The Bowler Hat as a banking icon

January 23rd, 2015

How has the Bowler Hat featured as part of the iconography of the banking industry? For answers, turn to Jane Davison, BA (Liverpool), MA, PhD (London), FCA, FHEA, who is Professor of Accounting at the Royal Holloway, University of London. The professor’s paper on the subject ‘Icon, iconography, iconology Visual branding, banking and the case of the bowler hat’ was published in the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 22 No. 6, 2009 pp. 883-906, and focuses attention on the use of the bowler icon by (what was) the UK’s Bradford & Bingley financial institution.

Bowler-B_and_BThe financial statements are almost silent regarding brands, in line with regulation. In response to the greater competition that accompanied deregulation and globalisation, the Bank’s lending and funding practices become more innovative. The visual framework reveals a changing iconography and iconology where class, detectives, music hall and the bowler-object may be discerned. An iconology is suggested of dreamlike connotations and magical powers in the collective unconscious. The Bradford & Bingley have actively managed their visual branding to reflect and appeal to a changing society, and a more competitive business environment.”

Notes: Bradford & Bingley was “taken into public ownership” (viz. rescued by the Bank of England) after the company’s share price fell to £0.20 in Sep. 2008.

It had previously registered the UK trademark which depicted four bowler hats blowing away in the wind (UK2168259). B&B also owned what was said to be Stan Laurel’s bowler hat, which it had reportedly purchased for £2,000 in 1995, and which was displayed at their offices.

Improbable has not been able to verify the current location of the hat.

The Self-Acupressure-to-Overcome-Constipation Experiment

January 22nd, 2015

There is (people say) more than one way to skin a cat. So too are there multiple ways to overcome constipation. Here’s a newly documented way:

Effect of Perineal Self-Acupressure on Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Ryan Abbott, Ian Ayres [pictured below], Ed Hui, and Ka-Kit Hui, Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2014, pp. 1-6. (Thanks to investigator Toby Sommer for bringing this to our attention. The authors, at the University of California, Los Angeles and at Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, report :

“We aimed to evaluate whether perineal self-acupressure would improve patient reports of quality of life and bowel function at 4 weeks after training…. Among patients with constipation, perineal self-acupressure improves self-reported assessments of quality of life, bowel function, and health and well-being relative to providing standard constipation treatment options alone.”

Here’s further detail from the study:


Here’s an appreciative writeup in the Yale Alumni Magazine:

A law professor’s theory about relieving constipation is put to the test

Originally considered an insult

January 21st, 2015

“Regularly Ig Nobel awards ceremony for the curious scientific studies were originally considered an insult, today they mostly proudly awards (recently including our domestic scientists). Analysis of mortality individual chess pieces and related research by this award could aspire too.”

—from the article “Kdo přežije?” in the January 12, 2015 issue of Hospodářské Noviny, [machine-translated by Google, from the original Czech]

Smelling bodies at the office (corporeal porosity)

January 21st, 2015

As Dr. David Abram wrote in his 1996 book ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’ :

“[…] the boundaries of a living body are open and indeterminate: more like membranes than barriers … so that it is very difficult to discern, at any moment, precisely where this living body begins and where it ends.”

Prof-RiachProf-WarrenSuch indeterminacies have prompted Professor Kathleen Riach [pictured left] (Monash University, Australia) and Professor Samantha Warren [pictured right] (University of Essex, UK) to investigate what impact such ‘corporeal porosity’ might have in a white-collar office environment. Specifically via ‘corporeal seeping and secretion’ which lead, perhaps inevitably, to smells. Their paper on the subject will appear in a forthcoming print issue of the journal Human Relations. ‘Smell organization: Bodies and corporeal porosity in office work’

“This article contributes to a sensory equilibrium in studies of workplace life through a qualitative study of everyday smells in UK offices. Drawing on Csordas’ (2008) phenomenology of intercorporeality, we develop the concept of corporeal porosity as a way of articulating the negotiation of bodily integrity in organizational experience. We explore the corporeal porosity of workplace life through smell-orientated interview and diary-based methods and our findings highlight the interdependence of shared, personal, local and cultural elementals when experiencing smell in office-based work. Our analysis explores three elements of bodily integrity: ‘cultural permeability’; ‘locating smell in-between’; and ‘sensual signifiers’. This suggests that while the senses are part of the ephemeral, affective ‘glue’ that floats between and around working bodies, they also foreground the constantly active character of relationality in organizational life. Corporeal porosity, therefore, captures the entanglement of embodied traces and fragments – corporeal seeping and secretion that has hitherto taken a backseat in organizational studies of the body at work.”

For their project, the team conducted a series of ‘smell interviews’ with 14 ‘fairly typical’ UK office-workers.

Click to continue reading “Smelling bodies at the office (corporeal porosity)”

The Marshmallow, in herpetology and medicine

January 21st, 2015

marsmallow_lizardThe 390 species of Anolis-lizards are generally considered insectivorous. Some also eat fruit and nectar. Recently, a new source of food for these New World reptiles was discovered: On the Consumption of Marshmallow Residues, an Atypical Food Item, by Anolis cristatellus Duméril and Bibron, 1837 in Puerto Rico [LEB (Life: The Excitement of Biology) 2: 270-271, January 10, 2015]

Norman Greenhawk, of Tropic Ventures Research and Education Foundation, Las Casas de la Selva, Buzón, Puerto Rico, reports:

On March 18th, 2014, at approximately 09:00, I observed an adult male Anolis cristatellus eating the remains of a marshmallow that had been roasted over a campfire the night before. The remains were on the end of stick that had been discarded on an outdoor table at the homestead of Las Casas de la Selva, a sustainable forestry project in the Carite Forest region of Patillas, Puerto Rico. The anole licked the charred marshmallow residue and four times bit the end of the stick. This feeding event took place for eleven minutes, until one of the observers accidentally startled the anole.

The author concludes:

I believe this is the first record of an anole consuming a human-manufactured food item.

Please note that consumption of marshmallows by other – even carnivorous – reptiles is well-known in Florida and Louisiana:

BONUS: “The Marshmallow as an Aid to Radiologic Examination of the Esophagus” by J. Edward Kelly, Jr in New Engl J Med 1961; 265:1306-1307