Day 1 in Rio.

Funny mood in the air here – people are anticipating the World Cup and seem excited for the Brazilian squad, but are almost defiantly muted in their preparations for the tournament. Apart from scattered Brazilian flags and the occasional street decorated with yellow-and-green, you wouldn’t even know a major global event was about to take place (contrasted with S Africa, which had a downright festive atmosphere).

The consensus is that this will change as soon as the Cup begins and politics fall aside. Therein lies the most fascinating subplot of the month – the double-edged sword of Brazilian home-field advantage. Massive home crowd… but incredible pressure to win. Can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

Zen in Product Design

"So how can MUJI be good for you? Generally speaking, things are not good for us; too many or too valuable and we are corrupted. But, we all need some things (even Gandhi had a pair of spectacles, some sandals, a bowl, a dish and a pocket watch) and to some extent we are defined by our choices of those things. We may reveal to others in our choice of things that we have good taste or bad taste, expensive taste, cheap taste, modest taste, flashy taste, snobbish taste or not taste at all. Between the moment of choosing and paying for something and the day we no longer have a need for it, there are certain exchanges between the thing and us. The service provided by the thing on the one hand and how we feel about being its owner on the other hand. For some, owning a Ferrari may be the most important thing in life, but is owning something which only a few others can afford good for you? I don’t think so.

There is an English importer of wine which has been selling Bordeaux wine in England for more than 300 years, and besides all the expensive wines that they offer, there’s one which they call “Good Ordinary Bordeaux,” which costs much less than the others but which is fine to drink as an everyday wine. Similarly, the MUJI concept is to make things as well and as cleverly as possible at a reasonable price, for the thing to be “enough” in the best sense of the word, and this kind of “enough” is good for you because it removes status from the product/consumer equation and replaces it with satisfaction. The kind of satisfaction that you have when the money you exchange for the thing is proportional to the value which you receive from the thing, and the thing itself is good at being itself without any pretension of being anything more special.”

— Jasper Morrison, MUJI product designer

I remember reading Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion as an over-imaginative 18-year old and immediately falling in love with the idea of Oregon — in my mind, a magical state with lush forests, flowing rivers, and endless greenery. It turns out that the real Oregon is even better than what I’d expected.

The increasing militarization of our police force is one of the trends I’m most worried about. This Salon piece paints a terrifying picture of cops running around with impunity - using SWAT teams to raid poker games, killing dogs, assaulting peaceful protestors. There needs to be a stricter level of oversight on police actions - otherwise our cops are just thugs with guns, acting with no regard for consequences against the very citizenry they’re intended to protect.