Sao Paulo: City Without Ads



From DesignVerb.com:

What happens when a mayor decides to ban advertisements in a vibrant city of 11 million people with more than 8,000 billboards? Impossible, insane, absurd, or just plain genius? Well this is what happened this past January when mayor Gilberto Kassabs “Clean City” law was introduced in Sao Paulo Brazil banning any form of advertising throughout the city to rid of “visual clutter”. (reminds me of the “advertising is graffiti” stunt, or my dislike for posters in Milan)

(via Ektopia)

Giant Microwave Turns Plastic Back to Oil

From New Scientist:

A US company is taking plastics recycling to another level – turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas.

All that is needed, claims Global Resource Corporation (GRC), is a finely tuned microwave and – hey presto! – a mix of materials that were made from oil can be reduced back to oil and combustible gas (and a few leftovers).

Key to GRC’s process is a machine that uses 1200 different frequencies within the microwave range, which act on specific hydrocarbon materials. As the material is zapped at the appropriate wavelength, part of the hydrocarbons that make up the plastic and rubber in the material are broken down into diesel oil and combustible gas.

GRC’s machine is called the Hawk-10. Its smaller incarnations look just like an industrial microwave with bits of machinery attached to it. Larger versions resemble a concrete mixer.

(Thanks PVC)

Google Earth and the Darfur Genocide

From Wired.com:

What began as the pet project of a few enthusiastic users has grown into a corporate-backed initiative demonstrating Google Earth’s potential as a live-saving humanitarian tool.

The Crisis in Darfur project is a downloadable set of layers for Google Earth which combines high-resolution satellite images of Darfur with photographs and first-hand accounts of the genocide currently underway in the region. Users of Google’s 3-D world atlas can zoom in on burned-out Sudanese villages, read the stories of the victims and see stunning arial shots of massive refugee camps in Eastern Chad.

Sokushinbutsu: The Self-Mummified Monks of Japan

From Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society:

Scattered throughout Northern Japan are two dozen mummified Japanese monks known as Sokushinbutsu. Followers of Shugendô, an ancient form of Buddhism, the monks died in the ultimate act of self-denial.

For three years the priests would eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another three years and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls. This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed.

Word of the Day – Syncretism

From Wikipedia:

Syncretism consists of the attempt to reconcile disparate or contradictory beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term may refer to attempts to merge and analogize several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, and thus assert an underlying unity.

Syncretism also occurs commonly in literature, music, the representational arts and other expressions of culture. (Compare the concept of eclecticism.) Syncretism may occur in architecture as well. There also exist syncretic politics, although in political classification the term has a somewhat different meaning.

Suitcases From a State Hospital Attic

When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic of an abandoned building. Many of them appeared untouched since their owners packed them decades earlier before entering the institution.

The suitcases and their contents bear witness to the rich, complex lives their owners lived prior to being committed to Willard. They speak about aspirations, accomplishments, community connections, but also about loss and isolation.