Thursday, August 13, 2015

No place to hide

  When I’m now once again reading No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald, about the NSA, Edward Joseph Snowden and The Surveillance State, I am once again amazed by it, by its content and its ability to amaze, shock and move me.
  I always knew that there was extensive surveillance, but its vast extent surprised even me. The most outrageous statement and claim from the most paranoid among us was suddenly validated. Even they underestimated the danger. We hadn’t been paranoid. We hadn’t been paranoid enough.
  There is Snowden itself, of course, his quiet determination and courage, his desire to get the explosive material published no matter the cost to himself. There is the entire situation surrounding it, Greenwald’s justified distrust of established media and everything related to it, established media’s deliberate and eager cooperation with those in charge. There is one exposure, one undeniable fact on top of another.
  One of many things it does is to reveal irrevocably Barrack Obama and his administration as enemies of freedom and of mankind itself. Obama is shown as an active and eager, not merely a passive participant in the surveillance. He is a conman, one of the cleverest elected presidents ever and always was. He never had any intention of making good his election promises, deliberately deceiving the electorate even more than the usual politician.
  His remaining supporters should definitely read this book.
  Greenwald was among those with high hopes that Obama becoming president would lead to improvements, but those hopes were quickly crushed, in virtually all areas of politics. Obama, during the election, among other things, spoke highly of whistleblowers and the need for supporting them, but has, during his presidency persecuted them worse than any president before him.
  The first article showed that NSA had been working with Verizon (and virtually every other telephone company in America) in order to sweep customers’ phone records.
  Revelations on PRISM, spying on foreign, allied governments, The UK GCHQ program, XKeyscore, undermining of Internet security and more quickly followed suit, exposures with a value that can hardly be underestimated.
  I think all the exposures are great, of course, and reject the propaganda attacks from the establishment against Snowden, Greenwald and other whistleblowers completely.

  If I’m unhappy with anything is that they didn’t reveal everything. I would have wished they had released every single bit of information they have. I certainly don’t care about the security of United States and its spies around the world. They are an integrated part of a beyond sinister network oppressing mankind and deserve no quarter.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Things to do in London when burning with passion and life (II)


  Thursday morning I had one of only two breakfasts at the hotel. It’s expensive and not really giving you much for your money.
  I left the camera in the hotel room, deciding on a whim to experience London without it that day, temporarily falling back on my old, misguided conviction that dragging a camera around lessens a given Journey.
  I usually stay in Bayswater, close to the Central Line stations of Lancaster Gate or Queensway, but this time I stayed in Paddington, just a minute’s walk from Paddington Station and the Bakerloo Line. The Central Line would have taken me to Tottenham Court Road (it’s closed most of 2015). Bakerloo takes everyone (or at least me) straight to Piccadilly Circus.
  Dorothy and I met up at Costa, in Covent Garden, one of my favorite coffee shop chains. We have known each other for twenty-seven years and we share two children between us. We’ve always enjoyed an off/on relationship and have never really split up. Fairly long periods of absence have been coupled with intense moments of reunion, an «arrangement» suiting us both.
  We first encountered each other on the beyond memorable Midsummer Night of 1988 and moved into a squatted house together not long afterwards. The next five years should be one of the most amazing periods of our lives. She, more than any other person, showed me what life is about.
  She had great news for me this Thursday morning. I knew that, just by looking at her, before she even started speaking. She had actually managed to gather most of the old gang, doing so for the first time in years. I felt how anticipation filled me. We were both excited beyond words, an excitement clearly visible to everyone else present. Some were angry at our loud voices, while others loved our sizzling exhilaration and mounting joy.
  Usually I sit a while and enjoy my time at a coffee shop, but this time I devoured my giant cappuccino in no time, and we were off to the nearest pub, having decided to start the celebration of our reunion early.
  It’s always a strange feeling for me to be in the company of a given woman… and being unable to take my eyes off her. It’s almost like I try to imprint forever every single line of her face on my cerebral cortex. Her stare was equally intense. We didn’t mind and sat there toasting and cheering and drinking Guinness as if our last day had come. Sometimes later we had dinner at a great non-expensive vegetarian place north of Oxford Street. We were back at devouring Guinness not long after that.
  Usually I don’t drink much alcohol in London or when traveling at all, since I’m high enough just by the act of traveling, but this time was different.

  We ended up on my hotel room, celebrating our reunion the rest of the day and evening, keeping it up until we fell into a deep, deep, dreamless sleep.


Sunday, August 02, 2015

Twenty months

  Since I bought my Canon EOS 5D Mark III I have made approximately 7500 image files, both photographs and film cuts. Of those about one tenth has been useful in some way, and will be used in some way or another.
  I will always take far more photos and files than I use, but I don’t delete anything or much. They all tell my story during the time period in question to some extent.
  I learned to use it, to more or less master its very intuitive technical hurdles in just three days. To work off my rustiness brought on by my long break and to an extent master photography again, took longer. But during this time I have learned the answers to most of those questions I had before I procured the camera about photography and movie productions, found far more and learned a lot in the process. As with most things I do, it’s a matter of unending, life-long learning.
  Adobe Creative Cloud, with Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere and other applications is also a part of this. It clearly adds to and enriches my experience of the camera further.
  I am quite pleased with my Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG «Art» wide angle lens. The occasional vignetting in F1.4 and 2.0 is significant, but can easily be removed in Adobe Photoshop if desirable. With me, enjoying shadows and dark fields in many pictures it very often isn’t.
  This is my only lens so far. That can feel limiting at times, of course, but it also encourages me to blow away whatever limitations there are or might be. You don’t take portraits with a wide angle lens, some photographers claim. I do! I take all kinds of photos with it, actually, except close up wild animal photos. That’s as close to being impossible you can get.
  Anyway, as I often do I work well with imposed limitations, both because I have to and because I can. Being a man lacking financial muscles I’ve taught myself to expand the possible into the impossible. I’ve taught myself to work and grow with a zero-budget, which is liberating in itself. You kind of force-grow your creativity, adding further to your enjoyment of the process.
  There are inevitable frustrations, but I’ve taught myself to deal with them, too, taught myself even more patience. Like with my novels and other things, I get things done, even though it takes time.
  I saved money for five years before being able to procure this camera. It was worth it.
  In 2008, when the Mark 2 was released, I knew it wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but I also knew the next step in digital evolution would be. I was right.

  I waited for the Mark 2 to metamorphose into Mark 3. It was worth it.