Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On that nodescript Buenos Aires photograph

There is a certain art to putting together a post like this. You don't necessarily post your "best" photos, and you certainly don't post images of the sorts of things commenter "Raul" mentions (all of which I did take photographs of) because a post could equally well be compiled by buying 20 picture postcards and scanning them will not be a very interesting post. If I do post a classic "picture postcard" image, then that probably indicates that (for whatever reason) I had relatively few pictures to choose from for that destination. Of course, I did post one of Argentina's classic "picture postcard" images two photos below, but I allocated it to Brazil (which is fair, as I was in Brazil when I took it and the foreground is in Brazil). As it happens, I spent most of three weeks in Argentina, took around 2000 photographs, and I had considerably more photographs to choose from than any other country on the list, and it took me a long time to decide what to post. I toyed with re-using this photograph that I took near Tunayan in Mendoza province (in which amongst other things I like the fact that what initially appears to be clouds in the background is actually the Andes and this becomes clear when you take a second look). Then I thought of posting this photograph of Santiago Calatrava's footbridge in Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, but it would have been the second structure designed by the same architect in the post, plus I don't think it really captures as much of the spirit of the city as I would have liked. Then I thought of showing the great arched trainshed at Estacion Retiro (with its interesting contradiction that one of the greatest railway stations in the world hosts very few trains) but didn't quite have the right photo, and I had already posted another railway station. Then I thought of perhaps showing some of the beautiful riverside buildings and bridges at Tigre, but that was slightly too close to picture postcard territory, although the very Englishness of some of the buildings would have given it an interesting twist. Then I thought of showing a picture of the memorial to the dead of the 1981 war, but I conluded it was too sombre (and whatever it is, Buenos Aires is not a sombre city). Then I thought about my first morning in Buenos Aires. After a very tiring flight from Madrid the previous evening and a night's sleep, I stumbled from my hotel the next morning, and just about the first thing I saw was an ice cream shop named after the Malvinas. A thought of "okay...." went through my mind, and I took my first photograph of the trip. Definitely, though, the rules I have set myself as to how many photographs I post to posts like this do serve countries like Argentina (and the US, which got very short shrift last year) badly. The rule is essentially "One photograph for each country I visit on each absence from England". Thus a country I visit for three weeks gets one photograph, as does a visit to a border town for an afternoon. In South America I spent two days in Chile, less than one day in each of Brazil and Uruguay, and three weeks in Argentina (where I of course had a wonderful time) and the four countries get one photograph each.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Life milestones

My application for British citizenship has just been approved. I am not a British national yet, as I have to attend a ceremony and swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen first. I already owe allegiance to the same Queen wearing a different hat (or should it be crown), but this does not count. As I have just moved, the ceremony will be one held by Wandsworth council and not Tower Hamlets council. This is kind of a shame, as I suspect the Tower Hamlets ceremony might have been slightly more colourful.

This does not affect my Australian citizenship, although Australian law was only changed to allow Australians who took out foreign citizenship to keep their Australian citizenship in 2002 (*). It does not affect my right to live in the UK, which I had already, and it does not give me any additional voting rights, as I have had full voting rights since the moment I moved here. (Britain gives full voting rights to citizens of all Commonwealth countries resident in the UK. When I was student here, I rather weirdly had the right to vote or indeed to become Prime Minister, without having any right to work or to live here for more than a short finite period).

Where it does help me is that it means that if I want to leave the UK in the future and come back, I will have voting rights while I am away and the unconditional right to return, whereas the type of permanent residency I had ("Indefinite leave to remain") can be lost after two years absence. Also, as an EU citizen I will have treaty rights that I do not have now, including the right to live and work anywhere in the EU (and in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein under other treaties). If I ever want to (say) retire to Portugal, I now can.

And of course I can get in the short queue at British airports.

The one thing I shall lose is my right to stand for federal Parliament and/or become Prime Minister of Australia, as the Australian constitution forbids anyone who holds foreign citizenship from taking a seat in parliament. I could still theoretically stand for one of the Australian state parliaments, although heaven forbid that I would want to do such a thing ("You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy...").

(*) Curiously, dual Australian/other citizenship was allowed prior to that in all other cases, including allowing foreigners who were naturalised as Australians to keep their foreign citizenship, and in cases where people got combinations of Australian citizenship and some other through birth. Everyone recognised that the situation was anomalous, both political parties were in favour of changing the law, and yet somehow governments failed to get around to changing it. It was to be voted on soon when Labor was voted out in 1996, but the new government (despite theoretically supporting the change) decided to set up a new commission to investigate the matter etc etc which ultimately reached exactly the same conclusions as the previous one, and then finally managed to change the law in 2002. In the mean time, enforcement of the previous law had been changed somewhat. The previous law had allowed anyone who had lost Australian citizenship upon taking out foreign citizenship to apply to resume their citizenship, if they would have suffered "significant hardship or disadvantage" if they had not taken out foreign citizenship. By the time the law was changed, having to spend time in the long non-EU nationals queue at a British airport was considered a "significant hardship".

Actually, having spent a lot of time in such queues (particularly at Stansted on Sunday nights) I do rather see the point.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stockholm, Sweden. May 24

This photograph was taken at 2.30am. I am far enough north that there is natural light in the sky, even at that time. The fast lens and big sensor makes it look a little brighter than with the naked eye, but it is still something that the more equatorial of us are not used to.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This is starting to be a good effort

Iguaza Falls, Argentina. May 14.

The fuzziness at the top right of my head is the haze from the waterfall, which is a long distance behind me. It causes an interesting optical effect, doesn't it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

This is Argentina

Imagine you go on a tour of a winery in Argentina. Imagine that they split the group, and there is one tour guide speaking Spanish and one speaking English. Imagine that you are the only Anglophone on the tour, and therefore the English speaking guide gives you a one on one tour. Imagine also that the English speaking guide looks like this.

Imagine also that you have a longstanding weakness for Latin women with black hair and brown eyes. I assure you, the whole experience is like having a bullet fired through the forehead.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Perceptions can stick

It is certainly true that I have a history of being a cricket obsessive, although I have become disillusioned with the sport a little bit in recent months. This is perhaps why, despite what Alan Little posts, and despite requests from Brian Micklethwait for analysis, I don't think I have even mentioned the Indian Premier League on the web, and I have barely mentioned it in person to anyone. My disillusion is perhaps partly responsible for this lack of excitement. Perhaps also I have just been distracted by my own life.

Simple summary of the state of affairs. Does the rise of the IPL indicate the end of the cricket world as we know it? Very probably yes. Is this a good thing? Very probably yes also, although I would prefer they were playing a longer form of the game rather than the 20 over silliness. Do I have the inclination to research and write about this in detail at the moment? In truth, no.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Munich, Germany. April 14

Update: In case Brian has caused anybody to wonder, the building is the Haus der Kunst, which was built for propaganda purposes by the Nazis between 1934 and 1937 as a museum for what they saw as wholesome, non-decadent (ie bad) German art. It is still used as an art museum, but these days it has a nightclub in the basement.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Well done me, I think

I received a letter from my ISP the other day, telling me that I had breached the "reasonable use policy" on my "unlimited" plan. They did this the right way. It was a polite letter pointing the policy out, stating that according to their terms they could throttle my connection in peak periods or disconnect me, but stating that they would prefer to do neither and asking me to reduce my usage. My response to the letter will be to, indeed, reduce my usage.

Still, there something absurd about a world in which "unlimited" means that there actually is a limit, but that we will not tell you what it is until you breach it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Another good thing about the K850i is the built in accelerometer. It doesn't use it nearly as well on the whole as does the iPhone, but for moblogging it is a godsend. Unlike with the K800i, for which uploaded photographs with the wrong orientation can be a serious problem, this phone remembers how you were holding it when you took a photograph. The photograph is therefore always uploaded to your blog with the correct orientation

Bath. April 5

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

London, April 1.

The K850i still has issues with the white balance, I fear.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Just out of interest

I upgraded my phone in January, and all the photos posted to this blog this year have been taken with a Sony-Ericsson K850i rather than a K800i. This has a 5 Megapixel rather than a 3.2 Megapixel camera. I think the quality is quite lot better. The new camera handles low light and shots with flash much better than the old one.

Sadly, though, I think the phone may have gone backwards in other ways. Sony-Ericsson fixed the two most annoying things about the K800i: the lens cover that came open in your pocket and the SIM slot under the battery. However, they messed around with the user interface and controls on the main keyboard. This is a shame, given that this was the area in which the K800i was right the first time. This is annoying, and I think it means the K850i is not going to be quite as successful as the K800i (which was a huge hit). Shame

A camera in my phone that is good enough for day to day photography needs for web publishing has been a holy grail of mine for a while. I don't carry a dedicated camera everywhere, but I do take a phone. this desire on my part has led to me upgrading phones a good deal more often than I would have otherwise, which is probably what the phone manufacturers want. I'm still not there, but I might only be a couple of more phones away. 5 Megapixels is plenty - it is all about sensor quality now. (Actually I am aware that it has been all about sensor quality for several phones now, yes). There are one or two phones available now with optical zooms, although I am not sure how important that is. I guess I will see next upgrade.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

Saturday, February 02, 2008

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