Interview with Kate Moore, author of The Radium Girls

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In the early days of the 20th century, the United States Radium Corporation had factories in New Jersey and Illinois, where they employed mostly women to paint watch and clock faces with their luminous radium paint. The paint got everywhere — hair, hands, clothes, and mouths.

They were called the shining girls, because they quite literally glowed in the dark. And they were dying… More at npr.

Well worth a listen and a read.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All

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The right price—the one that will extract the most profit from consumers’ wallets—has become the fixation of a large and growing number of quantitative types, many of them economists who have left academia for Silicon Valley. It’s also the preoccupation of Boomerang Commerce, a five-year-old start-up founded by Hariharan, an Amazon alum. He says these sorts of price experiments have become a routine part of finding that right price—and refinding it, because the right price can change by the day or even by the hour. (Amazon says its price changes are not attempts to gather data on customers’ spending habits, but rather to give shoppers the lowest price out there.) More at The Atlantic.

This is a big problem which is only getting worse as time passes. The real problem is that no matter what online stores do, many people still have a perception that retail stores are more expensive.

I noticed this before Christmas when a local jewellers was only too happy to match the price of WatchShop or other online watch sellers. We ended up buying 2 watches as Christmas presents and saved over £250 in the process. However, if I had walked in and bought the watches for the sticker prices, which I never do with watches, I would have been £250 out.

And we shouldn’t forget that retail stores use all kinds of tricks to get us to spend more. Argos, PC World and the rest often post prices that change all of the time and the bundles they sometimes offer are simply ridiculous.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that buying anything makes me a sucker. The markups are huge compared to the production costs, I am either paying for the stores lease and staff or an online organisations profits and that is the way it goes. That is business.

When you buy anything, you pay more than you should and that applies whether online or in a bricks and mortar store. Without that there would be nothing to buy so maybe we should just do our own research, wait for the very best price and not get hooked on instant gratification.

Apple Watch NikeLab: not quite right

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John Gruber may have stumbled upon an area that Apple has been criticised for recently and that is ticking every single box when it comes to design. I wouldn’t have thought about it, but he is dead right-

New limited edition Nike Apple Watch — space gray watch with a bone-colored watch strap with near-black accents. Looks cool in a Stormtrooper-y way. (I’m thinking the pin for the watch strap should be space gray too, though, right?)

The scary diner

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This was a particularly fun assignment. Done for Fantasy Flight Games’ The Investigators of Arkham Horror, Tales of Adventure and Madness rulebook, which is chock full of great illustrations and graphics. Normally I spend a lot of time trying to create depth but the art brief had a “Where’s Waldo” kind of thing going and I thought a flatter, more graphical style might be cool… The full-sized image is at Deviant Art.

The more you look, the more you see. Clever stuff.

Earth Between the Rings of Saturn

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The spacecraft captured the view on April 12, 2017, at 10:41 p.m. PDT (1:41 a.m. EDT on April 13). Cassini was 870 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away from Earth when the image was taken. Although far too small to be visible in the image, the part of Earth facing Cassini at the time was the southern Atlantic Ocean… More at NASA.

That is an amazing photo purely because it needs explaining before you know what it is.

If you have these vinyl records in your collection…

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‘There are a few examples of valuable records people can be looking out for,’ Barton says. ‘The Beatles’ White Album is one. The early editions were individually numbered; The Beatles had 1-4, so these are obviously really rare, but any number under a 1,000 is worth £3000+. Even numbers under 10,000 are worth about £1,000.

‘David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World came with various picture sleeves, and one is known as the ‘dress cover’ as Bowie is sporting a frock – this alternative cover is worth north of £1,000.’

Barton adds: ‘Early copies of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon had a solid blue centre label and came with two posters and two stickers. These fetch £1,000… More at House Beautiful.

The world of record collecting has dived somewhat over recent years, but I have a few Queen discs which run into 4 figures in terms of value. I could never sell them.

How Russia Tried to Cover Up a KGB Murder in London

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In the weeks after Alexander Litvinenko was given a deadly dose of polonium-210 from a teapot in a Central London hotel, Russian authorities assured the British government that they would cooperate with the investigation and allow police officers to interview the two prime suspects in Moscow.

As soon as the detectives landed in Russia in December 2006, it became clear that the authorities were not there to help. There had been no public announcement of the mission to secure evidence in Moscow but a phalanx of photographers and videocameras greeted their arrival at the airport… More at The Daily Beast.

How could you not want to read this article with a title like that?