Thursday, January 31, 2008

Something remarkable

He says my daugther, and all the love he has is wrapped up in the tone of his voice when he says those two words, he says my daugther you must always look with both of your eyes and listen with both of your ears. He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. He says there are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are.
He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?

- Jon McGregor, "if nobody speaks of remarkable things"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Average student hit by origami plane from space

More stuff from New Scientist: A Japanese engineering professor wants to launch a 20cm Origami airplane from ISS.
The things you learn from unconventional ideas - I'd never have guessed that light objects don't heat up much when entering the atmosphere. I'd have thought a paper plane entering the atmosphere would make *poof*.


The government made a social survey on students. I'm guilty of being interested in knowing the averages about my field of study (It's a general problem of humanity, I think - we need to know all kinds of averages, so we can compare ourselves and see if we're average enough. Only then can we rest easy) - that interest, however, has never been satisfied, because nobody seems to take us literature students seriously enough to justify talking to us about our averages.
Anyway, now I know - again - that I'm atypical (or maybe les beaux arts are simply atypical by themselves, and therefore nobody investigates them - why look at something that you know will disappoint your expectations, eh?).

Apparently, a majority of students gets public funding. The average student also has a monthly budget of over 1000€ (imagine how many books you can buy for so much money), and spends 970€ (a majority of that is spent on accommodation and food - knowing how much accommodation roughly costs, I can estimate what is left for food, which isn't bad; although I do wonder if "food" includes all the money spent on party drinks; hmmm). The average student has a 45-hour-week (33h for studies, 11.5h for work). Only one third of all students has no stress-induced health problems (!).

So we have a body of over-worked, under-paid future labourers who are already damaged before they take up their intended position in society. That's good. Because, you know, broken people do so much better work.


I think I haven't shown these before ... they're quite old. I tried to make some simple icons depicting German idioms. Some more simple than others ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Some interesting stuff I came across:

- Cranberries are good against infections. That effect seems to only take place with women, though.

- We laugh 3-4 times less than people did 40 years ago. Today, an adult laughs about 15 times a day. Seems like much?

- Potatoes have their origin in the Andes (where they were grown by the Inkas) and only came to us about 500 years ago. Considering that they are pretty essential to Austrian food now, that makes me wonder which food will be "domestic" here in 500 years' time (with the climate change and all). Ginger? Mangoes? Bananas?
Also, looking at where potatoes have been produced in the last years, you notice the typical trend: Production in the Western world has remained constant or been reduced, while it has almost doubled in today's "production countries" China and India.

- New Scientist writes that Probiotic bacteria could keep us slim. My first thought was "Great, more food additives", then "Right, give the population a reason to think even less about what they eat". Then I went and read parts of the original research paper, understood about 17% of it, but at least it explains stuff a bit more thoroughly than the article. And you get some insight into what is necessary to come to such findings, animal testing and all.


I watched some of the DVD features of Children of Men. One of the extras, "The Possibility of Hope" really caught me. It shows statements of activists, ecologists, scientists, etc. about the current state of the world and outlooks on the future, reality and utopias and social economy. Naomi Klein is one of them, and so is James Lovelock, who says:

"I look on the earth as an elderly patient. She is a someone, who would be - if she were human - in her 80s. In other words, strong, vigorous full of her 80s, but not as young as she once was. [...] Because she is quite old, any stress she receives, like it's the same with one of us -- I'm at about her age in my 80s, and if I get influenza it will be a lot more serious than if you get it. Well, our patient Earth has the problem of humans. There are, I'm afraid, too many of them and they are doing too much damage to her capacity to regulate her temperature and composition."

Which is an analogy that I really, really like.

And Fabrizio Eva talks about globalisation, culture and identity, reminding me strongly of John Storey's work and what I learned in that context.

"This globalisation process does not extinguish other cultures, because it takes a long time for other cultures to disappear. Yet, it has repercussions between young and old people. Young people are willing to move, so they already have a preexisting conviction that they don't have to accept their culture the way it is. When they realize that life somewhere else might be better, they move to find their own, new identities."

Identity creation is a fascinating topic. We redefine ourselves continually through the different surroundings we put ourselves in - put on different masks, or show different aspects of our personality when we're online, among friends, among strangers, in our jobs, etc. Theoretically, this gives us so many opportunities for different identities that there's no need to move far away. You'd probably only move (based on the reason of identity) if you can't get to grips with any aspect of your living environment at all.
But, what this actually reminded me of: We used to be part of a single living environment decades or centuries ago (one village). Now that it is far easier to travel greater distances, we are part of multiple living environments, multiple cultures.

I wish more DVDs had great extras like that.


Continueing on the WIP. Not much progress - still trying to incorporate more brands, which proves a bit tricky.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pushing Ethics

I wonder what it is that makes people feel the urge to push their own standards on others. In the end, everybody lives by their own standards, and chases after their own ideals and goals forever without ever fully reaching them (because that's the essence of ideals - they don't exist in reality). So, while that chase is challenging enough for us, we nonetheless spend time trying to push our ideals on others - which, in turn, makes it harder for them to work towards their ideals.
And sometimes we just want to discuss, but unintentionally end up pushing. And other times, we just want to relax and not discuss, and end up being pushed. It seems to be really hard to find that mutual point at which it's alright to discuss diverging concepts.


Next WIP. Very much WIP. Maybe even illegally WIP.
This picture has been in my mind for years, truly. I never felt confident enough to pull it off as it deserve to. Let's see if I'll manage...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bouncing off clouds

Finished. This one was much less planned than most of my other pictures. Didn't even do a pencil sketch, just began straight away in Photoshop and made lots of mid-painting changes.
The initial idea, story-wise, also changed. I'm not entirely sure where it ended, though. I believe she's just waiting for Zeus to pick her up (she's not Europa, though), if he ever gets around to doing so and doesn't forget her (which he will). So she's just enjoying the stars and the moon while she can.

I finally managed to save over the original file while painting, thus losing a night's work (or two). That probably has to happen to everyone at least once. Let's hope that was my once (and only).

Saturday, January 05, 2008


German films usually don't appeal to me at all. I normally find them too rough and the humor not subtle enough. For some reason I ended up watching Keinohrhasen nevertheless and I was quite impressed. Sometimes you don't even notice it's a Romance. The self-reflexiveness and self-irony of the film and Til Schweiger intrigued me a lot - the statements he makes about actors and the world of stardom, the media and male and female thinking are more profound than you'd expect in your average film (at least those films that Hollywood churns out).
I was thinking recently which film of 2007 I liked best, but couldn't find any that I'd recommend without any "if"s and "but"s. Stardust came closest, but had too many kitsch elements in a few scenes. In contrast, I never felt that Keinohrhasen was really kitschy at any point. It was throughout funny and enjoyable. I couldn't really name the difference to Hollywood, though. Just that this is the first film in a long time that I'd watch more than once.
(But, incidentally, I didn't feel like watching another film after leaving the cinema. I guess there are two types of films that do that to you - those that are utterly crap and don't fulfill your expectations the least, and make you lose your faith in the film industry; and those that are very good, so you don't need to see another film in a while, because they give you all you search for in a film.)


Came across a nice page that shows how food looks in ads compared to what you get when you actually buy it. But, frankly, not even the ads really make me want to buy/eat that stuff, because they scream Fast Food (or maybe it's because pictures don't convey smell?).


Small preview of a painting I'm working on right now:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Everything you want is not everything you need

I rediscovered Vertical Horizon's Everything You Want again after looking up some word concepts. I like the music video. Such combinations of visuals and text are always very appealing to me. They remind me of Serial Experiments Lain (although Lain's texts are of course much less straightforward).

Also came across a nice quote:
"Man muss noch Chaos in sich haben, um einen tanzenden Stern gebären zu können."
- Friedrich Nietzsche
("You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.")


Something from my thesis got me thinking...
Fairies might come from the Persian peris (it's a minority theory, as most researcher believe the Grimms' theory). That made me read up a bit on Persia. I've always had troubles with grasping that Persia and Iran are the same countries. I connect Persia with a rich culture, traditions and exotic tales; something out of a book rather than reality, and fully positive. Iran, on the other hand, is to me related to war, rural and poor areas and nuclear weapons. It's interesting how two words can refer to the same thing, but create completely different concepts in one's head. I bet the advertisement industry works a lot with that, just in reversal. Take something negative, give it a new name and image and turn it into something positive.
(I don't see the point in renaming geography, though. Persia turned into Iran, Edo became Tokyo, Lentos was renamed first Lentia and then Linz, etc. I mean, alright, I can understand the reasoning behind the renaming of Edo, but for the most part, there are no reasons given for renaming geographic points, and it's just immensely confusing when you find out after years that two names that you always treated as being separate from each other are actually one and the same thing).


I used the ending of last year and beginning of the new one for another cooking feast (because when there are so many people in the house who will possibly eat what you cook without running away in panic, you need to seize the opportunity). Unlike the Paella cooking in February, though, it was not one big thing but many little ones - sauces, desserts, etc. After not having been able to try out some new recipes in the last weeks, I had lots of fun with this.


Attempting to make sushi for the first time. I need to try this more often. Haven't quite figured out how to roll it in a nice way. I still have two other types of sushi to try out anyway. Here, Nigiri-sushi and Maki-sushi:

Finally, Dim Sum and Onigiri:

At some point I managed to leave the kitchen and joined the group. We spent a fun game evening playing Uno and Kragmortha (cool game - not quite as good as real roleplaying, but it really got me into the mood again) and following some superstitions and rites. Then the new year began with snowfall, and everything was perfect. I really like this year so far.