Wednesday, 28 June 2006

New: Bitemarks

Well, not really new. More like improved.

You may, or you may have not noticed I changed the word "comments" to "bitemarks" on this blog. I like that. Not only does it mean my tampering with html and stuff has paid off; it also means that they're called more logically. You know.. DragonFang, Dragon's Breath... Bitemarks! :)

Also, instead of taking you to a different page, they appear underneath the original post when you click on them. Try it. It's fun.

Friday, 23 June 2006

Honestly, there could be tears


What does that mean to you? What do you envision?

Do you envision yourself like a Buddhist monk, meditating cross-legged in a perfectly silent room, candles and incense burning around you, achieving a higher state of conscienceness and relaxation?

Do you envision a natural paradise; birds singing in tall trees, young monkeys playing and chasing each other around, lions resting in the shades?

Or do you perhaps envision a starship, shaped like an insect, falling to the surface of some planet, spinning out of control, with its crew trying hard to prevent it from crashlanding? Because that is what I envision these days.

The starship, a Firefly class ship called Serenity, and its crew are the subject of the series Firefly and the movie Serenity, created by Joss Whedon. Yes, the one who made the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.

As you may or may not know, today is Serenity Day. That means we are celebrating this magnificent series and that marvelous movie. Everyone interested is encouraged, no, obliged to buy the movie, convert other people, and generally make yourselves heard. To the public; to the networks that took the series off the air; to everyone listening. Today is Serenity Day. Let's celebrate. Let's buy. Let's show them good things do not need to go to waste; that quality TV series do not need to be cancelled. Join the Browncoats.

Shiny. Let's be bad guys.

This whole Firefly business was completely unknown to me a few months back. I had never heard of it, because it never aired in the Netherlands. Serenity, the movie, was released here but I never thought twice about it; campaigning never really took off, I guess. It's odd and kind of embarrassing to think campaigning has such an impact on what I do or do not watch, but I guess that's just the way it is. Luckily, there was the PLB, which brought this whole thing to my attention, and here I am, writing my Serenity blog.

So. What should I write? Hmm...

Recently there have been some great entries concerning Serenity and Firefly (for example: this, that and this) and today will see many more, I'm sure. I'm not sure if I can write an entry that can compare. But I will try!

I can blog about how I can't find Firefly in my country, and how it took me weeks to find out it was never released here and can only be purchased through the internet at ridiculous prices. Or how I rented Serenity, just to be sure I like it when I buy it - and I will buy it, later today. Or I could compare the 'verse to the galaxy far, far away, but it wouldn't be fair. Like comparing apples and oranges.

So I started thinking. What is the first thing I think about, when I think of Serenity? Two things, really - Joss Whedon's sense of humour, and great characters. Well, one of those will have to do, then.

Joss Whedon's sense of humour is great - any of you who have seen the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, can relate to that. I especially loved Xander's wit and sarcasm:
"I laugh in the face of danger - then hide until it goes away."

It is also very clear in Serenity:
Mal: "We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then - explode. "

But the aforementioned characters - those are the real gems. Of course they would be - it's based on a whole season of Firefly. I haven't seen the series yet, but I am fascinated with the movie nevertheless. All of the characters are great - I think Jayne is really cool - but there's one that really stands out for me.


Yes, the one, the only, River Tam. She's a mystery, an enigma. A seventeen year old girl with a history that is - complicated. I'm trying to keep this spoiler free, so that will have to do.

When I think of River, I see both a scared little girl and a ruthless fighter. I see a girl, lying somewhere in the Serenity, trying to stop the outside world from getting in. I see a warrior with skills that surpass everything anyone in the 'verse has ever seen. I see a little sister to an overly protective brother. I see conflict, lots of conflict. Both inside of her, and because of her, and because of what she knows - or might know.

Like I said, she's an enigma. Both little girl and coldblooded killer. It is that combination that is powerful and yes, it does remind one of Buffy sometimes, but only on a superficial level.

If there's any fighting, you fall down or run away. It's okay to leave them to die.

River's opinions are never explicitly stated in the movie. It is strongly suggested, but never truly stated how she feels about Serenity or its crew. I find this fascinating; after all, she is sort of part of the team, yet independent of it. She might very well make it on her own - or maybe not - but she sticks with a raggedy crew with a dubious reputation.

And she does have arguments with the crewmembers, but not in the usual sense. Jayne wasn't very happy about her being back aboard the ship, for example. Oddly, he never spoke his concerns to her directly. I think maybe, just maybe, Jayne was scared of this girl. Of course he would never admit to that, being all rough and tough, but I think deep down he was really frightened by this girl, who moved with such deadly speed.

And in a way, he would be right. Because she was far from predictable. But that's the fun about her, to us as viewers.

I like River.

I like Serenity. And you will, too - just buy the movie and watch. You will not be disappointed. Trust me.

In the end, there can only be one quote.

I'm a leaf on the wind - watch how I soar.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Who's your daddy...

This, and much much more at Off The!

Sorry to bore you with more cartoons, but I happen to find them very funny. And I do not have the time to conjure up some longer, serious blog entries about deep things. So cartoons it is, for now.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

May the cartoons be with you

More cartoons of the Star Wars kind. Hope you like.

Thursday, 8 June 2006


Big news today: Iraqi al-Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi has been killed (; Political leaders from across the globe were happy and relieved, and said (among other things) that it's "a great success for Iraq and the global war on terror", "a happy day for Iraq, the Iraqi people, and all free people", and "a significant victory".

Excuse me?

Perhaps it's just me, but isn't it wrong to celebrate the death of a person? Isn't this exactly what those terrorists do? How are we supposed to be the "good guys", when we commit the same attrocities? I'm not saying this man was innocent, misunderstood or confused. He was a terrorist; one of the worst ones, I believe. But we should never celebrate the death of another human being, or we will become just like them! I hope people will finally learn this.

It reminds me of what's happening in Israel/Palestine. Both sides commit horrible bloody crimes against one another, leading to reactions of violence again. It doesn't even matter who's right anymore; both sides are wrong. Why can they not agree? A Jewish state, and a Palestinian state. Apparently neither side are willing to give up on the Promised Land, so why not just draw a line and call it a border? One both parties can agree on, of course. No more settlers into foreign territories (never have I felt pity for those that were removed from their illegal settlements), and no more suicide bombers (never has any politician changed his mind because of it).

Ah, I'm so frustrated with these insane policies. I could go on and on, but no-one that can change it, is going to read this anyway. Maybe countries, or communities, would work better if they were smaller. Maybe then democracy can really bloom; when everyone knows what their peers think of things, and can together reach a compromise. Democracy cannot be enforced upon people; it wouldn't be democracy anymore.

Just two more things before I get down from my soapbox.

First, it seems that CIA flights have taken place across Europe afterall. Some countries have even cooperated with the transport, alleged imprisonment and torture of terrorist suspects. Of course, Washington has immediately denied any such claims.

Am I the only one who is concerned by this? People accused of terrorism or connections to terrorist networks, not even convicted, are probably transported across the globe and possibly tortured for information. Information gathered by torture is known to be unreliable, and probably leads to false leads, which leads to even more people arrested and undergone the same treatment. Or sent to Guantanamo Bay, where similar suspects have been imprisoned for over 4 years without trial. Innocent, harmless people are being held there and from what we've heard, it's not a great place to be jailed.

Okay, one more thing and I'm done for the day.

You might have heard about Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is, or rather, was a Dutch politician. Being apparently quite popular among foreign reporters, it might have been surprising that she is not that loved in the Netherlands.

She is an outspoken person, who often criticises the Islam. Theo van Gogh, the controversial filmmaker that was murdered as a terrorist act, was a good friend of her, and Ali recieved death threats from fundamentalist Muslims, too. Ali has been a defender of freedom of speech, and therefore, her leaving the country is internationally regarded as a telltale sign that freedom of speech in the Netherlands is declining.

Here are some comments from one who lives in this oppressive country without freedoms. Yes, me.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (or whatever her true name is) is not the great politician you apparently think she is. She just shouts rude remarks about the Islam, among which that it is "a retarded culture". These do not seem to be based on arguments or evidence, but rather on her personal beliefs. Sure, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, and freedom of speech is exactly that, but why needlessly insult people? Engage in discussions, don't impose your views on others.

Agreed, reveiving death threats for voicing your opinion is just wrong. But insulting is wrong, too, and only leads to polarisation. You're not winning the debate like that. I believe she is responsible for at least some of the polarisation within the Dutch Muslim population.

Another thing. Hirsi Ali did not leave the country because of "growing clamour from both the Muslim and the secular communities to silence her", but because she had lied. Lied about her name, and the reason for fleeing her home country. Lying in official documents about being a refugee. Because of this, she was never truly a Dutch woman, because the name on her passport (or whatever she's got) is not her name. She had to leave the country because of lying.

I, for one, am glad she left the country. I might not agree with the refugee policy all the time, but I do feel no exception should be made for her.

So, good people of the United States of America: enjoy her stay. Let me know if you appreciate her still after a year or so.

Okay, I know. The soapbox goes back under the bed. I just had to get it off my chest.

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Friday, 2 June 2006

American dream?

We're all living in Amerika
Amerika ist wunderbar
We're all living in Amerika
Amerika, Amerika

We're all living in Amerika
Coca-Cola, Wonderbra
We're all living in Amerika
Amerika, Amerika

Rammstein - Amerika

First, let me state clearly that this is not, I repeat, not an attack on the United States of America, its citizens or its mentality.

Okay then. I just need to get this off my chest, because I've been getting very mixed messages about America and Americans. I want to go to the States to see which of these conflicting ideas about it are actually true, and which are not. I want to share some of those things with you.

First of all, there is the issue of privacy. I don't want anyone to know all about me just because I go on holiday in their country. I don't have anything to hide, but my privacy means a lot to me. Right now, when one wants to go to America, one has to have his fingerprints taken, photos taken, iris scanned, and I don't know what else. As if a fingerprint can predict your future actions.
Now, this is not something unique to America. Recently Japan decided to do this as well, which grieves because I want to go there, too. It's just inconvenient; I'm not going as long as these measures are used.
The lack of respect for privacy, though not unique either, seems to be a general trend among the government people of the world's last superpower. Potential terrorists are traced with phone taps and such - I can understand that. I can not understand the need to tap regular Americans' phone calls and internet use, or infiltrate in groups of clearly innocent people that happen to have an interest in politics. I definately cannot understand the need to know everything about everyone, worldwide, ranging from flight lists to which internet sites they visit. The end does not justify the means. And no, I do not trust Bush or his people with this information. I didn't vote for him; I couldn't as I'm not an American. If I could have, I would have voted for that other guy. Anything but another four years of Bush.

Well alright, this might be an attack on the Bush administration. But they deserve it. However, I will not waste any more words on it, because pretty much everything has been said. If you're interested, you can follow these links:
Recent news article - Bush bans gay marriage.
Bush Watch - critical site about George W.
Bush Flash - critical site about his policies.
Bush or chimp - comparing Bush to a chimp - not very seriously.

One thing I repeatedly hear conflicting things about is that Americans are supposed to be naive, somewhat retarded, superficial, yet very intelligent, friendly and outgoing. I have met some Americans online, most notably on the PLB site, that are very nice, friendly, intelligent, eloquent; a bit crazy maybe, but in a good way. I also can't help but notice rude, superficial and idiotic remarks about the rest of the world (not on that site!), like how Texas is bigger than France and therefore more important. Another example is the idea of returning the Statue of Liberty to France. I mean, come on. Give me a break.

I know not every single American is the same, just like not every Frenchman, Italian or German is the same as the rest. I'm talking generalizations here, so forgive me for that. I am absolutely sure there are Americans that are the nicest people, just like there are those that are absolute idiots. I'm just interested in how they are generally. The common guy - I really don't know what to think about him. That's one reason why I'd like to go there: find out for myself.

Is it true that Americans are afraid to criticize their President in public? That more than a third of the American people believe the end of days, as described in the Bible, will be within their lifetime? Are Americans really such religious fundamentalists?

Do Americans realize the world doesn't end at the United States border? Again, I get conflicting messages. Obviously many children worldwide become less capable of pointing to the right spot on a map when asked for a place, but that's not what I meant. America isn't the world; it's merely part of it. Sure, people know about Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, France. But do they know it's not the uncivilized "rest of the world" thing I imagine seeing in movies and stories. How about the World Series, that is not global, but just the US and Canada? The number of times I heard the phrase "the whole world" when they actually just meant America, is beyond counting. But is this typical of Americans? I simply do not know.

Any Americans reading this are free to comment. Please do.

And while you're at it, you might read the Declaration of Revocation, by John Cleese. Laugh; it's not to be taken seriously. I think.

Another cartoon I found