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December 21, 2005

Scottish Pride — Don't Mess With Glasgow!


Nathan Warmack (above, with his girlfriend Kendra Mizzell), a high school student in Jackson, Missouri, last month wore a kilt to his high school dance and refused to change into pants when principal Rick McClard demanded he do so.

Warmack said he was simply trying to honor his Scottish heritage when he wore the kilt, in his Clan MacRae red tartan, to the Jackson High School formal.

The school superintendent, Ron Anderson, is backing the principal — so far.

But now that Scotland's got its dander up — the story's receiving much more prominence in the Scottish media space than in the U.S. — I suspect that Jackson High School's gonna blink first.

Especially if it turns out that the principal said to Nathan, as alleged, "You can honor your heritage in Scotland, but you can't go in here looking like a clown."



December 21, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Gamer Cushion


Don't play Halo without it.

From Japan comes this most excellent addition to the gamer's armamentarium.

From the website (as translated by Google's machines):

    If It Holds, Burden to the Waist and the Arm Can Be Lightened

    Proper hardness time of nap and hobby comfortably

    Now becoming absorption, having played the game of topic, when and, when looking at the personal computer and the television and the like, when it is opposite to the long time picture, the り waist and the back which become the stoop being painful, being harsh ones, it does.

    Then, holding, if it places the cog, being able to pass comfortably in easy attitude is the コレ.

    Furthermore like the normal cushion because it is not too soft, if the arm was placed in both sides, a state where the arm is lifted naturally being able to keep, you do not become tired, can concentrate on also job.

    Therefore the size which is settled entirely in the arm of the アナタ, also it is good you become tired in work and, like the dear partner you hold and at the time of the human love forcing to try closing, probably will be.

    With the our room and with the office and it stops wanting with anytime to leave side.

    If it holds vertically, hobby and time of work comfortably.


Long story short (as translated by bookofjoe's crack research team):

Be the first in your virtual world to game in heavenly comfort.

56 cm high x 36 cm wide x 17 cm thick.

Weight: 940 g (2 lbs. 1 oz.).


Made in Japan.


¥4,179 ($35.63; £20.45; €30.14) here.

[via AW]

December 21, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New House Legislation Introduced to Expedite Supermodel Green Cards


Just in, today's Washington Post Style section "Reliable Source" feature by Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts which brings the news that U.S. House of Representatives members Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) have co–sponsored a bill — HR 4354, introduced last month — to expedite the entrance of foreign fashion models into the U.S.

The bill is an attempt to remedy an apparent supermodel shortage that has caused American modeling agencies to lose business to those in other countries.


Who knew?

Wait till Weiner's constituents, walking back and forth to work across Manhattan's bridges this week in response to the city's transit strike, find out what he's really focused on.


Here's the Post story.

    Spice in the Melting Pot

    Because there aren't enough gorgeous glamazons on these shores already, Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) have co-sponsored a very special bill for supermodels.


    Introduced last month, HR 4354 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a separate, nonimmigrant classification for fashion models — in short, make it easier for beauties from Brazil, Russia, the Czech Republic and other far-flung locales to strut their skinny little butts on our runways.


    Weiner, a 41-year-old bachelor, says he's trying to end a shortage that makes American modeling agencies lose business internationally.

    What a guy!


    Bet those gals are soooooo grateful.

December 21, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Disposable Tuxedo


I read about this in Ray A. Smith's story in the November 5 Wall Street Journal and after I got over my initial disbelief was quite impressed.

J.C. Penney started offering it at all its stores nationwide this past fall and they also sell it online.

The jacket and pants, made in Mexico of 100% wool, cost $99.99; the shirt, bow tie, cummerbund and "black metal/plastic onyx–look cuff links" add an additional $29.99; tuxedo shoes are an additional $29.95, for a total of $159.93.

I can't recall the last time I wore a tux but I'll tell you what: the next time I do I'll be ordering my own online.

The tedium of going to the rental store, getting measured, going back to the rental store to pick up clothes that have been worn who knows how many times by who knows whom, then taking them back after the event — three trips! — is over for this man.

Get yours here.

Here's the Wall Street Journal article.

    The $99 Tux

    An inexpensive new suit may entice those who might have otherwise rented

    Washington political analyst Jason Rosenberg paid $179 to rent a tuxedo for a wedding in August.

    He wasn't crazy about renting used clothes, but without another formal event soon on his calendar, he decided buying a tux didn't make sense.

    "It's too expensive," says Mr. Rosenberg.

    Maybe not.

    On the men's formalwear scene, where radical change usually means something like pairing suspenders with a cummerbund, there's something new: a $99 tuxedo.

    This one is from J.C. Penney, which says it sees a market in men who would otherwise rent.

    If the notion catches on, it could upend the well-established economics of tuxedos, which countless guys have figured out over the years: Unless you plan to wear the suit at least three or four times, it's usually cheaper to rent than to buy.

    Typically, tuxedos range in price from $200 at stores like Men's Wearhouse to $700 for a basic Brooks Brothers model -- and on up to $5,000 or more for high-end versions from makers like Brioni.

    Rentals, meanwhile, average out at $75, according to the International Formalwear Association, the industry's trade group.

    Overall, the tux business is shrinking: Sales and rentals combined were $1.1 billion last year, down from $1.4 billion in 2001.

    The group says the decline is partly due to a trend of more casual dress at fancy events, particularly for destination weddings on islands or beaches.

    Rental suits are usually lower-grade wool or polyester blends, while suits for purchase usually are made of finer fabric.

    In the case of the $99 tux, J.C. Penney says the fabric is 100% wool and the suit is made in Mexico.

    We asked New York custom tailor William Fioravanti to inspect one of these sub-$100 suits.

    His take: It's constructed well, even if the wool is a little coarse.

    Bottom line: For the price, it's surprisingly good.

    "We're not dealing with Rolls-Royces here, but Fords," he says.

    Lana Cain Krauter, general merchandise manager at J.C. Penney, which decided to roll out the tux in all its stores this fall after testing it in some markets last year, says the company feels it's giving "an extremely good value for the price."

    Penney sells a set including a shirt, cummerbund, bow tie and cuff links for $29, along with black shoes for another $29.

    Longmire Harrison, a Washington attorney who recently plunked down over $1,000 for a tuxedo to wear at his wedding later this month, says any cheaper alternative to a rental suit is attractive -- but he's still skeptical about a $99 tux.

    "It would have to be more of an emergency," he says.

December 21, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tea Time in England: The British are now growing their own — at home


Mary Jordan wrote a story back in October (the 23rd, to be precise) that appeared in the Washington Post about the new new thing in the world of tea: for the first time ever, the British are growing tea in England.

Shows you how the greenhouse effect can have an upside in unexpected ways and places, even though the British growers contend that labor costs rather than global warming are what kept England from raising its own crop in the past.

Tea plants require a frost–free climate and it would appear the growers have located a suitable area with just the required microclimate.

Bonus: Evelyn Boscawen, one of the two individuals spearheading the effort, is a descendent of Earl Grey.

Jonathan Jones, pictured above in Cornwall surveying his crop, is the other principal.

Here's the article.

    Just Their Cup of Tea: British Cultivate Their Own

    After Importing for Centuries, Brew-Loving Nation Grows Its First Commercial Crop

    Beyond the four-mile-long driveway, and the shaded path named "Lady's Walk" and the soft fields of purple rhododendron and grazing Holstein cows, Jonathan Jones walked among waist-high rows of rich green plants.

    With loving precision, he plucked off two perfect green leaves and a bud and held them proudly in his hand.

    "English tea should be grown on English soil," he said, running his fingers over what he called a victory for horticulture and also for British culture: the first commercial crop of tea ever grown in this tea-mad nation.

    Since the days of the British Empire, traders have been bringing tea home from India, China and other faraway lands where climate and labor costs allowed cultivation to thrive.

    The average person here still drinks at least two cups a day.

    But now, on a 670-year-old estate in southwest England, Jones and an aristocrat who counts Earl Grey as an ancestor are opening a new era in British tea production.

    "It is rather nice to produce the very first locally grown cup of tea," said Evelyn Boscawen, a shy gardening enthusiast whose family has owned the vast Tregothnan estate for centuries.

    "It's fun, exciting, new."

    Growing tea in Britain cuts against the grain in an era of globalized economics, when labor-intensive jobs flow to nations where the with the cheapest workforce.

    And it defies evolving sensibilities in this nation, where lemon-infused sparkling waters and frothy cafe lattes are making significant inroads on the iconic "cuppa."

    This year, for the first time, Britain spent more on instant coffee than on tea, close to $800 million on each, according to beverage industry studies. But tea trade experts said British people are still drinking more tea -- 165 million cups a day -- than coffee.

    While a relatively small crop of homegrown tea will hardly take over the huge market, "consumers will be intrigued," said William Gorman, executive director of the Tea Council, an independent group based in London dedicated to promoting tea.

    He noted that tea is serious business in Britain, where children grow up knowing the difference between a cream tea (a pot with a plate of scones, clotted cream and jam) and high tea (more of a meal).

    But, Gorman said, one drawback to having "tea running in the blood" is that you take it for granted.

    So to remind people about the joy and value of tea, which is credited with helping fuel the British industrial revolution, the Tea Council launched an unusual publicity campaign this year to give the familiar old cup an image makeover.

    Britons are used to "tea ladies" in aprons rolling tea trolleys around offices, so the council trained a squad of young men to make a perfect pot of tea and sent them out to factories, offices and beauty salons to offer tea to strangers.

    The message: Tea isn't just for Granny.

    Globally, Gorman said, only water is consumed at higher rates than tea. Tea is a staple in the Middle East and Africa.

    China and India produce and nationally consume massive amounts of it.

    Japan is famous for its ubiquitous cups of green tea.

    And Ireland, just across the sea, tops the global list of per-capita consumption -- with every Irish man, woman and child drinking nearly three cups a day on average.

    In the United States, tea consumption took a patriotic hit in the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when enraged colonists dumped British tea into the harbor to protest taxes.

    While coffee came to dominate, tea is gaining in popularity, said Alyssa Giannini of the Tea Association of the U.S.A., based in New York.

    "Tea houses are popping up all over the place in New York," she said.

    But no matter what is going on elsewhere in the world, the British feel a deep cultural connection to tea.

    "It's a habitual comfort here," said Gorman, who calculates that Britain's 60 million people drink more tea than North America, Canada and continental Europe combined.

    "Drinking tea is like breathing."

    So Boscawen and Jones thought it was high time to start growing it.

    Having done globetrotting research on camellia sinensis, the green bush that produces tea leaves, Jones said he learned that there are many myths about tea, including that it grows only in warm weather.

    In fact, what really matters, he said, is that there is no frost.

    He noted that the Cornwall estate has comparable temperatures to Darjeeling in the Himalayan foothills, which produces world-famous tea.

    Meteorologists have recorded gradually rising temperatures in England in recent decades.

    But Jones said thermometer readings aren't what kept England from growing tea.

    It was high costs.

    In former British colonies such as India and Sri Lanka, the bushes grew so effortlessly and their leaves were plucked by laborers so cheaply that it has always been more profitable to grow tea abroad, then ship it back to be blended in English factories and packaged as English Breakfast or Earl Grey.

    But more than once, the English have thought how nice it would be to stop relying on fields half a world away, Jones said, noting that Winston Churchill was deeply worried during World War II that rationing caused by disrupted tea supplies would hurt morale.

    The new Tregothnan tea is exceedingly expensive.

    Loose blended tea runs about $10 an ounce, and a box of 25 bags costs $18.

    By comparison, Tetley's popular package of 80 tea bags sells for less than $3.

    But in an era when people pay $4 for a cup of coffee, the upscale specialty goods chain Fortnum & Mason has bought the novel crop and begun selling it in stores.

    "It's a rare tea," remarked Jones, who said that he hopes to expand his current crop of 20,000 plants on 20 acres to 100 acres.

    Still, he said, he had no illusion it would ever be more than a niche market.

    "People think of tea as being quintessentially British when in fact it is grown all over the world, so now it's quite exciting to have some grown at home," said Diana Williams, a spokeswoman for Tetley.

    Twenty years ago, she said, people drank exclusively black tea with milk, but now there are many specialty green and herbal teas.

    "Tea is getting quite exciting," she said, noting that British people are even drinking iced tea, which until recently was seen here as a strange American habit.

    December 21, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    1 Hour Circle Clock


    Once I read that people who go around in circles are known as big wheels.

    Here is their clock.


    From the website:

      Are you the sort of person who projects to those around you an affinity for temporal illustrations?


      If so, Everlab's 1 Hour Circle Clock is just the thing for you.


      Simply adhere to the wall, or set on a sheet of paper,


      and the 1 Hour Circle Clock will be ready to fulfill its obligation.


      In your choice of pink, light green, dark green or blue.

    Tell you what: I'm getting one to put on my anesthesia machine so I have some sense that time is actually passing during the occasional seemingly interminable procedure I happen to be involved in.

    $21 here.

    [via Giv & Doe]

    December 21, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    BehindTheMedspeak: Is your doctor a quack?


    Are you sure?

    Because doctors can fool you.

    Let me tell you a little story, all the more profound because every word of it is true.

    Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I went to UCLA Medical School.

    I got to be friends with some of the members of the class a year ahead of me; I saw them on rotations, in the mail room, what have you.

    While in med school and for some years thereafter I lived in an wonderful old Spanish–style apartment building that was walking distance from UCLA.

    My downstairs neighbor was a member of the class that finished a year ahead of me; he was a GP in solo private practice in Malibu and liked to drop the names of his famous show business patients.

    He had the most beautiful clothes.

    He had a Ferrari, bright yellow as I recall, and a Porsche and a string of flight attendant girlfriends over the years, but finally settled down with one in particular who was just nutso.

    Screaming, crying, fighting, noise, things being thrown against the wall and breaking, doors slamming so hard the building shook, loud music, the works emanated from their place.

    But the apartment and the rent and the location were so great I just didn't want to move so I endured their craziness for years.

    Among the other members of this guy's class had been my dorm residence advisor when I was an undergraduate; I remained friends with him, touching base maybe every couple years or so.

    Once I mentioned that I was living above his med school classmate and I started going on about what a bozo the guy was and the ex–residence advisor started laughing really hard.

    What's so funny? I asked.

    He said my neighbor had graduated last in their class: #121 out of 121.

    No one could believe UCLA Medical School would actually let him graduate, he was such a doofus.

    He knew nothing, screwed up everything and half the time didn't even show up.

    But you know the old joke, don't you, about what they call the guy who graduates last in his med school class?




    One day, maybe eight or ten years after I'd graduated, I happened to be reading Los Angeles magazine, the annual issue featuring "The Best Doctors in Los Angeles."

    And guess what?

    My downstairs neighbor, Dr. Last–in–his–class, who would occasionally tell me about pet treatments out of left field that he used in his practice, was named "The Top GP in Los Angeles."


    So that's why I asked, at the top of this post, "Are you sure?"

    But I digressed, didn't I?

    The AMA provides a free online resource that will at least give you some basic information about a doctor — specialty certification and his or her city and state, at a minimum.

    It's called DoctorFinder but it has the most arcane web URL you'll ever see, as you'll notice if you look up at it after you go there.


    Feeling lucky?

    But maybe now you're just getting warmed up, what with your nifty online searching skills and all.

    OK, then — how about we take it to the next level?

    DocFinder, also free, offers more detailed information, but it's limited to data provided by licensing boards in 19 of the 50 states.

    There are links to websites with information for many of the states not among the 19.


    There's much more here, in an excellent survey by Vauhini Vara of sites offering data and reviews of doctors; it appeared in this past Monday's Wall Street Journal.

    December 21, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    Treadmill Bike — 'Take your favorite gym workout outside'


    You knew it would come to this.

    I, for one, am impressed.


    How did they figure out how to mount a working treadmill on a bicycle such that walking on the treadmill lets you ride the bike?



    I watched the demo at the top of the page over and over again: yes, the guy is just walking along on the treadmill and yet the bike is rolling along just like a regular bike.

    Watch the video on the site by clicking on the words "sweet jumps" — pretty funny.

    Oh, man, would I love one of these.


    $2,500 (Canadian) here.

    [via Shawn Lea]

    December 21, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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