« December 10, 2004 | Main | December 12, 2004 »

December 11, 2004

Coffin Bag


It's come to my attention that there are many Goth Girl joeheads.

So, here's a little something just for you.

Very Morticia Adams, if I do say so myself.

This 10" x 5" x 3" purse has a soft, faux velvet interior "to help your valuables rest peacefully."

Removable, adjustable vinyl strap goes nicely over your shoulder.

There's even a little oval mirror on the inside for touch-ups, or "to determine if your tall, dark and handsome date is really a vampire."

The corners are protected by metal fittings, and "instead of being nailed shut, it closes with a sturdy latch."

$28.50 here.

"Never have mortality and vanity been packaged together so well."

December 11, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RoboRoach and PoultryBot


An international team of scientists recently unveiled "RoboRoach," a robotic cockroach (above).

The purpose of the exercise?

To study "collective intelligence."

Roaches, ants, bees and many other creatures are gregarious and share a kind of mob intellect, said Dr. José Halloy, senior research scientist at the Free University of Brussels.

The researchers have found a chemical blend that smells "roach-ish" enough for the imposters to trick real roaches into believing they are part of the group, and even to modify roach group behavior by getting them (the real roaches) to follow them from dark to light places, a very impressive accomplishment.

The scientists say they are also making progress with chickens, which exhibit a destructive "panic behavior" that might be calmed with poultrybots.

"That's the dream," Dr. Halloy said.

"But, of course, we are far away from that."

Dr. Eric Bonabeau, a member of the consortium working on the project, is also chairman of Icosystem, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Paris, that is exploring swarm technology "for military purposes."

The link above has great slide shows


and videos of the RoboRoaches strutting their stuff.

[via John Schwartz and the New York Times]

December 11, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On being objective


Lester Markel was the autonomous czar who ran the New York Times's Sunday sections for some 40 years, from 1924 to 1964.

He wrote:

    The reporter, the most objective reporter, collects fifty facts. Out of the fifty facts he selects twelve to include in his story. Thus he discards thirty-eight. This is Judgment Number One.

    Then the reporter or editor decides which of the facts shall be the first paragraph of the story, thus emphasizing one fact above the other eleven. This is Judgment Number Two.

    Then the editor decides whether the story shall be placed on Page One or Page Twelve; on Page One it will command many times the attention it would on Page Twelve. This is Judgment Number Three.

    This so-called factual presentation is thus subjected to three judgments, all of them most humanly and most ungodly made.

To all who believe that they are "objective" I say, you are fooling yourself.

Moreover, in your attempts to eliminate emotion and subjectivity from your decisions, you are apt to wreak havoc both upon yourself and those who suffer the consequences of your so-called good judgment.

Be human and be real.

You'll be far better off in the end.


[via Daniel Okrent and the New York Times]

December 11, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Cosmetic Acupuncture


It's called a "Non-Surgical Facelift" by its practitioners, but is there really any there there?

More and more people are signing up: it costs about $1,200-$1,800 for a series of 10-12 treatments over 5-6 weeks.

That's less than one-quarter the cost of the average face lift.

And don't forget, you don't have to lie still for days or weeks afterward, all black and blue.

And you don't run the risk of botulism, recently associated with Botox use.

Each acupuncture session takes about an hour and involves 60-70 needles.


I've had acupuncture (for a herniated cervical disc) - the needles don't hurt like a regular needle stick.

The results of the non-invasive procedure (well, I guess acupuncture can be considered "non-invasive" in comparison to facial plastic surgery, though the needles do, of course, "invade" the body) last 3-5 years.

But don't fool yourself: a first face-lift is not a last - or lasting - one.

You have to keep going back, perhaps every 10-15 years, for redos.

And if you continue that process and live long enough, eventually you'll end up like Mary Tyler Moore, looking Chinese with your eyes right in front of your ears and an expression of perpetual surprise frozen on your face.

Predictably, plastic surgeons scoff at the acupuncturists, but the people who've gone the non-surgical route rave about it.

Here's Olivia Barker's story from last Tuesday's USA Today.

    Acupuncture Gets a Face Lift And Much More

    In their never-ending quest to combat sags, bags and lines, age-conscious Americans are turning their bodies into pincushions.

    Forget the knife and syringe. The tool of choice for a growing number of wrinkle-phobes is a needle - scores of them.

    Cosmetic acupuncture practitioners and patients swear by the results: Foreheads are smoothed, tummies tucked, breasts lifted and double chins become single once again.

    And as tales of botched Botox injections spread - the lawsuit filed by a sickened Beverly Hills socialite; at least four Botox recipients now seriously ill with botulism - acupuncturists say their non-toxic technique is proving ever more alluring.

    "A lot of women are just afraid," says Martha Lucas, who says the number seeking treatment has quadrupled since she opened her Denver practice three years ago. (Lucas guesses that the number going under the needle nationally constitutes a "small fraction" of the more than 128,000 Americans who, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, had face lifts in 2003.)

    "They don't want to take the chance they're going to come out not only with an ice bag on but with some potentially more serious side effect."

    And there's the argument that cosmetic acupuncture, like traditional acupuncture, takes a holistic approach to treatment, so not only do eyebrows unfurrow, but "you feel better overall," says Christine Kleinschmidt, who practices in St. Louis.

    "You're sleeping better, you've got more energy and better digestion.... It's not just skin-deep."

    Physicians find the fountain-of-youth claims far-fetched.

    "To be fair, most people look better after a good night's sleep, after a vacation or after being outside in fresh air, so I'm not saying there can't be some benefit," says ASPS president Scott Spear.

    But "I personally have not seen any evidence that cosmetic acupuncture has any significant or long-term benefits."

    Lucas' protocol of 10 treatments over five weeks goes for $1,200, less than one-quarter of the cost of the average face lift, although the results, which Lucas says last three to five years, are far from permanent.

    Each session takes 45 to 60 minutes and involves 60 to 70 needles.

    Kleinschmidt charges $1,800 for a typical course of 12 treatments, not including monthly or bimonthly maintenance sessions.

    MaryAgnes Klock calls Lucas a "miracle worker."

    The Dallas resident says her jowls are gone, her eyelids aren't drooping, and she has dropped 35 pounds.

    Klock, who works in sales, won't divulge her age, but she will say that the other day someone guessed she was 40.

    Acupuncturists say that while business is busy for weddings and holidays, the future lies in preventive procedures.

    "I wish I'd known," Klock says. "I would have had it done in my 30s."

December 11, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dog Umbrella


These won't last long once they've made an appearance here.

For only $15.29, you can be the first - and last - on your block to keep Fifi dry while you walk her.

Stylish, what?

If you weren't getting enough of a social life with your dog as your wingman - wingdog? - this will surely do the trick.

From the website:

    The Pet Umbrella [I guess you could use it with your cat, raccoon, whatever - but I digress] keeps your pet dry and comfortable in the rain, sleet or snow.

    Features include a clear oblong arc trimmed with classic plaid waterproof fabric and ergonomic, angled handle with padded comfort grip.

    An umbrella leash with hook attaches easily and quickly to your pet's collar or harness.

    Clear umbrella body allows full view of pet.

    Dimensions: 24" diameter x 15" deep with a 13" leash.

What's your problem?

Why haven't you already ordered?

I mean, I can't come there in person - at least, not until I sort out this holodeck thing - and do it for you.

[via Popgadget]

December 11, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



You can help.

Yes, you and your little computer can play a part, albeit minuscule, in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

"SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. You participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data."

What's not to like?

The project started on May 18, 1999, and is still looking for the first indication that there's somebody - or something - out there.

Could happen today.


Ya never know.

December 11, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Andy Warhol for... 50 cents?



That's how much each of the four Warhol-esque Campbell Soup cans pictured above cost when you purchased them at Giant Eagle Supermarkets in Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania this past April.

The company made 75,000 sets of four (you had to buy a set for $2 - no individual cans were sold).

They're real cans of tomato soup, by the way.

Anyhow, some have ended up at Howdy Do, a store in Manhattan (72 East Seventh Street [First Avenue] in the East Village, tel. 212-979-1618).

There they've been marked up 1,000% - to $20 for a set of four.

Once those're gone, it's eBay time.

Oh, yeah: just so's you have a yardstick for these things: a 20" x 16" 1962 painting on canvas by Warhol of a Campbell's Soup Can was sold at auction by Christie's last year for $2,415,500.

[via Marianne Rohrlich and the New York Times]

December 11, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'They'd prefer to spend $500,000 here or at auction on something they could buy privately for $50,000. These people are traders, and they're incredibly savvy about markets.'


I went back and had a close look at this quotation from Amy Cappellazzo, co-head of contemporary art for Christie's Worldwide.

Yes, that's precisely what she said in a story that appeared in this past Monday's New York Times story about Art Basel Miami Beach, happening as you read this.

Now, you may recall my recent piece about the new magazine Trader Monthly.


A fellow with a blog called "Tradermike" wrote a scathing critique of my post: he found my comments "dumb," "nonsense," and closed his with, "Your ignorance is a nightmare."

But I must say that I loved the title of his post: "The Miseducation of bookofjoe."

Just loved it. But I digress.

Back to Amy Cappellazzo's comment which heads this post: "These people are traders, and they're incredibly savvy about markets."

So being "incredibly savvy" means paying a half-million dollars for something you could buy for one-tenth the price?

I mean, I thought I knew what arbitrage meant, but I guess not.

If this is what traders do, it's no wonder there are so many former traders.

What a joke.

It'd be funny if it weren't true.

December 11, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

« December 10, 2004 | Main | December 12, 2004 »