Sebastian Kirsch: Blog

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Belgium, Netherlands, what’s the difference?

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 23:21

It seems that Google Maps needs a little update in European geography:

How to get this view: Just open Google Maps and drag the map over to Europe. If you zoom in one level, the descriptions get reversed.

Tuesday, 21 June 2005


Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 10:32

Kaiserschmarrn ist eines der einfachsten und leckersten Desserts – man braucht eigentlich nur Eier, Mehl, Zucker und Milch oder Sahne. Die Zubereitung hat allerdings ein paar Tücken.

Pro Person braucht man etwa anderthalb Eier – wenn man für eine Person kocht, hat man also immer eine Portion, die etwas zu groß ist.

Die Eier werden getrennt. Zu den Eigelb kommt pro Person etwa 1/8l Milch oder Sahne, 4EL Mehl und 1EL Zucker. Dies alles wird mit dem Schneebesen verschlagen, bis keine Klümpchen mehr drin sind. Die Eiweiss werden mit ein paar Körnchen Salz zu Eischnee geschlagen. (Das geht mit einem Schneebesen besser als mit dem Mixer, da der Eischnee dann luftiger wird. Wichtig: Die Schüssel und der Schneebesen sollten so gut wie möglich fettfrei sein, sonst fällt der Eischnee wieder zusammen.)

Dann wählt man eine grosse Pfanne aus und stellt den Rost im Backofen so weit nach oben, dass die Pfanne gerade noch reinpasst – sie sollte also recht dicht unter den Heizschlangen des Grills stehen. (Wer einen hat, kann natürlich auch einen Salamander nehmen.) Der Grill wird angestellt, und in der Pfanne wird auf dem Herd bei mittlerer Hitze etwas Butter zerlassen.

Jetzt vermischt man den Teig mit dem Eigelb locker mit dem Eischnee, und giesst so viel in die Pfanne, bis der Teig etwa 2–3cm hoch in der Pfanne steht. Wer mag, kann noch ein paar Rosinen in den Teig streuen. (Das kann man aber auch später machen; ich persönlich mag Kaiserschmarrn lieber ohne Rosinen.)

Nach ein paar Minuten sollte der Teig auf der Unterseite gebacken sein und langsam braun werden. (Das kann man entweder durch hochheben einer Ecke und druntergucken feststellen, oder am Geräusch, oder nach Gefühl.) Auf der Oberseite wird der Teig jetzt noch flüssig sein – umdrehen kann man den Schmarrn also nicht, ohne dass alles zerfließt. Stattdessen kommt die Pfanne jetzt für ein paar Minuten unter den Grill, bis der Teig auf der Oberseite fest und gebräunt ist.

Danach kommt die Pfanne wieder auf den Herd (Vorsicht! Der Griff kann jetzt sehr heiss sein!), und man zerrupft den Teig mit zwei Gabeln in Stücke. Man brät den Kaiserschmarrn noch für ein paar Minuten, bis alle Stücke die gewünschte Konsistenz und Bräunung haben.

Und jetzt: Auf den Teller damit, mit Puderzucker bestreuen und genießen.

Ganz sündig, aber auch ganz lecker wird der Kaiserschmarrn übrigens mit Mascarpone. Das Mischungsverhältnis kann man variieren: mehr Mehl, Mascarpone, weniger Zucker, Milch oder Sahne, … ist alles kein Problem. (Ich mache Kaiserschmarrn oder Crepes meistens nach Gefühl, ohne Rezept oder Mengenangaben.) Wichtig beim Kaiserschmarrn ist der Eischnee, der dafür sorgt, dass der Schmarrn schön luftig ist, und die Verwendung des Grills, damit der Teig auf beiden Seiten gebacken ist, bevor man ihn zerrupft.

Monday, 20 June 2005

Douglas Coupland: Eleanor Rigby; Chuck Palahniuk: Diary

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 00:07

Two books which I bought on an impulse because I knew the authors – both of which turned out to be less than spectacular, to say the least.

[cover]“Eleanor Rigby” is the first recent Coupland book I have read, and I honestly have to say: If this is the direction Coupland’s writing has taken in the last ten years, it it may very well also be the last. I read his first four novels (Generation X, Shampoo Planet, Life after God and Microserfs), and was a committed fan afterwards; every single one of those novels was great.

But not so “Eleanor Rigby". Coupland has forsaken his hallmark of being a “zeitgeist chaser” (after all, he popularized the term “Generation X", essentially writing a “bible” for an entire generation.)

The story is quickly told. Having put him up for adoption shortly after his birth, Liz Dunn meets her own son, Jeremy, after twenty years. Liz is plain, fat, and single; Jeremy is good-looking, charming, and a lady’s man – but there is a catch: He has multiple sclerosis, and will die a few months after their first meeting. Of course, he gives Liz a whole new direction in life. Years after his death, by an entirely unlikely coincidence, Liz gets to meet the father too – who knocked her up when she was on a school trip to Rome. This individual, of course, turns out to be good-looking, charming, and a lady’s man too: Those genes have to have come from somewhere. They live happily ever after. The End.

That is it in a nutshell. There are also some visions thrown into it for good measure, and a radioactive meteorite, but that’s the story.

I know that one can ruin any story by telling it in this way. But that is all there is to the book. The writing is as dull as the protagonist is made out to be, there is hardly any atmosphere to speak of, and character development is virtually nil (the book is told in the first person, in flashbacks.)

I still re-read bits of Microserfs and Life after God regularly, so I am quite sure that it is not my tastes that have changed – Coupland’s writing has gone downhill.

[cover]“Diary” is my first “real” Palahniuk (when I read Fight Club, I lamented that I could not judge it accurately, because the impressions from the movie were too overwhelming.)

So I can judge Palahniuk properly now, and the judgement is, I am afraid, not a positive one. Between Diary and Eleanor Rigby, Diary is definitely the better book – but still not good enough.

Diary is, as the title says, has the form of a diary, written (ostensibly) for a coma patient, so he can catch up with the world after he wakes up. It is written by the protagonist in the third person, occasionally addressing the intended recipient outright.

Misty Marie Kleinman, student at a small arts college, is lured away to Waytansea Island, with the promise of becoming the next artist of the fabled “Waytansea school". But years later, she is working as a waitress, has a young daughter, and her husband is in a coma after a suicide attempt. As her situation and her health decline, she starts to paint again, spurred on by her moether-in-law, her physician, and the rest of the island community.

True to the adage that all great art comes through suffering, her paintings get better the worse her health becomes. A grand art show is planned to celebrate her 100th painting, but little does she know how the Waytansea school of painting is supposed to bring prosperity to the island …

I will not spoil the ending, which will come as a surprise. Suffice to say that Palahniuk did not convince me.

Sunday, 19 June 2005

Der kulinarische Imperativ

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 11:30

“Koche stets so, dass Deine Speisen Gegenstand eines allgemeinen Rezeptbuches sein könnten.”

gefunden in der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung vom 19. Juni 2005, Nr. 24.

Monday, 13 June 2005

Christian Coalition wants to put “warning labels” on gays

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 18:50

According to several sources, the executive director of the “New York Christian Coalition", Bill Banuchi, yesterday compared homosexuality to lifespan-reducing drugs like cigarettes – implying that homosexuals, like cigarettes, need a “warning label".

May we suggest a pink triangle?

Please come to Germany, Mr. Banuchi, and let us show you how to do it. How we did it. And where we went from there. Trust us, we have experience in that regard.

This is the reason why we may never forget. Because where ignorance rules, fascism is just waiting to regain its strength.

Monday, 06 June 2005

Mixed feelings

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 23:50

I am in a quandary this evening: Should I rejoice because Debian Sarge has been released, or should I mourn that Apple is switching to Intel processors?

Realistically speaking, the Sarge release does not solve any of Debian’s problems – it just gives the developers some breathing room. I wrote the Heise Newsticker announcements for the two previous releases 2.2 (2000/08/15) and 3.0 (2002/07/20), and even back then, we were lamenting the fact that the release cycles of Debian were much too long. Oliver Diedrich is making the same point in his Newsticker announcement for Debian 3.1: Sarge is out of date on the day it is released. Sure, it is an improvement over Woody, but everyone who wanted to have an even marginally up-to-date Linux has already switched to a different distribution long ago.

But well, who am I to talk? I have not updated my Woody box for almost a year, I have not even used it much except for watching TV and checking my mail. Ever since I got my PowerBook. Which brings us to the second topic of this post:

Apple is switching to Intel processors. After this has been rumoured and predicted for years, it has finally come true. The worst part: John C. Dvorak has been right after all, and he only missed the timeframe by about 8 months.

I have always been a fan of the PowerPC – I was amazed how much power IBM could squeeze out of this thing. I am working at a Sun shop, and Sun has needed more than twice as many CPUs in the past to outperform an IBM PowerPC box. IBM pioneered dual-core chips and multi-chip modules with its POWER4 and POWER5 architectures. (Dual core chips have been available in the x86 world for less than two weeks.)

In comparison, the only processor innovation at Intel in the last couple of years, the Itanium with its EPIC architecture, was a monumental flop. As regards processors for desktops and workstations, Intel had the be dragged screaming and kicking into the 64 bit world by the un-anticipated success of AMD’s Opteron processor. And even with Intel’s version of the x86-64 architecture (called EM64T), the Opteron has the better architecture, especially as regards multi-processor configurations.

What does this mean for Apple? At the surface, not much. Apple products will have the same design, the same manufacturing quality, and the same ease of use, regardless of whether they are powered by an IBM processor or an Intel processor. But for the more technical audience, they will lose a lot of their appeal – and in the long run, I expect that this will influence the typical home users as well. The slogans will no longer be “Think different” and “Computers for the rest of us", but “Think almost the same” and “Computers for those who want a prettier box for their living room".

It is interesting to note that Steve Jobs pulled a similar trick once before, when porting the NeXTStep operating system from its original 68k platform to x86 (yes), SPARC and HP-PA. NeXT was a company similar to Apple, in that it was a combined software and hardware manufacturer. Their innovative software (a modern Unix running on a Mach microkernel, the Objective-C language) combined with forward-looking hardware (the NeXT Cube, optical drives) were legendary. But the commoditization of the hardware platform eventually led to the demise of NeXT and the sale of the company to Apple, which reused large parts of NeXT’s technology to create MacOS X.

Another precedent is SGI’s brief flirt with x86 processors for workstations that served no purpose but to accelerate the demise of the company. Nowadays, SGI is producing MIPS R16000 and Itanium systems, but no x86 systems anymore. SGI’s x86 system were regarded as nothing but a gimmick, the usual reaction was “Why should I buy SGI to get the same processor as a Dell box for twice the prize?”

As for me, I am not very deeply entrenched in MacOS X as an operating system. Most of the apps I use are cross-platform, and the few that are not are easily replaced. I bought my PowerBook because it was the only real Unix notebook on the market at that time. I am quite happy with MacOS X since it runs all my required applications, and allows me to develop code that will easily run on Unix-like operating systems. But in the future, I will take a good, long look at Apple’s offerings and think about whether Apple still provides a significant advantage over an Intel notebook running Linux.

Comments closed

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 10:25

The comments are closed for now.

This blog is being flooded by spam. I’m deleting a hundred comments or more every couple of days. And even despite the CAPTCHA, some comments are still making it through; I don’t know how they do it.

I’ve therefore closed down the comments for now. In view of the spam-to-real-comments ratio, it seems like the most sensible thing to do. If you want to to comment on a post, please send me an email to

If I find the time to implement additional countermeasures to comment spam, I may open up comments again, but for the time being, it’s better to leave them closed down.

Sunday, 05 June 2005

I fold under pressure.

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 16:36

I am now four weeks into my diploma thesis, and what do I do? I am taking up paperfolding again. After years of not folding anything, I am slowly starting to rediscover my interest. I am not as good as I used to be, but it is still fun. It will take some practice to attain my previous level again; after all, paperfolding was once my principal hobby, some six or seven years ago.

As a starter, I designed a model about which people asked me many years ago. About nine years ago, I created an origami rendition of a 3D puzzle called the Soma Cube, folded from long, thin strips of paper (I used ticker tape or punch tape.) Using the same technique, it should be possible to recreate other 3D puzzles formed from an assembly of cubes. In particular, I was asked about pentominos from paper tape. I never actually bothered to try them – until now: Pentominos from paper tape. All pieces of the puzzle were created on the first try, and all are reasonably sturdy and elegant in their execution. I am quite pleased with the results.

The bad, bad pun in the title is not mine, by the way; it is one of the aphorisms that circulate in the origami community (another one is “Interest in paper is in creasing", ha-ha), and I do not know who invented it. There is also a t-shirt with it from Origami USA.

Wednesday, 01 June 2005

Heuschnupfen ahoi!

Filed under: — Sebastian Kirsch @ 16:42

Es scheint so, als sei der leichte Schnupfen, den ich seit zwei Tagen habe, in Wirklichkeit der Auftakt der Heuschnupfen-Saison für dieses Jahr gewesen. Die Symptome passen dazu – leichte Kopfschmerzen, Druck auf den Augen, ständig laufende Nase…

Dann ist es wohl wieder so weit: Hallo, Lorantadin, Cetirizin und Telfast! Hallo, tropfnasse Taschentücher und brennende Augen! Wir haben dann wohl einen langen gemeinsamen Sommer vor uns.

Dabei habe ich letztes Jahr zum ersten Mal Heuschnupfen gehabt. Nachdem ich jahrelang keine Probleme mit Allergien hatte, haben diese sich im letzten Jahr vervielfacht. Mein Allergiepass liest sich wie ein botanisches Lehrbuch: Lolchgras, Knäuelgras, Ruchgras, Wiesenlieschgras, Wiesenrispengras, Gerste, Hafer, Weizen, Mais, Roggen, Beifuß und Gänsefuß – die meisten dieser Pflanzen könnte ich nichtmal erkennen, aber: Ich bin trotzdem allergisch gegen sie.

Auch die Hoffnung, dass sich durch meinen Umzug Anfang Dezember meine Allergien wieder bessern, hat sich dann wohl nicht bestätigt – oder zumindest noch nicht. Vielleicht habe ich ja Glück, und die Allergien gehen in ein paar Jahren wieder zurück.

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