European Constitution

I have very mixed feelings about the European constitution, and the referendum coming up on June 1st. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like the idea of a democracy, for the very simple reason that I don’t want ill-informed people to determine, through a referendum, which direction this country is going to take, and in this specific case, which direction it will take within the European Union. Most people I’ve spoken to are badly informed, and know it, but some people – and I’m afraid these people represent a significant part, if not majority, of this society – are goign to vote against the constitution because they misplace the blame of the economic recession ( I know, I know, technically it’s not a recession ) on the introduction of the Euro, and equate the Euro with the European Union, since that’s the only way that most people are exposed to the Union in their day to day lives. What people here don’t realise is that Dutch exports have increased and become more profitable, and the most optimistic figures suggest as much as 80%, money all of which floods into our economy and improved the general wealth of this country. We don’t immediately see it, but the European Union benefits all of us, even if the Dutch put more money towards the Union per person than any other member-country.

So, I say; for shame that we’re not better informed. For shame that our political leaders didn’t do more to inform the public. For shame that the public didn’t do more to inform itself of this important decision. For shame that we misplace blame. For shame that we’re on the verge of voting against the constitution, en masse, simply because we don’t understand, nor care to understand what it stands for.

But, on the other hand, the constitution looks to be pretty shitbox, and incredibly open to differences in interpretation, definitely when the cultural differences of the different members are pretty significant. What will happen is that these differences of interpretation will have to be settled in the European courts, making this constitution as controversial and contested as the constitution of the United States of America. They can’t seem to agree on anything, neither. So perhaps it’s best that this constitution is shot down. Perhaps it’ll lead to a more carefully deliberated and a more conservative draft of the constitution, less likely to lead to conflict.

But of one thing I am very sure; the European Union is necessary in order to remain at our current level of welfare and to remain competitive on a global economic stage. But not only economically, but also interpersonally, we need a better cohesion, not so that we can be stronger globally, but also intra-continentally. The European Union was born in a post-WWII time, where everyone wanted some peace and quiet for the first time in over 30 years. It’s important that we get along with our neighbours, it’s important that we have a common cause.

And this is why I’m so conflicted, because I want to go forward, and I know it’s important that we do, but I also know that now is not the time yet.

The Gut is Unhappy

Traditionally, I’ve had a tremendously reliable stomach. I could eat anything, past its expiration date or not, with or without fungal growths, with or without a heartbeat and cognition, and I would still be fine. Where lesser men would tremble and fall to the ground, clutching their bellies, crying like children and occassionally bleeding from several orifices, I would walk tall, and unaffected.

My stomach lining was made of asbestos, but alas, not no more. Yesterday it started, and it lasted throughout the day, and well into the night. I went to sleep super-early because the occassional jets of pain were making very tired, but in the middle of the night, the pain woke me up. Well, it’s not really even pain, I guess. It’s just more of an occassional serious discomfort. I hope it fades soon.

Shalom, Ya’ll!

Kung Fu 4 Kids!
As some of you know, I sort of help out my Kung Fu teacher every once in a while when he’s busy or feeling like he wants to sit at the sideline and just observe everyone. Because of this, I not only am the senior student at our school, but I’m alsoseen as the senior student and “go to guy” for other students. It also has its drawbacks since I’ve now been roped for our Kung Fu 4 Kids program, which teaches Kung Fu to two groups, 5 to 9 year olds and 10 to 15 year olds. It requires a lot of patience – especially the 5 to 9 year olds. Especially this one particular kid; Lorenzo, my 5 year old archnemesis!

Now, usually it’s my teacher who leads the class, and Alwin, another student, and myself who help out and keep the kids in line. Basically what we do is train with them, so that they have someone to look to when they get stuck, and when they don’t know what’s going on anymore, which, sadly, happens quite a bit. It also means we answer questions from both the kids and the parents, do the warming up, do the stretching excercises, and keep the kids in line. Last Saturday my teacher had to perform Kung Fu at a festival, so Alwin and I were left to our own devices to teach the class. We pulled out our playbook and decided upon some activities and strategies. The ole “Good Cop, Bad Cop” routine was chosen, me being the designated Bad Cop. I was pretty hard on them, but not cruel, I feel. I’m a benevolent dictator. An enlightened despot, if you will.

I think I might have scared one of the mothers, though.

So Eva introduced me to the concept of Sudoku, the Japanese puzzle-games that are now so immensely popular in the U.K. It’s a really good waste of time during my morning commute, though I have to be careful not to let it interfere with the reading that I want to get done in that time as well. Basically, they’re a cross between logical matrices and crossword-puzzles. Like Eva commented, crossword-puzzles are usually for people with a good sense of language, while these are like crosswords, only you work with numbers. Alpha vs. beta, it seems. :)

In other news; my the ball of my left foot hurts when I put too much weight on it. Either I’m getting too fat for my feet to support my weight, or I hurt it during Kung Fu or something. Neither option seems unlikely to me.

World of Warcraft and Role Playing

I always thought online roleplaying games sucked as roleplaying games, and I still think so. With so many players interacting in the same environment at once, it only takes one jackass to ruin the roleplaying, so you’re constantly roleplaying on the level of the lowest common denominator. That’s why people quickly forego roleplaying when playing an online roleplaying game. I think “online adventuring game” is a better term for it, since that’s what you’re left with.

There are certain roleplaying elements that are enforced by the game, such as that you can’t access certain storylines because it wouldn’t be according to your race, class or profession. Or the reputation that you build through your actions in the game that has consequences in the way that NPCs will interact with you, or will interact with you at all. But those are all things that define the boundaries of your role and within that created scope you’ll have to do it yourself, but you can’t, because the game just doesn’t lend itself towards roleplaying.

An interesting observation by MooCow on this very subject.