Wednesday, November 29, 2006

quOTe oF thE dAy

Learned and leisurely hospitality is the only antidote to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge. I remain certain that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust flowering into a commitment to friendship.
Ivan Illich

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dutch voters divided but not chaotic

The story: I wrote the following analysis for a newspaper, which turned it into something I could never write... hence, I felt like putting the original up my blog.

The results of Dutch Parliamentary elections of last Wednesday were interpreted as rather chaotic, even by experienced politicians like Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm of the Liberal Party. Although the formation process of coalition will not be smooth, the results do not necessarily indicate a chaotic message from the electorate. There were certain indicators pointing in this direction even before the elections. More importantly, there are some clear instructions that the Dutch electorate (albeit divided) gave to the next four years of Dutch politics.

Simply put, the results were a clear victory for the Socialist Party (SP) that almost tripled its seats in the 150-member parliament, while three other small parties received considerable support: the centre-left conservative ChristenUnie (from 3 to 6 seats), populist PVV (9 seats in the first elections they attended), and the novice animal-rights party PvdD (2 seats in their first elections). If the values and norms were the most important issues of the elections as the PM Balkenende, the leader of the biggest party CDA (Christian Democrats) has put, the results were not a surprise. All the winning parties are based on strong ethical stances –on whichever side of the spectrum they may be. Another common characteristic of these parties was their small but congenial components. The mass parties, on the other hand, particularly the Labour Party (PvdA) which showed signs of a much less coherent internal structure and disagreements among the cliques within the party, have lost votes. In either case the shift was from the centre to the both sides of the left-right spectrum.

Traditionally, Dutch political parties can be understood on a basis of left-right and conservative-progressive spectrum. While the electorate seems to have shifted from the right to the left, they also shifted towards more conservative parties, including the Socialist Party with its careful selection of mainly domestic issues. This may as well be regarded as another reason for the SP to succeed, as the major concern of the electorate has been domestic politics. While questioning the Labour and Liberals leaders on their own grounds, SP spurred the votes of the urban poor, as well as the electorate unsatisfied with the Labour that makes up 24% of SP’s votes. Neo-liberal policies of the last few years were obviously not further supported.

Throughout the pre-electoral debates, issues of foreign policy, Turkey’s accession into EU, or EU politics in general were downplayed. Despite a last minute leak of alleged torture incidents by army officials in Iraq, the wars in the Middle East were hardly ever mentioned. Either of the coalition possibilities however, will affect the EU integration (particularly that of Turkey) negatively. While the SP is pro-Turkey’s entrance, they are very reluctant on further integration, particularly on the basis of protection of Dutch workers, CU is against Turkish integration on the basis that Christian values are an integral part of European identity. In the 2005 referendum on the European Constitution the SP was the only left-wing party in parliament to oppose the European constitution. Most winners of the election were against the European Constitution as well.

Another issue that was not high on the agenda was that of immigration. While the PVV, a one-theme party of strong anti-immigration measures has won some 9 seats, in the post-election debates all possible coalition partners to CDA made it clear that they would not join any coalition with them. On the same debate, the word "Muslim" was not mentioned even once. The VVD, that promotes the principle of non-discrimination rather than the exercise of religion, and hard measures on issues of immigration has lost 6 of their 28 seats in the former parliament, and the luxury of being the second biggest party. The government announced plans to ban wearing the burqa and face veil in public, right before the elections without any major controversy. The news were not on the first pages of the newspapers, nor the issues of integration and immigration were a main issue in election preferences for more than 4% of the voters according to NIPO’s opinion polls. The policies regarding immigration are likely to remain strong (against the thousands of immigrants already in the legal process), and based on integration of the mainly Muslim groups from Turkey and Morocco, a shift from the progressive, tolerant, multiculturalist attitude that has declined since the murder of Pim Fortuyn 9-days before the 2003 elections. Fortuyn based his politics on the Dutch identity and suggested a strong stance for integration of Muslim communities, which caused a shift in most parties’ discourse on the issue.

The bargaining process has already started, yet to distil a government from these election results might be difficult for PM Balkenende, but this is the case in most central European countries. In the Netherlands, however, the issues are neither that of immigration nor of EU integration. The focus of the Dutch voters is homeland, which might as well bring about a less ambitious role for the country in international political arena.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The pope talks about the sanctity of life these days...

"Don't reject or abandon AIDS victims," Pope says, according to The Star, today.
How many lives could be saved if he only said "yes, it is all right to use condoms in marriages when one of the spouses are HIV infected." He didn't yet. Maybe he will in the next few months, and it will sound as if he did a good job after this many years. No, I'm afraid I do not regard popacy as a post, but rather kind of an incarnation of the same old story-teller. I know, it is weird. But it is also weird to need someone's approval to protect yourself from HIV/AIDS, and millions of people do need his approval.
According to the Guardian, it's estimated that 40 million people are HIV positive and 8,000 lives per day are lost due to AIDS. Their god obviously didn't think of situations in which "bringing life" and "being fruitful and multiply" also meant bringing the death to innocent individuals (particularly, those they appear to care most about: the unborn, as George Carlin says, the "sanctity of life" is something that is rather negotiable. Depends on who's doing the killings, and who's being killed)... Carlin continues:

"One phrase that come up quite a bit in abortion discussions is "sanctity of life." What about that? Do you think there's a thing as sanctity of life? Personally, I think it's a bunch of shit. Who says life is sacred? .....god? Great, but if you read your history you know that god is one of the leading causes of death and has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Moslems, Christians, Jews, all taking turns killing one another, because god told them it was a good idea. The sword of god, the blood of the lamb, Vengeance is mine, onward Christian soldiers. Millions of dead people.

All because they gave the wrong answer to the god question:

Do you believe in god?


BAM! Dead.

How about you? Do you believe in god?


Do you believe in MY god?


BAM! Dead!

My god has a bigger dick than your god.

For thousands of years all the bloodiest and most brutal wars have been based on religious hatred. Which of course, is fine with me; anytime "holy" people are killing one another, I'm a happy guy......but please, don't kill each other and give me that shit about sanctity of life."

The pope talks about the sanctity of life these days... Let's see if he will mention the word in his visit to Turkey, about which Merkel said Turkish government should be careful if they do not want trouble...

Which brings me back to our age old ego-centric question: Why are we here? (Carlin replies: Plastic!A...)

QuOtE of THe daY

The actual tragedies of life bear no relation to one's preconceived ideas. In the event, one is always bewildered by their simplicity, their grandeur of design, and by that element of the bizzare which seems inherent in them.
- Jean Cocteau

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Elections in the Netherlands

at the back (shades) you can see election results of 2003. for more info on parties, try wikipedia:

Parliamentary parties

Parties with representation in the Eerste Kamer, Tweede Kamer and European Parliament, as of September 2005:

And elections have pointed to one of the reasons why I like living in Amsterdam. Look at the voting of Amsterdamers (per cent):

Monday, November 20, 2006

QuoTE of ThE DAy

"[Philosophy is] the displacement and transformation of frameworks of thinking, the changing of received values and all the work that has been done to think otherwise, to do something else, to become other than one is. [It is] a way of interrogating ourselves".
M. Foucault
Polemics, politics, and problematisation,

ps. I like
Foucault... he disturbs me. :)

Local Greens unveil party program

Turkish Daily News, November 20, 2006
by IŞIL SARIYÜCE, Istanbul

Generating the latest ripples in the Turkish political scene, the Greens discussed their future party platform in an open debate with the public in Istanbul during the weekend. Despite the low public turnout, general coordinator Kadir Dadan said he was hopeful that the Greens would run in Turkish local elections in 2009.

The point most emphasized in the meetings was the call for creating a new and democratic constitution that does not restrict liberties. Greens seek to have a party platform that ranges from domestic issues, such as ethnic conflicts, to global problems like climate change. The Greens have oriented their platform to focus on ecology, the economy, justice and fair income distribution.

The Green movement in Turkey began in the 1980s with opposition to the building of a thermal power plant in Gökova and a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu. The Green Party was officially recognized in Turkey between 1988 and 1994. Since 2002, the goals of improving political activities and establishing a new Green Party in Turkey have been revived, said Ümit Şahin, climate change coordinator.

Over the weekend Greens discussed their draft party program with the public, which according to attendees, was an unusual move in Turkish politics. The Green leaders stressed transparency and democratic structure, which they said has been lacking in Turkish political tradition. Debates about Turkey's EU membership were lively.

Anne de Boer, a local counselor of Dutch Green Left Party was in Istanbul to attend program conference of Greens. "There has been a lack of green color in the Turkish political scene" in the past and the Greens here are still not strong enough, said Boer. However, he said that the Greens have already achieved substantial progress, noting that they have a decentralized structure that differs from other Turkish parties and, as an observer member in the European Green Party, have strong international ties to other Green parties.

De Boer sees a positive path ahead for the Green movement, but finding their way into Turkish Parliament might require a change in Turkey's election law. "It has an anti-democratic character," he said, referring to the law that requires a party to win at least 10 percent of the vote in order to be represented in Parliament. Under this law, the majority of Turkish voters are not represented by the party they elected.

He said that when he first came to Turkey in 1984, he noticed posters that read, "Turkey is ready for Europe." "It was strange to see these just after the [1980] coup, but currently I believe Turkey is ready and that Europe needs Turkey."

In some areas such as environmental policy, negotiations in Turkey will be difficult, De Boer said, because special interest groups such as big companies will want to interfere and create obstacles. "The people who want a democratic Turkey must speak out" he said.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

On Whips...

Today's NY Times The Causus blogs had the following information:

"But what exactly IS a whip? He is the enforcer. And the favor bookkeeper. And the rules wonk. And, if you’re a congressman or woman, he might know even more about your district than you do. Cross him at your own peril. The term “whip” comes from the British House of Commons, which in turn took it from foxhunting. The “whipper-in” whips the dogs to keep them chasing the fox as a pack, and likewise the whip keeps the party members voting together. When a party’s leadership deems a particular roll call vote an important one, they call in the whip and his deputies, who first serve as pollsters, tallying how many members are on board, undecided, or against the measure (the “whip count”). "
Hence the whip being regarded as something powerful is no surprise. So what exactly IS a whip? Etymologically it comes from Middle English wippen, whippen; akin to Middle Dutch wippen to move up and down, sway, Old English wIpian to wipe.

With a big leap I will post a painting that the issue reminds me of (If you are interested in Genre Painting, you probably already heard of Bruegel or Brueghel, otherwise click on the link below):

Pieter Bruegel's Hunters in the Snow, on which New Scientist says:

"A painting tells a thousand tales. Pieter Bruegel's hunting dogs, for example, look as dejected as their owners in his painting Hunters in the Snow. But it tells us something really important: that from the Renaissance on, art and literature seem to have been way ahead of science in granting animals - or at any rate, mammals - some acceptance of sentience. The secular intellectual world of Leonardo da Vinci, Michel de Montaigne, Erasmus, Shakespeare and Francis Bacon took animal sentience for granted.
Philosophers were the big nay-sayers. There is a clear line of argument for non-sentience running from Aristotle to St Thomas Aquinas and René Descartes to Immanuel Kant. They tended to draw a thick dividing line between non-human animals and humans, allowing the latter to use the former for whatever purpose they liked."

The link between secularism and non-human sentience is clear. Think about the place of men and his relation to nature in Descartes, Plato, and the "great" chain of beings. Yet, why are we still treating nature as our dominion remains to be further elaborated...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ata demirer araknafobia

This only for friends that have been around Turkey for a while now. I couldn't post it for some reason but click here and enjoy Atademirer's Araknafobia video. :D
I haven't laughed so hard for sooo long... Finally subcultures on the move to popular public spheres in Turkey.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Israeli and Palestinian Women Demand an End to Attacks on Civilians

From UNIFEM website/ 11 November 2006

Members of the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace (IWC) have issued the following appeal in response to the recent bombardment of houses in the Gaza Strip.

As Israeli, Palestinian and international women leaders and activists, members of the International Women's Commission dedicated to the goal of ending the occupation and achieving a just and sustainable Palestinian-Israeli peace based on a two-state solution, committed to the respect of international law, including relevant UN resolutions, human rights, and equality, we are outraged at the horrifying Israeli carnage against the Beit Hanoun civilians in Gaza Strip. The dawn bombardment of houses on November 8 in Beit Hanoun cost the lives of 19 civilians, among them 7 children and 6 women, and left dozens of innocents injured. Since the end of June, Israeli military assaults on civilians in Gaza have resulted in the killing of 383 Palestinians, including 68 children and 14 women.
As women we refuse to remain silent. As women we have an obligation to do everything possible to bring an end to the senseless use of force which threatens to destroy all options for creating a humane future for ourselves and our children.

WE CALL on the government of Israel to immediately cease its war on the civilian population of Gaza Strip, withdraw its armed forces, and end the siege. Attacks against civilians and collective punishment cannot under any circumstances be justified.
WE DEMAND that the international community, especially the UN Security Council, exercise its responsibility for the protection of human security, human rights, and human dignity according to international law, and intervene immediately to ensure the total withdrawal of Israeli forces and the complete cessation of all attacks.
WE ASK that an international verification force be dispatched to assure implementation of these decisions.
WE CALL on the Human Rights Council to dispatch a team to investigate the Beit Hanoun killings.
WE REAFFIRM our belief in the fundamental rights of all to live in an environment of peace and security, free from occupation, oppression, and the use of force as stipulated in international law and human rights conventions.
History has proven that sustained conflicts have no military solution.
WE APPEAL to the quartet to convene an international conference forthwith in order to return to the path of negotiations, and we ask all responsible parties to do everything in their power to begin this vital process.
Time is of the essence: our future, and that of our children, is in grave danger.
Ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the foremost challenge and obligation of the international community today.

The International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace (IWC) is an international body of Palestinian, Israeli, and international women established in 2005 under the auspices of UNIFEM in the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hi-tech crimes...

Just imagine that you lived a few centuries ago and found a newspaper from the future and read about this kind of a crime ... uh oh!

'Internet rape' paedophile jailed

Thursday November 9, 2006 Guardian Unlimited

A paedophile who took remote control of teenage girls' computers from his home and terrorised them into sending intimate images of themselves was jailed today for 10 years.

Posing as a teenage boy on internet chatrooms, Adrian Ringland, 36, would first get his victims' email addresses. He would then send them an email containing a virus that allowed him to hack into their computers.

Targeting girls on both sides of the Atlantic, he would visibly take control of their PCs, moving cursors around, switching on printers and, in one case, opening and closing the CD-Rom drawer.

He asked his terrified victims, who were as young as 14, to send him indecent images and pose for him on their webcams. Ringland would send the girls threatening messages if they did not comply, warning that he would crash their machines.

The case is thought to feature the most technologically advanced form of online grooming by a paedophile to have come before the British courts.

Ringland, a father of two, who police believe was self taught in IT skills, targeted teenagers in the UK and Canada, thousands of miles away from his home in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

He was sentenced today at inner London crown court after pleading guilty to 20 charges relating to the internet abuse of three girls in Britain and a Canadian girl aged 14, including 10 offences of making indecent photographs of a child.

In each case, Ringland had posed as an "attractive and innocent-looking" teenager called Ant Jones, sending his victims photographs of a young boy, whom he claimed to be.

The photograph contained a virus, known as a Trojan, that allowed him to establish remote control of his victims' computers.

Lisa Wilding, prosecuting, told the court, the virus had enabled Ringland to "manipulate and distort" systems "in order to frighten the girls into doing as he ordered ... to terrorise them".

She said: "It is a startling tale that will bring home to you the horrors that lurk within the internet and the minds of some individuals who use it."

One of his victims said his considerable IT expertise reminded her of the science fiction film The Matrix. Another described her ordeal as "internet rape", while a third threatened to commit suicide in the wake of the abuse.

The court heard that once Ringland felt he had the children under his control, he forced them to provide ever more explicit pictures of themselves. He warned that refusal would result in the pictures he already had being sent to their friends, or that valuable files would be wiped from their computers.

Ringland was convinced he was untouchable, boasting to one child: "Call the cops ... they won't trace me."

However, he was caught after a 14-year-old Canadian girl, who lived in a remote rural area, ignored his threats and told her parents, who alerted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

After an extensive hi-tech investigation, officers eventually cracked the array of electronic defences Ringland had created and traced him to his home, 4,000 miles away.

Ringland, who was unemployed and living with his partner at the time, was eventually arrested by local police, and bailed. A random check later caught him having sex with a 14-year-old girl, whom he had also groomed on the internet.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

quoTE of THE DAy

A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Sunday on the Hague (Lahey / Den Haag for those who don’t notice, all one city) brought together a good exhibition and a nice image of the city for the first time. The exhibition was one on the influence of Jan Toorop on Gustav Klimt, which I think is a very legitimate theme, yet, much less important than seeing Klimt’s work for the first time (for real). I appreciate the link between the two, but I found the psyche of the artists missing. To contrast their themes would surely be more interesting for me.

Anyway, being no art critique I should stop here and return to my impressions and the info I could gather.

First, I should introduce Toorop (although I knew his paintings I didn’t know much about him till this exhibition).
He was born in Java, 1858, studied in Delft and Amsterdam and died in the Hague, 1928. His work merges Symbolism (particularly using Javanese motifs) and Art Nouveau (with elongated female figures and curvilinear designs) His “linear idealism” seems to have impressed Klimt. The link seems to stop there however, as Klimt changes shapes and forms into slogans and politics while Toorop regards art very personal.

What I found much more interesting was a painting by Klimt I’ve never seen before, which was marvellously Pre-Raphaelite. So were the works of other artists in the Vienna Circle, in which Toorop became famous. Most importantly the work of Fernand Khnopff, whose work you might remember is The Caress (also called The Sphinx). I would expect to have some relevance to Toorop’s obsession with the Sphinx, too. But the diversion is clear in the depictions, and hence I think Khnopff might have influenced Klimt at a different level: with his ability to express striking eroticism in a less than relevant subject matter.Khnopff (1858-1921) was a Belgian symbolist painter, who studied in l'academie des beaux art with Xavier Mellery, “who taught him to consider painting as an enquiry into the meaning hidden in the soul of things”. When he went to Paris one of his main inspirations was the Pre-Raphaelites (particularly Rossetti and Burne-Jones) and in his return he co-founded Groupe des XX.

Hence the pre-Raphaelite link through the adherence to mimesis. (It seems that Khnopff was as interesting a figure as one of them as well… but not now…) His style “combines the visual precision of earlier Flemish artists of the 15th century, the modern realism of the Pre-Raphaelites.” Yet, he seems to have carried (and so did Toorop) the style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood into a higher level of abstraction and symbolism, whereby he excluded attention to detail and included ways of expressing much deeper enigmatic imagery and internal impulsions. He thought of his art as internal to himself ("One has only oneself" was his motto, and if I’m not wrong the title of one of his paintings), and was called the “painter of sentiments” and “the perfect symbolist”. His oeuvre contains significant affinities with Gustav Klimt, Edward Burne-Jones, and Gustave Moreau.

One of his main themes was solitude and the image on the right titled as such reminds me terribly of the image created by Luc Besson in the movie The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.

The rest of my info on Khnopff come from this site.

“It's only as an artist, then, that we can know Khnopff. A stunningly accomplished draftsman over a range of media, he was masterful also in avoiding the two major pitfalls for artists of his time. The first was obsessive realism, dramatically illustrated by Khnopff's older contemporary, the Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt, who once starved a goat and drenched it in whitewash after he discovered he could not find a thin-enough white goat to sit for his painting The Scapegoat. Rigid adherence to a narrowly conceived reality was the second danger. Gustave Courbet, a Realist from the generation prior to Khnopff's, famously declared that if someone would only show him an angel, he would gladly paint it. Khnopff and other Symbolist artists had no trouble painting angels (and in some cases "seeing" them).

Contrived symbolism and allegory can also be deadly for art, of course, but like his great Lowland predecessors, such as Jan Van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, and Pieter Brueghel, Khnopff had the ability to make his allegories seem fresh and affecting. This particular gift of imagination seems to have been remarkably common in that part of Europe both before and after Khnopff (Magritte was another practitioner), perhaps an effect of life in a historic crucible of religious tension and war.”

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Best Performances

Press Freedom Index, Corruption Perceptions Index, Environmental Performance Index says these are the best performers...
According to this calculation, Denmark and Finland are the nicest places to live in... uh oh. Maybe I should add the average annual temperatures too...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bikes and Logistics

After falling off my bike, I think, I've something to learn from the bikers on these pics about logistics and balance:

Friday, October 27, 2006

bokbier festival and remedies for hangovers...

I made a small Internet research on Hangover Cures. I skip the before drinking, as you drink, and before bed parts as I find them useless. One is only aware of a hangover once it is already there. So we will start with what is suggested by various different websites about the after-effects. You can see in capitals whether or not I agree with them as well.

- to drink more... water, that is. YESSS!

- OJ, Irn-Bru or Gatorade. DISAGREE

- Milkshakes, Coca-cola, McDonald's cola, peppermint tea, Lucozade, honey tea, strong black coffee, milk and peach juice (not all at once) ABSOLUTELY DISAGREE I CAN HANDLE A BIT OF PEACH JUICE MAYBE…

- strong black coffee DEFINITELY! (ALTHOUGH I MUST NOTE THAT SOME WEBSITES SUGGEST ITS SIDE EFFECTS: diuretic effect (which makes your dehydration worse), makes you a wide-awake drunk, irritates your stomach further… BUT IN MY CASE IT’S A MUST AS I WOULDN’T LIKE TO HAVE TWO DRUG WITHDRAWALS AT ONCE (ACTUALLY THREE AS HEAVY SMOKING MAKES ME WANT TO QUIT FOR A MORNING)


- strawberry mousse and cheese on toast WOULDN’T WORK WITH ME EITHER.

- fried egg bagels, salt and vinegar crisps, gherkins with black tea, Marmite, oriental ramen noodles, 'two Texan steaks, four eggs, chips and beer', prawn korma with pilau rice, anything from Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Batchelor's Super Noodles… ARE THINGS I WOULDN’T CONSUME EVEN WHEN I’M FEELING PERFECTLY FINE… BUT IF YOU STILL HAVE THE APPETITE FOR SOMETHING WHY NOT GIVE IT A TRY. I'M GUESSING IF YOU CAN KEEP IT DOWN, YOU'RE GOING TO BE OK.

- In the middle ages, for example, hangover sufferers tried to relieve their pain by eating a mixture that included raw eel. UH OH…





- Milk Thistle (may help the liver process alcohol better) DON’T KNOW


- Fresh Fruit & Vegetables/Juices DEFINITELY HELPS ME…


- Recipes developed more to punish than cure:

o Bullshot: 1 1/4 - 2 oz vodka or gin, 3-4 oz chilled beef bouillon, 1 tsp lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and black pepper to taste. - Place ice cubes in glass, add ingredients and stir gently.

o Prairie Oyster: 1 ¼ - 2 oz vodka, 1 whole egg, 3 oz tomato juice (or V-8), Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and black pepper to taste. - The egg should be swallowed whole. If made without alcohol, place ingredients in a shot glass and swallow all at once.

o Corpse Reviver: 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth, 3/4 Calvados (an apple-flavored brandy), 1/2 ounce Cognac - Stir well over ice cubes in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over and serve.

o Fallen Angel: 1 1/2 ounce gin, Dash creme de menthe (white), Dash Angostura bitters, Dash lemon juice - Shake over ice cubes, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.

o Prairie Oyster: 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 dash Tabasco, 1 raw egg, Few drops lemon juice, Salt and pepper to taste - Carefully combine ingredients in a shot glass. Down in a single gulp.

Still my favourite is to have someone to tell me that it’ll be fine, and I’m still an ok person. ;)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

nip/tuck & green apples

According to New Scientist,
"Last year, 291,000 American women had bags implanted in their breasts, 324,000 Americans had fat vacuumed out of their bodies, and 231,000 had fat, skin and muscle cut from around their eyes. Add less common operations such as buttock lifts, pectoral implants and vaginal rejuvenations, as well as "minimally invasive" procedures such as Botox injections, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates that Americans underwent at least 10.2 million cosmetic surgery procedures last year."
The article also notes that in the United States "people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder may be 45 times as likely as normal to commit suicide" and that "over 56% of women and 43% of men are dissatisfied with their appearance."

On the one hand we have "beauty" defined by the advertisements, media, fashion and cosmetic industries making women evermore insecure about their divergence from the "standards". (I do recognise that there are all kinds of gender issues involved here but it isn't my main concern for the moment.) On the other, women become the agents to reproduce these images by 1) consuming the images and products generated by these industries and 2) through plastic surgery, as they have gained relative economic independence in the last few decades. The article in New Scientist was about the US, where these developments are very visible, but one can see it growing globally, too...

"We don’t need Afghan-style burquas to disappear as women. We disappear in reverse—by revamping and revealing our bodies to meet externally imposed visions of female beauty."

-Robin Gerber

It's one other way to control "nature" of course. We are never happy with what is out there. We have to change and shape it. So much so that “what is out there” (and even in there if you care to look at the ratios of psychiatric patients and hence the use of related “medicine”) to be changed and shaped now also includes our bodies. The beautification of female body is no longer a ritual, as it appears to be in history. The body is no longer ornamented but is transformed. This is not limited to cosmetics, fashion, surgery, or diets. It also relates to medicine. More and more often natural cycles and processes are seen as obscure and almost unwanted -hence modern medicine tries to rid women from their natural "burdens". One of the latest examples being the pills that would stop women's menstrual cycles until they want to reproduce. Sounds horribly liberating, don't you think so? The predecessors of such “progress” have been PMS reducing tranquilisers, all the procedures that have been suggested to stop mothers' milk, or anti-aging pills / creams / hormones and the like, as well as smaller and more cosmetic examples such as all those pills that would allow you to be tanner or whiter regardless of the season / colour of skin you're in, anti-perspirant deodorants, or the requirement to remove body hair.

This also reminds me of the “green apple culture”: Anything that can make you feel/be anything less than an icon of healthy-fit-young (and hygenic in an almost sterile way) individual is regarded as evil. Moreover we can no longer pursue ways in which we can remain out of the norm, either. Think of non-smoking parks and beaches, think of legislations that require obese people to pay more for the health services / insurance everyone is entitled to, think of the social and peer pressure that forces us into things.

It has been marketed so long now that one can hardly recognise it. Nor its health effects on women that end up in bulimia or anorexia.

Is it too big a leap to make? I don't think so. Everything is at our service not to be what we look like and not to be happy with what we are like. Our individual freedoms are at risk, as we are no longer allowed to make “mistakes,” and hence “be ourselves”…

There are n-number of social problems it brings, or course, but going back to the minor issue of beauty, even the sheer time it takes for each women to perform (or even consider how to or whether or not to perform) all these "duties", make it impossible to direct our energy and focus into what WE might find important and worth changing in our modern patriarchal societies...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Planet Is Fine...

This is my favourite George Carlin piece of all times... It's from his Jammin' in New York show which is available at youtube these days...

"We're so self-important. So self-important. Everybody's going to save something now. "Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails." And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet, we don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven't learned how to care for one another, we're gonna save the fucking planet?

I'm getting tired of that shit. Tired of that
shit. I'm tired of fucking Earth Day, I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren't enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don't give a shit about the planet. They don't care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don't. Not in the abstract they don't. You know what they're interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They're worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn't impress me.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We've been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we've only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we're a threat? That somehow we're gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that's just a-floatin' around the sun?

The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles...hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages...And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE!

We're going away. Pack your shit, folks. We're going away. And we won't leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet'll be here and we'll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet'll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.

You wanna know how the planet's doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet's doing. You wanna know if the planet's all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. Or how about those people in Kilowaia, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room.

The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we're gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, 'cause that's what it does. It's a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it's true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question,

- Why are we here?

- Plastic...asshole!

So, the plastic is here, our job is done, we can be phased out now. And I think that's begun. Don't you think that's already started? I think, to be fair, the planet sees us as a mild threat. Something to be dealt with. And the planet can defend itself in an organized, collective way, the way a beehive or an ant colony can. A collective defense mechanism. The planet will think of something. What would you do if you were the planet? How would you defend yourself against this troublesome, pesky species? Let's see... Viruses. Viruses might be good. They seem vulnerable to viruses. And, uh...viruses are tricky, always mutating and forming new strains whenever a vaccine is developed. Perhaps, this first virus could be one that compromises the immune system of these creatures. Perhaps a human immunodeficiency virus, making them vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases and infections that might come along. And maybe it could be spread sexually, making them a little reluctant to engage in the act of reproduction.

Well, that's a poetic note. And it's a start. And I can dream, can't I? See I don't worry about the little things: bees, trees, whales, snails. I think we're part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. Know what I call it? The Big Electron. The Big Electron...Whoooa. It doesn't punish, it doesn't reward, it doesn't judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's hard to be from Turkey these says...

It's been so long since I couldn't post anything, due to the moving process.
In the meantime Orhan Pamuk received the Nobel Prize for literature and the French government banned to think or say that there might not have been an Armenian
génocide. Even the NY Times called this decision "absurd" and even Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs mocked it by saying "We cannot be like France, we have to do something about our legislation", referring to the law that restricts the use of the g-word on the Armenian question.

In the Netherlands, some political parties have turned it into an election issue for their Turkish candidates[*] (neither elegantly nor craftily I must say...) which came out in the news a few weeks before an opinion poll that claims that young people of Turkish origin are turning radical[*]. Now at the political level the limits of integration are fixed by the Armenian question. At the identity level, I think this creates a rupture and contradicts the idea of integration which suggests some kind of amalgamation of old and new identities.

On the other hand Turkish patriots and populist media went crazy on the Nobel prize given to Pamuk. He doesn't seem to please their patriotic one-sided devotion to a particular discourse sufficiently. The best article I read on the issue is by Yıldırım Türker at Radikal: Türk'ün Nobel'le imtihanı

In the meantime, GWBush signed the infamous Guantanamo bill (tr / eng) allowing torture to be a part of US law. You might want to help Amnesty International's campaign on this by clicking here.

The last and least important thing that has taken place through this period is that I went to IKEA for the first time in my life. And I am sorry to say dear IKEA-fans but it was as terrible, as corporate, as useless, and as frustrating as I thought it was before ever being there. Actually... It was even worse! I'm back to my recycle, repair, reuse mode.

Recycling and remixing two quotes from Kermit the Frog and Janis Joplin, I have my own version: It's hard to be green, but once you do, it sure is worth it!)

Monday, October 09, 2006

qUOtE oF The dAY

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Eastern Docklands

One of the most exciting things about living /being in Amsterdam is to see the effort and attention paid to creativity in architecture. Almost every building has a small touch to it that makes it all the more loveable. Otherwise it is the area, like the Olympic Village, that makes it remarkable because it is undertaken as a project, etc.

My favourite part is the Eastern Docklands these days... ;)

here are some photos to demostrate why as well as some info from "the official holland site":

"A well-hidden and surprising new area in Amsterdam is the Eastern docklands, situated between the Central Station and Zeeburger Island. In the past ten years it has developed into Amsterdam’s architectural showpiece [...] Formerly the heart of Amsterdam's industrial harbour, these four man-made peninsulas were built between 1876 and 1927 to provide the maximum length of quayside for Amsterdam's thriving docklands.
Now reborn as the cool place to live, an address on Java, KNSM, Borneo or Sporenburg "islands" is highly sought after by Amsterdam's trendy population. With their cutting edge architecture admired around the world and KNSM island's design shops it's easy to see why. Borneo island has sixty unique houses as a result of the 'Live in a house of your own design' project. The only things they have in common are their height, a door on the street side and a private area behind."

Towards Dutch Elections - I

The Candidate List of Dutch Greens (Groenlinks)

(For information on candidates click here)

1. Femke Halsema

2. Kees Vendrik

3. Wijnand Duyvendak

4. Mariko Peters

5. Ineke van Gent

6. Naima Azough

7. Tofik Dibi

8. Jolande Sap

9. Mathieu Heemelaar

10. Isabelle Diks

11. Jup van 't Veld

12. Mária van Veen

13. Cees Korvinus

14. Rik Grashoff

15. Nen van Ramshorst

16. Jaap Dirkmaat

17. Birgül Dönmez

18. Iwan Leeuwin

19. René Kerkwijk

20. Maarten van Beek

21. Xaviera Ringeling

22. Saranna Maureau

23. Riza Diktas

24. Tof Thissen

25. Symone de Bruin

26. Gon Mevis

27. Jan Atze Nicolai

28. Adri Wever

29. Vincent Bijlo

30. Kathalijne Buitenweg

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Winter Pageant

was it really so long ago
we were taking photographs
of each other in our winter pageant clothes
skipping school going home
running for shelter from a sudden thunderstorm
kissing raindrops on your nose

what part did I play
in making you the way you are
what more can I say to convince you
you didn't have to go so far
you didn't have to go so far

you may as well live a universe away now
I'll probably never see you again
I wonder where you went
where did you go what did you see
and do you ever think of me
and california
and all that time we spent

what part did I play
in making you the way you are
what more can I say to convince you
you didn't have to go so far
you didn't have to go so far

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

hazy shade of winter

Time, time, time
See what's become of me

Time, time, time
See what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please

Look around
Leaves are brown
And the sky
Is a hazy shade of winter

Hear the salvation army band
Down by the riverside
It's bound to be a better ride
Than what you've got planned
Carry a cup in your hand

Look around
Leaves are brown
And the sky
Is a hazy shade of winter

Hang on to your hopes my friend
That's an easy thing to say
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend
That you can build them again

Look around
Grass is high
Fields are ripe
It's the springtime of my life

Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won't you stop and remember me

Look around
Leaves are brown
And the sky
It's a hazy shade of winter

Look around
Leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground

Well the patch of snow on the ground is a bit of an exaggeration but winter is here for sure... So I'm trying to learn to love, enjoy, and celebrate it. It was something I couldn't learn in Japan, despite the pagan traditions I'd probably appreciate at this point in my life but I think this time I know how to learn better ;) -cheers to growing, Maria (who accompanied me with a glass of cognac), and hopes of finding myself in the other side of the sphere to recover
at some point...

Monday, October 02, 2006

If Sparta and Rome perished, what State can hope to endure for ever?

If we would set up a long-lived form of government,
let us not even dream of making it eternal.
If we are to succeed, we must not attempt the impossible,
or flatter ourselves that we are endowing the work of man with a stability
of which human conditions do not permit."
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Not moving there...

No, I wasn't lying. That was the initial plan. But now I've better plans. Such as... moving to an island... One that smells seasalt. Faaaar away from the university hence necessitating long bike trips. looking towards some water from big windows, a tabby cat as a neighbour etc.

hope everything works! wish me luck...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

QuOte Of tHE Day

"There are four enemies of human rights: oil, gas, the war on terror and geopolitical considerations."
Yevgeny Zhovtis

This bit is nice and fine. Zhovtis, however, is qutoed by the NY Times continuing “And we have all four.” He's from Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, an organization that has received financing from the American Embassy and the National Endowment for Democracy. The news today talks about how corrupt the Kazakh Government is, how important the country is strategically, and the oil and gas reserves. Now, I am not a conspiracy fan at all, but I wouldn't be suprised in case of a soft change in government of Kazakhstan (for the emancipation of the Kazakh people and to support their democratic rights of course).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?


how can we stand up for freedom of speech (and turn it into a legitimate issue in the Turkish public domain) in any other context than the EU integration?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The New York Times

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat

"WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

Iran Who? Venezuela Takes the Lead in a Battle of Anti-U.S. Sound Bites

Chavez on Chomsky and Bush surpasses Ahmedinejad on Bush and Security Council. NY Times takes the opportunity to quote Bolton on the importance of freedom of speech. :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Bernard Williams!

"What does it mean to live well?"

Think about it... Think of what it meant, what it will mean, and in which different ways to what kind of persons.

I think it is a useful intellectual exercise, and hence, thanks to Bernard Willams.

Wiki sums up a few things I like about him in an intro paragraph,

"Williams became known internationally for his attempt to return the study of moral philosophy to its foundations: to history and culture, politics and psychology, and, in particular, to the Greeks. Described as an "analytic philosopher with the soul of a humanist," he saw himself as a synthesist, drawing together ideas from fields that seemed increasingly unable to communicate with one another. He rejected scientific and evolutionary reductionism, once calling reductionists "the ones I really do dislike" because they are morally unimaginative, he said. For Williams, complexity was beautiful, meaningful, and irreducible.

He became known as a great supporter of women in academia, seeing in women the possibility of that synthesis of reason and emotion that he felt eluded analytic philosophy. The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum said Williams was "as close to being a feminist as a powerful man of his generation could be."
In the 1970s, he chaired the Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship, which reported in 1979 that: "Given the amount of explicit sexual material in circulation and the allegations often made about its effects, it is striking that one can find case after case of sex crimes and murder without any hint at all that pornography was present in the background."
The Committee's report was influenced by the liberal thinking of John Stuart Mill, a philosopher greatly admired by Williams, who used Mill's principle of liberty to develop what Williams called the "harm condition," whereby "no conduct should be suppressed by law unless it can be shown to harm someone." Williams concluded that pornography could not be shown to be harmful and that "the role of pornography in influencing society is not very important ... to think anything else is to get the problem of pornography out of proportion with the many other problems that face our society today".
The committee reported that, so long as children were protected from seeing it, adults should be free to read and watch pornography as they saw fit. Margaret Thatcher's first administration put an end to the liberal agenda on sex, and nearly put an end to Williams' political career too; he was not asked to chair another public committee for almost 15 years.

ps. just noted it is also
H. G. Wells' birthday today. Happy birthday and a toast to him too...

4th Traditional International Day of Peace ;)

Wiki says:

"After a campaign by Jeremy Gilley and the Peace One Day organisation, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 55/282 on September 7, 2001, which decided that, starting in 2002, the International Day of Peace would be celebrated on September 21 each year, and that it would become a ceasefire day."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the burden of the south

One of my favourite books of all times is "The First Century after Beatrice" by Amin Maalouf.
I have started reading Maalouf's books with Semekand and have always been impressed with the well-researched, perfectly-written historically based books of him. But in this novel, he writes about the future (the narrator is a scientist, a lover, and a father in the last century before and the first century after his daughter is born) and he nicely places politics of cloning and gender relations in a context of both the the global (North-South) and individual (embedded in a family).
Looking at this photo, I wanted to re-read the book, and hence thought I should share...