AIDS = Africa is dying slowly

September 30, 2007 at 10:59 am | Posted in Health | 6 Comments
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In 1996, bands like the Wu-Tang, Coolio, De La Soul and Mobb Deep recorded the album America is dying slowly. Having spent nearly two years of my life in Southern Africa and knowing the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Southern African countries ranges between 15 and 34% (according to the 2006 UNAIDS report) I immediately re-translate this slogan for myself to AFRICA IS DYING SLOWLY. [In North America and Central Europe, by comparison, we are looking at 0.5-1% of people living with HIV].

Given this fact, I am once again shocked by a recent statement of another African patriarch, this time Archbishop Francisco Chimoio from Mozambique, who believes that condoms produced in Europe are tainted with the AIDS virus and that AIDS therefore is another attempt of the white man to extinct the African people, a statement by which he discourages people from using condoms. The BBC reports:

Archbishop Chimoio told our reporter that abstention, not condoms, was the best way to fight HIV/Aids. “Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose,” he alleged, refusing to name the countries. “They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century’s time.” Aids activists in the country have been shocked by the archbishop’s comments.

Another horror story to add to the horrifying belief that sex with a virgin can cure HIV (which made the numbers of child rape rise in Southern Africa), the stance of present South African health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang that garlic and beetroot can be a cure for AIDS, or Thabo Mbeki’s proposal that HIV was not the cause of AIDS.
Global HIV infection

Shudder.

A church for the madmen (and women) of Vienna

September 29, 2007 at 7:15 pm | Posted in Art | Leave a comment
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Today we saw what is allegedly the only Jugendstil (art nouveau) church ever built, located in the 14th district of Vienna: St. Leopold am Steinhof. Steinhof is the vernacular name of the mental hospital that it is part of – the most astounding institution, built in the years 1904-07, with Jugendstil design and architecture apparent all over the premises, including a theatre right in the centre.

St. Leopold am Steinhof

It is not open during weekdays, but they offer an approx. 1 hour tour every Saturday at 3 pm and throughout the year. The place was PACKED during today’s tour (people can also join the services on Sundays at 9 am, but since the inpatients are of course also there, I suspect that the tours are more popular). The tour itself was actually a lecture, but very interesting indeed. It seems as if authorities were not particularly keen on having the church 100 years ago – Otto Wagner, the architect, was renowned and respected, but marrying Jugendstil and religion was seemingly considered outrageous at the time, and the pun went around that crazy people might as well have a crazy church:-) To this day, this church is not part of or run by the catholic church, but by the City of Vienna (who therefore also had to pay for its renovation in 2002-2006 which cost almost € 12 million).

I have not found a single picture that halfway conveys the atmosphere that you find inside the church – the most surprising thing is the fact that it is so bright inside. Not like anything that you normally expect from a church. The explanation was simple: Mentally ill people (just as much as others) are more comfortable in bright rooms. There are many other design features in the church that cater for the needs of the residents (it was, for instance, one of the first churches with a toilet built in, right below the pulpit; the pulpit is not accessible from the main aisle of the church to avoid that wandering patients would ascend it, etc.), too many to sum them all up.

St. Leopold am Steinhof

N.B. This is the only picture I could find from the interior – those red chairs that obviously ruin the impression are not normally in there, the picture must have been taken right before the re-opening ceremony after the renovation.

And since this church (in spite of the number of visitors today) is not even mentioned in most travel guides: This is a must see in Vienna, not to check it off on your list of must-sees, but in order to experience the atmosphere of an environment that is in all its aspects designed to further the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of people.

Lest I forget: The tour is not available in English, but it’s the only opportunity to see the church outside of a service – unless you come in a group of at least 10 and phone them beforehand: +43-(0)1- 910 60/11204 (admission charges are at most € 4, less without the lecture; services are free of course).

Fahrradkauf mit guten Gewissen

September 28, 2007 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Nur noch bis 2. Oktober kann man das Strike Bike vorbestellen: Das ist nicht nur ein qualitativ hochwertiges Rad, sondern auch ein ökologisch, wirtschaftlich und moralisch korrektes Vehikel.

Strike Bike

1.) Es wird in Deutschland hergestellt und in Deutschland vertrieben, d.h. die Vertriebswege sind kurz und damit umweltfreundlich und der Profit kommt der inländischen Wirtschaft selbst zu Gute.

2.) Noch schöner: Es wird von den Arbeitern der Bike Systems GmbH im thüringischen Nordhausen in Selbstverwaltung hergestellt. Offiziell sind diese Kollegen längst arbeitslos, aber im Juli haben sie die schon längst demontierte Fabrik übernommen und stellen nun dort die Fahrräder her.

Damit das ganze glückt, werden 1800 Vorbestellungen bis zum 2. Oktober benötigt: Noch sind 5 Tage Zeit – darum jetzt mit gutem Gewissen das Strike Bike bestellen!!!

Kosten: € 275, verfügbar in Herren- und Damenausführung.

[Thanks to Cabbage for pointing me to this]

Rainbows and Gay Sex

September 27, 2007 at 7:10 pm | Posted in Culture | 3 Comments
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I’m having a friend here who’s visiting, hence not much time for a long post. Just a brief report about a gay proverb that was hitherto new to me and that Austrian mobile communication provider ‘one’ is using in their gay marketing strategy:

Every time you see a rainbow God is having gay sex.

Corporate exploitation of subcultural knowledge.

I’m getting into this viral video chart thing (Ahmadinejad & Swedish vomit)

September 26, 2007 at 3:01 am | Posted in Politics, video | 4 Comments
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First encountered here (to where I keep going back as I cannot remember the link but have not yet admitted myself enjoying this, hence no bookmark so far), the Viral Video Chart is now providing a daily moment of diversion to me. Yet I’d really like to now what a Mensvärk is – period pain? People able of the Swedish tongue, please advise!

Yet the most disconcerting of all videos is this snippet from Ahmadinejad’s talk at Columbia university. “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who’s told you that we have it.”

*Gasp*

It’s shocking to have a situation where certain groups or individuals are forced underground because the regime has imposed capital punishment on THEIR BEING SO – and you find out that this regime REALLY thinks that these individuals do SIMPLY NOT EXIST: “We might have capital punishment for homosexuals, but nobody gets killed because we don’t gave any gays here.” Assuming that what they’ve created is reality. In the German Democratic (who were very good at creating situations and taking them for reality) they believed they didn’t have AIDS (of course they had, but the people with HIV/AIDS just weren’t acknowledged and thus also didn’t get the appropriate treatment).

The only relieving thing about this is the laughter in the audience, telling us that at least in the best we are past the stage where a majority thinks that homosexuality is an aberration. Maybe as an addendum to the Anti-Americanism post yesterday, one should mention that American universities are places where such talks as possible, exposing what kind of a clown Ahmadinejad really is.

Anti-Americanism is Becoming Rife

September 25, 2007 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Culture, Politics | 42 Comments
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…yet I cannot help to chuckle at this photoshoppery (I hope it is one!):

Our Oil Their Sand

Or maybe this was meant to be ironic? If they were (and this was real) then they were certainly not aware that Europeans are currently not able to read Americans (as mass phenomenon) as ironic/able to show irony. Sad but true. As such, I read this picture as an enraged outcry: How did those Arab fellows manage to snatch our oil and hide it under their sand?

Comments of the friend who sent me this confirm he sees it the same way.

Back on the application dreadmill

September 25, 2007 at 11:14 am | Posted in Blogging | 10 Comments
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As of today, I started out again on writing applications. I had stopped after my erroneous assumption that I had found me a job – which unfortunately led to my letting pass the application deadline for a job with the Fulbright Commission that sounded interesting. So that’s one lesson learned – don’t stop applying until you’ve really started work on a job. And if you’re really keen on carving out a career for yourself, then probably don’t even stop until the probation period is over.

Also, in the age of the blogging era, you need to prepare for the event that the recruiter is going to copy excerpts of your covering letter and publish them on the blogosphere: This is something that friend Lenina just did – I guess the applicants in question can be grateful that she decided not to publish their names. More to the point, she probably thinks they should be grateful anyway, because she is only teaching them a valuable lesson.

I have known her for more than ten years now (RL, that is) and have been reading her blog for a while, but her tendency to reiterate her superiority in virtually every post she publishes has since long started to annoy me. It’s probably more annoying for me than for the average reader because I have been knowing her for such a long time and am therefore not inclined to bow down before her super-brain (but rather simply appreciate it for what it is – there are tons of intelligent people out there and I wouldn’t know why to single one out especially), or because I know her boyfriend and am therefore pretty alienated by the way he gets slagged off by her frequently.

I generally believe in kindness, even though I know that there are demons in all of us, also in me, and that there is a certain tendency in the human animal to make him or herself bigger than others, and also that this is an effective means to boost your own ego. But those methods are unsound, I think, truly unsound.

All in all: This also raises another issue, or at least leads me to the observation that a blogosphere persona and a real life person do of course not have to be the same (it’s understood they’re not!), and that it can be quite challenging if you know the two of them. After all, back in the days of the paper diary, you wouldn’t have wanted to read all your friends’ diaries either, would you?*

*) Maybe you would have wanted to, but I doubt you would enjoyed all of it. You don’t have to hear everything people are saying about you behind your back, I don’t think…

Hooray, real tags are there, but…

September 24, 2007 at 9:04 am | Posted in Blogging | 7 Comments
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WordPress finally has introduced tags that work like tags, i.e. as an addition the the categories used in the past. What’s the difference between categories and tags?

As best as I can explain it, categories are things you create ahead of time and only have a few of. Imagine them like sections of your site. The signs on aisles of grocery stores. Tags are one-off keywords attached to a post. You may add a tag to a post that you’ll never use ever again. Categories are meant to be permanent, tags are ephemeral. [Source]

Only problem being that I have used categories like tags in the past, as they were the only option. I have in a bout a year used almost 1000 different categories on my blog. I can now switch to tags, but the whole thing remains clumsy none the less, as I have those nearly 1000 labels in my categories’ list, and of course I have since long stopped scrolling, I just entered the categories I needed. But how to maintain a fairly narrow categories list if you don’t see them in front of you?

Too bad they didn’t just convert categories into tags (as many people used their categories like tags in the past) and added categories as a new feature 😦 Alternatively, an import/export function would have been good, to avoid this problem:

I had a lot of categories. Can I delete those and just use tags from now? What will happen to my existing posts?
You can delete them but all your posts will go into the default category. You will have to edit every post and add back the tags.

Posts with a default category are lost posts, by the standards of knowledge management.

Another Breathtaking Western: “The Missouri Breaks”

September 23, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Film | 4 Comments
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In a way my favourite film thus far in the Filmmuseum’s “The Wild Bunch” programming is: The Missouri Breaks (USA 1976, directed by Arthur Penn), starring Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando, with the former appearing after 10, the latter no earlier than 30 minutes into the movie. And it’s those two actors who are giving the film an unusual flavour, considering it’s a Western. Nicholson does his Nicholson thing, yet in careful doses. Too much talking can kill a Western, but the few times that he gets the chance to exchange a few more lines he excels at it – it’s all in the voice and some carefully administered facial expressions.

The exchanges with Kathleen Lloyd as Jane Braxton (daughter of the rancher who got one of Tom Logan’s a.k.a. Nicholson’s cattle-rustling buddies hanged) in particular are hysterically funny. She is putting the moves on him and he decides to be shy… Kathleen Lloyd was fantastic in her role – but she didn’t even get credited in the festival programme, and I just had to add her name to the Wikipedia article on the movie. How odd!

Marlon BrandoOh, and the old man Marlon Brando. He plays a lilac-smelling ‘regulator’, hired to put an end to cattle rustling around the Braxton ranch. The character already has a taste of the insanity of a Colonel Kurtz, yet also a hint of Mrs. Doubtfire and Tootsie, as odd as that may sound.

And we get no happy end, no we don’t. Love and romance don’t get a chance on the frontier, not in 1976, and not if Nicholson and Brando are in it.

Aaw – all mixtapes go to heaven

September 22, 2007 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Culture | 2 Comments
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A really sweet picture from the PR blog that I cannot stop reading, although it also often annoys me (completely down wif capitalism, dem fellas):

Mixtapes go to heaven

Unfortunately it doesn’t say what the source was – did he possibly draw it himself?

How to translate “Rausch”?

September 21, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments
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I watched a very interesting panel discussion about psychoactive substances yesterday on 3sat, one of the few channels untouched by the general dumbing down of television that has occurred over the past 15 years (the only actual ‘shows’ on that channel are political cabaret – nice).

The people on the panel of delta – a sociologist, an ethnobotanist and a biologist and addiction researcher – were pleasingly unbiased (less biased then I am – I’ve never experimented much with drugs as the little exposure that I had to them did not seem to do me too good; with the exception of alcohol, of course, which is the one drug that middle-Europeans more or less know to handle and have integrated well into their rituals – from Bierfest to Holy Communion).

And one comment of the Ethnobotanist (a curious guy with long gray hair and tie-dye t-shirt) lingered on: that there is no equivalent expression of the German ‘Rausch’ (m.) in English. In technical terms, intoxication would be the equivalent, yet intoxication is much closer to poisoning than Rausch is to Vergiftung (=poisoning). And a high is neither the same – Rausch is much closer linked to alcohol than to any other drug. And a mere ‘drunkenness’ does not express the drive that is associated with a Rausch.

There is a bar and discotheque in Cologne (where I studied) called Das Ding (The Thing), and it used to advertise its experience using the slogan: “Der gute Rausch” (the good intoxication). It doesn’t use that slogan anymore, yet people still go there for only one reason: getting extremely drunk and inhibited in order to lose one’s inhibitions . I went there once, it was extremely packed and it was really awkward, as you were constantly chatted up by some drunk guy (that was before ‘Komasaufen‘, ‘coma boozing’, akin to binge drinking, became a sport). The only good thing about it was that only students were allowed to enter – this kept and keeps pimps and other folk who want to take advantages of hordes of drunk young women/people outside.

I just checked their website: Yes, they still operate, and they still have the same agenda: two days a week they serve free beer from 21-23h, two other days you can buy Whiskey Coke for 1 Euro, and the fifth day a bottle of champagne costs 4 Euros, plus 50c for each (empty) glass.

Anyhow: Anbody knowing a good translation for Rausch – let me know!

These are dict.cc’s suggestions:

inebriation Rausch {m}
intoxication Rausch {m}
drunkenness Rausch {m} [Alkoholrausch]
jag [sl.] Rausch {m} [Alkohol-, Drogenrausch]
delirious state Rausch {m} [deliranter Zustand]
high [coll.] Rausch {m} [Drogenrausch]

Mishandling of a student asking Kerry an inconvenient question

September 19, 2007 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Student | 5 Comments
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Today I would just like to point your attention to Cabbage’s post featuring footage from a Kerry speech.

SHAME. SHAME on John Kerry for standing by and watching a student being held down get tazored for exercising his constitutionally protected freedom of speech. The student wanted to know why Kerry turned his back on electoral fraud in Ohio and thus ignored ballots that could have won him the white house. A good, legitimate question.

And even if it wasn’t. Shame on the worthy senator for standing by his rostrum without saying anything while a kid gets hurt for having the courage to say something.

Go watch it.

Britney kicked out of restaurant for smearing food over her face

September 18, 2007 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Britney Spears, Food | 3 Comments
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Since I have been such an avid follower of Britney news, you shouldn’t miss out on this one: Ms Spears was kicked out of Chateau Marmont’s restaurant for smearing a plate of food over her face. Shit! Unusually, there are no pictures of the incident this time.
Quote from msnbc:

“The diners were disgusted,” said a Sun source. “You wouldn’t expect that from a teenager in a fast-food joint.” The Spears spy added that, “Royalty have dined in this restaurant. Her behavior was totally unacceptable.”

Oh, and this is also the same Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard where John Belushi OD’ed and died, Helmut Newton caused a car crash in the driveway and died and Lindsay Lohan rented a room for her clothes.

It’s a place where royalties dine, really.

I am sick

September 18, 2007 at 11:03 am | Posted in Sick | 1 Comment

and afraid of the world today.

Photographs: Hiroshima after the bombing

September 17, 2007 at 8:49 am | Posted in Film, Photography | 3 Comments
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I had never seen these photographs before. I watched Hiroshima mon amour 10 years ago (France 1959, directed by Alain Resnais), which made me feel so sick, yet is one of the most remarkable films ever. The very fact that it exists is remarkable. In the meantime I have obviously suppressed the memory. This was a refresher: Somebody called Fogonazos has posted Pictures they didn’t want us to see’. I think it’s worthwhile looking at them again now. Nuclear radiation turns you into charcoal immediately if you happen to stick around ground zero.

[» Link to Photographs].

I admit I also didn’t know about the discrimination of the Hibakusha (“those affected by an explosion”) that Fogonazo reports:

[The Hibakusha] and their children were (and still are) victims of severe discrimination due to lack of knowledge about the consequences of radiation sickness, which people believed to be hereditary or even contagious. Many of them were fired from their jobs. Hibakusha women never got married, as many feared they would give birth to deformed children. Men suffered discrimination too. “Nobody wanted to marry someone who might die in a couple of years”.

Or give a job to such a person.

The comments below the pictures inevitably jump right into the comparison of Hiroshima and 9/11, or rather 75,000 immediate killings (and a double number who died later; plus the victims of Nagasaki) vs. 2974 (plus 25 still missing). I really shouldn’t embark on this discussion yet it makes me sick to the bone that civilized countries develop bombs which they call Little Boy and Fat Man and turn against hundreds of thousands of civilians.

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