Monday, 26 March 2007

This summer sees the launch of a new service that offers Britain's teenagers free calls and texts provided users are willing to receive adverts on their phones.

"In a survey of a thousand users, Orange found that up to 23% had purchased or were more likely to purchase the product advertised and more than half said they would be happy to see more advertising on their mobiles. Less than 6% of those surveyed said they disliked advertising on mobile phones."

Teens to get free mobile calls - with adverts

Christopher Hampton, "Free Radical"

"I started out on the side of the rebellious, teenage Rimbaud, but gradually came round to Verlaine. Verlaine always knew that Rimbaud's modernity was vastly superior to his own old-fashioned lyrical verse and did everything to protect and preserve his young lover's work. I've invented the final scene in which Rimbaud's sister comes to Verlaine and tries to claw back her brother's poetry. But it's perfectly true that Rimbaud's family wanted to destroy all his manuscripts. If it weren't for Verlaine's generosity, Rimbaud's reputation simply wouldn't exist."

Even if the sympathy shifts, the play is based on a visible contrast between Rimbaud's wild genius and Verlaine's cautious orthodoxy. What is astonishing is that, at the age of 21, Hampton was able to see both sides of the case.

"I've always been fascinated by the opposition between radicals and liberals," he says. "It's a tension that exists in all my plays, but there is never a final decision."
"word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, already established in the US and Canada, is coming to the UK"

"It means the banter we enjoy with our mates down the pub on a Friday night could soon shift into sales patter."

"WOM is when unpaid volunteers are sent new products and, as they go about their everyday lives, are encouraged to tell their family and friends - even strangers - what they think of them. The products can be anything from mobile phones to sausages."

The (sponsored) word on the street

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Blimps that swim through the air like fish

Blimps steered by artificial muscles may one day swim through the air like fish, suggest recent flight tests. Researchers believe artificial muscles – plastics that stretch when a high electrical voltage is applied – could be a way to mimic nature's efficiency at accomplishing tasks. Using the technology, future robots may be able to "run on Mars like a cheetah, climb a mountain or a cliff like a gecko, or fly like a bird", says Yoseph Bar-Cohen, a physicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, US.

Now, a team from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research in Dübendorf have developed a 6-metre-long blimp steered by artificial muscles. Silvain Michel, head of the electroactive polymers department at the laboratory, hopes to fly a blimp that is not only steered but also powered by artificial muscles within two years. The blimp's tail would wriggle like a trout to propel it through the air.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

a wide-ranging two-year study of Britain's drug laws concluded today that "The evidence suggests that a majority of people who use drugs are able to use them without harming themselves or others. They are able, in that sense, to 'manage' their drug use ... The harmless use of illegal drugs is thus possible, indeed common,"

Describing the Misuse of Drugs Act as unwieldy and inflexible, the report says: "It sends people to prison who should not be there. It forces people into treatment who do not need it"

"Drugs policy should, like our policy on alcohol and tobacco, seek to regulate use and prevent harm rather than to prohibit use altogether,"

Illegal drugs can be harmless, report says