First Lines: The Hate U Give

What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent?

Starr, a sixteen-year old girl and her friend get pulled over by a cop, and he gets shot. She wants justice for him. But he was black, and possibly a drug dealer, or a gang member, or both. But wanting justice and getting it, are two entirely different things. So, she has to ask herself, “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent?”

Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give is an incredibly now book. It deals with #BlackLivesMatter, police brutality, race and racism, finding out who you are, and while it gave me the all the right feels and messages and pushed all the buttons that should make me go, “well, this is quite excellent,” it didn’t quite connect.

At this point, I was going to make an ass of myself by sounding incredibly white, explaining that, for me, this book might just have been a bit too ‘black,’ with all its black slang (“black people don’t talk like that all time, do they?”), black hip-hop-rap-pop-culture references (the title is derived from a Tupac song), black Jesus, black power and black this and black that. And then I saw Spike Lee’s most excellent BlacKkKlansman, and I decided that, no, my pretty white ass just needed some kicking.

Because knowing you live your life on the lowest difficulty setting is one thing, but not being an ass about it is something else altogether.

Book read
Angie Thomas — The Hate U Give
First line
I shouldn’t have come to this party.

How the GDPR Reminded Me To Always Use UTC When Working With Dates

Internet tech stuff ahead warning.

Due to the GDPR, I recently spent way too much time on creating a Cookie Wall of Doom. Unless you explicitly opt-in to some level of tracking, you cannot use the site. To prevent the customer from having Cookie Wall of Doom shoved in their face on every damned page, we set a cookie, which stores your preference for a year.

At first, I set the expiry with max-age=31536000, as I could not recall that that there would be issues, beyond no support in IE<9. (But if you insist on still using those, you are bound to have bigger challenges online than a cookie wall.) Alas, reports came in that in Internet Explorer 11 the Cookie Wall of Doom came back at the start of every new browser session.

So, back to good old expires:

var expiryDate = new Date();
expiryDate.setFullYear(expiryDate.getFullYear() + 1);
document.cookie = 'cookie-consent-pref=foo;; expires=' + expiryDate + '; path=/;';

Update the code, patch it all around, deploy all the things, and on to do something useful.

Alas, sad trumpet.

As it turns out, all browsers play ball with this implementation, except the two from Microsoft. Those appear to really insist that when the spec says that you should use a date-in-GMTString-format, you actually use a date in GTMString format. (And never you mind that toGMTString() is deprecated and you should toUTCString() instead.)

Using the code above, expiryDate gets set as “Wed Jun 06 2018 12:10:24 GMT+0200 (Central Europe Daylight Time)”, which works just fine in about every browser but Internet Explorer and Edge, who will claim that the cookie is set to expire at the end of the session. Which is ungood, and in this case, shows you Cookie Walls of Doom when it shouldn’t.

So another round of updating the code (document.cookie = 'cookie-consent-pref=foo;; expires=' + expiryDate.toUTCString() + '; path=/;'), patching it all around, deploying all the things, and back to doing something useful.

Remember, kids, always use UTC. It’ll save you a lot of frustration.

Seen Live: Three Free Gigs

Yeah yeah yeah. I know we’ve been here before: I intend to write some more stuff for my website, and then nothing happens, stuff keeps piling up, and in the end, all I’ve written in a year are a bunch book and gig reviews, and I am not even getting those done at the moment. Well, no more. I’m just gonna.


The Missus’s father and aunt sing in a choir. Earlier this year, that choir had a concert in a lovely local church at the yearly Gluren bij de Buren event. And it was lovely.

Seen live
Klein Kunst Koor: “Crossing Borders” at the Lutherse Kerk for Gluren bij de buren Amersfoort on March 11, 2018

Wende played a short set in Amersfoort for Record Store Day to promote her new album Mens. Like her previous album, Last Resistance, it’s a mostly electronic affair, and not exactly my cup of tea. I mean, she is a great singer and performer and she is really into it, but I just stood there and I didn’t get it. We seem to have grown apart somewhere. Which is fine, as not everybody has to enjoy all the things. Perhaps we’ll meet again, somewhere down the road.

Seen live
Wende at Velvet Amersfoort for Record Store Day, April 21, 2018

Last weekend it was time for the 20th Amersfoort Jazz festival. Free music, just around the corner. Due to reasons, we only saw the one act, but man, Shirma Rouse (and Band) would have been a tough act to follow. Rouse used to be one of The Netherlands’s most renowned backing vocalist, but now she’s out in front. She played an energetic set containing a lot of Aretha Franklin material, some of her own songs, and some more covers. Would I have know about her Shirma sings Aretha tour before it was over, I would not have minded more of that. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Seen live
Shirma Rouse and Band at Amersfoort Jazz on May 26, 2018

First Lines: Het verdriet van België

Hugo Claus’s semi-autobiographical Het verdriet van België (The Sorrow of Belgium) is Belgium’s Big and Important Book about World War II. It covers a lot of themes — growing up, family, Flemish small-town life, collaboration — as seen through the eyes of an impressionable child. I found it a bit of a slog.

Mostly, I guess, because I found the protagonist, Louis Seynaeve, to be an unsympathetic and insufferable git. In the novel’s first part he’s mostly tolerable as an impressionable eleven-year old, safely tucked away from the tumultuous world with the nuns in a boarding school, but even there he is bossy and cruel. And as soon as he’s pulled from those confines, it goes wrong. His school work suffers, he enjoys a brief stint in the Flemish branch of the Hitler Youth … sure, having a family that mostly sympathizes with the Germans doesn’t really help, but still: grow a pair.

What also didn’t really help, is that we find out that Louis is supposed to be the novel’s author. In the second part we learn he wrote the first part, but by then it was too late: the narrator had become too unreliable to really care.

I liked the language though. It’s Dutch, but the Flemish use words and phrases that are completely unlike what we would use over here. That was fun.

And I loved, loved, hashtag sparkly-heart (#💖) loved Louis’s grandmother, Bomama. She has all the best lines. For example, when Louis admonishes her that she shouldn’t repay injury with injury because Jesus would not do such a thing, not even when the Jews hammered nails through His hands and feet, she replied: “Well, I’m not Jesus,” before finishing a game of solitaire. Or when a nun first learned about skiing and didn’t believe such a thing was possible. Her reaction? “Your Jesus did walk on water.” Classic. (When she waxes poetical that heartache may hurt, but that it’s also the salt of life, one of Louis’s aunts has the equally brilliant comeback, “I’d rather have a salted herring.”)

Book read
Hugo Claus — Het verdriet van België
First line
Dondeyne had een van de zeven Verboden Boeken onder zijn schort verstopt en Louis meegelokt.

Overheard at Lunch

“So, Easter, last weekend, did you listen to the Matthäus-Passion?”

“No, but I did listen to Jeanny

And in my head, the following scene played out:

And so it came to pass that on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, Jeanny went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices she had prepared. She found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and she went in, but found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
And it came to pass, as she was much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as she was afraid, and bowed down her face to the earth, they said unto her,

Sie kommen
Sie komm’n, um Ihm zu holen
Sie werden Ihm nicht finden
Niemand wird Ihm finden!