zondag 29 januari 2017

The Land of the Hopeless

I totally get Trump. It was the immigrants that massacred the native Americans after all.

vrijdag 29 juli 2016

The Donald Trump Presidential Library

Na zijn derde termijn als president van de Verenigde Staten, laat The Donald zoals veel presidenten voor hem, het Amerikaanse volk een Presidential Library na.

Deze bestaat uit een boekenplank in het gemeentehuis van Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Geen andere stad wilde een plaats beschikbaar stellen, ook niet toen bleek dat de bibliotheek uit slechts twee boeken zou bestaan:

  1. Me, an authorized autobigraphy bij Donald J. Trump, published by Donald J. Trump Publishers, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
  2. The Holy Bible, by Melania Trump.

Verkiezingen in Amerika

Ik las (in Amerika) de biografie van Thomas Jefferson (door Jon Meacham). Terwijl ik las, voerden in het Amerika van nu de conventies van Republikeinen en Democraten de boventoon in de media. Trump: woordkunstenaar, solist, megalomaan, top-down management. Clinton: onbeholpen spreker, teamspeler, bescheiden, bottom-up management.

Eind 1800 speelde iets dergelijks, bij de verkiezingsstrijd tussen de Republikeinen (die de door Jefferson mede ontworpen Grondwet, met een minimale overheid verder wilden ontwikkelen) en de Federalisten, die onder leiding van Alexander Hamilton een centraal gezag, liefst nog in de vorm van een monarchie, wilden instellen. Hamilton was een begenadigd spreker, Jefferson meer filosoof en schrijver, die niet hield van spreken in het openbaar, en daar ook niet zo goed in was.

De Republikeinen onder Jefferson wonnen spectaculair van de Fedralisten (hoewel de uiteindelijk presidentskeuze, door het toenmalige kiessysteem, in 1801 pas na tientallen stemmingen in de Senaat tussen twee Republikeinen beslist werd).

  1. Lees (oude) president-biografie├źn. Het helpt het Amerika van nu te begrijpen
  2. Er is altijd hoop, behalve voor Trump.

zaterdag 12 september 2015

[...] one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.

Richard Dawkins

dinsdag 7 april 2015

Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015

On convincing a person

And so Moist had a rather pointed little chat with him, after which the man was much better informed, although bleeding slightly from the nose.

"Raising Steam", 2013

vrijdag 29 augustus 2014

Schiller, in our time

Two quotes from the poet seem to sum up the situation in Europe in 2014:

  • "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans)
  • "The voice of the majority is no proof of justice." (Talbot, in: Maria Stuart)

  • So who is this brilliant "Talbot" guy?

    zaterdag 22 februari 2014

    A better Olympic ranking

    The individual participation of athletes has been included in the Olympic Charter from the beginning[1], introduced by Pierre de Coubertin himself. His ideal was that sports would form a counterweight to the exploding nationalism at the end of the 19th century. The Charter explicitly forbids publication of ranking by country by the IOC[2].

    Since the beginning of the modern Olympic era countries have hijacked the Olympic ideal. Worst examples were the Nazi games in 1936 and the various boycotts in the 80’s. Organizing of, or participating in the games has been used to promote the alleged advantages of a country or its governmental structure. In that sense, politics has always ruled the games.

    Additionally, in the past few years it has become clear that “nationality” is not an immutable concept in sports[3]. Vic Wild and Victor An are no Russians (and An was not named Victor at birth). Supposedly the Russians outbid the Americans for An. Another American has wilfully acquired Columbian (!) citizenship[4], in order to participate in the Sochi Olympics. He eventually failed to qualify, but the procedure had come to completion.

    Following the sport –so it seems- various European countries have offered citizenship for money[5].

    In spite of all this, rankings by country are always published during the Olympic games, and there is a `winning` country. This is wrong for obvious reasons. There are far better ways to compare groups of people without deeper meaning.

    I propose to replace the country ranking by a ranking according to Zodiac sign. Nationality and citizenship are for sale, and one´s birth date is not so easily changed.

    Aquarii everywhere, unite! There is a lot to be gained, also for sports journalists. I cannot wait to see their analyses!

    [1] Olympic Charter, Section 6.1: “The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries [...]”, http://www.olympic.org/documents/olympic_charter_en.pdf
    [2]Olympic Charter, Section 57 Roll of Honour: “The IOC and the OCOG shall not draw up any global ranking per country […]”, ibid.
    [3] A thorough analysis is in: Shachar, A., "Picking Winners: Olympic Citizenship and Global Race for Talent" Yale Law Journal 120 (2011), 2088-2139