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Employment Unlocked!

Zero Hours - For a workshop on future London, Arup, Social Life, Re.Work, Commonplace, Tim Maughan and Nesta created 10 Future Londoners for the year 2023. This one describes the working day of 19 year old Nicki, a zero hours retail contractor.
posted by The Whelk on Sep 19, 2013 - 21 comments

Some of them cry a bit. Then they go home.

As the sun sinks slowly into Mayfair and the stars come out over Centre Point, the funster’s thoughts turn inexorably towards the bright lights and rundown neon of that square half-mile known as Soho, sin city nestling like a soiled Kleenex in the bosom of our great metropolis Soho 1983: A Girl's Guide To Peep Shows, Topless Bars & Nude Encounters
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Sep 19, 2013 - 5 comments

Lifting the Veil

A judge in the UK has ruled that a Muslim woman can stand trial wearing the niqab, but must remove it when giving evidence. Following the ruling Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, praised the judge for his "sensitivity and clarity", while Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society condemned the decision, saying "We will be complaining to the Office of Judicial Complaints and...asking senior legal officers to make visibility throughout court hearings mandatory". [more inside]
posted by billiebee on Sep 17, 2013 - 26 comments

Thatcher wouldn't Adam'n'Eve it

After 500 years, the government of David Cameron has announced the unthinkable: from as early as today a majority stake in the Royal Mail of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be put up for sale into private hands. Some are not happy. The sale is expected to fetch between US$3-4.7 billion. But what does it mean? Should you invest? And what does it mean for other postal systems in, say, Australia or the USA? Postal services have been benefiting from the rise in online shopping, even as traditional mail declines.
posted by Mezentian on Sep 12, 2013 - 75 comments

Don't put your phone on the dining table...

The guardian of the nation’s etiquette, Debrett’s, has now issued a handy 10-point guide to mobile (cell) phone etiquette in the digital age
posted by Mister Bijou on Sep 5, 2013 - 122 comments

Fettering discretion

Yesterday the House of Commons and the House of Lords debated a response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. The government lost the debate and the commons rejected military action. David Cameron said "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the Government will act accordingly.." A government MP explains why she voted against and Charles Stross makes a suggestion for what could be done (distributing gas masks, field decontamination showers, NAAK kits, and medical resources to everyone in the conflict zones)
posted by Gilgongo on Aug 30, 2013 - 394 comments

"Your two o'clock appointment is here, and he's black."

Fifty years ago, another bus-centric race dispute took place. Despite "Just 12 miles away in Bath, black crews were working on buses. London Transport recruitment officers had travelled to Barbados specifically to invite workers to come to the capital" ...non-whites found it impossible to obtain employment working on buses in Bristol, England. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Aug 27, 2013 - 11 comments

Sick Costs.

John Green: "Why Are Americans Health Care Costs So High?" A quick, handy little overview of common misconceptions on the US healthcare system. (SLYT)
posted by The Whelk on Aug 22, 2013 - 73 comments

From a distance it looks a bit like...

A history of CLiNT, Mark Millar’s attempt at launching a newsstand anthology comic, which ended this month despite its Lad Mag sensibility, celebrity creators such as Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle, and a recent reboot. The comic magazine joins the likes of Revolver, Deadline, Crisis, Toxic! and Meltdown in the great newsagents in the sky, though like many of those other short lived UK magazines it has spawned many spin off successes, not least the controversial Kick Ass II, which is now a movie minus its rape scene.
posted by Artw on Aug 21, 2013 - 62 comments

Why the UK went to war when France and Germany didn't: satellites

"We’ve suspected for some time that the French and German governments’ refusal to take part in the Iraq war had something to do with their access to independent overhead imagery satellites. Briefly, France and Germany did (with the HELIOS and SAR Lupe programs respectively), and didn’t take part at all. Spain and Italy had some access to French imagery and had advanced plans to get their own. They made a limited commitment. The UK, Australia, Denmark, and the ROK relied on the United States and were, in a phrase that should be better known outside Australia, all the way with LBJ." -- Alex Harrowell explains how the absence of independent satellite intelligence may have helped the UK into the War on Iraq [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 19, 2013 - 13 comments

TP-AJAX

In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times in 2000. Timeline. However, they refused to release them to the public. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 19, 2013 - 33 comments

Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?

Noah Veltman gives us a comparison of Google Search Suggestions By Country for America, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
posted by 23 on Aug 12, 2013 - 56 comments

'Ploughboy's Lunch, Harry, please'

'The ploughman's lunch is a UK pub meal who's core components are cheese, chutney, and bread. It can also include such items as boiled eggs, ham, and pickled onions, and is accompanied with beer.' [more inside]
posted by panaceanot on Aug 12, 2013 - 92 comments

Way out west

Editors - Formaldehyde. First music video by British director Ben Wheatley [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Aug 8, 2013 - 0 comments

2013 Man Booker Prize "long list" announced

Looking for a great read by a UK / Commonwealth writer? A slate of 13 novels were just announced for this year's Man Booker Prize longlist. [more inside]
posted by aught on Aug 1, 2013 - 16 comments

"People treated it with respect, but didn't particularly enjoy it."

In 1973, The Who released their sixth album, Quadrophenia. The epic double album tells the story of a boy named Jimmy Cooper who deals with mental illness on top of the run-of-the-mill stresses of teen life. But Jimmy Cooper isn't just any London teen.  Jimmy Cooper is a Mod. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Jul 29, 2013 - 68 comments

Manchester man arrested after tweeting rape threats

A 21 year old man was arrested for tweeting rape threats. The target of the tweets, Caroline Criado-Perez, had successfully campaigned to have a woman (Jane Austen) shown on the UK's new 10 pound note, and has been subsequently receiving incessant rape and death threats via twitter, a violation of UK law. Twitter's Terms of Service are being repeatedly and flagrantly violated in this episode, and the company appears to be having issues responding to a backlog of reports; it responded to Criado-Perez only that she take the matter to the police. This resulted in shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper asking Twitter to review its policies for handling abuse complaints. [more inside]
posted by vira on Jul 28, 2013 - 128 comments

Knightmare's back!

Fan's of cult 90's UK children Television shows rejoice, Knightmare, the virtual reality kids show is back for a one off episode. [more inside]
posted by Cannon Fodder on Jul 24, 2013 - 8 comments

"superior in their natural gifts on the average to the mass[es]"

"In Victorian England, getting a job was all about who you knew, [but] Charles Trevelyan, the permanent secretary to the Treasury 1840-59, was horrified by the Barnacle types in the civil service, once describing a colleague, as a "gentleman who really could neither read nor write, he was almost an idiot"."
posted by marienbad on Jul 23, 2013 - 20 comments

"I am absolutely clear that the state has a vital role to play."

Online pornography to be blocked by default in the UK, announces Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech today. Internet users will have to contact their ISPs to opt out of the filter. Possession of pornography depicting rape will also be illegal. Here is the full text of the speech. Coverage by The Independent, the Telegraph, and a shortened video of the speech at the Guardian. [more inside]
posted by Drexen on Jul 22, 2013 - 154 comments

In the realm of the Purple Emperor

In The Realm of the Purple Emperor: As I’m sure many of His Majesty’s loyal followers will agree, there’s nothing we love more than to roll around in the mud, dust, dung, poo, shrimp paste, flies, spit and wee to get those highly coveted photographs. [more inside]
posted by Flitcraft on Jul 21, 2013 - 9 comments

Writing On Not Writing

Comedian Stewart Lee gave an hour long talk earlier this year on the place of writing, or not writing, in standup comedy. Last week, the UK comedy website Chortle took some of his comments mentioning comedians who use writers, and stirred up a minor controversy. Lee has since released a statement to clarify the context.
posted by rollick on Jul 20, 2013 - 19 comments

Alas Smith

RIP Mel Smith, British comedian, actor, writer, director and producer. First coming to fame in the ground-breaking Not The Nine O'Clock News he went on to make Alas Smith And Jones with Griff Rhys-Jones. He produced many theatrical productions and directed several films including The Tall Guy and Bean. He also played the albino in The Princess Bride. (Previous) [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jul 20, 2013 - 57 comments

Mad dogs and Englishmen

An unusually sustained heatwave oppresses the UK, as temperatures have climbed above 82 degrees Fahrenheit for 11 days, the longest hot spell since 2006. Roads melt in England and Wales, rail lines buckle in England and Scotland, hospital admissions spike and wildfires burn. Swimming-related, army training and heat-related, deaths have increased. The Met Office currently hold a Level Three Heat Advisory for several regions (Level Four is "National Emergency"), while tabloids indulge in traditional "England is hotter than {exotic place}" headlines. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Jul 19, 2013 - 263 comments

Are you being served?

A survey by a high-end estate agent has revealed that there are more domestic servants in the exclusive London district of Mayfair now than 200 years ago, and indeed, in the élite London neighbourhoods which have been bought up by absentee oligarchs, often only the lights in the servants' quarters are on at night. For those who fancy a life of serving the super-rich, there are courses to prepare them for catering to their masters' exacting whims. But it's not all rosy at the top; the prices of luxury goods (including foie gras, Patek Philippe watches, paintings by artists such as Cézanne and Rothko) in the basket used to calculate the Affluent Luxury Living Index have been rising at a rate exceeding inflation.
posted by acb on Jul 14, 2013 - 53 comments

Goodbye World.

RIP Alan Whicker globe trotting reporter and 'television natural'. In a career that spanned 60 years he presented the BBC/ITV documentary series Whicker's World for nearly 30. He was the inspiration for the Monty Python Whicker Island sketch. (previously) [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jul 12, 2013 - 15 comments

"It's not clear we have that much time."

As Andrew Haldane, director of stability at the Bank of England, put it in a historical overview a few years ago, ‘there is one key difference between the situation today and that in the Middle Ages. Then, the biggest risk to the banks was from the sovereign. Today, perhaps the biggest risk to the sovereign comes from the banks. Causality has reversed.’ Yes, it has: and the sovereign at risk is us. The reason for that is that in the UK bank assets are 492 per cent of GDP. In plain English, our banks are five times bigger than our entire economy. (When the Icelandic and Cypriot banking systems collapsed the respective figures were 880 and 700 per cent.) We know from the events of 2008 and subsequently that the financial sector, indeed the whole world economy, is in an inherently unstable condition. Put the size together with the instability, and we are facing a danger that is no less real for not being on the front page this exact second. This has to be fixed, and it has to be fixed soon, and nothing about fixing it is easy.
- "Let's Consider Kate," John Lanchester, London Review of Books (via)
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Jul 10, 2013 - 29 comments

HandsFree

Recently, at the BBC Proms, the National Youth Orchestra performed a piece by the composer and electronic musician Anna Meredith. The name of the piece is HandsFree. It's not your typical Proms fare. The musicians put down their instruments and commence twelve-odd minutes of clapping, stomping, shuffling, shouts and even singing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
posted by jason's_planet on Jul 6, 2013 - 22 comments

Cor, a slap up feed of comics links!

In the wake of the rumoured demise of The Dandy, artist Jamie Smart writes about the necessity of All-ages comics and how to make them work. Bonus links: The origins of new British weekly kids comic, The Phoenix. Al Ewing on that most British weekly comicsy of institutions: The readers voice. Tips for aspiring comics creators.
posted by Artw on Jul 4, 2013 - 18 comments

Rupert Everett, Really Into Dead Victorian Dreamboats

In 2008 the actor Rupert Everett hosted (seemingly from his apartment) a rather strange documentary: The Victorian Sex Explorer ( 2 3 4 5 ), an attempt to follow in the footsteps of famed Explorer, translator, and author Sir Richard Burton and convince us of Sir Burton's passion for sexual experimentation while laying in lots of bathhouses and visiting brothels. [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Jul 4, 2013 - 52 comments

The Underpants Revolution and other stories from the past...

"Whereas yesterday's Cora Pearl was eccentric, charming and a little cold-hearted, today's Victorian courtesan, La Païva, is straight-up eerie. Like, so eerie that a lot of people thought she was a vampire. My hand to Baby Jesus, people actually believed she was a supernatural being. " Bizarre Victoria shares (what else) bizarre, scandalous, and noteworthy stories form the Victorian era (and more). What do you serve at a country club for fat men? Devil's footprints! Lola Montez: servant whipper, de facto ruler of Bavaria. Empress Sissi and her No Good Very Bad Life. Aristocratic marriage at gunpoint. Public pubic hair trimming. Specialties of the Victorian Brothel. Curing hiccups by setting your shirt on fire. Gilded Age Arranged Marriages.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 3, 2013 - 8 comments

Seeing things without looking, since 2006

Discovering the strange beauty of the utterly everyday, Simon Sharville's Economy Custard is quotidian voyeurism at its gentlest. It certainly "...sits uncomfortably close to the boring", in a wonderful way. [more inside]
posted by hydatius on Jul 3, 2013 - 7 comments

THE END IS EXTREMELY FUCKING NIGH

It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend. From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London (set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings") to the frenzied chaos of its climax, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count). And while sequel 28 Weeks Later with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences in modern horror), and 28 Months looks increasingly unlikely, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jun 28, 2013 - 90 comments

Pop History

The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records is a radio series on BBC written and narrated by Stuart Maconie. Each episode focuses on one particular pop song and tells the story of the song as well as what social trends it mirrored, for instance the episode on Telstar by The Tornadoes focuses on the technological progress, especially in space travel and music, and the story of songwriter and record producer Joe Meek. 25 episodes have been broadcast, including ones on Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and 21st Century Britain, Cornershop's Brimful of Asha and the British-Asian experience , and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'aime and sex. There are 25 more to come. There is also a blog and profiles of the songs already discussed. [Previously on MeFi]
posted by Kattullus on Jun 25, 2013 - 14 comments

Occupy Westminster In Reverse?

Conservative MPs have drawn up an “Alternative Queen’s Speech” with radical policies - "The 42 bills also include legislation to scrap wind farm subsidies, end the ringfence for foreign aid spending and rename the late August Bank Holiday “Margaret Thatcher Day”. Britain’s relationship with Europe features prominently in the action plan, with draft laws setting out how the UK would leave the European Union and a Bill to prevent Bulgarians and Romanians winning new rights to work, live and claim benefits here from next year. All of the proposals were laid before the House of Commons last night after the Tory backbenchers hijacked an obscure Parliamentary procedure by camping out in Westminster for four successive nights." [more inside]
posted by marienbad on Jun 21, 2013 - 63 comments

McProvocateur

In 1985, McDonalds sued left-wing activists in the UK for libel over a pamphlet accusing the multinational food giant of environmental destruction, abuses of workers' rights and selling junk food. The ensuing trial became the longest-running civil trial in English history, ending in 1997 in a Pyrrhic victory for McDonalds, who had lost millions of pounds in pursuing the case, and won £40,000 for their trouble. (The judgment was later overturned in the European Court of Human Rights.) Now, it has been revealed that the leaflet in question had been co-written by an undercover police officer assigned to infiltrate Greenpeace. The officer in question, Bob Lambert, had previously spent years infiltrating environmental groups, even fathering children with activists before disappearing. [more inside]
posted by acb on Jun 21, 2013 - 61 comments

Soundtrack to your Friday

London record label Black Butter have been spearheading a new wave of UK dance music. [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA on Jun 21, 2013 - 37 comments

The fiscal choices at UK Spending Review 2013 and beyond

"The government’s plans for deficit reduction have increasingly stark implications for public spending as their deadline draws nearer, according to new Resolution Foundation analysis. While overall expenditure is set to remain relatively flat in 2015-16 (the period covered by the latest Spending Review) the pace of reduction in total government spending is due to increase significantly in the two subsequent year"
posted by marienbad on Jun 20, 2013 - 3 comments

Hellfire, Damnation and Benjamin Franklin

Dead men tell some tales - a visit to the Hellfire Caves, home of one of the most infamous Hellfire Clubs.
posted by Artw on Jun 17, 2013 - 9 comments

Blood for the Blood God!

Realm of Chaos 80s - an 80s Games Workshop blog.
posted by Artw on Jun 12, 2013 - 29 comments

Did I say "Recession? What Recession?" Oh right, this recession

Recession prompted 'unprecedented' fall in wages - Wages have fallen more in real terms in the current economic downturn than ever before, according to a report. On top of the rising cost of living, a third of workers who stayed in the same job saw a wage cut or freeze between 2010 and 2011, said the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). "The falls in nominal wages... during this recession are unprecedented," said Claire Crawford from the IFS. Labour said the figures showed there was a "living-standards crisis".
posted by marienbad on Jun 12, 2013 - 62 comments

A vision of post-apocalypse Britain?

Eerie computer-generated images reveal how UK landmarks could crumble and decay if humanity was wiped out. Gallery
posted by infini on Jun 12, 2013 - 42 comments

"You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment."

The recent Netflix House of Cards series starring Kevin Spacey was a remake of a very popular British political thriller of the same name that aired during the 90's. The show begins by tracking the dark political machinations and skullduggery of an urbane Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, who is conspiring to become Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher's resignation. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 11, 2013 - 91 comments

180 Years of Saturdays

The Spectator Archive was announced today, with searchable, browsable content of the weekly U.K. (conservative-leaning) magazine, from 1828 through 2008. [more inside]
posted by steef on Jun 10, 2013 - 10 comments

Return to the Consoletation Zone

GamesMaster: The Inside Story
posted by rollick on Jun 9, 2013 - 15 comments

One of the best fifty punk albums of all-time

Johnny Moped was a 1970s English punk rock group from south London that once had Chrissie Hynde, Kirsty McColl and Captain Sensible within its ranks. The band had a mere three singles and one album between 1974 and 1978, but in 2013 one Fred Burns is making a film to restore this punk footnote to prominence. There is also a Myspace
posted by Mezentian on Jun 7, 2013 - 8 comments

There is no "Why?"

Stephen Fry: I tried to kill myself last year
posted by Artw on Jun 5, 2013 - 115 comments

The Lords Hath Spoken

18 arguments made against gay marriage in the House of Lords, England, during debate of the Governments proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
posted by marienbad on Jun 5, 2013 - 105 comments

KIMOTA!

Who owns Marvelman? Part I and part II - the concluding chapters of Padraig O Mealoid's epic 16 part history of one of comic's most disputed characters. meanwhile another hole in comics history is about to be filled in as Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell's Zenith finally gets collected in full.
posted by Artw on Jun 2, 2013 - 15 comments

Britain's poorest city: The struggle to make ends meet

"Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics suggest residents of this city have the lowest household disposable income of anywhere in the UK. The average income per individual householder after tax, but including benefits, is £16,034 a year. In Nottingham it is £10,834. That may be only one measure of poverty, but at a time when there has been a sustained assault on living standards for everyone it is surely a difficult extreme. " [via BBC]
posted by marienbad on May 31, 2013 - 15 comments

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