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Rail Carriages For Women Only

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 28, 2016 in News & Opinion |

There has been some comment about new carriages for women only on German trains – I may well have mentioned it earlier in another post – and the suggestion that this has come about exclusively because of the number of refugees arriving in Germany over the last year or so. The exclusive carriages have caused those with less information to jump on the refugee problem and claim that there have been countless attacks on women, because of the manner in which they dress and act in the West, and this change is to protect them. Some have even gone so far as to claim that all German trains now have exclusive carriages.

Those with less information, I write, and with good reason: it is often the case that people jump on a band wagon or take a news headline and construct their own agenda, especially in a matter as delicate as integration, multiculturalism and immigration. It is a good point for those fighting to prevent immigration and immigrants, especially in an election period.

Women's Carriages

Screenshot Source: Rajendra B. Aklelar / Twitter

For those who haven’t managed to further their low level of facts yet, increase their knowledge or even bothered to read what they have written and said in the light of reliable sources: there are women only carriages on some local rail services in Germany. The ones which came into the news recently were in Leipzig, and clearly the rail company involved didn’t do too good a job of explaining why they are there.

The above image is from a women only carriage in India. I wonder, just as an aside, whether India has the same immigration level Germany does, or the USA and UK fear.

In the USA there are so-called quiet carriages. Did these come about because of immigrants? Perhaps it was the shrill laughter and antics of gays and transgender? Or perhaps because there are some people who wish to sit in peace and quiet during their train journey without all the normal hectic and noise of, say, a minor politician with his entire entourage shouting into a cell phone or a local football team’s fans celebrating a match. Perhaps those in Germany came about so that women could simply sit in peace and quiet, or with their children, and enjoy their journey too, bearing in mind that the problem, regardless of whether sexual or otherwise, is not the immigrant, but the man, no matter where he may have been born.

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Gender: Let Books Be Sexist

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 16, 2016 in Publishing |

Books are good, and we should promote them for children as much as for adults, of that there can be no doubt. They help educate us, tell us about society – not only our own – and can form our lives as much as take us into other worlds.

Coloring books are, apparently, a thing at the moment. There are special ones for adults being produced which have, apparently, topped the bestseller lists in some countries. Why not? There is no need to confine subject areas to one small group, and who doesn’t remember the fun we had as children…

Brilliant Boys and Girls

Screenshot Source: Let Toys Be Toys / Twitter

But is there a separation between what is right for a male child as opposed to what is right for a female child? Are some titles, and their contents, furthering the gender gap between male and female?

Without a shadow of a doubt there are also beautiful boys out there and, I am sure all will agree, many, many brilliant girls. Perhaps the publishers of these two titles, shown above, will be bringing them out in their next wave of publications.

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Photography: Here’s Looking At You…

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 15, 2016 in Photography |

How many generations have been told to learn about themselves before they start mixing in the lives of others? How many times have we, and our forefathers, been told that we need to look inside our own hearts to find an answer to something which is bothering us, or to place ourselves in another person’s shoes?

I, Lucy Snowe

Photo Source: Caroline RCreative Commons

I ask these fairly simply questions, which I believe everyone can answer, in an effort to combat the continued condemnation of those who photograph themselves. Not that I am claiming shooting selfies is a way of finding your inner child, but it is definitely a method of looking at yourself, of seeing how other people see you, at least on the surface. What you see, they say, is what you get.

Me and you and everyone we know

Photo Source: Ale AleCreative Commons

Although this is, of course, untrue. What you see on the surface is just that: a surface; an outer shell, not the core of a person, not their inner worth, their thoughts or emotions. True, the emotions can be shown in a person’s face, in their reactions, in their habits and outward beliefs, but it is not the person themselves.

I have no idea

Photo Source: Jamelah ECreative Commons

Perhaps the art of taking self-portraits is simply one means of learning more about yourself, about beginning the journey inwards. If I can see what other people see of me, then I can begin to understand what I represent to them, how I come across to them and the reason why they react in a certain manner when I do or say something.

My grandma just told me...

Photo Source: MahnoorrajaCreative Commons

Self portraits are hardly something new: who hasn’t stood before van Gogh’s self-portrait and wondered about the artist himself? Who hasn’t asked themselves what it was that made him self-harm? Who, talking to someone they know, hasn’t wondered why their reaction to our words is not what we had expected, but influenced by what they see in our facial expression or body language?

I put a spell on you

Photo Source: DjulietCreative Commons

Of course, with the ease with which we can shoot these self portraits and upload them to the Internet, it is possible to say we are overdoing the self-exploration, or that it is really not search for the inner child simply because only the outer shell is shown. Is that a reason to condemn it, though? Just because we can produce these self portraits at a greater rate than van Gogh, because we can reach a far wider audience and that almost immediately?

And these self portraits are far more than just a narcissistic capturing of our outward appearance; they are memories of who we are and where we have been. The photographer no longer stands unseen behind the camera, but is a part of the whole. I was there, and this is me. They may not last as long as a van Gogh, but can say just as much about us as any masterpiece. And perhaps, one day, they will lead us on to considering our true feelings, our reactions in certain circumstances, our inner selves.

One thing is for certain: self portraits as selfies are here to stay, because everyone is fascinated by themselves, whether they like what they see or not.

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The Perfect Way To Start An Email

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 14, 2016 in Internet |

Never a truer Tweet was written: for those of us, and I belong to a small group who are almost fanatical about such things, a mail is not the way to go. Letter writing is the thing: real letters, on paper, through the post, from one person to another.

Twitter

Screenshot Source: Independent / Twitter

Admittedly it is not always possible in our hectic business world, but for some things you really should take the time and do it properly. Sit down, away from your computer, take a pen in hand, and write the thoughts you wish to express with care and attention. Then, unlike with the Independent’s Tweet, you won’t need to worry about deleting it – or not being able to delete it once it’s gone out – but can correct any mistakes.

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Increase Your Sales Tenfold!

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 14, 2016 in Internet |

My mail spam filter is good. Despite having to set it up again when I moved from one computer to another, since few software companies have yet come up with a sync program or a means to transfer such information from one computer to the next – unlike Firefox and some aspects of Android. Even so, the filter works and I did not receive the first two – of three – spam mails I am going to make fun of today.

They all come from an Internet company which claims it can, through an advertising program, increase your sales tenfold. A wonderful idea which probably appeals to many business people, until the cost of such a program is taken into account. My dealings with this company, however, didn’t get to the cost stage at all, and for good reasons.

Hi Webmaster,

I was on viktoriamichaelis.com today and we’re very interested in pursuing an advertising partnership with you.  Are you free for a phone call sometime this week?

Best,

Larissa

Most people will be able to see the problem at once, especially when it comes to working with this website.

Call Center

Photo Source: GreyweedCreative Commons

Larissa, if that is really the spammer’s name, calls me Webmaster. Now, I do not have a problem with being called such, but do not think that anyone who is in the business of marketing themselves or their product should use it. Why not? Because it shows clearly that no research has been done. My name is very clear, on every single post and, of course, in the site name too. It can’t be that hard to put two and two together, especially if someone really was on the site. Since there is also no request for a telephone number, I should be able to assume that the person writing to me has done their research and has the number already; perhaps from a business registry? In this case, however, everyone who knows anything about me, and it has been mentioned many times over the years, also knows that I do not answer the telephone, and that for very good reasons. So, clearly no research, a Cold Call Mail.

Hello Webmaster,

Last month, over 100 [redacted] partners earned 10X their previous revenue and tracked a 40% increase of site engagement.

We last left the discussion on how implementing our technology on your site can help you earn more revenue.

You can also learn more about at [redacted]

Cheers,
Larissa

Here we go with the figures, but still not addressed to a person by name. No research. And we last left the discussion? I don’t think so. Discussion implies that several people are actually talking one with another, and that is certainly not the case here. There was also nothing in the first spam mail about implementing technology. So, a non-discussion with no content.

Hello Webmaster,

I haven’t heard back from you and that tells me one of three things:

1. You’re already making so much money that making more does not interest you – and if that’s the case please let me know so I can stop bothering you.
2. You’re still interested but haven’t had time to get back to me yet.
3. You’ve fallen and can’t get up – in that case, let me know and I’ll call 911.

Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry. Thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing from you.

Cheers,
Larissa

This final mail attempts to put a more personal, humorous slant on the whole, and goes so far as to include the first two mails which I had not replied to, or seen. If we really were in some form of conversation then it would fit fine, we might almost have formed a business relationship, which would make such comments more appropriate. However.

Am I making so much money that I don’t need to make any more? Let’s do the Math. This is a non-commercial site with no advertising and creates an income of nothing. Ten times that income would hardly be a staggering increase in revenue.

Am I still interested? I wasn’t interested in the first place.

And the humor. Yes, fine, if we knew one another the little joke about calling 911 might border upon acceptable. The most basic of research, however, would show that I am in Germany, and the number for the appropriate services is 112.

Spammers have a long way to go before they reach the dizzy depths of telemarketers, who at least have a telephone number and a name to go with it. But my spam filter is a little like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, and we all know what it said.

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Journalism: Changing Our Understanding

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 13, 2016 in News & Opinion |

There was a fire in the neighborhood last weekend, a barn next to one of the local hotels caught fire on the morning following a holiday day when many people go out and celebrate Father’s Day. In Germany we celebrate both but in completely different fashions: on the one the women get breakfast in bed, the other the men go out and drink.

Since the fire started in the early hours of the morning following this alcohol-rich day, it was fair to assume that one of the partygoers slept off his excesses in the building and, somehow, managed to set the whole building in flames. An action which he did not survive; one could assume because he was still too drunk to appreciate what was happening, or to make his escape.

A few days later the newspaper changed its story slightly, putting a completely different light on the whole affair: the owner of the hotel died in the flames. Apparently he had discovered the fire and went in to the building to try to extinguish it, was overcome by smoke and died as a result.

House Fire

Photo Source: Patrick CumbyCreative Commons

One small piece of information which puts a new perspective on the whole story. A sad outcome, to be sure,  regardless of who died, but a storyline which brought people to other thoughts by being incomplete. Sometimes a single word can make the difference, whether it is a tragic fire, such as this, or a political campaign elsewhere.

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Too Much Of A Good Thing

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 12, 2016 in News & Opinion |

It is hard to come to terms with those who enter into the business world and almost demand that it gives them a living. It is harder to come to terms with those who have little or no understanding of the way the consumer world – from the wholesaler right down to the customer – works, with supply and demand.

Farmers, it is fair to say, work exceptionally hard and we would be in a bad state without them. Even so, there are times when I wonder whether they are living in the same world as I am. Not so long ago, dairy farmers greeted the dropping of quotas, where each farm could only produce and sell a certain quantity of milk. Now they are complaining about the price being offered and paid for their milk. The price they are receiving is less than the actual cost of production. Any price rises in the shops does not benefit them at all, it goes straight into the pockets of store owners and wholesalers. So, to cover the lower prices being paid them, it seems as if some dairy farmers are taking advantage of the lack of quotas, and producing more milk.

Milk

Photo Source: Mike MozartCreative Commons

There is a demand for milk and milk products, of that there can be no doubt. The problems lie with some of the so-called Discount Stores who, buying tens of thousands of liters of milk every day, have a good deal of power to negotiate better prices for themselves. Their argument is that they need to retain market position against stiff competition, and customers do not wish to pay higher prices.

The fact is, customers would pay the higher price if there was no choice, and have done so in the past. There is simply so much milk available that the milk producers have placed themselves in a losing position: they are also faced with stiff competition from other dairy farmers keen to bring their produce onto the market, and with no other choice but to sell at a lower price or lose their production completely.

Rather than complain, farmers should look at reducing production, so that supply comes closer to demand, and thus force the price back up to ensure a profit margin. The main word here is Should, because, to date, none of them have suggested cutting back on production. Rather, they are insisting that the government step in a subsidise their production with taxpayers money.

Sometimes people should look to their own actions before demanding change – or support – from others.

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Germany: The Day Of Work

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on April 30, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

Anyone can claim that Americans are strange, and be perfectly correct, but should remember that everyone in foreign countries is strange, according to their own traditions and customs. Wherever we travel, we find the curious and startling simply because things are different, and we’re not used to that. Settled in our ways, some believe everyone does the same as we do, and are surprised, if not startled, when they discover that this is not so.

Some things, though, are much the same: there is a Day of Work in Germany – on May 1 – just the same as in other European counties, and in the United States, when people do not work. Theoretically. Naturally there are always people working, otherwise we couldn’t enjoy our day of not working. And this year, in Germany, that has been a problem.

Maypole

Photo Source: Stuart ChalmersCreative Commons

You see, May 1 falls on a Sunday. That means that those people who would normally celebrate with a free day are having to celebrate their free day on a day when they would be free from work anyway, and this has angered some. How can it be, they ask, that a holiday falls on a day when we cannot take a holiday? And so there have been objections: a small but vocal movement of dissatisfied people demanded that the May 1 holiday should be celebrated with a free day on May 2. Otherwise, they appear to be saying, it simply isn’t fair.

Now, if employers started complaining that May 1 fell on a weekday, when the workplaces would otherwise be full, and that they had to pay their workers for not being at work, everyone would claim undue pressure and the breaking of a tradition. Or, if employers decided that, since May 1 is on a Monday workers should work the Sunday… You get the idea.

In this small town May 1, with its Maypole, is being celebrated today, so that no one is hungover on May 2 and misses work through ‘illness’. Another non-work day…

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Living In Interesting Times

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on April 26, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

I was convinced by others that I ought to watch, much against my will, a television program recently. And I am glad, even though I have no intention of following through and purchasing such a device, that I succumbed to the temptation. Occasionally, as we all know, there are things of interest within things which are not of interest, and television is one of those Things. The bulk, as far as I am concerned, of what is projected into countless living rooms is worthless, a complete waste of time. Just, now and then, something manages to get through the mire. In this case it was a program about the hidden archives of erotica worldwide, and the fanatical collecting lust of some of those private people who search for and hoard such things.

In fact, it has been a weekend of interesting events, many of which were also very strange. In this television program I learned, for example, that a museum has a marble statue of a hermaphrodite – male below, female above – and has carefully positioned the lying figure so that the ‘below’ is facing a wall and cannot be seen. From the rear, where the bulk of passersby would view it, everything appears female, just the male part is effectively censored.

Hermafrodita

Photo Source: Ferbr1Public Domain

I also learned that the biggest archive of erotica, which is not open to the public, is in the Vatican. Quite aside from a picture of God’s Ass in the Sistine Chapel – which we all knew about, right? – they have a massive collection of books and art work which appears on their Index of works not suitable for the world – or their religious world. And they also have another collection which may come as something of a surprise: the world’s largest collection of marble penises.

How did they come by this? Back in the day it was considered normal for certain religious people to smash this small part of many Greek and Roman statues off, to preserve the sensibilities of those who cannot admit that the human being has sexual organs. But what should they do with all the amputated parts? For some reason it was decided to keep them, separate from their source, in the Vatican. A massive cupboard full of male bits. So, next time you hear someone talking about a bag of dicks, or similar, you know who has the biggest bag.

And finally, from this small excursion into the realms of art, the most popular question posed to the Curator by American tourists visiting the Musee d’Orsay?

Why are all the statues nude?

Hard to answer, without going into social details which would probably blow the minds of most sexually conservative North Americans.

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Stuff Your Global Warming

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on April 24, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

It’s the start of spring over here, and we have had several hours of sunshine to prove it. Everywhere the flowers are beginning to bloom, the trees are taking on the first of many shades of green and there is a fresh, revitalizing smell in the air. Except when the local farmers spread their muck, of course, but luckily it’s not one of those days today.

No, today is one of those days when I feel like finding that one person who named our weather changes Global Warming, take him by the hand, and wrench his arm out of its socket before beating him over the head with the soggy end.

Snowflake

Photo Source: aotaroCreative Commons

Why couldn’t he have gone for Climate Change like any normal, sensible person? Then we wouldn’t have to listen to all the bleatings of those who claim there is no change in our climate, that everything is as it should be – and if not, well, then that’s the way God wants it – and you just need to look out the window to see the truth.

If we’d had Climate Change from the start, then no one would have to listen to the ‘told you so’ arrogance of those who see that today, April 24, during the spring celebrations here in town, it is snowing.

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