Source: the Netherlands
Or rather the paradox that is the Netherlands
I would like to say the Netherlands is just like any other nation on the planet. But that would be lying.
It already starts with the name. Is it Holland or the Netherlands? Technically and officially it is the Netherlands but the Dutch also tend to accept Holland when people refer to the Netherlands. It is actually the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 2 of the 12 Provinces carry the name Holland, South and North.
If you get over the confusion of the name and you take a risk into the history of the country, things get very clear. No I am kidding it doesn’t.
In general countries turn from Monarchies into Republics, not so the case for the Netherlands. They were a republic twice.
The first time around from 1588 to 1795 as “the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands” when part of the Netherlands separated from Spanish rule.
In early 1795, intervention by French revolutionary forces led to the downfall of the old Dutch Republic and a new republic was born with the name “the Batavian Republic.
This lasted until 1806 when a French chap called Napoleon Bonaparte took a shine to the country.
In 1813 Napoleon was defeated and on 20 November of that year the then Prince of Orange Willem Frederik van Oranje-Nassau became the sovereign of the state. After the re-unification of the Northern ad Southern provinces in 1814 it was decided that on 16 March 1815, Prince Willem would be crowned King and henceforth the country became a Monarchy
Why Dutch? There doesn’t appear to be a clear explanation where the name Dutch came from, it is probably a confused version of Deutsch which is from our neighbors at the east.But let me stress we are not the same people.
The Dutch are known for their generosity towards their fellow man but on the other hand they are also know to be a bit tight, sayings like “Going Dutch” illustrates this. And yes the Dutch are generous they give substantial donations to charities and they willingly invite those who are in need of help.
However before we get carried away on how great the Dutch are. There are some black pages in the Dutch history books. And no I am not talking about the Dutch national team not qualifying for Euro 2016,embarrassing as it is it doesn’t constitute a black era in the history books.
During the 16th and the 17th centuries,the so called Golden ages, the Dutch gathered enormous amounts of wealth via colonization and by exploiting the colonies for their minerals,spices,gold, silver and via slavery. The Dutch were among the biggest slave traders.
Although the climate is a C-Climate being a moderate sea climate, there can be exteme differences in temperatures from -20deg c in winter to 42deg c in summer, albeit not like that every year, it does regularly happen.
Because of the often severe winters , skating on natural ice is very popular. In the most Northern province ,when weather permits is there is skate marathon called “de elfsteden tocht” meaning the 11 cities tour which is a track of about 200 KM, for it to be held there needs to be severe frost for several weeks. The last one was held in 1997.
It is said that when a vote was taken which language was going to be spoken in the US , the Dutch language only was short 1 vote. How different the Hollywood movies would have been.
Most of the vegetables you see in supermarkets come from the Netherlands even though it is one of the countries with the highest density population wise.
The biggest enemy of the Dutch is basically the North Sea, but through the innovative approach by the Dutch in most all aspects of life, they appear to be winning that battle albeit at a high cost. During the floods of 1953, about 1500 people perished. The Delta works are engineering at its best and is second to none.
Currently the population is close to 17 Million, packed in a country the size of Munster in Ireland but yet there is enough county side around, the Dutch are very creative with their spaces, they always have been. Ironically we are also the tallest people in the world.
With a few blemishes in the history the Netherlands, in all it’s complexity is a great nation.
The walking dead
The extremely popular TV show is currently in its 8th season
I am a great fan of the show although it is coming to the stage where they should be considering bringing it to an end.
Before to the Walking Dead I wasn’t really that interested in the whole zombie genre,prior to that the only 2 movies I had seen were The Evil Dead and Braindead and frankly I wasn’t too impressed by them.
However “the Walking dead” captured my imagination maybe it is because the characters are well written and it is very character driven rather than the special effects which are also pretty cool.
It made me wonder though where did this global fascination come from and where did it originate?
A zombie is a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse The term comes from Haitian Folklore, where a Zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic. Modern depictions of zombies do not necessarily involve magic but invoke other methods such as viruses.
There is some speculation that the word derives from West African languages – ndzumbi means ‘corpse’ in the Mitsogo language of Gabon, andnzambi means the ‘spirit of a dead person’ in the Kongo language. These were the areas where European slavers forcibly transported vast numbers of the population across the Atlantic to work in the sugar cane plantations of the West Indies, the vast profits of which motored the rise of France and England to world powers. The Africans took their religion with them. However, French law required slaves to convert to Catholicism. What emerged was a series of elaborate synthetic religions, creatively mixing elements of different traditions: Vodou or Voodoo in Haiti, Obeah in Jamaica, Santeria in Cuba.
The zombie, in effect, is the logical outcome of being a slave
The English word zombie is first recorded in 1819, in “a History of Brazil” in the form Zombi by the poet Robert Southey.
Nowadays Zombies have become a billion dollar industry with movies like “I am Legend” making $585,349,010 and “World War Z” making a meager $540,007,876. Not even to mention the success of the various books and graphic novels
It was also the inspiration for me to give it a go, hence Not Just a Guide Dog, be it with a different twist.
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From chapter 9 of Not Just a Guide-Dog.
Making a Murderer, the Steven Avery case
+++++ This Blog contains spoiler alerts++++++++
I watched the Netflix “Making a Murderer” over the last few days and last night I watched the ID Documentary “Steven Avery:Innocent or Guilty” they also referred to the Netflix documentary
Now I am not an investigator or law enforcement agent that’s why I am reserving my judgement whether he is Innocent or Guilty.
In fact at this stage it doesn’t really matter anymore whether he is or he isn’t.
Regardless of all the opinions and evidence used in the case there is one point which just can’t be refuted and that is the issue of ‘Reasonable Doubt’ and the handling by the Police in this case really creates enough cause to apply Reasonable Doubt. I know the term itself is vague enough but if you put all the things together you can only come to one conclusion which is that the DA and the Police are guilty of obstructing the cause of justice, that on its own should have been grounds to throw the case out of court.
It is going back to the 1st time Steven Avery had already spent 10 years in jail for a crime he hadn’t committed.
In 1995 Sgt Coburn who then worked at corrections gets a call from a law enforcement officer telling him that they have the wrong man in jail for the rape of a woman. Sgt Coburn does nothing with this information, he doesn’t even report it.Only 8 years later a few days before Steven Avery gets released he writes a report about it.When Steven Avery actually got out with new DNA evidence. This clearly indicates his incompetence. Does he get disciplined for this? No.
I will not go into all the details of the case or documentaries I will leave up to yourselves to watch it , and please do watch it because it will be one of the most amazing stories you will ever hear.
I will however pick up a few facts which I found bizarre that they weren’t followed up on.
In about 80% of all cases where someone goes missing and ends up dead, a family member or someone close to the victims is the perpetrator.
Ryan Hillegas who was Teresa Halbach’s Ex Boyfriend(keyword here is Ex) was involved in the search party and appear to have access all areas, on top of that he hacked into Teresa’s voicemail, using Teresa’s password and username even though Teresa had never given him the details. Yet he was never questioned or considered a suspect
Teresa’s room mate Scott only reported her missing 4 days after she disappeared. Both Scott and Ryan tapped into Teresa’s phone records but Scott also was never questioned or considered a suspect.
None of Teresa’s family were ever questioned.
Then we have the DA who already branded Steven Avery and his Nephew Brendan Dassey as guilty in the media, given all sorts of details of the murder which weren’t true, he had basically already convicted them via trial by media. A jury member later stated that he thought Steven was guilty because of Press conference given by Ken Kratz
The DA who later emerged had been sexting a domestic abuse victim he had helped,extorting her into a relationship, after that news broke several women filed complaints about him, even though this isn’t linked to the case it does show what kind of person he is and the things he does to get what he wants.
Then there is the evidence itself. Allegedly Teresa had been killed in Steven’s bedroom she was stabbed ans shot but there was no blood found anywhere.
Steven Avery claims that he is being framed and the fact that, a blood sample taken from him in 1985, was tampered with clearly strengthen that claim. Regardless if the DA states that the needle hole in the top of the bottle is standard. It was clear that both seals in the outside and inside box were cut.
And most bizarrely of all 2 police officers Lt Lenk and Sgt Colborn from Manitowoc County who were both sued by Steven Averey because of the 18 years false imprisonment for a crime he hadn’t committed, were now active in the investigation of the murder of Teresa Halbach, haven’t they heard of conflict of interest.
The jury had been instructed to ignore the rape and stabbing remarks made by the DA in the press conference but one jury member stated afterwards that he had taken those remarks in consideration, in fact he had already said before the trial started that Steven and Brendan were guilty.
All of these things really should have been enough grounds for a mistrial or at least an appeal but that was also denied.
This means that if Steven didn’t kill Teresa, the real killer is walking free and it has been more then 10 years now since she has been killed, where the focus only has been on Steven and his nephew.
Steven Avery denies he killed her.
Do watch the documentaries though and make up your own mind, regardless what side you’ll be on it is a compelling story.
On Friday 12 August 2016, a federal judge in Wisconsin overturned the murder and sexual assault convictions of Brendan Dassey, and ordered his release from prison unless prosecutors schedule a new trial within 90 days. Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery, were convicted for photographer Teresa Halbach’s 2005 murder and sentenced to life in prison, but their case became the subject of international attention thanks to the Netflix docuseries Making A Murderer. At the time of Halbach’s murder, Avery was just two years out of prison after serving 18 years for a rape he did not commit, and was on the brink of winning a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County and the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department. The documentary gave credence to the theory that Avery might have been framed for Halbach’s murder in order to thwart the lawsuit.
The federal court’s unexpected and rare decision to overturn Dassey’s conviction is a massive win for the now 26-year-old, because unlike the case against Avery, which is full of physical evidence – contested though it may be – the only thing prosecutors had that linked Dassey to Halbach’s murder was his involuntary confession. However, prosecutors never called Dassey to testify at Avery’s trial, nor did they use his confession as evidence against Avery in court, so its suppression won’t have any immediate impact on Avery’s case. However, it stands to wonder whether the timing of this decision in Dassey’s favor, especially after all his state appeals had been denied, is a sign that the Wisconsin county’s beef with the Avery family is losing ground.
The vegetarian Zombie
The Vegetarian Zombie
An amusing short undead tale. by Dirk de Klein
It’s just no fun being a vegetarian zombie, sure it’s alright for Mike being a zombie, he always loved meat anyway, rare steaks were his favourites. As for Frank he was a nutcase anyway, even before he became a living dead.
But me, I just didn’t like meat in any shape or form. How was I am going to survive this apocalypse?
There was nothing in the supermarkets for zombies like me, even normal vegetarians still had a choice of Quorn Chicken Fillets or Quorn Chicken Nuggets and even a soya burger or 2.
But every time I show up in the local supermarket, panic ensues. Screaming mothers picking up their toddlers out of the trolley, running for their lives. At one stage one mother fell just in front of me and when I wanted to help her up she screamed. “I am not that bad” I said “I am just not that dead”
Anyway I suppose life will go on, well actually it won’t, I just have to make the best of it.
It’s just that all the other zombies are bullying me. They go like “Aghg,grrrr,grrh,aahhh” and point to people and making those biting gestures, and I keep telling them “I am a vegetarian”
At one stage I thought I had the solution, in a market stall I saw a basket of Flesh Tomatoes, “Hey, hey” I thought, so I picked up the basket and when I wanted to pay for them, I noticed the guy behind the stall had ran away. I suppose there are some benefits in being a zombie.
I was so looking forward to these tomatoes, my luck though it turned out I was allergic to them. And when I say allergic I mean allergic. Having the runs as a human being is bad, but as a zombie it is multiplied by a factor of 1000.
No, life is no fun for a vegetarian zombie, note spare a thought for Julie though, she is a vegan zombie and to top it off she likes Justin Bieber, thank God I am not like her.
Picture by Javi Ramos.
The demise of Music
As a teenager I pledged that I would accept the musical taste of my children and would not be like the older generation in my family, who constantly criticized my choice of music. Although in my ‘humble’ opinion they were utterly clueless, and frankly most of them were.
Music is by far my biggest passion and it has an important part in my life.However now I have children of my own I feel like I have slightly been reneging on my pledge to accept their music, or have I?
After doing my own research, and note it is not scientific just my own opinion, I discovered that the music that is produced nowadays is really of poor standards. It really feels like vocals and instruments have been thrown into a big blender and turned into soulless songs, zombie versions of music so to speak.
My question though was “When did all of this happen?” And soon I thought I had found the answer, without a shadow of a doubt I knew it was due to the fact of the X factors’ the Pop Idols etc i.e. Simon Cowell and cohorts. Mystery solved I thought.
However these ‘Talent’ shows only started in the 21st century, and the music had be going down the swanny way before that.
The answer came via the radio. I was listening to an oldies radio station when the song “You spin me around” by Dead or Alive came up, and then it dawned on me, SAW, Stock Aitken and Waterman.
This trio first came to the scene in 1984, initially they actually started off with reasonably talented musicians and singers but as time went on things deteriorated. We had gone from sex and drugs and rock n roll to the inoffensive,non-controversial,political correct,sickening sweet brand of music by the terrible threesome. From that era of music it was only a simple step to talentless boybands.So basically 1984 is the year when music died, maybe Orson Welles was right after all.
Luckily every now and then some talents still emerge in this ocean of blandness ,Adele,John Legend. Ed Sheeran and Dragonforce to name a few.
Just a reminder of how music used to be
To this (anyone who knows me knows how painful it is for me to even listen to this for more then 1 nano second)
On July 17th 2014 Flight MH17 was cowardly brought down near Torez in the Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine, approximately 25 miles from the Russian border.
Thus far no one has claimed responsibility for this crime. One of the things I find really disturbing is the way some people are dismissing this as if it was an accident, it wasn’t it was a crime carried out by cowards.
Although there is no concrete evidence as such everything is pointing to Russia.
Bellingcat, a citizen journalism group, says it has identified up to 100 Russian soldiers from a Kursk-based air defence unit who may have knowledge of the movements of the missile launcher that destroyed the Boeing 777 on July 17, 2014.
About 20 of those individuals would “likely have had direct involvement” in the deployment to east Ukraine that led to the shoot down and 298 civilian deaths.
The fact that Russia has vetoed a full investigation in to this attack, doesn’t , in my opinion, put them in a great light.That said the Ukranian government also has a lot to answer for.
My aim is not to put the blame to anyone, my aim is for justice to be done for the victims. I’d written a poem for the victims and have pledged to regularly post this poem on several social media outlets to make sure the victims aren’t forgotten.
298 a number that we always will remember
298 lives that have been lost
298 of friends and family members.
298 souls eternally loved
298 ambitions and dreams cut short
298 innocent moments in time
298 families that need our support
298 victims of 1 brutal crime
298 new stars in the sky
298 reasons to pray
298 tears to cry
298 respects to pay
Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The 27th of January was declared by the UN as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
More and more I hear people say” Why should we remember? Why not leave bygones be bygones?” and this at the time where we are at risk of creating, and even scarier ignoring another holocaust.
It is a fact that history repeats itself ,but it is our duty as human beings to make sure this bit of history is not repeated. If it is ,we will have failed as a human race. The difference this time around we can not blame a political movement or a single nation, this time we are all to blame because we let it happen again.
We have all seen the graphic and horrific pictures which were taken by allied troops in camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau,Dachau,Sobibor and the so many other pictures. We have all seen pictures from the ghetto’s. There is no need for me to repeat these horrific images. In fact what I am going to do is worse, I will show pictures that will stay in your mind not because they are graphic but because they make you realize it could have been anyone, your grandparents,parents or even you or your child.
This pictures shows the scratch marks of fingernails from inside one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
A picture of shoes found in one of the camps, the sheer volume of them says it all
The fear in the eyes of the little boy ,at the front holding up is hands, is heartbreaking.
The worst words in history.
The answer to when we should stop remembering the Holocaust is never.
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