More MP-E Macros

Tried some more macros today with my new MP-E lens. I can just about get handheld shots at 1x magnification, if the subject isn’t too jumpy and there’s no breeze at all. Fortunately the ladybird was very sedate as she rambled round Ele’s hand.

Then I popped the camera on the tripod and got very close to some familiar coins. I love the tiny details revealed by the MP-E, especially the rich patina of scratches and micro-crap that covered the coin.

Click here for the piccies!

Birthday Boy / First MP-E 65mm Macros

Today’s my birthday and I’ve had a great day. Lots of cool pressies but the best is undoubtedly the Canon MP-E 65mm f2.8 macro lens. I did a few shots just to get the feel of this beastie and I can already tell I’ll have to improve my technique if I’m going to do this lens justice.

The MP-E is phenomenally sharp at 1x and I even managed to get some decent hand-held shots at this magnification. But anything beyond that and a tripod becomes essential. Also, the DOF is tiny, ranging from a maximum of 2.24mm to a minimum of 0.048mm. As you can see, with that kind of working range, any tremble or slight breeze ruins the shot.

Click here for the pics!

British Troops Murdered Iraqi Civilians

British soldiers killed a 26-year-old Iraqi civilian by repeatedly beating him on the neck, chest and genital areas, High Court judges have heard.

Baha Mousa was one of six Iraqis whose families are challenging the UK Government’s decision not to hold an independent inquiry into their deaths.

Fellow hotel worker Kifah Taha al-Mutari said soldiers competed to see who could kick detainees the furthest.

(Source: BBC News)

I’m sorry, I can’t think of anything to add to this. I’ve said it all before, too many fucking times.

Don’t worry. Tony Blair is a great and caring leader. Our lads in the army are all over there helping the Iraqis. There are no atrocities being committed.

Why don’t we just talk about who should be evicted on Big Brother instead?

It’s great TV, innit?

A witness statement by Mr Mousa’s father, Daoud Mousa, was also before the court.

In it he recalled seeing his son’s body covered in blood and bruises: “He had a badly broken nose. There was blood coming from his nose and mouth. The skin on one side of his face had been torn away to reveal the flesh beneath.

“There were severe patches of bruising over all of his body. The skin on his wrists had been torn off and the skin on his forehead torn away and there was no skin under his eyes either.

“I literally could not bear to look at him.”

(Source: BBC News)

Fahrenheit 9/11

Tonight I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 with my Dad.

Even though we’d waited a while since the opening, the cinema was surprisingly busy. Maybe it was helped by a special offer that’s on at the moment but it’s still telling that people chose to use that offer to see a political documentary rather than some pleasingly escapist multiplex blockbuster.

I’m afraid I’m as subject to propaganda as the next person. So I’d expected a strident, nakedly emotionally manipulative film that made obviously outrageous links and associations. After all, that’s what 90% of the reviews I’ve seen have said about the film.

And then there’s the lateral criticism: it seems people have been queuing up to make ad hominem attacks on Moore. Ray Bradbury, Pete Townshend, a whole raft of net-based right-wing nutters. The effect of this barrage of negativity is twofold. Firstly, it paints Moore as a totally self-serving blowhard, riding roughshod over the will of little people (though I don’t personally count rock stars and famous authors as little people). Thus, secondly, it makes people doubt anything Moore says.

You have to ask yourself, whose interests does the rubbishing of Moore serve?

I’m a lefty. I’m an anti-war protester and an anti-government protestor since the 1980s. If I sit down in the cinema already slightly cynical about Moore, how much has the average person been affected by the media pillorying?

So there I sat, in the dark. A two hour documentary, a lot of it about purely American politics? I was prepared for boredom. I thought I’d learn nothing new, I thought I’d fail to connect with what has been portrayed as a monochromatic and lumpy film.

I was wrong.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is one of the best political documentaries I’ve ever seen. It encompasses a huge range of emotions. There were scenes that I never, ever want to see again. There were scenes that I think every war-hungry dupe of government should be forced to watch on loop for the rest of their lives. Moore’s film is incredibly well paced, the narrative unfolding with all the panache of a prime mystery thriller. I’d certainly rank this documentary alongside The Weather Underground and Manufacturing Consent.

I haven’t been converted into an uncritical Mooreophile. I wish more time had been spent on the role Butcher Blair played in the illegal invasion of Iraq. I wish that Moore had followed an Iraqi woman who’d lost her family to American “liberation” in the same way as he followed the mother of a US serviceman killed in action.

But could I ever make a two hour documentary that put as many bums on seats on a midweek night during the school holidays? No.

And that’s the importance of Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore may indeed be a total wanker. I don’t really care. But F 9/11 has reached and is reaching a huge mass audience and it’s doing the most important thing possible in any democracy, it’s making us question our glorious leaders. I didn’t find the tone of the film hectoring at all, that’s Moore’s brilliance. Where on the one hand we have the overgrown puppet that is Dubya, regurgitating PNAC neo-Nazi dogma as fact, on the other we have Moore, merely posing questions.

It’s these questions that Bush, Blair and the PNAC cabal want unasked. Where are the WMDs? Why attack Iraq when Iraq had made not one move of aggression or even threat of aggression? Why is it always the poor who are sent to fight and die while the rich rulers keep their progeny safe at home and count their profits?

I looked round my fellow audience as I left at the end of the film. I was trying to work out who they were. It wasn’t all beardy-weirdy Trots and SWP sellers. It wasn’t all terminally guilty middle-class activists festooned in CND and ANL badges. But the composition of the audience looked familiar to me.

Then I remembered. It was the same kind of people who I marched alongside on February 15th, 2003. One and a half million ordinary British people, marching to stop Bush and Blair’s warmongering, trying to stop the bloodshed and atrocities that we knew would be unleashed. I think Moore has obviously tapped into that mass audience of people who wouldn’t normally call themselves “political” but were forced into acting by the arrogance of Blair.

Every day brings more horror stories from occupied Iraq. The ordinary people there are ground under the heels of both the occupying torturers (the US and UK troops) and the madmen bombing their way to salvation. They had no democracy under Saddam, they have none now.

What can we do about it? If you do nothing else, at least go and see this film. Listen to Moore’s questions about the West’s attack on Iraq and see if you can answer them and still sleep soundly at night.

I know I can’t.


I got this email from my mate Paul:

I just saw Mr Moore’s recent film at the cinema.

I was going to ‘blog’ something about it, but I’m all but lost for words.

Except to say ‘Christopher Hitchens is a cunt’.

I was very affected by it. To be honest, I think anyone who leaves that film questioning Moore more than the USK government might as well join their local SS branch.

The criticism of 911 reminds me of all the neo-Nazis that crawled out of the woodwork when ‘Schindler’s List’ came out. All I saw were attacks on Spielberg’s “sentimentality” and “distortion” but behind it all was a movement of holocaust denial.

And I think the same is true now: we’re in the middle of a bloodbath that cunts like Hitchens are seeking to deny is happening *as it’s actually happening.* This isn’t even a distortion of history, it’s a distortion of now.

I guess I should have put all that in the bit I wrote about 911… Maybe I’ll tack it on with your email…

Screamadelica 27/7/2004

It’s getting boring writing how good Tuesdays are. So I won’t. The bad points? Well, it should go on till at least 2.30… maybe 3am. Every week people stand outside for ages cos they’re still in a partying mood. That’s why the night has to go on longer.

And… ummm… they could give everyone a fiver I guess. Can’t think of much else to improve the night apart from that.

Had a cool time back at Keith/Paul’s and then went for a lovely walk round Derby city centre. Here’s a good tip: *never* get in a water fight with Gaz.

Click here for the piccies!

Bless Playlist 26/7/2004

Say Hi To Your Mom
Say Hi To Your Mom. The indie slackers.

Nights like tonight are the reason I keep DJing. All night there was an excellent atmosphere, right from when it wasn’t very full at the start to when it got unusually rammed after 10ish. The reason it was so good is that the people who were out were all brilliant, I didn’t get one annoying/dull request all night. A dream night for any DJ!

The best new tune tonight was Say Hi To Your Mom‘s ‘Pop Music Of The Future.’ Lovely lyrics and a cracking tune from a great album. You can download full songs and clips from the band’s own website.

Astute listeners may have noticed a Frenchifying of the night towards the end. This was in tribute to some cool French visitors present. For a Francophile like me, this was an opportunity not to be squandered. Sadly, I didn’t have time to fit in any Phoenix but I did manage to get a trio of old French classics in: Adhemard’s storming ‘Le Mal De Dent,’ Serge Gainsbourg‘s ‘Soixante Neuf Annee Erotique’ and the swoonsome ‘Douce France’ by Charles Trenet. This trio of songs are tonight’s joint best old tracks, covering three decades of French pop.

Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel:

Young People – Ne’er Do Well
Figurine – Way Too Good (2 Good Mix)
Mr. Complex – Emotional
The Concretes – You Can’t Hurry Love
Michael Fakesch – We Got A Generator
Modest Mouse – Worms Vs. Birds
Deerhoof – Milkman
The Dorian Three – Don’t Tell
Blondie – Union City Blue
Landau – Spring Showers
Anti-Pasti – No Government
Sleater-Kinney – Hubcap
Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science (Extended Version)
From Autumn To Ashes – The After Dinner Payback
L’orchestre Devereaux – Non Stop
Pink Grease – The Pink G.R.Easer
Alec Empire – Public Enemy Number One
The Elected – Go On
Athletic Mic League – Whatchuknow
Talkingheads – Once In A Lifetime
Gd Luxxe – My Former Drug
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Speakers Push The Air
John Williams – The Imperial March
Slayer – Raining Blood
Louis Jordan – Five Guys Named Moe
Bad Religion – American Jesus
Bad Azz – Down Wit Us
Cex – Destination: Sexy
Shins – Fighting In A Sack
System Of A Down – Suite-Pee
Say Hi To Your Mom – Pop Music Of The Future
Ben Folds Five – Army
Converge – Concubine
Pavement – Grave Architecture
The Fiery Furnaces – Straight Street
Tigrics – Public Gameover
Non Phixion – Rock Stars
The Beach Boys – Girl Don’t Tell Me
The Weakerthans – Aside
Lightyear – Three Basics
Serge Gainsbourg – Soixante Neuf Annee Erotique
Adhemard – Le Mal De Dent
Le Tigre – Let’s Run
Cable – God Gave Me Gravity
Boards Of Canada – Roygbiv
Kings Of Convenience – I’d Rather Dance With You
Charles Trenet – Douce France

Bonheurs fanés, cheveux au vent
Baiser volés, rêves émouvants
Que reste-t-il de tout cela?
Dites-le moi

Un petit village un vieux clocher
Un paysage si bien caché
Et dans un nuage le cher visage
De mon passé

Au revoir, you shitters!

An Idiot’s Guide To Wiring Ethernet Sockets

Ummm…this is the best pic I could find to illustrate home networking. Note angry lady computer receiving porno call.

Wi-fi, schmi-fi! I spend half my working hours shuttling enormous audio files backwards and forwards between my Macs, a piddly wireless connection is bugger-all use to me. I might as well post them.

No…what I need is the manly bandwidth of wired ethernet. Just watch those suckers fly!

So, one of the things I wanted in my new studio was for the G5 to be hooked up to my router by metal not radio. I got the builder to run the cable, thinking that was the tricky bit and that adding the sockets would be a doddle. Umm…

First of all… do some reading up. At least have a google around and read the many excellent FAQs about cabling up ethernet.

Unlike me.

Then you might order the right part from the supplier rather than a bare ethernet module when you were expecting a wall plate. This is what the assembled jobby looks like, after you buy the missing bits:


It might help if you buy the right tool for the job too. If you’re terminating Cat 5 cable into a wall socket, you need an impact tool, like this handsome fellow:

Double doh!

Don’t spend £20 on a RJ45 plug crimper like I did. Wrong! Still, it’s handy for hammering nails into my head.

Now, I’m not new to wiring and electronics, I spent most of my childhood soldering shit together. I grew up on one pot violins and breadboards. But the pissing fiddly wires on Cat 5 cable are a new triumph in electronic irritation:


Strip the casing, prepare four of the eight wires and then… snick! I’ve snipped one of the bloody ends off instead of stripping it. AARGH!

Right, snip the whole lot off and then start again. At least the impact tool works brilliantly when I’ve actually managed to get the twatting nanowires in place.

So, once assembled, I tested the sockets and… nowt!

The little light on my router stayed off which means that there’s something wrong with the physical layer (translation: you’ve fucked-up the wiring, you div).

Hmmm. I suppose this would be much easier if I had a continuity tester. Or even a fancy ethernet tester. But I haven’t and I’m not going to fork out for a one-time install.

So… I rip out the wires from both sockets, cut back and start again. Bear in mind that if this time doesn’t work, I’m now running out of wire at one of the wall boxes. If I bugger it up this time, I have to look like a total knob and ask the builder to run another length of cable to replace the one I’ve butchered.

Strip outer sleeve, separate twisted pairs, strip their sleeves (being VERY CAREFUL not to snip them) and then punch them into the socket. I’m using 568B wiring as opposed to 568A.

Yes. Of course. Why the hell have TWO different wiring schemes for the same socket, you BASTARDS!

And relax…

Then, trembling, I plugged my PowerBook into the studio socket, plugged the router into the sitting-room socket and IT WORKED!

HAH! Eat that, Enrico Fermi! I AM A WIRING GENIUS!

Okay, it isn’t that impressive really. But I’ve now got two lovely, working ethernet sockets and am fully wireless-less.

I’m totally wired!


My lovely sockets. Now I know the pride God felt when he surveyed his creation.

Bless Playlist 19/7/2004

Bad Azz
Bad Azz. More to say than every schmindie band in the world put together

Tonight’s top new track was another hip hop tune, ‘Down Wit Us’ by Bad Azz. Why did I pick it? Quite simply because of the stunning lyrics. The music’s cool as well, of course, but the lyrics just hit me the first time I heard this song. This is why I love hip hop: if you’re looking for meaning in your lyrics, for power, passion and connection to the world, nothing beats hip hop. As the world of schmindie lyrics becomes increasingly reactionary, introverted and pointless, hip hop lyrics stand out as never before.

The top old track was Rusty York’s ‘Sugaree’ which always makes me happy as a mudskipper every time I hear it. Rockin’!

Klaatu barada nitko:

Homosexuals – Soft South Africans
Deceptikon – Inaccessibility
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Speakers Push The Air
Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya
Erick Sermon – Street Hop (Featuring Redman)
The Come Ons – Hip Check!
OOO – Group Heartbeat
!!! – Pardon My Freedom
Pixies – Hey
Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels
LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge
Gorilla Biscuits – Start Today
The Pharcyde – Illusions
Mates Of State – A Duel Will Settle This
Adult – Lost Love
New Christs – We Got This!
Dntel – The Dream Of Evan And Chan
Visionaries – Pangaea
Sepultura – Roots Bloody Roots
Rusty York – Sugaree
Enon – Old Dominion
The Stereonerds – F.U.N.K. (Is What You Don’t Play)
Pedro The Lion – Foregone Conclusion
7l & Esoteric – Graphic Violence
Broken Social Scene – KC Acccidental
Venetian Snares – Einstein-Rosen Bridge
My Bloody Valentine – Thorn
Rilo Kiley – Hail To Whatever You Found In
Bad Azz – Down Wit Us
Jon Brion – Punch Drunk Love (Main Title)
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Panasonic Youth
Todd Rundgren – We Gotta Get You A Woman
Team Shadetek – Menthol
Capdown – If We Don’t Last Very Long….
Athletic Mic League – Birth Control
Kings Of Convenience – I’d Rather Dance With You
Slaughter Mob – Black Hole
Postal Service – We Will Become Silhouettes
Big Star – September Gurls
Nick Drake – Hazey Jane Ii
Minor Threat – Filler
Randy Newman – Ragtime
Belle And Sebastian – You’re Just A Baby
Grandaddy – Now It’s On