"Using pejorative terms like "handouts" and "doling out", some parts of the media are mounting a campaign to suggest Britain should be embarrassed by our level of aid giving. But the idea that aid is generous is absurd. Some families, inspired by religious tradition, think it is appropriate to give 10% of what they have to charity, £10 in every £100 of earnings. In 2010, the UK gave not £10, not £1, but 56p ($0.91) in overseas aid for every £100 ($163) we earned as a country. On average, since 1990 we have given even less, 35p ($0.57)." [Giving aid to poor countries is hardly a great act of generosity] [more inside]
Dear Leicester City Council, Can you please let us know what provisions you have in place in the event of a zombie invasion?
Alice Pyne, a UK teenager with cancer, recently started her blog, Alice's Bucket List, with a personal wish-list. Top of the list is 'To make everyone sign up to be a bone marrow donor'. Her request has been brought up in parliament and helped by likes of Charlie Brooker (NSFW) has since become a top trend on twitter.
Philosopher A C Grayling announces the establishment of a new force in Higher Education in England: the New College of the Humanities, with much trumpeting of its all-star line-up, and its promise to "inspire the next generation of lawyers, journalists, financiers, politicians, civil servants, writers and teachers" . [more inside]
A trailer for a British rom-com Love's Kitchen (previously known as No Ordinary Trifle ) recently appeared, notable for a cameo by chef Gordon Ramsay playing himself. The reaction was somewhat negative. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the trailer was taken down and replaced with a slightly improved version but handily the original had been reposted here.
Let Children Be Children British government to recommend new measures aimed at preventing children from over-exposure to sexualised imagery in the media. [more inside]
There have always been regional labels equivalent to chav - skangers, spides, charvers, scallies and neds, respectively in Ireland, Northern Ireland, North East England, North West England and Scotland. But chav has somehow scaled regional barriers to become a national term of abuse. [more inside]
With a coalition government and the recent turmoil over the voting system, sometimes British democracy feels like it's in a bit of a crisis. Thank goodness you can now vote on issues that really matter.
"From Papua New Guinea to Stoke-on-Trent, Prince Philip has left his mark around the world. As his 90th birthday looms, Hannah Ewan recalls the soundbites that could only have come from one man"
The Unexplained (subtitled Mysteries of Mind, Space, & Time) was a popular partwork magazine that came out in the UK in the early 80s. It explored various Fortean phenomenal like UFOs, ghosts and spontaneous human combustion but also scientific 'mysteries' such as black holes. [more inside]
We all know beloved fantasy author Terry Pratchett has a sword, but did you know he has his own Coat of Arms?
The Guardian has a new series of webchats with various people in the publishing industry starting with literary agent Karolina Sutton. Also various writers are asked: Can you teach creative writing?
Dozens of concerned citizens will march on London this weekend to protest high taxation and government debt. Sound familiar? The rally is the first sign of what The Guardian terms "a radical Tea Party-style mass movement" in the UK. Organisers The Taxpayers' Alliance have previously been linked to the US-based Freedom Works.
Osborne to target workers' rights with review of employment law "Workers are set to receive less protection against redundancy, dismissal and workplace discrimination as the Chancellor George Osborne tears up sections of employment law so businesses can dispose of their staff more easily." More Here (Times.co. uk - no sub required (at least, not in the uk), and Here.
In the UK, "super-injunctions" can prohibit the press from reporting a story on privacy grounds and from reporting that any such injunction has been issued. Newspapers are occasionally quite playful in getting around these increasingly unpopular injunctions. The Telegraph famously pointed its readers to the then-trending twitter campaign against Trafgura and, today, the Daily Mail appears to be playing a similar game. More prosaically, The Independent has simply reported a Tory MP's comments in Parliament that a currently sitting MP has taken out a super-injunction. [more inside]
Red kites; slow motion; bacon. What's not to love?
Today, the UK is voting on a series of national and local elections along with a referendum on whether to adopt the Alternative Vote system. The referendum has caused fierce rows within the Coalition, with accusations of lies flying around, including the supposed high cost of an AV system. Most polls indicate that AV will not be adopted, spelling yet another potential disaster for the Liberal Democrats.
It's an odd thing that libraries – by tradition temples to the unfleshly – can sometimes seem such sexy places. The Secret life of libraries.
Australian comedy troupe The Chaser (best known for breaking into the APEC summit in 2007) have been banned from reporting on the Royal Wedding by the Royal Family. The Chaser respond. [more inside]
How Britain's largest corporations helped engineer the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
The Jeremy Kyle Show has been described as 'human bear-baiting', but the programme itself makes great claims about the good it does. So what happens when the cameras stop rolling? At the end of the day... Previous
Benjamin Darvill, a.k.a. Son of Dave, is a one-man band of sorts, combining harmonica, vocals, beat-boxing, a rattle and foot-stomping to create his own infectious form of blues. Darvill, a Canadian formerly with Crash Test Dummies, has released four albums to date as Son of Dave, his latest and best being 'Shake A Bone', recorded and mixed by Steve Albini in Chicago, the title track used briefly in an episode of Breaking Bad. [more inside]
Stonewall is a UK-based European charity founded as a response to the controversial Section 28 (which prohibited local authorities and teachers from intentionally promoting homosexuality) that was enacted in the UK in 1988. In the decades since being founded, the charity has become well-known for lobbying for gay rights. In 2005, Stonewall started Education for All, a campaign against homophobic bullying and for an inclusive learning environment for all. The charity has included support from famous people before, and now includes Sir Ian McKellen and others going to secondary schools to talk with kids and teachers about homophobia. (via TheophileEscargot on MetaChat)
Years after its final broadcast, the award-winning, pond-hopping, cult comedy hit Whose Line is it Anyway? is returning to television! Sort of! Tonight in just a few minutes, Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza (promo, sample segment) makes its debut on GSN, reuniting Carey with popular "Whosers" Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, Wayne Brady, and many more. Though the show will air every weekday, you don't have to wait around for new episodes to get your improv fix -- in spite of the lack of DVD box sets, there's a veritable treasure trove of past content available free from multiple online sources, including the complete run of the American Whose Line on both YouTube and fansite WatchWLIIA along with every episode of the original UK run from Channel4's official YouTube channel and their streaming video site 4oD. Too much content? Look inside for selections of the show's most hilarious moments as sampled from the show's burgeoning TVTropes entry. See also: Fan guide - American episode guide (UK version) - List of game types [more inside]
Indian prison authorities in Hyderabad have opened up a call centre inside the jail with hopes of servicing customers from the UK.
Recent research on children. (1) Brothers and sisters who argue a lot can improve their language, social skills and outcomes: Guardian article; paper on part of the research (pdf). (2) First findings from Understanding Society. Conclusions include: the unhappiness of children’s mothers with their partners affect children’s happiness, but this is not the case if children’s fathers are unhappy in their relationships; having older brothers or sisters doesn’t appear to affect children’s happiness, but having younger brothers or sisters is associated with less happiness; not living with both natural parents has a greater negative impact on a young person’s life satisfaction than their material situation. (3) A longitudinal study on people now in their forties has found that for these people reading is linked to career success, though not necessarily to better pay, whilst playing computer games and doing no other activities was associated with less likelihood of going to university. In particular, those who owned a ZX Spectrum or Commodore C64 were less likely to go to university. thinq interview with researcher. Guardian article. Telegraph article. (4) Poll about children’s attitudes to losing in sport. Press release. Data from children’s survey. Data from parents’ survey. (All three are PDFs.)
The Independent (UK) proposes a list of fifty books that every eleven-year-old should read. [more inside]
Of the two hundred and forty photographs Horace Warner shot in 1912 of the Spitalfields Nippers, only 30 are around today. [more inside]
Embarassing Bodies, your one-stop clinical revulsion shop! Is it painful? And does it ooze? Pus and blood? Yep, that sounds nasty. [warning: NASTY] [more inside]
In the dim and distant past before video recorders, never mind DVDs and the interweb, the only way a Doctor Who fan could re-live old episodes of the programme was via the Target Books novelizations. The BBC is reissuing some of the classic stories with new intros by the likes of Neil Gaiman. [more inside]
Epidemiology: Study of a lifetime. "In 1946, scientists started tracking thousands of British children born during one cold March week. On their 65th birthday, the study members find themselves more scientifically valuable than ever before." [more inside]
"I almost can't believe I'm witnessing this. We're inside the fortress of terror, our very own Mordor..." [more inside]
Richard Peppiatt, a reporter for the British tabloid the Daily Star, has quit because of its "hatemongering" anti-Muslim propaganda. This is his resignation letter.
The "King of English", H.W. Fowler wrote A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Although "modern linguists are almost by definition incapable of understanding the function of a book like Fowler’s Dictionary", the "half-educated Englishman of literary proclivities" who just wants to know: "Can I say so-&-so?’" may now buy the classic first edition of the Dictionary again. An earlier book, The King's English, is free for anyone seeking advice on Americanisms, Saxon words, the spot plague, archaism or split infinitives.
UK respite and foster parents may no longer be homophobic, even when it is due to religious belief. An English Christian couple acting as foster parents have been banned from further placements due to their statement that they could not tell children that homosexual relationships were of equal value, with judges stating that their claims that adoption should still be allowed as a "a travesty of reality". Reaction from the UK religious right (such as it is) is venomous. [more inside]
"‘Churnalism’ is a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added." Churnalism.com is a site created by the British charity Media Standards Trust, which lets you input the text of a press release to compare it with the text of news articles in the British media. [more inside]
The number of young people taking drugs has fallen by 30% in 15 years How the British fell out of love with drugs
Pump Up The Volume - The History Of House Music was a three part documentary (1 Time To Jack, 2 Can You Feel It, 3 From Hardcore To Handbag) first shown in the UK in 2001, telling of House’s origins in the Chicago underground, it’s crossing over the Atlantic and evolving into illegal Acid raves before entering into the mainstream in Britain. (Some NSFW language) [more inside]
In February 2006, a group of criminals pulled off the biggest cash heist in the history of the UK, making off with £53 million pounds. To date, only £23 million of the money has been recovered. Police are understandably upset about the dead ends in the case.
The lemurs are hungry, a new food blog "in search of deliciousness from Malaysia to Mexico", features some great writing and photography, but more shockingly manages to obtain good Mexican food in the UK, something that has been previously hard to find or outright horrible, despite attempts to claim 'the Julia Child of Mexican Cuisine' as a Brit.
"Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind.... The name of this parallel universe is Britain." The UK's Progressive Tea Party.
Time Out's 100 best British films, as chosen by the film industry