Maarten

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Everything posted by Maarten

  1. Coffee

    I think with that ensemble you can skip the rest of your meals, too.
  2. Coffee

    Apparently the greatness of coffee has not yet penetrated into the more remote regions of the U.S. Some of us True Believers should bring the light of Coffee to the heathens!
  3. Another Attack on Free Speech

    Does anyone know of a way to show your support to ExxonMobil? I would hate to see them crumble, and while I am not sure what influence individual letters that tell them what a good job they are doing will have it just might make a difference. In the other topic about the bill that just got through the House (if I understood the last post correctly) the letters ewv posted mentioned calling your representatives. Is there a similar tactic one could use with a company like this? One option would of course be to send letters to the editor in your local newspaper, but I am specifically looking at ways you could let Exxon itself know what you think of the situation.
  4. Dutch Parliamentary Elections (2006)

    Oh, I see I forgot to mention that our parliament has a total of 150 seats. This means that even the largest party only controls a little over 25% of the house. Which means that at least 3 parties are needed to form a coalition with 76 or more seats. There are a few possibilities, but all are rather difficult to achieve, and spell little good for our future... The Christian Democrats (CDA) could form a coalition with the social democrats (PvdA) and ChristenUnie (another christian party), which would make them a left of the center coalition. Another option is CDA, PvdA and VVD, would have a large majority but it is highly unlikely that this would be an effective coalition, given the very big differences of opinion on many subjects between VVD and PvdA, especially. A third option would be that the Socialist Party, PvdA and CDA form a coalition. The problem here is similar. Especially on foreign policy and the army the socialists have a very different point of view than the other parties, which will make a stable cabinet highly unlikely. One problem is that the PvdA leader said that he did not want to form a government without the socialist party, because they are afraid that they will lose even more voters if the SP goes into the opposition the next four years. Putting the interests of the country first, indeed
  5. Our government collapsed earlier this year when one of the parties in the coalition wanted the Integration minister (Verdonk) to resign after what happened to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They didn't get the required majority in parliament for that to happen, and afterwards they stepped out of the coalition which made the government a minority government. Because they could no longer effectively act after that, they decided to write out new elections later this year. The new elections were this wednesday, and the results are rather interesting. Election Results These results are in dutch, but it's mostly a table, so I think most of you can figure it out If you have questions about it, let me know. The Christian Democrats (CDA) went from 44 seats to 41, which makes them the biggest party even though they lost some seats. This means that they will be the party that is allowed to start the negotiations for a new coalition. The worker's party (PvdA) (leftist bunch of socialists) went from 42 to 32 seats. The liberals (VVD) (these are more on the right of our political spectrum) went from 28 to 22 seats. The socialist party (SP) (these guys are more consistently leftist than the PvdA, used to be the communist party I think) went from 9 to 26 (!!!) seats, which makes them the 3rd party in size. The PVV (a right-side party that split from the VVD earlier) went from 0 seats to 9 seats. They are led by Geert Wilders, who made quite the commotion about muslims in this country. The green party (GroenLinks) are basically environmentalists, they lose 1 seat and went from 8 to 7. There are various smaller parties with a few seats, but they're not very relevant. You have some small reformed christian parties, for example. But I saved the best for last! We have the (rather dubious) honor of being the first country to have explicit animal rights activists in our parliament. The Party for the animals went from 0 seats to 2 seats. Apparently animals have been oppressed for too long, and now they demand equal rights! Given the results of the election it will be a very interesting time, because most coalitions are very difficult to form. The Christian Democrats (who are in the government right now, our prime minister Balkenende is their leader) get the first shot at forming a coalition but there is a significant chance that this will not work out, so we might end up (after weeks of negotiations) with a fully leftist government. Oh, for the record, I voted for the VVD, and specifically for our current minister of defense. My main reason was more to vote against the various leftist parties here, rather than actually supporting this party (because they are, well, not very good, either), but I chose this person because he is actually willing to do something against terrorism in other countries, and he was responsible for sending our army to Afghanistan. Of course, the stated reasons are a little confused, but I do want to show my support for our foreign missions and I thought this was a good way to do so. We'll see how that one works out. Anyway, I will keep you all updated on how the coalition formation comes along, it would be very bad if the Green party, worker's part and socialist party form a government.
  6. Dutch Parliamentary Elections (2006)

    Well, I think that they reason that it will help them fit into our society better if they cannot wear those head-coverings. I doubt it will suddenly make them accept all western values, though. I'm not sure about how the law is progressing. I'll see if I can find some more information in the coming week; I have a feeling they will try to push it through before the new government is formed (which may take until christmas or something).
  7. Dutch Parliamentary Elections (2006)

    Well, there might be some other people in favor of animal rights in various political positions, but this party was basically elected solely on the basis of their stance on animal rights. As far as I know, that was the only issue they gave any attention to in their campaign, and people voted for them. I have trouble finding words for what that feels like; it is such a sad thing that people in this country actually vote for someone like that...
  8. This song brought a tear to my eye as well. It is wonderful to hear something like this once in a while amidst all the anti-war whining going on all over the world...
  9. Early Election Results

    Could anyone perhaps give a short summary of what the position of Speaker of the House actually entails? From what I can gather it comes with quite a lot of power but I don't really know what the Speaker actually does, so it's a little difficult to follow what everyone is talking about right now (here and elsewhere). If you know of a good link that explains it that would also be good
  10. Matt Stein, Esquire

    Congrats, Matt. I hope you will enjoy many years of practicing law
  11. I think the full-length one was posted to several internet video sites a while ago (2 months or so). I'll see if I can find the topic again when I have a little time to spare.
  12. GRE success

    I am going to be applying for grad school in the U.S. for the fall of 2007, and for that I had to take this test. I just got back home from the testing facility and I am happy to say that it went very well I only have the results of the verbal and quantitative part right now, because the essay has to be graded, but I am sure that one went well. My score for the quantitative part was a 780 (out of 800), and my verbal score was a 620 (also out of 800). Most universities have a minimum requirement of 450 for each part and 1000 score combined, so it's safe to say I am above that This should help tremendously in my chances of being admitted somewhere, so I'm quite happy right now I'll update this when I hear my essay results; the Analysis of Issue was about a statement saying that students should be critical of what they learn instead of passively accepting it, which wasn't too hard to agree with The Analysis of Argument was related to a flawed piece about a college, and you had to say what the logical flaws were in the proof given for the conclusion. Hehe, I am quite sure my frequent posting on Objectivism-related forums have contributed to being able to write the essays this easily, so thank you all for being here
  13. GRE success

    I got my essay results back, I got a 5.0 (out of 6 possible points) on that one, and apparently 71% of the test takers had less score here than me. The percentiles for verbal and quantitative were similar, both around 89% below me (with 620 for verbal and 780 for quantitative). All in all I am quite happy
  14. Male-Female sexual roles

    I've been mulling over this topic in my mind for most of the day while I was at work, and here's what I came up with. I think penetration has greater significance than the alternative view of something being enveloped, or swallowed up, because when you penetrate something it is seen as a breach of the whole object (or person in this case), even though you only penetrate one single part of it; part and whole are interchangable without affecting the essentials of the situation. When you envelop a penis you cannot really say that you are enveloping the whole person, because the person and the bodypart in question are not interchangable in this context, while in the other case when you penetrate the vagina you are also penetrating the female's body; both mean the same thing. Solely focusing on what penetration/envelopment means in this case I think there is a difference between the two interpretations of the act, but I am not sure if what I just said is enough to justify the female being naturally passive.
  15. Happy Birthday to Betsy Speicher

    Happy birthday, Betsy
  16. How bad is soft drink?

    There was also a related discussion in the thread on Personal Hygiene. But, yeah, the most important thing is probably to keep your body balanced as much as possible with regard to intake of food and drinks. There might be trouble if the net intake of acidic compounds, for example, is very large, but if you are drinking a lot of soda and compensate for that with other foods that are alkaline I don't think there will be many problems.
  17. How bad is soft drink?

    Something else you can do is to make sure your body replenishes the lost Calcium, or just eat something with high pH to compensate.
  18. How bad is soft drink?

    Everyone who LIVED in the Civil War is now dead... This must mean that living kills you We're all going to die!
  19. How bad is soft drink?

    It's kinda suspicious how almost everything enjoyable is bad for you, these days. It almost looks like they're crusading against anything that could make a person happy; I suppose so we can all be nice, unhappy drones in our great Socialist State
  20. Hip-Hop

    Could that be because both types of music have a completely different sense of life? And when you are listening to one of them for a while you become more used to that sense of life as being the right one, and therefore an opposite sense of life would repel you? That still doesn't explain why you are attracted to both types of music, though... Perhaps they emphasis different parts of life that you love, yet the way it is done turns both of these areas into music that contradicts each other?
  21. Progressive Exercise

    I am guessing that exercising might be part of the job, and they have to do it anyway. Then it would make the most sense that he can just change to Ray That's just a guess, though. And Ray, congratulations on achieving this much!
  22. I am currently following a mandatory Ethics & Technology course which is part of my master's degree, and this subject has come up quite a lot over the past few weeks. In the discussions I generally defend the companies' side of things, with the rest of the class disagreeing with me. There are some things about this topic that I am not quite sure on how to resolve, and I would like to discuss it here to come to a greater understanding. My current position is this: I think a company doesn't have any obligation to investigate the potential risks attached to their products or inventions before they put it on the market, as long as they do not claim anything that is not true in the process. I do not think they have an obligation to reveal information about their product, either, and it should be up to the customer to decide if he is willing to accept the lack of information that could very well have impact on his life. As long as the company doesn't claim that the product they sell possesses attribute X, Y and Z when in fact it doesn't, I do not think they are at fault if anything goes wrong and the product does turn out to be hazardous. As far as I can tell this is most consistent with how a free market functions, because it leaves all these issues up to the judgment of the individual companies involved rather than to regulatory organs that test all the products before they are allowed to enter the markets. Of course it would be a good idea to have private companies that test products thoroughly and give them a seal of approval, for example, but I do not think this should ever be a mandatory part of business. A punishable offense would be something like saying that your product doesn't contain compound X, while it actually does, or saying that your product is safer than other products of the same type available, when it isn't. This would be a form of fraud, I think, and it would be punishable for those reasons. Now my question is the following: In my understanding the burden of proof is on the person making a positive claim, so in the case of someone who thinks that a certain product may be dangerous, it is up to them to prove this. I do not think you can (or should) expect a company to prove that their product is not dangerous, because that would be asking them to prove a negative. Is this correct, or am I missing something? I doubt I can actually convince many people in my class even if my position is in line with Objectivism, but it would be much more valuable for me personally to know that I am succesfully applying the principles involved to this situation.
  23. First appellate victory!

    Congrats, Matt
  24. Assessment and investigation of risks

    Yes, but generally the risks aren't confined to just the person who agreed to buy the product. Would it be good to say that when there is a certain amount of pollution involved in producing your products (mainly in the form of undesired byproducts that could negatively influence human life in some way) this should only be regulated by the courts, rather than be regulatory organs that look over everyone's shoulder to see if they are polluting or not? It is my understanding that the burden of proof in a proper economy lies on the person making the claim that he is being damaged, rather than on the person doing the (alleged) damaging to proof that they did not do it. So if I am suffering because of pollution I would have to prove that the pollution company X injects into the environment is actually harmful to me before any action will be taken. Is my understanding here correct? Actually, this is interesting... I wonder why most people would be horrified to hear that a person is considered guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around; yet, this is essentially what they are doing to businessmen everywhere. They assume that all businessmen and companies in general are guilty of polluting and they constantly have to prove they are not doing it. It's an enormous inversal of how this would work in a rational society, isn't it?