Sir Peter's taste for swan
My recent short trip to London is already history, but I haven't recorded its proceedings for posterity, yet. So, here goes nothing ...
Seeing how the tickets for The First Emperor are sold out weeks in advance, I didn't expect to get one on the day, especially as I didn't exactly show up at 0900. But surprisingly, there were still some left! Thus I made sure to succumb to the current craze about everything Chinese. The exhibition is rather small, but very packed. What's most fascinating about it is what you don't get, i.e. the first emperor himself, who probably still rests undisturbed in his colossal monument to vanity.
The other exhibition I saw deals with far more contemporary issues: Breaking the Rules in the British Library has for subject the highly creative period in European art before WWII. Unfortunately, this extraordinarily interesting period has been overwhelmed almost entirely by subsequent events and is hardly accessible to us anymore. It's a pity! The exhibition demonstrates in great detail how the movements of that period were not only relevant in places like Paris, Berlin and London, but also in more remote corners such as Belgrade or Wroçlav. Talk about globalisation.
The night before that exhibition expedition, I indulged myself in some truly seasonal Musicke, i.e. Händel's Messiah with The Sixteen at the Barbican. While the execution was certainly flawless, and the Sixteen actually numbered eighteen, the evening somehow wasn't as exciting for me as it usually is. Sure, the hall rose to their feet during the Hallelujah (an endearingly insular habit), and there was much clapping at the end. Still - maybe it was just insufficient accoustic pressure due to the somewhat remote seating I got.
There are not many smart commercials of which you will remember what they actually advertise. This is one of them - enjoy!
Quantum astronomy kills the cat!
Fear, engagement, transcendence
The best funeral in London
I ..... .. phone
Intelligent Life no more
So, while a Parisian high-end restaurant operated by a bunch of rats will certainly outdo every competition in terms of its experimental nature, I've been coming across experimental cuisine (a.k.a. molecular cuisine) time and again lately, not least in an excellent article in Intelligent Life. I haven't tried that way of preparing food, yet, but I certainly will. Often times, people argue against it because the highly sophisticated ways in which the culinary experiences are prepared arguably destroy the "natural form of the food". The best counter-argument to date comes from the article I linked to above: "What is cooking if not the craft of «destroying the natural form» of foods, and turning them into something better, tastier and safer?" Next time I hear someone argue against "molecular" food, I'll ask how they like their raw meat etc ...
Tales from the Emerald Isle
Anyways, onwards to greener pastures, literally: Ireland is a fabulous destination for a family round trip. Here's the approximate route we took during our eight days. A word of caution is in order at this point: Don't be ambitious about the mileage you can do, many of the cross country roads are still charmingly scenic, which is a euphemism for narrow and somewhat bumpy, and don't rely to heavily on any one map. I brought my trusty TomTom, and yet we had to rely not only on C's navigational skills, but also on the occasionally rather epic directions of extremely helpful and friendly publicans. So, give yourself time - travelling Ireland is not a rushing matter. Also, make sure that you're fit: one of our drivers currently suffers from a herniation apparently contracted on the drive.
Our night quarters were, in order of sequence: Cabra Castle for one night, Dromoland Castle and Park Hotel Kenmare for two nights each, Waterford Castle and finally, Kilkea Castle. So, plenty of old stones, and yet, the experience was quite fresh everywhere. We were particularly surprised about the consistently high quality of the food everywhere - not to speak of the quantities. Obviously, the chefs cater mostly to Americans rather than French guests, even though the latter would hardly find anything to complain about, except for the over-priced wine list maybe. But then again, we were travelling with a wine expert, and Ireland is certainly not grape country. The altogether most outstanding experiences were to be had at Dromoland and Kenmare. Waterford shone with its Victorian infrastructure (sic!) and its high potential (meaning it has a bit of catching up to do), whereas Kilkea appeared a bit, erm, rustic?
Thus, we had a great impression of the spectacular beauty of the Irish countryside and its heritage. We did not get much exposure to modern Ireland and its contemporary culture, but that was not the purpose of the trip anyway. So there's something for next time, right?
How does it feel?
Hello from Ireland!
Therefore, in the spirit of Sir Charles Napier's immortal pun, let's keep sining!
File Vault trouble?
When travelling abroad, I've repeatedly encountered very serious system instabilities, involving the loss of application preferences, keychains and other vital system information. This was always easily recovered by restoring the backup back home. But naturally, the home backup is not really handy on the move ...I hope someone can comment on that. Meanwhile, don't try to replicate this on the move, and be sure to have a working backup!
I think I've narrowed the cause of these instabilities now down to a combination of using File Vault and changing the time zone from the account that is protected by File Vault. Is anyone unfortunate enough to be able to confirm this, and might any expert out there have an idea about a plausible explanation and fix for this? Thank you very much!
Incidentally, the workaround (short of not changing the time zone) is changing the time zone in a user account that is not protected by File Vault.
A rising star?
First things first
Cheers from Seoul
People seem to be extremely ambitious and business-minded. And when they're working in service, they're incredibly efficient and friendly. Smiles left, right and centre, which is a great change from Europe. Singapore, I'll be back. With less rain next time, hopefully! And maybe a bit better comprehension of Singlish, which I was occasionally struggling with.
My first trip on hallowed SIA turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment. Sure, the staff were just perfect, fully in line with what I said before, even in the eye candy department. But taken altogether, I think SIA Business doesn't deserve the premium it commands. Admittedly, my expectations were set by the trip down to Singapore on Swiss First, which may be considered as unfair. But somehow I got the impression that many people feel that SIA's business class is better than many firsts. That's far from true for Swiss' - I slept like a log!
And now, I'll leave for Singapore until 30 August, and onwards to Seoul, for presentations in each city. I'll return on 7 September. Until then, my mobile phone gets diverted to the voicemail directly, which gets forwarded to my email, so don't worry if you cannot catch me immediately. More later ...
The best things in life ...
Complete satisfaction at Stucki's
Anarchist!!! ... Cleaner!!!
As we may think
All is calm, all is Swiss
Blogging against music taxes
The Swiss Consumer Protection is requesting your support to mount a political campaign in the Swiss Federal Parliament to change the law which allows for this nonsense. Please give your support by sending an email - just click here!
This blog campaign has been started at freilich. If you want to support it, just use the following code in your own blog to encourage your readers to protest:
Drumming as martial art
Been to Basel Tattoo with C. yesterday night. What a splendid night it was! Especially the incredible performance of Basel natives Top Secret blew me away. Those guys truly redefine drumming as a martial art - see the video of their Edinburgh performance last year (mine wouldn't do it justice).
The only odd thing about the event was its closing, what with people standing up to sing the national anthem &c. To me, somehow that just doesn't feel right - our patriotism (or mine?) as a non-nation is not of the pathetic sort, it's more of the constitutional type, sans constitution for some ...
The previous evening was spent more unequivocally pleasantly. I've had C&R over for a nice barbecue that was started with a beautiful 1990 millésime and concluded with a much older Scotch to go with the fireworks to celebrate the French national holiday from the neighbouring French communities. A great evening that we vowed to repeat in following years.
In other local news: My mom is currently in hospital to have both her knees replaced. She's had her second operation yesterday, and I am glad to report that everything went well. She's well on the path to recovery, which includes a few more weeks of hospital and rehab stays away from home. In order to make that easier on her, I gave her a digital picture frame today. It's a little TFT monitor that displays a slide show of all pics, movies & sound files that are on the memory card you plug into it. She's enjoying it a lot, especially since it contains literally hundreds of conversation starters. I tested a cheaper one before, but that was a bad experience: apparently buggy software, bad physical quality &c. I spent quite some time trying to get it running, whereas the Kodak one was just plug & play.
Urbi & orbi
While I am certainly glad to note that 2 Swiss cities made the cut, I am surprised at the bile expressed against Berne, the nation's capital. I am not exactly saying that Berne is a global metropolis - quite on the contrary. But if easy access to a long haul hub is such an important criterion as it is made out to be, then the metropolitan area of all of Switzerland should actually enter the competition, thanks to the country's small size. After all, Singapore is there, too, and some people are beginning to think of Switzerland as one big metropolitan area with a really huge natural park (the alps) in the middle. At any rate, I think I am not going to buy another issue of Monocle, because I am going to take out a subscription.
Speaking of cities & the world at large, I also stocked up on those new Wallpaper* Guides of the cities that I currently have an active interest in: Bangkok, Basel, London, Singapore. Great concept!
Obama for president? Yes, please.
In fact, I am wondering whether we're on the way to a carbon standard economy. This refers to the world currency system, as in gold standard, or the Bretton Woods system. Already today, the influence of one form of carbon (i.e. oil) on the global economy is very strong and may be seen as an alternative currency.
Anyway, arcane considerations such as that apart, I've come across a good evaluation of voluntary carbon offset programmes by Tufts University. I am glad to see that one of the recommended companies is Swiss MyClimate. Amazing that my forthcoming trip to Singapore for instance will release about 10 tons of CO2, the offset of which would set me back some €260. I need to consider my policy options.
Check out the rest of these excellent commercials for Parallel's virtualisation software, which I can highly recommend. The Coherence mode is kind of eerie, though!
Home for now
In other news, there has been a lot of talk about great change in London. At least, that's what a well established politician claims to put into place after having moved next door ... well, we'll see. A classic line by the Bard crosses one's mind, one admits.
Meanwhile, no signs of premature ihype have been spotted at the Regent Street Apple Store, even though it was as full as always. Nevertheless, I took advantage of the beginning end of season sales to indulge myself in some retail therapy. Among other things, I've upgraded my decrepit old Samsonite carry-on to a much better designed Tumi one. I've been enjoying the smart design of one of their backpacks for years now, and despite of the heavy use, it still looks almost as good as new thanks to the sturdy material it's made off. The new carry-on is just the same, and it's in silver grey, so I'll never be at risk again for grabbing any of the perfectly uniform black Samsonites from the conveyor belt. Simple pleasures ... just like the new jacket from Holland Esquire that I picked up at Liberty. I've never gotten my hands on garment that is as perfectly tailored as this for such a reasonable price.
My dog is nuts
Rebus and his Edinburgh
The final word
As I mentioned previously, the service is ok, but it lacks the certain panache that is required in a truely first class service. Just a few examples: They fill up wine glasses, of which there is only one size btw. Also, you may get champagne in a wine glass, even though the proper glassware is clearly available. Announcements are annoyingly loud, but the occasional background music is inappropriately muted so that you only get the faint din of the percussion. Not even the nice Van Laack gift polo and track suit will make up for that.
But all that is still bearable. Where it gets quite bad is where it really counts. My final connection on the way home was booked rather daringly, so when we run into the inevitable departure delay at Dulles, things became critical. From my earlier experience with Swiss, I expected at least the same level of service when it became apparent that it might just work in the final approach. However - nothing! Not only did I have to ask what was happening (there were only 3 FC passengers) rather than the crew would inform us proäctively. They virtually didn't know anything.
Eventually I was told that I was re-booked to a later machine, and that they didn't wait for connections. But nevertheless, I was told to ask the ground personnel, so obviously they weren't sure what was happening. Upon landing, there was no ground personnel at hand, and the transfer desk was helplessly clogged. So I decided to try and make it to the rather distant departure gate on my own devices in order to avoid an unplanned five hours interlude at Frankfurt airport. 'Lo and behold, I was lucky! The gate staff asked jokingly whether I had flown in, so evidently they knew about the delayed connection, and that's how I made it to Basle in time, without much help from Lufthansa - quite on the contrary, in fact. Naturally, my checked luggage only arrived tonight, but that's another story.
So, my experience travelling with the crane was well below expectations. I am looking forward to my forthcoming trip to Singapore on Swiss in late August. The trip to London on Tuesday (for three days) will be more of a commuting experience, compared to that.
Update (25.6.): I thought the book was closed on this, but it wasn't really. This morning, 24 hours after the fact, I received an SMS notification that my booking had been changed to flight LH 3812, departing from gate NULL. I might just have to review my German stereotypes ...
Across the pond
But the key part is the flight, of course. This was the first time I flew on the upper deck of a 747-400. With its 16 seats and the secluded cabin impression, it creates a very clubby atmosphere. There's also a big difference in noise to the usual front seats in single deck planes. So, the travelling experience is very comfortable indeed. The staff was very attentive and friendly, but they weren't quite as smooth as the only other FC experience I've had to date - Swiss. Definitely not up to Swiss standards was the very Haute Cuisine (36000 feet). The fish was slightly overdone, the rest quite uninspired. I've had better. But let's see how they'll perform on the overnight flight back - I'll have the same crew apparently. Oh, and someone send the copilot to an English course! He's obviously able to handle an aircraft, but I am not so sure about polite English.
The book is structured in ten short chapters: In Search of Arabs - Blood - Religion - Community - Women - The Problem of Power - Politics - Modernity - Language and Signals - Outlook. Most interesting & enlightening are the chapters on Blood, Power, Politics and Language. The latter has been outright intriguing for me - or do you know the optative aorist? Thought so ... well, I am afraid that's about all I can say about the book, because to further summarise it is a futile attempt. The book appears to be quite irreducible. However, I wonder what people more knowledgeable than me about the subject matter think of it.
iPhone to come with GPS?
One of them promotes the hottest feature in my view, namely Google Maps. This is not new in itself, since it was part of the initial demo, but now the iPhone is advertised with it specifically, so it's for real, not just a feature preview. Now the only thing I am wondering about is: Does the iPhone know where it is, and if so, how? The obvious answer is that it has a GPS chip built in, but why hasn't that been mentioned anywhere? Or does it rely on GSM cell triangulation? I hope not, because that method's precision is inferior to GPS and depends on the topology of the network the phone is in just now. Thoughts, anyone?
Diary of a Greenhorn, Ch. 2
Here's another installment of nephew T.'s Playmobil western. It gets better from chapter to chapter! It's weird to recognise most of the voiceovers ...
Scientology & me
You can also watch the documentary in three installments on Youtube.
This pearl of ancient wisdom was contained in the inconspicuous shell of an article about taxation. Thank you, Mr Frenkel!
Lest I forget ...
Anyways, I was in New York for some business on the day itself. The evening was spent in pleasant company at the Jazzgallery, a tiny downtown Manhatten place which I picked for the programme (a local trumpet player with band whose name escapes me now). It turned out that their style was a bit too - shall we say - experimental for my liking, but then again, this is East Coast stuff, I really should have known. Nevertheless, the atmosphere of the place fully made up for the lack of swing, or at least for my inability to recognise it. The gallery is located in a benignly neglected, quiet neighbourhood on the first floor above a bar. It seats maybe 60 people, most of whom appeared to be from the local conservatory, and there seems to be an occupied flat in a cubicle just inside the gallery - very homely.
My birthday did not go uncelebrated, though. It was made up for with a few good friends on the Friday following my return from NY. There's only a rare selection of pictures available of the occasion on my flickr account.
The Naming of the Dead
I met a traveller from an antique landPerhaps you can imagine what Rebus' paraphrasing looks like - better still, read it up yourself. I am not sure Rebus did: he thought Ozymandias hailed from Australia.
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Genius in smalltown
But that's not all - Mr Fukuyama also addresses the need for liberal European societies to strengthen their identity:
The civilisation of the European Enlightenment, of which contemporary liberal democracy is the heir, cannot be culturally neutral, since liberal societies have their own values regarding the equal worth and dignity of individuals. Cultures that do not accept these premises do not deserve equal protection in a liberal democracy. Members of immigrant communities and their offspring deserve to be treated equally as individuals, not as members of cultural communities. There is no reason for a Muslim girl to be treated differently under the law from a Christian or Jewish one, whatever the feelings of her relatives.I fully subscribe to that, as to most of the rest of the article.
Secondly, I'd like to refer you to a great piece of contemporary Realpolitik, namely Containing Russia, by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. Ms Tymoshenko seems to have a pretty level-headed, fair view of her country's titanic North-Eastern neighbour. Let's hope she will be in a position to put it into practical policy again soon ...
A Parisian in America?
To Russia, with doubts
Windows is for grandmas ...
Here's a two minute clip of Laika saving a stick from drowning.
Tiki Bar TV gives us just enough time until Easter to study the intricate set of rules that is the drinking game of Bunnies. For a flawless, yet necessarily superficial documentary of the game's enactment, see the reel referred to above. But beware, some of the bunny related action is rather rude - watch only if of legal age! That disclaimer is provided for the benefit of our transpondal clientèle, which the Royal League of Bunnies (RLB) also refers to, somewhat disrespectfully - surely the same will apply to all non-English lookers-on:
"A competent game of bunnies should be played at such a pace that the casual observer is rendered mesmerised by the velocity of the action. Most commonly, American observers will be overheard expressing bemusement and disbelief at what they are seeing. As with cricket, the finer points of bunnies will forever remain mysterious to those from over the pond, due to their innate inability to comprehend such complex goings on."
No jerk policy
Here's to the 50th return of the BBC's classic april fool's contribution. Apparently it worked very well back in 1957 - not anymore, I hope. Enjoy, particularly the accent!
From egghood to personhood
Btw, when did you order your first book online? My first traceable Amazon order happened on 11 August 1998: Paul Krugman's Accidental Theorist and Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma.
One more thing ...
Whence that outrageous allegation, now that we know about Mr Jobs' value to the firm? That's exactly the point. If Mr Jobs were to resign from Apple just like that, this would likely cause a considerable drop in the share price, ceteris paribus.
But I have a feeling that Mr Jobs his character is not one to allow for that assumption that everything else remains the same: he'll just change it thanks to his famous RDF. That's what's happening now at One Infinity Drive IMHO: Apple is being preened for an important change in the near future. The technology leadership in the No 1 strategic asset (OS X) is affirmed with Leopard, and its installable base is multiplied by the introduction of the iPhone, Apple TV and another thing that we don't know of, yet. Market demand for all these items will easily beat expectations and the Mac market share will expand, too, pushing the stock price through the roof. And then ... then we'll get that ominous announcement in a carefully orchestrated fashion so as to minimise the damage. I have a feeling that this is Mr Jobs' Grand Plan that goes well together with his dramatic persona. Remember, you've read it here first.
Monocle has a smart structure and caters to a like audience. Its contents is divided up under headings A B C D E. The design is surprisingly, yet sophisticatedly low key to the extent of appearing boring at first blush, and it comes in a handy, soft-cover bookish format. But it'll work its magic over time, I think. For the contents is definitely out of the ordinary with a wealth of unusual material spanning the globe. Let me just quote the instances where Switzerland is referred to, since that's what I know best. It starts with a small article about Porta Alpina, a project for a rather exotic type of train station in the alps. Then I just have to mention the article about the Ahmadinejacket, the first in a "series decoding power dressing [by looking] at the semiotics of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's man of the people look". When's the last time you saw semiotics used (without explanation) in a street journal?
Ok, next. Next is a portrait of the relevant components of the Coop chain of retail stores in Zürich. The Monoclists also did some shopping: they actually talk about underwear and Calanda aqua. But it gets weirder: There is a 12 page photo report about La Chaux-de-Fonds, a tiny Swiss town best known for its watch industry, Le Corbusier and Lenin's stay during the Russian revolution. Finally, the website also contains a small guide to Geneva. All in all, the selection of topics, items and locations is always a bit quirky, but interesting, and everything is well researched. I'll take out a subscription, I think.
P.S. Don't forget to check out the video section. Priceless.
Speaking of risk taking - I have a funny little story to tell about my close encounter with the Istanbul underworld. I spent the Sunday evening walking the town before meeting up with friends later. So, this regular looking guy asks me something in Turkish, to which I respond in English. Turns out he wanted to know the time, and he's a stranger, but frequent visitor to Istanbul by the name of Ali. We strike up a conversation during which he shows me around. A bit later, we decide to have a drink at a place he knows. Hmm, funny, I think, but ok, let's go.
Not long after sitting down at a table at this place "friend" Ali knows, we were being joined by two very blond, very curvy Russian ladies who developed a healthy appetite for the local bubbly. At that point, all my remaining warning lights went off and I asked for the bill. Not really surprisingly, the tab already stood at 2'340 Lira (EUR 1'270). What came next really took me by surprise though, and that was my reaction: I remained rather cool and asked for the police because there was no way I was going to pay. Naturally, our friendly ladies quickly cleared away, and the room's atmosphere turned distinctly unfriendly. Equally naturally, the manager was disinclined to call the police, nor did I have the local emergency number. Thus, the negotiations commenced.
I offered to pay 400 for the wine and firmly stuck to that offer, knowing full well that I didn't have more than 70 with me. That wasn't satisfactory of course, especially since "my friend" Ali offered to take half the bill. When I still wouldn't budge, he finally switched sides and started boasting his boxing prowess and mafia relations, to which I responded in kind (karate & bankers!). After about half an hour of this back and forth haggling, the manager became increasingly nervous and finally took me up on my offer. When I disclosed that I only had 50 in cash, he suggested to escort me to the next ATM as he wouldn't take credit cards for the remainder (why's that, I wonder ...). But once we were outside (he all by himself), I decided that I'd had enough and bade him farewell, not without shaking hands, and swiftly made it to the next cab.
In the end, that little adventure only cost me 50 Lira, and I learned a lesson or two along the way. On the one hand, I am rather pleased with the brazen way I negotiated myself out of that mess, on the other, I am not very happy about having gotten myself into it in the first place - it could have ended much less satisfactorily. I'll be more careful next time. There will be a next time for sure, as this could have happened everywhere, and Istanbul really is a fascinating place, you can take my word for it!
What with the raging debate about man made global warming and all its derivative industry pro & con, I am still trying to get my head around it, although I must admit that I am growing increasingly weary about the blatantly partisan direction that the debate is taking. Channel 4's The Great Global Warming Swindle takes a refreshingly contrarian position: it not just questions the economics of counter measures (it barely does, in fact), but it goes so far as to question the received wisdom that global warming is scientifically proven (yes, yes ...) to be man made. It offers alternative explanations for unquestioned climatic variability (unsurprisingly, the sun), plus a set of more or less obvious conspiracy theories. Well worth watching for every open minded contrarian.
Cracking the Oyster
P.S. What's really great about it is that it's available without a UK address, thus for tourists and other London travellers. And that's a good thing seeing how the rates for individual trips have been hiked. It's not completely thought through, though, in that you do need a UK address to register the card to protect it against loss and top it up online.
An iPhone for Smaran!
My first video blogpost
... would invariably be starring Laika. This dog is beginning to mimick its master's liking for water.
Macs are cheaper!
This should be proof enough that the old stereotype that Macs are expensive couldn't be further from the truth. And I am not talking total cost of ownership (which, if done right, would actually include resale value unlike in this example), although that would be the proper metric, but only cash out/in when you buy and sell your machine. Given that Macs cost about the same as your garden variety PC for comparable configurations nowadays, it's safe to say that Macs are cheaper.
A new Cold War?
The right attitude to rain
Free the classics
Babel is an annoyingly well crafted, politically correct conversation piece for your next penthouse dinner party. 'nuf said.
His last journey
Kapuściński tells stories of his many trips to Asia and Africa as a foreign correspondent, starting in the 1950s. In a wonderful illustration for the synchrony of the asynchronous (Ernst Bloch), he juxtaposes those stories with his reading of the reports of the first known "modern" historian, namely Herodotus. His colleague's method of 24 centuries back was to collect stories and memories of past times on his long journeys all over the known world, and to record them faithfully - just the way Kapuściński does. In both streams of narrative, there is at least one common denominator: humanity.
Writing this, I note that I seem to have taken to travel literature of sorts lately. While Pamuk's Istanbul admittedly stays in one place, it recalls that place's journey through time. The Art of Travel on the other hand may be categorised quite unequivocally. But there is even more in the To Read pile of books ... so I guess that commits my travelling firmly to the armchair variety. Which is of course much more environmentally friendly than any other kind of trip.
If the English translation (Maureen Freely) comes even close to the original, then the language alone truly deserves of the Nobel Prize. Pamuk's prose is rich, dense & precise, yet descriptive to the point of being voluble. Unfortunately, careless editing disturbs that favourable picture too often.
For me, this book offers important insights into modern Turkey's Befindlichkeit, at least so far as that of its urban, westernised elite is concerned. Anatolia is virtually absent from Pamuk's book, whereas predominantly French authors & artists appear to have had a downright formative influence. It is a revelation to observe the apparent impact of the decline of the Ottoman empire on everyday life, even half a century after the fact. My theory is that this may be due to the relatively early & painful loss of an old empire following WWI, which evidently was an extraordinarily traumatic experience compared to that of other European "competitors".
Highly recommended reading! I am looking forward to seeing Istanbul again with new eyes in March.
To Hydra by hydrofoil
Tomorrow will be dedicated to sightseeing (Akropolis, here we come!) / shopping, and on Sunday, the Monastiraki flea market will have caught my attention before I have to leave this great place again.
In den stillen Winkel eines antiquierten Buches hatten sich Pappenheimer und Pfennigfuchser verdrückt, als ich sie zuletzt traf. Gleich beim ersten Lesen machten sie einen niedergeschlagenen Eindruck; gaben ihre Depression auch sofort zu. «Traun!», riefen sie unisono, und da ich verständnislos guckte, schob Pappenheimer vorsorglich eine Übersetzung nach: «Fürwahr!» Meinen Kommentar, auch diese Wortwahl töne ziemlich altertümlich, quittierte er mit einem Seufzer. Er wies hinüber in die Abteilung G, wo die Kollegen Grisette, Galan und Gendarm aschgrau auf dem Boden hockten. Irgendwie angestaubt sahen sie aus. «Das ist ja unser Problem», meinte Pappenheimer. Kaum jemand benutze sie noch. Zwar seien sie viel distinguierter im Munde zu führen als die neudeutschen Äquivalente, doch dürfe man sich nichts vormachen: Sprachsoziologisch betrachtet, seien sie schlimmer dran als das abgehängte Prekariat. Ein Dasein ohne Perspektive. Wiederbelebung ausgeschlossen.
Mein aufmunternder Hinweis auf die jüngste Initiative des Sprachdenkmalpflegers Bodo Mrozek verfing nicht. Seit Mrozek in zwei Bänden sein «Lexikon der bedrohten Wörter» vorgelegt habe, fühle er sich wie endgültig eingesargt, knurrte Pappenheimer. Und dann noch dieser öffentliche Wettbewerb im Internet, bei welchem bis Ende Februar jeder hergelaufene Naseweis einen unmassgeblichen Vorschlag für ein bedrohtes Lieblingswort einreichen könne. Ihm sei ganz blümerant zumute, wenn er sich auf jener Liste stehen sehe, eingezwängt zwischen Pantoffelheld und Pappenstiel, und im weiteren Umfeld gesäumt von ephemeren Szene-Ausdrücken wie «Pogo» und «Popper», die doch, mit Verlaub, in eine ganz andere Liga gehörten. Einen Redaktor der «Süddeutschen Zeitung» habe er kürzlich auf diese Missverhältnisse hingewiesen, fuhr Pappenheimer, ein Grinsen unterdrückend, fort, und dieser sei denn auch entschieden kritisch mit der Website www.bedrohte-Woerter.de ins Gericht gegangen, habe die Betreiber ob ihrer Taubheit für Nuancen gerüffelt und Falschmeldungen wie das zwar in seiner Bedeutung veränderte, aber gewiss nicht gefährdete Allerweltswort «geil» angeprangert.
Ob er derlei nun auch von mir verlange, wollte ich wissen. Pappenheimer blickte verschmitzt. Die NZZ gelte doch als gebildetes Blatt, meinte er mit einer Wendung ins Vertrauliche. Was ein Ceterum censeo sei, wisse ich dann ja wohl. Sollte mir wirklich daran gelegen sein, ihn nachhaltig aufzumuntern, dann müsse ich eben künftig im Feuilleton den Cato geben. Nein, nicht um zur Vernichtung der Neologismen aufzurufen, welche heuer die alten Wörter von ihren Plätzen verdrängten. Das sei völlig zwecklos, denn die Wörter änderten sich ja auch deswegen, weil sich die Welt verändere. Andere Dinge, andere Namen. Aber jemanden wie ihn gebe es immer. Wenn ich nun jeden meiner Artikel mit dem Ausruf «Ich kenne meine Pappenheimer!» beschlösse, sei das für mich völlig ungefährlich, für ihn aber eine grosse Hilfe. Er sah mich drängend an. Ich schlug das Buch eilig zu.
Joachim Güntner in der NZZ.
Karl Kraus on the web
"... das beabsichtigte Einspinnen des Erdballs in ein Netz elektrischer Wellen ist ein so verlockendes Phantasma, daß es, zur Wahrheit geworden, als eine Großthat überquellenden Erfindergeistes bezeichnet werden müßte."Professor Victor Loos in Fackel #130, p. 10f., 1903; login using bla_bla / p5JPV6Pri
The wait is over ...
A classless society ...
For my future reference, here are the booking classes that do not allow Miles & More upgrades within Europe: X / T / E / L / I. For intercontinental flights, the same applies to classes X / W / E / T / I. Incidentally, these are subcategories of economy class. The eco ticket in V class that I booked yesterday for my trip to Athens in two weeks' time fortunately allows for miles upgrades.
But back to the food post: I've extended my foray into English wines, hence the title. We've tasted the Chapel Down Pinot Noir 2003 in combination with a raclette. To everybody's surprise, it turned out to be a rather pleasant, light wine! Obviously expectations were not exactly excessive, but they were matched. Nonetheless, I don't think I'll go through the pain of buying it at Fortnum & Mason's & bringing it back home again ... it was just a quixotic experiment that earned a few good laughs. There's still another bottle of white Chapel Down in the fridge, waiting for the next occasion. Maybe I'll play this album that I just downloaded from Magnatune.
Oh yes, before I forget: Happy New Year!