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October 12, 2007

Allan Sloan of Fortune magazine channels legendary Forbes editor James Walker Michaels: 'How to write a column'


Sloan is Fortune magazine's senior editor at large and his "Deals" column appears regularly in the Washington Post Business section.

Michaels (above) died on October 2, 2007.

This past Tuesday, October 9, 2007, Sloan wrote in the Post, "To this day, I write my columns using the structure I learned to write one-page Forbes stories for Jim."

I emailed Sloan asking for the structure he alluded to and he was kind enough to respond with the family jewels.

Summarized, they are:

1) Start with something "reasonably grabby"

2) Try to drop an allusion to it into the piece one or twice

3) End with something that ties back to the way you started

4) Write conversationally

Thanks, Allan.

Gretchen Morgenson, the superb New York Times business columnist and reporter, also worked for Michaels at Forbes and wrote an appreciation which appeared in that paper on October 7, 2007.

October 12, 2007 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Al Gore-approved Dunhill Solar Panel Bag


What with today's awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the earth-balancing, chad-challenging loser of the 2000 presidential election, Dunhill seems spot-on with its introduction earlier this year of this exclusive bag.

From the Dunhill website:

    Avorities™ Solar Panel Bag

    Solar panels on the side of the Avorities Solar Panel Bag charge a discreetly-concealed battery, with which the busiest of men can ready his favourite gadgets for immediate use — mobiles, BlackBerries, MP3 Players and digital cameras.

    Made from black and grey nylon and trimmed with black leather, the Avorities Solar Bag is a multifunctional accessory for the high-performing dad.

    A set of adaptors makes sure that the battery can charge products from different brands.


    • Discreetly concealed battery, charged via solar panels

    • Black and grey nylon

    • Black leather trim


"Busiest of men?"

"High-performing dad?"

Excuse me, but you've just thrown half your prospective customers over the side....


October 12, 2007 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gray-Bans Reverse Sunglasses — 'Guaranteed to brighten anyone's day'


[via James Ferguson's "Pat Pending" feature in today's Financial Times "How To Spend It" supplement]

October 12, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Video Rocket

The product's full name is Estes Oracle Video Rocket.

Jonathan Margolis wrote about in today's Financial Times "How To Spend It" supplement as follows.

    Estes Oracle Video Rocket Kit

    Rarely have I discovered something quite so delightfully daft as this, a three-foot-tall reusable model rocket that soars up to 600 feet, filming all the while with its built-in digital camera, then floats gently back down to earth, still filming, using its inboard parachute.

    But be warned: the rocket motors these babies come with are so explosive that the Royal Mail refuses to carry them and they have to be delivered by courier. Plus I recommend on the whole not firing rockets near airports or military installations. Or trees. On windy days.

    The assembly instructions are good, so getting aloft and making your own 30-second aerial movies is do-able within an hour or so of opening the box. The movie quality is all right for fun purposes, and you'll need to take a (Windows XP-based) laptop out flying with you, as each movie has to be downloaded post-flight before you can lift off again. Oh, and treat yourself to a few extra packets of rocket motors when you order, as the kit only comes with three.


In the U.S. the Estes Oracle Video Rocket has been discontinued and replaced by the "new and improved Estes Astrovision Video Rocket."


YouTube has five videos taken by the Astrovision, two of which appear above.

October 12, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The 'ghost train' of Buenos Aires

The Fall issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) features a superb article by J. Malcolm Garcia about a local train in Argentina's capital reserved for trash scavengers and the recent decision to close it down at the end of this year.

Above, Gabrielle Weiss's film, "Foreign Exchange: Ghost Train."

Here's Robin Moroney's summary of the VQR piece, from yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

    Argentina’s Ghost Train for Trash Scavengers Will Vanish

    The decision to close a local train in Buenos Aires reserved for trash scavengers reveals a split in the city between those who want to forget the financial crisis of the mid-1990s and those who have yet to recover from the economic shock. Scouring the city for trash and selling it to recyclers has been a last resort for the unemployed for a decade, reports J. Malcolm Garcia in the Virginia Quarterly Review. The depreciation of the Argentine peso in 2001 made the trade especially attractive, since pricier imported materials increased the demand for cheaper local scrap.

    As the number of scavengers, or cartoneros, rose the city took steps to accommodate them, in part to spare commuters from having to ride on trash-filled trains. The government rewrote its contracts with waste-disposal companies, who had complained that cartoneros were stealing trash. The disposal companies began to be paid according to the cleanliness of neighborhoods. Mr. Garcia says cartoneros have effectively become the bottom layer of Argentina’s recycling industry and significantly reduced the amount of waste going into landfills.

    Dubbed the “white train” for its initial color or “ghost train” for the barebones carriages’ skeletal appearance, the scavenger trains never appeared on an official timetable. For a middle class starting to recover from a decade of turmoil, the train is an unsightly reminder of poverty, says Mr. Garcia. The city’s new mayor Mauricio Macri, who has the support of much of the city’s business community, has accused the cartoneros of ruining the city landscape, stealing trash and not paying taxes. The train’s operator has said the white train will stop rolling by the end of this year. Suggested alternatives include trash-carrying trucks riding alongside regular trains and more conveniently located trash warehouses.

    Mr. Garcia says the cartoneros believe the train’s disappearance will end their livelihood. But at an impromptu protest he attends, he sees little evidence the cartoneros will be able to organize to effectively campaign for its preservation.


The complete VQR article, replete with photos, is here.

October 12, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cool Globe — 'Be More Chill'


Invented in 1997 by Swedish designer Birgitta Folcker-Sundell.

From the website:

    Cool Globe

    An innovation for cool fresh food, both indoors and out.

    Keeps your dairies, salads and desserts cold, crispy and free from insects.

    Inside the top of the globe is an exchangeable cooling device.



Two sizes: Small (White, Yellow, Blue or Silver) or Large (White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue or Silver).

Want one?

Contact the designer: bildoform@telia.com

[via Olle Zackrisson and smartstuff.se]

October 12, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2007 Rubik's Cube World Championship

The finals took place last Sunday, October 7, 2007 in Budapest, Hungary.

Yu Nakajima, 16, of Japan, won by solving the puzzle in an average of 12.46 seconds.

Bonus: In the video above Erno Rubik himself makes a rare public appearance.

According to Wikipedia, "He is known to be a very introverted and hardly accessible person, almost impossible to contact or get for autographs. He typically refuses to attend speedcubing events."

Here's a link to the cube's history.

October 12, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer (and much more) here this time tomorrow.

October 12, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

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