Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Though I am sure to count my progresses as things to be grateful for, it is a very simple matter, as fundamentally apparent as those things that are easily overlooked, to forget and forego the basic lessons. That's why people adopt, however imperfectly, dogmas and mantras because such a manner of conduct and orientation, albeit with more meaning than merely preserving one's sanity and health, can be simpler to adhere to rather than entertaining all sober and sometimes contradictory evaluations of everything at once. I know it is nothing outstanding to turn inward or transform opportunities and advantage into problems—probably because we have grown more accustomed to difficulty and means to success are biased by experience and not readily recognisable, but I try to let go and leave work for another day—when I am being compensated for it with something other than beans, despite assurances that they are magic.
Tuesday, 30 July 2013
From now until the end of October, there is a special exhibition hosted by the Centre for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe on the work and lasting influence of author, tinkerer and entrepreneur Hugo Gernsback. The namesake of the Hugo literary prize for science-fiction was born in Luxembourg and received training in a German military signals unit in Bingen, establishing his enduring interest in ham radio and helping to grown the network of amateur and hobby radio operators world-wide, before immigrating to America. Settling there, Gernsback entered into the publishing industry, first distributing a catalog-magazine hybrid for wireless accessories and several other popular mechanics-type publications following his interests in emerging technologies and feeding his sense for speculation.
Sunday, 28 July 2013
uncertain periodicity though I was, I did stop off at a place we had visited once a few years ago, lured by an antique market on the upper and lower market squares of the imperial city of Gelnhausen, which was accorded this status by Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa for its location at the intersection of important trade routes between Frankfurt and Leipzig and interestingly the geographic centre of the European Union by more contemporary measures and vetting. Aside from the medieval city centre, Gelnhausen's chief draw is its imperial palace grounds, which although were rich with nice ruins of masonry work and well-curated history, was not quite the palatial scene H and I were expecting at the time, and it seemed afterwards we gravivated towards a series of Pfälzer that did not live up to out expectations. There was a lot to explore, I found in the old town, and I except it is well worth another visit. The market, incidentally though a bit top-heavy with porcelain and furniture (larges as opposed to smalls) was the genuine deal, but I did not find anything that might find a home at ours.
While I am not certain if historic records were broken all over Germany this weekend as predicted, it was certainly more than hot enough.
- Whitehouse Down and Olympus has Fallen
- Armageddon and Deep Impact
- The Prestige and The Illusionist
- The Abyss and Leviathan
- The Truman Show and EdTV
- The Descent and The Cave
- After Earth and Oblivion/WALL-E
- The Road and The Colony (or any number of post-apocalyptic movies)
- United 93 and World Trade Center
Saturday, 27 July 2013
Though the only thing to have definitely been disappeared is a portion of the US administration's public resource and engagement web-site that made the pointed promise for continued protection for so-called Whistle-Blowers—defined aptly as important stewards to mitigate fraud, waste and abuse, it is a very unfortunate time for the page to go off-line. It's not entirely irretrievable, according to the site's web-masters—safely retained in the archives, cheerfully referred to as the Wayback, and not some Orwellian bottomless memory-hole where censored materials are shunted and people are told they never happened and everything has always been this way.
The ever fascinating Atlas Obscura presents a collection of unholy spans, which medieval superstitions credited to master civic planner and engineer, the Devil himself, over the seemingly impossible feats of architecture that ancient crossings imparted to people seeing them for the first time.
Friday, 26 July 2013
A discussion with a linguist on the radio about the tendency not just for minority and endangered languages and dialects not only to cannibalise terminology from overpowering and domineering tongues with a colonial-metropolitan status, incorporating more and more elements of English (the lingua franca), but also of the cannibalism of so-called killer languages.
Thursday, 25 July 2013
I wonder about the glossy black square—does it contain an invisible message, like a camouflaged QR-code or something to calibrate drones or satellites? Or is a paper-bomb, really mean to check “our distance abilities” projected like a paper airplane or dropped by a very obliging and careful pigeon? What it just something tossed accidentally along the way to somewhere else? Does the German army hope that people ask questions or return it? It's a little strange but nice that there is some transparency and explanation, but I suspect it's not enough to prevent imaginative speculation.
Wednesday, 24 July 2013
the plate-of-shrimp-effect), the number forty-two in The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, Jim Carrey's character in The Number 23, as well as our own daily lives, like waking at the same time in the middle of the night. While I strongly do not believe that the universe only has indifferent coincidences on offer and it is nice to have something thematic, it is also good to distance oneself from cogitative partiality.
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
While I am not but delighted for Britain's young princely couple over the birth of an eventual successor to the throne and out-pourings of well-wishes in general, the media frenzy and the general fawning and envy of the people of Germany (not to mention the royal-watchers who hang on every detail of the monarchs of the Nordic lands), I think it is high-time that Germany reinstated a monarchy to satisfy public-demand.
Monday, 22 July 2013
Even though ours had a personality, through the inscrutable technical manual and quirky behaviour, instantly, it's not a fleet to be batted away by the elements, not legion, nor a personal guardian angel or fairy godmother. I wonder if that's how we think of drones, in a theatrical way—a side-kick or a nemesising force, from the crows of Odin that scanned the universe, to Bubu the clockwork owl, VINcent from the darkly bizarre movie Black Hole, that flying sceptre from Flash Gordon, to the imperial probe that betrayed the rebels' location on Hoth, as sort of something one-off (with an inviolable set of weakness and limitations that is am important plot-point) and not with replacements waiting in the wings and certainly nothing accessible by mere mortals. It's pretty cool to be challenged with the clearance of extra dimensions and pretty fun too to get a glimpse from above without having to budget for imagination.
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Though probably not a wholly innocent or prudent plea, patience, and not meaning license to defer problems until after federal elections, is not a bad idea in situations where in the first place the rank hypocrisy of doing what can be done elevated and uncontrollably spread the magnitude, post-haste and without regard for the consequences, the German leadership, despite accusations to the contrary and attendant dangers of being caught in a lie, is calling for public calm over the stewardship of its data.
After the allure of free congress and enough free samples of everything imaginable, on-line culture is being slowly given a new paradigm that buries much of what the public has become addicted to, casually and without turning back, behind water-marks, clearing-houses, functionality splintered into thousands of idiosyncratic applications, paywalls, subscriptions and compartmentalized by various services that compete rather than communicate with one another, as Buzzfeed's Charlie Warzel presents in a brillant essay on this shift in attitudes and accessibility.
Now one, instead of bi-coloured cardboard and stage-light gel glasses, wears Dr. Strangelove's spectacles, though there has been improvements by tweaks, if not bounds. A researcher at the University of Illinois has teamed up with Disney's imagineering laboratories to create a device, Airreal, that can resonate at specific vibrations and broadcast, project as puffs of air phantom sensations.
I suppose an array could be set up like surround-sound speakers, giving all members of the audience the feeling of being caught in a rainstorm, pelted with snow flakes, over having a bullet wiz by. In closer quarters, the device can toss one a virtual coin, seen through some other means, with the feeling of it landing in one's palm, plus replicating any given tactile sense or texture. That is pretty far-out, and makes me remember the first time that I wore 3-D glasses, which weren't red and blue, was when my family and I visited Epcot Center and saw Michael Jackson in the film Captain EO way back in 1987.
Thursday, 18 July 2013
While international agreements have framed regulations to persecute and burden smallholders and the domestic business entities and financial houses have employed in order to mask their corporate citizenship. Via Boing Boing, here is a very thorough and interactive illustration to show the convoluted network, business apparently not subject to the same kind of scrutiny as the public when it comes to AMT usage or grocery shopping. Maybe a better stress-test (applied to banks operating in the EU exclusively) would be to subject them to a theoretical insolvency and time how long it took to them to make themselves whole, what kind of collateral would take to back up the mortgage against their demur pseudopodia. Such behaviour, faking right and left, is enshrined and even encouraged, not by business culture alone but also by omission on the part of the US government.
institution willing to accommodate the routine banking needs of US expatriates or those accidental Yanks, like the Lord Mayor of London, for example, who perhaps has not sufficiently renounced his dual-citizenship (due to being born in America to diplomatic parents) to the satisfaction of the tax-man and competent authorities to be able to forego the reporting requirements, unrequited as they may be, precious little attention has been paid to the lengths and loopholes that
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
If one does not look at them, do they go away? Certainly the profit-motive and the creation of niche-markets has done much in the name of progress and ease of propagating ideas, even for those panhandlers that collect the crumbs of the advertising industry and including those Great-Souled individuals who expect nothing. What do you think? Targeted ads, when they hit the mark, can be disturbing in their own right, without considering the full dossier that others may have—and considering those tangential commercials that are laughably off-target, one has to wonder what computer-driven assumptions might be conspiring to form one's persona of record.
Monday, 15 July 2013
Sunday, 14 July 2013
Not discouraged by a sprawling but terrible flea-market (I did however resolve to note these particular organisers that have disappointed before and avoid them in the future) I drove a few kilometers further on the path to explore the town of Bad Homburg, a bedroom community and the wealthiest in Germany due to its proximity to the financial centre but away from the hectic pace, just beyond the city limits of Frankfurt am Main.
There was a lot of things to see besides, but I focused my windshield tour first at the Schloss and surrounding park that was chosen late in its long and storied career as a summer residence for Emperor Wilhelm II. This designation at the beginning of the twentieth century afforded the town a lot of acclaim, which grew its spa (Kur) and casino—whose directors went on to manage the casino of Monte Carlo in Monaco.
I enjoyed walking through the park, peopled with classic and modern art sculptures. I especially like the stretched motor-scooter, an East Germany NSU model, that looked like it got too close to a blackhole or neutron star, and the Red Boy by comtemporary artist Kenny Hunter.
Among the imperial influences, the Protestant Church of Christ the Redeemer (Erlöserkirche, the problem-solver) was built in 1901, that is resoundingly Art Nouveau in style and a very distinctive fusion of Celtic symbols and mosaics that are reminiscent of the Near East. I enjoyed exploring this building as well, which reminded me of the lobby of the Empire State Building too—finished in 1908, the positive public reception initiated the Wiesbadner Programme, which saw other churches build in this style.
The Altstadt was comprised of grand avenues and narrow alleyways of half-timbered homes.
A little lost, I regret not having ventured into the spa part of the town, with an equally large public park in the style of English Garden and its own ensemble of stories and historic buildings.
I admit, I was a little turned- off to exploring further by the Kurhaus and Rathaus that resembled shopping centres more than civic institutions, but what lays beyond that one street ist something for H and I to see together for ourselves, next time.
Bloomberg has thoughtful editorial critiquing the calls of one US senator, who urges de-vamping the financial sector by portraying it as the utility company it ought to be, as something dull and dutiful to discourage risky behaviour and swash-buckling.
Saturday, 13 July 2013
It's amazing how the pitch of marketing to embrace the latest versions, like there's no looking back, has this extravagant fervor, choreographed like a Busby Berkeley musical number, something unbridled and detestable as a tactic in the advertising world, in which a single product—much less an awkward operating system, can make someone alive with pleasure and depict someone having more fun and more at ease than is possible. Maybe such a ploy, besides encouraging people to flock to the latest de-bugged edition and not have to operate in troublesome compatibility- or legacy-mode, is enough to dissuade end-users from putting a band-aid, fig-leaf over the cameras on their computers and phones or keeping said phones in the refrigerator or tin-foil wrappers when not being actively used. What do you think? Is that court-stenography in your pocket a little bit disconcerting? Or are such worries still the egotism of conspiracy theorists?
The superb and thought-provoking blog about neuroscience and psychiatry, Mind Hacks, makes an interesting observation on the process to sainthood that John-Paul the Great is currently undergoing:
The last time the majority of federal workers in the US were made to take unpaid leave was back in late 1995 when a divided congress withheld funding for environmental, healthcare and social support programs and refused to raise the US government's statutory debt-ceiling, prompting a shutdown of non-essential services. Though the United States has come close to the same situation several times in between and there was never any true deal reached or pledge that rescued or at least deferred budget crises in between, there is certainly an inharmonious legacy to that and future jousting matches.
It was a repository, much like the Library of Congress, to keep knowledge accessible and transparent, and read and research bills before passage—bridging technocracy and democracy. Such institutions and consumer advocacy, inspired by this office, still exist for the parliaments of Europe and other countries to try to gives politics the means to make informed decisions and there is growing reason, evidenced by some willful ignorance, omissions and support for bad science in specious programmes, with assurances from the sectors vying to secure government contracts, like fracking, infatuations with drones and broad surveillance, scuttling the space shuttle, ineffective porno-scanners, the digital rights management cabal, genetic manipulation, and the like, to reinstate an organisation that worked to make science accessible to the public, championed by private experts and some US politicians.
Thursday, 11 July 2013
I am reminded of the exchange from Casablanca between the the conscientious bureaucrat and the croupier:
Russian intelligence agency seeks out vintage typewriters to stay off the net
United Stasi of America
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Although I still declare that anyone truly shocked by learning that the world is the prying, groping place is a measure naïve or even complacent or complicit, public attention and outrage ought not be placated by life intimato Ars, the words of prophets of doom, or by practicality, commonality—offensive aspirations.
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
There is a little guesthouse, called the Schwendenschanze—the name itself, meaning a Swedish Wall, sort of a catch all folk etymology for defensive barriers and trenches constructed not just by that country's conquest of much of Germany (more in keeping with living memory) but also for much older fortifications built by the Celts and the Romans, like the mysterious Schrazelloch (goblin holes) to be found everywhere—that is set at the summit of the high road through the Rhön mountains.
I always like reaching this place because then I know I am almost home but I have not really paid much attention to the building itself, except for a bit of scowling at the out-of-proportion house number it bears—something oversized, green and white that makes the place look like a truck stop along the Autobahn and by this point, I've had my fill of trucks, as I creep behind them up the steep climb. I just realised, however, that it is not just some plaque but rather the UNESCO stele for the world heritage biosphere site of this region. It occurred to me upon seeing the marker at another site. Now I recall seeing them elsewhere too, although camouflaged. This design is practical, I'm sure, but to call it a stele, a cartouche (the belief that if a name was written somewhere, the owner could never disappear) I was expecting something a bit more classic and for the ages, although it is fitting as the United Nations awards this honour but sometimes also takes it away when not enough is done to preserve it. The English daily, the local, features a nice series of World Heritage Sites all around Germany.