Posts Tagged 'uk'

Free Wi-Fi (in London)

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Ok, feel free to ‘duh’ me here, but I thought posting a map of so far 305 free Wi-Fi spots around town could come in handy for a few.

[Via Londonist]

4 wheels bad, 2 wheels good!

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Finally it seems like London is catching up with being more bicycle-friendly! Apparently by May next year London will have 6,000 bicycles and 10,500 docking points, but akhem, as most things in London, it won’t be entirely free. So far the plans include Zone 1 only, but further expansion will hopefully follow.

Love food, hate waste

savewaste

Tonnes of food are wasted around the globe every single day. ‘Surplus’ food in our kitchens, shops and restaurants or food that is passing its expiry date on a given day is stuck in dumpsters and then usually just deposited at landfils. According to a new policy brief issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Stockholm International Water Institute and the International Water Management Institute, huge amounts of food — close to half of all food produced worldwide — are wasted after production. To widen the perspective, this also means tonnes of water and other resources that were needed to raise the food – wasted.

There seems to be plenty of positive debate about cutting back on eating meat and junk food for both health and environmental reasons, but neither the media or the society seems to be concerned with just how much of what we buy we end up wasting. According to WRAP, 6.7 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year,  or, to put it another way, around a third of all the food we buy end up being thrown away, and most of it could have been eaten. Britons waste an average of £10 bn a year, according to a Guardian study carried out in May 2008:

About £6bn of the wasted annual food budget is food that is bought but never touched – including 13m unopened yoghurt pots, 5,500 chickens and 440,000 ready meals dumped in home rubbish bins each day. The rest is food prepared or cooked for meals but never eaten because people have misjudged how much was needed and don’t eat the leftovers.

The complete £10bn consists of food that could have been eaten, not including peeling and bones, the researchers say. Tackling the waste could mean a huge reduction in CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking one in five cars off the road. The figures have been compiled by Wrap, the waste and resources action programme, which previously made the £8bn estimate and has warned we are throwing away a third of the food we buy, enough to fill Wembley stadium with food waste eight times over in a year.

landfill

Love Food Hate Waste provides both information on food wastage and advice on how to be more efficient in our consumption and shopping habits. The huge amounts of food being thrown away have supported freegans and other genres of food skippers. Among the ‘best’ sources of wasted food are supermarkets – surplus foods and those about to go out of date are discarded en masse around the globe. Apart from finding ways of distributing such food to shelters for homeless or food banks, some establishments are seeking to convert their waste into energy. In efforts of becoming more green, Sainsbury’s is set to start turning some of its wasted food into electricity. The program is now starting in Scotland and is set to go UK-wide by summertime. Each tonne of food waste is expected to be able to generate enough power for 500 homes.

Cause a scene

atlantanopants

Improv Everywhere is an urban prankster network which causes scenes or flashmobs crowds in cities around the world. One of their latest ‘missions’ was the No Pants 2k9 day organised across 22 cities. The group has spread over to blogs and Facebook as well with their Improv Everywhere page and multiple country-specific groups that try to keep participants up to date with what’s going on.

On Saturday, January 10th, 2009 nearly 2,500 took off their pants on subways in 22 cities around the world. In New York’s 8th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride we had over 1,200 participants, spread over four subway lines.

One of the more interesting ‘missions’ coming up in London is the Urban Desert Island Shipwreck, which will consitute of a few agents being dropped off on an pond island. They’ll be wearing ragged clothes on and showing consequences of a 2-week stay full of hunger and misery setting in. The scenario so far involves a plane crash, a rescue mission and family reunions.

Free love

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With recession looming over most of the fun parts of life, Londoners are becoming increasinglycreative in finding ways of  having fun that doesn’t cost much or is plain free. I just found a post at the Londonist showing a one-a-day list of events for the coming week. At London Is Free you will find a comprehensive guide to most of the free fun cultural events going on in our expensive capital. From Short&Sweet film screenings to knitting sessions, pretty much anyone will be able to find something up their alley. Among other establishments offering special entry discounts are the Arcola theatre with their Pay-What-You-Can Tuesday nights and Sadler’s Wells with their £5-£10 Sampled ticket scheme. Free love as such is an increasingly popular way of businesses attracting new clientele and creating better relationships with their existing customers. No more excuses for staying home these days!

Image courtesy of Feministing.

The Revolution Continues

china

I finally made my way to the Saatchi gallery yesterday which is now based at Duke of York’s HQ in Chelsea. The only noticeable downside of the gallery’s new incarnation is perhaps that it’s so far into the west of London. Otherwise, the gallery feels like a perfect match of the contemporary lightness and simplicity of its interior and the sophisticated historical  looks of its exterior. Stepping inside, the staff is without the classic servitude attitude and the minimalist rooms provide excellent breathing space for the included pieces of art. The gallery boasts with 3 floors spread over 4,500 square metres and claims to be the only completely free entry contemporary art museum of its size in the world.The revolution of Saatchi continues with great results.

zhang_xiaogang

The current exhibition is The Revolution Continues: New Chinese Art and is one of the most interesting contemporary exhibitions that I’ve seen in London. Although received with mixed feelings among the arts community’s reviewers, the exhibition is a fantastic stretch styles ranging from painting and sculpture to human resembling installations of suspended mannequins of China’s workers hanging upside down from the ceilings and the world’s somewhat expired leaders riding around aimlessly in  their wheelchairs in the gallery’s basement. The art also ranges in topics, with some amusing works playing with the Western ideals, others reminding of the political scars of the modern day China.

The exhibition is closing after the 18th of January, so for those who haven’t made it yet, hurry up!

Image courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery.

Temporary School of Thought Update

bookbinding

After attending a class on traditional French book binding today, I found out that the Mayfair squatters‘ court case has put their eviction on another 2 week delay. Another week of classes is set to roll in the coming week, so for those of you who missed out this week, this may be good news.

Temporary School of Thought

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London has about 250 000 empty houses and about a quarter of them are squatted. According to the Empty Homes Agency there were 804 000 empty homes in the UK in April 1998. The recently famous case of squatting in London is that of  squatters living in an uber-posh £22.5 mln building in London’s Mayfair. They were known from the past for squatting a £6.25 mansion just around the corner from the current squat, which they left upon eviction. The owners of the house saw a Christmas tree there last December and from then the artist squatters are yet again facing moving on. Squatting is not exactly illegal in the UK. So long as the entry to a building is not forced and the inhabitants do not damage the property, they aren’t committing a criminal offense. Squatters actually enjoy legal protection where the owner must first take them to court in order to get them out of his or her property. If squatters stay at a place for 12 years they gain some ownership rights to the property.

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Whether the eviction threat was a push to open the squat to the public, I don’t know, but it’s sure an interesting case. The squat is currently hosting an open school that holds free lectures and classes in anything from book binding and Polish history to cooking and life drawing. The Temporary School of Thought is based on mutual sharing of skills and knowledge by anyone who’s willing to bring them there. According to the squatters themselves, it’s  ‘a space where people come together to share knowledge, non-descript skills, tactical imagination, creationism, passive action. A week long event of mutual learning, leftwing bias, free lectures, inert radicalism, workshops, discussion and film screenings.’ If you want to attend any classes, you can check the timetable here.

The Big Deep

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No, this post isn’t about the credit crunch. I thought a lot of people out there must be feeling the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and so I just started randomly browsing the US and the UK statistics for depression, antidepressant drug use and general drug use. If true, then it’s pretty impressive data, especially considering its change over the past few decades. For years now I have been annoyed with the doctors’ relaxed attitude towards handing out medication. I remember once calling a local surgery in Kent, UK, to get advice on treating my flu-like sympthoms.  I was prescribed antibiotics over the phone within minutes and they were to be picked up the next day. I imagine similar handing applies to the distribution of antidepressants both in the UK, US and other developed countries.

prozac

According to HHS, the US Department for Health and Human Services, ‘adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between 1988 and 2000.  Ten percent of women 18 and older and 4 percent of men now take antidepressants.’ In the UK the use of antidepressants increased by 234% in the 10 years up to 2002. Using antidepressants has also spread across age groups and it is now not unusual to hear of preschoolers as young as 3 popping Prozac. Psychiatric medication is banned for children under 3, so perhaps that’s why the still younger ones aren’t on medication. Almost 500 people die every year in the UK from antidepressant drug use and overdose related poisonings. Antidepressants can also cause  or increase suicidal tendencies as a side effect and  perhaps as a result of these side effects over 5000 people have committed suicide in the past decade while using antidepressants.

Drug  ↓ Brand  ↓ Class  ↓ 2007 Prescriptions (in millions)  ↓
Sertraline Zoloft SSRI 29.652
Escitalopram Lexapro SSRI 27.023
Fluoxetine Prozac SSRI 22.266
Bupropion Wellbutrin, Budeprion, Zyban NDRI 20.184
Paroxetine Paxil SSRI 18.141
Venlafaxine Effexor SNRI 17.200
Citalopram Celexa SSRI 16.246
Trazodone Desyrel 15.473
Amitriptyline Elavil TCA 13.462
Duloxetine Cymbalta SNRI 12.551
Mirtazapine Remeron tetracyclic 5.129
Nortriptyline Pamelor TCA 3.105
Imipramine Tofranil TCA 1.524

So is the society indeed suffering from more conditions both psychological and physical alike, or is our knowledge of conditions bringing on a negative placebo effect, or are we just being led by institutions to treat our conditions with chemicals purely for the sake of that creating more profit for pharmaceutical companies and less hassle for the health care system? Almost half of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug at any given time. I think the health care systems need to commit more time to educating the public not just on the conditions they may have, but also to the ways of avoiding them in the first place and stop dispensing medicine as widely. NHS is finally making the first steps in sending out a message about how irrelevant antibiotics are in treating flu and cold. Better late than never, I suppose, but it still a long way to go.

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Frontline

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Frontline is finally available to watch online in the UK! All these years there had been broadcasting agreements (or rather disagreements) between the US and the UK that made it impossible to stream in their content. But yay, Frontline is finally here! For those unfamiliar with Frontline, it is a section of PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), which is something like an American BBC. Frontline consists of an online database of documentaries on topics ranging from international conflicts to the history of christianity and the neurological background of teenage behaviour. Yay again!


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