All posts by Guido

I'm just a geek.

Tattoos #1

This ones for the mighty sea
Mischief, gold and piracy
This ones for the man that raised me
Taught me sacrifice and bravery
This ones for our favorite game
Black and gold, we wave the flag
This ones for my family name
With pride I wear it to the grave

– Dropkick Murphy’s ‘Rose Tattoo’

I like tattoos. I think I always have, from tribals when they became popular to extravagant Japanese stuff, videogame tats or oldschool ink. I like all of it. Ok, that’s not entirely true, but the point is that I like tattoos. It took me forever to get one, I didn’t get a sleeve when I was 18 or something. I got the first one when I was 26, so I took my sweet time to get to it. In this post (maybe I’ll split it up into two) I would like to tell you about the tattoo’s I got and what made me decide to get them. Not because I believe I know best, but because some of you might be thinking about getting some.

Perhaps my story might help you, or simply entertain you. Either is fine by me. I’m not a specialist, I don’t know everything about tattoos. Well, maybe just a little bit, so please don’t take me for one.  I’m just sharing my stories.

One

The first one I got, you can see on the picture here. Yes, it’s a symbol from Doctor Who, my beloved scifi series. I wanted to get one for a few years but then you have to decide. I came up with tons of ideas before coming to this one. When I did, I was sure instantly about the design. So why this one?

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I was always fascinated by time. It mattered to me a lot. My grandpa was a clockmaker and after he passed away we were left with a room full of clocks. My dad took those tools and fidgeted with it for a bit too I think. The concept of time was the first thing I ever wrote a poem about. Yes, I’ve written some poetry in my day. Doctor Who tapped into those memories and passions and this symbol united various ancient ones in one. I didn’t want anything from an established religion so that was also covered.

I took my nervous body, that was going to be submitted to these needly cruelties of tattoo artists, to Dragon Tattoo in Eindhoven. The renowned shop was for me the only entrance point of a shop that delivered quality. I guess I was prepaired to pay the full price for whatever I would get. I made an appointment and went back on this particular date. I remember it pretty well, because I also had an intake for Air Traffic conductor in Amsterdam that morning. I didn’t become an Air Traffic conductor, as most people probably know. I was too creative? I still  have the ink though.

One hour it took and very little pain and there I was, I got my first tattoo. I could still walk, my skin wasn’t coming of or anything. The artist doing the work was Jimmy Orie, who is very experienced with tribal shapes, which I guess this fits in with. Though Dragon Tattoo is a very busy place, he managed to make it feel calm and nice. I didn’t feel rushed or crowded in any way. There was plenty of explanation to make me feel at ease with it. I’m happy with the choice for this shop, specially considering it was the first.

Two

Many people get one tattoo, they’re content with that and they are not too keen on more suffering. They simply don’t consider it worth it. I felt slightly different, I wanted more immediately. It took me a year though, in which I went back to school, met a girl and so on and on.  It was time for ink. I chose a quote from Immanuel Kant that had always haunted me before and found a specific typing that I liked. It was as if a broken typewriter was it’s source.548708_4165702354542_18990776_n

To me the text mattered most, because it represents fundamental ideas I hold dear concerning ones own moral grounds. “The starry heaven above me and the moral law within me.”  The awe and wonder they fill us with, they are something we must preserve. Our moral grounds and our amazement at the world, filling us with the need to explore and discover.

For this one I drove to Schijndel, twice since the first time they had a holiday, to the Old Sailor Tattoo shop. The friendly owner put this on me in less than an hour. Though I heard this is a painful spot, it wasn’t as hefty to me. It varies per person obviously. It felt safe and alright in their quiet shop, so I did make a second appointment. I’ll save that for a next time.

The thought behind this tattoo was again quite personal, though I believe the words speak to everyone. The idea for me is to stand behind what I believe is right and what I should do in my life. Also to look at the world as an amazing place, wether that is dark or light, it’s full of beauty and adventure.  Do you need such thoughts before you get something tattoo’d? I don’t think so. It’s good to think things through obviously. You don’t want to be a guy ending up dating girls with the same name all the time because you were stupid once.  Tattoo removal does exist, but is an expensive and time consuming thing. Make sure you feel right about getting it and where you are getting it. There’s always another shop.

Updating the site

I guess google picked up on ‘Wheaton’s Law’, because the spam was hitting the proverbial fan since today. Perphaps this was due to the Google Authorship (which I can’t seem to get working this far, but we’ll get there I hope). Anyways, due to that it may be a bit more work to post a comment. Please don’t let that stop you, since I value those immensly.

So there’s going to be some CAPTCHA thing going on in the commens, which I’m not receiving that much this far. Also I’m trying to implement authorship and such.  I hope it makes it all more accesible and easy to use. I’m open for other suggestions on how to improve my blog.

Thanks for reading it.

Sounds of the Underground #2

I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about them. I’m usually pretty honest. I do tend to listen to what I like though.

Source: Deathmetal.org

Incantation – Dirges of Elysium

58558_1479431999462_148176_nI’m not a fan of death metal usually, though I appreciate a well structured bit now and then. Incantation has been a presence in my musical environment for years. The name kept popping up and I never bothered to listen to them. Best reference for me is the shirt my friend Andis seems to always wear when I meet him with the band logo sprawled on it. So that’s from the 2010 Skyforger gig in Little Devil, Tilburg. But to music now. For me, Bolt Thrower is the standard by which I measure death metal. It’s crooked and lame, but everyone needs their gateway band. Henceforth the clean and intense sound of Incantation resonates with me. The brutal vocals are like an instrument in the mixture to my ears and the lyrics are profane and very clearly anti-religious. The sound is dense and atmospheric, which is something I enjoy. I’m most impressed by the track ‘Elysium (eternity is nigh)’, which is the final song on the album. It takes the listener through the underworld and the rivers that flow through it (Greek mythology) in an epic 16 minute adventure.  Pretty impressive indeed.

Source: Metalsucks.net

Devin Townsend – Casualties of Cool

Normally, when an artist makes a record so far of their normal path, it’s like a novelty. Nothing to worry too much about or spend too much attention on. It’s different when that person is Devin Townsend, who did a lovely americana album with a lady on vocals. The music is very rootsy and natural, no bells or effects but songs.

Now and then it has a dark side, a southern soul feeling with a bit of voodoo vibe going on. The gentle voice of (I assume) Townsend gives  mystic aura to the sound here. In general there are a lot of enchanting moments on this bewildering, but oh so beautifull release.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent

As rare as that sunny day in Glasgee (Irvine Welsch style) is the intriguing sound of this release. Think Explosions In The Sky drinking tea with The Postal Service, while MGMT dropped the right drugs in the tea pot? Yeah, something like that. Oh, it has to be sunny.
Well, they call it Dream Pop and the group hails from the other side of the ocean, Philadelphia and Brooklyn to be precise. The music feels upbeat an cheery, light as the sun breaking through the clouds at such a location as the grey Scottish capital. I think the sun actually started shining a bit brighter here. Weeee! I don’t really have much to say about this record.

Layered waves of sound, synths and sometimes fuzzy effects make it a full sound barrage of sunrays in minor. Well worth for those sudden rainy summer days.

Source: Lyrics.wikia.com

Wild Throne – Blood Maker

I’m not yet sure what it is I’m hearing here. I know it’s awesome. This band was recommended to me by a friend and they combine the vibe of cheesy pop music, mathy riffs, Mastodon like intensity and stadium like grandeur like… let’s say Iron Maiden and The Mars Volta’s bastard child. The artwork has that wonderful neo-romantic appearance of pagan flirtations. It’s epic.

I suppose I made it clear I like this record. It’s only four tracks, but blows the listener away with its unique sound. There’s a harmony between the elements you would not immediately expect. with the combination of things described. The combination of intense music with the clean, poppy sound reminds me a bit of The Protomen. If you don’t know those, check them out, specially if you like Megaman/Rockman video games.

I think we can expect big things from these guys, I really do. If Mastodon and Red Fang (perennial support band in my opinion) can fill up venues, why not these guys.

What are you missing, what is needed?

Now you’re so ashamed, now I’m so ashamed of you.
We believe the same things. You stand to the side.
– Gorilla Biscuits ‘New Direction’

Today I want to write about a skill or visual representation that spurs action instead of opinion. I’ve always had an issue with judgements and I tended to actually have a lot of judgements. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a judgement of another person, since that’s what I’m talking about, helps you to anticipate and premeditate your actions and attitutde towards that person. That helps you in a way if you are only being reactive. If you want to be pro-active, it becomes a whole different ball games.

When we judge others, we do it by right and wrong. We do it so strongly that we might end up polarizing people into right and wrong. In a conflict I had I started doing that with a person. This person had somehow touched those triggers that are opposed to my values and ideas, perhaps inherently my personality. That person for a brief period became a demon for me, pure evil, because I judged by wrong and right.

rightwrong

Now, we can never really escape the right wrong axis, but letting go of it and moving on to the active stage is the trick. We can move there by asking ourselves: What is missing? When we have the answer to that, we can ask: What is needed? And this way pro-actively solve issues, problems and conflicts in a way that actually helps. This is a brilliant theroy and well set axis. The problem is  the letting go of the judgement you have in your head.  Now, the measure in which we do this varies between people. I’ve had it very strongly for a long time. I’ve started developing some small techniques to help me deal with it lately that I would like to share.

1. Depersonalise your oponent

it sounds really cliché, but try to see the person you are having the confrontation with as an empty form, a tabular rasa that you have to work with to get something done. Let go of the person you feel you’re facing and your judgements about that person, because they inhibit you in having an open mind towards this other. You are making all sorts of assumptions about this conversation that will in the end only hamper finding the solution.

2. Put first things first: your goal

Straight out of the 7 Habits, I know, but so crucial to what you want to do. Rethink the purpose that was behind this conflict, what was your actual goal and focus on that. The person or group of persons (let us not forge that option) is only a tool in reaching that goal, utilize it instead of beating your head against it.  Do you not have a goal? Go on to step 7.

3. Think Win-Win

Another one from the same source, but also very true.  Approach your problem in a win-win way, look for a common win and that way make it so much more easy to solve it by suggesting another way that serves both. It’s the easiest way to convince someone else. Is there no win-win situation imaginable? In that case, really continue to step 7.

4. Put your emotions aside

Try to find that switch in your head that allows you to stop being all emotional about the topic, try to find your cold, business reason and you will get to the core of the thing. This simple act may, when you manage to pull it off, tell you if you need to take action or not. Is it really not such a big deal? Then continue to step 7.

5. Figure out if it actually has anything to do with you

Some people, like myself, have this natural feeling that they should defend others and stand up for the voiceless. That may be right in some occasions, but hardly in all of them. Decide if you are really taking on this fight. Think hard if you really are touched by this in any way and if there’s any reason why you should get involved. If the answer is no, which is pretty often is if it doesn’t actually have anything to do with you or your job, then just go to step .

6. Take the other perspective.

Some things are really two sided, you might be stuck in your side of things. Try to take another perspective, willingly look for that other side of things. It’s really hard at first, but it opens a door to tolerance and open mindedness.

7. Just drop it, let it go, breathe in and out and go on with your life

Some things are just not yours to be angry about. You shouldn’t worry about everything. That means letting go, dropping it and just stepping outside to get some fresh air. This is the ultimate step and very hard to take. If you need some help, go past the last 6 again. I think you’ll get here anyways,

I hope someone will find this useful, I do, though I still remain in my cycle sometimes, trapped in frustration. It gets better though, but it requires a lot of practise. Don’t forget that usually people want the same things and strive for the same goals. Frustration, secrecy, shame and strife will always block your efforts. You can not control what others do, but you can control how you deal with it.

Sounds of the Underground #1

I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about them. I’m usually pretty honest. I do tend to listen to what I like myself though.

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber – S/T

Gritty post-black metal/sludge from the city of Nantes in France by what I’ve perceived to be quite a young band still. The omnious sound takes up the topic of ‘The Fall’. Not in the way that you fall and hurt your knee, no it’s much bigger. The fall of humanity, the biblical image of the fall, atleast that’s what I get from the whole imagery of their sound and artwork which refers to the tower of Babel and such. They make it sounds great. Long, dreary guitar wails, heavy hitting drums that sound like giants dragging their feet, vocals that bark the inevitable despair of loss. A great record for a sunny sunday in it’s twisted way.

Godflesh – Decline And Fall

I’ve developed a love for the raw sound of urban decay of Godflesh. Their iconic imagery and typical sound of Justin K. Broadrick’s crew has maintained it’s relevance throughout their almost 20 year existence. A new EP in that case is always good news. There’s the industrial beats and the rasping riffs. The vocals express either the weary feeling of being in a daily rut, or the frustration that comes with urban life. The constant tension, boredom and restlesness. Four songs that express this current state of affairs. Blending industrial with metal has always been a tricky thing, but no one knows or defines how it works as much as these guys. I’m not sure yet what is the best time to listen to this record though. It’s not comfortable listening music, that’s for sure.

Default decline ruled by dead fires
Don’t wait, think last, act now, destroy

Enslaved – RIITIIR

The album ‘RIITIIR’ is by now two years old but still filled with brimming and biting energy of a whole new level than the first records of the band from Norway. Part of the black metal wave, the band quickly turned it around and became a genre on their own, pushing the boundaries and possibilities. I got to see them live on their ‘Vertebrae’ tour in 2008 or 2009 and their majestic sound was nothing like I anticipated. The rasping vocals of Grutle Kjellson are the last bit that betrays the roots of what can now be called a black/death blend with avant-garde pretense and prog fuelled riffing. The sound is clean and well produced, the artwork is beautiful. Truly captivating sounding music is produced by these guys by now and I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out, even when you are scared of extreme metal. Not without reason where they named as a band pushing the genre forwards by Sam Dunn in that final episode of Metal Evolution.

Lantlôs – Melting Sun

Though formerly known as a black metal outfit, the Germans from Lantlôs have exchanged that grim sound for a more shoegaze/postrock feeling on their new EP, which lasts about as long as a regular album. Soft, colourfull soundscapes are produced by the three bandmembers, It’s music for dreamers, slowly floating through the air in unity. The name of the band means ‘without homeland’ and it truly feels like the music takes you away from such earthly things as nationality. Peacefull sunrays fall on your face as you float away, this could be the soundtrack of ‘de Droomvlucht’ in nearby theme park ‘The Efteling’.

I’m well impressed with the sound of these Germans, who give beauty to a style so often described as gloomy and dark, this is music of light.

Choose Life?

The Fire in the Sky is Extinguished
Blue Waters no Longer Cry
The Dancing of Trees Has Stopped
The Stream of Freshness from Cold Winds
Exists no Longer

– Burzum ‘A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit’

I’ve always found suicide a very difficult topic to discuss. For many people it seems te be very clear cut and life is the path you should take, always. It all becomes a bit muddled when we bring up euthanasia, people are not sure what to think about this topic. It feels wrong, but seems right and the other way around. I think its beautifull and noble, it’s the choice of saying that you’ve had enough of the cake that is life. Whatever follows is the decay, the ruin and the path towards the inevitable end. I think suicide is every man (and woman’s) right.

Now, two things I would like to say before I continue and people start asking me if I’m alright. I am, I’m fine and enjoying the fruits and challenges life offers me. There have been times when I didn’t like life that much, but I’m a ‘lifer’. Where there’s hope, there’s life for me and vice versa. This term has everything to do with my second point. I don’t think suicidal people are a homogenous group and I’m really talking about a specific form of motivation to find death instead of life. I’m talking about people who are born to live and born to die. It wasn’t a pleasant road to figure and accept that this exists, but I’ve come to accept some people will look for death. Those are not the suicides that look for a resolution, they are already resolved, at peace.

How did I get to discuss this topic? Well, I’ve been listening to black metal. I’ve always been fascinated by this genre and the extreme ideas that cling to it. When studying the genre intensely a year or two ago, I stumbled upon the works of The Shining with vocalist Niklas Kvarforth. Kvarforth used to cut himself open, to maim himself on stage. They were one of the main exponents of the genre Depressed Suicidal Black Metal. I can write you a whole explanation about it here, but this short interview explains a lot. I believe Kvarforth has now changed his ways, he is embracing life again, even doing some sort of stand-up comedy at Devilstone Fest in Lithuania last year.

Now, this genre was one bridge too far for me. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense because why would you do that? Why dwell on that line of suicide, of self harm and mutilation? There’s a fascination to it, a catharsis if you like, in listening to these bands. Sonically it’s usually dense,  like a grim and dark forest. It confronts you with that darkness and you can embrace it for a moment, flirt with it. Not everyone just flirts with it though, there are people who embrace death like vocalist Dead of Mayhem. The guy was obsessed with the idea of being an actual corpse, so one day he shot his brain out and left a note: “Sorry for all the blood”. For me the click came when Selim Lemouchi ended his life. I believe that his suicide was a conscious choice, but addled by problems. So it’s not the actual act, but an older interview where he said, with total calm and resolve that he would take his life when he was done, when the creative process was over. It wasn’t taking a pose or bragging, it felt and sounded as real and regular as saying you’re going to have a drink or what you had for breakfast.

People told me to reread the interview I did, that it was already announced in that. I don’t believe that, I believe the man would eventually have killed himself, but after the creative process. When he had said the things he wanted to say. That calm made me realise that not everyone is made to live a life as most do. Some are born to die. They don’t feel sad or angry about it, they are already there in a way. We are not all made to live. History shows us suicide as a way out or an honorable way to deal with situations. Suicide is not a bad thing, it’s a choice for some that is made fully concsious and aware, without regret. That should be any persons right.

That being said, it’s not always this way. There are many causes for suicide that have little to do with a choice. Depression, substance abuse, mental imbalances or trauma are not choices, those are things that happen to you and that you might need a hand with. Those are the ones you can help, those are the ones who stand on bridges and next to railroads hoping for a resolution. They find it in death, but it’s not the resolution they wanted. They are the ones that could have been helped, most people are inevitably: Lifers. People that want to live and enjoy life.

There are others for whom suicide is not an impulse, nor caused by any of these things. There are those who just look forward to the day they die. Learning to accept that might make our lives a lot easier.

Ben Prestage @ Area51, Eindhoven

Glory and hallelujah and what not, finally bands are playing in the Area51 Skatepark. The small shabby stage and bar offer one of the best possible atmospheres for raw punk, garage and psychrock anywhere near, around and in Eindhoven. Residents complained about the noise though, so it was silent for a while around the skatepark. That silence is broken tonight with a performance of Ben Prestage and his one man band.

Ernest van Aaken

Even a one man band needs a support act. Luckily we have in Eindhoven a man just for the job. Ernest van Aaken plays bluesy southern guitarmusic on his resonator guitar. With a thick accent, like the man came from Alabama himself, he sings songs that set the mood. Many of the visitors have sat themselves down on the sides of the hall on the benches, chairs and floor. The heat is making everyone sweat a bit, which adds to the sweaty, bluesy feeling van Aaken is creating with his excellent music.

Some interesting information, I just read that the good man builds his guitars himself. That’s something.

Ben Prestageprestage2

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the man sitting on stage is normally driving steam trains across the continent of America. With his big beard and engineers cap, he looks the part. Ben is playing his guitar, drumming with his food, playing the harmonica and utilizing all instruments to their maximal potential. His vocals are the typical southern warble at much to high speed to make out what he’s saying at times.

Staying true to his roots, he plays blues, bluegrass, boogie woogie with a bit of country and western thrown in the mix. The sound is unique due to him playing all the instruments and not necessarily in the conventional ways. In that sweltering heat, Prestage still puts out songs like that steam train, not taking time for breaks except to take a swig of his beer. Did I mention it was really hot?

A various arsenal of guitars is being used, but also his famous cigar box one. Self build, it produces a primitive punky and raw sound. Prestage enchants his audience with his variations and skill, but mainly with his a performance. The man is full of jokes, delivered in words and song. Particularly funny are his stories about his own upbringing and how he started playing on a one string guitar, then got a second string and so on.

prestage

Artists like Ben Prestage are exactly those that work best in small venues like this. A bit grimy and run down, but great for music, drinks and atmosphere. The sounds of skateboarders in the background and the buzzing chatter of the visitors provides the perfect place for an artist like Ben to do his thing. He even introduces the band members by instrument to great amusement of the guests. Music at its best and purest. A great night indeed.

The Dead Flag Blues

The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows
The government is corrupt
And we’re on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn
We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death

– Godspeed You! Black Emperor ‘the Dead Flag Blues’

Source: 4cculminating.blogspot.nl

Sometimes I write things in one go, sometimes I write them in a few different states of mind. I wrote this bit when I was angry, scared and deeply touched and sad. I’m writing to make sense for myself. Please don’t take anything to harshly. What I wrote was inspired by some thoughts following the crash of MH17 and some older thoughts about why we fight. Not why you and I could have a fight, but how masses of people fight and kill for lofty goals that are nothing but hollow ideals. 

Sometimes I get really scared. I don’t think anyone really notices, but I do. I am scared of some things that I have no control of at all. Mobs, groups, populations scare me and the way governments or opinion leaders can easily influence them. It seems like just an easy game to whip up anger, to place the blame and victimize another. The first thing that scared me was the mob mentality of social justice or whatever you call it when people take justice in our own hand. Our justice system might not be perfect, but what crime makes it right to mutilate another, to hound people, to tarnish their names forever and destroy their lives. Just and unjust victims of this mentality have been driven to suicide. Suicide, lets give that word a moment to sink in. Do you value your life? I do, I had times when I thought I didn’t, but I never contemplated suicide.

A man was burned alive because people were sure he was a pedophile. Another was hounded and threatened, because his name was the same as some guy suspected of animal abuse, a young boy of 15 can never live out his full potential, because he kicked a girl. Who in the name of Christ are we to judge others? He who is free of sin, cast the first stone, is it not? I have the fortune of misfortune of having gained inside in the private lives of many people and I have found little to none with a clean slate. We are all sinners. Some sins we think of as horrible and perhaps rightly so. It doesn’t give us right to be judge and excecutioner at the same time. Mob rules, another word is ochlocracy… the result is usually the tyranny of the majority.

Tyranny of one or all, it always has one thing in common: those who are different will suffer. I understand the wish for justice and also the idea that our system is not strict enough. Then the system should be changed to the current world, not just doing whatever you feel is right. There will be blood. Flight MH17 was that blood, it was blood of the innocent, but who’s innocent anyways? I sometimes think we just want to see the world bleed. Even the dead are part of this game of rallying the masses. Many Dutch people are ready to take up arms, we cry for justice, justice for that black hole that was shot into our society.

Blood

The way things look now, there will be blood. The insanity of the masses is the most murderous when it is placed under a banner, a flag, an ideal or a name like Russia, USA, Peace, Freedom or Liberty. As long as these still have to be pronounced there are no beacons of hope to speak of, they are the flags of the dead. Flags that represent allt he senseles killing that flows from the human race not being able to function as one, mainly because of an invented entity called money.

We all play the dead flag blues, all of us together. We are cavorting with hatred and flirting with genocide when we raise our banners, which we do because we think they are right, they represent the final resolution, the justice and solution to all our problems.  I’m scared of that sense of righteousness found under these banners, scared of the exctasy of power of both Putin and the other leaders of the world. Putin scares me the most, because I cannot grasp the ‘why’.  I sleep less easy when I see people are so easy to judge, to call for blood. Blood of the other, that enemy, that invisible alien that we must fight in the name of our dead flag.

Why do we fight for those ideals and do we let the media prod and push us like sheep to the slaughter. We refuse to think for ourselves, the Russian media is propaganda, so ours must be right isnt’t it? Our flag is that of truth and justice, the other a disease to weed out. I’ve quoted Lévy to often on this point, let it suffice to say that this is the road to ruin and bloodshed. There is no wrong and right, what matters is the solution. It doesn’t even matter anymore who shot the damn rocket. The issue at hand is that it was shot, innocent people died in a conflict that should never have escalated this far anyways. There is no evil to root out, the only goal that we should find is on a path to peace. We are all humans, the blood of us and that of the Russians and Ukranians runs the same red. We do not need to wade through rivers of that to find our holy grail.

Hope

I said, “Kiss me, you’re beautiful –
These are truly the last days”

– Same

A glimmer of hope was there today. I will share the video of the minister of foreign affairs speakin about the disaster in Ukraine. I would like to express my admiration for the man, who I’ve always thought of as one of the few actual passionate politicians in the Netherlands. When we are open to see the core of the issue at hand, we might find common ground. We might find another way.

He spoke about the people crashing down to the earth, looking eachother in the eye and giving comfort and support in those last moments. It takes all that to bring out that great good in people, that resignation in death. Only then we seem to see eachother for what we are. When I get in an airplane again in a month, I’ll be sitting next to a complete stranger. I’m going to say hi and see if we can get some chat going. We might as well be the ones that hold hands when we crash down. I pray I never have to face what the people on MH17 had to face, but even more so I pray I never forget what it means to be human and how you want to treat others as you are treated.

Sad & Proud

source: cage8.com

Today we had a day of national mourning. I’ve never experience this, most of the people I know haven’t. The 15 minutes, the time before and just after the minute of silence that followed at 16.00, the office seemed more quiet than it ever dit before. Even more than the times I worked the night shift. The bodies arrived in Eindhoven by airplane and were loaded into cars to be taken to a central point.

It’s funny how you can say that a number is ‘a lot’. When you see the coffins leaving the airplane in an endless stream, it becomes real. Every one of those was a person. Every man might be a father, a brother, a lover, husband and  a son. Every woman a sister, girlfriend, wife, mother, daughter and a friend. They are not nameless numbers, they are human beings. It could have been anyone of us in a way.

The cars started rolling out, a long the road through the country. The sides of the road were packed with people. Thousands must have come out to pay their respects. I feel a bit annoyed by the stream of cameras, but we all do what we do in our own way. We try to understand and accept the sadness in front of us. Give it a place in our understanding, find reasons and peace with the endless cars filled with the dead passing by. It made me proud of this country and its people. Time stopped, everything stopped today. We all felt it, it was different.

A glimmer of hope can be found in that, in people supporting eachother, paying respects. No blame game, no hatred, just sympathy and love. A sad kind of love, but a form of love. At the end of everything it’s all that remains, all that matters. This was one of those days when the flag wasn’t something dead, it brought people together. That power it has as well.

The bitter reality

I feel it’s only proper to go into the grim reality of things now and then. In the sky above Ukraine, an airplane was shot down by the separatists. In Israel, the Israeli army is bombing civilians in Gaza and the whole world knows what is wrong and right.

A friend from the Baltics said the me about the airplane disaster that it was finally an eye opener for Western-Europe about Russia, just that is was horrible that it took so much, so many… For months the eastern states have been on red alert, due to Russian expansion politics. No one took them serious and Russia was laughed at as a silly country. The worried people where laughed at too, as if Russia was going to do anything to us. They’re not though, Russia is a country full of people who only get to see and hear what the media allows and they only allow what Putins government wants. Russia may seem funny but it’s a cruel regime, where a human life is not the same in worth as we consider it over here.

That friend concluded that this was the eye opener for the west. The veil has fallen, but my friend mourned that it took so much. That this took so many lives of innocents to be clear. It’s a black page in the history books, with an introduction of the Ukrainian problem in grey. “Never again”, we said after WWII. Where the hell is this going then?

Then again, we know that the Russian media is propaganda, but never doubt the one you get from the west. Politics, interests and preference prevail in what you get to see on TV. Which brings me to Gaza in Israel. Remember how for years the Palestinians where the bad guys? Bombing civilians, killing children and women in the streets of the Israelian cities? That was what we saw, Isreal was the victim of Arab agression. It’s not like we didn’t know about the history of Israel back then, the media just didn’t mention it. Now the tables have turned once again, the media likes the sad Palestinians now.

So now Israel is the imperial state, bombing children and women in Gaza. Suddenly the Palestinians are victims again, while the death count rises on both sides. Why do we fall for this? Why do we simply float along with the opinions media shove down our throats? I see the elaborate facebook shares on how Israel is mean and cheering when people die. Do we instantly forget the cheers on the streets on 9/11? Do we forget the joy after the murder of Osama Bin Laden?  As long as people kill and rejoice in it, we continue this cycle. If Palestinians cheer again for some DIY bomb killing school kids in Israel, will we switch sides again? Or is it going to be a good thing if its Israelian soldiers instead?

Soldiers who are drafted, just young guys who should be out having a drink with mates, listening to metal music and being their obnoxious, young selves. But we cheer when they die, we cheer when anyone dies that we happen to think of as the bad guy for the moment. The news has been Hollywoodized. We forget the corpses are human beings, with lives and interests that might be exactly like ours. Every death is a sin and a loss. Not a single gun fired or rocket launched is serving peace in any way. Enlightenment never seemed so far away.

The reading of books. Part I

“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.”
― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

I love reading and I love books. I don’t seem to find enough time to read though, so often these days I listen to books. That might sound weird, but it really isn’t . In this ‘section’ I hope to say something about what I read, because  pretty much always a book has values, lessons and thoughts to convey that you carry with you. Many great people say that you have to write, but more so they say that you should read. I try to read the books, but there’s nothing wrong with an audiobook. I will probably say more about that in another blogpost sometime later.

Wil Wheaton – ‘Just A Geek’
Wil Wheaton – ‘Dancing Barefoot’

So I listened to both these audiobooks. Why audiobooks? Well, in this particular case because the writer is also the narrator that does the audiobooks. How about some word from the horse’s mouth. Will tells the stories of his post-Star Trek carreer in ‘Just A Geek’. It’s not the tale of succes, but the story of self acceptance, finding your passions and loving your family. Chosing what comes first. It’s a great story based on his blog, which I think inspired me to start this particular blog.  I put up this little thing here so you can listen to it. Wil is a talented writer, with plenty of humor and self deflating honesty. I won’t say too much about ‘Dancing Barefoot’, because its a bit more of the same, just less coherent. It’s more upbeat, highlighting episodes of his life. I really recommend these to every geek, learn about life, and what the idea behind Wheatons Law really is. I think it’s at the heart of who Wil Wheaton is.

Gaius Suetonius – ‘The Twelve Ceasars’

source: Wikipedia (english)

I’ve always had a keen interest for ancient history. Though in the past I used to skip over books that dealt with the Romans, this time I figured to give it a go. Suetonius wrote his works on the emperors a long time ago. He clearly didn’t like the first few much. We already know Caligula and Nero as monstors and madmen, but I never knew that Tiberius (my favorite emperor for the simple reason that he was in Age of Empires I), was such a depraved man. Unfortunately, it’s fair to doubt a lot of the information Suetonius gives us, since he is basically using a lot of gossip and word of mouth in his writing. Still the portraits he draws are of high value for our understanding of these times and put a lot of perspective on Roman History. On the later emperors he’s a bit more sparing with his information, which might have more to do with the time he was living in (70 AD – 140 AD).  A great work for those interest in a genuine feel of the times.

Source: Wikipedia

Nicolai Gogol – ‘Dead Souls’

I don’t think of literature as something that is per se elitist. I do think you need to know what you get yourself into, when you start reading the Russian literature. People tend to think of it as heavy and dense, which is absolutely true. The Russian cultural history, of which many writers like Dostojevsky, Turgenev and others write, is full of protocol and ancien regime behaviour. Characters are dramatic and full of emotions, landscapes are dreary and forlorn. Though Gogol’s twisted romanticism with hints of early surrealism may seem a bit more modern, the general style is exactly what you expect. Sometimes going on for pages, it’s hard to keep track of the story at all. Still there is much amusement in this work, wit and drama. I do believe this book depends strongly on its time period and temporary culture. To get a feeling of that, this is also a worthy read.

I’m currently checking out some other stuff:

James Joyce – The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man
Noam Chomsky – Class War: The Attack On Working People
Cicero – Selected Writings
Francis Fukuyama – The Origins of Political Order

More on that later.