And another blog.

Aren't you lucky.. Yes all none of you! My sleep pattern is completely fucked so you get two blogs, in fairly close succession to each other!

In Holland it's customary for comedians to do something called: Oudjaars conference. Or an 'old year's conference' where they look over the year that has gone by and comment on things that have happened. The one I watched was Guido Weijers', a comedian that I find absolutely hilarious. Not least because he has a squint and he plays on it (he makes it look far worse than it actually is half of the time)

All rights belong to Gelderlander newspaper, NL
but also because the material he uses is relevant and the guy is actually really intelligent.
There are very few comedians who manage to talk about things that are so prevalent and make them funny while getting a message across AS WELL AS chucking in quotes by the likes of Ghandi and Plato.
He has done a number of these conferences and every time I have been in absolute hysterics (in the American sense of the world) but also more aware of what has been going on. He manages to pick up on things that originally people might not have noticed and has a real way of playing with words and meanings (unfortunately, for those of you that don't speak Dutch, the show is lost on you. The jokes do NOT work in translation) to bring more thoughts to the forefront. For the past two years he has managed to relentlessly pick on the footballer Wesley Sneijder, even when apologising in the most recent one, particularly about his height.

But the thing that got me most this year is that he pointed out a journalistic fact. When the crash in Tripoli happened (almost everyone died except for 1 Dutch boy named Ruben) instead of mentioning the large amount of people that died, they had Ruben as front page news for weeks, especially the fact that 'De Telegraaf' put a photo of him, in his hospital bed, up on the front page. The problem being that Ruben was only 9yrs old, and thus there is an ethical dilemma associated with putting the photo of an under-age boy on a national newspaper's front page.

Photo used in Le Parisien
This particular photo is one used in French newspaper 'Le Parisien'. You can tell the boy is clearly in danger solely by the amount of machines he is hooked up to and the casts on his legs, you really can feel nothing but sympathy for this boy. Even worse is the fact that he lost his parents in the crash, and therefore only has his Aunt and Uncle to take care of him.

Now the (crude, but funny) joke Weijers made about this was that suddenly the Aunt and Uncle had become parents. People on the street asking: "Is that your kid" "he is now" "Was it planned?" "No it was an... accident"
which just shows you briefly the sort of play on words he uses.
But I think that the tradition that we have in Holland is quite important, a lot of people are very ignorant and don't really know what has happened in the last year, and this way people tune in for a laugh and actually learn a lot more than they expected. Even if, half of the time, they are learning all of this subconsciously.

(the text reads: Extremist: Brings serious harm to you and the society)

Another point that he made in his show is one that I think is a great one, that of who is allowed to vote. Democracy still isn't the best system, he says, but it's the least shitty one out of all of the ones that around. What he suggests in his conference is that all people should be allowed to vote, but before they do they have to answer 5 questions about current political affairs. And if they get them right, then they get the 6th question which is 'who do you want to vote for' which to me sounds like a great plan. People who are voting should, at the very least, know about what is going on in a country before they are allowed to vote some sort of idiot into the government *ahum* WILDERS *ahum*(In Holland there are a few criminals in parliament). Maybe then there wouldn't be as many stupid decisions made (hoorayyyy for the con-dems (or not..)) within the governments.

What I found most hilarious is that I didn't realise that the Dutch government had also had an enquire into the Iraq war, and the prime-minister picked who got to do that, and when he got the report on his desk he looked at and went: 'I can't find myself able to agree' - I guess is the best way of translating it, I will let you know if I find a better English equivalent ("Daar kan ik mij niet in vinden"). But the fact that, INSTEAD OF APOLOGISING he just disagreed with an enquiry that said he was wrong to have gone into the Iraq war is ridiculous. I guess he wasn't quite expecting the man who he appointed to look into it to come out with a conclusion which would not side with his point of view. Oh well, Balkenende, you remain a man who lacks common sense, and a distinct level of intelligence.

Moreover the main theme throughout the show was that of Money vs Happiness.
Which considering I've been talking to a friend of mine about money and needing to find a job to get some extra cash, and what we would do if we won the lottery (He's decided that if he ever strikes the lottery he will attempt to convert me into a dota playing gamer... - I don't think so... ^^) is something which I would like to discuss.
A statistic that I had thrown at me a while back (I watch too much Nat Geo/Discovery Channel) was that most of the people who win millions from the lottery are broke or homeless within the first two years. The one that Weijers used was that of the American scientists who had a look at both Lottery winners and those who had lost their mobility and were no in a wheelchair because of a car crash - one year after both of the events happened. What they found? They were equally happy.
Now, that's either some extremely happy handicapable people or some verrrrry unhappy 

 (ex-)millionaires (something tells me it's the latter). And I think it's almost sad that people manage to blow through SO much money in such short periods of time, but when you think about it, the people that become millionaires because of hard work have often not just worked hard but have managed to save. So these people are usually pretty stingy - that's the way they got their money - whereas those who have come into millions from the lottery have not had to do anything for it. Perhaps this creates a lesser sense of responsibility for the money? Perhaps they just haven't got the money skills to deal with such a large sum. Personally I think that people who stop working are the ones that will fail most quickly, as they don't have any more income and if you win a million, say the bank gives you only 1% interest, that's only 10,000 pounds p/a - that's not a lot of money. And not something you can live extravagantly on. Take into account all of the expenditure that these people will have (new house? new cars? debt paid off?) and before you know it you're million is gone and you're back to  square one.
What would you do if you won 1 million pounds?
I think I would probably put half in the bank and use the other half for buying a small flat, paying off family's debts, some stuff (nice interior, gadgets), learning how to drive, skydiving (oh yeah) and living a bit more royally... and continue working/studying (depending on when obviously this fictitious million comes into my life). I would probably also use it to be able to travel to places; some places are so expensive to get to, and that would make it so much easier - and it would make staying places nicer as you can afford a better hotel/appartment.

Another thing that obviously needs to be mentioned is the snow. I've been reading a French article (read it here) which says that Sarkozy had declared the chaos caused by the snow just isn't acceptable. To which I would like to say - well done, Monsieur Sarkozy, for stating the blatantly fucking obvious (excuse the swearing). Europe was hit even harder than England, and more often too. But still the things that were happening shouldn't have happened. Not here, not in France, not in Holland.
Holland was the most hilarious, throughout the year the NS (Nationale Spoorwegen / National Railways) has said that they have made changes to the trains, the tracks and to the routes to minimise any problems that could occur because of the snow. (Remember last year december (2009) as well as feb, yeah that was FANTASTIC, Holland's rail system crashed completely). When the snow hit in December 2010, well, it crashed completely. So their promises have epically failed, half of the trains didn't run and the country was in chaos once again. My god I am so glad I wasn't there at the time, it was bad enough here and I didn't have to experience it!