Tuesday, 30 April 2013

full-stop or conjunction-junction what’s your function?

An English professor is soliciting from her students new slang terms and the daily contributions are showing language’s innovation rather than its corruption or languor. They’re mostly pet-words but immediately intelligible and some even gaining currency.

The professor was also introduced to something more novel, perhaps driven by the short-hand of the keyboard (or by languages that have such established moods), of a new type of punctuation—a conjunction in addition to if, and, or, then, not, xor but slash, either spelled out or rendered as a virgule. Interestingly, it was revealed that slash in the traditional sense has become something spelt out, as in “my lover slash best friend.” This new usage does not represent/suggest two inclusive properties, rather can show intention verses outcome: “I was at the library all after researching my thesis slash trolling classmates’ summer vacation photos.” In order words, admitting what one should have been doing versus what was actually accomplished. There are even examples expressing “following on” and “in summary,” which should not be dismissed as a lazy way to organize one’s thoughts, but rather a development to study.

sympathetic resonance or the drink-whisperer

An intrepid roving reporter with The Atlantic magazine, after seeing bar-tenders in a trendy, stylo-milo joint in Vancouver, neither shook, nor stirred nor scuttled their signature martinis but rather tuned them with a tuning-fork of a certain pitch, is now experimenting with the method himself, with various cocktails and applications. Results so far seem inconclusive, but I rather like the idea that a particular harmonic vibration could be the proper and professional way to mix a good drink and really bring out the flavour and subtler notes. What do you think—is it just gimmicky and like water drawn during a full moon or magnetic insoles (which ought not to be dismissed out-of-hand either maybe) or might the right combination be struck?

Monday, 29 April 2013

sjörnustríð: ný von

This past Saturday, Iceland held parliamentary elections, which proved a great disturbance for the establishment, already sorely reduced by the popular backlash to incumbents over their wrecking of the national economy. Observers are calling the rebel scum that roundly stole the vote, minority and independent parties, euroskeptics and threaten to derail further Icelandic integration. Well, the nerve—I suppose we ought not to pay any more attention to them and their shenanigans.
Here is a picture of the mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr Kristinsson—an actor, bassist and comedian besides, casting his ballot. It’s his business of course whom he voted for, but I’ll wager as a free-agent himself and founder of the Best Party (Besti flokkurinn) whose platform promised listening more to women and old people since those groups tend to be marginalised, he’s not in lock-step with the old guard.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

vom bamberg bis zum grabfeldgau

There is a saying that there can be no nation without an anthem (keine Nationen ohne Hymne), and while poet and novelist and Auslander, hailing from Karlsruhe in the Duchy of Hessen and by Rhine, Joseph Viktor von Scheffel intended no overtones of political secessionism or dangerous patriotism when he composed the lyrical anthem of the Franconia region (das Frankenlied). I think it was pure exultation and inspiration that he found while on retreat for the summer in 1859, in the midst of a march-writing craze, as a guest of Cloister Banz and explored Little Switzerland (die fränkische Schweiz), which the people later adopted as a regional symbol. Apparently, school children learn the song, rife with references to Franconia’s cities, landmarks and lore, and there’s even the robust refrain “Valeri, Valera.”
Valer-rah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Much of the matter of the lyrics touch on what von Scheffel could take in from his terrace, the peaks each with their own myths, the remainders of Celts, Mongols, the French and the Americans that also passed through. The words are wonderful and genuine, and who wouldn’t just visiting want to break into song with praise for this area. There is a priceless element of pomp to it too, which I suppose resides in all anthems and similar state-songs, like Rule Britannia! (von Scheffel also composed that summer rhymes about dinosaurs when a scientist who was also in residence showed him his fossil discoveries), which I won’t identify, not wanting (nor willing) to take away from this enduring double-rainbow moment and enduring pride.

wahrzeichnen oder main-kinzig-kreis

Along the Autobahn as I drive back and forth on my weekend commute, there are a lot of those brown and white illustrated signs denoting tourists’ attractions and there’s quite a few I pass regularly that I want H and I to explore together.
 There are few, however, as recursive as the one indicating that at the next exit, one can find the medieval Altstadt of the town of Steinheim by Hanau—seeing the same ensemble of towers and turrets from the road just behind the sign itself. I stopped to for a quick walk around the place with a nice selection of half-timbered buildings. The castle and tower were built towards the end of the 1300s by the Lords of Eppstein to oversee trade and importantly taxation of traffic along the river Main where it joins the river Kinzig.
Later used as a residence by the Archbishop of Mainz when travelling through the region and as a head-quarters of the occupying Swedish army during the Thirty Years War. Steinheim is also the gateway of the renown Hessen Apple-Wine Route (hessischen Apfelweinstraβe)—which I have yet to sample.

tomate or catsup/ketchup

Friends at my forgotten favourite, the Laughing Squid, showcases a very interesting trend in hair-styles (Friseur) from Osaka. This whole website features an off-beat cavalcade of neat finds worthy of exploration, besides, in culture and the arts. I do wonder, however, if this particular hair-do shows some vintage roots, inspired by this Crosse & Blackwell’s advertisement for tomato sauce.

core values or everything counts in large amounts

There was an interesting pairing of news items this week under the category of very hot and extremely dense. Geophysics researchers concluded that the temperatures at the centre of the Earth are greater than those on the surface of the sun, and subjecting samples of iron to this higher threshold, learned more about how the internal churnings of liquid and crystal iron might regulate the Earth’s magnetic field. Previously scientists had discovered a curious property of these extreme conditions down in the underground, where molten iron took on new characteristics, insulating or conducting electro-magnetism, but without also undergoing the expected structural changes—think the phenomenon of super-conductivity attained when some materials are super-cooled but without being obliged to rearrange their configuration.
With more accurate soundings, we have a better understanding of the transition zones that may hide within uniformity as we burrow deeper to an inner realm that is re-frozen somehow.
The other milestone comes from an enormous international effort, that had its origins in the glasnost of the mid-eighties, when the Soviet Union offered to share its secret technology called the tokamak—think containment field, a magnet to suspend the plasma components of the fusion reaction since no physical substance could handle such heat—and proposed international cooperation on a project to find peaceful uses for nuclear fusion. Decades later, with construction plans finalised in 2007, the programme ITER, Latin for “the way forward” but a backronym of the original French designation for the facility that had the dreaded “thermo-nucléaire” as part of its name, the research is moving at a good clip with the fist plasma injections to take place in six years or so. Allowing the plasma to be heated basically without an upward limit will eventually coax over-excited atoms into fusing, producing a surplus of energy to capture in the process. The fuel in the case of fusion, proven feasible by many university reactors throughout the world (there’s even one in Greifswald on the Baltic Sea and a veritable Fusion Valley in the area in south France that hosts the ITER labs—who knew?  Maybe in the not too distant future, if this demonstration project is successful, generators will be miniaturised for domestic-use, like Mister Fusion from Back to the Future II), is hydrogen with the by-product helium, but could happen with any element up to the iron, making up the nucleus of our planet and revealing unexpected lines of force. I wonder when the studies will coincide.

Saturday, 27 April 2013


From Der Spiegel’s International Desk comes a report about how run-away melting of glaciers is transforming the alpine landscape of Switzerland with catchments of hundreds of new bodies of that come into being as marauding lakes—not something creeping at a glacial pace. It’s rather difficult to deny the sudden appearance of a quite large pond where there was not one before but the region is negotiating the change, beyond trying to just cope to the threats of flooding (having already bored emergency drains in a land noted for its geological infrastructure), whose lakes are proving very popular with vacationers and can be harnessed as sources of hydro-electric power. I imagine, however, that it is little comfort to see enduring and iconic inundated and feel helpless to do much about it.

Friday, 26 April 2013

dye-pot or diy

There is a forgotten but well- documented art and craft to producing colours naturally, from plants and minerals, practised and perfected from time- immemorial. It may be something taken for granted with all the industrial hacks and short-cuts we’ve achieved in just this last century with synthetic materials and chemical colours. A German entrepreneur, botanist and chemist, by the name of Hermann Fischer, founded a small company, a niche interest but growing, to explore this dismissed method, realising that supported by one chemical backbone—namely petroleum, the way were accustomed to decorating our living spaces will soon become unsustainable as well.
Not only do the factories damage the ecology, it stands to reason that the output is not such a healthful thing to immerse ourselves in, coating the walls and every surface. Material science will need to revert but not in an atavistic way. With natural bases like beeswax or vegetable oils and dyes derived from plants, Fischer’s laboratories are conducting research and experimentation to bring non-petroleum paints and finishes more on par with the industry-standard. They are doing a brisk business as well, with a line of alternative, natural paints, available in larger hardware stores and boutique shops at comparable prices, which count as some of their strongest, closeted patrons employees of the chemical concerns who know what goes into their products.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


Supermarkets are from a design perspective, which belies a lot of marketing and psychological cues and pandering that goes unseen, are a veritable vision quest of encouragement and reinforcement. Having some the tricks of the trade revealed and realizing that there is little departure from the established layout—although I am one to generally be overwhelmed and bewildered by an over-abundant selection—makes me think of those theories that ethnologists sometimes apply to mysterious ruins, suggesting that worn trails and monolithic configurations were ritual paths to entitlement and re-birth. That’s quite possible but we can’t access the intentions of the ancients, and it’s strange that we know grocers big and small have planned their sites not as a larder or granary but as sort of cake-walk, an anti-obstacle-course.

The tactics are not limited to the obvious ploy of putting top-shelf items at eye level, with the less profitable products require stooping, and impulse buys at the checkout, but even the industry-standard, modern shopping buggy has evolved over the years, precise and finely balanced so shoppers don’t feel added resistance as they fill their cart and the wagons are dipped slightly (not so the carts can be stacked) but rather so groceries will roll to the front and spark the acquisitive instinct, into over-drive. Entryways are regaled with fresh produce, not for ease of daily deliveries since most loading bays are in the back, but in order to rather lull shoppers into the mood for scavenging—lasting even into the depths of the freezer-section. Butcheries and fromageries framing their prepackaged and processed counterparts are not there to generate money but rather add ease for the array of less-labour intensive articles the demonstration booths surround. Finally, when next at the supermarket, take note of the times you bear left—that’s an intentional comfort too, intended to placate our self-defense mechanisms in an environment of albeit subdued and civilised safaris: most people better able to snatch and grab or attack from their rights, having to glance to the left might become a shopping distraction. These methods are not necessarily dirty tricks nor are they irresistibly effective, but immunity to the gimmicks is something only slowly acquired.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

secessionist or moderne

Often when walking into to town, I pass by the stately shadows thrown by the Lutherkirche of Wiesbaden, but I had not seen the inside until the other day. Other times that I thought about visiting, there seemed to be a gaggle of people there or choir practice and I didn’t want to disturb.

Last time I walked by, a friendly and informative church lady caught me snooping around and poking my head in. She insisted that I have a proper look around. I was not expecting the gorgeous Jugendstil pastiche of the enormous nave that can accommodate twelve-hundred guests. The church-lady treated me to a tour, and in the sunny afternoon, she showed me different perspectives of structure from the upper balcony, tower and equally art nouveau font and chapel. Construction and design began in 1908 as part of the so-called Wiesbadener Programme, an initiative to build protestant churches in the area—which produced several gems.
I suppose that these were the mega-churches of the day, with nothing derogatory intended, but also provided parishioners with a unique entertainment experience. In addition to the tradition of the Bach choir I overheard practicing, there are two celebrated and dueling organs, one at the front and one at the back, to produce a wall of sound. I’ll have to snoop around the other three architectural ensembles of the programme’s commissions.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

pyrrhic victory or the hundred years’ war

Though characterized and distilled mostly as the proprietary authority for businesses to demand applicants, supplicants and current employees surrender their social-network profile upon request, which while good for garnering glancing concern and attentions, is sadly short-lived and is not engaging public dialogue in CISPA is again positioned for passage in the US Congress, despite conflating opposition. 
Just as there are champions for keeping us over-safe, we have our tireless advocates, but the issue and the real, long-term stakes remain something that is easily placated or dismissed.
eroding privacy. Victorious skirmishes, sometimes ceded over inflated (at least, in the here-and-now) fears, overshadow—by design, I think, the larger struggle, since these assaults are becoming perennial continuing-resolutions politically.

Monday, 22 April 2013

solidarity or putting words into your mouth

Amid the backdrops of a book launch and the notable scope of the tax-avoidance affair of one of the major charm-offense. Cooperation tends to rule the days of crisis, but quickly becomes unraveled once a fix, however temporary, and parties repair to former, incompatible ways. Stimmt. But does this frank posture really suggest its sinister antithesis? Surrendering sovereignty and enslavement through predatory-lending are glosses neither said nor implied but that seems to be the take-away. What do you think? Are politics beholden to the past and the suspicion of double-speak exclusively or is there cause to default to what’s honest and bona-fided?
soccer league presidents (not to mention the entire thrust of re-election), Germany’s chancellor is presenting a rather stilted and baiting

Sunday, 21 April 2013

taxi-dancing or stank

Maybe this is not such a novel idea elsewhere, but Germany hosted its first Pheromone Party over this weekend.

 It’s curious how the husbandry and hopefulness of match-making, inured for quite some time to the facility of the internet, is returning to the scientific promise that number-crunching seemed to offer. The arena, I’m sure, is still governed by similar computations, like the nurseries of role-playing and the community, the up-keep of adventure-games, but the approach is taking on certain airs. Optimistic participants (mostly young males) slept in the same tee-shirts over several nights, then froze it in an especially designed freezer bags for later presentation. A few, featured potential pairs were pleased when their assessment of their mates’ scent correlated with their looks and personalities. I wonder what credence a certain smell that becomes familiar over time lends to longevity when put before the horse.

cultivar or arctic blast

The latest tipping of the apple-cart is coming in the form, with already untold reach, of a genetic masterwork in the form of an apple that does not brown when bitten into or sliced up, and incorporating the hardiest traits of all natural apple varieties, can fall quite far from the tree, suited to grow in any climate from the orchards of New England to California to the Russian Far-East.

Fast-food chains, school cafeteria and workplace canteens, not to mention grocery store aisles without much in the way of mandatory disclosure or labeling-requirements, have eagerly adopted these shiny, perfect fruits with an extended shelf-life, constituted in such a way as to avoid independent testing and vetting for safety. The apple’s base genetic material is not altered, its DNA, but rather messenger RNA, the component cleaved from DNA that communicates to the powerhouses of cells what proteins to produce and when, has been modified to turn off the browning function, which I suppose is like clotting to fruit. It sounds rather dangerous to switch something like that off. Arctic is the registered name for the engineered produce, I suppose because it stays white. I wonder what they’ll call the run-away “the royal disease.”

Saturday, 20 April 2013


Sadly, the artwork adorning the formerly longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, at a location known as the East-Side Gallery is being dismantled and relocated to make room for luxury apartments along the Spree, despite massive protests and celebrity support. Seeing an exhibit posted to Atlas Obscura about the mysterious Minoan artefact, discovered in 1908, known as the Phaistos Disc, I saw some resemblance to this graffiti in Berlin. I wonder if the disc was the inspiration. Although its provenance is debated, some archeologists think that the disc of raised hieroglyphs may be an ancient press for making moveable type. Some statements are not, I think, meant to be moved.

# baker-zebra

Chess and its associated stratagems has pretty interesting etymological, if not instantly recognizable rather shallow and bursting through languages’ foundations, roots. The game, as it is known in English, comes from the French term eschequier, after the Latin name for a the table of a counting-house that bore a signature checked pattern, whose contrast may it easier not to miss a coin strayed from the pile.

Such parquet is reduplicated in the gracious marble lobbies of financial institutions and in officers of the Exchequer. A checkmate, of course, refers to a move that keeps the opponent’s king in check, helpless and few alternatives, and the German name of the game and term, Schach and Schachmatt, reveal more about the Persian origins—sheik, shah and such—for ruler or king paired with an even older association than matched or müde (tired, a Yiddish derived folk-etymology but not something without meaning) for the second part, maat, meaning bedded or retiring. For players physically separated from one another, the pound-sign became telegraph notation for a checkmate situation whose shorthand was an important precursor for code later developed, the hash-marks of programming language. Baker-Zebra, or rather Bravo-Zulu in modern parlance, is an old naval semaphore designation, arbitrary, but filed under B housekeeping and the last register to signify a job well-done.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

poor-mouthing and paradigm-shift

The rather myopic policies adopted and expressed in various ways throughout the European Union threaten to reintroduce much longer-lasting consequences from internal and external pressures across the economic landscape. Once lauded as the most ambitious and effective ways to curb climate change and promote good stewardship for the environment, the cap-and-trade scheme and carbon-emission is failing and a united-front is reverting to nationalistic policies.

Allowances for polluting have become affordable to the point of investing in further innovation no longer makes good business-sense. Much of the decline is due, of course, to a slow-down in demand and production and the relationship is not without reciprocation but in the longer term, such splintering and attitudes represent a very big set-back in terms of solidarity. What do you think? Is reform something negotiable in the face of immediate perceptions—or is it something to sacrifice, to recalibrate? Environmental policy should not be driven solely by the dictates of the markets, but consumers also have a choice to make.

stirring the cauldron or strongly-worded letter

The a reporter on the International Desk of Der Spiegel spied a curiously counter-productive example of outreach on the public website of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Demonstrating the work that the FBI’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit does, the website depicts an image of hieroglyphs that make up a simple substitution cipher, which when cracked, gives instructions for preparing the toxin ricin—a protein of the castor bean (Rizinussamen, the German word does not hide its source very well either), which can be decoded without much bother. The example image is even captioned “Enciphered instructions for making ricin poison found in the notebook of a lone bomber in Virginia.” The methodology set forth is apparently basic but complete and an interested party could produce, with some easy kitchen-witchery, a deadly concoction.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

smart suzy-sunset and i are on the case

Demonstrating that hindsight is sometimes the sharpest lens, the Washington Post has a curious article about an Iranian factory with strangely potemkin qualities in a town called Dinslaken in the Ruhrgebiet, an industrial area near Essen.

Although the quiet day-to-day operations may have been completely innocent and above-board (as Iran says of its nuclear ambitions, perhaps unfairly sullen), since being month-balled just late last month, the closing inventory and performance record has again caught the notice of inspectors and authorities, believing that the factory may have been a front for developing the nuclear programme of their home-country. Iran has been quite forthcoming with concessions and transparency, it seems and more so than is expected of other members of the nuclear club—to whatever purpose. Everyone is entitled to whatever threshold of scepticism that suits them but a coalition of preconceptions do not establish nefarious behaviour nor the strictures of imagination that may have contributed to past oversights—sins of omission. What do you think? Is the suspicion justified or should every do-nothing Döner stand or under-patronized enterprise stand be subject to the same kind of scrutiny?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

real and present oder perspektiv

One major news service, incidental to the reporting on the Boston Marathon finish-line bomb attacks, raised an interesting, if not back-handed, sociological question by entertaining one report’s questions concerning the whether the event and terrible carnage were staged as a false-flag operation.

Conspiracy theories pander to the lower denominator, in accordance with the theme of the article and citing terrible school-shootings that seem to proceed at their own accord and without the prompting of policy and agendas, and as historical precedent, the sabotage of the Reichstag in Berlin during Nazi times—overlooking Hawaii or the Gulf of Tonkin Invasion that were too close for comfort. What do you think—are such suggestions (since they’re begging the answer) out-of-line and too raw for the present or does a sort of fearful patriotism and solidarity dismiss questioning?

honey-comb hideout continued or pesticides versus pollinators

Correspondence leaked to Corporate Europe Observatory suggests the furious extent of the lobbying campaign on the part of at least two major chemical and pharmacological concerns against a proposed ban of substances that may be responsible for the widespread decline in the bee population.

Although might be several other likely culprits behind colony-collapse, from parasites, cellular masts to genetically modified crops, and the verdict is not final, British and French field research seems very conclusive that even trace amounts of the pervasive pesticide have devastating effects on beneficial insects. There is currently a moratorium on such treated crops, introduced ab ovo, as seeds, and lingering in the mature plant with the same deleterious effects. The leaked litany of contraindications from the business-sector try at various angles, blaming the farmers for overdosing, badly skewed studies that insist agriculture cannot survive otherwise, and even that the EU is being held ransom by a lobby of hobby apiarists hell-bent on protecting their past-time. Industry pressure may convince European Union member states to rescind the ban and ignore stern warnings and grave consequences.

p.s.a. or ribbon-awareness month

America has a penchant for proclamations and especially tends to cram a lot of education and spangled reflection into those months without federal holidays not already identified with some other cultural or health moment and movement. April is over-burdened as it is, what with the distinctions of being national Domestic Abuse-, Child Welfare-, Alcohol Addiction-, and Stress-Awareness month and all tied together as Autism Awareness Month. That’s already quite a spectrum, and added to it, per a presidential executive order, April is also Distracted-Driving Awareness Month. How is one exactly supposed to honour and be mindful of distractions? What other random virtues and vices would you include in this cavalcade?

Monday, 15 April 2013

broadside, broadsheet

While diplomatic niceties, the biting of tongues continue mostly unabated, and the esteem is unfortunately mutual, relations between Germany and Russia have grown increasingly frosty (EN/DE), as reported by Der Spiegel. The introspection is worth visiting, for more than the nonce, because the tenor is distinct from the usual protests and criticisms that the balance of Europe holds for the Teutonic nation and is unlike the dangerously divorced indifference that those governments geographically further away (although I suppose that America is geographically closer) have adopted. It’s these postures and acts that typify expectations and strain relations.
Germany has expressed, reservedly, on several occasions displeasure with Russia’s political and social standings, while trying to preserve whatever civilities are possible under such strain. What do you think? What currency do old prejudice and distrust carry and what sort of relevance is exercised through elevated and formalized disbelief? I do not think the whole matter is solely locked-up in the personalities of leadership and by-gone proclivities treated like broader stereotypes, but such considerations are hardly irrelevant.  Is it the same sort of secure distain that comforts the further West for the near-east?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

durch die kurzen hessen und durch die langen hessen

For my weekend commutes, I had found a convenient place to stop midway between home and work to tank-up, which also usually boasts a bonus flea-market on Sunday afternoons.

I took the opportunity to linger a while in the towns, separated by the river Kinzig, of Bad Soden-Salmünster and walk around the historic districts. The towns are located on the Via Regia, a protected road that during medieval times extended from Paris to Krakow, with the high road, the trade route of the Holy Roman Empire, stretching from Frankfurt am Main to Leipzig.
Each town, in exchange for policing their section for the sake of public safety and deterring highway men, was able to exact a toll on travelers, and I thought the way that the churches and the venerable homes that framed the narrow thoroughfare could excite imaginings of ancient merchants making their ways from one extreme of Europe to another. Inspecting the secular buildings, which were all sided with these distinctive and meticulous wooden shingles, I also learned that the armies tended to beat the path of least resistance along these roads too—as the Autobahnen and national highways tend to mirror them as well.
A defeated Napoleon and some of his entourage encamped at a hostel on the main street, I learned, in flight from Leipzig in 1813. It was ironic, I thought, that the armies marched through this same spot once on the way to battle as part of the domain of the bishopric of Fulda, and even though not victorious effected major reorganization and break-up of ancient holdings, retreated (while it was at Waterloo where Napoleon did surrender) through the same spot as what was soon to become part of the Grand Duchy of Hessen and by Rhein.  I am never eager to go back to work but there is a lot of interesting things to discover and learn along the way.

who moved my cheese?

Doubtless the governments of Cyprus, Portugal and Spain will accept the extra funds and for the latter the extended repayment periods offered coming out of the summit in Dublin, but in a rare moment of clarity—though mostly ignored I think as disingenuous, there was a lament by the recipients that more money is not what the beneficiaries need in this crisis. It is possible to throw good money after bad, but no one is going to turn down generosities, even when they might lead to greater sorrows later. The plaintive alternative requested was instead for more administrative flexibilities in managing the assets they have, reforming leadership, regulation and enforcement with but not around those initial life-lines before being presented with overtures of more—with new terms and conditions.
This preposterous suggestion, dismissed, made me think of this scholarly interview from Der Spiegel’s International desk examining the rise of anti-German sentiment across Europe over the euro and re-packaged austerity. It is a difficult and probing question, but I think, from these latest rounds of renegotiation, the public protests are a reflection in part at least of frustration that little flexibility—the structural might that Germany appears to have and seems to influence the body politic, that’s not accorded to the people equitably. Unfortunately, more credit does not equal a measure of determined reform, despite similarly deferred wishes for greater alignment.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

first instance or operation hummingbird

There is an embarrassment of expert and thorough articles on every subject to be found in the annals and Neulichkeit of Wikipedia, so much sometimes the depth is taken for granted, even if it is repaired to a source of first- and last-resort. 

My mother referred me to such an in depth article about the decisive, inter-bellum episode of the horrific coordinated wave of political assassinations, the Night of the Long Knives, that cemented Nazi control in Germany. Also called Operation Hummingbird after its code-word to commence the awful retaliation, I had seen piece-meal the counter-coup, the silencing through documentaries but had not read a full account with all its nuances. It struck me as especially relevant, with opposition and outrage hardly cresting above unshared rumour or outright support, considering the organized network, recently uncovered, of Neo-Nazi prisoners to communicate with one another and figureheads currently on trial. Missives are hidden in otherwise mundane letters in microscopic printing and cryptograms and can turn jails into incubators for extremists.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

tanks for the memories

I am usually not a follower of such reporting, but in this present environment of transitions and retreat, the milestone of the last couple dozen or so Abrams battle tanks, after 69 years, are en route back to America seems important. As the Cold War sublimated into bigger tensions, some six thousand were stationed in Germany alone. Repatriating the last few combat vehicles does represent a significant change in posture. I wonder if the removal of these relics, bulwarks is a political signal, overdue, or a change in strategy to reflect newer tactics and a technological high-ground that’s a pretty smug assumption. Such fleets should not stay front and forward and this is not the last hallmark of partnership and outreach, but neither should all customs of cooperation be seen pared back.

Monday, 8 April 2013

hertzian photography

BLDGBLOG shares and expands on an interesting proposal by the London Economist that suggests that the extant array of antennae and satellite dishes and other shadow-casting receivers and transmitters could be used as a passive, supplemental radar to track aircraft and light up the run-way.
Such auroral imaging is like earlier snap-shots focused by WiFi signals or radio-telescopes, augmenting and translating what is visible to the human-eye. The discussion makes me think of another development, which although less of a technical challenge for the pilots, is nonetheless representative of a bigger technical divide: a number of systems, on a common platform, are coming into place to alleviate a very democratic and local problem, that of finding a parking-space. Some very creative and clever solutions are on offer, but I am wary over another common and unaccommodating layer of haves and have-nots, not redressed by leveraging the conditions that created it.

by hades’ handbag

Of all the gifts—pandora—of the gods of mythology, all the humanizing deifications, it strikes me as strange that the only “professional” endowment that has not be stricken from common-parlance is a plutocrat—though, unlike for the aristocracy, probably not a badge proudly proclaimed.

Prometheus who gave mankind the gift of foresight and the patron of the healing arts Asclepius were basically condemned with extreme prejudice for elevating mortals and challenging supremacy and only their names remain as cautionary tales, however, the acquisitiveness of Pluto, or earlier Hades, remains. The connotation is not an infernal one, necessarily, and is connected with buried mineral wealth. The association developed over the centuries, tending towards greed and inequity, combining the god of the Underworld with the attributes of a minor demi-god, son of the Demeter (Ceres) the goddess of the harvest and more broadly cycles of creation and destruction and Iasion (wiled and then also destroyed with extreme prejudice), called Plutus, whose name carries all the root-meanings. His mother saw to it that Plutus was amazingly wealthy but that left no riches for his twin brother, another figure that seems to not have a contemporary cult-following, Philomelus. Without an inheritance, the brother turned to industry and invented the plough, out of necessity. Very impressed, Demeter made him into a constellation, Boötes, the Plowman and a celestial cue for tilling the fields. I think that there are some more admirable qualities to incorporate into our vocabularies.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

moog or ham-and-eggs, hammond organs

The other day, I ventured to a flea-market advertized beyond the former border dividing East and West Germany, which turned out to be more like a party held at a abandoned aircraft hangar crammed full of personal Ostalogie, random items from DDR times.
It was neat to wonder around aisles of piles, but after hearing a radio retrospective of East Germany’s part not only in electronic music, like Kraftwerk who were early-adopters, but in electronic instruments, as well, I wish I had been paying more attention. It turns out that the electronic keyboard, the organ with the basso-nova beat, had its origins (building on some earlier, native discoveries) in the factories of the VEB Klingenthaler Harmonikawerke, by Plauen, in 1972 as the VERMONA, the ET-6. Of course, these factories made other iconic and traditional instruments, like Weltmeister accordions, juke-boxes, and pianos, but the VERMONA and later incarnations really spiked a revolution in sound and how music was made. I am sure there was such an innovative electric organ warehoused there, and although I don’t believe we have the immediate talent to contribute to the retro-legacy musically, I would like to be able to tickle the ivories that oversaw so much change.

happy camper

Preparing for vacation season, H was looking where we might take the Silver Lady this summer.

We’ve traveled through the Mecklenburg Lake District (Die Mecklen- burgische Seenplatten) with the Lady I. on our way to the Baltic, but H discovered a clever and fun-looking experience on offer for that holiday region, putting one’s camper on a barge and navigating through this land of a thousand lakes. I suppose the waterways where such a private ferry service would be possible are restricted, for the sake of not clogging them with vacationers, but it certainly seems like an idea that could grow and expand crowded camp grounds. We are looking seriously, however, about investing in a collapsible canoe to explore narrower straits on our own.

hari kuyo or last honours

Via the emporium of curiosities, Oddity Central, I learnt that the Japanese reserve the last day of the Lunar New Year’s celebration with a sweetly touching ceremony that’s a final tattoo for lives of long and dedicated service for pins and other such small and disposable things.

Broken and dulled pins and thrust for a final time into a block of tofu or jelly and them buried with honours—pens, staples. This ritual, in place in one form or another for at least four centuries, is an expression of gratitude for utility, perhaps the idea that all things have or can at least earn a soul, and reflects the Japanese virtue of mottainai, not being wasteful with small things, but attendance is waning some, as many young people have no connection with traditional clothes-making. I have a very soft spot for stuff like this, and won’t relinquish something broken, busted or blighted without a fight and then a silent memorial. Perhaps that’s why I get flea market fever and even a disappointing sale is not really disappointing. The spirit of the ceremony, however, is a universal one, with kimono makers whispering secrets and sorrows to their needles that they could not share with anyone else, and laying their confidants to rest was a cathartic act.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

smarch und mapril

I like how the trappings of Easter, unlike with other holidays, are compelled to be taken down and stowed away for next year—or replaced by the commercial creep and anticipation of the next batch of observances around the corner, right away. I guess that’s partially owing to the fact that the customs associated with Easter, partially, are a mixed-metaphor, with all notions of promise, renewal and rebirth celebrated and borrowing from one another, and something to be savoured.

Although the coming season it heralds is having a little bit of difficulty with its launch. Nature is nonplussed with the delay, with migration and germination hitting obstacles, and I think people, considering what a tumultuous past month we’ve had—whereas March is generally sanguine: the cold-wave and drought-conditions maybe exacerbating the ongoing recession, the sequestration stand-off in the States, the banking crisis in Cyprus, adulterated meat on the store-shelves, sabre-rattling all around, massive hack-attacks, litigiousness, yet a few good things came about despite all the chaos. I think that’s why the Eierschau remains until Spring and Summer are fully established.

Most decorations are such eggs hanging from willow switches or displayed on a village well, but I also appreciated this last interpretation, which seems a custom in itself, exchanging the Christmas lights for plastic edges on these sculpted hedges. It feels like a weird, inverted interlude, barreling towards Winter rather than Summer. I hope keeping these charms on exhibit do us a better turn.

Friday, 5 April 2013

diorama or microcosmos

Bremen Public Radio features a collection of photographs from local artist Nikolai Keller posing tee-tiny people in the greatly magnified details of everyday surroundings. The article (the link does not seem to work) includes a video segment documenting his technique and patience with these model train scale figures and a link to the gallery of the artist.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

predator or hyper-color

British fashions designer Adam Harvey, not to put too fine a point on it, has released a line of over garments to make the statement that the rigours of surveillance is not entirely unavoidable, even through one’s wardrobe. Although I knew otherwise, I thought that drones were mostly extended video games with remote, disconnected but human operators, maybe relying on facial-recognition but not thermal ranging, which these stylized battle-garbs intend to deflect. These hoodies are certainly rough-and-ready armour, meant to be expressive and perhaps intimidating, but maybe one could cobble the same stealth affect with those gold rescue blankets included in standard automobile first aid kits (save those and do not toss them out when your kit expires). What tin-foil pith helmets would you devise for protecting your safety and anonymity?