Recently someone asked me if I had ever been to Madurodam in The Hague, an attraction many tourists and Dutch people visit, especially with kids, and my answer was ‘no’. Someone also recently asked me why Dutch DJs (music producers, really) Tiësto, Afrojack and Armin van Buuren were world-famous to which I pertly answered that Afrojack didn’t count in my books and that the other two make dance/trance music that the Dutch seem to make best.
Now that Armin van Buuren is just that much more popular than Tiësto and considered an export product like some sort of cheese, he’s now also featured in Madurodam.
As a DJ myself I am a bit miffed that Madurodam has set up turntables (you know, for vinyl records) as an attraction when in fact Van Buuren plays off CD players. I don’t care what he uses, but the art of using turntables is and will always be totally different than using CDs.
Madurodam, you’re willfully misleading children. It would be like giving them a chance to play with acrylic paints trying to mimic their favourite street graffiti artist.
Hundreds of motorists on Dutch motorways have been wrongly fined because of an error caused by speed cameras, according to Dutch news RTL. The government has known of this specific problem of mistaking vans, camper vans and cars with cycle racks for vehicles with trailers, such as caravans, which have a maximum speed limit of 90 km/h instead of 130 km/h on most motorways, since 2009. However, they said it didn’t affect enough people to do something about it so they just sat on it.
The software of the speed cameras will be updated after all and people will be refunded even though the government claims that the fines given in error were not that many.
It’s nice to see some effective journalism once in a while.
Dutch people who accept payments in the new Internet currency Bitcoin will have to pay income tax on the funds they receive. Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem confirmed this two weeks ago after parliament had asked questions about Bitcoin, Nu.nl reports.
According to the minister, the “alternative virtual currency” cannot be seen as “electronic money” because it fails the definition set by the Dutch law. Dijsselbloem also reported that approximately 2% of all Bitcoin users in the world are Dutch, and that these Dutch owners possess about 20 million euro worth of Bitcoin. At the time of writing 1 Bitcoin represents about 75 euro.
Represents a claim on the person or organisation who issues it.
Is issued in exchange for money to make payments with.
Can be used to pay both the issuer and others.
Since Bitcoins do not represent a claim on the issuer and they aren’t necessarily issued in exchange for money, they aren’t electronic money. The reason you still have to pay income tax is simply because the law on income tax doesn’t mention money. Any form of income, whether that income consists of money, goods or Bitcoins, is susceptible to being taxed. The problems start when you have to pay these taxes though, because the Dutch tax office only accepts money. Your revenue will somehow have to be valued in euro before you can calculate how much you have to pay.
I can well imagine that the belastingdienst (tax office) isn’t going to chase down small time Bitcoin users just yet. I remember the first time I became self-employed and asked the belastingdienst for a VAT number. The man on the other end of the line laughed at me and said they could not be bothered to issue me my number for the couple of hundred guilders I expected to make that year.
Another complicating matter according to Engelfriet is that Bitcoins aren’t financial products either. That would mean you will have to pay VAT (‘btw’) over the Bitcoins you receive, which would make trading in Bitcoins less attractive for the Dutch.
OK, this is somewhat old news (in fact, Dutch Daily News covered it two months ago), but I still want to write about it because this follows up on earlier stories. Basically what I am trying to find out is how we, the Dutch, define Enlightenment ideals such as freedom, equality and happiness. It is clear that they are important to us, but we have been pursuing aspects of these ideals hundreds of years before theother Western nations did and as a result, when looking through a global lens, we seem to do everything exactly different.
So now a new study has come out that adds another piece to the puzzle. It appears that gender inequality is especially strong among working parents in the Netherlands. On the other hand the income of single men and women without children who work full-time jobs are exactly the same. I thought that was interesting. You’d expect at least some old-fashioned sexism to depress even those incomes by a couple of points. Perhaps that in the parts of our population where sexism is still rife (the Bible belt, anyone?) single, childless women with full-time jobs are rare.
If everybody is happy about this arrangement, then who I am to disagree? There is a difference between women being forced into inequality and women choosing inequality. Where things get weird is in relationships. The default Dutch marriage setting is that of community property (for now). The state sees a marriage as a contract between the state and two people. When the partners dissolve the wedding, the state typically demands that the high earner keeps supporting the low earner through alimony. What kind of incentives does an arrangement like that produce?
Here’s a party song called Scuba by a band called De Skaggerz.
A son goes to his father / Dad, I did something wrong / I quit school / Have been staring out the window instead / I cleaned out my bank account / Paid for everything myself / Who do you think you are? / Let me go!
De Skaggerz are, according to their own description, an “up-tempo party reggae band from Rotterdam and beyond. Up-tempo ska-reggae is our genre and because of our frequent excursions to hip hop we are impossible to pigeonhole.”
‘Skaggers’ is Irish slang for pasta, but skagging also means to come off methadone. This is according to the ever so reliable Internet so take those definitions with a grain of salt.
I heard this song last week on De Tweeminutenshow (‘the two minute show’), a program on Dutch pop radio station Pinguin Radio where bands can submit their own tracks. Each song gets two minutes on the show and the song that gets voted on the most gets played in full during next week’s show. At the time of writing you can still vote for Scuba.
(Video: YouTube / De Skaggerz. Image: crop from the video)
The company responsible for the Dutch rails, ProRail has got the green light to try and do something about the rabbit overpopulation at Amsterdam Sloterdijk station. Some of the rails resting on hills are slowly sinking due to the amount of rabbit holes dug by busy bunnies. The goal is to chase the rabbits out of their holes with ferrets and funny smelling products then plug the holes up.
I travel to Sloterdijk station several times a week by bus, and the sight of the cute brown and black little bunnies always cheers me up. I used to say to myself, if I saw three bunnies, it would bring good luck. Now I see at least 10-12 each time, which means it has to be a rabbit plague by now or I am the luckiest person in the world.
Back in 1999, I worked at a company near Sloterdijk station and could see the odd bunny hoping along a bike path, but I have seen the difference and the rabbits have clearly taken over the station area. I pointed out the rabbits once to a friend who said, “but that’s food!’, as in yes, we could hunt them and open up a wild game restaurant and feed lots of people.
I don’t think these gentle tactics are going to work, as rabbits are solid breeders. They really are cute, though, and I would say close to becoming an urban attraction.
Harry, 53, lost his job as a street cleaner in The Hague due to budget cuts. Harry now gets benefits while he looks for another job. To keep his benefits, Harry has to work as a street cleaner (he has the experience, right?), but for 400 euro less a month. Keeping Harry on the streets sweeping means the government gets the exact same work done, but pays Harry less, so Harry went to the media with this one.
Usually a re-integration into the labour market job is to help people find a new job, so how does this work then? If Harry was learning some new skills in order to get a new job, it wouldn’t have made the papers.
Last Wednesday a court in The Hague ordered the Dutch government to pay owners of marijuana bars (called coffeeshops in the Netherlands) the damages caused by the introduction of the so-called ‘weed pass’, NRC writes.
Last year the government introduced the requirement for coffeeshop patrons to register in order to make it impossible for foreign customers to purchase marijuana. The requirement was dropped later that year, but by that time coffeeshops in the provinces of Limburg, Noord-Brabant and Zeeland had already seen a decline in income as local customers also stayed away.
Coffeeshop customers are still required to prove residency. The court felt the extra requirement of obtaining a weed pass was a “disproportionately large infringement of the interest of coffeeshop patrons.”
Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten has announced that he will appeal the verdict.
An enormous cliff wall on the planet Mercury has been given a Dutch name. NASA named the cliff after the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship Duyfken, the first European ship to reach Australia in 1606. The Duyfken cliff is 500 kilometres long and lies in the southern hemisphere of Mercury.
Industrial design student Lodewijk Bosman, 25, and Hidde van der Straaten, 28, founded “The Upcycle” in university city Delft in January 2012 to exploit a typically Dutch problem. With so many bikes [in the Netherlands] come parking problems, and if they are left in the wrong place or simply abandoned, the authorities pick them up and take them to the pound.
Lodewijk and Hidde [buy these] abandoned bikes and parts [...].
A Upcycle bedside lamp, priced at 88 euro, consists of a bike light with a new LED bulb fitted to a stem made of a few chain links and intertwined spokes — all standing on a wooden base wrapped in plaited inner tubes.
Dutch cities impound tens of thousands of bikes each year. Sometimes they are oprhan bicycles, abandoned by their last owner, but often cities just steal bikes under the guise of keeping bicycle parking manageable and keeping the streets clean. The bikes are stored at a depot, which in the case of Amsterdam, is far way from downtown. The rightful owners can retrieve their bikes after paying a fee—a fine, as the city spin doctors call it. The depot is so far out of town that there is even a cab service in Amsterdam that advertises its rides to the depot. As a result, lots of people don’t bother collecting their bikes, and those that are not retrieved are sold off to second-hand bike shops and to The Upcycle apparently.