Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

August 2006

GeneralWednesday, August 30th, 2006, (6:03 pm)

This Friday I’ll board a transatlantic flight to America. With new restrictions in place it’s difficult to know how easy or hard that might be, but now it seems that I might also have to be careful not to wear something that might offend.

On August 12th an Iraqi born US resident tried to board a plane from JFK to California wearing a black t-shirt with white arabic and English writing that read “We will not be silent.”

Raed Jarrar was asked by security personal and a member of the Jet Blue airline to change his attire before he flew because the t-shirt was “people are feeling offended.”

When Jarrar was asked to change his t-shirt he asked “How come you are asking me to change my t-shirt? Isn’t this my constitutional right to wear it? I am ready to change it if you tell me why I should. Do you have an order against Arabic t-shirts? Is there such a law against Arabic script?” The answer he was given by one of the security personnel was “You can’t wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads “I am a robber” and going to a bank”.

The t-shirt was purchased in Washington DC and is one of thousands printed in several different languages. Similar, and indeed more pointed t-shirts are readily available for purchases in stores and online.

Jarrar was told by one of the security personnel. “We cant make sure that your t-shirt means we will not be silent, we don’t have a translator. Maybe it means something else”. Despite the phrase also appearing in English the security personnel insisted he change because the airline didn’t have translators to hand and “anything in Arabic is suspicious because maybe it’ll mean something bad.”

Jet Blue offered to compromise by buying a new t-shirt for Mr Jarrer who was by now surrounded by security staff one of whom apparently said “Let’s end this the nice way”. At this point Jarrer decided to let Jet Blue buy him a new t-shirt so that he could go on his way. The Jet Blue staff member then asked him what kind of t-shirt she should buy him and suggested a ‘I heart NY’ t-shirt to which one of the security personal reportedly said “No, we shouldn’t ask him to go from one extreme to another.”

“I feel very sad that my personal freedom was taken away like this. I grew up under authoritarian governments in the Middle East, and one of the reasons I chose to move to the US was that I don’t want an officer to make me change my t-shirt.” Jarrer said.

It is precisely this kind of xenophobic ignorance that saddens me so much about the so called ‘land of the free’, a term that seems more ironic than iconic in recent times.

Arabic T-shirt sparks airport row
Raed Jarrar’s blog
Tell JetBlue what you think of this
Buy one of the “offensive” shirts

Faith & Religion and Found on the webMonday, August 28th, 2006, (12:55 pm)

At first when I looked at this website I simply assumed it was a joke, and a funny one at that. But as I investigated further I started to wonder whether or not it was actually the real deal. In disbelief I wondered to myself if there are really people in the world with taste this bad?

Any child who is made to wear these hideous pajamas is surely going to grow up with some serious problems, or at the very least a really screwed up taste.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that the site is indeed the real deal, and that it has enjoyed much coverage over the past week or so both on and offline, even getting mentioned on NPR.

There is no information on just how many orders for armor have been taken but according to the site the companies desire is “to grow into a well-known Christian Organization whose main goal is to reach as many children as possible by providing the Word of God, offering top quality products and excellent customer service along with offering parents the means and support to help their children grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

Apparently Armor Of God PJ’s were “inspired by a mother reading Ephesians 6:10-18 every night to her daughter to give her a safe and secure feeling in the dark. As they read the scriptures, they put on each spiritual and powerful piece of the Armor of God to keep them safe and peaceful while they slept.”

Now that scene in itself is probably common enough among the God fearing folk of the world, but for Florida mom, Peggy Wakefield, this sparked what she might argue was the ‘divine inspiration’ that brought the world ‘Armor of God’ pajamas.

“God gave me the idea how wonderful it would be if all children could have the opportunity to put on a pair of pajamas that symbolized the Armor of God for the same purpose that with their belief in Jesus and His protection they will feel safe and secure during the night as they sleep. As they dress in the mornings, they should replace them with the spiritual Armor of God to protect them in their daily activities.” Says Peggy.

For around $50 the pajama set will transform a normal looking child into something that resembles a cross between a crazed England soccer fan and a White Knight of the Klu Klux Klan.

The pajama set includes a top with breastplate of righteousness and belt of truth hem, pajama pants with wings of peace to cover feet, a helmet of salvation, a shield of faith pillow, and a sword of the spirit, and an activity coloring book. You even get a free copy of the New Testament with every order of PJ’s!

It might be a crazy idea and a celebration of off the wall taste, but the really scary thing is that there may well be enough people out there who think this is a great idea to make the Armor of God a success.

Armor of God pj’s

GeneralThursday, August 24th, 2006, (12:09 pm)

Regulars readers may recall that in late June I got a letter addressed to Rev. Simon Jones with the job title of ‘Senior whip cracker and tea boy.’ Well, you may now refer to me as Rabbi Simon Jones.

Of course I am neither a Rabbi or a Reverend, but to the kind folks at the marketing department of ‘Original Source‘ I am indeed a man of the cloth.

I became a Rabbi while filling in an online form for a free sample of ‘Original Source’ shower gel. I could have chosen from a variety of interesting titles including Captain, Major, Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Professor, Reverend, Sir, or Lord. Well come on, if they put a list of titles like that in a drop down menu the joker in me just has to choose one!

This does have a rather interesting side effect though. Now if I get any more mail addressed to the good Rabbi I will know exactly where they obtained my address from. I shouldn’t get any junk mail though because I specified that I only wanted the free sample and not tons of junk mail, plus I am on the UK’s mailing preference list, a service which prevents you from getting junk mail which is a common problem shared by many. (See my post about how to stop junk mail)

The free sample was only small, but hey, it was free! At the same time I also found a link to request a free sample of Lacoste cologne, but after filling out yet another long form that sample has yet to appear and frankly its been a while now so I doubt it ever will.

Found on the webThursday, August 24th, 2006, (11:32 am)

Mobile phone developers in Japan develop an original way of displaying a phones current battery level using a ‘water level’ and a motion sensor.

The N702is by NEC and Japanese mobile network NNT DoCoMo uses a motion sensor combined with a graphical ‘liquid’ level indicator to show the user the phones current battery level when the phones screen saver is active. The ‘water’ level of the screen directly relates to the amount of power there is left in the battery, the lower the battery gets, the lower the ‘water’ level gets.

Using the 3G phones triple-axel speed motion sensors, the on screen ‘liquid’ reacts to movement just as it would in any container. Bubbles appear when a call or text message is received. Other features include an ‘hourglass’ that is activated when the phone is stood up then turned over as well as alarm clock that can be switched off by shaking the phone. The phone also allows the user to ‘pour’ (via bluetooth I assume) information from one handset to another when the phone is lean it towards another handset.

Although the phone is available in three colors, ‘Mineral Water,’ ‘Cafe Latte,’ and ‘Strawberry Milk’ it is currently only on sale in Japan.

Creative MediaMonday, August 21st, 2006, (4:00 pm)

Each and every single day we are bombarded by an almost uncountable number of advertisements be that on TV, posters, magazines, billboards or wherever, ads are everywhere. But while we pay little attention to many of them (though this doesn’t negate their actual power or effect) there are a few that really jump out at you.

I’ve always had an interest in the art of advertising, ever since I was a young boy when I would draw ads myself, or design record covers for an imaginary band called ‘The Mad Hatters’. The art of truly engaging advertising has never been lost on me. I like things that stop you and make you think, and that is what the best kind of advertising does in my opinion.

The picture above appeared in Japan and had a tag-line “Africa could use fewer guns and more food.”

Appealing to our humor and connecting with everyones ability to forget things, the two ads above stopped me cause I was puzzled as to what a business would have such an odd name. The penny dropped when I read the strap-line.

A book will never let you down” explains a Booksplus ad. The right hand page of the pictured book is displaying the words “This page cannot be displayed” in the style of a page that anyone who has used the internet will have seen enough to relate with how frustrating that can be. The idea point is illustrated very well. Come buy a book made of paper that doesn’t require power and can be taken anywhere. Clever stuff.

The two ads above are really striking and beautifully subtle in communicating a powerful message. state on the strap-line “It’s not always obvious who needs our help.”

Above: I’m not entirely sure where these signs were placed, but they are subtle in making the point that it’s not convenient to have a disability. I once knew a disabled person who would carry large stickers that he would paste onto the window of anyone who was not disabled and parked in a disabled parking space. The sticker, which would be very time consuming to remove, read “You like my parking space, but would you like my disability?”

Below: Imaginative advertising from the BBC in America. The poster wraps around a wall and shows a picture that see from one side might communicate one impression, but a completely different impression from another, it’s only when you step back from the corner and see the complete picture do you see the entire scene without distortion. “See both sides of the story” reads the text across the picture, and the point should be obvious.

PhotographySunday, August 20th, 2006, (8:51 pm)

A young boy points his camera into the mouth of a crocodile in India taking a daring shot as another photographer takes a photograph of the pair face to face.

I can’t tell you much about this picture, only that it is the work of Sharad Haksar, a photographer from India. I saw the photograph this weekend while browsing magazines in Borders. It’s an amazing shot that captures the bravery and innocence of youth in a frighteningly dangerous fashion. But after an extensive search online, I can find no more detail about the picture so the story behind it will, for the time being at least, remain a mystery.

Sharad Haksar
A soft drink giant, a photographer, and artistic license

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