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

June 2004 Archive


June 01, 2004

The Internet isn't good for you: first there were web addicts, then there were chat addicts, and now there's — you guessed it — weblog addicts, people whose whole life revolves around blogging [via ad++].

I don't seem to be affected too much. I managed to stay away from my computer the whole Whitsun weekend and instead lost 4 kilos by cycling like a madman. Which I was somewhat more rewarding than visitor stats, which, needless to say, plummeted.

A contributing factor in the loss of the 4 kilos might have been that one of my provisional teeth broke on Saturday, leaving the exposed rudimentary tooth beneath it extremely sensitive to anything slightly above or below body temperature. Things were fixed today by an emergency visit to my dentist, who was in utter chaos because a pipe had burst in the house and there was no water. He managed to repair my provisional tooth without water, but don't ask me what they did with the other patients.

Posted by Horst at 06:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

It's discussions like this one that makes me want to turn off my Atom feed. Yadda yadda. These people ought to get a life and do something constructive for a change. [thx SWR & Hugo]

Posted by Horst at 08:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


June 02, 2004

Niek is one of the bloggers with whom I'm never sure as to what degree I agree or disagree with him. Like, with Sunday's entry on his weblog, I kind of like the pictures, but then I also don't, because I just can't share his appreciation of thongs at all. And I agree with much of what he says in this entry, and yet I don't. Which makes reading his weblog worthwhile. Because the interesting thongs things are not those with which you totally agree or disagree, but those that puzzle you a while before you figure them out.

Posted by Horst at 01:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

A veritable book war is erupting between Amazon.de and the Swiss publisher Diogenes. With its dominance on the German book market, Amazon is forcing publishers to sell them titles at a discount of up to 50 per cent. Diogenes, a well-established publishing house that publishes German translations of, among others, Donna Leon, Paolo Coelho and Patricia Highsmith, now called it quits and refused to grant further discounts. In response, Amazon removed all their books from its catalogue. Full story (in German) here. [Source: FAZ, via ORF]

Posted by Horst at 06:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Important note: This article has been linked to heavily since its initial publication, sometimes not really in the right context. It should be understood as an angry rant that sparked off a discussion about several weaknesses in Wikipedia. Much of my criticism is elaborated on more clearly (and soberly) in my follow-up articles and in my comments to other people's responses to it — please follow the Trackback links below to read them. In fact, I believe that without the follow-ups and comments, this article does very poorly as Wikipedia criticism, simply because I was too angry when I wrote it.

Also, since the publication of this article, Wikipedia has implemented some changes that make part of the criticism in this article obsolete. I don't know whether they were implemented as a reaction to this article or solely as the result of an ongoing discussion among Wikipedia editors, but the fierce opposition my article met initially (see comments here and elsewhere) makes me want to believe I had a slight influence on this.
—H.P., September 2004.

Wikipedia, the free "online encyclopedia" has been hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Anybody can access it free of charge, anyone can add to it, and there's any entry for everything. Right?

It turns out that the great advantage of the Wikipedia, the wiki format, which allows everybody to add/edit everything, is also its greatest disadvantage. There are a few topics that I care about, a few of which I actually contributed to the German version of Wikipedia. Watching these entries change over the past few months, I noticed the following tendencies:

  1. Most contributions are poorly researched, or not researched at all. Accuracy depends mostly on the one website from which the contributor copied the information. A substantial amount of Wikipedia entries contains information that I know to be incorrect.

  2. There is no editorial selection. Some entries just grow and grow because some enthusiast who has no sense for what's important and what's not keeps adding pointless stuff to some entries.

  3. Due to extensive linkage within Wikipedia itself, a growing number of badly researched, incorrect Wikipedia articles is pushing down well-researched specialist websites in Google rankings.

  4. Text and concepts for Wikipedia entries are often blatantly copied from other websites. To avoid instant recognition, the text is sometimes rewritten, adding inaccuracies, inconsistencies or even errors. Due to the nature of the content and the open format of Wikipedia, no copyright holder can do anything about this.

Wikipedia generates noise, not knowledge. Previous encyclopedias were well-researched and contained precise information that could be trusted to be correct. Wikipedia, on the other hand, contains a large amount of errors, omissions and superfluous trivia.

Basically, what is happening here is the building of a parallel World Wide Web inside the wikipedia.org domain and calling it an "encyclopedia", which is a total perversity. Just making it searchable and giving it an encyclopedia-like structure doesn't make its content any less fluffy, error-ridden and amateurish than any other website.

I hope that in a few years it will be so bloated that it will simply disintegrate, because I can't stand the thought that this thing might someday actually be used as a serious reference source. Because in its current form, it's not to be taken serious at all.

Posted by Horst at 09:16 AM | Comments (37) | TrackBack (16)


June 03, 2004

I find it interesting that the response to my anti-Wikipedia rant yesterday came mostly from two groups of people:

  • People not involved in the Wikipedia project, who were mostly agreeing with me, or even expressing what I wanted to say more eloquently so that it made more sense than what I had written

  • People involved in the Wikipedia project, who reacted as if I had taken the sole meaning of their lives away from them, got very excited about the whole thing, but didn't really see my point

Reading through many of the responses of the second group, I get the feeling that my mistake is mostly being a reference librarian, who expects things (and especially reference things) to be correct and reliable, rather than being an engineer or tech person who builds things simply because it's technically possible. That would explain why next to none of these responses were defending the Wikipedia content, which I had criticised heavily, but focussed almost exclusively on defending the technical concept, which I hadn't really criticised much.

That would also explain why the engineer's principle "more is better" (as in Erik's comment "the English Wikipedia with its 275,000 articles is larger than any current general encyclopedia") seems to be more important in the case of Wikipedia than the librarian's principle "more correct is better".

However, I was finally reconciled by two voices from the Wikipedia community: first, when kellerkind confirmed that most of the work on Wikipedia indeed consists of dealing with the noise that I had criticised, and second, when I received Kai's comment, in which he conceded that Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia: "[It] is not a place to gain 'accurate information'. That is what real encyclopedias are meant for."

Q. E. D.

Posted by Horst at 09:49 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (2)

basis wien, a Vienna-based organisation that has been compiling an extensive database of contemporary art is to shut down its operations due to a completely unexepected halt of funding on part of the city of Vienna and the Austrian government.

Support basis wien by signing their online petition and make sure that their documentation work can continue.

Posted by Horst at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


June 05, 2004

Sophia: People are like seasons Sun Kil Moon: Ghosts of the great highway Adem: Homesongs The Dream Syndicate: Days of wine and roses 50 Foot Wave: Bug Juliana Hatfield: In exile Deo

Read the details here.

Also rediscovered this record, which I found buried in some drawer:

Come: Don't ask don't tell [artist bio] [Amazon link] [album review]

I remember seeing Come as the support act for Throwing Muses in Glasgow in January 1995 and being mesmerised by, but genuinely hating their dark, brooding, eerie guitar noise. Still, for some weird reason I bought this CD second-hand a few years later, hated it instantly and put it away in said drawer.

Upon listening to it now, almost ten years later, I find that that not only has it not aged at all, quite on the contrary, it has, if anything, grown more powerful. It's still not exactly feelgood music, but suddenly I kind of like it — if you actually can "like" dark music like this.

Somehow it's odd that I should rediscover this record now that Kristin Hersh (formerly of Throwing Muses) has just released a record with her new band 50 Foot Wave which attempts to do now what Come did ten years ago when they were supporting the Muses. And it's odd that I should suddenly find the old Come record better than the new 50 Foot Wave record.

Posted by Horst at 01:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


June 06, 2004

Haldur likes cherry wafers!

Majo reminded me that I'm supposed to be writing my weblog entry today, especially as I've been a bit sloppy with my Sunday blog entries lately. Um, yes. Sorry about that.

Majo also asked about my opinion on the lengthy Wikipedia discussion that Horst started last week and that even made it into Heise.de's weekly roundup.

Well, to be honest, I was somewhat taken aback by the bickering that went on in the discussion, and I asked Horst more than once to stop adding fuel to the fire and just close the comments. He can be so stubborn. And of course the Wikipedia entry that calls mooses a kind of "Trughirsch" ("imaginary stag") is nonsense — first of all, mooses are real, and second, mooses are not stags. I like the Natur-Lexikon's Moose entry much better, especially as it contains many nice pictures of moose girls.

Oh, and the picture above — that's me eating cherry wafers. Because of the awful weather here, there are no real cherries yet, so Horst bought me these. Not quite as good as the real thing, but still extremely yummy.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 07:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


June 07, 2004

The Austrian parties' election campaigns for the European Parliament elections next Sunday are getting more ridiculous every minute (and that's not even counting the right-wing Freedom Party politicians, who clearly lost it already a few weeks ago and have sounded mostly hysterical ever since).

For the first time in a long time, I still haven't decided who to vote for. In the campaign, 90 per cent of the time were spent on discussing who's the best patriot and who's a traitor, which, frankly my dear, I don't give a damn about. Instead of talking about European politics, the parties resorted either to mindless nationalism or to trivial details, probably because denouncing the political opponent is easier than to develop genuine perspectives.

How on earth did we sink this low?

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

I've been wanting a wireless router for a while now, but I never really wanted to spend money on what is essentially a luxury and which works just fine with cables. I have this firm belief that you should buy computing equipment equipment when you need it, not when you feel that it might perhaps be a bit more comfortable.

And it was a good thing that I waited.

Because Apple just brought out this. It's called Airport Express. And it's

  • a wireless access point
  • a wireless repeater
  • a wireless print server
  • an audio streamer

(long explanation here, short explanation here).

And it looks like a pretty good reason to go wireless now. It also works with Windows PCs, by the way. So you Windows people can throw away your old routers now, too.

(Apple is also an extremely clever company. It makes products that are so cool that the users do their advertisements for them, free of charge. Erm, yes. Sorry for that commercial interlude from our non-sponsor.)

Posted by Horst at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


June 08, 2004

  • 7650 bunches of green coriander
  • 5100 tins of peeled tomatoes
  • 4744 packets of Manner wafers
  • 1176 small portions of ice cream at Tichy's
  • 566 large beers at a cheap bar in Vienna
  • 437 large beers at an average bar in Vienna
  • 382 kilos asparagus
  • 340 large beers at an expensive bar in Vienna
  • 355 kilos green chilies
  • 170 volumes of Lewis Trondheim comics
  • 95 audio CDs
  • 90 dinners at my favourite Indian restaurant
  • 82 copies of my book
  • 38 rice cookers
  • 25 nights in a hotel room in Paris
  • 22 large "Billy" bookshelves
  • 17 full replacement cartridge sets for my printer
  • 10 flights to London and back
  • 4 weeks holiday on Crete
  • 4 self-published books
  • 3 years, 6 months unlimited travel on public transport in all of Vienna
  • 2 teeth

my new teeth

Thankfully, they turned out in a decidedly non-Martin Curry-like way, but somehow it feels (and looks) as if the left one (that's the right one on the picture) was a bit longer than the right one (that's the left one on the picture). Or is it just an optical illusion?

Other than that I'm happy. Except when I weep for those lost weeks on Crete. Or in Paris.

Posted by Horst at 12:01 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

I am happy to announce that my book CURSED: poetry, pictures, fragments & figments is now available at a bookshop near you.

CURSED is a retrospective volume, covering 6 years of poetry and 12 years of other artistic output by myself and my art project ART IS LIFE. The 240-page, richly illustrated volume contains:

Horst Prillinger: Cursed. Poetry, pictures, fragments and figments

  • Collected poetry, including "17 Library Haikus", "The Belgian Beer Cycle", "Scotland '98 - a Travelogue in Verse" and "Dream Log 1-10".

  • The Best of The Aardvark Speaks - selected weblog entries from August 2002 through April 2004.

  • Stills and notes from the films Rivers flow, Dear Mona and Things I Learned from Watching TV after Midnight.

  • Selected photography, including "Post-Thatcherist Tri-Triptych" and "Memento Mori".

  • Documents and pictures of object art, including "Praying Mantis Exhibit", "Phone Booth" and "Iconography".

Most of the texts are in English; preface and explanatory notes are in English and German.

View sample pages from the book!

CURSED can be bought at every bookshop in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and internationally from online booksellers Amazon and Libri.

Prillinger, Horst: Cursed : poetry, pictures, fragments & figments. / Horst P. Prillinger. - Norderstedt : BoD 2004. - 240 pp.
ISBN 978-3-8334-1255-4 (paperback)
Suggested retail price: € 18.50

Order online from Amazon
Order online from Libri

Posted by Horst at 01:56 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack (1)


June 09, 2004

Georg has a good summary of the Austrian parties' positions in the upcoming EU elections. However, it's so true to life that it's absolutely unhelpful in helping me decide who to vote for.

Posted by Horst at 07:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


June 10, 2004

Sorry, all those readings from Joyce's Ulysses to celebrate the 100th Bloomsday on June 16th this year will have to be cancelled:

One of the biggest events in the literary calendar — the centenary celebration of Bloomsday, 16 June, the day on which the events of James Joyce's Ulysses take place — has been seriously marred by a bitter struggle over copyright.

Stephen Joyce, the grandson and last surviving relative of the writer, has caused consternation by declaring that any public reading of what is regarded as the most influential novel of the 20th century will be a breach of copyright and cannot go ahead without permission and payment. Readings in both London and Dublin to launch the first ever unabridged audio CD of the book [...] have been cancelled because of fears of litigation.

[Source: The Independent; thx Suw]

Posted by Horst at 10:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)


June 11, 2004

I promise this is the last Wikipedia post, but two comments from reader Josh Cagliati actually helped me find a better wording for my Wikipedia criticism. Josh had challenged me to a bet: I should take ten random Wikipedia entries with mistakes in them, and if half of them were not gone by this time next year, he would pay me $10.

I wrote back:

Josh, it's actually not at all unlikely that you might win this bet, which is why my criticism was not that the mistakes don't eventually disappear — actually, that would be a stupid assumption, as the wiki very strongly encourages readers to correct mistakes. So I'm afraid I won't accept this challenge.

This apparently confused Josh. Like most of the people who had written back in defence of Wikipedia, he thought I had criticised the wiki principle, which I had not criticised. He wrote:

Hm, I would not have guessed it from your previous comment. [...] If you believe that mistakes will disappear, I don't see how wikipedia can fail to generate knowledge. I certainly agree that wikipedia has mistakes and inaccuracies, but so does Encyclopedia Britannica. Some of Britannica's mistakes have stayed in for over a hundred years with out being removed, which I highly doubt would happen in wikipedia. In my experience the content of wikipedia articles that have been edited by at least 10 authors [...] is at least comparable to say the world book encyclopedia. [...]

If you don't like Wikipedia, come back in a year or two, and you will be amazed at the improvements.

Now everything that Josh is writing here is correct, and yet he is totally besides my point, and comparing apples with oranges.

Josh is writing that mistakes are being removed. I had criticised that people kept adding mistakes to articles. It's odd to me how wikipedia advocates only see that mistakes can be removed, but not that they can also be added.

I wrote:

You are nicely summarizing the problem of Wikipedia:

You do not see how the simple fact that mistakes will eventually disappear alone is not enough to generate knowledge.

This is precisely why some of the content of Wikipedia is so bad: because it is not built on the assumption that information must be correct in the first place, but instead on the assumption that mistakes do not matter because they will eventually be corrected.

Knowledge [in Wikipedia] may emerge only if all articles have run through enough revisions to ensure that they are complete and correct, and providing that nobody is adding more mistakes to them. Otherwise all we have is essentially noise.

And why on earth should I come back in a year? I was criticising the content of Wikipedia now, not in a year. Whatever it'll be like next year is inconsequential to me, I want precise, correct information now. Like the average Wikipedia user, who is looking up something, expects the information he finds to be correct at the very moment when he looks it up, not a year later. [...]

In effect, Josh was nothing but proving my point of the engineer's way of thinking, that a good technical solution outweighs content. Only the real world isn't working like that.

Posted by Horst at 08:49 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (1)

After I almost fainted from exposure to chemical fumes when using a toilet at VU library today, I started wondering whether there wasn't a different way to make toilets appear clean other than applying tons of intensively smelling detergents. Or at least a way that poses less of a health hazard. I'm sure those chloride/ammonia fumes combined with what detergent manufacturers consider "pleasant" smells can't be healthy. At least not when used in amounts like those here at VU.

And I still don't know what the people in charge of cleaning the toilets at Oulu University Library did to make their toilets smell of nothing (really nothing) when I was there a few years ago. They sould sell their knowledge to the rest of the world. It might save a few lives.

Posted by Horst at 06:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


June 12, 2004

H. Prillinger reads from his book 'Cursed' as part of the Bloomsday Celebration at Shakespeare and Co., 1010 Wien, Sterngasse 2, Wednesday 16 June 2004, 1:30pm and 9:45pm.

My two lectures are only 15 minutes each, but come and enjoy the other readers too! Bob Hewis, who is reading immediately before me at 9:30pm, is much better than I am, for example.

Full programme here.

Posted by Horst at 09:41 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)


June 14, 2004

If nothing else, yesterday's EU elections showed a few interesting things:

  • Only about 40% of the people bothered to vote. Seems that the more our election campaigns are copying the American model, the more our voter turnout also matches that of the US. Just one or two more of the ridiculous smear campaigns we had this time, and we'll make the 35% next time.

  • Speaking of which: Jörg Haider's campaign to denounce Social Democrat candidate Swoboda and Conservative EU commissioner Fischler as unpatriotic, or even traitors, resulted in huge losses — for Haider's own party. Haider's FPÖ was reduced to 6%, down from 23% in 1999 (although their miserable performance in the national government may have had more to do with this than their smear campaign).

  • On the other hand, the election proved the fact that Austrian voters will vote for just about anybody: Hans Peter Martin, a candidate without a programme and without a political message, who's not member of any party, who had no election campaign to speak of, — no posters, no events, no anything — and who was almost totally ignored by national television, still won 14% of the votes. All he did was spy on other MEPs and criticise their expense accounts, whereupon Austria's largest newspaper stylised him into some kind of Robin Hood.

  • In the district where I live, the Greens won almost 41% of the votes, which is hugely more than they ever won anywhere. In all of Vienna, they won 22%, which is a new record, too. In all of Austria, they won 12.8%, which makes them the strongest Green party in all of Europe.

See the Austrian results of the EU elections here (requires Flash).

Update: TH has a map of how the 23 Viennese districts voted. That one might also be interesting for non-Viennese readers, because it's a nice demographic breakdown of sorts.

Posted by Horst at 12:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Like Pizza Hut before them, it's possible that Starbucks has also misunderestimated the Austrian market. Instead of having opened 10-15 additional coffeehouses in Austria by June 2002, Starbucks has just closed the first of their seven coffeeshops in Vienna.

The next American chain to try their luck in Austria is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Will they stand a chance against the thousands of cheap Turkish chicken snack bars?

Posted by Horst at 03:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


June 15, 2004

In case you received neo-Nazi spam mails from me: well, I have not undergone a total personality change. It's the Sober.H virus that is sending this garbage out. No, I'm not infected with the Sober.H virus. Never have been. It's just another example how tedious e-mail is becoming.

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

100 years ago today, the excursion ferry General Slocum caught fire on the East River. The ferry had been booked by members of the German community on the Lower East Side. Of the 1,358 passengers, all from the Kleindeutschland community, 1,021 died in the disaster. As the few remaining survivors soon left the area, this led to the total disappearance of the community.

The disaster is mentioned in James Joyce's Ulysses, which is set only one day later:

[Chapter 8:]

All those women and children excursion beanfeast burned and drowned in New York. Holocaust. Karma they call that transmigration for sins you did in a past life the reincarnation met him pike hoses. Dear, dear, dear. Pity, of course: but somehow you can't cotton on to them someway.

[Chapter 10:]

Father Conmee [...] passed Grogan's the Tobacconist against which newsboards leaned and told of a dreadful catastrophe in New York. In America those things were continually happening. Unfortunate people to die like that, unprepared. Still, an act of perfect contrition.
[...]
Yes, sir. Terrible affair that General Slocum explosion. Terrible, terrible! A thousand casualties. And heartrending scenes. Men trampling down women and children. Most brutal thing. What do they say was the cause? Spontaneous combustion. Most scandalous revelation. Not a single lifeboat would float and the firehose all burst. What I can't understand is how the inspectors ever allowed a boat like that ... Now, you're talking straight, Mr Crimmins. You know why? Palm oil. Is that a fact? Without a doubt. Well now, look at that. And America they say is the land of the free. I thought we were bad here.

[Chapter 16:]

New York disaster. Thousand lives lost. Foot and Mouth. Funeral of the late Mr Patrick Dignam.
Posted by Horst at 08:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


June 16, 2004

I'm off to do some reading.

By the way, my book is available from Amazon again.

Posted by Horst at 01:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


June 17, 2004

WTF

What is so cool about Gmail that people are queuing for accounts and begging on their knees to get an invitation? It's just another bleedin webmail account, one that, I might add, is creating marketable user profiles from the contents of your e-mails and collecting data about your friends and social networks (like the people who invite you or whom you invite).

<paranoia>So if you invite somebody who later turns out to be a terrorist, don't be surprised if one day the FBI knocks on your door.</paranoia>

Of course, Google's marketing ploy is brilliant: limit access to a service and make it look like the privilege of a chosen few, and people will go out of their wits to get it. Max Barry describes the phenomenon brilliantly in his novel Jennifer Government. A novel you ought to read, by the way.

Posted by Horst at 12:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)


June 19, 2004

Wow. My book is number 1,284,135 in the list of best-selling books at Amazon. I suppose this means that somebody somewhere actually bought a copy from them. I wonder what happens if somebody else buys another copy — will my sales rank go up to 642,067, making me a best-selling author?

By the way: hear me reading sound poems at the Poetry Picnic in the Volksgarten today between 3pm and 6pm. I'll be reading around 4pm.

Posted by Horst at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I have the suspicion that the Borg are not, after all, a fictitious race of aliens. Recent events have led me to believe that they are very real and that they may already be among us, slowly assimilating us.

The latest point in question was this person dancing at one of the street festivals that seem to sprout at every street corner in Vienna during the last three weekends in June. See, there was this music, and this guy was dancing, but he was the only one who was dancing, because that the weather was so abominably bad that, apart from a handful of people crouching in the doorways, there wasn't anybody else there. And he did not look like Gene Kelly.

Strange, innit? Then everything started making sense when I noticed that he had something that looked like a Borg surgical implant instead of (or over?) his left ear. Of course, if he was a Borg he wouldn't care about the rain. I don't know whether it was some mobile phone thingmajig or an actual Borg implant, and I'm not sure if I want to know. Both things — carring a permanently mounted mobile phone on your ear and having been assimilated by spooky aliens — are similarly frightening to me.

I predict that the first kind of non-medical tech implant that will bring us closer to William Gibson's cyberpunk universe will actually be mobile phone implants. You hear this ringing noise in your ear and you'll know it's not tinnitus, but somebody calling you. You hit yourself on your head to switch it on and just talk without the need to look for your phone in your coat or handbag and to actually put it to your ear.

I suppose there's millions to be made with this technology. If you invent it, remember you read it here first, and I have the copyright to this idea, it is mine, and I own it.

Posted by Horst at 02:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


June 20, 2004

Moose Club

The first rule of Moose Club is you do not talk about Moose Club. The second rule of Moose Club is you do not talk about Moose Club.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson at 08:45 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)


June 21, 2004

interdental toothbrush

I think my dental hygienist is kind of disappointed with me. Maybe it's because my last appointment with her was more than two years ago (despite her attempts to keep me coming at six-months intervals) — but I had so many expensive "real dentist" appointments lately that the dental hygiene appointments somehow got lost on the way. Anyway, with a rather stern look on her face, she commented that I seem to have a serious interdental hygiene deficit:

Dental hygienist: Could it be the case that you are regarding interdental hygiene as somewhat tedious?
Me: Well, I suppose that could be the case.

Anyway, after she had spent 35 minutes removing tartar with an ultrasonic (but not really painless) device, she sold me this interdental toothbrush, which was kind of expensive, but I guess that's the trick — if you spend this much money on a device you don't really want to use, you end up using it because if you spent so much money on it, you'd rather use it than throw it away unused. So I suppose my interdental hygiene may improve now.

Seriously, folks: Do you floss? On a daily basis? Or use an interdental toothbrush? If you're not too embarrassed, please post a comment about the state of your interdental hygiene just to enlighten me if my dental hygienist is merely trying to make me panic about parondontosis, or whether it's really this serious.

Posted by Horst at 11:29 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)


June 22, 2004

Carola: What is it with you and women's bums?
Stephen: What about me and women's bums?
Carola: You seem to be obsessed with them.

Stephen: I'm not obsessed with them.
Carola: You look at them.
Stephen: Well, yes. But it's not like I'm Robert Crumb or something.
Carola: Still, you look at them.
Stephen: I'm a man. I have instincts. Of course I look. Would you rather I looked at women's breasts?
Carola: I don't see how you can find a woman's bum attractive.
Stephen:Maybe it's because you're a woman. You don't find men's bums attractive?
Carola: On average? No.
Stephen: No, not on average. Muscular male model bums.
Carola: Well, that's different. That's nice and muscular. Women's bums are all soft and flabby. It's where all the fat goes first.
Stephen: Men still prefer women's bums to men's bums. It's an evolutionary thing. We'd be extinct if it weren't that way.
Carola: What do you like about them?
Stephen: Gee, I don't know. I never thought about it. I just find them... aesthetic, I guess.
Carola: Aesthetic?
Stephen: Yeah, well. If they're aesthetic.
Carola: So not all of them are aesthetic?
Stephen: Well, um, I suppose no.
Carola: So what is aesthetic?
Stephen: Sheesh, I don't know. It's just my bloody instincts, that's all. It's... um... I don't know. I suppose it's okay if it's within certain parameters...
Carola: Parameters?
Stephen: Well, yes. Like, in the green zone.
Carola: "The green zone"?
Stephen: Um, yes.
Carola: So, is mine in the "green zone"?

At this point Stephen began to wonder how he had manoeuvered himself into this situation. Jumping up and running away suddenly seemed to look like a brilliant idea.

Posted by Horst at 10:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


June 23, 2004

Kitchen tools are sexy  Avoid cemeteries after dark  Swimming pools divert gravity

For the series Things I learned from watching TV after midnight, I programmed my VCR to record four hours of random 10-minute sections from broadcasts of cable TV stations known for bad programming after midnight without knowing anything about the programme schedule that night. The four hours of recorded material were sighted, relevant bits were then played back on a TV and recorded directly off the screen with a DV camera to get an even more distorted picture. This was then fed back into the computer, where stills were made, of which sections were enlarged. Finally, the captions were added.

Things I learned from watching TV after midnight is a real-world simulation based on the world presented in cheap TV movies, soft porn and infomercials. What if the things we see on TV after midnight were representative of the real world? What are the lessons we could learn from them for our own lives? What are the rules governing this virtual world?

Learn more things from TV after midnight in my book (on page 187-196).

Posted by Horst at 08:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


June 25, 2004

Otto Rehhagel

Greece wins 1-0 against France, [2] eliminating the current European champions from the tournament. It's first and foremost the victory of Greece's German coach Otto Rehhagel, one of the most charismatic and also most controversial soccer coaches in the business. Outspoken and strong-willed, Rehhagel has become known for his ability to turn second-rate teams into champions, but also to generate conflict with players who aren't willing to subject themselves to his "democratic dictatorship" (with emphasis on "dictatorship") — a clash of egos leading to his sacking as coach of Bayern Munich in 1996, despite the fact that he was leading them towards victory in the UEFA cup.

Rehhagel's tactics and his power of motivation worked today. In a stunning display of will to victory rather than technical prowess, the Greek had the weak French team under control most of the time. Clearly at their wits' end, the French acted increasingly confused and had only a handful of chances. Zidane barely ever touched the ball, and Henry missed the goal several times. It seems they had severely underestimated the Greek and their coach.

Greece will play in the semi-finals against the winner of Czech Republic vs Denmark.

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


June 26, 2004

Urgh. Need to go and buy new glasses today. 2 pairs, actually. Still undecided whether I should support some small unknown local optician or a huge well-known German corporate optician. The decision would be much easier if the small unknown local opticians would match the price levels of the huge well-known German one.

I guess I'll just see which of them has anything I like. Somehow this kind of shopping seriously increases my stress levels (well, shopping for shoes is worse). Does anybody happen to know what kind of frames are in fashion this year?

Posted by Horst at 01:10 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

So I now have proof that buying spectacles is one of the most tedious pastimes imaginable. One problem I encountered is the competition between local opticians and large chains. Basically, the large chains are flooding the market with cheap frames, but as you'd guess, the cheap frames aren't looking all that great. The local opticians, not being able to compete on the cheap front, have instead decided to sell only extremely cool-looking, but also quite unaffordable designer frames.

The question therefore was: Do I want to spend a month's income on cool-looking designer spectacles and support the Austrian economy, or just a third of a month's income on average-looking boring spectacles and support the German economy?

It comes down to buying your glasses from either Fisher & Sons or Kroehner International, and it was a tough choice, I tell you.

Anyway, never underestimate the power of opticians as people magnets. While I was sitting in there, trying on one frame after another in an endless and rather hopeless quest for new spectacles, a line of friends and colleagues of mine also seemed to have decided to shop for new glasses at the selfsame optician. So at least I was able to discuss my inability to choose a frame with other people, and was able to help them decide about their new spectacles instead. It was, almost, a social spectacle.

The downside was: they may be happy with their new spectacles, but I still have no idea whether I chose the right ones.

What I learned today: Two pairs of glasses cost about as much as one new front tooth. I'm not sure if that's a good deal, but it puts either the tooth or the glasses in perspective.

Posted by Horst at 11:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


June 27, 2004

The plastercast fetishists are back. Almost 100 hits from their discussion forum today, which seems to be well-visited. If I ever break my arm again, I'll certainly never post a picture of it again. I also removed the old picture. I've just decided I don't want to become a sex symbol. Not this kind of sex symbol anyway.

Posted by Horst at 12:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


June 29, 2004

There's this old Monty Python sketch about this group of soldiers learning to defend themselves against being attacked with fresh fruit. I could have needed some of that knowledge today when I was attacked by an angry mob of students armed with fresh döner kebabs.

Seriously.

I had just arrived at this underground station and was preparing to make my way up the stairs when suddenly there's this huge group of (presumably) students, about 20 or 30 of them, coming down the stairs, all of them holding döner kebab sandwiches, and munching vigorously.

Not only was the smell of fresh döner and onion overpowering, the sight of 20 or 30 people holding kebabs and chewing madly whilst moving down the stairs was also truly frightening. And the sight of so many people simultaneously chewing döner sandwiches was totally unreal.

Imagine a huge herd of ruminating cows moving towards you. Or better still, a herd of ruminating cows with each cow holding a kebab sandwich in its hoof. Spooky.

I managed to escape them without the help of a tiger or a 16-ton weight, but I don't even want to know what it must have been like when the 20 or 30 of them (students, not cows) with their 20 or 30 kebab sandwiches squeezed themselves onto an already crowded underground train.

Posted by Horst at 03:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)



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