Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Do Not Squat on Toilet Bowls

poster in a public restroom
Singapore has a very strict cleaning policy. Since 1992 there is a ban on chewing gums considering the act of chewing as littering for which the local law imposes fines from $ 500 to $1000 for first time offenders. If you are caught again the fee will be doubled.

Similarly, the act of smoking is restricted in most of the public outdoor and indoor places with a fine of $200 which rises up to $1,000 if the offender is convicted in court.

These measures showed to be quite effective being the streets and sidewalks of Singapore quite neat.

Unfortunately, toilets still seem to be spots rather difficult to rule with normal laws. In such a hidden space, the fear of being fined does not obtain the same results and it is necessary to act on the civic sense of users by educating them.

The poster aside is an example of the efforts undertaken by Singapore Government. Wrong behaviour though, appears always likely to have undesired effects. If it is not matter of paying a sum of money, punishment can take other forms.

The motto is: Clean public toilets are possible. Let’s make them happen.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Bonobos in the Heart of Darkness

Photo by Tim Flach
part of the  "More than Uman" exhibition
Bonobos and chimpanzees are two similar kinds of primates. So similar that at a first glance you would say it’s only matter of size, being bonobos smaller than chimps. Yet the wide bends of the Congo River has played a big role in separating the two species. In fact, none of them swims -at least for such distances – and this has led to a significant difference in the development of their social organization.

Chimpanzee’s social system is based on the power of a male over a group whose members are framed by a well-defined hierarchy and clashes between neighbour communities are normal in case of border violation.

On the southern side of the Congo River, bonobos gave birth to a different reality. Here the close cooperation among females has wiped out what would be the physical advantage of the males. Male members are actually isolated individuals quite dependent on the mother, especially regarding their role in the group. But it has to be said that social status doesn't really matter among bonobos, for whom sex is the key to solve any form of conflict.

Sex is the way to soften competitiveness and everyone is doing it almost with everyone, without discrimination. When a group of bonobos find a new place to stay, a new happy island full of food in the jungle, general excitement makes that, first of all, collective sexual activities take place. After this every member will devote himself to the nourishment with less vehemence.

In the same region described on the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, bonobos have followed an alternative evolution, a parallel reality based on understanding, mutual aid, and physical contact.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Bonobo nel Cuore di Tenebra

Photo by Emilie Genty 
Bonobo e scimpanzé sono due primati molto simili. A prima vista si direbbe che cambia solo la taglia dato che il bonobo è più piccolo. Eppure le ampie anse del fiume Congo, separando le due specie - nessuno dei due nuota, almeno per così grandi distanze - hanno permesso una notevole differenza nello sviluppo della loro organizzazione sociale.

Lo scimpanzé si basa sul potere di un maschio sul gruppo ed una relativa gerarchia ben definita con scontri tra comunità dovuti a sconfinamenti di territorio. I bonobo invece hanno dato vita a una realtà diversa, in cui la stretta cooperazione tra le femmine ha vanificato quello che sarebbe il vantaggio fisico dei maschi, rendendoli individui isolati e dipendenti dal ruolo nel gruppo della madre. Ogni screzio o motivo di conflittualità viene sublimato nel sesso, che praticamente tutti fanno con tutti senza discriminazione, stemperando in questo modo l'aggressività.

Quando un gruppo di bonobo trova un nuovo posto in cui stare, una nuova isola felice nella giungla piena di cibo, l'eccitamento generale fa si che per prima cosa abbiano luogo attività sessuali collettive, così da dedicarsi al nutrimento con meno irruenza.

Nella stessa regione del Cuore di Tenebra di Joseph Conrad, i bonobo hanno seguito un'evoluzione alternativa, una realtà parallela che si basa sulla comprensione, l'aiuto reciproco e il contatto fisico.