... in buenos aires

Moebius (urban knot theory)

05 Feb 2007 | 258 words | movies buenos aires public transport urbanism

There is an amazing post about sewer systems under the big cities of Europe, America and Australian over at BDLGBLOG (amazing pictures as well!). It argues that the complexities of these sewer/tunnel systems is best being understood as more or less complex mathematical systems (knot theory):

Manchester’s storm overflow sewers, the rumor goes, are actually topological models. They are knot theory in built form.

Other rumors claim that a former student of that program is now Chief Engineer for the city of Brisbane, Australia, where he leads the construction of new civic infrastructure; every sewer and spillway built there is designed by him alone. As a result, each time you flush a toilet in Brisbane, a bewildering and exhaustively contorted world of concrete knots and brick culverts comes to life, engineered to faultless precision, washing everyone’s waste out to sea.

Manifolds, loops, toroids, even prime number sequences: the entire history of Western mathematics can be derived from the sewers of Brisbane, monuments of urban plumbing.

Whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite ever movies called Moebius in which a train on the subway system of Buenos Aires suddenly disappears and a mathematician is called in to examine the mystery. although the movie is student project of the Universidad de Cine in Buenos Aires it is extremely beautiful (if you like subway tunnels that is…)

It used to be pretty much unavailable (i even went to the Universidad de Cine and they did not have copies for sale) but it seems to be available as a torrent.

City of meat

22 Jan 2006 | 97 words | argentina photos meat food buenos aires cities

To celebrate(?) the fact that i have started to eat meat again (after 12 or so years) i have created a flickr set highlighting some meat related pictures in i took during my two visits to Buenos Aires (in 2004 as a vegetarian and in 2006 after having started to eat meat again in Patagonia). It might be possible to go to Argentina as a vegetarian, but to come back for a second time and still refuse to eat meat comes down to masochism. Remains to be seen if i will continue eating meat here in Europe.

Argentinean technicians

I almost missed my flight today. First air france offered me €150 and Hotel costs if i would consider flying the next day as the flight was overbooked. Given that it was sunny 30C in BsAs and snowy -2C in Berlin i immediately accepted their proposal. i was given a voucher for €150 and asked to wait for half an hour in case they would have place on the plane. unfortunately they had, but they told me to keep the €150 as a reward for my flexibility (my first ever experience of this capitalist mantra for more flexibility (of the workforce) producing tangible results!

Ironically AF’s computer system seems to be much less flexible than me: in Paris it took them about 40 minutes to turn the voucher into cash as the procedures involved where too complicated for all 8 employees present). The whole procedure (the one in BsAs not the one in Paris) had taken so much time that i had about 40 minutes left to get to the gate (through immigration and security check). Normally this is not a problem unless one is confronted with invisible argentinean technicians causing a 30 minute queue in front of the immigration control booths:

excuse the nuisances

The whole sign makes me wonder of Indian technicians or German engineers would be able to upgrade their systems in a way that ensures faster throughput during the operation. I highly doubt this, as – at least in my case – the procedure was really efficient: take the passport, scan it, enter the date of departure in the computer system, stamp the passport in about 15 seconds. Can’t really see how they want to optimize this procedure. Given that the old implementation of the migration control system was supplied by the US it might take out that one particular second required to send the data to the CIA….

Please do not punish us we are only doing what others have done before us

18 Jan 2006 | 285 words | argentina museum buenos aires art exhibition drugs

The otherwise excellent MALBA (Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires) is currently showing works of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica in a solo exhibition. One of the elements present in all 5 works on display are photographic representations of cocaine (or to be precise lines of coke laid out on top of photographs of jimi hendrix, jesus, marilyn monroe and the like…).

However it seems like the curators of the show had the idea that they were sending out a bit of a mixed message here (or that there is a stupid law that does not allow minors to see works of art that depict drug use) and decided to put up a warning message at the entrance of that particular section of the museum:

warning message

[now i can’t translate this as i do not speak spanish but my understanding is that this means something like this: ‘Entrance prohibited for anyone under 18 years of age. This exhibition includes photographs depicting the use of drugs. The consumption of these drugs results in irreversible health damage. These works have been shown in various of the worlds most renowned museums in cities like New York, Barcelona, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro among others’]

I really like the part where they are hiding behind the fact that other museums have shown these works. Makes me somehow doubt that the MALBA will ever show a controversial exhibition for the first time (although Alan assures me that they have a really fine film screening programme & if anyone really wanted to stop people from taking cocaine in Argentina the should rather focus on the price (to low) and the quality (to good) of said agricultural produce).

If I was running an airline...

… I would not sponsor a street called ’11th of spetember’ as this invokes slightly too much images of planes crashing into buildings in my head. Areolineas Argentinas (the argentininan flag carrier) seems to think otherwise as this street sign form the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Belgrano illustrates:

The street in question seems to have this name since before the 9/11 2004 but (at least to me) it is unclear what the name referrs to. One possibility would be that the name is given in commemoration of the 1973 military coup in neigbouring Chile (this is a slightly strange event to name a street after in itself but given Argentinias political history not inconcievable). The only genuine Argentinian event mentioned in the wikipedia entry for 11 september is the death of the Argentinian statesman Domingo Faustino Sarmiento who died on the 11th of September 1888.

Back in Buenos Aires

13 Jan 2006 | 151 words | argentina photos cities buenos aires

After 9 days in Patagonia i am back in Buenos Aires and will probably stay here till i go back to Berlin on the 19th. Have bought myself a bike and started to explore the city. The character of the city is a really strange mix of speed (alsmost hecktic when i to comes to the inhabitants) slowness and style (especially when it comes to waiters and espresso machines).

While cycling through the downtown financial district today, i came across this scrap collector who was pushing along his push cart loaded with the discarded sign of a restaurant. I really like the photo i took of him and his cart. while i tried to take another one from a higher vantage point he found two abandond chairs on the side of the street which he loaded on top of the sign so this is the only picture i managed to take…

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: