Respect

Now that this place is officially closed, I thought it was about time to give it back some life. Recently I have been watching a lot of different documentaries and short films about how we live and what the human being has become. I find it extremely shocking and this is why I thought it might be an idea to return to our original or initial goal here at the BLS – to find great ideas, think about the world and maybe just make a little difference at some point.

So having said that, today I would like to write about respect.
For me, it is always been an important matter to respect others. And I generally also expect everybody else to respect me. The definition of respect by modern world’s Holy Grail Wikipedia outlines very nicely what respect is. So it says that “respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion) and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. (…) Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures.” Professor Jonathan Haidt from the New York University Stern School of Business identified respect for tradition (…) “as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.” Respect can be given and also received.
The article continues to outline signs of respect. Cutting this long story short, respect shows itself in language as well as in physical gestures. Generally respectful behavior usually is shown by more subtle gestures and voice as well. I have not yet come across any situation when people were respectfully shouting at each other or fighting with each other on the street. (although apparently there is a lot of respect in martial arts)

Now, why this longwinded introduction?
I have recently watched a film that came out in 2009 already and I am sure some of you have watched it, too: Food Inc. It is a very realistic look at how our food, and more specific, our meat is produced nowadays. For us, it is normal to just go to the supermarket and buy a piece of meat. All that matters (for the majority) is, how cheap it is. Nobody asks the question where does this piece of meat come from? And what life did the animal live before it was slaughtered? We are not interested. We don’t care. The reality is that our meat is a mass-product. Of course “Food Inc.” shows how animals are kept in the US, and I am sure that we have not yet reached the same scale of factory farming, but we are on a good way. Animals are treated with no respect at all. It is important to earn as much money as we can with the meat. We feed cows corn, something they would not eat if they had a choice. We keep them in tight spaces with no real natural environment. The animals are literally standing in their own excrements – ankle-deep. If one animal is sick, every other animal will also become sick.
Chicken… another horror story. Nowadays they are fattened and grown so fast, it is absolutely insane. The food industry has “re-designed” the chicken, so that they grow bigger and we get to eat bigger chicken breasts. These poor animals become so big in such a short time, they cannot even stand on their own feed. Not all of them witness the day they get caught to be carried away to the slaughter house. They “live” crammed together in a long tunnel-like shed without any daylight. All of them are injured in one way or another and they get fed with food that contains antibiotics to at least keep them alive. In the slaughterhouse, not all is over as quickly as we think. Just recently there have been reports that not all animals are sedated when the machine throws them in boiling water…
Pigs – just another sad story of how cruel we have become. These animals are often kept in way too small cages where they cannot move. Just recently a team of investigative journalists managed to film in a shed here in Europe. The sow is locked in its cage, bearing. But it cannot even move to protect her newborns and they are trampled to death by the other – also locked in – animals.

This is just a small section of what is happening every minute everywhere in the industrialised world. We have become blind to the fact that we are cruel to life. We show no respect for life. Much the opposite. The poor animals that we have tortured for their whole life get kicked at if they move too slowly on their way to the slaughter house. They get tortured by forklift trucks if they cannot stand on their own feet any more. So where is the respect that we should show these animals? I cannot see it. Of course, the world population is ever growing. And it is obvious that there has been a need to industrialise the food production in a way. But to what cost? I mean, we over-produce chicken massively here in Europe. Germany alone produces way more chicken that it would need. Same goes for all the surrounding countries. In Germany the chicken-farming industry is highly subsidised. So basically by the tax money we pay we are directly helping this industry to grow even further.
I think this is the wrong way. We keep animals because we want their meat. They will not revolt – how could they. But because the human race has evolved to the top of the evolution, we also have a responsibility to respect life in general. We are fighting world wide that humans are granted their rights to have a peaceful life, without harm and terror. But we terrorise and harm animals on a daily basis, and I think this is agains what we say to believe. There are ways to “produce” good food but in harmony with nature. We have to stop the stupid and unnecessary subsidy of an already over-growing industry and return to a realistic production again.

If you want to learn more, watch Food Inc., or have a look at their website here.
Another really impressive but also sad story is told in “More than honey”. There it seems nature has already found a way to defend itself. Maybe there is hope. But I am not so sure if there is hope for the human race once nature starts to fight back…

Recommendation

Yesterday we went to the cinema and watched a french film: Intouchables. All I want to say is that I think this film is a real pearl: Funny, sad and at times critical about the social problems we all face in the larger cities around the world and in Europe. This film made me laugh and it touched my heart. If you get a chance you should really go and see it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYPb7T7LC7o

(I know the trailer is in French, but it is the original trailer and it is great)

Men

Eyal’s post has once again left me deeply impressed. This final speech of Charlie Chaplin in “The great dictator” has always been something extraordinary in filmmaking ever. When I first watched the film, I could not believe it had its premiere in 1940, right in the middle of the biggest and most devastating crisis of mankind ever. The wisdom that is in this speech is impressive. It is ever so sad that it didn’t help to end what happened during the years to follow.

As Eyal said it, we as people can reach great things if we stand together as one. We can make progress beyond the imaginable. We can free the world and we can make the world a better place for everyone. How much talent and cleverness, how much humanity and peace is buried and killed every day in slavery and inhuman working conditions somewhere in the world? How many people suffer for our wealth? It is Christmas time and the marketing campaigns do a great job of showing us how horribly wrong the balance on earth between all people really is. We get asked for money and this is the time when most people are more willing to give something for charity.

But the day after Christmas, the old treadmill is starting again. We cannot completely escape our own barriers and borders in life. Our life gives us our problems to solve. But besides us, we have elected other people to fulfill our will. And it must be our will to help everyone on earth to reach a life in peace. Without hunger, thirst, disease, fear and war. We are all men, no matter what colour of skin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

I have created a new category for this post: “us”. Because only together, we will be able to change something. Europe, United States… whatever. These are man-made borders. But mankind should not know any borders.

The end is near. Period.

I know most of you guys is not directly affected by an effect, that is currently happening: The Euro is dying. If you read between the lines of what experts say or even what some experts are actually saying, the currency of the European Union cannot be saved. It is almost certain, that there will be massive inflation at some point in the future. How long we have until we reach this point? That is the question, but not, if it is going to happen.

I know, that a lot of people at home will say, that this is a great thing in a way. As they never wanted the Euro in the first place. And it is right. If there had been a referendum on the implementation of the Euro in any of the current Euro-countries, probably none of them would be trading in Euro today. For Germany it has been a fare-well of one of the most stable currencies of all times. And it hurt. Especially as this already meant the first inflation, when the only thing that was converted correctly into the new currency was your salary, whereas the prices of every day groceries and supplies were not adapted as fussy as was your monthly income.

Yes, I understand that this is the common thinking. But the worst thing that can happen is that the Euro is dying. We are all tied together in such a tight and multileveled way, that the consequences will be fatal for everyone. The situation a few weeks ago, when the Swiss Frank was traded 1:1 with the Euro was the point when it became evident, that nobody, even the neutral Swiss can withstand the impact of such a monster that the Euro has become. It is a huge part of the western world, that has one common currency now and if one part of the Union (like Greece) goes down, the rest will follow. Again, maybe not in that very moment, but eventually.

Greece cannot be saved. No matter how much money the other members of the Union will pump into the really rotten system of the country. But by doing exactly that, the system makes a mockery of itself. All the measures that were originally in place to control things like national debt have been ignored by almost every country by now on several occasions and in some cases right from the beginning. By pumping more money into completely wrecked systems where you will never see the money again, the European Union is acting against any stabilizing measures that are (or were) in place. This is why there is no hope for the overall system.

The ones that will once again lose everything will be the majority of the people. Like all the other times, when the currency had to be replaced, the only ones that did not lose anything were those that didn’t have anything in the first place or had enough resources (in money) to escape the system before it failed. For everyone else, the normal citizens, that probably saved up some money over decades and decades, these really hard-earned savings were lost and degraded to seed capital. The winners will be the few big spenders, sitting in a bank right now, trying to make to most of the situation. They will try to escape the problem when it reaches its peak by flying off to a warm place somewhere else in the world with their private jet.

What makes me angry about the situation is, that the government in Germany as well as in any other European country does not play by their own set rules. And now that they know about the dramatic situation they have manoeuvred us all, they are not telling us the truth. They will be playing their game until the very end. And then they will say, we are sorry, but it is all over now and we have to start again. It is a shame you lost everything, but hey, life goes on.

In fact it does go on. But our political leaders are nothing more than marionettes of lobbies and the “market”. The market dictates the policy. Really? Well, it certainly does now. But it should not do so. Only a really small percentage of the citizens are actual stock holders. So how come that we all have to constantly read about the stock market and be shocked of what happens there? The market only dictates what the politicians have to do, because we let them dictate the rules. All that happens now is our own fault. We are easy to rule. We don’t stand up, we don’t force politics to do what is best for most of the people. Because at the moment, politics decide on things that are best for only a few people. We think we live in a free world, with maximum participation in the way our countries are ruled. But we are not. And it is our own fault.

We have to stand up and refuse to accept this. We are the people and we have granted a few people the right to decide on things for us. In our sense and for the greater good of the majority. We grant a gouvernment the right to rule a country for a certain time. And I expect of people that we generously give the right to do so, to do the absolute best they can to server their people. It is us, that employ the gouvernment and therefore we have every right to withdraw the confidence again. And fire the ones that are obviously not acting for the greater good of the majority of the people.

It causes me great sorrow but I hope that we will learn that we are the people. And it is our country.

Over Saturated?

I have posted the content below on my own page as well. But I thought, this is a matter of greater interest for us lighting and theatre people. And this is why I will also place my ideas here:

We all have a certain style of lighting as production. Yes, the show dictates probably a lot about time and place of the story. And the director also has a high influence on the final product. His style and the way he imagines the show will ultimately determine the way it has to be dealt with lighting wise.
But we all tend to have our own style that is usually reflected in the way we approach the design. Some people tend to go for a lot of white lighting and layer different shades of white on top of each other. Some designers might be heavy on the side light or have a very special lighting position they want the light to come from. For me, I think I am definitely a fan of the deeper saturated tones. You will also find some lighter colours in my rig, but usually there will be some quite bold colours around.
With strong, saturated colours, I always felt quite comfortable to set the general mood of the scenes. The lighter ones come into place when it comes to lighting the actors. There I feel that the key light should not be too colourful. This is why I usually don’t have a lot of saturated colours front of house.

Now, it seems we are about to close another chapter of technology in theatre- and event lighting. The one of tungsten light sources. The incandescent light bulbs for our homes have already been banned from the shelves in the supermarkets and been widely replaced with questionable “alternatives” that don’t bring us the same quality of light in terms of colour temperature and spectrum, but are a lot more energy efficient. I won’t go into details about the disadvantages of these revolutionary replacements and the given fact that this has been a very clever lobby movement – this article is about something else.

Of course, us, working in the entertainment industry also get affected by this. It is only a matter of time until the halogen light sources are banned (not only in homes, but also for entertainment purposes) as well. The manufacturers have started years ago with the development of new, compact and lightweight LED fixtures to eventually replace the now common ones. We gained a lot of new tools out of this. As always when there is new technology developed and shaped, there is a lot of crap products around. But time usually helps for a natural selection of the useful things.
We gained much faster lights, lower power requirements, lots of little dots that light up, extreme brightness, lower costs and so much more. What we didn’t gain is a better quality of light. I feel that over the past years, every event I attended and where a large amount of LED fixtures were used, the overall feel of it was quite sterile and in a way cold. I cannot describe it better, but for me, the feel of any colour coming from an LED source is quite cold. And it is highly saturated. I also feel that we lost variety. As people don’t really know how (and if) you can get subtle tones out of the pixelated fixtures, they simply tend to go for full saturation all the time. Think about it. I think the most commonly used colours lately were deep blue (100% Blue), some strange type of amber/yellow (100% red, 100% green) and a lot of magenta (100% red, 100% blue).

Don’t get me wrong. This is not meant to say we should get rid of LED lighting. But I think it is also wrong to completely ban the incandescent light source. It is a given fact that the spectrum of this light source is good for us. And I don’t mind selecting colour gels for a fixture. In fact, I always like doing this. And I also don’t mind that the colour changes when I dim down the light. Maybe this is even an effect I want to have…?

LED will be the future. Period. But there is an awful lot to do before I accept it as a perfect replacement for the tungsten light we are still used to. The charm of a tungsten show is unmatched by modern LED fixtures. And I really feel we are loosing something by blindly following the LED way. I don’t expect the manufacturers to build brighter lights or faster lights. How much brighter and faster do you want to go? I expect them to build fixtures (and I know there are products around already that can do some of this to a certain extend) that offer:
– NO visible pixels. LED as a light source and not as visible “dots” everywhere.
– proper dimming. No further explanation needed.
– in also in the dimming section: Maybe it makes sense to build a light that behaves like a tungsten fixture? So that when you dim it, it changes the colour temperature according to a tungsten light source. But then, probably the spectrum will always remain in the way.

But then, there is a lot to say about the positive aspects of LEDs. I leave this to everyone else. If you want to contribute, then feel free to do so.

The missing post

I know this might be a little bit of a clash with the posts before that one. After all this world-changing (at least the will to do so) and the thinking about what happens to this world during the time we walk this planet, I wanted to go back with this post. Go back a few weeks (already) to this weekend at the end of July in Norway.

It was the celebration of our friend’s most important day and it was the time when we all were together again. The moment, I left the bus and met our welcoming committee, I felt at home. The days in Norway were days out of the ordinary as they were special. Maybe we don’t always realise this when we live the day, but afterwards you certainly know that this particular day was special.

When we returned from Norway, the following days were strange and somehow felt lifeless. There was a certain energy that I felt in me during our stay in Norway and it seemed to have gone right when we were back. Of course, I knew what had changed and what caused the effect: My friends were once again gone. For some reason, when we are together, everything seems to fall into place, there is this energy flowing, or surrounding me. The thoughts and ideas have no real boundaries any more and there is so much going on. One idea leads to another, one stupid thought ends up as a brilliant idea, there are pranks that become the basis for serious discussions and so much more. Somehow I feel when we are together, that this is always a creative environment.

When I was back, I realised how special our friendship truly is. Because I am very sure, that you only meet your real friends, this small group of people, once in your life. And that I already found my best friends. I found them in Liverpool. The Brookfield Lodge, Sefton Park, the Sennheiser Studio Theatre, PMA, FRP, Hope Street Building, Half/Half, Kathy, Joe, Neil, the fuchin’ bus driver, MPP and all of that connected us then. And this connection has been welded together over three years. And this connection cannot break. Ever.

It is good to know, that you guys are there.