Friday, 1 June 2012

Is an electric car greener than a gasoline one?

I was having an interesting discussion with my friend Arturo about what´s the real carbon footprint of an electric car, in a country like Mexico, where 76% of the electricity is generated by fossil fuels.  So I made some quick calculations to see if even in that case, an electric car is a greener option.  It seems that it is, but just for a little difference.

BP reported emissions of 135.32 Mtons CO2e in 2010, including extraction, refining and petrochemicals.  For the same year, BP production was 3.81 millions of barrels a day, which means 1389.65 millions of barrels in 2010.

That means 
0.0974 tons CO2/barrel ;  1 barrel =  158.9873 L ;  1 ton = 1000 kg
0.6125 kg CO2/ litre
612.5 g CO2/litre

The Nissan micra has a fuel consumption of 47.5 MPG and average CO2 outpout of 147.8 g/km

47.5 MPG ;  1 mile = 1.61 km ; 1 Gallon = 3.79 litres
Therefore  20.18 km/litre
So, the CO2e for the oil production for the micra will be
30.35 g CO2/km

Total CO2e,  30.35+147.8

178.15 g CO2e/km

Now, for the Nissan Leaf (electric car) , it has a consumption of 0.34 kW·h/mi,  or 0.211 kW·h/km

According to greenpeace,  the total emissions of CO2 for electricity production in 2008 were 112.5 Mton CO2e,  for a total production of 235.87 TW·h

That is 0.4769 kg CO2/kW·h  or 476.9 g CO2/kW·h

Therefore 100.63 g CO2e/km

It's interesting to compare with the USA data.  Again taking the Micra values, we have  (20.18*147.8) = 2982.6 gCO2/litre.  Nissan values for the leaf are 0.024 litre/km of gasoline equivalent, which will mean that in the USA the leaf will be producing  71.58 gCO2e/km

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Occupy London

It all started in Spain, on the 15 May (15M) Movement that went to the streets in  the mayor Spaniard cities to demonstrate against the austerity measures and the banking system that provoked the financial crisis.  Marching as a form of protests is not new, but this time it didn't end in just a march, Los Indignados (The Outraged) stayed on La Puerta del Sol, one of the main squares of Madrid, and the occupy movement started. Now on the 15 October (15 O) The movement went global.

The 15M movement transformed itself to the Democracia Real Ya! (Real Democracy Now) movement, and a peaceful ocupy of Madrid and other cities begun.  They created groups of discussion to try to find a Manifesto that could represent the views of all who were protesting, which were from all ages and social classes. This discussion groups are trying to not only complain but start producing proposals for a change.

It was not many day after 15 May that the movement started to spread, the first ones to adopt it were the Greeks, another country who has been severely affected by the economic crisis, or perhaps just because they remembered that that form of direct democracy and discussion groups in public spaces were how they used to run things in the Socrates' Athens.  So even when not returning to the Agora, they went to Syntagma Square.  I was lucky to be on Athens during the summer protests and talk to some of the people who are occupying the square, and I notice that their ideas and worries were the same as in everywhere else.

More protests around the world started to happen, march, strikes, all asking that the world of inequality, greed, and rampant capitalism that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, and decimates the middle class; to finish.

Finally the movement surprisingly moved to the country where that gap between the richer and the poorer is worst than anywhere else in the world, the USA.  And people went out to occupy the financial centre of the country, Wall Street.   And so the Ocuppy Wall Street movement started.

It was unavoidable that in the era of communications, internet and the social networks for this not to become a global phenomena, specially because the flawed economic system exists globally, as it's the inequality and social problems associated with it.

I participated of the 15O Occupy London protests, and I was very happy to see people coming out to the streets to say that enough is enough.  As with the aforementioned protests around the world, discussion groups were created to decide the next steps of the movement and to start to find solution, that could work locally in the UK and also could make a global change.  As to yesterday there were no major violence problems with the police, who surrounded the area of the protest around Saint Paul's Cathedral, since the protesters were not allowed to occupy the London Exchange Market.  A few moments were it seemed that confrontation was going to start ended being controlled, with the speakers asking the rest to sit and stay peaceful.

Personally, I found the experience very powerful, not only for it's significance on the UK, but to know that the same was happening in all the major cities of the planet. From Sydney, Tokyo following the earth spinning all the way to Vancouver the world said with one voice, we are tired, this has to change.

A fried of mine asked me some interesting questions, which I'm sure are on the mind of many people right now.  What does this vague 'anti-capitalism' mean? What is the movement pro? How can anything be achieved by this when nothing is being asked for? How can a whole economic system be opposed without proposing an alternative (what?) and what is wrong with social democracy within an overarching Capitalist economy?

It's difficult to give a single answer. The movement even when global it has different priorities locally, In Australia they included the rights of the Aboriginals, in Tokyo they speak against the nuclear energy plants, in Mexico they talked about ending the corruption and the drug traffic violence.  In London there were talks about the NHS and the University fees. So, there was punctual objectives and things people were asking for.

The movement is not anti-capitalism per se, is anti the current form of capitalism, against a system that makes the gap between rich and poor bigger each passing day, which has not help the poorer countries of the world to get out of their situation.  Is not against corporations and banks in general, is against those corporations and banks who put profit before anything else, before social responsibility, before safety, before environmental responsibility, etc.

Now, the work and discussion groups are going to try to answer what is the alternative and propose actions, everyone is invited to go and join, everyone can think on alternatives and put them on the table for discussion and agreement, so let's be pro-positive, and let's make the change by ourselves, not waiting that things are changed by others or by a government that is not working for the interests of the majority.

This is just the beginning and is for the population of this planet to decide where to go.

Check more pictures of the 15O in London on my picassa album HERE

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A guide to myself

This post is about social skills.  We live in a society where “People persons” are put as the successful and lead examples, however people like me who are introvert just don’t have a place in society,  I found this article about The 10 myths of introvert people resonating so much with me that It was scary, kind of, so I’m not the only one with this problem? Or is it really a problem? I’m not shy, I don’t fear people, I’m even comfortable talking, singing or acting infront of a big crowd, I’m just different in my social interactions.

A few days ago I read that we should all have a “guide to themselves” which would be really, really nice and avoid lots of problems should everyone read it.  So I thought, ok I should write the 10 point of interacting with me that everyone should know.

1) On the internet nobody knows I’m an introvert.  – I tend to write long and articulated post on social media, and frequently doing blog entries, etc.  so people would assume that I like to talk a lot. And I do love to talk, but I just unable to keep small talk, it’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, is just that I don’t know how to keep small talk chat by myself, but if it’s a topic that interest me I can stay talking, literally, hours about it.

2) I’m not very used to physical contact, and usually have a clumsy reaction when people approach physically to me, even if it’s just on a friendly non-romantic way.   Having say that, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like physical contact, or that I don’t enjoy it, I do, an very much, just that I wouldn’t do it unless I know you very well.

3) I would probably stay quiet on a group talking, I tend to think faster than my language skills, so find the dynamics of group chat exhausting, so I prefer to listen.  However I do enjoy very much small groups or one-to-one chats. I enjoy talking to people, but I enjoy it more when it’s just One person at a time.

4) I love to listen,  I really enjoy listening to other people’s thoughts, experiences, etc.  so even if at first glance it seems that I’m not interested in you, I probably am.

5) Don’t expect me to understand subtle messages.  It’s very hard for me to guess other people’s needs if they don’t speak them (or write them) aloud, most of the times the subtle messages will just fly over my head.  I can read your body language, your voice tone, even the written tone and know that you may be upset with me, but most of the time I will have no idea why and people would just assume that I should know why, well, no,  speak and be direct, I prefer people to be direct to the risk of being rude, than assume I can read minds. In the same way, I'm direct and I just mean what I say, nothing more, nothing less.
6) I’m not selfish, not on purpose, I do care about people, but sometimes I’m so immerse in my thoughts that I could loose from my sight your own needs, talk about them, see point above.

7) I can find social gatherings, like parties with lots of people exhausting, even if I’m having fun.  So, if I take some minutes to retreat and just being by myself, doesn’t mean that I don’t want to interact anymore with you, I’m just charging batteries.

8) I’m passionate and hold strong opinions about things, and probably will debate them strongly (never being rude or calling people names, or anything like that), but I don’t mean to offend you personally, for me debates are intellectual exercises, as fun as you probably would find playing a soccer match or other competition sport (I say probably because I don’t find them fun, but that’s another topic). But after the debate is over, it’s over, I don’t take it personally and usually move on.

9) I’m very bad at being polite and never fully understood that kind of social rules, so, often you could find that under your point of view I’m rude.  And probably I am, but not on purpose, if something I say offends you or you find it rude, tell me, I will take note and try not to make the same mistake again.

10) I’m not difficult, scary, or arrogant, even when most of the time that’s the impression I give to people, I do enjoy making new friends, I do enjoy and need sharing my thoughts and joys, and even my sad moments with people, I guess I just need patience, I have try, for 31 years to change and fix myself on this, unfortunately this just doesn’t seem to go away. So, perhaps people after reading this will avoid me like the plague, I just hope that it has the contrary effect in at least some of you.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Do we need to analyse art?

Is it art something to be analysed and teach?

Some time ago,  I saw this video:

It has being a long time since I saw something on the internet that moved me to the point that I share a couple of tears.  And it’s not only that this young man speaks with passion, it’s that what he said resonates with me deep inside.

I love art in all its forms, my favourite being of course music, but poetry is a close second. Both get a special shining brilliance when they become performing arts. Surely, you can enjoy a recording of a song/melody and enjoy deeply the reading of a poetry book, but the strength and power that some people have when performing makes them go to a level that can move you inside as no other.

But performing or not, art needs to be about feelings, about searching beauty and pleasure, for beauty and pleasure sake.   We live in world when everything is analyzed, we read reviews and critics talk about the technicalities of the piece of art itself, we ask our students to give objective and academic reviews of works.  How good is the musician technique, how perfect are the lights and perspective in photography, how well written is a poem; but I find that people forget to mention what is really important, what does that piece of art made you feel?

Is it art something that really belongs to the academia? Professional artists, who spend years learning their skills on the academia have the advantage of a better knowledge of their tools, they even get clues on how to enhance their creative part.  A composer who understands the technicalities of orchestration have the tools to make great compositions. So I’m not talking about the people who go to colleges and universities to be professionals, they deserve all my respect, and I fully understand why that’s needed. Although I would add that for there are people whose talent is so great that even if they are self taught, they can produce monumental master pieces.

And furthermore, academic art, is becoming and intellectual exercise, it's losing it's most important basis, to be the conveyor of your feelings.  You go out to a concert, listen to the piece, and it doesn't move you inside, you will probably understand the author on an intellectual level, see the good practices and techniques, see why he mixed or used certain motives, and even enjoy it very much with the rational part of your brain. But In my humble opinion, that's not what art is about.

But when art becomes something of the elites, something that needs to be analyzed, or needs to be understood under certain parameters, it loose its soul.  There’s something deeply wrong with the educational system that force students to submit essays about a poem or a symphony, there’s something broken when the critics focus solely on the production, techniques and make their reviews an academic exercise.

Are there really good and bad works of art, or just art that moves you and the one who doesn’t.  Is the commercial popular art fulfilling its role as a medium of feeling-share or just a commercial goal? Is the academic and historic art too elitists?  Do we need a change on our perception of it from schools to day-to-day life?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Bisexual Revolution: Documentary Review

Co-directed and written by Laure Michel and Eric Wastiaux, La bisexualité : tout un art?  (titled Bisexual Revolution for the english-speaking market) is a 2010 documentary about bisexuality, its culture, its cultural manifestations, taboos, myths, realities, and perceptions.  It goes through a series of interviews in Paris, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, Montreal artists, writers and psychologists, about the subject in point.

Although it all goes in an intellectual and artistic discussion format, it's not the kind of documentary that goes down to really interact with "normal" people in their lives, apart from a few street-interviews.  That of course doesn't make it less valuable or boring, but a very traditional documentary approach in that way.
It covers a lot of topics and issues about bisexuality and its different cultural, artistic and social manifestations. As well as its perception from the three points of view, the heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual communities.

Bisexuality has existed in all cultures and times, and the most well known examples for us westerns, are ancient Greece and Rome.  But after 2000 years of christian ban on sexualities that don't follow the hetero-normative and patriarchal hierarchy that the abrahamic monotheisms imposed as a norm in the world, sexual diversity has re-emerge in the 20th century, and it's winning its rightful place in society by the 21st century.   The documentary acknoledge that fact and give us  a quick overview of the history of bisexuality, and how for the very nature of it, it has being able to be "hidden" when the time of repression was on, just living underground.

We can hide if we want to, says Regina Reinhart, from the American Institute of Bisexuality,  but the fact is that we are developing a pride in our sexual orientation, we are making films, we are writting books, giving interviews, we are out and proud.

But be out and proud for a bisexual is, at least today, harder than to a homosexual person, since discrimination from both, the hetero and gay communities come into place.  Bisexuals are just confused, are just gays who can't accept themselves, are just going through a phase.  Many of the prejudices that 20 or 30 years ago were applied to the gay and lesbian community, are now applied to the bisexual one.

And how bisexuals see themselves?  Sexuality goes well beyond the sexual act, it goes into the affection, feelings and social culture associated with romantic love.  That leads many people to not really know or accept they are bisexual.  what if I'm totally homo or if I'm kidding myself.  What if I like the active/controller role with girls and the passive submissive role with boys? is that possible?  ask Titof a porn film star and director from Paris.   And how about bi-affective people, those who can develop a big emotional and even romantic bond with the two genres but mainly just a sexual bond with one of them, or at least in a higher percentage, since, like another broken myth says, bisexuals are not 50/50 in their preferences.  With women is more a fusion of body and soul, but with men is a sexual intensity that I can't find with women, says Narcys, a pop/indie singer from Paris.

Michel Dorais from Université Laval in Montreal, Quebec,  explains how in a world based on binary trends, ie. good/bad, day/night, male/female, heterosexual/homosexual;  bisexuality brakes the establishment and confuses society. Bisexuality is perceived as dangerous, as unstable, unreliable.   And perhaps this perceptions more than the idea of love without a specific genre is what has boost bi-phobia on society.
But is it there a bisexual culture? as the gay and lesbian cultures?  or being so in the middle has made bisexuality a grey area where there's no a definite cultural manifestation?

 The documentary focus on two ways of this cultural/social manifestations.  First it's the artistic and activist point of view. Singers as Narcys, have made explicit songs about bisexuality and gender identification, as You dream about it (Toi t'en rêves)

or Alex Beaupain, composer of the songs for Les Chansons d'Amour (Love Songs) a bisexual film/musical. 

Books, paintings, poetry.  A lot of cultural manifestations have being based on bisexual themes.  But despite all this it's difficult to find a defined tribal element, as with the gay and lesbian culture.   Which is sometimes a problem for some bisexual people themselves, since they grow this feeling of not belonging anywhere.

The second social and cultural manifestation is one that has being associated with bisexuality, and that to some extent is true for a sector of the bisexual community.  The sexual freedom of the 21st century, bisexuals are perceived as open minded, as someone who's open to everything. Therefore promiscuity and sexual activities as sex-parties and poly amorous relationships are linked to bisexuality, and the documentary ask a valid question.  Would this sexual freedom and openness, where everything is valid with anyone, as long as it's between consenting adults,  will make that the society of the future will embrace bisexuality as the norm?

There's a sense of freedom in bisexuality. A freedom of not requiring to comply with any norms or stereotypes.  Men and women have grow up with an educational baggage, a role in society, an idea of their meaning of existence socially culturally and sexually.  Bisexuality brakes all of this into pieces, men can enjoy the freedom of not having the responsibility of being the ones to provide the orgasm to their women, but being able to experience that passive role themselves, women are free to be strong and leading the way with other women in a relationship, and this freedom stays with them should they decide to go back to a heterosexual relationship, they discover that all those roles created by society are not fixed on stone.   They also have freedom from the gay culture that has its own prejudices, roles and stereotypes.  But at the same time they can be sympathetic to both men and women needs, both heterosexual and homosexual communities, it's cultural manifestations, it's worries and joys, the fight for their rights and freedoms.

Perhaps, just perhaps, there's some self identified heterosexuals and homosexuals who would like to experience that freedom. Some could, some will not,  but at least the awareness that the world is not just black and white would help bisexual people to live without prejudices and rejection.

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