Heal the world

Imagine walking through the desert. It’s hot. You’re thirsty. You see something glistening in the sand… Is it water? A mirror? Is it your imagination playing tricks on you? No, it is actually your lucky day and you’ve just stumbled upon of those super rare genie bearing lamps! What were you doing out here in the desert anyhow and why are these things always found in the middle of nowhere? Nevermind… Quick quick, rub it and see how many wishes you’ve been granted….

POOF! A genie! But not just any genie… This one went to University! That’s Dr. Genie for you! And you get ONE wish. A very specific one too, it’s all in the small lettering at the bottom of the page, I assure you… The bill will be sent to you in a couple of weeks. Now please sign here…

The instructions: You may name any disease or ailment, physical or psychological and the world will be rid of it.

Such a precious wish. But it’s just the one, so you must choose wisely!

There are so many diseases cutting valuable lives short. So many wonderful people being taken from their loved ones. Sure, some of them are probably ass holes but they still didn’t deserve to die like that, right? According to this list the top ten deadliest diseases are:

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Still, I would not name any of these diseases to be annihilated because I am one of those horrible beings that believes people need to die at some point. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy losing people, I cry at funerals and hope those I love live as long and prosperly as possible. My dad has (had) at least three of the ailments from that top ten list and I’m glad they didn’t kill him (yet).

Making these diseases disappear will decrease mortality rates and only increase the world’s population. Sure, It will prevent some individual’s personal losses and hypothetical traumas. They will not thank me though. They will not value the no-longer-dying person more, nor will they make the most of the time they have just won. They probably never even knew their time was running short. And even if they did, you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone anyway. They might never value life like they would have if they’d had lost their mother, brother, father or child to that mortal disease.

Now that all of you think I am a horrible person I could go on and say that I wish to rid the world of hatred, or I could go full blown hypocrite and say that I will eradicate cynicism but I’m not here to troll.

The ailment that I wish to wipe out is depression. I’m sure some will say this doesn’t qualify as a disease, but I disagree. Seeing people I love suffer from depression is the worst thing. I have never been depressed myself and am quite certain I never will be touched by this dark demon but I do see its shadows in my environment every now and then. It’s horrible horrible horrible.

It’s a disease that doesn’t kill you, but makes being alive feel pointless. All the beauty of the world is lost to those suffering from it. No “I love you” ever enters their heart, no matter how often you say it. They still feel worthless and alone, no matter how tight you hug them. I hate that bloody disease and would ask the genie if I could give that wretched black mut of a dog one last kick in the balls before he blasts it off the planet.

Programming my sexual preference

Last Friday, while I was at the gym with one of my best friends we saw Louis Theroux pass by on one of the screens hanging around. It was the episode about pedophiles. We both agreed that all though these men were a danger to society, it must be horrible to be them.

Some of them come across as very regular (sane) men with deviant tendencies that makes it impossible for them to live among us. They are often ashamed of this themselves. Some (most?) have never acted on the fantasies they have and accept they are a danger to society. They hate themselves for feeling what they feel, very much like the Belgian prisoner I wrote about a while back on my other blog.

We philosofied about how these sexual preferences come to be. I said I couldn’t imagine that being sexually attracted to children was a feeling someone was born with, but must be caused by some trauma in their childhood, some sort of messed up imprint on their souls. My friend, -let’s call her Z,- disagreed and said she thought it was innate, just as homosexuality is.image

She asked me if I thought homosexuality could be cured through therapy and I was quick to shake my head. No, we agreed, homosexuality is not a disease. Then, playing the devil’s advocates, we wondered if having a history of abuse or molestation is more common among homosexuals and if so, if sexual predators are more attracted to these children because they were different from the start or if they changed because of this experience.

There have been many studies on the relation between homosexuality and child abuse and there does seem to be a correlation there. Politically incorrect as it may be, I then asked to what extent homosexuality could indeed be seen as nature or if there may be cases in which nurture played a role instead. I said I thought it was possible, Z disagreed.

She asked: Do you think therapy could turn me into a lesbian?

She reminded me she had had bad experiences with men in the past and no one would blame her for saying “no more dudes for me”. I think people can be persuaded into many things and most of all love. I told her I thought it was possible, only that this would not be called therapy, but brainwashing…

She asked: What’s the difference?

imageHoly crap… What IS the difference? All therapy is based on a theory and always aimed at influencing the mind. We like to think there is a place called “sanity” and therapy brings you back to this place if for some reason or other you have lost touched with it. But try defining sanity! Is sanity the same as normalcy? If so, I know there are people who’s definition of sanity I absolutely do not accept.

Normal is defined by what is “the norm”. Normal is what the majority thinks, feels and does. Normal is average.

Sane behavior is what we as a society find acceptable or desirable. Sane behavior is controlled behavior. If you decide to jump in the water fountain and take your clothes off, this is considered to be unwanted behavior. It does not mean you are insane though.

imageIt may just mean you are rebellious and want to go against the main stream and the society you are expected to be a part of.

I’m sure some of you might think I’m delusional myself after reading the above. Others may just see it as untactical or ignorant. Maybe my ideas are just incomplete or maybe I’ve been totally misinformed. I blame it on my brainwashing cycle.

How have you been programmed to think?

Men are funnier than women

Isn’t that just a wonderful thing to say? I have no idea who William James was, or if he had a last name at all, but I like him already… I totally agree! Or not, because I must admit sometimes I lean abit towards the bizar with my sense of humor; the hysterically absurd if you will. Some might prefer to call it retarded or obscene. I don’t care, as long as it makes me chuckle.

Earlier this month I read a blog that touched the subject of humor, something I find extremely important. Being a woman however, I do know that I can’t get away with everything in this respect. This specific blog even went so far as to say that being funny might influence my chance of reproducing (long story short and very much simplified, for the full story do check out the original blog on Evolutionist X)

I must confess I don’t particularly like watching female comedians myself. I’m sure the ladies on stage are extremely funny to be around and great company on a night out, but as comedians they always seem to either try too hard or completely miss the mark. Or both.

Many comedians thrive on jokes at their own expense. So Eddy Murphy and Chris Rock make jokes about black people, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart make jokes about jews, Tim Minchin and Conan O’Brien make jokes about gingers. They touch taboos, say things we may have thought at some point but didn’t dare say because of its political incorrectness.

So yes, female comedians make jokes about women but for some reason, I just don’t find that amusing for very long. Why not? Is it because all taboos surrounding women have already been busted open? Does nothing women do or say shock us anymore? Are pussy jokes getting old, stale and unoriginal? Or is it because I find many jokeworthy traits women have extremely annoying in real life? I can’t put my finger on it!

SO, are men indeed funnier than woman? Hell no! They just don’t do well on stage, for some reason (all though they are getting better lately). The best jokes are the spontaneous, quick and clever ones in my opinion anyway, so to hell with stand up comedy. Humor is the biggest turn on in the world and I don’t buy for a second that men don’t find that attractive in women.

Sure, I know funny women (especially the sarcastic ones) may be considered “a bit much” by some. I also happen to know some men absolutely hate being verbally outgunned  (which makes it that much more amusing to do, if the right crowd is there to witness it) and some prefer the doe-eyed giggly kind of girl. That’s totally fine, to each their own.

Mission Impossible – Cocoa protocol

choco protocol

Have you every heard of the Harkin-Engel protocol before? It is often referred to as the cocoa protocol. Never heard of it? Me either, even though it involves the world’s favorite snack: chocolate.

This protocol is “an international agreement aimed at ending the worst forms of child labor and forced labor in the production of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate”, according to wikipedia. The two initiators of this agreement were Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Eliot Engel. The protocol was signed in September 2001.

choco childlabour

In 2004 investigative journalist from the Dutch TV program “Keuringsdienst van Waarde” found out that non of the major chocolate producers were complying with the rules formulated in the agreement. As they themselves were regular chocolate consumers, they feared they might be contributing to the problem. One of the journalists, Teun van de Keuken, then ate one more chocolate bar and then turned himself in, confessing he was a knowing accessory to child slavery.

The indictment was not accepted by the court of law after which they appealed to a higher court to reconsider. This drew great media attention to their case and re-opened the discussion about slavery and especially the exploitation of children in the cacao sector. In the end, Teun van de Keuken was not convicted due to lack of evidence.

This was not the end of it though… Teun realized he couldn’t beat them, so decided he should join them instead. So that’s what he did. He started his own brand of chocolate, guaranteed to be slavery-free, and named it Tony’s Chocolonely.

Ofcourse they were sued by other chocolate companies stating they couldn’t guarantee their chocolate was 100% child labor free either. In 2007 a Dutch judge decided in favor of Tony’s Chocolonely and stated they had demonstrated sufficiently they their chocolate was indeed being produced without slavery or child labor playing a role.

And the best part is that Tony’s chocolate bars are really tasty! They started out with only milk and dark varieties but have expanded their selection in recent years, now including:

The classics:

  • melk (milk)
  • puur (dark)
  • melk hazelnoot (milk hazelnut)
  • melk noga (milk nougat)
  • melk caramel zeezout (milk caramel sea salt)

The exclusives:

  • melk coffee crunch (milk coffee crunch)
  • puur meringue kers (dark meringue cherry)
  • puur sinaasappel rozemarijn (dark orange rosemary)

Special editions:

  • melk pecan marshmallow (no translation needed)
  • melk rabarber crumble  (milk rubarb crumble)

The ones that are written in chocolate are the ones I have already tried. My favorite is the one with caramel and sea salt. I actually just opened a bar of milk pecan coco, which is a special edition from a previous month and it’s pretty darn good. Not as coconutty as I would’ve thought, but real nice. And guilt free! 😀

Movie yays and boos

You know how, back in the days when people still used to buy these things, guests would stroll over to the cabinet with all the CDs and DVDs and rate your taste? It says so much about a person, don’t you think? I’ve written blogs about my musical preferences in the past, so it’s time to reveal where I stand on a filmographic scale. It was really hard to limit these two lists to just ten movies but I managed, in the end.

thumbs up

All though the thumbs-up-list was much longer than the thumbs-down-list a couple of minutes ago, I managed to bring it back to ten, with pain in my heart. The movies that survived the cuts are all movies that I recommend to anyone. They’re not the best or most complex movies I’ve ever seen but I could definitely re-watch any of these on any giving moment for the ten millionth time and not mind for a second.

I will give every movie three key words to illustrate my affection for them.

  1. Snatch
    hilarious, quotable, interesting
  2. American History X
    confronting, intense, thought provoking
  3. the Mexican
    odd, light-hearted, amusing
  4. The Dark Knight
    dark, troubled, awesome
  5. Hotel Rwanda
    tear jerking (only movie that ever accomplished that with me), important, full of love
  6. Finding Nemo
    Deep 😉 , inspiring, beautiful animation
  7. La Vita e Bella
    unique approach of WWII theme, motivating, heart warming
  8. Shrek
    Fun, amusing, clever
  9. Sleepers
    captivating, gruesome, stirring
  10. Collateral
    Surprising(ly good acting), entertaining, uncomplicated

thumbs down

The next ones are pretty bad, all though I still think I owe a special shout out to every movie ever made starring Steven Seagal… Let’s bowe our heads in sorrow for all those mistakes and hope they some day stop being aired on TV.

I’m afraid I can’t summarize in 3 words how and why these movies are so bad, but I’ll try to be brief.

  1. From Paris with love
    Oh John… I never even gave the rumors about your alleged homosexuality any thought until this movie came along. You tried so hard to be manly and bad-ass and failed so terribly horribly miserably.
  2. Saving Private Ryan
    Did we REALLY go to this much trouble to retrieve one insignificant dude from behind enemy lines? Just to save one random mother from any more grief? I.just.don’t.get.it.
  3. the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    I like Sean Connery, but wtf was this? I’m even into superhero stuff, but this was such a weak attempt that it failed in all senses. A pity, because it did have potential, imo.
  4. Lost in Translation
    Slow, boring, overrated. I want to say how much I hate Scarlett Johansen’s acting (in general, not just in this flick), but I know how guys get when I say that, so I’ll just leave it… 😛
  5. World War Z
    Apparently zombies are hot & happening, and I was prepared to embrace this fact, as I thought Brad knew his way around the undead since his stint with the vampires twenty years ago (!), but boy was I wrong. This was just disappointing, predictable and boring.
  6. Seven Pounds
    Watching Will Smith being depressed for 123 minutes is not my idea of fun. It’s a total downer. No happy ending or nothing. It doesn’t suit you, Will. I like you funny.
  7. Gran Torino
    This wasn’t even a disappointment as I kind of knew it might suck but I also kind of hoped Clint had one more good movie in him… but nope… just meh.
  8. Crash
    I actually don’t hate this movie. I actually was quite impressed with it, I just never want to watch it again as it plummeted my faith in humanity down to an all time low. I don’t need that kind of truth. I am cynical enough as it is.
  9. Pitch Perfect
    Beside the fact that the story was uninteresting, boring and predictable, the singing wasn’t particularly inspiring either. Can’t think of any good reasons to watch this again in my life.
  10. Indiana Jones – Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    All though I’ve put this movie on nr ten, it definitely doesn’t mean it’s the least bad of all of them. It’s actually the only one that actually made me angry, because I was actually looking forward to it. I wanted it to be AWESOME. I craved for another Indiana Jones movie. Bad special effects are totally OK. A little self-mockery is fine too… but this was really truly an insult to everyone. This should never have happened and I regret having spent money on it. Shame on you, Harrison, but most of all you, STEVEN SPIELBERG!

Sail 2015

Today was the last day of the quinquennial (it means once every five years, I looked it up 😉 ) event SAIL in Amsterdam.

More than 40 impressive tall ships and several historical and monumental ships with interesting stories to tell entered in an awe inspiring parade and have been on display the last couple of days. Yesterday, the royal family arrived in their own sail boat, called the Groene Draeck (the green dragon) for the final day of the event.

I was lucky enough to be invited by some friends who happen to be journalists for a boating show and magazine and had a small boat for the week and some time to spend with friends in between. After a small tour over our capital’s canals, we entered the harbor area. Teije, one of the journalists in my company, knew a lot about the history and legacy of the boats and told me about them as we passed them by.

One of the shiniest boats around turned out to have quite a tainted past: the Chilean navy ship Esmeralda. As “one of the most controversial ship present”, not everyone was ready to welcome it into the harbor with open arms, according to Teije, as it has supposedly been used during Pinochet’s dictatorship to question and torture political prisoners. Despite the ugly reputation, she’s still quite a looker though:

And then there was the world’s largest sailing vessel made completely from wood, the Götheborg. It even smelled different, passing it by! An amazing piece of craftmanship, pun intended!


Another unique boat at the event, easy to overlook between all the shiny giants, was another wooden ship, the Nao Victoria. It was Teije’s personal favorite as it spoke to his boyish dreams of sailing around the world. This boat was a replica of the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world in an expedition led by Ferdinand Magellan. The expedition began with five ships but the Victoria was the only ship to complete the voyage. Even Magellan didn’t make it back. I must admit I wasn’t able to take any decent pic of this one, as I didn’t get the right angle from the little boat I was in. So thanks to google, you do get a small impression:

And to finish things up, I thought I’d include the ship named after the city it all took place in this year, the city of Amsterdam:

Ahoy, everyone!

Lyrical confusion

Once again, I am behind on schedule. I have missed out on some blogging deadlines (placed there by nobody other than myself, which made them that much easier to break). My inspiration is running a bit dry so this blog is going to be a pretty simple one.

One of the lists I have been adding items to lately on Wunderlist, is one about songs with confusing lyrics.

For example, the song Boy with a Coin. Beautiful song with a beautiful but totally unrelated (as far as I can tell) video.

I sort of get the first verse, but then he starts changing the iron:wine ratio, it seems and goes full on delirium when he sings:

A girl with a bird she found in the snow
Then flew up her gown and that’s how she knows
If God made her eyes for crying at birth
Then left the ground to circle the earth

I guess the bird is some sort of sexual metaphor? Symbol of her virginity? If so, I would imagine the bird would be flying OUT from under her gown and abandoning her forever, as she apparently becomes pregnant?

Someone who DOES know about contraceptives is Alanis Morisette, or at least that is what I thought the “jagged little pill” she dedicated her album to referred to. Thinking on it a bit harder and listening to the song that these words actually come from, it might actually refer to some sort of hallucinogenic drug, but it’s open to interpretation….

But that’s not the song I wanted to mention here anyway. The lyrical confusion I wanted to share comes from one of my favorite songs by her, which is “Not the doctor”. I won’t post the whole song here, but you can check it out on youtube. The part I have always wondered about goes like this:

Visiting hours are 9 to 5 and if I show up at 10 past 6
Well I already know that you’d find some way to sneak me in and oh
Mind the empty bottle with the holes along the bottom
You see it’s too much to ask for and I am not the doctor

What’s this bottle with holes along the bottom?? Can’t think of any medicine or drug that comes in a bottle with holes along the bottom… I have even asked doctors this question… and if it’s a metaphor, than what does it symbolize?? Anyone?

Another song that always leaves me in this bundle of confusion is this song by Nelly Furtado (but written by Chris Martin, if I remember correctly) is “All good things (come to an end)”. Again, the videoclip is totally unrelated to the lyrics and kind of weird all together, but it kind of fits because:

Dogs were whistling a new tune barking at the new moon
Hoping it would come soon so that they could die

That’s some pretty depressive stuff, don’t you think? So your breakup was so heavy that even the dog wants to kill himself now?? Geesh!

And this isn’t the first time Chris Martin’s lyrics confused me…. All though I have almost all Coldplay records and listened to them fanatically in high school, I always skipped this one weird song: Yellow. I don’t get it!!

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.

OK, nothing weird there. Stars can totally be yellow, right? And they’re shining for me, yeah! But then it gets weird:

I came along,

I wrote a song for you,

And all the things you do,

And it was called “Yellow”.

What did I do? and who or what was called yellow? No comprendo!

So then I took my turn,
Oh what a thing to have done,
And it was all yellow.

Did you drop a can of paint maybe? or did you squish a banana? Did life give you lemons? eggs? corn? sunflowers?

I swam across,
I jumped across for you,
Oh what a thing to do.
‘Cause you were all yellow,

Ok, I get it…… You’re talking about the minions movie now, right?

I drew a line,
I drew a line for you,
Oh what a thing to do,
And it was all yellow.

Did you use a yellow marker to draw the line? Yellow chalk? And why did you draw a line anyhow? Chris be honest…. are you high?

If any one of you out there has any ideas about these lyrics, do enlighten me… And if you know any other confusing songs, do share! 🙂

Next stop: piano music

Classical music is something I never totally learned to appreciate. I can’t put the right composer with the right tune and know very little about instruments. Besides the fact that it just wasn’t really included in my upbringing, it requires a certain amount of patience that I just don’t seem to have.

Every now and then when I’m making a long journey by car I may switch past a classical music station and linger for a couple of minutes, especially if it’s a hectic part of the route and the tune is chilled out. Even though I do enjoy these moments, in the end I always switch back to more mainstream channels.

image

A phenomenon that has slowly been creeping into public spaces in Holland (and I’m sure elsewhere as well) are pianos. They are popping up on trainstations and I must admit I absolutely love it!

It’s really interesting to sit and watch what happens around these pianos. Not just for the musical moments that spontaneously erupt but it’s also really fascinating from a behavioral / anthropological / psychological point of view.

People stop and sit down within hearing distance, but without getting too close. Are they avoiding contact or are they merely choosing a careful approach, to not startle the musician? I can imagine the person playing must feel very self-conscious anyhow, displaying their skills in such a public space. And then after the first person has given it a try, and has played some small melody, more people often follow. It’s really all very interesting to watch. These areas become bubbles of peace in rush hour chaos.

In the Hague it is often an extra treat as the players sometimes turn out to be very talented musicians, as the academy of music is situated nearby. I made a couple of videos of dudes playing pianos there in the last couple of weeks but to my own frustration the format of the videos on my phone are not  being accepted by wordpress…. I hope to convert them later on, but luckily I did find a video of the exact piano on the Hague Central I walk past every day with a perfect illustration of what I mean:

As you see, they are all sorts of people and it just really changes the mood of the place. Isn’t it wonderful?

And somewhat related is this youtube video I’d like to share, that stole my heart a couple of years back:

And then there is the homeless guy that went viral a while back with his rendition of “Come sail away”  by Styx.

So I guess, even a classical music knucklehead as myself can learn to appreciate the genre this way. I applaud the talent of those brave enough to change the mood of such a hectic space. I thank them for this and realize now that I should show them my appreciation next time they stop me in my tracks with their nutritional music.

And I guess I owe some governmental organization a big thank you as well, for making this possible and providing our public spaces with these pianos. Bedankt!

Doing nothing

This blog is a response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Nothin’ But A Good Time.”, which read:

Imagine that tomorrow, all of your duties and obligations evaporate for the day. You get the day all to yourself, to do anything you please. What types of fun activities would make your day?

This should be easy, but for some reason it’s really hard! Why is that?

  • It’s just one day and many things that I really really want to do require more time than that. Even if the activity itself doesn’t take up so much time, I’d rather do it if I have a day or two extra to recover / prepare.
  • I have many things on my to do list I would like to tick, but they could be considered to be duties and obligations and aren’t particularly “fun”, so they don’t count in this hypothetical situation.
  • There is so much to choose from that I’d almost rather not choose at all.

What I would probably end up doing is nothing, firstly because it is something I actually love doing and secondly because I am actually very good at it. Lastly I think I would do absolutely nothing because I suck at making decisions and I sometimes just freeze up in the face of too many options and end up not choosing at all, which results in well… me doing nothing.

Adam’s ex

Lilith_(John_Collier_painting)As the first girl to be born in the family, I was named after the first ever woman. Or so I thought until some years ago.  Apparently there is a story about Adam’s first girlfriend, when Eve was still a twinkle in Adam’s rib, called Lilith.

I first heard this story about a year ago and was shocked that I had lived so long pretending to know the creation narrative and had never stumbled upon this footnote. According to an article by Dr. Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe of Sweet Briar College it is explained in a 13th century Kabbalah text that:

“At the same time Jehovah created Adam, he created a woman, Lilith, who like Adam was taken from the earth. She was given to Adam as his wife. But there was a dispute between them about a matter that when it came before the judges had to be discussed behind closed doors. She spoke the unspeakable name of Jehovah and vanished.”

In the Alpha Betha of Ben Sira (Alphabetum Siracidis, or Sepher Ben Sira), an anonymous collection of midrashic proverbs probably compiled in the 11th century C.E., it is explained more explicitly that the conflict arose because Adam, as a way of asserting his authority over Lilith, insisted that she lie beneath him during sexual intercourse (23 A-B). Lilith, however, considering herself to be Adam’s equal, refused, and after pronouncing the Ineffable Name (i.e. the magic name of God) flew off into the air.lilith comic

So apparently, Lilith was not only the first woman, she was also the first feminist and even in the garden of eden they were like “woah lady, you are totally out of line!”, and then she vanished? So Adam was some kind of maffioso that makes people that challenge him disappear? Or was it the Almighty himself? Who knew the holy scriptures were such a thriller to read!

All though according to this article by Ariela Pelaia her disappearance went a bit like this:

She uttered God’s name and flew into the air, leaving Adam alone in the Garden of Eden. God sent three angels after her and commanded them to bring her back to her husband by force if she would not come willingly. But when the angels found her by the Red Sea they were unable to convince her to return and could not force her to obey them.  Eventually a strange deal is struck, wherein Lilith promised not to harm newborn children if they are protected by an amulet with the names of the three angels written on it.

So after this unrestrained woman was shown to the exit and demonized in the most literal sense you could possibly think of, Eve was created. But this time not from the same divine play-doh Adam was made of because that would only make her think she had the same rights and inconvenient things like that… So instead, God molded a woman from Adam’s rib to emphasize she was a part of him and equality was out of the question. Much more manageable…

Pretty freaky story, no? I actually feel a lot of sympathy for this Lilith girl. She sounds opinionated, strong and independent. She knows what she wants and likes experimenting with new things.

Shouldn’t a day be dedicated to her or something? A day on which we celebrate the breaking of taboos, unfettered behavior and sexual emancipation. Sounds like a useful day to me!