Label Cloud

dinsdag 26 februari 2008

Turkish Islamic Reformation

Robert Piggott (BBC) tells us that "Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion. The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran. "

The Hadith is a collection of oral traditions related to the acts and words of Muhammad. It is regarded as an important tool of interpreting the Koran and acts as a basis for the Sharia. Turkish scholars are now reinterpreting the texts in order to modernize the teachings to a modern society, based on the same spirit of logic on which islam is purported to be founded. Many of the prophet's words that are in the texts, were actually added later to serve the purposes of that time. Like the Bible, the Hadith knows many writers. The intention is to update the islamic religion by going back to its original roots and by reading what it says, not what the reader wants to read.

Bunnies are evil!

MEMRI has translated another episode of the Palestinian childrens TV show "Pioneers of Tomorrow". After having killed off our good friend Farfour, they needed a new mascotte. Now the show features the Hamas Bunny Assud, who urges the viewers to - wach out children, there comes a big word - boycott Danish goods and threatens to kill Danes over the Muhammad cartoons. Apparently, we westerners don't understand the mercy of the prophet, which of course means we should die. The Danes have published the cartoons because, get this, the muslims aren't faithful enough anymore nowadays. No, the Danes published those cartoons because we, in the west, have fought (against the christians) for the right to laugh with anything and everyone. By the way, here are the cartoons. They claim that the prophet is filled with mercy, yet they themselves profess hatred and violence. Here are some more big words children: contradictio in termines. And no children, becoming a martyr is not an ideal to live up to. It would not make you more of a hero, it would just make you more dead. Is it just me, or is there something seriously wrong with these people? If I were a moderate, sane muslim the makers of these kind of programs would fucking annoy me for making me look like a lunatic.

Conclusion: bunnies are evil!!!!:

donderdag 21 februari 2008

Little Tortilla Boy

Different takes on Pablo Francisco's original sketch.

Some animation

Theme planet: Bunny Situation

Blockbuster Ad: Carl & Ray

Gopher broke

Vizzavi ad

OMFG: (Spoiled brat)²

zondag 17 februari 2008

That other white meat

Most of you know Jeff Dunham's Achmed the Dead Terrorist by now, but let's not forget the amazing Peanut.

P.S.: Walter for President!

woensdag 13 februari 2008


Budapest consists of the twin cities of Buda and Pest, which were united in 1873. The ancestors of today's Hungarians (or Magyars) arrived at the end of the ninth century. The clan of Árpád settled on what is now the south of the city. It was their King's brother Buda who gave the name to the west bank of this settlement.

Castle Hill - "During the 14th century, the Angevin kings from France established Buda as the royal seat of centralized power. They built a succession of palaces on the Várhegy or Castle Hill, reaching its height in the apogee during the Renaissance times under the reign of "Good King" Mátyás (1458-90) ..., with a golden age of prosperity and a flourishing of the arts. Hungary's catastrophic defeat by the invading Turks at Mohács in 1526, led by Suleiman I, the Magnificent Sultan, paved the way for the Turkish occupation of Buda and Pest. It lasted for 160 years until a pan-European multinational army besieged Buda Castle for six weeks, finally recapturing it at the 12th attempt, with lots of lives lost on both sides." (Buda Castle)

The most interesting sights on Castle Hill are the Royal Palace, Mátyás Church and the Fisherman's Bastion. You can visit these sights in about half a day.

Fisherman's Bastion - "The Halászbástya or Fisherman's Bastion is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style. ... It was designed and built between 1895 and 1902. Its seven towers represent the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin in 896. The Bastion takes its name from the guild of fishermen which was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages. It is a viewing terrace, with many stairs and walking paths."

The Bastion is a very beautiful place in itself, but besides this it also gives you a very nice view of the opposite bank of the Danube and of the nearby - spiky - Parliament building. If you start exploring the Hill from this side, you first pass the Army Museum's excellent building, then stroll through a few picturesque streets, before arriving at the Mátyás Church. The Bastion can be found directly behind it.

Mátyás Church - The Parish Church of Our Lady was buillt between the 13th and 15th centuries. Her name refers to King Mátyás Corvinus - the Just - who has greatly enlarged and embellished it. During the 16th century a large part of Hungary was ruled by the Ottomans. In this period, in 1541, the church was turned into a mosque. Much of the original decorations were lost. After the liberation of Buda, most of the building was destroyed, later to be rebuild in a baroque style by Franciscan Friars. At the end of the 19th century the building was restored to its original 13tch century plan, but neo-gothic elements were added as well.

The above cited history lesson is not a reason in itself to visit the church. Aesthetics on the other hand is more than enough reason. When we were there restoration works were in progress, so the tower spire wasn't very visible. The inside (for a moderate entrance fee) can be visited. While most of the buildings and other churches in Budapest are more baroque oriented, Mátyás Church has blended the catholic tradition with the orthodox style of "bombing" every available mm of space with religious images. Needless to say that the overall impression is quite ... well, impressive. It seems that on a fairly regular basis it is possible to attend concerts in the building as well.

The Royal Palace - The first royal residence was built in the 13th century by King Béla IV (who donated his daughter to god because Hungary survived the Mongolian onslaught - more on that later). Since that period however, the first and subsequent castles were repeatedly destroyed during ensuing wars. Its present form is reminiscent of the Habsburg rule over (and from 1867 till 1918 more or less with) Hungary. It is not original however since the Axis used the building as a last major stronghold during the siege of Budapest (December 1944-February 1945). The castle was rebuild once again. No longer the central seat of power, it was turned into a historical site.

"The new Communist government of Hungary considered the Royal Palace a symbol of the former regime. During the 1950s the palace was gutted and all the interiors were destroyed. Important exterior details were also demolished. Buda Castle became a cultural centre with three museums and the home of the National Széchényi Library." We visited the National Gallery, where (as you can imagine) Hungarian national art is on display. Personally I was particularly fond of the baroque and late 19th century paintings. Very vivid colors and evocative scenes portraying mostly national history or christian imagery. If you're into art it's worth a visit. The only problem I can mention, is the same for all national museums: too much. After about 12 different rooms it gets hard to remember what you have actually seen. But still, it was a nice place to visit and not too expensive (especially if you're a student); and we were there at exactly the right time since it had just begun to rain.

Initially I also wanted to visit the Széchényi Library, because I felt I owed it to my profession somehow (which is bullshit of course). The Library is said to house a superb collection of books, amongst others the Corviani, a collection of ancient books and manuscripts belonging to King Mátyás. Interesting no doubt, but only for a quick stroll. And since we don't understand a word of Hungarian (which is not so surprising since the language only resembles itself), we thought better of it.

Another sight of the castle is the Mátyás Fountain, which is situated at the front side of the palace. I expect it to look a bit more appealing in summer, when there is water actually running down the fountain. Right next to that you can find the Lion's Gate (see picture above).

Gellért Hill - This hill lies to the south of Castle Hill. It's a nice spot to go for a walk. Along the way and on top you can find battlements which act as observation points for a view of Pest. Unfortunately for us it was a bit foggy when we were there, but you can't have everything I suppose. Besides trees, there are a few other sights along the way. The most interesting sights are the thermal baths that are situated here, but these will be discussed in a separate post.

Rock Church - I thought this was a church with a musical theme, where the lord would be praised with electric guitars. That was, as it turned out, a bit too optimistic a view. Rock Church can also be translated as Cave Church. So, it's basically a church in a rock. Apparently same religious folks found the concept of Lourdes very nifty, so they made their own version in 1926. For my half Polish girlfriend there was one interesting artifact in there, i.e. a copy of the Black Madonna of Czestechova. We're not religious people, but we do like religious art and history.

Liberation Monument - On top of the hill you can find this monument, which commemorates the liberation of Budapest from the nazis by the Russian army in 1947. To the Hungarians this ushered in a period of communist repression, which is why they removed the statue of the Worker at its base and moved it to Memento Park. The monument consist of a woman on a 14m high pedestal, flanked by two statues representing progress and the battle with evil.

Citadel - After having suppressed an uprising in 1848-9 the Habsburg rulers built this fortification as a reminder of who was boss. Today it houses a restaurant, a hotel, a nightclub and a museum about the Second World War in Budapest. We didn't visit the museum, since we had already seen the very interesting House of Terror (more on that later) and we reckoned that if we wanted to see nazi fortifications and camps, we'd rather do that in Germany and Poland. At our hostel we met a merry band of Irishman (with who we spent our last evening in Budapest in a very pleasant and mostly drunk way), who told us that it is worth a visit though.

Statue of St. Géllert - The hill is named after a saint called Géllert who lived in the 11th century. In his efforts to christianize these parts he was so persistent, and therefore so utterly annoying, that eventually people got fed up with his preaching, stuffed him in a barrel and tossed him off the hill into the Danube. On the spot where it is believed he was thrown off, a statue was erected in 1904. A spring that bubbles up here is used to create a fountain. Not when we were there. That's for the summer period I guess.

maandag 11 februari 2008


January was dominated once more by exams. I had my last one the 28th. Luckily Hammy and I had a little holiday planned to the fair city of Budapest (Hungary) from the 1st to the 8th of February. We have had a lovely week (although unfortunately there wasn't any snow), and I can recommend anyone to go there for a quick getaway. In the next few posts I'll be giving a small rundown of the things we have visited.

We have kept more or less to the traditional sights during day, and we tried to find some nice bars (with live music when possible) during the evening. The - touristic - heart of the city is divided roughly into four parts, comprising several districts: Castle Hill (and surroundings) and Gellert Hill & Taban on the Buda side (Districts I-II & XI), around the Parliament and Central Pest on the Pest side (Districts V-VIII, IX, XIII). To visit most of what there is to see, you need about four days in my opinion. In this period it is possible to see the Royal palace, the Fisherman's Bastion, Mátyás Church and Géllert Hill in Buda; the Parliament, St. Stephen's Basilica, Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, Andrassy Street, Vaci street, Liberty Square, the House of Terror, the Opera and the National Museum in Pest. If you time your days right you can also visit the excellent thermal baths: Géllert Hotel, Széchenyi, Rudas and Lúkacs.

More details about these locations - with pictures - are to come. Alas, another holiday is over and real life is in need of attention once more.

Next post - Buda
Pest (1)