Nightwalk in Vienna – first district | Nachtweg Wien ersten bezirk

October 27th, 2004 § 0

Urania-View-Night-Raabplatz

this is the view from the Urania hotel (Viennale film festival centrale). you are looking at stephansdom – the central cathedral in catholic austria – in the background. the wide road runs parallel to the danube (donau river). about midnight.

Nightwalk in Vienna - first district | Nachtweg Wien ersten bezirk Continues »

More Casanova – Betty | Intellectual Charms of Women | Jealousy | Restraint in Passion

October 15th, 2004 § 0

The Intellectual Charms of Women

The older I grew the more I became attached to the intellectual charms of women. With the sensualist, the contrary takes place; he becomes more material in his old age: requires women well taught in Venus’s shrines, and flies from all mention of philosophy.

Jealousy

In accordance with the plot I had laid against the count, I began by shewing myself demonstratively fond of Betty, envying the fortunate lover, praising his heroic behaviour in leaving her to me, and so forth.

The silly fellow proceeded to back me up in my extravagant admiration. He boasted that jealousy was utterly foreign to his character, and maintained that the true lover would accustom himself to see his mistress inspire desires in other men.

He proceeded to make a long dissertation on this theme, and I let him go on, for I was waiting till after supper to come to the conclusive point.

Place of Restraint in Passion

“I believe you, and I see that I must make haste to leave Naples, if I would not be the most unhappy of men.”

“What do you mean?”

“I should love you without the hope of possessing you, and thus I should be most unhappy.”

“Love me then, and stay. Try and make me love you. Only you must moderate your ecstacies, for I cannot love a man who cannot exercise self-restraint.”

“As just now, for instance?”

“Yes. If you calm yourself I shall think you do so for my sake, and thus love will tread close on the heels of gratitude.”

Revisiting robot armies | Robogrunt – The Register

October 14th, 2004 § 0

Robogrunt: the US military’s plans for robot armies | The Register:

grunts themselves become geeks, or perhaps more likely, are transformed into callcentre grunts, sitting in a control room coordinating multiple fighting, scouting and UN peace-keeping (wonder if they’re doing these?) robots.

Billings refers to a US National Academy of Sciences report which defines four classes of robot: Searcher, which does reconnaissance; Donkey, which humps stuff (no, not like that); Wingman, which seems to be some kind of remote-controlled light tank; and Hunter-Killer, a platoon of ten unmanned vehicles which themselves contain up to five small observation vehicles apiece. Hunter-Killer’s ability to strike deep into enemy territory, no matter how dangerous, should allow the US military to dispense entirely with Europeans, except maybe for sweeping up afterwards.

Robot soldiers are something of a phobia with me.

Imagine not even having to send soldiers in to destroy towns. Or even to hire mercenaries. Remote control war. George Lucas of all people, prescient. George Orwell’s visions not dark enough. Patriot acts. Automated voting.

We had best hope that on 2 November more than half of all Americans are not the jingoistic, warmongerers that they seem to be now. If not this world of ours is in for hard times.

Hey Northern Europeans – You’re Irrelevant! Warm Congratulations from San Francisco for Elfriede Jelinek

October 14th, 2004 § 0

Big news in Austria over the last week has been the awarding of the Nobel Prize for literature to their citizen Elfriede

Jelinek. A controversial writer even in Austria, this is a brave and forward-looking decision from the Stockholm-based jury.

Jelinek is no New York Times bestselling author. But not content with their president’s failed commandeering of the United Nations, many Americans would like to put the Nobel prize jurors in their place and assure a more level playing field for American writers.

VIEW / What’s a Nobel in literature really worth?:
the literature prize, since it was first awarded in 1901, is irrelevant when it comes to ensuring a writer’s immortality, let alone in assuring that an author will be recognized as “great” — both qualities we are supposed to associate with the prize bestowment, but which it doesn’t deliver.

Take the first part. Even the most erudite among us will have a hard time naming a single book by a great chunk of past laureates. How about that Sigrid Undset (1928)? Who could ever forget her, right? Or how about Par Lagerkvist (1951)? Or Jaroslav Seifert (1984)? Got those names tattooed on the brain, don’t you? And if you do, it’s because you’ve boned up on all the past winners for trivia night at the pub.

So what is the point of the Nobel Prize in literature? Maybe there isn’t one. Maybe it’s just as it appears to be: the hefty $1.3 million cash award given out by a civilized, knowledgeable group of Northern Europeans to authors they really, really like for completely subjective, sometimes political, reasons.

Who do they have in mind? Philip Roth, for instance. A foul mouthed man obsessed with his own genitals and with a vile writing style to boot.

Oscar Villalon is the name of the dullwit whom I quoted above.

Best pun/simile of the week: Nora Jonestown

October 13th, 2004 § 0

Apparently all is not well in the world of Blue Note fans. The worst thing to happen to them were the Grammies that Norah Jones won. The triumph of Capitalism with a capital C. Her success caused controversy on the company forums. The forums were taken down, scattering and angering the fan base which had kept the company running for twenty years.

MediaPost Advertising & Media Directory: [Blue Note] seemed oblivious to the uproar they had caused their fan base, because quite honestly, these weren’t their fan base anymore. Their fan base were the people buying Norah Jones records. These other people were part of some other time and place. They were good for a couple of thousand in sales, but in their entire history didn’t buy as many albums as Norah Jones sold in a few short weeks.

And the passion, loyalty, and emotional investment these folks had made in this brand over their entire lives – it was expendable, inconsequential, and misplaced brand equity. Welcome to Norah Jonestown.

The whole article is worth a read for anyone interested in jazz or the business of music. Or even scalable web solutions.

Google assumes no responsibility for any pet: growling, barking, chasing, or biting

October 13th, 2004 § 0

I have a soft spot for our canine friends and all matters dog. My middle sister shares the interest and I couldn’t resist pointing out this fabulous description of a pet policy at Google. Read the whole thing. It jumps back and forth between passive and active voice, officiousness and friendliness. It’s as if a committee of six alternated at the keyboard as they wrote policy. It could serve as a parody if it weren’t deadly serious.

Google Investor Relations:
Aggressive behavior, such as growling, barking, chasing, or biting, is unacceptable….Employees are financially responsible for any damage or cleaning to Google facilities…. Owners must maintain adequate liability insurance against dog mishaps. Google assumes no responsibility for any pet. Following these guidelines mentioned above should allow dog owners to enjoy the company of their pets while allowing all Google employees to feel safe and secure in their work place.

One leaves the policy paper with visions of a third-rate horror film Attack of the Killer Dogs where the Google IPO is shredded in the end by a pack of fierce canines ganging up on the humans and computers and chasing them up and down the corridors, GROWLING, BARKING, CHASING and BITING.

Au cœur de la Dordogne anglaise

October 13th, 2004 § 0

Au cœur de la Dordogne anglaise:

Ces résidents britanniques ne viennent pas à Eymet pour être vus sur un marché à la mode, comme ces « célébrités » parisiennes qui prennent leurs quartiers d’été dans le Luberon, mais pour faire des emplettes et aussi pour se retrouver et savourer ensemble un concentré de ce qui les a conduits à s’expatrier : la good life symbolisée par ces fruits et légumes en abondance, ces produits du terroir, ce restaurant qui sert du rosé et du monbazillac bien frais, le temps qui s’écoule lentement, le soleil. Tout cela dans le décor d’une superbe bastide du Moyen Age. Le cliché de la vie au pays des châteaux – au sens propre, tant ils sont nombreux en Périgord – vue des brumes d’Albion, mais un cliché que beaucoup ont converti en réalité au cours de ces dernières décennies.

Beats the fogs of London, let me tell you, winters in Périgord. A good meal can be had in London but expect to travel and expect to pay about £40 per person for what would cost €15 in Périgord.

And even then, you’re still not in Périgord.

But one can only hope that this mode anglaise not become too popular. It would be shame to see the South West overrun like Spain with beet red uncouth brutes.

Business Wisdom from Mark Cuban, Broadcast.com founder

October 13th, 2004 § 0

Blog Maverick – www.blogmaverick.com:

In business deals, look for the fool. If you don’t see one, the fool is you.

Success and Motivation – The Benefactor Tests – Blog Maverick – www.blogmaverick.com:

7. It’s ok to yell and be yelled at

One of the rules I have is that I don’t mind if people raise their voice and even yell a little bit. At MicroSolutions, my partner Martin and I would have some knockdown drag outs. They were always short bursts. They didn’t happen a lot. When they did, I knew, and he knew, that this was an issue we were passionate about.

As my businesses grew, it happened less often because people deferred to me more often. I hated that. If someone believed strongly enough in something and I was being passionate about something, I wanted them to match my level of passion if they felt that strongly about it.

So I told people that if they thought it was the only way to get through to me, to go for it. This may not work for you in corporate America, but anyone in a family business, or in a private business of any size with a partner or two, knows exactly what I am talking about!

I would agree with this latter point. Everything is much too safe in North America. People are afraid to disagree. It’s fine in business to always be reasonable, but it is deadly for art. I remember seven minute circumlocutions from choreographers to just say “I don’t like it.” The seven minutes could be spent just creating something else.

And every step of the way.

My own brusque manners I learned in Russia and have had to shed them (with great difficulty, I was in Moscow for nearly ten years) to be able to get along in the West. The Russians do very well in the collective art forms (opera, ballet even cinema before they ran out of money). I believe it is in large part as they are not afraid to speak their minds nor hear the thoughts of others.

Apparently the same rules can apply in business.