ArchiveMarch 2006

lingo trouble


Nicole Simon has some interesting points to make about blog language. Interesting one, still: Which language to write in – English? Native? Bilingual? The latter one seems to be ruled out by default, as it’s simply too much effort & too boring to produce everything twice. Native? Access for everybody with the same-language background, no matter which level of education. English? More interaction with the blogosphere at large is possible – your English-blogging fellow bloggers won’t be able to link to your stuff if it’s some obscure language they don’t understand.

Tough one. Any ideas? I’d propose to have the discussion at Nicole’s blog where it started: [Nicole Simon:]

NYT direct


It should come as no surprise that “Basic Instinct 2,” the long-gestating follow-up to Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 blip on the zeitgeist screen, is a disaster of the highest or perhaps lowest order. It is also no surprise that this joyless calculation, which was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and possesses neither the first film’s sleek wit nor its madness, is such a prime object lesson in the degradation that can face Hollywood actresses, especially those over 40. Acting always involves a degree of self-abasement, but just watching trash like this is degrading.

Now, surprise, surprise! Anyway, that’s what I really like about New York Times movie reviews. They’re just in-your-face. Also, NYT has another excellent newsletter I can only recommend: Circuit, an excellent tech newsletter, which regularly comes with a top story written by the great David Pogue. They just got it right!

go to the web!


Maybe it’s time to consider the Web.

After a long freeze brought about by the dot-com crash and 9/11, Web editors are hiring and Web operations are expanding again. Safa Rashtchy, a senior research analyst at the securities firm Piper Jaffray, recently predicted that online advertising will reach its tipping point in mid-2006. That’s prompting news organizations to realign their resources to focus more on Web journalism.

What’s more, for a discipline with decades of tradition and well-defined standards of practice, there is a sense of excitement and rejuvenation about journalism as it is being practiced on the Web today. The rules are still being written, so the practitioners, by and large, are following their own muse as they explore new ways to communicate news and information.

Anthony Moor with a very encouraging piece about job perspectives in online journalism: Go to the Web, young journalist!




“A number of major cities have these autonomous zones, and how a given city chooses to deal with the situaton can impact drastically on that city’s image. Copenhagen, for instance, was one of the first, and has done very well. Atlanta, I suppose, would be the classic example of what not to do.” Harwood blinks. “It’s what we do now instead of bohemias,” he says.

“Instead of what?”

“Bohemias. Alternative subcultures. They were a crucial aspect of industrial civilization in the two previous centuries. They were where industrial civilization went to dream. A sort of unconscious R&D, exploring alternate societal strategies. Each one would hve a dress code, characteristic forms of artistic expression, a substance or substances of choice, and a set of sexual values at odds with those of the culture at large. And they did, frequently, have locales with which they became associate. But they became extinct.”


“We started picking them before they could ripen. A certain crucial growing period was lost, as marketing evolved and the mechanisms of recommodification became quicker, more rapacious. Authentic subcultures required backwaters, and time, and there are no more backwaters. They went the way of geography in general. Autonomous zones do offer a certain insulation from the monoculture, but they seem not to lend themselves to recommodification, not in the same way. We don’t know why exactly.”

William Gibson: All tomorrow’s parties

a time to make friends


“Zu Gast bei Freunden”, that’s the slogan for the soccer world cup 2006 in Germany. The English version is slightly different: “A time to make friends”. (Literally, “Zu Gast bei Freunden” translates rather into “To be a guest at a friend’s place”.)

So much for the advertising. A friend of mine who lives in Canada and happens to be a Peruvian citizen is trying frantically to get a tourist visa for Germany to come and see some of the games. He even has tickets, for god’s sake! In order to get his visa, he needs to be invited by a German citizen (same system as in Russia, by the way, not to indicate anything). This letter has to be notarized. Additionally, and there it’s getting really ridiculous, they need a form called declaration of commitment, or Verpflichtungserklärung. (Don’t German bureaucratic terms always sound oh so sexy?) This, in turn, is supposed to prove that the host (me) is willing and able to financially support the invited guest, no matter what, i.e. hospital etc. To prove it, you need to show up (in person, physically!) in the Ausländerbehörde office (some sub-department of the Foreign Service, I guess) and show them your salary or, in case you work freelance, as I do, a written statement by your tax advisor. Then you pay 25 Euros for their effort. Did I mention that this office is only open 4 days a week, some hours each? Working full-time? You’d better not be inviting any friends over!

As you need to coordinate every step with your guest, they’ll definitely realize the pain it is for you. I’ve hardly ever felt so embarrassed by this country. Time to make friends? Forget 2006 – try again in 2024!