MATTHEW CARTER, a type designer and the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, was recently approached in the street near his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A woman greeted him by name. “Have we met?” Mr Carter asked. No, she said, her daughter had pointed him out when they were driving down the street a few days before. “Is your daughter a graphic designer?” he inquired. “She’s in sixth grade,” came the reply.
Mr Carter sits near the pinnacle of an elite profession. No more than several thousand type designers ply the trade worldwide, only a few hundred earn their keep by it, and only several dozens–most of them dead–have their names on the lips of discerning aficionados. Then, there is Mr Carter. He has never sought recognition, but it found him, and his underappreciated craft, in part thanks to a “New Yorker” profile in 2005. Now, even schoolchildren (albeit discerning ones) seem to know who he is and what he does. However, the reason is probably not so much the beauty and utility of his faces, both of which are almost universally acknowledged. Rather, it is Georgia and Verdana. Mr Carter conjured up both fonts in the 1990s for Microsoft, which released them with its Internet Explorer in the late 1990s and bundled them into Windows, before disseminating them as a free download.
Tri Tang, a 25-year-old marketer, walked into a Best Buy Co. store in Sunnyvale, Calif., this past weekend and spotted the perfect gift for his girlfriend.
Last year, he might have just dropped the $184.85 Garmin global positioning system into his cart. This time, he took out his Android phone and typed the model number into an app that instantly compared the Best Buy price to those of other retailers. He found that he could get the same item on Amazon.com Inc.’s website for only $106.75, no shipping, no tax.
Mr. Tang bought the Garmin from Amazon right on the spot.
EARLY this month, a massive new railway tunnel opened for the first time. It was finished six months early and nearly 10% under budget. So by now you know this didn’t happen in America (or Britain, for that matter.) No, this feat of modern engineering (and good government) was completed in the Swedish city of Malmö, just across the Oresund bridge from Copenhagen, Denmark.
The project transformed Malmö Central Station, which is actually in the northern part of the city, from a dead end where trains had to reverse course into a through station. The former terminus is now just a stop on a large circular route that cuts underground through the center of Sweden’s third-largest city. The construction of the tunnel was accompanied by the construction of two new stations–one in the actual city centre, and another south of the city, in an area targeted for future development. Here’s a map:
Much more from Railzone.
Primary Flight is Miami’s original open air museum and street level mural installation that takes place annually throughout the Wynwood Arts District and the Miami Design District. Primary Flight is arguably the world’s largest event of its kind, having featured over 250 world class artists from around the globe since its inception, the majority of whom travel to Miami during Art Basel. Artists from all walks of contemporary art headline our annual event, collaborating on high profile walls throughout Miami’s urban landscape. Maps outlining the installation are circulated, providing patrons with an opportunity to view the works in progress.
The world of dance is very much about the unrelenting and occasionally cruel quest for perfection. I’ve worked with many dancers, and have made what I naively thought to be a worthwhile or even beautiful photograph, only to have the perfectionist inside the dancer rise up and shred it. “Ooh, no. You can’t use that, look at the position of my ring finger on my left hand!” I am only being midly facetious here. Ballet demands perfection, which of course is unattainable. Any dancer who sticks with it has heard the call to be perfect, in their head, and perhaps in their dreams. I would speculate many a little girl, as they take their first stumbles in toe shoes, has drifted to sleep with visions of being lifted into the lights before adoring thousands, and then drowning delightfully in a sea of tossed roses from a rapturously applauding audience.
More often, though, the call to perfection is more of a bark, harsh and unforgiving, from a dance master or mistress, or a choreographer, who, understandably driven by their own sense of discipline and vision, pushes the dancer to that point where the laws of gravity simply fall away. As Balanchine once said, “Dance is music made visible.” That’s hard to do. I was blessed to work briefly for ABT and made this picture of the magnificent Marcelo Gomes and Julie Kent, who together and apart, are the epitome of grace and elegant lines. As they took this position, I was stupefied at the exacting nature of the choreographer, and the giving nature of the dancers, striving to bend their bodies to his will.
Google is investing in a start-up that hopes to shake up the vehicle rental industry and change the way people view their cars.
RelayRides.com, which launches in San Francisco on Tuesday after a successful pilot programme in Boston, says it is the world’s first operational peer-to-peer car-sharing service.
The Series A round announced with Google Ventures and Valley VC firm August Capital on Tuesday is expected to help it to $5m in total funding to date.
Herat, in western Afghanistan, is one destination in that tragic country that is still safe, or relatively so. It is one of the most spectacular cities in the entire region and, for a brief period after the death of Timur in 1405, was the capital of the Timurid empire. Here Bihzad illuminated his miniatures; Babur wrote some of the most telling passages in his memoirs; and the Timurid princess Gohar Shad built one of the great colleges of the world. Today there are occasional reports of kidnappings and hold-ups between the airport and the town. But inside the city, there is no sense of tension or danger, and no one looks at you askance as you wander through the mosques, the ruins and the fabulous covered bazaars.
Instead, it feels welcoming, gently prosperous and, by Central Asian standards, surprisingly middle class. On the outskirts, on the hillside of Takht Safar, where the bright young things of Herat gather to watch the sun going down, to picnic, sip tea and listen to music under groves of cedars, mulberries and umbrella pines, you can grasp what Afghanistan would be like if peace were miraculously to break out: it feels not dissimilar, and no more threatening, than inland Turkey. In some ways, Herat feels as if it is high on the Anatolian plateau not far from Ankara; but here, you have the place, and the ruins, to yourself. There is not another traveller to be seen.
When Robert Byron was here in the 1930s he loved not just the grand ruins but also the eccentricity of Herat, and much of that still survives. When our plane touched down on the tarmac, the passengers were not taken into the old 1950s terminal, as the man who had the key had gone off for noon prayers. So, instead, our luggage was delivered by tractor, and dumped on the edge of the apron. It seemed an unsurprising fate for bags carried by an airline, Pamir Air, which at check-in had given me a boarding pass marked “Kabul-Riyadh” and when I pointed out that I was going to Herat, replied that it didn’t matter: “They’ll let you on the plane anyway.”
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and I conducted the interview. We’ve been long-time critics of the TSA’s strategy and tactics, and we wanted to hear “the other side” from the person in charge. Jeff Goldberg gives a brief intro to the interview here, and I do here.
I think Pistole’s comments as a whole are illuminating for one main reason: they show that he has at least thought about the major lines of criticism of what the TSA is and does. That sounds like nothing, but it’s significant in itself, since over the years so much of the “explanation” emanating from the national-security state has boiled down to “we can’t tell you” or “because we say so.” (Is that unfair? Think of the “Oh, this is crucial to our safety” rationalizations given for the idiotic “Threat Level is Orange” announcements, until all of a sudden color-coded threat alerts were dropped last month. Or the insistence that air safety would be imperiled unless uniformed pilots went through exactly the same security procedures as everyone else — until last month that rule changed too.) At no point in our discussion did Pistole seem defensive or insistent on a straight party line — think of the typical White House briefer fending off journalists if you want an idea of how he did not seem — and he gave evidence of having actually thought about most of the issues we raised.
The great and the good who sit on the board of San Francisco’s prestigious Asian Art Museum are grappling with problems that run deeper than reviving recession-hit visitor numbers or repairing a dented endowment fund.
A financial derivative gone bad is threatening to become the last straw that tips the museum into bankruptcy – unless a stand-off involving the city and two prominent US financial institutions can be resolved within the next two weeks.
The museum’s problems have touched off a war of words in recent days. Dennis Herrera, San Francisco’s city attorney, fired off letters last week to JPMorgan Chase and bond insurer MBIA, accusing them of taking millions of dollars in fees from the city while washing their hands of the problems to which they have contributed.
“The city’s involvement is not just for the city attorney to write a letter and say it’s everyone else’s problem,” retorted Mitchell Sonkin, chief portfolio officer at MBIA. The city itself had short-changed the museum in recent years, forcing it to draw more heavily on its endowment, and should take part in a rescue.