08 juni 2012

Buurtzorg schiet bok en brengt daarmee minister in verlegenheid

Minister Schipper van Volksgezondheid wil maatregelen, nu uit een onderzoek van Buurtzorg (Thuiszorg) gebleken zou zijn dat patiënten van de thuiszorg meer dan 100 euro aan overgebleven medicijnen, verbandmateriaal en hulpmiddelen in huis zouden hebben.

Al gelijk vroeg ik me af wanneer er sprake is van "over blijven". Is dat na het overlijden van de patiënt? Of als zeker is dat de patiënt niet meer thuis zal wonen? (Maar in dat geval kunnen hulpmiddelen toch nog steeds gebruikt worden?) Maar goed, dat heb ik maar als zodanig aangenomen.

Vandaag blijkt dat het geheel toch nog wel veel knulliger in elkaar zit dan ik in eerste instantie dacht. Het genoemde onderzoek blijkt een enquête te zijn met suggestieve vragen, waar wijkverpleegkundigen gevraagd werd om een inschatting te maken. Het resultaat is gebaseerd op 32 antwoordformulieren.

Kan iemand mij vertellen waarmee we bezig zijn als de minister beleid aankondigt, dat gebaseerd is op vage aannames in plaats van harde feiten? Het verbaast mij telkens weer dat feiten minder belangrijk zijn, dan emoties. Verantwoordelijk daarvoor zijn trouwens niet alleen degenen die de tendentieuze informatie naar buiten brengen, maar ook de media die de informatie gelijk oppikken en groot maken door onmiddellijk een reactie van de vermeend verantwoordelijken te vragen, zonder zelf de feiten  en de bronnen te checken. In de laatste plaats is het natuurlijk jammer dat een minister zich tot uitspraken laat verleiden zonder de feiten te kennen.

20 juli 2011

"Deze trein wordt in Amerfoort opgeheven!"

Hoe kan een dienstverlenend bedrijf bestaan, dat bij voortduring niet in staat is, om de dienst te leveren die het aanbiedt?

Mijn treinreis tussen Schiphol en Zwolle eindigde vandaag weer eens voortijdig in een ongepland oponthoud in Amersfoort omdat de trein die direct naar Zwolle (en verder) had moeten rijden aldaar werd opgeheven. "Herstelwerkzaamheden" was de reden. Maar wat werd er eigenlijk hersteld? Misschien een verkeerde trein op een verkeerde plaats? Een kapot getrokken bovenleiding? Een machinist die eigenlijk al vrij had moeten zijn? Bij de verstoringen op de NS site was niets te zien, alleen de reisplanner gaf een extra reistijd en een overstap in Amersfoort aan.

Nu ben ik normaal gesproken niet iemand die geen begrip kan opbrengen voor onverwachte problemen in het openbaar vervoer. Alleen hoe de Nederlandse Spoorwegen met deze situaties omgaan is keer op keer weer verbijsterend.

Als er namelijk iets mis gaat, dan is er op het perron geen NS petje te bekennen, die de verdwaasde reiziger nog wat extra informatie kan geven. De regel lijkt te zij dat het aantal petjes in gelijke mate afneemt, naar mate de problemen op het spoor groter worden. Kennelijk vindt NS het niet nodig om er op zo'n moment voor de reiziger zichtbaar te zijn (al moet ik toegeven dat ik op zo'n moment ook niet graag de drager van het petje zou willen zijn). NS heeft immers in de eigen ogen al genoeg informatie gegeven, als ze in de trein omroepen dat de treindienst opgeheven is en de reizigers maar eens de volgende trein moeten nemen. Dat er in de volgende trein ook al mensen zitten en de 700 wachtenden op het perron er eigenlijk niet allemaal bij kunnen boeit NS kennelijk niet zo.

Maar vanaf vandaag ga ik terugvechten, heb ik besloten. Ik ga bij vertragingen voortaan lekker bij de volgende trein in de eerste klas zitten. Dat wordt vanaf nu mijn vorm van stil protest tegen alle uren die NS al van mij in mijn leven gestolen heeft, de ontelbare beloftes die NS heeft verbroken, vele niet waar gemaakte verlangens en in een enkel geval zelfs tegen de serieuze gevolgen die het niet leven van de vervoersdienst voor me had.

Laat die conducteur met zijn kniptang of zijn cardreader maar komen en me dwingen mijn zitplaats op te geven. Ik lust hem rauw. Als hij boos wordt, kan hij de wind van voren krijgen. Wil hij mij uit de trein zetten op het spoorvak tussen Amersfoort en Zwolle, dan kan hij een confrontatie verwachten met alle niet geleverde diensten in de afgelopen drie decennia. Een knap mens dat deze jongen uit deze wagen krijgt!

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10 maart 2011

How Mr. Wilders does it: Facts are futile

I found the following article of Rob Wijnberg in my morning paper (nrc·next, March 8, 2011). Of course it was in Dutch, but I felt the urge to translate it (with some help from James). The article makes very clear why it is so difficult to argue with right wing politician Geert Wilders and his followers.

» If you have already called for the end of equality, a tax on headscarves, the deportation of non-Dutch citizens without jobs and the registration of all citizens to ethnicity, it becomes increasingly difficult to surpass yourself.

There was no great indignation when PVV leader Geert Wilders recently suggested that judges should no longer be appointed for life, but that they had to pass the PVV test every six years instead: proof that the judge punishes severe enough. If he does, he may stay, but if he chooses a community service as a punishment too often he better can work for “social services” or be a mental worker, according to Wilders. 



Some commotion was surely to be expected. What the PVV leader was proposing is the elimination of the distinction between jurisdiction and politics. The law and jurisprudence would no longer be the basis for Lady Justice then, but the political winds blowing through the Netherlands. 

If the PVV is high in the opinion polls, a judge may think twice whether he interprets the law merciful: he wants to secure his job. You could call it hypocritical (it was the same Geert Wilders who denounced his own trial as a "political trial") but it is better to call it brilliant power politics: no left-liberal party robe, but a PVV robe.

I am not writing this because of the proposal itself, but I want to detect the strategy that lies behind it. This is not incidental but structural: almost all the proposals of the PVV meet the same criteria. The first step in that strategy is the politicization of a social institution, known for its 'independence' and 'neutrality'. In the past six years, Wilders politically discredited almost every conceivable part of the public domain in the same way.

Judges are left-liberal robed, scientists are environmentalists in sheep's clothing, journalists are socialists with a bloc note, the Queen is a spokeswoman for the multicultural clan, education is the indoctrination machine of cultural relativists, the arts are a hobby of elite bosses. In other words, each institution is secretly part of the “left church” and its agenda.

After this politicization usually there is a step or two to follow: the neutralization of the institute. The PVV wants to terminate the Senate; the seats in the parliament can be brought down from 150 to 100 (so the threshold becomes higher for little parties), the European Parliament - that pursues the European integration – should be dissolved; Public Broadcasting can be minimized to one channel; scientific research on climate change should stop, the Commission Equal Rights can be dissolved, justice must be under political surveillance, the King/Queen should give up his/her position in the government, the arts sector should be transformed into a "free market", Islamic schools should be closed and the rest of the education should be centralized and nationalized. Wilders recently even demanded the dismissal of a principal of a primary school who allowed pupils to celebrate the Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) as if he were the Rector Magnificus of the Netherlands.

Add the fact that Wilders wants to ban the public funding of political parties, while his own party goes through life as a member-less “movement” with secret accounts, and you cannot but conclude that the PVV aims for a society that in political sciences is known as a “totalitarian democracy” - a term introduced in the fifties by the Israeli historian Jacob Talmon.

Note that the term “totalitarian” has connotations that are here not applicable. It does not mean “fascism” or “dictatorship”: such comparisons won’t work. Wilders does not call for violence (and scum-villages are no concentration camps).

No, Talmon says that it is typical for a totalitarian democracy that “the scope of the policy extends to all aspects of human existence”. “It considers all human thoughts and actions as socially meaningful” - and therefore as a part of the political domain. 



That is, ironically, not only a striking summary of revolutionary, communist and radical left positions from the past (“The personal is political”) but also of Wilders ideas. He also sees in every statement or action political significance: every critical question that a journalist asks is a sign of (leftist) bias, all scientific research or any calculation of a planning office that violates the PVV program is a matter of (left ) activism, any court decision that the Freedom Party does not approve is a manifestation of hidden (left) agendas, and every word that the Queen unauthorized expresses is an element of multicultural (left) propaganda, any doctor or teacher that thinks that headscarves or Eid al-Adha are not a problem is an agent of progressive Islamization (facilitated by the left). 



This “politicization of everything” is very successful for two reasons. First, because it is fundamentally irrefutable. Values such as “objectivity”, “neutrality” and “independence” exist only as a theoretical idea. Every major enlightened thinker that advocated an objective science, free press or a neutral and independent judiciary, was therefore always given a lick with the rough side of the tongue by his later postmodern critics: nice in theory, impossible in practice. Above all these scientists, journalists and judges are humans - and humans inevitably take a culture, a vision of the world and political and personal interests with them. 



In short there is nothing to bring in against politicizing. No matter how much research you do and evidence you have that “proves” that the public broadcaster, the court or the science is not as “left” as Wilders claims, the claim that the research itself a product of that “church” (“the Universtity of Amsterdam is a Labour stronghold”, “the Volkskrant is a left parish newsletter”) is enough to disqualify it. In other words, there are no facts, there’s only politics.



The second reason why Wilders’ strategy is so mercilessly effective: it affects the current left wing, progressive (constitutional) parties in their most basic philosophical assumption: the world can be understood through “ratio” and can be explained through “facts”. That of course does not mean that only left parties restrict themselves to the facts, while the right wing is twisting the truth? No, the left assumes that facts speak for themselves and do not need to be embedded in a rhetorical environment that would give them the desired load. 


Look at the most recent video campaign of the Labour Party: that shows a list of amounts (“Child 84 euros more expensive”, “Higher rents 180 euros”, “Bonuses for bankers: 447 million”) and ends with the conclusion “This is not fair”. The assumption behind this is that each rational being cherishes the same definition of justice and numbers “prove” that this government is asocial. That’s a wrong assumption, reality and morality are not only defined by “facts”, but also by language and emotions; you can see child-care as an elitist hobby, or bonuses as a meritocratic ideal. Wilders never says how many immigrants come to the Netherlands, he says only that “the valve is wide open”. That is the art of rhetoric: giving reality a color that is favourable for you.



The PVV leader it seems has learned a lot from Karl Rove, campaign strategist of George W. Bush, who argued that political enemies should not be attacked at their weak spots, but their strong points. By politicizing everything Wilders does exactly that: it undermines the belief in “objectivity” and “neutrality” values where the established order practically has based her whole philosophy on. Arguments that begin with “figures of the Planning Bureau show that…”, “the court believes that…”, “research shows that…”, “according to the Constitution…” - and in that way arguments of his opponents start very often - can therefore be referred to the trash. 



Strategically it’s brilliant, but it also has a dark side: the PVV leader claims any disagreement with his party equals political activism. So everything is going to be a “coup” - an attempt to gag his party. The result is a kind of real-life Truman Show starring the PVV: surrounded by media, scientists and courts that are all secretly acting in a play of the left wing. This is the way the PVV leader wins the trust of ordinary people (Henk and Ingrid), who believe in this play. 



And everybody who says something about it, must be instructed by the Great Left Director. Did you know, for example, that Rob Wijnberg loves classical music, lives next to a Muslim and studied philosophy at the University of Amsterdam? Well, read his article again very carefully. End of discussion.



This is how totalitarian democracy works.



Rob Wijnberg is editor of the left wing messenger. «


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31 januari 2011

Somewhere

This morning I saw "Somewhere" a movie about a movie star who seems to have it all. Of course he doesn't make much out of his succes: women, drugs and horsing around. His live changes when he has to take care of his daughter. The movie is funny in all it's tragedy. One woman in the audience couldn't stop laughing about all the clumsiness of the main character. I liked the movie.

30 januari 2011

Let 'm roll

I saw my first 6 films some we nice some were mysterious and some were confusing. 
Yesterday I saw 3 of those 6 movies together with my festival friend Herman. Funny thing is that although he lives in Amsterdam, I see him once every year at the most: at the IFFR. There are years that we can't meet because he is here on other days then I am or one of us is not here in Rotterdam at all. 

About the movies now: I saw  "Curling" a Canadian movie not about the sport Curling but about a man who wants to protect his 12 year old daughter by isolating her form the outside world. The result is that they live in rural Quebec, where he is home schooling her, they have no tv and the biggest treat is listening to some music when she does something right.  Little by little the man is able to open up the closed system. Very oppressive atmosphere. Not the kind of movie that makes you leave the cinema in a happy mood. 

28 januari 2011

Film Festival Rotterdam started



It's that time of the year again: the IFFR has started and I'm attending it as most of the years. This year I took my iPad and I try to keep track of all the movies as I use to do every year.

(Right now I try to get my iPad to do what I want it to do.)

08 februari 2010

Pays Bas zéro points

Shalalie Shalala sung by Sieneke will be the Dutch entry for the Eurovision Song contest 2010. This is such a shame. How could such a bad song been chosen. It really is the worst entry of The Netherlands ever. I feel as if the clock has turned back to the time of Gerd and Hermien with "All the Pigeons on Dam Square". How can someone expect to get any point from any country with that stupid song?




07 februari 2010

IFFR 2 (Feature Films)

Since there are lots of descriptions of the movies on the Internet, I decided to only rank the movies I have seen from excellent to bad and maybe say a few words about it if necessary.

Excellent:
Eyes Wide Open about homosexuality between orthodox jews (a very controversial subject made credible)
J'ai tué ma mère
don't worry the mother was only killed imaginary. The fights between mother and son are great (how wonderful when everything is screamed in French)
Tales from the Golden Age absurdity in the Romania of Ceausescu but not in a Kafkaesque style, but pure hilarious.

Good:
Zero
Skeletons
Slice surprising movie, certainly at the end
Twisted Roots
My Queen Karo
Bonded Parallels all about heritage

Average:
Zarte Parasiten
Piggies
Los Condenados
Mother
Rapt
Vaho
Down Terrace
Women Without Men
Shirley Adams
Les signes vitaux

Boring:
El pasante
Sailor of Hearts I fell asleep in the middle of the movie.

Bad:
The Ape I hate movies where nothing happens...

IFFR 1 (Documentaries)

During the last International Film Festifal Rotterdam (IFFR) I choose for seeing basically two kinds of movies: documentaries and long feature films. Shorts usually don't do so much for me, so I did not opt for them. This post is about the documentaries. I saw three of them and in their own way they were all ecellent and certainly are worth seeing.

Mi vida con Carlos is the documentary portrait that Germán Berger made of his father Carlos Berger, who was arrested and murdered by the regime right after Pinochet came into power in Chili. German Berger of course is personally involved with the subject, and he is one of the main characters in the documentary. He brought together his mother and his two uncles and made a reconstruction what happened tot the family during the Pinochet regime and the effects on their present lives. The film is a strong and pretty impressive document.

Russian Lessons is about the recent war between Georgia and Russia in august 2008. A Russian couple, both journalist, travel to the war area, but both report from the other side of the frontline. The shocking truth reveals: Russia had planned and orchestrated the war on the Caucasus. And guess what it wasn't even for the first time. While the world believed that it was Georgia who started the aggression, the makers of this movie make it plausible that it could be the other way around. Russia has no interest in strong neighboring states (Ukraine, Georgia) to the South, that are even flirting with the West.

Die Frau mit den fünf Elefanten is the story of Svetlana Geier, who fled from Stalin to Germany and who thought she would give something back to the Germans for their hospitality. So she translates Dostojevsky from Russian to German. The impressive part is the difference between mental strength and the fragile physical appearance of the old lady.

29 januari 2010

Strange but funny video...

I got this strange video via e-mail from Philips today and thought I wanted to share it with you. I couldn't find the English version. If anyone has any thoughts or own experiences and wants to share it, ... I'm very curious.

25 januari 2010

IFFR 2010

16 januari 2010

Lentil soup

As a kid I didn't particularly like lentils. I guess my father didn't like them either and that's why we never had them. My experiences as a kid are limited to my cousins house. My aunt made lentil soup once in a while. I remember that it was made out of brown lentils and that we had to add vinegar to the soup when we wanted to eat it. The soup was very thick and I didn't care for it much.

As a grown up I avoided lentils because of the culinary experiences of my childhood ...until... My first encounter was a few years ago at the Filmfestival in Rotterdam. I was hungry and had only a little time. The little restaurant at the festival was out of any other food then lentil soup. So I had some and I LOVED it. After that I had some lentil soup in Turkish restaurants and tonight I made some myself. Here my recipe which is a fusion between Turkish and Indian.

Ingredients


* 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 carrot, diced
* 1 tin of tomato paste
* 1/2 cup dry red lentils
* 3 cups vegetable stock
* 1 ts minced cilantro
* ground coriander seed
* 2 ts sour cream of yogurt
* half a lemon

Procedure


Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the onion and carrots. Cook for a few minutes, until the vegetables have started to soften, then add the tomato paste and the garlic.

Add the lentils and stock to the pot. Simmer over low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are softened. Then add the sour cream/yogurt, cilantro and coriander seed.

Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a nice addition, preferably immediately before serving.

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05 december 2009

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup: Tom kha gai

Ingredients

  • 1 quart chicken stock, with chicken meat,
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, cracked open with the flat side of a knife
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn
  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 small Thai chilies, halved lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) can straw mushrooms, rinsed
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions

Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, chilies, and garlic. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and gently simmer for 10 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth.

Uncover and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, mushrooms, lime juice, and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat the chicken through; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into a soup tureen or individual serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Be careful to avoid chewing the lemongrass, ginger, or lime leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

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16 november 2009

Stripped

Friday night James and I went to the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam to see Eddie Izzard's show Stripped. James had won us two tickets to the show and used the opportunity to pay a visit to IKEA before we went to see the show.
Eddie Izzard had a great hilarious show in which he proofs that if there is any GOD out there "his plan is very similar to someone not having a plan." But the show is not all about religion it's about history and philosophy as well and then all in a the typical style of British humor somewhere in between Monty Python and French and Saunders.
James and I enjoyed the show very much. By the way I didn't know that there were so many British people living in the Netherlands.

03 november 2009

End of the big break???

Sorry, guys I was not blogging for a long time and I see that I still owe you information about the end of my last trip to the US. (And that was not even my last trip. James and I went to Italy in August).
I will write the last chapter as soon as I finished the last part of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. The books are addicting I must say. But don't worry I am on my last 150 pages of the total 1800 pages. The books were real page turners and I can't wait to go on with it and see how it ends.
I did at least post all pictures on my flickr page now. The pictures from Italy will follow as soon as possible.
Tonight I will update my calender.