You vs. the others

Thanks to Wil Wheaton’s link on Twitter (you rock, nerd boy!), I came across a post how Sarah Palin thinks that criticism of her public statements are unconstitutional. Now, I don’t have a place for hate in my life or my vocabulary, I think it is an extraordinary emotion that often does yourself more harm than it is useful. So let me say that I seriously dislike both John McCain and Sarah Palin; not necessarily for all of their beliefs, but mainly for how they express them.  I do respect Republicans, I highly value some of the same things that the do value.

After reading the above mentioned article, I thought about why on earth somebody that I have never met would annoy me that much. I came to the conclusion that I am partly just incredulous how somebody could say and believe the things she says and believes. Because her values are largely not my values, apparently I cannot believe that she is being honest when giving statements like the above. Let me stress this: I do not believe that she is lying. I do think that the problem is that I cannot comprehend that somebody could actually believe the nonsense she is uttering. I also believe that this is why people of both large US parties describe the respective presidential candidates as insincere and lying. It threatens our view of the world perhaps, if somebody has different beliefs than us. We attribute to malice what is most likely simply an expression made in good faith. Maybe this tells us more about ourselves than about the other party.

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Hero of the Day: Delia Derbyshire

Well, not hero per se, more musical genius of the day. And more retrospectively of July than of December.

I briefly mentioned Derbyshire in my piece about women artists in history. Her story is this: she studied music and mathematics in Cambridge. After being turned down for a job at Decca Records (the company didn’t employ women), Derbyshire started working for the BBC, composing and producing hundreds of pieces of music (themes, incidental etc.) for BBC programmes. Her most famous work is the Doctor Who theme, which I love to bits, especially since I read about how it was produced.

Now, this was before synthesizers (but not before taxes*). Nowadays, roughly speaking, you use your keyboard as an interface and then manipulate pitch, duration etc. electronically. But in the 60s, how could you produce sounds that could not be made by traditional instruments? You could for example invent new instruments (like the wonderful Theremin).

Derbyshire instead often didn’t even use any instruments. She used all sounds she could find, sometimes from every day household articles like lamps, sometimes electronic devices like noise generators and oscillators.  She recorded those sounds, then re-recorded the  takes at different speeds to pitch them, then spliced those second-long pieces of tape together by hand to get a loop, *then* re-recorded different loops together by playing each on a different tape machine, starting and thereby synchronising them by hand. Here Derbyshire explains the process herself. For something like the Doctor Who Theme, this process took weeks. Ron Grainer wrote the original tune, which Derbyshire then arranged and produces. Apparently Grainer was so astonished about and delighted by the final product, that he wanted to share credit with her in the show’s opening, but the BBC policy of the time didn’t allow shared credits.

I find early electronical music strangely fascinating, not least because there was a tremendous amount of work necessary for the tiniest of sound effects. Many of those 60s tracks still sound fresh and new to me. For examples, search for Derbyshire or the BBC radiophonic workshop on YouTube.

*sorry, little The Princess Bride reference there.

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Obama wants to make some changes. Like spending money on building roads. And shit. So he made a speech about it. And you know what one thing was he said?
“[…] Will you be able to put your kids through college? Will you be able to afford health care? Will you be able to retire with dignity and security? Will your job or your husband’s job or your daughter’s job be the next one cut?”

OMFG. Seriously. He is addressing women, sort of as the default. He is addressing women while talking about job security, and not the “traditional” women topics like healthy care and children. Wow. I love it.

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Great moments in personal growth

Had this dialogue some hours ago, when talking about a shooting with some musicians.

Him: “Well, you know, I think we have to talk about money now, cause, you now, we both don’t have much money, so …”
Me: “Well, I am sorry, but I just don’t have the money right now to pay for models, errr…”
Him: “oh, no, nono, this is a misunderstanding, I was talking about paying *you*…”

This was … great. I know, I do take money for shootings already, but I am always so fucking *timid* about asking for it, and this was just a reminder that other people *do* think that my … well, I hesitate to call it my works… photos are good enough to offer me money for them. I really have to work on my marketing strategy.

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I hear voices

I love music. I love sounds. I hear music in everything. I hear music when I sit in the kitchen, reading, smoking (I don’t smoke in my bedroom), with the dishwasher on and the clock ticking, they produce the most interesting rhythms together. I hear music in the humming of my pc or in my heels clicking on the footpath when I walk. I also love voices. The right voice talking can make you feel like a warm jumper on a winter’s evening. There are actors like Martin Donovan for whom I will sit through the most miserably of series or movies just because I love to hear them speak (well, and of course because I think they are terrific actors, there *are* limits to my masochistic side). When I see pictures of them I cannot think what I find attractive in them at all, but once they open their mouths… yowzaa.

Then there is Stephen Fry. Oh, lovely Stephen. Now, to fully describe why I adore this human being so much, his intelligence, his decency, his wit, his compassion, his warmth, would seriously take another hour, so let me just mention his voice. When I listen to audio books read by Stephen Fry, it feel like the most delicious piece of dark chocolate melting on my tongue. Like your kitten coming up to you and cuddling up in your arms. Like home. Did I mention that he follows me on Twitter? Ha! I have a devious plan to be hilarious and endearing at him (no, not really).

Back to voices.

I remember the moment when I fell in love with my first “serious” boyfriend at 19. We had been walking around a lake and were sitting down on a wooden bench for a bit. Now, I would say his register is maybe a low baritone, but not a bass. But when he talked, I felt the vibrations of the bench tickle my back. That’s when I feel in love with him for the first tiny bit. I don’t remember the date, I didn’t even remember what *season* it was (though after thinking about it for two minutes now I realise that it must have been February or March), but I do remember that moment when his voice touched me clearly.

Interestingly enough, I remember that for another guy that “hit me” moment was when he tied up his shoe laces. I am not making this shit up, my life really is *that* dull.

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Should you laugh at neonazis?

There is a new webpage, “Nazis auslachen” (translated: laughing at Nazis), supported by the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, that I am quite conflicted about. Now, I am a strong proponent of freedom of speech. Whether you think that you are touched by his noodly appendage (Go Pastafarians!) or that the politicians really should do something about the weather, as long as you abide by the laws of your country, please feel free to make an ass out of yourself in public. For me, this includes Nazis, as long as they are non-violent. I would be hard pressed to think of anything that I despise more than Nazis, but more strongly I believe that as long as they are voicing their opinion, and not calling for violence, they should have the same freedom as I have in writing this.

What if you make fun of a group of people for their opinion, now. I happen to have the same political leanings of the people who started “Nazis auslachen”. What if I didn’t? What if there was a page “Buddhisten auslachen” (laughing at buddhists). Or “Feministen auslachen” (laughing at feminists)? (Then again, mostly every picdump/4chan/wev page populated by white male teenagers is a “laughning at women/feminists” page.)

Now that I write this, I believe I would have to defend those pages as well. I might have to argue with the writers about the bullshit they are writing, but the *existence* of those pages, that should not be endangered. Now, I doubt whether “Nazis auslachen” can be a productive way of dealing with fascism. Ridicule breeds anger, and that pretty much eliminates the possibility of a constructive conversation. You could say that pages like this teach children how to deal with fascism, as the level of “criticism” is about that of a twelve year old. But is it healthy to teach children to laugh about people who have different beliefs? Should you show tolerance towards people that shout for intolerance? I think you should.

One of the many many reasons I love Shakesville so damn much, is that the writers call out the sexism of the media when dealing with Sarah Palin, even though they could hardly be more opposed to her politics. “Because that is how feminism works”. Fighting for the equality of human beings regardless of their attributes. I believe that is also how a free country should work. Fighting for the rights and freedom of people even if they themselves may fight to restrict yours.

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Congratulations to all citizens of Muslim faith living in the Ruhr Area of Germany. A beautiful new mosque was opened in Duisburg yesterday. I had seen some pictures of the interior recently, but was not aware that it was a new building, and how *large* it was. So many things happened recently that make me increasingly angry (more on that later), and normally I cringe when the words “proud to be a German” are uttered, but there are moments when I am happy and proud to live in this country, and to see a proof of the freedom we can enjoy in Germany truly is one of those moments.

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