Archive for May, 2007

Lincoln’s Assassin

May 31, 2007

Lincoln’s Assassin, originally uploaded by naughton321. View larger.

This is an early police mugshot. Lewis Thornton Powell (also known as Lewis Paine or Payne) was one of the people rounded up for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14th 1865. He was subsequently executed for his involvement in the conspiracy.

I think it is an incredible photo, and so strange that it looks so comtemporary – it could almost come out of a modern fashion magazine for men.

Click here for more on Lincoln’s assassination.

Melvin Van Peebles

May 31, 2007

A portrait of the maverick film director Melvin Van Peebles, originally uploaded by Hannah from England. Photo taken by Hannah’s friend, Jean-Luc Guerin. Larger version here.

This from NNDB:

Melvin Van Peebles says he was disgusted more than “inspired” to make films — disgusted by not seeing any representations of black people on screen that seemed at all like black people he knew in life. Generally thought of as a film director, Van Peebles is also a screenwriter, actor, composer, playwright, novelist, and painter. He was the first African-American to work as a trader on Wall Street, and later started his own investment firm.

More on Van Peebles here.

Down the Aisle

May 31, 2007

Dianne – Cashier, Victoria Mart, originally uploaded by Paul Gosney.

A lovely slice of Australian life. Paul says ‘Dianne has been a cashier in the Victoria Mart, Kings Cross, Sydney, Australia, for 18 years’.

You wouldn’t get anyone looking like this working in Tesco or Wal-Mart these days. More’s the pity. Here’s to the pink rinse brigade.

Holy Water

May 30, 2007

Banho Santo, originally uploaded by Paulgi.

Larger version here.

This is one of my firm favourites on Flickr because, like all really good documentary photographs, it has a story behind it that sets off the image.

The author provides these notes:

The traditional festival in São Bartolomeu do Mar (Portugal), occurs throughout August and culminates on the 24th with the famous ‘Banho Santo’ (Holy Bath), which the locals believe has the power to protect children’s health and alleviate sickness.

It looks like it’s a slightly more joyous experience for the man than it is for the boy!

Beastie Behaviour

May 30, 2007

Mental as Anything, originally uploaded by dreadfuldan.

A larger version here.

Simply the best photo I have ever seen of the moment it ‘all goes off’, to use the vernacular de nos jours. According to the pic’s author, the song Sabotage by the Beastie Boys had just come on and ‘the people on the dancefloor were rather excited’.

Here’s the You Tube version of the Sabotage experience. And remember – if it’s too loud, you’re too old.

I think I’m on the cusp. Or maybe I should just face up to it – I’m too old.

Travelling without Moving

May 30, 2007

Sunrise over Bagan, originally uploaded by David Haberlah.

My brother is on a six-month jaunt around the world at the moment. He’s currently in Argentina. Then he’s off to South-East Asia for a bit, then on to India and who knows where.

I envy him, of course, and I dream of doing the same someday soon – accompanied by a fancy camera to record my adventures.

In the interim, I can dream of the sun rising over Bagan and believe – just for a fleeting moment – that I am actually there, watching the balloons drift away through the early morning haze.

A larger version here.

Being Human

May 29, 2007

Dreamer, originally uploaded by True_Bavarian. Larger version here.

What defines our human ‘beingness’? Is it in our DNA? Or our ability to communicate information and ideas? To form complex social structures? To make and use tools? To master fire? To write? To play Pac-Man?

There’s a fascinating debate going on in primate circles. At the heart of it is a little-known species of ape called the Bonobo and an incredible woman called Susan Savage-Rumbaugh. Wild Bonobos are found only in the Congo and are perilously close to extinction. They are not kept in zoos because their sexual behaviour is so close to our own that they are deemed unsuitable for public display. They are as close to Lucy as we are ever likely to find alive – more upright than chimps and more human than gorillas.

Savage-Rumbaugh explains her central thesis:

There are many people who think that the animal world is hard-wired and that there is something very special about Man. Maybe it’s his ability to have causal thought, or something special in his brain that allows him to have language, make tools or develop mathematics.

Well, I don’t know. There were Tasmanians who were discovered around the 1600s and they had no fire, they had no stone tools, to our knowledge they had no music. So, when you compare them to the Bonobo, the Bonobo is a little hairier, he doesn’t stand quite as upright – but there are a lot of similarities.

As we look at culture, we come to understand how we got to where we are. And I don’t really think it’s in our biology. I think that we have attributed it to our biology – but I don’t think it’s really there.

She has been interacting with these amazing animals for many years and knows more about what makes them tick than anyone on the planet. She has taught them to understand human language, light fires, drive golf carts and yes, you guessed it – even to play Pac-Man.

Prepare to be amazed as you watch this brief lecture on video.

The Road to Damascus

May 29, 2007

Port Said, originally uploaded by TwOsE.

This image by Pablo Twose Valls is, according to the author, a super-imposition of two photographs. The scene is a composite of an old Roman road in Damascus, now protected beneath an awning that creates wonderful, diagonal shards of light.

It has a really beautiful feel to it. In fact, until I translated the Spanish caption from his original Flickr post using Altavista’s Babelfish, I thought it was one photo!

A bigger version here.