Just my cup of tea

Have I mentioned just how good Lyssa's Lounge is, especially if you read German? She does have the type of humour which easily qualifies as English, even though she's German. It probably helps that she hails from Hamburg ... but enough rambling, the only real reason for posting this is to recycle the amazingly elegant picture she published.


Capriccio by night

R., thank you so much for inviting me to Capriccio by night tonight - this was a great fun performance of really swinging baroque orchestra in an appropriately baroque setting! The only thing that was not quite so up to scratch was the speaker intonation of the carefully selected texts - I really think that it was his use of the PA that gave his part a somewhat preachy atmosphere. But why don't you listen for yourself - I've bootlegged the whole session, using a trial copy of mvoice on the new Treo 650 - the sound quality of the music is surprisingly good! Here's an excerpt from the eerie Vivaldi piece. I guess with that, I've just published my very first podcast!


Only in London ...

... would there be a flock of homo sapiens exhibited on the bear mountain, clad only in fig leaves & firmly tongue in cheek. Very nice - but only until Monday. I guess they'll have to be back in the office on Tuesday. The historical perspective on this event is not quite so amusing, though: Up until the 1930ies, african tribesmen were very successfully "on display" in zoos on a regular basis, and it was not tongue in cheek at all, back then.

Rodent power

The apparently popular story about a Hamster-powered phone charger reminded me of this strange guy that I saw hanging around in downtown Sofia with his two guinea pigs & a bowl. Initially I surmised that he was proposing to sell them, but 1 Lev (EUR 0.50) looked something awefully cheap, especially since business didn't appear to be so brisk what with him having no additional supplies in evidence.

Further research with a Bulgarian friend unveiled the unexpected: What you see in that picture is in fact a guinea pig powered crystal ball! For the aforementioned Lev, the guinea pigs would pick a slip of paper from the container on which the client's future would be described. Go figure that one!

Referenda 25.9.05

Since I'll be in Washington during the actual voting (and counting, sorry!), I might as well get it over with right now. So, here goes nothing:
  • 1 Personenfreizügigkeit JA
  • 2 Hanfgesetz NEIN
  • 3 Familienzulagegesetz NEIN NEIN V2
  • 4 Kinderzulageninitiative NEIN
  • 5 Finanzhaushaltsgesetz Aufsicht JA
  • 6 Finanzhaushaltsgesetz Globalbudget JA
  • 7 Landwirtschaftsgesetz JA
  • 8 Gewässerschutzgesetz NEIN
  • 9 Bildungsgesetz JA
  • 10 Ersatzwahl Gemeinderat N.N.
  • 26/08/2005

    Kein Guru-Quatsch

    Aussergewöhnlich lesenswertes Interview mit dem Philosophen Thomas Metzinger (Abo), sofern sich der Lesewert eines Textes nach seiner Kongruenz mit der eigenen Befindlichkeit bzw. Auffassung bemisst. Dann wäre er aber bis auf den Bestätigungswert nur überflüssig. Die philosophische Auseinandersetzung Metzingers mit den Erkenntnissen der Neurologie geht aber weiter, lässt sie doch einen eigenständig sozialwissenschaftlichen Standpunkt erkennen, der in fruchtbarem Dialog mit der Naturwissenschaft stehen kann. Die Haupterkenntnis? Seele, Religion, Sicherheit - alles Illusionen. Es ist kalt da draussen. Und seltsam beruhigend, sich dessen bewusst zu sein ohne durchzudrehen.

    The Enthusiast

    nthusiasm, as well as confidence, are intoxicating & inspiring - so here is definitely something for the shopping list of the next trip to London. I wonder whether that publication has anything in common with the other The E ...


    Tuesch mi wider kalfaktere?

    Dieser Ausdruck scheint durchaus gängig zu sein, findet Google doch immerhin 62 Fälle. Allerdings dürfte die hier angezeigte Verwendung speziell sein:

    Tuesch mi wider kalfaktere?

    Bedeutung: Sinngemäss: "Du kommandierst mich wieder herum!" Aber auch: "Du willst wieder provozieren!"

    Etymologie: Laut Definition Wikipedia ist der Kalefaktor (von lat. calor Hitze und factor Macher - Einheizer) eine Hilfskraft oder ein einfacher Bediensteter, der herumkommandiert werden kann. Dem kalfaktern in der hier beschriebenen transitiven Verwendung scheint somit ein Missverständnis zugrunde zu liegen, es sei denn, man verstehe es in der ursprünglichsten Bedeutung von einheizen, provozieren.

    op. 131

    After listening to the highly competent evaluation of different interpretations of Beethoven's opus 131 in Diskothek im 2, I decided to buy their recommendation which is not available on iTunes unfortunately. But it sure was well worth waiting for - this is incredible stuff! Check out the finale in the sidebar and tell me why you haven't ordered it already ...


    Embarrassing if I'd have to log this kind of radio communication (english, french, via print Cicero)! I am still not sure whether I prefer the sardonic canadian version, the pompously mocking spaniard, or the dry english ...


    Bisch alerte?

    T. war heute abend zu Besuch, was prompt zu einer Fortsetzung der Reihe führt!

    "Bisch alerte?"

    Bedeutung: Bist Du wach? Vor allem aber: Wie geht es Dir?

    Etymologie: Ein klarer Fall des elsässischen Einflusses auf den Alt-Schönenbucher Dialekt! Von franz. alerte für Alarm, aber auch flink: Bist Du im Alarmzustand / flink / "zwäg"?

    Zusätzlich zu diesem aktuellen Fall bearbeite ich gerne noch die frühere Anfrage vom Joggingfreund:

    "Das goht uff kei Chuehut!"

    Bedeutung: wörtlich: Das geht auf keine Kuhhaut! Meint: Das ist einfach zu viel! Das geht zu weit!

    Etymologie: Vermutlich ist das eine sehr alte Wendung, die sich auf Pergament bezieht, welches bekanntlich aus Tierhaut hergestellt wurde. Die Kuhhaut ist vermutlich das grösste einzelne Stück Pergament, und wenn eine Beschreibung (eines Gerichtsfalls?) darauf keinen Platz fand, dann war es einfach zu viel.


    Swiss homeland security?

    Thanks to critical investigative journalism (german) and, eventually, direct democracy, legislative garbage like this draft law comparable to the changed rules in the UK & the USA will never see the light of legal force in this country with its sorely lacking constitutional review of federal legislation. I hope!

    The crane feeds on chocolate

    Odd. I am comparing offers for getting to Washington DC in about a month's time. The comparison between the respective offerings of Lufthansa & Swiss strike me as rather odd if you take into account collectable airmiles: From BSL to IAD on business, I get some 12K miles on Swiss, but over 20K miles on Lufthansa - that's 67% more! Travelclub tells me that this is because LH premiums cost more miles, so collecting returns more miles. Considering that LH goes to DC directly (no changing planes in BOS) and costs about the same, there's no way I can justify flying Swiss, especially since the airmiles get credited to my Travelclub account as well. If I didn't know that this arbitrage option is a consequence of the newly available fungibility between the two pre-existing programmes, I'd say it's a scheme to lure paying customers away from Swiss to Lufthansa, with premium collectors going the other way ... I wonder how long Swiss will survive this cannibalisation by its very own mother!


    As you know, I am a recent convert to Pastafarianism. So I was quite shocked to find out that Wikipedia (of which I am still no friend, but might have to revise due to their changing QM policies) has an article about our movement under consideration for deletion (which Vogon started that?!)! But looking at the favourable comments, I am at ease with the world again. Particularly notable is this short comment: Keep -- 22:10, 21 August 2005 (UTC) Removing this article would be blasphemy. Ramen!


    I cannot wait to treat myself to seasons 4 & 5 of Six Feet Under, especially after reading this rave (somehow NOT!) review (major spoilers, but in a good way) of the final episode. I am not sure whether this is just the final episode of season 5, or the final final episode ... I dread the news!


    B16 everywhere

    Despite of the confirmation made evident by B16's omnipresence on all channels, Samuel The Clash of Civilisations Huntington's article on the renaissance of religion (german) is curiously devoid of analysis & interpretation. Looking at what the ongoing Weltjugendtag seems to be all about, I don't think that this renaissance is a sustainable one - the church & the audience have just (re-)discovered the attraction of mass entertainment & the feel good factor. So the church has a tryst with pop culture - there's hardly anything more fickle. The hangover will be bad.


    Glenn Gould sur TV5

    Darn! I just discovered accidentally that French CNN TV5 seems to be broadcasting a series of programmes about & with the greatest classical pianist of all times, Glenn Gould! I already stumbled across the programme last Saturday, and with today's repetition it becomes a series.

    Gould is best known for his Bach interpretations and his very early refusal to participate in the concert circus. Unfortunately he died in 1982 already, thus missing the advent of the internet on the music scene. I am convinced that he would have taken full advantage of all the possibilities that the new medium creates for musicians like him.

    The current programme Glenn Gould the alchemist contains a fascinating part where Gould directs the production of a Scriabin piece that he's recorded earlier with 5 sets of microphones distributed throughout the studio with increasing distance to the piano, thus giving him the possibility of "zooming" in & out of the sound accoustically, just like a camera would. I've got to see the rest of those programmes!


    Intelligent design

    Marvellous! That's what you get for intelligent design! I am a Pastafari - Pastafaris of the world, unite under the sign of the Great Meatball!

    Welcome to Orange

    No, I haven't returned to the Ukraine, yet. The orange revolution there seems to have some toothing problems anyway. I am just switching mobile phone providers from Sunrise to Orange's Optima 30. Anyone who signs up for a higher plan in order to get a cheaper phone should take some lessons in algebra btw., but it's all good now. The providers are really tripping over themselves again to acquire new business: I got a Treo 650 a couple hundred cheaper, and they were giving away a 100.- discount on the next phone bill, a free SIM card and an additional discount on the phone "in exchange" for the old T610, which I got to keep. Thanks, Orange! And now, I am struggling with syncing & installing all the old applications from the Palm ...

    Der Ackermann aus Böhmen

    Just back from a breathtaking performance of Der Ackermann aus Böhmen, based on a 15th century text by Johannes von Tepl. The text itself s a grand renaissance disputation about life & death between a man who has just lost his wife, and Death personified.

    But it was the setting & execution that rendered the experience so special. This was the final performance of a series set open air in the Hörnli cemetary, which is a rather huge, quiet funeral site. There's a natural stage against the backdrop of a couple of old trees, and the weather was also playing its part in that it was laboring with a thunderstorm, complete with some showers, distant lightning and rolling thunder. That was not the only accoustic accompaniment, though: In a side tent, a bassist & a percussionist were playing something close to Indian raga style music, which was suiting the mood perfectly.

    If you read this as a recommendation to go and see it, then you're certainly right. Unfortunately, the Basle series is over now, but there will be some more performances at the Bremgartenfriedhof in Berne. Go see it!


    Wo ist die FDP?

    Vielleicht kommt's doch nicht gar so schlimm? Laut Auskunft des Generalsekretariats der FDP handelt es sich beim zitierten Artikel um eine tendenziös-böswillige Interpretation des einen Journalisten, da von einer Neupositionierung nicht die Rede sein könne. Allerdings ist das besagte Strategiepapier leider Parteimitgliedern von der Basis nicht zugänglich, demnach können wir es also nicht selbst beurteilen. Wir können allerdings Präsident Pellis Positionierung beurteilen, und die ist tatsächlich nicht koscher, ist doch für ihn die Finanzpolitik sekundär, die Rentenaltersdiskussion aufzugeben, und die SVP-Wähler verloren zu geben.

    Warten wir also noch ein wenig ab. Vergnüglich war allerdings die Reaktion eines Parteimitgliedes am Parteitag von gestern abend auf mein Votum, mit dem ich meine Befindlichkeit ausgedrückt hatte. Man hat mich da lautstark als Extremisten geziehen, was ich aus der Optik einer durchaus nicht sehr staatskritischen FDP BL ohne weiteres als Kompliment verstehe.

    P.S. Leider kommt eine informiertere Quelle (Abo) zu einer ähnlichen Einschätzung wie ich. Der Titel dieser Eintragung müsste wohl geändert werden in Wohin die FDP?


    We are not afraid

    Thanks to pieceoplastic, we haven't missed this excellent BBC documentary about the online phenomenon that werenotafraid.com has become in the wake of the London attacks. Fascinating!

    G'chotzt wie ne Gärbihund?

    Dieser Eintrag ist der erste in einer lockeren Reihe über seltsame und amüsante Dialektausdrücke, die v.a. in der Konversation mit bzw. zwischen meiner Mutter und ihrer Schwester immer mal wieder auftauchen. Also dann ...

    "Dr N. het g'chotzt wie ne Gärbihund"

    Bedeutung: Er hat sich andauernd übergeben müssen.

    Etymologie: Der Gärbihund ist ein Hund, welcher Gerbereiabfälle frisst und sich danach übergeben muss.


    Bach 2005

    While a fair share of this country's younger population is probably still recovering from the afterparties and chill out sessions of this year's Street Parade on this rainy Sunday afternoon, I've been reminded of why entering Bach as a search term into my iTunes collection returns a solid 1.3 days of music: Unreal clarity and light-hearted harmony despite of the music's formal complexity. That's what you get (for free) when you go to listen to Bach cantatas in the Predigerkirche.

    FDP links der Mitte?

    Sofern dieser Bericht der Sonntagszeitung bestätigt werden sollte und die FDP damit tatsächlich noch weiter nach links abrutscht, muss ich leider meine Parteimitgliedschaft so lange sistieren, bis sie wieder auf den "rechten" Weg zurückfindet oder aber bis eine Partei auf den Plan tritt, die sich tatsächlich an ein urbanes, weltoffenes, liberales (im Sinne von Hayek, Popper, de Jasay) Publikum richtet. Die vom neuen Präsidium der Partei eingeschlagene Richtung ist somit genau falsch, liegt aber immerhin in der Logik der früher schon ventilierten Fusion mit der CVP, beackert diese doch nämliches Gärtchen. Damit dürfte auch klar sein, dass ich nicht zu "der anderen" Partei wechsle, mindestens so lange diese AUNS Inhalte repräsentiert ... die Zahlung meines FDP-Mitgliedschaftsbeitrages konnte ich jedenfalls gerade noch aufhalten.



    Yesterday evening, I received my second ticket in a row for not putting on display the bloody parking disc in the exact same half empty car park (Bachgraben for those in the know) after having parked there for years without doing it (ok, they changed the rules - so what?). Don't I just hate the police, especially when they are obviously so much more efficient at prosecuting small fry traffic violations such as mine while they let go the big fish! And the officers in question wouldn't even listen when talked to sensibly. This is my equivalent of showing them the finger, I guess. And I wonder whether I should just put a graphic depiction of one on display in the close vicinity of the parking disc next time I park there ... childish, I know, but satisfying.


    Stay crazy, stay foolish!

    Weltwoche prints the German translation of college dropout Steve Jobs' (founder & CEO of Apple & Pixar) Commencement Address at Standford. Great stuff!

    P.S. I am happy to welcome the 10'000th unique visitor to my small abode in the world wide web since August 25th, 2004, and that's not counting my own visits ... keep coming, I am glad to have you here!


    UK stays multicultural

    The Beeb offers encouraging results of a survey about the multicultural character of Britain. The survey has been conducted among "original" Britons and Muslims and shows that both group's ideas are by and large the same. I am glad to see this, because it wouldn't make sense otherwise. After all, it makes no difference from which misguided religious fundamentalism (catholic - IRA, communist - Brigade Rosse, RAF, islamistic - al Qaeda et al) the current strain of terrorism arises: they will be neutralised. I wonder whether similar surveys have been made in the Netherlands. Any Dutch correspondents out there?

    Diamonds are forever

    Shirley Bassey's song would be the ideal backdrop to this post. Then again, the eponymous 70ies Bond movie could be redone to an entirely different script ...

    But the Fisher family from Six Feet Under should definitely reëvaluate their business modell. They could turn it from a gold mine into one churning out diamonds! Swiss firm Algordanza offers to turn a deceased's cremation ashes into a one carat diamond. Margaret would certainly have had second thoughts about throwing Bernard's ashes out over the balcony sill if she had known that!

    While the business idea is absolutely fascinating, what with all the symbolism involved, it is also open to a lot of scheming which could only be overcome by a reliable audit. (via handelsblatt)


    Remember September 2005

    Barring a surprise outcome of the deliberations of the German Constitutional Court, this coming September promises to be a politically memorable month for two big countries - Germany & Japan. Both are going to have premature parliamentary elections, and in both cases, action in economic policy is urgently required. Unfortunately, the odds are rather against that happening in Germany, I am afraid ... nonetheless, a prize to whoever recognises the source of this post's illustration!

    Negative information

    What generations of students of bad teachers have known intuitively is now scientific fact: Information can be negative, i.e. you know less after receiving it than you knew before. But you needn't worry about this being some sort of brain virus snatching that laboriously collected education from under your eyes (or from behind there, actually), because we're talking about the wonderful world of quantum physics, of course. Here is a popularised description of the concepts, together with links to the tough stuff (via slashdot).

    Independent alarmist

    Articles like these (via Samizdata) in the otherwise quite sensible Independent do not seem to be very well advised. It's not obvious to what degree the evident alarmism is cooked up by the editors and how much is actually in the sources, but the numbers game seems to be a bit nonsensical to me. Argueing that way, the pretty strong Swiss community with its widespread standard military training (not "just" AK-47!) should be considered a risk factor, too! No, it's not just the sheer nonsensicality, it's bordering to racism & alarmism, neither of which is the Best of British now, is it.


    No Bushism

    Why many Americans complain about their P going on an atypically long vacation is quite beyond me. According to this article, he has already racked up more vacation days in the 4.5 years of his presidency than his rather relaxed predecessor, the late R. Reagan has in his full 8 years! But the aforequoted Tallahassee Democrat has got it right: I wouldn't even begrudge a permanent vacation to him, starting immediately!

    Dandy - ism?

    A rather amusing ontological treatise without any pretension to objectivity on the ever green, ever changing phenomenon of the dandy, as appropriately & entertainingly reflected in a contemporary medium. "So, dear reader, purge yourselves of philosophical pretensions, emulate the lilies of the field, and ponder life's most important question: What will you wear?"


    China and the world economy

    Excellent special report about China and the world economy (free!) in one of the past issues of The Economist. It offers a lucid macro-economic viewpoint, referring also the BIS annual report which I will have to have a closer look at now. The main point is that China has an increasingly dominant influence on the world economy, creating for instance the conditions for Greenspan's term spread conundrum.

    The only cautious note I would like to sound vis à vis this great analysis is that the Economist is not unknown for analysis after the fact, i.e. things might take an altogether different turn shortly after the publication of the analysis. But then again, the article does not argue any specific directions.


    The Second Coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    William Butler Yeats

    (via a solid article in NZZ (German) on the London bombings)


    My sister - the TV star!

    Tonight in the regiomagazin of regional TV station Nordwest 1, there will be a report about my sister's psychophysiological consultancy. Check it out if you can - and that's a big IF because even the station's website is pretty hard to find. But maybe that's a good thing, too because it's going to be her first appearance on TV. Perhaps it'll be published on her blog.

    P.S. The report turned out really well - top infomercial material, I'd say! Expect it online soon.


    Old habits ...

    ... die hard, they say, and they're right. While listening to a commercial, yet interesting Naxos podcast about Benjamin Britten, I decided to buy his Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, which is a lot of fun to listen to. Consequently I started browsing Amazon for the right recording (there's no big selection), until it occured to me that I have it right at the tips of my fingers!


    Voltaires Totenmesse

    NZZ irregularly reports about events that were current in its first years of publication (it recently celebrated its 225th year of publication). In this context, we are treated to "probably one of the longest, most labyrinthine & complicated sentences in the history of the NZZ to date":

    "Die katholischen Mitglieder der hiesigen Königl. Akademie haben diese Messe veranlasset, und der hiesige Herr Pfarrer hat um so weniger Bedenken getragen darein zu willigen, da sie ungezweifelte Beweise beygebracht, dass der Herr von Voltaire kurz vor seinem Ende ein Christ-Katholisches Glaubens-Bekenntniss abgelegt, ordentlich gebeichtet, seinem christlichen Nebenmenschen durch Allmosen und andere gute Werke ein Beyspiel gegeben, und nach seinem erfolgten Ableben in die Abtey Scellieres (...) nach den Gebräuchen der katholischen Kirche beerdiget, mithin der französischen Geistlichkeit um so mehr zur Ungebühr und boshafter Weise zur Last gelegt worden, dass sie ihm die kirchliche Beerdigung versaget, da dieser ehrwürdige Stand es nicht würde haben wollen an sich kommen lassen, dass er die Grundsätze der Gerechtigkeit (...) aus den Augen gesetzet, wodurch er den Verdacht eines mit der christlichen Liebe und aller wahren Tugend streitenden Privathasses gegen sich erweckt haben würde."

    One sentence. Isn't it nice to know that there is continuity in style?