Discovering Google Earth

I finally got to install this thing, and I’m overwhelmed. The feeling you get when you look at a place where you were standing a year ago (a cliff above a botanical garden near Cape Town, 34°20’42.52″S, 18°55’39.40″E) is nothing but godlike. It is like an upgraded view from a plane, except that while sitting in a plane you can’t zoom and rotate. I can see myself driving in a car somewhere in SA (I’m going again this Christmas I hope), pausing to take a look at my notebook, and seeing – now this valley nearby looks pretty, let’s have a small detour… Wow. Strongly recommended.

When I get to process photos from my two previous SA trips, you’ll be probably getting coordinates for every picture :)

Update: I got stuck at it for the whole day, and today I’m getting stuck again. This is a way to make geography an interesting subject in schools. It is a way to fall in love with this planet, if you don’t already love it here. It is a way to understand how it works – you can see the land of India colliding with Asia, and how the Himalaya comes out of that as a drapery on a blanket. You can see the lungs of this planet, the forest of Amazonia, with it’s fields of cloud and the cancer of deforestation – which, seen like this, looks really scary. You can see huge volcanoes in South America. Colors and fractal shapes everywhere. And then the work of humans. Look how huge is Tokyo and it’s surroundings. Look at the amount of smog above Shanghai. Look at the detailed cities of North America and western Europe. Awesome. Google Earth seems to be an amazing achievement. They have done it again. They’ve succeeded in changing the perspective of how we perceive information. I’ll be hungrily awaiting each new detailed place. Thanks, Google! By the way, I started adding some content in Czech rep., which was (until now at least, ha ha) quite poor on information signs.

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DIY Carnival 3.5

DIY Carnival 3.5 in Prague, partly a street rave, partly a protest against the prime minister Paroubek and minister Bublan, who still don’t want to give in after the messed up Czechtek party, was pretty good. Photos are here.

I have come to Vltavska metro station to take a tram up to Hradcanska and then go by foot to Strahov, where the carnival should start. Since there was a football match this evening on Letna, there were a few young guys who came out of the metro with me. Outside on the tram station, we heard a cry and about 200 bald fans of FC Banik Ostrava appeard running to the station around a corner. As they spotted the Prague fans, they went straight for them and started beating them up. You could hear sirens and police cars started to arrive in large numbers. What a start for the carnival. Since I wasn’t dressed like a football fan, the violence swept past me without anyone taking notice of me or any of the other people waiting for the tram, and so I went to Strossmayerovo Namesti and took a tram across Letna to Hradcanska. I was a bit afraid I might encounter more “fans” on the way, and I did, but without any incidents.

I went from Hradcanska to Strahov, and from a distance I could hear overlapping beats of the soundsystems. Masks were often very nice, as you can see in the pictures, some of them were really funny or original (like the snowsleigh, dragged behind a car, metal on which got so hot from the friction that smoke started coming from the wooden part of it). The parade was more then a kilometer long, and went from Strahov down to the river, through the city center and onto the Stvanice island, where it ended. It was quite a walk.

Police took control of traffic, sometimes diverting it and letting it mix with the parade on main crossings in the center. Most drivers were obviously having fun watching us go by, tourists in buses passing along cheered, people were coming out of shops and houses, sometimes joining the parade. Atmosphere was great and I believe whoever joined had a good time. You could see some drunk people, but there weren’t as many of them as we had feared before. At the Stvanice island the music went on for some time.

The atmosphere was similar to the atmosphere on the demonstrations during the summer (reason for them was police action against the Czechtek teknival, worth checking out), but it wasn’t some kind of rigid political protest – it was more like a show what this subculture is about, and although I don’t think it got to all the prejudiced people, who support the police actions, I thing it did have an effect. Despite the fact, that there was almost no media coverage whatsoever – which is unbelievable, for several thousand people marched loudly through the center of Prague, but true. Anyway. Hope to see you next time.

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