Cryptofloricon: send bouquet-encoded messages

London's Cryptofloricon encode one of several useful messages into floral code and send the resulting bouquet to your sweetheart. (Thanks, Ed!) Cory 6

Cockney ATM


Long have I heard tell of the Cockney Rhyming Slang ATM of Hackney Road, but na'er had I chanced upon it...until today! As soon as I stuck my debit card in the machine in front of the Co-Op Grocers in Hackney Road and was asked to make a language-selection between "English" and "Cockney," I knew I'd found it at last.

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More Victorian portraits of "London types"


Spitalfields Life has posted more Victorian portraits of London characters and tradesmen a (here's the last batch). The new set has some absolute gems, including the Muffin Man (above). Also not to be missed (below): "itinerant," "lounge lizard," and "portcullis raiser at the bloody tower."

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Food studio that makes edible fireworks, four-ton punchbowls, and floats a steamship in 55K litres of green jelly

Bompas and Parr are a London-based "food-nerd" studio that makes weird and amazing foodstuffs, including an edible fireworks display for New Years Eve that showered revelers with strawberry smoke, peach-flavored snow, orange bubbles and banana confetti. In a fascinating profile in Wired, they reveal something of their methodology and their portfolio, which sounds delicious and ambitious.

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Bartender places Tony Blair under citizen's arrest for unprovoked war against Iraq


Twiggy Garcia, a bartender at the east London restaurant Tramshed -- which is right around the corner from me! -- interrupted former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's dinner to place him under citizen's arrest and ask him to come to a police station to hear charges for his decision "to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq." The war criminal smiled winningly and tried to change the subject to Syria, while his offspring hurried away to get their private muscle. The bartender, sensing an impending beat-down, left, quitting.

I'm sorry he quit. I'd have booked a table at Tramshed for the express purpose of buying him a drink. If you're interested in placing Tony Blair under arrest, you can learn more at Arrestblair.org.

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Bugle alarm clock

Dominic Wilcox made this Bugle Alarm Clock for a window at Selfridges department store in London: "This prototype alarm clock is fitted with mini air compressor and thin vibrating rubber membrane to mimic lip vibrations."

4: Bugle Alarm Clock (via WTBW)

(Photo: Piotr Gaska)

Mr Chicken: the genius who paints London's fried-chicken signs


London's fried chicken restaurants are a bizarre and wonderful institution -- generally, they have American-ish names (Dixy Fried Chicken, Southern Fried Chicken, Carolina Fried Chicken) and KFC-ish logos, all carefully titrated to be just far enough from the KFC version to keep the Colonel's savage attack-lawyers at bay. I photograph these places semi-compulsively, but I never knew (until today) that all their signs were designed by a single virtuoso fried-chicken sign-painter named Morris "Mr Chicken" Cassanova, who warrants his own chapter in Siâron Hughes's 2009 book Chicken: Low Art, High Calorie. A post on Creative Review excerpts Hughes's interview with Mr Chicken:

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Events for London hackers and designers who want a better world

Carla sez, "There are two upcoming ways for designers and coders to put a little good out into the world. First, you can land a job that lets you spend your time making positive social change. On February 6 join WebVisions at Essence in London for short presentations from Essence Digital, Buddy App, PaveGen, Streetbank, and Sidekick Studios. Learn different ways that you can turn your vocation into a force for good. Second, be a part of WebVisions' Hackathon for Social Good on February 8. Held at Fjord London, programmers and designers will spend the day working collaboratively to build programs and applications that benefit local nonprofits." Cory 1

Back with the Borribles

Aimée and Rose de Larabeitti remember the stories their father, Michael, told them—stories he would go on to publish as the anarchic, anti-authoritarian, and completely wonderful Borrible Trilogy of young adult books.

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Portraits of London's 19th century poor


Thomas Lord Busby's 1820 volume Costume Of The Lower Orders was part of a genre of books that featured colourful paintings depicting working people in the streets of London, generally viewed through the lens of an aristocratic voyeur. They're a kind of visual companion to Mayhew's classic London Labour and the London Poor (though this latter dates 20 years after Busby's book).

Another important volume is Thomas Rowlandson's Characteristic Series of the Lower Orders, which Spitalfields Life has excerpted in two posts (1, 2).

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City of London Police told they can't just take away domains because Hollywood doesn't like them


The City of London is a curiosity; it's the financial district within London proper, and it has its own local government, which is elected by the banks and other corporations within the district. This (literally) corporate-run government then operates its own police force, separate from the Metropolitan Police, with sweeping powers.

The City of London Police recently gave themselves the power to seize domains that they believed were implicated in copyright violation, and started sending officious letters to domain registrars demanding that the domains be shut down. This was a purely extrajudicial, ad-hoc procedure -- in other words, the City of London Police were just making it up. The letters they sent had no force in law, cited no evidence from a court, and were unenforceable.

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Mat Ricardo's one-man mime show in London's West End, Jan 21-25

Mat Ricardo writes, "Very happy to announce that my new one man show 'Showman' is running for a week in London's West End as part of the London International Mime Festival. I've been a fan (and customer) of the Mime Fest for more than a decade, so I'm really happy to be involved this year - in spite of not being a mime artist, and having a show that sees me talk pretty much from beginning to end!"

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Council's Xmas card to social housing tenants: don't spend your rent money on booze


London's Hammersmith and Fulham Council sent a "Christmas card" to its social housing tenants that implied that they would squander their rent money on booze. The council insists the card wasn't intended to be insulting -- rather, it was meant as a "hard hitting" reminder that to call the council's helpline if you are struggling with your rent money.

Record numbers of Britons are living in fuel- and food-poverty, a condition that continues to worsen in the face of cuts to benefits and the rise of jobs that pay sub-poverty wages for full-time employment. The council sent the card to 17,000 households (including tenants who'd never fallen behind in their rent) at an expense of £2,000.

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New London police powers: the right to bite


Britons, take note: Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives has a timely reminder about the London Police's new powers. The new biting powers will be useful alongside the ASBO, detention without charge, the right to seize domain names, illegal harvesting of innocent peoples' DNA, the right to arrest you for reading things that might help terrorists, the right to kettle legal demonstrations, the right to shoot people in the street, the right to beat people standing near demonstrations to death, the right to arrest you for taking pictures that might help terrorists, and all the other legal doctrines that are so consistent with all the invisible words in our "unwritten constitution."

New Police Powers (via Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

English Pen's privacy/surveillance debate in London

Jo from English Pen writes, "Thanks to Edward Snowden's leaks about the secret surveillance of all our communications by intelligence services in the UK and US, privacy is one of the biggest stories of the day. None of us can be sure now that our emails or phone calls are ever confidential, so this is something we should all be worried about. At English PEN there's a discussion next Wednesday 11 December at 630pm, with some experts on the subject and it should be a lively debate - with writer Alan Judd, former MI6 director for operations Nigel Inkster and Ian Brown, director of the Oxford Internet Institute. It's chaired by English PEN's director Jo Glanville at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3GA." Cory 1