Elisa's Blog
Monday, November 28, 2005
Seen in one of the science internet forums:

Cause I said so. § < - > 11/27 01:09

There can be no scientific basis for this § <statement> 11/27 13:14

You aren't Simon § <mrmystery> 11/27 17:37


Sunday, November 27, 2005
You know, I think I figured it all out about pop radio stations.

All pop radio stations own a collection of a total of 10 CDs (not the same collection for all radio stations, obviously). Periodically, oh...about once a year or so...one of the CDs in the collection gets replaced with a new one, mostly obeying to the whims of what's popular at the moment and more or less what matches the station's style, with the result that the whole of the collection only gets replaced about once every 10 years or so, on the average.

That's why you keep hearing the same songs over and over again when you turn on the radio on your car, even two or three times per day, if you're lucky (if you're unlucky, you'll hear the same song placed twice in the same hour). Radio stationing must be a very ungrateful job: not much pay from advertisements to expand the CD collection even to the number 11, that much is quite obvious.


Friday, November 18, 2005
This morning I came across the following passage from Günter Grass's Mein Jahrhundert ("My Century"), which is a collection of short sketches about life in Germany during the past 100 years as described from many different viewpoints (a housewife, a soccer star, a laborer, a doctor, a child, a journalist set to interview Remarque and Ernst Jünger, for instance, among many others), with each chapter depicting one each of the years in question.

The following passage is from the chapter corresponding to the year 1991:

"You don't see any dead people. All you see are wobbly gun sights and then hits. Bull's-eyes supposedly. It's like a game...."
     "Right. Because CNN's got the TV rights for this war---and the next one after that..."
     "But you do see oil fields burning...."
     "Because that's what the whole thing's about. Oil and only oil! Any kid knows that. That's why they're out in the streets. Leaving their teachers, leaving whole schools empty. In Hamburg, Berlin, Hannover. Even in the East---Schwerin, Rostock. They're carrying candles again, like two years ago...."
     "But when we marched against the war in Vietnam and napalm..."
     "Don't give me any of your '68 crap.While you're sitting here on your ass, those kids..."
     "It's not the same. We had our own perspective, a revolutionary concept, you might say, whereas these kids with their candles..."
     "But comparing Saddam to Hitler, that makes sense, doesn't it? Isn't it clear what's good and what's evil?"
     "It's more of a metaphor.We should have gone on talking, negotiating, used an economic boycott the way we did in South Africa. Pressure, not war..."
     "But this is no war! It's a show put on by CNN. A co-production with the Pentagon. The consumer can turn it on and off at will. Fireworks in the comfort of your own home. Nice and clean. No deaths. A science-fiction extravaganza. Just add pretzels..."
     "But you do see the oil fields burning and missiles falling on Israel. There are people in basements with gas masks on...."
     "And who's been arming Saddam against Iran all these years? Right. The Yanks, the French..."
     "And German business. Here. Look. A long list of choice goods: missile accessories, poison kitchens with recipes..."
     "I guess that's why that Bierman guy, who I always thought was a pacifist, I guess that's why he's for the war. He even says..."
     "He doesn't say shit; he just blasts the people who don't agree with him...."
     "Know what he calls the kids marching with the candles for peace? Crybabies..."
     "Because they have no goal in mind. No broader social perspective, whereas we..."
     "What about 'No blood for oil!' Doesn't that say something?"
     "Not enough. When we marched against the war in Vietnam..."
     "Look, 'Ho! Ho! Ho Chi Minh!' is not what you'd call a brilliant argument. And now it's a bunch of kids out in the streets. Munich, Stuttgart. Over five thousand of them. Play-group kids even. They march a while in silence, then burst out with 'I'm scared! I'm scared!' That's a first for Germany---public confession....If you want my opinion..."
     "Who needs fucking opinions! Look at those kids, will you? What isn't Adidas is Armani. Spoiled brats, scared their designer clothes are in jeopardy, whereas in '68 and later---when we marched against the Frankfurt airport expansion and the Pershing II in Mutlangen---that was the real thing. These toddlers and their candles..."
     "Look, isn't that how it began in Leipzig? Every Monday we met at the Nikolai Church for a peaceful march. Every Monday till the bosses got the jitters..."
     "It's not the same...."
     "But Hitler and Saddam. They go together, don't they?"
     "The oil fields are burning...."
     "And in Baghdad a shelter packed with civilians was..."
     "You don't see that on CNN..."
     "Of course not. This is the future. TV rights will be auctioned off before every war. And the time to start pre-production is now. Because there'll be another one soon. Somewhere else if not in the Gulf..."
     "In the Balkans? The Serbs and the Croats..."
     "No, only where there's oil..."
     "And where you don't see any dead people..."
     "And only the children are scared..."

Thursday, November 17, 2005
So yesterday I went with a friend to the Symphony, and listened to Shostakovich's 4th.

Aaaah, what a beautiful work of art!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Ooooo! Guess what!?

I just got an email announcing that Henle-Urtext is having a 50% discount sale on all Mozart and Schumann scores, on occasion of the holidays and the happy circumstance that it is Mozart's 250th anniversary and Schumann's 150th memorial. Wow, such an occasion doesn't come every day you know....

What's more, the sale is going on through December 15th!!

So, hint hint, for you people that need things to be super clear and blatant: If you have no idea what to get me for Christmas this year, and are planning to (hey, I've been a relatively good girl this year, as my blog can attest!), a copy of Schumann's Kreisleriana in a Henle-Urtext edition (get it at 50% off!!) would be really, really nice.


Monday, November 14, 2005
So, in Mary W. Shelley's book, "Frankenstein", all it takes is one look, shortly after he's done with his painstaking stitching together of skin, muscle, and tendon, for Victor to fall prey to a violent loathing for his own creation lying on his worktable.

Not too long ago, I was arguing with a family member, about whether if, assuming it is true that we were created by an omnipotent God, who doesn't need us (since he's omnipotent), it can be possible for him to love us. How can you love your creation, if it is akin to a software engineer loving his program, or a mechanical engineer loving a robot he builds, or a clay artist loving the vase he molded, or a writer loving a book he wrote. It makes no sense at all. You could be proud of your opus, but love it? Hardly.

Anyway, back to the point. It took just one look for Victor, and his subsequent hatred (just brought about by one look at what he thought was an abomination!) eventually makes the monster become so sad and lonely that the only way to express this is by murdering everyone left and right and this finally brings ruin upon himself and others, thus condemning both himself and his creator to a lifetime of suffering. A veritable disaster. Great Halloween story it is indeed.

But then I thought, if it really is true that we are some omnipotent God's creation, and he is, at least at first, like Victor was, rather proud of and full of hope for what he's done, what if, one day, after the next bomb we drop on innocents, or after two friends become sworn enemies, or a parent raises his hand to a child, or the next time the teenager down the street kicks a dog, or who knows what other insidiously evil yet mundane thing that we tend to do, all of us, every once in a while, He decideds He doesn't like us, that we're not what He thought we'd be, and abandons us? Hmmm? What then?

Sunday, November 06, 2005
To whomever smarty-pants that came up with the saying: "Actions speak louder than words."

I say: "Yes, but the motivations behind the actions are important, and you can only discover those through words."

Friday, November 04, 2005

So my company is in the process of moving to a new office. Of course this then produces a frantic panic among the engineers what with trying to fit the packing of their prized possessions, toys, the loads of junk and experimental unfinished projects in the labs, the personal documents, tidying up unsaved software work, etc, all the while trying to cram in the usual work hours, so the office these days is a hubbub of activity.

Right outside my cube is a huge 3-meter cubed box labeled "TRASH". 2 hours ago, one of the managers came by and dropped 5 or 6 CDs worth of commercial software in there. By now, the box is almost full, containing, as said manager pointed out, over $100,000 dollars worth of equipment, including: 3 debuggers, several computer keyboards, a fully functional 4 MHz analog oscilloscope, 2 survey-grade GPS receivers, assorted serial and antenna cables, antennas, chipsets, and various other electronic parts, most of them, though old, still perfectly functional.

An old friend of mine just recently mentioned to me that he was glad that he lived in a plastic, "throw-away" society. I can see his point: if one is able to live in a society where the cost of buying something new is less than the cost of repairing something old, or the profits gained from selling something you no longer need is smaller than the savings in transportation, time, and effort you'd get from just throwing the unneeded stuff away, then one is living rather well off indeed.

Still, that was not enough to prevent me from staring wide-eyed and incredulous at the huge box outside my cube.

And I thought about Mexico.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Heh. I just got invited, then uninvited, to a hockey game.

The exchange went something like this:

Person "inviting" me: "Oh, by the way, I've got an extra ticket to the hockey game tomorrow, but...I'm assuming given it is you that you wouldn't be interested."

Now, let's think, why bother inviting me, then uninviting me in the same sentence, and then insulting me, high-school style, as in "nerds like you who'd rather go to the symphony than a sports match with a bunch of rowdy male coworkers wouldn't have fun at this cool event I'm going to, you'd probably have a lot more fun staying at home reading your encyclopedia". Hmmm? Probably, my guess, is just to flaunt the fact that you're going to some event that you think is cool, and excluding someone from the event with an added implied insult gives you, apparently, an even greater "coolness" factor.

The situation, you must admit, is rather comical, and what better way to make a comical situation better, than to exaggerate and amplify it, so I exclaimed, adding a little studiously contained jump masking as a candidly innocent bright-eyed bout of hardly-controlled enthusiasm:

Me: "Oooo, hockey game! I've always wanted to go to one. Who else is going, the rest of the [male coworker] gang? Cool! Oh, yeah, thanks, I'd love to go! By the way, would you be terribly offended if I brought a book along?"

The look on the guy's face when I said that was priceless. ;)

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