Mind Cleanup January 2022

January. The month of new beginnings and new years resolutions.

New Job

This new year is looking good for me so far. I started my new job in the first week of 2022 and have been looking forward to each new work day since. My job title is “Communications officer” which makes me very happy to say out loud for some reason.

My position is a part of the company’s new sustainability department and in my first month I pretty much had only one task: write the Communication on Progress report. It was a great way to get to know the company and I think everybody was happy with how it turned out. Yay!

Music

A friend recommended me a band, called AnnenMayKantereit. Some of their songs remind me of Mumford & Sons. Only without the banjo. The lead singer on the other hand, seems to be a cross between Paolo Nutini and George Ezra.

Oh yeah, and they sing in German.

For us Dutchies, the German language is easy to understand as it is quite similar to our own language. Also, it is a mandatory subject in the first two years of secondary school, along with French and English. Because many of us still have an inherent and intergenerational aversion towards the language, it takes a bit of effort to admit when it is actually beautiful. Like now.

Go on, give it a chance. Look up other songs as well (they did some super interesting covers too).

And if you’re feeling ambitious, look up the lyrics and give them a spin through the Google Translate monster.

New word

I learned a new word. Or actually, I learned a new meaning for a word I already thought I knew.

Flakey

‘Flakey’ apparently means unreliable? Apparently its also used as a verb: “to flake out”, which means to miss an appointment… Really? Since when? I clearly missed the memo, but I recently heard it in a youtube vid and had to look it up.

OK, I did some more research. This video helped:

Am I a flaker? Eum… Yes, sometimes for sure.

Luckily, I have friends that can handle the truth, making “Sorry, I can’t deal with the world today” a totally legitimate reason to call off an appointment. And in general I really like their company, so that makes me really want to actually show up.

On to February!

Supporting Arnold Schwarzenegger

In my mind, Arnold Schwarzenegger never really rose above the status of “ambitious meathead”. I always joked about how tragic it really was he had reached a point where his English was now as good as it was ever going to get and that his German was actually not very good anymore either. There aren’t very many people that aren’t fluent in any language…

I know that he was the governor of California for a while and that people called him the “governator”. He seemed popular enough but I really know nothing about his political legacy, other than that he served two terms and is a republican.

So, when he dedicated a video message to president Trump earlier this summer, with an anti-hate message, I was very pleasantly surprised. He comes across as a very wise man, actually!

 

 

 

I’d vote for this guy based on this!

And then after Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement, he posted another video:

 

So yah, if he would drop his support for the death penalty, I would totally buy this t-shirt.

terminate hate tshirt.jpg

The power of words

[…]

Now, it is a massively difficult to get your head round; how ordinary people, – and Germans are ordinary people just like us, and if we don’t believe that, then we’ll be doing to them what they did to the jews, we will be ascribing a racist characteristic just to Germans, that is unique to them, – I think we can all be grown up enough to know that it was humanity doing something to another parcel of humanity, and that it was very extraordinary. We’ve seen examples of it in our own lifetimes, such as Ruwanda and Burundi and other places where massacres of extraordinary brutality have taken place.

And in each one of these genocidal moments, or attempts of full genocide, each example was preceded by language used again and again and again to dehumanize the person that had to be killed, in the political eyes of their owners. […] And they start to characterize them week after week after week after week, and you start to think that someone who is slightly sullen, someone you don’t like very much anyway, and you’re constantly getting the idea that they’re not actually human. Then it seems that it becomes possible to do things to them that are, we would call unhuman… inhuman… lacking humanity. Oddly enough, we’re the only species that does it…

It is interesting and important to remember that language not only guarantees our freedom.  In free exchanges of ideas, such as this, in which one is allowed to say anything in which one would hope everyone observes the decencies of debate and of good nature and is not cruel and unkind, mocking derisory, unpleasant, vicious or indeed whipping up violence, but as long as ideas are exchanged freely then we can more or less guarantee some level of stability within our societies. But the moment we begin to use special language for special people and special terms of insult to special people, then thats when, and we can see it very clearly because history demostrates it time and time again, that’s when ordinary people are able to kill.

There’s an amazing book called “Ach die schone Zeite”, which I think has recently been translated under the title “Those were the days” and it’s a horrific thing to read because it is so ordinary. It is simply the letters home from the guards and soldiers and SS members and officers of the death camps of Auschwitz, letters home to their families.

[…]

It’ so human that it makes someone kind of gasp at how this kind of happened. And language is at the root of it and I suppose that is why we have to be careful about our language or we have to be alert to it, we have to think about it…