Trash man / can Photography

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in photograph along comes something like this:

Hamburg Rathaus

The City Hall in Hamburg photographed with a garbage container by
garbageman Michael Pfohlmann, Christoph Blaschke and Mirko Derpmann. Shot on a 106×80 cm sheet of ilford multigrade with sin minutes exposure time

To quote the profile:

Hamburg´s garbagemen portrait their city in the Trashcam Project – with their garbage containers. Standard 1.100 litre containers are transformed to giant pinhole cameras. With these cameras the binmen take pictures of their favourite places to show the beauty and the changes of the city they keep clean every day.

The Trashcam Project was developed by Christoph Blaschke, Mirko Derpmann, Scholz & Friends Berlin and the Hamburg sanitation department. Special thanks to Hamburg based photographer Matthias Hewing ( for his professional advice and the challenging lab work with the giant negatives.

So, turn a rubbish bin in a pinhole camera, and shoot a correspondingly huge sheet of photo paper, presumably taped to the back… amazing. You can probably understand most of this, lovely bit of Hamburg german (i think):

Just wonderful!

Update: now with article Spiegel.

Dangerous Minds

The documentary linked to by The Other Ellis on uncertainty driving mathematicians insane / to suicide is very good. Beautifully filmed and describing one of the most turbulent periods of modern history and science.

Not only does it deliver with nerd-boner subject matter, it also features Roger Penrose, one of my science heroes (and is someone i now feel slightly guilty about including in a sentence with the term ‘nerd-boner’… twice). And, that despite me really struggling with most of his books. “Hard work” doesn’t even begin to describe my struggles with Shadows of the Mind.

The degree to which people fight against the uncertainty of modern science has obviously diminished since Cantor and Boltzmann’s days, presumably largely due to the clarity and succinct nature of Gödel’s proof, and the discoveries in quantum mechanics. Still, at the level of society there still seems to be a need, a desire, for science to step into the role, previously filled by the church, of providing certainty, giving absolute clarity. That’s unfortunate as it stops people from accepting that there are some things that we just don’t / can’t know with any degree of certainty.

The Rough and The Smooth

(but mostly the rough)

If we’re going to accept fractional reserve banking as our ‘system’ of money, don’t we also have to accept banks, and the people who invested money to support them, losing everything?

It sounds draconian, but the almost complete (Lehman… but you’ll note that none of them went to jail) lack of moral hazard results in some truly tortured situations. The feeding frenzy around the Euro is undoubtedly making some large profits, and making the real problem (massive imbalances in the distribution of wealth) much worse. At some point the politicians are going to have to face up to reality and stiff their benefactors. If they bring the whole edifice of western capitalism down on our heads, just to protect a minority, they’re going to be dealing with chaos for a generation.

How? Let the banks go bust, let the derivatives unwind, let all hell break loose in the investor class: be ruthless in telling them that they took the risk, and there were no guarantees. Then, recapitalise banks with printed money (won’t cause inflation, just think of how much money will have been removed from the money supply in the previous step), and make ordinary savings / savers whole again.

Needless to say, it won’t happen but the consequences for almost everyone involved are going to be long term and dire. The only ones that stand to gain from the current situation are those that are profiting from the chaos and, to a large degree, built the massively unstable system with which we find ourselves.