Japanese Tourists, Online Galleries, and Old Blighty

Doughty mews

  • If you're in London anytime soon, go visit Shunt, an underground (literally) bar/theatre/gallery run by a collective of 10 artists. It inhabits a gigantic series of vaults under the London Bridge Tube Station. Its lease expires in May!
  • When you do visit the Shunt Vaults, I can recommend 'Wuthering Heights,' a piece by "pop performance artist" Kazuko Hohki, who plays a Japanese tourist come to Yorkshire to visit the locations described in her favorite novel. Amusing cross-cultural comedy.
  • If you're into Second Life, you can visit the Dresden Old Masters Gallery online here. I tried to do this myself by downloading Second Life and creating a character, but I ended up in some weird beginner's zone where giant floating images completely obscured the environment and freaked me out. I couldn't teleport to the Old Masters Gallery. Here's hoping you have better luck.
  • If you visit the British Library and jump through all the hoops required to actually gain entry into a Reading Room, don't talk on your cellphone. No matter how well you think you've hidden yourself, the staff have CCTV cameras everywhere and will track you down and chastise you.
  • It's true what they say -- every building in London bristles with CCTV cameras. So don't try anything screwy.
  • I've never considered myself particularly völkisch, but while in England, I felt a mild sense of relief and fellow-feeling at being among 'anglo-saxons.' Strange, that. 

Synthetic Saxon Speech


  • A website with very odd samples of computer-synthesized German speech can be found here. It includes German spoken in computer-generated Saxon (g, mp3) and French (g, mp3) accents.
  • Let's keep on the subject of Saxony, a state in the former East Germany. According to someone I hung out with a couple of weeks ago, Saxons were offered classes in the early 1990s to help them get rid of their distinctive accents. And you thought accent-tony-fication was only for Margaret Thatcher!
  • Frogs have no penises.
  • The Mounties Catch Herpes.

That's all the factoiding for today.

Factoids for the Day

No time to post somethin' fancy, so here are the 'toids you need, from a source you trust.

  • The most effective political ad in the current U.S. presidential campaign deals with aerial wolf gunning.
  • Some unlucky person at the KFW (Germany's state-owned "Credit Institute for Reconstruction") transferred up to 350 million Euro (g) to Lehman Brothers last Monday, the day LB declared bankruptcy. D'oh!
  • Two guys I've never heard of describe the current U.S. credit crisis brilliantly here.
  • Since I'm an American taxpayer, and the American taxpayer now owns AIG Insurance, and AIG Insurance owns Manchester United football team, I suppose I now own about .000001% of Man U.
  • Wilco's most recent record, Sky Blue Sky, is magnificent.

UPDATE: Commenter Ingo points out that the Wilco link was broken. Thank, I fixed it. He also points out that the record has been out for a year now. To which I say: did I saw it new? No, I called it 'most recent', not 'recent.' And lay off me, already! This blog does not appear on vellum, bound in calfskin, edited by a panel of distinguished scholars. It's a fecking hobby. And besides, I ain't chargin' you people ONE THIN DIME for this, so if you don't like my humble efforts, Ingo, why don't you start your own goddamn...

Excuse me, it's been a rough day. I didn't mean to get all cranky. Have a nice weekend!

Factoids on Hope and the Brothers Grimm

  • If you're not visitin Bouphonia's glorious Friday Hope Blogging, you should start now.  Bouphonia also has something for the sea-slug fans out there.
  • Also, the Brothers Grimm German dictionary can be found online here.  It starts with a hymn of praise to the letter A as the "noblest and most fundamental of all sounds, sounding fully from the throat and breast, and which the child learns first."
  • Jonathan Rutherford and Zygmunt Bauman have essays on the culture of capitalism and privatization which can be downloaded from Soundings here.

This Week's Factoids on Language, Consulting and Computers

  • According to a friend of mine who works for a consulting company, one of their gags involves ordering workers to break up into teams, and then perform an exercise which involves each of them writing one or two words from a particular sentence on a index cards, until the entire sentence has been formed.  The sentences they use? "Caring parents are to be admired" and "Loving children are to be admired."
  • Possibly the longest debate on German Anglicisms on this or any other Internet can be found in a discussion forum of the online dictionary LEO right here (g).  For an amusing short story composed almost entirely of French imports into English click here.
  • Windows Vista has built-in speech recognition capability, which actually works amazingly well, no joke!  Just go to Control Panel, then Speech Recognition.  Why was I not informed of this long before?

Hashish, Hitchens, Heaven

  • A friend of mine yesterday told me that her acupuncture doctor herGod_is_guilty_of_everything_2e in Germany plunges needles tipped with tiny balls of hasish into her pressure points.  According to her, "Dr. Wang's entire office reeks of hashish."  Also, it feels soooo goooood.
  • Ed Philp recently sent me this joke: "A busload of people from different nations arrives at Heaven’s gates.  A sign says "Heaven -- turn left.  Lectures About Heaven -- turn right." The Germans all head to the right.
  • The fine Spiegel cover story on the "new atheists," which was announced by the classic cover "God is to blame for everything!" (see left), characterizes Christopher Hitchens as the "English Hans Magnus Enzensberger," which seems about right to me.  Both are public intellectuals with a claim to have read everything, both migrated away from the left, both write tartly ironic prose, and both surprised many onlookers by supporting the Iraq war.

Fast. Faster. Joy.

This blog's been getting a bit long-winded. Time to learn from the tabloids: the news you need, in the time you have. Presenting German Joy Factoids:

  • Fact: According to Titanic, German ambulance drivers have a private lingo in which they refer to doctors as "Druids" or "Higher Beings," depending on the particular ambulance firm. Epileptic attacks, however, are universally called "Dirty Dancing." In English.
  • Fact: In the television series Ma Famille from the Ivory Coast, an entire stretch of episodes during which one character complains of physical pain is called De quoi souffre Bohiri ? (What is Bohiri suffering from?). The next 2-part installment of the series is called simply: "Renal Insufficiency."
  • Fact: Germany has just won the World Championship in Handball, which, according to this news story (G), has again plunged "the entire nation into World-Championship delirium!" The President and Chancellor called to congratulate the team.
  • Fact: I don't even know what handball is.