Claiming Freedom Of The Press

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 19, 2014 in News & Opinion |

Freedom of the press is one thing, but the freedom of the reader often gets second place, when it even comes to mind.

Freedom of the press and humanity are the foundation of The Epoch Times; our beginnings hailed from a great need to provide uncensored news to a people immersed in propaganda and censorship in China.

I have no intention of playing down the ideals of The Epoch Times, their stance is something everyone should be proud of in a modern world where, despite the wide-ranging possibilities of technology, we are still hampered in the gathering of information by governments, by outdated laws and by those who do not wish us to see the whole picture.

Viktoria Michaelis: Video Unavailable

Screenshot Source: The Epoch Times

The video in question is about the nurse – Nina Pham – who, following her work as a carer for Thomas Eric Duncan, contracted Ebola. If you believe the propaganda surrounding the disease, this is a world-wide problem, so why isn’t the information available world-wide? Why does a web site have to block some countries from viewing information about a matter which appears in every single newspaper?

Perhaps it is time that a few Western countries took a look at their copyright laws, at the restrictions imposed which, in such a case, restrict not just the Freedom of the Press, but also the Freedom of Information.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Just A Matter Of Timing

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 18, 2014 in Internet |

Timing can be everything, a split second too late, or too early, and a whole creation could disappear down the plug hole. Anyone who has tried to prepare and serve the perfect souffle can tell you about it! Sometimes, though, timing is more a matter of coincidence than anything else, a matter of two things coming together at exactly the right time and complimenting – or disproving – one another.

Viktoria Michaelis: Twitter, Monika Hartmann

Screenshot Source: Twitter

So this evening as I saw Monika Hartmann’s Tweet about Rebecca Lorenz’s new book of poems: Von Herzen: Gedichte des Lebens. Right next to it was another Tweet from a parody Steve Jobs account retweeted by a parody Syvia Plath account – well, you can understand that neither one of them does a great deal on Twitter these days.

Viktoria Michaelis: Twitter, Steve Jobs

Screenshot Source: Twitter

Oh, how love changes with the passage of time!

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Paris: The Death Of A Christmas Dream

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 18, 2014 in Immoral Conversations |

You’d think that people would have more respect. The season of goodwill is almost upon us, at least as far as every shop in the Christian world is concerned, and everyone is preparing themselves for the onslaught of the holiday season, having only just accepted that it is Fall and getting cold again. And the season of goodwill means decorations, lights, parcels filled with odd seasonal wares, mince pies and future good intentions – such as losing all that gained weight once more.

Not in France. In Paris a few people have decided that there should be no special celebration this year, that the festive season should be without its centerpiece on every single market square, and have taken revenge – if you can term it that – on one of those symbols of Christmas.

Viktoria Michaelis: Paris, Butt Plug Tree

Screenshot Source: Twitter

This was the Christmas tree erected for the celebrations. Around this tree countless happy holidaymakers could have cavorted, have enjoyed their hot toddy, French Glühwein and the lure of all those seasonal markets with their shiny toys and tree decorations. Looking at the dismal pile, all that remains of the festive tree, some might be inclined to ask: why? Why would anyone want to destroy the symbol of Christian fellowship, portrayed by the far more appropriate fir-tree? We are assailed throughout the rest of the year with the symbol of death – the cross – so how can this be any worse? Who would have done such a thing?

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Review: The Curvy Girls Club

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 17, 2014 in Articles and Reviews |

You might just as well give up right now, don’t even think about it, don’t seek any remedies; retreat back into your hole, under your stone, and regret everything. Look at it this way: you’re over thirty; you have one or two children who take up all of your time; that baby-fat is there to stay; shopping for clothes has you looking for the tent department. All the pretty little things dive out of your way, for fear of injury, when you hit the dance floor and every single chair you settle down into squeezes your thighs together into a pork roast waiting for the oven, while the chair itself lets out a deep, unsettling groan. The world is made for skinny people, people who can wear skinny jeans, drink skinny drinks, eat skinny meals and, above all, fit in skinny sizes from Top Shop. Life is filled with running after the children, checking the mirror for another wrinkle, cakes and pastries and that latest diet to try to lose one, maybe even two of those extra pounds. The world is no longer made for those sporting a Rubens figure, society and fashion are thin.

For some this opening paragraph is a fact of life, they are faced with the restrictions of their added weight, those few extra pounds about the waist, every single day. Bathroom scales are a thing of the past, an enemy. Shopping is a torture of beautiful fashion, made too small. Public transport is the hope of a double seat. Some people, it is fair to say, allow society to dictate how they should look, how they should feel, and whether they should be happy with themselves as they are. The Curvy Girls Club is something else again: a small group of four who decide that there must be more to life than constant dieting, worrying about their weight, sitting on the sidelines and watching everyone else have all the fun. It is time for a change, they decide, and what better way but to break with social conventions and set up their own club for the larger woman – and one or two men.

Viktoria Michaelis: Cookie

Photo Credit: scomedyCreative Commons

Michele Gorman’s latest work is, indeed, a feel-good work, a story of a small group of people who not only wish for something, but go out and grab it, grab life by the horns and make it work. They see that there is a need for something new, something which captures the imagination, the needs, of other women who, like them, are slightly larger than the social norm. At the same time it is hardly something which just works: Gorman’s writing is true to life, covering all the pitfalls, the arguments, the mistakes of life as the story flows across the page. The humor is something every single reader – skinny or plump – can appreciate, from the comic one-liner through to the biting, the heart-wrenching jokes about weight, fashion, even everyday work. We are shown lives governed by the acceptance of the skinny as being ideal, as being better – and the predominance of male governance in the workplace – as well as the difficulties of everyday life away from a desk and telephone. We live the arguments, appreciate the reality, sigh and laugh with the characters in each new situation. But for the grace of God, and those tempting cakes on the dessert trolley, go we.

Whilst this book is filled with humor, it also brings a massive slice of reality with it: the restrictions within the workplace; in a theater; a restaurant. What we take for granted in our everyday lives is an obstacle for some, without them needing to be disabled in any way, they are still labeled, pushed into a pigeonhole and condemned, simply because of their size. At the same time this reality is not pushed on the reader, we come to see it almost subconsciously, recognizing the truth of our lives and what we see, experience all the time, against the reality other people live through. Daily realities which some of us, sad to say, promote and support.

Amusing, light and refreshing, Michele Gorman’s The Curvy Girls Club is a good and most enjoyable read, even for those not yet thinking about that first child, career prospects after childbirth, desserts or the problems of settling, permanent baby fat or the future after that sumptuous thirtieth birthday party.

Published by Avon Books. ISBN: 978 0 00 758562 5

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This title was supplied by the Publisher for review.

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Review: Iron Kingdom

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 16, 2014 in Articles and Reviews |

As everyone who has spent more than ten minutes in a classroom knows, history is a boring subject packed with dates and names which have to be learned by heart so that, at the end of the year, everything can be regurgitated on an exam paper. The textbooks given out are bland, filled with maps and the occasional portrait, and seem to whisk the reader through hundreds of years as if it were a forty-five minute lecture. It is hard enough finding interest for current events, when so much information is available, the older periods of history, when history was really in the making, are often just too much.

For anyone with this attitude, yes, you’re probably right, history teaching misses out a great deal, cuts corners, doesn’t go into any real depth in the early stages of school life and, as such it is a boring subject. If someone like Christopher Clark was writing the school textbooks, though, it might be a completely different matter. He brings the reader, even over a great period of recounted time, into a land, into a period with such skill that the long-dead seem to spring to life once more, populating the page with figures we can almost see, can feel, can relate to.

Viktoria Michaelis: Prussia, Preußen, Frederick, Germany

Photo Credit: michael.berlinCreative Commons

With Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 it is no different. Clark brings the dry facts of a period long ago in a foreign land to life with his writing style, his capturing of the times and customs. All the names and dates are there, but far more too: there are insights into character, into motivation, into the political and social pressures facing not only those in the higher echelons, but also those on the ground. We are allowed an insight, a form of understanding of how a situation came about, the problems involved, the greed as much as fear involved. Clark writes with a style which could be akin to fiction, were it not for the fact that we know all these events took place, and can place ourselves within the context of the times. His books are not a dry recounting of dates and names, but living recollections of a period which shaped, in this case, European thinking, politics and the geography of a continent, as well as influencing the tactics and prejudices of modern generations.

Anyone lost within the desert of a textbook on Prussia, on the relationship between the Austro-Hungarian Empire, France, the slowly forming might of Germany, Russia and Great Britain can lay their textbooks momentarily to one side and delve into a real, livid account of this historical period which, when those end of term exams rear their heads, enlivens the understanding as much as the retelling.

Published by Allen Lane / Penguin. ISBN: 978 0 014 029334 0.

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Sharing: In Sickness And In Health

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 15, 2014 in Personal |

I just love the generosity of other people, especially when they have something to share that you don’t really want, but have no way of refusing. By this I don’t mean that third toaster at a wedding, or the reindeer pullover Aunt Maud knitted for your twentieth birthday which fits one arm but not the other and makes Rudolf look like a drunken sot rather than red-nosed.

We had one this week: a case of unwanted sharing with all and sundry. He sat in the middle of the lecture hall, surrounded, as the hour went on, by an increasing pile of used paper tissues, coughing, spluttering and generally disturbing everyone else with sneezes and wheezes and sprays of something I do not wish to either describe nor think about. Such generosity should go rewarded, but it is unlikely in this case. I pity those who sat near him, at the beginning of the lecture, and can well understand those same people who, as the talk continued, gathered their few belongings together and moved far, far away.

Viktoria Michaelis: Mask, Health, Surgical Mask

Photo Credit: pouchinCreative Commons

Although, I suspect, by then it was too late. I do not doubt we will have a few more people sniffling into their work towards the weekend, having caught the bug so freely passed on.

I’m inclined to say that the lecture was not so important, he could have missed it without any problems, if he had been someone else. The thing is, he’s missed other lectures, in good health, for whatever reason, but chose to come to this one carrying the bug which could lay all low. Added to which, I doubt that he caught much of what was said anyway, with all the noise he was making.

Hopefully I was far enough away from me, I tend to sit towards the front in the hope of catching some extra inspiration, some nuance which can’t be seen from the cheap seats. How far and how quickly can these bugs travel? At least I now know why so many Japanese people wear masks wherever they go, even when they’re not in Tokyo trying to find an oxygen machine.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Courage: Death On Your Own Terms

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 14, 2014 in News & Opinion |

Brittany Maynard has, for some people decided to take the easy way out: she has planned her own death for November 1, and already has the medication to carry it through. She is suffering from cancer and will die sooner rather most people would wish and, if the diagnosis is correct, her death would not be a pleasant one.

No one, I heard recently, has the Right to die. We all have the right to live, as best we can, but are not allowed, in many parts of the world, to choose our own means of death or the date on which we take our lives. Suicide is still a crime, because life is considered precious and, of course, irreplaceable.

Already she has been called a coward, a person who is weak and taking the easy way out of a situation she can have no control over. She should, it has been suggested, hang on in there and simply suffer until the light finally goes out. She should die a gruesome death in a hospital bed or out on the street, with pain.

Suicide can be called a coward’s way out, but not in this case. Brittany Maynard is in full control of her senses, at the moment, not depressed, not facing any major obstacles in life which might otherwise be sorted out, brought back to rights. She has made a considered decision based on the facts, on her limited future, and has decided to die in a controlled, painless manner with family and friends. There is nothing cowardly about this decision. She is a young woman, at twenty-nine, who would otherwise have everything to live for, given the time. Time, however, is not on her side as far as life is concerned, she has a few months before the pain begins, before she begins to lose her senses, before she becomes a burden to someone else.

Not everyone can do it, make such a decision and with care and forethought. Brittany Maynard has, however, done it with bravado and consideration for those around her. She is not a coward, she is someone who has accepted her fate and is stepping in towards it the best way that she can.

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Lecrae Moore: It’s A Bad Argument

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 13, 2014 in News & Opinion |

Let me get one thing straight before I even begin: I have no problem when someone wishes to follow a religion, regardless of which one it may be, or no religion at all. Each to their own: we’re pretty much all adults and should be able to make our own decisions. I also have no problem when someone wishes to justify their belief, although I don’t think any justification should be necessary; for me a justification is a sign that the person is not comfortable with their belief and needs to convince themselves as much as anyone else. I do, though, have a problem with those who wish to foist their religion – as the one true and only, barring all others – on everyone that they meet. Religion is not for me, belief yes, but not a dogmatic ritual which tells me exactly what I must believe and how I should go about demonstrating it. Even so, it was with some interest that I read Lecrae Moore’s interview about Christianity, and it brought a few thoughts to mind.

Viktoria Michaelis: Religion

Photo Credit: jaci XIIICreative Commons

In the interview certain portions of what he had to say about his belief have been highlighted within the text. One example is:

It was a win for the culture…

something that I can only agree with in a very limited sense. It was a win for culture, most certainly, allowing some of the most beautiful creations in architecture and art to exist based on the various legends Christianity gives us, many of which are also caught up within other religions too. Without this outburst of beauty we would, indeed, live in a very poor world. But a win for the culture? There, I’m afraid, I have to strongly disagree.

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Art: In The Eye Of The Beholder

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 12, 2014 in Personal |

What is it that constitutes art? I have seen so many different installations, paintings, models and sundry other things which are harder to classify recently and where, in some cases, I wasn’t sure whether the work was actually a work of art, or simply something thrown together which the public should accept as art. How do we define what a work of art is and who can be called an artist? Is there a set form, or can anyone who sticks pieces of Lego together be called an artist? Can they, more to the point for the individual, earn money with whatever it is that they’ve stuck together?

Viktoria Michaelis: Art

Photo: Viktoria Michaelis – Syke Vorwerk

Today I was at an art exhibition in Syke which had a very broad mixture of different styles and forms. I can say that many of the pieces were clearly, for my taste, works of art, but there were others where I just wondered. For example: there was a hammock strung between two walls with a fan blasting cold air into the room and three (fake) puddles of water beneath. I can understand this as an installation, where there is some form of explanation, but is it also art? Does it tell the viewer something? Or, in this case, could I string up a hammock in my garden and charge an entry fee for other people to see it, to marvel at it, to seek some form of meaning behind its presence?

Love & Kisses, Viki

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It Seems Like An Age Ago

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 11, 2014 in Personal |

There are times when I don’t recognize my own writing. I don’t mean my handwriting, although that can be hard enough at times, but those things I wrote here, or as a short story, several years ago. Sometimes my writing style, the words I use, the ideas behind a blog post, behind a story or an extract, seem to have stemmed from the pen of a completely different person. Of course we all change with time, we all learn new expressions and we all communicate in a different fashion with the passage of time; we are all evolving, learning from each new day, each new experience. There are so many influences in the world, both good and bad, that it is hard not to pick up something from someone else, a small mannerism, a new word, and especially new ideas.

Viktoria Michaelis: Notebook

Photo Credit: Silvia SalaCreative Commons

When I go back through the many notes I have made, either in my small pocketbook or on the laptop, I see words which are strange to me. I have often just jotted down a thought or two, left out the meaning, hoping to be able to come back to that one moment, have it fresh in my mind again, at some later date. This rarely works. The image that I had then, whenever it was, is no longer fresh, no longer immediate. It is much the same, looking over some of my posts here, when I see a title and then wonder what it was all about. I read through the text and a form of memory comes back to me, but I am often left wondering about the person I was back then, the person who has moved on from these thoughts and experiences and, or so it seems, now has a new life.

Sometimes I come across to myself as having been very naive, very trusting, very simple, even. I remember my joy at coming here, to Germany, and my keenness to experience absolutely everything as quickly as possible. I remember many of the impressions that I gained then, but they are no longer as clear in my mind. Of course the photographs I shot back then, when I was far more active with my camera, help. The words, though, what do they have for meanings now? What are words worth when the memory they bring back is still misty, still clouded by the passage of time? This is what I am experiencing at the moment, as I work my way back into writings I had begun, and then had to drop during my return to the United States. There are new thoughts, of course, new ideas, but the original is no longer there. Time, I think to begin again, from the very beginning of each work, each story, and craft them anew.

That is the good thing about words: they create a picture for someone else, someone who has never been there when used properly. I just wish that I could see those images with the same freshness that another person experiences, and lose myself within the created worlds, the events, the characters as easily.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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