A breastfeeding minor? 26/40

March 18, 2007 at 8:47 am | Posted in Film, Television | 4 Comments
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One of my students sent me this picture of a rather disturbing poster she found in a thrift shop in Istanbul, featuring what seems to be an under-aged girl (maybe 6) breastfeeding a baby.


If you take a second look, however, you’ll find that the girl is simply caressing the baby, and that the misleading impression is probably the result of the poster been buckled. I wish I understood Turkish – apparently, this is the poster for a Turkish movie produced in 1975 which carried the first name of the actress, Gülsah. Also, it’s a comedy, so let’s just hope that there are no comedies that feature breastfeeding minors. Nice example of borderline iconography though.

Apart from that, something wild happened on my blog today. The deletion of that insect on Google Earth was evidently a story of greater interest – it even scored place 66 on the list of top posts in English…. I doubt that that is going to happen again though – and look how pathetic my regular blog traffic is made to look now! It’s sunk into insignificance…;-)


Numbers are really dangerous. We watched another installment of Deutschland sucht den Superstar (German Popidol) yesterday, and the scenes at the end, when the results of the telephone vote are released are really nasty. Confronting 16 year olds with a vote on what must appear to them as their popularity is really quite harsh. Numbers are nasty. One interesting thing about my traffic yesterday: in spite of this incredible number of 471 viewers, none of them (except my beloved usual suspects) left a comment – although that’s what makes it interesting. On that remark (and in order of first blog appearance): Thanks Lenina, Nova, Lallopallo, Jetsam, Cabbage and Greg for stopping by regularly and making your contributions. They brighten up my days in F***ing Voradelberg tremendously! And thanks to the ‘lurkers’ who I know are there (and let me know so via email:-) A happy Sugahasisumnida to all:-)

Snow at last!

January 25, 2007 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Alps, Austria, Global Warming | 3 Comments

The snow that we’ve been waiting for so long now has finally decided to fall, gracing the roofs and fields with its soft blankets… and the streets and gutters with slush. No, this winter is never ever going to come into full swing, the winter sales have already started, I’ll never learn skiing (thank God 😛 but hopefully we are having a mild spring coming up as well. Even the clouds of global warming have a silver stripe!





This looks pretty neat – but is a few kilometres away from where I live already (sorry, just a webcam pic!)


Wikipedia in Alemannic!

January 23, 2007 at 10:35 am | Posted in Language, Web 2.0, Wikipedia | Leave a comment

AlemannicHail to the wisdom of smart mobs! I ‘ve just come across the Alemannic Wikipedia – Alemannic being a group of German dialects which are spoken in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, parts of France, Germany and Austria. In Austria, specifically, in Vorarlberg, the province that I live in. For people who speak standard German (or let’s say: standard German with a light regiolect and that includes me), it is one of the least comprehensible varities thinkable. As a matter of fact, it seemed completely outlandish to me when I got here, and one of the reasons for that is that a common greeting here is “Heil” – known to the rest of Germans only as part of the Hitler salute. So I guess that it is understandable that such language might put off the ignorant urban intellectual in a first encounter.

But no unified Alemannic language exists, and the articles in the Alemannic Wikipedia seem to have been written by people from all regions. Read the articles about Vorarlberg and the Vorarlbergian language to get an idea of how the people speak here (and why this can be so alienating).

Here is small teaser:

Ma ka säga, dass im untera Rhytal (ab Götzis abwärts gegat da Bodasee) ender Niederallemannisch gredt würd, witter dom (äppa Götzis ufwärts) würds wiedr meh Hochalemannisch, mit gwüssa Eigaarta. So üsserat si all no dr Untrschied zwüschat am Unterland und am Obrland. Historisch gseha isch des o Gränz zwüschat am alta Bistum Chur und am alta Bistum Konschtanz, dia alt Gränz zwüschat am Vorarlbergr Obr-und Unterland. So weachslat “gehabt” vum Breagazerischa “ghet” zum Dorabirarischa “ghia” zum Obrländr “kha”, eppa bis Fraschtatz (Frastanz) und Nenzig (Nenzing) redt ma aso. So hoaßts z’Breagaz “I hob ghet”, z’Rankl (Rankweil) seet ma “I ha kha” (Ich habe gehabt),id’r Mehrzahl “Mir hond kha”, eppa aso hoaßts o uf dr Schwiizer Sita vum Rhytal und im Liachtaschtoa (Liechtenstein). Im Walgau ischas wiadr a kle andrsch. “Ich weiß” würd denn vu “I woaß” zu “I weiß”. “I ha” würd zu “I hon”.

Living vicariously

January 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Friends | 4 Comments
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Suppose it’s time for another “F__ing Vorarlberg” post. If I give up my grudge against this place, I might be giving up my most important “constituting other”. These days, my thoughts are so much geared up towards leaving this place that I probably do not even try anymore to come to grips with it and the situation. I probably should do something about that. But except from commuting between work and my flat, there’s hardly any activity that I engage in these days (and I abhor the mere thought of social engagement, to be honest, although it would probably do me good). Tapping the internet for a few signs of life from distant friends, and that’s it. And it still seems to be the better alternative to me than beginning to hang out with the locals 😛

EDIT: commuting in this case means nothing more but a 15 minutes walk…

Vacation ahead!

December 12, 2006 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Teaching English | 2 Comments

Today I “wrapped up” the third semester course – the film reviews which students have to write are still due, but no more teaching will take place. The third semester started earlier and many courses were blocked to give students an opportunity to begin their exchange semester earlier. In Austria, the winter semester normally commences in October and ends in the final days of January; summer semester begins in March and ends in June. In most non-German-speaking countries, however, semesters or trimesters start in January.

The blocked courses were occasionally a bit tedious (180 minute classes can hardly be anything else, both for students and me), but at least I also get the benefit of not having to teach this semester in January 😀

Tomorrow are the final three seminars for me before my holidays begin on Friday. Can’t wait! On Saturday evening we’ll be in Vienna (Wien is German name) the capital of Austria and only city that has reasonable metropolitan dimensions in Austria. Although I have never been there, I have secretly already fallen in love with Vienna (and am secretly cherishing the idea of moving to Vienna one day – it’s 2.2 million people vs. 40,000 in the Dornbirn area!).

Who’d have been surprised at the results of this Googlefight?


Truth is, I really would have expected Dornbirn (“Thorny Pear”) to do worse.

A weak collocation: compulsory sociability

December 6, 2006 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Language | Leave a comment

According to Google Compulsory Sociability is a weak collocation, i.e. “sociability” is not very likely to appear next to “compulsory”. Only 5 occurences to be found in the whole world wide web.

To my surprise, Spontaneous Sociability is a much stronger collocation (11,500 instances), stronger even than obsessive compulsory disorder (353 to day). I quote from a (completely arbitrary, but mentioning my search term) bookreview:

The countries studied are divided into two categories: low-trust and high-trust societies. While tightly knit family bonds characterize the former category, more formal concepts such as the law, contracts, reciprocity, and moral obligation characterize the latter. […] What primarily differentiates the two categories, according to the sociologist, James Coleman, is their endowment of “social capital” transmitted through religion, tradition, or historical habit (10). Its most important subset is “spontaneous sociability,” the degree to which their communities share values in order to subordinate individual interests to those of the larger group.

Today, I did however not subordinate my individual interests to those of a larger group. The Krampus, Austria’s version of Saint Nicholas’ companion paid his obligatory visit to all departments. His arrival was heralded by the ringing of a bell – I was on the loo when I heard it, and stayed there until the sound had passed me.

Otherwise I would have been forced to read out a poem or sing a song or engage in some other type of public humiliation just to get some peanuts. I would like to think that it’s _nice_ that this one colleague of mine offers himself up to doing this gig every year (he gets to drink a shot with every one willing to when playing Krampus), but I personally prefer not to pretend this was one big Disney park.

So I sneaked into my office and locked the door behind me, making double sure they wouldn’t catch me 🙂 Tomorrow I am going to boycott the company’s Christmas party (no one of our department is coming anyway, instead I’ll have a little poker session at my place with two colleagues and the nephew of one of these colleagues). Down with compulsory sociability!

Hey, I’ve found out that Dornbirn looks much nicer in the dark:


And F***ing Vorarlberg is becoming the most popular tag on my blog. Does this mean I should submit my blog to the Vorarlblog, the blogosphere of Vorarlberg? No way (although I know and like the guy who is maintaining it) – I think it’d be wiser to consider dissing Vorarlberg a private hobby 🙂

Pathetic, living in a small town

December 6, 2006 at 11:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I realize that I am beginning (have since long begun) to repeat myself, nevertheless I need to make this point again: Isn’t it pathetic to live in a place that is so small that you can take a photograph of it, including its entire vicinity (other towns and villages, that is, not just suburbs), and still are able to locate the place where you work?

I’ve done that to today’s webcam pic from our local mountain. The red square identifies the buildings that belong to Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, the tiny yellow square locates the window (!) of my office. So in a way, I was looking into my own eyes when I captured this picture.

Clicky for biggy!

Btw, that’s the webcam I normally use:

Dornbirn Locator

EDIT: No, there’s nothing wrong with the webcam, the weather has just become really lousy!

The fog in Dornbirn


November 30, 2006 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another day, another webcam picture: The cloudy blanket that covers us is a bit more fluffy today. Still, I’d rather be beyond than beneath it.

Life, smothered.

November 28, 2006 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Nature | Leave a comment

So the Föhn wind that brightened up our weekend has gone and Dornburn is once more smothered by a thick layer of fog.

Here are some shots of Dornburn and the Rhine Valley: the first one is the shot my brother took on Saturday when we hiked up the Karren, and the other ones were spat out by the same mountain’s stationary webcam about fifteen minutes ago.

I’ve uploaded a succession of shots to show how nice the sunsets can be here – in theory, if only one managed to get beyond that thick layer of clouds. I, however, am writing to you from underneath the sad blanket…


Webcam Karren



Antifascist demonstration

November 26, 2006 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Once in a blue moon, there is an antifascist demonstration here in Dornburn.They normally gather at the station (Bahnhof) and as I live in the Bahnhofstraße, they always pass my house. This time I noticed them convening when I walked my brother to the station. I quite like being around left-wing teenagers (if they’re not too drunk;-), although meanwhile I probably look like a bourgeois cow to them. I mingled a bit with the crowd and then went home, thinking about calling Daniel to join me for the demonstration, but made up my mind again. They were already passing my house, so I just joined them.

The sight of roughly two to three hundred teenagers to young adults in full alternative gear has something incredibly refreshing to me:-))) Myself, I was dressed in my pink tartan coat and a pink silk scarf with roses, but actually appreciated the difference. The last time I wore a Palestinian scarf (that the English term for “Palituch”?) myself is well 15 years ago, and I suppose me and my friends didn’t look much different back then (except for the fact that “we” were not as heavily pierced nor tattooed).

Yet, at the present day, I thought it was even more important that a few bourgeois looking people joined the crowd. As a matter of fact, it is a shame how few of the people looking on actually did join (a dozen?). A demonstration against Nazis is in my view a gathering that every citizen is obliged to join, out of decency.

I had two interesting encounters during the demonstration: A guy in his mid-twenties who sold me a socialist pamphlet for € 1,50 and then wanted to know where I came from. Told him from Cologne and that I’d be working here now. Apparently he knew someone from the SSK (Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Köln), a woman whom he had meet on an internship in Vienna. He then asked me where I’d be doing my internship here in Vorradelberg… sweet.

The same comment, yet upside down, was administered to me by another of those pamphlet vendors who wanted my email address so that they could send me updates about the next demonstration, explaining that it would be difficult to keep in touch with “older people”, because the Antifa was a youth movement :-))

The walk through Dornburn took about an hour. I walked close to the float where they had propped up loudspeakers, playing what seemed to be the current antifascist hymns. I really digged the music! Would they be offended if I asked them for a playlist? 🙂

Three people gave speeches on the market place, unfortunately neither of them was a gifted speaker – I thought that this was probably one of the differences between current and past left-wing demonstrations. The youngsters now probably have better music (thanks to better equipment, that is), but we had better speakers 🙂

At one point, a couple of Nazis dared to flash their bald heads and were immediately chased by the crowd – but the police jumped to their protection just as quickly. Eventually they were caught up in a hallway leading up to a bar called John’s. The police didn’t let any demonstrators in, and the Nazis were to stupid to get out (apparently, there was a way out at the back).

I wonder whether all of the demonstrators will grow up to be assimilated, just like most of us. As a crowd, we were distinctly leftist back then, as individuals we were probably the result of our environment more than anything else. Being a leftist (“Linker”) was somehow one of the things to do in Bad Hersfeld if you hung out with people who liked to go to the “Zigeunerkeller” and to “Ismet” (ould have been either that or being part of the posh crew who had the money to drive to and go out in Frankfurt). It was probably easier being left-wing than being nothing, in particular if your parents were not loaded. But if your parents were teachers, it was also not unlikely that you’d end up there – if your parents went to the same pubs as you, they could treat you to a free drink and a free ride home 😉

I don’t blame any of the youth today for being so unpolitical – my political spells are long gone, too. Nevertheless, it’s probably the only chance you’ll get at developing a political conscience: being young and being left-wing probably goes together better than being integrated into society (by means of the jobs we have, the flats we rent, the cars we drive) and being left-wing.

I think it was Kurt Tucholsky (and I am probably wrong) who said that being young obliges to be a socialist – and that being old and still a socialist means that you are stupid.

Happy birthday, bro!

November 25, 2006 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Today is also the 36th birthday of my brother who has come down to Vorradelberg to celebrate. Yesterday we went to dine at the Tokyo Running Sushi Bar in B. Later, we saw the surprisingly funny Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot in the cinema, a film by a Bavarian director whose middle name is the name of the village he comes from (Markus Hausham Rosenmüller).

It’s interesting to have my brother here. From his perspective, Dornburn is a lively little town, 20 times the size of the place where he lives and two times the size of the nearby town where I went to school when I still lived there. To me, its a claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing nightmare, because I have this thing of believing that I can never be myself if I constantly run into people who know me. I either need complete anonymity around me or the reassuring presence of some close friends, a few people I trust. But this scenario of dozens of acquaintances, three quarters of which are work-related, seems to be really getting to me.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine and I tried to describe our favourite positions within a community/society and finally agreed that OFF-CENTER would be the ideal position: being able to observe what’s going own, but remaining unseen oneself. We had a type of invisibility in mind that would allow you to traverse and roam different social fields, but without ever having a particular standing (and in connection with that: responsibility) in any of these spheres.

This, however, is irreconcilable with particular professions, and maybe in general irreconcilable with most types of bourgeois careers.

Lest I get carried away, here are a few pics from today: My brother and I, me and my brother, and a view of Dornburn as seen from the Karren (to allow those who haven’t visited me yet to get an idea of what it looks like – come soon, before it’s too late!)

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy


Clicky to see these pictures on Flickr.

EDIT: Yes, we do have a rather dissimilar complexion. He’s pink and I’m yellow. We came out as the opposing extremes of phenotypes from your genetic pool (he could be a bit blonder, though – hey, I realized today that he does not have a single grey hair, in spite of being four years older than me… and I had my first when I was 16!)

Cologne vs Vorradelberg

November 17, 2006 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ok, this is an easy one. Vorradelberg doesn’t stand a chance against Cologne. I went there two weeks ago and life was just as good as it can only be in Cologne. Exaggeration, apparently, but it’s really a play-off of the city vs. the country side. Who needs the country side? There’s mainly people who never got out of there living there, whose priorities mainly are marrying and having children. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s the context that makes all the difference: It has to happen as soon as possible, the wedding must be catholic, a house must be built, the male children must be indoctrinated in becoming real men, the girls are forcibly feminized until they all see no other point in life than doing just the same.

Btw, the gender pay gap in Vorradelberg in 35% (wage per hour after taxes), in the whole of Austria it’s just 18%, and 15% in the EU. That includes all people with an income – if one looks at those who work full time it is an exasperating 64%! Incredible.

One of the many nice things that happened to me in Cologne was this gorgeous party at Hanjo’s neighbour’s house, which would probably have to be referred to as a factory loft–only that he built everything (!) himself. Except the walls and roof. The loft was built into a roughly 8m high former workshop building. It was one of those rare parties where roughly 8 in 10 people are dancing, with the Dj playing nothing but instrumental music from the 60s and 70s and not a single hit among it. We got there two-ish, and I decided to go to sleep there at about 7ish, with Jessi holding out even longer. And I was so happy, the pure form of happiness that can only be achieved through dancing and drinking and talking until the bright day light. Here’s a view from the Rhine when I crossed the bridge the next day.

Allein am Rhein, allein:-)

Two days later I had to return to Vorradelberg, was forced back into the ridiculous corset consisting of title, profession and standing that people put you on here, like it or not. God, I so much long for the city!

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