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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Schoolboy in a skirt: Pupil protests at rule forcing boys to wear trousers during hot weather

By Andrew Levy


It's not necessarily a photo Chris Whitehead’s parents will be framing and keeping on the mantelpiece.

But they are certainly proud of him. The 12-year-old wore a skirt to school yesterday to protest against ‘discriminatory’ rules which ban boys from wearing shorts.

He says it is unfair that girls can change into skirts during the hot weather, while boys have to swelter in long trousers.

Skirting the issue: 12-year-old Chris Whitehead wore the skirt to school in protest at not being allowed to wear shorts in the summer months

Taking a stand: Chris Whitehead, 12, who sits on the school's council with supporters at Impington Village College, near Cambridge

This, he says, affects their concentration and ability to learn.

The schoolboy is taking advantage of a ‘silly loophole’ in the uniform policy at Impington Village College, near Cambridge, that means boys can wear skirts as the school would be guilty of discrimination if it tried to stop them.

‘In the summer months, girl students are allowed to wear skirts but boys are not allowed to wear shorts,’ Chris explained yesterday before his protest.

Making a stand: Chris, who is in year 8, has said he is outraged by the shorts ban and hopes to have it overturned Making a stand: Chris, who is in year 8, has said he is outraged by the shorts ban and hopes to have it overturned

Skirting around the issue: Chris, who is in Year 8, said he wearing long trousers in summer affects boys' ability to concentrate

‘It discriminates against boys. I will march in a skirt with other boys waving banners and making a lot of noise.


Students at Impington Village College must obey the 'Look Smart' uniform policy at all times.

The policy states students must wear 'plain black tailored trousers or knee-length skirts without slits' but does not specify a gender.

This means shorts are banned by their omission.

The uniform policy also states skirts should be 'free moving not tight against the legs, and trousers should be neither tight nor baggy'.

Jeans, corduroys, cargos with pockets, drainpipes, leggings or capri pants are all banned.

Pupils can wear one pair of discreet stud earrings, no bangles or rings, necklaces must not visible and no more than one watch should be worn.

Discreet make-up is permitted but teachers have the power to instruct students to remove excessive make-up and nail polish.

Teachers also have the power to make students tie back hair for health and safety reasons.

Coats, scarves, gloves and hats can be worn to and from College but not in lessons or the library. Denim, sweatshirts or "hoodies" are not permitted.

Plain black sensible footwear must be worn with no logos, coloured flares, coloured stitching and no high heels or boots, or sandals.

Tights must be plain, opaque, black or flesh-coloured and socks worn with skirts must be plain in colour and ankle length.
Belts must be plain, narrow, black, and fitted through belt loops of trousers.

Pupils are also ordered to wear sky blue polo shirts or sweatshirts bearing the school's logo.

‘I will be wearing the skirt at school all day in protest at the uniform policy and addressing the assembly with the school council.’

The year 8 pupil, who lives in nearby Histon, added: ‘Wearing a skirt is just like wearing shorts with a gap in the middle. I don’t feel silly at all. I don’t embarrass easily.’

The 1,368-pupil school, which was classed as good in its last Ofsted inspection in 2006, imposed the ban two years ago after a consultation with parents and teachers. Its ‘Look Smart’ dress code states students must wear ‘plain black tailored trousers or knee-length skirts without slits’ – but does not specify gender.

This means that while shorts are prohibited because they are not mentioned, girls – and boys – are free to wear skirts as long as they are ‘free moving, not tight against the legs’.

Chris borrowed a skirt from his sister Joanna, 11, and was accompanied by 30 supporters waving placards saying, ‘Cool shorts, not hot pants’, ‘Shorts for the long-term’ and ‘What’s wrong with my legs?’

And he said he intends to continue wearing the outfit.

His mother, Liz, 50, a maths teacher, said: ‘I’m delighted that Chris is taking action on what he believes in – which the school actually encourages, so he is only doing what he is taught.’

And his father, Brian, 48, who owns a publishing company, added: ‘It’s a creative and imaginative idea. I was worried about him getting picked on but he just shrugged his shoulders.’ Headmaster Robert Campbell said: ‘Our uniform policy does not state girls’ and boys’ uniforms because we can’t be discriminatory, so Chris is perfectly within his rights to wear a skirt.

‘What he has done is raise the issue in an entirely legitimate way. I think it will be right to start thinking about uniform again in September.’

An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokesman said: ‘It’s not possible to say if different uniform policies for boys and girls is or is not lawful, as it’s not been tested in the courts.’ But schools ‘should be flexible when considering students’ needs’, he added.

Why You Don't Ask Your Friends To Help You Move

This is how they move into the new apartment in Russia.

Could crows have caught Osama bin Laden?


Andrew Schenkel

These smart birds may have been used in the hunt for the world's most famous terrorist.

Crows and Bin Laden Photo: LucinaM/Flickr
A full week after Osama bin Laden was killed, it might be time to give some credit to crows and ravens. Yes, you read that right. Crows and ravens.

For a few years, the University of Washington has been training and studying crows and ravens to test their ability to recognize human faces. As it turns out, the birds are really good at it. A few experiments by professor John Marzluff and some folks on campus wearing caveman masks revealed that the birds could not only recognize the individual “cavemen,” but would also swarm them on the University of Washington campus.
This drew the attention of the military, which contacted Marzluff and then gave him some funding to find out if the birds could be used to track down bin Laden. “[Crows and ravens] have a long -term memory, very acute discrimination abilities, and if a group of crows knew bin Laden as an enemy, they would certainly indicate his presence when they next saw him,” said Marzluff in a recent interview.
As it turns out, crows are smart on several levels. Researchers in New Zealand discovered that the birds can use tools to get food, and that the birds can teach their children to use tools through “home schooling.”
We will never know if birds had anything to do with bin Laden’s death. Those details, like the pictures of bin Laden and the identity of the Navy Seals who killed him, are unlikely to become public. So next time you see a black bird, consider that it might be more heroic than you think. And if you have a guilty conscience, you might want to hide your face. After all, you wouldn’t want the bird to tip off the authorities.

Google Music Beta versus the titans of the streaming music space: a chart

By Sean Hollister

It feels like just yesterday we charted the streaming music landscape, but it's already changed in a big way -- Google is muscling in on the likes of Rhapsody, Pandora and particularly Amazon with its Google Music Beta. Being able to take 20,000 of your personal tunes, stream them over the web and cache them locally on your device isn't functionality to sneeze at, so it's time we updated our charts. After the break, see how the big streaming services stack up.

Service: Google Music Beta Amazon Cloud Player

Price: Free... for now, by invitation only, in the US. Stores 20,000 songs. Between $20/year (20 GB) and $1,000/year for 1 TB
Trial None 5 GB free storage
Type of streaming: Cloud Cloud
What you pay for: Nothing, yet Additional storage capacity
Mobile reach: Only Android 2.2+ Android and iOS
Unique Features: Locally cached songs, custom playlists with cloud sync, iTunes import Access to Amazon's MP3 store

Service: Pandora Slacker MOG Rhapsody

Price: $36/year $4.99/month ($3.99 annual pass) $9.99/month $9.99/month (1 device); $14.99 for 3
Trial: 40 free hours/month Freemium model 14 days free 14 days free
Type of Streaming: Radio stations Radio stations On-demand, radio stations On-demand
What you pay for: Ad-free, higher bit rate, desktop app Ad-free, unlimited song skips, lyrics, offline caching Unlimited song streaming, downloads for offline listening Unlimited song streaming, downloads
Mobile reach: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, WP7 iOS, Android iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WP7
Unique features: Thumbs up/down See which artist is up next in the queue Personalized radio based off existing queue Option to stream on 3 mobile devices

Service: Rdio Napster Zune Pass

Price: $4.99/month on desktop web; $9.99 on mobile $5/month web-only; $10 mobile and web $15/month
Trial 7 days 7 days 14 days
Type of streaming: On-demand On-demand On-demand
What you pay for: Unlimited song access, sync mobile to desktop Unlimited song access Unlimited access, 10 free downloads per month
Mobile reach: iOS, Android, BlackBerry iOS, Android, BlackBerry WP7, Zune Marketplace
Unique Features: Can be used on Sonos and Roku Military discount of 30% off subscription services Option to keep 10 downloads per month

Water-propelled jetpack hits the market for $99,500 (w/ video)

By: Lisa Zyga

( -- A water-propelled jetpack called Jetlev R200 is possibly the most fun-looking water activity yet. The Florida-based company Jetlev Technologies, Inc., working with German company MS Watersports GmbH, has recently started limited production in a phased roll-out program. At a cost of $99,500 per jetpack, the target market for the recreational device is holiday resorts.

The Jetlev is lighter (30 pounds [14 kg] when dry) and less bulky than other designs because its four-stroke, 250-hp engine and fuel are located on a small boat that is tethered to the jetpack by a 33-ft (10-m) hose. As the pilot steers the device, the boat follows along in the . The boat delivers water to the jetpack through the hose, and is generated by forcing the water downward through the nozzles located on each side of the jetpack.

Jetlev Technologies says that this design greatly improves the thrust-to-weight ratio compared to other jetpacks, allowing the Jetlev to propel a 150-lb (68-kg) pilot to speeds of up to 22 mph (35 km/h) at heights of up to 28 ft (8.5 m). The Jetlev can accommodate pilots who are 4.9-6.5 ft (1.5-2 m) tall and weigh 88-330 lb (40-150 kg). With a 26-gallon (100-liter) tank, the Jetlev can operate for about one hour at full throttle or up to three hours at cruising speeds.

The company also says that most people can learn how to fly the Jetlev after a few minutes of in-water instruction. Thrust is controlled through grip twist, while lifting the control arms up and down can move the pilot forward or backward by changing the angle of the . Differential nozzle angles allow the jetpack to be turned left and right. The Jetlev also has several , including a 5-point quick-release harness, protective backrest, head support, and inherent flotation.

The ride is not uncomfortable, since the pilot’s weight is supported by the padded unicycle-style saddle and leg trapeze. Although pilots must be at least 18 years old, the company says that “if you are 82, healthy and in good physical condition, there is no reason why you could not fly.”

Designed for both fresh and salt water, the Jetlev’s exposed metal pieces are made of either stainless steel or hard coat anodized aluminum with Teflon coating to protect against corrosion and abrasion.

via: Gizmag

© 2010

'Entourage' wants Charlie Sheen cameo for final season

charlie-sheen-gi-320.jpg"Entourage" has featured dozens of celebrity cameos over the course of its seven seasons, and it hopes to land one more big (and potentially newsworthy) one before it ends later this year.

Creator Doug Ellin is hoping to land Charlie Sheen for a guest spot on the show. "I called his manager and was told maybe I'd get him," Ellin tells TV Guide. "But I'm still waiting for Charlie to call me back. I'd come up with something good."

If a Sheen appearance is to be, it will have to happen in the next month or so: "Entourage" is scheduled to finish shooting its eighth and final season in mid-June. Season 8 will also feature cameos from Christian Slater and "The Big Bang Theory's" Johnny Galecki, who plays a client of Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Scott's (Scott Caan). A quartet of New York sports stars -- Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees and Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks -- will also make appearances.

"Entourage" is scheduled to premiere July 24 on HBO.

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images

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