Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of year post

I'm totally confused about 2009. I don't know if it was good or bad. There were parts of it that were good, especially the first 3 months. There were parts that were bad, annoying, and neverending. Sometimes the year was also just another year.

I can't think of any terribly bad moments. Sure, sometimes the stress was extreme and that was very hard to take. But somehow I'm at least still alive. I think the reason why I don't look back at 2009 and see an amazing year is because of an anger issue that has come up. I have been fighting with authorities for about half a year now and it has caused a lot of pain and impatience on my side. I can't just act like everything is normal and go on with my life as if it's two different things: My life and my visits to this place. Every time I face having to go to this place again, my mind gets very negative. I don't want this. But to stop the bad thoughts, I would have to stop even going there.

There are no specific events in this year that I would like to focus on. I see it more as a whole thing this time and not several different aspects determining the value of the year. It was the first time I spent a whole year (January until December) with one company. My contract will reach deep into 2010 and hopefully beyond that.

Somehow the look into the future is very cloudy and foggy. I notice that I could look at the glass half empty or half full, but somehow, I prefer half empty. There are good things that are supposed to happen in 2010. But I first want to wait and see if they happen, and when they do, if I also get what I expect from them. I also have to see about my contract and what comes after that. If things turn out the way I deserve (not just the way I expect), then I think it can be a good year. But I also expect challenges and a difficult time dealing with my new life.

It's also the end of a decade, and I always seem to forget that. I remember how my parents didn't wake me up in 1989 even though I had asked them to. I missed that transition. In 1999, I was of course awake, and it was the end of a millenium. In 1979, I was not even born.

Many of us will remember how we were looking forward to 2000. It doesn't even feel so long ago, does it? Maybe it has to do with the way things have not changed. When you compare 2000 with 1990, the music, clothes and way people act is different. The cars are different. Microwaves, vaccuum cleaners and all that stuff are different. But now, what's different? The music from the beginning of the decade doesn't sound so much different, at least not so different compared to the other decade beginnings. We have reached the end of the scale when it comes to improvement and development. There were no major innovations that I can recall, at least none that are used in everyday life. Pain-free dental care is still in its childhood shoes and never wanting to grow out of it. And you, chocolate with few calories who is still in development, I'll see you when my children are in their teens.
The internet improved, youtube, wikipedia and all the others only came to their full potential when the decade was already half way over. But that's like talking about windscreen wipers as a new sensation when it's only part of the car, which is the real sensation.

The new decade will be a decade that sees me going from 26 up to 35. That is, if I can pull myself together. We will see crazy years like 2013, 2017 and other odd years. It sounds very dark, not so nice and fresh like 2000 or 2008. But it's not what matters.
Hm... the sinking of the titanic will be 100 years old in that decade, I think. And lots of other stuff. Many people turning 100 years old. Whatever.

Not sure how to welcome the new year. It's like seeing a friendly face while expecting to be deceived and getting one's arm broken once you reach out with your hand. I will keep my eyes open and stay very suspicious of the new year.

In total, the decade was good, and the year 2009 was just strange. 2009 was really bizarre. I mean, when you only look at the small events, it should have been really cool, meeting Marit again and all that stuff, but then it's still weird how my feelings can be so mixed.

For the new year, I wish for a little less annoyance, hope that my sanity stays strong, and I hope to become rich for no reason. That's all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ralf Schumacher - here we go again

I was more than annoyed when released another article with speculations of Ralf Schumacher's possible return to Formula 1. Keeping in mind that all the speculation is only worth talking about because Michael Schumacher will drive in F1 in 2010 makes it kind of sad. What kind of career is that when you always have to rely on your brother to make your own career work?

When I read the article, there were actually some things that surprised me:

1. The article contained information that can not be labelled as "shit" unless it's all a lie.

2. There is new information.

3. The circumstances have changed.

So what is it that's worth saying about this? Well, one thing first, a return of Ralf Schumacher is still something I doubt a lot. Two years absence of a driver who won 6 races in his 11 years career and is going to turn 35 years old next summer, Last podium finish in 2006, last win in 2003, that doesn't sound very inviting for team owners. Unless he wants to help a team that need development aid.
The things that have changed since the last time we heard about Ralf are that there are more teams in F1 than last season, that means that even if all drivers who drove in 2009 stayed in F1 (and not even that is the case), there would still be seats left to be filled by newcomers and comeback drivers. Plus, Ralf already had an offer from a new team, plus he rejected it. Sounds like someone who is very sure of himself.

Ralf said it's not about money, and it's also not about signing the next best deal. He wants to see a perspective. There are three teams of the established, successful teams, that still have one seat per team left to fill. And the article suggests that Ralf Schumacher's name is being discussed internally. I'm not really sure what to make of this, though. Discussing lots of names is not a guarantee for a return. I also think that these teams would rather choose a driver who drove in 2009, or at least a driver who drove the latest cars, either as a test driver or maybe someone who left a team recently for whatever reason. There are still some drivers that come to mind before Ralf pops up. I'm very doubtful. I would give it more thought if only the media didn't push the topic so hard.

In the end, it reminds me very much of the swine flu: You hear about it so much, it's so damn important, be warned, be warned, but in the end, everyone says it's only a stupid flu. We get so desensitised by crazy news that we stop caring about the things that might actually turn out to be true. I don't know when, but there will be a point when something bad will happen only because of how the media didn't know their limits.

Totally denying a return of Ralf Schumacher after Michael signing a 3 year contract just some days ago would be wrong. There were other old drivers who have been speculated to return. But it just seems a little odd, you know. Considering the fame of Ralf's older brother, the speculations about Ralf himself always seemed very much out of proportion compared to Michael, who was often in the center of speculation but it never seemed forced but rather according to what was really about to happen eventually.

You can compare it to movies. The hype about Michael is like the hype for a Steven Spielberg movie. You know there has to be a hype, but at least you are not being fooled. Ralf is more the Roland Emmerich type. Lots of explosions, lots of patriotism, lots of drama, but in the end, you once more get fooled into seeing another dull movie drowning in CGI effects.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stupid reasons for having a child

First, we deal with mistakes that can be made in a marriage. How many mistakes can find to ruin a marriage? Let's find out:

Six mistakes. Let's click on the article:

Seven mistakes. So let's click on the list:

Six mistakes. That's very consistent.

Now that we got this out of the way, let's talk about children. Having children of one's own is a very personal decision that many couples have to go through. However, there seem to be people who go on a crusade and try to talk others into having children by writing books about it. Again I found something on that annoyed me.

The article was called "12 reasons to love babies". But what's confusing enough is that the article itself mentions a book that says something like "101 reasons to love babies". So what do you want? 12 reasons or all 101 of them? Make up your mind, dammit!

The article writer decided to go with only 12 reasons, and he or she had the courtesy to pick a variety of them, and didn't shy away from including some of the dumbest in the list. I will list them here and make my comment on each of them:

1. Because you learn from babies not to take yourself so seriously:

Babies show their parents that it's not about oneself (how ironic, keeping in mind that babies only care about themselves). They teach their parents responsibility for other people [...], they scream at mama and papa if they want something and cuddle with them when they did well. Author Katrin Knoppe is right: "Egocentrics can't be good parents".

Well here is my comment: FUCK YOU! The most egocentric, egomaniac and egoistic people are children, nobody else! Not only does the author turn around the argument and make a fool of herself in her argumentation, she also uses the egoism suggestion as a dirty means. Why doesn't she just say "everyone who doesn't want children is worse than Hitler".

2. Because you have made your babies yourself:

We have thrown our genes together and made a human being. Your wackiness and my sensibility are in this being. It has my eyes and your humour. Your hair and my stubbornness. Katrin Knoppe knows that this human will connect you and your partner forever. However, it is an entirely special and unique person.

Mother Teresa, um... I mean Katrin Knoppe is right. Yes. How beautifully said. Give her a medal for that. How romantic. But far away from the truth. While it is biologically true that you've given your crappy genes to yet another generation that might decide not to have children, and despite the fact that only a small fragment of yourself is still left in that big genetic pool that will be in the generation after that, you have successfully applied the most animalistic, instinct-driven reason for having a child. Good luck explaining to your child the reason for its existence with Darwinism, evolution and all that scientific stuff. Self-confidence, here we come!
Besides, is it just me or is this "connect you and your partner forever" the worst thing ever uttered? How many people get divorced again? Hello???

3. Because babies bring people together:

Most of all, babies bring the family closer together. The fresh new parents now enter the realm of responsible decisions. Thus, they come closer to their own parents who have been there for a while already. When raising a child, there will be moments of hurt and insecurity, because one knows it's about something really important. And who do you ask in such moments? Certainly not colleagues but family and friends.

You know... to me this sounds like this: When you're tired of realising that other couples who don't have children spend all weekend getting drunk and partying, you ask some suckers for help who are stupid enough to take care of your annoying little vermin so that you can have at least one weekend a month away from it and try to save your ruined marriage.
I'm serious, read it again, it translates word for word!

4. Because babies are not resentful:

Babies quickly take away their parents' bad conscience when they have made a mistake. Even though one has screamed at the baby and it cried a lot, everything is fine after some minutes of calming it down. This innocent love should never be exploited.

This part touches two topics without even attempting to. Which is funny. First it says that babies don't hold a grudge, which is partly wrong, and then, with only one sentence, it hints at the possibility of parents manipulating the child. Does that ring a bell? Well yes, it's something that all parents do. Never exploit innocent love? Too bad it happens everywhere. Religion is only the most heavy of those exploits. There are many more ways of exploiting the child that are less heavy.
Coming back to forgiveness of the child. If you scream at it, calm it down, scream at it, calm it down, scream at it, calm it down... it still ends up very fucked up. Just because the child displays calmness doesn't mean it's perfectly okay. It's not like a video game that loses all memory once you switch it off. It still remembers things on a subconscious level.

5. Because babies speak a foreign language that you will still understand:

I will spare you the details of this reason. It's only about babies being so cute and parents being curious about the baby language. I don't get it why people should make babies for that. If it's only for the cuteness, that's pure egoism. Go to any childcare centre and you can experience it on your own if you're so interested in baby language.

6. Because babies can cheer up about the same thing for the 1000th time:

"I've seen it all, I've been here before, I've tried it before, it's alright". Typical reactions of adults. A baby has nothing left for this kind of hype for change. Babies can be happy about the same toy over and over - as if it was the first time. For babies, life is rarely a routine, instead it's constant fascination and unending astonishment.

Do you realise the idealisation of babies in this paragraph? She got really carried away when she came up with this image of babies. I'm not saying it's not true, but she only shows us the cute side of babies once again. And again, she brings up another point without even noticing it. You wonder what it is? Check the part about the adult person. What does a baby become? A child, a teenager, an adult. At some point, you can't excite your offspring any more. Babies are like puppies: They are the children of adult beings and they eventually become adult beings. The risk is only seeing the cute phase and never even thinking about the bad times that will come.

7. Because you are finally the number one for another person: (oh no, now we're really diving into the shit)

Babies are often completely focussed on their parents, especially the mother. And they will then only be calmed down by the mother. "Nobody else, not even daddy, has a chance then". The unconditional trust that the own baby offers, gives the mother the good feeling to prove that she is worth the baby's love.

This blows my mind on so many levels. This is the reason, this! This is the reason why guys like me don't want children. I'm not talking about the child's way of acting, it's only a child. I'm talking about the mother. And do you notice that even the author loses her objectivity here (not that she ever had one to begin with). Even the author talks in this motherly way here. Okay, let's tear this apart step by step:
The headline: You are finally the number one for another person. I take this as a direct insult against me as a man. Who says that we don't love our wives and accept them as number one? Are we only after our career? Why do we not count?
Then the rest: Okay, fine, so the baby will focus on the mother, but only because she spends more time with the baby. I bet there are at least some babies that will only be calmed down by the father. But in general, the bond between the mother and the baby is so damn strong, holy and godly that the guy could just go and hang himself. If it wasn't for the money, he could just leave, seriously. He has nothing left to do except for help the mother in fulfilling parental duties.

8. Because you always rely on your instincts:

More motherly bullshit. Katrin Knoppe says don't rely on books too much, follow your instincts. How ironic that this comes from a person who writes a book. That's like a rapist telling other rapists not to rape.

9. Because the word "fear" gets a totally new meaning:

"Being a Mum or Dad is hell. From the day of procreation, you are in a state of fear (are you sure? I think you're still pretty much satisfied in that very moment, hehe). Fear of the life of your child", Knoppe says. Being overly careful becomes the standard procedure. And that is understandable, because nothing reaches as far as the love for one's own child - except maybe the fear for the child's well-being.

I'm sorry, did we drift off a little here, I thought this was supposed to be a book that gives reasons to have children, not to avoid having children.

10. Because you will be treated preferentially:

No doubt, there is a "baby card" you can play. In many areas you will be treated better when having a child with you. Because everyone gets so soft and careful when seeing a woman with a pram or because people think you're having a hard time being a parent anyway, also financially. Of course it's not correct playing the "baby card". On the other hand, the fact that you can play it shows that society is aware of the special needs that parents have.

So the reason for having a baby is that you can get your shopping done faster, and you can talk at the entrance of a grocery with another mother while your child drools on the floor and nobody will say a word, even if the child blocks the way? Damn you! Why does the author talk about egoism and then use that same egoism for her own agenda? Fuck the baby card, and fuck you, Frau Knoppe.

11. Because nothing goes as planned:

Babies act as they like (finally something I agree with). Parents are most of the time busy dealing with the unexpected. That can be pretty stressful (you're damn right). What it never leads to, though, is boredom (objection! there is boredom in bed!). Instead of routine and planning, spontaneity and small mishaps rule everyday life. And thanks to the baby, parents learn how to deal with surprises.

Another argument that's supposed to support the pro-child agenda. Honestly, I don't really get it. Sure, people who go on parties every weekend, travel a lot and like the thrill of an exotic and exciting life, they will somehow like the fact that it never gets boring. But they are also the kind of people who can do well without children. Other people, like me, don't want children exactly for the reason that nothing is predictable. Instead of rushing to the hospital every 5 days, I can just watch Die Hard on my tv, that's exciting enough for my taste. And to learn how to deal with surprises? No thanks, I think I can just survive the heart attack I get when my girlfriend gives me an unexpected present. So there is no need for any more training on this.

12. Because the first birthday is not the end: (well, at least in most cases)

Everything that's been difficult surely won't stop after the first birthday. It will continue being difficult and many obstacles will be in the way of the child and the parents. "There's nothing nice without anything difficult". But seeing how your child learns to walk and talk, how it goes to kindergarten, school, reaches puberty and grows up slowly, that's definitely worth it.

Unless.... you get divorced, then it's just fucking hell. OR if the baby is disabled. OR if it dies and your spouse never gets over the pain of the loss, no matter how much you love him / her. OR if it says "I hate you" and runs away to become a drug addict. The list goes on. But keep bringing up examples of a fairytale childhood, I'm sure everyone is going to be as lucky as you. You, dear Mrs Knoppe, have done a good job. And the most surprising thing about you is that, instead of making more babies (although I don't know if you have any), you even have time to write books for people who are not sure if they want children. People like my parents. And that makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Dear Mrs Knoppe... I know you are a businesswoman, trying to cash in on a popular subject. But please bear in mind that not all people are made for this "job". Dealing with parental stress is natural, but there are also other things that are natural. Scientists found out that relationships usually only last until the first baby is there, and keeping the relationship alive after that is hard work. Some decades and centuries ago, people had to stay together because the woman was totally dependent on the guy. These times are over, and this will lead to more single fathers and mothers, with chaotic results for the children. I warn you, Mrs Knoppe, do not cause the births of miserable children just because you think of people who don't want children as egoistic, selfish, unnatural traitors of human genetics and saboteurs of the German economy ("children are our future" etc.). I ask all of you out there: Think first, then have children. It's no big deal if you fail in your relationship, but if you give a small child a bad childhood, then you will be blamed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Names - the most complicated words of all

What do the following celebrity names have in common:

Michael Jacksen
Barack Obamo
Tiger Woulds

Answer: They are horribly misspelled.

I would be punished if I made such mistakes while being paid to write articles about such people. But the funy thing is: It doesn't happen to these people.

Mailmen get punished if letters go missing.

Servicepeople get punished if they behave incorrectly towards customers.

Politicians get punished if they make comparisons with Jews or Hitler.

But two groups of people only get punished too late or not at all: People in the financial sector and media people.

The other day, there was a show where a young girl sang a Marit Larsen song, and the host of the show pronounced the name clearly as "Marit Larson". Why is it that someone who presents a show with pop music does not have to know the name of a singer that was #1 for 5 weeks this summer? Why? Are they only chosen for looks and charme? That's the problem in Germany, I think. Even the "[country] idol" winners of other countries sometimes succeed in the long run. Here, they only succeed for some weeks, in some cases even lose completely. The latest winner team of a pop group casting was called "some & any" by the producers of the show. How much does that say about the quality of the product? It almost sounds like a parody of a music group to be called like that.

But I'm drifting off. I'm now going back to names, and this here is something I found at under the sports section:

Above you see an article select screen. One of them is about a new driver to enter Formula 1. His real name is Lucas di Grassi. But maybe because the guy who wrote the article was smoking some grass, he turned it into "di Grasso". But only at the top, because in the text below it is written correctly again. Now look at the next picture (below). You will see the exact same thing in the article itself. Wrong spelling, correct spelling. Copy and paste, anyone?

The mistake was not corrected even after days, so I gave in and wrote the T-online team a message and asked them to check their bloody spelling. It's still a shame that people get paid well for something so pathetic. How would you feel if someone misspelled your name twice and it only looks like a careless mistake, not a mistake because of a complicated name? I think you would be pissed off, too.