What do we need to do to get your attention?

WIRED blogs reports a great new advertising campaign by the Red Cross to get the people of the Bay Area to prepare for an earthquake. The best stunt was parking a two-sided advertising trailer in front of the Ferry Building. From one side, it shows the Ferry Building on fire. From the other, Market Street with half its buildings collapsed. Pictures on the blog.

I wish I’d had a camera

I was in a meeting in someone’s office earlier today, and I noticed behind her shoulder a switch marked ‘press’, with a sign fixed to the wall above it reading ‘do not press’.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a moment alone to take a photo.

Early insider trading

From Aristotle’s Athenian Constitution:

As soon as he was at the head of affairs, Solon liberated the people once and for all, by prohibiting all loans on the security of the debtor’s person: and in addition he made laws by which he cancelled all debts, public and private. This measure is commonly called the Seisachtheia [= removal of burdens], since thereby the people had their loads removed from them. … It so happened that, when he was about to enact the Seisachtheia, he communicated his intention to some members of the upper class, whereupon,… these persons borrowed money and bought up a large amount of land, and so when, a short time afterwards, all debts were cancelled, they became wealthy; and this, they say, was the origin of the families which were afterwards looked on as having been wealthy from primeval times.

They’ll always have Paris

Bizarrely fascinating story on the BBC about the Japanese tourists (a dozen or so each year) whose romantic visions of Paris are so crushed by the realities and petty rudenesses of Parisian life that they just flip out, and have to be taken home under psychiatric supervision.

I wonder whether there’s a similar syndrome in reverse for Westerners who arrive in Tokyo.

Your eating is out of control

Fascinating article in Salon (click-through advert or subscription only, sorry) interviewing Brian Wansink, an expert in things like portion sizes and cues. Wansink is plugging his new book, which does look pretty interesting, and talks at length about how the size of serving bowls, the size of plates, and the way tables are laid affects how much we eat. Comes with handy tips about minimising food intake at Christmas parties.