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14/07/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14.07.2006

On the paper's first-class media page, Stefan Betschon reports from 50th Anniversary Summit of Artificial Intelligence, which winds up today at the Centro Stefano Franscini in Switzerland. Leaders in the field have got together and said goodbye to "good old fashioned AI" (GOFAI). "According to GOFAI, intelligent behaviour is a mathematical problem in which a central unit manipulates symbols or rules that represent the outside world." Now, however, "Rodney Brooks argues for an evolutionary procedure: 'Today a worm, tomorrow humans'. Owen Holland spurns this approach. 'Let's start directly with humans,' he demands. 'We humans are proof that intelligence exists. Let's build intelligence. What is intelligence? It is predicting, predicting, predicting. How do predictions come to exist? Through model-based simulation. What has to be modelled? Our bodies, the world and the interaction of bodies with the world. Is that possible? In 1956 it wasn't. In 1996 it still wasn't. Today it could be."


Die Welt, 14.07.2006

Writer Michael Kleeberg considers the situation in Lebanon. The kidnapping by the Hezbollah surprised all sides. "Only the Shi'ite population is pleased. Having been long repressed, it is proud of any demonstration of strength by the Shi'ites, and all the more so when it's not directed against their compatriots, as was the case during the civil war, but rather against the Israelis. Lebanese observers see the coup as motivated predominantly by domestic interests: the provocation to war is a kind of cold coup d'etat by the Hezbollah, to force the country to confront unresolved issues, so that the new administration, liberated from Syria, can get more power and influence."

A summit talk on integration is being held in Berlin today, at the behest of the government's Integration Commissioner Maria Böhmer (CDU). Matthias Heine considers the semantic career of "the foreigner" and suggests putting this at the top of the conference agenda. "Those who speak of official terms must not forget the less official ones: in the fertile xenophobic soils of both East and West, insulting slogans like Kanaks (West German slang for Turk – ed) and Fijis (East German slang for Vietnamese – ed) thrive – both are known to be geographically incorrect. Somewhat nicer is the Katzlmacher (literally 'cat-maker') made famous by Fassbinder's film, which accuses people from all southern countries of being frighteningly fertile. Maybe the integration conference being held today should begin with the proposition that we agree on how we name what we are talking about."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14.07.2006


Michael Jeismann has visited the new permanent exhibition at Berlin's German Historical Museum, which opened in early June. Despite trying his best to view it favourably, he can't reach a positive verdict. "Unattentive people will miss Goethe entirely, and at best cast a passing glance at the Krupp family's industrial plants. Here everything is tales of princes for white-bread visitors. This presentation fails to give even a hint that there ever was such a thing as a German genius which could both fascinate and repel the country's neighbours. What do we need context for when everything that could possibly go to establish connections is missing? The exhibition is all too reminiscent of the current situation in Germany, and of the grand coalition between CDU/CSU and SPD, where people don't want much and can do even less."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 14.07.2006

Arne Löffel is not thrilled by what he sees in the run-up to tomorrow's Love Parade, which is back in the city after a two-year absence. "There's a running gag in the world of clubbers. A slogan introduced by guru and techno-pioneer Sven Väth, who has a long history of enrapturing fans with spontaneous announcements. 'The message is: goood moood! The message is: paaarty!' What a message. The bass kicks in and the masses throb. With these words at the Time Warp in Mannheim in April, Sven Väth hit the nerve of an entire party generation. But a few guests couldn't believe their ears. Is this all that's come of a movement with over ten years of history?" This year the parade's major sponsor is McFit, a low-budget fitness centre, which bailed out the event by paying its debts. Löffel looks back on the early days with a certain melancholy: "The Love Parade, at least officially, was once a real demonstration. Its initiator, DJ and producer Dr. Motte (aka Matthias Roeingh), gave the first parade on Berlin's Kurfurstendamm the motto 'Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen' (peace, joy, pancakes), declaring it a demonstration for peace, social harmony and a more equitable distribution of food. At least that was creative."


Die Tageszeitung, 14.07.2006


Thomas Winkler has spoken to Canadian born, Berlin based singer Merrill Nisker, better known as Peaches, about her latest album "Impeach My Bush." "You shouldn't be deceived. Peaches is about more than a lack of inhibition and a need to provoke. 'Impeach My Bush' opens with 'Fuck or Kill.' The song is the only overtly political one on the entire album and it has the shortest lyrics. Its message can be reduced to one line: 'I'd rather fuck who I want than kill who I'm told to.' One might call that a bit simplistic, but a clearer objection to the politics of the Bush government has seldom been expressed. In this line lies Peach's basic principal: 'Anyone who thought until now that I only sing about sex should finally understand that I challenge power relations and authority, that I'm critical of gender roles and sexual role-playing. This is definitely my most political album but it's still Peaches. My political agenda is built on sexual questions and the power questions that result from them.'"

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