National / International News

NHS 'under pressure', says Drakeford

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:56
The Welsh NHS is a "system under pressure" and the ambulance service performance "not where we would like it to be", Health Minister Mark Drakeford says.

Pliny the Elder: A case study in scarcity marketing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:54

Pliny the Elder was the Roman naturalist credited with first identifying hops.

Pliny the Elder is also a beer, and, today, a case study in "scarcity marketing," said Natalie Cilurzo, the co-owner of Russian River Brewing Company.

"We don’t do any advertising,” Cilurzo said. “As far as our marketing, I blog very infrequently on our website. We have a Facebook page, I try to post like once a week... maybe."

Despite the sparse marketing, demand for Russian River's signature beer couldn’t be greater. Cilurzo says on weekends, their brew pub in Santa Rosa is packed.

“We usually have lines up front on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings before we open,” Cilurzo said. “I heard yesterday, the Google Bus was here.”

Russian River Brewing Company also sells bottles of Pliny the Elder, in limited quantities, to a couple hundred stores in California and Colorado. (The beer, by the way, is pronounced Pline-y, unlike its namesake Roman naturalist whose name is pronounced with a short “i.”)

One of those stores is Ledger’s in Berkeley. I got to to the store at 4:00 p.m., which is when I was told the Pliny gets delivered.

Turns out, the beer came early and they were already out. Aviv Gerber was one of the lucky ones. He’s 29, a bartender, and he found out about Pliny at the dog park.

“I heard it’s only here on Wednesdays, and it’s now limited to one bottle per person. And I was curious,” Gerber said.

Most stores limit the number of bottles a customer can buy because, in the past, one guy would come in and buy the whole lot and anger customers. In fact, the Russian River Brewery now delivers the beer in unmarked trucks because some fans were known to follow the trucks from store to store.

I walked back into the store and spotted Cole Yacco. He’s 32 and works there. Ledger’s is my neighborhood store and so Cole hooked me up with a Pliny. He kept the beer under the counter and out of sight of the customers.

“I’m trying to hide them,” Cole said. “They can’t see, they’ll get really mad.”

I paid for mine and went home.

I have to say, the bottle is a little underwhelming. The label is super simple and you could easily miss Pliny the Elder on a shelf. As for the beer? It’s super dry, super hoppy and totally worth the hassle of tracking it down. Or so it seemed, says Nir Eyal, the author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products.

“Scarcity has this effect of making people perceive products as more valuable simply for the fact that they’re scarce,” Eyal said.

He said it’s not just psychological: Studies have shown it’s physiological.

“They took a look at what was happening inside people’s brains when they were trying wine of different price points,” Eyal said.  

In other words, some wines were more valuable and scarce than others. Eyal said its not that people just liked the most expensive wine.

“But their brains actually perceived the wine differently when they tasted the $90 wine versus the cheap wine,” Eyal said. “And then they didn’t tell the participants that it was the same wine all along.”

Eyal said what’s happening is that one piece of information — that something is scarce — is short-circuiting the brain. There’s also the fact that scarcity makes for a good story. Eyal said if you tell people, “Hey, this beer uses high-quality hops and is made in small batches,” nobody is going to remember that.

But if you say, "Hey, I have this crazy story about how you can buy a limited amount and can you believe it and the lines?"

That’s a really easy story for one person to transmit to the other, Eyan says. Eyal said for scarcity marketing to work, the scarcity has to have, at the very least, an aura of legitimacy.

When it comes to Pliny the Elder, scarcity is more than an aura. Natalie Cilurzo  says she and her husband considered making more beer, but that would mean taking on more debt, stress and work.

“This is always been a lifestyle venture for us, you know we’re a married couple,” Cilurzo said. And plus, “scarcity breeds demand and that’s not that by design for us.”

She says it’s been a winning formula.

Pliny the Elder: A case study in scarcity marketing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:54

Pliny the Elder was the Roman naturalist credited with first identifying hops.

Pliny the Elder is also a beer, and, today, a case study in "scarcity marketing," said Natalie Cilurzo, the co-owner of Russian River Brewing Company.

"We don’t do any advertising,” Cilurzo said. “As far as our marketing, I blog very infrequently on our website. We have a Facebook page, I try to post like once a week... maybe."

Despite the sparse marketing, demand for Russian River's signature beer couldn’t be greater. Cilurzo says on weekends, their brew pub in Santa Rosa is packed.

“We usually have lines up front on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings before we open,” Cilurzo said. “I heard yesterday, the Google Bus was here.”

Russian River Brewing Company also sells bottles of Pliny the Elder, in limited quantities, to a couple hundred stores in California and Colorado. (The beer, by the way, is pronounced Pline-y, unlike its namesake Roman naturalist whose name is pronounced with a short “i.”)

One of those stores is Ledger’s in Berkeley. I got to to the store at 4:00 p.m., which is when I was told the Pliny gets delivered.

Turns out, the beer came early and they were already out. Aviv Gerber was one of the lucky ones. He’s 29, a bartender, and he found out about Pliny at the dog park.

“I heard it’s only here on Wednesdays, and it’s now limited to one bottle per person. And I was curious,” Gerber said.

Most stores limit the number of bottles a customer can buy because, in the past, one guy would come in and buy the whole lot and anger customers. In fact, the Russian River Brewery now delivers the beer in unmarked trucks because some fans were known to follow the trucks from store to store.

I walked back into the store and spotted Cole Yacco. He’s 32 and works there. Ledger’s is my neighborhood store and so Cole hooked me up with a Pliny. He kept the beer under the counter and out of sight of the customers.

“I’m trying to hide them,” Cole said. “They can’t see, they’ll get really mad.”

I paid for mine and went home.

I have to say, the bottle is a little underwhelming. The label is super simple and you could easily miss Pliny the Elder on a shelf. As for the beer? It’s super dry, super hoppy and totally worth the hassle of tracking it down. Or so it seemed, says Nir Eyal, the author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products.

“Scarcity has this effect of making people perceive products as more valuable simply for the fact that they’re scarce,” Eyal said.

He said it’s not just psychological: Studies have shown it’s physiological.

“They took a look at what was happening inside people’s brains when they were trying wine of different price points,” Eyal said.  

In other words, some wines were more valuable and scarce than others. Eyal said its not that people just liked the most expensive wine.

“But their brains actually perceived the wine differently when they tasted the $90 wine versus the cheap wine,” Eyal said. “And then they didn’t tell the participants that it was the same wine all along.”

Eyal said what’s happening is that one piece of information — that something is scarce — is short-circuiting the brain. There’s also the fact that scarcity makes for a good story. Eyal said if you tell people, “Hey, this beer uses high-quality hops and is made in small batches,” nobody is going to remember that.

But if you say, "Hey, I have this crazy story about how you can buy a limited amount and can you believe it and the lines?"

That’s a really easy story for one person to transmit to the other, Eyan says. Eyal said for scarcity marketing to work, the scarcity has to have, at the very least, an aura of legitimacy.

When it comes to Pliny the Elder, scarcity is more than an aura. Natalie Cilurzo  says she and her husband considered making more beer, but that would mean taking on more debt, stress and work.

“This is always been a lifestyle venture for us, you know we’re a married couple,” Cilurzo said. And plus, “scarcity breeds demand and that’s not that by design for us.”

She says it’s been a winning formula.

Briton killed in Santorini incident

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:50
A British man has been killed in an incident on the Greek island of Santorini, the Foreign Office confirms.

Australia in 'beheading plot' raids

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:48
Police carry out anti-terrorism raids in Sydney sparked by intelligence that Islamist extremists were planning random killings in Australia.

VIDEO: Police search Alice suspect's home

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:47
Police have been searching the property of suspect, Arnis Zalkalns, as they continue to investigate the disappearance of 14-year-old Alice Gross.

GB to face USA in Davis Cup opener

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:41
Great Britain will face seventh seeds the USA in the first round of the 2015 Davis Cup World Group in March.

AUDIO: Sumner on 'shock' of Ian Curtis death

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:37
New Order's Bernard Sumner says the death of Joy Division bandmate Ian Curtis turned his world "upside down".

Archbishop admits 'doubts about God'

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:30
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says he sometimes has doubts in his belief in God, he tells the BBC.

Users frustrated by Apple iOS update

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:27
Apple iPhone and iPad users take to social media to express their frustration over installing the company's latest software update.

San Francisco Politician Goes Public With His Choice To Take Anti-HIV Drug

NPR News - Thu, 2014-09-18 07:00

City Supervisor Scott Wiener said he is taking a pill that can dramatically reduce the risk of HIV infection. He appears to be the first elected official to have gone public with the decision.

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Thompson wins Laser bronze for GB

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 06:57
Nick Thompson wins bronze medal for Great Britain in the Laser class at the Sailing World Championships in Santander.

The numbers for September 18, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-09-18 06:43

The polls are open now to Scotland's 4.7 million registered voters - about 97 percent of the population - and they are heading to the polls to make big decisions about the country's independence. Voting ends at 10 p.m. local time, and ballots will be hand-counted overnight, Bloomberg reported. Results are expected Friday morning.

Here's what we're reading - and some other numbers we're watching - Thursday morning.

12 percent

Only a fraction of women who experience sexual assault on college campuses go to police. That number is key to "It's On Us", a new awareness campaign the Obama administration is expected to announce Friday, according to the Associated Press. The effort will reportedly focus on young men, urging them to confront what is often a hidden problem by promoting bystander intervention and victim support.

$13 trillion

The estimated spending power of the 4 billion low-income customers around the world, especially places like India. Multinational corporations like Pepsi and GE are beginning to recognize these consumers - some of whom live on pennies a day - and develop new products marketed to them, the New York Times reported. After making headway with these less expensive products, some companies have been able to up-sell wealthier consumers in developing countries or co-opt the new products to a wider market.

0.00385 percent

That's the portion of Apple customers who have had information disclosed due to government requests, according to a new section of the company's website that launched Wednesday. Apple has come under intense scrutiny after it announced a new mobile payment system about a week after nude photos of several celebrities were stolen, apparently from their iCloud accounts. The new site includes detailed instructions for securing devices and an open letter from Tim Cook, in which the Apple CEO emphatically denies that the company grants government agencies easy access to users' data.

Women convicted of 'pyramid scheme'

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 06:31
Six women are convicted of running a "pyramid scheme" in south-west England and south Wales in which thousands of people lost money.

California wildfire doubles in size

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 06:29
A wildfire threatening thousands of homes in central California doubled in size overnight, burning 111 square miles (288 sq-km).

Man guilty of murdering wife and son

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 06:20
A man who killed his wife and young son in Midlothian has been found guilty of both their murders.

Arrests made over Chile subway bomb

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 06:10
Officials in Chile say three people have been arrested in connection with a bomb that injured 14 people at a subway station in Santiago earlier this month.

Ukrainian President Thanks Congress For Supporting Freedom

NPR News - Thu, 2014-09-18 06:08

Petro Poroshenko called Russia's annexation of Crimea a "cynical act of treachery." He is in the U.S. meeting with President Obama and others to lobby for increased aid to fight insurgents.

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Why women's pockets are useless: A history

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-09-18 05:33

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus descend upon us today, and tech reviewers are throwing it a pretty elaborate welcome party. Amid the loving descriptions of its crisp camera, the odes to its intuitive operating system and the near-reverence for its sleek lines and its mystical Apple-ness, one question (quite literally) looms large: Is the bigger iPhone 6 Plus a "pocketable" size?

Case in point:

The Verge's Nilay Patel started his video review like this...

Screenshot: The Verge

...and ended it like this:

Screenshot: The Verge 

Lance Ulanoff at Mashable wasn't sold on the 5.5-inch "phablet" (OK, maybe there is more than one controversy over this phone):

"To be honest, I can see why, even with the heftier price tag, the iPhone 6 Plus is so alluring, but no, I won’t be carrying that giant device in my pocket or feeling its slightly hefty body tottering in my hand. I prefer the iPhone 6."

 Yahoo’s David Pogue agrees:

“The small of hand won’t be thrilled about the added width. The iPhone 6 Plus, in particular, is a pocket-filler.” 

The list goes on. The conversation hinges on the company's decision to release a gigantic phone. However – and we're not the first to point out – the "pocket problem" would be more accurately described as a "men's pocket problem."

Most "pockets" in women's clothing, are, pretty much without question, useless. Some won't open at all. A demonstration:

The great gendered pocket divide is real, and it did not happen by accident. As Christian Dior is reported to have said in 1954: "Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration." 

This is how it happened:

1700s

Pockets used to do a lot more than decorate, writes fashion historian Barbara Burman in of "Pockets of History: The Secret Life of an Everyday Object." Most 17th and 18th century women tied separate pocket bags underneath their dresses, which they would access through a slit in their skirts and petticoats. 

Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Owners thought of them as meaningful pieces of clothing in their own right. They would often spend years embroidering and embellishing them - after all, for many people who shared close quarters, a pocket was one of few truly private places to keep personal possessions.  

LACMA/Wikimedia Commons

Early 1800s

As the 18th century turned into the 19th, however, women's pockets shrunk and sometimes disappeared – especially for those with means.

"The design of the times was 'Greek Goddesses,'" says fashion historian Elizabeth Morano, a professor at Parsons School of Design. "Women...would study the ancient texts and couldn't find pockets, so they didn't use them in the dress. Some of those stories are just stories, but the line was a lot more sleek. Think of the neoclassical dress. It's straight up and down. The line of the clothing changes completely." 

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, c. 1805 Take, for instance, this portrait of Empress Josephine, hanging out in a forest circa 1805:  

She wasn't wearing a pocket under her empire gown, and neither were her wealthy contemporaries. Inner-clothing storage space gave way to the external "reticule," considered a precursor to the modern handbag. They were carried on arms or in hands, and they held just about nothing. Curators at the Victoria and Albert Museum say reticules had "barely enough room for a hankie and a coin, never mind the mirror, watch, keys, needlecase and oranges that a pocket usually contained."

In terms of functionality, it was a major downgrade. 

"If I were to interpret [the change]," says Morano, "it comes down to 'you don't want this functional item. It's not traditionally feminine, it's not fashionable.'"

Well-to-do women weren't supposed to need their hands for labor, and carrying money just wasn't supposed to be a wife's concern. In Burman's words, "the frustrations and limitations of women’s access to money and ownership of property were neatly mirrored in the restricted scope of their pockets." 

LACMA/Wikimedia Commons

Not everyone would let go of pockets or "dimity bags" without a fight — especially older women, young children, and working-class servants. As the granddaughter of President John Adams and the first lady Abigail Adams wrote: “All old ladies wore these pockets and carried their keys in them." 

Even when smaller, sewn in pockets came back into vogue in the later nineteenth century, there was still a distinction between lower-class women’s ample pocket bags and the “bag like slip of silk” satirized in a popular story from the time called "Grandmma’s pockets." 

Late 1800s

Men's clothing, meanwhile, had more pockets than ever, Morano says, many of which weren't visible to the outside observer. The hands-in-pocket gesture was a staple of nineteenth century photography. Pockets were for men's men.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Many family portraits of the time feature the husband standing, hand-in-pocket, as his wife sat with her hands folded on her lap or around a Bible.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1900s

Along with many of the trappings of the Victorian era, fashion gave way to function for Westerners of all classes and genders at the outbreak of the World Wars. Women working on the war movement were wearing trousers for the first time, mostly men's clothes tailored to fit. 

 

Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

These men's pants had menswear pockets. But after the war, as a two-legged style slowly, but surely took off among more daring women, trousers taken up by the designers of the time - Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel among them. In the words of a Vogue editor in 1939, slacks had to be:

"‘Not necessarily tailored like a man’s—after all, your figure isn’t the same. […] In the early, experimental days, slacks too often were accompanied by too mannish accessories."

That, right there, was the trick: Acceptable trousers needed to be feminized - and one way to do it? Whittle down those bulky masculine pockets.

Or, hey, do away with them all together.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

By the 1970s, trouser pants were here to stay, bolstered by the feminist movement and glossy magazines alike. At the same time, two more fashion trends endeavored to keep the pocket down: Statement handbags and and super-thin models. 

An ideal of slenderness — not just self-sufficiency — tightened fabrics and streamlined design, at about the same time the "it bag" became a thing. "Stay away from bulky pockets" became the rule for looking long and lean.

Much like earlier centuries' reticule and pocket bag, the form transferred the function. Says Morano: "Handbags have taken such importance recently as accessories that convey meaning... it's another reason [pockets could be] becoming obsolete."

Roger Jackson/Hulton Archive

Smartphones, echoing the "needlecases and oranges" before them, have ended up in bags women carry on their arms or in their hands. Most purses come with a special phone flap. In the late 1980s, luxury handbags started to go by one name ("Kate", "Birkin"):

Sex and the City

2000s

Enter the giant smartphone.

"Maybe men are going to have to start carrying bags around," Morano says. "Backpacks? They tend to have more pockets."

And that, I suppose, is what we call "wearable technology."

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

DJ Travis jury considers verdict

BBC - Thu, 2014-09-18 05:28
The jury in the sex abuse trial of the former BBC broadcaster Dave Lee Travis retires to consider its verdicts.
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