Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Crazyness

The Indonesian website Tempointeraktif just reported that Pollycarpus, the Garuda pilot who killed human rights activist Munir, was granted a month long holiday leave from prison. This makes my blood boil! I'm sure that this emotion does not match the Christmas spirit, but I just cannot help it. In May this year Pollycarpus was finally sentenced to twenty years in prison for pouring arsenic in Munir's orange juice three years ago. After serving six months and 'behaving well', he can already spend a months in freedom with his family.

Simultaneously, the suspected mastermind of the murder, Muchdi, former deputy director of Indonesia's state intelligence agency, is on trial and awaiting the 31st of December when he will be sentenced. The prosecution only asked the court for a 15 year sentence, which is naturally far too lenient.

The Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has stated that the Munir case would be a testcase for Indonesian democracy. He committed to ensuring the murderers would be sentenced. It is however to be seen whether these sentences will match the crime committed and whether they will actually be carried out accordingly. Read more in Inside Indonesia.

As each year with Christmas, my thoughts go out to Munir's wife, Suciwati, and their two beautiful children. And of course to all those people that strive for justice; not only for Munir, but also for all other victims of human rights violations in the world.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh, the Places You’ll Go…

When I graduated, my favorite philosophers gave me a little book, called "Oh, the places you'll go!". Be you young or old, this should be a guide forever!

A poem by Dr. Seuss
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gotan Project @ Melkweg

Sunday was the big day that Gotan project came to perform in Amsterdam. They put up quite a show; they first appeared behind a screen where images were projected onto - of Argentina, of people dancing the tango, pretty lips from up close. Then the screen lowered and the full band was shown with all its style. First wearing black suits, later all dressed in brisk white. The tango dancers naturally made me want to take lessons, so I can do what they do...

Despite the signs saying 'No recording of any kind', I decided to try my luck. Not the most fantastic quality imaginable, but at least it's evidence to the fact I was there ;) They played my favorite songs 'La viguela' (see below) and 'Mi confesion' of which I post the music video.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Every Human Has Rights - Campaign Highlights from Every Human Has Rights on Vimeo.

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the campaign website of 'Every human has rights' there a lot of information about the state of human rights. Amnesty urges everyone to fire up for human rights.

Below are the first ten articles as mentioned in the UDHR. I especially like the third: 'You have the right to live and to live in freedom and safety'. The rest can be read here.

1 When children are born, they are free and each should be treated in the same way. They have reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a friendly manner.

2 Everyone can claim the following rights, despite
- a different sex
- a different skin colour
- speaking a different language
- thinking different things
- believing in another religion
- owning more or less
- being born in another social group
- coming from another country
It also makes no difference whether the country you live in is independent or not.

3 You have the right to live, and to live in freedom and safety.

4 Nobody has the right to treat you as his or her slave and you should not make anyone your slave.

5 Nobody has the right to torture you.

6 You should be legally protected in the same way everywhere, and like everyone else.

7 The law is the same for everyone; it should be applied in the same way to all.

8 You should be able to ask for legal help when the rights your country grants you are not respected.

9 Nobody has the right to put you in prison, to keep you there, or to send you away from your country unjustly, or without good reason.

10 If you go on trial this should be done in public. The people who try you should not let themselves be influenced by others.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Grief and Hope

The photomuseum in The Hague exhibits three photocollections made by famous Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf. I was very impressed with his work. Even though the pictures are more like paintings than photos, in the sense that they are highly styled and perfected, the images are strong. Here are the photos that struck me most, from the series Hope and Grief - more can be found on Olaf's website

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Economics 101

Last Thursday financial journalist Keith Stafford shared the basics of financial reporting in this time of crisis with me and my colleagues at Free Voice. For me, economics has been the subject in high school I failed at miserably. I did pass eventually, but now only remember Keynes' anticyclic spending policies (and use this concept to justify spending money when I'm broke). This lunch lecture was therefore perfect for me.

The content however got me down... Of course I know this crisis will not pass in a day, but Keith warns us that it may take five years for the balance to be restored. In 2009 we can expect some really nasty stuff, including high unemployment, he says. Common people will really then start to notice the effects. And not only in the West, in developing countries even more so.

So, not a lot to be happy about. There seems to be only some good news for producers of chocolate, as in times of crisis more people apparently buy chocolate (instead of white goods). Well, luckily Sinterklaas visited the office later in the day, which lifted our spirits somewhat. It seems we all have to brace for impact.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rodrigo y Gabriela @ Paradiso

Soon the entire concert will be available via www.fabchannel.com (and hopefully so will Lizz Wright's concert...), but for now I only have my own amateur recording to show here. Pretty amazing what music they make with just the two of them. They sure have great fingers - and knuckles ;) Paradiso was buzzing, the crowd (including me) was happily into it; very nice concert!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sinterklaas en zwarte piet, vergeet Amis Boersma niet!

This time of the year is the very best. Why? Because Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands of course. It makes me wish I was 8 years old again... But oh well, 29 works fine for me too: I'm still in eager anticipation of the 5th of December and still enjoy the Bert and Ernie Sinterklaas CD, which I know completely by heart. Sorry, this one's actually only fun for Dutch speakers... Dus veel plezier, jongens! ;)

"Wachten duurt lang, lang, lang, wat duurt dat wachten lang"

"Ik strooi snoeeeeeeeep... Handen omhoog, Sinterklaas is in de stad!"

Inspired by IDFA

Not only my friend Miriam (who is about to make an interesting documentary herself by the way) has been inspired by IDFA; I too was very moved and thrilled by the documentaries I've seen. So here's a short impression:

Lucanamarca gave a balanced account of how people deal with the atrocities that were committed by the Sendero Luminoso in Peru. One of the filmmakers also produces the Peruvian Kids News Program NAPA (No Apto Para Adultos), so we attended the showing with a large Freevoice delegation.

The second documentary I saw was Hair India. In this film it's wonderfully shown how this world does not make sense: a poor Indian family goes on a long journey to give away their only possession - their hair - as offerings to their gods. The temple then sells all the long hair to an Indian hotshot businessguy, who has it combed, wrapped and shipped. The hair is flown to Italy, where it is treated and made into perfect hair extensions, which are sold at ridiculously high prices. 'Great Lengths' is worn by the biggest stars.. Yeah, it's all about the money.

Burma VJ - Reporting From a Closed Country was awarded twice (VPRO award and Human Rights Award) and rightfully so. It's a great portrayal of the courage and determination many Burmese journalists show. The Democratic Voice of Burma, and other Burmese media, deserve all the credit they can get. Keep it up, guys!

Shared Children was the only Dutch documentary I saw and it was quite moving as well. It tells the story of two brothers who have to deal with the fact that their parents are divorced and now have new families. This leads to many conflicts of loyalties and confusion. The filmmaker, Frans Bromet, has a great way to show Dutchness in its purest form.

Man on Wire was the last one I saw and it completely lifted my spirits after all those 'heavy' films. How great to see that someone can do the impossible! On August 7th 1974 Philippe Petit walked a wire between the Twin Towers of World Trade Center in New York, wow... The magic is even more intense since those buildings have disappeared from the Big Apple landscape.