Marketplace
CBC News: Marketplace
MENU

MARKETPLACE: MAIN PAGE
MARKETPLACE MURMURS: MAIN PAGE MURMUR ARCHIVES
RECENT MURMURS:
Marketplace Murmurs is taking a break � in the meantime, if you have stories to share with the show, please contact us.
TOPICS:
Activism
Advertising
Cars/Auto Industry
The Environment
Food/Drink
Health/Safety
Home
Kids
Logos/Branding
Miscellaneous
Money/Finances
Privacy
Scams
Services
Technology
Travel
READINGS
Boing Boing
we make money not art
Advertising Age
The Trademark Blog
Treehugger
Darren Barefoot
Environmental Health News
Schneier on Security
Popgadget
Consumer World
Micropersuasion
A Consumer Reports
Adrants
Stay Free! Daily
adfreak
Consumer News (Industry Canada)
AdJab
Consumer Scribbler (Consumers Union)
The Consumerist
SCHEDULE

Watch Marketplace Fridays at 8:30PM

HOSTS & REPORTERS

NEWSLETTER

The Marketplace Newsletter keeps you on top of stories we're working on. You'll get the latest warnings and recalls delivered to your e-mail box every week. It's the best way to stay in the Marketplace loop.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Newsletter archive

HELP MARKETPLACE
Have an idea for a story you'd like to see on Marketplace? Get in touch with us!
MARKETPLACE MURMURS » ARCHIVES » 2005 » FEBRUARY


Marketplace Murmurs is a daily collection of consumer-related news, thoughts and missives that cross the minds and desks of the CBC News: Marketplace staff...

2005


FEBRUARY

 

Funny Air Canada typo
February 28, 2005

Image of the luggage tag, from Flickr.

Apparently the job of being an Air Canada baggage handler comes with some perks, if this Air Canada luggage sticker (captured on Flickr) is to be believed. It reads:

"This baggage has been x-rated at point of origin."

Via Boing Boing

posted by Tessa | 3:32 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Wal-Mart ordered to stop harassing workers in Quebec
February 28, 2005

The Quebec Labour Relations Board has ordered Wal-Mart Canada to stop intimidating workers who want to form a union, CBC Business News reports.

The board's ruling cited efforts to "harass and intimidate" three employees at a Sainte-Foy store outside Quebec City.

The ruling says a Wal-Mart manager demanded one cashier give him the names of union sympathizers.

Louis Bolduc of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which is trying to organize workers at the store, said Wal-Mart was using unfair tactics.

Via CBC Business News

posted by Tessa | 12:05 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Every step you take, this mannequin’s watching you
February 28, 2005

Image of Palette, the robotic mannequin, from Flower Robotics.
Palette is being developed by Tokyo-based Flower Robotics.

I’ve always found mannequins a little creepy. Maybe it’s the cold, penetrating stare, or her frozen-in-time pose. It’s as though she’s watching you, following your every move as you meander through the store.

What if she is watching you? The Independent Online reports that “a Japanese firm has developed a mannequin robot that can strike a pose for customers - and spy on who they are and what they're buying.”

The mannequin, code-named Palette, is a shopping spy. Her makers have programmed her to measure the age and sex of shoppers and identify the bags they are carrying in her covert mission to pass along the information to stores for marketing purposes.

Palette can also recreate the movements of the world's most beautiful women, using motion-capture technology to mimic the gestures of supermodels, reports the Independent:

"Mannequins have been static but this will pose for the nearest person by sensing his or her position," robot designer Tatsuya Matsui told a news conference on Monday.

"It makes the product the mannequin wears look more attractive, increasing consumers' appetite to buy," said Matsui, who heads Flower Robotics.

Via Independent Online and We-make-money-not-art

posted by Tessa | 10:32 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Federal 'feebate' could pinch SUV buyers
February 25, 2005

An SUV driving down a street.
Robert Warren of the University of Manitoba's Asper School of Business said the new tax could be effective in steering customers away from trucks and SUVs.

CBC News reports that this week's federal budget includes a proposal that Ottawa impose a fee on purchases of new SUVs and other large vehicles while offering rebates to people who buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

The new "feebate" could reduce sales of "fuel-inefficient vehicles" such as trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles, the budget document released Wednesday suggests.

"The program could be designed to be revenue-neutral for the government," the budget says. "Over time, a feebate could contribute to the improvement of the fuel efficiency of vehicles purchased in Canada, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality."

People in the auto industry say the Liberal proposal, if it's implemented, could have a major impact on the new-vehicle market.

Via CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 2:02 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment

Comment [thanks Jim!]:

Feebait. Super idea, but that has been bandied about for years. Can't see the blossom coming to fruit though.

Three reasons for me:

1. It makes too much sense;

2. Look at the size of the vehicles politicians drive to set the example in; and

3. The government does not have the internal fortitude to make a stand on much less important items than this. They would go on about this till the cows come home -- which brings up BSE................................

Thanks, I feel a lot better.


 

MDs sue U.S. over salt levels in food
February 25, 2005

A salt shaker.
"The salt in our diets has turned our hearts and arteries into ticking time bombs," says Michael Jacobson.

CBC Health and Science News reports that a prominent group of doctors and scientists is suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for not regulating salt, saying 150,000 people in North America die prematurely every year from eating too much sodium.

The consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest launched the lawsuit in Washington yesterday, arguing the U.S. government should require food manufacturers to lower their sodium levels.

"The salt in our diets has turned our hearts and arteries into ticking time bombs," said Michael Jacobson, the group's executive director. "Time bombs that explode in tens of thousands of Americans every year."

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 9:25 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Pizza, privacy and our neighbours to the south
February 24, 2005

The American Civil Liberties Union charges that the “United States is at risk of turning into a full-fledged surveillance society.” The group argues that the prevalence of surveillance-enabling technologies, combined with Bush administration’s “weakening in legal restraints that protect our privacy,” threaten consumer privacy.

This erosion of an individual’s control over his or her personal information, says the ACLU, “can be used to reveal sensitive information about a person involved in even the most mundane of business transactions, including ordering a pizza.” Hence this clever little video [Flash] that illustrates how a simple pizza order might go if the slide towards weaker privacy policies in the U.S. continue.

The video came out in the summer, as part of the ACLU’s Summer Surveillance Campaign, but it’s definitely worth a look – or a second look if you caught it when it was originally released. Thanks to our producer in Vancouver, Michael, for passing the link along.

Via Michael Gruzuk (Marketplace producer)

posted by Tessa | 10:13 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Canada, U.S. heed WHO flu warning, prepare for pandemic
February 24, 2005

As the World Health Organization warns avian flu could spiral out of control, Canada and the U.S. are taking different approaches to developing a vaccine, CBC Health and Science News reports.

"We at WHO believe that the world is now in the gravest possible danger of a pandemic," Dr. Shigeru Omi, head of the UN health agency's Western Pacific office, warned a scientific conference in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.

The federal budget, released yesterday, boosts funding for Canada's pandemic flu plan, including money to:

  • Hire quarantine officers at airports.
  • Stockpile antiviral drugs.
  • Develop trial batches of a vaccine.

To quell fears, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is stockpiling two million doses of H5 vaccine and improving the country's ability to make more, said the agency's director, Dr. Julie Gerberding, earlier this week.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 9:42 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Vancouver bus shelter ad causes a stir – and maybe a few broken toes
February 23, 2005

Picture of the bus shelter ad, showing stacks of money between 3M 'Security Glass.' Image from 37signals.com
Image of the bus shelter ad (via 37signals.com)

An ad for 3M in a downtown Vancouver bus shelter is raising eyebrows, not to mention the ire of would-be glass-smashers.

The ad, part of a marketing stunt by 3M for its “Security Glass” product, features stacks of (what appear to be) real Canadian $20 bills entombed between two sheets of the glass.

While there’s some speculation as to whether or not all of the bills encased in the ad are real, that hasn’t stopped several people from attempting to break through the glass (with one sorry soul apparently busting some toes in the process).

A poster on boingboing.net says the bus shelter is monitored by video by the ad agency (which is conveniently located across the street). Meanwhile, a poster on 37signals.com says “ this would be even more impressive if they hosted this display after a major sporting event in England or Ireland.”

Via Boing Boing and 37signals.com

posted by Tessa | 10:31 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Project: Turn an obsolete computer hard drive into wind chimes
February 23, 2005

Picture of the wind chimes.

Is that old computer of yours doing little more than collecting dust and hosting the odd game of solitaire?

Here’s a ‘how to’ guide that explains the step-by-step procedure for turning your PC’s hard drive into a fine (if not a bit geeky) set of wind chimes.

Bonus: you’ll also get a geek-chic key chain out of it if you follow the directions to the final step.

Via Boing Boing

posted by Tessa | 10:02 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

School nutrition programs lead to trimmer students: study
February 23, 2005

A girl biting into a green apple.
Students who went to schools that banned junk food were healthier.

Elementary school nutrition programs can help to prevent child obesity and more schools should participate in them, according to the authors of a new study in Nova Scotia.

CBC Health and Science News reports that in 2003, researchers went to schools around the province to weigh 5,200 fifth graders and ask them about their diet and physical activity levels.

Students in a group who attended certain schools in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley fared the best. Their schools followed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's guidelines for healthy eating programs.

The Annapolis Valley schools participated in a project partially funded by Heath Canada. The program made it easy for students to choose healthy snacks like fruits and veggies instead of fat-laden junk food, regardless of their parents' income.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 9:44 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Teen arrested for bombarding desktops with “spim”
February 22, 2005

Silicon.com reports that a U.S. teenager has become the first person to be arrested for the sending of unsolicited instant messages – or “spim”:

Anthony Greco, 18, was lured from New York to Los Angeles under the pretence of a business meeting. He was arrested upon arrival at LA airport last Wednesday.

It is alleged Greco sent 1.5 million messages advertising pornography and mortgages. According to U.S. reports, the recipients of the messages were all members of the MySpace.com online networking service.

Experts have been predicting for years that spim could become more obtrusive than email spam – though the area has been slow to grow. Over the past year, however, instant messaging has grown enormously popular among the general public, with many more businesses and home users picking up instant messaging as a means of connecting online.

Via Silicon.com

posted by Tessa | 10:21 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

No ban planned for 2,4-D: Canada's pesticide regulator
February 22, 2005

Canadians can continue to spray the popular garden herbicide 2,4-D, the country's pesticide regulator said yesterday.

Some environmentalists have said the herbicide is linked to cancer, noting there are chemical-free ways to keep lawns and gardens healthy.

After a scientific review, Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency concluded 2,4-D is safe to use against weeds on lawn and turf if sprayers heed the label instructions on the product and use the herbicide at its lowest effective rate, CBC Health and Science News reports.

"The PMRA understands that the public may have concerns over domestic uses of pesticides and would like to convey that all registered pesticides undergo a thorough science-based risk assessment," the agency said in a release.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 10:03 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment

Comment [thanks Cornelia!]:

I was living in a rural area north of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario city limits when the 2,4-D issue the first time I heard about this issue.

Highway rights-of-way (including part of the property my parents owned at the time) were being sprayed with the toxic, systemic herbicide, making usually edible wild strawberries and blueberries off-limits. Some people found out when they became ill after eating the contaminated fruit. When contacted about this, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication said that the spraying was being done for weed control; people in the affected area were told to wash the fruit thoroughly before eating (which does not remove systemic herbicides).

The spraying of 2,4,5-T (another toxic herbicide) in that area may have stopped; I find it irresponsible of PMRA to claim that 2,4-D is safe despite evidence proving otherwise.


 

Virtual mini-me goes shopping
February 21, 2005

"My Virtual Model" example. Looks a bit like me, but she has nicer hair.
Virtual Tessa tries on rain coats for me. She refuses to lift a finger when it comes to the laundry though.

I have met my virtual self and I’m jealous of her hair – and the fact that she has really good posture.

On the other hand, since “My Virtual Model” has been picked up by a number of online retailers, I can send my finely-coifed wretch into battle for that most painful of springtime rituals: the bathingsuit try-on marathon.

Here’s how “My Virtual Model” works: customers key in their height, weight, some personal characteristics (eye shape, hair style, etc.) and voila! – you have your very own customized online model to try on clothing, shoes, purses, hats…

“My Virtual Model” was first piloted by U.S. retailer Lands’ End and is now available at a handful more online shops, including Sears, L.L. Bean, and Adidas.

It all sounds great, especially for those of us who find a trip to the mall about as fun as putting salt in our eyes. But I will have to be cautious with my mini-me. She looks like type who could go on a real spending binge.

Via Popgadget

posted by Tessa | 1:23 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

'Shut the cell up': Jammers taking to the streets of NY
February 21, 2005

image of a cellphone.

The New York Post reports that cellphone jamming devices are “selling like hotcakes” in New York City. The gadgets interfere with cellphone signals and can cut of reception – they emit radio frequencies and block signals anywhere in 50- to 200- foot radius.

They’re also illegal – selling, buying, using, importing or advertising the jammers is against Federal Communications Commission regulations because they could also interfere with emergency calls and the public airwaves. Nonetheless, the New York Post says that’s not stopping many New Yorkers from paying the $250 to $2,000 US price for the devices on the black market:

"I bought one online, and I love it," said one jammer owner fed up with the din of dumb conversations and rock-and-roll ringtones.

"I use it on the bus all the time. I always zap the idiots who discuss what they want from the Chinese restaurant so that everyone can hear them. Why is that necessary?"

He added, "I can't throw the phones out the window, so this is the next best thing."

Online jammer seller Victor McCormack said he's made "hundreds of sales" to New Yorkers.

Via New York Post

posted by Tessa | 11:18 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Consumer gadgets under threat of extinction
February 21, 2005

HD 3000 computer part.
Among the gadget “species” the EFF says is near extinction is the HD 3000 high-definition TV tuner card.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has compiled a list of gadgets under threat of extinction, the BBC reports. The EFF’s project, Endangered Gizmos, highlights the grip industry holds over technologies, making the case that pressure from the entertainment industry for legal action over devices and technologies stifles innovation.

Among the gadget “species” the EFF says is near extinction is the HD 3000 high-definition TV tuner card. When inserted in a personal computer, the device turns a PC into a personal video recorder (PVR), capable of receiving and playing back high-definition television programs. As of July 1, 2005, it will be illegal to manufacture the cards in the U.S. because of a new mandate from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Also high up on the “endangered” category compiled by the EFF are multimedia devices that let people create, record, transmit, play back, and share music, movies, and other kinds of digital content.

Meanwhile... entertainment moguls may be changing their tune when it comes to new consumer-controlled communications technologies. AdAge.com reports that “new opportunities” made possible by these once-loathed technologies were the buzz of the annual Advertising Age Madison & Vine conference held last week in Los Angeles.

In panel sessions and corridor chat, official speakers and attendees discussed the many new available means for broadcasting electronic content across a broadening range of platforms – and the potential room for branded messages in those content streams.

Via BBC News, We Make Money Not Art and AdAge.com

posted by Tessa | 10:47 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

U.S. committee OKs all three arthritis drugs
February 18, 2005

CBC News reports that a committee advising the U.S. drug regulator has ruled that three arthritis drugs linked to heart problems should stay on the American market. It's a decision that could affect millions of arthritis sufferers.

After two and a half days of hearings, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee said Celebrex does pose an increased risk to patients taking it, but nonetheless voted 31-1 to let its makers continue selling it because of the anti-inflammatory's effectiveness in relieving severe pain.

Panelists later voted 14-12 to let a similar drug called Bextra stay on the market, with several members abstaining.

A third vote approved the other painkiller in the COX-2 selective inhibitor class, Vioxx.

Related Marketplace story: Celebrex: Is there truth to the hype?

Via CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 4:00 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Antidepressants increase risk of suicidal behaviour: study
February 18, 2005

A widely prescribed class of anti-depressants contributes to a two-fold increase in the risk of suicide attempts, say the Canadian authors of the most comprehensive study of its kind. [CBC News report]

The findings, published in the most recent issue of the British Medical Journal, have significant implications because of the widespread use selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The risk of suicide is somewhat expected with depression, but the study found that the drugs contributed to an increased risk in patients suffering from other conditions. Doctors also prescribe SSRIs to treat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobia.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 12:18 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

EverQuest takes product placement to a new level
February 18, 2005

The jury’s still out on whether or not the game is addictive, but everyone knows a bout of slaying dragons can work up an appetite. The makers of the EverQuest (Sony) have teamed up with Pizza Hut to feed the frenzied hunger of online gamers:

Ever get those nasty hunger pains while playing EverQuest II? You're in luck - pizza is just a few keystrokes away! While playing EverQuest II just type /pizza and a web browser will launch the online ordering section of pizzahut.com. Fill in your info and just kick back until fresh pizza is delivered straight to your door. [link]

Via Boing Boing

posted by Tessa | 9:58 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Inside the not-so-cushy business of Beanie Babies
February 17, 2005

Image of a group of "Softbellys"

A lawsuit battle in Chicago over the trademarking of plush toys has taken a twist, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Ty Inc. is the maker of Beanie Babies – beanbag animals with cutie pie names like Chocolate the Moose that became one of the hottest toys of the 1990s with kids and adults alike collecting them by the dozens.

Then a cute competitor came along: Screenie Beanies. The California company behind the Screenies made a collection of plush animals similar to Beanie Babies, with the exception that their bellies were made of chamois material. They were marketed towards the computer geek crowd as "designer screen cleaners."

Ty sued, alleging trademark infringement for use of the word "Beanies." Ty prevailed, and was awarded a $700,000 US judgement. Screenie Beanies were renamed "Softbelly's™."

Now a Chicago judge has reversed that order, saying the Ty company tampered with an expert witness who was allegedly prepared to testify that the term “beanie” had become a generic term for bean bag dolls.

Via Chicago Tribune

posted by Tessa | 9:32 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

No need to fear early epidurals during labour: study
February 17, 2005

Image of a pregnant woman holding her belly.

Childbirth could be less painful for moms-to-be who worry taking pain medications early in labour will raise their risk of needing a caesarean section, CBC Health and Science News reports.

Doctors have long thought that giving an epidural early in labour increases the risk, but the latest research challenges this assumption.

In a study of 728 women, investigators found no evidence of increased risk from epidurals when low-doses of pain reliever are injected through a plastic tube into the space next to the spinal cord.

The study participants were all delivering for the first time.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 9:10 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Update: Belly wars begin over pregnant woman's ad auction
February 16, 2005

Elise Harp has the name of the casino drawn on her belly. Photo from Goldenpalace.com
Elise Harp has the name of the casino drawn on her belly. Photo from Goldenpalace.com.
Related Murmur: Pregnant woman to sell ad space on her belly

An online casino says it will sue a woman who sold her pregnant belly as advertising space on eBay (see archived Murmur), Ananova reports.

SunPoker.com claims it was the highest bidder in the auction with $8,900 US, but Elise Harp, the 21-year-old mother to be, decided to go with a competing bidder and website, the Golden Palace Casino.

Yesterday afternoon, Harp had a temporary henna tattoo that reads “Goldenpalace.com” in bold letters drawn on her belly. According to the $8,800 US deal, Harp’s first obligation is to head to Florida to show off her stomach at the Daytona 500.

Via Ananova

posted by Tessa | 12:54 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

 

Will cruise ships be the old folks home of choice for boomers?
February 16, 2005

Picture of a cruise ship
Related Marketplace story: Nursing Homes

Back in November, two physicians from Northwestern University published a report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society proposing a new model for old-age living.

Lee Lindquist and Robert Golub found that “cruise ship care” may be an affordable (and more enjoyable) way for the elderly to spend their old age.

The pair compared the costs of old age homes and cruise ships for more than 20 years (including illnesses and treatments), and found that living on a ship costs about $2,000 US more ($230,000 vs. $228,000) than facility living – but that $2,000 buys a higher quality of living.

While many dismissed the thought of seniors passing their final years on a perpetual high seas adventure as fantasy, the folks at Iconoculture (the self-professed "leader in consumer trend research and advisory services") say the notion may be more than a pipe dream for many boomers who “get goosebumps at the mention of an old folks home”:

Seniors requiring minimal care would live permanently on cruise ships. With services comparable to, or better than, long-term living facilities, seniors could partake in hearty buffets, 24/7 medical care, regular new faces, and social activities galore.

Via Iconoculture

posted by Tessa | 10:05 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Ottawa may strengthen arthritis drug warnings
February 16, 2005

Potentially risky arthritis medications like Celebrex may soon carry stronger warnings, Canada's health minister said as he announced new drug-safety measures on Tuesday.

CBC Health and Science News reports that under the new process, patients and doctors would gain more safety information as Canada's drug regulator becomes more transparent and proactive, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 9:30 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Retrial ordered for McDonald's libel suit
February 15, 2005

Two British environmental activists convicted of libelling McDonald's did not receive a fair trial, the European Court of Human Rights ruled today.

CBC News Online reports that the court, based in Strasbourg, France, said David Morris and Helen Steel should have received legal aid from the British government and it awarded them about $56,000 in damages.

It also ruled their freedom of expression had been infringed and ordered Britain to offer the activists a retrial.

The case began in 1984 when Morris and Steel handed out leaflets in London attacking the fast-food company's working practices and policies. The leaflets were titled "What's Wrong with McDonald's?" and "Everything They Don't Want You to Know."

The flyers accused McDonald's of starving the third world, destroying rainforests and selling unhealthy food.

McDonald's sued and the 1994-1997 trial, widely known as the "McLibel" case, lasted 314 court days – the longest civil or criminal trial in English history.

Via CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 11:52 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

European consumers worry about use of RFID
February 15, 2005

Shoppers in Europe say they’re concerned about the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in stores, the BBC reports.

According to a recent survey, more than half of 2,000 people surveyed expressed privacy concerns about the tags, which are used to monitor the movement of products through their distribution from warehouse to store shelf:

More than half (55%) of the respondents said they were either concerned or very concerned that RFID tags would allow businesses to track consumers via product purchases.

Fifty nine percent of people said they were worried that RFID tags would allow data to be used more freely by third parties.

The survey, which was carried the Capgemini consultancy group, also showed that awareness of tags among consumers in Europe was low.

Capgemini works on behalf of more than 30 firms, which are seeking to promote the growth of RFID technology.

Related Murmurs: Pub-crawling with Big Brother, Keeping track of the kids ... with RFID

Via BBC News

posted by Tessa | 10:38 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Home improvement problems top list of consumer complaints in U.S.
February 15, 2005

According to a new report, the number one complaint of American consumers is home improvement problems, followed by car sales and repairs, and then credit.

The Consumer Complaint Survey Report [PDF] is based on submissions from 60 U.S. government agencies, and is compiled by the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators.

Home improvement complaints have had the dubious distinction of being in the top five categories in the NACAA report for the past five years.

According to the report, typical complaints include failure to use a written contract, abandonment or refusal to complete work, workmanship issues and not complying with building requirements.

What’s your number one complaint? Marketplace is conducting its own survey and we want to hear from you. Drop us an email at marketplace@cbc.ca.

Via NCAA.net [PDF] and Consumer World

posted by Tessa | 10:38 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Online love faces mid-life crisis
February 14, 2005

Silhouette of a couple kissing.
Related Marketplace story: Love and little white lies (online dating)

This Valentine's Day, fewer Canadians will be trying to meet someone special through the internet, CBC News Online reports.

Experts say revenue growth is slowing and the number of visitors coming to online dating sites is in decline.

In recent years, the number of people visiting web romance sites was on a steady uphill climb.

But recent data suggests that while fools will continue to fall in love –or lust– online, the number of people seeking Cupid's virtual arrow is no longer growing as rapidly as before.

Via CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 4:14 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Nip and tuck goes glossy
February 14, 2005

I suppose it was bound to happen. Profits in the nip and tuck industry are growing faster than the collagen-pumped lips of the beauty-obsessed, so we ought not be surprised by the entry of a new glossy magazine devoted to America’s fascination with surgical body sculpting.

New Beauty touts itself as a pocket guide to “cosmetic enhancement.” Topics covered in the debut issue include: “The Truth about Liposuction,” “Everything You Need to Know About Facelifts and Turning Back the Clock,” “8 Smile Solutions to a Great Grin,” and “Your Complete Guide to Lasers.”

The publisher, Sandow Media of Boca Raton, Florida, says New Beauty is aimed not just at wealthy middle-aged perfection-seekers, but also at “the 22-year-old receptionist who will spend whatever it takes.”

Meanwhile... The Scotsman reports that there’s a movement afoot in West Hollywood to ban owners from subjecting their pets to cosmetic surgery.

Mayor John Duran will introduce the motion banning cosmetic surgery on animals and other operations for "non-curative" reasons.

If Duran’s motion passes, West Hollywood will become the first municipality in the United States to ban owners from subjecting their pets to cosmetic procedures.

Via Boingboing.net and the Scotsman

posted by Tessa | 10:36 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Aboriginals resume traditional diet to curb diabetes epidemic
February 14, 2005

Rates of obesity and diabetes in some aboriginal communities are up to 50 per cent higher than the Canadian average, but reverting to a more traditional diet may help address the problem CBC Health and Science News reports.

For some aboriginals, cutting down on carbohydrates isn't so much a fad diet, rather it's a more modern version of the traditional diet eaten by their ancestors more than 100 years ago.

"Other people have had thousands of years, many generations to become accustomed to a diet that is higher in refined carbohydrates," says Dr. Jay Wortman, a public health specialist in Vancouver. "Aboriginal people haven't."

Wortman believes the dietary and lifestyle changes are at the root of the diabetes epidemic among Canada's aborignal peoples.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 9:40 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Wal-Mart to appeal union decision in St-Hyacinthe
February 14, 2005

Image of a Wal-Mart store and logo.
Wal-Mart employs 60,000 Canadians

CBC News reports that Wal-Mart Canada will appeal a provincial decision to unionize its store in St-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Sunday's announcement follows the retailer's decision to shelve its unionized store in Jonquiere, Que. this May. Wal-Mart said this store was losing money and the union refused to make the necessary concessions to keep it open.

Six months ago the Jonquiere store became the only Wal-Mart store in North America to be unionized.

Via CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 9:15 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Underwater resort wants guests to sleep with the fishes
February 11, 2005

Image from the Poseidon Underwater Resort project, shows a couple sitting in chairs watching fish and a dolphin swim outside their window.
Interior rendering of what the view from a room at the Poseidon Undersea Resort might look like

A while back I told you about a resort in Germany that recreates the joys of a Caribbean holiday in a defunct zeppelin hangar. Now a submarine builder has announced plans for an equally odd resort experience – for this one, fun-seekers will have to venture to the bottom of the ocean floor to find their hotel room.

ABC News reports that sub-maker Bruce Jones has invested $40 million US on the venture, and guests will have to pony up $1,500 a night to stay in his Poseidon Undersea Resort:

Each room will feature fortified, transparent acrylic walls that look out onto coral gardens. There will be controls in each room that guests can use to adjust the lighting of the underwater worlds outside their windows and to release food for fish swimming just outside. The rooms will also feature individual Jacuzzis for those who may be inspired by their surroundings to get wet.

Jones is hoping his wealthy adventure-seekers will be able to check into the Poseidon, which he intends to build off Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, by 2006.

Via we-make-money-not-art and ABC News

posted by Tessa | 9:35 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment

Comment [thanks Sean!]:

That's quite the profit margin, I must say. Evidently the undersea resort business is the way to get rich quick! I think you meant $40 _million_.

[Mea culpa - I've fixed that mistake - Tessa]


 

Cars killing suburban dwellers, heart foundation says
February 11, 2005

Cars are killing Canadians, and it's not the accidents, the Heart and Stroke Foundation said yesterday.

CBC Health and Science News reports that the problem is suburban and rural dwellers are much more likely to drive everywhere, and that means they have a higher chance of being obese or overweight, the health lobby group said. Excess weight increases the chance of heart problems.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 9:35 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment

Comment [thanks Meg!]:

I think the lack of action in reducing car use is that the powers that be are not concentrating their efforts to cut pollution on the right segment of the population.  It's no good expecting workers, especially busy working mothers, to reduce their car use by very much - they still have to get where they're going - at least Monday to Friday - on time.

The concentration should be mostly on seniors. Once we get them to change their habits, some of the younger people may learn from them...

Getting seniors out of their cars would also solve one growing problem which is going to get worse as the 'boomer' generation keeps on driving into its old age - it will get more of the 80 and 90-year-olds out of their cars. They are a hazard we should be dealing with now.

The mantra for change will have to be - we can't keep on having everything we want. We're not infants, we're adults and we should be able to face the challenges pollution poses like adults, not like spoilt children incapable of taking responsible action.


 

Health Canada withdraws ADHD drug
February 10, 2005

CBC Health & Science News reports that a drug to treat attention deficit disorder is being pulled off the market by Canadian regulators.

The drug, called Adderall XR, has been linked to 20 sudden deaths, including 14 among children, as well as a dozen strokes, Health Canada said. Children suffered two of the strokes.

Related Marketplace story: Ritalin

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 4:19 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Beware corporate blogs: ‘Flog’ hunters are on the prowl
February 10, 2005

There’s a growing buzz out in blogland over “flogs,” or fake corporate weblogs. A flog, the folks at fakeblogs.info explain, is a blog created by a committee in a corporate marketing department rather than an individual. Flogs, they say, are normally recognisable by a number of features, such as:

  • A suspicious concentration on a single subject
  • Over-exuberant language praising a product or service to the skies
  • Embarrassing attempts to be l33t, street and 'down with the kids'
  • Controlled access to commenting facilities
  • Links to other obviously-corporate sites, or inclusion of images and video of a suspiciously high quality.
Image from Pepsi's Super Bowl ad.
Is ThatPepsiGirl a flog or a blog?

Fakeblogs.info was created – well, it looks like it was set up this morning (what a fast medium this web is!).

So far, it lists just two examples of flagrant flogging: “ThatPepsiGirl” and “Lincolnfry,” which both have suspicious links to commercials for Pepsi and McDonalds that aired during last weekend’s Super Bowl.

Let the hunt for floggers begin…

Via Micropersuasion

posted by Tessa | 11:29 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?
February 10, 2005

Image of the monkeys, © Wildlife Conservation Society - T Veltre
© Wildlife Conservation Society - T Veltre

File under the category of ‘weird things you can buy in an online auction.’

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has partnered with authorities in Bolivia to sell the naming rights of a species of monkey recently discovered in a South American national park.

So they’ve set up an online auction where ordinary people can bid to name the orange and brown critter, Reuters reports:

Conservationist Robert Wallace of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, who discovered the new monkey species, came up with the idea of a naming auction to raise money for the management of Madidi park [link].

"To discover a new species of mammal is just incredibly exciting and we decided to use this opportunity to raise the profile of Madidi by doing this," Wallace said in a telephone interview on Tuesday from La Paz, Bolivia.

The monkey business runs from February 24 to March 3.

Meanwhile... in completely unrelated news, this woman loves McDonalds. A lot.

Via Fortean Times and Reuters and Metafilter

posted by Tessa | 10:37 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

British seniors pilot new shopping device
February 10, 2005

The BBC reports on a new barcode reader system that’s being tested by elderly and housebound residents of Bristol. Seniors scan grocery items from a supermarket catalogue and then submit their orders via the telephone. Their order is then delivered to the seniors home by police-vetted drivers.

Developed by a professor from Brunel University, the system is meant to help housebound residents do their weekly shopping. It’s aimed at people who can’t physically get out to do their own shopping, and are unable to do their shopping online because they don’t have access to the Internet.

Professor Heinz Wolff says if the pilot program goes well, the system will be broadened to help seniors with other errands. "In due course, it could be possible to order repeat prescriptions, remind people to take their medicine and allow Local Authorities or Care Agencies to monitor care packages more precisely," Wolff told the BBC.

Via BBC News

posted by Tessa | 10:04 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Environmentalists take Apple to task over iPod
February 9, 2005

The enormous popularity of the iPod isn’t music to the ears of some environmentalists. The Christian Science Monitor reports that environmental advocates are putting pressure on Apple to redesign the slender white device of choice for music fetishists.

The problem, they say, is in the iPod’s battery: it lasts only two to three years and is difficult to replace. That means the 4.5 million portable music players Apple has sold so far will likely end up in landfills as e-waste by 2007.

The problem of disposing electronic waste is a hot topic these days – and North America is being chided for trailing the rest of the western world in solving it. The European Union has already passed regulations banning hazardous materials in all consumer electronics. The regulations put the onus on manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling their products once they’ve become obsolete.

It’s a different story in the U.S., where consumers appear to be uninterested in pushing companies to make their products more recyclable.

Meanwhile... here's a company that sells a battery-free universal remote control. Would iPod-ers look as cool if they have to wind up their music-maker?

Via Christian Science Monitor

posted by Tessa | 10:18 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment

Comment [thanks Curtis!]:

The environmental advocates attacking Apple seem to be quite uninformed. It is unlikely that an iPod fan will throw their $450+ device into the garbage if/when the battery dies. It is more likely that they will use the iPod battery replacement program to breathe new life into the music player, thus keeping the players out of the landfill:

http://www.apple.com/support/ipod/service/battery.html

Even if they do not want to spend money on a replacement battery, they can still sell the iPod on eBay and have the new owner replace the battery. If you do a search, you will find that even obsolete generations of the product still fetch sizeable bids.

While the disposal of electronic waste is clearly a problem, said environmental advocates are wrong the target the iPod. They should be looking more closely at encouraging proper disposal of obsolete computer components, particularly monitors, which contain several kilograms of heavy metals that usually end up somewhere in Eastern China's junkyards. This is where Chinese people are paid a pittance to sort through hazardous material so useful parts can be reused.


 

Lead in kids’ jewellery targeted by new U.S. regulations
February 9, 2005

Close-up of the inside of an orange.
Related Marketplace story:
Lead in toys and jewellery

The Kansas City Star reports that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced new enforcement guidelines to reduce the health risks from lead in children's metal jewellery.

Lead poisoning in children is associated with behavioural problems, learning disabilities, hearing problems and growth retardation.

The new rules include tighter screening of jewellery for lead (anything with more than 600 parts per million gets a red flag) and guidelines for manufacturers, importers and retailers on how they can spot and report potentially risky baubles.

Via Kansas City Star

posted by Tessa | 9:38 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

 

Researcher develops measure of food's effects for nutritional labels
February 8, 2005

CBC Health and Science News reports that a researcher in New Zealand has come up with a new measure for food labels that will explain what a food does and how well it does it, as well as what it is.

"There is a real need for values that can represent food effects that can't be shown in traditional panels," John Monro of the New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research said in a media release.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 12:07 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Snowflakes are beautiful
February 8, 2005

This has nothing to do with consumers (she writes sheepishly). But it’s February. Grey, cold, endless February. I generally hate snow – especially when it’s blowing sideways. But after taking a look at this site, I am reminded of how gorgeous snowflakes are.

Via Fark

posted by Tessa | 11:16 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Juice doubles risk of weight trouble in kids: study
February 8, 2005

The Associated Press reports on a new study that says sweet drinks – from sugar-spiked beverages like Kool-Aid to naturally sweetened juices – increases the chance of childhood obesity:

That may surprise parents who pride themselves on seeking out fruit drinks with no added sugar. "Juice is definitely a part of this," said lead researcher Jean Welsh of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Fruit juices may be packed with vitamins, but nutritionists say whole fruit is far superior.

The bottom line, the report says, is that kids need very few calories in a day – sweet drinks, whether their sweetness comes from added sugar or natural fruit sugar, add unnecessary calories to a child’s diet.

Meanwhile… the link to the article referred to above will remain active for seven days. After that, like many online newspapers, the site will charge a fee (in this case, $2.95) to folks that want to view the full-text of the thing.

Should newspapers be charging people to access archived articles? It’s a good question that lots of newspaper/blog/publisher-types are mulling over right now.

The Online Journalism Review has a great summary of the pay/don't pay debate if you’re interested (and, for the record, that link will remain active indefinitely).

Via Associated Press and the Online Journalism Review

posted by Tessa | 10:36 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

 

Traditional advertisers puzzle over viral ad phenomenon
February 7, 2005

The Christian Science Monitor reports “the rise in unofficial marketing has companies and ad professionals puzzling over whether to quash or harness the home-based pretenders.”

It’s a fitting topic du jour, considering that the past month has seen several examples of “viral” marketing and advertising make headlines, including:

At stake, says the Monitor, is who ultimately plays the lead role in shaping culture:

"The marketing community for many years has built its business model on control," says Steve Rubel, a vice president at New York public-relations firm CooperKatz who also writes a blog called micropersuasion.com. "[But] it's very hard to control the message these days."

Meanwhile, AdAge.com reports that the consumer-created ads phenomenon has boosted the sales of Converse shoes. Last summer, the company created Converse Gallery, a website where consumers could express what Converse shoes means to them in the form of a 25-second spot. To date, more than 700 films from 15 countries have been submitted to the site and Converse plans to launch a series of ads based on the submissions this month.

Ad Age says Converse's online shoe sales doubled in a month after the Converse Gallery was introduced, with most of those purchases occurring after people viewed the consumer-produced ads.

Via Christian Science Monitor and AdAge.com

posted by Tessa | 12:14 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Loyalty card data used to charge wrong man with arson
February 7, 2005

Picture of a person sifting through his loyalty cards.
Related Marketplace story:
Loyalty cards: Getting to know you

Late last summer, attempted arson charges were filed against a Washington firefighter after police traced records of his family’s supermarket purchases to the same type of fire starter used in the crime.

The problem? Another person has confessed responsibility for trying to set the fire and all charges against the firefighter have been dropped.

The man’s ordeal has provided fodder for anti-loyalty card activists like Katharine Albrecht at nocards.org, who says:

Retail stores attempt to portray privacy fears as being groundless but the fact remains that this data is accessible, and will continue to be so for years. And even though this data "might" help law enforcement officers, the potential is equally large to implicate people who have committed no crime.

Via Computer Bytes Man and Nocards.org

posted by Tessa | 11:50 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Spot the fake products: Counterfeit industry is booming
February 7, 2005

Bosch power drill? Image from Business Week
Is this Bosch power drill the real thing?

In the counterfeit biz it’s not just Gucci handbags and Rolex watches that are being copied.

Business Week reports that everything from shoe polish to motorcycles to medicine is being faked.

And the replicas are getting so good that even the original manufacturer has a hard time telling them apart. Can you?

Via Business Week

posted by Tessa | 11:06 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment

Comment [thanks bavant!]:

I think the time has come to make not just the seller or producer of counterfeits, but the buyer also, responsible. The adage, "you get what you pay for" has been around long enough to become an adage. why don't people learn?

If you are offered a Rolex watch, Viagra, Louis Vitton handbag, or whatever the product is, for a price that is so far below market value, you know one of two things, it is either a knock-off or stolen, both of which should dissuade you from buying said item.


 

“Computer” virus moves into fast lane by infecting cars
February 7, 2005

The Independent Online reports that high-tech criminals are causing havoc for some drivers who have vehicles with onboard computers.

Those with systems such as satellite navigation have been warned to secure the devices, after reports last week that the on-board computers of several Lexus models in the United States had been infected via cellphones.

Experts say the viruses infecting mobile devices are less advanced than those targeting traditional computers, but warn that this won’t be the case for long. “We expect to see more elaborate viruses targeting mobile devices,” a former computer expert with Interpol told the Independent. “Viruses that are able to cripple those machines or steal the information housed in them.”

Meanwhile, CBC News reports that the University of Calgary is about to introduce another controversial computer science course. Students will be taught how write programs that create e-mail spam as well as spy software.

It will be similar to an existing course where students learn how to create computer viruses. The aim is to develop new ways to fight these online nuisances.

Via Independent Online and CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 10:04 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Phone scam cost victims $45M: police
February 4, 2005

A Canada-U.S. investigation has broken up a Montreal-based telemarketing operation that police say bilked more than 100,000 victims of a total of $45 million.

Investigators say the telemarketers, who were operating out of two offices in the Côte-des-Neiges area of Montreal, were making sales calls almost exclusively to senior citizens in the United States.

Via CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 11:46 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Dell begins distributing “green” machine
February 4, 2005

Dell OptiPlex GX280
Related Marketplace story:
High-tech trash
Related Murmur:
Alberta begins charging electronics recycling fee

Dell has announced that it’s begun shipping a new “environmentally friendly,” almost unleaded desktop. The company says its greener computers consume less energy and less lead is used in their construction.

The Register reports that Dell’s OptiPlex GX280 was designed to meet the European Union’s Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, due to come into force in July 2006. The RoHS places restrictions on the materials manufacturers can incorporate into products that will likely head to the landfill after their productive life is over.

Via The Register and Dell

posted by Tessa | 10:47 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Arkansas lawmaker wants to gut state’s ‘fat grade’ program
February 4, 2005

Earlier this season, Marketplace aired a story about a controversial program in Arkansas that ordered every school in the state to measure and record the height and weight of students to determine their body mass index (BMI).

The result? Nearly 40 per cent of Arkansas kids were deemed to be overweight.

Now an Arkansas lawmaker has filed a bill that would rescind the state’s program, the Houston Chronicle reports:

Like other critics of the plan, Republican state Sen. Kim Hendren says constituents tell him that Arkansas' plan to fight fat is intrusive and a waste of time. Though proponents admit BMI testing isn't perfect, they insist it's one way to counter students who rely on fast food and little exercise.

Lawmakers in Texas are currently debating a recent proposal to introduce a BMI initiative, similar to Arkansas’.

Via Environmental Health News and the Houston Chronicle

posted by Tessa | 9:54 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Nursing homes overprescribe tranquillizers, researcher says
February 3, 2005

Blurry picture of three pills.

Many seniors in nursing homes are overprescribed tranquilizers that make them more likely to get injured or develop amnesia or cognitive impairment, an Alberta study suggests.

Researchers found that one-third of long-term care residents were given psychotropics, which include antipsychotics – major tranquillizers like Haldol and Risperdal – and benzodiazepines – mild tranquillizers like Valium and Ativan.

Yet many patients remain on the medications much longer than they need to, according to the study's lead researcher, Dr. Brad Hagen of the Lethbridge School of Health Sciences.

Via CBC Health & Science News

posted by Tessa | 1:28 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Pregnant woman to sell ad space on her belly
February 3, 2005

In its unrepentant race to the bottom, the bodvertising movement has taken a new turn: Ananova reports that a pregnant woman is planning to auction off her belly as ad space on eBay.

Inspired by Andrew Fischer, who made $30,100 US selling his forehead as ad space for a month (see related murmur), Elise Harp, of Roswell, Georgia, says she’ll use money raised from the stunt to bring up her baby.

Harp says she will wear the winning bidder’s logo or slogan on her clothing - or have it painted on to her bare belly, provided the weather turns warmer.

Comment [thanks Bill!]:

... I find this "belly advertising" disturbing... The fact that this has already been used to advertise a "bar" [in this case a casino], in my opinion is rather in poor taste. My reasons are quite simple. FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), is a serious concern occurring in our culture today...

If they wish to advertise "MIDAS" muffler or "Jack's" service station, I could not care less. However, to allow advertising for something that creates nothing but life-time problems, challenges my idea of responsible behavior.

At what point do we say, "enough is enough". There needs to be some social responsibility attached to every behavior. Passive acceptance seems to be the "norm" these days. I think we need to start drawing some lines in the sand and become the responsible citizens we were raised to become.

Via Ananova

posted by Tessa | 12:05 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Parents of active kids should get a tax break: B.C. MLA
February 3, 2005

A group of kids playing on monkey bars in a playground.
Related Marketplace stories:
Fat Grade, Getting Kids Active

A former British Columbia cabinet minister wants the province to give parents a financial incentive to keep their kids active in extracurricular sports, recreation and the arts.

The Vancouver Sun reports that B.C. MLA Christy Clark plans to introduce a private member's motion that will urge government to encourage children's participation in these activities by providing families with a tax breaks.

"What I want to propose today is an incentive, something to reward parents and families who make good choices for their children and who are engaging them in activities that are good for all of us as a society,'' Clark said during a media conference announcing her plans.

Clark noted that while governments rely on ‘disincentives’ such as taxing cigarettes and alcohol in an effort to encourage healthy habits, incentives for positive activity should also be employed to promote fitness and healthy lifestyle choices.

Via The Vancouver Sun

posted by Tessa | 11:25 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

The Virtual Toilet Paper Museum and other online oddities
February 3, 2005

A picture of a toilet with the seat up.

Every day, Marketplace’s email inbox is filled with story ideas from you, our faithful viewers.

During this week’s story meeting we were all intrigued (if not somewhat startled) by the fact that we’d received not one, but two messages asking us to investigate whether toilet paper rolls are shrinking.

We’re looking into that, but in the meantime I thought those tissue thinkers among you might enjoy something I stumbled on via Metafilter yesterday – a list of "Unusual Museums of the Internet," including such lavatory-inspired collections as:

The Toilet Seat Art Museum:
Artistically decorated Toilet Seat Lids. Each one is individually designed and numbered. There are over 500 different in the collection and more are being produced every week.

The Virtual Toilet Paper Museum:
A full-featured museum celebrating that lowly substance that plays such a major role (or should that be "roll"?) in our daily lives. We offer myriad specimens from the common to the exceedingly rare, artworks of wondrous beauty, and numerous informational exhibits.

The Toilet Museum:
Take a stroll through a world of toilets with your curator, Burt Stark. You are sure to be moved.

And since not all of you are bewitched by all-things-bathroom, it’s befitting to include something from the list that pertains to another room in your house, the kitchen:

The Toaster Museum Foundation:
A site devoted to educating, entertaining, and enlightening visitors about the history and cultural importance of the bread toaster.

Via Metafilter and Ringsurf

posted by Tessa | 10:15 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment

Comment and link [thanks Pierre!]:

Read all ye men and ladies too. The story of the man who invented to loo.
Read ye with welcome relief. This story so long, yet so brief.
Read with pride and happiness. And this man's name do bless! [link]


 

U.K. clamps down on cosmetic procedures amid fears of “mad cow” connection
February 2, 2005

The British government is investigating whether cosmetic implants used in lips and cheeks could trigger the human form of “mad cow” disease, reports The Times Online:

Experts were examining the possibility that tissue implants such as collagen could transmit blood-borne diseases such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease if contaminated. Although no evidence of such transmission has been discovered, the committee on microbiological safety of blood and tissues believes there might be a risk…

... The expert group’s study of a range of aesthetic fillers, which are often made from human or bovine tissue, had already found samples containing material from dead bodies and birds.


The investigation is part of a broader overhaul of the cosmetic treatments industry going on in Britain.

New rules have been adopted that would see the closure of unregistered clinics offering unregulated procedures such as Botox injections, implants and chemical skin peels.

The Times reports that as many as one in six cosmetic surgery firms in the U.K. may be closed in the clampdown.

Via The Times Online

posted by Tessa | 10:59 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Apple has top brand appeal
February 2, 2005

An image from an Apple iPod ad, showing a woman in silhouette dancing against a green background.

Apple Computer has edged out Google to become the world’s most influential brand, says the online magazine Brandchannel.com.

Brandchannel, based in New York, surveys 2,000 ad executives, brand managers and academics for its annual Readers' Choice Awards. For the years 2002 and 2003, Google had taken the top prize, but Apple takes the top nod for 2004. (With Google slipping into second place.)

The magazine says the iMac computer and the company’s enormously popular iPod music players drove Apple’s success:

It’s hard to imagine a brand having a shinier year than Apple. Notably punctuated with iMacs, iPods and iTunes, Apple’s 2004 presence was felt in the press, in ads and on the streets, with iPod coming to define the word “ubiquitous.” Coupled with strong revenue, Apple reported a net profit of US$ 295 million in the last quarter of 2004 alone and a 2004 overall net income growth of 300 percent. Yes, 300 percent.

Ikea, Starbucks and the Arabic language news service al-Jazeera (which, incidentally, the New York Times reports Qatar is under pressure to sell - FOX News, are you interested?) round out the rest of the top five global brand spots in the survey.

Meanwhile, on the subject of brands, here’s a curious site I came across via Bacon and Eh’s: the Breakfast Cereal Character Guide, which documents cereal box characters from the early 1900's to the present.

Via Brandchannel.com and Bacon and Eh’s

posted by Tessa | 10:08 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Identity theft tops FTC’s list of consumer complaints
February 1, 2005

A man typing on a computer keyboard.

Americans lost more than $548 million to identity theft and consumer fraud last year, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC’s annual report says more than 635,000 consumer grievances were filed with the agency in 2004 as criminals sold nonexistent products through online auction sites like eBay, or went shopping with stolen credit cards.

The top categories of consumer fraud complaints:

  • Internet Auctions (16 per cent)

  • Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales (8 per cent)

  • Internet Services and Computer Complaints (6 per cent)

  • Foreign Money Offers (6 per cent)

  • Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries (5 per cent)

  • Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection (3 per cent)

  • Business Opportunities and Work-at-Home (2 per cent)

  • Telephone Services (2 per cent)

  • Other (12 per cent)

Via Federal Trade Commission and Reuters

posted by Tessa | 12:58 PM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

'Queer Beer' targets gay drinkers
February 1, 2005

Two customers check out a television at a store.

Three Swiss businessmen have launched a new drink for gay people called Queer Beer, Ananova reports.

Michael Hutmacher, 32, came up with the idea with two friends and has now founded a company, Lemonhead, to market it.

"Our beer is a humorous attempt to identify with the gay scene and we hope it will help people to feel relaxed with their sexuality and not hide away," Hutmacher told Ananova.

Incidentally, while searching for the company’s website (which I couldn’t find, sorry) I came across this old spoof ad from Saturday Night. The folks at CommercialCloset.org say it’s “remarkable because it broke through very early, before most real gay-themed advertising.”

Via Ananova

posted by Tessa | 10:49 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


 

Alberta begins charging electronics recycling fee
February 1, 2005

Two customers check out a television at a store.
Related Marketplace stories: High-tech trash

Albertans who buy televisions and computers will have to pay more when the province begins collecting an electronics recycling fee starting today.

The new levy will add up to $45 to the cost of new televisions and up to $12 for computer components.

The fees will cover the costs of collection, transportation, recycling, public awareness programs and electronics-related research. The program is the first of its kind in Canada.

Via CBC News Online

posted by Tessa | 9:40 AM (ET) | Permalink

Your turn: suggest a murmur | email a comment


ARCHIVES »




^TOP
Jobs | Contact Us | Permissions | Help | RSS | Advertise
Terms of Use | Privacy | Ombudsman | CBC: Get the Facts | Other Policies
Copyright © CBC 2021