Habsolutly Hamazin Dhance!

Usually, I am indifferent to looking at dancing and hate doing it. but this video captivated me completely. It is a rare case of me being amazed.

I like the original song a lot but I did not listen to it for a long time. Thus I do not know why the algorithm recommended it today, but it done did do good this time. I think the performance is simply stunning in every aspect, starting with the choice of venue, the lighting, the color scheme of the costumes, the choreography, and simply everything. It must have been a lot of work and rehearsing, but the result is simply amazing. And it really is difficult to impress me with a dance routine enough to want to share it.

When Gun Regulations Fail

I have long held that our weapon laws are sensible and functional – not too strict, not too loose, and I still think they are more on the reasonable side than not. But they do sometimes fail, as they did just now.

Czechia had yesterday the worst mass shooting in our history. Mass shootings do occur here, unfortunately, every once in a while. This one was perpetrated by a person who held multiple firearms, legally, because he had no criminal history or mental health diagnosis. His motives are so far unknown, he did not appear to be targeting any specific demographic – his goal was apparently just to cause as much pain as he could.

This does not happen here even remotely as often as in the USA, but even once would be too many. And I am afraid that this incident will be used to argue for further loosening of our already loose gun laws by idiots who think adding more guns to the situation would somehow prevent it, instead of multiplying it.

Cultural differences: Immigrants in Germany

This is a bit of a light hearted post, but with an interesting observation. I quite enjoy watching videos of people who move to Germany. Their surprise at things taken for granted gives me food for thought as well as amusement. Some themes seem to be constant: Germans walk. For fun. No matter whether the immigrant is from the US or Vietnam, they are both fascinated and appalled by the German passion for going for walks.

Or the utter confusion of rental flats not having a kitchen. The answer to that is: Germans don’t move and love their kitchens. We plan them more carefully than the bedroom. And we really don’t like moving. There’s a saying that goes “moving twice is like burning down once”, so once we moved in, we try not to move out again. The idea of “buying a starter home” is as alien as the idea of buying an AR 15 at Walmart. So unless you’re moving into a student flat or a shared apartment, bring your own kitchen.

These matters are constants, but of course, other things will seem more or less strange, depending on your country of origin. But then there’s a noticeable difference not in between people from different countries, but of US Americans of different genders. American women will often be full of praise: they can easily and cheaply get fresh produce! Childcare is only 150 bucks a month! Oh, and did I mention healthcare? US American men on the other hand complain about not being allowed to kill endangered species and pour oil down the drain. It’s tyranny, I tell you!*


  • Yes, you need a fishing license. Yes, you have to pass a test, showing that you know the fish, if and when you’re allowed to catch them, minimum size and what bait is ok. Oh, and that you can kill a fish quickly. No “I’ve been fishing in the USA since I was 5” does not count. No, you are not allowed to wash your car at home. Washing it with soap will introduce pollutants into the wastewater. You have to go to a carwash where the wastewater will be filtered to remove motor oil and other pollutants.

Children, Accessibility, and being an entitled ass

This post was brought to you by my brother in law, so it might get ranty.

Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely support people being child free. Honestly, I don’t know anybody working in education and with families who isn’t a strong supporter of contraception, family planning and thinking long and hard about whether being a parent is something that you should do.

I’m also the first to admit that children are not smallish adults, but have certain characteristics beyond age and height that make them different from adults. It’s something that makes people who like working with children enjoy their company, it is something that makes parenting an amazing journey, and it’s something that makes others not enjoy either of these things.

Nevertheless, children are people, they are part of society, they should have their needs met and accommodated. There are very few spaces where children don’t belong, and those are for their own protection, say a Shisha bar. For the rest of spaces: think about how this space can be made child friendly. Many restaurants already do this: they have a children’s menu, they have play corners (one of our favourite Asian buffet places has a whole room), and if you think about it, it’s a smart move, because children will only grow up to value a sit down meal in a nice restaurant if they learn how to behave there while young.

But there’s another level of accessibility and that is for parents. We’ve talked about this before: If you organise something, say a sceptics’ conference or something like that, think about how you can provide childcare. Because if not, overwhelmingly women will be unable to attend your event. I mean, you can go full Sam Harris and blame your sciency manly vibes that scare off fragile little damsels, or you can ask yourselves: what can we do to make sure parents can attend?

Which gets me to a different level, which is private life. And of course you get to set all sorts of boundaries  here, but you also have to live with the consequences. There’s a plethora of “Am I The Asshole” posts on Reddit where somebody decides to have a child free wedding and is then super offended when the parents in their lives decline, especially when it’s their siblings. Sorry, but weddings are expensive, and getting childcare on top of it costs a lot of money, the people who are usually watching your children are probably at the wedding as well (Hey mum, could you watch our kids while we go to your daughter’s wedding?), not to mention trusting some babysitter enough to leave them for several days. And, yes, let’s face it, parents do take this shit personal. Their children are pretty important people in their lives and if you frame their existence as a complete nuisance and burden to everyone who is even just in the same room, they might decide that your friendship isn’t worth it.

Which gets me to my brother in law. He is and has always been super entitled. He’s 11 years younger than my husband and didn’t grow up so much with a sibling than with a third overindulgent parent and he’s used to the whole family catering to him. The last two times he moved, my husband of course helped him, which meant driving a few hundred kilometres each time. I can’t remember even being reimbursed for the fuel, and I especially can’t remember him lifting a single finger when we moved. Because those are services he thinks his family has to provide.

Now he has invited us to his birthday. Come on, Giliell, you say. You said he was super entitled, but now he’s inviting you, that’s nice! Only… Well, remember the couple of hundred kilometres? Going there means spending the night. Spending the night means getting hotel rooms. For the great honour of being invited to his birthday he already expects us to spend a few hundred €. He lives in the Black Forest. Hotels ain’t cheap there. And well, we would have coughed that up, if not for the original subject of this post. We’re still in a raging global pandemic, the little one isn’t vaccinated yet, and sleeping in a hotel with her is totally out of the question for us. So we asked him, could the children stay with him for the night? I mean, his flat is bigger than our house, he has a guest room where his parents are staying, and a living room, and a studio, and a fucking library, but he doesn’t have space for his nieces. He really doesn’t want them to be in his space, because you never know. It’s not like we asked them to watch two toddlers who would paint the walls with his acrylics, or tear the pages from his books. They’re two well behaved teens who basically just want the Wifi password and food. Also his parents, who are watching the kids regularly, are also there. But nooooo, he’s afraid for his precious belongings. Which is totally reasonable in his eyes. Yet our fear for our kid is totally irrational, you know? Guess who’s currently being made out to be unreasonable…

Woman Gamers on Youtube – Chess Player – Anna Rudolf

Anna Rudolf has a few tales to tell about sexism in Chess, although she does not talk explicitly about sexism. However, I do think that her false accusation of cheating has a lot to do with some men’s fragile egos being hurt by losing to a woman.

The tale has a happy-ish ending in the sense that she was vindicated and her accusers were reprimanded for wantonly accusing her sans evidence. However, I do wonder if she would have won the tournament and the GM title if she were not so emotionally distraught in that last game.

In Which Yours Truly Almost got Caught Up in the Bystander Effect

The Bystander Effect is an interesting phenomenon, in which people become less likely to do the right thing if there are more people present*. In short, everybody thinks that if there was something that should be done, somebody else would already have done it, resulting in nobody doing anything. This is why in an emergency you never say “somebody should call the emergency hotline”, but “You there in the red jacket, call the emergency hotline”.

Today we went for our usual walk at our usual lake. The weather was lovely. Temperatures had risen to 4-5° above zero, sun was shining, no wind.

©Giliell, all rights reserved           The picture is from January, I didn’t take the camera today

Before the current cold spell (and we got off lucky here with -10° C at the lowest) we had lots of warm (+10°C) rain, so when I went to the lake on Wednesday it was still completely open. It froze over since, but of course not completely, and I will not speculate on the thickness of the ice. But when we arrived there, there were people on the ice. Mostly young men (who else…) but a few people with small children as well. Everybody around exclaimed “are they mad???”, but nobody did anything. And… neither did I at first. Because there are so many emotions at once. Disbelief, worry, anger (how stupid can you be, how dare you take the children), but also fear about what will happen if I do something (Including the fear of being accused of wasting emergency service time) and of course the idea that you don’t tattle to the cops. Mr was exactly the same. When I said “I should call the emergency hotline” he was “yes, you should”. Not calling it himself.

Well, I did. It took some time until I got to the person who was responsible, who apparently hadn’t left his office in a while, because he asked me “how many people were there” and I said “about 10” and he said “not at the lake, but on the ice” as if you could find a nice quiet place right now with only 10 people in sight. We walked away after we informed the emergency hotline, because there was nothing left to do. If they’d fallen in, we couldn’t have done anything, so we went to the woods where there are less people.

At least when we returned, the Office of Public Order was there and yelled at people who still thought it was funny to step on the ice but on the other side of the lake. Dudes, when 100 people around say that you’re a fucking idiot, you’re probably not some edgy rebel fighting against the forces of evil. Chances are that you’re just a fucking idiot. Mr said I’d probably saved a life today, but I’m pretty sure the person whose life I possibly saved is pretty angry with the asshole who called the cops. As they say, there’s no glory in prevention.


*Though, as numbers increase so does the likelihood of somebody finally doing something


The Art of …

… modern American Artist, Frank Morrison

Morrison began his career as a graffiti artist but has become known for his work portraying black culture. According to the artist’s web site,

Morrison strives to capture people as they are, translating emotions through his paintings and leaving a memoir of our life and times today. His work depicts African-American livelihood in a way that is both familiar and comforting to those who often feel histories have been forgotten and culture has been usurped.
Citing both Ernie Barnes and Annie Lee as forebearers of this tradition, Morrison remarks on his practice, “My work dignifies the evolllution of everyday, underrepresented people and places within the urban landscape. I seek to both highlight and preserve the soul of the city through the lens of hip-hop culture and  urban iconography. I want people to experience the visual rhythms that choreograph life for the average, everyday person.”

Picture That, by Frank Morrison. Image from Afropunk

“What!” by Frank Morrison. Image from Afropunk

The Art of …

… posters, by Ridwan Adhami, Shephard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, Ernesto Yerena, Delphine Diallo, Ayse Gursoz, and Arlene Mejorado.

They were  commissioned by The Amplifier Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises the voices of grassroots movements through art and community engagement.

Today seems like a good day to wave hi to the U.S.A. and show off some of her best modern artists.


Poster series We the People by various artists. Image from NBC, courtesy of The Amplifier Foundation

“American identity starts with Native resistance. In this artwork, Ernesto Yerena honors Helen Red Feather of the Lakota tribe during her bravery and resilience at the Standing Rock reservation in 2016. She was originally photographed by Ayşe Gürsöz while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.” Words and image from The Amplifier Foundation.

Ridwan Adhami decided to photograph a Muslim woman wearing an American flag as a hijab for the five-year anniversary of 9/11. They stood at the site of the World Trade Center, capturing the iconic image, without knowing just how far it would eventually go…More than a decade later, Adhami and Shepard Fairey reincarnated the image for Amplifier’s We the People campaign. As the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban continues to wage a war on Islamic faith, the artwork’s message will keep ringing loud and clear. There is no room for fear, only freedom.” Words and Image from The Amplifier Foundation.

“This piece from artist Jessica Sabogal focuses on the love, affection, and inspiration that will continue to persevere through the darkness.”Words and image from The Amplifier Foundation.

“At a time of so much discrimination and injustice, this photograph taken by French and Senegalese artist Delphine Diallo and converted into an illustration by Shepard Fairey reminds us of the power of youth and the world we’re building around them.” Words and image from The Amplifier Foundation

“…this photograph taken by Arlene Mejorado and illustrated by Shepard Fairey is a crucial part of the We the People campaign. Mejorado, a photographer and documentary-maker from California, describes herself as “the daughter of migrants, brown, queer, multi-ethnic, and aspirant of beauty and truth.” The image depicts Xicana activist Maribel Valdez Gonzalez, described by the artist as “an incredible queer, first gen, muxerista, educator who constantly pushes my politics.” The final artwork was carried by thousands at the Women’s March for the 2017 inauguration.” Words and image from The Amplifier Foundation

If You Need a Gun, You Are Not Free

I peeked into the Trumpverse a bit and what I saw was unsurprising, but it surprised me anyway. I did not go to Breitbart or some similar far-right downright fascist propaganda sites. I just went to a YouTube channel that I had a reason to believe will have a high percentage of Trumpists in its following and I looked at comments under the only one video about recent politics the channel is hosting. I did not linger for too long, I did not even watch the whole video, just a few minutes and a few comments sufficed. This tiny window into the mind of a regular trumpist was informative, although I do not know what can be done with that information if anything.

From where I stand, Trumpism is just a new flavor of fascism. It is about the government controlling people, dictating what they can and cannot do with their private lives, in their private homes, sometimes even with their own bodies.

From where at least some Trumpists stay, the opposite is superficially true. They think that Biden is a socialist and that he is going to try and control them and take their personal freedoms. Their position with regard to him is the same as the position of leftists is in regard to Trump. And they despair and fear for their future after Biden’s win just as leftists despaired and feared for their future four years ago.

The problem seems not to be whether one values freedom, but what one considers to be freedom. Due to the main focus of the site I was visiting, there was a strong bias towards one uniquely American thing – guns, guns, guns. They see the right to own guns as the most important freedom one of them all, and they think that by having guns they are safeguarding all their other freedoms against a potential governmental overreach.

Which is, of course, bullshit. In modern times any uprising in which the government’s armed forces do not join in with the people is doomed to fail. Rifles, handguns, and knives are no match for tanks, rockets, and drones. But they really, really believe their fantasy that the right to have guns keeps them free and that is why they are/were voting for Trump and Republicans. They fear Biden is going to confiscate their guns and thus, by proxy, take away all their freedoms.

I do not believe these people can be reasoned with, but it seems to me they are overlooking one important aspect. If they need a gun to feel safe from an imminent governmental overreach, then they already are not free. Not only are they shackled by an unreasonable fear of something they would be powerless to oppose if it happened anyway, but they also keep the whole society in shackles of another fear – of random mass shootings, of armed militias going berserk, of random gun accidents. And if their fear of governmental overreach necessitating armed opposition were justified, then the government is already completely dysfunctional.

I lived my whole life in a society without guns, and a third of that life in a totalitarian regime. Fear of random stranger shooting up a school or a workplace never was on my radar, indeed I did not even know such things exist on the scale they do in the USA well into my thirties. And when the totalitarian regime fell, it was not because people took arms and stormed the whatever, it fell because the armed forces refused to shoot unarmed citizens and/or the top brass were hesitant to give such orders (personal anecdotes and historian descriptions vary). Having more guns in that situation would not make a difference except turning the Velvet Revolution into a Scarlet Revolution. I am not saying that armed revolutions are not sometimes necessary, or that they neer worked, but I am saying they do not work as these people imagine them.

But as far as I could see, the gut-wrenching fear and despair at Biden win were genuine. They really think that socialism means the state is going to get them, shackle them, and ruin their country. They really, honestly believe that Republicans and Trump were and are doing a good job, for them personally and for the American people as a whole.

Guns and abortins, these two issues are the only ones that matter to them. And only Republicans give them what they want.

And I am at a loss how to mend divides soo deeply entrenched in society. How do you snap someone out of a whole life of propaganda?