Monday, November 22, 2004

FMR magazine

I can't remember when I first came across the gorgeous art and culture magazine FMR Magazine published by Italian publisher Franco Maria Ricci, but it must have been something like 1985 or 1986. I remember back then drooling over the thick paper stock, the black gloss pages and the lush photography of incredible artworks, buildings and antiques, and the accompanying articles by top notch writers. I do remember though just how expensive it was, very, very expensive for a magazine. Even a really beautiful one. In my mind it became one of the symbols which opitimised the celebration of the 'high life' so popular in the 80's.

Fast forward roughly 15 years and I was looking through a discount bookseller's stall while on holidays in Perth, Western Australia, when I discovered stacks of old FMR Magazine issues from the late 80's. I was nearing the end of my holiday and money was scarce, but I picked through and bought 4 issues which were in good condition and had amazingly beautiful contents.

I always assumed the magazine went under, a classic victim of the end of 80's excess but I was wrong. It is still on sale and appears to be going strong, but available only through subscription. Very expensive subscription!

More info about the magazine can be found here (just click the *enter Franco Maria Ricci's world* link).

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I Love Science

I would love to have seen the grant proposal for this research.

PS. The last paragraph totally freaks me out. 'Coagulates'... [shudder]

Friday, November 05, 2004

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I remember years ago hearing about a project called Arcosanti, whereby an Italian architect Paulo Soleri was building a small prototype city in the Arizona desert. From the website it would seem that his work revolves around high density and multi-use facilities built along ecological principles. A percentage of the site is already built and the public spaces in particular look quite interesting. The project has been underway for around 30 years and they are still a long way off being finished by the look of it.

Soleri seems to be very optimistic that good design can positively affect social interaction. Some of his designs are quite arrestingly poetic in scope and scale, but I'm curious as to what it would be like to actually live in such a planned city. Living in a high density community is one thing when it is a campus of like-minded architecture students motivated with a single goal. What happens though when the Jones's with their late night parties and Sunday morning screaming matches end up cheek-by-jowl next door?

Laughter Under The Stars

I think I increased my Weirdness Factor with my friends and co-workers by telling them that I went to a Christmas party... on the 29th of October... at a Buddhist centre.

(It isn't quite as contradictory as it sounds. Buddhism itself doesn't deny other religions and believes that all faith systems with a core of compassion, and an ideal of freeing all beings from suffering, are valid. Many Buddhists also see Jesus as having been a Bodhisattva, a supremely compassionate being working to free all beings from suffering.)

As to the choice of 29th October, it was because the Lama in residence and a number of students were taking off to India shortly after, for teachings with His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

The evening was beautifull, cool and clear as we sat outside at tables in the garden under fairy lights and lanterns. I met many new people, struck up conversations with people I had only a passing acquaintence with, laughed and generally had a lovely time. I sat next to an interesting Korean man who talked about his love of the 'T. Lobsang Rampa' books as a teenager, and how even though in hindsight they are works of fantasy and fiction, they gave him enough of a taste of Tibetan Buddhism to start him off on the spiritual path that lead him to where he is now. (There is an interesting and crticial review of the influence of the Rampa books and the 'fictionalising of Tibet' here.)

So an interesting evening, and a nice reminder that there is considerable value in developing a sense of community with other people who are pursuing a similar spiritual quest, no matter what form that takes.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Chicken Or The Beef?

I find this website about Airline meals strangely compelling. My initial reactions were "what the fuh?" and astonishment at the scope of it. 10,000+ reader submitted images and reviews covering over 400 airlines.

It turns out to be one of those wonderful success stories that crop up on the net occasionally, someone starts a niche interest website that strikes a cord with people and it takes off (sorry about the pun). Read the 'about' for the interesting history of how the site came to be. Some airlines are now actively using the customer reviews to monitor the customer reactions to their meals and the reviewer photos to monitor quality control and to ensure the cabin crews are presenting everything properly. The Dutch graphic artist who started and runs the site has now added other airline related ephemera such as vintage meal pics and advertising, and related airline food topics such as lounge food and behind-the-scenes of catering facilities.

As I said, strangely compelling.

Updated: I just noticed that the Aussie paper the Sun Herald recently did an article on which makes for interesting reading