October 21, 2014
"Not only was he one of the great postwar photographers, he was also one of the most generous people I have had the privilege to meet."

Martin Parr on René Burri. Famous for his iconic portrait of Che Guevarra, Burri passed away aged 81. 

October 18, 2014
Weekend Reading, October 18

Some interesting articles and a fascinating video about a lost Japanese sword guard. 

A public apology is now the defence strategy of the rich and powerful

How computer chips work

In search of Katsuhira’s Tiger. (Part 2 here).

A tale of sex, greed and Filipinos on Coney Island

The murderous, sometimes sexy history of the mermaid

October 13, 2014
Printing Digital Pics in a Darkroom

What if there was a way to print your digital photos that you took with your phone just like the old-fashioned way? You know, in a darkroom and using photographic paper with chemicals and all. Well, apparently, these Croatian guys have just the kit!

But the best part is that the same kit can also be used for real analogue negs. I don’t know, but I think this is just about the coolest thing I saw all weekend. 

Enfojer from Fojo on Vimeo.

October 11, 2014
Travelling with a Nobel Prize

Prof. Brian Schmidt, who was a joint recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, explains what it’s like to travel with medal.

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”

October 8, 2014
Animated Recap of Game of Thrones

Beautifully well-made and, in fact, recaps the last four seasons so far.

Game Of Thrones, an animated journey - #gotseason5 is coming from BlackMeal on Vimeo.

October 4, 2014
A Disappointing Tokyo Photo 2014

I hadn’t realised it until this afternoon, but it is that time again for the annual Tokyo Photo show - a massive jamboree where galleries, publishers and photographers as well as art aficionados gather to see and be seen in Japan’s capital.  It is a chance to see first hand original prints of many famous photographs by some of the biggest names in photography right in one event. And, bank account balance permitting, you could even pick up one or two of these prints for anything from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Or you might like to go home with a rare book; I saw an original copy of “Provoke” (no. 2) for just 180,000 yen.  

After being very impressed by the last two previous events, in 2012 and last year, I was expecting something quite big this time around. 

To my disappointment, however, this year’s edition is a bit of a fizzer! By my reckoning, the quantity on show is not even near half of last year’s. I walked through the whole exhibition in less than 10 minutes. Not simply because of the small amount of works being exhibited, but that they were also quite familiar. 

At any rate, for a  mere 1,300 yen, this year’s Tokyo Photo is still worth seeing. But only if you have nothing else better to do this weekend. 

October 1, 2014
I know, I know, this is an Instagram shot. But I like the image and it sort of reminds me of the last week when I was in sunny California. Pasadena to be exact where this shot was taken. 
I just happened to be in my aunt’s living room when I suddenly noticed the possibility of this framing - her red curtains illuminated by the California sun with the palm trees in the background and the clear blue skies further back. I thought the image just sort of exactly captured the mood and the place where I found myself. 
For the film fanatics, you’ll be glad to know that I did actually take a few frames with the Provia 400x. 

I know, I know, this is an Instagram shot. But I like the image and it sort of reminds me of the last week when I was in sunny California. Pasadena to be exact where this shot was taken. 

I just happened to be in my aunt’s living room when I suddenly noticed the possibility of this framing - her red curtains illuminated by the California sun with the palm trees in the background and the clear blue skies further back. I thought the image just sort of exactly captured the mood and the place where I found myself. 

For the film fanatics, you’ll be glad to know that I did actually take a few frames with the Provia 400x. 

September 30, 2014
Tips For Flying

I’ve done a fair bit of flying in my time over the years. And I think that I’ve learnt a few things about making that process a much more pleasant process for myself and others. Thus, I’d like to share a few tips about how to go about that. You don’t have to agree with all or, indeed, with any of these; but they have worked well enough for me. 

*****

Always be nice to airline and airport staff, including, especially, security personnel. Don’t act like you’re bloody entitled. Be courteous. Say “please” and “thank you”. If you treat service personnel nicely, you will increase your chance of getting good service. Once, on a flight to the UK, a flight attendant actually slipped a very nice bottle of red in my carry-on. No joke!

As importantly, be considerate also to your fellow passengers. Some may be complete assholes, but you don’t have to be like them. You will never know, that fellow passenger you connect with could turn out to be an important business contact or even perhaps a lover. Although, admittedly, I have not been lucky in the latter department.

Keep your passport, a pen and your boarding passes handy on your person. This way you don’t have to get up now and then looking for your shit. And besides, if the plane goes down, investigators can quickly identify your body.

If you need to exchange currencies, spend some time walking around the airport (if you’ve left it this late) looking for a better rate. There is always a better rate.

The next tip is often repeated, but I will include it anyway. Buy a neck pillow! You cannot believe how much this little thing actually increases your comfort levels, especially if you’re in coach. Yet the vast majority of passengers either forget about it or still have not realised the benefits of a neck pillow.

Exit row is that part of the cabin where there is some extra leg room. Naturally, airlines will charge for this. Unless you really, really need the extra leg room, don’t bother. The problem is, I’ve noticed, exit row is also where airlines seat passengers who are travelling with babies! And, you know, babies cry and yap all night. By all means, go ahead and pay for that extra leg room in exit row; but you’re taking a risk as you could end up seated very near to a monster!

This next tip may pose a challenge to some people’s ethical sensibilities. You might not think it, but getting on board the plane early has one big upside. That is, you’ll be among the first to grab overhead cabin space that now often quickly run out. To board quickly, I suggest not always following what you’re told. For example, AA boards their passengers in groups; if you’re in “group 4”, simply insert yourself onto the end of “group 2” or just jump in with “group 3”. With so many passengers, either the check in staff will lose concentration and not pay attention or just won’t care. I’ve done this trick every time and it works all the time!

Get your shit together while onboard the plane. Pay attention. When serving food/drinks, the attendants are working to schedule and the rest of us passengers want to eat. When the attendants ask if you’d like teriyaki chicken or beef stroganoff, don’t sit there for ages ruminating over your bloody response as if you’re in friggin’ Les Deux Magot. I’ve seen passengers do exactly this and even ask detailed questions about the bloody ingredients. It’s airline food for crying out loud.

Next, again a common tip but still worth repeating: get up every couple of hours and exercise. I am totally shameless in this regard. I’ll do stretches, sit ups and even a bit of static jogging. Your body will feel better for it.

Lastly: join a frequent flyer programme. There are people who fly 2 or three times a year and just don’t even bother. You’re missing out!

September 26, 2014
A leisurely afternoon, Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, CA.
I’m currently in LA for a brief vacation. This is just a wee photograph from my travels around the city. If not for the excess amount of time spent in cars and stuck in traffic, I’d moved here tomorrow! 

A leisurely afternoon, Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, CA.

I’m currently in LA for a brief vacation. This is just a wee photograph from my travels around the city. If not for the excess amount of time spent in cars and stuck in traffic, I’d moved here tomorrow! 

September 20, 2014
The Inventor of Karaoke and More

Some weekend reading for you while I get on a flight to LA. I will be back in a week.

The NSA Breach of Telekom and Other German Firms

America’s Plan To Nuke The Moon. Seriously. 

What Went Wrong at the Strangest Tennis Match You Never Knew Occurred?

The Case For Open Borders

The Inventor of the Karaoke Speaks

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