Monthly Archives: March, 2011

Wafa Sultan: Why I left Islam

Brave words, that need to be said.

Light painting – Making Future Magic

About six years ago I did some brief experiments with ‘light painting’: photography using long exposures where you move the light sources around while the shutter’s open:


Click the image for a couple more…

My friend Karen has done this on a rather larger scale, for example by running around bits of Thetford Forest in the middle of the night carrying big lights:


But she’s also just pointed me at a lovely example of what you can do by bringing this up to date and using iPads as the light source. Making Future Magic is a creation of the Dentsu London agency, and is beautifully done. Worth clicking the full-screen button.

Making Future Magic: iPad light painting from Dentsu London on Vimeo.

Why is it called ‘Windows’?

Using virtual machines on my Mac and Linux computers allows me to fire up a copy of Windows on the very rare occasions when I need it. (Typically about once a quarter). And then shut it down again before anything bad happens.

And then the light of understanding and enlightenment dawned upon me, dear friends, so I share it with you, with apologies for the grammar:

    It’s called Windows, because that’s what you should run it in.

Period Piece

I often bemoan the rather low quality (by today’s standards) of the camera on my iPhone 3GS, but I still occasionally get some interesting shots with it.

The post-processing was done on the iPhone using the rather nice Camera+ app.

Proulx, Plutonium and a sense of Proportion

There’s a wonderful scene in the movie version of Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, where Kevin Spacey’s character, Quoyle, is being taught how to be a journalist by Billy, an experienced old hack on the local paper. They are sitting in a car on the Newfoundland coast.

    Billy: Now, have a look. What do you see? Tell me the headline.

    Quoyle: Horizon Fills with Dark Clouds?


    Quoyle: But what if no storm comes?


I keep wondering whether this is an appropriate analogy for the reporting of the events in Fukushima. As far as we can tell on the best information available, this is not going to be anything like another Chernobyl, but even Chernobyl needs to be kept in proportion.

The worst disaster in the entire nuclear industry resulted in 56 direct deaths; a number comparable to a bad bus crash on a motorway. More serious, of course, were the after-effects of the radiation, and estimates of the effect vary widely, but the most-quoted figure suggests that around 4000 cancer victims can trace their illness back to Chernobyl. This is, of course, a disaster on a major scale, but it is also very close to the number of people who die in coal mines in China each year. The official government statistic in 2004 – a bad year – was 6,027.

I fear that whatever happens in Japan, the impact on the world nuclear industry will be huge, and we will not be seeing many articles contemplating the likely fate of coal miners in the vicinity of a tsunami. Or of what it might mean to oil rigs – we already know what can happen to them even without the help of a massive earthquake.

There’s a simple reason for this not being the line taken by the media: such articles are much less exciting than the headline-grabbing alternatives. I think it was Cory Doctorow who said, “You must never forget the fundamental business model of most newspapers: to deliver large numbers of readers to advertisers”.

We do not know what will happen in Japan – it may prove be a major disaster, or it may – rather literally – just blow over. But if it’s the latter, don’t worry – I bet we’ll still see some good headlines along the lines of Billy’s for quite a while afterwards.

International Foolishness

Tuesday is, apparently, International Women’s Day. I was trying to think whether anything could be more silly, and I discover that some people are also trying to promote International Men’s Day later in the year.

So it’s good to know that we have equality in the silliness stakes, at least.

Of course, I may be misreading this. It may be a day when we celebrate women who are especially international. Now that would be more interesting…

P.S. I’m assuming that none of you missed out on TIYOIY

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser