It’s time to get stuff off my chest and just complain out loud, which is what I hear so many people around me do all the time.
As the sun heads towards its zenith, summer up here in the northland comes in fits and spurts (30°C yesterday, 15°C today). In Hamburg we hardly ever get a steady spell of warm or hot weather. It’s a roller coaster ride, up into the near 30s and then down into the near 10s. Unfortunately for me, I grew up in Los Angeles where you were certain that when the sun was shining (almost always) that it was going to be a warm if not really hot day. Moving to Kenya and India didn’t change that expectation, so it’s burned deep into my psyche. Now of course each time I see the sun shine outside my window I think it’s going to be a pleasantly warm day. Not true in the northland. The sun can shine and it can be cold outside in June. It’s annoying and the cause of renewed disappointment, despite the fact that I have lived here longer than I lived anywhere else.
The obvious next choice, because I’m definitely not German. I live among them and I can understand them and I really like the social system they have built here with all the nets to catch people when they fall from grace with the capitalist system. But I’m getting sick and tired of speaking the language. Each day I think in English, read English, speak English whenever I can and watch films in English, not to mention my daily baseball condensed game recap of Dodger games on MLB. Then at some point during the day I’m forced to speak German. It’s OK for taking care of transactional stuff, but as soon as I’m in the large family dinner situation, I just can’t interact with the conversation going on at the table between the 8 to 10 people gathered around for the meal. I’m not witty in German because I can’t get the retort out quickly enough. It comes to me 10 or 15 seconds too late. By the time I have it prepared, the conversation has moved along and I’m forced to remain mute. Also, the tone of my voice is different. There are people who think that when I speak, I sound like I’m complaining or angry. Well, the truth is that I can’t use the same mellifluous vocal patterns I use when I’m getting paid to narrate an image film or a car commercial for the international market. And when I’m with my (few) native-speaker friends, I can jib and jab and make cultural references that we understand and laugh at without any hesitation. The little redemptive aspect at the moment is that there is a 2-year-old grandchild in the family and I speak only English to him. Thankfully, he’s starting to understand, and the family accepts the concept.
Hamburg is a melting pot of nationalities, which is one reason why it’s so cool to live here. If you sit in an outdoor cafe (even when the sun is not shining) you can hear people speaking all sorts of languages: Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, Danish, English, and all sorts of African languages that my linguist brother can sort out by region. Turkish is of course like Spanish is in Los Angeles, the most common second language you hear in the street. Turks were imported as cheap labor many years ago, like the Italians were during WW2, and now the second and third generations of Turks are integrated nicely into the system. Of course they still face lots of prejudice from Germans who still have the mistaken notion that they are “pure blood” residents of the country. The new authoritarian right-wingers have not changed their opinions of Turks, nor of Italians or Jews or any other non-Germans, but these days they are concentrating their ire and aiming their political arrows at the poor people our wars and economic models have driven from their homes in Africa and the Middle East and caused them to become refugee migrants.
There are no “races.” Race is a construct. It has no basis in science. It’s bullshit used by malevolent politicians to atomize the electorate and make sure we don’t unite to throw out the elitist oligarchs and their complicit political lackeys. About 10 minutes of an anthropology lesson will disabuse you of any racial misinformation you might have picked up along the way. The present population of the earth is made up of one race only: Homo sapiens sapiens. We evolved from Homo sapiens sometime between 160,000 and 90,000 years ago in Africa before migrating, first to the Middle East and Europe and later to Asia, Australia, and the Americas. During this wonderful migratory journey we either killed off or bred with the Homo sapiens still hanging around and now we are the dominant, actually the only human race on the earth. Through our migration we adapted – over a long long time – to the environmental conditions of the region we settled in and skin pigmentation changed, hair growth and body form changed, facial characteristics changed, and so we have all the various Homo sapiens sapiens that you see today. One race with many varieties of packaging!
I’m Afraid of Americans by David Bowie should probably be the World Anthem, along with All You Need is Love by The Beatles. If you are not afraid of Americans, you should be. Along with their favorite sparring partners, the Russians, they are in love with war and power, both nations believing deep in their hearts that Might is Right. Symptoms of that disease are the liberal firearms policy that exists in the US and the worship of mercenary groups in Russia, like Wagner, who advertise their brutality and use it to attract the powerless and the criminals to their ranks. Only the weakest personalities exert their need for power through the barrel of a gun. Americans are Maoists. Mercenaries are amoral psychopaths. American Evangelical Christian fundamentalists are a Cult of Death, fast and furiously speeding down any road that will lead to Apocalypse. Be afraid of Americans. The current group of politically dominant Russians are just greedy and brutal, not necessarily apocalyptic. Which doesn’t make them better.
Artificial Intelligence is an oxymoron, because by self-definition it is artificial, therefore not real, and also therefore cannot be intelligence. In reality it should be called MIRPC, Mathematically Induced Random Phrase Collocation. AI is the supra-brand name, nothing else. People are trying to market the supra-brand under sub-brand names that should excite the buyer by incorporating words like chat or draw or music. MIRPC will get more refined as time goes on and many unsophisticated minds will try and use it to pretend that they are sophisticated. The protests against this technology being used in education are superficial. Nobody would care about MIRPC if there wasn’t such an emphasis on hierarchical placement through the writing of papers that have the same function as examinations. Kids used to use Cliffs Notes to write essays about literature that they couldn’t be bothered to actually read. MIRPC collocates all the various notes providers plus all essays written about the book or story in question and vomits it out in a form that seems to make sense. It only makes sense in actuality if the parameters of the system remain as they are today. Change the parameters and the MIRPC is defeated.
When you want a job, you go in for an interview. Interview the student about the subject matter. A human being asks a human being questions and a human being replies. Either you know or you don’t know. Let people partner up and make a presentation about the subject matter. Two, maybe three people work together and come up with a way to present their knowledge to a group of people, including teachers, and through talking, acting, presentation of pictures and sounds, the group delivers their knowledge (or lack thereof) to an audience. Questions can be asked and answered. Human beings interact. Machines are defeated. Change the system.
9th Circle of Hell for all of them, even the cute ones that you think are “progressive.” Until representation becomes a civic duty, like serving on a jury, and all representatives are chosen by lottery, with service limited to 2 years, you can reserve professional politicians ice block seats in the Treachery section above Satan’s chamber in Dante’s Hell.
Raised by a single mother (before it became fashionable), my experience of family was watching a movie and eating pizza at home in front of the TV while my mother was out at a party with her friends. Now I have people around me who all grew up with brothers and sisters and have no idea how pleasant it is to be an only child. They think we are spoiled and selfish. Not necessarily true. An only child has no competition for love from the parent, tantrums have a tendency to actually bring results, and single mothers feel guilty because they think the only child is suffering from loneliness, especially if the mothers grew up with siblings. I was never lonely. I read books. I played with my toys. Masturbated. Learned the lyrics to all the songs on my mother’s jazz records. Went to the park to play baseball. Interacted with kids I didn’t have to see when I was at home. Only had to go visit old Italian people with my mother sometimes on a Sunday, dressed in a white shirt, tight collar, black clip-on bow tie, and play with their grandchildren in a garden with swings and croquet mallets and balls and wire arches with younger children and girls as young as me (7 or 8) in white fluffy-skirt dresses who I didn’t fall in love with (except for one, once, a blond who I only met that one time) and the dark-haired very beautiful but silent girl who my mother and the old folks tried to pair me with because, well, that’s what the older generation of Italians used to do.
These days, as one of the oldies, I enjoy speaking English to the youngest member of the family. Other than that, I can’t get a word in edgewise when all 10 sons, daughters, sons-in-law, wives, official grandparents, as well as spouses they married later, are sitting around the dinner table talking over each other about subjects (mostly food and soccer) that mean nothing to me. Many years ago I presented the family with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (in German). Both volumes remain in their thin Saran-wrap and have recently been transferred to my library where they sit dustless and virgin next to my oft-thumbed, bent-paged bible-like rice-paper edition of The Complete Works.
In Germany people are allowed to bring dogs into cafes and restaurants. Disgusting, as far as I’m concerned. A dog not only likes to smell the butt-holes of other dogs and lick their own butt-hole and penis, they piss and shit wherever they like and their human companions have to pick up the shit while it’s still warm by thrusting a hand into a black environmentally friendly plastic bag, wrap the warm and maybe softly squishy shit in the bag and then dispose of the bag – usually in somebody else’s trash can. Or, hey, by accident, the bag drops on the sidewalk and they just leave it there because the dog is pulling them on down the street. And please, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the dog’s fault. Dogs are just happy being dogs. It’s the humans that annoy me. First of all, the permission to bring an animal into a place where people are eating is a permission that was granted by humans to humans. Dogs didn’t ask for it. It’s against the law to take a dog into a supermarket. Dogs didn’t protest and say: “Hey, if we can go into cafes and restaurants then why not supermarkets?” They just accept it, like their humans do, and stay leashed up outside and wait. Some whine about it because obviously they are aware of the dissonant logic involved. But most are rather well-behaved and sit or lie on the sidewalk peacefully. Surely they could and would do the same thing outside of cafes and restaurants.
Coco was the only cat I have ever really liked. We had her twice as a sleepover guest for three weeks each time. The first time she was only a few months old, had been snatched from her home on a large estate in France and had been relegated to house and garden life in a big city. Hamburg. The house that was her new home was large enough and not far from a canal with lots of tall grass and reeds, but it was also a couple of streets away from a hospital where she would wander in and walk the halls in her grey and white fur uniform, drawing purrs of admiration from staff and patients alike until her owners finally came to look for her. Later they put up a picture with a phone number for when she came back, which she did on a regular basis.
The second time her humans brought Coco to us was during the Christmas season. They were gone on vacation and couldn’t or probably didn’t want to take her back to the Chateau in France with them in the car along with their huge friendly hound, with whom Coco had a good relationship by the way. Of course during this second visit she crossed the threshold into maturity and entered her first full phase of heat. This changed her personality temporarily. She became a friendly, loving, snuggling bundle of hormones. Normally she wasn’t unfriendly per se, she just didn’t need constant petting or excessive human contact. Because we live in an area that is not near a canal or fields of green, and is between some busy streets, we were forced to keep her indoors so that she wouldn’t wander away, until one day I went to a pet store and bought her a body harness leash. She loved it. When I went to get it from where it hung to take her for a walk so she could sniff and piss in our little front garden, she would purr and stroke her body against my leg and let me slip the harness over her head and onto her body without resistance. Finally, when we were outside, she didn’t try and slip out of the harness or strain to run away. I kept her on a long loose leash and let her go wherever she wanted in the garden and mostly she kept to the flower beds and the grass. Once or twice we ventured out onto the road in front of our house where, because of the gates at each end, there is no traffic. She was a princess of a cat, with long white furry legs and that regal hauteur that went so well with her grey crown and the white around her eyes and little pink nose.
Coco went home to her humans after Christmas and the New Year, was neutered, ran away a few more times, got a collar with a phone number and a name pendant, slipped out of the collar on a regular basis, kept wandering, getting returned, until her fickle humans got tired of going after her and told the people who found her to keep her.
Coco was not a cat to complain about, and she deserved to stay on the grounds of her French Chateau where she could have had an adventurous life and bred to her heart’s content instead of being kidnapped as a baby and taken to a foreign land in the cold north.
It is everywhere. Personally, I think it’s silly and don’t regard it as artistic in any way, though I concede that you need a certain amount of skill in order to create the colorful completely illegible swirls that are randomly plastered across fences and sides of buildings. The little squiggly types of graffiti (also illegible) that you see in busses and trains and on corner walls of buildings are like dog piss. The poor animal can’t stand another animal’s smell attached to the territory he considers his and so he pisses over it and a bit higher up if possible to show he is bigger, stronger, better. Graffiti, if it is going to be placed on a wall or on a monument of some kind should either be political or obscene in nature. Ideally, both: Fuck Capitalism! • Cunts Rule! • Don’t Be A War Hole! • Peoples Is Legals! • God? No!
I do not approve of shaved pubes. Pubic hair is good. Lots of pubic hair is better. OK, trim it a bit if you want, but don’t style it, unless of course you plan on parading your pubic area in front of the public for praise or profit. • Personally I prefer smooth hairless legs and armpits that have been left to nature from the start of maturity. That might have something to do with the era in which I grew to maturity. • Beards are itchy, can cause bad skin to develop or have a tendency to be grown in order to hide bad skin or weak chins, or to make a fashion statement which emphasizes manhood, like the Taliban and other fundamentalists are prone to do. • Hair color I understand, though I would never do it for myself. Anyway now that my hair is tending toward white, it would be silly to douse it with henna or some other agent. • Shaving can be a task, but after doing it, the face is clean and smooth and your true external face is made visible. You have nothing to hide. • Hairlessness seems to have become a fashion statement and is supposed to hark back to elitist Rome and sexual freedom, but you need to remember that body lice were common in ancient times and one of the treatments was ridding yourself of bodily hair, especially if you were a soldier, like Caesar, on the road, living in encampments with limited access to fresh water. You live in a new era, with running water and soap, you don’t need to shed your body hair, just bathe regularly and keep clean so lice, fleas and scabies won’t be a problem for you.
TV & Movies
2000 channels and nothing on. That’s how much nothing has changed since Springsteen made his statement in 1992 with Fifty-Seven Channels and Nothin’ On. I watch film and series pretty regularly because I like listening to the English language in all its various accents. What I’ve noticed is that the plots are getting simpler, the characters are getting dumber, and the violence is increasing in brutality and in its graphic depiction. What I long for is a mystery crime thriller where the detective (male or female) does everything right while following the trail of clues and yet a twist always comes because the criminal was clever enough to lead the detective down a false trail, which forces the detective to re-calibrate and finally, after a number of following the right clues along false trails, through cogitational dexterity the detective arrives at the solution because the clues were real, just not interpreted correctly at the time, and catches the criminal without a fistfight, a gun battle or a deadly encounter of any kind, the criminal showing respect for the cleverness of the detective and accepting the defeat with composure.
Modes of Transportation
I don’t fly. I did, from time to time in the past, but now I don’t need to and refuse to get on an airplane. Being sealed in a metal tube 50-thousand feet up in the sky is not a pleasure. On a train which stops from time to time and would allow me to pull an emergency stop lever if I wanted to, I am connected to the ground and can spend time looking out the window at the passing scenery or get up and walk the length of the train and back, hang out in the dining car, or use the toilet as often and for as long as I like without people thinking I’m trying to join the Mile High Club. • Cars are problematic because either you are ruining the climate with CO2, or causing lithium to be scraped from the surface of Earth by oil-burning machines. Electric vehicles depend on the lithium batteries that are then made and, unfortunately, as it now stands, there is an electric car manufacturer who is making billions from your need for a safe environment and is an authoritarian Neo-fascist. • I ride a bicycle. I wear a helmet and yellow safety gear. Of course I live in a flat city where any place I want to go is only about 15 or 20 minutes away from where I live. We have bike lanes. They have improved greatly in the past 10 years. I avoid riding in the street if there is a bike lane that is on the sidewalk. I’m not a fan of speedy riders on racing bikes in full cyclist gear. I’m not a fan of reckless speedy riders who think that they have the right to do anything they like at any time they like. Arrogant fuckers. I certainly don’t wish anyone harm, but those idiots seem to forget that 2 tons of metal are more dangerous than 12 kilos of metal wires and frames topped by 80 kilos of bones and blood covered by a thin layer of skin.
I’m not finished… so sit back and relax. Brew yourself a nice cup of green tea from Vietnam: https://viet-tee.de/en