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The truck with a nipple on top: Mobile breastfeeding unit to the rescue

Posted by admin on Oct 19, 2011 in news, opinion, Yum

Yes, that is a nipple on top of the truck, and no, it DOES need to be there. The nipple truck- also known as The Milk Truck is a brand new feature in Pittsburgh, where it’s part feminist protest, part art installation. The premise is shockingly simple- it’s a rescue van for women in a breastfeeding crisis. Though it’s not something I’ve experienced firsthand, I imagine that breastfeeding can be pretty awkward out and about. Do you want to get your jubblies out in front of everyone- or should you use the sketchy bathroom to feed your babe? Add to that, a general lack of understanding of compassion about why a woman breastfeeds (E.g. ‘can’t she wait till she’s at home? Answer:NO) and it’s clear we need to re-educate people.

This is the modus operandi behind the Milk Truck- sick of getting stares in restaurants or ordered to the bathroom by the managers, the Milk Truck makes an in your face statement (hence the giant nipple) about breastfeeding, as well as give women a sheltered area to for their business.

To contact the truck, you simply summon the Milk Truck (you can call them by Twitter if you wish), they rock up with the neon nipple flashing, you get in and have your baby time and then you wave goodbye. During this time the restaurant owner will become very aware of the scene they have helped create by asking you to go to the bathroom/ cover up and will no doubt be less inclined to ask somebody to do so next time due to the scene.

Carnegie Mellon University art professor Jill Miller (the brains behind the project) says, ‘We are using The Milk Truck to start a conversation in our community about a basic human right: feeding a baby.When a woman finds herself in a situation where she is discouraged, harassed, or unwelcome to breastfeed her baby in public, she summons The Milk Truck. The truck arrives to the location of the woman in need and provides her with a shelter for feeding her baby. The woman feeds her child, the shopkeeper who harassed her feels like a dweeb, and the truck does what it does best – creates a spectacle.’ Read more…

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How the $79 Kindle Touch will change the eReader educational market

Posted by admin on Oct 4, 2011 in books, news, opinion, technology

Amazon just announced news of its first ever tablet, the Kindle Fire which has a swish seven inch screen with a dedicated browser (called Silk) and looks to take on the iPad as a serious contender. OK, it’s like the iPad Lite, but with the weight of the Amazon inventory behind it might be the first tablet that makes it into the mainstream- did I mention it’s UK (estimated) retail price will be £125 compared to the most basic iPad at £399- you do the math.

However, I’m actually more intrigued and excited with the news that they’re selling a new Kindle eReader for $79 though (that’s the US price) as this might finally be the breakthrough device which puts eReaders firmly on the curriculum. Up till this point eReaders were a covetable piece of property, but one that many people felt were slightly unnecessary- or out of their pricepoint.

This lowered retail price puts buying a Kindle well into impulse buying territory and practically guarantees that every other household will be finding one under the tree this Christmas. With prices dropping in such a manner, I can imagine that Amazon will next turn its sights into making the Kindle a mandatory school accessory.

We’ve already seen the proliferation of iPad use in high end private schools, but a device like the Kindle- with the associated bulk buy discount and personalized profanity filters- would be Amazon’s way of consolidating the eReader hold, as if they make it into mainstream public education their dominance will be unrivalled for the next 20 years or so. Thee do exist fairly sturdy school eReaders already- the Ectaco educational eReader for example, but costs and compatibility issues often outweigh the fact that you can drop them and throw them around. Read more…

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London Riots 2011: Get online to catch a looter

Posted by admin on Aug 10, 2011 in news, opinion, technology

The last few days have been very stressful for UK citizens, primarily Londoners. We’re living in the aftermath of the London Riots, and no one is quite sure how to behave. An eerie calm pervades Oxford Street as armed policeman walk four abreast down the street and muscle bound guards loiter around the front of Selfridges. Shops have started shutting from 2pm onwards and two meetings I was meant to attend were cancelled ‘just in case’. Despite Tuesday night being fairly calm, Monday saw fires and shouts in the town I live in, with hooded figures clearly visible on Camden canal, shouting and  throwing things about with more than usual abandon. London has been gripped with a fear that these ‘youths, chancers, looters’– call them what you will, have suddenly seized control and all rules don’t seem to apply anymore.

Whilst I have no doubt this hysteria will soon be under control, what I have been amazed by is how quick the interweb has been at chastising and identifying the culprits. In the past few days numerous websites have been created all with the sole purpose of identifying these people, and-so far- not one of them is in anyways a commercial enterprise;  just a pure and good samaritan endeavour to try and help people and shopowners get some justice for the abuse of their property.

Twitter has also been a goldmine of support with the Twitter hashtag #londonriots providing up to the minute information of what was taking place (though some was erroneous data- no animals escaped from London Zoo) and a new Twitter hahstag #riotscleanup and #riotcleanup. It’s great to see how the web community has banded together to support eachother- both online and IRL with meetups arranged to help clear the damage. Here’s my roundup of some of the London Riots websites that have been created. Spare a moment and take a look- you could really make a difference.

Zavilla

This website was created a few days ago, but already looks pretty slick. People email in images or upload them to their Facebook page and then you can scroll through them and see if you can identify anyone. If you do there’s a form to fill in where you submit details of the rioter you recognize and then the creators of the site will use this- anonymously- to contact the police. I don’t really know what Zavilia stands for as it’s a less obvious riot site title,and Dictionary.com tells me it’s not recognized. Hmm- maybe the creators  just liked the way it sounded? If it’s slang for something else, I’m just to old school to recognize it. Read more…

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The Breast Milk baby doll: Do seven year olds need to learn this skill?

Posted by admin on Aug 7, 2011 in opinion, random

The breastfeeding debate is one that all mothers have an opinion about- and is something to which there will never be a ‘correct’ answer. As a non mother (I realize this makes my opinion of far less value) I’d say it’s a good thing to do as it promotes bonding with your child, but if- for whatever reason-you’re unable/ disinclined to do so, that’s really fine, as it’s non imperative to their future as a human being (PS. not breastfed myself). Were this a blog on Mumsnet I’d know expect some angry responses, but  I feel fairly confident none of my readers will get to angry about my above statements.

I recently came across the ‘Breastfeeding baby doll’, and this is something I have rather strong thoughts on. I’m no stranger to odd dolls- remember the Skipper doll whose breasts grew?– but this doll feels like a new low. I grew up with all sorts of female-centric toys, from Barbie’s dream house, to babies that you fed with a bottle which then wet themselves, and you had to change their nappy. Yes, really, that was NORMAL in the eighties.

The Breast Milk baby doll feels like it takes that premise to a new low, and their website only adds to my discomfort. They have six types of baby dolls to choose from, three boys, three girls, two of which are African American, the rest of which are blithely blonde and blue eyed.

The idea is horribly simple- you choose a doll for your child, they put on the special top it comes with- covered in flowers- and when the doll comes near the flower on your chest, suckling sounds come from its mouth as it reaches for your ‘flower nipple’. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

So, lets give this odd concept a little bit of background. Created by Berjuan Toys, ostensibly the premise is to make breastfeeding more prevalent in the world. They quote the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration goal of having ‘at least 75% of all mothers breastfeeding for at least six months by 2011’. I’m not sure how targeting little kids will advance that aim,other than making new mums feel guilty? Read more…

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The rise of high tech job hunters- and the related feelings of inadequacy

Posted by admin on Aug 3, 2011 in geekery, news, opinion

The job market is a vast and scary place. We all know we’re going to have to fight to carve a niche in our industry, and it’s even scarier for fresh graduates, whose dreams of swanning into a high paying job have been destroyed and who now have to fight for work against people with NO degree but real life experience.

In this vacuum of scared and frightened talent a few gems emerge- bright sparks who manage to stand out from their fellow job hunters by dint of their intelligence, focus and dedication. When these bright sparks emerge they are feted by the media, envied by their peers and rise meteorically to great jobs in their industry. Great for them- seriously, kudos for their effort- but it does leave everyone else feeling rather deflated and envious. If you’re a perpetual B/C student you’re used to being overlooked for those who can debate as well as they can eat and produce the  type of clever analytic essays that have teachers wooing them; but it was nice to think that when you entered the job market these glaring discrepancies would be ironed out. Sure, there are always leaders and followers, bosses and grunts, but ideally you’d have a lot of people who were a team and that would generally be good enough.

The rise of the super hungry job seeker has left a lot of people scared and uncomfortable- even those who are actually in position of a full time job. Younger people will take less money, work later nights, and often lack the extra pressure of family commitments /mortgage payments etc that those older might have, (Yes, this is a generalisation, but that’s the point of this piece).

I came across Celine is looking for a fashion job recently, an online CV/portfolio of Celine, a young French girl looking for a job. She created a slick online website with a magazine feel that lists her qualifications, her goals, and displays some very pretty photos of her. It also links to a personal blog where she writes about style. My first thought was ‘Wow’- it’s clever, well executed and looks very slick. My second thought was ‘Oh’- and that was slightly less exciting. She’s remarkably pretty, she’s very talented and she’s very young- combined with a huge ambition- makes hers somehow seem like a threat. Not a threat to me directly- her goals are different from mine- but an acknowledgement of the general threat of young hungry people and how they are making me feel inadequate. Why didn’t I do a website like that? One of the main reasons would be that others existed, and you often fall into the trap of thinking that a website like this has a onetime lifespan- good for a novelty and then becomes old hat. What we forget is that not everyone has seen all the CV websites and that there’s always space for something new and fresh.

I was recently giving a lecture on how to get into journalism at the London College of Fashion, and when I asked the question, ‘Who here has a blog?’, most of the room raised their hands. Ten years ago this would of been highly unique, but advancements in tech and younger people’s greater drive has meant that most media savvy students will be putting themselves ‘out there’ in some form on the internet. Read more…

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Why Bridesmaids the Movie does not deserve five stars

Posted by admin on Jun 29, 2011 in Celebrity, opinion, Television

 

‘Bridesmaids is brilliant!’, said Zoe Williams from The Guardian . ‘Its set-piece scenes retain a charming spontaneity far from the usual contrivances of studio comedies,’ said Jason Solomons (also for The Guardian). ‘Bridesmaids is a terrifically funny, smart and tender ensemble comedy ‘, says Peter Bradshaw, in a full hat trick for The Guardian and the David Edwards from The Mirror echoes this with ‘Beg, steal or borrow, just make sure you get to see this film.’ Either it was an incredibly slow week at The Guardian head office, or all three writers genuinely loved the film and thought it was worth adding their tuppence to the film section.

Even taking a fairly jaded view of all the sources (the Times agrees, but it sits behind a paywall) I figured the film should still be quite fun. Taking it as an an archetypal ‘Hangover for her’ jaunt (their words, not mine), I figured I’d get some laughs, some sweetness and an overall sense of female bonding and friendship. I love a good chick flick, and with praise oozing from every broadsheet in Britain I thought that Bridesmaids would have to be something fairly special. It failed however- failed rather spectacularly.

The majority of chick flicks have fairly shaky premises- awkward girl likes unsuitable guy, gets good guy after she grows and realizes they’re better- cue awkward contrived situations to that effect anyways. The movie Bridesmaids was meant to shake up this traditional formula, and take a feminist step forward, a refreshing view where women were happy flying solo, and where friendship was valued above all.

To be fair, so some extent this did occur, with the frazzled Annie hysterical over her best friends nuptials and acting out because of the presumed loss. There was high jinks, there was comedy moments, there was absolutely unfucking unbelievable moments of toddler style behaviour from the adults, that would justifiable get Annie banned from that wedding and any wedding ever. Like, no forgiveness, no sweet reconciliation scene, just lawyers, a big bill and restraining order.  This mental behaviour was blamed on the jealousy Annie felt towards Lillian’s new friend Helen- who is richer, prettier, oozing glamour and confidence (think stereotypical country club girl with pearls and a line in bodycon workwear).

Naturally Annie decided to hate her, and Helen’s competitive friendship one-upness didn’t help their relationship. Destroying the cake at the wedding shower and throwing things over was not the best or sanest way to demonstrate Annie’s hatred, but this public display of insanity and cruelty (doing this at her friends wedding shower!) was sort of shrugged away– oh isn’t she kooky/cute. Read more…

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X Rated Social Media: Why porn stars are hiring Social Media Strategists

Posted by admin on Jun 24, 2011 in opinion, technology

Social media is a fantastic marketing tool, so it’s no surprise that celebrities have jumped on this bandwagon. It’s interesting to think about the effect this online sphere has on the more X-rated industries however, and just how the adult industry is managing to harness this tool, bearing in mind the constraints (Facebook doesn’t allow X rated photos) and the maintenance using these tools properly requires.

Lauren McEwen is a cofounder of 7Veils, a USA based agency which specializes in creating social media strategies for the porn world, and she’s very vocal on why it’s something all adult stars should get into. She’s surprisingly down to earth, with a great business mind,  and her acumen is another step in the long process of making people realize that licensed consensual porn doesn’t need to be seen as second class or seedy.

The adult industry has played a major part in technological changes over the last decade, with the decision to use the Blu-ray format essentially ending the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD wars- and making Sony executives very happy. Their interest in 3D has also helped televisions develop, and whilst we can’t completely say that porn has helped 3D establish itself in the mainstream, it certainly has been very receptive of the new tools.

It’s the arena of social media that I’m focusing on here, and I asked Lauren why she thought it was important for adult stars to have a digital presence.

She replied, ‘If you are asking why social media is important for adult stars you are really asking why is social media important for any business or brand. Porn stars are a business, a brand and a personality. It is important for them to get to know their fan as much as any other public figure.  Whether they are improving their reputation, growing their network, promoting their content or simply connecting with fans, social media is the most powerful direct access media tool available.’

I like the fact that Lauren approaches adult social media the same way as any brand, and that she doesn’t differentiate between work for adult stars and the mainstream. What sort of challenges are involved in working with adult stars though?

‘I am not mentioning anyone (adult stars) on Facebook that is because it is much harder for adult to operate on Facebook due to the strict terms of service. There are a few nice pages that have beautiful landing pages like Playboy and Sasha Grey, but pages get deleted so often that adult stars are often reluctant to use Facebook.’ Read more…

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