Wednesday, June 30, 2004
GOP convention New York
for what do they really convene, the good and the great of the incumbent party of US family values and godliness?
why, for the sex, of course!
(and just what does GOP stand for, anyway?)
and, whilst we're on the subject (of sex and politics) check out this 'woman to woman' video (DSL/cable here or 56k here) - easily one of the scariest things I've ever seen.
(needs the disgusting real player)
Posted by paul at 23:50
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
heard the one about the monkey and the irish reporter?
"REPORTER: Mr. President, the world is a more dangerous place today. I don't know whether you can see --
BUSH: Why do you say that?
REPORTER: -- that or not. There are terrorist bombings every single day. It's now a daily event. It wasn't like that two years ago.
BUSH: What was it like September the eleventh, 2001? It was a, it was a relative calm.
REPORTER: But if your response to Iraq does --
BUSH: Let me finish, please. Please. You ask the questions, and I'll answer them, if you don't mind."
we know they can no longer do it where you come from, mr president, but asking questions is what reporters are supposed to do. they weren't even tough questions - if you thought ms coleman of RTE was 'disrespectful', you should meet messrs paxman ("The justification for our existence as journalists is that we are not afraid to say boo to these people.") or humphries of the BBC - now there's a wonderful thought.
(more at unknown news.)
Posted by paul at 21:20
Monday, June 28, 2004
Friday, June 25, 2004
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
there's a beer commercial around at the moment - can't remember which (it must be one of those über-subtle sub-limbic crypto-hypnogogic delayed branding things that only the especially gifted can hope to understand ) - that opens with the kitsch idyll - helicopter shot over rolling ripe grain fields, fecund undulation of green - then closes on a breezy ear of barley, then moves indoors to the jolly flat-capped worker tipping a bucket of golden grain into the open trap at the top of a huge wooden vat, and so on, and finally ends with the money-shot - the spuming amber liquid itself - all to a hilarious voiceover droning on about 100% natural ingredients or something - the sort of thing that just grates on the edge of your consciousness like a mosquito's whine.
on the same night, the news footage of the current round of 'celebrations' attendant on a certain event in Portugal (god how I hate all this), and it suddenly strikes me, with the deadly and hopeless certainty of realising that, for many, the earth really is flat, and that the sun really does go round the earth, that 99% of those men who consider a good time to consist of getting totally bladdered during and after the match and then going and destroying as much as possible and giving anyone who gets in the way a thorough kicking will peer at those images in complete incomprehension. fields? wheat? beer? wuh? what's the connection?
Posted by paul at 23:12
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
a totally wasted day. it happens sometimes. actually, when I look back, I suppose I have to concede that the ratio of effort to result has always been horrendously high for me. I seem to have to laboriously pile up these mountains of material that behave like tottering towers of fine shifting sand in order to - suddenly, usually - discover what it was that I was looking for. but today was just an infuriating struggle, with no result at all.
but I can't help thinking of those poor bastards up the road at Pilton - no sooner have they started arriving and pitching camp (the music's just over the weekend, but lots of people stay a week or so) than the temperature plummets and the heavens open! so unfair. so Glastonbury. for some of those kids it's the highlight of the year - and round about now (midnight) they're shivering in their tents with no way of drying their sodden clothes wondering when the famous magic will kick in. Jane did a few shifts manning the emergency medical centre three years ago (the last time time it was a total mudbath) and found herself treating trench-foot for the first time in her career - en masse.
Posted by paul at 23:59
Monday, June 21, 2004
I've never taken a picture of a motor-bike before - no, really! not my thing at all. my favoured mode of transport is feet or Learjet. but I saw this one earlier today and I found myself doing what I've seen other people doing when they come across a Harley parked in the street, or something like this one below (ugly-looking duck - ati - he he) - I just stood there looking at it, quite entranced thinking, hmmm. I even found myself taking a picture of its bloody engine!
I'm sure it's just one of those passing things. I'll get over it. won't I?
Posted by paul at 18:02
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Madonna loses/Madonna wins - a tale of two headlines.
"Ramblers will be free to roam across 54 hectares of Madonna's £9 million ($A24 million) English country estate after the singer failed to establish that recreational walkers would violate her human rights.
While a public inquiry on Friday ruled that the public had no right of access to 15 out of 17 pockets of land on Madonna's Ashcombe estate in the west of England, two tracts declared "open country" amount to nearly half the area being disputed by the UK Countryside Agency and Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie."
I've encountered few clearer demonstrations of the shameless political allegiances of the disgusting owned press than this - a relatively silly story about a couple of poor rich folk trying to use their hard-earned dosh to do what poor rich folk do - buy justice - specifically, to keep the nasty common folk off the empty tracts of land they own and do nothing with but want to keep empty. whether or not they won or lost depends on which paper you subscribe to. a quick glance at this google search reveals that the headline 'Madonna wins' beats 'Madonna loses' by a ratio of about 8:1. no prizes for guessing the reason for this curious bias.
Posted by paul at 17:06
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Friday, June 11, 2004
what seems usually to happen to empires, in a nutshell, is that they overestimate their capacity to administer effectively right out to the edges and finally implode at the centre under the stress (cite: Roman, Spanish, French, Russian, British). the more successful (ie longer-lived) empires tend to have combined a rigidly inflexible, divinely authorised centre with only a moderately expansionist policy (cite: Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese).
it's difficult to guess which model the leader of the free world is working with, but, as a figurehead, the monkey's clearly modelling himself on Caligula rather than Hadrian - someone whom the contemporary international (and, incidentally, domestic) community learnt to treat with the utmost caution.
unfortunately for us, the current 'international community' is also controlled by a busload of paranoid twitchers whose morals make the average smack dealer smell sweeter than Mother Teresa.
I'm fairly sure that the vast majority of the citizens of China, Russia, France, Iran, Paraguay, Iceland, wherever, shares the same dream of co-operation and the fruitful exchange of ideas and experience that has driven the engines of international creativity in the arts and sciences for many many years. the number of Reykjavik townsfolk who are lusting to rape and pillage the townsfolk of Portland, Oregon, let's say (substitute any other two random towns on the planet), is really very small indeed. and yet our great leaders insist that this is not the case, and that, since certain evil foreign people are determined to try to kill them, personally, we - the people - are obliged to defend them from them.
either they're wrong or I'm wrong.
it might be me.
well - it might be.
Posted by paul at 18:00
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
I can feel another little moral crisis coming on.
I bumped into a friend - another photographer - who said she was glad she'd met me because she'd photographed me earlier in the street whilst I was photographing something else and I'd moved away too fast for her to ask if that was OK. after reading my incomprehension, she said she always approaches people she's photographed to ask if it's alright with them - whereupon I rapidly deflected her tacit "don't you do that?" into some joke about catching up with people on trains and buses and in crowds. but, really, if it's wrong to photograph people unawares and unconsenting, then the vast majority of documentary photographers and photojournalists couldn't do what they do.
I do half-remember reading an article somewhere not so long ago about a rather famous French photographer being sued for a huge amount of money by someone in one of his (rather famous) street photographs who was maintaining that she, as subject of the photograph, was entitled to a share of the money he'd made from it.
she had a point, I thought.
for sure, most people, in my experience, enjoy a photographer's attentions. but some don't (I don't, actually). oh, these endless moral mazes!
Posted by paul at 22:52
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
is there any less effective way of communicating with, or more effective way of alienating neglected friends than the fucking round robin? such a stupidly innocuous description - cheepy chirpy little fellow - of an utterly worthless form - first cousin once removed to spam itself.
the annual christmas letter was bad enough - that tragic listing of happy family triumphs ("and we finally succeeded in persuading malcolm's teachers to let him chew the legs off his desk whenever he started to feel a bit ADS") composed over god knows how many miserable weeks of trying to think of the positive - anything - the cat didn't shit on the landing in October - in order to convince everyone on the christmas card list that life is so much better on this side of the fence. straight in the bin, every time. but the e-mail variant is so much worse, because not only does it try speak to everyone - therefore no-one - about everything - therefore nothing - but it wants at the same time to impress the recipient with the size of the spammer's address book - look how many other people I'm sending this shit to - as if to say - look, these are all the wonderful people I should be writing to who I haven't because I couldn't be arsed, just the same as with you, so I hope you'll understand that it'd take so long to catch up with everyone and anyway it's the thought that counts, isn't it? well, no, actually - and no again. it's lazy, it's careless, it's boring, it's sad and it's very very annoying. if you want to talk to me, talk to me - to me, not number forty-seven in your address book. if you don't, don't. simple. delete.
Posted by paul at 23:07
we're all amateur astronomers at times like this, and, whereas this transit of Venus lacked the communal frisson of the total eclipse of 1999 that required that whole populations migrate to the optimal viewing sites (in our case the Cornish coast) for the sake of experiencing that three-minute event, it was worth digging out those old safe solar viewing filters and dragging the boys out into the garden before school.
what you can never be prepared for is the awe - the totally humbling sense of scale. we're so used to having such images mediated through a page or a screen that we forget just what's involved here. Venus is often the most spectacular 'star' in the sky, but to see it for what it really is - the next planet in towards the sun - as, by rare chance, it passes directly between us and the sun, is to catch an inkling of the truly inconceivable immensity of it all. Venus is the planet closest in size to the Earth, so that's how we'd look to an observer that far away - a dot the size of a 10-point full-stop against a 10p-sized Sun in a sky larger than the largest thing we've ever seen - an empty ocean, perhaps - in fact with no imaginable boundary at all. all our history, our lives, our preoccupations, all this - stuff - sailing through space.
Posted by paul at 11:38
in this morning's post
it may seem a tad ungracious - we do, after all, qualify, as local residents, for these discounted day tickets, which are just there for the asking - compared with all those thousands of poor souls who failed to get one after hours and hours (I think the record was fourteen hours solid) of trying to get through to that disastrous new phone and online booking system - but I'm actually looking forward more to a new indie festival called the sticklebrick festival that's happening in Bristol this weekend - I mean, just look at this lineup! I couldn't believe my eyes when I found out about it (purely by accident). if you happen to be Bristol-based and are dithering - GO! (I've a relevant review up here if that helps.)
Posted by paul at 00:23
Monday, June 07, 2004
Saturday, June 05, 2004
because people are nice
along with ten thousand or so other blogger users, I was offered a gmail account a few weeks ago. I didn't think much about it, except that to have a free web-based e-mail account with a 1Gb capacity instead of the measly Hotmail 3 Mb limit sounded like a good idea. but I decided to go for it anyway, even though I can only use it on the pc, as it doesn't work on macs running pre-OSX. then, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that for every one of us who now has a gmail account there are many more who desperately want one, for various reasons, and that there's a website been set up where people are posting what they'll trade for an invite (each one of us was given the chance to invite two others to apply for an account). it seemed utterly absurd to me that some people should be prepared to pay up to £50 for an invite - I find that vaguely obscene - but some of the offers of trade were quite fun - in the typically american high school sense - like a personalised mix-cd, or a guided tour of downtown Seattle or whatever. having skimmed through a couple of dozen, my eye settled on two in particular: firstly, a young pastor working with disadvantaged kids in new york, and secondly, a young geek from Louisiana with lots of space on his server: the former wasn't offering anything in exchange, but sounded deserving, the latter was offering virtually unlimited storage and bandwidth. I contacted both, and we struck the deals, and the invitations were sent. that was ten days ago. the pastor hasn't been in touch since, so I don't even know if the invitation got to him. the geek has stopped replying to my e-mails saying I hadn't a clue what he was talking about (lots of unintelligible acronyms - OC3, ATM, SSH) and why can't I just ftp to his server like I do to the others I use using such a username with such a password without getting error messages all the time. I still (honestly - I know I'm naive but I did check them both out - the pastor's current e-mail address is with a theological college and the geek's is on his website - which shows him to be a geek but an honest enough geek) don't believe either of them intended to cheat me, but I just don't understand why they're both being so damn rude. plus I was looking forward to putting much more music on the site - which otherwise requires my purchasing much more webspace. POOH! I say and POOH! again.
Posted by paul at 18:42
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
so I missed my Flash course because of The Bug - so?
so I missed my Flash course. there'll be others. I was looking forward, but hey.
and maybe the Rhino's better for being unFlashed - personally I find so many of those slick photographers sites far more interesting for the design than for the photographs, and that cain't be right, now, cain't it.
besides, I've been starting lately to feel just slightly guilty at how 56k-ist I've become since acquiring Broadband; I've quite forgotten that infuriating frustration at these image-rich sites (like this one) that take absolutely no account whatsoever of slower connections - that demand minutes-long downloading of image-heavy pages that, at the end of it all, really aren't worth the wait. since most of the Rhino was constructed before we got Broad, I was sort of allowing for that, so I think it's just about OK still. if I were making it now, I'd make most of the images link to a higher-res version - some of them just look so awful to me now - but I really can't be bothered going back through them all: I'd end up wanting to change everything, which I probably will, one day, but not yet - nondum.
Posted by paul at 23:51
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
one of the good things about being ill is it thoroughly defocusses the mind. when you have a hacking cough, your nose is streaming, a sore throat, a headache, and barely have the energy to drag yourself from recumbent to vertical then back to recumbent after hopefully having aimed the stream accurately, the little things that tend to preoccupy you in 'health' such as wondering whether world peace is achievable, whether you'll ever work again, or where you left that really nice 2B pencil get shunted off into some misty siding of the mind where they just have to bloody well wait until this clanky old slow train of hacking and head-clutching and dreaming - oh the dreams! - finally trails itself out into the shimmery evaporations of recovery.
Posted by paul at 15:44