Why Mr Blatter Is Right This Time

The first half of the 2010 World Cup round of 16 match between England and Germany has just ended. And already we can say that this will be a match that will be spoken off in decades to come. Not only because after the 2-0 of Germany, the game exploded into a super exciting match. No, because a clear goal was not acknowledge by the referees. Many will speak of the decision of FIFA president Blatter to refuse allowing technology to act as a fourth referee. Off-side goals, or balls like the shot of Lampard in this match, they will all be ancient history if technology is introduced in the decision making process of the referees. No more talk of the disputable goal by Geoff Hurst, no more discussions about the hand of god. And even though sometimes decisions by the referees turn out to be highly unfair, it is all an intrinsic part of The Beautiful Game. Skill, goals, emotions. And human error. So, I truly hope, despite that I would have loved England to equalize in this first half, that Mr Blatter manages to keep technology at bay in this case.

Baltic Postcards – Ligatne Ferry

Ligatnes Parceltuve

Dear friends,

Latvia has a beautiful countryside, with many national parks, like the Gaujas National Park, just east of Riga. The Gaujas is a relatively small river that runs through it. Several towns an villages are located in the park that are worth the visit. Sigulda for the castle and the bob sleigh track is just one example. Another reason to visit this park, is to cross the Gaujas on the Ligatne ferry (parceltuve in Latvian). An unique river crossing on a raft that is powered basically by the river’s flow, corrected by the hands of the ferry master. Two cars fit on the raft, and normally it’s not that busy. But just for this experience, it’s worth the drive from Riga.

All the best,
A.

An Important Orange Envelope

On June 9th there are parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. It will be an interesting day, and most probably the current Prime Minister will be ousted. Time for a change. From our current home town, Riga, we sent in our votes a little while ago, in the designated orange envelope. As Dutch citizens, we have the right to vote in the Dutch parliamentary elections, even if Dutch policy has a declining influence on our day-to-day lives. And vice versa. Living abroad automatically brings distance. And in some cases, I am more interested in having a right to vote here in Latvia, where I have a business, than in my home country.

And that makes it interesting. I think we are just two of many people that have chosen, and are fortunate enough, to live in another country. As part of our new societies we pay taxes, earn and spend money locally and are governed by the local rules and regulations. Since Latvia is, as the Netherlands, an EU member state, more and more of these rules and regulations come from, or are inspired by, Brussels. Still, with my vote I can only assert influence on the Dutch rules, and on the participation of political parties registered in the Netherlands for the European arena. Increasingly, this seems strange to me. Following the debates surrounding the elections, and the issues that are apparently important, I feel a declining degree of interest, and a growing disconnect between the things I think are important, and Dutch society. Especially since campaigns and politics are more and more focused on winning the next elections in stead of governing the country in a sustainable way. Maybe in Europe it is time to change the assigning of democratic rights not only to citizens (I am a Dutch national, and there are things I still want to exercise my democratic right for), but also to registered residents. Because those are the people that are governed by the elected government. And also, it would be time for truly pan-european political parties. Those that are not focused on national visions, limitations and power bases, but political parties that focus on what is best for the whole of Europe. It might be a bit controversial for some, but what we sometimes forget is that European model is a great example of how to bring peace to a region through economic cooperation.

So, whoever brings that to the table in the next Dutch elections, will be very likely to find her voted for in my next orange envelope.

What’s On Your Bucket List?

We just watched this movie. In a word: beautiful.
A friend has a 100 things to do list, and every time he strikes something off, he adds something. Just to keep going.
I, when I think about it, actually come up with a gazillion things, or only one: seeing Hukurila, the village where my paternal family comes from.
So, what’s on your Bucket List?

Baltic Postcards – Riga’s Go Blonde Festival

Dark Horse in Pink Socks

Dear friends,

Last weekend Riga was the Blondes capital of the world for two days with the second edition of the GoBlonde festival. Apart from aiming to bring together the world’s blondes in one place, it also aims to support a charitable cause: playgrounds for children. Even though the parade on Saturday attracted thousands of people (many of them press and interested young men), the parade was not yet the carnival it aims to be next year. Nevertheless, helped by the brilliant weather, it was a bright and cheerful event, with great participation from a couple of companies like L’Oréal and Air Baltic. All in all, the Go Blonde festival has the makings of becoming a huge international festival. Maybe next year I’ll wear pink socks (like the beautiful brunette in the picture) and a blonde wig for it. Or even go blonde myself for a day, especially if it’s for a good cause.

Warm regards,
Arjan

Good Luck, Giovanni

Simon Tahamata was my football hero when I was starting to play. The smiling winger of Ajax and the Dutch National, and later Standard Liege, Feyenoord and Germinal Eekeren, was a great and creative player. But not only that, we are both of Moluccan descent, which in those days was also an important factor. I remember vividly his farewell match when he stopped playing professional football. It was a true exodus of Moluccan people travelling south to Eekeren in Belgium to see our hero off during a match between Germinal Eekeren and a selection of Moluccan footballers. One of them is now about to finish his career: Giovanni van Bronckhorst. As the number 5 of the Dutch national squad, Van Bronckhorst will play his last matches in South Africa, before joining the national youth squad as trainer. I just hope he’ll bring the Coupe Jules Rimet back to the Netherlands this summer.