From the OMG WTF Files – The Ancient Art of EYEBALL SHAVING

eyeball-shavingI still can barely believe this — I researched “eyeball shaving hoax” extensively before posting this.  It is in fact a real thing, practiced in China, and apparently for hundreds of years if not thousands.

Meet Liu Deyuan, a barber (yes, a BARBER does this) who offers the ancient (and albeit abandoned) art of Eyeball Shaving at his little barber shop in Chengdu City, in west Sichuan Province, China:

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Let’s recap really quickly here:

  • There’s a barber in China who shaves people’s eyelids and eyeballs for about 5 yuan, which is $0.81 USD
  • A BARBER IS SHAVING PEOPLE’S EYES AND FACES WITH THE SAME KNIFE
  • A BARBER IS SHAVING PEOPLE’S EYES
  • PEOPLE PAY TO HAVE THIS DONE.

From an article at ChiEnglish.com, bolding is mine:

First, Liu uses some water to rinse off the knife that he had just used to shave a customer’s head and pulled up a stool. Using his fingers to hold open the customer’s eyelids, he scraped the blade back and forth over the eyelid and then the eyeball. Then he took out another tool — a small rod, which he placed in the customer’s eye, sliding it back and forth in the upper eyelid like a windshield wiper. Liu repeated the process on the lower eyelid. When the left eye was done, he did the whole thing again on the right eye. The whole process took about 5 minutes.

Holy mother.  Look at these tools – yeah, they look really sterile, don’t they!

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I’m not sure what else to say but GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  This practice has been abandoned by most, and is shunned by doctors for the risk of cross-contamination.  Yeah, like cross-contamination is the only real issue here.  WHat happens when ol’ Liu there sneezes while shaving ze eyeballs?!

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I love the look on that dude’s face on the right in the photo above.  That is the perfect “Caption THIS” image!

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Baotou Halts Making Rare-Earths to Spike Prices. WTF!

To quote the dance performance students in my 8am Stage Lighting class, this is “jank.”  (I’m pretty sure that means that it’s f%$#ed up.)

Well, that it is.  This whole thing is certainly jank.  The “this” that I’m referring to is the fact that a Chinese government-linked company named Baotou Steel has been halting production of its rare earth elements since October 20 in order to “balance the market and stabilize supply and demand.”  I think that’s Mandarin for drive up the prices of rare earth elements, because Baotou supplies more rare earth elements than any other company in the world.  China as a whole produces 95% of the world’s rare earth element supply, so really other than a price driving measure, this is pointless.

From a Reuters article on the shutdown and the China state reaction, which seems to be actually driving this MCF:

China has resolved to streamline the chaotic rare earth sector by encouraging consolidation and cracking down on illegal private production, cited as the key reason for the decline in prices over the past few months.  It has imposed a national output cap of 93,800 tonnes for 2011, and has vowed to crack down on producers that exceed their quotas.

It launched a four-month inspection campaign at the beginning of August to ensure that production quotas, pollution standards and consolidation targets were being met.

The industry ministry said in a statement posted on its website last Friday that it planned to “strengthen monitoring and inspections” in the coming months, saying that it would pay particular attention to punishing traders and processors that receive illegally-mined rare earth products.

The region of Inner Mongolia in China’s northeast, the source of most of the country’s light rare earths, has forced a number of small firms to merge with Baotou Rare-Earth , and has also been cutting off electricity supplies to private producers to force them to shut down, local media reported.

With incentives high for private producers, China has traditionally struggled to impose its will on the sector. Total output exceeded the production quota by around 40,000 tonnes last year, and traders also resorted to smuggling in order to get round a strict export cap.

What does this mean, really, and why am I reporting on this on JimOnLight.com?  Well, have you ever purchased an MSR arc lamp or bought anything lighting that has neodymium in it?  Philips’ Reveal lamps are made with neodymium inside the envelope, for example, to get that great high color temperature and whiter light.  Also to be fair, there are tons of other manufacturers who make neodymium light bulbs, and they’re great for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Yeah.  So the prices for those things and thousands of other things both in our industry and outside of it that use rare earth minerals (oxides, typically) are going to go up.  Great.  Fans of rare-earth magnets as well will be well frustrated by this little market making exercise.

I had to know what kind of rare earths this company produces – I found a JPEG list of their product line on their pretty pitifully designed website (they aren’t web developers, obviously, they’re rare earth miners and steel makers), here’s the Rare Earths section:

Yep, Neodymium Oxide is on there, and it’s a primary ingredient in doping glass for lighting.  It’s technically Neodymium (III) Oxide (for all you Chemical Abstract Society readers out there), and it’s used all over the place.  Get ready for the price to go up.  Neodymium is used to make lasers (it’s a pretty great gain medium around the IR wavelengths (1054-1064)), as well as tons of other stuff that’s now going to get more expensive.

That image shows some of the National Ignition Facility laser filters – all doped with Neodymium.  I’m interested but not excited to see what this does to prices across the lighting and photonics industries.

Neodymium is pretty interesting when in glass doping for lamps – from an article at Wikipedia on Neodymium (a cool read, please do):

A neodymium glass light bulb, with the base and inner coating removed, under two different types of light: incandescent on the right, and fluorescent on the left. This demonstrates the difference in color of neodymium glass under different lighting conditions. These two photos were taken with identical white balance and coloration and no post-processing, except for cropping. (ISO, shutter speed and aperture were changed between the shots, but this changes only exposure and has basically no effect on the color of the pictures.) The only difference is the type of illumination: fluorescent or incandescent.

Ah, capitalism.

Thanks to LightNOW (which is an awesome blog, btw), IndustryWeek, Wikipedia, and the NIF

2010 Asian Games Opening Ceremony – Whoa. No, Seriously.

This post started out as a bump for another great Boston Globe Big Picture Blog post, this time on the 2010 Asian Games opening ceremony in Guangzhou.  The deeper I dug into this opening ceremony, the more my mind was blown.  Imagine a huge performance stage covered with differing depths of water, and thous…

Nah, don’t imagine it.  Just check out these pictures and video.  This thing is amazing.

From the Big Picture Blog post on the games:

Then, check out some videos – there are a ton here.  I found a bunch in Chinese, but you’ll do what you can…  enjoy!  Also, the official website for the 2010 Asian Games, check that out too!

How much does something like this cost?  I asked myself the same question.  From Wikipedia:

Several statements were made prior to the official statement about the cost. On March 11, 2005, Lin Shusen of the Guangzhou Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said the Games “will not cost more than ¥2 billion”, in stark contrast to an earlier report, which had claimed that the cost could exceed ¥200 billion.

In March 2009, the director of the marketing department of the Games, Fang Da’er, claimed that the Games were short of funds, due to lack of sponsorship and the global financial crisis. An informal estimate put the Games’ expenditure at about US$420 million and revenue at US$450 million.

On October 13, 2010, Mayor of Guangzhou Wan Qingliang officially revealed in a press conference that the total cost of staging the Asian Games and Asian Para Games is about ¥122.6 billion ($17 billion), with ¥109 billion spent on infrastructure, ¥6.3 billion on the venues and some ¥7.3 billion spent on Games’ operation.

Holy crap.  Go big or go home, I guess.

Thanks, Wikipedia!

Chinese Lighting Manufacturers at LDI 2010

For the last few years, we’ve seen a rise of the Chinese lighting manufacturers at the lighting conferences in the United States – not just LDI, but LightFair International, the National Association of Broadcasters show, and others.  You can always tell where they are and who they are because of the giant cluster of little mini-booths with a red “CHINA” sign above each one, like in the image above here.

I do not want this post to be misconstrued for what it is not – it’s mostly commentary on the blatant re-engineering of products made in other countries of the world and their display at LDI.  I am seriously trying to understand the way that the Chinese lighting manufacturer booths are interacting with the rest of the LDI lighting community as a whole.  Not all lighting manufacturing that comes out of China is a bad thing – as a matter of fact, there are certain aspects of it that revolutionize manufacturing and engineering on a worldwide level.

It is no secret that the Chinese lighting manufacturers are a large (nay, HUGE) player in the world.  They make products that are cheaper than many, many of their international competitors – and many people purchase these cheaper products because, well, they’re cheaper than any other product in many instances.  Unfortunately as well, the ability of the Chinese lighting manufacturers to undercut the market is severe.  Also, and again, unfortunately, some of the products aren’t as high in quality, either.

What really gets me is the blatant copying and re-engineering of products that the Chinese lighting manufacturers exhibit at LDI and other tradeshows.  Two good examples would be the copies of ETC’s Source Four fixtures and the blatant copies of the Martin Mac 2000 units.  Like these:

Doesn’t that look just like a Martin Mac 2000?

How about this ridiculously blatant product, the “Mario 3000?”  I mean, WTF:

I’m sorry, but that’s just offensive.  There are stories that float around the lighting world about tradeshows where people from the Chinese lighting manufacturer realm will “borrow” a product, take it back to their booths, measure and reverse engineer the product before returning it.  Now how on earth does that happen, and how is this acceptable to the lighting industries?

Another thing on my mind with the presence of the Chinese lighting manufacturers is the blatant lack of care in both their booths and attitudes towards people who want to come and talk to them about their products.  I posted this image a while ago, of LightFair International 2010, and one of the booths with people simply sitting and ignoring all of the passersby:

On one hand, as a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to even get photographs of the products at the tradeshows from the Chinese manufacturers because they generally chase photographers away from their booths – I have had this experience seven times now, the last being at LDI 2010 in Las Vegas.  Nothing persuades these manufacturers to let you photograph their wares, the least of all being showing them your press pass.  Why do you think this takes place?  At LDI 2010, one manufacturer in the row of Chinese manufacturers told me that there “was no reason to take pictures of my product.”

I don’t understand!

I snuck this photo of a 10kW moving yoke fixture, after which I was essentially chased away:

Here’s another I snapped of a green laser, placed on a box in the aisle, shooting right directly into the eyes of passersby walking past that specific Chinese manufacturer’s booth.  How on earth was this an acceptable placement of a laser?!  Notice the junk piled at the back of the booth, not to mention the laser itself.  I would assume that if a company wanted their products to appear to be worthy of purchase that they would at least outwardly portray a level of organization and success, right?

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Please post below in the comments!  I desperately want to get a hold of the industry’s opinion of this very widely discussed topic.