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August 22, 2007

Sleepless in Helsinki — Friday, August 24, 2007 is Helsinki's Night of the Arts


Galleries, museums and public buildings will be open all night this coming Friday in Helsinki, with over 200 mostly free events.

David Baker in the August 18, 2007 Financial Times wrote, "As well as poetry and theatre shows from some of Finland's best known performers and a male-voice choir that will be touring the city centre in a tram, the Museum of Finnish Architecture will be displaying Finland's pavilion from this year's Salon del Mobile... designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban."

August 22, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pork Chopper: Barbeque Pit + Motorcycle Mashup is... Smokin'!


If my homeys over at Gizmodo liked yesterday's Water Chopper (it's one of the first posts up there today), they'll love this puppy.

Grub Street featured it yesterday, as follows.

    It's Not a Motorcycle, Baby. It's a Mobile Barbecue Pit.

    When we heard that RUB was commissioning Orange County Chopper, of American Chopper fame, to make a mobile barbecue pit, we thought it was a pretty cool idea. We expected it to be a novelty, like a two-headed kitten or the world’s largest ball of string. Nothing prepared us for the mind-numbing coolness of the actual RUB Chopper: The restaurant’s owner, Andrew Fischel, correctly characterizes as “the sickest, baddest thing in the world.”

    We had some doubts, too, about the utility of the thing: Was it really that good of an idea to have what amounts to a giant wood oven inches from a gas tank? But the RUB guys have already cooked ribs, brisket, and pork butt on it, and they aren’t dead yet. When asked if it was dangerous, Fischel replied breezily, “I don’t know. No one’s ever built one of these before.” Let’s hope we don’t find out the hard way.


You don't need to be Paris Hilton to say, "That's hot."

[via James Thornburg's insourceoutsource]

August 22, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

MySpace for spooks — Friend me?


In today's Financial Times Demetri Sevastopulo reports the most interesting news of the day which, as is often the case, somehow didn't make it into the so-called newspapers of record, i.e., the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, et al — maybe they're too busy beating on George Tenet and the CIA for failures past to understand the implications of the fact that Mike McConnell, U.S. director of national intelligence, has invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and MySpace's CEO to a conference in Chicago next month to discuss A-Space, a new internal communications tool for members of all 16* U.S. intelligence agencies, modeled on Facebook and MySpace.

I gotta love Zuckerberg — he said he can't come 'cause he's too busy.

Here's the article.

    US launches ‘MySpace for spies’

    Spies and teenagers normally have little in common but that is about to change as America’s intelligence agencies prepare to launch “A-Space”, an internal communications tool modelled on the popular social networking sites, Facebook and MySpace.

    The Director of National Intelligence will open the site to the entire intelligence community in December. The move is the latest part of an ongoing effort to transform the analytical business following the failure to detect the 9/11 terrorist attacks or find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    Thomas Fingar, the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, believes the common workspace — a kind of “MySpace for analysts” — will generate better analysis by breaking down firewalls across the traditionally stove-piped intelligence community. He says the technology can also help process increasing amounts of information where the number of analysts is limited.

    “Burying the same number of analysts in ever higher piles of hay would no more increase the number of needles,” says Mr Fingar.

    Underscoring the power of social-networking sites, the Central Intelligence Agency recently used Facebook to help boost applications for the national clandestine service. The move sparked concerns that the CIA was monitoring members, which the agency denies.

    ”Earlier this year, the CIA used Facebook — an excellent peer-to-peer marketing tool — to advertise employment opportunities with the agency,” said George Little, a CIA spokesman. “This effort, part of a much broader campaign leveraging traditional and new advertising media, was used strictly for informational purposes.”

    The DNI has also built an internal collaborative site called Intellipedia, modelled on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. It has also created a version of http://del.icio.us, the social book-marking site, for members of the intelligence community. Another tool that has been developed is a national intelligence library, which can be accessed from A-Space.

    While MySpace and Facebook have spread like wildfire, particularly among the younger generations of internet users, members of the intelligence community are divided. Mike Wertheimer, the senior DNI official for analytic transformation and technology, illustrates the dilemma with an example from an internal blog thread last year.

    A female employee who had arranged a high-school reunion on MySpace asked why the community had not created a similar tool. That prompted a response that she wasn’t thinking big enough. But Mr Wertheimer says two other people immediately jumped in with concerns about a “counter-intelligence nightmare” that could cost US lives.

    “That is very typical within the intelligence community of the approach to social networking tools,” says Mr Wertheimer. “The positive value is…not easily quantified. The negative, the risk for people under cover… is drawn out so starkly, even though it is speculative, that they tend to carry the day.”

    But he says the intelligence community needs to consider that not sharing information can also cost lives, a lesson learned from the 9/11 attacks.

    “We are willing to experiment in ways that we have never experimented before,” he adds. “It breaks a lot of traditional senses that people’s lives are at risk, and how can you take any step that increases that risk.”

    Mr Wertheimer says A-Space will initially be voluntary to assuage worries of spies concerned about blowing their cover. The DNI wants some foreign intelligence services to participate in A-Space, but there has been some resistance.

    “I would say in the entire community, the folks most virulently against sharing the information are the foreign partners,” says Mr Wertheimer, who says the also want access to the intelligence library.

    “They ask ‘well can we have access?’,” says Mr Wertheimer. “I ask them back if you want access, what services are you willing to create for the library, what data are you willing to put in it, have you thought through your risk/profit scenario? They kind of stand back because that is not normally how we talk to them. It is a new day.”

    A-Space will be equipped with web-based email and software that recommends areas of interest to the user just like Amazon suggests books to its customers. The site will also allow users to create and modify documents, and determine user privileges, in a similar fashion to Google Documents.

    Mr Wertheimer says the new infrastructures should help break down some of the physical communications problems in the intelligence community.

    “I am unable to send email, and even make secure phone calls, to a good portion of the Intel community from my desktop because of firewalls,” he says.

    In September, the DNI and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a public-private intelligence group, will hold a conference to enlist support and ideas from the private sector and academia.

    “We have gotten to the stage where we want to open this up, tap more ideas, stimulate some competition to help us here,” says Mr Fingar.

    Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, invited the chief executives of Facebook and MySpace to participate, but so far Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has declined. A Facebook spokeswoman said the decision was purely because of scheduling conflicts.


*There are a number of U.S. intelligence agencies which "don't exist" and therefore, by definition, cannot be on any record you're ever going to see.

August 22, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork — World's scarcest hideous bag


So great, that Louis Vuitton dreamed up the idea of cutting up 14 different LV bags, then combining pieces of each into a limited edition (one is pictured above) of 24 available worldwide for $52,500 apiece.

How'd they do that?

Someone at the company must've borrowed Steve Jobs's reality distortion field to put this one over.

Here's Ylan Q. Mui's article, which appeared on the front page of yesterday's Washington Post Business section and explored the strange nature of desire.

    Exclusive Status: It's in The Bag

    $52,500 Purses. 24 Worldwide. 1 in Washington.

    Forget your Coach purse. Put away your Kate Spade. Even Hermes's famous Birkin bag seems positively discount.

    The Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork is this summer's ultimate status bag, ringing in at $52,500. And it is arriving in Washington by the end of the season, ordered by a woman whose circumstances and identity the company has ever so politely (again and again) declined to disclose.

    "We find the customer there is a very sophisticated client," said Brigid Andrews, Northeast regional vice president for Louis Vuitton. "When there's something that is this special, I'm really not surprised that we had a client who wanted it for her own collection."

    The company made the bag that special not only by price tag and design — 14 LV bags were cut up and sewn together to make it — but also by offering only five for sale in North America and 24 worldwide.

    R&B superstar Beyonce Knowles got one. The other four? Their names have not been revealed.

    The bag, says Milton Pedraza, chief executive of market-research firm the Luxury Institute, is a lesson in creating cachet. What, after all, is a luxury retailer to do when even suburban high school students are wearing sunglasses with Chanel's interlocking Cs and toting purses plastered with the LV logo, both real and fake?

    The ultrawealthy -- those with net worth of at least $10 million -- are demanding products and services that set them apart from those who are merely wealthy, he said. Retailers are obliging by creating increasingly expensive merchandise and limiting production. And the actual product often seems less important than how many people have it.

    "If my Louis Vuitton, which I'm paying a few thousand for, everyone has one, what do I get?" Pedraza said. "How do I get that exclusivity that I long for?"

    To achieve that, darling, you had to pre-order the Tribute Patchwork bag months ago. Louis Vuitton boutiques in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chevy Chase got the call. Delivery began discreetly in July, with the bags arriving in a clear, Plexiglas trunk covered with the LV logo.

    It was publicly photographed on Knowles's arm last month. Purse bloggers (yes, they do exist) also reported spotting the singer toting the bag while wearing a satin shirt, shorts and sky-high stilettos as she left a taping of MTV's "TRL."

    The Tribute Patchwork is Louis Vuitton's most expensive and exclusive bag to date. Though Washington has long bemoaned its second-class status when it comes to fashion, Louis Vuitton's president for North America, Daniel Lalonde, said the market has shown an exceptional "appetite for show bags."

    The Tribute Patchwork is handmade at a workshop in France and is made up of pieces of 14 Louis Vuitton handbags, including the monogram denim from spring 2005, the Lady Steamer with Alligator from fall 2006, the Cuir Tresse from spring 2007 and the Talentueux Suhali from spring 2003. Andrews said Louis Vuitton's creative director, Marc Jacobs, designed the Tribute Patchwork "as a celebration of the history of Louis Vuitton."

    Some fashion followers, however, feel that history should not be sliced, diced and rearranged into one purse.

    "Limited-edition handbags give us purse fanatics something to drool over, to lust after, to want," said Meaghan Mahoney of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who writes the Purse Blog. "But there comes a time when no matter how limited something is, no matter how much fuss goes behind it... the product just plain old sucks."

    Still, Mahoney said she would relish the opportunity to see the Tribute Patchwork with her own eyes.

    "At least that way, those who are lucky enough to see the handbag in person will gain instant bragging rights," she said. "After all, the bag is not much more than bragging material by itself."

    The Tribute Patchwork bag is not the most expensive ever created. In 2005, auction house Doyle New York sold a black crocodile Hermes Birkin customized with a clasp and lock featuring 14 carats of pave diamonds set in white gold for $64,800.

    Not to be outdone, Chanel will launch a bag in December made of white alligator skin and diamonds. The iconic double-C clasp will be studded with 334 of the jewels, or about 3.56 carats. The chain strap will be made of white gold trimmed with more alligator skin. Only 13 will be available worldwide.

    Price: $260,150.



Eat your heart out.

August 22, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bulletproof Backpack — 'Affordable self-defense bookbag'

The only surprise is that it's taken this long.

Here's Alan Gathright's story from yesterday's Rocky Mountain News about the latest wrinkle in schoolyard self-defense.

    Shots, hot sales greet bulletproof kids' backpack

    Two fathers' creation of a bulletproof backpack to protect their children from school shootings is drawing flak — and brisk Internet sales.

    Massachusetts creator Joe Curran said he developed the $175 My Child's Pack to give a "proactive defense" to his kids.

    "We started getting fed up with seeing all the school shootings out there," he said.

    Curran said he and another dad hit on the idea of installing a lightweight bulletproof panel in the backpack padding because many kids carry their packs throughout the day.

    When the dads launched online sales Aug. 10, a surge of hits crashed mychildspack.com, Curran said. He couldn't say how many backpacks have been sold, but said they're currently back-ordered.

    The backpack is taking some flak, though. An online poll on Denver's KOA-AM radio Monday showed 77 percent of listeners wouldn't buy the backpack.

    Curran said the product has become a pawn in the emotional gun-control debate.

    "The way I look at it, this backpack is nothing different than a fire extinguisher or a smoke detector. It's a tool to have in case something happens," he said.


Note: contrary to the article above, a visit to the website shows the backpacks are now in stock and ready to ship.


Available in two styles and a variety of colors (above and below).



August 22, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Balenciaga shows the way



August 22, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The New York Times shows yet again how not to make the most of what it has


The Gray Lady is like a total babe who's never learned how to wrap her package.

Consider the three images arrayed above and below.

They all began as a photograph taken by Times photographer Brian Harkin that accompanied an August 16, 2007 article by Stephanie Rosenbloom on dads who invent.

The black and white photo above occupied three-fourths of the width of page E in the dead tree version.

The picture occupies that proportion of the Times Newstand Reader online version — except there it's in color (below).


But if you venture over to the Times website and view the story as published online, you'll see the 190-pixel-wide, differently-cropped version below.


How is the paper missing the boat here?

Simple: nowhere have I read that the Times online offers color versions of photos that appear in black and white in the hard copy version, yet it's a very frequent occurrence.

All that value added, lost in time....

Value lost by the hapless dinosaur as it staggers through journalism's version of an increasingly threatened Jurassic Park.

I noted in the headline above that this was not the first time the Times has missed the boat: years ago I emailed Bill Keller, the paper's executive editor, to point out that even the Charlottesville Daily Progress, my Podunk town's news leader — always on the bleeding edge with stuff like the latest on the never-ending stump grinding controversy in neighboring Nelson County — always provides its reporters' email addresses both in print and online, with a direct link accompanying its Internet iteration.

Keller responded that it wasn't right for the Times.

That was back when he responded.

Now my emails to him go directly into his spam folder — the way it should be.

August 22, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Through the looking glass shelf


From the website:

    "Half a Portion" Mirror with Shelf

    Designed by Jette Scheib and Neels Kattentidt.

    This rectangular mirror has half of a white porcelain dinner plate affixed to it for use as a handy shelf, suitable for use in a hallway or corridor, bathroom or bedroom above a vanity.

    The reflection of the half plate in the mirror creates a fun visual effect, making it appear as a whole plate.

    17.75H x 10.75W x 6.25"W

    Made in Germany.


August 22, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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