News From You 5/23/2008

Yep, it’s another edition of News From You. Yeah, I’m still behind on submissions but these are much appreciated! If you’re new to these parts, News From You is an ongoing series best described as an eclection of news, the weird, the arcane and the downright useless of interest to F-I infovores. Send your submissions to News From You.
A marital rating scale from the 1930’s rates wives merits and demerits. On this short version, I chalk up 9 demerits (3, 4, 6, 9, 10) and 4 merits (3, 9, 10, 12) making me a poor wife indeed. Worse, I don’t wear nail polish or panty hose at all but the test presumes one does. Surely my failures are worth yet more demerits.
Eric submits a link to unusual business card designs. These are really cool, worth the click. The one below is from a graphic design consultant. I should be using something like that.

This much cuteness should be illegal. {Via}

Speaking of kitty cats but not cute, Jeff has come out of retirement. If you’re squeamish, don’t click this.

Lisa Blank and Grace sent a link to an article in the New York Times about Ralph’s NY sewing contractor. It’s a small shop with a staff of 45. Apparently, his minimums are one. Another good read from Cathy Horyn. She writes so well.
Even pigeons procrastinate:

Mazur’s test subjects were trained to peck illuminated keys at regular intervals, in exchange for a tiny wage in bird feed at the end of their workday. The wage was higher for the birds that worked most consistently and didn’t take any breaks. In the end, pigeons turned out to be such layabouts that even a four-fold increase in food could not incite them to peck in a timely fashion.


Q. When you hear anti-immigrant expressions on talk radio and cable television, how do you feel?

A. It bothers me. Because I know what it was that drove me to jump the fence. It was poverty and frustration with a system that would have never allowed me to be who I am today. As long as there is poverty in the rest of the world and we export our culture through movies and television [shades of Ariel Dorfman], people who are hungry are going to come here. There’s no way to stop it.

Q. Did you find Harvard tough?
A. Not really. Compared to working in the fields, it was easy.

Thus spake Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, originally an illegal immigrant and farm laborer, now a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
I never thought of it in these terms (emphasis is mine) via an OT comment from The Last Psychiatrist:

I include the posts about money here, in a psychiatry blog, not because it interests me but because they are about the same thing. If you stop thinking about psychiatry as a medical concern, and more as a semiotic problem, and stop thinking about money in utilitarian terms, but as a proxy for identity, you start to see we’re dealing with similar concepts. Money exists because we collectively agree that it has some value– but this value is almost never agreed upon…If you want to break free of the shackles of psychiatric labels– whether you are a patient or not– if you want to “get rich,” stop being tethered to concrete ideas about money, you have to accept this: no one can tell you who you are, what it’s worth; and not everyone values you the same, prices things the same. Money and psychiatry is always, always, always, a description of a transaction between two human beings. Never is it objective.

I read TLP for his insights on narcissism. This specific entry was of how one who expressed their humiliation -in this case through murder- was a classic example of institutionalized narcissism. Not that the individual is absolved either. Caveat, TLP rarely uses the term narcissism as a pejorative. He uses it to describe the outcomes of one’s psychological profile.
Eric entertained me with these politically incorrect vintage advertisements. Spousal spankings, tapeworm weight reduction method, Santa smokes (actually everyone from doctors to babies), it’s all there. Picking a sample was hard!

Perez Hilton has a clothing line.
High end fashion –in India.
Dave Bayless doesn’t post often but it’s always worth reading when he does. Here’s a recent entry describing another facet of the innovator’s dilemma, that of marketing and Accelerating the Perception of Difference:

In order to increase the odds of breakthrough success, it helps if we identify and develop products that are really new and different. However, because of the their newness, prospective buyers won’t be familiar with such products and are, consequently, less likely to notice an actionable degree of difference on their own.

I love Dave. Almost as much as Paul Graham. Both are quiet-wise.
Speaking of wise, I got an advance copy of Birnbaum’s latest book! It’s called Crisis in the 21st Century Garment Industry and Breakthrough Unified Strategies. I was delighted to read on the back cover that he’s got a blog! The curmudgeon mutters to file this under “it’s about time”. There’s one entry up. And you think I write long entries…
Must haves for manufacturer web sites
Consumer Product Manufacturers: Eleven Ways to Engage Your Customers Directly
Katy Robinson is currently a textile designer (she wrote the recent entry on Alabama Chanin). She says she’s moving to Redwood City CA in June and is interested in job opportunities if you know of any. She’s says she interested in moving back into pattern making and technical design.
Speaking of employment, Becky (Vespabelle) was poking around and found this job listing:

Kathleen, I thought you might get a kick out of this job posting I found while surfing the federal government job website for an Air Force Fabric Worker. Here’s some of the duties:

The primary purpose of this position is to makes, modifies, and repairs articles that are difficult to plan, lay out, construct, and fit because of figure irregularities, uncommon shapes and sizes, unusual designs, or intricately constructed parts, such as radiation containment tents, nose dock enclosure curtains, canopies, protective suits, soundproofing panels, air craft seat covers, fuel cell pads, and similar items. Repairs and modifies and anti-gravity suits, harnesses, and survival vests. Applicants must also have knowledge of munitions security and resource protection.

The job is open through June 1, 2008. It’s described as a standing register, meaning it’s used to fill anticipated job openings. It pays 20K-66K. Basically, it appears to be an opening for a creative alterationist with a security clearance.
The research from Comfort Food for Monkeys could almost be interpreted to imply that lower status people are predisposed to abuse substances. Ouch.

For the monkeys the situation seems simple. They get some sort of comfort that is particularly appealing to the subordinate monkeys. One possibility is that the fatty foods help block the monkeys stress responses. Studies with rodents have shown that high-calorie foods cause a metabolic change that tamps the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Another possible explanation, the one favored by the Yerkes researchers, is that the snacks activated the reward pathways in the brain. They may have provided the same sort of dopamine reward as cocaine, which was studied in a previous experiment with monkeys by researchers at Wake Forest University.

It’s not easy being a Hemp Farmer.

Jill Weiskopf sends word of a feature on Kira Plastinina, a 15 year old Russian fashion designer. Apparently, dad is a millionaire from Moscow. Okey dokey!

By the time Kira finishes the tenth grade next month, seven more U.S. shops will have opened, which, combined with the 49 Kira Plastinina shops that dot Russia , Ukraine , and Kazakhstan , brings the grand total to 57. Fifty-seven spangly, vinyl, magenta-and-mirror temples to teenybop, clubland fashion in the form of capri-length neon-green lace leggings, white faux-fur shrugs, metallic motorcycle jackets, and endless iterations of the bubble-shape mini. Robyn on the sound system and massive, co-branded Dylan’s Candy Bar pinwheel lollipops for sale, too. “It’s not just like a regular lollipop,” Kira says. “It’s pink. But, like, Kira pink.” She already does shoes and bags and has a signature scent. Kira is the artiste-in-chief, but she definitely has help. “This lady came with a huge box of smells,” she says of the creative process by which her perfume line was created, “and I picked stuff out.” The end result is, she says, “beachy.”

Over brunch in LA, Grace mentioned what can only be described as a disturbing trend; Japan is also experiencing a shortage of engineers. Scary! I’ve always thought of Japan as a nation of engineers. Analysts think Japan will have difficulty recruiting elsewhere owing to internal corporate culture. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get with the program and learn to bleed the third world of critical intellectual infrastructure as well as we have. If we’re going to survive, we need more people to put their long pants on and study math. We have enough marketing majors. We need more people who can design and build crap, not sell crap with crap. Heh.
Speaking of trends in Asia that come to roost here, Chinese firms are bargain hunting in the U.S.
An enthusiast’s resource to hat-making.
Ashley!, a PR specialist from Brickfish! writes (!) -the recipient at my email address- about a “smashing” new campaign! readers are sure to love! I wasn’t going to print it but the prize could be good for somebody.

Smashbox Cosmetics and Sephora are on the hunt for the next beauty guru with a superstar personality and an amazing vision for a new beauty product! They have teamed up with Brickfish to launch the “Are You the Next Beauty Guru? Round 1” campaign which asks entrants to create a video , commercial or blog showcasing their winning personality and product idea.

The grand prize winner will get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to fly to Los Angeles with a friend and design the official Smashbox Fashion Week Makeup Palette! Smashbox will also be giving away Smashbox Swag Bags to the top ten round 1 entries, top five most viral entries and weekly sweepstakes winners.

The Textile Dyer has launched. This is another sustainability and apparel related publication from the people at EcoTextile News. Cost is £150.00+VAT. VAT is 17.5%. OUCH! That’s $300 minimum.
Yahzi Rose got a blurb in Daily Candy Kids (I’d link but it’s going to something else). Kysha has also updated her website.
Katharine sends me a link to Todd Hudson’s site asking if I know about it. Isn’t that cute/cool? I love it when you guys discover each other and think you’re cool enough to mention and pass it along.
Lisa sends a link to Minimum labour standards in certain sectors of the clothing industry -in Canada. Even if you’re not in Canada, you may find it useful. Scroll down a bit for job titles and definitions of job duties in the factory.
Other Lisa (Bloodgood, in OR) nags me gently with this submission :)

Hi, Kathleen! These articles may be old news by the time you post a News from You entry, but they are apparel related.

Nau undone by its own ambitions
Payless to challenge adidas stripe ‘monopoly’
Le Coq Sportif scaling back U.S. operations
With Nau gone, other sustainable startups soldier on

Kelly Rose (a technical designer and F-I member) writes:

I am writing to ask if you can post on your site about an upcoming fashion show that I am helping my friends to produce. Our focus is on female design talent and we are located in New York city. The group that is producing the show is called Seam Collective (sort of like a grassroots GenArt). I am in charge of finding design talent and thought right away of Fashion-Incubator. The show will be in late August.

Antonella Pisano sends a link to a new web venture called Rehash Clothes. She says “They also have a fashion design competition that requires participants to create a design using recycled clothing”. The site describes themselves saying “Rehashing is a fashionable way for you to trade your clothing and accessories with others online. ” Interesting.
Previously, one of the illustrious you sent me a link to Spoonflower, a custom print to order fabric service. It’s still in beta and they’re adding testers who are invited to submit orders. I got an invite. Does anyone want to test the service? I don’t have any burning fabric ideas so it’s wasted on me. Currently, the maximum yardage they can print is five yards. Email me
if you’re interested.
Another fabric show is slated for Los Angeles. Oddly, it’s folks from the Dallas Market Center. Call me stupid but why can’t we get a fabric show in Dallas?
Sue (Sockempress) writes:

Just a few days after you posted in F-I about your friends’ work in sustainable architecture, this blogger writes about a new book that focuses on sustainable fashion. I’m sending you the link to the blog so you can read what she says about the book, then jump to the author’s page. Looks like a good and thought-provoking read.

Sue is talking about the venerable Kate Fletcher and her book Sustainable Fashion and Textiles (Amazon). I haven’t read it, it’s on my radar. Here’s a free chapter (pdf). I lost one whole day last week reading up on Kate and what she’s doing. Didn’t even get a blog entry out of it. That happens way too often. I lost this morning to origami paper lanterns.
Another contest sponsored by My It Things to launch your own clothing line (closing July 15th):

MyItThings announces the launch of the “It” Designer Contest, the ultimate opportunity for aspiring designers. Entrants are invited to show off their pieces online for a chance to win the grand prize. Entries can be submitted today through July 15. Each designer is asked to submit five previously created looks. Site users will vote for their top 10 favorite designers. Then, the three finalists will be awarded $1,500 to work on their looks for a Spring 2009 collection.

A tip from the New York Times, can you become a creature of new habits? Apparently, it’s a waste of effort to kill off old bad habits. The more appropriate strategy seems to be to develop new good ones. New habits develop parallel pathways in the brain bypassing old ones.
Ioanna via BoingBoing submits a story that could invalidate many patent applications. According to the NYTimes, a law professor has discovered “a constitutional flaw in the appointment process over the last eight years for judges who decide patent appeals and disputes”. The problem can “undo thousands of patent decisions concerning claims worth billions of dollars”. In short, patent judges are unqualified for the duty. Perhaps that could explain why a lot of baseless patents are being granted.
Todd Hudson, who knows I love East West Musical Co (part two), says

Romulus Von Stezelberger from South Paradiso Leather (they do reproductions of East West leather jackets) has started a website for reselling vintage East West Musical Instrument jackets. Of interest to you and your readers is that they have scans of from the original tech packs from the 70s with sewing instructions and diagrams on each page of the website. Some are even handwritten.

Very Cool! Todd also sends this piece:

Most blue jeans are so cheap because the people who spend days distressing them are paid badly and probably suffer from work related health problems. For $109.99 (this is supposed to be a bargain), you can buy a kit of chemicals and tools to distress your new blue jeans yourself. Who has time to actually wear the same pair of jeans until they’re worn out? Speed up the product life cycle with this kit and you can throw your new jeans in the trash within two weeks of purchase.

The Made to Measure Fashion Competition looks interesting!

I wrote about this before. Designers in the UK have been protesting the lack of good technical skills there. This competition seeks to glamorize the technical component to encourage the vocation. You know I’m all for that. Here are some details:

Who is this competition for? Made to Measure is a competition designed to support individuals demonstrate their fashion design and technical skills in a live competition environment. Competitors who are successful in the WorldSkills UK Made to Measure competition will have the opportunity to compete for a chance to represent their country on an international stage, by showcasing young UK talent within the UK fashion industry.

What does the competition prepare you for? The competition promotes the importance of technical skills required within the UK fashion industry. It also supports individuals in developing new skills required in this industry that may not be taught in the conventional class room.

I was quite pleased to note their judging criteria (pdf) more heavily weighs pattern cutting (35%) and construction (30%) over design (20%) and catwalk appeal (15%).

Katy Robinson found this pdf that itemizes core skills in design and pattern making. It literally came in just before hitting “publish” so I only scanned it. Scanned indeed. It’s 418 pages and file size is 2.73 MB.
Okay, this gets me through submissions sent as of May 5th. I really need to do a catch up entry to include the back log (embarrassed to say how many but it’s over 150).

I welcome noncommercial submissions from anyone be they useful, quirky, weird and offbeat. I credit all sources, include your web address for link love. Be kind, save me some time and include your url with your message. If it’s not obvious from the content that you want to remain anonymous, you’ll have to tell me.

Commercial notices are encouraged from community members. I will print your commercial news posted such as openings, launches, new websites, news and press pieces if you’re one of my designers or allied member of the community; we’re thrilled to see your progress. Non-members with commercial notices should review the submission guidelines. I regret the limitation but if I didn’t, then NFY would be dominated by PR fluff, jewelery and handbag designers with no ties to the community looking for free advertising.

Send your submissions to News From You.

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  1. Lisa Laree says:

    I only got as far as the wife test before I had to comment; something must be missing, because if you add up all the merits posted it only comes up to 25…even assuming I got no demerits for my perpetual untidyness or lack of nylon stockings…LOL

  2. Todd Hudson says:

    Thanks for the shout-out to our made-to-measure men’s trousers website! A Fine Tooth actually belongs to my business partner, James Kessler, but we sell the trousers as a team through his site.

  3. Marie-Christine says:

    Not only that, but there are 4 ways to get a bunch of demerits at once (I only lack one), but only 2 to get merits (I miss them both). Worse, the most positive points are awarded for being religious, which would be 50 demerits in my book..

    Oh, and I love the business cards. How many points off for ‘flirts at parties and collects their business cards’?

  4. Tom Willmon says:

    Business cards:

    Geezer’s eyes appreciate phone numbers
    in large print and obvious places.

    Amusements are wonderful. Tickle my
    fancy and I’ll remember you forever!


  5. Anita says:

    I had to comment about the engineer shortage. One of the biggest problems with the engineering field as a whole is that it’s seen as unfashionable, especially among women. Mention “engineer” to people and they get an image of a geek or a nerd with dorky clothes, no social skills, and taped-up glasses. The media only reinforces this with its stereotypical portrayal of engineering types. How many tv shows are there featuring lawyers, doctors, fashion designers, etc…? Most shows featuring science-minded people play on the geek stereotypes. It’s “cool” to say you can’t do math or hate science and until that changes, students will stay away from that kind of career path.

    When I was in engineering school in the late 80’s, women were outnumbered by men by about 8 to 1. That improved in the 90’s, but has apparently declined in recent years. Women still suffer from the impression that girls can’t do math and gravitate away from math-intensive fields.

    I wonder, also, if it’s a symptom of the culture of people wanting to make loads of money for little work. Like in fashion, so many people only see the glamour and flash, but ignore that it actually takes work to get to that point.

  6. sfriedberg says:

    I am a male engineer, and I really wish I knew an effective way to get more women into engineering. It could literally double the pool of potential job candidates, and we have a lot of trouble finding qualified engineers.

    My experience follows Anita’s comments above. When I was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, teaching computer science, my introductory undergraduate classes were pretty close to a 50/50 split between male and female students. Advanced undergraduate and masters level courses were down to about 85/15, and I think there were just one or two female doctoral candidates in the whole (large) department. IIRC, there were three women on the faculty. This was 1988-1992. What’s really sad is that these proportions have not changed much over decades! I just checked and there are five women among the 38 faculty listed.

    In the corporate division I work for now, there are three women in the engineering force, four if you count the technical publications writer, out of about 100 people. My employer is definitely sensitive to equal opportunity hiring issues. But I don’t know what we are doing to encourage more women to enter the pool of applicants.

    There is more to this than simple mathophobia. Some highly technical fields in the biosciences are strongly dominated by women, although not as strongly as “traditional” engineering fields by men. I hate the idea that this is simple “hard” versus “soft” stereotypes at work.

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