Friendly Reminder

Dearest Reader(s):

Please remember: "pull your lid back" is a figure of speech.
It is not to be taken literally.

Thank you.


Holy Schmap, Photo Credits!

I had no idea what Schmap was until I learned that some of my Creative Commons-licensed photography is being used in Schmap's Prague and London listings.

First, I received an email about a photo I took at Prague's Hotel Josef:

Hotel Josef Toiletries (Aveda)

Then I got another email, regarding a photo of the unassuming front of the Maharishi store in London (it's easy to miss, tucked away on Floral Street):

Maharishi Store

What's so cool to me about all this: it's practically effortless. Post your photos to Flickr, use a Creative Commons license that permits sharing with attribution, and you could have photo credits that used to take a lot more work to achieve. That's assuming you take photos that people want to use.

What's funny to me about all this: these are both relatively high-end locations - the type of place I explore when traveling on business, but not the kind of place I typically patronize on my own dime. I'm more of a low- to no-brow league of consumer in most respects.

That said, Hotel Josef was a great place to stay near the old town square of Prague. Especially when your employer is paying for it. I should also admit that I did convince myself to splurge on a very expensive, limited-edition sweatshirt (which I am afraid to wear very often) at Maharishi - who may be best known for Sno-Pants and the Encyclopedia of Disruptive Pattern Material (which is, incidentally, one of my favorite reference works).


Half-Assed Regulations Ultimately Don't Save Us

I've been balking for months at the ridiculous television ads for the Smoke-Free Illinois Act (formerly the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act) that promise "air free of cancer-causing toxins" when the only difference in the air is a lack of cigarette smoke. There are still other toxins in the air, and plenty of other ways to get cancer other than from those airborne toxins. Cancer aside, think of all the other irritants polluting our indoor air: wearers of too much cologne, bearers of body odor (ranging from homeless dude to indie rocker in severity), and pet owners who transmit pet dander (allergens) on their skin, hair and clothing. Is our legislature sincerely trying to improve air quality, or just pretending to save people from their beloved vices? Take a guess.

In Illinois, 71.82% of us believe that smoking a pack or more a day poses a significant health risk. Only 38.75% of us believe there is a significant risk in the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks, once or twice a week. Roughly .2% of deaths in Illinois are caused by cancer. But 45% of traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Why haven't we outlawed alcohol from public places? Or automobiles? We need to be saved from booze and cars more than we need to be saved from cancer or cigarettes.

Today I'm snickering at New York City's new menu labeling regulations, which claim to help guide consumers to healthier choices - by displaying only caloric information. What about fat, sodium and cholesterol? Sure, 20% of New Yorkers are obese, but 25.3% of them have high blood pressure and 34.9% of them have high cholesterol. If health were the true priority, the labeling wouldn't begin and end with calories alone.

And since when is it the restaurant's job to teach the ignorant masses how to eat properly? Why aren't grocery stores tasked with educating us more? Wait, what about schools - they're supposed to have educated us already, right? Oh, and our parents... we learn our eating habits from our parents more than anyone else. You need a license to drive a car and you have to be 21 to purchase alcohol, but any dumb-ass can have kids and instill unhealthy habits in them.

Why do we feel the need to demonize a fashionable bad guy instead of address the real problems in their entirety? Why does legislature feel the need to save us from ourselves only when convenient? And why do I think that one of my blog readers is going to have the answers to these questions?

Today is just one of those days, I guess.
UPDATE: DC Lies has the answer.


Album Art = More Than Mere Packaging

More people buy music digitally now than ever before. The demise of DRM-crippled product makes digital purchases all the more appealing. But some folks - the kind who make money designing static album art, coincidentally enough - complain about "loss of the importance of album artwork." But, contrary to the lamentations of these naive suburbanites, nothing is lost. I think they're simply missing the bigger picture.

Album sleeves were originally intended to protect the analog disc, and preserve the quality of the music encoded on that disc. Every release was packaged essentially as a white label until Alex Steinweiss came along. He's the guy we have to thank for album art as we know it today:
In 1939, 23 year old Alexander Steinweiss proposed to Columbia to make a change in the presentation and packaging of the 78 RPM record albums and to use original artwork (drawings and paintings) on the covers. The new look skyrocketed the sales of an already very popular composition. From that day on the artistic packaging became an important part of the record.
But it's been a long time since album art was limited to the sleeve around a disc. In fact, album art is so important that it transcends packaging. It evolved to include merchandise, concert stage sets, web sites and interactive experiences -- all of which allow an artist to elaborate on the concept(s) of an album. Consider these examples: Pink Floyd Amon Tobin, Air, Kraftwerk, or even the White Stripes. The visual art of an album can be, and for many artists already is, so much more than packaging. I would argue that it's more important than ever.