# (2) 17 Aug 2008, 09:33PM: Make The Eagle Bigger:
You may have heard about information architect Sean Tevis running for state office in Kansas. He worked on the campaign logo himself. If you're looking for silly stories about the campaign trail, there you are.
After our oldest, first female, or first nonwhite president, maybe we'll be ready to elect a president with a deep understanding of human interface design. This "Archident" would make sure the Presidential Daily Briefings clearly highlighted imminent threats and critical information, and would give US residents single-payer healthcare just as an act of user interface mercy. Any post hoc changes to federal websites or the Congressional Record would be recorded in a Subversion-like record management system for ease in search and retrieval, and to discourage Orwellian history erasures. The State of the Union would include Steve Jobs-esque Keynote accompaniment, a far cry from Ross Perot's posterboard charts or the school-project volcano dioramas that grace the floor of the House today.
Also s/he would have a blog. And constantly be redesigning it. With a White House IT team on call 24/7. And I'd probably be the poor PM dealing with the constant random enhancement requests. So maybe we should wait on a PresIAdent.
# (2) 17 Aug 2008, 10:34PM: Commemorating The Memorable:
I wish a happy birthday weekend to my sister, who has been having multiple melas to celebrate. Nandini's birthday and that of India itself nearly coincide. Coincidence? Semantically, sorta!
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, but probably not Nandini because she will be out with friends, Nandini will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the friendship of Nandini and her people and to the still larger cause of Nandinanity.
I saw an Indian Independence Day parade today on Madison Avenue. It was so Indian that the NYPD opening of the parade (guys on horses, South Asian contingent of NYPD walking & waving) preceded the community-run floats and processions by a full ten minutes. It was so Indian that the Federation of Indian Associations of NJ and NY marchers were sort of milling around at an average speed of one foot per second, "Guest of Honor" sashes barely visible, families and Important Community Leaders blocking the visibility of the banner or keeping lagging marchers stationary in the intersection for one more photo. The one-off PVC cordon, held by leaders on either side of the FIA procession, was supposed to keep the rear at the same pace as the head. It broke.
I love my countries.
A New York City parade has marchers and floats who are in some way relevant to the day being celebrated, as well as hangers-on who get in on that parade action. Marching bands? Break dancers? Sure, why not. We cheered for politicians, Western Union, banks, temples, airlines, calling card sellers, aid organizations, satellite TV networks, and the feminist, casteless, antipoverty legacy of B.R. Ambedkar, India's Madison. The banner read "ARCHITECT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA" and listed his many degrees between two portraits of him, in a move sure to please his mother. A fellow Columbia grad!
I got a little Indian flag and waved the heck out of it. Yay for the best of India! Democracy, Gandhi, hiphop mashups, rice with buttermilk and pickled lemon, yoga, Ganesha, Buddha, Birbal, Amar Chitra Katha, the Mahabharata, Chamundi Hill in Mysore, an energetic press, infinite diversity in infinite combinations. And my family, of course.
Maybe the Pakistan Independence Day parade was in Brooklyn.
# (2) 17 Aug 2008, 10:57PM: Diary of Happy Summer Weekends:
Finished Thomas Lynch's moving, dense The Undertaking: Life Stories from the Dismal Trade and was going to recommend it to Rachel Chalmers until I saw she already loved it. Leonard summed up some of our thoughts on Anathem and I'll share more when it comes out in a few weeks. Best moment may have been on page 3 when I cried with happiness that an author I so completely trusted was about to ravish me anew. I'm currently reading the short and insightful In The Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing by Walter Murch, which among other things addresses a Leonard-Brendan conversation from five years ago.
I got a bit more How to Design Programs work in and watched a wrenching Bab5 with Leonard. Egg creams are not all that. Yay for getting to see Adi, Caroline, Evan, Stuart, and Mollie; Mirabai, get well soon!
Sometime soon I need to visit the beach, or the summer will have passed with zero real wave-entrancing. Evan took Leonard & me west of the Westside Highway and we just gaped at seeing a single powerful wave cross from New Jersey towards us. Leonard, are you thinking of writing up some of our boat-related conversation with Evan?
Adi and Caroline have me completely beat on "Indian parents aren't so hot on the kid's white significant other" stories. Falling-down laughing at these tales was even better because we got to hear them in the Shakespeare terraces of Central Park, where my wedding proceeded many seasons ago, blessed by all relevant parental units. By crazy random happenstance, the very first evening I met Adi I also met the story's antagonist.
Mollie, who works in an emergency room, informed me that around two percent of the kids she sees with really bad injuries had parents who Did Everything Right -- no neglect, no abuse, just unavoidable. As I consider possible childbearing, that's just enough to let me keep worrying. Also I just read The Undertaking.