I had never heard of Tristan da Cunha

I am currently sitting on a boat, wallowing in a south Atlantic ocean swell, five cables off the rocky coastline of the most isolated, permanently-populated island in the world.

My fellow passengers have just landed and I swear a few moments ago, through powerful binoculars, I saw my wife waving to me from a sheep-filled meadow.

But I am pinioned here on deck six of the motor yacht Corinthian II, prevented from landing by a very large policeman.

Twenty-four years ago I wrote a few rather innocent-sounding lines in a book and in consequence I have been banned – apparently for life – from the island that lies forbidden before me; the tiny British colonial possession of Tristan da Cunha.

This begins Wallowing of the coast of Tristan, a report that I heard this morning on the BBC. It was a pretty interesting look at a very out of the way place from the perspective of a writer whose great sin that incurred the wrath of the island’s elders was to quote from another book about a secret affair of the heart.

Wikipedia sez that Tristan da Cunha has just one settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas and is regarded as the most remote permanent settlement in the world, being over 1,500 miles (2400 kilometres) from the nearest human settlement, on Saint Helena (where Napolean was imprisoned).

About the photo: Bruno Dr. Sanchez-Andrade Nuno a lot of photos from the January 2009 eclipse and information about them on his January 26 Eclipse blog.  This particular photo was taken by Leo  writes that he climbed up to the “Base”, the mountain surrounding the village and was later able to send these via internet, which arrived on the island about 2 years ago (probably providing a welcome alternative to their one TV station).

VBS.tv. Like TV, only with poor impulse control

Laughing North Korean soldiers by nataliebehring.com

This blog is called farlane.blog, but it relies a lot on shadowy figures, especially the one who passed me a link to VBS.tv, specifically their series on North Korea. You can start at Episode 1: The South’s DMZ. The link to #2 sent me to a video of Manila’s mega-dump and the people who live there , so click around if you go to the wrong one of their many shows. They say:

VBS is an online broadcast network. We stream original content, free of charge and 24 hours a day. We carry a mix of domestic and international news, pop and underground culture coverage, and the best music in the world. People have used words like eclectic, smart, funny, shocking, and revolutionary to describe VBS, but we kind of just snapped our fingers in their faces and went, “Whatever. Tell us something we don’t know.”

With Academy Award-nominated director Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) as our creative director, original content from a veritable United Nations of contributors, and bureaus in 20 countries, VBS has hit the planet in a manner not unlike a massive global plague. Streaming on VBS’s signature “in-room” widescreen and remote, content will be available all the time, on-demand.

Basically, VBS will exploit every utopian vision the internet has thus far failed to live up to.

For more of an an idea of who they are and where they plan to go, watch their video mission statement. (the web designer in me is also wowed by their interface)

About the Photo: It’s titled Laughing North Korean soldiers and it’s part of a very cool photo set A glimpse of North Korea (slideshow) by photojournalist Natalie Behring. Natalie is based in China and has photos from all over that you should check out through chinapix at Flickr or www.nataliebehring.com.


murray bike

My college roommate Ken and I just launched a new site called betsiebay.net. Betsie Bay is in Frankfort (mouth of the Betsie River) and we’re going to try and tell the stories of the area roughly from Manistee to Leelanau to Traverse City. I’m excited because we’re going to be using more video and photos and I already write way more than I can handle.

The photo is by me, the bike is Ken’s, and I’d love it if you’d check out the site and tell me what you think For those of you who have wondered just what I look like, there’s a video of Ken & I introducing the site over there (you may have to click the “Welcome” link if you’re coming to this in the future).

Born again … in a manner of speaking

State Theatre Born Again III

I was contacted by a US government publication who wanted to use this photo. I didn’t think much of the original, so I decided to bump it around in photoshop. I found it pretty cool how a picture that made me yawn was transformed into something that captured a little of the energy and pop of the very cool Traverse City Film Festival (July 31 – Aug 5, 2007, annually thereafter).

My digital photography ethic has been to try and do all the work with the camera. I think that may be changing.

Feeding the Commons

Jumping the sun on the salt flats

As I was wandering the tangled tubes of the internet this morning, I stopped at Capital Viewpoint, a blog about one of my passions, Michigan politics. I recently re-stumbled upon StumbleUpon, so I dutifully hit the “I like it” button in my toolbar.

It struck me that this simple and almost reflexive act was like giving a lost visitor directions, planting a tree, picking up a piece of trash or any of the 10,000 other things one does to enhance a community they love. Every day the web sprawls larger. Much of it is meaningless information created to look like meaningful information – piles of copies that obscure what is good. It seems to me that it’s a good thing whenever/however all of us can take a moment where we can to make a mark, pay a compliment or call out something to others.

This photo is titled “Jumping the sun on the salt flats” and was taken on the saltflats of Uyunu, Bolivia. Wikipedia says that the Salar de Uyuni are the largest salt flats in the world – 25 times bigger than Bonneville. The photographer, Lars Kristian Schjønhaug, is from Trondheim (about which I now know 100% more). To my encyclopedic knowledge that Trondheim is a city the Vikings in Civilization will build, I can now add the fact that fall is beautiful there as well.

PS: There was some pretty cool stuff on Salar de Uyuni including a note that Internet phenomenonWhere the Hell is Matt?” danced there. He does, it’s the first one. He also was sent a pretty cool video, included below.