Man spontaneously combusts

London's Evening Standard reports that a man burst into flames in a Haringey street before horrified onlookers, and investigators can find no cause for the fire.

Passers-by saw John Nolan, 70, ablaze in a street in Haringey in the middle of the day and attempted to put out the flames before calling police and fire crews. The former construction worker, who was originally from County Mayo in Ireland, was taken to a specialist hospital but died later. Today detectives said his death was being treated as unexplained. There were no accelerants found on his body and specialist fire investigators could find no obvious reason for Mr Nolan to catch alight.

I was terrified of spontaneous human combustion as a kid. Not combusting myself, but of those creepy scenes from Time Life books about spontaneous human combustion, where there's just a burned-out chair and half an old lady's leg, with nothing else touched but by smoke and a yellow film of melted human fat. The wick effect is widely held to explain circumstances such as those, but it seems inadequate for examples such as Nolan. Arson or suicide seem equally unlikely: he was a well-liked, quiet Irishman close to home in a safe part of London. Read the rest

A guy tricked Tripadvisor into making his garden shed the top-rated restaurant in London

Oobah Butler once had a job writing fake Tripadvisor restaurant reviews for £10/each, paid by restauranteurs; having learned how powerful these reviews were, he decided to turn his south London shed into the best-regarded restaurant in all of London. Read the rest

Fatberg vanquished

After a nine-week battle (previously), London's sewer heroes have vanquished a 130-tonne (143 ton) fatberg lurking beneath the city. The congealed mass of fat, trash, wet wipes, diapers, condoms, excrement and death had formed a glistening wall of pale horror that presented "the most gut-wrenching work" waste manager Alex Stephens had ever seen. But the "beast is finally defeated".

Thames Water says fatbergs form when people put things they should not down sinks and toilets. The company spends about £1m every month clearing blockages from the capital's sewers.

The final section of the affected tunnels, reports the BBC, had to be cleared by hand, with shovels. Read the rest

London taxi crash: Black car 'injures several people' in Covent Garden after mounting pavement. Not terrorism.

CNN and various UK media are reporting that a black taxi cab mounted the pavement in London, injuring multiple people. Police are on site, and roads are blocked to traffic and pedestrians.

Read the rest

Today's art thieves rob via email

London galleries -- and some US dealers -- have been hit by a rash of electronic thefts by crooks who take over the gallery's email accounts and interrupt the transmission of invoices at the close of high-ticket sales, substituting fake invoices with throwaway bank accounts that close up and disappear after the money lands -- then the crooks stay in the email, interrupting "where's my money" emails and sending back fake replies assuring the galleries that the "buyer" is doing all they can to locate the rogue payment. Read the rest

Anatomy of the human head in the style of a London tube-map

Jonathan Simmonds, an MD in Boston, MA, created these Map Anatomy illustrations that represent a detailed, functional diagram of the human head's anatomy in the style of a London tubemap; you can buy downloads and posters from his Etsy store, but act quickly, because Transport for London are notorious, humourless assholes about this kind of thing! (via Reddit) Read the rest

Someone dropped a USB stick containing a bunch of sensitive security data about Heathrow

A London man found a USB stick on a pavement in west London and (unwisely) plugged it into a computer, only to discover that it contained 76 folders with at least 174 documents full of sensitive information on the security arrangements at Heathrow airport, including "the types of ID needed to access restricted areas, a timetable of security patrols and maps pinpointing CCTV cameras" as well as the measures used to protect the Queen when she flies through LHR. Read the rest

Londoners! I'll be speaking at Waterstones Gower Street with Ada Palmer on Nov 8

By a very happy coincidence, Ada Palmer and I are both passing through London on November 8 and we're doing a joint event at the Waterstones in Gower Street, starting at 6:30! The tickets (which include wine) are £6/£4 for students; you can book them here. Read the rest

London's amazing underground infrastructure revealed in vintage cutaway maps

Londonist's roundup of cutaway maps -- many from the outstanding Transport Museum in Covent Garden -- combines the nerdy excitement of hidden tunnels with the aesthetic pleasure of isomorophic cutaway art, along with some interesting commentary on both the development of subterranean tunnels and works and the history of representing the built environment underground in two-dimension artwork. Read the rest

The London Underground thinks it can sell travelers' attention and wifi data for £322m

Since late 2016, the Transport for London has been running a pilot scheme, providing wifi to passengers while logging and retaining all the wifi traffic coming in and out of its access points, compiling a massive dossier on every tube-rider who had wifi turned on for their devices, whether or not they ever accessed the wifi service. Read the rest

The future of digital rights in the UK will start at ORGCon 17, London, Nov 4-5

There has never been a moment in which digital rights in the UK were more up for grabs, between Brexit, sweeping new surveillance powers, and the accelerating drumbeat of the digitisation of every aspect of life and society. Read the rest

Coming to Europe: a lecture tour with Garnet "Disobedient Electronics" Hertz

Garnet Hertz is the designer/scholar/provocateur behind the amazing Disobedient Electronics project ("Building electronic objects can be an effective form of social argument or political protest"); though he is normally based at British Colombia's Emily Carr University, he's currently touring Europe with the Disobedient Electronics book on a Disobedient Electronics protest tour, with stops in London, Southampton, the Hague, Brussels, Paris, Berlin and Madiera. Read the rest

London bans Uber; firm can stay while it appeals

Citing its failure to disclose serious crimes and the use of "Grayball" software to evade regulatory oversight, London banned Uber today.

The company has 21 days to appeal the loss of its license to operate cabs, during with Uber is permitted to continue doing business.

London's Licensed Taxi Drivers Association praised the decision. “Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers,” a spokesman told the Independent.

Uber's London manager vowed to challenge the decision, arguing that it would hurt 40,000 Uber drivers in the city. "To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts," he said.

There's no love whatsoever in London for traditional cabbies, but Uber's such a vile company that this is likely to bring it to heel as it did in other European cities. That said, never underestimate the political power of consumer convenience—especially in a city whose leaders don't seem to understand why Uber is so successful. Read the rest

20% of Manchester police systems run Windows XP

Manchester boasts England's second-largest police-force (after London) and some of the nation's shittiest IT. Read the rest

There's an 820-foot-long fatberg clogging an east London sewer

The latest fatberg (a hardened mass of condoms, nappies, wet wipes, fat, and other things that people insist on flushing down their toilets) (previously) to clog London's sewers is the Whitechapel whale, measuring 820 feet long, weighing 130 metric tonnes (as much as 11 double-decker buses) (this is a standard measure of fatbergs). Read the rest

Mat Ricardo's next juggling show will feature a trick you think he can't do

Mat Ricardo (previously) writes, "After 30 years of being the undisputed go-to guy for performing feats of dexterity live on stage, I've got a problem - I think I've done all the tricks I can think of. So, in what could be the dumbest move of my career, or the most fun, I'm issuing an open challenge for my next one man show." Read the rest

Mafia money-launderer listed his profession as "fraudster" with UK companies register

The UK is one of the easiest places in the world to set up a shady company, which is why accused Mafia money-launderer Antonio "Tonino the Blond" Righi set up his shell company Magnolia Fundaction UK with Britain's Companies House, giving an address in Soho. Read the rest

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