Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ballot initiative 300: that would be illogical

So I was minding my own business last night, taking a quick peek at the Twitter feed, when the following post popped up on my screen from @absolutspacegrl:
Denver voters to decide whether their tax dollars should be spent on creating an "extraterrestrial affairs commission"

There must be some misunderstanding, I thought. People don't "vote" on "forming extraterrestrial commissions" any more than they "vote" to "have municipal garbage collectors dump trash on the steps of city hall." I clicked the link. What I found was, as my Twitter pal Luke later put it, a gift that keeps on giving.

To be sure, I do realize it's that time of year...the time of year when ghouls and goblins come out attacking everyone and we all pretend like it's normal. I'm talking, of course, about midterm elections. But I was still a little taken aback to confirm that indeed, the great city of Denver has somehow managed to attach to the very bottom of their ballots a small eensy weensy measure on the formation of a coalition to investigate UFOs and other instances of extraterrestrial beings here on Earth. It is real, folks. It is called Initiative 300, and it has a music video, "Pink UFO."

Just so you know, aside from being the official music video of Initiative 300, this production—which stars (alleged) hip hop musicians TIME and Damon Jevon—was created to raise awareness about the fact that there's a cure for breast cancer floating about the heavens somewhere, and that the ETs have so nicely offered to give it to us, but the U.S. government won't let us take it from them. You. Can. Not. Make. This. Stuff. Up. (Of course I now have to decide whether to add this to my pink post; I should probably refrain.)

A quick glance at the website for Initiative 300 gives away the madness. I must admit it was heartening to find out that Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson were both alien fans before they died, and that Ronald Reagan was followed by a UFO once, but he didn't have the cojones to report it. But it got better. Luke alerted me to an article pointing out that in 2014, a group of representatives from eight civilizations from various nearby stars and constellations will be dropping in on the United Nations general assembly for a little chat with us. Do they get diplomat parking privileges with that? I can only imagine the rubbernecking along First Avenue when those guys fly into town. Or maybe they can beam themselves in? Perhaps JJ Abrams can clue us in on that one.

So clearly, some folks in Colorado have been watching a few too many Balloon Boy YouTube reruns, I thought to myself. Hopefully Denverites will see right through this and vote a resounding 'over my dead body.' But then...then I found out that the organizers of Initiative 300 are already targeting New York for a similar ballot proposition! And now it gets personal. So all I will say is this: If my posse of Flying Spaghetti Monster-fearing droogs and I have to raise some hell and kick some snooty New York ass on account of this unscientific horseshit, then by golly, it will be done. We will not be voting on the aliens, thank you very much!! And to those of you in Denver next week: If you know what's good for you, VOTE NO ON 300. &infin

Sunday, October 24, 2010

what's in a logo? a lot

By now you've all heard about the recent Gap logo brouhaha, in which the purveyors of inexpensive office duds revealed their new corporate marker to a fury so loud, they were forced to recant and issue a big, public "never mind." For what it's worth, I think it was the right decision: While their logo isn't one of my favorites, the new one was awful. But more importantly, the new logo had nothing whatsoever to do with their old one, which had come to be known and trusted by shoppers everywhere.

Some have argued recently that logos don't matter anymore, but I strongly disagree. If that were the case, then why does the image of a U.S. flag awash in logos conjure sentiments of outrage? Why is this taxonomy of species so powerful? And why did Logorama win best animated short at the Oscars this year?

Of course, many successful companies periodically update their logos as a way to refresh their image or reflect a new line of thinking. But my opinion is that unless you're changing the entire gist of your offerings, the best redesigned logos don't completely start over; they instead build on the existing design so that the public can still identify the brand. When Gap decided in the mid-90s to ditch Banana Republic's safari/travel theme and go after the "casual luxury" clothing market, the resulting logo redesign made a lot of sense. But Gap's change this year was just dumb. It reminded me of the decision that New York City-based pharmacy chain Duane Reade made a few years ago—only this time, the parent company realized the error (albeit after severe public excoriation) and wisdom prevailed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

stuff of life: time to learn on blog action day

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is water. While there are so many issues I could focus on for this, I'm simply going to whip out one of my favorite statistics to get things going: If you fill a bucket with water and have it represent all the H2O on the planet's surface, the percentage representing clean, safe drinking water would amount to no more than a spoonful. One spoonful!

It's no secret that the lack of potable drinking water around the globe is a ridiculously huge problem. In fact, it's so big that we in our busy lives have a tendency to pretend there's nothing wrong or otherwise ignore the issue because we think there's nothing that just one person can do about it. Well, there are things you can do! But the solutions do start with a small sacrifice: your time. To really make a difference, we all need to set aside whatever we can—a few minutes, a few hours—to learn about the water problems we face. And amidst all the gloom and doom, we need to hear about progress, too; there are a number of ingenious ways in which folks have already achieved success at helping keep our waters—and the waters halfway around the world—clean and clear.

For those of you looking for a basic background on the state of our world's drinking waters, you might enjoy my recent post on water safety. The following videos should also serve as quick, helpful primers on issues of water security, both in developing and developed nations. &infin

A friendly reminder about the world's drinking water, from Charity: water

How one man's invention could save millions, from

Why bottled water is evil—and not necessarily clean—from The Story of Stuff