January 23, 2012

The Bride stripped bare.

You can't bury dirt deep enough.

I was browsing in an old Yale University Press hefty catalogue raisonne of the vast collection of avant-garde art amassed in the last century by the self-styled Societe Anonyme-which in fact consisted of the Brooklyn art patron Katherine S. Dreier and her close friend and adviser Marcel Duchamp. On page 210, a fleeting reference appears to Dreier's "brief marriage in 1911 with American painter Edward Trumbull."

Brief indeed. On August 22, 1911, the New York Times reported,
"Miss Dreier Finds She is not a Wife...Wedding cards recalled." 

Mr. Trumbull, "several years the junior of Miss Dreier and belonging to one of the oldest families in Connecticut," according to the news item, left the wedding party abruptly after the exchange of vows to fly to the side of his mother in Detroit and then telegraphed his new bride that he had something to tell her. It seems he was not legally free of a model he had previously married, in London.

Edward Trumbull’s vast ceiling mural, “Transport and Human Endeavor,” in the marble and steel lobby of the Crysler Building.

Miss Dreier left at once for one of those long trips abroad. Word of the Brooklyn society girl's misalliance must have pre-ceded her to the gabby salon of Gertrude Stein, to which she had been introduced by Edward Steichen. Soon after her arrival, Duchamp began working on sketches of a magnum opus (our picture), which he sold to Miss Dreier years later. Now known as The Large Glass, it had a working title that was more evocative: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even.

Miss Dreier, who carried a torch for Duchamp the rest of her life, never tried to marry again, even.

January 16, 2012

The end is-

well you decide.

We're old school around here.
Our godkids may have been the last of the line, and probably scarred for life because they wore cloth diapers.  I know, I washed them.
I had a theory at the time, which is probably still true but has drifted into NMP (not my problem) that wet bottoms were uncomfortable, and kids (of an appropriate age) were more willing to be housebroken if the incentive was to stay dry.
To my mind, disposable diapers, especially for toddlers, kept them too comfortable. One of the intended consequences of disposables I've noticed from friend’s kids is that many aren't broken until near school age.
That's a lot of extra diapers into a landfil.  Not throwing stones, but somehow a 50lb child in diapers!
All may not be lost though. The Huggies folks have added a sartorial touch to their line of disposable diapers. 
Now junior can look just like mom and dad.  
Huggies tagline: "The coolest you'll look pooping your pants."

January 10, 2012

Most Overreported Event of 2011

The canonization of Christopher Hitchens.

For a fearless contrarian, he took on easy targets: Kissinger, Mother Teresa, God. But he looked good and sounded better, and with a cig in his mouth and Johnny Walker Black near at hand, he didn’t need a trench coat, he personified Journalism. On America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq -the key issue of our time - he was loudly and enthusiastically wrong, and although he changed his mind on many things, he doubled down on this. There were journalists and pundits who got Iraq right, and got it right from the beginning. You never saw them on TV, and you never will. You saw Hitch though, and often. With reason: he was a Brit, with the gift of gab and all of literature at his command, he was never not entertaining. “Charm kills,” Waugh wrote, and Hitch is the literal proof; the drinking, the smoking, the long nights and writing-as-performance were very likely why he died so young. Along the way, it seems also to have killed, if only momentarily, the critical thinking of a great many smart media professionals, who didn’t want to see this sad, slow-motion suicide for what it was.

January 6, 2012

The year that (was) um, will be…

It’s customary this time of year to wax poetic about the past year and get all mushy about things you’d pretty much forgotten. But we don’t need that, right? We’re all forward-thinkers here, aren’t we?
So here is an alphabetical list of things you’ll likely hear about more often in the months ahead. At the very least, you’ll have some new words to drop into conversations to show how much you’re already plugged into 2012.

Here we go-

Augmented reality: Sure, it’s been around awhile, dating back to when yellow ”first-down” lines were first overlaid on football fields for games on TV. But using apps to layer virtual information over a real-world environment—think reviews that pop up on your screen when you focus your phone on the restaurant–is about to go mainstream. Coming soon: Google Goggles, glasses which will give the person wearing them all kinds of info about what they’re looking at.

Biometrics: There are so many things besides your sparkling wit that make you who you are–your DNA, iris scans, voice patterns or facial features—and the science of using them to identify you is getting more and more James Bondian. Now IBM is predicting that within a few years, we won’t need passwords, even at the ATM.

Car-sharing:  It looks like sharing things—particularly cars—is going to become as big a part of urban living as food trucks using Foursquare. Car-sharing companies, such as RelayRides and Getaround, connect people who need a car for a few hours to people willing to rent theirs. They’re operating in only a handful of U.S. cities right now, but just this month Getaround landed a $1.7 million federal grant to roll out in Portland, Oregon.

Digital assistants: Used to be that “personal digital assistants” referred to little handheld devices with calendars and phone directories to help you get your life organized. But voice-activated Siri on the iPhone 4S has given us a taste of what digital assistants of the future will do—adjust our calendars, read our email, archive our photos and documents and, above all, give us weather reports. Now it really is personal.

Electric cars: The truth is, there’s been nowhere near an electric car boom. So far Nissan has sold only 20,000 of its all-electric Leafs worldwide and Chevy fell short of its goal of selling 10,000 of its hybrid plug-in Volts this year. But Ford, Honda and Toyota all plan to launch electric vehicles in 2012 and Nissan announced this fall that, along with scientists at Kansai University in Japan, it had developed the technology to fully charge an electric car in only 10 minutes.

Foodspotting: This smart phone app that provides you with reviews and photos of specific restaurant meals before you order them has been downloaded more than a million times. And it may have finally come up with ways to make it a profitable business.

Gamification: Well, it doesn’t sound like much fun, but the whole point of “gamification” is to make everyday transactions feel like a game. So, more and more businesses, particularly retailers and restaurants, are starting to use the same sort of enticements that bring players back to games over and over—awards, badges, even leader boards.

Higgs boson: Earlier this month scientists at CERN, an atom smasher in Switzerland, announced that they may have “glimpsed” something known as Higgs boson. Big deal, right? Actually, it’s a very big deal because it would explain how matter has mass, which is why it’s become known as the “God particle.” This has prompted much speculation that Higgs boson may finally be discovered in 2012.

Ice Cream Sandwich: I love them, too, but what’s so innovative about an ice cream sandwich? But this one’s not edible. It’s the new operating system for Android smart phones and tablets and it’s likely to make Google an even stronger player in the mobile market. Why ice cream sandwich? Simple. It follows previous Google operating systems Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb. What, no Apple Pie?

Jawbone’s Up: Created by the same company that gave us Bluetooth headsets, it’s a wristband that tracks your sleeping and exercise habits. Unfortunately, within a month of its launch in November, Jawbone was already responding to complaints about performance issues. If the company can get the Up back on track, it should tap into one of the country’s hottest trends: Wearable tech that monitors how we’re treating our bodies.

Klout: This is a San Francisco company that has plunged into the dicey territory of trying to measure the actual influence people have on others on social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Klout actually hands out scores ranging from 100 if you’re seen to move the masses, to 1, if no one cares what you say. For all the shots Klout takes from its critics, companies seem to be paying attention to it.

LEDs: Some people still get feisty about wanting to hold on to their incandescent light bulbs, but face it, they are one of the more inefficient inventions ever—90 percent of their energy goes to producing heat, not light. The true 21st century light bulbs are LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which consume one-tenth the energy of incandescents, but can last at least 50 times longer. And scientists are finding all kinds of cool uses for LEDs, from producing lights that look like glowing sheets of paper to using LED lighting in the latest commercial airliners to help passengers fight jet lag.

Museum of Me:  Last year Intel came out with an mobile app that’s clearly in tune with the times. The Museum of Me takes all of the stuff you’ve posted on Facebook and turns it into a short video set in a museum. It’s been ripped as disturbingly narcissistic, but if nothing else, can make you realize that you really need to get out more.

January 5, 2012

Short days, unsettling times

While most of us were out celebrating-
The President of the United States spent his new year’s eve signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act. It is now official: the “indefinite military detention of Americans,” is the law of the land. There is some small comfort to be found in the president’s assurances that he will not be using it (but what after the President leaves office?).
“I want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” Obama wrote. “Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My administration will interpret section 1021 [of the bill] in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”
How assured are you?

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"