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

November 2003 Archive

November 01, 2003

I have written what must be one of the silliest songs I have ever written. It might just have potential as a Top 10 single, at least the melody and lyrics have been stuck in my head for two days straight now. Any band in the Vienna area (basic dr/b/kb or gtr lineup) who wish to record this and be propelled to stardom, please contact me (NB. against my habits, the lyrics are in German).

Posted by Horst at 11:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

'Slates' by: The FallI am kind of looking for this record (click to enlarge) — the original 10" vinyl, that is. If you have one to sell at a not-too obscene price, please contact me.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ShippedPanther is approaching. Seems like they finally managed to assemble the cardboard box.

Update: It seems that Volker's Apple store order has been shipped to the wrong address... Let's hope they get my address right.

Posted by Horst at 02:05 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

November 02, 2003

A picture of moose sausage found in Horst's refrigerator.

I found this in Horst's refrigerator today. This is outrageous. This is so outrageous. This is so totally outrageous.

This is also how friendships end.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 07:42 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

It seems I have been the victim of a devious plot. Somebody has planted moose sausage in my refrigerator, which Haldur found this morning. At this very moment Haldur is packing his suitcase and preparing to leave. This is terrible! I am innocent! I would never eat moose sausage — at least not while there is a moose living in my flat. I need to act fast and find the person who wants to destroy my friendship with Haldur.

Posted by Horst at 02:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

It is with great sadness that I, Haldur Gislufsson, herewith announce my resignation from this weblog. You will understand that I do not want to be associated with moose sausage eaters.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 11:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

November 03, 2003

Glasgow coat of arms"A new website has been launched to bring the history of Glasgow alive on the internet. is lavishly illustrated with thousands of captioned photographs, paintings, posters and drawings from the rich collections held in Glasgow's museums, libraries, archives and Universities." [via BBC]

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 11:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Okay, in search of the villain who planted moose sausage in my refrigerator to destroy my friendship with Haldur, I've narrowed the list of possible suspects down to three friends of Haldur's, who were over for dinner recently. It must be one of them. Here are the mugshots:

Marsu the marsupilamiHans the hedgehogElchi the elk
Marsu the marsupilami
Possible motive:
is a practical joker
Hans the hedgehog
Possible motive:
inferiority complex
Elchi the elk
Possible motive:

I don't know any of them, but they've been over before and Haldur once told me that one of them is a pathological liar who will never tell the truth, one of them sometimes lies and sometimes tells the truth, and one of them is totally honest and will always tell the truth, even if this means incriminating himself. Now they know who's lying and who's not, but I don't.

Their lawyer allowed me to ask the three guys a total of no more than four questions to determine who did it, but he told me to be very careful about my accusations, because while one was indeed a witness to the crime, another one of the three is innocent and has absolutely no idea what is going on.

I think I have found a way to do it with just four questions. However, before I contact the lawyer and make an appointment, I'd like to hear other opinions. Please send me your solutions via e-mail or post them in the comments. The first one to send in a correct solution will receive a gift (only one answer per person please!). But please hurry, or Haldur may have emigrated to some foreign country. Thank you.

Posted by Horst at 12:05 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)

November 04, 2003

First of all, you can still participate in the quiz that helps me determine who planted the moose sausage.

Second, you can use the online poll below to cast your vote who you think is the evil villain who wants to destroy my friendship with Haldur.

Sausage Villain

Who planted the moose sausage in my fridge?

Marsu the marsupilami
Hans the hedgehog
Elchi the elk
Powered by Sparklit  Current Results
Posted by Horst at 09:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 05, 2003

In LimboJust received a notification mail from Apple about my Panther order. Guess where my parcel is right now. They are apologizing for a delay of 4-5 days.

I suppose this is for me cracking silly jokes about Volker's iBook G4, which, it seems, hasn't arrived yet either. Could be the poets and heroes and my Panther are now playing with it.

Posted by Horst at 12:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Two of the suspects in the moose sausage affair wish to have these statements published here:

Elchi the elkElchi the elk: "Let me just say that I am deeply disappointed by the readers of this weblog. That a majority of the people who voted in the suspects vote would seriously consider that an elk would even touch a piece of elk sausage is totally devastating. You must believe that I am mentally very much disturbed. Let me just say that I am not. I would never touch elk sausage and I would never do any harm to Haldur, even though I have been rather neglected ever since he moved in. I may be slightly jealous, but I'm not a sick pervert."

Marsu the marsupilamiMarsu the marsupilami: "Okay, so I put yoghurt in Horst's shoes and attached bananas to Haldur's antlers — but moose sausage? Come on. I may be a practical joker, but I am well aware where jokes end and bad taste begins. I'm a good friend of Haldur's and I know how sensitive he is when it comes to moose sausage. Especially since his grandfather disappeared without a trace from some Swedish forest. Seriously, I would never do such a thing."

Hans the hedgehog is mysteriously missing.

And new evidence has just come up that might render the planned interviews with the four questions unnecessary. We'll keep you informed.

Posted by Horst at 11:00 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

November 06, 2003

Hans the hedgehog / Wanted/ EUR 300 Reward

PS. Sorry for the lack of non-fluffy content lately, but Richard is out of town this week, and I'm so busy that I'm quite incapable of producing intelligent postings at the moment.

Posted by Horst at 11:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 07, 2003

Today, 8:30pm, Café Kafka, 1060 Vienna, Capistrangasse 8: Labyrinth poetry open mic. This time, I will be reading library haikus and library zen koans. Many others will also be reading. Come!

Posted by Horst at 12:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 08, 2003

This year's Visions of Science award in the category "Concepts" goes to Dr Adam Nieman, who has developed a computer model showing all the water and all the air in the world, compared to the size of the Earth itself. It's frightening. [found via Der Standard]

In related news: What is the Meatrix?

Posted by Horst at 11:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2003

I just received what must be the most unlikely spam mail ever. It was neither for penis enlargement pills nor for ways to make money while sleeping. It was for... butterfly valves.

[name removed] Valve Industry Co.,LTD. is mainly in wafer butterfly valve,
lug butterfly valve, flanged butterfly valve, wafer check valve, balancing valve, lift check valve,Y Strainer, experience with the export.We have been able to provide products with GB,API,ANSI,JIS,BS,AS,DIN,ISO and various world standars.

Factory Address: [removed] China
Sales Department: [removed] China

After this paragraph comes a lengthy price list of various valve types. It's just as useless as your usual kind of spam, but it's an interesting variation.

Posted by Horst at 07:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Continued fluffiness?

Shall I continue with the moose sausage mystery, or have you had enough fluffy animals already?

Continue story
Enough fluffiness, stop now!
Current Results
Posted by Horst at 09:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

As I am writing this, the Austrian government and the railway union are holding their 13th round of talks about the impending reorganisation of Austria's railways. The law is supposed to pass through the council of ministers tomorrow. There was already a strike last Tuesday; if there are no results today and the law remains unchanged, there might well be another, this time unlimited, strike.

The worrying thing about this law is that it's not just the railway union that's opposed; opposition parties, transport experts, consumer protection agencies, even the railway's board of directors are all opposed. Last week, even the Austrian Control Court (Rechnungshof), a body that controls the state's finances, had a look at the law and found that this reorganisation of the railways will not save money, but cost significantly more than keeping the present system. They even went so far as to point out that some of the companies formed as a consequence of the law could go bankrupt within a short period.

In the course of the reform, the railways will lose their real estate properties and power stations; they will no longer be allowed to transport goods by lorry; they will lose the powers to decide which new lines will be built; the split into several companies will remove synergies and create additional costs of up to €130 million per year.

Consumer protection agencies are warning that the reform will require ticket prices to go up by at least 25 percent. In the meantime, the government is conducting a poster campaign, in which they are promising "affordable railways". They are not saying that they mean affordable only for those who don't use it.

In short: this government is planning to drive the railways into bankruptcy. Why they want to do this is not clear. Some say they are ruining the network so that they can to cheaply sell the remains to private investors, others say they are trying to crush the railway union at the price of ruining the country's infrastructure. My guess is they are simply incompetent.

Let's not forget that the leading ministerial secretary is the same politician who spent several years campaigning against a lower alcohol limit on Austrian roads, saying that it would be a deadly blow for the Austrian wine and Heurigen business. The hundreds of people killed by drunk drivers didn't impress him. It took a horrible accident in which 11 schoolchildren were killed by a drunk driver for him to change his mind.

After the British railways were privatised, it soon turned out that the railwaymen's criticism had been true and the politicians' high-strung plans had been devoid of any basis. Today these reforms are slowly being reversed, but the British railway infrastructure is more desolate than ever before, is costing the taxpayer more money than ever before, and no politician has ever apologized for the deaths caused by this experiment in destroying a country's infrastructure.

My guess is that no Austrian politician will apologize either. Why should they — the abovementioned ministerial secretary, who says the railwaymen are enjoying unjustified privileges, will then have retired and live on a €13,000/month pension; besides, he also never apologized for the 11 schoolchildren.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 02:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The 13th round of talks between the government and the railway union, like the twelve before them, has failed. This means that Austrian railway traffic may come to a standstill later today tomorrow.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 03:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

We interrupt our regular broadcast to bring you a news update in the moose sausage affair. As you know, an as yet unknown villain has planted a piece of moose sausage in my refrigerator to destroy my friendship with Haldur Gislufsson, who has since moved out of my flat and resigned from this weblog's board of editors.

Just as a scheme to question the three suspects was worked out, one of them, Hans the hedgehog, mysteriously disappeared, thwarting any attempt to find the culprit.

Video still of Hans the hedgehog in some forest

Today, the editors of The Aardvark Speaks received this shocking video footage (1.2MB, requires QuickTime 6.3), which we bring to you live, direct, unedited and unadulterated.

This video should be the final piece in the puzzle as to who planted the moose sausage after police specialists already found a number of tiny holes in the packaging of the sausage last Wednesday — holes as if the sausage had been carried on the back of a hedgehog! The motive behind this terrible deed is shocking and disturbing. Let us all hope that Hans the hedgehog will be caught soon.

Posted by Horst at 06:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 11, 2003

It may be time to return to an old story, the same one that cause Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds to call me a crackpot: According to an article in the Observer, Private Jessica Lynch (referred to by some as "Old Shoe") says that President Bush is "misusing her 'heroism'" and confirms that much of her "rescue" from an Iraqi hospital was indeed staged [link via Craig]. In an Interview for ABC News, Lynch says "It does [bother me] that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. ... It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about."

Meanwhile, Karen Kwiatkowski, a former Pentagon officer, talks about how American neo-conservatives have deceived Congress, the Pentagon and the American public and installed a shadow foreign policy that "makes Iran-Contra look like amateur hour" (more detailed article in German in Wiener Zeitung).

Posted by Horst at 07:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Following yesterday's publication of a disturbing video, in which an obviously deranged Hans the hedgehog admitted having planted the moose sausage in my refrigerator, saying it was part of a sinister plan to achieve world domination and then take bitter revenge on motorists for all the hedgehog deaths on the streets, Haldur Gislufsson called and we had a long talk.

Haldur admitted that the video and the tiny holes in the sausage indeed strongly indicate Hans's involvement and that I am most likely innocent. So Haldur said that unless further evidence shows up that proves the opposite, he will be back very soon!

Posted by Horst at 03:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Today's edition of Der Standard publishes excerpts from a speech by former German Social democrat politician Oskar Lafontaine, in which Lafontaine seriously criticised what he called the "neo-liberal misconception".

Saying that 95 percent of financial transactions were not based on real business, but on speculation, he called the current economic system unstable: "there must be rules and regulations to keep this worldwide casino under control".

He said it seems odd that to keep companies profitable it is deemed necessary to lower employees' wages while at the same time constantly increasing managers' incomes and that he considered privatising services that provide the most basic services for the citizens "almost a crime": profits are privatised, losses delegated to the public through higher taxes. He said he hoped that the time that propagated market values over a society's moral values would end soon.

Lafontaine said he was not interested in a political comeback: "I want a comeback of my political ideas."

Posted by Horst at 09:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

In LimboApple has released the Mac OS X 10.3.1 update, which seems to fix the worst problems with Panther, especially the data loss problems with FireWire 800 drives and with FileVault.

Which is just as well, because my copy of Panther, which was reportedly picked up at Apple's Dublin factory by a lorry of Kühne & Nagel N.V. on October 29th, still hasn't arrived.

I feel like ordering a butterfly valve. I have the feeling it'd arrive sooner than Panther.

Posted by Horst at 11:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 12, 2003

As of today, 0:00 hrs, the Austrian railways are on strike again, and they may well be until Friday afternoon. Buses operated by the Austrian railways and by the Austrian post office are also on strike today. If you are somewhere in the Austrian countryside without a car, you're stuck. There's no chance of going anywhere. This is the largest strike that has ever taken place in Austria since World War II.

What's funny is that most of the media seem to point out that the strike is about reduced wages and fewer rights for the railway employees. It is not. It is about a structural reform that may well drive the railway into bankruptcy.

Oddly enough, in a television interview this evening, not even the railway union president managed to bring this point across properly.

However, in an interview for Die Presse, Control court president Fiedler has renewed his criticism of the planned reform: "it is exactly the opposite of what we recommended to cut costs."

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A note from Hans - he claims the video was a fake

This was just found and forwarded to us. Oh my. It seems that things are more complicated than they seemed at first.

Posted by Horst at 10:07 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

There is now a website to protest against "pointless strikes" in Austria: ("it's enough") calls itself "an initiative of the Bürgergesellschaft". In a nice twist of ambiguity, this can be translated as both "citizens' society" and "bourgeois society" — interestingly, the Internet domain is owned by a marketing company that was founded by former leading members of the Conservative Party's student organisation Aktionsgemeinschaft. Hmm.

In related news, people in Conservative Party anoraks are all over Vienna today, handing out leaflets in support of the railway reform.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 12:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 13, 2003

CIA: "We could lose this situation." [The Guardian]

Posted by Horst at 01:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

  • The post office doesn't take two bloody weeks to get a parcel from Ireland to Austria; they do it in an average two to three days.
  • When your parcel is ready to be delivered, the post office doesn't leave cryptic messages on your answering machine, urging you to call back; they will simply attempt to deliver the parcel.
  • The post office actually finds the address you specified.
  • The parcel won't be delivered at a totally random time, but along with the rest of the mail at roughly the same time every day.
  • If you're not at home, the parcel won't be delivered again at a totally random time on the next day; instead it will wait for you at the next post office.
  • If the delivery is unsuccessful, the postman will put a notification in your letterbox, not somewhere on the door of your house, where any idiot can remove it.
  • If the delivery is unsuccessful, you can collect the parcel at the next post office, which is two blocks away, not at some warehouse near the airport 10 miles out of town.
  • When you finally collect your parcel, it is handed over to you by a grumpy post officer, not some weird cloned youth with a fake grin on his face that makes you convinced they did all this on purpose.

Yes, I'm talking about Panther, which I could have received and installed for some time now had it been sent by mail as initially promised.

Yes, I'm frickin' angry at frickin' Kühne & Nagel and frickin' TNT. Hail the Austrian Post Office!

Posted by Horst at 11:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

I have less than 12 hours to decide whether I want to pay €14,329.43 (in 60 handy installments at approx. €240 per month) into my state pension account or not.

The problem is: if the state pension scheme is the same in 25 years as it is today, paying the €14,329.43 is a very good idea, because I will get a significantly higher pension than if I don't.

However, if the pension laws change (which is likely), and if they change in an unfavourable way (which is not unlikely), I will have paid the whole €14,329.43 for nothing. On the other hand, if they change in a not-so-unfavourable way (which is not impossible), paying the €14,329.43 might still be a good idea after all. And if they totally abolish state pensions (which is perfectly possible), I'm totally f*cked anyway.

Whether I pay the money or not totally depends on the pension laws in the year 2030 or so. I need a time machine. Urgently.

Any ideas anyone?

Posted by Horst at 11:36 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2003

After three days, the railway strike has ended. Sadly, and perhaps typically, the unions and the government agreed on a compromise on employment contracts, while the planned structural reform, which will split the railways into 9 companies and may drive them into bankruptcy will go ahead as planned.

Just another sad proof that neither the politicians nor the government care about a working infrastructure for this country, but are only interested in short-term profits for their respective supporters.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 09:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Here's how to tell printer manufacturers that their ink cartridges are too expensive: buy a new printer.

I'm serious.

I usually do my printouts on an old laser printer, but today I needed to print something in colour. However, the ink cartridge was empty, presumably dried out, because I use it so seldom. So I went out to buy a new cartridge.

At the shop, I found that the kind of cartridge I need costs €60. A few metres away from the cartridge rack they were selling new printers, and I ended up seriously considering not buying a cartridge, but a new Epson printer for only €45 (that is including a set of ink cartridges which cost €47 if bought separately).

Next to it they were selling a cheapo Lexmark printer at €30. I checked the price of its printer cartridge — €35. I was so perplexed that I left the shop without an ink cartridge and without a printer.

So next time you need an ink cartridge, don't buy one. Get a new printer instead. I know this generates an unnecessary amount of garbage, but as long as you can buy printers at prices below those of ink cartridges, it makes no sense to buy cartridges.

Of course, manufacturing printers costs more than manufacturing ink cartridges, so the printer companies probably won't like this, because they want you to buy their expensive cartridges, not their cheap printers. Thus there is some hope, if enough people join in, that at some point the cost of printers and that of cartridges will go back to more realistic levels.

Or they just start selling printers without cartridges.

Posted by Horst at 08:20 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (3)

Panther is finally here. Installation was painless. Some things still take some getting used to, but it's noticeably snappier than Jaguar.

And today I found that Intacto has finally been released on DVD [UK / DE+AT]. This is one of the coolest films ever. Go and get it now.

And finally, one question: Has anybody managed to install Microsoft Train Simulator under Virtual PC 6 and Windows 98? It doesn't seem to work here.

Posted by Horst at 09:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hans on the runIn the moose sausage mystery, we just received this strange footage (400K, requires QuickTime 6), which was apparently recorded by a traffic camera. I doubt whether this might help clear up what really happened, even though the person hedgehog on it looks a lot like Hans — and is that yellow thing a marsupilami tail?

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

November 16, 2003

This one is too good not to relay: Cooking by numbers, your insta-recipe guide for quick meals from leftovers in your fridge. [via Quarsan]

Posted by Horst at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2003

I finally made a decision pension-wise today, and I have the feeling it was the wrong decision. However, if I had gone for the other option, I'd also have had the feeling it was the wrong decision. The whole thing was unfair; there was no chance to make the right choice.

Posted by Horst at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Observer reports that British Home Secretary David Blunkett won't grant diplomatic immunity to armed American special agents and snipers travelling to Britain as part of President Bush's entourage this week. He also won't shut down the London Underground (that's a railway, not a political movement) to protect Bush, and he won't allow any US fighter jets and army helicopters cruising above London. These demands are extraordinary. You'd think that Bush thinks he owns London now.

In the meantime, Der Spiegel reports that London's mayor Ken Livingstone has made it clear that he does not wish to meet Bush. Livingstone has invited several anti-war activists to a "peace reception".

And Gary Younge writes in today's Guardian, "from the time Bush lands, it is important that he is aware that while the British prime minister may be his ally in the war against Iraq the British people are not and, barring a short spell at the outset of the fighting, never have been. That is why the upcoming demonstrations around Bush's visit are not only necessary but demand our full support", an opinion apparently shared by Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Posted by Horst at 11:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

As you may know, I have a small guide to Indian restaurants in Vienna online, where I publish short reviews of Vienna's 35 or so Indian restaurants. Some are excellent, some are not. Hence, some of the reviews are favourable, some are not. Such is life.

Back in March, one restaurant owner sent an e-mail asking me to remove the review of his restaurant, threatening to sue me if I didn't comply. I complied. Today, I received yet another request to remove a review.

I wonder what these people are doing if they are reviewed unfavourably in a magazine or newspaper. Will they demand that all copies be destroyed? On each of my review pages, you'll repeatedly find a note that everything expressed on the page is my personal opinion, and I have taken great care to phrase everything accordingly. The only thing I mention as fact are the prices, and they can be easily checked via the restaurant menu. So if I think €14 for a curry is a bit expensive, then I'm not allowed to say so?

Here's the Internet for you: you have the right to express your opinion unless somebody else objects to it, in which case the rules of capitalism apply.

Posted by Horst at 02:54 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

The traffic camera video has now yielded a result: we have just learned that Hans the hedgehog and Marsu the marsupilami have been caught by the police. Apparently Hans was running as fast as he could, and Marsu was running after him. Haldur Gislufsson has been notified, and he will be interviewing the two of them tomorrow. Expect the solution to the moose sausage mystery very soon. Stay tuned!

Posted by Horst at 11:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 18, 2003

A while ago, the Austrian finance minister got his own website. He paid € 175,000 for it.

A minister's website

Is the minister's website worth € 175,000?

  Current Results

Have a look at the source code — it's almost art. Here's a brief excerpt:

<div align=left>
<div align=center>
<div style="TEXT-ALIGN: right">
<div style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">
<div style="TEXT-ALIGN: left">
<div style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">
<strong><u><font color=#ffffff></font></u></strong>

After which we come to today's second question, which is: if somebody, say the Austrian Industrialists' Association, gives you € 175,000 for your own website, do you have to declare this gift and pay taxes? The Austrian law says yes, the Austrian finance minister said no.

Posted by The Duck at 12:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London: "I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction. [...] I don't formally recognise George Bush because he was not officially elected." [source: The Independent; thanks to Annie for the link]

He's got a big mouth, but in a such way that earns my respect. Guess why he's got most of London behind him.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 05:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

As I mentioned briefly yesterday, there has been a new development in the moose sausage mystery: Hans the hedgehog, one of the main suspects, who had mysteriously disappeared, then appeared on a disturbing video and subsequently claimed to be innocent and have been abducted, and Marsu the marsupilami were arrested by the police yesterday after they were seen on a traffic camera. As the police couldn't make any sense of what the two were saying, they sent for Haldur Gislufsson to interview them. Haldur has agreed to make the interview transcript available to the readers of The Aardvark Speaks, so we are able to exclusively offer you this exciting piece of evidence, which may finally solve the mystery.

Here is the transcript of the interview:

INTERROGATION TRANSCRIPT       Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

Interviewer: GISLUFSSON, Haldur
Suspects: HEDGEHOG, Hans; MARSUPILAMI, Marsu.

H. GISLUFSSON: Hans, I suppose the police have told you what this is all about. Can you say in your own words what happened that night when the moose sausage was planted?

H. HEDGEHOG: Everything was dark. I couldn't see a thing. Then I heard a strange hissing sound, and somebody dropped something heavy on me. I immediately curled into a ball. It's an instinct thing, you know. I couldn't help it. The problem was, as a ball I could see even less.

H. GISLUFSSON: Can you remember anything?

H. HEDGEHOG: There was an intense smell.

H. GISLUFSSON: Can you be more specific?

H. HEDGEHOG: It was a bit like smoked insect larvae, I guess.

H. GISLUFSSON: Could it have been smoked moose sausage?

H. HEDGEHOG: I have no idea. I have never eaten moose sausage. If smoked moose sausage smells anything like smoked insect larvae, I suppose it could have been moose sausage. Does moose sausage smell like smoked insect larvae?

H. GISLUFSSON: Ummm... sorry, I have no idea either. I'm a vegetarian, I eat neither moose sausage nor insect larvae. Hm. Um. Well. What happened next?

H. HEDGEHOG: I was curled up into a ball for a while, then I fell asleep. The next morning, my lawyer called and told me not to say a thing. He didn't say much else. It was kind of cryptic, but it seemed really important.

H. GISLUFSSON: You have the same lawyer as Marsu and Elchi?

H. HEDGEHOG: Yes, it's a group discount thing.

H. GISLUFSSON: Did the lawyer say why he wanted you to remain silent?

H. HEDGEHOG: He said that everything I said could be used against me. I wasn't sure what he meant, but I didn't want anything be used against me.

H. GISLUFSSON: Marsu, do you have any idea why your lawyer would say such a thing to Hans?


H. GISLUFSSON: Okay, Hans, so what happened next?

H. HEDGEHOG: Two days later, I received a phone call that there was a sale of extra fine Grade 1 worms at one specific pile of leaves in a backyard. As proteins and good nourishment are essential for my hibernation, I went there. When I arrived, somebody shouted "Boo!" and I immediately curled up into a ball. They picked me up and carried me somewhere.

H. GISLUFSSON: Could you see or hear anything?

H. HEDGEHOG: No, I was completely curled up. I already said it, it's an instinct thing. I can't fight it. Somebody frightens me, I curl up into a ball. I tell you, sometimes I really hate my hedgehog instincts. Anyway, when I uncurled, I found myself locked in some cheap motel room.

H. GISLUFSSON: A motel room?

H. HEDGEHOG: Well, it looked like a really seedy motel room, with a stained carpet, a bed full of bedbugs and a can of worms for me to eat. There was also a TV set there, but the programme was really awful. I saw on the TV news that this strange video had appeared and that the police were looking for me.

H. GISLUFSSON: It must have been terrible.

H. HEDGEHOG: Well, it wasn't so bad. The bedbugs were really yummy and that can of worms was really big. It would have lasted a while.

H. GISLUFSSON: I meant, what you saw on TV.

H. HEDGEHOG: Oh yes, yes.

H. GISLUFSSON: That was when you wrote the note?

H. HEDGEHOG: Yes, I had to find a way to tell people the truth. So I scribbled the note and when I heard footsteps outside, I slipped it under the door.

H. GISLUFSSON: And how did you escape?

H. HEDGEHOG: After a few days, I knew I needed to escape. I could fall asleep and start hibernating any day, and I really needed to clear this up before spring. I took the can opener and started manipulating the door, until it suddenly sprang open.

H. GISLUFSSON: Did you recognize where you were?

H. HEDGEHOG: No, but it looked like a cheap motel.

H. GISLUFSSON: Then you did what?

H. HEDGEHOG: I started looking for the way out of the building. Suddenly I noticed steps behind me. I started running as fast as I could. Somebody kept shouting "Stop!", but I knew I needed to escape. So I ran.

H. GISLUFSSON: Did you recognize who was after you?

H. HEDGEHOG: Not at first, I only saw something yellow. But it soon became clear that it was Marsu, the marsupilami!

To be continued...

By the way, Haldur is back on the board of editors of this blog.

Posted by Horst at 07:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2003

Armin Grewe over at the Ministry of Propaganda notices the lastest spam scam: fake weblogs with fake links to influence Google page ranks.

The frightening thing is that some of these computer-generated weblogs look frighteningly convincing. Still, I agree with Armin: It's amazing to which lengths some spammers go nowadays.

Posted by Horst at 12:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The inflation data for October is out, and at 1%, Austria is supposedly one of the European countries with the lowest inflation rates.

So why do I have the feeling that everything has become much more expensive than 1%? I checked the detailed data from the Austrian Statistics Office, and it turns out that it's the selection of goods to determine inflation that has a slight distortion effect:

According to the official data, tomatoes are 38% more expensive, green bell peppers 26%, strawberries 18%, bananas 9%, and a pork schnitzel (raw) is up 6%.

It's those things of daily use that have become significantly cheaper, like flight tickets (-17%), all-inclusive holidays (-8%), computer games (-15%) and overnight stays in foreign countries [sic!] (-12%) that make the inflation rate look so low.

Pity I don't buy airplane tickets at the same rate as tomatoes.

Posted by Horst at 09:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2003

It is with a slight note of bewildered amusement that I am following news reports on President Bush's concern about being killed in London. After all, this is supposed to be the country of his closest ally.

Nevertheless he wanted to have the Tube shut down because he was afraid somebody would blow up an Underground train while he was passing by in a car above ground — not the likeliest way to kill a politician.

Oddly, he has been in countries where politicians are killed at significantly higher rates than in the United Kingdom, with significantly less than 14,000 police to protect him — that's more than the British have troops in Iraq, by the way. Is London more dangerous than Baghdad these days?

Of course it could just be normal presidential behaviour — even Nixon used to bring along gallons of his own drinking water whenever he travelled to a foreign country. The fact that Bush was never outside a building or a car on this trip might indicate that he also brought his own air.

Update: Bush, Blair, their wives and 1,300 police officers will go to a pub tomorrow. It'll cost British taxpayers £1 million in addition to the £14 million they are already paying for the president's security.

Posted by Horst at 10:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2003

I'm being bombarded with sugar. Wherever I go, whatever I eat or drink, everything seems to contain enormous amounts of sugar. My problem is, many years ago I began to avoid sweet stuff wherever possible, and I have now reached a point where I can't stand the taste of sugar. Every Austrian's favourite breakfast — a bread roll with jam — is my nightmare.

However, it is becoming increasingly harder to avoid sweeneted foods. And what's worse, they seem to be adding more and more sugar to an increasing number of foods. The yoghurt that tasted just fine on one day becomes inedible on the next day. The soft drink machine at the library sells Coke, Coke, Coke, peach-flavoured ice tea, lemon-flavoured ice tea and Diet Coke (never mind that thus I can't avoid caffeine either). The latest craze in Austria are so-called "wellness drinks", flavoured with herb extracts and lots of sugar — so much sugar that the Austrian consumer association warned that these "healthy" drinks are actually quite unhealthy.

Now a study at the University of North Carolina has shown that the amount of sugar in soft drinks has almost doubled in the past 25 years, resulting in an increased calorie intake that may well be responsible for the "obesity epidemic" in western countries.

The problem is that anything that doesn't contain sugar contains aspartame to simulate the taste of sugar, and not only does that taste even more awful, it may also present a serious health hazard.

As one of the researchers put it, "There's zero benefit in sugar." So why is the food industry force-feeding it to us then?

Posted by Horst at 08:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Hetty Litjens writes that mentioning Michael Jackson on your weblog will immediately boost traffic and get you lots of extra hits. This is stupid. I would never mention Michael Jackson on my weblog just to fish for extra hits.

Update: I know you probably expected a different Michael Jackson, but he's just become a bit too scary.

Posted by Horst at 12:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

November 22, 2003

A fraction of the cost of the Iraq war would be enough to feed the world's poor and help boost peace and security, the head of the United Nations food agency said yesterday.

"We look at tens of billions being spent today in Iraq ... (With) even a small percentage of the commitment that the world has made to Iraq, you could feed every hungry child in the world," James Morris, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), told a news conference. [via Hetty]

Posted by Horst at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

All of Austria is currently curiously following the daily installments in the reality show, "What Does It Take To Make The Finance Minister Resign?" New accusations are brought forward almost every day, but so far the finance minister shows no willingness to resign at all.

At the moment he is being accused of tax evasion, abuse of authority, wrongfully accepting gifts, not informing parliament on crucial matters of state, accepting money on behalf of a non-existent foundation, not declaring his stock portfolio, intervening on behalf of his former employer in the purchase of fighter jets for the Austrian army.

So far, he has not come up with any explanation or excuse other than that there is no reason for him to resign. The sole announcement from his press secretary was, "This is totally ridiculous."

So how low must a politician's credibility sink until he'll resign? Unfortunately, role models like Silvio Berlusconi would suggest that even 0% credibility can still keep a politician in office these days.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hello, this is Haldur again. Even though the affair that led to my retirement from the weblog three weeks ago hasn't fully been cleared up yet, there are now enough clues to suggest that Horst is indeed innocent, so I am temporarily back to bring you the latest news on the moose sausage mystery.

Today I can present you the second part of the interview I conducted with Hans the hedgehog and Marsu the marsupilami (part one here) last Tuesday. Sorry for the delay, but it took me a while to type this transcript from the tape I recorded during the interview.

At the end of part one, Hans told us how he managed to escape from what looked like a seedy motel, and how he was pursued by Marsu.

This is how the story continues:

INTERROGATION TRANSCRIPT   PART 2    Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

Interviewer: GISLUFSSON, Haldur
Suspects: HEDGEHOG, Hans; MARSUPILAMI, Marsu.

H. GISLUFSSON: Well, we have some evidence from a traffic camera that would indicate that you may have been pursued by Marsu.

H. HEDGEHOG: It was him alright. I mean, I recognize a marsupilami when something yellow with black spots is running after me, shouting "Houba! Houba!".

H. GISLUFSSON: Didn't you say that he was shouting "Stop!"?

H. HEDGEHOG: He was shouting "stop" in marsupilami language.

H. GISLUFSSON: What then?

H. HEDGEHOG: We kept running for a while, until we were stopped by the police, who brought us here.

H. GISLUFSSON: I see. Marsu, can you explain why you were running after Hans?

M. MARSUPILAMI: Certainly. I had just liberated him from that awful place and wanted to bring him back home, but he seemed to panic and was running in the wrong direction. That's why I told him to stop.

H. GISLUFSSON: You liberated Hans?

M. MARSUPILAMI: Absolutely. I had managed to track Hans down to that place. I heard some weird sounds, like whispering and scratching behind the door — that must have been when Hans was trying to open it with the can opener. The key was in the lock on the outside, so I simply unlocked and opened the door. Hans came out and started running away in the wrong direction. So I ran after him.

H. GISLUFSSON: How did you find the motel?


H. GISLUFSSON: The motel where Hans was.

M. MARSUPILAMI: I beg your pardon?

H. GISLUFSSON: The place from which you liberated Hans. Hans said it looked like a cheap motel.

M. MARSUPILAMI: Hans was locked in a garden shed. A small, wooden garden shed.


H. HEDGEHOG: Well, there was a stained carpet in there, a pile of leaves as a bed, lots of bugs, and a can of worms.

H. GISLUFSSON: So it could have been a garden shed?

H. HEDGEHOG: You may call it a garden shed, but we hedgehogs call seedy buildings in which we usually stay overnight "motels".

H. GISLUFSSON: I see. Marsu, how did you find out where Hans was kept prisoner?

M. MARSUPILAMI: That was easy. I had the pink piece of paper on which Hans had written his call for help. I knew I had to save him. I just followed the trail.


M. MARSUPILAMI: Scent. We marsupilamis have a superior sense of smell. It took a few days, but I finally found him.

H. GISLUFSSON: Couldn't you have started looking for him much earlier?

M. MARSUPILAMI: Well, before that note we saw that video footage and thought he was a dangerous terrorist. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to mess with a dangerous terrorist.

H. GISLUFSSON: You could have assisted the police in finding Hans.

M. MARSUPILAMI: Well, yes... but my lawyer had told me not to tell them anything.


M. MARSUPILAMI: He said that everything I said could be used against me, and I didn't want that to happen.

H. GISLUFSSON: Why would your lawyer say such a thing?

M. MARSUPILAMI: I don't know, but I guess my record of practical jokes might have something to do with it. It could imply me as a suspect.

H. GISLUFSSON: And your lawyer is trustworthy?

M. MARSUPILAMI: Absolutely. He was very successful in a number of lawsuits that I had to endure because of practical jokes that went awry...

H. GISLUFSSON: Erm, just for the record, what's his name?

M. MARSUPILAMI: Bjørn-Hugo Goa-orm.

H. GISLUFSSON: What kind of weird name is that?

M. MARSUPILAMI: Well, it's not much weirder than "Haldur Gislufsson".

H. GISLUFSSON: Um. Hm. Well. So about the moose sausage...

M. MARSUPILAMI: I know nothing about it.

H. GISLUFSSON: You surely must have seen something.

M. MARSUPILAMI: It was really dark, you see...

H. GISLUFSSON: So you did see something?

M. MARSUPILAMI: There was this intense smell...

H. GISLUFSSON: Like smoked insect larvae?

M. MARSUPILAMI: I have no idea what smoked insect larvae smell like. It was more like...

H. GISLUFSSON: Smoked moose sausage?

M. MARSUPILAMI: No, like smoked piranhas, only not fishy.

H. GISLUFSSON: Piranhas, not fishy? Something sure seems to smell fishy here. Are you sure you didn't see anything?

M. MARSUPILAMI: There was this strange...

BJ.-H. GOA-ORM: I demand that you thtop quethtioning my client immediately!

At this point I had to stop the interview, as Bjørn-Hugo Goa-orm had barged in and demanded that I immediately stop questioning his clients.

This is getting more and more complicated. I really wonder what I should do next...

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 01:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 24, 2003

So did I get more hits from Google for mentioning Michael Jackson on my weblog? Nope, not really. The most popular Google search terms leading to my site are still "pictures of rocks", "evil empire" and "goulash".

Posted by Horst at 11:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 25, 2003

The Austrian railway strike may be over, but the Conservative government is still pushing the controversial law that may well drive the railway into bankruptcy further onward. A number of experts were invited to report about possible results of the planned reform; when it turned out their reports would be unfavourable of the reform, their invitations were cancelled again.

In a separate hearing organised by the Social Democrats, one of the experts, Jon Shaw of the University of Aberdeen, pointed out the results of railway privatisation in Great Britain. At the same time, the Transport Secretary held a press conference in which he again affirmed that his reform was modeled after "other successful railway reforms in Europe".

The only problem is that there has been no successful railway reform in Europe. All the "reformed" railways require more money, are less reliable and offer worse service than before privatisation.

Update: The Austrian Control Court president has today re-affirmed his criticism and complained that he was unable to check the government's financial projections because the government wouldn't give him the required information "to protect the railway's competitiveness".

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yes, I admit it, I watched Finding Nemo like apparently everyone else did. I had hoped for the subtle, sophisticated humour of A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2 or Monsters, Inc., but I only got a pretty average Disney movie, which, according to the pitch of the laughter in the cinema, appealed to the children, but not really to the adults, nor to me. This is my first disappointment with a Pixar movie.

Richard Curtis's new movie Love Actually again raises the question whether, as in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill he is showing an England that exists somewhere in the back of his head, or whether he's just selling a sugared package to the rest of the world — it certainly doesn't exist in real life. The movie is enjoyable enough, heartwarming and genuinely funny, and has so many beautiful actresses in it that I invite you to guess which two of them I found the most attractive.

Was it Sir Paul McCartney's idea to name the re-issue of the classic 1970 Beatles album Let It Be... Naked? I mean, can you get any cheesier? Technically, it's flawless, but sdaly, the material isn't their best, and here it becomes obvious just how much Phil Spector's production turned mediocrity into a good album, whereas the remix sounds mostly, well naked. Apart from a few minor improvements, it's now obvious why John and George thought the material needed to be souped up.

There's a new album from Lamb, Between Darkness and Wonder, and it's an improvement over the past two albums, but it's a far cry from the peppy cockiness of their debut, which still stands unchallenged as their masterpiece. But if this one doesn't win them the hearts and minds of urban thirtysomethings, nothing else will.

Finally, Mark E. Smith apparently got married again, and it seems to have given him back some focus musically, for The Real New Fall LP, formerly 'Country on the Click' (yes, that is the actual title) is a true return to form. In their 26th year, this is their 25th "proper" album, and about their 80th total. As usual, the Fall have a new line-up and are with a different record label, but who cares? They haven't sounded this good in a long time.

Posted by Horst at 02:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Funny, just a few days after I started thinking that this might be happening soon, it actually did happen: I just received a spam mail that was sent by myself! Actually, it was a bounce-back from an undeliverable address, but it clearly stated me as the sender. Only I'm quite sure that none of my multiple personalities is a spammer, which means that these w*nkers used my address to send out their garbage.

Gary Turner has noticed the same thing, only he's receiving some 100 server bounce-backs per day. Niek Hockx reports the same phenomenon. Apparently someone is now using their harvested e-mail addresses not just as addressees, but also as senders of spam.

Which means that my name will soon appear on spammer blacklists and my ISP will soon threaten to shut down my account and connection. Not funny. The more these things happen, the more am I convinced that these people don't really want to sell anything: they want to shut down the Internet. With this latest trick they have taken a decisive step to make e-mail as we know it totally unuseable.

Against spam-related anger and aggression I recommend the very hot chicken curry published today over at The Aardvark Cooks.

Posted by Horst at 05:39 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

November 26, 2003

Bjørn-Hugo Goa-OrmThere's a new development in the moose sausage mystery (readers who don't know what I'm talking about, follow this link, where you will find the full story). Bjørn-Hugo Goa-Orm (see picture on the left), the lawyer of the three suspects, has shown up again and demanded that I am not just to stop talking to his clients, but to cease my investigations altogether. However, I have this nagging feeling that I'm closer to the solution of this mystery than ever before, and that it would be stupid to stop now. Besides, for some weird reason I don't entirely trust this lawyer. If you have an idea what I could do next, just leave a comment.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 12:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2003

I am definitely working too much at the moment. Need some sleep. Need to take a few days off. Be back later.

Posted by Horst at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2003

I had a delightful evening with Andy and Zoe on Friday. Apart from the fact that the English language algorithm in my brain just wouldn't work properly that evening and I spent most of the time searching for the right words, and the problem that I'm slightly deaf and didn't understand Andy all too well because of the background noise, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Amongst other things, we talked about the two Michael Jacksons, people with no sense of humour, Zoe's wish to receive hate mail, and what writing too much about fluffy animals can do to your reputation.

The high point of the evening may or may not have been the Pringle moment (remember the TV ad in which the lids pop off the cans of industrially engineered potato snacks?), when a young woman at a nearby table with an extremely low-cut V-neck sweater leaned forward in a more-than-suggestive way towards the guy sitting at the table with her (see more on Zoe's blog).

I have to admit that I hate it when this happens to me, because when it does, a mixture of my hormones and caveman insticts kick in immediately, and I cannot not look. It's totally embarrassing, but I can't help it. No need to pretend I'm civilised. The guy at the table was, apparently. Or he was putting up a brave fight, for he actually managed to look the woman in the eyes the whole time. Or so it seemed from where we were sitting. Andy was mesmerised. I was stunned. By the guy, not the woman.

If I find myself in such a situation and can feel my eyes moving up and down too much, my solution usually is to fixate some point in the distance. It actually gives me a slight air of absent-mindedness or artsy coolness, which is a nice contrast to appearing like the primitive caveman that I actually am and may distract my vis-à-vis from my true self.

Which makes me realise that I have no idea whether the Pringle moment is called thus because the women's breasts pop out of her sweater, or the man's eyes pop out of their sockets. Either way it explains why in some cultures the men make the women wear weird, sack-like clothes, and why in other cultures the women make the men wear blindfolds.

Posted by Horst at 12:03 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Whenever I do things, I am confronted with the decision when and how to stop. I'm not talking about this weblog, don't worry. I'm talking generally. Anyway, sometimes the decision of stopping comes after a prolonged period of suffering. And sometimes it comes after a brief period of happiness.

Like I'm teaching this course in presentation techniques at the moment, which takes a lot of time and effort to prepare and for which I receive a ridiculously low payment. I'm teaching it this semester, and I just decided not to offer it again next year. And the reason for this is not primarily that it takes such a lot of preparation time, or that I'm badly paid.

The main reason is that the course is going so well. I have this group of 18 people, and they may be using some cunning plan to deceive me, but they seem to be really into it, and everything is (so far, knock-on-wood) going really well.

In teaching, like cooking, the first attempt either works perfectly well, or it goes completely awry. Had this gone awry, I might have tried again. As it is, it feels like the perfect time to stop. Doing it again can only make it worse, and I wouldn't want that to happen.

Posted by Horst at 11:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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