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

April 2004 Archive


April 01, 2004

Yes, it is a gruesome story of barbaric and despicable behaviour, but just remember that things like this, and things worse than this, happen in many countries of the world every day. It's just that usually no Americans are the victims and no American journalists are present, so nobody writes about it.

Anybody who still thinks that the Iraqis are happy about the American occupation better take a reality check. Read what Noam Chomsky has to say about it. Be thankful that nothing worse has happened so far. Hope that this madness stops soon.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 08:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

...but Richard, Haldur and I agreed that it was time to make an explicit political statement about the upcoming Austrian presidential elections. We put a banner in the sidebar just so you know who we think you should vote for.

Posted by Horst at 01:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


April 03, 2004

I am currently receiving junk e-mail at a rate of about 6 spams per hour. It's significantly worse on my office account, where I get about 12-15 per hour. Somehow I don't think I'll be using e-mail a lot in a year or so. Neither does sixtus.net [article in German, thx IT&W].

Posted by Horst at 12:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (2)


April 04, 2004

A gang of elks has been spotted over at Greengrl's blog. You better take care. They sound really dangerous. They are apparently already intimidating a business of ferrets.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 01:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


April 05, 2004

Google is becoming more and more frightening. Indeed, the way it is quietly collecting more and more data about users is reaching a level that can only be termed "spooky". It started innocently enough with websites. There was some irritation when people found out that Google is storing every single search request placed from a particular computer. Then, via Orkut, they started collecting information about people and their network of friends. Fairly extensive information, I might add.

Now comes GMail, a webmail service which promises 1GB of free e-mail storage for every user. It will, of course, be fully searchable, and financed via Google Ads, which generates topic-related ads from the content of web pages.

Which means that each and every single email that you send with or keep on GMail will be analyzed, indexed and evaluated to generate these ads. Essentially, Google will read your mail and use whatever you write about for commercial purposes. And maybe I'm paranoid, but it's only one small step from here to using the information about your search habits, your network of friends and the contents of your e-mails for something more sinister.

I think that Google is now approaching a level where it has access to way too much information to be still considered harmless. What's even more frightening is how people are willingly giving all the information to Google. [thx SWR]

Posted by Horst at 03:01 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


April 06, 2004

...and brought to the reference desk while I was on duty there last Wednesday between 4pm and 8pm:

  • a cloakroom key
  • a red mobile phone
  • a stack of books about improving your sex life
  • a copy card with 152 copies left on it
  • a blue mobile phone
  • a gray mobile phone
  • a second cloakroom key
  • a huge, empty rucksack
  • a set of keys
  • a computer game (original CD-ROM and manual)
  • a stack of sociology lecture notes
  • a copy card with 20 copies left on it
  • a cello
  • a hovercraft full of eels

Yes, a cello. I kid you not. I suppose last Wednesday was The Day Of Lost Items. As it happens, the cloakroom key, the gray mobile phone and the cello were collected later on, but if you're still missing your red or blue mobile phone, the key to your flat, or your computer game, please come to the library and get them.

If you want us to deposit the books in a discreet place, just drop me a note.

Posted by Horst at 10:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


April 07, 2004

Microsoft Office for the rest of your life

I think Apple should be a lot more careful with ad slogans that are unintentionally ambiguous and could be misconstrued as a threat.

Posted by Horst at 02:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

I'm afraid that this will further convince some people that I have way too much time on my hands (which isn't true), but I can proudly announce that after weeks of work, I have finally finished this:

London Underground Map translated into German
(Click to enlarge, approx. 320K)

Yes, it's the London Underground map translated into German. Some of it was translated literally, for some I had to check out the etymology of the name to come up with a sensible translation, some are a "sounds-like" translation, and some are sheer nonsense. Unlike Myrtle's "If Britain Had Lost The War" map, I have, however, attempted to translate everything into more or less sensible German.

The results range from sensibly boring to downright absurd, and the weird thing is that some of the funniest translations are in fact not made up, but the actual etymological meaning of the place name.

Obviously, you need to have a pretty good command of German to find this funny.

Many thanks are due to Cyril M. Harris, without whose book What's in a name? I could never have done this.

Update: a few people have asked for an original map to compare my translations with. Original maps can be found at http://tube.tfl.gov.uk/content/tubemap/default.asp.

Posted by Horst at 03:05 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (1)


April 08, 2004

Ha!

My proposal for the BlogTalk 2.0 conference has been accepted. So if you want to hear my (and other people's) words of wisdom, come all ye faithful to Vienna in July.

Posted by Horst at 10:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Jacques Brel. Photo © Fondation Jacques Brel

To celebrate the 75th birthday of the great Belgian singer Jacques Brel, here's a brief video:

Posted by Horst at 01:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)


April 09, 2004

Erin McKeown: Distillation The White Stripes: Elephant Thelonious Monk: Criss-Cross Ani DiFranco: Educated Guess Lambchop: Awcmon / Noyoucmon

Read the details here.

Posted by Horst at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


April 10, 2004

Yet another thing that will make people think I have too much time on my hands (and I assure you that I don't — but it is the reason why I haven't been blogging properly during the last three days):

DVD cover of 'Four Weird Shorts'

Playing around with iMovie and iDVD has yielded its first result: Four Weird Shorts, my first DVD, which contains a number of (well, four) weird/experimental films I made between 1990 and 2004: Dear Mona, A Private Place, My God and Rivers Flow.

Now the only problem is how to sell this to my admirers. Amazon Marketplace would be perfect, but sadly they are not allowing Austrians to participate. So I guess the DVD will only be available at poetry readings and art events at which I participate (the next one will be the Labyrinth poetry meeting on May 7th at the Café Kafka).

As a special Easter gift to my readers, I'm sending off a free DVD to the first three European readers (sorry, postal addresses in Europe only, overseas postage is just too expensive) who click here and send me an e-mail.

Update 12 April: The three DVDs have now been claimed and will be sent out shortly have all been sent out.

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

Taking a few days off blogging. Haldur might entertain you tomorrow if he's not too busy looking for Easter eggs. I'll be back on Tuesday or Wednesday. Until then, a few interesting links:

Posted by Horst at 08:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


April 11, 2004

I haven't met the Easter Bunny in person yet, but he (or is it a she?) seems to be very nice. Look what I found hidden behind the plant:

Haldur finds presents from the Easter Bunny

No idea why the Easter Bunny thinks that I would like a squeaky duck, but the chocolate bunny is quite yummy. I like Easter, I think. :-)

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 04:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


April 13, 2004

There are people who ask questions on their weblog, but won't offer a comments feature for answers and also give no e-mail address or any other contact information. Not even a trackback. Not even a permalink. Why they bother to ask these questions at all is beyond me. I'm still going to answer one of these questions that I was asked without being given a chance to reply. The answer is: because my dictionary says so.

Posted by Horst at 01:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sorry for posting a dead link last Thursday. The Jacques Brel movie is now operational.

Posted by Horst at 03:13 PM


April 14, 2004

Last evening, I finally meet Mr Deedee and Mme pinkNgreen in person, after having heard so much about them before. Subsequently, a round of very interesting phenomena occur:

  • The set played by djs pinkNgreen, p(i)x, tomtom, rraw and dd generates a temporal anomaly which seems to carry me twenty years back and forth in time. Repeatedly.
  • Later, Mr Deedee tells an amazed group of listeners that John Cage's composition 4'33" can be downloaded as a ringtone for your mobile phone (for "only" €1.99, as it turns out). I wish this was a lot more popular among the people with whom I'm stuck in public transport every day (and among people who go to cinemas and theatres on a regular basis).
  • Three people (including myself) are utterly unable remember the title of the Gastr Del Sol album with the Wellington boots on the cover, even though all three of them own it and they wreck their brains for at least thirty minutes.
  • As we pay, even though all of us at the table were convinced we had paid everything, the waiter's list of drinks shows that no less than eight beers have not been paid for. Are we still caught in the temporal anomaly, or is the waiter?
  • On the way home, I watch a car disappear in thin air. It takes a full five seconds to realise what I've seen, to subsequently panic and start running home like hell.
  • As I arrive home, at 3:05 in the morning, I am craving for a really hot curry, but the one I thought I had in the freezer is mysteriously gone.

Some, perhaps all of this, is, as you will surely agree, slightly disquieting.

Oh, and happy birthday Ms baronesse de pix!

Posted by Horst at 03:05 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

Due to popular demand, and for a short time only:
More Brel (5.2 MB QuickTime movie; lyrics here).

Posted by Horst at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


April 15, 2004

London Tube ride - this may take a while to load...

The English company Video125 is selling Driver's Eye Views videos of British rail routes. While you can thus see much of Britain's scenery from a train driver's perspective, what's particularly interesting is their extensive programme of Driver's Eye Views of the London Underground, on most of which you can't see much more than, well, a Tube tunnel.

Still, I recommend that you buy one of those and watch it. It's an utterly compelling, almost hypnotic experience. I probably couldn't have done the German London Underground map without it.

Note to the baronesse: if you want to licence the clip above (it's the Northern Line somewhere between Oval and Stockwell) for your boring moving pictures series, feel free to do so.

Posted by Horst at 12:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

My German London Underground Map was discovered by FM4's Roland Rotifer. 1100 hits so far, and counting. Fame awaits. For the next few hours, anyway.

Speaking of famous: Happy birthday Suw!

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


April 16, 2004

Probably spawned by Paolo Valdemarin's observation that he received over a thousand spams during a week's absence from his computer (well, what's so special about that?), there's an intense discussion going on [see Schockwellenreiter, Randgänge, WorldWideKlein, shutterclog] whether E-mail is still in any way useful or needs to be replaced by some other format.

Especially as a new and particularly nasty security threat, Mail Non Delivery Message DDoS Attacks, is looming on the horizon.

I'm not sure whether I should force other users to use a contact form. I'm certainly not willing to get a new email address every six months. Consequently, reaching me by e-mail will become more difficult as time progresses.

If you send me an e-mail and I don't respond, it probably got eaten by some spam filter. Rewrite the mail, avoiding the words "free", "money", "member", "prescription" or "friend", don't use HTML-formatted mail, always use a meaningful subject line, and I may eventually receive it.

And never send any unrequested attachments. Those mails are deleted immediately.

Posted by Horst at 12:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


April 17, 2004

This morning, I had the pleasure of travelling on the same tramway as the famous Austrian talkmaster, performance artist and S/M activist Hermes Phettberg. Mr. Phettberg was talking to an acquaintance, and I overheard the following facts, which were somewhat more interesting than the mobile phone conversations that I usually overhear:

  • Mr. Phettberg travels 5 kilometres to a McDonald's restaurant in the city every day to take his breakfast because he can't get a decent breakfast in his home district of Gumpendorf.
  • The "reality" soap starring Austrian builder Richard "Mortar" Lugner and his wife Mausi has about three times as many viewers as Mr. Phettberg's talkshow, which is something of a disappointment for him.
  • The guests of his talkshow are selected by the TV company that broadcasts it; were Mr. Phettberg to select them personally, he would have selected only two of the guests he actually interviewed during the past few months.

This is your accidental paparazzo signing out.

Posted by Horst at 12:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latest meme, via adplusplus:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
"East Acton was formerly a separate hamlet from Acton and was recorded as Estacton in 1294."
  1. Grab the nearest CD.
  2. Put it in your CD player.
  3. Skip to song 3.
  4. Post the first verse in your journal along with these instructions. Don't name the band, nor the album title.
"It gives me pain when I think of you"

The first person to post the correct author and title of the book and the correct artist and title of the CD in the comments gets a free copy of my DVD, Four Weird Shorts.

Posted by Horst at 12:39 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Jörg Haider and Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Austrian right-wing politician Jörg Haider recommends Benita Ferrero-Waldner as Austrian president.

You may remember that the staff here at The Aardvark Speaks recommend the other candidate, Heinz Fischer.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 01:54 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)


April 18, 2004

"Dans un monde idéal, l'Humanité n'existerait pas.". In this world, however, l'Humanité is celebrating its 100th birthday today.

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

Flowers

Today's flower-picking event had to be cancelled because it looked a lot like rain this morning. It didn't rain in the afternoon, but I didn't want to run any risk. I'm not sure yet when there will be a replacement date. I certainly won't be at the Bluebox when Horst is DJing there, because it's much to smoky for me, and that's not good for my delicate fur! As a compensation, I posted a flower picture today. See you soon!

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 02:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


April 19, 2004

It'd be cool if the people whom I gave or sent my DVD could provide some sort of feedback (via e-mail, please), just to see if I'm kind of on the right track. No major criticism required, just first impressions. Thank you.

Posted by Horst at 11:23 PM

You know that the mobile phone has significantly changed the way we communicate when you sit in a resaturant and suddenly notice that the four people at the next table, who seem to be conversing quite vividly, are in fact not talking to each other, but each into their respective mobile phone. The only person who wasn't talking into his mobile phone was a three year-old boy, who looked kind of lost among all the telephoning adults. I reckon he'll get his own mobile phone for his next birthday.

Posted by Horst at 11:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


April 20, 2004

Today's picture of the day comes from Ms Godany (the first of the three). I don't know if it's sad or funny, probably both, and absolutely brilliant.

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

I speedily exit the tram yesterday only to almost bump into presidential candidate Heinz Fischer, who's giving autographs and talking into TV cameras at the tram station. I hope they cut the scene where I masterly (though only closely) manage to avoid dragging Mr Fischer to the ground and being carted off by bodyguards and/or police as a terrorist suspect.

Later, as I exit another tram at the Burgtheater to watch Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (which turned out to be remarkably flat and, well, unremarkable), I almost run into Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, who for some reason is carrying a lot of bulky bags and seems to be studying some poster of one of the presidential candidates (though I forgot to check which one and I'm not sure why he would do this).

I think I've never seen a politician on the street just like that (other than at events where you'd expect them). Almost bumping into two of them on the same day must be an omen of some sort. If I only knew how to interpret it.

Posted by Horst at 12:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


April 21, 2004

Atmospheric pressure stops trains. Yes, after leaves and dew there's a new explanation why British trains won't run. [The Guardian]

Austrian politicians smoke water pipe. This is what happens when party leader Jörg Haider and vice chancellor Hubert Gorbach go to Libya to visit Moammar Gadhafi. [deedee]

William Shatner fans rejoice! He's baaaack. [requires Flash; via Greengrl].

Know the exact position of your Bakerloo Line train. Yes, I know it's useless if you need the Central Line instead. Or if you don't live in London. It's still cool, though. [via Cartoonist].

Postbox or cheese? Possibly the hardest test in the world. No other two items are so easily confused. Allegedly. [via Presurfer]

Posted by Horst at 07:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

As promised, today we start a four-part series in which the staff and contributors of The Aardvark Speaks explain why they recommend presidential candidate Heinz Fischer for the elections this Sunday. Installments will be posted daily. —Ed.

The Duck supports Heinz Fischer

The Duck supports Heinz Fischer because she doesn't trust politicians who wear a permanent grin like the Cheshire cat. Or like Ms. Ferrero-Waldner.

Posted by The Duck at 07:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


April 22, 2004

Richard supports Heinz Fischer

Richard supports Heinz Fischer because like Mr. Fischer and unlike Ms. Ferrero-Waldner he thinks it's not okay to mark voting slips in a secret ballot.

He also thinks that there's something odd about electing a member of the government as president, since the president's task is to control government.

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 07:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


April 23, 2004

VIENNA — An irate tramway passenger today grabbed a fellow passenger's mobile phone while she was still talking to a friend, opened the window and threw it out on the street in a blind rage, as the woman had been continuously talking at a loud volume for at least 15 minutes. When arrested by the police, the man claimed he had been under extreme stress as earlier today during lunch, he had been forced to listen to another restaurant guest's mobile phone call during his entire meal, for a whole 35 minutes. This is yet another case of mobile phone rage, a condition that is affecting an increasing number of city dwellers these days. Psychologists and politicians are baffled by the rise in phone-related violence.

Not an actual news item, but one that you may be reading soon. Guess who the "irate man" will be. The fact that they have now found out why mobile phone calls are so annoying to listeners unfortunately doesn't make them any less annoying.

Posted by Horst at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Haldur supports Heinz Fischer

Haldur supports Heinz Fischer for no less than three reasons:

  1. Ms Ferrero-Waldner went to the annual Hunters' Ball and claimed to feel "a bond to nature like a hunter". No deer in his right mind would vote for such a person.

  2. There's a picture of the president in every classroom of Austrian schools, and Haldur seriously feels that we must protect our children from having to endure Ms Ferrero-Waldner's grin every day for the next six years.

  3. Mr Fischer has a very clear position about working for peace and equality and helping those who need help.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 05:02 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)


April 24, 2004

I'm just sifting through my weblog archive to pick out the best weblog entries, which will be published, along with poems, collages and photos, in the book Cursed, due later this year.

While looking through and re-reading my weblog, I noticed that most of my entries seem to consist of grumpy rants bemoaning the decline of the western world (well, more or less). I'm actually having a real hard time making a selection that it kind of fun to read and not a profoundly depressing experience.

I never noticed it was that bad. Actually, I thought my weblog was mildly entertaining. Is it that bad? Am I a profoundly pessimistic, grumpy person? I don't see myself like that at all. What's wrong here?

Posted by Horst at 02:58 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Horst supports Heinz Fischer

Horst supports Heinz Fischer because with over a decade of experience as president of Austrian parliament he knows Austrian politics and Austrian politicians like none other, which is the perpect qualification for the job. Also, a president who doesn't talk too much and stays true to his principles seems preferable to one who talks a lot and changes her mind every other week.

Posted by Horst at 03:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


April 25, 2004

Today's presidential elections in Austria will be an indicator of whether we've passed an important tide mark in politics: whether elections can still be won mostly on political merit, or whether they can be won mostly on aggressive marketing.

Up until about 20 years ago, most political parties fought elections by appealing to people's intelligence; it was about that time when they realized that they'd be much more successful if they appealed to people's stupidity instead, and sadly, that's what they've been doing to an increasing degree ever since. Josef Haslinger traced this development in his brilliant book Politik der Gefühle already 15 years ago.

In the past, only the very stupid wouldn't go to elections, leaving political decisions to the 85% people with a bit more brains, which was kind of okay. These days, as political parties no longer cater for people with brains in their head, more and more intelligent people no longer bother to vote, because they rightly feel that they are not being taken seriously. This leaves political decisions in the hands of the mediocre and of staunch party followers.

And that's how politics has become what it is these days.

Posted by Horst at 10:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Heinz Fischer after the election
(Picture ©Godany. With kind permission.)

The results of the Austrian presidential elections can be found here (requires Flash; total votes and results from each province). The Vienna result is particularly impressive.

Posted by Horst at 08:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


April 26, 2004

I'm a bit blogsick. Meaning that at the moment I feel like meeting some of the bloggers I've already met in person again. Like, I really want to have a beer or two with Suw and talk about the middles of stories; or I'd like to have a dinner of stoemp or carbonades with Zoe and Andy; or I'd like to talk about Raumpatrouille with Ralf. The problem is that all these really nice guys and gals are hundreds of miles away. Thankfully the baronesse and Mr. Deedee are close by, and I'm scheduled to meet them Tuesday next week. But there are a few people I'd just like to see more often, and non-virtually, because they really seem to be very nice people.

Posted by Horst at 11:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


April 27, 2004

Now that their preferred candidate didn't become president, the reaction of leading figures in Jörg Haider's Freedom Party is to demand that the president should no longer be elected by the Austrian people, but instead be nominated by the government. As a reason they are referring to the low voter turnout of slightly less than 71%. Can we take this as a hint that they will be demanding the abolition of parliamentary elections as well once voter turnout sinks below 71%?

Posted by Richard Ellenson at 09:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Got a letter from the tax office yesterday, in which they finally admitted that they had charged me way too much last year, meaning that I'll get a substantial amount of money back from them. The not-so-good news is that I just had a talk with my dentist. I need to get three teeth fixed properly, and almost all the money that I get back from the tax office will have to be spent on those three teeth. Ouch.

Posted by Horst at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


April 29, 2004

Not sleeping enough. Had to sift through, re-record, capture and edit 4 hours of abominably bad TV programmes yesterday for chapter 12 of my book project. 6 hours work for 10 pages. Chapter now almost completed. Book project proceeding nicely, almost finished. Other than that, too tired to write anything sensible. Be back later.

Posted by Horst at 09:40 AM | TrackBack (0)



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