Archive for August, 2004

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.