Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sint Maarten.

It was November 11th. Some kids from the neighborhood came knocking at our door for Sint Maarten´s Day. They had paper lanterns and candles with them. You're supposed to open your door, light a candle, and give these kids treats like candies, cookies, chocolates, or fruits after they sing you songs. The songs have funny lyrics, by the way.

One song went:

Sint Maarten Sint Maarten
De koeien hebben staarten
De meisjes hebben rokjes aan
Daar komt Sint Martinus aan


Saint Martin, Saint Martin
The cows have tails
The girls have skirts
Here comes Saint Martinus

They sung it over and over that I was able to memorize the lyrics. But after they left, I started wondering what have cows with tails got to do with Saint Martin? The noble, knight St. Martin who helped a pauper! LOL

Friday, November 20, 2009


I heard of the word unfriended for the first time early this year, when a friend of mine called me to inform me that her highschool buddy unfriended her on Facebook. It sounded very strange to my ears. What exactly is unfriend? I mean, how do you unfriend a friend and why would you do it?

It turned out that unfriend is a word that people use today to mean that your name had been deleted from someone else´s contact list. Unfriending means deleting someone from your network.

This made me think about the quarrels around the world. The religious conflicts (although some say it´s social) in Northern Ireland - the IRA and the British. The Hinduist India and Moslem Pakistan. Israeli Jews and Palestinian Moslems. Wouldn´t it be nice if we could just unfriend all the miseries that these century-old wars had brought to mankind?

This brings me to the famous Dutch parliament member Geert Wilders. In March last year, Wilders released a 10-minute film, Fitna, on the internet where he alternated verses from the Qur'an with footage of terrorist atrocities committed around the world.

As expected, Moslem activists had called for Wilders to be prosecuted under the blasphemy laws for having argued that Islam was incompatible with personal freedoms and Western democracy.

Instead, the Dutch government scrapped the 1930s blasphemy law in favor of what they call, strengthening the current anti-discrimination legislation. They said that religion will not be given a privileged place above free speech and freedom to express without censorship.

From their standpoint, I understand the desire of the government to maintain freedom of speech among their people.

But what about hurting the sensibilities of other people, from other cultures? Does that still count? I mean, who is going to be held responsible when people start imparting half-truth information? Can we unfriend them? LOL