Eugenics- It’s too broad and prickly a subject to tackle in any meaningful way in the short strokes of a blog post frankly. Debatable issues, movements, historical consequences, ethical quandaries, scientific disciplines, philosophical attitudes all stem from or tangle with it like branches of a gnarled millennia old tree. One thing I can say for certain is that as with all Ideologies seeking to convert themselves into some dispassionate, quantifiable (and hence reputable) Science, Eugenics relied heavily on statistics. It follows that, as with all such endeavors, one of the chief concerns was how best to present said statistics in an affecting way. The Eugenics movement, being focussed as it was on issues of race, class, breeding, and illness (all sources of viscerally opinionated reaction in the annals of human discourse) was able to produce some doozies.

Boom Computing

He kept his homemade, oversized, “nuclear weapon effects computer” in a room packed floor to ceiling with puzzles. To me, smugly distanced from the fearful zeitgeist of the atomic age (and its pragmatic preparations) this choice seems perfectly fitting. I can think of none better in fact. Circular slide rules manufactured to calculate the various effects and time lengths of a post nuclear landscape were once fairly common items. If you handed me one today and expected an important calculation in return you might as well hand me a icosahedron-shaped rubik’s and expect in return a nice slice of strawberry pie.


Came across this hypnotic video of master hand engraver Steve Lindsay completing an engraving from start to finish. It’s pretty amazing. As a designer (with the prerequisite appreciation of typography) watching someone carve perfect, beautiful letter forms from metal, and so handily, is both humbling and fun. As a (lapsed) painter I can certainly appreciate the brute hand-skill involved. Beyond that there is a definite Zen quality inherent, I’d say, to any work which denies the luxury of an eraser or undo button. Pour yourself a glass of something (the vid is accompanied by an urbane soundtrack of classical and jazz) and enjoy.

For more videos, images, and information on hand engraving see the following:
Engraving, Lindsay, and Master

08.25. filed under: art. design. people.

Polynesian Stick Charts

The Polynesians, scattered as they were over 1,000 islands across the central and southern Pacific Ocean, were master navigators who tracked their way over a huge expanses of ocean without any of the complex mechanical aids we associate with sea fairing. They didn’t have the astrolabe or the sextant, the compass or the chronometer. They did however have aids of a sort, which though seemingly humble, were in fact the repositories of an extremely complex kind of knowledge. Called Rebbelibs, Medos. and Mattangs, today we call them simply “Stick Charts.”

08.23. filed under: design. history. science. 8

Beautiful Specimens

Wikipedia tells us: “A microscope slide was originally a ‘slider’ made of ivory or bone, containing specimens held between disks of transparent mica. These were popular in Victorian England until the Royal Microscopical Society introduced the standardized microscope slide in the form of a thin sheet of glass used to hold objects for examination under a microscope.”

I’d like to add the following: Antique microscope slides, looked at from a strictly aesthetic standpoint (egged on by a design obsessed brain obviously) are some of the most elegant and perfectly beautiful human artifacts on planet earth. You can quote me on that. See below for irrefutable scientific aesthetic evidence.

08.19. filed under: art. design. science. 8

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