MonthJuly 2017

Unicorn lollies and six million avocados: our insatiable appetite for Instafood

As a new exhibition charts our obsession with photographing food, we look at the hottest dishes, the dark side of Instagrammed cupcakes and how social media is changing the way we eat We’ll never know what the photographer Irving Penn would have made of #foodporn. The master of still-life photography died in 2009, and Instagram wasn’t born until the following year. Instagram, of course, is the favoured social media outlet for photographs of food, and #foodporn is one of its most-used hashtags, with 130m posts and rising. Penn was doing it seven decades ago – memorable among his early images are Ingredients for a Beef Stew (1947-48); The Empty Plate (1949) and thereafter shots of steaks, lobsters, frogs’ legs and all manner of other good things. He even photographed a pizza (which is now the world’s most Instagrammed dish, followed by sushi, steak, burgers and bacon). For every smoothie bowl with forensically placed chia seeds there’s a boakworthy video of melted chocolate being slopped ‘Food pictures are about a million versions of the same thing,’ says Danneman. Six million, when it comes to #avocado Continue reading… [hmp_player]

‘Some days I feel like I’ll drop dead’ – Britain’s biggest cleaners’ strike

Cleaning staff working at four London hospitals are engaged in industrial action for better pay and conditions. Will collective action force an outsourcing giant to listen to these unheard voices? It is 10am on a Saturday morning and Whitechapel High Street in London is even busier than usual. A long, slow-moving stream of people snakes past the lines of stalls selling saris and Tupperware, and a circle of dancers has formed around a boombox playing Bob Marley. If it were not for the sea of signs saying “No racism in the NHS”, “Slippery Serco” and “We’re cleaners, not dirt” bobbing to a constant chorus of “Low pay, no way”, the scene could be a carnival. In fact it is the fifth day of the biggest cleaners’ strike in British history, due to end next week, which has seen 750 of London’s lowest-paid workers take action against one of the country’s wealthiest corporations. The high spirits are suddenly punctured by outbursts of rage as the crowd gathers outside the Royal London hospital, one of four hospitals where staff are involved in the strike against the outsourcing giant Serco. The company was recently awarded the £600m domestic services contract for Barts Health NHS trust, which runs the Royal London alongside St Bartholomew’s, Mile End, Whipps Cross and Newham University hospitals. Related: Two jobs just to eat: that’s life for workers in low-wage Britain | Frances Ryan Related: The courage of the LSE’s striking cleaners can give us all hope | Owen Jones Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Serena Williams is right about the pay gap for black women – but we need radical change

In Britain or the US, black women are struggling to overcome pay inequality. However, it’s not just a matter of throwing more cash at the problem Black capitalism is coming and I can understand why. Monday was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day in the US. The most shocking figure that I plucked out of the mess of hashtags and outraged memes was that the average American man could go on holiday for seven months and still earn the same as the average African American woman who works all year. Grim. Despite being one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, Serena Williams wrote an essay for Fortune magazine illustrating her thoughts on the matter. “Today isn’t about me. It’s about the other 24 million black women in America,” she wrote. “If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me.” Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Roasting a chicken, Facebook privacy settings, Doomsday prep: life skills all school kids should learn

Experts say children need to be taught more about breastfeeding – but are there other real-world lessons they should be getting too? The presidents of five royal colleges and expert organisations have called for a sea change in British attitudes towards breastfeeding. This would mean that we stop starving our children of the magical elixir and creating generations of shrivel-brained and bloaty-bodied citizens. It would also prevent us showing up so dismally in the world breastfeeding rankings. As part of the need to break down the “multiple barriers” between mothers and the successful wielding of their mammarian equipment, the experts suggest teaching schoolchildren about the practise and its benefits. It’s an admirable intention, undoubtedly, but if we are going to heap another item on to the already overfull plate of the average school curriculum, there are many more life skills that could go into the mix as well. For example: Continue reading… [hmp_player]

​I used to love train travel – but it has become an inexcusable rip-off | Rebecca Nicholson

​Five hours on a train enjoying the view and listening to music​ is​ much better than chucking another car on the road. It shouldn’t be a luxury There are two places I call “home”. There is home, the place where I grew up, where my family still lives and where I know people to say hello to in the supermarket. Then there is home, the place where I live now, where I work, where my friends live and where I have built my own existence. It gets confusing, at least linguistically: “I am going home – I will be home in a couple of days.” And like a lot of other people who split themselves in this way, for years and years I spent countless hours on trains, shuttling up and down the country, between the two lives. These days, though, I hardly ever catch the train. I say catch, but the idea of simply catching a train for a journey outside the city suggests a carefree, last-minute freedom that has long since evaporated into weeks of planning and negotiating increasingly baroque riffs on the words “off” and “peak”, in the hope of being charged less than a return flight to somewhere far warmer than Lincolnshire. This week Labour released a report that called overcrowding on railways “a national disgrace” and noted that fares are up by 27% since 2010. Passengers are, says Labour MP Andy McDonald, “paying through the nose for the dubious privilege of being crammed into ever-fuller trains”. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Should we stop keeping pets? Why more and more ethicists say yes

Ninety per cent of Britons think of their pet as part of the family – 16% even included them on the last census. But recent research into animals’ emotional lives has cast doubt on the ethics of petkeeping It was a Tupperware tub of live baby rats that made Dr Jessica Pierce start to question the idea of pet ownership. She was at her local branch of PetSmart, a pet store chain in the US, buying crickets for her daughter’s gecko. The baby rats, squeaking in their plastic container, were brought in by a man she believed was offering to sell them to the store as pets or as food for the resident snakes. She didn’t ask. But Pierce, a bioethicist, was troubled. “Rats have a sense of empathy and there has been a lot of research on what happens when you take babies away from a mother rat – not surprisingly, they experience profound distress,” she says. “It was a slap in the face – how can we do this to animals?” Related: The ethics of keeping a killer cat | Hal Herzog In 1877, the city of New York rounded up 762 stray dogs and drowned them in the East River Related: If dogs could talk, they’d tell us some home truths | John Bradshaw Continue reading… [hmp_player]

How to plug an awkward gap in your CV – and other career advice for the Mooch

Anthony Scaramucci may have served his president for just 10 days, but Trump’s former communications director will find his career path is not as easy as it was So, you’ve just been sacked from your job working for a major president of a big North American country? Tough one. You thought you would be spending the next few years squeezing the windpipes of hacks at venerable liberal institutions. Instead, you have been plunged back into the world of CV covering letters, Myers-Briggs tests and LinkedIn endorsements. Worse, you may find that the labour market has changed a lot in the past 10 days. But then, as President Trump tweeted this morning , the stock market is at the highest EVER, jobs numbers are GREAT, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble really. Certainly not if you follow our handy guide to re-employment. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

World of leather: how Tom of Finland created a legendary gay aesthetic

His subversive drawings ridiculed authority figures and inspired the look of Freddie Mercury and the Village People. A new film tells the story of Touko Laaksonen’s rise to become Europe’s kinkiest art export While sex between men was partially decriminalised 50 years ago in the UK, in Finland it took until 1971. And it wasn’t until very recently that the Finns were relaxed enough about homosexuality to openly acknowledge one of their country’s most famous exports. In 2014, they put his unmistakably erotic artwork on a set of stamps; this year, a biopic became a mainstream hit at the nation’s multiplexes. Almost 100 years after his birth in the town of Kaarina, Tom of Finland had come home. Tom’s real name was Touko Laaksonen. By day, he was a senior art director at advertising agency McCann Erickson. In his spare time, however, Laaksonen drew his sexual fantasies – bikers and lumberjacks, mounties and policemen going at it hammer and tongs in forests, prisons and parks, the smiles on their faces almost as big as their enormously tumescent penises. Initially published in American gay proto-porn magazines such as Physique Pictorial, they were disseminated worldwide in dime stores, sex shops or leather bars through an international underground of fans, despite laws against the distribution of such explicit material. Related: Homoerotic artist Tom of Finland gets the official stamp of approval Continue reading… [hmp_player]