• Will this be our story?

    A Friday-night train is thundering through the Flemish countryside and I sit insulated from the world by my headphones, uncomfortably squirming in my seat trying to fall asleep. In Brussels-North a black man with crazy eyes gets on and finds a seat diagonally across from me. His crazy eyes make me uncomfortable but luckily my warm blanket of music protects me. The train does not care. It continues to meticulously cut the landscape into two uneven parts. In the sky the clouds and the setting sun play the same division game with bright colors at the top and ominous gray below. As the train goes through a long broad left turn I see lakes reflecting fiery red, yellow and orange making it harder to distinguish up and down, left and right. Every hour a train just like this one will run by here, coming from deep inside the country and ending at the coast. A long week of work is weighing heavy on my shoulders and the walk home from the railway station looms large. This two-hour journey seems to have no end. My life seems to be in limbo, suspended between arrival and departure, stuck in its own form of an uncertainty principle. The only proof of time passing was the seconds ticking away the tracks on the little screen of my iPod-nano. [Read More...]

  • Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank, give a man a bank and he can rob the world!

    I’m a fan of conspiracy theories. I like to hear about them because they give me the illusion that it’s possible to control something in this world. A part of it is also linked to why we all like spy stories and movies about political intrigue. Luckily, most of the conspiracy theories aren’t true. There is some basis of truth behind them but at some point the story goes overboard and you have to suspend disbelief. The difficult part is distinguishing where the truth starts and where it ends. [Read More...]

  • Agents of change

    It’s one minute to midnight. The world is rolling with the punches. The masses are swinging wildly with all their might and The Man is waiting for the right timing to use their momentum against them to bring them to their knees. [Read More...]

  • These things come and go

    Not a lazy weekend goes by without me coming up with a new idea for starting a blog. In the beginning I would write them all down, a few times I would even refine the idea and only twice have I actually started a new blog. Both the projects died in infancy (RIP fotonovella and legacy). So why am I having such a hard time at this? [Read More...]

  • Why religious republicans keep the focus on social issues

    As I was writing the last article concerning republicans on the extreme right and their stance on global warming, I realized that there are a few more policy positions of theirs that are weird for Europeans. Key among these issues are abortion, gay rights and teaching creationism. In essence the Republican stance on these issues is tailor-made to co-opt the religious conservatives of America. Whereas in the American two-party system this alliance between the religious conservatives and the fiscal conservatives is almost an arranged marriage, by European standards they seem strange bed-fellows indeed. [Read More...]

  • Why free-market capitalists must deny man-made global warming

    I have a strange fascination with American politics, extreme Republican politics in particular, mainly because I don’t understand them from my European perspective. It makes me very confused to see so many Americans sharing the point of view of Republicans on the extreme right when their opinions on a lot of topics seem to be devoid of logic. One that I find particularly striking is their stance on global warming. Rather than just joining the group of people who like to think Americans are dumb, I want to understand how they came to this point view. So I tried to contextualize this issue for myself in order to see why it is ideologically consistent for free market capitalists to deny and later on demonize man-made global warming as being a communist hoax. This is of course only one way to look at it and by no means should be generalized to the entire conservative base.
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  • Battlestar Galactica

    This is a post to remind myself of my reactions to season 1 of Battlestar Galactica. Probably is of no interest to you unless you saw this series.

    There are some things in life that I hope to achieve. Some are easy, some are trivial, some involve other people, some are just personal but an overwhelming majority are long-term and require staying the course. That’s not something I’m very good at. A staggering number of ideas never make it through the night. And for those that do, my laptop generally is a place where they come to die. After a gestation time in my mind, they end up half written in word, half coded in html, half mind mapped in xmind or half processed in photoshop.
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  • Dagen zonder vlees

    Last week I was invited to a facebook event called ‘dagen zonder vlees’. Since then, it seems that quite some people are participating in this event, including quite a number of my facebook friends. So what is this about?

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  • Nachtelijke ontmoetingen

    Ik liep door de Kortestraat richting de Oude Markt toen ik je zag staan en ik wist meteen dat ik jou wilde hebben. Een lekker warm stuk vlees, gerold in een wit jasje dat je beeldig stond. Ik kon eigenlijk niet goed wachten om je aan mijn lippen te zetten. Zo lekker strak geschoren, dun maar niet te dun. Ik begon al een beetje te watertanden van het idee alleen al. En het beste deel is als ze je vol saus pompen. Sommige mensen hebben liever niet te veel saus, ik heb je net het liefst als er zoveel saus in zit dat het er vanonder uit drupt. En dus stapte ik binnen en leunde voorover aan de toog en zei zelfzeker: ‘Een durum met andalouse alstublieft’ waarop de man antwoordde: ‘Voor hier of om mee te nemen?’ Ik doe dat liefst niet in het openbaar en dus nam ik je gewoon mee naar huis.

    Terwijl ik op jou stond te wachten, kwamen twee lieve meisjes me vragen waarom ik hun straal voorbij was gelopen om dan de Alibaba binnen te lopen. Ik kon hun niet vertellen dat ik die avond met jou op stap was dus zei ik gewoon dat ik ze niet had zien staan. En toen lameerden we nog wat over de film die ik net gezien had (The King’s speech) en over hoe het de laatste avond was dat ze hem speelden. Juist voor jij eraan kwam zijn ze weer vertrokken.

  • Die rooie of toch maar dat zwart leder?

    Ik wil je iets vertellen maar ik vind er niet de juiste woorden voor. Dat gebeurt me de laatste tijd wel eens vaker. Dan kijk ik je aan in de hoop dat je blik iets in me wakker maakt. En dan kijk jij terug en denk ik geregeld “ja, nee, laat maar, later misschien eens”. Wat als ik dan in plaats gewoon aan een zin zou beginnen? Niet echt met een duidelijk idee waar ik naartoe wil maar gewoon omdat je nu beter ergens begint dan ermee te blijven zitten. Zou mijn ge-slalom en gehakkel je nieuwsgierig maken of juist nerveus? Ik wil geen moeilijk gesprek uit de weg gaan maar ik wil het ook niet erger maken met een verwarrend relaas vol je weet wel’s en snap je wat ik bedoel’s. Ik ben bang dat je zal fronsen waardoor ik nog langer rond de pot zal draaien. And suddenly I throw caution to the wind. “Goeie god, wijf, ge gaat toch eens op uw voeding moeten gaan letten want gij zijt precies rot vanbinnen. Zo liggen protten onder de dekens!” De volgende keer toch maar weer iets diplomatischer te werk gaan.

    Dit is waarom mannen er baat bij hebben bij IKEA een mening te hebben over zetels. You made your bed now sleep in it. O ja en vrouwendag en zo. Hip hoi waar zit ge nu?

  • Memories of Formosa

    “You know what I think?” she says. “That people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel. Advertising fillers in the newspaper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills: when you feed’em to the fire, they’re all just paper. The fire isn’t thinking, ‘Oh, this is Kant,’ or ‘Oh, this is the Yomiuri evening edition,’ or ‘Nice tits,’ while it burns. To the fire, they’re nothing but scraps of paper. It’s the exact same thing. Important memories, not-so-important memories, totally useless memories: there’s no distinction – they’re all just fuel.”

    - Haruki Murakami

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  • Shake before use

    I’m a young man with many ideas. I get them at the most inconvenient of times though. In the shower, just before going to bed, just after waking up or basically at any time that the chances of me forgetting about the idea are the highest. My other problem is that these ideas never become anything more than just another idea. Execution isn’t my strong suit. So this time I was brainstorming ideas for the cleantech challenge when this gem came to mind.

    [Read More...]

  • Kansas City Shuffle

    Ik weet niet goed hoe het kwam. Ik had het zo goed mogelijk proberen te verbergen maar ik denk dat ze het toch in mijn ogen had gezien. “Ik denk dat ik klaar ben. Het plastiekske is vol. Allé ik wil wel nog even verder pompen maar ik denk niet dat er nog veel zal uitkomen.” Ze schudde haar hoofd. “Nee nee, laat maar. Ik voel al dat ge slapkes wordt. Blijft maar even rustig liggen. Ik zal dat wel opkuisen.” Ik ben geen held als het aankomt op bloed geven.

    Melkwitte huid, grijze schoenen met een bloem, groen truitje, ogen, o g e n, nagels. Ja ik heb u gezien, maak u maar geen zorgen. En nu doorstappen, trut.

  • Change management: a case study of how not to do it

    This content is quite different from the usual. It is obviously non-fiction, non-funny. Please scroll down to find the new rating feature and don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed! Any comments are welcome.

    Background: I work in a research institute that focuses on semiconductor research. My group works mainly on silicon photovoltaics. When I joined the group there were roughly 20 people in the group. By this point in time that number has grown to 60+ people. The increase in budget has followed a similar increase. Growing pains have become apparent with this incredibly quick growth. Change management is one of the premier aspects of management for a group in this situation. This case study looks at the success in this area of management.

    [Read More...]

  • Square 1

    Ik geef je een stukje van mijn hart en jij vraagt me waarom ik dat doe. Zomaar, zeg ik. Dat is nu eens echt geen reden eh, zeg jij. Ik vraag me af wat mijn motivatie aan de zaak verandert maar ik durf het je niet te vragen. Je kijkt me verveeld aan en zucht heel diep. Mijn hart zakt me in de schoenen. Het stinkt er en ik had nu wel graag dat stuk hart terug gehad. Nee nee, zeg je, je kunt een geschenk niet terug vragen gewoon omdat de persoon aan wie je het geeft er niet echt gelukkig mee is. Gegeven is gegeven. Maar het was echt een mooi stuk! En wat dan nog? Je haalt je schouders op en wandelt gezwind mijn leven uit. Ik knipper met mijn ogen en blijf plompverloren achter. De rode vlek op mijn t-shirt groeit gestaag met ieder van je stappen. Ik moet er bij gaan zitten want ik word al gauw wat duizelig. Was het… was het de ‘zomaar’, stamel ik.

  • Don’t forget to wake up

    I hate dreams.

    I’m not even talking about nightmares. No no, I’m talking about regular dreams. Lately my dreams have been characterized by a horrifying recurring theme and the dreadful thing about dreams is that you know they’re coming from somewhere in your head. Try as you might, you can’t deny the fact that they’re important, they’re some part of yourself that is trying to creep into the light, some part of yourself that you don’t always want to acknowledge or that you’re even actively trying to repress. I fucking hate dreams. Let me elaborate.

    [Read More...]

  • The stuff of dreams

    It was after dark in the Daan Park of Taipei when an odd looking couple came by a bench and decided to sit  for a minute. A little further down the road to the right the playground was still filled with kids running around and parents keeping a watchfull eye from a distance. To the left the skate rink was busy but far less noisy. Closer by to the bench in question was an amfitheater with small groups of older people sitting in the tribunes discussing things. As he sat down he put his umbrella to the side and looked on as she lay down on the bench and put her head in his lap. “Comfortable?” he asked. “Yes,” she said while looking up to him with a playful shimmer in her eyes. She seemed so content, like an exhausted kid that just got tucked in next to her favourite stuffed animal. There was just something about her face that he couldn’t resist. The endless emotions it could express would blow his mind. He ran his fingers through her hair and smiled. “I guess that in a city like Taipei, this is about as alone as you can get when you’re outdoors.” He looked around at all the people walking by in the distance. They weren’t really alone but nobody was near enough to overhear their conversation and that would suffice.

    [Read More...]

  • Legendary

    Epic nights must be chronicled in epic ways. Undoubtedly my storytelling skills are not up to the task but I would be remiss if I didn’t even give it a shot. The aftermath was hard to oversee. A new number in my cell phone under the name ‘Meldd’ (who?), a wok (mine) filled with puke (not mine), clothes everywhere, cavernous eyes staring back at me in the mirror, more puke in the bathroom and a bunch of pissed-off flatmates in the middle of their exams who hadn’t enjoyed our drunken antics. I’m pretty sure when I left my place the night before, I was only going out for a game of snooker with a friend… There’s some pattern unfolding involving nights starting with a game of snooker. Maybe in time I would find the magic ingredients to a successful night out. Judging from my pounding head and the haze covering up most details of last night, that wasn’t soon to happen. My mouth feels like I licked clean an ashtray. Grimy. I take a swig from a half empty can of beer to get rid of the taste only to end up making it worse. On the flipside of it all was the fact that I was in my own room, alone. Whatever happened, couldn’t have been that crazy. I try to weave together a timeline based on dodgy memories or illusions masquerading as memories.

    [Read More...]

  • Salem’s lost little girl (full story)

    “Do you reckon they ever find any of these kids?” The picture on the Childfocus missing person’s report seemed old and the colours had faded. The two men were standing in the underpass at the railway station.

    “I’d certainly like to think so.” It was freezing cold and it was late. Deserted and forgotten, both the underpass and railway seemed to be more of a ghost town than anything else. Except for the occasional train passing by, nothing seemed to move.

    “It seems like there’s always someone missing. I wonder where all these people go.” One of the men was shorter while the other one was taller and heavier. Both of them wore all black and had broad shoulders and big arms. They seemed to be waiting for something or someone.

    [Read More...]

  • Braindrain

    Sometimes I want to tell you that I want to go back to the way we were but I’m afraid to open this door to a room full of mirrors showing us freakishly distorted reflections of our former selves, disfigured by all that happened since.

    I stare out of this window. The sun comes up. The sun goes down. One minute it’s raining. The next minute it’s dry. Briefly a rainbow brightens up the dull grey sky. I stare out of this window, sixteen stories high. I see the whole wide world. And nobody sees me. Story of my life.

    I couldn’t quite understand her. Did she say ‘hello’ or ‘hell no’. Ever the optimist, I chose to believe the former. That would be forevermore the misconception/lucky guess on which our relationship would be based. Thank god it was sunny that day.

    So for one evening I borrowed her smile. What could go wrong I thought? It turned out that her world would quickly collapse without the vital support of an ubiquitous all-powerful smile. Mid-way through my important dinner-date – the occasion of our rent-a-smile arrangement – she called me to have it returned, post-haste. I ate desert by myself, wondering if someone would sell their smile permanently.

    And I said I was sorry, like so many times before. I apologize so often that the word sorry has lost all colour and all weight. It has become an empty shell of a word with a cavernous echo that keeps on coming back. You must be wondering when things will change.