Month: October 2009

today’s indulgent book purchase

ah, returned at last from breakfast and book shopping.  here are my latest acquisitions, in order of discovery:

in the "bargain crime & sci-fi/fantasy" section:

  • Drood, by Dan Simmons – I enjoyed his Ilium and Olympos, and may well have read others in the list of his previous books, but am having a hard time remembering.  This is an historical thriller, "what really happened to charles dickens during his final days."  We’ll see, I guess.  I like historical novels of all bents, especially when they get really off the historical track.  Like for example, Inglourious Basterds… not a novel, but my appreciation is the same.
  • Sister Time, by John Ringo & Julie Cochran – It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by John Ringo, but I like to always buy at least one cheap sci-fi or fantasy or both book on every book-shopping trip, since I consider them the delicious sour gummies of my book enjoyment. 
  • Cally’s War, by the same – I realized that Sister Time was a sequel.  Had to get the first one.
  • My Boring-Ass Life, by Kevin Smith – just because.  no explanation necessary.  But I don’t know why this was in this particular bargain section.

Moving on to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy new arrivals:

  • Butcher Bird, by Richard Kadrey – I was struck first by the nice graphics on the spine.  Then the quote on the front from Wiliam Gibson: "If this novel had been rendered in oil or acrylic, it would be kicking world-class lowbrow ass in multi-page spreads in Juxtapoz or on the walls of La Luz de Jesus.  Go for it.  The man is mad, in every best way."  I decided to simply take Bill’s advice.

On to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy main section:

  • Makers, by Cory Doctorow – I started reading this online, through Creative Commons.  Was really enjoying it.  Saw it on the shelf, so picked it up.

Decided to leave my usual haunt in the bookshop and GO UPSTAIRS, to the general fiction and non-fiction:

  • A Time to Dance, A Time to Die – The Extraordinary Storyof the Dancing Plague of 1518, by John Waller – ooooh, it’s about St. Vitus’ Dance.  I know next to nothing about this, and the first couple of pages drew me right in.
  • Hegemony or Survival – America’s Quest for Global Dominance, by Noam Chomsky – As a former philosophy and linguistics major, I was a big fan of Chomsky, on both fronts.  It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by him, so I thought I’d check out a more recent work (comparatively speaking – this was first published in 2003).
  • God is not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens – It was right below the Chomsky section, in bright yellow.  The title’s great.  It was enough for me.

weekend… one of many

i feel like the weekend must already be over, i’ve been so busy.
my weekends, if all goes well, start on thursday night.  so i have all friday to add to my weekend.

thursday i went to ivo & marieke’s to see a movie and eat previously-frozen pizzas.  the movie was The Visitor, and was really very excellent.  i recommend it.
friday i made a huge list of craft objects i needed and went to the cuypmarkt to buy them.  took a large chunk of the day.
friday night i worked on said craft projects, then went to beer club at cafe de wildeman, where i proceeded to drink 6 or so bokbiers, and act drunk and ridiculous.  also went to the burger bar to feast on heaven.
saturday i attempted to proceed with said craft projects, to much failure, practiced my keyboard parts, and watched some season 3 west wing while continuing to work on the projects (that are not going well at this moment).  i also tried on a bunch of my clothes to try and decide what i should wear for the first concert… ha.
saturday night matt and troy came back from prepping their american breakfast stuff, and we hung out, carved jack-o-lanterns, and watched John Carpenter’s The Thing, which was surprisingly quite good.
today i have been emailing people, and now am meeting anne at the breakfast cafe, then will go to the american book center to re-stock, then will work on projects/practice/etc., then will try to join the derby dames for skate practice, then will go to nicola’s for dinner.  somewhere in there i will also call my dad.

when i list things like that, it doesn’t seem like i’ve done as much as i feel like i’ve done this weekend.
oops.  gotta go.  anne’s waiting now…

from der spiegel — very interesting couldn’t find a clip

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Choosing My Religion

Turkish Reality TV Show Aims to Convert Non-Believers

By Daniel Steinvorth in Istanbul

A new reality television show has rabbis, priests, imams and monks trying to make non-believers pious. The Vatican is reportedly sending a priest, a Buddhist monk has been recruited and atheists who convert will win a trip to a holy site. The Muslim religious authority in Turkey is not amused.

Channel T is not exactly one of the major players in the Turkish television business. And the niche station, tucked away in a commercial area of Istanbul, has made headlines primarily because of the woman who runs it, Seyhan Soylu. Often simply called "Sisi" by the press, the 36 year old is a former police officer and journalist, a transsexual and the enfant terrible of Turkey.

At 20, the son of a diplomat and graduate of a police academy had a sex change operation. At 22, Sisi appeared on the cover page of an issue of Playboy, and since then she has developed an interest in politics on a bigger scale. As an employee of "state services," Soylu allegedly took part in the overthrow of fundamentalist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan in 1997. Last September, the eloquent blonde with the tattooed upper arms was even arrested and briefly detained on suspicion of membership in Ergenekon, a shadowy, ultra-nationalist organization Ankara believes has plotted to overthrow the government.

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that Sisi also happens to be the force behind the country’s most controversial television program. For weeks, a reality show dreamed up by the head of Channel T and called "Tövbekarlar yarisiyor" ("Penitents Compete") has been at the center of public discussion. The show focuses on 12 atheists and several religious dignitaries, including a Catholic and an Orthodox priest, a Muslim imam, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist monk.

Religious Authority: "A Debasement of Religion"

For eight weeks, the clerics, acting independently of one another, will try to convert the atheist candidates to their respective faiths. The program will include face-to-face conversations, group question-and-answer sessions and visits to mosques and churches. If the holy men manage to convert a participant, the participant wins a trip to the applicable holy site. A freshly minted Muslim will make a pilgrimage to Mecca at the station’s expense, a Jew will go to Jerusalem, a Catholic to the Vatican and a Buddhist to Tibet.

It sounds like a joke, but the show’s creators at Channel T are perfectly serious. "We selected our 12 atheists from more than 200 applications. We already have a commitment from the Vatican, which plans to send us a priest," says Soylu in her office in Istanbul’s Güngören neighborhood. A rabbi and a Buddhist monk have also been recruited. Initially, the station had difficulty signing on a representative of Islam, but it eventually found a Tunisian imam willing to tackle the challenge.

Soylu says the religious authority had been hesitant about permitting a Turkish imam on the show, but that’s putting it mildly. The Office of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in Ankara reacted angrily to Channel T’s announcement about the planned program. "Not a single imam" would participate in this "frippery," outraged Diyanet President Ali Bardakoglu said in a TV interview. The show, he said, is nothing but a "fatal error" and, what’s more, represents a "debasement of religion."

Mustafa Çagrici, the supreme mufti of Istanbul, who, like Bardakoglu, is among the more moderate voices in Turkish Islam, fears the demise of the Eastern world. Experimenting with god, he says heatedly, is detrimental to public harmony.

"We Want to Help People Find God"

Soylu, who sees herself as a "devout Muslim with non-dogmatic views" in a country with a population in which 99 percent share the same faith, has launched a counterattack. "Where is the problem? We don’t want to incite a religious war," she says. "We want to help people find God."

If the program does indeed end up offending religious sensibilities, the station can expect to be slapped with a fine by the agency that regulates the Turkish media. In the worst case scenario, it could face the loss of its license.

Ironically, Turkey’s media watchdogs have been dealing with increasingly absurd programs for some time now. In the battle for viewers, Turkish channels are outdoing each other with distasteful programs like "Ver coskuyu" ("Come On, Give Me What You’ve Got"), in which candidates are showered with small bugs or given electric shocks while singing a song. In another show, which has been accused of sexism, a man faces off against 50 blonde women in a test of knowledge — eventually he wins, exposing the blondes as intellectually inferior.

Sisi’s show about atheists and religion is relatively harmless by comparison. Turkish sociologist Nilüfer Narli even feels that it satisfies a social need: the "growing curiosity about other religions." Meanwhile, it remains unclear when exactly "Penitents Compete" will air. The station had announced a September premier at first, but now an advisor to Channel T says that it will not be launched before October — after Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

That much consideration is a must.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

het 10e straatje

so, hazenstraat (where we live) is officially now the 10th street.  our shopkeepers had festivities today, which are still going on.  we went down for a long while – had a few drinks, chatted with a whole lot of neighbors.  a  couple of friends came by and helped take off the wooden floorboards of our roof so that it’s ready for construction work.  i tried to get some work done on a few personal things, but was only partially successful.

tonight we’re going to cafe mono for a subgenius party.  i missed the last one, which was apparently in the winston kingdom and involved stage acts and everything.  don’t know where they’d put that in mono, so i suspect it’s just an excuse to enjoy drinking with likemindedly freaky folks.  so off we go.  i’m hoping that if mono is still ignoring the smoking ban, that at least the excessive "in your face" has worn off.  last time i was there it was painfully smoky and i couldn’t breathe.  literally.  i left pretty early.

tomorrow i will HAVE TO SERIOUSLY buckle down.  there’s a shitload of stuff to do, and i’ve spent most of today shindigging.  🙂 

speed summary of my life right now

updating… i’ve been very busy, doing various things.  here are a few of them:

allergy testing – again.  results (preliminary) tomorrow, but it seems like i’ve reacted to a bunch.  the german doctor said in dutch to his colleagues, while examining the initial reactions on my back, "this is an ideal canditate for this type of examination…" while enumerating the many locations where i’d reacted.  should be an interesting meeting tomorrow.

work.  just very busy.  did you really want to hear about it? 

flamenco.  i’ve chosen to stay in the beginner’s classes again, for the lower stress level.  otherwise it’s going fine.  i bought a large strip of vinyl at the flooring store the other day, so that i can lay it on the floor and practice at home.  this is pretty exciting, since the nails on the bottoms of flamenco shoes had been previously the main reason i never do.

band.  i’m doing live keyboards for contrast while their usual member is away on a long trip.  first show is nov 8th, 2nd act before faith and the muse.  so we’ve been practicing!  this week i finally was able to take the keyboard home with me so that i can get some more intense time to work on it.  i think it’s going pretty well so far…

nothing significant since the party, although this weekend we need to get the wooden parts off of the roof and move things on each floor in order to clear space so the contractors can work on the windows.  i’m not sure why the roof needs to be done THIS weekend, since to my knowledge, they haven’t even given us the bid yet for that part.  but they start on the windows next week.

travel & visitor.
  i went to paris for my birthday (right after the wonderful party) and then matt’s mom was here for a week. 

social.  soundgarden, friends/neighbors dropping in, movies (i saw public enemies – kind of disappointing, even if johnny depp IS a hottie).

there’s definitely more, but for the life of me i can’t remember what.  in the evenings, to unwind, we watch downloaded tv series.  we’re in season 3 of weeds right now.

this weekend, in addition to the things mentioned above, my old assistant paloma is dj’ing at cafe schiller on friday, so i hope to go; saturday is the hazenstraat celebration of being the 10th street – so the 10th of the 10th; and sunday a friend from maastricht, sofia, will be in town, so i hope to see her for a while.

next weekend, matt and i will fly to lyon to see our friends annemette and steen, and we’ll drive with them to carcassone for the weekend.  yay, french food with danish buddies!

there’s the quick summary for today.  🙂 or this month, whichever…