The movie's title has an edge, no doubt, but it's really quite smart. It's the somewhat grungy éducation sentimentale of a 17 years old thumbsucker who becomes a master debater once he's on Ritalin after a ridiculously amateurish diagnosis, but when he stops it, he turns back to - no, not thumbsucking, with exceptions - his grown up self. He's supported by a great cast - who'd have thought that Keanu Reeves is capable of irony? That's all us humans are capable of: guess, try, and hope. Ok, that's not very ironical, but go see it, then you know what I mean. Check out the Thumbsucker blog.

On the way back from Haymarket, I passed Fortnum & Mason's where I took the adjacent picture of their phrenological champagne decoration that I know of somebody who will just love it.


Day is done

Absolutely, anyway. But it's also the title of the great new album by the
Brad Mehldau Trio, my other favourite jazz band. I just found out about it (and got it right from iTunes) when checking about the trio's live performance here in Basle tomorrow night - argh! Somehow I miss them everytime they'd venture in my vicinity. Tomorrow, or actually later today, I am going to London until Wednesday night, so there's another near miss. Not that I am complaining ... somebody going to tell me how it was?


No fingerprint lock for me

Before seeing this science programme, I was considering getting a fingerprint lock for my house in order to avoid having to carry around a key all the time. But seeing how easy a fingerprint can be forged (make it visible using speed glue, take a digital picture of it, print it on a transparent slide, make a positive of the print using wood glue - that's it), I am not interested any more. It's just like leaving carbon copies of my key all over the place - thank you, Chaos Computer Club!


Cutting-edge philosophy

I am tempted to say Only in America, but then again, that's not quite true. Anyway, have a listen into The Guerrilla Radio Show, a weekly philosophy talk show with jingles, bells & whistles! I like their motto: Waging war against idiocy. Technically, it doesn't quite qualify as a podcast, yet, but apparently they're going to provide an RSS feed really soon. Check out the current show on political philosophy, containing an introductory discussion of John Rawls.


The wild Swiss

You're forgiven if you think the title is an oxymoron. While Zürich born Johann Heinrich Füssli (1741-1825), a.k.a. Henry Fuseli, was of Swiss origin, he went to London pretty early on, where he became a famous "British" painter.

Yours truly however went to Zürich today to an excellent exhibition of his fascinating works. Other than his contemporaries who did portraits, landscapes & the like, Füssli dealt in literary sources, such as Milton, Shakespeare, the Nibelungenlied & had a weird & fantastic approach to his subject. Again in stark contrast to his contemporaries, he successfully captured the emotion of the moment in his pictures, evidently impressed by the actor Garrick, whose namesake London Club I've had the good fortune to have been invited to several times already. Some of his best known pictures, like The Nightmare, have even spawned an artistic movement of its own that is still known today: gothic horror. The frequent appearance of skull moths kept reminding me of The Silence of the Lambs, a movie that Füssli probably would have liked. And last, but not least, I learned a posh new word for ... uhm ... group fun: symplegma.

Masslos nämlich ist das Erhabene. Füssli must have been a fascinating enlightenment character whose acquaintance I would have loved to have made.


Einstein & Dürrenmatt

This radio programme brought an exhibition about Dürrenmatt & Einstein in Berne to my attention. Since I am very much interested in both of those intellectual icons and especially their commonalities, I wonder whether the exhibition is worth the trip? Often times, such exhibitions are hard pressed to live up to the expectations created by abstract topics ... any recommendations?



Vorsicht - dies ist ein unverschämter Werbespot! Mein langjähriger Lieferant erstklassiger Teespezialitäten (invoice teas) Reichmuth von Reding hat endlich ein "virtuelles Ladengeschäft" eröffnet, und zwar offenbar gestern, mit grösster Diskretion. Ich bin nur zufällig darauf gestossen, weil ich bei der Lektüre des wie immer lehrreichen Jahreskatalogs neugierig wurde, ob sich seit der letzten Stellungnahme von vor einigen Jahren ("entspricht nicht den Wünschen unserer geschätzten Kundschaft") etwas verändert haben würde. Die geschätzte Kundschaft dankt!


God exists!

At last! Chinese scientists have found proof for God's existence! Ramen!

If you care to be more serious about the matter, here is an in-depth legal assessment of intelligent design creationism (I like the term!) from a US constitution point of view.


Tea time

At Sunday's tea time, I attended an eponymous concert given by the camerata variabile at the Bar du Nord. It was suitably dedicated to a programme of English music spanning four centuries, thus including Britten, Hume (Tobias), Onslow, Holst and two contemporaries, George Benjamin & Francis Silkstone, of whose Duo for violin & bass clarinet we've heard the world première in the composer's presence. Also, some poems by Graves, Auden, Yeats as well as the inescapable Bard were recited. So, it was an altogether well balanced programme.

I particularly liked the 1605 airs for viol by Tobias Hume and - quite the discovery - George Onslow's Nonett in a-minor (op. 77). Unfortunately there is no recording available of the latter, otherwise I would have bought it right away, it's great fun & the performers had a perfect grasp of it, as they did with everything else, except for the timing: The event started late & ended even later, i.e. well into dinner time for which I've had another appointment. But that's just me I guess - you never overbook on a Sunday. Another minor criticism would address the accoustics of the Bar, which was a bit on the narrow side for ten energetic musicians at times, occasionally with rather noisy brass. Apart from that, I would consider the whole setting to be very felicitous, what with tea & cakes in a bar for tea time. Repeat, please!


Restoration trouble

Just a quick note now to let you know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth just yet. The expected harddisk crash has effectively occured last week, taking out my Powerbook's disk, but not before I thought I had a reliable backup, the restoration of which to the new & bigger disk (100GB, yay!) I am now struggling with. It's nasty, particularly my mail accounts are giving me grief! Since Apple's software is usually well designed & tested, I tend to give Backup the benefit of the doubt, assuming that its crash in the closing phase of the restoration process has something to do with the trouble the disk generated when it was still working. Morale of the story: Don't have confidence in just one backup!


No trust in Trusted Computing?

This very nifty animation against Trusted Computing is not only entertaining, but it also makes you think twice (at least) about purchasing any TC devices (via plastic).

HD trouble

My Powerbook's internal hard disk seems to behave a bit randomly lately, so I've ordered a (bigger) replacement, to be installed Monday. If I seem to be offline between now & then, you know what happened - but don't worry, my backups are up to date.


The Capitol Steps

Back in Washington, we were treated to a private performance of The Capitol Steps in the Ronald Reagan building. They are a group of Congressional staffers engaged in occasionally really vicious political cabaret / satire. They are great fun, although a tad bit tough to understand for non-natives at times. But check the website, there's a lot of stuff to download. Looking back, I think this was the first time I was ever exposed to intelligent (I hate to say in that context: European style) comedy hailing from America! But then again, there is a lot to laugh about, isn't there ...


New blog freilich

I am very happy to announce a new group blog by the name of freilich. In this, we'll be looking at life in Switzerland (and beyond) from a classically liberal point of view, so my politically motivated rants will be happening over there from now on. Have a look - but be warned, it's mostly non-English.


Electro Punk?

Well, you may be right in surmising that it's not exactly my kind of music, but it's totally my kind of niece producing it! Here are some videos of her & her husband's band VOLT caught in the act ... si vos batteries sont à plat, branchez vous sur VOLT et tout ira mieux ... that may well be true. On the other hand, that other band name looks rather plausible, too - Punish Yourself.