Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't judge a Book by its Cover

The phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" rarely refers to books at all - and is usually used to advise the listener to keep an open mind about people, places, things and of course books - in short it can be used to describe anything. Basically, the phrase is used to suggest that despite appearances or specifically, first impressions - if you look further you will find something of greater value.

The most recent example is Susan Boyle. Shown in the picture above - she recently appeared on British Television. When she came out - most people were very skeptical - but when she began to sing she surprised everybody with her beautiful voice. For Italians - familiar with San Remo - the British show gives a chance to pure amateurs to appear - but that day, most had not been too impressive and when they first saw Susan Boyle - they did not think she would be impressive either.

But in the case of Susan Boyle ... her performance was way beyond her looks. To see her performance and the crowd reaction - go to:

If you liked that performance and want to hear another song by Susan Boyle then check out her version of Cry Me A River at

Hopefully, now you better understand the saying "don't judge a book by its cover".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paolo Bacigalupi - Author

If you like sci-fi - with an emphasis on ecological themes - then you might be interested in reading the works of Paulo Bacigalupi.

"Paolo Bacigalupi is one of the most exciting of the new breed of short story writers, one whose ecological focus, unflinching penchant for hard truth, and exacting prose is garnering attention inside and outside of the genre."

He is a four-time Hugo Award Nominee, a Nebula Nominee, and the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Award for best science fiction short story of the year. His novel THE WINDUP GIRL will be released this fall from Night Shade Books.

To read a very interesting interview regarding his views on what he thinks the future will be like and and what we can do to change it - go to:

To learn more about this author and to learn more about some of his award winning short stories visit his web site at:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Venice to Use Algae for 50% of Its Electricity

The city of Venice has announced a plan to utilize algae in a different way than we're used to hearing about. The Italian city plans to produce 50 percent of its electricity needs from an algae-based power plant instead of fossil fuels.

“Sargassum muticum” and “Undaria pinnatifida” are the names of two kinds of algae brought by the ships coming from Japan and the Sargassi sea. The algea grows over the seaport of Venice, causing problems for gondolas and ferry boats.

But today it could be turned into a resource.
Italy recently announced a 200 million euro eco-friendly project to harvest the prolific seaweed that lines Venice’s canals and transform it into emissions-free energy. The idea is to set up a power plant fuelled by algae, the first facility of its kind in Italy.

The plant, to be built in collaboration with renewable energy services company Enalg, will be operative in two years and will produce 40 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to half of the energy required by the entire city centre of Venice.

The algae will be cultivated in laboratories and put in plastic cylinders where water, carbon dioxide, and sunshine can trigger photosynthesis. The resulting biomass will be treated further to produce a fuel to turn turbines. The carbon dioxide produced in the process will be fed back to the algae, resulting in zero emissions from the plant. “Venice could represent the beginning of a global revolution of energy and renewable resources. Our goals are to achieve the energetic self-sufficiency for the seaport and to reduce CO2 emissions, including those one produced by the docked ships”, says the president of the seaport of Venice Authority, Paolo Costa.

The idea sounds good and seems to open great possibilities for zero emission energy production; Venice could represent the first step of a real innovative evolution even if there are still some doubts about the huge amount of money required for this project and the authorization needed to built the plant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Italian Designers to be Replaced by Elephants?

Italian designers better watch out!

The designs on the silk sun dresses shown above are based on paintings made by elephants - I kid you not.

Everybody knows elephants are smart - but did you know they can also paint? If you don't believe me then check out this video -- it's amazing.

The idea behind the dresses is to bring awareness and attention to the Asian Elephant & Conservation Project.

If you would like to learn more about this group, see more examples of paintings by elephants or find out where you can buy a super sun dress designed by an elephant - then check out their web site at:

P.S. To read a true story about how an elephant saved my daughter click on this link:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pizza-making Vending Machning Serves Fresh Pies in Three Minutes

Let's play some word association. If I say "pizza vending machine," what's the first thing that pops into your mind? Fast, maybe, but probably not delicious or fresh.

Claudio Torghele, inventor of the "Let's Pizza" vending machine, wants his automated chef to be all three. It can churn out one of four different pies in only three minutes, but it's not just warming up frozen pizza. It'll prepare fresh dough, shape it, sauce it, top it and cook it, sliding a full pie out of a slot — all for just shy of five bucks.

Torghele has plans to bring the vending machine to the United States as well as spread it around Europe, though right now it's slugging it out in a shopping mall in Trentino, Italy. As someone who lives with a dozen awesome pizzerias within easy walking distance, I'd pass right by one of these on the street. In a mall, though? Sure, I'd try it out.

Author's Note: this article was reprinted from DVICE.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Louisiana Road Sign

Here's one reason why it helps to be able to read English when visiting America.