Utrecht has become the first Dutch city to set up a cannabis growers’ club for recreational use. The Social Cannabis Club Domstad has been officially registered so that a small group of approved growers can cultivate marijuana under the supervision of the local authority.
The municipal council has asked the Ministry of Justice to give the club an exemption from the opium law, similar to those granted to producers of medicinal cannabis, but justice minister Ivo Opstelten has said he is opposed to local councils authorising the cultivation of cannabis and threatened to take action against Utrecht if it goes ahead with the plan.
It remains odd that marijuana is still illegal, but that licensed coffeeshops are allowed to sell small quantities on their premises under strict conditions. The thing is, their supply isn’t regulated and is still criminal, but this would finally be an attempt at knowing where the pot actually comes from for a change. This don’t ask, don’t tell policy is what keeps this entire pot business a shady one.
(Links: www.amsterdamherald.com, www.destadutrecht.nl,
Photo by Eric Caballero, some rights reserved)
Tags: marijuana, Utrecht, weed
In the Netherlands when anyone says ‘hockey’ they mean ‘field hockey’ and when I say ‘hockey’ I mean the burly guys on the ice like Dutch defender Mike Dalhuisen. Dalhuisen played his first professional game last week with the New York Islanders (often subtitled as ‘Highlanders’ on Dutch telly — please stop doing that) in an exhibition game against the New Jersey Devils.
Dalhuisen started his career when he emigrated to Ontario, Canada and played at junior level with the Lindsay Muskies, then with Chicago Steel and Lincoln Stars (United States Hockey League) and eventually at Quinnipiac in Connecticut for four years at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level. Now playing for the New York Islanders makes Dalhuisen the first-ever Dutchman to play for the NHL, (National Hockey League), which includes Canadian teams as well despite its name.
“For me field hockey was never an option; it’s not physical enough”, says Dalhuisen this week in a Spits newspaper interview. Here’s what he sounds like in a quick locker room interview: he sounds like a real North American.
Besides the fact that Dalhuisen is a rising star from a country that understands baseball way better than hockey, he’s gone viral for having a gloves off fist fight with the Devils’ Ryan Carter, despite a 5-3 win for the Islanders. The defender spent 11 minutes on ice and five in the penalty box.
(Links: www.quinnipiacbobcats.com, www.quinnipiacbobcats.com, Photo of hockey sticks by kicksave2930, some rights reserved)
Dutchman Sebastiaan Bowier has broken the previous 2009 record of Canadian cyclist Sam Wittigham by just 0.6 km/h by reaching a speed of 133,78 km/h, making him the fastest cyclist in the world. Students from the Delft University of Technology and the VU University Amsterdam joined forces to beat this record in a high-tech recumbent whizzing through the Nevada desert in the United States. The speeds were measured over a distance of 200 metres, after accelerating on an eight kilometre straight road. It’s the special coating of the recumbent that gave it 90% less wind resistance than a normal bicycle.
Wil Baselmans, the second cyclist of the Delft/Amsterdam team also reached a world class speed of 127,43 km/h, making him the third fastest man on earth, right after Bowier and Wittingham.
Tags: Delft University of Technology, VU University Amsterdam
Last May 11 Iago Sparrows flew aboard the MV Plancius on 6 May 2013 from the Cape Verde Islands. In the end, four birds (two male and two female) stayed on board until Hansweert, Zeeland, making them the first known individuals of that species (endemic to the islands off West Africa) to have reached Europe, and therefore writing history.
Once docked in Hansweert on 19 May, the sparrows stayed on board to eat breadcrumbs and hang out with the captain.
All four sparrows were timid and passive, up until the moment I released the male from his confinement on the bridge. The other male then sought the company of the Captain’s sparrow, and the two cocks started a fight. The aggressive display ended in a clear attempt to copulate. One male definitely mounted the other and tried to copulate. The male that was mounted did, however, not assume the classic submissive solicitation posture (crouched, neck drawn in, wings slightly drooped), a posture known from observation of female House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) that solicit copulation.
Please feel free to insert all kinds of good-humoured jokes in the comments.
(Links: www.improbable.com, moeliker.wordpress.com, Photo of Iago Sparrow by Hans Zwitzer, some rights reserved)
Tags: Cape Verde, homosexuality, sparrow, Zeeland
The 2013 HEMA design award was won by Tessa Eising, a student at the University of Twente, for her laminated rectangular cardboard space dividers.
The dividers have one folding edge at both one short and one long side with a label you can write on. The idea is that you put them in a cupboard, fold the edge, write your name on it, and put your stuff on it. As we wrote a couple of days ago, Dutch students often share a flat because of the high rents and they often need to figure out ways to determine who owns what. (In my student days, we shared most of the food and wrote our name on the packaging in the rare cases we needed to reserve something for ourselves.)
Another nominated design that I liked is Kim Monster’s ‘spider’ which you screw onto a standard soda bottle filled with water. Put the bottle ‘feet first’ in a planter and you’ve got a drip for your plants. There is also the travel bottle by Zsolt Hayde with two caps, one for dispensing whatever cream you put into it, the other for cleaning it when it’s empty. Handy for these paranoid times where governments won’t let their electorate onto planes with full bottles.
The HEMA design contest is held every year by the department store of the same name. Winning designs sometimes end up in the store, and it seems that first prize winners are sold through HEMA’s web shop. I have seen 2011′s winner Vrachtpatser, an extension for your bicycle’s luggage rack, in the wild a couple of times. This years prizes were awarded at a ceremony held 11 June at the OBA, the Amsterdam public library.
Tags: Hema, Kim Monster, Tessa Eising, University of Twente, Zsolt Hayde
All that heavy duty construction work at Utrecht Central station, the country’s biggest train station, will eventually house the world’s biggest bike garage — all three floors of it. The garage will also feature a bike path and fit neatly under the train station, unlike the sea of bikes that can now be found around the station in the photo above.
Also home to Utrecht University, the country’s biggest university, Utrecht is very visibly full of students, many of which bike everywhere.
Just a few days ago we told you about how many wrongly parked bikes had been removed in 2012, but this kind of mega project should help alleviate the problem. The bike garage will be able to accommodate 12,500 bikes, which is exactly five times as many bikes as Amsterdam’s bike flat next to the train station that’s already overflowing.
Designed by Ector Hoogstad architects, the mega garage will open partially in 2016, and be ready entirely in 2018.
(Link: www.bright.nl, Photo Photo of Bikes at Utrecht Central station by Fietsberaad, some rights reserved)
Tags: bike parking, bikes, Utrecht
Z24 reports that the first ‘physical stores’, as they call it, have started to accept the virtual currency Bitcoin.
Expat supermarket Taste of Home in Haarlem and bar De Waag in Delft (not to be confused with the bar and high tech society of the same name in Amsterdam) both accept the currency. Currently about five people pay their bar tabs at De Waag using Bitcoins.
Irishman Pail Desgrippes, co-owner of Taste of Home, has an IT background. One of the reasons for considering Bitcoin even before he and his partner started their supermarket was the publicity it would generate. “But I also like the idea of being independent from banks. We also get to save on transaction costs and offer our customers an extra payment option.”
Currently the number of Dutch brick and mortar stores that accept Bitcoins seems to be outnumbered by the amount of websites that report on the number of Dutch organisations that accept Bitcoins. At the moment Wat Is Bitcoin? has the longest list.
See also: Bitcoin income shall be taxed, Dijsselbloem says.
(Photo of a detail of De Waag in Delft by M.M.Minderhoud, some rights reserved.)
Tags: Bitcoin, money, paying, payments
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.
Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet helpfully explains that the Wet financieel toezicht (the law on financial control) defines electronic money as a monetary value that
- Is stored electronically.
- 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.
Tags: Bitcoin, cryptography, income tax, money, taxes
Today, during the last day of the TERENA Networking Conference 2013 (TNC2013) held in Maastricht, the ‘largest and most prestigious European research networking conference’, featured the first-ever demonstration of a transatlantic 100 gigabits-per-second (Gbps or one billion bits per second) transmission link for research and education between North America and Europe.
Demonstrations of the intercontinental 100 Gbps link included big data transfers between Maastricht and Chicago, Illinois taking a few minutes instead of several hours over the public Internet. This first transatlantic 100 Gbps link for research and education will advance high-end projects such as the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the ITER fusion reactor in France and similar international programs.
Short but powerful, as the Dutch would say.
(Link: phys.org, Photo by Jacek Szymański, some rights reserved)
Tags: Chicago, Maastricht
The folks at Dutch Rail (NS) are currently testing a post called the ‘ChagR’ (pic with complicated instructions) that would allow two commuters at a time to charge up their mobile phones for free while they wait for the train. Some 110,000 people take the train every day from Rotterdam Central Station, so if this were to be implemented, more posts would be a must.
Although Dutch Rail has said to be thrilled about the idea, commuter response has been apathetic, with only 40 people having used the post, which works for micro USB, iPhone and even ordinary batteries. The instructions are apparently long-winded and more testing is needed, but the idea is not bad.
I would rather charge my phone in the train and ideally plug in my laptop there as well. I picture easy smartphone theft as well and two people at a time is way too little charging power.
(Link: blog.phonehouse.nl, Photo of train by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)
Tags: Rotterdam, Smartphones, train