Week 7 2016

A little Phil Hartman to get you in the mood

Following Niels ‘t Hooft’s example, I thought I’d start reviewing my week in public. I already review my week in private, but those thoughts aren’t fit to print, so to say.


Here’s my past week in a list of online articles:

  • Gravitational waves were all over the news. One of the first to attempt to detect them was Joseph Weber. I remember Weber being discussed in a philosophy of science book I had to read in college. The book made him look like a kind of janitor cum science enthusiast. He wasn’t. 
  • Loved this open letter by Apple CEO Tim Cook, in which he explains in very plain words why Apple is opposed to helping the FBI crack an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernadino terrorists. I was sceptical of Apple’s stated commitment to privacy in 2014, when they first made it into a talking (and selling) point, and they took a swipe at Google at the same time. But they’re really taking a stand here.
  • Quartz has been busy keeping us here in the West in the know regarding South East Asia. This week, they reported on a movie called Ten Years, which offers a frightening look at Hong Kong in 2025.
    The movie is a collection of vignettes that imagine a dystopian Hong Kong 10 years in the future, as Beijing’s growing influence over the city entails mandatory Mandarin language for residents, fake, fatal, terrorism incidents to scare the citizens, and a ban of the word “local.”
    (Heather Timmons, Hong Kong’s popular, lucrative horror movie about Beijing has disappeared from theaters)

    Theatres have stopped showing the movie for ‘economic reasons’. Yet, at the same time, tickets for private viewings have been in high demand. Which makes people suspect the Chinese government is pressuring theatre owners. Hong Kong, as you may know, is now under Chinese control. Theoretically, the city state should be allowed to have its own way of life and capitalist system for at least another 21 years under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. But things like this movie affaire and the case of the missing bookstore owners suggest a different reality. With Hong Kong vs. China, Turkey vs. the Kurds, Russia vs. TurkeyRussia vs. Sweden, and Europeans vs. refugees, this are bleak times.

  • Quartz has also been in the news itself, because of its interesting new take on a news app. The app gives you the latest news via chat interface. The future of news? … Maybe, in a few iterations, after the gimmickness of the chat interface wears off. The ‘more/next’ interface is brilliant (sort of like a Twine for news!), but the app doesn’t really need the iMessage style blue bubbles.
  • Scientist discovers a boiling river. Surely, the end times are nigh.

Book Clubs

This week I finished Being Wrong, by Kathryn Schulz, just in time for the pre-Meetup prep yesterday evening with my co-organizer Naomi.  You should read ‘Being Wrong’. In this age of predigested lessons and listicles full of pop culture references, it’s refreshing to read a writer who never takes the easy route yet is completely comprehensible. Turns out, I can still have a complex thought and enjoy myself! ‘Being Wrong’ also completely changed the way I think about my own convictions. That’s never a bad thing.

Also: the other, more informal book club I’m part of finally settled on Lauren Groff’s Fates & Furies. “So you’ll read thís divorce epic, but not any of the Franzen books I recommend?”, my wife sulked. Not my fault, dear. It happened to be another book club member’s time to pick a book.


I wrote a post for my new blog Kacang Pedis. On Kacang Pedis, I use a simple question – “Why is the Dutch word for peanut ‘pinda’, a word of West African origin?” – as an excuse to write about the Columbian Exchange and all the ways it has changed and influenced our lives.

Next week, I’ll write a post for Kacang Pedis about my visit to the Tropenmuseum (Museum of the Tropics), in Amsterdam. And I’ll continue working on my Dutch-language scifi story, which has suffered a bit from my sudden renewed interest in the Columbian Exchange.

Cooking: Valentine edition

I made cookies for Valentine’s Day. The recipe came from an old recipe book my mother kept from when she was in Huishoudschool (that’s right: housework school, where Dutch girls learned how to be a housewife).  It might be the simplest recipe ever:

  • Mix 1 part butter, 3/4 part sugar,  1 1/2 parts flour, and 2 pinches of salt into a non-sticky ball
  • Leave in the fridge, covered, for half an hour
  • Roll the chilled dough into a sausage and then slice the sausage into small cookie shaped nuggets
  • Bake in a preheated oven (150 degrees Celsius) till golden brown (about 20 minutes)

Like chocolate? Mix in some cocoa powder. I mixed some shredded, sugared ginger in one part of the dough, and made two-tone heart shaped cookies.

I want collect more simple snack recipes. I tend to spend a lot of time on cooking healthy meals, and then buy the 3 same snacks over and over again (chocolate, potato chips,  olives). I want more vegetable-based snacks and home-made cookies in my life. Pickling peppers this afternoon, as a matter of fact.

A photo posted by @noobpw on