An apocalypse with cherry blossoms

This charming video about a fed-up celebrity makes obvious nods to Akira (and probably a bunch of other pop-cultural references I don't get). If you don't mind the unnecessary butt-waggle moment, it's probably the nicest cartoon about a young woman destroying (or saving?) a city you'll see all day.

Living off the fat of the landscaping

This is immensely appealing to me: a project known as raubdruckerin has guerrilla printmakers "us[ing] urban structures like manhole covers, grids, technical objects and other surfaces of the urban landscape, to create unique graphical patterns" on t-shirts, tote bags, and other consumables. The resulting products are unique to the environments that produced them, authentic in a way that's difficult to replicate in our age of simulation. And I'm intrigued by the idea of guerrilla printmakers fanning out across the cites of the world, inking up manhole covers and other bas-relief public works surfaces to produce t-shirts. Every product is unique, the work of an individual in a specific location. They honor unique design in urban infrastructure, the importance of place, and have that time-honored coolness of marginal illegality. 

I can't draw

OK, I'll bite. The SketchAR app provides a framework in which you can "learn" to draw - or at least trace a sketched-out version of one of your photos using a VR interface. It's a great idea, and I'm going to try it, as soon as I figure out how to hold the phone and the paper and the charcoal at the same time, while looking both at the phone and the paper. 

Jane has been gone a year

A year ago, Jane Dog died. When we brought her body out of the house, a breeze twisted the branches of the cherry tree, and the flowers flew apart and swirled in a delicate pink rain around us. It was cruelly cinematic. This year, when I saw the buds forming on the tips of the branches, I thought: uh oh, here it comes. Here comes that horrible beauty.

I don't mean to be maudlin. I know it might come across as excessive. Some of you may not like dogs - I get that. Or you think it's a little dramatic to make a big deal about a dog dying while people die every day. I know. I see them die all the time. And I witness the ferocious grief of family members left behind. It's not the same, I guess.

Maybe some of you are like me in this regard: I like people, but they exhaust me. What a dog asks of you is so different, so finely shaped by our co-evolution, that it never feels draining. Jane was, in every sense of the word, my friend. Not in a qualified "man's best friend" sense, but the kind of friendship I struggle to achieve with people.. I don't believe creatures have to be the same species to be friends. They don't need to share an elaborate language. They just need to perceive and respond to something essential in each other.

Since Jane died, we've fostered a lot of dogs. Always in my mind is the possibility that one might stick around and join our household. We might experience "foster failure" and realize that we can't part with our temporary visitor. But one by one, we find good homes for our dogs, wave goodbye and move on to the next one. I asked my wife recently if she thought we would ever get another dog. I really miss my friend. She thinks we will, but we'll have to accept imperfection at first. Friendship grows from shared experiences, from time and presence and acceptance. 

Maybe my memory of those cherry blossoms - of saying goodbye - is still so fresh in my mind that I can't get past it. Jane wasn't perfect, after all. She was what we euphemistically described as a "work in progress" or a "project," a dog with issues that we worked on her entire life. Watching her learn to trust people was one of the things that most endeared her to me. Time, presence, acceptance, love. 

Meanwhile, this little guy is living with us. Soon we'll be adopting him out, too. He's sweet, a little wild, a trickster. A wonderful dog, for someone else.


Casualties of the war on drugs

WNYC's On the Media is doing some of the best journalism out there - even though their beat is ostensibly limited to the media itself. The program's strength - other than a no-bullshit approach that doesn't give the time of day to flatulent spin or shameless distortion of fact - is to use the the American media's coverage of an issue as a flawed lens through which we might get a better view, if we can correct the distortion in the glass.

This program on the so-called war on drugs starts off by debunking a list of popular media tropes. It's interesting stuff, but it was part 2 that really got my attention, starting around 14:18. It's about how drug abuse was once seen primarily as a medical issue, and that when it was recast as a criminal matter, enforcement was usually done for the benefit of some people and the detriment of others.

It wasn't until I listened to this program that I really questioned why drug use is considered a legal issue at all, and not exclusively a medical matter. Certainly, there are aspects of drug policy that are best handled by enforcement, but at the level of the individual, why does addiction lead to a jail cell more often than treatment? One of the experts interviewed in the show points out that we would not ask a doctor to run a police precinct, yet law enforcement specialists routinely determine the fate of people addicted to powerful drugs.