Yes – weird science can be interesting


This one is simply titled “Belly button cheese”

We’re no strangers to unusual food here at Gizmag, but this latest culinary masterpiece is probably the most unappealing treat we’ve yet come across. Dubbed Selfmade, the cheese in question is made from human bacteria which derives from samples taken from people’s armpits, toes, and noses.

The Selfmade cheese is the work of scientist Christina Agapakis and scent expert Sissel Tolaas, and is being exhibited as part of the Grow Your Own … Life After Nature exhibit, at Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery. The exhibit also features other projects which blur the line between art and science, such as I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin: a project proposing that future humans give birth to dolphins.

Each Selfmade cheese is created from cultures taken from the skin of a different person, and the process involves a strange combination of food preparation and microbiological techniques. This results in signature cheeses which are unique to each person – such as a “Christina” cheese, and “Ben” cheese, for example.

However, if the image of human bacteria-based cheese is making you salivate, be aware that the human cheese isn’t actually available for human consumption, but is rather intended as a means of promoting discourse on microbiology.

Our readers in Eire can wander by Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery. The signature cheeses will be on display until January 19, 2014.

No one’s offered any recipes using the self-made fermentations, yet. No doubt one or another of the purportedly avant-garde element in posh urbane restaurants will want to give it a try.

Tim Cook vetoes Apple Retail stores opening on Thanksgiving


Closed for Thanksgiving

Last week, over the objections of Retail Market Directors, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook canceled plans to open several stores on Thanksgiving, citing the importance of allowing retail employees to be with their families over the holiday…

Last year…three Apple Stores heavily trafficked by tourists opened on Thanksgiving: locations on the Las Vegas Strip, Waikiki Beach in Hawaii and the company’s 24/7 Fifth Avenue store in New York City.

A series of other flagship Apple Retail stores were also planned to open on Thanksgiving this year, including select additional locations in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, San Diego and Portland.

An expansion of store openings this year was reportedly lobbied by retail Marketing Directors who argued “the company was missing out on substantial holiday sales,” according to a posting by IFOAppleStore.

“Market Directors were reportedly motivated by large potential holiday-quarter bonuses based on performance targets, adding to their $400,000 salaries. The last calendar quarter at Apple retail is always the busiest and generates the most revenue, leading to the largest bonuses,” the site noted.

While some attempts were being made to account for the extra holiday hours by providing workers alternative time off, Cook acted to cancel the plans “over the objections of Market Directors,” and keep those stores closed over Thanksgiving so that employees could spend the holidays with their families.

Apple joins other retailers, including Costco and Nordstrom, who have preferred to give employees the holiday off rather than seeking to cash in on early crowds.

Attaboy, Tim. Between folks like Tim Cook and Jonny Ive, the whole Apple management team demonstrates time and again they are the class of the high tech industry.

The complete process I follow to make decisions about spending my few hard-earned bucks devolves to value and quality. An important part of that process is the long-term outlook and attitude of a firm’s politics and sociology. Worth taking the time to read and research, my friends.

I’ve worked in a couple of industries/trades that hardly ever took holidays off. The money didn’t compensate for the loss of time spent with family and friends.

The United States promised we’d never spy on the Brits — we lied!

The National Security Agency is authorized to spy on the citizens of America’s closest allies, including Britain, even though those English-speaking countries have long had an official non-spying pact, according to a newly disclosed memorandum.

The classified N.S.A. document, which appears to be a draft and is dated January 2005, states that under specific circumstances, the American intelligence agency may spy on citizens of Britain without that country’s consent or knowledge. The memo, provided by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, is labeled secret and “NOFORN,” indicating that it may not be shared with any foreign country…

The memo was provided by Mr. Snowden to The Guardian, which shared it with The New York Times. The N.S.A. also declined to say whether the memorandum merely codified longstanding American practice or was breaking new ground…blah, blah, blah, the agency said in a written reply to questions…

One paragraph, marked secret, appears to suggest that the preferred option is to gain permission from the country whose citizens are to be spied upon. But the very next paragraph, marked secret and NOFORN, indicates that the N.S.A. can go it alone if permission is not forthcoming — or if United States chooses not to ask.

Sounds like the country we’ve all come to know and revere for its respect for constitutional democracy and citizens’ right to privacy. Just not in the last five or six decades.

Jerk accumulates $202,000 in fines for skipping tolls

Jason Bourcier, a 33-year-old financial consultant from Arlington, Va., racked up $202,000 in toll fines that he’s agreed to pay in installments until he’s 87.

“I would go through late at night, and there weren’t any attendants,” Bourcier said. “One day, I asked an attendant if the cameras were on when there were no attendants on duty. He said they weren’t. So I started going through without paying the tolls.”

Bourcier has been doing this for over three years and will pay $150 monthly installments over the next 54 years to the Virginia Department of Transportation, after his lawyers made an agreement.

Taking the word of the dude working the toll plaza. That’s the sum of research he did before breaking the law? And he’s a financial consultant? Phew!