From here to Mars and back again

Posted in: Allmän on 21 January, 2018 by Sjoerd

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What do you do when you want to take a break from pondering about the issues on our planet. Well, you could terraform Mars. Together with your flatmates. At least that’s what I do, once a week or so, and it feels great to make some concret accomplishments for humanity.

Okay, the above needs some elaboration. Some of my flatmates are quite into (board)gaming, and this also brings out the inner geek in me. So when one of flatmates introduced me and the others to this boardgame called Terraforming Mars, I was sold at first sight. Explaining how this game works, is not doable in a few lines. One look at the playing field gives you an idea:














Fun fact: the game is developed by the Swede Jacob Fryxelius and his brothers, and that helps explaining the popularity. More importantly, it unites the whole corridor during this long wintery nights. Although, ‘the whole’ is a bit exaggerated as Terraforming Mars has a maximum of five players. But I warn you, if it happens to be that your future Swedish flatmate has this game and invites you to play along, then know that it will take at least three, maybe four or five, hours to get it over with. You can tell from my flatmates’ faces that transforming Mars into a habitable place is not for the faint-hearted:














Tonight, the ‘begeisterung’ to play Terraforming Mars is absent, which is not too bad. I could at least write you this post. I can’t be too much in the clouds the coming weeks, as my next course is pretty down-to-earth: it’s time for Environmental & Animal Ethics.

Vi ses!


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Tillbaka i Linköping

Posted in: Allmän on 15 January, 2018 by Sjoerd

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I’m back in town, and there was no time for slow adjustments: there was a deadline for my current course Ethics & Migration. Last weekend I handed in the paper, and now I’m working on the presentation for coming Friday. As my paper will be questioned by an opponent, and I will question my paper’s opponent, an interesting debate is likely to take place.

Meanwhile, the hedonism of Amsterdam has left my body, so I can work again on pursuing a healthy and sober life. Cycling is not an option, so I tried out that other activity you can doy with your legs: running. This morning I surprised myself by waking up early and going for a run near Ryds Motionscentrum: a nearby forest with running tracks, outdoor fitness thingies and frisbee golf. The good thing is that you can get changed in the little building or, in my case, take off my winter jacket, before going all out. The temperatures are far below zero, and that explains the empty dressing room. Still, running was pretty doable and a good preparation for that day I can take my bike out again.


Start of the track.

On my way home again. You wouldn’t say, but I was actually quite happy at this moment.


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Listen up!

Posted in: Allmän on 9 January, 2018 by Sjoerd

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Still in the Netherlands, still working on some papers. Life hasn’t changed so far: which is not strange if you know that I don’t really see any added value in New Year resolutions. I personally think that one of the things a philosopher ought to do is emphasize the absurdity of the ordinary, but I won’t elaborate on this regarding resolutions. On the contrary, I have formulated some resolutions for my coming semester in Sweden: I want to blend in more with the Swedish people, by joining a club (reading, dancing, you name it) and I want to discover more of Sweden’s music scene  (as the clubbing isn’t too interesting for an Amsterdam-native), by going to gigs and festivals, such as Nörrköping’s Where The Music Is.

Especially during a long and dark winter, when life is mostly confined to my room and university, listening to music is one the few things that keeps me motivated. Sometimes it gives me the energy to get me out of bed, sometimes it allows me too focus, sometimes it works as a catalyst for emotions and sometimes it makes me dancing (mostly electronic music, that is). So I share with you some of the albums that currently give me the thrills:

The best wake-up call possible. Searching for Sugar Man is the eponymous album from the documentary about Sixto Rodriguez, a promising artist in the 70s whose music was unheard of in the States (his home country). However he became famous in South-Africa during the Apartheid, without knowing it.

My favourite series has a great soundtrack, especially the acoustic cover of The Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’ is astounding.

I’m not a religious person, yet this Christian classical music by Estonian Arvo Pärt gives me great focus.

When I hear this music, I dreaming about going to South-America, a continent I never visited.

Who says electronic music doesn’t go hand-in-hand with studying? Tycho’s chilltronics definitely do the trick.

I used to be somewhat of a ‘wigga’ during my teenage years: but of all the rap I listened to, only some albums remained. Like this one.

I discovered this Aussie girl during a festival in The Netherlands last summer and her multi-instrumentalist approach and energy is unmatched. Apparently, Tash Sultana has been touring three years consecutively and she won’t stop until she dies.

My all-time favourite! Jim Morrison’s poetry is unmatched, ideal music for bedtime.

But if I don’t want to go to bed, then I prefer some hypnotic house: unfortunately, these sounds are not to be found in Linköping.

However, this Faroese singer is bringing her beautiful voice to neighbouring Nörrköping in the near future. Time to realize my new year resolution…


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Being serious about humor

Posted in: Allmän on 3 January, 2018 by Sjoerd

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Happy New Year!

Although I’m technically still ‘on vacation’ in my home country, the LiU is calling me and whispering in my ear: “Sjoerd, don’t you forget about all those papers that you need to write?” So Ihave settled myself today in an empty restaurant of the University of Amsterdam, with a nice view over the, currently very stormy, skyline-lacking capital of the Netherlands.

As the year is still young, promising and hopeful,  I have thought about taking a more lighthearted approach to my paper for the first course Ethical Theory & Moral Practise (which I chose to redo). That’s why I’m working on something within the ethics of humor. In one of my previous posts I mentioned that the phrase ‘the ethics of’ can be followed by almost everything, and ‘humor’ is no exception. At first hearing, you might raise an eyebrow or two, but give the idea of jokes having an ethical dimension some mental space and you come to surprising insights.

My starting point is that jokes are often perceived and judged on, what it is called, an aesthetic scale, with good jokes on the one end of the spectrum and bad jokes on the other. However, sometimes a joke is also perceived and judged on a moral scale (from right to wrong), but never because ‘the joke is morally right’. Also, one person can judge the joke only on its aesthetics and another person can judge it both on its aesthetics and its morals. And what are the intentions of the person making the joke: amusing or harming? Moreover, who can be blameworthy for humour? Is it only the person who makes a morally wrong joke, or also the laughing audience?

I’m not sure where this train of thought leads to, but hopefully in a 2500-word paper.

See you!


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Lagom anyone?

Posted in: Allmän on 31 December, 2017 by Sjoerd

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Even though I temporarily left Sweden a week ago, it turned out that Sweden hasn’t left me: my parents decided to give me a book called Lagom, the Swedish art of life in balance. Lagom means literally ‘not too little, not too much, just right’,  and it is deeply ingrained in the Swedish way of living, being applicable to almost everything.

I have no clue why this image appears upside down…

A perfect example of lagom is the nickname Jonas Gardell gave to his country: the Land of Semi-skimmed  Milk (‘mellanmjölkens land’), although the way Gardell, an extravert gay comedian, uses this phrase reveals the ambiguous relationship Swedes have with being lagom. The book I got elaborates on the practise of lagom in food, in friendships, in design, in sustainability and, moreover, in happiness.

You could say that the Swedish lagom is somehow related to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s way of defining virtues. According to him, a virtue is developed by practise and it is always a mean between two vices. When it comes to pleasures the virtue is temperance, with the vice of excess being indulgence and the vice of deficiency being inhibition. In other words, when one is virtuously temperate, he is enjoying pleasures in a lagom manner.

With New Years Eve coming up in a few hours, I’m doubting my ability to party in a lagom manner: Amsterdam is a typical city of excess, and I’m just of my environment, so I probably surrender to the circumstances.

Have a good evening!


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Sjoerd van Beelen

Sjoerd van Beelen
Tjena! What does one do in a world that faces many issues? Well, one option is going to Sweden and studying Applied Ethics at LiU. So I did, leaving my cosy hometown of Amsterdam and all behind, except for my lovely road bike. This year I ponder about ethical issues, but not only that: I hope to enjoy Swedish nature, equip myself with valuable skills and discover in the broadest sense.

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