February 22nd, 2012

The Game of Thrones

This is too funny a comic (and so true. The swearing on the last image made me chuckle too I admit)

February 22nd, 2012

The Dutch Euthanesia practice (through US politicians eyes)

Our lovely friend Rick Santorum:

In the Netherlands, people wear different bracelets if they are elderly. And the bracelet is: ‘Do not euthanize me.’ Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands but half of the people who are euthanized — ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — half of those people are enthanized 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, they will not come out of that hospital if they go in there with sickness.

It always makes me happy when other people know how things work over here :) Now the good part. The Washington Post did fact checking! With a disclamer too! (Spoiler alert: Rick gets four Pinoccio’s, a high-score mark)

Full disclosure: The Fact Checker’s parents emigrated from Holland and I have direct, personal experience with the practice of euthanasia there. My father’s brother requested euthanasia when he was diagnosed with a terminal disease and after various remedies were ineffective. In the United States, he might have lived another two or three months, in great pain, and likely would have lapsed into a coma before death. But, after a conclusion by the Dutch medical establishment that he had no chance of survival, he arranged for his death at home with his family at his side. He even called me an hour before his death to say good-bye.

Hmmmm, now how does that disclaimer sound? Oh and just for the record, I have never seen a Santorum bracelet in my life! Idiot.

On second thought, let me add a semi-personal note to this. A ex-colleague and good friend of mine told me his fathers story. I will quote freely.

My dad was a janitor at a high school and he was smart, very socially engaged and immensely popular. One day he had an awful stroke which left him paralyzed all over. He could not speak, just write on a small chalk board. His vision was badly impaired too: he could only see a rather small “tunnel” somewhere above and to the side of his center of vision. Most of the time he was looking at the ceiling. His mental capabilities were unaffected.

One day I came to visit him and he pointed me to a stack of documents, indicating I should read them. To my surprise and initial horror it was the entire legal and medical paperwork for his own euthanasia. He had consulted a doctor, the mandatory second opinion, etcetera, etcetera, all by himself. My mom was unable to support him in this in any way. Of course we talked about it through great length, but it was very clear he had made up his mind. He had decided that he had had a wonderful and fulfilling life, and that living on would simply be a dishonor to who he was.

And so, very eerie, a date was set for him to die. Weird. My calendar: May 20th [y-t: I am making up the date of course]: Dad dies, and it was 2 months in the future. When the day finally came, we were all there to say our farewells. Then, the doctor came, who asked him one final time if this was what he really wanted. It was. He administered the lethal injection and we witnessed him peacefully slide away.


February 10th, 2012

What’s your browser “fingerprint”

Mad Magazine‘s Alfred E. Neuman’s mantra was “What me worry?” Well, yes – you should. Peter Eckersley has written an interesting paper for the Electronic Frontier Foundation that is available as a PDF file, “How Unique Is Your Web Browser?”

Today I was fiddling around with a search engine that incorporates a proxy server, and the test results at EFF’s site using “Test ME” http://panopticlick.eff.org were eye opening. Of course I have to take privacy promises from the folks at IXQuick at their word (I don’t) – but still it’s an interesting approach bundling a proxy server into a search engine that promisses privacy. If 5% of the folks using search engines switch over because they think that IXQuick offers privacy that Google and others obviously do not this will be a big shake-up in the way The Internet works. FWIW, I’ll buy into what IXQuick is offering after their technology has been reviewed by 3 or 4 independent experts that are granted all privileges to see what IXQuick has implemented; at present all the assurances of privacy come from IXQuick “corporate.” If IXQuick is on the up-and-up that should all happen very soon.

February 10th, 2012

A extraordinary man

This morning, around 1:30 AM my father passed away. Three of his four children were next to his bedside as well as two of my sons.

Life was no fun for him the last few months and I cannot view this other than a relief for his poor strained body. If anything, he is a better place.

I will do his eulogy coming Wednesday.

How sweet of you all to be here this morning. We, the children, love you all equally of course, but please allow me to say a word of special gratitude to Trudy and her colleagues, who have have taken care of Harm, an extraordinary man after all, with so much patience, love and compassion. We are intensely and sincerely grateful to you all.

An extraordinary man.

It’s asking for trouble when a father tries to impersonate the use of language of his children. When I came home a few years ago and instigated by a client and against my somewhat better judgement I told my kids I thought something or somebody was “lauw” [means lukewarm] instead of “cool” or “hot” or “fat”, I was met with surprised but sorry looks, while one of them added “Well sorry dad, but really, you can’t do that? ‘Lauw’, I mean, nobody says that anymore, not for the last couple of years anyway”. Okaaaaay.

So, when I started probing the new generation what they thought about their granddad, their qualification was simply “grandpa was boss”. And for the older youngsters here, I have been told that is supposed to be pronounced as “baassch”. From what I understand, and by now you should be a bit sceptical about that, it is the modern term for what you all found written on the funeral card: Strong, Unique, Willfull. And stubborn as a mule. We would probably say “An extraordinary man”.

An extraordinary man, as most of you probably have experienced. When mom and dad threw a party for the neighborhood, he would get up around midnight and announce he’d go to bed, leaving the others in a state of bewilderment. The neighbors because they were wondering if this was a not-so-very-subtle hint, and my mom for a short moment, wondering if it would be possible or not to be put in a more embarrassing situation. The parties continued of course.

An extraordinary man, who could seemingly fall asleep in the middle of a conversation. For his colleagues it was a cue that their meeting had deteriorated to senseless babbling, for my brother Harm an exquisite opportunity to place the butter dish under his slowly falling chin. Something that earned my sister True an unwarranted smack.

An extraordinary man, who could do anything. When during a fall storm rainwater was literally pouring down the chimney wall, he earned himself the eternal admiration of my mom by gluing a sheet of plastic through the water against the wall diverting it into a bucket. And that admiration was very needed indeed: he had bought that cold cold, petroleum heated ruin, including a half functioning sewer without her consent after a job switch. Hey, he was the man after all!

An extraordinary man, who did not interfere with the kids that much, after all, that was in my mom’s “job description”, but who on the other hand always did everything to ensure we would do better. Teaching, always knowing better, often grumbling how things should improve, nagging about the small things, but then, surprisingly easy, forgiving and generous on the big things, the things that mattered.

An extraordinary man, who always ensured our not too small family went on vacation abroad every single year, and I am not talking Northern Belgium either. We tend to forget that this is a must nowadays, twice a year that is, but in the 60’s, that was most certainly not the norm. And we, the kids, learned a lot from that. Not that the car ever stopped by the way. “When it rains, we drive”, “You can pee in that bottle” and “Oh, we JUST passed that parking lot?” have become serious words in our family.

An extraordinary man, with whom, and over whom we have laughed tremendously. And in line with those vacations, let me give you a cliffhanger. Ask my sis True about “The Camping Bed”. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

An extraordinary man, with a strong sense of justice, who not only quit a new job after he discovered this would not be his thing, but also returned his salary: his opinion was simply that the company had not benefited in any way.

An extraordinary man, who, together with my mom, bravely and with all his weight (literally and figuratively) scared away two armed bank robbers from the local bank office. When they were already in their 70’s that is.

My dad….. was an extraordinary man. My dad…… was “Baassch”.

Johannes Brahms, 3rd symphony, 3rd part Poco Allegretto

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Shirley Bassey, The Performance Of My Life (uh huh, he liked Shirley)

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Gustav Mahler, 2nd symphony, part 4, Urlicht (primeval light)

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O Röschen rot!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Not!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Pein!
Je lieber möcht’ ich im Himmel sein.
Da kam ich auf einen breiten Weg:
Da kam ein Engelein und wollt’ mich abweisen.
Ach nein! Ich ließ mich nicht abweisen!
Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott!
Der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben,
Wird leuchten mir bis in das ewig selig Leben!

O red rose!
Man lies in greatest need!
Man lies in greatest pain!
How I would rather be in heaven.
There came I upon a broad path
when came a little angel and wanted to turn me away.
Ah no! I would not let myself be turned away!
I am from God and shall return to God!
The loving God will grant me a little light,
Which will light me into that eternal blissful life!

John Rutter – Distant land

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A picture of him at the funeral of my mother, 3 years ago.


February 2nd, 2012

The Gun

I don’t like weapons. At all. I don’t like war (naturally), I do not like the excesses of war. I don’t appreciate violence (which is why I hardly watch any television anymore). Then on TED, with a definite Dutch accent, Peter van Uhm, the Dutch chief of defense, explains why he choose The Gun.

Maybe it is good to mention that in my country we have no tradition of “respect for the soldier”, the “honor of serving once country”, that is rooted far far deeper in US society.

Note: Van Uhm lost a son in the Afghanistan war in 2008.художник на икониИкони на светци