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Asia Pac

Sunday, 07 August 2011
Hiroshima Day

Yesterday, 6th August, was Hiroshima Day.

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing"the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.

Link: Isao Hashimoto, who writes about “1945-1998” ©2003/:

This piece of work is a bird’s eye view of the history by scaling down a month length of time into one second.  No letter is used for equal messaging to all viewers without language barrier.  The blinking light, sound and the numbers on the world map show when, where and how many experiments each country have conducted.  I created this work for the means of an interface to the people who are yet to know of the extremely grave, but present problem of the world.

(via Dean Whitbread).

Posted by bigblue on 07/08/2011 at 10:09 PM
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Thursday, 03 February 2011
Al Wajajah


This is a photograph of a desert sunset near the Oman/Dubai border, which I took just over five years ago. I took it at the border post between the two countries, 90 minutes drive from Dubai city and 3 hours drive from Muscat, the capital of Oman. I wrote about the eventful border crossing here.

Incidentally, Happy New Year - the year of the female iron rabbit!

Posted by bigblue on 03/02/2011 at 07:51 PM
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Thursday, 08 January 2009
A Critical Time


Even though the parties to the conflict seem to be starting to talk about the possibility of a truce, now is an extremely critical time. In the previous conflicts (e.g. Lebanon 2006) most bombings and killings took place in the final days before the ceasefire was agreed. In addition things are now so bad in Gaza that the UN suspended its aid operation, and the ICRC has highlighted that Israel is not meeting its obligations to civilians.

I therefore urge you to make a donation to MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) who are providing much-needed humanitarian support to the civilians who are caught up in this ghastly conflict.  For photos of what is going on, you can see Amir Farshad Ebrahimi’s photostream and Zoriah’s photostream (both are posting photos from Gaza onto the photo site Flickr).  Please also see my Pledge.

(The photo above is from: cactusbones (also Flickr).

Posted by bigblue on 08/01/2009 at 11:04 PM
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Monday, 14 April 2008
A Photographic Review


1. Mind the Gap, 2. The Night Sky, 3. Pen-y-beacon, 4. Moss on the roof, 5. Jumeira Mosque, 6. Ossuaire de Douaumont, 7. Four sisters: May, 8. Elland Road, 9. minus 20, 10. Ratcliffe-upon-Soar power station, 11. Sunset in Stockholm

These are all some of the more “noteworthy” photographs on my now (almost defunct) Flickr account.

Posted by bigblue on 14/04/2008 at 07:47 AM
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Wednesday, 05 January 2005
Tsunami in Banda Aceh


Banda Aceh Northern Shore, 23 June 2004

Banda Aceh Northern Shore, 28 December 2004

The photos above were taken from the set of before-and-after images of the recent Asian Tsunami at Digital Globe.

The Guardian Special Report on the Tsunami has a useful sidebar of links.

Yesterday I received an email (dated 30 December 2004) with interesting information and links about the situation in Banda Aceh in Indonesia, and a call for assistance with actions and donations. I am enclosing it in its entirety although some of the figures are a bit dated. I have also cleaned up some of the links.

Aceh Emergency - Urgent Appeal
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

The people of Aceh are suffering the gravest catastrophe in their history in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, which struck on 26 December 2004.

The devastation and humanitarian crisis are unprecedented. The official death toll is currently 52,000. The final figure could be as high as 100,000. Tens of thousands are homeless and facing the prospect of killer diseases.

The disaster has been compounded by chaotic mismanagement by the Indonesian authorities and the legacy of decades of violent conflict. A war has been raging in the territory since the 1970s between the Indonesian military and the separatist Free Aceh Movement, GAM.

The Indonesian government’s response to the crisis has been slow, lacked coherence and demonstrated a reluctance, for political reasons associated with the conflict, to involve the international community. Currently just two helicopters have been deployed to assist with the immense relief and rehabilitation operation.

The government has severely restricted access to Aceh by international humanitarian organisations since the imposition of martial law in May 2003. Even now it is sending out mixed messages about the lifting of restrictions. Desperately-needed aid is being held up in Medan, North Sumatra.

Intimidation and violence against local NGOs by the security forces have incapacitated civil society and severely curtailed their ability to respond to the crisis.

It is essential that local and foreign organisations are allowed to operate freely in Aceh for an unlimited length of time. The role of the military must be restricted to humanitarian and reconstruction tasks. There must be no return to the oppressive military conditions which have caused so much suffering to the Acehnese and exacerbated the current crisis.

Rigorous steps must also be taken to ensure that corruption, which is an acknowledged problem in Aceh, is not allowed to dissipate the aid effort.

The needs of the Acehnese are now acute. Please do all you can to help them cope with this terrible tragedy.

TAPOL works with a number of grassroots humanitarian and human rights organisations in Aceh and is launching this appeal so that funds can be used by them to optimum effect where it is most needed by local people.

Suggested Action

Make a donation, however small, by one of the methods below:

Ask your government, through your member of parliament (preferably by phone with a follow-up letter or email), to press the Indonesian government:

·    To lift all restrictions on access to Aceh by international humanitarian organisations, aid workers and journalists;

·    To seek as much assistance as is necessary from the international community and allow aid to be delivered directly by international organisations;

·    To limit the military’s role to humanitarian and reconstruction tasks and permanently halt all other military activities in the province.

Details of UK MPs or telephone the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000

Payment Methods

·    Send a cheque payable to “TAPOL - Aceh Appeal” to TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK.

·    Make a deposit in the following bank account: “Tapol - Aceh Appeal”; Account no. 5157529; The Co-operative Bank; Sort code 08-92-99

·    Make an online donation

For more information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone + 44 208 771 2904 or + 44 794 756 7449.

Thank you.

30 December 2004

Paul Barber
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign,
25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ
Tel/Fax: 01420 80153
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Internet: TAPOL
Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia, 1973-2004

Posted by bigblue on 05/01/2005 at 11:20 AM
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Friday, 12 December 2003
la aisselle

teppanyaki chef

Flank sent me the picture (above) of the Teppanyaki chef in Sydney “sniffing his armpit”. He took it at the restaurant where he, Lyam and Aaron went on the night of Aaron’s birthday. He wrote:

Well the teppanyaki chef we had was a little restrained.  He did a sort of “Tom Cruise” number with the pepper grinder, throwing it over his shoulder and catching it behind his back.  He wrote English messages to us upside-down and back-to-front on the grill using the salt pourer (starting with the full stop and progressing to the beginning of the sentence). He was pretty flash on the grill, but other than that did not involve us much. Much like I have seen at other teppanyakis in the past.  However the chef at the next table was a little more “in the face” of his diners.  One move was to play golf with the raw eggs he was about to cook with.  He cracked the eggs a little so that the stood up on end. then used his spatula to hit them into a bowl held by a diner on the other side of the table.  This had pretty impressive results.  He did this with everyone, and later used the eggs to cook with.  He also chopped at food that was being cooked so that it flew into bowls being held up, and also chopped food directly into the mouths of two of the diners.  The most adventurous I’ve had in the past is having to catch already filled bowls of food being thrown at you.

Talking about armpits, did you know that the armpit effect distinguishes kin from strangers?  Or that being exposed to the smell of a sweaty male armpit can make a woman feel calmer? Or that the armpit smells of elderly women can lift your spirits? Uplifting armpits then.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Disneyland Paris.

Posted by bigblue on 12/12/2003 at 10:33 PM
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Wednesday, 26 November 2003
Break a leg!

Aussie whine

The above picture is doing the email rounds this week.  It looks like it might be an advertisement for a bottle-store.

I had hoped to take a picture of the solitary demonstrator (at the company across the road) with his La Cantine a Denise banner, but he wasn’t there at lunchtime today. Apparently he is Denise’s husband, and is protesting about how she lost her job. The story is a bit vague, but she used to work in the canteen and then she was transferred to another section (or visa versa). Anyway she was then made redundant. He wasn’t there, so I couldn’t ask him for more details. Ash says he hopes Denise got her job back.

Today I was thinking about bluemeanie, whose school play Caberet opened tonight. She seemed in a good space this morning, but I didn’t manage to speak to her this evening. I will hear tomorrow morning how the opening night went. 

This evening a group of 10 us went to a restaurant in Strasbourg with a colleague who is visiting from Beijing. It was one of the better restaurants we have been to, called La Pont aux Chats (Cat’s Bridge). The ambiance and decore are decidedly feline. The restaurant is in an old timbered building, and the atmosphere is Alsacian. The portions aren’t - they are small.

Posted by bigblue on 26/11/2003 at 12:35 AM
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Friday, 21 November 2003
La Couleur du Mesonge


This is a photo that flank sent me from the France-USA match on 31 Oct 2003.  Of course France won that match, which is not much commiseration for losing the wooden spoon award to the All Blacks today.  However, at the time of blogging, Michalak is still the highest scoring player of the Rugby World Cup.  If Wilkinson lives long enough to score 6 points on Saturday, he will overtake him. Am I the only one to suspect that Jonny is Naas’ illegitimate son? (As I recall there was one).

Tonight I went to see the film La Coleur du Mesonge in Strasbourg starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Gary Sinese. It was a good film, and it reminded me of situations in South Africa, including some from my friend Sean’s book, Lost Communities, Living Memories.

To continue the musical theme from yesterday, I found this interesting website. You enter the lyrics of a song, and it will sing it for you, using words “culled” from existing recordings by famous stars. I have been listening to alternative renditions of famous Beatles songs.  Let them sing it for you, here.

Posted by bigblue on 21/11/2003 at 12:27 AM
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