Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Declarations by a few historians regarding their declaration of the Wikipedia project to be nearly complete proved quite provoking to many dedicated editors and chroniclers, but this pronouncement—certainly not of demise and redundancy but quite the opposite in terms of utility and comprehensiveness—does pose an interesting point of departure for the open encyclopedia.
Wikipedia, despite what the critics and academics say and inherent imperfections, is a storehouse of human knowledge in all disciplines as well as a virtual gloss of that which only exists in human imagination, describing in great detail fantastic universes that would make our small, contradictory and poorly understood one envious for attention.
Historians argue that there only is so much that one can distill in the form of an article before passing out of the bounds of the project—Wikipedia is not meant to reflect the whole of its platform, the internet, and has standards of notoriety, endurance and significance as well as a duty to scholarship, and with over four million articles in English and over a million auf Deutsch (stubs excepted) one begins to tax his creativity and resources looking for something fresh to write about.
Of course, Wikipedia is expanding through translation into other languages and complimenting translated outlines, sister-projects and speciality portals, as well as encapsulating current events in an archival fashion, but, aside from the high quantity of topics covered, it seems that this assertion of approaching conclusion is based on the lack of emendations and counter-edits of established and heady historical articles and many other broad subjects.
While no one is saying that fewer changes equates to a lack of engagement or new authors going away having found that everything’s already been written, I don’t think it signifies anything more (nor less) than a level of maturity in style and presentation and execution that was crafted and molded by the forum itself, and curiosity, whether with or without a vehicle for immediate expansion or expression, and the sense of discovery and re-discovery are inexhaustible and will probably never become moribund or again seek out the protection of the slant of the victorious and influential.
A comprehensive study commissioned by Greenpeace Germany of sports- and outdoor wear articles has determined that virtually all coats, jackets and clothing treated to be weather-proof retain those harmful chemicals.
Monday, 29 October 2012
Via the ever splendiferous watchers at Boing Boing, Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on what struck me as a new tact on the part of the entertainment industry and intellectual property chieftains but is just I suppose the latest assault in the bullying-desperate attempts to alienate ownership, entrepreneurship and fair-use. Essentially, an international textbook publishing house has placed an injunction against a student from selling his used learning materials, because, they argue, the content was manufactured, compiled overseas and therefore not subject to the legal principle of first sale, a doctrine that makes venues like eBay and flea-markets and charitable giving possible because one is selling one’s ownership of the thing and not the copyrighted content of it. The US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments, for what seems like a sophisticated and possibly pervasive loophole, since there’s little that is created without non-domestic contributions, and is expected to strike the publisher’s case down as clawing.
Sunday, 28 October 2012
For this dish to serve 3 to 4, one will need:
- A medium casserole dish
- A large Butternut squash, enough to get 1½ pounds from (600 – 750 grams), minus the skin and seeds (a slender squash, as compared to a dumpy one with wider squash hips tends to have less seeds)
- A bit of butter, flour (about 4 tablespoons each) and salt and pepper and fresh dill (chopped) and nutmeg (Muskat) for seasoning
- 1 cup (250 ml) of cream
- 2 cups (500 ml) of vegetable stock or bullion
- A 9 oz (250 g) package of smoked salmon (fresh or from the refrigerated section)
- About 7 oz (200 g) of grated cheese (gouda or mozzarella)
- A 4 oz (about 100 g) package of lasagna pasta
- A large onion
Begin by shelling the squash and removing the seeds, and then slice the squash into small cubes and set aside.
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Reflecting on the upcoming and rather secularized celebrations of Guy Fawkes Night, commemorating the foiled Gunpowder Plot of the Fifth of November where the triggerman Guy Fawkes is burned in effigy, it is curious how in some four centuries of historical memory documenting revelry, sentiment and celebration, we witness perhaps the process of transposition and myth-making. The many hypotheses regarding Christianity supplanting pagan feasts with their own holidays in order to ease the tradition, like All Saints’ Day and Halloween for Nordic and Celtic Samhain or Christmas for Roman Saturnalia, cannot be tested and accounts are only implicit and worked backwards.
Since sharing my crooked smileand knowing that others have scrolled past it, I have become more aware of what I can do to improve my dental state—or at least feel better about it whether any measurable change happens. Let me preface what might turn out to be a cautionary tale with medical professionals are much better suited to dispense sound advice than any non-sequitir blog sought out or found at random on the internet and one should seek consultation before trying to stave anything off with home-remedies that could become a serious and costly problem. With due warning, I took to heart my aggressive tooth-brushing habits and wondered if my gums weren’t receding. I was not exactly sure, since as with the dulling of the enamel, it’s a gradual process to look long-in-the-tooth. Aside from smoking and genetic-predisposition, however, brushing too hard is the top culprit for gum damage.
Friday, 26 October 2012
Thursday, 25 October 2012
Lore and superstition regarding vampirism, even preceding the imaginations of the writers they’ve inspired, sanction standard horror and a well-developed, though flexible, codex of rules governing the undead, but can also be keenly abstract in their beliefs.
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
Before living in Germany, I had never heard the word Stammtisch, although the phenomenon and culture of a table for regulars, a salon-society, and a designated meeting point, a reserved spot, for networking and politicking, like the word, had been long since an established fixture of many societies. That term sounded very formal, like holding court, and maybe that made me seek out a less down-to-earth translation or equivalent. It comes under other names, too, of course, including the cracker-barrel or Coffee-Klatch, which surely has German origins too, and all the different words with differing connotations of hierarchical sophistication. Cafes, guesthouses, inns (Gaststätte) and pubs usually distinguished the gathering point for their regulars with a special ceremonial ashtray or a table flag (Wimpel). Mostly the get-together has been sublimated in the form of a virtual presence, but in some places the tradition continues unbroken.
While the merest suggestion that all the gold reserves in Fort Knox might not be fully accounted for is dismissed as the anarchistic and rambling speculations of a Sanka drinking mountain woman, the same question posed by the German Schatzkammer, the competent authority for auditing such things as the nation’s some 3 400 tonnes of gold, seems to have drawn some serious, if not careful and apologetic attention.
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
While I believe these events were unrelated, it is of note that the push to institute a quota scheme for women in top management in German businesses came on the wake of the collapse of a drug store chain (Drogerie-Kette)that served as a pedestrian anchor in many neighbourhoods and smaller communities. The loss of this retailer not only means that residences need to go further for staples but the chain was also an important local employer in these host communities.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
Over the weekend, taking advantage of the Indian Summer conditions and the full- spectrum of colours and hues, we had a chance to visit the town of Sigmaringen, situated between the city of Stuttgart and Lake Constance. The dominating palace was impressive of course in its own right and well worth the visit down to the finest details. Usually, despite a wealth of exceptions, I do not think of such a place as lording over a living community—present and mushrooming from the landscape, to keep the subjects in check. Exquisitely curated by the equally extant dynasty of the hereditary princes, the location has been through the ages an exclave of Prussian rule and a city-state as well as the headquarters of the Vichy government of France during the closing months of World War II, when Allied forces pushed collaborators into exile.
Friday, 19 October 2012
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Bottles of wine are a bit like little secondary time-capsules, necessarily so as part of the manufacturing process, hermetically sealed and stored up, sometimes for years and years—although it’s a misconception that all wines improve with age and many times will sour or become corked. This unintentional archive, however, does resemble some of the criticisms of time-capsules in general, those walled into cornerstones or buried under pyramids and parking lots, of being unreliable narrators (unzuverlässiges Erzähler).
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
It becomes strange what one doesn’t give a second glance after a bit of indoctrination. There is not exactly an aggressive giant chair advertising offensive making this too commonplace to notice, but one does find such structures fairly regularly in the parking lots of bigger cities—at least in southern Germany—sort of, I suppose, like Bob’s Big Boy but these examples are I think much more arresting, eye-catching landmarks, even if they’re just for marketing too.
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Monday, 15 October 2012
Perhaps I am a bit behind the curb in noticing but I haven’t visited the auction site in a few weeks and mostly prefer my old fall-back local flea-markets—not that I only visit like a desperate madman on his way to a Secret-Santa holiday office party and we do regularly find some incredible pieces there—but I am really displeased with the choice the eBay made with its new typeface.
Sunday, 14 October 2012
Although it is a matter for debate and speculation through the rather myopic lens of the Cold War and the policy of deterrence what the grounding motivations for the speech and the project were, US president Eisenhower’s 1953 address to the United Nations’ General Assembly on “Atoms for Peace” was a bold and defining departure.
This message, most likely worded to bring the antiseptic of daylight, more transparency and less secrecy that characterized how research and maintenance of stockpiles was conducted prior, to that “bucket of sunshine,” as Khrushchev called the bomb, aimed to promulgate nuclear power for peaceful purposes—energy, medical research, etc., and to assuage public fear that such destruction would not be visited on the Earth again, with the irreconcilable horrors of Japan still very raw and tensions escalating between the two superpowers. No longer state secrets because of this move for peaceful proliferation, the US knew better that state of players on the periphery and developing and nascent powers, with newly-acquired know-how under special tutelage, were able to develop generators, reactors and laboratories.
Until recently, this openness has helped mean that the founding members of the nuclear club have kept their munitions but very few have applied for membership, perhaps content with pursuing their own goals in regard to transitional power supplies and perhaps with the assurance that, in a pinch, they too could weaponize their stocks. Some argue that the underlying stratagem was to persuade NATO allies to shift their focus to developing and maintaining a nuclear arsenal, rather than more costly traditional armaments and standing armies and regard the policy of sharing technologies as having gravely backfired. I believe, rather, that this approach figuratively built in fail-safes and backdoors that was a greater instrument of restraint than mutually assured destruction. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle but well-crafted diplomacy and confidence seem much more enduring than dictates and fighting wars by proxy.
Saturday, 13 October 2012
verðlaun, iad duais, the prize, o prémio, el premio, el premi, ar priz, le prix, de prijs, den präis, der prisen, premija, den prisen, i priset, palkinto, auhind, der preis, il premio, præmium, il premju, lu premiu, w nagroda, a díj, cena, çmimi, premiul, τα βραβεία, прэмія
It is a great honour to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, along with 502 million fellow Europeans, and I believe in the congratulatory and admonishing spirit of the committee’s unanimous decision. Individuals surely take on the burden and potential of promoting harmony, too, and there are worthy and magnanimous individuals out there working in the public and struggling in the shadows to those ends, but awards en masse, neither slights for the other nominees nor anodyne and over-cautious, are not without precedent, like when the prize was given to Doctors without Borders (Médecins sans Frontièrs, Ärzte ohne Grenzen) or Great Britain conferring the George Cross collectively to the people of Malta for gallantry during World War II.
Friday, 12 October 2012
I don’t pretend to know anything about the subject, the distinct traditions of the Japanese ideas of heraldry and vexology are quite something to survey. Here is a collection of family crests, akin to coats-of-arms, which fall into geometric categories, like variations on hawks’ feathers, oaks, measuring boxes, plums, peonies, cranes, etc. Mouse over the image for a description. One can see that a few of these arms have found their way into the blazoning of the Western corporate world, used as logos by a certain banking enterprise, political party brands and monograms, a hardware manufacturer, and a few other as yet undiscovered ones. I like to think that the necessarily large and diverse marketing department that spearheaded these advertizing campaigns had some insight into their inspirations and there’s some allegory and symbolism behind the decisions. I’d like to think so anyway, although I often run up against a curiosity barrier when the matter of things gets too dense.
Although not quite in contention as laureate material for its sometimes frustrating poetry, the chain of developments—from Pennsylvania 6-5000 to telephony for the hearing impaired to text-messaging—that led to predictive text, T9 technology, I think, deserves acknowledgement.
Thursday, 11 October 2012
There is political and business consensus that the Energie-Wende, Germany’s planned transition away from nuclear dependency and towards more ecologically sustainable energy sources, will demand sacrifice and see a dearer cost placed on utilities, probably a truer reflection of the impact our accustomed lifestyles have on the environment. The recently passed bundle of regulations championing renewables, das Erneuerbare Energie Gesetz (EEG), is expected to propagate an increase in electricity costs of up to two fold in the coming year, which will of course having ripples through out the marketplace, and not ending with the average 50 € annual increase per household. That does not seem like too great of a price to pay but it may continue to climb by the same percent or higher in the following years, and does not take into account other fuels and knock-on prices.
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Monday, 8 October 2012
We have made this delicious meal, which is by turns, either like crepes or quesadillas, a few times but did not bother to document it before. It is more labour intensive but very tasty and worth the effort and concentration. This is the only dish of detail I know that conspicuously calls for a hard and a soft cheese.
To make approximately 5 generous-sized crespelle, one will need:
- 300+ grams (11 ounces) of frozen spinach
- 200+ (7 ounces) grams of Ricotta cheese
- 6+ tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 large eggs
- Salt, pepper, fresh Muscat (grated)
- 500 ml (2 cups) of milk
- 150 grams (1¼ cup) of flour
- Cooking oil and extra butter to fry the crespelle and line the casserole dish
- 250 ml (to make about one cup) of vegetable stock or bouillon for the Béchamel sauce
Begin making the spinach and ricotta filling by ensuring the spinach is thawed and malleable. Combine this with the ricotta, 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan and seasonings to taste. Mix until thoroughly blended and no longer lumpy.
Next, prepare the batter and one’s work space for the crespelle. Melt about 50 grams (2 ounces) of the butter in a pan. Meanwhile, combine the other two eggs, about half of the milk, some cooking oil, a pinch of salt and about 100 grams (2/3 cup) of flour into a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk. Adding a ladle’s worth of batter to the pan on medium heat, make the crepes, frying them about two minutes on each side, and allow the stack to sit for a few minutes to cool.
In the meantime, one can prepared the Béchamel sauce, first melting the remaining butter in a small pot and adding the rest (about 50 grams, about half a cup) of flour to it. Once melted, pour the mixture of flour and butter into the frying pan used for the crespelle. Slowly introduce the remaining milk and stock to the pan and stir gently on low heat, seasoning with the muscat, salt and pepper to taste.
Watch it to make sure the milk is not scalded. Scoop about four table spoons of the spinach filling onto each crepe and roll loosely and place in a greased casserole dish. Pour the Béchamel sauce over the crespelle and top with the remaining three tablespoons of Parmesan. Bake the casserole in an oven preheated to 175°C (350°F) for approximately 30 minutes. Then serve and enjoy with a light Riesling.