The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

August 2003 Archive

August 01, 2003

Oh, And There's Just One More Thing — Steven Frank has an Apple Developer Nightmare that involves Steve Jobs and breakfast cereal.

N'y a-t-il personne à l'ONU qui veut prendre ma place? — new cartoon by Willem from Libération.

Skydiver in record Channel flight. — Austrians will do pretty stupid things to get into international news.

US pays informant $30 million. — So Uday and Qusay are worth what it would cost to completely rebuild the stacks and reader areas of Vienna University Library.

Posted by Horst at 07:55 AM | Comments (1)

I truly hate it when I see one of those signs that says "New! Improved!". It's true: every time I see it on some packaging, I flinch, and, if I don't absolutely have to, I will refrain from buying the product that has supposedly been renewed and/or improved. Because, and you can take my word for this, while it may be true that the product has been changed in some way, it rarely ever has been changed for the better.

I must have opened countless cans of Heinz canned "cream of tomato soup" on my numerous camping/hiking holidays in Scotland in the mid-to-late 1980s. It didn't taste too great, and it particularly didn't taste much of tomatoes, but I kind of liked it (or perhaps grew to like it out of sheer necessity, who knows).

Then, one year, I found the words "improved recipe" on the can. It was the first time I remember feeling a certain uneasiness upon reading these words, possibly an instinctive antiocipation of what was to come. Yes, the soup didn't really warrant the label "tomato", but otherwise, in its sheer artificial perversity, it was perfect. As far as I was concerned, it just couldn't be improved.

It didn't look much different when I opened it, but upon eating it, I found that it tasted truly awful: not only did it still taste unlike anything even remotely related to tomatoes, it also lacked the familiar artificial taste, which they had chosen to replace with a differently artificial flavour. It was the last can of Heinz tomato soup that I ever ate.

I'm not sure what those companies do exactly when they introduce new things to the market. They must be doing some kind of customer research, but still manage to let things go totally awry again and again.

The worst such case that I can remember concerns Twinni, a very popular kind of ice popsicle in Austria. It's been around as long as I know, i.e. at least 30 years, and everybody loves it. Kids love it. Adults who grew up with it in the 1970s love it. As you can see on the picture, it has two parts, which are supposed to be shared by two children: one is orange and orange-flavoured, the other is green and supposed to taste of pears (but the taste is really quite artificial).

Now everybody in Austria will invariably tell you how as children they always used to share a Twinni, and the big debate was always who gets the green half, because everybody loves the green part. Never mind the artificial pear taste, I know of no-one who would voluntarily give up the green half for their brother or sister.

A few years ago, they launched a "new, improved" Twinni. The improvement consisted in replacing the artificial pear taste with a slightly less artificial apple taste. Everybody went WHAT?!? that year, and sales must have plummeted and complaints risen to astronomical levels, because six months later the familiar pear taste was back.

Let's face it: in 9 out of 10 cases, the "New! Improved!" label is being put on a product even though the manufacturer knows that the product hasn't really been improved, but actually become inferior. The change in taste or functionality is really the result of some rationalisation process in manufacturing that lets the manufacturer save money. The sign is only there to trick the customers into believing that the product has become better, not worse. It's all an elaborate scam. Believe me. I know what I'm talking about.

Posted by Horst at 08:10 AM | Comments (9)

August 02, 2003

"Le capitalisme porte en lui la guerre comme la nuée porte l'orage." — 89 years ago yesterday, Jean Jaurès was murdered by a fanatic nationalist because he was trying to avert World War I.

In an ideal world, humanity wouldn't existl'Humanité, the newspaper founded by Jaurès, offers its compelling new poster ads for download as desktop pictures for your PC. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

UK MPs say attack on Iraq may have impeded war on terror — And I thought it was supposed to help the war on terror.

Thieves steal 7,000 onions — somebody must be cooking a lot of stifado or goulash [→ new on The Aardvark Cooks].

How to improve comment visibility in MT — must take a note of this for my own perusal. [via]

Säurefraß in Berlin — article in Die Welt on how acid is eating away an estimated 60 million books in Germany. [via netbib weblog]

Making Over Mona — see what some collagen, botox, and surgery would do for Da Vinci's famous smiling lady. [via Greengrl]

Posted by Horst at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

In a staff meeting held today, librarians at Vienna University Library unanimously decided to prepare a mission to the Middle East. A special task force of three or four librarians will be sent to Iraq, and they will do their utmost to use their professional research skills in order to find Saddam Hussein. No agreement was reached in the meeting whether they should merely find out where the former Iraqi dictator is hiding and pass on the information to the US military administration, or whether they should actively try to capture, or kill, Saddam.

The decision was reached today after it became known that the US administration will pay $30 million to the informer who provided them with the information concerning the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay.

The library's decision was reached despite the fact that the mission may be extremely dangerous and put the lives of the librarians at risk. However, task force co-ordinator Haldur Gislufsson, who was specially hired for organising this extremely difficult mission, explained that the library really had no choice:

"We expect the US administration is going to pay another $30 million, if not more, if Saddam Hussein is caught, as they are badly in need of some success, seeing how badly the whole Iraq thing is developing. After the Austrian government axed the funds for new stacks and a new reader area for the library last year, this is the library's only chance to get the money for this urgently needed project."

Vienna University Library is the largest Austrian library, housing 5.8 million books in 60 different locations. The main library, home of 2.5 million books, was last upgraded in the 1960s. There is only space for one year's acquisitions left, and the user areas are in an abysmal state.

"For decades nothing has been done because everybody was hoping for the extension, which had been promised since the 1970s. Now there's no space for new books left, and the reader area is totally inadequate for our ever-increasing readership," says one librarian who wishes to remain anonymous.

"We've even been told to throw old books away," says another, "but we're librarians, and we're genetically incapable of throwing books away. We need the extension, and the $30 million bounty would just about finance it."

Task force co-ordinator Gislufsson hopes the team will be equipped and on their way to Iraq in about ten days. However, he expects that they will not be the only ones on this mission:

"We believe that we will encounter other groups like ourselves there," says Gislufsson. "Frankly, with all the budget cuts taking place in education, welfare, and social services worldwide, I expect there'll be fierce competition from other teams also in search of Saddam. I know of several universities and hospitals that are preparing their own teams, and I have already been approached by five kindergartens asking me to assist them in their preparations. Everybody in these sectors is really desperate for money."

Gislufsson believes that the team from VU library could be successful:

"We have some excellent research specialists on the team. These men and women are information specialists who can find the exact location of every needle in every haystack worldwide. Finding Saddam Hussein is certainly a challenge, but unless they have to compete with even better-trained librarians, I'm positive they'll track him down. Who should be better suited for this mission if not librarians?"

Posted by Horst at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)

August 03, 2003

Hackers turn to Google to find weakest links — Hackers don't even have to visit a site to get information how to get in. All they have to do is check Google's cached pages. [via Gavin's Blog]

You can't beat the system, so just join it — stories like this make me wonder how long it'll take until our healthcare system is as f*cked up as in the US. [via PapaScott]

Where Are the Good Jobs Going? — why, to countries where labour is cheap, of course. Wasn't capitalism always like this? [via SK Bubba]

US army admits Iraq suicides — seems there are enough suicides among the 53 US military non-combat deaths in Iraq since May 1 to get worried. [via Heli]

How scandals get neutralized — Cory Doctorow has some food for thought on the New Censorship.

Posted by Horst at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

I am happy to report that from now on I am able offer you those "on this blog one year ago" entries which are so popular among writers and readers alike, as for writers they easily fill those days when they have absolutely no idea what to write about, whereas for readers it appeals to their sense of nostalgia, and emotion is always good for the ratings.

And I am now able to offer this kind of most valuable contribution to blogging because it was exactly one year ago that I first fired up my blogging software, wrote an entry and posted it to a site that I had christened "The Aardvark Speaks".

Yes folks, this day marks the first anniversary of this very very 'umble blog.

As it happens, the first two entries back then were a bit lame (mostly about importing text files into the new software) and not really worth reminiscing about, but entry number four (I have no idea what happened to number three, perhaps I deleted it) was one of the few truly great moments of this blog. I re-read it recently and found that I still like it.

It was called Pigeons Are Punishment. Remember? If not: Go and have a read.

Posted by Horst at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

Dorothea, like many others before her, has removed the blogroll from her blog home page (the blogroll, in case you don't know, is a list of other weblogs that you read regularly and usually place on your own blog's front page).

In Dorothea's case, it seems to have been the result of a misunderstanding of sorts, which itself was based on a misunderstanding of what blogrolls are about, which again is based on a large discrepancy between the theory and practice of blogrolls.

In theory, blogrolls are there to allow you quick access to the blogs you read regularly. As such, they represent the blogs that you find interesting and that you'd want others (like casual visitors) to read as well. In theory, if I place or remove someone onto or from my blogroll, it doesn't say anything about whether I'm that person's friend or not.

In practice, that is not always the case, especially if you are friends with someone who has a blog. do you have to put them on your blogroll? I'd say no. Basically, it's perfectly alright to be someone's friend without reading or recommending their blog.

It's even trickier if they're already on your blogroll and for some reason you want to remove them. Removing them implies two things: (1) that you no longer read them, (2) that you are angry at them or no longer their friend.

While (1) is likely, but not necessarily true, (2) is not, or rather shouldn't be, true. As I said above, you can be somebody's friend without reading their blog. You can like a person and still disagree with (or be bored by) what they're writing about. That's okay.

The problem is that the blogosphere, and the Internet in general, is a very public thing. As a consequence this means that the decision to remove someone from your list of read blogs (or not to put them there in the first place) is immediately made public. And while you'd probably never tell a person that you don't read their blog because it doesn't appeal all that much to you, not putting someone you know on your blogroll or even removing them is almost a matter of slamming this very message in their face.

I often feel like I'm stuck in this very dilemma whenever I see someone who links to me in their blogroll and who seems to be a nice enough person, and still I hesitate to put them on my blogroll because their writing just doesn't appeal to me as much as other people's writing. And the dilemma is worse when I find that I'm reading a blog less and less often — it really takes a lot of effort to remove it, out of fear I might hurt the person behind it.

I'm trying to see this practically, but that doesn't work, because invariably, emotions are involved, as as much as as it's joy to find your name on somebody's blogroll, it hurts if you find your name gone.

I therefore fully understand Dorothea's decision to remove her blogroll from the public page and keeping the blogs she reads private. But on the other hand, this also feels slightly wrong.

The blogosphere is very much a network of interlinked blogs and the personalities behind them. Were it not for blogrolls, I would never have found the blogs of people I enjoy reading greatly. Were it not for blogrolls, I would not even have a small percentage of the readers that I have. Nor would Dorothea, or anyone else, for that matter.

I'm therefore an advocate of blogrolls, despite the fact that they carry some emotional ballast with them and despite the fact that Dave Winer thinks you can have a great blog without a blogroll (well, yes, of course you can, but I don't find the "every man is an island" philosophy particularly attractive in the context of something that's as much about networking as weblogs).

Saying that, I've been thinking more than once about removing my blogroll from my public page and keeping it private. See the dilemma? Has whoever started blogrolls thought about the consequences of all this?

I want to be able to remove people from my blogroll without having to be afraid whether I hurt them. I'd love to have the time to read all the blogs I want to read. I'd love it if long lists of blogs weren't so utterly confusing. It'd be great if interesting blogs stayed interesting all the time. And the best thing would be if the people on your blogroll never found out that they're on your blogroll, so that there's never any emotional pressure when you choose to remove them. But all of the above is wishful thinking.

I recently chucked out a number of people from my blogroll. Why? I wanted a shorter list on my new layout. I'm actually still reading all of them who have an RSS feed. The decision to remove them was tough. And I'm not angry at nor profoundly bored by any of them.

It's a true bummer that you can't keep emotion out of this. On the other hand, that's also a good thing. It shows that blogs are essentially about people.

Posted by Horst at 11:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2003

American scientists have succeeded in producing so-called "instant cornflakes". You shake the box properly, then pour some of the white powder into a bowl, add some milk and can then watch turn the powder into golden, crispy cornflakes. Add some more milk and voilà, there's your breakfast cereal.

There is one problem, though: should you forget to shake the box before opening it, you may end up finding just one single giant cornflake in your cereal bowl. You are then confronted with the problem of eating one huge, approximately pancake-sized, but three times as thick, and perfectly crispy and crunchy cornflake. Unless you have particularly strong teeth, that's quite a challenge.

One way to deal with it is to soak it in two litres of milk for about an hour. Another is to sell it to some tourist, telling them that this thing which looks exactly like a giant cornflake is in fact a local speciality. This would leave you without breakfast, though.

The last option, I guess, is to phone those American scientist and tell them your honest opinion about their instant cornflakes.

Posted by Horst at 12:51 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

August 05, 2003

How to install Windows XP in 5 hours or less — gruesome story from Mark Pilgrim's Journal of Horrors.

I only want to please you — very cool music on the site of what sounds like a very promising band, even though the website is a bit of a pain to navigate and thus not particularly pleasing (background music alert). [via Fort Apache]

"[T]he Bush boys fight dirty. They don't whine about lying. They simply lie." — Toby Sackton on why Howard Dean may be able to crack the Bush regime.

International Standard Paper Sizes — all you never wanted to know about ISO paper sizes, and why US paper sizes suck. [via Boing Boing Blog]

"Der Prozess von Entdeckung bis Übersättigung ist nur noch ein kurzer." — Nico on why Flashmobs have disappeared as fast as they started.

On and on and on it goes — Tom Tomorrow and what's what in Iraq.

Bitterness Grows in Iraq Over Deaths of Civilians — I'd say there should be better ways to "win the hearts of the Iraqi people". [via Working for Change]

Posted by Horst at 03:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hotel rooms and hospital rooms, and in fact all rooms where you don't really want to stay have the strange habit of smelling like toothpaste (I remember that it was also the first thing I smelled upon entering the barracks when I did my military service). The smell is either right there and hits you in the face immediately when you open the first door, or it comes out of some locker or wardrobe that you open carelessly, or it's waiting for you, quietly, patiently, but with deadly certainty, inside the nearest bathroom.

And that's the mystery — in no place that I have ever lived voluntarily was there ever even the slightest hint of a smell of toothpaste. The bathroom in my apartment doesn't smell of toothpaste, even though I brush my teeth in there at least twice a day. It's as if the smell of toothpaste is a kind of sign saying


While the smell of toothpaste merely makes me feel uncomfortable, there's another smell which I find downright creepy. It's one particular brand of aftershave, I still haven't figured out which. A man with whom I once shared one particular hospital room for a while used it vigorously. That is, until his condition deteriorated, and he died. It was the first death that I witnessed almost first-hand.

Since then, the smell of this particular aftershave has become the smell of death. Sometimes, I smell it in the streets, and as most of the time I'm unable to determine the person from whom it emanates, it's almost as if the ghost of the dead man, or perhaps even Death itself, is passing by. And it's as if the smell is asking the question

Posted by Horst at 04:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

August 06, 2003

8:15 — the time of one of the most terrible crimes against humanity. It was 58 years ago, and it seems everybody is now forgetting the lesson. [via Heli]

"Es geht darum, uns gehorsam und ängstlich zu machen." — writer Francine Prose on George Bush's reign of terror. [via]

Cost of war — this site calculates what else could have been done with the (JavaScript Error) spent so far on the Iraq War. [via netbib weblog]

The Bush Dynasty — what if every US president had to be a member of the Bush family?

Weiterleiten — it seems Netscape is so dead that they didn't even care about proper translations anymore.

Posted by Horst at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I've continued tweaking the site a bit. You probably noticed the fan I installed at the top of the page (courtesy of IT&W) because of the heat, plus Haldur Gislufsson is back (he's hiding in two spots, let's see if you find the less obvious one), and I've started building a blogroll of every blog I know of that links to me. There's also a convenient button to contact me via AIM or iChat, and my RSS 2.0 feed is now available as full posts or excerpts. More tweaks to come.

Posted by Horst at 03:44 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

At this hotel room in the south of France where I stayed recently, they had mounted a metal spring behind the door, presumably to keep it open while the maid is cleaning the room. However, every time I opened the door, the spring somehow got briefly caught between door and frame, making a metallic, melodious 'sproing' sound, like a guitar string being plucked by a one-armed gypsy, and you're not sure whether he's playing this particular note to welcome you, or whether it's some kind of tribute to Django Reinhardt.

Posted by Horst at 05:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 07, 2003

Nobody Here — this must be one of the coolest websites I've seen in a long time. Oddly addictive, too. [via The Shifted Librarian]

Total recall, total craziness — I already said this last Friday, sorry for repeating myself: Austrians will do pretty stupid things to get into international news.

Weblog ethics — Jonathon Delacour is back with this article.

George W. Bush in a flight suit — I suppose it was bound to happen. And they call him "Elite Force Aviator". Sheesh. [via This Modern World]

Posted by Horst at 08:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

In my entire life, I have only ever googled five people ("googling" is when you enter somebody's name in the search engine Google to find out more about them).

The first search had no results. For all I know, the person didn't even exist.

The second person turned out to have written a book that nobody seemed to be interested in and that even he himself didn't think was particularly good.

Person three turned out to have given me a wrong name, but I found out her real name, address, telephone number and the precise location of her office nevertheless. It's a good thing I'm not a psychotic stalker.

The fourth person had unwisely left his real name in a sex forum for people with unusual fetishes and I was quite unable to look at him the same way as before ever again, even though I kept reminding myself that it wasn't he who had changed; it was merely my perception.

Number five turned out to be the son of a baker, who had gone to school in a small provincial town, only to join the Foreign Legion at age 16. After that he was recruited by the French secret service and was involved in an operation to save the president from an assassination plot. He retired to Sicily to breed sheep, but the eruption of a volcano forced him to assume a new identity, move to Egypt and work there as a belly dancer. Unfortunately, he was implicated in a plot to steal the British crown jewels and was thrown into a prison cell, from which he miraculously escaped, only to find himself on a bus in India, watching a Bollywood movie whose lead actor looked like his spitten spitting image. Almost trampled to death by the other passengers, who all wanted his autograph signed on their T-shirts, he only just made it onto an airplane at Delhi airport, never to be seen again.

That is, until I shook his hand in a seedy bar in an undisclosed location a few days ago. He told me his story, I googled him, and it turned out every single word of his story was true.

Posted by Horst at 08:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 08, 2003

Total Immunity — so it was all about the oil after all. [via This Modern World]

US dropped napalm-like bombs on Iraq — no, they're not "napalm bombs" because napalm is a banned weapon. But they work pretty much the same way, only more deadly.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die? — just so you know what to expect (more Gorey here). [via Greengrl]

Real Ultimate Power — yes, this site is all about ninjas, REAL NINJAS, and I'm told it's awesome. [via Presurfer]

Posted by Horst at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 09, 2003

"There is no clemency in Texas" — the last statements of executed offenders in Texas, from an official state site that offers more statistics than you asked for. [via A Welsh View]

Don't mention the war bomb — joking in the US can now get you 11 years' imprisonment. Especially if you're French.

Japanese Vending Machines — selling everything. [via Presurfer]

"I don't blog to share knowledge. I don't blog to be part of a community." — a rare voice of reason in the ongoing German how-to-quote-a-blog debate.

US starting nuclear fight with Iran and North Korea — would they remember if the bomb had been dropped on them, rather than by them?

Table of Condiments That Periodically Go Bad — in case you need some comic reflief after all this heavy stuff. [via dailywebthing < Sugarfused]

Posted by Horst at 01:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Found this on another (German or Austrian) weblog yesterday, but forgot which one it was. If anyone else knows where it's from, please leave a comment or drop me a note, because I really want to get rid of it and give it back to its rightful owner or at least give proper credit to the source.

Found this on the Rollberg yesterday (to where it may have come from here), looked at it for too long, and now it's entered my site too. Help! Help!

(I'm afraid there is no "summer hole" in English, so sorry for this joke that doesn't really translate all that well. But then I guess it's aptly silly for the silly season.)

Posted by Horst at 07:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Let me begin this posting with a brief letter.

Dear Jeff,

        let me tell you what France smells like in this weather: Thyme. Lavender. Pinewood. I know this because I just spent two weeks there. I suppose your statement means it's more like car exhaust fumes where you are?


Thank you. Now onward with this:

There's this persistent cliché among Americans that French women are (a) hairy and (b) smelly. Now I'm not sure where this originated. It's certainly not based on fact. Granted, my judgement is mostly based on what I saw on the streets in selected French cities as I've had only very limited close personal contact with French women, but it just doesn't make any sense.

Like I find French women in general very attractive, well-groomed and well-dressed, or at any rate more so than most Austrian women and most female American tourists in Austria.

Like I have never seen such a large assortment of depilatory creams and devices as in French supermarkets, though I must admit that I have not yet seen the respective shelf size in an American supermarket. Still, awestruck by the discovery of some hitherto unknown ways through which one can get rid of hair, the only conclusion I was able to draw is that hair removal must be a national pastime in France.

And the French practically invented perfume. The biggest cosmetics companies are French. The amount of money spent on cosmetics and personal hygiene products by the average French woman is higher than in most other countries.

Sounds more like chaetophobia and bromidrosiphobia (or probably just plain francophobia) must be extremely widespread among Americans.

Posted by Horst at 09:57 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2003


It's just too hot here, and this silly fan on top of the page isn't helping at all. I'm beginning to ask myself what on earth made me choose to live in this country in the first place. I thought that Austria was full of shady forests, high mountains and cool lakes, but no such luck. The temperature in the shade is above 37°C, the mountains are at some distance from where I'm living, and the lakes are now so warm (29°C+) that the fish in them are dying. It's days like this when I'm seriously pining for the fjords.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 04:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Högaffla HageHögaffla Hage is a Swedish kids' television programme that has a brilliant, brilliant website to complement it. It's full of games and funny stuff like this that will keep you (and possibly also your kids) occupied for hours. It helps if you understand Swedish, but much of the stuff is pretty self-explanatory. (Some mild toilet humour; requires Shockwave and Flash.) [via Here In Katie's Head]

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 06:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 11, 2003

Saddam's "Find the Weapons" game — win a cuddly camel! (requires Flash) [via warteschlange]

Amazing push-button Shushing Action — I wish I had that, too (the push-button shushing, not the action figure). [via Laughing Librarian]

Bush praises Germany — well, I suppose the increasing lack of money and ongoing loss of soldiers was a good incentive.

Women that make Mac fans drool — First there was Ellen Feiss. Now there's Danika Cleary [1] [2]. Do I see a pattern? Seems like Mac users prefer the slightly geeky type. I wonder what Windows users drool over.

The answer to "Elite Force Aviator" — setting the record straight. [via BookNotes]

Posted by Horst at 06:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

I remember when Bill had just got that brand new car. He cleaned it all day long and in the evening, he drove off. But he didn't get much farther than one mile, because then suddenly an empty bus appeared in front of him, and he crashed into it.

The car was a complete wreck, but Bill was lucky, he hadn't even got a scratch. Well, he bought a new car, cleaned it all day long and drove off in the evening. But again he didn't get very far, because after one mile or so a heavy truck appeared before him and he crashed into it.

Well, good luck for Bill again. The car was totally wrecked, but he wasn't hurt at all. He bought another car, cleaned it all day long, drove off and — yes, you guessed it, he crashed again, this time into an army tank that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere after about a mile.

Bill was lucky again, not a scratch, even though the car was a total wreck.

Now Bill is not a person who will give up easily, and he still had some money left, so he bought another car, a small, dirty, used car this time because he couldn't afford a new one anymore. He didn't bother to clean the car either, because he was angry: all he wanted to do was go on a ride without constantly crashing into other vehicles after a mile, and he was truly getting tired of the routine.

Bill drove one mile. Nothing happened.

Bill drove another mile. Bill drive around the county. He returned home in the evening and hadn't encountered one single obstacle.

It seems they don't like clean cars around here.

Posted by Horst at 06:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 12, 2003

Don't ever, ever perform a reverse stock split on your blog if there's an open sell order on it. See what happened when I did it. Due to a bug in Blogshares, somebody now seems to own 10000 shares in The Aardvark Cooks, when he should be owning no more than 100 shares.

Odd though, the total number of shares still stands at 5000...

I sincerely apologize to everybody whom I gifted 100 shares yesterday if I should have wrecked the value of my blog. This shouldn't have happened. I wonder if there's some way to get everything back to normal...

Update: Apparently my blog has been fixed — the numbers seem to be back to normal. Now let's hope they're already busy fixing that bug...

Posted by Horst at 09:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger — Davezilla is doing one of his famous anagram interviews. Brilliant!

Who served and who didn't — find out which American politicians did their patriotic duty and who's just talking about it (more here). [via Dan Gillmor]

"...250g mushrooms, about 4 weeks old, with brownish spots..." — find out what else I found in my refrigerator over at The Aardvark Cooks.

In grossness and in health — psycho-dermatology, female gorillas, and why women love to pick their boyfriends' zits. (you must be a subscriber or watch an ad to read full article).

Posted by Horst at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


If I were a Dixie Chick, I'd probably be saying now that I'm ashamed that Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Austria.

But then, I would have been saying the same thing over and over again ever since Conan The Barbarian.

Posted by Horst at 11:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 13, 2003

Not that I think that anybody who reads this weblog is interested, but the I thought I'd let you know that the Vienna University Library is now offering two RSS feeds: there's one feed for News and announcements and another one for their exhibitions. Both are in German.

Posted by Horst at 12:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

For the past few weeks, there's been the Asian Film Festival organised by the Austrian Film Archive, with an open air cinema at the Augarten park in Vienna. It's also an extremely nice place to sit outside with a few drinks on a warm summer night, so I've been going there on something like a 3-4 times per week basis (sadly, the open air cinema will close on Sunday, even though the festival will continue at another cinema well until late September).

I usually go there by bicycle; the film start fairly late and usually end around midnight, and riding a bicycle through the quiet streets of Vienna after midnight sure beats travelling on a stuffy tram or subway train.

Okay, so it seems I rode almost 200km on my bike in the last few weeks. Considering all I did was ride to work and back and to the cinema and back, that doesn't seem so bad.

Plus, you must never underestimate the epiphanies you can get during or after a bicycle ride in the night. Like, for example,

  • You don't really lose weight if you're cycling 10 miles a day. Even though you may look thinner, and people will ask you if you've lost weight, the bathroom scales will mercilessly show the same weight (or more) day in, day out.
  • Subtitles in Engrish are fun, but they may not be helpful for your overall understanding of the film.
  • Speeding along Untere Augartenstrasse at 38kph on a bicycle and overtaking an Audi which can't go that fast because of speed bumps is a truly exhilarating experience.
  • Your overall momentum is significantly greater and the distance to slow down significantly longer if you're going at 38kph compared to 28kph.
  • You know that summer is ending when suddenly one evening, people start taking out vests and putting them on during the film.
Posted by Horst at 07:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 14, 2003

"...en trottinette électrique Segway" — yes, it's true, I've seen them myself: the city of Dijon in France is offering 45-minute guided tours of the city on Segways.

George Bush's Top Five Sources of Pre-War Intelligence — frighteningly credible intelligence from Tom Tomorrow.

Phone tones 'to beat CD singles' — so we'll have to listen to even more peoples' mobile phones ringing even longer now.

Bombs away! — Celebrating Gigli: the top 10 biggest box office failures [via Airbag]

Fraud, Scams and Misinformation on the Web — just alittle reminder that you shouldn't trust everything found on the Internet. [via netbib weblog]

"The understandable desire not to look old has been replaced by the self-conscious cultivation of immaturity." — somewhat frightening article by Frank Furedi on the fact that more and more people refuse to grow up. [via rebecca's pocket]

Posted by Horst at 06:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2003

"It was punishment without trial" — Jonathan Steele reveals the grim reality of coalition justice in Baghdad in The Guardian.

German Social Democratic Party declares end of democratic socialism — and renames itself to what? "German Party"? [via Schockwellenreiter]

It's ours, and you can't have any — one more update on Iraq.

Taliban taking back Afghanistan — another war that's not over yet. [via Generic | Synthetic]

Posted by Horst at 04:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I think I'm too considerate. I mean, when you go to eat out in a restaurant, are you ever thinking about behaving in such a way that you're not hurting the owner's/waiter's feelings? I don't know what my parents did wrong when raising me, but fact is, I'm a polite wuss.

I can't say that a meal was terrible if it was terrible. I'm a total sucker when it comes to giving tips (N.B. even though prices in Austrian restaurants always include taxes and service charge, you are still expected to give a 10-15% tip). It was pretty bad with the old currency, but it's gone totally out of control with the euro. It's like the Austrian comedian Andreas Vitasek put it: "when I give them the tip, the waitresses either spit in my face or they kiss my feet."

And then there's table manners. Apart from the obvious behaviour — fork in your left hand, knife in your right hand, etc. — there's always the question whether you should eat everything that's on the plate or not. And obviously, this differs depending on what kind of restaurant you're eating at.

In Austria, the rule is that you have to eat everything on the plate. First of all, leaving over anything means that you didn't like the food; and second, you're supposed to be greedy — and old Austrian saying goes Besser den Magen verrenkt als dem Wirten was g'schenkt ("it is better to upset your stomach than to give a present to the landlord").

I'm told that in China, you're supposed to leave over a little bit, just as a sign that the portion wasn't too small. Eating up everything is apparently rude, as it implies that the host is greedy.

In Japan it's apparently considered rude not to eat all the rice that you're given (you can leave over other things, but not a single grain of rice).

I know very little about India in this respect, but I was told that an Indian host will attempt not to look greedy stingy by offering you huge portions of everything, usually more than he thinks you can eat, but I'm not sure what happens if you actually manage to eat all of it.

Not sure about Greece, Italy, or other European countries.

So what am I supposed to do when I eat at an Austrian / Chinese / Japanese / Indian / Greek restaurant here in Vienna or elsewhere? Use the local custom regardless of the type of restaurant or vice versa? Am I being rude if I actually eat the whole inhumanly large portion at my favourite Indian restaurant, or am I just being an over-considerate wimp for thinking about such things at all?

I mean, whenever I look around it's not like any of the other guests are spending even a split second on thinking about their behaviour. And I'm not just talking about eating up.

Posted by Horst at 05:39 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

August 16, 2003

It's one of the more annoying customs in this country that the official price for some services is not really the price you are expected to pay. Whether it be waiters, hairdressers or plumbers (in his Vienna city guide, author Beppo Beyerl even mentions ambulance drivers), you are kind of expected to give them something like a tip for services rendered.

Actually, it's notreally a tip, in the occidental, western sense of the word. It's more reminiscent of the Turkish/Arabic concept of bakshish: pay extra and you'll get it done, don't pay extra and you may not get it done this time, but you certainly won't get it done the next time. It's not really a tip, it's actually a bribe.

And this has a long tradition that's probably connected with the old wisdom that "the Balkans begin on the Rennweg (a street in Vienna's 3rd district)". Beyerl quotes the Austrian writer Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872): "A Werkl ghert gschmiert, sonst rennts ned weiter" ("a machine needs grease or it'll stop" — note that the colloquial Austrian word for "grease" is the same as for "bribe").

While you can get away not tipping a hairdresser, plumber or ambulance driver, not tipping the waiter at a pub or restaurant is an absolute no-no. I so enjoy the hospitality of restaurants in France, Holland or Belgium, where the price on the menu may be steep, but then it's the price you are expected to pay.

In Austria, despite the fact that prices on Austrian menus always include taxes and service charge (and most of them even say so explicitly), you are always expected to give something like a 10-15 percent tip, so the official price on the menu is never the actual price that you pay (and notice that you have to give the tip to the waiter upon paying, not leave it on the table — you are thus immediately confronted with the waiter's reaction).

One good sign that a waiter/waitress is unhappy with their tip is the amount of time it takes them to search their wallet for your change. If they seem to take like forever fishing for coins, the tip was considered inadequate; if they get the same number of coins out in less than two seconds, then it was okay. Lifted eyebrows are a bad sign, as either you didn't give them enough or you gave them way too much. If they start to act grumpy or begin to utter insults, then you know you made a bigmistake.

In other countries, a tip is a sign that you were really, really happy with the service and/or the food. In Austria, tipping is the norm, and not tipping is the sign that you were really unhappy with the food or with the service. That's because you never complain, you just don't tip (or you tip poorly and never ever return). Not tipping means insulting the waiter.

Of course they can't do anything if you don't tip them. After all the official prices are the official prices (well, the minimum prices anyway). Just don't expect to receive friendly service in case you should ever return.

What makes this such a nuisance, apart from the fact that prices are only semi-official is that it's so unnecessary. After all we don't have an American situation here. We're not talking about waiters whose tips are their main income. Quite on the contrary, we're talking about a tax-free bonus income (which is extra painful for people like myself who pay an awful lot of taxes and don't get any tips for services rendered at the library, one of the few places where tips aren't required).

The good news is that if you are not an Austrian native, you are most likely spared of the problem. Restaurants and bars frequented mostly by tourists are excepted from this rule, because tourists are not expected to know about Austrian tipping habits. There, the waiters know that the tourists won't necessarily tip them (or tip them much less); that's why prices at these places are typically 20-40 percent higher than those frequented mostly by locals, and nobody will grumble if the tip is less than 5 percent of the bill.

Posted by Horst at 12:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Iraqi girls during power failure

"Iraqi girls sit inside their house illuminated by a gas lamp, due to electric power shortages in Basra, August 14, 2003. Basra and the surrounding districts of southern Iraq have been plagued by power cuts and fuel shortages which sparked violent protests over the weekend." (Suhaib Salem/Reuters) [Source: Yahoo News. Thanks Niek]

Somehow it's deeply ironic that the US administration now has to deal with power blackouts in the US only months after their military intervention in Iraq left much of that country without electricity.

Update: Blaugustine has a "meditation on the relative size of words and persons and the importance of events, depending on whether you are on the A-list of countries and people or not." (no permalink, scroll to August 16).

Posted by Horst at 12:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2003

If I were a Dixie Chick, I would now say that I'm ashamed I have an Icelandic name. No, wait, even though I'm not a Dixie Chick, I am ashamed I have an Icelandic name.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 08:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

  • "The sun shines at its brightest where the forest is at its darkest."
  • "The bark of the birch tree is less crispy than it looks."
  • "Stupidity is not a privilege of the stupid, but is present in all animals except rats."
  • "The image reflected in the lake may not show who you really are."
  • "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
  • "If you try to stop a car that goes faster than a certain speed, it will kill you."
  • "The mushrooms in the forest are just mushrooms in the forest, but every leaf that falls from a tree is a piece of art."
  • "Those who are first to call you a friend will also be the first to call you an asshole."
  • "The bird in the tree will sing his song; not because he wants to, but because things will only get worse if he doesn't."
  • "There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass."
Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 10:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

muteblogMuteblog by Brooklyn-based artist Christina Ray replaces the text usually found in blogs with color bars. Each bar contains colors and patterns gathered from the most recently updated blog found on the Typepad home page at the time it is created. The first several posts on Muteblog contain only color bars, but recent posts also link each color bar to the blog it references. [via IT&W]

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2003

Following an article in Mac Net Journal, there is now a debate going on in a number of German blogs [1] [2] as to what RSS feeds are supposed to do with regard to <link> and <guid>; specifically which one of the two is supposed to contain the weblog entry's permalink.

Oddly, I neither think that UserLand's RSS feeds are broken, nor do I think that the RSS 2.0 specs are contradictory. The problem lies more with the implementation of the specs in different weblogging software.

The RSS specs state that <link> is supposed to point to "the URL of the article", whereas <guid> is a string that uniquely identifies the article, ideally in the form of its permalink.

I think that the <link> is defined pretty loosely on purpose, as it caters for three different kind of entries:

  • weblog entries that are little more than annotated links to other articles — in which case <link> should obviously contain the URL of the other article
  • weblog entries that are full articles in their own right — in which case <link> link contains the permalink URL of the weblog entry
  • weblog entries that are links to other articles, but contain so much additional comment that they can be seen as full articles — in this case <link> will most likely contain the permalink URL of the weblog entry.

In its default configuration, Movable Type seems to assume that the second and third type of weblog entry are the norm and therefore always uses <link> = Permalink; Radio Userland assumes the first case by default and sets <link> = external link, if you don't adjust its preferences accordingly.

Concerning <guid> the RSS specs recommend that you use the permalink of the weblog entry, but allow any unique string. Therefore you cannot assume that <guid> contains a valid URL, and indeed the MT standard feeds (correctly) do not produce URLs.

Basically, if you don't write your RSS feeds manually (and I assume nobody does), this means that Radio Userland is the only software that can produce fully spec-compliant RSS 2.0 feeds, but only after you change its prefs to non-default settings. But Radio is the only software that I know where the weblog author can decide whether his article is just an annotated link, and have <link> point to the extrenal article, or whether it's a full article and have it point to the permalink.

Of course, the feed may produce nonsense if the weblog author does not care about these things.

For other software products, MT's defaults seem to be the safest guess — you assume that each weblog entry is an original article and set <link> to contain the permalink. Of course you can also set <guid> to contain the permalink, but it makes little sense to use it twice.

Now since the specs recommend <guid> as the location of the permalink, being totally spec-compliant reduces either <guid> or the specs themselves ad absurdum, if you don't have different URLs for article text and permalink.

My blog is, I guess, one of the very few that actually works this way. Here <link> points to the article as generated by MT on an individual archive page, whereas the permalink is not this page, but the entry's location on the monthly archive (this is done so that I can delete individual entries and keep only monthly archives without breaking any permalinks). Consequently <guid> contains the permalink, which is a different URL.

I'm not sure if this makes much sense, but it's as close to the RSS 2.0 specs as you can get. That is, unless you are supposed to leave <link> empty if your weblog entry is anything other than a link to somewhere else.

Posted by Horst at 07:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"This is classic hearsay. It provides an even thinner justification to go to war. If this is true, neither the prime minister nor the government have been entirely forthcoming."

"America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47 percent of U.S. non-Christians." [via Mike Cohen <]

"We were all there, for at least half an hour. They knew we were journalists. After they shot Mazen, they aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was accident. They are very tense. They are crazy."

"With a hearty attitude and a gruff yet caring demeanor, you are staunchly dedicated to fighting the good fight. Nobody tosses a Dwarf!" [via]

"Something is really out of whack with our so called civilized world, when Public Services are only about stock market shares and no longer about service to the public."

Posted by Horst at 07:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 19, 2003

Untere Augartenstrasse

New speed record on my bicycle when going slightly uphill. Pity the Asian film festival in the Augarten is now over.

Posted by Horst at 07:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"The aim of this site is to help you avoid low grades, lost employment opportunities, lost business, and titters of amusement at the way you write or speak." [via Greengrl]

"The US government said today it had neither an exact count nor all the names of hundreds of people captured in Afghanistan over a year ago and now detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba." [via Quarsan]

"Within the RIAA's onslaught against file-traders in the US in full swing and record companies considering similar action in Spain and the Netherlands it seems that the number of CDs sold in the UK has increased over the last year."

" is 34% evil, 66% good." [via Presurfer]

"We're preparing this pizza alla Romana, meaning with a thin, slightly crispy base."

"Bo-do-bo. Do-bo bo e-e-e-mi do-e m'do-bo bo-do e-mi m'bo bo." (Requires Shockwave).

Posted by Horst at 05:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

August 20, 2003

There are a number of reasons why I don't believe in the Free Market Economy, the most fundamental one perhaps being that the aim of every player in it is to establish a monopoly and therefore essentially to kill the free market. Somehow I don't believe in games where the object of the players is to abolish the game.

And don't even get started with "consumer power". I've heard that one too often. Fact is, in most cases the consumers are just too inert or passive to make use of their power.

Not that a local boycott would matter much in a global economy anyway. That's more of a rhetorical threat than anything else — see the whole anti-French boycott rhetoric in the US before the Iraq war, and how it mattered very little outside the US media. But what amazes me is the total lack of protest when things happen on a very local level and consumer protest could actually work.

(Yes, it's my pet peeve, Austrian restaurant prices.)

Like, before the euro conversion, a glass of beer cost the equivalent of €2.50 to 2.90 (ATS 35 to 40). These days, depending on where you order it, it costs between €2.50 (ATS 35) and €4 (ATS 55), and people actually willingly pay those €4, even though it's up to 57 percent more than they used to pay.

Or tell me why I should pay €8.50 (ATS 117) for egg-fried dumplings (a dish made from leftovers, basically), when only two years ago nobody dared to sell it for more than the equivalent of €4.70 (ATS 65) — a whopping 80 percent increase, and yet nobody seems to raise an eyebrow these days.

And our inflation is supposed to be at 1.1 percent, thanks to cheap airline tickest and low petrol prices. Well, I don't have a car, but I like to eat out, and I assure you my inflation rate its higher than 1.1 percent. And thanks to the other customers who either don't notice or don't care, it's not going get any lower.

Posted by Horst at 07:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

You can stop sending me hate mail. Yes, those infected mails contained my address in the From:field, but that doesn't mean I sent them. Read all the gory details over at The Evil Empire.

Since my readers seem to enjoy this sort of thing, here's a new quiz: what herb are you? I'm moly, whatever that is (it's not in my dictionary some kind of wild onion, apparently. Update: was used by Ulysses to ward off Circe's spell. Interesting.). [via Deb]

From the same people that brought us comes [via Airbag]

I don't know what it is about the Bush administration that makes conspiracy theories like this proliferate at such a rate. [via Heli]

On, Edward Tufte explains why PowerPoint is evil. Gary Turner agrees.

Here's Krk, a comic set on the Croatian island of the same name, by Ralf (and yes, I'm kidding in a major way).

Posted by Horst at 04:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2003

Today, let me tell you about my experiences with the Windows operating system. At work, I have a Windows machine and a G4 Mac, and as I'm doing most of my work on Mac OS X, I usually don't have to think about Windows a lot. It's just that sometimes the world outside is entering my protected little world with force.

First, the Blaster worm brought our network down. I was one of very few people on the network who were not affected because they were still using Windows 98 or the Mac OS, but a network with most computers down is not exactly a network any longer.

As soon as the network was back up again, I was hit by the Sobig.F worm. It couldn't infect my Mac of course (Macs are immune to most Windows worms), but I was being inundated with dozens of infected e-mails from outside, more than half of them actually being bounces sent back from other mail servers, because the worm had used one of my addresses to send out infected messages and some of the server-based protection programmes apparently think it's better to bounce mails back and thus infect other people than simply deleting them.

Update: The Register has an article that Sobig.F is the fastest growing worm in history, accounting for 1 in 17 email messages. However, in my case it was more like 6 in 7 messages.

Then I tried to install the new Windows 98 security patches on three computers and two Virtual PC installations (Virtual PC is an emulator that allows Windows to run on a Mac). One installation worked as expected. On the second computer, I was unable to install more than one patch at a time (which was a bit tedious with four patches to install). The third computer crashed during install, then refused to start up, and required a complete re-install of Windows to work properly again. The first Virtual PC installation demanded that one patch be installed again and again, even though it had claimed before that the installation was successful (it finally worked on the fourth attempt). Finally, on the second Virtual PC, the automatic installation via simply failed, and also failed to provide any information whatsoever why it had failed (the download was simply aborted; it had worked fine with previous patches), so I had to manually download and install every single patch.

I'm sorry, but this is something of a sick joke. The OS is not supposed to be this faulty in the first place, and then the patching mechanisms are supposed to work as advertised.

As I see it, the only reason that Microsoft is still in business must be IT departments who promote Windows because they know they'd be out of their jobs immediately if they switched to a different, less faulty OS. Or it could also be that users think Windows behaviour is normal and every OS is like this. Which is not true. Believe me, I've wasted more time dealing with the security leaks, strange quirks and complicated setup procedures of Windows than with any other computer-related issue.

Posted by Horst at 04:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The website of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce (Wiener Wirtschaftskammer) demonstrates nicely what's wrong with commerce in Austria, as it will lock out anyone who is not using a particular kind of browser (try their site with Mozilla, Opera, or Safari).

I find this highly ironic; this is the Chamber of Commerce after all. I'm sure the notion of not letting a customer with slightly extravagant shoes into a shop would strike them as downright absurd, yet they're doing the exact same thing with their website.

This is not about how many percent of users are using which browser anyway; it's a matter of principle of whether you want to be open to everyone or not. If anyone, then it's the Chamber of Commerce who should know what it means to turn away even one potential customer.

Posted by Horst at 05:11 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 22, 2003

I am kind of unhappy with the default RSS 2.0 templates that come with Movable Type. They were clearly added as an afterthought (MT prefers RDF, a.k.a. RSS 1.0, feeds) and are really an ugly hybrid of bits and pieces of what RSS 0.91 was, what Dave Winer specified for 2.0, and what other people were unhappy with in Dave's specs. As such, they neither offer the flexibility of RDF nor the simplicity of Dave's RSS 2.0.

I believe in clarity and purity. This means that no matter how Dave arrived at his specs, and no matter how useful they are, he defined 2.0 very clearly, and MT's default "2.0" is different.

So here are four templates for Movable Type that create "pure", i.e. Winer-compliant RSS 2.0 feeds that adhere very strictly to Dave's specs. The four variations depend on whether you have a one-person or a multi-author blog, and whether you want the feed to resemble more a MT-generated or a Radio UserLand-generated feed (. Feel free to peruse them as you wish.

Just copy and paste these templates into your "RSS 2.0 index" template in Movable Type. You may need to adjust the contents of the <link> tag inside <item> in some cases.

1. Here's a template for a Winer-compliant RSS 2.0 feed for a one-person weblog that produces the same kind of feed as Radio UserLand's default feed (i.e. full posts, HTML, comments link). Use this template for a lavish feed.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="<$MTPublishCharset$>"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title><$MTBlogName remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<description><$MTBlogDescription remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></description>
<copyright>Copyright <MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%Y"$> <$MTEntryAuthor$></MTEntries></copyright>
<lastBuildDate><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S"$> GMT</MTEntries></lastBuildDate>
<generator>Movable Type <$MTVersion$></generator>
<managingEditor><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryAuthorEmail spam_protect="1"$> (<$MTEntryAuthor$>)</MTEntries></managingEditor>
<webMaster><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryAuthorEmail spam_protect="1"$> (<$MTEntryAuthor$>)</MTEntries></webMaster>

<MTEntries lastn="15">
<title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<link><$MTEntryLink encode_xml="1"$></link>
<description><$MTEntryBody encode_xml="1"$><MTEntryIfExtended><$MTEntryMore encode_xml="1"$></MTEntryIfExtended></description>
<category><$MTEntryCategory remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></category>
<guid isPermaLink="true"><$MTEntryPermalink$></guid>
<pubDate><$MTEntryDate format="%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S"$> GMT</pubDate>

2. Here's a template for a Winer-compliant RSS 2.0 feed for a one-person weblog that produces the same kind of feed as Movable Type's default "RSS 2.0" feed (i.e. excerpts, no HTML content). Use this template for a Spartan feed.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="<$MTPublishCharset$>"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title><$MTBlogName remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<description><$MTBlogDescription remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></description>
<copyright>Copyright <MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%Y"$> <$MTEntryAuthor$></MTEntries></copyright>
<lastBuildDate><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S"$> GMT</MTEntries></lastBuildDate>
<generator>Movable Type <$MTVersion$></generator>
<managingEditor><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryAuthorEmail spam_protect="1"$> (<$MTEntryAuthor$>)</MTEntries></managingEditor>
<webMaster><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryAuthorEmail spam_protect="1"$> (<$MTEntryAuthor$>)</MTEntries></webMaster>

<MTEntries lastn="15">
<title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<link><$MTEntryLink encode_xml="1"$></link>
<description><$MTEntryExcerpt remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></description>
<category><$MTEntryCategory remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></category>
<guid isPermaLink="true"><$MTEntryPermalink$></guid>
<pubDate><$MTEntryDate format="%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S"$> GMT</pubDate>

3. Here's a template for a Winer-compliant RSS 2.0 feed for a multi-author weblog that produces the same kind of feed as Radio UserLand's default RSS 2.0 feed. This is a fairly savvy feed, containing full text, HTML tags, comments and author entries, and unless you want to take a very bare-bones approach, this is the preferable one.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="<$MTPublishCharset$>"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title><$MTBlogName remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<description><$MTBlogDescription remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></description>
<copyright>Copyright <MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%Y"$> by the authors</MTEntries></copyright>
<lastBuildDate><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S"$> GMT</MTEntries></lastBuildDate>
<generator>Movable Type <$MTVersion$></generator>

<MTEntries lastn="15">
<title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<link><$MTEntryLink encode_xml="1"$></link>
<description><$MTEntryBody encode_xml="1"$><MTEntryIfExtended><$MTEntryMore encode_xml="1"$></MTEntryIfExtended></description>
<category><$MTEntryCategory remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></category>
<author><$MTEntryAuthorEmail spam_protect="1"$> (<$MTEntryAuthor$>)</author>
<guid isPermaLink="true"><$MTEntryPermalink$></guid>
<pubDate><$MTEntryDate format="%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S"$> GMT</pubDate>

4. Finally, here's a template for a Winer-compliant RSS 2.0 feed for a multi-author weblog that produces the same kind of feed as Movable Type's default feed. Please notice that this contains much less data than the above feed.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="<$MTPublishCharset$>"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title><$MTBlogName remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<description><$MTBlogDescription remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></description>
<copyright>Copyright <MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%Y"$> by the authors</MTEntries></copyright>
<lastBuildDate><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S"$> GMT</MTEntries></lastBuildDate>
<generator>Movable Type <$MTVersion$></generator>

<MTEntries lastn="15">
<title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
<link><$MTEntryLink encode_xml="1"$></link>
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Please notice that I don't want to participate in the RSS wars. Basically, use whichever kind of feed you like better. Perhaps RDF/RSS 1.0 is really superior; I'm not really in a position to argue about this. I just wanted to give you the opportunity to create feeds that strictly adhere to the RSS 2.0 specs, whatever their use may be.

Update: Tips on including further information in your RSS feed can be found in part 2 of this tutorial.

Posted by Horst at 01:00 AM | Comments (2)

I just heard the most gruesome cover version of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now" imaginable. Whoever decided to do this deserves to have their bare asses publicly whipped with audio tape, not just for being terrible singers, but also for being totally clueless about the song, the Smiths, music and the world in general. Plus, there's extra penalty points for disturbing the legacy of one of the huge 1980s icons.

What difference does it make? A lot.

In the meantime, I will retreat to my sanctuary and listen to Hatful of Hollow and weep along to Morrissey's whiney voice, which always seems to announce the end of the world for tomorrow.

Posted by Horst at 07:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Not sure what's happened, but instead of the Smiths (as announced previously), I've been listening to Kishore Kumar's "Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas" (last one in the list on the linked page; requires RealPlayer) over and over again, for what must be ten or fifteen times. Well, I guess the mood is similarly sentimental. I hope to escape from this loop eventually.

Incidentally, Music India Online seems to be quite an extensive repository of Indian music, but the search function seems to be oddly limited to song titles only, even though film titles are also obviously in the database (you can work around this by entering "music india online" and the film title in Google — example).

Posted by Horst at 04:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 24, 2003


Sorry, the weather is so nice that I'm taking today off and go for a swim instead (here's a photo of me getting ready to go). This means there'll be no Sunday entry and link of the week from me today, but I think you'll manage without them. Regular blogging from Horst will continue tomorrow, and you'll hear from me again next Sunday.

Oh, perhaps one more word of wisdom from the Great Moose: "Those who think that the elk grass is solely growing for the elk are fools; those who embrace the sun and every single drop of rain alike are waking up; those who see the universe in a speck of dust may one day begin to understand." I learned it at moose school and really have no idea what it means, but it suddenly came to my mind when I heard about George W. Bush's "Unclear skies" programme yesterday.

And one more thing, while I'm at it: my e-mail address, which has been totally spam-free for three years is now being spammed. I started receiving spams two days after somebody I know (and whom I gave a good piece of my mind as a result) carelessly entered it on Blogshares. I'm not 100% sure whether there is a connection, but I wanted to let you know that your email address may not be safe with Blogshares. I wrote them a mail about this about a week ago asking for clarification, but I have not yet received a reply. Let's say I'm disappointed.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 11:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 25, 2003

One of the largest private bus companies in Eastern Austria, which also runs several lines in Vienna, is called "Dr. Richard", after its owner. Now there is this persistent rumour, which I've heard from quite a few people so far, that "Dr." doesn't really stand for "doctor", but rather for "Dragomir", a more or less common Slavic name, which is allegedly also the owner's first name.

Which is not true. I checked it. Dr. Richard's first name is Carl, and he really went to university and earned a doctorate.

However, a problem may arise in a few years when Carl Richard retires and his son Ludwig takes over the business, for Ludwig Richard doesn't have a doctorate, but only a master's degree.

Of course they could change the lettering on the buses from "Dr. Richard" to "Mag. Richard" ("Mag." is the Austrian abbreviation for a master's degree), but that would essentially be a downgrade. Or Carl Richard could send his son back to university to study for a doctorate. Or, of course, Ludwig Richard could change his first name to Dragomir.

Posted by Horst at 12:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

August 26, 2003

I had this really strange dream, and in it somebody led me into a room that was full of baskets. "Count them," he said.

The whole thing seemed totally futile. I mean, there was a lot of baskets in there, and when I say a lot I mean just that. The room was really large, and the baskets were more than a single man could count in a day.

The whole thing became a lot more futile when the man turned off the light, closed the door, and left me standing there in pitch black darkness. I couldn't see a thing. I mean I knew I was surrounded by lots and lots of baskets, but I just couldn't see a thing.

I don't know what possessed me, but I really felt like I absolutely had to count those baskets. Call it sense of duty or whatever. I tried to find my way back to the door, hoping I'd find a light switch there, but kept stumbling over baskets all the time and never made it to the door.

I thought that one way of counting the baskets could be by somehow getting them all on one side of the room and then moving them to the other side, one by one, but when I wanted to start doing that, I couldn't find any of the baskets; it was as if all of a sudden they were all gone.

Then at some point I thought I saw a tiny speck of light, and sure enough, as I moved closer towards it, I noticed I had found the door. I opened it, but it was just as dark outside as it was inside. I walked out, and just as I closed the door from the outside, the lights went on again inside, and I could see that indeed all the baskets had disappeared.

The door slammed shut. There was nothing I could do other than wake up.

Posted by Horst at 11:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 27, 2003

Song that's been playing in my head for three days: Rang Rang.
New recipe over at The Aardvark Cooks: Aloo Saag.
Person who seems to be as inspired as I am at the moment: Nico.
Alternative part-time career I could pursue to increase job satisfaction: dominator.
Alternative full-time career I could pursue to increase job satisfaction: Jedi Knight.

Posted by Horst at 07:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 28, 2003

The Washington Post has an article on Howard Dean [found via This Modern World], in which Dean says one very true thing about Iraq:

Now that we're there, we're stuck. [...] We have no choice. [...] If we leave and we don't get a democracy in Iraq, the result is very significant danger to the United States.

However, he also says one particularly stupid thing that shows, alas, that Dean may only be slightly less naïve than George W. Bush. This is reproduced in the article as follows:

Dean would impose a "hybrid" constitution, "American with Iraqi, Arab characteristics. Iraqis have to play a major role in drafting this, but the Americans have to have the final say." Women's rights must be guaranteed at all levels.

I beg your pardon? Does Dean seriously believe the majority of Iraqis will accept an American-Arab hybrid of a constitution for a state that does not even exist, as far as most Iraqis are concerned? Does Dean seriously believe that women's rights are a priority in a predominantly Islamic country, which is, thanks to the US military intervention, currently experiencing a serious religious backlash? Does Dean seriously believe the majority of the Iraqi people is interested in adopting a western, let alone American, system of values instead of the one which they already have and which has determined their way of life for centuries?

If yes, then Dean is suffering from the same illusion as the Bush administration, which is that the Iraqi people will realise (or have already realised) that western (American) values, laws, traditions and way of life are superior to their own and will gladly jump the chance to accept them if only given the opportunity.

This is, of course, nonsense (even though such a process may be taking place, but it'll be a matter of decades, not months), and I am disappointed to see that Howard Dean is no less clueless than George W. Bush when it comes to these things. Or no less hesitant to talk nonsense in order to appeal to the media or the voters. You decide.

In any case, the world of political rhetoric and the real world are still two separate entities.

Posted by Horst at 03:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)

August 30, 2003

  Horst. Was this the face that launch'd a thousand worms
And burnt the hapless towers of Windows?
Sweet Helen, make him immortal with a high school photograph!

[Original quotation here]

Posted by Horst at 03:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 31, 2003

Quickos Daily News is an interesting weblog (MSNBC calls it "pleasant if weird", though I'm not quite sure why they would say that) written by Quickos, a guy who seems to live with Quarsan and Zoe. One of these days I'll probably also get my own weblog, just like Quickos!
Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 07:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

This is terrible: just because four people died in moose-car collisions in Maine this year, they are thinking about an open moose hunt? Do these people really think that if you have a problem all you need to solve it is a gun? I assure you, if we moose thought the same way, you humans would long be extinct (oh, and if we had opposable thumbs).

I also think the authorities in Norway should have talked to these suspected moose terrorists. Just killing them like that seems pretty harsh. It's not like they planted a bomb or killed anybody; you can't just gun anybody down who's becoming aggressive. Seems there's fairly different standards for moose and humans. This sucks, if you ask me.

"Moose kills motorist"? You mean, motorist kills moose! It's not like the moose "came through the windshield" to kill the driver, it's more like the driver rammed his car into the moose! This is the most perverse reversal of perspectives that I've ever seen. This is outrageous!

Now these insidious hunters are employing treacherous horses to help them with the moose hunt. I'm deeply shocked!

Somehow I don't get what this new reason to fear moose is supposed to be all about. The article is not even about moose at all. Probably just some kind of scam to increase anti-moose sentiment so that they can justify the moose hunting season. It's depressing.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 07:21 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

© Copyright 2002-2003 Horst Prillinger, 

Most of the stuff on this page is fiction. Everything else is my private opinion. Please read the disclaimer.

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