Daily nuggets of inspiration from the good folk
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Online porn, a cornerstone of the internet, generates a large amount of money. Two men named Marco and Riccardo want to put some of that money to better use.
Their venture, Come4.org, aims to be a free to use, non-profit porn website with a heart. Users can upload sexually explicit material – both still images and homemade movies – then choose which charity they want their video to support. Users that just want to help out (what a brilliant excuse!) can watch porn for free and even chat with other members.
Although funding will come from advertising and voluntary donations, Come4.org promises to have no spam and wants to create a user-friendly website that’s a pleasure to use. For them, it’s not just about making money for good causes but also changing the world of porn – taking it from a seedy and often unpleasant, fake and violent industry to a much more reputable place.
I have two small obsessions. Cooking and charity shops. So, imagine my joy at finding a whole box of vintage cook books in my local Oxfam at the weekend for the princely sum of five whole English pounds.
I was initially drawn to a massive eighties tome, that promised a whole range of recipes for the home cook. What struck me immediately was how much the book was a product of its time. Whole chapters on how to turn everyday meals into food for entertaining, when entertaining meant a full on formal dinner party with at least three courses and lots of sweating in the kitchen.
This got me thinking more generally about the role food plays in society and how food trends so closely mirror the other social, cultural and economic trends of the day.
Going right back to the medieval period, food provides a window into the soul of a nation. Back then, food for the upper classes was used as a way to display wealth, with lavish banquets lasting for days being the norm. But it wasn’t all wild boars and whole cows on the table. The medieval chef had a penchant for ‘imitation food’ and this was very much a product of the age.
Imitation food was literally food pretending to be something else. Salmon molded to look like ham, minced beef shaped and painted to look like apples and grapes and egg shells filled with jellies. We can’t be totally sure why this started but it’s likely to be a number of things; the unavailability of certain foods during the year, a relief from the fasting imposed by the church (fake meat better than no meat?) and, importantly, it was a chance for chefs to flex their creative muscles and show their mastery of their craft. There was huge competition for good chefs – in an age when display and wealth was everything, having the best could mean the difference between being granted a castle or a hovel.
Skip a few centuries or two to the 1940s, and we have a time dominated by scarcity and rationing. But rather than throwing in the towel it made the everyday home cook, who had to feed a family, incredibly resourceful, especially when it came to sweet things.
With pastry made from mashed potato and reconstituted egg and vanilla extract used to replace sugar they could whip up cakes and pies that would fool a family into thinking they were eating the real thing.
It’s no different today. Food culture is dominated by the global recession. Conviviality culture is on the rise – with more of us choosing to have friends round to share food, rather than pay to go out. When we do go out, we crave comfort and familiarity but with a (cliché alert) modern twist. There’s a whole raft of gourmet burger, grilled cheese sandwich and mac ‘n’ cheese shops opening both in the US and here. Food blogs are filled with home baking recipes for bread and cakes and the grow-your-own movement has never been stronger.
It makes me wonder where we’re headed next. When (not if, fingers crossed) the economy gets back on its feet, will we see a return to the ostentation of the middle-ages or the formality of the 1980s? I don’t know, but I’m really looking forward to finding out.
Orange RockCorps organised an interactive concert with a twist for The Ting Tings in Paris. The more the public shared the event through social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram) the more spectacular the concert became. (Cheers Charlotte, Singapore).
Rockcorps philosophy is simple – ‘You give, you get’ – here translated to ‘More shares equals more show!’ Since 2009, more than 20,000 volunteers have participated in the Orange RockCorps program, providing a total of 80,000 volunteer hours to help nearly 150 associations in France.
For the first time in history, New York’s iconic water tanks will be used as canvases for public art. Twelve feet high, thirteen feet in diameter and mostly made of redwood, the water tanks can be seen from almost every corner of the city.
Artists participating in the project will donate original works of art, which will be printed on vinyl material and installed on the tanks. Organisers hope the tanks will spark a global dialogue about the future of one of our most precious and endangered resources: water.
Two Budgens stores in London are selling blocks of hope for £1 to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society (Cheers Dominic, Asda).
Each block is made from recycled wood and branded with the word ‘HOPE’. They’re displayed above shelf barkers that urge people to ‘Buy HOPE for people affected by dementia.’ Once the blocks have been brought to the till and paid for, they’re returned to the shelf for new customers to buy. Over a hundred people bought hope on the first day of the pilot scheme.