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May 11, 2016

Van Gogh painting replicated using plastic bottles

Filed under: Art,General by Orangemaster @ 1:41 pm

A painting by Vincent van Gogh, ‘The Starry Night’, has been replicated by a Taiwanese company using four million colourful plastic bottles with the goal of promoting recycling.

Taking up 53 hectares of the Starry Paradise park on the outskirts of Keelung City, the installation was opened to the public early this year to mark the 125th anniversary of van Gogh’s death.

“We were thinking of combining the idea of environmental protection with PET bottles and this landscape to create a piece of art, so that everyone can get to know another side of recycling,” explained Aisin Yeh, of the Unison Developing Co. Ltd, which undertook the project.

The project cost USD 2.6 mln and took four months to complete, according to the video. Have a look:

(Link: www.reuters.com)

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May 3, 2016

King’s Day was also about collecting urine

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:41 am
Urilift

Some 23,000 litres of urine were collected at three locations during King’s Day in Amsterdam this year in order to make phosphate fertiliser. The urinals were placed at the Nassau Festival, Kingsland and in Vondelpark, and the old 1928 Olympic Stadium collected some urine as well. The urine was then brought to a phosphate factory in Amsterdam-West.

By collecting urine in urinals where no additional water is used, the urine stays ‘pure’. The phosphate is needed to produce fertiliser, which is apparently becoming increasingly more difficult to acquire from natural sources, so much so that urine may one day be the only solution.

And so the urine produced after – I’m just guessing here! – the drinking of quite a bit of beer by men is being turned into manure. Phosphate in Amsterdam has been collected from sewage since 2013, enough to fertilise some 10,000 football pitches.

(Link: nos.nl, photo: urilift)

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May 2, 2016

John Cleese opens Silly Walks tunnel in Eindhoven

Filed under: Architecture,Art,General by Orangemaster @ 3:34 pm

SillyWalks

Hundreds of fans of British comedy legend John Cleese huddled in the cold today to greet the man who played a bowler hatted civil servant working for the The Ministry of Silly Walks. Handshakes and autographs were handed out by the 76-year-old actor, invited by Studio Giftig to officially open the renovated Dommel tunnel where graffiti artists have painted all kinds of references to the famous Monty Python sketch.

Cleese showed up in some sort of Australian slippers with no socks, having said that nobody would show up to such a ‘meaningless event’, but he was apparently surprised by all the fuss. Cleese didn’t perform any silly walks himself, also claiming he never was a fan of the sketch in question. Don’t let that rain on your parade and watch the full sketch.

(Link: www.ad.nl, Screenshot of YouTube sketch)

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April 26, 2016

Tourists still missing King’s Day due to date change

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 11:06 am

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Three years into the switch from Queen Beatrix to King Willem-Alexander and from 30 April to 27 April (26 April if it’s a Sunday), tourists are apparently still booking holidays for King’s Day three days too late based on crappy intel, and booking agencies aren’t exactly warning them. Why would tourists have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days?

I was talking to my best friend in Québec on the phone recently, telling her about how royally excited I get about the flea market that is the Netherlands on King’s Day. I explained the tourists mishaps that keep happening and she said “what kind of country changes the day of a national holiday?” A country that celebrates it on the birthday of their King or Queen, rather than a set date. Canada Day is celebrated on July 1 for the signing of the British North American act in 1867, so the only moving going on on that date is the Province of Québec (follow the link to get the joke, you’ll thank me).

As luck will have it, Wim-Lex just happens to have his birthday close to 30 April, on 27 April, so that was an easy move. However, the date did not move for Queen Beatrix because her birthday is in January, so we’re inconsistently consistent. According to Wikipedia, on Princess Wilhelmina’s accession to the throne in November 1890 the holiday became ‘Koninginnedag’ (‘Queen’s Day’), first celebrated on 31 August 1891. In September 1948, Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana ascended to the throne and the holiday was moved to Queen Juliana’s birthday, 30 April. The holiday was celebrated on this date from 1949 until 2013.

Moving the holiday wasn’t new, but it hadn’t been moved in a while and moves when it’s easier, a bit like in the Province of Québec.

(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl)

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April 21, 2016

Shop experiment serving wine turns to sour grapes

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 10:06 am

Having a glass of wine at the hair salon and at some clothing shops in Amsterdam started as an experiment in January 2016. Rotterdam started in February and called it ‘Project Blending 010’ (why in English, don’t know – 010 is the area code for Rotterdam) and other places in the country called it ‘blurring’ (why in English, still don’t know) because the law says serving alcohol without a liquor license is illegal. So yes, the whole thing was illegal but tolerated – sound familiar?

The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) kicked off the experiment, but the Union of Liquor Store Owners (Slijtersunie) recently decided they were done being tolerant and decided to officially report the VNG to the authorities for breaking the law. The VNG is ‘surprised’ because talking it out is usually the Dutch way, but you can imagine there’s a lot more selling of alcohol at salons and shops than there is selling non-alcohol related products at the wine store. The experiment let shops serve and sell alcohol, while establishments that usually sell alcohol could sell shop products.

A lot of us were already having a drink with the lovely people who patiently cut our hair before any of this became a thing. And yes, it would probably help to make any kind of shopping more enjoyable. Maybe it’s time to change the law instead of forcing one group of Dutch businesses to have their turf invaded by another.

Or they could have a drink and talk it out till the cows come home Dutch style, who knows.

(Links: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, www.z24.nl, www.telegraaf.nl, Photo of Hair salon by Travel Salem, some rights reserved)

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April 13, 2016

Dutch woman is world’s first-ever Professor of Fatherhood

Filed under: Dutch first,General by Orangemaster @ 10:04 am

In a few days Professor Renske Keizer of the University of Amsterdam, 32, will become the world’s first and only ‘Professor of Fatherhood’. Mother of three children herself, she researches the effect fathers have on children in different family configurations and opposes the ‘glorification’ of motherhood in the Netherlands, which constantly downplays the role of fathers in Dutch families regardless of their contribution.

Keizer explains that fathers of low income families play a lesser role than those of high income families and that a lack of affordable childcare, lack of paid and unpaid paternity leave and many other 1950s relics skew the balance between mothers and fathers, with fathers getting the short end of the stick. While Dutch fathers have voiced a desire to want to work part-time like most mothers do but cannot because they are expected to work full time and Dutch working mothers making less than working fathers, it’s tough to foster any change without taking a hard financial hit.

Dutch women entered the job market in the 1970s, decades later than their western counterparts, and the obstacles facing them today stem from the ingrained idea that women don’t need to work to support their families or develop themselves. “Men work to take care of their family, that’s their role. Many women see work as something that conflicts with what they do at home, clean and take care of the children. That’s Dutch culture. You’re a bad mother if you bring your children to daycare more than three times a week, but not a bad father. Society needs to make a change.”

Keize is attempting to see if being a father contributes to raising children in a unique way, but warns that maybe it does not. She explains that generally fathers speak to their children more like adults, while mothers tend to speak to their children more on their level in part because mothers tend to know their children’s capabilities better. However, fathers play a major role in increasing children’s vocabulary. The same goes with reading bedtime stories, something Keizer admits high income families do way more than low income ones: a mother reads a story as it is in the book, while dad makes stuff up as he goes along, triggering children’s creative thinking.

Keizer is also researching LBGTI parents and is very aware of the differences between white Dutch folks and other ethnic groups, hoping that she can attract more diversity to her study.

(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo by Eelke Dekker, some rights reserved)

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March 18, 2016

Anne Frank themed escape room in Valkenswaard

Filed under: General,History,Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:39 am

annefrankstatue1.jpg

Noord-Brabant, one of the Dutch provinces that unwillingly served as a doormat for invading troops during WWII, now has its very own Anne Frank themed escape room advertised with “Hide before the Germans find you!”.

Located in an old WWII bunker, ‘Het Achterhuis’ (‘the shed’ or ‘back room’ and also the original Dutch title of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’) is the theme of this espace room, and its 19-year-old owner Thijs Verberne swears it has an educational purpose. The Valkenswaard escape room lets you ‘walk in Anne Frank’s shoes’ and fuelled by fear of being sent to the camps you need to find a way to get out of it that I bet doesn’t involve writing in your diary.

On Facebook there’s people totally into it and there’s a lot of disgusted folks as well. The espace room apparently looks like the Anne Frank’s house, the original of which is about 87 kilometres away in Amsterdam, although there are others around the country.

The city of Valkenswaard, which was always planning to do something with the bunker, will make sure the escape room is being run properly, although this sounds like something you would say to the media. The Anne Frank Foundation has not yet made any statements about the escape room.

UPDATE: The Anne Frank Foundation is not amused in the slightest.

(Link:www.ed.nl)

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March 16, 2016

Women in Amsterdam council told what to wear

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:52 am

An e-mail written by the team leader of the district council of Nieuw-West in Amsterdam has told women they cannot wear ‘skirts/dresses above the knee’ and ‘knee-high boots’ if they work at the council office counter, where citizens come and get municipal permits and documents. By extension, if this were to be applied, they might have to fear for their jobs. And a happy belated International Women’s Day to you, too.

Assuming the team leader is a man, although their identity is currently being investigated, he has no power to tell women or anyone else what to wear, which clearly goes against the regulations of the city of Amsterdam as a whole. Questions are being asked by local politicians we know personally about these ‘absurd’ rules that target women. The assumption being made is that Nieuw-West, a district with a large Muslim population, is trying to spare them the view of decadent Western women as spring approaches, but nobody asked their opinion. Assumption number three is that the team leader saw a short skirt with knee-high boots that ‘bothered’ him, to use 1920s parlance, and so he decided to attack all women and offend a lot of men in the process.

Why fill in an entire group’s opinion without asking them? Not a single letter of complaint can be found at the offices, either. Sadly, Nieuw-West is the butt of many jokes, despite having a vibrantly diverse community. If it had more bars and wasn’t so far from the city centre, it could be my kind of ‘hood. It’s cheaper that most places, has big green parks, world-class street art, and food markets that makes you feel like you’re not in Amsterdam. But it takes one absurd e-mail to give the Dutch Internet a reason to trash Nieuw-West and attack its Muslim community.

Maybe this team leader needs to take a course on how to deal with his 1950s view on women in the workplace and not try and change the world around him to suit his backwards views.

UPDATE: The team leader was actually a woman who saw a colleague wearing a skirt she found too short, but instead of communicating with her one on one like a normal person, she felt an email that would cause an unnecessary stir was the way to go.

(Link: www.nu.nl, Photo of wilted tulip by Graham Keen, some rights reserved)

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March 15, 2016

Dutch cities do well as drug capitals

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 8:55 pm

Testing waste water for drugs has again put Amsterdam at the top of the list of European drug capitals: it scored top marks for MDMA, the main ingredient of XTC, and cannabis. While London nabbed first place for cocaine with 737,3 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, Amsterdam is not far behind with 716,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. Amsterdam usually makes this list no matter what’s in the water, and that also seems to go for Utrecht and Eindhoven.

Number two for cannabis is Barcelona with 165,7 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, but apparently it doesn’t even come close to Amsterdam that has 469,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. The top 5 in cannabis also includes Utrecht and Eindhoven respectively fourth and fifth, with Antwerp in third place.

Scandinavian cities are still more into speed, but the top city in Europe for speed is Antwerp. In the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the speed capital, while Eindhoven is second in Europe after Antwerp.

(Link: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, nos.nl, Photo: DEA)

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March 11, 2016

Imagine every street housing a Syrian family

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:17 pm

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Dutch stage director Marc Krone wrote a letter to his probably well-to-do Amsterdam neighbours to get them to think about helping Syrian families and it reads like the pitch of a television documentary. Krone breaks down facts about the numbers of refugees in all of Europe then asks would happen if every street in the Netherlands housed refugees.

Imagine: 30 people on [street 1] and on [street 2] put 50 euro a month for one year in a bank account – that’s 1500 euro. We find a place to live for 1500 euro in the neighbourhood and we rent it. We invite a Syrian family to live here. We help them learn Dutch, find work, and invite them at least twice over for a meal. By that time they’ve eaten 60 times with Dutch people, that’s eating out once a week and meeting people for them.

Wouldn’t you see this as a heavenly gift if you were on the run?

NEEDED:
– 30 people who believe in doing something
– A home [ed. flat]
– Good will

Krone thought up an idea that’s not bad and could also work as a documentary. I very much doubt they could find a flat in his neighbourhood, but they could find one elsewhere in smaller cities for sure. And there’s jokes to be made about the food part, from scaring the refugees off to feeding them food they may not want to eat, but that’s easily fixed. As well, helping a family may appeal more to certain segments of the population that seem to focus too much on the single refugee men to feed their negative commentary.

Regardless, Krone makes the refugee problem easier to understand on a local level, something that is tough to do by only looking at pictures of hordes of people and barbed wire fences in the media.

(Link: www.geenstijl.nl, Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Takeaway, some rights reserved)

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