April 04, 2009
Épater la bourgeoisie
Walking back to my house from the mailbox a few minutes ago, I glanced through the usual detritus-to-be and whatnot and espied the new issue of The Economist (above).
The cover crystallized a thought that occurred to me last week, when I read an article about how Rolls-Royce sales in the U.S. — where they start at $380,000 — haven't been affected at all by the economic downturn.
But as the collapse continues and should it become a steady state sort of affair, à la Japan for the past 20 years — I still find it nearly unbelievable that the Nikkei average remains at about one-fifth of its record 1989 high (below) —
the time may come when driving or parking a flash car in many places will expose the owner to real danger to person and/or property.
I foresee a promising market in luxury car conversions that render the vehicles unremarkable from the outside such that only the occupant(s) are aware of the ultra-luxe technology and features inside.
A good first step would be retractable opaque shields outside the windows (including the windshield), making the vehicle visually impenetrable.
Wouldn't hurt in terms of security for items left inside, either.
From the website:
GarlicZoom™ — Simply peel, fill and roll
Stainless steel blades turn out perfectly chopped garlic from your peeled cloves — your hands will thank you later.
Removable stainless steel blade.
Only in England: Department of Sensitive Words
Not a spoof but, rather, an actual part of Majesty's government.
Besides which, Gideon Rachman's Financial Times blog post (below) about it appeared on March 26, so we know it's not an April Fool's joke.
The Department of Sensitive Words
Like many people in Britain, I much enjoyed the BBC’s recent adaptation of Dickens’s “Little Dorrit” - particularly since a lot of the action takes place in FT-land. There is a scene shot under Southwark Bridge and key locations like the Marshalsea and Bleeding Heart Yard still exist - and are just a few minutes walk from our offices.
But the best bits took place in the Circumlocution Office - a government department invented by Dickens that has raised baffling bureaucracy and pointless form-filling into an art form. I had assumed that, with our endlessly modernised, bench-marked and streamlined UK government, this kind of thing was safely consigned to Victorian England.
However, I have now discovered a genuine government department with a title straight out of Dickens - it is the Department of Sensitive Words. This excellent institution has been brought to my attention by a man who is trying to establish a think-tank and to use the word “Institute” in its title. Since my friend is still involved in sensitive negotiations with the Department of Sensitive Words, I have promised not to reveal his identity.
The problem is that Companies House deems certain words as “sensitive” because they are thought to convey an impression of authority or trustworthiness. Institute is one such word; British is another. If you want to use a word like this you have to get special permission from a sub-unit of Companies House - the Department of Sensitive Words, which is based in Swansea.
In true Dickensian style, this is not an easy process. Companies House does provide a few guidelines on sensitivity on its web-site (it's chapter three). But there is no form you can fill in and no obvious criteria to fulfill. But this is probably for the best. You don’t want any old person calling themselves “British” or “Institute”.
BIboj* — catchy, what?
*British Institute of bookofjoe
Made from a single piece of wood.
10 x 10 = 100 matches; 4" high.
BehindTheMedspeak: The best way to find moving head lice
Long study short: In a population of primary schoolchildren with persistent lice infestation, the odds of finding moving lice (above, a louse) are three times better if you wet the hair first and then run a fine-toothed comb through it than if you simply look at the scalp.
A study appearing in the Evidence-Based Dermatology section of the March 2009 issue of Archives of Dermatology has the details; its abstract follows.
Accuracy of Diagnosis of Pediculosis Capitis
Visual Inspection vs Wet Combing
Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(3):309-313.
Objective To determine the diagnostic accuracy of visual inspection and wet combing in pediculosis capitis (head lice infestation). Visual inspection of 5 predilection sites (temples, behind the ears, and neck) was performed first, followed by wet combing of hair moistened with conditioner. Presence of mobile stages was defined as active infestation, presence of nits alone as historic infestation.
Design Observer-blinded comparison of 2 diagnostic methods.
Setting Five primary schools in which head lice infestation was epidemic.
Participants A total of 304 students aged 6 to 12 years.
Main Outcome Measures Presence of nymph, adults, and nits; sensitivity, predictive value, and accuracy of both methods.
Results Visual inspection underestimated the true prevalence of active infestation by a factor of 3.5. The sensitivity of wet combing in diagnosing active infestation was significantly higher than of visual inspection (90.5% vs 28.6%; P < .001). The accuracy of the former method was 99.3% and that of the latter method, 95%. In contrast, visual inspection had a higher sensitivity for the diagnosis of historic infestation (86.1% vs 68.4%; P < .001).
Conclusions Wet combing is a very accurate method to diagnose active head lice infestation. Visual inspection is the method of choice, if one aims to determine the frequency of carriers of eggs or nits.
Author Affiliations: Unit of Child and Adolescent Health, City Health Department, Braunschweig, Germany (Dr Jahnke); Institute of Microbiology und Hygiene, Charité University Medicine, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany (Drs Bauer and Feldmeier); and Department of Dermatology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany (Dr Hengge).
Braille Wine Label
"Lazarus Wine is made by people who are blind and uses the Braille alphabet."
Designed by Madrid-based agency Baud.
Namechk: Search 84 websites to find open user names — in 8 seconds
Can you do that?
Didn't think so.
The site went live this past Wednesday.
Free, the way we like it.
Tank Top Tote