In the plastic bag carried by the guy walking ahead of me this morning, at the entrance to the [officially closed for the holidays] university campus: 2 bags of crisps, 3 instant-ramen cups and 2 cans of Boss coffee. Happy Holidays indeed!

Dear Microsoft Word for Mac™ Project Manager,

You don’t know me. and I don’t know you. I am sure that you are a fine human being. A real person, with emotions, someone who experiences joy, sadness, laughter. You might even be a nice person, kind to animals and the elderly… Which makes it all the more difficult to tell you that I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN WHEREVER YOU MAY HIDE, FIND YOU, PEEL YOUR SKIN OFF WITH A RUSTED POTATO PEELER, WEAR YOUR SKIN, SAW YOUR HEAD OFF WITH A BUTTER KNIFE, DRINK YOUR BLOOD AND REPEATEDLY VIOLATE YOUR CORPSE THROUGH YOUR HOLLOWED OUT CERVICAL SPINE WHILE YOUR FAMILY WATCHES ON.

So, huh, yea… It appears that I have to file all my thesis documents through the mandatory MS Word templates that were sent to me. Weird formatting incompatibility bugs and all.

Kotatsu: check.

Month-long supply of Thai curry: check.

Gallon-sized bottle of rum: check.

PhD Thesis submission draft: check.

Right, see you in Spring, people.

On the 17th of October 1961, 50 years ago to the day, France-residing Algerians gathered in Paris for a non-violent demonstration in support of Algeria’s independence.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men, women and children, dressed in their best Sunday clothes, many coming from the outer suburban slums where France crammed its growth-fueling immigrant workforce in the 60s, were marching peacefully toward the centre of the city, when municipal police forces charged into crowds, raiding isolated groups, firing on people and making good use of their wooden clubs, murdering dozens of unarmed Algerians: shot, beaten to death or thrown into the Seine river… Weeks later, swollen corpses of Algerian protesters were still being fished out of the river or found hung to trees in nearby forests.

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Around age 6, I made my first steps with a computer: drawing houses in MacPaint and typing elaborately formatted 30-line novellas in MacWrite. A couple years later, building my first programs using HyperCard (at the time I thought of it as “playing some sort of virtual lego game” rather than “writing object-oriented programs”).

Although I long ago decided that I did not want to make a career out of merely writing computer code, the skills I seamlessly acquired back then have since opened countless doors and helped me etch a living at times where options were scarce.

I would have most likely picked these skills anyway, had my dad not brought back a brand new Mac 512k to his practice, one day in 1986… But learning them the way I did unquestionably shaped my entire vision of the modern world: it taught me that technology does not have to look complicated to do complex things, that building things can be exciting and fun…

Apple Inc. is just a company, staffed with many great people at the moment, but still just a company: with no personality or sense of human emotions.

Steve Jobs, on the other hand, like him or not, shaped the world we live in. His ambition, his drive and the people he chose to carry his vision out, will keep resonating in the technologies your life is built around, for many more decades to come.


Today, a guy was walking around the campus’ cafeteria wearing a t-shirt asking, in large bold white-on-black Japanese, something roughly translating to “ARE YOU A FUCKING MORON!?”

I think that settles the question of whether outlandish Engrish t-shirts can really all be blamed on linguistic issues.

KJM‘s Shuya Okino played some damn cool tunes, yesterday at Metro…

But seriously, what’s with the rockstar entourage thing?

Staff rushing to fetch the official record-bag carrier when Mr. Okino decided to head for the exit, half a dozen groupies in tow?!

Guys, this is broken-beat/jazz house, not 1980s arena rock… Sure, he is good, but still only a couple steps removed from what your grandma listens to on 94.2 Smooth Jazz FM.

Ostkreuz Tower of Doom

Minutes from the Ostkreuz Tower design planning committee meeting (ca. 1912):

Head of City Planning: How are the plans going for my diabolical lair of doom and despair? [strokes evil overlord‘s pointy beard and burst out with maniacal laughter]

Chief Architect: About that. I got your specs and there are a few details we need to go over…

HoCP: [cocks eyebrow mid-maniacal-laughter] ?

CA: Page 6, paragraph 13. When you write “The Tower of Doom shall be standing at the top of a massive dark volcano spitting rivers of glowing lava amidst bursts of thunder and the howling of a thousand souls bound for eternal damnation”… I don’t think we have the budget for that.

HoCP: What? But that was a fundamental part of the design!

CA: Sorry.

HoCP: What about the flock of fire-breathing dragons, then?

CA: I doubt Animal Control will go for that.

HoCP: The moat? At least give me the moat and giant man-eating crocodiles!

CA: We looked into that and it just doesn’t sound practical.

HoCP: But how are people to guess this is a train-station water cistern, if it doesn’t carry an adequate sense of doom and heavy foreboding?

CA: Well, there are a few things we can do…

HoCP: listening…

CA: We could make the tower really ominous and lugubrious, like something out of a Tolkien novel. Make it entirely black. But not some sleek shiny black: we go for suffocating, light-absorbing, black-as-coal black. Something that would look great against our typical backdrop of sunless gray skies…

HoCP: Keep going, I like what I’m hearing…

CA: Shape-wise, I was thinking we’d go for a martial theme: dangerous and uninviting, military without the reassuring overtones… a pointy prussian helmet, maybe?

HoCP: That sounds awesome! And so appropriate for a building that will define the landscape of the neighbourhood. When can you start?

CA: The wheels are already in motion, sir…

HoCP: Beautiful, beautiful… [strokes mean-looking white Persian cat while adjusting glass eye] Everything is going according to the plan…

[both erupts in evil laughters]

I’m not saying this is how it happened.

But you’ll have to agree there’s a strong possibility.

If you ever happen by Germany…

While discussing the finer points of Berlin’s traumatic history and the intriguing question of how the wall partition may have been extended across the Spree river (and what would have prevented people from simply swimming their way West):

Calmly hypothesise:

… by restricting access to the river, through additional barricades and watch-towers…

Do not shout:

Sharks mit fucking Laserstrahlen!!!

When the workshop organiser congratulates you on receiving First Prize for “Best Workshop Poster” and casually suggests that you treat yourself to a nice evening out with the prize money:

Do say:

I could not possibly take sole credit for this recognition of what was a collective research effort. I shall be taking my colleagues out to the finest restaurant this town has to offer!

Do not say:

Actually… I had to promise 20 euros per vote. I am still largely out of pocket on that one.

Upon hearing that this year marks the anniversary of 150 years of Japanese-German friendship:

Do say:

Yes, indeed. Who could forget the fine contributions of German culture to Japan’s enlightened Meiji era and its constitutional reform. Not to mention Mori Ōgai’s influential translations of Germany’s greatest poets…

Do not say:

About fucking time we gave it another go. Nobody will see it coming!

Let’s just leave Italy out this time, though.

Germany’s similarity to Japan in its lack of appreciation for deadpan, combined with a much lower linguistic threshold, could prove quite lethal to my complete absence of self-censorship in a social setting…