Magical Mystery Tour

Today I was remembering Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) from a long time ago - 1967 - when I was living in Britain and the Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour was played on TV.

At that time, this was very 'adventurous' of the BBC and it caused a lot of varying reactions. I remember enjoying it, though, and there were some excellent songs on the EP (remember EPs?) from the film - I Am The Walrus and Fool On The Hill spring to mind.

So for those of you who were around at the time, below is a short trip down memory lane - the intro to Magical Mystery Tour. And for those of you who weren't - enjoy th Beatles when they were pretty much at their prime.

New 7 Wonders of the World

I've just been over to the New 7 Wonders of Nature site to vote. The nominees have to be a clearly defined natural site or natural monument that was not created or significantly altered by humans for aesthetic reasons. They need to be a natural site, natural monument or landscape.

Anyone can vote - in fact you get to vote for 7 nominees - and on January 1st 2009 only one nominee per country will continue. In July, 21 finalists will be chosen, depending on the votes, and then you can vote again to determine the winners.

My first vote went to the Petrified Forest of Lesvos - located on the Island of Lesvos in the Aegean Sea.

This amazing forest ecosystem is made up of hundreds of lying and standing fossilized tree trunks which were covered by volcanic material and petrified in place 20 million years ago. Layers of volcanic ash have revealed pieces of trunks, branches, roots, seeds and leaves as well as fossilized animal bones.

Corfu View With Photsynth

I've just started playing around with Photosynth. If you don't know it, Photosynth is the application by Microsoft where you can create a "cinematic" image and experience from flat photos.

It's free to sign up at the Photosynth site and the actual process of "synthing" your photos is easy, though I've found that you need to work at it a bit to get the best results. There is an explanatory video and you can see what others have created - the whole site is public, so whatever you do can be seen by others.

Anyway, you can see above a view in Corfu from our house, which I created on Photosynth. It would have been better had I had a better camera! On the left in the distance you just make out mainland Albania across the sea, which would have been clearer with a better camera. You can either click on the arrows top, bottom, right and left to move one at a time or click on the arrow in the top right-hand corner for it to play like a slide show.

I'm going to keep practising with it to see if I can get some good quality images. I'm still a complete beginner, but I think it's a great tool!

Antikythera Mechanism - 2000 Year-Old Greek Computer

A complete working model has recently been completed of the Antikythera Mechanism, which many say was the first ever computer. The name comes from the Greek island near which it was found - in a shipwreck - over 100 years ago.

The mechanism is a geared device consisting of 30 gears in a highly complex arrangement and stands witness to the extraordinary mathematical and engineering capabilities of the Ancient Greeks. It is thought to date from between 150 and 100 BC and nothing as complex is known for the next thousand years.

The level of engineering in the mechanism is astonishing by any standards. There`are 3 main dials, one on the front, and two on the back. It is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical "computer" which tracks the cycles of the Solar System. One of the dials on the back is even dedicated to the four-year cycle of the Olympiad Games!

Watch this short clip where museum curator Michael Wright describes how it works. It's quite fascinating! I'm always amazed at the brilliance of the minds in Ancient Greece!

Alexandros Grigoropoulos

Lullaby For An Angel

Following my previous post about the murder of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Saturday, people in Greece have been enraged by the attitude of the policeman who shot him. Not only does he not at least show some sympathy for the family or show some kind of regret, but he has been trying to insult the character of young Alexandros.

Everyone is outraged by the killing and schoolchildren, students and teachers as well as others have been taking to the streets because of this tragic event and some police have incredibly continued their insensitive behaviour by firing their guns, albeit it into the air, in front of young children and in built-up areas with apartment blocks and balconies.

Someone put together the short video above with beautiful, gentle music in memory of Alexandros and called it Lullaby For An Angel. It's very touching.

Alexandros Didn't Come Home

On Saturday night, 15-year old Alexandros went out with his friends as usual. But this time Alexandros didn't come home. It was every parent's nightmare come true.

He didn't go to the usual cafeteria with his friends, but went with his friend Nikos, who was celebrating his name day, along with some others to another cafeteria. It was near the area Exarheia, the so-called "anarchists' ghetto", and as happens all too frequently, there were confrontations between the anarchists and the police.

A police car drove by the cafeteria where Alexandros and his friends were, and at that moment - according to the people who were there - a couple of the anarchists came by and threw some objects at the police car and shouted at them. They then ran off.

The two policemen got out of the car and walked back to the group of friends. Having worked for years in the area, they had developed their own "attitude" to young people. They shouted at the kids there in a demonstration of authority, and unfortunately the kids shouted back and threw a couple of empty plastic bottles.

A few seconds later, Alexandros was lying on the ground with his friend shouting, "He hasn't got a pulse!"

The two policemen were casually walking away.

Alexandros had a bullet in his chest. A bullet fired from a gun in the hands of someone who should never have been allowed to have one.

Alexandros was from a 'middle-class' family and had nothing to do with the extremists and anarchists, yet the anarchists used his death as an excuse to rampage and riot and set fire to the whole of Athens city centre. Several politicians used the incident to fire blame one side on the other.

But there were the others, mainly schoolchildren like Alex, who were shocked and angered in a way they had never been before and protested without violence. There is now a Facebook group which has been formed for him - Alexandros Grigoropoulos (it's mostly in Greek) - and there are already over 90.000 members since yesterday!

His parents? As a parent myself, I can't even allow myself to imagine it. Your child that you have nurtured through pregnancy, infancy and then played with, worried about, shouted at.... isn't there any more. I just won't allow myself to think about it.

Today Alexandros will be buried. His parents will have to live the rest of their lives...

There will be more demonstrations, anger, rioting, violence....

But one thing is certain.

Alexandros will never come home again.

This is Eric Clapton's song "Tears in Heaven" which he wrote when he lost his own child.

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