Friday, September 29, 2006

This year's Freshers' Fayre...

... stunk compared to my first year. After making my way three (!) times through boiling rooms and a stinking crowd my whole prey added up to two condoms, some tiny chocolate pieces, one Werthers Orignial bonbon (yummy), some rosehip tea-bags, a box of instant drinking chocolate, a can of Rebull [yeah, at least some (Austrian) quality], two non-operational plastic pens and of course hundreds of flyers. What the hell happened to all the free mugs, t-shirts, massive condom distribution and the giant poster sale?

South cloisters near the exit

Doggy advertising slogan at the Barclays stand: "Just give me your name and address and we sign you up for this new student credit card" - dude, wrong sentence to appear trustworthy.

Finally, I had probably signed up for 5 or 6 societies. Which ones I can't remember, adds some thrill to the matutinal email-checking ritual.

The prey


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tough choices

First of all, final year students shouldn't be allowed to choose the courses. This would make life tremendously easier, since it hinders me subscribing for useless seminars that only draw down my average. Secondly, research projects should be tailored for every student ... sheesh, if I have to talk to any more supervisors about their projects my brain will hopefully shut down due to overload. Either that or I'll start talking about yellow fluorescent protein, numb, promesco, ribonucleases and metabotropic purinoceptors while dreaming, driving my already mute room-mate into apathy.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Chaos at course registration

UCL decided without further ado to kill the Course Registration and Examination Entry Form (CREEF) and replace it with online course subscriptions on Portico. Now hundreds or rather thousands of students try to type in their course module codes, receiving only error messages. We want our CREEFs back! Viva la revolutione!


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Movie corner: The Perfume

Roughly 10 years ago in grammar school, I heard about the book by Patrick Süskind. Two of my class mates had to hold a speech in our German lesson. Although the speech wasn't very well prepared the story seemed interesting and a couple of years later I eventually had the chance to read the book (this time my sister being instructed to create a presentation). Funnily enough the book belonged to my sister's teacher and was full of dog-ears and paperclips to mark important passages. Make the long story short: the book is amazing and definitely worth reading.

Difficulties in transforming books into movies always arise due to the pure length of the storyline. I have to admit that the director Tom Tykwer did a fantastic job. The movie is only slightly prosy and the environment is genuine. The trickiest scene - the orgy on the market place - was extremely well made.

Thumbs up for "Perfume: the story of a murderer".


Saturday, September 16, 2006

US Presidential IQ

Presidential IQ, Openness, Intellectual Brilliance, and Leadership: Estimates and Correlations for 42 U.S. Chief Executives

Allegedly, Bush is ranked as penultimate. Well done Mr President, as smart as an ordinary college graduate. Still quite peculiar and funny where research money is spent.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How would a true airline announcement sound like?

This article was written to be shared (no wonder, since it was published in The Economist):

Fear of flying

Welcome aboard

Sep 7th 2006
From The Economist print edition

GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.

The flight attendants are now pointing out the emergency exits. This is the part of the announcement that you might want to pay attention to. So stop your sudoku for a minute and listen: knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft. Also, please keep your seat belt fastened when seated, even if the seat-belt light is not illuminated. This is to protect you from the risk of clear-air turbulence, a rare but extremely nasty form of disturbance that can cause severe injury. Imagine the heavy food trolleys jumping into the air and bashing into the overhead lockers, and you will have some idea of how nasty it can be. We don't want to scare you. Still, keep that seat belt fastened all the same.

Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero. This aircraft is equipped with inflatable slides that detach to form life rafts, not that it makes any difference. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction.

Please switch off all mobile phones, since they can interfere with the aircraft's navigation systems. At least, that's what you've always been told. The real reason to switch them off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn't sound quite so good. On most flights a few mobile phones are left on by mistake, so if they were really dangerous we would not allow them on board at all, if you think about it. We will have to come clean about this next year, when we introduce in-flight calling across the Veritas fleet. At that point the prospect of taking a cut of the sky-high calling charges will miraculously cause our safety concerns about mobile phones to evaporate.

On channel 11 of our in-flight entertainment system you will find a video consisting of abstract imagery and a new-age soundtrack, with a voice-over explaining some exercises you can do to reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis. We are aware that this video is tedious, but it is not meant to be fun. It is meant to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits.

Once we have reached cruising altitude you will be offered a light meal and a choice of beverages—a word that sounds so much better than just saying ‘drinks’, don't you think? The purpose of these refreshments is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot do yourselves or anyone else any harm. Please consume alcohol in moderate quantities so that you become mildly sedated but not rowdy. That said, we can always turn the cabin air-quality down a notch or two to help ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy.

After take-off, the most dangerous part of the flight, the captain will say a few words that will either be so quiet that you will not be able to hear them, or so loud that they could wake the dead. So please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. We appreciate that you have a choice of airlines and we thank you for choosing Veritas, a member of an incomprehensible alliance of obscure foreign outfits, most of which you have never heard of. Cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. Sorry, I mean: ‘Doors to automatic and cross-check’. Thank you for flying Veritas.”


Monday, September 11, 2006

A "tribute" to Harry Potter

I'm sitting on a sandy shore
the evening wind - a coolish breeze.
who cares a fuck 'bout Dumbledore
nor why he died or who he is.

Will, the greatest bard of Stratford,
would now turn over in his grave,
well futile would be ev'ry effort
describing "Potter-Hype" behave.

So listen closely to my wise advice
Snatch off the podium this Potter
discern the pimply boy disguised
and throw him in the utter gutter.

To go, where no man's gone before.
Please, Harry, follow Dumbledore!

Unfortunately, I cannot recall the source of this lovely poem.

Update: More than a month later, I found the source: po8, who posted the poem more than a year ago somewhere else. Seems like it had a long journey across the www.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Facebook - big brother?

Facebook has changed its layout again and added a "mini-feed" listing all actions a user did during the day/week/year. I was also wondering why they didn't add a blog function earlier. The whole portal is morphing into the biggest data accumulation plattform I've ever seen.

It's only a matter of time until the facebook engine starts speculating about its users: "Mike was 5 minutes logged off. Maybe he had to rush for the loo?", "Nick is already 10 minutes away - he must be wanking!" ... Soon, we'll have custom-made advertisments, fitting all the student's preferences and properties.

Sheesh, I start to sound like Thomas - he's the conspiracy theorist.