21 May 2008

Corporate Propaganda At Work

BBC 20 May 2008: "Smoothies 'can damage your teeth' "

I am confounded. One of the top five most emailed stories on the BBC's website is a story about fruit smoothies being dangerous because they contain sugar and acid that corrode teeth. Last I checked, people sucking down liquid sugar drinks like Coke or Pepsi that have enough carbon dioxide dissolved in them to be about as acidic as a lemon was a greater problem. Fruits are a healthy part of a diet, and teeth are made to be functional, not ornamental. This article is only discouraging consumption of healthier beverages when average people chug down sodas to no end. The article's sources are scientists making unsubstantiated and subjective assertions. Research or esteemed scientific journals, such as Nature, are not quoted to describe the effects of smoothies upon teeth. This article is propaganda that is discouraging our ailing world from consuming a healthy diet.

04 May 2008

Review of Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen

First Impressions (8)
The Lamy Al-Star is a readily available fountain pen built for the masses. Wow. I have seen this pen in many places, from airports to college book stores, and its pragmatism still amazes me. The pen is a good looking pen, but is obviously no conformist pen when spotted from afar. My one biggest complaint is that the nib, the defining feature of the pen, is a matte black color, as if Lamy were trying to conceal it. It is a pen, and design should pride itself on the writing feature of the pen.

Appearance (7)
My particular Lamy Al-Star has an aluminum body. It looks magnificent when first purchased, but it scratches fairly easily, and the gloss of it makes scratches appear fairly clearly (even small ones!). As mentioned earlier, I hate the color of the nib. It should just be left as good old steel- Iron and Carbon (and maybe a little chromium)- No pigments!

Design/Size/Weight (7)
The pen writes fairly well, and is a good value for the money. Unfortunately, it does not cooperate with all inks. Baystate Blue has been known to kill the nibs on these pens (however, there have been only isolated incidents with only this specific kind of ink). The clip on the pen is functional in design, but bends easily, become loose easily, and, in the case of colored clips, the uncolored/untreated part of the clip eventually becomes visible as the nib loosens, looking unprofessional. The cap is a clip-on type, and I have had the cap come off in my pocket before. If a permanent ink were in the pen, I would have stained many pairs of pants.

Nib (8)
The nib is functional. Unfortunately, it is not secured as well other pens, and, for the third time, its black coloring make it seem like the pen's aesthetic focus is not on the writing experience. It is not hooded, and has a centered breathing whole. Nib creep is significant.

Filling System (7)
Lamy cartridges are as readily available as the pens, and contain mediocre inks in a basic array of colors. A converter is available, but must be purchased separately. Filling requires total submersion of the nib, which can cause staining problems with the plastic-bodied models of this pen. In addition, this submersion while filling is also an inconvenience when attempting to keep the nib clean.

Cost and Value (9)
The Al-Star is a sturdy consumer/student level pen that is flexible in its abilities and uses. It carries a lifetime warranty in the United States, so the pen can be considered somewhat of an investment that will last until death (or loss of the pen).

Conclusion (8)
A widely-available beginners pen that can also function as an expendable workhorse pen for those with more collections. It functions well, but there are still some imperfections.