What is acting?

Schauspielerei ist aus künstlichen Stilmerkmalen der kontrollierten Selbstentblößung ausgedachter Leidenschaften gemacht, nicht aus angewandten psychologischen Erkenntnissen über wirkliche Menschen.

Dietmar Dath in der FAZ

(I am not able to translate this perfect and poetic sounding definition)

New: Grimm exhibition in Castle Steinau

Steinau an der Straße has a new exhibition on life and work of the Brothers Grimm. It is located in Castle Steinau and is made by the Association of the Brothers Grimm. Although there has been kind of a conflict between the host of the new exhibiton (Schlösser und Gärten Hessen) and the historical exhibition house Brüder Grimm-Haus Steinau, I think the both exhibitions complement each other (and, as it stated Curator Dr. Bernhard Lauer: "Es kann nicht genug Grimm in Hessen geben. Das monumentale Lebenswerk der Brüder gibt das her" ("There can not be enough Grimm in Hessia. The monumental life's work of the brothers is big enough for this.") (quote via FR: Steinau - Streit um das Lebenswerk).

I myself was allowed to give the adress of welcome on behalf of the Association of the Brothers Grimm at the Vernissage "Moderne Märchenbilder aus Argentinien" (Modern fairy tale illustrations from Argentina) on August 16th to the General Consul of Argentina, Ines Suarez De Collarte (Frankfurt). Here is the German and the Spanish version:


Liebe Freunde der Brüder Grimm!

Ich begrüße Sie alle sehr herzlich zur Eröffnung der Sonderausstellung mit den modernen Märchenbildern dreier argentinischer Künstler hier im Schloß zu Steinau an der Straße.

Von Steinau und Kassel bis nach Buenos Aires ist es sehr weit, aber über E-Mail und Facebook halten wir den Kontakt zwischen Hessen und Argentinien regelmäßig aufrecht. Steinau ist die Brüder Grimm-Stadt mit vielen authentischen Orten zum Leben und Wirken Jacob und Wilhelm Grimms und auch ihres "Malerbruders" Ludwig Emil. Einer unserer Künstler war noch nie in Steinau, war aber in der Lage, sich über das Internet ein Bild der Stadt zu machen und es in seinen Werken zu verarbeiten. Seine ersten Eindrücke hat er dabei schon auf einer argentinischen Facebookseite dargestellt.

Diese von der Brüder Grimm-Gesellschaft organisierte Ausstellung wird noch bis zum 18. Oktober hier in  Steinau zu sehen sein. Die Künstler können heute nicht anwesend sein, haben aber schon damit begonnen, weitere Bilder zu den Brüdern Grimm – auch mit Bezügen zu Steinau – zu schaffen, die sie uns am Ende der Ausstellung selbst hier präsentieren werden.

Ich wünsche der Ausstellung einen guten Erfolg!

Jetzt übergebe ich das Wort an die Generalkonsulin von Argentinien Frau Ines Suarez de Collarte, die aus Frankfurt zu uns gekommen ist, und einige Worte zur Ausstellung aus ihrer Sicht sprechen wird. Danach wird Herr Dr. Bernhard Lauer in die Ausstellung einführen und Ihnen auch die neue Dauerausstellung zu Leben und Werk der Brüder Grimm hier im Schloß erläutern.


Estimados amigos y amigas de los Hermanos Grimm!

Les doy una cordial bienvenida a la inauguración de la exposición especial sobre las ilustraciones modernas de los cuentos de hadas de tres artistas argentinos en el castillo de Steinau an der Straße.

La distancia que existe entre Steinau, Kassel y Buenos Aires es enorme, pero gracias al correoelectronico y a Facebook las distancias se achican, y permiten mantenernos en contacto regularmente. Steinau es la ciudad de los hermanos Grimm y conserva muchos de los lugares auténticos de la vida e obra de Jacob y Guillermo Grimm, y también de su „hermano pintor“ Ludwig Emil.

Uno de los artistas de esta exhibición nunca ha estado en Steinau, pero fue capaz, con la ayuda de internet, de hacerse un imagen de la ciudad, para luego poder recrearla en sus imágenes. Sus primeras ilustraciones fueron presentadas en una pagina de Facebook de Argentina.

La exhibicion de las Sociedad de los Hermanos Grimm tendrá lugar hasta el 18 de Octubre, aquí en Steinau. Lamentablemente los artistas no pueden estar presentes hoy - pero ya han empezado a crear más ilustraciones de los hermanos Grimm – también en relación a Steinau – que luego exhibirán personalmente aquí en el castillo.

Links to the artists websites:




New: Grimmwelt in Kassel

As a successor of the former Museum of the Brothers Grimm in the Palais Bellevue (which was co-hosted by the Association of the Brothers Grimm), the new Kassel based exhibition house called "Grimmwelt" ("World of Grimm") has opened its gates last week. For myself, I feel a bit sad for the classical museum which was one of the most beautiful museums of literature I was aware of and which I was allowed to work for as a student. But on the other hand, I am glad that the city of Kassel, after a dormant phase reminding on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty ("Dornröschenschlaf"), awoke to pay highest tribute to the world famous former inhabitants Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm. I haven't had the time to visit the exhibition yet  but I certainly do like the walk-on-able building and the way it is embedded in the Kassel Weinberg area.



Schwarzenbach an der Saale schien wie eine Stadt von gestern. Seit Samstag beherbergt sie ein Comicmuseum, von dem man sich Auftrieb erhofft. Doch anfangs musste ein Donaldist in Richterrobe erst einmal Widerstände abbauen.

FAZ.NET: Erika-Fuchs-Haus: Dann kamen die Enten

Dr. Erika Fuchs became famous for her translations of the Walt Disney stories about Donald Duck (mostly by Carl Barks) etc. into German as she used to insert a great amout of literature and high culture references. Additionally, she reduced Duckburg and Mouseton to one single city, Entenhausen, which leaves German readers with the question, why Mickey and Donald seldom meet. Now, there is a museum build for her in Schwanzenbach an der Saale in Bavaria.

Erikafuchsgedenkplakette“ gestiftet von D.O.N.A.L.D. - photo made in Schwarzenbach. Lizenziert unter CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons.


Zu etwas (ein-)laden

I am a bit surprised that I have not found a lot of discussion regarding the difference of the German expressions "jemanden zu einer Veranstaltung einladen" vs. "jemanden zu einer Veranstaltung laden" (both: inviting someone to an event). Recently, I was asked by a non-native speaker if there is an "ein" missing in a sentence and I said "No, you can also say 'wir laden zu der Eröffnung'" but while explaining the difference I began to struggle. In general, it is sufficient to google something like "selbst selber" in order to find a bunch of blogs and forums discussing the appropriate use and understanding of such similar but not equivalent words (whether from language learners or from a ordo-linguistical view). But in this case: Nothing. Just a small article in the German standard ortography dictionary Duden, stating that "laden" is exalted. This is certainly the case, but is this anything to say about this pair of words, especially if you are learning German?

Who is Lara Croft

Two words: Lara Croft. OK, stop there. What did you see? An image will undoubtedly have flashed into your mind. She is, after all, one of gaming's most widely-recognised characters, so you almost certainly have an idea of who 'Lara Croft' is. Yet her appearance and personality have changed so dramatically over the past 19 years, there is arguably no single Lara Croft.

Gamesradar+ Think you know Lara Croft? Don't be so sure...

Oh thank you, dear Justin Towell - this is such an interesting topic. 

So, who is my personal Lara Croft? It is certainly not the innocent girl in the reboot - who needs to be nearly raped in order to become a mass murderer. Don't get me wrong: I think the "reboot" called Tomb Raider is a fabulous and fun game with an intense Tomb Raider-feeling - but it has little to do with "Lara Croft".

For ME, the most defining Lara Croft was the one from Tomb Raider comics I read in the early 2000s. Here, Lara is a mix between the women in Tomb Raider 1 to 3: Highly educated, rich, privileged - i.e. she does what she does but not for money nor fame - she is not corruptable, but so dawn curious and ambitious that she travels the world, risking everything for an object or story that just is interesting for her. Saving the world - if necessary .
Sometimes she has a bit of James Bond - but in general she is just an adventurer with the heart on the right spot.
And: sometimes she is more ruthless when it comes to enforcing the victory than the other famous adventurer and archeologist, Indiana Jones (who was not so innocent at all).
I think that was the heroine who was able to become worlds most known female computer game character, as she was different than any other. Beautiful and sometimes oversexed, yes, but there are a lot of beautiful and sexy women in gaming. It needs more to become Lara Croft.

Modern Times Corpus

Charlie Chaplin.jpgIn 2012 and 2013 at the Hamburg Center for Language Corpora (HZSK) I compiled the Hamburg Modern Times Corpus (HaMoTiC). It consists of transcribed audio recordings of learners of German at different proficiency levels who renarrate a few scenes from the silent film “Modern Times” (USA 1936, Charles Chaplin). The main objective was to create a linguistic resource that is both based on and comparative to previous Modern Times corpora (esp. Perdue 1993), and makes use of the tools and methods for transcription, annotation and analysis of spoken language corpora that were implemented at the HZSK, in order to demonstrate their functionality (EXMARaLDA). In terms of their content, the Hamburg Map Task Corpus (HAMATAC) and HaMoTiC complement each other in reference to their authenticity and controllability of learner language. See more details on HaMoTiC at the Virtual Language Observatory by CLARIN.

Image: „Charlie Chaplin“ by P.D Jankens - Fred Chess. Wikimedia Commons.

Top 5 Critical Voices against Artificial Intelligence

Danger - Artificial Intelligence Ahead

I really love movies such as "Her", "Transcendence" or "Ex Machina" and am fascinated by the mysterious qualities of (human?) conscience and cognition. But there are some really serious concerns one has to have in regard of development of artificial intelligence (AI). Some of them are topics of the named movies, others may still be unforseen or they slumber in the way too less read stories by Philip K. Dick, Stanisław Lem or Isaac Asimov ... Those risks may vary from the application of weak AI techniques as machine translation and face recognition in non liberal societes up to the development of strong AIs (whatever this may be and however one should know) and the questions raised by artificial beings. No wonder, that Elon Musk wrote the following on Twitter:

Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 3. August 2014

Some weeks ago, the who-is-who of computer scientists and tech pioneers signed an Open Letter with the title "Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence".

In addition to this letter I present to you the top 5 of the alerters of the dangers of artificial intelligence with the link to a relevant article by or about them:

1. Joseph Weizenbaum (computer science philosopher): Computerized Gods and the Age of Information

But, as I said, this leads to the crossing of a very subtle line, and after running over that line during programming, the first impression many people get is that the person is inferior to the computer — that the programmer is in some way a defective imitation. And in certain ways the computer is better than human beings.

2. Raul Rojas (ai computer scientist): We should try to move slower

Computers will be smarter than humans (as in Space Odyssey) when they learn to cheat and lie. That is the highest form of intelligence because it requires a “theory of mind”. I have to put myself in the shoes of the other people in order to lie effectively. Monkeys do not have a theory of mind, as has been proved with experiments. They are terrible liars. When computers could lie to us as effectively as HAL, those computers would pass the Turing Test and would be intelligent.

3. Elon Musk (tesla motors, xspace): Elon Musk Compares Building Artificial Intelligence To “Summoning The Demon”

With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon. You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and he’s like — Yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.

4. Bill Gates (richest man on earth, microsoft founder, bill and melinda gates foundation) Bill Gates on dangers of artificial intelligence: ‘I don’t understand why some people are not concerned'

First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern.

5. Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist): Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind

Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded.

There are other perspectives aswell: Take a look at The Myth of AI by computer scientist Jaron Lanier. He argues, that AI is a fraud and should not be hyped as a quasi religious topic (and here is a replica by io9: The Myth of AI Is More Harmful Than AI Itself)

How to distinguish normal food from super food

Blueberries on branch.jpg
Do you want to know, if there is scientific evidence for the health benefits of this new superfood? Take a look at this fantastic interactive visualization at Information is beautiful.

Snake Oil Superfoods?


Image Credits: "Blueberries, a so-called 'superfood' that actually does not have unusually dense nutrient content." ("Blueberries on branch" by Jim Clark) - [1]. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

10 thoughts for a secure password of the year

Yoda Speech

As regular, in late April my To Do List reminded me of changing my password for the year to come. With every year I learn more lessons on this topic so here are some of them to share with you.

10. A password should fulfill two very contrary conditions: It has to be safe but easy to keep in mind. (As always insightful and interesting: Chaos Radio by Chaos Computer Club. This episode is on passwords, but only in German)

9. There is a common strategy to get a reasonable compromise. In short: Do not use a word from a dictionary (house). Use characters from all subsets of characters, i.e. digits, lower case and upper case letters and special characters.  (For details see here).

8. You should not use a word from a dictionary. You should also not use a word from a dictionary with obvious substitutions from leet speech or whatever (h0u?e). A small improvement is it to take the first letters of a sentence or a part of a sentence and make some substitutions. If the sentence is often quoted ("to be or not to be"), the improvement may be too small as well.

7. If you take a phrase from a song remember not to sing or hum it every time when you start entering your password... (I hope no one noticed...)

7. As research suggests you can also add some safety to your password by changing the grammar of your password sentence, e.g. in the style of Jedi master Yoda.

6. Add two or more characters at the beginning, the end or whereever you can remember for each new purpose you use the password for (e.g. add oo at the end of your standard password for a google log in).

5. I recommend you to use a tool as KeePass to store your passwords and user names. You can also use cloud based solutions but I am old fashioned with this.

4. Change your password regulary (e.g. every year) - and remember yourself to do so!

3. Keep track of your old standard passwords (in KeePass) as you will probably find encrypted files or whatever years after you have changed your standard password (as I did yesterday).

2. Don't be fooled by the sole factor of search space, i.e. the number of characters an offender had to consider - the most important factor is and will be password length!

1. And, as password length is so important, there is a (still not so common but even better) way of getting really secure passwords: Combine at least four random dictionary words, as suggested by this Comic by XKCD