Archive for 2004


Saturday, September 18th, 2004

Last weekend I’ve been to my homestead Buchholz, where we had our annual graduation meeting (Abitreffen) – this time with the participation of two of our former teachers, which was really nice. After the meeting we spread out into the Buchholzer Stadtfest, trying to make the best of bad DJs and lackluster dance settings, and succeeding. After that I spent a few days in Kiel. The weather was most excellent: lots of wind and sun, and a short thunderstorm, all very matching to the coastal city style. The German Historian’s Conference was taking place there too, so I took the opportunity and listened to a few talks. Historians seem to be a bit older on average that sociologists, at least those that go to the biannual conferences of their respective discipline. Even more striking, though not particularly surprising, is that historians actually wear their name badges the whole time. Nerdy historians.

Some things aren’t easy even when they should be.

Saturday, September 11th, 2004

Motivated by an article in the most recent issue of c’t called Absender-Authentifizierung schützt vor Spam I decided to give it a shot and install certificates into, the default E-Mail programm for OS X. This was not exactly a trivial issue, but the goal was worth it: being able to digitally sign my e-mail and also use encryption. (I am an avid user of PGP/GPG encryption technology since the late nineties, but I also wanted to check out this alternative, since, sadly, very few people actually use PGP.) First I wanted to use the certificate provided by the German mail provider Since that did initially not work as intended, I checked an enormously helpful site called macosxhints. There I found quite a few tips that helped me tackle certification, signing, and encrypting issues in Mac OS X. Since I had problems with the certificates I decided to follow the advices on that macosxhints and got myself free personal e-mail certificates from thawte. After a few experiments I finally got the certificates installed: I had to use either Firefox or Mozilla to install the certificates into these browsers and then was able to ex- and import these certificates into the Mac OS X keychain, which is used by Mail, Safari and other Mac OS X native apps. After importing these certificates everything went as expected. For good measure I later installed the root certificates of , the DFN, and several relevant German universities.

Regarding the problems I had with the certificate: I did not install the root certificates when I first tried to use their certificate for signing purposes, which might be the reason why it did not work. Problem is, I was looking for a link to the root certificates in my personal options pages at but did not find anything. They weren’t even mentioned, even though I explicitly looked for them. One more thing regarding the c’t article gives a link to the TrustCenter, saying that under this link free certificates can be acquired. This is not true anymore. One has to have a account to get a certificate. (The account is free though – but I think the author thought registration for an account wasn’t necessary, otherwise it would probably have been mentioned.)

Fingerprints for all of my keys/certificates can be found at the bottom of the sidebar on this page.

Feste feiern an der Seeve.

Thursday, September 9th, 2004

Zu meinem persönlichen Leidwesen war es seit mehreren Jahren das erste Mal, dass im Seevegarten wieder ein Fest gefeiert wurde. Ich habe mich sehr gefreut, dass so viele Leute gekommen sind – besonders erwähnen möchte ich natürlich meine Mitkollegiaten, die nicht nur ein Reimgewitter haben ertönen lassen, sondern auch noch extra aus Darmstadt und Leipzig/Greifswald angereist sind. Es war ein gelungenes Fest, und ich verspreche hiermit, im nächsten Jahr wieder Gelegenheit zum Planschen in der Seeve, zum Hacken von Holz, zur Völlerei und zum ins Lagerfeuer starren zu geben. Vielleicht klappt’s ja sogar zweimal über den Sommer verteilt? Ich freue mich auf jeden Fall schon jetzt darauf, wieder nette Menschen im Garten begrüßen zu können!

New entry page.

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

On the way to my brother’s wedding I’ve been recoding the root page of my site. It was one of the first page I ever made, and it’s biggest problems were accessibility and manageability because it was based on a table for layout purposes. Until last weekend I only made minor enhancements, but now I have completely dropped the old code and begun from scratch, only keeping the content. I have waited to do the redesign until the percentage of people using Netscape 4.x browsers dropped well under one percent, so that I can rely on recent web standards and extensively use CSS for layout purposes. Not supporting Netscape 4.x versions may seem as if I erected a barrier, however, dropping support for this browser dinosaur actually tears down other, more significant barriers: it makes the page more accessible for people using screenreaders, PDAs and so forth.

The only thing about which I am not at all sure so far is the design of the page. It is functional and not exactly ugly, but it is also a bit boring… However, using CSS the design of the site can be modified without changing the HTML code of the site, as is most wonderfully demonstrated in the css Zen Garden.

Any feedback about the new code and the new design is very welcome!

old page | new page | new style sheet

Pleasant against-the-grain-ness.

Wednesday, September 1st, 2004

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie done by Jim Jarmusch, but I always liked them. Therefore I was really looking forward to see Coffee and Cigarettes and found a nice opportunity to do so during my stay in Oslo. I did not know anything about the movie’s storyline before going in; I only knew that the cast is great (Cate Blanchett alone would make me go and watch the movie) and that the thing would be in black and white. It was fun to slowly realize how the movie is done, to guess what will come next and how it will be presented. After a while, I was pretty sure that the movie is made up of short segments that seem to be connected to each other mainly by two things: (1) people will sit at small tables with checkered design tops, drink coffee (and once a cup of tea – for the British), and smoke cigarettes. (2) People seem to have problems communicating which each other. Did I think that this is enough of a plot for a good movie? In my opinion it definitely was. I really enjoyed the slow pace, the quiet and funny moments, the strangeness. I hope you enjoy it too.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Real-time fighting comment spam.

Monday, August 30th, 2004

Wow. That was a first timer. As these lines are written new comment spam is being generated in my blog, and, of course, immediately afterwards deleted. Lucky occurence that I did another spam check after deleting the entries which I found, so that I saw that new ones suddenly sprang into existence. If only one could catch and identify the perpetrator in the act…

Viele Menschen.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

Noch vorgestern Abend habe ich die Lektüre von Krokodil im Nacken von Klaus Kordon beendet – das Buch habe ich von Steffen zum Geburtstag bekommen. Was heisst, dass sich das Buch gut gelesen hat und ich mich weder überfordert noch gelangweilt gefühlt habe. Es war wirklich interessant über (Ost)Berlin in der Zeit zwischen 1943 und 1973 zu lesen, viele Orte, die ich auch kenne, werden von Kordon beschrieben oder zumindest erwähnt. Auch der intime Einblick in die Biographie und die Gedanken eines DDR-Flüchtlings war spannend und überzeugend. Kordon ist kein Sprachgenie, manche Personen und Ereignisse blieben leider etwas farblos, und dann und wann wurden mir auch zu viele Personen vorgeführt: immer wieder neue Akteure, die für sich genommen auch interessant scheinen, aber denen nur wenig Zeit bleibt, sich zu mehrdimensionalen Charakteren zu entwickeln. Es kann natürlich sein, dass dies auch aus der Perspektive des Erzählers so ist, und mir leuchtet auch ein, dass man im Verlauf von dreißig Jahren viele interessante Persönlickeiten trifft, aber aus meiner Perspektive wäre hier und da eine Reduktion ganz angenehm gewesen. Ansonsten kann ich das Buch an diejenigen weiterempfehlen, die sich für Berliner Geschichte und oder DDR und Flüchtlingsgeschichte interessieren – für mich war es eine gute Urlaubslektüre und ich werde mir die Kunstfabrik beim nächsten Besuch noch etwas genauer anschauen.

Spoon production increasing because of Scream theft.

Tuesday, August 24th, 2004

To get back to the wonderful German saying “to make yourself to the spoon” (literal translation of “sich zum Löffel machen”“, which is more accurately translated as “make a spoon of yourself”) I want to report something which I just saw on NRK 1, a public Norwegian TV channel. A high ranking, uniformed police officer was interviewed about the recent theft of The Scream, the famous painting by Edvard Munch. During the interview he pulled a mask over his face, a mask like the one used by the robbers in the museum. Funny thing is, he kept this mask on for quite a while, answering the questions of the interviewer in the most serious manner. It was totally hilarious. It has been a while since I saw a uniformed person make himself to the spoon in front of a camera in such a blatant way. Still extraordinarily amused, yours truly.

Quantity and Quality.

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

*climbs onto the soap box* I know that Quantity can turn into Quality, sure do I know that. Nonetheless, I am wondering if we get too see boring I can throw this discus 51cm further that you! or I can run one hundred meters 10 milliseconds faster than you! instead of the awsome women’s finals in diving because the free market values quantity (as in exchange-value) more than quality (as in use-value). Can anyone think of another reason? *climbs down again and walks off sadly shaking his head*

Closing book covers.

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Ah well, summertime is reading time. Especially when you are travelling, and most particularly when you are on the deck of a ferry slowly shipping you from Frederikshavn to Oslo, and the weather is fine. Under these circumstances I was finally able to finish some readings which I have begun a significant amount of time ago.
Even before entering the ferry I was able to finish reading The Human Stain by Philip Roth. That was a good book, and, as everybody says, his language is well crafted. I might want to add to that this praise is especially justified because it is crafty without being overly concerned with displaying craftiness. Nonetheless, I wasn’t really gripped by this novel playing in a college setting. It seems I did not really connect to the characters in this book. Even though I do work in such a setting.

In contrast, I was gripped by several of the short stories in the collection of Dostoevsky‘s early stories which I read over the course of the last year or so. The story which I read on the ferry is called A Little Hero. It has a touching romantic ending, and it is both lighthearted and enlightening. A story of the first awakening of love in a boy’s heart.

After finishing this classic work, I embarked on making myself to the spoon – as we say in German. To the spoon? How? By reading the most recent pocket book by Max Goldt: Wenn man einen weißen Anzug anhat. People who know Max Goldt know that the spoonishness doesn’t stem from carrying around a book written by a bad author, instead the spoonishness manifests itself in spontaneous laughing attacks suffered by its readership – evoking raised eyebrows and whatnot in listening range of the poor reader a.k.a. spoon.

And now, I am reading Krokodil im Nacken by Klaus Kordon. A book about a man who wanted to flee from the German Democratic Republic with his family. Much of the story is set in East Berlin, which makes the book an interesting read for me. I will tell you more when I am done reading it (which might take a while, since it has almost 800 pages… ).

Ein nachträgliches Geburtstagsgeschenk?

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Man weissetnichsogenau. Auf jeden Fall hab ich mich gefreut, als ich zwei Tage nach meinem Geburtstag von Ludger Fittkau (der für den Deutschlandfunk über unser Graduiertenkolleg berichtet) eine E-Mail in meinem Posteingang fand, in der er schrieb, dass am vorigen Tag ein Beitrag über mich ausgestrahlt worden sei. Das Ganze lief unter dem Titel Der Bahnhofsforscher im Doktorandencamp. Doktorand untersucht das Verhältnis von Technik und Menschen an Bahnhöfen. Netterweise hat der DLF auch diesen Beitrag als mp3 Audiodatei zur Verfügung gestellt. Ich habe diese Datei auf den Seiten des Kollegs abgelegt, sie kann also von Euch heruntergeladen und angehört werden.

New insights, new style.

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

After I was told for the zillionth time that I am proceeding in a phenomenological way in my studies (both on the Potsdamer Platz and currently on train stations and passenger terminals) I finally decided to actually get acquainted with this thing called phenomenology. Several people in the post-graduate college recommended reading Maurice Merleau-Ponty‘s Phenomenology of Perception. Perception is my business and my passion so this is the book I bought. It seems I won’t regret this decision. Not only does the name Maurice Merleau-Ponty have a very pleasant french ring to it, the book also has a beautiful cover! Nonetheless, the content is even better. A small citation for those German blog readers:

Was immer ich – sei es auch durch die Wissenschaft – weiß von der Welt, weiß ich aus einer Sicht, die die meine ist, bzw. aus einer Welterfahrung, ohne die auch alle Symbole der Wissenschaft nichtssagend blieben oder vielmehr wären. Das Universum der Wissenschaft gründet als Ganzes auf dem Boden der Lebenswelt, und wollen wir die Wissenschaft selbst in Strenge denken, ihren Sinn und ihre Tragweite genau ermessen, so gilt es allem voran, auf jene Welterfahrung zurückzugehen, deren bloß sekundärer Ausdruck die Wissenschaft bleibt. [S. 4]

Judging from my current level of joyful involvement with this book, you can expect some more citations in the coming weeks. Weeks? Yes, classic books I do read slowly – usually I don’t read more than about 20-30 pages or the equivalent of one or two new ideas per day. For me, these fundamental things have to settle slowly.


Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

Two acts of electronic data cleaning have been performed today. (1) There were about fifty new comment spam entries (generated only a few minutes before I performed the daily routine check, therefore an almost non-existent risk of them having been indexed by a search engine) which I deleted. And (2) today the Mac OS X 10.3.5 update was published, which I used as an occasion and excuse to clean out caches, rebuild indexes and directory maps and generally let the electronic equivalent of a fresh breeze sweep through my machines here. The updates went smoothly, and, of course, the world is now a better and snappier place.

As expected.

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

Yesterday I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. It is a good movie, although I am not sure how many of the awards were given for it’s politcal message, and not for it’s quality as a documentary. Not that I don’t agree with it’s message, and not that I don’t think awards shouldn’t be handed out for political reasons at all; as Sahra, one of the several people with whom I went to see the movie, said: it nicely fits all our expectations, stereotypes and judgements. I guess it will serve the purpose of making some people in the US not vote for Bush which, of course, is a Very Good Thing™.
I liked the beginning of the movie most, especially the way 9/11 itself was portayed was excellent. The rest of the movie moves between funny, shocking and disgusting, all accompanied by the well known comments of Michael Moore. If you haven’t read much of the many in depth and well researched critiques of the Bush administration and the war against Iraq and Afghanistan you might want to catch up a bit by watching this movie.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Getting reorganized.

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

Yesterday evening I arrived back in Berlin after a 12 hour trip from Darmstadt via Leipzig to Berlin – there have been quite a few traffic jams on the autobahn. Makes one remember quite vividly, why traveling by train is a Good Thing. There was a lot of comment spam – most of it generated yesterday though, so I hope it hasn’t been indexed by search engines yet. Now I have to rent an apartment for when we visit my brother’s wedding, organize other stuff concerning the wedding, write a few mails regarding college seminar organization, try to find somebody to rent the free room in our apartment to from now to September, get my article published, try to get my diploma published, and, of course, work on my dissertation, i.e. read Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, and analyze my recordings.

The college’s workshop was excellent, we managed to get quite some stuff accomplished for the people who presented their material, though we had a hard time agreeing on the procedures for the conference we will host in 2005. The chalet was wonderful and the view we had from there magnificent. I am also pleased to report that my knees managed to cope with the downhill part of the one hiking tour that we made on our free day.

Sign of Life.

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

Sorry for the long silence, and sorry for the coming continuation of same. Tomorrow I will leave with the rest of the Graduiertenkolleg for Manigot, France, where we will be workshopping the next week. After my return I will tell you more about the last week, about Spiderman 2 (which was ok but not better than the first one), and the German comedy (T)Raumschiff Surprise: Periode 1 (which was, as expected, really bad).
To explain my absence from the blogosphere: I had visitors, end of the semester action, and am coordinating Kerstin’s departure to Oslo, all of which did not leave much time for blogging…

Charlie Kaufman – you shouldn’t forget this name.

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

Sometimes you get lucky. Watching two very good movies in a row is not a very frequent occurrence. You may have noticed that I rarely write harsh reviews as I am usually content with being entertained by watching movies; in addition, my taste is pretty varied and I can live with most genres even when it’s current example not exactly superbly executed. But then there are the movies that make you go to the theaters even when you encounter a cinematic blunder from time to time. Gegen die Wand has been such a case and it has been followed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Vergißmeinnicht) this week.
Charlie Kaufman wrote the script for this movie, if you want to have an idea of what this might mean, you should know that he also wrote the ingenious scripts for Being John Malkovich and for Adaptation. The plot is full of unexpected but plausible surprises, almost all characters that are at least somewhat involved have multi-dimensional, interesting characters, the dialogues are brilliant, and the ideas behind the story are both intriguing and presented in a very casual way. There is no attitude of grandeur about this movie, and there doesn’t need to be.
Still not convinced? Well, the main actors are Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. I don’t like either of them. I have been bored and annoyed both by Jim Carrey’s hyper-active comedy acting and by Kate Winslet’s sighs and eyelashes. But in this movie both of them have jumped up several leagues in my appreciation. Both have moments in which they are actually attractive and interesting – who would have thought that?

I could continue and elaborate this hymn even further, but I don’t want to waste your time which is better spent organizing a visit to a movie theater with a few friends.
One more thing, though… this is not only a movie of interesting ideas, but it also is a very beautiful and powerful love story.
IMBd entry | Trailer

Creating a commons.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004

Today, I finished updating all my pages so that their use is regulated by the Creative Commons License. Again, I encourage you to inform yourself about this project, for example by checking out this small explanatory comic.
In addition, I also reworked some of the code that I’ve been using on my pages. Now it is, of course, even more up-to-date, more accessible (Triple-A conformity almost everywhere) and less cluttered. I especially enhanced the CSS code, because I finally got myself acquainted with the properties of nested CSS.

Soziologischer Versuch im Multimedialand.

Thursday, July 1st, 2004

Heute habe ich eine neue Seite ins Netz gestellt. Unter dem Titel Automatische Irritationen – Versuch zum DB Fahrkartenautomaten kann eine kurze Vorstudie zu Interaktionen am und mit dem Fahrkartenautomaten der Deutschen Bahn AG gelesen werden. Zum Text gehören auch zwei kurze Videoclips, die ich am Darmstädter Hauptbahnhof aufgenommen habe. Über Rückmeldung würde ich mich natürlich freuen…
Die Vorstudie habe ich für meine Vorstellung beim Graduiertenkolleg (im Wintersemester 2003/2004) und für einen Verlängerungseintrag meiner Drehgenehmigung bei der Bahn angefertigt.
Die Seite ist unter der Creative Commons License ins Netz gestellt – ich werde wahrscheinlich in der nächsten Zeit alle meine Arbeiten im Netz unter diese Art des offenen Rechteverwaltung stellen. Ich schließe damit kommerzielle Nutzung ohne mein Einverständnis aus, ermögliche aber die Wiederverwertung und Veränderung meiner Arbeit unter der Bedingung, dass die Weiternutzung den gleichen Richtlinien folgt (es gibt einen erklärenden Comic zu den Rechtsmodellen des CCL Projekts – allerdings auf Englisch).

Gegen die Wand und mitten rein.

Monday, June 28th, 2004

Bis vor kurzem gehörte ich ja auch noch zu den Leuten, die Gegen die Wand noch nicht gesehen haben, obwohl dieser Film ja bekanntlich gut sein soll und den Publikumspreis bei der Berlinale gewonnen hat. Alles Lob zu recht. Habe den Film in einem kleinen Kinosaal in Darmstadt gesehen, aber das hat diesem Film keinen Abbruch getan – trotz schneller, manchmal fast Videocliphaft anmutender Schnitte kommt kein Viva oder MTV Gefühl auf. Der Film ist sehr intensiv; Darsteller, Dialoge und Kamera erzeugen eine stimmige, starke Atmosphäre. Der Soundtrack ist ebenfalls sehr gut – ich warte schon gespannt darauf, in Dörtes Kopie noch einmal rein zu lauschen. Dieser Film ist so, wie Reality Bites gerne gewesen wäre. Ach ja: der Film spielt zu einem großen Teil in Hamburg.
IMBd entry | Homepage