Saturday, January 30, 2010


Imho Kula Shaker stood somewhat apart from the whole Britpop phenomenon because of its weirdness, with singer/guitarist Crispian Mills singing top numbers such as Tattva in Sanskrit (!), and the band introducing traditional Indian instruments like a tamboura and sitar. What hits I know of them are highly kinetic, and for a while in the mid-nineties they were really cool. They split up in 99, only to reform again in 2004, but I haven't heard much pottenbrekerij [literally 'breaking pots', Flemish expression for leaving an impression - MFBB] from their reincarnation yet. Trivia fact: frontman Mills is the grandson of the famous actor Sir John Mills, best known for his role in the wartime drama In which we serve (1942, directed by Noel Coward) and the Captain Scott tribute Scott of the Antarctic (1948).

I could smash my head against a wall for ever lending The Sound's debut album, Jeopardy, to a fella whom I even suspected never to give it back to me. The Sound's probably the coolest eighties post punk band you have never heard of. Centered around singer and guitarist Adrian Borland, the original lineup for that essential album was further Graham Bailey on bass, Mike Dudley on drums and Bi Marshall on keyboards. Those were the eighties, in the middle of the Cold War, and it was cool to think in end of the world terms. Both the album's outlook (in austere black and white) and content (with songs like Missiles) reflect that. I suppose the consensus among band members to do other cool things like eschewing making big fat capitalistic profit was big enough to not follow the path of making commercial numbers. IIRC, their third album was even deliberately made to not sound commercial at all. Surprise surprise, The Sound petered away, signing up with insignificant label after even more insignificant label and ingloriously splitting up in 1988. Borland himself, who had been showing signs of depression since the mid-eighties, committed suicide by throwing himself under an express train in Wimbledon station in 1999. As for me... I am glad I knew them. Jeopardy was, and is, okay. Not top material, but... okay. Essential eighties album. RIP Adrian. I pray I will once get your debut LP back.

Nite ladies and gentlemen.


Friday, January 29, 2010


All week long I've been wanting to do a small post regarding an article regular reader Mark formerly from Colorado (and before that from California) linked to in the comments section. Well, it's half past midnight here, it's snowing, my latest Koontz book (The Darkest Evening Of The Year) is out, lovemaking Demand and Supply Economics was yesterday, and tomorrow night is Saturday Music Night so if there's got to be a time to do that post it's now.

Would it be asked too much - providing you have time, of course - to read the article first? It's from The Economist and it deals with the ever growing role of the state. I do not agree with everything, and I have my issues with The Economist (they backed Obama for God's sake, which makes me smarter than them) but all in all it's a good read.

When I still have your attention we could walk quickly back over it, and I got a few quick points to make. Your remarks are welcome. Here goes:

"...IN THE aftermath of the Senate election in Massachusetts, the focus of attention is inevitably on what it means for Barack Obama. The impact on the Democratic president of the loss of the late Ted Kennedy’s seat to the Republicans will, no doubt, be significant (see article). Yet the result could be remembered as a message more profound than the disparate mutterings of a grumpy electorate that has lost faith in its leader—as a growl of hostility to the rising power of the state. America’s most vibrant political force at the moment is the anti-tax tea-party movement. Even in leftish Massachusetts people are worried that Mr Obama’s spending splurge, notably his still-unpassed health-care bill, will send the deficit soaring."

I tend to agree. I must say that I was actually flabbergasted at the Tea Party phenomenon, the motivation of which seems to be a genuinely intellectual one, a deliberate rejection of too much state power. Why do I use the word intellectual? Because , judging by the boards and slogans carried, the mere emergence of the tea parties nationwide was an ideological mass statement, and something ideological is in se intellectual. When people take to the streets in Europe, they do so either for very emotional reasons (e.g. they hold pathetic silent marches to condemn this or that heinous crime committed against children) or they do it for jobs, wages and pensions, in other words for simple basic things. There's of course nothing wrong with that, but in essence it's something on the intellectual level of a toddler: me hungry, must have food. How one achieves what they want, whether it's safe jobs, raised wages, or secure pensions, Europeans don't bother about. And they wouldn't understand it either. Now, you can argue that ultimately the Tea Partiers also want those same things, and that's only normal. But there's a reasoning behind their demands: they send the message they want job security and decent health care but NOT with more state. They not only demand something, they ask it be not done in this or that particular way.

I must say I was very, very impressed by this outburst of concerned, intellectually committed citizenship. Here is a people that recognizes bullshit when it smells it. Not so in Europe, where, oh irony! far too many people [not a majority, thank God] call Americans dumb!

The immediate reason for the rise of the state is the financial crisis. Governments have spent trillions propping up banks and staving off depression. In some countries they now play a large role in the financial sector; and thanks to bail-outs, stimulus and recession, the proportion of GDP made up by state spending and public deficits has rocketed. But the rise of Leviathan is a much longer and broader story (see article). Long before AIG and Northern Rock ended up in state custody, government had been growing rapidly. That was especially true in Britain and America, the two countries in which “the end of big government” had been declared in the 1990s. George Bush pushed up spending more than any president since Lyndon Johnson. Britain’s initially frugal Labour government went on a splurge: the state’s share of GDP has risen from 37% in 2000 to 48% in 2008 to 52% now. In swathes of northern Britain the state now accounts for a bigger share of the economy than it did in communist countries in the old eastern bloc.

Apart from saying again that I tend to agree, I have little to add. The statement about Bush may or may not be true. If a reader can come up with material backing that claim up, that would be very appreciated.

"Demography is set to push state spending up further. Ageing populations will consume ever more public health care and ever bigger pensions. Unless somebody takes an axe to them, entitlements will consume a fifth of America’s GDP in 15 years, compared with 9% now."

Again, a correct assessment. Paradoxically, democracies are at greater risk of becoming unmanageable because there is a very real danger that simply because it has become the biggest voting bloc, pensioners will find themselves in a position, in the foreseeable future, where they might veto any measure the state deems necessary to survive financially. It's a Catch 22 situation. Put in simple terms, a state might be forced to contemplate cutting pensions to be able to keep working the state machinery, including its many and various responsibilities that are not directly related to the elderly (education e.g.). But the Grey Panthers might, twenty years from now, be in a position to block such a move. The end result will of course be that the state will head for financial ruin, after which it will not be able to ... pay pensions at all. It's a conundrum, and one that can possibly only be avoided by adapting different pension systems, e.g. the Pinera system born in Pinochet's Chile, and/or spurring people to take more care of themselves with fiscally attractive pension saving schemes.

"Rising government spending is not the only manifestation of growing state power. The spread of regulation is another. Conservatives tend to blame the growing thicket of rules on unwanted supranational bodies, such as the European Union, and on the ever growing industry of public-sector busybodies who supervise matters like diversity and health and safety. They have a point. But voters, including right-wing ones, often demand more state intrusion: witness the “wars” on terror and drugs, or the spread of CCTV cameras."
Okay for the CCTV cameras, which are an intrusion in our private lives straight out of 1984. Not okay for the War On Terror or the War On Drugs. A state should, and must, have the monopoly for the use of violence. When the state is attacked militarily, it must respond in force. Defeating the enemy is the prime objective. Winning World War II placed the US in a budgetary nightmare of unfathomable proportions. But in a losing situation, I assume that few would have consoled themselves by arguing that at least they had adhered to a sound principle like staying out of the red.

"A further danger consists in equating “smaller” with “better”. As the horrors in Haiti demonstrate, countries need a state of a certain size to work at all; and more government can be good."
Agree. A well-functioning state IS a necessity. If that implies a relatively impressive size, so be it. However sympathetic I might be, intellectually, vis-à-vis libertarianism, I often consider it as a concept that's as outworldish as communism. I do not believe in a skeleton state. Sanitary conditions in seventeenth century London only improved when the town authorities levied taxes, giving them the financial means to process human waste in a hygienic and healthy way. And as appalling as Saddam Hussein's state was, its dissolution in 2003 led to an unforeseen chaos. In my own country, the state has created financial backup organizations that have effectively helped key industries to grow. A state is not inefficient per se. There's got to be a state of a certain size. What size? I don't know. You might want to study Dick Armey's findings.

"In these circumstances, hard rules make little sense. But prejudices are still useful—and this newspaper’s prejudice is to look for ways to make the state smaller. That is partly for philosophical reasons: we prefer to give power to individuals, rather than to governments. But pragmatism also comes into it: there is so much pressure on the state to grow (bureaucrats building empires, politicians buying votes, public-sector workers voting for governments that promise bigger budgets for the public sector) that merely limiting the state to its current size means finding cuts."
What else can I say than that I agree?

"And cuts can be found. In the corporate world, slimming a workforce by a tenth is standard fare. There’s no reason why governments should not do that too, when it’s needed. Sweden and Canada managed it, and remained pleasant countries with effective public services. Public-sector pay can be cut, given how secure jobs are: in both America and Britain public-sector workers are on average now paid more than private-sector ones. Public-sector pensions are far too generous, in comparison with shrunken private-sector ones. Entitlements can be cut back, most obviously by raising pensionable ages. And the world might well be a greener, more prosperous place if the West’s various agricultural departments disappeared."

Nite, thank you for your attention. Tomorrow some lighter stuff.


Thursday, January 28, 2010


Basically every former colonial power has a segment of the population that's composed of natives from those colonies, or descendants thereof. Belgium has its Congolese, Britain its Pakistanis and Indians, France its Algerians. And the Dutch have, amongst others, Moluccans, from the island group the Moluccas in the east of the Indonesian archipelago. They are the descendants of about 4,000 Moluccan troopers of the KNIL, the Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (or Royal Dutch East Indies Army), and 7,500 of their family members. They came to the Netherlands after 1950 when the whole of Indonesia became one nation, fearing reprisals since they had been some kind of KNIL elite corps, not unlike the Gurkhas in the British Army. Anno 2010 the Moluccans are an accepted and totally integrated part of Dutch society (despite troubles in the seventies), a fact that in large part can be contributed to the Christian beliefs many hold (the Portuguese introduced Christianity on the Moluccas during their short rule before the Dutch arrival in 1599).

Muslims would not be muslims if on the Moluccan home-islands they would not have tried to impose their rule too. Between 1999 and 2002 the muslim terrorist organization Laskar Jihad unleashed a terrible war on the Moluccas against the Christian half of the population whereby thousands were killed and 500,000 were forced to flee their houses. Naturally, this conflict led to tensions between muslims and Moluccans in the Netherlands too. To cut a long story short, in Holland the two communities are not exactly on best terms.

Around New Years Eve, news leaked out that terrible riots between the two communities had been taking place for a prolonged time already in the town of Culemborg, in the centre of The Netherlands. Things got really nasty when Moroccans in a car deliberately tried to overrun Moluccan youths. From NRC Handelsblad, January 5 2010:

Race riots lead to emergency measures in Culemborg
Published: 5 January 2010 17:16 Changed: 6 January 2010 13:24

Two nights of riots between youths of Moroccan and Moluccan background have led to a police lock-down in the Terweijde neighbourhood. It’s typical of ‘young male syndrome’ says a riot-expert with 25 years experience. New Year’s Eve is a time for feasting and fighting.

Race rioting has led to emergency measures in the Dutch city of Culemborg. The Terweijde district is on police lock-down after two episodes of violence between youths of Moroccan origin and others of Moluccan (Indonesian) background. Yesterday, Terweijde was cordoned off by police and strict security measures installed. A hundred officers are preventing outsiders from entering, gatherings of over three people are banned, and CCTV cameras are monitoring all movements. The measures will stay in place for at least two weeks, officials have announced.

The riots began on New Years Eve when a car drove into a group of Moluccans in the front garden of a house in Terweijde. Several of them were hurt. Two of the five men in the car, all between 18 and 21 years old, were attacked by bystanders. In the rioting that followed, windows were smashed and several people wounded. One girl, the daughter of a Moluccan mother and Dutch father, ended up in hospital with concussion when a stone entered their home.

Police say about a hundred youngsters, fifty of them Moroccan and fifty Moluccan, were involved. Five young men were arrested, four Moroccans and one Moluccan, including the driver of the car, who was charged with attempted manslaughter. On Saturday, a 43-year old man was also arrested on suspicion of involvement. According to a police spokesman, two of the suspects were from other parts of The Netherlands.

The following video shows a Dutch-Moluccan neighborhood that got a visit by Moroccans:

Why is it that muslims cannot live in peace with literally anybody, not even with themselves?

Another topic at random. The mayor of the small town of Zaltbommel, in the East Netherlands, needs polic protection round the clock. The reason? He's been receiving threats from Moroccan youths.

From the Dutch satirical website GeenStijl:

And amidst all the mess a police van stands in front of Mayor Albert Van den Bosch (VVD). Since police earlier this week lifted two Moroccan shoplifters (17 and 18) from class, it's Alarm Phase 1 in Zaltbommel. The duo fled with their booty in the Philips School, whereupon the premises were evacuated on orders of the mayor. The reason? An overwhelmingly Moroccan gang, friends of the two, attacked the police. There was some scolding. A couple of persons were threatened off. Here and there a car window and/or mirror was smashed. Reason enough for Van Den Bosch to sweep the school's premises clean and issue a letter calling the Moroccans' behaviour "totally unacceptable". But the neighborhood knows since long that Moroccan youths are misbehaving systematically in Zaltbommel. Criminals, loverboys and other scum. Even GreenLeft in Zaltbommel is currently worrying. And thus police officers patrol 24/7 in front of the mayor's house. As a precaution. You never know.

Schiphol, near Amsterdam, is The Netherlands' prime International Airport. The fella you see on that still is, of course, the Xmasbomber, Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was able to board a KLM/Air France flight on Schiphol while possessing 80 grams of high explosive (pentaerythritol tetranitrate). Security scanners would have detected the package containing the PETN, but of the 17 installed at Schiphol, none was operational.

Well, what do you want. Dutch terrorism experts are too busy writing scientific reports telling those dumb Dutch citizens, of which you see a fine collection below:

... that the REAL DANGER is a weirdly coiffed ashblonde guy who for some reason needs to walk around with a squad of bodyguards, has to sleep at different locations, and can see his wife only once a week.

As fate would have it, the guy who overpowered Abdulmutallab was just such a dumb Dutch citizen: 32-year old filmmaker Jasper Schuringa, a white heterosexual male. He's probably a rightwing extremist.

Well, maybe all's not that bad. It looks like the Wilders trial may turn out to become something altogether different from what Hollands PC cabal intended it to be.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010


We are all coping on a daily basis with Al Qaeda terrorists, melting glaciers and anti-racism laws, but 87-year old Eugène Breynaert from Liedekerke, a small town in the province of East Flanders, Belgium, faces his own challenges: his Fiat Panda is 149cm wide; his garage's interior 155cm.

Better not buy a Humvee for his next. Besides, too much CO2 from that one.


Monday, January 25, 2010


First there was Pim Fortuyn, the charismatic and flamboyant sociologist, author and politician who warned as early as 1997 in his book Tegen de islamisering van onze cultuur [Against the islamization of our culture - MFBB] against the rise of islam, actively supported by the left, in western societies. On May 6, 2002, nine days prior to the Dutch parliamentary elections in which his party, the LPF (Lijst Pim Fortuyn) stood to win big, he was assassinated by a Green Left animal rights activist, Volkert Van Der Graaf, who shot several bullets in Fortuyn's head. Van der Graaf was arrested immediately therafter. He had the names and addresses of three other LPF candidates with him, and in his house bomb-making materials were found.

Then there was Theo Van Gogh, a controversial filmmaker, actor and columnist, the grandson of the brother of the famous post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. A flamboyant character like Fortuyn, his criticism spared no one, but unlike Holland's catholics, protestants and jews, its muslims took that criticism a tad too serious. In 2003, together with the Somali refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali, he made the film Submission, in which the plight of women under islamic rule is highlighted. For using fragments of the koran in it, he was assassinated in 2004 by Dutch-born Moroccan Mohammed Bouyeri, who emptied a gun in him (eight cartridges), slit his throat (almost decapitating him), stabbed his corpse with a knife on which a letter threatening Hirsi Ali was pinned, and pushed another, very long knife through him which almost reached the spine.

A third Dutchman who refused to swallow the multiculti lunacy emerged shortly therafter, the liberal politician Geert Wilders (keep in mind that in Europe the word liberal is still being used to describe a center-right political inclination that favors free markets, but holds progressive views on ethical questions). In the late nineties, as an MP for the liberal VVD, he began to profile himself as a critic of The Netherlands' lavish welfare support for people allegedly unfit for work and, simultaneously, as a sceptic of the multiculti walhalla as propagated by the left and centrists. It should be noted that Wilders as early as 1998 warned in the Tweede Kamer [the House - MFBB] against islamic fundamentalism, and called muslim fundamentalism, in a remarkable session in December 1999, "one of the biggest threats of the coming decade".

As post 9/11 the increasing islamization of The Netherlands became all the more visible, and especially Moroccan youths were, and are, instrumental in the skyrocketing criminality phenomenon in Dutch society, Wilders quickly gained notoriety with his crass viewpoints. In September 2004, after yet another conflict with the weak VVD leadership, he decided to start with his own party in Dutch politics, Groep Wilders. Shortly thereafter a first islamic video threatening his assassination 'because of mocking islam' was issued, and from October 2004 on, PRIOR to Van Gogh's murder, he is being protected by a six-man strong bodyguard and sleeps at a different location every night. Despite the serious limitations on his mobility, Wilders has managed to build his initial one-man fraction into a well-oiled political party, the PVV [Partij Voor Vrijheid, Party for Freedom - MFBB]. In between, he made a short (15 minutes) film named Fitna, which, using koranic verses, explores the inherent inhumanity and backwardness in the muslims' holy book. January 2009 brought the ruling of a kangaroo court which ordered prosecutors to try Wilders "for insulting muslim worshippers because of comparisons between islam and nazism". In November 2009, Dutch Interior Minister Guusje Ter Horst demanded, and got, a "scientific" report "providing scientific basis that Wilders was undermining social cohesion". And on December 4, 2009, Wilders was ordered to appear before the court on January 20, 2010, on charges of "fomenting to hate and discrimination against muslims because of their religion and fomenting to hate and discrimination against non-western foreigners and/or Moroccans because of their race".

And thus happened. That trial... is now going on, as we speak.

In the country that once prided itself for its freedom of speech, a rightwing politican is now ON TRIAL for nothing else than making anti-islamic statements.

(to be continued)