Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Christmas

Although the older Bob Dylan is not a patch on the younger Bob Dylan. His last few albums have been good. The first volume of his autobiography was just fanatastic. So I was disappointed to hear rumours that he wanted to collaborate with Paul McCartney. Why, oh why? I am not a great fan of the Beatles, but Paul's solo stuff is just shit and dull.

Even more weirdly I learnt that Bob was going to make a Christmas album. The one track from youtube I have seen, I really like. So perhaps, Bob is trying is hand at making good art from unpromising building blocks. Will he get pot head Sir Paul to change a habit of a lifetime and produce a reasonable song. If he does I will be impressed.

Christmas shopping

I really hate Christmas shopping. Although I mostly buy everything from Amazon, sometimes I have to actually mingle with the great unwashed masses and goto the shops. Today I went to the cityarkade in the center of Wuppertal to get that last elusive remaining gift.

The main problem is of course what to get people. I remember the brother of the unibomber in the states, felt that giving him Conrad's "the Secret Agent" started him on the path to terrorism.

I almost bought a tin of Sauerkraut, but since I am only taking hand luggage. I couldn't face explaining to the security what the tin was for. I did see what I thought was the perfect gift. I saw two thin tall glasses. Perfect, I though two traditional German tall glasses and a couple of German beers from the local Tesco should do the trick. On a second look though the glasses looked liked vases.

On the bright side I did find something nice for me. In a bookshop I found a package containing a hip flask and a knife. Why the two things were in the same box, I don't know. I will look so cool, sipping water from a hip flask, rather than using one of those nasty plastic bottles. It ill be useful to stop bullets as well, just like what happens on TV.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The future of Technics and Civilization

I reckon I only have a cubic meter of books to read in my unread book collection. Thanks to the general crappness of the German postal system, I have not been buying too many new books. I spent part of the weekend speed reading "The future of Technics and Civilization" by Lewis Mumford. I think I got this book from the Anarchist Freedom press in London.

The book is about the effect of the development of machines and automation on human society. When I was reading it I did think I should really read it more slowly to really absorb the content. However, since I was also writing perl scripts to extract data from xml files I didn't really have time. So I really misunderstood the whole point of the book, since it is partly about how automation could be used to free us from drudgery.

What the scientific spirit has actually done has to be exercise the imagination in finer ways than the autistic wish -- the wish of the infant possessed of illusions of power and dominance -- was able to express. Lewis Mumford

PS on dreams

I spoke too soon in my last post. I slept badly last night and I had many confusing dreams about work and calculations. I awoke late in a bad mood.

Even in Germany the cartoons on the TV tend to degenerate after 9:30. No spiderman or Xmen if you get up to the TV late on a Sunday morning. I noticed the same pattern in the US and the UK. Only people who get up at the crack of dawn get to see the interesting non-sickly cartoons.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

action dreams and thriller

For a long time I really feared my dreams. It was not that they were scary, or that I feared Morpheus's arrogance, but somehow I felt destroyed and unrefreshed the next day. (I wasn't dreaming about work either). So I did understand a little bit why Junky Jackson used his oxygen bottles and drip to help him sleep.

Last Tuesday I dreamt I could weep bullets out of my eyes. Somehow my motorbike was hidden somewhere, but hidden like an interesting challenge to find. I talked to some people before they went into suspended animation. I awoke with the thought that I am dreaming my own action movie. Perhaps then I have made peace with my dreams, if I spend all night dreaming of action movies. Luckily, Freud is out of fashion, so I can just enjoy all the explosions in my dreams.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Freemasons

I spent part of today reading "the freemasons" by Jaremy Harwood. My life is wondering more towards failure than success, so before I get too deep into my studies of the occult, I thought I would check out the "freemasons" as a compromise.

Perhaps surprisingly, there was a huge Mason lodge in Salt Lake city. The size of the pillars always impressed me. Now I know there was a reason for that. I was depressed when the main character in War and Peace joined the Masons.

Their belief system is fairly strange. I was more impressed by it, that I was by reading about Scientology or Mormonism. Their view of the Universe as weird enough for me to be interested.

At first I thought I couldn't join the Masons, because I don't believe in God. Later in the book, I found that certain Lodges would admit atheists. Also, I was happy to see that sodomy didn't feature as part of the initiation ceremonies. Given that some people claim that the Masons come from the Templars I wanted to be sure, nothing nasty would happen. So I was about to look for a local Lodge. I liked the idea of joining a secret society. However, when I saw that I would have to wear an apron, i decided against joining the Freemasons. It is fine line between weird and stupid.


I always used to be ashamed of the English in Spain. I like a cooked breakfast like the next man, but really is a full English a good way to start a nice hot day? Although I am living in Germany, I have been trying to live my life by the phrase: "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

However, sometimes I need proper British food for dinner. Yes I need curry. They do serve curry in the Mensa, but it doesn't have the correct kick. It has taken a while to find the correct shops to get the ingredients, but I made my first curry on Saturday.

For lunch today I ate Gebackene Bohnen, so I am back on the German food.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Given the state of world economy, particularly after the recent jitters with Dubai, I decided I should try to learn more about the dismal science: economics. So from my unread book collection I started reading "The Tulip" by Anna Pavord.

The connection between economics and Tulips is that there was a famous speculative market in Tulip bulbs in the seventeen century in Holland. Rare tulip bulbs could cost as much the equivalent of 80,000 pounds. When the market was stopped a number of people were ruined. All through the history of the tulip there were people who spent too much money on them. The message from the book was that people were a bit stupid to invest in tulips. Much the same can be said about Dubai.

After reading the book the question I mostly want answered is what the difference between a Tulip and a daffodil? After reading the book, I am not sure that I want to start a garden, but perhaps I should know more about plants and things. I know that a flower is not the same as a tree, but that is the extent of my knowledge.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


People are very friendly in Germany. My neighbours are always wishing me "Schon Abend". I am not sure what to say back. My German books are of no help. I have taken to going out early and coming back late, so the issue doesn't arise.

Trouble is I am not sure what I would say back to the equivalent phrase in English. In the US, if someone says "Have a nice day", I think how nice and polite people are in America. In the UK, if someone says "have a nice day", I think "how vulgar, why are they using US speak? What about a good old traditional English, now bugger off".

Rather than ask anyone I have done some web searching. I did find a research article on linguistic politeness in German-speaking Switzerland

There is even a theory of linguistic politeness, Wow I might indulge in a little "negative politeness".

die Fremden wissen nicht einmal wie man richtig grĂ¼sst' [foreigners do not even know how to greet properly.

That's me.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blue sky

I live on the 8 floor of block of flats. I look out on a forest of trees that have lost their leaves. If I look to the left, I can see the grimy city center of Wuppertal.

This morning I looked out to see a beautiful clear blue sky. The sun was also shining. It will be a wonderful day I thought, perhaps I will go for a walk later on.

I was about to jump out of bed to go onto the balcony and smell this crisp new Winter's day, when my body decided that I should go to the toilet to throw up first. When I came back, I could see clouds taking over the sky from the left. If you don't take the moment of beauty, you lose it.

The Mass Psychology of Fascism

This afternoon I finished reading "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" by Wilhelm Reich. I can't remember why I picked this book up. I dimly remember buying it in the left wing books shop called "News from Nowhere" in Liverpool. But why I wanted it, I have no idea.

Anyway the book is a mixture of Marxism and Freud. It was written during the early 30s, when the author was trying to understand why "the masses" don't always do what is in their best interest, such as supporting Fascism. Reich points out the importance of sexual health to democracy. (Perhaps if I was getting more sex, I might start voting again. Trouble is, I will have to vote at the next UK election by proxy, because I am living in Germany)

Given that large parts of the left were supporting Stalin at the time the book was written, it is refreshing to read an independent thinker present his ideas.

Now that I look at Wikipedia, I see that Reich led a very interesting life,

Saturday, December 05, 2009


In the UK I like to listen to the Today program when I get up in the morning. This usually gives a good overview of the news. As much as I love TV, I can't stand morning TV, since it is patronizing and shit.

In Wuppertal I have been watching CNN in the morning. Frankly I can' take it any more. It is not just the content, this is pretty terrible of course. Is it really a big news story that Tiger Woods crashed his car? The amount of content on CNN in the morning makes Twitter seem verbose. It is the adverts that are really destroying me mentally. All the adverts are the same day after day. No I am not going to invest in Georgia. There was a fucking war there last year. It is the piano playing that is really doing my head in. Every advert has the same chords/notes played. I feel they are trying to brain wash me.

If you are thinking "well why don't you stop watching?". Well I can't, because I am in love. One of the female weather presenters (Jill Delgado??) fascinates me. She is so happy and smart. She wears different clthes everyday, like a really classy chick. I don't stalk her or anything and my feelings about her are chaste. I don't build here into my masturbation fantasies, but if I did think about her physically, I think she would make a lot of noise in love making, and her partner would wake up exhausted with scratches on their back.

If any lawyer from CNN contacts me to complain, I do need to know where the storms are. It is a basic human right to know the delays at airports, because of tropical storms.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Marx is back baby

A spectre is haunting Wuppertal - the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.

Nowadays Marxism is almost a forgotten memory. Even as the banking crisis has started the death of capitalism, you don't see the dialectic being taken up. (Although I did see a poster with "Marx Lessen" on it at work). But I still feel the pull of Engels. Engels was born in Barmen -- one of the towns that Wuppertal is made of. And there is a house I can visit.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Two weekends ago I was entertaining. As part of this, we went to Cologne for a visit. The Cathedral is always impressive to see, however the huge rail station, a monument to science and technology, helps to dwarf some of its power.

We also visited the Ludwig Museum, a museum of modern art. I like the disintegration of modern art, from cubism to Warhol, but the "product" from the Turner prize crowd leaves me cold. Perhaps reality had been stripped so bare visually, that only making money by weaving the Emperors new clothes was left.

I was more excited by looking out of the windows on the top floor, than by the video pieces. I wish we had gone to the Chocolate museum as well. I was told it has a huge fountain of chocolate.

I also saw a Bier museum that looked just like a small pub. The next time I am in a Wetherspoons pub, I will say "there is the great new concept from Germany."