tirsdag den 20. maj 2008

Why not ban girls in sexist princess outfits

Sunday was crepes day.

When you don't really enjoy 5th league football or have an unhealthy desire to travel to London JUST to see Wembley Stadium you got to find something else to do.

So, well stocked with cider, beer, Polish chocolates and stacks of Malo's gooood crepes we sat out for a classy dinner. However, we ended up youtubing Polish/French/Danish disco horrors until 02 am. I wonder what became of my well-prepared playlist of NuTango and smoothe jazz?

But it was dead educational, I tell you. After watching a certain Polish female singer who can't sing, I have started thinking about whether the Polish EU membership is irreversible.

French Dalida won our disco hearts with her 'Laissez-moi danser'. Not because of her performance but because her Village People-ish dancers made Tomek remark: 'All of them would get killed in Poland'. Not surprisingly, Brødrene Bisp (Pope Brothers) got the same remark. They are a sensitive people, the Poles.

To make all Danes feel proud I shared Tommy Seebach's classic Apache-interpretation, which directly led to a discussion of moustaches and whether they can ever ever EVER be cool.

In France, Poland and Denmark the answer is definitely 'no'.

However, I know for a fact (or rather, I know from a short Reuter's note in some inferior Danish newspaper) that in India policemen with moustaches get paid more than their face hair-less colleagues. This is presumably because a moustache adds to your authority and thus makes you a better policeman. Like tweed suits and elbow patches do for researchers, you understand.

It is fun to think about how one thing or behaviour can be interpreted so differently in different cultures or contexts. Let's take a totally random example: head scarves. I read that back in Denmark we are (still) discussing head scarves, the people who wear them, what they symbolize (if anything), and where (if at all) people should be allowed to wear them.

Everyone who has followed Danish politics knows that when politicians talk about 'head scarves' they actually do not talk about a piece of cloth worn on top of the head. What they really are talking about is fashion.

Seriously a person cannot be 'against scarves' per se (OK, of course you could, but it's like being against people wearing green or people wearing jeans, and that is just stupid).

My interpretation is that the Danish government (or the dark corners hereof) are against certain ways of wearing a scarf (as in certain ways of wearing green...oh, wait, that is also stupid).

You see, worn the right way a headscarf is urban and street fashion. The superpower of fashion, Belfast Telegraph, nails the trend with this razor-sharp observation:
Immortalised by Audrey Hepburn, adopted by Kate Moss - and now the hottest accessory on the catwalk. (see here for full article).

Look at the picture of dead cool woman in yellow here. If you catch yourself thinking 'but that is not what we mean...these women are wearing their scarves differently', I want you to thoroughly think about the consequences of that thought.

I am not sure Dansk Folkeparti will buy into arguments founded on street fashion so just to make a point I include a picture of a well-known headscarf-clad woman, who is neither a Muslim or terrorized by her Muslim husband. It looks dead ugly, that scarf, but it is hardly illegal.

But should it be?

Let's say that we want to legislate about how people dress. Why not - we are ruled by law in any other aspects, and already we are not allowed to wear hats at demonstrations. Then I am just wondering: are we really most concerned with how women wear scarves? Can't we find something more disturbing to ban? I do not have the answers, I'm just wondering, here...

tirsdag den 6. maj 2008

Pianos and trumpets make me want to start smoking

So, last week I had Harry Potter-style lunch at Lorna’s college. To underline that Cambridge is an impressively celebrity-filled spot, Paul Mellar, professor in prehistoric archaeology, popped by during lunch for a chat on how HCI and archaeology are related. (And yes, we are talking the Star Carr man. THE Star Carr! THE STAR CARR!)

After the latest news on water logged wood from the Palaeolithic we talked a bit about the concept of bringing HCI-people and archaeologists together for a workshop. Apparently Lorna has been contemplating this for some time.

I think we managed to convince Paul that it would not be an entirely waste of time. Of course the question remains: what would we do in such a workshop? I’m quite sure that HCI people would find it interesting to listen to how archaeologists interpret prehistoric life based on signs and traces, but will archaeologists have any clou or interest in studies of how people use modern technology?

Or will they simply get lost in the weird wonders/horrors of domestic robots, chicken petting machines and hamster computer games?

Along completely unrelated tracks: Sunday provided a strange concert experience. The strange mix of piano, trumpets, kids on violins and really bad rock’n’roll dancers is best coined by Fabio’s remark ‘It makes me want to start smoking’.

I think it’s his subtle way of saying: Premature death no longer scares me.

To push the limits further we are now contemplating going to a Andrew Lloyd Webber-style LOTR musical in London. If you dare, try Gollum’s song here.

(Yes, I know that the pictures in this post are totally un-related to the subject, but I've been discussing knitwear for two pub nights in a row and have decided to move on. Counting from now),