Some Flowers & Some Dudes

I’ve just re-organised the Photos section and added two new galleries:

Flowers

Portraits

I felt like updating the section because I’m now shooting on a Canon EOS 10D and it’s the most photographic fun I’ve had in ages. Weirdly, the last comparable change was when I bought the Sony Cybershot U20.

Even though these cameras are at ostensibly opposite ends of the “quality” spectrum, they’re both great tools. There’s no way I’d take such an expensive camera as the Canon on a political demo, the Sony is small and (relatively!) inexpensive. Plus, it takes crisp shots, as you can see in the political photos section.

But for sneaking up on a bumblebee and counting the hairs on its legs, nothing compares to the Canon. I’m amazed at the images I’m getting from it. It’s 21 years now since I took my first photography course. For the last 15 or so years I’ve been using point+shoot automatic cameras. Gradually, all the theory is coming back to me and I’m getting to grips with depth of field, chromatic aberration and the joy/pain of fully manual shooting (the Canon has an auto mode, of course, but I rarely use it).

At first I was a little flummoxed because, since the 10D is a true SLR, you don’t have an LCD preview – it’s totally viewfinder-based. But now I much prefer the viewfinder. You don’t have to battle ambient light and it’s the only way to go if you’re using manual focus a lot. On the other hand, the little Sony doesn’t even have a viewfinder (it’s LCD only) but since it’s so light, tiny and portable, who gives a crap, eh?

Here’s a photo of the Canon I took with the Sony:

and here’s a photo of the Sony I took with the Canon:

Horses for courses…

New Terror Alert

Breaking news from the Bzangy Homeland Security service…

RED ALERT!
Please be aware that we are now at RED ALERT status due to the possibility of terrorist attacks by the notorious group known as the ‘USA.’ The USA is the group involved in the recent terrorist invasion and occupation of Iraq, launching thousands of missiles and other WOMD at defenceless civilians. It is estimated that this murderous attack killed in excess of 5000 Iraqi civilians but we may never know the true death toll. This terror group has also been involved in the kidnapping and imprisonment of children at its internment centre known as ‘Camp X-Ray.’

The USA group justified this terrorist attack by citing their ‘jihad against terror.’ Obviously, since they are saying they wish to stop the bombing of innocent civilians by bombing innocent civilians, one can see the level of insanity and total contempt for human life their leadership possesses.

The USA group has also been involved in the training and funding of these terrorist leaders: Pinochet, Marcos, Batista, Franco, Noriega, Suharto, Botha, Duvalier, Martinez and many others. It was the USA group which installed the terrorist Saddam Hussein and supplied him with the materials and funding he used to gas the Kurds.

Below is proof of the long-standing friendship between these two terror groups:

Above you can see the hardline USA terrorist Rumsfeld shaking hands with partner-in-crime Hussein.

The USA group purports to represent the American people but this is a slur on the many peaceful, non-terrorist Americans who disavow the actions of this clique.

There is speculation that the USA group is embarking on this new spate of international murder in order to extend its realm of influence and also gain access to valuable oil reserves. The group has already started targeting countries such as Iran and Syria in its propaganda campaign, aided by its heavily censored media (NBC, ABC, BBC, Sky). This censorship extended to the deliberate targeting of non-compliant media, as in the shelling of Al Jazeera in Iraq and the Palestine Hotel (two journalists killed, more injured).

Here is the leader of the USA group:

Please keep checking this site for future security bulletins.

Addendum

Bzangy Homeland Security received this email shortly after issuing the above alert:

“Dear sir,

I was fascinated by your latest editorial warning of the activities of the rogue state USA. Although I whole-heartedly concur with the points you raise, I feel moved to correct a slight factual error. The individuals kidnapped by the USA have been moved to another Cuban location, Camp Delta. Presumably the conditions in aptly-named Camp X-Ray were too visible to outside observers.

Keep up the good work.

yrs sincerely,
Disgusted, Norwich.”

Free Palestine National Rally

This Saturday is the Free Palestine National Rally in London. From 1.30pm in Trafalgar Square, people will gather to show solidarity with the ordinary people of Palestine who continue to suffer daily attacks by Israeli forces, all condoned/supported by the US government.

As Electronic Intifada reports, just this week alone, “8-14 May 2003, 15 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including a woman and two children, were killed by Israeli occupying forces.”

The Israelis will no doubt claim that all these people were either terrorists or sheltering terrorists. Just as they tried to claim that the pacifist ISM protester Rachel Corrie, who they bulldozed to death, was in fact a dangerous supporter of terrorism.

Here is a picture of what a fanatical supporter of terrorism looks like:

To me, that looks like a clearly marked protester trying to stop the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes by a force that’s been illegally occupying foreign territory since 1967. She also looks pretty peaceful – no guns or rocks. The most dangerous thing she’s holding is a megaphone.

Now, here’s a photo of Rachel Corrie after the brave, patriotic, freedom-loving men of the Israeli Defences Forces had finished with her:

It’s a stirring sight, isn’t it? Look how well they’ve protected the freedom of Israel and defeated terrorism by running a bulldozer, twice, over this woman’s body. She surely can’t threaten them now, with her dangerous reflective clothing and megaphone.

Again, from Electronic Intifada:

“The Israeli Army are attempting to dishonour her memory by claiming that Rachel was killed accidentally when she ran in front of the bulldozer. Eye-witnesses to the murder insist that this is totally untrue. Rachel was sitting in the path of the bulldozer as it advanced towards her. When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble. After she had disappeared from view the driver kept advancing until the bulldozer was completely on top of her. The driver did not lift the bulldozer blade and so she was crushed beneath it. Then the driver backed off and the seven other ISM activists taking part in the action rushed to dig out her body. An ambulance rushed her to A-Najar hospital where she died.”

Can you imagine the uproar if, pre-invasion, Saddam Hussein’s regime had bulldozed a young American girl to death? Can you hear the impassioned invective this would have drawn out of Bush, Powell and the other war criminals now occupying the US administration?

But, as Chomsky teaches, only the crimes of official enemies count. The crimes of official friends, like Israel, must be minimised, or portrayed as regrettable accidents, one-offs. It’s not surprising that the Western media can ignore the deaths of Palestinians, that’s to be expected in these increasingly racist times. But the lack of outrage about Rachel’s death proves that the Western media is complicit in the crimes of Israel.

The fact that “Members of the Israeli army and associated Israeli settler paramilitary units have been responsible for the killing of 2,181 Palestinians and the injuring of another 22,218 between 29 September 2000 and 14 March 2003” gives lie to this media whitewash. Where is the outrage for the Palestinian victims of Israeli occupation and murder? Washington and London both seem strangely reticent on these matters. And yet, the US and UK have just illegally invaded and occupied Iraq, allegedly because of its terrible treatment of Iraqis and Kurds.

This Saturday, if you can make it, please come to the Free Palestine Rally in London. As with the Anti-War protests, if enough people come, even our craven, toothless media won’t be able to ignore it.

I’m not as brave as Rachel Corrie was. I wouldn’t leave my home, my country, my family to stand, defenceless, in front of Israeli soldiers with guns. The least I can do is stand in Trafalgar Square and help highlight the basic human rights that so many Palestinians are denied.

All Girl Summer Fun Band – 2 (K Records – KLP144CD)

The second album from these iced gems is called, cryptically, 2. Differences from the first album (which I LOVED!)? Well, it’s more grunty-distorto and less jangly-tambouriney. This is good because as good as the first album was, I didn’t want to hear a straight repeat. And, as good as the first one was, this one is better!

The winning elements from the first album are all there: great pop songs, sweet girly harmonies and lyrics that are unafraid to giggle. AGSFB are so good at what they do that they’re in danger of becoming archetypal. People are so going to rip-off their succinct, snappy, clever pop style.

Detractors may say this is what AGSFB have done themselves and, yeah, I can hear Talulah Gosh, The Flatmates and The Marine Girls in what they do but never is the heritage slavish or curator-like in the way that Dadrock is. They’ve shown this in the musical progression of 2. It would have been so easy to churn out an identikit jangly album that would have kept a lot of indie kids happy. But they’ve reached further.

Songs like ‘Inarticulation’ remind me as much of Buzzcocks as any girlpop great. But then you have ‘Dear Mr. & Mrs. Troublemaker’ where they come across as a snotty, fuzzed-out Shangri-Las, hyped-up on Pez and Jolt cola.

‘Video Game Heart’ wouldn’t be out of place on any Devo album and here AGSFB effortlessly integrate synth in a way that soooo many indie bands fail miserably at. It’s thrumming and boppy and… well… great!

So don’t write off this album as narrow or unadventurous, the common charge laid at the door of contemporary indie pop. Yes, AGSFB love short, explicit pop songs but I see that as a huge strength, not a weakness. In these times of sprawling prog-rock widdly excess, sticking on this album is like getting your ears syringed. You find yourself remembering what pop music was meant to be all about: TUNES! Give me a good chorus anyday over wanky experimentalism. I can’t imagine anyone who likes pop not being seduced by ‘Tour Heart Throb’ – it’s so rifftastic and you can shout ‘yeah yeah’ along with the backing vocals. Is there anything better?

Shall I tell you the main reason I love these songs? It’s because I can understand them. I don’t need a degree in comparative literature or a thesaurus or a headful of chemicals, they make sense just in themselves.

They tell me stories, they take me by the hand and lead me into their world, they sing to me. They’re as simple as the Beach Boys and as complex and layered as Motown – they’re great pop songs. Most of the dreary, drably “serious” rock bands lorded by the music press haven’t got enough collective brain cells to even consider the concept of a song like ‘Becky’ or would never be able to pull it off in such a pure, heartfelt manner.

Buy this album if you’ve ever liked any classic singalong pop songs or have ever sung along with a hairbrush in front of a mirror. Don’t buy this album if you’ve forgotten how to have fun and smile.

Goodbye Bzangy

A few minutes ago, I shut down my Bzangygroink forum. In the grand scheme of things, that means absolutely nothing. Compared with the death and horror in Iraq it means even less.

But when Bzangy was good, it held a tiny community of people, a lot of whom were scattered across the country and world. We talked crap, we organised meetings for the anti-war demos, we told very bad jokes, we planned nights out clubbing and gigging. Not earth-shattering stuff, but important to us.

It was a private forum not through exclusivity but because people were talking about their private lives and wouldn’t have opened up if they’d known any passing net stranger was stopping by for a vicarious thrill. But, apparently, when you make something private it becomes irresistible.

I don’t want to be a policeman. I don’t want to have to check IPs or have someone from another forum tell me that people I trusted are sharing their account details with absolute strangers. I had assumed, perhaps naively, that I could trust people to be responsible and respect each others’ privacy. I was mistaken.

So tonight, a little dream of mine died. And I guess a part of my optimism about human nature did too,
love and kisses,
Jyoti

When Murder Isn’t Murder

Today, David Blunkett announced “tougher” sentencing laws:

QUOTE (Tom Happold @ The Guardian)
The home secretary, David Blunkett, said this morning that “most people would cheer” the tough new sentencing “principles” for murder he is due to announce later today.

The principles are understood to include “life means life” prison terms for the worst child murders, 30-year sentences for those who have killed police officers and minimum terms for doctors involved in “mercy killings”.

“I think most people will cheer and say we want a framework where we have confidence, we have clarity, we have consistency.”

These proposals are apparently also going to apply to multiple murderers.

May I humbly suggest the first multiple murderer that should feel the sting of justice: Tony Blair.

After all, Blair is personally responsible for breaking international law and the Geneva convention by ordering the murder of thousands of Iraqis in a totally un-provoked attack. He personally did not hack the heads off babies and children, he sent his troops to do that via their hi-tech murder machines. But just as much as any Mafia don, he is responsible for these murders.

But maybe I'm being naive. Maybe the old adage is true: if you kill one or two people you're a monster, a murderer. If you kill thousands, you're a great leader.

Oh, and a belated happy birthday, Tony. I hope your best mate Georgie gave you a nice pressie to try and help you forget the Iraqi blood dripping from your hands.