Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nerd humor

"Erdoganis" and "Talibanis": targeting fun in the Gazastrip

For the few with money in the Gaza Strip, a new water park provided relief from monotony and widespread misery. Hamas, though, has now burned it down -- and sent a message that even the elite must conform to the Islamists' restrictive rules.
All is quiet on this autumn morning at the Crazy Water Park, a couple of kilometers south of Gaza City. There are no children splashing around in the shallow kiddie pools, no men cheering as they shoot off the slides into the deep end of the pool. Wives and mothers are also missing from their usual spots under the umbrellas, where they normally sit, fully dressed, chatting and watching their children and husbands play in the water.
The Gaza Strip's only water park opened last spring but -- thanks to around 30 members of Hamas -- it was shut down in late September. One night at 3 a.m., these men appeared out of nowhere, tied up the park's 10 security guards and got to work with gas canisters and lighters.
continue reading herrrreeeeeee

Day Opening - November 13

Tourists on Glacier Vatnajökull c.1910 - Iceland

Friday, November 12, 2010

How stressed are the Dutch? A lot...)

Will more women working more hours make society more stressed? That was 'the question' in the Dutch parliament yesterday 'how to get more women to work more hours'. Social Affairs and Employment Minister Henk Kamp thinks it is a “cultural problem that most Dutch women are satisfied to work just part-time”. With an aging population, the government wants more women to work full time. Not surprisingly, the smaller Christian parties want more financial advantages for stay-at-home mums, while the liberal parties want financial incentives to get women into the workplace. The left-wing opposition want to avoid a stressful society and want more flexibility in the workplace.
The Netherlands Institute for Social Research says “the Dutch are under too much pressure”. A report by the institute reveals that over half the population between the ages of 25 and 60 regularly feel they are too busy. Women feel more pressure (60 percent) than men (52 percent).
It is no wonder they are so stressed: the Dutch spend more time travelling to and from work than anyone else in Europe. A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development puts the figure at an average 50 minutes (in Istanbul it can go up to 2 x 2 hrs.)
Logically, it is parents with children under 13 (“rush-hour families”) who feel most of the stress. So what is the answer? Only seven percent of parents say they would work more if crèches were open longer. Forty percent say flexible hours would make a difference to their work-life balance. Others suggest starting work an hour later, working from home one day a week, and longer opening hours for shops and municipal services. But is there a danger that society will just become more stressed by a 24-hour economy?

Day Opening - November 12

Batmen!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Post-festive gloom...

For now, there's a lull. A little more than a month to wait for another burst of festive spirit. December comes and brings with it the anticipation of parties, and almost always an introspective streak that makes us re-think, re-hope, re-gret... (little manipulation with hypens works wonders.. hehehe)..

But it's still November... And I am feeling a tad down as the Diwali lamps have died down, the rangoli has been wiped out, the garlands lining our doors have withered away... Everything reminds me of the fun we had and makes me want more of such wholesome times of togetherness. The family is close-knit even when dispersed the country over and it's amazing how support stealthily comes to you from all quarters when you need it.

***

I just noticed 2010 has been a quiet year for myblog. Here's sharing some posts I like before I can come up with "a proper post". (and what exactly is that, i wonder almost immediately after typing..
1) Can widowed women wear gajra?
2) Why has English become a necessity?
As I said in my first post here, it would be good to hear your views on the posts...

The hand of Michelle Obama

Day Opening - November 11

Geyser, Nevada, USA

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Good news from the EU on energy!

The European Union's energy chief today unveiled an ambitious 10-year trillion-euro energy investment plan for a single EU energy network to cut fossil fuel imports and fight climate change. "There is no single energy market," Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told a news conference. "We need to render energy European."
His proposals, geared to face up to what he called "one of Europe's greatest tests", will be eyed by European Union leaders at the bloc's first ever energy summit February 4, 2011.
While energy had over-ridden labour in terms of costs and fossil fuel imports were on the rise, Europe's energy sector was not competitive, with massive investments needed in new technologies and infrastructures.
"Europe cannot lose," he said, calling for one trillion euros (1.38 trillion dollars) of investment to improve efficiency and reduce pollution.
Regarding efforts to combat climate change, the commissioner said the bloc could realistically achieve its 2020 goals of slicing carbon emissions by 20 percent and increasing the use of renewable energies such as wind and solar power by 20 percent.
But without greater investments and a single will the EU would be unable to meet its commitment to increase energy efficiency, also by 20 percent, by 2020, he said.
The global economic crisis had hammered investment in new technologies while there were no constraints placed on national plans to improve energy efficiency.
Oettinger therefore called for public sector spending on energy to be verifiable -- the public sector accounts for 16 percent of purchases across the EU -- and for integration of national grids of gas, electricity and solar systems as far south as the Maghreb and Turkey, or wind energy in the north.

Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament welcomed the new EU energy strategy but said it had failed to set binding targets on states for energy savings.
Oettinger said the building of a single energy sector would also strengthen Europe's voice on the international scene.
The union's internal energy market was the world's biggest, he said, "bigger than China, bigger than the US".

Oettinger said oil would continue to be needed in industry as well as in air and heavy road transport over the coming decades but that urban transport and private vehicles must shift to hybrids, hydrogen and electricity.
Investment incentives and financial instruments would be proposed by the middle of next year to help home-owners and the public sector pay for renovations and energy saving measures, the commission said.
The commission proposed major projects to strengthen Europe's leadership in energy technology and innovation through new technologies, electricity storage, research on second-generation biofuels, and energy savings in urban areas.

Day Opening - November 10

nice view

Arash's World: Flaws and Dangers In The Democratic System

Arash's World: Flaws and Dangers In The Democratic System

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

EU's lift the visa requirement for Bosnians and Albanians

The EU's decision to lift the visa requirement for Bosnians and Albanians travelling to Europe is good news for them but the EU and Turkey still cannot even reach an agreement for Turkish business people travelling to Europe. The Albanian prime minister heralds,of course, the news as "the best greeting card Albanians could receive for the festive season". One very relieved Albanian woman reveals how difficult it used to be to obtain a visa for Belgium. A diplomatic row meant that she was unable to apply for a Belgian visa directly in Albania. Instead she had to travel to the Belgian embassy in Bulgaria, "which meant spending a week in Sofia, paying for a hotel and an interpreter to help you with your application".
But it has to be said that "the Netherlands was against, but voted in favour" of the measure. The Netherlands' new Immigration Minister Gerd Leers tells that there was no point in sticking to his guns as "it would have left the Netherlands isolated; this way we've achieved the best result possible". However, the result of this decision is "an emergency brake", which means that the visa requirement can be reinstated if "it turns out that the EU is swamped with Albanians and Bosnians who come here looking to stay".
The Dutch minister's position sounds plausible enough but,  it's cutting no ice with Geert Wilders, leader of the populist Freedom Party on whose support the government relies. He attacks the minister's performance as "extremely weak" and insists, "of course he should have voted against. This is a bad result: the borders are now open and that's no good for anyone in the Netherlands". He continues "We will judge Gerd Leers on his results. Let's hope they improve and that he shows more backbone."
The saga continues

Day Opening - November 9

Calton Hill - Edinburgh, Scotland

Monday, November 8, 2010

Arash's World: Flaws and Dangers In The Democratic System

Arash's World: Flaws and Dangers In The Democratic System

The Dutch boss -more and more people understand Dutch around the globe

People all over the world are speaking Dutch without knowing it. A new Dutch dictionary of loan words in other languages has just been published. Heading the list of export successes is the word baas. It turns up in no fewer than 57 languages, in forms ranging from ‘boss’ in English to ‘bosi’ in a Chinese dialect. In past centuries the Dutch set up plantations around the world, the author points out, all of them with Dutch bosses.

The word ‘gas’ also turns out to be a Dutch invention – or Flemish, to be precise. The term was apparently coined by Jan Baptist van Helmont around 1600.
Some Dutch words have even been packed off abroad and then re-imported in another form. Bolwerk (bulwark) and manneke (little man) were taken up by the French, and then ended up back in the Netherlands years later as boulevard and mannequin.
Not surprisingly, the former Dutch colony of Indonesia has absorbed the most Dutch words – 5568 in total. They range from gotperdom (from Godverdomme, God damn) to hip-hip-hura!
And what about the word 'asvalt'...pretty famous in Turkey...

Day Opening - November 8

Red October

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Answers from Stephen Hawkin (1)

From TIME:

Does the universe end? If so, what is beyond it?

Observations indicate that the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. It will expand forever, getting emptier and darker. Although the universe doesn't have an end, it had a beginning in the Big Bang. One might ask what is before that, but the answer is that there is nowhere before the Big Bang, just as there is no south of the South Pole.

Chinese artist brands the communist regime as 'inhuman'

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei branded the nation's government "inhuman" on Sunday and said the Internet would bring it to an end, as he remained under house arrest in Beijing.
Ai, who is one of China's most famous artists and social critics and currently has an exhibition at London's Tate Modern, was put under house arrest at the end of last week to stop him attending a gathering at his new Shanghai studio, which is due to be demolished.
"This society is not efficient, it's inhuman in many ways politically," Ai, 53, told AFP.
"The government, the whole system... sacrifices education, environmental resources and most people's interests just to make a few people become extremely rich only because they are associated with the government.
"This cannot last too long.... This society basically has no creativity. It's just cheap labour and very police-controlled. How long can that last?" he said over the phone.
According to an official order, Ai's house arrest is due to last until midnight on Sunday. While he is not allowed to leave home, others, including reporters, have been able to visit him.
Ai, who has managed to regularly update his Twitter account, said the Internet was a powerful force for change in China.
"The Internet is the best gift to China -- this kind of technology will end this kind of dictatorship."
Before his house arrest, the artist had planned a feast for supporters at the Shanghai studio on Sunday as an ironic celebration of a decision by authorities to demolish the building, after they had persuaded him to build it. He said the order came after he became increasingly critical of Shanghai's policies, writing for example about activist Feng Zhenghu, who for months was blocked from returning home from Japan. "That must have really irritated someone at a very high level," he said.
Ai said that despite being unable to attend the party himself, over 100 people had gone to the studio anyway and more were on their way.
Ai's work is currently being showcased at the Tate Modern, where he has filled the main hall with millions of porcelain sunflower seeds.
Perhaps his best-known work is his collaboration with Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuro, on the National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, known as the "Bird's Nest", which he has since renounced as a fake "smile".
Source AFP/RWD

Day Opening - November 7

Long and windy road

Saturday, November 6, 2010

'lynch culture' in Turkey

Turkey has a long history of suppressing minorities in the name of nationalism, and a history of violence. There is also to a certain degree a ‘lynch culture’. Everybody who doesn’t fit it in is quick subject of an angry crowd. Mustafa Akyol experienced it and Orhan Kemal Cendiz wrote about it.
Hate crimes in Turkey
The Human Rights Agenda Association, of which I am a part, is currently conducting a project called “Combating Hate Crimes in Turkey.” Among other things, we plan to hold two public conferences on the subject, the first of which was already held on Oct. 16 in Ankara.
Discrimination and hate crimes have very deep roots in Turkey. They are so heavily ingrained in our political culture and social fabric that we are not aware of their very existence. In the first round of our conference series, Tanıl Bora, a well-known socialist thinker in Turkey, gave a rather thought-provoking lecture on “lynch culture” in Turkey.

First, he drew our attention to how the word “lynch” is used for events that could never be defined as a lynching in the real sense of the word. Politicians and public figures employ this word very often when they are criticized or verbally attacked; they claim that they have been “lynched” by their opponents. In quite a sharp contrast, real lynchings, which are not a rare occurrence in Turkey, are either never called a lynching or they never generate the emotional, ethical or legal response that a real lynching would normally attract in a democratic society.
Continue reading hereeeeee

Day Opening - November 6

Singing break by Verissimo Dias

Friday, November 5, 2010

Arash's World: God said to Abraham kill me a Son: Kierkegaard’s “Leap of Faith”

Arash's World: God said to Abraham kill me a Son: Kierkegaard’s “Leap of Faith”

Iran and the 'Great Satan' the USA...

Thousands of Iranians chanted "Death to America" as they staged yesterday a mass protest against the "Great Satan" to mark the 31st anniversary of the capture of the American embassy by Islamist students.


Iran annually on November 4 marks the anniversary of the capture of the US embassy by Islamist students in Tehran in 1979, months after the Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.
Yesterday, waving Iranian flags and carrying anti-US banners alongside posters of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the largely young crowd also shouted anti-Israel slogans outside the now closed US embassy. Banners saying "I will give my life for the leader (Khamenei)" and another quoting Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as saying, "If you want to shout, shout at the US", were displayed at the embassy compound, an AFP correspondent reported.
The embassy has remained shuttered and the US and Iran have had no diplomatic ties since then.
The students, who took 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days, said they were responding to Washington's refusal to hand over the deposed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Ezatollah Zaragami, the keynote speaker at the rally and one of the 1979 hostage takers, hit out at US President Barack Obama.
"Obama has acted very weakly and badly when it comes to his foreign policy," Zaragami, who now heads Iranian state media, told the cheering crowd.
"The reason for that is that he is using an array of advisers who are exhausted bureaucrats."
The organisers of the anti-US demonstration, in their final declaration, said that Iran considers "America as the Great Satan and enemy number one".
Over the past three decades, many Iranians who led the storming of the embassy have however become severe critics of the regime they helped to establish.
This year's anti-US protest, one of the cornerstones of the Islamic regime, came days before expected nuclear talks which will see US and Iranian officials sitting at the same table for discussions on Tehran's controversial atomic programme.
US-Iranian animosity rose markedly during the tenure of former US president George W. Bush, who lumped Iran as part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The bitterness between the two nations has risen further since 2005, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office. The hardliner repeatedly launches anti-US tirades.
Iran's Khamenei, the all-powerful leader of the Islamic republic, has also made it clear he still distrusts the United States despite Bush successor Obama's initial diplomatic overtures towards Tehran.
On Wednesday, Khamenei praised the embassy takeover 31 years ago and expressed his distrust of US leaders.
"This act is the symbol of courage and intrepidness of the young revolutionary generation against the grandeur of America, because the capture of the den of spies (US embassy) destabilised the power of America," he told a gathering of students on the eve of the anniversary.

Day Opening - November 5

:p

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Look who came calling?

A peahen lays eggs on our terrace or in the vicinity of our house each year. We have a lot of excitement when the eggs hatch and chicks jump down*. Thus begins the first adventure of their life: to jump across our boundary wall and into the fields. This time, we saw three chicks and this one (photo below) wandered into our garden...

"Mama, where do I go?"

To know if this chick found its way, and for more photos, read here

Dutch police officers send to Greek-Turkish border

The Netherlands is sending 14 military police officers and two police officers from the Port of Rotterdam to Greece to help prevent illegal immigrants entering the country.
The Dutch defence minister, Hans Hillen, announced yesterday that the 16 border police will leave for Greece this week. They will take part in European Union intevention teams.
The intervention teams will patrol the Greek border with Greek border police in Alexandroupolis and Orestiada on the Turkish/Greek border.
The EU-agency Frontex, which coordinates the monitoring of the outer borders of the European Union, is sending 175 experts. The 16 Dutch police officers will be replaced by other Dutch police officers on 1 December. Greece asked Frontex for help last week because Athens is unable to prevent illegal immigrants entering the country from Turkey.

Day Opening - November 3

Alentejo, Portugal

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dutch women...not so emancipated

Dutch women don't mind washing, doing the ironing or cleaning the toilet at home, market researcher TNO-Nipo discoverd. The majority of women are content to undertake most of the household tasks; 33 percent are even "very satisfied" with the division of chores at home. TNO-Nipo conducted their research among 1,300 Dutch women, aged 18-65.

But, men,... don't queue up for the Dutch woman of your dreams: women under 35 put sex as number eight in a "can't-live-without list" after their mobile phone, computer and internet. Women over 50 put sex in ninth place, which, considering their age, is quite high. Regarding the young lasses who prefer their gadgets, researcher Ingrid van der Werf explains: "It's a reaction against the hectic pace of modern life. But what surprises me is that women in general consider family life more important than work." Economist and columnist Heleen Mees: "It completely fits into the image I have of Dutch women - not emancipated." It will take some time before the Dutch follow in the footsteps of Brazil, where former guerrilla fighter Dilma Rousseff has become the country's first female president.

French secularism under threat

Muslim pupils and parents in France are increasingly making religious demands on the state school system that teachers should rebuff by explaining the country's secular principles, according to an official report.
The High Council for Integration (HCI) reported growing problems with pupils of immigrant backgrounds who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, demand halal meals and "reject French culture and its values."
"It is becoming difficult for teachers to resist religious pressures," said the report, published in draft form by the newspaper Journal du Dimanche over the weekend. The final report will be presented to the government next month.
"We should now reaffirm secularism and train teachers how to deal with specific problems linked to the respect for this principle," it said.
France's strict separation of church and state relegates religion to the private sphere, an approach challenged by a growing Islamic identity among some of the five million Muslims in the country's 65 million population.
HCI President Patrick Gaubert told the newspaper his agency decided to study how pupils from immigrant backgrounds adapted to the state school system because "this is at the heart of the challenges that French society must face."
The report, which studied a wide range of issues faced by pupils of immigrant backgrounds, gave no figures for the extent of problems linked to religion but said they came up so often in the hearings the HCI conducted that they merited attention.

REFUSING CLASSES, DEMANDING HALAL

Teachers often faced objections when they taught courses about world religions, the Holocaust or France's war in Algeria, or discussed events related to Israel and the Palestinians or American military actions in Muslim countries, the study said.
"Teachers regularly find that Muslim parents refuse to have their children learn about Christianity," it said. "Some think it amounts to evangelisation."
"Anti-Semitism ... surfaces during courses about the Holocaust, such as inappropriate jokes and refusals to watch films" about Nazi concentration camps, it said. "Tensions often come from pupils who identify themselves as Muslims."
Teachers found they could discuss the trans-atlantic slave trade but met criticism from pupils when they brought up the history of slavery within Africa or in the Middle East.
Reflecting the promotion of anti-Darwinist thinking in Muslim countries, "evolution is challenged by pupils who posit divine or creationist action without any argument for it."
In some areas with large immigrant populations, many pupils shun school cafeterias for religious reasons, even though most offer alternative dishes when pork is on the menu.
"Demand for halal menus is strong, even for the very young in public crèches," it said. "In some cities, there are petitions for halal -- and sometimes kosher -- meals."
The report stressed the state could allow alternatives to pork but could not allow halal or kosher meals because the price for ritually slaughtered meat included a tax paid to religious organisations that certify the food was properly prepared.
"The school cannot, in this sense, participate in the religious education of its pupils or conform to principles that it does not recognise," the report said.
France allows private religious schools and the number of Jewish schools has risen in recent years. There are few Muslim schools and most parents would have difficulty paying tuition.

PHILOSOPHICAL UPHEAVAL

During Ramadan, some Muslim pupils harass others who don't observe the annual daytime fast, it said. Boys who identify themselves as Muslims and reject French values harass girls who do well in class as "collaborators" with the "dirty French."
Some girls ask to be excused from gymnasium or pool sessions because they are not supposed to mix with boys, it added.
The report said French schools must insist on co-education, equal rights and mutual respect. "Being a French citizen means accepting challenges to one's opinions ... this is the price to pay for the freedom of opinion and expression.
"Must we recall that the crime of blasphemy has not existed in France since the French Revolution?" it asked.
"The principle of secularism leads to a profound relativisation of religion. This is a philosophical upheaval that religions only consent to with difficulty," it said.

Day Opening - November 2

Köln, Germany

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dutch weed and California

Dutch weed growers and coffeeshop owners have already flown out to California. They are waiting for a referendum on the legalisation of marijuana, which will be held tomorrow. They anticipate an opportunity to become rich men if the citizens of California vote in favour of legalisation.
The Netherlands has been a major source of inspiration for both the supporters and opponents of legislation. Supporters point to the success of the Dutch policy of tolerating the sale of small quantities of hashish and marijuana in so-called 'coffeeshops'. Opponents also use statistics from the Netherlands to support their view.
The man behind the referendum is 47-year-old Richard Lee. In 1991 he visited Amsterdam for the first time: "Fantastic. A wide variety of shops with coffeeshops paying tax and creating jobs. And it attracts tourists. We had to have that here too."
In 1999 he opened a Bulldog coffeeshop in Oakland, near San Francisco. With the same logo as the Amsterdam Bulldog and the same atmosphere. A sidewalk cafe, loud music and a smoking room where people with glazed expressions stare at a TV with the sound turned down. Of course you can't buy weed there yet, because of the police. However, they do tolerate you bringing your own stash along.
There is now a second coffeeshop in Oakland, the Blue Sky, which sells medical marijuana and has a similar Amsterdam feel.
In 2006 Richard Lee opened Oaksterdam University, modelled on the Cannabis College in Amsterdam. This gives courses relating to weed growing and is expanding fast. Compulsory subjects include law, the history of marijuana, and commodity studies. You can go on to train as a weed topper or coffeeshop manager. If California decides to legalise, this is where the experts will come from. The university - an unprotected title in the United States- has already awarded 12,000 diplomas.

'Oaksterdam'

The entire district in Oakland is known as Oaksterdam. Just like Amsterdam, there are bikes for hire and a cannabis gift shop. And there's an Amsterdam-style hashish museum. One of its most valued exhibits is an old price list from an Amsterdam coffeeshop, with the prices still in guilders!
Richard Lee came up with the legalisation referendum and paid for it out of his own pocket. It cost him 2.7 million dollars.
If it succeeds, the local authorities will issue licences for large-scale growing to supply the coffeeshops. The place is already swarming with Dutch coffeeshop owners and growers hoping for licences. "There's no doubt the Dutch weed industry would do very well here, since they have so much experience," says Lee. He plans to set up hundreds of Dutch-style coffeeshops.

Opponents of legislation also point to the Dutch model. Their main spokesperson is drug information officer John Redman.
"The other side are always talking about how weed does no harm and how wonderful it is in Amsterdam. So, let's look at the experiences in the Netherlands: the easier it is to get hold of weed and the more normal it's regarded to light up a joint, the greater the consumption."
He points out that marijuana addiction has caused serious problems in the Netherlands. However the figures for hashish and marijuana use in the Netherlands are actually lower than in other European countries with tougher legislation.
Redman claims the amount of hashish and weed that coffeeshops are allowed to sell has been reduced due to problems with drug abuse.
"If the referendum succeeds, as much as 28.5 grams would be permitted in California and it would be legal to have four plants. Imagine how much worse it will be than in the Netherlands, where 0.5 grams has already cause problems."
Is he sure about these figures? "Of course, the drug information service in the US has been saying this for ten years." I google the Dutch figures for him: thirty grams is allowed for personal use, coffeeshops can sell five grams at a time, and you are allowed five plants. John Redman's face turns pale. Just at that moment a van arrives to take him to the airport. He leaves hastily without further comment.

If the legalisation proposal is accepted, US President Barack Obama will be faced with a serious problem. The federal laws making cannabis illegal are still in place, as are the international treaties. Sending federal agents to California to bring weed smokers before the federal courts would cost an enormous amount of money and he risks damaging his popularity in California. If he does nothing he will alienate other parts of the United States.
So far, the opinion polls predict the referendum will be a neck-and-neck race.

Day Opening - November 1

Beauty

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A good Turk in Europe is an unintegrated one!

This an excellent article by a friend of my, Orhan Kemal Cengız. Europeans don't understand that Turkey is a country which nationalism is so dominating and demanding. At least, he shed some light on the problematic.

A good Turk in Europe is an unintegrated one!

by
ORHAN KEMAL CENGİZ

There were two incidents that helped me to gain an insight into the problem of the integration of Turks in European countries. The first one was a decade ago. I was walking in the street with my nephew; we were stopped by a Turkish guy who heard us speaking Turkish to each other.
He wanted us to help him communicate with a television repairman to fix his television’s antenna. We acted as his translator in the store and when we went out I asked him how long he had been living in London. He had been living in London more than seven years and could not speak a word of English. Apparently, he had never left the Turkish ghetto there until he could not find what he had needed, a television repairman.

My second experience with Turkish “existence” in Europe was just a couple of years ago when I visited Amsterdam for a weekend. I have a Turkish friend there and he introduced me to Turkish youngsters from different walks of life. They were all so friendly, such nice people, and they were all second or third-generation residents of Holland. We started hanging out in Amsterdam.
Normally, when I am abroad I prefer not to go to Turkish restaurants. However, I did not want to reject my young friends there when they invited me to eat at a kebap house. But after the second and third invitation to different Turkish restaurants, I wanted to invite them to a Dutch restaurant that I had chosen. When we were sitting in the restaurant, I was shocked by what I heard from one of the youngsters. He looked around, paused and said, “I have never been to a restaurant like this before.” The restaurant we went to was not the most luxurious restaurant in Amsterdam; it was just a decent Dutch restaurant and I am not an Amsterdam expert -- it was my first time there actually.
Continue reading herrreeeee

Suicide attack in Istanbul

A suicide bomber blew himself up in the centre of Istanbul on Sunday, wounding 32 people.

He blew himself up beside a police vehicle in a major İstanbul square (Takzim) near tourist hotels and a bus terminal, wounding 32 people, including 15 policemen.
The attack in Taksim Square, which was followed by police gunfire and sent hundreds of panicked people racing for cover, coincided with the possible end of a unilateral cease-fire by outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorists, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Turkey, a NATO ally that has deployed troops in a non-combat role in Afghanistan, is also home to cells of radical leftists and Islamic militants.
The attack occurred as İstanbul was preparing to hold Republic Day parades to mark the 1923 founding of Turkey. The celebrations were originally planned for Friday, but were delayed due to heavy rain. Taksim Square, a transport hub that is a major stop on the city's underground train network and close to the Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton and other major hotels, was festooned with red and white Turkish flags. It was early, normally there are tons of people there...

Day Opening - October 31


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City Hall, Maarssen, the Netherlands (my place of birth) Old architecture - Above: Cube housing, Blaak, Rotterdam


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gearing up for Diwali

Work in progess

Diwali is a five-day long festival of different auspicious dates, each with its own significance. It is one of our biggest festivals and falls on November 5 this year. For Gujaratis, the day after Diwali proper marks the New Year and we greet each other saying "Sal Mubarak".

People start a massive clean-up drive, repaint homes, dust, scrub and cook a variety of snacks in the days leading to this festival of lights. In keeping with the tradition, our gardener repainted all pots with "geru" a rust-coloured natural colour normally used on pots and to decorate homes. This photo was taken today.

Day Opening - October 30

Temple, India

Friday, October 29, 2010

Turkey's government; a rare example of a bunch of hypocrites

Turkey's government accuses Prime Minister Mark Rutte of discriminating Turks in the Netherlands for opposing cabinet ministers with a dual Dutch-Turkish nationality.
The Turkish minister Faruk Çelik (responsible for 'Turks abroad'...) criticises Prime Minister Rutte for remarks he made during the parliamentary debate on the government policy statement earlier this week. During the debate, the conservative liberal leader said he was not concerned by the Dutch-Swedish nationality of Deputy Health Minister Marlies Veldhuijzen van Santen-Hyllner but did have a problem with the Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch nationalities of two deputy ministers in the previous government.
The prime minister argued they are different cases. He claimed Turkey and Morocco "influence their citizens", which could lead to conflicting loyalties, whereas Sweden, a member of the European Union, does not. In this he's absolutely right; the former State Secretary for Justice in the Netherlands,

the Turkish-Dutch politician Nebahat Albayrak, was besides part of the Dutch government, special counselor to the Turkish president. Turkish Dutch citizens (up to the 3th generation) have to fullfil their militairy service in Turkey even if they want to join as volunteer the Dutch army, police force etc. But I remember very well that in 2007 the new Turkish minister of Economy had a British pasport. Turkey as a whole spoke of 'shame' of him and he had to deneutralize himself as a British citizen...

But of course, the whole controversy has erupted due to objections to the deputy minister's dual nationality by PVV leader Geert Wilders. Three years ago, the anti-Islam MP called for a no-confidence motion against two Labour deputies holding a Moroccan and a Turkish passport as well as a Dutch one. On that occasion, though the VVD parliamentary party did not back the no-confidence vote, Mr Rutte, then an MP, supported Mr Wilders' concerns. The current minority coalition, comprising the liberal VVD and the Christian Democrats, has a parliamentary majority thanks to a support agreement with the PVV.
Mr Çelik, who is responsible for Turks abroad (sic, this already says enough), told he did "not see how such a discriminatory remark fostered the integration of foreigners in the Netherlands". "The right to vote and be chosen", the Turkish minister emphasises, "are fundamental human rights". But not for foreigners and minorities in Turkey...the hypocrites!

Next to that Turkey has reiterated that Turkish immigrants should not be required to integrate in the Netherlands. Ankara argues it supports their integration but questions whether they should assimilate completely. Several lawsuits have been brought to court regarding this matter and both countries are engaged in a fundamental diplomatic discussion on the issue. The 16th economy of the world (the Netherlands) against the 17th (Turkey).

Day Opening - October 28

Landscape of Umbria, Italy by Krzysztof Browko

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dating covered by your health insurance company....yes!!

Dutch health insurer VGZ has announced it will pay for the first date arranged through a dating site for singles.
Research has shown that people who are in a long-term relationship are happier - and therefore healthier - than singles. The action is also aimed at promoting its new supplementary policy for singles.
A spokesman says that for seven days those interested in the supplementary health insurance can contact the dating site via the VGZ website. There is no obligation to sign up for a policy. It's not clear for me what will be covered...the date including diner, a bottle of wine, a bottle of cognac?.)!

Dual citizen ship in the Netherlands

The two governing political parties in the Netherlands new coalition government have shrugged off objections raised by Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders to the dual nationality of Deputy Health Minister Marlies Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

The anti-Islamic Freedom Party has agreed to support the new government in parliament. Three years ago, Mr Wilders demanded the resignation of both a Dutch-Moroccan minister and a Dutch-Turkish deputy minister. The motion was rejected and they stayed in office.
At the time, Mr Wilders said about one of them, "Even if [Social Affairs Deputy Minister] Mr Aboutaleb had had a blond mop and a Swedish passport, I would still want him to step down." Ms Veldhuijzen van Zanten, née Hyllner, has dual Swedish and Dutch nationality.
Ms Veldhuijzen van Zanten's Christian Democrat party - one of the governing parties - sees no objections to her holding two passports. The free-market liberal VVD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte said last Monday that for it, too, this is not an issue.
The Freedom Party's point of view is that the loyalty of ministers and deputies to the Netherlands should not be undermined by dual nationality. Most opposition parties  voted with the government - against Mr Wilders' no-confidence motion.

Day Opening - October 28

Istanbul by Brian Underdown

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cyber crime and the Netherlands

A criminal computer network in the Netherlands was dismantled on Monday, and the main suspect arrested in Armenia less than a day later. A Dutch expert has hailed the operation as unique, but the Netherlands still ranks seventh on the global list of countries most plagued by cybercrime.
The dismantlement of the Bredolab network has been made much of, mainly in the Netherlands but elsewhere too. The arrested Armenian appears to have used 143 servers in the Netherlands to infect three million computers worldwide, disseminate spam and steal passwords to hack into bank accounts.
The police operation that broke up this 'botnet' is another success for the high profile National High Tech Crime Team of the Dutch national police. However, the authoritative computer magazine PC World wondered whether the Netherlands has itself broken the law by uploading software on the 143 servers in question to warn users that their computers have infected with Bredolab, a password-stealing malicious software program.

Why is the Netherlands one of the main exporters of criminal computer software? The country hosts 2.2 percent of all infected networks, called botnets, earning the Netherlands a seventh place on the global list of countries most plagued by cybercrime.
The country with its fast, multi-branched network is located on one of the main hubs of the digital highway. And some of the biggest hosting providers have their head offices here. The providers host the servers used by criminals to spread their malicious software.
Joran Polak, editor-in-chief at Security.nl says it’s the top providers who are the weakest link in the chain.
“Because of their size it is very difficult for them to check a whole network, which makes it just a little bit easier for a cyber criminal to avoid being detected compared to smaller hosting providers who know all their customers and know who they are dealing with."
Fox.IT is a company which alerts banks and hosting providers when criminals have infected their networks with malicious software. The company also assisted forensic investigators in their operation against the Bredolab network.

Marketing manager Joost Bijl says the Netherlands is in the vanguard of the fight against cybercrime, but it could do more. For instance, Dutch police lack the authority to strike back via the internet and crack down on foreign cyber criminals. Simply put: using their own weapons to take the fight to foreign criminals.
“Cybercrime Public Prosecutor Lodewijk van Swieten would love to have the authority to do just that, and
enable him to hack the hackers. However there are legal hurdles to be cleared. Taking the fight to the cybercriminals means attacking a network in another country, and to the best of my knowledge there are as yet no laws that make that possible.”

Privacy issues

Cracking down on foreign cybercriminals and their computers easily leads to conflicts with all kinds of legislation, including privacy laws. Wim de Bruyn, spokesperson for the Public Prosecutors’ Office, says this is one of the reasons the Dutch police do take action unilaterally, even though they do have the means.
“At present, this would mean breaking the law. And even though it’s technically feasible, legislation must be
enacted before we can use these methods.”
So while cybercriminals can strike across the globe with just a few mouse clicks, forensic investigators still have to travel far and wide to catch the perpetrators. It is up to the minister to amend existing legislation without sparking a row with his foreign colleagues.

Day Opening - October 27

Nightscape Aurora, Norway

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The power of the Tweet

Last weekend a famous Dutch comedian, Youp van 't Hek, launched a campaign against a large phone service provider. He was angry with the way he was treated by the Service Desk, after his son had trouble with his mobile phone, which had to be repaired. He had called hours with different department, visited the phone shop to get the problem solved, but ended up with empty hands in the end.

Out of frustration he posted a simple Twitter message to share his frustration with his 45,000 followers, and within the hours he was called by one of the chief officers of the phone company who apologized sincerely for the way Youp was treated...

This is a simple example of the power a fairly simple medium called Twitter. What's next?

Day Opening - October 26

Celebrities in trouble...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe - Gulen Movement

An interesting article:

Gülen Movement


The Gülen movement refers to a cluster of religious, educational and social organizations founded and inspired by Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamic scholar, author and speaker now in his late 60s. The movement strives to give faithful Muslims the secular education they need to thrive in the modern world. At the same time, it also emphasizes the importance of traditional religious teachings. To this end, the movement has inspired the creation of a worldwide network of schools and other centers of learning that focus on secular subjects in the classroom but also offer extracurricular programs that emphasize religious themes.

By some estimates, there are now more than 1,000 Gülen-inspired schools and centers in more than 100 countries around the world.11 In Germany, the European country with the strongest Gülen presence, there are at least a dozen of these schools and more than 150 smaller educational and cultural centers. While open to students of all backgrounds, Gülen-inspired schools in Europe typically cater to Turkish immigrants and their offspring. Many of the schools charge tuition, but it is generally low because the schools are subsidized by wealthy supporters of Fethullah Gülen.
continue reading herrrreeeeee

Essays on the Arab Israeli Conflict: A Super Short History of Israel

Essays on the Arab Israeli Conflict: A Super Short History of Israel

Day Opening - October 25

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, by Imran Hashid

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arash's World: The Difficulties of Being Nonjudgmental and Open-minded in a Judgmental and Opinionated World

Arash's World: The Difficulties of Being Nonjudgmental and Open-minded in a Judgmental and Opinionated World

The Future of Internet in Turkey

Turkish Minister of State Bülent Arınç has announced that the Internet — “that boundaryless and irresponsible area” — will be brought under control by Turkish law. Not only does the Internet expose young people to “pornography, violence and bad examples”, but it undermines the Turkish language by using bad grammar, thereby “making a laughing stock of the words and sentences we have spoken for hundreds of years.” Arınç vowed that the state would step in to end this “degeneration”. (click here, in Turkish)

Via Jenny White (Kamil Pasha)

Day Opening - October 24

OAKA, Olympic Stadium Athens, Greece (both pictures)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We are like that only...

On October 14, many Indians heaved a sigh of relief... Somehow, the assumed catastrophe of unprecedented embarrassment was avoided, somehow we turned an event that was professed to be doomed from the start into a spectacular show of creative genius (and shrewd politics...)

Commonwealth Games 2010, you will live in our memories for years to come.

I will tell my grandchildren fables of a giant called Kalmadi who was purported to have a legendary appetite for crores and crores of Indian rupees. He reportedly had cash for breakfast and cash for lunch, he reportedly munched on fake contracts and nibbled on dubious deals... So bloated with cash was he thought to be by the time the Commonwealth games kick-started, no word of ridicule as much as pricked his thick skin.

My grandchildren will frantically try to retrieve decades old archives on the internet (or some sci-fi-turned-reality technology) and will be even more confused than they were before hearing my story. "Grandma, you skipped telling us about Mrs. Dixit! And you never told us stories about Madhu Koda, BS Yediyurappa, the Reddy brothers, Laloo and this fodder scam..." Sigh...

If the kids must know about the stink of corruption, they must also know about youths from poor families in far-flung villages of India who persevered with their chosen sport in spite of minimum facilities. Who helped India snatch the 2nd position in the medal tally...

Of people like Narayanan Krishnan who left a plush career as a chef with a 5-star chain to feed the hungry and homeless in his city.
Of those thousands of unsung heroes that often escape a mention in newspapers, but whose principles and efforts are what I believe keep alive the sanity and exuberance of my country alive.

One of my persistent fears is that I may allow cynicism for the juggernaut of politics and bureaucracy to outweigh or even overshadow the celebration of an enigma that is India, of rejoicing in the remarkable achievements of my countrymen.

Will the stories I tell my grandchildren be only burlesque tales of political perverts, scams and scandals? Will I have the good sense to let the magic of India and its indomitable citizens etch happy, proud memories to share with a generation to come? I think I will...

"With all the talks of corruption and broken bridges, if we could put up this show at the nth second, what would we have achieved if... Only if..."

I end with a much-used Hindi one-liner: "Hum to aise hi hain" We are like that only... :)

Day Opening - October 23

Istanbul 2010, by Brian Underdown, Istanbulblogger

Friday, October 22, 2010

The most important Dutch custom

Director Ineke Strouken of the Dutch Centre for Folk Culture (Nederlands Centrum voor Volkskunde) says Dutch people regard the celebration of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) as the most important Dutch tradition. Ms Strouken comes to this conclusion in her book Dit zijn wij (This is who we are) which will be officially presented in Utrecht on Friday.

More than 10,000 people submitted their top ten favourite traditions to Ms Strouken. The undisputed number one is followed by decorating the Christmas tree. Queens Day came third, deep-fried doughnut balls (oliebollen) and other New Year’s customs fourth, and Easter came fifth.
Ineke Strouken says the top 100 favourite customs in her book represent a transitional period. “You can see some traditions are dying out, while others are being created. Going to church is at number 29. People apparently still believe they should attend church, but I think it will no longer be on the list in 25 years. A new tradition is the Sugar Feast at the end of the Ramadan, in 14th position."
Ms Strouken said it wouldn’t hurt if the Dutch took a little more pride in their traditions. “Other countries actively promote their traditions. Just look at how many traditional cookbooks you find in Brittany. Many Dutch people only know about windmills, tulips and wooden shoes, but we have a wealth of traditions. We have an innate fear of pride turning into nationalism, but you can feel proud without feeling superior to others.”
Sinterklaas will be present in Utrecht to accept the first copy of Ms Strouken’s book, in a clear deviation from the time-honoured tradition to arrive in the Netherlands only after Martinmas (11 November).
And I never missed Sinterklaas since I left the Netherlands a long time ago...

Day Opening - October 22

Having a headache

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Discrimination starts already in asylum centres (WTF)

Christian asylum seekers living temporarily in Dutch refugee centres are often threatened or physically abused by fellow refugees who are Muslims, according to a support group. The Christian group, the Gift Foundation (Stichting Gave) presented its findings on Dutch public TV on Tuesday.

Christian Union MP Joël Voordewind said he was "shocked" by the reported incidents, particularly given the vulnerability of Muslim converts to Christianity who left Islamic countries for religious reasons. "They fled to the Netherlands because of their beliefs and should be safe here. It's terrible that they are being oppressed," Mr Voordewind said.
Immigration Minister Gerd Leers, reacting to the TV report and to questions in the Lower House, said the findings are a serious warning signal and he will investigate whether measures need to be taken.

Next to that, a Dutch group is pushing for measures to protect homosexual asylum seekers from intimidation and violence while they are awaiting decisions on their residence requests. Amsterdam’s Secret Garden Foundation, which champions the interests of Muslim gays, says many face problems from other inmates in refugee centres. It also believes the asylum procedure for gays should be eased.
Most homosexuals who flee their home countries have been seriously traumatised, says Secret Garden. This means it is difficult for them to explain their plight openly when they arrive in the Netherlands. It also makes it hard to decide whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Families and authorities in their home countries, some of which deny that homosexuality exists, often refuse to provide evidence of their sexuality.
Secret Garden says interpreters should not come from the asylum seekers' home country or region. It also advises that gay asylum claimants should be given the benefit of the doubt until the question of their sexuality can be reliably sorted out by, for example, a psychologist experienced in the field.
Welcome to the Netherlands!

Day Opening - October 21

On my day off...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is it Tuesday after lunch yet?

The last thing I remember, Obama was the first black president of the Untied States of Hysteria and I was undergoing regression testing at a secret laboratory in the state of West Vagina, which is a little south and west of Delaware, which is what Della Street became after getting a little worse of it.

Someone had cut off my fingers and toes, so I had to learn how to type with my penis, which is no small feat, no pun intended.

So, where were we? I seem to remember that the world was poised to move forward with a joyous and impetuous push for hope and change, and then America remembered it hated niggers and spics and ragheads and gays and anyone who could read or right...

Don't you love this planet? I'm so glad I got stationed here!

Day Opening - October 20

Autumn at the Kola Peninsula, Russia

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why Merkel's tough stance...

“The multicultural approach has failed. Totally failed!” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s words attracted global attention. It was a surprising statement from a chancellor who only recently warned against a Dutch government being reliant on parliamentary support from Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party.

It would be a mistake, however, to think Chancellor Merkel has been won over by Mr Wilders’ arguments. The same speech that denounced the softly-softly integration approach, described Islam as “part of Germany”. But one thing is perfectly clear: the naïve idea that ‘we all live together and we’re all fine with it’ just doesn’t tally with the reality in Germany.
“We brought foreign workers to our country in the 1960s. They live here now and we've been fooling ourselves. We thought they would go away again, but that didn’t happen. Of course the multicultural approach 'we live next to each other and we like it' has failed. Totally failed.”
The figures demonstrate that Germany is a multicultural society. Out of a population of about 82 million, 6.6 million people hold foreign passports. Germany’s largest non-Western minority is its 1.6 million-strong Turkish community. The German capital Berlin has the biggest Turkish population of any city outside Turkey itself. The number of Muslims living in Germany is estimated to be something in excess of three million.

Sensitive
Ms Merkel’s pronouncement on the failure of multiculturalism has everything to do with the fear of electoral upheaval. While the integration debate in Germany’s neighbouring countries (Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, France) has been raging for some time, Germany itself has been noticeably silent on the issue. Criticism of any one ethnic group within society is an extremely sensitive issue, given the country’s Nazi past.
But a few months ago the situation changed dramatically. A book claiming that German society is fundamentally threatened by Islam caused a furore. And René Stadtkewitz, a former party colleague of Chancellor Merkel, set up his own political party, making grateful use of Geert Wilders anti-Islam rhetoric.
Ms Merkel didn’t like this at all. As her party colleague Volker Buffier says:
“Look at what’s happened in Germany’s neighbours, in the Netherlands, in Sweden, in Denmark, in all these countries, right-wing protest parties have sprung up, making it really difficult to form a stable government. That’s exactly what we want to prevent.”
Ms Merkel wants her party to take the lead in the integration debate and to tackle the problems in immigrant neighbourhoods. The government is working on tougher measures requiring immigrants to do more to integrate. Turkish President Abdullah Gül was the first to support Ms Merkel’s tough new stance. He said Turkish people living in Germany should do their best to integrate and learn to speak perfect German.

Day Opening - October 19

Tired...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day Opening - October 18

Semur-en-Auxois (I spent my childhood holidays here..)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hello...

Hello World!

Yes, for the kind of geographically and culturally diverse readership this blog commands, perhaps this salutation isn’t hyperbolic. It feels great being able to write here…

My blog Life Rules has been a loyal witness of my academic, professional and personal graph from 2006 till now. Now, writing at Internation Musings seems a good way to journey ahead in my virtual and real worlds.

You, dear readers, have an important role to play to make this journey fruitful. Writing isn’t a solitary activity and thrives on feedback. So I look forward to hearing your opinions about topics discussed.

That brings me to what I intend to write about. I am from India and I believe articles about my country, people, culture and society would be a good start. However, my aim is neither to glorify our heritage, nor to disparage our shortcomings even though my articles are likely to be of either nature based on my personal experience and response to current happenings.

To begin with, some articles may be repeated from my other blogs. In the time to come, however, I intend to write articles specific for Internation Musings, assuming that a readership outside India may need a lot more background than that provided in articles on Life Rules and Short and Sweet.

Views expressed here are my own. Similarly, I may not agree with all the views expressed by fellow bloggers here on Internation Musings. Most importantly, I maintain my right to modify my takes in the time to come. For he is stubborn who resists acknowledging different viewpoints, no? :)

Looking forward to fruitful interactions on this forum,

Cheers!

Gauri Gharpure

PS: Today we are celebrating an important Hindu festival called Dasara / Dussera / Vijaya Dashami in India... So, it seems my first post on this blog lands on an auspicious day! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Muslims, take a good look at yourselves too! - by Mohammed Abdulrahman

It’s only natural that Dutch citizens with Islamic roots should be concerned about Geert Wilders. But they should also take a critical look at what is going on in the countries where their Islamic roots lie. That’s the opinion of Mohammed Abdulrahman of Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s Arabic service. He writes...


''It used to be common knowledge among immigrants from the Islamic world: the Netherlands was the most tolerant country in Europe. But in the post 9/11 era, the mood has changed considerably. The populist anti-Islam Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders became the third largest part in the Netherlands at the last election and is now in the key position of providing official parliamentary support for a new minority right-wing government coalition.
Geert Wilders never tires of warning that Islam is a dangerous ideology that is out to dominate Europe. He has dismissed the Prophet Mohammed as a paedophile and the Qur’an as a fascist book that should be banned. He wants to limit the influx of immigrants from Muslim countries.

Open to discrimination

As Dutch citizens with Islamic roots, we observe these developments with a mixture of shock and indignation. We feel less welcome in the Netherlands and rebuke the Dutch for not giving us a fair chance. But before we start preaching to the Netherlands, one important question needs to be asked: how are foreigners and minority groups treated in the countries where our roots lie?
The facts speak for themselves: in the Islamic world, foreigners and religious and ethnic minorities hardly have any rights at all. In almost all Islamic countries they are open to discrimination that is accepted without criticism by almost everyone, as if it is the most natural thing in the world.
Take, for example, the situation of guest workers in the Gulf States: they are treated little better than slaves. They have practically no legal status and they have absolutely no entitlements in terms of cultural and religious rights. In the entire Arab peninsula, there is only one church: in the mini-state of Qatar whose national identity largely consists of irritating its far larger neighbour Saudi Arabia.

Ordinary citizens

The fact that governments in the Islamic world do not respect the rights of their own ordinary citizens either does not provide a valid argument with which to ease our conscience. For ordinary citizens are only denied political rights, while foreigners and minorities cannot claim any rights whatsoever and have to contend with discrimination by both the government and the population at large.
So when we here in Europe seek to defend our civil rights, we should remember one thing: that we are part of a society based on the idea that everyone, regardless of their background or beliefs, is equal and enjoys the same rights to practice their religion and express their culture. That is an ideal that is worthy of imitation, especially in the countries where our roots lie.

Common insults

Geert Wilders is currently standing trial for a number of statements he has made about Islam. The mere fact that a handful of immigrants and ordinary Dutch citizens can take an influential politician to court speaks volumes in itself. It illustrates that in this society, the law stands above all else.
For people with an Islamic background it is hard to listen to Geert Wilders' provocative statements about Islam. But ultimately they are common insults, nothing more and nothing less. The worst thing that Geert Wilders can do to us is to make us as radical as he is; to drive us to the point where we seek to defend our identity and culture in a forced and aggressive way. And, in doing so, that we forget to be critical of ourselves. In other words, that we start behaving in exactly the way he claims that we behave. Surely the last thing we should do is give him that satisfaction?

Day Opening - October 16

autumn landscape, somewhere in Europe

Friday, October 15, 2010

Anarchy on the Internet

“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”


Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google)

Day Opening - October 15


Chicago in the fog


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why do men prefer paprika flouvered crisps(chips)?

Apparently men like paprika-flavoured crisps and women prefer plain crisps (maybe you call them chips). But why?


Market research by crisp manufacturers says there is no difference between the sexes, but paprika crisps are more popular generally because they are "family crisps". According to culinary trendwatcher Anneke Ammerlaan, men prefer the short sharp sensation they get from the capsicum as it gives an 'orgasmic experience'. Women on the other hand have "a finer sense of taste, which is why they are better at wine tasting". So the next question is, why are men always asked to taste the wine in restaurants?

Day Opening - October 13

After the rain, by John Aavitsland

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Turkish national soccer coach not impressed by the Dutch team

Dutch coach Hiddink of the Turkish national team (behind him the Bosphorus)
Veteran Dutch coach Guus Hiddink has added his voice to the barrage of criticism that has engulfed the Holland team for its aggressive play at this year’s World Cup in South Africa. That was not “the Dutch way” he told the domestic press.
“The type of football Holland played at the World Cup will soon be forgotten. The only thing people will remember of the final is Nigel de Jong’s kung-fu foul - that's a crying shame.”
''In 1974 and 1998, Holland inspired the world. As regards the latter period, I may not be completely impartial, but both teams stood for something”, adds Hiddink, who managed the Dutch team from 1995 until 1998. In that year, he led Holland to the World Cup semi-final, where it was defeated at the hands of Brazil on penalties. Throughout the tournament, Holland played some of the more entertaining football. But that playing style has now been replaced by a more result-driven, business-like approach, Hiddink says.
“A business-like performance should be left to the business world. I love beautiful football; the type of football that made the orange squad great and brought it fame across the world.”
63-year-old Hiddink is currently manager of the Turkish national football team, which will be playing Holland in a friendly next month. I cannot wait for that match!!!.)

Day Opening - October 11

Patagonian 'gaucho', Argentina