Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I understand quantum mechanics. I can calculate the tiny world of an atom and the enormity of a star. I have a general idea how the universe works. But I still have not the faintest idea how women think... and I never will.

The universe as a whole is so incredibly much simpler than its inhabitants.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

For some reasons Blogger did not accept my last posting, so this is the second try. If you see something posted two hundred times, blogger went berserk...

The American Library Association published a list of the 100 books most banned from school libraries, public libraries etc. Interestingly it contains not only sexually explicit books or books like the Anarchists Cookbook, but also World Literature and childrens books. You find: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain; Harry Potter by JK Rowling; The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

The strangest entry on the list is Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford, which is a book with pictures where you have to find Waldo in a huge group of people. And these people are not involved in group sex or anything which somebody might object.

I would like to make fun of these stupid fundamentalists on the other side of the atlantic. But, here in good ol' Europe, there is not even such a list of banned books. I am sure, some school banned books from their library, but there is no outcry heard (although that for sure exists as well...) And seeing what is happening now in Portugal to the Women on Waves ship shows we are not better than the fundamentalists on the other side of the atlantic...

Friday, August 27, 2004

I do not understand politics, part whatever...

A ship from the dutch organisation Women on Waves is coming to portugal. This organisation is in favour of legalising abortion, which is prohibited in portugal (with the exception of pregnancy after rape (until 16th week), serious danger for the woman (12th week) or serious illnesses of the fetus (until 24th week)). Interesting about this is not only the discussion about legalisation of abortion but also the way the portuguese politicians react.

A minister said, that the agenda of the portuguese government is only to be defined by the portuguese. "It does not depend on the arrival of any kind of vehicle"... What I do not understand about it: it is a dutch ship arriving. It triggers a discussion in portuguese media and portuguese people start to think (again) about abortion. So, if portuguese people discuss abortion and they are supposed to define the agenda of portuguese government, why does portuguese government not discuss it but declares they do not want to be annoyed by strange dutch women on a ship... And just to prevent comments from my portuguese friends: no, it is not only because your government is especially incompetent. (Maybe because of governments being incompetent in general.)

What annoys me about that is the lack of consitency in argumentation. If you ignore the people, then tell them why. Not just declare the people being stupid. They generally do not like that...

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The chain of communication is getting better day by day. A tells B that we need some stuff, B tells C, C says D could buy it, so B asks D. D asks E to call F (that's me...) if A really needs stuff. F tells E to call G, because there was some confusion some weeks ago. E will get a mail from G that B already got that stuff. B will be confused. D will buy that thing, A will be happy, F will discover a spare thing, so that D did not need to buy it in the first place. And there was not alot of rejoicing.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Today I wanted to do some short bike tour. Just from Erlangen passing Marloffstein and Atzelsberg and then going back, some 15km. I ended up doing Marloffstein, Atzelsberg, Baiersdorf, Eltersdorf, Tennenlohe and back, some 45km... I hate when I get taken away doing things... :-)

Strange thing is, I am not even tired. I should stop doing all these sport things. They make me much to healthy... For compensation, I had some beers now.

Friday, August 20, 2004

My boss in Hamburg is on a conference on the other side of the world. It is amazing how much stuff you get done without any stress when nobody is around having IDEAS. Usually when I am in my office my boss drops in two or three times and has some idea which has to be done NOW. The next day he aks why the hell I did this...

There is one guy in my collaboration which tries to survive by presenting other peoples work as his own. He managed to get a Post Doc position! He just behaves important, fetches enough buzzwords to throw random phrases into a discussion, makes a lot of proposals at meetings and asks everybody, if he can have a look at their work, which he then copies and presents as his own. He has not done anything himself the last two years (or more...) His best proposal at a meeting was that we should remove one of those big shiny chips on our read out electronics board, so that we can implement some stupid stuff there. The big shiny things are our read out chips, his proposal was like removing the heart to have place for another appendix...

In other news: I am putting some photos on photo.net, you can find them here...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Googling for Christians for decent literature leads to interesting results...
Archive.org is a great site. It even has the the night of the living dead...
Those bloody communist perverts are trying to corrupt us citizens for decent literature by selling p0rn!. Darn them...

Monday, August 16, 2004

"A computing device is disclosed. The computing device includes a housing having an illuminable portion. The computing device also includes a light device disposed inside the housing. The light device is configured to illuminate the illuminable portion."

Apple is patenting blinkenlights...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Been to Helgoland, to the exact spot where Werner Heisenberg discovered Quantum Mechanics. At least the monument suggests that...

Helgoland is a small Island in the middle of the North Sea, until 1890 british, then came to germany as exchange for Sansibar. To get there, you can take the fast ferry from Cuxhaven, taking two and a half hour, right to the port of the island. Or you can take the traditional way from Hamburg with a sixties ship, taking five hours to get close to the port, there change to smaller boats and get transferred to the island.

The island itself is just a big lump of rock in the middle of nowhere, after some terraforming attempts of the british navy in 1945 not entirely flat (5700 tons of explosives were involved...). There is a small village mainly consiting of alcohol and cigarretes shops, as the island is tax free. You can stay exactly three hours on the island before the ship leaves again, which is nearly the time to circle it and buy some stuff (Helgoland is one of the few places where you can get Absolut Vodka with 50% of alcohol, it normally has only 40%...)

It is a really fun trip, you get serious sun burns on the ship, you are on the sea for a day and you can get cheap alcohol. Kind of mini-cruise...

Friday, August 13, 2004

Just read an article about a guy who wants to keep german language "pure" and wants to get rid of americanisms. Sometimes you can overdo things... For sure we have to much anglisisms in our day to day speech, most of them even are complete nonsense to any native english speaker, but to rant about everything which has the slightest touch of english is just mad. English uses a lot of words from other languages, if you read "Mother Tongue" by Bill Bryson you get the impression that english is just words stolen from any other lingo... And nobody bothers (or maybe they do and I just have not heard of them...)

If you use Welthandelszentrum instead of World Trade Center, I think that is just plain wrong. It is a name. Names are not translated. You would not call Pepe Carvalho something like John Oak (or to stick with german and english: Henry Miller is not Heinz Müller...). There is a point in not using anglisisms if there is a german word for it, mainly because these anglisisms are just plain wrong. But sometimes there is no german word, or the german word is just too complicated. Mobiltelefon is just too long, so if everybody calls it "Handy", why not, even if every native english speaker looks at you strangely...

Where that guy is right is that there are too much english phrases in publicities. And most of them are just nonsense like "Come in and find out". Yeah, just go in and then leave again. People who do slogans like that you should't buy anything from anyway...

And do not call them americanisms. They are mainly anglisims. Even if you don't like the states, it is still english they speak. At least kind of... English can complain about americanisms, but then they complain about the difference between colour and color.

Ah, and don't complain about my spelling. Just came home from a pub crawl...
Another one surfing the blog wave... This place is just crawling with physicists :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

One of the reasons why I never will be a good physicist: I can't stand the way of presentation.

My problems with physiscists way of presentation:

  • There is no excuse for bad typography.

  • I like to target my presentations to my audience: if experts, do expert talk, if non-experts, do non-expert talk.

  • Use as few formulas as possible.

  • Do not put as much as you can on a slide.

  • Do not use any of those fancy powerpoint effects if you do not need them.

  • If you got 15 minutes, do not put 60 minutes of content in your talk and just speak faster.

  • Do not use more than three colours.

  • Bright yellow on white is bad.

  • Using Comic Sans does not make your talk more understandable, nor does it make you cool.

  • and so on and so on...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

When the outside temperature rises
And the meaning is oh so clear
One thousand and one yellow daffodils
Begin to dance in front of you - oh dear
Are they trying to tell you something
You're missing that one final screw
You're simply not in the pink my dear
To be honest you haven't got a clue

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened - happened
It finally happened - ooh oh
It finally happened
I'm slightly mad
Oh dear

I'm one card short of a full deck
I'm not quite the shilling
One wave short of a shipwreck
I'm not my usual top billing
I'm coming down with a fever
I'm really out to sea
This kettle is boiling over
I think I'm a banana tree
Oh dear

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened - happened
It finally happened - uh huh
It finally happened
I'm slightly mad
Oh dear

Ooh ooh ah ah
Ooh ooh ah ah
I'm knitting with only one needle
Unravelling fast it's true
I'm driving only three wheels these days
But my dear how about you

I'm going slightly mad
I'm going slightly mad
It finally happened
It finally happened - oh yes
It finally happened
I'm slightly mad
Just very slightly mad

And there you have it

I'm going slightly mad - Lyrics and Music by Queen...
Random Picture

Searching for some different pictures I finally found the missing slides from some holiday in Italy. I was looking for them since about eight years...

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Just put up on the web some emberassing pictures from school times...

This one is from our class trip to Bonn in 1991, where we met the chancellor (Helmut Kohl, for those who cannot remember that times...) opening the youth hostel.

Friday, August 06, 2004

About 5 years ago we changed the spelling rules in german from overly complicated to slightly less complicated. At that time there was a big fuzz about killing the language of Schiller and Goethe and the death of the occidental culture in general. Now one of germanys greates newspaper publishing house announced that they will return to the old spelling, as people are still mixing new and old spelling, and as some books are only published in old spelling, which confuses people.

I right now read a book in the spelling of 1860. I am not confused (let's say not more than normal...). To be on the safe side I think I will return to Lutherian spelling (like back in fourteenhundred something), this will for sure not confuse anybody, as it was Luther who invented german in the first place...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Went rowing yesterday. My hands are now full of blisters, but it was fun. Something different if you get together with 15 people who hardly now each other but organise themself into working teams in a boat. Just the opposite to work...

Went out with a really nice girl I know since 15 years and had a nice evening. Not a day totally lost... (Although my chances with her are damn' close to zero, at least she keeps on telling me :-) )
Sometimes I think doing a phd is like being in a game show. You get an impossible task, you have to do it in no time. If you achieve 20 in 1000 of them, you get your phd...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

These stupid anal oriented parking nazis gave me another ticket. Some day they will make me obey parking laws... Bloody fascists. ;-)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Not a lot happened the last days... Went to work, worked like a horse (ok, horses do not stare at computer screens or clean up experimental halls...), got drunk with collegues, went to bed. Repeat...

But I managed to finish some books I was reading (I always read some books in parallel...) So here now my rants on them:

Marco Polo - Il Millione or the wonders of the world

Nice book, one of the first travel books. Although I am quite sure Marco Polo only saw half of the things he describes it is a pretty impressive book. Written shortly after 1200 it draws a vivid picture of the orient and how it was viewed by the europeans. Sometimes it is a bit boring to read, especially when he just goes like "This is City XY, the inhabitants are heathens, burn their deads and pay with paper money" for pages and pages.

Henry Miller - The Tropic of Capricorn

I am not really sure if I like it. The first half is Miller complaining about being poor, living in Paris and fucking beautiful women. The second half is less complaining, but keeps on the tenor. He for sure can write, the only problem is, he has not a lot to write about. A story would have helped, like this it is just a brilliantly written account of some not really interesting life in Paris.

Bill Bryson - The dictionary of troublesome words

This is one of the few dictionaries you can actually read from top to bottom. Bryson shows how to use some of the more or less obscure words in english as well as pitfalls with words you think you knew all your life (or at least for a long time). If you are writing english texts, you should at least have borrowed this book once from the library :-) Non-native speakers like me will be astonished about the richness of english language having special words for lying face up (supine), face downwards (prone and prostrate) or non-specified but comfortable lying around (recumbent).

James Joyce - Dubliners
I would call it a book of short stories if it were actual stories. It is more a collection of sketches. Joyce portraits people and everyday situations, but there is nothing happening. Like Miller he is a really good writer but this book just seems to be just some warming up. Like a sketchbook this is not the real picture but already shows some genius. If there is a real picture I do not know, the only other thing I tried to read by Joyce is Finnegans Wake, and I stopped on page 14.

Another one on the blog train :-)