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.
A team of evolutionary biologists led by Leo Beukeboom is “well on the way to pinpointing [the gene that determines the male gender] in houseflies.”
According to the press release, the biologists are considering to use this knowledge for “developing ecofriendly methods of controlling this pestilential insect. The partner university in Göttingen, Germany has already bred sterile male specimens of the harmful Mediterranean fruit fly. Breeding sterile male houseflies may constitute an effective method for controlling these pathogenic insects in the future.”
Or, as the writer of the press release puts it in big, bold type, “evolutionary genetic research makes fly swatters superfluous”.
Maybe I don’t understand what they are saying and maybe they’re not saying it right, but it seems to me that disrupting an ecosystem is the exact opposite of ‘ecofriendly’. A fly swatter kills just the flies you can reach, and after half an hour of chasing flies through the house you might just consider doing a better cleaning job next time, but spraying pesticides or even eradicating an entire species (it is not clear to me what exactly the University of Groningen wants) seems to be a lot more invasive.
Dutch documentary filmmaker Henk Meeuwsen is looking for an assistant sound recordist (sign up through the link) to capture the sound of horse farts in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve, lodged in between the cities of Almere and Lelystad, Flevoland and home to the biggest herd of wild horses in all of Europe. You can see the horses and deers from the train when you travel from Amsterdam to Zwolle going North and it is indeed a beautiful sight.
Meeuwsen has managed to record horse farts, but unfortunately there has been either too much noise from passing trains and planes or from other nature sounds to be used in his latest nature film, due out this September. This job sounds like a fun challenge if ever there was one.
Much like the scary warnings on cigarette packs, this short film by Dutch director Louis van Zwol made for Mercy for Animals, an American non-profit animal rights organisation that promotes vegetarianism, probably won’t dissuade anyone from eating meat.
However, the idea of your junk food (they could have used a proper steak, no?) telling you their war stories is far fetched, but well made. In this case, a Dutch frikandel that apparently speaks British English and looks like they smoke two packs a day just doesn’t want to be eaten. To me it’s junk food nobody should eat anyways, not a decent cut of meat whose worthiness could be argued by an Argentinian. It would be like using fries to make a point, instead of a healthy salad.
I’ve recently started to eat less meat for sports reasons and the best way to get me to continue to do that is to give me nice recipes, restaurant tips and a tomato plant for my balcony this summer, not silly films aimed at waspy male students that can’t be bothered to feed themselves properly before going out binge drinking.
I challenge any filmmaker of these kinds of films to make a film without using gross and graphic pictures as a shock tactic. Would you dissuade girls from getting pregnant by using graphic footage of childbirth? I doubt it.
After owning a Ferrari, a Rolex and other gangster shizzle, the new thing to own if you’re an Eastern European gangster according to Dutch telly is an alpaca.
Stolen in the Netherlands and surely elsewhere by gangs of Eastern European criminals, alpacas go for anywhere between 200 and 20,000 euro. The caretaker of the alpacas in this Dutch video watches the nocturnal theft from his homes, afraid of being shot by armed gangs. “We just want them back,” says the elderly lady in the video who misses the animals.
Criminals or whatever, I do take offense to Dutch journalists use of the word ‘Oostblok’ (East Block) because in addition to it being a thing of the past, it stigmatises Eastern Europeans, many of which are EU citizens.
Feline immunodeficiency virus, or commonly called ‘feline aids’, is being diagnosed more and more in Amsterdam’s cats, according to local cat catchers. Almost 10% of the cats caught just this year have contracted the disease, mostly found in male cats that are not castrated.
Once diagnosed, sick cats have to be put to sleep because there is no cure for the disease and they could easily infect other cats, although not humans, by the way. The story goes that cats on ships carried the disease over from far away, but then that’s been said about every modern disease.
If more cats are castrated, the problem would more manageable, cat catchers say. The other classic theory is that in times of crisis, people don’t spend money on things like castrating their cats.
OK, so this is completely unscientific, but I decided to have a little fun.
If the Dutch want to use a derogatory term for a journalist, they have a couple of options. Persrat (press rat) is one of them, persmuskiet (press mosquito) is another.
According to Google, persrat appears on 10,600 web pages, while persmuskiet appears 12,700 times. There is not much between them and Google is hardly the place to do reliable linguistic research, but since we had already decided this wasn’t going to be scientific I declare ‘press mosquito’ the winner.
A derogatory term for the entire profession is journaille, borrowed from the German language in which the word is a portmanteau consisting of the word ‘journalistic’ and the French word ‘canaille’, meaning ‘rabble’.
Dutch comics godfather Marten Toonder used to have a rat in his fabled stable called Argus, who was of course a reporter (working for a publisher called E. Phant).
To me the word persrat feels different from persmuskiet. Rat seems to suggest a low character, whereas mosquito implies tenacity.
Are you wondering if there is perhaps a reason to this whim of mine? There is. I was getting a bit tired with the news cycle, with the whole idea that there is always news and it is always important. Trying to find a Dutch angle to the British horsemeat scandal (British supermarkets selling horsemeat as beef), reporters of the Parool newspaper had tracked down a restaurant owner who had kept quiet about having used horsemeat instead of beef for his famous steaks for 60 years—even in the Netherlands there is a bit of a stigma attached to eating horsemeat. “Why did you lie,” the reporters asked and that irked me. Sure, the restaurant owner had lied by omission, but every word a journalist ever prints is a lie of omission, because journalists decide what is important enough to print and what not.
And that is when I got a little bit irritated and started thinking in terms of ‘press rats’.
Last Thursday Kuinre, Flevoland played host to the first edition of the Dutch ice fishing championship. Some 25 participants had two hours to reel in a catch, but in the end, not a single fish was caught.
Ed Piek of the Visfederatie Oost Nederland told Spitsnieuws that he did not know why nobody caught anything. “Maybe the lack of experience? Also the ice was very clear, which could have scared off the fish.”
The news site adds that the prizes, a mountain bike and a trophy, will be saved for the next edition.
In an effort to help solve the shrinking bird population in urban areas, Dutch designer Klaas Kuiken collaborated with the Netherlands Society for Protection of Birds (Vogelbescherming) to create the Birdhouse Roof Tile.
The ‘Birdhouse Roof Tile’ was designed to provide more nesting places for birds in the city. Since birds often look to nest within the roofs of houses, Kuiken attached an archetypal birdhouse onto a standard roof tile.
The Italian radio hit ‘Il Pulcino Pio’ (The chirping chick) has a Dutch version: ‘Het Kuikentje Piep’. It reminds me of a modern version of the Old MacDonald nursery rhyme, but with a generous helping of auto-tune.
Since this summer the original Italian version has had more than 50,000,000 views, on its way to possibly match and beat (gasp!) Gangnam Style, which currently has over one billion views.
Carnival in the South of the Netherlands is less than a month away, and this is surely going to be played to drunken crowds in many cafes. It is also a fantastic way to find out what kind of sounds many animals make in Dutch.