#ButtScan Challenge, Bulletproof Suit | November 25, 2013 Issue - Vol. 91 Issue 47 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 91 Issue 47 | p. 40 | Newscripts
Issue Date: November 25, 2013

#ButtScan Challenge, Bulletproof Suit

Department: Newscripts
Keywords: academia, job application, carbon nanotubes, bulletproof materials, clothing
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Cheeky: One recent academic job seeker submitted a view from the rear in an application.
Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN
Image of a man sitting on a photocopier, scanning his rear.
 
Cheeky: One recent academic job seeker submitted a view from the rear in an application.
Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN

The Newscripts gang always enjoys a good prank. We recently cracked up after reading about a blogger who challenged her readers to include a photograph of their rear end as part of an academic job application.

Rebecca Schuman is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and writes about career issues in academia at her blog Pan Kisses Kafka. She thought up the posterior photo challenge as a way to mock the absurdity of the application process in the humanities.

Schuman often writes about the hoops humanities job seekers must jump through, including writing responses to questions from university search committees that rival a Dickens novel in length. Schuman argues that many of these questions ask candidates to demonstrate vague qualities about themselves, such as scholarly potential. And with hundreds of 80-plus-page applications landing on their desks, she doubts committee members actually wade through the entire torrent of text.

So Schuman issued a challenge earlier this month on her blog and on Twitter, using the #ButtScan hashtag. There were a few rules. The applicant’s bottom had to be clothed, to avoid legal trouble. The butt photo had to be submitted as a response to a vague question or requirement in the application. And the person had to be qualified for the position. The first person to prove submission of an appropriate butt scan received $100.

At first Schuman thought no one would accept the challenge. But in just 48 hours, she found a winner. To prove the photo had been submitted, the applicant sent Schuman an online password to access the submitted digital application. Schuman, obviously, won’t reveal the identity of the person but says “it was somebody that had obviously been spending time doing super squats.”

Not everyone has found humor in the challenge. One critic complained to Schuman that the challenge accomplished little. Schuman says her goal was never to solve a problem, just to highlight one. “It was a call-out to search committees for taking themselves too seriously,” she says. “It was a joke. The fact that someone actually did it shows how ridiculous the job market is right now.”


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Bullet stopper: This disassembled vest contains a secret protective layer—a carbon-nanotube-based material that thwarts bullets, knives, and more.
Credit: Mike Paul
Photo of bulletproof vests that contain a carbon nanotube-based material.
 
Bullet stopper: This disassembled vest contains a secret protective layer—a carbon-nanotube-based material that thwarts bullets, knives, and more.
Credit: Mike Paul

For those who do land academic jobs, their day-to-day work doesn’t typically put them in life-threatening situations. But for people conducting business in dangerous pockets of the world, a Toronto tailor now offers some help: a bulletproof men’s suit.

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Dapper armor: If you have $20,000 to spare, you can own this bulletproof suit.
Credit: Mike Paul
Photo of a bulletproof suit made by Toronto tailors.
 
Dapper armor: If you have $20,000 to spare, you can own this bulletproof suit.
Credit: Mike Paul

The tailors at Garrison Bespoke came up with the idea after talking with several clients who are bankers in the oil and mining sectors. The men admitted to feeling on edge when traveling to dangerous locales for business.

So the tailors found a contractor who supplies U.S. Army Special Forces with a lightweight armor based on carbon nanotube materials. The material is flexible and light enough that the tailors could sew it into the front of a suit vest and the back of a suit jacket without compromising the garments’ fit and shape.

They tested the suit’s protective properties by using prototypes as targets on a gun range and attempting to stab each other while wearing the suit in their shop.

Currently, 16 clients have ordered one of the $20,000 bulletproof suits, and the company says it has received inquiries from other potential customers. Some people seek the suit’s protection, others want to add a conversation starter to their wardrobe, a spokesman says. “They want to have interesting bar talk with their pals about their James Bond, Bruce Wayne, or Tony Stark suit.”

 

Michael Torrice wrote this week’s column. Please send comments and suggestions to newscripts@acs.org.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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