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May 2, 2010

'Caption this picture' contest

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I'll announce the winner in one week.

May 2, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Star Wars Dressing Gowns — Episode 2: The Empire offers a selection

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In last year's Episode 1, brought to us courtesy of reader Becky Johnson, we were introduced to the concept in the form of the Jedi Dressing Gown, a snip at $97.29, now on sale for $75.76.

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But don't be too quick about ordering one because now, courtesy of reader Tim Bailey, comes news that there are not one not two not three but FOUR (4;IV;100) new iterations coming to a galaxy near you.

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Take your pick from YodaChewbacca, Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader.

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$60.60 to $106.07.

May 2, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Musical chairs is fun for everyone — until the music stops

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After reading endless stories about the collapse of Wall Street, implosion of the big banks and destruction of the real estate market, I think — think — I can explain what happened in terms a child could understand, which after all is said to be the criterion by which you can judge whether or not you understand something.

Try this on for size:

1. I offer loans to 100 people, without screening them at all. If they can fog a mirror, they get the money.

2. I go to a rating agency and say "Here are my loans, rate them. Remember that if you don't do it in a way that lets me sell them for a profit, I will use another agency to rate stuff in the future."

3. Faced with that ultimatum, the rating agency says, well, OK, out of 100, 20 must be the safest, then there are the next 20, the middle fifth, the fourth group of 20 and the loser bottom 20.

4. So they rate the five tranches: AAA, AA, A, BBB and BB.

5. Now I have five groups of loans to sell to investors. Want something rock solid? No problem, buy my AAA loans. Not as good an interest rate as my BBs but for a little old lady who wants to minimize (note the relativity of this word; i.e. minimized compared to what? But I digress) risk, just the ticket.

And so on and so forth.

Then, when the loans balloon after two years and the borrowers are underwater and lose their jobs and simply walk out the door, the whole thing blows up and everyone goes home crying and empty-handed — except for those fortunate few who realized stuff like this was happening, sold short and bet against the loan makers, and made a fortune.

And that's all I have to say about that.

May 2, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Less Lamp

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"This egg-shaped lamp by UK-based Jordi Canudas

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doesn't give off light until you crack it.

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The solid ceramic orb comes with a sort of miniature pickax

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that you use to puncture the shell in just a few places,

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tap in a pattern,

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or break it wide open like Sunday brunch,"

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wrote Tim McKeough in the

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April 2010 issue of Wired magazine.

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movie is worth a million words — at least in this case.

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$875.

May 2, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Studio Visit

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From Benjamin Genocchio's March 14, 2010 New York Times story: "Studio Visit, officially opened by P.S. 1 on Feb. 1, combines [MoMA's] tradition of presenting work by emerging artists with a reference tool that puts information on hundreds of artists at your fingertips.

"The site’s studio tour includes — along with images and video of the artists’ works — an image of each artist’s studio building, a brief statement by the artist, images of the studio’s interior and a satellite map showing the location. For now, the site is limited to artists living and working in the New York metropolitan area. In its first month, more than 750 people have signed up, mostly young and emerging artists living and working in Dumbo and other Brooklyn neighborhoods.

"The site is averaging 6,500 hits a day, but on some days the traffic has climbed as high as 13,700....

"It is no surprise given the volume of submissions, but the quality varies tremendously. In a way, that is the point, says Rafael Vargas-Suarez, 37, of Brooklyn, who under the name Vargas-Suarez Universal makes zany wall murals and paints on aluminum thermal blankets.

“It is about giving everyone a shot,” he said. “It is not about personality or networking. It is about the art.”

"The strength of the site is the number of little-known artists, many starting their careers. Among them are Mike Estabrook and Ernest Concepcion of the Shining Mantis, a collective of artists who create sprawling, graffitilike battle drawings they call Kangarok."

May 2, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Road Worn Fender 50s Stratocaster

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Deliberately weathered and aged by Fender at the factory.

Wrote Jonathan Margolis in the April 3, 2010 issue of the Financial Times "How To Spend It" magazine supplement, "... it comes fresh out of the box covered in desirable scratches, scrapes, scuffs and gouges. The screws look old and on the cusp of rusting. There are bits of manky label, knobs are worn and faded, the plastic on the fascia bit under where the playing hand goes is yellowed, the varnish on the fingerboard is worn away."

$1,199.99.

May 2, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Looking at the letter 'A' can improve test performance

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But wait, there's more: "Seeing the letter 'F' makes a student more likely to fail."

Don't believe me?

Read the abstract of a study with those conclusions, published in the March 2010 edition of the British Journal of Educational Psychology.

Not up to anything that difficult right now?

No problema.

How about the British Psychological Society's account of the findings?

Will that work for you?

Now that you're warmed up, want to have a look at the entire paper?

Why the heck not, right?

Here you go.

May 2, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Limited Edition Rainbow Hoop Earrings

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A series of seven handmade paper beads woven around a sterling silver hoop.

Edition of 50 pair.

5cm Ø.

$49 AUD.

May 2, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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