Portals of London: urban exploration to discover gateways to alternative universe

Salim Fadhley writes, "Portals of London, an urban exploration blog, presents an alternative geography of London. It's a catalog of the weird, decrepit and slightly crumpled - things the author posits might plausibly be portals to alternative universes, but then again might not." Read the rest

London food couriers targeted by motorcycle thieves

London is increasingly a city on two wheels: it's huge, it's congested, and gasoline is comically expensive. Thieves are targeting bike couriers, taking their mopeds and scooters for single-time use in subsequent crimes (such as robberies), and this BBC investigation shows how violent they're getting with victims.

We’ve all got used to having food delivered to our doorsteps at all hours of the day and night. But spare a thought for the delivery riders, because they’re frequently finding themselves the target of armed bike and moped gangs, who attempt to steal their delivery vehicles to use to commit further crimes. To reveal just how dangerous it can be out there, we armed some of these drivers with cameras. Chris Rogers has the story.

As a former Londoner now living in America, I have to admit that I can't imagine this sort of casual, push-you-off-your-bike theft here. Americans call it a "polite society" but that's just their way of describing an "I will blow your head off if you come within 10 feet of my bike" society. The result is an insane yet normalized pandemic of gun violence, but hey, at least no-one is going to try and nick your motorcycle at the lights.

Some of the scenes are so amazing it seems like fiction. The police are so useless that couriers themselves are forming gangs to retaliate against thieves. It's like the first scene of Akira, but on little scooters going "iiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" and all they want to do is deliver lunch. Read the rest

The first science fiction con was held in 1891 at the Royal Albert Hall

Charles Wallace writes, "In 1891 the Royal Albert Hall hosted what may be the first sci-fi convention, centered on the book 'The Coming Race' by our old friend Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The video linked above features a trip to the archives of the Royal Albert Hall by host Brady Haran. Good proto new-age weirdness with through-threads to current neo-nazis. Fun for all!" Read the rest

Mozilla is throwing a science fiction convention in London

Kevin from Mozilla writes, "MozFest -- the annual internet festival hosted by Mozilla in London -- is all about software. Right? Not so. The festival explores the future of the internet. As such, there are a whole slew of sci-fi and fantasy sessions and workshops planned for the Oct. 26-28 gathering. The event is open to everyone and all ages. It's a chance for sci-fi fans of all stripes to geek out and chat with experts." Read the rest

Street artists subvertise Facebook bus stop ads in London

Thanks to the members of a street art project, some bus shelter adverts for Facebook in London were improved by a good ol' fashioned culture jam.

The Protest Stencil is taking credit for these subvertising efforts which altered Facebook's messaging to say, "Fake news is not our friend, it’s a great revenue source," and "Data misuse is not our friend, it’s our business model."

They refer to their work as "honest Facebook ads," writing, "To facebook, you’re not a ‘friend’, you’re the product on sale." Preach it!

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those honest facebook ads are really getting around... . . . #facebookads #adhack #londonstreets #adtakeover #advertisingshitsinyourhead #acab

A post shared by Protest Stencil (@proteststencil) on Aug 15, 2018 at 6:02am PDT

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TFW you realise that *you* are the product that’s on sale... . . . #facebookads #adhack #adtakeover

A post shared by Protest Stencil (@proteststencil) on Aug 13, 2018 at 8:36am PDT

(Design You Trust)

image via Protest Stencil Read the rest

Heartbreaking documentary on London's North Korean enclave

Little Pyongyang made the festival rounds and his been picked up by The Guardian. It tells the story of how one soldier made his way to Europe's largest community of North Korean nationals after escaping the brutal regime.

Joong-wha Choi, a former soldier in North Korea, lives today with his wife and children in a sleepy London suburb, home to Europe's biggest North Korean population. Despite enjoying the new found comforts of his British life, and being emancipated from the pressures of the North Korean state, he has a desire to return to the land that betrayed him, and feels like his true home. Joong-wha reflects on both why he left North Korea and the state of his day to day life over the course of several months, in a portrait of loss, longing, and the complexities of healing from trauma.

Here's a nice Q&A with the filmmakers

Little Pyongyang (YouTube / The Guardian) Read the rest

The UK's largest estate agency is on the verge of bankruptcy

Countrywide is the UK's largest property agents (they own estate agencies like Hamptons International, Bairstow Eves and Bridgfords), with 900 locations and 10,000 employees, and they're selling off shares at fire-sale prices in a desperate bid to raise £140 million to service their massive debts; the sum is 300% of the company's market cap, their shares are down 60% on the news, and the company blames plummeting London prices and Brexit jitters for their misfortunes. Read the rest

London luxury housing market bubble bursts: 39% of sales last quarter were to deep discount wholesalers making bulk buys

London's property market continues its implosion, brought on by a combination of tightening capital controls (much of the market exists to help offshore criminals launder their money), Brexit, and a long-overdue correction to a wildly inflated market. Read the rest

A giant, bare-chested Jeff Goldblum statue appears in London

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park, a 25-foot-tall statue of Jeff Goldblum (as his character in the film, the sexy and shirtless Dr. Ian Malcolm) has been placed at the base of London's Tower Bridge. The piece is called Jurassic Jeff and it will be on display through July 26.

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Read the rest

Former Tory chancellor takes over newspaper, sells "money-can't buy" coverage to Uber, Google and others

George Osborne was David Cameron's Chancellor of the Exchequer, the architect of UK austerity; he was fired by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister and he did not run for re-election in the disastrous election of 2017, instead taking a job as editor-in-chief of the Evening Standard. Read the rest

Explore what London looks like in infrared

Invisible London is a great primer on infrared filmmaking, with lovely shots of London as the backdrop. Read the rest

The company that made Grenfell Tower's flammable, poisonous insulation used dangerous lies to make hundreds of sales

Celotex convinced the owners of Grenfell Tower and hundreds of other buildings in the UK to insulate with their RS5000 insulation product -- a product that had never passed safety tests. The company claimed it was safe for use because a different version of RS5000 (one that used much more flame-retardant) had been through the tests. Read the rest

London's Variety Club for Kids: Cabaret for all ages, May 29/30

Showman Mat Ricardo (previously) writes, "I've always thought it was a shame that the resurgence in cabaret and variety shows has tended to be adult-centric. Late night sexy circus shenanigans are all well and good, but variety shows should be for everyone - so I did something about it!" Read the rest

New York surpasses Brexit London as the world's second-hottest luxury property market

If you are an oligarch or criminal looking to exfiltrate and launder your money, London property markets have been your go-to asset class: London lux is real-estate that behaves like cash, thanks to the long line of oligarchs and criminals who'll pay cash for your safe-deposit box in the sky on a few hours' notice, should you need to liquidate ahead of a purge or an indictment. Read the rest

How the "global super-rich" have honeycombed London's posh neighbourhoods with sub-basements, sub-sub-basements, and sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-basements

London -- ground zero for financial shenanigans, money-laundering, and the conversion of housing from a human necessity to an asset-class -- has spent decades converting itself to an inert, open-air vault full of status-displaying safe-deposit boxes owned by offshore criminals and oligarchs who "improve" their empty properties with absurd fripperies to make them more flippable come the day that their local warlord purges them and they need the ready cash. Read the rest

London cops are using an unregulated, 98% inaccurate facial recognition tech

The London Metropolitan Police use a facial recognition system whose alerts have a 98% false positive rate; people falsely identified by the system are stopped, questioned and treated with suspicion. Read the rest

Leaked Grenfell Towers papers: Tory politicians rejected fireproof cladding proposal for a 5.7% savings

The Grenfell Towers fire was one of the most deadly fires in modern British history, killing at least 72 people, with no way to know how many more may have died. Read the rest

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