gamiila: (epic fail)
Santorum, Feb. 3:"In the Netherlands people wear a different bracelet if you're elderly and the bracelet is 'do not euthanize me.' Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands, but half the people who are euthanized every year, and it's 10 percent of all deaths for the Netherlands, half of those people are euthanized involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so elderly people in the Netherlands don't go to the hospital, they go to another country, because they are afraid, because of budget purposes, that they will not come out of that hospital if they go in with sickness."

One doesn't have to be a lying scumbag to get ahead in politics, but in the US, one presidential hopeful seems to think it helps.

Civic duty

Mar. 2nd, 2011 08:23 pm
gamiila: (who's there?)
Phew! Made it to the polling station with minutes to spare, as once again I'd almost forgotten that it was time to vote. Not Parliament, this time, but Provincial States (and indirectly, Senate, as the PS elect the members for what we call the Eerste Kamer or 'First Chamber' which more or less equates to a Senate in other countries). Be interesting to see what the turn-out will have been and whether the opposition parties will have won the day; in which case the detested liberal minority coalition government (detested because it has to rely on Geert Wilder's party's support in Parliament to stay in power) will soon not be able to get its legislation (cuts, cuts, more cuts, changes to employment law and xenophobic measures) through.

Very nearly managed to get myself killed this afternoon, when -after a remark from my driving instructor that he needed to see me looking- in casting a look over my shoulder I accidentally turned the wheel in that direction, too. Note to self: practise moving head and shoulders independently from arms and hands.
gamiila: (magical)
Well...I don't know about moving there, but I certainly would like to visit Iceland.

I first became curious about Iceland when as a child of about 7 or 8, I heard tell in school of the Norwegian/Icelandic explorers/adventurers Erik the Red, who settled Greenland, and his son Leif Eriksson, who was said to have discovered Vinland. Then, while I was in secondary school, I met a girl who'd actually been born and lived there until her parents divorced and her mother took her back with her to her own native country, The Netherlands. The stories she told me of her father's country fired my imagination and instilled in me the longing to go there and look around for myself one day. But it's been 30 years and I still haven't gone...

I have been to Egypt though, became masriyya through marriage, and I don't know what to make of the 'revolution' that got rid of Mubarak earlier in the week. Traditionally as well as practically, Arab nations aren't familiar with the concept of democracy; and from what I know of the Egyptians, most of them have other, more important things to worry about than what form their government should take. 30% of the population can neither read nor write, and 60% live on or just above the breadline. Corruption is everywhere. With Mubarak out of the way, and the Military High Council in charge, I don't see that there is really going to be a fundamental change in the short term...and in the long term, who knows?

the rest of the days )
gamiila: (eleven)
After 4 months of negotiations, it looks like we willl shortly have a new government: a minority coalition between the Liberal and the Christian-Democrat parties with parliamentary support from the PVV, Geert Wilders's anti-Islam party, which won 24 seats in the last election. It's not a combination I support, but I take comfort from the fact that our coalition governments rarely last their full term of 4 years.

Speaking of Geert Wilders, today was the first day of him being on trial for inciting hatred through his comments that the Qur'an is a 'fascistoidic document as pernicious as Mein Kampf' and ought to be banned in The Netherlands the same as that book is. Which I believe is currently the only book in The Netherlands that has that status. It can't be bought, sold or imported without committing a crime. I'm not sure I agree with this kind of censorship, but dura lex, sed lex, as the saying goes. Personally, I know only one person who has read it and keeps it in her library; a Jewish friend of mine who inherited it from her grandfather, who purchased it in the thirties in a bid to find out what the Nazis wanted. She tells me it's quite interesting, but it sounds quite dull to me so I won't waste my time borrowing it.

Anyway, I was amazed to find out that Geert Wilders's trial was broadcast live on television this morning; and I expect will be for the duration of it, though I don't expect there will be any new revelations as Mr. Wilders has read out a short statement to say that on the advice of his counsellor, he will not be answering any of the judges' or the prosecutor's questions. Thereafter, he did keep schtumm for the 5 more minutes I continued to watch before deciding my time would be better spent cleaning the oven, which I did.

Day 10 of the 30 Day Movie Meme brings you a movie I thought I wouldn't like but ended up loving instead:

Apocalypto )

I don't know why but when it first came out, I didn't think this film could be any good. But I was wrong. It's a cinematographic dream that tells a good story and is packed full of action and drama, and it's as far from the romantic idea of the noble savage who only lacks Christianity and civilisation brought to them from the West in order to be saved as can be. 'Cause I was sort of worried that with a director like Mel Gibson, that might come into it at some level.

the rest of the days )
gamiila: (Eleven)
After 4 months of negotiations, it looks like we willl shortly have a new government: a minority coalition between the Liberal and the Christian-Democrat parties with parliamentary support from the PVV, Geert Wilders's anti-Islam party, which won 24 seats in the last election. It's not a combination I support, but I take comfort from the fact that our coalition governments rarely last their full term of 4 years.

Speaking of Geert Wilders, today was the first day of him being on trial for inciting hatred through his comments that the Qur'an is a 'fascistoidic document as pernicious as Mein Kampf' and ought to be banned in The Netherlands the same as that book is. Which I believe is currently the only book in The Netherlands that has that status. It can't be bought, sold or imported without committing a crime. I'm not sure I agree with this kind of censorship, but dura lex, sed lex, as the saying goes. Personally, I know only one person who has read it and keeps it in her library; a Jewish friend of mine who inherited it from her grandfather, who purchased it in the thirties in a bid to find out what the Nazis wanted. She tells me it's quite interesting, but it sounds quite dull to me so I won't waste my time borrowing it.

Anyway, I was amazed to find out that Geert Wilders's trial was broadcast live on television this morning; and I expect will be for the duration of it, though I don't expect there will be any new revelations as Mr. Wilders has read out a short statement to say that on the advice of his counsellor, he will not be answering any of the judges' or the prosecutor's questions. Thereafter, he did keep schtumm for the 5 more minutes I continued to watch before deciding my time would be better spent cleaning the oven, which I did.

Day 10 of the 30 Day Movie Meme brings you a movie I thought I wouldn't like but ended up loving instead:

Apocalypto )

I don't know why but when it first came out, I didn't think this film could be any good. But I was wrong. It's a cinematographic dream that tells a good story and is packed full of action and drama, and it's as far from the romantic idea of the noble savage who only lacks Christianity and civilisation brought to them from the West in order to be saved as can be. 'Cause I was sort of worried that with a director like Mel Gibson, that might come into it at some level.

the rest of the days )
gamiila: (Default)
Looks like it's going to be another late night - curiosity got the better of me and I waited to see some of the preliminary results of today's voting in the general election. I might as well not have bothered as currently only about 3% of the votes have been counted (up until the last election we used computers to cast our votes, but this year we've gone back to red pencils and ballot papers because of some security breach scare, I suppose). So all I've got for my staying up past my usual bedtime is the news that Balkenende has thrown in the towel and has stepped down as leader of the Christian Democrats, and in so doing has stepped down as PM as well. He's led 4 coalition governments over the last 8 years, none of which have managed to sit out their full 4 year term; so I say it's time he'd let someone else have a go, and if the exit polls are anything to go by, it will be someone from a different party in charge come the autumn.

Anyway, back to meming:

Day 8: A song you liked when you were younger

For this one, I'm going to go back to the very beginning, or 1970. My 8th birthday was coming up and for the first time, what I wanted more than toy trains or scooters, was my very own album. Up until then, my mum's record collection consisting of c&w, jazz and a few light classical albums, had sufficed; but I'd discovered Cliff Richard on the radio when I was 6, and now I wanted nothing so much as to have my own music to listen to whenever I felt like it. So top of my birthday wishlist that year was a Cliff Richard album, that I stipulated had to have a few very specific songs on it, of which The Day I Met Marie was one. It took my Dad several days of driving up and down the country stopping in at every record shop on the way, but he managed to get me that album that I treasured for years, until it broke in a house move in 1974.



And, by the way, the songs I liked when I was younger are the songs I still like today.

the rest of the days )
gamiila: (Default)
Well, I've gone and done my civic duty and cast my vote in the General Election. As I hadn't decided yet which party to vote for, I did an online vote match this morning, only to find that the party whose programme seemed most closely aligned to my own ideas wasn't actually on the list...which means they probably failed the so-called 'kiesdrempel' (voting threshold, a fixed number of signatures any party is required to obtain before being allowed to participate). And so I defaulted to the name that was within easiest reach of the furthest the red-pencil-on-a-string would stretch to without me having to shift the ballot paper around, which I didn't want to do in case I gave an inkling of what I might have voted to people waiting in line behind me, because there was no curtain to the booth! I'm definitely going to put in a complaint about that, as I didn't feel my privacy was being protected.

Now we'll just have to wait several hours for the results, and several months before a new coalition government will be ready to begin work after the summer recess. If only our lot could take a leaf out of the UK 'How To Form A Coalition Government In Less Than A Week'-book!

And YAY! it looks like we're going to have another Where I Live Day! I can't believe the last time has been over 2 years ago. Check out [livejournal.com profile] wild_photos for the details.
gamiila: (Default)
I hate how the developments in UK politics over the last 24 hours are wreaking havoc with my viewing habits. No EastEnders yesterday, and no Homes Under The Hammer this morning. Instead I was treated to an unchanging view of David Cameron's front door for an hour. Then my expat friend Allan rang to rage against Nick Clegg, "the betrayer", and how as a life-long Labour supporter he was now sure that Britain was "going to suffer" under an "Etonian PM" who is "clueless" and that the British public would never vote in favour of PR in an eventual referendum because Rupert Murdoch ("he's an Australian, you know") and The Sun would never let them; until I pointed out to him that he had no grounds for complaint since he'd thought it too much of a hassle to register to vote this time. Besides, a week or two ago, he said that if he had made sure he could, he would have voted LibDem this time, specifically because living in Europe had made him aware of the advantages of fixed term parliaments and PR, so what was his gripe exactly? After which he accused me of being a closet Conservative and put the phone down on me.

I am no closet Conservative. My political views, in The Netherlands and in Europe, swing to the left, and always have done. But I do think that now the Tories and the LibDems have got into bed together, they should be given a fair chance to make the experiment work. Coalition government is all about compromise, but as soon as either party thinks its being asked to go a compromise too far, it can break up the partnership and the country can go back to the ballot box and elect a new parliament, so why should the prevailing view of it in the UK be so negative? As inhabitant of a country where multi-party coalition government is the norm, I really can't see what all the fuss is about, to be honest.

I got a call from the CAD Business Controller last night, telling me how the CEO and the COO are still angry about The Biatch's actions in refusing me a permanent position. Well, if that's true, then why won't they do anything about it, I wonder? At the end of the conversation, I realised that I really couldn't care less anymore.
gamiila: (Default)
I thought I knew what party would get my precious vote right up till election eve...then I logged on to the Internet for an 'independent advice', and got quite a surprise. After careful analysis of my political ideas and preferences, I did get a 47% score in favour of the party I had thought to support -- but I also 47% score in favour of another party that I hadn't considered at all. So I looked at the breakdown and found that the party-that-would-have-gotten-my-vote-if-I-hadn't-checked-and-compared-their-programme-to-that-of-other-parties-on-the-Internet and I had a fundamental difference of opinion on one issue: that of whether it would be permissable or expedient to waive some of our civil rights in the interest of greater security. 'Yes', said the party I had been considering until then; 'no' said I. And 'no' said the party I eventually voted for, too.

I looked a bit closer at all the other parties stand on this issue too, and was shocked to discover that a large majority are in agreement: they're all (and this includes the 3 largest parties in the land) quite willing to trade off our civil rights and liberties if it will help them push through ad hoc security measures to combat what they perceive as the present (islamic) terrorist threat. And I am vehemently opposed to this idea.

The party I voted for now has 2 seats in the House. They came out of nowhere and did very well for a new party, and I hope they'll achieve their primary objective of better legislation for the protection of animals -- even if I did vote for them dressed in my fur coat (but hey! it was cold outside).

There's another party that came out of nowhere and did very well for itself in the elections, but I'm far less pleased about their arrival on the political scene. Why did so many of my fellow countrymen give their vote to the right-wing xenophobic inappropriately named Freedom Party? What possessed them? What is this nationwide obsession with 'security' in recent years? I don't understand it. I live in this country, yet I've never felt under threat from terrorism despite having lived most of my life in a town where the IRA blew a hole in an embassy building once, and having had to go the long way round to get to a certain part of town because the area around the American embassy has been cordonned off for 5 or 6 years now (wish they'd bloody move to the outskirts so we could get our Voorhout back sooner rather than later).

And I'm not afraid of islamic fundamentalists. I have a firm belief that our own Western humanist culture is strong enough in itself to withstand the occasional attacks of these or any other ideological madmen, without giving up any of the liberties that define it.
gamiila: (Default)
We'll be going to the polling booth again this coming week. About the only person I know who's excited about the prospect is my nephew Mick, who turned 18 this summer and has therefore become of voting age. The campaigning has been utterly lacklustre and uninspired, all parties basically focusing on and promising the same: no extra taxation on mortgages, no change to the current old age pension even if it's becoming far too costly for the present working population to sustain and more security measures. Even now, when you'd think they'd have better things to worry about, the cabinet is rushing through a bill to ban the burqa. I'm sorry, but I've never even seen a burqa in the streets of my hometown, and I daresay it's not a common sight in any of our other towns and villages, either! Meanwhile, no attention's being paid at all to 'Europe' (since the Dutch people returned a resounding no to the proposed European constitution a year and a half ago, the issue's been dropped like the proverbial hot potato by all our country's politicians and political parties), the environment, or water management (if we fail to perform a proper maintenance to the dykes that keep our feet dry, we won't have to worry about paying out too many old age pensions soon). And don't even get me started on the lack of investment in the educational system. Holland is dumbing down, and it's dumbing down at an appalling rate. All our truly talented people leave; we have a number of Nobel prize winners in the exact sciences, but all but one of them lives and teaches abroad. So excuse me if I no longer care what party wins the elections or who's likely to be the next prime minister. They're all the same and things won't get any better -- if we're lucky, they won't get any worse either, and we'll just keep chugging along as we have for the last decade.

Amazon's delivered my accidental purchase of the complete collection of the later 90s/early 00s dramedy series Cold Feet to my door, and I'm just as captivated by it as I was when it was still on air. But it is a bit strange, yet fun, to see that even if it's been just a few years since this was contemporary drama, there are some things dating it already. Take mobile phones for instance. Relatively rare in 1997/8 when the series began, and people asked to borrow someone's phone because in a group of six, only one person had one...one person moreover, who felt he had to justify the purchase of it by referring to the fact that his wife was heavily pregnant. And then the phone itself! Were they ever really that big? I mean, by this time, they'd already shrunk to hand-size, but nowadays, they're far smaller, and the heavy black rectangle featured in this first season looks huge in comparison.

I was going to try and create another icon this weekend, but I'm stumped: I don't know where to get any good pics from, and I'm not even sure what I'm looking for, so I've decided not to bother.

Quote by Nikita Krushev
gamiila: (Default)
Woke up in cat pee again this morning. That's the second time this week I've had to start the day (at 4:45 am, I might add) scrubbing and airing out the mattress. I suppose I should accept the fact that under the circumstances, it's probably not a good idea to insist Leila sleep in my bed.

Remember I told you I'd come across an opening for an operational agent a spy? Well, now I've found one for a spymaster! I kid you not: they call it an Intelligence Officer these days. I'm strangely drawn to apply. Would a predilection for shiny green footwear be considered too much of a risk in a Secret Service employee?

I received notification that I've paid back my student loan in full. That only took me what? 10 years? Wow. I would have been happier if I hadn't received notification in the same post, that I still had a whopping great chunk of council tax outstanding. I thought I'd paid that already? Huh.

Last week, the postie brought my poll card for the referendum on the European Constitution, and I promptly lost it. I wouldn't mind -- if the whole European Union, European Parliament and European legislation-package would disappear tomorrow, it would hardly register with me. But although I can think of better ways of spending my time than to struggle through 400+ pages of legalese in an effort to form an informed opinion, I feel as if this time, I should make the effort; if only to avoid unpleasant surprises later. Though why they bother with a referendum is beyond me: there is no basis for one in our laws, and on those rare occasions that 'Europe' has allowed referenda to take place before, if the outcome didn't suit Brussels, they held another one again to turn the people's No into a Yes (remember Denmark and the euro?).

I'm getting steadily more wary of Europe. It seemed like a good idea in the 50s, 60s and 70s; and with the territory no bigger than the Benelux and later, Western Europe as a whole, it was also quite easy to comprehend and support. Now though, with the influx of poverty-stricken Eastern European countries where democracies are new and shaky, I'm not sure where this will lead us -- and it irks me that petty arguments between nations can keep a strategically important country like Turkey, which meets most of the criteria for joining out, while at the same time our borders are opened to all the flotsam and jetsam of the former Soviet Union and its satellites, that meet none of the criteria at present and will be bloody lucky if they'll do within the decade. Also, since Germany and France seem to make up the rules as they go along in most cases, the question remains whether there is any real validity to the ideal of a united Europe. Besides, who wants a Europe where we all march to the same beat, anyway? I think Tarantino said it best when he scripted (in Pulp Fiction):

VINCENT: But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
JULES: What?
VINCENT: It's the little differences.

I'd hate for things to become the same all over.

Mad world

Nov. 4th, 2004 02:36 pm
gamiila: (Default)
Still no Internet at home...why does it have to take so long? I wish I knew...:-(

Of course, I would have liked to have seen John Kerry win the US presidential elections. If he had, we might have seen some results on the Kyoto agreement sooner rather than later, and more of an opportunity for dialogue on international issues. But alas! it seems we're in for 4 more years of George W. Bush and the same administration of misplaced arrogance and confrontationalism.

It's been a very strange couple of days, starting with the murder in broad daylight in an Amsterdam street of film maker Theo van Gogh; apparently by a muslim militant of dual nationality who after committing his heinous crime used the body as a noticeboard by pinning a pamphlet to it with a breadknife. The police won't say what was in the note, but speculation is rife that it contains some sort of justification for the murder, and of course everyone in the media agrees that the murderer must have taken offense at Mr. Van Gogh's short Submission, broadcast some 2 months ago, in which battered muslim women tell of the abuse they suffered at the hands of their Qu'ran thumping husbands, while verses from this holy book are projected onto parts of their bodies. By Western standards, it's nothing out of the ordinary, and really quite tastefully done, but several 'experts' have already agreed that it could be seen as a provocation that could prompt some fanatics to decide the unbeliever had to die for it.
Not surprisingly, this event has dominated the news here for the last two days, with politicians and lobbyists tripping over themselves to condemn the murder, but not willing to commit to any real action or to take any responsibility. I was appalled when, a few hours after Mr. Van Gogh's violent end, the Amsterdam mayor voiced the platitude that in our society and in his city, no one had the right to take the law into their own hands -- implying that there actually was some sort of law (of God, man or nature) that Mr. Van Gogh had broken and that his murder could somehow be seen as an act of retribution.

What is this country coming to, I wonder. 400 Years ago, Descartes and Spinoza could publish their works and live here unmolested, when they had to face censorship and persecution everywhere else -- and now we're advocating a softly-softly approach, letting muslim fundamentalists dictate the limits to our freedom of expression to us?
gamiila: (Default)
Juliana, our former Queen, died yesterday. She would have been 95 next month. And a few hours after losing her mother, the Queen became a grandmother for the 3rd time: Prince Constantijn's wife gave birth to a baby boy early this morning, Claus-Casimir. Seems like the House of Orange will go on, at least for another generation.

I was born and grew up during Juliana's reign. She was a warm and caring woman, everyone's favourite grandmother, quite different apparently from her mother (who became Queen on the death of her father way back in 1890) and from her own daughter, who is much more brisk and business-like (but who has done a splendid job as Queen, I think, since taking the oath in 1980).

Strange to think that she's gone. It seemed as if she was going to go on forever, although she hadn't been seen in public for a while. Her death, it's not unexpected...yet in a way, it is.
gamiila: (Default)
I got roped into meeting some second cousins umpteen times removed, just off the plane from someplace called Laverne, CA. yesterday, and spent an uncomfortable couple of hours being hugged, rubbed, kissed by and making smalltalk with people I basically didn't know from Adam, despite apparently having 'seen' some of them at the tender age of 3 weeks old. As soon as I could think of an excuse (a phantom prior engagement that I could see my Mum at least didn't buy), I escaped, politely expressing my regret that I probably wouldn't be seeing them again before they returned to the States, and assuring them that if ever I were in the neighbourhood (of Laverne), I'd drop by.

I'm a bit worried about Jason, a casual acquaintance, whom I haven't heard from in the last week. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have given it a second thought, only I belatedly remembered his place of work is in Alcobendas, Madrid. He's not a close friend or anything, just someone I know through work (somehow, I seem to have made it onto his distribution list for funny e-mails, which I receive from him from time to time and hardly ever bother to open - why do guys, as soon as they get hold of your work e-mail address, decide to spam you with jokes? Women almost never do!). I'm sure he's alright, but I think I'll place a call to Spain first thing tomorrow just to make certain.

I was glad to see 2,8 million Spaniards rally against terrorism, although I'm cynical enough to believe that it won't do any good. The perpetrators of this sort of mindless violence generally have such twisted minds and tunnel-vision no protest will ever make them stop and think; they'll just carry on regardless.

As will I. I lost a colleague to the Bali bombings 2 years ago, and a friend of a friend got injured in the Istanbul attacks last November, but none of these experiences have ever made me afraid to travel or go to places where these incidents are likely to occur. In fact, I hardly ever think about it. A bomb could go off in Wardour St any time, but I'll still go there to get my Chinese takeaway!

Which reminds me, Caroline did extend that invitation for me to come visit in Birmingham I was angling for, although she did mention that there's nothing but Balti houses up there, and perhaps I'd be better off just coming up from London for a day or two. Hmmm. Frankly, I can't imagine why, if that's the case, she's still up there herself. As she's currently between jobs, and is letting out her house, I don't see why she's not taking up one of our other friend's offers to come work with her up in Huddersfield. But she seems strangely attached to Brum, although orginally, she's from Humberside.

I'm off to my Yoga Teaching Training again in a minute, so I'd better logoff for now...but I'm sure I'll be back again tomorrow with more news of the not so much variety. This LiveJournal thingie is seriously addictive!
gamiila: (Default)
Some years ago, the European Parliament in its wisdom decided that window cleaners weren't allowed to clean windows from a certain height without specialist protective gear and equipment anywhere in its territory anymore. Apparently, that worked out fine for all the other countries, except for The Netherlands where the windows on properties open outward. As soon as the law became effective, people who lived on the second floor and up found that they could no longer get their windows cleaned, because in order to make good on their investment for the special equipment they now needed to ply their trade window cleaners deserted the private sector in droves and concentrated on the more lucrative business contracts. Besides, you can't very well hang one of those basket-like contraptions and winch cables from ordinary 70 year old houses and the like. The roofs aren't designed for them.

I live on the second floor (3rd if you count them the American way). From one day to the next, the man who'd done my windows for years refused to climb the ladder one more storey up, on the grounds that he'd be risking his livelihood. At first, there was nothing to be done, but after about a year, our MEPs succeeded in having the law amended. Window cleaners in The Netherlands could go back to work...but in the meantime, many small companies had gone bust, or gone into other activities, and finding someone to do my (and my neighbours's) windows proved immensely difficult for the next year and a half...until last night: someone rang the doorbell while I was preparing my evening meal. I didn't expect anyone so I leaned over the balcony railing and shouted down. The answer I received was the most welcome I have had in years: "Good evening, madam. I am a window cleaner and I was wondering..."

So I invited him up for coffee and a chat, and managed to alert some of my neighbours to this momentous occasion as well, and the long and short of it is that as from this coming March, Brian and his business partner Thomas will be doing all our windows twice monthly at a price of 6 euros per flat.

This morning, when my neighbours and I left for work, we were all smiling.
gamiila: (Default)
Imam Samudra, the second defendant in the Bali bombings case, has been sentenced to death, the same sentence as was given to his co-conspirator Amrozi last August. Predictably, it seems he greeted the verdict with the cries of "Allahu akbar" and "Death to the West, Bush and Blair". Like his partner in crime, it seems he's shown no remorse about the death and destruction he's caused, all the innocents he's murdered because why should he? He was only acting for the greater glory of God, and he will go straight to paradise where he can frolick with 70 virgins who will be his personal property to do with as he likes in an idyllic parkland setting for all eternity. God is great, indeed.
I wonder if the death penalty will actually ever get the message across to these crazed individuals and people of similar persuasion. Frankly, I very much doubt it.

The Twin Towers were obliterated two years ago today. I hadn't realised it when I woke up this morning -- it took a newspaper article to remind me of the fact. Funny, how soon you forget...I had friends, acquaintances, working in and around the WTC, people I had met on my NYC visit the spring before. It was an anxious few hours, days, before finding out that they were all alright, and at the time I thought I'd never forget that feeling. A year later, I was walking down Unter den Linden in Berlin and came to a side street that had been barricaded off. A few people were gathered around a makeshift shrine, some flowers, a couple of candles, one or two banners. It took me a minute to realise that it must be the American embassy in that side street, and the date must be September 11th.

One month later, half a world away in Bali, Imam Samudra and his cronies took the lives of 202 people, one of whom a girl I knew personally.

There are people I love in Tel Aviv. Several times a year, a bomb goes off there and I fall to worrying: are they alright? Thank God, and touch wood, so far they have been.

On my last visit to London, walking back into the City on a pub crawl with my friends, we were stopped by the police advising us that due to another bomb scare, we had to take the long way round. We sighed, we shrugged, and we adjusted our plans for the evening accordingly.

When will terrorists realise their campaigns may shake us up for a little while, but in the end, life goes on as it always has, and nothing they do will ever make the slightest bit of difference to society as a whole? All they do is cause an untold number of faceless (to them) people a lot of heartbreak, and for what? The glory of God? Any god that glories in blood and gore isn't worthy of the epithet.
gamiila: (Default)
Apart from the news that the Queen's second son has gone and gotten himself engaged splashed all over the front and several inner pages of my morning paper, which I tend to read on the train ride into work, the more intriguing -and highly amusing- articles to catch my eye were reports of the first underwater Post Office in the world having opened in Vanuatu (an island paradise somewhere in the Pacific, apparently). The post office is said to offer brilliant up close and personal views of a coral reef to its frequenters, and should they want to send a letter or post card from there, they can rest easy in the knowledge that the post office makes use of a specially developed water-resistant ink for its postmark. Great! The article never mentioned any specially developed water-resistant envelopes, though...

Meanwhile, in China they're building the world's highest situated train station, in an effort to draw in the tourists. 5 Kilometres up in the mountains. Board the train and don't forget your oxygen supply...Personally, I can't see the appeal in such a journey, but there's nowt as queer as folk, so I'm sure it'll be a huge success once it opens.

And for the last couple of weeks, in the centre of Hamburg, people have gone quietly mad because an artists' collective let loose a volley of yodels at irregular intervals over a speaker system. Hamburg's high rise reminded them of the Alps, and they wanted to share this earth-shattering insight with the rest of their city's inhabitants.

On a more serious note: the prosecutor in the case against the Bali bomber(s) has demanded the death sentence be passed over the main suspect. I don't know how I feel about that. I knew someone who died in that blast, a colleague of mine who'd taken a year out to take a trip around the world. She never got any further than Bali. It was almost two weeks before her body was identified and we were informed of her death. She was a lovely girl, friendly and vivacious - and apparently she and all the others were killed because 'foreigners endanger Indonesia'. I'm so tired of people always blaming others for their own problems. I'm so tired of people justifying the indiscriminate killing of innocents by believing in some 'higher' ideal or purpose that invariably turns out to be nothing but some bigotted idea of religion or politics, or both.
If Mr. Amrozi gets sentenced to death, will it stop others from following in his footsteps? Will it bring back Maria and all those others that died with her last October? Will it make one blind bit of difference?

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gamiila

December 2012

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