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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cost-Cutting Measures Force Company To Start Hiring More Female Employees

Well, I've always contended that if women really were paid 78 percent (or whatever) of what a man makes, no one would hire a man, at least until all of the women were employed.

I especially like this bit:
Collier added that the shift toward female staffers would also allow the company to save money by suspending its executive development program.
Read the whole thing. And yes, of course, it's The Onion.
HARTFORD, CT—In an effort to remain financially solvent by keeping payroll expenditures in check, executives at the Banford Group announced Tuesday they would have to start hiring more female employees.
“Due to ongoing economic pressures, it’s crucial for the well-being of this company to rein in the growth of operating costs, so effective immediately all new hires must be women,” said CEO Jay Collier, adding that the cutbacks would require department managers to only consider female employees for promotions within the company’s ranks. “It’s not going to be easy, but we’ve got to tighten our belts until we’re more financially stable, and that means bringing on a female candidate for every open position. Once we return to steady profitability, we can get back to hiring men.” Collier added that the shift toward female staffers would also allow the company to save money by suspending its executive development program.

BBC's 1957 Spaghetti Harvest prank

The Spaghetti Tree prank (wiki) from the April 1, 1957 episode of the BBC Program Panorama:

Here's the explanation:

On April 1, 1957 the British television programme Panorama broadcast a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. The success of the crop was attributed both to an unusually mild winter and to the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil. The audience heard Richard Dimbleby, the shows highly respected anchor, discussing the details of the spaghetti crop as they watched video footage of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets. The segment concluded with the assurance that, For those who love this dish, theres nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti.

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax generated an enormous response. Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this query the BBC diplomatically replied, Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best. 

To this day the Panorama broadcast remains one of the most famous and popular April Fools Day hoaxes of all time. It is also believed to be the first time the medium of television was used to stage an April Fools Day hoax.

Since 1955 Panorama had been anchored by Richard Dimbleby, whose authoritative, commanding presence had made him one of the most revered public figures in Britain. If Dimbleby said it, people trusted that it was true. Which is one of the reasons why the spaghetti harvest hoax fooled so many viewers. His participation lent the hoax an air of unimpeachable authority.

Almost no one else at the BBC knew about it. The segment was not mentioned at all in the pre-transmission publicity handouts.

The line-up for that days show included a long segment about Archbishop Makarios, leader of the Greek Cypriots, and a clip of the Duke of Edinburgh attending the premiere of the war film The Yangtse Incident.

The second-to-last segment was about a wine-tasting contest, and then it came time for the spaghetti harvest.

Dimbleby, sitting on the set of Panorama, looked into the camera and without a trace of a smile said: And now from wine to food. We end Panorama tonight with a special report from the Swiss Alps.

The screen cut away to the prepared footage. When it was all over, Dimbleby reappeared and said, Now we say goodnight, on this first day of April. He emphasized the final phrase.

Panorama never attempted another April Fools Day spoof, despite numerous calls for a sequel. However, the hoax did inspire a number of similar stunts in its honour.

This film footage is from the Archive Collection held and administered by the Alexandra Palace Television Society. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday links

Physiognomy of eyebrows: lots of eyebrow interpretation information from the 16th century and from the Victorians.

France Is Letting 14-Year-Olds Drive This Tiny Electric Car.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include an infographic on the cost of building your own Millennium Falcon, schematics and drawings for strange vintage inventions, all about the ruthless Pez dispenser underworld, and video of a guy being chased (very slowly) by a pissed off giant tortoise.

Physiognomy of eyebrows: lots of eyebrow interpretation information from the 16th century

1: the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance
2: the facial features held to show qualities of mind or character by their configuration or expression
Physiognomy (wiki) has its roots in antiquity. As early as 500 B.C., Pythagoras was accepting or rejecting students based on how gifted they looked. Aristotle wrote that large-headed people were mean, those with small faces were steadfast, broad faces reflected stupidity, and round faces signaled courage.

Physiognomy—from the ancient Greek, gnomos (character) and physis (nature), hence “the character of one’s nature”—really became popular again in 16th-century Europe, as physicians, philosophers, and scientists searched for tangible, external clues to internal temperaments.

John Varley: Sketch for ‘Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy’ 1828
Via the Folger: from a treatise circa 1570 devoted to physiognomy and to specific characteristics comes this analysis of eyebrow shape:

Straight brows

It is generally a good thing to hang around with people with straight eyebrows. 

The first entry describes someone with “strayghte browes”:
“he ys good and wyse trewe in harte worde and deed kepe thow in his companye,” or with modern spelling, “he is good and wise, true in heart, word, and deed. Keep thou in his company.” 
Beetle brows 

Beetle brows = goggle-eyed, shrew-like, deceivable, lime-fingered = not good.

“Byttell browes,” or beetle brows, are another story: 
“that man that ys byttell browed be ware of hyme for he ys lyke vnto the gogell yed man he ys a shrowe in in all manner of companye he ys deseuable and lyme handed be ware of hym.”
Modernized, this reads: “That man that is beetle-browed, beware of him, for he is like unto the goggle-eyed man. He is a shrew in all manner of company. He is deceivable and lime-handed. Beware of him.” Beetle-browed refers to very prominent and shaggy eyebrows; goggle-eyed refers to prominent eyes; and lime-handed refers to someone prone to pilfering.


Thomas Hill’s The contemplation of mankinde, 
contayning a singuler discourse after the art of phisiognomie 
(London, 1571) [STC 13482] includes a 
helpful image of a unibrow (Folger STC 13482, copy 1)
Unibrowed people are unsteadfast and want to eat all of your meat and drink.

Next we have a description of “the here betwine the browes and the nose,” or what we would think of as the unibrow. The unibrowed person has 
“the sygne of the graye yes he ys vnstedfaste and hontethe far and [comtethe?] good meates and drinkes nor he will not depart yf he maye.”
The passage connected to this illustration explains:
The Phisiognomer Cocles reporteth, that when the ouerbrowes appeare thicke of heares, and so plentifull or aboundaunt, that these (as the Philosopher writeth) doe discende to the beginning of the nose, and appear through the same whole formed togither: doe then signifie great adustion: and such hauing like ouerbrowes, are melancholicke, and of an euill nature: yea wicked persons, and sometimes theeues, rauishers of maydens, Murderers, but deceyuers allwayes: and to bee briefe, all vices, and wickednesse, are comprehended and knowne in those persons.
Red brows, hanging brows, and more

The whole leaf, including entries for red brows, brown hair (with straight brows), and a straight forehead.
Further down this same leaf, red brows indicate someone who is lime-handed and deceivable. Brown hair and straight brows, “not hangen but mesurable”—that is, not drooping but of moderate thickness—indicate someone of good of manners and true of heart, word, and deed. The reader is advised to remain in the fellowship of such men.
And the final eyebrow description: “hangen browes with yellow yes blacke here on his browes with white here;” that is, “hanging brows with yellow eyes, black hair on his brows, with white hair”:
That man is a stronge theff and shall be hanged
or elce slayne other eles he shall dye some
shamfull dethe for hathe of all planattes a signe
as saynte Austen sayethe, and godwyne the abbote
for the men that be borne in suche a tyme that
he shall have hys desceuynge but that clerkes
sayethe that over all thynges all mysdedes and
good prayers destroyethe wyked desceuynges.
Other entries refer to forehead types, head size, ear and nose features, hair color and length, and lack of hair altogether (“balled” men). 
It might be easy to laugh at the idea that eyebrows and other facial features could be indicative of one’s character, but physiognomy, in combination with astrology and humoral theory, was a popular pseudo-science in the early modern period, leading people to evaluate past actions and predict future behavior based on one’s visage. It remained popular at least into Victorian times. This is from The Physiognomist's Own Book: an introduction to physiognomy drawn from the writings of Lavater, from 1841:

In such a face we may search in vain, for a single expression of frankness; for the slightly projecting chin, when accompanied with small penetrating eyes, denotes the absence of sincerity. There is no display of benevolence in the oblique mouth ; and avarice reveals itself in the close-locked lips. Combine all these features, and they result in a cunning, deceitful, avaricious, and not merely firm, but stubborn old fellow. Such a man moves quick, and speaks slowly and circumspectly; for suspicion is the mainspring of his character."
Ask the Past has a passage from a similar work, dated 1562:
John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis
"The eyebrowes that be very heary declare folyshnes of maners and mischiefe... The eyebrowes whyche descende downe warde on the syde of the nose, and raysed vpward on the syde of the temples, and hangyng downeward on bothe sydes declare the man to be wythout shame enuious, folyshe insatiable, and lyke vnto hogges. The eyebrowes which descend crooked on the side of the nose declare the man to be witty in naughty thinges, and whan they be crooked on the out side of the eye, they signifie the man to be recreatife & merry... When the eyebrowes comme togyther, they shewe the man to be verye pensyfe and not very wyse." 
~Richard Roussat, Arcandam

Monday, March 23, 2015

Watch this 1.5 minute video - I have no idea what this is but it's extremely cool

Anyone have any idea? The guy who posted it on youtube calls it "3rd world space programme" but I don't think he shot the video.

UPDATE: Per the comments it's from the Thai Rocket Festival.

via Dave Barry

A 4 minute video well worth your time: The Factual Feminist on the Yawning Gender Gap — in Criminal Justice

The gender gap in criminal sentencing is six times as large as the racial gap, and it favors women.

via Claudia.

Monday links

DIY project: How to turn your smartphone into a microscope.

Infographic: How Much Would it Cost to Build a Millennium Falcon?

Want to be a street musician? The Economics of Busking.

Here's an excellent set of strange vintage inventions.

ICYMI, Friday's links are hereand include lots of spring equinox-related stuff, customized coffins, minimizing wine hangovers, species-specific music for cats, and, from 1921, the intelligence test that Thomas Edison gave to job seekers.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy 84th Birthday, William Shatner!! Here he is in 1978 'singing' 'Rocket Man'

William Shatner (wiki) is definitely not the man you think he is at home.

Infographic: How Much Would it Cost to Build a Millennium Falcon?

Star Wars fans, one for you: DeAgostini Model Space has done the calculations and a real-life, full-scale Millennium Falcon would cost over $4.5 billion. Their source material is at the bottom of the infographic.

Related posts:

Lego versions of main characters from Guardians of the Galaxy, Firefly and Star Wars debate "Who shoots first?"

Star Wars Characters Invade Thomas Kinkade Paintings.

Lost Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Deleted Scenes Found: Here's the full 30 minutes.

The Star Wars blooper reel.