The Swiss Minaret Ban was big news way back in 2009, and some of the aftershock has been fun to watch. A French-Swiss man put a minaret up on his shoestore, leading local authorities to, uh, shrug:
Meanwhile, The good folks at Archinect sponsored a contest for a rapidly- or otherwise creatively-deployed minaret to get around the ban. The pool of 20 suggestions is here, but I think my favorite is this one:
Claudine Wyssa, the town's acting mayor -- who called Mr. Morand's action infantile -- doesn't think the do-it-yourself project qualifies as a minaret and plans no legal action.
"It doesn't violate the law," she said in an interview. "It has nothing to do with Islam. A minaret needs a mosque. In this case, there isn't one. There's just a shoe warehouse."
Technology: 1, Political Grandstanding: 0
Elsewhere in the design world, EurasiaNet is leading for a postcard initiative to be sent to Yevgenii Zhovtis in jail. He's a journalist in Kazakhstan who is in jail for, um, something or another. The Kazakh justice system hasn't decided what, yet. They give the address and then say that they're sending in postcards of a picture of him. I say, "that's it?" You could do better. Any designers out there with a basic understanding of Kazakh? Give it a shot!
Finally, Seward of Seward's Folly fame went on a world tour after he was done in government work. Tabsir has the low-down, and, as one can expect of a public official in the 19th century with no background knowledge, he comes off kinda dumb:
India has a very imperfect and unsatisfactory civilization, but it never had a better one. The native population could never achieve a better one if left to themselves. Their whole hope of a higher civilization depends on the instruction and aid of the Western nations, and, taking circumstances as they are, that hope depends chiefly on the guidance and aid of Great Britain.Yeah, that stuff don't fly no mo'. But isn't it kind of funny that he comes off sounding exactly like a NYTimes opinion columnist? The lesson: never write about things you don't know about, unless you're willing to look foolish in hindight. And in case you're wondering, yes, I'm willing to look foolish in hindsight.