The Consumer Category

We bring you the chic and unique, the best and most bizarre shopping offers both online and offline. We offer you tips on where to buy, and some of the less mainstream and crazy, individual and offbeat items on the internet. Anything that can be bought and sold can be featured here. And we love showcasing the best and worst art and design.

Internet Archive creates National Emergency Library for instant access to its 1.4million books

Shut indoors you can read and read thanks to the Internet Archive which has suspended waiting lists for the 1.4 million book on it shelves by creating a National Emergency Library.

During the waitlist suspension, users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.  

This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries to readers worldwide that are locked out of their libraries.

And you can help:

  1. Read books, recommend books, and teach using books from the National Emergency Library
  2. Sponsor a book to be digitized and preserved
  3. Endorse this effort institutionally or individually
  4. Share news about the National Emergency Library with your social media followers using #NationalEmergencyLibrary
  5. Donate to the Internet Archive

Fantastic.

Posted: 26th, March 2020 | In: Books, Key Posts, News | Comment


Child breaks down as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and the Chinese restaurant close forcing her to eat mum’s cooking (video)

Fast food child

Jo Charlton post the following video of her daughter having a meltdown over the closure of fast food eateries. “Just like to add… we didn’t live off of takeaways!!! The world has ended for layla today x,” says Jo.

Just like to add… we didnt live off of takeaways!!! The world has ended for layla today x

Posted by Jo Charlton on Monday, 23 March 2020

Posted: 24th, March 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore make staff homeless – blame it on admin error

The Colyumbridge Hotel new Aviemore, Scotland, has been making news. The “perfect escape for an unforgettable family vacation” has sent out a letter telling employees to get thee hence. Coronavirus is apparently behind the mass sacking in which some staff were told to leave the hotel accommodation immediately.

The hotel’s owners, Brittania Hotels, says it was all a misunderstanding. The company tell the Liverpool Echo: “With regards to the current situation regarding staff at our Coylumbridge Hotel and being asked to vacate their staff accommodation. Unfortunately, the communication sent to these employees was an administrative error. All affected employees are being immediately contacted. We apologise for any upset caused.”

You know how these errors go: a virus infects your world, types a letter and tells everyone to get out or else. Other companies should take note of this and increase their virus protection.

Posted: 21st, March 2020 | In: Money, News, The Consumer | Comment


Anti-Coronavirus hand gels from Bulgarian vodka and Bristol gin

hand sanitzer alcohol

‘Hand gets?,” asked my Bulgarian friend Vanya. “Nah. Use vodka and tissues.” What;’ good in London is better in Bristol, where Bristol gin distillery Psychopomp is using some of its alcohol as hand sanitizer and giving it to locals in exchange for a donation to charity.

Posted: 19th, March 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Nighthawks by Edward Hopper – the Coronavirus Years

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper - the Coronavirus years

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper – the Coronavirus years.

Spotter: https://www.facebook.com/anticajaepetrella

Posted: 13th, March 2020 | In: Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Coronavirus: Wash your hand with soap and water – gels, wipes and sanitisers are over-rated

Did you wash your hands with soap and water or did you buy some mix of chemicals and smear it all over them, a gel, a wipe or a hand sanitiser, perhaps? These products are ok if you can’t reach soap and water. But if you can, use them. Here chemistry professor Palli Thordarson explains why washing with soap is best at killing the virus:

The soap takes care of the virus much like it takes care of the oil in the water. “It’s almost like a crowbar; it starts to pull all the things apart,” Thordarson says.

One side of the soap molecule (the one that’s attracted to fat and repelled by water) buries its way into the virus’s fat and protein shell. Fortunately, the chemical bonds holding the virus together aren’t very strong, so this intrusion is enough to break the virus’s coat. “You pull the virus apart, you make it soluble in water, and it disintegrates,” he says.

Then the harmless shards of virus get flushed down the drain. (And even if it the soap doesn’t destroy every virus, you’ll still rid them from your hands with soap and water, as well as any grease they may be clinging to.)

Posted: 13th, March 2020 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Coronavirus: how to prevent a world soap shortage

detroit soap-Dispenser

Having been told to wash out hands for 20 seconds – or as long it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice – not to touch our face (and certainly not to touch Donald Trump’s face: “I haven’t touched my face in weeks,” he said recently. “Been weeks… I miss it” – you can wonder if you’ve enough soap. Thankfully, Clean the World is a non-profit organization helps hotels to recycle used soap & other toiletries:

Posted: 6th, March 2020 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Demons in the bedroom – illuminated Medieval intrigue and the birth of Merlin

These images from illuminated Medieval manuscript tell the story of the birth of Merlin. Upset by so many souls being released from Satan’s bondage thanks to Christ’s harrowing of Hell, demons plotted to undo Christ’s work by breeding an antichrist, a figure who will perform as their puppet in the world. So a demon squires a virtuous sleeping woman. But the plot is ruined because she is so true of heart and a priest named Blaise baptises the boy at birth. The child is, of course, Merlin, who lives to do good deeds.

Spotter: Sleeping With the Devil – Medieval Illuminations of Demonic Sex

Posted: 2nd, March 2020 | In: Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Read the Rolling Stone essay that became Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

HUNTER s thompson

You can read for free the 23,000-word essay for Rolling Stone that Hunter S. Thompson turned into Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson’s tale begins with the death of Ruben Salazar (March 3, 1928 – August 29, 1970) at an anti-Vietnam War protest. During the rally, Salazar was struck by a tear-gas projectile fired by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy. The story of Salazar’s killing became Thompson’s story Strange Rumblings in Aztlan.

Thompson strayed off subject. Waylaid by a jaunt to Las Vegas for the Mint 400 desert race for Sports Illustrated, the story fanned out. The eventual 23,000-word piece appeared in the November 1971 issue of Rolling Stone as ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.

Spotter: OpenCulture

Posted: 1st, March 2020 | In: Books, Celebrities, The Consumer | Comment


Behold! The Etch-A-Sketch that can draw perfect circles

The Etch-A-Sketch that can draw perfect circles

Finally! To mark 60 years of the Etch-A-Sketch, the company behind the drawing toy is releasing The Etch-A-Sketch Revolution, It can draw up and down lines, as ever it could, but also perfect circles. No longer will priapic teenagers be unable draw the human form and its many bits and bobs with hard edges.

Posted: 1st, March 2020 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Smithsonian releases 2.8million images to the public domain

Thomas Eakins, American, b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1844–1916
Thomas Eakins

The Smithsonian Institution has released 2.8 million images into the public domain. The open access online platform is free to use and use it however they see fit. Expect to see the very best of them on Flashbak.

“Being a relevant source for people who are learning around the world is key to our mission,” says Effie Kapsalis, who is heading up the effort as the Smithsonian’s senior digital program officer. “We can’t imagine what people are going to do with the collections. We’re prepared to be surprised.”

Image: Cat In The Yard – Thomas Eakins, American, b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1844–1916.

Spotter: FlashbakShop

Posted: 27th, February 2020 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Sekre bags contain ruined letters of note

Sekre bags contain ruined letters of note
Dead skin and old paper formed into a bag

Finally someone had found a use for old paper in the digital world. The Times says a company called Sekrè – tagline: “Every woman needs a secret” – has made handbags from dead animals and old paper, and is charging the knowing a few grand sterling (£2,700) for the privilege of owning a recycled gem.

If you buy one of these bags and you’re secret is “I’m a dickhead” then – get this – the secret’s out. Because that’s not any ordinary paper in your reassuringly expensive posing pouch, like a snotty Handy Andy or a Papa John’s flyer. Each bag features an “authenticated letter by a famous historical figure”. The boffins at Sekrè add part of an artefact to each bag. Letters from the likes of Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, Giacomo Casanova, Charles Lindbergh, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich and Brigitte Bardot have been ripped up for bag cladding.

For added personalisation Old Mr Anorak says he’ll lob in pair of used pants from the many VIPs who’ve stayed over at Anorak Towers. After all, Sekre is an anagram of REEKS.

Posted: 24th, February 2020 | In: Fashion, News, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Spank the Peacock: The Songbook of Zeghere van Male

Chansonnier of Zeghere van Male, Bruges 1542 (Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 126B fol. 76v)

The Songbook of Zeghere van Male, also known by its call number MS 125-128 in Cambrai’s Mediathèque Municipale, consists of four complementary part-books: Superius, Altus, Tenor, & Bass. The chansonnier became part of this public collection after the French Revolution, beforehand it was in the Bibliothèque de Saint-Sépulcre, also in Cambrai.

The MS contains 229 compositions, extremely varied, some of them present only in this source. The special aspect of this manuscript is its marriage of music, art and culture: drawings adorn each folio. Executed by quill and with lively colors the drawings describe realistic scenes of daily life, leisurely activities, and include animals and monstrous creatures, obscene depictions and vegetal decorations. With mixed elements inherited from the Middle-Ages, the Antiquity and the vogue of the grotesque, they are a testimony of the prevailing taste in Flemish civil society in the first half of the 16th century”

E like Enjoy

initial 'E' animated by Obarski Chansonnier of Zeghere van Male, Bruges 1542 (Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 126B fol. 76v)

Posted by Discarding Images on Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Text via here.

Posted: 19th, February 2020 | In: Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Dresden: Kurt Vonnegut remembers the World War Two bombing

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) survived the allied bombing of Dresden during World War II. It inspired his novel Slaughterhouse Five.

The Allied onslaught on the German’s industrial and transportation hub was brutal. On 13 February 1945, British aircraft began the attack on the eastern German city of Dresden. In less than half an hour, warplanes dropped 1,800 tons of bombs. More then 25,000 people died in the firestorm. “Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn,” Vonnegut wrote. The city became “like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighbourhood was dead.”

In 1983, Vonnegut recalled his time in an underground meat locker as a prisoner of war in Dresden for the BBC – ‘And So It Goes’:

Posted: 13th, February 2020 | In: Books, Celebrities, Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


American Dirt: when critics attack

Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt is the hottest book you haven’t read. Reportedly bought for a seven figure sum, the work hailed as the “Grapes of Wrath for our times” by someone in the know tells the story of a Mexican mother and her son who escape the drugs cartels. Sounds great. But not everyone’s a fan:

The publisher of the controversial novel American Dirt has canceled the remainder of the author’s book tour as critics and many in the Latinx community criticize the book for its portrayal of immigrants.

In a statement Wednesday, Flatiron Books president and publisher Bob Miller acknowledged the controversy surrounding the novel and its author, Jeanine Cummins, and said they decided to cancel the tour because of “specific threats,” including that of physical violence, that have been made against her.

Salman Rushdie is over here

Posted: 30th, January 2020 | In: Books, News, The Consumer | Comment


Aviva treats every customer just like ‘Michael’

Aviva typing pool

Cheap words at insurer Aviva, which undid the pretence that letters are tailored to each individual customer by addressing thousands of missives to just one: ‘Michael’.

The boss doesn’t sit on a big chair dictating a new letter for each customer. Someone in marketing simply cooks one up and a machine guffs them out. Aviva tells us: “We sent out some emails to existing customers, which, as a result of a temporary technical error in our mailing template, mistakenly referred to customers as ‘Michael’.”

We tell them it’s time to bring back the typing pool.

Posted: 28th, January 2020 | In: Money, News, The Consumer | Comment


Whodunnit? Ham sandwich posted through letterbox in Wisbech

On the Wisbech Discussion Forum news: who posted a ham sandwich through a man’s door? “Right I’m not happy!,” says Mr Brazil. “Whoever has put a ham sandwich in my letterbox, I suggest you come and retrieve it now before I go to the authorities. You have 10 mins…”

Two days on, nothing…

File under: spam.

Spotter: Facebook

Posted: 25th, January 2020 | In: Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


28 animals you can eat at China’s Wuhan Market

These are the 28 animals identified by the South China Morning Post for sale at the Huanan (Wuhan) market in China. Many animals do not feature. And the thinking is why not? If you can eat camel and donkey, why not llama or flamingo? And are Hoxton’s hipsters lagging, sticking to ostrich, emu and crocodile when those food-forward Chinese are dining on Asian badger, otter and scorpion? As the West weeps over footage of the burnt Australian wildlife, are Chinese sympathies fogged by the scent of roast koala?

bat soup
Best served accompanied by a young Robin with a Penguin chaser

Some science suggests the coronavirus spreading in China started in bats served at the aforementioned Wuhan market. Analysis shows the virus’s genetic makeup is 96% identical to that of a coronavirus found in bats. “I would be very surprised if this were a snake virus,” says Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina. Bats were also the ultimate source of SARS, scientists believe.

bat soup
Apple News

“evil! Chinese eat bat – movie exposure, ” says a headline to an Apple News story shared by the Daily Mail. The video features a woman eating bat soup. Why eating bat should be evil and, say, eating newborn lamb the stuff of daytime telly cooking shows and Easter treats is moot, moreover eating kangaroo testicles for slots of entertainment dished up between ads for insurance, holidays and mobile phones?

But war with the bats has begun. And you need to pick sides. (I’ll have a side of chicken wings and foie gras.)

Posted: 24th, January 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Italian street artist Blu creates animated graffiti mural

Blu graffiti

Italian street artist Blu has been enlivening Bologna since 1999. In Big Bang Big Boom, Blu gives us a “short animated story about evolution and consequences”.