Introspective and Intellectually Cautious

Hilarious quote comparing medieval Europe to Al-Andalus:

(talking about how Muslim scholars studied ancient Greek philosophy and the medieval Christian’s suspicion towards pagan texts)

“Set against this vibrant Islamic culture Europe can appear an introspective and intellectually cautious place.”

Muhahaha … “introspective and intellectually cautious” … this cracked me up 😀

CRE191 Internet im Festnetz

Der CRE über Internet im Festnetz ist besonders lustig geraten. Es ist teilweise echt überraschend wie dreist wir zum Narren gehalten wurden/werden … 🙁

Besonders lustig (d.h. die Szenen haben auch komödiantisch was her):

  • 43:19 über die “digitale Revolution” für Leute in der DSL-Wüste und den “heiligen Akt” der Einwahl 😀
  • 1:58:53 über die Möglichkeit 200Mbit über den gewöhnlichen Hausanschluss zu bekommen.

Money Quote:

Tim: “… Könnte ich ja im Prinzip 100Mbit …”

Gast: “200”

Tim: “… in jede Richtung? …”

Gast: “Mhmm”

(3s Schweigen)

(Zögenrndes Lachen)

Gast: “Aber warum … warum sollte die Telekom dir sowas legen, wenn sie dir auch ein Bussinesprodukt verkaufen kann, wo sie schön den Bürgersteig für aufmachen und ‘ne Glasfaser rein legen und dich tausend-quietsch Euro im Monat dafür zahlen lassen.”

Wirklich deprimierend. 🙁

It’s blue, wait … green, no … actually it’s 青

There are certain concepts that don’t translate well over language borders. It is difficult to convey a nuance of something to someone which she is not able to conceptually grasp (be it mentally or linguistically).

There are obvious things like Phonems (everyone loves those 😉 ) …

  • “L” vs. “R” in some Asian languages
  • “B” vs. “V” in Spanish
  • Turkish “ı” and Korean “” ([ɯ])
  • [x] vs. [ç] in German “ch”

… and less obvious things like … colors. 🙂 The most interesting thing is that almost all languages seem to make a black<->white and a red/yellow<->green/blue distinction. I came across a Wikipedia article talking about distinguishing blue from green in language as not all of them do. Another interesting concept that was described is that in some languages it is also hard to distinguish blue from black. There are studies showing the interdependence of color concepts:

According to Brent Berlin and Paul Kay‘s 1969 study Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution, distinct terms for brown, purple, pink, orange and grey will not emerge in a language until the language has made a distinction between green and blue. In their account of the development of color terms the first terms to emerge are those for white/black (or light/dark), red and green/yellow.

– Wikipedia


War Surgery

There is a documentary on war surgery (be warned: it’s quite graphic) that was brought to my attention. It was produced by the the medical division of the International Committee of the Red Cross and shows general principles of war surgery covering things like wound debridement, lower limb amputations, skin grafting of injuries from land mines and high velocity impacts.

I’ve just come around to watch it and well … it’s not easy to stomach … 😐 Though the documentary seems quite old and not of good audio-visual quality it’s still quite “graphic”. There are basically two levels you have to deal with in comprehending what you are seeing.

The first one is that war is nasty. And it produces some seriously disturbing imagery that stays even when the actual combat action is over … considering mines there, doesn’t even need to be “combat action” any where to result in casualties. People wounded under such circumstances don’t really get medical attention immediately and if they do, it’s most likely inadequate. So when they reach a adequately equipped facility their wounds will be in quite a bad state. But one thing that you begin to realize and that makes your stomach cringe is the realization, that in contrast to (fire, vehicle, etc.) accidents that may produce similarly graphic injuries war injuries are inflicted deliberately! :/

The second thing is the reality of surgery. This might come as a surprise to some of you, but surgeries – especially on non-healthy tissue – look quite nasty in themselves. Some get easily upset from blood or scars on the surface, but the world that is underneath your skin is quite squirmy (if that’s the right word 😉 ). It’s gory, it’s gooey and you might realize that though the person being operated on is unconscious he is quite “alive” inside … and then there is the surgeon cutting, clamping, “soldering” (i forgot the medical term), sewing, etc. … and they are not very gentle at doing that … 😐

So be warned, this is “starker Tobak” as Germans would say. 😉

Lawrence Lessig interviews Jack Abramoff on corruption in Washington

It seems there was a public interview of Jack Abramoff by Lawrence Lessig under the banner of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at HLS, of which Lessig is the director.

There are two nice write-ups with pictures and quotes. There is also a video of the interview. 🙂