The Vigilant Robot

a watchful eye of creative complexity

Tag Archives: iraq

Expand Empathy; Erase Exceptionalism

Attacks in Paris happened today—terrible, hateful attacks that took many lives. It is very sad and unfortunate. I am crying. I am crying and I find it hard to stop. But it is not for Paris. I am crying for the silence—for the silence that fills the air and the internet day after day; the silence that proves to me whose lives are valued and whose lives might as well be dirt on the floor we sweep away into a garbage bin never to be seen again.

I’m so tired. Every day, the life of my people (broad usage here: all brown people, all Muslim people, etc.) does not matter. No one cares. Every day, they face violence, hatred. Every day. Some days they are able to escape, but those days seem few. Do you know what it is like to see family after family from non-Western countries die in terrorist attacks, whether it’s from groups like ISIS or countries like the U.S.A., and hear silence; then later, you witness an outpouring of sadness and an abundance of opinions and outrage when an attack hits a Western city, a city that you were told was worth seeing, that had some value?

Why do you believe that people living in your favorite tourist destination are more important than those living in the city you know nothing about? What makes you think that the other city isn’t worth seeing, that the culture is not important, or the people have no value? What exactly makes you think that it is okay if people die in other countries because you have nothing to do with it? Why do you not care about the people your own country murders? Why do you not care about the global terrorism committed by your own country?

Perhaps you think that violence in the middle east and elsewhere has been going on for so long that it doesn’t matter any more. Perhaps you think that there is nothing you can do about violence “over there” and amongst “those people.” Do you not think violence has roots? Do you think the average brown person wakes up and says, “Hey, I think today is a great day to kill some people”? You are mind-boggling. If you are American, you can do something to stop violence. The U.S. is the biggest perpetrator of violence; and this violence breeds violence from others. You can do something; you just have to care first.

violence needs no translation

violence needs no translation

When violent attacks in a western place occur, I log on to social media and see two things: 1. a barrage of prayers and solidarity hashtags and 2. racism, hatred, and threats of violence. When violent attacks in a non-western place occur, I log on to social media and see two things: 1. some of my friends expressing sadness and outrage and 2. silence from most.

Dear social media friends, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whathaveyou:

My life does not matter to you. If my life does matter to you, does it matter to you because you know me? If I lived in another country, on the other side of the world, my life would not matter to you. I believe my life would not matter to you. I would be dead in a terrorist attack and you would be okay with that. If somehow I left my home from that side of the world to find a safer, and more promising place in the West, you would still not care about me. I would be dead in a terrorist attack, and oh look, suddenly I matter to you. Oh wait, I probably live in a refugee camp because I cannot afford a place to live, so you would still not care about me. In fact, you would harm me. You would blame me for the violence I, myself, fled. You would blame me and then you would burn me. You would burn me. And you would burn me every single day after that. You would also burn my family, my friends, and anyone who looks like me. And then you would go back to not caring about me, my family, my friends, or anyone who looks like me. Or believes like me.

That hurts.

It hurts to know that a majority of people don’t give a crap about your life because you’re not the type of person people want to care about. They don’t even know you, so why should they?

When we cannot find empathy—when we refuse to listen, see, or understand anything outside of our own lives, there will never be justice and there will never be peace. Ever.

Expand your empathy and erase your exceptionalism.

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Hand-lettering: War of Error

I love hand-lettered work. I love typography. I just enjoy looking at well-made letterforms. I rarely make my own letterforms, however, other than the occasional sketch of a letter when I’m bored. I enjoy drawing letters, so why do I not spend more time doing so? Confused, I decided that I am going to do some hand-lettering every week.

Here is week one: War of Error.
The “War on Terror” is a war that keeps on going; it has no end. Does it even have a clearly defined beginning? In textbooks, yes, but in reality, I’m not too sure. There’s a lot of stuff going in in the world right now and people seem to have forgotten that we are still screwing things up in other places, some old, some new. I have been thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan lately, wondering about their turmoil. This is what I felt like hand-lettering.

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The iTrend

The iTrend. You know what it is. That poor letter of the English alphabet. Used and abused. Letter number nine.

In case you have no idea what I am talking about, it is not a new Apple product, but my clever way of giving a name to the trend of placing “i” before everything. “i” is the new prefix for names, companies, products, etc. It all began with Apple’s introduction of the iMac in 1998. The “i” stood for “internet,” bringing the old Mac up to date with the web, but also stood for the Apple values we think of today: imagination, innovation, individuality, etc. According to Ken Segall, the creative director and person responsible for naming this big, blue Macintosh computer, Steve Jobs wasn’t fond of “iMac.” They came up with some more names, but “iMac” was the only one that resonated. While it slowly grew on Jobs, he never embraced it at the time. He placed “iMac” stickers on the computer to get a feel for its look and still didn’t embrace it. I suppose Jobs never took the stickers off because the name stuck even though he never truly accepted it, and so began the “i” trend.

iMac, iBook, iPod, iPhone, iWork, iLife, iPad, iOS 5, iCloud, iBooks, and iTunes are the popular Apple products beginning with its famous “i.” I have actually never heard of the iOS 5 software or iCloud or iBooks. Of course, I don’t and have never had a smartphone and the iOS 5 is the operating system used for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad. (Yeah yeah, I guess I still live in the stone age.) iBooks is obviously an e-book application meant for those same products. iCloud is a storage system often used for those same products, as well, but can also be used for computers. Browsing the iCloud website, I am pretty sure I would like to use this application. See how enticing Apple’s products can be? Even if you are tired of the “i” trend, it still grabs you.

There are probably a whole slew of “i” products and applications I don’t even know about. iTrend could very well be a product, too. In fact, Googling “iTrend” produces various results. The results on page one show that iTrend is an Apple product; it’s an application for the iPad! “iTrend” is also the name used for a clothing store for women and children, a design and software development company, and something I don’t quite understand. The iTrend application for the iPad actually looks very cool. Trend USA, a maker and distributor of stone and mosaic tiles, has created the iTrend for the iPad, which lets you design a room in your house by taking a picture and choosing tiles and wallpaper designs. It’s basically an application for interior design and I bet they have really cool mosaic options.

So, while I am sick of the “i” trend, Apple does make some neat and interesting products for consumers. Can we at least leave the “i” to Apple? It’s getting a little bit out of control. “i” comes before everything. How many non-Apple applications use the “i”? How many companies use the “i”? How many twitter handles use the “i”? How many people want to make something starting with the letter “i”? Leave it to Apple to start a trend, even one it probably didn’t plan. The naming of a piece of technology now transcends all genres of life. Do people feel original? Creative? Cute? Partaking in a trend is anything but those characteristics. The “i” wasn’t just a first person exclamation; it did have a point. The “i” has clearly been identified as an Apple thing to do; it is the Apple brand. Anybody using “i” is appropriating. Now that is all fine and dandy, but it’s gotten out of hand. Please, enough.

I don’t know how this has not gotten old yet. People are still wondering if they should put “i” before their domain name, before their company name, etc., knowing that it is a fad. The answer is no. What do fads do, but die? Yes, they come back at some point decades later, but I can’t imagine this trend ever coming back. It’s the moment of Apple, of technologies using “i,” and technology advances. So please, let’s move on.

Apple has even discussed whether to drop the “i,” but has decided to stay consistent. It has been over a decade of “i” products. They can drop the name. Their consistency has been clear. Now, let’s move on. It is not trendy any more, just overused and tiresome. I hope that when Apple comes out with a new product, and according to Tim Cook, the new CEO, it’s sure to be something that will blow our minds, it does not begin with the letter “i.”

Best use of the “i” Trend

The best use of the “i” trend has already been done. Nothing can top it, so let’s drop it. Mad TV’s hilarious skit tops the cake and it’s still very relevant today. The actor playing Steve Jobs states, “In the last three years, Apple computers has introduced ‘i’ technology that has changed the world,” and with each product he lists, the recognizable Apple “start-up” sound goes off: the iPod, the iMac, the iBook, the iPhone, the iPictureFrame, the iLamp, the iMicrowave, and the iVaccuum. He reveals Apple’s newest item: the iRack.

The audience members comment:

“The iRack looks unstable!”
“The iRack looks like something we shouldn’t be involved with! It looks like you put it together with no directions.”
“The iRack looks all shaky. You are going to fix it, right?”

The actor playing Jobs responds very cleverly to each and every comment. His final response, “This is the iRack as we intended. Mission accomplished.” He proceeds to put all of the previously mentioned Apple products into the iRack, and more hilarious comments ensue. As the whole audience shouts for him to take everything out of the iRack, he puts more and more. Eventually, the iRack looks very dangerous and unstable, starting a fire and engulfing the whole place. Nobody can leave because “there is no exit strategy.”

It ends with, “I want you all to stop focusing on the iRack, and start focusing on our newest product: the iRan!” We see the image of a shoe, the start-up noise sounds, and the skit brilliantly ends.