Viridian Note 00204: Dutch Solar Parliament

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
Holland, solar panels, European politics, guerrilla solar activism, Neologue Contest

Attention Conservation Notice: Euro politics. Plus, half of this Note is yet more of that Neologue Contest. Over 2,000 words.

Associated Press, October 25, 02000 Craig Rimlinger

"Dutch Parliament switching to solar energy

By CRAIG RIMLINGER, Associated Press Writer

"THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) Solar panels are going up on the roof of the medieval parliament building despite the rainy Dutch climate, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

(((They kept taking trains to Berlin and looking wistfully at that Foster Reichstag.)))

"Parliament spokeswoman Leonne Gartz said that by the end of the year the solar panels will be mounted on the tiled roof of the red-brick building, built in stages between the 13th and 17th centuries. The project will cost 500,000 guilders ($200,000).

(((Luckily, they will be able to amortize that investment from a financial base starting in the 1200s.)))

"'They should be working in January, maybe earlier,' she said, adding that the panels will not cloud the beauty of the structure, which encloses a public courtyard is partly surrounded by a lily-fringed moat.

(((Hey, that moat is a great algae biomass opportunity!)))

"'The roof is fairly large so if you put (the panels) in the middle and toward the back, you can't see them from the street,' said the spokesman, who declined to say how many would be installed. (((It's a state secret: they could tell us, but then they'd have to kill us.)))

"Gartz said the project is part of a 10-year initiative to convert the entire building to solar energy, even though the Netherlands gets an average of 131 days of rain per year and plenty more overcast days.

(((Yeah, and imagine the tidal-power opportunity when the rising Greenhouse seas come over the dikes.)))

(...) "Although the announcement came weeks before the Netherlands hosts a U.N. conference on global climate change, the spokeswoman said that was nothing more than 'a funny coincidence.'

"She also denied it had anything to do with a Greenpeace protest last month, when environmental activists climbed onto the tower above Prime Minister Wim Kok's office and laid solar panels on the roof. The tower is connected to the parliament building."

(((Oh sure. No possible connections there! Strangely, these Dutch Greenpeace guys aren't the only people who go around surreptitiously attaching solar panels to stuff. It would appear to be an increasingly popular hobby. Not that we Viridians condone this semilegal activity, but hey, gotta start somewhere, even if it's a mere parliament.)))

Rockin' T-shirt! Beats anything Greenpeace ever printed!

Viridian Neologue Contest This Contest Ends in Six Days: October 31, 02000

The place to find other Viridian competitions, including earlier entries in the ongoing Neologue Contest:

From:^^* (Rev. Gene Cavanaugh)

Here is a brief description of a communications device which is badly needed in our society. The brand name of this modern marvel, from this day henceforth, shall be DICTOSHIELD. Its purpose is to provide a privatized communications system to a group located in a noisy, chaotic environment.

The DICTOSHIELD will allow specified groups of four to twenty people to conduct casual conversations while seated at a noisy restaurant, a baseball game, a jazz festival or any sound-polluted area. Working parts of this system are, simply, earphones, a receiver/transmitter, and a tiny wraparound microphone for each group member == plus a chip that can recognize and will transmit only the voices of people in the private network.

Is there really a need for such a contrivance? The answer is a resounding YES! Consider, for example, that vast army of well-heeled senior citizens who refuse to enter certain restaurants because they are 'too noisy'. Many of these people are hard of hearing, and find that their favorite pastimes: telling jokes, giving updates on their physical conditions, spouting political theories, or just plain pontificating, get very little play when they are surrounded by 'noise pollution'. They want to hear and be heard by family and friends, while enjoying a fine meal. This problem is especially acute when groups of eight, ten, twelve, or more gather at one table. Most members in these larger groups feel completely isolated. Thoughtful and enterprising restaurant owners, as an added service, might make this equipment available to 'sound-sensitive' patrons.

This should be a no-brainer for entrepreneurs who can assemble, package, advertise and distribute these sets to electronic hardware outlets. And remember folks, when you finally get your very own DICTOSHIELD, you heard about it first at Viridian Neologue.

From:^^^*** (Dave Prager)

  1. Nielson2000

Voice sensor judges audience reaction to television/radio/web sites. Measures all sorts of human vocalizations: laughter during sitcoms (as opposed to snorts of disgust, or dead silence), crying/sniffling during particularly moving TV dramas, singing along to radio programs, murmurs of comprehension/agreement while reading/watching news, etc.

Also of use for politicians during political commercials/debates == get instant feedback on a politician's level of acceptance/approval by measuring the vocal outbursts that accompany a statement. (I was screaming at my television set during the Presidential debates... perhaps my vocalizations could now a better purpose then annoying my roomate.)

  1. Hands-free elevators

Twenty-seven, please.

  1. Hands-free faucets.

Voice recognition:

While shaving/showering/washing dishes. "Hotter." "Colder." "Less flow." "Off." "On."

Sound recognition:

Recognizes the sound of a razor blade being drawn against the skin, or teeth brushing, or dishes being rattled in the dishwasher. The chip knows that those sounds indicate the water is not being actively used at that particular moment, and slows or stops the water flow accordingly.

From:* (Jason Thomas)

I perceive that my previous contest-entry wasn't entirely relevant to a conceptual art contest. It didn't SAY anything. Try this:

The Last Machine

This is a mobile extrusion machine. It lives in some large source of sand, preferably in an area well above sea level. The moon would work well. The machine has a powerplant of some kind, long lasting, and it doesn't matter if it's dirty.

What it does is simple
It scans the airwaves for human speech, of any language. When it no longer hears any, it sits and listens for a while longer, just to make sure.

Then, it begins making grave markers, out of sand and some sort of locally available binder, and placing them in neat rows. When it's made six billion, it stops.

From:^^^^^** (Warren Apel)

Yet another Neologue entry:

A microphone that filters out "um's" and "uh's." In rehearsal, it could give a mild electrical shock to the speaker to train him or her to avoid awkward pause- fillers, but in actual use, it would simply reduce volume on programmed keywords. As long as I'm dreaming about it, why not make it fill the gap in by stretching out the most recent words. It could record ten seconds at a time and smooth out all the pauses and gaps to make the final product much more listenable.

(Stefan Jones)
Neologue Entry
Voice-controlled message display for rear window of car

The Back Talk is a voice-controlled LED "zipper board" that attaches to the inside of your car's rear window with suction cups.

The character-display elements are jointed, so that the whole unit can flex slightly; this allows the board to conform to the curve of the window. The individual LEDs are sunk in deep sockets, so that only the driver directly behind can see the display; socketing also makes the message more visible during daylight.

The Back Talk doesn't actually translate speech to text; the voice recognition unit triggers the display of a preset message. The driver would shout the desired message, which would play for a half-minute of so, or until the driver shouted "CLEAR!"

The unit can be "trained" and new messages added via a cable connection to a standard PC/Mac USB port. Included messages would be bland and cheery, like "THANKS FOR LETTING ME IN" and "BABY ON BOARD" and "PLEASE DON'T TAILGATE." Of course, users can enter any message they want.

A really sophisticated version of this would paint messages on a specially treated rear window using a laser, but an LED panel is a good place to start.

(Alan AtKisson)

Very simple.

A little module that can be attached to anything, anywhere. Preferably hidden, and often moved.

When it hears the phrase "God," "Oh God," or "Oh my God," a scintillating contralto woman's voice, surrounded by multi-dimensional synth sounds, says, "Yes?"

From:* (Emma Baillie)


A woman sits in a darkened room. White noise plays in the background, not a breath of air disturbs the stillness. Nothing can be heard but her voice, speaking commands to the room. The room remains quiet and unresponsive. Then she utters the key phrase:

"Let there be light!"

All at once a soft glow illuminates the room from huge LCD screens panelling each wall, and the ceiling. The commands continue. "Let the light be separated from the darkness", "Let there be trees and grass, and all manner of growing things". Images appear on the walls representing the results of her instructions - plants and animals and insects and stars. Her virtual world comes to life.

But something is wrong. She has spoken into existence green plants, but waits too long before requiring insects. Many of the plants, deprived of any means of pollination, start to die out. She corrects her mistake. The insects multiply over the face of the earth, with no animals to eat them and keep them in check. "More plants!" she cries. "Herbivores!" "Carnivores!" A million lions rampage down from the mountains, destroying all the goats in their path.

All around her is a riot of life and colour, constantly dying and coming to life. But without her constant involvement, equilibrium is soon destroyed as one group prospers over another == to its short-lived triumph. Eventually, in desperation she calls out "Let there be: mankind!"

A small tribe appears, settles itself next to a forest, and begins to farm. The woman watches expectantly. It seems, at first, as though all is well....

This installation acts as an object lesson in the delicate balance of nature, and the inherent difficulties involved in playing God.


The Trickle-Down effect is an installation consisting of a huge transparent pyramid of separate levels, half-filled with water. Moisture-sensitive dyes and lights are embedded in each level of the pyramid, so that when they are filled with water they are sparkling and full of life. When dry they are dull and empty.

At the bottom of the pyramid, pumps move water into the top levels. As the water reaches the top, it begins to "trickle-down" through thousands of tiny holes.

But, although the water is indeed trickling down, the process is so slow that, left to itself, the top levels of the pyramid will always be brimming with water, while the bottom levels will always be bone dry.

The pumps are voice-sensitive. At the repetition of chosen economic mantras, the pumps can be made to slow down. Whispers of "greed is good" and "a rising tide lifts all boats" causes them to falter. But the effect is limited to the pump nearest the speaker. A raised voice does not help; the pumps do not like to be shouted at. Above a certain volume the pumps fail to respond at all

The best effects are achieved by concerted action. Verbal variations can slow down the pumps and open the apertures. A dozen people murmuring "Green is Good" can cause the water to flow freely.

The Trickle-Down Effect is seen in its most fertile and beautiful aspect, with water flowing down continually through every level, when surrounded by a crowd gently whispering "A rising tide is very bad news in the Netherlands."


The Orator is a device designed for those with normal mental grasp of the English language, but physicval difficulty in making themselves understood. This could be due to conditions such as deafness or cerebral palsy, or simply a very thick accent. The chip is trained to recognise the sound of one particular user's pronunciation of a variety of phonemes. It then repeats them in a clearer, easy to understand voice.

The Orator thus acts as a transparent interface between the user and the outside world. For a deaf user, the Orator is equipped with a small screen on which it will write out the words as it hears them.

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O