Thursday, April 19, 2007


As I realize someone, or anyone reading any of these posts may be offended or elated - I must state that all opinions here are written -only- for critical thinking and general humor and/or information. I do not intend on offending anyone, and I certainly don't want to end up like Mr. Andonis Tsipropoulos, therefore any and all of my comments which might be taken personal, at least to the extent where they might get me arrested, should be thought of as silly jabber and forgotten by those who may have the time and inclination to devote valuable time and resources to legal matters. Essentially, if you don't like what is on this site, post a comment, let me know, we can 'talk' about it. :)

C|Net explains:

An unprecedented case of censorship against, a search engine for Greek blogs, has provoked hue and cry in Greek blogs. The case was made known by an e-mail sent by the search engine's administrator, Mr. Andonis Tsipropoulos, to all listed members yesterday evening. By this e-mail the administrator informed members that a Greek public figure -whose name has not been disclosed as yet by Blogme.Gr- prosecuted the search engine for what he/she regarded as slander in one of its listed blogs! The administrator was arrested without prior notice last night at his residence. He spent the night behind bars and was taken today to the Distric Attorney wearing handcuffs. His company - funded by an unemployment subsidies' program - has been forced to suspend its operation. Mr. Tsipropoulos has in overall sustained great damage on a professional and personal level alike.

In his e-mail, Mr. Tsipropoulos wrote: "This is the first time ever that a search engine - a site collecting information on the web - has been associated with the content of a web log and sued for it. Never before has an offended individual in a democratic country resorted to a lawsuit of this kind till this very day, with the exception of repressive regimes. Most recent examples are Singapore and China. However, even in these cases the lawsuits were against the blog administator, and not a blog directory that collects information such as Blogme. [...] As a result of this selective prosecution, Blogme has become the sole website collecting information that has sustained the implications of this action, among hundreds of similar search engines in the Greek and the World Wide Web, many of which display in different ways the contentious blog in their results." Mr. Tsipropoulos goes on saying that Blogme.Gr does not wish the prosecution of other search engines and that it does not pass an opinion on the blog in question or any other blog or web page content which it does not countersign. According to the Greek legislation, this case is directly associated with all that applies to the freedom of press and the information society in Greece.
Thank you for reading, please don't sue people, it's just a pain in the butt.

Sunlight Alone Will Not Make One Happy

“The notion that people are happiest along the shores of the Mediterranean does not appear to be true,” - Kathimerini

That's the conclusion of a report released by Cambridge University into the happiness of the EU 15 countries. Greece ranks 13th, ahead of Portugal and Italy. Apparently, according to the report, the primary reason for the low levels of joy in the lives of the Greek is the lack of trust in their political institutions and leaders. Not surprising. It probably didn't require a research study to tell anyone that, a 15 minute conversation with a young person on the street will let you know that the young people don't trust the government, realize they face an environmental calamity, accept that their parents want the best for them as they had nothing only 30 years ago, and that no one is really sure how they feel about going further in the future.

At a recent Jazz concert in the center, I had a lengthy chat with a mate about the problems of Greek education and politics. He asserted, as I have heard from many of my Greek comrades, that the problem with Greece is that no one feels that they can get ahead. Politics are controlled by families, dynasties, which keep things mulling along as they have been for so long.

To boot, most of the Greek youths are trained, or have been trained in English universities, not Greek ones. Why? To be frank, no one has any faith in Greek universities it seems. These aren't my thoughts, I haven't studied in a Greek university. From what I have heard however, Students prefer to go to England because they can have better chances at finding work, perfect their English, and see another country for practically nothing.

I replied, to my wholly bemused friend, that he wasn't considering the broader implications of going abroad to do university. a) it belittles your own country's system - how can you stand up for your schools if the best and brightest won't stay to study? b) all that money you spend going out and buying supplies, clothes and what not is not going back to Greece, it's going to the British (they're mighty good at that actually), and c) -going back to the political - is there really anything real about the political dynasties. They happen, for sure, but who's fault is that? Stop electing people who you know are corrupt. Just don't do it. And take things into your own hands.
To all this he replied: "you simply don't understand how things are done here"
To which I replied: " no kidding "

And as for ranking Greece as one of the unhappiest places in Europe, I will say that I think people in Cambridge don’t understand what makes the Greeks happy. So, there will probably be another research project looking into the ways people should perceive happiness as… but what do I know? Not alot

Monday, April 16, 2007

Green Roofs and Greece - What Athens Should Be Famous For in the Next 20 Years

Now this is what I really want to see on my roof in Athens! Ever take a look at the city from the air? It looks like a sea of marble roofs, even though, I know, it's cement.

The point is that all that reflected light produces a lot of energy, and by energy I mean heat. and lots of it.

SO.... what about a little greenery on the roofs?

a) it reduces run-off, so there would be a lot less stress on the drainage (or rather lack there of) in the city after a heavy rainfall, which if you havebeen paying attention, Greece is expected to have a lot less of in the coming years.

b) it's not that hard to take care of, unless you want a fancy one, which is just fine

c) i just miss mowing the lawn on the weekends

oh and the fact that it's supposed to be EXTREMELY hot this summer, and the next...50 or so summers in the future. So what would a green roof have to do with heat? Well consider the wonderful picture of your typical heat island, a pocket of nastiness where urban populations live, due to activity, pollution, and a lot of reflective surfaces and what not.

Notice the green where the cooler temperatures are, and the lack of green where the hotter temperatures are? Exactly.

I'd say preparing for it now might be a good idea, and a profitable one at that: (imagine that, making profit instead of paying fines!)

As PR Newswire tells-

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the North American green roof industry association is pleased to announce the results from its Second Annual Industry Survey of Corporate members' completed green roof projects in 2006. The Survey indicates a growth rate of more than 25% over 2005, representing more than 3 million square feet installed in 2006. For intensive green roofs that typically incorporate larger plants, the growth rate was 110% in 2006.

"The green roof industry is growing rapidly in response to the pressing need for cleaner air, better storm water management, improved energy efficiency and more usable green space in our communities," said Steven Peck, Founder and President of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. "Green roofs have really captured many people's attention as a beautiful way to help fight climate change and save money. Green roofs deliver more public and private benefits than any other green building technology, so we anticipate that strong growth will continue into the future," he added.

The City of Chicago, which has policies in place to support green roofs and urban greening, implemented the most square feet of green roofs in 2006 of any city, followed closely by Washington, D.C. "My goal is to make Chicago the greenest, most environmentally friendly city in the nation and we are leading by example in our green roof development," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "With over one million square feet of green roofs completed in Chicago and another 2 million in development, our city has truly embraced this practice as a way to help conserve Chicago for future generations."

So why not catapult Athens and Greece ahead of the pack in Europe? Let's say 75% of the city rooftops greened by 2015.

Cyprus and MIT: New Research onthe Environment in the Mediterranean

Thanks to HomeboyMediaNews for the heads up on this story:

From MIT press release:

Energy, environment and water are the focus of a new joint program between MIT and the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus. The initiative will promote a high level of scientific research and education at a new university on Cyprus, which for millennia has been a crossroad of commerce, civilizations and cultures.

The Cyprus Institute Program for Energy, Environment and Water Resources (CEEW) is a new research and education program established at MIT's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment (LFEE).

Its counterpart in Cyprus will be the Energy, Environment and Water Research Center (EEWRC) at the newly established Cyprus Institute (CyI), a university focused on undergraduate and graduate education and research in science, technology, arts and social sciences.

"The government of Cyprus is committed to turning the Cypriot economy into a knowledge-based economy and to rendering our island into a regional center of excellence for educational services," said Tassos Papadopoulos, president of the Republic of Cyprus, in a speech at the presidential palace Feb. 10. "The government's target is to make available government funds for research, reaching the EU level of 1 percent of GDP by 2010, of course with a corresponding contribution of the private sector."

...visit Homeboy or read the news release yourself for more information. Sorry, you have to do a -little- work for yourself;).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Waste Management in Greece

Greeks are going to have to dig a a little deeper into their pockets as a result of digging deeper in the ground. Greece, like all other EU states, is required to limit the amount and type of trash they bury in the backyards.

Kathimerini reports:

“There is a huge wave of fines on its way,” said Antonis Mavropoulos, the president of the Hellenic Solid Waste Management Association (HSWMA).

Brussels introduced legislation in 2003 which aims to prevent countries from burying rubbish until it is reduced by removing recyclable or biodegradable items.

EU members will also have to ensure that by 2010 35 percent of biodegradable rubbish, such as food scraps and grass clippings, is turned into compost.

“Unfortunately, it is 2007 and almost all the landfills in operation are illegal,” said Mavropoulos. “To make things worse, tens of landfills to be built over the next two years will also be illegal if measures are not taken.”

Prospects don't look so bad though, there are already some initiatves underway to combat wasteful waste according to the article. Residents in Hania are already composting and recycling their way to a cleaner future - "the operation of a recycling center has reduced the amount of rubbish that is discarded each day by 26 percent (60 tons). Most of the salvaged rubbish is turned into compost."

Little steps for big marches.

I would prefer, personally, if the city of Athens would get rid of those ridiculously small and ill-placed recycling containers with more residential, permanent, large units. Seriously, who is going to stop on the main thoroughway to deposit their old aluminum cans?!?!

Mediterranean Environment and Human Error

Mediterranean Region Needs A Strong, Vibrant Movement To Mitigate Environmental Risk

The Easter holidays have certainly been eventful, if nothing else. Friday saw the sinking of the Sea Diamond off the coast of the popular Santorini coast, and with that, grave concerns about the potential ecological impact of pollution from leaking fuel, hydraulic liquids, dry cleaning fluids, chlorine, and other cleaning products.

"The oil is continuing to leak from the vessel. ... The situation is being contained in the present conditions,"-CNN

There are some interesting and hopeful signs however that things may be developing in favor of the environment, in an unexpected way. Almost as soon as the 10 deck, 140 meter long, 570 cabin vessel met her watery grave, local and national authorities were up in arms about the possible repercussions of the accident. Lawyers geared up for legal action for any damage done to the local ecosystem, tourism officials buckled down for potential tourism-loss feed-back (which might be added is not likely to happen), and newspapers around the world – from Toronto to Hong Kong – rallied to the support of quick and meticulous clean-up efforts. Nothing new about this one, only nowadays - with Gore’s ‘look-at-me-I’m-still-alive’ documentary about the effects of human activity and inserts about why his growing up on a farm made him so sensitive to the needs of…yada yada yada. (Gore likes to travel btw, and last time I checked airplanes caused heaps of pollution) - the political and social climate for anything environmentally destuctive is equally as volatile as it should be.

My favorite is the anonymous commentary in Kathimerini, which sounds almost the same as the Greenpeace excerpt from another report of the accident.

the state must focus on other priorities and, above all, try to contain the environmental damage from the recent accident, particularly the danger from the remaining oil on board the ship.

For that reason, Greek authorities must make use of the most advanced technology – Greek as well as foreign. There must be a full mobilization of the state apparatus and possibly also of the private sector.

The environment, tradition and tourism constitute national treasures that must be safeguarded at all costs. In tackling the ecological disaster off Santorini, there is no room for makeshift measures.”- Kathimerini

So are Greeks really paying attention? It might make a difference that tourism in Greece accounts for about 18% of GDP and it is nearing the beginning of the tourism season boom.

Tourism in the Mediterranean is big business in general, and a business that is expected to grow enormously over the next years. The European Environment Agency predicts that the Mediterranean alone can expect to see approximately 300 million tourists in 2025, compared to 135 million in 1990. This influx brings with it not only massive amounts of money to the region, but also the increased pressures of accommodating the population surges – not to mention increased risk of potentially disastrous environmental accidents. With the added crowds of tourists that will be rushing to soak up the wonderful Mediterranean sun will be the escalating populations of coastal, urban dwellers vying for effective pollution control and city management.

That's a lot of density for a region with little or -NO- sanitation infrastructure. Point being, that if Mediterraneans intend on staving off an ecological ****storm in the future, they are going to have to really buckle down. The situation in the Mediterranean and Black Seas has the striking similarities of the accident at Santorini – unintended and fueled by human error and more concern for profit than the environment. The slow going attitude of the southern Europeans is quaint, but in my opinion there should be some heads rolling over the lack of preparation and innovation in what looks to be a very rough road ahead.