Now For Some Silly Inventions

Regular readers will know that I like to post videos about various different inventions, usually involving something that either reduces waste or tackles a particular environmental problem. My facebook feed seems to have cottoned on to this, and so I will now often find short videos about inventions as “suggested posts”, in addition to the ones that are posted be friends or pages I follow.

Of course, not all inventions are created equally, and so I wanted to post a couple that I feel may have missed the mark by just a tad. These are the two inventions that I have found most baffling when perusing my facebook feed.

The first one, in my opinion, falls straight into the category of #FirstWorldProblems. It popped up under the description: “Tag someone who hates water!”

 

Are we being serious right now? There are enough people in the developed world who “hate” water enough for such a cup to be invented? Clean water is pretty much the only thing in the world that you have to consume to survive, millions of people across the world still do not have access to it, and yet enough people have become so thoroughly addicted to sugar that they need to trick their brains into thinking that normal water has flavor in order to drink enough of it. People all the way from Flint to Somalia feel your plight, I’m sure.

Next up: funny colored masks to put over your nose and mouth to trick your brain into thinking that you’re breathing in flavored air.

While I find that invention to be superfluous, and perhaps a bit counterproductive in helping people kick a bad sugar addiction by normalizing “hating water”, the second invention I want to share with you is just plain silly. So silly, in fact, that I have serious doubts that such a product actually exists, and I suspect (or perhaps hope) that it is just a ploy to make the video go viral. Either way, it has popped up in my feed a good 4 times now, so let’s all have a laugh at it anyway.

 

Hey cat lovers! Have you ever really wanted to lick your cat clean?

Ehm no. No I have not. Then again, I’m not really a cat lover. I don’t hate them or anything, I just don’t have any interest in owning one. Still, I think that the moment you feel the urge to purchase a giant rubber tongue and follow your cat around the house in an attempt to lick its head, maybe you’ve gone a little over the top. Perhaps start with asking yourself who owns who in this relationship.

So, those are my two silly inventions for today! Do you guys have any other contenders for silliest invention?

Headphones While I Work

As the work piles up higher and higher, I have to say I am saved by my headphones. How could I possibly make it through a 14 hour work day without music and audiobooks to keep me company?

One video I want to share with you is one I have been listening to a lot lately. I first discovered it on We Hunted the Mammoth, and I was properly amazed at the time.

What happens when you slow down Dolly Parton’s Jolene to 33rpm?

Amazeballs, that’s what happens.

 

If you don’t know who Dolly Parton is and/or have never heard the song, you have to hear the original first to fully appreciate how very cool that is.

 

 

There is a genius to a song that can be messed with and still sound awesome, just in a different way. I’ve been mumbling this song under my breath all day, it’s only a matter of time until someone asks me who Jolene is and why I keep saying her name.

How Far We’ve Come

A couple of days ago, there was a terrorist attack in Israel, during which a man drove a truck straight through a group of Israeli soldiers waiting to get on a bus, killing four and injuring over a dozen more. In the wake of this tragedy Germany made a gesture of solidarity towards Israel, resulting in one of the most powerful images I have seen in a while has cropped up on the internet.

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The top panel is the Bradenburg Gate in Berlin 80 years ago. The bottom panel is the Bradenburg Gate yesterday.

80 years. Not thousands, not hundreds, but a meager 80 years have passed between those two pictures. It puts into perspective how far Germany has come, and how much change a single person can witness in their lifetime.

This is not about agreeing or disagreeing with Israel’s policy with regards to Palestine. Germany itself often disagrees with the far-right position of the current Israeli Government, as do I for that matter. But when innocent people are mowed down by either terrorism or state violence, we can stand in solidarity with the murdered and their families. We can feel for them, regardless of which side they were on, or what their personal political opinions were.

That picture gives me hope and reminds me that, even in the midst of terrible things to which you cannot see a way out, dramatic change is possible, it has happened, and I can believe it will happen again.

Check Your Privilege Part III: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

Every so often, I find myself in conversations with people who, while they usually mean well, are completely forgetting the bubble they live in. I have posted before about the privilege of dumping on GMOs, and of how neurotypical people who can simply take a stroll through nature when they’re feeling blue have no right to poo-poo the modern medicine that others need to function.

This time, I want to talk about another conversation I recently had, in which the person thought they were simply being pragmatic in their views of overpopulation.

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Where Am I?

Oh dear. I have been away for a while haven’t I? Technically, my last post was last year, and that is entirely my fault.

These past few days have been a whirlwind. I had a bunch of documents to sort out in Italy, and then I flew back to Germany on the 29th. That was just enough time to find out that there was a mass backing out of my New Years party, so spur of the moment found my boyfriend and I driving out to a massive Syrian New Years party instead. Two days later, I was up at 3am to drive down to Frankfurt for an embassy visit, and by lunch time I was back at work, discovering that the Xmas holidays are in fact far too short and I am massively behind on my work, including a review I need to finish, and that I also have to prepare for a workshop I need to teach at the end of the month in Bordeaux. I celebrated the 6th of January at home with my boyfriend, and am preparing for his birthday coming up very soon as well. Not to mention an extemporaneous 200km round-trip to pick up his new drivers license, online struggles with even more paperwork, and an ongoing battle with my phone.

So, um, Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to a 2017 that I hope will shape up to be a better year than the previous one, and a valiant effort at getting back to regular posting. After a proper sleep, I think I’ll have my head on straight again and be able to get back to writing about all the things I wanted to write about during this time.

Here’s hoping.

Cultural Differences: Fatta la Regola, Trovato L’Inganno

I have talked about the cultural differences regarding following rules many times on this blog, as it is one of the most famous cultural stereotypes that Italy has. I talked about things like jaywalking, being flexible, speed limits, and telling on your peers. Today’s post is somewhat in the same vein, and is a perfect example of an old Italian adage used to describe Italy’s most famous cultural characteristic:

Fatta la regola, trovato l’inganno

Which means: The rule is made, the way around it is found.

This loose relationship with the rules is considered by many to be both Italy’s downfall and its genius. It is at the heart of why a country with so much tourism and such a large economy could get so complicated and pear-shaped. This post is not going to be about big ideas as to how to fix a broken country, but rather is it a small, simple and elegant example of how true that adage is when describing the Italian culture.

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Home Sweet Rome

Yesterday, I anxiously took a flight to come back to Rome for Xmas. I’m only staying one week, I’ll be back before New Years, and yet I had never wanted to go home less than I did this time around. I’m so busy, I said. I’ll have to work from home, I said. It’s just too stressful, I said.

And then I stepped off the plane into a balmy 18°C. One look at the cobble-stoned streets of my neighborhood and I sighed. There’s nothing for it, this place will always be home for me.

Sure, I have to work and squeeze an enormous number of things to do in the short time that I am here. But I can also take small breaks, amble around the streets of my childhood for a bit of shopping, buying clothes that are made in Italy sold in boutiques that are owned by Romans who are stubbornly and valiantly hanging on to their stores in a center which is being steadily overrun by massive chains and mafia run tourist trap restaurants. It is amazing how effortlessly I hit my 10,000 step fitbit goal, which I struggle with so much in Germany even when I bike my 10km to and from work.

Coming back is always stressful and wonderful and nostalgic and never enough time for me to get sick of it and ever want to leave. I think it will always be my home, no matter where I end up settling in life. And that thought always makes me so sad, so I’ll leave it at that.

When Is It Going To End

The lighthearted tone I was trying to adopt here has fallen marvelously flat in light of recent events.

Last night, in Berlin, someone drove a truck at speed through a Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring 48. This is horribly reminiscent of the attack in France on Bastille Day, and I think it’s most likely that the culprit in this case was inspired by that horrible act of violence. My best friend was there at the time, and I was so glad to hear she was OK, while at the same time I am devastated for those who were killed.

At the moment, an investigation needs to take place to see if this was a planned terrorist attack, a crazy person taking it upon himself to do something horrific in the name of Isis, or someone with a different political motivation or purpose. This time, the culprit seems to have been apprehended alive, so we will probably find out in the next few days.

Given that the Russian ambassador to Turkey was also murdered in retaliation for Russian’s involvement in Syria on the same night, we can say that the escalation is here. It’s arrived. And I have no idea how we’re going to fix it. I can honestly say that I cannot imagine where, when and how this is going to end.


 

Edited to add: Same day, in Zurich, someone burst into an Islamic Center for worship and shot three people. Monday 20th of December 2016 found itself to be a focal point of deranged killers in Europe. As I said, the escalation is here. Please, enough.

Sometimes, You Just Need A Laugh

Can I lighten up the mood here for just one moment?

It has recently come to my attention that there is a comedian out there, called James Veitch, who has taken it upon himself to do what so many of us have always wanted to do and respond to scam emails, taking the conversation to hilarious places.

I have been laughing out loud at my computer for the last 10 minutes. I really needed that, and so now I’m sharing the love.

 

Interestingly, the email exchange in the video is completely different from the one that is repeated in the text below video where I found it posted, which is no less hilarious.

Need a good 10 minute chuckle? Watch the video, and/or read the post. He is not cruel to the scammers, he just wastes their time in a most ridiculous fashion.

If anything, I think the exchange in the post is even funnier than the one in the video, but that might be because I read it first and then watched the video afterwards. What about you? Which did you see/read first, and which one did you find the most funny?

Of course I had to turn this into a mini informal experiment didn’t I…