On Politics

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you saw the image/link I shared. It’s from Anti-Rebuplican Crusaders by the way of Re-Elect President Obama and shared by someone on my friend’s list. The image features a picture of and quotes George Clooney. The quote goes:

I’m disillusioned by the people who are disillusioned by Obama, quite honestly, I am. Democrats eat their own. Democrats find singular issues and go, ‘Well I didn’t get everything I wanted.’

I’m a firm believer in sticking by and sticking up for the people you’ve elected.

If (Obama) was a Republican running, because Republicans are better at this, they’d be selling him as the guy who stopped 400,000 jobs a month from leaving the country. They’d be selling him as the guy who saved the auto-industry. If they had the beliefs, they’d be selling him as they guy who got rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ who got Osama bin Laden. You could be selling this as a very successful three years.

– George Clooney

Now, let me start by setting something straight: I’m not an anti-Republican crusader. I’m certainly not a Republican, either. On the contrary. But as the old quote goes: I may disagree with you, but I will fight for your right to have your beliefs/opinion/etc.

But I do think that Clooney has a point. I think that there is way too much mudthrowing in politics these days (also in Denmark) instead of acknowledging the actual accomplishments – and it overshadows the actual accomplishments. I honestly think that if the oppositions spent their energy on what they stand for and cooperate on what they actually agree upon (environmental issues, anyone?) instead of denying that there is actually something they agree with their opposing parties upon (12 minutes extra per day, five days a week or an extra hour per week of labor? Anyone?) or trying to trip their opposing parties in order to maintain their own or get (back) into a position of power, politics would be so much more effective as well as attractive. So much more would be done, and people like myself wouldn’t give up on political activity as easily or find the news so uninteresting and discouraging.

To be honest, I am one of those who was quickly disappointed after the latest election in Denmark (efterløn – anyone at all?). But I tend to forget three of the initial and instant accomplishments of that election:

  1. We elected our first female Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
  2. We changed the political color, thus having a left-wing government after a decade with a right-wing government.
  3. Every time I start feeling the disappointment sneaking in, I always think of what the alternative could be, and think that at least we’re going somewhat in the right direction by now.

Win-win-win!

Another thing I just realized was that they haven’t even been governing for 100 days yet (although we are almost there – the election was on September 15th), and I remember being puzzled by the people criticizing Obama for not accomplishing what he set out to accomplish before or about the time when his 100 first days had gone by. So this is also a note to self about just taking a step back, chill out, and give the politicians a bit of space to do their thing.

I do see the point that there sometimes may be a need for “watchdogs”, but there is a difference between keeping people to their word and throwing mud at them. Parts of that difference are respect, reason, and common sense. And may I add to that that it takes more than 100 days to get through some things and more than one electoral period to get other things through? Just sayin’. With the risk of coming off defensive, I can also inform the uninformed that the Danish system isn’t just bipartial (although it’s usually the leader of the Social Democrats on the left and the leader of the Liberal Party on the right who goes head to head for the position of Prime Minister); the Danish system is multipartial, meaning that a government usually consists of at least two parties who have to agree upon a government platform to govern from – thus naturally compromises have to be in the mix. As for now, we have the Social Democrats, lead by Thorning-Schmidt, flanked by the Social Liberals on the right and the Socialist People’s Party on the left having to govern from their platform while the Red-Green Alliance are yanking their chain from the far left. This also gives me reason to think that we might have to add about a week or so to the 100 days, as that was the time it took the three parties to agree upon a mutual platform to govern from.

You’re asking who I voted for? Well – that’s for us all to know, but for me to write a separate post on. If you know me well you already know, if you know me and the Danish parties you may be able to guess, and frankly I don’t think my confused pile of evenly confused thoughts on that subject fits into this post.

Parliamentary Election – finally!

http://politiken.dk/newsinenglish/ECE1372153/election-september-15th/

So the Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has called for parliamentary (general) election about 2½ hours ago. The election is on Thursday, September 15th – thus only three weeks from now.

There has been press meetings with both PM Løkke and the leader of the opposition, Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrats. Thorning-Schmidt had some beautiful points in her speech, generally centered around finding common ground and cooperating across the middle. There has been comments from a lot of politicians, and I find that the best comments have been from politicians from the left wing.

But there still is mudthrowing. I’m not 100 % certain whether or not it’s because I haven’t followed the news as well as I could, but it seems like several politicians are throwing mud at the opposition, thus making them look bad enough to have the voters not wanting to elect the opposition. But listening to politicians from the opposition, I have heard some of them do the exact same thing. In periods it just seems to be throwing mud and pointing fingers across the board – which is the very reason why I can’t take politics seriously and don’t always trust politicians, even within my own party.

As it is right now, the present government believes that they have the responsible solution for our economy – and the opposition will only leave us in uncontrollable debt. But the opposition seems to think the exact same thing: that they have the responsible solution, and the present government will only ruin us in the end.

I have no idea who is right. I’m not an economist. Personally I think it’s very unpredictable (I find that the most trusworthy understandable/agreeable statement on that point came from Bertel Haarder (V) – yeah, I know, that’s actually a surprise coming from me – that, as I understood him, we can’t know whether to invest now or later, depending on whether the economic crisis continues or not). But I think that the statements and comments from the left wing seem to be the most uplifting.

To those who know me, it’s not surprising that my vote will be placed somewhere on the left wing (thus indirectly to Thorning-Schmidt as the first female PM of Denmark). I agree that we should all take part the load – and those who have more should give more. When the present government made their tax cuts, I suddenly had 500 kr. (≈US $97/GB £60/€67) extra available per month – and that’s a lot to a student. But I would go without them in an instant if it meant paying off national debt and better conditions for those who have less than I do (and remember that taxes in Denmark pay for neat stuff like free education and free health care, thus free visits to the doc and the hospitals).

I genuinely do hope for cooperation across the line – I find that the entire block politics, mud-throwing, finger-pointing thing is ridiculous. It’s seen that two parties of each their color have similar opinions of what to do, and instead of focusing on cooperation, people focus on one party stealing the policy/ideaology of the other. I only have two things:

  1. Socialist People’s Party or The Red-Green Alliance?
    I’m a member of the former, but find that they have moved towards the middle, thus away from where I stand. Populist much? Oh well. At the same time, though, will the Red-Green Alliance get enough votes to matter? I do want to have a leftist PM!
  2. Villy Søvndal as Minister of Foreign Affairs?!
    Villy, honey, you’re the leader of my party, and I have a deep affection for you, but you need to practice your English.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, watch the following video. The speech itself is actually pretty good, and I do think that he gets his point through – but I have seen worse than this (although I’m not certain where).

Recipe: Vanilla cookies, v2

These are the cookies I brought for the rocktour with Brorson’s Church. I discovered too late that I used 350 g of butter instead of the 375 the original recipe called for – but it worked out perfectly in the end.

Vanilla wreaths/cookies can turn out to the dry side (as small cookies usually do) – but to me, there’s not much in the world of cookies that can’t be cured by being dipped in a cuppa tea or coffee (or whatever wonderful, drinkable liquid you’ve got in front of you).

The original recipe calls for hazelnuts or almonds – but since there was some experimenting with it even back then, I think it’s safe to make your own special tune and sing your own special song when it comes to kernels. (Edit: Experiment with the kernels of sunflower seeds turned out successfully).

Ingredients
550 g flour
350 g butter
250 g cashew nuts
160 g light cane sugar
3 teaspoons (-ish) vanilla sugar
1 egg

To-do

  • Blend the cashews – whether they should be chunky or fine is up to you.
  • Mix the flour, blended almonds, cane sugar, and vanilla sugar.
  • Fold in the egg as well as possible – you can rub it in if you find it necessary, but be warned that it doesn’t assemble all of the dry goods.
  • Rub in the butter (by now it should start sticking).
  • To make the cookies, take a piece of dough, roll it into a ball with a diameter of 1-1½ cm, and press it flat.
  • To make the wreaths, you can either use a mincer or roll it into small sausages and shape the wreaths from that.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 200º C (390º F) for 10-11 minutes.
  • Let them cool. Keep in airtight container (say, recycle an old ice cream container or somesuch).

The dough freezes well – so you can make “sausages”/“salamis” (app. 10 cm/4 inches in diameter) of leftover dough and freeze them. When you need more cookies, defrost a “salami” in the fridge overnight, cut it in slices (4-5 mm/one-fifth of an inch thick), and bake them according to the instructions above. If you are making the dough a day in advance, skip the freezing step, just pop it into the fridge.
Just remember that it’s easier to cut the dough straight from the fridge since the significant amount of butter in the dough does have a tendency to be a wee bit too far on the soft side if it isn’t cooled down first.

Enjoy!

Follow Friday #5: David Letterman and Roskilde Festival

On Follow Friday this week:
1. Introduction
2. Twitter: The Late Show with David Letterman
3. Roskilde Festival
4. Drop Me a Line.

I was just watching Letterman, and although it’s usually only on a week’s delay, they had a rerun of an episode from March starring Jennifer Aniston. This episode contained a bit and a top 10 on Twitter – so I thought I would check up on it.

Secondly, the Roskilde Festival ended on Sunday – so Monday (or at least sometime this week) would actually have been the proper day/week to start stalking following their planning yet again.

I think there is no doubt that David Letterman wasn’t too into in Twitter to start with – but finally gave in – so now rumor has it that he’s occasionally gives it up on the Late Show’s Twitteraccount, @Late_show.

Here he is, giving it up for the first time:

The Roskilde Festival is well over this year – and for you who were in contact with me around this time know that I didn’t go, contrary to what I said earlier this year. Finances were in question – being a student saving for a trip to New Zealand really tightens up the personal economy.

But now that it’s over, it’s just about time to obsess about what’s going to happen next year.
First of all, you can sign up for the newsletter (which I did a few years back).
You can do this by registrating on their website – link to registration form – where you can opt in on both e-mail newsletter and text messages on your phone. And not to worry if you haven’t worked as a volunteer – this is also an option in the drop-down menu as I write.
Second of all, you can subscribe to the RSS newsfeed.
I found the link on the front page, but here’s the link directing you straight to the feed. You can also dive right into the news archives at the website (where I found the link for the newsletter).
Third of all, check out the blogs on the website! Übercool!
Last, but not least, check them out on Twitter. You can find the festival itself on @orangefeeling – and you can check out relevant posts by going for the keywords #RF10 and #RF11.

I think that this is just what I needed; an RF break. Before this year’s festival, my brain didn’t really find finances and heat compatible with how I felt – but after checking blogs and the comment from Reverend Asser Skude (yes, him again – he was there in his cassock and ruff, helping out Morgencafeen, speaking the case of the homeless and being otherwise Reverend-esque in that subtle, National Church kind of waygood one on ya, mate! (disclaimer: photos snatched from an article at Kristeligt-Dagblad.dk)), I can’t wait to get back in the filth there. I’ll keep you posted.

Reactions? Suggestions? Questions? Requests? Comment/reply away.

Music Monday #4: Catching Up

On Music Monday this week:
1. Introduction
2. Favorite Listings
3. Etta Cameron homage
4. Top 5 Most Played Songs on Music Player
5. Drop me a line.

Finally, I took the time to catch up on things.

First of all, I promised to do a Brocktour-themed Music Monday. The idea was really to round up the bands I remember from the Rock Services in Brorson’s Church – and given that it has been a couple of months since then, and the latest passed Friday was the last Rock Service of the season, not only is there a bigger number of bands to pick of – it’s a perfect occassion to pick up on it.

Second of all, I thought I’d do a little homage to Etta Cameron, who passed away in March.

Starting out with the Brocktour (Brorson’s Rocktour) theme, I picked from what I remember from the Rock Services and Tours throughout my two years in Brorson’s Church:

Five Brock-bands never escaping my memory
LIPS (www.myspace.com/thelipsdk)
This is one of the two first bands I remember experiencing at a Rock Service. Actually, it’s the first one I remember clearly – perhaps mainly because the activity coordinator at the time, Loa, who was also on my first Brocktour (which was last year), is the singer of the band. The present activity coordinator, Ulrich, who was on my second tour (which was this year), is on the keys in the band.
They have a sort of dance/disco-quality to their music – and in spite of not being too crazy about too much reminding me of the 1980’s music-wise (with very few exceptions – I think I’ve been environmentally damaged in both directions), I actually like it!

Niepoort (www.myspace.com/niepoort)
Niepoort was the band who joined us for the Brocktour in 2009. It’s the first time I remember experiencing the accesability of a band like I did, although I often sensed it at other Rock Services with other bands. You just seem to get a better sense of people if you spend more time with them, I suppose.
As for their music, I remember them using a tiny megaphone to sing through at one of the songs, which gave a pretty nifty effect. Besides that, I find that the lead singer (Gustav Niepoort – another Dane with a Dutch last name!, I love! ;D) has a voice I’m not really sure how to describe, although I love it. Take a listen – can anyone help me coin a description?

Black Rose Trick (www.myspace.com/blackrosetrick)
Black Rose trick was with us at our latest Brocktour – and how great it was to experience! I’ll never forget blogging, tweeting, sorting photos, or napping to the sound of Guitar Hero in the salon in the back of the bus.
Listening to their recordings, they sound more ambient than they do live; albeit still having an ambient-like sound even then. Also, they do have some good hooks in their songs – which we were more than likely to be singing along to every night.

A Road to Damascus (www.myspace.com/aroadtodamascus)
In the end of March this year, our activity coordinator was down with a concussion. Our usual Reverend was off duty for some reason. And the band which was supposed to play had cancelled. But we were in luck – we had a previous temp taking the place of the activity coordinator, Reverend Asser Skude (who is known for his work for homeless people and running for Bishop of Copenhagen back in 2009) to take Per the Reverend’s place, and a voluntary who had a connection to A Road to Damascus, who were able to bring their energy to the Church.
And what energy! During a Rock Service, the band is situated in front of the altar, which is on a raised platform with two steps down to the floor of the rest of the Church. Not only did they perform from the platform, but also jumped down in front of it. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much energy from a band performing at any service in Brorson’s before!

Turnip Greens (www.myspace.com/turnipgreens)
I was really impressed with their sound – being really south state/R&B/country/blues-y; I never heard that in Brorson’s before, making Turnip Greens standing out in my memory for a long time to come.

Five songs never escaping my memory
White Pony: “Falling” (Watch @ YouTube)
I remember this song from the 2009 Brocktour. One of the volunteers couldn’t get it out of her head – especially the “There’s only one right side, and that’s the downside…” part – and she had to bless us by playing it out loud…
Black Rose Trick: “Black Water” (Listen @ MySpace)
This is one of the songs I was talking about in the space above – although some of us would by the end of the tour end up telling them to get the damn bird out of the water and get on with it.
The song is still on their page at the time this entry is published.
Black Rose Trick: “By the River” (Listen @ MySpace)
This one, though, I believe was the absolute favorite of the giv-et-år medarbejder (give a year employee) and I – singing along to the gorgeous “oo-ooh, a-ah-a-ah-ah, oo-ooh, aa-ah…”-hook. I still get into the spirit of the Brocktour when listening to it.
The song is still on their page at the time this entry is published.
Black Rose Trick: “On My Knees” (Listen @ MySpace)
Not only one, but two catchy “ooh”-based hooks was on the live version of this, as the lead singer had taken over the melody in the end of the song. But what caught me was the subject of being on one knees in front of a “Majesty” – which was the only word I caught of the song to start with, thinking of the higher powers as Majesties. And it still pops into my head for no reason whatsoever every now and then.
The song is still on their page at the time this entry is published.
A Road to Damascus: “Sweetheart” (Listen @ MySpace)
I have to admit that I was trying to find the song by Niepoort where Gustav was singing through the tiny megaphone – but couldn’t find it (so much for the song not escaping…). And again – ARtD to the rescue! This is not because they’re second to anyone – they are second to noone – they’re just that good (proven by the fact that I remember their energy and performance over the circumstances of the service they played at).
What strikes me about the song is that its vibe is opposite the vibe I got from the performance at the Rock Service – and yet it’s the one of the three on their MySpace page that illustrates their performing enery during the service.
The song is still on their page at the time this entry is published.

Etta Cameron Homage
Etta Cameron hat a decent part of gospel history in Denmark – even collaborating with one of the first idols of mine, Stig Rossen. Although I think I prefer gospel with her kind of voice, she did have a decent talent for jazz as well – proven in this video I found on YouTube.

There is a translation of what she says below the video.

“The music has been like medicine to me. I was so young when my mother died, and that was not that long after my father. And when I was very, very, very sad or scared, because I was alone, I just sang. No matter if it was jazz or it was gospel or blues or whatever. It’s something that I have always appreciated, and I always will. But it has meant medicine to me. Really. It was big, has always been big to me, the music.” – Etta Cameron.

Taped on Copenhagen Jazzhouse, aired on TV2 Charlie.

The Top 5 most played on my portable music player is as of right now:
1. “Slow Me Down” (Emmy Rossum)
2. “Teardrop (LP Version)” (Massive Attack)
3. “Come Around” (Timbaland feat. Mia)
4. “Walk This Way” (Aerosmith & Run DMC)
5. “Stay” (Emmy Rossum)

Got any reactions? Suggestions? Requests? Comment/reply away.

Happy St. John’s!

John the Baptist – in Danish: Johannes Døberen; the name Hans is derived from Johannes – is said to be born six months before Jesus (according to Luke 1), which is right around now (according to the date of Jesus’ birth set by… Who??… Oh well).

I’d love to explain to you the traditions of Denmark in my own words, but for once I think that another source is actually doing a better job:

It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings by visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today the water well tradition is gone. Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional, although bonfires are built in many other places where beaches may not be close by (i.e. on the shores of lakes and other waterways, parks, etc.) In the 1920s a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth (probably made by the elder women of the family) on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church’s witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the “witch” away to Bloksbjerg, the mountain ‘Brocken’ in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.

Holger Drachmann and P. E. Lange-Müller wrote a midsommervise (Midsummer hymn) in 1885 called “Vi elsker vort land…” (“We Love Our Country”) that is sung at every bonfire on this evening.

Source: Wikipedia: Midsummer –> Denmark (as of June 24th 2010 @ 2:50 AM)

Additionally, I remember many a midsummer bonfire where a firecracker has been put in the witch, making her scream as she was burned.

Bonfire at Blågårds Plads, Nørrebro, Copenhagen.

Happy St. John's!