Pic of the day — yesterday

“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and selling of good into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction in commodities… We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate.” Victor Lebow, “Price Competition in 1955”, Journal of Retailing (Spring 1955)…

Long ago, in a galaxy in a factory town far away from New Mexico, I served an apprenticeship to a shoemaker. His slogan was “We can repair anything but a broken heart.”

I left to make more money as a line mechanic in a factory. He was out of business by the 1960s, anyway.

Pic of the Day

Click to enlargeREUTERS/Brian Snyder

The shoes of 2013 Boston Marathon bombing survivor J.P. Norden read “Boston Strong” as he stands at the finish line on the one-year anniversary of the bombings in Boston, Massachusetts.

DrumPants will turn you into a human drum kit — WTF?

These days, turning yourself into a one-man band is as easy as slipping on a piece of clothing with a built-in sound board, like Machina’s MIDI Controller jacket or the Electronic Drum Machine shirt. DrumPants on the other hand uses sensor strips and electronics that attach to the inside of clothing, so you can walk down the street in your own clothes and play a beat just by rhythmically tapping your own body…

The basic DrumPants kit consists of two sensor strips and two foot pedal sensors that connect to a control box, all of which are small enough to conceal beneath most types of clothing. Each strip contains two velocity sensors and has thin Velcro patches so users can wear them as a band or run them along a part of their body.

This gives wearers control over six individual sensors at once, but the system can support up to 12 with the addition of extra strips. Once a strip is in place, it just needs to be tapped to produce a sound, which can be heard by connecting either a pair of headphones or an external speaker to the control box…

While the DrumPants were designed mainly with music in mind, the wearable sensors do offer some additional uses beyond tapping out a tune. Each sensor can be reprogrammed to trigger actions within a wide variety of apps, so the wearer can, for example, answer their phone, play a streaming video, cycle through a slideshow, or control a game. The software can also connect with certain Arduino boards, in case an industrious programmer wants to use the sensor strips to control another gadget entirely.

Click the link to the whole article to learn all the whizbang tech. Scroll down to the bottom of the Gizmag article and watch the KickStarter video. Prepare to drive everyone in your life crazy!

That’s why one employs servants

NOT the Queen’s boots

The Queen has someone to wear her shoes in before she puts them on to ensure she is never in discomfort, her stylist has revealed.

Stewart Parvin, who has designed Queen Elizabeth II’s dresses for 11 years, said it was right she should go to such lengths because she could never decide to change her shoes half way through an official engagement.

He also disclosed that the Queen wears an extra shoulder pad on one side to disguise a slight imbalance and has a team of dressers who meticulously record the outfit she wears for every engagement to ensure she never repeats herself.

Mr Parvin discussed the extreme care and attention to detail behind the acclaimed success of the Queen’s wardrobe during her sixty years on the throne in an interview with the Sunday Times…

He said: “[The shoes] have to be immediately comfortable … she does get someone to wear them. The Queen can never say ‘I’m uncomfortable, I can’t walk any more.’ She has the right to have someone wear them in.”

Part of Queen Elizabeth’s secret which is down to nature rather than her entourage is that she does not perspire, ensuring that she never looks flustered or creased, he added…

To ensure that no outfit is ever used twice for the same occasion, the Queen’s dressers keep a computer spreadsheet which lists every item she wears alongside the date, time and details of the engagement.

Even the jewellery and accessories used to complete the ensemble are noted down meaning that the Queen can “mix and match”, allowing her to reuse her favourite clothes while always appearing to be wearing something new.

Isn’t that special?

Well, no. It’s what anyone with an excess of money might do.

Dealing with the latest crap from the TSA in holiday travel season

Flying during the holidays is never fun thanks to the crowds, but airport security policies are going to make things even more unpleasant. If you’re prepared for this year’s security theater hijinks, however, you can avoid some of the misery. Here’s how you can deal with all the crap at the airport this holiday season…

According to the Consumerist, the TSA warns that you shouldn’t wrap your gifts if you plan to take them through security. This sounds pretty ridiculous, but the TSA’s explanation is actually reasonable:

Wrapped gifts are screened just like any other item. We can see through the paper just like we can see through luggage, but just as we have to open a bag when it requires a search due to an anomaly or an alarm, we have to open wrapped items as well if they alarm or require additional screening…

Basically, don’t travel with a knife set or bomb making kit and you’ll probably be fine with a little wrapping. That said, be prepared to re-wrap your gift should a TSA agent feel the need for further inspection.

Are you traveling alone? You probably don’t want to deal with the massive family in front of you who’s trying to dump their bulk package of juice boxes before heading through the scanners. If you’re a family, you probably don’t want to be rushed by all the single people either. In most cases your airport security checkpoint should now have separate lanes for regular travelers and families…

In my experience, these lanes are often unmarked but tend to fall on the left or right side of the checkpoint. It’s always best to ask, but if you’re unable to find anybody to help you then just look for the line with lots of children. Chances are that’s the one you should join if you’re a family and avoid if you’re not.

Good news! Your kids’ shoes aren’t bomb-laden, presuming they’re 12 years or younger. The TSA has decided that young children can leave their footwear attached to their feet when passing through security. Although this is a generally positive change, the TSA warns that your kids may be asked to remove their shoes under certain circumstances and they may receive a pat-down if they cause an alert…

Remember all the fuss about the body scanning machines that showed some unpleasant renderings of what we look like underneath out clothes? The TSA actually paid attention and offered somewhat of a compromise. When you go through these new scanners you’re no longer naked-ish…

This still doesn’t eliminate the concerns of having a fairly frequent low-level x-ray, but at least you’ll look more like a cartoon than a fat blob to your onlooking TSA agent.

For more information about holiday travel, the TSA has posted a full guide. We’ve covered the important stuff, but if you want a look at some of the basics and enjoy bad turkey jokes you should check out their post.

Or you can make the same decision I have – and refuse to travel anywhere you can’t easily drive to with a 20-year-old Dodge pickup truck.

Pakistani Engineer arrested by Karachi airport security

Pakistani officers arrested a man at Karachi airport on Sunday after batteries and an electrical circuit were found in his shoes as he tried to board a plane for the Middle East, an official said…

Mohammad Munir, Airport Security Force spokesman, said the bearded man, whom he named as Faiz Mohammad, was arrested when a scanner sounded an alarm.

The suspect was not found in possession of explosives, but Munir described the circuit discovery as “worrying”.

“He was on the way to board flight TG 507 for Muscat. After the machine gave the alarm, we checked him manually,” said the spokesman. “We have recovered four live batteries and a circuit, with a button to switch it on and off,” Munir said…

“The devices found from the suspect suggested that if he was carrying explosive material, he could have easily blown the explosives up in the plane,” said Munir.

So, what was this dude about doing? Was this a test run checking on the sophistication of Karachi security systems?

Or is he a beta-tester for Nike/Apple?

Iraqis rally for Bush shoe-throwing journalist

Thousands of Iraqis have demanded the release of a local TV reporter who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush at a Baghdad news conference. Crowds gathered in Baghdad’s Sadr City district, calling for “hero” Muntadar al-Zaidi to be freed from custody.

Officials at the Iraqi-owned TV station, al-Baghdadiya, called for the release of their journalist, saying he was exercising freedom of expression…

A statement released by the government said Mr Zaidi’s actions, which also included him shouting insults at President Bush, “harmed the reputation of Iraqi journalists and Iraqi journalism in general”…

The shoes missed as Mr Bush ducked, and Mr Zaidi was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frogmarched from the room.

This is a farewell kiss, you dog,” he yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

I find the event hilarious in so many ways – ranging from the sloth and incompetence of the Secret Service, Bush’s what-me-worry nonchalance, the outrage of rightwing talking heads who never utter a peep about protecting the lives of Iraqis – to all the “news” directors who repeat the video to the delight of most of the world while covering their slack butts with demur notes about covering all the news. Chickenshit as ever.