debbie millman

Monday, June 30, 2008

Eye on the Universe: More Hubble Splendor

Eye on the universe

This fall, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis will pay a final visit to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). They will install new instruments enabling it to peer deeper into space than ever before, and replace aging gyroscopes and batteries to keep it running until at least 2013. For nearly two decades, the orbiting telescope has radioed back to Earth images that have altered our understanding of the universe. The Hubble helped confirm the existence of dark matter: mass that we cannot see, but which nevertheless makes its gravitational in uence visible by bending light itself. It proved the existence of black holes, previously a theoretical concept, and enabled the study of star formation and destruction—supernovae—as never before. The Hubble captured the first evidence that planet formation is common during the birth of stars, and has detected life-forming gas on extrasolar planets. It has provided dramatically improved estimates of the age of the universe, and led scientists to the inescapable conclusion that an unknown force—dark energy—is causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.

HSCA’s Peter M. Challis captured this supernova (1994D), an exploding star that detonated in the outer regions of the galaxy. “Supernovae,” says professor of physics and astronomy Christopher M. Stubbs, “are bright enough to be detected halfway across the visible universe, and serve as beacons with which we can measure the history of the expansion of the cosmos.” Hubble observations allowed astron omers to peg the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years, but its images of supernovae also drove them, reluctantly, to an astounding conclusion: the universe is expanding at an increasing rate. A force known as “dark energy,” they theorize, exerts a steady, repulsive power. In the early universe, when objects in space were closer together, gravity partly counteracted dark energy’s influence, slowing the expansion. But over time, the weakening of gravitational forces is causing the expansion to accelerate.

Hundreds more Hubble images appear at here.

From the article Eye on the Universe, in Harvard Magazine.

Friday, June 27, 2008

How Much Fun Is This?

logo smackdown!

This Company Logo Smackdown is a May issue of Fortune magazine. Click on the image, and then click on "all sizes" to see it in its full regalia.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Effects of Denial

Artist and photographer Chris Jordan shows us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like. His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics -- like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day. We use 40,000,000 cups every day, mostly for hot beverages.

He makes large-format, long-zoom artwork from the most mindblowing data about "stuff" and what we consume. His 2003-05 series Intolerable Beauty examines the hypnotic allure of it all: cliffs of baled scrap, small cities of shipping containers, endless grids of mass-produced goods. His 2005 book In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster is a chilling look at the toll of the storm. And his latest series of photographs, "Running the Numbers," gives dramatic life to statistics of US consumption. Often-heard factoids like "We use 2 million plastic bottles every 5 minutes" become a chilling, viewable reality. This past April, Jordan traveled around the world with National Geographic as an international eco-ambassador for Earth Day 2008. This is his speech from the last Ted conference.

Via my dear friend Elizabeth Boyle.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How To Make Creative Juice

In honor of George Carlin, something oddly funny.

The Brilliant George Carlin "Passes Away"

George Carlin died yesterday. The world is a much sadder place today.

In addition to some of his greatest hits below, one of my greatest friends, Emily Oberman, sent me this amazing Carlin quote, which sums up life just perfectly:

“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating...and you finish off as an orgasm.”

Some of his greatest performances:

Carlin on "Soft Language:"

Carlin on "Stuff:"

And of course, the routine that took him all the way to the Supreme Court: Carlin on "Seven Words:"

RIP George Carlin, RIP.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stewart Butterfield's Brilliant Resignation Letter

The always enlightening Grant McCracken pointed me to this brilliant resignation letter from Stewart Butterfield (co-founder of Flickr) to Brad Garlinghouse at Yahoo! (Yahoo! bought Flickr in 2005 for $35 million.) This letter is almost as good as the final episode of The Soprano's.

Stewart Butterfield's resignation

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Should Do It Now

You Should Do It Now

You Should Do It Now

Jonathan J. Gouthier, principal of the brand collective Gouthier Design, sent me this wonderful link, with the title "You Should Do It Now." Best advice I've gotten in a while.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stamp of Genius

Eames Stamps!

Charles and Ray Eames Stamps available now!

From the USPS website: Honoring the husband-and-wife design team of Charles and Ray Eames, this commemorative sheet of 16 stamps was designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, and represents the breadth of their extraordinary body of creative work, which includes architecture, furniture, film and exhibits.

And for an instantaneous reminder of their brilliance, a short film essay by Todd Oldham:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cyd Charrise 1922-2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Write Here, Write Now, And Then Some

Mrs. Eaves
Mrs. Eaves

Lou Reed, by the masterful Mr. Sagmeister
Lou Reed, by the masterful Mr. Sagmeister

Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey, from the film The Number 23

A young woman going by the joyful moniker Mrs. Eaves has created a wonderful homage to Stefan Sagmeister's treatment of Lou Reed for his album Set The Twilight Reeling. Her rendering, as well as the accompanying film, is certainly far better than the dreadful, deriviative treatment decorating Jim Carrey on the poster for his film The Number 23.

Via the always entertaining Quipsologies.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Atheist's Nightmare

Via the always brilliant Kottke.

Monday, June 09, 2008

What Is Your Definition Of Freedom?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Not The Party She Planned

the end
Doug Mills/The New York Times

Earlier today, in a crowded airport bookstore in Dallas, Texas, I watched former Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton concede to Senator Barack Obama on a hulky, flat screen TV with the sound off and the captions on. As the words slowly snaked along the bottom of the television, I noticed the sync with her voice was slightly off, giving the speech an eerily uneven timbre. With a grim sense of irony I realized this was an uncanny metaphoric coincidence, as I believe that Hillary Clinton’s inability to win the Democratic nomination was due to a profound failure in communication. She was unable to deliver a strong message until it was too late to matter; consequently she could never catch up with a competitor who, though less experienced and equally polarizing, fundamentally understood how to capture the nation’s imagination. Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the Democratic Presidential Nominee because of bad brand management.

Hillary came to the Presidential race with an odd sense of entitlement; she reeked of presumptive Democratic nominee, and this annoyed a plethora of primary voters. It seemed that once she finally made the decision to run for office, she behaved as if her decision alone was all that was necessary to win. But once Hillary threw her hat into the race, she literally threw it away. In hindsight, her presumption--her hubris--was her fatal flaw. All brand managers know there is no assumption of success when launching a new brand (even Apple’s eagerly anticipated launch of the iPhone had it’s nay-sayers and critics). It took Hillary an agonizingly long time to learn Brand Management 101: if nothing more, a brand must provide a consistent promise of a transformative experience. Yet, over the 16-month battle for leadership, she presented a myriad of messages to an ever-changing target market. She and her campaign consultants manufactured what seemed like weekly marketing platforms. They began with the inevitability of her nomination, then quickly morphed into finding her voice after she lost in Iowa and then rebounded in New Hampshire. Then they tried to compete with her long-term experience, then on to her electability via the powerful swing states, and finally, they were left to reveal what was actually authentic Hillary: a gritty, pugnacious, street smart fighter many people could relate to. As if this chaotic messaging wasn't enough, Hillary and her consultants also kept switching her “sweet spot” target market from women to students to the working middle and lower-middle class to the elderly and finally to the super-delegates. Her message and her audience changed so many times, she began to appear as if she would say anything to anyone to win. What began as a rather energetic (if over-confident) Presidential effort evolved into a scrappy, unsophisticated, embarrassing fistfight unworthy of either contender. Given her perpetually unfocused campaign management and her Zelig-like public personality, it is no wonder she ultimately lost to a well-funded campaign with a consistent message of aspiration, hope and change.

I came to the primary campaign as an “undecided;” I admired both democratic candidates. My head was with Obama, but my heart was with Hillary. I admit that most of the affection I felt for Hillary was attributed to her making history as the first significant female candidate. "So what if I don’t agree with her handling of Bill and Monica," I told myself, "She is a survivor. She can win!" But I also bristled at the idea of extending the Clinton dynasty. I was intrigued by the idea of wiping the slate of American government over the last 20 years clean and starting fresh. But I must admit that I liked Hillary just a smidgen more because we are both women. Somehow, deep down, I felt that a victory for Hillary was a victory for all women, everywhere. And though I never once uttered the words, this made me proud. It is one thing when Barbie can be an astronaut or a veterinarian or President of the United States, and quite another when a pear-shaped, middle-aged mother can do it.

I think that Hillary would have made a good President. Obviously, not everyone agrees with me. This is to be expected. But what I wasn't prepared for in the opposition of all things Hillary, was the rampant sexism. Her husband called the media coverage the “most biased coverage in history.” Her detractors pooh-poohed this as “competitive politics,” and offered witty, vitriolic one-liners in response (my favorite, the Harry Truman inspired: “if you can’t stand the heat, go back into the kitchen”). I now worry about what the next female candidate will have to overcome in order to win, to say nothing of what she will be subjected to when campaigning.

Today, as I stood in a busy bookstore in front of a silent television in the historically Republican state of Texas, a group of women gathered to watch with me. Some were old, some were young, some were somewhere in the middle. One blonde mom asked the black, female shopkeeper if she would mind turning the volume up, and she gladly complied. We watched Hillary concede with what seemed like a smile masking deep despair. It is hard to fail; it is unthinkable to imagine what it must be like to admit defeat to those who zealously applauded--and needed--your gargantuan effort. As we all stood there watching, a man behind us laughed and muttered “Evil bitch.” I whipped around; I could not believe what I was hearing. Ever the loud mouth, I tried to find the words to berate him, but I found myself uncharacteristically speechless. As I stared at him in utter shock, he laughed again, puffed out his chest, snarled his teeth and walked away. I looked at the woman standing next to me and she rolled her eyes. I turned back to Hillary as she continued, “Eighteen million of you from all walks of life: women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-America and Caucasian, rich and poor, middle-class, gay and straight, you have stood with me…and I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me…the Democratic Party is a family and now it’s time to restore the ties that bind us together.”

In retrospect, I am glad I didn’t respond to the snarly-toothed man. There has been more than enough bitterness in this race already. My only regret is that he left before hearing Hillary’s heartfelt, heartbreaking request.

This essay was originally published on the design blog Speak Up.

Friday, June 06, 2008

He Loves His Life The Way It Is.



Ali Alvarez had an ex that used to play lottery scratch cards every week. Most weeks she lost. Some weeks she won a few bucks. But it got him thinking about the whole lottery "thing" -- getting your hopes high for a week, dreaming, escaping, and then being let down.

Since this happens to him on a daily basis WITHOUT the lottery's help, he found the whole thing rather funny. So as an experiment, he started buying scratch cards and not scratching them. It made his ex a little crazy (maybe that's why she is an ex?). When he showed the cards to other people it made them a little crazy too.

So, he started a project. Simply titled: I LOVE MY LIFE THE WAY IT IS, it is a mass collection of unscratched lottery tickets, and a small statement that says a lot of things to a lot of different people.

I love it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008



Few artists have the access (let alone the perseverance) to follow the same subject for decades. So when the artist’s muse is his own child, it presents a unique opportunity. Case in point: photographer Jack Radcliffe's haunting portfolio documenting the life of his daughter from infancy to adulthood, titled simply Alison.

A stunning series in black and white, the photos walk a fine line between exquisite and intrusive, caring and unsettling, as Alison grows from thoughtful child to striking punk teenager to obviously troubled adult. “I wanted to photograph her in all her extremes,” Radcliffe writes in his introduction, “and to be part of these times in her life without judging or censoring.”

In her book "On Photography," Susan Sontag called photographs “an ethics of seeing.” It’s difficult to look at this work and not wonder what would have happened, to both his art and to Alison, if Radcliffe had censored or judged — or chosen a different subject altogether.

Via the always wonderful Very Short List.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

How We Read

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

See the difference?

Great, really sneaky Company Mascot Quiz sent to me by my brother. I did not do as well as I expected.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Just Say No?

Just Say No

Seen on the streets of New York City, the captial of capitalism.
things i paint
things i photograph
design matters design matters poster designed by Firebelly
about me things i do those i thank things i like current playlist