Monthly Archives: February 2012

Each breath is bliss for the one who is in love

Had my parents visiting this week, so am a bit behind. I felt like a tour operator, marriage guidance counsellor, chauffeur, and cook all week long. I suppose it makes a change to go and pick my Dad up at night from town. He certainly enjoyed the Bavarian dark white beer here.

Anyway, weeks cultural highlights: we watched The Descendants at the English cinema, which was great.  It took me back to my visit to Hawaii, and the story is really moving, but allows for the audience to take a deep breath once in a while by switching sporadically into farcical humour. Quite a brave film, for Hollywood studios to make. My Mum and girlfriend wept throughout, while I got stuck into the Haribo. My Dad kept shussing me across the seats.

And we went to a Mozart “gig”. My first experience of classical music live. And it was up in the castle so a splendid setting. It was really quite absorbing, though completely alien and unfamiliar to me. Mozart didn’t show up, but the band did some good renditions.  I hoped for a medley of  hits, things used in paint adverts and film scores, but I’m told that’s rather simple minded of me.  They did play the one used on call centres somewhere, and by RyanAir, whenever you land in Salzburg.

Anyway, it was as mesmerising as always to be in a space capitivated by musicians.  This morning I’m listening to BBC Radio6 online, lovely Sunday with fresh wet Alpine air outside…the title of this entry comes from an amazing piece of music Cerys just played, which I think might come from this musician:

Roll over Wolfgang Amadeus..




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On Selwyn – Digital inequality – and the Pirate Party

I find this paper by Selwyn very interesting: insightful, pragmatic and honest. I’m reading a lot about the subject of digital technology use by students and the youth and it’s useful that someone writes candidly without idealising the subject – as he shows is typical.

In many ways, he brings the aspirations of the advocates back down to earth and some of his arguments remind me of the fascinating Austrian Priest/philosopher Ivan Illich, who criticised schools for instutionalising the young into economic systems ( Of course, Illich advocated – with caution – the use of technology to educate, yet we have yet to see (as Selwyn shows) that technology makes any meaningful or significant impact or effect on youth education.

I am curious in how the digital apparatus these essays describe empower the youth as well, and appreciate Selwyn’s honesty in claiming that they don’t necessarily do so. However, parts of the essay remind me of the Pirate Party in Germany – which seems to have gained popularity and credibility, despite operating with a slim mandate – namely, endorsing file-sharing and highlighting concerns about data-protection and censorship. That such a political platform could engage so many as to gain seats in Germany’s party proves that technology and its related issues are central to many voters’ perceptions of the future. Or does it prove that democracy is regarded as a bit of a joke? Either way, whoever you vote for the Government always gets in (as Dylan said)…and whatever starts out as subversive eventually gets recuperated within the system….just as Facebook founder/market strategist Zuckerberg asserted with his recent justification of floating Facebook on the stock market, wherein he called he and his cronies ‘hackers’ and described them in the rhetoric of revolutionaries. The clown.  This is deconstructed quite irreverently in the column on this BBC link:

Pirate party:

and a Facebook fan page about Ivan Illich, with the top post being an appeal to close itself down:

There doesn’t seem to be a fanpage about Neil Selwyn; consider this one.



Filed under Technology and education

Mid-afternoon crisis

I’ve realised that there isn’t quite enough moaning and complaining on this cantankerous blog. Frankly, Hallein is so stultifyingly dull at times that there’s little to get cross and worked-up about. But I will seriously try harder.

Yet…. the silence, the snow, the silence….it’s a little bit like the novel Reykjavik 101, but without the culture. That’s a great novel about an adolescent thirty-something living with his mother in Iceland, spending all of his time watching bad imported British TV shows, and going to bars. The pretext of the book is the boredom, the Generation X-tacy’ of  the protagonists days..I’m envious. Reykjavik, for me, sounds thriving to me. The narrator should have set it in Hallein, Austria. Here, (indeed, in Austria generally I think) shops must -by law- close on Sunday. That’s not a bad thing, I don’t particularly enjoy shops or shopping. But the fact that it is enforced winds me up a bit, even though I despair at the general activity of Sunday shopping as a kind of family thing to do in the UK. They should re-introduce compulsory Sunday walks in the countryside with picnics and conservation work. It used to be enforced, didn’t it?

I’m full of contradictions today. It was beautiful, crisp, bright sunshine and snow here – and Sunday. We’re surrounded by mountains, fresh air, alpine monuments, sports a-plenty. I spent the day watching re-runs of the Soprano’s and making chutney. Actually, a pretty decent way to spend time, but I really should have got out and about. Now I can feel some full-on pessimism settling in.

So, what else?

Biathlon. Winter sports. Avid watchers of it, the Austrians and Germans. It’s watchable, don’t get me wrong, but what bugs me is the spectators who stand at one point cheering. Like any circuit sport, you only see a few seconds of participants passing by, ring a bell or two, stand around freezing. We have to watch biathlon though as it’s in the family.Biathlon, skiing, ski-jumping…ice skating…winter sports…bring back compulsory shopping.

Hmmm, the video shop. A hub of culture here, besides the Celtic history museum, a couple of kebab shops, a bar or two, and ummm, no that’s it. No, really.

I wonder if anyone goes to video/DVD rental shop these days? Hard to find, I think. No small wonder. Listen:

The one here has a pitiful selection of action films and awful American spoofs of things. Piss. Poor. Usually, we spend about an hour in there, passive smoking (it’s next to a bookies and a porn shop), scanning the same videos, desperately hoping to be surprised by the manager having mistakenly ordered something of interest. Sadly, our efforts are mostly fruitless. Now yesterday, we thought of two films we wanted to see – at least one of which we knew to be there – 127 hours. “Don’t smoke just yet hon’ – no need” …we walked in…usual skulking weird people who have nothing better to do….thick, cancerous choking air…posters for 10 year old B-movies on the wall, racks of films you’ve never heard of…

Then, we actually saw three or four covers of interest -as if they’ve had an overhaul in stock and discoverd cinema isn’t just about Van Damme. But something wasn’t right. The place was still. People were leaning against the dispensers with even less than the usual dead look in their eyes. Instead, a kind of sad, remorseful, vacant hopelessness wept from the blind dull reflections on the grey glass screens…Grey, dead, empty…: the machines were all out of order. Each and every one. Alas, as the premises of these moribund industries are no longer staffed by humans we couldn’t get any of the thrilling titles we’d found out on loan. Dolph Lungren, may your back catalogue await for another weekend. Also, as it was now beyond 7pm, all the supermarkets were closed. Another pedantic law. We were bereft of anything to do. Glumly, we traced our way home through the desolate night, the snow falling in cinematic sorrow, Thom Yorke crooning miserably on the car radio (probably), as we helplessly resigned ourselves to a night of Austrian television. “Never mind baby, perhaps Austrian Rock Idol is on. We could get some Pringles from the garage?” I sobbed softly into my safety belt, and plotted my sleep.

Another eventful Saturday night in Hallein.

But today, Chutney. Brighter, better….now following the LIVE feed of a football match on the BBC, in which – owing to broadcasting rights – one can read excitedly what breathless commentators have to write about a game, including text and Twitter updates from fans.

Life’s a bit ridiculous sometimes.

Think I’ll just read a book and snap out of this..


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