Category Archives: Rants

How ‘Seoul’ becomes ‘Seoel’ in Dutch

About a year ago I read an article about Seoul in a magazine. I already forgot what the article was about, but I can still vividly remember my annoyance when I noticed that the author spelled Seoul as ‘Seoel’. As first I thought this was just an error on the author’s part which had somehow escaped the editor’s attention. When I decided to Google it however, I realized that Seoel has in fact become a valid spelling in Dutch. Apparently Seoul is also still valid as well, but it seems that most Dutch language sites, including the Dutch version of Wikipedia and the KLM website, use Seoel as its spelling. I find this to be rather baffling, because I believe that this change in spelling is actually the result of the erroneous pronunciation of Seoul in Dutch instead of there being a well thought out reason behind it. Let me try to explain.

The official English spelling of Seoul is based on the Revised Romanization of Korean (RR), and it is broken up into these two parts: Seo(서) and Ul(울). The way you pronounce Seo is like the first part of sock (or sok in Dutch), so eo is pronounced as a short o, which may be a bit counter-intuitive at first. The way you pronounce Ul is like ool as in pool (or oel as in poel in Dutch). So Seoul would sound somewhat alike to soul (hence the ‘Korea’s got Seoul’ pun you might have come across), albeit with a short o instead of a long o. Continue reading

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Beliefs

I used to believe that love was the greatest thing in the world.
I used to believe that I must therefore keep fighting against myself.
I used to believe in happy endings.

I wonder what happened to that guy. Somehow, somewhere along the way I lost him. I think he is still in me somewhere, buried deep inside, because sometimes when I strain myself I think I can hear him whispering at me. Whispering at me to keep fighting, to never give up. But it is a faint whisper, barely audible at all. Sometimes I try to remember what he said to me and I repeat those words to myself in my mind, trying to convince myself again in their meaning. But there is no real conviction. It is a lie, a façade, but I cannot fool myself. I can pretend however I want, but I do not believe in their meaning anymore.

But what do I believe then? Well, I would answer, I believe I am incapable of love. There, I have finally said it. It is out in the open at last. There can be no more denying it, no more obscuring the truth, no more pretending that everything is fine and dandy. I might have hinted at this before, I cannot truly recall, but this is the first time I have said this outright without sugarcoating it. This is what I truly believe. I believe the ability to love someone and to make someone feel loved and special, the capacity to show affection like a normal human being completely eludes me. Oh yes, I have made several attempts before, but asking me to do these things is like asking someone of my athleticism to throw down a 360 tomahawk dunk. The results would be exactly the same. Any attempts in both cases would be feeble and pitiful, destined for complete failure at the very outset. In such cases, perhaps it is better not to even try at all. Continue reading

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Geert Wilders is not responsible for what happened in Oslo

Anders Breivik, the person responsible for the tragedies in Oslo and Utoya has proclaimed himself to be inspired by Geert Wilders and the PVV. And right on cue a lot of people from the left-wing have embraced this opportunity to attack and condemn Wilders. They hold him responsible for the deeds of Breivik. You could almost feel the collective sigh of relief they are breathing that for once the terrorist is not coming from the Islamic corner. They finally feel justified and vindicated in their opinions. See? You could almost hear them say in a smug and triumphant tone. See the hatred that Wilders breeds with his rhetoric and ideology? We were right all along! But this is nonsense, pure and simple. It is primitive and sickening. Geert Wilders is not responsible for Anders Breivik’s deeds. Anders Breivik is responsible for Anders Breivik’s deeds.

Look, I’m a left-winger myself, even though I don’t really care that much about politics. I vote for Groenlinks or the SP. I believe in multi-culturalism because I believe the world as a whole is a better, richer and more tolerant place precisely because of it. I believe the world would become an even more dangerous place if every one of us just isolates ourselves from other people and cultures. So when I say that Wilders is not responsible, I am not in any way attempting to justify his views.

The events of the past few days should have been an eye-opener for the whole world. Extremism has no place in this world, whether it comes from the left or the right, from the top or bottom down and from any other way we may view it. The intentions and consequences in any case are just as horrific and reprehensible. What should have brought us closer together has instead drifted us further apart. The left wing blames the right wing for what happened, and the right wing sees this as proof that the left wing only acts out of self-interest and self-preservation. And of course, they won’t hesitate to remind the rest of us that Breivik was also an admirer of Al-Qaeda’s methods…

So go ahead and criticize and protest against Wilder’s viewpoints if you want. It is our duty as democratic citizens to stand up for our own beliefs after all. But please, do not demonize or stigmatize the man. What we should have learnt by now is that stigmatization merely breeds more stigmatization with more hatred and anger being the inevitable result. We who are so ready to criticize Wilders because of his tendency for labeling entire cultural and religious groups with a single tag should not fall into the same trap, but should instead keep striving for open discussion with mutual respect, and not the mud-slinging we have become so used to in the previous years.

For further reading (in Dutch), here are some articles which in my opinion were better able to convey what I want to say that I were able to myself:
http://www.geencommentaar.nl/2011/07/25/woorden-doen-ertoe/
http://www.borisvanderham.nl/weblog/moorden_in_noorwegen_en_de_inspiratiebron

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Dreams

Have I ever mentioned to you about this lady I know? No? Well, let me tell you about her then. She is… she is… amazing. Her smile is so radiant that it can melt a man’s heart, even one that is as icy as mine, her laugh so full of life that it can make a man’s spirit bloom like a wild flower in spring, even one that is as barren as mine, and her eyes so captivating that it can drown a man’s soul…

So as her eyes gaze into mine I can feel my soul slowly drown in them, and as her laugh resonates through my ears I can feel my spirit bloom, and as she smiles at me with that smile of hers… damn… you know, the one that can melt a man’s heart. Except her smile is now very slight and subtle, so subtle that it is almost imperceptible to the naked eye, a smile which is meant only for me and me alone, a smile which I do not have to share with the rest of the world. Damn… can you even start to imagine what a smile like that can do to a man’s heart, especially one that is as frozen as mine? Huh, of course you can’t. Me neither. All this is nothing more than a dream, a fantasy as unreal as elves and dragons and goblins and whatever the hell you can come up with. And dreams which forever remain unfulfilled will always haunt you.

So that is why I need to stop thinking about her. No, I don’t expect you to understand it. Hell, I don’t even understand it myself. I just know this is something I need to do. Doesn’t make sense, does it? But nothing about our feelings ever makes sense anyway…

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2010 – The Year that was… in emotions

A word of caution beforehand. The post below is very personal, and in fact it may sound very sentimental and cliché. But still, this is the way I feel, and sometimes I need to write crap like this to make myself feel better. Oh well, go ahead if you still want to read it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I always get into a reflective mood at the end of the year and this year is no exception. 2010 was… well, an interesting year emotionally.

It was a year of self-denial and of self-awareness.
It was a year of expectations and of acceptance.
It was a year of inner turmoil and of inner peace.
It was a year of hope lost and of hope regained.
It was a year of loneliness and of… wait a minute… of… umm… I’ll get back to you if I ever start feeling whatever the hell the opposite of feeling lonely is.

In short, 2010 was a year of conflicting emotions, with the negative and the positive alternating each other in rapid succession.

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