Unexpected Features of OS X Lion

Actually, most of the stuff in Lion is really, really awesome and I’m glad I upgraded. However, here are some of the WTF’s that nobody is talking about:

  • Built-in Emoji characters! If you had OS X Lion you would see that this glyph is a little smiling pile of poop:

I went to the Berlin Beer Festival

Last weekend we pretended to be über-tourists and went to the Berlin Beer Festival. Here are pictures to prove it.

Here is our drinking team. The way this works is when you enter the Bier Meile (which is a mile-long stretch of beer tents and bars) you buy a glass. It costs you 3.50 EUR. Then you get that glass filled as many times as you are able as you walk down the Bier Meile. If you get out the other end, you win.

They also had a lot of good, greasy foodstuffs. I took a lot of pictures of that.

Here is a gigantic barbeque. Two kinds of sausage, boulette (meatballs), and steaks are all frying up. You buy whatever you want and they give it to you in a bun.

Here a woman is serving beer out of a giant novelty barrel. This beer was great. It was a Kellerbier, meaning a beer that was left in the cellar for too long as has started to get a bit crazy tasting. It’s from an unpronounceable place in Poland.

This poor monk got lost in the giant crowds of drinkers. He just wanted to hock his strawberry beer. (It was too sweet, but alright.)

This is lard on bread. It’s some kind of Polish thing. Nobody tried to eat it.

This sausage was made with horse meat. It did not look or taste noticeably different from regular pig-based sausage.

Best hat award.

Deep fried battered cauliflower in mustard sauce. I recall my grandmother making this, which is odd because she was Italian, not German. This tasted as good as anything battered and deep fried tastes, which is pretty damn good.

So much meat. I’ve never seen steaks cooked on a rotisserie. This is apparently a Thüringer thing. Those crazy Thüringers!

Here’s me with a pickle I bought because you can just do that. The women behind me were selling pickles from barrels. The pickle was amazing and was a great match with all the beer.

Overall: the Berlin Beer Festival is a lot of fun. Plan to go in the early afternoon and get your drinking done early, before the Schlager DJs really get in gear, and the crowd of Bavarian tourists gets out-of-hand drunk. At that point things are just too weird.

Worst Book I Ever Read: Slavoj Žižek’s Living in the End Times

I paid almost 30 Euro for this book when it was new (in hardcover!) and
never have I felt so cheated by so-called serious literature. Žižek may be
even worse than Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, which has been my
perenial example of serious literature that is actually trite garbage.

Basically, Žižek is a philosopher guy who studied a lot of Lacan and is
basically so sure that Lacan was right about everything, he can develop a
Lacanian argument about anything.

But, see, Žižek is an aesthetic philosopher (at least that’s what my
more-learned, philosophy-reading, PhD-having friend told me), meaning that
he doesn’t actually have to develop arguments. If an argument feels
right, then it is right. Because beauty is truth.

I call it shotgun philosophy: fire your poorly-conceived thoughts randomly
at anything that moves hoping to wound your opponents’ ideas (and have
your petulant followers gut it and skin the carcass next week).

And such wonderful shot fills Žižek’s cannon! The man can’t go a sentence
without dropping a six-syllable bomb, or contrasting a word against an
italicized version of itself. The quotes go on for pages at a time, all
seemingly out of context. And the footnotes. Oh God, the footnotes.

What is Žižek actually saying? It’s hard to tell but the general themes
that I can deduce are as follows:

  • politicians are bad
  • democracy is bad
  • modern art is bad
  • Ghandi was an idiot
  • Christianity is… something, hard to tell if it’s good or bad
  • Christian atheism is good (don’t ask me to explain it)
  • cinema is bad
  • Marxism and communism are unequivocably good

Interestingly enough, Zizek does not talk about how miserably communism
failed in this book.

Once in a while Žižek’s dose of amphetamines wears off and he approaches
some degree of lucidity. At one of these points he embarks on a full-scale
philosophic takedown of Kung-Fu Panda. Žižek puts this fun little kids’
movie into the centre of a critical barrage that somehow aligns the
eponymous panda in the movie with George W. Bush and the dearth of
spiritual belief in modern society. This is sad because I hear that
Kung-Fu Panda was actually a pretty great movie.

It’s bad. It’s bad bad bad. It’s navel-gazing, head-up-the-ass philosophy.
It’s impenetrable and willfully obscure. It’s ideological (a word that
Žižek loves). It’s cynical and glum.

This book’s best use is to hammer in nails. I have used it so. The dents
in the book’s spine look quite nice. The book, thus, has found its purpose.