Friday, 31 July 2009

You are what you eat

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) caused a bit of a furore in the press this week when it published its report on organic food which claimed that there was no nutritional benefit in going for the organic food option. Pro-organic campaigners protested that the report had "missed the point", but the FSA had never intended to look at chemical residues in food, such as pesticides in veg. and anti-biotics and growth hormones in livestock. From a purely nutritional aspect, no difference was found in organic compared to non-organic, though of course many people choose organic to avoid chemicals, and for animal welfare and environmental reasons.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

18 inches or less!

Lucile Ltd London, Paris, New York and Chicago 1890s – 1930s
By Valerie D. Mendes and Amy De La Haye
V&A Publishing

This delightful book is my coffee table book choice of the month.
It centres upon an album of fashion designs by Lucile.
Lucile is Lady Duff Gordon, who was an early divorcee and a Titanic survivor.

The dress and coat designs are beautiful, the range and depth of colours is a visual treat. You want to touch the designs as they are rich and vibrant; the sheen of fabric and the drape of material makes you forget that these are pictures and not the real thing.
One thing that stands out is the very noticeable narrow waists 18 inches or less. Even though the women look stunning, what would it have been like to have been pulled and prodded into a corset to achieve the hourglass figure?
Lucile was probably the first designer to have fashion houses in London, Paris, New York and Chicago. She has been credited with starting the first fashion parade now known as the catwalk show.

Monday, 27 July 2009

The all seeing eye

The telescope: a short history has just been catalogued.

Richard Dunn’s book offers an illustrated overview of the history of the telescope. He writes that the telescope’s true inventor may never be known. Surviving records suggest 1608 when Hans Lipperhey and others applied for a patent. The name ‘telescopium’ was formally announced in 1611, two years after Galileo began making telescopes.
Dunn’s lively narrative chronicles Galileo’s first astronomical observations and Draper’s moon photographs of 1840. He describes the 1957 Jodrell Bank radio telescope dish as Britain’s post-war national pride and tourist attraction. The epilogue looks to the future, building on the legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope and Large Binocular Telescope. The telescope has developed from small instruments to giant radio arrays; beginning as an extension of human sight it allows man to see in previously unimagined ways. From looking out at space to understanding the origin of the universe, this book shows both history and potential of this remarkable instrument.