The Occult Defence Agency Budgeting Simulator: a text adventure that pits monster-slaying against austerity

In the Occult Defence Agency Budgeting Simulator, you are placed in charge of the budget for an organisation whose mission is "defending the United Kingdom from paranormal threats. Vampire covens, stray werewolves, pixie swarms, cultists with funny robes and impractical daggers, unlicensed hauntings, and more obscure matters" -- but you are British, and that means your boss is a government minister who insists that you make headline-grabbing "swingeing cuts" every year. Read the rest

UK minister says airlines used "exploitative algorithms" to split up families unless they paid extra

UK Digital Minister Margot James has vowed to crack down on "exploitative algorithms" used by airlines that deliberately split up families' seat assignments if they did not pay for pre-assigned seats; James says that the airlines used these algorithms to coerce families into paying for pre-assigned seating. Read the rest

UN poverty envoy calls UK poverty a "political choice" that inflicted "great misery"

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has followed up his scorching condemnation of US poverty with an even more damning report on poverty in the UK, which he calls a "political choice" brought on by a decade of austerity at the hands of the Conservative Party. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg to the governments of Canada, UK, Australia, Ireland and Argentina: "Go fuck yourselves"

Mark Zuckerberg has told the governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina, Australia and Ireland that he is "not available" for a planned hearing on political disinformation and Facebook. Read the rest

Britons! Tell the UK government that the compulsory porn-viewing logs need compulsory privacy standards

The British government has decreed that adult sites must collect age-verification data on everyone who looks at material rated for 18-and-over viewing; this amounts to a database of the porn-viewing habits of every adult in the UK. Read the rest

Indie UK mobile carrier announces a Tor-only SIM that blocks unencrypted data

Getting all your data to flow through the Tor network can be tricky -- the desktop Tor Browser only tunnels your web-traffic through the privacy-protecting service, and the mobile apps can be tricky and uncertain. Read the rest

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

The first woman Doctor Who to be commemorated with a limited-edition Barbie

Tonight marks the world premiere of the first Doctor Who series in which the Doctor is portrayed by a woman. The limited-edition commemorative Barbie available for pre-order starting tomorrow, exclusively through Forbidden Planet. 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

Depictions of Addiction: a free online photography course, starting in two days

The amazing, award-winning photographer and photography teacher Jonathan Worth (previously) is about to launch his next course: Depictions of Addiction, from Connected Academy, with internationally renowned photographers Nina Berman, Jeffrey Stockbridge and Graham Macindoe. Read the rest

All levels of UK government have been paralysed by Brexit

The British government has been immobilised by Brexit preparations: hundreds of millions of pounds paid by insurers to the government to rebuild from flooding are sitting idle in savings accounts because no one can spare the time to spend them; ministers won't schedule out-of-London meetings because being away during a key vote would endanger the whisper-thin Tory majority; UK workforce productivity has fallen off a cliff while workers struggle to make preparations for the uncertain future; the government is incapable of legislating because the whole calendar is filled with Brexit bills; junior ministers are barely showing up for work because they don't believe they'll have careers after Brexit; the NHS's overriding priority is Brexit preparation -- everything, from top to bottom, is crumbling. Read the rest

App for UK Conservative Party conference exposes all attendees' private info

The UK Conservative Party's annual conference is about to kick off in Birmingham, and the Tories have distributed an app ahead of time to all attendees: senior ministers, government officials, members of the press, party members, and others. Read the rest

Tea swilling British love coffee so much it contaminated their ground water

A 2016 study shows the UK drinks so much coffee it has invaded their water systems. Read the rest

Not in our name: Why European creators must oppose the EU's proposal to limit linking and censor the internet

The European Copyright Directive vote is in three days and it will be a doozy: what was once a largely uncontroversial grab bag of fixes to copyright is now a political firestorm, thanks to the actions of Axel Voss, the German MEP who changed the Directive at the last minute, sneaking in two widely rejected proposals on the same day the GDPR came into effect, forming a perfect distraction (you can contact your MEP about these at Save Your Internet). Read the rest

Britain is a money-launderer's paradise, Part LXII

Paul Manafort's money-laundering conviction makes a convenient peg to hang Buzzfeed's investigation into shell companies in the UK off of; and what their excellent reporting reveals is a playground for money-launderers who operate in the most brazen way, using a complex system of shell companies all over the world, but using the UK as the the lynchpin for their schemes. Read the rest

The Clown Egg Register: photos of the painstakingly painted eggs that English clowns stake their faces on

Since 1946, the Clown Egg Register has collected blown eggshells that clowns hand-paint with their distinctive makeup, in order to claim that particular makeup as belonging to them; by custom, clowns do not copy each others' faces. Read the rest

Criminals have perfected the art of taking over dead peoples' online accounts

When you die, your relatives will be sad and (depending on the circumstances of your death) possibly left scrambling to make arrangements for your remains, effects, and estate. Read the rest

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