What was the question again?

To the left: Richard Gdanski of 1984’s one-single-wonder Psycon, gracing the cover of Your 64. To the right: Ninja of South-African rappers Die Antwoord (photo by Xeni Jardin). It’s like they are twins!


The dude bird dude

There is still a chill in the morning air when I call Liam to the car. It is his birthday, and I am taking him to buy him a bird.

“Dad, where are we going?”

He already knows where we are going, he just wants to hear it again. I have already forgotten the name. “Duchattinier,” I manage to read before Liam tears the note from my hand. Since he started learning to read no text is safe from him.

“Doo-chat-i-neer, birds and bird sup-plies.” It is somewhere just off the highway.

A dry cough from behind the hedge. Liam sometimes calls the neighbour Mr. Sour Face though never to his actual face. “Elflord, mister Elflord,” I correct him silently. I almost said it out loud.

“That dude bird dude,” the neighbour says, his bald head suddenly peeking over the hedge. Duchattinier is known for being the only man in the country to sell dude birds.

I utter a short apology, and quickly manoeuvre Liam and myself into the car.

While we are driving Liam asks about the name of every bird he sees. Sparrows, jackdaws, and magpies I can tell apart but which is a blackbird and which a starling? I point to a bright yellow sticker on the inside of a window and say, look, a window swallow. A lame joke, but Liam thinks it is hilarious. From then on he keeps seeing window swallows everywhere.

A heavy chain with a lock is attached to the gate, as is a sign that I cannot read from the car. “Go and look what it says there,” I tell Liam. He clambers out, and walks to the gate.

“If you can read this you are staming too close!”

“Standing,” I correct him.

He shakes his head furiously as he climbs back in.

“Staming, daddy.”

Line trail, Abcoude

Today I went for a short hike along a small bit of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. As Wikipedia notes, this line, built between 1880 and 1920, became obsolete as soon as it was finished thanks to the inventions of the plane and the tank.

I got off at Abcoude station and walked 5 kilometres along the river Gein towards the Fort at Nigtevecht, and the same distance back.

Willow has suffered:

A fortification just outside the main fort:


Why helmets?

Mandatory bicycle helmet laws: why? What kind of injuries are bicycle helmets supposed to reduce or stop?

A cursory web search delivers two types of web sites, those of people and orgs vehemently against bicycle helmets, and those moderately in favour. The ones against point out that bicycle helmets rarely every help, but since you cannot prove a negative, there is little other data they can point to. The burden of proof lies with the pro-helmet group, but those tend to stick to vague statements along the lines of “a bicycle helmet protects you in the case of crashes, but also in the case of falls.”

Neither type of website tries to explain what kind of injuries a bicyclist is likely to have, and how a helmet would help against these injuries, or fail to do so.

This lack of data unfortunately and pro-actively turns any discussion about bicycle helmets into one fuelled purely by myths and assumptions, and a political one to boot.

The only figures I could find were at the totally unrelated blog of Toby Sterling, who points out that most lethal bike accidents in Amsterdam in 2006 were the result of bicycles stopping in the blind spot of large trucks, even though blind spot mirrors have been obligatory since 2003.

Well, internets, have you useful links for me?

How to eat a carrot

(Via his old man.)

The witch and the elephant

Once upon a time there lived a beetle that wanted to be an elephant.

What is an elephant? its friends wanted to know. Is it something you can eat? Can you stroke its hair? Does it have cable television?

I don’t know, the beetle said, but I am convinced it would be great to be one.

An elephant that just happened to pass by had overheard everything, and was surprised. Am I something you can eat? How do I taste? What is hair? Do I have cable television?

The elephant lifted the beetle off the ground, held it in front of its left eye, and asked: what is a beetle?

A witch who also just happened to pass by transformed the beetle into an elephant and the elephant into a handsome fellow whom she chained to the clammy wall of the small castle a few miles into the forest. There she stroked his hair until he went crazy. And then she stroked his hair until he died. And then she stroked his hair until he had none left.

Winter 2009-2010

Taken at the Louis Braillelaan in Zoetermeer, the World Trade Center in Amsterdam, and on the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam respectively.

Science fiction

Doing science fiction is very like doing farce, in one area only: it’s real people in an unreal situation. […] If they’re real people, then it works.

– Gareth Thomas

I forgot what I was going to call this

Ah, welcome to the virtual home of a lunatic.

Today there is a common cold on the menu, like yesterday, and similar time-units before. Rather fuzzy in the head, I am.

So now I am condemned to the hell of daytime television.

Have you ever noticed how some interviewees respond to their interviewers as if they are explaining things to literal retards? I always assumed there is just this type of interviewee, you know, who explains anything to anyone this way, slowly, deliberate, and not to afraid to pronounce and then answer every hidden assumption.

But with retards doing the interviews, it is hard to say what is going on these days.

Today I felt a little fitter than yesterday. This renewed vigour, I felt, was proven by the fact that yesterday I preheated the oven, but had forgotten to put the buns in. Whereas today… and then doubt started to creep in. I checked the kitchen. Suffice it to say that unlike yesterday, today I had not only preheated the oven, but had also taken the buns out of the fridge, and then … I just walked away.

Things are so black and white

Am I the only one who, when cleaning the kitchen floor, lavishes about four times more attention upon the white tiles than the black?