December 5, 2016

Amsterdam will get a baby hatch in 2017

Filed under: Health by Orangemaster @ 8:17 pm

We had a modern era baby hatch open up in Dordrecht back in 2013 and after that a few more opened up around the country, but now it’s the capital’s turn to have one, set to open in 2017.

Earlier this year Zwolle got a baby hatch in the Isala hospital, the first time a Dutch hospital has opened such a service.

It’s illegal to abandon a child as a foundling in the Netherlands, and can land someone four years of prison or a hefty fine of 20,000 euro. Making it punishable does mean babies are found in places like bins, the streets or a forest, some alive, but some dead as well. In 2014 a live baby was found in a container in Amsterdam whose parents were never traced, and a dead baby was found near Sloterplas in Nieuw-West in a sports bag not too long ago.

Child Protection Services in the past claimed that children have the right to know who their parents are. The government has no plans to close down, stop or pursue anyone who would abandon a baby in a baby hatch, so the government is still doing what it does best, which is nothing.

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December 3, 2016

Faces of nations, what composite national leaders look like

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 11:12 pm

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Turkish-born, Amsterdam-based art-director Güney Sokayn had this simple but intriguing question – do composite portraits of natians’ leaders say something about those nations?

On his project page he explains:

Consciously or sub-consciously, you rarely think of Germany without picturing Angela Merkel or of Russia without Vladimir Putin. Because whether we like it or not, the political leader of our country represents how the world perceives their nation. But is it a reflection of that nation’s people? […]

This is where the idea for Face of a Nation originates. It is a personal curiosity project that aims to create portraits of different nations based on their leaders from the past 50 years.

To this end, Soykan took photos of presidents and prime ministers, spliced them vertically and put the resulting strips together, forming new, composite portraits. The strips are ordered by the periods these men (and the odd woman) governed. The width of each bar represents the duration of each government.

Although perhaps the most important lesson is how boring leaders look, some trends can be clearly spotted, and I am not just talking about the switch from black-and-white to colour photography. The end of apartheid in South Africa is visible, because all subsequent presidents after De Klerk were black (top illustration, detail). American presidents lead for exactly four or eight years (bottom left). Syria and North Korea are hereditary dictatorships. And if you are the leader of Turkey (bottom right) or Italy, you should probably make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date.

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Illustrations: Güney Soykan.

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November 30, 2016

Life-size piano made of Lego to go on tour

Filed under: Art,Dutch first,Music by Orangemaster @ 5:20 pm

Composer and pianist Jeroen van Veen of Culemborg, Gelderland built a life-size working piano using almost 30,000 pieces of Lego. As a huge Lego fan and composer, he wrote the ‘Minimal Prelude 18’ with the nickname ‘Lego music’, which features minimalistic sounds with many repetitions.

Building the instrument started as a bit of fun, something Van Veen did with his two adult sons. The piano is easy to put together and take apart, although they are careful when transporting it. Not only is it mechanically functional, but it is also a hybrid piano, with digital and analogue elements, possibly a world first.

People in the United States and in other countries want to have the piano over their way, so the Lego piano will probably be going on tour. The ‘brand name’ is Van Veen & Sons, a nod not only to how it was built, but also to the grand piano brand Steinway & Sons.

(Link: waarmaarraar, Photo by Sunny Ripert, some rights reserved)

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November 29, 2016

Smoked sausage meets kroket in new snack combo

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 10:40 am
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The year 2016 is turning into the year of the junk food combos: discodel, pancake with fries, fries with soft vanilla ice cream, and now it’s time for the next level in junk food: the ‘rookworstkroket’ (‘smoked sausage kroket’).

Unox (Unilever) makes the famous smoked sausage that HEMA passes off as their own, but now the next level is upon us with Unox getting into bed with FEBO to spawn the deep-fried sausage snack. FEBO tried to get into bed with HEMA instead, combining the combo with the 75th anniversary of FEBO and the 90th anniversary of HEMA, but HEMA said no. Unox pounced on the opportunity and soon we’ll get to taste what the fuss is all about.

(Link: nu.nl)

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November 27, 2016

Saint Pancake, a very real tradition that started in a comic

Filed under: Comics,Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 5:04 pm

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On 29 November the country celebrates Sint Pannekoek (Saint Pancake), notably the people of Rotterdam.

These people will take photos of each other wearing pancakes on their heads, and of course they will eat pancakes. In 2014 (NOS.nl reported back then) hundreds of people took to social media to share the photographic evidence of their pancake wearing ways, and the Koninskerk in Rotterdam organised a pancake feast, the proceeds of which went to charity.

Interestingly, there is no actual Saint Pancake. He and his tradition were made up whole cloth by Jan Kruis for his comic Jan, Jans en de Kinderen (John, Joanie and the Kids) and in turn by his character, grandfather Gerrit, who wanted to get out of having to eat boring beans.

In the strip, grandfather tells the children a strong tale about a cherished childhood tradition: “Mother bakes a huge stack of pancakes and then when the man of the house comes home, everybody puts a pancake on their head and shouts: ‘Dear father, we wish you a happy and blessed Saint Pancake.'” Joanie replies: “I love old traditions!” and changes the dinner she had planned.

Author Jan Kruis, whose comic has been published for decades in leading women’s magazine Libelle, hopes that one day he can get the royal family to wear pancakes on 29 November. “That is my ultimate hope for this tradition”, Kruis told RTV Drenthe two weeks ago.

(Illustration: crop of the comic that started it all by NOS.nl / Jan Kruis)

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November 25, 2016

Boycott against ING over Dakota pipeline rallies Dutch Facebook users

Filed under: Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 1:19 pm

ing-boycott-facebookOver the past few days, stuck among the daily river of memes, one stood out because friends were making a commitment: they were going to cancel their account with Dutch consumer bank ING over the bank’s investments in the controversial Dakota pipeline.

Frances Ro started talking to ING on their Facebook page and made a very simple demand: “Show me that you’re on the right side of history. Prove that you won’t let large interests stand in the way of a livable planet. Let’s say that we’ll find a solution before 1 January. If not, I’ll be your ex-customer from that day on.”

Ro’s problems with ING’s investment are that the Dakota pipeline allegedly endangers the drinking water of millions of people and destroys territory that is culturally significant to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. According to her, ING has invested 250 million USD in the project.

ING ummed and ahed in response, suggesting they were hoping the controversy would go away by itself: “We have confidence in the proper administration of justice and the careful consideration of the case by the US government.”

The bank seems to have found itself in a perfect storm. Together with ABN Amro and Rabobank it is one of the big three consumer banks in the Netherlands. Lately, savings banks like ASN and Triodos (who claim to only invest in sustainable projects) have branched out into the payment business and new banks like Knab (owned by insurer Aegon) have also been nipping at their feet. Consumers have stayed loyal so far to to the banks that lured them in during their childhood, until now they’ve found a reason to switch to more modern banks. The joint banks even have a service that should make switching banks as easy as possible.

So far Ro’s plea got shared well over a 1,000 times, with several people reporting they’ve already abandoned ING.

(Illustration: screenshot of Ro’s Facebook post)

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November 22, 2016

Mice chilling in the supermarket fridge

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 12:01 pm

Ah yes, there’s mice at an Albert Heijn supermarket in Limburg! We told you a few years back about mice in a hospital in Amsterdam, and I’m thinking that’s probably worse than at the supermarket, but it’s all gross. These mice look like they’re dancing:

And there’s also the classic clip at the Albert Heijn from The Hague Central Station. It was being filmed while an employee of Dutch Railways was also filming and has more mice than the above clip, which is not a good thing:

(Link: limburger.nl)

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November 21, 2016

Dutch-born Republican to head CIA

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 4:33 pm

Peter-Hoekstra

In a special post-American election edition of ‘Zoek de Nederlander’ (‘Find the Dutch person’) where the Dutch media finds remote Dutch connections for the sake of a story, Groningen-born, Republican Pete Hoekstra is being touted as the new big cheese of the CIA. Hoekstra, 63, who lives in Michigan and may or may not speak a few words of Dutch, claimed he worked hard on Trump’s campaign and knows which direction he wants to take the United States [insert all of the jokes right here].

Hoekstra is an American who emigrated when he was three, which is why ‘Zoek de Nederlander’ is always a sad attempt by the Dutch press to remain internationally relevant, the same press that treats long-time Dutch folks of other ethnicities as if they didn’t count when it suits them. Other attempts at finding ‘Dutchiness’ have included Britney Spears, Tiger Woods and Dave Benton. On the opposite end of the scale is Anne Frank who was never Dutch (she was German), but many people think she was or enjoy saying that her not being Dutch was ‘just a formality’.

(Link: nos.nl)

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November 19, 2016

Meeting the Mayor of Amsterdam: what that’s like

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 12:43 pm

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A local elementary school filled with local residents of all kinds had a friendly, tea-drinking, homemade baklava-eating hour to ask Eberhard van der Laan, the Mayor of Amsterdam, their pressing questions. Right before, the mayor walked around the recently renovated playground across the street to talk to all ages of youngsters and take part in a mannequin challenge that I joined in on if anybody finds it online.

The questions that were raised, were classics: dust particles emanating from the motorway nearby, promises of building new houses that never materialise, cheaper sports hall for getting unhealthy youngsters to move and a few others that hit home with everyone.

Van der Laan used to be a lawyer as well as the minister for housing and immigration, so his answers mostly pleased the crowd. Some things he had an aide write down as matters he could do something about like not getting any answers from city bureaucrats, other things he explained had so many parties involved that he couldn’t exert much influence on as one person, which is a good thing he said because that would be dictatorial.

I found out he’s well-versed in the art of pull-out quotes. Asked about what will happen to people with polluting vintage cars being banned from the city centre Van der Laan said “old things don’t have a future”. He admitted that lack of housing is one of the biggest problem in our country, as well as in Amsterdam. He also believed that it was good policy to build the nice schools in the poorer neighbourhoods, as we were standing in a newly renovated school, and admitted to those complaining about lack of funding for many things that “when money is taken away, good things are always lost”, which he said is often a national decision he can’t do much about.

In true Dutch straight talk fashion he did tell the crowd that “Amsterdam wasn’t an ATM”, and explained to a nine-year-old girl that, “yes there’s graffiti you want removed near your house, but let me teach you a big word first: ‘nannyism’. That means we can’t tell people what not do to all the time, but give me an email address and I will look into it”.

My only complaint is that he was talking about schools and mentioned “white and dark parents”, alluding to what is still referred to as ‘white schools’, (Dutch, with some money and assumed to have more of a future) and ‘black schools’ (anything that looks foreign although Dutch, is usually poorer and assumed to have less of a future). I hope we stop using those terms very soon because “old things don’t have a future”.

All in all Ebehard van der Laan is a great communicator who made all the attendees, especially the children, feel like they had been heard. He’s the father of five children himself and his interest in what they had to say was genuine. He’s also going to be around for quite a few more years, so it’s good to have met him in person.

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November 18, 2016

Dutch company Mars One makes suits for Mars

Filed under: General,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:55 am

The Dutch are already involved in trying to get to Mars, whether it’s growing food for the trip, simply wanting to take that one-way trip or being the first at having a reality show on Mars.

Now Dutch company Mars One has unveiled its first try at a space suit to protect humans on the red planet. “Made from material similar to that used for NASA’s astronauts when exploring the Moon [like the one in the picture], the suit’s design also takes into account new challenges, such as the omnipresent red dust”. I still have strange red dust from a hike on Crete on one pair of shoes, so I can only imagine what their issues are. The suits are also to protect against killer radiation and needs to fit different people. Some 3D printers will ensure new parts can be made. WIl there be a 3D printer to repair the 3D printer, I don’t know.

Have a look at what Mars One has been planning to do:

(Link: phys.org)

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