Uprising

This is Blog 21 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Uprising

This Muse songs turns ten years old this year and it has aged so well.

You really only need the first two seconds of that intro to know which song you are listening to.

And then, when the synthesizer kicks in after five seconds, it’s hard to not hum along.

The first thirty seconds in that ominous music video leave no room for doubt: this night is dark and moody and something is about to explode!

Tehneewh! (that’s my transcription of the unison bend guitar strum just before the vocals kick in)

Like all Muse songs, Uprising is an uneasy song.

Matt Bellamy’s vocals emit a sense of urgency that I find hard to explain.

The lyrics are rebellious and reek of anarchy.

The video is the stuff of nightmares.

And still, I love this song.

It’s the type of song that makes me (accidentally) break the speed limit when driving a car.

But even though I love this song, I must admit I don’t really know the lyrics and mostly sing along with the guitar bits and let Bellamy take care of the message…

Tehneewh !

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Twitter pup

This is Blog 20 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Twitter pup

The other day, my friend Z asked what I was doing with my T.

It took me a second to figure out what she was asking me.

Was she asking me about the way I pronounce my “t”? My tea? My tee?

She quickly explained that she wanted to know what I was planning to write for the letter T. She was particularly interested to know if I was planning on dedicating the T-blog to the current POTUS, so that she could mentally prepare…

I must admit the letter T was indeed reserved for a blond wavy haired Twitter fanatic. Luckily the twitter-feed I have decided to focus on, only spreads messages that mend the soul (and not… you know… the opposite of that).

Yes, I am talking about Thoughts of Dog.

This twitter account is dedicated to the thoughts, feelings and adventures of a golden retriever.

This dog, who I will referring to as a “he” in spite of not actually knowing if he is male or female, wishes me a gooooob morning on a regular basis.

As you can see, he doesn’t entirely understand punctuation. But then again, why would he? He’s a golden retriever!

Another thing they don’t teach at the puppy academy is the human numeral system. He does however enjoy making lists, so he just improvises:

One of his greatest passions is monitoring the skittle under the fridge. Sadly I wasn’t able to trace the origins of the skittle or why it needs monitoring. That might actually be the point. Because what is more mysterious than an out-of-reach skittle that just appeared out of no where? I’m thankful he’s keeping an eye on that little bugger on behalf of the world…

Besides his beloved humans, the human’s frens and neighbors, my canine guru also has a companion of his own that he shares all his adventures with. It’s his “stuffed fren sebastian”.

For a long time I thought he was a crab… like the Little Mermaid’s conscientious friend Sebastian, you know?

A tweet that I came across recently (but dates back to Dec 2017) taught me Sebastian has floppy ears, so now I don’t really know what Sebastian looks like. But it doesn’t matter, as long as he’s there for this good boy.

Sweet as he is, he still feels very much responsible for the security of the household. To keeps everybody safe and secure, he upholds a clear scale of alert levels. A factor that does complicate things is the fact that, like all dogs, he is colorblind…

His main purpose in life is however, to give and receive love and joy.

I could go on and on forever and never get bored. I could tell you about his philosophical moods and about his love for zooming. I could tell you about his small neighbor human and his car rides.

So there you have it.

I have now let the world know (quite anonymously, but still) that I am not only a big fan of a comic book series written by a grown man in which a child has all sorts of crazy adventures with his stuffed tiger. I am also a huge fan of a twitter feed, written from the point of view of a dog who talks to his stuffed animal, which I now imagine to be crustacean with floppy ears…

And somehow, I still function.

As a matter of fact, escaping from reality is probably the best thing you can do, to maintain your sanity these days!

Strange Fruit (sorry)

This is Blog 19 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit is a heart wrenching poem, that was converted to a song in the 1930’s.

The lyrics set an eerie scene of “black bodies swinging in a southern breeze”, referring to the corpses of lynched men hanging from trees. It’s a horrific image and the song never seizes to give me chills.

The song has been sung by many great singers, Billie Holiday being the first to bring it to the big crowds in 1939.

That was 80 years ago.

There are very few people left that remember first hand the time that Ku Klux Klan terror was rampant and lynchings were a real threat to people of color in the United States.

It was a time that explicitly racist laws led to explicitly racist behavior. The wounds of that era continue to fester on today.

I am so sorry.

I do not say this as an apology, because it is not my place to do so. I am not responsible nor am I in a position to offer anybody solace, closure or forgiveness. But I am most definitely sorry.

I am sorry that we haven’t learned all there was to learn from the horrors that occurred in the transitional years from 19th to 20th century.

I am sorry that black men are still dying at the hands of white men in acts of hate and fear.

I am sorry a movement such as Black Lives Matter is necessary.

I am sorry that these events form part of our story as human beings.

It is the rendition of Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa that touches me the most (all though India Arie’s version is a very close second).

I have read comments stating a white person shouldn’t touch this song.

Is it possible that, as a white woman, I needed a caucasian interpretation of the song to feel it so deep in my gut?

Or is it possible that a black musician’s proximity to the lyrics and personal pain makes a certain reservation inevitable (and necessary, to avoid breaking down half way through the song)?

I understand this is not a song that should be taken lightly. It is not a song that should be sung to merely show off ones vocal skills, which is why the Ariana Grandes of this world should steer clear of the song (until perhaps they are mature enough and have put on some more clothes).

Beth Hart comes across as a genuine person to me. A person who has fought all sorts of demons, knows the meaning of pain and has found a way to channel that in a productive way. I don’t feel her interpretation of the song would be perceived as disingenuous of disrespectful.

If anybody feels this is an error of judgement from my side, do let me know. It is not my intention to offend, but I am ready to take responsibility for it if I did. For that I would apologize.

Relevant


This is Blog 18 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Relevant

Have you heard of Rutger Bregman?

He is the Dutch dude that called out tax avoiding millionaires at Davos and then drove Tucker Carlson into a hissy fit, which sounded like this:

After he went viral twice in a relatively short period of time Bregman dedicated a podcast episode to the events (in Dutch). In the podcast he gives us an insight into the type of conversations he had with his fellow journalists in the days before and after these media moments.

We live in a time where being relevant is all about clicks, views, shares and likes. How do you go viral on social media? And how do you prevent becoming “that guy that pissed off Tucker Carlson” for the rest of your life?

Bregman’s friends and colleagues expressed their concerns to him about what releasing the Tucker Carlson video would do to Rutger Bregman’s life and career. In addition they let him know they had their doubts about whether or not it was actually helping him bring across a message, or if it was actually distracting from it.

Bregman chose to come in “with an outstretched leg”. I’m not sure if this soccer metaphor is used in English at all, but in Dutch it’s a pretty common way to describe an aggressive discussion partner.

In this particular case, Rutger Bregman took out his opponents “for the greater good” and didn’t mind the injuries he may (or may not) have inflicted on the other.

All though it worked out pretty OK for Rutger Bregman I do think it’s a pity that shock-and-awe is becoming such a common thing in conversations and debates. People feel the need to say and do extremer things each time to get a point across, which isn’t exactly good for the atmosphere.

In his podcast Bregman explains that sometimes, to be relevant, you have to choose between being likeable yet forgettable or an asshole that leaves an impression.

A difficult choice.

Questions


This is Blog 17 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Questions

The other day I watched a Dutch TV documentary with the title “Climate of Confusion” (those of you who understand Dutch can watch it here). A handful of people were interviewed with a varying set of ideas on climate change.

The documentary featured an interview with a wealthy Dutch real estate executive called Niek Sandmann. The point of interest was a substantial donation he had made to a skeptical thinktank (Climate Intelligence).

According to his alternative calculations even our maximum effort would only make 0,0003 of a degree difference, in the end. So, according to Sandmann the whole “climate crisis” and accompanying policies are really just “a storm in a glass of water”, as we say in Dutch, and therefore not worth pursuing.

Sandmann emphasized he is not interested in this for his own sake, as he is already making all his new buildings energy efficient thanks to state-of-the-art technology that he can easily afford.

It is true that for people with low incomes making the transition is not so simple. Also government measures may bring on additional costs in already extremely tight financial situations.

Niek Sandmann

So, Sandmann’s donation to Climate Intelligence is a form of philanthropy for those less fortunate, which is a thought I can appreciate.

By asking the questions he feels mainstream scientists don’t want to ask and digging on grounds that politicians have already built policy plans on top of, he hopes to find out if it is really worth it to continue down this path.

While watching the documentary I complained about mr Sandmann’s skepticism, making parallels with another tanned real estate mogul across the pond. The fact that his appearance would make for a very convincing villain (or white walker) means nothing for the point of this blog (or anywhere really), but I admit it took some effort to get past that as well…

Zombie movie villain or not, I must applaud mr Sandmann for asking unpopular questions and in truth I wish people would do so more often.

Asking questions is only a problem when you aren’t actually interested in the answer or when you only accept the outcome if it is convenient for you.

I will try to keep track of this Climate Intelligence investigation and look forward to reading its conclusions. I may have some questions of my own in return though!

P.C.


This is Blog 16 in my A-Z Blogseries:
P.C.

Urban Dictionary is a website I often turn to when trying to find creative ways to describe a word or when I hear a word being used in a way “on the street” that is unfamiliar to me.

Urban Dictionary is not so much a dictionary as it is a lexicology forum where people post and discuss definitions of words. As we have come to expect when people try to have online conversations, things can get heated very quickly though. Also there are plenty of trolls out there that create, fuel and feed off of online discord.

Political Correctness (or its abbreviation P.C.) is a term that is really interesting to analyze. The internet is hugely divided as to what it means and if it is a good or bad thing. It has become pretty hard to define it without picking a side. The Cambridge Dictionary made an attempt:

Definition according to the Cambridge Online Dictionary

In recent years being called P.C. has actually become an insult. I found this quite confusing at first (and I even wrote a blog about it back in 2016).

A quick scroll through Urban Dictionary produced the following results:

“PC” has come to refer to people who tell you which words you are and are not allowed to use.

A small part of me understands the complaint. It is very annoying to talk to someone who is focusing more on the individual words you are using, instead of the message you are actually trying to bring across.

Sometimes though, the message being conveyed is just as horrible as the words you have chosen to express it. In that case you just need to face it: you are a shitty specimen of a human being and the PC crew is actually right!

Oimoi


This is Blog 15 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Oimoi!

This alphabet challenge thing is messing with my brain…

After I wrote the blog on linguistics I remembered I had wanted to write about Louis CK.

And then when I was writing about Natalia Lafourcade for the letter N, I realized the blog I was writing was actually an ode to her album Musas, which would have made it more appropriate for one letter earlier…

And then, after I had published that blog I realized I totally wanted to dedicate a blog to the Notre Dame… But by then the N was already taken…

Why does it work that way??

So then I decided I would just make up a word (Pyromania) to talk about this Notre Dame situation…

This girl is on fiiiiirrre! (too soon?)

But I still had to do the letter O right, before I could move on to P. So much pressure (and so little result)! Oimoi!

I already started writing my hotheaded pyro-blog, describing my annoyance with the ginormous disproportionate donations that were being promised by billionaire companies and individuals, well before the fire was even under control.

My annoyance spread out into religious matters, global inequality and humanity’s messed up priorities.

Luckily, my thoughts turned out to be quite mainstream. In the following days, as I heard more people echoing the same thoughts I had been having, my anger subsided.

While I was walking home just now I decided I would chuck the angry blogpost I had started to write, straight into the trash…

…and that’s when I received a message from a friend (who had noticed I had been struggling with my O) reminding me that the cathedral’s name actually translates to “Our Lady”…

Is this karma at work?