The Green Wall

Finally, after war, genocide, corruption, institutionalized racism tribalism and vuvuzelas, some good news from Africa!

I’m not talking about the return of the Sandmonkey because that was last month so it doesn’t count as news anymore, I’m talking about Africa using its resources for something constructive. The Green Wall of Africa, an 8000 km wall of drought-resistant trees to stop the advance of the Sahara desert. Of course it remains to be seen whether the wall will actually be build and it’s always possible the project will end up being paid for by Europe, but I’d like to be positive on this one. The wall will (in theory, it’s probably to thin in reality) be visible from space and may have a major impact on the Earth’s climate.

Here’s to hoping for more trees and less AK’s in Africa.

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Death to the vuvuzela!

Ban them, burn them, feed their “players” to the lions, stop South Africa from producing these weapons of mass annoyance!

For those lucky few who don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a taste of the horror: Vuvuzela Desensitization or let the Hitler-meme explain it to you.

These plastic contraptions, supposedly part of “South African culture”, but really only produced in a plastics factory since 2001 produce a deafening (literally) droning noise, drowning out all other known forms of sound, including, but not limited to cheering, singing and actual musical instruments such as drums. Or as one youtube member phrased it:

Step 1: United States pays for 5000 South Africans to fly to Pakistan
Step 2: Deploy these people in Pakistan’s mountain cave regions..
Step 3: Distribute vuvuzelas, encourage them to play them 24/7
Step 4: Bin Laden surrenders, War on Terror ends.

90 minutes of a million bees droning inside my skull, I can’t take it anymore! South Africa, be a good host and accommodate your guests 99.9% of which hate the vuvuzela. Please, we want the real football traditions to return: the Brazilian samba drums, the Dutch brass band, the drunken English cheering, the Haka dance of New Zealand (I know that’s rugby but it would be cool if they did it at the world cup), anything that actually changes pitch, volume or rhythm when a goal is made…

Please, for fuck’s sake South Africa and Sepp Blatter, ban those shitty plastic toys, like the South African and show us some real African football culture.

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End of an era

LostsupperI guess I’m probably the billionth blogger to write about this but hey, this show deserves it.

Lost has come to an end after six years, the finale left many questions still unanswered but I still found it satisfying and fitting to the show. Incidentally I happened to be in the United States on 22 September 2004 and incidentally I watched the pilot of some new show called “Lost”. I had no idea what to think of it back then and never got around to watching more than half of season 1 when shortly after I returned to Europe where it would be a while before the show was on. It wasn’t until years later that I gave the show a second try and got hooked. Certain “aspects” of the internet enabled me to watch the show at my own (fast) pace and I eventually caught up with season 3. Storylines became increasingly complex and strange, but then again, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

When I heard season 6 would wrap up the show according to the writers’ design I was glad this wasn’t going to be another John Doe, FlashForward or Firefly. The finale itself was pretty decent though it wouldn’t have hurt to give us some more answers about the nature of the island and the two supermen (Jacob and the Man In Black/Fake Locke) who controlled it. I especially liked the writers’ self parody in several scenes like Rose and Bernard telling Desmond they want to stay out of all the drama that got him thrown in a well or Hurley telling Sayid about the “rules”, when Sayid asks “whose rules” Hurley answers with one of the shows’ mantras “Don’t worry about it, just trust me okay”, which was used to dead over the course of six seasons. Then there was the ending at the church where Jack learns the alternate timeline wasn’t a timeline at all (great mindfuck on the part of the writers). It was a sort of purgatory created by the minds of our Losties after they died. It was a timeless place where people who died at different times (sometimes years or even centuries apart in the case of Hurley who became the new Jacob after all) could find each other again, forgive each other (even your killer) and make amends with the things they had done during their lives before moving on to the other side where the difference between good and evil is meaningless.  It was a beautiful idea that fits right into Lost’s mythology of redemption and the thin line between good and evil, or the non-existence of such a line.

It’s not often that a show takes its characters this seriously and gives them a fitting and emotional goodbye, but Lost pulled it off, just like Battlestar Galactica did last year, both shows will alway remain among my favorites and “losing” their characters felt like losing a good friend.

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Red Cross pushing ethical limits in Afghanistan

It’s just in: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/05/27/afghanistan.red.cross.taliban/index.html

Apperently the International Red Cross (well, more likely its Red Crescent division) has been supplying aid to the Taliban for years. They say it is their duty under their policy of neutrality to aid everyone who needs help, including the Taliban. For this reason they have supplied first aid kits and medical training to Taliban members.

Now, I understand the Red Cross’s philosophy of neutrality but something doesn’t seem right about this and it’s not just the fact that I’m not exactly rooting for the Taliban (the sooner the scum gets eradicated the better), no, I’m seeing some real ethical dilemma’s here, regardless of whether or not you sympathize with the Taliban.

  • Firstly I’m thinking about resources and prioritizing: it’s a fact that there’s not enough medical equipment and aid to go around for everyone in Afghanistan, so why on Earth would the Red Cross spend any resources on the Taliban while there are plenty of civilians who need the aid just as bad? Am I wrong in assuming that civilians should always be the first priority for the Red Cross?
  • Secondly, isn’t aiding the Taliban pretty much the same as pulling the trigger or detonator every time Afghan civilians die in an attack? I mean, when you help treat a Taliban soldier you know you’re just releasing a man who will go on to kill civilians deliberately, so doesn’t that go against Hippocrates’s Oath?
  • And lastly, didn’t the Taliban chose to live like they do? They can always blend back into the population and stop fighting to seek medical attention, or surrender to NATO, no one is forcing them to stay in their caves when they are wounded. At least one expert agrees with me on this one:

Andrea Bianchi, a professor of international law at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, said the Red Cross wasn’t obliged to provide training and medical kits to the Taliban but appeared to have chosen to do so for practical reasons.

I’m sure opinions will range wildly on this topic, but I for one cannot condone what the Red Cross is doing here and at times like these I feel glad I never donated to them.

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Hello world!

They say your first post is the hardest, the second one is even harder and by the third time you forget what was so hard about it in the first place.

So here it goes.

I’m a twenty-something born the son of a working class hero and (mostly) raised in the Netherlands where I still live and am studying physics on nice little university.

I’ll be spewing my thoughts on my life, and the rest of the universe, ranging from science, to awesome tv-shows, politics and whatever else piques my interest.

Enjoy!

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