Last-Minute Gifts for Wonks
FP's shopping guide for would-be statesmen & Snowdens.
Are you still having trouble finding that perfect holiday gift for that worldly know-it-all on your list? Well, if you’re really reading this list for shopping advice, you’ve really left it late. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Behold, FP‘s year-end gifts for geeks.
For the future statesman:
When he touched down in Bali earlier this year for a regional summit, Secretary of State John Kerry donned a traditional Indonesian Batik print shirt. The result was not only hilariousbut also marked what GQ described as "that time John Kerry (indirectly) dressed like Russell Westbrook." But Batik shirts don’t have to be ridiculous. They were a favorite of Nelson Mandela, and the deceased statesman wore them to great effect, looking sharp, care-free, and a little whimsical.
For your hip Zionist pal:
The keffiyeh — the checkered, black and white scarf made famous by Yasser Arafat — has a long history as a troubled fashion object. For some, it’s a symbol of Palestinian resistance. For others, unrepetentant terrorist. For still others, it’s something cool you get at Urban Outfitters. Now comes the latest entry to the radical chic accessory wars: Semitic Swag.
The scarves are an Israeli take on the iconic Arab garment. The "Semitic Keffiyeh" replaces the black and white pattern with the Star of David. There’s also British and American keffiyehs available for sale, each emblazoned with their respective countries’ flags.
For the Carrie Mathieson in your life:
Despise and denounce them as much as you want, but from al Qaeda’s black flag to Hezbollah’s fist of resistance, there’s no denying that terrorist groups have a certain je ne sais quoi. How they managed to do so is a fascinating study in marketing and design. The book Branding Terror: The Logotypes and Iconography of Insurgent Groups and Terrorist Organizations is a beautiful and serious piece of work for the aspiring revolutionary or CIA analyst in your life.
For the aristocratic autocrat:
Continuing on the theme of subversive cool, FP is proud to present to you the most ludicrous potential Christmas present we’ve come across in a while: an $1,800 tea pot in the shape of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. It’s a collaboration between artist Mike Leavitt and Charles Krafft and is a pitch-perfect caricature of the deceased Dear Leader. Or, if you’re a bit sad to have seen him off this year, there’s always Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
For the ever-so-slightly paranoid:
From Edward Snowden’s revelations to President Barack Obama’s highly touted and ultimately empty promises to scale back the drone war, 2013 was a year for surveillance and a year of vindication for everyone sitting around with a proverbial tin hat. As it turns out, in fact, Big Brother is watching. So how can you fight back? One group of designers has become preoccupied with the same question and have come up with a series of garments to help wearers evade surveillance. Among them is a burqa of sorts — and a series of similar garments — that masks its wearer from thermal imaging. Another "stealth wear" device is known as Off Pocket and claims to blocks all transmissions from your cell phone. That said, the NSA’s probably already paid for a back door into that anyway. Buyer beware.
For the world traveler’s coffee table:
In January, FP featured the photography of Jimmy Nelson, who has traveled the world taking astounding portraits of the world’s fast disappearing indigenous groups. That work has now been assembled in an equally astounding coffee table book, Before They Pass Away. It’s a massive, jaw-dropping, limited edition book with beautiful photography from just about far-flung corner of the globe you could ever imagine. Buy this book before it too disappears.
Granted, that’s pretty expensive. But if you still want to see the best of the world each day, might we suggest something a bit more modest?