Pluto’s famous heart powers icy winds on the dwarf planet | Live Science

Pluto’s icy heart is beating.

The dwarf planet’s famous heart-shaped feature, which NASA’s discovered during its epic July 2015 flyby, drives atmospheric circulation patterns on Pluto, a new study suggests.

Most of the action comes courtesy of the heart’s left lobe, a 600-mile-wide (1,000 kilometers) nitrogen-ice plain called Sputnik Planitia. This exotic ice vaporizes during the day and condenses into ice again at night, causing nitrogen winds to blow, the researchers determined. ( is dominated by nitrogen, like Earth’s, though the dwarf planet’s air is about 100,000 times thinner than the stuff we breathe.)  

These winds carry heat, particles of haze and grains of ice westward, staining the ices there with dark streaks.

“This highlights the fact that Pluto’s atmosphere and winds — even if the density of the atmosphere is very low — can impact the surface,” study lead author Tanguy Bertrand, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, . 

And that westward direction is interesting in itself, considering that Pluto spins eastward on its axis. The dwarf planet’s atmosphere therefore exhibits an odd “retrorotation,” study team members said.

Bertrand and his colleagues studied data gathered by New Horizons during the probe’s 2015 close encounter. The researchers also performed computer simulations to model Pluto’s nitrogen cycle and weather, especially the dwarf planet’s winds.

This work revealed the likely presence of westerly winds — a high-altitude variety that races along at least 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) above the surface and a fast-moving type closer to the ground that follows Sputnik Planitia’s western edge.

That edge is bounded by high cliffs, which appear to trap the near-surface winds inside the Sputnik Planitia basin for a spell before they can escape to the west, the new study suggested.

“It’s very much the kind of thing that’s due to the topography or specifics of the setting,” planetary scientist Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, said in the same statement. 

“I’m impressed that Pluto’s models have advanced to the point that you can talk about regional weather,” added Hansen-Koharcheck, who was not involved in the new study.

New Horizons’ Pluto flyby revealed that the dwarf planet is far more complex and diverse than anyone had thought, featuring towering water-ice mountains and weird “bladed” terrain in addition to the photogenic heart (whose official name, Tombaugh Regio, honors the discoverer of Pluto, ).

The , which was published online Tuesday (Feb. 4) in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, reinforces and extends that basic message.

“Sputnik Planitia may be as important for Pluto’s climate as the ocean is for Earth’s climate,” Bertrand said. “If you remove Sputnik Planitia — if you remove the heart of Pluto — you won’t have the same circulation.”

Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by), is out now. Follow him on Twitter . Follow us on Twitter or

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Google, Facebook business models threat to human rights: Amnesty | ABS-CBN News

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Abuse
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, US, Oct. 23, 2019. Erin Scott, Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO — The data-collection business model fueling Facebook and Google represents a threat to human rights around the world, Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday.

The organization argued that offering people free online services and then using information about them to target money-making ads imperils a gamut of rights including freedom of opinion and expression.

“Despite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost,” Amnesty said in its report, “Surveillance Giants.”

“The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse.”

With ubiquitous surveillance, the two online giants are able to collect massive amounts of data which may be used against their customers, according to the London-based human rights group.

The business model is “inherently incompatible with the right to privacy,” Amnesty contended.

The report maintained that the two Silicon Valley firms have established “near-total dominance over the primary channels through which people connect and engage with the online world,” giving them unprecedented power over people’s lives.

“Google and Facebook dominate our modern lives — amassing unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s secretary general.

“Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.”

The report called for governments to implement policies that ensure access to online services while protecting user privacy.

“Governments have an obligation to protect people from human rights abuses by corporations,” Amnesty maintained.

“But for the past two decades, technology companies have been largely left to self-regulate.”

DISPUTE ON FINDINGS

Facebook pushed back against what it contended were inaccuracies in the report, saying it strongly disagreed with its business model being characterized as surveillance-based.

“Our business model is what allows us to offer an important service where people can exercise foundational human rights — to have a voice (freedom of expression) and be able to connect (freedom of association and assembly),” said a letter from Facebook privacy and public policy director Steve Satterfield in an annex to the Amnesty report.

“Facebook’s business model is not, as your summary suggests, driven by the collection of data about people.”

Facebook spotlighted its measures implemented which limit data information used for ad targeting; controls provided to users regarding their data; and steps taken to restrict abuses by apps on the social network.

“As you correctly note, we do not sell data; we sell ads,” Facebook said.

Facebook chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has called for governments to implement uniform rules regarding data-handling instead of leaving private companies to make crucial social decisions such as the limits of free speech.

Google did not offer a specific written response.

But the Amnesty report noted that Google announced this month it would limit data that it shares with advertisers through its ad auction platform, following the launch of an inquiry by the Irish data protection authority and had launched a new feature allowing users to delete location data.

© Agence France-Presse

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The Emperor’s new clothes: the politics of birth research — Sheena Byrom

In Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the Emperor’s new clothes no one dares to say they don’t see a suit of clothes on him for fear they will be seen as stupid and incompetent. It takes the cry from a small child, “but he isn’t wearing anything at all”, to identifying the farce being carried out.

Sometimes research papers are put out with misleading media releases and political agendas that go unquestioned by a media hungry for controversy and the next sensational headline. In this blog we will identify the naked Emperor in the form of the recent New Zealand paper (NZ) published by (2016), titled A Comparison of Midwife-Led and Medical-Led Models of Care and Their Relationship to Adverse Fetal and Neonatal Outcomes: A Retrospective Cohort Study in New Zealand.  The Wernham paper caused consternation around the globe with doctors waving it in triumph pretending the Emperor had a magnificent outfit on while midwives scrambled to understand what was happening, crying amidst the crowd, “but he isn’t wearing anything at all.”  

How did something that was fairly low level scientific evidence get more attention, and lead to such public questioning of the safety of midwifery care, than 15 randomised controlled trials and a (CSR) on this issue?

Just a reminder about the Level 1 evidence of continuity of midwifery from over 17,000 women randomised in 15 separate RCTs:

“This review suggests that women who received midwife-led continuity models of care were less likely to experience intervention and more likely to be satisfied with their care with at least comparable adverse outcomes for women or their infants than women who received other models of care. Further research is needed to explore findings of fewer preterm births and fewer fetal deaths less than 24 weeks, and all fetal loss/neonatal death associated with midwife-led continuity models of care.”

 How did we ever think the Emperor had new clothes?

The first alert in this recent saga is the media release that came out from the first author’s university, strictly embargoed beforehand to excite the ‘crowd’ awaiting the emperors arrival. The media release revealed the first bias in the authors’ agenda and was the ultimate hook for the media:

“Mothers using autonomously practising midwives throughout their pregnancy and childbirth are more likely to have adverse outcomes for their newborns than those who use obstetricians, according to a retrospective study of nearly a quarter million babies born in New Zealand published in PLOS Medicine by Ellie Wernham of University of Otago, New Zealand, and colleagues.”

Firstly, this study was never about midwifery care during childbirth, or pregnancy for that matter. Midwives also look after women cared for by private obstetricians so this care is never just about medical care just as it is never just about midwifery care. Secondly, there was no statistical difference in perinatal mortality. You would have hardly known this from the media reports. Thirdly, the authors were clearly data dredging when they combined Intrauterine hypoxia, birth related asphyxia and neonatal encephalopathy in order to get a highly significant outcome. Rare adverse events and small numbers were sensationalised in the media release (“55 percent lower odds of birth related asphyxia, 39 percent lower odds of neonatal encephalopathy, and 48 percent lower odds of a low Apgar score at five minute after delivery”). Neonatal encephalopathy occurs 1-2 in 1000 births and is a rare event. Presented this way makes it sound so dramatic and it takes only one or two cases to change the outcome.

Why the Emperor is actually naked

The authors were unable to look at actual care during childbirth because they don’t appear to have this data, so they took model of care at booking and then misled the media and public that this was an indication of care at birth, when it was not. The problem with this is while all women who book with private obstetricians will remain under the care of private obstetricians from booking to birth, between 30-35% of women under midwifery care will be referred during pregnancy to a doctor. Despite this fact all outcomes (only adverse perinatal ones) in the paper are reported as due to midwifery care, when they are clearly not.

One could argue that the randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of continuity of midwifery care reported in the use a similar method – that is model of care on booking and intention to treat analysis. However, the difference is randomisation reduces selection bias and the study groups should be as similar as possible at the outset so the researchers can isolate and quantify the effect of the intervention they are studying (in this case midwife or medical care). In a RCT you can see what care women got and you would also know the mode of birth and maternal outcomes, which are not reported in this study. RCT’s can be used to change practice but lower level evidence should not; yet that has not stopped groups such as the calling for this in Australia.

The NZ study had several concerning limitations that were not adequately considered in the unfolding debate:

1.     One of the most significant findings of the CSR of continuity of midwifery care was the 24% reduction in preterm birth under midwifery care. There was also a significant reduction in perinatal mortality. Only women over 37 weeks were included in the recent NZ study, so there was no chance to see whether this important effect was seen in this study.

2.     Not only are of long term outcomes but there were a large number of missing Apgar scores and this was greater for women who booked with obstetricians.

3.     The inclusion of women more than 42 weeks, which were seen in larger numbers in the midwife booked group and are more likely to have stillbirths associated with prolonged pregnancies, is concerning. If the authors took 37 weeks gestation as a cut-off to exclude preterm birth (higher risk), why not take 41+6 to exclude the higher risk post-term pregnancies. It would have been very interesting to know how many adverse events were seen in the post-term group. Women choosing midwifery care are more likely to not want to be induced and to go over 42 weeks, as is seen in this study.

4.     The inability to separate antepartum stillbirth from intrapartum stillbirth is critical in trying to assess the impact of birth provider on outcomes and this could not be done, despite the study protocol suggesting it would be.

5.     In the study protocol published with the paper neonatal nursery admissions were examined but not reported. When we look at the author’s Master’s thesis where this information is available, more neonatal admissions are reported for babies born to women who booked with private obstetricians. This was not reported in this paper. One has to ask, why?

6.     In the first author’s Master’s thesis (where this study originally came from), substantially lower rates of caesarean section (22% vs 32.9%) and instrumental birth rates (9% vs 12.3%) are reported for women who booked with midwives, leading to significantly less maternal morbidity. Again this was not reported, giving a very one-sided view considering the authors are virtually questioning the entire NZ maternity system.

7.     There appears to be quite a bit of missing data in this study and it is unclear how this was dealt with in the analysis.

8.     Many socio demographic variables are not accounted for (e.g. alcohol and drug use), and others such as smoking are notoriously underreported. Midwives tend to look after women with greater socio demographic disadvantage and mental health issues. None of this is adjusted for.

9.     Other medical complications that arise following booking, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, etc are not accounted for and may be increased in women who book with midwives due to ethnicity factors, life style etc.

10.  Rurality and birth place were not taken into consideration, limiting the usefulness of this study to help make targeted changes rather than slamming the entire N Z maternity system.

11.  There is no difference in PMR between Australia and NZ despite the fact that 30% of care in Australia is by private obstetricians whilst in NZ around 90% of women have a midwife as a lead care provider.

12.  A previous NZ paper that also hit the media headlines in recent times, purporting to show the risk of perinatal death was higher when midwives were in their first year following graduation, has recently been questioned by the who have been unable to replicate the study. This is worrying.

13.  of low risk women in NSW who had a birth in a private hospital under private obstetric care with low risk women who had a birth in a public hospital with midwife/medical care we found greater morbidity for women giving birth in a private obstetric model of care.

The one highlight in this whole saga has been the united support of the midwives in NZ by the , The , , and bodies around the world.

The political fallout from this paper has been extraordinary, for it actually tells us very little. No practice changes could ever be made based on this study. The Emperor may have no clothes, but the delusion has been maintained by a misleading media release, politically motivated reporting of findings by the authors, a hungry unquestioning media sensing blood in the water and wanting sensational headlines, and obstetricians determined to drag the advances made by the profession of midwifery back to the ‘good old days’ when they were compliant handmaidens. 

#ENOUGH

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People Are Mad at Kendall Jenner for a Video She Posted on Instagram

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Kendall Jenner is no stranger to controversy. In fact, some argue that that’s pretty much what she relies on for her career. From poorly planned Pepsi ads to more than her fair share of cultural appropriation claims, to that infamous video with Bella Hadid, Kendall is basically never out of the headlines.

But her latest controversy may be her worst yet. Kendall shared a video of herself on Snapchat that got everyone talking, for all the wrong reasons. Not only was it kind of silly – but it was actually dangerous, too. Scroll on for the video that’s got the whole internet angry.

Kendall Jenner has one of the most recognizable faces in the modeling industry.

The supermodel has crafted quite an impressive modeling resume – it feels as though there isn’t a major cover that she hasn’t featured on or a high fashion show that she hasn’t walked in.

But she’s also part of one of the most famous families in the world.

via: Getty

You know who we’re talking about… the Kardashians.

Kendall has had an early introduction to fame and fortune, featuring on their reality show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, since she was barely even a teen.

But, now, the star mainly focuses on her booming modeling ventures.

From Vogue’s September issue to high fashion runways, there isn’t much that she hasn’t done.

But the star has managed to whip up quite a lot of controversy over the years.

Considering she stays relatively low-key when it comes to Keeping Up With The Kardashians, it looks like her lucrative modeling adventures have been far from plain sailing.

For example, does anyone remember that Pepsi commerical?

In 2017, the world watched, appalled, as Kendall Jenner brought a social justice protest to an end with one simple act – handing the police officer a can of Pepsi.

As problematic goes, this was definitely up there.

The ill-judged ad faced worldwide criticism, and rightly so.

The controversial commercial, which was promptly pulled following the backlash, insinuated that all the problems could be brought to a harmonious end with a can of the sugary soda – or, at least, that’s the logic that we were presented with.

But in a world wherein these are real issues affecting real people, the ad just appeared to distastefully trivialize the demonstrations fighting for good causes such as Black Lives Matter.

Of course, many viewers didn’t take kindly to the commercial.

via: Twitter

The internet was in uproar after viewing the commercial, with many people shocked at the mere suggestion that we can put our differences aside over a can of Pepsi.

And, for her participation, Jenner paid the price.

Both Kendall and Pepsi apologized for the ad, but it looked like, as far as countless people online were concerned, the damage had already been done.

Soon after, Kendall addressed the issue further on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, where viewers watched her get emotional over the backlash, telling older sister Kim: “It feels like my life is over.”

But, sadly, this wasn’t her only brush with controversy.

The supermodel has hit the headlines multiple times because of her hair.

Now, you may be thinking “hair is just hair, how can it possibly be problematic?”

Well, it can be when you consider cultural appropriation – aka the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture, which can often spark controversy when a socially dominant culture takes from a disadvantaged minority culture.

In 2016, the twenty-three-year-old found herself at the center of a cultural appropriation scandal.

via: Getty

She came under fire for being styled in dreadlocks at a Marc Jacobs runway show.

The questionable show saw a whole host of mostly white models, including bestie, Gigi Hadid, and, of course, Kendall Jenner herself, donning pastel-colored, wool dreadlocks.

People accused the show of cultural appropriation for not crediting African American culture for inspiring the look.

via: Getty

People took to Twitter to slam both the designer and the models for the distasteful appropriation of black culture.

The designer did apologize but justified his poorly-judged choice by saying that the look was inspired by Harajuku girls, rave culture, and London style in the 1980s. Though many people don’t buy it.

It’s safe to say Kendall is no stranger to backlash.

But there’s one area in which she’s particularly prone to causing a stir – when she’s behind the wheel of a car.

Kendall has faced trouble for this before.

In 2015, Kylie and Kendall were driving in Los Angeles when they posted a rather raucous Snapchat.

But many thought they were focused too much on their social media, and not enough on the road ahead.

And the same year saw another traffic accident.

Caitlyn Jenner was driving in Malibu when she hit two cars with her SUV, pushing one into oncoming traffic. There was one fatality and four injuries in the tragic accident.

In fact, it seems as though the Kardashian-Jenners and driving aren’t compatible.

And when you put a selfie camera into the mix, things go from bad to worse.

And Kendall’s latest move may be her worst driving mishap yet.

She shared a video of herself testing out the new Snapchat butterfly filter.

So far, so good – except for the fact she was also trying to operate a vehicle at the same time.

via: Instagram

In her eagerness to check herself out with her new (fake) look, Kendall was rather conspicuously looking away from the road.

See what you think – here’s the video.

It seems hard to deny she’s not putting her full attention into her driving, spending a few too many seconds for comfort staring into her own eyes.

And some noticed this.

Not only was Kendall not really paying attention – but she also seemed to be steering in a rather bizarre (and extreme) style.

And although some were joking about it …

It seems others were seriously annoyed. It’s one thing to be a danger to yourself – but putting others at risk through your own vanity? Not cool, Kendall.

Want some more Jenner-based controversy? Read on to see why Caitlyn Jenner’s birthday cake got everybody talking.

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Afrobeat can never die like reggae or makossa – Godfrey Eguakun

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By Ayo Onikoyi

The big boss at Monkey Media House Records, popularly known as MMH Records and TRONIQ Incorporation, Godfrey Eguakun has given an insight on the future of Afrobeat genre of music, stating emphatically that the genre cannot suffer the same fate as reggae or Makossa which had a long spell of reign then died out.All

“Reggae music was from the 60s, got really big in the 70s and 80s, which was before me or when I was a toddler. What I do know about it is the fact that it was a sound widely perceived as the voice of the oppressed, addressing social and economic injustice. At the time, there’s some sort of musicianship needed as a reggae artist/musician.

They can actually hold keys and sing, maybe play instruments… today, all that has been replaced with technology. Makossa on the other hand was a great feel good music but was arguably one dimensional. Afrobeat, Afropop, Afrofusion, Afro-soul or whatever we want to call it is relatively new and we don’t quite know it in its entirety, so I think it is too early to ask if afrobeats will die or not, but one thing we have learnt about afrobeats so far is its ability to adapt to other genres of music and create something novel, create genres that in fact don’t exist as far as our prior knowledge of music goes.

We have seen this play out in several cross continental collaborations of some of the biggest afrobeat artists. So, the question I think should be if afrobeat will evolve into unknown and novel genre, and how soon this transition, or this evolution will take. But in the sense of “dying”, that is not happening anytime soon,” he said when asked about the future of Afrobeat in a chat with Potpourri.

Eguakun who has two notable artistes, Akaycentric and Kreatunez signed to his MMH and Oxlade to the TRONIQ label also took a look at the music industry, identifying the legal framework of the country as the major impediment to its growth.

Geofrey Eduakun is an Edo State indigene, born in Osogbo and currently lives in the United States. He’s a Mechanical Engineer by day working on jet engine designs and manufacturing and a businessman by night, managing and running multiple businesses.

His Monkey Media House Records is an indie Record Label founded in 2017. Outside making and selling records, he does Talent Development, Talent Management, Artiste Promotions/Media Management and digital music distribution. His TRONIQ Inc on the other hand was founded in mid 2019, it’s a digital indie recording company, shaped around traditional models.

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How reality TV is changing the way we consume fashion

BBC Image copyright MissPap
Image caption Queen of the Island Amber Gill

There were two big winners of ITV2’s Love Island this year. Amber Gill, the contestant who won the show, and Boohoo, the online fast fashion retailer who signed her.

In June, while the Islanders were flirting their way to celebrity in the Mediterranean sun, Boohoo overtook its long-term rival Asos to become the most valuable seller of clothing for the UK’s youth. It is now worth £3.1bn to Asos’s £2bn.

And it’s widely thought that brand collaborations with popular ex-Love Island stars are believed to be largely responsible for this success.

The first collection of Love Island winner Amber Gill with Boohoo-owned label MissPap, which dropped today, has reportedly helped drive annual sales to £1bn for the first time.

Boohoo acquired MissPap in March before announcing Amber as the official face of its relaunch, in a deal worth a reported £1m.

Even before the collection was revealed. Amber had been promoting the brand on her social media channels to her 2.8m followers. Since the announcement in September, her posts have generated a buzz around Amber’s “inclusive” collection which has attracted early shoppers to the website.

Boohoo chief executive officer John Lyttle commented in a press release: “Amber is a perfect fit for the MissPap brand and we are delighted to have her on board.”


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Maisie Alice, 20, is a Birmingham university student who cites social media and reality television as two of the main motivators for buying from fast fashion companies.

“A lot of my outfit inspiration has come from social media,” she says. “What motivates me most to shop with particular brands is the price, and TV shows like Love Island which collaborate with them.”

Maisie has already bought clothes from a collection from the Boohoo brand PrettyLittleThing, endorsed by the second-placed Love Island contestant, Molly-Mae Hague. It was “a great use of marketing because I probably wouldn’t have bought a lot of the collection if I’d only seen it [on the website],” she says.

“Knowing her name is attached to it definitely makes me feel more inclined to buy it.”

Celebrity editor of Grazia Magazine, Guy Pewsey argues that the appeal of using ex-Islanders over more notable celebrities, is that they are more relatable to their target demographic.

“I think consumers have woken up to the fact that when they see Gigi Hadid endorse a dress it will not look as good on us as it will on her,” he says. “Amber is a real woman, she feels authentic. Consumers want the girls next door, not a goddess we worship but we know we can never be.”

news Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gigi Hadid models for Lavin at Paris Fashion Week

“Saint Laurent won’t sign Amber, but young consumers want to see someone like Amber Gill endorse affordable clothes,” he says.

“Amber would buy a Boohoo dress and wear it on a Friday night. You can pay Kate Moss £1m but no one is going to believe she is buying those clothes.”

Boohoo is not the only fashion company to try to surf the Love Island wave. This summer Asos launched a collection with Islander Ovie Soko, and Manchester-based retailer Isawitfirst launched an official fashion collaboration with the show, including providing outfits for contestants to wear.

BBC Image copyright ASOS
Image caption Popular Love Island star Ovie Soko also launched a collaboration with Asos this summer

Mr Pewsey believes that fast fashion companies are choosing to sign Love Island stars due to their marketing appeal after they first leave the Island, but believes their marketability has a time limit.

“From a marketing standpoint, it’s smart to launch MissPap with Amber. You don’t have long to sign people like Amber or Molly.”

“Love Island is now coming back in January [for its first ever winter series, filmed in South Africa], which means as a company you do not have long to get someone from the series on board and then make the most of their marketability,” he says.

“In January, Amber will find other endorsements if she’s smart and has a good team behind her, but it’s unlikely she’ll remain the face of MissPap for very long when the new winner comes out of South Africa.”

This is certainly reflected through Boohoo’s sales which were reportedly strongest at Boohoo-owned NastyGal and PrettyLittleThing. Both brands are renowned for their collaborations with popular social media personalities such as Paris Hilton, Jordyn Woods and Kourtney Kardashian.

Stella Claxton, a senior lecturer in fashion and sustainability at Nottingham Trent University, believes there is a psychological reason why influencer-backed marketing strategies have become a success.

“Young people are very social media conscious. Their desire is visually influenced by images shared on social media,” she says.

“Consumers believe if you look like the people from Love Island, you feel cool or influential. There is a tribal nature to it.”

BBC Image copyright PrettyLittleThing
Image caption Items from Molly-Mae Hague’s PrettyLittleThing collaboration sold out instantly prompting a second drop in October

Although fast fashion brands have found financial success through this strategy, Ms Claxton argues it is not an environmentally conscious way of producing clothing.

“Fast fashion brands are able to be successful as they can try a style and mass produce it,” she said. “They focus on trends and are able to meet the customers needs for ‘newness’.

“If Kim Kardashian wears something on Instagram today, they can mass produce it tomorrow.”

“We have a market where these garments are aimed at young women who gain pleasure from buying clothing,” Ms Claxton adds.

The outfits sell for prices which their target customers can afford to buy multiple times a month. They consume significant resources to make and distribute, but are not designed to last.

“The actual value of the item is very low in quality terms and in emotional terms to them. Brands want customers to consume more to keep up with trends – which generates a big waste problem.”

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‘I filled a room with My Little Ponies’

BBC Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption Laura Kate Shippert has paid hundreds of pounds for a single Blythe doll

Ask yourself which toys are most collectible: train sets, die-cast cars, and – it almost goes without saying – Star Wars figures. The most obsessively collected examples tend to have one thing in common – they were originally marketed at boys.

While these toys aren’t collected exclusively by men, women are less likely to have vast collections of them. So which vintage toys are women seeking out?

Blythe

news Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption Blythe pondered on the mysteries of Stonehenge during her visit to the famous stone circle

Thanks to her peculiarly oversized head and bulging eyes that change colour with the pull of a string, not many girls wanted to play with Blythe when she was introduced in 1972.

But Blythe has become strangely popular in recent years and original dolls now sell for between £500 and £2,000, depending on their condition.

“They were only released for a year,” says Laura Kate Shippert, one of the organisers of BlytheCon UK, which was held in Bristol earlier this month. “They failed terribly; people thought they were a bit freaky and scary.”

BBC Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption This Blythe doll was lucky enough to see Notre-Dame before the devastating fire

Their popularity in recent years was sparked by a book called This is Blythe, in which photographer Gina Garan featured the dolls artfully posed like real fashion models. Others then started picking up second-hand Blythe dolls – which were relatively cheap at the time – dressing them in glamorous outfits and photographing them in exotic locations.

The renewed interest has led to new Blythe dolls being produced, known in the community as “Neo Blythes” – and these are pretty valuable too.

“They are anywhere from £100 to £400 new, then after a while some become more popular and harder to find, and the prices will fluctuate,” says Laura Kate.

She has 17 Blythe dolls, but only one is an original from 1972. She paid £400 for it about 10 years ago, which was “a steal” even at the time.

news Image copyright Laura Kate Shippert
Image caption This Blythe opted for a classic tourist pose in front of the Eiffel Tower

Laura Kate considers her own collection to be quite small compared to other people’s.

“I know someone who owns like 40 of them and I think ‘but you could own a house’,” she says. “If that’s what makes her happy and that’s what she wants to spend her money on, she’s an adult, she can make her choices. It’s not cocaine.”

My Little Pony

BBC Image copyright Martina Foster
Image caption Martina Foster (right) is known in the pony community as Sparkler, her favourite My Little Pony

The My Little Pony phenomenon began when the toys were launched in 1982. About 150 million ponies were reportedly sold in the 1980s, with their popularity boosted by an animated TV series. Actor Danny DeVito even lent his voice to the 1986 film My Little Pony: The Movie.

Martina Foster loves My Little Pony so much she has a “pony room” in her house filled with somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 of them, worth between £10,000 and £15,000.

Martina was seven years old when she was given her first one – a pony called Tootsie printed with lollipop “cutie marks”. She rediscovered them while searching eBay as a student, then got her old ones out of the loft.

news Image copyright Martina Foster
Image caption These two ponies enjoyed prancing in the sun on a day out at the river
BBC Image copyright Martina Foster
Image caption Dressing up as a pony is encouraged at UK PonyCon, but attendees are not permitted to wear real metal horseshoes

“I thought, ‘I’ll buy the ones that I always wanted, just for fun’,” she says. “Then you get sucked into it.”

Martina says the market fluctuates but rare ones in good condition can now fetch thousands of pounds. The most she has spent is a £200 for a pony called Rapunzel – “a bargain” because it is now worth about £500.

Martina is vice chairman of this year’s UK PonyCon, which is being held in Nottingham this weekend. As well as attracting collectors of the original toys, the convention attracts fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, which launched in 2010.

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Image caption My Little Pony was originally launched in 1982 by Hasbro and has been revived three times since then

While My Little Pony was marketed towards girls in the 1980s, many fans of the animated series are adult men.

“It is fairly watchable even for grown-ups,” says Martina. “You can watch it as an adult and there are some witty things in it and in the end it’s all about friendship and accepting other people.”

Pippa

BBC Image copyright Heather Swann
Image caption Heather Swann photographs her dolls and posts photos online

Pippa was marketed as “the pocket money fashion doll” when she was sold in the 1970s, but Vectis Auctions has sold Pippa dolls for as much as £1,400 in recent years. She and her friends are much shorter than normal fashion dolls at only 6.5 inches (16.5cm) tall, which meant production costs were low.

Heather Swann started collecting them about 20 years ago after picking one up in a charity shop for 50p. She wanted to collect them as a way of recapturing her childhood.

“Isn’t that why people collect toys?” she says.

news Image copyright Heather Swann
Image caption Heather has about 50 Pippa dolls, made by Leicestershire toymaker Palitoy

After Heather’s charity shop find she started buying more dolls through eBay.

“They were much cheaper then, as ladies of a certain age were just beginning to find them,” she says. “Unfortunately they are now becoming expensive and many collectors are after them.”

BBC Image copyright Heather Swann
Image caption Heather says Pippa dolls are becoming more expensive

Heather describes her collection of about 50 dolls as “medium size”, as many women have hundreds. She has seen individual dolls sell for hundreds of pounds but the most she has ever spent is £40.

“I don’t tend to buy the expensive dolls, I now just look out for the ones which need a transformation,” she says. “I enjoy the process of restoring them.”

Care Bears

news Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Jennifer Hawkins’s 200 Care Bears take up so much space in her house she bought a bunk-bed for them

Care Bears were originally painted in 1981 to appear on greetings cards, before the characters were turned into soft toys in 1983. A television series followed, as did books, a plethora of merchandise, multiple LPs and a film in 1985 for which Carole King was persuaded to write and perform songs for the soundtrack.

Jennifer Hawkins loves Care Bears so much she had her favourite one, Bedtime Bear, tattooed on her arm.

“I was looking around earlier and I think I’ve got something Care Bears-related in every room, except my bathroom,” says Jennifer, who lives in Gloucester with about 200 Care Bears.

“But they make me happy so I’m quite happy to have them everywhere. I like the cuteness, I like having the little faces to talk to, I like the fact that they represent different feelings.”

BBC Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Jennifer spent £140 on this 25th anniversary edition of Bedtime Bear

Jennifer got one of her favourites – called Beanie – “as a comfort” when her grandfather died the day after her 14th birthday.

“He [Beanie] comes pretty much everywhere with me now,” she says.

news Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Jennifer had a tattoo of Bedtime Bear sitting on a cloud

She estimates her collection is worth “a few thousand”. The most she spent on an individual bear was £140, which was a 25th anniversary version of Bedtime Bear, and resisted the temptation to spend £500 on an original 1980s Bedtime Bear that was still in the box.

“Unfortunately I can’t afford to spend a month’s rent on one bear,” she says. “That’s definitely a bit too much.”

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BBC Image copyright Jennifer Hawkins
Image caption Nearly every room of Jennifer’s house has something Care Bears-related in it

Barbie and Sindy

Barbie was launched in 1959 and swiftly became a cultural icon, gathering fans among each new generation of girls.

Linda Richardson was not one of them. When her mother gave her Barbies, she chopped their heads off.

news Image copyright Linda Richardson
Image caption Most of Linda’s dolls are NRFB – “never removed from box”

“My passion was always cowboys and Indians and motorbikes and all that stuff,” says Linda, who lives in Cumbria. But she now has an “obsession” with dolls and has more than 500, worth about £35,000 at a “conservative estimate”.

Her passion was ignited 15 years ago on a trip to buy presents for her son.

“I saw these Native American Indians and they happened to be Barbies and that just set it off, really,” she says.

She did not buy the dolls at the time but started researching Barbie online and “found a whole new world”.

Most of the ones she buys are aimed at collectors, rather than the typical Barbie dolls made for children. She keeps them protected behind glass doors in a room lined with bookcases.

BBC Image copyright Linda Richardson
Image caption Linda photographs some of her dolls and puts them on Instagram
news Image copyright Linda Richardson
Image caption These Native American dolls ignited Linda’s interest in Barbie

She also has some “de-boxed” dolls she puts in dioramas, photographs and posts on Instagram. “It’s just something to do,” she says. “It keeps me out of trouble.”

Others favour Barbie’s rival, which went on to become the best-selling fashion doll in the UK when it launched in 1963.

Melanie Quint only had one Sindy as a child but now has 60 or 70, worth between three and four thousand pounds.

“I decided to sell all of my childhood dolls and when I looked on eBay I realised there was this massive collecting and restoration community,” she says.

Instead of selling her dolls she ended up buying more.

“It’s nostalgia at the end of the day,” says Melanie. “You look at the face and the doll and the fashions and it takes you back to the way you were when you were a child.”

BBC Image copyright Melanie Quint
Image caption Melanie Quint owns dozens of Sindy dolls
news Image copyright Melanie Quint
Image caption Melanie Quint has 60 or 70 Sindy dolls

Melanie now runs Dollycon UK, which is for collectors of all dolls but has a particular focus on Sindy. A particular highlight is the “hilarious” cosplay competition, where people dress up as particular dolls.

“It’s very tongue-in-cheek,” says Melanie. “They pick some of the weird outfits, the 70s stuff. It’s really funny seeing what they do.

“We had one woman last year who dressed as Action Man Frogman, in a full suit with flippers on. I couldn’t speak, it was hilarious.”

BBC Image copyright DollyCon UK
Image caption The DollyCon cosplay competition is “very tongue-in-cheek”

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Trans models: From decades of rejection to centre stage

BBC Image copyright Pantene
Image caption Paris Lees is a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene

Being outed as transgender was once enough to end a career in modelling, but some brands and magazines are now actively seeking to work with people who are openly and proudly trans. How did being transgender become viewed as not only acceptable but aspirational?

“I never actually thought that trans people would be celebrated,” said Paris Lees. “When I was growing up the only time I ever saw trans people in the media or in advertising, we were presented as objects of pity, ridicule or disgust.”

The trans rights campaigner and writer was speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference, where she was announced as a brand ambassador for hair care brand Pantene.

Lees, who grew up in the Nottinghamshire town of Hucknall, is the first transgender woman to be appointed by Pantene. However, she is far from the only transgender person to model for a mainstream brand, with transgender men and women including Valentina Sampaio, Chella Man and Andreja Pejić being hired by the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Gap and Make Up For Ever.

“Increasingly trans has come to signify a certain wokeness or hipness that it has not always had,” says Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution. “To show somebody trans in a positive light as something that is desirable or normal or acceptable, that is like a marketing use of a subcultural chic, to sell shampoo or soap or tequila or what have you.”

How did this happen, and who blazed the trail?

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Image caption April Ashley was one of the earliest people from the UK known to have had gender reassignment surgery
BBC

April Ashley is thought to have been the first successful transgender model. Born George Jamieson in Liverpool in 1935, she had gender reassignment surgery in 1960 at the age of 25, and her striking looks led her to grace the pages of Vogue magazine.

She kept her past a secret, but her modelling career was cut short when she was outed by tabloid newspaper the Sunday People in 1961, under the headline “The extraordinary case of top model April Ashley: ‘Her’ secret is out”.

“My agent called me and she said ‘April your career is finished. You will never get another job in this town’,” she told the BBC in 2013.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tracey Norman, shown here in 2016, was a successful model in the 1970s before being outed

African-American transgender model Tracey Norman, who later changed her last name to Africa, had a similar experience. For about 10 years she enjoyed a successful career, with her work including a high-profile campaign for Clairol cosmetics.

“As far as I know Tracey Norman is the first trans model in the United States who we know about,” says Prof Elspeth Brown, author of Work! A Queer History of Modeling.

But she was outed in 1980 after being recognised during a photo-shoot for Essence, a magazine aimed at African-American women. “All I know is that my work stopped that day,” Norman told The Cut in 2015. “I just felt so upset about it because it was my people and my community that did this to me – the black community and the gay community.”

She later got modelling work in Paris and was then was hired for an Ultra Sheen cosmetics advert back in the US. However, the advert created too much attention, she was recognised from before, and struggled to get work again.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Another 1980s model, Teri Toye, was open from the start about her trans status and was “really welcomed”, Prof Brown says, although she was not working for mainstream consumer clients
BBC
BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Caroline Cossey, also known as Tula, appeared in a Bond film and was the first transgender woman to pose for Playboy

Back in the UK, a closeted transgender women called Caroline Cossey had been climbing the ladder of the fashion industry under the name Tula.

“Cossey worked as a model from 1975 to 1981, appeared in magazines such as Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and did extensive work as a model,” says Prof Stryker.

She even appeared in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and in Playboy alongside the film’s other Bond girls. However, the film led to her being outed by the News of the World in an article with the headline “James Bond’s girl was a boy”.

“I was destroyed overnight,” she said in 2016. “There was nothing I could do and my life was in tatters so I ran away. I hid from the limelight because it was the only way to feel safe.”

She was offered work again but it was based around her transgender status, and she felt she was being “portrayed like a freak”. She also wrote a book and did countless interviews in an effort to raise awareness of trans issues, but hid from the limelight again after being made to feel like “a circus act”.

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Image caption Caitlyn Jenner, shown here with Andreja Pejić, is sometimes credited for a “trans tipping point”
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So what has changed in recent years?

Prof Brown says people refer to a “trans tipping point” within popular culture, and she dates this to 2015 when former Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlyn Jenner.

“Also other things have happened in the United States, in particular in terms of politics,” Prof Brown says. “The right wing’s targeting of trans people has brought the issue of transness into the public imagination. Also in the United States you have very popular television shows like Orange is the New Black, that has the trans actress Laverne Cox on it, and she’s been incredibly outspoken and an advocate for trans people.”

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Laverne Cox rose to prominence in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black

Prof Stryker says hiring somebody who is out as trans becomes “a political comment of some kind that flags a certain kind of progressive, woke mentality”.

“You’re using disability or fatness or transness or racial diversity as a way of saying ‘our product fits in with your progressive, woke, metropolitan, hip, progressive views’.”

In fact, Victoria’s Secret apologised in 2018 after its chief marketing officer Ed Razek said trans models should not be cast in its shows. The lingerie brand has since hired transgender model Valentina Sampaio, who has more than 377,000 followers on Instagram.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Victoria’s Secret cast Valentina Sampaio after previously saying it would not work with transgender models
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Jay McCauley Bowstead, a lecturer at the London College of Fashion, believes social media has “provided a space through which more diverse representations can emerge”.

Brands and magazines can now look old-fashioned, he argues, if they do not mirror the diversity seen on social media.

“I think that’s part of why maybe brands and fashion weeks and catwalks and magazines are changing the way they represent people,” he says.

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chella Man has documented his transition on YouTube, where he has 235,000 subscribers
BBC

He names Chella Man and Krow Kian as two prominent transgender male models.

“Someone like Chella Man did actually pose for The Gap, the American brand. You can’t get much more mainstream,” he says.

“What’s interesting is he’s reasonably buff and muscular, but he poses with his shirt off so you can see the scars on his chest. He sometimes wears quite androgynous garments, and I think that’s intriguing because it maybe marks a moment in which trans guys are feeling like ‘I don’t have to conform to this very narrow model of masculinity’. It’s not about ‘passing’ in some very narrow way.”

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Andreja Pejić started her career as an androgynous male model

Andreja Pejić is another example of a model not conforming to gender norms. She started her career almost a decade ago as Andrej Pejić, an androgynous male model. Pejic then had gender reassignment surgery in 2013, despite being warned against transitioning as it might jeopardise her career.

“There was definitely a lot of ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting any more’,” she said. One agent apparently told her: “It’s better to be androgynous than a tranny.”

Despite the warnings she continues to be a leading model and has branched out into films, recently appearing as Claire Foy’s love interest in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

news Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption April Ashley was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality in 2012

So what happened to April Ashley, Tracey Norman and Caroline Cossey, models who lost work after being outed as trans?

Norman was hired by Clairol once again at the age of 63 to be the face of a new hair colour campaign. Cossey found the confidence to come back into the limelight, appearing alongside Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox in documentary film The Trans List. And the once ostracised Ashley has featured in a major exhibition in her home city of Liverpool, and in 2012 was appointed MBE for services to transgender equality.

BBC Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paris Lees was chosen as a Pantene ambassador alongside boxer Ramla Ali and model and broadcaster Katie Piper

Prof Stryker believes increasing representation of trans people is positive, but cautions that it is “not enough”.

“I wouldn’t want to say ‘Oh Paris Lees has got a Pantene commercial so now the world is safe for trans people’,” she says.

“Positive representation of trans people can be a good thing, but it’s not like it’s changing laws or keeping people from being killed by transphobes.

“It’s a good thing but it’s a small part of the big picture.”

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Mount Tambora Eruption Confirmed As The Cause Of The Year Without A Summer

In 1815, the volcano Mount Tambora exploded in what was probably the largest eruption of the last 1,500 years. The event has often been suspected of causing Europe’s so-called “year without a summer” as ash and sulfur-dioxide blocked out the sunlight. However, atmospheric scientists have not been certain how much the explosion contributed to the chilly, wet conditions the following year. Now, climate models have been used to show Tambora indeed caused the record-breaking cold and possibly the damp.

For the people of Indonesia, the enormous eruption of April 10 meant a tsunami that killed between 40,000 and 60,000 individuals, depending on your source. However, with the history of the era primarily having been written in Europe and North America, attention has focused on a possible delayed effect in those places.

Average temperatures worldwide in 1816 were 0.4º-0.7ºC (0.7º-1.3ºF) cooler than preceding years. The rainy conditions have been credited for giving Mary Shelley the time to write Frankenstein, thus launching the entire Science Fiction genre.

Dr Andrew Schurer of the University of Edinburgh has modeled what the year 1816 would have been like without the volcano, using what we know of the conditions prior to the eruption and the solar input. He reports in Environmental Research Letters that eruption or no eruption, 1816 Europe might have experienced an unusually wet year, but it was the volcano that made it so cold.

“Including volcanic forcing in climate models can account for the cooling, and we estimate it increases the likelihood of the extremely cold temperatures by up to 100 times,” Schurer said in a statement. “Without volcanic forcing, it is less likely to have been as wet and highly unlikely to have been as cold.”

When the year without a summer was underway, people had no idea of the causes. The possibility a volcano on the other side of the world affecting the climate only first became discussed after the similar cooling caused by Krakatoa’s eruption of 1883. Tambora was first connected to the year without a summer in 1913, and over the century since the link has become widely accepted.

Nevertheless, it has also been noted that 1816 lay at the end of a period of unusually low solar activity, causing debate about whether Tambora represented the whole story. It’s only now, with advanced global climate models and the collection of proxies from around the world, that we can answer this in more detail.

Tambora occurred when food supplies were unusually vulnerable from a combination of the disruption of the Napoleonic wars and several summers cooled by smaller eruptions. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the subsequent famines.

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Climatic change and human impact on climate

Scientists say July at least equalled and may have beaten hottest month on record

climate change

The record-breaking heatwave that roasted Europe last month was a one-in-a-thousand-year event made up to 100 times more likely by human-driven climate change, scientists have calculated.

Around the globe, July at least equalled and may have surpassed the hottest month on record, according to data from the World Meteorological Organization. This followed the warmest June on record.

Temperature records were broken in many countries, wildfires continue to devastate vast areas of Siberia, the Greenland ice sheet is melting at a near record rate, and the risk of drought has grown more acute across wide areas of central and eastern Europe.

The extreme heat is particularly unusual because it is not an El Nio year the phenomenon usually associated with prolonged temperature surges. Instead, scientists say it is driven to a large extent by carbon emissions from car exhausts, power plant chimneys, burning forests and other human sources.

How much these factors loaded the dice in the two- to three-day heatwave during the last week of July was the subject of an attribution study by a consortium of meteorologists and climatologists at the UK Met Office, Oxford University and other prominent European institutions.

It found that the extreme heat in France and the Netherlands, where temperatures peaked above 40C, was made at least 10 times and possibly more than 100 times more likely by climate change. In the UK, which set a record of 38.7C on 25 July, the human impact on the climate made the high temperatures at least two to three times more probable.

There was considerable variation from place to place, but in all the studied locations the scientists said it would have been 1.5C to 3C cooler without climate change.

Satellite
A Nasa satellite image shows winds carrying plumes of smoke over Russia, centre right, as wildfires raged in Siberia. Photograph: Joshua Stevens/Nasa/AP

 

Although the recent heat has been described as historic, it is unlikely to remain that way for long, according to the authors of the study. It will not make history. These records will be broken in few years, said Friederike Otto, of the University of Oxford. What we see with European heatwaves is that all the climate models are underestimating the change that we see. She said further study would investigate how likely it was to have two intense heatwaves in the space of two months.

The paper says the extreme heat will have an impact on human wellbeing, though the data on this often lags, which can mean it fails to draw much public attention.

Heatwaves during the height of summer pose a substantial risk to human health and are potentially lethal, the paper says. The full impact is known only after a few weeks when the mortality figures have been analysed. Effective heat emergency plans, together with accurate weather forecasts such as those issued before this heatwave, reduce impacts and are becoming even more important in light of the rising risks.

The UN secretary general, Antnio Guterres, who has called a special climate summit of world leaders in September, said the seasons were moving alarmingly far from their usual path. We have always lived through hot summers, but this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfathers summer, he said. Preventing irreversible climate disruption is the race of our lives, and for our lives. It is a race that we can and must win.

The World Meteorological Organization expects 2015-19 to be the warmest five-year period ever recorded. July has rewritten climate history, with dozens of new temperature records at local, national and global level, said the organisations secretary general, Petteri Taalas. Unprecedented wildfires raged in the Arctic for the second consecutive month, devastating once pristine forests which used to absorb carbon dioxide and instead turning them into fiery sources of greenhouse gases. This is not science fiction. It is the reality of climate change. It is happening now and it will worsen in the future without urgent climate action.

 

 

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