The Null Device
This just in: NYU professor of culture and communications Mark Miller puts forward the case that George W. Bush is not a moron.
"Bush is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss."
"He has no trouble speaking off the cuff when he's speaking punitively, when he's talking about violence, when he's talking about revenge... It's only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes."
"There's an episode of Happy Days, where The Fonz has to say, `I'm sorry' and can't do it. Same thing," Miller said.
If this is true, what does it say about middle-America's national character that Bush is one of the most popular presidents in history? Perhaps he is the natural leader for a country (and world) habituated to real-life cop shows and action thrillers, for whom the language of violence and vengeance, an eye for an eye, resonates deeply?
Then again. television probably has little to do with it, at least at that end of the causal chain. Perhaps Bush is the classic atavistic alpha-male, the strong, inflexible, vengeful despot whose thuggish charisma is irresistible to the masses and has been throughout time; even some of those who find it intellectually repugnant are drawn to it by a deeper, more primal instinct; they submit, as programmed by millions of years of evolution to do, and accept him as their true leader. The only thing new is that the act is adapted for the age of the soundbite.
A few days ago, on a whim, I decided to see if my old Windows version of Fontographer would run under Wine under Linux. Imagine my surprise when I found that (with a bit of hacking) it runs quite usably. (Some obscure dialogs lock it up, but that's a lot better than the Mac version runs under OSX's Classic mode; which is saying a lot.)
Consequently, I spent some time making another cheap and nasty geometric font, this time based on a type of alphanumeric display used in places like airports and trains. Then I got carried away, did a version based on a malfunctioning display (one that was on the train I caught to Reading on my way to Aberystwyth a few weeks ago, actually), and one showing random pixels, and so on, until I ended up with a five-font set. Which now appears on my rather underdesigned font page. Well, that and an even more dodgy-looking bitmap conversion I did a few years ago.
(This is the font appearing in the title graphic; incidentally, the photograph in the graphic is the view of the countryside out of the window of the train with the malfunctioning display.)