Good day to you, my fine reader.

Time to take a break from the chaos and stupidity sweeping the globe. (But then again, when hasn’t there been stupidity and chaos sweeping the globe?)

As William Shatner said, “Live life like you’re gonna die – coz your gonna.” I try to remind myself every day that there’s still room in the darkness for truth and beauty.

They’ve been replaying “The World At War” on the History Channel here in Japan to coincide with the anniversary of the end of World War 2. That was 66 years ago. I am continually impressed by the scope of that documentary series, as well as its timeliness. It was released in 1974, so it includes a lot of eyewitness accounts and interviews with some of the protagonists. For historians, you always try to find primary sources, and this series is chock full of them. As the generation that experienced that war is passing away, it makes it all the more poignant. A lot of the remaining survivors of Hiroshima were infants at the time. Watching the episode on how Russia endured invasion by the Nazis and eventually turned them back, losing 20 million people in the process (basically the entire population of Australia killed in two years), I was amazed at how the Russians kept their spirit and determination alive through all that suffering.

There also lighter amusements keeping my interest in good things alive and well.

“You Are Not A Photographer” highlights the worst of so-called ‘professional’ photography done by spare-room hacks with a digital camera and free software. It’s hard to believe people get paid for churning out this stuff. I really like the use of their terms, “fauxtographer” and “fauxtography”. May it inspire us all to better and brighter things.

Some 153 photos of teeny tiny things. Gizmodo often has neat photo compilations.

Sand magnified to 250 times normal size looks cool. So do air bubbles frozen in ice.

There’s tilt shift photography, and then there’s tilt shift photography. I might have to go into making giant mockups of small things for fun and profit.

The cast of The Big Lebowski got together at Lebowskifest. How I wish…

Australia will soon have a boneyard of its very own. Time to rent a helicopter and a super 70mm camera and make my own version of Baraka…

Some very cool time lapse video.

The history of villains in American films makes for some interesting reading.

Japan hasn’t run out of cute girls, but the handlers of AKB48 decided to use computers to piece together bits of their stable to make a new one.

Faking it is huge in fashion photography, but I never realized how much models contorted and abused their bodies until I read this article.

Astronomers have found another moon around Pluto. That’s four, if you’re counting. 

A whole bunch of man-made passages have been found in Bavaria.

Somehow I keep alternating between Middle School and College.

Home made cola. I wouldn’t mind trying this out sometime. Just dump half the sugar and the colouring and I’ll be there.

Imagine batteries that last forever. Not oo far away, hopefully.

The key to longer life might lie inside cancer. What? Yes, cancer. There’s a mutation in the genes of pancreatic cancer that can lengthen the telomeres on the ends of DNA, thought to control when cells die.  

So, we can’t currently actually travel to another universe. However we could perhaps detect evidence of the multiverse in the Cosmic Background Radiation.

Closer to home, the recent discovery of fossilized life from 3.4 billion years ago that lived by metabolizing sulphur gives hope to finding evidence of life on Mars.

On a personal note, I would really appreciate a new spine.

 

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I watched John Pilger’s most recent documentary, “The War You Don’t See” today.

As always, John Pilger takes the viewer through a topic of important relevance to the life and freedom of all of us who live in Western Democracies. In this case it is the role of information, journalism and war in shaping our values and attitudes. The active collusion between the military and the news corporations is explored by Pilger. However a large proportion of the film also focusses on the victims of such policies: the citizens of the countries who are attacked, as well as the journalists who have been killed, sometimes by the same military they’ve been sent to cover. It is certainly harrowing viewing at times. The footage and dexcriptions of horrors by those who were there remain a lingering memory.

It is certainly the war you don’t see, and Pilger prefaces such footage and episodes by repeating the title screen in order to drive home his point.

I would say this documentary should be necessary viewing by all citizens who want to make truly balanced and well-informed decisions about what they decide to believe, as well as by journalists who should know better than to simply tow the line when it comes to reporting what governments tell them to.

Buy the DVD or watch for free any way you can.

 

Pilger was supposed to be presenting his film in the United States at an event sponsored by the Lannan Foundation, a very prominent liberal organisation, on June 15th. However, his appearance and the screening of the film was cancelled unexpectedly at the order of Patrick Lannan. Lannan has not offered any reason for the cancellation.

…else!

There is certainly a lot of interesting, beautiful, wonderful and ridiculous things out there to entertain us as we slowly edge our way towards destruction or oblivion.

For a start there’s listening to Something For Kate’s “Max Planck”.

I was reminded of this thanks to a friend who posted a line from Kirkegaard on her Facebook page which went something like this:

“Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder then that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads. This can be traced back to the very beginning of the world. The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings.”

And we humans have done a very good job of entertaining the gods – quite often in ways we don’t understand at the time, right Mr. Woods?

I might spend some time in the Baltic states before too long. One reason is to reconnect with my ancient heritage, my great-grandfather being Latvian. Another reason could well be because the women are hot and not only easy on the eyes. Viva countries with more women then men!

Other ideas for places to go next year include Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Syria! (not (just) for the women though…)

There’s always my ‘great disasters grand tour’ idea that occupies and not-so-small place in the back of my mind. Just getting my mind around something like Chernobyl is a challenge sometimes, especially when confronted by images like this to go along with it.

There’s also architecture. The BBC World channel ran an advertising piece disguised as a moments-in-great-design segment about a hotel in London, which I swear was the most god-awful monstrosity from the cheese-grater facade outside to the purple velvet bar to the menu which the ‘expert’ gushed was ‘like a Rubik’s Cube’. Sorry, when I’m hungry I want to eat, not have to potentially sit for hours to figure out what I can consume. I wish I could remember the name of the place…

There were these staircases though. This website is also a great distraction for hours and hours and hours…

Then there’s what to do with bare walls. I think this idea is excellent – green them! The insulative properties must be wonderful. They probably soak up a little carbon – if you’re into that sort of thing. And they just look good! Japan could certainly use some help… Green roofs also meet with my approval. Mowing them could be fun too, but growing more than just grass is a great idea.

Maybe this is how the China Olympics should have looked, instead of having all the ethnic groups represented by Han Chinese dressed up different costumes! Beautiful. Magical.

With so much content online being clamped down upon by ‘the powers that be’ (annoying swine) it’s good to know that something good is available for free, like these political documentaries. It’s FREE! Learn something – think a little…

How garlic could make and break the Chinese economy.

Movies sometimes don’t quite mean what they say they mean. Take these ‘chick flicks’ for example.

I know Sarah Palin is (thankfully) old news, but she is a constant source of entertainment. Unfortunately she won’t be going away.

Best office fridge ever!

One man in Japan has taken the next step by marrying a character from a game. I kinda surprised this hasn’t happened sooner actually. One of these days Japan will wake up but in the meantime it will continue to supply over 80% of the world’s supply of WEEEIIIIRRRRRD!

Why I will let my kids (if I have any) play in the dirt.

Earth really is a beautiful place. See? SEE??

If anyone is feeling generous for Christmas, I would love – LOVE – one of these. OK, at least one!