Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is that a Gartenzwerg in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

I'm always looking for a good way to describe to people that don't know Germany what a Spiesser is (well, technically: Spie/ß/er, I guess, but I never liked that letter. Go screw yourself, Eszett). "Square" is an approximation, but all the important connotations are missing. Then I found this on another blog:

It's a gross over-simplification to say a Spießer is a square, but it gives us a starting point. [...] So think of it this way: to be a square is to be uncool. [...] But a Spießer is more than just square.

He or she is one who has narrow and limited scope to their thinking and behavior. They are controlled by society's expectations for them and its definition of what is right and proper. Nonspießers are comfortable defining their own rules. The Spießer is always looking over her shoulder to see what someone else thinks.

So, while a square is defined mostly by style: clothing, music, dance moves or a lack thereof, Spießers are defined more by substance: what they do, how they act in a given situation. Clothing can be spießig, but clever Spießers are potentially everywhere, disguised by a Bundeswehr backpack or an Ärzte tattoo. It's best not to rely too much on personal style to detect them. [...]

And there's another essential difference between the American square and the German Spießer. Between the square and the hip there is a wall that is seldom crossed. If you're hip, you remain hip, because you're, well... hip. But in the German cultural universe the phrase most often used is "Spießer werden."

He goes on to say that, in his experience, the defining characteristic of the Germans he knew wasn't that they were Spiessers, but rather their fear to turn into one, their "Urangst" to become spiessig. He has a point, I guess. There were occasions when I claimed that the act of breathing itself is kind of spiessig.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Das geistige Äquivalent zur Drüberkämmerfrisur

Sehr einsichtiger (soll heissen: "aufschlussreich, und nach meinen eigenen Ansichten auch noch zutreffend"), vor allem aber mehr als solide geschriebener Artikel von Kathrin Passig im 'Merkur', über Technologiefeindlichkeit (und implizit auch über Technologiebegeisterung -- genau an der Stelle könnte man Passig dann auch einige Punkte entgegenhalten, im Sinne von "vorauseilender Enthusiasmus für alles Neue und Glitzernde ist auch doof, irgendwie").

Besser geschrieben als fast alles, was man sonst im Feuilleton sieht, und progressiv noch dazu, was man auch nicht so oft findet (vielleicht sollte ich mal was anderes als das FAZ Feuilleton lesen...). Max Goldt hätte es an einigen Stellen vielleicht noch besser in Worte gefasst, aber dafür fangen seine Ansichten zuletzt an etwas zu verspiessen. Muss der Erfolg sein, der macht bekanntlich satt.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Aus unserer Reihe "Die Schönsten Sätze der Deutschen Sprache"

Folge I:

"Die Auseinandersetzung verlagerte sich unter andauerndem Gerangel in den Supermarkt bis vor die Käsetheke."

[Rheinische Post Online, "Prügelei um Einkaufswagen", 13.12.2009]

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Das weisse Band

Remarkable movie. Then again, Haneke's movies always are. The trademark uneasy feeling of 'Funny Games' is still there, but the story, the whole atmosphere seems less detached from reality than in his earlier works, even though the film still appears to be set in an alternative reality where the ugliness of human behavior is immediately visible, at every moment in time. You could call this perspective a depressing one.[1]

I don't mind the somewhat arbitrary connection to "the great war" at the end, there's a long tradition of doing exactly that (cf. Zauberberg, Radetzkymarsch, Lord of the Rings), without giving any further explanation, and it certainly worked before. What I do mind are technical aspects: the movie doesn't look good, or rather, it doesn't look as good as it could given its otherwise excellent style. I would say that, mainly, the lighting is off. I read Haneke used color film stock during filming which was turned into black-and-white during post-production. Maybe that explains the impression.

What bothers me the most however is a kind of uneven quality of the acting, in particular when it comes to the dialogues. Some of the actors seem to be able to get into the period in which the movie is set, acting, and most importantly, talking accordingly, while others don't. Compare this to Shyamalan's 'The Village'; a lesser movie, sure, but I guess in that one they intensively voice coached the actors, or whatever magic those big (Hollywood big, I mean) movie productions employ, and as a result the time setting is conveyed more consistently in 'The Village'.

And then there's Detlev Buck. His own movies... naja. Don't really work for me. But the short scene in which he questions the suitor of his daughter (who is also the narrator of the movie) is a much needed moment of awesome comic relief, and it manages to be so without disturbing the rest of the movie. As a supporting actor he's a constant in Leander Haussmann's movies, and he's great in those, but I really want to see him in a leading role in a movie by, say, Dani Levy.

* * *

[1] By now I'm almost not surprised by it anymore, but it turns out my taste in movies is changing. About 10 years ago, I was basically in love with 'Funny Games', but recently I started to notice that I like this kind of movie less and less, and it has nothing to do with their quality, only with their perspective on life. I can't really describe the sentiment yet, so I'll just use a quote by Jim Dodge that I think is connected to the feeling I am trying to get across:
JD: (...) As to your direct question whether I'm a glass-half-full type of guy my glib answer would be "break the fucking glass!" In fact, though, it depends on my mood and who I'm talking to, though in my writing I tend to appeal to the positive and hopeful in human life, partly as a reflex of gratitude for the possibilities presented by this adventure in consciousness, partly because I want to encourage the best within us. Nihilism is easy, cheap, and ignoble; if you want to refuse the glorious opportunities life offers, fine--shut up and destroy yourself. But don't spit on the gift, or extend your destruction to others.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Upon leaving Bungehuis (not to be pronounced "Bungee house")

"Why don't you take a class at the linguistics department? Full of cute girls. Some of them are pretty smart, too."

"Nah... I don't feel like preying on the Uncomplicated."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Add one spoonful of insult to injury

The Facebook 'Suggestions' feature has already received
some attention, and then some more, so there's not much for me to add, but it appears that Facebook selects those users for suggestions from your friends list that show little Facebook activity, or only have few friends and wall posts, i.e. appear to be neglected.

The consequence, sending around suggestions to random friends to encourage them to pay more attention to the Facebook loners reminds me of a mother coming to the school yard one day, telling the older kids to "stop picking on my son, you bullies!". Something that doesn't even sound appealing in theory (unless your actions and the knowledge about their likely consequences are completely untainted by reality or experience).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hingabe, vorehelich. Nicht empfehlenswert.

Alter deutscher Farbfilm (...) Nicht wegen der realistischen Milieuschilderung, sondern im Hinblick auf seine sittliche Indifferenz (voreheliche Hingabe) wird vom Besuch abgeraten.

Handbuch V der katholischen Filmkritik, 1963, über den Filmklassiker 'Grosse Freiheit Nr. 7'

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On the dangers of (internal) monologues


[Derailing monologue from Duck Soup (1933)]

And this is precisely why you shouldn't discuss issues you have with real people with their internal representations in your mind beforehand. If I would be able to remember this I could avoid many unnecessarily heated discussions, I'm sure.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Aber er hat doch diese schönen Autobahnen bauen lassen

Title:
Daran erinnere ich mich gern. Ein Bilder-Buch für die Biografiearbeit (Thomas Haubold, Beate Wolf. Schlütersche Verlagsgesellschaft, 2009)

(approximate translation: "Such fond memories. An illustrated book for biography work")

Purpose:
Helping elderly people to battle neurodegenerative diseases by rekindling their fading memory. The theory behind is, I believe, that memories that are associated with strong feelings are inherently more robust than less emotionally charged ones. The aim then is to evoke charged memories that are likely to be shared by most people of some generation (kind of like a blueprint of memories. Jung, anyone?)

Target group:
Elderly Germans suffering from said diseases. Probably in their 80s now.

What kind of memories are we talking about?
Oh, you know, just the usual stuff: playing with your favorite toys as a kid, your first day of school, your first kiss, sitting around the campfire with your fellow Hitlerjugend friends. Wait, what?






I'm not entirely sure what to think about this.




[Hinweis: Alle Rechte an der eingefügten Abbildung liegen bei der Schlüterschen Verlagsgesellschaft. Ich verwende die Abbildung an dieser Stelle als Zitat im Sinne des deutschen Urheberrechts]

The scale. It has been tipped.

I am somewhat torn on the file sharing/IP piracy issue: on the one hand, I can understand that it looks like you are benefiting from someones intellectual work without being willing to compensate the artist who enabled you to enjoy it. On the other hand, I really have to think of it as such a huge opportunity to hear all the music, see all the movies that you ever wanted to. Like I said, I'm torn. But as of today, a bit less so.

Let us assume I did not buy any music in a while, maybe for as long as 3 years. Let us (counterfactually, of course) assume that I nonetheless manage to continue to listen to new music. Let us completely factually assume now that one of the most amazing bands I know goes by the name Oi Va Voi and that they released a new album. [1]

They are a fairly well known band, but I realized they are not exactly hugely popular either. It is entirely possible I got this idea when I noticed that their new album didn't show up on a search on pirate bay, and only with few seeders on torrentz. [2] At that moment I decided to buy the music album instead of leeching it off the Internet, and in fact to buy my first mp3 files ever, to support a band I happen to like. As it turns out, this is a pure pain in the ass.

You can easily find their latest album on itunes. Only that I try to avoid giving more money than necessary to Apple. *nervous eye twitching* Apple... *moves on* [3] I read that amazon was one of the first companies to sell mp3s DRM free, which seemed to me a pretty good reason to buy the album from them. But first I had to install the official Amazon mp3 downloader software. Why yes, this makes perfect sense to me. Plain HTTP file transfer through your browser is so, like, early 2006. Whatever, so I install the thing (to be fair, it is quite small, appears to contain no spyware, didn't autoload on system startup and allowed me to disable auto checking for updates). Only then it turns out that I cannot download mp3s from amazon, because I'm in the wrong country. Neither from .co.uk, .com or .de. Something about "regions" and "licensing". Never mind that I actually have a German billing address for my amazon account, the site probably just checked my IP address and decided that the Netherlands are one of those wrong regions - I might even agree, but for different reasons probably.

Conclusion: it would have taken approximately 30 seconds to initiate the download with the both small and elegant utorrent client (and probably about a day for the actual download, since there weren't many sources, as mentioned before). It is kind of difficult to convince myself that I should buy music if the cost-free alternative is faster, non-intrusive to your system and less likely to cause a burning rage that results in an unnecessarily long and somewhat rambling blog post. Let me introduce the following analogy: Imagine you put a Mars bar in front of a kid and tell him not to eat it. Then you leave the room. Then you come back, bring in a TV on which Mars commercials are running in an endless loop, with ad people happily munching on their favorite chocolate bar. Then you leave the room again, only now you blow some chocolate-scented air into the room. Then you come back and tell the kid that this analogy is going nowhere and that he can eat the candy. But you secretly think buying music on the Internet really sucks.




* * *

[1] One of my favorite songs, from their album Laughter Through Tears: Refugee

[2] I guess you can see where this is going. But I should note that it actually would have been possible to just download the album, so it was not just a pragmatic nuisance that lead to my decision.

[3] What's wrong with Apple, you ask? Everything, I answer. I hate them, or rather: company-hate them (that's a special type of disgust reserved for unethical companies, but it's, actually, quite different and less serious than real hate). The itunes software is a piece of crap [3.1], at least on Windows, the user interface of my ipod touch is at best mediocre and lacks a lot of functions that I think should be a no brainer, and they charge money for firmware updates... Seriously, think about that for a moment: they take money for something that pretty much every other tech company provides for free. But here's what really bothers me: No matter how much I dislike Microsoft, at least there's one good thing about them - as a company, it already receives the appropriate amount of hate. Why Apple on the other hand is such a respected company among geeks (at least that's my impression - it might be a particular subset of geeks, but I can't really define it yet) is completely lost on me.

* * *

[3.1] I don't care if itunes works great on Apple hardware. I bought an ipod touch, I am forced to use their proprietary software (unless I'm jailbreaking the little bugger, which I'm about to do) so I can reasonably expect that the software works at least decently under my OS of choice. But it doesn't. Not at all - it crashes, my settings are ignored whenever the software updates, it fails to import some music without any noticeable reason, and so on. [3.1.1]

* * *

[3.1.1] Wheeeeee, nested pseudo footnotes! I am immensely pleased by their existence.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Nationaldichter. Universalgenie. Dirty old man.

Viele Jahre darauf war Goethe bei Schiller zu Gast. Auf Schillers Schreibtisch entdeckte er ein Blatt mit dem Zweizeiler: "Er saß an ihres Bettes Rand / und spielte mit den Flechten."

Später, der Gast war bereits gegangen, fand Schiller den Vers vollendet. Goethe hatte hinzugefügt: "Das tat er mit der linken Hand. / Was tat er mit der rechten?"

[Rainer Schmitz: Was geschah mit Schillers Schädel? - Alles, was sie über Literatur nicht wissen. Eichborn]


Fussnote: Thomas Mann hatte sich, glaube ich, immer als eine Art Nach- und Thronfolger Goethes gesehen. Wenigstens einmal (im Aus-Goethes-Perspektive-Kapitel in Lotte in Weimar) wird der Anspruch auch ziemlich explizit. Aber Zoten wie diese zeigen natuerlich, dass nur Robert Gernhardt als wuerdiger Nachfolger in Frage kommen konnte.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In other news: Kant kontinues to konfuse

Mr. Kant would have you believe that reality is purely noumenal and beyond the reach of our phenomenal consciousness, thereby being inherently unknowable!

I guess I've been spending a bit too much time on Mr. Kant by now, but I can't help overanalyzing the video above... I think it's actually quite unlikely Kant would have held that "reality is purely noumenal", depending on what kind of reality you want to consider, and in fact his whole transcendental deduction seems to aim at building a strong, perhaps necessary connection between that which is knowable through appearances and the noumenal world which is in fact beyond our experience. It seems more like it is based on some Ayn-Randian misinterpretation of Kant. Wait, I just realize, that's probably the point - or at least it makes perfect sense to think of it like that; Attack Ad <--> Republican propagandists <--> Ayn Rand fanboys. There you go.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Glory, jest, and riddle

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest,
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer,
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of Truth, in endless error hurl'd:
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

Alexander Pope: An Essay on Man.

[more] [even more]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Think of this as the evil dual to 'Ponyo'

Just watched Tideland. What a fucked up movie.

I love almost everything by Terry Gilliam; Brazil is probably somewhere on my personal list of favorites, Fear and Loathing and Twelve Monkeys are both - at least visually - masterpieces, Time Bandits is incredibly silly and great fun to watch at least once, but I'm at a complete loss for words when it comes to Tideland.

Watching it I was either bored or severely creeped out. In fact, "creepy" isn't the right word, since a number of movies I like are in fact just that (David Lynch comes to mind). It's actually more of a deep visceral feeling of vicarious shame or embarrassment ("fremdschämen" is the German word I have in mind), in particular the eerie relation between Jeliza-Rose (a young girl and the main character) and Dickens (a retarded man she befriends), complete with some weird sexual undertones.

There's a possibility that this is intended by Gilliam, or at least, a tolerated side effect for those who are not part of the movie's primary audience. I actually have the suspicion that it works differently for male and female viewers - Tideland could simply be the most warped chick flick ever made. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing having seen a terrible movie by one of my favorite directors.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Misintrepreting Kant

Not quite an argument against the existence of god, but against the reasonableness of religion.

(1) Assume god is transcendent, i.e. lies beyond the boundaries of pos­sible knowledge. Then any attempt to understand (and codify) god's demands about human behavior are futile; nothing meaningful can be said about god, therefore nothing meaningful can be derived, e.g. commandments, or even guidelines for a good life according to god's will.

(2) Assume god is not transcendent. God then belongs to the same realm of spatio-temporal beings as humans. God might be a particularly powerful or wise being of this kind, but will not be different from us in principle. Observing god's laws (i.e. following the rules of a religion or religious philosophy) is then a similar matter to following the rules given by another human we consider particularly wise or powerful; while we might follow this person's rules, it is hardly a moral necessity to do so, depending solely on our own judgment whether we consider the rulemaker to be wise or powerful enough to make following his or her rules advisable, for the time being.

It appears to me that religions (and those that believe in them) need to think of god as (1), but, for the purpose of rulemaking, treat god as if (2) was the case.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Critique of Pure Happiness

EDIT: New working title: "Large pile of irrelevant thoughts. Projected to grow over time.", or "Random thoughts on life, and the attempt to impose some form and order on them".

This is intended to be a collection of thoughts that I believe to be somehow connected, and that I believe are in some way linked to the question how life and happiness work, even though I'm not entirely yet sure why I actually believe that. I will come back to it later and add more points to the outline here.

I'm sure it will be almost completely incomprehensible at the moment. I just decided to dump the ideas that I've thinking about here, instead of to my personal notes. During the last weeks, a number of ideas stacked up in those notes, listed there with the intention to be expanded on the blog, but in reality, they just remain there unfinished. Perhaps putting them here (equally sketchy at first) will add a bit of pressure to actually come back to them and work on them again.

  1. Methodology, i.e. how to answer the questions. (1) Establishing a system of necessary truths. (2) Observation-based argumentation, purely empirical. (3) Axiomatic system, formalizing (my own) intuitions as first principles. ==> Which intuitions are strong enough. ==> Once a system as in (3) exists, intuitions can be evaluated.

  2. All actions vary wrt their degree of influenceability. NB: every action influences every other action; consequence: desires and actions that are "easy", i.e. are under full conscious influence, affect those that appear almost uninfluenceable (i.e. happiness), and vv.

  3. Evaluation of events, considering that evaluation of memories changes over time. Q: Is there a right evaluation? If so, which one: during the event, or the current one?

  4. What follows from introducing "Happiness" as an axiom?

    • 'goal-dependent perception & reasoning' (TERM. The way of thinking that reduces the influence/understates the importance of experience that is detrimental to happiness).


  5. The 'diary test' of (daily) happiness.

  6. What are the different kinds of politeness (in the widest sense): friendliness (based on a feeling of compassion and/or connectedness) vs. politeness #1 ("Tokyo politeness") vs. politeness #2 (opening doors, letting others pass first ==> chivalry?). What is their influence on our state of mind? Do all people have the need for politeness, or the same type of politeness?


[First posted: 08.11.2009 -- Last Edit: 03.12.2009]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

So eyn freylekhe Wagner!

Tunes I heard being played by Amsterdam carillons:

  • Overture to Tannhäuser (Carillon inside the cupola of the Paleis op de Dam/Royal Palace)

    Wagner, in the middle of Amsterdam... really? Where's your sense of historic justice, Dutchmen?

  • If I Were a Rich Man (Zuiderkerk carillon, if I remember correctly)

    This one is obvious: Mayor of Amsterdam = Job Cohen ⇒ carillons playing Fiddler on the Roof.

    (jup, what you just heard was the ripping sound of my karma being cut in half...)

    You kind of have to appreciate the contrast between item #1 and #2, no?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's never too late to invest in pesticides

Somehow I just can't decide which of these two is the more lovable creature.

Contestant #1
"He reported trying to grab hold of the fish, but it was very slippery, and it forced its way inside with alarming speed."
- Wikipedia: Candiru
- Straightdope.com: Victim quotes

Contestant #2
"The fish is able to use the parasite just like a normal tongue."
- Wikipedia: Cymothoa exigua
- Picture of the isopod and its host

Don't you just love Mother Nature's twisted sense of humor?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hotels, the future, and the past

  • David Hilbert was a mathematician and hotelier

  • Imagine my surprise: Flight of the Conchords' Robot Song has an equally funny spiritual predecessor. German/Austrian even.

  • Wie kommt es, dass man, wenn man als Kind relativ selten lacht, meistens nur verhalten lächelt, höchstens als ein wenig ernst wahrgenommen wird, was aber letztlich nur zur allgemeinen Niedlichkeit beiträgt, wenn sich das Verhalten aber im Erwachsenenalter fortsetzt die Vermutung aufkommt es müsse ein Zeichen von Schwermut sein und damit Anlass zur Sorge geben.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Rapid Descent into Madness

"So, what have you been up to lately?"

"Nothing special, you know. Just the usual stuff... like re-enacting Michelangelo's Creation of Adam with the neighbor's cat."




Friday, October 23, 2009

Being with you made me feel like I'm somebody else

Interesting. As it turns out, inverting a perfect love story (a story about perfect love, not a perfect story about love) results in a perfect love story; seems to be invariant.

There's also Bach in the beginning and the end of Before Sunrise. In fact it's one of the Goldberg Variations. It kind of belongs there.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear Sir or Madam. I'm afraid your modifier scope is kind of broken.

Mysterious guy who hired group of mercenaries, while standing
in front of equally mysterious machine:

It may not look like much right now, but this could be the Holy Grail of physics.
  There are four forces that control matter. The key has been trying to find how those forces interact. If we can do that, then we can explain the behavior of all the substance in the universe.
  Einstein coined a phrase, unified field theory. Many people thought he was close to finding a solution. But when he saw the atomic bomb tests at Trinity, he abandoned the research and destroyed his notes. Nobody has even come close to finding a solution since.

Mercenary leader:
So you came all the way out here because you think that the Nazis...

Mysterious guy:
...were working on the same thing. I think this machine was designed to manipulate a unified field.




[Scene from the very entertaining – yet undeniably campy – dieselpunk slash Nazi occultism horror movie Outpost]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feline wisdom, part I

Amazing insight into the structural properties of cats and cat behavior is about to follow: When playing with a cat, it sometimes bites or claws at you playfully. Only that after a few minutes you realize you actually have a small bleeding wound on your hand because the beast did in fact bite quite hard. If, on the other hand, a dog bites you, the effect is noticeable immediately. Why did we domesticate any of those unruly flea-ridden little buggers again?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I guess he didn't know Facebook yet

Überraschung

Nach Jahr und Tag
dann wieder ein Brief
Die Handschrift schräg
und die Marke schief
und du wagst ihn gar nicht zu öffnen

Du drehst ihn um
Kein Absender drauf
So lange her
doch da ist er schon auf
Und du wolltest ihn gar nicht lesen

Dann liest du ihn doch
und denkst schon entspannt
Es wird ja weder Roß
noch Reiter genannt
Und die beiden kennst du persönlich

Da erwischt sie dich wieder
kalt diese Schrift
Sie teilt dir nichts mit
doch sie ist immer noch Gift
Und du schaffst es gerade zum Waschbecken.

[Robert Gernhardt, "Weiche Ziele"]

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Science Park 904

(1) The new faculty building [NB: not my flickr account] has an established common name by now, no point in denying it. Everyone I talk to simply calls it "Science Park". I didn't like that name from the first time I heard it. "Science Park" is the whole area, not just this particular building (even though it is undeniably the dominant element there). But more importantly, it's pretty uninspired to call a building with the official designation 'Science Park 904' simply 'Science Park'. Obvious, maybe, but bland. I actually thought that 'fenwee' would sound okay, based on the acronym for our faculty, FNWI. Well, too late now.

(This reminds me of how I never liked how insipid most of the contemporary sociolect at German universities seems to be: Studenten are "Studies", Erstsemester are "Ersties", etc. Sometimes I think other languages are a bit more creative when it comes to neologisms, but maybe that's just self-deprecating thinking.


(2) Funny how constant usage of the Internet changes your way of doing things that are seemingly unrelated to it. Today, when I walked into one of the two ILLC coffee/printer rooms I noticed a note on the fridge, saying "ILLC experiments - Please do not open". I immediately thought 'bullshit', after all what kind of experiments could logicians perform that require constant cooling, so I thought it's probably just a clever way of keeping your precious unhealthy snacks safe from the other scientists ("I never trusted those biologists with their shifty eyes...")
Then again, I didn't open it, on the off chance that doing so would actually ruin something that someone cares about.

What I did think however was "I'll just google the phrase later -- probably as an 'exact phrase' search -- and maybe I'll find out something about it". Then I realized how unlikely it is that there would be any mentioning of this on the net. (Well, until now, I guess)

The strange thing is that instead of thinking that I should ask someone else from the institute about this, who perhaps might have noticed the note as well, it appears that by now my initial impulse upon discovering something new and mysterious is to want to do some research on the net. How Gibsonian of me.


(3) The security company that is in charge of guarding the Science Park building on the weekends brings a small van along, in which they keep two guard dogs (it's some kind of special car with a built-in cage), and park it right in front of the entrance. I have absolutely no idea why they would need those dogs, especially since I've never seen them being taken out of the car, not even to mention that it could be considered cruel to let them spend hour after hour inside a ridiculously small cage with just the rear door of the car (but obviously not that of the cage) open to let some air in.

Understandably, they are pretty pissed, so whenever someone leaves the building, they predictably start snarling and barking at the intruder (technically, that would be an extruder, I guess, since you're leaving the building). It certainly adds some unique concentration campy charm if every time you want to leave the place you stare into the eyes of two psychotic German shepherd dogs trying to jump at your throat.