Villa Stuck & Friedensengel

Nearly forgotten today, Franz von Stuck (1863–1928) was a popular and highly acclaimed artist in his time. Stuck designed his Munich villa (built 1897–98) as a rich homage to European art, from antiquity to contemporary styles. Like most late 19th century attempts to revive historical aesthetics in the industrial era its splendor borders on kitsch, […]

Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies

The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge University Press 1988; paperback 1990, 250 pages, ISBN 978-0-521-38673-9) is Joseph A. Tainter’s magnum opus and deservedly considered a classic. Tainter packs an overview of explanations of collapse, analyses of historical cases, and his own overarching theory into one slim book, soberly argued from quantifiable data yet quite readable. […]

Sony SEL90M28G Macro Lens

Sony has finally released its new full-frame macro lens, the Sony SEL90M28G (FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS) which fits my Sony Alpha 7R camera. Since I like macro photography but made do with the Marumi Achromat screw-on filters, I got this dedicated macro lens despite its hefty price tag. Was it worth it? To […]

Etruscans & Greeks

Munich’s museums lower their ticket prices to €1 on Sundays, a great opportunity to check out interesting special exhibitions. Last Sunday the Staatliche Antikensammlungen opposite the Glyptothek featured a large number of remarkable Etruscan pieces. I took a couple of pictures with the iPhone 5s, and also some from the regular Greek exhibition in the […]

∞ Java Internals & Secret Questions

Somewhat delayed, here’s my selection of noteworthy links for the past several months. Coding — Allowing primitives as generic type arguments is one of the few significant areas where Java still lags behind C#, but there’s ongoing work that may come to fruition in Java 10. Ivan St. Ivanov gives an extensive overview of the […]

JavaFX DPI Scaling: Fixed!

The upcoming Java release 8u60 is set to finally fix the JavaFX DPI scaling issues on Windows that I described back in August 2013. To recap, JavaFX would scale the default application font to the current Windows DPI setting and the built-in controls would generally scale themselves around that font size. However, explicitly specified pixel […]

Stellarators & Qubits in Garching

The Garching Research Center near Munich yesterday staged one of its infrequent open door nights, with all the various institutes showing off their work in lectures and demonstrations. The campus is big and I arrived rather late, but I did make it to the two most interesting places: the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics […]

King Ludwig’s Walhalla

King Ludwig I of Bavaria (1786–1868) was the grandfather of Ludwig II (1845–1886) who eclipsed him in popular memory as the “Märchenkönig:” patron of Richard Wagner, Neuschwanstein castle, mysterious early death. Ludwig I was rather more mundane but left a much greater cultural legacy, simultaneously industrializing Bavaria – site of the first German railway in […]

Focusing a Woodlouse

I’ve recently moved to a house near a river whose banks are home to legions of woodlice. I know this because they apparently mistake the house for a tree and love walking up its walls, sometimes straying into the house through open windows. Most are ordinary small black pillbugs but today I spotted a magnificent […]