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

February 2004 Archive

February 01, 2004

You may remember that a while ago there was a lot of fuss about a moose sausage on this weblog, but there haven't been any updates since December 19th, when Hans the hedgehog, one of the prime suspects, suddenly started hibernating and was henceforth unavailable for any further questioning. A few people have now inquired about the current state of affairs.

As it happens, things haven't progressed very far from where we left off. There is something of a major mystery about Hans, who is still hibernating. Also, I have somewhat lost interest in the whole affair. The sausage has mysteriously disappeared a while ago (most likely it was eaten by mice), no other disquieting things have happened, and Horst has been really nice to me lately, so I'm fairly convinced he has nothing to do with it. It's possible I'll ask Hans a few more questions when he wakes up, but I might also just leave everything as it is now.

Sorry to disappoint those of you who wanted to know who did it, but I really don't know myself, and I doubt I'll ever find out. If I do, I'll let you know immediately.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 08:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

February 02, 2004

I noticed that many weblogs have a section where the author answers readers' questions about him/herself. I decided to lift the shroud of mystery in which I have been enveloping myself. For a limited period only, I will answer personal questions. Starting today, you have one week during which you can ask me anything you'd like to know about me. Just click here and ask your question(s). Depending on how many questions come in, I will answer all of them or a selected few next week.

New recipes at The Aardvark Cooks: Chicken curry in yoghurt sauce and Tarka dal.

Posted by Horst at 12:15 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

I just had a look at the latest craze in the blogosphere, a social network site called Orkut and was pretty surprised by the amount of data they're collecting. Especially the fields in the "professional" profile were kind of spooky. Given the kind of detail into which they were going, I was surprised they didn't ask my annual salary. Of course you don't have to fill any of the fields if you don't want to, and most likely it's just me being paranoid, but if they ever choose to make their database available to any commercial service, there's a lot of money in this.

Update: Seems I'm at least not the only one who's paranoid. There's a pretty good article on why you should read the Orkut Terms of Service over at arvebersvendsen.

Posted by Horst at 05:30 PM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2004

Okay, so after some thinking I think have finally come up with a list of five deeply romantic scenes on film. I'm not sure if they're my top five, and this may still need some revising, but anyway I thought I'd share them. Just tell me if my sense of what's romantic and what's not is really as twisted as others would have me believe.

  • The ending of Amélie, when Nino finally arrives at Amélie's door and she lets him in. Plus, of course, their game of hide-and-seek in front of Sacre Coeur.
  • The ending of The Apartment, from when Fran Kubelik runs to C.C.'s apartment, popping cork and all, to "Shut up and deal". I also love it when he cooks pasta for her with the tennis racquet.
  • Towards the end of Secretary, from when Mr Grey carries Lee up the stairs to when he answers her questions with "Des Moines, Iowa".
  • From Hana-Bi, Nishi and his wife next to the bell and in the zen garden. And, of course, when he "guesses" the cards in the car.
  • From Lady and the Tramp, the spaghetti dinner.

The list of moving-to-tears scenes is still under construction. Results will be announced later.

Posted by Horst at 01:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Or not. Actually, it just seems to be a bizarre case of synchronicity. Just a few days after I'm writing some semi-serious, semi-joking postings about Taurus women and indulging in bizarre fantasies, I'm suddenly getting an awful lot of hits (over 300, to be precise) coming from this page yesterday. At first I wasn't sure what to make of it, as it doesn't say a lot and simply points to my May archive without any further explanation.

However, on closer inspection it turns out that the link is coming from this site and its intention is obviously to link to the picture of the plaster cast I was wearing last May after I broke my arm. And I suddenly realise this is all about people indulging in what some might refer to as bizarre fantasies.

I suppose this should teach me a lesson not to talk about fantasies too lightly. At any rate, I can assure you it feels a bit spooky to realise that my plastercasted arm has become the object of 300 people's fantasies. I can also assure you that my own bizarre fantasies do not involve plaster casts.

Posted by Horst at 02:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 04, 2004

It seems I am also one of the "morons who throttle search engines with writing that has no purpose", even though I'm not sipping latte, not using an iMac, don't live in the suburbs and am not a WASP. So will this thoughtful piece of weblog critique make me stop writing my weblog? Why, of course not. Making Google useless and flooding the WWW with pointless blah blah in an attempt to distract everybody from the real me is why I'm doing this in the first place. [Thx to ad++ for the link].

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

On my way to work I witness an almost daily spectacle, an interesting, if slightly absurd and totally futile display of human behaviour, which is, I suppose, representative of the human condition itself.

Almost every morning, as I walk along the corridor that leads to the library entrance, I will typically see a would-be patron (a different one every day) approach the entrance to the library, have a look at his/her wristwatch, notice (or perhaps not) that it's 8:50am, have a look at the sign on the library door, notice (or perhaps not) that the library opens at 9 o'clock, approach the door further, and pull really hard in a hopelessly futile attempt to open it.

Seeing that the door does not open, the would-be patron will either again check their watch and notice (or perhaps not) that it's 8:50am, or have another look at the sign and notice (or perhaps not) that the door is open between 9am and 7pm, and will once again try to open it. As the attempt to open the locked door will invariably fail, the would-be patron will then take a step back, advance to the next library entrance 7 metres further down the corridor, grab the door handle and again pull very hard.

However, this door won't open either.

This morning I spoke to today's would-be patron. "The library opens at 9 o'clock," I said.

The would-be patron had a look at his watch. "Yes?" he asked, as if he still didn't understand why the door was locked.

"That's in ten minutes," I said. The would-be patron had another look at his watch. Suddenly he seemed to understand.

"Oh," he said.

This "oh" was a marvel to behold. It encapsulated in an unique way a human being's full realisation that if it's 8:50am now and the library opens at 9am, he will have to wait for another 10 minutes until he can get in.

I maintain the firm belief that while the human brain has at some point invented the clock, it has not yet evolved to a state where it can actively make use of it (I myself am, for example, hopeless when it comes to dates, schedules and appointments). Given that, someone really ought to forbid us to play around with even more complicated, more dangerous objects such as, for example, nuclear bombs.

Posted by Horst at 02:15 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

February 07, 2004


I'm not sure what's happening. I just find that I haven't written anything on this weblog in the past 3 days. But of course you knew that already.

Posted by Horst at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 09, 2004

It's official: Austrian finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser did not have to pay any taxes for the €283,000 which he received as a donation from the Austrian Industrialists' Association, because of that sum €240,000 were spent on the minister's website.

Can you imagine — €240,000 (about $290,000) for a website? And since everybody in the minister's party is acting like it's the most normal thing on earth to pay such an amount of money for web design, I realise now that I'm a complete and utter fool working away as a measly librarian for a handful of euros every week. See, if the minister's website is worth €240,000, then the website that I designed for the Vienna University Library must at least be worth €260,000. Which means that all I'll do in the future is redesign that website every three or four years and just live off that money the rest of the time. Seems I already had a dream job without even noticing it.

Now excuse me while I get that invoice for those €260,000 out to my employer...

Posted by Horst at 07:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Ever since he and his girlfriend split a while ago, a friend of mine has been looking for a new partner, so far without success. Apparently, people keep telling him he may just be trying to hard. When I told him the same thing recently, he replied that that was not the problem.

"In the beginning," he said, "I had thought that the problem would be meeting single women in their mid-thirties. However, that wasn't the problem. As it turns out, there are plenty of single women in their mid-thirties."

The real problem, he said, was Avoiding The Cat.

Empirical data collected throughout his 1+ year search for a female partner would suggest that at least 9 out of 10 single women over the age of 30 have a cat. Now his problem is that he, like myself, is extremely allergic to cats. Since telling a prospective partner "it's either me or the cat" doesn't sound like a very promising start for a new relationship, his search has so far been unsuccessful.

In the beginning, he said, he had still hoped that eventually he would find a single woman without a cat. However, after a year or so had given up. He said that to Avoid The Cat he now feels compelled to look for a younger girlfriend. It seems that most women get their cat around the age of 27 or 28. This is now his new target age, even though he feels that what is really just the search for a catless woman might be misconstrued as a symptom of a mid-life crisis.

His experience made me think, and I began to realise that indeed every woman over 30 that I know is either in a relationship or has a cat. On the other hand, no single male that I know has a cat or has ever even expressed the wish to have a cat.

What this says about the female psyche I don't know, but I'm sure it must mean something.

Posted by Horst at 02:48 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack (1)

February 10, 2004

This is quite fascinating... the personal website of Indian cinematographer/director Santosh Sivan, whose work (especially Dil se, The Terrorist and Asoka) I admire greatly for the stunning beauty of its cinematography. On his site, Sivan shares some of his thoughts on photography, cinematography, light and making films in general.

Santosh Sivan's IMDb profile is here, but you should really watch The Terrorist or Dil se to appreciate his visual art. He is also responsible for the cinematography of Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen's classic by Gurinder Chadha, the director of Bend It Like Beckham, in cinemas later this year.

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

February 11, 2004

In my "Ask Horst" campaign, there have been so few questions that I either won't bother answering them or I'll have to think up a couple of additional questions to make this in any way interesting. I'll keep you informed. Not that it seems that you're actually interested...

Still no Taurus woman. As I'm getting increasingly obsessed with this whole thing, I'm beginning to think that the horoscope may have been right after all: I'm spending quite some time with an imaginary Taurus woman, or thinking/fantasizing about Taurus women, and if I remember correctly, the horoscope said nothing about the Taurus woman being a real (as opposed to imaginary) woman. Bummer. Or maybe I'll be lucky within the next 18 days after all.

As this weblog is slowing down in terms of textual output, I'm now thinking about starting a fictitious, anonymous weblog somewhere else. I already have a catchy title and subject matter for it, but unfortunately, I can tell you neither the title, nor what it's about, nor the address where you will find it, because if I do, it's not anonymous any more. Bummer. Maybe I'll just inform you when I start writing it (I haven't started yet).

Posted by Horst at 11:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

February 12, 2004

70 years ago today, on 12 February 1934, the Austrian fascist dictator Engelbert Dollfuss started a bloody civil war against the Social Democrat movement, which left hundreds of people dead (some claim as many as 1500). The fascists, backed by the military and the paramilitary Heimwehr troops, won after four days of fighting; the resistance was finally broken when artillery was sent in to fire at council houses. The surviving leaders of the resistance were executed, all political parties other than Dollfuss's Vaterländische Front ("patriotic front") were declared illegal and the opposition politicians sent to internment camps.

In a twist of irony, Dollfuss himself was killed by Nazi assassins later the same year, and when the Nazis took over Austria in 1938, the Austrian fascists found themselves in the same internment camps to which they had sent their opponents four years earlier. Having eliminated the Social Democrats turned out to be their greatest mistake, for without them there was not even the slightest resistance against the growth of the rising Nazi movement in Austria.

Oddly, even today the Austrian Conservative party still reveres the fascist dictator and sees him as a major resistance fighter against Hitler and a patriotic democrat. How odd. While it is true that Dollfuss fervently opposed the Nazis (he sought a close alliance with Italy's Mussolini instead), dissolving parliament, re-introducing the death penalty, declaring all political parties illegal and firing at council houses doesn't strike me as particularly democratic.

Update: A couple of political activists wearing Heimwehr uniforms demonstrated against the misconception of Dollfuss as a martyr today. Actor Hubsi Kramar, one of the activists, called Dollfuss a "fascist dictator and mass murderer" and appealed to the Conservative Party to distance themselves from Dollfuss's politics and to remove his portrait from their parliamentary office.

Posted by Horst at 11:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (2)

Nope, this is not about me and non-existent Taurus women, it's what Arnold Schwarzenegger feels. In response to the delay in the execution of convicted murderer Kevin Cooper, Schwarzenegger said he was "frustrated" that the execution could not go ahead as quickly as planned because a court is investigating new evidence.

As a result of the Kevin Cooper affair, the city council of his hometown of Graz, Austria is currently debating whether to revoke Schwarzenegger's honorary citizenship and to rename the Arnold Schwarzenegger football stadium. As a first step, they have decided to send the Governator an appeal to abolish the death penalty in California.

Posted by Horst at 10:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 13, 2004

As is to be expected from a Friday the 13th, today has been hell so far, so I'm going to cheer myself (and you, dear reader) up by posting a link to... favourite Indian film song of the moment: Woh ladki hai kahan ("Where is that girl?") from Dil Chahta Hai, which I got from a friend on DVD as a Christmas present. The main musical influence here seems to be Irish, of all things. I love Indian eclecticism (and I apologize for the poor sound quality, but at least the clip seems to be legal. Lyrics, with English translation, are here, by the way).

Posted by Horst at 02:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

February 14, 2004

I received my first Swedish spam today. Interestingly, it was not for a Swedish-made penis enlarger, but for a handbook to improve one's writing style ("Skriv bättre — en guldgruva för dem som arbeter med texter"). It's something of a relief to see that the Swedes are trying to achieve personal success through means other than Viagra, Valium, Xanax or penis enlargers.

Posted by Horst at 10:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

February 17, 2004

My digital camera's manual contains a warning that the camera should not, under no circumstances, be opened, because if you touch anything inside, you may get a lethal high voltage shock. How this is possible with a camera operated on a 9V battery remains a mystery.

A while ago it rained, then froze. The ground in the university courtyard got so slippery that you could barely walk. It was really dangerous. Not just one icy patch, but ice everywhere. Every five metres or so they had put up warning signs "careful — slippery surface". Well, duh. If you hadn't noticed the slippery surface by then, the sign certainly wouldn't make a difference.

Many years ago, the city put up exactly the same warning signs in a subway underpass near the university. Only the floor surface down there was never particularly slippery at all. Still, these signs used to be a permanent fixture there, every day, in every weather. Then they changed the old plasticky floor tiles to new ones made of polished granite. They also removed the "slippery surface" signs. Only these new floor tiles do get very slippery when wet. Very recently, they re-installed the warning signs.

There's a sign in one particular underground station that says: "It's dangerous to jump on the tracks." I'd never have guessed. The same goes for a cigarette lighter, whose instructions contained a warning that "this lighter may set objects on fire".

How we made it through thousands of years of evolution without all those warning signs is totally, completely beyond me.

Posted by Horst at 02:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 18, 2004

Via Annie Mole comes Animals on the Underground. It's not about real animals, but animal shapes hidden in the London Underground map.

Via Der Standard comes a Flash game featuring Austrian finance minister Karlheinz Grasser, who is in trouble over the unclear financing (and possible tax evasion) of his private website: in Kalleinz Go! you must throw as much money as possible into the barrels of your friends' online companies, out of the window or into the fire.

Via Dave Gillmor comes a link to an excellent article on Why and How Not to Use HTML in E-Mail. This is required reading.

Today, Davezilla brings us George W. Bush's Amazon wishlist and promises the wishlists of the other candidates over the next few days.

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

February 19, 2004

For an exercise in collective mythmaking, go over to Jeff Jarvis and read what he thinks are the things that make America exceptional. Be sure to read the 200+ comments as well to get the full picture. [thx Armin]

Posted by Horst at 11:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Koloman Wallisch before his execution

Koloman Wallisch, an Austrian democrat, was murdered by the Austrian fascists 40 years ago today. It was a purely political murder, intended as a blow against the democratic forces in Austria. Wallisch was executed for his involvement in the 1934 uprising against the fascists, although he had been one of the few Social Democrats who had opposed the uprising and there was no evidence against him. The picture above shows him two hours before his execution.

Posted by Horst at 10:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 20, 2004

to find a Taurus woman re bizarre fantasies. I'm afraid the whole thing is becoming more and more unlikely.

Posted by Horst at 02:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 21, 2004

Testing the iSight camera again

Apple released an update for their iSight camera. Click on the picture above to see if Haldur still makes the image go blue (1.2 MB movie, requires QuickTime 6).

N.B.: Safari seems to have a problem displaying the video, which is odd, since I'm following Apple's specs for embedding MP4 movies to the letter. All other browsers are working fine.

Posted by Horst at 03:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Need further proof that writing weblogs is all about sharing your Daily Banality? Here we go:

After four years of indecision and endless deliberations, I finally bought a new refrigerator today. This must have been the longest time I've ever spent on deciding on a purchase. In case you were wondering, I feel pretty relieved and happy now. It feels good to prove all those people wrong who were convinced that I'd never get a new refrigerator. It also feels good to finally have a new refrigerator. It's a real beauty. Here's a picture of it:

CFS 300 Kühlschrank

N.B.: Please do not be confused by the fact that the text is in Slovak language and the price in Slovak currency. I bought the German language version and paid €359.

My old refrigerator will be available on eBay in a couple of days.

Posted by Horst at 05:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

February 22, 2004

The Top 52 Reasons to Vote Republican in 2004 — or not. [via Al on IRC]

Gay penguin for America — finally a candidate who makes sense [via Greengrl]

Which Peanuts character are you? — I'd rather not say. [via vowe]

Donald Rumsfeld fighting techniques — crouching tiger, hidden monkey [via Presurfer]

Posted by Horst at 12:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 23, 2004

I have been out of circulation for most of today with a terrible toothache. Will see the dentist tomorrow. Blogging will resume as soon as the pain has reached a level that will allow me to think again. At the moment I feel like Spock mind-melding with the Horta (explanation for non-Trekkies is here).

In other news: you now have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy my old refrigerator, but you'll have to come to my place to collect it.

Posted by Horst at 11:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 26, 2004

I feel like a human being again. Turns out it was actually two teeth that were causing me to feel like Spock on a constant mind-meld with the Horta. I'll spare you the gory details, let me just tell you that in the process of all this I found out that local anaesthetics don't work too well in an acidic environment such as seriously inflamed gums.

Plus, I kind of understand Nate from Six Feet Under now, who has this nice line in the pilot episode:

Nate: I don't even have the self-discipline to floss daily. I've had four root canals. Four. I am 35. I've had four root canals.

Well, I'm 36, but other than that I feel with Nate.

And while we're talking about teeth, the Doonesbury website has a link to George W. Bush's dental record from 1973, when he was supposedly on National Guard duty — seems at age 28 Dubya's teeth were in significantly worse condition than mine are at age 36. And while I'm certainly here, the question about Dubya remains: His teeth were there, but was he? Doonesbury will pay $10,000 to anyone who can prove he was.

Posted by Horst at 09:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

February 27, 2004

I am convinced that the Swedes are really the Borg in disguise. I mean look at it, they're everywhere — Tetrapak, H&M, and worst of all, Ikea. Just to prove how assimilated I am, I freely admit that my whole flat is basically an Ikea showroom.

And while I'm mentioning it, Ikea is the perfect example for how insidious a shop can be: they have such an awful lot of clever, well-designed items that you always end up buying tons of things you really don't need while you're likely forgetting what you really wanted to buy because you're so overwhelmed. I started making lists of things I want to buy whenever I go to Ikea, but it's futile — I still end up buying more things that were not on the list than things that were.

Today's visit was particularly tedious. All I wanted was an Applåd door for my kitchen, which hadn't been available on my last visit, a kitchen wastebasket and three fake flowers, plus a Lysvik power socket module.

Oddly enough, and possibly for the first time ever, I ended up buying less than I had intended to buy, basically because I thought that €24.95 was a bit steep for the Lysvik module. But the time it took me to not buy a lot of other things must have been a new record. I think I spent about two hours inside Ikea, 20 minutes for getting the things that I wanted, and 100 minutes for taking things I didn't need at all, pondering if I really needed them, carting them through half the shop, pondering some more, then carting them back to where I had taken them and putting them back. I think I went through each department at least three times.

Ingvar Kamprad, or whoever the person was who designed these shops, is a brilliant genius. And significantly more dangerous than Locutus of Borg.

Posted by Horst at 08:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2004

Currently working like mad on the proposal for my paper at Blogtalk 2004. Contrary to last year, when my proposal was a bit lame, I think I have a really entertaining, provocative topic this year, and I really want to present it. So I have to make it snappy to impress the steering committee. Argh.

Spent this afternoon not buying a printer. I had almost settled for a €199 printer/scanner combo from Epson when, remembering my previous experience, I checked the price of its ink cartridges and noticed that a full set costs €96 — the black cartridge alone is a whopping €42. Probably get something similar from HP instead.

Also spent this afternoon buying all kinds of frozen food just to fill my newly acquired freezer. It's so odd when you can suddenly buy all sorts of frozen stuff and don't have to eat them within a day or two. It's an exhilarating experience. However, once I started thinking about it, I felt totally decadent.

Posted by Horst at 11:54 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

February 29, 2004

The sign "Dogs must be carried on the escalator" does not mean you cannot use the escalator unless you are carrying a dog and can therefore safely be ignored if you don't have a dog with you.

Questions like "Do you think I'm a fool?" are not meant as inquiries about the speaker's state of mind and can therefore safely be left unanswered unless you are the person's psychoanalyst.

The sign "Wear a hard hat" at construction sites does not mean that there is a new general decree requiring everybody to wear hard hats and can therefore safely be ignored unless you are actually entering the site.

The sign "DO THE LAUNDRY!!!" which I attached to my bathroom door a while ago was not so much a reminder to do housework as rather a stark warning that I will soon run out of clean socks and underwear if I don't, and should therefore have been heeded at all costs.

Posted by Horst at 10:40 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

And to celebrate this leap day, I'm happy to announce that two of my dearest friends had their first child today. Little Zeno is 51cm "tall" and weighs 3370 grams. Mother and child are well. Apparently he looked a bit grumpy when he was told he'll be able to celebrate his birthday only every four years, but other than that he seems to be happy. The parents are happy too, but they are under the influence of the baby schema and can't be trusted. Anyway, all the best!

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

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