The person you eat bread with

[Companion – Ethymology] From Middle English companion, from Old French compaignon “companion”, from Late Latin compāniōn- nominative singular compāniō, from com- +‎ pānis literally, with + bread, a word first attested in the Frankish Lex Salica as a translation of a Germanic word, probably Frankish galaibo, gahlaibo “messmate”, literally “with-bread”, from hlaib “loaf, bread”. Compare also Old High German galeipo “messmate”, Gothic

British conman tricks Iraqi authorities to spend GBP38mn on bomb detection devices with no function whatsoever

In the meantime, McCormick approached Minnesota Global, a mail-order business in Minneapolis, the manufacturer of the Lil’ Orbits doughnut-making machine and the distributor of the remaining stock of the Gopher golf ball finder. At the end of 2005 he ordered 100 golf ball detectors from Minnesota at $19.50 each and, a few months later, 200 more. In his garage in Somerset, he later told police, he programmed these for “electrostatic ion attraction” using a collection of jam jars and spice pots that contained samples of drugs and explosives. In each jar, he placed small colored stickers and left them for a week to absorb the vapor of whatever substance his customers might wish to detect. The samples included cannabis; folded fragments of a Japanese 1,000 yen note; and a piece of gauze McCormick had used to staunch a nosebleed, which he later explained was used to aid in human detection. After a sticker had spent a week absorbing vapor, he glued it inside the Gopher. He then removed the plastic badge that identified it as a golf ball finder, and replaced it with one bearing ATSC’s logo. This became the ADE 100—sold for the first time, in March 2006, to McCormick’s agents in Lebanon. Price: $3,000 each.

via In Iraq, the Bomb-Detecting Device That Didnt Work, Except to Make Money – Businessweek.

Sex worker murdered by the man Swedish courts gave full custody of her children to

Last week Thursday an outspoken Swedish sex worker who called herself “Petite Jasmine” was stabbed to death by her former partner – a partner that Swedish court at one point gave full custody of their children on the basis of her work.

Last week Thursday an outspoken Swedish sex worker who called herself “Petite Jasmine” was stabbed to death by her former partner – a partner that Swedish court at one point gave full custody of their children on the basis of her work.

Waste and disposability as a tool for economic growth and profit

In 1956, Lloyd Stoffer famously stated “The future of plastics in the trash can.”

At the time, this was considered a very controversial statement, and he got in some trouble for it. Stoffers sentiment comes during a period where industry was facing a unique problem. The Volkswagen theory of evolution left was to build something to last, without versions, fashions, and make it easy to fix. So when someone bought it, that was it. They only needed one. With this mode of production, markets were saturating. The opportunities for growth and profit were diminishing and reaching stability.

Companies and industries that wanted to grow, that were premised on growth and profit started to intervene at a material level and developed disposability—planned obsolescence and fashion supported by a regime of advertising. They designed a throw away society. People bucked against this design. They had just come out of the Depression in the United States, and an ethos of saving, fixing, and stewardship was the norm. Industry was designing a shift in values.In his 1960 book The Wastemakers, Vance Packard writes against this sort of strategy for profit.He images a city called Cornucopia City, “located on the edge of a cliff, and the ends of [the] assembly lines can be swung to the front or rear doors depending upon the public demand for the product being produced. When demand is slack, the end of the assembly line will be swung to the rear door and the output of refrigerators or other products will drop out of sight and go directly to their graveyard without first overwhelming the consumer market” Packard 1960: 4.

Even earlier, Susan Strausser recounts riots by soldiers in train stations in the 1917 when the communal tin cup for water was replaced with disposable paper cups Strasser 1999: 177. Such waste was seen as abhorrent.Seven years after Lloyd Stoffer’s controversial statement, he addresses plastics industry representatives at a conference in New York City:  “It is a measure of your progress in packaging in the last seven years that this remark will no longer raise any eye-brows. You are filling the trash cans, the rubbish dumps and the incinerators with literally billions of plastics bottles, plastics jugs, plastics tubes, blisters and skin packs, plastics bags and films and sheet packages–and now, even plastics cans. The happy day has arrived when nobody any longer considers the plastics package too good to throw away.” Wasting has been naturalized. Disposables have been naturalized.

Recycling is complicit in this. It’s not a coincidence that the largest supporter of recycling is industry. The founder of the recycling symbol is the Container Corporation of America. One of the biggest supporters of New York City’s recycling program is the American Chemistry Council, the chemical and plastics lobby. Recycling not only saturates markets in a certain way—it lets industry externalize costs. If a company uses reusable bottles, it has to pay for those bottles to return, but if it uses disposables, they get sent out into the world made with very cheap materials, and municipalities pick up the bill for running them to the landfill, or recycling station, when they are done. The money saved can translate into profit. This is what is meant by “externalization.”

via Waste as Profit & Alternative Economies | Discard Studies.

Diamonds are a girl’s (… or at least a marketers) best friend

The next time you look at a diamond, consider this. Nearly every American marriage begins with a diamond because a bunch of rich white men in the 1940s convinced everyone that its size determines your self worth. They created this convention – that unless a man purchases an intrinsically useless diamond, his life is a failure – while sitting in a room, racking their brains on how to sell diamonds that no one wanted. 

via Diamonds Are Bullshit.