About a year ago Dordrecht opened the first modern day baby hatch for women in dire situations to be able to drop off their unwanted babies safely as foundlings. Online news source Dichtbij.nl says that Groningen and Papendrecht each have one as well. The provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant will soon be opening baby hatches, and there are plans to open some in more prominent places such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Maastricht.
Currently Dutch law forbids abandoning babies for them to be adopted as foundlings and Child Protection Services agrees, claiming children have the right to know who their parents are. The government has no plans to close down, stop or pursue anyone who would abandon a baby in these places, so the government will remain inert on the issue for now.
Sadly, an alternative that occasionally makes the news is when a child has been left in the forest or in a rubbish bin.
(Link: www.bbc.co.uk, Illustration by Leonardo da Vinci)
Tags: Amsterdam, babies, baby hatch
Traditional fishing village Volendam is the butt of jokes for many things including hard drugs and ‘palingsound’ (‘eel sound’), a type of pop music from Volendam, referring to their smoked eel speciality. Then there’s the New Year’s Eve fire of 2000 where fresh pine trees branches (yup, illegal) were used as decoration on the ceiling of a cafe overflowing with people that caught fire because of a sparkler and caused deaths and serious injuries.
Nevertheless, the jokes about inbred villagers aren’t jokes. Three quarters of locals who want to have children get themselves checked out for a total of four hereditary diseases. One out of three villagers is a carrier, and if two carriers get together, that’s a 25% chance of hitting the jackpot. The 22,000 villagers all come from the same seven to twenty original families that settled the village, which explains many of the health issues, but not their ‘eel sound’.
‘Palingpop’ as the music is also called, started in the mid 1960s with easy listening tunes that resembled the American and British bands of the era. The term was coined by a radio station (video in Dutch) that would receive smoked eel as a present every time someone from Volendam would visit them. Acts such as The Cats and BZN as well as more contemporary singers such as Jan Smit and Nick & Simon are quite famous throughout the country and beyond.
(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo of Volendam by quantz, some rights reserved)
Tags: eel, palingpop, palingsound, smoked eel, Volendam
Dutch-American company Axim is working on the world’s first medicinal marijuana chewing gum, which will be produced in Almere, Flevoland. It should be on the market in two years and it is currently being tested on Dutch patients who have chronic pain due to multiple sclerosis. This special chewing gum will work like nicotine gum, with the cannabis being absorbed slowly by the body in some 20 minutes.
You can easily buy ‘nutraceutical’ chewing gum that contains cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of pot, but Axim plans to make chewing gum with THC in it, the psychoactive ingredient of pot for patients who suffer chronic pain from many different medical conditions.
(Links: www.foodlog.nl, www.in-pharmatechnologist.com)
Tags: Almere, cannabis, Flevoland, marijuana
Amsterdam-based entrepreneur Martijn Wismeijer had two NFC chips injected into his hands earlier this month, The Telegraph writes.
The chips are to act as encrypted Bitcoin wallets. Wismeijer is the owner of Mr. Bitcoin, a company that distributes and operates ATMs for the currency.
Wismeijer told The Telegraph, “Most doctors will not want to install the implant so a body manipulation artist (preferably not just tattoo artist or piercer) will be your next best bet. Make sure they work according to strict hygiene codes and know what they are doing.”
Parool adds that Rockstart in Amsterdam (a start-up accelerator) hosted an implant session yesterday where one could have a sub-dermal NFC chip injected for about 130 euro. Wismeijer told the newspaper that currently about 2000 people have such implants.
It’s not clear from the articles whether Wismeijer uses the chips to store Bitcoins, keys to unlock Bitcoins or something else.
Check the Telegraph for a video in which the question “does it hurt” is answered. Too scared / don’t want to? Martijn Wismeijer told Parool: “They were the biggest needles I’ve ever seen.”
(Photo by BTC Keychain, some rights reserved)
Tags: Bitcoin, Bitcoins, NFC, wallets
Last year 42 people with a psychiatric disorder were euthanized in the Netherlands.
This is a sharp increase from 14 deaths in 2012 and is in fact more than all euthanasia deaths for psychiatric patients combined since euthanasia was legalised in 2002.
According to Edith Schippers, the Minister of Health, the increase of deaths is caused by a greater willingness of psychiatrists to grant a patient’s request for euthanasia, De Correspondent writes. The committee that checks euthanasia deaths for due care expects the numbers to settle at this level. Several doctors questioned by De Correspondent believe there was a taboo on euthanasia in the field of psychiatry that is now slowly ebbing away.
The six criteria for due care state, amongst others, that sufferers must be of sound mind and without hope of getting better in order to be euthanized. These criteria make it extra difficult for sufferers of psychiatric disorders to have their wish for euthanasia granted.
Some of the problems that are either unique to psychiatry or just more prevalent than in other fields of medicine:
- The death wish can be part of the disorder.
- Patients are often younger, making it harder to determine that their situation is without hope.
- Psychiatric disorders are rarely lethal and treatment, even if only palliative, is often possible.
- Conditions like depression can make a patient’s own estimate of their chances more pessimistic than warranted.
See also: Dutch death clinic working at full capacity.
This fall Amsterdam opened a Hangover Information Center (HIC) in the Red Light District. Besides being very well lit but not too bright, it actually offers party-goers serious scientific information about how to prevent a hangover.
The HIC also sells RESET drinks at 5 euro a pop.
“After drinking alcohol the body needs additional water and food supplements, including vitamins and amino acids. RESET contains a combination of selected vitamins and amino acids as well as choline, which supports the liver’s clearing activity.”
Parool says the drink tastes bitter and the extra powder that needs to be added tastes salty. As long as you drink the product together with the same amount of water and alternate, it should do the trick. However, it does seem a lot to ask of someone before they go to bed drunk. You could also try and drink less, as the effects of a hangover are your body trying to send you a clear message about what you’re pouring into yourself.
(Link: www.amsterdamredlightdistricttour.com, Photo: Hangover Information Center)
Tags: alcohol, hangover, water
Belgian engineering student Alec Momont, a graduate at the Delft University of Technology, has developed an ‘ambulance drone’, a defibrillator which can fly at 100 km/h able to reach heart attack victims very quickly. It uses the GPS of emergency calls to navigate.
This drone or ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’ (UAV), can get a defibrillator to a patient within a 12 km2 zone within a minute, reducing the chance of survival from 8 percent to 80 percent. Momont explains that it is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes, which makes the fatality rate so high.
I’m easily convinced. It reminds me of an evening in the pub recently chatting outdoors and watching an ambulance trying to find an address in Amsterdam West with their GPS but having to ask us for directions. The police was following them, got lost as well and asked us for those same directions. I’m sure that wasted at least 10 minutes.
One drone is expected to cost around 15,000 euro and could also carry other medical tools.
Tags: Delft University of Technology, drone
Sport experts from the University Medical Center Groningen and the University of Groningen have concluded that girls between the ages of 13 and 19 don’t do enough sports at school. The problem is that the emphasis is on sports that require balls (football, basketball and volleyball, etc.) and not on what girls actually would like to be doing like dancing, zumba or horseback riding (not all that posh here). Schools seem to be pushing competitive group sports and the girls seem to want individual sports, at least in this article.
What do some experts suggest? Separating the boys and the girls for gym class, which goes against many principles and proper social integration.
Here’s a crazy idea: what about offering something girls would actually like and making the boys follow suit for a change? Is pushing an outdated agenda that makes girls unhappy but keeps boys busy really a proper option?
If I had my way, I’d get all the girls and the boys who want to join on roller skates because it’s super fun and trendy. Or more skip rope, if that is not already being done because boys can pretend they are training to be boxers and girls can show off and even play in groups like at recess.
More co-ed suggestions? Boxing, kick boxing, aerobics, yoga, capoeira, ice skating, you name it.
But for the love of future generations experts have to stop acting like what boys do and want is normal and what girls want is some sort of problem to be solved. I won’t even get into the boys who would rather do something else for a change, either.
Tags: football, girls, Groningen, roller skates, University of Groningen
The youth wing of the Democrats 66 (aka D66) has announced plans to hand out free ecstasy (XTC) pills in some big cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht over the next two weeks. The goal is to demonstrate that it is better to take XTC freely, as in, still illegal but turning a blind eye to it like with marijuana and other ‘soft drugs’ than ingest bad quality pills. Since XTC often needs to be tested, some of us are thinking, ‘well just don’t use it then’, but the reality is people will continue to do so and some will die.
With King’s Day around the corner and festival season about to kick off, D66 wants to make drug use safer and have it regulated rather than remain illegal and hazardous even deadly for people’s health. Since everything has a price, these free pills will be covered by excise taxes, or duties.
If anyone out there gets pills from D66, we’d love to know because that’s a bold move. I bet some people are going to try it for the first time or sell them.
UPDATE: Reading more sources, the pills are fake ones, but D66 first reported as if they were real.
(Link: frontpage.fok.nl, Photo: DEA)
Tags: D66, drugs, ecstasy, xtc
The Dutch state owes 20,000 women who were self-employed and pregnant between 2004 and 2008 maternity leave benefits. NRC wrote yesterday that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has ordered so.
The committee was the last court of appeals for the Clara Wichmann legal fund, having first been denied by all Dutch courts including the Supreme Court. Like most countries in the world, the Netherlands has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women which includes an article on the right to paid maternity leave.
The Clara Wichmann fund tries to improve the position of women in society through test cases. According to Volkskrant, until 2004 the self-employed had obligatory insurance against income loss because of pregnancy and illness and since 2008 the unemployment office pays out so-called ZEZ benefits (Zwanger En Zelfstandig, meaning ‘pregnant and self-employed’).
(Photo by Frank de Kleine, some rights reserved)
Tags: discrimination, human rights, pregnancy, United Nations, workplace equality