I have embarked on a mission to cleanup my mobile phone photo library. As long as I’ve been taking photos with my mobile I have been ignoring them after I back them up. These days I back them up to Lightroom and I have even managed to find and imported photos from before I used Lightroom into my Lightroom library. There are a few gaps but I have a long mission ahead.
My library of mobile phone photos goes back as far as 29 September 2004. There are a couple of shots of people I was working with at the time, which I won’t post, and then this gem:
That’s the Alkaff Bridge [wikipedia.org] over the Singapore River, just down the quay from the hotel I was living in (The Gallery Hotel, no longer there) in September 2004. Having arrived from the US on, as I recall, September 4th (thought looking back at my 2004 post here on Confusion I seem to have left the US on August 30th [confusion.cc]… I know you skip a day and I took a crazy long, multi-stopover route, but it does not seem to add up, maybe I left well after midnight, I can’t remember.)
In any case, that photo was taken on a SonyEricsson K700i [wikipedia.org]. I’m sure I should have photos that were taken on even older photos, specifically the T610 [wikipedia.org] but it seems those are lost to time, so the K700i are my oldest. They are mostly crap photos, but there are some fun shots of people I worked with. But the K700i did have a fun panorama function built in:
It worked fairly well in that shot, but it wasn’t always so go, these buildings look like they are drunk or auditioning for Inception a few years early:
So I really don’t have any good mobile phone photos from 2004, the title of this post is a bit misleading. I plan to post a few mobile phone ph0tos for each year as I continue my cleanup. We’ll see how much the phones and my ability to use them advanced. Not sure what year I’ll stop at. I started using Lightroom mobile to take photos on my phone sometime in 2017 so that’s a logical place to stop… let’s see if I can get that far.
As a final aside, the photo of Alkaff bridge was taken on the night of September 29th. According to Confusion [confusion.cc] I visited the Chinese Gardens to view the lanterns setup for the Mid-autumn festival with some colleagues. But I don’t have any photo, or DSLR photos of that night…
Back before COVID19 locked us all in our home countries we went to Amsterdam for a holiday. We also took a two day side trip to Billund, Denmark just to visit the Lego House [wikipedia.org], but more on that in another post. Amsterdam was the right combination of close to Billund and decent flights. Copenhagen was another option but Amsterdam won out.
We arrived quite early in the morning, before 6AM in Schiphol, a day after my mother and sister. After dropping our bags at the hotel room our first stop was the bakery on the corner for fresh stroopwafel [wikipedia.org]. Thus began a recurring theme for our period in Amsterdam: breakfast confections… maybe that’s not the right work but we had stroopwafel, proffertjes [wikipedia.org], icing sugar coated waffles, and even vegan pancakes at Mr. Stacks [mrstacks.nl].
But it was not all eating. We did some sight seeing. Actually we did a lot of walking to see things. Based on my iPhone we did 118km walking over the week and a half we were in Amsterdam.
Some of our sightseeing agenda was based on what I already knew about Amsterdam generally and from my time there in 2001/2002, but a lot of it was based on watching various travel videos, mostly on YouTube. We all sat around in the months leading up to our trip and watch different “best of” videos. It’s how we discovered Mr. Stacks, among other things.
One of our favorite sightseeing activities is museums and Amsterdam has some great ones. On this trip we visited:
The most important museum we visited was, without a doubt, The Anne Frank House [annefrank.org]. I remember reading the book as a teenager, I truly believe the world needs to remember the atrocities of the Nazi’s and the bigotry of ordinary people which allowed the Holocaust to happen. I’m not Jewish, I’m not religious at all, but the story of Anne Frank, her family and the 17 million other Jews, Poles, Russians, Romani, Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Serbs, Slovenians, Homosexuals, Disabled, Spanish Republicans and who knows who else [wikipedia.org], must be told, over and over again. It is more important today than at anytime since the end of World War II, as xenophobia and racism seem to be on the rise again. Bigotry seems to be the default mode for most of humanity, us and them, the in group and the out group. Without constant reminders, humanity has no humanity. It’s important to remember and to teach our children so they can be mindful and hopefully live up to “never again” as we keep failing to.
The Rijksmuseum [wikipedia.org], where you can see The Night Watch [wikipedia.org] by Rembrandt and many other Dutch Golden Age paintings. THe Night Watch was under renovation at the time of our visit, you could see the painting but it was inside a giant glass box and there were people working on part of it. It was kind of interesting to see it under renovation and I’m glad they didn’t take it off display fort he renovation. Though the things my kids seems to like the best was sitting in the Research Library where you have to sit quietly. Interesting…
The Van Gogh Museum [wikipedia.org], filled with Van Gogh paintings… duh. Lots of self-portraits and sunflowers; also people eating potatoes [wikipedia.org]. A very good museum, love the way you ascend year-by-year up the building. The audio guides were included in our ticket price and were very good. I forgot that The Starry Night [wikipedia.org] is actually at MOMA.
NEMO [wikipedia.org], a hands on science museum for kids. Good for a full day of play. Bubbles, Rube-Goldberg machines, earthquake simulation room (very cool), water works to play in. We could have gone two days I’m sure.
MOCA, a small museum located in the Museamplein, near the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. Like MOMA but Contemporary. Exhibitions on Banksy, Daniel Arsham and Yayoi Kusama as well as a general collection of contemporary art pieces. I got tickets to this one without consulting anyone else as I wanted to see the Banksy.
Body Worlds. Not, strictly speaking a museum, but an exhibition on the human body using actual human (and animal) bodies and body parts that have undergone plastination [wikipedia.org]. The smaller Amsterdam exhibition was not as good as the one I saw two in London two decades ago. Partly it was just smaller, but also the layout in a small, multi-story building and all the rooms being painted black made it feel less open and like it was trying to creep you out. In London it was a huge open space and all white and bright. My kids thought it was too creepy.
But it was not always stuffy museums, we got out of town to see some amazing things too. We went to Haarlem, and spent a day wondering around it’s medieval center. Quaint red-brick buildings and streets surround it’s cathedral. A nice sleepy town to spend an afternoon in, enjoy some food and walking. Unfortunately it was a wet day, light rain off and on all day, when we were there so we didn’t cover much other then the main square around the cathedral.
Out other excursion was more successful. On our first day in Holland, we took the train an hour out from Centraal station to Zaanse Schans, famous for its windmills. From the train station it’s a 15 minute walk to the riverfront where the windmills sit. And you get to walk past a chocolate factory. Smells amazing, looks like it’s straight out of Willy Wonka, of course you can’t see the Umppa Loompas, they stay inside.
We visited a couple of windmills along the Zaan river. Two of them were actually working: De Kat [wikipedia.org], a dyemill crushing chalk to make dies for paint, and De Zoeker [wikipedia.org] an oilmill, roasting and crushing linseed for oil. Their was a presentation inside De Zoeker showing how they use various mechanisms to transfer the wind power from the mill stones to hammers and other tools using various mechanical means. The oil from the linseed’s pressed at De Zoeker can, and is sometimes, used to make paint with the dye from De Kat. The inside of De Zoeker looked and smelled a lot like my grandfather’s shop/barn. The smell of oil and wood and sawdust.
There was also a few shops/exhibits in Zaanse Schans, one making Dutch cheeses, Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm, and one making and selling traditional Dutch wooden clogs: Kooijman Wooden Shoe Workshop [woodenshoes.nl]. The cheese did not interest the kids so much, but the wooden shoes were a hit, especially the giant ones you could sit in outside.
I also managed to meet up with two friends while in Amsterdam, one planned meeting and one random chance. Both are, funny enough, ex-colleagues from working here in Singapore. The planned meeting was with a recent ex-colleague who is dutch and moved back to Amsterdam a few years ago. We met up for an afternoon drinking in a pub. We didn’t drink that much, but we managed to stretch it out for about 6 hours and he ended up missing a flight for work because we took too long. Oops.
The second meetup was completely random. I posted about it at the time [confusion.cc], but, in brief, an Irish, ex-colleague who worked with me in Singapore, before moving to Russia, happened to be in Amsterdam for a conference and we managed to meet up for a evening of good beer and great food. Absolutely random and the best, if not only, reason to still have social media.
Last year I posted about my first ever experience spending a night in the hospital [confusion.cc]. Initial diagnosis was that I had an H. Pylori infection. Which was true, confirmed by endoscopic examination. But… 10 days later and we’ll into taking all my drugs I woke up at five in the morning in a hotel in Jakarta —I was on a business trip— with the same crazy agonizing pain in my lower chest and even in my back. I struggled through it for hours hoping it would go away, drifting in and out of sleep till close to noon. At that point I gave up and managed to pack my shit, checked myself out of the hotel and get to the airport where I took the next available flight back to Singapore. Luckily these flights run every hour or so and they are used to business travelers changing to the next available one when they finish early.
As a side note: with all the scanners and health checks, in place even before COVID19 in this part of the world, no one questioned a guy who looked like death warmed over, sweating and pale, wincing in pain at either the Jakarta or Singapore airports… anyway.
When I landed I went straight to the hospital and checked in. After a long discussion with the doctor who was treating me, going back over the entire history of issues starting in January and describing the pain again he asked about the back pain. Was it present in the other attacks? Yea I think so. After that he suggested that I might be having gall stones and based on that he requested a specialist to take over.
The specialist was fairly certain it was gallstones after an interview and a few hours later it was confirmed by an ultrasound. Ultrasounds are much, much, much more pleasant than endoscopic examinations. Someone sliding a plastic thing like a tennis ball covered in lubricant over you is weird but not so much unpleasant, even if the lube is cold. Endoscopic examinations on the other hand is… well, read the other post [confusion.cc] for my thoughts on that. But the ultrasound worked, diagnosis: gallstones, treatment: cut them out. So the doctor explained the surgery:
In summary, it’s a laparoscopic procedure, meaning they poke a few holes in you and use instruments on sticks to look around and cut shit up. Then they pull said shit out of one of the holes. Basically surgery by chopstick through a button hole. There is always a small chance they can’t complete the procedure via laparoscopy and will still have to make a big hole so they can get in their and work better.
And now, a second aside: doctors handwriting is really another language they learn to speak in med school. Why do you think it takes them so long? As evidence I posted the doctors explanation to Facebook to see if anyone could guess what it was. Answers ranged from the location of the lost ark of the covenant to, oddly, Vladimir Putin’s notes (I have a wide variety of friends…), to a lost page from the Necronomicon or Voynich Manuscript. A few observant people did note that the words liver and gallbladder are there and so guessed it was something to do with anatomy. But the winner was my uncle, a surgeon himself, who was spot on:
It sounds like he’s making it up, but no, I checked: Pancreaticoduodenectomy [wikipedia.org] and Cholecystectomy [wikipedia.org]. I did not, in fact, need a Pancreaticoduodenectomy but I was going to have a Cholecystectomy. So, yea, anyway enough five dollar words: I had to have my gallbladder removed. Unfortunately, before I could have my gallbladder removed, I had to finish my H. Pylori treatment which would take another month. So surgery was scheduled for September.
Luckily I had no more painful issues after that and I arrived for surgery early on a Monday in mid-September for a quick three day stay. After all the checkin and prep they put me under and…
I woke up in the early evening back in my room with tubes running into me and way more bandages than a few small holes would justify. A bit later the doctor came to explain to me that he was not able to remove the gallstones laparoscopically and had to cut me open. Apparently my gallbladder was in fairly bad shape so he was not able to separate it for the liver using he tools-on-sticks.
Long story short, I spent a full week in the hospital on good drugs but still in crazy pain every time I moved or, especially, when in coughed which I was told to do regularly to ensure I didn’t develop pneumonia. Though the doctor did say I had a very high pain threshold as I was able to get up and walk after only a day and usually it took people two days due to the pain. Maybe he was just encouraging me.
In any case I made a full recovery, even going on holiday on schedule in November though I was not able to do any heavy lifting of luggage so the kids had to help, and we packed light. This did not prevent us from doing over 150km of walking around Amsterdam. And I’ve had no problems since. I have an 8 inch scare across my upper stomach like some sort of war wound and I got to keep the gallstones. Yea! Souvenirs:
The election is upon us. As this season of the greatest show on earth comes to a close are we looking forward to a better world or a longer slide down the dystopian rabbit hole of the last four?
It didn’t really begin in 2016, of course, but shit hit the fan so hard and in such volumes in 2016 it’s going to be the year we all remember. Aside from the historians who study these things; they can debate if it began with 9/11 or the financial crisis, or back in the Clinton years or even earlier. But for most of us 2016 is going to be our inflection point. Towards a better world or the end of the world depending on your political persuasions. But either way it was the start of some sort of new world order… or was it?
You see 2016 is when most of the world got a glimpse but some people have known about the plans for a New World Order for much longer. We were warned before I was even born. The shadowy powers behind the curtain were exposed by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson in their seminal work The Illuminatus! Trilogy [wikipedia.org]. But many didn’t listen. I wasn’t born.
I had been born when, a few years later, in 1982 another attempt to pull the curtain back. But, I was only four in 1982 when Steve Jackson Games released Illuminati [sjgames.com]. But I was too young.
In 1994 I was old enough to understand and to see behind the curtain. To know who the players were:
To understand the groups involved…
And to understand their tools:
Alas, no one is keeping the things up to date: Brexit, Trump, Hilary’s emails, Harambe, QAnon, TPP, Elon Musk, Amazon, i-devices… and so much more. How will people know the truth? Or are we all doomed to be puppets?
Less than two weeks to go to the 2020 US election… greatest show on earth, the US election; can’t make this shit up: megalomaniacal fascist vs demential pederast both up to their ears in corruption nepotism. Or so social media “the feeds” as Spider Jerusalem would scream, tell us. Or at least tell me as best as I can follow in my personal filter bubble.
Actually, you can make this shit up, and Warren Ellis did, in his comic Transmetropolitan [wikipedia.org], specifically in the The Year of the Bastard story arc where the protagonist, Spider Jerusalem takes on both the incumbent and challenger in a eerily predictive dystopian presidential election. How eerily predictive? Well… the candidates are neo-nazi/American fascists, fake smile authoritarians, nepotistic, corrupt scum bags. Either straight up spewing their white supremacy or hiding their secret cabal of power faces behind a made-for-the-media facade. You have to read it; it’s drug addled cyberpunk crazy written at the turn of the century under Clinton and Bush the younger and is somehow more relevant than ever. I mean when you set aside the fact that eating tank grown people and injecting Ebola is day-to-day normal in The City. It’s not for everyone…
This is the fourth presidential election I have watched from afar. And each one, with the exception of 2012, seems like one more step along the path to some sort of end-of-the-American-experiment. The polarization and breakdown of what made the system work is soul crushing.
Ok. Enough election depression for the day. But I have one more election inspired trip back to the 90’s to post before November third. Oh the antici……pation.
I’m sure it’s not an original thought but I think the reason so many people don’t trust the government or any authority and are so high on conspiracy theories is they watched too much X Files back in the 90’s.
My older daughter is watching the X Files and its realise that everyone is Mulder now days. Everyone is lying and there is some grand conspiracy to hide the truth from the public. There is a bunch of shady old men behind the curtain orchestrating the grand conspiracy.
Too many Mulders and none of them listening to any of the Scullys.
“Mulder, the Internet is not good for you.”
Dana Scully, The X-Files, Season 10: Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster
I’ve been very lazy and not posted anything here in a month or so. Not that I don’t have things to say but I’m working full time from home and the idea of sitting down in from of the computer to write a blog post has been, um, unappealing. Anyway…
I’m going to take the easy way out and post the transcript of a conversation with a friend over WhatsApp about the state of the US. My friend is Swedish so his view is totally non-American and I’ve lived outside America for 16 years so mine is colored with overseas experience.
The conversation was over a week ago, so the trigger is old news; the shooting of two police officers sitting in their patrol car in LA:
beggs : That’s Compton. Been like that my whole life.
beggs : But, yea the US is imploding…
N****** : Last time I think the west was at this stage was domestic left wing terrorism in the 70s
beggs : Let’s see what happens come the election. See if we have an outcome and people accept it.
N****** : And I count for democracies, not in dictatorships, like Greece or Spain
beggs : If things really go south with the US election and Britain fucks Brexit again then we can rephrase it to “last time the west was at this stage was the facism of the 30s.”
N****** : [RE: beggs: Let’s see what happens come the election…] Do you think the majority middle will stand up and deny the extremes their ability to wrench havoc
N****** : [RE: beggs: If things go south with the US election…] Very likely that strong right wing dictatorships would arise
beggs : The biggest problem will be that many places will take days to count the mail in votes. They legally can’t start till the polls close on Election Day in places. And it’s manual often too. So we won’t know for several days… and mail in voting skews Democrat by about 20 percentage points most years according to something I read in The Economist.
beggs : So Trump could declare victory on Election night based in votes cast that day in swing states and then a few days later they announce he lost due to mail in votes, hence all the bitching and fear mongering about mail in voting. I can’t see trump accepting that, he just can’t accept losing anything.
N****** : I heard a theory about what the real goal of China and Russia is
N****** : they don’t care who wins, they only want to create distrust in the process
N****** : cause that could create a more authoritarian system in the future
beggs : Maybe but I don’t see either wanting a more authoritarian US, I think they would prefer a more chaotic and divided US. Too distracted by its own domestic shit to care about playing global cop. But Trump is perfect if they do want more authoritarian. Can’t stand to lose and totally willing to use force against anyone not stoking his ego.
N****** : Yea, case in point he creates chaos
beggs : As for the cops getting shot: I haven’t read about it but some gang banger shooting cops in Compton is par for the course. But protesters blocking the emergency room and changing let them die… this is a major funk up. Discrediting the valid arguments and protests of BLM. The movement lacks a visionary leader like MLK. Someone who can turn the anger into a constructive push for chance and hold the masses together so it does not become a mob.
beggs : The last time we had substantive change in institutional racism in the US was in the 60s. And the sustained, (mostly?) non-violent, non-mob, non-looting protest movement was key to that. Burning down buildings and shooting cops does not bring about change. Just proves the other side right, you are a menace. As long as you are a violent menace they hold the moral high ground and can write off the “protests” as riots, as a problem to be cured —by force— not as a symptom of the larger problem which needs to be addressed. cure.
And since I’ve waited so long to post this I can add this conversation, triggered by the first debate:
N****** : I think there is a small risk the USA could get into a civil war, it’s just crazy
beggs : Really? I didn’t watch the debate. Was it that bad?
N****** : It was like a 5 year old screaming in the sandbox
beggs : It was the same last time. He just would not shut up.
N******: Due to all the normalization of his behavior over the years we have almost completely lost the idea of how bad he really is
N******: But that is the behavior of the online era
N******’s last comment is spot on. Trump really is the personification of how people “talk” online: tl;dr, “my opinion is best”, “I’m right, you’re wrong”, “you’re a Nazi”… Trump is the real world personification of a name calling, alternative fact spewing, know-it-all, troll. The debate was one step from someone invoking Godwin’s law [wikipedia.org]. And I’m surprised someone didn’t, I guess it’s cause Trumps supporters are most often called out as fascists and Biden was trying to be more… political? Dignified? Fuck I don’t know. You’re not supposed to straight up call your opponents names. You’re supposed to disagree with their position not their existence. Trump has normalized so much shitty behavior for a politician.
Why is there no TV show about The Great Emu War [wikipedia.org]? Or an anime [youtube.com]? Netflix? Amazon? Australia fought a war against emus. And lost! Greatest plot ever for a comedy. You couldn’t make this shit up.
Never before have so many people understood so little about so much.
James Burke, in Connections [wikipedia.org] episode 1 “The Trigger Effect”
James Burke said that in 1979, a year after I was born, in his TV show Connections. As a kid watching reruns of Connections I doubt I understood what he meant. That as society advances people come to use and depend more and more on technology that requires specialized knowledge to understand. We are surrounded by technology that our lives depend on, but few of us understand very much of it at all. Think about all the technology you use every day do you understand it? Even the basics; electricity? The turbines that generate it and the grid that delivers it to you can charge your phone, or laptop, to read this? Forget about the phone or laptop themselves with literally hundreds of components that are each a technical marvel —touch screens, accelerometers, radios for bluetooth, cellular and wifi, and the processor, even the battery. And don’t forget the tens or hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code that make all those physical bits work together so you can look at cat memes on the internet. What about the technology required to grow food on far off farms to feed more than half of the world that lives in cities today? The trains, planes and automobiles that deliver it in an edible state? The list goes on. How many of us could really survive an apocalypse?
The complexity of the world has increased in what feels like an exponential rate over the 40-plus years since Connections was made. Each of us has been reduced from a cog in vast machine to a single tooth on a very small cog in a massive world spanning machine. When I was a kids cars were complex machines but I could learn enough about how they worked, as mechanical things, to understand them. I was far from a gear head but I could even do basic maintenance and little repair. I could change the oil or clean the spark plugs because I could understand what was going on under the hood and apply that knowledge with my hands. Today, the principles haven’t changed (as long as we are talking about internal combustion engines, ignoring hybrid and electric cars for now…) but cars are computers and they require specialized equipment to even diagnose many problems. My car throws an error if you replace the battery without the manufacturer provided software to tell the car what you did. As the world gets more and more advanced we all see less and less of the overall machine and it can be overwhelming. More and more we are surrounded by black boxes we don’t understand. It reminds me of another quote:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke, in Profiles of the Future
Everything around us is magic today, the technology behind you seeing these words on your mobile phone requires armies of people to design, build and manage. You can’t even name or imagine all the people and tasks along the way much less how it works, unless it’s your job to design it or build it or manage it, or to study it. And that would make you what we call an expert. But these days people don’t seem to believe they need to listen to experts about the things they don’t know.
Even the most venerated experts, the canonical example of an expert: doctors, aren’t safe from the disrespect for expertise today. There are many issues with the practice of medicine [ted.com] but when I’m sick I still want an expert to take a look, to diagnose and to treat me. I want someone who trained for years to understand how the human body works, continues to keep up with advances and is certified to apply that knowledge. The human body is magic to me, because I don’t have the knowledge. How is it that people can think a random talking head on the Internet knows better than almost all the trained doctors and medical researchers in the world? People are drinking bleach! Or worse making their autistic kids drink Clorox like Kool Aid in Jonestown.
Do you remember, before the Internet, that it was thought that the cause of collective stupidity was the lack of access to information? Yea… It wasn’t that.
I can’t find a source to cite for that, I’ve seen different versions of the theme on the internet many times over the past few years, it seems appropriate. But we did know, or some people knew, that the idea, in the early days of the Internet, that access to information would make everyone smarter, was bullshit. We were warned:
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
Isaac Asimov, “A Cult of Ignorance”, Newsweek (21 January 1980) (more about it on Open Culture [openculture.net])
This thread of anti-intellectualism is the direct parent of the disrespect, and hostility, towards “experts” on display today. And there does seem to be something fundamental about it as it affects people on both sides of the political spectrum, liberal anti-vaxxers and conservative anti-maskers alike, rich hollywood stars and struggling middle class workers, and don’t get me started on flat-earthers. Ignorance, individualism and the internet are a potent brew.
I don’t know where to go from here, I don’t know how it can be fixed but I suspect it will take many experts…