Inequality

I’m reading a book on the Euro by Joseph Stiglitz, I’ll get back to that when I’m done. One of the big premises concerns the question on the influence of inequality on the functioning of the economy. His point: the smaller the difference between the top and the bottom, the better things work. If I read it well, that’s mainly because of two reasons. The first reason is that the people will feel more motivated to work if they don’t just make the rich richer, and the second is that the productivity of countries will be higher if unemployment is low.

As an ecologist, I’d immediately stretch this point beyond humans, down to all microbes and other little fellahs that are usually forgotten. Prosperity will only work if there’s attention for all of them as well. Because people will also be more motivated to work if they feel that they’re doing something good.

Sidenote: I’m of the opinion, not entirely unlike Stiglitz, that when it comes to knowing anything about the economy, and particularly the global economy, there is very little substance. Essentially, there is not even a global economy yet, even though economy in itself is not new. What we have of scientific evidence on the economy of today is largely based on case studies on a few hundred countries for the past hundred years, all of which have measured things in their own way. Besides, things have recently sped up, and these studies have largely ignored culture, politics and massminds as well as most basic ecological insights and practice. They looked at numbers that are still under construction.

Now, I must say reading this book is inspiring me to take the issue of economy up again, as had the great recession, so this is not the last word I’ll speak about it. But a main critique I have on Stiglitz’ premise: deal mainly with unemployment, is the question: at what cost?

Throughout history we have seen that Western employment has gone hand in hand with destruction of nature. It’s the case with agriculture, with oil production and with all services if you consider the impact of consumption after receiving salaries. As all economists do, Stiglitz emphasises the need for growth. An ecologist would immediately point to limits of growth in any system. When a forest is old, for example, its mass doesn’t grow. What does happen, is that more and more interconnections arise. Something that has been happening to the global economy in recent years. But even that has a limit. I have been saying this before the crash in 2008 and am saying it again now. There will be a day the global economy stops growing. If we’re lucky the population will be voluntarily shrinking at that time, and prosperity keeps growing, but if we’re unlucky, it won’t.

I think that Stiglitz is incredibly right when he says the top shouldn’t own it all. And I believe it’s possible to get wealth to the people in ways that support the ecology rather than undermining it. We, and with that I mean economists, should not forget to keep the ecology in focus. Shifting the attention to unemployment – which I think economic policy makers will do out of pure necessity – backfires on the long run, just like all other economic paradigms have (I’ll also get back to those, thanks to Stiglitz). What I basically want to say is: inequality is not purely a human thing. Because, speaking of the 1%, let’s not forget that we’re an even tinier percentage of the beings alive.

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Top 5 films of 2016

Since I like films and went to the cinema over 40 times in the past year, I thought it’d be nice to make the list of my top 5 best movies that came out this year (or at the end of 2015, depending on the country), plus some honourable mentions. I’ll support my choices with nicely subjective arguments. For the record, I judge films by the atmosphere they set, the intensity in which I think about them after seeing them, and also the way in which they contribute something unique to cinematography.

#5 The Big Short
I went to see this film after seeing the poster – I like all actors and it seemed arthouse like – so I had no idea what I was up for. It turned out to be a very entertaining mixture of some exciting stories and an explanation on how the Great Recession of 2008 started. Contrarily to earlier, boring documentaries about the crash, this film had a clever set up. Most of the time characters explain the issues to each other in a way that naturally blends in the story, alternated with random but funny scenes where famous people explain the basics of complicated matter in a comprehensible way. The movie is based on true events, has a nice dynamic, has tension, explains one of the most important issues of our time (providing a warning for the future as well) and, ladies, has Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Brad Pitt in it. A final upside: Steve Carells role wasn’t his usual ridiculous one. It’s in fact very good.

#4 The Forbidden Room
Now this was an adventure. A friend took me to see The Forbidden Room. I thought it has created its own genre, much in the same way as Pink Floyd has. It’s a tribute to the silent film of the 1920’s, diving into the abyss of someone’s mind. Mine, perhaps. It is a fluid film, discussing the human psyche in unprecedented ways. Red, green, blue, yellow. Black. Mesmerizing and intriguing and also great to take a nap with. I mean that in a positive way. It’ll come back in your dreams.

#3 El Abrazo de la Serpiente
This film tells the tragic story of a fallen shaman in the Amazon. I don’t want to reveal too much, but it’s a confronting tale on human greed and our hunger for power. The gentle floating of the canoe as well as the black-and-whiteness of the film and the beautiful tribal music create a serene atmosphere that left my friend and I in a perfect state for a deep conversation about ourselves afterwards.

#2 Nocturnal Animals
A very elegant film, subtly working through the process of mourning from the perspective of a writer (Jake Gyllenhaal, aka Donnie Darko). Three storylines intertwine: a story of the past, the story of a gallery holder (Amy Adams) and that of the book she is reading. This film, too, has tension, but not at all in the way you’d expect. The blazing blue eyes of most of the characters are a threatening detail. This film eloquently assembles love with hate and by it, leaves an imprint somewhere in your soul. I didn’t know revenge could be so sensual. Wow.

#1 The Hateful 8 (70 mm)
Despite the disappointment people around me have expressed about this film, it’s still my undisputed number 1 of 2016. I have watched this film 4 times (3 times of which on 70 mm) and have not been bored a single second. You could say that I almost studied this one. The way Tarantino combines great dialogue with great images and great music never ceases to amaze me. The enormous amount of references within the movie is easy to overlook, but much fun to discover.

Critics say the story of this film is boring and too resemblant of Reservoir Dogs. They’re right about the ‘visual story’, but seem to ignore that most of it happens in the dialogue. The film constantly, and I mean constantly, hints at the fundamental questions of our existence such as ‘what is real?,  ‘who is the good guy, and who is the bad?’ and ‘where can I buy Red Apple cigarettes?’. Meanwhile, it wittily delivers societal critique and experiments with image in space.

On this last thing: Tarantino continuously plays with the fore- and the background. The relatively little room of Minny’s Haberdashery seems quite large through a 70mm lens. There is always something going on on both planes, always a detail to spot, which gives the film a great amount of visual depth. It makes me wonder if Tarantino will pick up 360˚-movie making soon. But by letting his characters tell numerous stories, Tarantino brings this fore- and background game into the narrative as well. Every character brings his history into the Haberdashery. An own personal background. Together, these result in the explosive tension inside. I see this fore- and background play as a tribute to the nature of life and the universe itself. We are here now, but there is a huge background in outer space, in social media, in all the rest of the world, which also has an influence on us. I therefore gladly ignore the critics and call this the best film of the year.

Honourable mentions
There have been many other great movies in 2016, so I’d like to name a few more that are worth watching. The Assassin is a romantic, zen-like story, using beautiful colours to speak about mercenary politics in 18th century China. The Red Turtle, an animated film, is an entirely wordless journey of a guy who ends up alone on a small island in the ocean. Mystical film. Then there was Hell or High Water, an eclectic modern western with Jeff Bridges. Well acted and always with a little twist. Arrivals, finally, also with Amy Adams gives a peek into what could happen if nonviolent aliens visit our planet. There’s an intriguing bit about language in there too.

But let’s not forget that good movies can’t exist without a whole lot of failed ones. I’d therefore like to end this post with a special thanks to Independence Day: Resurgence. That was an absolute piece of crap which made all the other ones look a whole lot better. Worth watching when your body temperature is 39˚C or higher. No idea what the producer did there, but I fully understand why Will Smith didn’t join it.

Disagree with this list? You’re invited to give your own 2016 film top 5 below.

Christmas, why not.

While people in the Netherlands celebrate the 2nd day of Christmas with the other part of their families and listen to the Top 2000 on the radio (ending on the 31st), the party here in Slovakia is mostly over. People go to bars, eat the last cookies they baked and slowly prepare for the working life again. It’s white outside. My girlfriend’s grandma sat down next to me at the diner table to eat a slice of bread with liverwurst, which appears to me like a Dutch thing to do. Apparently they (we?) are not alone in that.

I was perhaps a bit cynical about this party yesterday. Not that I don’t mean what I said, I think that people who disagree with our customs have a point, but Christmas is about more than just consumption. Though I’ve always had a double feeling about the presents and the overfeeding, there is something cozy to it all.

Some go to church. They believe Jesus was born on the 25th. Possible. Is the big Christ the most important point of it? Perhaps. But the power of collective singing in a place with such great acoustics is certainly not to be underestimated either.

Some say it is the party of light. That they had to fuse that with Jesus to be able to sell it to the crowd. A transformation of the pagan midwinter celebration into something more institutionalizable. Ad a story to the custom of the tree with the lights and all layers of society are under your control. That this is what we celebrate every year.

Some say it’s a party of peace and charity. The dark days inspire them to think about people who are having a hard time outside in the cold. They toss them a coin, or even bring them into their house for a night. Cozy and warm. A Christmas Carol dates back to 1843.

But I think all agree it is a time for the family to be together, often in a space that is a little too small for all of them. A time to reconnect, fight over something insignificant, blame it on the past, preferably some deceased parent or grandparent and then hug it out. We’re humans after all, what could they have done better?

In where I’m from, wherever that is, I often hear people say that they’re glad it’s over. The responsibility was a burden upon them. But all of them secretly enjoyed it. Long for it again in the even darker days of January and February. All are a little melancholic when they sweep up the needles. Even if few admit it.

Merry Christmas

 

 

Why I’m undivided on letting refugees into Europe

I’m hearing a lot if yes, but’s in the discussion on refugees. For example: yes, we should let them in, but they should respect our customs. Or, yes, we should grant them access, but we have to carefully regulate their integration. While I’m not principally against regulation or efforts for integration per se, I think we should remove all conditions from the question whether or not we should let them in. Certain decisions are not fit for reasoning, they should just be made.

For that reason, I have long kept myself out of the discussion on refugees. Of course we should let them escape from war. And so should Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and all other neighbouring countries. To weigh the pros and cons of the decision on the fundamental safety of others, or even to add nuances to the discussion is an uncivilized and egoistic act. It’s putting the lives of entire sections of populations at stake. Because the confusion emerging from these discussions creates space for barbarism.

It is only once we have all, unanimously and without hesitation, decided that we let these people in (all of them), that we can have an honourable discussion on how we will arrange this. And it is beyond contempt that neither European countries nor the other surrounding regions have managed to take the humane stance here.

The fact, for example, that some sources insist on calling these people migrants instead of refugees is misleading to say the least. Migrants, or immigrants, are people who move with non-urgent motivations. Sure, there might be some among them, but most are people who’s lives are directly or indirectly threatened. They have left good, usually stable lives behind. Many of them are women and children. One doesn’t cross half a continent on foot if there’s no urgency.

Even more disgusting are the talks about ‘letting in terrorists’ among them. Sure, this could be an open discussion, but only under the condition that we let all refugees in. Okay, some people died last week. Bad. But how many drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, simply because we kept our doors closed? Terrorists have quite some work to do if they want to even that number out. It’s not a fair comparison, I know, but my point is: 1st we should let them all in, and again, I mean all of them, then we can discuss the terrorist issue with a clean conscience. And perhaps our open attitude would make terrorists more reluctant?

Then there’s the practical blah, blah. Would there be undivided acknowledgement of the need of these people to build a new home among us, then all these issues would fluently resolve themselves. We would all hand in a fraction of our luxury and these people could accommodate themselves very well, even create new prosperity. But the political will is lacking in all layers of society. Apparently we prefer conflict. Because even if we look at this in a purely practical way, there is no other choice then to let them in, and the more we resist, the harder that will backfire. But I cannot stress enough that such arguments should not be necessary. We have a moral duty here.

You surely felt the link with Christmas coming. If we are all so afraid of losing our culture, then let’s embrace it, instead of drifting from it. What Europe has been good at in recent decades, was openness to strange cultures. Christmas, even for the non-religious, has been an ultimate cultural expression of peace for all cultures. Remember? Not just during this period, but always. At the base of all of this, we are flesh and blood. If we really want to preserve our culture, then let’s carry it with dignity instead of throwing it overboard when challenges arise. Or perhaps I’m wrong, and Christmas was always just about consumerism. In that case we may be able to learn something from our new neighbours.

Christopher

When the men hammered the head of the fish, the boy screamed, crying. In the short time it had lived in his bathtub, he had grown fond of the big swimming creature. He’d named it Christopher. It’s understandable that the boy loathed the act of his uncles. But our Christmas meal was at stake and the young emotional bond had been destined to be ignored.

It’s a Buddhist belief that if you give someone or something a name, you make a claim to that which you name. It means that young parents who, out of duty, name their newborn Pete, immediately make it their possession. But it also means that if you give your partner a nickname, this person or the aspect you named, becomes your property.

Adversely, when you give someone your name, you give that person ownership over you. And every time this person calls it, he or she summons your attention. Have you felt that? It’s an excellent sales technique and a good way to get yourself liked to call another by his name. The other way around: creating a name for yourself or your organisation, makes you graspable to the audience and by that less threatening.

It would be an act of liberty, in this perspective, to invent a new name for yourself and keep it secret. That would give you a claim to yourself that no one else has. A different approach would be to behave in a way that is not expected from your personal or family name. But the freest is he or she who detaches from all names that are given to him or her. The one who doesn’t have a name.

I would take this idea a step further and say that any judgement people make of each other is an attempt to seize something. Calling another by his or her profession, for example, or by a political preference, or cultural background has this same effect of occupation, even if you don’t attach a value to it. Even thinking it has that effect. We allow each other a certain degree of possession over ourselves by sharing who we are, but set limits as well. And by conceptualizing, we are determining our place in a hierarchy.

You could say that the idea of ‘not being understood by anyone’, something we all have to a certain degree, is a result of being judged in an inacurate way. It could be solved by giving your loved ones the names you secretly hold for youself. Yet while we give these names away and create a space for trust through which we can bond, we also hand over part of our autonomy.

As we could see in the case of the death of Christopher the fish and the reaction of his young friend, these things can have enormous emotional implications. ‘You never call me honey anymore’ means that you’re no longer taking your claim of this aspect of her that you once shared. Changing your official name is a deliberate act of breaking out from the property of your parents. The name switch of women after marriage is comparable.

A friend once called me ‘joyful sailor of dreams’. This blog is a tribute to something she observed in me. Reappropriated, as you can see, but I’m still thankful. By that simple act, she called something into life. This is what the boy did with Christopher. It’s no more than a memory now, but who knows what that will grow into?

It’s probably because I agree with this Buddhist theory that I have become a writer.

Amoebing

In the series of using new words for old emotions, which I was surprised to find out got following, I’d like to discuss one which I forgot to talk about: amoebing. That must be because the word only occurred to me the day before yesterday.

Though it can release fear as well as more joyful emotions and slow tears, amoebing to me is a state in which I concentrate. In fact, I experience it as if the state itself draws my concentration.

It goes like this. When I’m amoebing, there’s a defined cloud of, let’s call it energy with form, in the shape of an amoeba that slowly leaves my upper body while I breathe out. The narrower part of the amoeba resides just above my shoulders and the extremities attain the shape of half-body-sized bulbs. Don’t look at the picture for this. Half of the amoeba is above me and out, and the other half is situated in the top part of my lower body. It feels as if it opens up a space that helps release a concentrated form of energy from below by belly button, which as it starts moving, expresses itself as a stronger often emotional sensation. But let’s not get distracted by that.

The top bulb of the amoeba, residing above my shoulders, is not always closed, though it is sometimes. It can be open to, let’s call that the universe. The entire thing feels like a funnel into the area below my belly button. The presence of the universe doesn’t necessarily make the amoeba bigger; it rather makes the the space smaller. It remains and limited by the edges of the amoeba, which are less tangible this time. In any case it’s empty and silent up there. And when I breathe in, the entire thing gets sucked back into my body, bringing me back down to wherever it is I am. And when I breathe out the amoeba reaches out again.

The moment I first noticed this, years ago, I felt as if I was being possessed by some external force. I was afraid. Nowadays, I don’t believe in the same ‘I’ with that much force anymore, so I also don’t fear its possession as much. The state is is a lot more laid-back. More like looking at myself through an internal telescope in the shape of an amoeba. Amoebing has become a leisure activity instead of an adventurous duty.

I think I first noticed it when I was on weed and I also remember the experience on ayahuasca. When I thought of the word amoebing the other day, I was in some yoga position, but the sensation can also occur on the bus or during some other random activity. I don’t consider it anything special anymore, but it is still worthy to mention and invent a word for. I guess amoebing helps me relativize things.

Which brings me to a funny paradox. While spiritual states are generally considered high or advanced, the word amoebing suits my impression of it because it has a nicely retarded meaning. Ultimately, this sensation makes me feel like witless unicellular being that knows absolutely nothing. And that also is the core of it. As if, like amoebas once did, it would take millions and millions of years to learn how to fuse one with another. As if we could create a being that’s built out of many minds. But that at the same time, that would just be the start of a new kind of ignorance and therefore not be any better than the things we’ve been until now. I might be wrong, and highly underestimate the gurus, but I’d like to add amoebing to the list.

Amoebing. I’m sure you’re worth it.

Healthy variation

My mother told me the other day that when she eats meat, she gets a bad feeling in her belly. So she hasn’t for over 25 years. I agreed, but with an essential footnote: the quantity determines everything. A single slice of sausage doesn’t cause this effect. I still respect my mom for her choice, but that’s a different story.

Take any food. Wait. I don’t mean stand up, walk to the fridge and grab a piece of ham or a can of olives. You know that, right? I mean it as a thought experiment. You can just keep reading. Walk to your inner fridge, open it and look inside. What do you see?

Whatever it is, think of how you’d feel after eating a kilo of just that. Okay. Half a kilo. Was it cheese? You’d be vomiting by now. Were they carrots? You wouldn’t feel too great. Was it nuts? Why do you keep nuts in your inner fridge when you can put them on your inner table? Regardless, you’d feel terrible after eating half a kilo of nuts. Same with honey. Oranges. And indeed, also with ham. Drinks. Even if all of these are great in moderation.If you like them, that is.

Now. Would the thing you find in your mindfridge be a nice remnant of a dish you cooked yesterday, or another type of food that contains a mixture of different ingredients, then you’d be able to eat far more of it and feel satisfied.

Personally, I can eat a lot more sugary stuff than fatty stuff or proteins before it becomes too much, especially if I add potatoes and rice gluten-rich products and all that, but the oversaturation effect occurs across al foods, and it can be compensated by eating some of the other types. The lesson: no single food is good or bad but change is great. And coincidentally, that is also healthiest. Which is why it’s wise to regularly fill your metaphysical fridge with a variety of foods.

As you may have noticed by now: I wasn’t talking about food at all. Food is not real. But how you treat one illusion is, I believe, very comparable to how you treat the other. So listen up if you tend to eat the same kinds of food all the time and discriminate others for no good reason. What I’m talking about now and most of the time, are thoughts and perspectives.

Back to the fridge. Take another look. Do you see a dream? A goal to achieve? A worry? A problem or situation that is to be avoided? Or do you encounter a mixture of thoughts that makes you feel more dynamic and, if the hypothesis is right, happy? Mentally satisfied.

This question is all the more relevant if we consider how it applies for the collective mind. If we obsess with refugees and the Islam or terrorism, we poison ourselves. But we also shouldn’t completely exclude the related problems from or lives. If we collectively focus just on economic growth and not on social cohesion, we create an uncanny feeling. The other way around as well. Sure, we need to feed and protect society, but we also need to remain accepting of other views. Digest those. In that sense, the arrival of a bit of fresh blood unto the continent could be a refreshing gift. New people, new languages, new inspiration.

So what does that mean in daily lives? If a neighbour is to noisy, sure, get mad. But then cut the guy some slack. Think about your cat. Or dog, if you’re more into dogs. But don’t do just that, because you’ll annoy your friends and colleagues by talking about them all the time. Pay some attention to their words as well. Dive into culture. And food. Moderately. Cultivating dynamics in your thoughts is not that hard, and it’s far healthier than fixation.

Alt

There’s a curious co-occurrence of growing groups using the letter combination ALT on the internet. The first one, the band ALT-J is named after the alt-key, because the combo of those buttons results in a Δ, which is the symbol for change in science. They are a pretty cool and innovative band, and I have no doubt they are about to suffer from the popularity of second group.

That group is called Alt-right. The modern name of the US demons, where ‘Alt’ represents the word ‘alternative’. This group mainly consists of internet trolls who spend their days anonymously placing racist or discriminatory comments on websites, vaguely relating to each other in their anger. Recently, an amorphous group of representatives emerged, with an own logo and everything. And their mascot, Pepe the Frog. Which is a little paradoxical because Pepe is a Latino name, but hey.

So what’s the attraction with this word ‘Alt’? Have keyboards been slowly hypnotizing into this word in an ultimate subconscious marketing campaign? If so, could we predict a similar attraction to other 3-letter keyboard combinations ‘esc’, ‘del’ and ‘tab’? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see any popularity for those name combinations, except that the word tab also has a meaning of its own.

I think that power of the letter A adds to the popularity of the combination. First letter in the alphabet. Best mark. Stands like a rock. The letter has something cool to it. Starting your group’s name with an A is first step in the direction of success. Remember the idea of the self-propagating soundbite, carrying entire thought clusters and paradigms along? I think the A is a powerful addition to the alt. But as clear as it may be to me for A, I’m far less certain on the LT. Okay. There’s a square in its look, which compares interestingly with the triangle of the A, but the guttural ‘LT’ sound is arguably silly.

The word alt holds a reference to the digital world. Both alt-groups owe their existence to their dispersal over the world-wide-web. A real and important part of campaigning strategies today. The band partially uses electronic devices for their music, while the far right movement uses the web for its internal communication. Emerges from it. The word alt brings coherence into the group and its projected image. Even if the two are so different, they both benefit from this effect.

But let’s not forget the meaning of the word alternative. A different option. When I was young, there were the ‘Alto’s’, in the Netherlands, the guys with the long hair, and the post-hippy-pre-emo-girls. They demonstrated new possibilities through their style, for as far as that’s possible for school kids. To be alternative was a way to be cool. It’s obvious for ALT-J, but I’m afraid it also makes the Alt-right movement more appealing. Wearing the mask of the new, this group differentiates from the old. Alt-right has the extra incentive to break with the image of Nazi’s and the Ku Klux Klan.

The word ‘alternative’ is not new, neither is the abbreviation. But its increasing presence in our, say, collective minds, through both groups as well as the keyboard is noteworthy. Consciously or subconsciously, we are turning to alternatives for the way things currently are.

Slavoj Žižek

Writing something every day and spending time with friends and family next to it forces me to discuss topics more rapidly and superficially. Nonetheless I’d like to talk about Slavoj Žižek. I’m saying nonetheless, because it would take a few hours to do so in a proper way. Take this article as an invitation to investigating his work for yourself.

Žižek is a Slovenian psychoanalyst who scrutinizes the structures of Western democracy, and the response of the people, particularly in Europe and the US. He continuously publishes books and videos on contemporary topics, now calling for a revolution among the left elite. What I particularly like about him is that he regularly focuses on ideology, what I’ve sometimes call ‘dreams’ or ‘life’s loony lore’, revealing also its impact on the psyche of the mob. He regularly breaks with common leftist points of view such as ‘the election of Trump was a bad thing’, ‘the capitalist system is doing fine’ and ‘multiculturalism will work one day’. He does that in a comical, eloquent way, despite some tics, yet has made numerous enemies with his expressions and has been banned from several platforms.

I first learned of Žižek’s existence while hearing his voice during the RSA animate video on capitalism. He has appeared on protests I sympathize with, including the Occupy movement. Last year, my girlfriend took me to his speech in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. It was enjoyable. He passionately raised new perspectives while shooting right into the painfull spots. His thoughts are dense and interesting. Luckily, he thins them down with a regular ‘and so on, and so on’ or an ‘I claim’. Or a joke. He’d be hard to follow otherwise.

His psychoanalytic angle inspires me, because he describes people, entire cultures and movements almost as a single mind. A persociety, perhaps. He uses tangible examples to make quite general points on how he sees our predicament, offering very few solutions. He expresses a detachment from it all which is informative. An option, perhaps, for all of us. And there’s a flow, an entertaining flow wherein his audience fall from one association into the other, yet somehow remain connected to a thread. An admirable rollercoaster perspective on all those crazy things happening within and around us.

News again

The New York Times shows a surreal, artsy front page picture of a Turkish policeman who just shot a the Russian ambassador at an art exhibition and has his arm in the air, yelling about Syria. The Spiegel speaks about a truck that drove into the Christmas market in Berlin. Swissinfo.ch highlights a shooting at a group of praying Islamic people. Trumps election passed through the electorate, and Wilders, who recently got a criminal record for discriminating and sowing hatred, was elected Dutch politician of the year. Again.

I just arrived at my dads place in Brussels, and am trying to count how many groups have got offended in the past three hours. It’s quite a puzzle. Who planned what? Who feels represented by whom? Who feels their neighbour should have taken distance from which items? Honestly, I can’t answer all of these questions.

Earlier today, I had a talk with my mom about the news. The problem, she says, is that most news is quite negative, which makes people feel desperate. She thinks that the world would be a better place if the news was more positive. My sister agrees. I’m slightly more sceptical, because I do think that we should remain aware of the downers that are going on and make sure we do not rest until they are kind of solved. That’s meant in a manner of speaking, of course, because we cannot act if we cannot rest. But I agree that a little more positive news wouldn’t hurt. There’s no large platform, unfortunately, that has its image of the society pros and cons balanced. Perhaps it has something to do with pressing need. Or with the fact that the new is mostly not so much fun.

But my trip went smoothly today. No delays this time. No masked men shooting me or any of my co-travellers down. No rapes, no thievery. The heating worked pretty well. I even managed to get some video editing done. Didn’t pay too much attention to the others. They seemed to be fine with that. My dad and his wife enjoyed their presents, gave me good food and went to bed early because they both have jobs and have to go do their duty tomorrow morning. Not unlike many others in this region of the world. So let’s agree that at least for a big part of the rich people, it was a pretty okay day again. But the coffee at the station of Arlon sucked balls. Hey. You can’t always get what you want.

Playing mind games with Soul