Attack on press freedom

Yesterday evening at 7.30 pm a very famous Dutch investigative and crime journalist was shot in the center of Amterdam after leaving a TV studio where he’d been a guest on a talkshow he regularly appears on. I’ve never really liked the man Peter R. de Vries but as a journalist he has been a pitbull in bringing attention to high profile cases and fighting for justice and getting results too, which has always been admirable. He even won an Emmy once about a programme he made on Natalee Holloway. He has apparently been hit in his head and is fighting for his life in hospital now. The working theory seems to be that it’s an organized crime hit and two men are already in custody (originally three but the third man has been released and has nothing to do with it all).

We’ve had a few more high profile in broad daylight assassinations in the past (like Pim Fortuyn, far right politician I hated but I was appalled at him being shot in 2002 and film maker Theo van Gogh in 2004) and I am very shocked that something like that can happen again in this country in broad daylight. It’s an attack on someone who is very outspoken and it’s also an attack on our press freedom which is normally rated highly (number 6 on a press freedom world index). I hope this attack gets punished severely as a deterrent. Mostly for now, I hope that De Vries will be alright in the end.

US election ‘meddling’ from a Dutch woman

I am Dutch, I have no say in the US elections and yet I am at the edge of my seat here following the US elections. I have always followed and been interested in the US elections but this time it’s different, it’s far more intense for me than it’s ever been before. Even when I was rooting for Obama with all my heart back in 2008 it wasn’t as intense as this year’s election feels to me now. I find myself sharing campaign videos on Twitter, like this one today by Will.I.Am and Jennifer Hudson.

I ask myself, why do I care so very much who wins this election? In 2016 I wasn’t able to believe that Trump could win and yet he did. Now in 2020 I have such fear that he will pull it off again and I find myself doing everything I can from across the pond to support and promote Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

I would have rooted for any democratic candidate, just to get Donald Trump out of office, because what that man is doing does not only create hate and division in his own country, he’s emboldening hate and division abroad as well. I can’t speak to how it is in other countries but I certainly see the effects here in The Netherlands.

He spouses crap like Covid 19 not being so bad and a few days later we have people here in The Netherlands protesting and saying the same thing. He calls all media fake news and we now have people here in our streets heckling our press as well. Just the other week our main TV news broadcaster NOS issued a statement they’d be taking their logos off their news trucks because they were constantly being attacked. When Trump denies climate change, we have people here repeating that crap as well. Even QAnon is gaining a following a here, suddenly we’re hearing about pedophile rings conspiracy theories and such crap, something completely not known here before. This is the crap he’s pulling that influences ‘regular people’ over here but he also influences our country in other ways. He’s pulled out of important agreements, such as the Paris Climate Accord or the WHO (in the middle of a pandemic!), he’s emboldening crooked people like Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel at the cost of Palestinian human rights (what happens in Israel also affects me as I once lived there) and relations between the US and Europe are at a historic low.

So, this election is not only about the USA, it’s about getting such an ill-informed hater out of a position of power and back into the ranks of crazies where he belongs. I’m not one to tell other countries how to vote. I will always oppose populist racist bullies in power but it is not up to me to say who is to vote what in which country. I will, however, oppose things that effect us here in The Netherlands as well like Brexit and like Donald Trump. This US election has become more personal to me than ever before and in that sense I feel it almost as an obligation to speak out and yes, meddle through sharing my view. I have a tiny platform here that is also read internationally and so I am using that as the only way I can to voice my support for Biden and Harris.

It’s about policy but also about character. I can never understand how someone so under-qualified and nasty can become the leader of a such a big and important nation.

There is so much more at stake here than just internal US policy. For the sake of the world and for the sake of sanity, I hope with all my heart that US election results on November 4th will very clearly and unmistakably be in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Strange days indeed

Yesterday during a press conference given by our prime minister the announcement came that primary schools will re-open with some restrictions after the May holiday we have here (May 11th) and that young kids are allowed to gather together again for sports training activities under supervision (and with no parents watching from sidelines). All other measures we have in place with our lockdown will be extended until May 20th (four weeks from now) and all large gatherings, events, festivals have been cancelled till September 1st. Our PM said that should more restrictions be lifted in four weeks time then that will only be possible with some very strict measures in place that need to be stringently observed. We need to prepare for a “1.5 meter economy”. How all this will effect the university I work at is anyone’s guess. We’re physically closed till June 1st, I’m already thinking that will probably be extended until after the summer…

In the meantime all we can do is make the best of the world as is and, for now, enjoy the ducklings and lambs and little daises on the side of the road as we take our walks-with-a-distance (pictures taken two days ago)…


Personally, I also enjoy the view of Mr Esther and my cat waiting for me in our front garden as I walk to the recycling bins and back…


Six weeks of lockdown now for us and while many things are starting to feel normal it also still remains weird to be so restricted in where you go and what you do outside the house.  At least another four weeks of these restrictions to go and probably even longer after that…  It makes me think of this John Lennon song:

I specifically think of the chorus: “Nobody told me there’d be days like these | Strange days indeed | Most peculiar, mama…”
(Side note: Wow! At 1 minute 21 that’s Fred Astaire on Yoko Ono’s arm in this video!)

I really liked one thing our PM Mark Rutte said yesterday: “The freedom of one person cannot be at the expense of the health of another”. I think he’s right, so the message continues to be: #StayAtHome.

Cool! ‘We’ win!

The Netherlands has won the Eurovision Song Contest for the fiirst time in 44 years!

The song was a bookmaker favourite to win but of course you never know whether you can trust that. We always watch the Eurovision Song Contest every year (kinda, while multi-tasking on laptops and ipads and phones). Winning, even if there are so very many iffy songs, still is a huge deal. This has been one of the better Dutch entries of the past years..

… and even though I haven’t been following all of this hullaballoo closely at all, I’ve got to admit to being stoked about a Dutch win!

Duncan Eurovision

Congratulations, Duncan Laurence!

The real Slim Shady!

Yesterday evening, Mr Esther junior and I went to see Eminem perform live in Nijmegen in the east of the Netherlands. My son has been an Eminem fan for about 3 years now and this concert was the gift he got from us for his 17th birthday. He is the only one of his friends who really loves Eminem, so, as they are no fans, I said I’d love to go with him. I’m not a rap or hip hop fan at all but through Es jr’s influence I have started to really like some of Eminem’s songs and found myself excited to be going to this concert as well! Of course, my excitement was no match for Es jr’s excitement.

We got there quite early, in the afternoon. I got Es jr a commemorative concert t-shirt which he absolutely loves…

We walked around, got drinks and something to eat and then secured ourselves a nice little spot. Es jr didn’t want to go up too far in the front, he doesn’t like the pushy crowdy element when close to the stage. It was quite hot, so while waiting and chatting we shielded ourselves from the sun for a bit.


The evening started with two rap acts to warm up the crowd. Finally, at around 9.20 pm, Eminem started his concert and Es jr was in seventh heaven. This was pretty much our view – good view on the screens and we could see Eminem (encircled in this picture) jumping around and rapping on stage.


He had an MC/side-kick to help whip up the crowd and sing along with him and it was a great concert! He sounds great live, just like on his recorded music and really gave his all to make the concert a good one. Eminem hasn’t been to the Netherlands in 15 years, so him singing ‘Without me’ where he sings “Guess who’s back? Back again? Shady’s back, tell a friend!” seemed extra topical.

For those who don’t know, Eminem is also nicknamed ‘Slim Shady’…

He sang a lot of great songs, some of his greatest hits…20180712_213524_resized… and Es jr could rap along with pretty much all of them! He was also not shy to stick up his middlefinger together with thousands of others when asked to do so by Eminem.

Eminem has this one song where he does a really quick rap in the song “Rap God”. In fact, I understand that that song is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the hit single which contains the most words.

There was a beautiful section where Eminem sang some duets with Skylar Grey, songs that have been recent hits from his latest album. Skylar Grey really has a great voice! He also did this song with her from 2000 called “Stan” about a stalker fan…

As the sun set, it all looked even more beautiful.20180712_223703_resized

The last song ‘Lose yourself’ (one of my fave Eminem songs) was beautifully lit and beautifully performed, a perfect end to the concert.

It ended with a few fireworks…20180712_225316_resized… and it really was over all too soon. In fact, that may be my only gripe: the concert lasted barely 90 minutes. I’m used to concerts being a little longer than that, would’ve been cool to have a little more. No matter, though, we were very grateful for all that we had seen and heard and Es jr really was very happy! “I can’t believe Eminem is here, so close to us in the flesh!” he beamed at me during the concert. And: “Best birthday gift ever!” he exclaimed afterwards. This concert certainly is a memory to treasure, for Eminem and for sharing that with my son. 🙂