Saturday, 31 August 2013

Matching Outfits & Living Photographs

Annika's is wearing top from Sportsgirl, bag c/o Jump From Paper, skirt c/o Faith & Lola, belt from Dotti, cardigan is thrifted and shoes from Yeswalker. Ashley is wearing shorts c/o Sheinside, earrings from Dotti, thrifted cardigan, bag from Italy and shoes c/o Sammydress.

One thing that I really loved about Ashley's visit (apart from the fact that she is just a super lovely person) was that we were able to dress up so that our outfits matched! In fact, Ashley's boyfriend even mistook me for her cousin. Our outfits are quite different here, but also very similar in subtle ways - we matched vertical black-and-white stripes, reds and baby-pinks, as well as both including something feline-themed into our outfits (my tiger belt and Ashley's cat shoes!)
I miss Ashley! 。・゚゚・(>д<)・゚゚・。 If you missed our other posts together, you can see them here!

This is super cool. Students from the University of Texas recently made a light-sensitive bacteria that can act as a photographic film! With it, they took the first "living photograph".

Image from University of Texas
The bacteria they used were engineered so that they would turn black if they were exposed to light, but stay clear if they didn't get exposed to light. They did this by adding a special sugar - that turns black when digested - to the petri dish, and modifying the bacteria so that if they saw light they would digest sugar, but if they didn't see light then they would not. Lastly, they grew their bacteria evenly over a dish, and projected light through a filter (with an image in it) onto the growing bacteria.
The process is actually very similar to how film photography is processed - just imagine swapping the silver nitrate on photo paper for some light-sensitive bacteria!

In addition to being a really cool thing, being able to manipulate bacteria in such a way will hopefully lead to building what are essentially "biological computers".
Read more about it here!

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Friday, 30 August 2013

Conscience about Clothes & Hacking Into Consciousness

Dress, bag, cardigan and belt are thrifted, shoes are c/o Yeswalker, socks are from Tutuanna and hat is c/o Wholesaledress (dress styled before here, although I didn't change too much because it goes so well with these shoes and hat).

I want to thank you all SO MUCH for the feedback on my last post. I have been so encouraged by all the thoughtful comments, suggestions of stores to check out, posts to read and emails I've been sent on the topic of ethical fashion. You've entirely convinced me that I've made the right decision. I'll admit that it's been difficult to eschew the desire to accept offers of sponsorship from cute clothing stores (who doesn't love free clothes?), especially as I would never have had the money to buy so many clothes for myself this past year. However, I am now really glad that I've come to the decision to cease sponsorship on my blog when I don't know where the clothes actually come from. The feedback from my last post that most got me over that line was actually from my mum (who is probably my biggest fan; and I know if I give her this shout out she'll be really excited - hi Mum!), because after reading my post she was inspired to buy fair trade chocolate and an etsy necklace as a gift for her friend.

So, my science news for today is that I was on one of my favourite science podcasts as a guest! I was so excited/nervous to have to speak on something that was being real-life recorded - I have never thought of myself as a good speaker and will always prefer to write my thoughts down where I can reread them a billion times over before making them public. But somehow, I managed to sound alright, especially considering everything was delayed over the Skype connection. If you guys want to listen to it you can find it here. *Note: before you listen, the clip that plays at the beginning is meant to be a joke. Don't worry.

We talk about hacking consciousness with the first human brain-to-brain interface (which is SO exciting, I'll probably do my own separate post on it), I explain a concept from the philosophy of science, and we also talk about an... interesting Australian political candidate who thinks the UN can control the weather.

If you're not up to listening to an hour-long podcast (although I promise that it's very entertaining), then you can find the article I wrote for their website in January here

*Also note: "skeptic" as it's used here means "scientific skeptic", which is what all scientists should be. To be a scientific skeptic means using the scientific method to look at experiments in a rational and (hopefully) unbiased way. It means being open minded to all ideas, but labeling as "unscientific" those ideas that repeatedly fail to demonstrate evidence for their claims (as in astrology and fortune telling). In fact, the Scientific American just wrote up a good definition of the word skeptic, and other misused science terms, here.

I hope you're all having a really lovely day!

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fashion More Slowly

Dress is handmade from Japan, clips are handmade (DIY here), hat is stolen from my boyfriend, shoes are c/o Yeswalker, picnic bag and jacket are thrifted, socks are from Tutuanna.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the choices I make and the influence it has on the world. For a few months now, I have wanted to get hair extensions - however I have been adamant that the hair has to come from an ethical source (as in, not from people living below the poverty line whose last chance to feed their family was to sell all their hair for a couple of dollars; or being conned into donating their hair for religious purposes) and have basically found that "ethical" hair extensions are an impossible thing to come across. Looks like I'll be growing my hair the hard way. But after questioning whether or not hair extensions were ethical, I started questioning whether anything I rely on - particularly my clothes - is indeed ethical. 

When I heard about a clothing factory in Bangladesh collapsing a few months ago, where more than 1000 workers died, I was really upset. That event set into motion (although I'm embarrassed at how long it's taken) a realisation that I really can't justify my need to own the ridiculous amount of clothes that I own. Half of my wardrobe I have only worn once or twice. But what finally forced me to think about this issue was learning about the term "fast fashion" from Ragini's Rookie mag post, and then coming across this article on making ethical fashion choices. And I decided that for now, I'm only shopping at second-hand stores. I've also stopped working with the majority of clothes stores that I've worked with on my blog this past year. I don't know that their clothes come from factories that are as bad as the one that collapsed in Bangladesh, but it's exactly because *I don't know* that I've decided to stop. 

This wasn't the easiest decision to come to, as I kind of rely on being sent clothes by my sponsors to keep the outfit posts on this blog going - I can't afford to buy myself new clothes to blog about all the time because I am a uni student. On the other hand, I also don't want to keep getting new clothes, because I already have more than enough. So what I'll be doing more of is re-wearing everything that I already own, in different ways (for example I've styled this dress before here and here). And if I really *need* that cropped shirt or pinafore dress, I'll make them myself, thrift something, or save up and buy something handmade from etsy or splurge on American Apparel. I feel a little bad about promoting fast fashion for the last couple of years and want to try and remedy some of the damage, so in a similar vein to my "30 days of dressing up" posts, I will try to do more posts on how to create multiple outfits out of a more limited wardrobe, as well as more DIY posts and vintage-shopping guides.

Congratulations if you're still reading this! Let me make clear that I certainly don't judge you if you choose to keep buying new clothes from stores - I admit that I've had a pretty extreme reaction by almost entirely cutting myself off - but if I can convince a couple of people to slightly limit their clothing intake, I hope that it might make a little bit of (positive) difference to the world.

*Note: I will still continue to wear all my old stuff from those companies whose sponsorship I am no longer continuing, because that would be a total waste of clothes if I decided I wasn't going to wear them anymore. So if you see them around here, don't freak out that I've abandoned everything I just said.

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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Red Hair & Two Dimensions

Shirt is from Sportsgirl, jeans are from Dotti, shoes are from Dotti, socks are c/o Romwe, necklace is c/o I Love Crafty, bag is c/o Jump from Paper

This post is an unusual one because a) I am wearing pants and b) I have coloured hair - but it's not a wig! When I was 17, I had very bright red hair for about a whole year. I really liked it, so because I had been feeling quite ambivalent about my hair I decided to dye it today. And I think that it turned out wonderfully. Not much lightener was needed (and a pre-bleach was also definitely not required) because my hair was already a really light brown - I didn't want a repeat of destroying my hair after bleaching it too much last year to go pink and purple.

I just dug up an old photo of how bright-red my hair used to be - not sure if I'll move more in this direction, or to a more "natural" orange now (like this). Or maybe next time I will just dye it black. What do you all think?
Now, I need to talk about this amazing bag. You may have noticed that my bag kind of looks like someone photoshopped it into my photo?
I have been a huge fan of Jump from Paper's tricky three-dimensional-bag-pretending-to-be-two-dimensional-bags for such a long time now, and so I was very very excited when I got an email from them asking if I wanted to try one out! This bag is from their new 50s-inspired collection (I totally want to plan a 1950s shoot around this when I get the time). I have so much nerdy fun with it, pretending that I live in flatland (Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is a satirical book about maths from 1884, and I highly recommend it. It's pure nerd joy. And it also messes with your brain - it gives you a good analogy for humans trying to perceive 4 dimensions, using beings called "flatlanders" who can only perceive 2 dimensions. If you either like classics, or you like science, READ IT).
I hope that you're all super, super well!

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Cat Whisperer / Seeing Is Believing

To anyone who reads this blog (or most fashion blogs, come to think of it) it probably looks like we live in a world of eternal sunshine. And if you've happened to read my blog lately, a world of endless picnics as well. Well there is a good reason for that. Night time shoots are really, really hard. Not only do you have to deal with blurry focus and dark shadows obscuring your face, or super shiny skin and hair if you decide to use the flash, people also seem to get mad if you sit on the road when they're trying to drive on it. Which was just *rude*, really, because car lights made our photos look awesome - my favourite photo is the top one exactly for this reason!

Annika's top - c/o Oasap
Annika's skirt - c/o Sheinside
Annika's bag - c/o Jump from Paper
Annika's tights - Ebay
Annika's shoes - c/o Sammydress
cat mask - Venice
Ashley's shirt - Sportsgirl
Ashley's skirt - c/o Romwe (note: size up. Way up.)*
Ashley's shoes - Chicory (Japanese brand)

*note about Ashley's skirt - it is ludicrously small and we don't recommend buying it unless you don't plan on walking anywhere, moving your legs or breathing.

Oh, and the cat mask we used as a prop in some of the photos also had the effect of attracting this little guy. What a cutie! Here's a photo of me being a mad cat lady.

I don't think I've shared this on my blog before, but it's one of the things that really got me interested in science. The Rubber Hand illusion is an important "proof of concept" of the idea of neuroplasticity - or that the different bits of your brain are not stuck in stone. You've probably come across the term "hardwired" before - that's what this means. In the early 20th Century, neuroscientists were very keen on the idea of Brain Localisation - i.e. you had a section of your brain that controls your hand, a part that "sees", a part that controls your legs, a part that controls your facial muscles - and so on - and that these couldn't ever really change (or, they were "hardwired").

The Rubber Hand illusion shows that the idea of localisation cannot be right. Very, very quickly, the brain is able to adopt the idea that a foreign object, like a fake hand, is actually part of the body.
If you found that interesting, one of my favourite neuroscientists (with one of the coolest-ever accents) Ramachandran has pioneered this field and talks about Phantom Limbs among other things in this TED talk - I highly recommend you watch it.

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