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432 Years Ago
When this farmhouse was built back in 1585 on the shore of lake Thun, Antwerp was captured by Spanish forces under the Prince of Parma, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. He ordered Protestants to leave the city.

Upon hearing of the capture, a Dutch relief fleet sent to raise the siege instead blockaded the Scheldt river, and prevented ships from reaching Antwerp for two centuries. As a result, thousands of merchants (and their wealth) left the city to settle in the Northern provinces. In their footsteps came liberal thinkers and artists who feared persecution by the Spanish regime.

Very soon Amsterdam had taken over Antwerp's former role of cultural and commercial centre.The blockade was an important and traumatic element in the history of relations between the Netherlands and what was to become Belgium.
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In addition of Indonesia and Singapore I recently began having contacts with Vietnam at work these days. I can sense yet other cultural differences from Europe, but not too different those from other S.E. Asian countries.

Here too, I trust history can help me understand the present. Vietnam's past is riddled with tragedies which have shaped the culture of the country, I think they cannot be ignored.

From the N.Y.T. article:
❝It should go without saying that the Vietnam War is remembered by different people in very different ways. Most Americans remember it as a war fought between 1965 and 1975 that bogged down their military in a struggle to prevent the Communists from marching into Southeast Asia, deeply dividing Americans as it did. The French remember their loss there as a decade-long conflict, fought from 1945 to 1954, when they tried to hold on to the Asian pearl of their colonial empire until losing it in a place called Dien Bien Phu.

The Vietnamese, in contrast, see the war as a national liberation struggle, or as a civil conflict, depending on which side they were on, ending in victory in 1975 for one side and tragedy for the other. For the Vietnamese, it was above all a 30-year conflict transforming direct and indirect forms of fighting into a brutal conflagration, one that would end up claiming over three million Vietnamese lives.

The point is not that one perspective is better or more accurate than the other. What’s important, rather, is to understand how the colonial war, the civil war and the Cold War intertwined to produce such a deadly conflagration by 1967.❞

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View of the Church of Sloten in the Winter
Jan Abrahamsz. Beerstraten, 1640 - 1666.
Ice skaters in Netherlands... Those were the days when the end of winters were still giving the opportunity to sincerely celebrate the conclusion of a harsh period, long before global warming.


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1740, the Batavia Massacre
How a piece of a tile stove used in Switzerland 274 years ago is bringing me back to the part of Jakarta I have found most interesting, the old town and its naval museum.

Chinese have been on the Indonesian islands since the 15th century and, despite 5 centuries of living together with natives, one can still find a distinct ethnical group of Chinese today many of which are cultivating their Chinese root and traditions and learning the mandarin language.

❝Since the foundation of Batavia, the Chinese have settled in and around the city. At first, they were used for building Batavia and the cultivation of the surrounding areas.

Very soon a lot of Chinese tradesmen entered the country, which eventually resulted in the dependency of the VOC on these tradesmen for trade with China. In fact, the prosperity of the VOC depended on Inter-Asian trade, so in fact they were mostly dependent on the Chinese tradesmen from Batavia who naturally had the best trade contacts. Both parties needed each other, so peace and order was required.

However, the Dutch in Batavia started to get more and more annoyed by the privileges the Chinese had; they were a bit jealous. The Chinese were virtually equal to the Dutch on the level of status and this was an important deal for the Dutch, who felt superior to the Chinese. Just the Dutch and the Chinese paid taxes and this made a lot of people angry...

One of the branches that were mainly under control by the Chinese was, for instance, the growth of sugar in the Ommelanden of Batavia. The bigger part of the work was done by large amounts of Chinese koelies, who were hired by Chinese entrepreneurs. This resulted in an enormous growth of the Chinese population in the area reigned by the VOC in and around Batavia. Right before 1740 approximately half of the population in and around Batavia was Chinese.

Even around 1690 they tried to limit the immigration from China. The koelies were legally excluded from everything. They can be compared to our 'illegal aliens' of this time. So, for the Chinese traders it became more and more favourable to hire koelies: it was not possible to earn taxes for illegal Chinese. A well known vicious circle that is still applicable! This way it was possible for an extensive army of completely illegal, exploited Chinese labourers to rise in the Ommelanden. They were so afraid of being handed over to the Dutch authorities, that they did not even make demands to improve their situation of living. Moreover, the Dutch (as corrupt as they were) simply participated in these practises up to the level of the Governor-General: this way everybody had cheap labourers and so an economical balance developed between the Dutch, the Chinese and the koelies.

And this went terribly wrong....

From 1720 on the sugar market slowly collapsed. The European markets became satisfied; moreover the competition from Brazil (which was cheaper) became bigger. Dozens of Chinese sugar tradesmen went bankrupt and with them the koelies. This way great unemployment arose and this almost automatically led to revengeful gangs of koelies who, without money or food, saw no other way out. Evidently nothing was done by Batavia to lessen the problems because that way their own corrupt practises would be discovered.

In July 1740 it was announced that all koelies from the Ommelanden would be transferred to the Dutch stations on Ceylon (Galle). The rumour that during the transfer the koelies would be thrown overboard was quickly born. True or not: the exploited Chinese revolted. Large killing and plundering gangs roamed through the Ommelanden and they even tried to attack Batavia.

In the night of 8 October the run on Batavia could barely be rejected. Nobody dared to go in the Ommelanden anymore! That is when the rumour started that the Chinese in Batavia wanted to cooperate with the Chinese in the Ommelanden.

On 9 October, the houses of over 5000 Chinese living within the walls of Batavia were searched. This went completely out of hand: for three days in a row every Chinese was murdered. Even already captured Chinese and Chinese that were registered in 'hospitals' were killed. Even the government gave out a reward for every decapitated head... Order was reinstated after a few days by that same government. From that moment on the Chinese were allowed to live only in special districts. In Batavia that would be the Glodok district, where a lot of Chinese still live.

Very soon after the massacres they started searching the accountable : : for the first time the highest authorities from Batavia had to account for their actions at the Heeren XVII in Amsterdam! One of the responsible authorities Governor-General Valckenier died while he was taken into temporary arrest. Another responsible authority, the next Governor-General van Imhoff died in 1750.

And then the cover up came again.

It is estimated that 5,000 - 10,000 victims fell in three days. A preacher in Batavia even made it look like the massacre was carried out with Gods help... But even then there were people who protested and so the Heeren XVII were forced to take action.

In 1902 (during the pacification of Aceh!) even a pamphlet appeared: "The murder of 10,000 harmless Chinese was never punished. One of the most important people responsible, Governor-General Valckenier, died in prison and the Heeren XVII declared the trial that was run against him" abolished by death".The case would be forever covered up."❞
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Advice from past US presidents to their successors. One of which, as we now know, is definitely not hearing them.

❝Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt❞
Abraham Lincoln [1861 – 1865]

❝Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases❞
John Adams [1797 – 1801]

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Alinor d'Aquitaine, 1122-1204.
The Greeks and Romans left us in the dark ages along with a number of very shallow and inconsiderable sculptors. This must be the time in history when we European touched the bottom of this art. In this case the wait lasted 2 centuries until the Renaissance and its prodigious artists like Michelangelo.
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Then and Now
I visited another museum today ➊ and the exhibit which has impressed me most is a 20 m long Gallo-Roman barge notably used to carry the stones Romans needed in 15 AD to build Aventicum ➋. It could take of up 10 tons of rock which were sourced in quarries located on the other side of the lake.

So we have wooden barges on water blown by wind versus trucks rolling on asphalted roads powered by diesel fuel.
➡➋ The largest town and capital of Roman Switzerland
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The birth of the food processing industries, of disposable packaging, of convenience food and of our modern consumerism and waste producing society.
Back around 1830, this industry relied on the range of products supplied by the agricultural hinterland and overseas colonies. The oldest of these industries was sugar refining. Small establishments began to multiply: canning factories, biscuit makers, chocolate makers, breweries. Factories also began to emerge, making Olibet biscuits, Tobler chocolate, or the Rödel canning factory. Four oil mills processed the growing quantity of peanuts from Senegal. Many manufacturers and traders in liqueurs, apéritifs and rum benefited from sales in Paris or overseas.
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Toilets in Roman Times
A splendid and detailed article on a topic that concerns all of us. A little extract showing why we knew so little about that particular problem until fairly recently.

 ❝In 1913, when Italian excavator Giacomo Boni excavated this room, toilets were an unmentionable topic. In his report, he seems to mistake the remains of the holey benches for something much more sensational: part of an elaborate mechanism that, he speculated, would have pumped water and provided power for the palace above. Boni's prudish sensibilities wouldn't let him recognize what was before his very eyes, says Jansen. “He couldn't imagine it was a toilet.” ❞

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Written in July 1912, Author Unknown.
104 years ago a scientifically literate Australian was beginning to get so upset by his observations and ponderings that he managed to have his thoughts published in the local paper. We know now that this has had absolutely no influence on world events but from experience I am sure he felt better afterward.
❝The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries.❞
The Shoalhaven Telegraph, Wed 10 Jul 1912
Via: +Gord Wait
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