The Null Device
The Independent has an article on the extraordinary revival of the Holga, a cheap and primitive medium-format film camera made in China in the 1960s, now prized by lo-fi aficionados and art-school hipsters alike, much like the Lomo and Diana:
The Holga, barely more sophisticated than a pinhole camera, takes rolls of medium-format film which, when developed, produces square pictures. It features just two aperture settings ("sunny" or "cloudy"), four focus positions from "portrait" to "landscape", and a basic flash powered by AA batteries. A spring connects a clunky lever beside the lens to the shutter, which has just one speed (one-hundredth of a second – or thereabouts).
Williamson, 25, soon grew tired of what he calls the "sterility" of digital. In the age of the booming digital camera industry, with its spiralling megapixel counts and camera menus that would flummox a fighter pilot, converts to the cult of Holga celebrate the camera as an antidote to high technology. "Everything seemed so pristine in my photos," Williamson says. "They were almost optically perfect."
Williamson's website offers instructions on how to make the camera even more low-tech. Holga hackers can cut a square from a drink can, drill a hole in it with a sewing needle, unscrew the camera's shutter mechanism, insert the aluminium square in place of the lens, add a cable release to allow steady shooting, and voilà – you have a pinhole camera, christened, inevitably, the PinHolga.
By some reckonings, today is the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. (Not that you'd know it from looking outside, at least in London.) This is apparently the case in the United States, and is widely accepted to be the case in the UK (though there is no standard definition of when the seasons begin; one could perhaps just as well state that spring starts when Bill Oddie sees the first chaffinch of the year or somesuch).
In contrast. in Australia, things are somewhat simpler. The British colonists who founded the southern colonies apparently couldn't be bothered with equinoxes and solstices, and instead decided that summer is from the start of December to the end of February, followed by exactly three months of autumn, three months of winter, and so on, all evenly divided on calendrical lines. Apparently this is common practice throughout the southern hemisphere, where the sudden peculiarity of the environment had the effect of encouraging European colonists to rip up the rules and start again. Along a similar fashion, the Australian school year begins in February and ends in November (having been settled after the Industrial Revolution, when vacationing schoolchildren were no longer needed to help in the harvest), and the tax year starts on 1 July (breaking off with a tradition which some say goes back to the Roman Empire). Much of this is probably a case of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it"; after all, straightening out a calendar for no reason would cause a lot of disruption. Moving to another hemisphere, however, leaves little reason to not start afresh.
Health authorities in the Philippines have warned devout Catholics taking part in Easter crucifixion rituals to get tetanus shots before they flagellate and/or crucify themselves, and to practice good hygiene:
In the hot and dusty atmosphere, officials warn, using unhygienic whips to make deep cuts in the body could lead to tetanus and other infections.
And they advise that the nails used to fix people to crosses must be properly disinfected first. Often people soak the nails in alcohol throughout the year.
In the northern city of San Fernando alone there will be three separate improvised Golgothas - the biblical name for the hill where Jesus was crucified.