All you have to do is to put out the word that a koran has been desecrated, it would seem, and your local peaceful adherents of a certain religion will be guaranteed to go stark raving mad - or your money back.
Security forces have been called in to tackle riots at a Yemen gas plant where a copy of the Koran is said to have been desecrated, security sources say.
... who makes the picture, or so they say, and it's more true than one would often like to admit. Take a good look at this picture, guess what camera it was made with and then look up the answer here. Beggars belief, doesn't it? This picture is a healthy corrective whenever I find myself feeling the pull of gear-lust.
Here's something from the Grauniad which caught my eye just now, and which I think says a great deal about how tenacious a certain pattern of racist thinking remains in the United States.
A Long Island couple are suing a fertility clinic for mixing up sperm samples after their baby girl was born with darker skin than either parent.
Thomas and Nancy Andrews claim that the New York clinic, Medical Services for Reproductive Medicine, was negligent and used the sperm of another man. When they noticed the baby's skin was darker than their own they were told by the doctor involved that the in vitro fertilisation had been done properly and the condition was normal. The doctor assured them, according to court papers, that the child would "get lighter over time".
In a ruling released on Wednesday allowing the case to proceed, a judge said that the error had forced the couple to raise a child who is "not even the same race, nationality, colour...as they are."(emphasis added)
One of those things which give world cities their charm is the abundance of galleries, museums, exhibitions and the like which they possess, and one of my favorite such places in London is The Photographer's Gallery near the better known National Portrait Gallery just off the Strand. I visited the gallery twice this past weekend alone, and the reason for my visit on both occasions was to see the work of the photographers being considered for the 2007 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, namely Walid Raad, Anders Petersen, Philippe Chancel and Fiona Tan.
As it now turns out, the prize ultimately went to Walid Raad for his work on Lebanon concentrating on Israel's invasion in 1982, but judging by the work on display by him and the other nominees it seems clear that this decision owed more to left-leaning Europeans feeling obliged to make an anti-Israeli statement than it did to an objective assessment of relative artistic merit, as by far and away the most interesting body of work I saw at the gallery was that by Philippe Chancel, whose pictures of the DPRK are as beautiful as they are eerie. Take a look at the empty airport reception halls, the sterility of a Panmunjom conference room, the Young Pioneer style youth walking with a toy machine gun in one hand while holding his brother with the other, and (my favorite) the receptionist sitting and reading at an Air Koryo desk, like something out of a Vermeer painting, secure in the knowledge that no customers will be coming her way: take a look at these images at full size in a gallery, as they are meant to be seen, and you'll appreciate why visitors to The Photographer's Gallery agree with me that his work stood out from all the rest.
Anyone can do the old Israel-bashing pseudo-reportage favored by far too many journalists to name, but to get the world's most tyrannical regime to cooperate on a project which subverts said regime through the self-same meticulous beauty which no doubt secured the regime's assent - that is a real accomplishment, art which moves those who see it on several levels at once. The awarding of the Deutsche Börse Prize to Walid Raad as opposed to Philippe Chancel will someday be seen with the same air of incredulity as the absurd 1941 Oscar victory of "How Green Was My Valley" over "Citizen Kane."
As my window of opportunity for blogging hasn't yet closed, I might as well point out a shameful development currently being trumpeted on the Chosun Ilbo as a "victory" [sic] for Korean-Americans, to wit, a successful effort to pressure Montgomery County into striking Yoko Kawashima Watkins' "So Far from the Bamboo Grove" from not just the syllabus but the library acquisition lists as well. That ignorant ethnic grievance "activists" who almost certainly haven't even read the book they're raging against should be celebrating this act of censorship is par for the course, but when Korea's most influential newspaper treats such brazen, unjustified interference with educational freedom in another country as something commendable, I think it says a great deal about just how little respect there is for principle of intellectual liberty even at the highest levels of a society: for far too many Koreans, absolutely everything takes second place to indulging their ethnocentric obsessions, even if it means regarding renaming "Sea of Japan" to "East Sea" as more important than eliminating world hunger, and the Chosun Ilbo's shameless celebration of a successful act of censorship is of a piece with such a mindset.
After going without a blog update for what must be the longest period in several years, I just thought I'd let the 4 or 5 people still reading this that I haven't folded in the towel or anything like that: the fact is that I've just moved, am currently without internet access at home, and am too paranoid about keyloggers, trojans and the like to feel comfortable using internet cafes with anything requiring the entry of passwords or personal information.
It feels really strange being offline for so long, I must say. It makes me realize just how important internet connectivity has come to be in my daily life; it also makes me realize that dialup is well and truly dead in the UK at least, as I haven't been able to find a shop to sell me a dialup modem I can use until my broadband connection is installed. Still, only a few days more now ...
Current circumstances prevent me from updating this blog as often as I'd like, so in lieu of substantive content I'm sharing more of my latest photographic efforts. I think these are a bit of an improvement on my earlier efforts at flower closeups, though maybe I'm just deceiving myself: you be the judge.
I wrote back in September last year that Shinzo Abe would prove to be a disappointment to anyone expecting meaningful reforms of the Japanese economy to continue, and that the day would not be long in coming when those who once criticized Junichiro Koizumi would look back on his tenure with fondness: as it turns out, it's taken only six months for my predictions to come true, as borne out in this Economist article giving some context to the domestic political calculations behind Abe's recent controversy-raising statements about comfort women.