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Sunday, February 24, 2008

More of us eating five a day says FSA

Fruit and vegetable consumption is increasing but many people still do not eat the recommended five portions a day, research for an official watchdog has found.

  • Fairtrade fails to tackle poverty, report says
  • Some 58 per cent of people responding to a Food Standards Agency survey had eaten five or more portions of fruit and vegetables the day before, up from 55 per cent in a similar survey a year earlier.

    The proportion claiming to have had their five a day was greater in the higher social groups, reaching 71 per cent in the "AB" social category. It fell to 45 per cent in the "DE" category.

    It was also higher among women (63 per cent) than men (54 per cent).

    In Northern Ireland, the figure fell to 45 per cent, against 59 per cent for England.

    More than three-quarters of those answering (78 per cent) knew that they should be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

    The survey, for the FSA's Consumer Attitudes to Food Standards report, also found a rise in the proportion of people concerned about hygiene in supermarkets, from 11 per cent to 17 per cent.

    Fewer people than in the previous survey were concerned about food safety issues such as additives, food poisoning and about the levels of fat, salt and sugar in foods.

    The FSA's chief scientist, Andrew Wadge, said the findings were encouraging because the majority of people realised the importance of healthy eating.

    He said: "However, what appears to be a drop in concern about how much fat and salt there is in our food shows how critical it is that the agency continues to raise awareness around a healthier diet and provides clear information and advice, backed up by scientific evidence."

    The report was based on a survey of 2,627 people carried out between August and October 2007.

    Original here

    GT-R Waiting Game About to End

    HARDLY a model year goes by without the debut of at least one new car that sets off a frenzied run on dealers’ showrooms. In the last decade, introductions for vehicles as disparate as the Volkswagen New Beetle, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Mini Cooper and Ford GT each resulted in months-long waiting lists, accompanied by gigabytes of Internet speculation.

    Skip to next paragraph

    Nissan plans to import 2,500 GT-Rs this year and about 1,500 annually in the future.

    Yoshikazu Tsuno/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

    So far in 2008 that must-have car seems to be the Nissan GT-R, a 480-horsepower sports coupe with all-wheel drive and a full-time cheering section. It will be available in the United States in June, starting around $70,000. Nissan plans to import 2,500 GT-Rs this year and about 1,500 annually in the future.

    Typically, the cars that set off these stampedes carry names steeped in history or, at the least, a design that gestures to a beloved icon of the past. Why, then, is a car whose predecessors Nissan has never sold in the United States proving such a phenomenon?

    The 2009 GT-R may be the first car whose reputation was forged primarily in the virtual world, at least in the minds of young American enthusiasts. The GT-R is a mainstay of leading video games, notably the Gran Turismo series that Sony PlayStation fans devote hours to, and was a featured star of a promotion that linked the introduction of the actual GT-R at the 2007 Tokyo auto show with the release of a special prologue edition of Gran Turismo 5.

    To a much smaller group of fans in the United States — those who follow international sports car racing series — the GT-R is a high-performance hero of long standing, a car closer to meeting the definition of a supercar than any earlier effort by a Japanese automaker.

    While sports cars like the Toyota 2000GT and Acura NSX were memorable, they did not attain the same level of performance — or incite the same degree of lust — as European exotics. The GT-R could be different.

    The GT-R comes by its reputation honestly, having matured from Skyline models that trace their roots back to the late 1960s. The first GT-R version of the Skyline made its debut in 1969, lasting only a few years before oil shocks put the whole idea on hiatus.

    Though it was nearly two decades before the model name reappeared, the GT-R’s reputation went on to worldwide recognition, mainly on the strength of its racing successes in Japan and Australia. (Until now, the GT-R was sold only with right-hand drive.)

    Driving a GT-R a few years ago (the fourth-generation R34 model produced in 1999-2002 that had a role in “The Fast and The Furious” films) I came to appreciate this special machine as the automotive equivalent of a samurai sword. It seemed to be something created with such intense focus and precision that it generated its own presence.

    Nissan uses the sword metaphor to describe the latest GT-R, too, pointing to the “aero blade canopy” of the passenger cabin’s roofline and describing the curved form of the rear roof pillar as a sword edge.

    William Scott Wilson, a Florida-based writer and teacher who lived in Japan and has translated classics like “The Book of Five Rings” by the 17th-century swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, helped put the Japanese design discipline into perspective for me. Mr. Wilson recalled living in a village of craftsmen in Japan and visiting an 80-year-old sword maker, where he learned the history of the curved samurai sword, or katana, developed in the 10th century by folding and tempering steel many times to create a razor-sharp edge on a flexible blade.

    “When a man makes a sword, there’s kinetic energy in the steel — a spirit of deep respect for what the swordsman is doing that infuses his product,” Mr. Wilson said. “By the time it has been tempered and washed, the sword gets the spirit of the man.”

    Part of what makes the new GT-R so special may be the spirit of the research and development team inside Nissan that developed the car’s technology.

    The designers are a tight-knit group. Peter Bedrosian, Nissan’s North American product manager for the GT-R, said. “They all wear special badges and sign secondary nondisclosure forms.

    “Everything has to be perfect on these cars,” he said. “They took great pains to keep this new car a secret. We’ve had V.P.’s go to Japan, request to see the model and be told they can’t.”

    The association of the GT-R with the video game world turns out to be a two-way relationship.

    Not only did Nissan give GT-R data to the Sony PlayStation designers and the software developers at Xanavi Information to make sure the cars in the Gran Turismo games would be accurate, the game producers returned the favor, helping to create the car’s 11 instrument panel display screens.

    Mr. Bedrosian said this relationship provides a link between generations.

    “If you’re over 30, you have to be a real car nut to know about the GT-R,” he explained. “If you’re under 25, Gran Turismo has exposed you to it already.”

    Original here

    How To Tip Like A Gentleman

    Proper tipping etiquette is still a trait rarely found in modern men yet, when perfected, it can actually become quite enjoyable. It’s a selfless act of giving to others based on the level of service you’ve received. A lot of these people get a pitiful wage and the tips they get go a long way to supplement their income. Make them happy and you’ll be looked after. Annoy them and you’d be best advised to eat your meal with caution!

    Tipping like a Gentleman

    you want to be as discrete and gentlemanly as possible.

    Tipping really is an art form and when you’re giving your tip you want to be as discrete and gentlemanly as possible. Hand over the tip with your palm facing down and shake hands with the person you are tipping, simultaneously placing the money in their hand. What you want to avoid doing is waving the money around and making a big deal of it. You’ll look like an idiot for starts and if that isn’t enough, you’re going to make the person receiving the tip feel uncomfortable because, believe it or not, you’re coming across like a condescending jerk. You’re not throwing a treat for Fido here.

    So how do you figure out how much to tip? Well the truth is there are no tipping rules per se, however there are guidelines which suggest how much is appropriate to give. Let’s investigate.

    The restaurant waiter/waitress

    This is the one that causes most debate because there is no hard and fast rule. It is also made even more difficult by waiting staff who have lost sight of the fact that a tip is a gratuity and is not actually required. As a guideline though, I’d say you can safely use the following without a disgruntled waiter spitting in your salad:

    • Self-serve/Buffet restaurant - 10-12%. If the service was fantastic, you could up this to 15%.
    • Local restaurant - 15%. Again, you could up this by a few percent if the server worked particularly hard or went out of their way to help you.
    • A 4-star restaurant - You’ll want to tip the maitre d’ as you’re being seated, particularly if you’re a regular and he/she goes out of their way to reserve you a table or get a table when the restaurant is busy. The standard tip here is anywhere from $20-100. For the service of the meal itself I’d recommend a tip of around 20-22%. Don’t forget to tip the wine steward (a few dollars per bottle of wine) and/or the coat check attendant ($1 for a couple of coats).

    Taxi driver

    Unless you want to annoy the Travis Bickle-esque taxi driver by stiffing him on a tip you’d better go ahead and give 15% of the fare.

    Hair salon

    You want to make sure your hair looks as good as possible and tipping will ensure that your hair stylist gives a polished cut. They’ll also be more likely to look after you next time you visit too (I’ve been given a free colour before simply for tipping well). An acceptable amount is somewhere in the region of 10-15% of the cost.

    Hotel staff

    There are a number of staff members at the hotel that can make your stay very pleasant or a living nightmare depending on how you tip them. Here’s who you should tip and how much to give them:

    • Chambermaid - $5 per night you stay. That is, if you want clean sheets, towels and plenty of toilet roll.
    • Room service waiter - Again this is the standard 15%.
    • Bellhop - If you let the bellhop carry your bags up to your room and show you around said room without giving them a tip then you’re going to hell. Tip them around $10-15 for their efforts.

    The casino

    If you’re going for a night out at the casino, you better be prepared to tip. Of course if you’re a professional gambler (or just extremely lucky) you’ll be able to tip from your winnings.

    • Blackjack dealer - $5 chip (or more) per session. It’s also common place in casinos for the players to place a small side bet for the dealers. You can agree the amount with other players but a $1 chip is usually sufficient.
    • Craps dealer - Those craps dealers love the action as much as you. It’s common to place up to a 10% side bet for the dealer.
    • Poker dealer - $5 per session. Winners usually tip at least $10 and sometimes as much as 10% on bigger wins.
    • Drink waitresses - $1 chip per drink.

    Parking attendant

    You don’t want some juvenile attendant ruining your prized Bentley Continental because you didn’t tip the lad, do you? On second thoughts, why would you let a juvenile attendant park your prized Bentley Continental unless you’re asking for trouble?

    You should tip, at the very least $1 ($5 if they help with your luggage) but I would tip a little extra to get a better level of service. Perhaps $10-15 to make sure they don’t take it for a joy-ride á la Ferris Bueller. Oh, that reminds me, always check the mileage of the car before handing it over to a parking attendant!

    But what if I don’t want to give a tip?

    There are some occasions where you feel unjustified to give out a tip, but let me tell you why you should.

    • The food was terrible. If the food was terrible, then complain to the manager (you might get a discount on the bill) but don’t take away the tip from the waiting staff because you’re punishing them for someone else’s mistake. Chances are they worked very hard for you and to not reward them would be unfavourable.
    • The service was below par. If the service was below par then you should tip at a lower rate than normal. Usually, I’d speak to the waiter I’m tipping and politely explain the reasons for the lower tip. Just make sure you’ve eaten all your food before you tell them!
    • You are a stingy and grumpy old man. So you don’t want to tip. Why not? You’re rewarding someone for doing good work. How would you feel if your boss decided to not give you the pay raise you’ve been asking for or taking your bonus away from you just because he felt like it? As the old saying goes, “Treat other people the way you expect to be treated yourself.”

    Oh and for those of you wondering how to deal with people who flat out ask you for a tip. I like to go with the following:

    Yeah, I’ve got a tip for you. Never eat yellow snow.

    What’s your etiquette for tipping? Is it more or less than I’ve suggested? Also, if you’ve got a great tipping story from a restaurant for example, let us know in the comments.

    Original here

    Surprise: Denny's declared landmark

    Closed last year, this Denny's in Ballard has been granted landmark status, much to the chagrin of the building's owner

    Call it a Grand Slam of Googie proportions.

    A city board stunned developers, preservationists and Ballard residents Wednesday by voting 6-3 to designate the boarded-up Denny's Restaurant at Northwest Market Street and 15th Avenue Northwest a landmark — based largely on the visual punch the structure's Googie-esque roofline delivers to passing motorists.

    The Landmarks Preservation Board's decision — which rejected its own staff's recommendation against the designation — represents a significant setback for the property owner, the Benaroya Companies, which acquired the site in 2006 for more than $12 million and intended to sell it to a condominium developer.

    The owner's representative, attorney John McCullough, warned the board before the vote that it would lose its credibility if it designated the structure as a city landmark.

    After the vote, McCullough said the matter may be appealed to the city's hearing examiner. Under city rules, the board's staff members will now draw up an agreement that outlines what must be preserved.

    The board reviews and approves that agreement, which is forwarded as an ordinance to the City Council for action.

    The board's vote represents "a victory of sentimentality over the laws under which the board is supposed to operate," McCullough said.

    Most city landmarks are designated based on several criteria, but the divided board took the rare step Wednesday of basing its decision on just one — that the building is "an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood" and contributes to the identity of Ballard.

    More than 600 people, including national experts on Googie architecture and staff members from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, supported the designation.

    Many residents spoke fondly of the razzle-dazzle, space-age charm the building had when it opened as Manning's Cafeteria in 1964. (Denny's Restaurants took it over in 1983 and shut down the restaurant late last year.)

    "Ballardites proudly called it the Taj Mahal of Ballard," said Mildred Andrews, a local historian.

    Back then, diners could look to the rafters and enjoy the vaulted ceiling.

    "It was the greatest vaulted ceiling in the city of Seattle," said Charles Jenner, who led the construction of the structure and spoke to the board.

    Googie or not?

    The building was designed by San Francisco architect Clarence Mayhew for Manning's Cafeteria, a local business that in its heyday had more than 250 stores in 12 Western states, Andrews said.

    Its soaring, parabolic roofline is evocative of the "Googie" architectural style that started in Southern California and dominated in the 1960s, an era of American optimism amid the Cold War race to conquer space, said Alan Michelson, head of the University of Washington's architecture library and a preservation supporter.

    The Googie style got its name from a Sunset Strip coffee shop designed in 1949 that featured upswept roofs, large plate-glass windows and boomerang shapes and starbursts.

    Judith Sobol, a preservation consultant hired by Benaroya's team, and architect Larry Johnson said the Ballard Manning's structure was not a quintessential Googie-style building, citing a smorgasbord of various styles, including Polynesian, Scandinavian and Googie elements.

    Johnson drew chuckles when he referred to the building's style as "Scandigooginesian."

    Preservation-board members were divided over whether the building was truly Googie and decided to avoid basing a landmark designation on its architectural style.

    "I think the building is whimsical, not Googie," said board member Molly Tremaine, who voted against the landmark designation. "It doesn't say 'I'm an architectural wonder.' "

    The city said as much when it gave the Seattle Monorail Project — which had planned to build a Green Line station on that corner — permission to demolish the structure several years ago.

    The Monorail project foundered, and Benaroya bought the property.

    Landmarks Board Chairman Stephen Lee persuaded a few of his peers who were on the fence to support designation. Lee, who lives near the building, said he's always thought of the structure as a visual landmark.

    "The building still has enough integrity to convey its distinct visual presence in that urban fabric," Lee said.

    Ken Alhadeff, whose family restored the Majestic Bay Theatre in Ballard, said the board ignored its role in balancing the rights of property owners with public interest in preservation.

    "OK, so now what?" he asked. The building is in such bad shape, it has no use, he said. "We can take part of the roof and put it on the corner."

    Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or

    Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

    Original here

    Saving lives goes handsfree

    SAVING lives is set to become a hands-free activity due to a new gadget that automatically performs CPR on patients.

    The portable machine, named AutoPulse by manufacturer Zoll, consists of a band that wraps around the chest of a patient and can be programmed to squeeze as frequently as an emergency worker would pump with their hands.

    Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) requires the steady compression of a patient’s chest while mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is performed.

    Those using the machine are able to administer just two breaths for every 30 chest compressions carried out by the device, freeing them up to perform other tasks.

    Australian Advanced Life Support Committee chairmanTony Padley said the hands-free nature of the machine was a huge advantage for health workers.

    “(It is) potentially the greatest advance in resuscitation since the defibrillator,” Dr Padley said.

    “User of the device report an improvement in the blood flow to vital organs.

    “By delivering higher levels of coronary blood flow than manual CPR, (the device) offers the best and possibly only chance of survival for cardiac arrest patients.”

    Original here

    Canceled Cancer Patient Awarded $9 Million

    Hairdresser Patsy Bates owes almost $200,000 in medical bills after her insurance company, Health Net, pulled her policy in the middle of her cancer treatment. (CBS)

    A woman who had her medical coverage canceled as she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer has been awarded more than $9 million in a case against one of California's largest health insurers.

    Patsy Bates, 52, a hairdresser from Gardena, had been left with more than $129,000 in unpaid medical bills when Health Net Inc. canceled her policy in 2004.

    Arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti ordered Health Net to repay that amount while providing $8.4 million in punitive damages and $750,000 for emotional distress.

    "It's hard to imagine a situation more trying than the one Bates has had to endure," Cianchetti wrote in his findings. "The rug was pulled out from underneath, and that occurred at a time when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death for women."

    "I had cancer, my life was on the line, and these guys did not care, did not care at all," Bates told the CBS Evening News last November.

    In fact, she was in the hospital getting prepped for surgery when she first learned Health Net was dropping her.

    Some of the documents Health Net was forced to hand over revealed that senior analyst, Barbara Fowler, single-handedly dropped hundreds of policy holders like Bates from the rolls every year.

    The shocker: the company awarded her bonuses based on how many policy holders she dropped.

    The company called 2003 - the year Fowler dropped Patsy Bates - "a banner year" for her, for saving the company $6 million in what they call "unnecessary health care expenses."

    "It has never affected how I performed my job duties," Fowler told CBS News, but Bates' attorney called that outrageous and illegal.

    Bates, a mother of two, said she screamed when she heard about the damage award.

    "I am elated," she said.

    Bates' attorney William Shernoff said he wanted other insurers to take notice of the award.

    "We are going to stop a put to this practice," he said.

    Health Net said it was implementing a freeze on policy cancellations that would last until the company sets up a third-party review panel to scrutinize cases.

    "Obviously we regret the way that this has turned out, but we are intent on fixing the processes to maintain the public trust," Health Net spokesman David Olson said.

    Bates had previously been insured with another company but was persuaded to switch over to a Health Net policy after an agent suggested she could save money.

    She said she had undergone surgery to remove the tumor and had received her first two chemotherapy treatments when doctors stopped treating her because her bills were going unpaid.

    "I was devastated, I didn't know what was going to happen," Bates said. "It's boggling that someone can do that to you."

    She went on to complete her cancer treatment through a state-funded program.

    Health Net also said it would conduct a review of its practices and the way its brokers and agents are trained.

    The award came a day after the Los Angeles city attorney sued Health Net, claiming it illegally canceled the coverage of about 1,600 patients. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo also said the company illegally ran an incentive program in which it paid bonuses to an administrator for meeting targets of policy cancelations.

    Health Net acknowledged that such a program existed in 2002 and 2003 but was subsequently scrapped.

    In his findings, Cianchetti wrote that "it's hard to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public well and alive."

    Hospital scientist stole bacteria to kill herself, panel told

    A biomedical scientist stole bacteria from the hospital where she worked in order to end her life by giving herself septicaemia, it emerged today.

    Jennifer Bainbridge removed the bacteria - found in MRSA and E coli germs - from North Tyneside general hospital, a health regulator panel heard last week.

    The 28-year-old said she planned to use the germs to kill herself when she "hit rock bottom" after suffering months of depression.

    "I was basically going to give myself septicaemia," she told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

    "I just took what was available in the lab, but I made sure they were organisms which were not going to put anyone else at risk."

    At the last minute, she changed her mind and told her managers what she had done. She was suspended from her job last July and dismissed last month.

    "Even thinking about it all now makes me upset," she said, telling the paper that she now had a new job and did not want to work in the NHS again.

    She was taken off the health professions council register for 18 months after the chairman of the hearing described her actions as "a matter for grave concern".

    Colin Allies said a suspension was "necessary in the public interest and in the interest of the registrant herself".

    A spokeswoman for Bainbridge's former employers, the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation trust, said the trust had been aware of her history of depression.

    The spokesman said the trust had taken the scientist off weekend and on call shifts to help her cope.

    Original here

    Muslims criticise Walkers after it is revealed that some crisp varieties contain alcohol

    Doritos Heat variety are one of those that contain small amounts of trace alcohol

    Furious Muslims have heavily criticised Walkers crisps after it emerged that certain varieties of the manufacturer's products contain trace elements of alcohol.

    Some crisp types use minute amounts of alcohol as a chemical agent to extract certain flavours.

    The report in Asian newspaper Eastern Eye, highlights concerns raised by shopkeeper Besharat Rehman, who owns a halal supermarket in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

    Mr Rehman told the paper: "A customer informed us that Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli and Doritos Chilli Heat Wave are not on Walkers' alcohol-free list. Our suppliers were unaware of this.

    "Even if it is a trace amount of alcohol, Walkers should make it clear on the packaging so that the customer can make an informed choice.

    "I feel frustrated and angry. I have let my customers down simply because such a big company like Walkers is not sensitive to Muslim needs.

    "Many of them were my daughter's favourite crisps. As soon as I found out about the alcohol in them, I called home to ask my wife to throw out all the packets.”

    Shuja Shafi, who chairs the food standards committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that he intended to investigate. "Certainly we would find it very offensive to have eaten food with alcohol."

    Masood Khawaja, of the Halal Food Authority, said that this was not the first time the issue had been raised with Walkers.

    "They should have looked into the matter and solved it instead of hiding behind labelling regulations. It does not matter what percentage of alcohol is involved.

    "Besides Muslims, there are a lot of teetotal people who would not like to consume alcohol in any form. As far as possible we try and lobby for halal symbols on popular products like Kellogg's cereals.

    "But we have always told Muslims to check the contents list even if a product is marked suitable for vegetarians. But to not mention it on the packaging is unfair.”

    However, a spokesperson for Walkers said that trace amounts of alcohol in crisps or bread are believed to be permissible for Muslims.

    "We do not add alcohol to our products. However, ethyl alcohol may be present in trace amounts in a very small number of our flavours.

    "It is used as a carrying agent for flavourings, and is found in many common food and drink products.

    "Foods like bread can also contain the same or higher trace amounts due to fermentation. "We are aware of the concerns from some Muslim consumers about the appropriateness of specific ingredients. We take the concerns of our consumers extremely seriously.

    "In previous assessments by Muslim scholars, foods and drinks that contain trace amounts of ethyl alcohol have been confirmed as permissible for Muslim consumption because of both the fact that the ingredient does not bear its original qualities and does not change the taste, colour or smell of the product, and its very low level."

    Original here

    A Supercar Faster than a Porsche or Lamborghini but Made of Wood

    This car is expected to have 600 HP, weigh just under 1150 kg, come with a Cadillac Northstar sourced V-8 4.6 liter engine, have a top speed of 240 MPH, and oh yeah, be made of wood. This wooden supercar, known as the Splinter, will be able to go from 0-60 is just over 3 seconds and is eco-friendly.

    Th pictures shown are mock-ups. For actual photos of the car being built, check out this Flickr Slideshow.

    UPDATE: Please note that the car is still being built and is expected to have the stats featured above.

    It gets about 20 MPG, and comes fitted with some very unique wooden rims. The car has a roll cage to protect the driver, though it can only seat two people.

    The car is being designed by a team led by 27 year old graduate student Joe Harmon at NC State. The car is just a project, but has been getting a lot of mainstream attention. The team has been blogging about the development of the wooden supercar at Harmon’s Blogspot Blog.

    Looking into the future, Harmon has said that it may not be long before a F1 driver gets behind the wheel of a wooden racecar. Here is a description of the project from the group’s website:

    We are building a high-performance, mid-engined supercar from wood composites as a graduate project at North Carolina State University. Wood will be used whereever possible, including the chassis, body, and large percentages of the suspension components and wheels. The car has a target weight of 2500lbs and a power goal of over 600 horsepower. We aren’t trying to sell anything; we aren’t trying to save the world, and we aren’t advocating that everyone should drive a wooden car. This project is a scholastic endeavour in which are simply trying to explore materials, learn, teach, share ideas, and stimulate creativity. This section details who we are and what we are doing. We hope you enjoy checking out what we are working on.

    Below are a few more pictures of the mock-ups and the process:




    JoeHarmon Design [Flickr Slideshow]

    Original here

    The man behind the mask: Top Gear's Stig stares back

    One of the greatest wonders of the modern world is how Top Gear has managed to keep the identity of its tame racing driver, the Stig, secret all this time. The biggest clue yet to his identity surfaced yesterday when a revealing picture was taken of the always-helmeted Stig. Thanks to flash photography, the helmet's tinted visor was momentarily rendered useless giving us a clear view of the Stig's eyes. Unfortunately, all we get is his steely gaze, not enough to make a definitive ID. Is it Lewis Hamilton? Is it one of but many Stig stand ins? Is it our own Damon Lavrinc Hill? Who knows, but we can now say for certain that the Stig does not wear glasses, which eliminates at least half of the world's population. Click the source below to see the pic in full and let us know in the comments who you think the man behind the mask is.

    Original here

    Spot the 'invisible' men and women in artist's amazing photographs

    In the natural world, the chameleon blends in perfectly with its background.

    In the urban jungle, Desiree Palmen decided to attempt the same visual deception.

    And as these pictures show, the effect is amazing.

    Miss Palmen, a 44-year-old Dutch artist, uses a method that requires a huge amount of effort and attention to detail.

    Scroll down for more...

    Desk deception: What appears to be a pile of papers is in fact a hunched figure

    She makes cotton suits and paints the camouflage on by hand, painstakingly matching it to the chosen background. Either she or a model then poses in the suit in the chosen place.

    The scenes are photographed and filmed and then put on display.

    "People always react strongly when they see my work," she said.

    "They have mixed reactions: confusion, surprise and interest."

    She added: "Mostly people like the idea of wearing garments that make them invisible."

    Scroll down for more...

    Blending library: Is that a pair of legs standing in front of book-laden shelves?

    It takes hours for her to paint the suits. First she takes photographs of the scene then, back in the studio, she meticulously transfers the detail on to the cotton suit with acrylic paints.

    The match of colour, texture, light and hue is extraordinarily accurate but the artist remains modest.

    "It's never perfect," she said. "But when it works that's enough for me. I like the fact people can see it's a real person in a suit and not a fake digital image."

    She regularly displays her works on the streets of Jerusalem, Rotterdam and Berlin.

    She has produced exterior and interior shots - in the latter she blends in with a bookcase, a desk and a flight of stairs.

    Scroll down for more...

    Flight of fancy: Camouflage by the stairs (left), Alley illusion: A human turned to stone

    She got the idea for her unusual art from the increasing use of "Big Brother" surveillance.

    She said: "I'd like people to consider what it means to let the government control our daily lives.

    "When we are controlled we hand over our individual responsibilities to the state. I wanted to make a suit for the non-criminal citizen whose house is being watched 24 hours by street surveillance cameras. I'm also responding to a wish to disappear."

    Miss Palmen, who studied sculpture at The Academy of Art in Maastricht, sells her pictures for around £1,500.

    She has enjoyed success at dozens of exhibitions around Europe but has yet to bring her work to Britain.

    She finds that children are often fascinated by her work.

    "There was one little boy in Jerusalem who kept coming back to the camouflaged figure over and over again," she said.

    Original here