Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Da lovely Stournara street dyke!

from a wall on Stournara street in Exarheia

Waste to Energy = Beautiful

The ASM Brescia plant

side view

View of the huge cranes lifting the waste into the furnaces (from remote control room-really impressive how they are moved arournd with a joystick!)

District heating piping

The massive turbine (50 MWe & 150 MWth)

Main Control Room

I had to write an overview of some waste management technologies for a work related presentation yesterday, which led me to go through some of my old files. I came across photos I had taken of the Brescia waste to energy plant (Italy) which I had visited two years ago. It is one of the best plants in the world, in terms of energy production, environmental protection and aesthetics (but that's just my taste). This plant is capable of processing more than half a million tons of municipal waste (incl. biomass), to produce 400 GWh of electrical power and 300 GWh of heat per year. The plant is only 300 meters away from the city's residential quarters, to which it provides so much electricity and district heating. But as one can see from the photos it is not agressive in any way, on the contrary (to me) it looks beautiful in its own industrial way. The plant is so unbelievably clean, you could eat from the floors!, indoors and outdoors, and there are no bad odours whatsoever, despite the two massive combustion furnaces. It is truly a technological and environmental wonder!

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Joe Davis: Genestheticist

Microvenus icon

(microvenus bitmap )
(COMPLEMENTARY STRAND) Double-Stranded Microvenus DNA

Palmtop gallery: billions of E. coli with Microvenus encoded in their genomes.
Artistic work constructed from synthetic molecules of DNA. The first of these artistic molecules, Microvenus, contains a coded visual icon representing the external female genitalia and by coincidence, an ancient Germanic rune representing the female Earth. The work was carried out with molecular geneticist Dana Boyd at Jon Beckwith's laboratory at Harvard Medical School and at Hatch Echol's laboratory at University of California, Berkeley.
(All images Courtesy Ars Electronica Festival 2000. Copyright Joe Davis)

This is something I've been meaning to write somewhere for a really long time, ever since my Boston days, where I came across Poetica Vaginal, a quasi-covert science-art project Joe Davis spearheaded in the 1980s.

So now that blogging is offering the opportunity, here it is:
Genesthetics: Molecular Biology and Microbiology in the Arts
Joe Davis, is (or was?) a research affiliate in the Department of Biology at MIT. He is an artist who has done extensive research in molecular biology and bioinformatics for the production of genetic databases and new biological art forms. He has also constructed sculptural installation pieces, working with laser fabrication in plastics, steel, and stone; laser teleoperator systems; and structural welding in mild steel.
Davis himself has altogether different ideas about how science and art can be coaxed or forced together. For seven years he championed a space shuttle experiment that would have shot a 100,000-watt electron gun into the magnetosphere to create the first artificial aurora.
For Poetica Vaginal he recorded the vaginal contractions of ballerinas with the Boston Ballet and other women, then translated them into text, music, phonetic speech and ultimately into radio signals, which were beamed from M.I.T.'s Millstone radar into outer space. The Air Force soon found out about the million-watt Poetica Vaginal broadcast, as Davis calls it, and shut it down. But the 20-minute message was many times longer than the the first deliberate attempt to say hello to extraterrestrial ham radio operators, a string of 1,679 bits that Carl Sagan and Frank Drake beamed from the giant dish in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, 26 years ago. That message, like every engraved plaque and recorded video disk that NASA allowed on the Pioneer and Voyager space probes, made no attempt to convey what aliens would probably be most curious to know about humans: how we reproduce.
In a keynote lecture at the Ars Electronica exhibition, Davis described his most ambitious transgenic artwork yet: putting an image of the Milky Way into a mouse's ear, an idea inspired by a children's story written 30 years ago by a girlfriend. In order to encode such a large amount of binary information in DNA, he spent years figuring out a general method for archiving computer databases in biological form, a "supercode" that guarantees the infogene will be biochemically stable and yet prevents the host from translating it into protein.
I'm gonna close with a really sad fact I read on Scientific American, that Davis still remains utterly dependent on donations of equipment and expertise from scientists. Because he sells his conventional sculptures to friends at cost and cannot sell his transgenic art at all, even now Davis flirts on the verge of homelessness, with no fixed address. In the fall of 2000 he returned from Europe to find an eviction notice on his door. Much of what he rescued from the sheriff's auction was jammed into a decrepit Volvo station wagon that he obtained in trade for a self-assembling clock. Davis kept Mississippi plates on the car, even though he hasn't lived there in decades, to squeeze through a loophole that exempted it from property taxes. This was published way back in 2001, and I would be really curious to learn of his recent whereabouts...in hope that he is doing well.
(Info Source on Joe Davis & his work: http://www.thegatesofparadise.com/joe_davis.htm)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Czech's are so rock n' roll!

(Funeral album cover - Arcade Fire)

I just read a really interesting post by the Arcade Fire's Will Butler, on the Gramophone blog. Apart from his tales on the importance of rock n' roll in Czech history, and some unbelievable events (like absurdist playwright Vaclav Havel becoming president and in his first month inviting Frank Zappa to the presidential castle as a guest of state), he introduces some Czech rock n' roll bands and provides mp3's to back up the one and only fact...that they really mean rock n' roll (even if I don't understand a word they are singing). Check out the post on the Gramophone, and the underground band Psí vojáci .


Damn scientists

This is just to reinforce Angelo Plessas' betrayal by the future in his blog related post of May 14th (click on the image to read the fine print)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Πάντα αναρωτιόμουνα...


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Αφίσα από το Γραφείο Τύπου Φεστιβάλ Κινηματογράφου Θεσσαλονίκης (thanks to lalaki)
Για το πρόγραμμα (και άλλα) επισκεφθείτε http://gaynewsingreek.blogspot.com/

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Discredited antigay psychologist Paul Cameron publishes again

Former psychologist Paul Cameron, whose discredited research is used by antigay groups, has published another set of phony statistics—this time in a legitimate, if not widely known, academic journal.The paper appears in the May issue of the Journal of Biosocial Science, published by Cambridge University Press. It claims that a third of the children raised by gay people and transsexuals turn out gay themselves.
Read more about this stupid guy's research (if it can be called that) on http://www.advocate.com/news_detail.asp?id=30939


Before all hope is lost...

I just read the draft article the Financial Times plans to publish as a Special Report for Greece on June 20, 2006 .
The report covers the national situation and progress in sectors such as the economy, banking, shipping, regional development, immigration, energy, tourism, culture and the environment.
With regard to the environment, it states: "Greece faces European court proceedings for failing to comply with EU environmental directives in an unprecedented number of instances. The lengthening case list ranges from permitting the operation of illegal waste disposal sites to failing to provide adequate protection for marine turtles or rare species of reptiles. Left uncorrected, Greece’s poor environmental record may have a negative impact on the tourist industry. ".
If I may add, left uncorrected it will have and already does have, a very negative impact on our quality of life and of the future generations. I just hope that this report will catch Mr Karamanlis' eye (I suppose he reads the FT) so that he can eventually realize that apart from being ridiculed on a number of occasions on the international news sphere, the government has to act NOW (or yesterday) and solve the imperative issues such as waste management.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Ναι, κλαίω κυρίες και κύριοι, πρωί-πρωί, με την κατάντια αυτής της πόλης και των κατοίκων της. Σκουπίδια, δυσωδία και αφηνιασμένοι άνθρωποι που πάνε στη δουλειά τους με το αυτοκίνητο, καπνίζοντας το ένα τσιγάρο μετά το άλλο και αδειάζοντας το τασάκι από το παράθυρο. Και μετά σου λένε "Ελλάδα - το λίκνο του πολιτισμού".

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Ecocinema 2006

Went to the opening film last night, "Ten Minutes Older - The Trumpet", conceived of by producer Nicolas McClintock. It is one of two feature length compilations of movie shorts by some of the world's most renowned film directors, that have been fascinated by the concept of time. The contributions of Erice and Wenders were the most intense for me. I'm looking forward to watching the second part, "Ten Minutes Older - The Cello" tonight. Don't miss out on the film festival, at Apollon Filmcenter, as it focuses on the challenges facing us today, like environmental issues, globalization, societies in crisis and war. Check out the programme on http://www.ecocinema.gr/index.htm

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Greek shop window-dressing

I was walking down a street in Kolonaki the other day and I noticed this in a shoe-shop...great window-dressing, no?
Maybe whoever did this can give a hand to Attica Department store.

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Fear of Confrontation?

Can I just say how annoying it is when you are talking to someone on the phone, and I mean someone you really care about, maybe saying things that they don't particularly like to hear, and they hang up the phone - why do they do that, they cannot deal with confrontation at all or is it they see some truth in your words and that really gets to them? Chickens I say...

Me and You and Everyone We know (2005)

I rented Miranda July’s first attempt at writing, directing and acting, all on the same movie, on DVD, and I must say that I was left with my mouth hanging wide open.
But in a really strange way, because although the film has a very mundane vibe to it, you cannot help but let it get to you deep down inside and exhilarate you by the end.
She explores all stages of human life, children, adults and the old.
I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wonder Woman: Greek mythology - inspired - superheroine

Ever since I was a kid (and guess what - a tomboy) I was really into comics such as DC and Marvel. Wonderwoman however has been a recent addition to my favorite characters, especially since I realized her origin and nature:

Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superhero. Co-created by William Moulton Marston with his wife Elizabeth (Sadie) Holloway Marston, Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 (Dec. 1941). She is one of the first female superheroes and arguably the most famous.
In most adaptations, Wonder Woman is Princess Diana of the Amazon warrior tribe of Greek mythology. "Diana" is the Roman name for the Greek goddess on whom this character is based; "Artemis" is her Greek name. The Amazon ambassador to the larger world, she possesses several superhuman abilities and gifts from the Greek gods including the Lasso of Truth created from the Golden Girdle of Gaea and indestructable silver bracelets formed from the shield Aegis. Marston designed Wonder Woman as a distinctly feminist character and many subsequent writers, especially those of the 1970s and afterward, have written her as such.

In this 1995 published story, The Contest, after winning a contest of physical and mental challenges, Princess Diana was elected to go to Patriarch's World to teach them the Amazon ways as the super-heroine Wonder Woman. But years later, Diana's mother is unsatisfied with her limited progress to bring an end to all acts of hate on Earth, so she institutes another contest to name a new champion. Attempting to defend her position, Diana enters the games but in the end is bested by the arrogant and powerful Artemis. Now, a defeated and dejected Diana can only watch as Artemis, a skilled warrior with a penchant for violence, journeys to Man's World as the new Wonder Woman.

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"No More Workhorse Blues" Video

Check out Bonnie "Prince" Billy's video, directed by the really cool indie filmmaker, Harmony Corine, at Dragcity .


Bonnie "Prince Billy" & Matt Sweeney - Superwolf (Dragcity 2005)

Last night I had the pleasure to listen to Superwolf, this recent collaboration with guitar freelancer Matt Sweeney, which sees Oldham at his best, ever since Master and Everyone (2003). Sweeney's back vocals and guitar echo with sheer accuracy to Oldham's magnificent songwriting and incredibly diverse singing.


This is the Upsalla glacier in Patagonia, the change from 1928 to 2001, the image speaks for itself...

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Arne Naess’s original definition of ecosophy

“By an ecosophy I mean a philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium. A philosophy as a kind of sofia (or) wisdom, is openly normative, it contains both norms, rules, postulates, value priority announcements and hypotheses concerning the state of affairs in our universe. Wisdom is policy wisdom, prescription, not only scientific description and prediction. The details of an ecosophy will show many variations due to significant differences concerning not only the ‘facts’ of pollution, resources, population, etc. but also value priorities.”