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April 23, 2014

Young democrats to distribute free ecstasy pills

Filed under: Health,Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:42 pm

The youth wing of the Democrats 66 (aka D66) has announced plans to hand out free ecstasy (XTC) pills in some big cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht over the next two weeks. The goal is to demonstrate that it is better to take XTC freely, as in, still illegal but turning a blind eye to it like with marijuana and other ‘soft drugs’ than ingest bad quality pills. Since XTC often needs to be tested, some of us are thinking, ‘well just don’t use it then’, but the reality is people will continue to do so and some will die.

With King’s Day around the corner and festival season about to kick off, D66 wants to make drug use safer and have it regulated rather than remain illegal and hazardous even deadly for people’s health. Since everything has a price, these free pills will be covered by excise taxes, or duties.

If anyone out there gets pills from D66, we’d love to know because that’s a bold move. I bet some people are going to try it for the first time or sell them.

UPDATE: Reading more sources, the pills are fake ones, but D66 first reported as if they were real.

(Link: frontpage.fok.nl, Photo: DEA)

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April 22, 2014

Swimming for kids now also about swimming skills, not just safety

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 4:53 pm

Today the national swimming organisation (KNZB) has introduced its own swimming certificate, as they said they would last year. They believe in teaching children the front crawl (aka free style) and the back stroke, as opposed to the breast stroke, which is what children usually learn when they go for their national swimming pool organisation (NPZ) certificate.

The biggest difference between the two organisations is that the latter is all about swimming as a safety measure and the former is all about swimming as a sport. The KNZB claims children were not being taught properly and has developed a system that also helps children obtain their certificates faster, something I’m sure will please many a parent. However, having to choose which certificate is better for your kid will most probably come down to the price tag. A quick tour of the Internet tells me a Dutch swimming certificate costs somewhere between 200 and 1000 euro depending on many factors, like how many weeks a course takes.

If I had to shop for a course and it was just about swimming or safety, I would opt for one that taught swimming as a sport. In Canada, I learnt both how to swim and how to save someone from drowning, and if I remember correctly, it was part of the same course. The idea that Dutch children are taught the breast stroke to swim to safety, but are possibly taught nothing about helping others, even how to properly throw a lifebuoy, makes me uneasy. And I did put those skills to use once when I was about 8 and a smaller child’s floaters clicked off while they were in the deep end of a very slow day at the pool and mommy had popped out for some cigarettes.

(Link: trouw.nl, Photo looking across the nearby Wolderwijd from Harderwijk to Zeewolde, Flevoland, by Sjaak Kempe, some rights reserved)

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April 21, 2014

Dutch Rail’s slow replacement for high speed train keeps breaking down

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 3:14 pm

traxx-roel-hemkesIf you’ve followed the drama with Dutch Rail’s showpiece train Fyra, you’ll remember that they had to replace it because it kept embarrassing them by dropping parts on the rails and by not running as often as one would expect from a regular train service.

The replacement came in the form of Bombardier’s Traxx locomotives. According to Metro, the new train is not without its own problems. Last Friday the paper wrote that a Traxx train breaks down about 4.8 times a day on average. As a comparison, the Thalys, a high speed train run by a consortium of European countries that uses the same tracks, only breaks down once a day.

The malfunctions of the Traxx system are partially caused by a failure to connect the train to its overhead lines. A spokesperson for Dutch Rail told Metro that Thalys trains are more capable of restoring a connection to the overhead lines than Traxx locomotives.

A plan by transport company Arriva to operate an Amsterdam – Brussels connection on the high speed track was flat-out rejected by junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld last October. She sees no reason to take away the lucrative connection from state-owned Dutch Rail.

(Photo of a Traxx locomotive at Amsterdam Central Station by Roel Hemkes, some rights reserved)

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April 20, 2014

New Greetings from Holland

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 9:21 am

nwe-grten-uit-nhm-flickr

In 2009 four organisations decided it was time to reboot Dutch travel postcards, the ones containing cheese, windmills, cows, cheese, wooden shoes, cheese, cheese, tulips and cheese, amongst others. Have I mentioned cheese?

They asked the public to come up with new iconic images of the Netherlands and some 8,000 people responded by sending in photos, often reproducing, referencing or riffing off the same old icons. The resulting postcards were displayed in a travelling exhibition called Nieuwe Groeten Uit… and writer-photographer Hans Aarsman and writer Anna Woltz collected a selection of the cards in an almost-postcard-sized book of the same name.

Hans Aarsman told his publisher Nieuw Amsterdam in the video interview shown here: “You see a lot of family photography. For instance, there is picture of a father and son peeing off a boat together, taken from the back—you just know the mother took that photo. [...] You [to Woltz, ed.] wrote about how people photographed their pets, believing the result to be iconic images of the Netherlands. And the funny thing is sometimes that is true.”

The Nieuwe Groeten Uit… exhibit was organised by the short-lived Nationaal Historisch Museum and by FOAM, ANP Historisch Archief and BankGiro Loterij.

(Source photo: Flickr / Nationaal Historisch Museum)

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April 19, 2014

“Amsterdam, give Holocaust survivors their money back!”, says NIOD

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 1:39 pm

museumplein-jcm718What should a city do when its citizens survive the death camps and arrive home to find all their possessions stolen, even their homes (where now Nazi collaborators live)?

With possible answers ranging from “give them a hero’s welcome” to “do everything in your power to restore normality” to “charge them back taxes for property they haven’t had the use of”, after World War II was over, the city of Amsterdam chose the latter.

Three years ago university student Charlotte van den Berg stumbled upon 342 cases of retroactive taxes for Holocaust victims in Amsterdam’s city archives where she worked part-time. Toby Sterling reports:

Van den Berg notified city officials about the documents and received assurances they would be fully investigated. Now and then she checked in, only to learn that nothing had been done. [...] In desperation, she turned her findings over to Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool in March 2013.

There is a method that seems to be favoured by Dutch officials who wish to deal with the wrongs their predecessors committed long ago, whether they had assisted Nazis with persecuting Jews or killed civilians in the revolutionary Indonesian war, and that method is to let the passage of time finish what the evil-doers started.

Parool’s publication of Van den Berg’s findings in 2013 got the ball rolling though and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies started its own research. NIOD’s report is due later this month, but in the meantime details were leaked to the press. The institute will allegedly recommend that the city repay 400,000 euro in fines and 4.5 million euro in back taxes. That’s just for one very narrow category of taxes, “fees for long-term leases when the city owns the ground a house is built on”.

(Photo by Flickr user jcm718, some rights reserved. Here you see the Van Gogh Museum on Museumplein in Amsterdam. Currently a prime real estate location, Jewish owners of a house in this location had to sell the land because they couldn’t afford the costs involved in making the house liveable again and partly because of retroactive taxes, according to Nieuw Israëlitisch Weekblad)

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April 18, 2014

Startup invents ankle bracelet to avoid sprains

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 1:47 pm

Presented at the YES!Delft Network Event a few days ago, the Delft startup EXO-L has invented an ankle bracelet that stops sprains. It is custom made (even the colours) and contrary to tape or a brace, you can continue to move.

Inventor Marcel Fleuren has ankle problems himself, and tape and braces were not working for him, either. Since he wanted to continue playing football, a sport with a multitude of sprained ankles, he invented an alternative during his studies at the Delft University of Technology.

Using a 3D scanner, the EXO-L is made to measure as it comes off the printer.

Listen the testimonial of a young football player (in Dutch).

Exo-L Testimonial Micha from Exo-L on Vimeo.

(Link: www.omroepwest.nl, Photo by Wikimedia user Carolus Ludovicus, some rights reserved)

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April 17, 2014

Rare Medieval coins excavated in Utrecht

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 10:58 pm

20140417 Vroegmiddeleeuwse muntvondst Domplein  (11)

The ongoing excavations under the Dom Church of Utrecht have led to the finding of gold copies of tremisses, of the Madelinus type, issued from Dorestad, a large settlement of the province of Utrecht and an international trade hub of Northern Europe from the 7th to the mid 9th century. Also found at the same spot were silver sceattas, minted in England, Frisia (Friesland) and Jutland (Denmark) also around that period.

The coins denote a turbulent period in Dutch history when the Frisians and the Franks were trying to control the strategically located city of Utrecht.

The coins will be on display as of Friday 18 April at the Centraal Museum Utrecht.

(Link and photo: www.cultureelerfgoed.nl)

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April 16, 2014

Pop-up furniture that folds easily and warms your seat

Filed under: Design by Orangemaster @ 12:07 pm

Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 12.09.14 PM

Soullmate, a Dutch product by Design Studio BOMM and Sit & Heat, is pop-up furniture for two that can be folded away in seconds and warms your bum if it’s cold outside. They say cold is 0˚C, but then again they are Dutch and that’s considered cold here.

“The bench, table and pallet together have a dimension of 120 x 120 x 110 cm, which can fold to a height of 35 cm, making the Soullmate easy to transport and store. In a short period of time you can create an event space with a great atmosphere.”

I love how quickly it folds and I encourage you to find out more about the seat warming aspects.

Folding the Soullmate from Sit & Heat on Vimeo.

(Link: phys.org, Photo: screenshot Soullmate)

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April 15, 2014

Man films daughter growing up, becomes YouTube hit

Filed under: Film by Orangemaster @ 3:39 pm

Vince Hofmeester

Dutchman Frans Hofmeester has been filming his daughter Lotte weekly from ages 0 to 14, and a few days ago, he placed a time-lapsed video of her on YouTube.

Two years ago Hofmeester had also placed the first video when Lotte was 12, which had more than 4 million hits. Last year, he placed one that had some 900,000 hits and his latest one is currently at over 2,500,000 hits.

Hofmeester has also posted time-lapsed videos of his son Vince (see pic) from 0 to 11 years and other films related to his family.

Here’s Portrait of Lotte – 0 to 14 years in 4 min. (The Original):

(Link: www.metronieuws.nl, Photo of Vince Hofmeester, screenshot of a YouTube video)

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April 14, 2014

Dig in with Nijmegen and uncover something Roman

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 11:03 am

From 14 April to 18 May, the city of Nijmegen, Gelderland, the oldest city in the country and synonymous with Roman ruins, is inviting its citizens to come and dig up some finds with archaeologists. You’ll need a ticket to join in the merriment, 10 euro for 2 hours of excavation. All kinds of related events (in Dutch) for children and adults alike are also being organised.

The excavation is to take place on a site belonging to the Honig food corporation, where remains of a 2000 year-old temple have been found. Archaeologist Kees Brok says people have expressed interest in joining in, so that’s why they’ve turned it into a fun group activity.

I doubt anyone can keep what they find though, but it’s a good way to get the job done fast and learn something.

(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo: BOOR, Rotterdam)

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