A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Industrial

Port Kembla, circa 1982

Sunset at Port Kembla, circa 1982

The Word A Week Photo challenge is done by “A Word In Your Ear” (http://wp.me/1pmcV). Check out her blog, great photos and stories.


Privacy – A Paradise Lost

Who’s watching you?
Image courtesy of: http://www.computerworld.com.au

Lets just get it out there – these days there is nowhere to hide, no privacy.

This is a story of the 21st century. We don’t need 20th century ideas like Kim Jong-il and Big Brother. All we need is our friends and neighbours. Or perhaps ex-friends.

Here’s the first scenario: you are careful to protect your identity when on-line. You read Terms and Conditions closely. You make a decision NOT to join Facebook because you feel that their T&C’s are just wrong and don’t like the morality of their founder and the way they seem to do business and not look after your privacy.

With those web services you do join you are careful and circumspect with the personal information you give. While not being deceitful when real personal information is required, you take care to limit what is provided so that tracking you, or finding out who you are in the real world is not as easy as it might otherwise be. For example, when a photo of you is required you use one that your friends would recognise as you but would make it difficult for a stranger to spot you on the street.

You know that in the world of Facebook  there are 1 billion users and of those some will be crooks on the prowl. This is not being paranoid, this is just adopting a sensible 21st century mindset.

But then the defences crumble. And they crumble quite innocently and non malevolently. Someone has posted a picture of you on Facebook (or possibly some other web facility). The photo is not of you exactly – rather a group photo at some function or event but with a clear and full frontal view of you – and tagged your name to it.

In one short moment so much of your caution and care has been blown and put to waste. There are also other important issues such as with Facebook, they now claim ownership of the photo and you may never be irretrievably untagged. It is possible (although agreed, unlikely) that it could be used for widespread advertising or whatever else Facebook wishes.

But what if the photo was yours to begin with and a copy given to others at the function – the unspoken intent being for personal use. You still own it, but anything like group photos are quite likely to be passed on sooner or later, even if it is a breach of copyright. As a digital file you have no idea of where it could be sent and therefore who might end up posting it on the web, or for what reason – even if innocent. Once someone posts it onto Facebook their T&C’s say that they, Facebook, now own it, even though it wasn’t the poster’s to give away.

I understand that Facebook allows one to force a third party to untag you from photos, but to do so requires you having a Facebook account in the first place, and presumably in a version of your name identical to the tagging.

If you do not know the photo has been posted and do not know the person who posted it, or for relationship reasons do not wish to contact that person, then the only option is to live with the privacy breach.

Welcome to the modern world.

The second scenario is this: you are in your backyard, sunbathing scantily clad, or perhaps doing a bit of gardening without your designer trackkies on. Although you are surrounded by solid, high fences, you notice that there is a camera pointed at you from the side of your neighbours house.

Based on a radio program I have just heard, here in NSW Australia at least, it is not a crime to erect a “security” camera and direct it into a neighbours backyard.

Similarly, even if there are rules regarding the flying of drones there are apparently no controls on the use of it by someone to observe what is going on in your backyard, if operated by an individual. This has actually happened recently in Mollymook.

Needless to say I think anyone would count either of these as invasive. Certainly it is inconsistent as I believe that here in NSW it is actually illegal to use a camera on a beach – or at least there are laws covering how a camera can be used on a beach – just to protect people’s privacy.

Image courtesy of: protect.iu.edu

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home


Being born in New Zealand, a part of me will always belong there, but I have lived in Australia now for more than half my life, so that is where I call home.

I still remember an eerie, uncanny sense of un-ease for months, actually years, after I first moved here. I always felt somewhat unsettled when outside and wanted to go inside or under trees or something. It took a long time before I recognised that I even had this feeling and longer still until I realised what it was.

It was caused by a sense of vulnerability or exposure to something. Yes, part of that was my pale, freckly Nordic skin panicking at the harsh Australian sun, but there was much more to it than that. The feelings were caused by the sky. There is a reason this is called Big Sky country.

I’d grown up in a young, folded land, where shade and hills  were never out of sight; where a primal sense of available shelter was always with you. Where the sun was your friend, not a seering foe to be reckoned with.

The photo above was taken on one of my road trips in Australia and captures the sense of a big sky – for me at least, which is my sense of what distinguishes Australia. This may not be the only place with big sky, but big sky is Australia.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique


0989   Norway 2003 - 1782

It is ironic that with a theme of “Unique” I should have a picture so similar to the one Michele used as a stimulus for this theme. I give myself latitude in using it as it was taken in 2003 – about 9 years before Michele’s, and in Bergen, Norway, not the USA. When I saw this small flower bed with the super high, different coloured Tulip it did indeed stimulate all the emotions and thoughts that were aroused in Michele – which is also why I took the photo!

However it also provided me with further thought. In Australia we have this thing, or at least we often beat ourselves up thinking we have this thing, that we call the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. I am not sure if this exists anywhere else, but it is where the masses desire the successful standouts to be brought down, for no apparent reason other than they dare to standout.

Mind you, there may be a reason for this sentiment, with so many of the successful businessmen of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s being crooks, shonks or at least exploitative and unpleasant people. But then, maybe that is what it takes to get ahead in business in the first place…


Mixed Messages

Why can’t everyone be more like me? I’m rational (mostly), somewhat intelligent, and simply ooze good taste. Surely I make a good template for everyone else.
It seems that no-one has ever told anyone what everyone should know. And do.
Some things happen automatically. Like when I talk to you in English, you reply in English. Not German. Not French. And certainly not in Mandarin, even if it is spoken by nearly half the world’s population.
So why do people have so much trouble with this concept in the modern media?

When it comes to organising events, I speak Outlook invite. Now whatever you may think of Microsoft, in Outlook they have made a great tool for managing events and people’s attendance thereat. If there should be an issue understanding the invite “dialect”, then surely the obvious response is to revert to the mother tongue – email.

Sure there always has been and probably always will be those that just don’t respond, simply because they are the centre of the Universe. We work with these. They require our special attention until the whitecoats catch up with them.

But what is it that prompts others to respond via SMS, phone call, or, shock horror, in person. Maybe a couple of decades ago I might have been capable of keeping all that information in my head, but now…
Give me Outlook, please.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

A display somewhere in Copenhagen

3 Pillars of Love: Music, Cupid and Poetry

This week’s photo challenge was difficult for me. It made me realise how much my photography has focused on scenes or things, rather than people, their lives and their emotions. There were a few photos I could have used for “Love” which were nice to look at, but they were very clichéd, and therefore also uncannily boring.

The photo I have chosen, while symbolising love, is lifeless and dull, not like love at all. However it also encompasses, with that very detachedness, my approach to photography in the past. It therefore serves as a reminder or lesson to me to be more open to people and “life”. And that is probably one of the best outcomes of love anyway.


Welkam tu Norfuk Aislen

For someone who feels the need of a hermetic envelope when travelling pretty much anywhere, Norfolk Island is a bit of a relief, – nearly. With temperatures ranging typically between 19 and 25 (degrees C) I’m almost tempted to say its perfect. Almost, that is, because this Eleysian field comes with an average humidity of about 70%!
Thankfully there is an almost permanent breeze, even wind.
Speaking of wind, there is another aspect of life on this island that appeals to the awkward traveller in me: – the public toilets. It has been a long time since I visited a public loo comprising a real/normal toilet, complete with a seat, a handbasin with soap AND paper towels!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond


Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

The really good thing about briefs like “Beyond” is that one can interpret them in an almost infinite number of ways. The idea of “Beyond” could be applied to a very large array of pictures – depending only on your ability to conjure a suitable story linking the photo to the idea of Beyond.
In this case I have chosen a picture allowing me to interpret the brief quite simply. Showing both the sun and rain falling BEYOND the horizon, this photo makes me wonder what life is like and what is happening BEYOND my horizons.

Girl on Girl: Grunters vs Screamers

Tonight we will be treated to a real spectacle. Good old girl on girl action. There is guaranteed to be a lot of grunting and screaming, so this begs the question: do you go for the grunter or the screamer?

I am of course referring to the Australian Open Tennis match between Maria Sharapova (aka The Screamer) and Serena Williams (aka The Grunter). No matter what the scoreline, our ears will be the winners. That is, if you are in to loud, animalistic screeching endlessly for the duration of the match.

Whatever else these two women have done for tennis, they will both be remembered for the near constant stream of struggle they make us all endure. Instead of watching the tennis we listen to it. Unfortunately, for me at least, it is not a pretty thing. Although I am not averse to girl on girl action, and am rather partial to the odd grunt and scream, I will be watching this particular show with the sound off.

The Astrophysicists Guide To A Party

You are new in town and were lucky to score an invite to a party. This is your big chance to break into the local scene, but whom should you try to connect with? Lets take the astrophysicists view of the social universe.

The first thing you might notice is that the room is broken into groups of people which we’ll call galaxies. There is obviously more opportunity for finding your best place in the largest galaxy as there are more people to interact with. Aim for there. Do not get distracted by the brightly shining star wandering about, she is about to inflate, explode and become a red dwarf.

At the centre of each galaxy there is a supermassive black hole. Whilst highly stable and relatively immobile these people are soul destroyers, as they radiate such a strong influence that most of us have no chance of escaping them let alone competing with them. If you get too close and cross their event horizon, you will not have enough additional gravitas to have any influence on your similarly captivated neighbours or anyone else in the galaxy.

Best to take a tangential path to these supermassive black holes so that you can use their energy to thrust you into contact with other heavenly bodies, whilst not getting absorbed by them.

If the galaxy is big enough you will notice some clustering occuring. At the centre of each cluster is a Sun. Suns attract many localised bodies that have not yet crossed the supermassive black hole’s event horizon and are therefore available for your influence. A sun is what you aim to be. While supermassive black holes just swallow everything that comes near, suns allow other lesser bodies (planets) to happily co-exist and even (almost) compete, collecting satellites of their own (moons).

However if you just turn up as a roving fully formed star, you will disturb existing clusters and may spiral with one or more other stars. When this happens, it is usual for one star to be ejected from the cluster and galaxy. It is not very predictable which star will win and the effect it will have on the planets and moons, so it is best to avoid this strategy. A better strategy is to become a star.

One becomes a star firstly by picking a group of unclassified people because one needs a critical mass with no existing sun or black hole. Then you move into their midst and radiate a little personality. Once this personality influences nearby bodies they will give you some attention. A wave of attention giving will radiate away from you and all that attention will allow you to shine. You are now a star!

Some people to be aware of are the asteroids and the comets. These people are not desirable but need not be the destroyers they might sound. Comets are actually harmless but might not seem so initially. Comets come floating in from some distant location putting on a good display as they come. The good news is that you can see them coming from a long way off and they will leave just as they come if you do nothing to intercept them. They are all show with little substance. Best just to let them come and wait for them to leave.

Asteroids are a different story. You often wont see them coming until its too late and they are about to collide with you. Unfortunately there is no avoiding the asteroid once it has entered your system. Fortunately they are smaller, usually, than even the smallest moon and are self destructive. With this in mind the best strategy for handling the asteroid is just to continue being the same sun, planet or moon you were before their appearance and bear the impact with as much grace as possible.

Afterwards the other bodies in your system can admire the character the impact has given you, whilst seeing that essentially you are unchanged.

Sometimes there are unseen forces at play in a gathering. These are respectively Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Essentially these two have opposite effects. Dark Matter seems to hold groups of people together despite the obvious strong attraction of nearby Suns. There is no known reason for this phenomenon, but it is suspected that it is due to the unrecognisable attraction of a member of the group.

Dark Energy is the force that results in a gathering breaking up. The effect of Dark Energy becomes evident after it is well entrenched, but by this stage its power is overwhelming and there is no fighting it. Even supermassive blackholes are eventually victim to it. Its presence can be detected early by the astute observer by noticing the surreptitious but growing departure of individuals. After a while, the Dark Energy generated flow grows from a trickle to a flood of people and eventually, apparently suddenly, all remaining people leave at once.

With this information you are now equipped to attend any function and assume your rightful place amongst the stars!