Here are some things that you might like to read.

Topless of the Pops
90s girl band All Saints today made shocking allegations about the BBC’s Top of the Pops programme:

They said the music show’s makers wanted to film them from the shoulders up to create the illusion they were performing naked.
“They were filming images of us to use as a backdrop and they wanted us to take our tops off.”

This took place in the late 90s, but there was no mention of this in 2006 when All Saints reformed, disastrously. However, since the Jimmy Savile story broke in 2012, Top of the Pops is now known not to have had the cleanest of reputations. Still, it’s taken All Saints an additional four years to come forward with these allegations, coincidentally in the same month that they relaunched their band.

Sun in an 8
Here’s what the sun looks like if you take pictures of it at the same time each week for a year.


Pretty cool, ne?

This tracking pattern of the sun is called a Solar Analemma and is formed as a result of the earth’s axis’ 23½º tilt. Useful images (like the one above by Jesús Peláez) include a local landmark (like the one above incorporating Burgos Cathedral in Spain) to provide perspective and avoid any sort of “drift”. You can delve as deep as you want into this one – here’s an interesting site.

Peninsular Removal Services
Are apparently still up to their no good tricks.

Malik Jalal is on the Kill List
The fascinating story of a man the USA are apparently trying to kill. 

The next attack came on 3 September 2010. That day, I was driving a red Toyota Hilux Surf SUV to a ‘Jirga’, a community meeting of elders. Another red vehicle, almost identical to mine, was some 40 meters behind. When we reached Khader Khel, a missile blew up the other vehicle, killing all four occupants. I sped away, with flames and debris in my rear view mirror.

Two sides to every story, and sure, this is his (in the Independent, the biggest misnomer since Pussy Galore), but maybe while he’s over in Blighty, the US might at least like to hear what he has to say.

Staying with death…

The Assad Files
A long, LONG, harrowing read, but worth it if you have the time. The story of those trying to bring Bashar al-Assad to justice for war crimes in Syria. And those who are trying to help from within, together with the sometimes comical difficulties they face:

Large extractions often depend on friendly countries to negotiate openings in otherwise sealed borders, so captured documents can remain hidden for months. On one occasion, several thousand pages of evidence were left with an old woman in a remote farmhouse in southern Syria, but the investigator didn’t explain the significance of the files. When winter came, Wiley said, “in fairness, she was cold, so she burned the whole lot of it as fuel.”

That’s the lighter side, and there’s not much of it.

New $5 note upsets Aussies
Yeah… that is pretty ugly.

NGB5_Queen_side_-_mock_up_specimen_image_-_blue_background_-_JPG_300dpi   NGB5_Parliament_side_-_mock_up_specimen_image_-_blue_background_-_JPG_300dpi

The E.coli are apparently actually wattle, and the technicolour bird is an eastern spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris).


Now, you’re up to speed.

Another Love

It seems to be a thing to take an indie track, add some voice production, remix it with a housey beat and (hopefully) some piano and then share it on Soundcloud. If this Zwette reinterpretation of Tom Odell’s Another Love – allegedly complete with “sanften beats” and newfound “Clubtauglichkeit” – is anything to go by, long may it continue:

But don’t get me started on Soundcloud, because I’ll be downloading stuff all day.
Have you seen this, for example? Mooi…

People not reading

Thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-English speaking countries as to those that occur in English speaking countries.

Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, 2007

(Actually, that line doesn’t quite work here, but I trust you’ll get the gist.)

After the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, there was (even more) outrage at the apparent and alleged disproportionate coverage given to those attacks in the media, compared with that given to similar atrocities in other parts of the world – Beirut and Baghdad the other parts of the world in question on that occasion.

At the time, I suggested:

On that, perhaps stop watching Western media, in much the same way that I stopped watching ‘Look North’ when I got fed up just hearing what was happening in Leeds. I’m quite sure that Iraqi, Lebanese and Middle Eastern media generally have disproportionate reporting as well. Go watch them for some of the time. But honestly, don’t watch Western TV news and use Western-based social media the day after the biggest attack on France since World War 2 and expect to hear about much else.

And I stand by that.

But then after more attacks in Istanbul, Brussels and Lahore over the last few days, the situation has raised its ugly head again, adding further insult to already galling injury and wholly unnecessary death. I was rather surprised to hear that people felt that way about the Istanbul attacks – I thought that they were well covered in the Western media. I’m less able to comment of the media coverage of the events in Lahore, as I was away with no TV, no radio and I was only accessing the internet sporadically (and with that sort of cheery news waiting for you when you do go online, who would?). But then this morning, I saw this piece from “Social & New Formats Editor for the Guardian” (woo!), Martin Belam. He argues that some coverage of events like Lahore is there, it’s just that people choose not to read it:

It’s undoubtedly true that there is less coverage, but it is also regretfully true that there seems to be less of an audience.

Why? He laments and hypothesises:

I find it a bit depressing really, but unsurprising.

It’s harder to get mainstream reader empathy and interest in terrorism attacks that occur further from our shores. Many, many of our readers will have visited Brussels or Paris. Far fewer will have ever ventured to Pakistan.

For most of the UK’s population, Europe’s capitals are much closer culturally and logistically.

Not. Rocket. Science.

Yes, we should be (and, I’d argue, we are) outraged and disgusted by innocent lives being taken in these sort of despicable acts, wherever they may occur, but I am also unsurprised by the fact that we appear to “care” more about events closer to home. I’d wager that the same situation (albeit obviously reversed) exists in Pakistan and their media coverage and public interest in the attacks in Lahore and Brussels.

Sure, it would be “nice”, if we were to care equally about all of these horrible incidents, but it’s simply human nature to empathise more with those we feel are closer to us, for whatever reason and to whatever degree.
For the most part we’re not ignoring what’s happening elsewhere – and actually, nor are the “Lamestream” “Western” media – it just seems less relevant to us in the same way that we might pay less attention to stuff happening in Windhoek than in Cape Town.

I don’t think we should beat ourselves up or allow ourselves to be shamed by certain self-righteous individuals on Facebook (you all know who they are on your timeline) over feeling this way.

Summer is coming

Not for us, of course. Winter is on its way for us, as indicated by the cooler evenings and later sunrises (which are already sitting at 0645, meaning that we get up very much in the dark). No, I’m obviously referring to the Northern hemisphere, which has been struggling with snow, ice, cold days and colder nights for the past few months.

A time for happiness, then?

Well, not for everyone, no. Because, as we’ve covered before, summer brings leaves to the trees and leaves on the trees block those views which you want(ed) to photograph.

But never has the displeasure at the approaching onset of foliage been expressed quite like this:

I think I see some leaves, even in this photo, evergreen leaves, attached to the tree on the right as we look. But there was, today, nothing like the visual ruination that will engulf everything in a few months time, turning intricately pleasing urban-rural counterpoint into a big old smudge of rural tedium.

There will be photographers of the pastoral persuasion who will have precisely the opposite opinion to this. But they can keep on taking photos of trees with leaves, without anything beyond being masked, obscured or hidden. No-one is stopping them. But in just a few weeks, Brian and his fellow (Northern) city-based ‘toggers will, once again, have to seek out new tree-free spots in order to fill their quota of images of entirely visible skyscrapers.

Tight timetable

Despite being the second city of Norway, Bergen is actually pretty small. But it seems like there are still loads of things to do there. The thing is, you might not have ever so much time. We don’t, so I was delighted to find a blog post entitled:

Explore Bergen In 1 Day – The Complete Guide

Thing is, I’m now just a bit unsure exactly how long 1 Bergen day is. Because the blogger in question managed to fit: 1 funicular ride to a scenic viewpoint, 1 historical UNESCO heritage site, a market, an aquarium, a castle, 4 museums and 2 hours of shopping into his one day in Bergen.


I can’t imagine that Parichay Mehta (for it is he) saw any of these places in great detail. Allowing for a reasonable amount of travel time between them, we’re looking at about half an hour per visit. Still, it has at least given us a bit of a heads up as to what’s on offer, given that we have… wait for it… a whole 1 AND A HALF days in Bergen.
Which of course means 45 minutes per attraction. And given that tourism is very much our secondary reason for visiting, that seems more than reasonable.

Oh, and we’re going to do one of these as well, because you don’t go to Bergen and not do The Sognefjord (apparently). Cannot wait.

(Obviously, when we go, I’ll do a more sensible ‘Bergen in a limited amount of time’ post.)