Happy Hogswatchnight everybody!
maandag 24 december 2007
donderdag 20 december 2007
December 22 is World Orgasm Day. This is an event organized by Global Orgasm on Solstice Day 06:08 Universal Time (GMT), meaning at 07:08 in Belgium. The idea behind it is that everybody has an orgasm at the same time "to effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible instantaneous surge of human biological, mental and spiritual energy." During and after the orgasm you should concentrate your thoughts on peace. "The goal is to add so much concentrated and high-energy positive input into the energy field of the Earth that it will reduce the current dangerous levels of aggression and violence throughout the world" (R. Lynn, 2006).
The organizers cite three reasons for the event: peace, gender & social justice, and global warming. The well-being that an orgasm brings is seen as a good way to promote peace. "To combine the energy of orgasm with a conscious empathy for all beings, human and otherwise, would be a powerful boost to the well-being of our planet and species." "The planet needs a rest from all our other desires, so what better way to get us to take a rest from over-consumption than an orgasm?" Plus, overpopulation taxes the planet so they propose to have fewer offspring.
It is also a science project: the Global Consciousness Project "runs a network of Random Event Generators around the world which record changes in their randomness during global events." They postulate that concentrated consciousness has measurable effects, in the sense that our minds influence matter and quantum energy fields. So, instead of thinking typical masculine thoughts of power and control, they propose that we focus on our feminine traits of inclusion and partnership, especially during the collective orgasm.
Do I believe all of this? Don't know, but it never hurt anyone to have more orgasms. So, everybody grab your (a) partner (or help yourself) tomorrow morning for the sake of peace. If these guys are right you have helped promote social awareness. If they're wrong, at the least you will have a good start of the day.
zondag 16 december 2007
This morning I watched a documentary about a band called The Internationals during a trip in South Africa, a bit in the style of Buena Vista Social Club. One of the band members' roots lay there. He was there to discover the country and its music and the rest of the band came with him. This led me to check out their website and myspace page. The Internationals is an instrumental band that has a Jamaican ska sound. They reminded me of another Belgian band, Los Callejeros (mspage). They went to Cuba to film the documentary Cara o moneda and evolved into a loose collective that plays latin-reggae inspired music. From their friends page I got to a singer from Ghent called Gudrun Roos, who does their backing vocals. She is also the lead singer of Cafe Con Leche (more latin music) and Comptoir du Désir (swing, 30ies jazz). And this in turn lead to a great jazz vocalist called Rondi Charleston (website). The last person to add to this list, is a new soulsinger I first heard on Solar Radio, Nyee Moses. So, if you want to listen to some great music, just follow the links and enjoy.
woensdag 12 december 2007
It has taken blood, sweat & tears to get it done, but I am finally enrolled at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). As of today I am officially on my way to become a knowledge manager. The course is called Master after master in Business Information and Services Management (BI&SM). Sounds impressive, huh. I have done all my studies at the VUB (Master in Contemporary History and Master in Archival Science), so I am well aware of the inherent chaotic functioning of the institution. In general, this has always worked to my advantage. Now (since the Bologna changes) it was a bit less funny. The internal mail lost my application papers. As a result I had to apply for a late registration. Which took forever. The most annoying part was the lack of information. It took more than a month before getting any word on what was going on (including numerous e-mail reminders and the help of the head of my faculty). But, that's all water under the bridge now. I am registered. Now I can concentrate on the stress for the upcoming exams and writing a clear definition of what my master thesis will be about.
On a side note, The BI&SM used to be called Master in Business Information Management (BIM). They added the "Services" only recently. The professors still talk about the bim-people though when they want to differentiate between us and the students of another master with who we share some classes. This always reminds me of a track by C-Mon & Kypski (although it has absolutely nothing to do with it):
donderdag 6 december 2007
The Hogeschool Antwerpen (College of Antwerp) has organized a virtual exhibit of 40 works of two of their libraries called Het Boek Spreekt (The Book Speaks). As they put it, it is the result of a project of inventarisation of the documentary heritage found in the libraries of the departments of Dramatic Arts, Music and Dance, and (Audio)Visual Arts. You can browse through the different documents in a webbased viewer, and even listen to some music. Each item is accompanied by extra information about the author and the document itself. The exhibit is only in Dutch, but even just to have a look at the pictures it's worth a visit.
Scholars are in general, in their own specific way - well - nerds. Merriam-Websters defines a nerd as someone who is "socially inept", but also "slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits." It can be a shameful term (social ineptitude), as well as one to be worn with pride (dedication). I don't think anyone will be calling Bill Gates a nerd nowadays. Not in his face anyhow. The word geek is offered as a synonym. To me, a geek is one type of nerd. The other type tells something about the focus on certain bits of knowledge that are completely meaningless to anyone who does not share the same mindset. The number 42 doesn't mean a thing to the largest part of the world, but has a relative significance among a minority of readers. What I'm trying to say is that scholarly professionals like what they do, and they like the little geeky bits of information that go with it. When they see things that show a reflection of their profession, they tend to feel a certain connection with it.
Which brings me to my point. Archivists are no exception to this rule. They work in archives, do research about archival science, and take pride in their role as keeper of knowledge in the service of history. Images of archives (and libraries) appear from time to time in movies. Some very dedicated academics have found the time to make an extensive list of which ones on the site Archivalia. No doubt, their significant others find their dedication very endearing. Not that I'm putting them down, I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't dutifully surfed to their site when I read about it. :-)
maandag 3 december 2007
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, is a geopolitical, economic organization aimed at accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development among its members, and the promotion of regional peace and stability and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. On 8 August 1967 the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand signed the ASEAN Declaration (commonly known as the Bangkok Charter), which established the organization. Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984 about a week after becoming independant. During the nineties Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam followed suit. In the same period a free trade area was created, AFTA.
In 1997, the bloc began creating organizations within its framework with the intention of further integrating the region. In 2005 the first East Asia Summit (EAS) was held in Kuala Lumpur. This is a forum held annualy by the leaders of the ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand in order to improve the existing ties between these countries.
With the forming of the EAS, the idea arose to form a (Southeast) Asian Community. The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) was created to study the ramifications of such a policy and the possibility of an ASEAN Charter. With the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Charter on 12 December 2005 the EPG was assigned to produce a draft. On 23 November 2007, during the ASEAN Summit in Singapore, the charter was adopted to integrate the region as a legal organization bound by one set of rules. "The Asean charter establishes the group as a legal entity, creating permanent representation for members at its secretariat in Jakarta and committing heads of state to meetings twice a year. Members also adopted a blueprint for economic reforms designed to create a European-style economic community by 2015, with free-flowing goods, services, investment and skilled labor." It does not, however, have anything to say about human rights. "The charter only calls for a new agency to review human rights among the members of the 40-year-old Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The document gives the body no powers to punish violators - an apparent diplomatic victory for military-ruled Myanmar."
Critics have "condemned the document as watered-down to irrelevance", which is only "the codification of existing norms." But, Rome wasn't build in a day. It has taken Europe a long time as well to work out its differences, and a real political union still doesn't exist. But, slowly we're getting there. At least now a legal entity will be created. If the ASEAN countries intend to contribute to this organization, it can only gain momentum. As it stands the Charter still needs to be ratified. So, we can only wait and see what happens. If enough countries ratify, and a positive economic cooperation will follow, it can only lead to a more stabile and prosperous region. The 19th century has seen the rise of the nation states, during the 20th century these nations have started to mature. The 21st century might just be the era of the supranational unions.