Saturday, December 29, 2007

Small country = small talk

A story about the country of my origins, The Netherlands (also known as the Low Lands and not Holland).

Some years ago there were a couple of young Moroccan "boys" who fabricated a "shocking" *cough* hiphop track, which threatened one of the extreme right populists "politicians" *coughing loudly* to kill him.

Name of Politician: Geert Wilders
Name of Moroccan hiphop "formation" *again that cough*: Youssef & Kamal

The song:

Soon, the whole country was in panic and Mr. Wilders felt afraid of being murdered. The boys apologised and made a new song to show how sincere they were:

Today the news came out that the boys have a new song and executed Mr. Widers in the video (the conventional way with some sort of knife). Mr. Wilders became angry and now he threatens the boys with legal sanctions. The website that uploaded the song can be found here and the song:

Mr. Wilders is known in the Netherlands as the "politician" (darn, what an awful word) who favours a change in the Dutch constitution in order to prohibit the Islamic belief in the "country of tolerance" *coughing till puking*.

Some things that come into mind:

"freedom of expression"- surely, before the Internet people also expressed their wish to execute someone. However, naturally this did not became known. Ultimately leading to the thought: "can we say less due to the information flows" or "did society become less tolerant (perhaps not the best word to describe it - maybe "innocent" is better)

"how serious to take two little boys, who obviously do not have any musical gifts" - I mean seriously now, these little boys can't be a threat to national security (or can they?).

"finally" - at the end of the day, what is worse: a constitutional reconfiguration in order to ban a religion, inevitably leading to segregation (and God knows what more), proposed by a democratically elected "politician" or two boys that never made it to their A-levels, because primary school was difficult enough?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hollywood Craze

Merry Jesus Day!

Here, some Hollywood craze, enjoy some cheap piracy products from Google.

Spiderman III

American Pie V (Yawn)

Saw IV (click here)

Sunday, December 23, 2007


On a cold winter night you can taste Moscow
Cold, white snow
Icy streets
And potato selling aged women at metro Shchukinskaya
So much misery, so much pride
Russian melancholy
And Pushkin's poetry
In the streets of Moscow

Winter evening

Storm has set the heavens scowling,
Whirling gusty blizzards wild,
Now they are like beasts a-growling,
Now a-wailing like a child;
Now along the brittle thatches
They will scud with rustling sound,
Now against the window latches
Like belated wanderers pound.
Our frail hut is glum and sullen,
Dim with twilight and with care.
Why, dear granny, have you fallen
Silent by the window there?
Has the gale's insistent prodding
Made your drowsing senses numb,
Are you lulled to gentle nodding
By the whirling spindle's hum?
Let us drink for grief, let's drown it,
Comrade of my wretched youth,
Where's the jar? Pour out and down it,
Wine will make us less uncouth.
Sing me of the tomtit hatching
Safe beyond the ocean blue,
Sing about the maiden fetching
Water at the morning dew.
Storm has set the heavens scowling,
Whirling gusty blizzards wild,
Now they sound like beasts a-growling,
Now a-wailing like a child.
Let us drink for grief, let's drown it,
Comrade of my wretched youth,
Where's the jar? Pour out and down it,
Wine will make us less uncouth.

--- Pushkin

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blair and his Religion

Some political oriented news today.

Blair has today been openly converted to catholism - yet another sign of the increasing "religiousation" of modern politics. Even after his step-down, Blair is still a leading figure in the worldwide political scene, something which is reaffirmed by the fact that his speeches are better attended (and bring more money in) than those of Clinton's. Moreover, former politicians play an important in institutions (think tanks, advising agencies, informal relations etc) that have a direct impact on the political decision making apparatus. Finally, who knows what Blair will do professionally in a couple of years (eg. World Bank, IMF or even the UN).

The fact that he joined the catholic club (cause that is was all religions are, clubs), brings him in an awkward position towards topics such as abortion, homosexuality, aids and yes also the Islam. I can't understand how it is possible to one the hand follow the rules of the Vatican (or the Bible) and on the other of the electorate. This seems to be paradoxical and in conflict with all that the Enlightenment has given us. I believe that if you are to become a public and political figure (especially as a PM) internationally or nationally, you should be forced to choose between either the Divine or the humanistic path - not both (during and after your carreer). Who knows, what Blair's God (no not Bush, the other one) has whispered to him in his "war against terror" (a war that is from both sides religiously driven).

Friday, December 21, 2007

French culture

Some time ago I read an article in Times Magazine, claiming that French culture was tead.

"Once admired for the dominating excellence of its writers, artists and musicians, France today is a wilting power in the global cultural marketplace."

I was not even upset by its general statement, but even more by the arguments it provided for its conclusion.

"[N]obody takes culture more seriously than the French... Every French town of any size has its annual opera or theater festival, nearly every church its weekend organ or chamber-music recital... All of these mighty oaks being felled in France's cultural forest make barely a sound in the wider world."

Fortunately, I was not the only one that felt the need to defend the French as even the English (who always find themselves arguing with the French) were outraged by the American claims. The Guardian wrote a full page arguing that the article, probably said more about contemporary American culture than about the French one.

I mean, really, to claim for the "Deaht of French culture" is not only attacking French grounds - but Europe in general and perhaps culture at large. This is not to say that French culture is the world culture, but merely that French culture is embedded in a world culture.

Some French- English culture (a Jacques Brel- influenced song from a French group singing in English, with an Middle Eastern influenced singer) Beirut - "Elephant Gun"

And another one, live on the streets where the culture lies, instead of in the blockbusters that Times Magazine searches for it.

Grizzly Bear - Knife

This is the new clip of the British indie band, Grizzly Bear (link to clip director). The song is wonderful, but the video must be one the best I have ever seen. It has a lot of El Topo elements in it (For you that can't remember the movie, click here) and is quite hallucinating. It is psychedelic, it is original, its simply good stuff. The lyrics and song are also wonderful, probably the best song of the year...

Enjoy, really do (and tell me what you think)!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Easy Rider

I saw Easy Rider a looong time ago and was happy to find it online yesterday. I imagine this film to probably need no introduction :), so enjoy!

Plot: Two young "hippie" bikers, Wyatt and Billy sell some dope in Southern California, stash their money away in their gas-tank and set off for a trip across America, on their own personal odyssey looking for a way to lead their lives. On the journey they encounter bigotry and hatred from small-town communities who despise and fear their non-conformism. However Wyatt and Billy also discover people attempting 'alternative lifestyles' who are resisting this narrow-mindedness, there is always a question mark over the future survival of these drop-out groups. The gentle hippie community who thank God for 'a place to stand' are living their own unreal dream. The rancher they encounter and his Mexican wife are hard-pushed to make ends meet. Even LSD turns sour when the trip is a bad one. Detah comes to seem the only freedom. When they arrive at a diner in a small town, they are insulted by the local rednecks as weirdo degenerates. They are arrested on some minor pretext by the local sheriff and thrown in jail where they meet George Hanson, a liberal alcoholic lawyer. He gets them out and decides to join them on their trip to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras (IMDB).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


A couple of more cartoons, just before I head of to the library!


Los Angeles Lets Be Friends (Music by Basement Jaxx and others)


Need to go to Toilet

UN Summit on Climate Change

The UN summit on climate change just finished. Below the summary in cartoon form.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas in China

Last year around this time I was teaching research methodology to Chinese undergrads in a freezing university class room too far from Shanghai. Christmas was just another working day and so was New Year’s Eve. The birthday of Jesus and the annual tradition of Christmas trees, bells, reindeers and all things that could be related to the Christian holidays (glowing red substances hanging in departed trees, romantic chimney fires and too fat Santa Class Coca Cola ads) seemed to be a mere abstract Western phenomenon to the vast majority of my class room. So what!? I thought, I am what many believed to be an atheist myself (although I am not so sure of that just yet). However, it made me think (rest assured it was just for a second).

China has according to Wikipedia about 4 million Catholics and 10 million Protestants, India has according to that same source 24 million Christians. Now, 40 million on a population of 2,5 billion (almost half of the world population) who do not believe that Christmas is relevant for their spiritual survival, is not a staggering lot. We can come to a couple of obvious conclusions here; a) those European missionaries did an awful job b) the lack of Christianity does not seem to hold people back from enjoying their lives and c) there is a lack of evidence that religion and capitalism are interrelated (sorry Weber!). However, perhaps we could come to even broader questions. I remember talking about Christmas in my classroom, where it came from and what it meant. One of my students raised his hand and asked me a question which I already initially was afraid of to be asked.

Student A: “Why is Jesus white and looks so European when is he is born in the Middle East”?
(He had me nailed there.)
Me: “Well… that is a good question; uhhhh… Jesus is a Western religion and thus people feel more comfortable with a reflection of something that looks similar to them”.
Student A: “So, if I want to believe in Jesus, I can claim he is Chinese looking?”
Me: “Sure, Christians claim to be benevolent, so why not?”

Soon the dialogue evolved in a general discussion among everybody in the class, something which is quite unique in Chinese classrooms. Somebody else raised her hand and asked:

Student B: “Why do we have to believe in Jesus, Sir?” Somebody told me that if we don’t believe in him, we go to Hell – is that true?”
(That put me again in an awkward position.)
Me: “You don’t go to Hell if you don’t believe in Him, don’t worry”
Student B: “So we can interpret the Bible as we want?”
Me: “yes”
Student B: “So if everything written in there is relative, why does the Bible exists”?
Me: “So that everybody is nice to each other and follows general rules”
Student B: “So Jesus is like our politicians?”

I smiled at her, turned back to the school board and continued my lecture on comparative case studies. Jesus skipped China in his legacy and Christmas will most likely remain a normal working day for the forthcoming two millennia. God bless.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some Marxian thought

Today some more insights in the beauties of Marx! The person that proposed the idea of dialectic materialism as the explaining and driving force in the course of history. The first few mp3 files are purely introductory, while the latter ones are more a contemporary critique of society.

What is class? - Dave Weltman (2006)

About historical materialism - Rob Owen (2006)

The Dialectic - Andy Lawson (2006)

Theories Of Imperialism - Alex Callinicos (Yes, Callinicos) (2006)

The New Imperialism - David Harvey and Alex Callinicos (2005)

The New Imperialism - David Harvey and Alex Callinicos (both in discussion) (2005)

*with thanks to Resistance MP3 and The Mighty Owl

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Black Desire

I have always very much enjoyed listening to Noir Desir, to my opinion probably the best pop band of the 1990s. Their lyrics are dark, intsense yet very poetic. If only Betrand Cantat did not get charged with muerder... they still could have done so much more. I cant wait till he gets out of prison and starts making music again.

Le Vent Nous Portera

A l'Anvers a l'Endroit


Des Armes

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Wake up America....

Some easy political movies, well worth a watch if only to discuss the wider implications and validity of the statements and arguments made.

Zeitgeist (probably the better of the two) - Religion as doctrine, violence as control, finance as exploitation

America: Freedom to Fascism (I think this was shown at Cannes - US illegal income tax)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I have a bad case of diarrhea

Japanese Jam on the beauties of diarrhea

Triple A

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

M- Eine Stadt sucht einen Morder

Definitely time for something new on this blog. I have always liked Fritz Lang. An amazing director in a time where modernism was increasingly visualised in the arts. I personally appreciate Lang more than Hitchcock, if only for the fact that the former continued in his obscure film niche, while Hitchcock was much more of a "Hollywood" director. Lang had something Kafkasian over him, something which made his movies more real (albeit more pessimistic, perhaps).

Anyways, "blablablabalabalabalaba", see it for yourself, here is "M"!

Plot: A psychotic child murderer stalks a city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it nearly impossible for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves. Besides, he is giving them a bad name.