One idea that’s absurd enough to fit right into Maria Bamford’s comedy — but instead just fits right into life — is a “Print Wikipedia.” Such a thing now exists, thanks to author/artist Michael Mandiberg. According to The Creators Project, the fittingly… creative project physicalizes Wikipedia “by writing software that parses the Wikipedia database in English and lays out thousands of volumes, complete with covers, and then uploads them for print-on-demand.” The New York Times notes (in their piece on Mandiberg’s exhibit at the Lower East Side’s Denny Gallery), that if they were printing all of Wikipedia, it’d total 7,600 volumes; they’re not going quite that far. Speaking of futile but gesturally fascinating undertakings, Mental Floss has posted a piece about how the United States attempted to build stink bombs replicating human flatulence and halitosis for WWII. For obvious reasons, the initial concept didn’t go very far.
Veering into more grave forms of American idiocy, some people are still trying to suggest that flying the Confederate flag isn’t an act of racist antagonism after the Charleston Massacre. In The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:
The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. Take down the flag. Take it down now.
Meanwhile, a flag that was conversely used for social justice has just been adopted by MoMA: the museum has added the rainbow pride flag to its design collection. They also conducted an interview with its creator, Gilbert Baker, in which they discussed vexilography, or, as Gilbert refers to it, “the high science and art and understanding of flags and their history, the academic word for flag making and heraldry.” He spoke of the flag he conceived in San Francisco in 1978:
It was necessary to have the Rainbow Flag because up until that we had the pink triangle from the Nazis—it was the symbol that they would use [to denote gay people]. It came from such a horrible place of murder and holocaust and Hitler. We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things. Plus, it’s a natural flag—it’s from the sky! And even though the rainbow has been used in other ways in vexilography, this use has now far eclipsed any other use that it had…