Foodie show-offs fined
"A restaurant owner in Saudi Arabia says he is cracking down on food wastage by fining diners who don't eat everything they order," United Press International reports. "Fahad al Anezi, of Dammam, said customers often order a large quantity of food as a status symbol at his establishment, the Marmar Restaurant. … 'There are many clients who make large orders in order to impress the people around them and boost their social prestige,' he said. Al Anezi calculates the fines based on the amount of food left over, and said he has received support from other Saudis for his idea."
Fashion 101, for men
"[F]shion is to many women what sport is to many men: a pastime, a passion, a shared language, a form of self-definition and a temporary escape from the opposite sex, all rolled into one deeply satisfying whole," Intelligent Life magazine says. "… Take the wardrobe. How much space does she devote to it? The answer is often: 'not nearly enough.' The walk-in wardrobe – effectively a separate bedroom for clothes, bags and shoes – has been the ultimate clothing-consumers' fetish since the mid-1990s. Anna Dello Russo, the flamboyant, self-styled 'Lady Gaga of fashion' and fashion director-at-large of Vogue Japan, has gone one step further. She has two apartments in Milan: one for her, and one for her clothes."
Hands-free dog walking
A dancer has created "a sling to carry pampered pooches," says Orange News U.K. "The 'Puppoose' enables dog owners to take their pets out for a walk without their paws ever touching the ground. Shannon Beach, who has danced for stars including Britney Spears, invented it to carry her pet Shih Tzu, Ted D. 'It was created out of necessity. I couldn't find a carrier that suited my active lifestyle and was fashionably appealing,' she said. 'My vet told me the best way to carry a small dog is on your forearm with legs hanging on either side. I used this concept for the base of the product, which distributes their weight evenly. Then I added straps so I could free my arm, making it hands-free.'"
Beware, barefaced liars
"A sophisticated new camera system can detect lies just by watching our faces as we talk, experts say. The computerized system uses a simple video camera, a high-resolution thermal imaging sensor and a suite of algorithms," reports BBC News. "Researchers say the system could be a powerful aid to security services. It successfully discriminates between truth and lies in about two-thirds of cases, said lead researcher Prof. Hassan Ugail from Bradford University. … We give our emotions away in our eye movements, dilated pupils, biting or pressing together our lips, wrinkling our noses, breathing heavily, swallowing, blinking and facial asymmetry. And these are just the visible signs seen by the camera. Even swelling blood vessels around our eyes betray us, and the thermal sensor spots them, too."
Your footsteps say it's you
"Airport security may soon have a new way to check your ID: watching the way you walk," reports the New Scientist. "It seems footsteps are as unique as fingerprints, and can identify people with 99.8 per cent accuracy. 'For the first time, our results show that it probably is possible to use this in a real-world security application,' says Todd Pataky of Shinshu University in Nagano, Japan. … Pataky and colleagues asked 104 people to walk across a half-metre-long board studded with thousands of pressure sensors, recording 10 steps per person. The sensors recorded how each foot applied pressure to the ground, and how that pressure distribution changed as the person walked. … 'Even if they have the same foot size, even if they have the same shape, [people]load their feet differently, and they do it consistently,' Pataky says. Similar sensors, which are available commercially for about $20,000 [U.S.] could be used in airports to identify passengers as they walk barefoot through security."
"Each incoming freshman at Randolph-Macon College this year was eligible to take part in a brief signing ceremony," says The New York Times. "The new student, along with a parent and the college president, could sign a special agreement that is emerging at some colleges and universities: As long as the student keeps up with academic work and meets regularly with advisers, the college guarantees that earning a degree there will take no more than four years. … [Four-year degree guarantees]work as a marketing tool, giving colleges a way to ease parents' fears that their children might enjoy college enough to stick around for five or six costly years. And they help to focus attention on the task at hand: graduating in four years."
Thought du jour
"Your body is not the real you. It's just the meat you live in. I like that: It means that the real me doesn't really have a humongous butt."
– Jessica Zafra (1965-), writer