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Miscellaneous

Queen Beatrix and the Singaporean Masterpiece

It does not happen very often, but in a few days the Dutch Queen Beatrix will visit a country that is smaller than her own. Singapore: the city state that surprised the world with rapid economic growth and chewing-gum free streets. The Dutch can learn a lot from it. Yet, a short ride with the MRT subway would provide the ... Read More »

Gypsy Kings

Once upon a time, there was a little town, deeply hidden away in the forests of a faraway country, where everybody lived wealthy in fancy castles and had a nice Bentley in front of it. Sounds a bit like a fairytale, doesn’t it? If you leave the Bentley out, it could have been written by the Grim brothers. But this ... Read More »

Thank God – Blasphemy Law Throughout the World

Thank God, the Dutch parliament wants to ban the Blasphemy clause from its legal books. After all, nobody has been sentenced here for Blasphemy since 1968. That makes the law completely irrelevant, doesn’t it?  Actually, in quite a number of countries blasphemy, that is, remarks or actions considered to be contemptuous of God, is considered an offence. There are 32 ... Read More »

The Ost-Hippies of the DDR

Flower Power, peace signs and thousands of young people listening to music while sitting in the mud and smoking weed. For many of us, the Woodstock festival of 1969 is a key example of our current perception of hippies. What is often forgotten though, is the generation of flower children at the other side of the Iron Curtain. Yet, these ... Read More »

Christmas in China: from holy day to holiday

Giant Christmas trees, jingle bells playing in every store and children running around to see a glimpse of Santa Claus. Walking through any commercial district in China’s larger cities you can impossibly deny it: Christmas has conquered the People’s Republic of China. Commercial circus or religious influence? It used to be only a small Christian minority that silently celebrated the ... Read More »

A Grave Story

“All the gravestones offered were dates, something to serve as mere parentheses around what really happened in a person’s life’’ – Roy MacGregor See that gravestone above this article? It is known as a stècak. The word originates from an even older word stojećak, which can be translated literally as ‘standing thing’.  Stećci are monumental medieval tombstones, that lay scattered across the Balkan area. ... Read More »