Thought for the day

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...<p>The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance" -- Carl Sagan

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In the 1930s, makeup legend Max Factor invented an ingenious combination of phrenology, cosmetics, and a pseudoscientific approach to analyzing the imperfections of a woman's face. It's the Beauty Micrometer, a clockwork orange-style device that claims to measure facial ugliness. Placed on and around the head and face, the Beauty Micrometer uses flexible metal strips that align with a person's facial features. The screws holding the strips in place allow 325 adjustments, enabling the operator to make fine measurements with an accuracy of one-thousandth of an inch. The inventors said there are two key measurements they looked for: the height of the nose and forehead should be the same, and the eyes should be separated by the width of one eye. When an imperfection is identified, corrective makeup can be applied to enhance or reduce the feature. The company Max Factor claims that the device helped Max Factor, Sr. understand female faces better. The Beauty Micrometer was completed in 1932 and built primarily for use in the film industry. According to the Modern Mechanics article, when an actor's face is shown too large their "flaws" are magnified and "glaring distortions" can be created. The device was intended to solve a perceived problem, and the inventors also envisioned it being used in beauty shops. However, it did not become popular and did not find widespread use. Only one beauty micrometer is believed to exist. It is on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum.