The court of Amsterdam has handed down a ruling today that the entire Dutch media was waiting for about Zwarte Piet (‘Black Pete’, Saint Nicholas’ holiday time helper): it turns out he’s deemed “offensive to black people” and “racist” after all.
Although it was argued by many that Zwarte Piet is just some black figure and that he had nothing to do with slavery, a point that can surely be made, the blackface clown with exaggerated red lips and golden earrings apparently encourages a “negative stereotyping of black people”. In Dutch, when someone is made out to be the ‘bad guy’ in a situation, it is called to be the ‘Zwarte Piet’, which says a lot already about how he is viewed.
Today’s verdict only applies to Amsterdam and it remains to be seen what the rest of the country will make of such a strong and old tradition being struck down. Internet comments are not the nicest at the moment, blaming a few people for ruining it for everybody else and that sort of thing.
I wonder if Zwarte Piet is worth being the perpetual ‘bad guy’ and ‘whipping boy’ for a deeper discussion about racial stereotypes that needs to happen and will see where history will collectively take the Netherlands on this one.
(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo: tobysterling.net)
Tags: Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet
As of 1 July 2014 the country’s new Transgender Law comes into effect, allowing transgenders to change the gender stated in their passport and other documents without having to plead their case to a judge first or undergo surgery to be rendered permanently infertile. Transgenders now only need an expert statement to receive new ID with the ‘correct’ gender, which technically applies to anyone over 16 and does have fees attached to it.
After eight years of struggling, Transgender Netwerk Nederland and COC Nederland are celebrating this milestone of Dutch law, calling it ‘finally having a say about one’s own gender’.
(Link: transgendernetwerk.nl, Photo of Gay flag by sigmaration, some rights reserved)
Tags: gender, transgender
Started on Monday 12 May, 3FM radio DJ Giel Beelen has broken the world record for the longest, continuous radio show with 190 hours, breaking the older record of 189 set by Belgian radio DJ Lennart Creël only two weeks ago.
To celebrate Beelen’s 10 year anniversary on the airwaves with his morning show, going for a world record seemed fitting. Although the show was non-stop, he was allowed to sleep five minutes an hour if needed and every second day he could get three hours of shut eye.
Giel Beelen is well known by the Dutch audience for regularly taking part in the Glass House (‘Het Glazen Huis’), a glass house with a radio broadcast set up on main squares in different cities every year a week before Christmas. The DJs go without anything to eat to collect money for Red Cross projects.
Tags: DJ, Giel Beelen, Guinness Book of World Records, radio
The 10th annual Swim Cup Eindhoven, held from 10 to 13 April, will feature the world premiere competition use of the Omega Backstroke Start Device (video in English).
Backstroke swimmers will no longer have to worry about their feet or toes slipping at the start of a race, which has been an issues for ages.
Starting platforms for swimmers are constantly being adapted so that swimmers don’t slip, so I can imagine it’s about time the backstroke crowd got their ‘starting device’ as well.
(Link: www.ed.nl, Photo of Olympic pool by diamond geezer, some rights reserved)
Tags: Eindhoven, swimming
On Tuesday 1 April legislation kicked in that made the partner of lesbian mothers gain equal rights as the parent of their child. For the longest time, the ‘second’ mother (or co-mother) had to go through a costly adoption procedure in order to become the legal parent of their partner’s child. The procedure lasted at least 6 months, cost at least 1000 euro and was very stressful. If something happened to the child in the mean time, the co-mother had no rights whatsoever, turning the child into an orphan. Thanks to this change in the law, children of lesbian parents have rights that equal those of children born of heterosexual couples.
Before, only the birth mother was considered the mother and a second mother had no legal rights. When a heterosexual couple adopted a child or went through artificial insemination, the father just had to sign some papers and never had to go through any kind of adoption procedure like gay women did.
Once marriage is made legal for homosexuals, the next step is taking care of such parenting issues, so foreign countries, take note.
(Links: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, www.coc.nl, Photo of Crying baby by Chalky Lives, some rights reserved)
Tags: lesbians, rights
The UMC Utrecht hospital has recently implanted a 3D printed skull (pic) made of plastic into a 22-year-old woman, a world’s first according to the hospital that claims it is a revolutionary procedure that has never been done before.
The hospital says that the patient suffers from a rare affliction where the skull bone steadily thickens, placing too much pressure on the brain. The woman’s surgeon, Bon Verweij, says she has been losing the ability to make facial expressions, and that it was only a matter of time before she would lose other crucial brain functions and eventually pass away.
UMC Utrecht has performed several operations replacing sections of skull bone, but this is the first time they attempted an entire cranium. The hospital waited a few months before announcing the operation, making sure it was successful first. “The patient has regained her capacity for facial expression, is free of complaints, is back to work and it is nearly impossible to see she was ever operated on”, Verweij says.
The UMC Utrecht thinks this technique of 3D printing can also be used for patients with different bone abnormalities, repairing skulls after accidents, or with tumors.
A year ago Leiden University was developing the 3D printing of skin for medical purposes.
News item in Dutch, but the visuals tell the story:
(Link: www.nltimes.nl, Photo of an Ultimaker 3D printer)
Tags: 3D printing, bone, skull, UMC Utrecht, Utrecht
In Enschede, Overijssel, a slot machine player has won almost 3 million euro (2,960,221,50 euro to be exact) with the ‘Mega Millions’ slot machines at the state-run Holland Casino last Saturday, making it the highest amount ever won at a Dutch casino. The player, who has chosen to remain anonymous for now but is 30 years of age, only spent 7,50 euro. The more people play these specific slot machines that only cost 0,10 euro per try, the higher the amount. According to an employee at the casino, the new millionaire was taken aback by all of this and has not yet made themselves known to the media.
In April 2013 another person from Enschede won 1,600,000 euro.
(Linsk: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, www.hollandcasino.nl, Photo of Slot machines by rusticus80, some rights reserved)
Tags: casino, Enschede, Overijssel
Juan Garcia Esquivel was a Mexican composer of pop music who was one of the pioneers of a genre called Space Age Bachelor Pad Music.
Last year Zone 5300 called the genre “an orchestral cross of lounge pop and exotica”. In 2013 the Hilversum-based Metropole Orchestra, the largest professional pop and jazz orchestra in the world, released an album of re-recorded Esquivel tunes, Perfect Vision. Berlin-based composer Stefan Behrisch was asked to reconstruct the sheet music as the originals had been lost.
One Internet store, ReR MegaCorp, sells and describes the record as follows: “Remember stereo? Not the naturalistic, tasteful stereo but the extreme, weird, psychedelic stereo that has been all but forgotten now? Here it is. Apart from being stunning in its own right, this record makes some wake-up statements about recording and what it can do – and about how far we have moved away from that sensibility.”
Marco Kalnenek’s appraisal is not as excited, but then he isn’t trying to sell the album: “[A] loving tribute to an almost forgotten music director. The arrangements are meticulous and the recording and production are perfect—modern without diminishing the original sound.”
The video by Keller Film shown here is a perfect accompaniment for the Esquivel tune Mini Skirt. The sensibility of the animation is American and 1950s-like, but the theme is modern and Dutch. Boy meets girl, except that the girl is a high earning, Macbook wielding professional and the boy one of the army of under-earning delivery men that sprung up after the market for mail was liberalized in 2009.
See also: Wikipedia on Juan Garcia Esquivel.
(Illustration: screen capture of the video, cropped)
Tags: animation, Juan Garcia Esquivel, Keller Film, Metropole Orchestra, postal workers
A Dutch first that I had the pleasure of watching live and in person was the first-ever performance of Team Netherlands, the national men’s roller derby team. They played some tough teams, but caught a well-deserved win against Sweden. The video below is of their last game against Finland. The Men’s Roller Derby World Cup – the first ever world cup for the men – was held last weekend in Birmingham, England and I was lucky enough to be one of the many announcers for the event, announcing games for both Team Netherlands and Team Belgium in Dutch on the live feed. In December of this year, the women of Team Netherlands will make their debut in Dallas, Texas for the women’s second ever world cup.
Orangemaster, aka Natasha (me), was on newly founded local television show and established podcast What’s Up Amsterdam, an English-language guide to Amsterdam, presented by the witty Nathan Tytor. This was their second show and lucky for us, we had the chance to mention [shoehorn?] 24oranges in there somewhere (see video 1).
Tags: Birmingham, Dallas, Men's Roller Derby World Cup, roller derby, Team Netherlands, television, Texas, What's Up Amsterdam
The Healthy Horse Hydration, already a mouthful to pronounce for many, is meant to be a sports drink for horses, the first ever of its kind.
For the record, if I were asked to come up with a better product name (I do get hired for product slogans), I’d call it ‘Power Horse’ or maybe ‘Horse Power’.
After a good run, the idea is to give your horse some HHH (why does that sound like a drug?) which apparently smells of apples. According to the video found in the link, it took hundreds of thousands of euro to develop the product, a pouch full of powder that dissolves in water when stirred that does look like apple juice. One of the scientists explains that the horse drinks the juice in the bucket thinking it will also get an apple and just ends up drinking the entire bucket.
On the whole, giving your horse a good drink after a good run sounds fine. Humans more often than not gulp down sports drinks for all the wrong reasons, including the insane amount of sugar in them. As well, comparing HHH to caffeine or taurine based drinks is already a huge mistake, as they are marketed as ‘energy’ drinks and not as sports drinks, plus they actually dehydrate instead of rehydrate.
And then there’s the Dutch word ‘paardenmiddel’ (paarden = horses, middel = means), which means ‘last ditch effort’ for something, which funny enough could work against the Dutch market image and partially explain the sour apple comments about HHH so far. Then again, if people don’t know the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks, their comments are for entertainment purposes only.
(Link: www.omroepbrabant.nl, Photo of Oostvaardersplassen horses by fransdewit, some rights reserved)
Tags: apples, horses