27 Feb 2015, 12:13
Ah, the relentless world of fashion. How can anyone keep up with which shade of grey is the new black and which part of our body we're meant to hate this season?
Frankly, it's exhausting, which coincidentally is also the word that comes to mind with the revelation old Ford car parts are being made in to a 'unique fashion collection'.
When you think about it, the cross-over is obvious. A new range of bonnets, perhaps? Or the ultimate in belts - fan or seat? Maybe it is time for some hub-cap ear-rings?
But just as the Tank was rubbing its hands together in anticipation our hopes were dashed by discovering the story has more to do with car seat covers being turned into dresses, jackets, and skirts than poorly executed puns.
Designers from Denmark, France, Sweden and the UK took part in the Ford design challenge during Hong Kong Fashion week, with Amandah Andersson, from Sweden, using felt and cloth from Mondeo and Kuga seats to help create the winning ensemble in just three hours.
"Sustainability is a key element of Ford design and it is tremendously exciting to see material from our cars given a new lease of life on the catwalk," said Emily Lai, colour and materials design manager at Ford Asia Pacific, possibly brushing aside the hubcap hanging from her ear. "Designers have the power to affect environmental waste through their designs and the design process, and can minimise this total impact through the creative use of materials and other innovations."
Rightly so - and it should be noted that Ford has used recycled plastic bottles, shredded cotton, kenaf, wheat straw, soy beans and castor oil in its designs to help reduce consumer and industrial waste, decrease depletion of natural resources and lowering energy consumption.
The company is even working with sauce luminaries Heinz to see if tomato fibres can be used as sustainable, composite materials in vehicle manufacturing.
And that type of sustainable innovation will never go out of style.
06 Feb 2015, 10:09
Now we all know cars in London are a major hassle. Yes, there may be a handful of people with valid reasons for further polluting the capital's air and driving the rest of us to an early grave, but for the vast majority, London's ample public transport network really should suffice.
Clearly, this simple notion has eluded many denizens of Chelsea, who tool about the King's Road in black Range Rovers as if one of London's most famous shopping streets was actually a long-forgotten back road on the outskirts of Kampala. But the penny has dropped for those slightly more socially-aware creatures - the squirrels of south London.
Last week, Tony Steeles from Croydon reported his new Toyota Aygo has come under attack by the brushy-tailed vandals. He told the Evening Standard he noticed teeth marks on rubber areas of his car and suspected squirrels because only the roof was affected.
Steeles takes up the story: "I'd not had [the car] very long and I noticed that some of the rubber parts of the car, like the aerial, were being damaged. So I had to call out the AA because the car had lights coming on on the dashboard. He looked at it and said it's rodent or squirrel damage."
Apparently, the Aygo came under persistent attack, with the aerial chewed off twice, an oxygen sensor damaged, and various parts of the rubber trim chewed.
The Tank naturally assumed the squirrels were determined to take back the city, perhaps inspired by watching those post-apocalyptic film classics, I Am Legend, The Road, or Babe: Pig in the City.
But as it turns out, only Mr Steeles' car was affected. A personal vendetta? Was he too measly with the nuts or the Carling Black Label?
Well, the man himself has a different theory, positing that the squirrels might be attracted to the plant-based plastics used to boost the car's green credentials.
There's only one word for that: nuts.
09 Jan 2015, 14:03
One of the Tank's New Year's resolutions is to stop picking up things we find in the street. But then the assortment of newspapers, litter, and gum we've used respectively to fuel, decorate, and repair the flat we call home have never been worth thousands of dollars to anyone.
Unlike US company Petite Mort Fur, which has made an - ahem - 'killing' from the recycled pelts of animals run over on the highway.
In what must be an industry first - or fur-st - former management consultant Pamela Paquin has turned dead raccoons, weasels, and even bears found on Massachusetts roads into muffs, glovers, and wrist cuffs.
Paquin got the idea when noticing how many dead animals were on the roads after she returned to the US after a stint living in Europe. Studies estimate around a million animals are killed on US roads every day - significantly more than the 50 million killed every year for use in fashion and a sizeable under-utilised resource.
After failing with her first carcass, a raccoon, Paquin succeed in creating a neck muff with her next effort. In probably the best quote you'll read today, she told the Times "If you put two raccoons butt to butt, it's just long enough to wrap around your neck. It's so fluffy."
Paquin has a surely unprecedented agreement with her local highways department to notify her of dead animals, which she then skins before placing the bodies in the woods in a foetal position. Petite Mort Furs has enlisted the help of a local taxidermist and seamstress and by all accounts is going hell for leather, with Paquin fielding investment offers of $300,000 to $500,000. Presumably the company's prospects have also been boosted by translating its English name, orgasm pelt, into the French?
Rumours of a rival UK business, set up by a former environment minister with a hatred for badgers are, as yet, unfounded.
28 Nov 2014, 15:01
The Tank often ponders how best to register our outrage at the world's rainforests being felled. Should we boycott products associated with illegal logging? Protest against companies involved? Or should we do the sensible thing and be eaten by a snake on TV?
If you're nodding along with the third idea, your name is probably Paul Rosolie, who must be the only person - ever - to volunteer for a trip down an anaconda's gullet. Although Nicki Minaj came pretty close.
Footage of Rosolie, an explorer and wildlife expert, being decked out in a custom-made snake-proof suit before being swallowed alive and subsequently regurgitated by a giant anaconda will apparently appear on the Discovery channel next month - unless execs bow to pressure from animal rights groups who have, understandably, come out against the stunt.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the whole affair which, to recap, will see A MAN BEING EATEN BY A SNAKE, is Rosolie's reasons for doing it, outlined in an Entertainment Weekly piece entitled 'A man, an Anaconda, and Their Quest To Save the Earth' that rather unfairly suggests the snake had a choice in the matter.
"I've seen entire 1,000-mile stretches of rainforest burned to the ground where every single plant and animal is destroyed - and no one pays attention to that," Rosolie said. "I've seen scientists spend their entire lives trying to rally public opinion and support, and people just don't care. People care about animals; they don't make the jump to caring about the habitat the animals live in... So I wanted to do something that would force a dialogue about what's going on here - and it's working."
When asked, reasonably, whether there might have been a better way to highlight rainforest destruction than being EATEN BY AN ACTUAL SNAKE, Rosolie replied, "No. There's not." Before adding, "Nothing else that I could have done would have gotten more attention than this". Which is probably true now that the BBC has decided wall-to-wall UKIP coverage is what the news-consuming public really wants.
But look. We are losing an estimated 58,000 square miles of forest every year - that's around 36 football fields every minute, folks. You can even watch the numbers tick up in real time. A well-intentioned chump halfway down a snake's gullet is not going to change this, unless delegates at Lima are sharing it on YouTube.
24 Oct 2014, 06:09
The Sceptic Tank loves to hear about actors, presenters, and other public figures who use their high profiles to push for action on climate change. Take Leonardo DiCaprio, who, as the latest box fresh United Nations Peace Envoy stood up in front of world leaders to demand action on climate change, or Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, who successfully took up the fight against overfishing.
Then there is Dame Vivienne Westwood battling for a climate revolution or Sir Paul McCartney leading the charge against fracking and joining forces with his daughter Stella to back the Meat Free Monday Campaign. Even former Apprentice contestant Syed Ahmed claims to have developed the most energy efficient handryer on the planet. The list goes on.
So just imagine our delight to learn this week that blond bombshell and Made in Chelsea star Richard Dinan has embarked on one of the most challenging quests facing the scientific world - supplying clean power from nuclear fusion technology.
The lack of a university degree has not stopped Dinan, who has apparently tutored himself in nuclear physics. How he found the time while running his own business and appearing on the E4 reality drama show remains unknown. But any gaps in his knowledge will certainly be filled in by the team of plucky scientists from Applied Fusion Systems that he has reportedly recruited to help deliver on his nuclear vision.
What's more, once Dinan has cracked the small matter of generating nuclear fusion power, he plans to start printing out the necessary components with his 3D printing business - cutting edge or what?
The promise of nuclear fusion often seems too good to be true - a low carbon, safe abundant source of power, but scientists have joked for at least 30 years that the necessary commercial breakthrough is 30 years away and always will be. However, Dinan and his team are more optimistic, pointing to recent breakthroughs from Lockheed Martin, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), and the Joint European Torus (JET) experiment.
Dinan says he can't think of a more "exciting prospect than working in the engine room of a star". Neither can we, Richard. Neither can we.
Next week: Spencer Matthews and the giant geo-engineering space mirrors.
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