Now, exactly why would people think that? And furthermore, what harm would there be in that if the PvdA could simply show there's a very good reason they are doing exactly that, namely because they can show that Dutch soldiers have engaged in torture?
Yes, I know we're the nation that invented waterboarding, a gruesome method of coercion in which the victim gets the sensation of drowning.
But if Dutch soldiers have indeed done what left-wing newspaper De Volkskrant has literally called torture of Iraqi insurgents, then I wonder what else happened, except (a) turning on the radio, (b) putting ski goggles on them, (c) spraying them with water. Question: wouldn't keeping water away from them in that climate constitute torture? Or does throwing some water all of a sudden rate on the same scale as waterboarding?
I am not trying to be a right-wing stoneblind Fox News hack here. I distrust the government as much as anyone - it is exactly why I tend to vote towards the right of the spectrum.
I'll admit it is downright dodgy that secdef Henk 'The Tank' Kamp all of a sudden has announced a full investigation into what happened back in 2003 and which was supposedly adequately dealt with by the Dutch military police at the time. I agree with Pieter that keeping quiet about it was a huge mistake. Perhaps the free-market VVD party would do well not to let Mr. Kamp return after the elections.
But it is important to separate the issue of political incompetence from the matter of torture. After all, if torture has been willingly and knowingly committed by Dutch soldiers, Mr. Kamp has committed nothing less than criminal negligence by not acting sooner, as the current uproar makes Dutch soldiers serving in Uruzgan prime targets for the Taleban. Furthermore, these soldiers, and possibly some brass and perhaps even the secdef himself, would then be war criminals and should be treated as such.
But first, we need proof.
Mr. Kamp's investigation may be explained in one out of two possible ways: (1) he's stalling, as something really happened, and there's an election on Thursday, (2) he's not stalling, but wants to look thorough as well as diffuse the uproar from the Dutch left, as there's an election on Thursday.
Until I get enough information to be able to determine whether this was (a) a deliberate matter of torture driven by the need of military intelligence organization MIVD for information, or (b) a matter of prisoner mistreatment that the secdef was stupid enough not to inform Parliament about, please forgive me I am withholding judgment on a story which was broken by de Volkskrant, a newspaper with a history of 'October surprises'.
After all, there's an election on Thursday.
Oh, and dear Labour voting countrymen? There's plenty of scandalous behavior left the Dutch government will readily admit to. Such as a proposed ban on burqas. Which will never fly, but I am surprised there isn't more upheaval about a freedom-infringing law proposal. Next stop: prohibiting army boots since they tend to be worn by skinheads? I'm sure that will discourage them from being racists. In fact, if only Hitler had had a dress code, the Second World War might never even have happened!
(In case anyone is interested: I'm voting for this guy anyway - hey, what can I say, he's my neighbor, and he likes '24' as well... Just watch the vid on his site - I think the nukes are a bit much though.)
Verdonk loses leadership battle for free-market liberal VVD party
Well, pretty much all the news is in the caption. Rita Verdonk will not be leading the VVD party in the 2007 elections. Instead, Mark Rutte will bear the torch. Stay tuned for mudslinging from the Verdonk camp, who will probably leak stories about election fraud within the next week. At least, that's my guess.
But for now there are at least two reasons to be happy. First, these are the first American-style primaries for a political party we've had in this country. This may mean we'll become a democracy some day after all. Second, Rita Verdonk, who has shown a huge lack of statemanship in mishandling the Ayaan Hirsi Magan/Ali affair, is gone from the center stage.
For now, at least.
I just hope Rutte will pack the same punch against the PvdA social democrats as Verdonk would have.
Alleged terrorists thank left-wing PBS for character assassination of Ayaan
The VARA is the socialist department of Dutch PBS (our PBS system is insanely complicated, don't even try to understand it - suffice it to say that every major political, cultural or religious group in Dutch society got its own mini-PBS in the previous century and kept it ever since) that aired the episode of news show Zembla in which Ayaan Hirsi Ali was smeared.
It is with great pleasure that I can report that the VARA had some flowers delivered Thursday afternoon, courtesy of the terrorist organization Hofstadgroep, of which Mohammed Bouyeri, murderer of Theo van Gogh, was a member. I thought it was a joke at first, except that Jermaine Walters was one of the guys who delivered the flowers. Jermaine is the brother of Jason, a felon convicted on terrorism charges who is now serving a 15 year jail sentence. Jermaine himself was acquited of terrorist harges. The flowers were the idea of Zakaria Taybi, another acquited Hofstad Group suspect, according to Jermaine Walters.
Pleasure? Yes. This is the kind of praise that pierces through hypocritical political correctness, and exposes the VARA vermin for what they are.
I think I'm going to get Jermaine a Verdonk T-shirt to thank him.
Courtesy of Cox and Forkum, who have also been very kind in granting me permission me to reprint some of their cartoons in my MA thesis.
Rita Verdonk stated yesterday night at the final debate for the leadership position within the free-market VVD that Hirsi Ali will get a Dutch passport, and a new one at that if it turns out the legal mess Ms. Verdonk in her unbelievable lack of statesmanship has created.
As for silver linings to these clouds: it's a good thing that American-style primaries are being held nowadays. Not too long ago, big parties such as the VVD had candidates which were fielded by the top brass. Hopefully, the electorate will be just as merciless towards Verdonk as Americans were when a certain Mr. Dean displayed how prone he was to instable behavior.
Pundit Ebru Umar, who was attacked earlier this year in Amsterdam, has stated that Verdonk must have lied when she said that she didn't hear that Hirsi Ali's real name was Hirsi Magan until very recently. After Theo van Gogh was murdered, Umar wrote an infamous article in which she accused Hirsi Ali of being responsible for Van Gogh's death. This article also contained Hirsi Ali's real name. As a result of the article, Verdonk invited her at the Immigration Department - back in 2004.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has publicly stated he will keep a close check on Verdonk to make sure she gives Hirsi Ali back her nationality as soon as possible, a huge humilliation.
The VVD will allow members who have voted by mail for the new VVD leader to change their votes, and vote again electronically. Officially, this is a measure to prevent people from voting twice. Yeah, right.
About the Verdonk T-shirts: more very soon. I am waiting for the EPS files right now.
You could cry about Dutch PBS, which just featured an item about the 'common people' who nowadays express themselves through talk radio and blogs. How dare they. Fortunately, no eating advice regarding the superiority of cake compared to bread.
Or you could laugh at, or with, Rita Verdonk, the woman who now has said that, until the legal mess about AHA's citizenship status has been sorted out, Hirsi Ali will get to keep her Dutch passport for now. Yes, she's a happy puppy:
We all know secretary Rita Verdonk, the woman that revoked Ayaan's citizenship in order to ensure her victory in the leadership contest that's currently taking place within the VVD party. That's why my dear friend Kay Coenen and I had a bit of a phone conversation earlier today. Kay is a magnificent artist and made this:
Translation: 'Rules are rules'
If you are sure you want a T-shirt, then send an e-mail with your address details to email@example.com. If there's enough, we'll have them printed. Please indicate your size as well.
If you are just interested and don't want to commit to anything yet, then send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If that number gets high enough - it'll have to be higher than the 'sure' number - we'll have them printed as well.
If there are many takers, we will offer a choice of different designs. View them in more detail by clicking on the thumbnail below:
To our English readers: Please also indicate if you would like an English language version produced. Again, if there are enough takers, we'll make it.
Costs: If they get printed, shirts will be 15 euros excluding shipping. Any profits will go to someone who needs the money more than we do, preferably some organization promoting democracy or liberty (perhaps we'll get enough to buy our own cruise missile so we can blow Mugabe to kingdom come - now that would be a big leap forwards.)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali's fellow members of the VVD free-market party are in an uproar. The normally hugely loyal Dutch VVD MP Bibi de Vries has said that 'if anything happens to AHA, her blood will be on the hands of members of my party'. Former party leader Van Aartsen appeared on television with his face looking like a freshly boiled lobster. European VVD MP's as well as Geert Dales, the VVD mayor of Leeuwarden, have condemned secretary Rita Verdonk's preliminary decision to revoke AHA's citizenship.
What will happen next?
AHA will hold a press conference, which is starting right now.
The political opposition is preparing a parliamentary condemnation of Verdonk's action. Such a condemnation will effectively end Rita Verdonk's tenure if it gets a majority.
The condemnation may very well get that majority, because of the open revolt within the VVD. Also, the right-of-centre CDA party, which supports the current administration, has expressed doubts about Verdonk.
If Verdonk has to go, then the entire Balkenende administration may have to resign, if it turns out that Balkenende was informed of Verdonk's decision.
Also, the Dutch law philosopher Afshin Ellian, a colleague of mine at Leiden University (I've never met him though), is preparing legal action against Rita Verdonk.
Press conference of AHA
13.56: Vice prime minister Gerrit Zalm openly supports AHA during her press conference, thus adding further fuel to speculations about Rita Verdonk's political future.
14.04. Zalm sneers at Verdonk, hinting at the extreme speed with which Verdonk decided to revoke AHA's citizenship: 'If she always works with this speed, the immigration service will soon be rid of all backlogs.'
Debate on Verdonk
16.45. A debate which may decide the future of Rita Verdonk is about to start. Prime minister Balkenende has distanced himself from Verdonk by expressing his reservations about the speed with which Verdonk has made her decision on AHA. This means he is probably employing a CYA strategy, intended to at least salvage the current government.
17.35. Lousewies van der Laan, who leads the centrist D66 (Democrat 66) party, has announced she will file a motion which will, if it gets a majority, effectively force secretary Rita Verdonk to use her so-called 'discretionary powers' (i.e. a sort of executive privilege) to grant AHA a new Dutch passport, before the end of this week.
17.41. Geert 'Peroxide Head' Wilders gets his turn to speak in Parliament. He says there are days when he's wondering what he's doing in politics. I've been thinking the same thing about Wilders for quite a while.
18.35. They're eating until 20.15. Take a look at our new T-shirts in the meantime ;-).
18.43. Planet Internet reports that VVD and CDA will support the D66 attempt to grant AHA Dutch citizenship after all.
21.10. Femke Halsema, leader of GroenLinks (Green Left), reveals the email address of AHA: email@example.com. This means that just about everyone in The Hague must have known AHA lied about her name for years - and there's absolutely no reason why Verdonk would start an investigation into her now - apart from opportunism borne of the desire to become the leader of the VVD party.
22.15. The Second Chamber (Lower House) is in recess. You didn't miss much, as with any parliament most of decision making process does not take place in front of the cameras. VVD chief whip Willibrord van Beek spoke some ambigous but subtly ominous words to a PBS journalist about Verdonk's political future. The Second Chamber is not pleased, to say the least. And although Verdonk may still survive this debate, she's dead in the water politically. Her main competitor in the VVD leadership tussle, Mark Rutte, is sitting back while he now soars in the polls.
Of course, the guy who is laughing most is Wouter Bos, PvdA (Labour Party) leader. It was the VARA, a social-democratic PBS station (don't ask me to explain our PBS system to you, I won't), that aired the documentary that started this latest witch hunt. It is Verdonk, a person who could lead the VVD to a victory in next year's election, who had an image of being steadfast to uphold after she threw a 17 year old girl out of the country, and denied the Dutch citizenship to a talented soccer player who wanted to participate in the upcoming world championship.
Even though I am convinced Verdonk did this because out of opportunism, the reasons for it being opportune were there for all to see. If this was a trap by the PvdA, the VVD took it, hook, line and sinker. For weeks now, the VVD has been gaining seats in the polls because of the so-called 'Verdonk effect', in anticipation of her taking over the VVD leadership. I'm not optimistic about the new poll at the end of this week.
22.58. Dutch PBS reports that the VVD and CDA, the two main parties that form the government, will ask of Verdonk to reconsider her decision - or else.
23.01. Pieter Dorsman is dead wrong. I am perfectly happy being Dutch. I am just not too happy with some of my fellow countrymen and, specifically, countrywomen that are not deserving of the title.
23.10. Dutch PBS reports a compromise may be in the works between the VVD and Verdonk. Then again, this is only based on a reporter dropping in on a private little chat between Verdonk and Ter Beek, who immediately got up and left.
23.29. Van Beek (VVD) files a motion asking Verdonk to reconsider her decision. It is supported by four other parties: CDA (right-centrist), PvdA (labour), D66 (centrist liberal) and GroenLinks (way too left).
It should be added, especially for those readers who have the inclination to mask their ignorance of the local situation by throwing words such as 'cowardice' at the situation, that this course of action is not entirely without logic. CDA and VVD want to get rid of Verdonk, but they can't. It will mean elections, which the left-wing parties will win, as they are going much stronger in the polls than CDA and VVD.
This may well be the result of a compromise. It's speculation, but here's my take. The VVD leadership doesn't want Verdonk, but Mark Rutte to lead the party. So Verdonk gets to live for now - but her political career will be over after this administration resigns at the end of its term (hopefully). And she'll have to back out of the leadership race. If she announces her withdrawal from this race somewhere this week, we'll know that I was right - or not, of course, if she doesn't.
00.52. Verdonk accepts the motion, meaning she will have to either revoke her earlier revocation of AHA's citizenship, or give her a new one pronto.
01.02. But then seems to ruin it all by stubbornly interpreting the motion in exactly the way the Second Chamber doesn't intend it. This may end in her resignation after all.
01.44. A THIRD term of the debate will start at 02.00. This should not happen. It means the Second Chamber is not satisfied with the response of Verdonk to the motion it has filed. It may also mean Verdonk may still be dismissed (yes, please), and bring down the government with her (not yet, please).
01.49. Grin. Some Ayaan cartoons.
01.55. I'm signing off for the night as this may well take until morning. If you want to keep score, I suggest Google News.
9.02. It's a good thing I didn't stay up. Nothing much happened after this. But AHA will get her Dutch citizenship - one way or the other.
Hizb ut Tahrir, an Islamist organization, send me a press release at the time when the debate about AHA is raging on in Dutch Parliament. It includes this pleasant bit of Muslim theology:
Verily, we have prepared for the evildoers a fire, sheets of which shall encompass them; and if they cry for help, they shall be helped with water like molten brass, which shall roast their faces: an ill drink and an evil couch! Verily, those who believe and act aright,-verily, we will not waste the hire of him who does good works.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali timeline: the Machiavellian assassination of an MP
Secretary Rita Verdonk has legalized many, many illegal aliens out of the 26,000 that the left in the Netherlands has claimed were prosecuted unduly.
Now, Rita Verdonk has ruled that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is probably no longer Dutch.
I have earlier shocked at least one reader of this blog (hi, BB) by admitting I am not a huge fan of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This has nothing to do with her points of view. I agree with quite a few of them. It's how she seems to overly rely on awakening male protective instincts to make her points. Politicians should try to convince their voters by using arguments, not by appealing to emotions. It may be a personal flaw, but whenever I feel someone tries to push my buttons, I find myself responding by immediately jumping in the opposite direction. (This didn't keep me from voting for AHA during the last parliamentary elections, by the way.)
That being said, the whole affair smells worse than badger juice mixed with garlic.
Just look at the following date line:
May 11, 2006. Zembla, a tv news show by left wing PBS organization VARA, regurgitates mainly old facts about the lies Ayaan Hirsi Ali told back in 1992 when she was applying for asylum status in the Netherlands. Conservative pundit Leon de Winter has rightly remarked most of the information wasn't new, and nobody made a fuss about it when she confessed to her lies herself, 4 years ago.
May 12, 2006. After initially having stated Ayaan Hirsi Ali had no need to worry, secretary Rita Verdonk now responds to criticism of being too lenient by announcing an investigation into AHA's legal status. Verdonk, incidentally, is running for the leadership position of the free-market and right-wing VVD party, on a platform of stringent adherence to immigration rules.
May 13, 2006 and May 14, 2006. Deafening silence over the weekend. Rumors abound about AHA's probable departure to the USA.
. May 15, 2006, 11 AM. AHA's friend, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, also a VVD member, tells journalists she didn't know about AHA's lies, thus distancing herself from AHA..
. May 15, 2006, 2 PM. Left-wing newspaper 'de Volkskrant' reports AHA will start to work for the American Enterprise Institute.
, May 15, 2006, 8 PM. Several surveys show that about four-fifths of the Dutch will be glad to be rid of AHA. Hans Wiegel, who is to the right-wing VVD what Eisenhower would be to the Republicans were he still alive, only far less competent, is among them.
, May 15 2006, 10 PM. Secretary Rita Verdonk announces AHA may not have the Dutch nationality after all.
My take? The VVD party knew AHA had to be sacrificed to fend off a left-wing takeover of the country during the 2007 elections. Rita Verdonk added insult to injury because it increases her own chances of winning the party leadership, and the VVD honchos stand by idly because they know the hugely popular Verdonk may be the only thing standing between Labour Party leader Wouter Bos and four years of social-democratic misery.
Philips is an electronics company which has long used the slogan 'Let's make things better'. I'd always thought it would be a good idea to start doing so before they put stuff in stores, but evidently Philips still begs to differ.
My new Perfect Draft beer tap is broken, after pouring only one keg of beer with it. The machine won't take the second keg - the pump keeps on running, up to the point of spreading an ozone-like smell, at which point I decided to pull the plug (literally - no Schiavo puns intended. Honest).
Thanks, Philips, for still giving me that nostalgic 19th century feeling.
The funny thing about both the extreme left and the extreme right is that they both seem to strive for egalitarianism.
The extreme right does so in a very recognizable manner. It condemns any non-white non-tanning-bed-induced skin color which deviates from the native complexion. I detest that kind of thing. Indeed, the first rally I ever took part in was one against racism.
The extreme left is, of course, not nearly as superficial. It only condemns sophisticated stuff, such as vocal inflections which may or may not be considered as 'posh', and therefore as an indicator of wealth.
The sad thing is that these kind of slurs are generally not considered discriminatory, but instead as a token of civilized behavior.
The most influential journalists in the Netherlands
This ranking is highly dubious, since it's based on Google statistics which will inevitably benefit people that report on the Internet, especially if they have a blog, BUT... I'm very easy to flatter, not to mention suffering from the same kind of narcissism that befalls most journalists, so if it turns I rank as number 12 (as of today, the list has been changed quite a few times since it was first published last week), yes, of course, I'll link to it.
In case you've been hiding under a rock all day: genocidal maniac Slobodan Milosevic has been found dead in his prison cell in The Hague (that's in the Netherlands, not in Rhode Island or Denmark). Apparently, Dutch cells are downright dangerous for you, because Milan Babic killed himself a week ago whilst being held captive in the same prison. Yes, nylon shoelaces can be detrimental to your health. Slobodan Milosevic had requested to be treated in Russia for his health problems but the court had ruled that Dutch healthcare was more than adequate. I am not as sanguine about that.
Hofstad Group designated a "terrorist organization"
A landmark ruling in Dutch legal history. The group around Mohammed Bouyeri has been designated a terrorist organization by the Dutch court in Amsterdam. One member, Jason Walters, was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Another suspect, Ismail Akhnikh, will have to serve a 13 year sentence. (Apart from life sentences, jail time is usually commuted by one third, meaning Walters will probably be out in 11 years and Akhnikh in nearly 9 years.)
Didn't have too high an opinion of Hugo ChÃ¡vez before, but this is downright ridiculous:
As exemplified by most of his speeches, ChÃ¡vez maintains the idea that the Bush administration wants to invade Venezuela, and on this day assured the country that a larger and better equipped army was necessary for protection against the United States. Continually evoking struggle of a revolution against imperialism, ChÃ¡vez demanded that Puerto Rico, Netherlands Antilles, Guadalupe, the Maldives and the Virgin Islands be released from outside control, his voice gaining momentum, crescendoing in outrage as he listed off every island in captivity.
There's also a Dutch article in newspaper De Telegraaf and this one on a blog by a professor of Leiden University, both citing Chavez's desire to annex the Netherlands Antilles.
It's going to be some showdown. The Venezuelan navy attacking a Dutch vessel with one of their - er - 'state of the art' 120 mm mortars? Mate, we've got stealth ships and Goalkeepers, and I'm not referring to the upcoming soccer world championship.
Wife of late Dutch 'Greenspan' mentioned in file of terrorist suspect
This is plain weird. According to local newspaper Het Parool Gretta Duisenberg, the widow of former Dutch National and European Central Bank chief Wim Duisenberg, is mentioned in the file of terrorist suspect Samir Azzouz. The file contains a Post-it note with Mrs Duisenberg's telephone number, as well as the words 'phone', 'cooperate', 'invite' and 'three o'clock' (in Dutch, of course). In the Parool article, Mrs. Duisenberg denies knowing Azzouz.
The newspaper goes on to describe accusations of Mrs. Duisenberg aimed at the Dutch intelligence service AIVD, for having placed a wiretap on her phone (George, sure you don't know anything about that?). She says she's certain of being eavesdropped upon because she hears a clicking sound every time she places a call. Right, intelligence agencies still work with technology from old Forsyth novels. Mrs. Duisenberg has courted controversy before: she is an activist for the foundation of a Palestinian state and, rather more controversialy, has compared the situation of the Palestinians with the Holocaust of the Jewish people.
Broadsheet NRC Handelsbladquotes the owner of the web store, Mr. Molenwijk, as saying that two Muslims are involved with this enterprise.
It's a smart ploy, since orange is the Dutch national color, and almost everyone in the nation is known to wear something orange during soccer championships. Americans will probably be unaware of this, but the World Soccer Championship is coming up this summer, and to add to the friendly nationalist zeal this always inspires in the Dutch, it takes place in Germany, which is pretty much the arch enemy of the Dutch soccer 'elftal' (team).
It will be interesting to see how many soccer fans will be wearing these shirts in the summer.
Tomorrow is the pro-Danish demonstration in Amsterdam
Too bad that such unpleasant organisations as Stormfront have decided to show themselves there tomorrow. In fact, it seems that their participation has discouraged many moderate supporters of Denmark not to come. I am one of them. I do not intend to support the hijacking of a worthy cause by those who support an ideology which has shown itself to be anything but supportive of freedom of speech in the 20th century.
I am more than a little miffed by this, actually, because a similar thing happened in 2003 when pro-war demonstrations were flooded by supporters of Nieuw Rechts (New Right). The leader of this organisation has been photographed in front of a Stormfront flag in the past. Needless to say, this is not the company I like to keep.
Tomorrow is likely to become at the very best, a peaceful if very loud charade, or, more likely and at its worst, a charade where right-wing radicals will be bashing heads with left-wing radicals. I detest them both with equal fierceness.
Sorry Denmark. I bought some Carlsberg today, though.
Photographers attacked during Amsterdam Muslim demonstration
Only now has it become known that three press photographers (Maurice Boyer, Phil Nijhuis and Daimon Xanthopoulos) were attacked on Saturday during the Muslim demonstration that got four people arrested. In the case of Boyer, this resulted in some minor injuries, which nevertheless kept him from participating in a running competition on Sunday. Nice.
Meanwhile, a bunch of cowards in Oldenzaal, a city in my native region of Twente, have decided to prohibit Mohammed parodies during the upcoming Catholic Mardi Gras festivities. My beloved late grandmother was from Oldenzaal and if she could hear about this, she'd rise from the grave and give them an old-fashioned ass-whooping.
Of course the police immediately played it down, but 'youngsters' (no information on nationality, ethnicity or religious affiliation provided - but from television footage I can pretty much gather we are not talking about 5th generation Dutchies here) have disturbed the Muslim protest against the Danish cartoons that took place here in Amsterdam this afternoon. A telling quote from a police spokesperson at NieuwNieuws: 'These youngsters are looking for a confrontation. They are disrupting the demonstration which was progressing without incident.'
Right. Everybody who causes trouble of course cannot be part of said demonstration, for otherwise we couldn't keep up the myth of well-integrated newcomers peacefully using their freedom of speech. According to local tv station AT5 there are or were about 150 (!) youngsters causing trouble; one shop was attacked according to the RTL television news; bystanders were harrassed; and two people have been arrested. Until now. Nice detail: according to NieuwNieuws some of these nice young folks were wearing Hamas jackets. You don't buy those at Sissy Boy.
As for the rest of the demonstration: very revealing was the comment of one participant, expressing his opinion that Ayaan Hirsi Ali should stop expressing hers: 'She should not create problems.' Well, that's what several decades of leftist 'turn the table' rhetorics will get you. It seems these people are integrating quite nicely when it comes to employing the same kind of veiled threats Dutch politicians used to ostracize Pim Fortuyn when he spoke unpleasant truths. Hopefully, this story will have a happier ending.
Dutch people united in their defense of freedom of speech
According to a survey by Dutch tv channel RTL a staggering number of 84 percent feels that Ayaan Hirsi Ali should film Submission part II. Yes, that's staggering. The same survey concluded that only 36 percent of the Dutch have positive feelings towards the film (43 percent neutral, 20 percent negative). 88 percent of those questioned think the film should be allowed under the principle of freedom of the press (so there's apparently at least 4 percent of the Dutch population that feels the film should not be made, but think it should be allowed anyway. Odd.).
Mind you, 73 percent of the Dutch expects a backlash from the Islamic world, with 56 percent reckoning there will be a boycott of Dutch products, which fortunately means more liquorice for us. (BTW, the latter number isn't in the hyperlinked article, but was transcribed from the tv broadcast.) This makes the results of the survey all the more important, since it means that those questioned stand by their principles even though they're aware of the probable consequences. It's good to know the Dutch people are more courageous than their government.
Meanwhile, here is some television footage of Muslim youngsters torching Danish flags in Limburg, a province most Dutch wish wasn't part of the country anyway. (Just joking, dear Limburg visitors. You bake great cakes.)
Starting this year, I'll be spending twice as much on healthcare insurance thanks to a botched attempt by the so-called free-market party VVD to privatize the sector.
If only. If anything, healthcare in the Netherlands is getting more of that good ol' East European charm by the day.
Imagine my surprise when I called my GP today for an appointment, only to hear that the next available slot was on Friday. Apparently, she doesn't work on Thursdays, and Wednesday was already booked full.
It's very much free-market to choose your own hours, and if my GP wants to work four days a week (or three, or two, or one) then that's fine by me. As long as there's an industry in place that makes it possible for me to go to an alternative supplier of medical services.
The sad truth is that such an industry is, in fact, not in place. Healthcare institutions and the government have worked strenuously for years now to create an artificial scarcity on the market. The number of medical schools is limited, and so is the number of places for students. Rather than increasing the number of teachers, we hold lotteries (for selecting on proficiency would be discriminatory) to keep the number of future doctors down to an insufficient number.
Add to that the fact that it isn't really easy to go to an alternative GP in case your own one decides having two days a week off isn't enough. There is an emergency service, but it isn't much use unless you happen to be bleeding to death. And though more and more Dutch GP's expect their patients to adapt to their schedules by being unavailable for 3/7th of the week, there is very little appreciation in the medical community for the fact that more and more of those patients themselves lead ever busier lives, and may not be able to accept an appointment at an inconvenient time which lies some three days in the future to begin with.
There have been a few attempts to commercialize GP services. In The Hague, a total of fifteen GP's have grouped together to offer consultations during extended hours. Alas, they don't accept customers outside that area. And the response from the medical community has been by and large sceptical, if not downright hostile. Which means it may take years before such services become available in the capital, where I live.
If an increasing number of Dutch decide to slash their wrists, you may therefore be mistaken in assuming that they seek to end their lives. It may simply be the quickest way to get a GP to prescribe them some corticosteroids to deal with a rash.
In a move which is both courageous and stupid, Dutch blogger 'Reet' (a Dutch colloquialism for 'ass') of the blog 'Retecool' (a Dutch colloquialism for, er, "really" cool) has started a Photoshop contest in which participants create parodies of Mohammed. The contest can be viewed here (a mirror can be found here).
It's a brave move which I applaud, especially considering the cowardly attitude of the European Commission, which, according to Elsevier, seeks to curtail the press rather than deal with the real issue at hand: the lack of respect amongst some Muslims for freedom of speech (if not sheer hatred). Then again, the Balkan Wars should tell you all there is to know about the 'courage' of European leaders.
And yes, some of the photographs on Retecool are childish, rude or both. But that's how I felt about 'The Last Temptation of Christ' when I grew up, still being an orthodox Christian at the time. Which is precisely why I didn't demonstrate in the streets or threaten anyone, as arguing with a fool only makes it harder for other people to spot the difference. If only some people in the Middle East would figure that one out.
Either that, or Mohammed Bouyeri is not really evil. Mr. Bouyeri today took the opportunity to deliver his personal testimony to the court in the case of the government against the Hofstad Group. Mr. Bouyeri is already serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, and thus cannot receive an additional sentence under Dutch law. So it was quite pleasing to see how Mr. Bouyeri indirectly helped the prosecution to make its case that the Hofstad Group intended to pursue their religious beliefs through violence, namely, by praising Osama Bin Laden:
"Comparing me to Osama bin Laden does the man a great wrong and extends me too much honour I don't deserve," Bouyeri said.
"But it fills me with me with honour, pride and joy that you see me as the standard-bearer of Islam in Europe," he told the prosecution.
Apart from that, Mr. Bouyeri mainly spouted nonsense and quoted books on Freud and Kuhn that he had failed to understand. This led Mr. Afshin Ellian, a law professor who is originally from Iran but who has become known as a fierce critic of radical Islam, to comment that 'if Mr. Bouyeri had been able to get his hands on a copy of Playboy, he would have quoted that magazine as well.'
Indeed. Cameras were not allowed inside the court room, nor were radio reporters. Fortunately, a journalist from Nieuwe Revu, a magazine, managed to smuggle a recorder inside (gotta love court security. If a suicide bomber blows up a government building in the next few months, color me unsurprised). The recording lasts 43 minutes and can be downloaded here or here.
You don't need to be fluent in Dutch to be able to determine that Mr. Bouyeri talks a little bit too much for someone who claims to have a clear goal in liife. Perhaps the effects of his brain washing by the Syrian are beginning to wear off. In which case he will wake up one morning in a prison cell, in the realisation that he butchered a man and will have to spend the rest of his waking hours in solitude. Hours that will become a purgatory of penance, rather than a self-glorifying martyr experience.
It would be more merciful to wish, for his sake, that he remains a radical until the day he dies.
I sent someone the following reply after he'd sent me an article in which (yet again) a journalist thinks the Netherlands have gone 'right-wing' because of Pim Fortuyn. I heartily disagree:
Fortuyn didn't do anything. He just made apparent what was already there: civil discontent on a massive scale. The populist sentiment is that Moroccan youngsters get government support to fund a place to get together and harass the neighbourhood from, but any other citizen will be fined 50 euros if he takes out his trash an hour early. That's a good way to sow discontent with the natives. It is not the fault of immigrants, but of our politicians, and Fortuyn dared to say so, because he wasn't one of them. Likewise, the current problems with 'about a 100 or so' kids (mainly Moroccans) who terrorize neighbourhoods in Amsterdam are not the sole fault, imho, of those Moroccans. In the USA these guys would have been locked up. Here, the police dare not intervene in case the situation 'escalates'. Guess what: it already has. But the Dutch fear of bringing problems out into the open (we have a compromise culture in which we like to solve problems by debating them ad nauseam) - because we would need several massive standoffs with these thugs before they'd be subdued - has created passivity by which the thugs feel empowered, and the average Dutchman feels abandoned (and the average Moroccan immigrant as well, for he gets rejected time and time again at job interviews because of the racism that has sprung up after years of the police not having dealt with his, er, less ambitious fellow immigrants). That's why Fortuyn was succesful. Not because he was smart, although he was. Not because he gave bigots someone to vote for - just check the statistics on the huge number of immigrants that voted for him! And not because he was a good politician, because he wasn't. But because he dared to spell out the problems, which are of our own making.
This would also be my response to the current unrest in the city. If mayor Job Cohen is finally meaning business, I'll applaud his actions. But unlike Pieter I am sceptical it's anything other than yet more talk.
In March we'll have city council elections, which in the Netherlands generally take place simultaneously in all municipalities. Now the right of centre CDA (Christian Democrats) have announced that they want to ban 'hate speech'. Also, they'll push for a faster prohibition of political parties that have the wrong kind of agenda.
Typical Dutch authoritarianism: solve a problem by creating more restrictions. I'd rather have 'extremists' compete for their share of the voters in the marketplace of ideas, where their bigotry is in the open for everyone to see, but I guess that's too much to ask from a party that has always believed in a government ruling over the people, rather than in a government by the people.
Update January 16, 16.17: Why is it that people who have reasonable points to make are afraid of seeing those points published on this website? I received an email of someone who I won't name stating that Jan Tromp is not anti-American. I can't look inside Mr. Tromp's head, but since I know and respect the person who emailed me about it, I'll have to take his word for it. No insult was intended, and I apologize if it was interpreted as such. Nevertheless, I stand by my assessment that most of Mr. Tromp's articles seem - well - very America-sceptical to me (and that's an understatement), up to the point that they reminded me of the old (and not entirely true anymore) joke about de Volkskrant, his newspaper: wrap a cucumber in it and you'll end up with a gherkin.
Then again, that's why I asked the question in the first place. Journalists are people too. If the things they've written in the past make readers (in this case: me) suspicious of their motives now, then open source journalism would be a valuable tool to help validate their articles, both for their own sakes and for the sake of the appreciation of journalism as a profession. Mind you, our credibility rating is plummeting faster than that of lawyers. Journalists can either blame the customer, or become more open to scrutiny themselves.
Update Sunday, January 15, 18.36: I've since received an email alerting me to the fact that Tromp was probably right with his interview, meaning I should retract this post. Since this article asks a question, and does not come to any conclusions but considers the possibility of stupidity on the part of Bremer as well (which turns out to have been the case), I find that hard to do so other than in the way I already did in the comments. Journalists question the motives of politicians every day, and rightly so. The motives of journalists should be subjected to at least as much scrutiny (yes, mine included). Also, I am not sure why I should retract my comments with regard to Tromp - although I admit I could have done offered some case history to better illustrate my claim that he's less than neutral when it comes to reporting about the USA.
The article was intended to be a claim for more openness. Knowing journalism from the inside I am aware that we are, in fact, capable of producing sloppy and/or biased work. Suspicions about those biases often remain just that: they're hard, if not impossible, to prove without a long investigation which in effect will be useless since any results, if they surface at all, won't be forthcoming until long after the issue the article dealt with has ceased to be of importance.
I have long been bothered by the fact that especially in Dutch journalism, where no fact checkers are employed, publishing your notes or even releasing a tape of the interview often only takes place after a huge public uproar. In the system of checks and balances we're unbalanced and definitely not checked. There's open source software; there's open source science. Perhaps it's time for open source journalism as well.
Jan Tromp is a vitriolic anti-American reporter, stationed in the USA by de Volkskrant, a left-wing newspaper. So it was with considerable amazement when today's edition of de Volkskrant featured an interview by Tromp with Paul Bremer, former governor of Iraq. In it, Bremer supposedly threatens the Netherlands with sanctions if the Dutch don't send more troops to Afghanistan. (An abridged English version can be found here.)
If this is true, it's an incredibly stupid move. It would be undiplomatic, if not ungrateful, to try to force the Dutch parliament into anything. Mind you, the Dutch already have SpecOps in combat roles in Afghanistan. We also had troops in Iraq, who stayed on longer than the official commitment. If Bremer is really trying to blackmail the Dutch into anything, the effect will be exactly the opposite. (If any Americans out there fail to understand this, try imagining the French trying to coerce *you* into something - your heels will be in the sand before you can say 'croque monsieur' or 'freedom fries'. No country worth its salt likes to be told what to do.)
Then again, this is de Volkskrant. If red printing ink were cheaper, they'd use it (and if it were only slightly more expensive, probably too). Coming from Jan Tromp, I smell a setup. Paraphrasing quotes is quite common in the Netherlands. Subsequently, so is the practice of interviewees demanding to read the article before it is published. In America and the UK, vetting articles is often anathema. Therefore, I think it's unlikely Bremer took a look at the article before it was published.
De Volkskrant and Tromp will have known in advance that this article would only serve to further strengthen the case of those who are against the new deployment. And although politicians in The Hague might consider the source of this article, it still gives them an excuse to say 'no' when the issue comes to a vote, somewhere in February.
The solution to this predicament is clear. If there's a tape of the interview, de Volkskrant should publish it. If not, Bremer should make an unequivocal statement. If he said this, he should apologize. If he didn't, Jan Tromp should. The issue of sending Dutch soldiers into a combat zone is too important to be resolved through propaganda.
It's all speculative, of course. Nevertheless, I work for Quote, a business magazine which got shot at in 2003 after some articles about connections between criminals and the 'normal' world. The police recovered 19 bullets at the office, and one more at the home address of the owner (in the ceiling of his son's bedroom). The fact that they took aim at a not exactly leftist business magazine suggests that these people could care less about your political persuasions.
Now it looks like an extra group of Dutch Special Forces may not be bound for Afghanistan to deal with terrorists because of the Bush administration's unwillingness to be clear about the rules by which the GWOT is fought. Secretary Ben Bot of Foreign Affairs made the following statements about the alleged secret prisons in former Eastern Europe:
"The United States must not play hide-and-seek. Sooner or later, it will come out anyway," said Bot on the EU's request for clarification on the alleged CIA prisons. Bot also said the Americans "have sought out the boundaries" of what is permissible in the fight against terrorism."
Secretary Ben Bot is a weasel (i.e. a diplomat) and I don't like him at all. But he does have a point. If there is nothing going on, why hasn't the Bush administration offered a staunch denial of the existence of such prisons?
The Bush administration has even managed to irritate the VVD. This is exceptional, for the conservative VVD is very much a pro-American party. What struck me was the harsh language that was used by MP Hans van Baalen, normally an ardent supporter of the United States and a proponent of the war against Iraq (for the record, so was I):
"The VVD supports the United States, but this support can be lost. (...) Even terrorists have rights, even though we condemn their actions. (...) The war against terrorism can only be won from a position of moral superiority, and that will be lost if we have to condemn our own actions."
I tend to agree. We play this game by sticking to the rules (rules which, by the way, we made ourselves). Either that, or calls for a time-out are warranted, if not to follow through on those calls, then to make sure the West is united in upholding similar moral values. After all, it was the United States that took great strides towards universal human values by encouraging human rights, first by cooperating with other countries in the United Nations to get the UDHR adopted, then through the Helsinki Accords.
This legacy must not be lost or even tarnished. And if it takes some harsh words of a proud friend of the United States to keep its current administration from forgetting the end by being uncritical about the means, so be it.
USA does operate torture flights out of the Netherlands
The culprit is US Airways, a company which torments its travellers by putting them into burning aeroplanes. The plane was supposed to travel from Amsterdam to Philadelphia, but the pilot apparently decided that he didn't need the extra illumination on his left wing, and returned to Schiphol Airport. No one was injured.
There's one thing I don't understand about the current government. OK, there are a number of things, but the one that strikes me today is the way in which the Balkenende administration has put forth anti-terror legislation.
Justice secretary Donner has on several occasions attempted to curb our freedom of speech in a number of ways to stop radical Islamism. Apart from being wrong in principle, for I have rather libertarian views on such matters, taking this measure would also cause unwanted side effects, such as hate preachers going underground, which would make it harder to track them.
It seems to me energy spent on such rather dangerous and unproductive ideas would be better invested in trying to improve current anti-terror laws. Samir Azzouz walked from the appeals court today, who ruled that Azzouz did have terrorist intentions, but hadn't gone through enough preparatory motions to be eligible for a free stay in one of our famous burning prisons. (He'll remain in jail for the time being, as he's been indicted on other charges as well.)
I really don't like laws and I think this country could do with a fair few less. Also, I deplore the knee-jerk adoption of laws by politicians who feel more comfortable pleasing their electorate by looking steadfast, rather than explaining to them how the police is unable to make the most of the ones that are already in place. But if a triumvirate of judges say a guy is up to no good, and can't find the legal means to jail him, then the government and Parliament need to step in. Pronto.
For many Muslims in Europe, self-segregation has come naturally. What's tragic is that European authorities have supported it. Rejecting the American approach - namely, encouraging immigrants to work and integrate - they've instead helped newcomers to maintain distinct communities and provided benefits that have made it easy for them to stay unemployed. Why did these authorities prefer segregation? Supposedly they were enlightened "multiculturalists" who respected differences; for many, the real reason was a profound discomfort with the idea of "them" becoming "us." Naively, they imagined they could preserve their nations' cultural homogeneity while letting in millions of foreigners and smiling on their preservation and perpetuation of values drastically different from their own.
Knowing the small-town mentality of many of our leaders, I find this theory disturbingly plausible.
Now that all other crimes in the Netherlands have been solved, MP Geert Wilders has seen fit to offer a reward of 10,000 euros to the person who can help trace the two guys who killed a dog.
Like many fellow citizens, which by no means is meant to exclude holiday makers, holders of residence permits or illegal aliens, I was quite horrified when I heard of this crime. It involved two muggers, who first kicked down an old handicapped lady and then made her watch as they choked her five months old dog to death.
(Sadly, It is not known if the muggers are supportive of the McCain Amendment.)
Seriously, these punks are (pun intended) a bunch of sick puppies. Get them, jail them until they've gotten so old they need a cane to walk, then give them community service for the rest of their lives, scooping up dog shit until they stumble, fall in said excrements and choke to death. I sure as hell won't help them to get up.
There are quite a few Dutch who feel the same way, although they express their sentiments a bit less floridly. And understandably so. Outrage after violence has struck those who can't fend for themselves is very much a sign of a healthy society.
But (there always is one) I get a bit suspicious when MP's start handing out substantial amounts of money for what according to the law is a relatively minor offense, as compared to, say, the gang rape in Rotterdam that took place a while ago, or the assassination of a political activist yesterday night, or the string of mob murders that currently has Amsterdam wondering who'll be shot off his bike next. Or, on the subject of animal welfare, what about the sparrow that was killed with a BB gun when it threatened to disrupt a domino record attempt.
(Sign the condolence register for said sparrow here or here. Yes, we've gone bonkers. Disclaimer: I am not in favor of shooting domino record attempt organizers instead. That would be too merciful. I'm thinking more along the lines of banning them from the airwaves forever, as there's plenty of coma-inducing television already.)
It's not that I want to be overtly cynical, it's that it seems to be nearly impossible to be that when it comes to Mr. Wilders. It couldn't, for example, be the case that Mr. Wilders' generous reward (which initially was only 1,000 euros because cheap publicity comes at a low price - fortunately, an anonymous benefactor upped the amount) is offered solely because Mr. Wilders wants to capitalize on the current public uproar?
Probably not, because it is well known that Mr. Wilders is abhorred by anything that degrades Dutch society, and such political opportunism would constitute precisely that.
An advisory board has recommended David Rietveld, the one sane left-winger in the entire country, for an electable slot on the Green Party (GroenLinks) candidate list for the city council of The Hague.
I found this quote in their recommendation to be especially revealing:
'The advisory board is critical about David's reflective attitude. This may make him appear hesitant.'
What the f? So in order to become a left-wing politician in the Netherlands, you can't be too nuanced or they'll select someone else as their candidate? Yes, this explains a lot.
Nevertheless, congratulations, David, and make us neocons (i.e. former lefties who've come to their senses) proud.
David Rietveld, the one sane liberal blogger in the whole of the Netherlands (so of course his Green Party won't let him run for Parliament), attacks the conservative VVD party on his blog.
Nice try, but he's not nearly as nasty as he could have been. Take for example this American article about Noam Chomsky's investment policies. Now that's burning someone down to the ground. Come on, David, go west. Surely Dutch political polemics can be equally vicious as their American counterparts?
In an article about the illegal sale of Tamiflu weekly Elsevier makes a huge mistake:
'These drugs (Tamiflu and Relenza, ZE) offer no protection against the H5N1 variant of the bird flu virus.'
Yes, they do. The 'N' in H5N1 is short for neuraminedase. Tamiflu as well as Relenza (I've stocked up on both) are neuraminedase inhibitors. That's not news: we knew that at least four years ago. Both offer some measure of protection against H5N1, although there have been cases where Tamiflu has ceased to be effective. Which, incidentally, is why I got a prescription for Relenza as well as I've got no faith in the Dutch government whatsoever to deal with a crisis, should H5N1 mutate into an airborn virus.
I assume the author of the article - none is mentioned - is confusing Tamiflu with a flu shot. The flu vaccine doesn't offer any protection against H5N1, because it wasn't included in this year's cocktail. Still, it's a good idea to get a flu shot annually (I got mine yesterday), even if you're young, because my university says so ;-)
It's nice to know that Azzouz worked hard to better himself. After all, a chemistry degree could have helped him to get a decent job. Which is probably why the District Attorney has revealed that Azzouz had recorded a video testament of himself. This testament was the immediate reason for his sudden arrest on Friday.
Samir Azzouz is amongst them. Some of you may remember that Azzouz walked earlier this year, after which he whacked a journalist (the latter of course being a mitigating circumstance - at least no actual human beings got hurt).
Amsterdam city council discriminates against the poor
Yes, the headline is somewhat sensationalist, but it is true. The Amsterdam city council has decided it's a good idea to further limit the number of cars in the city. People should drop off their cars in big parking garages near the ring road and then spend about half an hour getting to their homes. If they can get into those parking garages, because the ring road is usually jammed. I predict a lot of agression and a lot more stalled traffic, wasting a lot more gas whilst working to create an er... 'cleaner' atmosphere.
Now here's the discriminatory part. They also want to limit the distribution of parking permits. 'Dirty' cars won't get one anymore. Now, this won't affect people like me with a relatively new and clean vehicle (I drive 22-24 kilometres to the litre at 100 km/h highways, depending on wind conditions). Hell, even if it does, I've got the resources to trade it in for a cleaner one. Wat it will do, however, is further decrease the mobility of those with lower incomes, thus also decreasing their ability to get better paid jobs which often require the possession of a car, especially for those with limited education.
Of course, they'll try to rally support for their plans by making this about Big Bad SUV's (I hate those too, although their owners do already pay an obscene amount of BPM and road tax) and Those Nasty Filthy Rich Spoiling The World For Our Children - but anyone driving a 1988 Volkswagen without the money for a decent set of soot filters (the danger of so-called 'fine dust' is still highly dubious at best, despite vehement claims of environmental organizations to the contrary) can pretty much look forward to a daily tram transit to a huge garage 5 clicks from his house.
If you, like me, think this is a ludicrous and discriminatory idea, send your concerns to:
Dienst Milieu en Bouwtoezicht,
t.a.v. Harry van Bergen
1000 AX Amsterdam
(Note: I don't consider myself to be right-wing in the Dutch political spectrum. Over here, right-wing parties, generally considered to be the VVD and the CDA, are social conservatives. I, however, am a liberal (in the original sense).)
On September 11, 2001, I was in a laboratory, attending a biotechnology course for journalists. DNA analysis was slightly more complicated at the time than it is now, and as a result I didn't notice my cell phone buzzing. When I got out of the building at just before 5 PM Central European Time, or 11 AM Eastern Standard Time, I finally glanced at the text messages I'd received.
"What do you know about those small planes that crashed in New York?" They were from a friend of mine. She was someone who once had admitted to feeling stoned after I'd cooked us some pasta - and no, I didn't add some Dutch 'fine kitchen herbs' - so I didn't pay much attention.
When I got to Delft Central Station, my train was delayed. I went to get some fries.
The man behind the counter, with what in PC terms is called "a Southern European accent", was beaming. He asked whether I'd like some "war fries".
War fries are a common Dutch snack; it's the somewhat grisly name for fries that have been sprinkled with onions and soaked in both ketchup and satay sauce. The result is as tasty as it looks gruesome: hence the name.
Suggesting to a customer to order it, however, is quite uncommon. Dutch food sellers are not known for being excessively customer-oriented. And smiling while offering such an advice is outright extraordinary.
Finally I glanced up to the tv screen behind him, to see the North tower of the World Trade Center collapse in agonizing replay. Carnage rerun. In horror, I realised why the man was smiling.
The World Trade Center I had slept in only a few months before. The World Trade Center where I met someone I held dear. The World Trade Center that I got to see on a clear March night from the snow-covered roof of a SoHo lopht.
That World Trade Center was gone.
I decided to skip the fries.
(Thanks to George for making the Dutch Eagle and American Lion flags.)
The Dutch navy dispatches the Hr.Ms. Van Amstel. The Dutch government hasn't waited for a request to be made, but deployed the vessel anyway, as it will take 4 to 5 days to get there from Curaçao.
Other help has been offered: water management experts, dike engineers, disaster identification teams, systems that can create potable water, F-16 aircraft as well as a defense diving platoon.
The US Army Corps of Civil Engineers has called for the help of the water management experts of the Technische Universiteit (Technical University) Delft. The latter suggest a New Orleans version of the Delta Works in this newspaper article. One of the Delft experts proposes building an American version of the Oosterscheldekering, which is something we're really proud of around here. Basically it's a dam which doesn't destroy wildlife in river deltas behind it. The Oosterscheldekering is a partially computer-controlled contraption which closes itself automatically during storms, so the environment in the delta behind the Oosterscheldekering remains largely unaffected under normal weather circumstances. Although it's not a cheap solution, there are some important wetlands in the Dutch province of Zeeland. (Yes, I'm a capitalist who thinks proper nature management is a good idea. So sue me.) I believe similar concerns may apply to New Orleans. Hey, as they say: God created the world, we created the Netherlands.
Dutch residents who want to help out the non-government funded relief organizations can donate to Rode Kruis giro 19800. (I prefer AmeriCares.)
The guy that sticks his finger in dikes has been banned from travelling to the USA because he's apparently on a terrorism watch list. Sorry, couldn't resist.
Earlier today, fellow Dutchman Bart offered the following questions regarding the Katrina disaster:
Where are the Dutch marines from Aruba?
Where are the Dutch "water management" engineers?
Why aren't there planes on the way with special equipment and pumps?
Where is the Dutch field hospital? (public health is going to be a huge problem)
To which I can answer that the Netherlands has offered a dike inspection team which is on standby for immediate departure to the USA.
Je maintiendrai! Now, where's the:
Dutch navy armada? We have a *huge* hospital ship.
Statement of secretary Ben Bot of Foreign Affairs, in which he offers his sympathies to the American people in their hour of need?
And where's the Red Cross with a national fund raiser?
A certain continent seems to be missing in this disaster map
Yes, according to the Dutch Red Cross, disasters happen all over the world, except in Australia, New Zealand and North America.
Could be they're just lazy updating their maps, but if that's true, the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs is suffering from the same tardiness. Their press release section contains a lot of stuff about outfitting the Palestinian security forces with new kit, but nothing about helping out the victims of Katrina.
To be fair, the Dutch Red Cross does mention the disaster - but you have to scroll down on their homepage. There's no call for donations either, something that isn't omitted from the most recent article on their website, which is about the former Green Party leader kicking of a campaign to raise funds for combating the famine in Niger. I agree, that's important too. But why make a choice? What's so hard about adding the 'please donate' line to the Katrina article as well?
Thanks guys, for making me feel proud to be Dutch. It's a good thing America stopped giving us Marshall Aid in 1952, a year before the dikes in Zeeland broke. Otherwise, I might feel cheap or something.
Well, the good thing about a government is that you can do as you please with the money they didn't take from you. So I've decided to donate directly to the hurricane victims in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. May I kindly encourage my fellow Dutchies to do the same.
I chose a small organization as I'm very skeptical of huge charities such as the Red Cross. And any other sort of large organization, for that matter. Also, the added advantage of this outfit is that they accept smaller amounts. Plus, you can pay through PayPal.
Maybe America doesn't need our help, but the government could at least have offered it. As far as I know, they haven't. Both my father and I are ferocious news consumers. Neither of us heard any official making a statement of the kind, which is bad, or even heard a journalist pop the question, which, I'm sad to say, doesn't surprise me in the least.
Rest assured that the ministry of Foreign Affairs will have an angry citizen calling tomorrow.
Charles Groenhuijsen, about whom I've written before, has decided to yield to Dutch PBS and leave the United States. He will anchor Dutch PBS news from the Netherlands, rather than from Washington, DC. He will start on January 1, 2006.
Well, I guess it's an improvement over current anchor Philip Freriks, who doesn't even speak Dutch. I don't know what he does speak, but it's not the language I was brought up in. He seems to be rather anti-American, which is not all that surprising, as he worked as the Dutch PBS correspondent in France for a long time. Before that, Freriks apparently worked on the train service between Paris and Amsterdam (other sources claim he worked for Wagon Lits. I'd welcome any additional information).
Will you please rise for the singing of our national anthem
There has been a time that the Dutch were ashamed of showing nationalism. This is perhaps understandable on a continent which has seen how much havoc an excess of nationalism can wreak. The realization that there's perhaps more to nationalism than just the desire to gas everybody who isn't of the correct lineage in concentration camps, took a while to seep through.
Nowadays though, more of the Dutch are becoming aware that it might be a good thing if people were somewhat proud of the country they live in. For example, they might start to make more of an effort to keep the place liveable. Two phenomena which functioned as a catalyst for this process are soccer, and to a lesser extent the murder of Theo van Gogh. A few years ago, the press began speaking with indignation of soccer players who couldn't even get through the first verse of the Wilhelmus, our national anthem.
Since the murder of Theo van Gogh, secretary Rita Verdonk of Immigration has seen fit to introduce a bit of nationalism into our naturalization procedures.
In the past, becoming Dutch was as easy (well...) as sitting through endless interviews with immigration officials. I think they sent you your naturalization papers through the mail. No 'new citizen ceremony', no pledge of allegiance, nothing. Make becoming Dutch seem like getting a fishing license and people will treat it as such: as just another piece of paper which holds the same value as an insurance policy. You don't want to lose it, but do you love it? Nope.
So personally I think it was a great idea of Ms. Verdonk to have a bit of a party to welcome a few new citizens to our fair, if rather moist, country. Everybody got a Dutch flag, a copy of our constitution, and they even sang the Wilhelmus, the first and the sixth verse. That is, except for a journalist from Business News Radio. He claimed he, as well as several civil servants, had never even heard of the sixth stanza of our national anthem.
Right. When I was brought up - which isn't ages ago as I'm 30 - the first and sixth verse of the Wilhelmus were compulsory singing at Queen's Day, our national holiday (comparable somewhat to the Fourth of July, although a bit less formal). So for the benefit of Business News Radio, and all other traitors (just kidding), here's the text of the first and sixth verse, plus translations, plus several MP3's, a bit more down. Boy, am I spoiling you guys rotten...
And Rita, loosen up next time, will you? I know you were in charge of a prison, but there's no need to sound like a warden all the time. Not at a party, at least.
Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
ben ik, van Duitsen bloed,
den vaderland getrouwe
blijf ik tot in den dood.
Een Prinse van Oranje
ben ik, vrij onverveerd,
den Koning van Hispanje
heb ik altijd geëerd.
Mijn schild ende betrouwen
zijt Gij, o God mijn Heer,
op U zo wil ik bouwen,
Verlaat mij nimmermeer.
Dat ik doch vroom mag blijven,
uw dienaar t'aller stond,
de tirannie verdrijven
die mij mijn hart doorwondt.
William of Nassau, scion
Of a Dutch and ancient line,
Faith to this land of mine.
A prince I am, undaunted,
Of Orange, ever free,
To the king of Spain I've granted
A lifelong loyalty.
My shield and loyalty
art Thou, o God my Lord
on You I shall build
never abandon me
so that I shall remain strong
Your servant at all times
the tyranny repel
which stabs (me through) my heart
I've got six versions available for download, all in one neat package which can be found here. Rapidshare (the hoster) can be a bit tricky to navigate. Scroll down and select the 'free' option. Scroll down again. You'll notice there's a counter. Yes, you'll have to wait a bit before the text 'wilhelmus.exe' appears. When it does, click on it and download away. If all else fails, try reading the instructions.
1. The instrumental version, played by a Dutch army band.
2. The version with lyrics (which gets un-Dutchically patriotic - i.e., they start using copper instruments, which most Dutch feel is best left to Americans - from about 1"37'. It also contains the sixth verse, starting at 0"49').
3. The organ version, which is very, very, veeeeery long.
4. The er... farmer version, with lyrics that are for the most part not at all like the original.
5. The eurodance version, usually played at soccer fests. There's a bit of another melody somewhere in the middle.
6. The acid house version, usually not played at all, and with very good reason.
(People who'd rather have some music from Sensation White can go to alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.dance.)
And visit this little kid's blog, if only to give his pageviews a hike. Yannick is 8 years old and suffering from B-cell lymphoma. Unlike some varieties of (non-)Hodgkin's disease, this one isn't easy to cure.
The writing style of his blog seems to suggest it was written by his mother (this is of course purely speculative), which in turn suggests that it is his parents that could use our support as well (though one hardly needs even the limited brain capacity of a journalist to figure that one out).
Which means they can probably read English.
Which means there's no excuse to not get yo' lazy ass over there and leave a few kind words.
Are there questions you'd like to ask of your fellow Muslim citizens, but never before have you been able to muster enough courage?
Then go and travel to the fair (cough) city of Almelo (where, incidentally, I was born on Friday the 13th, 1975 - yes, I've heard all the jokes). In the local library you can rent a Muslim for an hour.
Oh, if you're already tolerant of Muslims, you can talk to a gay person or someone who lives in a trailer camp instead. You can then ask him or her all the questions you never dared to before.
This is condescending on so many levels I don't know where to start, but I’ll have a go at it anyway.
If I were a member of an ethnic group or minority, and members of 'my' group are being discriminated against, I would feel no need whatsoever to talk to people who want to speak with me, as they are probably without prejudice already.
If I were a member of an ethnic group or minority, and other members of that group are making a mess of things (we've had people from a trailer camp blocking an entire highway for half a day), I would never feel the need to defend myself for stuff I didn't do.
In other words, this idea is degrading.
At the same time, it's condescending towards the customers of said library. It is a fact that there are problems with integrating Muslim immigrants into Dutch society. It is also a fact that there have been quite a few police raids of trailer camps in the past few years.
How big these problems are and how they should be tackled are matters on which reasonable people can disagree. But pretending they are purely a matter of perspective, issues which can be resolved by simply letting the ignorant people have a chat with the embattled ones, is rather patronizing.
The only people that would benefit from this scheme are those who have racist or otherwise prejudiced views of either gays, Muslims or people who live in trailer camps. Now, how many of them do you think are going to show up?
Pieter, being the polite guy he is, passes up a perfect opportunity to make nasty remarks about the psychiatric profession in his otherwise excellent piece on the Dutch treatment of the criminally insane. I on the other hand, being a genuine asshole, have no such reservations. Pieter writes:
Society at large considers those convicted with a TBS-sentence (psychiatric treatment after being convicted of a usually very violent crime, ZE) as criminals, whereas the professionals that run these outfits view their clients primarily as patients, sure to be cured at some point in time.
Funny, no quotation marks around 'clients'. Convicted felons are clients nowadays? Anyway, I digress.
< metaphor mode>
There's an expression about a fox guarding a hen house. Now I'm not a native speaker, but it's my understanding that this is generally considered to be a bad idea. Thus, it seems to me that having hens guarding a kennel full of foxes would be even worse. I mean, if hens are so good at assessing the mental health of foxes, why are the latter still higher up in the food chain? In other words, don't trust a psychiatrist treating convicted killers unless he's killed someone himself - er, no, I wouldn't go that far.
< /metaphor mode>
Most psychiatrists and psychologists are total pussies. I know. I used to try to become one, but Exaqetal, Dutch God of Illegal Drugs, spoke to me and I was saved from almost certain eternal damnation.
What I guess I'm trying to say is this. You don't become a psychologist unless you're trying to save the world (i.e. the people therein), which in time often leads to the belief that every single person in it is not beyond redemption. Sadly, this usually isn't the case, but psychologists, being the delusional optimists they are, tend to be unable to be convinced otherwise - or quit psychology when they are persuaded.
(So my dating advice for today is: date psychology coeds. They'll understand you, even if you're a total and utter wanker. Well, they'll fake it. But since when hasn't that been good enough for most blokes?)
I like birds. No, not just chicken parmigiana or the kind that flocks to pubs on Saturday nights, but the feathery ones. So I was kinda disheartened this morning when I read about the death of the one black vulture we have, or rather: had, in the Netherlands. It got hit by a train. Yet another reason to hate public transport.
I empathize with Jeff Jarvis, who probably gets bombarded with interview and survey participation requests a lot more than I do. Nevertheless, I get my fair share and lately I've been declining a few. As Jeff does, I already say 'no' to organizations which do research on behalf of a company. They can hire me for an hourly fee, if they like. Unless, of course, I have personal ties with said organization.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, I threw away an email by a student who was doing her MA paper. I make it a matter of personal pride to always help out students, but this was different. She wanted me to answer survey questions, but couldn't even be bothered to draft more than a very brief standard message. Not only did it address readers as 'Dear journalist' (there's only 10,000 of us in the Netherlands), she didn't even bother to explain what the survey was about exactly, how respondents were selected (i.e. how she got my email address), or whether interviewees would be sent a copy of her paper. There was, however, a very long url to a badly designed website on which I was supposed to fill out lots of questions.
I don't mean to discourage any student from contacting me, but it seems to me that someone who's trying to get a degree in communications might have realized that this is not a very good way to communicate.
Speaking of something else they probably don't have in Canada, in the weekend of 8 and 9 October the Netherlands will host a Pot Still Festival.
This basically equates to everybody paying about 25 euros, and then loading up on rather expensive whisk(e)ys, cognacs, brandies, eaux de vie and other assorted spirits.
Anybody interested in joining me (someone already did sign up): leave your contact details in the comments, or if you're one of those persons who still believes in privacy, drop me a line at iamingoodspirits (at) zachtei.nl.
Those of you who speak Dutch can click here to see what this is all about, and non-perfect people can go there too. They'll just have to click on the Union Jack for a very brief explanation in Engrish.
< waving Dutch tricolor>
Pieter Dorsman discovers there's something to be said for the 'hedonistic' hellhole that is the Netherlands... I figured as much when he emailed me a while back on Sensation White, saying something to the effect that Canada doesn't throw parties like that. Oh, and our MDMA is purer too.
< / waving Dutch tricolor>
If I go into the streets, whacking people against the asphalt, I take the risk of accidentally killing someone. Like in many other countries in the world, the ground in the Netherlands is not made of rubber. Which I guess is a good thing, as it would get all sticky, what with the climate heating up due to solar variation man-made global warming and all that.
My cat understands this. He's a smart cat, and besides, otherwise, I won't feed him more kitty snacks.
However, a Dutch judge doesn't, and has ruled that a guy be jailed for four years, for hitting people at random and killing one in the process. A life verdict being the only exception, all sentences in the Netherlands are regularly commuted to two-thirds of their original length. That is, if you can refrain from raping a guard for the time of your stay (i.e. show 'good behavior').
Here's the hilarious part: 'The judge said he hoped the verdict would serve as a warning to would-be offenders.'
What kind of warning would that be? If you want to kill someone, pretend you're a raving lunatic and make it look like a wanton act of violence? Or 'Killing someone isn't so bad, as long as you pick your targets at random'?
Now I have to read about a foiled bomb attack on Rotterdam at Robert John's blog (not that it isn't a delight to absorb his musings on miniskirts in Iran). Even more weird: Robert John gets his stuff from the Chinese (!) website Xinhua. Here's the story. Xinhua attributes all this to De Telegraaf, which is a large populist newspaper (though not nearly as bad as it's made out to be), but even if that's correct, why didn't any of the quality broadsheets pick it up? Or, for that matter, populist blog GeenStijl, which is closely intertwined with De Telegraaf? (I just did a query at their blog with search string 'Rotterdam' - no relevant results.)
'Look, the fact that we're mobilizing the entire Amsterdam police corps to an extent never before seen during the SAIL nautic event has nothing to do whatsoever with any specific terrorist threat. And no, we still haven't apprehended the guys who recently stole enough diving equipment to mount a major attack on, say, a bunch of tall ships. It's just that we want to be prepared, what with all those Al Qaeda guys roaming the world these days.'
Sheez. Why can't we have a government which doesn't patronize us at every bloody opportunity?
Anyway, I'll be at SAIL next Friday, and I'll bring a camcorder, so if something happens, I'll upload the footage here. Provided I survive, of course.
This analysis of Pieter of Europe's 'points for improvement' is food for thought. If and once I've formed some coherent thoughts on them, I may very well post them.
That being said, there's one thing I don't agree with. Pieter mentions the 'Hedonist complex' as a typical European problem (if it is a problem). Now, this may be due to my personal background, I come from an orthodox Christian family, but I've never thought of the Netherlands as being excessively hedonist. Even now, a significant percentage of the Dutch population (if you can be bothered to drive outside of Amsterdam) can be downright mundane in its morals and way of life.
For every Dutch 'coffee shop' there seems to be an American 'Burning Man' festival, and for every Dutch prostitute there's at least one Latino handing out leaflets full of 'horizontal refreshments' to congress visitors exiting a Las Vegas conference room. If anything, America may be even more hedonist than Europe, or at least offer more hedonist extremes, because with its culture of 'freedom and to hell with everybody else' such extremes have as least as much room for growth as they have here.
No, the problem (with the Netherlands at least, can't speak for the whole of Europe) isn't the presence of a Hedonist complex. Ignoring issues until it becomes impossible to do so is simply a way of life. There's even a proverb about it: the dock turns the ship ('de wal keert het schip').
In some cases, this policy works well as it leads to libertarian policies such as legalizing prostitution, permitting euthanasia and semi-legalizing marihuana, albeit for completely non-libertarian reasons. (In fact, without any moral impetus whatsoever.)
In the case of radical Islam, letting things be obviously does have exactly the opposite effect. Fascists don't start to see the joys of western civilization just because they're allowed to blow it up from the inside.
The Dutch have always, perhaps inadvertently, created freedom by letting things run their course. Now this policy works against them.
There is, however, a bright spot. The Dutch don't particularly appreciate anyone criticizing their tolerance, for they instinctively realize that some of their own freedoms probably stem from that tolerance as well.
Radical Muslims may well evoke the same response if they become violent. In fact, the sickening arson attacks against Dutch mosques in the wake of Van Gogh's murder may have shown how extremely intolerant the Dutch can be towards those who are intolerant towards the Dutch perception of tolerance. The dock may turn the ship once more.
Let's hope it will be done without arson attacks or other violence.
Update 16.05: Pieter has already responded. To which I can only say: good point.
Is this payback from Mr. Ruud Lubbers, who had to resign at the United Nations because Kofi Annan really couldn't deal with yet another problem while he was fighting off the Americans in the oil-for-food scandal?
Or is there some truth to Mr. Lubbers' allegation that the CIA asked the Dutch to let the infamous nuclear spy Kahn go?
What a surprise. The Dutch state news independent and impartial NOS Journaaldoesn't want Mr. Charles Groenhuijsen to be its new anchor.
Part of the reason lies in Mr. Groenhuijsen's request to anchor the news broadcasts from Washington, DC, where he currently lives. However, it's easy to confuse cause and effect. Mr. Groenhuijsen has been at odds with the NOS Journaal for some time because he has said such fascist controversial things as:
'If all America had wanted were Iraq's oil reserves, Bush would have chosen the Chirac method, and invited Saddam over at his ranch to discuss business.'
'When I see whole American families signing up for the military to defend the freedom of others, some Dutch say: Americans are fanatics. I say: I salute you.'
and my personal favorite:
'Many Dutch are what they claim Americans to be: they are suffering from Torremolinos superficiality, BMW rudeness and Vinkeveen egotism.'
So of course I ordered his book ('Amerikanen zijn niet gek', or 'Americans aren't crazy') immediately.
What the Hack is a big hacker conference which is currently taking place in the Dutch town of Liempde. I went there today to do a report for both Blognoot and NRC Handelsblad. I still have to write 1,700 words before I'll see my bed tonight, but hell, I won't be able to sleep in this humidity anyway. In the meantime, feel free to check out the What the Hack photo essay I made for Blognoot.
On Monday July 18 Aslam was advised that the Guardian considered that Hizb ut-Tahrir had promoted violence and anti-semitic material on its website and that membership of the organisation was not compatible with being a Guardian trainee.
The following day Aslam told the editor, Alan Rusbridger, that he was not willing to leave Hizb ut-Tahrir and that, while he personally repudiated anti-semitism, he did not consider the website material to be promoting violence or to be anti-semitic.
The matter was subsequently treated under the paper's grievance and disciplinary procedure. Aslam was invited to a meeting with GNL's chief executive, Carolyn McCall, at which he repeated his refusal to leave the organisation or repudiate its material.
So M(r)s. McCall did the right thing. She may have to do it again very soon, if this article from the Guardian's media section is anything to go by:
The episode was a striking illustration of the way that blogs and bloggers can heat up the temperature and seek to settle scores - as well as raise legitimate concerns about journalism and transparency - when something awful happens in the streets of London.
Er, such as printing an article in which you excuse the murder of 56 Britons as a legitimate act of Muslims 'rocking the boat'?
You know, about ten years ago, I participated in anti-racism demonstrations. At that time, the main promoters of European bigotry were still right-wingers. When I went out to demonstrate against the cowardly attacks on Turkish women in the German city of Solingen, the left was there. The right wasn't, or not as much as it could have been. Helmut Kohl even denied attending their funeral.
Where is the left now? Queen Beatrix has still not met with the parents of the murdered Theo van Gogh. Prime minister Balkenende has, quite correctly, consoled the victims of the mosque arsonist attacks in the wake of Van Gogh's murder, yet failed to do the same for the churches that got torched in the same period. And as far as the Guardian is concerned: don't tell me that excusing murderers, or excusing those who excuse them, doesn't amount to precisely that which you claim others are guilty of: hatred, pure and simple.
The left has become everything they claim the right is: intolerant to ideas others than theirs, intellectualy conservative, and full of irrational anger.
(Incidentally, see the article below for more examples of the Guardian trying to turn things upside down.)
Yes, indeed Sir, isn't it revolting? Furthermore, at full moon, they slaughter virgins while howling 'Allah akbar!' at the sky. And every fortnight, they steal candles from Catholic churches to torch young choir boys with. That is, if they don't use said candles to stick them up their...
Get out yer pitchforks!
Yes, I am being sarcastic. Because this load of drivel in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf can hardly be taken seriously. It tries to ridicule the members of the radical Islamic Hofstadgroep by asserting that they - gasp! - sleep with different girls by calling it a 'trial marriage'. They're hypocrites!
Coming from an orthodox protestant background (no longer religious though), I of course know that adolescents never, ever would try to find excuses to satisfy their natural urges.
Anyway, De Telegraaf goes about this the wrong way. When taking the piss on someone, make sure it is apparent that you do so. Do not try to give it the legitimacy (if there's any left) of journalism. There's a word for that, and it's "propaganda". It's not the job of journalists to engage in that (unless you print it on the Op/Ed page).
Plus, this kind of reporting negates the real danger. Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Van Gogh, is a foot soldier. As are his peers in de Hofstadgroep. Likewise, the London suicide bombers were clean skins: they'd never been engaged in terrorist activities before. The people around them had no clue.
Now, there are a few conclusions to draw from that.
First, the fact that their career was rather short-lived makes it obvious that they are disposable.
Second, these foot soldiers often manage to remain invisible to security services, and in fact, may have been recruited for the very reason that they are not acting all that Islamist. Many are arrested only after they've perpetrated their attack. Mohammed Bouyeri was on a secret service watchlist, but was considered not dangerous until it was too late. The London suicide bombers were not even considered all that radical by their environment.
'Hypocrite behavior' may thus be very helpful to the terrorist masterminds. In fact, the Al Takfir Wal Hijra sect expressly uses this modus operandi. (I do suggest that if you're interested, you read the article I'm linking to. There's some helpful background information there.)
Third, I know of no case where it has become abundantly clear how and by whom the perpetrators of an Islamist attack were (1) recruited, (2) trained, (3) financed. The 9-11 case comes closest. As far as Van Gogh's murder is concerned, the Dutch D.A. couldn't even prove that Bouyeri had had help. Yet, it is obvious that this was the case. Bouyeri had no job and no money, but nevertheless managed to buy an expensive gun and to sustain himself for months on end.
So the point that De Telegraaf tries to make should be reversed. The problem isn't that some Islamic terrorists are hypocrites. The problem is that adolescent hypocrites such as Mohammed Bouyeri, not just pious zealots (if there is such a thing), become terrorist foot soldiers. De Hofstadgroep is a group of useful, albeit dangerous, idiots to the real culprits.
The organizers of terror lurk in the shadows, and ridiculing the danger that comes from them may be rather misleading, to say the least. Surely, they see no problem in recruiting more hypocrites such as Bouyeri, and, as stated before, there's an added advantage. The more normal (i.e. engaging in sex) a person will seem, the less likely it is that security services will take notice.
I expect journalists to try to penetrate said shadows, rather than using sex tales to rally their readers into a primal frenzy.
This roundup of locations with explosive chemicals (factories and the like) is courtesy of the Dutch government (note: I have left out the address information. On the public website where this map comes from, the zip codes can be easily found).
Am I giving terrorists new ideas? I don't think so. This particular government website has been online for three years (!) already. And all the people in my street know that when the local paint factory blows, our windows will too.
So while some people might prefer debate on 'why they hate us', I prefer to keep on voting for parties who send our troops into Afghanistan (there's about 600 Dutch special forces there), lest we stay on the offensive.
You can find his address here or at the bottom of this entry.
There's really no excuse not to send something nice to the murderer of Theo van Gogh as he will probably be serving a life sentence. That's what the D.A. demanded today, anyway. Contrary to popular myth a life sentence does mean a life sentence in the Netherlands. Only under very rare circumstances is it possible to be pardoned - and you have to wait for 20 years before you can even request a premature release (i.e. one without being enclosed in a wooden box).
So even if your letter has to come from McMurdo Station or the ISS, it will arrive in time for Mohammed to read it.
As for what kind of mail he'd like to receive, well, that's up to you of course (note: the prison will screen it). Mohammed really likes everything that has to do with Islamic extremism, and dislikes everything else. Please don't ship goats. I don't approve of cruelty against animals.
Here's Mohammed Bouyeri's addresss until, say, about 2050 and onwards. (I've made a few minor improvements to facilitate international shipping.)
Penitentiaire Inrichting Amsterdam
Locatie De Schans
attn. Mohammed Bouyeri
P.O. Box 41901
NL-1009 CE Amsterdam
(For case details, please read Peaktalk. He does it so well there's really no point in me doing the same thing.)
(Sorry for the crappy picture, which was taken by my cell phone during a thunderstorm.)
As I strongly feel no journalist will be able to get by in a couple of years without at least some rudimentary knowledge of shooting and editing video, I felt my keyboard needed a bit of 'redecorating'.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with video editing software: I applied stickers to my keyboard corresponding with the appropriate command keys in Avid, which is an industry standard in video editing.
Now all I need to do is to learn to actually use it.
OK, they just went too far.
Immigrants in Rotterdam have demanded that a statue of a woman with uncovered breasts be removed.
Their wish was granted.
Now I can live with a big 'Allah is Great' streamer above the halal section in my local supermarket, although I really wonder why there's no 'JHWH da bomb' banner above the shelves with matzes, or one saying 'Jesus thought it smelled alright' near the fish fridge.
I can also live with people who buy their wives black hazmat suits, although personally I like to date women that I can show off with, because I'm a male chauvinist pig halal animal and proud of it.
But I draw the line at other people infringing on my God given right to stare at nudity.
So henceforth Friday will be semi-nude day on Zacht Ei (R rated, not XXX) and I invite all readers to submit links to me. Here's the first one, my special courtesy to all immigrants in Rotterdam.
You read that right. Of course, the whole thing turned out to be a hoax, which is a pity in a way. I would have had a pretty good excuse to go over there and kick their asses. The judge would probably have let me off with 40 hours community service.
Cruelty against humans is awful, but in a way, it is what the good lord put us on earth to do. (I mean, no one does it better.) Cruelty against animals, however, is beyond depravity, and it takes away jobs from good, honest, hard-working chicken trying to peck themselves a living.
(I am past 30 now and thus legally allowed under the Dutch Code of Senior Citizen Behaviour to engage in extreme cynicism.)
Never mind that I really don't like it when people try to use gruesome murders to sell something.
So if you know any Americans who really had a good time when Nick Berg got his head severed, you might wanna give them this phone number.
A guy who wanted to kill himself was encouraged to do so by a rowdy crowd in the Dutch town of Deventer. Fortunately, police nevertheless managed to talk him out of it. Their excuse was that they were drunk. They had better be completely shitfaced if I ever run into one of them. As I understand it, alcohol can be a powerful analgesic.
Dutch Central Bank: trading in guilder too cheaply for euro did increase prices
Which means, of course, that secretary Gerrit Zalm of Finance did lie. According to André Szász, former director of De Nederlandsche Bank, the Dutch 'Fed', the guilder was traded in too cheaply. This resulted in price increases. Szász will acknowledge this tomorrow night in Zembla, a tv program of Dutch PBS (credit to whom it's due). The (Maoist) Socialist Party has already called for a parliamentary inquiry.
Meanwhile, EU Rota (who apparently has way too much time on his hands) knocked together a few numbers and came to similar conclusions. As this graph shows as well:
(Note: CPI means Consumer Price Index. The Eurozone consists of the twelve countries that have adopted the euro.)
A short time ago, I started to blog in Dutch again at BlogNoot. In order to facilitate my readers, and thanks to the fine people at RSS Digest, I've put up a list with the ten most recent articles on BlogNoot in the righthand column of Zacht Ei. Since I've received quite a few mails from Dutch readers wondering if I'd ever start writing in Dutch again, I hope this is some consolation, even though the subject matter of BlogNoot is limited to information technology and gadgets. No politics, sorry. Enjoy!
Rogier had a brief holiday and now he's back in form. Here's his latest rant about something which I touched briefly on: the way Human Rights Watch tries to blame the Crain bashing on the native Dutch for not being nice enough towards the attackers:
And surely you've heard of those much-feared Catholic goon squads, wearing tall pointy hats and wielding sharpened crucifixes as weapons, who violently terrorize gay men holding hands? What, you haven't? Oh. Come to think of it, neither have I.
Pointy hats? Make that tin foil, because, by God, we need to eliminate every single chance of their minds being read.
Not a good idea: to do your first attempt at a 16 km/10 mile run in a normal T-shirt. When I got to 13,5 kms, I was so incredibly cold I had to stop. Nevertheless, that's farther than I've ever run, and at 1 hour 15 minutes, my time could have been a lot worse.
Oh, in case anyone is still interested in my weight loss program: down to 93 kgs from 101 in januari, a loss of 8 kgs, or about 2 kgs per month. This means I'll get to 80 kgs in another six or seven months or so, unless I decide beforehand that my 32" trousers fit again.
By the way, are there more masochists out there who are willing to have a go at the 10 mile Dam to Dam run in September?
Bruce Bawer on Dutch (in)tolerance and gay bashing
In an email to Andrew Sullivan about the attack on Chris Crain:
As for the cops finding the guys who beat up Chris Crain: I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they haven’t lifted a finger. They probably thought he was nuts for confronting the guys. The authorities’ traditional policy is: keep your head down and don’t provoke anybody. In January, two schoolboys in IJsselstein were ordered to remove Dutch flag patches from their backpacks because Moroccan students might consider them provocative. It turned out this flag ban is officially in force at many schools. Meanwhile Muslim kids have pictures of van Gogh's murderer on their lunchboxes because they consider him a hero, and nobody dares tell them to remove those pictures. In a recent article, a teacher at a school in Amsterdam said that a decade ago, ten-year-old Muslim kids were saying, 'We Moroccans are going to take over the Netherlands'; now five-year-olds who can hardly write are scrawling 'Fuck you Netherlands' on scraps of paper.
Can someone *please* tell whichever military band was playing the Star-Spangled Banner and the Wilhelmus, the Dutch national anthem, at Margraten Cemetery today that you're not supposed to play the jazzy versions at a commemoration service? Both anthems have rather stately melodies, but by the time they got to 'And the rocket's red glare' I was actually ready to get out the party hats.
Which makes the following all the more important, because the fine fleur of Dutch journalism has no intention of slowing down in its glorious march towards a better, America-free world. Only a few minutes ago Dutch PBS radio aired an item about the memorial service for the 60th anniversary of V-E Day at Margraten Cemetery tomorrow. They interviewed a WWII vet who is opposed to the very existence of Margraten Cemetery, stating that the US government should have brought the remains home.
Now, the veteran is very much entitled to his opinion, and it has made me curious about how these cemeteries came into being in the first place. But in the past few weeks various American families have spoken out in the Dutch press on the same issue (makes you wonder why it is brought up so often, but anyway). All of them so far told about having had the opportunity of shipping the remains home. And all of them have chosen instead to let their son sleep in the soil of the country in which he died. Hardly a clear-cut issue, although a cynic might say it would suit Dutch PBS not to have any reminders of American sacrifice within our borders.
It is a typical journalist tactic to interview someone who wants to say precisely those things you don't dare to, or can't back up. It's one of the reasons good magazines such as The Economist or Elsevier (disclaimer: I am hugely biased concerning the latter since I write for them) use quotes sparsely. This policy gives a reporter less room to hide behind other people's reputations, and it forces him to do his research, since he can't blame what he wrote on a third party any longer.
So it's a very interesting editorial angle indeed to bring up this issue only hours before Bush arrives in the Netherlands. Maybe Dutch PBS can start collecting signatures to ship all 8,301 Margraten coffins back to the States in order to prevent another American president from landing here in the future. Or even better: they could interview someone who wants to begin collecting signatures. If they start now, they may succeed in having Margraten removed just in time for the 70th anniversary of V-E Day.
I was walking through central Amsterdam with my boyfriend back to our hotel. People were still milling about on the sidewalks from Friday night's revelry. We were only blocks from the most popular gay areas; and we were holding hands.
As we passed two men standing on the side of the street, one of them deliberately spat on us, mainly hitting me in the face. Without saying a word, we stood our ground. We stopped, turned around, and asked why. The man, who looked in his 20s, had Moroccan features and spoke with a heavy accent, murmured something about "fucking fags."
Within seconds, the two somehow turned into seven — and five of them were ganging up on me, probably because at 6-foot-7 I'm a good bit bigger than my boyfriend. It seemed like every direction I turned, I got another punch to the face, and when they kicked me to the ground, time seemed to stop. My heart still races as I write about it now. It felt like the situation had spiraled completely out of my control.
Then just as quickly as it began, it was over. I was standing up on my own, and our attackers were fleeing. There had been dozens of people on the streetcorner, but none of them had acted or even yelled anything. My boyfriend had escaped his attackers and had come to my aid, and that finally convinced the others to run.
Two kinds of herd mentality. One is to only dare attack someone when part of a group, the other is to ignore evil happening in front of you because everyone else is. And both are hallmarks of supreme cowardice.
Sunday is V-E Day. President George W. Bush will visit Margraten Cemetery. There lie the bodies of 8,301 soldiers. It is the only American war cemetery in the Netherlands, and a few weeks ago I drove there to take pictures.
So before the news gets blurred by anti-Bush protesters, here's my tribute to those young American, British and Canadian men who never got to raise a family, so I can do so now in freedom.
Click 'Lees verder' to see some of the nearly 200 pictures I took.
Today is Queen's Day in the Netherlands. It's not a celebration of being queer; it's a national holiday. Granted, those two need not be mutually exclusive, but in this case, they are unrelated.
On Queen's Day, we celebrate the birthday of our queen, Beatrix. Never mind that she was born on Januari 31. April 30 is (or rather, was) in fact the birthday of her now deceased mother, Juliana. Since it is decreed by law that it nearly always rains in the Netherlands, although slightly less so in April than in January, it was decided to hold on to April 30. Don't believe it when someone tells you that Beatrix made this decision to honour her mother.
Since I am a proponent of a Dutch republic, I don't really fancy writing a long analysis about Beatrix. Fortunately, Pieter has already done so in this excellent article, although I think he's too mild on her when it comes to her actions after Van Gogh's death (i.e. virtually non-existent, except for some orchestrated 'let's-cuddle-Moroccans-whilst-ignoring-the-parents-of-Van-Gogh' charade in a youth house in Amsterdam).
If you're not so much into the heavy stuff, you can read here how the Dutch tend to celebrate her majesty's birthday. (Scroll to item 26.)
During the mid-1980's, multiple US citizens were taken hostage in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a terrorist group which received support from Iran and Syria. During this period, three Soviet citizens were taken hostage by Hezbollah for a period of one week. The reason why the Soviet hostages were released promptly was due to a single KGB operation. Within several days of the kidnappings, the KGB seized a leader of the Hezbollah, castrated him, stuffed his testicles into his mouth, shot him in the head and left his corpse at a Hezbollah base with an ominous note that if the hostages were not released immediately more of the same would occur.71 Although the method by which the KGB carried out the assassination was horrendous, the operation brought about the rapid and safe release of all three Soviet hostages.
A couple of girls tried to save my cat today. As a result, they might very well have gotten him killed.
Let me explain. Ever since Ender got run over by a car last year, I'm not allowing him outside anymore, except for the balcony. Since Ender has the same level of motor control I have after 8 pints of lager, he is always fitted with a harness which will make sure that when he stumbles from the balcony, he won't plummet to his death. Instead, the harness is attached to an elastic rope which will cushion the drop. Also, the harness of course fits below his forelegs, to prevent him from suffocating.
Well, today, when I was on the phone for a few minutes, Ender apparently fell down. A few neighbourhood girls saw my cat, and figured he was going to choke to death. There was no danger of that whatsoever, but without trying to ring my doorbell they cut him loose, and off went my cat. They could have checked then if I was at home (the balcony door was bloody open), but did neither.
Ender is not used to the outside world at all, so when I found him after roaming through the neighbourhood for about an hour or so, he was absolutely petrified. I'd never seen him scared like this before.
Figures. There's plenty of cars that drive way too fast. He might have been injured or worse - it's not like nothing has ever happened to him before.
Of course, I rechecked his restraint when I got home. It was absolutely fine - except for the really sturdy knot I had to use to reattach it to the rope.
All's well that ends well I guess, though my stomach is still filled with the same nauseating fear I felt when he was run over last year.
Cat's purring again though.
Y'all will probably remember that I used to participate in a business plan contest for which I had to register the domain name Paarse Krokodil (Purple Crocodile).
Today I got a call from Erwin Wijman, who is a freelance hack for advertising weekly Adformatie. Apparently, the commercial RTL4 tv station has been airing a section called Paarse Krokodil for some weeks now in its popular show Barend en van Dorp.
I told him why I had registered Paarse Krokodil, and how I didn't win the prize I was aiming for. That's why there's nothing yet at Paarse Krokodil (nor at Paarse-Krokodil).
The upcoming article in Adformatie may change that now.
Instead of countering their intolerance with ours, we pretend we are not countering at all, but merely trying to adjust their behavioral problems.
This may seem soft to you, but it means that hordes of fanatic female social workers will descend upon the poor immigrants. With more fury than probably even Genghis Khan could muster they will talk and drug any deviants into submission (no Hirsi Ali pun intended), in the same way that any slightly active boy is currently being forced to take Ritalin, and every slightly shy girl is using Prozac intravenously.
A few months ago, our immigration secretary Rita Verdonk was lambasted in the press for daring to comment on an imam who refused to shake her hand.
Now, it seems more people are willing to stand up for their right to be treated as human beings.
An Islamic man in The Hague will not be receiving his Social Security allowance this month for being unwilling to greet female employers of the Sociale Dienst (Social Services). In some Dutch media, the story is being spun as if the man is being punished for not wanting to shake hands. That's not the whole story. The statute of this particular office of the Sociale Dienst allows for religious people who are forbidden to touch women to express themselves in another way, for example by nodding or bowing. But this particular guy didn't want to greet women in any way.
I'd say if you are willing to touch money from female civil servants, you should also be willing to touch the women themselves.
I mean that in a completely non-sexual kinda way, of course. (You wouldn't doubt me if you'd seen the people that work at the Sociale Dienst.)
I started writing a rant about the judge who didn't convict Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but nevertheless made a remark about how AHA shouldn't have called Muhammad a pedophile, because he only married a 9 year old once. AHA got away with it though because she had called Muhammad a pedophile only once or twice.
Seems to be a 'once is not enough' kinda judge to me, but please, do shut up. Will I get away with a single murder as easily? Either something is illegal, or it isn't. I don't like the concept of blurry limits on freedom of expression.
Now, personally I find the whole debate rather distasteful. I mean, there's a bloke in the Bible who had a harem of 1,000 women (well, actually 700, plus 300 concubines), which is only slightly better than I do on most Saturday nights. Now, are all Christians proponents of polygyny or polyandry? (Well, I am, but I'm a heathen.)
Nobody brings this up anymore because most Christians consider the Bible a metaphorical book. Most Muslims don't feel that way about the Qu'ran (yet). Still, I think it might be more worthwhile to discuss the (im)possibilities of integrating Islam into a democratic system, and not resort to namecalling about apocryphal religious texts which stem from times when it was also quite acceptable to double park your camel, or to stone gay people to death. (Lord knows, did Jews and Arabs wear anything under those desert garbs in those days?)
Nevertheless, if AHA wants to debate on this level, then that's her prerogative. It is not up to a judge to issue implicit warnings about how many times you can call someone a pedophile and get away with it. If AHA wants to think Muhammad was a pedophile, seen from her western perspective, she's entitled to do so (as childish as I may think this way of debating is). Just as much Muslims have a right to think Muhammad was acting in accordance with the rules of that time, and Christians can choose to conveniently ignore how Solomon was able to sleep with a different woman every night, theoretically taking three years to make the rounds.
I was going to say I accidentaly erased my rant, and won't write it again, but that seems to be a rather superfluous remark now.
By now you will have read just about everywhere what a great and original thinker Mr. Geert Wilders is.
I am not nearly as enthusiastic, and I think comparisons with Mr. Pim Fortuyn are too much flattery for Mr. Geert Wilders. Let's dispell two myths right now, before I get to a fisking of his 'declaration of independence'. One, that Geert Wilders is the new Pim Fortuyn. Two, that he has to suffer through the same kind of verbal abuse and demeaning treatment Mr. Fortuyn had.
First of all, Geert Wilders is not Pim Fortuyn. I knew Mr. Fortuyn, albeit superficially. He was arrogant, but also very smart. I edited his copy when I was a junior editor at Elsevier News Weekly. His proposals were for the most part well thought out, and based on books he had written in the years before. Mr. Wilders' 'declaration' looks like it was penned down on the backside of a very soggy beer mat, but I'll get to that in a moment.
Second of all, Geert Wilders doesn't get nearly the same kind of nasty as Mr. Fortuyn. Ad Melkert, one of the most opportunistic Labour politicians this country has ever had to endure, refused to speak with him during a televised political debate. Mr. Fortuyn was called dangerous almost every time his name was mentioned. To top all that, influential former television host Marcel van Dam called him 'an inferior human being' on Dutch PBS. (Never mind that Marcel van Dam is the former CEO of the powerful PBS station VARA (which has socialist roots). Never mind also that he was accused of bankrupting Exota, a soda company, by allegedly falsifying television footage. Read more about it here.)
If you hear people blabber on about how 'the Main Stream Media' (MSM) mistreat Mr. Wilders, they are simply plain wrong. Ever since the murder of Van Gogh, most MSM don't take such an agressive approach towards politically incorrect ideas anymore. Not because they've suddenly become enlightened about their intellectual blackspots, but because they're also commercial enterprises (yes, despite their attempts to lambast their opponents as tools of evil corporations, they themselves have to make regular sacrifices at the altar of Mammon).
As a result, Wilders' 'declaration of independence' has received extensive coverage, even on Dutch PBS, and he was treated extremely mild compared to the abuse Mr. Fortuyn had to suffer through.
Which brings me to the first point, a discussion of what Mr. Wilders has on offer for the electorate.
I'm sorry to say his 'declaration' contains a lot of proposals, which are either unaffordable or at odds with some of his other proposals, or both. For example, Mr. Wilders claims to be in favour of increasing civil liberties, but nevertheless wants to give the police more leeway, for example by allowing them to frisk citizens without any suspicion or reason. He also wants to dismiss 50 percent of all civil servants, but increase the amount of funding for police departments and nursing homes, presumably to hire more people. (There's only that much money you can spend on diapers, and nursing homes don't have that many material needs either.) Never mind that most civil servants do have work to do, and although I can imagine some increase in efficiency, 50 percent seems rather outrageous. Finally, Mr. Wilders wants to lower taxes, but increase government spending in several areas. I know there's an American guy out there doing the same thing, but let's face it, he's got a trading deficit and the dollar to play around with, not to mention a really old banker who helps him to take advantage of the global financial markets. What is Mr. Wilders going to do? Oh yeah, I forgot: bring back the guilder, our former currency. Now that will help stabilize our economy!
I could go on, but then again, I'm really tired (and reading Wilders' stuff is not helping).
As I've said before, despite the shortcomings of his political doctrines I still think Wilders could do some good for Dutch politics. Populism might be just the right antidote for the pseudo-intellectualism that passes for political debate in The Hague these days. Wilders might be able to keep the right-wing VVD on its toes whenever it tends to stray too much towards the political center. He is after all competing with the VVD for the same group of voters. Labour party PvdA already has two parties on its left side (the Green Party (GroenLinks) and the Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij)) making sure it stays on the 'proper' course. It would be good to have such a counterbalance on the right side of the spectrum as well.
As expected, the court in The Hague has ruled that Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali will not have to restrain herself when speaking about Islam. The judge also denied a request to prohibit Submission 2. Read more on what the case was about here.
I may have a bit more later today. The ruling hasn't been released yet so it's rather hard to give any sort of in-depth commentary.
I'm also working on a fisking of Geert Wilders' "declaration of independence". To summarize: a politician should strive to make matters as simple as possible - but not simpler. It seems to me that Mr. Wilders is guilty of the latter. And never mind the inherent arrogance of naming a few sheets with populist statements after one of the greatest documents about liberty in existence.
Which doesn't mean I think there isn't a political future for Mr. Wilders, nor that I think he couldn't be of benefit to the Dutch political landscape. On the contrary. Populism might be just the right antidote for the pseudo-intellectualism that passes for political debate in The Hague these days.
Thought I was kidding? Well, so did I. Schiphol has apparently become a breeding ground for mice (and probably also rats, but they're more likely to work behind the counter or at KLM, our formerly national airline, now property of the infidel French). This attracts birds to the airport in huge numbers. They can't poison the mice, because that might also kill the birds, and you wouldn't want them to die before they get sucked into the jet engine of your airplane.
Bloody idiots. Three kids threw bricks from an overpass at a truck filled with about 40 tons of gasoline. They hit the truck, but fortunately not the driver, otherwise we might have had some fireworks. All this took place at a distance of about 500 metres from my house, so if anybody has got some asbestos pyjamas lying around? Mr. Rather? Are you there?
(Please ignore the last word in the title, it's a Dutch internet thing.)
I promised you guys 'n gals a rant about Schiphol Airport. Well, here goes. Schiphol must be one of the most dreadful airports in the world. And this is only for lack of having discovered any other planets with something resembling a civilization. Why is Schiphol so bad? Well...
First of all it's terribly slow. Schiphol is built according to a 'one terminal concept', which is a slick way of saying you'd beter bring your hiking boots. If you are misfortunate enough to land at gate A and have a connection at gate F, you'll be walking for at least half an hour. (Senior citizens had beter book a hotel for the night.) In fact, I would be tempted to suggest no terrorist in his right mind would want to attack Schiphol Airport because of the long walking distances, if it wasn't for the...
Extremely lax state of security at the airport. Only recently, a bunch of robbers nicked several millions worth of jewelry from what was supposed to be a highly secure area. If robbers can steal stuff, then I suspect it wouldn't be too hard to haul a few RPG's in there either and blast some birds out of the sky. (I'm referring to planes of course, and not the seagulls that shit all over your car if you're driving within five miles of Schiphol. We are the only country in the bloody world which has an airport that hides a bird baiting device somewhere.) Nevertheless, some people might actually welcome being blown up by Jihadi's, if only to be saved from the...
Extremely arrogant people which Schiphol employs. When hundreds of passengers had to spend the night on the floor last week because snow had shut down most of the airport's operations, Schiphol's PR representative did not apologize for this near-Communist lack of planning. Instead, she went on Dutch PBS stating she felt it was 'heel vervelend'. This roughly translates to a rather condescendingly vocalized version of 'gee, too bad'.
Some people think it's the government's strict immigration policy that keeps the influx of foreigners down. I know better. I live near Schiphol.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali spent today in court. A group of Muslims is suing her to bar her from saying anything the Muslims deem offensive about Islam, and to preemptively censor the making of Submission, Part II. The first part of Submission, as anyone but Hollywood and the morons at the Rotterdam Film Festival know, pissed off Mohammed Bouyeri to the extent of all but severing Mr. Theo van Gogh's head.
This particular group of angry Muslims is represented by Mr. Robert Moszkowicz, outcast of a famous lawyer family. Mr. Robert Moszkowicz has been accused of indulging a coke habit. The bar attempted to revoke his license a few years ago.
Needless to say, and not just because of the plaintiff's interesting choice in legal representation, this will be a slam-dunk case for AHA (no pun intended, Mr. Tenet).
What's more interesting is a remark by AHA's lawyer, Germ Kemper. He feels there's a pretty big chance AHA will win the case, but what then? Mr. Kemper thinks Muslims might resort to violence if they don't get what they want through the legal system.
So in a sense, it's the Muslim community that's on trial here. Can they play by the rules?
Although I can't imagine why some of her admirers call her a 'babe' (take a look at this picture, she's the not so fragile woman in the middle), I can't say I mind our immigration secretary Rita Verdonk cleaning house in several Dutch mosques. Four Wahhabist imams are slated to have their residence permits withdrawn. One of them didn't live here anymore, but nevertheless: good riddance, and don't let the door hit you on your way out.
The fine gentlemen and -women of this law firm (previously known to have defended Pim Fortuyn killer Volkert van der Graaf, suspected Al Qaeda member Mullah Krekar and Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan) will make an attempt to appeal at least two of Verdonk's decisions. I am all the happier for it. It's a good thing to live in a country where people who would gladly deny everyone rights to due process, nevertheless retain the right to a hearing with an impartial judge themselves. Or make that 'judges', as they will have the right to appeal their appeal as well, and after that to appeal the appeal to their appeal (yeah, I'm getting a headache too) in Strasbourg at the European Court of Human Rights.
Excessive rights of appeal? Not really. If democracy is to fight these bigots, this is the only way to do it, lest we become what we are combatting.
(BTW, this is the lawyer who will do the honours. Luckily he doesn't come across as slightly overbearing in the picture.)
I have to review Bright, a new tech magazine which will be launched tonight. (One of the upsides of being a freelancer is that you can work from the comfort of your home, even when you're ill.) The publisher told me I could download a preview copy from his website. Well, I suppose in theory you can. Either there's several hundred journalists out there trying to get a copy as well, or Bright has a rather limited data pipe for a tech magazine. I made this screendump after Firefox had been trying to download the preview copy for 15 minutes.
If only to be able to listen to this brilliant piece of radio by former colleague Michiel V. (not a criminal, a DJ. Granted, the distinction is rather blurry).
And also because you'd be able to understand the part below:
Voor ons Wing Chun-clubje (da's knokken) zoeken we een trainingsruimte op de zaterdag, liefst net buiten de ring van Amsterdam. Daar kunnen we namelijk gratis parkeren. Onze eisen zijn laag. Een leegstaande garage is al heel mooi. Of een groot afdak ergens buiten. De compensatie die we er tegenover kunnen stellen is dienovereenkomstig bescheiden. Gratis zou mooi zijn.
We hebben nu een trainingsruimte maar die is enkel op de dinsdagavond beschikbaar. Graag zouden we een tweede trainingsmogelijkheid erbij willen hebben. Mail me als je wat weet.
Woman accused of manslaughter of criminal set free
In a surprising lapse of insanity, a Dutch judge has determined the woman who had been charged with the manslaughter of a 19 year old Dutch Moroccan who stole her purse, should be released immediately. As I described here, the woman tried to pursue the thief, but ended up crushing him against a tree.
In the Dutch legal system, a judge determines whether there are enough grounds for a suspect to be held whilst the district attorney tries to make his case. The fact that a judge decided this is not the case is a huge blow for the Dutch DA Office. In the view of many Dutch, the DA Office has of late been overly concerned with politically correct cases, such as the persecution of Dutch Special Forces soldier Eric O., who shot an Iraqi during his tour of duty in the province of Al Mutannah. O. (it's uncommon for Dutch police to release the surname of a suspect) has always maintained the Iraqi, who attempted to loot supplies, was killed by a ricochet. The fact that a judge has decided to set the woman free will probably prove many people right, at least in their own mind.
The woman is not off the hook just yet. The DA has announced she remains a suspect. Indeed, I hope as much as they do that this case will make it to court. My reasons are probably somewhat different, though. It's about time a triumvirate of judges (as is customary with suspects being accused of felonies in the Netherlands) made a ruling about the rights of Dutch citizens when it comes to self defense against criminals.
They are headed by former MP Mohammed Rabbae, who in the 1980's tried to get Salman Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses' prohibited. At the time, he said something along the lines of: 'Even if I'm the last Muslim left in the Netherlands, I will keep on trying to get this book outlawed.'
This enlightened fellow is now the co-author of a pamphlet written by a group of Dutch Moroccans. The pamphlet condemns the Dutch approach against terrorism as it points the finger at radical Islamists. According to the writers, this is unjustified. As we all know, when Christian fanatics bombed the USS Cole, blasted train passengers in Madrid to hell, and blew up the Twin Towers, nobody pointed a finger at them.
Meanwhile, the Moroccan community in Amsterdam is preparing for a march for a felon convicted of a robbery at gunpoint. The guy died on Monday after he and one of his friends had stolen the purse of a 43 year old woman. She then put her car in reverse, and killed the thief by crushing him against a tree. Now I agree the police should find out whether this was an accident (because the woman wanted to pursue the perpetrators) or manslaughter (because she wanted to take revenge). If the latter is the case, the woman should be convicted. The public prosecutor has already charged her with manslaughter, so it's up to the judge now.
Nevertheless, it is absolutely ridiculous to portray a thief as some sort of hero, or, in the words of one Moroccan on Dutch PBS: 'A good and sweet boy.'
Update 12.32: So some native Dutch are responding with cynicism, because we're really good at that. They've designed a bumper sticker, which states something along the lines of 'I go full throttle for my purse.' Take a look at it here.
Not that I don't admire his chutzpah, but if I were Rachid Ben Ali I would be driving to Belgium right now to buy a gun and a bulletproof vest. Or make that full body armor. Ben Ali is a Dutch artist of Moroccan descent who has produced several works of art following Theo van Gogh's assassination. But despite his ethnicity, I sincerely doubt if he's going to score any popularity points with his fellow Moroccans now his most recent exposition has opened in the Cobra Museum, based in the Amsterdam suburb of Amstelveen.
Well, his paintings show imams having sex, as well as imams eating human excrements. You can view some pictures here.
It's not much different from Dutch author Gerard Reve, who wrote about having sex with the Christian god who had taken the form of a donkey for the occassion. That was about forty years ago.
Still, Reve could do so without worry. Other than being senile, he's still in good health. No Christian ever so much lifted a finger at him.
I hope Ben Ali will have a similar long life ahead of him.
If he doesn't, the fact that we are living in a country under siege should finally become apparent to all but the most deluded Dutch.
Then again, there is no shortage of people who chose to only see the pretty face of Liza Minnelli when they were watching Cabaret.
Or, no, there's no need to wait.
If you can read Dutch, you can find people stating they won't shed any tears if he's murdered, as well as other examples of fascist apologetics, right here. (Ctrl-F to a guy named TimmyAsd if you're impatient.)
I mean, having obituary letters signed by a machine is extremely thoughtful when you compare it to the actions of our secretary of domestic affairs, Johan Remkes. Mr. Remkes has been on a holiday in Thailand since Boxing Day, when the earthquake struck. This puts him in the perfect position to visit Dutch survivors in the country, since he's there already. But alas. Mr. Remkes is staying in a nice, comfy, private cabin on a remote island 250 kilometers from Phuket, and he damn well intends to remain there.
Well, he was going to, anyway. It was just announced he will visit Dutch victim identification crews who are doing a well-needed but gruesome job over there. Still, this is too little, too late, for the members of those teams are used to hardship. Mr. Remkes should have visited the people that aren't: the Dutch tourists, of whom more than 200 are still missing, making this potentially the worst disaster for the Netherlands in several decades. The Bijlmer accident, in which an El Al Boeing ploughed through some flats in Amsterdam, cost 43 lives. Mr. Remkes could have made some effort to console some of the families of the missing. Alas, most of the survivors are back home already.
At least Mr. Rumsfeld had the decency to send a letter.
Update 21.49: Turns out this is the 'international flights' terminal of the island Mr. Remkes is staying. Must be the Thai equivalent of Hoogeveen Airport.
Everyone loves lawyer jokes, except of course for lawyers, who don't possess a sense of humor, or at least not one of which I am cognizant.
Anyway, in Amsterdam there's a zoo called Artis. Companies can adopt an animal or a group of animals to show the world they're not just egotistical capitalists, but have a heart too.
Guess which animals were adopted by a law firm?
That's right, the vultures.
I walked by it yesterday and took a picture of what is definitely the worst Christmas tree I've seen in my life. However, my SonyEricsson P900 probably repressed it, like you tend to do with disasters, because the picture was gone when I wanted to copy it to my computer yesterday night. Fortunately, newspaper De Telegraaf has one online here.
I empathize with all you poor slobs who can't read Dutch. You'll miss out on this excellent editorial by Han Pape, who happens to be one of my journalism mentors. (When I was 18 and had finished grammar school (VWO in Dutch), universities recommended against pursuing an MA in journalism since they figured their own degrees sucked. So I started working for Pape, who at the time was the editor-in-chief of the Almelo department of the Twentsche Courant.)
Han Pape is sort of a left-wing loonie (as opposed to me being a right-wing nutcake, anyway), but I couldn't agree more with this quote from De Roskam, a local opinion news weekly in the Dutch region of Twente.
'Er schijnt een blad te zijn verspreid met voorlichting over homoseksualiteit. Niks aan de hand. Een aantal scholen heeft de bladen retour afzender gestuurd. Nog niks aan de hand. Maar ja, het waren zwarte en reformatorische scholen. En dus was het discriminatie. Terwijl er nog steeds niks aan de hand was. Want natuurlijk sturen scholen materiaal terug dat ze niet bevalt. Zoals openbare scholen een zendingsfolder terug zouden hebben gestuurd en katholieke scholen een abortusbrochure. En de bond van geheelonthouders een kratje herfstbok. Maar in de media doemde het discriminatiespook op. Wat is dat toch in dit land dat als je iets afwijst je meteen discrimineert? (...) Er zijn een hoop lieden die vinden dat ik in zonde leef, maar ik vind het leven van velen hunner eeuwig zonde. Dat we met elkaar van mening kunnen en mogen verschillen, dat er overtuigingen naast elkaar bestaan, dat maakt het beschavingsniveau van een land uit.'
I don't feel like translating everything. However, the final sentence reads: 'The fact that our opinions can and may differ, the fact that it's possible for conflicting opinions to co-exist, is what defines the maturity of a civilization.'
In other words, you're not really being tolerant if you're only tolerant of other tolerant opinions. As I've mentioned, schools refusing a pro-gay magazine have been subjected to quite a lot of criticism.
It really is too bad if you can't read Dutch. You'll miss the part about Pape's possibly gay dog.
The French Fries Fox which apparently scours the Dutch cities for left-over Gaullic potato products. And if you've got any bullets to spare, drive a few hundred miles south of Amsterdam, and let the French know how you feel about their lack of hospitality.
At this moment, there's some uproar at Dutch grammar schools. Some of them refused to distribute a free pro-gay magazine, paid for by the Dutch government, to their pupils. Now these schools find themselves in a situation in which they have to defend themselves against accusations of an anti-gay bias. There's even talk of an official government inquiry into gay intolerance.
Since I'm Dutch, and Dutch people always have an opinion about everything, I'd like to tell you what I think is really happening.
The Dutch government, not the grammar schools, are to blame for the current uproar on gay acceptation. Furthermore, the Dutch government have behaved with extreme cowardice. And finally, none of this has happened withoug being foreseen, or indeed planned.
Since most of you probably wouldn't have the patience to read through an elaborate history of the Netherlands, here's a summary (if you are an executive, please fill in that word yourself) of what's happened since 1848.
1. Dutch society has long been based on the principle of balancing out differences.
2. When differences couldn't be reconciled, the Dutch have traditionally adopted a policy of non-interference.
3. This caused some problems in the area of schools, as non-religious schools could get government financing, but non-secular ones could not. After a major political battle, the so-called 'School Strife', the Dutch constitution was ammended to provide for state financing for all schools, whether ideological or not.
As of late, this policy has caused the government some problems. Several Islamic families and foundations have rightly claimed that the constitution allows them to claim government funding for Islamic schools. This poses some problems similar to those at so-called 'black schools', which have a large percentage of immigrant and/or Islamic pupils. It's well known that these schools, as well as some orthodox Christian ones, have rather stern opinions on gays. Although Christians are slowly dying out in this country, Muslims are not. Doing something about it has always been a problem though. Muslims are being considered a threatened minority, just as much as gays. The Dutch press has been talking for more than a week about one police bust which wrongly targeted a Muslim family in Utrecht. Obviously, this is a mine field you do not want to get into if you're a government that's already under heavy criticism.
So how do you tell one minority to respect another?
You try to provoke the other party into action.
Some 420,000 copies of gay magazine Expreszo were sent out, apparently without warning, to nearly all grammar schools in the Netherlands.
The magazine was in itself benign. Well, relatively speaking. It contained crude language and gay couples kissing. These are not things that would shock many urban Dutchies. However, it is probably just enough to infuriate some Christian schools. I've attended several. They don't like people snogging one another, and the threshold for something to be considered profanity is much lower. (Yes, the pupils probably do curse as as well as participate in the odd snog, but that's not the point - official school policy is the issue here.) The magazine also didn't get a warm reception at many 'black schools', for very similar reasons. Orthodox Islam and Christian teachings have some similarities, which isn't all that weird since they both have their roots in Judaism.
So by having this gay magazine printed and distributed, the government really left certain schools no choice but to send it back or to dump it in the garbage bin.
Unless we are governed by extremely stupid people, it's implausible that no one anticipated this course of events.
The added advantage, of course, is that Christian schools are involved. They serve to deflect attention from similar opinions at 'black schools'. Criticizing Christians is considered a virtue in this country, since they were once one of the dominant factions in this country, and we tend not to like authority figures (although most of us really enjoy it when they fall from grace).
Now the government has an excellent excuse for dealing with gay intolerance, whilst at the same time being shielded from being biased against Islam (or anything else, for that matter). It's efficient and effective, but I'm not sure it's something to be proud of.
(No, this isn't about the Kotsbank.)
I never really trusted banks in the first place, and even less so now. It turns out there's a bank in the Netherlands which can't even tell two different accounts apart.
Yes, I am one of those bastards who has multiple saving accounts, two of those with the same bank, the Holland Beleggingsgroep. One of them is for my retirement fund (I run my own company, no cushy state-sponsored pension arrangements for me), the other one contains personal financial reserves.
The not-so-funny thing though is that I transferred 1.500 euros to the one account, where it never arrived. Yet it turned up on the other one.
Since the employees of the Holland Beleggingsgroep can't even tell two totally different accounts with different client names and numbers apart, I wonder. What else do they fuck up?
Their website mentions their 'Dutch mentality' as an advantage, so an apology will probably not be forthcoming.
The Dutch frown upon outpourings of emotion. (Except of course when it concerns the national soccer team.) Unlike in the USA or the UK, a book can only be literature if it is either dark, or cynical, or both. The guy who is considered to be the pinacle of Dutch written artistry just had a book published about a guy named Xavier who tries to become the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. Xavier does this by translating Mein Kampf into Jiddish.
You probably feel where this is heading.
We tend not to like exuberance either, which is probably why we tolerate the usage of MDMA and other drugs: it gives us an excuse to do outrageous stuff like hugging one another. (This also explains a lot about English drinking behaviour, but let's not get side-tracked.)
How then is it possible that over 5 million Dutch watched the televised memorial service for folk singer André Hazes, someone who made a living writing extremely sentimental songs about delivering letters to his deceased mum in heaven (using a kite, no less!), and celebrating Christmas on his own. Yesterday night they managed to fill an entire stadium with mourners. Not a small one either, the ArenA can hold about 50,000 people.
Like every Dutchman, I've jelled along once or twice when one of Hazes' songs was played in a pub. That's about as far as my appreciation for his music goes. There was a bit more to him though, which can probably best be summarized as sincerity. Hazes didn't act. He didn't just sing desperate songs, he felt desperate most of the time, which probably explains the gallons of lager he gulped down on a daily basis. Apparently, sincerity makes shamelessness bearable even for the Dutch.
It is by far preferable to religious heroes translating Third Reich literature.
Both of them:
Fail when it comes to doing their jobs. One of them doesn't seem able to vet its own stories, the other one is unable to properly report them.
Sincerely seem to believe they alone know how to do journalism properly. Note how condescending CBS has behaved towards bloggers. Dutch PBS emphasized the cabinet's condemnation of the leaked government budget for 2005, rather than the contents of said budget, which would seem to be much more important to their viewers. A division of Dutch PBS managed to cook up this article, which shows either gross ineptitude, or arrogance. Either way, it's rather odd to report on government 'outrage' on leaked documents without offering a secondary perspective - from the journalists of commercial broadcaster RTL for example - and at the same time mention that the leaked documents contained hardly any new information. Either the government is right in being outraged (but why if there's no new information?), of the government isn't (but then there's probably a reason for that, which isn't adequately explored).
Blijkbaar hadden we er eentje, afgelopen week. (Wat je al niet tegenkomt als je op zoek bent naar seismologische gegevens over Noord-Korea, waar een paddestoelvormige wolk is gesignaleerd. Kan een sigaar van Kim Jong Il zijn geweest, of een andere grote niet-nucleaire fik.)
Ach, waar is de tijd gebleven dat nerds elkaar nog vermaakten met grappige, of grappig bedoelde, digitale handtekeningen onder hun e-mail? Zoals deze, onder een mailtje van Volkskrant-journalist Peter van Ammelrooy: 'Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.'
Die vreselijke RVS-reclames schreeuwen gewoon om een weerwoord. Van het moment dat adviseur Ger een oud dametje voor laat gaan tot het autoshot waarin Ger heel erg braaf een net iets te duidelijk zichtbare gordel draagt: ik koop nog liever een cd van de m/v die de begeleidende irritante reclamepingel heeft geschreven, dan dat ik ooit nog een verzekering bij RVS afsluit. Daarom gezocht: een kale kerel met een foute glimlach voor het maken van een parodie, die uiteraard op dit weblog zal worden getoond. Serieuze reacties naar dit mailadres. Tijdens de opnames zullen geen oude dametjes gewond raken door plotseling dichtwaaiende deuren. Promise.
Retorische vraag, want er zijn er meerdere. En dat is handig, voor wie zijn ongenoegen met het verzuurde beleid van FNV Bondgenoten wil laten blijken door ze bijvoorbeeld een fles azijn te sturen. Zonder porto natuurlijk.
Ja, dat is kinderachtig. Maar FNV Bondgenoten vraagt erom. De organisatie wil dat klanten een eurocent stoppen in alle statiegeldflessen die bij Albert Heijn worden ingeleverd. Dat gaat Albert Heijn geld kosten, want het verwijderen van al die centen is arbeidsintensief. Blijkbaar beschouwt FNV Bondgenoten puberaal gedrag als een legitieme manier van communicatie.
Meer nieuws over de Kotsbank en het Voedingscentrum
Wie dit log een beetje volgt, kent mijn haat-liefde-verhouding met de Kotsbank. (Wie dat niet doet, klikke hier om bij de tijd te geraken.) Dit bericht kwam me dan ook niet eens zo onwaarschijnlijk voor. Niet dat ik iemand bij die instelling van fascistoïde neigingen wil beschuldigen, want het woord 'neigingen' zult u mij niet in de mond horen nemen.
Daarnaast doet het me deugd om te zien dat wie via Google naar 'Voedingscentrum' zoekt, al vrij snel op deze site terechtkomt. Dat zal dan wel met dit berichtje te maken hebben. Welkom, vertwijfelde eters. Pak een pizzapunt en zeg maar dat 't van mij mag.
Is toch een veel mooier woord dan 'depressie', waarbij ik steeds aan Erwin Kroll moet denken (zie hiero).
En zo zijn er nog wel wat termen te bedenken die vroeger mooier waren. 'Ouden van dagen' klinkt eervoller dan 'senioren', waarbij ik aan een Amerikaanse manager moet denken die vanwege zijn vijftien dienstjaren toch maar is gepromoveerd tot opperhoofd vakantie-urenadministratie (senior workforce availability consultant). Of 'elkaar bekennen', dat toch net wat romantischer klinkt dan 'er als konijnen op losneuken'. (Niet dat daar wat mis mee is.)
Enfin, er moeten er meer te verzinnen zijn. Wie biedt?
(Mocht u dat niet boeien, dan treft u hier allerlei aangetaste begrippen van een heel ander soort aan.)
Jongens, als je een Duits product in Nederland wilt aanbieden, vertaal dan in elk geval de teksten op je site. Datingbureau Parship doet daar een poging toe, maar struikelt net na het startschot: 'Met het wetenschappelijke PARSHIP-principe die mensen vinden, die bij u passen.'
Jahaa! En als de dagen korter worden, blijf dan altijd krenten in de pap fleppen! (dixit O. Henk.)
Behalve dan dat hij, toen ik hem vanavond riep, eerst naar de zitbank liep en twee keer mauwde voordat hij naar me toekwam. Ender durft namelijk niet alleen op de zitbank, maar als het baasje bij hem zit, is het zijn favoriete plek. (Het is wellicht overbodig om te vermelden wie er zijn zin heeft gekregen.)
Drink een fles cola light. Dat bijt niet alleen de roest van je velgen, maar doodt blijkbaar ook bacteriën. Aldus het (eerder op deze site vermaledijde) Voedingscentrum. Je moet een fles drinken per verontreinigde hap, en dus zijn er twee oplossingen: of heel veel cola light gaan drinken, of veel minder gaan eten.
In het openbaar vervoer rijdt de tram wel eens stilletjes (bij wijze van spreken dan) aan je voorbij als 'ie te vol zit.
De Kotsbank Postbank doet dat anders. Die gooit je gewoon halverwege de rit eruit.
Mijn oude huisarts is sinds een half jaar met pensioen en kijkt thans ijsberen in Alaska. Daar hield hij altijd al van.
Vandaag kwam ik daarom bij zijn opvolger terecht, en dan vooral omdat ik al twee weken allerlei vage klachten heb, inclusief de hier eerder genoemde Oranjekots.
Enfin, de huisarts begon een anamnese. En na de gebruikelijke vragen waarmee artsen proberen uit te sluiten dat je een (ahem) Sociaal Overdraagbare Aandoening hebt ('Dus u doet het alleen vaginaal met condoom?' - 'Ja dokter, je moet toch wat als de boterhamzakjes op zijn') kwam dan uiteindelijk het gedeelte 'Lichaamsbeweging'.
Toch was het niet genoeg, sprak de huisarts streng. Elke dag diende ik tenminste een uur te bewegen. Dat was toch een half uur, meende ik te weten. Had ik ooit eens van de Hartstichting gehoord. Allemaal flauwekul volgens de nieuwe huisarts: het was een uur per dag. Zou ook de Hartstichting vinden.
U kunt het zich wellicht moeilijk voorstellen, maar ik heb verder wijselijk mijn mond gehouden.
Ja, ik heb een werktitel voor mijn eerste roman, nu mijn eerste boek uit is.
En ik heb een supergeheim plan voor een internetonderneminkje. En voor een nieuw medium. En voor een totaal niet-dotcombedrijf.
Maar ook daarover heb ik niets te vertellen.
Dus laat ik maar een plaatje van de kat zien, die weer vrij mag rondlopen van de dierenarts na zijn eenzame opsluiting.
Als u iets te vertellen heeft, hoor ik het wel hè?
Een nieuwe cursus 'Dom denken' met de minister van Justitie, die niets ziet in 'no cure, no pay'-
'Het grote gevaar van betrokkenheid op deze wijze van de advocaat bij de selectie is nu juist dat wel de meer pespectiefrijke zaken bijstand kunnen vinden, en de minder perspectiefrijke niet.'
Dixit Donner in het NOS Journaal.
Gel*l. Donner doet net alsof 'no cure, no pay' in de plaats komt van de twee thans beschikbare methodes om een advocaat in te schakelen: 1) Gewoon per uur betalen, 2) Failliet gaan en zo in aanmerking komen voor rechtsbijstand.
'No cure, no pay' zou een derde weg worden die meer mensen in staat stelt hun recht te halen. Inderdaad, voornamelijk de meer perspectiefrijke zaken. Maar aan het niet behandelen van minder perspectiefrijke zaken lijkt me niets verloren, en bovendien: het is absoluut onjuist om te suggereren dat minder perspectiefrijke zaken nu niet meer voor de rechter kunnen worden gebracht. Ook met 'no cure, no pay' blijft dat mogelijk door net als nu gewoon de advocaat zelf in te huren. Hun aantal zal in elk geval niet dalen.
Dat Donner gisteren heel populistisch appeleerde aan 'Amerikaanse toestanden', is pure demagogie. Zaken over aansprakelijkheid met grote schadevergoedingen hebben alles te maken met het Angelsaksische rechtssysteem. Dat hebben wij niet. Een volledige uitleg voert te ver, maar in ons Franse rechtssysteem is de kans daarop veel kleiner. De uitdrukking 'Amerikaanse toestanden' is bovendien misleidend, want hoge aansprakelijkheidsvergoedingen beperken zich niet tot Amerika. Ook in Groot-Brittannië, Australië, Ierland en andere landen met een Brits rechtssysteem komen ze veel voor. Terwijl je er in Frankrijk en België veel minder over hoort. Rara.
De waarheid zal dus wel veel simpeler zijn. Dezelfde minister die burgers 'mediators' wil laten inschakelen als ze naar de rechter willen, het uurtarief voor sociale advocaten wil verhogen, rechtsbijstand duurder maakt, en het griffierecht ver boven de inflatie laat stijgen, wil domweg de rechters minder werk bezorgen.
Hoort een minister die toegang tot de Derde Macht wil beperken, wel thuis in een democratische regering?
Het is me nog niet duidelijk hoe hij het voor elkaar heeft gekregen.
Toen ik vanochtend de woonkamer in liep, dacht ik eerst dat ik nog dronken was.
Aangezien ik gisteravond enkel cola light en water had gedronken, verwierp ik die theorie.
Toch lag middenin de bench waarin kat Ender zes weken moet herstellen van een aanrijding, zijn grote rode drinkbak. Op de kop. Een drinkbak die gevuld ruim een kilo weegt, iets meer dan de helft van Enders lichaamsgewicht.
Niet dat de drinkbak vanochtend nog gevuld was.
Ender trof ik weggekropen aan in het enige hoekje van de bench dat nog droog was.
Toen ik in december 2003 zwierig met mijn toen nog niet gejatte fiets door rood licht knalde, reed ik in een politiefuik. Om te voorkomen dat ik een valse naam zou opgeven, moest ik een legitimatiebewijs laten zien.
Laatst werd een kennis aangehouden voor een alcoholcontrole. Ze had niet gedronken, maar was wel haar kenteken- en rijbewijs vergeten. Daarvoor kreeg ze een boete.
Militaire krijgsgevangenen zijn volgens het oorlogsrecht niet verplicht om de vijand informatie te verschaffen. Integendeel. Maar drie dingen moeten ze desgevraagd vertellen: hun naam, rang en serienummer.
Activisten die een minister met ketchup besmeuren, en daarvoor dichtbij genoeg hebben kunnen komen om bijvoorbeeld een mes in haar te steken, worden daarentegen vrijgelaten terwijl ze hebben geweigerd hun persoonsgegevens te verstrekken. Ze hierdoor voor een eventueel proces weer oppakken, kan daardoor onmogelijk worden.
Een verdachte kan niet worden gedwongen om mee te werken aan zijn eigen veroordeling, en dat moeten we vooral zo houden. Maar hier is iets anders aan de hand. Gaat dat zwijgrecht zo ver dat personen het juridisch proces ermee mogen frustreren, zodat ze niet eens als de verdachten die ze zijn, behandeld kunnen worden?
Ik ben niet arm, en wat mij betreft mag die Zalmsnip gisteren worden aangeschaft om er iets nuttigs mee te doen, zoals het verlagen van het begrotingstekort.
Maar vanochtend stond ik toch even raar te kijken.
In overdrachtelijke zin dan, want rare bekken trekken is met name rond de tijd waarop ik wakker word, nogal een automatisme.
Via MijnKotsbank.nl, u weet wel, die fijne telebankiersite van de Kotsbank, zag ik dat de gemeente Amsterdam 34,04 euro op mijn rekening had gestort.
Leuk natuurlijk, maar wel vreemd: de Zalmsnip is al zolang ik me kan herinneren 100 gulden of 45 komma zoveel euro.
De site van de gemeente Amsterdam bracht het antwoord: een kwart van de Zalmsnip wordt dit jaar gebruikt voor het 'potje armoedebeleid'.
Hollandser kan het niet: van een solidaire teruggave een deel solidair moeten teruggeven.
(Volgend jaar wordt de Zalmsnip gelukkig definitief afgeschaft.)
De meeste mensen - laat staan journalisten - zijn niet goed in statistiek.
Hell, voor journalisten bestaan zelfs speciale statistiekcursussen, die het moeten hebben van een soort 'Knoop in je zakdoek'-benadering om de alfa's die mijn beroepsgroep bevolken, toch enig cijfermatig en logisch inzicht bij te brengen.
Het helpt allemaal niet.
Zie dit bericht: 'Als mannen meer geld willen verdienen, kunnen ze maar beter kinderen nemen.'
Het is natuurlijk ondenkbaar dat het omgekeerde geldt: dat mannen met goede carrièrevooruitzichten domweg meer aantrekkingskracht hebben op broedrijpe vrouwen dan vakkenvullers van middelbare leeftijd.
Met alle respect voor vakkenvullers en overig supermarktpersoneel, overigens.
Zelfs die van middelbare leeftijd.
Krijg ik voor mijn 30ste verjaardag misschien wel een verjaardagskaartje van iemand anders dan alleen mijn assurantie-adviseur
Ben ik nog maar tien jaar verwijderd van mijn tweede midlife-crisis
Is de roman over mijn eerste eindelijk uit
Is de appeltaart hopelijk ook weer in de aanbieding bij de Vomar
Heb ik nog steeds dezelfde assurantie-adviseur.
Frederiek de J., verantwoordelijk voor een mislukte aanslag op Jozias van Aartsen, heeft contacten met de top van het Openbaar Ministerie, meldt De Telegraaf. Als dat waar is, is het geen 'pikant detail', zoals De Telegraaf het omschrijft, maar een reden voor een extern onderzoek. Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat dit 'detail' onderaan zou zijn weggemoffeld als Frederiek de J. afkomstig was geweest uit extreem-rechtse hoek. (En terecht overigens, want 'extreem' is alleen een goed woord op de dvd's achter het gordijntje in uw videotheek.) Gelijke monniken, etcetera: welk kamerlid gaat hier vragen over stellen? En, belangrijker nog, er wat mee doen?
Annette Nijs is een gevoelsmens. Blijkt uit dit artikel over haar vertrek als staatssecretaris. "Nijs gaf aan zich ondanks het uitgesproken vertrouwen van minister Van der Hoeven niet meer door haar gesteund te voelen. Aan het debat van dinsdagavond, waarin ze zich probeerde te verdedigen, had de afgetreden staatssecretaris geen goed gevoel overgehouden. Weliswaar kreeg ze formeel de steun van de coalitiepartijen, maar de staatssecretaris kreeg het gevoel dat ze geen ruimte meer had haar beleid goed uit te voeren." Of, zoals Nijs zelf zegt: 'Dat gevoel van onzekerheid bleef knagen, ook door de opstelling van de minister tijdens het gesprek met het personeel van het ministerie.' En verderop: 'Ik had sterk het gevoel dat ik niet alleen onder curatele kwam te staan, maar ook geen vertrouwen meer had.'
Sjonge, die gevoelens toch.
Mag ik een wat simpelere hypothese aandragen?
Annette Nijs wilde weg bij het ministerie van OCW maar was te laf om zelf ontslag te nemen. Daarom liet ze zich interviewen door Nieuwe Revu. Vervolgens autoriseerde ze het gesprek waarvan ze wist - en hoopte - dat er gedonder over zou komen. Alleen viel het vuurwerk mee: de Tweede Kamer stuurde haar niet naar huis. Nog erger: minister Van der Hoeven paste ervoor om zich uit de tent te laten lokken, en in plaats van ontslagen te worden, kreeg Nijs de volle steun van haar baas.
Het is haast komisch om te zien in wat voor bizarre bochten ze zich toen heeft gewrongen om alsnog weg te komen - en haar vlucht probeerde te wijten aan 'gevoelens' die (uiteraard) door iedereen behalve haarzelf werden veroorzaakt.
Het mooie van gevoelens is dat de juistheid ervan op geen enkele wijze kan worden vastgesteld - wat perfect is voor personen die bij dat laatste absoluut geen belang hebben.
CIA-directeur George Tenet, ooit door president Bill Clinton binnengehaald, stapt op vanwege 'persoonlijke redenen'. Sure. Dat Tenet's CIA in de aanloop naar de aanslagen van 11 september 2001 dramatisch heeft misgekleund, en tijdens de Balkanoorlogen de Chinese ambassade in Belgrado liet bombarderen, heeft daar uiteraard niets mee te maken. Op het vertrek van de überspook werd al langere tijd gespeculeerd. Tenets vertrek toont ook aan dat Bush grote schoonmaak aan het houden is. Mooi. En nu Rumsfeld nog de laan uit. Wil John McCain niet als minister van Defensie?
Mensen doden terwijl je dat al tijden van plan bent en de daad daarom goed hebt voorbereid, heet overal in de westerse wereld 'moord'. Maar voor de vrouw die haar drie eigen kinderen weloverwogen om zeep heeft gebracht, daarmee deze jonge jongens een heel leven ontnemend en haar ex-man kinderloos achterlatend, gelden blijkbaar andere maatstaven. Zelfs nu ze dader is, is deze vrouw nog slachtoffer.
Want wat blijkt: gescheiden vrouwen zonder kinderen gaan er vrijgezellig liefst 27 procent op achteruit. Vrouwen die wel kinderen hebben, en dus alimentatie krijgen, slechts 21 procent, oftewel 6 procent minder dan kinderloze vrouwen, terwijl moeders meer uitgaven hebben. Conclusie: dat kan wel wat minder, die ouderbijdrage.
(Overigens wordt in het onderzoek, zoals wel vaker gebeurd bij statistiek, een oorzaak-gevolg-relatie verhaspeld. De onderzoekster stelt dat mannen die voor de kinderen zorgen, nog altijd een koopkrachtstijging van 6 procent ervaren. In de Verenigde Staten is gebleken dat het omgekeerde het geval is. Traditioneel gaat de voogdij naar de vrouw; wie als man de voogdij over de kinderen wil krijgen, moet dus over uitzonderlijke papieren beschikken, ook op economisch gebied.)
Niet alleen wordt er bij die club politiek-correct wat afgezwateld ('Vitamines zijn niet nodig als je goed eet' - ok, stelletje wijsneuzen, eten jullie elke dag twee ons groente en twee stuks fruit?), ik word ook helemaal stapelmesjogge van die met belastinggeld gefinancierde reclames met animaties uit het jaar 1812 waar op de achtergrond een irritant stemmetje constant 'Voedingscentrum' fluistert.
Nou, in herhaling vallen kan ik ook.
Fuck het Voedingscentrum. Fuck het Voedingscentrum. Ja, fuck het Voedingscentrum!
Niet alleen is er het zeer sterke vermoeden dat AzG naar Le Monde heeft gelekt (de enige andere partij die er weet van had, was BuZa); het is ook een fijne opsteker voor Arjan van Erkel, die nu verder moet met het idee dat zijn leven voor AzG feitelijk weinig waard was. En tenslotte is het vanaf nu open season op Nederlanders in instabiele gebieden, nu bekend is dat er in voorkomende gevallen losgeld wordt betaald.
Als er straks in Irak een Nederlander wordt gegijzeld voor veel poen, is degene die dit nieuws naar Le Monde heeft gelekt, medeverantwoordelijk.
(Geef uw geld voortaan maar aan een ander goed doel.) Sorry, het woordje 'ander' hoorde daar niet.
Teletekst meldt het niet, en de redactie van het NOS Journaal vreet nog liever de eigen ingewanden op dan dat ze nieuws brengt dat niet in de eigen kraam te pas komt. Vandaar dat een link naar dit CNN-artikel, waarin formeel wordt bevestigd dat de verdachte granaten uit Irak ook bij nadere bestudering sarin én mosterdgas blijken te bevatten, wel op zijn plaats is.
De vraag is nu: zijn dit (volgens de VN-resoluties illegale) toevallige overblijfselen, of zwerft ergens nog veel meer rond?
Een klein niet-rectaal vervolg op het bericht over borstkanker bij mannen van gisteren. De BBC meldt: 'Experts warn cancer now kills more men in the UK than any other condition.' Wat dan vooral komt omdat mannen slechts onder bedreiging van een AK-47 naar de dokter zijn te krijgen (een schotwond van voornoemde AK-47 wil trouwens ook nog wel eens helpen). Heren, wees stoer, ga niet dood. Ook al zijn er hele kekke Harley Davidson-kistjes tegenwoordig.
Dat Bert Koenders meer verstand heeft van fijne restaurants dan van (buitenlandse) politiek, was al langer bekend.
Maar dat Koenders, geconfronteerd met een Amerikaans-Brits voorstel voor een VN-resolutie over Irak die exact aan de eerder door de PvdA gestelde eisen voldoet, nu uit pure wanhoop vlucht in een kinderachtig spelletje semantiek over de betekenis van het woordje 'leidende', kan maar één ding betekenen.
Koenders is de leidende zwetser van Nederland. En dan mag Bert zelf bedenken wat ík met 'leidende' zou kunnen bedoelen.
Zucht, waar zijn m'n benzo's.
Uw weblogger doet regelmatig aan vechtsport en is dus wel wat blauwe plekken gewend. Maar tijdens het sparren dat onlosmakelijk hoort bij het leren vechten, gelden altijd basale regels van fatsoen. Waardering voor de ander. Respect.
Wellicht dat er om die reden niet zoveel vrouwen met ons meetrainen. Want de manier waarop dames elkaar vanmiddag in het overvolle Winkelcentrum '40-'45 bejegenden, gun je zelfs een martelende Amerikaanse of Britse militair niet.
In de kassarij bij Albert Heijn viel een door haar seksegenoten verdrukte dame letterlijk flauw, bij de Blokker duwde een vrouw met een dubbele kinderwagen zich via een stuk of zeven schenen een weg naar de deur. Zonder ook maar één keer sorry te zeggen of te vragen of ze er langs mocht.
Zo kan ik nog even doorgaan. Het is dat er veel urgente boodschappen gedaan moesten worden, anders was ik op maandagochtend teruggekomen, wanneer de winkels worden bevolkt door 70-plus-vrouwen, nog altijd net zo gemeen maar niet langer fit genoeg om veel schade aan te kunnen richten.
Het is tijd voor het eerste vrouwvrije winkelcentrum. Raad eens waarom die man alleen op zondag het vlees sneed? Omdat hij de rest van de week in de kreukels lag na zijn pogingen het te kopen. Hou uw Free Record Shop in de gaten voor de eerste Shopping Carnage-DVD, voor snuff movies is tenslotte ook een markt. (Venture capitalists die in deze film willen investeren, mogen me hier mailen.)
Een Amerikaan heeft ooit eens gezegd: Without men, civilization would last until the oil needs changing. Die uitspraak zat een eind in de goede richting, maar behoeft toch enige herziening.
Without men, civilization would last until the oil needs buying.
U weet wel, de man die bij het Uwv parkeergarages bij het kantooroppervlak rekende om zo meer gemeenschapsgeld voor bureaustoelen los te krijgen, en toen met een ijzeren gezicht volhield dat 'ie niets misdaan had? Nou, die man gaat in Nederland de terrorismebestrijding coördineren. Uw weblogger overweegt thans een Tom Ridge-fanclub op te richten, en moet zich ernstig inhouden om niet in een Fortuynesque 'Wat een bananenrepubliek dit land' uit te barsten. Want bah, wat een bananenrepubliek dit land.
Eerder heb ik op deze site beargumenteerd dat iedereen zijn mening moet kunnen uiten, hoe onwelgevallig die ook wordt gevonden door anderen. Een van de aanleidingen daartoe was een uitspraak van de AIVD dat het bekritiseren van de meer orthodoxe en radicale vormen van Islam zou leiden tot verdere radicalisering. Mijn mening daarover is en blijft dezelfde: wanneer sommige mensen een probleem hebben met bepaalde meningen, dan moeten ze maar een dikkere huid ontwikkelen, in plaats van te eisen dat die mening niet meer mag worden geuit.
It cuts both ways. Vrijheid van meningsuiting is er niet alleen voor Geert Wilders. Wanneer iemand de mening is toegedaan dat het praktiseren van homoseksualiteit een zonde is, moet hij dat mogen vinden, net zoals ik een dergelijke mening abject mag vinden. De EO denkt al jaren hyperconservatief over homoseksualiteit en die club is nog steeds niet verboden. (En hoewel bepaald geen EO-liefhebber, verhuis ik naar een werkelijk vrij land wanneer dat gebeurt.) Wanneer een imam te kennen geeft dat hij ook niet zo dol is op Roze Zaterdag, heeft hij het recht dat te zeggen. Tolerantie jegens intolerante meningen is essentieel voor een democratische samenleving. Democratie bestaat niet bij de gratie van het enkel tolereren van meningen waar niemand aanstoot aanneemt. Zoals J van N zei: het is niet moeilijk om je vrienden lief te hebben.
Iets anders wordt het waar een mening verandert in een daad. Gedanken sind frei - handelingen niet. Is iemand van zins zijn mening nonverbaal te uiten - door een vliegtuig in een flatgebouw te parkeren; een homoseksueel te verbouwen; of wraak te nemen op een moslim vanwege 9/11 - dan is dat onverdedigbaar. De vrijheid van het individu eindigt waar die van het andere individu begint, en bij het toepassen van fysiek geweld is dat overduidelijk het geval.
Maar wat te doen met een boek dat de mening bevat dat een bepaald fenomeen met fysiek geweld moet worden opgelost? Het boek zelf bevat enkel tekst, en dus volgens mijn eerdere redenatie acceptabel - ware het niet dat die tekst er slechts met één reden is: om geweld te veroorzaken, oftewel het debat te vervangen door een fysieke krachtmeting. Ligt de verantwoordelijkheid voor de mening dat mensen geweld moeten gebruiken om een doel te bereiken, bij degene die zo'n verhaal opschrijft - of bij degenen die het verhaal lezen? De onderhavige tekst heeft in zo'n geval overduidelijk niet de bedoeling om aan welk discours ook bij te dragen. Kun je nog spreken over een mening als de betreffende mening niet openstaat voor discussie, maar juist dient om ieder gesprek bij voorbaat te beëindigen? En wat moet je in zo'n geval met een boek als de bijbel, waarin wordt opgeroepen homoseksuelen en overspelige vrouwen te stenigen? Mag het een argument zijn dat het christendom geseculariseerd is, en de islam slechts in veel mindere mate? Of is dat een geval van een Europees overschot aan boter op het hoofd, om niet te zeggen: het meten met twee maten op basis van een andere inschatting van het vermeende gevaar van de ene versus de andere religie?
Ik kom hier niet uit. Om de gedachten te ordenen, heb ik onder 'Lees verder' een stuk geplaatst van mijn favoriete schrijver, Orson Scott Card, uit het boek Speaker for the Dead. Het is een parabel van de fictieve persoon San Angelo, uit de eveneens fictieve 'Brieven aan een beginnend ketter'.
Enjoy, en laat me uw gedachten over dit onderwerp weten op het forum - mits respectvol. Zes miljard mensen is veel, maar elkaar afmaken doet u maar bij Unreal.
Want dit wordt 'm niet. Hoop ik althans. Nog nooit heb ik in Buitenhof, het beste programma van de publieke omroep, zo'n slecht verhaal gehoord. De dame die vandaag Paul Cliteur mocht vervangen (we gaan haar niet noemen, het mocht haar Google-ranking eens omhoog helpen), hield een verhaal vol allusies naar het verdorven karakter van medecolumnist Ronald Plasterk, die zo vaag waren dat ze er nooit op aangesproken kan worden. Erg dapper.
Wat er precies mis is met Plasterk werd niet duidelijk, alleen dan dat hij de redelijkheid zelve is. Blijkbaar is dat een nadeel, vooral als je iemand wilt aanvallen en die persoon je daar door zijn doorwrochte meningen niet genoeg munitie voor verschaft. Sja, dan speel je maar op de man. Zelf nam de gastcolumniste geen enkel beargumenteerd standpunt in, wat je Plasterk ondanks zijn redelijkheid niet kunt verwijten.
De enige mening die ik kon ontdekken, is dat Plasterk, en niet zij, het veld zou moeten ruimen voor Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Naar onderbouwing zoek ik nog, al denk ik wel een motivatie te hebben gevonden. Het gaat immers opvallen als je regelmatig moet samenwerken met een medecolumnist die geen goedkope ad hominem-aanvallen gebruikt om zijn punt te maken.
Open opmerking gericht aan de Buitenhof-redactie: vrijheid van meningsuiting impliceert dat mensen een mening uiten, en niet louter frustraties spuien. Liefst meningen met onderbouwing. Zullen we daar vanaf volgende week weer mee verdergaan? Bijvoorbeeld door inderdaad Ayaan Hirsi Ali zo gek te krijgen columnist te worden, en dan naast Plasterk? Heb ik niet voor niets op haar gestemd. Dank.
Omdat een journalist ook wel eens moet eten - het gerucht dat we ons voeden met het bloed van stadsduiven en geïnterviewden is niet helemaal apocrief, maar toch sterk overdreven - ging ik vanmiddag naar de Albert Heijn. Aangezien je nog altijd een Pee-Elletje nodig hebt voordat je de boodschappen daar kunt betalen, laadde ik het karretje vol met zogeheten Bonusaanbiedingen, producten die net niet onbetaalbaar zijn.
Om er bij de kassa achter te komen dat mijn Bonuskaart zoek was.
Achter de kassa zat het soort chagrijn dat je bij voorkeur aantreft bij de voordeelaanbiedingen gehakt (dat wil zeggen: vermalen achter celofaan).
Ik vroeg of ik de Bonuskaart van de dame achter me mocht gebruiken.
'Alleen als ze geen Airmileskaart eraan heeft gekoppeld.'
Nee, natuurlijk niet, want dan kost het Albert Heijn geld. Ik vergat helemaal dat ik zelf ook zo'n geval heb, zodat het kaatje koek zou blijven, zoals dat (vijftig jaar geleden) populair heette.
'Sja, meneer, ik kan er ook niets aan doen.'
Die uitspraak valt in dezelfde categorie als 'Ik ben niet dom': hij dient louter om het tegenovergestelde nog eens te onderschrijven.
Ik stelde voor om dan maar even snel bij de servicebalie een nieuwe Bonuskaart te halen - het verschil bedroeg 8 euro, toch goed voor een maand rijst bij de Aldi.
Dat mocht, zowaar, maar net op dat moment schoof een andere dame aan die hulpvaardig haar kaart aanbood.
'Er zit toch geen Airmiles aan gekoppeld?'
Klonk het dreigend, waarop de vriendelijke dame bijna in elkaar kromp terwijl ze ontkennend antwoordde.
De cassière from hell scande haar Bonuskaart, ik toeste als de sodemieter mijn pincode in en bevestigde de betaling.
Net op tijd.
'Er zit hier wél een Airmileskaart aan gekoppeld!'
Ik pakte snel mijn karretje in. En terwijl ik de Albert Heijn - voorlopig voor 't laatst - verliet, hoorde ik de cassière in de verte verder mopperen.
Volgens de zogenaamd neutrale ambtenaren van de AIVD althans.
En daarom worden er ook massaal linkse politici omver gereden of op het Mediapark in Hilversum doodgeschoten door verwarde personen, terwijl rechtse politici in dit paradijs van vrijheid van meningsuiting absoluut niets te vrezen hebben.
Dit lijkt me het moment om het principe van vrije meningsuiting met een Twents gezegde te verduidelijken: Scheldn döt gin zeer, maar a'j mie houwt, dan houw'k oe weer.
(Twents is als ruwe diamant: niet subtiel maar vol innerlijke kracht.)
Op het moment dat dus iemand - zeg een niet bijster genuanceerd denker als Theo van Gogh, of een toch redelijk beschaafd politicus als Van Aartsen - iets zegt waar een ander een probleem mee heeft, die daar vervolgens gewelddadige neigingen van krijgt, is het de laatstgenoemde die verkeerd bezig is, en niet degene die iets heeft gezegd. Op het moment dat uitspraken tot nonverbale intolerantie leiden, ligt het probleem bij de luisteraar.
Zoals de uitspraak van Voltaire schijnt te luiden (er is wat discussie over de herkomst van het nuvolgende citaat): Ik mag het niet eens zijn met wat u zegt, maar ik zal met mijn leven uw recht verdedigen om het te zeggen.
Dit is een van de basisprincipes van de westerse rechtsstaat.
(En wie dat niet met me eens is, die kan een dreun voor z'n harses krijgen ;-))
Gelukkig krijgt u voor uw belastinggeld in Nederland wel de waarheid, dankzij het immer onpartijdige NOS Journaal. Dat wist namelijk te melden dat de Amerikaanse media deze gruwelijke foto's (in dit geval op de website Yahoo) van verminkte Amerikanen in Fallujah niet aan hun publiek durven te laten zien. Daaraan koppelde de NOS gelijk maar de insinuatie dat deze vermeende Amerikaanse 'omissie' wel te maken zou hebben met het GI'tje-slepen-achter-een-pickup in het Mogadishu, Somalië, van 1993 (alwaar de Amerikanen goed werk deden totdat de Verenigde Naties de boel weer eens kwamen verkloten, overigens inderdaad in samenwerking met de in Europa zo bejubelde president Clinton).
Enfin, de ondertoon was duidelijk: Amerikanen zijn laffe donders wier tere zieltjes beschermd moeten worden tegen de treurigheid van oorlog. Daarom waren het immers Franse stoottroepen die de slager van Bagdad verdedigden... eh verdreven, diezelfde Fransen die destijds ook heel dapper dat bloedbad in Rwanda hebben gefaciliteerd... eh ik bedoel: niet meer konden voorkomen. Kuch kuch.
Oh wacht, is Yahoo een Amerikaanse website?
Niet voor het eerst moest het Journaal deze blunder in een latere editie herstellen. De beelden werden namelijk wel gewoon in de Amerikaanse media getoond. De reden voor deze onvermoede Amerikaanse dapperheid, althans volgens de NOS? 'De Amerikaanse politieke situatie ligt nu anders (dan in 1993, red.).' Een bijzonder laffe uitvlucht voor een kapitale fout, gebaseerd op bevooroordeeldheid en een daaruit voortvloeiend stuitend gebrek aan elementaire journalistieke mores (zoals het checken of wat je beweert wel waar is, danwel gebaseerd is op wishful thinking).
Een item over 'de politieke situatie' bij de NOS, dat zou nog eens mooie televisie opleveren.
(Overigens is het natuurlijk niet ironisch dat uitgerekend de NOS de Amerikaanse media impliciet beschuldigt van het voorkauwen van een onvolledig en geprefabriceerd wereldbeeld. Pot, ketel, zwart.)
Toegegeven, ik zag het verband eerst ook niet zo. Maar nu gelukkig wel! Met dank aan Jeroen Pauw, die in 'Met het oog op morgen' opmerkte dat hij niet snapte waarom sommige joden zich zo druk maakten over 'The last temptation of the Christ'. Toen 'Schindler's List' in première ging, hoorde je daar ook geen Duitser over, aldus Pauw. Toch een geruststellend idee dat de publieke omroep beschikt over goed gekwalificeerde presentatoren die met rake analyses uw wereldbeeld er een stuk overzichtelijker op maken - vroeger kon je daarvoor alleen bij SBS6 terecht.
Morgen in 'Met het oog op morgen': rekenen met Jeroen Pauw. Waarin u ondermeer zult leren dat één appel plus één peer gelijkstaat met twee porties linksdraaiende fruitcocktail.
(Te neuriën op 'Schipper, mag ik overvaren', een net zo onzinnige vrijetijdsbesteding.)
Volgens Sour Bob luidt het antwoord ontkennend. De kans op succes bedraagt volgens Bob (niet te verwarren met Bert) slechts 8 procent. Oftewel: het is krap eens per twaalf keer raak. En dan noemen ze casinobezoek immoreel.
Partijdigheid NOS valt nu ook in eigen gelederen op
Het was een bizarre scene. President George W. Bush die tegen een assistent zegt: 'Kun jij zijn naam even opschrijven? Ik vergeet hem altijd.' In het volgende shot was premier Balkenende te zien. De suggestie was meer dan duidelijk: hier was sprake van de typische Amerikaanse arrogantie die we allemaal zo goed kennen. De Amerikaanse president kan de naam van een bevriende regeringsleider met 1.100 manschappen in Irak niet eens onthouden!
Dit staaltje inzicht in geopolitiek was afkomstig van - hoe kan het ook anders - het NOS Journaal.
Alleen jammer dat Bush het niet over Balkenende had, maar over heel iemand anders, zo gaf de NOS aan het einde van de uitzending zelf toe. Wie het dan wel was, durfde de omroep niet te vermelden - wat doet vermoeden dat het inderdaad iemand was wiens naam u en ik ook zouden zijn vergeten. Meneer Chandrasekhar, derde vice-voorzitter van de Nationale Raad van Zwembadopzichters of iets dergelijks.
Dat de NOS haar fout onmiddellijk herstelde, zou je gunstig kunnen noemen. Maar ik word er niet vrolijker van. Dat door belastinggeld betaalde redacteuren deze vergissing, als het dat was, überhaupt maken, getuigt op zijn minst van een wel heel selectieve interpretatie van ruw beeldmateriaal. Waarom zou je onmiddellijk tot de conclusie komen dat Bush het over Balkenende had, als je er niet ergens diep van binnen al van overtuigd was dat die Amerikanen niet deugen?
Wellicht is het tijd voor een Hutton-achtige blik op Hilversum.
Dat rapport dat je gewoon hier kunt downloaden? Dat rapport waaraan Philip Vreselijk gisteravond bij het slot van het NOS Journaal refereerde als 'het geheime Pentagon-document'? Het rapport dat zou voorspellen dat Nederland in 2007 natte voeten krijgt, maar is geschreven door twee gediplomeerde fantasten, die ondermeer meewerkten aan de films War Games, Minority Report en Deep Impact?
Helaas, de NOS baseert zich louter op een artikel in the Guardian. Die krant is milieugezinder dan de sokken van Lucas Reinders, en dat geeft allemaal niet, maar het zou wel fijn zijn als door belastinggeld betaalde journalisten die tot taak hebben het publiek volledig te informeren, eens wat verder kijken dan hun groene neus lang is.
Om te beginnen heeft the Guardian niet de primeur, zoals de krant zelf claimt. Nieuws over het rapport stond al op 26 januari in Fortune Magazine, waarvan ik het even droevig als voorspelbaar vind dat het in Hilversum blijkbaar niet wordt gelezen. Marx en Engels zijn dood, nu de haat tegen het grootkapitaal nog.
Ten tweede gaat het hier niet om een rapport van het Pentagon zelf. Net zoals iedere volwassen organisatie nodigt het Pentagon af en toe externe adviseurs uit om vreselijke scenario's te bedenken, om zich hierop zo beter voor te kunnen bereiden. Het document heet notabene 'Imagining the Unthinkable'. Als je een dergelijk speculatief rapport verwart met een officiële beleidsvisie, ben je of een domme journalist, of een luie, of een partijdige die in zijn vrije tijd met Greenpeace-boekjes foldert. Take your pick.
Wacht maar totdat het NOS Journaal het rampenplan van Akzo Nobel te pakken krijgt. Dat wordt weer een dramatisch stukje televisie.
Misschien heeft u ze ooit geslikt: kleine witte tabletjes die u kreeg nadat u voor de zoveelste keer met vage klachten bij de huisarts kwam. Iedere apotheek heeft ze: lactose-pilletjes. Ze bevatten niets meer dan melksuiker, maar brengen soms acute genezing.
Iedereen mag wat mij betreft geloven waar hij zin in heeft. Wie als migrainegeneesmiddel zweert bij een glas in het licht van de volle maan gecentrifugeerde karnemelk, moet daar vooral zijn keel mee smeren. En wie bij ziekte fanatiek aan het druppelen slaat met een oplossing bestaande uit 10 miljoen delen water (of alcohol) en 1 deel werkzame stof, mag dat ook zelf weten.
Maar voor de financiering van dat bijgeloof hoeft de rest van Nederland niet op te draaien. En daarom is het ook prettig om te horen dat het College ter Beoordeling van Geneesmiddelen moeite heeft met de vergoeding van homeopathische producten door de ziektekostenverzekering. Met dank aan Hans Hoogervorst, die zich (terecht) niet kan voorstellen waarom een ontwikkeld m/v als een arts in dergelijke flauwekul gelooft.
Het cruciale aspect is bewijs. Voor de werkzaamheid van homeopathie is die er niet. Weliswaar zijn er ooit wat vage aanwijzingen gevonden in een enkel onderzoek. Maar voor wetenschappers geldt hetzelfde als voor casino-bezoekers: als je maar genoeg onderzoeken doet, zul je eens in de zoveel tijd door een toevalstreffer een opzienbarend resultaat bereiken. Daarom eist de wetenschappelijke methode twee aanvullende zekerheden: reproduceerbaarheid (dezelfde resultaten moeten door andere wetenschappers kunnen worden gevonden) en een toetsbare theorie waarom iets is zoals het is (voor hetzelfde geld heeft een eventueel reproduceerbaar effect een heel andere oorzaak, zoals bijvoorbeeld een onopgemerkte onderzoeksfout die constitent bij iedere herhaling opnieuw wordt toegepast). Homeopathie voldoet aan geen van beide voorwaarden en dus praktiseren artsen die zich er toch mee bezighouden, een methode die vooralsnog geen enkele validiteit heeft.
Voor de duidelijkheid: fytotherapie is natuurlijk een heel ander verhaal; daar hebben we het over werkzame plantaardige stoffen in hoge concentraties, niet de enorme verdunningen die de homeopathie hanteert. Aspirine is immers ook een vinding die uit de wilgenbast stamt.
Goed, Freek de Jonge's analyse van de Amerikaans-Britse motieven voor de oorlog tegen Saddam Hussein is even simplistisch als lachwekkend: "Om de olie". Terwijl De Jonge zelf al toegaf dat hij zich verbaasde over de enorme kosten die de Amerikanen maken in Irak, en letterlijk zei dat hij niet snapte 'dat het eruit kon', trok hij niet de overduidelijke conclusie: als een oorlog meer geld kost dan hij oplevert aan olie (en dat kost 'ie), is geld wellicht niet (of niet de enige) reden. Ipso facto.
Maar dat een linkse rakker als De Jonge op zijn leeftijd nog de flexibiliteit heeft en de openheid van geest om het anti-militarisme waarmee hij naar eigen zeggen is opgevoed, te nuanceren op basis van eigen ervaringen, toont karakter. En honderd keer meer dan Youp "Ha, hockeykuitjes" van 't Hek die De Jonge op zijn bekende populistische manier aanviel in NRC Handelsblad. Leuk overigens dat Nova, waarin De Jonge te gast was, tegelijkertijd meldde dat Van 't Hek tegen betaling heeft opgetreden bij de marine - terwijl De Jonge onbezoldigd afreisde naar Irak.
Dat ik tegen die tijd maar net zo'n wijde blik mag hebben.
(Ja, ik ben inmiddels een flink eind op weg met die halve liter wijn, en daar wordt een mens mild van.)
In een variant op een bekende commercial: waar is prins Bernhard nou helemaal mee bezig?
Wie laat er nu een onderzoek naar de meest vuige roddels over zichzelf uitvoeren door een goede vriend, die daarbij dan ook nog bijzonder ongrondig te werk gaat? Hans van der Voet, de uit de Biesbosch ontsnapte geschiedenisbever, mocht zaterdag voor het NOS Journaal met trillende pafwangen vertellen dat hij echt, heus, toch wel, objectief alle bronnen had onderzocht.
Helaas kwam hij bij de onderbouwing van die kreet niet verder dan te verwijzen naar 'de laatste alinea', die hij ondanks het aanzienlijke belang die dergelijke zinnen zouden hebben toch niet uit zijn hoofd wist te reproduceren.
Kortom, dit nogal summiere onderzoek door een partijdige geschiedkundige zal geen enkele reinigende werking hebben voor het imago van prins Bernhard.
Integendeel. Want door zelf de publiciteit te zoeken, en dan ook nog in een (al dan niet terecht) als fatsoenlijk ervaren krant als de Volkskrant, geeft Bernhard journalisten een prima excuus om zelf aan het spitten te gaan. Ieder beroep op een argument als 'privacy' of 'fatsoen' heeft Bernhard zichzelf bij voorbaat ontnomen door deze oerdomme actie.
Juist als jachtliefhebber moet de prins weten dat dit maar één ding kan betekenen: vanaf nu is het open season op de koninklijke familie.
Zong Joop Visser, a.k.a. Jaap Fischer (volgende week in Bellevue), jaren geleden. En hij had (heeft) gelijk. Want dit stuk verbale diarree dat in de Volkskrant voor 'analyse' doorgaat, leest als het gemok van een 14-jarige schoolkrantredacteur die van de conrector te horen heeft gekregen dat het afgelopen moet zijn met het maken van flauwe grappen over de neuswratten van zijn vrouw. De 'analyse' in kwestie is een even voorspelbare als trieste reactie op het Hutton-rapport. In het artikel slaat Bert Wagendorp een verongelijkte toon aan, die er op neerkomt dat alle kritiek op de journalistiek verboden zou moeten worden. Want, zo schrijft Wagendorp: 'De veroordeling van een prestigieus instituut als de BBC is slecht voor álle media, niet alleen de Britse.'
Kritiek op het bestaansrecht van de media is inderdaad gevaarlijk en antidemocratisch. Thomas Jefferson zei ooit: 'Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.' Helemaal waar - alleen is hier geen sprake van een aanval op de pers. Wagendorp maakt zich schuldig aan manipulatie of op zijn minst een misinterpretatie van wat er in het Hutton-rapport stond. Lord Hutton heeft niet het fenomeen journalistiek bekritiseerd, maar de werkwijze van de BBC. Wie zijn bakker ervan langs geeft omdat hij hem een half verkoold brood heeft verkocht, pleit daarmee nog niet voor een verbod op Twents donker volkoren.
Om u, den lezer heil enzo, toch nog enigszins het idee te geven dat er journalisten zijn die wel weten hoe het moet, een citaat uit een van de commentaren van The Economist van deze week: 'Contrary to what Mr Gilligan said, the government did not insert a claim that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes knowing that it was false, nor did it do so against the wishes of its own spies. Sad to say, this report was typical of much of modern British journalism: twisting or falsifying the supposed news to fit a journalist's opinion about where the truth really lies. Some in the British media have described such journalism as "brave". Sloppy or biased would be better words for it.'
Triest genoeg geeft Wagendorps 'analyse' door zijn verdraaiing van de inhoud van het Hutton-rapport, blijk ervan net zo 'sloppy or biased' te zijn.
Het rechtssysteem is gebaseerd op het principe dat de aanklager duidelijk moet maken dat iemand onomwonden schuldig is aan een bepaald misdrijf. De Gezondheidsraad heeft vandaag erkend dat dit principe ook voor zedenzaken geldt. Het gaat om het uiterst dubieuze fenomeen van onder hypnose teruggevonden herinneringen. Hypnose kan nuttig zijn; ik beheers het zelf een beetje. Maar helaas is hypnose ook bovenmatig populair bij vage psychiaters als John E. Mack, gesjeesd Harvard-geleerde die zijn tijd verdoet met het hypnotiseren van "slachtoffers van UFO-ontvoeringen".
De discussie over hypnose als juridisch instrument loopt al een tijdje. In 1994 richtten ouders de Werkgroep Fictieve Herinneringen op. En geheugenexpert Willem Albert Wagenaar roept ook al jaren dat het menselijk geheugen niet het onfeilbare videoarchief is waarvoor het gros van de bevolking het houdt.
De Gezondheidsraad stelt nu, met enig gevoel voor understatement, dat de betrouwbaarheid van onder hypnose teruggehaalde "herinneringen" aan seksueel misbruik niet is vast te stellen. Dat is een beleefde manier van zeggen: het zou theoretisch echt zo kunnen zijn, maar ook niet, en dus heeft hypnose in de rechtszaal niets te zoeken. Rechters moeten zich baseren op feiten, en niet op onzekerheden.
Jeroen Pauw is niet m'n favoriete presentator van Met het Oog op Morgen. Dat heeft te maken met zijn vermogen om net te doen alsof hij toch kan nadenken. Daarbij hoort ook het etaleren van veel schijnkennis. Zoals de opmerking gisteravond dat de waarde luisteraars zojuist hadden kunnen genieten van 'de Ierse zangeres Sarah McLachlan'. Die helaas wel geboren en getogen is in Canada. In verder buitenlands nieuws: McDonalds gaat Guinness serveren (if only).
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