betabug... Sascha Welter

home english | home deutsch | Site Map | Sascha | Kontakt | Pro | Weblog | Wiki

Entries : Category [ culture ]
...the stuff with the certain "je ne sais quoi", art, style
[digital]  [language]  [life]  [security]  [media]  [zope]  [tourism]  [limnos]  [mac]  [athens]  [travel]  [montage]  [food]  [fire]  [zwiki]  [schnipsel]  [music]  [culture]  [shellfun]  [photography]  [hiking]  [pyramid]  [politics]  [bicycle]  [naxos]  [swim] 

19 January 2007

Literarisches Mischmasch, sogar in Indien

Stories überall!

Die letzten Tage war ich mit einer leichten Erkältung nicht so ganz auf dem Dampfer. Was also besseres tun als zu lesen? Am besten gleich alles durcheinander: Wenn ich im Bus zur Arbeit fahre, lese ich "Eragon" von Christopher Paolini (so eine Art Tolkien-Verschnitt, leicht ins schnulzige abdriftend, schon mal gelesen aber lange genug her, dass ich mich nicht mehr an alle Details erinnere), wenn ich vor dem Computer sitze lese ich zwischendurch in Rudyard Kiplings "Kim" weiter. Schlussendlich lese ich von Vangelis Hatziyannidis "Vier Wände" auf Griechisch ("Οι τέσσερις τοίχοι"), allerdings brauche ich dafür etwas mehr Konzentration.

Als ich gestern ein paar Seiten in Kiplings Buch las passierte etwas seltsames. Auf dem #zope irc channel kam jemand vorbei mit ein paar Fragen wegen etwas was in seinem Code nicht funktioniert. An der Art seiner Sprache schien mir etwas seltsam und ich wusste nicht, ob das dran lag, dass ich grade Kiplings altertümliche und indisches Englisch nachahmende Sprache gelesen hatte. Ich hatte das Gefühl als wäre ich noch halb im Buch. Schliesslich schaute ich per /whois nach, woher er kam und siehe da... aus Indien. Was für ein Zufall.

Ich nutzte die Gelegenheit, ihn zu fragen, ob er Kiplings Buch für Quatsch hält, oder ob er denkt dass es zumindest etwas mit Indien zu tun hat. Er meinte dass Kipling ein uraltes Indien beschreibt, dass Indien sehr vielfältig ist ("India is too diverse to describe in one book.") und dass ich doch vorbeikommen und es mir anschauen sollte. Da hat er wohl recht.

Posted by betabug at 10:49 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 February 2007

The Children of men

A tough book by P.D. James

When I came back from Munich I had run out of books. So I went to a bookshop at the airport and looked what I could get. What I got was "The Children of men", from P.D. James, which had lately been turned into a movie. It's been a tough book for me and I can't imagine any sane Hollywood movie coming out of it...

The story is a "near future" science fiction piece. The world isn't that much different (no flying cars), except for the little difference that there haven't been any children born for 25 years. Now that makes for one ugly world setup. Amongst the aging humanity there is an absolute mass depression and a lot of other mean stuff going on. The book's britain has been turned into a quasi-dictature.

It's always been my theory that science fiction writers take on or multiple trends in todays society, put a ruler to the page and extend the trend curve till it drives the point home. P.D. James did that with the averaging of the western society. Where we face the crumbling of todays pension funds, in the book they face a world where everybody is old and sooner or later in need of help. There are scenes where I had to take breaks from reading and I've read some ugly stuff before.

So, did I consider it a mistake buying this book? No way. It's a nightmare, but as nightmares go, reading it was an interesting experience. It also made me think about some things from a different angle. It's not the book you want to read when you want to feel warm and cozy, but when you can take a tough gedankenexperiment and run with it.

Would I go watch the movie now? I don't think so, since I can't see any movie reaching the "slowly boiling up" atmosphere of the book. There is a lot of patience in the book, detailed descriptions of plants and trees while you, the reader, wait for disaster to strike. To me it resembled to reflect the feelings of someone struck by an accident and unable to face it, instead focussing on some irrelevant detail. At some points it was too much, and I must have skipped a couple of half paragraphs. A movie would probably have to skip lots and lots of that or boil it down a slow shot of the scenery from time to time. If I'd go to see the movie then likely more out of curiosity on how far they got with this book.

Posted by betabug at 09:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 April 2007


A book about "hackers" from the old times

A few days back I had discovered over at adamo's site a link to the online version of the book "Underground". I downloaded the book (of course choosing the plain text version - update: the old link lead to a scam site) and started reading. Kept me hooked busy for a few days of intensive reading. The book recounts the days of old, when teenagers dialed their modems into BBS's and later learned to "hack" (which in this context means to break into other people's computers). I enjoyed the book and it ignited some good thoughts...

Part of the reading reminded me of when I started out with home computers (even though most of the book is set slightly later), and some of the people seem a bit familiar. Mind that I've never been into that scene myself.

At the time when I was reading the book, I was heavy into real hacking, meaning I was programming and fixing bugs on Zwiki code. While *that* meaning of "hacking" is an activity with very prudent background, the intensity and concentration on the task is similar. Following hot on the scent of some bug through various layers of code seemed to be very similar to the description of the kids going through various layers of security in host systems and networks.

Another note in the book rang a bell: Next Sunday I will be giving my PGP talk. The book is full of examples where the "hackers" broke into computers and the very first thing they do is to read the system administrators mail: Looking for mentions of break-ins or break-in attempts, looking for passwords and information to get into other systems. Had those system administrators used PGP for their mail, the kids breaking in would have had much more trouble. The one example where encryption was used to protect a file posed a major problem to the intruders -- even though it was the very low-grade "crypt" encryption program.

Posted by betabug at 20:51 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
02 May 2007

Η Λέσχη

Ακυβέρνητες Πολιτείες - Α τόμος, του Στρατή Τσίρκα

Δεν έχω όρεξη να γράφω πολύ αυτή την στιγμή. Χτες τελείωσα την "Λέσχη" του Στράτη Τσίρκα (and here). Μου άρεσε πάρα πολύ. Άγνωστες λέξεις; Πάρα πολλές! Θα πρέπει να το ξαναδιαβάζω μόνο και μόνο για αυτόν τον λόγο.

Είναι από τα λίγα ελληνικά βιβλία που διάβαζα ολόκληρα μέχρι τώρα. Τα περισσότερα δεν με σηκώσανε και επειδή δυσκολεύομαι ακόμα αρκετά να διαβάζω στα Ελληνικά, τα σταματάω. Αντίθετα ο Στράτης Τσίρκας: γράφει τόσο καλά και έχει και κάτι να πει... τις τελευταίες εκατόν σελίδες τις διάβασα μονορούφι. Το βράδυ θα περάσω από το βιβλιοπωλείο να πάρω το δεύτερο.

Posted by betabug at 10:14 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 May 2007

Little Sketches

Pen on paper

Today I went on a little walk in Exarheia, Just some looking around, seeing a few of the weirder shop windows. Then went to a nice, quiet cafe for a fresh orange juice. While I sat there I did a little sketch in my notebook. Nothing special, just the corner of the house opposite. When I dated the sketch, I noticed that it's been 5 months to the day that I made my last drawing.

Thinking about that, I believe there is no special reason, mostly that I'm not so much outside during winter. Maybe I was also tempted to aim too big with the last stuff I did. When you put your own target too high, then you'll never start. So today I did just a little doodle really. But starting up again feels nice. I should get one of those cheap little scanners to be able to put these drawings on the blog easier.

Posted by betabug at 18:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
14 June 2007

Potatoes for Art

art athina exhibition
art athina entrance

Old news from before my trip: I had visited the "art athina" exhibition together with Thanassis (McKellaris) of HelMUG fame. It was one big circus of galleries showing off "their" artists works of art. I believe that everybody should try to make their own sense (or nonsense) out of modern art, even if I could, I wouldn't be anybody's guide. But there was at least a *bit* of something interesting, with potatoes and apparently some old fashioned censorship...

Guest country was Russia (the lady in the front of the picture is a russian TV presenter). The upper floor of the exhibition was mostly housing russian galleries, their works not differing much from the rest of the stuff (to my eyes), but there was one work standing out: A group calles SOSka showed a video accompanied by some large scale fotos. The exhibition is over, I shouldn't risk giving a spoiler here. The video was incredibly funny and fascinating. It showed a young man driving a SUV to some russian village, somewhere in nowhere land. In his luggage compartment he had a pile of paintings.

He went to some of the farms standing up his pictures on the floor and on a wall, wherever he found some space. Then he asked the farmers: "Which ones do you like?" Apparently some of the farmers liked some of the pictures good enough. An old farmers lady chose one of the pictures, because the model "looks like my grandfather" while another one reminded her of her daughter. He asked her what they would give for the paintings. Her response: "Three dozen eggs." Another farmer gave 40 kilo potatoes for two paintings, and he got a live chicken ("any chicken I can catch") for one more painting. The name of the work was "Barter". The fotos showed the farmers together with the pictures they got, or the pictures hung up in the farmhouses. We enjoyed the video so much, we went back to watch it completely after we had a walkthrough of the upper floor, it was just plain refreshing.

It also looks like there was some weird business where the police came in to censor one artists work, libero has the story (in Greek). I didn't notice that and I surely didn't notice anything that would be worth the authoritie's trouble to send out cops and censor anything. What a stupid move.

Posted by betabug at 10:35 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
26 August 2007

Das Leben der Anderen

Während es anderswo brennt...

Wir haben uns im Open-Air-Kino "Das Leben der Anderen" angeschaut. Der Film gefällt mir wirklich gut, liess mich mit guter Stimmung zurück, trotz allem traurigen was drin passiert. Im Thission war viel los - während es auf dem Peloponnes brennt, tanzt Athen. Ich selber bin immer etwas bedrückt, mir ist das Zeitgeschehen zu ernst, auch wenn es gut tut, mal ein paar Stunden an was anderes zu denken.

Jetzt, wieder zu Hause und eben lese ich, dass das antike Olympia von den Flammen verschont blieb, zumindest die schwersten Verwüstungen wurden abgewendet. [1]

Die Luft ist schwer und warm. Wenn mal ein kühlerer Windhauch aufkommt, riecht es immer noch nach Brand. Die Höchsttemperatur ist nicht besonders hoch (37º heute), aber es gibt keinen kühlen Wind mehr, selbst im Schatten und jetzt nachts ist es heiss. Durch die Brandluft fällt das Atmen auch schwerer und ich fühle mich oft müde.

1: Update... anscheinend wurde Olympia doch nicht so ganz verschont. Zwar sind die Museen und die archäologischen Stätten ganz geblieben, aber die Umgebung mit Wäldern und Flüssen wurde grösstenteils zerstört. Das genaue Ausmass der Schäden wird noch diskutiert...

Posted by betabug at 23:08 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
12 November 2007

Jazz Drawing

Another lazy sketch
Bass and Drums from Leila Olivesi Quartet at the Institut Francais

In the midst of Friday's jazz concert at the Institut Français (listening to the Leïla Olivesi Quartet, see last post) I took out my notebook and started to draw the bass player. It was almost too dark to see what I was doing. My fingers did not seem to have had a problem, they were guided by the music.

When I was "done" with drawing the bassist, I was happy to draw a rough outline of the drummer too. I think the sketch got even more wild there. I tried to get the drummer's grin in, but I don't think I succeeded. In the end (when the light came back on), the drawing looked acceptable to me. It's not my usual style at all, but I like it anyway :-)

Some of the bassist's posture is reflected in the drawing, which brings back the evening in my mind, and that's all it takes. As usual, click on the thumb for a bigger view.

Posted by betabug at 09:55 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
02 December 2007

HelMUG and Reading Sunday

Kafka on the Shore

For this Sunday I had planned to prepare the upgrade of my server. But as I had a bit of wrist problem again the last days, I decided to do a reduced-computer-day today. Instead I was reading. "Kafka on the Shore", by Haruki Murakami. I had picked up this book when I was in Munich. I can't give a final word on the book, but I'm glued to reading it all day. It's intricating (yeah, I had to look up that word too).

Well, one thing I did today is to go to the HelMUG meeting. After many times with only 2-4 people, today there were something like 12 people there. It was nice, with nice discussions and mac-chats. A lot of the people I hadn't seen before and some regulars too.

Posted by betabug at 23:20 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
24 February 2008

Literary meme

Too lazy to write something real

Just saw this meme at Kat's blog and saw graffic following it. As I was just reading a book and got lazily up to check on everybody's blog, it's too easy to follow this one for me. Here are the instructions:

  1. Pick up the nearest book.
  2. Open it to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence/phrase.
  4. Write the next four sentences/phrases together with these instructions.
  5. Don't dig through your shelves for that very special or intellectual book.
  6. Pass it to six friends.

The book I'm reading at the moment is "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami. It's long enough, and as I'm just reading it there is no need to chose anything or any temptation to violate rule 5. It's also the closest book even physically, as I carried it over to the computer table. I'm also into "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, but I'm bored by it - I'm a Gibson fan and this one just isn't a Gibson. "The Difference Engine" is physically about 5cm from the "Chronicle". So the strange japanese book it is.

Let's see what Mr. Murakami has to tell us on page 123:

"He's thinking of running for office. In fact he's just about decided to do it"

"Running for office?!" This came as such a shock to me, I could hardly speak for a moment.

I don't know what these sentences are about, as I haven't read that far yet. I can sense who they are talking about, and get the general spirit from the buildup I've read through, but that's about it. It's interesting though, like when you read through a book and come across that passage you had read while flipping through the book in the book store.

I'll follow both Kat and graffic in passing up on step 6 though. If anybody wants to, just pick this meme up.

Posted by betabug at 15:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 February 2008

Auf der anderen Seite / The Edge of Heaven

Going to the cinema

Yesterday evening went to watch "Auf der anderen Seite" (English title: "On The Other Side" or "The Edge of Heaven", Ελληνικά: "Η άκρη του ουρανού"). It left a deep impression on me. It's very melancholic, and in some parts it made me sad. The short story summary is that a second generation Turkish guy travels from Germany to Turkey to find the daughter of his father's dead girlfriend. Lots of people pass each other by a hairs margin, not everything works out.

Beautiful pictures from Istanbul (and Turkey in general). Characters you can love, even if they are in no way perfect humans. A story that just ends, with an open thread left to unwind in your head and soul. I left the cinema, touched.

Posted by betabug at 09:16 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 March 2008

Το λιμάνι της Καλαμάτας

Στην Εθνική Πινακοθήκη
"To Limani tis Kalamatas", from Konstantinos Parthenis, at the National Gallery in Athens

Όταν ζεις σε ξένο μέρος, στην αρχή όλα είναι καινούρια. Όπου και να πας, σε κάθε βήμα βλέπεις κάτι για πρώτη φορά. Μετά από κάποιο καιρό σιγά σιγά ξαναβρίσκεσαι πράγματα. Τελικά αρχίζεις να ψάχνεις λιγότερα για καινούρια, αλλά πας να επισκεφτείς αυτά που σου αρέσανε πολύ την προηγούμενη φορά που τα είδες. Την Κυριακή ήμουν στην Εθνική Πινακοθήκη και είδα μερικά από τα έργα που μου αρέσουν πολύ.

Ένα από αυτά είναι το γνωστό "Λιμάνι της Καλαμάτας" του Κωνσταντίνου Παρθένη. Η φωτογραφία δεν το πιάνει. Όταν είμαι μπροστά του στην Πινακοθήκη χαλαρώνω, τα μάτια μου ανοίγουν και είμαι σε έναν άλλο καιρό, κάπου που είναι πάντα καλοκαίρι. Στον χρόνο αυτό όλος ο κόσμος γέμισε φως. Μπορεί να μην ήτανε έτσι τότε, μα ο καιρός αυτός περιλαμβάνεται μόνο εμένα και ό,τι είναι στο κάδρο.

Posted by betabug at 09:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 April 2008

La Grande Bouffe

As viewed by International Pizza

The French/Italian classic movie La Grande Bouffe has been on my viewing list for literally ages. I think I first heard about this movie when viewing the "Trailer" movie recommendation show on Austrian TV. All those years I was fascinated by the idea of this movie and wanted to see it. Finally I did, as graffic has pointed out in the company of International Pizza. I was a bit afraid that my memories of that long ago seen trailer wouldn't be up to the real thing, or that some of the gang would be offended by some of the gross contents of the movie, but that wasn't so...

The gang arrived at graffic's place after only a tiny amount of searching. He has really a nice apartment there. While we waited for everybody to arrive, we watched a few episodes of John Bull's Reggae Kitchen, to get us in the cooking mood. When everybody had arrived we ordered some "ψητά" (psita, barbecued stuff (mostly meat), from a Souvlaki place), eating is always an important part of international_pizza meetings.

Well, after going through the meat, we finally sat down for the movie. It didn't take long for the audience to grasp the sick humor of the story: Four friends who settle in an old villa (that belongs to one of them), to eat, drink, and (sorry) fuck till they drop dead. The actors are famous and obviously deserve their fame. Their characters just rock. There were so many scenes when I just blurted out laughing, when looked at one of them do something totally normal, while stuffing an incredible amount of food into his mouth. Throughout the first part of the movie the eating, generally the excess of hedonism is the main thing.

There are these incredible scenes, when a schoolteacher comes to visit an old tree in the villa's garden with her schoolchildren. The kids get shown around the place, the kitchen, the old Bugatti in the barn. They get fed and fed and fed and watch the guys eating. We looked at these pictures totally baffled. When they finally leave, the school teacher gets invited for dinner.

Along with the schoolteacher, who stays on through the weekend, a little of a more serious time arrives in the movie. We were laughing a bit less, instead we often sat there with open mouths, wondering at the excess of this world (the one in the movie? ours?). Still there were incredible funny moments, and more and more of them turning into a black, morbid humor.

It's a long movie, so it was pretty late when it ended. We thanked graffic for his φιλοξενία (filoxenia, hospitality) and headed for home. One crazy, wonderful experience richer. It's good to see that movie together with good friends, people who have a faible for good food and strange humor.

Posted by betabug at 13:03 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
05 April 2008

Island Art

The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens
Exhibits at the Museum of Cycladean Arts in Athens

When I told w0lfshade that I would be going to a museum, he asked if I had been to all the museums in Athens. I wrote back that I haven't.In fact it's not likely I'll see them all, since there are a lot of museums in Athens. What we went to see then was the Museum of Cycladic Art, a place I hadn't seen yet, but had wanted to visit for some time now. It's in Kolonaki, not far from the Metro station "Evangelismos".

The exhibition does not appear very big. I think this is mostly due to the design and lighting: The room is quite dark, with light rays falling only on the objects in the vitrines. The image of the sculptures carved out of white marble on the black background is quite nice. In fact there are a lot of items to be seen in there.

Another reason for the exhibition to feel small is the division into different exhibitions: There is some special exhibition in the basement (we only passed through this), then the fixed collection of Cycladean art in the first floor, and in the top floor is a collection of ancient Cypriot art.

Vase with bird painting in the Cyprus collection of the Museum of Cycladean Art in Athens

In fact, given my limited ability to digest things in museums, the exhibition was really big enough. I saw a lot of very beautiful stuff in there. Marble bowls, ceramic objects with an airy feel. The typical cycladean figurines in white marble (see the main pic). Some things that stood out: Glasses and glass phials from around the 1st or 2nd century AD (impressive how something made out of glass survived that long), Cypriot amulets with human figurines in the shape of a cross (long before anything christian), and then this strange bird, almost dragonlike on a Cypriot vase (see picture).

That one had me fascinated. It was saad who pointed out that it's likely an ibis. The ibis has had significant meaning to the ancient Egyptians, while Cyprus back then had a lot of trade with Egypt. That aside, the picture doesn't look Egyptian at all, and it's style is totally different (at least in my humble oppinion) to anything else in the museum. It looks almost as if it had a Chinese or Japanese influence.

Posted by betabug at 21:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 April 2008

The Gardener at the Festival

Dialogue avec mon jardinier

The Festival du Film Francophone is currently running in Athens. We went and saw Dialogue avec mon jardinier yesterday evening. It was a remarkable experience. When I arrived at the cinema, there were a lot of people waiting. A really long line of people trying to get tickets. The problem wasn't so much a lack of tickets, but the strange organization: Take the usual Greek chaos, combine with the usual French chaos. The result was that despite the long line they were asking everybody: "would you like seats more to the left or to the center side?", "let's see, I have 3 in a line, is that good for you?" combined with all kinds of confusion. They probably took 5 minutes for every person buying, as if they were selling airplane tickets. All this despite the movie having already started.

When we finally got our tickets and went into the cinema, the room was (of course) dark and it was impossible to see any seat numbers. We were lucky to find consecutive seats in our row, so we could start to enjoy the movie without more confusion.

Enjoy the movie... Yes, that's exactly what we did! It was just wonderful. What pictures! What light! The sense of living, the snickery little glimpses on our own confused style of life. Despite a melancholy ending, the film is entirely positive. No fake drama, no violence for the sake of cheap spectacle. I came out of the cinema very quiet, and I still keep the images in my head.

So, what's the film all about? A painter has some trouble in his life, he separated from his wife, his daughter does her own stuff, he feels tired and hollow in his work. When he gets to own the house of his childhood, he moves there, somewhere in the French countryside. The garden of the place is a mess, so he looks for a gardener to look after it, and that gardener turns out to be a friend from school days. The two men start to talk, a dialog between two different places in society, different opinions about and experiences in life. Totally refreshing, recommended.

Posted by betabug at 13:26 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
13 June 2008

The Privileges of Living in Athens

Areopagos, the Festival, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company
sketch of Lycabetos, as seen from next to the Acropolis

Even though there are a lot of people who complain about this city (ok, sometimes with reason), there are really some great privileges that come with living here. For example you can sit on the Areopagos (just outside the doors of the Acropolis) in the evening sun, watch the tourist snap photo after photo of the "rock" (nickname of the Acropolis), while sketching mount Lycabetos on the other side of a sea of concrete. During winter time you can even go and visit the Acropolis itself - the sight is as beautiful as in summer, but it's not as hot.

Such a big city also offers some cultural events that are worth it. Right now we have the Athens Festival running, with the most famous venue being the Herodion theater. On Wednesday we went and watched the "Paul Taylor Dance Company". Normally my policy with going to the Herodion is very strict: I go there only when I'm 100% sure that I will like the event, because sitting on marble (with a small cushion) is hard on the "behind" and since you can't lean back, you have to sit all straight up and after 1.5 hours your back will make itself known.

This time I was lucky: Despite not being much into dance, I liked the show. The first part of the show was very graphic, very much flowing, with a very good integration of the visual movement and the music (something from Bach). Didn't like the 2nd part so much, while the 3rd was good again, but not as great as the 1st. I also had luck with my seat: There was no one sitting on the seat behind (and above) me, so I could borrow a spare cushion and from time to time lean my back against the marble of the next step.

The place itself is of course an experience each time. If you happen to come to Athens at the time of the festival, give it a go!

Posted by betabug at 19:34 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Prev  1   [2]   3   4   Next