Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog
PoliticalSaturday, June 25th, 2016, (8:05 pm)

I’m no longer a European! After the “Brexit” referendum, Great Britain has somehow managed to make itself into more of an island and less “Great” than ever… if you ask me.

Some old duffer with a UKIP banner

I haven’t blogged on here because I am blogging every day this year over at 366 Pictures. However, I wanted to return here just to express my shock and disappointment that the UK has decided, by a small majority, to divorce itself from Europe.

The vote seems to have been carried by the “grey-heads” and people who seem to rattle on endlessly about immigration for reasons that I have yet to understand.

It wasn’t all down to the oldies though. One of my friends said that he was “delighted” with the result of the referendum because he wants to see an end to the “uncontrolled exodus from Eastern Europe” to the shores of the Britain. Ironically though in the past he lived in another European country for a while, and he says he wants to do so again. I wonder, would he classify himself as an “immigrant” in that case, or an “ex-pat?”

While I am sure that many people have sound reasons for wanting to exit the EU, I can’t help but think that many of those who voted in favor of the divorce, did so out of thinly-veiled racism.

How did immigration become such a talking point in this referendum when it seems that the issue isn’t actually one that any clear position has been stated by any of the powers that be? And what do those who want to see an end to the “tidal wave of immigrants” think is going to happen? Do they think that people from EU countries who are living in the UK will be summarily rounded up and sent back to Europe?

I am very concerned that the word immigration now seems to be a incendiary word capable of bringing out the ugly side of so many people who disguise hateful racist fears under a flag of national pride.

U.S. Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, has endorsed the exit vote in what I think is a chilling preview of what might be to come in the coming election in the United States. Trump unashamedly whips up fear and racism with comments that it seems only excite his supporters. His tactic of using controversial claims and outright falsehoods has put him in a head to head fight for the White House, with facts playing second fiddle to fiction.

The so-called “Brexit” (and I REALLY hate that term) referendum seemed rife with the same problems. Facts and figures were set aside for fear mongering and misinformation served with a familiar dose of racism dressed up as “national pride.”

EU passport. Not anymore!So now I am no longer a European, despite what my passport says on the cover. I’m not sure what effect this will have on my life, though as someone who lives overseas, I can tell you that today I am not happy the British Pounds I have in the my UK bank and now worth significantly less as I spend them. Other effects will take longer to see and experience, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Time will tell if it was a mistake or not.

I tend to think that this referendum was won by selling a soup of fear and misinformation to the public and getting them to vote on a single issue, rather than truly understanding the wider question. Maybe that’s just the game of modern politics, in which case, I think our friends across the Atlantic might want to ready themselves for President Trump!

I’m blogging over at 366 Pictures this year – though I am really behind with that right now. I will catch up though, so please check it out, even if you voted for Brexit, I’ll still love you over there :-)

Photography and TravelThursday, December 31st, 2015, (9:20 am)

Back in 2012 I embarked on what I thought was a minor photography project of publishing one picture taken that day. 366 Pictures turned out to be anything but a minor project, and perhaps against my better judgement, I’ve decided to do it again next year, which of course starts tomorrow!

366 Pictures 2016

This is a very last minute decision, and hopefully one that I won’t regret! At times doing 366 pictures was exhausting. My travel itinerary that year was grueling. I travelled to 20 countries around the world, with the hardest stretch being 10 countries in 100 days, spending ten days in each country.

Along the way I had a few disasters, the worst of which was losing my passport in Japan, or so I thought. I actually found it in a hidden pocket in my luggage at the end of the project as I packed my case in New Zealand to return to Australia. (Seriously, I really did look hard for it! Losing it changed the entire itinerary!) But all of those minor catastrophes were eclipsed by the experience of really being engaged with every single day of that year.

So, I’ve decided to do it again! Just as in 2012, I have no real idea of what the itinerary is. It’s going to follow a rough plan, but where I’ll go, and what I’ll do, that’s unknown.

I’m going to hurriedly try and review the current site over the next few days, and I’ll probably archive it to make way for the new material. Like I say, this is all very last minute so give me a few days to get up to speed on this.

I really hope you’ll come along for the ride. I’ll do my best to try and have a little more social media interaction on the site too. Head over to 366pictures.com and start following me there.

I will also be launching the first season of 5 Minutes of Somewhere in 2016 too. Probably February, but we’ll have to see how that goes.

I hope 2016 will be another amazing year, and I hope it will also be amazing for you too.

Happy New Year everyone!

GeneralFriday, December 25th, 2015, (9:00 am)

Christmas Card 2015

And a Happy New Year too! :-)

GeneralTuesday, December 22nd, 2015, (6:00 pm)

It’s Christmas time again, and while for the last few years that has usually meant hot summer days for me in Australia or New Zealand, this year I am spending Christmas in Paris. So with the season in mind, I decided to take a look at a few alternatives ideas and innovations on our beloved Christmas tree, surely the essential component in any Christmas decorations.

Christmas Trees

Back when I used to live in the UK I had a Christmas tree that stood at about about knee height. It came pre-decorated and just needed to be taken out of the box and plugged in. It was quick and simple and required no effort or imagination. Perfect for me because while I love Christmas, I’m not a big fan of time consuming decorating.

Christmas Trees

When I was a kid, before my sister fiercely took over decorating the Christmas tree as a task only she was allowed to perform, my Mom and Dad used to do the honors. The house would fill with the smell of the pine needles that would herald the beginning of another holiday season.

Dad would decorate the rest of the house while we were upstairs in bed, and thats when I would learn all those wonderfully fizzy swear words that I’d hear him saying as the paper lanterns he carefully pinned to the ceiling would fall down one by one.

I’m glad we had a real tree. I like the trendy and imaginative alternatives, but a tree made of books, bottles, or palm tree leaves doesn’t have the same aroma as those giant trees I used to sit by as I tried to guess the contents of the presents beneath its needles branches.

Christmas Trees

Of course, there are many alternative ways to create a Christmas tree. Just the other day I saw a giant tree made entirely of disney character soft toys. As much as I like a real Christmas tree, I also like alternative Christmas trees that show a flare of imagination.

Christmas Trees

Weirdly enough, Christmas always seems to be a time when good taste can be briefly put aside. People take pride in doing terrible things to the outside of their homes with fairy lights and displays of electrical nonsense that would be almost unforgivable at any other time of the year. But what about the taste violations taking place inside homes across the land?

A friend of mine once proudly displayed a large pink and glittering Christmas tree that twinkled like the sparkles on drag-queens make-up. But even that cannot compete with the terrible rainbow Christmas tree that has surely caused as many gasps of horror as it has delight.

Christmas Trees

In my own apartment I tended to go for a more low budget approach to Christmas trees. But low budget doesn’t mean low imagination as these budget Christmas trees show us.

Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees

Then again, some people are just lazy!

Christmas Trees

However, there is always that showy person in your neighborhood who has to create something so absolutely ostentatious that people come from miles around to see it. Like this example of the most over the top Christmas tree I have ever seen, and it’s right here in Paris.

I mean come on, did it really need the search lights on the top?

Christmas Trees

Creative Media and TravelTuesday, December 8th, 2015, (5:00 pm)

So I have this idea I want to run by you. I want your opinion, your honest opinion, about a podcast idea I have. You can leave those opinions in the comments section, and really, I do want to hear what you have to say.

5 minutes of somewhere

So lets start with a little background. Back in 1999 I recorded an ‘online radio’ series called ‘Reality Radio.’ This was before the days of podcasting and iTunes. I used a handheld tape recorder to capture key moments in my trip to the States that year.

At the end of each day I used a cumbersome setup to get the clips from tape to my hefty laptop, then edited the clips and compiled an episode which I released the following day. The reason for recording audio wasn’t because I was particularly keen on radio, but instead because I couldn’t afford a video camera.

The resulting episodes of Reality Radio are so much more valuable to me than the hours of video tape that I might have recorded on a video camera. Those video clips would likely never see the light of day, and would more likely have become lost in time as video tape quickly became outdated.

Of course, like most of us, my recorded memories are primarily captured in photographs, fragments of time frozen in two dimensions. But back in 2012 as I sat on a cliff in Indonesia watching golden waves roll into shore beneath me and a setting sun, I was struck not just by the sight of those rolling Indian Ocean waves, but by the the sound too.

Uluwatu, Bali : From 366pictures.com

It was a standout moment, in a year full of standout moments, but it also got me thinking about how sound is somewhat overlooked in our rampant sharing culture. We share billions of pictures and millions of videos, but sound on its own is a rare format. That’s a little strange really when you consider that the world we live in is anything but silent.

Now I don’t really know anything about capturing sound in the most effective way, but nonetheless I got myself a professional grade sound recorder. I took it along with me and just started recording moments in a similar way to how I had done back in the 90’s with that old $30 tape recorder I got from RadioShack.

This time, however, I was recording the background sounds, no narration, no explanation, just sounds. I’ve recorded all kinds of things including storms in the Himalayas, cafes in Melbourne, singers in the Parisian Metro, humming birds in Colorado, and even the audio assault of Japanese gaming arcades.

The thing is, while I was collecting the clips, I had no idea what I wanted to do with them. A podcast perhaps, but about what?

So here’s my idea, and in all honesty, I am not entirely convinced its a good one. I can always come back to the sound clips at a later date and do something a little more creative, but for now I am thinking about creating a podcast series called ‘5 minutes of somewhere.’

A younger me in the days before podcastingThe premise is pretty self explanatory. I’ll briefly introduce a five minute clip of somewhere and then that’s pretty much it. The listener can just sit back wherever they are, close their eyes maybe, and just listen to 5 minutes of somewhere.

We’re so used to Youtube clips, 24 hour news coverage, and moments we capture using our smart phones, but really, how often do we just listen? How often have you stood somewhere and just listened to everything going on around you?

Maybe that sounds like a boring endeavour, but ask yourself this; If those moments you chose to photograph had been stripped of their sound, how would that have changed your experience of them?

I’ll make a website to accompany the episodes, maybe include a picture or two for those who wanted to get some visual context. I suppose a Google street view link might be cool where relevant, but on the whole this would be about the sound itself, and pretty much nothing else.

So what do you think? Does that sound like a boring idea? Would it be something you might listen too? What would you do differently? I’m honestly interested to hear your opinions. Check out the two minute sample I’ve compiled below. They’re clips I’ve recorded, offering a taster of what’s to come. You can leave a comment below.

GeneralTuesday, December 1st, 2015, (1:38 am)

Back in 2006 when I started this blog, the iPhone didn’t exist, there was pretty much no facebook, and Tweeting was still something only birds did. The cool people talked about their Myspace and platforms like Xanga and Blogger.com were hives of textual activity. People weren’t afraid of reading the ramblings of strangers from the internet, the idea of ‘texting’ someone just sounded strange. Now, nearly ten years later everything has changed.

Hello Strangers

Of course, today nobody reads blogs posts much anymore. Instead they “Like” things they see on facebook, a platform that turned blogging into posting in the same way fish are turned into fish fingers. Easy to produce, easy to consume, and easy to forget.

Of course, I can’t very well complain that nobody takes the time to read my blog when I have clearly all but abandoned this place, despite my good intentions. Trust me, there have been many times when I have sat here, a ‘blank page’ before me, wondering what to write in the same way you might wonder what to say to that person you should have called so long ago.

So I’m just going to say “Hello Stranger,” and pretty much leave it at that. If you’re out there maybe you’d like to say hello back?

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