Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Imagine these are eyebrows ---> _ _ -- -- _ _ -- -- _ _ -- -- (down, up, down, up, down, up)

(see how they dance?)

Ok, now imagine that you're sitting in class and you've just heard these words from him, "Sorry I'm late . . . an immigrant called me, right out of the blue!"

Now imagine these eyebrows dancing again.

This is the HVD that we all love.

Monday, March 29, 2004


During the summer I have a job cutting grass. My boss, a man I have a tremendous amount of respect for, makes copious use of the word "ignorant." Ignorant is a word that can be applied to wet grass, wounds, shoddy landscaping, farts, litter-bugs, and dog shit. Difficult customers, Ancaster punks, and massively obese men in belly shirts can also be labelled as ignorant. Basically ignorance is something to avoid, sort of like the perfume section in a department store.

Before I met my boss I only used the word ignorant to refer to people who were uninformed and I'm sure this is the definition that most people are accustomed to. I have to admit that I'm very ignorant about a lot of things in this world. In fact, the more I learn the more I become exposed to my own ignorance. There's far too much information for me to process and, unlike those memorable high school days, I no longer have my mind wrapped around life, the universe, and everything in between. How I pine for those days of ultra-enlightement.

There's nothing wrong with admitting ignorance. The best policy when drowning in information is to stop and ask questions. Most people are more than willing to explain exactly what they're talking about. The worst thing to do is to nod your head knowingly when, in fact, you have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. I sometimes nod my head knowingly when I don't hear what someone is saying and I've already asked them to repeat themselves three or four times but that' s different. That's just because I'm hard of hearing, not because what they're saying is beyond my comprehension. At least I don't think so. I can't be sure since I've never actually figured out what these people are saying. I mean, they could be explaining complicated mathematical agorithms and all I do is sit there nodding my head knowingly. Either that or they're asking me what my name is and all I can do is nod my head. I'll never know.

Anyhow, I don't mind ignorance. It would be impossible to learn if ignorance didn't exist. I'm happy to learn new things everyday and I don't mind saying, "oh, I never knew that." What I hate, however, is when people try to hide their ignorance behind pseudo-knowledge. My girlfriend's father formerly drove a taxi. As a taxi driver he was subject to much small-talk. Often customers, noting his accent would ask, "so, where are you from?" "Burundi," he would answer, "do you know where that is?" "Yeah-yeah," the customer would smile knowingly, "I do." "It's in South America," my girlfriend's father would state matter-of-factly. The customer would nod, "Oh yeah, right by Brazil, right?"

Ignorance is malignant when it doesn't recognize itself.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


From J.C. Boogman's "The Netherlands in the European Scene, 1813-1913."

"The same flabbiness and passivity which characterised the attitude of the upper classes in general during the revolutionary crisis of the year 1813 is to be noticed when we look at their economic activities in particular. The past - that is to say, the glorious seventeenth century - was an obsession with many notable Dutchmen of this generation. One may even say that they were enslaved by it. It afforded them beautiful arguments to avoid adapting themselves to changing circumstances. In the eyes of many foreigners the starchy Dutchman of that time, with their lack of creativeness and imagination, with their obstinate clinging to old traditions looked rather curious, not to say ridiculous. The Germans, especially, were not sparing of sharp criticism. In their opinion the Dutchman, the Chinaman of Europe (as he was called sometimes), was the embodiment of the narrow-minded, greedy philistine."

Saturday, March 20, 2004

He Asked For It: An Ode to Chris Crookall

In the tradition of the rambling rhymes of my ancestors:

Oh, Christopher John Paul Winston Crookall you once had a beard
and, my friend, I have to say that without one you look a bit weird
I remember those first-year days in far-off dorm thirty-six
when your chin was bald and you really didn't seem to mix
when you confounded us all with your wiley ways and devilish tricks
when your disastrously messy room caused an inspection by Hans Blix.

I understood, Chris, when you had trouble remembering our names
but by second semester there was no excuse, none of us was "James"
and I was John, not the puffy haired guy, you'll have to remember
and I don't think you had your roomate's name down until December
and that's bad because we knew your full name at least by November
and what's worse is I had to remind you of my name the following September.

I remember your interactions with poor Mark's cantankerous girlfriend
when she phoned that one time I thought that that was surely the end
you said he was out gallivanting with girls and I think you should as well clubbed her
because when she heard that she was enraged and began to angrily blubber
and ask who you were only to hear, "who me? Why it's Bob the Shrubber!"

There were more instances I think of from that highly memorable year
and there's one in particular that never ceases to fill me with cheer
with that loud and annoying bottle, your roomate was quite a boob
and that's why I was so happy we filled it with boullion cubes
so that as he slurped loudly he spat out the water liked the polluted Danube*
as we giggled in the living room while watching the tube

That's about all about that I can say at this time
about Chris Crookall and our life of dorm crime.

*The Danube is the second-longest river of Europe (after the Volga). It rises in Germany, then crosses Austria (it waters Vienna), Slovakia (it waters Bratislava) and Hungary (it crosses Budapest). It then forms the serbo-croatian border, crosses Serbia and waters Belgrade. The river then forms the border between Romania (North) and Bulgaria (South). It then enters Romania, forms a part of the border with Ukraine before entering the Black Sea through a large swampy delta which is an important natural reserve.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Some Stephen Leacock

"Not but what there was opposition at first. The clergy, for example, who accepted the Mariosa House and the Continental as a necessary and useful evil, looked askance at the blazing lights and the surging crowd of Mr. Smith's saloon. They preached against him. When the Rev. Dean Drone led off with a sermon on the text "Lord be merciful even unto this publican Mattew Six," it was generally understood as an invitation to strike Mr. Smith dead. In the same way the sermon at the Presbyterian church the week after was on the text "Lo what now doeth Abiram in the land of Melchisideck Kings Eight and Nine?" and it was perfectly plain that what was meant was, "Lo, what is Josh Smith doing in Mariposa?"

For Richard Greydanus:
"Some men, I suppose, terminate their education when they leave their college. Not so Dean Drone. I have often heard him say that if he couldn't take a book in the Greek out on the lawn in a spare half-hour, he would feel lost. It's a certain activity of the brain that must be stilled somehow. The Dean, too, seemed to have a native feeling for the Greek language. I have often heard people who might sit with him on the lawn, ask him to translate some of it. But he always refused. One couldn't translate it, he said. It lost so much in translation that it was better not to try. It was far wiser not to attempt it. If you undertook to translate it, there was something gone, something missing immediately. I believe that many classical scholars feel this way, and like to read Greek just as it is, without the hazard of trying to put it into so poor a medium as English. So that when Dean Drone said that he simply couldn't translate it, I believe he was perfectly sincere."

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

An Interesting Question

A friend of mine posed an interesting question today. Of all the people in the world that you haven't met which living person would you want to sit down and chat with? This is a difficult question and I found it hard to come up with a decent answer.

One person said that they felt that all the interesting people were dead. In that case, maybe Francis Fukuyama was right and Thomas Carlyle was wrong. Although I guess a great man (person) doesn't necessarily have to be interesting and an interesting person doesn't necessarily have to be a great man (person.) I should also probably read Francis Fukuyama before I start talking about him. Either that or talk to Pieter Harsevoort or Jared Wilms (sp?). If the dead are more interesting than the living it is only because we've romanticized them. Anyhow, what I'm trying to say is that there are plenty of interesting people this planet. In fact, I'd venture to say that every person is interesting. Even you.

Of course, I think that while the majority of people would be interesting to talk to and would have a lot of insight to share there would be a few people who would be exceedingly dull to talk to - unless I gave them truth serum. Now that would add a whole new dimension to this question wouldn't it? There's a number of living people I'd like to sit down in front of me while they were under the influence of truth serum. Just so that the matter doesn't become overcomplicated, I'll just let the people I want to meet lie all that they want.

The difficulty of this question, for me, lies in the fact that every person is unique and every person has a story. The ones that we think are the greatest or most interesting are, in the end, just as human as everyone else.

Now, back to the question at hand. My first mindless response was, "Britney Spears!"
I was, of course, attempting to tell a joke. My choice was quickly condemned but then the subject of Britney Spears had come up and it took considerable effort to direct the energies of the group back to the question at hand.

Several people said that they would love to meet the pope. Oh! how the spirits of our Calvinist ancestors cry out in agony. I actually wouldn't mind meeting the pope myself. I don't know if he'd be my first choice, though.

The question asker said they would like to meet Bono or the pope. I wouldn't mind meeting Bono.

I ended up saying Nelson Mandela. I'm sure we could have a very interesting conversation, but I'm no longer sure if he'd be my first choice. I've been thinking that I'd also like to meet Romeo Dallaire who seems like a swell guy. There's no real connection but right after I said Nelson Mandela, I wondered what it would be like to talk to Osama bin Laden. I would like to pick his brain for a while and then maybe kick him in the teeth.

In the end, I have to say that I'm still puzzling over this question.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Irony

Arrived home at approximately 4:00pm only to discover E.H. Kossman's History of the Low Countries had arrived. An arrival, I should add, exactly one week after the the due-date of the take-home test on that same book.

Friday, March 12, 2004

How can the same people that promote multi-national corporations as a panacea condemn developing countries for a lack of innovation and corrupt government?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Here at Boerishbwoy we strive to make your blog reading experience both a memorable and efficient experience. That is why we are committed to answering all of the many queries we receive daily from our millions of readers.

- Why do you have to lie?
Here at Boerishbwoy we are firmly committed to the concept of truth and all that might possibly entail. If you do not agree with the opinions, beliefs and facts espoused on this site then we must advise you to do a thorough self-examination and come to grips with your own self-deception.

- Obviously you tiny blog site does not have millions of readers, is it not a lie to say that you do?

- Boerishbwoy has a readership of ten at best. How does this number expand into a million?
Here at Boerishbwoy we are firmly committed to the students of the world completing their math homework on their own. If you wish to use the expertise at Boerishbwoy to engage in what amounts to academic dishonesty you can forget about it.

- Why are you talking in first person plural, isn't Boerishbwoy maintained by one person, namely John den Boer?
Yes, Boerishbwoy is allegedly maintained by one person and, yes, officially that person is John den Boer. We are qualified to answer any questions you might have about him or his site.

- Sometimes when I look at the Boerishbwoy blog I see idiotic ideas, how do I fix this?
When you arrive at the Boerishbwoy site and are suddenly overwhelmed by the stupidity of a post quickly visit this site and then return. You'll immediately find that the site has reasserted its former intellectual glory.

- How many brothers and sisters does John have?
John has zero brothers and five sisters.

- Five sisters! Does this explain his slightly effeminate mannerisms?
Shut up.

- the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
What do you mean, an African or European swallow?

- Dear Boerishbwoy, Help! I recently moved in with my cheating boyfriend. When I tearfully explained to my boyfriend that he had never told me that he was unfaithful he carefully explained to me that he had told me at the beginning of our relationship that he was a philanderist. I looked the word up in the dictionary and, after I found the intended spelling, quickly realized that it was not someone who gives a lot of money to charity! Now I'm in love with my boyfriend's massively obese neighbour. What do I do?
Next time you get the chance pick up that dictionary look up the word obtuse. You'll find that it is a word that doesn't just apply to angles greater than ninety degrees.

Monday, March 08, 2004

I went to see Prof. Vreugdenhil speak on Post-colonial Africa several weeks ago. Her presentation was extremely interesting and I find it unfortunate that she has not yet had the opportunity to teach a course on East African history yet, as this is her specialty. Anyhow, there was a young woman sitting in front of me who, before the presentation had begun, recited some sort of protest chant. She said she had learned this rather anti-establishmentarian chant at some sort of "radical cheer workshop." Good ol' Brian Dijkema was sitting nearby and said something like, "I think we should examine the religious roots of our cheers before we shout them out."

"Religous roots, what do you mean?" she had a bewildered look on her face, "what religous roots? It's not religous."

Brian Dijkema began to explain himself very carefully when she said, "What are you talking about religous roots? Advertising is evil!"

Brian Dijkema gave a Brian Dijkema smile and said, "Ok, I guess you're right then."

I like the way Brian handled this situation. I found it pretty funny at the time, but looking back I don't see how he could have reasoned with this young woman. She didn't want to hear what he had to say and he knew it. What do you do when you can't even dialogue with someone?

Sunday, March 07, 2004

The Colour Blue

blue - c.1300, bleu, blwe, etc., from O.Fr. bleu, from Frank. blao, from P.Gmc. *blæwaz, from PIE base *bhle-was "light-colored, blue, blond, yellow." Replaced O.E. blaw, from the same PIE root, which also yielded L. flavus "yellow," O.Sp. blavo "yellowish-gray," Gk. phalos "white," Welsh blawr "gray," O.N. bla "livid" (the meaning in black and blue), showing the usual slippery definition of color words in I.E. The present spelling is since 16c., from Fr. influence. The color of constancy since Chaucer at least, but apparently for no deeper reason than the rhyme in true blue (1500). Blue (adj.) "lewd" is recorded from 1840; the sense connection is unclear, and is opposite to that in blue laws (q.v.). Blueprint is from 1886; the fig. sense of "detailed plan" is first attested 1926. For blue ribbon, see cordon bleu under cordon. Blue moon emblematic of "very rarely" suggests something that, in fact, never happens (cf. at the Greek calends), as in this couplet from 1528:
Yf they say the mone is blewe,
We must beleve that it is true.

Some of the more observant visitors to my blog may have noticed a slight aesthetic change. I have painted over the earthy colours and made my blog extremely blue. There are a number of reasons for this change. First of all, my misguided confederate friend, God bless him, has recently redecorated his blog and in order to stay relevant I was forced to do some redecorating. Secondly, the colour blue apparently reflects my Dutch heritage. I'm not entirely certain how true this is but my girlfriend recently told me that, "you Dutch people love the colour blue." Therefore, in a show of ethnic pride I have swathed my blog in blue. Thirdly, my favourite colour happens to be blue. This may have something to do with my second reason but blue is, by far, the best colour out there. Fourthly, God created the sky and made it blue. The reason God did this is that he also feels feels that blue is the greatest colour of the spectrum. If God thinks so, so should you. Fifthly, I have used the colour blue so that the rage created by any of the offensive things I write on my site will be dissolved by the serene sea of blue that envelops the entire blog.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Something else I wrote in OAC writer's craft. I remember this was from the class where we had to write out a dialogue and then add a narrative later. This is what I came up with:

"Do you have a light?" the man asked anxiously.
"Do I have a light?" the elderly fellow glared at the man.
"Yeah," the man answered, "that's what I said."
"I might have a light somewhere," the old man waved his arm vaguely.
"Could I borrow it?" the man prodded.
"I never said I had a light," the old man denounced.
"Oh, I thought you said you did," the man fingered the cigarette in his mouth.
"Are you calling me a liar?" the old man snarled.
"No," the man stepped back.
"Do you wanna step up or something," the old man thrust his head forward, "you think you're the top dog? You think we're all gonna tap along to your ridiculous rooftop dance, Mr. Astaire?"
"No," the man replied, "I just want to light my cigarrette."
"Yeah, and how about you insult everyone while your at it," the old man countered, "yeah, that would be good."
"I'm sorry," the man apologized, "I don't really need a light that badly."
"Then why are you asking? You trying to be a pain in the ass or what?" screamed the old man in a staccato spray, "You think you can call me names and ask me for a light when you don't need one? How about you ask me for my kidney too, huh?"
"Ok, calm down man, I just wanted a light," the mad declared with a tinge of annoyance.
"Oh, so now you want a light again," the old man fumed, "freakin' psycho!"
"I don't want a light!" bellowed the man.
"Ok, Mr.-I-can't-make-my-mind-up," the old man waved a gnarled finger in the man's face, "why don't you just give up, huh? Why don't you just come to the realization of just how futile your existence is?"
"Ok, forget I asked," the man sighed, "forget I said anything."
"Yeah, I'm gonna forget how you've insulted me," the old man spat, gnashing his teeth, "why don't you just rub my face in elephant dung and tell me to forget that?"
"It's not that bad, really," the man mumbled.
"Oh yeah, and it's wasn't that bad when Elvis died and it wasn't that bad when I had five hour surgery to remove that five-pound ball of lint from my stomach," the old man's face was red with passionate anger, "yeah, there you go wise-guy, you some kind of commie fairy?"
"Yeah, ok. Whatever," the man retired, "bye."
"What, you're just gonna go?" the old man squited hatefully, "you think this is some sort of badly-dubbed foreign film that you can just walk out of?"
"Yeah, I'm obviously disturbing you," the man muttered, taking a step back.
"Oh . . . ok," the old man appeared disoriented for a moment, "so you don't want this match?"

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Group Work

Ever since the kindergarten days of glueing cheerios to brightly coloured sheets of construction paper, I have been familiar with group work. Group work can be a positive learning experience in which you learn how to work with a diverse group of individuals. Group work can also be an exercise in frustration and futility, mainly because of the following group members:

1) The Misguided Enthusiast: The misguided enthusiast takes on an inordinate amount of the work load and with joyful abandon pilots the project, kamikaze style, in an unprecedented direction. Before it can be stopped, you are standing in the smoldering ruins of what used to be a presentation on refugees but mutated into a presentation on immigration.

2) The Apathetic By-stander: The apathetic by-stander drifted into your group like a ball of dust and, interestingly enough, shares the same level of energy, responsibility, and emotion as that ball. Ask them to contribute and they disperse in an apathetic cloud of evasion.

3) The Sincere Nodder: The sincere nodder looks up at you with their earnest eyes and with whole-hearted abandon nod their head at every single request you make of them. Then, with treasonous glee, the nodder malevolently and actively does absolutely nothing.

4a) The Iron-fisted Dictator: The Hobbesian sovereign of group work, the dictator refuses to acknowledge the concerns and questions of the rest of the group. With an iron will and a heart of stone the dictator directs each person in exactly what they must do. Revolution usually follows.

4b) The Bickering Dictators: The bickering dictators cannot agree on the direction of the project, resent eachother immensely, and stubbornly refuse to relinquish their positions of authority. Once again, revolution usually follows.

5) The Overworked Martyr: Usually an A student, the overworked martyr isn't too hard to work with until well after the project is finished. This is when the martyr brings to the teacher's attention the fact that they've done almost all of the work. Maybe they did, but they wouldn't let anyone else do anything of significance out of an irrational fear that the idiocy of their fellow group members would seep into their project.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Right now at this very minute I should be writing a take-home test for HIS 457 on that Kossman book that is still somewhere lost in the vast uncharted depths of the international mail system. Yes, I know it will come and I know that this means it will come on Wednesday March the 10th, the day after I hand in the test. Stupid book, I loathe you, your tardiness, and, most of all, your expense. I may just burn you when you finally arrive.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Um, I'm Actually Not Sure What This Entry Will Be About Just Now

Alright, I've now decided that this blog entry is going to be all about stream of consciousness. That's problematic in that I'm not actually typing as fast as I think and I'm not going to be entirely honest about what I'm thinking for example I could be thinking right now that my feet stink which they do and I wouldn't want to mention it because maybe the next time you saw me you would realize just how much they do stink. I'm serious, they smell really bad, I'm not joking around here. Of course, I'll wash them before we next meet and maybe put some Fabreze in my shoes - that should help, right? Stream of consciousness is extremely difficult, I don't think I'm not entirely sure if anyone can really truly relate their stream of consciousness onto the paper screen whatever you want to call it. I hope my punctuation isn't too bad because I'm writing very fast in an fruitless attempt to catch up to my thoughts. I know I should stop writing about the process of trying to write a stream of consciousness because you really want to get down to the nitty gritty thoughts that are plaguing my mind other than such details such um how do you say? such such such such boring? No I'm looking for a different word. Maybe I can add punctuation later? Right? That would work, that way I don't have to worry so much. I wonder if J.D. Salinger did that and I wonder if I spelt his name correctly. I hope so, it simply wouldn't do . . . wow, that thought was going nowhere you idiot! Now for something completely different I should think of something exciting so that this entry doesn't go down as completely asinine and boring. Once a teacher called me asinine and said it wasn't really an insult. Then he had me look it up in the dictionary and read it out for the class and, yes, he was embarassed when it turned out it was somewhat of an insult. Of course, I was really being asinine in the class wait no, he said my comments were asinine, which they were - incidentally. My nose is loud, I mean it makes a loud noise when I'm typing. I don't have a cold but my nostrils are slightly impeded and when I try to think hard and well maybe more when I'm just relaxed I breathe deeply like I'm in meditation or something. Of course, I'm sure that Buddhists don't sound half as annoying as my nose. I mean it's even annoying me and I own it. My nose is a fairly big one, substantial, if you will. I like it, I think everyone should have big noses, they're very distinguished. This is actually what I feared what happen well maybe this isn't the worst that could happen, maybe it would be worse if I just started cussing in my thoughts . . . . .. . (deleted for content) . . . . ok, now that I'm done with that, I mean sometimes it's just like I say to myself "don't think of the yellow truck" and of course I'm going to think of this truck that is yellow and how much I would want a vehicle of my own without having to pay big money for it. I like to go to Hawaii and when I say that, I don't know why I do because I really think it would be very expensive and I'd rather go somewhere warm and cheap, like um, I don't know really but maybe some day I'll go there. Well my heart is bothering me again, that's no good and I think maybe I should get a new one. I think maybe -stupid nose - I think I wonder if the basement here can ever be adequately heated. My fingers always get cold when I type for too long. I probably have typed too long because this is kind of fun and really it doesn't take too long because I think I can type at about 45 words per minute which is decent, I think, for not making too many mistakes. Of course it's nothing when you're trying to keep up with your thoughts which are impossible to record anyways because just when I was typing the previous sentence I was thinking at the same time that my arm is itchy a little bit and that my legs are kind of aching and that is about it. My thoughts really aren't that complex but I do sometimes think of two things at once. For example, I was just thinking while I wrote that sentence that I was surprised when someone mentioned Selassie in class today. I mentioned it to him and said I was impressed with his knowledge of the Italian attack on Ethiopian and he actually asked if I was Ethiopian. Well, that was odd, I don't think I look particularly Ethiopian, although some people think I look Hispanic or Arab or even Jewish (whatever that looks like) I'm pretty sure that I look like me but I think a Dutchman looks like a lot of things because a Dutchmen, historically, is a lot of people. I'm sure that makes absolutely no sense but that's alright because I think maybe you can make sense of it. I make sense of my thoughts everyday so maybe you can give it a try. Of course, right now I'm kind of making sense of my thoughts anyhow, right? Yeah, so that's about it, I think maybe I should shut it now, seriously.

Who deh?