Laura Dekker – why Holland has no modern heroes

Laura Dekker the 16-year-old Dutch girl, is about to complete her circumnavigation of the world in her twin masted sailboat ‘Guppy’.  This young girl is remarkable.  At the age of 6 she was sailing a small boat across lakes, at 13 she sailed from The Netherlands to England, and back.  She is the youngest person to ever have completed this trip.

So why my comment in the headline?  When it became public knowledge that Laura, then aged 13 was planning this trip, in jumps Dutch authorities – Netherlands Youth Institute.  Without meeting her and without talking to her they made a court application to have her removed from her father and locked up in a secure facility to prevent her from leaving.  When this failed, they went back to court four more times.  Fortunately the judiciary had more intelligence than the Youth Institute.  So eventually, she is free to go and heads off on her adventure.  It would be reasonable at this point to expect that the authorities expended their energies on how to support this remarkable young girl, but no, earlier this month truancy officers issued her father with a summons claiming that the schoolgirl had been failing to complete her homework on time.  She doesn’t always have access to the internet and her time is usually preoccupied with storms, sleeping and the safety of herself and Guppy.  Frankly I find it amazing that the authorities here have not reached the conclusion that any 14-year-old that can learn all the skills needed to sail a boat single-handedly around the world, would probably not benefit from a standard Dutch education.

So having done something of this magnitude, you would expect that Laura is about to return to a heroes welcome in Holland.  Sadly not. Instead Laura chose the Dutch Caribbean island of St Maarten as the arrival point because she feared the presence of social services if she returned directly to her native Netherlands

The opportunity that Laura presents for this country as a symbol of determination, skill, intelligence, spirit and individual courage is clearly not as important as this years version of “Voice of Holland” where the country goes into a frenzy to vote and applaud someone who will slide into utter obscurity within 6 months.  It cannot come as any surprise that Laura says that although she loves the Netherlands, she is unlikely to return because she finds it too stifling – now there is a surprise!

I do have to point out that Laura was actually born on a boat in Whangarei Harbour, New Zealand 🙂

You can read the full news article on the BBC website.  You can also read her story on her own website here.


Lets distract the ‘little people’

I find it interesting that when a country like The Netherlands begins to face real challenges such as the current economic outlook which require bold, intellectual responses the fine voted leaders resort to a campaign best described as distracting ‘the little people’.  It seems to be a tactic that is almost built into any politicians DNA, avoid talking about something that either a) “I might be held accountable for”,  or b) “I might confirm that I am an idiot because I don’t know” or c) “If they think about it in too much detail I might get voted out because somehow I am associated with this mess”.

So what have they come up with over the last couple of weeks.  Well the first one that has been causing considerable debate has been the horror expressed by politicians that anyone would want to have two passports.  Yes, TWO passports.  It would seem that if you have a Dutch passport then you have a divine responsibility to reject all others.  However, because this wasn’t a widely held belief amongst those with multiple passports, they made a law stating that you can only have one.  Exactly how having 2 passports is detrimental to your Dutch state of mind is not clear, however it is clear that for a number of Dutch politicians this is a considerable issue and it must be STOPPED.  What the morons haven’t thought through is that if you don’t tell them they will never know.  I have always found it interesting that people can attach so much of an emotional investment in a piece of paper.

The second one has been another debate in parliament about University courses being taught in English. Apparently English is becoming popular because “it is chic and because of globalisation”.  Halbe Ziljstra, the junior education minister added that  ‘if the subject requires teaching in English, it is logical to do so.’ However, if English is not necessary it is not beneficial to ‘pour an English sauce’ over a lesson, he said. Clearly this man has a bright future!

A lot of this idiocy is in reaction to Geert Wilders and his ‘anti-anything’ stance, however as I remind my daughters who are at school in this country and both think that Wilders is a fucking idiot,  he is in parliament because people voted for him.  That is what bothers a lot of people here, the fact that there is enough morons in Holland who actually think this is a good thing and confirms my original observation, when the going gets tough “wind up the little people”.

Girl “you are sitting on your best asset”

I can’t help but think about this phrase as I have been reading about poor Talitha.  For those of you who haven’t heard about Talitha, it makes for interesting reading here in The Netherlands.  In the press Talitha is best described as a ‘glamour model’, however with a display of spectacular stupidity she found herself to be in Tripoli as it was overtaken by the rebels.  Talitha became convinced that she was going to be burnt alive, so she launched herself off of her hotel balcony, breaking her arm and injuring her back.

This of course begs the question “Why were you there”?  Well Talitha was making use of her best asset and for the avoidance of doubt, that is not the space between her ears!  You see Talitha was a very good “friend” with Gaddifi’s fifth son, having been his former girlfriend until she made the personally shocking discovery that she “was not the only woman in his life”. Of course the direct benefit of this friendship were jet setting holidays in the Caribbean, dinners in Monaco and weekends in Paris and London.  Along the way Talitha was “showered with gifts”.  This of course begs the question, “what exactly is it about Talitha that prompts such a generous response from Libyan playboys.  Well it could be of course her considerable intellect which becomes apparent with revelations such as;

“Of course I knew that it was not right to spend so much money like that,”   she said. “I asked him many times about the welfare of the Libyan people, and he said the schools and hospitals were free, that rice and flour were cheap. It was hard for me to judge life in Libya for ordinary people –   I was always staying in a gilded cage when I visited. They looked happy enough.”

Call me a cynic, but  suspect that it might be more closely related to what Talitha looks like stark naked and on all fours, but that is just me guessing.  Anyway getting back to the central question, what would motivate someone with considerable talent to travel to Tripoli just as the city was about to be over-run?  It would seem that Talitha was being driven by true altruism;

 ‘Assured by Mutassim that the regime was prevailing in its battle for survival, she was also hoping that he would help pay for treatment for her father, who has Alzheimer’s’.

Wonderful stuff, particularly living in a country where medical care is accessible to all.

Researching this a little further I found Talitha’s blogspot page which in itself is quite interesting.  There is only the one entry dated August 16, but I was encouraged to learn that if I wanted a holiday in Ibiza I should contact Talitha and if I want to do business with her I should contact her via her linkedin account.

Life is always interesting 🙂

“Animal Friendly Meat”

Here is the content of the email that I was compelled to write to a sandwich manufacture here in Holland.

Last week as I transited through Schiphol I purchased on of your sandwiches and I am compelled to inquire about the reasoning for adding a sticker stating “Animal Friendly Meat”.  I have assumed that someone has suggested that this is a great idea because you have actually done it, however if English is not your first language, you may want to reconsider this.  Essentially you have used an oxymoron which is a rhetorical device in which two contradictory words are used together.
The implication of the term “Animal Friendly Meat” is that the farmer made friends with the animal before butchering it for your sandwiches which is implies a significant level of insincerity on behalf of the farmer.  It also leads the purchaser of the sandwich to consider to what degree the friendship developed prior to your order for fresh meat being recieved.

It is also worth sharing with you that when I asked the shop attendant at the counter the degree of friendliness involved she said “Oh god, you wouldn’t believe the amount of comments we get”. 

I am sure that this was a well thought through marketing based decision, but it is one that you may want to re-consider because it doesn’t exactly add ‘brand value’.


Paul Draskovich

So you are going to marry a Dutch girl?

Congratulations, she probably has blond hair and speaks her mind which you think is refreshing.  Well just one more thing before you go off and book the church.  This week it was reported in the newspaper that 4 out 10 domestic violence cases were against men. 

As a colleague remarked, the other 6 men are marrying women from other cultures 🙂