Archive for February, 2011

if you can’t stand the heat…..

Want to live in a fine piece of pottery that is water-resistant and can survive earthquakes?

Developed in the late 70’s, by the Iranian architect Nader Khalili, traditional clay houses became ceramic after firing from within.  The Geltaftan system was discovered by Khalili when he realised many of the rural desert structures that have survived for many years were in fact the village kilns.

Even the furniture can be fired within the house at the same time.  So, just a mixture of earth and water can be used to make complex shapes and structures.  Follow this with a day of firing from within to bake the clay at 1000 degrees Celsius, and you have the primitive mud hut transformed into a fine piece of pottery.

The thermal mass of the walls keeps it cool in summer and warm in the cold nights.  Particularly, a great solution in desert landscapes where resources are scarce and the only real building material is earth.

A potter as an architect? Imagine that.

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chinese democracy

So as the world watches on, the ‘Great Firewall’ has been reinforced.  In the wake of the revolutions that have happened and are ongoing in the Middle East and North Africa, careful censorship of the internet has been administered in China.

Yes, this means I have been started on China.

The government squashed any copycat kind of demonstrations that were influenced by the uprisings in Northern African states, by way of intimidation and the threat of physical altercations.  This kept many at home unable to attend scheduled protests.

It seems the Chinese government has gone as far as preventing searches on engines or sites like Twitter using particular words, such as ‘jasmine.’  Even text messages have been vetted to stop gatherings gaining momentum.

In Egypt during the uprising,  Twitter responded to limited internet access for it’s users, by allowing them to call and record messages, which would then appear as text online.  Unfortunately, the Great Firewall is pretty tall to scale.

social media revolution?

We all hear the news, if not read or watch it.  What started in Tunisia has inspired other repressed nations to rise up against their own dictatorships.

Clichéd as it may sound, the world has become a smaller place to inhabit with news relayed to the far corners of the world at a click of a button.  In fact, it is blogs similar to this, but probably more interesting and informative than my own, that were the catalysts to these revolutions.  Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have been the mediums by which the masses have communicated and mobilised their respective movements.

Egypt attempted to censor the  internet in so far it shut it down, having witnessed the Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia.  It did not work and 18 days into the demonstrations, Hosni Mubarak had to yield power.  Some more sympathetic to the old regimes (we will discuss this later)  have argued that social networking over the internet was the cause of the uprisings.  Clearly, it speeded up the process, but when you box people in so much, they will revolt and it is only a matter of time before it happens.  Rising food prices plus the rising unemployment were the reasons, along with their lack of a freedom of speech.  The tools and technology with which the people could operate meant that the whole process and the reporting of it was more accessible.

Now we have  movements with other Northern African and Middle East states facing up to the same threats.  The most critical at this moment is the the one in Libya.  Libya is more economically significant than politically.  Colonel Gaddafi’s regime sits upon the largest oil reserve in Africa and he does not intend to go without a fight,

“I am not going to leave this land.  I will die as a martyr at the end … I shall remain, defiant. Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time.”

This statement made on the state television channel has led to an outcry across the world for the violence that has followed demonstrations that sprouted up in the east and are beginning to spread towards the capital, Tripoli.  Gaddafi has blamed “foreign forces” for trying to destabilise the country.  However, in recent years, Gaddafi has changed.  He gave up his apparent support of liberation movements and terrorist groups around the world in the wake of the war in Iraq.  This led to the West having a more favourable tone in discussions with Libya.  Gaddafi himself  has visited many European states to signify the importance of business and trade with his country.  Libya garners a lot of western investment in both the energy and construction sectors, so Gaddafi has changed to survive.

Whilst, this has been the case internationally, domestically the regime is still repressive.  Colonel Gaddafi has been able to buy the sanctions that were once hanging over the country, but that is the problem, he has run the country as he’s personal property.  Therefore, he has built Libya optimally for him and his clan.  The violence now is the people versus the army, which is conveniently run by his sons.

Just as Egypt before, the regime is old.  In Egypt the President and his party members were pretty much all of a certain generation and unable to deal with the tactics adopted by the young generation in their efforts to topple the government.  Social media and networking as a tool has helped these movements and is continuing to do so.  I’m afraid though that in Libya, the struggle will be prolonged and a lot more blood shed before the Libyan people get what they want.  Especially, if he believes that, “the integrity of China was more important than in Tiananmen Square,” scene of the 1989 massacre of democracy protesters.

Sounds ominous.  Don’t get me started on China.

road rage!

Today, some arsehole cut me up on a slip road off the M25.  Yes, you guessed it, he or she, most likely a he and I’m not afraid to assume, was in possession of a personalised number plate.  Quite frankly, this tells you all you need to know about the driver; obnoxious, aggressive, dumb, inconsiderate, etc, etc and the list continues.

I propose a solution to this vile piece of human!  Simply put their name and number at the bottom of the plates and let us normal sane drivers report them when they cut us up or put our lives in danger with their boy racer driving.  There was supposed to be a scheme where drivers could report others for reckless driving, but I don’t know if it has come into effect.  This would be a perfect extension to such a scheme.

Actually, why would anyone in their right mind want a number plate that is easier to remember for when that day comes?!  Then again, the majority of these bastards drive hatchbacks that are worth less than the few letters on their prized bits of plastic! Imbecils, I tell you, the lot of them!

Rant over.

Thundercats reloaded?

Later this year, Cartoon Network will either desecrate my childhood or finally introduce a cartoon worthy of  calling itself a cartoon!

These days, I watch cartoons sometimes with my nephews and feel sorry for them.  My nostalgic memory tells me how much better things were in my time as a child.  Filled with fantasy with adventure, it was my junior science fiction fix.  Thundercats progressed from cartoons aimed at younger audiences, making it seem more mature.  It challenged my viewing, heck, my sister used to blackmail me by saying Mumm-ra was going to come and get me!  How many characters in cartoons these days scare anybody? (or was I just a big chicken and am I just being overly reminiscent?!)

Okay, so here goes.  Cartoon Network recently released the first official image of the revamped cast…

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

WHY oh WHY?! The beauty of the show was how different it looked to others.  The anime influence has swallowed my childhood heroes and spat out these sorry illustrations.  Lion-o looks nothing like the original.  Apparently, meant to be younger in this new show, I still feel it is a let down.  The other characters have fared far worse.  Panthro is now built like the Hulk, Cheetara’s hair looks awful and the worst of all costume updates is on Tygra.

Suffice to say, I am not a fan of their appearance and wait with baited breath to watch with my nephews, whether they can live up to my lofty image.

rebirth

It’s in the doing that the idea comes.” – Edmund Bacon

The architect known as ‘The Father of Modern Philadelphia’ as he is sometimes known or Kevin Bacon’s father, Edmund Bacon shaped the urban landscape of the city as head of the Philadelphia Planning Commission from 1949 to 1970.

This evening I discovered this quote he told one of his architecture students and once again feel inspired, so I drew today on a fresh piece of cartridge paper.

Coca Cola recipe revealed?

Got a few spare minutes? Nothing to do? Well you could try to mix up your own, home-made Coca Cola!

The Daily Telegraph reported today that an American website believes it has discovered the exact quantities of the ingredients required to make the soft drink. Thisamericanlife.org claim to have seen a copy of creator John Pemberton’s concoction in a photograph taken from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 8 February 1979.

The secret ingredient, known as Merchadise 7X pertains to only 1% of the whole formula, but now you and I can bypass the round the clock 24-hour security…..if you want to rot your teeth….