22 February, 2011

It All Started With A Leaf...

(NOTE: hyperlinks and other embellishments coming soon. I just wanted to get this poor languishing mess out there before it got any older.)

No, this is not a documentary about marijuana addiction. That would probably be more entertaining than what you've got here. Certainly more educational, no question. I don't purport to write anything here with the intent to educate, and in reviewing the fine print, it appears I don't even promise to be entertaining. Not that neither of those things never happen here, to be sure (work your way through THAT string of negatives!), but it's almost always by accident. Maybe some find me entertaining because the things that happen to me are usually the type that are always funny when they happen to someone else, and so by definition you should be amused. Perhaps I'm educational in that people learn how to reach success by watching me and doing the opposite. Whatever, it's all bonus. By and large, this blog is only about things I observe and find to be excessively absurd and worth exposing as such. My quixotic hope is that shining the light of reason onto idiots may compel them to rethink their stupidity, or failing that, at least to shrivel and burn like an ant under a magnifying lens.

What I have concluded is that the term "quixotic" could not have been better chosen. What I call "attempting to fight stupidity," pretty much everyone else calls "banging your head against a wall." Ineffective to the point of being pointless.

Case in point, as it were: as a graphic artist, I notice when a design is pinched from somewhere else. In Romania, this is rampant, especially with logos. I've pointed out incidents of blantant copyright theft on local, regional, and even national levels. Has my ranting had any effect? Definitely, if you believe someone took it as a challenge to go even more criminal. Hence, Romania now proudly flaunts its penchant for artistic fraud at the international level.

Its latest tourist campaign sports a leaf design which was revealed to be freely-available clip art already in use by several other companies around the world. On one hand, Romania technically isn't the thief in this case because a third-party PR agency created the logo, and the leaf clipart can be purchased for use by anyone. But on the other hand, the agency was paid nearly 100,000 Euro to produce an original custom design. The PR agency claims that by altering the leaf's shade of green, it's now custom. The sound of rolling eyes was deafening.

I'm not going into any more details of this as I had originally planned, for two reasons. First, this is now old news from last autumn and has been covered with far more detail and objectivity elsewhere on the Net, and can be found with a simple search. Second, by virtue of it being old news from last autumn, the hindsight and retrospect afforded by this has revealed the truth of the matter: nobody cares. There was the usual media fun for a week or so while everyone involved blamed everyone else, but then it faded into the background noise, eventually replaced by news of the new tax on witches. Was anyone held accountable for this farce? Was anyone penalized? Even reprimanded? Damned if I know, or can find out. The country simply shrugged its collective shoulders and went back to really important things, like the cost of cigarettes and who took their parking spot. And Romania continues to present itself to the world with a purloined leaf. And everyone's just fine with that. So it goes.

And with that, I give up.

It seems cautionary tales just don't have the value they used to, faded instead into worthless, if mildly curious, anachronisms like 8-track tapes and phlebotomy. I still believed that there were certain times when advice was preferable to experience. Not all the time, of course... admittedly most things are better assimilated into our learned response because we go through them ourselves. Especially pleasant things... would you rather take someone's word that the cake is delicious, or try it yourself? No-brainer. But now consider the live wire dangling from the utility pole. If someone tells you it's best not to touch it, perhaps the words should be good enough.

The relevance of all this is as follows: how a country is viewed by the rest of the world is mostly, if not entirely, up to that country. The remarkable thing about this is that said international perception is quite often the result of the efforts of a very few people, if not one person altogether. Germany in the 1930s is one example, of course, but my native USA is a more contemporary and relevant example. I grew up reasonably proud of my country. For the most part, the world saw the US as a "benevolent superpower," mighty and prosperous and largely fair in its treatment of the rest of the world. Occasionally stuck its nose where it didn't belong, but even then it's because someone asked us to. But overall, we were "live and let live" and a country worth your being on its good side. Over the past decade I watched one man (which one in particular, is sometimes debatable...but I digress) transform the virtually-unanimous planetary perception of my country into that of an arrogant, reckless, morally and finacially-bankrupt joke, neither giving nor deserving respect of the rest of the world. So maybe when I see the same warning signs popping up in my current adopted homeland, I felt compelled to help them avoid making the same mistakes.

So far the general feeling I get in response seems to range from screaming indifference to "who the hell are you to say?" So be it. So when the latest taste of Romania to hit the global consciousness is its new income tax on the practice of witchcraft, I simply watch as the leaders cry indignantly because the world laughs at them. For you see, clearly the issue isn't taxing witches, it's the audacity of the world news to report it. I doubt the idea even thought of forming that the news pretty much reports only what it sees, and maybe the answer is to give the world something better to see about Romania. But now I'm delving into territory which I know has been explored by those far more capable and experienced than I.

As of this writing, the idiots appear to have won, if for no other reason than their sheer staggering superior numbers. Rather than continue killing myself swimming upstream against the circus, I'm going to crawl ashore and join the collective shrug, watching the insanity rush to its own destiny without me for awhile. What that means for this blog is uncertain at the moment. By swearing off stupidity, I've just shed pretty much the whole reason for writing here. But I never say "never," so who knows? Check back from time to time.


Comments which make me look good will be posted. Hey, if you don't like it, get your own blog!