Saturday, April 16, 2005

Banking the right way

After hearing things that only after a lot of pressure one of the banks I am with finally withdrew from funding questionable arms-manufacturers I have become a bit more interested in what banks actually do with your money. Because while banks complain about wanting to raise fees for consumers, it's our money that makes them really wealthy. Mostly due to investments and due to loans. Banks generally don't seem to have a conscious, but nobody ever raises their voice about it.

So when I hear things about some banks investing in seriously questionable projects, things that never ever would have my approval... I have become interested if some banks don't do this. At least in the Netherlands there seems to be one bank who actively chooses to invest their money in projects for the benefit of mankind. Reading their examples, I am impressed. From biological farming to micro financing people in the poorest parts of the world. I haven't switched yet, but I will probably move some of my bank accounts there. In case anybody else is interested: Triodos bank (or if somebody has some information that they are all bollocks, I also would like to know).

Friday, April 15, 2005

Friday cat blogging

I thought I would join in with the modulator's request to on Friday cat (or any other pet) blog. I think my cat was less impressed with the idea. I've never seen her look so unimpressed as here...

my cat looking unimpressed part 1

my cat looking unimpressed part 2

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Some random thoughts

Some random thoughts on Dutch news...

I saw on the news that the number of people on unemployment or benefits are down. Which is being put forward as a success for government policy. Hearing the actual wording it's not that more people found a job, it's simply that people are being cut off from getting unemployment benefits. As such greater poverty, with just as many people unemployed. Well done!

I also saw a bit of news that one of the extremist Christian parties here wants to introduce a card game to teach "morals and values". A few days ago I saw a documentary about some of the really gone wrong youth who have been assaulting foreigners, convicted of many crimes, etc. Forgive my pessimism but no card game will ever effect any change on these guys. These are massive social issues. How far removed from reality are you Christians?

Seeing this series on the re-training and detention system for youths I noticed a funny comment by one of them. These kids where training how to steer ships as a way to teach them a job. One of them commented: "It's fun, it's just like a video game". That just made my day. At one time video-games about for example boating meant to emulate real life. Now kids think out of the opposite perspective. Funny... be it kind of worrying.

Random thought on international news....

I read somewhere that the cookie monster of sesame street will now start to promote veggies and try and discourage kids from eating cookies. Perhaps it's just me, but shouldn't parents be the ones who take responsibility for their children and be the ones who raise them? I am sorry, but you as a parent control what your child eats. Why is parenting being left to things like TV?

Scary & funny links

Displaying the 10 commandments in court? What government that claims to be secular can even let this come to court! Not to mention how this article tries to support those "poor Christians". This is very serious and very scary. The US really seems to be heading back to the dark ages... with nuclear weapons!

Blogs should be censored? Well at least according to US citizens who mostly never even read a Blog or knew about Blogs before they got asked their opinion about it. I would not be surprised if this outcome is due to how the questions where asked (more about privacy and not about freedom of speech) and will be used by some rightwing nut jobs to not protect privacy, but attack the freedom of speech.

Design your own hell! This nice, you can design your own levels of Hell. For some odd reason Bush always ended up in the lowest level of hell with me as being the worst sinner. I wonder why *evil grin*.

What threat to the Bush administration are you? There are so many pointless quizzes out on the internet, but this one is kind of funny. Apparently I am:
morally deficient
Threat rating: Medium. Your total lack of decent
family values makes you dangerous, but we can
count on some right wing nutter blowing you up
if you become too high profile.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Der Untergang

Last night I finally saw "Der Untergang", and I can more then recommend this movie to everybody. For those not familiar with the movie, it's a German movie about the last few days of Hitler's reign and the collapse of Germany in the second world war. I however would not call it a war movie.

The movie was very controversial as Germans are very worried about portraying Hitler as a normal human-being. To them he needs to stay a total monster. The shame most Germans feel about the second world war, as I understand it, is quite big. Some worried this movie would turn Hitler into an idol. But it luckily does nothing like that.

Der Untergang mostly centres around various people in or around Hitlers bunker. While the people in the streets of Berlin suffer you get to see how Hitler impacted those around him and how the downfall of their empire affects them. This has been done in such a realistic way it impressed me beyond most other movies. Every action, every emotion seemed real. From those so caught up in Hitler's words and idea's that they commit suicide for him, even after he himself is dead, to those who try and save them selves. Most people however are generally clueless about how to act. As Hitler more and more loses hope and shows less and less sanity himself.

From the subtleties of soldiers and officers who know it's become useless, but continue to do their job because they don't know any better to the exceptionally powerful scene where Gubbels wife poisons her own children one by one. Most of the story centres around the secretary of Hitler. Who really is in most of this a bystander, totally overwhelmed by the situation she has gotten herself into.

I can simply recommend this movie to everybody. It is a great insight into how people mentally deal with and react to a situation to extreme to really comprehend. A unique insight into what happens the last few days as an empire is really falling, and being powerless to change that. Hollywood would learn something of the acting, storyboard, way of filming here. No Hollywood drama ever comes close to this. (IMDB) (german) (Dutch)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Go fasism go! *sigh*

It doesn't happen a lot that I turn of my TV in utter disgust because I can not stomach the person in question being allowed to a) talk and b) breath. I know this sounds radical, but some people really make me feel ashamed to be a human being. I generally am a big supporter of free speech, even if is faulty logic. But this just went too far.

On a political debate show a representative of "nieuw rechts" (new right) was also invited. Which a large smirking smile, hair put straight back with to much gell, a Dutch flag pin, a Dutch flag tie he sat there. They showed a little report about him and two of his goons going to cities that recently had to suffer from extreme right violence against innocent asylum seekers. Schools being burned out and innocent people being beaten up by racist youth. There he went to stick up for these racists. For some "strange" reason the mayors of both cities didn't really feel much like meeting this guy (in fact in one town the mayor was just not even at the town hall at the time he arrived). So then he went to see if he could find some of these racist youth's to. I guess talk some friendly supportive words to them. He couldn't find any however.

He on the show said he felt "unwelcome", "ignored" as if people where "unrealistically afreight of him" as if he was "shunned" and that people had an unfair picture of him. Gee, I wonder which other group suffers at those feelings by this guy?! Isn't this the exact same way he treats foreigners?! Gee, sucks when it happens to you doesn't it? And that's without the violence and just a one off event of much less proportions then anything foreigners have to endure if this guy would be in power.

Next a major of another city (not one he visited) who was also on the show talks about the problem of rising extreme rightwing movements among kids. That the police did an extensive investigation on it. It showed that the problem in his city almost totally was with the white racist youth. No groups of foreigners where involved as agressors. They where pure hate crimes and violence out of racism. Also that one of the most, if not THE most renowned university in the Netherlands, that of Leiden, did a study that rising extreme right-winged youth are a possible bigger problem then Islamic fundamentalism. Before this major has finished speaking this new right guy goes and interrupts him. How it's all not true, all lies, not facts, it's all fiction. The major still tries to say a few times that these are the police reports on their current situation, etc. But this guy just talks through him, ignores him and goes off with some racist excuses about how it's all caused by immigrants attacking whites. The major once more explains this is not the case, that in some big cities there are indeed opposing groups where you also have immigrants who fight with racist whites and visa versa but not in his town. That the police studies show nothing of the sorts. Without knowing any thing about the town in question Mr. New Right continues to find excuses, about how perhaps these youth where driven away to his city, felt oppre... *click* tv turned off. There is only so much pure racist hate and lies I can take on one evening.

I mean how can this guy claim to be decent? Not just does he lie, and badly I might add and does he thrive on hate. But how can anybody claim to be civilised and proper and "better then those filthy foreigners" if they actively promote hate by extreme right winged youth against innocent people?! Remind me again how it's noble, right and superior to torch a school? How it's noble, right and superior to beat up defenceless people? Is that the mighty "white civilisation"? If so, can I please change my skin colour, as I want to belong to an actual CIVILISATION, not a bunch of cave-people who try and attack everything they grasp to understand. Dressing up in a suit and using fancy words on command does not hide the fact your brain is less advanced then the average surer rat. I hate to say it, but please go sit in your own concentration-camp you want to build for these people, wanna-be fascist. Obviously I don't really want these people dead, as everybody has a right to live. But I really do feel they are an embracement to the entire human race and a waste of the air we all breath. How primitive a species we are.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Death of the Pope

Pope I am neither a catholic, nor a Christian, or actually a believer of any faith. For me there exists no higher mysticisms, gods, or anything spiritual. As such I can not claim that I have any direct connection to the Pope. Over these last few days I have seen a lot of comments about his death from various people. From those full of praise, too those angry at anything religious and as such also at the Pope.

This behaviour always amazes me, how people swing to one extreme or the other when somebody dies. For some there is nothing but good about the dead, others use it to express their political views about world matters or to oust their own frustration.

Personally I found this Pope to be very contradictionary in what he did, from my point of view. But exceptionally consistent from what probably was his point of view. I believe he was exceptional in his quest for world-peace and understanding among the different faiths. The steps he took towards the Jewish community are in my view his greatest act.

The Church has throughout the centuries always promoted anti-Semitism, during most crusades more Jews where murdered in Europe by the troops on their way to the holy land then Muslims in the holy land itself. All church sponsored. As where the exclusion of Jews from being able to hold normal jobs, own land, etc. (forcing them into occupations like money lending). I also believe that the hatred for Jews during the Nazi time came directly from these centuries of hate the Church spew forth for Jews.

Considering this very tainted past of the Church, I think it was very brave of this Pope to apologise for this behaviour and seek to change the Church on this point. Breaking away with centuries of persecution was his greatest moment I believe. And with this of course also goes the dialogue he sought out with other faiths.

I can not stand behind his continues hate-mongering for gays, his exclusion of women from the church and how he unrealistically send millions to their death's by forbidding the use of condoms. While from his point of view abstaining would have also prevented the AIDS epidemic, it was not a realistic idea and as such I do feel he is in a large part responsible for this.

I do believe this Pope did everything based on what he thought was right. The horrible things caused by this I believe where as such un-intentional. I believe he did what he thought was good for this world and mankind. And I also think all he did was strongly guided by his faith. I also wish some other Christians *cough*bush*cough* would actually stick more truly to the teaching and follow the Pope when he said that war is only the last resort and that religion used as an excuse for war is against the direct teachings of any religion. Then again, Bush isn't a Catholic.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Scary democracy (follow-up of previous post)

Well it's official, those who claim to be democrats (D66) fear the democratic process. I guess the power was just to yummy to let go. So D66 can continue to stay puppets of CDA and VVD and apparently they like it. It's always interesting to see how small amount of power weaken spines and erodes principles.

Fake democracy by so called democrats (D66)

After watching a lot of the debate of one of the smaller government parties here in the Netherlands weather they should stay or leave the government (and as such causing the government to collapse) I keep wondering about one thing they keep saying: "It's in the interest of the country to stay in". Why exactly? Because all polls show that the current government is highly unpopular and they will lose power to the opposition? Why is this exactly bad?

This party claims to be mostly concerned with listening to the voters, giving power back to the voters. Yet their main argument at the moment can best be translated as "the voters are idiots, they will vote for the opposition, disagree with our policy and if we go from the government the voters will allow the opposition to rule and this is per definition bad for the country". Doesn't that go directly against they principles? Doesn't that show major arrogance?

Plus no offence dear D66 party, but this government has been the worst possible government The Netherlands has had in years and years. The current opposition would almost certainly do a better job. But really, keep kidding yourself that if you aren't in the government then the government by definition apparently is "bad for the country".

Mind you, they keep hammering on nonsense points anyway when it comes to listening to the voter. A chosen mayor and prime minister as they want sound all democratic. But if you do that, these people need a platform to run on. Our current mayors and prime minister don't have real power. They are in essence supposed to be the chairmen of the meetings and cabinet, etc. If you want to vote for them, then they need to have arguments why, this means they need power to implement this. As a mayor or prime minister is of 1 party this means you are un-democratising the government actually. Because you are giving 1 man, of 1 party power over the votes and real democratic elected people in the house of parliament and the city councils. They do represent voting equally, 1 man can never do this. As if 51% votes for him/her and 49% against then 49% of votes are ignored and cast aside. But with house of parliament and city councils it means the 49% is still represented. And the 1 man, the major or prime minister remains a formal role without direct power, mostly severing the actually democratically more representative bodies of state.