activities started on Saturday and continue through tomorrow. They might even jump to the weekend; there’s no stopping it now.

So everyone, all at once, send her an e-mail. Along with well wishing for another year we need top persuade her to start the year off right by reviving that dead weblog of hers.



Thanks Simon. You always make my birthday so wonderful. I promise that someday I will update the Cowpokes.

Posted by: meredith on October 18, 2004 11:14 PM

Kalamazoo Calendar Project

Way back in the early spring I met up with 11 other people to start planning for an art project. We wanted to make a calendar, hand silk screened, with each month designed by a different person. It’s been a long process, but last night we got together to see all of the finished pages for the first time.

The prints look great, with a wide variety of styles and colors. There’s a show scheduled at Brakeman for the December 3rd Art Hop if you’d like to see the prints framed and on display. That’s also the first time the calendar will be for sale, just in time for Christmas.

I did November.

Three Colors



How might I purchase one, if I am far away?

Posted by: ivo on October 6, 2004 11:19 AM

I can always bring one with me when I visit sometime. I’m also thinking of selling them on that new website I was talking about building.

Posted by: simon on October 6, 2004 11:30 AM

looks nice..i hope to buy one as well…

Posted by: mark on October 6, 2004 5:42 PM

Oh oh! Me too! I want one!

Posted by: jake on October 6, 2004 6:19 PM

i want one i want one i want one i want one (i love indie-silkscreen, even better when it is by friends i love)

Posted by: jim on October 7, 2004 12:54 AM

um, meee tooo. sorry we didn’t connect over the weekend. try again at christmas time… allison and i will be in kalamazoo at some point. =) e.

Posted by: e_prime on October 7, 2004 10:26 AM

Wow, so many people that want them sight unseen. I’ll post info on how to get them once they’re all done. Eric: I’m going to be on vacation this Christmas, but let me know when you’re going to be back because I’d love to meet up if we can.

Posted by: Simon on October 9, 2004 1:02 AM

i, also, would like to purchase your fine product.

Posted by: miguel on October 12, 2004 9:52 AM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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