Entries for July 2006

July 31, 2006

60 Seconds in the Life of Clouds

Part 15 in an ongoing series of (approximately) 60 second films.



Idea: Wear your DNA on your sleeve

DNA ShirtThe other day I thought I saw someone wearing a shirt with a DNA pattern. When I got closer, I realized that the shirt just had little drawings of trees all over it. But then I got to thinking, why not? These days it’s not too expensive to get your “DNA fingerprint” made, right? Several companies, like DNA Artistry and DNA11 will already create custom artwork from your DNA, so why not take the technology in a different direction and make shirts? Having a pattern created from your DNA should be a simple step.

Okay, it might end up being an expensive shirt, but look at that pattern. It’s futuristic, yet retro. It’s 1970s meets 2070. It’s pret-a-port√© meets your DNA. And they make perfect gifts. Nothing says “I love you” better than your DNA on your loved one’s clothes, right?

Previously: Pre-pixelated clothes for Reality TV

July 27, 2006

A parallel istaverse

If you live in a major city anywhere in the world, there’s a good chance that there’s an “-ist” website covering your town. Beginning with Gothamist, covering New York City, the “istaverse” as they call it extends to Los Angeles, London, Shanghai, and beyond.

Gothamist logoEach “-ist” website has its own cute logo following the same theme: a few sillhouettes of buildings, other architecture or landmarks, followed by “citynameist.” Each one also features a different colorful background. The original Gothamist logo, above, was designed by Sam Park, of Tiny Factory.

So I got to thinking. What if the “istaverse” people existed in fictional cities? I’m sure they would write about the new Starbucks being built in that up-and-coming neighborhood in Townsville, or some event being put on by that funky art collective in downtown Delta City. And I’m sure Bedrockist.com is where the Flintstones would point their, um, rockputer to see what the mayor said in his latest news conference about all those layoffs at the quarry.

But what would the website logos look like? I imagine they’d look something like this:

Bedrock

Busytown

Delta City

Halloweentown

Hill Valley

The Island

Lilliput

Orbit City

SimCity

Townsville

The Village

Bonus: There are two more that I didn’t think worked quite as well as those above, so I didn’t include them in the list. But you can click to see them anyway: Bonus 1 and Bonus 2

Update: Other -ists that I considered but rejected, partly because I couldn’t really think of any architectural icons to go with them at 2:00 this morning when I wrote this piece included Pleasantvilleist, Mayberryist, Funkytownist, Bumfuckist (oh, crap, I totally forgot — I was going to do a broken-down shack and some tumbleweeds for this one; oh well), CrystalLakeist, Dogpatchist, Grover’sCornersist, TwilightZoneist, and a few others. Was there a name for the town where the Smurfs lived?

Update: I just added Lilliput. I couldn’t resist.

July 25, 2006

Animated Manhattan: An American Tail

Part 11 in an ongoing series looking at New York City in animation.

Don Bluth’s 1986 movie An American Tail tells the story of the Mousekewitz family’s immigration to America through New York City in 1886. Along the way, their son Fievel gets separated from the rest of the family. He spends the rest of the movie wandering through 1886 New York trying to find them. Oh, and did I mention that this is a family of mice?

American TailWhen the family comes to America, they go through Castle Garden, pictured at right, which was the immigrant processing station at the time. Ellis Island wouldn’t open for a few more years. Today, Castle Garden is known as Castle Clinton, and it still stands in Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan.

But while Fievel’s family go through Castle Garden, Fievel lands at the still-under-construction Statue of Liberty. That’s where he meets Henri the pigeon, who designed the statue and hopes to finish building it before the movie ends.

American Tail American Tail

Feivel spends the next hour wandering around the lower east side. He hangs out on Hester Street, gets conned by a rat (you gotta watch out for those rats), makes friends with some other mice, almost gets run over by the 2nd Avenue El, and participates in an attempt to rid New York City of cats. All while searching for his family.

American Tail American Tail
American Tail American Tail

Most of New York City in the background is kind of generic. There’s not much by way of recognizable landmarks. Of course, so much of Manhattan has changed that it would be hard to find anything recognizable anyway. But I did find this one nice detail. The full frame is on the left, with a close up on the right:

American Tail American Tail

That’s a menu from Delmonico’s in the background. Delmonico’s was the first restaurant in the United States, where Eggs Benedict and Chicken √† la King were invented.

American TailIf you don’t already know, you won’t be surprised to learn that Fievel does indeed find his family at the end of the movie. This happens to coincide with Henri’s completion of the Statue of Liberty. So he picks up Fievel and his sister and flies them around for an aerial view.

American Tail American Tail

That last shot of the Statue could never happen in real life, because the Statue faces East in reality. In the picture, she faces South.

American TailThe closing credits of An American Tail have orange-tinted pictures of old New York City in the background, with the credits over them. I was immediately reminded of Fritz the Cat, the first movie I viewed in this series, which also utilized orange-tinted views of old New York City in the closing credits.

This sickly-sweet movie wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it was when I was a kid. But it’s nice to see a historic version of New York City depicted in animation.

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10
BCDb Rating: N/A
My Rating: 7.5/10

(My rating is for the series’ depiction of NYC only)

July 24, 2006

Turn of the century racist jokebooks

Ventriloquism bookMy friend and fellow photographer Brian Berman has been working on a series of portraits at off-beat conventions around the country. He recently came back from the Vent Haven Ventriloquists Convention where he purchased this book from 1902, Callahan’s Easy Method for Learning Ventriloquism Quickly.

I wasn’t really too surprised by the racist depiction of the ventriloquist’s dummy on the cover, but I was surprised when I turned the book over and saw the advertisements on the back cover. The publisher, Wehman Brothers, featured a selection of racist joke books, available from their store in lower Manhattan. Some of the books are tame titles like Choice Riddles but then there are titles like Coon Jokes and Hebrew Jokes that would never fly today.

Racist Jokebooks
Racist Jokebooks

Big Boggle box bears best board

Boggle BoxI’m really into Boggle these days. And I don’t mean that wussy 4x4 Boggle. No, I’m talkin’ about 5x5 Big Boggle. I know there are several on-line versions available, but nothing beats the fun of playing real people face-to-face, and the shake-shake sound of the cubes in the Boggle board. So I’ve been playing the real world game, and that’s when I noticed the Big Boggle game in progress on the Big Boggle box.

I think that must be the best Big Boggle tray ever. How carefully did they have to plan it? It’s hard to believe such a great tray is even possible by chance alone. There must be tons of great words on that tray. Take a look and see how many you can find. Remember: This isn’t the wussy edition, so to make things extra tough we’re not only disallowing 3 letter words, but 4 letter words as well.

So how many 5-letter or longer words can you find? For an added challenge, limit yourself to just 3 minutes.

I’ll start things off: PREDATING, STEAMERS, BEIGNETS…

Big Boggle box detail

And no fair using a computer program to figure it out. Just use your brain.

July 23, 2006

Green means stop. Red means go.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I find the website Rotten Tomatoes to be counterintuitive. Now don’t get me wrong, I find the site quite useful. I’m not highly critical of it in general. But this one thing throws me off every time.

At Rotten Tomatoes, they collect movie reviews from across the internet, and use them to give movies a rating of either “fresh” or “rotten.” But every time I visit the site, I have to retrain my brain to use it properly.

Fresh Tomato If a reviewer likes a particular movie, you see a brief quote from the review along with a picture of a fresh tomato. That’s right, there’s a big red circle, like say a stop sign or stop light, next to reviews that like the movie.

Rotten Tomato If a reviewer doesn’t like a movie, you see a small quote from the review along with a picture of a splattered rotten tomato. So there is a big green asterisk-like star next to reviews that didn’t like the movie.

So red circle means “Good movie” and green star means “Bad movie.”

Okay, it’s not that big a deal, true. But every time I visit, I get thrown off by this.

July 19, 2006

Idea: A “Critical Thinking” section on the SAT

The College Board, which administers the SAT test, periodically makes changes to the SAT format. Most recently, they eliminated the analogies section and added an essay section. Well, I have an idea for a change that I’m very excited about. It would have profound implications, I think, if the College Board added a “Critical Thinking” section to the SAT.

Critical Thinking skills are among the most important skills a person can have, but they aren’t taught very much in school. I’ve racked my brain trying to think how Critical Thinking could be made more important to students and educators. Making it an SAT category would go a long way.

Every university would want students that score high in that section. And it would fit perfectly in test prep courses, too, because the types of questions on the test would be easy to study for. Just learn the basic forms of valid arguments and common fallacies, and learn to identify them in context. And as an added bonus, if you study well enough to answer the Critical Thinking questions on the test, you can apply Critical Thinking to real life, too.

I’ve come up with a few examples to illustrate how I imagine the section. Different kinds of questions would test a student’s knowledge of basic argument and fallacy forms, and their ability to identify them. I’m not a test writer, and I’ve never taught Critical Thinking, so there may be problems with these examples from either perspective, but this is the basic idea:

1) If Tom is a cat, he is a mammal. Tom is a cat. Therefore, Tom is a mammal.

This statement follows the argument form:

a) modus ponens
b) modus tollens
c) straw man
d) begging the question
e) none of the above

2) In a double-blind study of 2000 men, 60% found Brand X medicine effective in alleviating their headaches.

This statement shows:

a) Brand X is effective because a majority of men’s headaches were alleviated when they used it.
b) Brand X is ineffective because 2000 people are not statistically significant
c) Brand X is effective because double-blind studies are always accurate
d) Brand X is ineffective because only men were tested
e) There is not enough information to know whether Brand X is effective

3) On the planet Syllo, there are Frebats and Lidgemonts. It is well known on Syllo that all Frebats are Twacklers. Betty lives on Syllo. Betty is a Twackler. Therefore, Betty is a Frebat.

The conclusion “Therefore, Betty is a Frebat” is logically sound.

a) True
b) False

4) The “false dilemma” fallacy is sometimes called:

a) the black or white fallacy
b) the bifurcation fallacy
c) the false dichotomy fallacy
d) all of the above
e) none of the above

July 18, 2006

How one man sent one e-mail and took down my entire website. And he didn’t even know it.

[Note: In the following bit-too-long rant, some information has been changed to protect identities. But the name of my no-good, awful, deceitful former web host Doteasy has been left completely intact. Avoid them at all costs.]

On June 23, I spent the day flying back to New York from a business trip in Los Angeles. Adam Sandler’s movie Click opened that day, and lots of websites were linking to an article I wrote about the movie’s overused plot device. It was a higher than usual traffic day for Ironic Sans. When I boarded my plane, web traffic was high.

I arrived home after midnight. I was exhausted. I just wanted to follow up on a few e-mails, see where my traffic plateaued for the day, and go to bed. So you can imagine my state of mind when I checked my e-mail and found this from my web host:

Hello David,

We have received spam complaints regarding your website. Please note that the use of spam, sent from our email servers or to promote a website hosted on our service, is prohibited by our service policy and we strictly enforce a zero tolerance for spam.

Our Service Terms and Conditions document may be viewed at the following URL:

http://www.doteasy.com/Terms/index.cfm?T=TAC

Due to the proliferation of SPAM abuse, we have no choice but to suspend your account from the Doteasy service due to a violation of the terms and conditions of the service. If your domain is registered through Doteasy, you may login to the Member Zone control panel to change your web host once you have found a new service provider.

Regards,

Miguel
Doteasy Customer Service

[ Offending message ]
Return-Path:
From: “TD”
To: [x]
Subject: Latest must-have fashion statement
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 20:47:04 -0400
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain;
charset=”us-ascii”
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook, Build 11.0.5510

http://www.ironicsans.com/2006/03/
idea_prepixelated_clothes_for_1.html

I was shocked. I hate spam. I wouldn’t send spam. I find spammers to be among the lowest forms of life. I have never sent a single mass e-mail about anything related to this website or pretty much anything else for that matter. No chain letters, no jokes, no urban legends, nothing. This did not come from me. This was some sort of misunderstanding. Looking at the “Offending Message” I could clearly see that it was not an e-mail I ever sent to anyone. For one thing, the header information says it was sent with Outlook. I don’t use Outlook. I do sell t-shirts on my site, but that’s meant to be funny more than anything else. It’s not the purpose of my site. If it makes a few dollars, that’s great, but this site isn’t a money making enterprise. I don’t sell Viagra, or Rolex replicas, or have any Nigerian money to offer. Even a glance at my site should have made that obvious.

There was a misunderstanding here somewhere. But their e-mail suggests they’ve already shut me down! Was it too late to do something?

I immediately sent the following reply:

I just received notice from you guys saying that I was reported for sending spam, and that this will affect my hosting service. The message I received quoted an e-mail supposedly sent by me. It has the subject “Latest must-have fashion statement” and links to one of my pages where I do indeed sell a t-shirt.

I have NEVER sent that e-mail, nor authorized anybody to send it on my behalf, nor ever asked anyone to do any such thing. And I will swear to that in whatever court you want. This is the first time I’ve heard or seen it. I’m as interested in you are in finding out where it came from, and will cooperate in whatever way you want. Is there header information that indicates anything useful? I normally use Time Warner Cable in NYC as my outgoing email host, and I have a gmail account I use also.

How many complaints have you received? I hope this is an overzealous fan of my site who sent an e-mail to a few friends, and not a widespread problem.

I will immediately post a message on my blog asking people not to do this. What more can I do?

I request that you not terminate my account, as I have most definitely NOT violated any terms and conditions.

What more can I do? Please advise.

I know, I know. That’s exactly what a spammer would say. “It wasn’t my IP address! It wasn’t my e-mail account!” Whatever I could say, a spammer would say, too. I was being screwed by a zero-tolerance spam policy for something I had nothing to do with, and had no knowledge of.

I then posted a quick message on my blog that said something to the effect of, “PLEASE DO NOT SEND SPAM ON MY BEHALF!” and explained why. But it was already too late. I could still access my site via http, but couldn’t get through on the ftp server. And when I checked the rest of my e-mail, I noticed someone had written to me complaining that they couldn’t reach my site anymore. The shutdown was already underway. Propagation had begun.

Around now you’re wondering why I didn’t just pick up the phone and call my web host’s 24-hour customer service line to explain everything. Well, they don’t have one. And they take at least 24 hours to reply to e-mails. Why was I with them to begin with?

I already knew that Doteasy wasn’t the best web host around. But I started using them years and years ago to host my photography website when I thought they were a pretty good deal. They’re free for the most basic hosting package, which was all I needed at the time. So when I needed a better hosting package, I just stayed with them out of habit and comfort, upgrading instead of switching to a better web host. I didn’t think I needed the immediacy of phone support. Until now.

Exhausted, I spent the next hour making sure I had everything backed up in case I lost my site forever. Once I was sure it was all safe, I finally went to bed. I woke up the next morning, and the website was gone. No Ironic Sans. No nothing. Just a generic Doteasy placeholder page.

So I took their advice and found myself a new web host. A few other photographers I know are using Media Temple as their web host, and while I’m sure other people can offer other suggestions, the 24/7 phone support of Media Temple was a good enough selling point for me. I immediately signed up (very quick and easy) and spent the rest of the day reinstalling Movable Type and restoring everything as best as I could. And at one point when I hit a stumbling block, I picked up the phone and called Media Temple. In less than two minutes I was talking to a real live person who was very friendly and helpful.

Then I logged back in to Doteasy, where my domain was still registered, and switched the Domain Name Server information to my new web host, making a mental note to move my domain registration away from Doteasy as soon as possible. By the end of the day, Ironic Sans was back on-line. The new DNS information was beginning to propagate. All I could do now was wait.

In the meantime, I took another look at that “Offending message.” It didn’t make sense. Why would someone send spam on my behalf? What benefit would there be? I examined the e-mail header. The “To:” information had been blocked out, but the “From:” address was still there. Since Doteasy thought I sent it, there was no need to hide it from me. So I did a Google search on the e-mail address and found a name to go with it: Tom Dalton (not his real name). Even better, I found a phone number. I called it. I got his voicemail. It was his office number, and he would be away until Tuesday. I’d have to call him back. Is it possible that this was just one person who sent one e-mail to a friend, and that person thought it came from me? Could it really be that simple?

By now my Saturday was gone. It wasn’t how I wanted to spend my first day back in town, but Doteasy made it a necessity. Whatever. Screw them. I was done with Doteasy. Or so I thought.

On Monday, I received the following e-mail:

Hello David,

Thank you for your response.

As an internet service provide [sic], we have the obligation to respond and take action on such reports. If we do not respond to such reports, our mail server IP address can get Blacklisted. This will affect everyone on that server plus servers on the same IP Sub-Block.

It is clearly stated that we strictly enforces a zero-spam tolerance policy:
http://www.doteasy.com/Terms/index.cfm?
T=TAC&bodyClass=pageCenter#13

Normally the account will stay suspended but since we have received a positive reply that this will not happen again, we offer you the opportunity to re-activate your account. We have re-activated your account, please allow 24 hours for your account to be fully functional.

Once your account is fully functional, please do as you have said about posting a message in your forum.

Regards,

Miguel
Doteasy Customer Service

Too little, too late, Miguel. I replied:

Because of the extreme unhappiness I have with Doteasy’s handling of this situation, compounded by the fact that there is no phone support and therefore no way for my to even discuss this situation with Doteasy, I am leaving Doteasy as a customer, and have already transferred my web hosting to another company. So there is no need to reinstate my account… [T]his would amount to a total of four days of downtime for nothing I did, and with no way to reach you in a timely manner. That is completely unacceptable.

I would appreciate a cancellation of my web hosting at ironicsans.com and refund for the remainder of my prepaid year of hosting ironicsans.com with Doteasy. I am not at all at fault in this situation, so a refund is the only appropriate way to make it up to me.

Please advise when I can expect a refund for the remainder of my prepaid hosting. Thank you.

On Tuesday, I left town again on business, but had some time to make a phone call while I was at the airport. I dialed Tom Dalton’s phone number. The conversation went something like this:

“Tom Dalton?”

“Yes?”

“Hi. My name’s David. You don’t know me, and I’m sorry for bothering you at work, but I think you may be able to help me solve a mystery.”

“Um…”

“Did you visit a website called Ironic Sans in the last few weeks?”

“Yes.”

“That’s my site. Did you see the post about the pixelated t-shirts?”

“Yes.”

“Did you happen to e-mail anyone about them?”

“Well yes, actually. I did.”

“I thought you might have. You’ll never believe what happened.”

I told him the story. He confirmed that he sent the e-mail to 7 or 8 people. One of them must have thought it was spam and reported it to Doteasy, thinking they were doing the right thing. I fell victim to Doteasy’s zero tolerance policy because someone thought they were doing the right thing. Tom was friendly and apologetic. He couldn’t guess which person might have reported me. I asked him to inquire, as I’d be interested in talking to whoever it was. How could they not notice the “From” address? What’s it like to actually report spam and have a successful outcome (from their perspective anyway)? Are they in the habit of reporting spammers? I wasn’t angry as much as I was curious. I haven’t heard from Tom, or whichever of his friends reported the “spam,” since then.

Unfortunately, the story didn’t end there.

Days went by. I couldn’t give this any more attention because I was busy with work projects. As soon as I could, I transferred my other sites away from Doteasy. But I still had to switch Ironic Sans to a new registrar. I know a lot of people don’t like Network Solutions, but since my photography domain is already registered with them, I decided to move ironicsans.com over there, too. Maybe I’ll move it somewhere else eventually. But for now I just wanted to be away from Doteasy.

So I logged into my Network Solutions account and began the process of transferring ironicsans.com from Doteasy. I received this reply from Network Solutions:

**IMPORTANT: One or more of the domain name registration(s) is in lock-status with your current Registrar. Please contact your current Registrar to unlock the domain. Once this domain is off of “lock-status,” please follow the instructions in the authorization e-mail to ensure our ability to process this transfer request.

Lock status? Doteasy offers lock-status protection, but they charge extra money for that. I never paid for that, never wanted that, and I just want to get my damn domain away from them! Why is it in lock status? Did those bastards lock my domain so I can’t escape them? I logged into their Control Panel, where a person who pays for the service is able to lock or unlock the domain at will, but the only option available is to lock the domain. So how the hell do I unlock it?

Meanwhile, it’s been more than a week since I last wrote to Doteasy. Then this shows up:

Hello David,

Because this account was suspended due to a violation of our terms and conditions, a refund on the unused portion of our hosting services will not be issued.

Regards,

Miguel
Doteasy Customer Service

Miguel doesn’t get it. I never violated their terms and conditions. I hate Miguel.

I wrote back:

I have contacted the person whose e-mail address appeared on the supposed SPAM that you think I sent. He said he sent that e-mail to EIGHT of his friends recommending my website. One of them must have thought it was SPAM and reported it to you. I did NOTHING in violation of your terms and conditions. This overreaction on your part is very frustrating.

But whatever. At this point I want as little to do with Doteasy as possible, so I’d like to transfer my domain to another registrar. But I see you have made unauthorized changes to my registrant information, and put my domain in “Locked” mode…

I understand why you have a strict SPAM policy. I also understand that I am screwed because of it… I now want to take my business elsewhere.

Please stop holding my domain name hostage, and allow me to transfer to a new host.

Thank you.

To this date, I haven’t heard back from Miguel.

So I started over. I opened a new customer request ticket:

I’m trying to transfer my domain away from doteasy, but the registrar I want to move to tells me my domain is in “lock” status with you guys. I don’t want to be in lock status, and never signed up for domain locking. I don’t see a way to turn off lock status myself (just plenty of places telling me that I can turn lock status ON for a fee).

Please tell me why I am in lock status, and remove the feature so I can transfer my domain away from doteasy. Thank you.

Please don’t let Miguel get it. Let it go to anybody in Customer Service but Miguel. Please not Miguel.

Finally, I heard back from “Steve.”

Hello David,

I have submitted a request on your behalf to have your domain unlocked and it should be completed shortly. Please note that if you transfer your domain name registration away from Doteasy, you may no longer be eligible for our hosting services free of charge.

Due to changes in registry transfer rules, we use domain registrar-lock to prevent unauthorized transfers and domain hijacking from occurring. This is a safety precaution we have implemented as a domain registration service provider.

Please refrain from making any DNS changes or updating any contact information as doing so will cause your domain to relock.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Regards,

Steve
Doteasy Customer Service

That’s right. They automatically lock every domain. This is a feature that they advertise all over their site as available for purchase for almost $10 per year. But if you don’t buy it, they give it to you for free anyway. That’s deceitful. If you know anyone on Doteasy that’s paying for the feature, tell them to stop.

Now, after all is said and done, I finally have moved everything away from Doteasy. They are not my host, and they are not my registrar. They have my money, and they better not charge me any hosting-renewal fees for anything they think I may have opted into when I signed up (I can see that argument coming). But the lessons I’ve learned are clear:

1) Doteasy asks you to pay for things they give you for free.

2) Doteasy has terrible customer service

3) Anyone can have any website taken down just by sending an e-mail, if it’s hosted by Doteasy

4) If you have a website hosted at Doteasy, you should leave them as soon as possible

5) Spam sucks, but zero-tolerance policies can screw the innocent

6) If you write a really long blog entry, you shouldn’t be surprised if people don’t read all the way to the end. If you made it this far, thanks for reading my rant.

Update: Having gotten strong responses from readers recommending various recourses I could take, I thought I’d try asking Doteasy for a refund one last time before I complain to the credit card company or Better Business Bureau. I sent Doteasy one last e-mail, pointing them to this blog entry, and letting them know about the thousands of people who have read it so far. I didn’t have high hopes, but I didn’t expect this, either:

Hello David,

Thank you for your email.

As per the Terms and Conditions, we strictly enforce the Zero-Spam regulation. As the reply sent to you previously on July 04, we will not be able to refund the remainder paid hosting service. We have already offerred you the exception to re-activate your account without the Spam Re-activation fee of US$25.00.

Regards,

Annie
Doteasy Customer Service
“Join the hosting revolution!”

So now I’m lucky they didn’t charge me an extra $25 on top of everything else for their own screw-up? I hate these people more and more. Grr.

I’ll update again if anything further comes of this.

July 17, 2006

The Art of 1010 WINS

1010 WINSThe radio station 1010 WINS is for New York City what CNN Headline News is for cable television. It’s just nonstop headlines, weather, and traffic, repeating every 22 minutes. Their slogan is, “You give us 22 minutes, and we’ll give you the world.” Their website, 1010WINS.com, features local headlines and news stories mixed in with syndicated newswire stories.

But for me, the real treat is the unintentional art gallery at 1010WINS.com. Sometimes, 1010 WINS uses photos from the newswire. But often, some Photoshop Whiz Kid Artist at 1010 WINS smashes together some stock photos with a Photoshop filter and makes some of the greatest image mashups on the internet.

So I now present a small gallery of artwork from 1010 WINS that I call, “You give us 22 news stories, and we’ll give you bad art.”

The Featured Exhibit

1. Peace Grannies on Trial for Times Square Protest

1010WINSThe crown jewel of the 1010 WINS Art Collection is Peace Grannies on Trial for Times Square Protest. For a story about a group of senior citizen war protesters, the artist placed a black shadow behind one of the so-called “Peace Grannies,” representing the plight of the protester during a deadly war, even while she herself is heading to her grave. The cane represents the narrow band of freedom on which we all lean, while her hat signifies oppression from above. Her coat, of course, is the cloak of dignity. A powerful image indeed.

2. Man Charged with Having Crack in Sundae

1010WINSIt’s a classic struggle for every artist. How do you illustrate a news story about a man caught smuggling two rocks of crack cocaine in an ice cream dessert? Well, the artist at 1010 WINS found a creative way to solve that problem, using photos of crack cocaine and an ice cream sundae. By superimposing them both on a pile of powdered substance — representing both the popular drug and the sweet sugar used in making delicious desserts — he unifies the images thematically, while the black background represents the health problems implicit in too much of either substance.

3. Forecast Predicts Another Rough Hurricane Season

1010WINSThe influence of conceptual artist Barbara Kruger is obvious in this piece, which uses imagery and words in montage. When the AccuWeather Hurricane Center predicted a strong hurricane season, the 1010 WINS artist chose to ironically juxtapose two simple sandbags hurricane warning flags with the power of one giant hurricane, representing the futility of man against nature. The disproportionate scale of the flags represent mankind’s desire to hold back the winds, even as they overtake us. The label “2006 Hurricane Season” acts as a forecast, but may in the future be seen as an accurate description of what the image depicts.

4. Final Moments on Tape. Family Hears WTC Call

1010WINSNearly five years after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, audio tapes were released featuring conversations between 911 operators and people trapped in the World Trade Center. For the event, the 1010 WINS artist created this commemorative work. On the day the tapes were released, a cell phone was so clearly important — a modern technological luxury but also an icon of this day in history — that it seemed like an object as large as the towers themselves. Or perhaps slightly larger, in black and white, looking a bit like it was photocopied and then faxed a few times before being scanned in for a montage.

5. Rockland County Joins Gas Sales Tax Capping

1010WINSThe ashy, veiny hand reaches out, gas pump nozzle in hand, a stream of “S”es pouring forth from its spout like precious drops of gasoline. Together, the hand and pump give off an eerie glow as Honest Abe looks onward, his gaze obstructed by an exaggerated dot screen. George Washington is barely visible, shrouded by an orange shadow of depression. The message is clear: Rockland County joins gas sales tax capping.

The Extended Gallery

6. Fatal Shooting in Brooklyn

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7. Murders on the Rise in NYC

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8. Untitled

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9. Westchester Law Locks Down Wireless Networks

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10. Jury — Merk Liable for Vioxx Users Heart Attack

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11. Subway Stabbing in Brooklyn

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12. NJ University Drops SAT Scores, Gains Applicants

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13. Conn. Officials - Lyme Disease up 26 Percent

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14 & 15. The “Police Line” Diptych.

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Individually titled, “1 Killed, 4 Injured, in Parkway Crash (Blue)” and “5 People Struck in Hit and Run (Red).”

16. FBI Commish Orders Review of 911 Tapes

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17. Strong Earthquake Strikes Central Indonesia

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18. Quick Thinking Student Saves Teacher with CPR

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19. Rockland County Woman Arrested for ID Theft

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20. Fatal Car Crash in Brooklyn

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21. NYC HDC Earmarks $179m for Apt’s

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22. Study - Less Time, Passengers Reduce Teen Crashes

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July 11, 2006

Idea: A new slogan for New Jersey

Have you heard about all the problems New Jersey has been having coming up with a motto to attract tourists?

New Jersey mottoFirst, the state paid $260,000 to a consulting firm to come up with a slogan. They came up with, “New Jersey. We’ll win you over.” It was quickly rejected. Then the state held a contest to come up with a new slogan. The big winner was “New Jersey. Come see for yourself” submitted by Jeffrey Antman of Passaic, New Jersey. Well, a couple months ago they scrapped that one too after realizing that other states have used it in the past.

The consulting firm was on the right track in recognizing that many potential tourists have a negative view of New Jersey, and a good slogan could help people get over that hump. But “We’ll win you over” doesn’t convey that there’s anything good about the state. It almost reinforces the idea that it’s overrun by mobsters who will get you to like the state one way or another.

So I’ve come up with a slogan for New Jersey that I think captures the spirit of the state, and may entice people to visit who wouldn’t consider it otherwise. Imagine a whole campaign showing the lush vegetation, beaches, concerts, quaint little towns, and, well, whatever else they have there across the Hudson. And the slogan reads:

“New Jersey. It’s not what you expect from New Jersey.”

You like that one, New Jersey? Okay, so maybe off the bat you think it’s not positive enough. Now imagine it said in a really upbeat tone by someone like George Clooney. You like it now, huh? Well, you can have it for the low price of only $25,000. And I guarantee that no other state has used it.

July 6, 2006

Terrorism makes this ad special

IBM WTC adAm I the only person who looks at this IBM ad and sees a depiction of the World Trade Center after the first tower was hit on the morning of September 11, 2001? This explosive image that I guess is supposed to express creativity or something looks to me more like smoke and flames rising from the tower, just moments before the second tower was struck.

Is it as blatantly obvious as I think it is? Or is it just that I made the association because I saw this ad displayed poster-size and back-lit at my departing gate at the airport?

Update: Wow. Judging by the almost 50 comments so far today, I guess this isn’t going to go down in history as my most successful post ever. Fark.com sent lots of people my way, and some Farkers can sure be vicious in the comments (welcome to my site, Fark readers — I hope you explore the rest of it while you’re here). Just to be clear, I’m not someone who sees 9/11 imagery everywhere I look (or faces on Mars, etc). And I certainly wasn’t offended by the ad. I too am bothered by people who confuse simply being reminded of a tragedy with actually being offended by whatever triggered that memory. I just thought this particular ad looked so obviously like the twin towers to me that its placement at the airport of all places could have been thought out a bit better. But people see all sorts of things in different ways, and I guess I’m not in the majority with this one. At any rate, you can read on in the comments to see lots and lots of people who disagree with me, and a few who agree. But be warned: Some of the less mature Farkers’ responses may not be suitable for (but perhaps were written by) young children.

July 3, 2006

The Eutats of Ytrebil.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The Eutats of Ytrebil

This bus drove by me on Friday. I think it must have gotten here accidentally from some Parallel Bizarro Earth 2 on the exact opposite side of the sun from us, where everything is just slightly different from our own planet. In this parallel world, uptown means downtown, Rockefeller Plaza has a roller skating rink, the Chrysler Building is taller than the Empire State Building, taxis are purple, and — as shown on the side of this bus — the Statue of Liberty holds her torch in her left hand instead of her right. How it reached our world I’ll never know.

But it got here just in time for Independence Day. Happy Fourth of July, everyone.