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Melantrys’ Page » 2005 » November

Archive for November, 2005

Rant

Monday, November 14th, 2005

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Sometimes I get this urge to stop cars and ask the drivers if they are insane or just plain stupid.

It is foggy today, very foggy. Doesn’t look as if it will clear at all today. Sight is at 200m maximum.
Still, it’s not dark anymore, so some people think it’s ok to drive without their bloody lights on. Or with their parking lights on. Excuse me…. p-a-r-k-i-n-g lights. So, what is the difference between p-a-r-k-i-n-g and d-r-i-v-i-n-g, folks? Haven’t figured it out yet? Well, hand over your licence, and make it quick!

[/rant]

hijab or not hijab

Sunday, November 13th, 2005

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Without a doubt the Muslim headscarf - or hijab - has been used as a symbol of oppression and inequality through the ages. Fundamental Islamistic states have forced their women to hide their hair and often their faces as well from the outside world, whether those women wanted to be “protected” that way or not. This was and is wrong. Every person has to have the right to wear - or in fact, not wear - what he or she pleases.

This misuse of the hijab is what remains in people’s heads most strongly though. Even I have to admit that I have a certain feeling of… reservation towards this symbol.

But we should not forget that it is also a religious symbol.

Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state, wanted the Turkish women to have equality. One way of achieving this was for him to forbid the hijab, declaring Turkey to be a secular state.
Today there’s a move by some of Turkey’s politicians to try and reverse this, but they will face some major difficulties.

This November the European Court for Human Rights in Straßburg/Strasbourgh rejected the suit of a 32-year-old medical student who had been forced to leave her studies at a university in Istanbul.
The court argued that the ban of the hijab was not against the basic rights to education and religious freedom.
In their decision the judges referred to the protection of democracy and pluralism and the equality of the sexes. Yet they admitted that the plaintiff had been barred from showing her religiousness and from taking part in lectures.
Somehow contrary to that they still judged the ban to be constitutional. It would keep the Turkish state from favouring one religion and would therefore ensure freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.
As the ban would forbid people to publicly display their belief, people of a different faith and non-believers would be protected from repressions by the state or religious fundamentalists.

(In 1999 already the young woman went to Vienna, Austria, to continue her studies…)

For a few years now politicians in Germany have been advancing the idea that teachers should be forbidden to wear hijabs at state schools and universities.
Turkey was always named as a glorious Muslim example. “See, if they are forbidding it, it can’t really be a religious symbol, or a Muslim country would never do that!”

School rules and lesson plans being decided by the counties rather than by the state, the decision about the hijab was left to the respective counties as well.
Some politicians advanced the idea to not make any general decision at all but to decide in each case. Basically not such a bad idea, but how exactly does one find out whether that new teacher wants to wear a hijab because of religious reasons or because of being a fundamentalist?? If she is the latter she will very likely be clever enough not to say so.

If I am not mistaken (either Google doesn’t know everything, or I’m asking the wrong questions ;) ) five counties so far have passed a law to forbid the hijab, among them Baden-Württemberg, Niedersachsen, the Saarland and Hessen. My own county Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW) has just set the process in motion, endeavouring to become number six.
I find it very interesting that they manage to forbid the hijab while not even explicitely naming it. The reason for that is said to be that this way the law sounds more like something that international courts would approve of.
Here’s the bit they want to put into the school laws (there’s two different words for male and female teachers in German, and I want to keep that in, so excuse the awkward translation):
The new passage will forbid female and male teachers the use of symbols that endanger “the political, religious or ideological peace at school” through “giving the impression that a female or male teacher will take a stand against the dignity of man, equality (…), the right to freedom or the free democratic basic order”. Only in the attached formal explanation they actually state that what they mean is: No hijab for female teachers in NRW.
If no miracle happens in the meantime this will be the law from the beginning of the schoolyear 2006/07 on.
The choice of vague words has been well thought through. They are meant to forbid the hijab, while at the same time allowing the wearing of the Christian cross or the Jewish kippa, as for many the hijab is - so the additional law text states - a symbol of the inferior status of the woman in society and family or a demonstration of a fundamentalistic theocracy. The Christian-occidental tradition though is a fixed part of the regional constitution.

Apart from kippa and cross the hijab-free counties still allow the habit of the nuns, some even defining the habit as work clothes.

An FDP politician stated that the point was not the evaluation of religions but the self assertion of our order of values against the Islamic fundamentalism.

A Die Grüne politician quoted Johannes Rau (SPD; “The illegal use of a symbol should not impair its legal use.”) and added “How do I recognize a fundamentalistic male teacher anyway?”

I will conclude my fact finding - again - with a little passage I found on the web, on the main page of the Institut für soziale Dreigliederung to be correct:
The issue here is not the question whether one approves of the hijab or not. The decisive factor is that one cannot forbid the hijab without betraying freedom oneself. And the question arises whether one is much better then than those who work for enforcing the hijab in Islamic countries.

Well, like in the good ol’ school essays, time for my own words here at the end.

Like I said in my opening paragraphs I myself am having mixed feelings about the hijab. We do have a problem here with Muslims taking the ancient “traditions” too far, be that by keeping their women from learning German (or to read and write, for that matter), forcing them to wear hijab in public and keeping up the time honoured values of family honour by killing their daughters and sisters who dare go against that.
There I do agree with the - also time honoured - cry of: If they want to live here, they have to accept our social and democratic values. Period.

But if we are a free and democratic country, offering religious freedom, then we can’t do that with one blind eye.

We can’t allow the habit and crosses because they’re part of our “Christian-occidental tradition”. I am a Christian - although admittedly from the point of view of the Pope the wrong kind of - and all the crosses on the school walls I encountered annoyed the heck out of me.
The habit of a nun defines her as a nun, so in a very broad sense you could maybe argue that this makes the habit her working clothes. But as her “job” is religion that renders the whole thing null and void again. Besides, a lot of nuns active in youth work often do not wear their habit at work. Interesting, hm?
Besides, I’ve always felt that the habit serves exactly the same purpose the hijab does in some places (except for the bride thing of course): A nun is the bride of Jesus (I think. Or was it God? Can somebody tell me?) and every earthly man has to keep his hands off her. So she dresses up in some drab uniform, even hiding her hair from people. Hm, that does sound familiar, doesn’t it?

As for the Jewish kippa being a part of our Christian-occidental tradition… Since when? So, ok, Jesus was a Jew and all the rest, but we are a Christian country, not a Jewish one. And maybe it is just this region (I’m not going to google for population percentages now), but a male teacher with kippa would have surprised me more than a female one with hijab. You see hijabs everywhere!
For any Jew happening across this humble blog I’d like to add that I don’t have any problems with either Jews or teachers wearing the kippa; it’s the principle here that I’m having a serious problem with.

And talking about religious freedom at schools, I’d like to take you back to my youth.
In grade school our main teacher prayed with us once a week before school started. I don’t remember her sending out our two Muslim pupils, or there ever being a word about them having a different faith and these prayers not concerning them. Unfortunately I was caught up too much in my own confusion and misery (and ignorance) to notice whether or not they were in the same awkward position I was.
Because, you see, we always had to cross ourselves.
I didn’t even know how to do that! I am not Catholic; I did not have to!
Only after having a word with my parents - and they with the teacher - did I stop trying to keep up with that crossing thing. But I still felt out of place.

In Germany we teach religion at school. I know that in some places more is offered, but here it’s just Catholic and Protestant religion lessons taking part at the same time. To keep our two Muslims busy it was offered to their parents to let them take part in one of those lessons (one family declined apparently). But was there a choice for the parents who sent their son to religion classes at grade school? No. It was a given that Muslims would attend the Protestant course.

Much later, at the end of the fourth grade, a fellow pupil told me that in Catholic religion class - held by that main teacher lady by the way - they had been told that Protestants were heathens. Furthermore we were also said to be stupid.

Thankfully this is not happening in the local grade school anymore, but back then - and further back - these were not single incidents.

My sister often had to walk back home from her grade school in the place we used to live before 1980 because if the last lesson for the day for some reason did not take place at the Catholic grade school, their dean called the bus company and cancelled the last bus for the day, totally forgetting about the fact that they shared the bus service with the adjoining Protestant grade school. And that was quite a march, or else there would not have been a school bus in the first place…

Science?

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

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the Externsteine

These huge sandstone stones are situated not very far from here.

They’re said to have been a place of worship in Celtic times already. Every year, at times like Midsummer, Samhein and whatnot, hippie heathens go there to party.

They’ve definitely been used by the church, which soon becomes obvious when you approach one of the main stones - a huge biblical scene has been hewn into the poor innocent rock.

I don’t know if the picture can bring that across (especially as it’s in such poor quality, but it’s a photo that has been scanned by an ailing scanner…), but if you just stand there and look at them, it’s like… wow. They’re awe-inspiring.

You can vividly imagine those Celtic “heathens” climbing up them and feeling grand, just like you yourself are doing, standing there.

Skeptics always said that that was more wishful thinking than proven fact.
And during the last month the media announced them to be right. (The skeptics, not the starry-eyed neo-Celts.)

I read an article in our local newspaper which announced the scientifically proven fact that the caves in the stones have not been used before the Middle Ages. It then went on to explain the scientific method the scientists who spent 1.5 years doing their stuff there had used. But let’s skip that for a moment.
As I don’t have the newspaper anymore I dug up a Spiegel article on the web.

Basically it said the same thing, only in more detail.
Two fire marks in the caves are said to have been made in 1325 and 1425 AD.
The marks in the grotto are decidedly older and are estimated to be from 735 and 934 AD. Even with the given margin for error this would mean that the earliest mark cannot have been made any earlier than 555 AD.

Then the article goes on to explain the scientific method used.

Apparently it is possible to date the time when the quartz and feldspar grains within the sandstone have been heated the last time.

See anything green? I sure did right in that Glocke article. The Spiegel people were at least honest (clever?) enough to mention the obvious flaw of this method.

It’s failsafe against smaller fires (as it is a known fact that people have been lighting fires in the caves and the grotto until the 1960’s), but it will only tell you the time of the last really big fire.
The caves could in theory have been in use for 10,000 years, and the method would only show those latest fires.

Yes, I admit I want to believe.

But as long as science does not provide any real proof I dare say that is my right. :)

It’s teh evil Opera bug!!!!

Monday, November 7th, 2005

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Seems like for some reason my posts are suddenly being eaten in the publishing process when I use Opera.
IE works just fine which surprises me a bit, because it didn’t work for Hassan. So of course I didn’t even try, except for just now in a “going through the motions” way because Blogger Support had asked me to in an email.

Ahhh, this is all so confusing! And weird.

And it’s definitely too late in the day now to write a real post with all the stuff that’s been sloshing through my brain.

Well, I suppose I’ll have a lot of time for that tomorrow.
I gather I’ll be off work early because all the customers will faint when I breathe on them.
My, was there a lot of garlic on that pizza!!!!

Brains!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 4th, 2005

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Ayyyy, I just babbled so incoherently that the Kid’s internet connection broke down!! That’s what I call a baaaaaad influence!

I think someone stole my brains. Or parts thereof.
*curses the cold she’s having*

Do I have anything else to say? I dunno. Thinking is so hard.

I think I might watch something not intellectually challenging on tv now.

Sorry, folks, that’s the post for today, mwahahahahahahahahaha!

Ah, I love my favourite forum!!!

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

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This post is dedicated to [c]oma (although he does not deserve it, bastard that he is for not reading my blog!), cos he made me laugh so hard just a few minutes ago.
Or was that the blueberry Glühwein I have been drinking, and not the joke as such…?

Thread: What are you wearing atm ?

Frenzie: I thought this was the drunken babbel draad?

A few minutes later:

Thread: drunbkene balebble thraed!

Frenzie: Oh crap this is the drunkel balebbelble topic.

[c]oma: User error: replace user and press any key to continue

*picks herself off floor again*

Well, either the joke or the wine is really good. Who cares which of the two it is….

*wanders off to heat some more of the stuff*

*sips*

*laughs some more*

Anyway. As my sister so cunningly advertised in my comments section she has made a post ridiculing babelfish.
Note to readers: Don’t go there if you don’t speak German.

Hah! Babelfish! I remember the famous days of my endless chat sessions with Drew, the crazy Australian (Where’s the meme, you senile bugger?!)…. At some point he wanted to “pretend that he knew German”. Oh my, that was so funny. There was not one sentence that made any sense.
Babelfish is no help at all if you seriously wish to translate stuff, but it can sure entertain you for hours….
After I had explained to Drew how to pronounce “Sackgesicht” (literally: scrotum face; one of the funkier German swearwords….) - yes, Australians like to broaden their horizon as well - he entered it into babelfish, and decided that the result (”sack face”) was a very nice swearword as well.
Hey, Drew, can you still say it? :) Got any new German colleagues to use it on???

Damn, that is some nice Glühwein.

Er.

Oh, yeah, sister.


Look, it’s Shit for Brains, er, Fiona!!!

Got nothing else to say for today, except that Ç. quit, and that’s a shame….

Weekly filthy foreigners update?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

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Today a Turkish couple was shopping at the store.
Very, very regular customers.
Anyway, they wanted to buy four folding chairs, and I had a lot of fun already following their argument about whether to get blue or black ones.
While he was following A. into the direction of the cellar (and the chairs), she stood there, rolling her eyes, announcing to the world in general that blue chairs would not match anything in their kitchen at all.
Returning with the chairs he had to admit that his wife was right and that the black ones definitely had more style.

Then he asked me if he could leave the chairs at the register while they continued shopping instead of breaking his back with them. I told him that - quite on the contrary - he might even tone his muscles by carrying ‘em around for half an hour.
He said he’d rather pass, as he had seriously been having troubles with his back, and today was the first day that he felt able to attempt carrying anything again. “And already I have to carry these chairs; I think my wife is after my life insurance.”

When they were almost done, hubby stopped to look at a couple of watches. Like any undecided customer would do it. Handle this package, handle that one, approach me with a question about one watch (which I couldn’t answer the way I would have liked to, as the boss chose that moment to make an appearance; but the dude didn’t pick that watch then anyway, phew!), put that package back, stare thoughtfully at another one…..
… while all the while the boss was watching him very, very intently.

Yes, I know, even nice and funny people might attempt thefts. Even regular customers might attempt thefts. I just wish he’d stop watching every Turk, “Arab”, Russian, Sri Lankan or black person like a hawk…

A couple of months ago a former colleague was shopping at our place with her husband (both Russians), and he told me to follow them and make sure they didn’t steal. Hello?! All the time she worked there, there was never any reason to suspect her of anything. There just isn’t. She’s way too moral!

Bah, bah, bah…..

Still no sign of Orlando by the way; this is starting to worry me. ;)

What else is “new”?

I still don’t know what “asshole” means in Arabic; shame on the Kid for suddenly having to log off. As my sister put it, one should never miss an opportunity to broaden one’s horizon.

The mutilated knuckle of my thumb is red and swollen and hurts; I think I really deserve some pity here… *pouts*

Oh, and I’m bored, so some more senseless picture posting:


Behold Birger, the Saxon…


… teaching me a bit of swordplay

Credits

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

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Credits for the pictures in the last post go out to:

- KrankImKopf, for advising me on my camera purchase

- my camera, for being amazing

- Oomph! and Dero, for being maniacs ;)

- System of a Down, for touring a bit of Europe

- and last, but not least, C., for allowing me to use the pic of him staring evilly at his skeleton, even though he doesn’t even remember the specific pic (too much beer at that Halloween party last year for you then, eh..?) and doesn’t have internet at the moment and thus can’t check out the pic and the content in which it is being used

Yeeees, dear audience, I admit to being bored.

But I think the above should be said anyway. Even if most of the people mentioned won’t ever read it. Or at least not for some time (C.).

*is listening to “To the hilt” by Die Krupps right now, which will be followed shortly by KMFDM’s brilliant cover of “Material girl”*

Useless Things

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

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You know those kinds of days when you just can’t get off your ass to do anything productive?

The most exciting thing I did so far was wonder what I’ll do to my left thumb next. Hack it off maybe? Have hurt it in ugly ways for the second time within three days yesterday…
Maybe I could fry it for lunch then…. But, no, I couldn’t, could I?

Some okras maybe? Hhhhhm-hm, that sounds sticky, er, yummy.

Am listening to “Wenn du weinst” by Oomph! right now. It’s funny what two live gigs can do to you. Every time I hear this song I can’t help but see Dero’s manic pacing during those guitar parts in my mind’s eye….

Actually I’m listening to a lot of Oomph! songs these days.

… Which I think is much better than listening to Rammstein, like some people do… :P

und ich höre deinen Atem
und ich rieche deine Angst
ich kann nicht mehr länger warten
denn ich weiß, was du verlangst

Oomph! - Augen auf!


Augen auf, ich komme!

hast du heute schon geglaubt
und dir einen Gott erlaubt
hast du Gott heut’ umgebracht
und ihn danach neu erdacht

Oomph! - Tausend neue Lügen

(Julien, you’ll put in a good word for me if I’m violating copyright, eh? *bats eyes*)

So, Kid, are you reading this boring little blog on a regular basis, or only whenever I point you towards it?

Well, if you’ve become a regular, here’s a little something for you.

Well, ok, and for Maarten as well. (Do you remember the opening act, or does your brain shut down when thinking of them? *shivers*)


System of a Down…


… playing in Rotterdam

They also had some vocals going with “Aerials”. ;)

Although I have to admit that the pictures’ quality suffers a lot by being reduced to such a low number of pixels….. :-?

Aaaaactually I just feel like posting a lot of silly pictures, so….


… a belated…


… Happy Halloween…


… to all you freaks


… out there!!!!!