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August 26, 2016

Alcohol served in children’s shop causes outrage

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 10:55 am

fairhills-fair-trade-wine-branko-collin

Earlier this year, having a drink at certain types of shops started as an experiment in January and February in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, after which some 40 odd smaller cities joined in. The idea is that you’re not supposed to drink somewhere that doesn’t have the proper license, but in the spirit of getting people to the shops, the rules were temporarily relaxed as a pilot project.

However, in the small city of Doetinchem, Gelderland the ‘blurring’ of the laws on alcohol has led to a questionable situation where booze is being served in a children’s clothing shop, which according to STAP, the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy, claims is crossing the line.

STAP is very much against this ‘blurring’ (the actual word used by the Dutch in English), even more so in a shop meant for kids. I do get the serving a drink at the hair salon and more adult clothing stores, but yeah, I don’t see any real good in serving booze to parents in a children’s clothing store other than getting them to buy more.

Then again, the local government claims that children do not go into the shop in question when alcohol is being served, as it is about evenings for special clients when nobody under 18 years of age can get it, which starts to make more sense.

Regardless, STAP is going to start writing ‘letters on legs’ to borrow a fantastic Dutch expression that means writing serious letters with threats to sue in them.

(Link: www.deondernemer.nl)

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August 14, 2016

Four Days Marches lottery inconsistency proven by maths

Filed under: General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 6:06 pm

Lottery-4daagse

Using probability theory, four students at the Institut Mines-Télécom in Paris penned a paper entitled ‘Failure is Also an Option’ to prove that the best chance of being allowed to participate in the 100th edition of the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen (aka ‘Nijmegen Vierdaagse’), which was held from 19-22 July 2016, was if one failed that year’s event.

The world’s most famous walking event attended by some 40,000 participants from around the world and featuring international armies and hardcore walkers alike, has a drop-out rate of about 10%.

Initially, the rules governing participation were the following: A walker who succeeds the n-th walk is admitted to walk at year (n + 1). Walkers who fail a walk enter a lottery. If they win the lottery, they get tickets to the walk. Walkers who fail two successive draws are admitted to the walk following the second lottery failure. In 2013, while computing our chances to be admitted to the centennial walk, we noticed a rather counterintuitive fact: By purposely failing the 97-th walk, walkers can actually increase their chances to attend the centennial walk.

We notified this inconsistency to the organisers and never got an answer, but the rules were subsequently changed.

(Link: www.improbable.com, image: www.ens-paris.fr)

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August 3, 2016

Buses renamed to sound more ‘Amsterdammy’

Filed under: Automobiles,General by Orangemaster @ 11:26 am

Sometime around 2013, Amsterdam’s city marketing people decided to rebrand ‘Muiderslot’ (‘Muiden Castle’) to ‘Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot’ to attract more tourists because they believe that if you put the word ‘Amsterdam’ in front of something, cash register sounds start ringing in your head, like a pleasant form of tinnitus. Maybe the name sounds close by or more fun, who knows. Muiderslot is in the town of Muiden now under the same municipality as Naarden (their beautiful fortress doesn’t need rebranding) and Bussum, also known as ‘not Amsterdam’.

Pseudo annexation of interesting tourist venues that are not Amsterdam remains awkward. Nobody calls the coastal cities of IJmuiden, Bloemendaal and Zandvoort ‘Amsterdam Beach’ but the city marketing people who thought that nonsense up. However, bus company Connexxion’s line 80 that goes to Zandvoort is being rebranded as the ‘Amsterdam Beach Line’ possibly because Amsterdam only has fake beaches and Connexxion hooked them up with a real one.

Also having jumped on the bandwagon apparently is the lake area between Amsterdam and Utrecht called ‘Loosdrechtse Plassen’, which is now the ‘Leisure Lakes’ (nope, not a direct translation), which sounds like a floating red light district. And there’s always the ‘Bulb Region’ closer to Haarlem that magically became the ‘Amsterdam Flower Strip’ also not used by anyone except the voices in someone’s head in charge of city marketing.

Picture a map of Amsterdam with everything around called ‘not Amsterdam’. In fact, many people would agree that’s how a lot of Amsterdam residents and unfortunately millions of tourists view the rest of the country.

In the spirit of ridiculous name changes, here are some other suggestions:

Cities close to Amsterdam like Amstelveen, Badhoeverdorp and Diemen that house a lot of expats (read: rich immigrants and migrants) should be called ‘Almost Amsterdam’, Amsterdam Airport Suites’ or just ‘Amsterdam’s suburbs’ and have their official names removed to cause less confusion.

The huge-ass flats in Amsterdam Zuidoost, which is its own district, could be rebranded as ‘Amsterdam Heights’ to have an excuse to hike up the rent of lesser wanted immigrants and migrants by sounding fancier.

Any other interesting towns like Zaandam, Haarlem and Abcoude better watch out before they get ‘Amsterdamized’ as well.

(Link: at5.nl, Photo of Muiderslot Castle by Coanri/Rita, some rights reserved)

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August 2, 2016

Rich neighbourhood upset about wheeled suitcases

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:30 am

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A few years ago, wheeled suitcases (‘rolkoffers’) became synonymous with ‘tourists’ or ‘damn, there’s an Airbnb next to my house’ for a lot of residents. The problem is the sound the wheels make on Amsterdam’s cobblestone streets and sidewalks, which apparently bothers folks in one fancy part of town.

Amsterdam’s current population is about 820,000, in a city that gets – wait for it – 15 million visitors a year. Quiz your friends about how many tourists they think Amsterdam gets every year and they’ll say a few million. By the way, the number keeps going up every year.

Residents in and around the Bickersgracht, a canal very close to Amsterdam Central Station where tourists stay have made two makeshifts signs ‘forbidding’ wheeled suitcases. We get it, you don’t like the sound of all those suitcases early in the morning heading out, but that’s not going to do shit about it.

One local man feels music should come out of the wheels to mask the sound of what actually is the fault of the cobblestone street area of town they live in rather than the suitcases. A rational suggestion from a local woman would be to indicate which hours in the day the locals don’t want to hear the rolling wheels and put that on the sign, but then this would mean you would need to enforce and then it all sounds futile again.

You’ll notice the picture taken here of what is probably a Dutch person going somewhere is on a smooth bike path that sounds way better than on cobblestone. How do other parts of the world tackle this problem? A quick Google search says that in 2014 Venice, a city that gets 22 million tourists a year, tried to ban wheeled suitcase with a fine of 500 euro (mamma mia!) but ended up not going through with it.

(Links: www.rtvnh.nl, www.amsterdam.info, edition.cnn.com, Photo: crop of a frame of a video called ‘What defines Dutch cycling?’ by Mark Wagenbuur)

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August 1, 2016

Student develops airbag for falling elderly

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 2:14 pm

elderly_man

Delft University of Technology related designer Heike Vallery together with Dutch startup WOLK have designed an airbag for falling elderly. As they fall a cushion fastened to their hips pops upon and softens the blow, reducing the chance of hip injuries.

Vallery and WOLK studied the fall algorithm that anticipates instability so that their airbag deploys on time. They claim that the airbag is comfortable to wear under most clothing and the cushions can deploy from the left, the right and the rear, as seen in this very short video. They are still at the prototype stage, but by 2017 they’ll have a working model.

(Link: www.scientias.nl, Photo by Frank Mayne, some rights reserved)

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July 22, 2016

Unicode accepts rainbow emoji flag petition

Filed under: General,History,Online by Orangemaster @ 1:51 pm

Thanks to lots of people including Amsterdam resident Maurice Beljaars who asked for a rainbow emoji flag, Unicode has approved the request for the flag. It won’t be ready for a while or in time for Amsterdam’s Gay Pride, but then people can use hashtags #EuroPride, #AmsterdamPride and #Joinourfreedom for Gay Pride from Saturday 23 July through 7 August.

According to Emojipedia, the gay pride flag features in the top 30 emoji requests collected on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo of Gay flag by sigmaration, some rights reserved)

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July 18, 2016

Lambertschaag sets new pole-sitting record

Filed under: Dutch first,General by Orangemaster @ 6:39 am
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On 17 July, 15 guys from Lambertschaag, North Holland came down from a pole where they had just spent the weekend sitting on, breaking the village’s pole-sitting record.

We conce wrote about a pole-sitting record in Friesland that was 60 hours, but with bathroom breaks. All 15 guys in Lambertschaag stayed sitting for 52 hours and 32 without any bathroom breaks. It had been 45 years since all participants made it until the end.

I have no clue why it’s only for men in this case, beside it being a tradition. If anybody knows, please enlighten us.

Here are some great pictures of pole-stting in the 1980s by Jaap Woets.

(Link www.rtvnh.nl)

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July 6, 2016

Opening the racist door: Monsieur Cannibale part deux

Filed under: General,History,Music by Orangemaster @ 9:02 am

The ball of this story got rolling back in 2014 when an American journalist was ‘shocked’ at an amusement park ride from De Efteling called ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ (French – new and improved explanation coming up) that features a black cannibal-like character with a bone through his nose cooking up unsuspecting children.

The racist door has now opened up as the Stop Oppressive Stereotypes (SOS) group published an open letter to the amusement park accusing it of featuring racist rides, one of which is Monsieur Cannibale and the other Carnaval Festival that features Asian stereotypes. However, Efteling asked SOS for a sit down and SOS haven’t responded yet – to be continued.

One side is telling the other to get a life and ideally a job and the other is having a ‘hey’ we never really saw things that way and it makes us feel uncomfortable moment, akin to the debate about Zwarte Piet. The Efteling says it mostly gets complaints about serving unhealthy food, but not about racist stereotypes.

I love Sacha Distel, the French singer and guitarist who sang this 1966 racist and sexist song that the Efteling chose to subject to children: it matches the ride perfectly in its bad taste. Distel’s song is about a white man captured in Africa by black cannibals who thought he was a spy, trying to politely plead the head cannibal (hence addressing him as Monsieur) not to eat him, but negotiates his way out of it by offering him porno magazines. The head cannibal laughs, brings the guy back to his harem for a week after which the guy lose 20 kilos and refuses to leave. The man basically shagged all the presumably black ladies who were all “hungry for it”.

Here’s a version of the song with a decent Dutch translation:

And since the French playback performance I posted in the original post was removed, here’s the same offensive performance sung in Spanish. He still pulls his eyes sideways to indicate the Chinese language at the beginning, so the Asian stereotypes are conveniently addressed by Distel as well.

(Photo: Photo of an Efteling dragon by Jeroen Kransen, some rights reserved)

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June 28, 2016

Dutchman petitions Unicode for rainbow emoji flag

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 6:00 am

Amsterdam resident Maurice Beljaars had first petitioned Twitter and then Unicode for a rainbow emoji flag, which would add a nice touch to any LGBTI-related news, instead of just using an ordinary rainbow.

Beljaars explains that the rainbow flag has been the international symbol of the gay community since the late 1970s. Unicode has already felt it was important to add recent emojis such as the croissant, cowboy and selfie, so why not the rainbow flag? Google employees have also recently made requests for emojis that better represent women in actual jobs rather than in superficial beauty situations and not too long ago many emojis with people in them became available in different skin tones.

(Link: www.nu.nl, Photo of Gay flag by sigmaration, some rights reserved)

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June 15, 2016

Shops open until 10pm in Eindhoven goes too far

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 10:24 am

Having some shops open until 10pm is something many people in the Netherlands, especially expats, don’t know the uphill battle it was and may have helped push through without knowing it. The fight to have any kind of shop open past the regular Dutch hours of 6pm was won about 10 years ago when Albert Heijn decided to have supermarkets in major cities open from 8am to 8pm, something if I remember correctly political party D66 (Democrats), a party that traditionally caters to expats, were very much in favour of. At the time it upset a lot of smaller shops that claimed they could not compete, the same argument used for shops not being open on Sundays, but without the sorry Christian excuse that usually comes with it.

Rob van Gijzel, the Mayor of Eindhoven (Labour) would love to accommodate the expat population of his city by having all matters of shops in the city centre open until 10pm. His goal is to make Eindhoven more attractive to ‘knowledge workers’ who come from cities with millions of residents and who aren’t used to shops closing at 6pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends, with the exception of ‘late night shopping nights’ until 9pm, usually Thursdays or Fridays. And of course this means the Dutch get to shop more conveniently as well. But the stakeholders are against the 10pm opening hours, saying “it’s a bridge too far”.

Back in 1996 when I came to work here as a PA for the summer, I lived in Delft and worked in Hoofddorp. I finished worked at about 17:30 and it was completely impossible to buy any supermarket food after 6pm: there were no Albert Heijn To Go’s at train stations back then. The Dutch would tell me to buy all my food for the week on Saturdays like everyone else, but how could I buy seven days’ worth of food for two (I had a roommate – we switched weeks) without a car or even a bike, never mind that our small student fridge couldn’t fit all the food? He had time during the day as a student – I didn’t.

Here’s what I had to do to get food for dinner: I would take the train to Hoofddorp as usual, but get off in Leiden since my connection was always a 25-minute wait. Supermarket chain Via (now defunct) was right next to the train station and open at 7am. Opening early was the trick back then to avoid the arguments about being open late. I would have 25 minutes to shop for dinner and catch my train to get to work. Then I would go to the office’s restaurant and ask to use their fridge to store my food. They laughed, but understood my logic. I’d bring the food home in the train and have food for dinner.

When I told my roommate how retarded opening hours were as compared to what I knew he said it will change some day, and it did. It could change some more though, so yes 10pm for at least food would make a lot of our lives easier and provide more jobs to people. Yes, some supermarkets are open until 10pm now, thanks to Albert Heijn and expats whinging about it. Go Eindhoven!

(Link: www.deondernemer.nl, Photo of an endive potato mash with meatless sausage by Jasja Dekker, some rights reserved)

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