Saturday, 30 January 2010

somnambulism


Looking through the archives of the fantastic psychology blog Mind Hacks, I came across this brief on a UK author's book about couples' sleeping positions and what that nighttime arrangement says about their relationship.Different sleeping arrangements had lovely descriptive names, named like yoga positions, but it all smacks of pseudo-science, like phrenology, dowsing or hollow-earth theory.  I doubt whether someone should judge their relationship too harshly if they perfer the one-footed king pidgeon over the downward facing-dog at night.  Besides I am sure no one is frozen in place while they sleep and bed size should be considered too.

padding

Contemplating how casual computer use might shift with the iPad, moving away from something you cannot keep in your pocket or clip to your belt or let it rest on the president's desk, I have images of people lugging big boom boxes on their shoulders in the mid-eighties, even though we had the Walkman.  I also think about those novelty over-sized sunglasses and maybe some of the accoutrements, like 4 foot long giant pencils, that they sold at Spensers Gifts or on the New Facts of Life.

Friday, 29 January 2010

time takes a cigarette

German AP reports that the European Union is extending the push for 100% compliance for a smoke-free workplace and has issued an edict that calls for the dismantling and removal of all ashtrays mounted on building exteriors and in public parks.  One already cannot purchase a new car with an ashtray or an electric cigarette lighter, and the smokers have been banished from restaurants and have been reduced to shivering, loitering in entryways.  Now cigarette butts will just be strewn all over parking lots and stuffing rain gutters.   I like how that's done, rather than just tossing a cigarette on the street--pushing it down the sewer grates, I am sure, keeps the CHUDS appeased and lets them get their fix without attacking humans.  I hate to think of the EU dispatching bulldozers to eliminate the smokers' outposts.  Ashtrays can sometimes be works of art and I think would be nice to keep around, if for nothing but the nostaglia and anachronism, like those antique metal posts sometimes by exterior doors to scrape horse poo from your boots.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

reportage

Bad Karma, our fair city, made a unenviable appearance on the national news as part of Siemens' announcement to cut some 2000 production jobs in Germany.  About 850 of those will come from our local plant and sent to a facility in the Czech Republic.  Siemens is not the only comparable, industrial, technical employer here but it will have a huge impact.  American Woman, stay away from me--just let me be.  I have fortuneately not heard of this happening much yet--only when redundant government positions are eliminated (through atrition) when the country unites or when US military bases are mothballed.  A colleague, however, predicted we would be seeing this kind of job flight in response to the bad economy about a year after it began in the States.  My former village, Wicked-Awesome-Heim, was also in the following traffic report--a truck had jack-knifed in the driven snow on the stretch of road running parallel to the village walls.  Fortuneately, no one was hurt. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

anticipation


Of the iPad, Karl Marx summed it up really well--"New thing, desirable, old thing, undesirable."

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

copyfight or Rhaetorian Guard

On the eve of the Davos summit, the APF reports this mystery:

The Swiss police commander overseeing security for the World Economic Forum in Davos was found dead Tuesday, police said, adding that it appeared to be a suicide. The announcement came as political and business leaders began arriving in the Swiss mountain resort for the start Wednesday of the annual blue-chip meeting. "Dr. Markus Reinhardt, commander of the Graubuenden cantonal police... was found dead in his hotel room in the morning," Swiss police said in a statement. "All indications point to a suicide." Reinhardt, 61, has headed the canton's police force since 1984. The force paid tribute to Reinhardt as a "treasured, important personality".  Local authorities said another senior police officer had taken over his duties for the forum, the Swiss news agency ATS reported.  World Economic Forum (WEF) organisers stressed that Reinhardt was not a member of its staff but said the forum had long worked with him in preparing for the annual Davos mega-conference.  "The World Economic Forum has with great sadness and regret learned of the tragic death" of the police chief, said a WEF statement.  "During the many years during which we co-operated with him over security for our Annual Meeting at Davos, we appreciated his professionalism and his kindness. "The (Swiss) Security Forces continue to have our full confidence and trust in their work," it added.
Of course, I am invited to re-tweet this news item, which seems much perferred to a sloppily cited cut-and-paste and is sometimes blocked by some unknown process.  I do not agree that sharing should be restricted to such conduits. Jinkies--this does sound like a case.  When thinking of the Swiss and security, I can only fathom up them guarding the Pope, which seems to be working well for all involved.

deep breath

Last summer, I ordered a terrific, hopeful T-shirt adapted from a vintage British World War II poster, advocating a stiff upper-lip and moreover to not panic.  "Keep Calm and Carry On."  I think that this Etsy entrepeneur is espousing equally good advice.  Etsy, which is a wonderful outlet for creativity and handicraft and represents those handmade gifts that are great to give and receive, is especially smart considering the sorry state of the economy and jobs market and the prospects for revival of such a monstrosity.  We should all hone up on our knitting skills.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

gerrymandering

H and I just took a short trip this weekend to get out of the house and shed some of the winter detrius.  Had we been traveling during 1789 in the Holy Roman Empire, however, it's boggling to think of how many international boundries we would have crossed with city-states and peculiars of the Church and Crown.  How did so many separate jurisdictions cohabitate?  Surely it wasn't peaceable.

we won't be pwn'd again

Hoping I am not one of these merchants of gloom or persistant naysayers (though I am very quick to criticize US policy), I cannot see there was much good news for the Obama administration during this past week.  After the end of the Kennedy dynasty, the Supremes were quick to follow with another blow, relaxing campaign finance reform and reversing the goals of McCain-Feingold.  Politicians are already tools of corporate interests and their cherry-picking of candidates that will support their agendas should not be made any easier, and now the opinion of a gaggle of investors, stakeholders is on equal-footing and apparently just as sacrosanct in terms of First Amendment Bill of Rights™ protection as any individual voter.  That does not bode well for America's credibility or sincerity.  Mixed signals are abundant with the call for taxing the bohemoth banks and tripping over healthcare reform.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

skimming with sharks


Overshadowed by the super-loss of their super-majority and other kinks in the process of cauterizing state-run health-care, there was a second news item (the story is no longer available) concerning nationalization of the multi-billion dollar student loan industry.  SallieMae was always a strange sort of quasi-governmental agency with a weird and shadowy sort of authority and potential to do its worse.  I wonder what it means for my Diploma Mill University, which was just re-accredited by the association of reputable accreitors, thank you very much--which I am sure were reliant on a lot of free and easy federally subsidized monies that seemed to be granted like wishes, or for those loan agencies that operated under the same federal umbrella.  I am not sure what this news could mean.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

beating ploughshares into swords

Here's some disturbing reporting from ABC News--

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifles and sights provided to the US military by Michigan company, the 18 January report reveals. The sights are used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of native soldiers.  The maker, Trijicon, has a $660 million, multi-year contract to provide 800,000 sights to the Marines and Army.  Rules prohibiting proselytzing any religion in Iraq and Afghanistan were specifically drafted in order curb criticism that the US was engaging in a religious crusade.  One of the inscriptions read 2COR4:6 and apparently references 2nd Corinthians 4:6, which reads "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face or Jesus Christ."  There are more inscriptions citing the books of Revelations, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as the light of the world.  John 8:12, appearing on the gun sights as JN8:12 says, "Whomever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life."  The report goes on to say that it allows al Qaeda and the jihadists to claim that they are being shot by Jesus rifles.  I wonder how exactly this report came to be--it's like some rudimentary, evangelical version of the Da Vinci Code combined with bombshell art, taking swipe at the military industrial complex for dragging its feet on the issue of a crusade.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

capricorn



I've noticed, that either through intent or accident, we have a lot of goat-themed decor about the house--from the Picasso to the great-horned lamp.


Friday, 15 January 2010

jamming good with Weird & Gilly

Last week NASA released some photographs of the Martian terrain on sand dunes that look like they are covered with sagebrush.  This, however, is the result of shadows of sublimating crystalline pillars of dry ice frost now that it is spring time on Mars.  Even if it is sort of an optical illusion, it far surpasses the shadow that looks like a human face on Mars or a contrived Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich.  It seems a shame that there is all that unused real estate, by man or beast or sometging unimaginable on the other planets.  The only news on Mars, we would say, is when we send out rockets and robots there, or when those comets hurled into Jupiter.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Hoodoo





















The people of Haiti are in trouble.  Please send help if you can.  Artze ohne Grenze.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

baden baden


On these cold winter weekends, nothing could be finer than an afternoon spent at the spas.  Bad Kissingen, Bad Neustadt, Bad Bocklet, Bad Karma.  For the brave or the fool-hardy, some even have a chute from the inside to the outside pool, thick with a bank of lazy steam tampt down by the cold, cold air.  From the envelope of warmth, the fragile currents above the waters look deceptively inviting.

Monday, 11 January 2010

nomenclature


The wintery storm was not a total bust, as we await early dismissal, but the Germans seem to have developed a sort of naming-envy, American-style.  The weather men have called this depression Daisy, as one would name hurricanes or cyclones.  H says they used to just call it winter.  I am afraid they might take it to a further extreme and pop the suffix -gate on it, like the US has done with every political scandal or hissy-fit since Watergate.  Monica-gate, Finance-gate, Climate-gate.  Giving something a name has become more than just short-hand for the weather system that made a mess of the roads during a certain time, it gives it a personality like El Nino or La Nina, which one does not hear so much about these days--possibly non-compliant with global warming.

Friday, 8 January 2010

pnw'd


The creation of the US Department of Homeland Security and other various agencies of angst have succeeded in deputizing an army of untrained goons with a dangerous sense of authority.  Such organizations too have dismal track records when it comes to implementing new technologies that mean to keep us safe.  I am sick to death of seeing pervy and gross pictures of people in x-ray vision.  The unlucky models for the body-scanners all look like that creature from Pan's Labyrinth.  I wonder what fly-by-night contractor threw these together and stand to make a tidy profit.  It is like the electronic voting machines that supposedly make democracy better or taking away our USB drives at work and giving us something called "data armour" that seizes up at random and requires eight minutes to open an email--or the $2 500 toliet seats that the Pentagon is wont to purchase.  What is worse is that some believe that such flashy contraptions are more than show and could actually prevent an attack.  Nothing's gained, expect maybe a false sense of safety, and we'll never get back are thumb-drives, cigarette lights, paper chads, potable water.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

these kids today with their y2k...


The millenial bug after dire predictions a decade ago has reared itself again in some 30 million automatic teller machines, bank cards and point-of-sales registers all across Germany, leaving vacation-goers without access to cash and causing undue embarassment and worry in checkout lines.  A mistake in programming causes an error when the card or device processes the 2010 date.  YYMMDD--100101, DDMMYY--010110.  Computers don't make mistakes; people do.  I wonder if all the focus and patchwork that went into preventing the crash in the year 2000 contributed to this.  Technicians are being deployed to fix the problem and replacement ATM cards being issued, but it makes me wonder what else might not be Y2KX compliant--I don't think I've turned on TomTom since New Years, and who can say what other surprises might be in store when one finally gets around to one project or another after the holidays.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

i'm a little flake-y


So far this season there have not been any snow days yet.  Snow days are always more objective that calling it in because one is sick, although there is more potential for getting myself in trouble on snow days, when one is excused on account of the weather and not for feeling generally lousy, which is a subjective matter.  Today is Ephiphany, Drei Koenigs Tag, and I wish I felt better to enjoy the day off with H but I suppose that had I felt better, I would have gone to work.  I still get a little stir-crazy when confined to bed, and I guess that same potential for mischief is there, as on snow days.  I have been monitoring the weather, expectant of the front that has got the rest of the northern hemisphere in its grips--surely Mother Nature's retribution for Nopenhagen and is turning the UK into a panic-state and spoiled my boss's Florida vacation, to roll in any time now.

Monday, 4 January 2010

finery






This holiday season has been very dear to me with good friends and family, hectic but in a fun way and with time for reflection and gratitude.  Plus, I got a lot of really fine gifts and I hope that I was able to give in kind.  I really liked everything that I got--so often Christmases, even for all the fretful planning and talk of meaning, still sometimes are not as memorable.  Regular readers will understand why I was so jazzed to get this bath/door mat, and the virtually safe skateboard is really cool and the Bailey's and the great horned-lamp and the art deco milk pitcher, etc., which I should showcase later.  I received in the post a New Year's greeting card from my online graduate school, which was a nice greeting--though I very much enjoyed having the Winter Break from the Kant Generator.  Not to spoil the sentiment, since it is a nice card, but I noticed that in the side text that expresses "peace" in the languages of the world easily rendered in Western alphabet, there was a wish for "eace-pay."  Now I have to wonder about the academic standards of an institution of higher learning that uses pig-Latin.  I suspected that Fandriampahalemana was Malagasy but I had to make sure it was in fact a real word.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

MMX

Remember how feisty John McLaughlin would get with his guests, especially for the predictions segments?  "Elinor Gee-I-think-You're-Swelinor Cliff, political forecast for next year?" "..."  "Wrong!"  Let's see how well my prognostication fares.
The Virus who Cried Wolf and Related Matters:

Individuals and governments, weary of pandemic projections, will not take kindly to the latest walrus and meerkat strains, but they will still prove profitable and grist for the blogging mill.  Airport security, just aching to be proven right, that one should err always on the side of outrageous caution, will institute even more draconian measures that will extend to domestic flights and public transportation until we are all nude and baggage-less.  This will create a new sort of locker-culture and backpack cult. 
Just when amateurs felt it was safe to loiter in the stock-markets, the world wide economy will take another culling swipe, though this time, fuel and commodity costs will be artifically buoyed up.  Some markets will implode because there's no cheapness in manufacturing to offset unemployment and other financial strains.  This second blow may lead to calls for cesession and repartitioning and reorganization of tax revenues in America.
Astronomers and researchers will be free to provide hard evidence of extra-terrestial life.  Interestingly enough, the discovery will be made and PR handled through the Specola Vaticana (the pope's observatory in Castle Gandolfo).  The resulting shift in people's priorities will almost be overwhelming--though people are very resilient when it comes to pursuing petty hang-ups.
Politically, the past decade was hardly predictable, at least from an American point-of-view, but I think those manouevers, even a resulting Republican renaissance, will appear less and less relevant, on the global and universal scale, as India begins to determine world policy.
Developments in the scientific arena, especially with the infusion of alien technology, will present some risky, ethically challenges, as it always does, but humanity's gentle introduction and prep-work through sci-fi and escapism turns out to serve us well.