Philosophy, Twitter and a happy 2016

First and foremost, those who are expecting a recipe (makes me laugh just writing it). Sorry, the kitchen was taken over by Milady during the end of year celebrations. And I won’t publish a recipe that I haven’t cooked myself. For those who are waiting a bit of patience please I will take back my kitchen duties in 2016.

Yesterday morning I had a short conversation with one of my Followers on Twitter. Something about him being born a Muslim. I was replying he was born a human being and later on became a Muslim. After some friendly exchanges. We stopped our philosophical conversation with something about the egg and the bird. And who was first. The last one was by me claiming that in the Middle Ages we would both have been burned on the stakes. For different reasons but burned both of us.

As he‘s a published author I had the idea to connect with him on Goodreads too. As I’ve never befriended someone before on Goodreads it was quite an adventure. Starting with: No idea how to, no idea if he’s even on Goodreads. Typed his name in the search box. Wrong at first. After the necessary correction, I finally found him and only had to figure out how to send a friend request. During that research, I read some of the ratings for one of his books. Wasn’t only by pure curiosity I have to write ‘Critics’ for my 50 classics. So, we could file that under research. One of the ratings caught my eye. Someone gave a relatively low rating for the book (2 out of 5 stars). The interesting thing was the reason why. She gave only 2 stars because the book didn’t give her the answer she was looking for. It didn’t give her the answer to her question:

‘What is the difference between different streams of Buddhism ?’

The book’s title is ‘The complete Idiot’s Guide to World Religions’. For me, the problem of this lady is quite a simple one. She was just researching in the wrong book. If you are rating a book rate the book that the author has written and not the book that you wanted him to have written.

From a research point of view, this was quite a futile endeavor for me. But at least, I’m now friends with @LiteraryStriver on Goodreads. Yes, he’s got a real name too. Yusuf Toropov.

Which brings me to my final point for today.

My year on Twitter. Don’t worry, No statistics. What I can say is: I’ve found (or was found by) some very nice people. Looks like all of them are either author, blogger (or both) people who love to write and/or read. Animal lovers, too

No need to make a list of these people. I hope they know who I’m talking about. You make Twitter a pleasure and talking to you makes being unproductive fun. Thank you very much for that.

See you next year.

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Cheers and a happy 2016

Christmas ? Am I too grumpy for that ?

It’s this time of the year again.

Or as I prefer to call it December.

The Christmas season is every year more and more annoying. Maybe it’s just me getting grumpier and grumpier the older I get.

I have the feeling the stuff is every year a bit earlier in the supermarkets. In Belgium the school year starts in September. Which means from August on you can find the stuff that the kids may need for the new year of school. This lasts till mid-September and latest beginning October the Christmas stuff appears. Starting with cakes and cookies, then the decorations and then the offers. All the stuff that you could give as a present to someone that you might (better might not) like.

And it’s really for everything. Mobile phone Christmas offers. (49€ for a Smart phone, if you sign a contract for 20 to 30 Euro a month). With some basic knowledge of calculating you should see the ‘offer’.

What has all this stuff to do with Christmas ?

Christmas is basically a Christian festivity. Celebrating the birth of Christ. And for this reason the people are giving presents to their loved ones.

When I was a kid (second third of the last century) it was a bit less materialistic. There was the 6.December. A bit of chocolate, some nuts and an orange or two. Today kids get already for this pre feast more than we were getting for Christmas. At Christmas the kids in my family were getting a toy or two and maybe a record and a book. That was all.

And we were happy with it. Try that with kids of today.

Nowadays the love is measured in the monetary value of your presents. Ten year old will get the latest Iphone. Do they need it, hell no. If they don’t get it. All hell will break loose cause all their friends have one. Books not necessary, kids don’t read any more. Try some chocolates, nuts and oranges and they will hate you.

Listening to the ads on the radio. You know where they get the idea from. It’s consume, consume and consume a bit more.

Where’s the Christian point in that ?

Regarding the story mentioned in the bible about Mary and Joseph. They won’t be accepted in central Europe. As it was already said in Bavaria the boat is full.

Christian ?

Christmas has become a festivity for consumers and marketing.

It’s not something that should shock you if you hear that the day with the highest suicide rate is Christmas.

Will humanity one day change ?

I doubt

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and to those who aren’t.

It will go over like every year. And no this year I won’t watch ‘Gremlins’ the twenty-forth

Kitchen stays cold today

Milady took the decision to prepare something to eat today. As I’m not cooking there won’t be a recipe. Next one on Wednesday.

Milady will prepare “Croque Monsieur” this evening. With ham for her without for the vegetarian. I maybe allowed to prepare the vinaigrette for the side salad.

In case someone doesn’t know what Croque Monsieur are ?  Two Slices of toast either buttered or spread with mustard. In between one slice of ham and one slice of cheese. And then everything gets grilled. Typical French “Bistro food”.

bistro

On va s’amuser.

And this was the result and it was very good !

Croque monsieur salade

See you tomorrow for Ausone 6.th.

sleeping cat

Till then

On being German and why I’m not proud of it #history

Preliminary remark : I read a lot about blogging and how to attract people to read and follow your blog. One of the main points always is:

You should have a theme and stay with this theme. (Looks like this is a bit against my nature, never mind.) The purpose is that this way you should not loose readers.

At the moment I have two subscribers to my blog (Thank you very much, both of you !)

So If I jump from topic to topic I don’t risk loosing may readers. If you haven’t many you can’t lose many. (I hope my two stay !)

It might be necessary to start with a second remark before hitting the topic. Here we go.

I am nearly fifty years old. From a political point of view at least a bit left of the middle  and more important for today’s topic. I am German.

At the beginning of this week, while I was preparing breakfast for Milady (6:30 in the morning). I was listening to the news on the radio and heard the Prime minister of Israel ‘claim’. It wasn’t Hitler alone who was responsible for the Holocaust. That it was the idea of the Mufti of Jerusalem. I forgot this rubbish during a busy day.

In the evening I was too tired to read or doing something productive. So, I decided to relax I could look at some videos on Youtube. Without really thinking about it I searched for ‘Schindler’s list’. Having found it as a whole film, quite a surprise to be honest. I clicked on it and in the recommendations I found another film that I always wanted to see but never did.

‘The pianist’. Great something for a silent evening at home while Milady is attending her sewing class. Started the film and was kind of hooked.

I couldn’t finish the film. Milady came home earlier than usual and there were still some things to discuss. So I had to postpone the last 45 minutes of the film to the next morning.

As I woke up the next morning there was something running through my head. Not clear what it was. After breakfast and Milady’s departure to work I finished the film. It was quite impressive with a very good performance by Adrien Brody.

I had a little coffee break. And during this break I found out what was the puzzling thing in my head.

When I grew up there was a TV series about the same topic. A quick search at Youtube and I found the 1978 miniseries ‘Holocaust’.

Again I clicked on it. And yes, this was the series that started my interest in history in general and of this period in German history in particular.

Although there are points of critic to this series it has marked me.

Profoundly, I’m afraid.

25 years after the series was broadcast there are still a lot of things that I don’t get about my home country.

Let’s say I do get why and how the Nazis raised to power. I am able to explain myself that the Nazis had the idea of exterminating the Jews (and the sinti and others).

What I still don’t get is how they found so many willing to do the ‘dirty work.

How so many well-educated Germans committed atrocities that made (and still make) no sense at all to me ?

The leaders of the notorious ‘Einsatzgruppen’ were all very well-educated men (finished university studies,  a singer at an opera, etc.). Sure, there were sadistic criminals amongst those who committed these atrocities. But the majority of them were normal Germans. Well-educated, loving fathers and husband, just regular Germans. And these men committed atrocities that are not even easy to understand. Neither easy to explain.

Why ?

Twenty-five years after I’ve seen the series for the first time I cannot in the slightest way understand why and how they were able to do such things.

At the beginning of 2015 I watched ‘Im Labyrinth des Schweigens’. A German film about the people who made the inquiries to start the first ‘Auschwitzprozess in Frankfurt.

There were some explanations about why it took so long? Why it was (and still is) so complicated to bring the (now the last surviving) offenders to justice. A short time after the war it was politically impossible  to prosecute.

The new enemy, new threat was the Soviet Union. And Germany was necessary as an ally against the evil from the east. Germans wanted to be and have calm. They had lost the war (that they have started). Were much too busy coming back to wealth and power to take care of their ‘unfortunate’ history. A famous German saying at that time (and still today) is/was: “Man muss auch ‘mal einen Schlussstrich darunter ziehen. “ “Which translates loosely to: You should draw a line under it and go on.

There was no so-called ‘Aufarbeitung’. Those who survived either were back in their old positions. Or just wanted to forget what had happened, what they had done. They had to deal with those who fled from the east. Those who came back from PoW camps (the last from Russia in 1952). Nothing of that helped the Germans to deal with their past properly.

“Yes, there were bad things that happened during the war. Always the bombings, it wasn’t easy to rebuild after ’45.”

No one wanted to know what had happened, why it happened and who was responsible for it ? The standard answer was: “The Nazis did a lot of bad things. It was all done by the Nazis. We knew nothing about it.” Between 33 and ’45 Germans were either involved or looked away. And nothing changed in the ‘50s.

In 2014 Germany won the soccer world cup and I was frequently asked: “You must be proud, aren’t you ?” Why should I be proud ? I haven’t played and German I am by pure coincidence. So why should I be proud of it ?

And this is still the question. Proud of what ?

I can only be proud of something I’ve achieved myself. Proud of living in a country where they don’t speak my mother tongue. Proud that my non-wife still accepts me after fifteen years.

But proud of being German ?

I don’t get it. Humans and animals. Why doesn’t it work ?

It wasn’t that easy to come up with a post for my blog today. That’s the reason why I’m late.

First I thought I would further elaborate my reading and how I had the idea to jump in the pool of ‘creative writing’. (Don’t worry the post will come.)

But then I was, let’s say overwhelmed, by the things that happened on social media. To be more precise on Twitter.

It started with a post from a writer of ‘The Guardian’. Again someone was mixing up the unnecessary killing of an animal with meat eating. In the end the crap was only the post on Twitter. Headline style to attract readers. The article was a bit more detailed. It was about another incident in Denmark. The same zoo that killed a giraffe to feed their lions some months ago.

This time they killed a lion cub and ‘performed’ a public dissection. The biological director of the zoo claimed that the dissection was to show to the public that even if it’s dead it is still an animal. As Denmark has a rural past it is not really a problem for Danish people. In the end the guy from the zoo stated that the problem is that people are ready to buy a wrapped steak in the supermarket. Because they don’t see the steak as being from an animal.

OK for this argument. People are capable to switch this fact off their minds while buying a steak. (Like my non-wife!) You could thus say that the reason for the PUBLIC dissection is acceptable. The reason for the killing still isn’t. The cub was killed because it was a male one and they have too many males and tried in vain to place the cub in another zoo.

Is this an argument to kill a living, breathing being ?

Just because the reproduction program happened to produce a male ? Isn’t this just nature ? Only humanity is capable to produce overpopulation. Animals on their own don’t overpopulate. Neither predators nor their prey. Nature keeps a biological balance.

Isn’t this an argument to close zoos ? Or at least to re-evaluate their program of reproduction ?

And to not forget animals only kill for food not for pleasure or to balance their population. They don’t need to.

Which brings us to number two. A German hunter apparently paid 40.000£to kill an elephant. I’m quite sure everything that needs to be said was already said in the Cecil the lion case. Jimmy Kimmel’s intro to his late show sums it up quite nicely. But it still does not stop. Why do people have to kill an animal ? For their ego ? To meet their sadistic needs ? I would love if someone could explain this to me. I don’t get it.

Number three was a new post on a blog I’m subscribed to. (@vegan_artist) She was complaining about the crap that she on and on has to hear or read as a vegan. She placed the ten most often heard ‘arguments’ from meat eaters on her blog. More than the half of these so-called arguments is just crap, nothing but crap.

Again humanity behaving badly. What’s so complicated ? Just respect ALL living beings, try to do no harm and be kind to everyone, animals and yourself included. It is not that complicated. You don’t have to be perfect for others, just for yourself.

If we just TRY to harm no one, accept and respect others, their opinions, behaviours, different forms of living. This planet could be a much nicer place and maybe might have a future.

Will we one day be capable to respect and not judge others ?

NB:

Link to the article in ‘The Guardian’:http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/15/dissect-lion-odense-zoo-schoolchildren-denmark?CMP=twt_gu

The link to the bog post: https://vegananything.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/10-of-the-most-facepalm-things-non-vegans-say/

On labelling

In general there are two kinds of labels.

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The ones that you can find on everything you buy (electronics, chemicals, food et al.) And the ones we put on ourselves.

The first are necessary and as far as I know an obligation.

Those that we put on ourselves or society pins on us are the ones I’d like to “rant” about.

From our birth on we are labelled and judged by our gender, social background, preferences (sportive, musical, political, sexual), nationality, etc.

When we grow older we are so used to that we do involuntarily auto labelling.

Does this serve us and the society any good ? Do we as individuals really need that ? And if so for which purpose ?

I’m afraid the principal reason for this is that our educations main purpose is to transform us into tools for our economy. The main purpose is not simply ‘being’ but mere functioning. And thus we are educated to become “valuable” tools. By the time we’re’ adults we all have incorporated this kind of thinking. And we are on autopilot.

“If I will be this (whatever) I’ll have to behave like that”

“I have to name what I think, feel, do.”

My answer to these two has to be. No, neither of them. We are all individuals, human beings, more or less complex.

If we put a label on others we start to judge them. While judging we kind of open Pandora’s box. It’s inevitable to compare someone you are judging (Better than me? Worse?) With comparing comes competition. With competition comes the desire to win.

You don’t always have to win. Just being, doing what you are doing without harming someone else is enough.

If we are judging ourselves we are constantly in competition with ourselves, instead of just being.

Don’t get me wrong competition is not per se a bad thing. But we should never forget we don’t have to beat someone or something. Striving to be a better more humane more compassionate self can be a good thing.

If we only compete with ourselves striving to become a better self without forgetting to just be. Just accepting us as we are. Without trying to harm someone or something. Then there’s not something wrong with it.

Let others think of us what they want, we can’t change them. We can only accept them as they are. If we are capable of accepting us as we are we’ve made the first step towards accepting others as they are. And thus a first step to a better, friendly, compassionate, humane society.

And this should be our main goal.

Thanks for reading, as usual If you like it spread the word, comment, like, whatever