Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Dip 2011

After a short night’s sleep and a little too much alcohol, hundreds, maybe even thousands of diehards will be stripping off on beaches up and down in the Netherlands to take to the freezing cold waters for the first time in 2011. Fourteen out of the 90 official New Year’s Dips have been cancelled because of the icy conditions, but the main event in Scheveningen, sponsored by UNOX, will be going ahead.

The 80-year-old Ok van Batenburg organised the first dip on Zandvoort beach in 1960. Back then his family doctor warned him the human body could not take such a shock to the system. Just to make sure he practised on Boxing Day 1959. The worst year so far was 1963. It was minus ten degrees Celcius and they only got as far as their knees before withdrawing. His tip for this year is “Make sure you wear clothes you can get in and out of quickly.”
On the picture, Lucia Prins, UNOX Babe 2010. Tomorrow we will know who the UNOX babe 2011 is.))
source: rwn

Dutch politician writes anti-Islam book

Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders will publish an anti-Islam book in the first half of 2011, he told  in an interview today.

“The book is aimed mainly at the US market and focuses on how to combat the spread of Islam on a global level. We can do a lot here in the Netherlands, but we want to send out a strong international signal to the Arab world that a party in the centre of power in this country is fighting back,” Mr Wilders said.
His Freedom Party cherishes “a wide range” of ambitions, he says in the interview. “Our first priority is to launch the International Freedom Alliance, which boils down to a platform against Islam. That will be huge.”
The book will be Mr Wilders’ second, after the publication in 2005 of a short autobiography, titled Kies voor vrijheid (Choose for Freedom).
Curious what the reactions will be...

Day Opening - Deecember 31 - the last one of this year

2010 ticks away

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The 11 most famous/notorious Dutch people of 2010

1. Geert Wilders

The ranting voice of the common Dutchman made headlines through much of the year. In June’s elections, his PVV party won 24 seats, becoming the country’s third largest. Following months of tense coalition talks, his party even got to rule the country without joining the government. Then there was Wilders’ trial for insulting Muslims, inciting hatred and discrimination. The court soap featured a largely silent Wilders, stumbling judges and a fateful dinner. The fun was only spoiled by his own MPs, some of whom, it turned out, were aggressive troublemakers, crooks and suspected porn lords.

2. Joran van der Sloot

Following a calm 2009, in 2010 Joran again basked in the limelight. On television, he admitted that Natalee Holloway had fallen to her death after taking cocaine. After a woman had been found murdered in his hotel room in Peru, he was arrested in Chile. TIME Magazine declared the arrest the biggest crime event of the year. Extradited to Peru, he confessed but soon after withdrew his statement. In the US he was accused of blackmailing Natalee’s mother. Now he is awaiting trial in Peru’s notorious Castro Castro prison.

3. Tanja Nijmeijer

In 2010 Holland’s most famous guerrilla launched a formidable media offensive. In September she was back in the news when she was thought to have been killed in an army raid on a FARC rebel camp in Colombia’s jungle. Dead or alive, she was brought to life in video footage published by RNW. Whether documentary or propaganda, the images reveal that she misses Dutch cheese and bikes, becomes teary on hearing the national anthem, likes to sing Top 2000 songs and will stay with the FARC till she dies.

4. Nigel de Jong

The year was largely dominated by the World Cup in South Africa, where Holland reached the final. The team owed much of their success to Bert van Marwijk’s tactical interventions, Wesley Sneijder’s goals and Arjen Robben’s fast forward runs. Once all the orange dust had settled, though, it was Nigel de Jong who stood out. Feared as a ruthless midfielder, he lived up to his reputation by striking Spain’s Xabi Alsono on the chest with a spectacular flying karate kick.

5. Mark Rutte

Locked in a power struggle for the party leadership only three years ago, he is now the country’s first liberal PM since 1918. After a fraught formation, he forged a coalition with the decimated Christian Democrats, backed by the booming PVV. While his cabinet is trusted by few, the PM’s popularity continues undiminished.

6. Laura Dekker

After a long legal battle, in August the teenage sailor finally set sail for her solo trip around the world. Is she a pigheaded teenager with reckless parents, or an independent, intelligent youth able to steer her own course? Whatever the case, she succeeded in crossing the Atlantic. From her blog we learned that, on her long journey, she often listens to music or watches the sea and sometimes is hit by lulls and boredom.

7. Ruben

Rather against his own wishes, the nine-year-old boy from Tilburg made world headlines when it emerged he was the only survivor of May’s plane crash near the Libyan capital Tripoli. All the other 103 people on board the flight died in the accident. Dutch and foreign media proceeded to gatecrash ‘the Tripoli miracle’, forcing the orphan into non-consensual interviews and violating the privacy of his hospital sickbed.

8. Victor Muller

Here Victor Muller was known as a flamboyant multi-millionaire and the maker of the handcrafted Spyker sports cars. In February, however, he became famous the world over after taking over Swedish car maker Saab from the ailing US company General Motors. The world was astonished, and soon there were rumours of Russian financiers of dubious reputation with criminal connections. In Sweden, however, Muller’s reputation as the saviour of thousands of jobs remains unshaken.

9. Nicolien Sauerbreij

At the Vancouver Winter Games, she did what few had thought possible: winning gold for snowboarding—quite a feat for someone from a flat country, with lots of rain but little snow. In addition, it was Holland’s 100th Olympic medal. It was therefore entirely fitting that she was proclaimed sportswoman of the year.

10. The Bavaria Babes

During the first week of the World Cup, the Bavaria Babes aroused more passions than the Dutch team. Clad in orange skirts, the 36 lasses were repeatedly caught on camera flaunting their delightful wares - a bold example of ambush marketing on the part of the brewer Bavaria. Alas, the stunt breached FIFA regulations and two babes were thrown in gaol for undertaking commercial activities in a football stadium. Feelings were running high and even the government intervened. In the end, Bavaria and FIFA reached a settlement, with the beer brewer’s mission - as much media attention as possible - amply accomplished.

11. Armin van Buuren

In terms of Google hits, DJ and producer Armin van Buuren is the country’s number one. The prestigious International Dance Music Awards in Miami declared the high priest of trance the world’s best DJ. And his label, Armada Music, was chosen the best record company. The authoritative British magazine DJ Mag also declared Van Buuren the world’s best, for the fourth year in a row.

Day Opening - December 28

by Peter Hasselborn

Monday, December 27, 2010

Indian freedom fighter dies at 106

Ganga Ba Patel, a freedomfighter and staunch Gandhian till the last day of her 106 years, died at 6.30 am on Sunday.


Ganga Ba was close to my mother's family. "I have never seen her in anything but white khadi clothes. Nor do I remember seeing her wearing any ornaments, not even a bindi. And she was always a skinny woman, never have I ever seen her put on weight. She walked a lot, always walked to our house, even till recently. She ate extremely simple food, without any spices. At her house, we were always served buttermilk, milk, rotlo* and such stuff. Whenever we went to her house, she was always busy doing physical work, be it milking cows, cleaning up the yard. Afterwards, when age made this difficult, she was always alert and supervising the household chores", says Miki Desai, my maternal uncle.

Gangaba's husband and my grandfather were close friends. When her husband was jailed, Ganga Ba's interaction with the Desai family grew and she soon became an integral part of the extended family. She also grew very close to grandfather's mother, Hari Ba.

"She was the 'grand old lady' who could tell anybody anything. She called my father by his name, Chandu. She could tell any man what she wanted to, be it my father, my uncle, us when we grew up. She could call us and ask us to shut up, or do this instead of that. She spoke a lot about women, how important it is for them to be strong and independent," says Miki, his recollection of the strong woman taking him back to his ancestral home and people in Nadiad.

Baba and my uncle had gone to meet Ganga Ba at her residence around March 2010. Ganga Ba had stopped walking her usual long distances, but was as alert as ever. "She had a very mischievous smile and was in perfect control over the household," remembers my father about the last meeting. Before this, they had met Ganga Ba about five years ago at the funeral of a grandmother from the extended family. At 100, Ganga Ba had walked about half a mile to attend the ceremony, talked with everyone concerned in an astute, attentive way.

I do not have any memory of meeting her. But would love to believe I have met her. As a child playing somewhere with dozens of cousins in the sprawling backyard, running about without a care, only to be caught in the spindly hands of an old lady.

"Eyy chhokri. Koni baby chhe?"** Ganga Ba may have asked, her commanding eyes twinkling with mischief.

"Nayana ni". I would have said and run away...

Yes, I would like to believe I have met Ganga Ba.


-Gauri Gharpure

* Rotlo : Thick bread made from pearl millet (bajri in Gujarati)

** "Eyy girl, who's daughter are you?". "Nayana's"...

Also posted on Life Rules

Day Opening - December 27

..))

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dutch 'Christmas bomb' hero makes films about terrorism

“Flying Dutchman” Jasper Schuringa hit headlines around the world on Christmas Day last year. He was the heroic passenger who tackled a would-be terrorist on a plane bound for Detroit. Now he makes films – about terrorism, for example.
A year ago today, Jasper Schuringa was on the way to visit his sister in Costa Rica via the US when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to bring down Flight 235. “I’m dead,” thought Mr Schuringa when he heard a bang like a firework and realised there was a fire on board. No one else was doing anything, so he leapt on Abdulmutallab, who’d set his seat on fire as he failed to set off the explosives strapped to his leg.
The Dutchman tried to put out the fire with his bare hands, then dragged the attacker from his seat and helped the crew frisk and handcuff him. The plane landed safely, and the 286 passengers and 11 crew lived to tell the tale.
Mr Schuringa finds it hard to explain why he acted so decisively. He wasn’t sitting near the Nigerian. The cabin crew did little to help matters. “A stewardess kept screaming at the terrorist, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’” he says, “but she didn’t do anything else.”

Medal

He admits he’s a man with a cool head in a crisis – his friends and family say so too. For example, he once witnessed a serious car crash. “I stayed very calm and went to help with a few other people. We immediately agreed who would do what, and that we shouldn’t let ourselves be shocked by what we found.”
This month Jasper Schuringa was awarded a silver medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund. Yet he doesn’t see himself as a hero, because heroes are people who give their lives for others. His main thought was to save his own life. But the president of the Carnegie Hero Fund doesn’t agree with Mr Schuringa’s definition. “It’s the people who don’t see it themselves,” he says.

Perhaps heroism runs in Jasper Schuringa’s family. His grandfather also won a medal. He had a rubber plantation in Jakarta that supplied rubber for aircraft tyres and gas masks during the Second World War.
Or perhaps it’s because he’s led an adventurous life since he was a child. His father worked for Dutch oil giant Shell on the island of Curacão, where Jasper was born, and later in Gabon and Oman. In Gabon the family lived in the middle of the jungle. Once a month, a small plane took the women into town to do the shopping. Mr Schuringa’s childhood pastimes were spotting elephants, fishing and enjoying the rainforest.

At university the expat’s son began studying physiotherapy, but after the first year he switched to his real love, film. After training in Miami and a few jobs in the Netherlands, he set up his own company, Go with the Flow productions.
He wants to make films that touch people. Films to make people think about contemporary issues. Terrorism, for example. And so the wheel has come full circle. The cosmopolitan Jasper Schuringa, on the way to the US – as he sees it a country with a one-sided view since 9/11 – foiled a terrorist attack. A year later he’s making a film about terrorism.

Day Opening - Deecember 26 (Second Christmas Day)

Christmas portrait

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Political Islam in a nutshell

When something goes wrong in a Muslim society, Islam is not properly applied and the conclusion is always that pure Islam must be followed. Once something is an Islamic rule, the street ad signs disappear, the women veiled, the alcohol is eliminated and the mullahs get free rein. When this doesn’t helps, then another round of even greater purity is used. The inevitability of political Islam is reinforced by two ideas, victory and martyrdom. (...) Islam will therefore always prevail. And since martyrdom is the highest possible for a believer, each defeat became automatically victory. Thus, poverty becomes wealth, backwardness becomes science, and justice becomes discrimination, cruelty compassion, and understanding ultimately madness. These ideas are espoused by many millions, and got an extra boost by bin Laden. See therefore: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Hamas Gaza etc. If political Islam gets the upperhand, indeed, be prepared for the real holocaust.

Day Opening - December 23 with Andrea Bocelli

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Israel complains to UN over Gaza rockets

Israel has called on the Security Council to issue a "clear and resolute" message against rockets fired into its territory from the Gaza Strip, in a letter to the United Nations body that was made public on Wednesday.

The December 21 letter, made public by Israel's foreign ministry, comes amid rising tensions on Israel's border with the coastal enclave.
On Tuesday, Israel launched a series of airstrikes against what it said were tunnels, training sites and weapons facilities in the Gaza Strip, in response to a salvo of mortar shells on Monday and rocket fire on Tuesday morning.
A Kassem rocket landed just metres (yards) away from a kindergarten in a southern Israeli kibbutz, wounding a teenage girl.
"The incidents of the past several days are part of an escalation of terrorist attacks emanating from Gaza that target Israeli civilians, towns, and military personnel," said the letter signed by Meron Reuben, Israel's UN ambassador.
"Israel holds the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip completely responsible for all of these incidents, which are carried out in clear violation of international law. In response to such attacks, Israel has exercised and will continue to exercise its right to self-defence."

The letter is addressed to US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, the current chair of the Security Council, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
It says three rockets and 18 mortars have been fired into parts of southern Israel from Gaza since December 19 alone.
"The Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the international community must send a clear and resolute message that these attacks are unacceptable," Reuben wrote.
"In addition, the Security Council must give appropriate attention to the smuggling of arms into Gaza, which continues to fuel violence and instability in our region."
On Tuesday, Israeli army chief Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi warned that the relative calm that has prevailed since Israel's devastating Gaza offensive at the end of 2008 could quickly end.
"The situation is tense and fragile and could easily deteriorate, particularly if a rocket lands in a populated area," he told a parliamentary committee.
Between December 2008 and January 2009, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, in response to hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza into the Jewish state.
Since then, the number of rocket attacks has dropped considerably, but the army says more than 200 rockets or shells have been fired this year.
source ANP

Countdown begins

Beginning today, I am going to try and post here, as many pieces as I can. Photos, drawings, twitter-like messages enforcing strict economy of words on myself, and so on. I thank you for journeying with me in 2010, you made a difference, you know, even if you, my anonymous reader, have no idea how...

This is the first such post:



Read more here

Year-end post 2

After more than a decade, I go to Sundervan. Friend's out shopping and I have to while away some time. Pani puri would just take five minutes. On a whim, I decide to go inside the park where my parents took me on innumerable evenings. There's something special about reliving childhood. How, you may ask?

Read the complete post here

Arash's World: It's a Wonderful Life: Christmas from a Father's Point of View

Arash's World: It's a Wonderful Life: Christmas from a Father's Point of View

Day Opening - December 22

Boy, I'm glad, that's over!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gay-friendly places to go

1. SYDNEY

Homosexuality was still officially illegal in one part of Australia - Tasmania - as late as 1997, but times had already changed in other parts of the country by then. Sydney, for example, has long played host to the world’s biggest gay parade each year: the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in the gay district of Darlinghurst.

2. SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco has a rich history of gay rights. In the gay district known as The Castro, rainbow flags fly proudly all year long, bearing witness to this long tradition of emancipation. Fifteen percent of the city’s residents identify themselves as homosexual, the highest proportion in the United States.

3. BERLIN

The German capital’s gay friendly reputation is very much on the rise. Berlin is home to countless alternative bars, clubs and entertainment venues: an open, creative atmosphere where gay men and lesbians feel very much at home.
Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit is openly gay and is known for coining the coming-out phrase “Ich bin schwul - und das ist auch gut so” (“I’m gay – and that’s just fine”). The city also boasts an senior citizens' home for homosexual residents. The main gay district is in Schöneberg, near Nollendorfplatz.

4. NEW YORK

Sexuality simply isn’t an issue in New York, according to British newspaper The Independent. The Big Apple is “a place where lesbians and gay men of all ages and races are so integrated into work and political culture that their sexuality is often the least significant thing about them”. Gay life abounds in Chelsea and Greenwich Village.

5. PARIS

The district of Le Marais (French for “The Marsh”) is buzzing with gay life and a host of bars, cabaret venues and nightclubs. The district’s resplendent gay scene centres on the streets Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and Vieille du Temple.
This is also where you will find Europe’s biggest gay club, Le Dépôt. Lesbians should head for Rue des Ecouffes, south of Le Marais.

6. MYKONOS

Not an urban metropolis but an idyllic Greek island in the Aegean Sea. As far back as the 1960s Mykonos was renowned for its tolerant attitude to homosexuals of both genders and for its exuberant nightlife.
Nude sunbathing on some beaches is regarded as perfectly acceptable. As one travel agent puts it “All accommodation here is gay friendly, for without gay tourism Mykonos would be empty”.

7. AMSTERDAM

For many years Amsterdam was traditionally touted as the Gay Capital of the World. But the Dutch capital’s gay and lesbian community believe the city’s tolerant reputation has taken quite a beating in recent years.
In fact, 75 percent reckon the city barely deserves the title despite its being the city to perform the world’s first gay marriage on 1 April 2001. Political party D66 wants the city’s Homo Monument placed on the European Cultural Heritage list.

8. TEL AVIV

Many Israelis take a tolerant attitude towards homosexuality, even if gay marriage is seen as out of the question on religious grounds.
Tel Aviv has always had a reputation for its vibrant nightlife, which has become even more flamboyant since the tourist industry discovered the gay market. A concerted effort is being made to improve the gay-friendly atmosphere of the city’s beaches and nightclubs.

9. BARCELONA

The Catalan capital’s tolerant attitude to gays and lesbians dates back to the Franco dictatorship. Homosexuality was officially outlawed then, but the gay community found acceptance in Barcelona.
Nowadays same sex couples can even get married in Spain. Barcelona’s gay district is L'Eixample, dubbed GayEixample by the locals.

10. CAPE TOWN

The South African city is one of the most gay-friendly in the southern hemisphere. Waterkant Village is Cape Town’s “gay village”. The beach at Clifton 3 (the 3rd beach at Clifton) is another popular place to be. The highlight of the year is December’s Mother City Queer Project: an enormous, dazzling gay costume ball.

Day Opening - December 21

Venice exactly one year ago...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Marketing the Netherlands

In the list of countries with the most attractive image, the Netherlands is in 12th place. This is quite a feat for such a small country.

But how should we promote the Holland brand? Hundreds of people from the marketing agencies, the civil service and business, who represent the Netherlands abroad have come together this week to discuss this issue.
US historian and author Russell Shorto, guest speaker at the annual conference on the image of the Netherlands, thinks the Dutch reputation for “tolerance” is misleading. There are plenty of people in the Netherlands, especially in the more conservative areas, who couldn’t be characterised as particularly tolerant.
Mr Shorto, who has two children, would like to suggest another 'unique selling point' for the Netherlands. He was flabbergasted when he first received child allowance. One of the many perks the Dutch are entitled to.
Government funding to bring up your children is unthinkable in America. Fair’s fair, the Dutch pay quite a lot of tax for it. According to Mr Shorto, having a financial safety net eases a lot of social tension. The Dutch don’t have to worry too much about getting sacked or sickness insurance. And that makes them relatively relaxed.
The figures are clear. The Netherlands has a large number of multinationals and is one of the world’s biggest investors. Far bigger that its tiny number of inhabitants warrants. For instance, worldwide the Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural products.
In spite of all this, the Netherlands still has difficulty selling itself. Mark Zellenrath of engineering company Arcadis which helped out in the United States after hurricane Katrina saw what happened there.
“Everyone is glad that we helped. Americans watched how we went to work and took over. The Chinese are good at that too. People have no idea that the Dutch have a lot more technical solutions up their sleeves. A complete lack of marketing on our part.”

Solving impossible problems

The Netherlands is notorious for sending rival trade missions to foreign countries. First Japan gets a visit from a delegation from Rotterdam, and a day later it’s Amsterdam’s turn. The two delegations have no idea that they are fishing in the same pond. Totally confused, the Japanese go for the Spanish option.
Economic diplomacy can open doors, says Henk Jan Bakker, a foreign ministry civil servant.
“Even at the highest level, companies are helped. You would think top companies like Shell could look after its own affairs. Well, not always.”
In 2007, the company was confronted by lots of unexpected financial claims from environmental organisations, when it tried to invest in a large oil and gas project in Siberia.
The Dutch are also very good at solving seemingly impossible problems. Not just in the field of water management, but also in the area of logistics, agriculture and technology.

Refreshing

The delegates to the conference have agreed to be less modest in the future. They promise to be more concrete and give more examples of Dutch achievements and to embrace the new media. Next year, ‘Brand Holland’ will also be promoted via Twitter and Facebook.
So what makes Dutch trouble shooters so unique?
“Thanks to their openness, the most junior employee is allowed to challenge the boss. That can be very refreshing. But in a hierarchic culture, like in Germany, Sweden and America, that is unheard of.”

Sharia in Sudan, pure sadism



Punitive public floggings are the order of the day in Sudan. Tens of thousands of women are estimated to be subjected to this form of corporal punishment and public humiliation. It is unusual, however, for such scenes to be seen the world over via YouTube. It is unclear what the woman was accused of, nor is her identity known.

YouTube has withdrawn the images from its site, arguing that the content violated the company's conditions of service. The footage can still be seen as you can see above. (Warning: these are shocking images.)

The women involved are often accused of having committed adultery, of being improperly dressed in public, or of having behaved 'indecently' in other ways. Sudanese law, which is based on islamic Sharia rules, does not specify when clothing is considered indecent. This lack of definition allows policemen free reign to determine who is looking indecent. Women who were punished for such offences are usually too ashamed to speak about it.
The PM of Turkey Erdogan must be happy to see how his friend the President of Sudan rules his country...

Arash's World: Putting your Best Face Forward in Everyday Life

Arash's World: Putting your Best Face Forward in Everyday Life

Day Opening - December 20

Takestan grapes, Iran

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mobile phones; cell phones; GSM's etc.

The first form of the cell phone was two tin cans with string tied in between then. This didn't prove to be an effective method because they didn't have good reception around corners. Manufacturers soon attempted to improve the device by removing the string, but then people complained about dropped calls and a "hollow metallic ringing in the background".
Many people believe that cell phones are made out of cellophane. This is incorrect; cell phones are made out of cell phones, actually. That's called recycling, guys.
In the UK they are known as "Mobile Phounes," as British Law requires all telephones to contain an internal combustion engine and to be able to act as lifeboats if the need arises.
The history of this tool remains still vague, shrouded in conspiracy, lies, and pedal steel guitars. The beginnings of widespread cell phone use have not been clearly tracked, and investigators have been met with violent opposition.
To this day, human cities are filled with modern monkeys barking, whispering, blabbering, and yelling into these strange, small, usually rectangular shaped fruits. A variety of "ringtones", sounding unexpectedly in public, have provoked a recorded 7 large-scale riots, 26 strokes, 2 tsunamis, and 14 spontaneous births by pregnant women between the years 1642 and 1999. Perhaps most alarming are the "hands-free" phones, which, when used in public, make their users appear as if they are completely insane, talking excitedly to themselves while obviously alone. Also if you use a cell phone your head might a splode, sending chunks of brain and crap flying in every direction (known as 3G messaging). A unown reason for the origin of the cell phone is that the cell phone was originally created to let mafia members chat while on stakeout for the capture of the mafia's n.1 enemy, the mafia's boss's nieghbor's cat.

It is a proven fact that cellular phones emit massive amounts of radiation, which has been shown to cure cancer, AIDS, DDS in puppies, body odor and Tourette's Syndrome (compulsively shouting things like: "I'm here! Where are you?" or "What did your cousin want for Christmas?" in public places.)
Extended exposure to cell phone radiation can also affect the user's brain. Symptoms may include brain psoriasis, and liquification of the frontal lobe (similar to the effect from watching televisions). As well as the obvious effect of the cure of cancer/Tourette's, the radiation has also shown to be the leading cure of stupid. Common signs of stupid include, but are not limited to:
-Subjecting everyone on a crowded train to your Black Eyed Peas ringtone.
-Spending large amounts of money each month for 89kb jpg files which you could easily download for free.
-Upgrading your phone every two months.
-Using phone as a hockey puck.
-Liking the "Black Eyed Peas" in the first place.
-Smelling one's own farts.
-Using your cellphone for hunting with various game call ringtones or just throwing it at the critter
-Leaving your phone in your pants in the washer
-Slamming your phone against the ground like a football touchdown
-Complaining about the cracked screen of said phone
-Farting into your phone under the thinking that doing so will add to the iFart database
-Pretending your phone is a frighteningly large ejaculation probe
to be continued.
source: a friends (many friends)

Day Opening - December 18

Girl, Moscow

Friday, December 17, 2010

Welcome Back To Me

After a long long time, I have decided to say Hello! again to Internation readers. I am busy lately being pregnant. My due date is 25th of March. I still have time to write some things I guess.

I have a bad habit. I start a job with enthusiasm and I could not continue it like I started. It is a discipline problem and I need some advice from you too. The nice thing is I do not put aside and give it up. I return back again and again which is for some people is total torture. So, please accept this short note as a welcome back to me and I will write you again about the economic crises in Greece and how people affected by.

Have a great weekend...

Why are the Dutch so happy?

On a lighter note, the Dutch are the “happiest people in the world”,
Scoring consistently high in international feel-good surveys. Their secret apparently lies in their ubiquitous use of bikes. According to research, cycling makes you feel independent and free, and is also nice and cheap. Cyclists experience less stress than, for example, motorists or people using public transport. And we don’t even mention the other health gains made by using the bike. However, the true key to Dutch happiness is maybe something else. People in the Netherlands, are on average the richest people in the European Union. Well, not as rich as people in Luxembourg, but it’s too small a country to count!

Day Opening - December 17

Dunnottar castle, Scotland

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mehendi!!



My hands decorated for a friend's wedding..

You might also like this poem, written when a cousin got married two years back : Mehendi

Day Opening - December 15

port of Chamia, Crete, Greece

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Priceless incident

A visitor who fell ill in the Dutch Rotterdam's Boijmans van Beuningen museum has destroyed part of a ceramic art work. The woman fell over on top of an art piece entitled Coloured Vases, created by artist Hella Jongerius. Twenty of the 300 hand-painted vases broke into pieces and 20 others are badly damaged. The damage is estimated to be 100 million euros. The piece which took a year to make will be replaced. Luckily the artist took the news well; she even laughed "It is a priceless accident."

The pope on condoms

........

Day Opening - December 14

a crazy cat?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christians in Turkey

Muslims flee their countries of origins, mainly to avoid prosecution; the Muslim Brotherhood is strict forbidden in Syria and other Muslim countries in the Middle East. Christians flee the area as well; being a Christian in a Muslim country is allowed but not general accepted. Turkey, which has the most liberal and safe laws for their religious minorities, can be proud about themselves as a Turkish human right lawyer activist an dear friend wrote down:

The Dirili Protestant Church was attacked in January 2005; a hand grenade was found on the roof of the Greek Patriarchate in February 2005. The Antalya Aziz Pavlus Church was set on fire in April 2005. Christian workers of a clothing store were attacked in August 2005. A land mine exploded on a road after a vehicle carrying a Syriac bishop passed by in August 2005. The leader of the Adana Protestant Church, Kamil Kıroğlu, was brutally beaten in January 2006. Father Andrea Santora was killed in Trabzon in February 2006. Members of the Mersin Catholic Church were threatened with knives in March 2006. The Syriac Church in Diyarbakır was raided and members were threatened in April 2006. The Orthodox community in Bergama was protested and not allowed to perform their service in May 2006. The Protestant church in Ödemiş was attacked with Molotov cocktails in November 2006. Priest Francois Rene Brunissen was stabbed in January 2006. Three Christian missioners were slain in April 2007. Priest Adriano Franchini was stabbed in İzmir in December 2007.
This list does not include death threats that churches and their leaders constantly receive. 

Yes, and this is not including the Jewish community, which saw a declining of almost 30% in their Istanbul community in 2009. But take a look at this, then you know how Christians are threated in Turkey:

Weimar Istanbul

A very interesting article by Claire Berlinski from and about Istanbul. Enjoy!

Weimar Istanbul

Dread and exhilaration in a city on the verge of political catastrophe

The City grew rapidly, dwarfing in size and population any other in the country. The streets stimulated like cocaine; horns honked, crowds surged, nerves jangled. To step outside was to be electrified by the harlequinade of roaring colors, bright lights, rushing traffic. Sybaritic nightclubs thrummed until dawn and well thereafter; strange and perverse sights were to be found on every boulevard, in every alley, at every hour, the aesthetic of contradiction between civilization and barbarity heightened by the ersatz baroque of the old architecture and the shocking ugliness of the new. Transvestites prowled, thieves pickpocketed, and in the fashionable cafés, intellectuals smoked furiously and complained of their anomie.

The Old World had vanished, and with it its agrarian economy, its reassuring class distinctions and social order. An alien and fragile political order had been imposed in its place. Experimental music, art, and cinema flourished; fascinations arose with utopianism, fortune-telling, mysticism, communism.

But there was at once a paranoid mood, a sense of impending doom. Markers of the City’s great imperial past evoked its former glory while proving its decline. The art of the epoch was fueled by the fear of imminent crisis and breakdown. Decadent American culture was hungrily emulated, passionately deplored. Painters produced works genuinely shocking to the eye; writers wrote novels so offensive to bourgeois sensibilities as to provoke threats of murder. A misogynistic terror of women dominated cultural and political debate: Had modernity destroyed their virtue?
Continue reading herrreeee.

Day Opening - December 13

Sunset in the city of Bleik Norway

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Arash's World: Feeding your Feelings with Negative or Positive Thoughts and Thinking

Arash's World: Feeding your Feelings with Negative or Positive Thoughts and Thinking

Internations logo up for grabs

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Some music, anyone?

Day Opening - December 12

does this hurts?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Talent show judges "judged": Barry and Stewart



!!!

Some poems and poets I like

Lies about love

We are a liars, because
the truth of yesterday becomes a lie tomorrow,
whereas letters are fixed,
and we live by the letter of truth.
The love I feel for my friend, this year,
is different from the love I felt last year.
If it were not so, it would be a lie.
Yet we reiterate love! love! love!
as if it were a coin with a fixed value
instead of a flower that dies, and opens a different bud.


- D H Lawrence

Ab ke bichhde

Ab ke bicchde to shayad khwabon mein mile
Jaise sookhe hue phool kitabon mein mile...


If we part again, perhaps we will meet in dreams
Like one unexpectedly finds dried flowers in books...

Ahmed Faraz
(Translated GG)

To You

STRANGER! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?


by Walt Whitman (link 1) in Leaves of Grass (link 2)

Memories of a big fat Indian wedding

Indians go crazy in the month of December. Because December is the the most popular month for weddings for logistics reasons. The nip in the air (in some states much more than that) gives women the vague satisfaction that their makeup won't run down in sweat. Aunties and 20-somethings alike let their hair down and dress up. And how! I have attended and have to attend quite a few weddings of some dear friends and it has been great till now.

My friend was dressed in a gorgeous red saree, the colour that symbolises womanhood and marriage. Dazzling with choice jewellery and wearing the demure, nervous charm of a bride-to-be, she looked all set to step into the responsible duty of holy matrimony.

We Indians are a heady mix of regional diversity and each group has its own fascinating wedding ceremony. In Maharashtrian Hindu cermony, the Mangalashtaks - eight holy hymns to bless for a happy married life - are chanted by a priest when a cloth is held as a partition between the bride and the groom. Once the chants are sung, and a final warning given (Shuba Mangala Saavdhaan) the partition is removed and the wedding garlands exchanged.

There's dancing, crazy dancing, and lots of yummy food. Get yourself invited to a big fat Indian wedding. You won't regret it.

Day Opening - December 11

Diago Temple, Kyoto, autumn

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jerusalem


JERUSALEM OF GOLD

by Naomi Shemer


The mountain air is clear as water

The scent of pines around

Is carried on the breeze of twilight,

And tinkling bells resound.


The trees and stones there softly slumber,

A dream enfolds them all.

So solitary lies the city,

And at its heart -- a wall.


Oh, Jerusalem of gold, and of light and of

bronze,

I am the lute for all your songs.


Hippies (3)

FREE LOVE

Like, hippies reproduced constantly, any place, any time, any one, man. For ugly people, it was an amazing time. The courting process was very simple; one only had to say, "come on baby, light my fire" and you were goin'. However, for that extra advantage, hippies often refrained from showering for years at a time, which created a distinct body odor that tended to attract female hippies intent on producing mini hippie babies. Some lady hippies have said (those capable of coherent speech, of course) that the smell somewhat resembles the smell of the inside of a sweaty Volkswagen van, and is therefore impossible to resist. Like, other hippies say that the intoxicating mix of human stench, pot smoke, and a ritualistically applied patchouli oil creates a natural hippie pheromone that's like cosmic moonbeams and sunshine rainbows... you know what I mean, dude, man...? The complete and total free love, man, had several setbacks that ultimately caused the total downfall of hippies in the '80s, AIDS and you. Both diseases slowly but surely killed off thousands of hippies in the '80s, and remains a major cause as to why you are so messed up. Just look at the couple above and their disastrous influence on the world of today...peace, man!

Day Opening - December 10

Sunset lavender, Somerset, the UK

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sex and healthcare....

A light smack on the bottom or some suggestive comments while washing – that happens from time to time. But what happens when it extends to sexual gratification? Nurses in the Netherlands prefer not to talk about it. But some do what’s asked of them by the patient.
“’If you don’t do it, you’re not suited to this job,’ he said. I asked which days he didn’t need it. But he wanted it seven days a week. Right, I just couldn’t work there.”

Helping hand

The 24-year-old nurse, Michelle Bergmans, was hired through a recruitment agency by a man with a muscular disease. He paid the women who came to care for him daily from a specially-allocated home healthcare budget. Michelle was to be one of his carers.
The other nurses demonstrated how they gave the man a “helping hand” during his shower. “Then I was supposed to do it myself the next day”: Michelle was stunned and shocked. She asked the man why he simply didn’t pay a prostitute to relieve him. “That was too expensive for him. What’s more, he’d have to wear a condom, he said.”
Michelle Bergmans refused to work for the man. “Everyone’s free to make his own choice, but I don’t consider it professional.”
She mailed her trade union, NU ’91, which published details on their website. An open discussion with other nurses and with her mentor ensued. She also went to report it at the police, but all they did was to issue the man a warning. In parliament, MPs questioned the health minister.
“We noticed that there was considerable interest in this subject,” explains union chairperson Monique Kempff. “In one case, a nurse on night duty had to insert a catheter into a patient who was unable to urinate himself. The man was watching a porn movie and asked the nurse if she would sexually gratify him,” Ms Kempff read from the reactions on the website. “It doesn’t just happen in hospitals, but also while administering home care to the elderly and the disabled, as well as in psychiatric institutions. And it isn’t just men who ask for it, women do too,” Ms Kempff explains, summarising the reactions.
“The reactions on the site weren’t just about sex, more concerned with establishing boundaries, actually. People want to talk about professional distance. Where do you draw the line in health care?” The union wants a clearer definition of the professional code drawn up. “We even got a lot of support from abroad because we brought this subject into the open,” says Ms Kempff. “Sexual activities are perhaps a desirable part of home care, but they’re not a fundamental part of the package. We’re saying that we’re drawing a line here.”
Ad Poppelaars, a representative for a council for the chronically ill and handicapped, throws the cat in among the canaries.
“Chronically ill patients and the disabled are also people. People with sexual needs. They can’t just go to a café or a club to find a partner. Often the only person they have physical contact with is the nurse. Of course, nurses didn’t join their profession to sexually gratify the sick and the handicapped, that’s not their job. At the same time, we know it happens sometimes. So, don’t point the finger at the nurses who do it, or encourage a prescriptive approach the way the union does,” he pleads.

Sex carers

How then? The union’s chairperson says that, as a nurse, you should try to create a safe environment where the patient feels he can talk about the subject. “Then you can say to the patient: I recognise your need, let me arrange something for you, but I won’t do it myself,” Ms Kempff suggests.
Flekszorg is an organisation set up to provide sexual services for those in care. Dozens of sex carers visit the clients – “heroes” in the eyes of Ad Poppelaars. “But unfortunately, most of the chronically ill and disabled can’t afford their services.” A real solution for the problem doesn’t exist, he claims.
The clear guidelines sought by the union are not yet in sight – the subject is bound to continue to stir up a heated response in the healthcare sector for the foreseeable future.

Obama in Indonesia

Day Opening - December 9

where is my dinner?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

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WikiLeaks: Britain blackmailed and faced threats from Libya

Britain faced threats from Libya of dire consequences if the ailing Lockerbie bomber died in a Scottish prison, confidential US cables released by WikiLeaks today showed.

Threats included the cessation of all British commercial activity in Libya and demonstrations against British facilities, as well as suggestions Britons in the country could be put at risk, according to the cables.
And despite London's attempts to publicly distance itself from the decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi -- which was made by the devolved Scottish government -- the cables show enormous British relief at the move.
Libyan officials warned their British counterparts that "consequences for the U.K.-Libya bilateral relationship would be dire were al-Megrahi to die in Scottish prison," read one dispatch from the US ambassador to Tripoli in January 2009.
And if Washington publicly opposed the release, "the U.S. Embassy and private Americans in Libya could face similar consequences," read the cable from the ambassador, Gene A. Cretz.
Megrahi was the only person ever convicted over the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, most of them US nationals.
He was released in August, 2009, on compassionate grounds after doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer and gave him just three months to live, sparking outrage in the United States.
More than a year later he remains alive in Tripoli, however, renewing anger in the US.
One cable showed Britain's then justice minister, Jack Straw, told US diplomats that although Megrahi might have up to five years to live, the Scottish government appeared inclined to release him.
"Megrahi could have as long as five years to live," said the correspondence, cited in Britain's Guardian newspaper.
It went on: "The average life expectancy of someone of his age with his condition is 18 months to two years. Doctors are not sure where he is on the time scale."
The British government "believes that the Scottish may be inclined to grant the request, when it comes, based on conversations between [Scottish leader] Alex Salmond and UK justice secretary Jack Straw," said the cable.
The dispatches -- from a trove of some 250,000 US cables given to whistleblower website WikiLeaks and now slowly being released -- also showed the British ambassador in Tripoli "expressed relief" about Megrahi's imminent release.
"They could have cut us off at the knees, just like the Swiss," the ambassador Vincent Fean is cited as saying, in reference to a dispute between Libya and Switzerland prompted by the arrest of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son.
Alex Salmond claimed Scotland was offered a "parade of treats" by Libya, which were all turned down, according to the cables.
The correspondence also showed that Scotland was unprepared for the fierce reaction from the United States, with Salmond declaring himself "shocked".
"The Scottish Government severely underestimated the both [US government] and UK public reaction to its decision to grant compassionate release," said one cable from Louis Susman, US ambassador to Britain, several days after Megrahi was freed.

Statement #49

''Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don't know how far we can go.''
Bernard Malamud

Day Opening - December 8

Burj Al Arab, Dubay by Night

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vitro fertilisation not for women?

This is an hot issue; everyone in the Netherlands is entitled to in vitro fertilisation. However, in practice, IVF legislation is complicated and discriminates against lesbian couples. The Dutch gay rights organisation COC and the Equal Treatment Commission want the law changed.
Last month, Leiden University's Medical Centre refused to give IVF treatment to a lesbian couple. One of the women told a local radio station: “When we responded that this was pure discrimination, the doctor answered ‘Yes, that’s right, but it is hospital policy. We cannot do anything for you’.''
28-year-old Senaida and her girlfriend 23-year-old Alida were told that they cannot have IVF treatment because they are lesbians. If one of them had gone to the hospital with a sperm donor and pretended to be heterosexual, there would have been no problem, the doctor told them.

Sperm bank

The "Safety and Quality of Bodily Material Law", which came into effect in 2003, differentiates between sperm from a spouse or partner and sperm from a ‘known donor’. In heterosexual couples, the man does not need to have his sperm tested for diseases. But lesbian couples who have to use a sperm donor must have the sperm tested at a sperm bank. This also applies to single women and heterosexual couples when the man is infertile.
The hospital in Leiden does not have a sperm bank, so the women were turned away. The hospital could seek cooperation with a sperm bank, but has not done so. Other hospitals do generally use sperm banks or have their own testing facilities.
Senaida and Alida turned to the Equal Treatment Commission and submitted a complaint. Barbara Bos, legal advisor for the commission, has declined to comment on this case. However, she did comment on a complaint submitted by a lesbian couple in 2009; in that case the commission ruled that the hospital could hardly be criticised for adhering to IVF legislation. It is just that the law is unfavourable to lesbian couples.
“In the earlier case, we established that the legislation makes it more difficult for lesbian couples to get IVF treatment. We think that when the legislation was drawn up, no-one realised what the practical consequences would be.”
Philip Tijsma of COC thinks the women were right to turn to the Equal Treatment Commission. “After all, the doctors told them explicitly that they would not treat them ‘because they are lesbian’.” Mr Tijsma thinks the hospital should put more effort into seeking the services of a sperm bank.

But it is the law itself which discriminates: “It makes it more difficult for lesbian couples to have IVF treatment, because donor sperm has to be tested. This should be changed: get rid of the test.”
Mr Tijsma thinks there is no need to differentiate: “Test tube fertilisation comes at the end of a long process. There is always a relationship of trust with the donor, which means a test is not necessary. If there is something wrong with the sperm, this will come to light anyway.” After all, men in a heterosexual couples can have affairs and become infected with a sexually transmitted disease. So the principle that their sperm does not need to be tested is wrong.”
The Equal Treatment Commission and COC want Health Minister Edith Schippers to change the law so that it does not discriminate. Questions have been asked in parliament, but so far the minister has not responded.
Meanwhile Senaida and Alida are considering getting IVF treatment at a different hospital. But that will not be easy as the waiting lists are long. And since men have not been allowed to donate sperm anonymously, there are fewer donors.
And to be honest, I don't know if its healthy to have two mothers and an unknown father. I really don't know.

Arash's World: Space-Continuum, Time Travel and the Illusion of Free Will

Arash's World: Space-Continuum, Time Travel and the Illusion of Free Will

Day Opening - December 7

the beauty of the moment

Monday, December 6, 2010

No place for Dutch Orthodox Jews in the Netherlands...

Prominent VVD politician Frits Bolkestein believes there is no future for 'active' Jews in the Netherlands. The conservative politician made his remarks in an interview with a Dutch newspaper (others took it over).

In the interview, Mr Bolkestein says that when he talks about active Jews he means those who are recognisable as such, for instance Orthodox Jews. The former EU Commissioner says there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of "the anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan and Turkish descent, whose numbers keep growing''. Even teaching the Holocaust at elementary schools became problematic
He feels that this group of Jews should encourage their children to emigrate to either the United States or Israel, because he has little confidence in the effectiveness of the government's proposals for fighting anti-Semitism.
Earlier, Mr Bolkestein made similar statements in Het Verval (The Decline) by Manfred Gerstenberg, a recently published book about Jews in the Netherlands. Frits Bolkestein was political leader of the current coalition party VVD between 1990 en 1998. He later served as European Commissioner from 1999 until 2004.

Day Opening - December 6

Namibia