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What Is This Thing, Really?

[1]

This awful thing is the new logo for the University of California system. James Fallows is distraught [2], saying he will never, ever buy anything with this ugly logo on it. I can’t blame him a bit. Who on earth thought this thing was attractive?

What does it look like? It looks like a depleted boiled sausage at the bottom of a pot. It looks like a turd making the final swirl before extinction. It looks like the tongue of some docile creature, rolling in its mouth. It looks like … what?

UPDATE: A reader who works for the University of California system, and who hates the logo, reports personal knowledge that the designer of the logo, and her family, have received death threats over the thing. Good grief.

By the way, I happen to think No. 6 on John Leo’s “What is this thing, really?” list [3] is the best.

And, remember this massive screw-up [4] over a corporate logo? One of our readers does, and passed it along.

 

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50 Comments To "What Is This Thing, Really?"

#1 Comment By The Sicilian Woman On December 11, 2012 @ 10:22 am

It’s a fitting symbol of the crap that comes out of higher education these days, and worse, publicly-funded higher education.

Other than that, it could like like a logo for a baby product.

#2 Comment By Roger McCarthy On December 11, 2012 @ 10:24 am

Do you really want us to point out to you that it most resembles a stylised flaccid male organ attempting an Ourobouros manever

Sorry but you did ask and some of our minds are not as pure as yours….

#3 Comment By Thomas Andrews On December 11, 2012 @ 10:26 am

It looks exactly like what it is:
Somebody was paid far too much money to ‘create’ something unnecessary.
I suggest that this is one example of ‘decadence’ on which all of us could agree.

Sheesh. Oh, since you asked: It reminds me of the view under the tree of what was happening to the big cats running around faster and faster. Butter! (seriously edited for PC sensibilities there, sorry).

#4 Comment By Noah172 On December 11, 2012 @ 10:29 am

I love how the golden C is fading away in a sea of blue (the contemporary color of the Democrats). How fitting for California.

#5 Comment By stillaninterestedobserver On December 11, 2012 @ 10:41 am

As a proud UC grad (BA and MA) and longtime employee of the larger system…yeah. Sorry, folks.

(Rod: will send you a little more info — utterly secondhand — shortly.)

#6 Comment By Tyro On December 11, 2012 @ 10:45 am

There’s an interesting parallel here with the banking industry. In the past, banks and universities both needed to project an image of utmost stability and longevity, and their buildings and logos reflected this: solid stone or brick structures and logos that reflected a long tradition, letting customers and students know that this place was not going to go away anytime soon. Somewhere along the line, both institutions got the idea that they had to be “modern”, “agile”, and “dynamic”, and repackaged themselves to reflect that. Out with the Queen Ann Furniture and solid construction, in with the open-office floor plans of Ikea desks and office park facilities (even satellite branches of universities are sited in office parks these days).

The logo is just the latest attempt at a rebranding effort to make UC seem like it is hip with the times and up to modern corporate standards of “dynamism.” I’ve seen some people make a comparison between the logo change and the “restoration” of “Ecce Homo”.

#7 Comment By Evgeni On December 11, 2012 @ 10:48 am

A similar discussion is going on at the University of Dallas. Perhaps the national discussion of the UC situation can inform life inside “the bubble.”

#8 Comment By stillaninterestedobserver On December 11, 2012 @ 10:49 am

Will add quickly, though, that anyone using this as an excuse to pile on California again — hey, if you’re from the state, one self-flagellating Victor Davis Hanson ‘woe is us!’ moper is enough. MORE than enough. And if you’re not from the state, trust me, wherever you’re at isn’t perfect either! (Though I will of course completely defer to Rod and Louisiana when it comes to Cajun cuisine, like any sane person would.)

#9 Comment By Sam M On December 11, 2012 @ 10:50 am

The top looks like some kind of cresting whale. Which could be cool, I guess. But the bottom… like maybe the flushed turd was dumped directly into the ocean and landed on the whale? Or the whale is being eaten by an aging, toothless PacMan? I guess it could be a boogie board being ridden by a turd, too.

#10 Comment By baconboy On December 11, 2012 @ 10:50 am

With grade inflation, it might be the only C some of those students will ever see.

#11 Comment By M_Young On December 11, 2012 @ 10:50 am

@Noah

Well played, sir!

#12 Comment By jaybird On December 11, 2012 @ 10:50 am

It looks like … what?

A logo for a glorified day-care center, or maybe a iPod-sex-toy peripheral.

#13 Comment By M_Young On December 11, 2012 @ 10:54 am

Berk grads are going to have a fit — the blue here is most like UCLA’s infamous ‘powder blue’. (All UCs have blue — for Yale blue whence the first faculty came– and gold as colors, but many differentiate the blue in some way.)

#14 Comment By M_Young On December 11, 2012 @ 10:57 am

Really, this is of a piece with ‘[email protected]’, academics trying to be ‘hip’ by looking to the internet for symbols and signs (in this case, the thing looks like a twitter/facebook logo.)

Where’s Umberto Eco when you need him?

#15 Comment By Mark Brown On December 11, 2012 @ 11:03 am

Aw, if you want a very simple modern thing it isn’t that bad. The top reflects an open book. The blue field is perfectly in tune with California as the ocean and sky just are different on the left coast. The yellow “C” is picks up the golden state connections. And the whole construction is peppy and zingy in a modern way. And lets face it erasing any connection to the past, even of 10 mins ago, is exactly what the modern left is about, so just an airy and light symbol is perfect.

The only question I’d have: why the disappearing C? I think most people start at the top, so it is not an appearing C but a disappearing. A college might like to think they are in the business of formation, but the C says otherwise. It says we take in real people and make them disappear. An unintended nod to reality?

[Note from Rod: Oh, I know what they intend by the logo … but it doesn’t look like what they think it looks like. — RD]

#16 Comment By James On December 11, 2012 @ 11:10 am

It looks like a graphic arts department #fail.

#17 Comment By Les Bollinger On December 11, 2012 @ 11:15 am

I’m an Old Blue (’79) and I am flabbergasted over this insipid design! I will not open any mail that comes to me with this logo on it, let alone wear anything with displaying it.

#18 Comment By Chris 1 On December 11, 2012 @ 11:23 am

It’s a fitting symbol of the crap that comes out of higher education these days, and worse, publicly-funded higher education.

Correction: Publicly de-funded higher education.

Does properly reflect how Americans value education these days…instead of UC it could be used as a universal sign for “flush the toilet when you’re done.”

#19 Comment By elvisd On December 11, 2012 @ 11:25 am

It symbolizes the willful self-extinction, the self-loathing of the modern progressive. The erasure of the “C” is their long-sought after end as they make way for the triumph of the Other.

#20 Comment By Charles Cosimano On December 11, 2012 @ 11:36 am

It clearly represents the impotence of academia.

#21 Comment By Tyro On December 11, 2012 @ 11:48 am

The erasure of the “C” is their long-sought after end as they make way for the triumph of the Other.

The conservative fixation on obsession over who is their next target as the “Other” singled out for ostracism or not being a “real American” never ceases to amaze me. It is also a reminder about how what my teachers taught were “American values” were nothing of the sort– my teachers just wanted to protect us from how dark and warped most people are when it comes to their tribalism, even in an immigrant nation like the USA.

#22 Comment By icarusr On December 11, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

A stylised sperm in a hipster condom?

#23 Comment By Michelle On December 11, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

It represents the triumph of marketing mentality over all else in higher education. The powers-that-be obviously decided that U.C. needed to be “re-branded” to appear hipper, cooler, and more up-to-date. It never occurred to them that education is not yet another product to be sold, a commodity like anything else.

As a UC grad, I’m deeply offended by the thing, as are a lot of other alumni and students. Hopefully, their protests will resonate with the powers-that-be and this thing will be killed before it gets a chance to proliferate.

For the record, I agree with the person who thinks it looks like a whale tail.

#24 Comment By siliconValleySteve On December 11, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

As a tuition paying UC Davis Dad, it just looks like one more total waste of money. Since UC tuition is still lower than private, I guess I just better keep my mouth shut until my kids are out but it would be easy to cut UC costs if anyone really wanted to. I don’t however trust the administrators to cut fat instead of muscle.

Jerry Brown is starting to be critical of UC spending however. Hopefully he will use this as an example of waste.

#25 Comment By jaybird On December 11, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

Actually, the disappearing “c” looks a lot like one of the little “progress wheels” when Chrome, Firefox and a million other apps freeze up in the middle of a download or whatever. Maybe an appropriate visual metaphor, given the role college plays in extended adolescence/avoiding adult responsibilities these days.

#26 Comment By Joshua On December 11, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

It looks like a frozen loading symbol, perhaps just before a system crash…

#27 Comment By lowinformationvoter On December 11, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

As a Pac-12 person, my first thought was “UCLA”

#28 Comment By Darth Thulhu On December 11, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

It looks like:

The tail of the monkey sinking into the vat of acid that has dissolved the rest of the monkey. Just what I needed to see before eating lunch. Yum!

#29 Comment By Brent Temple On December 11, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

It looks like a commode in a public bathroom, with the seat incorrectly installed. I guess it could represent the disappearance of skilled craftsmen.

#30 Comment By Chris Jones On December 11, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

That’s horrid. I’m with Fallows: I will never buy or wear anything bearing that awful device.

Chris Jones
Berkeley ’75

#31 Comment By Sean On December 11, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

Mark Yudof and most of the rest of the current UC Board of Regents has to go. What has been their legacy? Skyrocketing tuition, the beating of students peacefully protesting, and now this abomination.

#32 Comment By David J. White On December 11, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

A college might like to think they are in the business of formation, but the C says otherwise. It says we take in real people and make them disappear.

Since gold as a color has long been associated with money, maybe disappearing golden C symbolizes the gradual vanishing of state funding for higher education.

#33 Comment By gooberwilly On December 11, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

Its a fading California Yellow into a nice lulling United Nations blue. How fitting.

#34 Comment By WhollyRoamin On December 11, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

I don’t know what I think. The video hasn’t finished loading, it looks like it’s stalled out a little over halfway.

#35 Comment By MikeS On December 11, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

It looks like a worm at the bottom of the beer glass after the fizz has gone and the liquid has cleared up.

#36 Comment By Noah172 On December 11, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

In its ugliness and color scheme, this logo reminds me of the Coalition Provisonal Authority’s proposed Iraqi flag of 2004:

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Take a wild guess as to what many Iraqi opponents of the idea compared it.

#37 Comment By St. Gaudens On December 11, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

I think I’ve got it: if you tilt your head to the left until it is nearly perpendicular to the floor you will see … how to describe it? … the thickly haloed head of a saint, an abstract Virgin, or, better, an alien godling descending from the Sun, all cunningly rendered in the national colors of Ukraine!

I can’t think of a more suitable logo for the UC system.

#38 Comment By Richard Johnson On December 11, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

Two words…toilet seat.

#39 Comment By Glaivester On December 11, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

It looks like…

It’s got the electrolytes plants crave!

#40 Comment By Glaivester On December 11, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

The conservative fixation on obsession over who is their next target as the “Other” singled out for ostracism or not being a “real American” never ceases to amaze me.

The leftist fixation on obsession on romanticizing and showing favoritism toward the “Other” never ceases to amaze me.

#41 Comment By elvisd On December 11, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

The erasure of the “C” is their long-sought after end as they make way for the triumph of the Other.

The conservative fixation on obsession over who is their next target as the “Other” singled out for ostracism or not being a “real American” never ceases to amaze me. It is also a reminder about how what my teachers taught were “American values” were nothing of the sort– my teachers just wanted to protect us from how dark and warped most people are when it comes to their tribalism, even in an immigrant nation like the USA.

Chill out, dude. It was the left who cooked up the “Other” business in the first place. Learn to spot a parody. And don’t tell me that the left hasn’t raised self loathing of their “privilage” to an almost snobbish pedigree.

#42 Comment By Nick K. On December 11, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

Denatured and meaningless, just like everything these days.

#43 Comment By Judith On December 11, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

The same thing has happened at Indiana University. The former seal has been replaced with an ugly dumb sports symbol that has a vaguely dumb erotic appearance. I feel as James Fallows does. I’ll never allow that ugly thing on anything I own, and I’m saving every business card that still has the lovely Latin imprimatur that we are no longer allowed to use.

#44 Comment By Jeffersonian On December 11, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

It looks like the calligrapher ran out of ink.

#45 Comment By Tyro On December 11, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

Unless Glaivester is somehow directly related to the founders of the UC system or, at the very least, a direct descendent of California residents during its founding, I fail to see how he is not himself The Other who is using the system for his own ends. Which was exactly the intent of the UC system in any case, it’s just that Glaivester thinks that some Others are more equal than other ones.

I myself had aspirations to attend a UC for graduate school despite not being a California resident and despite not even having had family in America when the system was founded. As I was rejected from one the flagship campuses and felt the quality of the programs at the other campuses did not meet my needs, I went elsewhere, but at no time did I perceive myself or any of the other attendees as illegitimate interlopers on the system. Glaivester is being a bit coy regarding who he believes are the “rightful” members of the UC System and who are the Others, though.

#46 Comment By M_Young On December 11, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

I know I don’t agree with Chris_1 on anything but his is the bestest interpretation yet.

#47 Comment By M_Young On December 11, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

” an immigrant nation like the USA.”

‘Immigrant nation’ is an oxymoron, seeing as how ‘nation’ comes from the Latin ‘to be born’, as in people born in the same country.

And practically speaking, since approximately 3/4 of the citizenry are neither immigrants nor children of immigrants, ‘immigrant nation’ is just plain wrong.

#48 Comment By M_Young On December 11, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

Tyro, the social capital that my parents built up through their taxes, in the form of the UC system, is now being enjoyed in great measure by students whose grandparents, and even parents, contributed little or nothing to the project, seeing as how they were in Seoul or Shanghai or Oaxaca.

That’s the ‘Other’.

#49 Comment By Glaivester On December 11, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

Unless Glaivester is somehow directly related to the founders of the UC system or, at the very least, a direct descendent of California residents during its founding, I fail to see how he is not himself The Other who is using the system for his own ends.

No, but I also have never gone to the University of California, so I can hardly be accused of using this system.

In any case, I never said that “the other” is bad or should be hated, just that leftists tend to think that “the other” is always better and should be given the benefit of the doubt, while “non-other” should not (e.g. traditional American culture is always suspect, whereas foreign cultures should always be given the benefit of the doubt).

#50 Comment By Quiddity On December 12, 2012 @ 6:07 am

The fade in the letter “C” is what bugs me the most. Make that solid, bring down the top of the “U” (and create a gab in proportion the inside-circle of the “C”) and you’ve got something.