October 13th, 2007

The wisdom of Ghandi

I never knew he said this. Kinda interesting. Don’t accuse me of Christianity-bashing please, I think this statement is very more interesting if you start swapping the belief-system.

October 10th, 2007

The periodic table

Remember high school, learning the periodic tables first 20 elements? HHeLiBeBCNOF – NeNaMgAlSiPS – ClArKCa? And wondering what everybody is talking about when they say “Web 2.0 applications”? Well here is one really cool one, especially if you select a property and start fiddling with the slider.

Periodic Table

Added: Sorry, I forgot the link, please retry.

October 10th, 2007

The day against the death penalty…

… is today. In 2006 there were 25% less executions than in 2005.

October 8th, 2007

The beauty of language (and women)

We use the word “Photoshop” virtually unchanged in our language, as in “whoa, they photoshopped her for sure”. The word “photo” is spelled as “foto” though, but the pronounciation is virtually the same as in English. Now, “to fib” here is worded as “jokken” (pronounce as “yock’n”). You got it, a new word is emerging here, “fotojokken” (to photo-fib). It has a tight fit/rhyme with “photoshoppen” (the Dutchyfied verb form of “to photoshop”) and my God does EVERYBODY knows what it means inuitively.

A movement is urging especially women’s magazines to either declare themselves “un-photoshopped” or state which pictures are “shopped”. Among quite a few local magazines,  including Opzij, a feminist magazine, even Playboy promised they would put a logo “Photoshop-free” or “Photoshopped” on the cover of their September issue. I surely hope this will stick a bit.

I love what Dove’s doing through the dove self-esteem fund too. Previously with the well know clip going from photosession to billboard, this campaign’s slogan is: “Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does“.

October 8th, 2007

The fools

I truly defend the right for everybody to have their believe system or to speak freely (even if I wholeheartedly disagree), but remodeling a respected man’s work to one’s own and then presenting it as his, is beyond free speach. Fair use excerpt:

Censored versions of Sir David’s award winning programmes have been broadcast in Holland without any references to evolution, speciation, descent and timescales of millions of years, after being censored by Christian creationists who are opposed to Charles Darwin’s ideas.

“Instead of saying “70 million years ago, something happens,” they say “a very long time ago something happens”. They also omit paragraphs such as: “This is inherited from my warm-blooded ancestors,”" Sir David told the Telegraph. “I would much rather they kept to the letter, as far as that is possible, of what I said.”

The edits by the public broadcasting organisation Evangelische Omroep (EO, Evangelical Broadcasting) have triggered howls protests about “deviations and sins of omission” from Dutch scientists, led by Dr Gerdien de Jong, an evolutionary biologist at Utrecht University.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is my country too. Here’s a link of Sir David Attenborough letter to the protestors.

October 7th, 2007

The toy factory

This is where toys come from (25 pictures).

Where tpys come from

October 7th, 2007

The belief system and polio

My country is one of the most de-churched in western Europe. Per December 2005 the rough statistics are:

  • Christianity (either catholic or protestant): 43%
  • Islam: 6%
  • Other: just over 2%
  • None: 49%

Despite these figures 70% indicates it feels “connected” with Christianity. My conclusion is that roughly 22% are real atheists, and 27% are more or less Christians but do not feel bonded with the bible, church or anything. Children of Muslims are almost exclusively muslims too. About 30% of children of Christians divert from Christianity, making these pretty fluid figures.

What triggered me to write about this? This article, emphasis and wikipedia link by me.

When it comes to eradicating polio, the world is facing a dilemma. Developing countries can no longer be sure that using relatively cheap live polio vaccines will extinguish the virus, (…)

The dilemma has been brought into focus by news that a strain of polio the world has already eradicated has re-emerged in northern Nigeria.

In 2003, cases of wild polio virus skyrocketed in Nigeria after its religious leaders denounced vaccination. “Vaccination only really recovered last year,” says Bruce Aylward, head of the World Health Organization’s polio eradication campaign, and the number of people with polio has fallen with it. This year Nigeria has had 191 cases of polio as of 25 September, compared to 836 by the same date in 2006.

Why oh why does this keep on happening one asks. Please don’t put it on “dark African ignorance” please, thanks.

October 5th, 2007

The horses

Truly amazing.

October 5th, 2007

The end of a bank

After 183 years the oldest bank in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world, ABN-AMRO, comes to an end. Eight months of fierce battling between on one hand British bank Barclays and on the other hand what was called “the back trio” (Belgian Fortis, Royal bank of Scotland and Spanish Santander) ended today when at closure only a fraction of the stocks were offered to Barclays, who had insisted on 80%. It’s offer, untill June preferred by ABN-AMRO, was lower and in less plain cash than the trio’s, who will cut it in pieces.

It was grandiose. Amongst other moves, ABN-AMRO sold for 15 billion Euro’s (21Bln$) it’s American bank LaSalle, which was by many regarded as a “sick pill move”, cause it would probably make Santander loose interest. That transaction went through a few court rulings.

What is kinda interesting is that this deal is valued aroud 71 billion Euro’s, making it the biggest ever M&A deal in the financial sector worldwide (so say the newspapers). I am waiting for a good book to be published about this, if possible comparable with the fantastic “Barbarians at the gate, the fall or RJR Nabisco”, which I read in one go.

October 3rd, 2007

The incident

Yesterday evening I cam home around 8:45PM. My son came on his bicycle from hockey training around 10:00PM, to find the road toward our house red-taped and like four police cars scattered. Mind you this was 300 feet from our house. Turned out there had been shooting. One guy says he was attacked by a stranger and fired out of self defence. Shooter arrested, victim hospitalized.

Pretty strange, and a bit uneasy. Read the last bullet on this post to understand weapon possession laws here better.