at home and abroad--getting the physics right: Doppler TShift

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Doppler diagram 



Yeehaw! Red object in recession

I am essentially an optimist--but sometimes one has to find a very large context indeed in which to justify one's optimism, for in the smaller context things can look very bleak.

In the relatively small context of American or even human history it is becoming increasingly difficult to find reasons for optimism. That was less true not so long ago when the world always had America to look forward to with hope and anticipation, and America itself had the great open west to expand into when things got a little dicy back east. 

That seems to have changed rather abruptly in the last few decades--due to an unfortunate concurrence of circumstances--een ongelukkige samenloop van onstandigheden--not the least of which was the stolen Presidency--when a mere five to four majority on the Supreme Court  assigned victory to the worst possible U. S. President we could have had at this most crucial time in world history--even though he had lost the popular vote and should have lost the electoral vote as well had it not been for that politically tainted Supreme Court decision. To be frank, it was a power grab by an unholy alliance of radical right wingers--and we have seen with what sad results.

In the past, there was never any doubt that humanity could and would recover from such a terrible mistake and that happy days would soon be here again--but, due to the omstandigheden we now face, severe doubt is thrown on that optimistic scenario.

The circumstances I am referring to include but are not limited to the globalization of the human community--making everyone completely interdependant in an extremely complex system of trade and technology, health and politics as well as the fact that we are running out of resources--more particularly out of carbon based energy sources, out of food, out of water and even out of clean air

We are also running out of space to live in (levensruimte or lebensraum)  due to overpopulation. In a word--we are experiencing a perfect storm of challenges which we are also running out of time to meet, considering the impending global climate desasters--especially since among the great majority of our uneducated, undereducated, or miseducated populace none of this is truly recognized for the danger it represents. Much of the last factor (miseducation) has to do with wrong-headed and parochial religious leaders and theologians who are blinding billions of people with the absurd and conflicting world views inherited from an ancient and bloody past--precisely the kind of worldview which put  Bush in office.

Think about it--to too many Christians the signs of the end of times are not a challenge to be dealt with but a promise and a prophesy to be welcomed and fulfilled. From Jonestown to Waco we have seen far too many wacko's gladly die for their absurd beliefs.

In a more general context there are those who believe in the socalled  Rapture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :

The Rapture is a prophesied event in Christian eschatology, in which Christians are instantly taken from the earth to be with Jesus. Christians who have died are to be united with their resurrected bodies to participate in this event.

The primary passage describing the Rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, in which Paul cites "the word of the Lord" about the return of Jesus to gather his saints. Although all Christian denominations believe in Christ's return, there are two primary views regarding its nature:

  1. Dispensationalist Premillenialists (such as many Evangelicals) hold the return of Christ to be in two stages. 1Thessalonians 4:15-17 is seen to be a preliminary event to the return described in Matthew 24:29-31. Although both describe a return of Jesus in the clouds with angelic activity, trumpets, heavenly signs, and a gathering of the saints, these are seen to be two separate events, the first unseen, and the second public. Dispensationalists are divided, however, on whether the first event comes before a period of Tribulation, or midway through it.
  2. Amillenialists (such as Roman Catholics, and others), Postmillenialists (such as Presbyterians, and others), and historic Premillenialists (such as Calvinistic Baptists, and others) hold that the return of Christ will be a single, public event. All passages regarding the return of Christ, such as Matthew 24:29-31, 1Thessalonians 4:15-17, Revelation 1:7, etc, describe the return of Jesus in the clouds amidst trumpets, angelic activity, heavenly signs, a resurrection, and a gathering of saints. Although some (such as Amillenialists) take this event to be figurative, rather than literal, these three groups maintain that passages regarding the return of Christ describe a single event, and that the "word of the Lord" cited by Paul in 1Thessalonians 4:15-17 is the Olivet Discourse which Matthew separately describes in Matthew 24:29-31.

The view that the 'second coming of Christ' is to be taken literally (i.e. materially) rather than figuratively represents a clear case of religious materialism.

A sad delusion: for one thing, not all such diverse apocalyptic religious views--even in what is supposed to be a single religion--can possibly be right at the same time--in any material sense, whereas at the spiritual or metaphorical and figurative level, many variant representations of the truth can indeed ring true--though some metaphores are obviously more functional than others.

The reverend and one-time presidential hopeful Huckabee did not even admit that all Baptist would go to heaven. He is undoubtedly right about that. But when Lincoln was once asked by a political opponent if he didn't want to go to heaven--he  responded "Nope--I just want to go to the White House." I am paraphrasing here, but you get the idea--and what he meant was: leave religion out of politics. Perhaps Honest Abe still remembered the religious wars of the past and wanted to avoid the religious wars of the future...Did that make him a bad person?

Whatever religious or non religious views anyone subscribes to, there are many disturbing signs that humanity is approaching a crucial moment--not a moment to wallow in absurd beliefs but to invoke some reasoned optimism that we can still get our nuggets out of the fire at the last moment--or it will indeed be our last moment.

But please leave  those trumpets and angels of religious materialism for another time.

There is more serious business to attend to now!

Just last night I saw a most disturbing interview on PBS with two very well informed people which I want to bring to your attention--not to scare you--for if you are reading this you probably are well enough informed to be plenty scared already--but to emphasize that this is not just nonsense and silliness and that this time we may not just muddle through as humanity has always done before--like our branch of humanity, our one single species of the many branches of humanity that there once were, has always muddled through and survived...so far--knock on wood:


There is absolutely no guarantee that like all the other hominid species we will not also succomb to the inexorable flow and  tide floods of evolution or be reduced to a very much diminished species in some as yet still unforeseen catastrophe.

We are indeed the last hurrah of the hominids, as I said before in


Now to the interview with:

1. Benoît Mandelbrot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia--the mathematical genius who brought us Chaos theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Fractal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

2. Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  - the author of The Black Swan.

(Hereunder follows a part of the interview)

RAY SUAREZ: Finally tonight, we return to a subject on many minds these days: the financial crisis. Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, checked back in with one particularly prominent voice in the investment world and his colleague, who guided his thinking.

Here is the pair's sobering conversation on what may lie ahead.

PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour Economics Correspondent: One of the world's hottest investment advisers these days, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of "The Black Swan," who's been warning of a crash for years, betting on one, and winning big.

He's been ubiquitous in the financial media of late, from cable TV's "Colbert Report" to the BBC's "Newsnight," where he was infuriated by what he called "bogus accounting."

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB, Scholar and Author: The first thing I would get immediately, immediately, I would suspend something called value at risk, quantitative measures of risk used by banks, immediately. [For further study see: Value at risk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

PAUL SOLMAN: We sat down with Taleb and the man he calls his mentor, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, pioneer of fractal geometry and chaos theory. And even more than feeling vindicated, they're both scared.

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB: I don't know if we're entering the most difficult period since -- not since the Great Depression, since the American Revolution.

PAUL SOLMAN: The most serious situation we've been in since the American Revolution?


PAUL SOLMAN: Professor Mandelbrot, can that possibly be true?

BENOIT MANDELBROT, Mathematician: It's very serious.

PAUL SOLMAN: More serious than the Great Depression, possibly?

BENOIT MANDELBROT: Possibly. I hope not.

Butterfly effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What made these very wise men so pessimistic? It has to do with the nature of turbulence. As most of us may recall, in turbulence a very tiny event in the initial conditions, such as the flap of a single butterfly wing, may cause a hurricane half a world away that could destroy an entire civilization. Not by itself of course, but as the single incremental factor which added to a myriad of other complexly interdependant factors could be the last straw. 

Just as a single unfortunate vote on the Supreme Court has had the cumulative effect which brought us the eight years of the Bush Administration at this most crucial moment in human evolution. By itself, one vote would not have mattered, but as part of the one vote majority, it turned the tide which is now affecting all of humanity.

One can of course find many other butterfly wing flaps--but none with such inexorable consequences. If we had not had decades of free market regulators who in their heart of hearts  didn't believe in regulation of the free market--things might never have gotten so out of hand. Here are some other flaps worth mentioning:

If we had not had the decision to replace a thriving railway infrastructure with the interstate highway system, which is now crumbling--and which we have little  money to repair--we might not have built up such an obscene dependance on foreign oil. That decision was largely influenced by the lobbyists for GM and other car makers--with the connivance of big oil. It send us in the wrong direction: the great white middle class was able to escape the not so white inner cities, which were left to crumble.

The Great Paving How the Interstate Highway System helped create ...

(FORTUNE Magazine) – When histories of the interstate highway system are written, they usually begin with the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. The exhibit, sponsored by General Motors and given dazzling miniaturized form by set designer Norman Bel Geddes, provided a nation emerging from its darkest decade since the Civil War a mesmerizing glimpse of the future--a future that involved lots and lots of roads. Big roads. Fourteen-lane superhighways on which cars would travel at 100 mph. Roads on which, a recorded narrator promised, Americans would eventually be able to cross the nation in a day....But in the process of laying 42,793 miles of limited-access pavement, the Interstate builders changed America in ways few could have imagined in 1939 or even 1956. The Interstate system was sold as a savior for both rural America and declining urban cores; instead it speeded the trend toward suburbanization at the expense of both city and country. It was heralded as an antidote to traffic jams; instead it brought ever more congestion. It was seen as a shining example of progress and good government; by the 1970s it had helped sour Americans on the very idea of progress and good government. And who would have thought that better highways would help make us all so fat?

It is ironic that the same president who warned us against the military industrial complex (Eisenhower) was also the one responsable for the Interstate highways--so lobbied for by that military-industrial complex. 

I am not against the Interstate Highways, I think they are great, but as a society we did not  manage the consequences very well and they have come back to haunt us. Again a lack of regulation.

As things stand now, we are borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Saudis to burn in our hummers and suv's--destroying both our environment and economy. Because of the global nature of our economy and biosphere, what started at home is exported abroad. The European leedvermaak (pain-entertainment) or schadenfreude (damage-enjoyment) with the ecomic perils of Uncle Sam quickly died down in the realization that when Wall Street has a cold the world will get pneumonia.

Turbulence in the weather or the economy does not obey political boundaries or social niceties. Hurricanes do not stop at the border. The butterfly flaps its wings for all of us.

Let me give another example of the power of the butterfly wing flap:

Last night I saw the Charlie Rose interview with a recent Nobel Laureate:

Paul Krugman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

Krugman is generally considered a political liberal or progressive. He is an ardent critic of the George W. Bush administration and its foreign and domestic policy. However, he has also defended free markets in contexts where the American left often condemns them, by writing in favor of sweatshops[18] and against rent control.[36] Unlike many economic pundits, he is regarded as an important scholarly contributor by his peers.[37][38] He has written over 200 scholarly papers and 20 books—both academic and non-academic.

By the way--the article from which I quoted the above is also available in Bahasa Indonesia, in Latin, in Lëtzeburgesch (Lutzeburgs or Luxemburgs), in Dutch and in many other languages:   Bahasa Indonesia   Latina   Lëtzebuergesch  Nederlands

Here's a sample of the Dutch, with translation:

  • 2008, Prijs van de Zweedse Rijksbank voor economie, "voor zijn analyse van handelspatronen en de plaatsbepaling van economische activiteiten." [7] Soms ook wel (maar verkeerd) Nobelprijs voor de Economie genoemd.[8]  Translation: Prize of the Swedish  National Bank for economics for his analysis of trading patterns and localization of economic activities. Sometimes also (but wrongly) called Nobel prize for Economics.

    Apparently Krugman did not really get a Nobel Prize, but something closely akin  to it.

    The 2008 Nobel economics prize

    Not everyone likes Krugman, for he is considered by some a Neo-Keynesian pain in the watchamaycallit:

    to NYT's Paul Krugman! [Yep, looks like him alright] therapysessions.blogspot.com

    as the above picture gleaned from a more conservative source would illustrate.

    Terribly sorry about that madam.

    The great dangers of the neo-Keynsian conspiracy are exposed for all to see:


    So what's wrong with neo-Keynesian thinking?

    Neo-Keynesian economics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    In the post-World War II years, Keynes's policy ideas were widely accepted. For the first time, governments prepared good quality economic statistics on an ongoing basis and a theory that told them what to do. In this era of New Deal liberalism and social democracy, most western capitalist countries enjoyed low, stable unemployment and modest inflation.

    So far so good--I mean what's wrong with that?

    Well the Neo-Keynsians thought it needed some tweaking:

    The new Keynesian economics is a school of contemporary macroeconomics that strives to provide microeconomic foundations for Keynesian economics.

    The death of Keynesian economics has been proclaimed with such joy and vehemence by the followers of Milton Friedman that John Kenneth Galbraith wrote the following essay on him, in which he compared John Maynard Keynes  to Nosferatu, the undead vampire:

    1 John Maynard Nosferatu James K. Galbraith Keynes has been found ... 

    Nah! That can't be Milton Friedman he is sucking dry now

    Check out the article--meanwhile I will let this go for now as an introduction to the general topic of the undead economy and return to the topic of how the concept of the butterfly wing flap helped Krugman, that neo-Keynesian pain in the ass, get his Nobel Prize in economics:

     In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences "for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity".[3][4] Krugman is well-known in academia for his work in international economics, including trade theory, economic geography, and international finance"

    He wrote that the macro-economic patterns in international trade are essentially determined by very small fluctuations in the intial conditions of the market. With some luck one tiny fluctuation would grow into a huge industry having to do with the availability of a raw material or a certain need or expertise of the local population.

    Let me go to my own background for an illustration. Everyone always says that Holland was made not by God but by the Dutch themselves. Actually that's not quite right. God did make our country, out of mud obviously, dikes and all, but then the devil in the form of a serpent penetrated the dike and through the hole it left the water gushed in. God sent in a little boy to stick his finger in the dike to save the Dutch--but then that little boy, named Hans Brinker, took his finger out of the dike! That was the original sin, or the original flap of the butterfly wing, whatever-- we got flooded and our country became mostly covered by water.

  • Oops!

  • Hans pulling out

    That's when we started to build terpen, plural for terp:

    Terp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

    an earthen mound on which our houses might be safe from the flood.

    Then the Romans came and connected these terpen with elevated roads, so their armies could move around.

    Part of the Dutch limes: a road on a dike. Reconstruction near Valkenburg

    These elevated roads were like dikes, which were eventually connected to encircle larger areas of territory that could thus be protected from the sea. But there still was not enough land to produce food, so our people went fishing--and mostly they caught herring.

  • I can't resist a way-off-course note on yet another butter fly wing flap: we Dutch also caught kabeljauw ('koeterwaals' for Portuguese  bacalhau, or codfish) sci.lang: Re: Etymology of bacalhau / kabeljauw .  Koeterwaals means gibberish and refers to a form of rhaeto-romansch  spoken in the Swiss town of Chur: see  Koeterwaals - Wikipedia  Het eerste gebruik van het woord koeterwaals werd gevonden in een schrijven van Bredero. Hij roept uit: O vreemde Hovaardy! die ons eyghen Lantingeboren [land-ingeboren, i.e. native] een Revelduytsch, een krom-tongh en een Koeter-waal maackt! [1], wat slaat op het gebruik van niet-Duytsche woorden. Het woord koeterwaals is afgeleid van het Duitse kauderwelsch. Kauder refereert aan de Zwitserse stad Chur, en de Reto-Romaanse taal Welsch zoals die in een deel van Zwitserland wordt gesproken. Koeterwaals betekent dus oorspronkelijk het Reto-Romaans zoals in Chur gesproken, en heeft niets te maken met de (in de verte) verwante taal Waals, die gesproken wordt in een deel van België. 

  • Avid expatriate Dutch readers may also want to read up on the Hoekse en Kabeljauwse Twisten --a  civil war of succession in 14th century upon the death of William IV, Count of Holland--which involved conflicting claims by the kings of  England an France as well  the victorious one of  the German emperor:  see Hoekse en Kabeljauwse twisten - Wikipedia --  De oorsprong van het conflict lag in het kinderloos overlijden van graaf Willem IV van Holland in 1345. Door de huwelijkspolitiek van Willem III konden de koningen van Engeland en Frankrijk en de keizer van Duitsland alle drie aanspraak maken op de opvolging. Als opperleenheer beleende keizer Lodewijk zijn vrouw Margaretha, de oudste zuster van Willem IV, op 13 januari 1346 met de graafschappen.

  • It was the first step in a process that eventually led to the Burgundian state and the world wide expansion of the Habsburg empire, greatly financed by the wealth producing Habsburg possessions in the Netherlands and motivated as we all know by the search for the fabled spice islands in the East Indies--hence the death of Count William IV of Holland was a not insignificant butterfly wing flap--for the Netherlands were the richest of the Habsburg European territories--the Emperor Charles V was born and bred in Flanders and ruled from Brussels till his abdication. See: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • Now back to my main narrative: to preserve the herring and codfish for longer periods of time, the Dutch needed salt. For that they needed to trade with far away places like Portugal, where there was plenty of salt.  See: The culture of Algarve salt

    The Dutch used the salt to preserve the herring and codfish at home for their own consumption, but then also began trading the preserved  fish for the salt obtained from Portugal. But salt was not enough. Certain parts of the herring had to be removed. The invention of 'haringkaken' ('herring jawing') by Willem Beukelszoon made the preservation of salted herring possible. See:  Hollandse Nieuwe@Everything2.com

    In 1380 a fellow named Willem Beukelszoon van Biervliet invented the process of haringkaken. This is a process of cleaning the fish, whereby a special knife is used to remove the gills, throat and innards of the herring with the exception of the pancreas. The pancreas plays an important role in ripening the Hollandse Nieuwe. This organ contains a number of natural enzymes used to digest food and convert food into fat. These enzymes determine the eventual flavour of the delicacy. The ripening is regulated by adding salt, the more salt added, the longer the fish can ripen. As I have said before Hollandse Nieuwe is not raw but is the result of this particular ripening process.


    One might consider this invention of haringkaken, herring jawing another flap of the butterfly wing.

  • Note: haringkaken is also  a most  desirable eleven-letter word in Dutch scrabble or boardscript with a maximal yield in points

    Herring buss taking aboard its drift net (G. Groenewegen)

    A Herring Buss (Dutch: Haring Buis)

    In the Baltic the Dutch traded salt and herring for lumber, needed to build their ships. See: Symposium on Dutch-Baltic relations | The Netherlands Embassy in ... 

    Relatively unknown to many people, the Netherlands and the Baltic region had extensive contacts and relations in previous centuries and exerted considerable influence on each other’s economic and political developments. It started in the early Middle Ages, when Frisians from the northern part of the Netherlands joined the Teutonic Knights from Germany in their crusading campaign in the Baltic region to pacify Baltic warrior tribes and spread Christianity in Europe’s last pagan stronghold. In the later Middle Ages, many cities in the Netherlands and the Baltic region were linked more peacefully in the famous Hanseatic League, which laid the foundations for the rise of capitalism and the merchant class in Northern Europe. In the 17th century, Dutch merchants dominated trade and shipping between the Baltic region and the rest of Europe, with Amsterdam functioning as a pan-European distribution centre. This so-called “Mother Trade” underpinned the prosperity and economic development in Holland’s “Golden Age”. The extensive commercial contacts in those times led to many other contacts and exchanges in the fields of culture, architecture, education and religion, the legacy of which can still be seen today in many buildings, churches, paintings, etc. in the region.

    If one takes a look at how relations develop in modern times, one notices a great similarity in objectives and working style between both regions. This is no surprise, as throughout the centuries the Baltic traders and the Dutch co-operated closely and cleverly. The close historical links between the Netherlands and Latvia have been extensively dealt with in the book “Beyond Traditional Borders: eight centuries of Latvian-Dutch relations”, produced earlier by the Embassy on the occasion of the visit of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to Latvia in May 2006. This publication should be considered the beginning of an analysis of a fascinating history shared by two befriended regions: many topics deserve to be examined more thoroughly by researchers. The planned symposium in 2008 is a new step in unveiling the fascinating, but largely unknown legacy of Dutch-Baltic connections.

    Trade in The Dutch Golden Age: Commercial Success is the Netherlands

    Fishing was the cornerstone of the Dutch economy. From June through December, Dutch fishermen sailed the seas, catching herring that would be salted down and exported all over Europe. All this fishing led to a thriving ship building business. By 1650, it is estimated that the Dutch had over 16,000 merchant ships- half of all the merchant ships in Europe.

    To build their ships, the Dutch needed vast amounts of lumber. Since the Netherlands was not overflowing with trees, merchants bought entire forests in Norway. Lumber was not the only thing that the Dutch bought in bulk. They bought entire vineyards in France, and entire wheat crops in Poland and other Eastern European countries. Because they bought in bulk, nobody could undersell them. They were the SAMS Club of the 17th Century. Buying a surplus of wheat ensured there was never a shortage of bread. With prices of bread always low, workers could spend money on other foodstuffs like butter, cheese and even meat. This kept people well fed and healthy and working, further increasing the thriving Dutch economy.

    Historical background - The Dutch Baltic Trade in the period 1600 ...

    The trade with the Baltic region was so important in the Dutch Golden Age, that it was sometimes called the ‘mother trade’. Amsterdam especially, owed much of its riches and growth to the corn and timber trade.

    Thus the intial conditions were propitious to develop Dutch fisheries, Dutch trading and Dutch ship building. We became the carriers for much of Europe and the world. For the relatively small country we are, we have remained big in international trade to this day.

    To fastforward now--I was born in the Dutch East Indies in the mid 20th century because  one of my own ancestors, Evert van Voorthuijsen  (1753 - 1821) used to own some saw mills in in the late 18th century:

  • By the way: I don't know how to remove those darn bullets--just ignore them. 

  • Evert was houthandelaar in Amsterdam, bezat twee houtzaagmolens in Zeeburg.Woonde op het Kattenburgerplein, nu nr.11 (in de jaren 60 afgebroken). In de patriottentijd zeer Oranje-gezind, kreeg de bijnaam "Prins van Kattenburg". Zijn huis werd eens beschoten door de patriottische schutterij, aan zijn kleinzoon Evert (3.2) werd het kogelgat in de woonkamer getoond. Kerkvoogd van de Oosterkerk, aldaar begraven.  

    Tr.: Evert was lumber merchant in Amsterdam, owned two saw mills in Zeeburg. Resided on Kattenburgerplein--now No.11 (broken down in the sixties) In the 'patriots era' he was very pro-Orange [i.e. anti-revolutionary and anti-French]and got the nickname 'Prince of Kattenburg' His house was shot at once by the anti-Orange ('patriottic') militia. The bullet hole in the living room has been shown to his grandson Evert. Was church warden of the Oosterkerk, where he lies buried.See picture hereunder:

  • The Oosterkerk ("eastern church") is a 17th-Century Protestant church in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Oosterkerk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • Hereunder are some views of Kattenburgerplein and a map and view of Zeeburg



  • Maritime Museum where the United East India Company used to be headquartered

  • A view of old time Zeeburg with mills 


  • A view of old townhouses at Kattenburgerplein

  • A view of modern residential builfings in Zeeburg

  • Zeeburg  is now internationally known for its new concepts in urban redevelopment:

  • Two modern bridges in Zeeburg

  •  (kwikzilver) Tags: city bridge sunset red sky urban water netherlands dutch amsterdam architecture clouds design matthijsborghgraef europe iamsterdam steel nederland fantasy funk docklands brug scape zeeburg curving west8 spoorwegbassin adriaangeuze kwikzilver  Enneus Heerma brug bij avond (Harry Marmot, only Harry knows) Tags: bridge sunset sun holland water netherlands amsterdam evening bra nederland brug avond zeeburg ijburg bh staal heerma finex enneus

  • Location of  Zeeburg in Amsterdam - and a map  See full-size image


  • The World's Best Photos of netherlands and zeeburg. Flickr Hive Mind

  • Zeeburg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  states: The borough, which was created in 1990, got its name from the Zeeburgerdijk (Zeeburg dike) and the Zeeburgereiland (Zeeburg island) which lie in the centre of the borough. The Zeeburgerdijk is named after the fort ‘Seeburg’ which in the 17th century was part of the dike that protected land from the Zuider Zee. This dike connected Amsterdam and Muiden and was the only land route to Naarden before the Watergraafsmeer was drained. From the end of the 19th century, with the construction of the Oostelijk Havengebied (Eastern Harbour) and the residential Indische Buurt [East Indies neighbourhood], the area has slowly become part of the city.

  • Now back to my narrative: from the lumber obtained in Norway and the Baltic, which my 18th century ancestor Evert may have sold to the Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam (headquartered nearby at Kattenburgerplein 1,  Amsterdam, where now the Maritime Museum is located)  ships were built for the far east trade.

  • His grandson Joan van Voorthuijsen  (1827 - 1871)  subsequently went to the East Indies in the middle of the 19th century to work for de Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappij, or Netherlands Trading Society, successor to the old Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the United East India Company. I am Joan's great-great-grandson, born in the mid 20th century, in the old East Indies, exactly one month before Pearl Harbor changed the world.

    So there you are: if little Hans Brinker had not taken his finger out the dike in the olden days, and William IV,  Count of Holland, had not died without offspring in the 15th century, I would never have been here at the Alliance Francaise, typing away, as  usual. And those were just two flaps of the butterfly wing.

  • Perhaps the Japanese, needing the Dutch East Indies oil resources, might never even have bombed Pearl Harbor: Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941 -- which was a prerequisite for taking the East Indies from the Dutch.
  • The 7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant.

    Eighteen months earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had transferred the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese agression. The Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued. In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan.

    From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.

    Ask not for whom the butterfly flaps its wings...

    it flaps for me and thee.

    For right now, in view of the upcoming election on November 4th--just make sure you all flap your little butterfly wings like crazy--those of you who are blessed to be American citizens, have never been convicted of a felony, and are of voting age--and go to the polls to cast your vote. Even better, vote early (but not too often)--I did so myself this week by mailing in mine. There is no margin of error anymore--we can't have a loose canon like McCain take the helm, or to mix up  some more metaphores: he is too much of a weathervane and a ghost of the past--we need someone with a young, bright, cool mind and a steady hand--someone who understands what is at stake,  so  please, please....

    Go Ba Ma, or don't go at all  

    Get the physics right folks:


    Doppler diagram 


    Obama zooming in