Hail Mario, Full of Grace

Super Marie- Soasig Chaillard

What do you get when you mix one of the most important symbols of the Catholic faith with elements of pop culture? Quite a bit of controversy.

The refurbished Virgin Mary statues created by French artist Soasig Chamaillard have been criticized for portraying the Virgin Mary in a sacrilegious way.  As a Catholic who has sat through 12 “Living Rosary” celebrations while earning my “good, Catholic education,” I can attest to the fact that Mary is a pretty important woman to Catholics.

A blog called “World ReligionNews” has a good explanation of just how important she is.

Catholics have a strong affinity toward Mary as the mother of God and view her as an ultimate compassionate human being, giving her full self to birth Jesus Christ via the Immaculate Conception. Mary in a sense is viewed as mother to all.”

I understand and appreciate the beliefs of my religion, but my first thought was not how offensive these statues are. It was how funny and creative they are. I think the artist’s mixing of religious symbolism and pop culture is creative and original. I was interested to learn that her idea for the art came from wanting to give a damaged figurine from her father a more modern take.

An article from the Huffington Post describes Chamaillard’s modern Mary statues as “blending iconography from the realms of religious tradition and contemporary kitsch into results that can hardly be described without using the words ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’ at least twice.” I completely agree with that. The statues are just plain fun. When I first saw these statues I did have a feeling that many of my fellow Catholics probably did not feel the same—and I was right.


A post from a French-language religious blog urging readers to protest an exhibition of Chamaillard’s works in Nantes, France received quite a few comments.

There were ones that were critical of the artistry:

And there were a few that expressed offense regarding the statues. This comment was particularly extreme, especially the final paragraph:

Although I don’t feel this way, I can understand why a lot of Catholics are offended by the statues. Mary is a big deal to us, and these statues could very easily be interpreted as poking fun at her. However, I think it’s important to look at the artist’s intent and hear what she has to say before we draw conclusions and hope that she “burn in hell.”

Chamaillard does have a response to the controversy surrounding her art, and she says she was surprised by the amount of offended Catholics. An article from Art Info France quotes Chamaillard as saying, “ I suspected that this could shock the sensibilities of certain people, but I didn’t think there would be so many of them,” she says. “As an artist, you don’t necessarily see the clash between your internal world and the external world.”

She goes on to criticize her critics by saying, “Faith is not in statues, and perhaps they should remember that … Faith should be strong enough to remain unshaken by simple objects. I think they need to step back from the object and not forget that it’s an artistic work.”

Not only did Chamaillard not intend to offend Catholics, but she doesn’t interpret her work as religious in any way; she sees her statues as purely artistic.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Chamaillard’s art will ever be accepted by her critics, but as the World Religion News says, “like most things described as ‘scandalous,’ ‘shameful,’ or ‘blasphemous’ it will all blow over and the next outrageous religious crisis will appear. But while they Catholics are still upset, Chamaillard will always have her Virgin Mary Power Rangers to defend her.”

France and Google at Odds Over Paid Media Links

The logo for Google.

When most people need to do research or look up an interesting subject that they don’t know about, their first stop would probably be Google. I believe everyone in this class uses the search engine as well to find ideas for their next posts. However, the site might not be able to show every resource, specifically French news sites due to the ongoing conflict between the French government and the popular search engine.

According to France24, Google threatened to remove French media sites from its search results following the proposal of a law that would make search engines pay for content from the country’s news sites. In addition, the site said in a letter that the proposal would “threaten (Google’s) very existence.”

The origin of the issue lies in the recent decline of newspaper publications and subscriptons. With many groups launching online versions of their newspaper, readers have been canceling their hard-copy editions because of the vast amount of free news content online. The new French government, according to the same article, is open to aiding struggling media companies, and this proposal would seem like the government’s first step towards helping publications.

It would seem logical that their first area to seek revenue from would be search engines. MSNNews reported that Google’s earned profits of $2.18 billion during its third quarter, according to the site’s earning statement. Additionally it earned $11.53 bilion from ad revenues, which is a 19 percent increase from last year.

With that kind of money even I would want to get a slice of the action, but I think that the methods of the French government are off-target and I’m not alone. Twitter users Lawrence McDonald and Derek Russell are only two of the many people who disagree with the government’s actions. Fortunately, there is a better way to get online sites to gain revenue and for search engines to not pay to provide links to publications.

Digital subscriptions are beginning to merge and it seems that people are willing to pay for them, according to Phys.orgThe New York Times began their online subscriptions last year, and even those who don’t pay for subscription fees can still view about 20 pages a month. For publications who need to find a better way to gain more revenue, this method is definitely better than charging search engines that always provide users with free links to resources from around the world. In a time where we rely so much on the Internet for free news, the idea of taxing search engines to help publications is absurd. Instead, leave the revenue issues with the newspaper groups.

Resignations about David Blatt’s Resignation

Today, seven years of American influence on Russian basketball ended with the resignation of David Blatt.

Now you might be confused as to why Russia’s national team basketball coach is a guy called David Blatt, and you have good reason. Blatt doesn’t look like a “-ski” or a “-ov” last name, so why is he coaching the Russians? It’s very well known that Russians love well…Russians, and this American’s exit from the job could close down not only relations between the NBA and the Russian League (after all there are only three Russian players in the NBA, and one Russian owner, Mikhail Prokhorov – who recently said he will be focusing less on business and basketball and more on politics).

Reaction on Twitter is one of sadness:

Reaction to David Blatt’s Resignation

Despite not being Russian, and even worse – he’s Jewish! (Russia is notoriously anti-semetic) Blatt had a lot of success and respect within the Russian basketball community. He led the Russians to a Gold Medal at the 2007 Eurobasket Tournament, and a Bronze in the 2011 Olympics.

Blatt will stay as full time coach of Israeli League power Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Russia now has only 3 and a half years until the next Olympic games and no coach. They lost a true professional, and his influence in Russian basketball will be missed.






Soccer: Balls and Brothels

In times of trouble I turn to my parents, that is when I run into trouble. But what would I do if my work or club needed quick cash to keep going on? Probably not turn to brothels, but it happens.

Amateur soccer teams in Greece faced a hard time after budget cuts drastically reduced the money received; this is yet another side-effect of the Greek Euro Crisis. In an attempt to keep playing the sport, they turned to sponsors for a cash flow. The new money comes from a range of vastly different places. From kebab shops to funeral homes, feta cheese to a jam factory, variety really is the spice of life. But a small team, Voukefalas club, from the city of Larissa in central Greece, turned to two brothels, Villa Erotica and Soula’s House of History. Just an FYI, prostitution is legal in Greece.

Pictured Right: Brothel owner attends  soccer match with two workers

The deal, initially a joke between the team manager and the owner of the brothel, also known as a bordello, came to reality one remark about getting sponsorship and “other benefits” later. I guess it wasn’t the mutual idea of “play” that made the deal seem natural.

The newly sponsored team now sports pink jerseys that display “Villa Erotica” on their backs, though they are not allowed to play any real matches in them. I can only imagine what effect this has on the players and other teams going against them. Let’s hope it isn’t making the sport too hard.

When the chairman/travel-agency owner/backup goal keeper of the team received question on this action, he responded that “It is a question of survival”. Villa Erotica has already supplied the practice jerseys and 1000 euros ($1312), only a tenth of the 10,000 euros needed for a year of play.

(Pictured Left: Voukefalas Soccer team poses with new jerseys)

Most people in social media have linked to several articles over and over again, but a few have found a way to capture the humor of the situation. Some are using witty sayings,  most people seem to hold a neutral ground. Personally, I think it’s fine. Though I would like to see more “ball play” puns.

I think the teams should look a merger. The Voukefalas club stated that they still lack a midfield, something you would have no trouble patching up with a combination of two teams that are only two-thirds full. But then it becomes a question of there being enough teams to play each other.

Pictured Right: Tweets about the news of Voukefalas Sponsorship  

Does the community see this as a troubling thing? Should the team be aloud to keep their sponsorships? My theory is, if you can legally have brothels, then you can have them sponsor your team. They are a company just like the rest of the sponsors and should not be prohibited from sponsoring due to their type of business. What about your thoughts?






In Soviet Russia, Meme Makes You! – Top 5 Russian Memes

Troll Family

Self-Portrait of Author and Family

Disclaimer: This is a somewhat picture intensive post written with my horrible excuse for humor. Also some memes are explicit. Deal with it.

Okay, so you’re asking yourself – what is a meme? How do you even say that word? To be honest I mispronounce “saLmon” so I am probably not going to be the best person to tell you. Thank God for the interwebz though as Dictionary.com says this:

Meme: a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.

Analogous to the biological transmission of genes indeed, Sir!

The web is a scary place that wears a nice clean UPS uniform so soccer moms can get their “50 Shades of Gray” from Amazon without ever having to face the dark netizens lurking just below the surface. Peel back a layer and it’s Alice in Wonderland all over again.

Memes are the spawn of the internet subculture that is increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with. The use of memes is even seen during this year’s elections.  NPR wrote an article showcasing the emergence of what some call an internet subculture in political campaigns.

NPR: Political Memes: Fast, Cheap, And Out Of Control?

and Politico.com has a gallery featuring some of the funniest memes from this election

BUT I am soooo tired of all the politics lately, as I am sure you are too my dear reader – cause your here – on this site, so grab your binders full of women or if you prefer, women full of binders and lets explore something that you might have to explain to your kids someday. Like why I put a trollface over my daughter. And why it’s hilarious. Despite what my wife says.

I love memes. I really do. And you should too. If you haven’t already swallowed both pills and dove headfirst down the rabbit hole into the wonderful world of memes, lolcats and ragefaces like I have then come, friend – I have some things to show you. (Stifles sinister giggle)


Rage Face Indeed

mmhm, yes.

Here’s a quick backstory to what the hell all of this is. Just blame 4Chan. It’s the proverbial evil red-headed step-child that grew up when you were out with your “real family” – and he just stole your truck. Well, you had that one coming – but really 4chan and places like it are the beloved dingy attics and basements of the internet where netizens hang out, post pictures, news, humor, anything goes really – and the result is memes.

They are ideas that are warped and shaped by society. They change depending on whoever is making them and for me that’s the best part. You can see evolution in progress as an idea or image is shaped by each person interested in adding their own touch. So, “transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes” is actually a fairly accurate description of how memes are created: interwebz sex. Just kidding. They are a conglomerate of whoever made them, where they came from, and now they’re in politics.

Meanwhile in Russia


Okay, okay – I promised to stop with the politics. But clearly Putin is a force of nature, and has spawned countless memes. So I think it’s fair to include him on this list. Oh yeah – the list. Well, the whole purpose of this post was to introduce you to Russian memes and here I am spouting off about the history, culture, blah blah boring. So! Without – much particular order other than my own personal preference and further – further ado…

5) In Soviet Russia…

Known as the Russian reversal – no that’s not something you can try in the bedroom – it was created by this guy:

Yakov Smirnoff

Welcome to the interwebz friend, I will be your guide.

Yakov Smirnoff is a Ukrainian born American comedian who came up with the classic Russian reversal back in the 80’s. The jokes goes something like this:

In America, you put ‘In God We Trust’ on your money.
In Russia, we have no money! 

It’s funny cause it’s true. (Right?) I actually have no clue, but you get the idea. The Russian reversal is now a staple of internet memeology (I totally made that word up.) The Russian reversal has taken on new forms since being brought back from 80’s and variations on this theme are a popular way to satirize what is happening in Russia.

It’s sister meme, if there is such a thing, would be the “Meanwhile in Russia” theme that has those words usually captioning some ridiculous thing that happens only in Russia. Like you know, Bear Cavalry.  Knowyourmeme.com is a great resource to find the backstory on any meme which means that’s pretty much where I “got” my expansive knowledge on this subject. But here’s the source.

An example of a modern take on this meme:

in Soviet Russia, Waldo Finds You

Waldo – Much bigger when you meet him up close.

4) Preved Medved!

Prived Medved, - Russian Bear Surprises Campers

Pictured: Preved Medved, distant relative to Pedo-bear

A painting by John Lurie was adopted and evolved into a Russian meme that’s been popping up all over the Federation (A much cooler name than just Russia), faster than a case of Yakov Smirnoff. Hitting it’s peak sometime in June of 2007 it’s still a great example of good ol’ Russian shenanigans.

Twitter screen grab of Preved Medved

Hint: It’s all about Preved Medved

A query on the Russian search site Yandex.ru (slightly explicit) brings up good examples of the evolution of this particular bear.

It’s even alive on the glorified facebook status site Twatter. I refuse to bring myself to take that site seriously and there’s nothing you can do to change that. (Clasps ears, lalalalalalala)

If any of you know Russian, welcome my fellow spies, you will notice that Preved is a wrong spelling of Privet (Hello). It’s on purpose. I am not quite sure I understand the reasons but apparently it’s a play on words. I guess you just have to be Russian. I am only a half-ling.

Combination Pedo-bear and Killroy was here with a healthy dose of political satire, Preved Medveds entire premise for a joke is just his presence.

Cracked does a great article on two of the memes I am mentioning. Also this.

3) Putin – Brosef Ballen’?

Putin in a Bear Coat

I can certainly see where he gets his charm.


Not much has to be said to know where this is going. I am fascinated by this man. He really is a force of nature. The man brought Russia back from the brink of economic ruin but at the cost of judo-chopping freedom in the neck.

This is where Prived Medved gets his political kick from. Medved is a play on Medvedev – the now former Russian President, who was largely seen as a lackey to the man George Bush once referred to as “Cold Blooded”.

If any of you haven’t been keeping up with the news from the Motherland; Medvedev served his term and Putin was re-elected – for his third term in office – because you know, why not? Oh and possible election fraud. But hey, what’s a good election without some scandals, or choice?

The man himself literally is a walking meme-generator. He took controls of a plane that was putting out wildfires since he was a trained pilot (not) and proceeded to show the pilots how putting out fires is all about. Prezident style.

When he’s not busy kicking fires in the teeth, he hunts tigers – with tranquilizer darts so it’s humane, judo chops his way into possibly competing in the Russian Olympic team, drives formula 1 race-cars like it’s no biggie, and generally likes to show everyone just how much bigger and badder his Machismo is by literally doing anything that looks cool.

Oh and let’s not forget he is a former KGB spy.

He’s got an incredible PR campaign that follows him around and records him doing stuff like this:

Putin hunting shirtless

Can we make our President’s do this?


You can see that this guy is a gold-mine. He’s got  pop songs written about him. Girls are sending him calenders full of “Tasteful” pictures for his birthday. Bensozia does a quick blurb on him and and to get you started on your journey to Putin picture land, here’s a magazine with some of his best bits.

Essentially Putin wants to be seen as this guy that can do anything. Wildfires? No problem. Terrorists – Bury them. Domestic resentment? Putin smash! And the image is working for him. This guy knows what he’s doing and he’s got a long term plan. I just hope I am on his good side.

Putin Flying on a Crane

Delivering babies to all Russian mothers himself.

2) PhotoExtreme

This is kind of like planking. Someone lies facedown across or on top of unique places and someone else takes a picture. This joke is someone planking. Russian’s probably didn’t get it as ending up lying face down on benches is a pretty common sight over there, or so I’ve heard. In PhotoExtreme the goal is to come up with a scenario and act it out with your friends then take a picture and post. Fun right? Well, as usual bonus points are awarded for “creativity” or as Russians like to call it, danger.


Russian Photoextreme meme

Apparently – this happens often

Passerby’s were treated to similar scenes all over Russia as netizens had some fun with their cameras. The goal is to depict some kind of scene. The weirder the better. This meme has elements of the flashmob as people in character chase zombies with chainsaws, hang out of windows, or take bath’s in the street all in broad daylight. It’s no wonder Russian’s never smile in public, they’ve probably seen some things man. It’s the wild west out there as far as the limits go. Cracked breaks it down even further.

1) Russian Youtube Videos

Russia itself has become a meme. It has become a symbol of extreme behavior. Youtube is filled with examples of students chugging vodka before class. Dashcam’s capture crazy driving on a seemingly daily basis and gangs of teenagers roam the city using the buildings as their own playground/gym. You gotta love it. Simply type Russia in Youtube and the world shows you how busy this country is.

From drunkards fighting in the streets to people throwing themselves in front of cars for insurance scams; this place has become the standard for extreme behavior.It’s really the level against which

Because anyone willing enough to do this has a lot more pirozhki’s than I do:


Russian Homemade Bungee Jump

Did you watch that? Cause you should – it’s a homemade bungee jump. Let me re-emphasis the “homemade” in that sentence. In no way is this safe. Yet it’s the kind of behavior that’s prevalent amongst our Russian comrades on the side of the world – at least the virtual world.

Well what about other extreme sports? Parkour for example? Parkour? No problem. Here’s Russia’s answer to Parkour:

Russian At It Once Again

Yep – whatever it is, Russia probably has a more extreme version of it somewhere. I bet if they got a hold of that flying suit, they’d probably see how drunk they can get while they jump.


Manliness Level Russian meme

Why? Because Russia – That’s why


So that’s it in a nutshell. Welcome to the wonderful world of memes. If this is your first time joining us it won’t be the last time seeing us. This is internet pop-culture and it’s going to be heard. The beauty of memes is that they’re made by the people. Anybody with a computer can create one about anything in the world. And it can go viral. That brings with it a certain weight that shouldn’t be disregarded.

I really think they should be given a lot more attention as an important part of public voice.  The ability to shoot your message all over the internet and have it be seen by millions of people. Then watch as it evolves, changes and ultimately becomes part of the internet culture can be extremely rewarding. So try making your own, it’s really not hard:

http://memegenerator.net/ – basic meme builder

 http://ragegenerator.com/ – rage comic builder


– Dima

In all seriousness: German humor…or the lack thereof

In researching political cartoons, Germany, and the Eurocrisis over the past couple of months, there has been no shortage in finding humor. Many of the cartoons I have come across have provided a chuckle or two. Of course – as my last blog post suggests – humor is relative: what is funny to me doesn’t necessarily make it funny for you. When it comes to Germany and the Germans in general, it seems the rest of the world has the notion of the Germans being very serious, humorless people. Expressionless faces, neither emotions, nor smiles, and a rigid, hard-sounding language that sounds more like a constant threat than a peaceful sound wave.

Global Cowboy ‏@weirdomobile
I end up mixing German into English whenever a situation beckons seriousness. What type of weird subliminal slip is that? #multilingual

I was thinking to myself, “I wonder if the Germans would be laughing at the cartoons I’ve found over the past couple of months?” There is no straightforward answer to this thought; so I’ve decided to take a look at the Germans and their ‘humorless’ stereotype and ask myself whether the Germans are indeed the world’s least funny people as South Park suggests.

South Park Germans least funny people in the world

It is quite possible that you have already seen the popular youtube video of the German kid screaming and pounding his fists against his father’s keyboard in anger because Unreal Tournament isn’t loading fast enough. Despite its disturbing qualities, what makes the video funny for most of us is its absurd and over-the-top behavior – how could someone act like that? As unfair as it may be, the most common answer I tend to gravitate toward is ‘typisch Deutsch.’

The kid’s behavior and South Park’s assertion of Germany being too serious and the least funny may not be too far off. According to a Telegraph article from 07 June 2011, an international poll found that “Germany [is] officially the world’s least funny country.” Many of the pollsters saw the Germans “as being more focused on rationality and efficiency rather than humour.”

To me, the previous statement makes a lot of sense. The Germans are very punctual people, don’t complain, exhibit a good work ethic, and are – for the most part – rational thinkers. Could herein lie the reasons for the stereotype?

When I was living in Magdeburg, Germany, a good friend and I used to play a little game and it went something like this: walk around and say ‘guten Tag!’, ‘einen schönen Tag, oder?’, or simply ‘wie geht’s Ihnen?’ I always thought such expressions were harmless and rather friendly gestures – in America, and other countries of course, this is generally the case. To many Magdeburgers, I guess not. We would receive a variety of responses: cold shoulders, looks of confusion, or, the best yet, ‘Was willst du von mir?’, ‘Was?!’, or something like ‘Ich kenne Sie nicht! Warum reden Sie mir an?!’ Of course these responses were mixed in with more positive ones; nonetheless, I don’t believe I have ever experienced a ‘What do you want from me?’ after saying ‘Hello!’ to someone on the street in Columbia. Despite this personal experience coupled with the awareness of your typical, serious-face German stereotype, is it still fair for me to call the Germans a ‘humorless nation?’

I’m going to postulate that Germans do indeed have a sense of humor; it is just different. Many suggest it is a language issue – translating a German joke into English just doesn’t cut it as part of the understanding of the joke gets lost in translation. Let’s look at an example printed in The Bild in March 2011: two mates are sitting at a table in the pub. One says to the other: “Tell me, do you sometimes get smog in your bedroom?”

“How come?”

“A bad atmosphere and no traffic…”

Good joke, huh! Wait…what? If you didn’t understand the joke, you’re not alone. To understand it, one would have to know that the German word for traffic (verkehr) also means sexual intercourse. Haha, right? (I thought the joke was funnier before I knew the meaning of the word – the humor rested in its almost nonsensical stupidity!)

Germans have a sense of humor South Park

As the Guardian explains to us, “Some people have suggested that the rigid structure of the German language makes joke-telling difficult. For example, important verbs are withheld until the very end of a long sentence as soon as you insert a conjunction such as “because” or “if”. Actually, though, this can help a comedian because it builds suspense. A good comic can lead an audience down one track, only to surprise them with an unexpected verb as the punchline. “
As this explanation seems fairly logical and quite possibly true, one would have to admit that the Germans would probably rather drink some beer or schnapps than tickle each other’s fancies with jokes. Germans do, however, laugh (which is another stereotype all on its own) which, to me, shows the lighter – and less often seen – side of the Germans:

So, back to the last question. Is it fair to call Germany a ‘humorless nation?’ As much as I want to say ‘no’ just to be fair to the Germans, I am going to go out on a limb and say ‘Yes!’ It is fair! They do indeed show glimpses of possessing a sense of humor. Some laugh and some smile (just like Americans!); nonetheless, as an American I am ok with the Germans being more serious. I have grown to like their seriousness, and, to be honest, I have had quite a few laughs because of it. How can you not find humor in the kid freaking out because Unreal Tournament isn’t loading? Is he being real?! Doesn’t the idea of him being German make it that funnier?

To be more fair (if it’s possible at this point), it isn’t necessarily the behaviors of the Germans that is always funny – reactions toward the Germans and their seriousness is quite amusing, too. People get serious in talking about the Germans being too serious. Seriously? As the authors of the blog ‘What we’re sinking about’ write to their German friends:

“Dearest German friends and colleagues, stop being so damn serious. Like really, quit. Lighten up. Laugh. Spin around in your office chair a couple of times, throw a smiley face in at the end of your email, anything.”

I get a kick out of the Germans being serious and humorless but I also respect their serious attitude toward life. Even if it is a stereotype! It is refreshing to know that they are out there in the world being serious – and being serious on our behalf! It makes me smile when I think of it, actually. At the very least, we can laugh at their seriousness and humorless attitudes. Is that not humor in itself?

Although the video below has nothing to do with the stereotype, we have at least another reason to be thankful to the Germans..

British game show host laughs at German name

‘got Switzerland?’ Globally, It’s the Best Branded Country.

The Swiss Alps

Overlook view of the Alps.

There’s little doubt in my mind that you’d fall short of recognizing Toblerone chocolate packaged goods, a Swiss watch company, Wegner Swiss Army Knives, or Volvo automobiles. I bet you’ve even heard of the country Switzerland being a top brand in itself. Or have you? Yeah– neither had I.

Recent polls from Forbes Magazine have landed Switzerland “the best country brand globally.” Right off the bat, Forbes Staff writer Jacquelyn Smith stated Switzerland as “The Apple of the world.” For what it’s worth, a separate article by Forbes announced Steve Jobs’ most important products. Seems ironic to me!

Screenshot from Twitter handle @Forbes

Switzerland beat out two-time leader Canada by scoring high marks in CBI’s Value System dimension, including impressive scores in the political freedom, environmental friendliness and stable legal environment attributes.
What do you think? Should any nation truly be eligible to obtain a legitimate award for being “The Best”? I don’t think so.
Some Tweets from @Forbes Twitter handle revealed positive feedback from followers about the latest Swiss development. Following, yours truly had some beans to spill as well:

But according to the Country Brand Index, Switzerland made its way past Canada within the past 24 hours! It seems like country ‘brandedness’ might actually be a legitimate system.

Tweets from the @FutureBrand Twitter homepage.

Tweets from the @FutureBrand Twitter homepage.

I’m still not fully convinced.

After scrolling through folds of pages, I was able to find qualifications every country must meet for first place status. According to FutureBrand.com, “the CBI ranks nations based on today’s global perception” across public policy, globalization, and media-related disciplines for the final ranking of 118 nations.

According to Forbes:

“This year’s CBI surveyed 3,600 international business and leisure travelers from 18 countries around the world, including the U.S., Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico the UAE, India, South Africa, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Australia to find the best country brands.

The overall index score was determined by performance in 26 image attributes across five key association dimensions: Value System, Quality of Life, Good for Business, Heritage and Culture, and Tourism. This score is then combined with the performance in six other areas of brand strength (Awareness, Familiarity, Preference, Consideration, Decision/Visitation and Advocacy) to find the top 25 country brands.”

If you wonder how the ranking is obtained, FutureBrand.com says that this is based on the government’s ability to effectively implement policies that protect its people and goals, on the country’s financial commitment to its future vision based on investment in infrastructure, education, healthcare, communications technology and international partnerships, on human capital, growth, sustainability and influence.

So, once more information about FutureBrand.com’s award for Switzerland was milked dry, I felt it necessary to take a gander at Google Trends to find out more reaction from the latest Swiss news….

Google Trends

A screenshot of Google Trends revealing the Top-10 Swiss Trends being searched just hours after the CBI revealed statistics.

…and the Top-10 Trends didn’t seem to reveal much about Switzerland’s latest accomplishment. As I searched through each term or phrase, I landed on sites about Geneva, Zurich, Switzerland weather, and maps, all the way to the end for Swiss job searches.

After that, I utilized the ‘Rising’ trends and I still found nothing about the recent news of the “best brand globally.” I’ve had to keep in mind, though, that these trends can, and will change during any given time period. News always has potential to spread like wild fire, especially when more readers discover the Forbes.com article recently mentioned.

So, does one have the right to say that the Country Branded Indices are just a joke? Not so fast, my friend. Here’s why FutureBrand.com will presumably always swear by it:

“In today’s world, brands are a collection of perceptions around products, services, places and experiences, and how they’re marketed to audience groups to drive preference, purchase and ultimately advocacy,” says Daniel Rosentreter, Future Brand’s North American chief strategy officer.

What about America, you ask? What’s our ranking? FutureBrand.com ranked the U.S. No. 8 spot.

As many would probably agree, I believe America’s truths lie within our freedom, democracy, ambition, and individualism. That said, I also feel it’s apparent that our scores decreased due to the ‘Obama Effect’ and successive fiscal issues in both the United States and Europe. That said, our social and economic capital are beginning to lose its global audience.

And other countries suffered as well. According to New York Times Stewart Elliot, Italy and Spain descended a considerable amount due to the scrutiny of the euro zone crisis.

So how does one go ‘all-in’ and boost their national brand?

FutureBrand.com’s analysts reveal that brands are more than just the sum of its parts:

“From progressive politics to a sense of openness and freedom of speech, a country that is geared around its people and their needs will inevitably boost their brand image. This creates an emotional connection and ripple effect whereby others around the world will want to visit the country, do business with it and build their lives in a particular place.”

As a student seeking to grow within the creative industry, I also hold similar truths to general ideas for any brand. I believe that a brand is ultimately an identity. I believe all brands reflect a relationship, and either appreciate or negate more users. That said, after the 2012-2013 CBI, I think it’s safe to say that Switzerland has earned its fair share to be first place on FutureBrand.com’s analysis of this country’s awareness, familiarity, preference, consideration  advocacy, and active decisions to interact with this place.






French Identity Crisis

When you think of French stereotypes, what comes to mind?








A man dressed in the French Stereotype

A man dressed up as an exaggerated version of the French stereotype.


Yeah…probably something a little bit like this guy ——————————————————————->


Well, let me tell you something. I have been to France, and while these stereotypes do occur (okay, so maybe the beret is a bit of an exaggeration), they are not usually all found together, on a single human being. And although these may be attributes of some French people, I dare not say that any of them are exclusively French. Let’s face it; people around the world smoke cigarettes and drink wine, so long as it fancies them.

This leads me to the question, if we cannot identify a modern French man  by his red beret and absurd mustache, then how do we determine who is truly French? And what makes somebody French as opposed to something other?

This is a question that I have been wrestling with all semester, and over and over again I have come to the conclusion that you’re of course French if you are a citizen, but furthermore “frenchness,” so to speak, can also mean that you have grown up in France, that you identify with some aspect of the culture, and that it is your home. My opinion, however, is just one of many, and so I feel that it is important to see what others are saying.

We’re in luck! It just so happens that French people, whether consciously or not,  are asking themselves the same question. Furthermore, it is apparent as French current events are plagued with stories of the conflict that arises between different French ethnic identities, in particular between those of European descent and those of North African descent.

A few weeks ago it was the liberal news journal, Charlie Hebdo, to rile up the public about Islam in France with racy charicatures of the prophet Mohammed, while this past week the conservative youth movement, Génération identitaire has stolen the extremism spotlight.

A couple of weeks ago, Génération identitaire posted a nationalistic “Declaration of War” video that calls for a revival of  (European) French Identity, stating things such as,

We are the generation who gets killed for glancing at the wrong person, for refusing someone a cigarette, or for having an ‘attitude’ that annoys someone. We are the generation of ethnic fracture, total failure of coexistence, and forced mixing of the races.”

Honestly, it’s probably best if you just see the video for yourself.


Video put together by the French youth movement, Génération Identitaire

This past Saturday approximately 70 protestors from Génération identitaire acted on their nationalistic sentiments by storming an unfinished mosque in the town of Poitiers, displaying a banner that read “732 Generation Identitaire.” (Arabian Business)

Generation Identitaire Storming mosque in Poitiers, France

Generation Identitaire occupying the roof of a soon-to-be mosque in Poitiers, France

And in case you, too, were concerned about the meaning of the number 732, the group has stated that it refers to the year of 732 in which Charles Martel, a leader in the medieval French army, halted an Arab invasion of Poitiers.

I must say that the video made by Génération identitaire as well as their occupation of the mosque not only struck me as bigoted, but also as bizarre. I was not alone in this conclusion as the following quotes from various French authorities can attest .

“We are thunderstruck … these are people who are stuck in the year 732, and who don’t see that the world has changed. People can live differently than in a mindset of war and conflict.”

–El Haj Boubaker, an imam from Poitiers

“A hateful provocation”

–France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls

“What they did was scandalous. They basically declared war against Muslims in France. These groups are dangerous because they promote hatred. We have asked the government to prevent them from publishing their intolerable propaganda.”

–Bernadeye Hetier, Co-President of MRAP (Movement Against Racism)

Truth be known, I agree with all of these statements, especially the one about the year 732. In my mind, it seems silly, of all things to write on a banner that will be displayed in images world-wide, the date of a halted arab invasion from hundreds of years ago. If anything, it proves to me that Arab peoples have been in Europe and had contact with the French for centuries and therefore their ancestory in France is not, as some may call it, an “invasion of recent times.”

And along this same line, how is it logical to accuse North Africans of taking over French land when in fact it was actually the French who colonized their land first? For this reason the mindset behind the Génération Identitaire seems rather contradictory to me.

And finally, I believe the words and actions of the Génération Identitaire are insufficient. They claim to support a “true” French identity, however they are not able to pinpoint what exactly French Identity is.  They are only able to show what they believe is not French, and that is Islam. For example I am sure that the Génération Identitaire would not accuse Napoleon Bonaparte of not being French, even though he had Italian ancestry, but then again he was Catholic. What’s up with this!?

Clearly I have a lot of thoughts about this, but I realize that it’s only fair to bring in their perspectives of others, so without further ado, here is what supporters and critics of Génération Identitaire have had to say about the video and mosque occupation:

“These white youths in France have had enough of multiculturalism and third world invasion and are taking a stand for their culture and heritage. Good for them.”

–Author of deconstructingleftism.wordpress.com

“These guys smell wrong to me. It’s probably just because they’re a product of a different culture and a different language, but after watching that video and glancing at their site, I get the feeling that G.I. is some kind of performance-art stunt to expose fascism’s latent support. Their graphic design and production values are too good.”

–Lawful Neutral, a commenter on deconstructingleftism.wordpress.com

“I got goosebumps when I watched this the first time…However…I am struck by how much they sound just like the 68ers they denounce.”

Nicholas Stix, Uncensored 

“Violence against white people is rampant, these anti-racist leftists don’t care about white people it’s simple as that. It’s so sad that whites are doing to this to themselves and future generations. How can we educate them?”

–angrywhitewoman, commenter on Frontpagemag.com

“You can bet once the muzzies achieve high enough numbers this ridiculous display of “tolerance” will be deeply regretted. What they can’t do with guns and bombs they will accomplish with babies . . .”

–C Smythe, commenter on UPI.com

Though I have tried, condensing what is currently happening in France into clear, concise points seems impossible. I will conclude in saying that there is no real way of telling who is and is not French at face value. It’s just not possible. However, the deep-rooted xenophobia that runs through the veins of traditional French culture makes Muslims an easy scapegoat because women in particular, are marked by what they wear, and easy to identify as being different. No matter what conclusions you make on your own, I think one thing is clear: This issue is relevant because week after week in French media, the national identity is being challenged by incidences such as the mosque occupation of Poitiers.

French New Wave Cinema: You Have to See It to Believe It

I don’t have a Twitter (don’t judge me, it stresses me out), but I am on a mission, a journey perhaps, to find what you (the tweeter) have to say about French cinema.  So I am deciding to set aside my anxiety and venture down the path of a ‘Twitter Search’ in hopes of finding the Promise Land.  The search is easy.  All that I have to do is type “French cinema” and, voila!








A smattering of results from the search “French Cinema” pertaining to “French New Wave Cinema” -Twitter







What do we have here?  People tweeting about French New Wave Cinema.  Great!


Wait, what is French New Wave Cinema?


My investigation continues…


La Nouvelle vague, or French New Wave, is a movement that has its genesis back in the late 1950s in a France left destitute of funds from the Nazi occupation of decades past.  It opposed the old French traditions of filmmaking that have been described as “more literature than cinema.”  Instead, New Wave was a movement of directors more interested in showing the story by means of camerawork.  It is also noted as being the forbearer of jump cuts (slight changes in the angle of a camera on the same object) and the de-emphasis of linear structure.  One blogger writes:


Besides directing films, the directors also play a role as the author.  They used film as a medium to express their thinking, feeling, and criti[que] things that happened around them.


Personally, the style is a little confusing to understand on paper.  But the style is best seen rather than read. Here is a good example of the popular “are you talking to me?” scene in Taxi Driver juxtaposed with the same scene transmogrified into French New Wave style.

Chauffeur De Taxi from Luke Collins on Vimeo.


See the difference?


I like the style, but unfortunately it formally died out decades ago.  So why  is there still talk about it today?


Looks as if I am going to have to have venture a bit further if I want to find Shangri-La.


It turns out that French New Wave has left its imprint on much of the cinema world today.  One of Quinton Tarantino’s favorite films is Band of Outsiders by Jean-Luc Godard, a highly influential New Wave director.  Pulp Fiction’s diner dance scene is replicated from Band of Outsiders’ café scene, and Tarantino’s production company, A Band Apart, takes its name from Godard’s French title for his film, Bande à part.  But Tarantino isn’t the only high profile director branded by the techniques of French New Wave Cinema.  Martin Scorsese has been highly influenced by French New Wave and has incorporated it into many of his films.


Tarantino and Scorsese are great, but this topic really hit home when all of my searching suggested that one of my personal favorites, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is considered a modern French New Wave film.




It’s difficult to explain on paper, but look at the examples.  Do you like them?  Do films that you like have similar scenes?

Does French New Wave truly have an influence on today’s movies or were the Twitter Search results just incidental?

Prison Wall Flowers

Thank you to my fellow classmates, I have officially come to the dark side: I am now using Twitter. Of course, I haven’t gotten it all figured out yet… I think I might have one follower and I’m following something like five other people. Actually, to be completely honest, I’m not sure if they’re even people.

So as I was playing around, slowly crashing my internet and laptop by clicking a bunch of random things, I decided to type in “Russia” in the search box and see what people are saying, or where that would even take me. Turns out, people really are speaking about Russia! The first couple tweets that popped up were about the release of one of the Pussy Riot members from prison:

Moscow appeals court frees 1 member of jailed Russian punk band; upholds prison sentence for other 2 – @A

Russian punk band members to be sent to remote prison: Russian prisons are notorious for squalid conditions and … http://yhoo.it/Wq4IoT 

And the next few that caught my attention all linked to the same article:

Sailboats and Swans: The Prisons of Russia and Ukraine – Photographer Michal Chelbin spent three years… http://tmblr.co/ZBDlKyVP9XRQ

This article is based around the work of a famous Israeli photographer, Michal Chelbin. She’s done various solo shows all over the world including New York and Israel. Chelbin’s art is included in many prestigious public as well as private collections. Her work is described as “absolutely amazing” by andreameislingallery on tumblr, “superb” by Ian Brumptonon twitter, and her last exhibition is a “truly amazing body of work” according to AndreaMeislinGallery on twitter. This particular article, the one mentioned in a few tweets, discusses one of her latest works: “Sailboats and Swans”. This specific exhibition includes Chelbin’s work from 2008-2010 from Russia and Ukraine of… (you’ll never guess)…. PRISONS!

I don’t know about you, but I saw a little pattern there: Russian prisons!

Yeh, I know it might not sound super exciting just yet, but after clicking through a couple more links, I did see some good material for a blog.

Sticking to my previous theme of interior design, I just had to ask myself the obvious question: what does a prison look like?

When I think of a prison (especially a Russian one), I think of dark grey walls, black mold, rusty metal poles, and some other chilling and daunting images. Chelbin decided to challenge this stereotype. One of the first photographs that popped out at me, personally, is the following work of art:

Two inmates sentenced for violence and theft, pose for Chelbin in the Juvenile Prison for Girls, Ukrain 2009

Two inmates sentenced for violence and theft, pose for Chelbin in the Juvenile Prison for Girls, 2009. See more at: http://www.andreameislin.com/exhibitions/2012-10-18_sailboats-and-swans

Since when do prisons have flowers? Wallpaper? Artwork?

The next picture portrays the sleeping accommodations of young boys:

A young male prisoner posing for Michal Chelbin in a Russian juvenile prison

Sentenced for murder, Stas lays back on a metal bunk of a Juvenile prison for boys. See more at: http://lightbox.time.com/2012/10/01/sailboats-and-swans-the-prisons-of-russia-and-ukraine/#ixzz2A4WSJH5s

Notice the light blue curtains, wild print blankets, the aqua-colored metal cots along with night-stands and stools. According to Svetlana Bakhmina, a former lawyer that served her prison sentence in a Soviet styled camp south-east of Moscow, her specific prison housed anywhere between 50 and 100 people in something similar to an army-styled barrack which included rows of bunkbeds (just as pictured above). She told BBC that all she got was a night stand and a stool, once again just like the above picture. This type of layout is definitely not what I was expecting from an average prison, but seeing several people describe prison in this way makes me wonder if that is what most prisons are like in Russia.

Back to the photograph above… The flower-patterned wallpaper, is once again hard to miss along with the small crystal chandeliers hanging off the white ceiling. Looking at all those things, I would not have guessed this is a prison.

Interestingly enough, the title of this particular exposition, Sailboats and Swans, refers to the eccentric and rustic murals and wallpaper backgrounds that Chelbin found throughout the prisons (http://www.andreameislin.com/exhibitions/2012-10-18_sailboats-and-swans).

So what does all this say about prisons? About Russians? What do prisons in general say about Russian popular culture? Well, I’m not exactly sure that I have all the answers. All I know is that these pictures raised more questions for me than answers.  And honestly, I think the answers to those questions might vary from person to person.

To help you form your own answer to the questions above, I do want to point out that not all prisons look like the ones in Chelbin’s photos.

The National Geographic takes their viewers to a totally different extreme of the Russian prison aspect.



Those webisodes are intended to give you another view on Russian prisons. A little harsher look at things behind bars (which Chelbin doesn’t even illustrate in her photographs).

Not only does Michal not show any physical bars of her prisons to her viewers and essentially raises more questions than answers with her artwork, but one of her main goals is to actually make her audience wonder “Who is this person? Why is he dressed like this? What does it mean to be locked? Is it a human act? Is it fair? What do we see when we look at a locked person? Do we punish him with our eyes? Does a killer still look like a killer? Is it human to be weak and murderous at the same time?” (see what else she says at http://www.en.ozartsetc.com/2012/10/03/sailboats-and-swans-by-michal-chelbin-andrea-meislin-gallery-ny/). When a guest walks though Michal Chelbin’s exhibition, or a reader flips through her publication, they do not know who these people are, what they’re doing, or why they’re in jail until the very end. At the end, when she provides the identities of the unknown people and crimes, she wants her spectators to “look at [this exhibition] and see themselves… The circumstances of life could have brought anyone to this place” (http://lightbox.time.com/2012/10/01/sailboats-and-swans-the-prisons-of-russia-and-ukraine/#ixzz2A4m14xpS)

I strongly disagree with the last half of her statement. I do not believe that even the most extreme circumstances can bring me to eat another human being (as in the National Geographic video) or even kill someone, or steal. It’s just wrong and against my morals. Having said all that, it is astonishing what Chelbin can reveal to people like me through a simple still photograph.

Take a careful look at the following pictures:

Vania. Sentenced for sexual violence against women. 2010.

Vania, sentenced for sexual violence against women, 2010. See more at: http://www.en.ozartsetc.com/2012/10/03/sailboats-and-swans-by-michal-chelbin-andrea-meislin-gallery-ny/

Man with swastika tattoo in men's prison, 2008

Man in men’s prison, 2008. Did not wish to reveal name or crime. See more at: http://www.en.ozartsetc.com/2012/10/03/sailboats-and-swans-by-michal-chelbin-andrea-meislin-gallery-ny/

Sentenced for theft, Ira is posing for Michal Chelbin at a women's prison, 2009

Sentenced for theft, Ira is posing for Michal Chelbin at a women’s prison, 2009. See more at: http://www.en.ozartsetc.com/2012/10/03/sailboats-and-swans-by-michal-chelbin-andrea-meislin-gallery-ny/

Diana with her daughter Yulia at a prison for women and children, 2009

Diana with her daughter, Yulia, at a prison for women and children, 2009. See more at: http://www.en.ozartsetc.com/2012/10/03/sailboats-and-swans-by-michal-chelbin-andrea-meislin-gallery-ny/

I might not agree with everything Michal says, and in fact I strongly disagree with the last statement I quoted, but her photography forces me to connect and relate to her subjects. Something about the faces and the expressions of these people makes these photos breath-taking and encourages sympathy.

Michal Chelbin has noted that she asked her objects not to smile. When they smiled, according to her, they got a “fake mask”. Her objective was to catch these people as they would be during their day to day lives without any extra “masks” or fake barriers they might be putting up for the camera. In the past, she has told a reporter she “usually [photographs] people outside the mainstream, and [looks] for faces and eyes that express the complexities of life and… a gaze that transcends from the private to the common”.

The portraits she took include a wide range of both males and females. Some of the younger girls, such as the fourth picture from above, have pale and delicate skin while other older women keep their facial characteristics severe with heavy makeup (this is both true in and out of prison). There are boys that look so small and innocent, one would not believe they deserve to be in jail. Their bodies are over worked and, with time, they start looking more and more like zombies. Other older men have scars that speak of years and years of hard living. Tattoos among men are not uncommon. They are meant to represent strength, social status, possible strong religious beliefs, and are deeply symbolical to their owner. Most importantly of all, Russian prison tattoos are a solid proclamation of the wearer’s rank within the complex and unique social imprisonment system.
In all of the portraits here and the ones available online, there is a sense of dignity that is emitted by the prisoners.
Even in rough times and in harsh prison conditions, Russians walk proud and hand-in-hand with their dignity.
To me, all of the photographs have a mythical, legendary, and mysterious aura. It is frustrating how this Israeli photographer brings up more questions with almost no answers, but she also does a fabulous job capturing something not everyone has the honor to be able to observe; I’d say she definitely makes her fans engage in meaningful, deep thinking.
In any case… who knew one of the world’s coldest countries with the toughest prisons puts flowers, wallpaper, and paintings on their walls?

The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece lasted for around three thousand years in Greek history. Over this long history, the art of ancient Greece had influenced enormously on the culture of western countries.

© The Trustees of The British Museum 2012. All rights reserved.


The exhibition, “The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece” has opened on October 6 in Portland Art Museum in Oregon presenting 120 priceless objects from the British Museum with 10 sections: The male body beautiful, Aphrodite and the female body, The divine body, Herakles, Superman, Athletes, Birth, marriage, and death, Sex and desire, Outsiders, Character and realism and The human face.


The Human Body in Ancient Greek Art and Thought


According to Portland Art Museum’ official website; “The exhibition features more than 120 priceless objects from the British Museum’s famed collection of Greek and Roman art. Iconic marble and bronze sculptures vessels, funerary objects, and jewelry are among the treasure that explore the human form, some dating back to the second millennium BC.”

Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

The Oregonian’s review said on October 5, “As the exhibition’s title suggests, these objects—which range from enormous sculptures of deities to utilitarian vessels—focus on the physical body, which was celebrated with unreserved enthusiasm in ancient Greek culture.”


“The body Beautiful in Ancient Greece explores the Greek’s fascination with the human body and humanity which was pervasive I ancient Greek culture. In drama, philosophy, history, scientific medicine, (…) Greek was the first to direct the human mind on its modern quest for self-knowledge,” said Artcentro.

The ideal realism that the ancient Greeks had pursued are regarded to be the most beautiful shape in western art history.

I believe this will be a good opportunity for people to appreciate human forms created by ancient Greek people traveling in time back to Olympia and Acropolis which were the birthplace of art.

@Twitter takes a stand against Neo-Nazi group #Bock

*Disclaimer: grammatical and content changes made* 

Where do we draw the line on the idea of freedom of speech on social media? Where is the point where we have gone to far? I imagine lines are drawn when published web content rallies and promotes negative ideas and assumptions about others. This content doesn’t uplift the group, but degrades their character.

I make this point to bring up the history of Nazi Germany and how residue of this upsetting time still exists through the Neo-Nazi movement in Germany. Many of these young and old radicals hold the beliefs that destroyed so many lives and brought the end to innocent individuals. Why would these individuals want to revive the cruel social and political ideology that promoted racism, extreme nationalism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism?  I have no idea, but I do know the Neo-Nazis moved to a modern approach of spreading their views by the way of social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and personal blogs.

But, one brave social media outlet took the stand against a Neo-Nazi organization for the first time in history. There is always a first time for everything, and today (October 18th) happens to mark the first time Twitter decided to enforce a policy they put in place back in January to shut down any microblogging account that goes against the laws of the country they reside—when it comes to publishing online material. (Source: Spiegel de International)


We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We’re using it now for the first time against a group deemed illegal in Germany, says Alex Macgilliray.


Twitter calls this policy the country withheld content:

Many countries, including the United States, have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content. In our continuing effort to make our services available to users everywhere, if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.

Twitter made the right decision (in my opinion) to take down the @Hannoverticker account after Germany police of the Lower Saxony requested for the site to be taken down. Earlier in the year, Germany officials banned the Neo-Nazi organization, but they continued to communicate their ideas via social media. Chilling Effects is a microblogging service that has the capability to taken down US-based site’ content, and removed the @Hannoverticker account from Twitter.


Request letter from the German police of Lower Saxony

In American, some would look this at as citizen rights infringed upon. Because Germany’s laws on freedom of speech is different then the U.S., Nazi symbols, support, and slogans is criminally prosecuted.


Twitter only decided to ban access to the twitter page only in Germany and not the United States. Of course I had to see for myself. The Neo-Nazi group has 500 followers and 1,011 tweets. 1,011 tweets might seem like a lot, but as a person who has over 15,000 tweets, this seems minor. The follower number is not enough to be an influential account on Twitter. I believe the incident of shutting down their Twitter account will bring more followers and attention to their page from U.S. Twitter followers. And to check if my theory was right I went back to visit the page and here is what I found. There was an increase people following the @Hannoverticker account page by the end the day.


The situation is viral and received buzz from bloggers all around the world. They all hold different opinions on the removal of the Twitter account:

Responses from a New York Time post


Hasan Mir made an interesting comment on Twitter in response to a New York Times article about @Hannoverticker account should not be shutdown. He is right that banning access will not solve the issue completely, but I believe this is definitely a place to start a chain reaction.

I honestly believe they should also consider banning the page from U.S. viewership, because in any country or language the Neo-Nazi message is offensive. Where do you stand on this issue? Should the page be taken down for good? Should they ever took precaution to the page in Germany and restricted it? I would love to here your comments.

It’s About Time; Apple Steals Iconic Design of Swiss Railway Clock

Apple is well known for suing anyone who even slightly infringes on any of their designs. However this time around it seems that the tables have been turned with the introduction of the new Apple iPhone 5. SBB, or the Swiss Federal Railway service, is rightly standing their ground after the theft of their clock design that has been a stalwart in Swiss railway stations since Hans Hilfiker, a SBB employee, first created the clock 1944.

Iconic SBB clock that was created by an SBB employee in 1944.

Apple, which sells an average of 645,000 devices a day, has been facing legal issues from the Swiss Federal Railway Service for copyright infringement. Upon the release of the new operating system for Apple, the Apple iOS6, the Swiss Federal Railway service has decided to stand up to the most recognizable brand in the world by threatening to file a lawsuit against Apple for stealing a clock design that has been around for nearly 70 years.

Apple’s iOS6 clock and an official SBB watch from Mondaine

Apple is no stranger to lawsuits as they have been in a battle with Samsung for a period now over their design of the Samsung Galaxy S III. This legal battle is no secret has it has been all over the news, even spilling over to Samsung commercials. Apple has also been in numerous other copyright debates since the introduction of their iPhone and iPad devices first surfaced in order to keep any other competitors from making any similar products. Popular opinion has taken to both sides of the debate:

A company at war with others over patents doesn’t care about design rights. Apple pays out over iOS 6’s Swiss clock-up http://www.zdnet.com/apple-pays-out-over-ios-6s-swiss-clock-up-7000005840/ …

Hey Apple, Did You Steal Too?: Score one for the little guy…if the little guy is a national railway service. http://bit.ly/TY96MG

You can’t build something that looks like something else? Will someone stop the madness? http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-10/15/apple-royalties-swiss-clock …

@counternotions: Samsung to Swiss Federal Railways: “We don’t need to license your clock design when we clone Apple’s.”” Hahaha!

It seems that most people feel that this debate is over an obscure item on the new Apple operating system, however many feel that Apple’s karma of suing other who infringe upon designs is coming back to bite them here. There has even been much talk in technology blogs about the feeling that many of Apple’s designs were not truly original to Apple.

The most important people in the debate are the people in the Swiss railway system, and they are happy that their clock has been chosen to be a part of one of the most selling devices in the world. “SBB isn’t hurt, but proud that his icon of watch design is being used by a globally active and successful business,” an SBB spokesperson told Reuters.

Swiss watch-company, Mondaine, which has licensed the design since 1986 has had mixed opinions about the theft since news came to light. Originally they were upset with the fact that their company had lost exclusivity of the design, but in recent days they have seemed to take pride in the fact that their watch has been taken by a company which will showcase the design on millions of devices for the foreseeable future.  Mondaine co-owner Andre Bernhei said: “Apple shows great taste by choosing this design for their clock on their devices, and now, the owners of Mondaine watches and clocks as well as iPad owners can even enjoy the same distinct design.”

Less than a week ago, Apple announced that they had come to an agreement with SBB over the use of their clock design. Apple will continue to use the SBB design for years to come as they have signed a licensing agreement and paid SBB a sum for the original theft of the design.

While Apple’s theft of the clock design is apparent many Swiss are proud that this cultural symbol is now to be shown on every iPhone and iPad sold worldwide.  Many people worldwide may feel differently about the Swiss jubilation for the fact that Apple has accused so many others of stealing.

As a person who does not own a single Apple product I find that this news does not affect me very much right now. However, with the extreme growth that Apple has shown over recent years, I assume that someday in the future I will own an iPhone or an iPad that will still showcase this timeless design. The theft by Apple is clear, and very ironic for the number of times that they have stirred the legal waters over copyright infringement for someone stealing designs, but those people who bash on Apple for their theft need to let this one go. Apple is happy, the Swiss companies are happy that they have their payout, and me, a non-apple user, is happy that this design will continue to be a part of the fastest growing technology in the world. Each Swiss person should be happy a little piece of Swiss culture will now become an enduring part of the devices that will eventually be in the hands of billions of people throughout the world.


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Expectations of Russian Basketball Players

With the Russian Premier League focusing its attention to international play lately, another topic of discussion and contention in Russian sport is the accumulation of Russian basketball players to the NBA.

The NBA is not only clearly the best basketball league in the world, but it has also been fairly cruel to Russian basketball players. Although the Soviet Union was a basketball power (Golds in the 1972 and 1988 Olympics), much of this was due to the success of Lithuanian players (especially in 1988, Arvydas Sabonis, who went on to have a successful career with the Blazers). When the Soviet Union broke up, Russia stopped having success in basketball and has been an afterthought in the sport since the Dream Team Era began.

The NBA season begins soon, and on the Minnesota Timberwolves roster will most likely be Alexey Shved – a Russian. If he makes the team, he would be just the 3rd Russian player currently in the NBA alongside Andrei Kirilenko and Timofey Mozgov. Unfortunately for Russia, neither of the previously mentioned two have the best reputation. On the court, Kirilenko was a great player, but his career is now waning. Off the court he is known for the deal his wife made with him – Kirilenko is allowed to cheat on her once a year.

Timofey Mozgov has never had any problems off the court, but on the court he is best recognized for being dunked on by Blake Griffin.

Timofey Mosgov Gets Dunked on

Some bloggers even make fun of the 7 Foot 1 Center for his softness on the court and he is nicknamed “Tina-Fey Mozgov.”

Shved has a long way to go to become the kind of player Kirilenko was, but he did score 15 in a pre-season win a few days ago.

On Twitter, reaction to Shved has been positive so far.


One of the reasons that many people don’t trust Russian players to do well is Pavel Podkolzin, a 7 foot 5 center drafted in the first round of the NBA draft – just the second Russian drafted in the 1st round (after Kirilenko). Podkolzin never made an impact in the NBA and now plays in Russia.

Shved is a different player. Russians internationally are known to be big men who play the low post, but are slow and plodding. Shved is a shooter, and if he can have success in the NBA, it could open doors for a different breed of Russian player.