Dancing Among Landmines

As usual every commentator in the world is outclassed by the observations made by Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's trip:

When abroad it is not wise to criticize your own country and praise the antithetical world view of another--especially if yours is a democratic republic and the alternative is a theocratic monarchy that has a less than liberal record on human rights, treatment of women and homosexuals, and tolerance for religious plurality.

He ends with a modest thought.

Keeping in touch through YouTube

I'm keeping in touch with my friends through YouTube. I'm planing on putting a video on there myself soon. We have lots of fun that way :)

This is a video from David and Matthew.

You can see the original video here.

Wouter Bos fun

Sorry, can't resist as this news won't be in a newspaper near you. Here's Wouter Bos on October 20, 2008:

The bank did not need to be saved as such, Bos said. It simply required a better capital position because of the changed situation on the financial markets. "We gave ING a buffer [of 10 billion euro] against the storm. We are putting money into an essentially healthy company," Bos said.

This healthy company now got another 20 billion euro.

Banking crisis now over. Really.

A few months ago I discussed the state of the banks in The Netherlands with my dad. He was sure it was all fixed then, ABN AMRO just having been nationalised. I told him ING would be next. ING hasn't been nationalised in name, but received another 20 billion Euro.this week. On top of the 10 billion they already received. Deputy Prime Minster, and minister of Finance, Wouter Bos assures the taxpayers:

In the Netherlands we now have everything under control.

Famous last words I'm afraid. To see why ING is in such a trouble, look at their stock value:

That says it all, doesn't it? There share market value is completely wiped out. It lost 6/7 of its value in two years. On October 20, the Dutch government bought shares for 10 Euro a piece. they dropped to 5 Euro since. 50% loss for the taxpayer. There are about 2 billion ING shares, at 5 EUR a piece, ING's market value is 10 billion, so this injection is twice its market value...

But even if the minister of Finance believed this wasn't the last time, he wouldn't say so of course. But I'm afraid he actually might believe his words.

As many people dont' understand what is happening in the world of finance, let me give a short summary: most banks are insolvant. They don't want to admit this. They don't have to from their respective governments. This leads to an enormous loss of trust: because of the cover up, we don't know who is solvent and who isn't. The bailouts and cash injections are not helping, because they are covering up that many banks were run by incompetent people. All these money injections keep these banks in the hand of the incompetent, instead of, what should happen, turn these banks over to the competent in a bankruptcy. Capitalism has a way of dealing with incompetent businessmen: their business goes bankrupt and the assets move to more capable people.

We can also predict what will happen: if a bank is run by the government, as more and more banks will be, loans will be made for political purpose, not for business purpose. This will further deteriorate these banks, all leading to the final implosion where no one can deny the truth that the bank is insolvent.

Short term trends: it seems that stocks will go up for a while, a few months perhaps, if Obama goes ahead with his bad debt bank. Then we'll dive very deeply again.

Late Sinterklaas

On Saturday we visited ome Leen and tante Greta van Tuijl:

Saturday evening we went to Ida's parents. Oma had postponed Sinterklaas until we were there:

Everyone got something, but the kids got a lot of Donald Ducks. Don't know if we're all going to take that back to New Zealand...

The, eh, other kids enjoyed themselves with throwing paper at each other:

Aster was there as well, that's Arwin and Marlies' baby:

She isn't doing very well, it appears she has a gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. i.e. the valve between her stomach and gullet is underdeveloped, causing acid to come back. She seems to cry a lot. Hopefully this solves itself after the first year as it seems to do in most cases:

What does make an American proud?

What seems to make an American proud is a president going on foreign TV and bagging his country. Obama did it while running for president, for example in his speech in Berlin:

I know my country has not perfected itself.

As president he continues the trend. His first official TV interview is on an Arabic TV network, and what does he have to tell about his country?

all too often the United States starts by dictating.

Imagine Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, or John Key, the New Zealand prime minister going abroad and saying: our country has done some pretty stupid things.

Let me end with quoting Obama's wife, who only became proud of her country when Obama became the nominee:

for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.

What should make a Dutchman proud?

Deputy prime minister Wouter Bos gives the answer:

De PvdA'er vindt dat Nederlanders onder meer trots moeten zijn op de benoeming van Ahmed Aboutaleb, van Marokkaanse komaf, tot burgemeester van Rotterdam. Als andere voorbeelden noemde Bos de noties dat de islam ''bij Nederland hoort en dat altijd zal blijven.

Translation:

The leader of the Labour party believes that Dutch citizens should be proud of Ahmed Aboutaleb, the first Muslim to become mayor, and that of one of the largest cities, Rotterdam. Other examples he mentioned were that the Islam belongs to The Netherlands and always will be.

The only examples our deputy prime minister mentioned of why we should be proud involve the Islam and its progress in our society. This hardly requires any comment.

Rod Drury

One of New Zealand's most well-known entrepreneurs is Rod Drury. He has the following recommendation after discussing the impact of Apple's IPhone on the wireless and corporate market:

Maybe it’s time my near 5 year old got his own Mac and learned a bit of Cocoa programming.  I may be able to turn him cash-flow positive much earlier than I originally planned.

birthday parties

Last week was the first week that I felt a bit more settled. We are getting used to the routine of school, home work, shopping, cooking etc. I now know where most of the shops are located and what they sell. I still have to go twice or thrice to do grocery shopping, while I am used to do it once a week. Showing I am not yet in my routine.....But I also don't mind to go, it's a nice 5 min. bike ride. I had a fair bit of visiting to do as well. My friend turned 38 and our neighbours'wife celebrated her birthday as well. This is the order of a traditional birthday party: You have to arrive at 10.00 am. All visiters have to be congratulated as well. So you basically shake hands with all visitors and say 'happy birthday' to each of them. Coffee and a selection of cakes are served. After 15 min. or so you will get another cup of coffee served with a chocolate (bonbon). At around 11.00 you can choose from a selection of drinks, usually there is 'bowl': a fruit salade. With the drinks/bowl you are getting served a cheese-meat-platter and some chips or nuts. You can understand that the host is quite busy on her birthday! And when you get home at 12.00 noon you don't need your lunch :-)

Submission in the Netherlands

Glenn Reynolds, one of the most famous bloggers in the world, with an audience of 340,000 visitors a day, linked to "Submission the Netherlands" today.

The appalling decision to try Wilders, the Freedom Party’s head and the Dutch Parliament’s only internationally famous member, for “incitement to hatred and discrimination” against Islam is indeed an assault on free speech. But no one who has followed events in the Netherlands over the last decade can have been terribly surprised by it. Far from coming out of the blue, this is the predictable next step in a long, shameful process of accommodating Islam—and of increasingly aggressive attempts to silence Islam’s critics—on the part of the Dutch establishment.

Dinner at Dirk-Jan and Caroline's place

Friday evening we went to visit Dirk-Jan and Caroline Heemskerk (Ida's sister) to gaze at their new home in Utrecht. It was very hard to find. As they're in a new location, GPSs can't find it, so we set our navman to direct us to the middle of the Oudenrijnseweg. For some reason we ended up coming from the opposite direction Caroline thought we would be coming from, so her description didn't match what we saw. We tried to call her, but she didn't answer her mobile. Ida didn't know how to redial a number, so the kids were fighting over her phone we could press the redial button and managed to take out the battery in the process. A bit like Solomon's judgement I suppose: both AnneRoos and Dieuwe ending up with a piece: one with the battery, the other with the phone. Ida had bought a new simcard, and she hadn't changed the pincode it came with, so no one knew how to enable the phone once the battery was connected. The kids were trying anyway until it asked for the PUK code. My mobile didn't have Caroline's number, only Aagje's number. We called her, but they were driving as well, so couldn't look up a number for us. The only number Ida knew by heart was her mother's, but they were not at home as well. So we were stuck.

I decided to turn to go home. Meanwhile Ida had retried her mother and she was now answering. But then I recognised the description Caroline gave us, so we realised we had come from the wrong direction. Then it was easy and we finally made: 1 hour and 20 minutes. Here us having dinner:

Abject dhimmitude

Abject dhimmitude, that's the verdict of powerful conservative blog PowerLine in Submission in the Netherlands, discussing the prosecution of MP Geert Wilders:

The prosecution of Wilders is one more step along Europe's path to abject dhimmitude.

Saturday we visited Pake and Beppe

Saturday we visited Pake and Beppe in Urk. This is how the modern day kids let themselves drive:

Both Auke and AnneRoos are on a laptop, only Dieuwe is reading a book.

Dieuwe, making his home work

Dieuwe makes his home work while chatting on Skype with his friends in New Zealand:

Rain, rain, rain

It's raining today and yesterday. Here AnneRoos after having biked 40 minutes to get home, all in the rain:

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