john skinner

professional | personal | public service | what's new | faq | links | contact

The usual disclaimer

The following links [and many links on other pages] are not part of my website; in particular they do not follow my privacy policy. Although I checked them all at the time of writing, I can neither know, predict or control what will be displayed on these pages by the time you get around to viewing them. Anything you dislike is therefore not my problem, but that of the website's owner. If you find any of the sites offensive, tell me and I will consider removing the link; but I am not responsible for others sites' content. Deutsche Besucher: Lesen Sie bitte die Angaben zur Teledienstgesetz (TDG) und Mediendienstestaatsvertrag (MdStV) hier.
None of these [or any other link on my pages] is "advertising" in the traditional, commercial sense. Few of these sites are for-profit commercial enterprises, and none has paid me any money. Some will want your money, and it might do your soul good to make a donation or two.

Good ideas

How we keep the Third World poor   < new
An intelligent and well-reasoned plea for common-sense and fairness. I found the article via Tim Bray, and quote here from his introduction to it, with which I fully agree:
Mr. Touré and Mr. Compaoré, the authors of that article, are the Presidents, respectively, of Mali and Burkina Faso. Most readers will know little of these countries except that they are African and poor; their article explains one of the reasons they stay poor, and the remarkably simple and painless way we could make that problem go away. […]
    "In the period from 2001 to 2002, America's 25,000 cotton farmers received more in subsidies — some $3 billion — than the entire economic output of Burkina Faso, where two million people depend on cotton."
    Their whole article focuses on cotton, but the same pattern occurs across the spectrum of agriculture. This is craziness, bad craziness; those countries in Africa have warm climates, lots of sunshine, and cheap (starving in some cases) labour. We should bloody well be buying cotton and wheat and butter from them, not the other way around, saving ourselves big money while helping them on the long hard climb out of poverty.


Pretty links

An example of how to make a fascinating and beautiful site using only text — and a truly awesome programming effort. The content is in Dutch, but don't let that worry you. It's still definitely worth a look.
The Miniature Earth
While we gripe about our slow Internet connections, more than three quarters of the world's population have never yet used a telephone. This and other humbling statistical insights, presented for non-mathematicians in a leisurely Flash animation.
A brilliant concept, this site graphically displays the links that search engines use to navigate between websites. Type the name of your favourite site into the search box (e.g. "") and click on OK. Be prepared to spend an hour being utterly enchanted.

Space links

European weather satellite image (yahoo)
Pretty much what the name says. The image is updated several times daily.
The Earth from space
Also pretty much what the name says, the site offers very pretty "astronaut-captured earth images". It's even indexed and searchable.
Astronomy picture of the day
Every day a different picture of the heavens from NASA's archives. The images are mostly relatively old, from the early days of space exploration, therefore lower resolution and less colourful than those on the next site…
Hubble Heritage Archive
Many beautiful images from the Hubble space telescope, explained and annotated and cross-linked in every direction. Another site where you may want to set a timer.

Useful links

An online translator: type in a phrase (or the URL of a website) and see its translation. The Babelfish speaks eight languages, none of them particularly well. I asked it to translate a famous couplet from T.S. Eliot into German:
     This is the way the world ends,
     not with a bang but a whimper.

It came out as:
     Diese ist die Weise, welche die Welt beendet,
     nicht mit einem Knall aber einem Whimper.

Not quite right: it makes "the way" an active agent, the cause of the world's end. To complete the joke, I asked it to translate the quote back into English. It said:
     This is the way, which terminates the world,
     not with a bang but a Whimper.

which is actually a fair translation of its hashed-up German. I could continue to poke fun at the poor fish, but for a free and fast translator, it's not that bad.
You'll find the real Babelfish here, though not here which surprised me. There's also a listing of online translators under the same name.
The numbers 1 to 10 in over 4500 languages
What could be more useful than this?
Oblique Strategies
A tool to assist with decision-making, or indecision-breaking. Brian Eno and the late Peter Schmidt compiled this list of "over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas" as an aid to and analysis of their working methods. The result is a deck of oracle cards with sayings like:
     Do nothing for as long as possible.
     Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
     Do something boring.

My favourite, because it addresses my particular weakness:
     Be less critical more often.
I use the cards less often now than when I was an architect, but still find them useful for breaking out of conceptual ruts.

Heartwarming links

The wondering minstrels
Think back to the long winter evenings of your childhood, did you read from a big, thick, heavy book with a name like "A Golden Treasury of Poems"? Well, here it is. They're all there, all your friends and companions from that far-off golden time; plus a very few moderns and exotics. Set a timer when you visit this site!
The storks are back!
There are webcams watching German stork nests in Dinkelsbühl, Isny, Vetschau (my favourite) and several other places. Most are in German, but you don't need many words to figure out what the birds are up to. Vetschau has by far the most informative site, which has also been translated into english.
You may have to alter your surfing habits to see anything interesting: dawn here is currently around @200 Swatch Internet time, sunset around @830. Internet time right now is shown at the bottom of the page.
Update on Vetschau: four eggs hatched out, but two chicks have died. One appears to have been sickly; the other was killed by its parents, presumably because there wasn't enough food to support all three. Nature is not always pretty.

Amusing links

We always knew it was true…
At last, documentary evidence! We warned you, but did you listen?
Our animal friends
Show this to your favourite vegetarian, or animal-rights bigot. Then stand well back.
Entrances to Hell
A most curious site, this would make a interesting tourist guide.
Lawyer Jokes
Collected by a fellow 4D developer — in Alaska, none the less.
The Nori
Every home — forsooth, every person — needs a Nori. Don't be the last on your street to get one!
Alas, poor Nori appears to have gone belly-up. I'll leave the link in for a while yet, maybe she's just pining for the fjords.
Google technology
Have you ever wondered how the big search engines can turn up dozens of thousands of links in a second or two?
Think Geek
Presents for your favourite computer geek (nerd, jock, jerk or weenie). This one will induce hysterical floor-rolling laughter in SQL programmers.
Are you too "up"? Do you need taking down a notch or two? This is your site.
English as she is spoke
This amusing site contrasts common Portuguese phrases with their translations by 1) a famously bad guide book, and 2) the aforementioned Babelfish.
Internet mindreader
An amusing toy that guesses the number you're thinking of. If your math is good, it works every time.
Högaffla hage
Cartoon jollity in swedish, nice animation à la Ren and Stimpy. No idea what it's about, but it's very cute. Click on "Starta". (Requires Flash or Shockwave viewer.)

Worrying links

These sites are not parodies! They are all — alas — genuine U.S. Government sources. God help us.

F.B.I. files made public
Files from the FBI's vaults, released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act but still heavily censored. Want to know what Marilyn's housekeeper told her hairdresser? They've got it, cross-referenced to what a gossip columnist's husband told a taxi driver. (You probably think I'm joking…) Rest easy, K*nn*dy is not mentioned.
It's just amazing what a load of worthless old rubbish they collected, annotated, indexed, cross-referenced and then lied about having — for decades. Of course, things are very different there nowadays.
Information Awareness Office
The U.S. Government has granted itself permission to investigate, record, correlate and publish every aspect of your life, as it sees fit and without redress or restraint. It's all for your own good, which is why they won't tell you about it. Trust them.
National Security Strategy of the U.S.A.
The U.S. Government has granted itself permission to attack any country in the world, without declaring war on them or informing the public that it has done so, if it believes that the country's government might in future present a threat to the U.S. This too is all for your own good, which is why they won't tell you about this either. Trust them.

George Dubyah

The White House
Find out what George's owners want him to do this week. Go fetch, George. Good dog.
New scrutiny of role of religion in Bush's policies
Even the Christian Science Monitor finds Bush's vapid religiosity worrying.

Proustian links

Marcel Proust Gesellschaft eV (auf Deutsch, partiellement en Français)
The German "Friends of Marcel Proust" club. The collections of contemporary postcards of Paris and Illiers (=Combray) and other relevant places are very interesting.
Societe des Amis de Marcel Proust (en Français)
The French "Friends of Marcel Proust" club, sharing webspace with the "Friends of Combray". Considerably drier and loftier than the German club.
Alain de Botton
Author of How Proust can change your life and other books.

Stuttgart Links

US Army
There are fewer "Ami's" in Baden-Württemburg than when I first visited Germany, but two large barracks still remain. They are small towns in themselves, with all the facilities of home — including a radio station that plays the US Top 40. You can do your tour of duty without missing a beat.
Germans reading this will find the page on social customs amusing.


Paul Graham
Does your e-mail programme have a spam filter? Thank Paul Graham.
Tim Bray
Ever heard of XML? (Never mind, you will.) Tim Bray was a member of the W3C team that invented it.

Friends & family

Bauatelier (in german)
I've worked with Gerold and Ute on many projects over the years. Our current project is called "holiday in Venice"
Susan Whitney Gallery
The finest art gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. My sister Lorraine is Assistant Director and webgirl.
Galerie Michael Sturm (in german)
The finest art gallery in Stuttgart.
Galerie Zink & Gegner (in german)
The finest art gallery in München, and my partners in ArtFiler (in german).
k3 artservices (in german)   < new
The finest professional art services agency in Germany, and not coincidentally the distributors of ArtFiler (in German).


1 Puretec Webhosting   Wollen Sie eine eigene Website einrichten?
  Hier geht's lang - ab 0,29 Euro pro Monat!

Made with Apple Macintosh   Campaign for non-specific browser formatting   Internet Content Rating Association   
In association with
Copyright © John Skinner, 2003. All rights reserved.
Last updated 2005.09.08