20'000 new feelings per day

The latest installment of Benjamen Walker's Theory Of Everything is dedicated to an amazing website: We feel fine. Their bots search the blogosphere for posts containing I feel ... and the like and the site displays those outpourings very creatively - I particularly like the Mounds. Bored surfing the web will never be the same again!

Same pictures - new exhibition

This review encouraged me to buy Same pictures - new exhibition, a jazz version of Modest Mussorgsky's well known piece, the Pictures at an exhibition. There's loads of versions and recordings of this piece around, which has originally been composed for the piano. My reference is a BBC Philharmonic recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral transcription.

This double-CD album is fabulous. It pretty much retains the structure of the original work, while the half-hour musical substance is almost tripled by the "minimal big band's" very own variations on the themes presented. I have a feeling that Mussorgsky would have absolutely loved it! While this recording is a very interesting and pleasant standalone jazz record, it might also be a good starting point for an amateur of classical music who is interested to know what that jazz thing is all about ...

WTO blogged

Have a look at this excellent analysis of the reasons for the breakdown of WTO negotiations. It puts blame where blame belongs - to EU trade politicians, and mostly the French subset of that glorious group (via EU-Law).



The indications are clear - marketing budgets have become frothy again! See this online magazine for young accountants. YP? Surely not MP (My Problem) ...



At last, I know more about my meteorite! It has come down in the Sikhote-Alin mountain range on 12 February 1947 - for more information, check out the wikipedia page. If you want to have a look around the neighbourhood, fire up Google Earth and use this. German minerals magazine Lapis had extensive coverage back in 1998 - here's the most informative page.



At well over 30 degrees centigrade, I recommend a visit to the current special exhibition of Henri Matisse at the Fondation Beyeler. But not just because the Fondation is air conditioned, nor because the exhibition only lasts until Monday, after having been prolonged. The exhibition is a must see if you like Henri Matisse, painter of luxury. It is only when you see a large selection of his works put together in one place, you actually appreciate the artist's work in its integrity, and Matisse certainly deserves that attribute. Matisse is very French in that respect, although the pompous French documentary about him from 1946 which is also on display doesn't do him much justice, just listening to its awful Wochenschau Marschmusik style soundtrack.

On a slightly different note, I am beginning to think that there is a big artistic vacuum beginning with WWII - I don't know any contemporary art that has made as big a step forward comparable to what classical modernism did in relation to its predecessors. Care to debate?


Smart Basel

The August issue of jet-setting hipster magazine Wallpaper* has the eponymous article about the town which I usually refer to as home. It's a really well researched and comprehensive portrait of the place (dropping all the right names where one has to have been, and they even recommend swimming in the Rhine!) - including its occasional dullness, but in a friendly way: Why is it that the concept of a "perfect" city immediately suggests that it is "perfectly dull", especially if the word "Swiss" is involved?

I am a Linus!

Are you a FONero, too? FON is an open wireless LAN community which shares home access points globally. If you move about with your laptop a lot, you know what kind of a ripoff those commercial wireless hotspots are. For FON Linuses, access to FON hotspots is free. For Bills, it costs $3 per day, of which half goes to the hotspot provider, so there might even be a little bit of money in it. Give it a thought - the idea is spreading quickly, as the map of my domestic region shows. I am the one furthest west.


A square foot of Picasso, please!

Wired is really cool - I wonder how they keep digging up their stories. Check out this one about David Galenson, an economist who developed two different types of genius, the conceptual innovator who tends to come forward with brash innovations early on while the experimental innovator proceeds by trial & error, thus takes more time to mature. And how did he get to that? The economist way - by plotting price charts of works of art against the artist's age!

Cheekily, Wired even steals the generic creativity excuse by means of a very nice moral of the story: Of course, not every unaccomplished 65-year-old is some undiscovered experimental innovator. This is a universal theory of creativity, not a Viagra for sagging baby boomer self-esteem. It?s no justification for laziness or procrastination or indifference. But it might bolster the resolve of the relentlessly curious, the constantly tinkering, the dedicated tortoises undaunted by the blur of the hares.


Accounting, IKEA style

Here's an interesting piece of financial sleuthing about the "tax-efficient" setup of privately held IKEA:Lebst Du schon - oder schraubst Du noch?


8. August 1662

"Thence by boat. And it being rough, he told me the passage of a Frenchman through London bridge; where when he saw the great fall, he begun to cross himself and say his prayers in the greatest fear in the world; and as soon as he was over, he swore 'Morbleu c'est le plus grand plaisir du mond' - being the most like a French humour in the world."

From The Diary of Samuel Pepys



Any idea what this is? If you think it looks a bit like one of those electronic stamps, then you're not far from the truth. Not far because it's more expensive, and rightly so since it entitled me to take the train from Basel to Zürich & back today. It comes in the form of an MMS that you receive on your mobile phone, which you then proceed to show to the ticket collector on the train. Who may or may not be impressed by your display of technical wizardry - good fun! Just take care to not run low on your phone's battery, ere you might be stranded at your destination ...


The Scots

Yet another reference to my newspaper of choice! The current issue of NZZ Folio is dedicated to Scotland. It's rather informative, but full of stereotypes. Enjoy (if you read German)!

Speaking of stereotypes: Do you know Overheard in New York? It's full of dry wit and sitcom. I'm thinking about starting a knockoff: Mitgehört im Schweizerland. Not sure whether there's enough wit to go round, though ...


The Art of Travel, revisited

My newspaper of choice has a triplet of travelling literature related articles (all in German, of course) in its weekend supplement which reminds me very much of The Art of Travel. I wonder why they have that now ...

The first one is a detailed and well written assessment of the different approaches of Leslie Stephens & John Ruskin in appraising the Swiss mountains. It is also a very instructive confirmation of how instrumental English Victorians were in laying the foundations of Swiss tourism, if not philanthropic development assistance to Swiss farmers (that's the Swiss government's job nowadays) through his Guild of St. George, although I have been unable to find confirmation of that trust's Switzerland related origins.

The next one describes the semi-autobiographical background of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Now, I wonder whether it's just a coïncidence that the hero of Harold and Maude is called the way he is?

Solvitur ambulando, at last. Here, the author reviews the German edition of Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts, an account of his epic walking journey from London to Istanbul (or Constantinople, as he seems to prefer to call it) that took him almost one and a half year until March 1935. I think I'll have to read that work in progress!


Dreyer, deploy the armament!

These were - allegedly - the words of Admiral Jellicoe to his then Captain Dreyer (the late Admiral Sir Frederic Charles Dreyer), which gave an important turn to events in the WWI Battle of Jutland.

Yours truly of course was entirely unaware of his prominent namesake (no relation), until that sad state of affairs was corrected by DD - a strong case in point for not expecting much in terms of knowledge of naval history from a citizen of a landlocked nation. So I guess I deserve all the friendly fire I am getting ever since!

This is the rather long-winded explanation for why I was happy about the opportunity to learn more by visiting the Ghosts of Jutland Exhibition currently on display on HMS Belfast on the occasion of the battle's 90th anniversary. The small commemorative exhibition is rather impressive, especially in that environment. Being on that ship reminded me that I'd always been fascinated by the Navy as a kid. What you're not so much aware of as a kid is the fact that such battleships, however powerful and impressive they may appear, can be swallowed by the ocean and literally disappear from the face of the earth with their crew within minutes. The ghosts of Jutland are still in the Skagerrak ... and tourists such as I complain about hitting their shins on HMS Belfast.

P.S. I knew all along that there was something wrong with the title! The command in question actually was: Dreyer, commence the deployment! Sounds much better, doesn't it.