I'm feeling good.
When I came home after only five hours or so on Saturday, my body was clearly puzzled. That all?
Mind you, I was glad to be out of the heat, but the walking was fine.

Now I'm off to go jogging, but before that...


And also a very happy, though belated birthday to the lovely [livejournal.com profile] chickbrarian, who would probably leave me in the dust if I ever ran in the same competition.

Lastly, there's a fantastic exchange story up, Whom the gods annoy. Great read!
[...]It is true that to trace the exact boundary between rightful and wrongful resistance is impossible: but this impossibility arises from the nature of right and wrong, and is found in almost every part of ethical science. A good action is not distinguished from a bad action by marks so plain as those which distinguich a hexagon from a square. There is a frontier where virtue and vice fade into each other. Who has ever been able to define the exact boundary between courage and rashness, between prudence and cowardice, between frugality and avarice, between liberality and prodigality? Who has ever been able to say how far mercy to offenders ought to be carried, and where it ceases to deserve the name of mercy and becomes a pernicious weakness? What casuist, what lawgiver, has ever been able to nicely mark the limits of the right of self-defence? All our jurists hold that a certain quantity of risk to life or limb justifies a man in shooting or stabbing an assailant: but they have long given up in despair the attempt to describe, in precise words, that quantity of risk. They only say that it must be, not a slight risk, but a risk such as would cause serious apprehension to a man of firm mind; and who will undertake to say what is the precise amount of apprehension which deserves to be called serious, or what is the precise texture of a mind which deserves to be called firm. It is doubtless to be regrettet that the nature of words and the nature of things do not admit of more accurate legislation: nor can it be denied that wrong will often be done when men are judges in their own cause, and proceed instantly to execute their own judgment. Yet who would, on that account, interdict all self-defence? The right which a people hast o resist a bad government bears a close analogy to the right which an individual, in the absence of legal protection, has to slay an assailant. In both cases the evil must be grave. In both cases all regular and peaceable modes of defence must be exhausted before the aggrieved party resorts to extremities. In both cases an awful responsibility is incurred. In both cases the burden of the proof lies on whim who has ventured on so desperate and expedient; and if he fails to vindicate himself, he is justly liable to the severest penalties. But in neither case can we absolutely deny the existence of the right. A man beset by assasins is not bound to let himself be tortured and butchered without using his erapons, because nobody has ever been able to precisely define the amount of danger which justifies homicide. Nor is a society bound to endure passively all that tyranny can inflict, because nobody has ever been able to precisely define the amount of misgovernment which justifies rebellion.[...]
I’m rather disgusted this morning.
No, scratch that. I’m absolutely, totally, completely disgusted.

I just read an article about what experts apparently call sexual neglect.
Just the stories, not the theory:
A social worker frequently visits families whom he finds sitting in front of the TV together watching porn.
A fourteen-year-old girl’s plans for the weekend mostly consist of a gang bang.
In youth clubs, supervisors don’t leave teenagers alone in a room because too often they return to find the girls giving the boys blow jobs.
A woman shows porn movies to her nine-year-old son and his friends and lets them watch her having sex with her boyfriend. When taken to task by a social worker, she says “I don’t know what your problem is; it’s just sex, perfectly normal.”
A pastor in a youth centre is asked by a nine-year-old whether he wears thongs – she thinks the ones her mother’s boyfriend wears are so cool. An eleven-year-old girl asks the same pastor whether it’s normal for her not to have had sex yet.
The managing director of a porn movie company says the best-selling movies are those completely without plot – just a woman, several men and maybe a halfway flat surface. All amateur actors, of course, because the buyers prefer to see the women feel “real pain”.
Two girls of 19 and 20 respectively explain that they didn’t start with sex all that early – “maybe eleven or so, just like the others”.
A six-year-old boy caught teachers’ attention in school because he kept pulling girls into corners, pulled down their pants and underwear and was pretending to have sex with them. The mother explained that she lets her son watch when she and her boyfriend watch porn movies including rape scenes. After the talk with a social worker, she banned her son to his room when she was watching those movies, but let him watch them in his room alone.
Girls offer sex to boys whenever, wherever. Other kids record that with their cell phones and put the movies on the internet.
Primary school children quote songs about gang bangs, rape and every possible form of sexual intercourse.
Mothers take their children to concerts of those “musicians”, because they themselves think they are so cool.
One of those rappers claims that these fantasies are what all women dream of. Asked to verify that, he browses through the contacts on his cell phone. “Can’t call this one, she’s not even sixteen, would give me all kinds of trouble. This one, she’s nineteen.” He calls the girl, she arrives, introduces herself as the girl with a gang bang record of twelve guys at once.
A psychotherapist tells about an eleven-year old boy who raped his four-year-old sister multiple times. At first he didn’t want to talk about his reasons, then he said, “they all do that”.

(The German article can be found here)

Last night in a radio show about a completely different topic was mentioned the story of a German woman who, in the Fourties, had a son with an American soldier. Which caused all kinds of trouble for her because the soldier was black, so it was pretty obvious, and her husband had not actually died in the war as she had thought, but returned later to find her with a child most definitely not his.
Anyway, the woman explained that the soldier had been so nice to her, giving her and her family chocolate and cigarettes and stuff, she wanted to repay him, and that was the best she could do.

The thing is, what these girls today do is pretty much the same thing. They have so little self-respect that they don’t seem to see anything wrong with being hurt by guys. On the contrary, having sex with as many people as possible, and telling everyone, becomes a way of being important, of being somebody in their group.

They don’t hold hands. They don’t kiss. If you told them about love, they’d probably have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s not even closeness they express with the sex; it’s become a way of passing the time. It’s not “I like you; I want to get close to you”. It’s “I’m bored, there’s nothing on TV, let’s have sex”. Apparently, there have been cases on military bases too, where males and females get together on long, boring weekends for a bit of gang bang.

And with what they see growing up, neither the guys nor the girls see anything wrong with that. They hear and see that women like to be raped, that it’s normal for several men to have a go at one woman, that it’s normal for the woman to feel pain, that there is no need for any kind of emotion to be involved.

And what kind of background will these people bring to their families? Given that contraception does not play an important role in porn movies, it is to be expected that they will at some point reproduce. They themselves were raised in a surrounding that hasn’t given them any idea about relationships, emotion or even a healthy respect for their own bodies.

What kind of future is that?
I have made a microloan to these people here: Tulwanirewamu Group, Kampala, Uganda

Now I feel like I'm a good person.

Hopefully, the money will actually reach them.
Thanks [livejournal.com profile] jonthedull for linking that page!
I really need to do a real post one of these days.

Last week was the bookfair and the library congress. I met a bunch of people I knew, got to shake hands with our former President Richard von Weizsäcker (who happens to be my sister's boss), got in touch with a guy from the booksellers' association who's responsible for the organisation around the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, for which exists an exhibition we might arrange to have displayed in my library.
I also managed to get a bunch of free books and radio dramas.

And I read almost all of last year's library journals.

Not bad, eh?

Today I have to do the announcements for swearing in ceremony of the new recruits.

Next week I'm in Berlin and from 12th April on my boss will be off on sick leave and I will have to do his job.

Good times all around.
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] agrathea and [livejournal.com profile] wolflady26! I hope you both had wonderful birthdays.

Also, after going to see yet another movie on Friday (second one this year! What's going on here?) - Book of Eli, which was a surprise and really good, IMO - yesterday a friend on the base called whose birthday also is on Wednesday and invited me for a barbeque he's having Wednesday evening. So I have plans for the evening of my birthday. It's probably the first time since I stopped having birthday parties at the age of 11 or so.
I'm impressed, really.

Also, I broke the no cake or cookies during lent rule yesterday - big time. A colleague had wonderful chocolate cake and IKEA chocolate cookies and I simply didn't have the energy to resist.
Of course, that meant I gained some of the weight that I had lost since I stopped eating cookies. Unfortunately, while it takes forever for me to lose a single gram, give me one bad day and I'm back with at least one kilo more than before.
And also, the crazy calorie intake gave me a headache all day yesterday (I blame it one the chocolate rather than on my 7:30-hour hiking tour through snow and freezing cold on Sunday) and horrible nightmares tonight. (Actually, I think it's good if I come to the point where I can't stand eating that much sweets anymore. Will make not eating them easier.)

And tomorrow is my birthday. Yay!

Also, after reading Humboldt's account of his journey along the Orinoco and the Casaquare to find the connection to the Amazonas (rivers in South America seem to flow into odd directions. They confuse me.) and with a quick stop at Anne McCaffrey ("Three women", which has become something of a comfort read. I love those three stories.) I have returned to French books and am trying my abilities at Arsène Lupin.

When next we meet, I will be older.
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] knight0fswords!
It's march, so there's going to be birthdays every other day.

I didn't do much this weekend. Last weekend I was in Meiningen, which is pretty much the nearest town with an actual theatre around here, and watched a Verdi opera of expected oddity of story, but with very good singing. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_forza_del_destino, if you're interested in the odd and very confusing story.)

So this weekend it was mostly sitting around. On Sunday I read the lecture in church and set up everything for the service beforehand and cleared up afterwards. Our regular pastor was away, so the military pastor did the service. At the end our organist informed him that he should know me (he asked for my name) because I was working at the same place as he did. And then he asked me whether I was in any way related to the lady doing the school news every three months, because that girl looked somewhat similar.
Well, that similarity comes from her being me, you know.
*snort* He's not really one of the brightest, it seems...

I went jogging on Thursday and discovered I'm made of fail. However, it looks as if we're finally approaching spring, most of the snow is gone, temperatures are above freezing and when it isn't raining it's quite nice outside, so I'm going to go jogging again and hope for improvement.
Yesterday I went inline skating but only for about half an hour. The wind was so strong it pushed me up one hill, and on my way back I had to fight it uphill (that makes sense if you keep in mind that around here, no matter where you go, it's always uphill. Fact of life.) and barely made it, especially as it kept blowing all the sand and split on the roads into my face. Good thing I was wearing sunglasses.

Off to work now.

If I'm lucky, I will finish reading "La peste" this week. No more "concitoyens"!

Fou, French question:
Le docteur eut l'impression qu'il s'agissait de quelque chose de plus sérieux que ne semblait dire Paneloux.
What's with that half negative there? Why the "ne"?
Yet again, the stupid Hermes mail delivery service managed to not find the huge military base in the middle of nowhere where I work.
At least, yet again, they have been unable to deliver my amazon order that should have been there by Saturday.

Bloody hell!

I just wrote a mean and sarcastic mail to Amazon asking them how I can make sure these people will never ever handle another order from me. Ever.
They are made of fail. Huge, miserable, unmitigated FAIL.

I was waiting for these books, dammit!

I have no icon that fully expresses my wrath, so Jason Isaacs will have to do, because his expression best pictures the full potential of what my wrath could do to these people if I got hold of them.
Thank you for the bear hug, [livejournal.com profile] wolflady26!


Jan. 25th, 2010 06:26 am
For once, I didn't stay at work long enough on Friday to finish everything I had wanted to do that week. I was just sick and tired of crossing out our stamps in the books I'm tossing out, which is just as boring as deleting the records in our computer catalogue.
The upside was that I got off work earlier than I normally do. The down side is I still have that stuff waiting for me today.

Secondly, thanks to the lovely and very helpful [livejournal.com profile] foudebassan, my to-be-read stack (which is practically nonexistant at the moment, to be honest) now contains three French books. Two, rather, I've already started on the third: Robert Merle's Idole. I've read it in German years ago, and it's written in modern French, but gosh, it takes forever to read!
It really makes me notice how unused my French skills are.
Un the upside, even though I refuse to use a dictionary and thus have to understand everything from the context, so far I don't think I missed any vital information.
Still, I wonder how I managed to survive in France not once but twice now. The first time, back in 1997, I was living with a host family and had to communicate regularly, which I remember doing, though now I couldn't say how. The second time, last year, I didn't need to talk that much and it was mostly the same things everyday - paying entrance fees, finding a place to stay for the night, that sort of thing. Sometimes chatting with people I met, but not all that much.
French definitely doesn't come as easily to me as English does. Though I discovered a few days ago that reading English non-fiction is still harder than reading German - I took quite some time going through the background literature in my edition of Thomas More's "Utopia", though I guess letters by Erasmus or the writings of philosophers would take me longer in German, too.

I'm woefully behind on books read this year. January is almost over and I have finished 19 books, eight of which were nonfiction. So far, only one has been a re-read (and worse, it was an Amanda Quick I needed for a quick romance fix in between serious reading). Though part of the problem is that there really aren't all that many unread books on my shelves anymore, which makes it harder to find something to match my mood. *sigh* Too few books.

Anyway, I better get going. It snowed again yesterday and I don't believe anybody cleared our sidewalk yet.
The good:
I have converted the wife of a friend to the cult of Lilith Saintcrow. He said she's desperately waiting for the next book and worried she'll finish the current one before the next one's available.

The bad:
I ordered Dante Valentine 4 (And also the first Jill Kismet, but that won't be out until May) on Monday, but the idiot delivery guy to whom amazon gave it was unable to drop it of at the mail on the base. He couldn't find it. (*headdesk*) They're going to try again today. Stoooopid!
I had hoped to get it all labeled and everything in time for my friend to take it home with him for the weekend.

The ugly:
I'm deleting old records of journals we don't have anymore, copies that we passed on to other departments. The deleting hasn't been done in years, meaning I have approximately 2000 records to deal with. And the computer system made marking them for deletion not a simple, one-click process. It takes forever and is the most annoying work imaginable. Grrr.


Jan. 18th, 2010 08:21 pm
I signed up for the new round of the SS/HG exchange. Just reading some prompts there either caused plot bunnies to jump around everywhere or caused a laughter worthy of Dogbert.

Also, I rearranged the library (pics will follow), and just about everybody who came in today really liked it. (Some people didn't appear to notice that there are shelves now where there weren't any before, other shelves were turned, some shelves were deconstructed, the public computer and one of the sofas was moved. Guess you can't notice every little detail, can you?)

I was really busy. Lots and lots to do, and I still have trouble with the cold and headaches that keep coming and going. Really annoying!

I got a mail today telling me that Russian women make the best wives. Thanks, but I think I'll pass. Also, as I've said before, I really have no issues with the length of my penis and the number of times I make my girlfriends come. And no woman has ever laughed when she's seen me naked. (Okay, except in school, but those weren't women, and I doubt any of the products these guys sell would have helped there...)

Off to bed. (Why is it that kids are so eager to stay up late. It's half past eight and I long for my bed!)
Happy Birthday to David Bowie and Severus Snape.

For Severus Snape's gifts, see the [livejournal.com profile] severusbigbang community.

For David, I give you an old, old song of his, and an ancient performance (compare his moves with later years! OMG *L*)

The song, for some reason, was one of the very first that really, really touched me deeply.

Okay, what do I say, "for some reason". I know exactly why. One line in there was like a well-needed slap in the face.

Anyway, Happy Birthday. And to everybody else who became a year older around this time.

Oh, what the heck, you can never stop at one:

That's a Jaques Brel original. There are several recordings by Bowie, but the studio version didn't have the same raw emotion as this one does.

And here the reason why I need to see him live at least once in my life, and preferably in a small club or something similar.


Jan. 8th, 2010 03:58 pm
I came across this looong text. Once more, you'll have to make do with my limited translation abilities...

Should it be allowed that we be governed by nothing but churls and brutes? )

Except for the old-fadshioned language which I didn't want to change too much, and the clear division between the estates and the sexes, this is a surprisingly modern text.
Anybody want to guess who wrote it?

me again...

Jan. 7th, 2010 11:55 pm
From pokeystar:

If you respond to this, I will:

* 1. Tell you why I befriended you.

* 2. Associate you with something - fandom, a song, a color, a photo, etc.

* 3. Tell you something I like about you.

* 4. Tell you a memory I have of you.

* 5. Ask something I've always wanted to know about you.

* 6. Tell you my favorite user pic of yours. (after some searching on my part)

In return, you must post this in your blog.
In 2008 (I did recounting), I read almost 190 books.
Let's see what I did in 2009.

As last year, the ones marked with an * are re-reads.

fiction )

non-fiction )

All in all, that's 215 books, but less than 50 were non-fiction. And there are still a number of books that really are a waste of time to read, and some of the non-fiction was very simple self-help stuff that doesn't really count. I did improve my reading matter, but there is still room to improve some more.
Only 22 re-reads, however, that is good.
As I posted weeks ago, we have had winter in Germany. Complete with snow and cold weather, go figure.

Back at my parents', we had almost half a metre of snow, which totally threw off any attempt to clean the roads. There also was no salt. Which means that the roads are in a lovely state.
On the 31st, Mum and I went to a concert in town (the organ players of two churches got together for an "organ duell", playing organ and cembalo duets. It was great.) and on our way back discovered that if we had parked where we usually do, which we didn't because I suggested otherwise (go me!), we would have been blocked from leaving by a broken water pipe. And it must have been a big one, because there was looooootts of water. On the last day of the year. In the middle fo the town. With temperatures of about -12°C.
While my parents were in Munich earlier this week, I took care of the dog and one day took her for a walk on a path where literally nobody had walked before me since it started snowing. I sank in up to my knees. The dog didn't mind so much, but I had a cold and fever to begin with, and stomping through deep snow for an hour didn't improve the matter.
Driving home today, I discovered that northern Bavaria had less snow and milder weather. That is not how it's supposed to be.

Not only the towns weren't prepared for winter. The German train service was extremely unhappy about the fact that it's cold in winter, too. Many trains, it turned out, were not fit to be moved in what the Deutsche Bahn calls "Siberian conditions" (making my Dad, who's been to Siberia, fall off his chair laughing). Condensed water killed the electricity. Technology is something wonderful, as anybody on a train through the channel tunnel would undoubtedly agree...

And another funny thing! Do you remember Y2K? The end of the world as we know it to come with the change from 1999 to 2000? Remember it didn't actually happen?
Well, lots of people apparently fell victim to a delayed Y2K problem. The chips of some credit and cash cards can't cope with 2010. And don't work. Meaning people can't get money from some ATMs, and can't pay with any kind of plastic. Meaning that shops are planning to sue banks, because they say people don't buy stuff they would want to buy because they're worried they won't be able to pay. Personally, I went to three shops today paying with my cash card and had no problem whatsoever. But it's amusing nonetheless.

Obviously, I'm easily amused.

I went to IKEA today and bought some pictures to hang on the landing right next to my apartment door, and also some boxes because you can never have too many boxes.
And I'm going to update my "books read" list to contain everything I read last year.
This year, I believe I'm up to five books or so. Not too bad.
One day around Christmas, I was in the kitchen with my brother and he asked me to give him a spoon, which I did.
Now, my brother likes to start on philosophical discussions with the least bit of encouragement, and this was one.

How did I know what he meant when he said spoon? How do I know what a spoon is, despite the fact that some are small and some are large, they are made of wood or plastic, steel or silver, with simple or decorated handles. What makes a spoon a spoon, and how do I recognise the spoonishness they all have in common?

Together with some other thoughts I had while reading a book on human dignity - what is it, what is it worth, who has it and how do you define it - and an anthology of texts trying to explain basic ideas of protestant Christianity, the problem of the spoonishness of spoons brought me to the problem of the humanness of humans. I don't want to say humanity, the word is used for other things too much.

What makes a human a human. We can't define it by the way we look. There are people who don't have two arms and legs, five fingers on each hand, five toes on each foot, who don't have a nose and two eyes and two ears. There are people whose genes aren't the same as those of the majority.
Yet would a person with three instead of two chromosomes 21 not still be a human? Would a child born without arms not still be a human child, and a mute man or a blind woman still be humans?

We can't define the humanness within us as how we use our brains, because then what would a mentally disabled person be, or somebody who's in a coma?

Somehow, we share a general, silent agreement that all these people are still people, that they have something in common with us that is not shared by even the primates, who are so close to us in their behaviour, or the pigs, with which we share so much of our genetic make-up.

Not even the Nazis, who differentiated between life worth existing and life that had to be destroyed, expressed the opinion that disabled people were not human. In their ideology, a disabled person was still a person, though a person with no right to live.

Then what is it that makes us human? What is that thing that makes us different from every other being on this planet?

And even worse: When does this humanness appear, and when does it vanish?
Is it a human, that small bunch of cells in a woman's uterus?
Is it a human, that lifeless shell of a coma patient, only kept alive by machines?

How do we, the people who aren't biologists or theologists or philosophs, explain what we are? Not with a definition that applies to most of us, but with one that applies to all?

Then there is the term of human dignity. In the German constitution, the very first paragraph states that human dignity is inviolable. (Interestingly, if you look up the line in the English Wikipedia article on dignity, it is translated as Human dignity shall be inviolable., which is the translation officially used by the German government in English language publications. However, in German it says "Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar - is inviolable, not shall be. To me, that is a more binding rule than saying that something "shall be".)
You'd think, therefore, that there would be a pretty clear general - or at least German - agreement on what this thing called human dignity is.
There isn't.
There are definitions that fall back on the human rights, but would a person lose his dignity when his human rights are violated? (And that doesn't even discuss the question of who has human rights...)
Christianity says human dignity is something we have because we were created in His image. Image, in this case, would be a rather loose term, considering the variety of humans we all know, but at least this would mean that because dignity is something that wasn't given to us at some point in our lives by somebody human, it is not something that can be taken away from us by anybody around us.

It would also mean that at every point in our lives, we are endowed with that dignity.
But if we don't know when we start and stop being human, because we don't really know what makes us human, how do we know when this dignity starts and stops being invested in us?

Many laws in many countries, and even more many of the problems we face with new technologies and new situations, would require if not knowledge, then at least agreement on the answers to these questions.
In the "Protestation" in Speyer in 1529 (hence "protestants"), the Protestant estates and towns declared "In things concerning God's glory and the souls' beatitude, everyone has to stand before God for himself and has to give account, so that nobody can excuse himself in this with the acts or decisions of a minority or majority." (The translation is mine, sorry about that.)
For me, that means that beside the law's definition, I need to come to an agreement with myself. Is it killing of a human being and violating his dignity when an abortion takes place, or the artificial respiration of a coma patient is switched off?
How do I define the terms human and human dignity? What does it mean for me, and what does that in turn mean for my life?

And, excuse my language, I think it's bloody damn difficult.
I can think of a number of reasons when I would consider abortion an option. I don't think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. However, I also believe that even an embryo, even a being in the first moments after fertilization, is human. And that means that while I think a mother can have good reasons to abort (illness of the mother or the child, rape, whatnot), I also think that the person making the decision should understand what she is deciding.
Similarly, if I was lying in hospital with lots of brain damage and little likelihood of ever even waking up again, I would prefer for the doctors to let me die. But it means the doctors - or my family through making the decision - have to kill a human being.

Sometimes, I wish I wouldn't think quite so much about things for which there are no simple answers.
I just sent one of those coupons for paid accounts and LJ informed me it was "sended"


Is that even a word?

At some point I will write at length about my horrible trip home yesterday (with -13°C and an average speed of 20 kmh for about 100 kilometres) bus right now we're expecting Dad's annoying business "friends" for coffee.
Which meant that while Mum was freezing outside training other people's dogs, I was cleaning house. Good thing I got home yesterday...
According to the choir's website, they're performing not even all of the first part of the Messiah, but only from No 12 on. For one thing, that's not all that much to do for the choir (thanks to Wikipedia for not only listing the pieces but also having recordings of them). For another, that's no more difficult than Bach.

Big deal!

So if Mum manages to get me the music, and I get my voice to agree that yes, I actually am a soprano even though I've sung nothing much lately, and the choir director agrees, I am definitely going to sing.

(Three ifs for one definitely - oh well...)



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