Take It As Red

"Blogging is, by its very nature, erratic and irregular, feverish effort punctuated by random silence, a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an unclosed em tag. " - The Poor Man

Friday, February 4


Say It Loud, Allochtoon & Proud!

Meanwhile, in Dutch news, the parochial bigotry of that small minded, petty-bourgeois huisvrouw Rita Verdonk reaches new and dizzying lows:

Dutch government unveils new integration exam

4 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — Does a car have two or four wheels? Is it OK to sunbathe topless on the North Sea beaches along the Dutch coast?

These are just two of the questions would-be immigrants may be asked as part of the new inburgeringsexamen, or integration exam, included in draft legislation that was unveiled by Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk on Thursday.
The exam is intended for immigrants, who will have to take it in their home country prior to coming to the Netherlands, to test their ability to speak Dutch and to gauge their understanding of Dutch culture. A video accompanies the exam material to give candidates insight into life in the Netherlands. It includes images of women sunbathing topless on the beach and of gay marriage — two examples of accepted behaviour in the Netherlands.

The draft legislation provides for exemptions for certain groups of newcomers. These include citizens from other EU countries; the European Economic Area (EU states and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. These groups of newcomers are not required to sit the integration exam in their land of origin, according to the draft legislation. However, some may be required to undertake an integration course and exam when in the Netherlands. The draft legislation has to be approved by parliament before it is introduced.

The integration pack — exam material and video — will cost EUR 45 and students will need 250 to 350 hours preparation before sitting the exam, Verdonk said. People sitting the exam will communicate with the examiner in the Netherlands by phone. The immigrant will have to pay for the price of the phone call. Verdonk says the exam will ensure that people who choose to settle in the Netherlands for an extended period of time will have prepared for life here before arrival.

"As integration into Dutch society is a longterm process it is important that newcomers before arrival to the Netherlands have a command of the Dutch language at a basic level and developed an understanding of the society into which they are coming," Verdonk says.

The obligation to undertake an integration course will mainly apply, Verdonk says, to people who come here to form a family by marrying a Dutch person, for example, or who want to be re-united with family members already in the Netherlands.

The ministry estimates 14,000 people a year will apply to take the exam. And given that most family-reunification migrants come from Turkey, Morocco and Suriname, Verdonk says, the majority of applications will be dealt with in the capital cities Ankara, Rabat and Paramaribo."

As far as I am concerned the damned Dutch can take their "normen en waarden" and shove it. The sheer arrogance of Verdonk and other Dutch people, assuming that anyone not Dutch is an uneducated, uncivilised moron who must carefully be taught those wonderful Dutch ways before being allowed to set foot on Netherlands' sacred soil - well, I think I've made it pretty clear what i think of the Netherands' national qualities. But just for those who haven't caught it, here's a quick summation. The Netherlands is not tolerant, it is racist, intolerant and religiously bigoted: the citizens themselves may be some of the world's worst mannered: it's overcrowded, badly built, expensive, noisy, flat and greyly grim.

I am proud of my nationality and its characteristics, as are most people from whatever country, and while I'm perfectly willing to try and fit in to whichever city or country I reside, the whole inburgering system is not about helping anyone to settle. It's about forcing people to give up their national characteristics for the convenience of those indigenous Dutch living here , because the Dutch don't like it. Well, fuck them. I am an EC citizen, I have the right to be here, and I also have the right under the ECHR to a private and family life: this includes my cultural norms too. The Council of States declared that "Europe, characterised by solidarity and a rich cultural mix, is founded on respect for diversity and on tolerance. All member-states ... are continuously striving to build and maintain a Europe based on [...] the diversity of its cultures and languages, a Europe where [the] rights of Minorities are protected." Or, in the words of Commission President Romano Prodi: "We must never forget that Europe is all about diversity. Therefore it needs us to respect and reap the rewards of diversity. European integration has always been about diverse peoples with varied cultures [...] Diversity is one of Europe's greatest treasures."

But no diversity in the Netherlands: no no, too scary, too untidy, too... un-Dutch. Verdonk and her followers will not rest till all us allochtonen are turned into cheese-eating, elbow jabbing, Sjonny & Anita clones, who shop at Hema, eat ham kaas broodjes with their workmates at lunch every single day of their working life, and look down on anyone who doesn't do the same. Let us not forget that this is the same country that collaborated with the Nazis to send 104,000 of its Jewish citizens to the death camps, a fact that Verdonk and her kind would prefer to sweep under carpet while making these racist and oppressive laws.

"Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud,
adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority."
—Arthur Schopenhauer

Of course, the most typically Dutch thing about this plan is buried in the middle paragraph:

"The integration pack — exam material and video — will cost EUR 45 and students will need 250 to 350 hours preparation before sitting the exam, Verdonk said. People sitting the exam will communicate with the examiner in the Netherlands by phone. The immigrant will have to pay for the price of the phone call."

Ah yes, now we know it really is a Dutch plan. Not only do they impose their racist culture on you, they make you pay for the privilege.



Friday Lifeform Blogging

Is this not stunningly beautiful?

The world's largest bacterium,Thiomargarita namibiensis (“Sulfur pearl of Namibia”).



Torturer Appointed US Top Legal Officer.

Well, we knew that it would happen; how could it not, while the Republican's hold Congress' gonads in a vise - but it doesn't make it any easier to accept or bear. That that corrupt, second-rate, sycophantic bought and paid-for shyster lawyer and torturer manque, Alberto Gonzales, is now Attorney General of the USA, and charged with protecting the legal rights and freedoms of all US citizens, absolutely beggars belief.

Many Americans, including the editors of the New York Times ( not noted for standing up to the Rethugs) are wondering what this will do to the US's standing in the rest of the world:

"The confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general yesterday was depressing. The president deserves a great deal of leeway in choosing his own cabinet. But beyond his other failings, Mr. Gonzales has come to represent the administration's role in paving the way for the abuse and torture of prisoners by American soldiers and intelligence agents. Giving him the nation's top legal post is a terrible signal to send the rest of the world, and to American citizens concerned with human rights.

The 60-to-36 vote for confirmation was also preceded by a depressing debate. There was the usual comic opera of these Senate votes, with the president's party piously denouncing all opposition as outrageous politicking and the opposition piously denying it. But this debate had a sinister overtone as well: in a ham-handed way, the Republicans tried to portray a vote against Mr. Gonzales as an act of bigotry."


" Mr. Gonzales testified that he agreed with the substance of the original torture memo, and he still takes the view that the president can declare himself to be above the law. In written responses to senators' questions, Mr. Gonzales argued that intelligence agents could "abuse" prisoners as long as they did it to foreigners outside the United States. Republican senators argued that it was unfair to say Mr. Gonzales was personally responsible for the specific acts of torture and degradation at Abu Ghraib. That would be a fair defense if anyone were doing that. The Democrats simply said, rightly, that Mr. Gonzales was one of the central architects of the administration's policy of evading legal restrictions on the treatment of prisoners. He should not have been rewarded with one of the most important jobs in the cabinet."

(My emphasis)

Speaking as a fully paid up member of the reality based-community that passes for the rest of the world, I can tell you my immediate reaction and it's not nice. "Fucking dumb-assed Americans" pretty much sums it up. Because if not stupid, then you must agree with Gonzales and his approval of torture of anyone who disagrees with his Chimperors plans, and even some who don't but just got in the way. Your Republican senators apparently do agree, and you voted for them, didn't you? For fuck's sake, you have all the information to know that the new head of the whole of the US justice department approves torture, HE SAID IT UNDER OATH. Take a look - it's right there in the transcript.

To pontificate, as Bush did in his State of The Union address (and as Condosleeza is doing now on her visit to Tony Blair) on freedom, liberty, democracy and the American way, just makes the rest of the world go "WTF? Surely the US public can't be taken in by this rubbish when its so demonstrably untrue?" But the American public is taken in, every single time. Either that or they do know and they just don't give a damn. Personally I think the latter is more likely.

In say, 25 years, when the climate is totally fucked, hordes of refugees roam the world looking for a safe place to live, when tsunamis, hurricanes and crop failures are regular occurrences, when the insurance companies go bankrupt, when the oil runs out, when there's no safety net of welfare for anyone; when a repressive, torturing, theocratic government has run the nation trillions and trillions of dollars into debt - remember then the scum who voted for Gonzales:

Alexander (R-TN)Allard (R-CO)Allen (R-VA)Bennett (R-UT)Bond (R-MO)Brownback (R-KS)Bunning (R-KY)Burr (R-NC)Chafee (R-RI)Chambliss (R-GA)Coburn (R-OK)Cochran (R-MS)Coleman (R-MN)Collins (R-ME)Cornyn (R-TX)Craig (R-ID)Crapo (R-ID)DeMint (R-SC)DeWine (R-OH)Dole (R-NC) Domenici (R-NM)Ensign (R-NV)Enzi (R-WY)Frist (R-TN)Graham (R-SC)Grassley (R-IA)Gregg (R-NH)Hagel (R-NE)Hatch (R-UT)Hutchison (R-TX)Inhofe (R-OK)Isakson (R-GA)Kyl (R-AZ)Landrieu (D-LA)Lieberman (D-CT)Lott (R-MS)Lugar (R-IN)Martinez (R-FL)McCain (R-AZ)McConnell (R-KY) Murkowski (R-AK)Nelson (D-FL)Nelson (D-NE)Pryor (D-AR)Roberts (R-KS)Salazar (D-CO)Santorum (R-PA)Sessions (R-AL)Shelby (R-AL)Smith (R-OR)Snowe (R-ME)Specter (R-PA)Stevens (R-AK)Sununu (R-NH)Talent (R-MO)Thomas (R-WY)Thune (R-SD)Vitter (R-LA)Voinovich (R-OH)Warner (R-VA)

(Thanks to PZ Myers at pharyngula for the list)

Remember them especially when you try to complain about the government fucking up the country and get thrown in jail, or worse, for your presumption. Remember also that you voted for those who voted for him. Yes, it is your own damned fault.

The rest of the world will also have to pay for the laziness, brutality, venality and sheer stupidity of the majority of US voter's mistakes, (and if history is any guide, it will be a payment disproportionately higher than any an American voter will suffer). We lesser beings, we non-americans, don't get a choice for good or ill; the USA does what it does and well, we just mostly have to take it. But we will remember who it was put us in that position.


Wednesday, February 2


Towards A Lesser Anglo-Dutch Understanding, II

I couldn't possibly have put it better myself. On browsing expatica's discussion boards (something I do when feeling particularly hostile) I came across this reply to a post on 'What do you least like about Holland and/or The Dutch?', which sums up pretty neatly my views on the Dutch as a nation. Let's face it, the Dutch are chavs.

"Raimund, it's not that the Dutch are ugly and impolite mutants. It's just that they're:

Unpleasant, Unfriendly,
Unwashed, Arrogant,
Overly aggressive, Self-important,
Narrow-minded, Sophomoric,
Anti-American, Anti-German,
Anti-Morrocan, Anti-Semitic,
Champagne liberal, NIMBY-oriented,
Bovine, Porcine,
Ovine, Over-accessorised,
Over-tanned, Over-gelled,
Overly sleazy, Exploitative,
Opportunistic, Finger-wagging,
Begrudging, Vindictive,
Defensive, Neurotic,
Provincial, Bureaucractic,
Over-regulated, Profit-minded,
Ferengi-like, Money-oriented,
Lazy, Lying,
Hypocritical, Cheese-slurping,
FEBO-addicted, Nose-picking,
Sneezy germ-spreading, Canine-excrement-smearing,

To which I might add, inter alia,

Tasteless, Badly dressed ,
Not half as cultured as they'd like to think
Small-minded, Self-obsessed,
Fat-assed, Loud,
Screechy, Bad-mannered ,
Deceitful, The worst hair in the world,
Truly weird noses ( this is a local country, for local people...)
And what do they do when they find the sum of all those sterling Dutch qualities in human form?

, they make him Prime Minister.

The Dutch Nose, in All Its Mutant Glory

Are they perhaps related? I think we should be told...

Als ik naar de TV kijk
dan staat daar weer Jan-Peteren vliegt
spontaan het kwikuit
mijn bloeddrukmeter
(the King of the Nerds is a Nerd among Kings)
Een wereld vol ellende
En wie moet ons besturen?
Jan-Peter Balkenende
En dat moeten wij verduren
(het is niet makkelijk, tis helemaal niet makkelijk)

When I watch TV
I see Jan Peter again
And the mercury splashes spontaneously
from my blood pressure meter
(The King of the Nerds is a Nerd among Kings)
A world full of misery
And who is there to rule us?
Jan Peter Balkenende
And we have to endure this ...
(It's not easy, it's definitely not easy)

Chorus:Uh-oh ... hope all goes well ...Uh-oh ...
hope he doesn't make a fool of himself again

Copyright © 2004 Doc Jazz




Oh, this has cheered me up no end-

Homeless grab EUR 100,000 from ATM
1 February 2005
"AMSTERDAM — Twenty homeless social security recipients were suddenly made a lot richer recently when they were able to withdraw a total of EUR 100,000 from a faulty Fortis Bank cash machine in Rotterdam.

Two homeless people withdrew EUR 33,000 and have disappeared without trace. An official with the Pauluskerk homeless shelter said they might now be sunning themselves on holiday, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

A computer glitch last Thursday night allowed social security recipients to withdraw an unrestricted amount of money. The recipients used their special bankcard from the Dutch social security office that usually only allows them to withdraw EUR 140 per day if the have sufficient funds in their account. But the computer problem meant the limits of their bank accounts were not checked, literally opening up the bank's vaults. The amounts withdrawn from the cash machine ranged between EUR 400 and EUR 18,000."


Monday, January 31


Why The Iraqi Elections Passed Me By.

It's been pretty vile weekend here in the world of end-stage renal failure. I've had yet another nasty kidney infection and have spent the weekend alternately shivering and throwing up - Lord, I so don't need this. The worst of it is is that there is no end in sight - or rather there is but the question is when and where. There are times when an end to it seems very attractive, particularly when in excruciating renal colic that no painkiller can touch.

I'm now on the the last type of antibiotic that will actually work, so I have to avoid taking them for as long as possible for fear of lurking bacteria developing resistance. Once that happens there's nothing that will kill the infection, unless someone comes up with a new miracle drug, and my kidneys will fail for good. I've been told by my UK specialist that I am unlikely to be considered a good risk either for perineal or regular kidney dialysis, or a transplant, even should there be a kidney available. Because of a previous bout with cancer and lots of major abdominal surgery my insides are a mass of scar tissue and adhesions, and any transplant surgery would be unlikely to succeed; ditto dialysis.
So that's that then.

Knowing one is going to die and how, but not exactly when, is a bit of a burden. My mother and father both died fairly young, of cancer (my father in his early '50's, my mother at 62) and I am beginning to see their faces in mine when I look in the mirror. The same drawn, gaunt expression, the same inexorable weight loss, the same look of ineffable fatigue.

But still, nil desperandum eh? as my Dad would 've said.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.




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