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February 5, 2007, 6:55 PM CT

Politics Of Medieval Wool Clothing

Politics Of Medieval Wool Clothing Photo: Donna Coveney
Technologies don't have to be complex to be effective. Nor do they need to be complex to be difficult to master. These were among the lessons made clear to students during the first-ever Independent Activities Period class in making clothes the very old-fashioned way.

"The Distaff Arts: Medieval Clothing Technology," taught jointly by Anne McCants, professor of history, history graduate Miranda Knutson and Margo Collett, administrative assistant to the history faculty chair, introduced participants to the whole range of ancient fiber technologies, from washing, carding, dyeing and spinning fleece, to weaving and constructing simple garments.

The course, held in the basement of the Tang Center, paired well with one that McCants has taught for several years--Old Food: Ancient and Medieval Cooking. Both are in some sense spinoffs (no pun intended) from her popular MIT course, Medieval Economic History in Comparative Perspective. In the distaff arts course, refreshments consisted of old foods: handmade butter and olive oil drizzled over focaccia and wheat-berry bread, made with a sourdough starter that McCants first incubated in Berkeley, Calif., in 1985.

Standing in a kitchen pungent with the smell of wet sheep fleece, McCants explained that the IAP class sprung from discussions she has had over the years with students in her medieval economics classes about the nature of human capital, and the problem of defining skilled versus unskilled labor. Students are inclined to dismiss tasks like spinning and weaving as unskilled and therefore fungible. If it's repetitive, they seem to think, it must be unskilled. "But if you think of something like hip-replacement surgery," said McCants, "you can see that repetitiveness of a task is not a marker of something being skilled or unskilled." At the same time, she noted, students find it difficult to comprehend that textiles could make up a significant share of a person's wealth in medieval society, that something like a shirt could be a precious possession to be itemized in one's will.........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

February 1, 2007, 8:44 PM CT

Hi-Tech 'Transformer' Clothes

Famous fashion designer Hussein Chalayan has showed off his new designs.

The unbelievable feature of these dresses is that they can get transformed. The technology behind the clothes has been provided with an engineering firm called 2D3D.

The show hosted dresses that have a moving neckline, can become more revealing and dresses that can zip and unzip themselves in a variety of ways.

The director of 2D3D commented that:

Basically, the dresses were driven electronically by controlled, geared motors. We made. little pads for the models. within these containers we had all the battery packs, controlling chips-the microcontrollers and microswitches-and little geared motors. The motors we used were tiny, about a third of the size of a pencil and nine millimeters in diameter. Each of the motors had a little pulley, and the pulley was then attached to this monofilament wire which was fed through hollow tubes. running everywhere, carrying these little cables, each doing its little job, lifting things up or releasing little linked metallic plates. There was a huge amount of stuff going on beneath the clothes.

The only drawback of these dresses is that they are highly sensitive and can change with a sudden movement of someone nearby. This means that if you are in an interview and wearing these clothes then there is a possibility that you end up getting a bit ashamed.....!........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

February 1, 2007, 7:56 PM CT

Gummi Lights

There might be a baby heart lurking in you. Give a vent to your imagination with GummiLights from Jellio. Kevin Champeny of Champeny Creations designs these Candy-like showpieces.

GummiLights gives fun in daytime and high-watt illumination at the butts of the toy at night. The soft rubber lights in bear-shape are made from glossy polyurethane in classic candy colors shades a battery-powered LED light: lime-green, bright orange, metallic white, sunny yellow and cherry red. Each measures 7" high x 4" wide (approx. 3 1/2?lbs each) and costs: $125.00 (single) or $500.00 (set of five). Two lithium batteries are included which will last for less than a day.........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

January 15, 2007, 8:52 PM CT

Retro Refrigerators from Big Chill

Retro Refrigerators from Big Chill
I often marvel at how advancement in lifestyle seems to always lead us right back to something that we originally started off with. I can think of at least a dozen products belonging to my grandparents' era that are on the shelves of chic boutiques today and are being sold at abominably high prices too.

And while we are on the subject of product lines making a comeback, retro refrigerators from Big Chill are worth mentioning. In this case, the only retro aspect of the refrigerator is its 1950s look. Its functional features are designed along the lines of modern fridges. What then is the retro benefit ? For one, you can spruce up your kitchen with bygone ambience - the Big Chill units are available in a variety of vintage colors and can be a welcome change from the monotony of modern metallic refrigerators. And no need to compromise on efficiency, as the fridges pack in the punch of modern units within their unassuming exterior.

The specs as listed on the website: a 20.9 cubic feet capacity, 3 easy-clean spill-proof glass shelves, a temperature management system, 2 half-width clear crisper pans, and other amenities. A water dispenser and ice maker are optional. The Big Chill retails at $2700 in the U.S.

ViaHome Improvement Ideas........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

January 11, 2007, 7:47 PM CT

A nanotech solution to wrinkled skin

A nanotech solution to wrinkled skin
Those of us unhappy with our ageing skin may find solace in nanotechnology. Scientists who have discovered that nanoparticles prevent thin polymer films from buckling say their concept could be applied to stop human skin wrinkling too.

Nanoparticles are already marketed in cosmetic skin products; commonly because they can penetrate much deeper into skin than conventional creams, delivering vitamins that are supposed to plump and soften the skin, reducing wrinkling. The approach of Ilsoon Lee, of Michigan State University, US, is somewhat different: nanoparticles in sufficient concentration, he suggests, may stop the skin ever wrinkling in the first place.

That's because the same underlying principles of wrinkling lie behind human skin and the polymer film systems which Lee has been investigating. Human skin, Lee says, consists of a thinner outer layer (the epidermis, around 50-100 ┬Ám thick) resting on top of a thicker layer (the dermis, around 1-3 mm thick). Similarly, thin polymer films used to create anticorrosion, water-repelling, or biocompatible surfaces, and also in electronic devices like thin film transistor (TFT) screens, are formed on top of a thicker substrate - a flexible plastic, for example.

Eventhough skin is a living material, vastly more complicated than a polymer film, Lee believes that both heated film and aged skin wrinkle permanently because they stiffen up more than the soft plastic or dermis below them. The same effect is seen in dried fruits, when thin dried skin stiffens over a soft interior.........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

December 13, 2006, 8:14 PM CT

Denim Skirtall, $25.00 at

Denim Skirtall, $25.00 at
Hey, Old Navy,.

I know that your parent company, Gap Inc., is struggling a bit financially, but that's NO excuse to let kindergarteners design pieces for your stores. Skirtalls? Come on now. The last time I wore one of these I was still writing letters to Santa.

Now, I'm not saying that all skirtalls are bad. The teen shop dELiA*s has a cord version that would look adorable on a 13 year old. I suppose even this version (available in misses and plus sizes) could look half way decent over a black turtleneck and black tights. But there's something about a Skirtall on a 25 year+ woman that just doesn't seem right to me. I could be wrong, so I posed this question to you dear readers.........

Posted by: Trista      Permalink         Source

December 12, 2006, 5:00 AM CT

Daily Weighing and Quick Action Keeps Pounds Off

Daily Weighing and Quick Action Keeps Pounds Off
Stepping on the scale every day, then cutting calories and boosting exercise if the numbers run too high, can significantly help dieters maintain weight loss, according to results of the first program designed specifically for weight loss maintenance. Study results are published in the New England Journal (NEJM).

Unlike other obesity studies, which focus on how to lose weight, the "STOP Regain" trial tested a method that taught participants how to keep those pounds from coming back - regardless of the method they used to lose the weight in the first place.

Led by Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School and director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital, the study taught successful dieters a technique called "self-regulation." With the goal of maintaining their weight within five pounds, participants were taught to weigh themselves daily and use the information from the scale to determine if they needed to adjust their diet or exercise routine.

The intervention worked: Significantly fewer participants regained five or more pounds during the 18-month-long program. The program was most successful when delivered in face-to-face meetings, although the Internet also proved a viable way to help participants maintain their weight loss.........

Posted by: Trista      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 9:19 PM CT

How about not-buying remorse?

How about not-buying remorse?
Imagine driving several hours to a destination retailer such as Ikea. You plan to buy a rug, but decide to browse lamps. Since you are unlikely to drive all the way back to return them, these items constitute a limited purchasing opportunity either you get it now, or you pass on it forever. A groundbreaking new study in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that these now-or-never situations create a notable exception to buyers remorse. Instead, consumers are more likely to experience immediate regret for not making the purchase.

"Some of our most important decisions in life, such as whether or not to accept a job or marry someone, have a limited window of opportunity and are often not easily reversible," write Lisa J. Abendroth (Boston University) and Kristen Diehl (University of California - Los Angeles). "We show a different temporal pattern of regrets for limited purchasing opportunities".

Prior research on regret has found that people regret the things they've done more in the short-term and the things theyve failed to do more in the long-term. However, Abendroth and Diehl found in both a field study and a controlled experiment that consumers in limited purchasing situations initially regretted non-purchases more than purchases. Over time, purchased items were regretted more, but only if the item was seldom used or of poor quality. "Physical presence serves as a reminder of a poor purchasing decision," explain the authors.........

Posted by: Trista      Permalink         Source

December 5, 2006, 8:40 PM CT

Fashion And The Media

Fashion And The Media
An important part of fashion is fashion journalism. Editorial critique and commentary can be found in magazines, on television, fashion websites and in fashion blogs.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, fashion magazines began to include photographs and became even more influential than in the past. In cities throughout the world these magazines were greatly sought-after and had a profound effect on public taste. Talented illustrators drew exquisite fashion plates for the publications which covered the most recent developments in fashion and beauty. Perhaps the most famous of these magazines was La Gazette du bon ton which was founded in 1912 by Lucien Vogel and regularly published until 1925 (with the exception of the war years).

High fashion did not become popular among the general population until it started getting featured on television; few designers were household names, models weren't famous and fashion shows were not the celebrity driven extravaganzas of today. It began in the 1950s with small fashion how-tos during commercial breaks. In the 1960s and 1970s, fashion segments on various entertainment shows became more frequent, and by the 1980s, dedicated fashion shows like FashionTelevision started to appear.

Fashion made its debut on the world wide web in January 1995 with the launch of Fashion Net by Stig Harder in Paris, France. However, the longest running on-line fashion site is published by Ernest Schmatolla that was officially launched as a BBS first on December 4, 1994. In the mid 1990s, the Internet was still largely a research network populated by academics. But the strong appeal of this entirely new medium was made evident by the pioneering efforts of fashion's early entrants and soon both independent and established fashion publishers, designers and visual artists were online. As Nick Knight - possibly the very first fashion photographer to embrace the Internet - succinctly put it, it showed great potential over "yet another glossy picture in a magazine".........

Posted by: Trista      Permalink

November 28, 2006, 4:24 AM CT

Brains Respond Better To Name Brands

Brains Respond Better To Name Brands
Your brain may be determining what car you buy before youve even taken a test drive. A new study gauging the brains response to product branding has observed that strong brands elicit strong activity in our brains. The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

This is the first functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) test examining the power of brands, said Christine Born, M.D., radiologist at University Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Gera number of. We observed that strong brands activate certain areas of the brain independent of product categories.

Brain branding is a novel, interdisciplinary approach to improve the understanding of how the mind perceives and processes brands. Using modern imaging methods, scientists are now able to go beyond marketing surveys and gather information on how the brain responds to a particular brand at the most basic level.

Brain imaging technologies may complement methods normally used in the developing area of neuroeconomics, Dr. Born said.

Dr. Born and his colleagues used fMRI to study 20 adult men and women. The volunteers were all right-handed, had a mean age of 28 years and possessed a high level of education.

While in the fMRI scanners, the volunteers were presented with a series of three-second visual stimuli containing the logos of strong (well-known) and weak (lesser-known) brands of car manufacturers and insurance companies. A brief question was included with each stimulus to evaluate perception of the brand. The volunteers pressed a button to respond using a four-point scale ranging from disagree to agree strongly. During the sequence, the fMRI acquired images of the brain, depicting areas that activated in response to the different stimuli. In addition to the questions asked during the scanning, the volunteers were given questionnaires previous and subsequent to fMRI.........

Posted by: Trista      Permalink         Source

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