Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Me and Lydia arrived in England last night just in time to experience some of the worst weather the country has experienced in 50 years, which made a nice change from Greece's hottest June in 50 years. Parts of the north, around Sheffield resemble disaster zones as two month's worth of rain fell in less than 24 hours.
However, none of this dampened my spirits (bad pun intended) as it was good to see my family again after such a long while, not to mention being able to sleep in conditions that didn't feel like you'd entered a sauna wrapped in a wet blanket.
Walking to to the centre once again revealed how much Bristol has changed since I last lived here and was a real eye opener as far as the people were concerned. Chatting to British model makers about a piece of work that took them 10 years to construct, having Jamaican style curried goat with a trainee radiologist and discussing the pros and cons of church conversions with an Irish guy fron Clonmel, all of whom were complete strangers, were just a few of the highlights.
What a great way to start a holiday.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Today it hit 40C once again in most cities in Greece. It seems the temperature won't drop for another three or four days. The worse thing is that it is still in the 30's, even at night which makes sleeping near impossible.Thankfully, I'm off to the rainy, ol' England.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
After all this time I managed to see An Inconvenient Truth and I just got to say that it has been a long time since a movie has touched me so deeply, let alone a documentary. Rather then preach about the evils of global warming myself, I'd just recommend you see Al Gore's film yourself and make up your own mind.
As I sit in 40c heat, rare even for Greece in June after the warmest winter I have ever experienced here I, personally just can't deny the evidence any more.
For ideas about how to use the film in class - click here.
To find out more about this issue go to www.climatecrisis.net
Saturday, June 23, 2007
What started simply as a way of sharing family snap shots with my folks in England has evolved into an entirely different beast. I can see the learning curve that I have followed from simply pointing my modern day version of a box brownie and hoping for the best into something far more....sophisticated? Dare I use the word?
In learning so much about photography over the last year I can not help but draw parallel to my job as a teacher, that given the right incentive we can all digest huge amounts of information (in my case a 120 page Nikon manual written in jargonised Greek). Learning is built into our very fibre and yet so much of what we educators do seems to deaden this vital instinct.
It's hard to imagine that so many such groups managed to live cheek by jowl, in relative peace for centuries in cities such as Thessaloniki (Saloniki). Just to remind us of this fact I thought I'd post a small extract from the National Geographic article of September 1916 that I found.
The caption is a little hard to read so I'll write it out again here;
"The arch is Roman, the driver, mayhaps is a Spanish Jew and it's passengers Greeks and Turks, Jew and Gentile, bond and free: for it is a congress of nations that gathers in Saloniki and the gamut of human conditions that its people run."
H. G. Dwight Saloniki - National Geographic September 1916
Friday, June 22, 2007
Over the past few days I've lucked out as far as taking photographs of strangers is concerned. Instead of the usual scowls or vague threats, I've had people demand I take their picture. A welcome change, indeed.
By 9.30 am it was already too hot to sit out in he sun, so I ended up on a bench at the top of Aristotelous where all the old guys congregate and moan about the youth of today (i,e, anyone under 50).
This guy was already there. I think he was a little short sighted as when I spoke to him he asked me if I was a "germanida" (German woman, in Greek)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Today I happened to come across a wonderful exhibition in the Kalfayan Galleries, in Proxenou Koromila 43, Thessaloniki by Hrair Sarkissian, a photographer whose work really took my breath away. The image here doesn't do justice to the original which is best seen in it's 2m by 1 m glory.
Tonight a new scandal is breaking (click here) with yet another video taken by "cops" of women they'd arrested being forced to strip in front of male officers and kiss one another. These are not isolated incidents carried out by a few "bad apples" but rather the more visible examples of a culture of violence, racism and misogyny that is widely embraced by the Greek police force
Once again the comments on the video above give a revealing taste of public opinion concerning such matters.
" don't believe what the Albanians write...
They are race of criminals"
"u f@ckin english ugly fat bitches...he is obviously a junkie and if u were educated with greek culture u could easily understand that he had just stolen a mobile phone..."
"Criminals should not have rights."
I was reading the latest edition of Time which was dedicated to the issue of food, a subject never far from my mind, dear reader. Anyway, some things I found out that I'd like to share;
1 Due to a dramatic drop in the more traditional seafood stocks such as cod, tuna and the like, we are now eating varieties that 40 years ago were considered "trash fish".
2 The Ukitas family in Japan spend $317.25 per week on food!!!!!! And there is only four of them!
3 The Aboubakars in Chad spend $1.23. And there are five of them.
4 800-or-so components go in Nescafe. This may explain why it tastes like the runoff from a toxic landfill.
5 Finns happen to be among the biggest consumers of ice cream per capita.
6 The poor still eat mainly carbohydrates and fats, the rich protein.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
24.06.2006: At least four policemen torture two migrants inside the police station of Omonia in central Athens. They force them to beat each other while one of the policemen repeatedly instructs them to "hit harder" and beats both.
(Bald police officer, to the left):
- Harder, harder. Hit him harder, I'm telling you.
Sit down. You (points to the person to the right) will be number One. And you (points to the person to the left) will be number Two. Whoever hears their number beats up the other one. Do you understand? (Smacks one of the two). Do you understand? What number are you again?
-...and what number are you?
- Allright. Number One. (He smacks his friend).
Number Two. (He does the same).
Number One, five times. Quick, quick!
Number Two. Hit him better. And again... Now sit down. Number One, five times. That's good. Number two, don't turn your head. Sit down. Number two, five times. Faster number Two, faster! Hit harder. Harder!
Now I want you to face each other. Don't stand up, stay like you are, sitting. You will each hit each other with your hands.
-(Police officer in the back) Let's add some some sound. You will both say "what a wanker I was, to go rob that old lady".
-(Bald police officer to the left): Each of you, before hitting the other, will say "I am a wanker".
-(Detainee to the left): I am a wanker (Slaps his friend. Detainee to the right does the same).
-(Officer) Very nice. Don't stop! Harder, hit him harder! Swap over and continue. Now say, "I'm a big wanker" and continue slapping each other. (They both do so. Officer filming the torture laughs).
click here) that was captured by somebody's mobile phone camera. It was a shocking example of the casual violence that police in Greece dish out, especially against minority groups, immigrants and anyone suspected of left-wing views.
The video which was posted on YouTube, of course generated many comments, a lot of which expressed the horror and revulsion many ordinary Greeks feel. On the other hand there were plenty of comments expressing satisfaction at what those arrested had suffered.E.g.
1 "albanians scums" (sic) "
2 "etsi kala tous kanoun..gamo tin alvania tous...
F#CK OFF ALBANIA.."
"They did right. F#ck their Albania"
3 "Katadikazw tin praksi mono giati den egine gia timwria alla gia proswpiki ikanopoiisi..Omws eleos!!!!den dikaiologoume kai tous egklimaties!!!!
skeftite mono na isastan ta thumata!"
"I condemn their actions but only because they did it for personal satisfaction and not to punish. But good grief, we don't justify criminals!!! Just imagine if you were the victims?"
4 "Wraios tropos na pernaei i wra pantws"
"Anyhow, a great way to spend your time"
5 "exw xeskistei sto gelio , exw liwsei leme .Ti gelio einai afto ? axaxaxaxaxaxa . esy eisai to noumero 1 k sy to 2 xaxaxaxaxaxaxa."
6 "I've sha@t myself with laughter. I split my sides. What fun is this? Hahahahahaha. You're number 1, you're number 2. Hahahahaha."
7 "albians shut the fuck up! we are giving you food so , about what revenge are u talking?? WE MUST F@CK ALL ALBANIAS AND LET THEM LEAVE OUR COUNTRY!F@CKING ALBANIAS!" (sic)
This is just a small, if vile taste of the hundreds of comments that have been left on the site in favour of beatings and torture. As you can see there is a huge problem with racial prejudice that rarely gets the attention the mainstream media. Almost invariably it is the immigrant, for example who is demonised as a "criminal", "dirty", "unGreek", "untrustworthy".
If anyone else tells me one more time that there is no problem with racism here in Greece I need only show them this Youtube page.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Click here to see the rest of the Kathimerini article on the changes in the Highway Code in Greece.
Well, it seems the traffic laws only got stricter for schmucks like you and me, and not this fine upstanding citizen who drove his motorbike across Aristotelous Square (supposedly pedestrianised) and stopped sans helmet (supposedly punishable by a 350 euro fine) to chat with the traffic cops outside the the police station.
“We must secure systematic policing and monitoring of those who violate rules in relation to speed, alcohol, seat belts and helmets"
In November I wrote about a similar case of a Cypriot student beaten to a pulp for "resisting arrest" (click here). In reality, his crime was simply walking by a bunch of bored, vindictive plain clothes police who were eager for revenge after failing to deal with rioters. In that case TV footage shows that the cops' uniformed superiors sat by idly and let the boot boys get on with their work (click here).
I'm sure many of you would say that; "you'd cry a different tune if you needed the police's help." Well, the problem is that when they are needed for the boring, routine work of catching criminals their best efforts range from ineffective to non-existent. Once again, bitter personal experience of me and my friends , not to mention the cases highlighted in the media (click here) show that crime detection is far less important than "public order", a euphemism for the protection of those in power.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
BOB - It's the most terrifying day of your life
the day the first one is born.
CHARLOTTE - Yeah. Nobody ever tells you that.
BOB - Your life,
as you know it,
Never to return.
But they learn how to walk,
and they learn how to talk, and...
and you want to be with them.
And they turn out to be the most...
you will ever meet in your life.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
It seems I've won the Photographer of the Week competition at a Flickr group I contribute to. I didn't even realise until somebody sent me an email congratulating me. The only problem is that now it's my turn to nominate another photographer. A real tough job as there are lots of great ones in the group. Anyway I'd like to say thanks once again to Mel-Pin for choosing me.
Check out their blog; plateia.blogspot.com
and their Flickr group; Greeks on Contemporary Greek Life/ Η "Πλατεια" μας
"Have you been to an unusual event? Do you want to shed light on a subject or place that you are interested in, or would you just like to show off your best pictures?
If so then we want you to send us between eight and 10 photographs with captions for presentation as a gallery on the In Pictures page."
You can send it as an email here - firstname.lastname@example.orgAlso it gives some good advice on how to approach this. I think I'm going to be using this as the basis of a few lessons/class project in the following school year;
Ideally, you should aim to take a variety of photographs - it's a good idea to plan the story before you start. A good first photo would be one that introduces the subject to the readers.
When you take the picture, remember to look up or down to see what is around you. You might get a better shot if you kneel, or find a position to look down from.
The completed photo essay will have no more than 10 photographs, but you can send us more to choose from.
Make sure you have permission from anyone pictured before submitting the photographs.
Each picture will need a caption.
Who, what, why, where and when is a good place to start when gathering information for the caption, but where possible quotes from those pictured and a description of how you are feeling will help bring the essay to life.
We don't need many words - no more than 40 per picture.