Ickornshaw – Yorkshire

Farmer at Home

Farmer at Home

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Colintraive, Argyll & Bute – Scotland

Jon and His Sons

Jon B and His Sons

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Pravin and his smiling mother.

Pravin and his smiling mother

We met Pravin in the mountains, central Sri Lanka. He was studying English, beautifully.

If you look closely you will see his brother’s painting of Lenin in the background – he was studying art and politics.

Recorded on my Zoom H2 and mastered in Adobe Soundbooth CS4.

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What is this beetroot?

The following Psychoacoustics involve audio captured in the Sri Lankan mountains, Philip Hayes’ lounge in Bromsgrove (Thanks to Phil on guitar) and Wollaston (Near Dudley).

Recorded on my Zoom H2 and compiled/edited in Adobe Soundbooth CS4.

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Copenhagen and Malmo

Copenhagen Architecture

Copenhagen Architecture


Red Coat Copenhagen

Twisting Torso Malmo

Twisting Torso Malmo

See this set at Flickr

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Katunayaka Attack – Sri Lanka 2009

This is the audio I captured of an LTTE attack which occurred whilst we were living in Sri Lanka earlier this year. The army were shooting down the planes very close to us as the target for the rebels was the near-by airport.

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Appropriate Fear

A programme made for Channel 4 – “Teen Trouble”, regarding the apparent demonisation of teenagers - has inspired me to write about a pet subject of mine: “we are less safe today than we used to be…”.

My question is this, are we skewing our minds to believe that it was much better 50 years ago than it actually was – are we tricked into believing we have a worse problem today than we actually have, or is it a little of both?

I’m going to write about a time I didn’t live in – please excuse the indulgence. In his youth my father once became so enraged with some local lads that he picked up a large stick and as he was on his way to ’sort things out’ with this visual backup, his mother caught him and ended the scene rather quickly. This is a funny story as it would be quite out of character for my father to do the same thing today and it was no doubt out of character for him then. Imagine now that you saw CCTV footage of a youth carrying a large branch, marching towards others with an intent stride, accompanied by the headline “Youth crime…”.  Now this rather funny story has become a cameo of what’s wrong with the UK. In the past I doubt that CCTV caught all of the mischievous acts of boys – stealing apples, driving a go-cart into a flowerbed, etc. – with the media sensationalising the footage.

I have also noted how stories by an elderly man (not my father) reminiscing about the “tricks” he and his friends used to get up to which were “just a bit of fun” don’t seem to be linked with the “rampant vandalism” and thievery committed by young people in 2009 – it’s as if there’s no similarity.

“You could walk down the street and be quite safe” is an often-heard phrase. How do you define this? I’ve been quite safe walking down the street all my life, only once did I get “mugged” but this could also be rephrased as “bullies trying to get my pocket money” which surely wasn’t just a phenomenon of the 1990s. Despite our instincts when walking down the street there is not even a greater risk of being killed by a car. In 2007 the number of pedestrians killed in road accidents was 78% down on the levels seen in 1967 (see statistics). I have lots of very distinct memories of walking down the street and being safe but my memory of walking down the street doesn’t indicate that things are as safe, worse or better than years before.

Child abuse was much less reported in the past as the BBC journalist Mark Easton cites in his blog. As a cub reporter he recalls being instructed by the news editor not to report on a child abuse case. In July 1885 W.T. Stead published an article that revealed the horrific details of child abuse taking place in London brothels at the time – it seems that subsequent to this, news reporting of child abuse has been few and far between until recent years.

If you ask people about their own personal experience of predatory paedophiles (e.g., witnessing an attempted abduction), and whether the frequency of these occurrences has increased in their actual experience, I suggest that the answer would be “no” for the majority. But asking whether their fear of predatory paedophiles has increased the answer would most probably be “yes”. The information that people are getting about these occurrences is increasing over time, but are people sure that the occurrences of attempted abduction are vastly more frequent? Might it be that people have moved from complacency to absolute paranoia within a few decades when obviously the problem has been with us for many years?

Problems of child abuse should never be taken lightly and it is good that there is so much more awareness of the issues. The incidents of child abuse may be on the increase but ramping up the fear so that it no longer reflects reality may be damaging the very childhoods we’re trying to protect. We seem to have gone from taboo to ignorance.

How much fear should we have of teenagers? In the Channel 4 documentary “Teen Trouble” journalist Sam Delaney asked shoppers how much crime they believe is committed by teenagers.  According to the programme, older people blamed teenagers for 80% of total crimes whereas in reality only 12% of recorded offenders are under 18. A lot of the adults interviewed in the street expressed some sort of fear of these well-meaning youths and the programme produced stunts to try to alter this view. One point that I didn’t see fully addressed in the programme but was briefly brought up by a man-in-the-street was that teenagers often appear threatening in order to uphold an image, they may even feed off this stereotype handed to them by the media. Regardless of how they appear, we may not need to fear teenagers’ bravado as much as we are led to by the media, as we’ll see in the following statistics.

Gangs, hoodies, knives and stabbings are a favourite hobby-horse for news outlets.  One thing that strikes me as something to fear in that list is knife crime, but how likely are we to get stabbed to death in the UK?
Fatality statistics quoted in the programme:

  • Vehicle crashes 2740
  • Accidental poisoning 910
  • Falling down stairs 647
  • Complications in surgery 273
  • Choking on food 166
  • Knife attack 102
  • Rolling out of bed 86

Statistically, we’re more likely to be assaulted by someone we know than a stranger. According to the British Crime Survey (2000) just over 27% of violent incidents are stranger assaults and 13% involve theft or attemped theft (mugging), whereas 59% of violent incidents are committed by acquaintances or those in a domestic relationship. That is a ratio of 2:3 of violent crimes by strangers to violent crimes committed by people known to them. Even this figure may be underestimating the true picture due to the fact that a lot of domestic violence goes unreported, as do fights between friends for example. We appear to have more to fear from those around us than those in the street, yet we trust those we know and invite them into our homes – perhaps it’s time we spent more time with strangers, it’s statistically safer. However, my purpose of writing isn’t to make us fear those we know and trust, but to reduce the fear we have for the stranger.

“In 57% of [violent] incidents the victim was male. Men were the victims in 64% of muggings and 80% of stranger assaults… The most common location for violence was in or around the home (26%), followed by the street (23%), pub or club (19%) and in or around work (17%).” – The British Crime Survey (2000)

These statistics make it less and less likely that an elderly woman living on her own (one that doesn’t go clubbing) will be a victim of violent crime. Ironically, the young men that are probably feared by this demographic are the most likely to be the victims. I wonder how many elderly women are living with an unneccessary level of fear based upon the dramatic attention given by the media to instances of violence against elderly women.

With regards to early mortality, our minds should be less focused on the hoodies sloping down the street and more on the company we keep, our driving habits, mental health and what we eat. We are more likely to kill ourselves than be murdered.

Should we fear more today or not? Well it’s impossible to tell – how can you compare two time periods on a scale of fear? I’m not blindly optomistic and I don’t think that we have it better or worse today than at any other time – each period has its issues and positive points. I just get frustrated when people are led to fear more than they should.

Reason Magazine – Interesting statistics on terrorism in the US – Don’t be Terrorized
Channel4 – Teen Trouble
UK Home Office Statistics – The 2000 British Crime Survey
Ministry of Justice – Statistics on deaths reported to coroners – England and Wales, 2008
Bad Science – Be a little more questioning about health reporting

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Doug Basten and his parents.

Doug Basten and his parents.

Above is the result of a recent set I took of my friends newborn – Douglas. The shot was taken in natural light with a Canon 20D (f/6.3, 1/400) and finished in Photoshop CS4. The rest of the set can be seen on Flickr.

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Tru Thoughts

Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro – Bristol O2 Academy Satuday 5th September 2009

Last night Quantic took us on a journey through Africa, The Carribean, Panama with the final destination being Colombia. The evening sunlight of Colombia was heard through the beautiful Nidia Gángora complimenting her perfect vocals with equally enticing moves. This journey might easily have been a colonial style presentation of exotica for the interested of Bristol, letting us long for the South American soul that we can only emulate in Salsa lessons wearing our Che t-shirts; this wasn’t the case, last night it was fine to be in Bristol, it was fine to be enjoying Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro with little more required of us. For all the accessible nature of this – and for those concerned about the conga winding amongst us early on in the set – there was no loss of class, with tense virtuosity on the keys by Alfredo Linares, lyrical guitar riffs through the talent of Will ‘Quantic’ Holland backed by the irrepressible percussion section, the horns hooking in with a tactile harmony swimming over the elasticated bass loops of Fernando Silva. This was exhilarant rhythm presented to exhilarant rhythm lovers with little explanation required. Excellent.

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Web Presents

This combines my best reading voice with some audio I captured at a London Tube station a couple of weeks ago. The audio was compiled and edited in Adobe Soundbooth CS4.

There Is No Happiness In The Blog – Lonnie Hicks

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